Signatory

Review: Laphroaig 1995 Vintage Cask Strength (Signatory) by Jason Hambrey

ABV
58.1%
Aging
16 Yrs; Ex-Bourbon
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Laphroaig (Port Ellen, Scotland)

I don’t see many independent bottlings of Laphroaig – but I don’t have access to many independent bottlings at all, so this is rather interesting. I do love Laphroaig - but I like the richness that comes at younger ages of Laphroaig. So we shall see:


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A (58.1%)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2011

The nose is soapy, with charred chickpeas, dried apple, blueberry, smoked dried fish, and lots of cinnamon. It is rich and earthy. The palate is sweet, rich, and very peaty. Quite elegant for a Laphroaig – it isn’t the smokiest, but the earthiness is there, through and through. It is quite sweet. A terrific finish – spicy, rich, and deep, with a nice integration of dried betties and loads of chocolate.

One of the more floral Laphroaigs that I’ve tasted, and it’s very good.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: N/A


Review: Caol Ila 2006 Aged 12 Years (Signatory Vintage Cask Strength) by Jason Hambrey

Caol Ila Signatory Vintage 2006 (2).jpg
ABV
56.7%
Aging
12 years; refill hogshead
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Caol Ila (Port Askaig, Scotland)

Another Signatory Caol Ila, this time a cask strength 12 year old matured in a hogshead - 246 bottles produced.


Review (2020)

  • Batch: Cask 311566

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

Intense marine notes, dried fruit notes, light sherry notes (oxidized wine), smoking leaves, decomposing vegetation, cowlicks, rockpools, preserved lemon, peach jam, blanched almonds, and even some thyme. With time, dried fruit, in growing proportion. The palate is smoky, earthy, and with some more mineral notes, molasses, and dark chocolate. Some macadamia nuts, darkly roasted almonds, and black pepper, too. And – a bit of intense dried floral notes (lavender). The finish is rich, earthy, and peaty – with the mineral character coming through still and a bit of oxidized wine. It has an enduring dryness to it.  Excellent stuff, it really is.
Takes water very well.


Very Highly Recommended (19% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).
Value:
Low, based on $153.


Review: Caol Ila 9 Year Old 2009 Islay Single Malt (Signatory) by Jason Hambrey

Caol Ila Signatory 2009 2.jpg
ABV
43%
Aging
9 years; refill hogsheads
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Caol Ila (Port Askaig, Scotland)

This whisky is nearly clear, which I love because it means there hasn’t been too much cask influence and I get to really taste the distillery character. Looking forward to this!


Review (2020)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2019

The colour on this is almost clear – like the lightest of white wines. It’s a hogshead, but must be well used….
Great nose. Dense smoke, toffee, cinnamon, lemon, and smoke are so nicely balanced. The smoke is so prevalent, front and centre…just awesome. We also have some nice farmy and medicinal characteristics – no surprise there. And some younger notes, and unique ones, like pancake batter and freshly blanched broccoli, nearly undercooked. The palate is smoky, slightly citrusy, with more toffee, vanilla, woodsmoke, mulberries, white pepper, and blueberry bushes. Nice and ashy. The finish is lightly smoky, with some pickled lemon, malty notes, clove, cardboard, and maltesers.


Caol Ila distillate, relatively pure. Nicely done!

Highly Recommended (50% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).
Value:
Average, based on $110.


Review: Miltonduff 1995 18 Years Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky (Signatory) by Jason Hambrey

ABV
46%
Aging
18 Years Ex-Bourbon
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Miltonduff (Elgin, Scotland)

Miltonduff was the second distillery bought by Hiram Walker in 1936 after acquiring Ballantine's, who changed their style from a light, triple-distilled spirit to something akin to what is produced now. It is a major player in Ballantine’s blends. Like Hiram Walker distillery, this is all owned by Pernod Ricard now.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: Casks 4112, 4113, 4114 (all ex-bourbon)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2014

Some really nice sherry here – or so I thought at first -  having a bit of an aged character (i.e., it is more like a well-aged sherry than a lightly aged one). But that fades – it isn’t quite a rancio character but almost – that oak must have done some interesting work. It’s quite fresh, with lots of rich dried fruit – and some nice white grape I often find in Canadian but not often in Scotch. Some pear, hay, and dust too – porridge, custard which grows with time.

The palate is quite grassy, and fairly rich, with a good kick of malt coming in and finishing gradually as the grassy malt unfolds with light vanilla, beeswax, dried peaches, roasted black pepper, and cinnamon. Lightly tannic on the end – I was expecting something a bit different! Less sherry on the palate than the nose. Pleasing barley and earthiness on the finish, and some dried peach and dried pineapple. The malt, throughout, is actually quite brilliant and dense – I am quite enjoying this.

Intriguing, too, particularly with how all the earthy notes fit in to the fruit and the malt. Not detracting, for sure. 

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, based on $93.


Caol Ila 31 Year Old 1983 Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky (Signatory Cask Strength Collection) by Jason Hambrey

ABV
49.6%
Aging
31 years; Sherry Cask
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Caol Ila (Port Askaig, Scotland)

Some of these old Caol Ilas are absolute beauties. This was matured from November of 1983 to Febuary of 2015.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: Cask 5298

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2015

Here we have an interesting mix, and age has certainly transformed this one. Light rancio, oak embers, dried peach, dried mango, plump currants (as in cooked oatmeal), custard, and some nice oaky earthiness. Again, not overly peaty – much of the minearlity, smokiness, and marine character of the peat is quite muted.

The palate turns out a bit better with the nose, with some good quality peaty ash and burning embers playing the primary roles, with light dried fruit and oak besides. The finish is tannic with peat, spice, and some good minerality , earthiness and light custard. Beautiful mouthfeel. Some brilliant oak at the end.

The cask, it would seem, hasn’t done this one too well – it all feels a bit flat – the cask, it would seem, may be tired here. I say this partially because the older Caol Ila’s can be among the best and I’d always be eager to try them.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). It’s a good whisky, but I was a bit dissapointed. There are some fantastic old Caol Ila’s out there, and this one isn’t bad, but you can do better.

Value: Low. For me, 300$ is the price of my perfect whisky, and I don’t like buying whiskies generally over 100$ unless they are really good. This one is nearly double 300$.