TWE Show 2017: Day 1

The rule is, if you want to join the front of the queue, you bring a gift. Now i know! Phil generously brought many bottles as did Mr Dramble, Peta and others! Here were just a few of the pre-show offerings.


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Rosebank 1990/2009 19yo DL OMC #5360 [327 bts] 50% WB87.65[22]

  • C: Fabulously rich & fruity Rosebank with a bolshy side to match.

Scores 90 points



Brora 30yo [2007] Ob. 6th release [2958 bts] 55.7% WB93.32[191] WF93 WM92[7]

  • N: I guess rightly, unmistakeable Brora.
  • T: Perfectly sweet peat, beautifully honeyed.
  • F: The smoke is evident much later on.
  • C: In contrast to the first time i tried this, magical.

Compliments of Phil

Scores 92 points



Inverleven 1973/2011 37yo Chivas Brothers 49% WB89.43[9]

  • N: Emotional, even after two Littlemill, an ‘87 Macallan, a memorable ’79 Inchmurrin and the previous & fabulous Rosebank.
  • T: An immediate tasty palate pleaser, slick and unassuming. Distillate faithful.
  • F: Very long & steady Balblair-esque, bourbon refill oak finish.
  • C: Emotional, beautiful, long, balanced, gentle,… A treat.

Compliments of Peta

Scores 88 points



With such an epic start before the doors had even opened, maintaining the high level was paramount and TWE Show didnt disappoint.


Bowmore 1964/1979 12yo Ob. ‘Bicentenary’ 43% [75cl] WB93.90[102] WF93 WF96 [WF]96

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  • N: After all those superb pre-show drams, there’s nothing quite like this. Initially a bit winey but then they just opened the bottle. Imagine, the juice sat for 38 years in the bottle before finally being opened & drunk. Secondary notes of paraffin, curry spices, soft crystallised ginger and Armagnac funk.Later I sniffed tOMoH’s sample that had opened up incredibly to show all its plumage. Next days bottle was opened and the cork fell inside. The Bowmore stand decided it was unfair to sell it as is, resulting in AS getting a huge gratuity pour. Again, the bouquet was enormous. Namely a Karuizawa-esque floral bouquet of fruity-sugary-cask complexity, Cognac ‘Lot 65’ WF and more
  • T: Somewhat like old bottles of young Armagnac, if you get me. it’s beautifully intact though with some fragility, even if the nose hasn’t opened up yet. Soft and old, sweetly oiled sugar dust.
  • F: Becomes malty-soft with ash and struck match. I thought it had finished short but thankfully i was very wrong.
  • C: So unbelievably drinkable, dreamy, incredibly polite & understated. Youth & age sit together, with some credit going to bottle ageing perhaps?

Scores 93 points


5 North port 1976North Port 1976/2017 40yo SV cask #3887 [btl. 194/194] 50.4%

  • N: Baked apple, Battenberg cake, malty dough,..
  • T: Squidgy doughy malt with a sweet putty-oily maltiness and some seeded spices [mustard, methi etc..].
  • F: Liquid, flowing movement. Amazing putty notes.
  • C: Love this. My first North Port and given the rarity, possibly the best i may ever try.

Scores 90 points


Convalmore 1984/2017 32yo Ob. Special release [3972 bts] 48.2% WBWF93[Angus:91] SW83

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  • N: Oily barley with lemon citrus, but this isn’t modern, straight-ahead Speysider whisky – this is beautiful old juice. There’s a developing grassy nose, cream=putty, pickled walnuts and an array of choice nibbles from a sweet cheese & wine laden picnic.
  • T: Honeyed straw that hangs around. The highlight is the mouthfeel transition from grassy to waxy clingfilm with a soft-dry-squidgy sweetness. A long travel with a soft peated-putty, honey-malted sweetness.
  • F: Follows up with a long finish of soft bitter-sour complex-sweet cream and sweet herbal notes.
  • C: Delicious stuff. Right up there with Phil’s Brora this morning. Talking of Brora, let’s try Diageo’s latest Special Release Brora.

Scores 92 points


Brora 1982/2017 34yo Ob. Special release [3000 bts] 51.9% WB91[2] WF88 SW89


  • N: A light crisp natural barley grass style with crispy natural [home-popped] popcorn, a little vanilla, a touch of honey and oats. Very simple and most unrecognisably Brora.
  • T: A little more recognisable as Brora with it’s crisp and sweet arrival. There’s a wisp of smoke before the mouthfeel quickly thins.
  • F: Very light ash and malty-clean cocoa at the death with witch hazel & dry grapefruit pith playing us out.
  • C: It’s a rather nice whisky but i think Brora fans may be disappointed, not least because of the price but because of it’s indistinctive Brora style. In the following days, Diageo announced that Brora [as well as Port Ellen & Rosebank would reopen, heralding the end of the old era [and stocks, highly likely] and the beginning of a new. That makes this ‘old’ old Brora.

