My desk has been full of samples of late, from a diverse range of distilleries, with little time to write introductions to each. I have therefore elected to focus on tasting notes for this issue, from the historically rich Never Say Die Bourbon to the smoky depths of Morris Single Malt Smoked Muscat. I have included a large array of whiskies, from the peated complexities of Bruichladdich, to the innovative maturation processes seen in whiskies like Abasolo 100% Ancestral Corn from Mexico. I have included direct links to the products where available.

For those of you that enjoy a whisky show, the Whisky Event, held in the Great Hall at Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane, takes place on 2nd June. It is held from 5-10pm, and if last year is anything to go by, it will be excellent with some superb whiskies to sample. You can purchase tickets from their website. It would be wonderful to meet some of you there, to share a dram with.

I have just started reading Canadian Whisky (3rd Edition) by Davin de Kergommeaux. So far has been an insightful and intriguing read, and I am greatly expanding my knowledge of this often overlooked country, in relation to whisky. I shall be writing a full review in due course. 

The legendary Rosebank Distillery, hailed as the ‘King of the Lowlands,’ is finally throwing open its doors after a 30-year hiatus, thanks to a painstaking four-year revival effort. On Friday, 7th June, Rosebank will welcome the public into its blend of modern marvel and historical charm. The distillery, renowned before its closure in 1993, marries its Victorian-era red brickwork with a dazzling glass-fronted stillroom that showcases replicas of the original stills, meticulously crafted from archival blueprints.

Not content with merely reviving the old, the distillery has also embraced its roots by retaining the century-old mill and constructing a new dunnage warehouse from the bricks of its predecessor. This new space houses both the precious original casks and the first batches of new Rosebank spirit under the shadow of the iconic 108ft chimney stack that continues to punctuate Falkirk’s skyline.

Behind this ambitious project is Leonard Russell, the Managing Director of Ian Macleod Distillers, driven by a vision to resurrect the distillery that was once a jewel in Scotland’s whisky crown. Despite its small scale and the high cost of production, Russell saw the value in Rosebank’s unique spirit, making its reopening a momentous occasion for Falkirk, the Scotch whisky industry, and whisky aficionados globally.

The rebirth of Rosebank includes not just the distillery but also a world-class visitor experience. With six exquisite tasting rooms, the distillery is set to become a pilgrimage site for whisky enthusiasts, offering tours that blend history, craft, and tasting experiences. From the “Rosebank Reawakening” to the more intimate “Rosebank Revered,” visitors are invited to explore the distillery’s triple-distillation process, sample new make spirit, and taste rare aged whiskies.

Rosebank Distillery

Rosebank’s journey from a cherished memory to a vibrant reality reflects a commitment to preserving its storied past while embracing the future of whisky making. The team, led by Malcolm Rennie, has woven the distillery’s rich history into every facet of its new incarnation, promising an immersive experience for visitors this summer. With tours ranging from £25 to £300, the distillery is ready to share its passion and proud heritage with the world, accompanied by the opportunity to purchase exclusive Rosebank expressions directly from the source. 

Bookings can be made directly via

Tasting Notes

Never Say Die Bourbon Small Batch 47.5% – 
In 1951, a foal named Never Say Die was saved by John A. Bell III with a shot of whisky during a difficult birth on Hamburg Farm, Lexington, KY. This foal later won the 1953 Epsom Derby, becoming the first American-born horse to win in over 70 years, inspiring Mona Best in Liverpool to bet on him, win a fortune, and open the Casbah Coffee Club. This venue played a crucial role in the early career of The Beatles. 

The creation of Never Say Die Bouron was inspired by this remarkable event, creating a unique whisky. It was distilled in Kentucky, then shipped to England to mature, the first time I am aware that this has ever happened. The nose opens with buttery vanilla, marmalade, and the warmth of baking spice. On the palate, this high-rye bourbon has chewy rye spice, cardamom, vanilla, leather, caramel and  toffee. The finish is of tobacco, vanilla, cinnamon and baking spices. 

Loch Maberry Stories of Bladnoch, Chapter One 56.7% – £150
This is Bladnochs first release in a new annual series which celebrates the distillery’s most avid admirers. This was selected from Cask No 89, a red wine hogshead, and chosen by Mr. Arnold, who has spent a lifetime loving Bladnoch Distillery, with Master Distiller, Dr. Nick Savage. It has a lovely nose of ripe plum, dried apricots and stem ginger. The palate is rich and balanced with a lovely spice and integrated tannins offsetting the whisky’s sweet notes with a dry mouthfeel. Summer soft fruits are abundant on the palate, with strawberries being the most prevalent. 

Abasolo 100% Ancestral Corn 43%  – £41.50 at The Whisky Exchange
You may not have tried a whisky from Mexico before, but at this price, it is just inviting you to try it. It is made with Mexican Cacahuazintle corn but is different from Bourbon in that it is not intensely sweet, although honey and caramel are both present. The corn has been fermented for 120 hours before being distilled in small pot stills and is in one of the highest distilleries in the world at 7800ft. Although I encourage you to try this, it is certainly not for everyone, as quite distinctive and unique. It would be fascinating in a blind tasting. 

Glendalough Irish 7-year-old Mizunara Finish 46% – £70 at Master of Malt
There is a lovely deep nose that is unique and hard to define. But I like it! There is chocolate orange, ripe mango and burnt beef that intrigued me. The palate is dry, spicy and savoury. I can pick up the Mizunara with its distinctive sandalwood flavours, alongside coffee and aniseed. I would like to see this at a higher ABV to give it some more depth.

