Chorlton’s Orkney 22 year (1999/2022) 53.4%

These days trying to acquire one of the beautiful bottles from Chorlton‘s  La Nouvelle Vague series requires lightning speed! If you miss the email for even an hour you very well may be out of luck!

When I scored this bottle in Feb 2022, I suspected it would be many months, perhaps even years before I would find the right opportunity to open it! First was getting it from London to Mumbai – which happened in March 2022. Then I needed to join from Nurnberg to Mumbai – also happened by April 2022. And most importantly, finding the right occasion? And that’s when India’s Malt Maniac Krishna Nakula mentioned he would be in town, together with two founders of SMAC India. I also knew once opened, an additional tasting session could follow where this could be shared as a “bonus”! Including the very person who kindly let me use his London address and brought the bottle to India!

So what did we think?

Orkney 22 year (9 June 1999 – February  2022) bourbon hogshead 53.4% (311 bottles)

  • Nose – Subtle and mellow at first, salt spray from the seashore, lovely herbal notes, then started to reveal butterscotch and gingerbread, fruit strudel – perhaps apricot? Then pears and melons, then tart slightly sour stewed apples. Then sweet varnish.  A nice earthy element kept the desert qualities in check – sweet but not overly so!
  • Palate – Wonderful! Buttery brandy. Salted old-fashioned black licorice, a hint of tobacco. Such a fabulous mouthfeel – tempts you to just keep rolling it around, enjoying its marvelous viscosity, a marvelous mix – from herbal to lightly fruity to smoke and pepper – all beautifully balanced and creamy
  • Finish – Rewarding, dry, bitter cinnamon bark, more of that enchanting herbal element… only complaint is that it dissipates too quickly leaving only a faint impression
  • Water – Necessary? No however also lovely with! Makes it sweeter, black peppercorn pops out, cloves and still nice and buttery

Take your time with this one… the more time you give it, the more it gives you! I was so happy to revisit it a few days later in a leisurely long evening over excellent cheese, fresh bread, and conversation.

Simply put – what an utterly lovely dram. If you blind tasted it, I strongly suspect Highland Park would NOT be the obvious option.

What did David have to say in his email?

Also available is a new 22-year-old Orkney. H*ghl*nd P*rk produces a consistently excellent distillate, but I always think these late-1990s vintages have a special something about them.

So, the nose starts on soft notes of lemony wax, honey and orange, with a wee clean herbal backing (eucalyptus, spearmint, lime leaves) and then really opens up the longer it breathes. There’s something fruity and lightly medicinal happening (think cherry lozenges), banana Nesquik powder (my secret shame), sea air and a thin thread of bonfire smoke. Adding water is transformative: tangerine Altoids, spearmint chews, angelica, sea water and heather.

The palate is rich, resinous and honeyed in texture. I get malt extract, lemons & limes & salt, plus a peppery peatiness that almost has a gentle Talisker feel. I also find seafood with salty-buttered brown bread, herbal liqueur and cough syrup. The finish is really long, with dried herbs, sweet citrus, and lingering smoke. Water again opens things up in a herbal direction: crushed mint leaves, lemon tea, pine needles and salty orangey honey.

This bourbon hogshead produced 311 bottles at 53.4% for £135 plus tax and courier charges.

Here are more from La Nouvelle Vague series:

  • Mannochmore 12 year 58.7% – A delicious fruit basket!
  • Orkney 15 year 57.1%Absolutely gorgeous dram
  • Croftnegea 13 year 53.9%Enchanting!
  • Ledaig 12 year 55.5%, Speyside (Glenrothes) 13 year 64.6% – Waiting in Paris
  • Glen Elgin 12 year (21 April 2009 / summer 2021) refill hogshead 56.6%,  Tormore 28 year (16 Nov 1992 / summer 2021)refill hogshead 42.4%, Bunnahabhain 18 year (28 Feb 2002 / Dec 2021) sherry butt 53.4% – Waiting in London

Here are the Chorltons we’ve sampled from the L’Ancien Régime series:

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The Whisky Warehouse No. 8 – Deanston 10 year 57.3%

It was a full year ago that I picked up this Whisky Warehouse No 8 Regions set. My virtual tasting companies from London and Paris suggested we start with the Highland Deanston – which turned out to be a capital idea!

