Whisky Review #47 – Speyburn 10


Intro – I have been drinking whisky for over 3 years now and I remember seeing Speyburn 10 at my local liquor store early on in my whisky journey. A 10 year old single malt scotch whisky for $20-$30 is always attractive…especially to a beginner. I did my research and reviews were lackluster. Many people talked about the value of the whisky and that it wasn’t horrible. It’s no wonder why it took me so long to buy a bottle. Light, young Highland whiskies usually don’t do it for me. I finally picked up a bottle on an impulse buy one night when the wife and kids were out of town. Paid $30 – 43% ABV – added color and chill filtered.

***Reviewed neat while listening to Stone Temple Pilots – Core.***

Nose – herbal, spicy grass clippings, vanilla, apples, caramel…artificial caramel, plastic, fruity(currently attracting a fruit fly), floral, laundry soap, bathroom cleaner…not quite bleach but pretty close.

Taste – spices, alcohol, more spices…pepper, a bit too hot, caramel, alcohol soaked apples, pretty harsh and unpleasant. *adding water helps with the alcohol but the flavor becomes nonexistent*

Finish – Short finish, slightly sweet, dry, rotten wood. Thankfully the finish doesn’t hang around.

Favorite Part – The Nose. (the only redeemable quality)

Conclusion – I enjoyed the nose on this a lot but the taste and finish were horrible. Even at $30 I can’t recommend this whisky. The notes on the nose make me interested on what Speyburn could do with quality casks, higher ABV and more of a craft presentation. Maybe it was the Stone Temple Pilots but this seems like a good whisky to throw ice in and get hammered off of. I drink whisky for the smell & taste experience…not to get hammered. Save your money and put it towards a better mid range bottle.

Rating – 47/100

  • Presentation – 1/5
  • Nose – 20/25
  • Taste – 10/35
  • Finish – 10/25
  • Value – 6/10

Whisky Review #46 – Ledaig 10 (Old bottling)


Intro – Ledaig 10 is a peated (smokey) whisky from the Tobermory distillery. I found this older bottling at a small liquor store that I frequently stop at on my way home to my parents house. Sometimes these smaller out of the way stores have really interesting stuff that has sat on the shelf for years. This older version is bottled at 43%. The current version which I have reviewed here was the first whisky I ever reviewed on my whisky blog. I really enjoy the current version so I thought it would be a great experience to try the older bottling. At some point I will do a side by side review. I paid $45 for this bottle – the current version is about the same in price in my area.

Nose – rubber, sauerkraut, pencil erasers, sweet vanilla undertones, definitely sauerkraut but the sweet kind, vegetal smoke – imagine throwing sweet sauerkraut on a grill. That unique Tobermory character is there. The newer version is much sweeter and this version is even more funky and odd. *more time in the glass causes more sweet vanilla to come to the front*

Taste – heavy smoke up front, rotten wood, pepper, sweet candy…a vanilla flavored chewy candy – then dry ashtrays – very dry…not a medicinal smoke like other whiskies…a lot of woody ashtray flavors. more smoked sauerkraut.

Finish – short/medium finish – surprisingly sweet smoke, ash trays and faint sauerkraut –  It doesn’t hang around – it would be a good starter to a night of drinking peated(smokey) whiskies because it doesn’t wreck your taste buds.

Favorite Part – The Nose.

Conclusion – The nose steals the show on this one. I could smell this whisky for an hour. It’s funky, odd and kind of wrong but I love it. The taste is very interesting and engaging however the finish does fall short. When I did taste this version next to the newer version I recall liking this one more. I think a higher ABV would help out…43% is a bit weak for me. It is still very good and I may grab another bottle if I can.

Rating – 83/100

  • Presentation – 3/5
  • Nose – 23/25
  • Taste – 30/35
  • Finish – 18/25
  • Value – 9/10

Whisky Review #45 – Auchentoshan Three Wood


Intro – My first journey into the Lowland region of Scotland we have the Auchentoshan Three Wood. Lowland whiskies are known for being lighter whiskies with close ties to Irish whisky as far as smell & taste go. Auchentoshan is also triple distilled which is another reason for its light flavors. I have to say when I read that a whisky has a light character I usually don’t go for it.  The Three Wood seemed like a good one to try as it is triple matured (hence the Three Wood) in Bourbon, Oloroso Sherry and PX Sherry casks. So I figured even if the flavor off the stills is light the casks should hopefully impart some nice strong sherry flavors. Bottled at 43%, chill filtered and colored. No age on this one so who really knows. Reviewed neat.

