Longmorn 12 year old

Bottled by Gordon & MacPhail

One evening, well over a year ago, I was browsing the online catalogue of a major drinks retailer when I spotted a few whiskies in their ‘Clearance’ section. One of them happened to be this 12 year old Longmorn bottled by Gordon & MacPhail, so I picked it up for around the AU$50 mark and thought I’d give it a go.

Longmorn bottle

Aside from the official 16 year old (which is the only current official bottling), we don’t really see that many Longmorn expressions in Australia, not even indie bottles. The distillery itself has quite a high capacity (around 3.5 million litres per year) with most of it destined for Pernod Ricard blends, like the Chivas range. With a production capacity of that size, there seems to be plenty of whisky going to the independent bottlers out there and some of them are bottling expressions that are well worth trying! (I’ve tried some fantastic Longmorn in the past).

Longmorn 12

Not an awful lot of information on this one apart from the 12 year age statement and 40% ABV. I’m almost certain it’s been chill-filtered and if I had to guess, I’d say it’s more than likely made up of refill bourbon casks with a smattering of refill sherry casks in there. I’d probably consider this to be somewhat of an entry level malt if you will.


On the nose I got all of those classic soft Speyside notes like green pears and apples, freshly cut grass, some light zesty notes and a mild honey sweetness. There’s also a hint of funky cardboard.

Very thin on the palate, with some mild baking spices up front, followed up green apples, some barley/cereal maltiness and a hint of marmalade. It finishes quite dry with some oaky spice and powdered ginger, whilst that cardboard note from the nose seems to work its way in there too. Overall I found it very mild and mellow with lots of soft pleasant notes, but also a couple of oddities that unbalanced it slightly.

Longmorn box

The bottom line

It’s not the most complex dram (but then again, I wasn’t expecting it to be), but it’s still quite an enjoyable, light, summertime whisky. I’d probably consider it as a pleasant alternative to the likes of the Glenmorangie 10 year old, or Glenfiddich/Glenlivet 12 year olds, perhaps a tad less-refined though. Nice work Gordon & MacPhail, looking forward to trying more from your range in the near future!

The Balvenie TUN 1401 gets a new sibling?

The Balvenie Tun 1509 and other new offerings from William Grant & Sons

It looks like the good folks at William Grant & Sons have been rather busy of late. If these label approvals are anything to go by, we might be able to expect a couple of new offerings from two of their stalwart distilleries, plus a well-aged offering from one of their a rarely seen, long-closed distilleries.

The Balvenie TUN 1509

First up is The Balvenie TUN 1509 – a younger brother to the fabled TUN 1401 perhaps?


‘Younger’ is purely my own speculation. But given the average age of the various TUN 1401 batches is often around the 30 year mark, I can’t imagine The Balvenie would be releasing another vatted malt into their line-up that was any older.

We’ve seen nine batches from the TUN 1401 series now and the Taiwanese exclusive TUN 1858 has also seen two releases over the last few years. So what to make of this latest release? A third permanent offering in the revered TUN series? A replacement for the others? Your guess is as good as mine, but there’s one thing we can be fairly sure of, and that’s the fact that this will fly off shelves.

Glenfiddich ‘The Original’

This next one sounds like an interesting concept. As you’ll read on the label, Glenfiddich looks to be releasing a new no age statement expression inspired by their original Straight Malt. If you’re unsure of the significance, in 1963 the Glenfiddich Straight Malt was pretty much the first single malt whisky to be actively branded as such and exported around the world.


Although label details have only recently been released, I came across this curious blog post which indicates that this project may have been in the works for a number of years. Was the Glenfiddich ‘The Original’ tested on distillery visitors under the working title of Glenfiddich ‘Retro’? It certainly sounds like it!

Ladyburn ‘More than 40 years old’

If you’ve never heard of Ladyburn, there’s a pretty good reason for that. The final casks of this Lowland malt were laid down 39 years ago, back in 1975. Adding to that, the distillery itself was operational for a mere 9-10 years in total.


From what I can tell, the last official release was a 1973 Ladyburn bottled back in the year 2000 at 50.4% ABV. Aside from a handful of independent bottlings since (sometimes under the name Rare Ayrshire), this is malt that’s rarely seen indeed.

Nice to see a new official bottling of Ladyburn from William Grant & Sons, but some might find the 40% ABV a tad disappointing (if indeed, that’s what it ends up being).

Aberlour 16 year old double cask

16 years old, 43% ABV, Oloroso and American Oak casks, Speyside, Scotland

The Aberlour distillery is nestled away in the Speyside region of Scotland in the town of Aberlour – a couple of minutes down the road from Craigellachie.

Aberlour 16

Interestingly though, on the package of the 16 year old double cask, Aberlour refer to themselves as both a Highland and Speyside distillery.

Aberlour 16 tube

The bright copper-coloured 16 year old double cask pictured here is a marriage of two different whiskies.

Aberlour take a whisky that’s been maturing for at least 16 years in first-fill Oloroso sherry casks and a whisky that’s been maturing for at least 16 years in first-fill American Oak. The two are then married together for a period of around three months in a marrying tun before being bottled as the 16 year old double cask.

Aberlour 16 seal

Just as you’re about to open the bottle for the first time, you’re met with this little paper seal scribed with a simple description of what you’re about to taste. I think it’s a nice little touch. (In case you’re wondering, the liquid inside does indeed live up to the description – read on)

Did you know…

The town of Aberlour is also the home of Walker’s Shortbread. I don’t know about your part of the world, but at home in Sydney, there always seemed to be a tin or box of Walker’s Shortbread in our house around Christmas time. Might have to pair one with a dram of Aberlour 16 to see how it goes!


