Wednesday, 29 July 2015

New life for Bladnoch

Finally there's some good news from the southwest of Scotland. Bladnoch Distillery got a new owner and will soon be reopened. After six years of silence and the fear of a Littlemill scenario Lowlands spirit will flow from the stills at Bladnoch.

Before production is resumed, substantial investments will have to be made to meet environmental standards. If all goes according to plan, production could start by the end of 2016. Capacity will be approximately 1.25 million litres of pure alcohol.
The existing team of eight people can start working again in the warehouse and visitor centrum. New jobs will be created and provide a boost for the local economy.
David Prior

Bladnoch Distillery Limited is purchased by Australian businessman David Prior. He will be supported by former Scotch Whisky Association chief executive Gavin Hewitt. David Prior previously ran his familybusiness and an organic yoghurt company. With Bladnoch he seeks a new challenge in a new, already flourishing, industry.

The new owners will reinstate Bladnoch to its former glory while staying true to the brands legacy. With the sale they acquired a good stock of casks from 2000 - 2009 and even some older casks. How these will be bottled, has not yet been decided.  

The Australian flag has been raised next to the Scottish.

Twitter: @bladnochwhisky

Dalwhinnie Winter's Gold

Diageo will present a new Dalwhinnie in September. Of course “flavour” is the key word for their new single malt. Scotland’s coldest and highest distillery plans to use their location as a unique selling point. The result will be a whisky without an age statement that is only distilled in the coldest months of the year.

The reasoning behind goes as follows: The lower the temperature, the quicker alcohol vapours will rise and the less contact the spirit will have with the copper pipes. The result should be a sulphury new make eventually evolving into a rich honey and heather notes.

The spirit for Winter’s Gold is distilled between October and March. The whisky is a vatting of first-fill American oak, refill American oak and European oak.

Diageo’s Global Ambassador Donald Colville suggests to serve the Winter’s Gold straight from the freezer. It will enhance the honey flavours and the syrupy mouth feel even more. As the whisky warms in your hand, more aromas from heather, a little peat and spices should rise from the glass.

Forget everything you have learned about serving whisky at room temperature and make some room next to the grappa and limoncello in your freezer.

Winter is coming.

Available: September 2015
Price: €46 / £33
Alcohol: 43% ABV


Sunday, 26 July 2015

Benromach 15

A Tasty Dram Whisky Blog tasting notes

Everything that's good at Benromach + 5

The 15 year old Benromach is the newest addition to the Speysider's single malt range.

Ewen Mackintosh, COO of Gordon & Macphail, calls it "another milestone in the company's history". This single malt is said to be another testimony to the classic Speyside malts of the pre-1960's. Whisky that every proper whisky geek makes his mouth water in other words...

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Benromach 10 100° proof

A Tasty Dram Whisky Blog tasting notes

A heavy weight champion in the making?

The 10 year old Benromach got a big and powerful brother in September last year. The 100° proof is a high strength version (not necessarily cask strength, mind the minor difference) of the much revered 10 year old expression.

100° proof  is an old Imperial measure and has a naval history. The term dates from the 16th century when sceptical sailors wanted to ensure their daily portion of rum had not been tampered with. They proved the strength by mixing gunpowder with their drink. If the mixture ignited the rum was "proof". If not, sailors probably had some fun with their fists...

Friday, 17 July 2015

Murray McDavid's first Tweet Tasting "The Art of Maturation"

Murray McDavid logo
Murray McDavid is an independent bottler of single malt whiskies. The company was established in 1996 by the two men who resurrected Bruichladdich later on: Mark Reynier, Simon Coughlin, and ex-Springbank director Gordon Wright. It was named after Mark Reynier's grandparents, Harriet Murray and Jock McDavid.

Yesterday Murray McDavid organised its first tweet tasting. The bottler was well known for using traditions from the wine world (creating small batches instead of single casks to offer consistent quality) and their Leapfrog bottlings are now much sought-after. I must admit, this is a bottler that fell a bit under my radar until today.

They presented six new bottlings at once. Two eyecatchers were definitely a 1991 Glen Scotia and a 1987 Bunnahabhain. Let's see what Murray McDavid has in store.

