Showing posts with label Blended Malt Scotch Whisky Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blended Malt Scotch Whisky Review. Show all posts

Wardhead 1997 (Carn Mor)

”Songs from the Wood” 

Whisky Review # 943

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Wardhead 1997 (Carn Mor - Celebration of the Cask Series)
Distilled on: 20-02-1997
Bottled By/For: Morrison & MacKay (MMcK) on 01/08/2018
Type: Single Cask Blended Malt Scotch Whisky - Cask # 43 - 354 Bottles
Age: 21 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 54.6% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon Hogshead
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 140-160 (April 2022)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😐 Okay. A 21 Year old Single Malt is never cheap these days!
Buying Advice: 😔 Not bad at all but probably only for Woody Woodpeckers!

Colour: Golden (Natural Colour)


A Mix of Sweet and slightly Sour notes. Quite Malty and Yeasty. The Oak is quite noticeable and so is the Alcohol. There's still sufficient Glenfiddich Fruit to be noted but this Spirit could have done with fewer years in the casks. Anywhere between 15 and 18 years would have been just fine. The Nose is not unpleasant but nothing out of the ordinary as well.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, German Butter Biscuits, Honey, Yeast, Green Apple, Pear, Mix of Nuts and Dried Fruit like Apricot, Gooseberry, Grapefruit, Slightly Dusty Casks, Cinnamon and Mint.    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Vanilla, Toffee, Wax, Resin, Powder Sugar, Grass/Straw, Mandarin, Banana, Lemon, Strawberry Yogurt, Melon, Pineapple, Nougat, Floral Soap, Tobacco, Green Leaves,  Wet Rocks, Fresh and Dried Herbs, Ginger and Pepper.


The Sweet and Sour notes of the Nose are still there but they are threatened by the Bitterness of Cask and Wood Spices. I miss balance here. Either Mr. Morrison or Mr. MacKay should have bottled it a few years earlier in my opinion 😉. The Alcohol is noticeable as well. Somehow I got images of an Apple Pie that was kept in a brand new wooden box for a couple of weeks!

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Syrup, Honey, Wax, Resin, Yeast, Dough, Pear, Green Apple, Mandarin, Banana, Gooseberry, Grapefruit, Bounty Bars, Capuccino, Earth, Dusty Charred Oak, Coconut, Pepper, Ginger and Mint. 
Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toffee, Vanilla, Grass and Straw, Melon, Lemon, Strawberry, Leather, Herbal Tea, Tobacco, Aniseed, Licorice and Cinnamon.

Quite Long with lots of Bitter Oak and Menthol. Quite Dry towards the end. Oak and Wood Spices are really controlling the Sweet Malt and Sour Fruit at this point. This really should have been bottled earlier. Still, it's better than most of today's boring Malts. I find Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla Ice Cream, Toffee, Honey, Wax, Simple Syrup, Grass/Straw, Green Apple, Pear, Banana, Green Grapes, Gooseberry, Grapefruit, Lemon, Mandarin, Toasted Almonds, Charred Oak, Wax, Cacao Powder, Herbal Tea, Floral Soap, lightly Burnt Marshmallow, Green Leaves, Leather, Tobacco, Cinnamon, Pepper, Ginger, Nutmeg, Aniseed, Mint and Licorice.

Drinking Advice:

You can certainly add a spoonful of Water to this Wardhead thereby diminishing the Bitterness somewhat and increasing the Fruitiness. It obviously loses some of the original raw character as well. I liked it both ways actually.

Rating: 86

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 21.5 - Overall: 21.5

Drinking Experience Neat: Good. Would be better with less cask time.


William Grant & Sons are the owners of the Speyside distilleries Glenfiddich and The Balvenie. When they sell Casks with Glenfiddich Spirit to Independent Bottlers like Morrison & MacKay, they add a teaspoon of The Balvenie and label it as Wardhead. This way, the independent bottlers can't sell it as Glenfiddich and also not as Single Malt as the minimum amount of The Balvenie classifies the mix as a Blended Malt.

