Tuesday, 4 December 2018

A Tasty Dram's 2018 Christmas Guide

A Tasty Dram's 2018 Christmas Guide


The first empty doors of the boozy advent calendars are popping up on social media, Christmas trees are decorated and people are inundating their followers with #whiskysanta wishes. That means it's time to start compiling the annual Christmas gift list for whisky geeks and occasional whisky drinkers.
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Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Gordon & Macphail Private Collection Inverleven 1985

Gordon & Macphail Private Collection Inverleven 1985


Tonight we'll dive into the second release from Gordon & Macphail's new-look Private Collection, a 1985 Inverleven.

The Inverleven Distillery was actually a distillery within a distillery. This compact distillery was built on the Dumbarton grain distillery site. The malt whisky produced on site was used in Ballantine's Scotch whisky. In 1956 Hiram Walker installed an experimental Lomond still at Inverleven.

Much of the distillery equipment was saved from demolition by a team of ten distillery workers from Bruichladdich. The Lomond still - nicknamed "Ugly Betty" is still in use at Bruichladdich to distill The Botanist Gin. The wash and spirit still were also shipped to Bruichladdich but were never used. Nowadays these stills work their magic in Mark Reynier's Waterford Distillery in Ireland.

Identity Card Private Collection Inverleven 1985 cask #562

  • Independent bottling from Inverleven Distillery, Dumbarton (Lowlands)
  • Gordon & Macphail Private Collection
  • Cask #562 - refill bourbon barrel - 130 bottles
  • 1974 vintage single malt Scotch whisky
  • Alcohol: 57.4% ABV
Dumbarton Distillery
Picture: Eddie Mackinnon - Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Tasting notes

Colour: Gold in colour with a fat texture.

Nose: Roasted coconut. Sweet and soft. Honey, caramelised pineapple and demerara sugar. Popcorn and sweet apple. Lemon-cheesecake, Key lime pie, linseed oil, orange and candle wax.
With water: Somewhat dustier. Coconut and banana. Vanilla and brioche or sweet buns. Jamaican pepper.

Taste: A peppery start. Having a bite of an unpeeled red apple. Grapes. Coconut and mint versus coffee and caramel. A heap of dark cacao and muesli or granola with seeds and malt.
With water: Vanilla brioche with slices of banana and coconut. Creamy and sweet. Granola sprinkled with brown sugar.

Finish: A long and soft finish. Vanilla, sugar and wood with a touch of mint and heather.

I don't have any previous experience with Inverleven but it's a great start. When re-reading my notes on a 1991 Bladnoch from Malts of Scotland, there are some similarities in the tasting notes. Same region and the same type of barrel but Bladnoch was more widely available than Inverleven.  Solid quality whisky but it comes with a price tag.

Read the full background story on the Inverleven stills on Waterford Distillery's website.

Sample Disclosure: Samples of the new Private Collection were offered by Gordon & Macphail. Opinions expressed in this review remain of course my own.
Bottle Image: Gordon & Macphail Media Centre
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Sunday, 25 November 2018

Gordon & Macphail Private Collection Glenrothes 1974

Gordon & Macphail Private Collection Glenrothes 1974

Gordon & Macphail recently revised their entire core range. The Private Collection, featuring rare and older single casks,  are selected by a member of the Urquhart family.

Stuart Urquhart - who also selected cask #512 filled with 1961 Longmorn - picked the first two Private Collection whiskies with the newly designed bottles: a 1974 Glenrothes and a 1985 Inverleven.

The Glenrothes distillery has been in de hands of Edrington and its predecessor for roughly 130 years. The whisky was mainly used in blends such as Cutty Sark from Berry Bros. & Rudd.  Glenrothes as a single malt brand is much younger. The first official 12-year-old whisky first appeared in 1987. This 1974 single cask predates the official single malt whiskies from The Glenrothes.
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Monday, 19 November 2018

The Big Fat List of Feis Ile 2019 whiskies

2019 is still some weeks ahead but it's time to start compiling the annual list of upcoming Feis Ile whiskies and events. It is easily one of the most read articles of the first half of the year so without further ado let's dive into the frenzy of the Islay Festival of Malt and Music!

