Inchgower 31yo 1974 (Royal Mile Whiskies)

A decade jump in age for my next review, the lovely 31yo Inchgower (distilled in 1974) from Independent Bottler Royal Mile Whiskies. We had bottle #104 of 179 bottles produced from cask number 10416. Thanks to @thedramdog for bringing this bottle to our tasting.

Inchgower_RoyalMileWhiskies_31yo_The Smoky DramWhisky: Inchgower 31yo 1974, 47.2% ABV (Royal Mile Whiskies, Cask #10416, 179 Bottles)

Region: Speyside, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: 31 years


The Inchgower distillery was founded as ‘The Great Distillery of Inchgower’ in 1871 (to replace Tochineal Distillery) by Alexander Wilson and Co. Buckie Council purchased the concern in 1936 and ownership was transferred to Arthur Bell & Sons Ltd in 1938 and indeed to this very day the Bell’s logo is used in the advertising of Inchgower.

During the 1960s Arthur Bell and Sons included Inchgower Scotch whisky as a component in the popular Bells blend, the vast majority of whisky produced at the distillery, as much as 99%, is used as a blending component (Johnnie Walker and White Horse blends) with only around only 1% of the total production of the distillery being sold as a single malt whisky. Lucky for us there are some Independent bottling’s around, such as this fine one from Royal Mile Whiskies.

Colour: Bright deep gold with slow long and thick legs.

Nose: Sweet, lovely and elegant nose with crème brûlée and braaied banana with burnt/caramelising sugar. There are also notes of sweet xmas spiciness and fruit cake mix as well as a custard sweetness with attractive citrus on the edges (mostly orange marmalade, for me).

Palate: Nice sweet winter spiciness on entry (tip of tongue mostly) that generates a nice warmth. The hot spiciness stays on the palate but with time some caramel, subdued citrus (oranges) and subtle dark chocolate nuances emerge. Palate has a lovely clean and full mouthfeel that coats the tongue.

Finish: A long finish that is winter spicy sweet with a nice dryness at the end.

Overall: My first introduction to an Inchgower whisky and what a cracker it is! I suspect that I will be sniffing out a few more independent bottling’s from this distillery for future enjoyment.

My Score: 88

Glenlivet 1988/2014 15yo – Signatory exclusively for WhiskyBrother

My next review is a special one. Firstly it is a review of whisky that is a culmination of a dream for a friend of mine, Marc Pendlebury of WhiskyBrother fame. And secondly it is the first whisky that I am officially scoring since I decided to publically add my score to a review. It is a 15yo Glenlivet, distilled on the 28th of August 1998 and bottled on the 24th of March 2014 at cask strength (54.8% ABV) by Signatory; exclusively for WhiskyBrother (each beautiful bottle is individually numbered).

WhiskyBrother_Signatory_Glenlivet_15yo_The Smoky DramWhisky: Glenlivet 15yo 1998/2014, 54.8% ABV (Cost – R1300)

Region: Speyside, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: 15 years


The cask chosen ( #128811) was a 500 litre butt, which previously contained Oloroso sherry, yielded 413 bottles and was personally selected by Marc on behalf of the store. Early in 2014 Marc travelled to Scotland to fulfil his dream of selecting a whisky directly for the cask to be bottled for WhiskyBrother. Out of the several whiskies that were tasted at the independent bottler Signatory, three samples were brought back to South Africa for the final selection. “The winning cask was chosen solely on the whisky we thought was best, we didn’t concern ourselves with which distillery it came from or how old it was,” explained Marc.

For years WhiskyBrother was just a blog started by Marc, until 2 years ago when he decide to take the plunge and extended his passion for all things whisky to open a boutique whisky store. WhiskyBrother, situated in Hyde Park Corner shopping centre in Johannesburg, stocks whiskies from around the world, as well as related paraphernalia such as whisky glassware, books and magazines. Holding more than 300 different whiskies, with new stock coming and going on a monthly basis, it is a little slice of whisky heaven for local whiskyphiles. Its aim is to be a focal point in the South African whisky community: a place to taste and explore all things whisky, no matter the knowledge or experience of the drinker.

