Whisky Weekender 2017: Golden Gems


For those who enjoy the rather undignified situation of queuing [& queuing] at exhibition stands three to four deep like desperately thirsty hedonists in night clubs, this is the festival for you. With frustrations shown on both sides, anyone hoping that this typical two day event spread out over three days & a change of venue would alleviate congestion seen last year & the year before at the Oval Space were disappointed. I circled the whole show three times without acquiring a space at any of the stands, such was the volume of traffic [2000 over three days/250 whiskies] – though of course its good to see the popularity of whisky growing & growing, especially amongst young women & men.


Quite some patience however was rewarded with golden gems from go-to favourites such as Boutique-y [a festival in its own right], Murray McDavid, Berry Bros & Rudd and a real surprise – Angus MacRaild. Angus brought part of his own private collection along for a pay-as-you-go style system, familiar at shows such as the TWE Old & Rare, Limburg and the Whiskybase Gathering for example. Amongst the ‘brand-centric’ whisky, rum & cocktail stalls, there was plenty of interest from enthusiasts and new-comers alike for the presence of this alternative direction for the Weekender. Great to see.


Cameronbridge 24yo TBWC Batch 1 [btl #47/211] 49.6% WB0


  • N: Wood spice with [distillate-led] fruits.
  • T: Neat & tight bitter sweet [not sure my palate is too clever just yet].
  • F: Clean chalky finish.
  • C: A fine breakfast dram, literally.

Scores 83 points


It’s worth going to the Murray McDavid stand, solely to meet and talk to Dean.

[Glenfarclas] 1992/2003 11yo Murray McDavid ‘Diun Laoch’ cask #31 46% WB80[1]

  • N: A Glenfarclas surely, given all those sherried/candied raisins.
  • T: An earthy Glenfarclas then, one showcasing a youthful/young distillate.
  • F: Continues along similar bitter-sweet lines.
  • C: Unmemorable. Their better juice i tried and reviewed last month at Whisky Live LINK.

Scores 80 points


[The] Lakes The One British blended whisky [2017] Ob. PX finish [btl# 2081/5252] 40% WB0

Blended whisky with a PX finish


  • N: Sweet young distillate – that PX finish leading/disguising anything it likes.
  • T: Same again really, pretty basic.
  • F: It is what it is.
  • C: Hats off to the Lakes for creating a decent range as an independent bottler & with commendable branding before their actual juice is ready – fair play.

Scores 76 points


Glen Moray 1990/2016 25yo BBR cask #10307 46% WB0

Glen Moray BBR

  • N: Decent-aged, [true] refill bourbon cask nose.
  • T: Despite 25 years its still distillate led. A little sugary before more sour spirit on development.
  • F: Solid enough.
  • C: A soft yet firm Speysider for refill/distillate fans.

Scores 82 points


Glen Garioch 1989/2014 24yo BBR cask #7854 53.8% WB88.50[8]

Glen Garioch BBR

  • N: Savoury-sweet biscuit nose, some farm – quite some farm.
  • T: Savoury/sweet, slight [Linkwood] oils with farm notes into the finish
  • F: Long finish with sweet bourbon cask leanings.
  • C: The first really decent dram of the day from a firm refill cask, much like the previous Moray. Ive noted a similarity between Glen Garioch & Linkwood in a recent blog LINK.

Scores 88 points


Auchroisk 2000/2014 BBR cask #20 46% WB85.67[3]

Auchroisk BBR

  • N: A sweet one with candy & icing sugar to the fore.
  • T: Begins as expected with chewy youth but hey, not that much youth – 14 years in a decent cask can be ample.
  • F: Clean/cloudy spirit with some tannins & some liquorice. Not dry exactly, but puckering.
  • C: A natural style malt, decently aged.

Scores 85 points


Miltonduff 8yo TBWC Batch 2 [Btl #169/254] 45.5% WB81[1]

Miltonduff 8

  • N: A funky one that rapidly sweetens & softens as the sherry becomes more & more obvious.
  • T: The funk continues with a [not exactly medicinal] 1970s-era style curiousness/oddness. Then like on the nose, much sherry [PX?] comes through with firm notes of butterscotch.
  • F: Close enough the same as T:
  • C: Sherry dominated, so surely popular if not too clever.

Scores 83 points


Slyrs 3yo TBWC Batch 1 [Btl# 672/691] 52.5% WB86[1]


  • N: Toffee apples, candy drops, marshmallows, coconut,… Water adds a cheese/farm note, creamy liqueurs, malolactic (Chardonnay) notes – James hands me yet another [scientific] gem of knowledge.
  • T: Wowee, this is big on the confectionary side with liquorice, aniseed, more marshmallows,….
  • F: Impressively sophisticated for its age, and with some complexity, balance and poise. Keeps on going with the confectionary.
  • C: Amazingly together considering its ‘barely’ a whisky. Eyes on Slyrs if they weren’t already.

Scores 84 points


[Tobermory] Ledaig 18yo [2017] TBWC [921 bts] 51.7% WB87[1]


  • N: A curveball only Benriach’s Heredotus WB has thrown me in the past – namely a very particular style of PX & peat smoke. Maybe this is a tad more farmy.
  • T: Very similar on the palate. Cigarette ash comes with the territory.
  • F: Murky sweet shop in a dark mythical elf forest. Concludes with ash.
  • C: I’m not falling for this again but i do hope everyone else loves it.