So what did we think?

Deanston 10 year (Sep 2009 – Oct 2019) WW8 108 Bourbon Barrel 57.3%

  • Nose – Mmmmm…. apple pastry – like a sweet cinnamon baked apple crisp topped with brown sugar and oats, mellowed into apple sauce then shifted into something a bit more tart – reminded us more of crabapple or guava….
  • Palate – Equally yummy! More of that delicoius pastry, some toffee, super smooth with lovely body and depth, nice spice
  • Finish – Quite a decent finish – lingers with a bit of that light spice
  • Water – Didn’t even occur to us – surprising given this was our 1st dram of the evening at 57.3%!

What we concluded is that was a perfect start to our evening of tasting. We couldn’t imagine this was cask strength! Smooth and sweet, this whisky was an absolute delight. 

I couldn’t find any official tasting notes for this one.. however, it looks like it is still available – remarkable!

What more did we have in our WW8 Regions set:

What about prior explorations from Whisky Warehouse No. 8?

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A venerable Glenglassaugh 40 year (1965) 47.8%

One of the best things about a good Whisky Festival or very well stocked bar is an opportunity to try something that ordinarily you would never be able to buy on your own… That is exactly why at Berlin’s  Union Jack we shared a very clear brief – we wanted to end our evening with something truly exceptional and rare. Our preference was a discontinued distillery – something that we would otherwise never ever have a chance to experience….

My tasting companion mentioned interest in a Port Ellen however we were open to anything. Our whisky guide for the evening consulted the Union Jack owner and came up with a remarkable short-list: Rosebank 25 year, Glen Ord 1975, Brora 27 year (2015), Macallan-Glenlivet 1968/1983 (Berry Bros)… to which we also added the Glenglassaugh 40 year (1965), which my eye had spotted as soon as we walked in the door… A light sniff of each bottle made the choice very clear…

Obviously you can tell which one we selected!

We had earlier discussed the Glenglassaugh distillery and how challenging it is to have stock of remarkable old vintage whiskies produced before its closure vs a young upstart that was – frankly speaking – initially bottled before it was ready. I shared how malt maniac Krishna Nakula was so enthusiastic about the “old” and had once shared a sample of the “new” make spirit from the re-start.

For those not familiar, Glenglassaugh followed the path of many a Scottish distillery. Founded in 1875 until its closure in 1986. It was re-opened in 2008 and had a wee bit of a rocky re-start however understand it is getting its game together and was joined a few years ago by master blender Rachel Barrie.

However enough pre-amble… what matters most is what we discovered!

Glenglassaugh 40 year (1965) 47.8% (Murray McDavid Mission) Bottle 084/411

  • Nose – Simply superb, berries mashed and fresh, nuanced, like an Eaton mess – full of crunchy mirage, berries and cream, an antique quality opening up further to reveal a hint of coffee richness, a fruity compote, red liquorice, red candies
  • Palate – Exquisite, soft yet big, silky smooth, full flavoured yet elegant, more of that hint of coffee, so balanced with a curl of smoke sneaking up from behind, chocolate coffee cream
  • Finish – Gorgeous – such a long fruity fabulous finish

Having the great fortune of sampling a few venerable, I was poised for something a bit shy… instead this was an absolute delight. Classic and yet still full and flavourful, not a single off note instead it was pure indulgence.

There was such sophistication – from bursting berries to that hint of smoke… it was simply outstanding and well worth choosing as our grand finale.

What more do we know? The label shares it was matured in Sherry and Rivesaltes Casks. I’ll admit I had to look up “Rivesaltes” to find it is a sweet wine made from red or white grapes from the Languedoc region of France. Like sherry, it is a fortified wine of which there are several variations using Grenache, Muscat, Malvoisie with styles ranging from amber, garnet, tuilé or rosé. I will certainly keep my eye out for “Rivesaltes” in future as it clearly did great things for this particular whisky along with the Sherry cask.

The best quote of the evening came from our guide?

“I just cry that they don’t make whisky like this anymore.”

