Saturday, 29 December 2012

Whisky Discovery #287

Old Pulteney 40 Year Old
Highland Single Malt Whisky
circa £1,490.00 70cl
Old Pulteney 40 Year Old
Old Pulteney has recently unveiled the oldest and most exclusive official expression of single malt to leave the warehouses of this northernmost distillery on Scottish mainland since its establishment in 1826. 

The spirit of Pulteney is influenced by its environment like no other with the windswept and rugged Caithness Coast and the remote fishing port of Wick provide the background for one of the most intriguing whiskies in the world. This new stunning Old Pulteney was shaped by the land and the sea for over four decades and is the ultimate expression of the Maritime Malt

Old Pulteney 40 Year Old came from four casks, three Spanish ex-sherry hogsheads and one American oak ex-bourbon barrel, which yielded 493 bottles at a natural strength of 51.3% abv and has not been chill-filtered or coloured.

Pulteney Distillery Manager, Malcolm Waring, explains: “Old Pulteney begins its life as spirit already full of character. Then we mature it on site, here in Wick, we think its hugely important. With each passing year the whisky takes on a little bit of Caithness, the initial charisma is there but it develops more and more complexity. To see that so clearly in a whisky matured for over four decades is extraordinary; we are overwhelmed by the quality of this liquid and by how firmly it's anchored here. The people, the process, the land and the sea are all in there.” 

The whisky is presented in unusual deep-blue bottles crafted by The Tudor Crystal Design company and its sister company Plowden and Thompson’s Undertaking. Hand blown from melting silica, soda ash and special additions each bottle is then finished with solid silver melted blown across the glass to form a wave pattern. This gives the familiar 'Smuggler's Kettle' Old Pulteney bottle elegance and flair that pay respect to the liquid inside.

Each bottle is then topped with a stone closure whittled, polished, fine-pressure jetted, milled and polished again by the famous local Caithness Stone Industries. The bottles are finished with a Scottish hallmarked silver medallion stating the age of the whisky. The high-gloss lacquered wooden box that encases the bottle has the iconic Old Pulteney herring drifter silver-etched into it to complete the stunning presentation. In addition every bottle of Old Pulteney 40 Year Old comes with a hand-signed book by whisky expert Charles MacLean.

So What Did We Think?

News of this release came out at the end of October and the Old Pulteney 40 Year Old was available from specialist whisky retailers globally from the beginning of November. So firstly, I must say a massive thanks to Inver House Distillers for considering us to taste this unique expression. It's always nice to come home from work to find that the 'whisky angels' have visited during the day. Whilst our bottle was only the standard clear glass Old Pulteney miniature bottle it was a great surprise! 
The 'whisky angels' visited one morning
I saved opening this until 19th December, the second anniversary of this whisky journey, which I though would be a fitting tribute to it, and sat nosing it for ages before diving in. It has a rich and powerful nose, with polished oak wood, dark fruits, figs and dates, spicy pear, sweet dark toffee, butterscotch, liquorice root and a touch of salty brine. I read somewhere recently that I should take a whisky down to around 20% abv in order to pick out all of the flavours in the whisky, and so thought, with this I will slowly add water while I nosed. With no hydrometer at hand I used the graduations on my nosing glass and gradually took it down to around 34% abv (by calculation)

Water sweetens the nose giving more fruity notes; raisins and oranges at first and pineapple appears with a little more water. This was the first time I had added water, certainly to that level, a drop or two at a time while nosing to see what develops. Whilst the fruity notes get sweeter and more tropical with the water, the spicy wood note remains throughout.

I tasted it at cask strength initially and despite it's age showed remarkable freshness (rather like myself!) Whilst initially sweet, there is a rich liquorice root note, a fiery spicy heat, before the fruit and toffee notes return. The chili pepper heat singes the tongue at the end before settling down to a long rewarding finish balanced with both sweetness and salt.

A fabulous drop of whisky, unfortunately out of my budget at the moment, and with my current lottery form will be for some time. That said, there are some other Old Pulteney expressions that are in my budget range and hope to be adding one or two of them to my shelf very soon.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Whisky Discovery #286

Crown Royal Maple Finish Whisky (40% abv)
Canadian Whisky
Not sure if available in the UK yet

This was a surprise dram in a surprise package sent to me from friends and fellow bloggers  Johanne and Graham, (A Perfect Whisky Match) for the second anniversary of my Whisky Journey.

There was a cheeky note daring me to open and sample this - I was intrigued and opened it immediately. The overpowering smell of sweet sickly caramel juice was instant, and although I asked what it was that Johanne had sent me, I had the sneaking suspicion that it was indeed this Crown Royal Maple Finish immediately.

I've not come across anything from Crown Royal before, but have seen the brand listed in A 101 Whiskies Top Try Before You Die, so delved onto their website to find out what they had to say about it, this is what I found:

The legendary taste of Crown Royal with a touch of natural maple flavour  Our master blender finished our celebrated whisky with maple-toasted oak to yield a uniquely smooth experience.

It’s a perfect blend of Crown Royal's signature caramel and vanilla nose with the elegant aromas of light, fresh maple that creates a flavour profile that finishes on an authentically warm and woody note. 

It ends with their classic statement: Whisky Started, Maple Finished.

So What Did I Think?

Upon opening the small sample bottle the whole room is filled with the sweet sickly smell of maple syrup, caramel and vanilla, it really is overpowering. I spilt a little on my hands which only made the situation worse.

No nosing glass was really required, I was engulfed in a cloud of the smell, though I persevered with it: Overpowering maple syrup, caramel, vanilla, sweet, sickly, butterscotch like concentrated 'Angel Delight' mix forced up your nose. I left it in the glass for a while and tried really hard to find any whisky notes, and perhaps just the faintest of wood notes could be found.

So what did it taste like? I tweeted "Yup, sickly and sweet on the palate too, very difficult to tell this is a whisky." If someone had told me it was a flavoured Vodka, or a flavoured Rum I wouldn't have argued with them, The maple syrup masks any other flavours within. I'm not sure what market this is aimed at, but my fifteen year old daughter quite like the smell of this.

