Posts Tagged With: Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Tasting Notes: Glengoyne – 18 Years Old


Glengoyne – 18 Years Old

Glengoyne whiskies pride themselves on their unique whisky making process, boasting to be the slowest distillation process in Scotland. It seems fitting then that my first dalliance with a Glengoyne whisky is with something that has also been maturing and milling around for a long time too: at least 18 years anyway. The distillery markets this whisky as offering a “perfect balance” and noting that it contains a “generous proportion of first-fill sherry casks”, the remainder presumably being aged in American standard ex-bourbon barrels. The distillation, maturation and bottling is all performed on-site within the distillery grounds in Dumgoyne, making this a Highland single malt scotch whisky, and one that is presented at 43% ABV.



Woah. There are a lot of flavours fighting for attention here. There’s a marzipan type tang and sweetness up front with an apple and raisin fruitiness and an almond-like nuttiness. With a little bit of time there’s a thicker molasses-type sweetness underneath too with a nutmeg spice amongst that icing sugar-style sugary-ness on top. Is this a whisky tasting note or a cake recipe?



All those initial flavours on the nose just seem to intensify when this finally gets into your mouth and do their metaphorical dance on the tongue. The traditional wedding cake ingredients listed above are all supported by a strong sherry influence which soon dominates over the previous sensations and lingers for a while before actually leaving a strong orange marmalade flavour behind.



Well, the cake references have now all gone when it comes to the finish, but that sweet and fruity marmalade flavour lasts and even has a buttery finish to it (presumably having been spread on some toast in this food-heavy review). In fact, long after the whisky and alcohol vapours have gone, the lasting note and aftertaste is that of oranges. That’s some fine sherry work throughout, and I’m not sure how we got there, but it works.



For a single malt scotch whisky, this whisky review sure reads like a list of cake ingredients! But, I can confirm, that it is still very much a malt whisky at the heart of this endeavour, and one with a great sherry influence. That said, the whisky still remains a light and enjoyable dram, despite all these strong, darker, richer flavours being listed. I tasted this whisky via the Dram Team subscription, and these troops do source a great range of drams, and I think that I’m syncing up with their taste buds as I continue with the subscription, because only after enjoying and writing about the whisky have I since read their notes and they are virtually the same (even on the marmalade note). I’m always put on edge and sceptical about when a distillery describes their whiskies as the perfect anything, but Glengoyne are not wrong when they say that this whisky has a great balance to it.  On that basis, this dram has left me keen to explore what else Glengoyne have to offer, and I would heartily recommend this 18yo as a great choice for anyone to enjoy whether as a newcomer or connoisseur – and one that tends to stay at the less expensive end of the price spectrum for 18 year old scotch whiskies available (though expensive nonetheless).


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Tasting Notes: Strathisla – 12 Years Old


Strathisla – 12 Years Old

When it comes to scotch whiskies, heritage is an important driver in ensuring quality of a distillery’s product. Strathisla distillery in Kieth is no exception to this and boats to be the oldest operational distillery in the Highlands of Scotland. The distillery is also home to the Chivas Regal whisky blends which are probably far more renowned around the world, and are currently in the final stages of a large refurbishment project, which should see visitors and fans of the brand come together in numbers. This whisky is therefore more of a treat in one sense, as it is not part of the blending process and is granted its own single malt profile, being comprised of whiskies at least 12 years old, and having been, in recent years, repackaged in the Stockholm style bottle and sold at 40% ABV.



Oh this is so sweet! The kind of sweetness that you get from candied oranges, or ‘candied’ anything for that matter. It also has a zest and zing to the nose that reminds me of sherbet & love heart sweets. There’s a good bit of citrus too adding to that zing.



That sherbet sweetness and tingle carries on through the palate, but now the malt shows up to play and mingles effortlessly with the sweetness to create a digestive biscuit sort of flavour profile. The citrus fruit zest also develops to apricot and mango. Its definitely a sweet fruit experience.



It has a lip-smacking finish. The  alcohol disappears almost instantly but that sherbet tingle lasts forever and leaves behind the zest and sweetness of oranges and strawberries – definitely one for the summer!



