Tomatin 1990 (The Whisky Agency)

Another release from the Winter 2020 series from The Whisky Agency: Tomatin 1990, after 30 years of ageing in a hogshead.

The inofficial name of the series is Keep going, as each label contains a curious, busy character with some kind of briefcase, going up and down but never stopping for obstacles.


Tomatin 30 yo 1990 (48,9%, The Whisky Agency 2020, hogshead, 180 btl.)

Nose: a really fruity profile, lots of bananas, pears, oranges and greengages. Some vanilla and honey. Faint hints of polished oak, as well as whiffs of menthol. There’s often a wee grassy / green side to Tomatin whiskies but here this is almost not detectable. Simply very pleasant.

Mouth: a juicy fruit salad again. Oranges and (green) bananas again, but now also hints of guava and passion fruits. Some lime and grapefruit. Very bright. In a second wave I get more floral honey and soft caramelized almonds. Still very little (minty) oak.

Finish: medium, with more fruits, citrus zest, a hint of caraway seed and finally also a touch of oak.

Utterly fruity Tomatin. After the myriad of 1976 masterpieces around 2010-2012 we had lost interest in this distillery a little, but this is very beautiful and harmonious, recommended. Around € 415.

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2020 Review

And now for the Laphroaig Cairdeas 2020. This annual release comes from whisky that was separately aged in ex-Bourbon and 2nd -Fill Ruby Port barriques. Those whiskies were blended together and left to marry and finish in red wine casks. Laphroaig had me at ruby port, but the red-wine marriage got me more intrigued than usual.

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2020 Review

Ever since the Laphroaig Cairdeas 2013 I’ve been enamored with these annual releases and usually end up buying at least 2 more after trying the first one. The only ones I haven’t done this with were the Cairdeas 2014 Amontillado and the Cairdeas 2018 Fino Cask. Though I more than made up for those with the Cairdeas 2016 Madeira Cask and the stunning Cairdeas 2015. So… where will this one fit?


Laphroaig Cairdeas 2020 – Details and Tasting Notes


Whiskey Details

Region: Islay, Scotland

Distiller: Laphroaig
Mash Bill: 100% Malted Barley
Cask: ex-Bourbon, 2nd-Fill Ruby Port Barriques,  ex-Red Wine
Age: NAS
ABV: 52%

Cask Strength | Non-Chill Filtered | Natural Color

Batch: 2020

Price: $90

White background tasting shot with the Laphroaig Cairdeas 2020 bottle and a glass of whiskey next to it.
“Our 2020 annual release of Laphroaig Càirdeas, Port & Wine Casks, continues our long history of innovation. A unique marriage of our classic Laphroaig whisky rested in second-fill Ruby Port ‘barriques’ along with whisky double matured in ex-Bourbon barrels followed by ex-red wine casks. Soft, round and warming, it’s an incredible ‘friendship’ that charts continents, styles and flavours.” – Laphroaig

Tasting Notes

Ruby caramel

Smoke, leather, dried dark fruit, candied citrus, vanilla candy, malt, mulled wine, hazelnuts, herbal, plasticy, oily, sooty and earthy.

Smoke, malty sweet, strawberry shortcake, malty-hay, saline, herbal, copper, black licorice, sweat, vanilla frosting and candied citrus.

Long -> BBQ meat, freeze-dried strawberries, coppery wine.

Good, full-round, heavy oily.

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2020 – Overall

Aroma is BBQ meat on leathery dark fruit with a candied citrus pop and light earthy notes that pull it all together into a shifting and engaging olfactory experience; Palate is like having the best strawberry shortcake you can imagine after eating perfectly grilled sardines; Finish is a touch smoky and that last, semi-metallic, sip of a red wine that’s sat out a bit too long.

This is weird, this is funky, this is unusual and over the course of two weeks, I went from feeling ambivalent to loving it.