Marc Pendlebury_WhiskyBrother_The Smoky Dram

So if you are ever in the area pop into the store, taste a dram or two and pick up for yourself a bottle of the store’s own bottling – it will be well worth it!

Colour: Deep and rich auburn to mahogany with many slow and long legs.

Nose: Rich, clean and fresh with dried fruits (mostly prunes and sultana’s), Christmas cake and warm winter spices (cinnamon and ginger). There is also some wood spice, brandied raisins, chocolate and stewed fruit (cinnamoned apples and prunes) to be found. Water brings out apricot marmalade on slightly burnt toast.

Palate: Oily and mouth coating with a hot entry onto the mouth. Warm with hot yet sweet spiciness (cinnamon and ginger), dark chocolate, Christmas cake, dried fruits and a lovely jamyness. Some mocha is also to be found floating around. Water softens the heat but not too much and some more wood spice comes to the fore.

Finish: Fairly long and warming with a lingering hot and sweet spicy tingle (pepper and cinnamon/ginger mix) leading to some apricot marmalade and dark chocolate at the end.

Overall: an excellent choice Marc, it is an incredibly moreish whisky that is powerful and intense without being too overpowering. Looking forward to the next bottling for the store!

My Score: 88

Glenglassaugh 25yo – Whisky Academy

My very belated next review is not only my 50th whisky review (woo hoo!), but this whisky was also my 100th whisky tasted. My blind sample was kindly provided by WhiskyBrother Marc and the only clue I was given was the ABV. Then via the wonders of modern technology (Twitter), I conversed with Marc as to what I thought the whisky was once I had tasted it.

Glenglassaugh 25yo_Smoky Dram

Whisky: Glenglassaugh 25yo, 45.3% ABV

Region: Speyside, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: 25 years

Glenglassaugh Distillery was founded by Col. James Moir in 1875. After being completely re-built in 1960, the distillery continued to produce whisky until November 1986 when it was mothballed. The distillery sat silent for over 20 years until it was purchased by a group of investors and started production again in December 2008. In 2013, the BenRiach Distillery Company took over Glenglassaugh distillery.

 This whisky was specially selected by Jonathan Miles for the Whisky Academy to be their first bottling, as a fine example of what Glenglassaugh and Scotland has to offer after 25 years of aging. It was distilled in 1986 and bottled in 2001. With only 216 bottles being produced it will remain a rarity as there are no more 1986 casks (they closed in November 1986).

Colour: Tawny to auburn with lovely long and thick legs.

Nose: Sweet pecan nut slice with feint hints of citrus fruits and some winter spices. A sprinkling of Christmas cake mix, a dash of florallyness and a dollop of cooked caramel and toffee is also to be found. A nice bit of chocolate rounds out the nose quite nicely.

Palate: Starts off with a sweet and woody spiciness that coats your whole tongue, followed by a raisin and nut mix. There is also some bitter dark chocolate with citrus fruit zest at end and back of one’s mouth. The mouth feel is a warm and smooth one.

Finish: Lovely, warm and lingering with sweet spicy bite of cloves and cinnamon that tingles one’s tongue and lips.

Overall: My first introduction to Glenglassaugh and what an exceptional introduction it was. This is a dram that has complexity and smoothness to it. If you can try this one you really should!

My Score: 88

The Whisky Agency Tomatin 35 YO

One of the oldest whiskies I have ever tasted, so far on my whisky journey, is the subject of my next review. It is the Tomatin 35 year old 1976/2011, from The Whisky Agency, using refill sherry butts. Only 313 bottles were produced. Thanks to @thedramdog for the tasting!

