Whisky Show Bottlings 2023
Whisky Show Bottlings 2023

Joe Rogers takes a deep dive into this year’s exclusive show bottlings. These include three specially selected single casks featuring custom artwork inspired by our 2023 theme – ‘the people’ of whisky – official bottlings from Loch Lomond and Kilchoman and two very special drams provided by Phil and Simon Thompson of Dornoch distillery in Sutherland.

Show veterans may find the well-dressed lions on the labels of these last two bottlings familiar. The artwork – created by Andrew ‘Whisky Hobo’ Soetino – pays tribute to Whisky Exchange founders Sukhinder and Rajbir Singh who leave the company this year to embark on new adventures in the world of fine spirits. The typeface used is taken from The Nest in Hanwell, the off license opened by Narinder and Bhupinder Singh in 1971. It was working in their parent’s shop that our founders developed the passion for whisky that made all of this possible.

We hope you’ll join all of us on the Whisky Show team in raising a glass and wishing them a hearty slàinte mhath.


An Orkney Distillery 2000 22 Year Old

Refill Hogshead #41
Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Highlands

52.7% – 70cl  

The first of our three bottlings for Whisky Show 2023 comes from a venerable distillery in the Orkney islands. We can’t say which one, but the keen-nosed will be able to make an educated guess. Full maturation in a refill hogshead means that the oak influence is nicely restrained, allowing the quality of the underlying lightly smoky spirit to really shine.

Nose: Heathery peat, beeswax furniture polish, linseed oil, white pepper and sackcloth. Brilliantly old-fashioned and probably a great example of whatever Orkney distillery this happens to be.
Palate: Nicely mineral at first, with oil lamps, polished brass, copper coins, peat kilns and brick dust. Then green apples, pears, lime juice, wood sorrel, brown butter, dandelion leaves and roasted green peppers.
Finish: That grassy, floral smokiness lingers along with a sense of earth and stones.

This feels like whisky from another time. Elegant and complex – slightly mysterious at points but totally intriguing.


Clynelish 2011 12 Year Old

First-fill Bourbon Barrel #880297
Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Highlands

56.4% – 70cl  

A real whisky drinker’s whisky distillery, Clynelish has made single malt on Sutherland’s east coast for more than 200 years. Its characteristic waxy, fruity, mineral profile is quite unlike anything else being produced today. We’ve found these 2011 casks to be of excellent quality overall, but we thought this one was particularly good and a fitting addition to our Whisky Show lineup this year.

Nose: Gummy bears, nectarine, yellow plum, and lemon oil. There’s also a floral side with irises, blossoms and wildflower honey.
Palate: All the Clynelish hallmarks are present and correct: candlewax, beeswax, olive oil. Then more stone fruit and candied pineapple with seashells, chalky white wines and Yellow Chartreuse. The influence of that first-fill bourbon barrel grows over time with toffee, crème anglaise and honey granola.
Finish: Sweet anise, gentian, vanilla.

An excellent example of 2010s' Clynelish drawn from a particularly good first-fill barrel. This isn’t going to last long.


East London Rye 4 Year Old

First-fill Oloroso Barrel #229
Single Rye English Whisky, London

62.1% – 70cl

For the first time in Whisky Show history, we have looked outside Scotland to source one of our celebratory bottlings. This powerful, elemental whisky comes to us from East London Liquor Company in Bethnal Green. Made with a mash bill of 55% malted rye and 45% Maris Otter barley, and aged in a super-active sherry cask, this is unlike any other whisky we have ever bottled.

Nose: Oatmeal raisin cookies, dried cherries and red liquorice. Then intense cereal-y notes of Supermalt and Shredded Wheat.
Palate: Treacle toffee, raw sugarcane, super-dark chocolate, espresso, roasted peanuts and hazelnuts, dried oregano, salty umeboshi plums.
Finish: Long and powerful with more malty notes and chocolate dipped coffee beans

Totally unusual and utterly delicious. This opened up nicely with a bit of time in the glass, a drop of water revealed some of those fruitier chocolate and plum notes.