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2020 – Final Thoughts and Score

Ok, this is tasty and I’m going to need to pick up another one… or two… I need to check to see how many K&L have in stock. This is intensely flavorful and aromatic and shockingly easy to drink. Though a bit of water does help it along and brings out an added note of applewood smoked bacon which rises from the ambiguous BBQ note like a pork phoenix from ex-bourbon ashes.

Though what I think I love most about the Laphroaig Cairdeas 2020 is the way flavors and aromas clash and complement at the same time. Char, fruit and nuttiness battle and meet up with wine and port sweetness who all try to dominate the French pastry notes – yet never succeed. So they all decide to get along and present a whisky that’s chaotic but good-natured. A whisky I end up enjoying more and more with each sip. Delicious.

SCORE: 4/5

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2020 Back Label

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2020 Review


This is a Scotch drinker’s Scotch. It’s unique, interesting and pulls through in such a way that it’s hard to fully pin down and that’s what’s exciting about it. It’s a challenge that’s worth the work.


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Laphroaig 16 Years Limited Edition Review

Here. We. Go… with the tasting and review of the Laphroaig 16 Years Limited Edition. Tad dramatic on the opening I know, but this is a whisky that’s worth the drama. Why? Because it’s good. Dang good, darn good… damn good. SorryNotSorry for the spoiler, but I’m such a fan of this I can’t keep it inside.

Laphroaig 16 Years Limited Edition Review

The older I get, the more I love ex-Bourbon whiskey and this is 16 years of ex-Bourbon Laphroaig goodness. So, let’s get to it.


Laphroaig 16 Years Limited Edition – Details and Tasting Notes


Whiskey Details

Region: Islay, Scotland

Distiller: Laphroaig
Mash Bill: 100% Malted Barley
Cask: ex-Bourbon
Age: 16 Years
ABV: 48%

Non-Chill Filtered | Natural Color

Price: $140

White background tasting shot with the Laphroaig 16 Years Limited Edition bottle and a glass of whiskey next to it.
“For our 200 year anniversary, we created a limited edition 16 Year Old expression. It was incredibly well-received, so we have decided to release another iteration. This remarkable dram has spent 16 years waiting patiently in ex-Bourbon barrels – giving a leather and vanilla sweetness to complement our signature rich and smoky style. Perfect for the long evenings of late summer and into cosier nights of Autumn.” – Laphroaig

Tasting Notes

Apple juice

Peat, grilled apples, vanilla-laced French Pastries, honey, juicy pears, herbal and touches of plastic, iodine, oak and meaty notes.

Briny, smokey, fruity, vanilla-laced French Pastries, graham, smoke, copper, spice and grilled meat with a bit of barley water.

Long -> Smoke, malt, vanilla saltwater taffy and minerality.

Great, full round, sweet warm oily

Laphroaig 16 Years Limited Edition – Overall

Aroma is smoky, coastal, and fresh pastries married by an underlying fruity dessert sweetness and earthy oakiness; Palate carries the coastal notes and adds juicy fruit and delicately sweet notes with barley water and a metallic twang; Finish is smoke heavy with light sweet and earthy notes.

Over the course of several weeks and several glasses, I went from being a fan to a fanatic. This is a fabulous Scotch.

Laphroaig 16 Years Limited Edition – Final Thoughts and Score

So good. So ****ing good. There’s a heaviness to it, a depth and warmth that approaches the meatiness of Lagavulin as it opens but retains that sharpness of Laphroaig.

Add a dash of water, let it sit and it gets deeper. Deeper malty, deeper oaky, deeper earthy but always smoky and fruity sweet. This is such a unique, almost flabby, profile for the normally razor-sharp Laphroaig and it wears it well. Laphroaig 16 Years Limited Edition is just… good.

SCORE: 4.5/5

Laphroaig 16 Years Limited Edition Back Label

Laphroaig 16 Years Limited Edition Review


This is a fantastic Scotch. It’s everything you want from a Laphroaig amped up and put brilliantly on display by the ex-Bourbon barrels. I love it.