I fully enjoyed this Tasting session. Let me explain. On the one hand this Malt has certainly overstayed its time in the cask causing a Bitterness that will not please most Whisky lovers as it compromises the Fruitiness of the Glenfiddich Spirit. But on the other hand it shows Character, something I so dearly miss in todays Mainstream Malt Madness. If you like the standard Glenfiddich expressions you should not go for this one but if you're looking for some Raw Woody Adventure you should give this Wardhead a chance!


Jan van den Ende                                                                           April 20, 2022

Auchnagie (Lost Distillery Company)

”You’re Lost Little Girl”

Whisky Review # 942

Country: Scotland
Region: Southern Highlands
Brand: Auchnagie - Classic Selection - Styled on Long Closed Distilleries
Distilled by: The Lost Distillery Company, Kilmarnock
Type: Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS (Said to be on average 10-12 Years old)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon casks
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 45-65 (April 2022)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😐 At US$ 45 it's okay. I wouldn't pay more though.
Buying Advice: 😕 It's an interesting experiment but this one doesn't convince me.

Colour: Light Gold (Natural Colour)


Relatively Young and slightly Edgy. The Alcohol is noticeable and so is a persistent Varnish note. Otherwise it's okay presenting a mixture of Sweet and slightly Sour notes. It's Fruity but also rather Yeasty and Biscuity.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, German Butter Biscuits, Heather Honey, Yeast, Green Apple, Pear, Nectarine, Citrus Peel, slightly Sour Red Berries, Grapefruit Juice, Floral Soap, Varnish, Cinnamon and Oak Char.    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Vanilla, White Wine, Straw, Honeydew Melon, Nuts, Wet Newspaper, Pepper, Ginger, Mint, Dried Herbs and Aniseed.


Young, slightly Edgy and a little Thin with Sweet and Sour notes. Fruity and Herbal.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Malt, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Citrus Peel, Grapefuit Juice, Green Apple, Pear, Banana, Oak Char, Dried Herbs, Cinnamon, Pepper, Ginger, Aniseed and Licorice.         
Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toffee, Sugary Candy, Caramel, Floral Perfume, Straw, Nectarine, White Wine, Dusty Track, Earth, Nuts, Cloves and Nutmeg.

Middle-Long and slightly on the Hot side. Quite Dry towards the end. I find Sweet Barley, Toasted Grain, Toast, Vanilla, Toffee, Heather-Honey, Green Apple, Pear, Grapefruit, Strawberry, Orange, Lemon, Banana, Grass & Straw, Dusty Track, Oak Char, Nuts, Pepper, Ginger, Nutmeg, Menthol and Licorice.

Drinking Advice:

By adding a few drops of Water, you eliminate most of the Harshness. It also gets very Light and Thin this way. But the Fruit becomes more vivid. You can add a little Water but don't overdo it as you will kill it quickly.

Rating: 80

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

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good


The Auchnagie farm Distillery (later named Tullymey) was founded in the year 1812 by Mr. James Duff and was located 6 miles South-East of Pitlochry in the Southern Highlands. The water for the destillation came from Loch Broom. It was quite mineral having been filtered through Peat Moss and Granite. Some of their main production problems included inconsistent supply of Water and inconsistent size of the Bere Barley used. It was later sold to John Dewar and Son who closed it in 1911 and dismantled it a year later.

First of all I like the purpose of this Series. It's nice to try and recreate Single Malts from long closed distilleries based on the information still available on the Water Supply, Barley, Yeast and the distilling process. It's not easy to do that I suppose. The Auchnagie is the first in a series of six that I bought as a Sample Gift package. All with Natural Color indeed and without Chill-Filtration as it was done in the days. So far so good. My issue with this expression is that, as far as I can judge at least, mostly 2nd and 3rd Refill Ex-Bourbon casks were used for maturation. With a few quality casks this expression could have been much better. After having nosed and tasted the Auchnagie, I went thru my Highlands tasting notes and this is the Single Malt that came closest to this reborn Auchnagie. Curious? Click on the link and have a look!


Jan van den Ende                                                                           April 13, 2022

Important Market Information!

