Multiple Mystery Whiskies

As part of one of the many whisky groups I’m part of, we all decided we’d be dicks to one another, but in a nice way.

So we all showed up, each with 2 whiskies: One we want empty and one mystery. And then, without knowing the order, and leaving that up to /u/31mak , we drank each one, reviewed them, and found out we’re all pretty bad at picking.

So let’s see how poorly I did, shall we? All information is down here, but we didn’t have that at the time.


compass box double 1.jpeg

Mystery #1

Price: N/A at the LCBO

Region: Blend

Cask Type: American Oak

Malts used: 76% 18-year-old Glen Elgin, 24% at least 21-year-old Port Dundas single grain

Number of Bottles: 876

Bottled: 09.2010

Abv: 53.3%

Colour: 7.5Y 9/6

Nose: Mineral, peach, butter, lemon, arugula

Good amount of mineral eventually opens up to some fruit. Lighter nose. Some pepper, some vegetal, nothing too strong or powerful, but nice.

Taste: Peanut butter, pepper, light cocoa, cloves, cookie dough

More to the taste now. Initial note of peanut butter leaves quick. Eventually that sweetness goes to a nice cookie dough flavour. A lot more going on here than the taste, which is for the best.

Finish: Pepper, coffee, butterscotch, tobacco, pear, vanilla, ginger/cloves

Some heat/earth eventually goes to spice, vanilla, and earth. A lot of the earth and spice pairs quite well. Good amount of tobacco here, and I typically don’t like that note. Good balance.

Conclusion: So you’re going to have the nose on this one, and assume it’s not too strong. Then the taste and finish have a nice amount of flavours. It’s young, powerful, tasty, but the nose is going to throw you off.

There’s a lot of earth going on here too, nice amount of spice, and it’s quite sweet. If you don’t like Lowland/starter/appertif whiskies, this is a skip. I like them, so my score is higher due to that, but lower because the nose wasn’t too special.


Guess: Ex-bourbon, Cask strength, 12 to 14 years, Lowland single malt?

Actually: Compass Box Double Single 10th Anniversary

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Mystery #2

Price: €135.00 at the Celtic Whiskey Shop

Region: Ireland

Cask Type: Ex-bourbon cask

Abv: 59%

Colour: 10Y 9/6

Nose: Green apple, straw, gummy bears, pastry

Sweet on the nose. Lots of tart notes, some butter, some raw sugar/fruit gummy, and then straw. Like sharing a pack of gummies with a donkey. Which I’m sure we’ve all done before.

Nothing too over the top, but nice nose on this one. The green apple/gummy bears dominate.

Taste: Toast, pear, butter, mineral, caramel, herbal, mango

The yeast notes from the Irish whiskey have become more developed. Still has some mineral notes to it, but that mixes well with the big caramel notes. It’s bouncing between savoury and sweet, which kinda works/kinda doesn’t for me.

The mango eventually takes over and balances it all out with the butter.

Finish: Embers, ginger, cloves, green apple, cashew, weak orange juice, tangerine

Nice, long finish. It’s a bit weak in the citrus at first, however the green apple, ginger, and nuttiness really add to it all. Given some time the citrus builds more and more to add some complexity.

Like the hot elements to this. Tastes like breathing in a campfire. A damp one, at least.

Conclusion: All in all a nice whiskey. It does some thing different, which is what you want in a single cask. Lots of butter, the yeast has become bread (which sounds like a peaceful salutation) and some heat on the finish.

This is for the people who are not Irish whiskey fans, as it does a lot different while still sticking to some of the roots. Makes me more interested in the distillery moving forward, assuming they attempt to emulate this flavour.