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Driven by Expansion of Online Sales and Increase in First-Time Buyers
Market Leader in Asia
Growth in Spirits Business with 20% of Overall Sales

NEW YORK & LONDON, – Sotheby’s Wine’s annual auction sales of wines and spirits totalled $92 million in 2020, driven by the expansion of online sales, younger buyers entering the market, an increase in first-time buyers, and both new and established collectors embracing the company’s enhanced digital tools. Buyers from Asia continued to claim a larger share of global sales, with Sotheby’s leading the market in the region for the third consecutive year. Sotheby’s Wine Retail also achieved strong results this year, in both Hong Kong and New York.

Jamie Ritchie, Worldwide Head of Sotheby’s Wine, said: “Our success in 2020 was due to our team’s ability to adopt a very rapid digital transformation, where we hosted 17 online auctions in addition to 23 live auctions, when we originally planned 28 live auctions. The digital tools that we now use would have taken another two to five years to implement under normal circumstances and resulted in the growth of 40% of new buyers, with particular strength in the under 40 category. The year’s highlights were the strength of our sales in Asia, representing over 55%, the growth in the Spirits market representing 20%, and the publication of The New Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia. The range of our sales illustrates our innovation as leaders in the wine and spirits business and the breadth of our activities, from auction to retail, from New York to Hong Kong.”

Adam Bilbey, Head of Sotheby’s Wine, Asia, said: “To lead the market in Asia for the third year in a row, with our second highest total and backboned by eight single owner sales, is testament to the wonderful collections we have been entrusted with, and thanks to our loyal clients throughout the region. In these unprecedented and challenging times, Sotheby’s Wine has transformed its business across the world, with a digital revolution. In Hong Kong, our Spirits business has led this charge with eight online sales, selling to more fine Spirits collectors and to a younger and more diverse client base, than ever before. We look forward to continuing this trend in 2021.”

Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s Spirits Specialist, said: “2020 saw phenomenal growth for spirits, which made up 20% of Sotheby’s Wine’s annual business globally. During this challenging time, we rapidly and successfully transitioned to an online auction format, bringing in new bidders and generating records for the most valuable Japanese Whisky, the oldest vintage Cognac, and the highest price for any bottle of Dalmore sold at auction. Sensitive to the struggles felt by so many around the world this year, we partnered with The Macallan, The Dalmore, Dictador and Diageo to produce sensational results for charities such as City Harvest, Water Aid and SAMH. We look forward to continuing this success into 2021 with more distillery partnerships for charity, leading with the Black Bowmore Cabinet in Hong Kong next Spring”.

Facts & Figures

• Global Wine and Spirits sales total $92 million
• Over 15,000 lots sold across 41 sales, an almost 50% increase in the number of sales held in 2019
• Bidders from more than 40 countries
• Market leader in Asia for third consecutive year
• Growth in spirits business with an overall total of $18 million (20% total sales), 15 sales and 1,800 lots sold – five years ago spirits represented less than 2% of sales
• Top lots of the year:
o The Macallan Red Collection, sold for $977,496
o The Macallan in Lalique Six Pillars Collection, sold for $507,819

Strength in Asia:

• Second biggest year ever, with digital transformation (including 11 online sales versus two online sales in 2019)
• Three-day Hong Kong sale series in July brought $23 million: the third highest total ever for a wine sale series in Asia, over 150% higher than any competitor wine sale series
• 40% of bidders in Hong Kong sales are in their 20s and 30s
• Over 30% bidders in Hong Kong sales are new to Sotheby’s
• 73% of total bid amount in all Wine and Spirits sales come from collectors in Asia


• Over $60 million of wine and spirits sold to online bidders in 2020 versus $28 million in 2019
• 84% lots offered were bought online
• 46% first time bidders aged in their 20s or 30s

New Buyers and Bidders:

• 40% buyers and 38% bidders new to Sotheby’s
• Bidders aged 40 years or younger made up 29% of new bidders, 31% total amount bid amount in global wine sales, and 38% bidders in global Spirits sales
• 45% bidders bid for first time in Spirits sales
• 31% bidders bid for first time in Wine sales


• Several world record prices for Spirits at auction were achieved this year:

o World record for any bottle of Japanese whisky with Karuizawa 52 Year Old Zodiac Rat Cask #5627 1960 ($435,273, London, March).
o World record for any bottle of whisky produced by the Dalmore Distillery with two bottles of The Dalmore 62 Year Old ($324,445 per bottle, London, May).

