Monday, 29 April 2013

Glory of the Grain Tweet Tasting

April's Tweet Tasting from The Whisky Wire gave us four Grain Whiskies from Arkwrights (@whiskyandwines). The four grain samples were all sent blind and so we only knew what we had been drinking once we had posted our tasting notes.

Arkwrights is a specialist independent whisky retailer based in the Wiltshire town of Highworth and owned and run by Ken and Fran Thomas. They have an extensive range of over 900 whiskies, available to buy via the website or from the shop itself to try. 

So what is Grain Whisky?
Grain whisky is made from any un-malted cereal grains. In the past these were typically wheat and sometimes oats and rye. Today maize (corn) is widely used. A small amount of malted barley is added to provide the enzymes which convert the starch in the grains into sugar.

Grain whisky has been made in Scotland since at least the 15th century, originally made to use up cereals which were not required as food and to create nutritious winter feed for cattle from the husks and spent grains. It was originally made in pot stills, just as malt whisky is made today. 

In the late 1820s a new style of still was invented by Robert Stein and later perfected by Aeneas Coffey, a former Inspector of Excise in Dublin. This new Coffey Still was capable of producing  a high strength pure spirit, and since the still could be operated continuously, rather than batch by batch (as in pot still distillation), it was cheaper.

Although such Coffey or Patent stills were expensive to install, grain distillers soon adopted them. Whisky made in a Coffey still has less pronounced flavour than that made in a pot still and this made it very desirable for blending, since it lightened and sweetened the heavy malts of the mid 1800s.

Today there are just six grain whisky distilleries in Scotland: Cameronbridge, Girvan, Invergordon, North British, Strathclyde and Starlaw. Together these six produce around six times the amount of malt whisky every year. 

Only three of these grain distilleries bottle single grain whiskies; Cameron Bridge, Black Barrel (from Girvan) and Invergordon. You can also find bottlings from the now closed Port Dundas distillery (2009) and the Loch Lomond Distillery, a malt whisky distillery, also has a small patent still.

Without a clue what we were going to be tasting we kicked off proceedings at 7pm under the #GrainWhisky hashtag.
All set for the blind 'Glory of the Grain' Tweet Tasting
Whisky Discovery #334

Cameron Brig NAS (40% abv)
Pure Single Grain Whisky
£24.99 from Arkwrights

Our first Grain of the evening was Cameron Brig Pure Single Grain. The Cameron Bridge Distillery was acquired it in 1824 by John Haig who's cousin, Robert Stein, created the first ever distillery to produce grain whisky using a patent still. The malt whisky production using pot stills ceased in 1929 to concentrate on grain whisky production. Now owned by Diageo who after a £9 million investment, the Distillery re-opened in 2000 giving the distillery the capacity to produce 30M litres of spirits annually

Cameron Brig Single Grain Whisky is listed in Ian Buxton's 101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die. 

This single grain isn't great on presentation and comes unboxed, but is a superb representation of a single grain whisky. For those that know it, it has a big following.

So What Did We Think?

Kat: Nose:  Delicate floral scent, pencil shavings, unsalted popcorn, Battenberg cake, and some chalk. Overall very delicate.

Taste:  Gomme Sugar syrup but without the tick syrup quality, instead with same silkiness. Some Citrus and some cereal qualities, bit like corn flakes but not over so. Again same as the nose, not of the flavours are very punchy here, to use same description I’ve used previous, delicate.

Finish: Very subtle bitterness, with some citrus oil, and the pencil shavings picked up on the nose comes through here as the last note in the finish.

Dave: I first tasted this at the Birmingham Whisky Festival earlier this year, it had been on my list since finding it in Ian Buxton's 101 Whiskies To Try Before You Die. I didn't take any notes last time, so pleased to have the opportunity to sit down a saviour it this time

The nose seemed quite shy initially, and I tweeted that it reminded me of a cereal packet being opened, like opening a new packet of cornflakes. There were faint notes of vanilla, bourbon, and I was getting a light aniseed note. After a little while on second nosing it was dusty grains and firm peaches with some light spicy notes underlying. Overall the nose is quite fragrant, but needs a little time to breathe, that said, all the notes are very gentle.

Again it's soft and gentle on the palate with thin honey, candied citrus, gentle bourbon notes, a little wood and I was getting a light fennel note too. The finish seemed to have a good length to it with some gentle spices. It came across as quite dry leaving my mouth feeling like I'd chewed a hazelnut.

Verdict: A pleasant enough dram, but not going to set the world on fire. At just £25 a bottle it's an inexpensive introduction to single grain whisky.

So what did the others think?
@LRWhisky: Massive wood and beeswax. Very creamy - could almost be from a dairy
@TWLJoe: Reminds me of a small old toffee tin that's been emptied of toffee and since been used for rolling backy
@steveprentice: On the palate it's soft and sweet, with the grain nature taking a while to come through when held on the tongue.
@whiskyrepublic: Palate - Rum fudge slowly melting into vanilla ice-cream
@TheWhiskyBoys: Taste, a little warmth, Thornton special toffee, does not need H2O light liquorice  sweet mild ginger, this is really nice

Whisky Discovery #406

Greenore 8 Year Old (40% abv)
Irish Single Grain Grain Whiskey
£36.99 from Arkwrights

Our second Single Grain of the evening came from Ireland and a Greenore 8 Year Old from The Cooley Distillery. This attractively bottled limited edition (5000 bottles) eight year old single grain whiskey was placed in bourbon casks in 1997 and bottled 2006 at 40%.

Greenore is a completely unique Irish whiskey, as the only expression of an Irish Single Grain whiskey in the world. 

The Cooley Distillery is the only independent distillery in Ireland and is nestled in the foothills of the Cooley Mountains in Co. Louth. Both patent and pot stills are used at Cooley, and they produce both malt and grain whiskey, reinvigorating old famous brands such as Kilbeggan and Tyrconnell while also creating new brands, like Connemara Peated Single Malt and this Greenore Single Grain Irish whiskey.

So What Did We Think?

Kat: Nose:  Instant hit on the initial nosing of brand new plimsolls (had big rubber hit for me). Then I hope I don’t lose a lot of people with the rest of the tasting notes. Think damp shed. For me it’s a damp shed with the smell of dust and dirt, and the smell of oil rusty tins of oil paints. The nose is not off putting but I have to admit not my favourite.

Taste:  Woody, bit oily similar to mild olive oil, warming spiciness from white pepper, musk, and for anyone who knows what Chinese saw tooth coriander is, it’s got a hint of that throw in. 

Finish:  Mildly sweet, short with hints of cereals like cornflakes. 

