Category Archives: Reviews

Wemyss Seaweed on the Rocks [Wemyss]

Wemyss Seaweed on the Rocks [Wemyss]

How I love Wemyss; in my opinion they have a great pedigree in releasing some fantastic single cask bottlings that taste exactly as described on the bottle. Whoever comes up with the names that make it onto the bottles should be congratulated as you know almost exactly what you are getting when you buy a bottle. 
 
Recently Wemyss released another batch of bottles and we were fortunate enough to sample some of them. The bottle here; a Bunnahabhain from 1991, called Seaweed on the Rocks, is one of my favourite Wemyss ever tasted. It is a fantastic bottle of whisky that just hits me in the right place and takes me back to warm, sunny days on Islay. 
 
On the nose there is an initial spray of salt and seaweed. This is readily replaced by some lovely fruity jasmine notes and almost reminds me of a Scotch Malt Whisky Society Bladnoch that had similar characteristics and was one of my favourite bottles of 2012. Finally I have memories of eating fish and chips on the beach at Port Ellen.
 
The palate is simple and tasty. This is a refined spirit; almost like a mouthful of Islay seawater (fresh and salty). It is light, reminds me of summer with its floral meadow taste and also provides a little gingery heat at the back of the mouth. The finish is long and smooth
 
As I said; this is a fabulous whisky; buy it, enjoy it, and be transported to the most magical of Hebridean Islands. 
Glenlivet Guardian Chapter

Glenlivet Guardian Chapter

The Glenlivet Guardian Chapter is an opportunity for the Guardians of the Glenlivet to vote for the next limited edition spirit that the famed distillery will release. Three different expressions are up for consideration; each is bottled at 48.7% allowing the influence of the different casking to shine through. We've been fortunate enough to have been sent some samples of each and our notes are below. Do let us know which your favourite is as your decision could help decide the next limited edition. Voting closes on 4 December, and the results are close so far: 39% favour the Exotic, 33% the Classic, and 26% the Revival.

Glenlivet Classic 48.7%

A gorgeous whisky that has been matured in butts, hogsheads and barrels. There is a very subtle sherried streak running through the spirit.
Nose: Very fruity and creamy, lots of toffee and vanilla. Sweet and almost pear tatin like
Palate: Good amount of spice on the front of the tongue. The sweet vanilla and toffee carries on from the nose and coats the mouth beautifully. Finally there is a touch of menthol
Finish: Long and sweet with the vanilla remaining long into the night

Glenlivet Exotic 48.7%
A Christmassy expression. This edition draws heavily on sherry butts and it would be a great whisky as we move into December.
Nose: Very dark and rich, a good dose of deep cocoa. Some red fruits mixed with a touch of fire embers. Rich Christmas cake
Palate: Surprisingly mellow on first taste, before rich sticky fruit comes through. Dark treacle and chocolate combined with orange oils
Finish: Long and dark. Traces of cocoa linger

Glenlivet Revival 48.7%
A subtle expression with lots of bourbon influence. A Glenlivet to relax with on a summers evening. Mellow and sweet this is a lovely expression.
Nose: Very fruity with touches of vanilla and fudge. Nutty
Palate: Creamy and soft before the alcohol punches through with a sharpness that is sweetened by a dusting of icing sugar
Finish: Medium in length and quite drying

 

Tweet Tasting Highlights [ The best bits from The Tweeddale Blend and Milroy’s]

Tweet Tasting Highlights [ The best bits from The Tweeddale Blend and Milroy’s]

The Tweeddale Blend Tweet Tasting was a lovely event and my first exposure to this historic blend. After tasting the whiskies on offer it certainly won’t be my last foray into Tweeddale and I can’t wait to see how the blend shifts and changes over the next couple of iterations. All of the spirits on offer were enjoyable but I’ve picked out two of my highlights from the night; Batches 2 and 3. For me, they just had something about them that excited me. They are definitely my sort of whisky and I’d happily have a bottle of each at home.

