Kingston Single Malt Society

A place for you to meet with good friends over a fine single malt whiskey.


Articles and General information on Single Malt Whiskies as well as other Whisky related topics.

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Glenfiddich Winter Storm

Posted by Bill Gorham on December 18, 2017 at 10:00 AM Comments comments (0)

The Glenfiddich Winter Storm was sampled this past December at the annual Kingston Single Malt Christmas Dinner. Click the link to view a video of the glorious liquid and others used in a variety of beverages. All put together by the Barchef

Be sure to check out the other Experimental Series of Glenfiddich on their Facebook page located here;" target="_blank">


KSMS New Look

Posted by Bill Gorham on January 24, 2017 at 7:45 AM Comments comments (2)

You may have noticed that the site looks a little different now. This is as a result of converting the format from a version 2 of the site builder to a version 3. While I could have kept the old look and remained on Sitebuilder 2, it affords an easier method of editing using verion 3. Suffice it to say that all the content is still there, it just looks a little different.





Remnants of Lost Distilleries

Posted by Bill Gorham on February 18, 2016 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (0)

From the February Newsletter of

Glen Albyn, Glen Mhor, Millburn, Rosebank, and Dallas Dhu

Rosebank 25yrs



The history of Scotch whisky begins in 1494. An entry in the Exchequer Rolls notes the purchase of malt for the production of 'aqua vitae'. People today may complain about compulsory retention periods for financial documents, but this document is the first historical testimony about the production of whisky. Ireland only comes second, with the first mention in records dating back to 1608. However, this doesn't mean that the whisky is better in Scotland today or that there hadn’t been Irish whiskey before. Only the documented year counts.

With the progress in agriculture and the early industrialisation, which manifested particularly in the world power of the British Empire, whisky gained ground, too. Copper had become affordable during the transition from the 18th to the 19th century. Thus small distilleries mushroomed up all over Scotland. The farmers were given the opportunity to convert perishable grain into durable and valuable merchandise. The crown soon discovered the possibilities that an alcohol or malt tax would offer. And since it was hard to control compliance with the law in the Highlands, which were difficult to access, they simply prohibited the production of whisky in the Highlands.

An imaginary line from Greenock in the West to Dundee in the East separated the 'forbidden' Highlands from the Lowlands. However, the Highlanders would not abandon the production of their beloved whisky, and thus there were about 14,000 illegal distilleries in the Highlands at the beginning of the 19th century. Yet the actual number might have been even higher. In 1823 a law was passed that allowed the production of whisky in the Highlands again. However, you had to get a licence and pay alcohol taxes.

By the mid-19th century the illegal distilleries had vanished. Alfred Barnard visited the distilleries of the United Kingdom in the 1880s and wrote his famous book about it. In 'The Scotch Whisky Industry Record' there's only given the number of 658 working pot stills for the year 1825. Over the course of the decades also the number of detected illegal distilleries declined drastically. The railway opened up Scotland. On the one hand, this caused concentration processes in the whisky industry. On the other hand, the taxmen could now reach formerly remote regions. There was no more place for illegal activities. After World War II the concentration process was complemented by a strong rise in demand during the following economic recovery. The number of distilleries became smaller and smaller, but the distilleries became bigger and bigger. There were even some extreme extensions at the end of the 60s/beginning of the 70s. Caol Ila, Clynelish, Glen Ord, Teaninich … the list of newly built or massively extended distilleries is long. As the saying goes: One man's joy is another man's sorrow.

While the new and modernised distilleries could produce large amounts at low costs, old distilleries had their problems with that. Glen Albyn and Glen Mhor, two distilleries both erected next to each other in Inverness at the Caledonian Canal in the 19th century, had to be closed during the great British recession from 1980 to approx. 1985 due to lack of demand. First it looked like the buildings of Glen Albyn and Glen Mhor could survive, but in 1986 both were torn down to make room for a shopping centre. There are only few bottles of Glen Albyn and Glen Mhor left in private collections.

