Bunnahabhain 1989 C&S Review

“Old of Age but Young in Spirit”

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bunnahabhain 1989 C & S Dram Collection - Dram Senior Series
Bottled by: Scottish Whisky Centre Ltd, Hilton, Bankfoot, Perth 
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 24 Years
ABV: 45.8 %

Colour: Light Golden

Nose: Heather Honey, Perfumed Soap, Herbs, Varnish, Orchard Fruit, Straw, Butterkekse, Toasted Barley, Brine, light Peat, light Smoke, Mandarin, Lemon Peel, Oak, Demerara Sugar, Toffee, light Vanilla, Wet Stones and Pineapple in Syrup. The Alcohol is not fully integrated. I like the subtle interaction between the light Peat, the light Smoke and the Brine with the other Aromas. The Nose is not bad but the rather strong Varnish note spoils a bit of the fun.

Palate: Sweet, Salty and Herbal with light Peat, light Smoke, Toasted Oak, Buttered Toast, Barley, Vanilla, Citrus, Dried Herbs, Hay, Espresso, Pepper, light Licorice, light Cinnamon and Mineral tones. 

Finish: Middle-Long and Warming with slightly Bitter Oak, Dirty Earth, light Smoke, Pepper, Salt, Cardamom, Licorice, Hay, Buttered Toast, Heather Honey, Vanilla, Toffee and a hint of Menthol.   

I added a couple of drops of water. The Nose becomes quite Floral and I also find some Grapefruit. Palate and Finish become a little Creamier. You can certainly experiment with a couple of drops!

Rating: 83

Nose: 21 - Taste: 20 - Finish: 21 - Overall: 21

General Remarks: The Single Cask Bunnahabhain 1989 I'm tasting today was distilled on October 20, 1989, matured in an Ex-Bourbon Hogshead with Cask # 5710 and was bottled at Cask Strength on September 8, 2014 for German based Indie Bottler C&S (Caminneci) in their Dram Senior Collection. It is naturally coloured and Non Chill-Filtered. It sells at around 105 US Dollars.

Bunnahabhain (Mouth or Foot of the River) Distillery was founded around 1881 and is located close to Port Askaig. Usually, the Distillery dries the Malt with hot air or light Smoke, giving their whisky a more subtle flavour then most of its Peated neighbours on the island. 

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion: Quite Fresh for a 24 Years old Single Malt. I didn't find any Musty or Dusty elements. The light Smoke and light Peat work nicely together with some of the other Aromas and Flavours. I would have scored this higher but for the strong Varnish note on the Nose. I also find the Palate a little too Herbal. The Finish is quite nice and warming though. All in all a very decent Single Malt at a reasonable price considering its age.   

Jan van den Ende                                                                       July 27, 2015

Glenburgie 10 Years Review

“Glenburgie United 5 – Ballantine’s FC 2”

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside 
Brand: Glenburgie (Gordon & MacPhail)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 10 Years
ABV: 40 %

Colour: Amber

Nose: A combination of fine Sherry, Fruit and fat Barley. I find Toasted Grain, Dried Fruits, Citrus Zest, Straw, Stone - and Red Fruit, Stewed Apples, Vanilla Sauce, Toffee, light Honey, Butterkekse and some Fresh Herbs. The Wood combines well with the other Aromas and the Alcohol is sufficiently integrated. It's not an extremely complicated Nose but it's pleasant and well-balanced. After a while in the glass I believe to detect a hint of Sulphur but it's not enough to spoil the Nosing fun. Some Floral notes as well.   

Taste: Creamy and mostly Sweet but with a little Bitterness in the back of the glass. I find Red Grapes, Dried Fruits, Nuts, Toasted Barley, Butterscotch, light Honey, Vanilla, Citrus, Straw, light Licorice, light Pepper and light Cinnamon.   

Finish: Short, Dry and slightly Bitter Sweet with Orange Juice, Grapefruit Juice, Toasted Barley, Fresh Coconut Water, light Pepper, light Cinnamon, Vanilla, Licorice and Oak. 

I added a few drops of Water and Vanilla, Barley and Oak start to dominate the Nose. Palate and Finish do not need the extra Water but you can add a few drops if you like.

