An Orkney Distillery 16yo (Master of Malt) & Williamson (Master of Malt)

Two releases from Master of Malt's own label today, both undisclosed in their own way.

An Orkney Distillery 16yo (Master of Malt)

Region: Highlands

ABV: 51.8%

Price: £59.95

Distilled in May 2006, this release was matured for 16 years in a refill bourbon hogshead before being bottled in October 2022. A total of 364 bottles were released. Master of Malt doesn't specify, but it's safe to assume this is from Highland Park.


The nose opens with notes of lemon bonbons, custard, coconut milk, mangoes, and peppercorns. Allowing it some time in the glass reveals scents of fresh-cut grass, saline solution, caramel, fresh earth, and honey. The nose is delicate, and while there isn't much smoke here, there is a hint of charred wood.


Initially, we detect notes of limoncello, caramel, and a hint of orange pith bitterness. The finish is medium length; however, the sweeter notes vanish rapidly, leaving behind a pleasant peppery spice. The mouthfeel is acceptable but leans towards being a touch thinner than we'd prefer. Revisiting it, we can pick out notes of vanilla essence, dry soil, and barley sugars. It doesn't taste of its ABV; we would have guessed it closer to 46%.

Nose (with water)

With reduction, we find that many of the sweeter fruity notes have faded, leaving behind crème brûlée and warehouse funk. For us, much of the pre-dilution complexity has vanished, rendering the nose somewhat one-dimensional.

Palate (with water)

A few drops of water have shortened the finish and slightly increased the spice. Similar to the nose, the palate is now dominated by the caramel and has become a bit one-dimensional. It goes without saying we'd skip adding water to this one. The mouthfeel remains largely unchanged.


Reading our tasting notes, you might think we didn’t enjoy this as there’s definitely a few points to nitpick here (like the finish), but it’s a nice easy drinker that we did in fact really enjoy. We’re not usually a fan of Highland Park, but this one surprised us. We’ll go with a 7/10.

Score: 7/10


A 16-year-old Highland Park for less than £60 is a bargain, which is why, unsurprisingly, this release is now sold out.

Williamson 7yo (Master of Malt)

Region: Islay

ABV: 47.8%

Price: £54.95

Distilled in October 2009, this release matured for 7 years in a refill bourbon hogshead and was bottled in August 2017. A total of 289 bottles were released. For those unaware, 'Williamson' is the term used for tea-spooned Laphroaig.


Initially on the nose there’s notes of iodine, antiseptic, TCP, and buttered brioche buns . With a bit of time and air, the nose develops notes of cashew nuts, chocolate lime sweets, and rock salt. While the peat shows predominantly as medicinal smoke, there's also a subtle note here that’s reminiscent of a neighbour's log-burning fire.


Initially, the palate offers more of that medicinal smoke, alongside eucalyptus leaves, honey, and crushed mixed herbs. The finish has a decent length, with the medicinal peat lingering. The mouthfeel is fine, though we can't help but think it might have been even better at cask strength. Upon revisiting, we can pick out notes of cloves, aniseed, and tar.

Nose (with water)

Adding a little water unveils notes of menthol cigarettes, star anise, and Christmas potpourri. The nutty aroma transforms into that of a pistachio cake fresh out of the oven. However, the trade-off for introducing water is a reduction in the medicinal smoke and overall peatiness, though hints of TCP and iodine are still fairly noticeable.

Palate (with water)

Reduction has diminished the mouthfeel, introducing a pronounced ashiness to the palate. The mixed herbs are more evident now, overshadowing the eucalyptus leaves. The palate has become earthier, with a hit of icing sugar sweetness. The finish is now shorter, with the ash lingering.


While good, as previously mentioned, we believe reducing this to 47.8% is slightly too low and has been detrimental to the dram. Nonetheless, it's a solid whisky.

Score: 7/10


Even watered down a little £55 for a 7yo Laphroaig isn’t a bad deal. Still available on the Master of Malt site for anyone interested.

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  • 10 - Perfection. One in a million
  • 9 - Outstanding. Exceptional whisky.
  • 8 - Great. Would seek this out.
  • 7 - Good. Quality whisky.
  • 6 - Above average. Happy to have a dram.
  • 5 - Average. Drinkable whisky.
  • 4 - Below average. Passable.
  • 3 - Flawed. Noticeable negatives.
  • 2 - Defective. Significant faults.
  • 1 - Offensive. Pour it out.

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    1 comment

    • Al

      Hi guys.

      The Williamson here does not appear to be teaspooned, since it is labelled as single malt?


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