Thursday, 29 November 2012

Cutty Sark Tweet Tasting Part 2

Cutty Sark Whisky

Steve Rush of The Whisky Wire is really packing in the Tweet Tastings in the run up to Christmas, with one scheduled each week now. Tonight we revisited Cutty Sark, a whisky I was first introduced to properly at the first Cutty Sark Tweet Tasting in April.

Once again we were joined by Cutty Sark Master Blender Kirsteen Campbell, who was tweeting in on the action via @CuttySarkBlend and was also on hand to answer all our Cutty Sark questions.
Cutty Sark Tweet Tasting

With everything ready in place for seven o'clock we started with Cutty Sark Original:

Whisky Discovery #71

Cutty Sark Original (40% abv)
Blended Scotch Whisky
circa £16.00 70cl

This is one of the whiskies I remember from my childhood, the yellow label on the green bottle in my father drinks cabinet. I first tasted this back in April of this year on the first Cutty Sark Tweet Tasting so click on the link to find out what I thought then and see how it compares this time. Kat on the other hand had not tasted any of the Cutty Sark range and so all four were new to her. 

Kirsteen told us that the blend is made up from a range of ages, mainly American oak casks. Some sherry, some bourbon.

So What Did We Think?

Kat said: The first thing that came to mind when first nosing was how fresh this felt. I was getting  green apples with hints of citrus and vanilla. The a creamy note in the background like whipped cream. The sweet notes reminded me of icing sugar because it's sweet, but with a power feel.

With all the talk of apples and custard, I was reminded of apple crumble and cold custard, then after a little longer the malty notes now, and seasoned dried oak, then a pear note. The sweet notes overall were.

When going to taste I was definitely getting the smell of Krispy Kreme sugar glazed doughnuts and on the first sip got a nice hit of fresh ginger. Lot's going on!

Dave said: I got that fresh cut hay note immediately on the nose, like a summer meadow being cut. This is so light and fresh, and after the hay started getting sweet floral notes and some malty biscuits too. after a little longer some oaky notes started to develop and a passing pear drop sweetness every so often.

The palate is light bodied, smooth sweet and fresh - a summery dram. Malted Milk biscuits are there for me, along with barley and vanilla. Great opening dram once again and this could be a great introduction whisky, light and very easy to drink, and at a price you can afford to drink everyday

Some of my favourite tweets for this expression

@MaltBox Green apple, malt, a light ale such as Thwaite's Wainwright, haylage and Rhubarb & Custard sweets

@TheWhiskyWire Floral fresh, with wisps of apple & vanilla
@whiskyrepublic That vanilla really comes through - almost a vanilla & custard fusion. Vanilla custard if you will! 
@ifotou Fruity, oranges apples and touch of lime, with fresh vanilla pods. a hint of freesias and a little edge of digestive biscuit
@TheWhiskyWire Just by the nose alone this stands out to be a real drop of class in a glass!
@whiskytube Sweet palate mixed with a vanilla infused butter with a dusting of spice on the finish
@jalcock1982 Bargain price really for such a easy drinking tasty dram 
@saint_jimmy A lot of ginger on the taste. Vanilla, fudge and dried coconut. A almost salty, lingering finish 

Whisky Discovery #267

Cutty Storm (40% abv)
Blended Scotch Whisky
circa £18.00 70cl
Cutty Sark Whisky

The recently released Storm was our second dram for the evening and a new Whisky Discovery to the both of us

Crafted from the same top quality grain whisky as Cutty Sark Blend, Storm features a higher proportion of older single malts resulting in a fascinating blend of brooding depth and exciting complexity.

Master Blender, Kirsteen Campbell, has created a profoundly rich whisky which, although bolder and deeper, is in keeping with the Cutty Sark philosophy of accessibility and versatility.

Impactful older whiskies from the world’s most celebrated distilleries have been used to create a tempestuous blended Scotch whisky; between the depth of flavour of the older malts and the vibrancy of the fresher grains lies the perfect Storm.

Kirsteen told us that Storm contains higher percentage of malt & older malts to give it richer edge, again American Oak rather than European Oak sherry casks are used. Kirsteen went on to say that she wanted to give it an edge over the Cutty Sark Original Blend and taste wise it’s Cutty with a bit of a kick! This is Kirsteen's second creation after the fabulous 25 Year Old Tam O’Shanter 

Official Tasting Notes

Appearance: Bright amber - with a suggestion of hidden depths
Nose: Rich and exotic, fudge and tropical fruit – intriguing depth that only comes from aged malts.
Palate: Sweet, ripe stone fruit, peaches and cream – layers of complexity and attractive velvet texture.
Finish: Gently drying, medium to good length, spicy with undertones of oak – exuberant yet mature with perfect balance.

So What Did We Think?

Kat said:  On the nose I had fresh papaya and was getting sense that this has some sherry cask in it, with dried fruits; raisins and figs. I also found coffee and some cedar wood. After a little longer hints of vanilla came through with a hot chili kick!  I Liked it!

Very smooth and silky on the palate with fruity notes coming through and towards the end there's a taste like fresh greens or raw broccoli.

Dave said: I found rich dried tropical fruit mix on the nose; coconut, pineapple, mango, papaya with some raisins and sultanas too, a little sherried fruit and toffee fudge, after a little while the vanilla was teased out. There was fleeting a sour note too.

On the palate it was much richer than the Original and felt more viscous with a darker, creamier sweetness at first, then a spicy pepper attack.