This is such a light and summery drink. Dangerously so given that it is still a 40% ABV drink, but I’m sure it would lend itself to some very refreshing long or short cocktails if you could bring yourself to put a single malt whisky into a cocktail! On its own though, the booze and sweetness interplay to create a light treat and feels like a very different sort of malt whisky. I would go as far as to say it is the sweetest single malt scotch whisky that I’ve tried (to date), even compared to Cardhu 12 (which I guess is Diageo’s closest equivalent to this Chivas output) and have suggested it as an entry whisky to a handful of people who want to get into malts but from a very light starting point. In the UK, this is often in the larger supermarket stores and can be seen on offer from time to time, sometimes dropping to ca. £25 if you catch it at the right time. For the whisky enthusiast who is a little longer in the tooth, there is the firm old guard who swear that the older bottling at 43% ABV was a lot better and may not have been stirred as much with ye olde caramel stick to ensure consistency in its colouring, but for me, as the nights draw out and the mercury rises, this would be a great choice to have waiting in the wings.


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Tasting Notes: Aldi’s Glen Marnoch Range

The Glen Marnochs

The Glen Marnoch Range

First, let me get the disclaimer out of the way. This is Aldi’s own single malt range, Glen Marnoch. Yes, Aldi. As in the German discount supermarket. Let’s not go looking for lost lochs, misty Cairngorms or enchanted islands where there (may) be none. So, this review isn’t about finding your new desert island dram, or adding to your whisky pantheon, it’s about seeing what bang you can get get for your hard earned buck–and whether Aldi deserves any of it. The Glen Marnoch expressions retail at £17.49 a pop. Here at WU, we’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to and assembled all three Glen Marnoch entry-level malts: Speyside, Highland and Islay.


First up, a trip to Speyside.

Nose: Quite delicate for cheap–sorry inexpensive– whisky. Mainly barley. Hint o’ spice. A subtle butterscotch undertone sneaks up on you. Upon reflection, there’s marmalade too.

Taste: The Speyside soul doesn’t mess about here, with a dominant sherry coming on strong. And with it, raisins, vanilla and marzipan.

Finish: Very shallow as might be expected but not unpleasant. It warms nicely enough, leaving a spicy trail along with that marmalade that is fairly consistent throughout the whole experience.

For the sake of comparison, I’d give it a score of 6.5/10


Next, come with me to the Highland, laddie.

Nose: Quite captivating, actually. Earthy with a gentle smokiness. Wood and winter spices in there, nutmeg and the like.

Taste: Very woody. Perhaps a tad disappointing after that promising nose. There’s a sweetness–dare I say caramel–in here that is not unpleasant but does feel rather injected. A drop of water does reveal some fruitiness.

Finish: A little deeper than its Speyside cousin. Said sweetness mingles with a light smokiness–maybe a few sprigs of peat chucked in. That drop of water has helped it along to balance the wood, fruit and embers.

Score: 6.5/10


Finally, journey to Islay with me.

Nose: Jumps and punches you in the nose, this one does! Briny, peaty, a whiff of petrol and iodine. Yes ma’am, we have essence of Laphroaig!

Taste: A campfire in your mouth–think scouts’ rather than Bear Grylls, but it’ll do. That’s balanced by vanilla and sweetness in here too, like a proper Islay, don’t you know.

Finish: Was willing this to success and a plume of smoke does develop to warm your cockles, still satisfying, but it’s nothing more than that.

Score: 7/10


So there you have it, three very serviceable whiskies. The Islay is the pick of the bunch for me, cruising way above its sub £20 weight. Never mind if it’s watered down Laphroaig (just a guess), I’d drink this any day.

The Speyside and Highland scored the same but for different reasons. The Speyside is the more consistent of the two. The Highland promised so much after that nose but remains a bit flat after that.

Considering you can snag all three for the price of a Lagavulin 16, the Glen Marnoch range presents excellent value. Whether or not you trade all three for a Lagavulin 16 is another matter. Still, kudos to Aldi for offering some good quality whisky at fair prices. Regular whisky drinkers will appreciate them any day of the week. I’d like to think the novice out there might take a punt on these and they’re good enough to kickstart a voyage of whisky discovery of those lost lochs, misty Cairngorms and enchanted islands.


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