Sorry Crown Royal, but this really doesn't do it for me and I will be very wary of trying flavoured whiskies again. Maple finished? It certainly killed this whisky for me.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Book Review: Malt Whisky Yearbook 2013

I'm coming up to my second Whisky Birthday next week and it was around this time last year that having been through most of the single malts available on the supermarket shelves I was looking for new inspiration to continue my journey.

So trawling through Amazon and similar sites I found and bought three books that I thought would help me with my journey, one on which was Malt Whisky Yearbook 2012.
My new shiny copy superseding last years yearbook 
Malt Whisky Yearbook is the brainchild Ingvar Ronde, who, having been interested in whisky for some 20 years, noticed around seven years ago that there for some reason was no yearbook compiling what happens in the world of whisky (and malt whisky in particular). After conducting some research he decided to try and produce one himself. So the idea actually came from a need he had, to be able to read a summary of what had happened in a year and also to get a glimpse of the near future.

Well Malt Whisky Yearbook 2013 has just been recently published and I'm very pleased to tell you that I have got my hands on a fresh copy to read.

I have been fortunate to meet Ingvar a couple of times now, the first time when we were new to the whisky world attending Whisky Live London in March of this year, I had already read through my copy of the 2012 Yearbook by that time, then again we met at the recent Whisky Exchange Show at Vinopolis.

Ingvar usually visits around thirty to thirty five Scottish distilleries a year, but hasn't had the chance to visit many outside of Scotland yet, relying on his network of contacts to update him regularly, and in good time for each new release. This is something Ingvar plans to change as he is eager to visit some of the distilleries not based in Scotland.

I asked Ingvar what his earliest whisky memory was and he told me "My first whisky memory is actually from 1980 when I travelled to Scotland with a friend of mine. We were riding on the Flying Scotsman from London to Inverness and we had a bottle of Dufftown Glenlivet (as it was called then) with us. Once in Inverness we rented a car and followed the Whisky Trail for a few days visiting Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Strathisla and Glenfarclas distilleries."

I went on to ask what three whiskies Ingvar would recommend to some one new to whisky and in no particular order Ingvar listed these:

I now need to find myself a Glenfarclas 12 Year Old as it's the only one of this three I've yet to try.

When I asked him what his dream dram would be, money no object, he told me how much he would love to enjoy a full bottle of Glenmorangie Pride. He got a tiny sample when it was released and was blown away!

Ingvar then gave me some whisky tips which I thought I would share with you:
  • Look out for the stuff coming from Compass Box – most of it is top class
  • From Berry Bros & Rudd – their different Blue Hanger releases (Ingvar's favourites have been number 4 and 5)
  • The new duty free releases from Auchentoshan – a distillery that many of us have overlooked before.
  • Yamazaki 18 Year Old and Miyagikyo 15 Year Old – two brilliant examples of what the Japanese can do
  • The old single casks from Glendronach that the owners have been releasing on a regular basis for the last couple of years are pure heaven for a sherry freak
Getting back to the Malt Whisky Yearbook, it was a revelation when I first got my hands on it, packed with information that I was looking for. The latest and 8th edition follows the tried and tested format, which is broken down into three coloured sections:

The 'red section' begins the book with articles from distinguished whisky profiles such as Charles MacLean, Gavin Smith, Ian Buxton, Dominic Roskrow, Neil Ridley, Ian Wisniewski, and Jonny McCormick. Gavin Smith opens the book up with a chapter charting the new single malts rise in the markets from established distilleries that previously supplied malt to the blenders. The red section ends with a new feature titled 'Working on the Front-line' where eight brand ambassadors, whisky retailers and whisky evangelists give their views of the whisky world.

The 'blue section' follows which contains the distillery data. Starting with the malt whiskies of Scotland and Ireland and packed with great photographs of the distilleries. The book dedicates at least a page to each distillery, listed alphabetically, with a brief potted history, tasting notes from one of the core expressions, as well as news of recent releases.  The distillery news is often augmented with an additional page 'meet the manager' where we get to know a little bit more about the brand, the distillery and of course the person.

There are additional articles interspersed within the distillery pages featuring cocktails, websites to watch, books and magazines, as well as a great feature on the 'maths' of a distillery (I'm an engineer, I can't help it) Where I got to learn that it takes around 11 litres of water and 1.4 kg of barley to produce one bottle of 12 year old whisky.
A Quick Guide to Whisky Math - OK I'm a whisky geek
The closed distilleries are not forgotten and are listed, with a brief potted history and update on their status before moving onto whiskies from around the world.

The 'green section' ends the the book summarising the whisky year, tabulating some fascinating facts and figures.

Malt Whisky Yearbook gives a great insight into what is going on in the world of whisky and it has become an authoritative book that whisky enthusiasts worldwide look forward to each autumn. My 2012 copy rarely left my side last year, taking it on holiday with me twice. I'll let the 2012 edition rest now and let this latest edition take up the mantle.

If you love whisky, this book must be on your bookshelf! For more information check out their webepage: back issues of some of the previous years are still available, and I'm sure will become collectable if not already.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Milroys of Soho Tweet Tasting

This was The Whisky Wire's last Tweet Tasting of 2012, and this time we had four drams from independent bottler Milroy's of Soho. Founded in 1964 by John and Wallace Milroy, Milroy's of Soho is London's original whisky specialist. They carry a comprehensive range of more than 700 hand selected whiskies from around the world. All of the operating and many of Scotland's closed distilleries are represented, together with a strong selection from Ireland, Japan, the USA and Canada. The whisky selection is supplemented by a collection of fine Rum, Cognac, Armagnac and other spirits. Over the years, the Milroy's of Soho wine offering has expanded and they now have access to a portfolio of over 2,000 Champagnes, wines and fine wines. 

Visitors to the shop will find over 300 malts available for tasting at any one time and the shop runs a programme of tutored tastings throughout the year in its own tasting cellar.

The four drams arrived in plenty of time although a few of the tasters had lost samples in the post. I ended up with four intact bottles but number four was either not filled or leaked in transit as there was barely a dram left in the bottle. Proceedings started as usual at seven o'clock with Steve of @TheWhiskyWire leading the tasting we started with our first whisky, labelled strangely enough with a number one:

Whisky Discovery #282

Finest Blended Malt, (40% abv)
Blended Malt Whisky
£19.95 70cl

The label reads: An elegant, malty blend selected from distinguished Highland and Speyside distilleries. Aged in high grade hogshead casks to achieve a perfect balance that is seductively rich and mellow. We were told that up to thirty single malts are used to create this blended malt whisky.

