Odds & Ends: Winter/Spring 2021

Stuff I’ve randomly tried [or re-tried] of late.


Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select Ob. for Gerry’s/Venus 45% WB0 Gerrys

I’ve had this fairly recently and enjoyed it [WLP82]. This generous sample was gifted to me by SWAG member Will.

  • N: An instant pleasure straight off, this is richer/from a fresher bottle than the one I tried in September. The nose is oily-grain/biscuity detergent-fresh with additional notes of leather, tobacco, and banana foam candy.
  • T: A little water helps this one float. The green banana note [from before] is still utterly relevant, though less fluffy than the previous more oxidised/opened bottle. 
  • F: Think [white] ?bread? – couldn’t read my own writing – and peanut shells with a very light resinous dryness thereafter, followed by a touch of soft-astringent-fresh sweet-sour washing powder – in a good way.
  • C: As I said before, ‘an absolute must-try for those convinced that standard JD is the best whiskey in the world’. Despite the small-batch and abv presentation, however, it’s still a tad lacking.

Scores [an excellent] 81 points [the oxidised bottle marginally more favourable on the day].


[Chichibu] Ichiro’s Malt & Grain World Blended Whisky [2020] Ob. 46% WB88.67[3]

  • N: Carb-rich fruity underlying barley lager~beer is often easily found in Ichiro’s expressions, and this uncomplicated and accomplished blend is no exception. Both malt and [a hefty chunk of] grain, are remarkably balanced and complimenting.
  • T: More chewy savoury-fruity barley lager~beer action into sour~sweet citrus creamy toffee – Arran-esque, if even softer, subtler.
  • F: How do they get that citrusy sour green note to be so desirably soft yet husky~creamy,… with low tannins and layered yet unobtrusive vanillins?
  • C: Perhaps the perfect dram for when you’ve exhausted your usual go-to’s? Engagingly simple beguiling grain~malt blend, [still] available for €75. Now imagine this aged at 15 years, 25 years,…

Scores 85 points


Smokehead Islay Single Malt [2020] Ob./Ian Macleod 43% WB76.67[3] [WF85:2006]

C: Obviously [weakish and young] Caol Ila. It’s not quite the Select of Laphroaig, but like the Laphroaig, you can’t fail to feel it’s been stripped/robbed of its full potential. Having said that, it’s certainly drinkable.

Scores 80 points


Highland Park 2009/2020 11yo SMWS 4.267 ‘The Lure of the Orcadian Nuggle’ [255 bts] 62.9% WB[wtf?!]

First-fill ex-bourbon,.. finish!? [Photo representation].

  • N: A classic SMWS-flight appetiser: youthful barley juice all the way.
  • T: Controlled hot stuff, coppery, heady,…. Even diluted, it remains strong, edgy, and tannic.
  • F: Never coming to ground, it seems to hover/float,.. maybe it’s even taken off. With water, I noted olive skin and light peated vodka notes.
  • C: Plenty of positives though not an obvious recommendation for everyone.

Scores 81 points


Loch Lomond 2004/2018 14yo Un-Ob. cask sample #68 55.3%

Ibon, who had this cask sample bottle ‘under the counter’ at Whiskylive 2017, had thought very highly of it. At the time my impressions were shared, but I was worse for wear at the end of a long weekend. To think, I have inadvertently kept a 2cl sample of it for nearly three years since. Let’s see what we have in 2021. At 55.3%, this sample is sure to have stayed in tact.

  • N: It tact it is! As a single cask single malt at 55.3%, it’s hard not to think of SMWS Laphroaig > Ardmore releases. The profile speaks of HD-vibrant vegetal-crisp dry savoury-sweet sea saltiness before all the fruitiness, and of course, the underlying clean=dirtiness [metallic oily tidy garage-y everythings],… light vanilla-y meatiness,… Just like Glen Scotia, what’s a Loch Lomond release without some dirtiness?
  • T: More vegetal salty > waxy=hard butter delights great the palate with some incredible buttery mint chocolate Cornetto vibes appearing at some point before the turn.
  • F: This salty vegetal oily number hangs around.
  • C: A cracking Loch Lomond, easily the best I’ve had. Everything slots into place.

Scores 90 points


Bunnahabhain 2003/2019 15yo Ob. Amontillado finish [btl #1161/1710] 57.4% WB89.61[155]

In tribute to/honour of Wayne’s father.

  • N: This starts with a ‘sherry-ish’ toasty [eggy bready] pongy beautifully firm & salty melding biscuity blissful sweetness with a farmy/ppm hint, rum & sausages, chocolate,.. The oak, malt & cask combo sweetness is simply divine.
  • T: it’s so very reminiscent of actual sherry on arrival, but only initially. Furthermore, being astringent/closed, this one needs plenty of time to open up. After time has passed: intensely salty and malty with an acute salty [again] citrus-savoury-sweet bite, savoury-sweet malty [again] > milky chocolate. And then, a herbal sweet mouthfeel slick develops, and boy, is it desirable! It’s a totally different ball game now.
  • F: Dips quick but then lingers, possessing something of a grand [echoe-y] maturity about it, yet with all that vibrancy and a tasty 15yo Glen Scotia-esque oakiness to boot. That amontillado influence works a treat.
  • C: Strong yet subtle with development after development in the glass, and that slick mouthfeel a game-changer. This’ll only get better in the bottle. What a cracker. Best to my friend.

Scores 90 points


Bunnahabhain 1987-1991/2020 28yo Wemyss Untold Riches [6500 bts] 49.1% WB90.45[169] WN90

So the story goes, there’s a lot of older juice in this one. Apparently, the abv of a very old cask was ‘lost’ [fell below 40%], so some ‘younger’ 28yo juice was added to save it. On the box & bottle it reads ‘A handcrafted whisky from Bunnahabain’. Can this malt live up to the infamy of its spelling mistake? Let’s find out.

  • N: Weighty yet easy, not-overly stewed [green & red – apples etc,…] yeasty fruitiness and plenty of husky honeys [Manuka et al], fruit and cream icing-rich cakes, a touch of mahogany, lemon-sour leaves… and we could go on and on, it’s one of those.
  • T: The palate is where these old Bunna’s can often fail, but this one picks up right where the nose left off. It’s honey, honey and more honey,… stewed oaked fruits over more stewed oak fruits. The [long-married] wood is entrenched with the spirit, but I’m happy with these levels as they are. It’s more biting neat, but then salivates more on the turn.
  • F: More of the same, now with the smallest pinch of rolling tobacco into a citrusy saline note into milky runny toffee. At the death, floral slightly salty dry honeys – all that lot over a long finish.
  • C: Very much in the style of Balblair’s 1989 vintage releases – #3 from memory, could be #2 [or a combo] – this is a honeyed delight, though with a heavier oaked ‘baking’ by comparison. One could easily argue it’s ‘gone over’, but I’ve never been put off by plenty of [moderate-active < refill] cask action, especially when it gives so much elsewhere. £150 is a great price for such a whisky, especially in our current inflated/frenzied single malt whisky climate. I’ve even paid more for similar Bunna’s from Wemyss. I shall have to get myself a bottle.

[Provisionally] scores 90 points, with a full bottle report to follow.





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