LMdW Artist Series #12 – The intense Benrinnes 10+ year 58.1%

Benrinnes over 10 year (2011/2022) 1st Fill Sherry Cask No 307205 58.1% (LMdW Artist Collection #12) 660 Bottles EUR 198

  • Nose – Heavy dates, prunes, such a clear sherry influence!
  • Palate – Intense, almost too much – at least for so early in the day! Resinous, nutty, very active
  • Finish – Curious….

Overall this was a tough one for me… I’ve had mixed experiences with Benrinnes, however mostly very positive – such as the remarkably rustic19 year, an earlier Artist Series 20 year with its rusty metallic and sweet character, and the less interesting 24 year.

I strongly suspect this is the kind of whisky you don’t want to have just a quick sniff and swish…  it was such a short brush I honestly didn’t discover even a fraction of what was described in the official tasting notes.

What more do the folks at LMdW have to say (courtesy google translate)?

  • Nose : rich, deep. Very complex, the initial nose reveals an endless amount of apricot rancio, notes of beeswax, linden honey, heady flowers (hyacinth, pansy), toffee, Turkish delight, chocolate milk, sweet spices (cumin, ginger), fresh coriander, candied orange, melon, camphor, verbena, toasted walnuts, carnation, malted barley grain…
  • Appearance : orange copper with mahogany reflections
  • Palate : ample, unctuous. With a very pleasant delicacy to the touch, the attack on the palate is apricot, chocolate, tertiary (mushrooms, mousse) and balsamic (cough candy, pine). Gourmet, the mid-palate oscillates between flavors of mocha, gingerbread, salted butter caramel and melon ice cream. Then, gradually, dried fruits (chestnuts, chestnuts, walnuts) rub shoulders with fermentation notes (grist) as well as exotic fruits (mango, banana, pineapple).
  • Overall : long, full of liveliness. At the start of the finish, the notes of cough candy and pine resin come back in force and bring a very pleasant freshness to the taste palette. Then, flavors of candied apricot, geranium flower and ginger bring both a lot of smoothness and dynamism to the aftertaste. On the retro-nasal olfaction, notes of still-warm brioche and Paris-Brest emphasize the delicious character of the finish. The empty glass is liquoricey, oily (sesame, sunflower) and cocoa.

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LMdW Artist Series #12 – The delightful Clynelish 30+ year 47.7%

Clynelish over 30 year (1990/2022) Ex Bourbon Cask No 3477 47.7% (LMdW Artist Collection #12) 137 Bottles. Highlands. Eur 350

  • Nose – Citrus perfume, then orchard fruits of pear, lightly waxy, sweet vanilla, delicate and nuanced
  • Palate – Lovely with a surprising depth, delicious and beautiful
  • Finish – Clean and fruity

An enchanting dram, classically styled. Perfection!

What more do the folks at LMdW have to say (courtesy of how Google translated)?

  • Appearance : Deep gold.
  • Nose : Fine. Magnificently herbaceous (hay, cut) and fruity (pineapple, banana), the first nose opens quickly with notes of wax that instantly plunge into the “Clynelish” universe. Allowed to breathe, new fruits (pear, apple) appear as well as particularly subtle aromas of vanilla and green liquorice. Increasingly creamy (semolina, rice pudding), the aromatic palette is also peppery, saline almost medicinal (balm, camphor) and lemony.
  • Palate : Dense, balanced. Overflowing with naturalness, with its malty and lemony flavors, the attack on the palate is intimately linked to the aromatic palette. Haughty and luminous, the mid-palate reveals extremely delicate floral notes (lily of the valley, white lilac, rose petal). Very pleasantly saline, the end of the mouth evokes a rural seaside landscape. Thus, at the bend of a bend, we can see the Clynelish and Brora distilleries.
  • Overall : Delicate, serene. Just as marvelously green and saline, the start of the finish shows a honeyed sweetness (acacia) of incredible smoothness. Exotic (coconut, pineapple) and praline, the aftertaste invites you to savor succulent courgette flower fritters. On the retro-nasal olfaction, noble spices (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg) bring a lot of energy to the finish. At once milky, fruity (banana) and rooty (gentian), the empty glass restores the ethereal character of this venerable version.

How fabulous to have a chance to try such a gem!

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Paris Whisky Live 2022 – Artist Series #12 Intro

A few years ago, I was introduced to La Maison du Whisky’s Artist Series at Singapore Whisky Lives VIP section – what a treat! It was experiences like this that convinced me to purchase a VIP ticket for at least one day at Paris Whisky Live was the way to go!

