An Irish an Islay and an Indie

‘An Irish an Islay and an Indie’ sounds like the start of a bar joke, but there’s no punchline, just three good, affordable, and available whiskies.

Before that trio, first up on this evening’s whisky agenda was a bottle share swap. On the table were recent purchases that included Balblair’s 1991 [WLP89] & 1997 [WLP] vintages, NRoJ’s fabulous 2006 Long Pond [WLP190 WLP290], and a Duncan Taylor single cask release from the new Dalmunach distillery which I shall finish with.

This was followed by an impromptu Dornoch gin tasting. Read all about it HERE if you missed it yesterday.

What followed thereafter were two mystery drams from the Foz.


Redbreast 12yo [2019/2020] Ob. bourbon & sherry casks 40% WB83.80[17] Ralfy90

Redbreast 12yo [2019:2020] Ob. bourbon & sherry casks 40%

  • N: Is this sherry, or maybe madeira cask-matured whisky? It’s odd enough [and estery enough] for Glen Scotia for sure, but there’s something very distinctive about this I feel I should be grasping sooner. Descriptors speak of waxy-to-puttied sweet fruits with a chemical/industrial edge. Becomes more and more pleasant as it opens up, the fruits becoming more tropical [the penny should have dropped by then].
  • T: This is an odd waxy fruity [old?] thing. With a little fizz it becomes more creamy and again, industrial/metallic/putty,… is this a Lidl’s job? It’s Irish, has to be Irish!? More complex fruit sugars emerge over time. Pleasing to see there’s no offensive finishing, as it doesn’t need any. Definitely has some firm age to it.
  • F: Becomes definitively sour with dairy/butyric wax capacitors and subtle oak=malt sugars. The soft vanilla is deep and low key.
  • C: It’s good this, though subjectively, it may depend on what your take on the butyric waxiness is. A snipper’s guess, I shoot for Lidl’s 26yo Irish [WLP187/WLP286]. Revealed! Affordable and commendable, I’m amazed it’s ‘only’ 12yo. Last time I had this was in 2017 when I told myself to buy a bottle. Today, the same score and sentiment.

Scores 86 points


Smokehead [2020] Ian Macleod Islay Single Malt 43% WB81.57[9] [WF]85 MR5/10 thecasks85

Smokehead [2020] Ob.:Ian Macleod Islay Single Malt 43%

  • N: Creamy sweet [> pongy] salty vegetal peat with a touch of TCP matched by a light swish of creosote. Laphroaig surely?
  • T: Hinting at Octomore, I’m embraced by a joyously oily-sweet and salty vegetal malty arrival. Neat, the arrival goes on and on. Water management brings out different oils, salts and peat layers. I find myself inland one minute and standing on the shoreline the next. Only the diesel-y gritty oily mineral quality coupled with a light sour-ash cream [on the turn] makes me think we might be nearer Mull than Islay.
  • F: Still oily [with tiny TCP echoes], I find myself in the malt house surrounded by grain/mineral/rock/earth/muddy/clay/charred oak elementals. 
  • C: Whatever this is [oxidised SMWS Laphroaig?], it’s a fantastic [right time, right place] whisky.

Scores 88 points


Now to the Indie. From Chivas Brothers’ [Pernod Ricard] new Dalmunach distillery comes a single cask sherry octave release, bottled for Tyndrum [Green Welly Stop] by Duncan Taylor.

Imperial distillery
The old Imperial Distillery

A few facts about Dalmunach [mostly from the Whisky Yearbook 2020]:

  • It’s built on the site of the former Imperial distillery.
  • Established in 2014, construction started in 2013, the same time as the Imperial distillery was demolished. All that remains of Imperial are the old warehouses.
  • The distillery is named after a nearby pool in the River Spey,..‘ [SMWS].
  • This heavy-tech/uber-efficient distillery has the capacity to produce 10 million lpa and is reported to be 38% more efficient than the industry average.

Further reading: SW

Dalmunach Distillery
The new Dalmunach Distillery

Dalmunach 2016/2020 Ob./DT for Tyndrum Sherry Octave #10825885 [102 bts] 54% WB0

Whilst there has only been one official release of Dalmunach so far, this is DT’s fourth release – all single casks.

Dalmunach 2016:2020 Ob.:DT for Tyndrum Sherry Octave #10825885 [102 bts] 54%

  • N: Starting with a fed ginger reference, I head straight for the toffee, sweaty melted leathery toffee with a touch of condensed milk, lightly seasoned with ground black pepper – Inchgower-esque. I won’t elaborate on descriptors any further but for three-year-old whisky, on the nose at least, it’s very competent. You could be excused for thinking it a slightly older grain or even a young malt-led blend, such is the simplicity. The uncomplicatedness reminds me plenty of Lidl’s 3yo Queen Margot in that respect [WLP78].
  • T: Somewhat drier on the mouth, especially with water added, there’s body, there’s travel and even some form. Preferred neat, we’ve more leathery toffee from the cask that provides the colour, the spirit firm if bordering-on-the-neutral. What I’d give to have the new make alongside. Distilleries could add an optional extra £5-6 [for a 3cl sample] on top of the retail price, for their efforts.
  • F: With the all-out STR days seemingly behind us, we’ve a subtle-not-syruped malty raisin finish that’s not sherry bombing in any way whilst the tannins and resins from the octave are kept at bay to a fair extent. If only a touch green, dry & briney [with a corresponding mouthfeel], the tasty sherry octave manages to keep the palate interested for a while longer. Concludes with a lingering clean toffee-d oak zing.
  • C: It’s amazing how new distilleries can get so good so quickly before the long waiting game ensues. Displaying competence over everything else, there’s plenty of ways this young whisky can be shaped over time. For competency [at such a young age] and a very well behaved and tasty cask:

Scores 81 points






Bunnahabhain 2013, loose ends


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