anCnoc 18yo, 46%

It’s been ages since I tried an anConc, and this one wasn’t recent either. Last year, when I was still a member of the Usquebaugh Society, I participated in the Blind Tasting Competition, and this was dram number one.

Of course, no information was given and I don’t think I participated on the right days, but I did go through all the samples eventually.

This is the official 18 year old anCnoc, from KnockDhu distillery in the Highlands of Scotland. However, based on the map, I’d have called it a Speyside. It matured in bourbon and sherry casks and was bottled in 2014.


Image from Whiskybase


Lots of barley, slightly dry and with a little bit of oak. A bit light on the nose, and rather simple. Some twigs and old leaves.

Light, slightly dry and grain driven. Lots of barley, husk, dusty. Some oak, hessian, very old fashioned.

Here it gets a bit deeper, a bit more complex with some dry spices, oak and hessian. Not too short.

The finish livens up a bit. It cannot really eliminate what came before, which was a bit bland. I guess that even though anCnoc has a pretty good reputation in my book, the regular releases are just a bit ‘regular’. Their single casks, vintages and older releases are pretty stellar, but this is a bit more accommodating to less experienced drinkers. A good whisky, but nothing stellar.

At € 75/80 it’s priced pretty decently. Although most shops have it at a higher price point.


anCnoc 18, bottled in 2014, 46%.

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Ben Nevis 27, 1990-2018, 58.9% – Le Gus’t

Be warned, this is going to be one of those contrary reviews that I’ve been doing lately.

When I did the Ben Nevis bottle-share, almost 18 months ago, I also picked up this port pipe ‘finished’ 27 year old with rather high expectations. Finished is between quotes, since the sherry maturation that came before it was 12 years, which means the finish was 15 years and the larger part of the maturation.

Now, about port finishes. There have been some great ones in the past, but as with the Blair Athols from The Ultimate a few years ago, there are quite some bottlings out there that ‘people’ like a lot and I just can’t wrap my head around. This is one of them.

I was a bit warned when it turned out to be a pink whisky. As with the Laphroaig Cairdeas port-thingy from a few years back, that’s a warning!


Image from Whiskybase

Almost like very sweet grenadine on the nose. Rhubarb, strawberries, not very whisky-like.

Lots of alcohol heat. Again very sweet with red fruits and sugary rhubarb compote. A bit of sharp oak and more and more burn.

Ramps up the sweetness, while a burning sensation lingers. Warms you up, but doesn’t do much for the flavor.

I expected way more than this. I can’t say I like this whisky. It’s very sweet and more like a boozy fruit compote than a whisky with a twist. It’s one of the port cask maturations in which the port and the port cask completely took over and there’s not much distillery character (if any) to be found. Big fat bummer!


Ben Nevis 27yo, 1990-2018, Port Pipe #5, 58.9%. Available in Germany for € 229

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Imperial 1995-2013, 17yo, 51.2% – Creative Whisky Co., Tony Koehl Series

The Tony Koehl Series is a short series (four bottlings, if I’m not mistaken) by David Stirk, when he still owned The Creative Whisky Company. He doesn’t anymore since last year. I don’t know what happened with it, but when I was at Maltstock last year, people were very surprised by the announcement.

Anyway, Imperial is always an odd whisky, in my book. It’s a single malt but it somehow often is as sweet as a grain whisky, but with more depth and complexity. Also, it’s a closed distillery and in its place Dalmunach distillery has risen. The last one is mostly used for blended whiskies and was opened in 2014. Since the goal is to produce bulk whisky there, it’s unlikely we’re to see a single malt from these stills anytime soon.


Image from Whiskybase

Glue? Thinner? Nail polish? Something highly chemical. After a while a scent of grist and dusty grain stores picks up.

Some apples and pears, some oak and quite some alcohol heat. It’s slightly hot and dry, with straw and hay, some black pepper too.

Some licorice on the finish. Dry with hard candy, pear drops. Straw, barley, oak and black pepper, to a lesser degree.