Dave: Would you believe it? This is another of the whiskies listed in Ian Buxton's 101 Whiskies, though this one is listed in the second 101 World Whiskies book, but still another tick in the box for me!

The nose on this came across as sweeter than the first one with notes of aged rum. With a little while a clean rubber note comes across, I said clean rubber in my tweet, I meant white rubber as opposed to black tyre or inner tube.Kat's new plimsolls is a good descriptor now I'm sitting at a second session . With a little time some faint bourbon notes start to evolve, with lots of vanilla and a little musty wood underlying. These later notes start to mask the rubber note I was picking up earlier.

The aged rum notes come across to the palate too, almost Demerara like. This is sweet and creamy with a light dusting of pepper. The bourbon notes come through too and I really enjoyed the taste of this one. The finish is quite short, again quite dry, gently fading with sweetness, ginger and a hint of lemongrass.

Verdict: I really liked this Irish Single Grain Whiskey and can see why Ian deemed this suitable to be included in his 101 series.

So what did the others think?
@LRWhisky: Sour cherry, vanilla and sweet on the nose
@whiskyrepublic: More pungent than the Brig, recently varnished orange, marzipan, sweet, slightly musty, hints of vanilla
@BeckyPaskin: Lovely tropical notes, ripe bananas, whiff of must
@TWLJoe: Light and sweet on the palate some nice citrussy notes and some bourbonesque qualities, although not nearly as intense
@dramologist: Now tasting with water & it is much richer: mangos, banana and honey. And a new sheet of cardboard from the stationery
@TheWhiskyBoys: This might even pass as a mid range Bourbon

Whisky Discovery #407

Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky NAS (45% abv)
Japanese Single Grain Whisky
£39.99 from Arkwrights

Dram No.3 of the evening was this Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky from Japan.

The Coffey still is named after its inventor Aeneas Coffey. In 1830, the French-born Irishman perfects this technique, which would become widely adopted by the Scots for the production of blends, allowing them to surpass Ireland as a whisky producing nation.

The distillation process is continuous, whereas the pot stills which are used in single malt production require two separate distillations. Nikka runs two Coffey stills within the Miyagikyo distillery for the elaboration of its grain whiskies. Imported from Scotland in 1963, these old stills yield a very round distillate, with a distinct character that defines Nikka’s signature blends

So What Did We Think?

Kat: Nose: Very complex and a lot more punchy aromas compared with the previous two. Frangipani, linseed oil, dried berries – cranberry in particular, cream cheese frosting, tinned peaches in syrup, and finally rum and raisin ice cream.I particularly like the nose of this one the best out of these four.

Taste:  Black Darjeeling tea (has that tannin bitter taste), dry hay, roasted coffee bean, sherry trifle, and hint dry wood similar to pencil shavings.

Finish: Left with dry mouth feel with a woody taste.

Dave: Again this has that quality aged rum note on the nose which comes across with sweet spicy stewed fruits, vanilla essence, richer bourbon notes, with treacle, Demerara sugar, raisins and dates

This is really easy drinking and slips down effortlessly. It's sweet and creamy with light bourbon notes and really did give you that vanilla cream over rum and raisin ice-cream experience! The finish came across as quite short, dry and a light salty note too.

Verdict: I really enjoyed this single grain from Japan, so very easy to drink.

So what did the others think?
@dramologist: Much woodier now. maple syrup, ginger, peach, orange, vanilla. Brown sugar after a while
@whiskywardrobe: Spices, and candies and disolvent and corn, and honey and more of all of them again. Lovely
@rodbodtoo: Smells older, more of the rum thing going on (for me rum aromas = old OLD whiskies)
@BeckyPaskin: Gorgeous spicy notes, stewed apples for me
@TheWhiskyBoys: Sherry filled plump raisins, cooked soft fruits topped with vanilla ice cream
@galg: This palate is HUGE.. sweet and thick with Demerara sugar, dates, rum, chocolate, fudge, rich cake with sultanas with rum

Whisky Discovery #408

Clan Denny Invergordon 1966 45 Year Old (47.1% abv)
SIngle Grain Whisky
£134.00 from Arkwrights

Our finale dram was bound to be something really special and we were treated to this Invergordon 1966. A 45 year old expression of a single grain whisky from the Clan Denny range of whiskies. 

It was matured in Bourbon Barrel number HH7254 and bottled at 47.1% abv.

Established in 1961 by Invergordon Distillers Ltd. The Distillery is on the shore of the Cromarty Firth north of Inverness, it was commissioned in 1959 to create employment in the area, following the departure of the Royal Navy.

The distillery is now owned by Whyte & Mackay group since 1993 and part of Kyndal Spirits Ltd.

So What Did We Think?

Kat: Nose:  Initially nosing got sour milk but luckily this opens up to much nicer aromas with air, and a drop of water. Sweet taste of honey dew melon starts to come out, there’s some meaty quality to it like good quality mature raw steak, and balsamic vinegar. I have to thank my fellow participants for the last note as I couldn’t quite put my fingers on.

Taste:  Rich dried fruits, really good fruit cake, caramel, prune juice, taste of the smell of damp mulch (bit earthy), and some smoky characters which reminded me of chipotle chillies.

Finish:  Peppery, gently smoky so not over powering, and leaves a dry mouth feel.

Dave: The nose opens with a dusty quality and a 'struck match' note. There are hints of  a much higher alcohol content than stated with the acetone notes. With a little air, remember this has 'sleeping' for forty five years, it settles down to give rich vanilla bourbon, well seasoned wood, some musty notes, and a charred wood smoky note.

The palate opens with a slightly sour note but this settles down and slowly sweetens, not a sickly sweetness, more of a saccharin type. A spicy kick starts to evolve, menthol like and there is a slight rubber note. A drop of water changes this and rich bourbon qualities come to the fore. This had the longest finish of the four and yet again a very dry finish, but this has an intense chilli heat on the swallow, although this doesn't last too long.

So what did the others think?
@TheWhiskyBoys: Quite gentle on the nose, toasted coconut, rich and fruity, newly dug garden border, candy floss sweetness
@dramologist: There is a dusting of icing sugar on this. The full-bodied palate is woody and earthy, with just a little vegetal note
@rodbodtoo: That deceptively smoky note which comes from a long time in barrel 
@JayDieNL: Wauw! Lot going on on the taste! Dry, wood, bourbon, sherry, chocolate, raisins
@TheWhiskyWire: Subtle puffetts of smoke & I mean subtle, with a finishing flairette of menthol

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

Yet another great experience and another highlight of our whisky journey, with three new discoveries for me, and it was the first time Kat had tasted any of these. Tweet Tastings really are a great way to taste whisky.

