Tuesday, 31 March 2015

News: Hunter Laing presenting smaller Hepburn's Choice whiskies

Hepburn's Choice
Independent bottler Hunter Laing, reputed for The Old Malt Cask, will launch this month 20cl versions of their Hepburn's Choice range. They hope to make single cask whisky more accessible for everyone.

Those who know me, know I have a soft spot for 20cl  bottles. It is the ideal size to subject a whisky to a thorough tasting session, you get to taste more whiskies for the same budget and and they take less place in your cabinet.

These bottlings are to be released in the coming month:

  • Blair Athol 12yo, 46%
  • Benrinnes 6yo, 46%
  • Fettercairn 7yo, 46%
  • Craigellachie 8yo, 46%
  • Glengoyne 7yo, 46%
  • Glen Moray 7yo, 46%
  • Talisker 5yo, 46%
  • Inchgower 7yo, 46%
  • Caol Ila 5yo, 46%
  • Mortlach 10yo, 46%

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Kilchoman 100% Islay 4th edition

Kilchoman 100% Islay 4th edition

Kilchoman is Islay's smallest and youngest distillery. When Anthony Wills started Kilchoman in 2005, he had the ultimate form of whisky craftsmanship in mind. From sowing the barley to bottling a single malt whisky. Everything should be done on his farm distillery.

Meet 100% Islay. Or replace that with 100% Kilchoman. Growing the barley on Rockside farm, malting and kilning, mashing and distilling, maturing and bottling. Every step in the process is done on site. Craftsmanship. Period.

Kilchoman released four editions of 100% Islay whisky to this day. The whisky is bottled at a higher strength (50% ABV instead of the usual 46%) and is peated to a lower level (25ppm) than the Machir Bay and Loch Gorm whiskies. The malt for these core range whiskies is bought at Port Ellen Maltings and contains 50ppm.

Monday, 23 March 2015

News: Compass Box Hedonism Quindecimus

John Glaser & Co. celebrating 15 years in business

News: Compass Box Hedonism Quindecimus
  • Hedonism Quindecimus
  • Compass Box
  • Blended grain NAS (20 years old)
  • 46 % ABV
  • 5,689 bottles
This new whisky marks the start of Compass Box' 15th Anniversary celebrations and is a tribute to our their bottling in 2000 – the original Hedonism – which explored a brave new world of flavour previously uncharted in the world of Scotch.

Official tasting notes from Compass Box

The combination of grain whiskies from different distilleries and of varying ages has created extraordinary complexity and juxtapositions of flavour. Indulgent yet lively, unctuous yet light,  a deep, sweet caramel coconut succulence combining with exultant tropical fruits.

It will be available in the UK and Europe from 15th April and from 1st June in the US. Hedonism Quindecimus (which means 'fifteenth') uses grain whiskies of between 20 and 32 years old from five distilleries.

5,689 bottles were produced for the world and the price will be about £125 in the UK, €160 in Europe and $175 in the US.  To fifteen years of joyful pleasure. To the thrill of exploration.

Source and pictures: Compass Box

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Aultmore 25

Aultmore 25
Picture: The Whisky Exchange

Aultmore was first produced in 1897. This smooth and little known Speysider can be traced back to Foggie Moss with its network of springs. The landscape is said to be a natural filter and purifier of the much-needed water and giving Aultmore its 'refined character'.

The 25-year-old Aultmore is the top of the line of the renewed core range (for now, a few older expressions are already announced). The 25-year-old features a small copper accent on the label and all bottles state a number.

Is this one as impressive as the entry level whisky?

Friday, 20 March 2015

World Whiskies Awards 2015


First held in 2007, the World Whiskies Awards are Whisky Magazine's product awards, searching for the very best whiskies in the world.

This year's competition saw more than 300 whiskies put through their paces during three rounds of rigorous tastings to win the coveted titles of the 'World's Best'.