The Millburn Distillery, which was also located in Inverness, and the Rosebank Distillery in the Lowlands shared a similar fate. They were also closed in 1983 and 1985, respectively. However, their legacy lives on. Today there are restaurants in the old buildings. You can have a nice dinner and at the same time experience the old charm of the Millburn and Rosebank distilleries. Unfortunately there's not much left of the production equipment of Millburn. However, there are always rumours about a reopening of Rosebank, which lies at the Forth and Clyde Canal, because in contrast to Millburn, at Rosebank the old production equipment can still be found in the slowly decaying buildings. The old Dallas Dhu Distillery fared better. It was also closed during the height of the British recession in 1983, but already in 1988 it was reopened as a non-working museum and was designated a listed monument. Since then the organisation 'Historic Scotland' has been caring for the old buildings and installations. In 2013 even a feasibility study was carried out to determine whether the distillery could be reopened and run profitably within the framework of operating the museum.


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Don't Drink and Drive

Posted by Bill Gorham on October 3, 2013 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Don't Drink and Drive. Have a look at the video link below. It passes a good message to all of our partakers of the uisge beatha.

Drunk Driving Facts presented by Serenity Insurance.

You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.

Glengarry Highland Games Aug 2-3, 2013

Posted by Bill Gorham on July 16, 2013 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Bill Somerville of Gordon & MacPhail and Frank McDonald of Companions of the Quaich will take you on a tour of Scotland stopping at 6 different distilleries, where you will sample a 100 years of whisky without ever having to leave the Highland Games.Sit back and enjoy each dram and hear about the history and whisky making process of each distillery.Your appreciation and understanding of the industry will grow as you get more exposed to the various influences on the final product; geographic area,method of aging and cask type used. Seating is available at $40.00 per person. Reservations are highly recommended. For more information or to reserve a seat please contact Frank McDonald at

The Metcalfe Center (Upstairs)Saturday August 3rd at 2:00pm and 4:00pm

Check out the flyer at GlenGarry Higland Games

Spirit of Kingston

Posted by Bill Gorham on January 22, 2013 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (0)

You will notice in the Whig Standard that there is a story about the Spirit of Kingston and its organizer Sylvain Bouffard. The story describes the upcoming event to be held at the Communications and Electronics Museum on the 23 of February 2013. Below is the link to the story.

The Spirit of Kingston Story in the Whig Standard

By Michael Lea, Kingston Whig-Standard

Monday, January 21, 2013 8:26:41 EST PM

Scotch in a Can: Whisky Maker Scottish Spirits adds aluminum siding to liquor

Posted by Bill Gorham on January 4, 2012 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Scotch in a Can: Whisky Maker Scottish Spirits adds aluminum siding to liquor

Source: Huffington Post




Canned haggis isn't the only aluminum-packaged Scottish export guaranteed to raise eyebrows at a dinner party.

Scotch whisky will soon be sold in a can in the United States, putting a liquor prized for its pedigree and price into a humble container known for its affordability and portability.

"There are many brands on the market and most brands are not created equal," Ken Rubenfeld, vice president of operations for Scottish Spirits Imports, Inc., told The Huffington Post. "But most brands are served as equals in a glass type of vessel."

"Having something that's so creatively different -- it piques the curiosity."

Each can of Scottish Spirits will contain 12 ounces -- about eight shots -- of 80-proof "single grain scotch whisky," distilled and matured for three years in oak casks in Scotland, according to Rubenfeld. The company hopes to have its cans on shelves in major American markets by Feb. 1, retailing for $5 apiece.

Packaging a high-end variety of liquor in what is widely considered to be a low budget container sounds like a novelty. But Rubenfeld insists its convenience -- not comic value -- that will drive sales.

"A lot of people like to have beverages by their pool, on their boat, in a campground, at sporting events or tailgate parties," he said. "It's easier to bring a six pack of a beverage verses bringing a bottle of scotch."

For some, canned beverages carry a low-class stigma. But they don't necessarily mean low quality. In recent years, some microbreweries have turned to cans for reasons including cost, drinkability and sustainability.