Some of my favourite tweets for this expression

@whiskytube Has a briny salty nose with a subtle sweetness at the finish

@whiskyrepublic Very subtle nose, the merest hint of tobacco? An autumn forest floor...earthy....wet, pleasant leaf-mash notes
@bumpythechemist Sherry cask influence on the nose. balsamic vinegar and a little smoking match on the storm. older, more complex nose
@whiskytube Getting a lot of oak on the nose here. I get a hint of tropical fruits too
@MaltBox Surprisingly rich and fruity, mango? toffee, very rich, getting coffee and kiwi fruit too
@TheWhiskyWire A steal at the price
@ifotou Big Sherry influence, tobacco leaves and a touch of fresh leather with a large handful of sultanas and raisins a little dewy grass
@whiskyrepublic This hasn't got a long finish but nor is it gone in a flash...more of a gentle farewell. Adieu mon orage
@whiskytube Really getting that coffee coming through on the palate mixed with a lot of demerara sugar

Cutty Sark Whisky

Whisky Discovery #72

Cutty Sark 12 Year Old (40% abv)
Blended Scotch Whisky
circa £24.00 70cl
Cutty Sark Whisky

Another first tasted this back in April of this year on the first Cutty Sark Tweet Tasting so click on the link to find out what I thought then and see how it compares this time.

So What Did I Think?

Kat said:  My initial tweet when nosing this 12 Year Old expression was "Ooohhh getting chocolate on the nose immediately!" Then I started getting some nutty notes, honey roasted nuts. which developed into roasted sesame seeds with a slight oiliness to it, which in turn developed into Brazil nuts. I loved the nutty woody notes, while still retaining a lovely freshness.

This was really nice and very smooth, with a hint of mild pepper at the end. I started getting a woody dried leaves taste probably from the sherry casks right at the very end.

Dave said: Dark marmalade on buttered granary toast, wet oak wood, malty biscuits and  dried fruits coming through now, and some honey. There seems to me a light smoky char underlying too

Much lighter and fresher than I was expecting on the palate. Lots of vanilla creaminess, citrus freshness and a light chili zing

Some of my favourite tweets for this expression

@whiskytube It has a syrupy nose with maybe some hints of figs. That famous vanilla is back too!

@jalcock1982 Pleasant nose fruity, rum and raisin, butter icing, sherry, all spice, Christmas Pudding
@bumpythechemist Fruity, rummy, sherry. very complex and balanced
@dvdbloke Very complex nose. creamy custard with raisin and fig compote
@ifotou Fruit cake, rum and raisin, floral gums and caramelised banana, some very tropical notes in there
@WHISKYILEACH Getting the chocolate hazel nuts smothered in honey
@dvdbloke Light, well balanced, honey nut sweetness, thick, long drying finish, with fruit cakey excellence. Beautiful, just beautiful
@whiskyrepublic Smooth on the palate, gentle spicy sweetness, toffee - Marathonesque....(or should that be Snickeresque?)
@cuttysarkblend Nuttiness coming through as the whisky complexity increases with age. Combination of great casks and fantastic whiskies

Whisky Discovery #73

Cutty Sark 18 Year Old (43% abv)
Blended Scotch Whisky
circa £57.00 70cl
Cutty Sark Whisky

Another first tasted this back in April of this year on the first Cutty Sark Tweet Tasting so click on the link to find out what I thought then and see how it compares this time.

So What Did I Think?

Kat said:  I can't remember having any whiskies to date with as many nutty notes., again this 18 year old has a similar profile, it's really interesting. After a little while I was picking out toffee and chocolate on the nose.

On the palate I was getting mincemeat from mince pies, and thought that this would be nice with a bit of ginger cake. Towards the end there was a bitter sweet caramel finish. 

Dave said: On the nose I was immediately getting Christmas Cake, marzipan, ginger, clove spice, vanilla, candied peel, even a little liquorice coming through. Then after a short while, although starting off much more Christmassy, became more Jamaican Ginger Cake like. 

There were some dark chocolate notes, which reminded me that I had bought some Green and Black's Chili Spice Dark Chocolate, and dash out to the fridge to get some!

On the palate it was absolutely mind-blowing with that chocolate!

Some of my favourite tweets for this expression

@TheWhiskyWire Just from a mere sniffette you know a rich rewarding rumpus awaits

@bumpythechemist Tropical sherry, limes in with the raisins and dried fruit. a little meatiness too on the nose
@MaltBox Very Speysider-esque oof this smells good, deep christmas pudding and parkin cake with sherry, orange peel and strong maltyness
@DramStats Nose: chocolate, Coffee beans, dark sherry and plums, Jamaican ginger cake, almonds and soft brown sugar. Wow
@whiskytube A waxy nose with lashings of dried fruits covered in a splash of vanilla essence and steeped in honey!
@jalcock1982 Lovely balanced, sherry, fruitcake, vanilla again, damp, rich, beautifully complex nose
@DramStats Anyone get Jamaican ginger cake on the nose? Loving this
@whiskyrepublic Wow, a robust dram....fresh sawdust drinking a luscious liquidised bread pudding a la Heston Blumenthal
@bumpythechemist Bitter liquorice up front, quite a cloying sweet sherry note to balance on the palate. lots of orange and dark chocolate

As per previous Tweet Tastings there was a great deal of tweeting going on and to see what happened search on the #CuttyTT2 hashtag on twitter for the full story!

Yet another great experience and another highlight of my whisky journey, registering just the one new ‘Discovery’ for me this time, but all four were new for Kat. 

A massive THANK YOU to Steve Rush at @TheWhiskyWire and Kirsteen Campbell, Master Blender at @cuttysarkblend as well as the rest of the team at Cutty Sark and of course the tweet tasters.

