Whisky Squad #144: TBWC – ‘What lies beneath’


Hosted by the ‘Mauritian Minesweeper’, tonights blind tasting theme has a connected with ‘blends’. Let the detective work begin -Whisky Squad to the rescue!



Cambus 24yo [2016] SMWS batch 2 [319 bts] 49.7% WB88[3]


  • N: Honeyed and creamy with a little butterscotch – a Speysider? First fill? Somewhat resinous/spicy before more ‘age’ [maturity] emerges. It’s certainly rum-ish,…. hmmm – last time i picked out rum notes so firmly it turned out to be a Cameronbridge. Not long after and it’s clearly a grain, a light fruity one – tropical fruits. I reckon 20 years old.
  • T: It’s a grain for sure with strong vanilla, light sherbet & white pepper giving a fizzy note. Time smoothes it to a modestly sweet & creamy sipper. After an hour its tutti-fruity side comes alive.

Cambus info

  • F: Rather short with a little coconut and green vanilla at the death.
  • C: Decent youngish,…. Invergordon? It appeared to be a great companion to mystery dram #3, though theme-wise this is paired with whisky #2.

Scores 83 points.


Tullibardine 26yo [2016] TBWC batch 3 [85 bts] 49.2% WB0

Tullibardine info

  • N: Burned raisins, some toffee/butterscotch, rum & raisin, some sort of liquorice, rooibos tea for certain, goji berries, oily old leather, rubbery [sherried] hints, foosty dunnage, burnt nutty smoked/scorched hay,….. Curious indeed – a sweet Mannochmore? Teaninich? Inchgower? Could it be Ben Nevis even?
  • T: A sharp/zinginess initially with indications of good age – 25? Burned, heavy old char, burnt heathers and other burnt curiosities, some allium & farm notes.


  • F: Incredibly distinct notes of lapsang souchong, tobacco and raisins. Varied waves of joy. Lapsang and allium smoke remain.
  • C: What is this, Fettercairn? To the reveal. Dave says this is at the heart of ‘Highland Queen’ blend. Billy [the brilliant], has only found this particular nutty/peanut/hazelnut husk note in [SMWS] Tullibardine. In fact there are a number of SMWS Tullibardine’s with nutty references: ‘May contain nuts’, ‘Putty & Walnut’ and ‘A Fruity & Nut-case’ for example.

Scores 85 points


Caledonian 29yo [2017] TBWC batch 2 [310 bts] 49.7% WB82[1]


  • N: I detect we’ve another [even older?] grain now. Polished vanilla, emulsion, white spirit, light berries, floral glue,… the theme is emerging.
  • T: Same on the palate. It’s very creamy with a little chocolate as the mouthfeel thickens. Fabulously aged with not a peep of excessive wood. Super balance.
  • F: The deliciousness continues,.. superb.

Caledonian info

  • C: At first its simply an aged grain, later, a moorish, faultless and intoxicating expression from a lamented closed distillery. I guessed 37 year given the thickening mouthfeel and consolidation of spirit & wood into a whole, and with absolutely no water required. At only £75 [remember Diageo’s ‘Cally’, released in 2016 for a whopping £750!], a few of us made online purchases there and then.

Scores 87


Glen Elgin 25yo [2017] TBWC batch 1 [315 bts] 48.1% WB0

Glen Elgin

  • N: Begins like a familiar honeyed Speysider. An hour later and its as fruity as anything with a fruity [pear] putty base. Later on, the cereals take the lead.
  • T: Tasty, solid, robust whisky yet there’s a fragility, or at least theres a temporal quality – the profile changing by the minute.

Glen Elgin info

  • F: Hoppy raisins & buttery liquorice before the cereals bed in once again.
  • C: Adding water doesnt kill it, it simply flattens it – reducing it to its cereal based origins. This started off like a Springbank [remember that Burgundy cask? WB], finishing more like a natural-style, malty Deanston! Guesses regarding age ranged from 15-27 years. Revealed: A speysider that features prominently [alongside Lagavulin] in the White Horse blend. I got the theme now – about time.

Scores 85 points


Port Dundas 25yo [2016] TBWC batch 1 [115 bts] 48.2% WB0

Port Dundas

  • N: With my grain radar firmly honed and the theme cracked, we most certainly have another grain up for dram #5 – its always the first one that trips me up. Very varnished with floral glue. Funny how you can be in a scented garden yet next to a glue factory at the same time – the joys of whisky! Later, theres a Sauternes association, blu-tac and dusty/fusty notes.

Port Dundas info

  • T: Luscious, classically rich, varnish-aged grain with notes of sugary rose water. Sublimely simple like one of my grain favourites: a 1973 North of Scotland WB.
  • F: Heathery-dry, quick finish on metallic cream & vegetal vanilla with a final metallic bitter finish.
  • C: Interesting complexities & curiosities, despite being light & rum like – cue Nicks great soundbite of the day ‘Complexity lurking in the bushes. Its a good ole grain yet i prefer the more amiable and moorish Caledonian, the mouthfeel secures it.

Scores 84 points


Glenrothes 25yo [2017] TBWC batch 3 [139 bts] 49.7% WB0 WN88

Glenrothes info

  • N: Sherried raisins, char and fruits, everything as you may expect – present & correct and oh so clean. Also rather open with notes of gingerbread molasses, bananas, lemon cello, a slight farmy note – goats=cottage cheese, glue,…. I associate this smell clearly with only one distillery – Glenrothes.
  • T: Well sherried yet refreshingly, this isnt about the sherry. Moves to deep putty, struck matches,….. [I really need more time with this one].


  • F: Fruits to the end, sweet liquorice-to-aniseed and a sweet vanilla ice-cream finish.
  • C: I’m convinced its Glenrothes, which fits perfectly with the distillery profile and tonights ‘blends’ theme – and is at the heart of blends such as Cutty Sark & Famous Grouse. Am i right? Yes, finally i got one! That distillery character is so firm. How do Glenrothes impart such heavy sherry on their spirit without ever even a suggestion of sulphur? Faultless and the best of the night, though the Tullibardine i will remember equally well and the Caledonian i buy.

Scores 88 points




Flight bar




Many thanks to Dave, Billy, Elise and everyone behind the scenes.