The sweet candy notes combined with hints of glue on the nose make for a rather typical Imperial. These notes are not necessarily a bad thing, but not everyone enjoys this style. I quite did, and it’s a bit of a look into the past with this distillery being closed now, and being a rather unique one. Good stuff!


Imperial 1995-2013, 17yo, Cask 50079, 51.2%, Creative Whisky Company, The Tony Koehl Series. Only available in the secondary market, starting at € 300!

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Longrow 18, 1999-2018, 52.9% – OB from the Cage

Longrow, the ‘peated-to-Islay-levels’ version of Springbank with a slightly shorter distillation regime, is one of their three brands. With it being a Springbank whisky, it means they have cage bottles available at the shop in Campbeltown.

When I was there in 2018 I picked up some, and I *think* this one was one of them. I reviewed it a while ago, but I forgot to write the origin of the sample/bottle down, and I didn’t take a picture. Look at me being meticulous…

Anyway, I was in Campbeltown in June as well, but didn’t buy anything. All they had in the Cage was the leftovers from the Campbeltown Festival of Malts, which were either 6 or 10 year old Springbank and Hazelburn whiskies, from refill bourbon casks. Not necessarily a bad thing, but with the Cadenhead Warehouse Tasting coming up, I didn’t want to spend my money beforehand.

But this one, an 18 year old Longrow, which, as with Cage bottles, was quite affordable, is something else entirely. If something like this would have been available, I wouldn’t have kept all my money in my pocket, so to say.

What I do find interesting is that this bottle is on Whiskybase, by someone else. I always figured these Cage bottles were one-ofs, but it seems they draw several bottles from each cask. Or there was a sister cask with the exact same info and ABV, but that’s unlikely.


Image from Whiskybase

Salty smoke. Smoked fish in port, maybe even smoked ham. Sand and brine and a fireplace. Quite some oak, and lots of minerals. Iron, slate, apple, cement.

Pretty sharp, but mostly because it’s pretty strong. No excessive alcohol or chili heat. Oak, leafy forests on the shore. So still coastal with salinity, brine and smoke. More clearly peat smoke now.

The finish carries on in much the same way. The oak gets a bit sweeter with some more vanilla, some stewed apple, pear.

This, dear reader, is everything you want from a Longrow whisky. It’s not a life changing event, drinking this, but there’s a lot of good stuff happening that I wouldn’t mind drinking an entire bottle of this (not in one go, obviously).

The coastal notes are strong, but there’s enough distillery character and cask influence to add depth and other flavors. The peat is definitely present, but with some minerals and fruit added, this becomes a rather quintessential Longrow.


Longrow 1999-2018, 18yo, Refill Bourbon Hogshead from Rotation 498, 52.9%. Only available at the Cadenhead shop in Campbeltown.

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Hazelburn 2005-2018, 54.6% – Cadenhead Authentic Collection

When I bought this bottle I figured it would be a slam dunk because Springbank is a great distillery, and Cadenhead is a great bottler. Also, when you check the almost 87 points it gets on Whiskybase, you’re still good.

Of course, this introduction wouldn’t make much sense if I agreed with the stated assumptions. This is one of those weird flukes where I just can’t bring myself to like the whisky. Something’s weird and it just doesn’t sit right with my palate.

Hazelburn being triple distilled Springbank, more or less, made me highly enthusiastic about this bottle and generally I really like their releases. The same goes for Longrow and also Glengyle, although that’s from an entirely different set of stills.

Let’s just get to what’s what first.


Image from Whiskybase

Dry bourbon cask. Lots of very dry oak, with leafy barley oars. Straw, but also detergent, and herbs. Some hints of lavender later on.

Again, dry herbs, almost potpourri, with lavender and roses. Quite dry with oak, some apple, straw and barley.

The finish is even more dry and shows a lot of fiery heat from the alcohol. A rather short finish.

Apart from the hints of detergent, this would have been quite a likable dram. However, I think the hints of fresh laundry were the only culprit in me disliking this one a lot. There’s not much else going on and all the flavors are ramped up in such a way that it all tastes rather conflicting.