To put into perspective, the average value of this bottle in auctions is approx € 1755 though likely impossible to find now. As for us? It set us back a hefty EUR 80 for a glass however we both felt privileged to have had an opportunity to try.

Before this “penultimate” dram, we had  explored three sets of “pairings” which included:

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Dynamic Duo 1 – Benromach vs Cragganmore

It has been nearly three years since I first traveled to Berlin – one of those “live wire” global cities that has a palpable pulse of its own. A fellow whisky explorer let me know he was coming from London for the weekend so it made a perfect excuse to pop over for the weekend.

We went to the very well stocked Union Jack whisky bar! Turns out we were lucky to go on a Saturday – one of the two days in a week they are now open.

We were very well taken care of with carefully thought through choices. Our mandate was clear… we wanted to explore – two at a time til the grand finale of something utterly indulgent and extremely rare.

We wanted to start with an “appetizer” duolll something to ease into the evening. Our guide recommended

The thinking was to match to interesting yet ‘lighter’ options to whet our appetites. Particularly with the Cragganmore, we were assured this Distillers Edition is like none other and well worth trying. As for Benromach, we’ve enjoyed many a solid dram from this distillery.

So what did we think?

Cragganmore Distillers Edition (2008/2020) D6572 40%

  • Nose – Dried fruit, light spice with a woody musty malty aroma, mixed with the sweetness was a salty sour caramel. As it opened up further, it revealed orange marmalade with a citrus twist… and with even more time honeysuckle and a touch of hay
  • Palate – A nice spice, more whisky marmalade, woodiness…even resin, sweet spices of clove and black pepper, oily
  • Finish – More of that light spice, dry in a way that prompts you to ‘pucker up’ chased by oak and a touch of sweetness

It had a nice understated quality…. as for the marmalade? It was a distinctly “whisky” marmalade… which worked rather well. There was also much more body than the aromas would have suggested.

Overall it was an enjoyable start and much more interesting that we expected – particularly at a mere 40%.

Benromach 15 year 43%

  • Nose – Citrus oranges and calvados then a bit “woodsy” and beeswax polish, a dash of ginger and then…. after the 1st sip – wow peat?! Like having sweet roasted marshmallows crisped on a campfire, then sour cherries and a hint of sherry
  • Palate – Silky smooth with a lovely peat, elegant and balanced with toffee sweetness and fruity, hint of chocolate
  • Finish – A lovely long finish, truly lovely

Carrying on from the Cragganmore to the Benromach was a good choice! It was like shifting into an antique – it was like opening a lovely 1930 Art Deco cupboard to discover a special treat.

What else do we know? It was matured in 1st fill bourbon and sherry casks. An official bottling that is currently still available.

What do the folks at Benromach have to say?

  • Colour – dark amber
  • Aroma – Aromas of sweet toffee leading to notes of cracked black pepper and peat smoke. Rich forest fruits develop with dark chocolate and dried banana.
  • Palate – Creamy and sweet with ripe apples and an undertone of charred oak. Dark chocolate develops and leads to toasted malt and orange peel with a subtle hint of smoke.
  • Finish – Medium creamy finish with soft smoke and dried fruit

No doubt for us – the Benromach was the winner! What a treat!

If you were curious to try, they are both still available with the Cragganmore currently retailing for approx EUR 53 and the Benromach 15 for approx EUR 70.

As for what next? We had a few more to come…

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Birthday Drams – Balblair 18 year 46%

The Bombay Malt & Cigar gents and I first convened over a Balblair 38 year… so it was perfectly fitting this bottle joined our special birthday evening… even more so as it was my 50th birthday gift from the gents (a few years ago!). I simply had to wait for the right evening to share it with them! And, as my birthday gift, I also wanted to share it with our Whisky Ladies too – so I did just that a couple days later!

What did our gent think?

Balblair 18 year 46%

  • Nose – Freshly opened, we were greeted with a bit of iodine and sea salt, then it shifted into fruity sweetness, ripe plums morphing into sugar plums, raisins and cream, sugar syrup… as it rested longer in the glass, a nice citrus twist emerged, waxy lemon polish… followed in time by fresh pear and honey
  • Palate – Gorgeous, full and well rounded, delicious.. we had no more words as it just satisfied us fully – full stop.
  • Finish – Beautiful, long and elegant

A classic highland dram. Completely worth the wait! It was an excellent reminder of why we’ve consistently enjoyed whiskies from this distillery over the years.

