North British



North British distillery Was founded on the outskirts of Edinburgh and started production in September 1887 when it produced just under 1million litres of spirit during the remainder of that year. By the start of WWI production had increased to around 9million litres, but lack of cereals caused a cessation in production in 1917.  Distillation resumed in 1920, but the onset of prohibition caused another drop in production in 1925. Things picked up again after 1933 and by 1937 production was back to almost 9million litres per year. 1988 saw a record 61.6million litres of spirit being produced.

Brands Which contain North British grain whisky include Famous Grouse, J&B Rare, JW Black Label & Cutty Sark.





Signatory, North British, 51y, 55.6% ABV

Distilled 21.12.1959, bottled 31.1.2011

Refill Butt, Cask No.67876, bottle 258 of 289

Typical cost of this bottle;


This is a rather special bottle, firstly and most importantly I've always wanted to buy a bottle from my birth year (1959) but I'm not prepared to pay the prices demanded for single malts of that vintage so, upon looking around I decided to buy this bottle of North British single grain seeing as I really do tend to like older single grain whiskies. Secondly, it's special because this just happens to be my 1300th tasting note that I'm putting online and in commemoration of this I'm departing from my usual tasting note style just for this one, enjoy, I know I did:

This glorious dram sits glowingly in my Classic malt glass offering a colour of polished light oak. It's nose faintly suggests furniture polish along with some woodiness, but primarily I'm hit by the sweetness which takes me back to my childhood and summer evening outings to one specific travelling fairground with sweet aromas of candy floss and brandy snap. This sweetness turns slowly into a fruitiness hinting at apricot and peach-iness with an accompanying aroma of almond (marzipan). I could just sit and nose this one for hours.

When I finally move on to the palate I'm stunned by the enormity of this whisky, it's almost indescribably massive with a rich fruitiness, but not only the apricot and peach-iness of the nose as it has orange, lots of it. Not so much in a sharp citrus context, more like oil of orange and along with a creamy mouth-feel I'm left reminiscing of those Terry's chocolate oranges which were Christmas treats in my childhood. When I add 3-4 drops of water I get more dry oakiness on the nose and it gets much more smooth (if that was possible) in the mouth-feel. Even more water introduces a surprising new element to the palate in a suggestion of lquorice root. The finish is long, very long, almost never ending and massive on the back of the palate.

I've now tried this whisky a few times and written notes on three of those occasions. Each time I was taken aback by the enormity of it and describing it as massive, chewable and "just how a "Great" old grain should be. Aye, I used that word (Great) and although I don't give scores here in my notes "Great" means a score of at least 90 points. In this case my scores at the time were 90, 91 and 93. Allowing for differences with my palate on those occasions all I can now say is that it is indeed "Great" and definitely commands a score in the 90's, happy birth year to me.




North British, Single grain whisky, 1992-2007, 43% ABV

Independent bottling; Private Cellar

Typical cost of this bottle;

"Dram-atics" live review


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Yellow gold (9ct)

Nose: Light vanilla but this is quite weak and not much else happens for a few minutes. As time passes some delicate floral notes appear alongside newly cut wood and a freshness which is almost minty toothpaste.

Palate: Creamy and smooth with a distinct lack of pepperiness. Also light vanilla and very faint toffee or caramel, but it really is faint.

Finish: Medium to long, slightly bitter.

Overall Impression: I like delicate drams and love light, aromatic and floral, but this is perhaps just a little too light as it needs more depth and presence. If anything, the most presence is on the finish which has a little kick but is also slightly bitter. Perhaps it would benefit from a good few more years in the cask.



North British, Single grain whisky, 1962, 48y, 47.9% ABV

Independent bottling; Whisky Agency

Typical cost of this bottle; unknown


This "Whisky Agency" independent bottling of North British single grain whisky was part of a "Whisky Agency" masterclass at the Munich whisky fair in February 2011. Apparently it was one of a very few bottles brought to the fair as the rest of this outrun has already been allocated to a customer in (I think) Holland or Belgium, hence the lack of a proper label on the bottle.

Glass: Munich whisky fair

Colour: Rich gold

Nose: Initially floral then including malt, oats and light butterscotch. Very aromatic!

Palate: Delightfully floral butterscotch.

Finish: Long, floral and gentle.

Overall Impression: Very, very good!



North British, Single grain whisky, 1991-2011, 20y, 55.8% ABV

Independent bottling for Master of Malt

Typical cost of this bottle;

"Dram-atics" live review


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Pale yellow

Nose: Aromatic floral butterscotch with some grasses, hay and just a hint of Brasso. The floral characteristics of the grasses and hay increase with time in the glass and are eventually joined by creamy vanilla.

Palate: Distinct butterscotch with some summer fruits (peach, apricot & papaya), all with an over-riding pepperiness.

With 4 drops of water: The nose is even more aromatic with grasses, hay and butterscotch. Thankfully the Brasso has now disappeared. The palate has more fruit and butterscotch, plus some toffee and much less pepperiness.