Icons of Whisky

The Icons are designed to celebrate the people and places behind the great whiskies of the world, with the World Whiskies Awards taking care of the liquid later in the year.
  • Whisky Importer of the Year : Whisky-E Ltd.
    Whisk-e Ltd. has been importing Scotch whiskies from independent distillers since the turn of the century and has more recently extended its ‘craft’ portfolio to both beers and spirits. 
  • Whisky Retailer of the Year (Online): Royal Mile Whiskies
    Whether you are after a special gift idea, or just your favourite dram, you are sure to find it in this superb online store. Royal Mile Whiskies offers a fine selection of whiskies from all over the world as well as an A to Z of other spirits.
  • Whisky Retailer of the Year – Single Outlet: Berry Bros & Rudd
    Berry Bros. & Rudd have been trading from the same shop at 3 St James’s Street London since 1698, making it Britain’s oldest wine and spirit merchant.
  • Whisky Retailer of the Year – Multiple Outlet: Cadenhead’s Whisky Shop
    Established in 1842, Cadenhead’s is Scotland’s oldest Independent Bottler. Two of their nine shops are in Scotland, namely Edinburgh and Campbeltown.
  • Whisky Distributor of the Year: Southern Wine & Spirits
    Southern Wine & Spirits puts customers and suppliers at the forefront of everything the company does. It currently operates in 35 states and constantly strives to be the leading distributor of alcohol.
  • Whisky Visitor Attraction Manager of the Year: Julie Gorham
    Julie has played a key role in supervising and managing the Four Roses Distillery Visitor Centre since July 2004 and she spearheaded the remodelling of the huge and beautiful distillery completed in autumn 2012.
  • Whisky Brand Ambassador of the Year: Jack Teeling
    Jack Teeling is the founder and Managing Director of Teeling Whiskey Company.
  • Whisky Distillery Manager of the Year: Ian Chang, Kavalan Distillery.
    Ian Chang joined Kavalan distillery in 2005 as Master Blender but within his role he also encompasses that of Brand Ambassador, Director of Global Business Development and Head of Research and Development.
  • Whisky Visitor Attraction of the Year: Suntory Yamazaki Distillery
    The Suntory Yamazaki Distillery tour promises to teach you everything you need to know about how they produce a variety of distinctive single malt whiskies.
  • Craft Whisky Producer of the Year: St George Spirits
    St. George Spirits has been producing a fine array of artisanal products since 1982. Among these are single malt whiskey, bourbon, agricole rum, absinthe and a selection of gins, brandies and liqueurs.
  • Whisky Brand Innovator of the Year: Buffalo Trace Distillery
    Buffalo Trace Distillery has won numerous awards and titles over the years and recently added National Historic Landmark to the list. 
  • Whisky Distiller of the Year: The BenRiach Distillery Company
    In 2004, The BenRiach Distillery Company was established by Billy Walker, Wayne Kieswetter and Geoff Bell with the acquisition of the BenRiach Distillery in Elgin.
BenRiach DIstillery
Picture: BenRiach

Read all about the winners on the website of Icons of Whisky.

The Winners

The first awards
  • World's Best Flavoured Whisky: Master of Malt 40yo Speyside Whisky Liqueur
  • World's best Grain Whisky: Darkness! North British 18yo Oloroso Cask Finish
  • World's Best Pot Still Whiskey: Redbreast Pot Still 15yo
  • World's Best American Whiskey: Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey
Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey
Picture: Buffalo Trace

Blended Malts
  • Best Scotch Blended Malt: Wemyss Malts Velvet Fig!
  • World's Best Blended Malt: Nikka Whisky Taketsuru Pure Malt 17yo
  • Best African Blended: Three Ships Bourbon Cask Finish
  • Best European Blended: Black Mountain Whisky Selection BM no1
  • Best Irish Blend Tullamore D.E.W Phoenix
  • Best Japanese blended Suntory Hibiki 12yo
  • World's Best Blend: That Boutique-y Whisky Company Blended Whisky #1 Batch 1
That Boutique-y Whisky Company Blended Whisky Batch 1
Picture: Master of Malt

Single Malts
  • Best African Single Malt: Three Ships Single Malt 10yo
  • Best American Single Malt: Balcones Texas Single Malt
  • Best Irish Single Malt: Teeling Single Malt
  • Best Australian Single Malt: Sullivan’s Cove French Oak Cask Matured
  • Best European Single Malt: Mackmyra Iskristall!
  • Best Japanese Single Malt: Suntory Yamazaki 18yo
  • Best Lowland Single Malt: Highland Harvest Single Malt, Sauternes Wood
  • Best Highland Single Malt: Glenmorangie Extremely Rare 18yo
  • Best Campbelltown Single Malt: Longrow 11yo
  • Best Speyside Single Malt: Benriach 16yo
  • Best Islands Single Malt: Ledaig 10yo
  • Best Islay Single Malt: Ardbeg Kildalton
Ardbeg Kildalton
Picture: The Whisky Exchange

