The earliest evidence of alcohol distillation was found in Italy dating back to the 13th century. At that time the technique of distilling alcohol from wine spread rapidly through the medieval monasteries that mainly used the alcohol for medical purposes (hence its name aqua vitae or “water of life”). Supposedly aqua vitae reached Scotland through Ireland but instead of using grapes – a scarce commodity on the islands – they used barley beer. This gave birth to whisky which was at its infancy a brutal spirit in that it was neither diluted nor allowed to age.

After the introduction of tax on the production of whisky in 1644 the amount of legal distilleries started to decline. Taxes continued to rise throughout the years especially after the merging of England and Scotland in 1707. In 1780 only eight legal distilleries was left while 400 existed underground. This illegal production of whisky mostly occurred at night in order to hide the smoke rising from the stills, hence the name “moonshine”. In order to eliminate the large scale production of moonshine UK passed the Excise Act in 1823 which legalized distillation for a small fee. The success of whisky has been ever increasing since and is now accounting for almost 25% of all food and drink exports from the UK.

1. #13 hit – REDBREAST 12yo
  ON THE PALATE: Pine needles, Vanilla, Citrus fruits.

VERDICT: In regards to Irish whiskeys this is definitely the breast..I mean the BEST! It is hard to put an exact finger on the flavors in this very creamy and unique whiskey but I can guarantee you that if you like Irish Whiskey you will most likely love this one!

 2. #51 hit – LAPHROAIG Quater Cask
 laphroaig_quartar_300 ON THE PALATE: Medicinal, Bonfire, Oak.

VERDICT: Definitely one of my favorite Islays. What I like the most about Laphroaig Quarter Cask is its ability to be both exceptionally smooth and creamy while delivering an overdose of smoke and peat. The only thing preventing it from reaching my number one is the medicinal notes and the mouldy finish.

 3. #77 hit – BUSHMILLS 16yo
 Bushmills_16_yo ON THE PALATE: Black Current, Hazelnut, Peach.

VERDICT: Not many whiskeys can boast about being matured in three different casks. The end result is a very unique whiskey with a myriad of flavors were you get the best from both worlds. The Bushmills 16yo does not get the attention it deserves in my opinion and I can highly recommend it.

 4. #18 hit – ARDBEG Uigeadail
 Ardbeg_Uigeadail_4bf0b66477f34 ON THE PALATE: Smoke, Dark Chocolate, Spices.

VERDICT: In its essence Uigeadail is a very complex whisky and one of the most intense I’ve come across. I especially appreciate the way it combines maritime spicy flavors with more sweet notes of black forest honey and chocolate. Highly recommendable.

 5. #40 hit – BOWMORE 1992 bordeaux cask 16yo
 bowmore_16_years_wine_cask_1992 ON THE PALATE: Floral Notes, Seasalt, Pepper.

VERDICT: This Bowmore has not been FWP’ed and gives you a unique experience with its combination of maritime notes and red fruits. It packs a punch with its 53,3% abv. yes, but not enough to justify adding water in my opinion. All in all a good Islay dram.

 6. #11 hit – ARDBERG 10yo
  ON THE PALATE: Smokebomb, Sea Salt, Grassy Notes.

VERDICT: There isn’t anything not to love about this whisky. The finish may be a bit too short but I don’t think this ruins the experience. Is it the most complex dram in the world? I think this is hard to say, especially considering that I have a long way to go before I’ve tasted all the whiskies out there! At this point I will leave this question to the experts.

7. #66 hit – LAPHROAIG 10yo
 laphroaig10yo ON THE PALATE: Tar, Peat , Caramel.

VERDICT: I really like the way it enters all sweet and caramel like before it hits you from behind with tarmac and burned rubber. There is good complexity, softness, and sweetness in this very accomplished Islay single malt.

 8. #12 hit – JAMESON 12yo
  ON THE PALATE: Fresh Pines, Vanilla , Sherry.

VERDICT: There is a huge leap between the regular Jameson and the 12 yo edition if you ask me. Having been matured in Sherry and Bourbon casks for at least 12 years the taste has softened a bit and I can easily say that this is one of the mellowest, creamiest and most delicious whiskeys I have tasted.

9. #67 hit – GLENFARCLAS 12yo
glenfarclas 12yo ON THE PALATE: Heather, Moss, Oak.

VERDICT: I like the mossy and organic taste. I like the fact that it is thick and creamy. Actually I like everything about this whisky. It is currently my nr.1 Speyside and I highly recommend it to people who want to taste something different.

 10. #74 hit – GLENFARCLAS 105 Cask Strength
 Glenfarclas 105 ON THE PALATE: Sherry, Spices , Black fruits.