Scores 88 points


Springbank frank.png

Springbank 1974 25yo Ob. Frank McHardy [610 bts] 46% WB92.45[66] WF91 [WM]82[9]

  • N: Herbal sweet & oily.
  • T: The same again, and chalky.
  • F: Green pepper corns without the heat [Nick].
  • C: Amazing whisky on so many levels. What a morning.

Scores 92 pointa


With both Golden Geisha’s present. AS recommended i go for the 33yo whilst Nick plumped for the other. In that order then:


Karuizawa 33yo [2017] Ob. Golden Geisha cask #3579 [129 bts] 63.4% WB92.14[16]

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  • N: Incredibly it’s almost green in colour which is no bad thing. Blue and you should think again. Notes of Demerara sugar, black onion seeds, garam masala, ground hog plum powder, fuchia, sweet pea, brinjal pickle and lots of confectionary fruits.
  • T: Yep that’s the business. At first it’s very old & woody, with a basic sherried spirit base. Before that is, the complex stuff kicks in and the magic begins. The spirit and wood begin to swirl. There’s lots of spirit & lots of wood and yet there’s never a clash, only balance & integration. No problem adding water. In fact it becomes even more alive, the wood brimming and zinging with life.
  • F: Long and just so/most composed. Slight clean ash at the end with unusual/exotic vegetal butters.
  • C: One of the most composed Karuizawa‘s I’ve tried. It also reinforces how amazing that previous [‘64] Bowmore was. Subjective palate preferences will divide them but both are equally amazing as they are different.

Scores 93 points


Karuizawa 31yo [2017] Ob. Golden Geisha cask #3667 [225 bts] 59.4% WB92.33[5]

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  • N: Burned popcorn, furniture polish & oil=soot amongst other things. I’ll let you make your own shopping list.
  • T: At first it seems to arrive with generic [European oloroso] sherry, but soon enough the old sherried Mizunara magic comes to light. With it comes a thick oily bite, notes of cherry, Cognac, a little soft rum,… And despite the huge abv [incredible for a 31yo], there’s no bark.
  • F: Chalky ashy coal, more ash,…
  • C: The 33yo is far superior on the nose but i love this ones ashy finish. Not the greatest Karuizawa but ignoring the price, still a super whisky.

Scores 89 points


Let’s see how modern young Kavalan shapes up next to these Karuizawa oldies.

Kavalan Solist Sherry 2010/2016 Ob. cask #S100125006A [btl. 288/524] 57.1% WB88.33[3]

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  • N: Beside the Karuizawa, of course, it’s chalk & cheese – the Kavalan appearing like young rum-like column distillate with notes of sour veg, a little vinegars.
  • T: Decent pancake sherry with a rum-ish waxiness and plenty of rubber developing.
  • F: Ugh no.
  • C: Probably most unfair to compare them and somewhat futile. But then again, Solist Kavalan single sherry cask bottlings have frequently achieved exceedingly high points from many commentators, me included. Furthermore, consistency in Kavalan’s opening early years has been fabulous. This is still really good 5/6yo whisky, but price of this cask has exceeded calibre.

Scores 82 points


Linkwood 1978/2016 37yo Ob. Special release [6114 bts] 50.3% WB90.72[41] WF89

C: Today this Linkwood was overshadowed by most of the above, but it remains a very good and thoroughly enjoyable whisky.

Scores 89 points


Tamnavulin 2009/2017 8yo Dewar Rattray cask #700628 [229 bts] 59% WB0

There seem to be a few more Tamnavulin’s on the scene these days, don’t there?

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  • N: After a raft of brilliant and mature whisky, it’s a shock to return to young spirit – which occupies a majority of the shows fayre. Not much to say aside from creamy putty and some nuttiness.
  • T: Full rich barley.
  • F: Richer still with a barley chew and many raisins.
  • C: i imagine this comes from first fill bourbon. Certainly that is the cask finishing. Good enough and a reality check after those dizzy heights.

Scores 84 points


Let’s try to get back to those dizzy heights.