Rating: 84   

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 21

General Remarks: The Glenburgie distillery was founded as Kilnflat in 1810 by William Paul. It only became Glenburgie in 1878 and is located in Glenburgie, Forres (Morayshire). It exchanged hands a couple of times before being bought by Chivas Brothers (Pernod Ricard) in 2005. Glenburgie is one of the principal malts in Ballantine's. The only official distillery bottling is the 17 Years Cask Strength. For other expressions we have to look to Independent Bottlers and the Glenburgie 10 Years I'm tasting today was selected by - and bottled under the responsibility of Gordon and MacPhail of Elgin. I bought the 5 cl miniature bottle at the G&McP Shop in Elgin last year May. It shows that this Glenburgie was bottled in 2013. It matured in a mix of First Fill and Refill Ex-Sherry Casks and costs around 45 US Dollars (July 2015).  

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion: I was pleasantly surprised by this Glenburgie 10 Years. It's not a spectacular Single Malt but it's well-made and well-balanced, especially on the Nose. The Finish is a bit Short and slightly messy but all in all the Price-Quality ratio is excellent. This is a great day to day Malt and an excellent place to start your Whisky experience. It's a pity that so many Glenburgie spirit is "lost" in the Pernod Ricard Blends. Because this Glenburgie 10 Years by Gordon & MacPhail shows that this Spirit has Single Malt potential. I for one prefer this Glenburgie over the Standard Ballentine's any time of the day!

Jan van den Ende                                                                       July 23, 2015

Auchentoshan 1998 CWC Review

“Another One Bites The Dust”

Country: Scotland
Region: Lowlands 
Brand: Auchentoshan 1998 (Creative Whisky Company - The Exclusive Malts)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 13 Years
ABV: 56,5 %

Colour: Pale Gold

Nose: The Auchentoshan 1998 is a Single Malt of course but at first I get an Aroma that is similar to a Single Grain Whisky. After a while the Nose opens up and Fruity and Flowery notes pop up. I'm quite sure this Spirit matured in an Ex-Bourbon Cask. I find Barley and Cereals in general, Butterkekse, Straw, Oak, Grass, Vanilla, Dusty Road, Perfumed Soap, Nectarine, Pineapple, Lemon and a sprinkle of Cinnamon. The Nose is a bit timid. The Alcohol is not fully integrated.

Taste: Orchard Fruit, Perfumed Soap, Toffee, light Vanilla, Straw, Grass, Grain, Dried Herbs, light Licorice, Pepper, Ginger, Cinnamon, Oak and Lemon. The ABV seems to be a bit high for this Spirit.

Finish: Middle-Long and Edgy with Dried Herbs, Oak, Toffee, Pepper, Ginger Powder and a hint of Varnish.  

I added a few drops of Water and on the Nose I get some Peach and extra Barley. Palate and Finish do not benefit from the added Water 

Rating: 80.5  

Nose: 21 - Taste: 20 - Finish: 19.5 - Overall: 20

General Remarks: The Auchentoshan 1998 CWC I'm tasting today was distilled on the 2nd of December 1998 and matured in Cask # 102387. This Single Cask Malt was bottled at Cask Strength in 2012 by Indie Bottler CWC (The Creative Whisky Company) in their Exclusive Malts series. It is Uncoloured and not Chill- Filtered. It sells at around 70 US Dollars (July 2015). 

The Auchentoshan distillery was founded in 1823 and is located in Dalmuir, close to Glasgow. It exchanged hands a couple of times before being bought by Morrison (Bowmore) in 1984. Morrison of course was bought by Suntory from Japan in 1994. From then on the distillery has become very popular again. It's one of the few remaining Lowland distilleries and it's the only Scottish one that maintains triple distillation.

The Creative Whisky Company was founded in 2005 by David Kirk, a whisky connoisseur and writer. CWC specialises in Scottish Single Cask Malt Whiskies. All casks are selected by David himself. The expressions in the Exclusive Malt series are all bottled at Cask Strength. Every year only around 20 casks are selected to become an Exclusive Malt.  

Drinking Experience Neat: Average

Conclusion: Auchentoshan is not one of my favourite distilleries so far. And this 1998 CWC bottling does nothing to change my mind. The Nose is okay with Fruits, Cereals and Perfume but Palate and Finish don't impress me at all with lots of Herbs and Spicy Oak and a hint of Varnish. The Alcohol is very present everywhere. This spirit would probably benefit from a slightly lower ABV. A lot of people like this Distillery so perhaps the problem lies with me. But I would not dream of spending 70 US Dollars or so on a Malt like this. Just let me know any Auchentoshan expressions you would recommend!