Islay - The American Monument


Ardbeg

Ardbeg is always one of the first distilleries that prepares for Feis Ile. The 2019 Ardbeg Drum is a rum-finished single malt. Expect a Carribean themed Open Day!

Ardbeg Drum


Picture: Colas Online

Take Ardbeg Scotch whisky from ex-Bourbon casks, rest it awhile in ex-rum casks from the Americas and you have... Ardbeg Drum. A flamboyant jamboree of flavours with fragrant pine resin, woodsmoke and seaspray dancing alongside ripe banana and pineapple. Lavender, liquorice and vanilla sway into rich dark chocolate before parading into a long smoky finish.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

The independent bottler SMWS already has plans to bottle a 10YO Caol Ila for Feis.

SMWS 53.286 - Salt strewn on smoky marmalade (Caol Ila)

SMWS 53.286 - Salt strewn on smoky marmalade
Picture: Colas Online

Source: Colas Public Registry

Entries from the TTB Public Registry (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau) are a fairly reliable source for upcoming new whiskies. Although not all entries make it to the market. There’s always the possibility a brand decides not to launch a whisky, even if the label has been approved. Until the distillery sends out a press release, this whisky should be considered a rumour…
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Sunday, 18 November 2018

Tomatin 30YO (2018)

Tomatin 30YO (2018)

Tomatin launched in September 2018 a new 30-year old single malt in its range. The new whisky will replace the 1988 Vintage.

The single malt was finished in first-fill ex-bourbon barrels and was bottled at 46% ABV.

The first batch of around 3.000 bottles will market for around £300 or a price close to €337.

Graham Nicolson, Tomatin’s Sales Director, said, “This luxurious expression is elegant and flavourful – a neatly packed whisky with taste sensations to delight the senses. From the spices that add an incredible depth to the creamy buttered vanilla that brings an unbelievable layer of richness – the 30 Year Old is definitely one for every whisky drinker’s gantry."
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Monday, 15 October 2018

Halloween Special: Pairing 9 whiskies with classic & contemporary horror movies

Halloween Special: Pairing 9 whiskies with classic & contemporary horror movies

Halloween - or Hallowe'en - is on the doorstep so it's time to open up my cabinet of horror and sci-fi DVDs for a fright night with appropriate drams.

The name Halloween was first used somewhere in the 16th century as a Scottish shortening of the fuller All-Hallows-Even. Scotland's national poet Robert Burns portrayed some of the customs in his poem Halloween. According to Burns, Halloween is "thought to be a night when witches, devils, and other mischief-making beings are all abroad on their baneful midnight errands".

Interested in the 28 stanzas of the poem?

I will once again pick 9 classic horror movies from my collection and pour a matching whisky when the ladies of the house are asleep.

Ready for a long night of horror movies and drams?

Poltergeist (1982) - Glenrothes 13YO Halloween Edition 2018



The Glenrothes distillery in Rothes lies next to the town’s graveyard. For numerous years distillery workers claim to have seen a ghost around the distillery. The ghost was described as a white-haired dark man that resembled Biawa Makalaga, the servant of Major James Grant. After professor Cedric Wilson "had a chat" at Biawa's tombstone, the issue was resolved. Even today it is not uncommon to hear people in Glenrothes doing a “toast to the ghost”. Ghosts, graveyards? Enter the eighties horror classic Poltergeist from Tobe Hooper. A young girl converses with a static TV-channel and a series of supernatural events unfold in the following days. The house had been built upon the site of a cemetery. No surprise that the restless ghosts aren’t exactly friendly to the invading Freeling family… "They're here..."

