Allt-á-Bhainne 11 Year Old 2000 – Provenance (Douglas Laing) (70cl, 46.0%)



I think it is safe to say that Allt-á-Bhainne is probably one of the least known Speysiders around. The distillery is located near Dufftown in the Speyside region. It was built in 1965 to supply the blended whiskys of the Chivas Brothers who in turn were sold to the Pernod Ricard Company in 1981. Almost all of the production goes for blending for brands such as 100 Pipers and Chivas Regal. There is no visitor centre which also adds to the under the radar feeling!!! There is no official bottling but a few independent bottlings are around from such as Gordon and MacPhail, Cadenheads, Murray MacDavid and of course the Douglas Laing Provenance range but often you really have to seek this one out

This particular offering, an 11 year old Allt-á-Bhainne distilled in the Summer of 2000 and aged in a single sherry butt before bottling for the Provenance range in Winter 2011 came from a shop on Deeside in Scotland inclusive of a heavy layer of dust on the box!!!

But now to the whisky .


I poured the whisky in to a Copita nosing glass, added a teaspoon of water and left the whisky covered to develop for ten minutes.Incidently this is a whisky that water should be added to, to gain the full experience of this subtle whisky.

The whisky pours a  honeyed golden colour, leaving long legs flowing down the inside of the glass.

The nose is initially quite aromatic with notes of honey and digestive biscuits  coming forward. This is followed by a little cedar wood, a touch of vanilla and perhaps more honey and cumin spice.

A really warm  and floral opening to the whisky.

The flavour is initially quite slow and soft with hints of honey , barley grist, hazelnuts and a touch  of milk chocolate but as the whisky develops on the palate the honey and barley gain momentum.  This is followed by notes of biscuit, a little ginger spice but honey and milk chocolate predominate here.

The taste finished with a ribbon of ginger snap and a faint wisp of smoke running through.

The finish is long and warming with notes of oak and sherry.

This whisky is absolutly wonderful, soft but not at the expense of flavour . It actually feels as though you are  drinking liquid Toblerone, it has that same honeyed chocolate luxurious feeling !!!!

Exceedingly well balanced and well made and most highly recommended for those who enjoy Speyside whisky




Pittyvaich 1993 – Connoisseurs Choice (Gordon and MacPhail) (70cl, 46.0%)

Speyside, whisky


It’s always a little sad reviewing a whisky when the distillery is no more. There’s an excitement knowing that you are drinking a little bit of history but also a presentiment that this may be your final or only experience of this dram.

The Pittyvaich distillery, built in 1974 by Arthur Bell & Sons, was among the youngest Scottish distilleries while it was operating. It stood near the Dufftown Distillery in Dufftown.

Originally built to provide malt whisky for blends, Pittyvaich eventually did release an official bottling in 1991. Prior to the official bottling, a number of independent bottlers (including Signatory Vintage and Cadenhead’s) released Pittyvaich as a single malt.

The distillery was demolished in 2002.


I poured the whisky in to a Glencairn glass, added a teaspoon of water and left the whisky to develop for ten minutes. The whisky pours a light honey golden colour in the glass it’s quite oily leaving long legs inside the glass.

On the nose there is a light almost smokey note. Like light peat smoke from a closed fire. This is followed by notes of Heather, honey, sweet grain and baked apples. As the nose develops more fruity notes come forward, Apple, peach and over ripe dark berries come through at the end.

The flavour is initially sharp with apples, this is quite pronounced as the flavour develops, notes of light smoke, soft citrus peel and sweet green grains follow. There are notes of dry oak and vanilla which is accompanied by a hit of white pepper and a drying grapefruit flavour at the end.

The finish is very long with a citrus bitterness throughout.

This particular whisky isn’t the most widely available and I was only able to pick it up at The Grill (A whisky bar in Aberdeen), but your luck may be better than mine!

I suppose this is a distillery that may have been seen as surplus to requirement in a town (Dufftown) which is awash with distilleries but I still feel that it was a shame to loose it!


Benromach Organic 2008 (70cl, 43.0%)

Speyside, whisky


Benromach is a relatively small distillery based in the Speyside region. Founded by Duncan McCallum and F.W. Brickman in the 1890’s. Having opened and closed a number of times since it’s establishment Gordon and Macphail of Elgin took over the distillery in 1993 and restored it to full working order in it’s current guise.