This events tweet tasters were:

@TheWhiskyWire @steveprentice @WhiskyDiscovery @FrazerJ @ifotou @dvdbloke @PMaitlando @MaltBox @PresleyKa @WhiskyRepublic @whiskytube @Saint_Jimmy @LRWhisky @WhiskyDemon @bumpythechemist @Dramstats @jalcock1982 @WhiskyIleach

For more information see: and

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Rum Discovery #3

El Dorado Rum 21 Year Old (43% abv)
Guyana Demerara Rum
Circa £75.00 70cl

El Dorado Rum
Our finale dram of our short vertical tasting and the 21 Year Old. This glorious, full-bodied rum of exquisite taste and character was launched in late 2002 and has quickly established itself as one of the finest on the market. 

“A monumental aged rum that is one of the world’s greatest rum drinking experiences”

That is how the Beverage Tasting Institute of Chicago summed up their appreciation of El Dorado 21 Year Old Special Reserve. 

Luxury sipping for true rum connoisseurs its warm subtlety is best savoured slowly on its own – and shared with a few very special friends, ideal for partnering with cigars. 

I'm not a cigar smoker, though thinking about getting a pipe!

Made from rums of between 21 and 25 years of age, matured in 45 gallon oak casks, within six degrees of the equator in Guyana. 

The superb colour and character of this exquisite rum is the creation of El Dorado's Master Blender. His special recipe blends specially selected rums, oak aged for at least 21 years, from the Enmore wooden Coffey still, the Versailles single wooden pot still and the Albion Savalle still.

El Dorado 21 was awarded a Gold at the International Rum Festival 2003 in Canada and a Silver at the 2003 International Wine and Spirit Competition in London. Most remarkably, this was the highest scoring rum ever to be tasted by the Beverage Tasting Institute in Chicago scoring 98/100 and was awarded a International Wine and Spirits Council Gold Medal this year.

So What Did We Think?

Kat Says: Out of the three, I found this is the spiciest on the nose. The butter cream is present with the addition of an oak character, same as the 15 Year Old, it's full bodied and rich. 

On the initial sip, the spices are very lively, however this does mellow out at the end to reveal bitter cocoa qualities found in dark chocolates. For me I would have liked the dark chocolate notes to last a bit longer as it was only there for a few seconds. 

I didn't find much difference in the finish of this one compared with the 15 Year Old, both are very similar. My favourite out of the three has to be the 12 Year Old as I liked the fresh lightness it has, this 21 Year Old would be a close second as I liked the oak characters in this rum that the others didn't have.

Dave Says: In complete contrast to Kat, this became my instant favourite from first nosing.  There are bags of vanilla initially before the dark sweet coffee and tobacco notes come through leading through to hot spices and teak wood notes and that orange zest is there too, like sitting in a tropical wood panelled drawing room, very colonial, teak wood furniture, spicy cloves and oranges, could almost hear the forest insects in the background.

On the palate it's just as dark and rich and so very smooth; toffee and sweet dark coffee and rich spices, with a espresso bitterness at the end. The finish is long and lingering sweet and at last I noticed the chocolate notes along with a nuttiness and more spices

A fabulous end to my Sunday afternoon tasting three great sipping rums. All three are rums for sitting back, gently sipping and savouring each and every mouth full while contemplating life in general - please don't hurry these rums. Now what sort of pipe should I be looking for?

Many thanks to El Dorado Rum for supplying the tasting sample

Rum Discovery #2

El Dorado Rum 15 Year Old (43% abv)
Guyana Demerara Rum
Circa £43.00 70cl

El Dorado Rum
So onto Rum Number Two of our vertical tasting; El Dorado's 15 Year Old expression. This was the one that we were introduced to by Brand Ambassador Stephanie Holt at the Midlands Whisky Festival

The El Dorado 15 Year Old Special Reserve was the first expression to be launched way back in 1991 and is now viewed as a fine, cognac-like rum possessing the most intriguing and complex character in its class. Perfect for long sipping, straight or on the rocks. A Classic

A combination of specially selected aged rums, some as old as  twenty five years, from the Enmore and Diamond Coffey stills, the Port Mourant double wooden pot still and the Versailles single wooden pot still. (promotional notes tells us that it is distilled using the only two remaining wooden pot stills in the world and a wooden column still) it is blended and aged in old bourbon oak casks and bottled at 43% abv

This 15 Year Old is truly a remarkable rum, having been awarded the 'Best Rum in the World' Trophy a record seven times at the International Wine and Spirits Show, they must be doing something right?

So What Did We Think?

Kat Says: Moving onto the 15 year old, I got a creamier quality like that of soft butter on the nose, the molasses is not there, instead the Demerara sugars notes comes through that makes the nose seem less rich than  the 12 year old. The smell is exactly like when the sugar and butter start to combine when I'm making butter cream icing for cupcakes. This doesn't have the same freshness as before as I can’t pick out the lemon zest, the lack of this makes it rich and full bodied. 

The taste of this one again is sweet with the same Demerara flavours and warming spices which is more like that of cloves this time, and it’s smoother than the 12 year old. 

The finish was similar to the 12 year old but didn't linger with the same fresh sugar cane taste and has black pepper from start to finish. I'm guessing the loss of freshness is because of its age, as the flavours are more like that of spun sugar – verging on burnt sugar than that of fresh sugar cane.

Dave Says: I found this 15 Year Old to be richer and darker than the 12 Year Old. Yes the  Demerara sugar is ever present on the nose, but there are rich sweet dark coffee notes, chunky orange peel from a dark marmalade a little pepper spice and rich vanillas, even my wife really liked the nose of this one.