Guess: Cask strength, ex-bourbon, 12-14 years. Going to guess it’s The Great North Distillery Burke’s 14 Single Cask

Actually: The Great North Distillery Burke’s 14 Single Cask

auchentoshan 17 1.jpeg

Mystery #3

Price: N/A at the LCBO

Region: Lowland

Distilled: 1999

Bottled: 2016

Age: 17 years

Cask Type: 2 ex-bourbon hogsheads

Amount of bottles: 498 bottles

Abv: 55.9%

Colour: 7.5Y 9/6

Nose: Grassy, ash, cotton, candy, lemon wood polish

Initial note is a lot of grass. Some ash too. It’s reminding me of Old Pulteney or Balblair with the grassy notes. Lots of vegetal notes.

Eventually this smells like that mouse I sprayed with Pledge when I woke up one time and somehow had Pledge near me. The next day someone slipped on the ground because the mouse ran around.

Or Pledge. It smells like lemon Pledge. Yeah, could have jumped ahead there.

Taste: Zucchini, plum, grass, ginger, passion fruit, lemon pudding, white chocolate

More vegetal. Actually this is like all the flavours rushing you at once. I’m used to the nose being huge and then a step back on the taste. This is the nose being odd and then trying to eat an entire farmer’s market, including the baked goods and without the farmer’s themselves (support them people, they are hard workers!)

Finish: Heather, Boston cream doughnuts, pepper, grassy, coconut, pineapple

More like the nose than the taste. There’s a light grass/sweet note. And it tastes like Boston cream doughtnuts. Seriously, who cares what else I say, this is tasty.

Conclusion: Decent amount of time in the cask. Cask strength, odd notes. I thought it was a highland due to the constant grass/vegetal notes, but without any coffee notes.

Lots of great flavours on the finish and taste. Nose was a let down for me, because it was mostly just lemon, ash, and grassy. Quite light. The rest? Tons of flavours. It? Fuck you, I’m Pledge.

Nice dram overall, would be nice to have a bottle on hand.


Guess: Ex-bourbon, cask strength, 16-18 years old, virgin finished Highland

Actually: Auchentoshan 17 Cadenhead Small Batch

glen moray duncan taylor octave.jpeg

Mystery #4

Price: N/A at the LCBO

Region: Speyside

Vintage: 1991

Cask Type: Sherry Octave Cask Finish

Abv: 54.3%

Colour: 10Y 9/8

Nose: Passion fruit, peach, cream, butter

Initial nose is lots of tropical fruit. One, specifically, which is that flavour ingredient they use in those tropical drinks. Or at least whatever gland from whatever rodent makes it seem like that flavour.

Creamy, fruity, and buttery. Smells young.

Taste: Peach, huge amount of brown butter/butterscotch, grass, strawberry

Tons of butter. Cooked butter. Which has lots of sweet caramel/nutty notes, and bounces slightly to butterscotch.

If you can avoid that flavour (which isn’t easy), eventually there’s some grassy and red fruit/stone fruit notes. But honestly, it’s butter as the king.

Finish: Heather, butter, a fat kid’s backpack full of peanut brittle, caramel, sulfur

We change from brown butter, an expert bakers fat ingredient to peanut brittle, the child of the expert baker who is going to get diabetes by the time they are eleven. And I don’t mean being hunted by the upside down.

Lots of caramel, butter, some nutty, and some sulfur which adds some dimension which is needed.

Conclusion: Young, brash, and definitely sherry influenced. Tons of butter on the taste and finish. It’s hard to bash them on that, because… well who doesn’t love the taste of butter? Not to mention the flavours it’s heavy on are actually pretty complex.

That said, dear god this tastes young. It’s rough, doesn’t care what you think, and tastes like peanut brittle. If that’s your thing, great. Me? I think I need something more integrated, balanced, and everything.

Now knowing what this is, all I have to say is this: Small casks made some youthful notes take over. Not a big fan.