And last but not least....
  • World's Best Single Malt 2015: Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique

Kavalan Solist Vinho
Picture: The Whisky Exchange

Whisky Magazine Hall Of Fame


  • Jim Beveridge, Master Blender from Johnnie Walker
  • Seiichi Koshimizu from Suntory
  • Bill Lark, founder from Lark Distillery

Source & pictures: Whisky Magazine and World Whiskies Awards

Thursday, 19 March 2015

News: Tamdhu Batch Strength

Tamdhu Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky has unveiled a new Batch Strength expression without age statement to complement the brand’s existing 10 Year Old offering.

The special edition Tamdhu Batch Strength is bottled un-chillfiltered at natural colour. The Batch Strength expression remains true to the Victorian optimism of the brand, upholding their passion to create only the finest single malt. The first batch of this new expression has been bottled at 58.8% alcohol by volume.

Commenting on the new malt, Iain Weir, Marketing Director for Ian Macleod Distillers, said: “We’re extremely excited to be unveiling this new expression. Tamdhu is a brand that we are exceptionally proud of and it’s great to be able to extend the range from our existing award winning 10 Year Old malt”.

Price: £59.99

Official tasting notes from Tamdhu

Nose: Red berries, sultanas, walnuts, hints of pecan, delicate citrus and oak, creamy vanilla, cookie dough.

Taste: Powerful burst of richness, fantastically rounded with sherry oak, spice and dry fruit. Kept on the palate, lighter fruits come to the fore- apricot, orange and crème brûlée.

Finish: Rich, biscuity and malty, toast and marmalade with pleasing fruitiness lingering.

Source and picture: Tamdhu


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

News: Kilchoman Loch Gorm 2015

Kilchoman Loch Gorm
  • Kilchoman Distillery
  • 5yo
  • 46% ABV
  • Distilled 2009/2010 - bottled 2015
  • Oloroso sherry butts and hogsheads | 10.000 bottles
The 2015 release of Kilchoman's Loch Gorm has been announced. This third release consists of whisky distilled in 2009 and 2010 and matured in a mix of Oloroso sherry butts and smaller Oloroso hogsheads. These casks should give the whisky more intense flavours due to the contact between the wood and the whisky.

Kilchoman founder Anthony Wills said: “As well as this year’s release being slightly older, we decided to increase the ratio of single malt matured in smaller sherry hogsheads versus that matured in larger sherry butts. This increases the influence from the sherry casks and gives the whisky a striking intensity and richness. That said, the whisky retains the balance and complexity Kilchoman releases are well-known for.”

Official tasting notes

Nose: Soft, spicy and rich with some light smoke, dark chocolate and citrus.

Taste: Soft fruit and peat smoke.

Finish: Rich and sweet with persisting smoke.

Like the 2014 release this edition will be limited to 10.000 bottles. Loch Gorm 2015 is being bottled as we speak and will be released on Monday 23rd or March at 10am - RRP £63.00.
Source and pictures: Frans Muthert

Related posts

Whisky Review Kilchoman Loch Gorm 2014 "Bicycle repairer in the E.R. after a mud fight"

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Uisge Beatha Taigh Single Malt Irish Whiskey 2001

Uisge Beatha Taigh Single Malt Irish Whiskey 2001

Irish whiskey achieved something in the 19th century we all want: world domination. After the Prohibition, they never reached the same soaring heights and were surpassed by the Scots. It wasn't until the early nineties we started seeing signs of a renaissance.

Fast forward to today and Ireland profits from the worldwide whisky boom. Jack and Stephen Teeling are working hard on a new Dublin-based distillery. Irish Distillers invested €200 million in Jameson and former Bruichladdich saviour Mark Reynier will open the new Waterford Distillery.

Another sign of the boom in Irish Whiskey is the number of independent bottlings that are entering the market. Most of them are undisclosed single malts from Bushmills or Cooley. This particular Irish whiskey is bottled by Belgian shop Jurgen's Whiskyhuis under the Uisge Beatha Taigh label.