The 4th international World Whisky Forum will be held in June this year at Stauning Distillery in Denmark. This year´s overall theme is Sustainability and the moderator, as in previous years, is Dave Broom.

The organization is selling circa 70 tickets for those who want to attend in person and enjoy presentations, panel discussions, tours, dinners and mingle with people who all share a passion for whisky.

For the first time, however, you can also choose to take part virtually and watch the presentations from some of the industry´s most respected voices from your own computer or phone.

Tickets are on sale now at:

If you have any questions, please contact Jan Groth at:

Johnnie Walker Green Label 2017 Review

“I Thought I Knew You”

Whisky Review # 624

Country: Scotland
Brand: Johnnie Walker Green
Type: Blended Malt Whisky
Age: 15 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: A Mix of Refill Ex-Bourbon and Ex-Sherry Casks.  
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 40-60 (July 2017) 
Buying Advice:😔  Below US$ 50 it's still a bargain. Don't expect Heaven!

Colour: Light Amber (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: There are some Sherry casks in the mix and I detect a Sulphur note. It's nothing serious though. I also find some dried Fruit (Raisins, Apricot) and Nuts. It's not a very expressive Nose actually. I think that large numbers of refill casks were used. You need to take your time with the Green Label to discover some additional notes. They are there though. I find Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Caramel, Sweet Pastry, Toffee, Grass, Apple, Lemon, Orange, Milk Chocolate, Banana-Cake, Mint and a sprinkle of Nutmeg. The Caol Ila influence is limited. I get a little Dirty Earth, Smoke from a very distant fire and hints of Leather, Bacon and Tobacco. The Alcohol is not strong but it's not completely integrated as well.


Palate: Quite Sweet but still a little on the Thin side despite the 43% ABV. It's not as easy-going and smooth as I found it in 2012. More Talisker perhaps? A few Sour and Bitter Citrus notes as well. I find Toasted Cereals, Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Musty Straw, Heather-Honey, Nuts, Refill Oak, Orange, Grapefruit, Apple, Salt, Pepper, Cinnamon and hints of Tobacco, Espresso, Herbal Tea and Chocolate.  

Finish: Medium Long and Bitter-Sweet. Dry in the end with a bit of an odd note that reminds me of Wall Paper Paste although I have never tasted that stuff. But that came to my mind. I also find Toasted Cereals, slightly Burnt Salted Nuts, Toffee, Caramel, Vanilla, Honey, Orange Peel, Apple, Pepper, Cinnamon and hints of Tobacco, Bitter Chocolate, Smoke and Cigar Ashes.


Drinking Advice:
I added 4 drops of Water and the Malt develops on the Nose. Some Shortbread perhaps. On the Palate and in the Finish, I get quite a bit more Talisker Pepper. Very interesting! My advise would be to try it both ways. I preferred to Nose the JW Green neat but enjoyed the added Pepper on the Palate. I liked it even better over ice. The Fruity (Linkwood) notes shine better that way. 

Rating: 83    

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

General Remarks:

Johnnie Walker Green was launched in 2005. In 2012 it was discontinued world-wide with the exception of Taiwan. In 2015 it re-appeared cautiously in the North American market and in April 2016 it made its permanent world-wide come back. This time for good according to Diageo. It never became quite clear why this successful Blend was discontinued in the first place but one can assume that dwindling 15 Year or older stocks of one or more of the key Malts were the probable course. I also suspect that the other JW Blends are much cheaper to produce and thus show higher profit margins. We will probably never know what happened exactly. In any case it's back and that's a good thing. I reviewed the JW Green earlier in January 2012 and gave it a good score. I'm curious to learn if the "new" version is just as good. Johnnie Walker Green Label is made using an undisclosed number of Single Malts. We do know however that the heart is formed by Cragganmore with additional important roles for Talisker, Linkwood and Caol Ila. It's quite affordable for a 15 Year old Malt and the Price/Quality ratio is good.

Drinking Experience: Good.