A Tweet Tasting line up

A Tweet Tasting line up

Tweeddale Blend Batch 2 [46%]
A very well balanced dram made up of whiskies aged between 12 and 21 years. This blend also contains a 15 year old grain whisky from a sherry butt.
Nose: Apples, autumnal fruits, leathery and woody. We also found some pomegranate, banana and kiwi
Palate: Love the influence the increased maturation has had on the whisky – full of banana, vanilla, and refresher sweets
Finish: Long and sweet. The fruit disappears to be replaced by the candied refresher notes

Tweeddale Blend Batch 3 [46%]
Seven of the malts in this blend are those found in earlier batches; they are just a year older. The grain however is an 18 year old from sherry butts. Interestingly the youngest whisky in the blend is 13 years old, but it is sold as a 12 year old in Canada! Only 300 bottles were allocated to the UK.
Nose: Darker and earthier than the earlier batches in the series; but then the familiar fruitier notes kick in. Very grassy and farmyardy. Great influence from the sherry
Palate: Surprisingly juicy – very orangey before the heat moves in. A good touch of gingerbread and victoria sponge
Finish: Like a hard boiled sweet you can taste it for hours. Very sugary

Ready to sample!

Ready to sample!

The Milroy’s event was another evening of new and interesting whiskies. It was also a night of suprises as my favourite two whiskies were Dutch; I’ve not tried Dutch whisky before and the two below were a revelation. Overall it was a delightful session of dramming and I’d recommend that you check out Milroy’s range of whiskies for yourself.

Milroy’s Single Cask Zuidam Dutch Rye [46%]
This was my highlight of the Milroys Tweet Tasting. A really cracking whisky with strong Rye notes and a lovely depth to it. Retailing at £40 this whisky is a bit of a bargain.
Nose: A big blast of coffee and chocolate mixed in with some coconut (think Bounty Bars and you’re almost there). Finally a hit of slightly tempered freshly glossed wood
Palate: Gentle to begin with, before cardamon and curry leaves seep through. A bit of varnish before some lovely meaty slow cooked pulled pork delights the mouth
Finish: Very long, with a helping of Extra Strong Mints

Millstone 14 1999 [46%]
A great whisky for this time of year – its one to get of as the nights continue to draw in and it becomes even colder outside. Alternatively consider it as an ‘out of the box’ choice for Christmas Day!
Nose: Very dark and mysterious – much like an over-alchoholic Christmas pudding. Very spicy and lots of stewed fruits
Palate: Big flavours to begin with. Quite grassy and very hot on the tongue. Reminds me of a very good sticky toffee pudding
Finish: Long and pungent

Thanks again go to Steve Rush of The Whisky Wire, and keep an eye on the blog as we’re involved in some more tastings in the run up to Christmas!

The One [The Lakes Distillery]

The One [The Lakes Distillery]

We’re particularly excited about the plans for the first distillery to be built in the Lake District for over 100 years. So excited in fact that we couldn’t even wait for it to be built and have already visited the site and had a chat with the lovely managing director Paul Currie. You can read about that trip here.

A lot has happened since we last visited the distillery; and that includes the launch of a brand new blended whisky that we’ll discuss shortly. Renovation work is starting this month with production scheduled to begin in Spring 2014. Following this the Lakes Gin will be released (we cannot wait to try this!) and the distillery will accept visitors to its visitor centre, shop, bistro and bar from the summer. All in all its exciting times up at Bassenthwaite and we’re looking forward to getting back up there to check on progress!

The One

The One

With production not beginning until next year we were surprised to see a whisky being launched by the Lakes Distillery in Autumn 2013. It was however a lovely surprise, unlike the horror of opening a Christmas gift to discover that yet again your clever relative managed to stuff some socks into a particularly rare and sadly empty malt bottle. This whisky is a blend created from whiskies from around the British Isles. There is no information as to the constituent parts but we could take some educated guesses on some components based upon their geography! It would be remiss not to mention the bottle itself – the design is simple and gorgeous and based on looks alone would grace any decent whisky shelf. However, what we’re really interested in is the spirit. The One is a blended whisky, bottled at 40% and here is what we thought.

The nose begins with a lovely creamy sweet vanilla fudge note. We’re then off on a journey around the Isles as we’re treated to a floral bouquet with top notes of heather and honey. White grapes come through strongly only to be tempered by icing sugar and rather interestingly – some cumin seeds!

The palate is light and vibrant with an almost hoppy like taste. There is a lot of spice and salt on the tip of the tongue, with some cayenne further back in the mouth. Grapes and coriander leaves are briefly present before a golden syrup and custard like sweetness takes over and fills the mouth. The whisky finishes with a flourish; lots of lingering spice and heat with an abundance of white chocolate chips.

The One is a good solid blend and well worth considering as we move into the winter months. Now, obviously it hasn’t been distilled by the Lakes Distillery but if this is the care and attention they’re putting in to their products, and having seen the care and attention that’s going into their site, we’re now even more excited about the first spirits to run off their stills! 2014 will be an exciting time for a remote corner of Cumbria, so get involved early and enjoy the first release from a distillery that we hope will be doing fabulous things for English whisky in 2014 and beyond.

