Tasting note: Laphroaig 15-year-old (bottled ~2006)

Laphroaig 15-year-oldColor: Amber

Nose: Instantly medicinal and oily. Seaweed and gasoline with a touch of smoke... I'm thinking of an industrial port and machines with big diesel engines. Not exactly a flattering imagery, I know. Luckily sweet caramel comes along and saves the day.

Taste: Mild peat, gentle and sweet. Perhaps a little tame. Still medicinal though and a bit rubbery. I also find hints of grapefruit, but I remain unimpressed.

Finish: Long. Medicinal notes with salt and fresh herbs.

Comments: Disappointing on the palate, although nose and finish were certainly okay. In terms of balance, it was too heavy on the medicinal side for my taste. Average. With that in mind, I find the 15yo pricey on the aftermarket now that it has been discontinued.

Rating: I rated this whisky 80 out of 100.
(Nose 21, Taste 19, Finish 20, Balance 20)

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Tasting note: Bruichladdich Br7 (2001/2017, 16-year-old, Elements of Islay)

Bruichladdich Br7 Elements of IslayColor: Burnt umber

Nose: Okay, this one is different. There is lots of smoked bacon but also some kind of funkiness... mould cheese. Thankfully I get more sweetness after a short while, honey and ripe berries. The sherry hogsheads, shy at first, are finally revealing themselves.

Taste: Rich but not overwhelmingly strong despite the 60.4% alcohol content. Nice mouth feel. It has a creamy sweetness to it that I associate with honey again, as well as vanilla and notes of dried fruits. Add to that a pinch of salt. Interesting.

Finish: Sweet first, the vanilla is stronger now. Dry later with cigar smoke.

Comments: This is a very fine whisky. It's complex and interesting especially in the nose and mouth. I'd say it's well-balanced between peat and sweetness, too. It offers quite a few aromas and tastes to explore, but neither of them is too present by itself. The initial cheese smell isn't for me really, but it ended up working rather well once the bourbon barrel and sherry casks kicked in.

Rating: I rated this whisky 89 out of 100.
(Nose 22, Taste 23, Finish 21, Balance 23)

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Tasting note: Glenrothes 1990 SMWS 30.95 (26-year-old, "Opera in sequins")

Glenrothes 1990 SMWS 30.95Color: Old gold

Nose: Biting and spicy at first, becomes more gentle after ten minutes in the glass. Cinnamon with timid hints of vanilla. Earthy nuts. (Water brings out more of the sweet vanilla. There's a fruitiness now, too. Dark cherry jam.)

Taste: Warms the mouth in a pleasant way. Slightly sweet with vanilla again, paired with walnuts beneath a prominent spicy note. (With water it is sweeter. Definitely dark cherries now. Together with the nuts it reminds me of Black Forest gateau. Hints of coffee, too.)

Finish: Long. Relatively sweet at first, dry later with smoky tobacco.

Comments: This is one of those whiskies that gain from resting in the glass. Water improved it for me as well. It became softer yet more complex, with the aromas easier to distinguish from one another. I'd say it's a challenging whisky... it certainly was for me. Luckily it is also really good.

Rating: I rated this whisky 89 out of 100.
(Nose 22, Taste 23, Finish 22, Balance 22)

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Tasting note: Glen Elgin 1991 IM (24-year-old, Dun Bheagan)

Glen Elgin 1991 IM (24yo, Dun Bheagan)Color: Tawny

Nose: The sherry comes out strong and with it the typical aroma of dried fruits. A lot of sweetness, I'm thinking of apples and prunes that have been lying on the ground for awhile. Mellow oak lingers in the background. (With water: Hints of freshly cut oranges.)

Taste: Spicy at first, you can tell this was bottled at cask strength. Not too strong though as it's oily and velvety in the mouth. Many fruity notes again, notably sweet strawberries. It has something creamy... strawberry and vanilla milkshake? (Having rested in the glass a little longer, with water: Definitely oranges now. Strikes a nice balance with the soft taste of oak.)

Finish: Best described as long-lasting sweetness. More oak later as the mouth gets dry.

Comments: Fine example of a sherried cask strength whisky. It might seem heavy on the sweet side at first, but it certainly gains from letting it rest in the glass for some minutes. The careful addition of water tamed the prominent sweetness and brought pleasant citrus notes to light.

Rating: I rated this whisky 89 out of 100.
(Nose 22, Taste 22, Finish 23, Balance 22)

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Tasting note: Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban (12-year-old, 3rd edition)

Glenmorangie Quinta RubanColor: Mahogany

Nose: Starts out pretty fresh, even a little bit sour. Then sweet grapes come out strong along with plums and dark berries as well as shy vanilla and cocoa aromas that make it interesting.

Taste: Fruity and sweet. Definitely raspberries. Grapes again. It's well worth taking a big sip and keeping the whisky in your mouth for a couple of seconds. Very gentle mouth feel, as is typical for many Glenmorangie whiskies. This one is nicely balanced between grapes and oak. The port finish adds just enough complexity to make it worthwhile yet accessible to those still getting started with single malt whiskies.

Finish: Still fruity but more oak now. A dry taste settles on the palate, the mouth feels oily. The finish is medium in length. Perhaps the finish is a tad weak after the compelling nose and taste, but who wants to nit-pick?

Comments: Complex and very satisfying. The Quinta Ruban stands amongst my favourite Glenmorangies, (almost) up there with the beautiful Signet.

Rating: I rated this whisky 87 out of 100.
(Nose 22, Taste 22, Finish 21, Balance 22)

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