Scores 80 points


Now this is a first [for me] – Burnside & Warhead, side by side. Traditionally, Burnside is undisclosed Balvenie with a teaspoon of Glenfiddich. Warhead is undisclosed Glenfiddich with a teaspoon of Balvenie. Both distilleries sell teaspoon stock all the time and TBWC have examples of both.

[Balvenie] 23yo [2017] TBWC Blend #1 Batch 2 [btl#195/409] 48.8% WB0


  • N: So, a Balvenie with a teaspoon of Glenfiddich. A classic/representative aged Speyside malt displaying icing sugar-sweet, honeyed-lemon-barley-maltiness.
  • T: All good – spot on for Spey fans.
  • F: Fine chalky sweet – indicative of the region & style.
  • C: Heres an opportunity to try a paragon of Balvenie – small batch, well aged & at cask strength, and for a decent price [£83 May ’17].

Scores 87 points


[Glenfiddich] TBWC Blend #2 Batch 2 [2015] [Btl#316/415] 43.1% WB0


  • N: So, after the Balvenie with a teaspoon of Glenfiddich WB comes a Glenfiddich with a teaspoon of Balvenie – neat! This isnt as sweet, being more straight laced [distillery character personified so far then]. Water brings out a smokiness [from the char I reckon], and a chalkiness. It’s never going to be as relaxed like the Balvenie [such is Glenfiddich’s relative astringent style], but theres bubblegum confectionary on opening out however.
  • T: The first truly ‘full bodied’ dram of the day, the kind of full bodied-ness that comes from slow & sure maturation from supportive wood.
  • F: Waxy/buttery with a slight spirity bite.
  • C: It’s so ‘Fiddich’. Just as good as the Balvenie [which my preference leans to slightly more], but there’s something about this ones more austere side that I appreciate also – a very soft Mannochmore if you will. Score-wise, it’s tit for tat – they are both very good.

Scores 87 points


TBWC Blended Scotch Whisky #1 Batch 5 50yo [2017] 46.6% WB90.33[5]


  • N: [Blind] A very old one, a touch farmy/cheesy. Initially somewhat shy but it’s far from small – beckoning me in to it’s hollow like Yoda to Luke [my first Starwars reference, Mark]. Later the sherry comes to the fore.
  • T: Herbal & hollow-ish, not showing fragility but a meekness? Theres a concentration focused to the centre of the palate & equally to the centre of my mind – neuroscience link between palate & imagination required.
  • F: A little smoke to the part-sherried malt and a little smoked liquorice – the smoke & sherry embedded, so more signs of serious age.
  • C: Somewhat innocuous but thoroughly engaging – I spent 20 mins with it, which is quite some festival time.

Scores 87 points


Longmorn 26yo [2016] TBWC Batch 2 [btl# 20/84?] 49.8% WB0


  • N: With mature fruity confectionary, youth is also retained.
  • T: Keeps going along similar lines with lovely cask integration, appearing to be both bourbon & sherry influenced. Youthfulness remains.
  • F: Finishes with a hum. Bourbon>sherry tannins bite.
  • C: Another perfectly fine TBWC bottling.

Scores 87 points


Garnheath 42yo TBWC Batch 1 44.3% WB82.33[3]


  • N: This reminds me how much I like grain. Im thinking there should be one in every tasting. A moment of clarity: gluey lemon meringue – perfect right there!
  • T: Delectable woody vanilla chew.
  • F: Wants to hold on, but you know those old grains – they often simply cant.
  • C: You want a fabulous aged grain that isn’t ‘over the hill’, here it is. This is right up there.

Easily scores 88 points

[Edit: My first Garnheath!!!]


Glenrothes 1988/2016 BBR Second edition 44.1% WB89[1]

First-fill sherry hogshead & refill sherry.

Glenrothes 1988

  • N: Heavy butterscotch & orange liqueur, buttery [almost waxy] grasses, sweet citrus putty, moth balls [an indirect piano reference], deep damp mouldy felt,… though ive not come across such a forlorn piano for a while. This nose is all about the mould (cheese and mushroom purveyors need apply).
  • T: Butterscotch oak, popcorn, mild herbal heather, sweet mould, dry wood mould,….
  • F: …. so far so good, but then there’s a rather blatant sherry ‘dump’ – but hey, that’s sometimes the nature of the thing with heavily sherried malts.
  • C: That nose storms it and the palate ain’t half bad either.

Scores 88 points



Clynelish 1997/2012 15yo Liquid Sun [257 bts] 47.9% WB82[1]

Refill hogshead

Clynelish Liquid sun
Definitely NOT Angus
  • N: If I thought that previous [Rothes] nose was something, this is something else. We have a desirably mouldy lemon meringue and a buttery>oily orangey-ness paired with a touch of salt ‘n’ vinegar peat – wowee, what a [Highland] fusion. Water brings out farm notes and the lemon-icing sugar/barley base.
  • T: Delivers just how i wanted it to. Lemony/orangey sweet [just the right amount]. Desirable mouthfeel noted.
  • F: Chalky/woody-dry alongside the fruity-sweetness that remains. There’s quite some raisins too, though that could easily be from the Rothes.
  • C: Finishing the day with this dram overlooking the Oval bathed in sunshine, it’s a fine moment indeed.

Scores 88 points



Always look for the silver lining!











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