It may not be the best time for a review of a bunch of distillery exclusives. Thanks to what’s going on in the world with the Coronavirus, most distilleries have closed and those who planned a trip to Scotland in the coming months will probably have cancelled them by now.

Unfortunately, I also had to cancel two trips. The first would be my annual trip to the Spirit of Speyside festival and I planned another trip around the Campbeltown Malts Festival and Feis Ile. I love Scotland and its distilleries and every year I go about 2 or 3 times that way, but whether it will happen this year … We can only wait and see.

For now, there are more important things in the world, namely to get this virus under control. So that we can pick up our lives again and let’s hope that there are as few casualties as possible both economically and health-wise. However, there will definitely come a time when we can travel again, to visit our beloved distilleries and taste these distillery exclusives yourselves, but until then you’re stuck with my review. 😉

The first one I’m going to taste today, the Glenkinchie Tattoo, is actually not a real distillery exclusive. It was the original bottling for last year’s The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, an annual public military event in Edinburgh. This Glenkinchie is matured in rejuvenated hogsheads and American Oak casks and is bottled at a strength of 46% ABV. In addition to the distillery, it’s also available at the Tattoo shop on the Royal Mile (Edinburgh).

Glenkinchie Tattoo tasting notes:

Nose: Apple compote and overripe pears. Vanilla custard. Followed by lemons and freshly cut grass. After letting it stand for a while I also get a hint of bananas, green grapes and a bit of oak.

Taste: It’s quite sweet and creamy at first. Plenty of vanilla custard. Caramel fudge and milk chocolate in the background. A bit grassy here too, fresh green grass, which is followed by yellow apples and pears. Then it goes towards pink grapefruit and a touch of white pepper. It’s slightly oaky.

Finish: Short to Mid-long. Vanilla here too. White pepper and oak. It’s a little dry and one dimensional.

A nice single malt, although not very pronounced. The oak comes through just a little too much at some points for my taste. But all in all a typical Lowlander, which perfectly reflects the distillery character.

Score: 84/100

Next up we have the Royal Lochnagar distillery exclusive. This distillery was first called New Lochnagar but they got a Royal Warrant in 1848, allowing the distillery to add Royal to its name. This whisky is matured in European oak and refill casks and is bottled at 48% ABV.

Royal Lochnagar tasting notes:

Nose: Butterscotch and vanilla. A hint of lime. And then a combination of green apples and red apples. This is followed by a touch of ginger. It’s quite fresh actually, which is rather nice. Later also honey.

Taste: It’s quite creamy. Creme brulee and caramel. Then lime again but in the very background. Pears. Less fresh than the nose suggested, it’s somewhat sweeter. Honey here as well.

Finish: Mid-long. Honey and creme brulee and creamy. Also a bit one-dimensional.

Oh, I kinda like this one. But you have to watch out with this one, as it’s dangerously drinkable. Not really complex, but very tasty. The nose is the highlight for me because of that certain freshness. It starts very fresh and fruity and then it goes more and more towards that creamy sweetness. Almost dessert-like!

Score: 85/100

Blair Athol is one of the oldest working distilleries in Scotland, located in the picturesque (and very touristy) town of Pitlochry. Their distillery exclusive is matured in refill rejuvenated casks & American oak and is also bottled at 48% ABV.

Blair Athol tasting notes:

Nose: Ha, funny it was almost like I had a whiff of smoke in the beginning. Sweet oranges and quite some caramel fudge. Honey. Followed by lemons and later also red apples. Then it goes back to oranges again.

Taste: It’s creamy and has a lovely thick mouthfeel. Plenty of caramel fudge again, milk chocolate and honey too. Red apples. Oranges. And it’s somewhat spicy in the end, with cinnamon and red chilli peppers.

Finish: Long, creamy and sweet. Vanilla. And that same caramel fudge again. Milk chocolate.

This is rather lovely. It’s a very enjoyable dram with a good mouthfeel. So far the best for me. The spices in the taste are a nice counterpart to the creamy and sweet flavours. Not very complex, but just a good dram. Nice.

Score: 86/100

Last but not least, the distillery exclusive from one of my favourite distilleries, Clynelish! I was quite curious about this newer edition, as the previous one didn’t quite convince me. So let’s see what this one will bring. This single malt is bottled at 48% ABV.

Clynelish tasting notes:

Nose: Oh yes this is Clynelish alright! Oranges and wax! Then sweet strawberries even. Lovely. Honey and vanilla. A tiny hint of icing sugar. Nougat and apple compote. The more you smell it over time, the better it gets. Very fruity.

Taste: Candle wax at first. Oranges too. Marzipan and vanilla. Followed by quite some sweet grapefruit, giving it just a little of a bitter edge. A sugary honey. Later also some toffee and caramel.

Finish: Mid-long with ginger, grapefruit and apples. A hint of toffee and a woody note.

It’s really nice, but I do love the nose the most and it gets better after some time too. And the waxy elements are beautifully present. This must be my favourite of the bunch and I like this one much better than their previous edition. But I think you’ve already guessed that. 🙂

Score: 87/100

Samples provided by Diageo.