Posts Tagged With: 12 Years Old

Tasting Notes: Tullamore DEW Special Reserve 12 Years Old


Tullamore DEW 12 Years Old

Tasted as part of the recent Dram Team subscription package, this whiskey is actually only readily available as a travel retail bottling from Tullamore DEW – or “Tully” as their fans more often refer to it. What this “Special Reserve” contains is a blended batch of pot still, malt and grain whiskies that have been matured in a combination of ex-sherry and ex-bourbon barrels over the course of 12+ years.

40% ABV



M: Bit more going on here than their standard offering. This has a woodier, maltier nose. The distillery’s characteristic sweetness is there, but dark sugars are here now in place of the lighter, vanilla sweetness. Sweet biscuity-like flavours are there too, like hobnobs and digestives. The alcohol gives the nose a fair tingle too.




M: That digestive biscuit flavour really comes out when it hits the tongue. There’s a sort of wholemeal-meets-cereal flavour that dominates. After a little bit of time there seems to be a bit of honey poured onto that porridge mix of flavours bringing out a sweetness and a little oaky tang at the back which leaves a few, gentle, spiced elements on the way down.




M: The booze intensifies a little down the throat meaning that those malty, biscuity flavours fade away pretty quickly. Fairly lingering finish.




M: This was a really enjoyable dram. It has still got that Irish sweet, silky texture about it but the wood and grains seem to have a lot more of a say than the standard bottling’s toffee blast. Thankfully there is not so much of the dreaded “creamy mouthfeel” here from this Irish whiskey either, though it is still satisfyingly smooth. The influences of the oak from the 12+ years of maturation really help round this whiskey out into an easy sipping drink with a little something more about it. Very easy drinking.

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Happy Birthday Glen Moray!

Today sees Glen Moray distillery celebrate its 120th birthday, because on 13th September 1897 the little distillery based in Elgin made its first batch of new-make spirit. In order to join in on the celebrations, I’ve taken my two Dram Team miniatures and have done a side-by-side comparison of their cracking Elgin Heritage releases.

Glen Moray 12yo Elgin Heritage

12 Year Old Elgin Heritage

40% ABV


Light. Really light. It’s only got a gentle boozy tingle on the nose but seems quite perfumed – kinda like nail polish fumes, but in a good way?! If I had to pick one smell, then it would be barley. Pure and simple.


Light vanilla upfront. More of the same barley flavours from the nose. Light oak/barrel influence toward the end.


Over and done with pretty quickly, leaving a warming, vanilla taste. Simple and effective! 


Very simple. Very easy drinking. Maybe too simple and too easy drinking if you’re after a whisky for savouring. The quality is not in question though and with this palate you could drink a lot of this. Pure and simple.

Glen Moray 15yo Elgin Heritage

15 Year Old Elgin Heritage

40% ABV


And there’s the body!! The barrel’s influence is so much more present. A slight bit of salinity to the smell and a lot more barley too. Like all the light notes of the 12yo have bulked up and come out to play. Caramel sweetness throughout.

Rich caramel flavours continue – sweetness up front but things soon take a turn and the flavours become more and more savoury and ultimately leave a black peppery spice.


Woody. Really woody. Like, chewing on some wood kinda woody. The peppery flavours have removed all that initial sweetness and it coats your thought with a spiciness that could cure the common cold.


Well, what a difference the 3 years seem to make. I’m not sure if there are different types of barrel used but this has such a contrast to the 12yo. This I couldn’t drink too much of! Lots of flavours for savouring, with some strong elements at play. My personal preference would have been for the sweetness to stick around a bit longer, but that is hardly a criticism. Maybe my perfect Glen Moray Elgin Heritage would split the difference and be a 13.5 yo? Either way, these are two different drams that are both rather good at what they do.

Elgin Heritage Head-to-Head

Edit: Thanks to @faycoull “Mr Master Distiller’s wife” of Glen Moray for confirming that the 15yo is combination of ex-Bourbon and Sherry Cask whiskies which are married just before bottling! 👍🏻

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Highland Park 12: New Outside, Same Inside?

Riddle me this: I have a Viking soul and Victorian history. I am old, new and 12 years old all at once. What am I?


You could forgive Highland Park for resting on its laurels. They are one of the most successful whisky brands around–their bottles have always stood out on bar and store shelves alike. With a long history dating to 1798 (the Victorian history) and tapping into the heritage of Orkney Island (the Viking soul) has been the equivalent of marketing gold. Who doesn’t like a Celtic swirl, a nod to the Vikings? The distillery’s stylised “h” is iconic. Not to mention their whiskies are pretty good, especially the 12 year old, which combines fine flavours with a wee peaty punch, all at a very decent price.


Highland Park 12 – Out With The Old

But if you’re standing still, you’re going backwards–isn’t that what they say? Highland Park must be listening because they have undergone a bit of a transformation of late. It started with a new Travel Retail Exclusive range, of which you can see our thoughts on here.


The distillery’s widely successful 12 year old has not escaped a reboot. From box to bottle it is reborn. Gone is the curved, flask shape packaging, along with matching bottle shape. A more traditional, squared box replaces it. But the real change is in the styling. Where there was empty black space, the box is adorned with a raised silver Celtic design–a deer amidst all the swirls and knots you could ever want. Like a “magic eye” picture, look long enough and the famous “h” appears. Splashed all over is text pertaining to “viking honour” and “reflections of ancestors”. The usual distillery marketing blurb on the back is accompanied by more design and the now ubiquitous social media icons.


The bottle itself is now tapered, with a wider bottom than top. If Celtic imagery is your thing, then this bottle is a sensual awakening: raised on its front is more knots and the famous ‘h’ once again. Very pleasing to the touch.



Highland Park 12 – New Bottle

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for a bit of “Viking soul” (who isn’t?). However, we have clearly ventured into some kind of Game-of-Thrones-meets-Viking-marketing-whisky mash-up. This rebranding is meant to grab your attention and pick it up, especially for the gift buyer. Well, it got my attention. Not so much for the Viking font and squiggles but because I had to know: is it the same on the inside? Let’s find out:


The nose is candied fruit and vanilla pods. A hint of peat is discernible of things to come…


Fruit cake bounces on the tongue with all its marzipan and raisins, wrapped up in honey. So far so good…


And then there it is, the Highland Park 12 coup de grâce: a deep (for a 12 year old) and smoky finish, with embers rising to keep you warm any day of the year.



Highland Park 12 – New Packaging

Highland Park 12 was one of the whiskies that hooked me into this world. It’s accessible, with simple, discernible flavours that belie a deeper finish. It’s in my pantheon of whisky; one of my desert island drams. I love it for its versatility, its adaptability to any whisky drinking session. Who knows, maybe deep down I’m a sucker for Viking soul.


So, I’m happy to report that Highland Park 12, with its Viking soul, Victorian history and updated marketing may be new on the outside, but it’s business as usual on the inside.



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