"They are opaque, they are completely airtight, and the liners are pretty darn good," said Lew Bryson, managing editor of Whisky Advocate magazine. "It is not going to be affecting the flavor. The problem you run into is who is going to bang out 12 ounces in an evening?"

Unlike bottles, cans cannot be closed after they have been opened. That will force Scottish Spirits drinkers to either finish all 8 shots of the blended scotch in a single occasion, or let some of the booze go to waste.

Critics have argued that eight shots of a beverage with the same alcohol content as venerable scotches including Johnnie Walker Blue and The Glenlivet 12 is too many to be sold in a container that can't be resealed.

But Rubenfeld insists his product does not encourage binge drinking, arguing that consumers will know it should be sipped like Dewars, not gulped like Dr. Pepper.

"We want people to be responsible -- this is 12 fluid ounces of scotch whisky and people should treat it as such," he said. "I would think that your readers and most people of common sense would know that that's a lot of alcohol. They'll crack it open and pour it with Coke or some kind of mixer and have fun with it with their friends."

Soon after the beverage's U.S. release, Scottish Spirits hopes to begin shipping the cans with an attachment that allows them to be resealed, however a spokeswoman said the brand has not yet developed a design for a resealable top that meets company standards. (A can sent to The Huffington Post newsroom did not feature any attachment for resealing the drink).

"When the top is perfected, people will maybe have half a can with their friends and save the rest," said Rubenfeld.

Nearly a year ago, an organization that oversees scotch whisky manufacturing had harsh words for Scottish Spirits, claiming its canned beverage might not qualify as real scotch.

Rubenfeld says his company, which maintains an office in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and is part of a larger company based in the Cayman Islands, has "worked diligently to meet every requirement" outlined by the Scotch Whisky Association and codified by 2009's Scotch Whisky Regulations.

Campbell Evans, a spokesman for the SWA, could not immediately confirm that Scottish Spirits has achieved certification as a true scotch whisky, stating he has not yet examined the beverage.

But Evans says the packaging isn't the problem.

"There is no reason why a product that is a genuine Single Grain Scotch Whisky cannot be sold in a can," Evans said.

Some whisky experts have reservations about the packaging, but Brad Danler, general manager of the Brooklyn, N.Y. whisky bar and restaurant Char No. 4, says it's what's on the inside that counts.

"I understand why beer makes sense going back into cans, but with whisky it's certainly a surprise," said Danler. "I can't say that it makes much sense to me, but if it is delicious, then I will gladly crack one open and enjoy 12 ounces."

Changes to the Website

Posted by Bill Gorham on July 14, 2011 at 12:42 PM Comments comments (0)

You may or may not have noticed but the Web Page address appears differently now. Now if you use the it will appear as The .webs is no longer required.

Also if you have any questions on the site you can contact me at:



Tasting Notes

Posted by Bill Gorham on April 18, 2011 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (0)

I have added a new Category to the News Section. If any of the presenters would like to post their tasting notes should they so desire they can do so in the New section.

I have added the one that I presented from our last dinner. Have a look if you want.

Linked below:

Ledaig Tasting Notes.


The Spirit Journal's 130 Best Spirits in the World 2010.

Posted by Roberto on November 8, 2010 at 8:57 PM Comments comments (1)

?Spirit Journal

Tasting Notes

All rights reserved ?2010 F. Paul Pacult

The following story first appeared in the June, 2009 issue of F. Paul Pacult's Spirit Journal.

The Spirit Journal's 130 Best Spirits in the World 2010.

Each June, Sue and I publish a highly personal roster of my favorite five-star/highest recommendation spirits for the year, as reviewed recently or currently in the Spirit Journal. In the past we've always presented my pet spirits numerically, starting with Number One and including all categories in what amounted to a huge stew of distillates.

For 2010, we decided to shift gears on presentation by isolating the best of the best products by subcategory. In other words, segregate my top tequilas from my top gins, and the gins from the cognacs, and the Scotches from liqueurs, and so on. We think this method of arrangement is better and easier for Spirit Journal readers/subscribers since the list keeps growing every year.