Nose – wet grass, sour sherry, spicy, salty sneaker rubber, cinnamon, odd grassy note which must be the Auchentoshan character, slight cherry and sherry note. The red fruit/sherry notes are killed by the grassy, spicy, young spirit. More time in the cask would probably have helped. I am sure this was a quick maturation. Complex nose…strange but in a good way. Time the glass helps.

Taste – sweet arrival, thick sugary mouthfeel, light sherry…odd sherry, turning spicy and hot – sweetness doesn’t stick around. flavor falls away quickly.

Finish – chocolate, cinnamon, baking spices, auchentoshan (grassy, hot spirit) character then nothing…can barely be called a short finish – not off putting but very short and lacking.

Favorite Part – The Nose.

Conclusion – Meh. This is a strange one. Usually I enjoy strange/odd/characterful whisky but just when you think it’s going to wow you the flavor disappears. Great nose but on the taste and finish you can tell it’s young. I think they left in the casks just long enough to not make it horrible. That said if they put some quality casks for longer and bottled it at a higher ABV  I think it would be much better. I probably won’t try another Auchentoshan because I think without the extra cask maturation the base spirit would gross me out. I can’t really recommend this one.

Rating – 63/100

  • Presentation – 2/5
  • Nose – 20/25
  • Taste – 23/35
  • Finish – 15/25
  • Value – 3/10

Whisky Review #44 – Highland Park Dark Origins


Intro – It has been almost 5 months since my last whisky review. Life has been busy and lately I have been more interested in just enjoying whisky then reviewing it. The weather today is rainy and dreary so I figure it is a good day for a review…or a nap. Maybe a nap after the review. Highland Park Dark Origins came onto the whisky scene a few years ago. Another Non Age Statement (NAS) whisky to annoy the whisky purists. I have tried the Highland Park 12 and remember enjoying it. It is probably the whisky I would most recommend to people starting out in their exploration of single malt whisky. The Dark Origins is supposed to be a richer, darker whisky with more first fill sherry casks to give it a deeper sherry character. I did my research and reviews were good and bad. I enjoyed the Highland Park character I found in the 12 year so I figured I would enjoy the extra sherry maturation in Dark Origins. Also being bottled at 46.8% ABV helps. Non Chill Filtered and I believe natural color. I think I paid about $75 in late 2016.

Nose – Big sherry, dark fruits, caramel, soft vanilla, light underlying smoke, slightly medicinal, light pepper and spice, complex deep notes of sherry, spice and intertwined smoke. Highland Park character is there covered with sherry. Great nose.

Taste – sweet sherry on the arrival, candy sweetness, quickly turning spicy, then dark fruits,chocolate…bitter chocolate and smoke. very quick changes in your mouth. Does not taste young. Good mouth feel.

Finish – short/medium finish – I wish it was longer. I wish there was more smoke on the finish but that may take away from the sweetness so I think it is properly balanced there. There is nothing off putting on the finish – I just want more!

Favorite Part – The Taste.

Conclusion – Some reviewers have hated this expression. I have to say I really love it. Maybe there are batch variations but my bottle has been going down fast. My wife also really enjoys it. I heard recently that it is being discontinued so I will probably try to get another bottle before it is gone for good. Over the years I have come to realize I enjoy certain distilleries more then others. Highland Park is on my short list of distilleries I enjoy. Dark Origins is a bit expensive for a NAS but for me it was worth it.

Rating – 82/100

  • Presentation – 5/5
  • Nose – 23/25
  • Taste – 30/35
  • Finish – 18/25
  • Value – 6/10


Whisky Review #43 – Talisker Storm


Intro – 40 reviews since I reviewed Talisker 10 we have the no age statement (NAS) Talisker Storm. Recently this expression has dropped in price big time….sales must have been lagging.  I picked it up for around $30 so I figured even if it was a weak offering I wouldn’t be out much cash. Bottled at 45.8% – colored and chill filtered as far as I know. The bottle says “An intense Talisker” which makes sense since younger peated whiskies usually display a stronger smoke character.

****Reviewed neat while listening to my Def Leppard Pyromania LP.****

Nose – rotten apples,  brine, classic  Talisker character, light on the smoke, an old band-aid laying on the coast, not as peppery as I remember the 10 year being, a dusty gravel road (reminds me of the smell of my parents gravel alley) sweetness underneath (caramel, vanilla, light fruits…typical bourbon matured notes) – dusty and dirty sawdust. Easy to nose…no burn.