Guess: Oloroso cask, 10-14 year, Highland, cask strength

Actually: Glen Moray 20 1991 The Octave Duncan Taylor

clynelish 15 g&m 1.jpeg

Mystery #5

Price: $247.95 CAD at the LCBO, though the website is saying 40%, so check before you buy

Region: Highland

Vintage: 15.12.1998

Bottled: 05.11.2014

Stated Age: 15 years

Cask Type: Refill Sherry Casks

Cask Number: 17064 + 17065

Abv: 58%

Colour: 7.5Y 8/8

Nose: Passion fruit, peach, pine, ginger, orange

Wait, did I start writing on the same page as the last one? Did our host pour the wrong one? Did I not drink water?

After checking with everyone else, rinsing our mouths out a few times, maybe starting a fight club and then realizing we don’t really wanna… What the heck? It smells almost the same as the last one.

This one has more youth on the nose though. Less butter, more orange. Still confused.

Taste: Lots of butterscotch, ginger, orange juice, cranberry

Alright, I’m being punked, right? What the fucking fuck?

Take a breath, make sure our host isn’t dicking around, and she assures us she is not.

So there’s a lot of butterscotch here. No nuttiness, which I’m mentioning for no reason. Some citrus here, which was missing on the last one, and some wood that has gone with the sherry.

Finish: Butter, burnt beef ends, pine, mineral, heather, peach

Alright, so this finish is different than the last whisky. I’m no longer questioning my sanity. More than usual.

The butter isn’t as strong here. No nuttiness, and some meatiness instead. More grass, some youth, and the mineral, which eventually becomes peach. Thank goodness.

Conclusion: This whisky made me swear so much that I lived up to my rap name, Vulgar Assassin (no joke, Wu-Tang clan name generator, tell your mom). It confused me so much that I thought two of the others brought the same whisky.

That said, the difference is there. It’s younger, brasher, and has a more balanced finish. It’s odd, needs work, and while I appreciate the citrus in it, it’s just brash, gets some things right, not for me.

I found out later this was the age of a whisky I don’t prefer, aged in a cask I don’t prefer, and by a distillery that I’m picky about. Given that it gets a pretty high score given all that, I’m still not a fan.


Guess: Oloroso cask, 10-14 years, Highland

Actually: Clynelish 1998 Gordon & MacPhail Cask Strength

Glenlivet Nadurra.jpeg

Mystery #6

Price: $90.25 CAD at the LCBO

Region: Speyside

Batch: Ol0614

Bottled: 12.06.2014

Cask Type: First Fill Oloroso Sherry Casks

Abv: 60.7%

Colour: 10YR 6/8

Nose: Peanut, cherry, plum, orange, honeydew melon, oak

Hooray! It tastes different! I’m not useless (according to most)!

Strong. Very powerful nose. More sherry influence, can’t tell what kind. More depth to this, more red fruits to it, but still has some light fruit as well.

Taste: Currant, anise, caramel, Demerra sugar, butter

I’m still lost on the type of sherry. Lots of brown sugar/molasses and butter. /u/lasidar keeps saying this is his. I’m assuming it’s rum. He tells me it isn’t.

I’m worried.

Finish: Hot, caramel, rum, orange, raisin, funk, peach, raisin bread

Hot finish. This needs water. The others I added water to in order to keep up, but this one needs water. Water opens it right up, lots of funk, even more rum.

Nice yeast notes. Lighter orange notes as well, with some good caramel.

Conclusion: Nice whisky. I liked it. Where as the others may have had youthful “needs more time” notes, this had more of the youthful “fruit, pull it now” notes.

Make your own jokes, this is review #6 in a row.

I’m quite impressed by this one. Lots of different notes. Can’t tell the type of sherry, but it was a good cask. Lots of caramel notes on the taste. I could see this as a good after-dinner drink to clear you out.


Guess: Cask strength, ex-sherry, 10 years

Actually: Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso

Mystery Lineup.jpg

Scotch review #645-649, Blend review #68, Lowland review #33, Speyside review #191-192, Highland review #109, Whisky Network review #1087-1091

World Whisky review #248, Ireland review #66, Whiskey Network review #1092

One thought on “Multiple Mystery Whiskies

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