Identity Card Single Malt Irish Whiskey 2001

  • Independent bottling from an undisclosed Irish distillery
  • 13-year-old single malt Irish whiskey
  • Alcohol: 60 % ABV
  • Distilled 27 August 2001 - bottled 11 December 2014
  • Cask #9787 | 115 bottles

A gem from the Emerald Isle

Tasting notes

Colour: Straw yellow in colour. Like barley in summer. Slow legs are already promising me a delicious texture.

Nose: Quite a busy nose. Liquorice candy, wine gums and honey. A mixture of grains and honeysuckle. Coconut, hazelnuts and walnuts are giving it a sweet and obviously nutty layer. Add to that some Nutella and milk chocolate and this is a fabulous whiskey.
A few drops of water enhance the Nutella and chocolate. Some unripe bananas, a slight hint of cognac and marzipan.

Taste: The palate is rather rough at the first sip. Wood dust, porridge and barley sugar. The slightly sour and sharp notes make it interesting. Wood, cinnamon bark and vanilla balance it.
Water makes it a lot more palatable. It really pays to reduce the 60% alcohol by volume.

Finish: Woody and warm with some peppers.

Uisge Beatha Taigh Single Malt Irish Whiskey 2001


Jurgen's first bottling, a 20yo Ardbeg, was already an absolute stunner and this Irish whiskey walks the same path. A bit rash at first, but with a few drops of water a true gem from the Emerald Isle!

I'm not a big fan of the label, but the content totally makes up for it.

The whiskey is for sale at Jurgen's Whiskyhuis webshop for €81. Edit: The whiskey is discounted for Saint Patrick's Day. Price of the day: €77.

Related posts

Whisky Review Ardbeg 20 Uisge Beatha Taigh "Conan The Barbarian in a tailor-made suit on a Harley"


Sunday, 15 March 2015

Douglas Laing Rock Oyster

Douglas Laing Rock Oyster
Picture: Douglas Laing

Independent whisky bottler and blender Douglas Laing from Glasgow added a new blended (or vatted) malt to their core range including Big Peat, Scallywag and Timorous Beastie. Every expression bears the typical characteristics of a certain Scotch whisky region. Everything-that-is-good-at-Islay-boasting Big Peat remains the flagship of the brand. In recent years Fred Laing and company added Scallywag, a Speyside blend, and Timorous Beastie from the Highlands to the family.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

8 Irish whiskeys for Saint Patrick's Day

Ireland's public holiday approaches fast en is celebrated by Irish and non-Irish people around the world. Beer (sometimes green!) and whiskey flow richly on the Seventeenth of March. If you are looking for something that's not Jameson or Bushmills I can help you with a shopping list for your drinks cabinet.

Saint Patrick's Whiskey Selection

Teeling Single Malt

Teeling Single Malt
Picture: Teeling Whiskey

This single malt from the brothers Teeling is a vatting of 5 different wine casks: sherry, port, madeira, white burgundy and cabernet sauvignon. Bottled at 46% ABV and an absolutely recommended and budget friendly dram. Price: €62 / £44. The single grain and small batch whiskey (with rum cask finish) are equally top drams.

Redbreast 12

Redbreast 12
Picture: The Whisky Exchange

To some this is the best Irish whiskey in the world. It is an heir to the typical Irish whiskey style with lots of sherry influences and a tiny hint of smoke. Price: €43 / £31. Redbreast also offers a cask strength version of the 12yo, a 15yo and a 21yo.

Connemara Peated Irish Whiskey

Connemara Cask Strength
Picture: Wine Shop

A powerful and slightly unusual Irish whiskey. This brain child of John Teeling is distilled two times instead of three and uses peated barley. Price: €62 / £43.

Writers tears

Writers Tears
Picture: Stewarts Wine

Writers Tears is a light and sweet whiskey, made from single pot still and single malt whiskeys, resulting in honey and fruity flavours. Price: €47 / £34.

Titanic Irish Whiskey

Titanic Irish Whiskey
Picture: The Whisky Exchange

This is a five year old whiskey by the recently established Belfast Distillery Company. The name refers to the famous boat from Belfast. The blend is made out of whiskeys from Cooley Distillery. There's also a 10 year old version. Price: €56 / £40.

Greenore Single Grain 8 

Greenore Single Grain 8
Picture: The Whisky Exchange

The eight year old flag ship bottling of Greenore embodies the perfect balance between the ingredients that produced the whiskey, the way it was produced and the ex-bourbon casks that matured the whiskey. Price: €34 / £24.