So I knew it was well worth braving the crowd around this booth to sample the different delights on offering – ranging from Eur 198 to Eur Eur 2,395 per bottle!

So, what is the Artist range all about? Was there a theme this year? And what about the guest artist?

La Maison du Whisky created this series to explore special Scottish vintages – from 10, 15, 20, 25 to 30 years… with this year adding a 40+ year to the mix. Started in 2011, 2022 introduced the 12th edition.

As for a theme? LMdW described it as “Andulasian Tropism“…. unlike previous editions where there was a split ex-bourbon and ex-sherry, this year focused almost exclusively on ex-sherry casks – with the Clynelish the one exception (hence why it was clearly the place to begin!)

The guest artist selected was Gesine Arps, who is a painter, sculptor and poet born in Hannover, Germany in 1964. As they explain:

Guided by a dreamy and sensual meditation, her works in luminous hues, enhanced with natural pigments, crystal powder, gold and silver leaf, combine with all the freedom of dreamlike plant motifs, animal figures, human silhouettes and multiple symbols. From her colorful and shimmering canvases emerges a peaceful, warm vitality, which invites you to take a voluptuous poetic stroll.

My journey through the Artist Series #12 took the following order:

  • Clynelish 30+ year (1990/2022) Ex Bourbon Cask No 3477 47.7% – A delightful waxy fruity appetizer, a class act
  • Benrinnes 10+ year (2011/2022) 1st Fill Sherry Cask No 307205 58.7% – Curious, intense, tricky to describe
  • Glenrothes 25+ year (1995/2022) 1st Fill Sherry Cask No 6983 55.8% – A rich, mature sherry bomb
  • Bunnahabhain 40+ year (1977/2022) Sherry Butt No 7602 47.2% – A mature maritime, mineral malt
  • Bowmore 20+ year (2001/2022) 1st Fill Sherry Butt No 102 54.8% – An absolute stunner – beautifully sweet, peat, silky smooth, mature and complex
  • Ledaig 15+ year (2005/2022) Refill Butt No 90037 64.8% – Fierce, fiery and fruity!

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Paris Whisky Live 2022 – VIP Antipodes with Arran 10 + 25 year

Where to start? After the rather overwhelmingly long VIP line, I was finally in Paris Whisky Live and made my way to part of the VIP section. With all the crowds around the ‘popular’ Antipodes, I wandered my way to a curious one that combined whisky and beer.

Naturally, my eye quickly spotted Arran whiskies and I thought, why not warm up the palate with a friendly favourite?

Arran 10 year (05 Oct 2011 – 11 July 2022) 1st Fill Bourbon Cask 2011/1871 55.2% (LMdW Antipode bottle 163 of 224)

Knowing the Arran 10 year standard, I dove immediately into their 10-year Private Cask at cask strength – nothing like going from 0% to 55.2%!

It was exactly as expected! A lovely sunshine ex-bourbon dram with honey, fruity, cheerful cherries, berries, and more! Throw in some warm vanilla cream, a dash of slightly citrus notes closing with a sweet summery finish, What a lovely way to calibrate the palate for treats to come!

Arran 25 year (05 Aug 1996 – 11 Jul 2022) Sherry Hogshead 1996/892 51.5% (LMdW Antipode bottle 267 of 268)

I then moved on to the Arran 25 year…. This was not my 1st brush with their older whiskies, having been fortunate to try the 2020 25-year at the Lochranza distillery from the cask before it was bottled – a cask strength marvel that showcased just how carefully considered the approach was from the start. However what about this slightly later avatar?

  • Colour – Deep ruby, almost garnet
  • Nose – What a fabulous sherry bomb! Gorgeous rich character
  • Palate – Starts soft and silky smooth, then morphs into dark berries, chocolate
  • Finish – A long strong beautiful finish

What a wonderfully well-rounded mature dram. An absolute treasure!

This was no gentle start but instead going straight into the sublime! Clearly, I started my Paris Whisky Live 2022 in the right way!

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Paris Whisky Live 2022 – VIP Antipodes Ex Libris – Knappogue Castle + JP Wiser

What the heck is the “Ex Libris” line from La Maison du Whisky’s Artist range all about? Put simply, this series goes beyond Scotland and links whisky to literature. Clean labels with a nod to days gone by, I was drawn to discover what lies between the covers of these “books.”

