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The Malt Vault

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Scotch whisky evolved from a drink known as 'uisge beatha' meaning 'water of life' with the earliest record to be found in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland for 1495 when Friar John Coe is named as the distilled at Lindores Abbey in the Kingdom of Fife. This recounts eight bolls of malt being used by Frair Coe in the previous year, sufficient to produce 1,500 bottles and suggesting that distillation was well established by this time. Production was first taxed in 1644 giving rise to illicit distillation so that by 1780 there were 8 legal distilleries and 400 illegal ones.

Malt whisky is made from a fermented mash produced primarily from a malted grain. Unless indicated it is generally assumed that the primary grain is barley, although whisky is also made using malted rye or other grains. All Scotch whisky must be aged in oak barrels for at least three years and any age statement must reflect the age of the youngest whisky used in that product. In 1823 Parliament ease restrictions on the licensed distilleries with the Excise Act while at the same time making it harder for the illegal ones to operate, thereby ushering in the modern era of Scotch whisky production. Two events helped increase the drinks popularity; firstly the introduction of the column still from 1831which performs the equivalent of multipole distillation steps in a continuous process resulting in a less expensive, less intense and smoother whisky; and secondly, the phylloxera bug which destroyed wine and cognac production in France in 1880.

Three are two basic types of Scotch whisky, from which all blends are made:

Single Malt Scotch Whisky – A Scotch whisky produced from only water and malted barley at a single distillery by batch distillation in a pot still.

Single Grain Scotch Whisky – A Scotch whisky distilled in a single distillery but which in
addition to water and malted barley may include whole grains of other malted or un-malted cereals, i.e., 'single grain' does not mean that only one type of grain was used, rather that it was produced in a single distillery.

For the purposes of whisky classification Scotland was traditionally divided into four regions: The Highlands, Lowland, Islay and Caompletown. However, Speyside, encompassing the Spey river valley in north-east Scotland, and which was originally considered part of the Highlands, has almost half of the total number of distilleries in Scotland (currently around 105) and consequently is now officially recognized as a distinct region.

The Islands is not a recognized region by the Scottish Whisky Association and is considered part of the Highlands, as an unrecognised sub-region it includes all of the whisky producing islands, excluding Islay classed as a distinct region, including Arran, Jura, Mull, Orkney and Skye.

AnCnoc, 12-year-old, 40% alc/vol

Region: Highlands
District: Speyside (Isla/Deveron)
Nose: Soft, very aromatic with a hint of honey and lemon in the foreground
Palate: Medium, good sweetness. Madeira, winter spices, mocha, crème de cacao, herbal hints and toasted granary bread
Finish: Medium length, great interplay between oak and barley
Body: Medium
Cask Type:
Colour: Yellow gold
Measure: 50ml £ 9.00

Ardmore, 15-year-old, 43% alc/vol

Region: Highland
District: Speyside (Bogie)
Nose: Sherry influences with hints of charred oak, dried fruits and a lingering menthol note
Palate: Black pepper initially with apple, plum and dark chocolate flavours. Hints of walnuts and cinnamon develop
Finish: Medium and warming
Body: Medium
Cask Type: Refill sherry cask
Colour: Dark gold
Measure: 50ml £ 10.50

Auchroisk Connoisseurs Choice, 21-year-old, 43% alc/vol

Region: Highland
District: Speyside
Nose: Citrus fruits, some floral aromas and a sweetness
Palate: Fruity with cereal and malty notes
Finish: Clean and drying
Body: Light
Cask Type: Refill American hogshead
Colour: Pale
Measure: 50ml £ 13.25

Balblair, 10-year-old, 43% alc/vol

 
Region: Highlands
District: Northern Highlands
Nose: Fresh and hay like, sweet marshmallow notes, hints of toasted malt and some stewed pear elements
Palate: Mouth warming- with a chilli spice, remains fresh with a defined sweetness. Hints of citrus fruits emerge
Finish: Long
Body: Light
Cask Type: American hogshead
Colour: Pale gold
Measure: 50ml £ 9.25

Benriach, 15-year-old, 46% alc/vol

Region: Highlands
District: Speyside (Lossie)
Nose: Sweet, spicy, citrusy. Oak, fresh fruit
Palate: Esters, eucalyptol freshness, toffee, sherry. Thick mouth feel
Finish: Long, clean, pine and hazelnut
Body:
Cask Type: Madeira finish
Colour: Amber
Measure: 50ml £ 11.50

