Sunday, 31 January 2016

Glen Elgin 2000 Gordon & Macphail Reserve for Maltclan

A Tasty Dram Whisky Blog tasting notes

The Belgian whisky club Maltclan has national fame for two things: the first is their their annual whisky fest is one of the best in town. A low entry price and high quality official and independent bottlings with knowledgeable people behind the counters.

Second: Their club bottling (from Gordon & Macphail) is always a good VFM whisky. The people at Maltclan usually pick a fruity Speyside cask. This one was already bottled in 2014 and held back to be released in January.

The distillery was designed by Charles Doig, architect of over 50 distilleries and was finished in 1898. Modernisation was introduced very slowly. Until the 1950's they still had an employee to light all the parafine lights. Glen Elgin is one of the main components of the White Horse blend. The other two being Lagavulin and Craigellachie. Glen Elgin was part of the giant DCL that bought White Horse Distillers in 1927.

The only official bottling is a 12 year old single malt that has been rather well received amongst whisky geeks.

Friday, 29 January 2016

News: Highland Park Ice Edition

It seems like Highland Park is working on a new whisky called Ice Edition. It is a single malt bottled at cask strength and will be released in a limited edition of 30.000 bottles (maybe not so limited but at least the people at Highland Park give us the numbers.).

And there's something else worth noting: the whisky will have an age statement. It's 17 years old so I'm guessing the price level will be around €110 - €125.

Update: Price estimations go as high as €260. Somewhere deep inside I knew my guess was way too optimistic. Bowmore already proved they could take away the profits from those short term profiteers that buy bottles to resell them on auctions immediately. So why wouldn't Highland Park do the exact same thing?

  • Highland Park Ice Edition
  • Highland Park Distillery, Kirkwall (Orkney)
  • 17 year old single malt
  • 53.9% ABV
  • 30.000 bottles

Maybe Ice forms the start of a new limited edition series like the Walhalla series? Ice and fire are two important concepts in the creation of the universe according to Norse mythology. In the beginning of times only two worlds existed: Muspellsheim, a world of fire and Niflheim, an arctic world.

Update: The bottle is designed to bring to life the dazzling ice realm, with blue-tinted glass and a sharp, faceted shape. The front of the bespoke bottle features a Norse symbol representing the creation of the world, which they believed was protected by a serpent, Jormungandr, biting his own tale. Encased in a mountain-shaped wooden cradle, the whole design reinforces the links to the Ice Realm and its mythology. (source: Highland Park)

The back label does not reveal anything

Official tasting notes from Highland Park

A radiant whisky, natural in colour with mirror-like brightness.  Up-front, vivid aromas of cool, fresh pineapple and mango sorbet give way to silvery shards of smoke and the frosty kick of root ginger.  Like the Ice Giants themselves, the palate is powerful yet smooth, misty peat smoked inter-twined with vanilla seeds. A beautifully balanced finish, with lingering woodiness and spices.

P.S. There's also a 1968 Vintage that roams the database...

Source and pictures: Colas Online

You can read all about this new collectionable Highland Park on their website

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

News: Rock Oyster Cask Strength

Rock Oyster Cask Strength
  • Rock Oyster Cask Strength
  • Douglas Laing
  • NAS blended malt Scotch whisky
  • Alcohol: 57.4 % ABV
Douglas Laing is adding a third cask strength blended malt to their range. After the annual Big Peat Christmas Islay blended malt and Scallywag Speyside blende malt, they now introduce a cask strength version of their Islands blended malt Rock Oyster.

The new Rock Oyster Cask Strength Limited Edition is bottled at a powerful 57.4% ABV and delivers a massive amplification of all those coastal qualities from the original. Punchy peat smoke meets sweet honey and a briny, salty character, in a flavour combination that promises to transport the drinker to Scotland’s Whisky Islands. In line with the Douglas Laing family philosophy, the spirit is proudly without colouring or chill-filtration.

