Blind Whisky Tasting Competition – part 2

Blind Whisky Tasting Competition – part 2

This is my second batch of notes from the Blind Tasting Competition by Bestofwines.

If there’s anything I have learned from this competition, then it’s not how difficult it is to guess the region, distillery, age and ABV of a whisky. It’s certainly a hard task but I knew that already!

No, it’s the fact that there are more under par whiskies out there than I thought, and that bottlers are truly screwing up fine whiskies by keeping them too long or by using certain casks. I may not feature that kind of bottlings enough on my blog because I do some thorough filtering beforehand, but not all that glitters is gold…


Ardnamurchan AD/09.20:01 5 yo 2014/2015 (46,8%, OB 2020, bourbon & sherry casks, 15.978 btl.)

Nose: a slightly meaty spirit, with a lactic note and lightly earthy touches. Then plenty of leaven and chalky notes, with a greasy side too. Also almonds and drops of fruit eau-de-vie. Juniper and spice. It ticks the boxes for Ben Nevis, but it also hints towards Ledaig or even Mortlach in a way.
Mouth: very young spirit, I think, but characterful. Barley eau-de vie with chalky notes, kirsch and plenty of bready notes and herbs. Salinity. Still hints of wet chalk.
Finish: medium long, clean, still quite narrow but a nice profile.

A narrow whisky but one with a fairly big presence again. I kept asking myself whether it was peated or not, but couldn’t really make up my mind. Turns out it’s an equal mix of both spirit styles. I hadn’t tried Ardnamurchan before, so that was impossible to guess. I got the Highlands right though.


Strathmill 11 yo 2009 (47,5%, Càrn Mòr for Whisky Import Netherlands 2020, STR red wine cask, 343 btl.)

Strathmill 2009 Carn MorNose: first impression is that of a sherry bomb, with red fruity notes but also a distinctly floral, fragrant touch. Figs, raspberries, also red fruit gums, later also violets and pine needles. Some herbal notes, like cardamom and rubbed mint leaves. Not really leading to a certain distillery, I’m afraid. Could be sherry or a wine cask…
Mouth: more of this very active wine influence. Fig syrup and milk chocolate, but also plenty of mulched leafy notes. Mid-palate it becomes winey with a green and almost perfumed touch (rose petals). Green walnuts. Herbal and grassy notes. A hint of rubber as well, losing a few points along the way.
Finish: quite long, on liquorice, wood char, roasted nuts and more leafy notes.

A lot of wine notes here, I was thinking of a fortified wine but not sherry. Turns out there was a STR red wine cask involved (full time maturation?). Interesting floral notes but I don’t find the result entirely balanced. I went for Linkwood, but there was little distillery character to be found. Score: 83/100


Ben Nevis 10 yo 2010 (56,7%, The Duchess 2020, Shiraz cask #1800020, 317 btl.)

Ben Nevis 2010 - The DuchessNose: a dirty, vegetal start. Porridge notes, toasted brioche with light spice and citrus notes in the background. Spirit sulfur as well. Sour notes with red berries and earthy undertones. Bloated and unpleasant.
Mouth: rather green and vegetal now, with plenty of soaked grains and porridge notes, as well as leafy notes and more of this meaty, sulfury character. It could be the spirit character, or there’s some wine cask involved. Hints of pepper and liquorice. Overall quite leafy with little fruits and just a hint of vanilla.
Finish: quite long, sour and spicy, with nuts and light tannins.

My lowest score in this competition so far, and the worst Ben Nevis in a very long time. Ruined by the Shiraz in my opinion. Score: 73/100


Littlemill 28 yo 1990 (53,8%, Ian McLeod Chieftain’s 2019, hogshead #103514, 290 btl.)

Littlemill 1990 #103514 - Chieftain'sNose: quite fresh with a fruity core of green apples, melons and yellow plums. Vanilla custard and marshmallow. Some minty notes and plenty of oak shavings, with floral touches and a whiff of acetone.
Mouth: bright and fruity again. Pears, tinned pineapple and stone fruits with vanillin and hints of candyfloss. A little powder sugar. Then lots of grassy spices (pepper, ginger, clove) and a good dose of plain oak which takes down the overall enjoyment. It seems fairly young, from a very active cask.
Finish: quite long, sour and spicy, with nuts and light tannins.

A rather bright whisky, but while there is definitely a fruity core, it’s the big oaky footprint and grassy / floral note that sets the tune. I recognized it as a Lowlands whisky but I would never have guessed Littlemill. Actually it’s one of the least impressive examples I’ve had from this distillery. Still available here and there, for around € 600-800. Score: 82/100