The Art of Maturation

Murray McDavid made a name in the business by finishing whiskies in wine casks. By the look of it, I think there's one serious contender that has participated in their Additional Cask Enhancement (ACE) program. Can you spot it on the picture?

Murray McDavid Tweet Tasting 2015
The line-up for an evening with Murray McDavid

Benchmark Glen Scotia 1991

Glen Scotia is one of the remaining Campbeltown distillery although its story is one of frequently changing ownerships. In 2014 Sandy Bulloch sold the distillery together with Loch Lomond Distillery to Exponent Private Equity. The brand is undergoing some major changes at the moment. From time to time, some excellent single casks are released by independent bottlers.

24 years old, 46% ABV, natural colour, non-chill filtered, 1 year finish in Burgundy cask (ACEd)

Colour: Bright orange. Thick slow legs on the glass.
Nose: Elixir d'Anvers (an oily and sweet old ladies liquor). Fennel and raisins. A hint of Bonnezeaux wine. Oranges soaked in Cointreau. Dried apricots and cinnamon. Grapes and cherries.
With water: Even more sweetness. Blind I'd could mistake this for a rum. Melted brown sugar. Caramel flan.
Taste: Sweet. Coke-like sweet. Light and playful in the mouth. Big orange flavours. Reminds me of sweet red Dornfelder wines from the Mosel region in Germany. Cuba Libre or rum-Coke with watercress to spice it up.
With water: Caramel flan pushes through. Brown sugar and vanilla pods. Some bitter oak appearing.
Finish: Pretty dry aftertaste. Eucalyptus and Angostura bitters.

Mystery Malt 1992

What can you say about a mystery malt? All I know is that it was distilled in 1992 and the bottle from my sample pack shape shifted into another The Vatting. Tricksy stuff, as Gollumn would say!

Mission Gold Bunnahabhain 1978

Bunnahabhain is one of the eight active Islay distilleries and known to produce an unpeated whisky style. Although they also produce the classic Islay peated spirit. Independent bottlers (and me!) seem to have a knack for the "dirty and peaty" sherry matured Bunnas and this seems to be one of them. My very first whisky from the seventies...

50% ABV, natural colour, non-chill filtered, port pipe finish

Colour: Deep copper. Leaves an oily coat on the glass.
Nose: Bees wax and old port or madeira wine. A whiff of incense. Mint, eucalyptus, liquorice root and star aniseed. Sweet nougat and cherries.
With water: Something musky and lots of wood tannins.
Taste: Old Madeira and wood notes. Apple and tobacco leafs. Musk and a tiny hint of nutmeg. Big on cacao and cherry liquor after a few seconds. A powerful red port (not a real suprise, is it?) yet with a subdued sweetness.
Finish: Nutmeg and port. Old fashioned pipe tobacco and eucalytpus.

Select Grain Loch Lomond 1996

Loch Lomond is a Highlands distillery where they produce both malt and grain whisky. They also produce the Inchmurrin single malts. The brand itself is well known as the preferred tipple of Capt. Haddock in The Adventures of Tintin.

18 years old, American oak (refill), 46% ABV, natural colour, non-chill filtered

Colour: Pale yellow. Thin and fast legs.
Nose: A can of tropical fruits: Pineapple, peaches and maraschino cherries. Fresh crispy bread crust and coconut. Bread-pudding and chestnuts. Passoã passion fruit liquor. Soy milk and nail varnish remover.
With water: Some rubber notes. A perfume store. Lots of vanilla. Vanilla pudding.
Taste: Bread-pudding with apple. Bread crust. A hint of fino sherry (but less dry).
With water: Vanilla and coconut cream. Almond milk and chocolate.
Finish: Nuts and coconut. A soft yet long aftertaste. Some rhubarb near the end.

The Vatting Westport 1989

Westport isn't an actual distillery. You won't find in on the map although its provenance is no real secret. This is in fact a Glenmorangie in disguise with a few teaspoons of Glen Moray. So technically it's not a single malt anymore but a vatted or blended malt. By doing this, the casks could never get bottled under the name of Glenmorangie.