With a further 4 drops of water: More wood and vanilla on the nose now. The palate is again more smooth and floral.

Finish: Long with mostly butterscotch and fruit although there is a slight pepperiness right at the end.

Overall Impression: I do like a good single grain and this is no exception. Very enjoyable.



Signatory, North British, 20.9.1991-24.10.2011, 20y, 50% ABV

Cask 259478, Californian sherry butt, bottle 153 of 632

Typical cost of this bottle;

"Dram-atics" live review


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Light amber

Nose: An initial burst of leather, wood and raisins is quite surprising in a single grain, but still most enjoyable. Some light floral notes begin to develop after 2-3 minutes, maybe hyacinth?

Palate: Very creamy mouth-feel with suggestions of toffee or fudge. Also some woodiness, sandalwood maybe. This is really very pleasant, but never very intense on flavour.

With 4 drops of water: The suggestion of toffee or fudge just intensified and enrichened to the point of suggesting treacle toffee.

Finish: Very long and gentle, quite subdued in flavour.

Overall Impression: Most enjoyable and those 4 drops of water really helped.



WhiskySpirits, North British, 1962-2010

Typical cost of this bottle; Unknown

"Dram-atics" live review


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Dark rich amber

this is filled with flora in a slightly perfumed soap kind of way. Don't get me wrong, this isn't bad, in fact it's quite wonderful with a freshness suggesting that perfumed soap. It also offers hints of musty wood and cherries.

Palate: This again suggests wood and cherries but it also includes hints of home-made fudge or creamy toffee..

Finish: This just goes on and on and on ...... in a quite luxurious way.

Overall Impression:
What can I say other than "wow", a true great that I could just drown myself in.



Adelphi, North British, 1962-2012, 50y, 44.2% ABV

Cask 39, one of 172

Typical cost of this bottle;


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Dark rich amber / teak

Nose: Intensely woody and fruity with lots of plums, raisins, currants and dark cherries. Some banana and custard too. Is that some brass polish (Brasso) in the mix or just remnants on aged country-house brass fittings?

Palate: Massive flavour punch with just about everything from the nose expanding across the palate. Very slightly dry with extra hints of butterscotch. Delightful.

Finish: Very long, dry and yet with a surprising creaminess.

Overall Impression: I'm impressed, very impressed. To the point of Greatness? Absolutely.



Douglas Laing, North British, Director's Cut series,

12.1962-4.2013, 50y, 53.3% ABV

Refill Butt, cask DL-Ref 9783, one of 150

Typical cost of this bottle;


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich dark amber

Nose: Lots of toffee in an intense and prickly way on the nose. Plenty of lightly toasted butterscotch too, then an almost, but not quite dark fruitiness. This is rich, lightly toasted and luxurious.

Palate: Lovely rich and tingly toffee-ness with what I can only describe as the flavour of caramalised apricot which, as I think about it, brings me back to what I described as 'almost fruity' on the nose.

Finish: Extremely long with that butterscotch repeating right at the end..

Overall Impression: This is rich, intense and just screaming to be enjoyed.



Old Particular, North British, 21y, bottled 2016

Typical cost of this bottle; Unknown


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Pale yellow (9ct gold)

Nose: An immediate leafiness reminiscent of an English country lane on a wet Autumn day. After some minutes this changes to mild butterscotch with raisins and a suggestion of rising bread dough.

Palate: No leafiness here, just a cocktail of fruitiness (think of apricots, peaches and maracuja) with hints of raisins too.

With 2 drops of water: Oodles of vanilla on the palate now.

Finish: Quite mild but long and fruity.

Overall Impression: Leafiness in whisky isn't my favourite attribute but it wasn't present on the palate, just lovely fruitiness.



Whisky Broker, North British, 26y, 51.1% ABV

14.01.1991 - 13.06.2017

Bourbon Barrel No.200311, bottle 26 of 206

Typical cost of this bottle; Unknown


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Extremely pale, almost water-like

Nose: Fruity with some almost leafy notes. As it settles I detect definite hints of fresh green apple which have developed from the original fruitiness which was more akin to peaches and apricots.

Palate: Very fruity with suggestions of peaches and that fresh apple-iness whilst offering a light black pepper-style tingle on the palate.

Finish: Long with lots of fruitiness.

Overall Impression: Nice and fruity with a good tingle.



The Grainman, North British, 27y, 48.6% ABV

Distilled Oct. 1988, bottled March 2016

Sherry Finish, Cask No.8, one of 282 bottles

Typical cost of this bottle; Unknown


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Deep yellow gold

Nose: I immediately detect the effects of that sherry wood finish with hints of toffee, caramel and even burning or smouldering wood ashes.

Palate: All I can say here is that everything from the nose not only translates to the palate but it's multiplied in intensity a few times over.

Finish: Long with yet more of that woody smokiness.

Overall Impression: I just love the woody smokiness.







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