Benromach, 10-year-old, 43% alc/vol

Region: Highlands
District: Speyside (Findhorn)
Nose: Rich sherry influence with fruit and nut chocolate and delicate spice – cinnamon. Fresh green apples, with a malty, digestive biscuit note and light peat smoke in the background
Palate: Delicious forest fruits – raspberries and brambles, sherry, malt creaminess with a stronger peat influence
Finish: Long and lingering finish with subtle sherry and peat.
Body: Balanced
Cask Type: 80% bourbon barrels, 20% sherry hogsheads. Final year in first fill Oloroso casks
Colour: Golden
Measure: 50ml £ 8.50

Benromach Cask Strength, 11-year-old, 58.2% alc/vol

Region: Highlands
District: Speyside (Findhorn)
Nose: Sweet vanilla, orange and pear and cherry aromas. An underlying peat smoke note is prominent
Palate: Black cracked pepper with sweet strawberry and ripe banana flavours. A creamy milk chocolate and cigar ash edge linger.
Finish: Medium with fruit and peat smoke
Body: Light to medium
Cask Type: 1st fill bourbon barrels
Colour: Pale gold
Measure: 50ml £ 11.50

Bruichladdich Islay Barley, 7-year-old, 46% alc/vol

Region: Islay
District: Loch Indaal
Nose: Classic, distinct, islay aromas. Floral notes of heather, juniper, hawthorn and mountain thyme. Aromas of soft ripe fruit, green apples, melon, pear and pineapple with notes of cinnamon
Palate: Oak and malt. The flavours of the island detonate across the palate
Finish: Long and lingering
Body: Complex
Cask Type:
Colour: Golden hay/ warm honey
Measure: 50ml £ 11.50

Bruichladdich Ancien Regime, 12-year-old, 46% alc/vol

Region: Islay
District: Loch Indaal
Nose: Butterscotch and vanilla. Notes of toffee apple, smoke and cinnamon
Palate: Rich and very complex with oodles of intensely sweet spices, as well as more of those toffee apples, some black pepper and candy floss
Finish: Good length, rich, golden syrup and rum spices
Body:
Cask Type:
Colour: Amber
Measure: 50ml £ 16.00

Bruichladdich Renaissance, 9-year-old, 46% alc/vol

Region: Islay
District: Loch Indaal
Nose: Sweet, spicy, notes of ginger nut biscuit, syrup and rum. Fruity and very rich. Soft cedar and oaks
Palate: Very robust with notes of butterscotch, sweet bourbon spices, vanilla cream, apple peels and candy floss.
Finish: Big finish with notes of custard and ginger
Body:
Cask Type:
Colour: Amber
Measure: 50ml £ 16.00

2001 Caol Ila Dist. Edition Moscatel Sherry, 13-year-old, 43% alc/vol

Region: Islay
District: North Shore
Nose: Wafts of peat smoke, followed by candied orange peel and a subtle nuttiness
Palate: Sweet, malty notes, paired with warm peat that grows and grows. Cinnamon spices from the sherry cask come into play if left to breathe
Finish: Long finish, rich with complex notes from the palate
Body: Medium
Cask Type: Matured in American oak and finished in muscatel wine casks
Colour: Clear gold
Measure: 50ml £ 16.00

English Whiskey Black Label Classic, No Aged Statement, 43% alc/vol

Region: Norfolk
District: Roudham
Nose: Light and smooth, fresh and fragrant, sweet and soft and slightly spicy. Fresh cut grass notes along with gentle vanilla. Fruity hints of lime, banana and pear. A gentle waft of marzipan. Nose softens with water and is quite nutty (hazelnuts, cashews, almonds)
Palate: Tingling and textured on the palate. Fresh wood, vanilla, again fruity and nutty, malty cereal character comes through. Slightly citrus
Finish: Long and full bodied
Body: Full
Cask Type: Matured in oak casks
Colour: Pale
Measure: 50ml £ 8.00

English Whiskey Black Label Peated, No Aged Statement, 43% alc/vol

Region: Norfolk
District: Roudham
Nose: Sweet and creamy with hints of ginger biscuits, aniseed and white pepper. Also vanilla and pear drops along with grappa nose.
Palate: Creamy and clean. Barley at first, then the peat and pepper slowly build and fill every corner of the mouth, without over powering. Ginger biscuits, lemon and lime followed by savoury dry peat and then more tropical fruits (pineapple and mango)
Finish: Sweet, lasting and satisfying.
Body: Full
Cask Type: Matured in bourbon casks
Colour: Pale
Measure: 50ml £ 8.00

