B-sides: Another half dozen

Today, a random selection of ‘B’ drams I’ve enjoyed recently. Let’s start with two bourbon’s.


Virginia Black 2yo [2019] Ob. American Whiskey 40% [75cl] WB85[2]

With a high [yet unknown to me] rye content, this is aged 2-4 years apparently.

Virginia Black 2yo [2019] Ob. American Whiskey 40%.jpg
[WB photo]
  • N: Bourbon is great when there’s a toasted toffee savoury sweetness with a touch of herbal sour. This is that.
  • T: Smells and tastes way more than 40%. I’d have said 46% easy. A bit spirity then and thin [mouthfeel] to start, but it’s a small sample that’s been hanging around a bit. There is however balance and a lovely late chew. Maybe this wouldn’t have worked as well at higher strength.
  • F: Sweet dry with gentle spice – the quality rye showing, and some of that ageing too.
  • C: Sure it’s lacking on arrival and depth but I really enjoyed the well-balanced profile. Thanks to Yan.

Scores 83 points


William Larue Weller 2003/2016 12yo Ob. [13420 bts] 67.7%/135.4 proof [75cl] WB90.85[50]

11 William Larue Weller

  • N: I tried this once before, nearly three years ago, so a revisit is certainly justified given how much I enjoyed it [90]. This is a shopping list nose but to spare you the agonising detail, in short it’s all about the abundant & deliciously rich vanilla (but not in a first-fill whisky way), and the coulis fruits – strawberries, raspberries, blackberries – only a shade confectionary. There’s a huskiness too with only a medicinal hint. 
  • T: With water – boom, fruity! Get the water management right for a rapidly ascending oily bitter-savoury-sweet fruit explosion that stretches out. Oily oily and more oily savoury fruit juice – pow!
  • F: More luscious oily vanillas that stretch out further & further with a bitter medicinal touch at the end on aniseed, bitter menthol and husky liquorice wood.
  • C: This certainly deserved a revisit. It’s changed a bit, I’ve changed a lot, but the score remains.

Scores 90 points


Next up, two contemporary Islay’s.

Bruichladdich 2009:2017 8yo Ob. [18000 bts] 50%.jpg
[WB photo]
Bruichladdich 2009/2017 8yo Ob. The Organic [18000 bts] 50% WB84.80[44] WF89

This was a bar sample acquired on Bruichladdich’s Feis Ile Open Day 2018, enjoyed in Campbeltown a year later.

  • C: A very giving solid performer with a wide spread of clean fresh summery offerings. That barley talks a good talk.

Scores 88 points


Bunnahabhain 12yo [2018] Ob. 46.3% WB84.87[227] WF84 ralfy91 WLP82

An old favourite tasted blind.

Bunnahabhain 12yo [2018] Ob. 46.3%

  • N: Linseed, putty, potting sheds,… all sorts and old skool in style.
  • T: With a larger ppm count than usual [coming from a previous Laphroaig I reckon – whoops], this is a cracking batch that offers something for everyone.
  • F: Finishes aptly.
  • C: This is certainly the best 12yo Bunna I’ve had [and I’ve had a few], likely aided by previous drams so I need to be careful with scoring here. Maybe someone should start ageing Bunnahabhain in ex-Laphroaig casks if they haven’t already.

Scores 87 points


How about another ppm-low 12yo Islay, bottled back in the 1980’s?

Bowmore 12yo [1980’s] Ob. 43% [5cl] WB90[3] [WB]89.52[132] [WF90] SW9 WN89

I’ve heard excellent things about this 12yo in miniature & full bottle form. A one litre bottle recently came up for sale at auction, holding fast with a bid of around £120. Living on a prayer that the price would remain stupidly low, I thought I’d ‘try before I, er,… bid’. Late in the day it broke the £300 mark and beyond. Pah!

Bowmore 12.jpeg

  • N: A number of peeps have mentioned this one’s lack of fruits. I see what they mean. We have instead very pleasant rounded aromas with a touch of smoke, descriptors consolidated within their oaky bourbon host. Varnish and oils shine here also, so it’s a savoury one, a rich savoury one.
  • T: There’s so much here if rather stewed and a touch swamped, this particular miniature rather bogged down by the OBE. Still, we’re predominantly headed in a bourbon cask direction, possibly with a little sherry and certainly some soft farmy phenols. Waxy-dry on the turn, becoming rather chewy.
  • F: Rounded enough to be not quite cloying. Lovely & fairly long dry farmy barley finish, becoming more waxy and chewy later.
  • C: Nothing appears too out of place with this sample and I really like the farminess and the maturity. Fortunately I have a few more of these miniatures to try & compare for another time.

Scores 88 points


Let’s stay in the 1980’s, just.

[Balvenie] Burnside 1989/2015 26yo Cadenhead Small Batch [282 bts] 48.8% WB88.32[21]

Take 2 for this one also [WLP90], but I didn’t know it at the time.

[Balvenie] Burnside 1989:2015 26yo Cadenhead Small Batch [282 bts] 48.8%.jpg
[WB photo]
  • N: ‘All-fruit cake decoration deliciousness‘ is all I noted because I was too engrossed in enjoying every tropical fruity moment. So much to love.
  • T: More of this in my life please. What is it Mark Twain said? “Too much good whiskey is barely enough”. A desirably weighted body to start,….
  • F: ,… seemingly bottled just in time, but even its slightly aged flaws are enjoyable.
  • C: Whilst I’m currently re-embracing entry-level whiskies again, these really good oldies [even when they aren’t perfect], put it all back into perspective once again. Whisky isn’t all about age, no, it’s all about maturation that occurs with age.

Scores 89 points







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