Also this time, we've decided to devote the overwhelming majority of Issue #86 to the 130 Best Spirits in the World because they deserve to be revisited, retasted whenever possible, and discussed amongst friends. It just isn't enough to say that, for example, GlenPissant Malt Whiskey is Number 36 and leave it at that. I wanted to say why I think each product deserves to be included on this exclusive list, knowing ? and fully expecting - that some readers may vehemently disagree. I expect, as in past years, that objections will fly into the SJ office on ?why has Paul left out this whiskey? or ?why he included that trashy thing is beyond me.?

Again, I painstakingly point out that these are only the private musings of one individual and should not be taken as anything more than that. I don't believe in infallibility. I don't believe in ?Gospel truths? or ?bibles? in any field of endeavor. I believe in subjectivity, at least in my own professional situation, which strives, even in vain, for some semblance of objectivity and fairness. As long-term subscribers know, I have certain spirits that I seriously relish (read: Scotch whisky, gin, armagnac, cognac, tequila, bourbon and rye) and some that I enjoy to lesser degrees (vodka, liqueurs). In over two decades of spirits evaluation, I have never claimed to be perfect; I'm just extraordinarily thirsty.

So, here, for better or for worse, are my picks by category of the best distillates of 2010. All 130, as stated earlier, have received five star ratings (our highest recommendation) in the Spirit Journal.

The Spirit Journal?s 43 Best Five-Star Whiskeys/Whiskies for 2010


Editor's Comments: Continues to be my favored spirits category, year in, year out, though American Whiskeys are closing fast. The across-the-board quality of Scotch whisky remains stellar and consistent. Their experimentation with various wood types for maturation has opened up exciting new vistas that have greatly furthered the cause of Scotch. What's so terrific about the Scots is that they are never satisfied and refuse to rest on their laurels. Hats off to them for that attitude. Moreover, I genuinely love the mornings that I review Scotch. What more needs to be said?


1) Highland Park 18 Orkneys Single Malt Whisky (Scotland); 43% abv, $100.

Still my favorite Scotch whisky of the era. As many times as I taste this legend over the course of the year, HP 18 never fails to show me something new and different, a nuance that I hadn't detected previously. This classic continues to be a stupendous work of distilling art that, I believe, is one of the greatest beverage alcohol liquids ever produced and is assuredly the finest of the last 20 years. Graceful on the one hand; mighty and fathomless on the other. Delectably salty/peaty/maritime on the one hand; intensely malty on the other. If I could only select but one Scotch whisky, HP 18 would remain that very special singular choice. A masterpiece to savor many times before one dies.


2) Springbank 18 Year Old Campbeltown Single Malt Whisky (Scotland); 46% abv, $189.

Speaking of distilling genius, what can anyone say about Springbank that hasn't been said in these pages and countless other publications? This particular bottling is extra nice because I think that this is the ideal age for this Campbeltown icon. While the wood aspect rounds off the edge of the alcohol, the mildly maritime bouquet and entry taste feature a wild array of multilevel middle stage aromas and flavors that seem endless. The finish is a model of what Scotch whisky aftertaste should offer in terms of a summation. Wow.


3) Glenmorangie The Nectar D'Or Extra Matured Range Sauternes Cask Non-Chill Filtered Northern Highlands Single Malt Whisky (Scotland); 46% abv, $75.

This thoroughbred was on last year's roster and I've returned it to the Top Three because frankly if I couldn't have HP 18 and Springbank 18, I'd be perfectly content to sip the night away with this lushly textured, dried fruit, winey blockbuster. Dr Bill Lumsden, the Glenmorangie genie, has seduced his global audience many times but never has he done so with such stunning elegance and elemental elan. Nectar D'Or rocks, baby. This is Northern Highlands whisky splendor at its silky finest.


4) Johnnie Walker Gold 18 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky (Scotland); 40% abv, $80.

I know that some narrow-minded SJ subscriber malt whisky snobs are at their laptops firing off emails of protest over me choosing a blended Scotch as my Number Four pick for Scotch. But, what can I say other than I love this supple, fully integrated blend because it displays its Highlands malt core from start to finish and, most importantly, its age is at the sweet spot for Scotch whisky (is it any wonder that five of the top seven Scotches are 17-18 years old?). JW Gold is that rare constructed whisky in which its innate power is in ideal harmony with its elegance. The equal measures of strength and grace never cease to astound and impress me at a primal level of enjoyment.