The new release packaging is a creative evolution of the original, offered in a premium gift tube with gold foil detail. Bespoke illustration against a maritime backdrop depicts a crew of sailors battling to retrieve a monstrous oyster from stormy seas, reflecting that monstrously maritime spirit inside.
Those familiar with Douglas Laing’s Remarkable Regional Malts may recognise the bearded fisherman depicted in the scene… 

Says Douglas Laing’s Managing Director Fred Laing: “For Rock Oyster Cask Strength, I’ve selected a range of casks from the Islands and lovingly vatted them together to create a blast of sea air on the nose and a tempestuously oceanic storm on the palate. Anticipate a big peat hit full of Islay phenols, iodine and coal dust, with a shake of pepper softening to a distinct honey sweetness from the Arran casks. The Isle of Jura brings waves of citrus and barley to the mix, and Orkney fetches up some salt from the deep.” 
Rock Oyster Cask Strength
Can you spot the bearded fisherman?

Douglas Laing’s Rock Oyster Cask Strength Limited Edition will be available from specialist Whisky retailers and from January 2016.

ource and pictures: Douglas Laing


Monday, 25 January 2016

National Irish Coffee Day

Foynes Original Irish Coffee glasses available at

25 January is not only Burn's Night but also national Irish Coffee Day.

The Irish Coffee got its name on a cold winter night in 1943. The pilot of a night flight from Foynes to Newfoundland decided to return to Shannon Int. Airport in southwest Ireland due to severe weather conditions. The airport personnel was called back and chef Joseph 'Joe' Sheridan had to prepare something to warm the weary travellers.

To cheer his guests up, he served them hot coffee with a dash of whiskey and topped it with whipped cream. When one of the guests wanted to thank him and asked if this was Brazilian coffee, Sheridan responded with a joke: "No, this is Irish coffee".

Joseph Sheridan on the original recipe:
Cream as rich as an Irish brogue; coffee as strong as a friendly hand; sugar as sweet as the tongue of a rogue; and whiskey as smooth as the wit of the land.

Shannon Airport
Shannon Airport received quite some famous people who helped to spread the word.
Celebrities like Marilyn Monroe have often photographed nipping of an Irish Coffee. 

Irish Coffee crossed the Atlantic to the U.S. with travel writer Stanton Delaplane in 1952. The journalist allegedly introduced the coffee at the Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco. The bar still exists and served more than 32 million Irish Coffees.

The original Irish Coffee


Serves 1 person. Preparation time: 5 min.

  • 3cl Irish whiskey
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup of fresh brewed strong coffee
  • Whipped cream


Pre-heat a stemmed glass with hot water. Get rid of the water and add 2 teaspoons of brown sugar. Add the hot strong coffee and stir. Once the sugar is dissolved add a generous tasty dram (4 to 6 teaspoons) of Irish whiskey. Stir again.

Pour (gently!) the whipped cream over the back of a warm tablespoon. Use the tablespoon you used to stir the coffee. That spoon should be warm by now. A perfect Irish Coffee has to resemble another famous drink: Guinness. The cream should neither be too stiff, nor too liquid.

One last thing: Never stir your Irish Coffee. The coffee should be enjoyed as you sip the warm brew through the rich cream.

Everything you need for an Irish Coffee

The two most important ingredients

And done!


Sunday, 24 January 2016

Highland Laird Williams 2006 for Anverness

A Tasty Dram Whisky Blog tasting notes

Peter De Decker, shopkeeper of the Belgian whisky store Anverness laid his hands on a young Islay whisky from Highland Laird last year. This so-called Williamson (Ok, it's a Laphroaig but you didn't get that from me) distilled in 2006 was to become the festival bottling of the annual Antwerp Whisky Festival. Peter is one of the driving forces behind the whisky festal.

The name Williamson is a clear hint to the legendary Elizabeth Leitch "Bessie" Williamson. While on holiday on Islay in the 1930's she responded to an advertisement for shorthand typist at Laphroaig Distillery. She got the position and what started as a temporary stay on the island turned out to be a lifetime. In 1954, after the death of Ian Hunter, she became Distillery Manager and a spokeswoman to the Scottish Whisky Association (SWA).

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

News: Octomore 7.4 Virgin Oak

  • Octomore 7.4
  • Bruichladdich Distillery, Loch Indaal (Islay)
  • 2008 - 7 years old
  • 61.2% ABV
  • Virgin oak casks | 12.000 bottles
Bruichladdich added another chapter to the Octomore range. Edition 7.4 is a virgin oak experiment that was laid down in the Port Charlotte warehouses seven years ago.