Bunnahabhain 1987/2017 30yo Dewar Rattray cask #1298 [btl #1/243] 48.3% WB89.50[2]

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  • N: One that harks back to that previous North Port, the Brora, the Littlemill. Here we have a sherry malt with a lovely saltiness, notes of barley straw and fruits synonymous with spirit, slow & long aged in bourbon.
  • T: Complex sweet-sour barley cream with garage & mineral notes. Slick bitter woody fruits and salty caramel with a herbal oaky bitterness.
  • F: Easy-dirty, mixed bag [Ben Nevis-esque] vibe. Light milk-sour conclusion.
  • C: Really lovely and available at a very fair price [£250 Oct ‘17].

Scores 89 points


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North British 1991/2017 25yo Dewar Rattray sherry cask #262058 [533bts] 58.5%  WB81[1]

  • N: It’s a shock going back to grain after all those wonderful & mature pot still vintages. Youthful column-still grain spirit is utterly exposed/naked by comparison.
  • T: Tastes good, rich.
  • F: Shortish blackberry seed finish.
  • C: The palate helps wins me round.

Scores 84 points


Bowmore 1974/2017 42yo SV cask #4435 [btl 183/183] 49.6% WC94

When Sukhinder offered me a smell this this whisky [blind], from one of his awesome 1920’s style glasses, I instinctively knew it was a Bowmore. Not knowing there was a Bowmore behind the SV counter however, i asked whether it was the North Port given it was the only SV ‘under-the-counter whisky i was aware of. Gut frequently trumps brain – Doh!

13 Bowmore 1974.jpg

  • N: Oily, fatty fruits with a remarkable sweetness. Similar in character to the 1964 Bicentenary bottling.
  • T: Squidgy malt with an umami quality that reminds me of modern-ish Clynelish (that SV/TWE cask #12794 WB for instance), with a beautiful oily-sweet floral delicacy, sweet nuts & seeds in a jar as well as roasted/toasted stuff. An intense brew.
  • F: Long, heathery, sweet & dryish.
  • C: Not the emotional experience as I’ve had with some others today, but boy it’s good. Maybe i had become slightly ‘wowed’ out or maybe i was still disappointed in myself for not saying ‘is this Bowmore?’

Scores 91 points


Bowmore 18yo [2017] Ob. 43% WB84.47[484] WF76

14 Bowmore 18.jpg

For comparative purposes, it’s only right we give a current official bottling a go. The 18yo was the oldest current release on offer.

  • N: Showing only a little of the old distillery character.
  • T: Soft yet youthful.
  • F: Heathery chocolate and dry smoke.
  • C: Classically modern, fairly generic and simple. It’s decent malt but seemingly only skin deep. Doesn’t hold up to closer scrutiny.

Scores 84 points


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Clynelish 21yo [2017] TWE/Elixir ‘Art of Whisky Distilling’ [btl #1/251] 56.1% WB89.50[14]

  • N: A good example of a ‘new-skool’ whisky. Becomes more oily with water.
  • T: A bit tannic with very light waxy barley.
  • F: [no notes]
  • C: I know peeps who raved about this. It didn’t quite do it for me in relation to what had gone before, but we did start extremely high.

Scores 86 points




Time for Dublin’ up!


16b Irish 1989 27yo.jpg

(Bushmills) Irish 1989/2017 27yo TWA & TWE 46.8%

  • N: Fruity putty with yeasty beer and lavender.
  • T: Luscious & salivating full bodied distillate.
  • F: Long finish on the same vibe – lavender putty mash.
  • C: Delicious straight off the bat. What a shame there’s so little of vintage Irish juice, hence the price?

Scores 87 points


16 Irish 1990 TWE.jpg[Bushmills] Irish 1990/2017 27yo TWA & TWE [150 bts] 51.3% WB89[6]

  • N: Evokes an instant ‘aah’ from me with further ‘aahs’ all round. There’s a deeper chalk note compared to the 1989 vintage.
  • T: The main theme is pineapple mango putty-mash.
  • F: A bit of fizz before lovely putty fruits and some controlled chalkiness.
  • C: I think these two Irish work as a fine set. This one i find a little sweeter yet deeper and seemingly older, though it’s no more than a year younger.

Scores 88 points



Balblair 19yo [2017] Elixir ‘Art of Whisky Mashing’ [171 bts] 55.9% WB86[1]

C: Balblair tends to be polite and understated – that’s it’s charm. A charmingly good Balblair with decent age [double the current official vintages], and subsequent depth from the mash-y notes.

Scores 88 points


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Glen Scotia 1992/2017 25yo The Whisky Agency & TWE [273 bts] 49.3% WB0

  • N: Deepish sugary malt with a soft sweet distillate funk.
  • T: Strathclyde-esque butterscotch with a sulphur-y tyre note and synthetic confectionary fruit.
  • F: Quite luscious honeyed Polyfilla.
  • C: A mix-and-match malt of high quality.

