Caol Ila 2010 Signatory Vintage in front of the distillery.

Caol Ila 2010 Signatory Vintage

Caol Ila, located on the world’s home of peated whisky, the Scottish island of Islay, is this island’s number one distillery in terms of capacity. Though its peated malt is one of the components of Johnnie Walker, the distillery features a full core range of single malts. But that wasn’t always the case, as until 2002, Caol Ila’s single malt would appear only in the Flora & Fauna and the Rare Malts range. But from 2002, the regular 12-and-18-year-old as well as a Cask Strength version (about 10yo) appeared, joined the next year by the 25-years-old. Since then, Moch – without an age statement – and the Distiller’s Edition, with a moscatel finish, joined the core range. But Caol Ila’s single malt is not just available on the distillery’s official bottlings, it’s also highly available to independent bottlers. Gordon & Macphail, Elixir Distillers, or like today, Signatory Vintage, have bottled dozens and dozens of casks from the distillery located in Port Askaig. And that’s what we’re going to try today, with a Caol Ila 2010 Signatory Vintage.

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Isle of Jura 1998 Hidden Spirits

Isle of Jura 1998 Hidden Spirits

Isle of Jura is a distillery that I don’t understand. Their official bottlings, at least the ones I’ve tried, are a mess, especially the Seven Wood. But thanks to The Whisky Cellar, I’ve been able to try a good indy one recently, and I tried another one, more than okay, bottled by SMWS at the absolutely marvellous Dornoch Castle Whisky bar in 2019, a 1983 called Islands Hopping. But apart from those two indies, nope, no good one. However, I often hear good things from friends about other indy Juras. So let’s keep an open mind and see if the Italian independent bottler that never disappointed me until now got it right with this Isle of Jura 1998 Hidden Spirits.

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Auchentoshan 2000 Signatory Vintage in front of the distillery

Auchentoshan 2000 Signatory Vintage

After a short break for the daily articles about drams from the advent calendar, we’re back today with another distillery there was nothing written about on those pages: Auchentoshan. I must admit Auchentoshan it a distillery that was quite under my radar, even though I have a couple bottles from them at home. I haven’t tried many drams coming from them, the only ones that come to mind are the American Oak, an entry-level NAS, and the 21-years-old, a bottle my parents brought back from the distillery with a handfill I have yet to open. Now while, in my opinion, Auchentoshan flies a bit under the radar of many whisky drinkers, it has something setting them apart in Scotland (with just a very few other distilleries doing – partially – the same thing): they use triple distillation. While this is quite often seen at Irish distilleries, this stays an exception in Scotland and other countries, as I’ve told you in my Armut Triparva review a few days ago. So today, we’re having (well, I am) an Auchentoshan 2000 Signatory Vintage 20 rue d’Anjou.

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Glen Moray 27-year-old Charlton Whisky

Glen Moray 27-year-old Chorlton Whisky

Right. Many people know me to be a massive Glen Moray fan. But strangely, though, more than two years in this blog, I still haven’t reviewed any on those pages. My love for this distillery is to be honest quite recent. It wasn’t really on my radar before Spirit of Speyside 2019, when with my friends we booked three events over a week there, the first one being a tour of the distillery with their brand ambassador, Iain Allan, and a handful bottle at the end of the tour, after a tasting. The second event was for may the 4th, a Star Wars-themed event, but Iain again in his element (a Stormtrooper costume), where we had a face-off between official and SMWS Glen Morays. The third event was a bit different, as it was the Closing Ceilid’h of the Spirit of Speyside Festival and quite a great party. There, I discovered great and affordable whiskies, with three handfill casks always available with a great selection and fantastic price range, and people absolutely lovely. I made friends, people I still talk to quite often, two years later. They even talk to me back and not just ignore me! I’ve been wanting to write some articles about Glen Moray bottling for a long time but never took the time to do so. It’ll come. The Cask Projects (or curiosities), with their infamous Cider cask finish. The Warehouse 1 releases. Lots of bottle-your-own. Old distillery exclusives… But that will have to wait. Tonight, I’m reviewing a Glen Moray 27yo bottled by Chorlton Whisky.

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Tomatin 2009 Le Gus't

Tomatin 2009 Le Gus’t

Today we’re on something special, something I wasn’t part of here, but an experience I had the chance to have elsewhere. Several times. A community’s bottling. Back in May 2020 I think, I joined my first “close” whisky community. The Whisky Circus. I’ve already told you about this group founded by Sorren “ocdwhisky” Krebs. This is a group with a bit more than 30 members right now. Some joined later after its creation, some left, some took a pause. And with this group, we had several whiskies bottled for us for several distilleries. And having your own bottling, for your group, feels special. Way more recently, I was invited by a friend into another whisky group, a French one this time. Not a Twitter one, but one on Facebook one. It’s called “La Confrérie du Whisky”. We’re just (as far as I know) French (or French speaking) people, and as the Circus, it’s very dangerous for your credit card. And they did their own bottling too, with the help of the liquor shop and French indy bottler, Le Gus’t. So tonight, I try a Tomatin 2009 Le Gus’t bottled for La Confrérie du Whisky.

