As is the way with these weekend festivals, there’s a lot to see. Thankfully I’ve kept my notes very concise this year.
With no plan, they came in any which way and TBWC is always a great place to start.
Tormore 21yo  TBWC [btl #67/149] 46.8% [50cl] WB86.50
- N: Sweet, malty and instantly likeable – much like 24yo Whiskybroker Tormore I’m currently enjoying WB.
- T: Pleasingly, there’s more of the same action. Heading dunnage-y.
- F: Malty distillate finish.
- C: Feels like it could have been left longer, but it’s also very fine just the way it is. A solid start to Whiskylive 2018.
Scores 87 points
- N: Surely this is this Cognac, or a [70’s Darroze] Armagnac? It’s become a little syrupy over the years. What casks are these?
- T: Just like a Cognac on the palate. It’s fairly oaky/grape-y dry with a strange separation of the grape sugars from the oak – or a perception there-of.
- F: Heavily oaky/grape-y tannic before a more salivating Armagnac chew.
- C: Tasted blind, I wonder how many would say this is whisky? See whiskynotes.be for some information regarding Willowbank’s use of French oak wine casks. Would I score this a higher mark as a Cognac or Armagnac? Very possibly.
Scores a near miss
My lovely horse is back though this batch was already released last year in 2017. This year , TBWC released another Irish batch 2, a 12yo.
- N: A quiet, dry bourbon cask fruitiness, mainly on honey & lemon.
- T: A gentle start before the putty fruits open out a little.
- F: Dry sweet putty barley sugars and bourbon candy.
- C: Young distillate style, at times more Speyside than Irish, but we know this regions game is a tenuous one. Reminds me most of James Eadie’s Trade Mark X WB0.
Scores 83 points
[Ailsa Bay] TBWC Blended malt Scotch #4 6yo  batch #1 [btl #526/625] 53.6% [50cl] WB84
A tea-spooned malt from a Lowland distillery that rhymes with Teresa May.
- N: A finely tempered, pongy-malty sweet young spirit.
- T: Sweet barley distillate – a little green, and even more Trade Mark X-like than the previous Irish.
- F: A long sugary & chocolatey finish with a yummy mouthfeel.
- C: A young-yet-ready whisky, the best ‘Teresa May’ I’ve had – and that’s nothing to do with the fact that Alwynne Gwilt is standing alongside.
Scores 81 points
Have you noticed, we are getting younger and younger? Then, as if to emphasise the point, Dave passes this to me. Bring it on!
Reservoir Rye new-make spirit  abv unknown
- C: Coppery sulphate and husky cereals. Long finish. Great for daiquiri. Reminds me most of Echlinville’s new-make WB0, the new Northern Ireland distillery who appeared at Whiskylive in 2016.
Not scored. Further reading: Reservoir distillery
Mackmyra 3yo  TBWC Batch #1 [220 bts] 47.2% [50cl] WB88
I’m a fan of Mackmyra and this is my first tasting of an independent release of the Swedish juice. There are currently less than a dozen other independent bottlers who between them have bottled less than a dozen bottles.
- N: Apple orchards, apple pies and a lemon-lime detergent/dunder-y pong turning more curry-like later, followed up by those pine needles that I have found most predominantly in the official Bruks releases.
- T: Lovely distillate, the casks merely serving. Develops with waxy/squidgy fruits & floral putty. An Irish Mackmyra perhaps?
- F: Apple-y & sherry-ish malty & waxy candy drops with more pine needles.
- C: The nose works straight off. The rest gets better and better with time.
Scores 85 points
English Whisky Co. 8yo  TBWC Batch #2 [btl #731/845] 52.3% [50cl] WB0
- N: Spirit driven oily peat – Caol Ila-esque peat with a copper vibe, accompanied by leeks, onions and a Scotch egg.
- T: Elements of Islay have bottled this style many times over. Barley distillate, beautifully dry yet succulent. Perfect actually.
- F: Don’t add too much water or it will cancel itself out.
- C: A malt with lovely form. The best malt I’ve had from the EWC by a long stretch.
Scores 87 points
I missed a couple of releases at TBWC stand but I’ll return for them tomorrow. Thanks to Dave & James.
Meanwhile, Nick invites me to try his latest find.
Teaninich 1983/2017 33yo BBR cask #6739 46% WB94
- N: That’s the ticket. Honey dunnage, glue, balsa wood…
- T: Malty taste,…
- F: Gentle dry heathery finish.
- C: Excellent. Provisionally scores 88/89. I go off to grab my own.
- N: Vintage, chalky yet oily rich honey blossom barley nose. How could you not like this very well-aged style?
- T: Malty & oily, bone dry yet squidgy, chalky savoury. Just so.
- F: Sticky-sweet finish with putty tannins and sugar icing before a light honeyed heathery dry conclusion.
- C: I like it, a lot. Question is, do I like it enough at £295.
Scores 88 points
Whilst at Berry’s I try this North British on Harriet’s recommendation.
North British 1996/2017 20yo BBR cask #224754 54.8% WB0
- N: Welcoming husky column still spirit.
- T: Liquidised fruity cereal bars.
- F: Light vanilla fruits, walnuts and a little spice.
- C: Lovely light grain. Nothing wrong here.
Scores 84 points
Glen Moray 1990/2017 26yo BBR cask #10308 52.5% WB0
- N: Classic Moray profile with the addition of peanuts and some underlying damp lactose.
- T: Pokey-fresh yet with a warm honeyed cloak.
- F: With a little cocoa, otherwise short save for a sustaining hessian cereal note.
- C: Close to an exemplar of this style.
Scores 86 points
It’s great to see Berry’s back at the show. Next door, Murray McDavid have an even older Glen Moray.
Glen Moray 1986/2017 MM cask #2307 49% WB90
- C: Not so representative of Moray as the BBR, and way more woody. It’s lovely but struggles after its competitor. Try with water for a way more sugary oaky juice. Moray handles age so well but this finish shows that sometimes it nears its limits.
Scores 85 points
Murray McDavid ‘The Vatting’ 1989/2017 27yo ‘Malts of Islay’ cask #001 [1071 bts] 44.9% WB88.29
It’s always worth popping over to Murray McDavid to speak to Dean. He always has interesting things to impart. Today he introduces us to ‘The Vatting’. A Jim McEwan experiment consisting of 90% Bowmore and 10% Laphroaig, married in a sherry butt sometime between 1997-1999 and bottled years later. Given I was chatting some, my notes are scant.
- N: Some egg white, liquid onion peat,…
- T: Soapy hints,.. an odd-ball.
- F: I’m not sold on this though there is a decent malt base here. Cereal black currant on the finish.
- C: Is that soap or TCP? Either way, it’s a bit weird. Provisionally scores 78
I ended up trying this again the following day. So, take 2:
- N: I get the sherry for sure, a touch of smoke, more soapy TCP, meaty plasticine and a strange note that flickers between socks & flowers.
- T: Soapy initially, leading to toasted ashy barley.
- F: Road tar and lots more ash. A ‘dark’ finish.
- C: The Laphroaig [style] is dominant, despite making up only 10% of this blend. Not quite the dog’s proverbials this one.
Scores 83 points
We’re getting younger & younger again.
Bunnahabhain 2001/2017 14yo MM cask #150061 [340 bts] 46% WB84.75
After maturing in a sherry butt it leaped into a 1st fill port pipe, so brace yourselves. Tasted blind.
- C: With a strange sherry fungal oakiness, it appears a little fragile, beefed up by a fruity ashy finish. Interesting juice though, very possibly a Marmite dram.
Scores 85 points
And that’s lunch on Day 1. See Part 2/2 here.