The palate is sweet and syrupy, but not as sweet as I had originally thought it would be. The first time I had tasted this was immediately after tasting a 20 Year Old Single Grain Whisky from Port Dundas, and there was a similarity between the two. There's sweet spices and dark brown sugar, treacle and molasses like.

Again the finish lingers, but creamy and thicker this time with dark spices, smokey blackened peppercorns, and dark toffee.

Many thanks to El Dorado Rum for supplying the tasting sample.

Rum Discovery #1

El Dorado Rum 12 Year Old (40% abv)
Guyanna Demerara Rum
Circa £35.00 70cl

El Dorado Rum
Rum discoveries? Where is this journey taking us? I hear you cry. Well after a summer of Tequila why not?

We also were fortunate to meet El Dorado brand ambassador Stephanie Holt at the recent Midlands Whisky Festival where we were persuaded to try the El Dorado 15 Year Old, So technically speaking this isn't the first rum, but for all intensive purposes of this journey, blog and vertical tasting this is now our Rum Discovery #1.

I used to drink a fair drop of it out in the Far East with a bunch of Australians I worked with. We'd often have a 'Bundy Frenzy' drinking vast quantities of Bundaberg on ice and with coke. Hardly sophisticated, and so will not be counting any of my earlier encounters, most of which I would struggle to remember anyway.

So this 12 Year Old is said to be the epitome of Demerara Rum, the true spirit of Guyana, and has been awarded the gold medal at the Caribbean Rum Taste Test (held annually in London) no fewer than seven times in the first ten years in which the competition was held!

The El Dorado 12 year old is a blend of specially selected aged rums, aged in American oak, the youngest being no less than 12 years old, it is a combination of the Enmore and Diamond Coffey stills and the Port Mourant double wooden pot still, blended to perfection and aged in old bourbon oak casks. 

This rum is designed for sipping. The 'blurb' we've received tell us that the spirit was distilled using the double wooden pot still that was built in 1732 for the British Navy - which is pretty impressive in itself!

So What Did We Think?

Kat Says: Sipping rum is a first for me. Like most people I've had my share of rum & coke and if it’s straight, it will be in shots that I've knocked back with some friends in various drinking games. 

All of the different rums I've had before, I can count on one hand…..Bacardi, Old Navy, Sailor Jerry, Bundaberg, and the odd supermarket own brand rums. This is of course before I 'd gotten into whisky and learned to sip rather than guzzle it down to give me 'Dutch courage' so I can party like its 1969!

I found the aromas to be the full bodied characters of dark molasses but without the heaviness. The aroma is very light with a fresh feel with warming spices and a hint of lemon zest. 

Now for the taste, my initial thoughts were ‘Yep this tastes like rum’ then I thought that this description isn't going to be useful for anyone reading this blog so I turned the TV off as it was distracting. It was Sunday night and Homelands was about to start which needed my full attention as well so I opted to watch it on the +1 channel. 

Compared with whisky it is a lot sweeter. Not surprising as this is a Demerara rum and you can taste the Demerara sugar flavours easily. It’s a lovely smooth feel with the spices providing that warm tingling feel. 

For the finish the lemon zest that I picked up on the nose comes through just as the liquid is swallowed, then the tasted of fresh sugar cane juice comes through which lingers giving it a long mellow finish. If you have never had fresh sugar cane juice, it’s a bit like the taste of Demerara sugar but lighter and fresh with a hint of a floral character, and a hit of woody character which comes from the fibres in the stalks.

Dave Says: Heady Demerara sugar on the nose, with caramelised banana, sweet toffee and vanilla, orange zest and a little spicy oak too - it was mouth-watering just nosing it. On the palate it was rich and smooth with sweet honey and spices, whole cloves pushed into a fresh orange.

The finish goes on, sweet and dry with the light spices and orange zest dancing on the tongue, a great start to a Saturday evening's vertical tasting of three aged rums from El Dorado.

Many thanks to El Dorado Rum for supplying the tasting sample

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Whisky Discovery #265-6

It's not often I get the chance to spend time at the SMWS London HQ, but a business meeting early one Wednesday allowed me to pop to catch up with Joe McGirr, grab a spot of lunch and enjoy a couple of drams while doing so.
The glowing fireplace was a welcome sight
The London HQ is a fabulous venue within 'welly throwing' distance of Farringdon Station, which is on the mainline to home in Bedfordshire, so really quite easy for me to get to. It's just a question of time. I really would like to be more involved with the SMWS but work commitments preclude that at present. 

The fireplace was a welcome site, glowing on a chilly November afternoon and with free wi-fi it allowed me to keep in touch with the office and catch up with some work. The members lounge is situated over The Bleeding Heart Restaurant  and a handy arrangement allows one to order food from their menu and have it brought up to the lounge. 

However before lunch arrived I sneaked in an aperitif:

Whisky Discovery #265

SMWS 30.74 'Sweet, fruity and rich 11 Years Old (60.3% abv)
Single Cask Speyside Spey Malt Whisky
Circa £44.00 70cl

The label read: We found plentiful fruit on the nose (sherry-soaked raisins in fruit cake, strawberry jam, dried cherries, bananas, toffee apples) candy floss, crème brûlée, nut brittle, syrup-drenched pancakes, honey, sawdust, crushed pepper and Muscat wine. The delightful palate had plum jam on scones, almond cake, treacle, peaches, apricots, syrupy figs, Peshwari naan bread, sherbet, Armagnac and a faint whisper of struck match. The reduced nose seemed slightly woodier, with balsamico, macadamias, Fruit and Nut chocolate and Turkish Delight. The palate now offered buttered fruit loaf, raspberry tart and date slice; sweet, fruity and rich. This Rothes distillery is named after the town.

