Paris Whisky Live – Fettercairn 18 + 22 years

Next in our Paris Whisky Live wanderings was a rather rewarding stop at the Fettercairn booth. So what did we think of our Fettercairn 16, 18, and 22 year vintages?

Fettercairn 18 year 46.8% 700 bottles, to launch “soon” ie post Sept 2022 (approx Eur 200)

  • Nose – Soft, nuanced, fruity, vanilla, puff pastry, some coffee?
  • Palate – Nice, spicy, nutty, chocolate raspberry, black cherry, sweet spices, apple strudel
  • Finish – Follows through…

When we tasted this in September 2022, our guide shared that it was about to be released. It is matured with a combination of 1st fill and refill ex-bourbon American white oak casks and finished in Scottish oak casks.

Fettercairn 22 year 47% (approx Eur 233)

  • Nose – A beautiful burst of tropical fruits, citrus, raisins
  • Palate – Spicy, full-flavoured, fruity and fab
  • Finish – Quite unusual and distinct – I struggled to put my finger (aka “nose”) on it – there was liquorice and marmalade, and something else that I never was able to properly identify

What more do we know? It is from first-fill ex-bourbon casks with no other finishes.

As for the 16 year? I decided to combine my tasting notes from Paris with those from London which you can check out here! Same with our sniff and swish of Warehouse No. 2.

Curious about other Fettercairn expressions? Read on….

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Paris Whisky Live – Gordon + Macphail Discovery Tomatin, Miltonduff+ Caol Ila

In early 2021, I decided to start acquiring some bottles for future tasting sessions and thought it was past time to pick up a few of Gordon & Macphail’s Discovery range of affordable “entry” drams. I picked a Glenrothes & Miltonduff. They have waited patiently in Germany for the right opportunity – either to taste with others there or bring home to India.

However, naturally, I’ve been rather curious and so was happy to have a chance to try one of them at Paris Whisky Live! On my 2nd day, we whetted our tasting appetite with a few French drams then made our way to the Gordon & Macphail stand and kicked off our explorations with this trio…

As shared with the London Whisky Show, the Discovery line was created for a place to begin your discovery of whisky at a reasonable price point, with colour-coded expressions to help guide the approach… In Paris we tried:

  • Green for ex-bourbon casks – Tomatin (2009/2021) 43% (approx Eur 44)
  • Purple for ex-sherry casks – Miltonduff 10 year 43% (approx Eur 55)
  • Grey/off-white for smokey/peaty – Caol Ila 13 year 43% (approx Eur 55)

We followed the suggested order: ex-bourbon, ex-sherry and then peaty….

Tomatin (2009/2021) 43%

  • Nose – Light and classic ex-bourbon style, fresh green apple, pears, vanilla cream
  • Palate – Keeps on the same light, fruity and happy vein, oaky, more vanilla
  • Finish – Gentle – fruity, floral, honey

A rather nice example of ex-bourbon…. call it a perfect aperitif.

What about the sherry expression? We sampled the Miltonduff 10 year 43%

  • Nose – Fruity, orange, woodsy, citrus
  • Palate – Medium-bodied, tasty buttery caramel, marmalade, cinnamon
  • Finish – More of that yummy marmalade

A nice Speyside and I will very much enjoy revisiting it and discovering more when eventually the Gordon & Macphail Discovery range is opened up at home!

Curious to know more? Check out what Gordon & Macphail have to say here.

As for the peaty, they chose a classic Caol Ila 13 year 43%:

  • Nose – Fab peat, banana, sweet grass, maple bacon, cured sweetmeats
  • Palate – Soft, completely peaty, fruity
  • Finish – Long sweet and smoky

Now, this is a “proper” Caol Ila – what fun! You can also find out more about this expression from Gordon & Macphail’s whisky archive here.

What a nice way to whet our appetite for Gordon & Macphail’s Connoisseurs Choice range – which was our next stop!

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Paris Whisky Live 2022 – VIP Antipodes Caperdonich, Mortlach + Glenfarclas

Paris Whisky Live was chock full of a dizzying array of offerings – particularly in the VIP section. With such crowds too, it sometimes was a bit of a “get what you can, when you can!” type scenario.