5) The Glenlivet N?durra Triumph 1991 Barley Varietal Speyside Single Malt Whisky (Scotland); 48% abv, $85.

Over the years, I've been bullish on more than a few of The Glenlivets, from the quintessential 12 to the majestic 18 to the rare vintages to the potent N?durra. Now comes this vintage expression of N?durra that had me doing handstands in my office when I evaluated it. This burly malt shows what kind of raw power The Glenlivet can produce when given the right set of circumstances. Far removed from its trademark grace and Highland floral virtues, N?durra 1991 is all about deep potency and brawny cereal grain flavor. I'll settle this right now. Is this my all-time favorite expression from Scotland's most illustrious distillery? Yes.


6) Bowmore 18 Year Old Islay Single Malt Whisky (Scotland); 43% abv, $85.

Ever since I was introduced to Bowmore on my first trip to Islay in 1989, I have been an ardent admirer of its middle-road path. Never too peaty/smoky but just enough to give you a gentle slap in the face, Bowmore has artfully straddled the Islay fence while never losing its identity or virtue. Its always been the voice of moderation on an island that proudly espouses whisky personality extremes, from the bare knuckle, back alley approach of Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Lagavulin to the more polished, less smoky likes of Bunnahabhain and most Bruichladdichs. Bowmore, like Caol Ila and Port Ellen, has strived to be a baritone in an opera dominated by bass voices and tenors. This particular expression is Bowmore at its satiny finest.


7) The Macallan 17 Year Old Fine Oak Speyside Single Malt Whisky (Scotland); 43% abv, $120.

The Macallan Fine Oak series has been one of the most pleasing new developments over the last 10 years of tasting Scotch whisky. Unveiled in the face of some criticism by Mac traditionalists, this magnificent series has breathed new life into an iconic brand. For me, the 17 Fine Oak is the pinnacle achievement of the series and is a sensationally satisfying malt whisky that reflects the best of Speyside and the best of The Macallan Distillery. That said, it's no surprise that my Number 10 is The Macallan 18 Sherry Oak. I treasure both styles of The Mac.


8) Springbank 11 Year Old Madeira Wood Campbeltown Single Malt Whisky (Scotland); 55.1% abv, $99.

Two Springbanks in my Top Eight? Yes, they deserve to be in the top eight because of the incredible range of aromas and flavors that their use of different woods has brought to the consumer. This is a remarkably different malt whisky to the Springbank 18, yet it still owns the trademark Springbank malt intensity, mild peatiness, and off-dry character that can only be the thumbprint of this Campbeltown institution. I'll make another statement that might raise some eyebrows: Springbank remains one of Scotland's three greatest distilleries right now, along with The Macallan and Highland Park.


9) Arran Malt Pomerol Bordeaux Wine Casks Isle of Arran Single Malt Whisky (Scotland); 50% abv, $80.

As far as which malt distillery has come the longest way over the last decade, I choose Isle of Arran. This succulent expression is one that I've introduced consumer audiences to over the last year to hoots and hollers of delight. It's without question one of the best spirits I've tasted in the last two years and definitely worthy of being in the Top Ten Scotches. I also very much like the elevated abv, which lends a tremendous textural impact that lasts seemingly for a week. I hope that the people at Arran keep reaching for the stars.


10) The Macallan 18 Year Old Sherry Oak Speyside Single Malt Whisky (Scotland); 43% abv, $150.

Upon retasting this serious malt again recently, I was reminded why it is an international standard for malt whisky. It's that ideal age (18); the sherry oak makes it winey/pruny/raisiny and plump and dried fruit sweet; and, jeez, I just love the daylights out of it because it's so wonderfully decadent. This will always be in my personal pantheon of malt whisky gods. Scoop it out with a spoon. Luscious and the perfect complement to the more nimble Fine Oak series.