• The year saw several partnerships with leading distilleries:

o Sotheby’s X The Macallan:

 In October at Sotheby’s in London, a unique set of The Macallan Red Collection – the only artist’s label set to be released by The Macallan – sold for $977,496. Proceeds from this lot were donated to City Harvest London and provided 620,000 meals for those in need.

o Sotheby’s X Diageo:

 In September the first offering at auction of set #1 of the first release of The Prima & Ultima Collection sold for $35,249 in an online auction, with proceeds from the sale donated to Diageo’s charity partner WaterAid.

o Sotheby’s X The Dalmore:

 Sotheby’s first Dalmore collaboration of the year in Hong Kong saw an entire Cask of 1973 Dalmore offered as part of the innovative cross-category silent auction ‘In Confidence: Selected Masterpieces’. The winning bidder will be flown to Scotland to work directly with The Dalmore Master Distilling team to complete their casks maturation and bottle into personalised decanters.

 Sotheby’s second partnership of 2020 with The Dalmore in Hong Kong consisted of two 1979 Private Cask bottlings in engraved Candela crystal decanters donated directly from The Dalmore Distillery for charity. The proceeds from the Dalmore 38 & 39 Year Old Private Casks 1979, which sold for $32,390, benefitted the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH).

o Sotheby’s X Bowmore:

 In the spring of 2021 in Hong Kong, Sotheby’s will offer The Black Bowmore Archive Cabinet – the complete Black Bowmore single malt whisky collection direct from the Bowmore distillery, comprising five archive bottles, spanning 1993 to 2016, presented in a truly unique bespoke piece of furniture created by award-winning craftsman John Galvin (estimate in the region of $500,000).

About Sotheby’s Wine

Sotheby’s Wine, with a store located within the auction house’s worldwide headquarters on New York’s Upper East Side, offers a carefully curated selection of wines from the world’s most prestigious producers and important regions. Expertly assembled by Sotheby’s’ experienced specialists, the ever-evolving selection is built upon lasting relationships with winemakers from across the globe, with prices beginning at just $13.95. With bottles that are ready for immediate consumption, in addition to investment-worthy wines from highly sought-after vintages, each wine is chosen for its expression of its region and value for money. Each bottle selected by Sotheby’s specialist team must pass the brand’s signature “three-glass” tasting guideline, meaning that the tasters must like it enough to want to drink three glasses, or the standard amount enjoyed when sharing a bottle.

The Sotheby’s Wine Store in New York City is located at 1334 York Avenue, and is open Monday through Friday from 10AM to 7PM and Saturday from 10AM to 6PM. Along with a retail location in Hong Kong Sotheby’s Wine also offers all bottles online, 24 hours, at

Jacob’s Pardon 15 Year Old American Whiskey Review

By Andrew Graham

Grade: A-

Jacob’s Pardon American Whiskey
(Credit: Palm Bay Internatonal)

Let’s start 2021 off with something kind of crazy: a 15 year old single barrel American whiskey that’s bottled at 141.8 proof.

The folks behind Jacob’s Pardon, Palm Bay International, bring some history to the table. The duo behind the brand, president and CEO Marc Taub and his son, Jake, are a couple generations removed from legit bootleggers. Abner and Jacob Taub, Marc’s great-uncles, were reportedly busted during Prohibition for transporting barrel scrapings. After doing the sensible thing and ending the whole charade, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt pardoned the Taubs, and the family has been in the liquor distribution business ever since.