Taste – very sweet up front, caramel, sugar, slightly fruity, here comes the pepper…and now it’s gone. Taste follows the nose but it’s a tad weak. It has definitely lost a bit of punch since I opened it.

Finish – unpleasant sweetness, smoke, pepper, some wood. – short finish.

Favorite Part – The nose.

Conclusion – I wouldn’t call it “An Intense Talisker” but I wouldn’t call it a bad Talisker either. Not as much pepper, brine and smoke as the 10 year old but those notes are still there. It’s more like Talisker Breeze. Definitely not as complex as the 10 year old but for $30 I think it’s worth it. The old price of $60 was a joke and I’m glad Diageo came to their senses. It was a lot more punchy when I first opened it so watch the level in the bottle. While I have enjoyed it I think in the future I will probably spend the extra money and get the 10 year old. It you like smoke and would like to try a Talisker I’d say go for it.


  • Presentation – 3/5
  • Nose – 17/25
  • Taste – 25/35
  • Finish – 14/25
  • Value – 9/10

Whisky Review #42 – Laphroaig Triple Wood


Intro – I have had many different expressions from Laphroaig. Triple Wood was the 4th expression that I tried. I started with the standard 10 year, then went to Quarter Cask, then the 10 year old Cask Strength before trying the Triple Wood. Triple Wood is matured like  Quarter Cask but is finished in sherry casks for added complexity. Bottled at 48% and Non-Chill Filtered. No Age Statement. Nothing noted on the bottle about added coloring so we can assume they color this one to keep it consistent. Retails around $55-$60 in my area.

****Reviewed neat on 12/15/2016****

Nose – deep caramel, heavy sherry, minty…reminds me of a crisp winter morning, medicinal, smoke, light pepper, overripe berries, minty toothpaste mixed with glue, smoked dark fruits, vanilla and caramel flows throughout with sherry dancing in & out, dusty garage smells in the middle of winter. Spectacular nose.

Taste – sweet, caramel, quick dark fruits, super sweet sherry blast, spicy, dark chocolate,smoke

Finish – pepper, smoke, sweet wood, slight sherry undertones that only contribute – they do not dominate. classic Laphroaig finish.

Favorite Part – The Nose. *50+ whiskies into my whisky journey…this is my favorite nose.*

Conclusion – Triple Wood is my favorite expression from Laphroaig’s standard line. Some people don’t rate it too highly but for some reason it ticks all the right boxes for me. The sherry is not dominate but it adds interesting and complex notes to the Laphroaig character. Even though it is made the same way Quarter Cask is, it doesn’t have that overly woody character to it that turns me off so much with Quarter Cask. It reminds more of the 10 year then the Quarter Cask because of the sweetness and caramel. Non Age Statement whisky can be good…it can even be a favorite.


  • Presentation – 4/5
  • Nose – 25/25
  • Taste – 32/35
  • Finish – 22/25
  • Value – 8/10

Whisky Review #41 -Ardbeg 10


Intro – Ardbeg 10 was the first smoky whisky I ever tried. I purchased it after my first bottle – Tomatin 12 and my second bottle – Glenfiddich 12. I did my research and found that Ardbeg 10 was a highly recommended smoky whisky from the Islay region of Scotland. Back then I found it quite ridiculous to pay $50 for a bottle of liquor. Fast forward 2 years and I only wish I could find a bottle I want to try for under $50. Back then I remember being blown away by Ardbeg 10 and it really launched me into my whisky journey. This is my 2nd bottle of Ardbeg 10 which I picked up in an “Exploration Pack” which came with a sample bottle of Ardbeg Corryveckan and Ardbeg Uigeadail. Click those links for the reviews. Ardbeg 10 is between $45-$50 in my area. 46% ABV, Non Chill-Filtered and Natural Color.

****Reviewed neat on 12/01/2016****

Nose – citrus, cream, custard, white pepper, smoke, medicinal, mint, soft vanilla and caramel, light and delicate fruit notes…surrounded by cream & smoke. Easy to nose with no strong alcohol burn. I could smell this for 30 minutes before taking a sip. Complex, intriguing and enjoyable nose.

Taste – vanilla cream, very sweet arrival, thicker fruit notes then the nose but lighter on the citrus…there is a darker fruit I can’t pick out, a lot of pepper, caramel, licorice, smoke, easy to sip…slight burn.

Finish – pepper, smoke, slightly sweet but the smoke dominates. medium finish.

Favorite Part – The Nose.

