2 by 2: Open & Closed – Annandale & Imperial

IMG_0007One of Scotland’s newest distilleries now has whisky. [I was told that] these ‘Early Production’ single malt releases represent six weeks of production in Annandale’s first year.

The story goes that in November 2014, 20 Buffalo Trace ex-bourbon casks [10 peated, 10 non-peated], were pre-selected as standout casks, well before they had become whisky. The peated & non-peated casks were then separately married as they came of age, before being bottled and released at £300 a pop. Price-wise, this is Annandale playing the long game, attempting to cash in ahead of the flippers & investors. I hope it works out for them.


Annandale Man o’Words [June 2018] Ob. [Early Production – non-peated] 46% WB80[1] Website

Annandale Man o’Words [June 2018] Ob. [Early Production - non-peated] 46%.jpg

Made up of 10 [apparently, ex-bourbon only] casks, selected from a total of 103 that were produced in Annandale’s first year of production.

  • C: Very sweet cream & Jim Swan-esque overall.

Scores 80 points


Annandale Man o’Sword [June 2018] Ob. [Early Production – peated] 46% WB80[1] Website

Annandale Man o’Sword [June 2018] Ob. [Early Production - peated] 46%.jpg

Of the 85 peated casks Annandale produced in 2014, 10 selected casks went into producing this early batch of peated whisky.

  • C: I thought peat worked best for Annandale’s spirit when I tried their Man o’Swords over Man o’Words [blog] a few years ago. As actual whisky with its bready/putty profile, I think the peat works pretty well here too.

I look forward to Annandale’s further development, as its whisky ages in the years to come.

Scores 81 points



Imperial distillery
Pic from whisky.com

Sadly demolished in 2013 to make way for the Dalmunach distillery, Imperial didn’t actually make any whisky after 1998. However, there are still some cracking Imperial vintages from the early-mid 1990’s coming from the independents.


Imperial 1997/2018 21yo Elixir SMoS cask #2473 [193 bts] 50.6% WB88.20[7] tOMoH7/10

Imperial 1997:2018 21yo Elixir SMoS cask #2473 [193 bts] 50.6%.jpg

  • N: One with a sweet-ish spot.
  • T: With a decent sweet, lemon-y, jammy journey, age & youth are candidly revealed.
  • F: A malty, sour-sweet finish.
  • C: A good one for sure. This proved very popular, as did the 22yo that followed.

Scores 87 points


Imperial 1995/2018 22yo Elixir SMoS cask #5410 [202 bts] 43.3% WB88.13[10] tOMoH9/10

Imperial 1995:2018 22yo Elixir SMoS cask #5410 [202 bts] 43.3%.jpg

  • N: Lighter [7% abv lower] than the 21yo, though similar in profile.
  • T: Similar again to the 21yo, yet more tincture-y/concentrated. A moorish heart reveals a gooey muffin & a donut-y doughy sweetness.
  • F: It’s more oaky than the 21yo on the turn, though still simularily sweet-ish.
  • C: Subjectively I prefer this simply because of its moorish centre, though objectively the 21yo maybe a whisker more balanced. I’d need more time with both to be certain. Also, that extra abv helps the 21yo, but both are equally excellent expressions

Scores 87 points


Further reading:





Barnacle geese at Loch Gruinard, Islay


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