Glenrothes 13YO Halloween Edition 2018
Picture: The Glenrothes


Horror Express (1972) - Tamdhu Batch Strength



The Tamdhu distillery was built next to the Strathspey railway. Railways were an important part of the logistics chain in the Victorian age to supply distilleries with malted barley and to transport whisky to the brokers and resellers. At first sight, The Horror Express is a classic whodunnit movie. The greater part of the movie is set on the Trans-Siberian Express from Chine to Moscow. A British anthropologist - the late Christopher Lee - travels with a crate containing the remains of a primitive creature. The creature starts a killing spree on the train and slowly its true identity is revealed: a formless extraterrestrial that uses the bodies of living creatures as a host. The two of you together. That's fine. But what if one of you is the monster? - Monster? We're British, you know.

Tamdhu Batch Strength
Picture: Tamdhu


Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) - Bowmore 12



The entry age statement whisky of Islay's Bowmore Distillery is a classic dram. A mixture of sweet heather, honey and dirty smoke. And still readily available for smaller wallets. When looking upon the Bowmore distillery from the coast, it is easy to imagine the infamous boiler room from the teenager's dreams. The habitat of Robert Eglund's character, a ghastly razor-fingered child killer, is filled with smoke and oil fumes. The smell of burnt flesh and sweet perfumy notes of children's bedrooms making it an ideal combo with Bowmore 12. Why are you screaming? I haven't even caught you yet.

Bowmore 12YO
Picture: Bowmore


Rubber (2010) - Kilchoman Loch Gorm



Rubber is a movie about a tire that starts killing people with its psychic powers. Yes, you read it right the first time. The main character is a car tire with a Jack The Ripper attitude. The first victims of Rollin' Robert are a plastic bottle and a scorpion. Our killer-tire learns to use his psychokinetic powers to kill harder targets such as a beer bottle and a rabbit. To make things even a bit more absurd, there is an in-movie audience that gets completely killed-off by the murderous tire. The rubbery notes of Kilchoman sherry-matured single malt are the portal to this movie. I once nickname this whisky "Bicycle repairer in the E.R. after a mud fight". The teamwork between the Oloroso casks and the peaty Kilchoman spirits is almost as good as the bond between Batman and Robin. Smoke and rubber versus fruit and spices. Hey, wait! It's not the end! He's been reincarnated as a tricycle!




Kilchoman Loch Gorm
Picture: Kilchoman


A lonely place to die (2011) - Ben Nevis 10



A group of mountaineers meet up to go hiking in the Scottish Highlands. They discover a young captured Croatian girl and decide to bring her to safety. The rescue party is followed by the kidnappers who are trying to kill them and get the girl back. The movie isn't the biggest name on the list and Ben Nevis 10 has the same reputation. It is not a big name, it is not the most beautiful bottle but the quality is self-evident. A staple in the cabinet. Complacency is a killer out here.

Ben Nevis 10
Picture: The Whisky Exchange


Night of the living dead (1968) - Wigle Deep Cut Rye



Another classic horror movie that never made it to the previous two lists for some unknown reason. George Romero's first big movie wrote down the rules for the next generations of zombie movies. Although the word "zombie" is never used in the movie. Romero referred to the flesh-eating undead as ghouls. Most of the movie was shot in Pittsburgh., so one could see it as the birthplace of zombies. Wigle Distillery calls Pittsburgh the birthplace of American whiskey. Wigle mainly distills organic rye and wheat whiskeys. Too bad it is nearly impossible to find Wigle in Europe. A widespread investigation of funeral homes, morgues, and hospitals has concluded that the unburied dead have been returning to life and seeking human victims.

Wigle Deep Cut Rye
Picture: Wigle


El Dia de la Bestia (1995) - Compass Box Story of The Spaniard



This is a case where I started looking for a movie to go with a certain whisky instead of the other way around. Compass Box's new blend The Story of Spaniard - a mix of Spanish red wine casks, sherry casks and virgin French oak cask - is a permanent addition to the core range. It will join the ranks of Oak Cross, Spice Tree and Peat Monster blended malt. But back to the movie. This Spanish horror comedy revolves around three characters: a Spanish priest committing as many sins as possible, a death metal salesman and the host of an occult TV show. Their mission: preventing the Antichrist to enter our human world. Well, it's fundamental. lt inspired me to see the Apocalypse not as an allegory but as an equation.