The brand’s initial release lineup is two high proof, single barrel expressions aged 15 years — one bottled at 141.8 percent ABV (Barrel No. 23), and the other at 139.5 percent ABV (Barrel No. 37) — along with a small-batch expression labeled Recipe No. 1 that blends the 15-year whiskey with an eight-year Tennessee whiskey and gets bottled at a mere 48.6 percent ABV. The 15 year whiskey was distilled at MGP at a mash bill of 99 percent corn and 1 percent malted barley, and it’s all aged in used barrels. I tasted Barrel No. 23 for this review.

The Whiskey
With the ABV being as high as it is, I poured a dram and let it sit in a Glencairn glass for a good ten minutes. Initially, the nose wasn’t as expressive as one might imagine, but as the whiskey opened up, I found notes of toffee and maple syrup, with a subtle earthiness to it. The nose has plenty of nuance and doesn’t give away the whiskey’s proofing.

On the palate, the whiskey presents an immediate, and very brief, rush of intense sweetness that reminds of simple syrup or cake frosting before retreating towards comparatively balanced flavor notes of honey buns, sweet corn, and macerated peach. The finish is very peppery and long, turning herbaceous and leaving a minty sharpness. Once my palate got introduced to this whiskey’s boldness, particularly the finish, it was easy to drink. There wasn’t a residual alcohol burn.

The initial punch of sugar on the palate could be overwhelming to some, but we’re talking about a whiskey that’s so high-proof that it technically isn’t allowed on airplanes, so it’s not like some intensity isn’t advertised. I would wager that the intensity is the entire point. This is a very fine whiskey that gets scored up a notch because of the uniqueness of it.

The Price
A bottle of Jacob’s Pardon 15 Year retails for $200, and there are just 106 bottles from Barrel No. 37.

Bulleit Rye (45%, OB, 2020)

A spiced and sweet Rye whiskey with plenty of nice fruity flavours going on, I kept finding cola, cherry cola and cherry lips sweeties in this one. 83/100

Allt-A-Bhainne and Ben Nevis

Allt-A-Bhainne 23 yo 1997/2020 (51.3%, Watt Whisky, bourbon hogshead, 241 bottles) – Allt-A-Bhainne 23 yo 1997/2020 (52.4%, Whisky Nerds, cask #102589, barrel, 114 bottles) – Ben Nevis 24 yo 1996/2020 (52.1%, Berry Brothers for Royal Mile Whiskies, cask #1196, refill sherry butt / 1st fill oloroso butt) – Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2020 (52.1%, The Whisky Exchange Single Casks, cask #1709, hogshead, 205 bottles)

Virginia Distillery Company’s Courage & Conviction American Single Malt Receives 96-Points from Wine Enthusiast – American Whiskey News

Virginia Distillery Company’s Courage & Conviction American Single Malt Receives 96-Points from Wine Enthusiast

LOVINGSTON, Va. (January 19, 2021) – Virginia Distillery Company’s American Single Malt whisky Courage & Conviction was included in a recent buying guide for Wine Enthusiast which focused on Global Single Malts and Potato Vodka. Courage & Conviction received a 96-point score, putting the spirit in the superb category.

The Buying Guide is included in each issue of Wine Enthusiast as well as online and includes ratings and reviews of new releases and selected older beverage alcohol products that are evaluated by Wine Enthusiast editors and other qualified tasters. The panel of reviewers performed a blind tasting to determine the score for each product included. The scores are categorized as the following:

  • Classic 98–100: The pinnacle of quality.
  • Superb 94–97: A great achievement.
  • Excellent 90–93: Highly recommended.
  • Very Good 87–89: Often good value; well recommended.
  • Good 83–86: Suitable for everyday consumption; often good value.
  • Acceptable 80–82: Can be employed in casual, less-critical circumstances.