 

Karuizawa Sherry 31

The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show 2013

The Whisky Exchange Whisky Show really is the highlight of the whisky calendar; fabulous whiskies, a stunning location and the opportunity to talk to the people who actually make the spirit make this the must go to show of the year! They also have a trade day on the Monday which is why I found myself at Vinopolis on a surprisingly sunny October lunch time where I met up with lots of fellow bloggers and friends.

Auchroisk OP

Auchroisk 18 [Douglas Laing – Old Particular]

Here is one of the stars of Douglas Laing’s recently released Old Particular series. It is a grand single cask Speyside malt distilled in October 1994 and bottled 18 years later at 48.4%. It is a lovely whisky and one that I would highly recommend!

Auchroisk 18 [Old Particular] 48.4%
I first fell for Auchroisk at The Whisky Show in 2010 when I tried a sample bottled for Diageo’s Special Releases. Despite trying a range of fabulous whiskies that year including some Brora and 1954 Glen Grant, the Auchroisk remained engrained in my memory. That’s what made me so excited about trying this offering, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Nose
The initial nosing was full of sweet fairground candy floss. This dissipated slowly leaving lots of vanilla and further sweetness. The whisky has lovely depth; once you delve past the initial sweetness it is very floral – much like an old fashioned English rose garden. It is a beautiful spirit and reminds me of crisp linen – like a freshly made bed. Finally it offers up some sherbet lemon.

Palate
The whisky is very velvety and silky. There is lots of cream and vanilla before you are hit with a big smack of chilli heat. This is heat I have only found in a few whiskies; it is really intense and I love it! Finally a really herby quality comes through – much like adding some dried spices to your Sunday roast. The whisky tempers slightly as you start savouring it, but the heat still overwhelms the dram (in a positive way!)

Finish
Long and hot; the vanilla has all but disappeared to be replaced by the heat. Gorgeous!

Great King St Vertical Tasting

Great King St Vertical Tasting

Anyone who reads our blog regularly will know that we are huge fans of Compass Box. Not only do they make blending cool, they’re not afraid to try new things and the whiskies they do craft together are some of the finest around. One of the gems in their range is the Great King St Artists blend that we reviewed some time ago. Well now they have some experimental releases out; one sherried and one smokey and in a stroke of genius they’re asking the public to decide which should make it as a permanent release. It’s a bit like XFactor for grown ups really. And better.

Islay Ferry and Port Ellen Lighthouse

An Islay evening with Douglas Laing

Our friends at Douglas Laing know us well – not only did they send us a fabulous little collection of whisky from their Provenance range.. they sent us an exclusively Islay parcel of whiskies from their Provenance range! After being at the Feis Ile this year we’ve grown accustomed to drinking the lovely peaty stuff in the summer sun and so the recent arrival of the British summer provided an opportunity to dig out the shorts, the festival glasses and imagine the view from our humble Birmingham abodes was really the expanse of  Loch Indaal!

Douglas Laing had kindly sent us a sample of the recent launched Big Peat Small Batch (which is reviewed elsewhere on this site) and three single malts; one each from Caol Ila, Bowmore, and Laphroaig. Alongside a photo of each location from our recent trip, here are our thoughts on some really interesting Islay spirits.

Douglas Laing Provenance Caol Ila (Young & Feisty) [46%]
A lovely Caol Ila that is perfect for this time of year! Reminded us of a summers day on the Isle of Islay.
Nose: Lots of woodsmoke and damp grass. Liquorice and aniseed comes through intensely before we experienced some more maritime notes
Palate: Light and summery with enough smoke and peat to remind you of Caol Ila. Heavy on the lavender before the delights of a salty seafood barbecue hit the senses
Finish: Long and salty as the smoke fades away

Caol Ila Distillery

Caol Ila Distillery

Douglas Laing Provenance Bowmore 10 [46%]
Sadly I found this whisky a bit too floral and fragrant for my taste, preferring the power of the earlier Caol Ila. If you are looking for peat and smoke then I’d consider the Caol Ila or Laphroaig. If you enjoy the more perfume-y Islay’s then this may well be up your street!
Nose: Quite savoury and floral (reminded me of slightly overcooked rosemary). Lots of damp warehouse notes wrapped in a smoked chocolate bar.
Palate: Again very floral – think summer meadows in full bloom. Sweet and sugary with a definite menthol edge
Finish: Long and sweet