VERDICT: This is definitely the smoothest Cask Strength whisky I have tasted and also one of the few that do not improve when adding water. Sherry is the keyword here, loads of it. I can warmly recommend this Speyside if you are searching for a combination of high alcohol content, sweetness, and loads of sherry.

 11. #76 hit – GREEN SPOT
 GreenSpot ON THE PALATE: Barley, Green Grass, Citrus Fruits.

VERDICT: You want to try this SPS whiskey if you are ready to try something completely different to what you are used to. It cannot be compared to Redbreast or anything else I have tried but is very good nonetheless. Price is also reasonable around 60-70$.

 12. #39 hit – HIGHLAND PARK 18yo
 highland18 ON THE PALATE: Oak, Vanilla , Citrus.

VERDICT: Good balance between oak and sweet notes like vanilla and butterscotch. Its age also makes this Highland dram silky smooth which also makes it much more attractive than its younger brothers.

 13. #36 hit – GLENLIVET 15yo
  ON THE PALATE: Dried Fruits, Vanilla , Butterscotch.

VERDICT: This whisky really took me by surprise. I guess I was expecting something like its 12 years counterpart but it taste nothing like it. While it is filled with dried fruits, especially citrus fruits, it also delivers notes of subtle spices, vanilla and butterscotch. Definitely one of my favorite Speysides.

14. #32 hit – CHIVAS REGAL Royal Salute 21yo
  ON THE PALATE: Floral, Spices , Buttescotch.

VERDICT: Supposedly this is one of the finest blended Scotch Whiskys in the world. Personally I’d say this is a stretch. However I must admit I like it, certainly more than most other blends. Still it feels a bit overpriced.

15. #59 hit – CAOL ILA 12yo
 Caol Ila 12 ON THE PALATE: Mild Peat, Fresh Dirt, Apricots.

VERDICT: One glass quickly became two and before I knew it I had had five drinks. This pretty much says it all. It is very approachable and you don’t really get tired of it. Well not after 5 glasses anyways. I like the way the peat is balanced with notes of dried fruit, something that makes this whisky a great beginner-Islay.

16. #60 hit – OBAN 14yo
 oban-14-year ON THE PALATE: Salty, Saccharine, Toffee.

VERDICT: Exceptionally smooth! This is how I would describe Oban in two words. On top of the smoothness you have a very good balance between caramel and salty sea notes. Highly recommendable.

17. #10 hit – CONNEMARA
ON THE PALATE: Peat, Toffee, Nuts.

VERDICT: Even though peat is native to Ireland Connemara is, to my knowledge, the only peated whiskey from the Island. However comparing this whiskey to its brothers around 200 miles away, I would say this is surprisingly good (especially considering its age, a blend of 4, 6, and 8yrs old whiskeys.

18. #9 hit – ABERLOUR A’bunadh 
 Abunadh ON THE PALATE: Spices, Sherry, Oak.

VERDICT: Powerful not only in alcohol but also in taste. It is without a question one of the most complex drams I have tasted but at the same time it is not for the weak hearted (unless you pour a good amount of water in your glass).

 19. #38 hit – ILEACH
 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA ON THE PALATE: Ashes, maritime, peppery.

VERDICT: I was surprised how good this whisky actually was considering its age and low price. Ileach means “the man from Islay” and also delivers the characteristic coastal notes that the Island is so famous for. A solid Islay whisky worth checking out.

 20. #57 hit – BENROMACH Peat Smoke
Benromach_peat_smoke ON THE PALATE: Liquorices, Peat, Honey.

VERDICT: There are especially three things about this Speyside worth mentioning. 1) The texture is very round and creamy. 2) The combination of the sweet and the smoke works very well. 3) At an age below 12 years I would have expected a much bigger alcohol punch.

 21. #19 hit – BIG PEAT
  ON THE PALATE: Peat, Peat, Peat.

VERDICT: This blended Islay malt will get 5 stars just for the innovative bottle design. It was the first peated whisky I ever tried and I immediately fell in love. After opening the bottle you know what you are in for; Peated Mayhem!!

 22. #20 hit – BALLANTINES 17yo
 349851_1000x1000 ON THE PALATE: Spices, Butterscotch, Honey.

VERDICT: Perfectly viscous with nice contributions of both butterscotch and peppery spices. A great whisky that rises above most other blends out there.

 23. #58 hit – BENROMACH Organic Special Edition
 Benromach-organic ON THE PALATE: Dried Fruits, Oak, Vanilla.

VERDICT: It should be mentioned that there is a high possibility that the reason to why I love this dram is because of my addiction to bourbons. When that is said I really like the way it combines the sweetness with oak and a touch of smoke. On top of this it is soooo smooth and creamy. If I am ever so lucky to find this in a shop again I will not hesitate a second to buy it.

 24. #65 – TOMINTOUL Peaty Tang
 Tomintoul Peaty Tang ON THE PALATE: Bonfire, Seaweed, Peat.

