Dram Good Netherlands – Scotch Whisky Samples!

As I concluded in my post documenting the happy experience I had while attending the Ypenburg Whisky Festival, one of the true joys of convening with other whisky people is the immediate sense of community the environment creates. One of the many connections I was able to make through this event was to a gentleman who has a small sideline in purveying 30ml sample bottles of the whiskies in his collection for a nominal fee (mostly to cover costs so he can then procure more whiskies). This is not at all uncommon practice in the whisky world, and national shipping laws permitting, many enthusiasts have taken to trading samples in order to spread the love and knowledge of whisky with friends and strangers alike (there’s even a /r/scotchswap subreddit for such transactions).

A beautiful wee bounty

The samples I decided to procure from this individual were selected both for their fair prices and relative obscurity, as well as an expectation of good quality based on some Whiskybase research. Spoiler alert: they did not disappoint. Below I present my tasting notes and scores for these samples.

14yr Glenfarclas 1999 – Kirchhellener Private Tasting Circle


Wildflower honey


The nose is big and rich with candied orange peels, marzipan, baking spices (nutmeg, cinnamon and powdered ginger) and Christmas cake. All very sweet and creamy and alluring, which is par for the course with Glenfarclas in my experience.


As rich and fruitcake-y as the nose would have you believe and then some.  There’s also a mix of dried and fresh fruits (apples and raisins), with a few pieces of milk chocolate thrown into the mix for good measure.


Ends a touch more on the dry side of things with bitter dark chocolate and a dusting of spicy cinnamon.


Fantastically quintessential Glenfarclas, which has always been a favourite distillery of mine. Delivers an effortlessly quaffable well-sherried malt at a robust 59.9% ABV. 89/100

12yr Longrow 2002 – Cadenhead


Rusted copper


Meaty and savoury. We’re in an entirely different neighbourhood of SherryLand now. Earthy funk and a huge dose of salt are at the forefront. There’s some smoky bacon on a charcoal grill. This is all underpinned by just a touch of sweetness, with a handful of kettle corn and some dried figs.


Quite salty, with some ashes and bitter herbal notes jumping out to start things off. Still firmly planted on the savory side of the map for the most part. There’s a touch of engine oil, as well as some popcorn and malt vinegar. The bacon from the nose returns, but it’s now candied with maple and brown sugar.


Sweet and sour with a touch of hot rubber. The salt persists and lingers.


Challenging, and slightly unorthodox to be sure. Certainly not a malt for beginners or the faint of heart, but I find it fairly astounding. Rarely do you find a whisky that so deftly and pleasingly runs the gamut of all five basic tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter & umami). 90/100

13yr Laphroaig 1998 – James MacArthur


Pale gold


Classically Laphroaig with equally huge waves of sweet vanilla, iodine-laced seaweed, and plumes of bonfire smoke. Some salty bandages have washed up on the shoreline. There are some mixed candies as well, most notably sour lemon drops and just a few cinnamon hearts.


Much like the nose it’s almost all sweet and creamy vanilla, brine, ashy smoke and medicine cabinets. A pinch of chili flake spice lingers underneath.


The circle is complete with lingering smoke, sweetness & seaweed.


Textbook Laphroaig. It’s a bit of blunt instrument, as nothing is particularly surprising or challenging to those already initiate in the mysteries of this medicinal malt, but all in all well-made stuff that’s true to style. 84/100

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