As for the ladies turn?

Balblair 18 year 46%

  • Nose – Salty citrus – think of salted lime rind – that shifts into sweetness, cereals, loaded with honey, a hint of spice just adds to its allure… as it continued to open in our glass, the honey was joined by orchard fruits – particularly pear and fresh apples
  • Palate – Absolutely superb! The kind of dram that fully satiates, elegant and classy.. While overall it is “sweetness and light” there is also substance, with enough elements to keep it interesting
  • Finish – Long lasting with spice chased by an enjoyable bitterness

Narry a thought of adding a drop of water. We had a wee debate whether this was a spring, summer or autumnal whisky – all that mattered is the more we sipped, the more we enjoyed. Simply put this was a class act.

As one lady quipped “Pure seduction! With this who needs a date?”

What do the folks at Balblair have to say?

This late-night expression is rich and autumnal, developed and amplified to unexpected heights, while staying perfectly balanced and closely tied to the bright and fruity character of the Distillery.

  • Colour – Oiled cedar
  • Aroma – Rich toffee and baked pears shine bright against an elegant backdrop of new leather
  • Palate – A masterful balance of juicy apricots, seasoned oak and vanilla custard
  • Finish – Long and warming with chords of fresh spices and raisins 

Matured initially in American oak ex-bourbon casks, followed by first fill Spanish oak butts, adding depth and charisma.

We opened this bottle in Mumbai in August 2021. When I last checked, you could still find this whisky at duty frees (do people even travel??) such as Le Clos at Dubai for AED 500 / $140.

I must say… I simply felt exceedingly blessed to have fabulous whisky companions and the care taken to chose such a perfect birthday gift!

What other Balblair‘s have we enjoyed?

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Chorlton – Croftengea 13 year 53.9%

So there we were, one fine evening in Paris with two beautiful bottles from Chorlton‘s  La Nouvelle Vague series…  We began with the superb Orkney that surprised us with its lush complex character. We then turned to the Croftnegea…

If you aren’t immediately familiar with Croftnegea, perhaps you have heard for Loch Lomond? Just in this case it is the brand for their heavily peated version… much like Glenturret is also known as Ruadh Maor

It was with this heavy peat expectation that I had thought to try this after the Highland Park “Orkney”. However what we discovered was quite the opposite!

As for the whisky…. read on…

Croftengea 13 years 53.9% 231 bottles

  • Colour – Bright gold
  • Nose – Pear, ripe bananas, caramel, a bit of spice, cough syrup, malty, after the 1st sip, the aromas shifted to a delightful lemon meringue pie, strawberries, subtle spice and honey
  • Palate – Buttery sweet brioche, then citrusy with light peat at the end
  • Finish – Lingers, wonderful
  • Water – Made it even more accessible and very yummy, more fresh sweet bread, lemon curd

There was such a contrast between the aromas and palate, quite dynamic on the nose and subtle yet lovely on the palate.

We set it aside and revisited comparing the glass without water which had become perfumed and sweet, citrus and sugar. The one with the water was fruitier with the peat a bit more pronounced, cinnamon mini donut, Christmas market!

What did David have to say?

Peated single malt from Captain Haddock’s favourite distillery! This one starts on a sweet note, with banana milkshake, Milky Bars and a funky sort of fruitiness on the nose. The palate starts with fudgy chocolate, soft ginger and mango, before the peat makes itself felt with light smoke and a hit of black olive saltiness. This is a hugely fun whisky, and enjoyably weird around the edges.

I purchased this in December 2020 for £62.50 plus tax and courier charges. And I am sooooooo glad I managed to grab this while it was still available!

Here is are two more from La Nouvelle Vague series:

Here is the full set of Chorlton‘s sampled til date from the L’Ancien Régime series:

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Flora and Fauna – Teaninich 10 year 43%

This was my 2nd brush with Teaninich distillery. Just a few months earlier in London I’d sampled a Teaninich 11 year mini from That Boutique-y Whisky Company. I wasn’t massively impressed, but also could appreciate it was but one brief brush.

