Secret Highland Malt 1983 Sansibar (2020)

It’s that time of the year: we’re in December, and it’s time for a whisky advent calendar again, yay! But this time, it won’t be only whisky, as several other kinds of surprises are waiting for me. What surprises? No idea! This year again, the calendar has been made by a friend who doesn’t kid around with spirits. Remember last year? That was him. So when he offered to do that again, with a malternative twist, I jumped on it. And so, after opening the – virtual – first window and solving the riddle with friends from a common Discord group, I discovered that the first dram was a Secret Highland Malt 1983 from German indy bottler Sansibar.

Secret Highland Malt 1983 Sansibar (2020) Review

What we have today is a Secret Highland Malt, rumoured to be from the waxy kitty distillery (the one that didn’t close in 1983). It spent 36 long years in a hogshead, before being bottled in 2020 for the German shop The cask gave 239 bottles filled at 51.2%, without colouring nor chill filtration. The initial retail price was around €320, but expect now to pay more than €500 for a bottle on the secondary market.

Secret Highland Malt 1983 Sansibar




Neat: The nose starts on fresh orange juice before a stroll at the beekeeper, who harvested beeswax and honey. The orange then changes to lemon, with gummy bears bringing slight prickly notes. Chalk and crushed oyster shells provide a delicate minerality. More fruits in the back, with pineapple and apricot, as well a some oxidised coins. Fresh and lovely.

With water: water rounds things up but also allows notes of lemon pie, mirabelle plums and green apple to appear.


Neat: Oily arrival, quite thick. For a second I had the feeling it was lightly peated but that quickly disappeared. Passion fruit and grapefruit dance with melon and mango. A bit of wood spices with a dusting of ground pepper. The wood notes then move to an oaky bitterness and crushed mint leaves and nasturtium petals.

With water: Wax appears as for the mouthfeel, and the spices are slightly more present.


The light oaky bitterness and well as mint and nasturtium linger on, with whispers of fruits in the background. The finish is light in intensity but long. It’s only now that I get some candle wax and paraffin. With water: now chalk appears, giving a slightly dry feeling on the tongue. And then a full minute afterwards comes some milk chocolate.


What a beautiful whisky to start home straight to Christmas. Huge complexity, and such evolution over time (and a few drops of water). I lack experience with old Clynelishes to be sure it is one, but some signs are there with the typical waxiness, though quite delicate here. On the nose like on the palate, a multitude of smells and flavours dance around your nose and your tongue and spin and carry you away. Great start.

Rating: 91/100

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