This 11 Year Old form The Glenrothes was distilled on 27th March 2001 and matured in a Refill Port Pipe, yielding  767 bottles at 60.3% abv

So What Did I Think?

The bottle notes were spot on, a real fruity dram with plum jam and fruit cake - I had very little to add to my notes agreeing with the tasting panel notes almost in their entirety

After lunch I thought it would be only fitting to have a digestif before heading back home so chose one from Islay, I needed some peat.

Whisky Discovery #266

SMWS 3.188 'The Camping Trip' 14 Years Old (58.8% abv)
Single Cask Islay Malt Whisky
Circa £61.10 70cl

The label read: Remember the last time you were camping? The smell of the dew touched grass in the morning a distant memory as the sweat, deep heat and old tent pierce your nostrils. An oily smoked fish caught earlier in the day mixes with the aroma of roasting marshmallows and ash. The barbecued green peppers, mushrooms and lemon dressing on the palate make way for heat and lavender. When the water is added, the campfire smoke intensifies, the petrol used to light the fire maybe wasn’t such a good idea as it catches the nose, but that won’t retract from the comforting beach aromas and the budget chocolate bar you’ve been sitting on all day.

This 14 Year Old Bowmore was distilled on 25th September 1997 and matured in a Refill Sherry butt, yielding  616 bottles at 58.8% abv

So What Did I Think?

Again the bottle notes were pretty darn close to what I was thinking. One thing that I wanted to add was that  I was really enjoying a Swan Vesta's matchbox note, as though I was sniffing the gritty strike pad after it had been used a few times - just glorious.

One of the reasons for popping into the SMWS members lounge was to pick up a bottle of Longmorn that I had tasted at the recent Whisky Exchange Whisky Show. I had my heart set on 7.78, but was given a bottle of 7.79 accidentally. I was going to change it to what I had originally came for but after a small nip of each I decided to keep the 7.79 and took that home with me.

I also took home a few cask samples to review, you'll be hearing about them very soon.

Whisky Discovery #264

Mackinlay's Shackleton Whisky 'The Journey' (47.3% abv)
Blended Malt Whisky
Circa £100.00 70cl
Shackleton's Whisky
Mackinlay's Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky 'Shackleton's Whisky'
Following the huge success of its original recreation, the Glasgow based distiller Whyte & Mackay recently launched a new version of its world famous Mackinlay’s malt at Whisky Fest in New York, called . Affectionately known as 'Shackleton’s whisky', the spirit is a replica of the century old whisky found under Ernest Shackleton’s hut on the Antarctic.

'The Journey' is another meticulous re-creation of the original malt whisky shipped to Antarctica in 1907 by the explorer Ernest Shackleton to fortify his 'Nimrod' expedition. Several wooden crates of this precious whisky were abandoned to the Antarctic winter in early 1909, then rediscovered over a century later.

From the abandoned crates, ten bottles were recovered intact, and the whisky they contained, now well over 100 years old, was described as 'a gift from heaven' by Richard Paterson, the master blender at Whyte & Mackay and owners of the Mackinlay brand. In 2011, three of the bottles were flown back to home to Scotland for detailed scientific analysis.

Mackinlay's Rare Old Highland Malt was originally distilled at Glen Mhor distillery in Inverness and analysis revealed the taste profile of the whisky. The strength of the whisky was established at 47.3% abv as well as Orkney peat was used in the malting, and that the spirit had been matured in American white oak sherry casks.

The original bottles were labelled the 'Endurance expedition', but the expedition actually sailed south onboard the Nimrod. Having set up a base camp at Cape Royds, Shackleton and his men ultimately failed to reach the South Pole, but they did return safely, and sailed for home in March 1909, leaving three crates of the malt buried in the ice.

This second  edition of the replica Mackinlay's was prompted by a request from the Antarctic Heritage Trust (AHT), the charity which found the whisky, to find ways to raise much needed funds for the conservation of the expedition bases on the Antarctic.

Shackleton's Whisky
Straw packaging for protection, pre-bubble wrap 1907 style
The first run of the replica Mackinlay’s sold out within a year and that success raised close to £250,000 for the AHT. The release of the new recreation is expected to raise a further £500,000. These funds will be used for conservation and research, and a web based education programme about the great explorer.

At the same time as the AHT request, Alexandra Shackleton approached Whyte & Mackay and asked if they would support a recreation expedition of her grandfather’s life-saving journey by renowned polar explorer Tim Jarvis. Described as the “greatest survival journey of all time”, Jarvis and his team will tackle the 800 nautical mile journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia and traverse its mountainous interior - the same courageous journey that Shackleton undertook to save his crew of 28 men back in 1916.

This adventure will take place in January and February 2013 and will see Jarvis and his crew undertake this treacherous journey using an exact replica of the 22.5 foot life boat used by Shackleton.

Richard Paterson, Whyte & Mackay’s renowned master blender was the man responsible for faithfully recreating the Mackinlay's malt. “Nosing, tasting and recreating this amazing piece of history was the highlight of my 40 year career,” he enthused.

Shackleton's Whisky

Mackinlay's 'The Journey' contains different malts from the original recreation but tastes exactly like the original replica and the 100 year old whisky. But the packaging has changed dramatically to signify that it is a different product, and instead of a wooden crate the bottle comes wrapped in “straw” like the original bottles found under Shackleton's hut. This is contained in a box designed to look similar to the packaging used by museums to ship precious artifacts.

The plan is to create and sell 100,000 bottles in key markets across the globe including Australia and New Zealand, Canada, Scandinavian countries, the US where the global launch is taking place and the travel retail sector.