The quartet sampled at Paris Whisky Live featured a trio from Ireland from Knappogue Castle with three contrasting expressions (ex bourbon, sherry, and port) named after James Joyce poems followed by a remarkably aged Canadian J.P. Wiser – 40 years! – taking title inspiration from Canadian author Mordecai Richler.

As this was a Whisky fest, I kept to my pattern of sniff, swish and (sigh…) spit… which means my notes are fleeting impressions rather than proper tasting insights.

Knappogue Castle “Summer Wind” 28 Year (1994) ex-Bourbon Cask 888138 52.2% (LMdW ex Libris) EUR 540

  • Nose – Bright, light, and fruity, faintly floral
  • Palate – Darker dessert, vanilla cream, lovely balance, classic style
  • Finish – Light spice chased by candied ginger

An enchanting afternoon dram. I loved it! Such a perfect way to kick off our Knappogue Castle trio…

Knappogue Castle “Wind of Spices” 24 Year (1997) ex-Sherry Cask 87601 54.4% (LMdW) EUR 499

  • Nose – Delicious pastries, with some lovely heavier wood elements
  • Palate – Lovely rich, heavier, intense berries, chocolates, such depth of character… it almost touched being in the wood too long…. a bit vegetal
  • Finish – Long and strong

What a contrast with the ex-Bourbon! The Sherry cask added a marvelous dimension…. the kind of special dram you simply want to sit back, relax in a comfy leather chair with a damn good book…. slowly savoring for hours. Fabulous!

Knappogue Castle “Wind of May” 22 Year (2000) Ruby Port Cask 45429 56.8% (LMdW) EUR 515

  • Nose – Heavier
  • Palate – Hmmm…..  it was a bit too much punch for me, at least so early in the morning!
  • Finish – Bitter

For me, this was more of a winter dram than late-spring whisky.  Now I appreciate this was just a sniff and swish, however, I struggled with this one…. my scant tasting notes reflect this struggle too. Perhaps in a different setting, I would have a very different impression.

Changing gears, I moved on to The Apprenticeship, taken from Mordecai Richler’s novel The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1959), which refers to the journey of J. P. Wiser’s master blender, Dr. Don Livermore.

JP Wiser’s “Apprenticeship” 40 year (1982) 61.9% (LMdW)

  • Nose – Spicy, Sweet corn then shifted into a deep woodsy dimension
  • Palate – Smooth, waxy…. a bit like flavored crayons, all sorts of elements going on
  • Finish – Spicy

Now, this is one I wish I could have given more time and attention to! It isn’t often you come across something of such a vintage – particularly from Canada. I will fully admit that for a Canadian, I’ve woefully neglected exploring the Canadian whisky scene in my infrequent trips to visit family and friends. And to have a slice of whisky history like this practically slip through my fingers (nostrils)? Ah well…

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Paris Whisky Live 2022 – VIP Gordon + Macphail’s Convalmore + Highland Park

Gordon & Macphail’s Private Collection features rare, old and even closed distilleries, a “must catch” at any whisky festival and a very good reason to go “VIP” for at least one day at Paris Whisky Live.

Featured in 2022 were a closed distillery – Convalmore – and a familiar friend with Highland Park. I had to start with the Convalmore which was approx 40 years patiently maturing in refill American hogshead.

This was my first experience with Convalmore – which was “Victorian” Speyside distillery that spent most of its life in blends. “Mothballed” in 1985, this particular vintage dram came from some of its final years of operations.

Convalmore (1982/2 Mar 2022) Refill American Hogshead #155 55.5% (Gordon & Macphail) 104 bottles

  • Colour – Amber
  • Nose – Delightfully fruity – pears, apples… dripping in sweet honey, shifting into vanilla cream – delicious
  • Palate – Lovely on the palate, soft… continued the fruity element, a bit waxy
  • Finish – Light spice, sweet with a buttery texture

Beautiful! This was so special. Fruity, waxy, subtle, nuanced and supremely sophisticated. Such a lovely whisky… and such a treat to have a chance to try something so rare and lovely from a closed distillery.

The official Gordon & Macphail tasting notes are remarkably similar to my scribbles from a sniff & swish at Paris Whisky Live:

  • Nose – Rich vanilla pod gives way to fresh green apple and orange zest. Honeysuckle notes develop with quince and toasted walnut.
  • Taste – Sweet and smooth exotic fruit flavours accompany poached pear and floral notes. White chocolate comes to the fore alongside baked apple
  • Finish – A medium-bodied finish with guava and sweet honey.