Conclusion – While the taste does follow the nose for the most part, it falls short in my opinion. I usually get a lot more out of the nose of a whisky then the taste, this one is no different. That said it is very tasty and easy to sip. I find it to be much lighter then Laphroaig 10 and with more delicate fruit notes. The complexity on the nose is great but the taste doesn’t compare to the taste my favorite standard Islay whisky, Laphroaig 10. Ardbeg 10 is priced well and gives a great show. I have no problem recommending it to people who want to try a smoky whisky from Islay. Ardbeg 10 probably won’t ever be a staple in my whisky cabinet but it is well worth the experience.

Rating – 80/100

  • Presentation – 5/5
  • Nose – 22/25
  • Taste – 27/35
  • Finish – 18/25
  • Value – 8/10

Whisky Review #40 – Laphroaig 18


Intro – The oldest whisky I have ever purchased. I did taste the 25 and 32 at a recent Laphroaig Tasting. When I originally bought this bottle I thought…An 18 year old Laphroaig, it has to be amazing. I have learned through the first few years of my whisky journey that age doesn’t always mean it’s better. It doesn’t mean you’ll like something more just because it’s older. It depends on many things…the spirit, the distillery, the casks and your personal tastes. But since it is a Laphroaig the chances are good I will love it. Bottled at 48%, non-chill filtered but colored. I think I paid about $85-$90.

****Reviewed neat on 10/29/16****

Nose – light/under ripe red fruits, strawberry chewing gum, mint, chocolate undertones, soft & fruity, sweet pepper, smoke is contributing but not dominating. delicate nose. The Laphroaig character is all there…smoke, licorice, seaweed, sea salt…but it’s very light and hard to find. That really let’s the fruitiness shine through.

Taste – sweet and spicy arrival, gentle and light…not the usual Laphroaig assault on your taste buds, caramel, licorice, red fruits are in and out, chocolate, pepper, vanilla and more caramel towards the end. Not very smokey to me – it’s there but it’s very light.

Finish – medium finish, pepper, licorice, smoke, slight caramel but besides that nothing else sweet on the finish.

Favorite Part – The Nose.

Conclusion – A great whisky which would probably be enjoyed more by someone who likes a small amount of smokiness in their whisky. This would be a great introduction for someone who wants to explore Laphroaig. All the characteristic Laphroaig notes are there but are more approachable. It’s become painfully obvious that I enjoy younger Laphroaig. The 18 year old is easy to drink and gives a great performance. Maybe it’s too delicate for my brain to figure out? Maybe when I see that Laphroaig bottle I just want to be abused by smoke? Would I buy another bottle? Probably not. For $90 I could get a 10 year old and Triple Wood. Maybe years from now age will matter more. Right now it doesn’t…at least not with my Laphroaig.

Read my Laphroaig 15 review right here.

Or check out my comparison of the 15 & 18  HERE!

Rating – 80/100

  • Presentation – 4/5
  • Nose – 23/25
  • Taste – 31/35
  • Finish – 17/25
  • Value – 5/10

Whisky Review #39 – Laphroaig Quarter Cask


Intro – Considered by many whisky drinkers to be one of the strongest expressions from Laphroaig. Quarter Cask is a No Age Statement (NAS) whisky which has been matured in standard ex-bourbon and then transferred to smaller quarter casks. These smaller casks allow for quicker maturation. Bottled at 48% and unchill-filtered. Nothing on the packaging about being natural colored so I assume they add color. This was my 2nd expression of Laphroaig after having the standard 10 year old. This is my 2nd bottle of Quarter Cask I have purchased. $45 to $50 in my area.

****Reviewed neat on 10/19/2016****

Nose – vanilla, smoke, caramel, wood, dusty apples, licorice, sweet grass, pepper, dirty rubber tires – Nice balance of sweet and smoke.

Taste – sweet, spicy, vanilla, woody, pepper, smoke, caramel, young and in your face, taste bud abuser – Not as sweet on the taste as the nose.

Finish – licorice, a lot of wood, pepper, smoke – shorter finish then I expected.

Favorite Part – The Nose.

Conclusion –  The nose is very balanced and enjoyable. The sweet notes mingle well with that smokey Laphroaig character. The taste has the same notes as the nose but they are not as intense. The taste is still very enjoyable. The finish is quite short to me…maybe because I drink a lot of smokey whisky. One thing I don’t enjoy about this whisky compared to the standard 10 year old is the overly woody finish. Its almost a sickly wood finish. It’s the same flavor I get in what I would call “over-oaked” whisky. Meaning they left the whisky in the quarter casks too long…that’s just my opinion. I prefer the 10 year old to the Quarter Cask.  I’d love to see a 6-8 year old Laphroaig matured in ex-bourbon with no quarter casks involved. I recommend this if you like smokey whisky. It is priced well, consistent and highly regarded.