Compass Box Story of the spaniard
Picture: Compass Box


Army of Darkness (1992) - Johnnie Walker Black Label



The loud-mouthed braggart Ash Williams returns once again to fight the Deadites and to retrieve the Necronomicon. Sam Raimi's third instalment gained cult fame in the second half of the 90's. Our oneliner-spitting anti-hero ends up in the Middle Ages with his chainsaw, shotgun and Oldsmobile Delta 88. This part comedy part horror movie is dirt cheap, it looks dirt cheap but it has an army of loyal followers. Much like Johnnie Walkers Black label. It's dead cheap, it is far from the best whisky out there but it has a loyal following, even malt maniacs will grab it from time to time. It is a classic blend and a huge step forward compared to the Red Label. Sure, I could have stayed in the past. I could have even been king. But in my own way, I *am* king.

Johnnie Walker Black Label
Picture: The Whisky Exchange


The Birds (1963) - Caol Ila 12



The Birds is but one of the many classics from Alfred Hitchcock. A quiet harbour town, Bodega Bay, suffers from a flock of violent birds. The attacks are always coming in waves and follow a consistent pattern. The birds gather, attack suddenly and disappear again to gather somewhere else. Say hello to mister Consistency that has his roots in a quiet harbour town: Caol Ila. The official 12YO might be a bit underrated but it is damn fine whisky. And the still house offers a perfect view of the sound of Islay. I have never known birds of different species to flock together.

Caol Ila 12
Picture: The Whisky Exchange

What is your favourite Halloween movie en whisky pairing
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Sunday, 7 October 2018

Gordon & Macphail Private Collection Longmorn 1961 cask #508 & cask #512


Gordon & Macphail Private Collection Longmorn 1961 cask #508 & cask #512

The Longmorn distillery lies south from Elgin and not too far away from the Gordon & Macphail offices. The distillery was founded in the 1890’s in a prosperous period for the whisky industry. The greater part of the production disappears in blends of the Pernod Ricard group such as Chivas Regal and Royal Salute.
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Thursday, 4 October 2018

Game of Thrones presents an army of whiskies

Game of Thrones presents an army of whiskies

In collaboration with HBO, Diageo is unveiling the new White Walker by Johnnie Walker Blended Scotch Whisky and The Game of Thrones Single Malt Scotch Whisky Collection. The limited-edition whiskies are inspired by the iconic characters and the creative world of Westeros and beyond and are here to tide fans over during their wait for the eighth and final season.

(Johnnie) White Walker

(Johnnie) White Walker
  • Blended Scotch
  • Alcohol: 41.6% ABV

House Tyrell - Clynelish Reserve

House Tyrell - Clynelish Reserve
House Tyrell of Highgarden rules over the Reach, the lush and fertile region of Westeros. Like the Reach, Clynelish is positioned among green pastures and rolling hills, with scenic views of the North Sea. This vibrant, golden Scotch is light and floral, like House Tyrell, it’s not to be underestimated with its underlying complex combination of Highland and maritime qualities.
  • NAS single malt
  • Alcohol: 51.2% ABV
  • Price: $59.99

House Tully - Singleton of Glendullan Select

House Tully - Singleton of Glendullan Select
House Tully located at Riverrun, rules as the lord of e River lands. The power of water flows through both House Tully and e Singleton Glendullan Select as it is made on the banks of the River Fiddich in the wooded hills of Dufftown. Here they harnessed the water that flowed through the land utilizing a water wheel to power the entire distillery.
  • NAS single malt
  • Alcohol: 40% ABV
  • Price: $29.99

House Stark - Dalwhinnie Winter's Frost

House Stark - Dalwhinnie Winter's Frost
House Stark’s resiliency, strength and ability to thrive under the most intense situations are greatly shaped by Winterfell’s frigid temperatures. Dalwhinnie, known for being one of the highest distilleries in all of Scotland is cold and remote much like The North where House Stark calls home, making the two an iconic pairing. Extreme conditions are responsible for shaping the signature Dalwhinnie Winter’s Frost honeyed sweetness and spicy warmth. Naturally, it’s best served chilled or over ice.
  • NAS single malt
  • Alcohol: 43%
  • Price: $39.99