A massive THANK YOU to Steve Rush at @TheWhiskyWire, and to Ken and Fran from Arkwrights @WhiskyandWines for the generous samples, for making sure we all got our drams and of course the tweet tasters.

This events tweet tasters were:
@TheWhiskyWire @WhiskyDiscovery @LRWhisky @WorldWhiskyDay @rodbodtoo @ifotou @steveprentice @dramologist @mattveira @PresleyKa @TheWhiskyBoys @kizzsmyth @whiskyrepublic @BeckyPaskin @PMaitlando @rickfurzer @TWLJoe @whiskywardrobe @galg @JayDieNL

For more information see: and and if you want to experience what we tasted, Ken and Fran have put this same set of grain whiskies together for you, and only available from Arkwrights Whisky and Wines

Friday, 26 April 2013

Whisky Discovery #404

Tomatin Legacy NAS (43% abv)
Highland Single Malt Whisky
circa £26.00 70cl
Whisky Discovery
I was fortunate to be sent a healthy review sample of this new release from Tomatin recently. This is the first full review of  a distillery bottling although I have tasted the core range with Alistair Mutch at The Wine & Spirits Show in London. I caught up again with Alistair at the recent Midlands Whisky Festival, but resisted the temptation to taste his wares again at the time, knowing that I had this in the shelf. I've since added some Tomatin 15 to my shelf and will be reviewing that later.

When Tomatin Distillery was established in 1897, the isolated and idyllic setting of Tomatin was almost perfect. However there wasn't a local workforce, the local inhabitants being scattered shepherds and cattle drovers. The company began a project of construction to accommodate its workforce. Since that time the distillery has been at the heart of the community and the community at the heart of the distillery.

This legacy has continued. Tomatin remains one of the few distilleries to provide a home for its dedicated craftsmen, and is now recognised with a permanent addition to the Tomatin Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky range, “The Tomatin Legacy”.

Matured in a combination of Bourbon barrels and Virgin Oak casks and bottled at 43% abv, Legacy was released as a permanent addition to the core range in March 2013

So What Did We Think?

Kat: Nose:  Very rich aromas. Heavily of over ripe, starting to rot bananas and plums, damp rotting wood and general sweet musky aromas of a well a rotted hot compost heap. This is all in a great way. There’s some more earthy aromas from Portobello mushrooms, and with sometime in the glass some vanilla and green oak aromas come through. 

Taste:  Bourbon-esk flavours but sweet with more caramel flavours, hint of fresh squeezed lemon juice, and lastly very subtle oak notes. 

Finish:  Crème brulee with a subtle fresh chilli warming tingling mouth feel. 

Dave: My first impression from nosing this was that it appeared to be young and fresh, it has that 'new make' note to it. The nose is sweet with vanilla and Victoria sponge cake, there's some zesty lemon citrus notes and some fresh green wood.

The palate too is quite sweet with creamy vanilla, sherbert lemon, crisp green apple and I'm still getting  a little of the sponge cake flavour too.

The finish comes across with legs too it, a good length with a little pepper and sherbet The empty glass smells of cake mix, honest!

OK, so it's not an overly complicated dram, but what did you expect for around £26 a bottle? It's light, refreshing and very drinkable

And finally:

Many thanks to Tomatin for sending us a generous sample of this new release to review.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Whisky Discovery #403

The Arran Malt 16 Year Old (46% abv)
Island Single Malt
Circa £60.00 70cl

Arran Distillers has recently launched its oldest expression so far, The Arran Malt 16 Year Old. This bottling marks the countdown to the launch of The Arran Malt 18 Years Old. This time next year should see the release of the 17 Year Old followed by the 18 Year Old First Edition in Spring 2015. I've just checked my notes on the Arran 14 Year Old (Whisky Discovery #40) where I remember writing that their core range will eventually consist of 10, 14 and 18 Year Old expressions.

This new release is produced from un-peated malted barley, then matured in a mix of circa  70% bourbon barrels and 30% sherry hogsheads. The expression has been limited to 9,000 bottles and in-line with their other core expressions bottled at 46% abv, naturally coloured and non-chill filtered

So What Did We Think?

Kat: Nose:  Fresh cut Beech, fresh apricots, a sweet fresh quality that reminds me of the smell of honey suckle after rain, unbaked bread dough, and lemon zest that nicely balances the sweetness.

Taste:  Sweetness again similar to honey suckle but develops later to be more like sweet pea shoots, there’s a slight oiliness, a nut quality like is similar to macadamia nut, and lightly spiced – cinnamon.

Finish:  Delicately sweet and mildly spice (tingles of cinnamon), the taste of cork (you know that taste of when you get little bits of it in your wine when someone with ham hands has had a go at opening your wine!), and a nice hint of bitterness at the end. I find the taste of cork here quite pleasant, gives it a hint of earthiness.

Overall I really enjoyed this whisky. It’s light and refreshing, and would be very enjoyable in some spring sunshine.

Dave: The nose comes across as very malty upon pouring the first dram into the Glencairn, but then it evolves into rich dark chocolate flavours - fabulous! There's spicy oak, sweet toffee, honey and fruit with rosy apples and green grapes. It's spicy and beautifully honeyed without being too sweet.

The palate opens with a light honey sweetness and slowly builds to a spicy crescendo, cloves and cinnamon It has a rich and creamy mouth-feel and the chocolate notes are back, but now more milk chocolate like and there is a slight orangey mandarin note underlying

A great spicy finish follows with and almost chilli burn on the tongue if you let it. There's a nice length to the finish, and the milk chocolate lingers before the mouth starts to dry as the oak tannins come through leaving me salivating for the next dram.

I loved the 14 Year Old and this is a fabulous step towards their goal of having an 18 year old in their core line up. An important milestone for this young, innovative independent distillery and a and delicious milestone at that!

And finally:

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

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Midlands Whisky Show III

I wasn't expecting to be heading back up to Stourbridge until September following our trip up to the second Midlands Whisky Festival. Due to the popular demand in the Midlands this new addition to the calendar conveniently places a Whisky Show midway between the September Show. You can read about our first trip to Stourbridge here.

Unfortunately Kat couldn't make this show due booking a birthday treat for her baby sister on the same day. So the long trip to Stourbridge was done all on my own, but armed with my iPod for music and a copy of Davin De Kergmommeaux's 'Canadian Whisky' I was well prepared. My first train left Milton Keynes at 0820 for the short hop up to Rugby, switching trains here to get up to Birmingham New Street. It was a beautiful morning with bright sunshine and clear blue skies!