Rating –  79/100

  • Presentation – 4/5
  • Nose – 21/25
  • Taste – 28/35
  • Finish – 18/25
  • Value – 8/10

Laphroaig Whisky Tasting – 2016


Last night I attended my first whisky tasting. I usually enjoy drinking whisky in the solitude of my own home. That said,  even the introvert in me couldn’t pass up an opportunity this special. Ace Spirits out of Hopkins Minnesota was hosting a Laphroaig Tasting in which I was able to sample 8 different expressions from Laphroaig. Some of which I already have a lot of experience with and some that I would never be able to afford. I also got some sweet Laphroaig swag which is pictured above. Not to mention the distillery manager John Campbell was there to explain the whiskies and answer questions. Along side Mr. Campbell was the Brand Ambassador, Simon Brooking. Simon made the night even more enjoyable with his toasts and whisky knowledge. Here is a short review of the whiskies and the night in general. ***These notes are not to be taken too seriously since the tasting was somewhat rushed and I had a hard time nosing with all the cigar smoke in the air. Also after that many smokey whiskies my taste buds were shot.***

The Whisky.(in the order they were tasted)

  1. 25 year old Cask Strength – Reminded me of a cross between the 15 year old and the 18 year old. Somewhat tart, sour pineapple/tropical fruit notes but smoothed out with older, softer, and fruitier Laphroaig. If I remember correctly, John Campbell said something about pineapple cheese??? So that seems right – sour tropical fruits with a cheesy smoothness.
  2. 32 year old – My first thought after nosing and having a few sips was – Bowmore 15 Darkest without that fishy Bowmore character…with some Laphroaig mixed in. I remember really liking the finish but I don’t recall what kind of flavors I was getting off it.
  3. Select – I have an open bottle of this at home. I have already reviewed it. Click for the review!
  4. QA Cask – I was excited when they announced that we were going to get to try a Travel Retail expression that is not available in the states. I was hoping for the PX Cask but I shouldn’t complain. QA Cask reminded me of Select without the ashy finish. QA Cask just enforced the fact that I dislike American white oak casks (Virgin Oak). I’m fine with this one staying in Travel Retail.
  5. 10 year old – One of my favorite bottles of whisky. I have bought more bottles of Laphroaig 10 then any other whisky. I have an open bottle at home right now so I will try to review it soon. In my opinion, the 10 year old is one of the best standard Islay whiskies out there.
  6. 2015 Cairdeas – I have an open bottle of this at home. I have already reviewed it. Click here for the review!
  7. 2016 Cairdeas – I have an open bottle of this at home. I have not reviewed it at this time. I have to say,  I really love Laphroaig with wine cask influence. The 2013 Cairdeas is still my all-time favorite and I love the Triple Wood. The 2014 Cairdeas wasn’t my favorite but was still enjoyable. The few glasses of the 2016 I have had have been great. Very interesting stuff going on. I will review it soon and add my thoughts.
  8. Lore – The last whisky of the night was Lore. I am pretty sure at this point my taste buds were shot. It’s also possible that I had mentally checked out at this point. I had also had 7 whiskies before this. I would like to give Lore the benefit of the doubt. However, the nose was lacking and the taste didn’t tick any of the normal Laphroaig boxes. I probably won’t be buying a bottle but please feel free to send me one as a gift.


My Whisky Rankings. **Please keep in mind that I don’t consider this a true representation of what I think of these whiskies as I was not in my usual whisky tasting setting. However, I do think this is pretty close to how I would rank them.**

  1. 2016 Cairdeas
  2. 32 year old
  3. 25 year old
  4. 2015 Cairdeas
  5. 10 year old
  6. Select
  7. Lore
  8. QA Cask


The Overall Experience.

I had a great time at this whisky tasting. Even for an antisocial guy like myself it was really fun. All that great whisky from Laphroaig sure helped too.  Ace Spirits did a great job of hosting. I can tell the management and staff there take whisky and spirits seriously. From the whisky, to the food, to the education from the guys from Laphroaig…it was a great time.  I highly recommend you check out Ace Spirits if you are in the Hopkins area. You can also order from them online. They are also on Facebook so you can keep track of future whisky tasting events.