Over the years I’ve been drinking Single Malt Whisky I have discovered that some of my all time favourite drams have been aged around 15 years old. Whisky of this age is often well rounded and full bodied, but still has a bit of an edge, whisky should have a bit of an edge. Also, I’ve noticed more that a lot of people agree with me, our customers, all of whom are gifted amateurs, as well as industry experts.

So, we selected some great whiskies of around this age, and shared them.

The Line Up

Arran 14 y/o – 46%     more info

I have a soft spot for Arran Distillery as it first ran on 29th June 1995 – my 30th birthday, it was founded by Harold Currie who wanted to make a light delicate whisky, unlike a lot of the other island whiskies. Harold died in March 2016 aged 91.

In 2016, they doubled the number of stills to 4 which increased production to 1.2m litres.

This is the 14 y/o – nicely rounded.

 

Glen Scotia – 15 y/o – 46%     more info

Situated in Campbeltown, used to be the whisky capital of the world, had 33 distilleries it went down to just 2, Springbank and this one Glen Scotia. Actually, the number of distilleries went down to just 1 because Glen Scotia was closed between 1984 and 1989, and between 1994 and 1999.

Glen Scotia was brought by Loch Lomond Distillers in 1999 – who reopened it, initially using staff from Springbank to run it. From May 2000, it has run with its own staff. Been upgraded and renovated over the last couple of years, and is now a smallish distillery producing 800,000 litres a year.

The owners of Loch Lomond Distillers changed in 2014, and since then all their whiskies have been good.

This is their 15 y/o – I’m a big fan.

Happy Guests

Tomatin 14 – Port Wood Finish – 46%

more info

Tomatin was founded in 1897 situated 16 miles south of Inverness in the Monadhliath Mountains. In the mid 80’s Tomatin was the largest Malt Distillery in Scotland with 23 stills, supplying bulk malt for blending mainly to the Japanese Market. They went spectacularly bust in 1985. They were brought out by a consortium formed by two of its customers, becoming the first Scottish Distillery to be owned by the Japanese. – Takara Shuzo Co. & Okara Co. The Japanese very much leave the management at the distillery to run it how they see fit with very little interference from “head office”.

A few years ago, they switched their emphasis from blended whisky to Single malts, with great results, each bottling has just got better and better.

This is a Port Wood Finish – 14 y/o so it was 14 before the whisky went into the port casks. It has a lot more depth than other Port Finishes I’ve tried - due to age.

 

Mortlach – 15y/o – 43% 

The oldest distillery in Dufftown – the heart of Speyside. Founded in 1823 – quite big 3.8m litres a year owned by Diageo. Mortlach produces a heavy, rich, meaty spirit which really benefits from a bit of extra maturation, so a 15-year-old Mortlach is perfect.

The distillery has 6 stills all slightly different – so they can vary the style of the spirit a little. The smallest Spirit still is called The Wee Witchy – it was named in the 1960’s by the Distillery Manager John Winton, due to its fat rounded base with a pointy top.

How it works:

Wash still and spirt still No3 work together as normal. Low wines from no1 & no2 wash stills are split – the first, strongest, 80% of the run goes into spirit still no2. The weaker 20%, called weak feints, go into The Wee Witchy, where they are distilled 3 times with the middle cut being taken at the 3rd run.

They always have at least 1 charge from The Wee Witchy in the spirit receiver when they fill casks. They calculate that the spirit is distilled 2.81 times! Mortlach also use worm tubs to condense, have tight angled Lyne arms and run the stills fast – which also contributed to the whisky being heavy.

 

Benromach 15y/o – 43%   more info

Benromach was originally opened in 1898, it was closed by owners United Distillers, in 1983. In 1993, it was brought by the Urquhart family, owners of Independent Bottlers Gordon & MacPhail. The distillery had been stripped of equipment so they had to start from scratch.

A lot of Speyside Distillers had lightened up their styles in the 1960’s, what they wanted to do with Benromach was produce a whisky which was more like those made on the fifties and forties, bigger body, smoky, more depth. Gordon and MacPhail had whisky that was from the 40’s and 50’s, and whisky that had been bottled in that period, so knew exactly what they wanted. The distillery is small, producing about 800,000 litres a year on a small pair of stills. Small stills give a meatier, more complex spirit.

This is the 15 y/o – it’s the favourite of Keith Cruickshank the Distillery Manager.

 

Lagavulin 16 y/o – 43%.   more info

A legendary distillery from a legendary Isle – the magical isle of Islay. Founded in 1816 by John Johnson, capacity of 2.5m litres, 1 pair of stills. In the second half of the 19th Century and early 20th Century the distillery was owned by Peter Mackie, famous for White Horse Blend. Mackie died in 1924, and White Horse Distillers became part of the Distillers Company in 1927. This later became UDL, and then Diageo. Lagavulin’s stills have a very sharp angel on the Lyne Arms - so the spirit is big bodied and heavy. The peatyness of a whisky comes from the Smokey barley, so the older the whisky, the more wood influence, less barley. It is, therefore, not easy to get a well-rounded, older, peaty whisky. Lagavulin do this really well, they use re-fill (second fill) ex-sherry casks. The wood imparts its flavour slowly so none of the peaty barley flavour is compromised.