Category Archives: Tasting

Tasting Mat 2

Tasting Mat 2

It is time to review the latest round of whisky releases so welcome to our second tasting mat. On the table today we have a diverse selection of drams. We start with a new release from Speciality Drinks – an Islay blend called ‘Peat’ before we move on to a dark brooding SMWS Ardbeg. Finally we encounter two spirits from Gordon & MacPhail, a 1991 Speyburn and a majestic 1954 Glen Grant. Enjoy.

Peat [Speciality Drinks] 59.3%
Trying to decipher this whisky is like trying to win the annual Feis Isle nosing completion [my best is a third place finish!] If only they’d stuck to convention and called it, for example, CI2BR1Ar4 – that would have been geeky! Still, this is a fantastic dram, and when you factor in the price its an absolute steal. This is a must buy for 2016.
Nose: This is [literally] Islay in a glass. Lovely phenols and tar mixed in with old boat ropes. Takes me back to Islay and fond memories of holidays. Gorgeous lemon and herbal notes
Palate: Sweet peat that pack a real punch. As it rolls around the mouth it becomes spicy and hot. There are touches of iodine and fishermen’s friends. Finally I get hints of scallops and oysters, and a beautiful aniseed note.
Finish: Long and mouth filling, cheek warming. Liquorice. Cracking!

Jon cutting the peat

Cutting Peat on Islay

SMWS 33.132 [Ardbeg] 60.9% [8YO 2nd fill sherry]
Ardbeg. Little more needs to be said really. I love Ardbeg, and it’s great to come across another single cask example that really lives up to the name of this Kildalton distillery. This is a limited and wonderful whisky.
Nose: Dirty, charred steak and meat fat. A decadent nose with peat and smoke entwined. Notes of barbeques, this is SO Ardbeg – mind-blowing.
Palate: A full on assault that builds and builds. There is a lot of intensity in the glass. Reminds me of Hawksmoor with all the meaty notes. The dram is sherry and peat in harmony. After a while it becomes more restrained, smoky Christmas cake? Single cask whisky at its best.
Finish: Long, brooding, emotional – this is a dram for meat lovers.


Glen Grant 1954 [40%]
This spirit is ancient and it is a real treat to be able to try it. Despite its age it is very alive, very vibrant and a wonderful example of how aging can tame and transform a whisky.
Nose: Initially quite closed, but then it opens beautifully to become very rich and plummy. Lots of red fruit and mahogany notes. A very decadent dram.
Palate: Velvety. Black pepper, Christmas cake and black treacle. As expected there is some wood influence but its in perfect balance. Hints of violets and tarragon.
Finish: Long and peppery. Elements of treacle toffee. Beautiful.

Speyburn 1991 [46%]
A younger release in the ‘Wood makes the whisky’ and it’s a lovely example of a Speyburn. I particularly enjoy the sweet and citrus notes. A sipper.
Nose: Vanilla, lemon peel and bubble-gum. The sweetness is tempered by notes of cloves before it becomes more citrusy with hints of orange.
Palate: Soft and delicate. A big hit of vanilla pods and milk chocolate. Touches of cinnamon and spices, and the citrus notes from the nosing make a strong reappearance.
Finish: Soft, refresher sweets and sherbets. Lingers well.

Special Releases 2015

Diageo Special Releases 2015

The Diageo Special Releases launch is always the best event in the calendar. It presents a fabulous opportunity to try some unique, and frankly, very special whiskies from the Diageo stocks. The class of 2015 is superb. It contains all of the usual suspects and mixes in some of the lesser know distilleries in the portfolio. Read on and enjoy some of the finest whiskies of 2015.

Caol Ila from the sea

Feis Ile 2015 Day Three

Day three of the Feis is always a highlight. Caol Ila is the destination of choice and this year they put on a fabulous show – and even managed to steal the sun from Bruichladdich. We arrived at the sea front mid-morning and reacquainted ourselves with old friends; David, the manager and some of the tour guides at the distillery. We also bumped into the legendary Colin Dunn who was on fine form and looked after us well throughout the day.

The Line Up

Feis Ile 2015 Day Two

The second day of Islay is all about Bruichladdich. This year was Jim’s final tasting and what a selection of whiskies we sampled. When you start the morning with a 30 year old single cask you know you’re in for a cracking session. Many thanks to Bruichladdich and Jim et al for the event, it was simply wonderful. Here are some brief notes on a fabulous morning of superb whisky.

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.


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.

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 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.

#LightOnDark – Three new peaty anCnoc’s

#LightOnDark – Three new peaty anCnoc’s

Peaty whisky from anCnoc? The announcement came through too early to be an April fool so we assumed that it must be a ‘thing’. And that made us very interested. We’re both big fans of peaty whisky and have been over to the island that makes peaty whisky like no other several times, and indeed will be going later this year to do the Half Marathon, but that’s a story for another day.