11) Springbank 12 Year Old Cream Sherry Cask/ Cask Strength Campbeltown Single Malt Whisky (Scotland); 56.1% abv, $113.

I admittedly went wild over the depth of the cask strength abv, which becomes a treasure trove of flavor possibilities and aromatic nuances. But it's in the midpalate that the best work is done as the cream sherry aspect comes alive and the texture turns rich and silky. I recall with fondness the few great limited-edition Glenmorangie Sherry Cask releases from several years ago and how thrilling they were as the Sherry wood accentuated the malt whisky. This bottling is an ideal marriage of barley grain whisky and gently sweet oak. Superb.


12) Glenmorangie Sonnalta PX Private Collection Northern Highlands Single Malt Whisky (Scotland); 46% abv, $80.

Speaking of breathtaking Sherry wood influenced malt whiskies, here is another stunning achievement from the mind and nose of Dr. Bill Lumsden. In this case, the Sherry influence is raisiny/pruny Pedro Ximenez (PX) and it makes for exciting drinking of the first rank. Even though the PX impact is subtle, there lies beneath the surface a racy dried fruit element that mingles well with the dry breakfast cereal depth of the malted barley spirit. One of my all-time favorite Glenmorangies.


13) Glenrothes 1991 Speyside Single Malt Whisky (Scotland); 43% abv, $75.

With their vintage releases, Glenrothes stands with the finest malt whiskies from Speyside/Morayshire. It's the consistency of this distillery that makes it one of my favorites from a region chockfull of excellent distilleries. Glenrothes is a core malt for popular blends like Cutty Sark. This edition is intensely grainy and supple and, in my mind, one of the finest of its vintage series


14) Highland Park 25 Year Old Orkney Islands Single Malt Whisky (Scotland); 48.1% abv, $230.

While the peerless HP 18 will always be my favored Highland Park, this biscuity, fathomless bottling at a higher proof is a close second. Perhaps it is the elevated abv that makes it special for me because abv gives a whisky structure and this lovely release is all about foundational substance and length in the mouth. Tasted numerous times over the last few years, I marvel at the extended, elegant aftertaste every time I have it.


15) Chivas Regal Gold Signature 18 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky (Scotland); 40% abv, $55.

To my way of thinking, Chivas Brothers Master Blender Colin Scott is as good as it gets in the whisky blending game. I keep Chivas 18 around in my office as a late afternoon bracer and I must say that of all the whiskies I have close at hand, it's the one that I turn to when it's been a rough day. There's just something terribly comfortable and reassuring about it that soothes and enlightens and calms. What greater compliment can I offer?


16) Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist 1990 Non-Chill Filtered Islay Single Malt Whisky (Scotland); 46% abv, $110.

Without question, my favorite Ardbeg of all-time. Bourbon barrels. Distillate from 1990. I especially love the cigar tobacco and seaweed aspects that don't bother to hide in the early stages and just came flat-out running at you. Then it goes sappy and gently sweet at midpalate and in the finish it displays an elegance and a bearing that, to me, brings Ardbeg to new heights of grandeur. An Islay classic that will endure for a long time.


17) Longrow 7 Year Old Gaja Barolo Campbeltown Single Malt Whisky (Scotland); 55.8% abv, $125.

What I find so enthralling about this maritime-influenced whisky is its youthful vigor and freshness. Its barrel strength abv doesn't hurt at all either since the abv brings with it an amazing structure that frames the piquant aroma and taste. This is a challenging malt because of its power but don't allow that to put you off of it. This is a malt that you grow into and one that, once tamed, becomes a glorious habit.


18) Bruichladdich Rocks Islay Single Malt Whisky (Scotland); 46% abv, $47.

It?s this Islay whisky?s bouquet as much as anything that still sets me on fire. It?s all bready and cake-like and gently sweet at first, then with aeration the aroma detonates a series of bombs, namely, red grapes, vanilla, pork rind and blackberry preserves, that seduce the senses and make for excellent quaffing. The aftertaste is tight as a drum, lean, directed and concentrated. As good as any Bruichladdich I've ever tasted.