I had to walk (the horror) from New Street to Moor Street to get my next train to Stourbridge Junction where the last leg in the journey started by hopping onto the Stourbridge shuttle into Stourbridge Town. By the time I had reached Stourbridge the blue skies had gone but at least it was still dry.

There's a short walk up the High Street to get to the Town Hall, where I met up with Andy Purslow (@ardbaggie) the shows chief whip cracker, who let me in before the show opened to help with the final details before the show officially opened for the VIP ticket holders at 11:00

With the show about to open I grabbed my glass and goodie bag and head over to catch up with Lukasz Dynowiak of @EdinburghWhisky. Although we 'talk' via twitter from time to time I hadn't seen Lukasz since last years TWL Midland Fest in Stratford upon Avon. Lukasz was pouring for Inverhouse Distillers; Balblair, Old Pulteney and anCnoc were on offer and I took my first dram of the day with the recently released anCnoc 22 Year Old.

One of my plans for the day was to get to know Glengoyne Distillery as I'd not come across them in my journey to date. On my way over to find them I caught up with Alistair Mutch with his range of Tomatin Single Malts where the new Tomatin Legacy was being showcased alongside their 12, 15, 18 and Dream Dram 30 Year Old malts. I also noticed their Antiquary 12 Year Old, a blended Scotch whisky that featured in our recent 12 Blends Challenge. I didn't stop for a dram with Alistair as he had taken us through the range at last November's Wine and Spirits Show.

Alistair introduced me to Alan Wardrop from Glengoyne where I enjoyed a vertical tasting through the range, starting with the 10 year old.
Whisky Discovery
How's that for an introduction to a range from Glengoyne?
Glengoyne have the slowest stills in Scotland, running at around 5 litres per minute compared to  around 9-15 litres per minute at other distilleries. All Glengoyne whisky is unpeated, and always bottled with no added colouring, the colour coming from the top quality sherry casks they source.

So starting with the 10 Year Old I went through the core range; 12, 15, 18, and 21 Year Old whiskies finishing with their Cask Strength. I enjoyed each of the expressions, with each offering a little more, one of these is definitely going to be on my shelf soon, the 15 and 18 year old stood out for me, with the 15 Year Old just edging it for me, and the cask strength would be a strong contender too. In fact I would be very happy with any of these on my shelf!

As my introduction to Glengoyne was coming to an end the first call for The Macallan Masterclass was announced and I started to make my way to the stairs meeting up with Joe Ellis (@WhiskyBrum) and Mike and Jon from Living Room Whisky (@LRWhisky)

The Macallan Masterclass was hosted by Joy Elliott who took us through the new 1824 Series, a range of no age statement whiskies replacing the the current range up to the 18 Year Old (in the UK).

Whisky Discovery
The Macallan 1824 Series; Gold, Amber, Sienna and Ruby
The 'Gold' was released around six months ago, but I'd not tasted it before, but this was the first public tasting of the other three, Amber, Sienna and Ruby.

Joy went on to explain the 'six pillars' of The Macallan, the first being it's spiritual home Easter Elchies House, overlooking the River Spey (the estate having river frontage too) has been the home of The Macallan for over two centuries.

The second is their curiously small and uniquely shaped copper stills which concentrate the flavour of the ‘new make’ spirit, and provide the rich, fruity, full-bodied flavours.

Thirdly Joy explained that The Macallan takes one of the smallest ‘cuts’ of the new make spirit of any distillery in Scotland, which means only the best of the best goes into filling The Macallan oak casks. The result is a very rich and oily spirit.

Pillar No. 4 and it's all about the wood. No ex-bourbon casks at The Macallan. All casks are  handcrafted in America and Spain. European Oak is selected, seasoned and then crafted into casks before being lent to Spanish bodegas to be filled with a dry Oloroso sherry before being  used to mature whisky.

Naturally coloured whisky is pillar No.5 and The Macallan insist on this. No colouring is ever added to their whisky. Which led to the last pillar, being the 'Masters of Spirit' monitoring the maturing whisky, selecting the moment when each cask is at the peak of maturity and perfect for bottling.
Whisky Discovery
The new 1824 Series from The Macallan, Gold, Amber, Sienna and Ruby
We started with a drop of 'new make spirit' at 70% abv, with it's gristy, grainy nose and sweet pear drop palate and after taste, before moving on to our first whisky.

The Macallan Gold is the entry level from the series, and replaces the 10 Year Old Fine Oak and Sherry Oak standards. Bottled at 40% abv this is the one you may have seen in the supermarkets over that last six months. (circa £30).  Vanilla, citrus and cantaloupe melons featured on the nose. Gentle sweetness on the palate with some ginger spice too.

The Macallan Amber, 40% abv (circa £45) and from a combination of first fill/refill casks and a higher proportion of European Oak casks. Toffee, vanilla and a light orange note feature on the nose. Again a light sweetness on the palate with crisp apple, ginger and a good peppery spice.

The Macallan Sienna, 43% abv (cica £75) and my favourite of the four tasted. Only first fill casks used in the make-up of this, with lovely sherry notes and cinnamon on the nose along with some pineapple and cloves. The clove note featured on the palate too and complimented the sherry fruits of dates, figs and raisin.

The Macallan Ruby, 43% abv (circa £120) and from the finest matured whisky from first fill sherry casks only. Much darker in colour and richer in taste. Dried fruits feature on the nose, spiced oranges on the palate and a long warming finish

With the Masterclass over it was time to return to the main show, I had no real agenda, but was considering GlenDronach or BenRiach as both have been fairly absent from this journey to date. I caught up with Dave from The Whisky Dramalista (@whiskyrepublic) who had travelled up from Bristol for the show, and recommended I try the GlenDronach range. It was a little busy when I checked so decided I would look out for a couple of drams on my 101 Whiskies list, starting with the Highland Park 21 Year Old and then Glenglassaugh Revival

With two 'Dream Dram' tokens in my pocket I thought I would sample the Glenfiddich 'Age of Discovery' a rich 19 year old single malt matured in oak casks previously used to age fine Madeira wine for my next dram while catching up with Show organiser and Nickolls and Perks owner Dave Gardiner
The Jura Masterclass Line up: 10, 16, Superstition, Prophecy, The Journey (Mackinlays) and 1977
The Jura Masterclass was the main event for the afternoon and I helped Andrew set up before settling down to be entertained my master distiller Willie Tait. I had tasted all but one of the six whiskies laid out for the masterclass  but I had never met Willie before, who was as entertaining as I had hoped for!