Shackleton's Whisky
The new releases packaging
Official Tasting Notes:
Colour: Light honey, straw gold with shimmering highlights.
Nose: Soft, elegant and refined. Delicate crushed apple, pear and fresh pineapple. Notes of oak shavings and smoke. Hints of vanilla, creamy caramel and nutmeg.
Taste: Plenty of impact on the palate; a tantalising array of flavours, harmonious and exhilarating.

The Presentation
Box: A unique, stand-out hexagonal "shipping case" with an open "see me" window on the front panel. The raffia-encasing of the product is reminiscent of the original straw-bound bottles discovered in the Antarctic. A holographic badge issues authenticity.
Bottle: A painstaking process was followed to ensure all bubbles and imperfections in the original were replicated. In effect, the glass manufacturer turned off all the modern-day quality controls.
Labels: All lettering was meticulously drawn by hand to ensure a perfect match to the original. Paper stocks were selected to perform as the original stocks of over a century ago.

So what did I think?

I wrote in my notebook 'Grassy at first' as it started with a slightly grassy note, which starts to open upon up with fresh, flora and malty notes. The sweetness hits with citrus zest, vanilla and toffee notes, Great balance to this sweetness. The spice comes through as ginger and there is a definite fresh oak shavings hint too and a light smoke coming from the charred cask.

There was so much going on in the nose of this malt that my palate notes were a lot simpler; 'sweet and creamy' was what I initially wrote down, but the citrus notes come through as a lemon meringue pie, It's really quite gentle on the palate, even at 47.3% abv. The vanilla and toffee notes start to come through and there is a warming spicy finish to the end. I loved it, but then I knew that I would - being blended by Master blender Richard Paterson aka 'The Nose' I didn't think I would be anything else but impressed with it. Reviewing the flavour profile above I noted that Richard has probably made this blend slightly leaning towards today's taste of being a little sweeter than the original, and hence less sour, and there is very little noticeable peat in this expression until the glass is empty, and then the faint traces can be found in the glass.

As far as I can tell this hasn't been released to the market yet and clicking through the official website I can only register my interest, which of course I have. The original release is still available in some outlets at around £100 a bottle, and if anyone would like to buy me one for Christmas or even my first whisky birthday I would be very happy! I would loved to own a bottle of each of these expressions, a little piece of whisky history.

Many thanks to Whyte and Mackay for the tasting sample and to read more about this whisky please visit:

Friday, 23 November 2012

Berry Bros & Rudd Tweet Tasting

The Whisky Wire's second Tweet Tasting for November, and we were treated to four single cask whiskies from Berry Bros & Rudd.

Berry Bros & Rudd are Britain's oldest wine and spirit merchant, established in the 17th century. Their flagship store has been located at 3 St. James's Street, London since 1698 when it was founded by the Widow Bourne. A supplier to the royal family since the reign of King George III, historic customers have included Lord Byron, William Pitt the Younger and the Aga Khan, and very soon ME.

Berry Bros & Rudd created the Cutty Sark whisky, and pioneered the vintage concept for The Glenrothes single malt Scotch whisky. 

Today members of the Berry and Rudd families continue to own and manage the family-run wine merchant. Berrys' Own Selection Scotch Whisky comprises an extensive range of own-label bottlings of fine and rare vintage Single Malt whiskies including several bottlings at cask strength. 

Berry Bros. & Rudd has supplied fine spirits through our `Berrys' Own Selection' for well over a century, making Berry's one of the earliest Independent bottlers. By 1909, they were offering 1897 Macallan and 1885 Talisker by the gallon or dozen; to name a few.
Four generous samples and a new note book for tastings!
I've tasted a few whiskies from Berry Bros & Rudd before, coming across their stand at the Whisky Lounge Midlands Fest when Rocky introduced me to three great drams that Saturday afternoon.

Unusually the #BerryWhisky Tweet Tasting took place on a Thursday evening, the first time this year anyway, but proceedings as usual started promptly at 1900 and I just made it back from work in the atrocious weather conditions we were experiencing, to get myself sat down in front of the computer with my glasses, samples and note book:
Whisky Discovery #260

Littlemill 1992, 20 Year Old (54.6% abv, Bottled 2012)
Lowland Single Cask Malt Whisky
circa £80.00 70cl

The Littlemill distillery was founded at Bowling to the west of Glasgow on the banks of the river Clyde in the 1770’s and laid claim to being Scotland’s oldest distillery. It ceased producing whisky in 1992 and was dismantled in 1997, the remaining buildings were destroyed by a fire in 2004.

Triple distillation was practised at Littlemill until around 1930, so it's likely that this was not distilled in the true 'Lowland' style, and this would have been distilled in it's final year. I've only tried one Littlemill previously, and that was at the recently Whisky Exchange whisky show.

So What Did I Think?

I found this to be initially dry and  grassy on the nose, but this quickly developed into a damper cut grass note. It slowly evolves with fruit appearing; ripe bananas, soft peaches and a milky chocolate nose. A little longer in the glass and more fruit appears, or perhaps I simply missed it initially, with melons but there's still those damps cuttings underlying and a little spiciness in the background. Returning to the glass later it has become much more floral on the nose and the damp cuttings note has evaporated.

On the palate there is an initial sweetness of soft fruits, peaches and melons again, before the spice builds up then fades to a tea tannin dryness with some honey and lemon.

