We start this bottle polishing session with a [barely legal] whisky from one of Scotland’s more recent upstarts – Nc’nean.
Nc’nean 3yo  TBWC Batch #1 [411 bts] 60.2% [50cl] WB85.29
So what’s all the fuss about with Nc’nean then? MoM: ‘,.. the first fully organic modern distillery in Scotland powered by 100% renewable energy‘,.. their bottles made from recycled glass, and there’s more. Further reading ncnean.com. As far as I know, this is still the first independent bottling of Nc’Nean, so yet more kudos to TBWC.
- C: Perhaps it’s the provenance of Nc’nean that we should be focusing on, more than its young maturing spirit in the developmental stages. As Malt-Review says ‘,… things get interesting when we see the beginnings of a core range. This is what a new distillery will be built and judged upon‘. That said, I find this independent release very botanical aqvavitae/genever-like. It’s a bottle I’m only likely to grab off the shelf if I’d had one too many, or have guests who like gin. It’s pricey too [50cl bottles remember]. Of course, it’s uber-popular amongst the many.
A young single cask grain I first reviewed on these pages back in October 2016 [WLP90]. Following on from a similarly young Strathclyde cask #11062 [WLP90], it was only my second ever blog entry. This is the last of three [possibly four] bottles that I’ve previously devoured, and then shared amongst Swaggers for ‘What’s in Your Cupboard’ tasting in February 2021 [WLP].
- N: Resinous boozy sawdusty toffee > butterscotch > [distilled] maple syrup > pancakes/crumpets, and – as an afterthought – with a hint of/craving for ozone/vitamin D. Perhaps I’ve been deprived during the winter lockdown? The last dram brings salty sake, coffee [synthetic mocha?], petrol, syrup, herbal toffee/caramel,.. Enough already! Every dram from every bottle has provided a wonderful & unusual array of things.
- T: Go find a full spectrum of quirky herbal mildly salty sour-sweet industrial all-sorts. it’s boozy- sharp initially, turning > [sake]-milky-sweet into tempered-resinous/spicy runny butterscotch = caramel >> caramel coffee,…
- F: ,… toffee brine, a moreish [eggy soldiers] pepperiness~more resinous/caramel-milky-oozing >> sawdust-y,… with liqueur-like boozy remnants,.. more [instant] coffee,..
- C: My view of this cask has wavered little since first contact with my first bottle in 2015. It’s one of the best 9yo’s around, grain or otherwise. Sad to see this one go.
Scores 89 points
Allt-a-Bhainne 2008 9yo SMWS 108.10 ‘A wooden Spoon to Savour’ [114 bts] 61.2% WB85.67
- N: A green-ish/soft resinous-ish/clean-aged [emulsion-y] boozy number towards methylated spirits, paint fumes,…rum,… that kind of thing – but it’s the clean unctuous sultana-ey barley cream that wins me over. With a slight fungal huskiness, we’ve additional notes around salty caramel-y orchard oily soft fruity [melon < wrinkly Cox pureed apples not quite yet on the turn] = citrus, and not too prominent vanilla.
- T: ‘Well firm’ and present, the [resin-ish] luscious/oily~creamy spirit fizzes in with a citric salty > dry sourness into apple-fruit caramel > vanilla,…. stretching out into more rich lively [olive] oil & allium-fresh savoury-sour barley spirit-led travel. At times, it’s as if there’s an equally high sweet versus highly citric salty sour ratio at the same time, which makes for a beguiling and intensely engaging experience.
- F: Uninterrupted sailing for the salty oily barley spirit, the firm vanilla-ey cask influence just about playing second fiddle. Changes aplenty with additional water, however – throughout.
- C: I loved this the moment I tried it as a snifter at the SMWS in 2018. Perhaps 88 was a slightly ambitious/excitable initial [provisional] score, yet not without merit. Being simple yet not easy, it’s a whisky that’s not so obvious right away, but as is so often the case, vigilant water management, patience, and determination yield excellent results.
Scores 87 points
A Fine Christmas Malt 19yo  TWE Blended Malt [1918 bts] 44.5% WB86.20
Last year’s Christmas Malt wasn’t exactly a hit at WF Towers . This year of all the years – the ‘letting go’ one [WLP] – I randomly decide to bite on [a half-share of] this mystery blended malt. All part of the ‘letting my hair down’ program you see! Through the grapevine, we are told this is mainly made up of Macallan and Tamdhu.
- N: A raisiny slightly woody nose with a little honey citrus.
- T: Pretty much same again, it remains woody [grassy] and slightly sharp on the [raisin-y] malty citrusy side of life, in keeping with a number of G&M’s Speymalt’s in recent years.
- F: Familiar whisky all-sorts that one might find from a 19yo [sherry refill] Glenlossie, Dailuaine – or indeed – Tamdhu.
- C: A little edgy [a smidgen over?], this is a fine session malt. There’s nothing particularly outstanding to report, but competency is [as expected] high.
Scores 85 points