I couldn’t find this exact bottle for sale, however, a related one from 1982 was listed on WhiskyBase for GBP 1,500, which gives you a feel for just how pricey a sip of whisky history can be.


Next up was another vintage dram – also pushing the high side of 30s from Orkney Island with Highland Park. I must admit that this distillery was an early favourite – my ‘gateway” dram to single malts back in the 1990s – particularly the 18 years old. Since then, they have gone all over the place with different approaches, some very “Viking” branding… which made it all the more refreshing to slip back in time to the “original” spirit of their spirits…

Highland Park 37 year (1984 / 31 Dec 2021) Refill American Hogshead #1816 46.3% (Gordon & Macphail) Bottles 116

  • Colour – Gold
  • Nose – Fruitier than expected, sweet lemon/lime-like mosambi, honey sweet and light, with a dash of salted caramel
  • Palate – Incredibly silky smooth, gorgeous and well balanced, with a hint of citrus fruit coming from behind, light peat gives this a lovely dimension
  • Finish – Gentle and subtle

What fun! This was a lovely dram… In some ways reminded me a bit of the much younger Chorlton 15 year Orkney.

And what about the official Gordon & Maphail tasting notes as a reference? Yup! Would certainly agree…

  • Nose – Fragrant lemon aromas intertwine with honeydew melon and sweet Demerara sugar. Red apple notes develop accompanied by grapefruit zest and walnut.
  • Taste – Citrus fruit flavours give way to guava and subtle cured meats. Dried mango comes to the fore alongside toasted almonds and spicy pepper.
  • Finish – Soft smoke lingers on the finish with green apple, poached pear and spice.

I was curious to see what this experience would set you back… and found a bottle currently available through Whic.de for EUR 1,790.

What an interesting pair… and there we have it!

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London Whisky Show – Disappointing Diageo’s Den

Once you have been to a whisky festival or two, you start to have a way of navigating their offerings…. making a good connection or two with the lads and lasses at the various booths, and then move on to give others a chance to experience, hopefully learning a thing or two along the way. At London’s The Whisky Show, we had a grand old time and thoroughly enjoyed our day! With one or two teeny tiny exceptions…

Along with our “dream dram” and meal tokens, we also had a Diageo chocolate and whisky pairing ticket too. The meal was really quite terrific for a mass event like The Whisky Show. However every time we would glance over at the Diageo area, it was so crazy crowded around the bar, that we would skip over and continue to other options.

As the afternoon waned, we decided better go before it was too late! At first, it was nearly impossible to get anyone’s attention and when we finally did, enquiring about the pairing, were informed they ran out. He clearly was overwhelmed and not interested in offering anything or having a chat…

However, we persisted and spotted the Clynelish Cask Strength 54.9% was handy. So insisted on a small pour. This wasn’t our 1st Clynelish and found it was fruity and floral as expected.

We thought to try something more but, frankly, gave up. We enjoy the conversations, learning something new, however, for us at least, this clearly wasn’t going to happen at the Diageo den.

So yes, they are the biggest boys in the industry and I’m quite sure they had an impressive array of whiskies available at The Whisky Show – estimated to be above 75 – however we clearly were not pushy enough or important enough to get much ‘love’ from their side. Oh well… you win some and you miss some!

Lucky for us, we had some absolutely STELLAR drams at Gordon & Macphail, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, the TWE festival area and so much more! That this wee uninspiring experience didn’t deter us from a marvelous mostly malty day!!

As for other Clynelish tasting experiences? Read on…

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London Whisky Show – Berry Bros + Rudd’s Speyside

There were just too many options at the London Whisky Show! It is simply impossible to get to everything. Towards the end of the day, we passed by the Berry Bros & Rudd, and thought… let’s try just one!

By that point in our wanderings, I thought of trying something classic and uncomplicated. So decided to sample the Classic Speyside blend.

Berry Bros & Rudd Speyside Blended Malt 44.2% 

  • Nose – Honey, citrus, fresh fruits
  • Palate – Juicy fruits
  • Finish – Lightly sweet

Though I had only a light sniff, swish & spit, it left a nice impression – something easy and fruity. And there are times when that hits the spot.

What more do they have to say?

Many of Scotland’s most famous malts hail from Speyside, known for their approachable, fruity style and floral complexity. Our Classic Speyside Malt captures the very essence of the region, balancing subtle, honeyed fruit aromas with easy-going yet complex aromas.