What did we think of the official bottling?

Teaninich 10 year 43%

  • Nose – Started off fruity – think fresh apricot… which gradually gave way to a sweet sponge cake with vanilla, a bit of lemony citrus, loads of honey… which then shifted further into an orange cinnamon followed by an aroma that was a bit ‘leafy’ or even herbal
  • Palate – Say waaay? It was a complete contrast and the best we could come up with was an oddly ‘petrol’ like burn. Even when it revealed a light spice – mostly cinnamon with some nutmeg – that curious petrol quality remained.
  • Finish – Initially a bit ‘shy’ or limited on the finish, here is where that autumnal leafy moss-like element was most pronounced

While we knew it was already quite ‘diluted’ by some standards, bravely thought to experiment further and try with a few drops of water – just to see what affect it had.

The fruitiness returned with a bit of nutty batter and sweet on the nose, however the palate? Less petrol but became completely nondescript.

Overall we found this whisky curiously imbalanced. Something that perhaps combined would bring an important element to the equation, but on its own? Meh..

We set it aside and carried on tasting the other two. And then returned to see how it fared?

Ignoring the slightly watered down version, the original glass rewarded us with a lovely toffee vanilla, even pineapple, infinitely sweeter and much more enjoyable on the palate than our 1st sampling… even more remarkable – it held up well. And no petrol. Curious.

While the bottle notes indicated something a bit different, I was able to track down these insights from the folks at Diageo…. here’s what they had to say

A well rounded Highland single malt whisky with light salty flavours making a fine apéritif. A crisp, dry and appetising malt that starts fresh and orange-sweet with a long and dry finish.

  • Appearance – Mid gold, almost buttery.
  • Body – Light to medium body, crisp and mouth-cleansing.
  • Nose – The first impression is fresh and citric (oranges and lemons), with a background scent of violets, which rises then falls. It is replaced by concentrated orange juice and old oranges. There are some very light cereal notes (cornflakes?) in the background. The overall impression is clean and appetising. Softens and dulcifies when water is added. Becomes more scented – clover flowers – but still upon a base of orange juice. There is also a whiff of beeswax.
  • Palate – Light and sweetish, but overall dry with pleasant acidity and even a pinch of salt.
  • Finish – Long and dry. The beeswax returns in the aftertaste.

What else did we try that evening from the Flora and Fauna range?

With more to come…

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Additionally, there are the two ‘off-shoots’ with:

Vita Dulcis 4 – Scotland’s The Dalmore 12 year 40%

The Dalmore was the ONLY Scottish whisky in the Vita Dulcis 2020 International Whisk(e)y Advent Calendar… really!

I didn’t mind revisiting one of their core expressions. In this case – the 12 year.

Scotland – The Dalmore 12 year 40%

  • Colour – Golden caramel
  • Nose – Slightly doughy, once the yeasty element settled down, the cherry sherry quality, rum raisins, figs, plum cake,  sweet spices
  • Palate – A spicy bite to warm things up, clear sherry stamp, and is that marmalade? Yup!
  • Finish – Light but lingers, slightly bitter
  • Water? Honestly, didn’t even try

Overall, not a bad dram with a sherry flourish!

What do we know? It spent most of its 12 years maturing in ex-bourbon casks then finished in Oloroso sherry.

Distillery official tasting notes?

  • Nose : Citrus fruits, chocolate and aromatic spices
  • Taste : Seville oranges, dried fruits and hints of vanilla pod
  • Finish : Roasted coffee and dark chocolate

Would I agree? Overall, yes.

Obviously this wasn’t my 1st Dalmore! Here are a few other expressions that made it into tasting notes…

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Chorlton – Blair Athol 12 years 56.6%

Next up in our Chorolton evening was another from the Diageo stable – Blair Athol. Over the years, there haven’t been as many Blair Athol experiences as one would expect… Just the Flora & Fauna official bottling 12 year 43%, and two from independent bottlers – Hunter Laing’s “Old Malt” collection 16 year (1997) 50% and Signatory’s 27 year (1988) 55.7%.

So what did we think of this one from Chorlton?