It is situated near Forres in Morayshire and is fed with spring water from the Chapelton Springs in the Romach Hills beside Forres.

This Benromach was distilled in 2008 using Scottish organic barley and left to mature in virgin American oak casks until 2014, when it was bottled. This whisky was also the first single malt whisky to be fully certified as organic by the Soil Association.


I poured the whisky in to a Glencairn, added a teaspoon of water and left the whisky to develop for ten minutes. The whisky pours a light amber colour with a lighter consistency. On rolling around the glass the whisky leaves long legs which bead on the inside of the glass.

The nose is initially quite spirit forward with notes of soft peat ash and roasted malt coming through. This moves away quite quickly to reveal a much more sweet and fruit forward aroma. There are notes of toffee, roasted banana and vanilla. This is rounded of by notes of stewed pear, citrus and ginger.

The flavour has a big hit of marmalade and jam sugar to start. This is followed by chili, tropical fruit and peaches. These flavours move toward something a little softer and creamier as it develops with hits of dark chocolate, light citrus and a soft malt sweetness right at the end of the flavour.

The finish is long with hits of citrus and spice lingering long after tasting.

As a younger expression this whisky doesn’t leave you wanting. The experience is engaging and ever changing through each sip! The notes of fruit, spice and sweetness from this sophisticated whisky keep you coming back for more!

The whisky is available from The Whisky Shop Dufftown HERE!


Glen Spey 17 Year Old – Duthies (WM Cadenhead) (70cl, 46.0%)

Speyside, whisky


The Glen Spey distillery is a single malt Scotch whisky distillery in Rothes, Aberlour, Banffshire at the centre of the Speyside whisky producing area of Scotland.

Glen Spey distillery was built in 1878 by James Stuart & Co. under the name ‘Mill of Rothes’. It actually started its life as an oatmeal mill – founder James Stuart was a corn merchant before he ventured into the whisky world. The distillation equipment was simply added to the existing mill in the years before the Glen Spey distillery was sold to the Gilbey company of London in 1887. It expanded production capacity from two to four stills in 1970.

Glen Spey (along with Glenlossie and Strathmill) continues to use ‘purifiers’. Purifiers act as small condensers, returning a proportion of the alcohol vapours back to the pot to be re-distilled. So, this would increase the amount of ‘reflux’ within the pot stills. This results in a lighter spirit.

During its history, the distillery has released only a handful of official bottlings. The distillery’s product is currently primarily used for J&B products.


This 17 year old Glen Spey single malt Scotch whisky was drawn from a single cask and bottled by WM Cadenhead, one of the oldest independent bottlers in Scotland. 312 bottles were produced as part of the Duthies range.

I poured the whisky in to a Glencairn, added two teaspoons of water and left the whisky covered to develop for ten minutes. The whisky pours a light golden colour with a slightly oily consistency. On rolling around the glass the whisky leaves long legs on the inside of the glass.

The nose is quite intense, even as I left it to rest there was a nose of sharp apple emanating from the glass. On nosing further this whisky is huge with notes of green apple, candy sugar and fresh rhubarb. As the nose develops there are fresh floral notes, soft sweet malt and vanilla.

The flavour is initially dry with notes of ash, dry roasted malt and a medicinal cedar wood note. This develops in to a sweeter red fruit and apple stem flavours. The end of the taste has hits of vanilla, notes of pepper, soft creamy malt but everything is tired together by an overarching dryness.

The finish is medium long with notes of creamy malt and soft berry sweetness. The finish is no where near as drying as the body of the whisky!

This whisky has been a complete surprise with bottlings at reasonable prices of this quality Glen Spey is a whisky I will look out for again!

This whisky has sadly sold out from Master of Malt but there is a Douglas Laing bottling available HERE!



BenRiach Birnie Moss Intensely Peated (70cl, 48.0%)

Speyside, whisky

People may start to think I have a bit of a thing for BenRiach and they’re not wrong! I have never reviewed two whiskies from the same distillery but I truly believe BenRiach are going about things the right way. By trying to make better whisky by not only using traditional methods but borrowing knowledge and technique from the wider world of spirit production!

Birnie Moss is named after an area of windswept moorland situated quite close to the BenRiach Distillery. It is a quite wild place that gives our single malt its name.

This single malt is the first bespoke whisky to be created from the BenRiach Distillery under its current stewardship. It also shows the new direction which this distillery plans to take with production.