Glen Elgin Connoisseurs Choice, 18-year-old, 46% alc/vol

Region: Highlands
District: Speyside
Nose: Hints of sherry wood and a touch of fruits
Palate: Rich, with a delicate spice and charred oak
Finish: Dry
Body: Smooth
Cask Type: Refill sherry cask
Colour: Pale honey
Measure: 50ml £ 11.90

Glenlivet Cask Strength, 18-year-old, 43% alc/vol

Region: Highands
District: Speyside (Livet)
Nose:
Palate: Rich fruity flavours of ripe melons and peaches in syrup. A soft honey sweetness is balanced with smooth floral notes
Finish: Long and effervescent finish
Body:
Cask Type:
Colour: Honey
Measure: 50ml £ 14.50

Glenlossie Connoisseurs Choice, 36-year-old, 46% alc/vol

Region: Highlands
District: Speyside (Lossie)
Nose: Sweet floral aromas. Some spicy notes with a rich, dried fruit element
Palate: Sweet, smoky with a very rich mulled fruits and dark chocolate element. Drying out with sherry oak tones
Finish: Dried fruit slightly smoky.
Body: Rich
Cask Type: Refill sherry hogshead
Colour: Golden
Measure: 50ml £ 12.20

Glentauchers, 23-year-old, 43% alc/vol

Region: Highland
District: Speyside
Nose: Delicate esters- very fresh and fragrant. Fruity influences with a sweet honey edge
Palate: Mouth warming with a delicate hint of spice. Sweet influences of freshly cut grass
Finish: Long and balanced
Body: Light
Cask Type: Refill sherry cask
Colour: Dark straw
Measure: 50ml £ 12.50

Inverleven, 23-year-old, 40% alc/vol

Region: Lowlands
District: Western Lowlands
Nose: Fresh and fragrant, with hints of newly cut grass, some citrus notes linger-lemons/limes
Palate: Warming, with a balanced touch of mixed spices, some hints of young oak
Finish: Lingering
Body: Medium
Cask Type: American hogshead
Colour: Pale gold
Measure: 50ml £ 18.20

Knockando, 12-year-old, 43% alc/vol

Region: Highlands
District: Speyside
Nose: Quite gentle and very fragrant. Notes of waxy manuka honey, hints of malty barley and roots with a touch of stemmy cut hay
Palate: There is a very supple, chewy peat lying quietly in the background. The palate is quite full with notes of heather roots and damp earth, notes of honeyed sweetness with Jamaica ginger cake, a touch of rum with a malty peat
Finish: The finish is quite long with winter spice and crystallized stem ginger with cereal notes
Body: Light and unassertive
Cask Type:
Colour: Honey amber
Measure: 50ml £ 9.20

Ledaig Light, No Aged Statement, 42% alc/vol

Region: Highlands
Island: Mull
Nose: Quite light and well-balanced. There is a certain freshness, pertained from notes of cut hay and straw, barley sugars and herbs, notes of cereals and melted salty butter on granary toast.
Palate: Notes of gentle wood smoke and barley sugars, a farmy note with hints of hay and roots with a touch of cereal sweetness and caramel.
Finish: Long and slightly herbal
Body: Medium-bodied
Cask Type: Oak
Colour: Pale
Measure: 50ml £ 8.50

Loch Lomond, No Aged Statement, 40% alc/vol

Region: Highlands
District: West Highlands
Nose: Quite light with notes of leather and wood shavings and musty old attic with some cereal notes and creaminess
Palate: Quite full with notes of stemmy hay and musty cellar, hints of toasted granary bread with cereal notes, barley sweetness and a biscuit quality
Finish: Long and full of cereal notes
Body: Cotton candy
Cask Type: Oak casks
Colour: Honey amber
Measure: 50ml £ 7.00

Old Pulteney Navigator, No Aged Statement, 46% alc/vol

Region: Highlands
District: Northern Highlands
Nose: Sweet, succulent apple lashings with dollops of chocolate and vanilla
Palate: Drips of honey and syrup-y orange
Finish: A salty finish sneaks up from nowhere, very nice
Body: Full bodied
Cask Type: Mix of ex-sherry and bourbon
Colour: Amber
Measure: 50ml £ 9.90