The Whisky Agency_Tomatin 35yo_1976_2011_The Smoky DramWhisky: The Whisky Agency Tomatin 35 YO,   51.4% ABV

Region: Highlands, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: 35 Years

Tomatin Distillery is located in the Monadhliath Mountains just south of Inverness, capital of the Highlands of Scotland. Established in 1897 it is also one of the highest distilleries in Scotland at 315 metres above sea level. They now operate 12 stills, with a total capacity to just over five million litres, and as of 2007 produced around 2.5 million litres annually. All whisky distilling requires good water and at Tomatin the Alt-na Frith (Free Burn), which springs up deep within the Monadhliath Mountains, supplies the distillery with as much as they need

As an independent bottler, The Whisky Agency aims to source and offer whiskies of maximum drinking quality. They are a group of enthusiasts selecting only such whiskies that they would like to drink themselves – regardless of age, distillery name or cask type & size.

Colour: Burnished gold to amber with very many thick and slow legs. 

Nose: Attractive sweet nose with some alcohol burn (but in a very good way) upfront. This quickly mellows out to allow in some sherried notes, caramel (slightly burnt) and tropical and citrus fruits. Towards the end there are also some lovely Christmas cake fragrances.

Palate: Intense pepper spiciness (tip of tongue) at first, almost feels hot, but with a sweetness to it. One then gets more of the nose again, such as the burnt caramel, Christmas cake (nutmeg, raisins and some cinnamon). A wonderfully complex palate that one should savour.

Finish: Spicy and fruity while also being clean and long. It has a sweet end at the back of ones mouth as well as a warm glow.

Overall: This is a powerful and intense whisky. It has lots of fruit, spice and complexity to it and for me it drinks and feels a lot younger than its actual age. This is one to really sit and appreciate.

My Score: 89

SMWS 76.50 Mortlach 10yo

Now for something a little different for my next review of a 10 year old. The whisky is again from the Speyside region, but it is not a distillery bottling. This time it’s from an independent bottler – The Scotch Malt Whisky Society and their bottling of Mortlach 10yo, bottling/cask number 76.50.

SMWS_10_Mortlach_The Smoky Dram 
Whisky: SMWS 76.50 Mortlach 10yo, 59.8% ABV

Region: Speyside, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: 10 years

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, founded in Edinburgh in 1983, is a membership organisation which bottles and sells single cask, single malt whisky. SMWS purchases individual casks from 129 malt whisky distilleries globally, bottles them and then retails directly to their members.  They also run private members’ rooms in South Africa (SA’s SMWS website) and other international locations. An odd thing about a Society bottling is that they don’t mention the distillery – or at least not in so many words. A number rather than a name denotes each distillery.


Mortlach distillery is found in Dufftown, Scotland with 3 wash stills and 3 spirit stills. Their current capacity is around 2,910,000 litres. Founded in 1823, the creation date is not known for sure, but the licence has been officially delivered in 1823. Amongst the nine distilleries around Dufftown, Mortlach is the oldest one. The second is Glenfiddich, founded by William Grant who was production manager at Mortlach. The distillery is currently owned by Diageo. The whisky is a key component in several Johnnie Walker bottling’s.

Colour: Rich gold to amber.

Nose: An attractive sweet, light and fragrant nose that is beautifully complex. Sweet aromas of vanilla, peppermint crisp chocolate, and fruit cake mix with slight savouriness and smokiness about it like a smoky tea.

Palate: A fairly sharp start (spicy ginger burn on tip of tongue) that drops off very quickly to a sweet, smoky, savoury, and slight spicy palate that coats your mouth. It also has notes of citrus fruits, honey and ginger. The smoke on this is light, not a slap you in the face kind of smoke, making it a very approachable palate.

Body: Medium bodied with lots of thin to medium legs.

Finish: A pleasing lingering dry and warm finish that is sweet and spicy (ginger).

Overall: This is a very approachable and aromatic whisky that has a delightful mouth feel as well as being flavoursome. I would recommend it to anyone who is unsure or wary of trying a whisky from an independent bottler to see what it is all about.

My Score: 87