A shame, but as it seems, I’m one of the few people who dislike this one. And I’ve given it lots of tries, with me going through almost half a bottle before selling the remainder of it.


Hazelburn 2005-2018, 13yo, Bourbon Barrel, 54.6% – Cadenhead Authentic Collection. Available through Cadenhead in Italy.

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Copper & Kings Butchertown Brandy, 62%

I guess there’s a first for everything. In this case a first American brandy, distilled in a hotbed of bourbon distilleries: Louisville, Kentucky.

The brandy was matured in bourbon casks for an unknown amount of years, but we know it’s over two years old. If not, the label would have to state ‘immature brandy’. According to the interwebs this brandy was sourced from external producers and matured for 90% in old bourbon casks, the remaining 10% was matured in new oak barrels.

I’ve found it only available at The Whisky Exchange where it will set you back a whopping £ 90, which is absolutely not cheap. However, I really wanted to try it after reading a lot of cool things about the distillery. Also, when I ordered it, I planned to use it for an ‘American themed’ whisky tasting I hosted last year, however, it arrived a few days late.

Quite a lot of vanilla and fruit distillate. Sharpness, oak, lots of grape jam, figs even.

Sweet, quite syrupy with a lot of dry alcohol heat following. Numbing because of the alcohol too. Lots of fruit. Dry cinnamon dust, lots of baking spices.

The finish has a nice afterburner. Major notes of grape skin, raisins, twigs. Not too long though.

This is a belter of a drink, not something to knock back. Although, I guess the 62% ABV would have told you so as well. The spices in combination with the fruit drive distillate work very well and give you a proper brandy feeling, although it’s not similar to Armagnac. It’s far too rough for that, but not in a bad way. I thoroughly enjoyed this bottle and went through it in little over a year. Most people I gave it to enjoyed it too.


Copper & Kings Butchertown Brandy, 62%

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Glen Scotia 2005-2017, 58.2% – Distillery Only

This bottle I picked up after the awesome tour and tasting at the distillery almost two years ago. I then got home and saw my credit card bill and decided to bottle-share a significant part of the haul from Scotland, including half of this bottle.

I got greedy when I was there, and it cost me, in a way. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but it is a lesson for when I’m in Scotland in April. I have to be careful with what I buy, since money is limited and if I buy good stuff, I want it for myself…

Anyway, this limited edition bottled in 2017, only for sale at the distillery clocked in at a not insignificant £ 110, which I find pretty steep for an 11 year old whisky, even if it is a distillery only bottling. Maybe even because it’s a distillery only bottling. About a decade ago going to a distillery was not as common as it is now, and a distillery only thing was generally a very well priced bottling since there are a lot less people trying to make a profit, and (at least to me) it was a bit of a ‘thanks for taking the effort to come here’ item.

Things have changed. These bottles are prized even though a lot of them are far from interesting nowadays. This one, however, even though expensive, was very interesting to me. And, especially since visiting the place and buying this bottle and the other distillery only available back then, made me fall in love with Glen Scotia.


Image from Whiskybase

Somehow, with the first careful sniff I get a whiff of farmyard and manure. Then there’s a lot of fresh fruit with hints of banana, peach, and maybe some kiwi. In the background there’s sweet barley sugar and the sweetness of oak.

Somehow, quite a lot sharper than the Springbank Local Barley I had before, while they’re at a similar ABV. Dry fruity notes with oak and barley. Slightly less fruity than before. Peach, banana, stewed apple and sweet pear.

The finish has a bit of an afterburner, with quite some heat from the alcohol. When it wanes you get a lot of fruity notes of the peaches and banana from before. The strange thing is that they keep the middle between dried and fresh fruit.

Well, this is another cracker! The fruity notes with the ‘rustic’ notes on the nose of farms, sheep, that kind of stuff made me love this whisky. While not in any way comparable, these notes are also what makes Brora Brora, and I think that, in a way, Glen Scotia has a lot to offer if this is the direction they’re going!


Glen Scotia 11yo, 2005-2017, cask 818, 58.2%. Available only at the distillery back then. Now in the secondary market for € 169.

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