Vintage Malt Whisky Company Tasting at Rozner’s Cellar

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This past week I attended a whisky tasting at Rozner’s Cellar in Kfar Saba. It’s a pretty interesting alcohol shop, they have a fair collection (by Israeli standards) of older whiskies including some real oddities, like a bottle of the Bailie Nicol Jarvie blend. They also hold the occasional tasting, this being the second I’ve attended there.

This time we were tasing a range of peated whiskies from The Vintage Malt Whisky Co. They’re an independent who bottle several single malt whiskies as undisclosed malts under their own labels, with the emphasis on providing accessible, but good quality whiskies. They’re also responsible for a number of regional market specific brands and the very good Cooper’s Choice single cask range.

The whiskies available for tasting were:

  • Islay Storm – A non-age stated undisclosed single malt from Islay, on the lower end of the price point. Most opinions I’ve seen say it’s either a Caol Ila or Bowmore.
  • Finlaggan Old Reserve – Another non-age stated undisclosed single malt from Islay, this is quite a widely available one, also at a budget price.The Finlaggan brand is quite a veteran one and the distillery that it originates from has long been the subject of speculation. Most of the opinions I’ve seen point to Lagavulin or Caol Ila.
  • Finlaggan Eilean Mor – This is an “enhanced” version of the basic Finlaggan, bottled at 46% ABV instead of 40% and apparently non-chill filtered (doesn’t say on the label, but the importer’s rep doing the tasting said it was and it certainly felt like it).
  • The Ileach – Another veteran label, named for the term used to refer to someone from Islay. This too is a non-age stated Islay single malt whose origins are hidden, said to be Lagavulin or Bowmore.
  • The Ileach Cask Strength – This version of the Ileach is boosted up to cask strength for extra oomph.
  • Blackface Charred Stock – Named after a prized breed of Scottish sheep, this is a bit of an odd one out here. It’s a blended malt made up primarily of  Talisker, Caol Ila, Glenrothes, Linkwood and Longmorn. The Charred Stock version is so named because it was matured in heavily charred casks.

One thing I must point out is that my notes might not be so good because I had a very hard time concentrating on the whisky. Unfortunately a bunch of guys had showed up to the tasting who had no interest in tasting, the downed the first 3 glasses right at the start, got pretty damn drunk and shouted over the poor guy trying to do the tasting the whole time. Everyone else complained, to which the drunk bastards replied with nothing but insults, but nothing was done about it. Was a really shitty experience.


Islay Storm

Aged 3 years*. 40% ABV.

*for lack of age statement

Nose: Young sweet peat. Socks. Medicinal peat. Cough syrup. Wet wood. Iodine. Salt.

Palate: Ash. Very ashy. Sour porridge. Bitter citrus. Bitter wood.

Finish: Medium. Ash. Porridge. Woodspice . Light Vanilla.

Would I buy this: No

Would I order this in a bar: No

Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: No

VFM: 3/5

Cheap as it is I’d avoid this one. It was very young, but not very tasty, there were a lot of the bad notes one finds on a young unrefined Islay malt with none of the nice parts. It’s hard to determine a distillery when it lacks much in character but I’d say Caol Ila due to the ashiness, although I’ve seen some very trustworthy sources say that this is a Bowmore.


Finlaggan ‘Old’ Reserve

Aged 3 years*. 40% ABV.

*for lack of age statement

Nose: Young. Sweet peat. Unbaked Sourdough. Marzipan. Nutmeg. Light wood. Cinnamon.

Palate: Weak. Light Woodsmoke. Juicy red fruits. Iodine. Ash. Ash ash.

Finish: Short. Light Smoke. Salt. Dry wood tannins. Cough syrup.

Would I buy this: No

Would I order this in a bar: No

Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes

VFM: 3/5

Still not what I’d call a good whisky, but it’s a step above the Islay Storm. For what it is, a budget peated single malt, it’s not terrible, just nothing special. The sweet peat and ash point in the direction of Caol Ila for me, but the finish was kind of Lagavulin-esque. Hmmm…..


Finlaggan Eilean Mor

Aged 3 years*. 46% ABV.

*for lack of age statement

Nose: Sweet peat. Caramel candies. Nutty wood. Slight sulphur notes. Slightly sweet meat.

Palate: Bitter wood. Marzipan. Meaty peat. Slate. Wood tannins. Woodspice.

Finish: Medium-long. Meaty peat. Menthol. Cough syrup. More menthol. Unsweetened cocoa.

Would I buy this: No

Would I order this in a bar: Yes

Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes

VFM: 4/5

Now we’re talking. This one had a good deal more complexity and texture to it. Still a young and somewhat unbalanced but drinkable and possibly quite enjoyable. This was quite sweet and rich. Lagavulin is that you?


The Ileach

Aged 3 years*. 40% ABV.

*for lack of age statement

Nose: Sweet glazed meat. Young peat. Fresh bread. Lavender. Wet leaves. Mud.

Palate: Chocolate milk. Ash. Marzipan. Dry wood. Meh, kind of fizzles out after this.

Finish: Short. Bitter wood. Ash. Porridge. Stone fruits.

Would I buy this: No

Would I order this in a bar: No

Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes

VFM: 3/5

Cheap as it is, this one was kind of boring. The nose starts of kind of promising, but on the palate it just fades away really fast. Hard to speculate here.


The Ileach Cask Strength

Aged 3 years*. 58% ABV. Bottled at cask strength

*for lack of age statement

Nose: Maple syrup. Sulphur dioxide. Maraschino cherries. Charred wood. Charred stone fruits.

Palate: Dry wood. Maple syrup. Stone fruits. Medicinal peat, but not up front as one might expect. Dry fruit tannins. Pepper.

Finish: Long. Mineral peat. Bitter wood. Sweet wood spices, like cinnamon-sugar. Salt. Big stone fruit note.

Would I buy this: No

Would I order this in a bar: Yes

Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes

VFM: 4/5

Probably the best of the lot. The cask strength really adds a lot to this whisky. It’s still evidently very young and quite brash, but there’s a good melding of flavours here and a decent level of complexity that makes drinking it quite enjoyable. Leaning towards Lagavulin here, but someone else mentioned Bowmore and I might be inclined to believe them.


Blackface Charred Stock

Aged 8 years. 46% ABV. 

Nose: Lychee. Garden Peach. Pear in wine space. Rum soaked raisins. Currants. Woodspice.

Palate: Very peachy. Very fruity. Bitter wood tannins. Wood spice. Sticky Raisins.

Finish: Long. Bitter wood. Sweet fruit. Peaches. Yellow cherries. Maple syrup.

Would I buy this: No

Would I order this in a bar: Yes

Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes

VFM: 4/5

This was a really nice dessert whisky. The smoke here was more laid back and all the lovely sweet woody notes from the heavily charred casks shone through quite nicely. Note the most complex of whiskies, but very nice, especially as it’s quite cheap.


This would have been an interesting tasting were it not ruined by the drunk bastards who came to get pissed. I didn’t really hear much information from the brand rep and what I’ve written here is largely based on my own knowledge. I have seen these whiskies around quite a bit and was always curious about them, yet wasn’t willing to get a bottle without trying some, and not my curiosity is satisfied.

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