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Scottish Barley, No Aged Statement, 50% alc/vol

Region: Islay
District: Loch Indaal
Nose: Waves of peat smoke, notes of iodine, salty canvas, crushed sea shells, charred oak staves, black pepper, paprika and leather tobacco pouches. The second wave brings vanilla, figs and dates, marinated pear, freshly milled malt, dark sweet toffee and cracked walnuts
Palate: It is potent, focused and the flavours explode brilliantly onto the palate. Full of depth and complexity, the smokey sweetness of the barley contrasts beautifully with the marine freshness of the spirit and the richness of toffee and vanilla. There is a citrus twist and notes of mellow oak
Finish: Long and warming
Body: Complex
Cask Type: Matured in multi-vintage bourbon casks of three different ages.
Colour: Amber
Measure: 50ml £ 11.50

Royal Brackla Connoisseurs Choice, 16-year-old, 46% alc/vol

Region: Highlands
Island: Arran
District: Speyside (Findhorn Valley)
Nose: Aromas of sweet vanilla and tropical fruits
Palate: Initially green apple and milk chocolate flavours with hints of pineapple, banana and mango with notes of black pepper
Finish: Medium in length
Body: Light to medium
Cask Type: Refill bourbon barrels
Colour: Amber
Measure: 50ml £ 11.50

Speyburn Connoisseurs Choice, 25-year-old, 46% alc/vol

Region: Highlands
District: Speyside (Rothers)
Nose: Fresh and sweet with hints of pineapple and honey
Palate: Peppery initially with banana, aniseed and milk chocolate flavours developing
Finish: Medium
Body: Light
Cask Type: Refill sherry hogshead
Colour: Dark straw
Measure: 50ml £ 11.00

Springbank, 18-year-old, 46% alc/vol

Region: Campbeltown
District: Argyll
Nose: Berry fruits, toasted banana, caramel, cocoa, peppery, fruity, coastal, quite oily
Palate: Big, spicy and gutsy with notes of pepper, chilli, pine, aniseed, rich fruits and oily
Finish: Long, salty, chocolaty with hints of fruit
Body: Complex
Cask Type: 80% matured in sherry cask, 20% in bourbon barrels
Colour: Coppery gold
Measure: 50ml £ 10.50

Strathmill Connoisseurs Choice, 15-year-old, 46% alc/vol

Region: Highlands
District: Speyside (Strathisla)
Nose: Initially a note of freshly cut grass and cedar wood. Light and floral
Palate: Sweet and creamy- marshmallows. A hint of pineapple and mild spiciness- pepper
Finish: Long
Body: Light
Cask Type: Refill bourbon barrels
Colour: Dark gold
Measure: 50ml £ 11.20

1975 The Old Malt Cask Strathmill, 36-year-old, 44.1% alc/vol

Region: Highlands
District: Speyside (Strathisla)
Nose: Fragrant with a flowery and honeyed style and a creamy sweet quality
Palate: Fresh and mellow, delicately spiced carrying a fruit tang character
Finish: Remains light, attractively sweet. Now with a cedar wood style
Body:
Cask Type: Refill Hogshead
Colour: Dark amber
Measure: 50ml £ 37.50

Talisker Storm, No Aged Statement, 45.8% alc/vol

Region: Highlands
District: Northern Highlands
Island: Skye
Nose: Spicy, mellow smoke and a honeyed sweet maltiness with an explosion of pepper
Palate: At first sweetly mellow and rich followed quickly by a spicy heat, like a gathering storm. The flavour is elegantly drawn out with a balance of sweetness, smoke and salt
Finish: Clean, warming, with a lasting aftertaste
Body: Medium
Cask Type: Rejuvenated and refill oak casks
Colour: Honey amber
Measure: 50ml £ 10.50

Tobermory, 10-year-old, 46.3% alc/vol

Region: Highlands
Island: Mull
Nose: Quite light and fresh. Notes of barley sugars and toasted cereals, hints of winter spice and a soft oak with notes of salty melted butter and ground ginger
Palate: Quite sweet and light. There are notes of acacia honey and soft oak, the smoke and peppers thereof rise gently with a touch of dried fruit and peel with a cinnamon note.
Finish: Long and herbal with a touch of pepper
Body: Very light
Cask Type: Matured in a combination of bourbon and sherry casks
Colour: Pale Gold
Measure: 50ml £ 9.50

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