My mind must be playing tricks on me! Either that or my Nose and Taste buts have developed a whole lot in the last 5 years or so. Is this the same Green that I reviewed in 2012? Back then I found it to be smooth on the Palate but that's certainly not the case right now. I thought it to be a little Edgy, moderately "Dirty" and certainly more Spicy. I have visited both Talisker and Cragganmore and those 2 distilleries come to mind when Nosing and Tasting the Green. It's difficult to detect Caol Ila but Linkwood is certainly there as well. A little change in the formula perhaps? Less quality casks to control the production costs? Or is it just me? In any case, I will have to downgrade the JW Green to 83 points at this point in time. It's still good value for money though if you can get it below 50 bucks. It has lost a bit of the magic though. At least in my opinion.

Jan van den Ende                                                                       July 12, 2017

Caol Ila

Mackinlay's Shackleton The Journey Review

“An Expensive Journey Through the Past”

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands (Mainly)
Brand: Mackinlay's Shackleton The Journey
Type: Blended Malt Whisky
Bottled by: Whyte & Mackay
Age: NAS  
ABV: 47.3%
Whisky Review # 556

Colour: Golden Straw

Nose: My first impressions are Dirty Floral Peat, Diesel, Tar, Ashes and Manure. Certainly different from our modern Highland Malts. It's very interesting to smell peated Dalmore. I also pick up light Jura influences. The Journey needs time in the glass to reveal additional Aromas. After a while I find Grass, Straw, Toasted Cereals, Dried Fruits, Nuts, Vanilla, Citrus Peel, Mandarin Juice, Licorice, light Vanilla, Overripe Banana, Toffee, Pineapple Jam, Orchard Fruit, Aniseed and light Spices. It's all a little Edgy, Dirty and Sharp. Unfortunately, the Alcohol is not fully integrated. It somehow smells "old" and authentic but I can't say The Journey smells extremely agreeable. I certainly was expecting a bit more.      
Taste: The Delivery is on the Thin side despite the adequate ABV. On the Palate, the Journey is Bitter Sweet. I find Dirty Peat, Factory Smoke, Citrus Peel, Oak, Dried Fruits, Nuts, Caramel, Toffee, Malt Biscuits, light Honey, Straw, Licorice, Pepper, Nutmeg, Menthol, Dried Herbs, Espresso and Dark Chocolate.       

Finish: Quite Long, Bitter Sweet, Medium-Spicy and Dry towards the end. The Journey retains its Rough and Dirty character until the end. I find Toasted Grain, light Honey, Caramel, light Vanilla, Dirty Earth, Factory Smoke, Lemon Peel, Peanut Butter, Dried Herbs, Grass, Grapefruit, Orchard Fruit, Tobacco, Aniseed, Oak, Pepper, Nutmeg and Menthol. I detect a light Metallic Off-Note.    

The Journey does not improve with added Water. 

Rating: 81.5    

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

General Remarks: Let's start with a little history that explains the release of this very special Blended malt:

In June 1907, the Glen Mhor distillery in Inverness, Scotland, received an order from the famous explorer Ernest Shackleton for 46 cases of Mackinlay's Rare Old Highland Malt, one of the more indulgent items included in the provisions designed to sustain his British Antarctic Expedition of 1907.

In 2007, a few crates of this Whisky were discovered in Antarctica. The New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust requested Master Blender Richard Paterson to try and recreate this Blend. He succeeded and raised over 300.000 US Dollars for Charity in the process. This Blend was called Mackinkay's Shackleton Rare Old Highland Malt "The Discovery".

In 2012, Paterson was approached again by the Charity and Ernest's grand-daughter Alexandra to produce a second edition of the Blended Malt, this time to coincide with the first authentic re-enactment of Shackleton's Antarctic Survival Journey of 1916. It's called Tom Jarvis' Shackleton Epic. Paterson accepted this new challenge as well and created "The Journey", using a rare 1980 cask of Glen Mhor, some peated Dalmore and malt from a/o Glenfarclas, Mannochmore, Tamnavulin, Ben Nevis, Aultmore, Fettercairn, Old Pulteney and Jura.