House Greyjoy - Talisker Select Reserve

House Greyjoy - Talisker Select Reserve
House Greyjoy rules the Iron Islands and worships the Drowned God. Talisker was a natural pair for House Greyjoy as this single malt is distilled on the shores of the Isle of Skye, one of the most remote and rugged areas of Scotland. The layered flavours and signature maritime character of Talisker Select Reserve are the result of its wave-battered shores. This liquid is an intense smoky single malt scotch with spicy, powerful and sweet elements combined with maritime flavours.
  • NAS single malt
  • Alcohol: 45.8% ABV
  • Price: $44.99

House Baratheon - Royal Lochnagar 12YO

Royal lineage drives the iconic pairing between House Baratheon and Royal Lochnagar. Similar to Robert Baratheon ruling the Seven Kingdoms upon the Iron Throne, Royal Lochnagar was deemed a whisky worthy of a royal family as it was granted a Royal Warrant after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited the distillery in 1848. Balanced with delicate fruits and spices, this taste
of royalty is best enjoyed neat.
  • 12-year-old single malt
  • Alcohol: 40% ABV
  • Price: $64.99

The Night's Watch - Oban Bay Reserve

The Night's Watch - Oban Bay Reserve
The Oban distillery sits beneath the steep cliff that overlooks the bay in the frontier between the West Highlands and the Islands of Scotland, separating land and sea, just as Castle Black, home of The Night’s Watch, sits between Westeros and the lands beyond The Wall. The liquid’s richness is balanced with a woody, Spicy dryness that The Night’s Watch could enjoy even on the coldest of nights.
  • NAS single malt
  • Alcohol: 43% ABV
  • Price: $62.99

House Lannister - Lagavulin 9YO

House Lannister - Lagavulin 9YO
Lagavulin is one of the most legendary single malt brands and has been crafted on the shores of Islay for more than 200 years – mirroring the meticulous calculation and tenacity employed by the Lannister’s in their rise to conquer the Iron Throne.
Ths single malt whisky is a roaring single malt that recalls the Lannister’s riches and is best served neat or with a single drop of water
  • 9-year-old single malt
  • Alcohol: 46% ABV
  • Price: $64.99

House Targaryen - Cardhu Gold Reserve

House Targaryen - Cardhu Gold Reserve


Fueled by the same fiery spirit of the fierce female leadership of Daenerys Targaryen, this single malt celebrates legendary women and their unwavering perseverance. The Cardhu Distillery was pioneered by Helen Cumming and her daughter-in-law Elizabeth during the 1800s, a time when the whisky industry was almost entirely male-dominated.
  • NAS single malt
  • Alcohol: 40% ABV
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Monday, 1 October 2018

Gordon & Macphail launches Longmorn Twin Casks


Gordon & Macphail launches Longmorn Twin Casks

Monozygotic or identical twins naturally attract more attention from people. The Yoruba peoples have the highest rate of twinning in the world, at 45–50 twin sets (or 90–100 twins) per 1,000 live births, possibly because of high consumption of a specific type of yam containing a natural phytoestrogen which may stimulate the ovaries to release an egg from each side. Europe has a rate of 9 to 16 twin sets per 1,000 live births.
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Sunday, 30 September 2018

Highland Park Loyaly of The Wolf 14YO


A Tasty Dram tasting notes Highland Park Loyaly of The Wolf 14YO

Highland Park unleashed a threesome of fierce animal into the global travel retail shops. The 14-year-old single malt nicknamed "Loyalty of The Wolf" is the middle-of-the-road whisky in the range. This  Orcadian single malt matured in a combination of sherry-seasoned American oak and ex-bourbon casks and was bottled at 42.3% ABV. The packaging states Sweet and Complex. Let's see if we can detect these flavours in the whisky
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