Initially quite fresh and floral – notes of soft vanilla, light spice, green apples, citrus and gentle sweetness. The nose sweetens after some glass/air time with some malty honey notes showing and something a bit zesty and bitter – orange marmalade comes to mind. A pretty well balanced nose in my opinion.


A nice medium oily mouth feel on entry – it has a nice weight to it for a 43% whisky. Gentle spice and sweetness come out first, followed by some of those citrus/bitter marmalade flavours. The sweetness and vanilla aren’t as strong as I would have expected from the nose, but they’re still there.  Overall, quite light and soft on the palate.


The 16 year old finishes with medium warmth and light malty sweetness contrasted with a fair bit of oaky bitter spice.


With little debate, the cask strength A’bunadh is the most well-known and talked about whisky in Aberlour’s current line up. But I think this is a really underrated gem and one that’s definitely worth exploring.

If A’bunadh is the heavyweight bigger brother packed with boisterous pointed flavours, then the 16 year old double cask is its nimbler sibling with rounder, softer, more harmonious flavours. A well-made high quality whisky at a pretty good price point.

If you’re a fan of A’bunadh and have been wondering about the other offerings in the Aberlour stable – maybe it’s time you gave the 16 year old double cask a go.

As a random side note, this bottle has to have the best sealing cork I’ve come across!

The Glenlivet 12 year old

12 years old, 40% ABV, American and European Oak, Speyside, Scotland

When I was putting together my Christmas whisky tasting kits, I wanted to start everyone off with a really approachable, classic single malt – to provide them with something of a base line I suppose.

Realising I didn’t seem to have anything that met the criteria that well, I tracked down this little 200ml (20cl) bottle of The Glenlivet 12 year old. There happened to be a couple drams worth left after I’d put the kits together, so I thought I’d review it!

Glenlivet 12

Despite being a mini version, the bottle and label design holds true to the 700ml version of the 12 year old – just in miniature form.

Glenlivet 12 notes

Just like the tasting notes found on the back of the 18 year old I reviewed a little earlier, there are some notes on the back of this mini box for the 12 year old. Again, I’m not sure I completely agree with all of them, but they are a nice touch and fun to compare to.

Did you  know…

In my review of the 18 year old, I mentioned that I was looking into the origins of The Glenlivet’s thistle motif. I reached out to some people that work at the distillery’s visitors centre and asked them about the origin of the thistle logo and it turns out that they’re not entirely sure why it’s there either! All I can tell you is that it appeared in the 1970’s and has been there ever since.

It does seem to be a common theme among many business names and logos in Moray (where the distillery is located), so perhaps there’s some connection there?


I got a big hit of green apples – but in an apple cider kind of way. Quite drying, with some citrus and a light sweetness.  The more I nosed this, the more I kept thinking that it reminded me of a sauvignon blanc – it’s a very delicate nose. When left to sit in the glass, the nose does sweeten up a bit and those crisp dry cider notes fall away a bit.


Quite thin feeling in the mouth, with sweet and citrusy notes immediately apparent. These were followed by some hints of vanilla and a bit of spicy bitterness – almost like citrus fruit pith.


Quite short, but also quite a pleasant finish. As the finish fades, I got some stronger vanilla notes (which were nice) and some oaky bitter spice at the front of the tongue, right towards the end.


This expression is matured in a mixture of cask types, including American and European Oak. It’s fairly one dimensional and not overly complex in flavour, but like all Glenlivet’s I’ve tasted, it’s a good quality, reliable whisky. A really pleasant, light, pre-dinner dram.

The Glenlivet 18 year old

18 years old, 43% ABV, American & European Oak, Speyside, Scotland 

One of the first single malts I ever owned was The Glenlivet 18 year old. A few years back I had family travelling through London and they knew I had a thing for whisky. They kindly picked up a bottle for me, opting for something they’d heard of, so I was pretty chuffed when this arrived.

Glenlivet 18

One thing you note when you pick up this bottle is how solid it is. The box is made of sturdy matte-finished card and the bottle of heavy glass – complete with a thick base reminiscent of a quality whisky tumbler.

Glenlivet 18 box

The rear of the box has a few paragraphs on the founding history of The Glenlivet (not shown), along with these tasting notes. I’m not sure I agree with all of the notes, but they’re a nice touch and it’s fun to have something to compare against.

Glenlivet thistle

The Glenlivet thistle motif (I’m pretty sure it’s a thistle) can be found in numerous places on the bottle and packaging. I’ve contacted The Glenlivet to try and find out its significance, but nothing to report just yet.

Did you know… 

To protect their stocks from the risk of fire, The Glenlivet store their maturing casks – they currently have over 65,000 – in a number of different locations all over Scotland.


Quite a soft nose with hints of apples, pears and really muted sherry notes. There are some floral notes hidden in there and traces of spice. I also get an intriguing sourness, almost like a sour apple candy or maybe apple cider vinegar.

After a good 15 to 20 minutes in the glass the nose shows some mildly sweet notes to go along with the sourness (reminds me of a Fino sherry).


Starts with an oily, tongue coating mouth feel of soft fruit sweetness which gives way to some spice. I got some bitter nutty notes in the background, almost like citrus peel and almonds. Quite a nice balance between sweet, sour and spice.


A mid length finish with some throat warmth, lingering creamy mouth feel (from the American Oak I suspect) and a drying oak bitterness with hints of spice.


After I received this bottle I went on to buy other things and so it remained unopened for quite a while. Looking back on it, that was probably a good thing as I don’t know I would have fully appreciated it straight away.

Despite the liquid amber-ish colour which suggests a noticeable sherry influence, I found The Glenlivet 18 year old to be a rather light and delicate whisky, with a surprisingly complex nose.