With the Caperdonic & Mortlach, my scant tasting notes didn’t even capture which “Antipode” they were featured… just the photos let on that both were in the 20 year range…

Dubbed “Glen Grant 2”, Caperdonich was founded by J & J Grant around 18978 next to the main Glen Grant distillery. Shut only a few years later in 1902, it was primarily used to supply parts to its sibling across the road. That all changed in 1965 when it was rebuilt by Glenlivet, updating its name to Caperdonic, and resuming production. Changing hands a few times, it stopped production in 2002 and then was demolished just 10 years later.  You can read more here.

So what about this particular cask, bottled by Signatory for La Maison du Whisky?

Caperdonic 22 year (6 July 2000 / 5 Aug 2022) Hogshead Cask #29480 57.6%

  • Colour – Copper
  • Nose – Quite shy initially, then increasingly fruity
  • Palate – Interesting spice, a touch nutty
  • Finish – Gently faded away

A good example of the fruity, nutty character Caperdonich is known for… what a treat.


I then moved on to another exclusive La Maison du Whisky bottling – this time for their “Chapter VII” series…

Mortlach (2012/2022) 58.1%

  • Colour – Brilliant ruby
  • Nose – Sherry and ” boom!” intense and unmistakable sherry aromas
  • Palate – Again – dark rich and heavy sherry influences, veering into rum raisins
  • Finish – Continued in the same vein

What a sherry bomb! Heavy and showing every bit of its age – in a good way!

Like all experiences at a whisky festival, this was just a quick “sniff” and “swish” so please treat these tasting notes as superficial impressions! More of a starting point than a well-informed review.


Glenfarclas 10 year “Family Cask” (17 May 2012 / 20 May 2022) Sherry Hogshead #2504 60.9% (LMdW) 300 Bottles

I hope I can be forgiven for just a few scribbles for this next whisky – from the reliable Glenfarclas family stable – my notes literally state only:

Classic sherry nose, nice spicy sherry on the palate – lively and bursting with character.

Check out more interesting experiences from Whisky Live Paris here.

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Paris Whisky Live 2022 – Valinch + Mallet

What fun! Another independent bottler! This time via friends from Italy – Davide Romano and Fabio Ermoli – who founded Valinch & Mallet in 2015. I was tipped off that these guys were a “must-visit” at Paris Whisky Live 2022‘s VIP section… and while I only sampled two whiskies would certainly take more time to explore more the next opportunity!

I asked Fabio for guidance – something classic and unpeated…. he immediately knew to direct my attention to the Linkwood and Knockdu / anCnoc. What did I find with a light sniff and swish?

Linkwood 11 year (2010/2022) Sherry Cask #134 53.4% (Valinch + Mallet) 550 Bottles

  • Colour – Glowing amber
  • Nose – Remarkably heavy nose, wood
  • Palate – Burst of flowers, then juicy fruits, heavy and spicy hot
  • Finish – Sweet and sustained

This was no light, sprightly stroll in the park, it was a full-flavoured fruity, floral frolic in a hot summer garden. Nothing shy or subdued, just sheer summery exuberance bursting from the glass.

Knockdhu 9 year (2012/2022) 52.6% Bourbon Hogshead Cask #71537 (Valinch + Mallet) 376 Bottles

  • Colour – Light gold
  • Nose – Very fruit-forward, light, honey sweet
  • Palate – Fruity and fab! Balanced
  • Finish – Lovely and lingering

While young, it was fruity and joyful, a great reminder of how much I have enjoyed anCnoc whiskies over the years.

I enjoyed my wee sample and think it is well worth keeping an eye on these folks!

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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 – 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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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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London Whisky Show – Colourful Watt Whiskies

Back in June, I caught in Cape Town, South Africa a rather unpleasant version of COVID. It not only knocked me flat for weeks, it also robbed me of my olfactory senses – a complete disaster for a whisky aficionado!