VERDICT:  Tomintoul Peaty Tang is a great entry into the world of peaty smoky whiskies and at its price definitely recommendable. Pros: easy to drink, peaty, and the nose is amazing. Cons: a bit watery, very short finish, one dimensional.

 25. #25 – ISLE OF JURA Superstition
  ON THE PALATE: Earthy, Smoke, Caramel.

VERDICT:  I can’t help comparing Superstition to other peaty single malts. When I do it falls short. Not because it is bad in any way, I’ve just grown accustomed to Islay smokebombs I guess. When that is said I do think this is a very good entrance to peaty single malt and it certainly lives up to its slogan: Subtly sweet yet smoky.

 26. #41 hit – MACKMYRA Brukswhisky
 Mackmyra ON THE PALATE: Floral, Citrus, Apples.

VERDICT: Did they succeed? I would say yes with minor objections. I like the myriad of floral and fruity notes. This is something I have not experienced in many other whiskies. On the negative side it is very light bodied, almost watery, and does pack somewhat of a punch.

 27. #37 hit – HIGHLAND PARK 16yo
 highlandPark16Yr400x400 ON THE PALATE: Light Peat, fruity, Dirt.VERDICT: Withdrawn in April 2010. It is significantly smoother and more enjoyable than the 12 year old Highland Park but still nothing spectacular.

 28. #3 hit – BOWMORE 12yo
  ON THE PALATE: Salt, Seaweed, Sherry.

VERDICT: A good Islay that stands its ground with a sunami of maritime flavors. Despite its lack of complexity and smoothness I have a sweet spot for this dram, maybe primarily because it has been with me for so long.

 29. #63 hit – CLYNELISH 14yo
 clynelish14 ON THE PALATE: Oak, Peas, Vanilla.
VERDICT: Very creamy, very gentle. A good Higland whisky without too much complexity.

 30. #61 hit – TALISKER 12yo
 talisker_10 ON THE PALATE: Pepper, Salt, Lemon.

VERDICT:  Definitely interesting if you are into whiskies that are peppery, salty, and very malty. As this is not the case for me I am not currently a fan. Maybe I should give the 18 year old a go!

 31. #6 hit – BALVENIE 12yo Doublewood
  ON THE PALATE: Sherry, Citrus, Oak.

VERDICT:  A rewarding single malt of you are into whiskies with good balance between oak and sweetness. Personally I find it lacks texture and packs a punch compared to many other 12 year old whiskies and I am not that keen about the taste. But hey, I am not a big Highland fan so I would not be discouraged if this is your favorite scotch region!

 32. #68 hit – BENROMACH 10yo
 benromach 10yo ON THE PALATE: Citrus, Pepper, Caramel.

VERDICT: A good traditional Speyside.

 33. #1 hit – DALWHINNIE 15yo
 Dalwhinnie-15-year-Old-Malt ON THE PALATE: Honey, Sweet Fruits, Oak.

VERDICT: A moderately good dram that would satisfy people preferring more sweet whiskies. Woody notes also appear together with a tingy bite on the finish.

 34. #2 hit – HIGHLAND PARK 12yo
 Highland Park 12yrs ON THE PALATE: Dried Fruit, Oak, Minor Smoke.

VERDICT: Whenever I need a simple whisky that does not try to be something it is not I go for a 12 year old Highland Park. Not extraordinary in any way but sinks downs easily without any big effort.

 35. #62 hit – NIKKA YOICHI 10yo
 NIKKA YOICHI 10yo ON THE PALATE: Oak, Dried Fruits, Spices.

VERDICT: Not particularly bad but not exceptional in any way either.

 36. #69 hit – GLEN GARIOCH 1797 Founder’s Reserve
 glen-garioch-1797-founders-reserve ON THE PALATE: White Pepper, Citrus, Heather.

VERDICT: Altogether a bit dull and one dimensional! As there is not much complexity in this dram it is a shame to see so high concentration of white pepper. Together with the alcoholic punch It really deafens any notes of fruit and sweetness that might be present.

 37. #5 hit – AUCHENTOSHAN 12yo
 Auchentoshan 12 ON THE PALATE: Wood…

VERDICT: I don’t really have much to say about this whisky. It is drinkable and runs down easily but lacks character altogether. In my opinion a slightly below average dram.

 38. #4 – CHIVAS REGAL 12yo
 Chivasregal ON THE PALATE: No Comment



2 responses to “Whisky

  1. I totally agree! The 16 yo Lagavulin is a real gem and definitely in my top 5 favorite single malt whiskies. I’ve run out and have been planning to buy a new bottle for some time now. There is a Destillers Edition of this one where it matures in old Pedro Ximenes sherry casks before being bottled. I might just grab this one instead…

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