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Mortlach 2002 Hidden Spirits

Mortlach 2002 Hidden Spirits

We’re back to a Hidden Spirits bottling, this time with the Beast of Dufftown: Mortlach. Founded in 1823 by James Findlater, Donald Mackintosh and Alex Gordon, probably on the site of an older illicit distillation, it is the oldest of the several distilleries located at Dufftown. They use a complicated distillation process that they advertise as 2.81 distillations, but I’ll explain that on a future article about Mortlach, and maybe after I’ve written a post about distillation for the All about whisky section. For now, let’s just say that it’s owned, like many other distilleries, by Diageo. You cannot visit it except usually during the Spirit of Speyside Festival, and it’s known for its heavy and meaty character. But I’m still, for now, on my almost everyday reviews from my advent calendar (I know, I missed a couple ones). So it’ll be a short article, let’s go directly to review the 13th dram for the calendar: a Mortlach 2002 bottled by Hidden Spirits.

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Bowmore 2001 Artist #7 part 2 LMDW

Bowmore 2001 Artist #7 part 2 LMDW

After a couple days in Tasmania and a quick trip to Japan (yesterday’s dram was a Nikka Taketsuru 21, already reviewed by your servitor last year), we’re back to Islay but this time from the eastern shores of Loch Indaal, above the hands of the witch. I’ll just do a brief introduction about Bowmore since with (almost) a review a day, I cannot take the time to cover the story of the distillery with its two and a half centuries of existence. And after that, I’ll review the Bowmore 2011 Artist #7 part 2 LMDW.

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Port Charlotte 2003 Hidden Spirits

Port Charlotte 2003 Hidden Spirits

Today we open the second sample from my advent calendar. After a new riddle that didn’t help my hair grow back, my friends and I finally guessed it was a Port Charlotte 2003 bottled by Hidden Spirits. You probably know that already, dear reader, but Port Charlotte was an Islay distillery. It was founded in 1829 by Colin Campbell on the north-west bank of Loch Indaal and was also known as Rhins Distillery and Lochindaal Distillery. It ran for a hundred years between 1829 and 1929, changing hands several times during that period. In the mid-1880s, Alfred Barnard reported Lochindaal was producing 128.000 gallons of spirit per annum, to compare with Lagavulin’s 75.000 gallons and Ardbeg’s 250.000 gallons at the time. Back in 1920, JF Sherriff & Co, then the owner of Lochindaal, was bought by Benmore Distilleries. Nine years later in 1929, Distillers Company Limited (DCL) purchased Benmore and closed down immediately Lochindaal. Then, in 2000, the nearby distillery Bruichladdich was acquired by the independent bottlers Murray McDavid, who wanted to revive the Lochindaal distillery by creating a new distillery in which to produce heavily-peated whisky, but the plans never saw the light of day, and since Bruichladdich’s acquisition by French company Rémy Cointreau in 2012, it seems highly unlikely that distilling will return to the Port Charlotte village.

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Naguelann Cuvée Grand’Pa Eilvet

Naguelann Cuvée Grand’Pa Eilvet

Naguelann is a brand of whisky from Brittany created in 2014 by Lenaïck Lemaitre. He started maturing whiskies distilled by neighbour Breton distilleries, allowing him to release his first expressions in 2015, with Cuvée Grand’Pa, and in 2016, with Ed Unan. If he started maturing new make made by others, he’s now also distilling himself. Lemaitre also owns a whisky shop and bar in Saint-Malo called ArKoad, where you can buy his creations as well as whiskies he bottled as an independent bottler, and taste many other whiskies from everywhere around the world. Let’s review his first release, Naguelann Cuvée Grand’Pa Eilvet.

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The Whisky Cellar Tweet Tasting

The Whisky Cellar Tweet Tasting

As I had the chance to do many times before, I participated in a Tweet Tasting organized as usual by Steve Rush from The Whisky Wire on Wednesday the 23rd of September. This time, it was not a distillery, but a “new” indy… No, not Indiana Jones. As I was saying, this time it was not a distillery, but a quite new Independent Bottler called The Whisky Cellar. We received a really nice package with five samples, a notebook and a beautiful pen made with oak from a cask stave by Andrew from miawoodcrafts. By the way, if you didn’t know what he does, go check him out, what he makes is brilliant. I do already have a pen made from a Glenfarclas stave and I love it. But let’s get back on track and talk about today’s subject: The Whisky Cellar Tweet Tasting. And let’s start by having a chat with Keith Bonnington to know more about The Whisky Cellar!

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