Unfortunately I have not yet been able to secure a sample of The Discovery, so I won't be able to compare the two expressions. For The Journey, Richard used whiskies in the 8 to 30 years range with Glen Mhor being the oldest. Both Ex-Sherry and (mostly) Ex-Bourbon casks were used in the process. Prices vary a lot depending on where you live. The average price is around 110 US$ (09/16). Bottle and Packaging are nicely done and based on the original.  

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Disappointing  

Conclusion: I know that this Whisky raised money for a good purpose and I'm sure that Richard Paterson put in a lot of time and effort. And I have to admit that there is an air of authenticity around. It smells and tastes "dirty" from start to finish. I can really imagine that Whisky tasted somewhat rough like this at the beginning of the 1900's. So in that aspect, the Journey gives us at least an idea. However, I also believe that a lot of young, indifferent Malt went into the Blend, leaving it Edgy, Sharp and without much balance. As such it is way too expensive for what it really offers despite the nice packaging and the fascinating story. Many people have commented on the fact that The Discovery was much better so I must try and secure a sample of that one to be able to compare the two Mackinlay's Shackleton expressions.   

Jan van den Ende                                                               September 5, 2016

Westport 1997 (Wilson & Morgan) Review

“Glenmorangie in Disguise”

Country: Scotland 
Region: Highlands
Brand: Westport 1997 (Wilson & Morgan - Barrel Selection)
Type: Blended Malt Whisky
Age: 16-17 Years
ABV: 48%
Chill Filtration: No

Colour: Full Dark Gold (Natural Colour) 

Nose: Full and Mature. Good Balance as well. The Alcohol and Oak are nicely integrated. The Glenmorangie Oranges are certainly there and I also find Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Butterscotch, Sherry, Dried Apricots, Almond, Mandarin, Heather-Honey, Peach Jam, light Vanilla, Espresso, light Pepper, light Mint, Cinnamon and hints of Tobacco and Leather. There is a Sweet Floral note too but I can't put a name to it. After a while I get some Plums as well. This Malt is well-made and not too Sweet despite the long years in the Sherry casks. Good Wood management.      

Palate: Pleasantly Sweet with nice Spices. I find Toasted Barley, Butterscotch, Orange, Mandarin, Sherry, Dried Apricot, Walnuts, Floral Tea, Cherries, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger, Cardamom and hints of Leather and Wet Stones.  

Finish: Quite Long. A nice combination of Bitter-Sweet, Spicy and Sour notes. Again nicely balanced. I find Toasted Barley, Oak, Orange, Mandarin, Lemon Zest, Sherry, Walnuts, Nutmeg, Ginger, Pepper, Cinnamon and a distant hint of Leather.

With some added Water the Nose gets more Malty- and Floral notes. The Peach develops as well. Palate and Finish do not really improve with added Water but you can carefully play with a couple of drops at a time. Don't overdo it though! 

Rating: 87 

Nose: 22 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 21.5 - Overall: 22

General Remarks: Westport is of course not an existing distillery. This blended Malt is in fact a Glenmorangie mixed with a tiny bit of Glen Moray. The reason for this is that Glenmorangie does not allow Independent bottlers to print the Distillery name on the label. So while this is technically a Blended malt, it is in fact a Glenmorangie Single Malt. This Westport was distilled in 1997 and bottled in 2014 for Independent Bottlers Wilson & Morgan in the Barrel Selection Series. It matured in Refill Ex-Sherry Butts # 3358 and 3359. Only 1292 bottles went to the market. It costs around 70 US Dollars but the availability is limited. 

Drinking Experience Neat: Very Enjoyable. 

Conclusion: Very nice malt. It shows once again that carefully chosen casks make all the difference. The Westport maintained the Glenmorangie Distillery profile while the Refill casks added a gentle touch of Sherry and nice Spices. It's Sweet but not cloyingly so and there are no Sharp edges. The Alcohol and the Wood are nicely integrated and there's balance between Sweet, Spicy and Sour Aromas and Flavours. It's not an extremely complicated Malt but it's well-made and very tasty. I wouldn't mind owning a bottle or two of this Westport. It makes a great after dinner Whisky. Congrats to Wilson & Morgan for a job well-done! 

Jan van den Ende                                                                     May 30, 2016