The English Sherry Cask 46% – £59 at The Whisky Exchange
An understated nose, with the gentle aroma of barley with a hint of sherry. It seems quite youthful, but carries the promise of complexity. The initial delicacy evolves with sherry influenced notes. I found notes of dried fruits, nuts, and a subtle hint of sweet spices. There is dark chocolate and ripe berries on the finish. 

Balcones Single Malt 53% –  £71.95 at The Whisky Exchange
Just like Texas, the colour on this is big. It is deep mahogany with a nose that is just as bold. Full of dark chocolate with hazelnut, caramelised orange and baking spices. These spices hit you on the palate like a juggernaut. This is not delicate in any way, which greatly appeals to me. It is probably a divisive whisky which I love. For me, it is perfect for cocktails as it has plenty of, well, everything. 

Balcones Straight Bourbon 46% – £45 at Master of Malt
Another big hitter from this Texas distillery. Subtle isn’t a word considered here. The nose has apples, honey and caramel with cream, praline, leather and spice on the palate. It has a surprising softness and a finish that lasts. Perfect to enjoy over ice or in a Manhattan cocktail. 

Copperworks Single Cask No 356 59.9% – £89.95 at The Whisky Exchange
Founded by Jason Parker and Micah Nutt, two veterans in the brewing and distilling industry, Copperworks is located alongside the vibrant waterfront of Seattle, Washington.This delicious expression (only 220 bottles) is exclusive to The Whisky Exchange and shows coffee and walnut cake on the nose. Its palate bursts with spice, vanilla, butterscotch, candied orange peel, and ginger, mirroring the layered richness found in the Balcones but with added depth.

Stoll & Wolfe 7-year-old single barrel Bourbon 57% – £74.95 at The Whisky Exchange
This has been bottled exclusively bottled for The Whisky Exchange and offers a wonderful nose of vanilla, caramel, and stewed orchard fruits. Despite its high corn content, the bourbon isn’t overly sweet, managing to carry its alcohol that is perfect for enjoying neat or in  cocktails. The palate has layers of chocolate and orange, complemented by hints of almonds and spice, creating a harmonious blend of flavours.

Lochlea Ploughing 2nd Edition 46% – £50 at Amathus
The Ploughing Edition (Second Crop) marks winter on the Lochlea farm when the fields are ploughed in preparation for spring’s sowing season in the months ahead. Matured in 100% ex-Islay 200-litre barrels, this has a pale colour that proves that colour is merely a guide and not absolute. The smoke is subtle and combines with citrus, especially lemon balm. The palate has a sweetness with plenty of orchard fruit with a beautiful elegance. I enjoy whisky that has this delicacy as a contrast to the big and bold. It is refreshing and a wonderful dram to share with those new to smoke.

Aberfledy 21 year old Argentinian Malbec Cask 46% – £185 at The Whisky Exchange
I love a red wine finish. Couple that with a high age statement and I get excited. The red wine is very present on the nose with beautiful blackberry jammy flavours, leather and cherry. The palate has a lovely softness to it, almost like you would expect from a Merlot wine, not a Malbec-finished whisky. There is a lot of fruit on the palate, especially figs, apricots and blackcurrants. This is a limited edition from Aberfeldy and is a fine addition to their other wine finishes. 

Morris Single Malt Smoked Muscat 46%
This is just stunning. The smoke intertwines with the high-intensity sweetness of muscat grapes, creating a combination of barley, smoke, and fruit. I just kept going back to take in the nose. On the palate, it is fruity Danish pastries combined with apricots, vanilla, cloves and smoke. The complexity of flavours is matched by an impressive length. A contender for whisky of the year for me as it is so tasty and unique. 

Bruichladdich 18-year-old 50% – £147 at The Whisky Exchange
Not all Islay whisky is peated, and Bruichladdich is perhaps the most famous that isn’t. Instead, they bottle their peated whisky under different labels as you will read below. The nose seems quite shy with subtle hints of lemon and barley and honey. The palate is punchy with the 50% abv and offers up a light fruity flavour with depth coming from some meaty flavours. The length is good and lingers for long after the whisky has been enjoyed. 

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 18 54.3% £175 at Bruichladdich
This is the oldest Port Charlotte released to date, so a treat to have. This is one of the distillery’s peated brands and the nose is balanced with smoke, reduced beef juices and bacon. The palate is as full and rich as you would expect. It is oily, bundles of smoke that mingle with dark fruits such as sloes and damsons. 

Bruichladdich Octomore 14.1 59.6% £140 at Bruichladdich
Octomore is not for the faint-hearted. It is the kingpin of smoke, the biggest, fullest and most intense of virtually all peated whiskies. Where Port Charlotte has 40ppm of peat, this has 128.9ppm. It is bottled relatively young as peat diminishes with time in the barrel, so this is the perfect union between peat and time. The nose is not a total smoke bomb, with fruity flavours peeking out from behind. As one of the highest ABV whiskies you will find in Scotland, this is like stepping into the ring with Mike Tyson and being hit in the face, but not being hurt. It is surprisingly friendly and balanced with smoke being so predominant. I am fairly accustomed to Octomore so maybe desensitised to its power. If you haven’t tried one, find a good whisky bar and try it before buying a bottle. 

The English Virgin Oak 46% 
Only 2800 bottles of this have been released and is interesting to try an English whisky matured in virgin oak. Most English and Scottish whisky is aged in barrels that have previously been used for Bourbon or Sherry. The new wood has given some light vanilla notes, but also coconut and chocolate with some nutmeg. It will not surprise you to hear that the palate is rich with honey, butterscotch, ginger and vanilla.