This is the second Littlemill of my journey and just as impressive. There's not a great deal of Lowland single malt around these days and as well said on the label; 'When excellent examples such as this appear they make Littlemill's sad demise even sadder'

Some of my favourite tweets for this expression

@AnneEJones Floral, apple sponge, runny honey and er... Rice Krispies

@abbeywhisky Definite melon, peach, and possible some ripe banana
@TheWhiskyWire Milkybar buttons floating in a cup of green tea with lemon
@cowfish Nose: Wet flannels, gravel and ferns up front, toffee sweetness, cornflakes, white choc & ginger hiding underneath.
@TIA568B On the nose, quite light, fresh, grassy, spicy, herbal, golden delicious apples and white grapes
@LRWhisky Loving the floral fruit combo wrapped in white chocolate. New version of fruit and nut maybe?
@themisswhisky On the palate: Peach cobbler, pineapple upside down cake, bubblegum and bitter lemon
@greatwhisky German pfeffernusse, more raspberry, more damp ferns (plants, not Cotton or Briton)

Whisky Discovery #261

North of Scotland 1973, 38 Year Old (46% abv Bottled 2012)
Single Cask Grain Whisky
circa £125.00 70cl

The "North of Scotland" distillery was opened in 1958 at Tullibody, Clackmannanshire, the distillery being established from converted brewery buildings, with the interesting twist that it initially produced both Malt Whisky and Grain Whisky from the same column stills. However, this proved to be rather unsuccessful and so after only a few years production was switched to just Grain Whisky.

The distillery was closed in 1980 and finally totally dismantled in 1993.

While Malt Whisky can only be made from barley, Grain Whisky is made from a mixture of grains, typically wheat and maize (corn) and it may also contain barley. Grain whisky is distilled in a continuous column still, also known as Coffey still. Coffey still distillation is generally accepted to yield lighter and less complex flavour than pot still distillation (distinctive to malt whisky).

In Scotland, pure Grain Whisky is seldom bottled, it is typically used in the production of blended whiskies that combine grain and malt whiskies. Occasionally well-aged grain whiskies are released as "single grain whisky".

Scotland is the home to 6 grain distilleries: Cameronbridge, Girvan, Invergordon, North British, Port Dundas and Strathclyde. Together they annually produce six times the amount of malt whisky. Only three of the aforementioned distilleries bottled their own single grain whiskies: Cameron Bridge, Black Barrel (from Girvan) and Invergordon.

So What Did I Think?

I have great memories from 1973 - I was a young schoolboy growing up in Mauritius with golden beaches, sugar cane fields, wild guavas that we used to collect and make jam, and so many other tropical fruits. I was always in the water when ever possible, whether swimming, snorkeling or sailing, it was a wonderful childhood. Amazing to think that this whisky had been laid down to mature at that time!

I initially found this to be rich and spicy and it reminded me of leather armchairs, polished wood, old library books and a 'Bourbonesque' nose. There were coffee notes too, dark sweet coffee (although not black) and similar to the Thai 'Kopiko' sweets. There were fruity notes underneath trying to burst through the richer notes. However after a while in the glass it became much sweeter and lighter with a great deal of spicy vanilla and an almost dark spiced rum note. I am really starting to become rather fond of an aged single grain. Tropical fruits eventually break through too. This is all about the wood and a quality cask was chosen to mature this single grain imparting a complexity of flavours in the nose.

There are bags of vanilla on the palate, though not too sweet and a nice spicy pepper kick. The coffee notes return on the palate and there is a liquorice note towards the end.

There is a lovely glowing warm finish, with a little sweetness and some spicy pepper on the tongue complimenting the vanilla cream.

Some of my favourite tweets for this expression

‏@abbeywhisky First thing I got was boot polish! not in a bad or kinky way!
OliverKlimek Nose: Your trademark old grain nose: Apricot, crème brulee, vanilla
@themisswhisky My first nose note would be simply, "Christmas morning" - I can't say why though...
@EdinburghWhisky Maple syrup poured over a tropical fruit (again) salad. Toffee sweetness too!
@cowfish Dear everyone. Tell no one that old grain is good, the prices are going up too much as it is... Love, Billy
@WorldWhiskyDay Definite crispy bacon and maple syrup with pancakes thing going on!
@whisky4everyone Nose is packed with vanilla, butterscotch, wood spice, bitter orange and waxy furniture polish
@TheWhiskyBoys Taste: sweet soft fruits, fruit trifle, complex & quite delicate, a little mild spicyness
@TheWhiskyWire Definitely getting a coffee note coming through
@TIA568B Lots of cola cubes, maple syrup over tropical fruit, icing sugar on kiwis, a little rummy and some vanilla chewits.
@Rockyajl Good level of wood, not too much for 38yrs. Lovely creamy texture. Bit more fiery than I was expecting though.

Whisky Discovery #262

Isle of Jura 1976, 35 Year Old (53.5% abv Bottled 2012)
Island Single Malt Whisky
circa £199.00 70cl

The inner Hebridean island of Jura lies to the north-east of Islay and takes its name from the Norse gaelic meaning deer island. Today there is a population of some 200 people and 2000 deer. Jura is the sole distillery on the island. I've tasted most of the core range from this distillery, but I think this is my first independent bottling, and certainly my first single cask.

So What Did I Think?

This was distilled in the long hot summer of 1976, who can forget that (if you're old enough to remember anyway) I remember being on Southsea beach in August and there was a plague of Ladybirds - thousands of them floating in the sea at the waters edge. Anyway I digressed a little there. So the mash for this distillation probably used the last available water as we were all on hosepipe bans and bathing with friends in 1976. We learnt that this whisky had been matured in a Sherry hogshead, It was certainly the darkest of the four drams. 

