All posts by jonmbryant

Lagavulin Distillery

Feis Ile 2015 Day One

A long day to begin the annual celebrations at the Feis Ile. We left Birmingham at 01:30 and via Derby made good time to Kennacraig and Islay. By the time we arrived the weather was turning and most of the day’s events were done, but we found time to pop into Laphroiag and Lagavulin to make a few purchases and enjoyed some brief chats with Colin and Andrew before finding out accommodation just outside Bowmore.

Glenlivet Founder's Reserve

Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve [40%]

It seems very remiss that we’ve been writing this blog for just over three years and we’ve only just got around to reviewing a Glenlivet! Well, with this tasting note we’re putting that right and we’re sure that it will be the first of many as it is a malt that we’ve long admired. The object of our affections today is the Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve – a whisky that was announced in October 2014 and released as a tribute to the founder George Smith (I guess the clue is in the name really). Our timing couldn’t be better though as it is just being rolled out globally this month.

Oban

Oban Little Bay [43%]

I have fond memories of visiting Oban, a pretty coastal town on the west side of Scotland. I’ve visited the distillery on several occasions and have loved my experiences there. The last tour in particular was great as at the end we were led into the warehouse and sampled directly from a young cask that was quite simply superb. I’ve also walked the length of the town, visited the castle and even managed to visit the town on a work trip! Oban is a fantastic place that produces cracking whisky and that is why I was full of anticipation for the latest release – Oban Little Bay.

Ardbeg

Ardbeg. A Visit

Back in August, Mike and I completed the Ardbeg Islay Half Marathon. It was a fabulous event and we both came away with personal best times despite the inclement weather on the day. To be fair we were well fuelled by porridge from Andrew and Alison at The Bowmore House (which we heavily recommend for any Islay stay), and well supported from the locals who saw us out and welcomed us back to Bowmore.

The Lakes Distilery – Competition and Reviews

The Lakes Distilery – Competition and Reviews

We’re excited! Excited because this weekend we’re off to Cumbria to witness the first spirit running from the whisky stills at The Lakes Distillery, and excited because we have a great competition for you in conjunction with the distillery.

Regular readers will know that I’ve been up to The Lakes Distillery on two occasions now. The first was about a year ago when I met with Paul and he talked me through the vision of the distillery and showed me around the Victorian model farm that was still very much dilapidated and some considerable way from becoming a fully operational distillery. My second visit was in May this year. While this was prior to the installation of the stills, a lot of work had taken place on site and it was a real hive of activity. And that’s why I’m thrilled to be making the journey up to The Lake District again this weekend. Not only do I love the place for its picture postcard beauty, but this weekend marks the end (and start) of a journey as the first spirit runs through the whisky stills. It isn’t often that the opportunity presents itself to be there for such an historic occasion in the life of a distillery and we can’t wait to report back on the days events.

The Lakes Distillery

The Lakes Distillery in its early days

In the meantime though we’d invite you to sample two wares from the distillery. They have already relased a blended malt crafted from all four courners of the British Isles and it is said to represent the style of whisky that they are hoping to create. We’ve reviewed it previously on the blog, but it is great to have the opportunity to revisit it again. Secondly, we’re thrilled to review our first gin on the site – an artisanal gin made using local botanicals.

The ONE

The ONE

The ONE [40%]
Nose: Warm and spicy. Very rich with lashings of vanilla and icing sugar. Reminds me of some good millionaires shortbread and honey topped ice-cream
Palate: Light and lively with some spiciness. The sweetness from the nose remains but is is tempered by a touch of chilli heat and black pepper. The vanilla appears strongly and coats the mouth. Very well balanced
Finish: Medium in length leaving a trail of cocoa

The Lakes Gin [43.7%]
A very classy gin that is lovely enjoyed neat or with some ice. Great with tonic and it makes a mean negroni.
Nose: Vibrant, very zesty and full of life, strong notes of juniper and freshly cut hay. Over time it becomes a touch dusty with a hint of cardamon. Black pepper rounds off a very impressive nose
Palate: Victorian lemonade, fizzy sherbet lemons (amazing!) and rosemary. A mixture of lemon and orange zest combined with some peppery spiceiness
Finish: Long and sweet with the lemon notes lasting a long time

The still room (early days!)

The still room (early days!)

Competition Time

We’ve teamed up with The Lakes Distillery to give away 25 pairs of tour tickets. Tickets are valid between January 1st to March 31st 2015 and winners will be among the first people to see the distillery in operation.

We’ve made it really simple to enter and there are two ways for you to try and win.
Firstly simply visit Twitter and follow us [@LRWhisky] and retweet any of our competition tweets that mention #LakesTour
Secondly visit us on Facebook and like our page and share any of our posts that mention the Competition. These will be clearly marked with the same hashtag #LakesTour

Competition closes at midnight on December 12th which means that these tickets could make a lovely Christmas present for someone close to you. Best of luck!

Do also check out The Lakes Distilery here for all of their latest news and products.

Craigellachie 13 [46%] [Craigellachie]

Craigellachie 13 [46%] [Craigellachie]

Craigellachie was founded by Peter Mackie and Alexander Edward, and their names feature strongly on the packaging of the new releases which is a nice traditional touch that I like. The Craigellachie 13 is the first in the range of a new set of releases from the Speyside distillery that will also see a 17 year old, 19 year old and 23 year old released alongside it.

