And as promised, here’s my review of the original Talisker Storm.
Distillery: Glengyle, Campbeltown, Argyle & Bute, Scotland, UK (J & A Mitchell)
Style: Single Malt Scotch
Age: 12 y/o
Price: $70 (Binny’s)
Appearance: Medium gold.
Nose: Sweet malt, swimming pool, old oak.
Palate: Full bodied and semi-dry. Butterscotch, oak, burn. Hint of sherry and smoke.
Finish: Malty and chewy.
Parting words: This review was from a 200 ml bottle I purchased at Cadenhead’s in Edinburgh back in July of 2019. I was talked into it by the salesperson, without much resistance on my part. It’s hard to find around here and I do like Springbank so it was an easy choice. I’m glad I made it.
Kilkerran 12 isn’t complex, but it is a well-balanced, enjoyable single malt and it is worth the money. If you can find it, Kilkerran 12 y/o is recommended!
Maker: The Glenlivet Distillery, Moray, Scotland, UK (Pernod Ricard).
Style: Cognac cask finished single malt.
Age: 14 y/o
Michigan state minimum: $55 (purchased at Costco)
Appearance: Light copper.
Nose: oak, malt, sweet paprika, dried fig, dried oregano, alcohol.
Palate: Medium-bodied and lightly sweet. Oak, grape soda, apricot, vanilla.
Finish: Classic Speyside. Oak, toffee, burn.
Parting words: I don’t find myself reaching for The Glenlivet malts much (I generally find them dull) but when I saw one of this age finished in a Cognac barrel my interest was piqued. As long-time readers know, I have been exploring the world of brandy lately and I don’t like sherry so this seemed right up my alley.
It is. The Cognac finish is used judiciously adding depth without overwhelming the malt. The price isn’t terrible either. At $55 it comes in under many other comparable single malts from big producers. The Glenlivet 14 y/o Cognac Cask Selection is recommended.
Maker: Niche Brands, Derry, Northern Ireland, UK (Luxco)
Style: Single Malt Irish
Cooperage: First-fill bourbon cask finished
Age: 8 y/o
Michigan state minimum: $38
Appearance: Medium gold.
Nose: Butterscotch, seaspray, apricot, leather, ginger.
Palate: Full-bodied. Toffee, Sauternes, oak, caramel, alcohol.
Finish: Apricots, burn.
Parting words: This is the older sibling of the NAS Quiet Man I reviewed back in January of 2019. I didn’t really care for it at first. I thought it was overoaked and hard to drink. It’s opened up a lot since then and gotten fruitier and more complex. I like it a lot now and $38 isn’t too bad for a good Irish malt these days. The Quiet Man, 8 y/o Single Malt is recommended.
Maker: Highland Park, Kirkwall, Orkney, Scotland, UK
Style: Peated single malt
Age: 12 y/o
Purchased for £55 (around $68)
Appearance: Medium, slightly murky copper.
Nose: Apple cider, peat, leather, smoke, sherry.
Palate: Sweet malt, butterscotch, peat, heather, smoke, seaspray.
Finish: Peat, a bit of sherry, smoke, peat, oak.
Parting words: Highland Park has been my favorite single malt distillery every since I started seriously exploring Scotch back in my 30s. I love its elegance and balance and relative affordability compared to malts I love (Springbank).
So when Liz and I were planning a trip to Scotland, I had thought it might be fun to add a side trip to Orkney. Not just for the distillery, of course, but for the food, the old buildings and the archaeological sites. They were out of scallops when I was there, but everything else was magical. If you don’t mind the weather (50° in the winter, 55° in the summer and wind wind wind), it’s a highly recommended.
When I said old buildings, I meant old buildings. Buildings that were already old when the pyramids were built. Some of them are not quite that old, but the main island (called Mainland) seems like it’s full of Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Medieval, Early Modern and later structures. The sexiest are the standing stone circles, the largest of which is the Ring of Brodgar. It’s a wide circle composed of stones that were brought from different locations around the island.
To the southeast of of the ring is the Ness of Brodgar. It’s an archaeological site that is
about six acres in size (so far). The dig has been going on since 2003 and there are still many buildings that haven’t been excavated yet. That made it the perfect candidate for Highland Park’s annual charity bottle. For every one of the five thousand bottles produced, Highland Park’s parent company donates to the Ness of Bodgar Trust, which funds the dig. Bottles are only available at the distillery.
As for the whisky itself, it’s a more peated version of the classic twelve year old Highland Park expression. It’s well-made like everything Highland Park produces. If you find yourself in Orkney this year, pick up a bottle! Highland Park Ness of Brodgar’s Legacy is highly recommended!
Distillery: Old Pulteney, Wick, Caithness, Scotland, UK. (Inver House)
Bottler: Cadenhead’s, Campbeltown, Argyll & Bute, Scotland, UK (J & A Mitchell & co)
Region: Highlands: Northern
Cooperage: Ex-bourbon casks
Age: 12 y/o (barrelled 2006)
Appearance: Very pale straw (no added color)
Nose: Malt, seaspray, oak, bourbon rickhouse, vanilla, apricot.
Palate: Creamy then hot. With water: toffee, big oak, peach.