The door of legends

The door of legends

Douglas Laing Provenance Laphroaig 10 [46%]
Laphroaig was the whisky that started it all for me [Jon] and this is another beautiful Laphroaig that shows off the quality of the distillery. No messing around just a fabulous 10 year old whisky that is well worth checking out.
Nose: Soft and malty with a lovely creamy and vanilla scent. Over time is became more sterile and medicinal and smelt like peaty cough sweets (now there’s an idea!)
Palate: Sweet peat. This whisky tastes very raw and natural and benefits hugely from this. Lovely amount of spice and smoke.
Finish: Peppery, drying, long

Enjoying the whisky at Laphroaig

Enjoying the whisky at Laphroaig

All in all we had a fantastic night sampling these whiskies. The favourite of the evening was the Laphroaig – it was intensely raw, almost like you could taste the constituent parts and it was very different to the distillery 10 year old so is well worth investigating for that something a little bit different!

Thanks are due to Douglas Laing – we really can’t wait to see what you release next. Please do keep up the fabulous work!

Macallan Ruby

Macallan Ruby [Macallan]

The Macallan Ruby is arguably the jewel in the crown of Macallan’s 1824 series of no aged statement whiskies. It is a whisky matured exclusively in first fill European Oak casks and bottled at 43%. We were delighted to try this at the Stourbridge Whisky Festival in April, and subsequently at a Tweet Tasting organised by Steve Rush of The Whisky Wire.

Here are our thoughts on this delightfully rich whisky; if Macallan keep releasing whisky of this quality then we will be very happy people!

Macallan Ruby [43%]
A fabulous colour and a fabulous spirit. This whisky is a beauty and one of the stars of the Macallan 1824 series. Personally it is my second favourite after Sienna but if you enjoy your sherried whisky then this is well worth a look – hats off to Macallan!
Nose: Deep and rich. There is a wave of stewed fruits (cherries and raisins) combined with the almondness of marzipan and a touch of grated 100% dark chocolate. There is an interplay between used coffee grounds and fresh tobacco leaf that is wrapped up in a whiff of smoke. Finally there is a slight menthol edge to the scent.
Palate: This is a decadent whisky. It is velvety in texture and is reminiscent of what I can only describe as ‘molten fruitcake’. Then there is the Thai chili heat combined with some of the dark chocolate that we detected on the nose. It is a meaty cloying whisky, yet is has a sweeter side as was evidenced through the hazelnut praline at the back of the throat.
Finish: Very long and warming. Much like the prickle of freshly ground pepper

Tamdhu 10 Year Old

Tamdhu 10 [Tamdhu]

Originally opened in 1897, the Speyside distillery of Tamdhu has finally reopened its doors after a silent period in its history. It was taken over by Ian Macleod Distillers in 2011 and the company has worked hard to get the distillery to where it is today – the launch of a brand new 10 year old whisky. Past direction has changed and Tamdhu is now focusing on maturing its spirit in European Oak casks which leads us nicely to the new 10 year old. This release is fully matured in Spanish Sherry casks, non- chill filtered and bottled at 40%. It retails for a shade under £35.

Before providing some tasting notes though, I have to say that I love the design surrounding Tamdhu. The new shape bottle is delightful and would grace the shelf of any bar, expensive or otherwise. It reminds me (and others) of a slightly fancy and large coca-cola bottle and something about the shape and labelling just appeals to me. The new website is also a treat – I love the concept and design of it and I think it is a really classy job well done.

After waxing lyrical about that, you’ll be pleased to know that we think the whisky lives up to the support acts. Old Tamdhu isn’t a spirit I’ve had often, (infact I could count the amount of times on one hand) but this new incarnation is well worth checking out if you want a whisky that is new, well priced, delicious and a bit different from the other bottles that you could pick up in this price range.

Tamdhu 10
Nose: Lots of cocoa powder initially hit the senses before it sweetens into more of a milk chocolate paste. There are lots of raisins combined with red liquorice sticks and a touch of Indian spice hidden in the depths. Finally we were treated to a caramelised banana flambé with an extra dark treacle topping.
Palate: There were lots of toffee and fudge notes to begin the tasting, but once these had faded the whisky became really interesting – we found blackberries, prunes, cloves and some cinnamon. The whisky was also a touch salty amongst which we found some crushed peppercorns to complete the experience.
Finish: Warm and slightly peppery.