The heavily peated spirit from Bruichladdich (a.k.a. Octomore) has a phenol level of 167ppm. Bruichladdich described it as a "what if" project that only a few lucky distillery visitors had been able to taste before today.

What would the combination of smoke-rich Octomore and sweet, honeyed vanilla derived from the great French oak forests of Allier produce?

Octomore has been distilled from Scottish malting barley, peated to the highest levels in the industry and matured in fresh (virgin) oak casks. The new head distiller Adam Hannett already supervised the experiment.

Bruichladdich released 12.000 fancy black bottles at a whopping 61.2% ABV.

Available at the online Laddieshop (They ship to the EU).

Tasting notes

A detailed sheet with the official tasting notes from Bruichladdich can be downloaded from the website.

Price: £150 

Source and pictures: Press release Bruichladdich

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Signatory Vintage Cask Strength Collection Jura 1989

A Tasty Dram Whisky Blog tasting notes

Jura Distillery lies north-east of its more fertile sister-island Islay. The island is populated by two hunderd inhabitants and are vastly outnumbered 30 to 1 by red deer.  That makes some 6000 (!) deers, give or take. Its most famous resident once described Jura as "extremely ungetatable". The man who wrote thart line was George Orwell. He finished his novel 1984 on the island a few years before his death in 1950.

The distillery changed hands when the parent company Whyte & Mackay was sold to Emperador Inc. It is one of the largest employers on the Island and produces around 2.2 million liters of alcohol per year. The core range exists of a 10 year old Origin, the 16 year old Diurach's Own and the peated Superstition.

Friday, 15 January 2016

The (not yet) big fat list of Feis Ile 2016 whiskies

Feis IleThe annual Feis Ile is an almost sacred festival of malt and music on Scotland's most famous whisky island. The 8 Islay distilleries will welcome a few thousand maltlovers in the last week of May. Every distillery will present a special whisky that is exclusive to the festival visitors who got up early and had some patience.

At the time of writing this blogpost (early January), most of the Festival Bottlings are still shrouded in mist. Ardbeg revealed - more or less - the 2016 edition called Dark Cove. Others like Laphroaig Cairdeas and Jura Tastival are also certainties. Let's have a look at what we know already.


Date: Saturday 28th May 2016

Ardbeg's release will be a NAS single malt and available world wide in a very - hum hum - limited edition. The label hints at the use of Pedro Ximenez sherry casks imparting a lot of sherry sweetness to the Ardbeg spirit. Two labels went public already: one cask strength version for Ardbeg Committee members and a more mainstream version bottled at 46.5% ABV.

Ardbeg Day will be held on 28th May 2016.


Ardbeg Dark Cove

  • 55% ABV (or 46.5% ABV)
  • Output: unknown.
  • Availability: Worldwide.
  • Price: unknown.

Ardbeg Dark Cove
The first label. 46.5% ABV
Ardbeg Dark Cove
The second label. Special Committee Only. 55% ABV

Ardbeg Dark Cove
This one is about to be confirmed... 


Date: Thursday 26th May 2016

The Isle of Jura Distillery has been naming its festival bottling Tastival for a a few years. The 2015 edition was revealed fairly last minute. Jura sent out four drams of the 2016 edition to four artists around the world. One of their designs will feature on the definitive packaging of the Feis Ile whisky.


Jura Tastival designs
The four designs from which fans could choose.

Jura Tastival 2016 winning design
The winning design

Jura Tastival 2016

  • 51 % ABV.
  • Available worldwide.
  • Price: £85
Jura Tastival 2016


Date: Tuesday 24th May 2016

Laphroaig has not revealed anything. But chances are that the Feis Ile Bottling will be baptised Cairdeas (as they have been doing for quite a few years now). Update: The pattern in the ABV has been confirmed: from 51.1 in 2011 it steadily rose to 51.6 in 2016.


Laphroaig Cairdeas Madeira Cask

  • 51.6 % ABV
  • Output: unknown.
  • Availability: Worldwide.
  • Price: unknown.
  • Matured in ex-bourbon barrels, finished in madeira-seasoned hogshead.
Laphroaig Cairdeas Madeira Cask

Laphroaig Cairdeas Madeira Cask

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2016 Feis Ile


Date: Sunday 22nd May 2016

Bruichladdich's Feis Ile Edition will be the first one signed by the new Distillery Manager Adam Hannet. Although it wouldn't surprise us if Jim McEwan had one last trick up his sleeve...


There will be three Bruichladdich bottlings available on Open day.  Adam Hannett created a vatting from casks distilled back in 2001, when Bruichladdich reopened after six silent years. He has also chosen two provenance casks that were filled with spirit distilled from barley grown on single Islay farms, Starchmill and Dunlossit.

Bruichladdich Feis Ile poster
Poster Bruichladdich's Feis Ile.


Date: Wednesday 25th May 2016

Bowmore usually releases three Feis Ile whiskies so there's something for everyone's budget. Sad news: The Islay Ales matured in Bowmore casks won't be there in 2016!

Bowmore Feis Ile

  • ABV: 54.9%
  • NAS
  • Output: 1.500 bottles
  • Price: £55
  • Available at the distillery visitor centre from May 21
  • Vatting of 4 virgin oak casks and 1 oloroso sherry butt

Bowmore Feis Ile 2016

Bowmore Feis Ile Vintage: 25yo single malt finished in French Oak wine casks for 12 years. 200 bottles available. Price: £350.

Bowmore Feis Ile Bottle Your Own: Pedro Ximenez sherry cask filled on 20th of January 1999. Price: £100.

Bowmore Feis Ile 2016 whiskies
Photo credits: Peter Alexander Maclellan


Date: Saturday 21st May 2016

Lagavulin is the third Kildalton distillery that celebrates its bicentenary. Laphroaig and Ardbeg could celebrate last year. 2016 will be the year of Lagavulin. Very likely the Diageo people will do something special for the anniversary.

    Lagavulin 18

    • ABV: 49.5%
    • Output: 6.000 bottles
    • Price £125
    • Vatting of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks

    Caol Ila

    Date: Monday 23d May 2016

    Caol Ila

    Caol Ila 12

    • ABV: Unknown
    • Output: 1.500 bottles
    • Price: £99
    Caol Ila 12 Feis Ile 2016 whisky


    Date: Thursday 26th May 2016


    Kilchoman Oloroso sherry butt 429/2007

    • ABV: unknown
    • Vintage: 2007
    • Output: 637 bottles
    • Price: £90
    • Exclusively available at Kilchoman's visitor centre 26th May 2016 
    Kilchoman Feis Ile 2016


    Date: Friday 27th May 2016

    Bunnahabhain will present their Feis Ile whisky on Monday 23th May on a special event with Distillery Manager Andrew Brown. The complete program has been published on their website and tickets are available in the webshop.


    Bunnahabhain Moine Pedro Ximenez 12-Year-Old

    • Peated Bunnahabhain
    • Unknown ABV
    • 2004 Vintage
    • Output: unknown
    • Availability distillery-only
    • Price: £95
    • 9 years in ex-bourbon cask, finished in Pedro Ximénez sherrycasks. 
    • 833 bottles

    Bunnahabhain Amontillado 16-Year-Old

    • Unknown ABV.
    • Output unknown
    • Availability: distillery-only
    • Price: £250
    • 10 years in ex-bourbon casks and finished in Amontillado casks. 
    • 250 bottles
    Bunnahabhain Feis Ile 2016 whiskies
    Photo credits: Peter Alexandor Maclellan

    • 23 May: Launch Feis Ile botteling - £100
    • Dr Kirstie's Warehouse No 9 Session - £35
    • Distillery Tours - £7
    • Bunnahabhain Feis Ile George & Scott Talkin' Drams Tasting Sessions 2016 - £25
    • Bunnahabhain Class of 2016 - Tasting The Oldest Bunnahabhain Ever Released - £300
    • Long John’s Warehouseman’s Walk - £35

    Bunnahabhain revealed a poster of their Open Day.

