Ardmore 21 yr
NOSE: Barely-there smoke is overpowered by notes of vanilla wafers, lemon peel and cornflowers in bloom. Some gravel and a dash of lime-cilantro dressing keep the otherwise sweet nose together.
PALATE: Slowly, the peat emerges on the palate, with maple-cured bacon on pancakes and smoked apple cider. At the back, a bowl of ripe plums is scattered with mint and green walnuts.
FINISH: Elegant finish with more walnut, complemented by green tea, cardamom, white pepper and charcoal.
Mortlach 26 yr
NOSE: Complex nose with amber resin, beeswax and mahogany wood, softened considerably by sweet toasted hazelnuts, bourbon pralines and cinnamon sticks.
PALATE: Full-bodied flavours of dark chocolate-covered Brazil nuts, dried cranberries and walnuts accompany a hot cup of black coffee. With water, there’s some soft waxed leather, oak staves, fresh ginger and aniseed.
FINISH: The anise flavours become more prominent, alongside subtle winter spices, orange peel, dried herbs and a hint of vanilla.
Linkwood 12 yr
NOSE: Intense nose of white chocolate shavings, vanilla pod and cream soda, followed by playful fruit notes of raspberries, poached pears and a tall piña colada.
PALATE: Dessert flavours at the fore — cookie dough, lemon cream cake and a bowl of porridge drizzled with honey. The citrus slowly develops into lime zest, sherbet, gooseberries and a chilled glass of Sauternes.
FINISH: Digestive biscuits, sunflower oil and a ripe banana dusted with ground ginger.
Ledaig 14 yr
NOSE: Powerful cigar ash, bonfires and leather, followed by sweetness and spice: burnt raisin bread, toffee, clove, star anise, curry powder and a pot of lapsang souchong tea.
PALATE: Full-bodied wood smoke accompanied by dried orange peel, sultanas, black pepper, beef brisket and sweet BBQsauce. Indian mukhwas — fennel seeds, coconut and sugar — finishes off the intense palate.
FINISH: Lingering flavour of smoked meats over warm coals, softened somewhat by dried fruits and a caramel sauce.
Imperial 30 yr
NOSE: Opens up with subtle blooming violets, Provence lavender fields and honeysuckle. A slightly tart, fruity note follows — pineapple and pink grapefruit peel.
PALATE: Madeira cake with caramel icing laid on a beeswax-polished oak table. With a drop of water, there’s more refined wood notes, walnuts and a jar of Mirabelle plums soaked in Calvados.
FINISH: Mint drops, camphor, dry hay and cups of genmaicha green tea, sweetened with a drop of heather honey.
Glenrothes 30 yr
NOSE: Sawdust in a carpenter’s workshop and grist pouring from a malt mill. Behind the woody notes, there’s wonderfully floral mango slices and rose-scented candlewax.
PALATE: Syrupy texture with barley, grapefruit peel, garden mint and a few staves of wood. Given time, the menthol flavours transform into striped candy canes decorating the walls of a gingerbread house.
FINISH: More mint, this time blended with dark chocolate chip ice cream. Some cloves give just a hint of spice at the end.
5 stars by Dave Broom
Glenburgie 21 yr
NOSE: Opens with banana peel, followed with butter on toasted sourdough bread baked with sunflower seeds. Under-ripe pineapple slices, kiwi and citric acid provide a sharper edge at the back.
PALATE: Still acidic, but now with a collection of zesty, juicy fruits. Picnic on a _freshly mowed lawn: peaches and apricots are cut open, served with homemade lemon sorbet and a bottle of sparkling wine.
FINISH: Briefly returning to the baked bread on the nose, we find a rich rye loaf alongside light caramel, matcha green tea and honeysuckle.
Glen Elgin 13 yr
NOSE: Delightfully bright, with pineapple rings, fizzy watermelon candies and milk chocolate sauce drizzled over banana split ice cream. Spring wildflowers beautifully complement the dessert notes.
PALATE: Soft tropical fruits — melon, guava and peach — are served with desiccated coconut and a cup of white tea, while mojitos shaken up with golden rum and fresh peppermint give a herbal lift.
FINISH: Drying, with a flinty edge. The fruit slowly turns to orange zest and pink peppercorns.
Caol Ila 10 yr
NOSE: Dry smoke and a floral note of blooming dandelions drift over wet stones. Sea kelp, rock oysters, fresh cilantro dressing and lemon juice contrast with a hint of vanilla.
PALATE: Springtime on Islay: all smouldering peat, green grass, limestone and sea salt. Silky mouthfeel with some whipped cream, mixed citrus peel, pear slices and sour rhubarb candies
FINISH: The smoke slowly dries out into burnt orange, cardamom pod and torched pine splinters. Slightly flinty, bringing it back to the coastal elements where it all started.
Ben Nevis 23yr
NOSE: Corridors of old wood cabinets polished with linseed oil. The scent of pipe tobacco, oranges, honey and brewer’s yeast fill the air.
PALATE: Big, meaty texture expressing a bounty of spices: nutmeg, clove and liqourice. Sweet mint tea and orange curacao is accompanied by a platter of dried fruits — figs, dates and blackcurrants.
FINISH: Sweeter on the finish, with an indulgent rum raisin cake and dark toffee frosting.
90 points by Serge Valentin of Whisky Fun