Wednesday, 29 October 2014

News: The Whisky Exchange 15th anniversary bottlings

TWE presenting a 17yo Arran & a 40yo Glen Garioch

Oh my sherry-goodness! To celebrate their 15th anniversary (and their new website) The Whisky Exchange launches two heavily sherried whiskies. One from a young Island distillery and a fabulous Seventies bottling coming from the Highlands.

Arran 1996

  • 17 years old
  • Bottled June 2014
  • 245 bottles
  • 55.7%
  • £84.95

A big-sherry-cask-matured whisky from the young Arran distillery. More heavily influenced by the cask than standard Arran whiskies yet still showing the distillery character on the palate.

Tempted to buy it already?

Glen Garioch 1973

  • 40 years old
  • Distilled November 1973
  • Bottled 2 February 2014
  • 138 bottles
  • 54.3% ABV
  • £899

This 40-year-old bottling combines that trademark peat and smoke with the fruity flavours produced by long ageing, and dried-fruit notes typical of sherry-cask maturation. It has the hallmarks of those venerable Glen Garioch sherried vintage bottlings of 1968 and 1971.

It maybe out of my budget league but given it's age this is an affordable Glen Garioch.

Source and images: The Whisky Exchange


Sunday, 26 October 2014

Bruichladdich The Organic

Bruichladdich The Organic

Bruichladdich The Organic is the successor of the original Organic 2003 Vintage. This is a multi-vintage vatting from three farms: William Roberts from Mains of Tullibardine, William Rose from Midcoul and Neil Scobie from Coulmore. This ├╝berprovenance whisky again centralises the terroir marketing story.

As is the case with most Bruichladdichs, this is a whisky without an age statement, bottled at 46%, unchillfiltered and natural colour. The new Regime slightly modified this quality mantra to 50% ABV for the new The Organic Scottish Barley.

Friday, 24 October 2014

News: Wemyss Malts 1997 Bunnahabhain Single Cask for Belgium

Barbecue Smoke

The Belgian importer for Wemyss Malts will be presenting a brand new 1997 Bunnahabhain for the Belgian market. This shiny new whisky from our favourite Scottish island (Islay, what else?) will probably be presented on the Spirits in the Sky festival in Brussels on November 8.

Some technical details:
  • Distilled 1997
  • Bottled 2014
  • 46% ABV
  • 273 bottles available
  • Islay

Tasting notes from Wemyss Malts

Golden Syrup.

Nose: A singed brown paper bag containing grilled apricots and damp clods of rooty earth. A sweet, almost perfumed aroma like quality vanilla nougat and flaked almonds completes this intriguing aroma.

Palate: Delicate peat surrounds the fruity flavours with good integration. Candied fruits buried in malt loaf with the charred flavours holing court throughout.

Finish: The smoke stay with a sweet oily complex.

Since I won't make it to the festival, I sure hope that my colleague will fetch me a sample of this Bunna. (Yep, Laurent, that's you I'm talking about!)

source: Wemyss Malts

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

News: Arran finishes the redesign of the core range

Isle of Arran Distillers redesigned its core range of whiskies recently. The youngest of the pack, Lochranza Reserve, was given the scoop. And now the standard 10 years old, the 12 years old cask strength and the 14 years old got a new outfit.

image: Whisky Intelligence

Isle of Arran Distillers has given its core range of single malts a makeover after being inspired by the dramatic landscapes of the place where the whisky is made. The colours are chosen to reflect the landscapes on the island that calls itself "Scotland in miniature".

The Arran Ten Year Old Malt, the distillery’s classic expression and flagship bottling, has been redesigned in shades of green which reflect the mossy green of Arran’s hills.

The Arran 12 Year Old, the only cask strength expression in the core range, now comes in shades of grey inspired by the rugged rocks and stones that adorn the island.

The 14 Year Old has shades of purple in an echo of the heather scattered across Arran’s hills.

The new look of the Lochranza Reserve uses shades of blue inspired by the often dramatic skyline of Arran.

Retailing at £32.99 to £44.99, the Arran core range is available from specialist whisky shops and from


Sunday, 19 October 2014

Open tasting: The Scotch Malt Whisky Society Benelux & Germany

Calypso Roosendaal, 11 October 2014

The Dutch branch of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society opens its doors twice a year (or rather their second base of operations: Calypso in Roosendaal) for members and non-members. Everyone can have a taste of the present Society outturn.

At the same time, they organise a Whisky School or Master Class for a group of 25 people. The chairman for Benelux, and above all jovial Scotsman, Kenny Macdonald captivates his audience with stories from his homeland and the Society.

Rain plus Brussels Ring and Antwerp Ring are not a good combination to make it on time. So I arrived twenty minutes late and missed the introduction.
Eleven people did subscribe for the Whisky School. The majority of them weren't Society members. Only three people were. I'm curious how many new members joined after spending the afternoon with Mr Macdonald.