Jan van den Ende                                                                       July 20, 2015

Jameson 2015 Review

“King Without A Crown”

Country: Ireland
Brand: Jameson
Type: Blended Irish Whiskey
Age: NAS. The distillery puts it around 7 Years.
Alcohol: 40%

Colour: Pale Gold

Nose: Light and Sweet but not unpleasant with Sweet Grains, Toasted Oak, Barley, Buttered Toast, Resin, Toffee, Honey, light Vanilla, light Sherry, Orange Marmalade, Canned Peach, Roasted Nuts, Hay, Dried Herbs, Cinnamon and Ginger. There is a light Metallic Note in the back and the Alcohol is not at all integrated. I noticed that I'm better able now to describe exactly what I'm smelling when I compare my notes with my earlier Review from October 2011. The scoring for the Nose remains the same though. 

Taste: Sweet Sugared Grains, Toast, Resin, Refill Oak, slightly Bitter Nuts, Hay, Pear Drops, slightly Sour Orange Juice, Herbal Tea, Toffee, light Vanilla, light Honey, Alcohol, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger and a hint of Milk Chocolate. 

Finish: Middle-Long. The Alcohol burns a bit. I find Sweet Grains, Butterscotch, Toffee, light Vanilla, light Honey, Refill Oak, Dusty Road, Nuts, Cinnamon and Pepper. It's a little Bitter towards the end.

Rating: 78.5

Nose: 20.5 – Taste: 19.5 – Finish: 19 – Overall: 19.5

Stills at the Old Jameson Distillery Museum

General Remarks: The Old Jameson distillery was founded in 1780. Today this Whiskey is produced at the Middleton Distillery. This Blend contains both Malt - and Grain Whiskey and matures in a mix of Ex-Bourbon, Ex-Sherry and Ex-Port Casks. Jameson is Triple-Distilled and it's the best selling Irish Whiskey world-wide. It's not expensive at around 30 US Dollars per bottle. (July 2015).

No need to add Water to this Blend. 

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Okay 

Conclusion: The good thing about the Jameson Standard Expression is that it’s not an expensive Whiskey. It’s also slightly better in my opinion than most of the cheaper Scottish blends such as Johnny Walker Red Label, White Horse, Grant’s Family Reserve, Ballantine’s Finest, Chivas 12 Years and Dewar’s White Label. So it scores high when it comes to value for money. On the other hand, I like to see things happen in a Whiskey and that’s not the case here. Too much Sweet Grain, Toffee, Refill Wood, Resin, Alcohol and Spices and very little else. But if you're looking for a cheap and reasonable Blend you might give it a chance. I actually slightly increased the final rating when compared to 2011. This is mainly the result of the fact that my Palate has developed over the years and I am more able to detect Flavours and Aromas. Still, it's a pity that lots of people measure Irish Whiskey on the basis of this Jameson. Whatta Mistake to Make! Please try some Red Breast or Green Spot and you'll know what I mean. Then you'll realise that the Jameson Standard is merely a King Without a Crown!

Jan van den Ende                                                                       July 17, 2015

Ballantine's Finest 2015 Review

“My Funny Ballantine”

Country: Scotland
Brand: Ballantine’s Finest
Type: Blended Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol: 40%

Colour: Pale Gold

Nose: Young, Light and Thin. A little Sweet Fruit like Red Apples or Peach. I also find Sugared Breakfast Cereals, light Honey, Toffee, Caramel, Butterscotch, light Citrus Peel, some Dried Fruits and Nuts, Floral notes like Heather, Grass and Straw and a faint hint of Smoke. The Alcohol is not integrated and stings every once in a while. I nosed this in 2011 as well and I must confess I like it a little better this time.  

Taste: Thin and Watery Delivery with Toasted Cereals, Charred Refill Oak, light Vanilla, Sugar, Toffee, Butterscotch, Grass, Straw, Apple, Licorice and Pepper.

Finish: Short and Sugary Sweet with Toffee, Caramel, Butterscotch, Pop Corn, Nuts, light Vanilla, Grass, Charred Oak, Licorice and Pepper.

Rating: 74.5 

Nose: 19.5 – Taste: 18.5 – Finish: 18 – Overall: 18.5


General Remarks: This Blended Whisky was created in 1910 by the Ballantine's Family. Miltonduff and Glenburgie are the main Single Malts in this blend but there are said to be around 50 Whiskies in all present here, including 4 Grain Whiskies. It's one of the best selling Blends in the world. It's quite cheap at around 30 US Dollars (July 2015).

No need to add Water to this Blend. It's already Thin enough as it comes.