So What Did I Think?

This had a lovely nose, very sweet, with honey, a little light sherry, toffees, a light fruit cake note that reminded me of the slices of cake that were singularly wrapped that we had at school, Madeira cake I think it was called, made by Huntley and Palmer's I'm sure. After a little while I started to get a little maltiness now and then a good hit of vanilla. There was a light white pepper along with some richer spices too.

On the palate there was an initial citrus flash which then turns sweet and creamy, with vanilla toffees, honey, malt and a nice spicy pepper kick at the end.

I went back to nose this after our third third dram and it had opened up to smell strongly of melted vanilla ice cream or cream soda, really sweet. This is an excellent value for money blended malt whisky, very easy drinking, smooth and creamy, quite sweet but with a spicy pepper kick at the end.

Some of my favourite tweets for this blended malt

@champdenwhite: At first a little sweetness and then some fruit cake.
@dvdbloke: Nose - Honey syrup sweet. vanilla, tiny whiff of light smoke.
@TIA568B: Lots of spongy sweetness, vanilla, with maybe a faint whiff of spice on the nose of this one.
@DramStats: Is there Bruichladdich in this? Getting a whiff of that crumble and cream note
@TheWhiskyWire: Cardamons dipped in toffee & dusted with white pepper.
@rickfurzer: Spiced pears moving into baked apples & hint of cinnamon & all spice
@petedrinks: Vanilla, honey, perhaps a little sherry on the nose. No pears though, so clearly my nose is broken
@ifotou: Nose: Homemade Victoria cream sponge cake sweet but cereally slight smoky notes hiding in the background a touch of ground ginger
@TIA568B Really nice, smells like my grans kitchen when she was baking cake
@steveprentice: Palate: Smooth and easy drinking, touch of spice and dryness which I enjoy, not too sweet, but fruits coming though
@TheWhiskyWire: A real quaffable, cosy, confident & bountifully balanced drop of blendage. A great dram for Crimbo

Whisky Discovery #283

Longmorn 1999, 13 Year Old, Milroy's of Soho (46% abv, 2012) 
Speyside Single Malt Whisky
£35.00 70cl

This Longmorn has been drawn from a single ex-Bourbon barrel, creating a wonderfully delicate aromatic whisky. We were told that this one was bottled for light summer drinking.

So What Did I Think?

Initial impressions on the nose gave me malty notes, like fresh bread dough, before it has proved. There was a linseed oil like putty note too. The fruit started to appear by way of sultanas. Although my initial impressions seemed quite bold statements, the nose was in fact quite delicate really, which slowly released some floral notes and vanilla very feint in the background. Nosing deeply there was some mint notes too.

The palate comes across as a mixed citrus based fruit juice which gives way to a spicy chilli heat. There is the expected vanilla notes and there is a nutty dryness towards the finish

Some of my favourite tweets for this Longmorn

@whiskywardrobe: The Longmorn seems to be more shy. I get little on the nose; honey, spices, a bit floral, a bit fruity.
@champdenwhite: The Longmorn has a lighter sweetness for me, a little tropical mixed with floral. Touches of honeycomb (a waxy sweetness)
@TheWhiskyWire: Tropical fruit topped Danish pastries.
@ifotou: Nose: Tickly peppery spice start with a light smoke element,citrus fruits especially lemon and a wisp of tomato plant.
@DramStats: Nose: Biscuits! Hint of Um Bongo (seriously), slightly floral and is that tomato puree?
@dvdbloke: Palate; nice coating mouthfeel, hot pepper, boiled fruit sweets, turning dry, with a long finish of floral and sweet oak
@whiskyrepublic: Palete - Tremendous light & shade.Gentle hit followed by a powerful peppery wave fading into fruit, oak, spicy, buttery bourbon
@champdenwhite: The flavours dance across the palate quite quickly making this very interesting before becoming settled and balanced.
@TheWhiskyWire: Candied spiced oak, more suggestions of tropical fruit & a wisp of menthol freshness in the finish
@TIA568B: Surprised how much there is on the palate, tropical fruit, some Caribbean notes, spicy, more ginger, a bit of mint leaf, lovely

Whisky Discovery #284

Cooley 2001, 11 Year Old, Milroy's of Soho (46% abv, Cask 3440, 2012)
Irish Single Cask Whiskey 
£55.00 70cl

Until recently Cooley was the only privately owned distillery in Ireland. The distillery was sold at the end of last year to multinational Beam for about £60 million. This is an Irish whiskey that has been bottled in Scotland. No doubt this will become a talking point - but not for long as only 296 bottles were produced from this single cask.

So What Did I Think?

This had a great nose of bananas, pear drops, soft over-ripe papaya, and there is a subdued nail varnish note - not a burning acetone type smell, but like the nail varnish is almost dry. (I have a teenage daughter who paints her nails on an almost daily basis at the moment).

The palate picks up with the tropical over-ripe fruits; bananas, papaya and jack-fruit, coconut and limes. It builds up to a spicy crescendo which quickly sweetens back to the fruity sugars. This has a very interesting palate to go with the delightful nose

Some of my favourite tweets for this Cooley

@bumpythechemist: Lots of esters and nail varnish remover on the Cooley  then over ripe banana and sweet vanilla
@whiskywardrobe: Haha! Melon? Yep, vanilla, floral, chewing gum. Connemara for sure!
@rodbodtoo: Now that smells... different. Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more.
@MaltMad: Wow, when you said banana that hit me hard, spot on
@whiskyrepublic: Poached pear Hubba Bubba! Miguel, you were right about the Connemara I think
@TheWhiskyWire: An instant seductive lunge of bourbon influences & Fry's Turkish Delight
@whiskywardrobe: My favourite so far. So perfect... perhaps the best Connemara I have had
@rodbodtoo: Smells great! Creamy lime & coconut; herbal & rye notes, even some coriander
@ifotou: Nose: Sweet dewy grass with nail polish (not remover) heavenly floral notes, really fruity I want to dive right in and stay there
@TIA568B: I want to curl up in a ball in front of a fire, nose this and be in my own little world, reality's too cold!
@champdenwhite: Very soft and smooth on the palate, lovely sweet fruit flavours. Tropicals and white stone fruits.
@dvdbloke: palate 3 - Rye Rye Rye, vanilla, rich oak, super spicy pepper. beautiful, but so much more bourbon than whisky. still fantastic! 
@steveprentice: Palate: Much more tropical and fruity on the palate than expected, very pleasant dram this one, spicy and sweet, moorish
@rodbodtoo: Loving the Cooley 11yo. With water I'm getting the full panoply of melon/ bubblegum/ rye/ creamy limes/ bitter herbs

Whisky Discovery #285

Zuidam Dutch Rye, Milroy's of Soho (46% abv, 2012)
Dutch Rye Whisky
£75.00 70cl

My first Dutch whisky and a Rye whisky from Millstone Dutch Single Malt Whisky which is owned and operated by the Zuidam family who have more than 50 years of experience in distilling of exclusive spirits and an obsessive search for perfection.

Boasting 100% rye content, as opposed to the rye/corn mash bills seen in the United States, this rye offers intense orange aromas and citric flavours. Big and bold at only 46% ABV this is a whisky for Scotch and Bourbon aficionados alike. To cap it all off, this is the world's first single cask single rye whisky. 'The rye is actually a really nice batch. In my opinion it is from one of the best batches that we have done thus far. It took some time to age but it has this creamy rich texture that is quite rare.' Patrick Van Zuidam.

So What Did I Think?

What a powerful nose this had. Wow! There's notes of tea, lavender, jasmine oil, it's grassy, there's some Blake's decking paint, perhaps even  little linseed oil. Very complex, but with only a small amount surviving the journey to Whisky Discovery I had just one shot at compiling my nosing notes, and was perhaps a little to eager to dive in and discover the taste.

On the palate there was plenty of Rye (no shit Sherlock!) wood notes, light spices, vanilla cream, more wood notes, and some some oil based paint notes and then all of a sudden my small sample was gone!

Some of my favourite tweets for this Dutch Rye

@DramStats: Dutch Rye: Speaking of not being in Kansas anymore.... This whisky is insane. Lost for notes. Like being beaten to death with a sack of rye. In a rye field
@rodbodtoo: Nose is green/herbal, also lemon boiled sweets, also butter, varnish, workshops, dried grass, sweet hay
@whiskyrepublic: Whoa there big fella! Is this one taking me to a scary place? I think someone's burning carpets. Intriguing nose; Burnt grasses, damp, sweet, vegetal notes
@TheWhiskyWire: Rough, ready & right rollickingly remarkable. Good, good, good, good rye-brations!
@TIA568B: Ikea flat pack furniture, Lapsang souchong, pine wood, menthol, lavendar and a little grassy - Lovely!
@dvdbloke: Palate rich mouthfeel, loads of oak spice and vanilla, rye, something musty in the dry finish. complex and interesting
@ifotou: Nose: very subtle i get brown bread, really struggling to put into words how this smells, touch of acetone also
@whiskyrepublic: I'm stuck in the carpenter's workshop, the oils, the different woods, the heat, the varnish - intense & a little claustrophobic
@DramStats: Palate: Rye, creamy vanilla, freshly sawn oak shavings, cough sweets (fishermans friends or Halls extra strong no menthol, Pepper

As per previous Tweet Tastings there was a great deal of tweeting going on and to see what happened search on the #MilroysTT hashtag on twitter for the full story

Yet another great experience and another highlight of our whisky journey, registering four new ‘Discoveries’ this time.

A massive THANK YOU to Steve Rush at @TheWhiskyWire and @Milroys as well as the rest of the team at Milroy's of Soho and of course the tweet tasters.

This events tweet tasters were:

@TheWhiskyWire @Smokiechops @WhiskyDiscovery @bumpythechemist @rodbodtoo @MaltMad @rickfurzer @ifotou @steveprentice @DramStats @TIA568B @robertcjackson @dvdbloke @champdenwhite @whiskyrepublic @petedrinks @fr1day @LaCaveDeCobalt @whiskywardrobe

For more information see: and

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Whisky and Food Pairing

Whisky & Food Tasting at The Butlers Wharf Chop House
(Kat's first solo post)

Last week I was invited to London to The Butlers Wharf Chop House by the lovely Tara Sura. To begin with let me tell you a little bit about Tara; she’s one half of the Fork and Dram blog: and an event organiser at The Butlers Wharf Chop House. In terms of whisky, she’s newbie at the start of her journey. 

This was my first proper food & whisky pairing and the evening was being hosted by the delightful Colin Dunn of Diageo, so I had high expectations. This is the fourth tasting I have done with Colin this year, same as every time before, his enthusiasm for whisky and the whole tasting experience is contagious. He seems to be able to give everyone ‘the Meg Ryan moment' as he calls it; this is when someone suddenly gets what whisky is all about. 

There were around twelve people at the tasting, it was a good size crowd and we were sat in the end corner of the restaurant making it an intimate affair. The consisted of a few residents who lived in the apartments above the restaurant (lucky them), a recently qualified sommelier, and from what I can gather a couple of bartenders or from the restaurant/bar industry, and obviously Tara and myself. 

The canapés were looking very delicious, all made in house by the resident chef and the six whiskies were looking just as delicious with the light shining through each glass reflecting different shades of gold onto the table. 

No.1 Talisker 10 Year Old paired with Severn & Wye smoked salmon 

The tasting began with a Talisker 10 Year Old. The nose gives smoke from a wood fire with some wood charcoal. The smoky characters continue on the palate with more of the wood charcoal coming through, has a slight oily character that coats the mouth with the smokiness that’s followed by a fiery chili kick. For me this is a red Thai bird eye chili.

This was paired with smoked salmon from Severn & Wye smokehouse on pumpernickel bread. The whisky brought out the sweetness in both the salmon and the bread. The red chili notes in the whisky cuts through the richness of this canapé giving it light & fresh feel. This was a little surprising for me as I was expecting the smoky character of the whisky to be more over powering. Instead it was there nicely mingling with the sweetness and fresh notes all doing the waltz. 

The Severn & Wye smoke salmon brings back good memories of various camping holidays around the Forest of Dean. We always pass the smoke house on our journey and have to stop in. 

No.2 Oban 14 Year Old paired with Haggis and swede on toasted sour dough bread

The second whisky was a 14 Year Old Oban. On the nose I got mineral qualities, salt, dried earth and dried leaves, baby powder, and buttery sweetness of short bread. With water, the smell changes to damp wood like wet fencing or decking. On the palate there’s some heat, with a citrus zest, and sea salt comes through. Overall found it light and refreshing compared to the Talisker. Water didn't change the taste much, just made it sweeter and mellower for me. The finish was long & warm, full of black pepper. 

This was paired with Haggis with swede on toasted sour dough bread. The crisp zesty notes cut through the richness of the Haggis and brings out the spices used in its flavouring. The cinnamon and nutmeg is more pronounced than they would normally be compared with just eating it on its own. 

No.3 Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old paired with shortbread made by the chef

We then moved onto the Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old. On the nose it’s floral and smelt similar to the shortbread that’s it was being paired with – sweet buttery creaminess. On the palate the sweet floral notes came through. I noted this to be a light and refreshing whisky. There is a little bit of heat on the finish but doesn't stay for long. 

With the shortbread, same as previous it, it just turbo charges all the flavours that already in the food. Here it brings out malt flavours in the shortbread and cuts through the richness. The mouth is left fairly clean, not coated with shortbread. 

No.4 Lagavulin 16 Year Old paired with Coulson Bassett Stilton cheese 

The fourth whisky was a Lagavulin 16 Year Old. On the nose it’s a very bold whisky with smoky peat aromas. I also got iodine and sour cherries. On the palate its sweet, smoky peat and black cherries towards the end with a sweet smoky finish. 

This was paired with Stilton Cheese.  I'm not a big fan of Stilton or blue cheeses in general but the whisky really balanced out the strong flavours of the cheese. It brings out the creaminess and the saltiness, more like I was eating salty ricotta. The blue cheese flavour that’s the main character of the Stilton is still there but much more mellow. It was really quite pleasant.

No.5 Glenkinchie 12 Year Old paired with Gran Padana cheese 

Our fifth whisky was the lowland Glenkinchie 12 Year Old. On the nose I got a light floral and a malt note, that reminded me of Horlicks. By this point the conversation was flowing so I didn’t get to nose the whisky for long, hence the short notes. 

This was paired with Gran Pandana cheese which is similar to Parmesan cheese. It really brings out the saltiness of the cheese, makes it really creamy and brought out a nutty note out of the cheese; definitely enhancing the umami taste. The whisky also added a hint of spice which was nice towards the end which cuts through the creaminess to leave a clean palate feel.
This was one of my favourite combos so far, making me go back for seconds. 

No.6 Singleton of Dufftown 18 Year Old paired with 70% Valhrona dark chocolate tartlet

Our final whisky was the Singleton 18 Year Old. I must apologise though, as by this point I had got too wrapped up in the evening and only took down a very short note: the nose was sweet, malts, fruit cake, and Sherry notes, but if you want to know more check out our Whisky Discovery #48 

The Singleton was paired with a dark chocolate, and two pieces just wasn't enough! The smooth chocolate melted like butter and when combined with the whisky made the best tasting chocolate whisky liquor. Again it elevates the chocolate, bringing out the rich bitter cocoa tastes but didn't have any of the heaviness of being 70% cocoa. 

We have tried all of these whiskies before and Dad has had most of them on his shelf at one time or other, and still has a Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old on it.

If you are interested in The Butlers Wharf Chop House they can be found at, and details for Severn & Wye Smokehouse can be found at

Thank you for reading and I hoped everyone enjoyed my first full solo post! x Kat x

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Whisky Discovery #281

Isle of Jura 30 Year Old 'Standing Stone' (44% abv)
Island Single Malt Whisky
Circa £350.00 70cl
Standing Stone
The new Jura 30 Year Old
The Jura distillery has recently added a 30 year old single malt whisky to its collection which will be available from selected whisky stores across the world this month. I don't think this is the first time Jura has released a 30 Year Old as I'm sure I've noted some limited releases previously, but this will be an addition to the core range from them.

Called the Standing Stone, or ‘Camas an Staca’ in Gaelic, the new expression takes its name from the largest of Jura's eight standing stones. Known as ‘The Bay of the Protecting Rocks’ this imposing 12 foot obelisk is reputedly all that remains of a stone circle laid some 3,000 years ago by the earliest Diurachs to appease the spirits.

The iconic Jura bottle is presented in a beautiful display case that opens its doors to showcase the bottle and reveal the story of the whisky. Meticulously detailed, the bottle is in-filled with copper wax, with a matching metal plaque.

Official Tasting notes
Nose: The seductive nuances of sandalwood, tuberose, lime and spicy patchouli soon usher in hints of vanilla, Java coffee, tangerine and crushed Ogen melon. Whispers of sea spray, spicy apple and honeyed figs linger in the background.
Taste: Fleshy oranges, tangy liquorice, coconut and sweet pineapple are followed by orange rind, black cherries, dark toffee and sun dried raisins.

So What Did I Think?

I'm really grateful for Whyte and Mackay for supplying this tasting sample before general release. In addition at around £350 a bottle it's slightly out of my budget, and certainly out of my drinking budget. I guess the target market is going to be serious collectors and investors which is a shame as I thoroughly enjoyed my experience of it. I've checked on-line and haven't seen it for sale yet so it's release must be imminent.

On the nose it's rich, sweet and full; sweet caramel toffee and vanilla, there's an underlying  subdued orange note, not bright and zesty, but dark and almost chocolate orange like. There is a little coffee on the nose, but from Java? I couldn't tell you. Fruit comes in by way of dates and figs and there it a little saltiness to the nose too.

The subdued orange notes are on the palate too as is the dark chocolate, Rich toffee and light liquorice along with some mild chilli spice. The majority of the maturation period has been in American white oak before three years spent finishing in Oloroso Sherry butts from Gonzalez Byass gives this whisky the classic sherried fruits of black cherries and raisins. The mouth-feel is smooth yet decadent, luxurious and sweet, with fine dark chocolate orange and black cherries.

The rich dark chocolate orange stays right to the very end, a long and satisfying finish. I wish I could have gone back for more, and it will be something to look out for at one of the whisky shows in the New Year, as I would certainly like to sample this again.

As I mentioned earlier, it is beyond my budget, and probably beyond most peoples budget, which is a shame as I would love to have some on my shelf to turn to every now and then. This is a very enjoyable whisky, and one I think would go really well after a big dinner. For now, I'll just have to stick to my bottle of 16 Year Old Jura which shares some of the characteristics at a budget I can afford!

Whisky Discovery #280

Machrie Moor (46% abv Third Edition Released 2012)
Island Single Malt Whisky
circa £40.00 70cl
Isle of Arran Distillers
The Isle of Arran Distillers have been producing a peated malt every year since 2004. The malted barley is gently peated to a level of 14 ppm and laid to mature in American oak casks. The peated malt whisky has been used in a number of releases over the years, most notably the recent Devil's Punch Bowl, but Machrie Moor is a limited release using just the peated whisky and our tasting sample was from the recently launched third release and a run of 12,000 bottles. As with all of the expressions of the Arran Malt we have tasted this is non chill-filtered, naturally coloured and bottled at a respectable 46% abv

Also, like a number of the Arran Malts this expression has been named after an island landmark.  On the west coast of the Isle of Arran lies a windswept and mystical peat bog called Machrie Moor. Bronze Age stone circles and standing stones are strewn across its barren, undulating terrain. One of the stone circles is known as Fingal's Cauldron Seat, where sits a stone with a carved hole. The legendary warrior giant Fingal is said to have tethered his favourite dog Bran to this stone. Bran features on the label of this release, still tethered to Fingal's Cauldron Seat.

So What Did We Think?

Kat Said: I tasted this whisky before I read any official tasting notes or anything about the whisky. Generally this is how I like to taste my whiskies for the first time so that I’m not influenced by any power of suggestions (this includes not reading what my Dad’s already posted). I find it more interesting this way. 

It was a surprise to me to find that this Arran is slightly peated. I didn’t specifically pick out peat; I didn’t even find it smoky. Here’s what I got. 

Nose:  Fresh crunchy Granny Smith’s apples with its slight greenness and sharp acidity, hot pear crumble, sea salt, light fragrance of seasoned oak that lingers in the background, and towards the end of the dram there was some white pepper coming through. 

Taste:  Strong liquorice at the very beginning, I would say more like that of the root than of boiled or soft sweets. It’s still sweet but with an antiseptic quality that numbs your mouth and leaves it slightly cools at the same time. Towards the middle there’s some heat from cloves and the sweetness is more noticeable (just of normal white sugar, not Demerara or anything like that), then towards the end a light floral notes comes through. 

Finish:  At the end it initially left a fresh mouth feel with a nice bitterness quality that balances out the sweetness from earlier. The bitterness was more like that from the peel of a Granny Smith’s, the sweetness came back (more like Demerara sugar this time), and it ended with the liquorice taste. 

Overall it was a pleasant dram which I enjoyed. I particularly liked that the different notes I picked up on the nose filtering through to the entire whisky. Like a good CV this whisky this whisky told me in the beginning ‘So this is what I can do’, then on the palate it says ‘these are what makes me who I am’, and at the end leaving me to feel completely in sync with it. 

tasted this weekend just gone where we had snow fall non-stop for 24 hours or so. It’s a good whisky to help warm up your cockles. 

Dave Said: In the glass it's very pale, like a white wine, and swirled around the glass leaves oil like droplets around the sides.

The immediate note I wrote down was that it smelled like buttered toast. Granary bread of course! After the buttered toast the citrus and vanilla notes came forward, quite lemony but the lightest scent of orange marmalade too (going back to my toast). After a little while I was able to tease out some fruit with notes of pineapple and peaches. At 14ppm I think this is a very lighted peated malt and the peat notes really need to be teased out, this is no peat monster. 

On the palate there is a fresh citrus tang, more limes than lemons now. A fiery pepper spice mid palate and the slightest hint of peat smoke, nothing heavy and more of a light char. I added a drop of water and the nose sweetens immediately releasing a little fragrant smoke at the same time. The water tames the fiery pepper on the palate and gives a rich and creamy mouth-feel while the lime tang is sill there.

The finish is crisp and clean with citrus zest and a little sweet vanilla, again the slightest hint of smoke. This comes across as quite a young whisky, but really quite enjoyable. The peat levels is quite low compared to some of the peated malts I've tasted and so you have to search hard for it, that is until the glass is empty. Returning to the empty glass to nose, only after a few minutes of finishing the last sip, the peat smoke is much stronger and certainly drew me back to pour myself another

And finally:

Many thanks to Isle of Arran Distillers for sending us a generous sample of this new release to review.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Dalmore Tweet Tasting

For the first Tweet Tasting of December we were treated to four single malts from the Dalmore Range. We have both tasted a couple of Dalmore expressions previously at Whisky Live earlier this year, but as yet have not had any on our shelf, but before we begin our Tweet Tasting some background:

A short History Lesson on the Dalmore Story

In 1263, an ancestor of Clan Mackenzie saved King Alexander III of Scotland from being gored by a stag whilst out hunting. The grateful King granted the Mackenzies the right to bear a stag’s head, with twelve points to its antlers, signifying a ‘Royal’, in their coat of arms.

The Dalmore distillery was long owned by The Mackenzie family and every bottle of The Dalmore single malt whisky is adorned with this proud emblem, symbolising the distillery’s royal pedigree.

The philosophy that has endured throughout The Dalmore’s history is best reflected in the Mackenzie family motto ‘Luceo Non Uro’. Translated as ‘I Shine, Not Burn’.

The Dalmore still house is home to  four unique idiosyncratic wash stills and four distinctive spirit stills, each of which varies in shape and size. This unusual arrangement of both short and tall stills delivers The Dalmore’s robust, complex and new-make spirit – one that can withstand exceptionally long periods of maturation in wood.

Maturation is a critical stage in the creation of any malt whisky as cask selection plays a vital role in deter-mining a whisky’s flavour profile, colour and character. The Dalmore’s hand-selected first fill bourbon barrels from Kentucky and aged sherry casks from world-renowned Spanish sherry house Gonzalez Byass ensure the Dalmore delivers a whisky that is rich in aroma and flavour.

Furthermore Dalmore is the only distillery permitted to source Matusalem sherry casks from Gonzalez Byass, contributing to its truly unique flavour profile.

After its maturation in American bourbon and Spanish sherry casks, the whisky is brought together by The Dalmore’s third generation Master Distiller, Richard Paterson, and left to harmonise in upstanding sherry butts.

Not content with solely using American and Spanish oak, a number of whiskies are finished in a range of exceptional casks from world-renowned bodegas and exclusive wineries.  Each cask gives the whisky its own unique characteristics without compromising The Dalmore’s distinctive house style.

And so onto our Dalmore Tweet Tasting: The samples were received in good time, which we’ll be sampling in the order of their 15 Year Old, Cigar Malt, 18 Year Old and King Alexander III.

Unfortunately just before we were about to start Kat had to rush off out to take one of her dogs to the vets so her notes will have to follow:
Whisky Discovery #277

The Dalmore 15 Year Old  (40% abv)
Highland Single Malt Whisky
Circa £46.00 70cl
Dalmore Single Malt

I thought I had tried this once before, but checking back through my liquid log found I was mistaken and it was the 12 Year Old that I had tasted at Whisky Live earlier this year.

Twelve years maturing in American white oak ex-bourbon casks, then a three year finish in three different sherry woods - Amoroso, Apostles and Matusalem Oloroso.

The 15 Year Old was a Double gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits competition 2009 and a Silver medal at the International Wine & Spirit Competition 2011.

Official Tasting Notes
Aroma: Orange marmalade, cinnamon and nutmeg
Palate: Mandarin, vanilla, ginger and crushed apples
Finish: Christmas spice and oak

So What Did We Think?

Kat said: TBA 

Dave said: On the nose this came across as rich and malty, with thick cut orange marmalade, like the stuff my Dad used to make, dark and spicy. After a little while in the glass I was starting to get a bit of resinous pine wood smell, the sticky sap that leaches out of fresh sawn lumber. Then the milk chocolate notes started to evolve - a chocolate box full of flavours; oranges, toffee, coffee, fudge, nuts.

It was much lighter on the palate than I was expecting, especially after the rich and flavour packed nose, I was thinking it was going to be thicker. The vanilla is prominent on first sip and there is a clear ginger spice. The milk chocolate notes return along with the orange and spice. There was a light saltiness to the spicy finish gave way to tobacco notes. 

Returning to nose this immediately after tasting it seemed much sweeter that at first, and then returning to this later still and after tasting the rest of the range, this had the maltiest nose of them all.

Some of my favourite tweets for the Dalmore 15 Year Old

@steveprentice: A good buttery nose, fruity with a wee backdrop of salt and a touch of new sawdust.
@LRWhisky: Initial mixture of burnt honey on toast with a little sprinkling of coconut. Quite liking this
@sjjgo: It's a bit like walking into an Ikea showroom…in a good way
@rodbodtoo: A nose of dark old wood, plus (distantly) a big tin of Quality Street
@TheWhiskyWire: Rich spiced caramel waves with Clementine zest and pith.
@ifotou: Sweet, honey, Christmas cake and winter spices, a touch of mulled wine and some oak hints.
@JayDieNL: Slightly tinkling mouthfeel, nuts. After taste: nuts, sherry, coffee, slightly bitter.
@TonyWTC: You guys can really spend 15 minutes nosing? I've finished my 15 
@steveprentice: Fairly light mouthfeel here, smooth with fruits coming through just before the finish which is medium long with woody notes
@MaltBox: Palate - More orange, dark baking chocolate, slight malt, walnut and candied fruits
@TheWhiskyWire: A winter spiced chocolate orange with a toffee coffee crumb

The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve NAS (44% abv)
Highland Single Malt Whisky
Circa £65.00 70cl
Dalmore Single Malt

Aged in 30 year old Oloroso Sherry butts, American White Oak and premier cru Cabernet Sauvignon wine barriques, this whisky is said to provide cigar and malt fans with an incomparable experience and succinct pleasure - I'm not a smoker in any form and haven't been for almost 19 years, but still thinking of getting a pipe!

The Cigar Malt Reserve was a Silver medal at the International Wine & Spirit Competition 2011.

Official Tasting Notes
Aroma: Cinnamon, vanilla and red fruits
Palate:  Tropical fruits, banana toffee and vanilla ice cream
Finish: Orange zest, bergamot and crushed spiced

So What Did We Think?

Kat said: TBA 

Dave said:  Initially I found this to be quite similar to the 15 Year Old on the nose, but with perhaps a little more vanilla and spicier. Once in the glass however the nose starts to develop and the sherry influence starts to come through, and there are plump juicy sultanas, ones that have been soaking in a light sherry, there is also a fragrant tobacco note which I liked

Sweeter and fuller on the palate than the 15 Year Old. Fruity with mango leather, caramelised banana, rich chocolate, more tobacco notes a light spicy finish, very pleasant, very mouth-wateringly sweet too. I've not smoked for almost 19 years, perhaps a pipe would go well with this one!