He planned a tasting of 5 whiskies, one from each region:
  • Lowlands: 5.39 A Vibrant promise of Spring (Auchentoshan, 15 yrs, 58.7% ABV, refill hogshead).
  • Speyside: 36.77 Wee secrets of flavour (Benrinnes, 17 yrs, 59.1% ABV, refill barrel).
  • Campbeltown: 27.107 To the Manor born (Springbank, 16 yrs, 56% ABV, refill Gorda).
  • Islands: 31.28 Going nuts in a rugby club changing room (Isle of Jura, 25 yrs, 52% ABV, refill hogshead).
  • Islay: 53.186 Home and Away (Caol Ila, 23 yrs, 54.2% ABV, refill hogshead).

While tasting these drams, he passed on some basic knowledge of Scotland's geography and the influence of it on the whisky making process. If there's one advice that really needed to stick, it's this: "Do not let anyone tell you how to drink your whisky (with or without water or ice).". Find your own way and experiment to find your sweet spot.

Of course, the almost obliged whisky making process was not forgotten. By using a scale model, the participants were shown the life cycle of whisky from grain to liquid gold.

To finish the afternoon he showed us a somewhat dated Diageo brand movie. I'm guessing the commercial was nearly 15 years old. VHS quality, Tom Selleck moustaches, 10-year-old Glenkinchie and age statements were still praised. Nice to see how the marketing dept. of a company can change course completely in less than 10 years.

There is yet another reason why the whisky school is recommended, whether you are a whisky virgin or not. Being read the (sometimes over the top, I agree) Society tasting notes by a pureblood Scot... You'd book the same course every year. And €25 for five whiskies, snacks and an introduction (or being brushed up) into whisky seems a fair price to me.

The open bottle tasting afterwards was impressive. Some 70 bottles could be tasted at €3 per glass, regardless of the age or price of the whisky. Fortunately, someone left a list to decode the Society numbers and the people behind the counter knew their drams.

But allow me to formulate a few suggestions for next tastings:
  • The bottles could be categorized by the 5 classic regions or by the 12 SMWS flavour clans? Five smaller tables are far less daunting than one big table.
  • A takeaway shop could be an advantage. Tasting, approving and having the possibility to take the bottle home should trigger impulsive buyers.
  • Events like this are most welcome in Belgium. And it won't be that hard to find volunteers to help you organise it.
P.S. Thank you for the generous samples and see you next year!


Sunday, 12 October 2014

Nikka from the barrel

Nikka from the barrel
Picture The Whisky Exchange

Masataka Taketsuru, the godfather of Japanese whisky, stood at the cradle of 2 behemoths in his country: Yamazaki and Nikka Whisky. Both companies attained an international status that easily rivals the golden nectar from the mother country.

Nikka from the Barrel is a no age statement blend composed of Yoichi single malts and Miyagikyo grain whiskies. After the blending process, the whisky is re-casked to marry the aroma's and flavours and form a harmonious entirety.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Dochter van de Korenaar Embrasse Peated Oak

Dochter van de Korenaar Embrasse Peated Oak

Dochter van de Korenaar is a Belgian microbrewery. The Dutch Ronald Mengerink runs his craft brewery in Baarle-Hertog. The name of the brewery is inspired by a quote of Charles V that was written down in the chronicles of the city of Mechelen: "Ik kan beter tegen het sap van de dochter van de korenaar, dan tegen het bloed van de druiventros". Loosely translated as "I’m a better match for the juice from the daughter of the ear of corn than for the blood of a bunch of grapes."

Peated Oak. The first batches matured in casks that previously held Connemara whiskey from the Cooley Distillery. The June 2013 batch was lagered in Lagavulin and Ardbeg casks. Don't be fooled by the sticker stating "Peated whiskey cask"...
Time for my very first beer review!

Identity Card Dochter van de Korenaar Embrasse Peated Oak

  • Official bottling from Dochter van de Korenaar
  • Alcohol: 10 % ABV
  • 66 cl
  • batch June 2013
  • matured on Lagavulin (2/3) and Ardbeg (1/3) ex-bourbon casks

Belgium vs Scotland: 1 - 1

Tasting notes

Colour: Embrasse is a dark beer with a red hue and a firm foamy head. It is best served between 10°C and 15°C.

Nose: The nose is creamy. Sour cream, old leather and hummus or chickpeas. Lots of fruity notes from ripe strawberries and tropical fruit. I'm thinking of passion fruit.

Taste: The sweetness continues on the tongue. Red fruit, honey and burned caramel. The Islay influences are getting a bit more tangible. A pleasant and lightly smoked beer with a good punch.

Finish: The finish is bittersweet and mineral.


The beers from De Dochter van de Korenaar are a rare find but very much worth the hunt. Embrasse is a typical winter beer that conserves easily and deserves to be enjoyed slowly. Or as the brewer states it: "A beer to treasure". And if the good man starts to season his beer with the finest Islay liquids...

PS: There are versions available matured solely on Ardbeg or Laphroaig casks!

Friday, 3 October 2014

News: Kilchoman Original Cask Strength

The Original Cask Strength release is a vatting of ex-bourbon barrels bottled at 59.2% ABV. This special edition is 5 years old and at cask strength. The nose and palate have soft peat packed full of ripe fruit and citrus notes with a long clean finish.

Kilchoman Original Cask Strength will be available from today on Kilchoman's website and throughout worldwide markets in the coming days. The RRP is £69.