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Okay

Conclusion: This Blend gets some fine reviews from people like Jim Murray and I still fail to see why. I must admit that I liked it a bit better now than back in 2011. Maybe my Palate has developed or the Blend changed a bit over the years. Or both. I got a light Smoky note on the Nose that wasn't there in 2011. Or at least I did not notice it at that time. My final score is slightly higher than it was in 2011. The Nose is okay for a Blend in this class but Palate and Finish are quite Thin, Watery and Boring. Even on the rocks I wasn't too impressed with this Blend. I found the Sugar and Licorice rather annoying. So what can I say? At 30 US Dollars a bottle you can not expect to enter into the Whisky Heaven. As indeed you don't with Ballantine's Finest!

Jan van den Ende                                                                       July 15, 2015


The Ileach Peaty Review

“The Boy From Islay”

Country: Scotland 
Region: Islay
Brand: The Ileach Peaty
Bottler: The Highlands & Islands Scotch Whisky Co.Ltd., Glasgow (The Vintage Malt Whisky Co.)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS (Likely around 5 Years)
ABV: 40 %

Colour: Light Amber with shades of Orange

Nose: Young and mostly Sweet with Smoke, Wet Clay, Plastic, Band Aid, Iodine, light Leather, Sea Water, Shell Fish, Smoked Salmon marinated in Dried Herbs, Orchard Fruit, Lemon, Burnt Caramel, Cereals and a hint of Peanut Butter. On the Nose the Ileach Peated feels rather young and unfinished but it's not bad. The Alcohol is not fully integrated.  

Palate: Thin, Watery and slightly Medicinal with light Smoke, Wet Clay, Rubber, Plastic, Smoked Fish, Shell Fish, Sea Water, Malt, Caramel, Pepper, Pear, Green Apple, Lemon and slightly Bitter Grapefruit.  

Finish: Not very Long and quite Watery. Bitter-Sweet and Medicinal as well. Dry towards the end. I find Cold Smoke, Wet Clay, Ashes, Brine, Caramel, Cooked Vegetables, Grass, Sugar and slightly Burnt Cereals. Hints of Plastic and Peanut Butter.   

No need to add Water to the Ileach. It's already Thin enough as it is. I did find some extra Caramel/Toffee on the Palate. 

Rating: 80

Nose: 20.5 - Taste: 20 - Finish: 19.5 - Overall: 20

This is the "Old" version I'm tasting today!

General Remarks: The Ileach stands for a person born on Islay. This Single Malt from an undisclosed Islay distillery was launched around 2009/2010 by the Vintage Malt Whisky Company. I have no idea of the details of the contract between Vintage and the Distillery but I can imagine the latter would be pleased to see the contract end as they need all the whisky they produce these days. Recently, the Ileach received a new modern presentation. The miniature I review today was bought on Islay last year and still still shows the old label. Funny enough the old bottle reminds me of Lagavulin and/or Caol Ila while the new style is similar to Bowmore. Could it be that the new Ileach Spirit was distilled at another distillery as the older version. Who knows! In any case Ileach Peated mostly matured in Ex-Bourbon Casks but some Ex-Sherry Casks were used as well. It is Chill-Filtered and contains added Caramel for colour. It is certainly not expensive at around 40 US Dollars (July 2015).

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good  

Conclusion: This Ileach Peaty has a lot in common with the Finlaggan (Secret Islay) I tasted recently. They are both Islay Single Malts produced by an undisclosed distillery. Both of them are also reasonably priced and that makes them attractive for people who love peated whiskies but aren't always willing to buy the regular distillery expressions that are becoming more expensive every year. So that's the advantage of our secret friends. Both of them also have the same problem however. They are simply too young. As a result they Nose and Taste Edgy, Rough and Unbalanced. Thin and Watery New Make Spirit with lots of Dirty Smoke, Earth, Plastic and Sea Water but clearly without sufficient Cask exposure to calm things down a bit. The Ileach literally means "The Man from Islay" but this isn't a man as yet. This is merely a boy. So if you like peated Sea Water go for it. If you love Islay malt but want a bit more balance and character better go for a 10 Year old Ardbeg or Laphroaig or a 12 Year old Caol Ila despite the fact that they are usually more expensive. That leaves us with the question where this Ileach was distilled. It's really hard to say but I would put my money on either Lagavulin or Bowmore. However, your guess is as good as mine!

Jan van den Ende                                                                       July 13, 2015

This is the "New" Bowmore style Packaging!