Tasting note: Arran 2000 SMWS 121.101 (17-year-old, "Honey & vanilla roasted rhubarb")

Arran 2000 SMWS 121.101 Honey & vanilla roasted rhubarbColor: Amber

Nose: Makes a pretty sweet entrance with vanilla, honey and bananas leading the way. This is accompanied by a slight spiciness and sourness that's well-described by the "rhubarb" reference in the whisky's name. Water adds ginger into the mix. The banana is more prominent now.

Taste: Bitter-sweet grapefruits and sour rhubarb, not much else so far to be honest. Let's add water... There's a bit of vanilla, caramel and dry oak now. Still mostly bitter and sour though.

Finish: Medium in length, dominated by bitter citrus fruits... bitter lemon?

Comments: Slightly off-balance whisky from the "Spicy & dry" category at SMWS. Certainly not a bad whisky, although it could have benefited from sweeter notes as a counterweight to its sharpness on the palate.

Rating: I rated this whisky 81 out of 100.
(Nose 21, Taste 21, Finish 20, Balance 19)

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Tasting note: Cragganmore 2004 SMWS 37.90 (12-year-old, "The path less trodden")

Cragganmore 2004 SMWS 37.90 "The path less trodden"Color: Chestnutoloroso sherry

Nose: Spices, cinnamon and glue. Behind that, vanilla. I didn't notice any change after adding water.

Taste: Spicy chilli and curry come first for me, followed by sweet oak notes and orange peel. No considerable change in taste with water, but the mouth feel gets thicker, stickier.

Finish: Long with orange peel, spices and caramelised sugar.

Comments: Okay-ish dram that doesn't quite fit into SMWS's category of "Deep, rich & dried fruits", in my humble opinion. More like "Spicy & sweet".

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

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Tasting note: Highland Park 17-year-old, "The Dark"

Highland Park "The Dark" 17-year-oldColor: Russetmuscat

Nose: Soft peat, salt and sweet dried fruits alongside a strong ginger spiciness and wooden notes. Hints of citrus. Water tames the spiciness by bringing out notes of vanilla and cherry.

Taste: Creamy mouth feel with salty liquorice, malt and lots of dried fruits. Nice. I like it better with a few drops of water though as it gets even creamier and slightly less salty.

Finish: Long. Sweet, then quite peppery. Later, dry oak and bitterness.

Comments: Very fine whisky by Highland Park. Calling it a "limited bottling" when there are 28,000 bottles is bad marketing and the price is too high, in my opinion, but that shouldn't dilute the fact that "The Dark" is a yummy dram. Liked it quite a bit.

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

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Tasting note: Longmorn 1992 SMWS 7.180 (25-year-old, "Untold stories")

Color: Amber

Nose: Started off with biting aromas so I gave it a good 20 minutes to breath. Upon coming back to it, it was a lot calmer but still relatively spicy with chilli and cinnamon. Hints of fresh fruits, green apples. There is vanilla too, but it remains in the background. Water brings the vanilla out more strongly. There is more sweetness alongside the tamed spices now, reminiscent of gingerbread. After another ten minutes, it got rounder still, with more wooden aromas, hints of tobacco and sweet honey melon.

Taste: First sip and I like it better on the palate already, although the mouth feel is thin. There is lots of wood, some vanilla. Spices come through still, especially pepper and chilli. The addition of water cannot quite make those spices disappear, but they're brought down somewhat. It's fruitier now and slightly creamy... dark chocolate with cherry and pepper.

Finish: Long with wood, tobacco and bitter dark chocolate.

Comments: Complex Speyside whisky from the "Old & dignified" category at SMWS. It benefits from both water and time. In fact, it changes quite a bit every ten minutes or so. If it wasn't for the spices that are a bit too dominant for my taste, this could have been a superb dram in my book.

Rating: I rated this whisky 85 out of 100.
(Nose 22, Taste 22, Finish 21, Balance 20)

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Tasting note: Glenfarclas 21-year-old

Glenfarclas 21-year-oldColor: Deep copper

Nose: Fresh fruits with green apples, oranges and, somewhat sweeter, ripe pineapples. The nose also has a minty freshness to it, but it's well-balanced alongside hints of sugary cinnamon spices.

Taste: This is where the whisky's sherried character becomes apparent. Dried fruits with orange peel, vanilla and toffee. Again, hints of mint. You can tell this is a mature whisky as it got quite a bit of cask influence (hints of oak) even though it was not bottled at cask strength.

Finish: Long with oak and a slightly bitter ginger spiciness.

Comments: Wonderfully crafted and well-balanced whisky that only improves if given enough time to breath. Not as much cask influence or as sherried as the 25-year-old, but its light sherry character works nicely alongside the fresh fruity notes this dram has to offer. The fact that it is very fairly priced makes it all the more appealing, especially for those who would not otherwise be able to afford a 21-year-old single malt whisky.

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

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