SWAG at CYWL: Birthday Bash

Yet another ‘live’ SWAG meetup at the fabulous Cut Your Wolf Loose in Brighton. It’s also my birthday! Age-wise, I can tell you there’s an 8 in it!


A CYWL 2008/2021 13yo Glen Elgin at 56.6% is waiting for me on arrival, compliments of the Foz who had read I have a soft spot for this one since discovering it on Halloween. Following on from the Glen Elgin is a 31yo Tormore no less, compliments of Wayne:

Tormore 1990/2021 31yo Whisky Sponge Edition #33 [422 bts] 53% WB89[9] WF88

  • N: Typically coppery, becoming more and more fruity as an hour rolls past. In addition, we’ve wonder stuff such as peanut brittle, honey, a biscuitiness – Nice & Digestives for example,… That the spirit still talks so freely after 31 years is remarkable.
  • T: On the palate, it starts off well and further loosens up with time like a treat. Flavour-wise, we are talking biscuit-sweet/savoury butterscotch with a crisp coppery edge.
  • F: Again, typically Tormore, a quirky yet straight-ahead slightly reserved malt at times – in between a Linkwood and a Fettercairn if you will – becoming maltier whilst maintaining a slightly puckering spirity edgyness.
  • C: Most engaging. This one showcases Tormore’s ability to retain its idiosyncratic form through to full maturity.

Scores 88 points


Oxford Artisan Distillery Oxford Rye [2021] Ob. Heritage Grains 40% WB0

This was a dram being passed around. Don’t mind if I do.

  • C: Being more gin/genever-like than whisky at this stage, I certainly pick up on Nc’nean-esque vibes [WLP]. At just 40% abv and with little body to speak of, I see higher-strength releases have been regarded favourably [WF85]. Let’s also bear in mind that these guys have their own unique and commendable approach to making [English] whisky, and it’s very early days for the distillery.

[No score]


Highland Park 2008/2021 12yo CYWL 64.2%

  • C: Dist: 19/02/08 btl: 26/08/21, simply put, this is perhaps the best dram of the night – so far. No doubt I shall revisit this one another time, for more in-depth scrutiny and analysis [if there’s any left].

[Provisionally scores 89 points]


Next up, yet another birthday treat,.. this one, compliments of Garson.

Ben Nevis 1997/2021 24yo Thompson Brothers [357 bts] 43.2% WB88.56[18] WF89

  • N: Going from strength to strength, this one displays the cleaner/more restrained side of Ben Nevis, so less scrambled eggs and more on pancakes, muffins, bellini’s, whipped cream,… > souffle, creme brulee, olives, olive oil,…
  • T: Continues on the palate with the clean & focused Ben Nevis narrative yet with an apt greasy-ish murky chew. Refill hoggie wonders ensue.
  • F: Admiringly adaptive barley juice with an olive oil-like textural chew to finish.
  • C: A ‘scrubs up nicely’ shining star that shone brighter and brighter as the afternoon ticked over into evening.

Scores 90 points


I overhear there’s a Dumbarton in the house. Closed in 2002 [SW], I seize on a dram with immediate effect. I don’t think many peeps realise how rare, grain from this closed distillery is and how good it can be. Jeez, I’ve [just about] more Dumbarton’s in storage than I’ve ever actually tried. This will make it three.

Dumbarton 1997 22yo AWWC ‘Infrequent Flyers’ cask #178 [202 bts] 55.3% WB84.57[11]

‘Infrequent flyers’ sounds like a satirical travel retail reference, but it’s nothing of the sort. Further reading: alistairwalkerwhisky.com

  • N: Despite being a relatively contemporary vintage [for a grain], this is a whisky more in the [often unquantifiable] ‘old-style’, an inviting, beguiling,.. fine-oiled honeyed grain without an overt bourbon-y imprint. Let’s dive on in.
  • T: Old style indeed. One rarely comes across these delicate if precise styles of grain anymore,… a charmer not un-reminiscent of Glen Scotia’s 15yo circa 2016/2017 [WB] in some respects.
  • F: Peanut-ish oils,…. butterscotch and a French Fancies sweetness.
  • C: I’ve noticed a number of Dumbarton parcels come & go last year [2021], and at reasonable prices too. Grab every one you see whilst you can.

Scores 87 points


Another birthday dram from Garson. Merci.

Callisto IV 2008/2018 09yo Scotch Universe ‘116° P.7.1’ 1846.454.7% WB88.67[83] WF82

This is an undisclosed Caol Ila from a first-fill ruby port wine barrique – but is it a finish or full maturation, and what’s with all those [Ardnamurchan-esque] numbers? They aren’t simply coordinates.

  • N: This would be a fun one to nose in front of a flavour wheel. Being so open, it’s easy to pick out notes from a broad flavour spectrum that sees the smokiness high, the peatiness is low, and a consolidating port grape sweet spot in the middle.
  • T: Same again, the smokiness turned up, the peatiness turned down,… the grape EQ-ed ‘flat’, as we say in the music business.
  • F: Slightly waxy, a pinch of salt, cinnamon,… some new wood.
  • C: An easy pleaser for sure. Add a chunk of ice and let’s call it dessert.

Scores 84 points


That’s a good place to conclude proceedings at CYWL. I’ve paced myself remarkably well this evening though there may be more to come,…. there’s always more! A number of us make it back to the home of the Foz’s infamous Living Library. There, I finally get to try the Glenturret everyone has been raving about. Expectations are high, but knowing me, it would be typical if I was the only one who wasn’t as enamoured with it as the majority seem to be.

Glenturret 12yo [2020] Ob. Maiden Release 46% WB84.82[130] WF85

  • N,T,F: Many peeps are likening this to old Macallan though I’ve not seen a single or credible side-by-side comparison just yet. I find a moreish squidgy syrupy chewy sherried wee-beastie with a desirable dirty underside and a smoky touch – probably char note – in the background. I struggle with the rubbery/syrupy element – PX in conjunction with oloroso casks,… even some red wine perhaps? – a contemporary take on the 20th century sherried style which, frankly, has been done to death in recent years. On the plus sides, there’s a commendable blended maturity here and no overt resinousness from the wood itself.
  • C: From almost total obscurity to this, hasn’t Glenturret come far?! Though there’s little [previous] distillery character to glean, no doubt this will help redefine Glenturret for years to come.

Scores 85 points


Thank you Swaggers, for an excellent birthday bash.





6 thoughts on “SWAG at CYWL: Birthday Bash

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