A good list with plenty of competent whiskies on it. Very few sherry casks, but that seems to be the way these days...
G7.4 - Buttery waffles on polished wood
28 years old, distilled 28th May 1984, 58.4% abv, refill ex-bourbon hogshead
Toffee, apple, banana and crumble on the nose. The body is light, with a smorgasbord of flavours - flowers, cardboard, cinnamon, cloves. The finish has golden syrup and cashews.
After water, nose becomes drier and has more cereal notes - bran? The palate moves towards walnut and fondant centres.
A superb expression, which will not last long in any discriminating glass...
4.175 - Suspicious skulkers on the catwalk
13 years old, distilled 15th October 1999, 55.9% abv, first-fill ex-bourbon barrel
Ozone and brine dominate the nose, with musty cellars and a hint of lemon in there too. The body reminds me of a freshly opened packet of Opal Fruits, plenty of citrus flavours with hints of other sweetness. The finish is lightly smokey and brings a return of the brine.
After water, the nose is more like sherbet dip and tobacco leaves, the body has a slightly meatier taste - honey roasted ham, perhaps. The finish is sweeter, the smoke giving way to burnt oak notes.
A fantastic session dram.
121.59 - Vanilla candles on a polished table
14 years old, distilled 7th September 1998, 55.8% abv, refill ex-bourbon barrel
The nose has midget gems, polished wood and honey. The body is warm, but not overly so, with raisins and fruit salad on a camphor wood. The finish is big and full of toffee...
With water, the nose gains demerara sugar, vanilla and raspberry. The body has more tannin notes - with a hint of summer fruits.
An excellent dram for a summer's evening.
64.43 - Full, complex and reassuring
23 years old, distilled 5th February 1990, 55.5% abv, refill ex-bourbon barrel
Caramel and brine on the nose, with a hint of unpolished wood - perhaps teak? The body has ginger, chocolate, tobacco and more caramel. The finish is pleasingly big and goes back to the caramel and brine from the nose, with a little tobacco.
After water, the whisky becomes much sweeter - big vanilla notes, and a slightly perfumed note, maybe geraniums? The body has vanilla, ginger, and the chocolate is more dominant, leaving the tobacco behind. The finish is now ginger and caramel.
An interesting whisky, but I'm not sure it needed water.
59.43 - Caramel swirl ice-cream
29 years old, distilled 8th November 1983, 56.4% abv, refill ex-bourbon hogshead
Tooty fruities, flowers and a soft hint of tobacco on the nose, which is a full yet subtle experience. The body has geraniums, honeysuckle, vanilla, green apples, and pine wood. The finish is long and sweet, with a little cinnamon over pine needles.
Water makes the nose sweeter, bringing the pine needles and geraniums more to the fore. The body is a little thicker and more viscous, with soft tobacco notes now infusing the sweet fruity flavours. The finish is sweeter, with more vanilla and green apples.
77.32 - Salivating sweetness; savoury whispers
25 years old, distilled 13th August 1987, 58.2% abv, refill ex-bourbon hogshead
Golden syrup and honeycomb on the nose. The body has pineapple, ginger, orange peel, coffee and glacê cherries. The finish has toffee and oranges.
After water the nose has sherbet dip and slowly becomes more meaty. The body is honey roasted ham and slightly reminiscent of cola. The finish is still sweet and doesn't deviate from the toffee and oranges of the neat dram.
A very pleasant dram for a spring day.
1.171 - Orchids in an old wardrobe
28 years old, distilled 16th May 1984, 55.1% abv, refill ex-bourbon hogshead
Oak and greenhouses on the nose. The body is rich - raisins, rum, fudge, toffee. The finish has toffee and satsumas.
After water, more fruit sweetness arrives. The nose has tomato vines and plums. The body gains shortbread, and the finish is more toffee than fruits.
A fine, elegant dram for a cooler evening.
