Tag Archives: Tasting Notes

Irish Reserve 26 Year Old – 40.0% [Aldi Festive Releases]


NOSE: 21

A fairly soft nose not overpowered by one particular note.
Plenty of cereal, as to be expected, along with some honeyed sweetness and maybe a hint of pears in the background.


Very thin mouth-feel, with a very clean taste on the palate.
Cereal present again, overpowering most fruity notes but allowing a hint of orange cream to creep in along with the faint tang of pineapple.

A slight light-oak note provides the backdrop.


The lack of fullness to the palate carries through to the finish, which lingers just long enough to almost satisfy before disappearing into nothingness.
More woody than anything with the fruity notes from earlier dying right back.
A small hint of golden syrup perhaps?


Extremely thin on the palate which lets this dram down.
While being extremely drinkable I can’t help feeling like there is a lot that has been lost due to the ABV and no doubt chill-filtering.
Not necessarily worth the money in my opinion, as Bushmills 10 Year Old is available for around £30.00 and appears to have a much greater depth of character than this bottle I am sad to say that this just doesn’t make the cut.

The general consensus on the interweb is that, due to the age of the whiskey, this is actually Bushmills. This hypothesis is explained in depth by Billy from the Whisky Exchange (here), in a review that is itself well worth a read, even if I didn’t manage to pick up the Coke syrup in the finish.


Available from:



Glen Marnoch 29 Year Old – 40.0% [Aldi Festive Releases]


NOSE: 26

Baked red apples dominate with hints of icing sugar and all-butter pastry.


Those apples calm down a little allowing light oaky notes to rise up, almost soft enough to be European oak.
Vanilla is definitely present and possibly the faintest hint of maple syrup.


Very thin finish.
Quickly dissipates to leave next to nothing on the taste buds.

Vanilla is still there and is the most forthright of the notes.
A small hint of honey is there if you can catch it.


A very easy to drink, Autumnal dram.
A little thin, but what do you expect at 40% ABV?
The nose carries this dram in my opinion as the palate isn’t quite strong enough to wow you; the flavours are good but there just isn’t enough of each of them.
No indication of region on the label but I would hazard a guess at Speyside and I’d say it has a lot of characteristics in common with Longmorn‘s output – definitely not a bad thing.


Available from:



Hellyers Road Slightly Peated – 46.2%


NOSE: 20

Slight wisps of smoke with peat notes developing.
Orangey citrus notes make a very gentle appearance.


Soft, and very delicate peat kick off the palate underpinned by a smooth sweetness not usually found in peated malts.
Hints of vanilla are obvious along with possibly ginger notes.
Complex and quite difficult to decipher.


A long lingering finish with the peat softly surging forward to take on more of an active role.
Soft and sweet, with creamy cereal notes showing and vanilla rising up in a crescendo.


A unique peated expression which at times you would have to re-read the label to know was peated.
Very pleasant and enjoyable.
The combination of the soft creamy vanilla and the extremely gentle peat make for an interesting combination.
I would have enjoyed the orange/citrus notes making an appearance on the palate or finish but the dram as it stands is enough to enjoy.
Not a huge mouth feel, quite light, like it’s peat.


Available from:

La Maison Du Whisky


Hellyers Road Pinot Noir Finish – 46.2%


NOSE: 17

Very faint redcurrant aromas present initially with a hint of vanilla.
A remarkably soft and restrained nose with no spirit to speak of.
Not enough to really get a true idea of what the dram is about.


Immediately, and quite surprisingly, pepper notes make themselves known, yet, at the same time, big, bold and fruity flavours come forth.
The pepper notes drop off as quickly as they appeared, allowing the whole dram to open up completely.
Blackberries rise up to feature prominently and seem to offer a velvety quality to the mouth feel.
Very gentle, not fiery in the slightest.


A very gentle, finish with, again, no fire whatsoever.
A soft fruitiness carries right through.


A gentle and rounded dram with some big fruity flavours.
Lovely waves of dark summer berries are the predominant flavour and run from start to finish
A decent amount of complexity to keep things interesting.
Not too much bulk in the mouth feel, quite thin.
Way too easy to drink.


Available from:

The Whisky Exchange
La Maison Du Whisky


Hellyers Road Original Roaring Forty – 40.0%

HRD - Roaring Forty

In the first of our dram previews ahead of Whisky Bristol Underground we have the first of 3 bottles that we will be presenting which originate from the island of Tasmania’s Hellyers Road Distillery.

NOSE: 21

Bold, fruity and sweet, to the point of tasting sherried.
Notes of white grapes, lemons and definitely ripe pears rising up.
The level of spirit tones hint that this could be a fiery one. 