This experimental first under the guidance and enthusiasm of the distillery’s new owners, Birnie Moss is a whisky bursting with originality.

It is quite unusual for Speyside malt to use this leavel of peat, this unique expression wields its smoky character with a new and deliberate swagger.


I poured the whisky in to a Copita nosing glass, added a half teaspoon of water and left the whisky covered to develop for ten minutes. The whisky pours a very light straw colour with a syrupy consistency. On rolling around the glass the whisky leaves long legs on the inside of the glass.

The nose is quite fruit forward to start with notes of orange and lemon pouring forward. This develops quickly in to more peat smoke and a seaside driftwood bonfire toward the end with light hints of salt.

The flavour again fruit forward with notes of dried fruit and sweet malt. Through the development bitter chocolate and porridge oats come through. The malt flavours become darker building in to peat smoke this is followed by a heat from the alcohol and a drier smoke.

The finish is very malty with a little oak coming through along with strengthening peat smoke. As the finish fades a warming alcohol notes come through.

Birnie moss is very well balanced the peat does not drown out all the other flavours resident in this well made whisky, which is remarkable as it is bottled at 35 ppm. Perhaps being bottled at 48% helps the balance.

The citrus comes through well and whilst the peat comes through later in taste and finish. There is a freshness to this whisky that makes this a highly enjoyable and surprising dram. Well done Benriach!!

This whisky is available from The Whisky Shop Dufftown HERE!!

BenRiach 20 Year Old (70cl, 43.0%)

Speyside, whisky


The BenRiach distillery is a single malt Scotch whisky distillery in the Speyside area of Scotland. It is operated independently by the BenRiach Distillery Company Limited, formed by two South African funding partners, Geoff Bell and Wayne Keiswetter, and Scotch whisky expert Billy Walker. In 2008, the company expanded their portfolio with the acquisition of the Glendronach distillery. As well as the Glenglassaugh distillery in March 2013.

The BenRiach Distillery was established by John Duff in 1898, close to the Longmorn Distillery which was also owned by Duff. The distilleries were joined by a private railroad, with a private steam locomotive, the Puggy, to transport coal, barley, peat and barrels between the distilleries. Soon after the railroad was established in 1900 the distillery stopped production in the wake of the bankruptcy of Pattison’s whisky, a major Scotch Whisky purchaser. Only BenRiachs maltings remained in active use, producing malt for Longmorn. It didn’t produce spirit again until 1965 when it was reopened by Glenlivet Distillers Ltd. In 1978 the distillery changed hands, this time to Seagrams. Seagrams became part of Pernod Ricard in 2001 and the BenRiach distillery began operating for just three months of every year. In 2004 the distillery was acquired by an independent consortium, the BenRiach Distillery Company Limited.

It was with delight, while sworn to secrecy, that I witnessed BenRiach gaining its independence, when a team led by the experienced and infectiously enthusiastic Billy Walker acquired the Distillery. This independence will allow BenRiach to unlock its secrets and bring its fine and surprising malts, officially to the market in their natural state for the first time. There cannot be a single true lover of whisky who will not rejoice because of it.


I poured the whisky in to a Copita nosing glass, added a half teaspoon of water and left the whisky covered to develop for ten minutes. The whisky pours a golden colour with a slightly syrupy consistency. On rolling around the glass the whisky leaves long legs on the inside of the glass.

I found the nose to be quite fruit forward with an abundance of soft orange and citrus peel, lemon, raisins and cooking apples coming forward. This moves in to a more smokey and almost resinous note with a little hit of fresh peat and oak coming through.

The taste is unusual for a twenty year old whisky and would almost indicate something a little younger, but this is by no means a bad thing! The flavour is a little spirity but this is followed by more and more dried fruit and raisins. This is followed by a light malt sweetness coming through with more fruit and hints of peat smoke. As the flavour develops more spicy flavours come forward, pepper and cloves on the tongue. This is indeed a very pleasant dram!

The finish is medium long with notes of oak and vanilla followed by a smooth little peat smoke. As the finish starts to fade away an almost a tart jam sweetness comes through.

This whisky is a delight and for the age is as bright and exciting a 20 year old whisky as you’ll find!

This is available from Master of Malt HERE!