85.26 - Fragrant perfumes and deeper resonances
28 years old, distilled 2nd May 1985, 44.5% abv, first-fill ex-bourbon barrel
Toffee, vanilla, peanut brittle and mangoes on the nose. The body is full and viscous if held on the tongue and has oak, cinnamon, vanilla, green apples and pineapple. The finish is an interesting combination of sweet floral notes (honeysuckle?) and tannins - slightly leathery.
With water, the floral notes break through into the nose - it's now got a pleasant mix of toffee and honeysuckle. The body moves more towards oak and cinnamon, losing some of the fruit. The finish is light and sweet, having lost the tannins.
A great dram for a day in the garden.
7.83 - Fresh, airy and sherbety
19 years old, distilled 20th May 1993, 52.1% abv, refill ex-bourbon hogshead
A very light nose which reminds me of lemon scented and "grass fresh" washing powder. The body is similarly light and clean, with lots of lemon and vanilla. The finish unsurprisingly full of vanilla.
After water, the nose gains some slight cereal, perhaps oats. The body has hints of pineapple and vanilla, and the finish is a surprisingly full hit of vanilla and apple.
A superb dram for a summer's day whilst watching a game of cricket.
35.79 - Calming, warming and comforting
28 years old, distilled 22nd December 1983, 57.7% abv, refill ex-sherry butt
The nose betrays the cask immediately - sweet and full of citrus fruits, with a little bit of fudge and oak. The body is sumptuous, with nectarines and geraniums floating over stewed apples and slight oak spices. The finish is sweet, with a return to nectarines and wood spices.
With water the nose becomes woodier, camphor wood added to the sweet fruits. The body moves towards walnut but retains the previous flavours. The finish gains wood notes, but still holds together the sweet citrus notes with it.
An elegant and interesting dram that provokes lively conversation about its flavours. Drink it with friends.
3.198 - Smoker’s tooth powder and dentists’ chairs
14 years old, distilled 25th September 1997, 57.0% abv, refill ex-sherry butt
Tar, coal dust, lavender are on the nose. The body is as smoky as you’d expect, with hints of TCP and the sterilisation mouthwash from a dentists’ visit.
With water, the nose gains cola bottle sweets and the body gains oranges and honey roasted ham. The finish is much sweeter - gaining perhaps a touch liquorice.
A sweet dram to cheer you up on a miserable autumnal afternoon.
53.184 - Fairground on the beach
19 years old, distilled 12th July 1993, 60.4% abv, refill ex-sherry butt
The nose has cinder toffee and charcoal on the nose, along with a sweet note - lemon? The body has chocolate, cardamom, and of course smoke. The finish is, oddly enough, smoky.
After water the nose becomes fruitier, with green apples and pineapple. There is also some caramel. The body is smooth and sweet, with tobacco and ginger alongside lemon-scented clothing conditioner and buckets of smoke. The finish is smoke and hints of lemon.
A pleasing and unexpectedly sweet Islay, perhaps for a summer’s evening.
29.130 - A chimney sweep smoking a cigar
19 years old, distilled 4th May 1993, 52.1% abv, refill ex-bourbon hogshead
A classic Islay nose - smoke and TCP. The body has vanilla, smoke, and germoline. The finish is a massive sweet smoke hit.
After water, the vanilla comes into the nose. The body has gains a little sweetie fizziness, like refreshers. The finish is a nice balance of smoke and vanilla.
A superb traditional Islay.
R3.5 - Marmite XO
11 years old, distilled 1st January 2002, 74.8% abv, refill ex-butt
A huge nose, full of coastal notes and burnt sugar. The body is much less aggressive than you’d expect at this strength - salted caramels. The finish is a hot jet of sweetness erupting through the esophagus.
After water, the nose gets a little duller - it reminds me of cardboard! The body is still caramel, but has lost the coastal notes. The finish remains rather like jet backwash that has somehow been sweetened...
I might not be the greatest rum drinker, but this one is far more approachable than I’d first suspected - very pleasant.