Independent bottlings from Ardbeg are a rarity, especially those unmistakeably bearing the distillery’s name. According to Whiskybase, a mere nine independent bottlings of Ardbeg graced the market in 2023. The bulk of Ardbeg’s output tends to stay in-house, contributing to their core range, a handful of notably expensive single casks, and sought-after limited editions like the Ardbeg Day releases (which we’ll be delving into shortly). As a fan of Ardbeg and with fond memories of my first visit to their Islay distillery, I’m delighted to compare two independent bottlings side by side in this review. So, without further delay, let’s explore the Ardbeg Ar5 from Speciality Drinks, released in 2014, and the Ardbeg 2007 33.140 bottled by the SMWS at the end of 2023.Read more
Surprisingly, my exploration into Arran whiskies has been somewhat limited on my whisky journey. A mere 18 expressions have been recorded in my whisky tracking Google sheet, which includes the Lochranza variant that I will delve into shortly. Despite this modest number, I hold the Arran distillery in high esteem, particularly for their unpeated releases. It’s a distillery I frequently recommend to those seeking both flavour-packed and reasonably priced whiskies.
The acquisition of the Arran 18-year-old bottle, which forms the focal point of my review below, was a deliberate choice. I found myself orchestrating an online tasting featuring whiskies from the Scottish Islands a few months ago, and naturally, the Isle of Arran deserved representation. Whilst Lagg, the second distillery established by Arran Distillers, had already unveiled its inaugural whisky, I yearned for something more aged, leading me to the Arran 18-year-old expression.
In this review, I aim to explore the nuances of this Arran 18yo and compare it with the Lochranza Castle edition.Read more
As January 2024 draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on the passing weeks, realising it’s been a while since my last post. The onset of winter proved challenging, as a persistent illness lingered, not severe but enough to dampen my spirits and impede the joy of savouring and reviewing whiskies. Nevertheless, this unexpected hiatus provided an opportunity to thin out my whisky collection, creating some much-needed space on my shelves.
Towards the end of the previous year, a stroke of fortune came my way when a friend, employed at a local off-licence, secured for me a bottle of the elusive Springbank 10-year-old Palo Cortado at its recommended retail price. The only stipulation was a choice between unsealing the bottle or having my name adorn the label, a precaution to discourage resale. Opting for the latter, indifferent to the inclusion of my name or nickname, seemed a small price to pay for this coveted bottle, especially considering it needed to be shipped to me, so a perfect seal was mandatory. Interestingly, this decision has now become a recurring theme, with my name gracing labels of other Springbank bottles, ones I acquired during a visit to the distillery – ranging from handfills to a distinctive cage bottle, and even my personally crafted Springbank composition.
Having now recovered from my ailment, I’ve finally had the pleasure of sampling a few drams from the Springbank 10-year-old Palo Cortado. So, without further ado, let’s delve into a detailed review. But before we embark on this tasting journey, anticipate some changes on these pages.Read more