Finish: Heat, then vanilla custard. Lighter and oakier with a little kelp.
Parting words: I bought this 200 ml bottle at the Edinburgh branch of Cadenhead’s while on vacation in Scotland back in the first week of July. This is me in front of the store (photo by Liz Wright).
Cadenhead’s is a magical place. The Edinburgh store is small, but one wall is half covered with a chalkboard on which is listed just about every single malt distillery that has produced anything in the past thirty years. They’re arranged alphabetically and color-coded by region with defunct distilleries marked. The ABV and prices of full 700 ml bottles are list too. There is also a cabinet with a large selection of 200 ml bottles (almost all of them).
There were no ghost whiskies for sale that afternoon, but after I overcame my awe I was able to pick out three 200 ml bottles with the help of a couple staff members. If you’re traveling by plane, I would highly recommend the 200 mls to stretch your dollar and not stretch your luggage. We even bought a 200 ml of Cadenhead’s Highland blended malt to enjoy in our hotel room. We finished it before we went back home.
This Old Pulteney was one of them. I asked the staff for something complex but well-balanced and that is this malt to a T. The nose and finish are wonderful, as is the palate, even if it’s a little less complex. I don’t remember how much we paid for it, but I love this malt. Cadenhead’s Old Puteney 12 y/o, bottled 2006 is highly recommended.
Maker: Glen Scotia, Campbeltown, Argyll and Bute, Scotland, UK
Note: Not chill-filtered.
Michigan state minimum: $70
Appearance: Dark caramel. Colored?
Nose: Fruit of the forest pie with vanilla ice cream, roasted almonds.
Palate: Medium-bodied, medium-sweet. Caramelized sugar, high rye bourbon, brown butter.
Finish: Bourbon, vanilla, oak, alcohol.
Parting words: For years, Glen Scotia has been the other Campbeltown distillery, the best known one being Springbank. There’s now a third one, Glengyle, but even that one is owned by the same folks who own Springbank. Springbank had the distinctive bottle, the big fanbase, the cool sounding name and the stable of old Campbeltown names like Hazelburn and Longrow to use for various expressions. Glen Scotia had a generic-sounding name, boring bottles, boring expressions and poor distribution. The name is still there, but the bottle looks good now and there seems to have been an effort on the part of parent company Loch Lomond to improve distribution and upgrade the line with entries like Victoriana and this.
Double Cask shows a good balance of sherry cask, bourbon cask and peat influence. lacks a little in integration but it’s never boring, which is a much greater sin. This is a $70 single malt, although I would hesitate to buy at >$85 or so. Glen Scotia Double Cask is recommended.
P= Pride of Orkney, 12 y/o blended malt
S= Scapa, 1993 (bottled 2008) single malt
H= Highland Park, 8 y/o single malt
Bottler: Gordon & McPhail, Elgin, Moray, Scotland, UK.
P= Highland Park, Scapa.
S= Scapa, Kirkwall, Orkney, Scotland, UK (Pernod-Ricard)
H= Highland Park, Kirkwall, Orkney, Scotland, UK (Edrington)
P: 12 y/o
S: 15 y/o
H: 8 y/o
Price: I forget.
P: Medium caramel.
S: Lighter. Straw.
H: Virtually the same as P.
P: Alcohol, oak, malt, a little peat.
S: Mild.Oak, seabreeze.
H: Toasted almonds, oak, peach.
P: Medium bodied and creamy. Caramel, bourbon.
S: Mild. Not much happening but a little burn.
H: Mild. Butterscotch, peat, lemon meringue.
P: Mild and slightly sweet. Caramel, buttercream.
S: A little fruity. Fades quickly.
H: Slightly chewy but mild. Peat ash, Atlantic ocean.
Parting words: These whiskies come from the two most northerly distilleries in Scotland, Highland Park and the other one in Orkney, Scapa. Highland Park is almost universally beloved for its perfectly balanced and flavorful 12 & 18 y/o bottlings. Scapa is not nearly as well known or highly regarded as HP, but the 16 y/o producer bottling does have its fans. Scapa is unpeated, unusual for a an Island malt, but they did release a peated expression last year.
Pride of Orkney (of G & M’s now defunct “Pride of” series) is a blended malt containing whisky from both of these distilleries. It’s the best of the three. While it’s not earth shattering, it is well balanced with good flavor considering its proof and the fact that it’s a blended malt containing some pretty mild whisky. I suspect it contains caramel coloring. The Highland Park 8 y/o is fine for what it is, a young malt from a good distillery. Higher ABV would do it a lot of favors, but it’s pleasant enough as it is.
Scapa 1993 is one of the dullest single malts I’ve ever had. It doesn’t do anything to distinguish itself, tasting like a generic second-tier single malt. It’s like eating a sleeve of water crackers. It will do if there’s nothing else in the house but you’re left feeling like you just wasted time and calories for nothing.
These three expressions are close to impossible to find on their own now, but I bought this set of minis at a large liquor store just a couple years ago so there are probably more of these sets floating around out there. There is/was also an Islay tripak set. Probably more interesting than this. If you’re curious about the whiskies of Orkney, you might find the Orkney tripak fun but I can only mildly recommend this set.