B-sides: Bladnoch & blends

Bladnoch 11yo Ob. Belted Galloway 55% [Oct ’16] WB87.29[9]

The Belted Galloway is a heritage beef breed of cattle originating from Galloway. Theres even a Belted Galloway society, founded in 1921, ‘to promote the breed, encourage its development and keep records’.

  • N: Super initially but appearing somewhat ‘gimmicky’ later on. Now I know there are no gimmicks with Bladnoch, but it’s those perfumed fruits – they are vibrant as if to appear synthetic. Then again, there are no actual fruits in whisky are there. bladnoch-11yo
  • T: Hits the mark straight off with bubblegum sherry. The [abv] strength helps it along as does the combination & proportion of sherry to bourbon casks also. Doesn’t quite hold up to its initial brilliance on subsequent sips, but the bottle has been open for some while and the juice can easily become susceptible to the elements over time.
  • F: Competent [studio] fade.
  • C: Yep, fun and tasty. I think the ‘Beltie’ along with ‘Sheep Dip’ and ‘Distillery’ labels are some of the best Bladnoch around. I believe this range was bottled and released during Raymond Armstrong’s ownership [1994-2009/10], but as he didn’t actually start producing whisky until after the millennium, much of it would have been old stock from the Arthur Bell~UD~Diageo days 1983-1993. Here’s hoping David Prior and Gavin Hewitt can get Bladnoch on its feet and truly running again.

Scores 85 points


bladnoch-1990-20yoBladnoch 1990 20yo ’Spirit of the Lowlands’ Ob. cask #120 [Btl #136] 52.4% WB80[2]

This was definitely stock from the [Arthur Bell]~UD~Diageo days, distilled three years before Bladnoch was officially decommissioned in 1993.

  • N: Peaty and creamy with a farm note pointing towards soft goats cheese
  • T: Farmy, grassy and solvent-y.
  • F: Short
  • C: Maybe oxidisation got the better of this Lowland. I enjoyed the farmy nose.

Scores 77 points


Strathspey NAS [1980’s] ‘Finest old Highland malt whisky’ [26 2/3fl. ozs] 40% WB81[2]

strathspeyThere are a number of Strathspey’s floating around the second hand market with 5yo age statements, bottled in the 1980’s. The back label of those reads, `.. produced exclusively from Highland Malt Whiskies, principally from the IDV Distilleries, Strathmill, Glen Spey, Knockando and Auchroisk’. This is a NAS Strathspey malt, 26 2/3fl. ozs, bottled at 70 proof/40%.

  • N: Nose is lovely, fruity & floral
  • T: Gentle fruity malt, old style
  • F: It’s young and simple grain base is revealed.
  • C: Good beginnings certainly. These bottles can occasionally found for peanuts at auction

Scores 80 points


Marchants ‘Old Scotch Whisky’ [Extra Special] Gold Label NAS no abv


  • N: Indicative of that old skool style together with OBE – tomato [puree], Worcestershire sauce and tamari/soy. I should start abbreviating that combo to TWT, as it so frequently arises on my nose.
  • T: This is as the old style blends often are: scruffy and grubby with a rough, grainy and metallic profile, and yet familiar, pleasing and comforting at the same time. Less pipe & slippers, more rollies & trackies.
  • F: Underneath the rough stuff lies dunnage, toffee malt and shoe polish, besides other murky mysteries.
  • C: Well worth a punt for those looking to explore whisky from the 1960’s, and still to be found at decent prices [£46 2016 WA].

Scores 80 points