Glen Grant 21 Year Old 1992 (cask 55416) – Cask Strength Collection (Signatory) (70cl, 51.2%)

Speyside, whisky


Glen Grant is a distillery founded in 1840 in Rothes, Speyside, that produces single malt Scotch whisky. Previously owned by Chivas Brothers Ltd, best known for their Chivas Regal blended scotch whisky, Glen Grant was purchased by the Italian company Gruppo Campari in December 2005. It is the biggest selling single malt Scotch whisky in Italy.

Glen Grant was founded in 1840, by brothers John and James Grant, two former illegal distillers and smugglers who decided to take out a license. With the sea and port of Garmouth nearby, the River Spey at its feet and barley-growing plains nearby, all the basic ingredients of malt whisky were close at hand. This time the distillery was legal.

By 1872, the founders of Glen Grant Distillery had died. Young James ‘The Major’ Grant, born in 1847, had always taken a keen interest in the distillery and having inherited the business and the title ‘Glengrant’ from his uncle John Grant, he was to prove himself a worthy successor.

Stories about ‘The Major’ abound. A legendary innovator, socialiser and traveller, he lived by his own rules and set his own standards. New ideas fascinated him and he wasn’t afraid to explore them. He was the first man in the Highlands to own a car. Glen Grant was the first distillery to have electric light. And he introduced the tall slender stills and purifiers which created the fresh malty flavour and clear colour that defines Glen Grant whisky to this day.

In 1931, Major Grant, the last Glengrant, died, survived by his three daughters and a distillery that had become one of the most famous in the world. Douglas MacKessack, his grandson, was to become his successor.

In 1972, the Glenlivet and Glen Grant Distilleries Ltd amalgamated with the blending concerns of Hill, Thomson and Co.Ltd and Longmorn Distilleries Ltd to become The Glenlivet Distillers Ltd. The original family interest in the distilleries was maintained, with two substantial outside shareholders: Courage Ltd, the brewing concern and Suntory Ltd, the Japanese distilling company.

In 2006, Campari acquired Glen Grant, its only whisky, when Allied Domecq was acquired by Pernod Ricard. To this day, Glen Grant continues to be one of the biggest selling single malts worldwide.


I poured the whisky in to a Copita nosing glass, added a teaspoon of water and left the whisky covered to develop for ten minutes. The whisky pours a golden colour with a slightly oily consistency. On rolling around the glass the whisky leaves long legs on the inside of the glass.

The nose initially hits with notes of vanilla, red fruit and a slight note of bourbon. These notes are followed by some hints of soft spice and some slightly floral aromas. As the whisky develops notes of salt and almond start to come through in the background.

The flavour is almost heady with spiced apple, this is followed by notes of salt, vanilla and a more pronounced dry oak (bitter wood) note. This is balanced out perfectly by sweet notes of caramel not unlike a bourbon and a soft citrus undercurrent. On the finish there is a slight candy note.

The finish is long with a lingering floral note.

This whisky is another fantastic example of a Signatory bottling! These are always worth searching out and the cask strength variants do not disappoint!

Sadly this bottling is no longer available but this years bottling is available from The Whisky Exchange HERE!


Balmenach 10 Year Old 2002 (cask 9864) – Provenance (Douglas Laing) (70cl, 46.0%)

Speyside, whisky


I’d like to thank Douglas Laing for giving me the opportunity to use this many brackets in a blog title!!

Situated in the district of Cromdale on the banks of the River Spey the distillery stands in beneath the nearby hill of Tom Lethendry where the Jacobites were defeated in the Battle of Cromdale in 1690.

Balmenach Distillery is one of the earliest distilleries sanctioned as a result of the Excise Act 1823. In 1897 the distillery was purchased by Glenlivet and was served by its own railway branch off the Strathspey Railway until 1969. The distillery closed in 1941 and re-opened in 1947, following expansion of its facilities.

The Distillery is owned by Inver House Distillers Limited, a privately owned distiller whose other distilleries include: Speyburn-Glenlivet Distillery, Knockdhu Distillery, Balblair Distillery and, Old Pulteney Distillery.


I poured the whisky in to a Copita nosing glass, added a teaspoon of water and left the whisky covered to develop for ten minutes.

The whisky is a hazy straw colour, it’s thin but leaves long legs which last on the inside of the glass.

The nose is very complex with notes of apple, peach, fudge and some mineral salt aromas coming forward. These are followed by hints soft clove, white grapes and white fruit stone (seeds).