Scores 87 points


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Bunnahabhain 1989/2017 27yo The Whisky Agency & TWE [247 bts] 44.9% WB89[1]

  • N: A soft one with lovely vintage-style [70’s] bourbon fruits – de oldie dried & confectionary in nature.
  • T: Very polite.
  • F: Chalk powder>milk of magnesia & pencil shavings.
  • C: A more refined Bunna than the Rattray and a wee bit softer, yet still the sails blow high.

Scores 87 points


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Carsebridge 1982/2017 34yo SV sherry cask #74603 [145/169] 49.9% WB0

  • N: Yes yes, a grain at an age where things [chemistry] begin to get more serious. Thick creamy woody vanilla with a nice funk.
  • T: Fairly woody, sour-sweet vanilla and not much else.
  • F: Warming.
  • C: Decently aged grain, initially uneventful and scoring 84. Tasting second time around was far better, +2.

Scores 86 points


Linkwood 1997/2017 19yo SV cask #7553-74 [389 bts] 55% WB85.33[5]

  • N: Fruity spicy bourbon.
  • T: Spicy but luscious.
  • F: Creamy sour.
  • C: Good/decent straight forward, mostly dependable Linkwood.

Scores 85 points


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Tormore 1988/2017 28yo HL OMC #13189 [391 bts] 50% WB91.50[2]

  • N: Raisin distillate with a little copper.
  • T: This one’s a fighter armed with a copper spud gun. More raisins on the turn
  • F: Bready with metal-y raisins.
  • C: An academically interesting natural copper still=distillate driven malt, one i like. Does anyone else put Tormore & Fettercairn in a similar camp, stylistically speaking?

Scores 84 points


Strathisla 1977 40yo GM ‘Book of Kells’ for TWE 48.5% WB93[3]

21 Strathisla 1977 40yo

Sukhinder had to fight hard to be able to use the ‘Book of Kells’ label. G&M are protective of its use.

  • N: Oily soft yet youthful with hessian, nut shells and bourbon fruits – lush fruits at that.
  • T: Lots of putty and congealed oily/fats. It’s just sweet enough. On day two it came across as bottled dunnage in liquid oil form – malty, rounded
  • F: Short. On day two: Malty chocolate with linseeds, light mineral and a touch of soot.
  • C: This didn’t wow me on either day but then it’s not ideal judging these great malts with such time restrictions. Retails for £499 [Nov ’17].

Scores 88 points



Glenlivet 1966/2014 GM ‘Distillery label’ 40% WB93[1]

  • N: Chalky woody fruits. More vibrant with water.
  • T: Light hollow woody fruits. Water drowns it.
  • F: Old steeped stuff with light tobacco ash. I repeat, DO NOT ADD WATER.
  • C: Another one that we felt was a touch ‘past it’.

Scores 86 points


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Kilchoman 2012/2017 4yo Ob. Red wine cask matured [7000 bts] 50% WB87[27] SW79

It’s really worth stopping by the Kilchoman stand, simply to talk to the generously free-talking Anthony Wills.

  • N: Bread=cake dough, red wine and some peat.
  • T: Concise peaty sweet wine.
  • F: Sweet peat.
  • C: An easier/more relaxed Longrow ‘Red’.

Scores 84 points


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TBWC 50yo [2017] Blended whisky #1 batch 5 [btl #531/2000] 46.6% [50cl] WB90[28] Dramble88 Blog

  • N: Utterly moorish nose that comes from great age & blending.
  • T: Lots of consolidated layers.
  • F: Swimmingly concentrated/blended initially but one that comes out just right at the end.
  • C: A strong finish helps maintain overall balance.

Scores 87 points


It’s funny to be finishing on a grain. I wanted to finish on TBWC’s Port Ellen but today’s allocated bottle had inevitably disappeared. I’ll be in their first thing tomorrow. Instead, here’s a 33yo Caledonian. Can’t be bad now can it?


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Caledonian 33yo [2016] TBWC Batch 1 [btl #14/144] 50.3% [50cl] WB79.50[2]

  • N: The nicest oily [rum-like] grain today. Vanilla leads to pineapple with ineviatable suggestions of Pina Colada.
  • T: Water helps the arrival. Creamy vanilla follows.
  • F: Dryish vanilla that remains creamy.
  • C: I prefer the 29yo Batch 2 WB, but i like this too. It’s great to still be seeing Caledonian releases.

Scores 84 points


Can’t say i was looking forward to a six hour gig after all this but i felt incredibly composed considering. First thing tomorrow i will be heading straight to TBWC stand.



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