Irish Single Malt 2001 Uisge Beatha Taigh

Irish Single Malt 2001 Uisge Beatha Taigh
Picture: Jurgen's Whiskyhuis

Jurgen’s Whiskyhuis regularly bottles whiskies. The first, a 20 year Ardbeg, was simply put superb. This 13 year old Irish single malt from an undisclosed distillery already sounds very promising. Be aware of the high alcohol by volume... 60% ABV. Price: €81 / £57.

A drop of the Irish

Picture: pinterest

A Drop of the Irish is a whiskey bottled by Robin Tucek, the man behind Blackadder with "a cunning plan". This whiskey changes regularly and will have different ages and ABV. There's a 11 years old peated version and a 14 years old unpeated whisky available. Price: €82 / £58.

Do you think I missed an important Irish whisky for St. Paddy's Day? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Gordon & Macphail Reserve Ardmore 1997 for Whiskywarehouse Belgium

A Tasty Dram whisky blog tasting notes

Ardmore distillery is yet another almost unknown Highlands distillery. Founded by the Teacher Family in 1898, the distillery was meant to supply malt whisky for the Teacher blend. It was Jim Beam who launched in 2007 the first single malt bottling of Ardmore, Traditional Cask. A bottling without age statement that was highly regarded by some whisky anoraks like Ralfy for its value for money. The Traditional got replaced by the Ardmore Legacy at the end of 2014 and is bottled at the minimal alcohol volume. Not the smartest move in my opinion.

Independent bottlers, like Gordon & Macphail, always had a steady offering of this peated Highland single malt whisky. Today I'll be looking into such a Gordon & Macphail bottling that has been exclusively selected for the Belgian market by Eric Vermeire from Whiskywarehouse. I laid my hands on a sample thanks to Stefaan from Whisky with Friends.

Monday, 2 March 2015

News: Laphroaig 15 celebrating the bicentennial

Return of the classic!
Laphroaig 15

  • Laphroaig Distillery
  • 15 years old
  • 43 % ABV
  • 2.500 bottles (initial release Friends of Laphroaig)
Laphroaig Distillery will be  releasing a special edition whisky for the brand's 200th anniversary. It is a release that is very close to many of the Laffie fans hearts, the much loved (and missed) 15 year old.

The first 2,500 bottles have been made available to The Friends of Laphroaig from as from today, 2nd March, until end of stock.

Laphroaig 15 year old was first created 30 years ago. Barrels were individually selected for their particularly mellow rounded flavour, then batch bottled at the higher export strength of 43% ABV. The resulting flavour soon became a firm favourite winning many awards.

Its highlight was being chosen for the famous ‘Erskine Charity Bottling’ in 2000 when 270 bottles were drawn from a single 15 year old cask signed by HRH The Prince of Wales for this charity of which he is a patron.

Thijs from Words of Whisky already wrote an extensive blog post on the return of this Islay gem: http://wordsofwhisky.com/laphroaig-confirms-15yo-coming-back/

But there is one really important sentence in the article that really merits to be quoted: "Campbell did mention that (and he wasn’t entirely sure about this) around 72.000 bottles would go to market."

The website has been down for most of the day due to the interest for this specific whisky...

website activity very high today, its the first 2500 bottles, more available in local markets soon and its same liquid.#understandyouwant15
— John Campbell (@LaphroaigJohn) March 2, 2015

The price will be (according to rumours)  £67.50. Some of the ones who did manage to buy a bottle already said to have paid approximately £84 / €115 (shipping to northern Europe included).

Source and pictures: Friends of Laphroaig


Sunday, 1 March 2015

Tomatin Cuatro Fino

Tomatin Cuatro Fino sherry cask

The four whiskies from the Cuatro series come from a spirit batch distilled on the same day. The whisky matured for nine years in American Oak casks before being transferred to four different types of Sherry butts for a period of over three years. As a result each of the four expressions have developed their own unique characteristics. Today I explore the first from the series: Fino sherry cask.

Fino is a pale and dry sherry variant and the most known and readily available variant. It is made from Palomino grapes and ages under a layer of flor. This layer of yeast prevents contact with the air and gives the sherry its yeasty and salty character.

But now it is time to explore the whisky and the flavours it inherited from the Fino sherry casks.