The flavour is quite mineral forward, with notes of salt and wet stone initially. This is followed by hits of tart apple, soft malt and and some slightly sour and citrus flavours in the backgound. It’s bitter and drying with notes of herb in the background.

The finish is relatively short but that suits this rather refreshing whisky with a dry herbal note lingering for a short time after drinking.

This whisky is exceptional dram and great fantastic whisky for those who are looking to try something a little outside their comfort zone!

Reasonably priced but sadly not so easy to find this Balmenach expression is available from Master of Malt HERE!


Braeval 1998 signatory (56.7% 13 Year old)

Speyside, whisky


Braeval, aslo known as The Braes of Glenlivet was founded in 1973 by the Chivas and Glenlivet Group. located in the far south of Speyside, upstream from Tamnavulin and (the) Glenlivet. In 1975 two stills were added to the existing three and one more still was installed in 1978. Braeval now has six stills, two wash stills with internal condensers (capacity 22,000 litres) and four ‘Milton Ball’ spirit stills (capacity 10,000 litres), all heated via steam.

At an altitude of 350m, Braeval stands as the highest distillery in Scotland. Braeval was built on a mountain ridge, sharing its water source, the Pitilie Burn, with the highland based Aberfeldy. No official bottlings have been released, but there are a number of Braeval whiskies available as part of independent bottling ranges. The distillery closed in October of 2002, following Pernod Ricard’s acquisition of Chivas Brothers the previous year.

After renovation and refurbishment the distillery was reopened in July of 2008 – a year when Chivas reopened several silent distilleries in their portfolio. A thoroughly modern distillery, despite its old-fashioned, classic aesthetics, Braeval can be operated by just one worker, though nonetheless the capacity is quite substantial at 3.8m litres per annum.


Very light and gold in colour, I added a teaspoon of water to a Glencairn glass and left the whisky to develop. On rolling around the glass the whisky is slightly syrupy leaving long legs in the inside of the glass.

The whisky is sweet with confectioners sugar and malt up front, followed by honey and lemon thyme. Notes of citrus follow with lemon and a slightly spicy vanilla and pepper note. Rounded out by an orange and lime sweetness.

The taste is citrus forward with notes of lemon, mint along with warming Christmas spices and cherries. There are hints or apple and peach along with a slight sea salt note, charred wood and sweet bourbon. The finish is peppery and slightly dry.

The whisky remains on the palate long after drinking with hints of vanilla oak and spice.

This is my first experience of Braeval whisky and it has been completely worthwhile! This whisky is complex and very worth the 50 – 60 pound price point!

Although this whisky is no longer available there are others available from Master of Malt at a similar price HERE!!


Longmorn Signatory 1990 (24 Year old 55.6%)

Speyside, whisky


The Longmorn Distillery Company was founded in 1893 by John Duff, Charles Shirres and George Thomson. Duff was a former manager of the Glendronach Distillery and the Bon Accord Distillery in Aberdeen, and was the founder of the Glenlossie Distillery. He was also involved with unsuccessful distilleries in Cape Town and the USA.

Longmorn Distillery started production in December 1894. Three years later John Duff built the Benriach Distillery next to Longmorn, but both were affected by the collapse of wholesale buyers Pattison, Elder and Co. in 1898. Duff was financially ruined by the collapse, and Longmorn Distilleries Company Ltd. passed through a variety of ownerships. In 1970, Longmorn joined The Glenlivet and Glen Grant to form The Glenlivet Distillers Ltd. This was bought by Chivas Brothers in 1978 and in 2001 Chivas Brothers was acquired by the French Pernod Ricard Group.

The distillery produces 3.5 million litres from 4 wash stills and is based just over two miles south of Elgin in Morayshire.


The whisky is a dark straw like colour. Poured in to a Glencairn glass I left the whisky to open up for ten minutes. On rolling around the glass the whisky is syrupy leaving long legs on the glass.

The nose is sherry forward with notes of raisin, red berry, grape and dark cherry this is followed by fresher floral nores and finishes with a sweet aroma of stewed apple.

The flavour is perfumed with hits of thyme and lavender much more herb forward than I expected. This is followed by notes of apple, mint and dry oak. The flavour is then rounded off by sweet orange.

The finish is long wish prickles of herb and a soft spicy undercurrent.

This whisky is fantastic and was an excellent introduction for me to Longmorn whisky. The downside is that it’s not the most affordable coming in at a price point over £100.

Should you chose to buy this whisky, you will not be disappointed!!