“It’s an honor to earn a superb score from one of the industry’s most accredited publications,” said Virginia Distillery Company’s CEO Gareth H. Moore. “Since day one, our team has been dedicated to producing quality American Single Malt whisky and setting a new standard in the category with Courage & Conviction.”

The name of Virginia Distillery Co.’s American Single Malt is a nod to a phrase founder Dr. George G. Moore was often heard saying: “Have the courage of your convictions.” The inaugural batch, which released in the spring of 2020, was dedicated to Dr. George G. Moore. The second batch of Courage & Conviction, which released in the fall of 2020, is dedicated to Dr. Jim Swan, who passed away in 2017 following a 40-year career supporting the science of distilling as a chemist, professor, researcher and author. Dr. Swan was the man behind Courage & Conviction: the distillate, the casks and the maturation strategy. Additional releases in the Courage & Conviction line are slated for Spring 2021.

Amongst Wine Enthusiast’s 96-point score, Courage & Conviction has earned national recognition and accolades including Double Gold in the SIP Awards, Double Gold in the John Barleycorn Awards, 94 Points in the Ultimate Spirits Challenge and 91 Points in Whisky Advocate.

Virginia Distillery Company released, a website hub that includes distillate and cask data about each batch of Courage & Conviction, as well as bottling and process information for consumers. Virginia Distillery Company also recently launched a complete guide to American Single Malt whisky.

For more information, visit the distillery’s website at

About Virginia Distillery Company

Staffed by a local Virginia team mentored by Scottish consultants with decades of experience, Virginia Distillery Company is the largest dedicated American Single Malt whisky distillery in the U.S. The distillery has a current annual production volume of 80,000 4.5L cases and growing. At full capacity, the distillery can produce over 8,000 casks yielding 350,000 4.5L cases annually. The distillery produces Courage & Conviction American Single Malt on-site using malted barley from North America and water from Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. In addition, the distillery offers the award-winning Virginia-Highland Whisky series, made with 100% malted barley. Showcasing both Old and New World whisky-making, the award-winning line marries whisky made on-site in Virginia with whisky from Scotland.

Whisky Hammer January 2021 Auction Ends Soon! – Whisky Hammer News

Our January auction ends soon!

Place your bids from Friday 15th January until Sunday 24th January.

Every month, we present an incredible selection of whiskies and other fine spirits to our members right across the globe. You will find everything here from limited edition releases and vintage bottles to whole casks of rare whisky. There is certainly something for everyone – whether you are looking to collect, invest or enjoy!

Hanyu – Joker Monochrome 

Glenfarclas – 40 Year Old

(& corresponding Limited Edition numbered print)  

Port Ellen – 40 Year Old (1979) Casks of Distinction 

Old Rip Van Winkle – 18 Year Old (Blue Smoke)

*Glen Garioch – 1985 (Hand-filled cask #1586)

*All proceeds raised from the sale of this lot will be donated to NHS Grampian, in an effort to assist the fantastic work they are doing in the fight against COVID-19.

Selling whisky? Why not arrange the pick-up of your bottles using our global courier service? If you’re based in Scotland, you might want to arrange the personal collection of your bottles. Wherever you’re based in the world, we will make getting your bottles into our monthly auction as simple as possible. Get in touch with the Whisky Hammer team now by dropping them a message at

Cotswolds Distillery “A beginner’s guide to whisky 🥃” – English Whisky News

How is whisky made? Does age matter? What even is whisky!?
We’ve got the answers for you…

If you’re new to the world of whisky, it’s completely normal to find it all a little overwhelming. Ahead of Burns Night on Monday evening, which of course is synonymous with enjoying a dram or two, we’ve tried to make the whole thing easier for you by putting together a beginner’s whisky guide so you can get started on your very exciting whisky journey ahead. If you still have some burning questions that you want to ask, please feel free to get in touch with us anytime, we’re more than happy to help!

Don’t forget – you can enjoy 10% off selected Cotswolds whiskies until midnight on Sunday!

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