Bottle Polishing: An Autumnal Quartet, 2021

Today’s random bottle polishing line-up consists of:

  • Glenfarclas 105, 8yo SWC Inchmurrin, Abhainn Dearg Madeira Cask, and a 1976 Tomintoul. Let’s crack on!


Glenfarclas 105 [2019/20] Ob. Travel Retail 43% [1 ltr] WB84.34[196] WF81/WF87 WM[’12]87[1] WLP182 WLP283 SN

A bottle I have tolerated for three years is finally polished. In-between blending it away and sharing it out, my insights each year were as follows:

  • 2019: Initially scoring this 77/78, more than a 1/3rd down, I’d say it’s adequate drinking fodder at best.
  • 2020: Resigned to the occasional hip-flask, “the type of whisky a bloke in a pub would offer you for your first one”, [Ashley].
  • 2021: [Still] feels more like a chore than a pleasure.

Time to bury the hatchet. From the heel of the bottle, here goes. Bear in mind, I’ve always been a fan of the 105.

  • N: A vanilla-ed~cinnamon-y/sandy > orangey/sherry syrup-ed spirity/chemically-malty/metallic nose, one that’s nigh-on impossible for me to attribute this to pot still whisky against a young ‘grain’ whisky from a column still.
  • T: Indeed, this is not far from young grain spirit, except some grains  – 9yo Strathclyde [WLP], 4yo Loch Lomond [WB], for example – are far superior. With a sharp/cutting/sandpaper-y/cinnamon-y/ > peppery ~ raisiny/grainy/sandy orange-ish Lucozade-lozenge into banana-ish fruitiness, I ask myself – of this palate-wrecking stuff – am I now simply drinking this for its ethanolic properties?
  • F: Continues rum-like, [feint-y] orangey, banana-y [husky coconut hints = optimistic stuff],… cinnamon-y/peppery/chemically [again],…
  • C: After that disappointing Glenfarclas 18yo [WLP81], and now this! No one can say I didn’t give it my best shot. I’m so pleased mostly everyone is more enamoured with it. A poor [travel retail] batch perhaps?

Scores 77 [at the most]



[Loch Lomond] Inchmurrin 2009/2018 8yo Ob. for SWC Oakwood Avenue [186 bts] 46% WB85[2] SWC WLP1[86] BMMu

  • N: Not sure I’ve much more to add than my first impressions [WLP86]. After my positive experience after positive experience with sherry of late [WLP/WLP], this whisky hits the sherried-malty spot very nicely indeed. In the main, it’s raisins/dates/prunes/wax capacitors/crushed nuts/dried bread dipped in that honeyed-oozing [manzanilla] sherry,… wee wee wee, all the way home.
  • T: A youthful one but without any feinty immaturity [105!]. Being moderately [sherry]-sweet and incredibly well tempered, it’s incredibly easy to drink. Being so sherry-led, it works effortlessly with food too – try olives for starters! Chocolatey, citrusy/gingery, and [flor?]/waxy on the turn,…
  • F: ,… with a little spice to compliment the continuing manzanilla-driven sweetness. After all that [sherry], there’s the maltiness right at the tail.
  • C: Looking at my initial notes, I think I sighted this one rather well from the off. It’s one of those malts where the moreishness [= consensus] allows for/forgives any technical ambiguities.

Scores 85 points



Abhainn Dearg Madeira Cask [2020] Ob. CS 63% [50cl] WB0 WB86[1] website

After bottle-splitting a significant amount of this small pricey bottle [£95] with fellow Swaggers, I’m left with a 10cl sample to play with. After my first contact with it at the distillery [WLP+/-86], here are my [re-review] findings.

  • N: This fills a room just pouring it into the glass. Like a late-into-the-night University project, this reminds me somewhat of that infamous ‘Moscato finished’ Three Ships [WLPNS]. More generally, we might be talking of Port Charlotte > Ardmore < or Ledaig’s heavy peatiness, stylistically. Add to that, a healthy portion of full-bodied vegetal-sweet wine influence, oily/fatty barley, and underlying soft/refill bourbon-y woodiness. Along with that, we’ve an array of burnt materials [vegetal and manufactured], a curious/unique fruity [orangey?] floral [boiled/damp scented flowers] smoked [grilled chestnut & Swarfega] oily detergent/cleaning spray vibes,…. tomato ketchup in gherkin juice,… socks sprayed with furniture polish & vanilla essence, squidgy sweet yet tart lemon meringue,… Then there’s the [slightly curried] meaty fish skin complex. It’s an evolving dram with established focal points. Against what I said last time, the 63% strength [for me right now] is nigh-on perfect, those un-chill-filtered fats oils esters and aldehydes, alive and kicking!
  • T: There’s a lot to process initially. Though not immediate and certainly not overpowering nor too distracting nor defining, it’s soon fishy [canned/metallic tuna & mackerel in the main, a little sardine juice and grilled kipper skins], followed by an injection of thick dry sweet n sour wine-derived fruitiness, and a firm saltiness. A metallic potato note not dissimilar to a [Kuro Kirishima] shochu I’m currently reviewing provides a steadier platform in the middle which aides a plentiful journey with a succulent soft abv/woody spiciness on the turn – a complex yet subtly crafted mix of herbs & spices, Szechuan sauce [the Foz],.. and turkey meat?
  • F: After an Intense but most manageable [even neat, certainly] palate,.. you can still revisit the underlying barley. The mackerel/kipper skins envelop around the not-pushy-yet-persistent cask, repeat, joined by more of that likeable & curious sweet-vegetal bitter-woody [now dryish] oiliness. Heavy vanilla-ey [sooty] ash and the remnants of dry sweet-vegetal grape tannic notes linger, followed by [orange juice to sweet squeezed lemon] fruity cellulose > waxiness,… Angostura Bitters,… more woodiness,…
  • C: I’ve waffled way too much, as usual, but Abhainn Dearg shows us there is another way. A triumph really. Further reading [WLP].

Scores 87 points


Tomintoul 1976/1993 17yo MoM Hogmanay Dram cask #7353 [btl #75/150] 43% WB87.50[2]

After first contact with this oldie in 2020 [WLP+/-87], here’s my full bottle report.

A formidable retailer MoM may be, but can I recall a single stellar bottling from them as independent bottlers? Tomintoul is a steady ship that has remained true to its course through decades of changing times, so expectations are realistic. 

  • N: As expected, this is delightful/regulation/no funny business whisky – Tomintoul through and through. Yet, if you told me this was 1970s, even 1960s G&M Balblair, I’d have bought that too. Profile-wise, we’ve a comforting/familiar soft squidgy floury- barley sweet > sour citrus chalky=bread flour soapiness [in a good ‘Lush’ way], as well as rosehip, camomile, and lime tea.
  • T: Soft sweet-lemon citrus-to-sour > ‘wash-like’ chalk soap into an agreeable woody bitterness.
  • F: Soft floury = chalky,…… sour – barley savoury-sweet chew,…. with more of all of the above. Same same throughout.
  • C: Even if I was overly optimistic on first contact, this remains a rather ‘classic’ old skool refill Speysider.

Scores 84 points





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