17 years old, sherry butt, 46% ABV, natural colour, non-chill filtered

Colour: Straw yellow whisky. Leaving slow legs after swirling.
Nose: A first impression of melons, grapes and honey. Ripe banana, maybe even banana soup (a tomato soup with mashed bananas. My very own youth trauma.). Zucchini and brackish water. Sauce provençale with thyme, lots of it. Grapefruit salad.
With water: Very few changes. A bit more vegetal and an extra pinch of black pepper.
Taste: Creamy honey and flower nectar. Syrupy pears. Sweet on the tongue, bitter to swallow. Figs and kiwi. Lemon peel and some dark cacao.
With water: Definitely pepper and ripe (too ripe) bananas. White chocolate and wet carboard.
Finish: A sweet sticky finish with a little bit of bitterness coming from woody notes and hard kiwi. Salty popcorn as well.

Crafted Blend 2003

A blend made with 30% malt whisky from 2003 matured in sherry butts.

Blend, 12 years old, 30% malt whisky, sherry butt, 46% ABV, natural colour, non-chill filtered

Colour: Golden yellow. Slow legs showing on the glass.
Nose: Lots of citrus fruits. Lemon and oranges. Sweet juniperberries. Burns a little bit on the nose. Marmalade with orange-peel. Malty lambic beer and poppy seeds.
With water: Sulpher from matches. Honeysuckle and rosewood. Orange flavoured barley sugar. A whiff of a wet sandy beach, clams and salty sea air.
Taste: Sweet from the start. Citrus candy and orange juice. Canned peaches. Red and green English wine gums. Biscuits with poppy seeds, sesame seeds and baked banana.
With water: Even more sweet notes and oranges with a zesty side to it.
Finish: English wine gums and banana. An almost crispy aftertaste.

The Tasting

This was quite a selection from the team at Murray McDavid. Highlights of the evening were the burgundy finished Glen Scotia, the Loch Lomond (I do love grains) and (of course) the 1978 Bunnahabhain.

The order in which the whiskies were tasted was the same as they are presented here. Most of us would probably have put the Glen Scotia and Bunnahabhain at the end. A bit uncommon but it worked out. The Crafted Blend stood firmly at the end and could be an excellent VFM dram.

All the whiskies are going to be bottled in 2015. Prices are not yet available. I'll make sure to add them to the reviews once they are known.

Next time however, I would go for less dramming. Four whiskies do the trick. A few of us got struck with "palate fatigue" near the end. Anyway, great work and a big thumbs up to Murray McDavid and Dean Jode for putting together such a lovely and fun evening. The doodles were always good for a laugh and some were pretty well done (Yep, that's you, Ansgar and Franck!).

#murraymcdavid Tweets


Sunday, 12 July 2015

Benromach 10

Benromach 10

The 10-year-old Benromach wasn't the first product on the road to success by Gordon & Macphail. Previously they released a Benromach Traditional, a Benromach Organic and a Benromach Peat Smoke respectively in 2004, 2006 and 2007. It was only in 2009 (11 years after the official opening) that Gordon & Macphail could present the current cornerstone of the distillery's range.

Benromach recently doubled its storage capacity (15.000 casks) and alcohol production (243.000 litres) and hired a third distiller (Brian Williams). Even with these upgrades, Benromach was supposed to remain Speyside's smallest distillery. However, they lost the title to Ballindalloch Distillery...

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Benromach 10 (2013)

Benromach 10 (2013)

When Gordon & Macphail acquired the neglected Speyside distillery Benromach in 1993, most connoisseurs knew that something very good was in the making. Twenty years later, the brand reached top-of-mind awareness amongst whisky geeks. Many of them describe Benromach as an 'old school' Speyside whisky as they were made in the golden sixties.

The 10yo Benromach is the first result of Gordon & Macphail's ambitious work. It became a milestone for the distillery and a cornerstone for the core range. The whisky consists of 80% spirit matured in bourbon casks and 20% matured in sherry casks for nine years. Both whiskies are married for a further 12 months in sherry casks.