We started with the Jura 10 year Old which was one of the first bottles of whisky I bought at the beginning of my journey. We moved on to the delicious Jura 16 year old which was followed by Superstition and Prophecy, four core expressions from this remote distillery.

We then moved on to 'The Journey' the second recreation of Shackleton's Whisky which had been locked under the ice of Antarctica for almost 100 years, and Willie told us how he had tasted the original whisky before Richard Paterson and his team recreated the taste profile.

The finale dram was the recently released Jura 1977 Vintage 'Jaur', the product of three first fill bourbon casks, finished in a ruby port pipe for twelve months. Just 498 bottles are available  at around £600 each. This was real treat and one of the highlights of my show - I have a review sample which I will be writing about in due course.

With time ticking away I made a beeline to GlenDronach after the masterclass where Stewart Buchannan took me through some GlenDronach single malts, starting with the cask strength, a fabulous drop of drammage, non chill filtered, naturally coloured, and matured in a combination of Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry casks.

This was followed by their 18 Year Old, now renamed Allardice,  is the third expression in the GlenDronach core range. Again non chill filtered, naturally coloured, matured in Spanish Oloroso sherry casks, and was another great dram. There was a bottle of their 21 Year Old 'Parliament' alongside the 18 which was my next dram. The Parliament is similar in it's make up to the cask strength expression, being matured in a combination of Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry casks, but for at least 21 years old and bottled at a respectable 48% abv. A fabulous introduction to some of The GlenDronach range!

My final dram of the afternoon

With the last pour about to be called I flipped my last Dream Dram token to Stewart for a healthy measure of the fabulous BenRiach 30 Year Old.

With the show over it was time to say my goodbyes and find my way back home to Bedfordshire. Another four trains and with a little more confusion as the route was slightly different, but I eventually made it back to Milton Keynes.

The Midlands Whisky Festival in Stourbridge was another fabulous day out, meeting the guys and girls with whom I tweet is always a highlight of the events these days. Meeting Willie Tait was also a highlight.

Whisky highlights include the vertical tasting of the Glengoyne range, all new discoveries, The GlenDronach range, the Jura 1977 and of course my final dram the BenRaich 30 Year Old.

A huge thanks to David Gardner of Nickolls and Perks for inviting me, to Joy Elliot and Willie Tait for two great Masterclasses and for all the staff and volunteers who put on another dram fine day. Once again I met some great people in the Midlands and look forward to seeing you all again at the next on September 28th 2013.

For more information and updates visit: and check out their blog too at: as well as The Midland Whisky Festival website

The full dram list with links as and when they are completed!

Whisky Discovery #381

The Society's Special 14 Year Old (40% abv)
Blended Scotch Whisky
£25.00 100cl
The Whine Society's Special Highland Blend

This was my choice of whisky for the recent 12 Blends Challenge a group of whisky enthusiasts took part in during the first two weeks of April. You can read about that here.

This had been on my wish list ever since reading Ian Buxton's 101 Whiskies to try Before You Die. So the chance to share this recommended blended Scotch with eleven other whisky fans was too good an opportunity to miss and from their tatsing notes they really enjoyed it.

This whisky owes its origins to The Society's first Chairman The Macleod of Macleod (1874-1895) and it is the Macleod Castle, Dunvegan that is shown on the label. The blend dates from The Society’s early years when it was known as The Society’s Special Highland Blend and appears on lists more than a century old.

The actual blend is a closely guarded secret but consists of Highland and Lowland whiskies, and Ian's book tells us that Mortlach features prominently. The Wine Society is famed for is quality selection of fine wines and sherries, but they do have a limited selection of whiskies including single malts which change from time to time.

Although the origin of the whiskies may change the principle has not. It is composed only of malt and grain whiskies acquired when first offered by the distilleries and matured there in casks, including Sherry casks from The Society, until old enough to be blended and bottled.

In Ian's book it is labelled as The Society's Special Highland Blend Whisky, and Wine Society Members have been buying for more than a century, it being a blend unique to The Society. Recent legislation has forced them to remove the term "Highland" from the description as the blend is not from 100% highland whiskies. It is now known as The Society's Special 14-Year-Old Blended Scotch Whisky, but the blend itself has not altered, purely the name on the label. It remains a 14-year-old blended whisky containing first-division malts and grains originally bought from the distilleries and aged in Sherry casks before blending and bottling. 

So What Did I Think?

The colour of this whisky is a rich autumnal bronze colour, and naturally coloured I must add

As I was expecting, there is lots of sherry on the nose, Amontillado for sure! This has a lovely rich nose, there's sweet stewed apples, a touch of peppery spice to compliment the sherry notes. With time those sherry notes start to turn more Oloroso like, and some wood notes appear then there was even a touch of smoke under the sherry notes

In the mouth it's sweet initially, then builds with some peppery spice, before gently receding leaving a rich oily mouth-feel, sherried fruits prominent, apple peel, cinnamon, and white pepper.

The finish is spicy and warming, there is a touch of smoke and then a drying nutty note. You are left with a long peppery taste at the end, and the empty glass has a faint peak reek which suggests Islay malts have been used in the make up.

This is a really lovely blended Scotch whisky and thanks to Ian Buxton for introducing me to this. It has a really satisfying taste, and had been my 'go to' dram in the evenings since buying it. The mouth feel is rich and oily, and the peppery kick fades gently into the long finish suggesting that Talisker could have been used in the make-up of it. At £25 for a litre, I think this will become a regular feature of my whisky shelf. 

You have to be a member of the wine society to be able to purchase this, but it is fantastic value at £40 for life membership. They have a huge selection of wines and I have been working my way through their sherry collection recently, purely educational of course. If you are interested in finding out more get in touch with me, or check out their website.

Monday, 15 April 2013

12 Blends - A blind tasting challenge

Following the hugely entertaining 12 Drams of Christmas organised by Tom Thomson of Toms Whisky Reviews, and while still full of the Christmas spirit, a couple of the drammers decided that another blind tasting should be organised for the Easter holidays.

I pulled out of the Christmas event due to so much going on at the time, but put my name down for this Easter event purely because it looked great fun! @DramStats suggested a blended whisky challenge, the date was set and Tom organised getting the 12 disciples together with the proposed challenge running from the 1st-12th April

We all set out to purchase our secret blend then decant into eleven 35ml dram bottles to be sent to all of the participants. Most of the team were visiting Whisky Live London and so the great sample swap was scheduled for a pre-show lunch time session at the London home of the SMWS, (you can find the photos of our meet up on our Facebook page)

Most of the twelve hail from the UK but two overseas correspondents joined our happy band of blenders, @galg of Whisky Israel and @WhiskyMarks of Texan whisky blog Whisky Marks and by some miracle of blended magnetism we all managed to have a full house of drams in time for the starting date set for Monday 1st April.