I’ve often described the experience as akin to seeing only in shades of grey instead of a burst of brilliant rainbow colours. Gradually over the months, some sense of smell has returned but it remains muted compared to the previous clarity – where I could usually easily discern distinct elements, today it can be trickier and I often know there is something more a layer deeper that I just can’t quite penetrate or surface enough to describe. Frustrating indeed… but I’m at least grateful some sense has returned!

This brings me back to colours – in a recent impromptu tasting in Germany, I shared that when first exploring different types of whiskies, one idea is to consider what colour one would associate with that particular whisky profile? This is a great technique to start processing more creative impressions – Does it remind you of a hot and fiery red? A verdant cool green? Or more seaside in style, bringing hints of blue to the fore? What about sunshine yellow?

I’ve seen some “colour coding” before – most recently Gordon & Macphail’s discovery series uses green for ex-bourbon casks, purple for ex-sherry, and grey for peaty drams. However what if the colour wasn’t according to such strict logic?

Enter Watt Whisky – a new independent bottler started by a husband / wife duo Mark and Kate Watt in Campbeltown. As Kate shared, they both came from the industry and decided to set-up their own range with a view to bringing interesting affordable whiskies to the world. The colour approach comes from her husband’s synaesthesia, where he literally smells colours!

We were tipped off that the Paul John was worth checking out, so this was the 1st we sampled.

Intrigued by Kate’s story of how they began their independent bottler journey in challenging times (2019 then….COVID!) with this being their 1st big whisky event, we continued on to the Dunbarton 21 year followed by the Belair Athol 13 year.

We were highly tempted to continue, however, this was getting into the later stage of our whisky wanderings where you know you need to become highly selected else every impression will simply blur together, losing its magic of discovery!

Well worth exploring more another time… enjoy our quick impressions from a small sniff, swish tasting at The Whisky Show London 2022!

Paul John 4 year (2016 / June 2021) 57.1% (Watt Whisky) 1 of 279 bottles

  • Nose – So incredibly tropical – taking the normal PJ tropical fruits and ramping them up several degrees
  • Palate – Intense spice, a bit of a flavour bomb, tropical fruit bowl, chocolate
  • Finish – Ahh… there is that spice shifting into bitter
  • Water – Yes, please!

It was great trying Paul John‘s character as selected by Kate & Mark Watt. What do they have to say:

Fully matured in an underground warehouse in Goa. Tropical fruits, spices, cloves & plums.

We shifted from India back to Scotland with a discontinued Lowland distillery – Dumbarton is a Lowland grain distillery, which also housed Inverleven and Lomond malt distilleries. Previously used primarily in Ballentine’s blends, the distillery closed in 2002 and is now demolished.

Dumbarton 21 year (2000 / June 2022) 57.1% (Watt Whisky) 222 bottles

    • Nose – It started off quietly, gently unfurling, caramel, light smoke
    • Palate – Clearly a grain, what was a light peat influence on the nose became a full-fledged smoke bomb…. frankly more like sipping an ashtray
    • Finish – Closed on more smoke

Wow! I don’t know what exactly I expected. One normally thinks of Lowland grains as being either gentle or harsh alcohol. I think this may be the 1st that I’ve tried which was finished in an ex-Caol Ila Hogshead,

What do the Watt Whisky folks have to say:

Finished for 9 months in an ex-Islay cask. Light, dry smoke, butterscotch, syrupy, ashy and medicinal.

We then moved on to the Highlands with the Blair Athol 13 year (2008 / Sep 2022) 56.7% (Watt Whisky) 301 bottles.

    • Nose – Nice! Extra berry, jammy
    • Palate – Well rounded
    • Finish – Dry and peppery

What a brilliant contrast to Dumbarton! Kate shared it was matured in a Hogshead and then finished in an ex-Red wine cask.

What do the Watt Whisky folks have to say:

Rested in a red wine barrique for 16 months. Strawberries, jelly sweets and cured meats.

This pair – Dumbarton and Blair Athol – had the same coloured labels and yet could not be more different in character! Fascinating.

What fun being introduced to another interesting independent bottler. Wishing Kate & Mark the very best with their venture!

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