Loch Lomond 2009 14 Year Old

Cask no. 22/709-1
Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Highlands

55.6% – 70cl

One of Scotland’s most versatile distilleries, Loch Lomond produces an astonishing range of different styles and flavour profiles. This cask of un-peated single malt showed such a perfect balance of fruity spirit character and oak influence that we knew we had to have it for Whisky Show.

Nose: Runny honey, golden syrup, wine gums, buttercream, orange flower water, sultanas, vanilla.
Palate: Thick cut marmalade, apple juice, chewy flapjacks, digestive biscuits, fresh baguettes, rice pudding, more wine gums and yellow fruit pastilles. There’s a leafy peppermint note that keeps the sweeter elements from getting out of balance.
Finish: Fruity and creamy with oak spices and a touch of pencil shavings.

While it was once a relatively obscure name in the whisky world, bottlings like this show why Loch Lomond’s reputation has grown so much in recent years. An immensely likeable dram.


Kilchoman 2011 11 Year Old

Bourbon Cask #771
Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Islay

54.5% – 70cl

This relative newcomer to Islay draws inspiration from the farm distilleries that once covered Scotland’s Highlands and islands. There are precious few distilleries left that operate their own floor maltings and almost none that grow their own barley. At 11 years old, this is a more mature expression than the distillery’s usual lineup and it’s a great pleasure to see the spirit ageing so gracefully.

Nose: Earthy peat smoke hits you first, followed by perfectly ripe peaches, pears, vanilla, a drop of fruity sour beer.
Palate: Apple tart with vanilla custard, marzipan, white chocolate and oatmeal. Then Bananas, peaches and pineapples charred on the barbecue. A floral side emerges over time with white blossoms and jasmine tea.  
Finish: Long and satisfying. The fruitiness fades to leave you with smoke and stones.

This is what Islay whisky is all about, elemental and packed with character. The peat smoke is pronounced, but it never overwhelms the fruity notes or those delicate florals.


Dornoch 2018 5 Year Old

Cask #124
Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Highlands

We are delighted to bring you our final bottling for Whisky Show 2023, our first-ever exclusive single malt from Dornoch distillery. This intensely characterful whisky is made with 100% floor malted Plumage Archer – a heritage barley variety developed at the dawn of the 20th century – fermented for an absolutely silly nine days using spent brewer’s yeast. It was aged in a 100 litre American oak cask from Koval distillery in Chicago, which had also previously been home to a sherried malt from Benrinnes.

57.4% – 50cl

Nose: Quite funky and rum-like at first with some overripe apples and pineapples and good cider vinegar – followed by agave syrup, aloe, toasted malt and proving dough.
Palate: Big and oily, showing notes of grass, linseed oil, spruce and sage. There’s also a mineral side that brings chalk, plaster of Paris, putty, boot polish and a little hint of industrial smokiness. Salt and vinegar crisps and vanilla ice cream. Water brings out more fruit, watermelon rind and papaya. Totally atypical with loads of personality.
Finish: Complex and palate coating with fresh malt, grist and cultured cream.

The Thompson brothers have always been vocal about their mission to create old-style, fermentation-forward whiskies and this extraordinary dram certainly delivers. A real treat.


Glenrothes 1997 25 Year Old Thompson Bros

Refill Hogshead
Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Speyside

47.5% – 70cl

After building their distillery in a disused fire shed on the grounds of the Dornoch Castle Hotel the Thompson brothers began bottling whisky, rum and the odd brandy while they waited for their own single malt to mature. We have had the pleasure of working with Phil and Simon on a number of bottlings over the years and this Glenrothes shows all the quality and complexity we’ve come to expect from their casks.

Nose: Big and fruity. Apricots, cantaloupe, figs and vanilla pastries, then herbal with lemon balm, rosemary and mint. There’s also a hint of spent matches that’s very pleasant and very Glenrothes.
Palate: Nicely textural with limoncello, blood orange liqueur, grapefruit, almond, marshmallow and a little dried pineapple. Lots of little markers of mature single malt like shammy leather, old coins, gunpowder, flint and pebbles.
Finish: Seriously complex with lots of oils and resins and a bit of good salty butter on brown bread right at the end.

Another superb single malt from a refill hogshead and one that feels at times much older than its already considerable 25 years.

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