Most importantly those wonderful people at Compass Box Whisky who know a thing or two about great blended whisky kindly donated the winners prize of a bottle of their award winning Asyla for winning this competition.
Compass Box Whisky
The prize kindly donated by Compass Box Whiskies
The 1st of April is known as April Fools Day in the UK, which seemed aptly appropriate as I sat looking at my 11 numbered blended whiskies. I realised that I would be very lucky if I could even name twelve different blended whiskies that didn't feature the pre-banned Bells, Teachers and the other brands I have heard of, and can be found in most British supermarkets.

With the rules set, requiring our tasting notes and guesses to be submitted to organiser @ifotou by 2030 each evening I decided I should try and get a head start, and lined all eleven mystery drams up on the dining room table on Easter Sunday afternoon.

I had originally planned to set  up for the photo shoot and taste just blend number one, and perhaps a sip of number two, but before I'd even finished setting up the table I had poured small drams of the first four, and following the photo taking, decided I ought to find out if there were any 'doubles' or if anyone had bought the same bottle as mine.

It rapidly degenerated from here, I was having fun! Some of the other blenders were also tweeting that they were making a start due to other commitments during the week. I rattled through them taking notes which seemed to get thinner in useful information as the number on the bottle increased.

To assist my analysis I also had my blended whiskies on the table too, just for comparison, which on hindsight, probably did little to assist.
11 blends lined up for me on Easter Sunday - better than any Easter Eggs!
Day 1 provided by @mynameisgone

Dram No.1
12.5 points scored
Colour: Gold
Nose: Upon pouring I got a lovely bread dough note, and moving the glass to the nose this comes across as quite malty. There does seem to be a slight trace of peat smoke and a pinch of white pepper. The nose is not overly sweet, but there is a fruity element within.
Palate: The gentle peat reek is more pronounced on the palate, again the white pepper is there and there is a honeyed sweetness, and the fruitiness come through with some plum jam, some malted milk biscuits
Finish: Quite short, touch of the white pepper to the sweetness and even a wisp of smoke
Empty Glass: Distinct aroma of a wood ash from a previous evenings fire
Verdict: Easy drinking dram, quite light overall with a nice white pepper spice at the very end

My guesses:
  • ABV: 40% 
  • Age: NAS
  • Type: Blended Scotch
  • Brand: Johnnie Walker
  • Expression: Black Label
Reveal: Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve - I have tasted this before at last years Whisky Exchange Whisky Show (Whisky Discovery #208) I scored points here for getting all but the expression correct and jumped straight into joint first place with a score of 12.5 points!

Day 2 provided by @sjjgo

Colour: Gold (almost indistinguishable from #1!)
Nose:  Opens up quite spicy before settling down. Much fruitier on the nose with some peaches and kiwi fruit? White pepper notes, wood notes too
Palate: Smooth and sweet with honey, fruit has turned more apple like, rosy red ones. A touch of white pepper again, not too much, but enough to let you know it's there, lightly salted too
Finish: Very short and light, malty, touch of pepper and some honey sweetness remains at the very end
Empty Glass: Wood, wet from seawater
Verdict: A very easy drinking dram, sweet, smooth and I like the salty note at the very end

My guesses:
  • ABV: 43%
  • Age: NAS
  • Type: Blended Malt
  • Brand: Compass Box
  • Expression: Oak Cross
Reveal: Nikka All Malt - again another whisky that I have tasted before (Whisky Discovery #160) but was way off this time, and only scored points for 'guessing' the age correctly slipping back into second place.

Day 3 Provided by @rodbodtoo

Colour: Gold (almost indistinguishable from #1 & 2)
Nose: Very gentle nose, takes a while to tease out. Got a lovely flash of liquorice before it settles down, toffee, vanilla, soft orange note. Quite sweet and creamy
Palate: Sweet initially with building spice which remains as white pepper on the sides of the tongue while the centre returns to sweetness, honey, apricots, light clove note too
Finish: Quite a spicy kick at first which settles down to a dry-ish sweetness
Empty Glass: Malty
Verdict: Yummy!

My guesses:
  • ABV: 40%
  • Age: NAS
  • Type: Blended Malt
  • Brand: Monkey Shoulder
Reveal: Grants Ale Cask, I have never tasted this before so this has been registered as a new Whisky Discovery (#374) as it was the first time I have tasted this, although I do have a miniature of this sitting on my shelf, so will complete a full discovery review later! I picked up some points for the abv and age statement, which brought me back into joint first place again.

Day 4 provided by @ardbaggie

Dram No.4
Colour: Gold (almost indistinguishable from #1, 2 & 3!)
Nose: Sweet, honey, gentle clove note, gentle citrus notes too, chalky
Palate: Sweet, light spice, ginger
Finish: Short sweet and gentle spice
Empty Glass: Chalky, malty
Verdict: Quite quaffable but comes across as quite a simple drinkable dram

My guesses:
  • ABV: 40%
  • Age: NAS
  • Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
  • Brand: Cutty Sark
Reveal: Ballantines 17 Year Old Another new Whisky Discovery for me (#375) but I was so far out in all of my guess I scored no points in this round. Unwisely I had decided to start the first six mystery drams on the Easter Sunday evening (originally I was planning to run through all 12!) and so as the afternoon wore on my notes started to wander as I was comparing the blind blends with each other as well as some of the other whiskies on my shelf. This dram fooled most of us and only two of the twelve blind blenders scored points which meant I kept my joint first place position!

Day 5 provided by @dvdbloke

Dram No.5
Nil points this round too!
Colour: Gold (almost indistinguishable from #1-4!)
Nose: Fudge, toffee, malty
Palate: Sweet, rich, fruity, leather, pepper spice
Finish: Short, white pepper
Empty Glass: It is now
Verdict: Gone too quickly :(

My guesses:
  •  ABV: 40%
  •  Age: NAS
  •  Type: Blended Scotch
  •  Brand: Grants Sherry Cask
Reveal: The Tweeddale Blend 12 Year Old, 46% abv and another new Whisky Discovery and #376 of my liquid log. Firstly I must apologise for these random guesses, my notes for this one were far from complete having tried to write them while thoroughly enjoying tasting as many of the 12 blends as possible. For the second time I scored no points, and slipped back into joint third, however this round provided a winner.  @mynameisgone correctly identified this whisky, and his ability to 'guess' the batch and bottle number left me thinking that their was a conspiracy going on (I'm joking, there was no batch and bottle number discussed).