  • Appearance: Golden Syrup
  • Bouquet: Honeyed fruit, citrus and soft wood
  • Palate: Creamy citrus, honey, rounded
  • Finish: Soft fruits, mid-long

I glanced at the Sherry however as everything was beginning to close up, decided to skip! However next festival should spend a bit of time with these folks.

For whatever reason, we haven’t tried many of their own whisky selections… just a few:

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London Whisky Show – Fettercairn

After almost overwhelming experiences with both Gordon & Macphail and That Boutique-y Whisky Co, my tasting companion and I were on our way out for a break at the London Whisky Show. However, en route were distracted by the Fettercairn stand…. what did we try?

Fettercairn 16 year (2021) Batch 003, 46.4% 

  • Nose – Shy but present, sweet, and maybe a bit of ginger?
  • Palate – Clear sherry influence, woody
  • Finish – Sweet smoked paprika

Our tasting guide shared that the expression was matured in Oloroso & Palo Cortado Sherry Butts. To be honest, we didn’t spend much time with this one.

Fettercairn Warehouse No. 2 (2022) Batch 004, 48.8%

  • Nose – What you would expect from the casks – some honey, orchard fruits and something a bit different
  • Palate – Spicy and sweet, quite active – flavours bouncing around

The idea behind this series is to showcase the distillery ‘spirit & character’ through different batches that will differ each time. In this case, we sampled the 4th batch which had first-fill ex-bourbon casks (approx 74%) as its ‘base’, and some second-fill ex-bourbon casks (20%), with the balance from Hungarian oak wine casks that were re-charred.

When you wander through the booths at a Whisky Festival, there comes a point where impressions start to blur, tasting notes get shorter and it is clearly time for a change in pace. This is why after the Fettercairn, we decided to step out of the main area, took a break, and rather re-enter, next went to a masterclass!

As for other Fettercairn tasting experiences? Read on…

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London Whisky Show – Lochranza’s Machrie Moor

My London Whisky Show tasting companion and I are both fans of Arran whiskies. The Lochranza distillery’s un-peated “Arran” style – both their core range and limited editions!

However whilst I’ve known of their peated “Machrie Moor” for years, haven’t adequately explored these expressions. Since 2019, Lochranza stopped using peat, choosing instead to dedicate their new Lagg distillery to a peat style. This means Machrie Moor will become a thing of the past. So we skipped over many familiar friends on offer, to try this duo of their standard Machrie Moor and cask strength.

Machrie Moor 46% 

  • Nose – Peat and sweet, fresh with that special kinda peat that combines smoked meats, crispy bacon, and a drizzle of maple syrup
  • Palate – Started spicy, then mellowed out with hints of the underlying fruity character
  • Finish – Cinamon and smoke

This may seem surprising, but my impression from a light sniff, swish, and spit was that Machrie Moor was surprisingly mild and modest.

What more do they have to say about this expression?

On the west coast of the Isle of Arran lies a windswept and mystical peat bog called Machrie Moor. Bronze Age stone circles and standing stones are strewn across its barren, undulating terrain. One of the stone circles is known as Fingal’s Cauldron Seat, where sits a stone with a carved hole. The legendary warrior giant Fingal is said to have tethered his favourite dog Bran to this stone. This peated expression of the Arran Single Malt perfectly captures the rugged beauty and lore of the landscape. Unleash the legend that is Machrie Moor.

And their official tasting notes?

  • Nose – Light smoke and citrus
  • Palate – Dried grass, peat smoke and hints of vanilla and tropical fruit.
  • Finish – Citrus, Smoke, Peat, Pineapple.

We then moved on to the cask strength expression…

Machrie Moor Cask Strength 56.2% 

  • Nose – At first fruity then shifted into meaty peat with smoked ham or pastrami
  • Palate – A fiery spice! Which initially masked the stewed fruits

Unlike the milder Machrie Moor 46%, this was a powerhouse and initially a bit imbalanced. However, I have a strong suspicion that a dash of water would make all the difference – something that we skipped in our quick zip-through!

What more do they have to say?

  • Nose – Citrus notes with a background of peat and a puff of smoke immediately apparent
  • Palate – A robust dram with the typical orchard fruits of Arran coming to the fore over a layer of toasted brioche and red berries
  • Finish – Citrus, Smoke, Chocolate, Vanilla, Coconut.

Both were interesting to try, however, have to admit, we remain partial to their un-peated expressions. Curious about these other Arran explorations? Just read on…

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