Blair Athol 12 years 56.6% 268 bottles

  • Nose – Chocolate, prunes, toffee, nutty, ginger bread, marmalade, marmite, pink peppercorn, berries, even a hint of apricot?
  • Palate – Delicious! Ginger snap, spice, toasted almonds, a nice oily fullness, fruity and well rounded, with that marmalade quality on the nose eventually coming through on the palate as well
  • Finish – Carries through the depth, character and sweetness

Amusingly we had quite a divergent opinion on this Blair Athol.

While two of us nattered on about its complexity, character and how with each sip, we enjoyed more and more. Our third lady got none of what we found – none.

A couple hours later? She came back with an exuberant – “I finally got it!!!”

What could account for the difference? Likely several factors – not the least of which is glassware. Usually when we taste together it is with glencairn glasses. In the past, I would bring to our tasting sessions in Mumbai. After my move to Germany, the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai invested in a couple sets which get passed from host to host so that consistency remains. We also were tuning in from our homes – from Scandinavia to Bretagne to Bavaria. Each likely having some lingering aromas of our every day indoor life.

What ever the reason – it was most amusing that, in the end, the Blair Athol came through!

What does David have to say?

A complex, earthy and waxy whisky this, in a very old-fashioned Highlands style. The nose has orange peel, malt extract, herbal pastilles and dark berry fruits. The palate has a long development that starts on honey and ginger beer, becomes more nutty, and ends with orange syrup, Blackjack sweets and a touch of salt. Blair Athol isn’t a big name, but this is a delicious and characterful whisky that rewards your attention.

I purchased this whisky directly from the Chorlton website for £62.50 plus shipping.

Here are the Chorlton‘s sampled with the Blair Athol:

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North Star Series 8 – Glenturret 8 year 58.3%

The last North Star we sampled was from the Highlands – Glenturret to be precise.

I will admit when I selected this bottle, I was hugely influenced by how spectucular the LMdW Artist Glenturret 30 year was! This impression was further re-inforced by a positive experience with a port matured Glenturret 14 year mini.

When I first opened it went – woah!? This was no lucious peach confection. It was peat.  I paused… and then it clicked! I also had this style of Glenturret – better known as Ruadh Mhor – courtesy of a fabulous evening of Chorlton’s whiskies.

In the past, most Glenturret would go into Famous Grouse. You might come across the occasional independent bottles, however in 2018 it was sold to Glenturret Holding – a joint venture between Lalique Group and Swiss entrepreneur Hansjörg Wyss, from 2020 a new range of official bottling are now available.

I went back to filling up our sample bottles to send to Whisky ladies in Europe, intrigued to explore together. And when we did? Here’s what we found…

Glenturret 8 year (Dec 2010 / Mar 2019) Refill Hogshead 58.3% (North Star 008), 1 of 330 bottles. Price Price with shipping/tax £65.49

  • Colour – Golden hay
  • Nose – Well hello peat! Barbecue pringles, salted cashew nuts, cured meats, burnt bacon drizzled in maple syrup, a bit of charcoal wood chips.
  • Palate – Mmmmm maple bacon… baked apples, chocolate… a nice ‘grown up’ complex sweet peat, oily, think caramelized onions and apple sauce with a nice light gingery spice
  • Finish – Long… a subtle smoked bacon tail with a lingering sweetness
  • Water – Initially it seemed to dampen it too much, losing the lovely balance between spice, sweet and peat… however it did add another citrusy element – grapefruit.

While the aromas swirled about with cured smoked meats, the peat was more nuanced on the palate… a kind of civilized rounded peat. Just the kind of maple bacon that is hard to resist!

Talk turned to peat. One of our whisky ladies has a clear peat preference. Whereas I have to admit,  I have veered away from peat of the last few years. Until now. And I realized it is clearly linked to environment. Living in India in perpetual summer is entirely different than a chilly Germany in November! Whereas this kind of sweet smokey dram is perfection on a cold miserable rainy day.

And what does Ian have to say?

  • Nose – Sweet & salted monkey nuts
  • Palate – Fine virginia tobacco
  • Finish – Medicinal, lemon and burnt orange

What else was part of my North Star latest score?

As for other Glenturret experiences? By far the most outstanding was the LMdW, however the Chorlton was also a worthy whisky!

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