Day 6 provided by @ifotou

Dram No.6
Just 2.5 points from this
Colour: Gold (slightly darker than 1-5, hooray!)
Nose: not sure if this has been contaminated, but got a whiff of cabbage water at first, which put me off nosing this at first. However it settles down to give sweet honey notes, barley water
Palate: barley vanilla light toffee notes, citrus
Finish: some bitter citrus pith with the lasting taste of barley
Empty Glass: Toffee popcorn

My guesses:
  • ABV: 40%
  • Age: NAS
  • Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
  • Brand: The Bailie Nichol Jarvie
Reveal: Johnnie Walker 18 Year Old Platinum, 40% abv and I was correct in my thinking that I had tasted this before, Whisky Discovery #165, was enjoyed during a Colin Dunn Masterclass at last years Midlands Whisky Show

Ok, this was another of the blends I enjoyed 'in session' however I was convinced I had gotten this one right, and felt certain the barley notes were the clue to the BNJ I thought it was. Fortunately I wasn't the only one, with lots of other BNJ guesses, and so the 2.5 points I scored here, along with everyone else, maintained my joint third position. I wish I could say that my next round of guesses will be more educated, however I did go on to taste all eleven on that Easter Sunday evening, but fortunately I retained half a dram of each for re-evaluation.

Day 7 provided by @DramStats

Dram No.7
Great value blend!

Colour: Gold (very similar to the other 11)
Nose: Gentle peat reek, sweet burnt toffee, buttered sweet corn, slightly smoky, medicinal, 
Palate: Smoky peat reek comes through at the forefront on the palate, charcoal, malty, salty butter, cereal grains with a creamy sweetness
Finish: Fair to good length, Gentle smoke and black pepper
Empty Glass: Sweet charcoal notes
Verdict:  I love some peated notes in my Whisky!

My guesses:
  • ABV: 40%
  • Age: NAS
  • Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
  • Brand: Johnnie Walker 
  • Expression: Double Black
Reveal: Smokin' 40% abv, a relatively new release from Duncan Taylor and which none of the other 11 'blenders' had heard of either! I knew from the start that @DramStats would have picked something a little more difficult to find due to his confidence that no one would have the same bottle as his! However I could only find three smoky blends that fitted the profile, Double Black, Black Bottle and Black Grouse and I knew it wasn't Black Grouse having had a bottle previously. So another new Whisky Discovery, #377 in the Liquid Log, and from what I remember a damn good one. Still I managed to accrue five points for the abv and no age statement, which put me back into joint second place, with @mynameisgone still well ahead with his correct identification of Dram No.5

Day 8 provided by @galg

Dram No.8
I picked up a few points with this Irish blend
Colour: Gold (almost indistinguishable from #1!)
Nose: Grainy initially but settles down, heather and lavender notes, perhaps even a little rosemary bark, fruity with ripe green grapes,
Palate: Smooth with sweet ripe grains, grapes, kiwi fruits and a faint orange note, spice comes with light white pepper,
Finish: Quite short, sweet, drying nuttiness with a light salty note
Verdict: Lovely easy drinking dram
Empty Glass: Those green grapes are still there

My guesses:
  • ABV: 40%
  • Age: NAS
  • Type: Irish Blended Whiskey
  • Brand: Feckin Irish Whiskey
Reveal: Clontarf Irish Whiskey, 40% abv, and a new Whisky Discovery, #378. This is a triple distilled Irish whiskey produced by the Clontarf Whiskey Company, a subsidiary of Castle Brands Inc. The whiskey takes it name from the Battle of Clontarf in 1014, and no one had heard of this one! When searching through the Irish blends, as I was certain that I had an Irish blend when I first nosed and tasted this sample, I found the brand Feckin Irish Whisky, and was certain Gal would have picked this one!

So I picked up a few points, certainly for the abv and possibly for identifying it as an Irish blend, and maintained my joint second position with @ardbaggie, but still trailing @mynameisgone by 10 points. With only three point scoring opportunities left for me I really needed to play my trump card out on one of them if I wanted to win the bottle of Asyla!

Day 9 provided by @steveprentice
Dram No.9
Colour: Gold (almost indistinguishable from everything else!)
Nose: Rich sherry notes, Oloroso, there's a rich sweetness with toffee and vanilla notes, spices and berry fruits and a grainy edge too
Palate: Again the sherry comes to the fore and it's well rounded, nutty, creamy, apples, spice
Finish: Rich and spicy, creamy, fruity
Verdict: Fabulous rich sherried nose
Empty Glass: Pine wood sawdust

My guesses:
  • ABV: 50%
  • Age: 12 Year Old
  • Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
  • Brand: Duncan Taylor
  • Expression: Black Bull
Reveal: The Antiquary 21 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky, 43% abv. and another new Whisky Discovery, #379. This is an exclusive blend from Tomatin and combines fine Speyside and Highland malt with a splash of Islay and the fragrance of Lowland grains. All the whiskies used in this blend are at least 21 years old. So no points again this evening, disaster! Two close guesses from a couple of the blenders picking The Antiquary 12 Year Old as their guess, and others picked up points pushing me back into fourth.

Day 10 provided by @WhiskyMarks

Dram No.10
Colour: Dark Gold, at last something different!
Nose: Nail polish remover at first before settling to some lovely bourbon notes reminding me of both Buffalo Trace and Four Roses. There's the obvious vanilla notes, but it's thick and sweet. Green Bananas, baked pears, charred oak and even a slight briny note
Palate: Spicy oak notes, honey sweetness, buttered toast, green bananas,
Finish: Smooth and sweet, slight aniseed, fennel note, good length too, eventually drying with hazelnut and a faint smoky trace
Empty Glass: Smoky charcoal notes
Verdict: Would quite happily have this on my shelf

My guesses:
  •  ABV: 41% (82 Proof)
  •  Age: NAS
  • Type: American Blended Whisky
  •  Brand: Firestone & Robertson
  •  Expression: TX Blended Whiskey
Reveal: High West Campfire 41% and another new Whisky Discovery recording #380 in the liquid log, and certainly one of my favourite of the blends so far. I certainly didn't pick up the points I was hoping for and @mynameisgone increased his lead over everyone else with some canny guesses, though I remained in fourth equal place.

The High West Distillery of Utah craft Small batch spirits with the owner’s personal touch. Campfire came about during a trip to Islay when proprietor David Perkins was staying in the Bruichladdich distillery B&B. One of the desserts during their stay was ripe honeydew drizzled with a peated whisky syrup. The combination of melon and sweet smoke really worked, so David thought why not mix sweet bourbon and peat? 