19) Blackbull 12 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky (Scotland); 50% abv, $50.

Deep amber color; minor, inconsequential sediment seen. Initial inhalations encounter beefy/grilled meat-like aromas that remind me of barbeque, but also more subtle scents of dark caramel and brown sugar; this fast-evolving bouquet introduces notes of toasted marshmallow, old leather and honey after aeration. Entry is rich, creamy, piquant, spicy, bittersweet, cocoa-like and powerful; midpalate is a sensational m?lange of honey, oloroso Sherry, buttercream, egg cream, vanilla extract, sweetened coconut and sweet cereal grains. Finish is like a nougat-filled, dark chocolate-covered candy bar. One of the best blended Scotches ever.


20) The Balvenie Sherry Oak 17 Year Old Speyside Single Malt Whisky (Scotland); 43% abv, $95.

I know that long-time SJ subscribers are aware of my fascination with Sherry wood and single malt whisky, but here again is another Speyside expression whose quality is so high that it simply demands to be purchased. The hint of grapy/plummy sweetness elevates the entire experience. The Balvenie malt lends itself well to a kiss of Sherry oak. Beautifully rendered.


21) Port Ellen 29 Year Old/8th Release Natural Cask Strength Islay Single Malt Whisky (Scotland); 55.3% abv, $400.

Of the many sensational whiskies in Diageo's Rare Edition/Natural Cask Strength series, this Port Ellen from Islay stands out as a masterpiece. Understated and utterly charming, this whisky shows that while many single malts falter after 25 years in barrel, others flourish and gain in stature. This beauty is the latter. As you may be tired of hearing by now, the barrel-strength abv gives this whisky the solid core on which it's able to display its many virtues. Without doubt, the finest Port Ellen I've ever tasted.


22) Bowmore 1992 16 Year Old Wine Cask Matured/Cask Strength Islay SMSW (Scotland); 53.6% abv, $120.

A superior bottling like this thoroughbred, distilled in 1992, is why I've long held that Bowmore is one of Scotland's foremost malt distilleries and certainly in the top ten. It's that rare whisky that offers maritime power and pungency with Highland elegance. And I love the age. This whisky is at its peak right now and the Bowmore crew deserves lots of credit for bottling it at this optimum stage.


23) Auchentoshan 18 Year Old Oloroso Sherry Matured Lowlands SMSW (Scotland); 55.8% abv, $1,000.

Couldn't have a Top Spirits roster without including at least one Lowlands malt whisky and this Auchentoshan is a superstar whisky whose genuine limited edition status makes it one of the most difficult to locate whiskies on this list. Another example of harmony between abv, wood, age (that magic 18), acidity and barley malt. It's in my Lowlands pantheon. The baking spices aroma is off the charts and the tightly wrapped flavor features wonderful aspects, such as vanilla, Sherry, nougat, caramel and baked bread. It's the whole package. Magical.


24) The Glenlivet 1973 The Cellar Collection Speyside Single Malt Whisky ? Limited Edition (Scotland); 49% abv, $1,250.

The brooding deep topaz color looks terribly serious; impeccable clarity. Evocative scents of old leather chairs/men's club/dusty library are the upfront aromas in the initial whiffs after the pour; an extra seven minutes of aeration bring out the prickly abv and also a nuance of malted barley, but little more. Entry is raisiny sweet, pruny, intensely wooded and, in fact, so ?ber-oaky that I sense very old Sherry in an explosion of prunes, dates and raisins; midpalate is honeyed, creamy and full of bacon fat, grilled meats, rancio and orange flavored chocolate. Brilliant.


25) The Dalmore 1263 King Alexander III Northern Highlands Single Malt Whisky (Scotland); 40% abv, $200.

The dimensions on this whisky really impressed me to the point where I must have it on this summary roster. Always a second tier distillery, The Dalmore has been solid and reliable for as long as I've been writing about malt whisky (1989). I found this expression to be as delicious as any I'd had since the marvelously affordable Dalmore Cigar Malt and actually I believe this to be the better whisky of the two.




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