I was delighted to be invited on a trip earlier this summer that saw a group of us visit 5 distilleries in little over 24 hours as we were treated to a sneak preview of what has now been unveiled as The Last Great Malts release by Dewars. Over time we hope to bring you a review of each of the expressions but for now we’ll just focus on the Craigellachie 13.

Craigellachie still room

Craigellachie still room

Craigellachie was the first stop in a busy second day of the trip. We enjoyed a great behind the scenes look at the distillery and we’re even treated to a roof top visit to see and smell the worm tubs that still grace the distillery. The smell of sulphur was strong and cut through the cool Speyside air. I do love going to a distillery though – it gives you a real insight into the spirit that you have enjoyed drinking, you get to meet the people who crafted it, see the shape of the stills that created it and just have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the surroundings of the place your whisky has come from. Craigellachie for its part is a picturesque, albeit fairly small distillery. It sits just off the main road from the heart of Speyside and the first thing you notice are the cathedral size windows of the still house. Even at this hour on a weekday morning they were wide open in a bid to reduce the temperature in the still room.

The still room

The still room

Craigellachie looking very futuristic

Craigellachie looking very futuristic

At the time of our vist the final versions of the Malts weren’t ready so we had enjoyed something of an exclusive. We were given the opportunity to taste the pre-release versions of the whisky. So the previous night, just before dinner, we sat down with Charlie McClean and he expertly led us through three expressions of Craigellachie. Now these notes may not have much relevance now since they are not the final whisky, but it is hoped that they at least provide some interest as to the final stages of the evolution of the whisky that you can enjoy at home!

Tasting the whisky with Charlie

Tasting the whisky with Charlie

Craigellachie 13 (Pre-Release)
Nose: Banana flambé, sweet, lots of icing sugar. Full of lime with a slight sour note. Very fresh and a touch minerally.
Palate: Almost fizzy in taste, plummy. The dram was very rich and jammy with lots of strawberries. Finally there was an unusual almost beery (yeasty) taste.
Finish: short but sweet.

Finally it would be remiss not to taste the actual release, it provides an interesting comparison to the night in Scotland and also informs you as to the taste of the actual general release. I think it’s lovely.

Craigellachie 13

Craigellachie 13

Craigellachie 13 46% (Official Release)
Nose: Sweet with icing sugar and orange peel. A good amount of cloves, cocoa powder and dark chocolate. A final note of apple pie.
Palate: Strawberries and cream. Vanilla custard infused with cardomom. The orange peel from the nose remains and there are notes of seaside rock.
Finish: Dry with hints of cocoa.

The Midlands Whisky Show

Stourbridge Whisky Show Autumn 2014

We recently attended the sixth incarnation of the Midlands Whisky Festival which is held in Stourbridge and ran by local wine and whisky merchants Nickolls and Perks. Yet again it was a fabulous day out and it is a show that we would heartily recommend to you. The next show will be in March 2015 and we hope to see you there. In the meantime, here’s a selection of images to entice you!

A fabulous line up of whisky

A fabulous line up of whisky

The Diageo Masterclass

The Diageo Masterclass

Sensational Drams

Sensational Drams

Haig Club

Haig Club

Alwynne rocking the Balvenie stand

Alwynne rocking the Balvenie stand

Devotee ticket holders received this goodie bag!

Devotee ticket holders received this goodie bag!

The legend that is Colin Dunn

The legend that is Colin Dunn

What a dream dram this was!

What a dream dram this was!

Douglas Laing

The Douglas Laing stand

The lovely Macallan Dream Dram

The lovely Macallan Dream Dram

Joy pouring Mike some whisky

Joy pouring Mike some whisky

A busy day!

A busy day!

Fabulous spirit from Mackmyra

Fabulous spirit from Mackmyra

The show glass!

The show glass!

 

A Kilchoman Trilogy

A Kilchoman Trilogy

It’s been too long since we visited Kilchoman. Our third and last visit was in May 2013 and while we will makes the pilgrimage to the distillery during the Feis Ile in 2015 it seems so far off that we thought we’d catch up with a selection of their releases from 2014. We start with the sherry finished Loch Gorm before moving to be the most recent incarnation of the 100% Islay. We then finish with the sold out Kilchoman Port Cask. While I enjoyed all three whiskies, the Port Cask stole it for me – it is a whisky that defies it’s young age with great depth and complexity and a real peaty sweetness that just makes you go for more. Enjoy the reviews, and if you find some, do enjoy the whisky.

Bruichladdich Masterclass

It’s all about the barley

There were two masterclasses on The Whisky Show Trade Day and while they both looked appealing time only permitted a visit to one of them. If you’ve been following our recent posts on the blog you’ll know that we are very partial to Bruichladdich so I was swayed by the opportunity to attend a Bruicladdich masterclass hosted by the delightful Illeach Joanne Brown. And if that wasn’t enough, the class contained two new expressions of Hebridean whisky. Here’s what we tasted.

Brora!

Brora Brora on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?

The Whisky Show is the highlight of the whisky festival calendar. Fact. It is partly because of the range of whiskies on offer, having the right people to present those whiskies, and partly (or should that be predominately) due to the masterclasses on offer. One such class caught my eye this year – the opportunity to taste six Brora in the company of Colin Dunn, including the legendary 22 Rare Malt and an unreleased cask sample. Without further pomp and circumstance I present a round up of an incredible 75 minutes of Brora-ness.