So Campfire is a blend of a straight bourbon whiskey (75 percent corn, 20 percent rye, and 5 percent barley malt). A straight rye whiskey (95 percent rye and 5 percent barley malt) and a  blended malt Scotch whiskey (100% peated malted barley). The whiskies are all at least 5 years old.

Day 11 was my blind blend

Here is what the blind blenders thought of it:

@mynameisgone Nose: Chocolate, stewed plums, with a drop of water I get a slight sherberty note Palate: Lovely fruity taste, honey sweetness, a really rounded whisky, I could drink this as a daily dram Finish: Sweet lingering fruit, slightly spicy

@sjjgo Nose: Sherry, baked apples, seaweed(?), ghee Palate: Pine, sherry, pastry, biscuits Finish: Slightly bitter; hoppy, faded wine

@rodbodtoo Nose is a fine swirl of raisins / sherry / malt / smoke (a bit) the palate is thick & rich & sweetly fruity. Malty (like fruit loaf), sherried, woody, & burnt toffee / treacle  now I'm getting a real toffee flavour  Finish is long and uncannily like treacle

@ardbaggie Nose: Sherry fruit sweet stewed apples. Palate: creamy honey hints of sherry with some spicey wood

@dvdbloke Nose: Smoke. Tar. Vanilla. Some berry fruit. Jam. Palate: Watery mouth-feel. Biscuity malt. Berry fruits. Sweet creamy peat. Finish: Sweet peat. Drying cream

@ifotou Nose: Initially quite a large malty nose on this, with sweetness underlying it, the sweetness to me is quite lemony, there's a honey quality to this too. there's some underlying sherried fruit notes and some very nice fresh vanilla pods. Palate: a touch of smoke then it goes very malty, buttery/creamy mouthfeel and soft sherried fruits. Finish: way too easy to drink, easy going a lovely dram.

@DramStats  Nose: Vanilla and sweet smoke to start. Then juicy raisin and milk chocolate. Touch of pine in the background Sweet raisin and milk chocolate (milka style), sultana and clean uncomplicated fruity sherry. Palate: Sweet raisin and milk chocolate (milka style), sultana and clean uncomplicated fruity sherry. Finish: Just lovely fading sherry notes with no spice or oak. Bitter chocolate muscles in on a fruity fade.

@galg: Nose: A lot of butterscotch, vanilla and malt with some bits of citrus and fresh grass.sherry, thick stuff. Palate: malty and mouth watering with hints of smoke, tobacco, sweet sherry and butterscotch, getting dry. Finish: butterscotch and chocolate with a zingy pepper.

@steveprentice Gold gold gold and more gold. Lightly peated nose with other fruits coming forward after, and a fairly spirity alcohol smell. Very smooth on the palate with some oak and spice coming after a while of holding it on your tongue. A smokey.warming and slightly spiced finish of a pleasing medium length.

@WhiskyMarksSo, this one is very much screaming William Grant malt—Glenfiddich and
Balvenie—so, I'm going to guess that it's a Grant's Blended Whisky, probably the 12 year old version. Very fruity, with wafts of vanilla and honey that delight and a finish that warms with a touch of spice. I really like this one, it's easy to drink and has some wonderful notes that I love in the 15yo Glenfiddich.

@LRWhisky Initial notes of honey, rich raisins, damp grass and nutty pecan pie, creamy. Smooth palate, fruity, touch of smoke, peppery tang, rich and toffee-ish. Thins out in the finish but maintains creamy toffee sauce.

The reveal: The Wine Society 14 Year Old Special Blended Whisky 40% abv and this was a new Whisky Discovery for me too, #381
101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die
Scanned copy of my book with kind permission from Ian Buxton
Some great notes and guesses included; Hibiki 12 Year Old, Whyte & Mackay 13 Year Old, Whyte & Mackay 19 Year Old, Sheep Dip Amoroso Oloroso, Blue Hanger from Berry Bros & Rudd, Islay Mist, Bailey Nichol Jarvie 8 Year Old, Monkey Shoulder, Compass Box Asyla 

One of Ian Buxton's '101 Whiskies to try Before You Die' and one I particularly wanted to taste on my journey, so this 12 blends competition was the perfect opportunity to not only tick it off of my list, but to allow eleven others to tick it off of their list as well. 

I'd like to be able to tell you that I joined the wine society just to be able to get a bottle of this, but that would be a lie, I joined last year as I like a drop of wine, albeit less than I used to. They have a fabulous selection of wines and sherries (which has been another recent interest) and also have a number of whiskies on their books.

My blend choice limited point scoring opportunities, with only 40% abv points being scored, but the overall consensus was that this was very much enjoyed, but then it came highly recommended by Ian himself.

My notes will follow in a separate blog post for Whisky Discovery #381

Day 12 provided by @LRWhisky

Dram No.12
Colour: Gold (almost indistinguishable from most of the others)
Nose: Quite similar to Blend no.9 at first with bright sherry notes before turning more earthy and woody. There's some pepper lurking in the background and the smell of fresh pizza bread dough rising.
Palate: Spicy sherry notes, fruity, sweet toffee, faint wisp of scented smoke behind, green bananas
Finish: That wisp of scented smoke hangs on for a while then leaves drying tannins, hazelnut 
Empty Glass: Butterscotch
Verdict: Another that went oh so quick!

My guesses:
  • ABV: 43%
  • Age: 12 year Old
  • Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
  • Brand: Mackinlay
Reveal: Master of Malt 8 Year Old, from their secret bottlings series, 40% Another new Whisky Discovery at #382 on the Liquid Log, but no points at all with my guess. I changed my mind  a number of times before settling on my guess, but none of my choices were anyway near anyway.

We have a Winner!

With the final scores added up the runaway winner of the 12 Blends Challenge was @mynameisgone who scooped the Compass Box Asyla prize. My points tally remained static in the last few rounds and so finished in equal sixth place, trailing the leader by a massive 25 points!

The last 12 evenings have been an absolute blast and we're already talking about the next blind challenge! Not one duplicate amongst the twelve chosen, although two from the Johnnie Walker range featured. Of the twelve, nine were new discoveries and three of the twelve chosen feature in 101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die, as does the competition's prize, Asyla from Compass Box.

My blend highlights have been Smokin' and Campfire and will be looking out for them as well as making sure I investigate The Tweeddale Blend too, but the fun and twitter banter over the last couple of weeks have been a great experience, I thank you gentlemen!