Some of my favourite tweets for The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve

@MaltBox: Nose; toffee, ANZAC biscuits, quite punchy hits of smoky bacon wheat crunchies.
@LRWhisky: The cigar malt is quite biscuity to begin with, very dry and ashy (appropriately enough)-like a smoker without the reek. Complex.
@dvdbloke: Dark sherried fruits, caramel, chocolate, coffee, old leather notes in the background or is that me?
@TheWhiskyWire: Now that's a nose and a half. Coffee, chocolate, vanilla fudge, with added sheer sherry sumptuousness
@ifotou: Nose: Dried fruits with crushed coffee beans, touch of tobacco and nutty flavours, more Brazil nut than peanut though.
@steveprentice: Almost makes me wish I smoked! Smells great... I could imagine it'd pair very nicely
@rodbodtoo: Aha! the characteristic burnt orange notes are now coming through
@LRWhisky: Very chewy and tobaccoey, with sherried and sweet fruity notes. Slightly ashy on the finish
@TheWhiskyWire: Sherried fruity sweetness merging with a tobaco'd citrus twang

Whisky Discovery #278

The Dalmore 18 Year Old  (43% abv)
Highland Single Malt Whisky
Circa £85.00 70cl
Dalmore Single Malt

Matured initially for 14 years in American white oak ex-bourbon casks, the whisky is then transferred to 30 year old Matusalem Oloroso sherry wood for a further four years.  Bottled at 43% alcohol by volume, the Dalmore 18 year old offers a provocative and intense taste experience with an enduring after taste of cinnamon and nutmeg.

This 18 Year Old was a Double Gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2011.

Official Tasting Notes
Aroma: Vanilla, dark chocolate, orange and cinnamon
Palate: Dark chocolate, candied citrus fruits, rich coffee, nutmeg and cloves
Finish: Citrus fruit, oak and spice

So What Did We Think?

Kat said: TBA

Dave said:  Again this has a similar family profile on the nose with spicy orange peel, malty notes, but more of a liquorice note on this than the others. It also seemed a little dryer on the nose, with a chalkiness or dustiness and there's a mustiness of a very old leather bound book to it. I love a good Oloroso Sherry and this 18 year old is steeped in it - a lovely nose that evolves when the fruits start to be released. 

On the palate there was dark chocolate, coffee and cloves too. After tasting and re-nosing I started to get some milky notes initially, but returning again later it was dark chocolate with light coffee notes.

This became my immediate favourite, but on reflection and after returning to all four expressions I was being led towards the Cigar Malt Reserve for my favourite of the evening, but this was right up there too in a very close second.

Some of my favourite tweets for The Dalmore 18 Year Old

@dvdbloke: Sherry sherry sherry and some old museums?
@ifotou: Sherry influence but a lot lighter than the 15 and Cigar malt, some dewy grass notes, freshly split pea pods
@TheWhiskyWire: A deliciously decadent depth of balance to the nose. A bourbon kiss & sherried cuddle, in no hurry to go anywhere
@MaltBox: 18 Nose Dry like Grappa on the nose, malt, golden syrup, sultanas, vanilla and balsa wood
@TonyWTC: Soaked sultanas bread pudding stays in the mouth, spicy comes in gently and lingers pleasantly.
@rodbodtoo: Ah, cold glass. Here we go... dried fruit (big fat sultanas) savoury gravy made with madeira, Caramac
@dvdbloke: exquisite balance of sweet and spicy. Rich sherried fruit, delicate wood spice, finish continues to xmas cake soaked heaven
@TheWhiskyWire: Thicker on the palate,,,mmm sherried spice, with a hint coffee, dark butterscotch & a square of bournville choc
@JayDieNL: There it is... dark chocolate with sultanas... When I smell it, I visualize the chocolate bar 

Whisky Discovery #279

The Dalmore King Alexander III NAS (40% abv)
Highland Single Malt Whisky
Circa £115.00 70cl
Dalmore Single Malt
Crafted to honour the act of saving Scotland’s King in 1263, this expression unites six specially selected casks housing spirit of perfect maturity.  Whiskies matured in ex-bourbon casks, Matusalem oloroso sherrywood, Madeira barrels, Marsala casks, port pipes and Cabernet Sauvignon wine barriques are brought together in perfect harmony.  Each cask gives its own flavour notes, delivering a unique, complex single malt whisky revered by connoisseurs.

King Alexander III was awarded Gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2009 and Silver medal at the International Wine & Spirit Competition 2011

Official Tasting Notes
Aroma: Red berry fruits, fresh flowers and hints of passion fruit
Palate: Citrus zest, vanilla pod, crème caramel and crushed almonds
Finish: Sweet cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger

So What Did We Think?

Kat said: TBA

Dave said: There is a great deal going on with the nose of this one. With six different casks finishes all competing for air it is very interesting. I got an initial white pepper hit, followed by a damp cellar note, musty, earthy, dry hay, forest floor. Then the bourbon casks came into play with toffee and vanilla, before the wine, sherry and port  casks released the fruity notes; banana, red grapes and a fleeting sweet baked pear note coming through

On the palate it was light and very fruity with a neat spicy edge to it. There's a Clementine orange taste and lots of vanilla. It really was quite nice

Some of my favourite tweets for King Alexander III

@robertcjackson: At the risk of sounding like a broken record very orange zest again...
@TheWhiskyWire: An initial whiff of Jamaican ginger cake, cherry cough syrup & a foam banana from the pic'n'mix
@sjjgo: I'm getting marmite. Every sniff different.
@ifotou: Nose: Spicy wood notes flow easily from this, touches of vanilla and dried banana chips, sweet and subtle
@steveprentice: Nose... Various things going on, hard to pick one to latch on to. Pine notes, dry fruit, fizzy sweets, varnish.
@TheWhiskyWire: This dram evolves quicker than Superman going through a set of revolving doors, and gloriously so!
@dvdbloke: incredibly evolving nose. Michael Jackson would be proud
@rodbodtoo: Tastes delicious. Mellow, yellow & red fruits (fresh not dried) a bit of bite, subtle biscuity malt.

As per previous Tweet Tastings there was a great deal of tweeting going on and to see what happened search on the #DalmoreTT hashtag on twitter for the full story

Yet another great experience and another highlight of our whisky journey, registering three new ‘Discoveries’ this time.

A massive THANK YOU to Steve Rush at @TheWhiskyWire and @DalmoreWhisky as well as the rest of the team at Dalmore and of course the tweet tasters.

This events tweet tasters were:

@TheWhiskyWire @DalmoreWhisky @steveprentice @WhiskyDiscovery @TonyWTC @rodbodtoo @LRWhisky @sjjgo @FrazerJ @ifotou @dvdbloke @pmaitlando @MaltBox @albascorguie @PresleyKa @robertcjackson @Whisky_Demon @TIA568B @rborghma @girl_whisky @JayDieNL

For more information see: and