    Feis Ile 2016 at Bunnahabhain

    Feis Ile at Bunnahabhain Distillery

    Douglas Laing

    Douglas Laing will roam the beaches of Islay from 23 till 25 March. Their calendar has been published and looks very promising! Pilgrims get a chance to blend a true Big Peat (but only if they wear a white lab coat!

    Douglas Laing's entry for Feis Ile 2016 (last year they bottled a 14yo Old Particular Laphroaig) is a limited edition of their Big Peat Blend. Only 500 bottles will be made available. The Feis Ile edition has a slightly higher ABV than the regular Big Peat: 48% ABV.

    And another Old Particular whisky has been announced to celebrate Feis Ile:
    1999 Bowmore Old Particular

    • 23 May: Remarkable Regional Dinner
    • 24 May: Big Peat's Be the Blender
    • 24 May: Our Favourites for Feis
    • 24 May: A Taste & A Tipple
    • 25 May: Bridgend Brunch
    Tickets are for sale via Biletto

    Blending a Peat. Make it Big.

    Scotch Malt Whisky Society

    The festival bottling of the SMWS is a 127.44 called "Cantina Mexicana". 12yo, 580 bottles  (Spoiler alert: it's a Port Charlotte).
    SMWS 12744

    All information on the official Feis Ile 2016 site

    Thursday, 7 January 2016

    News: Balblair introducing a 2005 Vintage

    Balblair Distillery launches a new Vintage (Balblair does not use age statements but so-salled vintages like wine companies). The 2005 Vintage will replace the former entry level 2003. The whisky matured in ex-bourbon barrels made from American oak (quercus alba).

    The new Vintage is characterized by notes of oaky vanilla, leather and oranges with a hint of fragrant cut flowers and smoke.

    Balblair Vintage 2005 is the youngest in the range which includes Vintage 1999, 1990 and the stunning 1983.

    Identity Card

    • Balblair 05
    • Balblair Distillery, Edderton (Highlands)
    • 9 - 10 year old single malt - Vintage 2005
    • 46% ABV
    • Distilled 2005 - bottled 2015

    Official tasting notes from Balblair

    Colour:Light sparkling gold in colour.

    Nose: Full bodied with the classic aromas of fresh green apples, ground spices and honey. The American oak ex-bourbon barrels used in maturation impart notes of oaky vanilla, leather and oranges with a hint of fragrant cut flowers and smoke

    Taste: Balblair’s signature style of citrus orchards is followed by intense sweetness of toffee and vanilla.

    Finish: Rounded off by a deliciously spicy, long finish. The superb dram is bright and full of character, a ray of sunshine in a bottle.

    Price: £41.70 (The Whisky Exchange)

    Balblair 2005
    The same stunning design as always. Picture: The Whisky Exchange

    Source and pictures: Balblair

    Tuesday, 5 January 2016

    News: Deer, Bear & Moose Tobermory 1995

    Established by Flaviar & Friends

    Flaviar introduced a single cask series named Deer, Bear & Moose.

    The first edition is a 20 year old single cask from Tobermory Distillery on the Isle of Mull. This Tobermory is an unpeated single malt distilled in 1995 and aged in a hogshead barrel. We're assuming they mean an ex-bourbon cask with this statement. It is bottled at cask strength and unchillfiltered. The number of bottles remains unknown.

    Flaviar members could subscribe to a lottery system and (with some luck) be selected to buy the whisky on December 28th, 2015.

    What the Flaviar team says on their first single cask:
    Tobermory does not just bear a mark of tradition that is continuing for more than 200 years. While it stays true to the simple ingredients of pure unpeated barley, its richly savory water is high on peaty phenols that transmit a subtle flavour to the Whisky just as it did centuries ago.

    This extremely limited two decades old behemoth, distilled in 1995 and aged in a single Hogshead barrel, is everything what the Whisky crusaders of Deer, Bear & Moose are questing for. And it will only be sold once. 

    Identity Card

    • Deer, Bear & Moose Tobermory 1995
    • Tobermory Distillery, Mull (Islands)
    • 20 year old single cask
    • 55.9% ABV
    • Distilled in 1995
    • Hogshead #1094 | bottles
    • €135 

    Source and pictures: Flaviar