Oak and vanilla are immediately obvious.
Much softer than the expectation the nose produces.
The citrus and white grape notes from earlier are still there but the huge levels of sweetness back off to allow the dram to open up.


Quite a short finish, that stings the cheeks a little.
Vanilla is by far and away the dominant flavour that comes through, lasting until the close.


A very good, light, everyday dram – but with plenty of character.
Sweet on the palate with a heavy presence of the
American Oak.
Quite a thick mouth feel for only being 40% ABV with enough substance to it to make it interesting while remaining extremely quaffable.
The sort of dram I’d drink at a summer garden party while everyone else drank white wine.


Available from:

Master of Malt
The Whisky Exchange
La Maison Du Whisky


Springbank 12 Year Old Cask Strength (2017) – 56.5%

Springbank 12CS

NOSE: 26

Luscious and opulent.
Unadulterated molten fudge and toffee with notes of fortified wine.


Huge sherry hit straight away with quite a viscous, chewable mouth-feel.
The toffee from the nose is still there but in a much smaller, more refined quantity that allows the stewed fruit flavours to burst through.
Raisin and christmas cake flavours take centre stage while being underpinned by some very light woody notes.


Not quite as long as I would like but all of the flavours from the palate carry through; predominantly the fruity notes.
Some heat is present but not enough to hint at the above 55% ABV.


An absolutely stunning bottle of whisky.
Not having ever really understood the hype Springbank recieve I have to admit that this bottle has completely blown me away.
Rich sherried fruits are the focal point and thankfully there is enough ABV to really allow them room to shine in full force.
I can think of little to improve such a dram except perhaps a slightly longer, richer finish with a little more complexity to it, but otherwise, all I could ask for is more of the same.



Bottom of the Barrel #5: Ardmore Legacy

Ardmore Legacy is very lightly peated, at 12-14ppm, but even that was too much for my Dad’s dedicated middle-of-the road palate.

My Dad is not a big whisky drinker.
He tends to stick to Chivas Regal 12, Glenlivet 12 and Aberlour 12; which is fair enough.
I’ve “forced” him to try almost all of the bottles I’ve opened in recent years, in an attempt to broaden his horizons.
He likes sherried whiskies, but not too sherried.
He likes sweet Virgin Oak whiskies, but not too sweet.
He does not like cask strength offerings and he definitely does not like peat.
Which is why I was more than happy to accept the offer to “Drink this, will you?” when he had been given a bottle of Ardmore Legacy as a gift.

Continue reading Bottom of the Barrel #5: Ardmore Legacy

Smokehead – 43%


NOSE: 18

Herbal peat, strong iodine and campfires.


Slight sweetness with heaps more peat and iodine with oil and brine.


A long rounded finish with gentle warmth and the peat vapours carrying on forever.


A lively but slightly unrefined peat monster – but then who wants delicate when it comes to peat?

Baby Ardbeg in a bottle and an absolute steal at the price (RRP £38.99 but can readily be found for just North of £30.00).

I’ve also heard rumours, several times in fact, that this is actually a 7 year old Ardbeg, but they’d never admit it. If that was the case then the value for money just gets even better.




Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt – 43%

Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt

NOSE: 24

Smoky wood and caramel with some spirit overtones.

Quite closed initially, not giving a lot away except for some sweetness and a little oak but as it sits in the glass for 5-10 mins the smoke really comes through and the oak notes soften.

Before being given chance to breathe I noted a possible slight hint of tropical fruit, pineapple perhaps?


Sweetness dies back and allows some of the lighter fruitier notes to shine through.

Oak is still there with vanilla beginning to rise up but the smoke still whirls and some tobacco-ey notes pop up.

When the smoke grabs you it’s very reminiscent of Pure Malt Black.

A little spice showing through, cinnamon predominantly and maybe a little coffee.


Medium length drying finish.

Caramel sweetness raises its head again, albeit briefly, and the tobacco notes ride with you through to the end.

Little to no heat/fire.


Despite being rather underwhelmed with this dram to start with I gave it some time to breathe and it became a much richer, deeper experience. That said, from the online reviews and my love for the rest of Nikka’s range, I was expecting a lot more.

It’s definitely enjoyable but nowhere near the best that Nikka put out; a little simple on the nose and, to me at least, not rich a rich enough flavour profile on the palate.

Texture is pleasant, as are the individual elements, I was just hoping for more.

For a richer but similar collection of flavours I think I’ll stick with the FTB or Pure Malt Black.