It also had a very complex nose which went on evolving over time. Initially it was quite delicate with a Parma ham note, but slowly as it was teased out it became richer and darker, almost decadent; Dark toffee, damp charcoal, beach hut salty mustiness, furniture polish notes, a little sweet smoke. Rich sherried fruit; raisins and walnuts, a little menthol starts to sneak out too

This was much softer on the palate than I was expecting, with the dark soft toffee again, it's a little malty and fruit comes through by way of dark cherries. There's an intense chili pepper kick that hits the middle of the tongue, only for an instant before sweetening again with liquorice toffee and a tobacco note towards the end. As it starts to fade there is an Earl Grey tea dryness evolving with a light sooty smokiness.

Some of my favourite tweets for this expression

@greatwhisky Wow... this is big... very complex! Anyone else getting some peat smoke?
‏@BBRrob First tiniest hint on the nosing, parma ham (other regional hams are available!)
‏@LRWhisky Heavy nose, rich Victorian smoking rooms, oak panels and a real life game of Cluedo. Decadent
‏@weheartwhisky Someone appears to have replaced my Jura with Ribena. With a garnish of smoked ham. Works for me.
‏@Rockyajl Slight whiff of cheesy feet mixed on with some toffee and nuts. Gorgeous golden colour.
‏@abbeywhisky Another great nose, slight earthy notes along with some leather and spice
‏@TIA568B A nicer nose than I've had from any other Juras, lots of oak, slightly earthy, more wood, maybe a little vegetable matter
‏‏@themisswhisky Big, bold, chewy sweetness (leather dipped in brown sugar) to start, but underlying kalamata olive and chorizo note
‏@OliverKlimek Smoked mackerel garnished with dried figs and sprinkled with hick soy sauce... most unusual but intriguing
‏@ChrisWhiskyman Mature, leafy Oloroso with a light medicinal note and a touch of smoke. Very clean, no sulphur
‏@EdinburghWhisky Brine, old wooden boxes that live in the shed for no reason and aniseed

Whisky Discovery #263

Bunnahabhain 1989, 21 Year Old (46% abv Bottled 2012)
Islay Single Cask Malt Whisky
circa £89.00 70cl

Bunnahabhain translates as “mouth of the river” from the gaelic, the river in question being the Margadale which flows into the Sound of Islay near to the distillery. Although generally a more lightly peated Islay this expression is an exception as it was produced from a batch of stock using barley at a higher level of peat-smoke exposure.

Last weekend I had my first experience of distillery releases tasting both the 12 and 18 Year Old expressions at the Wine & Spirits Show in London. However I have a Signatory Vintage 1997 cask strength heavily peated expression on my shelf, and had another peated expression 'The Sound of Islay' from Cambridge Wines earlier this year

So What Did I Think?

Someone couldn't do the math for the label of this expression. Distilled in 1989 and bottled in 2012, it would be difficult to be a 21 Year Old - it got lost somewhere for a year or two! It must be either a 22 or 23 Year Old depending upon the months, but I don't think it really matters!

I got a light fruity pear drops on the nose initially but it quickly settled down to almonds and icing with the lightest of peat smoke. The nose gets quite spicy after a while in the glass too.

It had a lovely spicy palate with salted nuts, citrus zest and sweet scented smoke. With more time in the glass the palate reveals some herbal grassy notes too, and the sweet scented smoke gets a little sooty. I think this was my favourite of the four tasted this evening, although the Littlemill is a very close second.

Some of my favourite tweets for this expression

@abbeywhisky Liquorice, sweet flavours, almonds, Christmas cake & brandy on the nose
‏@TheWhiskyBoys Nose: gentle smoke, almonds, vanilla
‏@themisswhisky All about the caramel apples for me here. There are these Halloween candies from Canada
‏@TheWhiskyLounge Breath of fresh air after the Jura. Over-ripe banana, slight marzipan, cold salted butter packet, orange pith
‏@LRWhisky Loving the Christmas marzipan on the nose
‏@SohoWhiskyClub Wow! lots of peach, watermelon, rich exotic fruits, grapes, bit of green apple, with some burnt ash type stuff.
‏@cowfish It's all about the starmix - the butteriness is from the fried eggs
‏@EdinburghWhisky Lovely. The almonds and vanilla work so well. The smoke hides a dry lemon zest underneath. Pistachio too!
‏@whisky4everyone The nose of the Bunna 89 is delicate with honey, vanilla, malty cereals, icing sugar, green apple plus hints of brine & banana
‏@greatwhisky Nose is kinda like green fruit gums, very slight peaty goodness, honey on ryvita!
‏@themisswhisky Oh...a beautiful bundle of honey, hickory wood chips, green apples, sea salt and pistachios...lovely!

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

Yet another great experience and another highlight of my whisky journey, registering a fabulous four new ‘discoveries’ A massive THANK YOU to Steve Rush at @TheWhiskyWire  Amanda and her team at The Great Whisky Co. @GreatWhisky who organised it all and of course Rob & Adrian from @BerryBrosRudd

This events tweet tasters were:

@TheWhiskyWire @BerryBrosRudd @BBRRob @Rockyajl @TWLEddie @TWLAmanda @TWLJoe @GreatWhisky @ChrisWhiskyman @S_Rob @cowfish @WhiskyTasting @themisswhisky @WorldWhiskyDay @WhiskyDiscovery @TIA568B @LRWhisky @weheartwhisky @TheWhiskyBoys @abbeywhisky @sohowhiskyclub 
@whisky4everyone @AnneEJones @EdinburghWhisky @OliverKlimek @whiskywardrobe @galg

If you want to be included in the next Tweet Tasting make sure you are following @TheWhiskyWire on Twitter to find out what is happening.

For more information see: Don't forget to also check out and for information about Berry Bros & Rudd visit: