The Tasty Drams of 2015

2015 is drawing near an end and it's about time to start my list of absolutely fabulous whisky discoveries of the year.

It has been a rather busy year. During the calm summer months I migrated the dutch blog from the Tumblr platform to the Blogger environment I already used for the english blog. Both blogs also use the same layout now. This should save me some work so I can focus more on the whisky itself.

This year also brought some very good news for our family. Next year we (I and mrs. C) will be welcoming our first wee little one. The bad news is that my whisky budget will plummet to something very close to... nil.

Anyway here's the tasty list of drams I enjoyed the most!

Blended Malts: Scallywag Cask Strength

  • Douglas Laing
  • NAS blended Speyside malt
  • 53.6 % ABV
  • 6000 bottles
Scallywag Cask Strength

Tasting notes

Colour: Golden dark amber.
Nose: Coffee, balsamico, cherries, oranges, ginger bread.
Taste: Cherry wood, chocolate, dried fruits, baking spices.
Finish: Warm tobacco, chocolate.

Read the full review of Scallywag Cask Strength

Runners-up: Mark Dermul's Frankendram and Douglas Laing's Yula

Single Malt NAS: Ardbeg Auriverdes

  • Ardbeg Distillery, Port Ellen
  • NAS
  • 49.9% ABV
Ardbeg Auriverdes (Feis Ile 2014)

Tasting notes

Colour: A golden hue.
Nose: Coffee beans, vanilla, toasted bread, pickles, smokiness.
Taste: Green peppers, creamy coffee, crispy wood, grapefruit.
Finish: Bread, milk, white chocolate, coffee.

Read the full review of Ardbeg's Auriverdes

Runners-up: None. This was the only NAS single malt I reviewed this year. Maybe I'll do better next year.

Single Malt Lowlands: The Whisky Mercenary Littlemill 1992

  • Littlemill Distillery (Closed & Demolished)
  • 21 year old single malt
  • 52.9 % ABV
  • Distilled in 1992 - bottled in 2014
  • Ex-bourbon cask
The Whisky Mercenary Littlemill 1992

Tasting notes

Colour: Pale straw yellow with slow legs.
Nose: Grass, vanilla and young white grapes. Scented candles and peach sherbet.
Taste: Freshly cut grass and vanilla. Creamy lemon tart, oak and grapes.
Finish: Slightly dry, citrus, dried banana.

Read the full review of The Whisky Mercenary's Littlemill 1991

Runner-up: Malts of Scotland Bladnoch 1991

Single Malt Speyside: Benromach 10 year old 100° proof

  • Benromach Distillery, Forres
  • 10 year old single malt
  • 57 % ABV
Benromach 10 year old 100° proof

Tasting notes

Colour: Deep copper in colour.
Nose: Burned and smoky caramel, vanilla pods and toasted wood. Dirty Bunna sherry.
Taste: Sweet chili, ginger and tamarind. Gingerbread and a puff of smoke.
Finish: Candied oranges and dark chocolate with raisins.

Read the full review of Benromach 10 - 100° proof

Runners-up: Berry Bros. & Rudd Benriach 1996 and Craigellachie 21 - Craigellachie Hotel exclusive

Single Malt Highlands: Tomatin Cuatro Manzanilla 

  • Tomatin Distillery
  • 12 year old single malt
  • 46 % ABV
  • Distilled 15 January 2001 - bottled 20 August 2014
  • Manzanilla sherry finish | 1500 bottles
Tomatin Cuatro Manzanilla finish 12yo

Tasting notes

Colour: A golden whisky that leaves oily traces.
Nose: Nuts, eucalyptus and condensed milk. Lots of fruity notes and salted nuts.
Taste: Sweet and spicy. Pepper and peppermint. Cinnamon, tobacco and dried fruits.
Finish: Wallnuts, pepper and ground spices.

Read the full review of Tomatin's Cuatro Manzanilla

Runners-up: Chapter 7 Ben Nevis 1996 and SMWS 66.51 Hospitals on Guy Fawkes Night

Single malt Islands: Highland Park Thor

  • Highland Park Distillery, Kirkwall
  • 16 year old single malt
  • 52.1 % ABV
  • 23.000 bottles
Highland Park Thor - Walhalla series

Tasting notes

Colour: Recently brushed copper.
Nose: Caramelised brown sugar, refined smokiness and maritime influences.
Taste: Sweet cinnamon and HP smoky flavours. Swiss raisin pastry and violet candy.
Finish: A warming finish and slightly spicy.

Read the full review of Highland Park's Thor

Runners-up: SMWS 31.28 Going nuts in a rugby club changing room and Chapter 7 Arran 1996

Single Malt Islay: Old Particular Laphroaig 14 (Feis Ile bottling)

  • Laphroaig Distillery, Port Ellen
  • 14 year old
  • 48.4% ABV
  • Distilled in February 2001, bottled in February 2015
  • Refill sherry butt DL 10694 | 636 bottles
Douglas Laing Old Particular Laphroaig 14 (Feis Ile 2015 release)

Tasting notes

Colour: Golden barley hue.
Nose: Signature Laphroaig peat and tar. Mashed raspberries and soft haribo bears.
Taste: Toasted wood and bandages. Red fruit, seaweed and earthy peat.
Finish: Salty lemons, smoke and eucalytpus.

Read the full review of Douglas Laing's Feis Ile 14 year old Laphroaig

Runners-up: Kilchoman 100% Islay 4th edition and Murray McDavid 1978 Bunnahabhain

Spiritual discovery: Marca Negra Espadin Mezcal

In 2015 I learned to appreciate those smoky mezcal's. After reading a few mouthwatering reviews, buying the book Distilled from Neil Ridley and Joel Harrison and a quick shout on Twitter, I split a bottle of Marca Negra Espadin with Sjoerd from Malt Fascination. It took me a dram or two to get the knack of it but.... there are some bloody good malternatives (sorry Serge) out there. 
  • Espadin Mezcal Marca Negra 
  • Marca Negra
  • White spirit
  • 51.3 % ABV
  • Batch MJ18-14 | Bottle 911/1500
Mezcal Marca Negra Espadin agave

Tasting notes

Colour: A white spirit with an oily touch.
Nose: Fresh herbs, sweet sour notes, vanilla, wet peppercorns and wood glue.
Taste: A peppery syrup, smoke, lime juice and pink grapefruit.
Finish: Dry herbal, smoky punch and a warm afterglow.

Read the full review of Marca Negra Espadin Mezcal

That's it for now. 2015 passed like a refurbished Millenium Falcon entering Hyperspace. Time to slow down a bit and enjoy the holidays with friends and family (and drinks, let's not forget drinks). Very few lines will be written in the next few days but don't worry. I'll be back in 2016 with plenty of reviews and interesting bits and pieces of whisky news. All the best and see you in 2016!