Friday, 31 January 2014

Burns Night 2014

Last week, the Monkey called, that’s Monkey Shoulder to you, and asked me to come along to an alternative Burns Supper at The Caledonian Club. I thought we would be celebrating Scottish poet Robert Burns. As I've never celebrated Burns night before, I didn't know what to expect, but knew that I was in for an eventful night. 

Not being able to leave work early meant I arrived an hour after the start time, at this point completely oblivious to the mayhem that happened shortly before my arrival. Being a polite guest, I donned a white hazmat suit with no questions asked the got rushed to the upstairs of the club. I only had a split second to wonder my suit had a radioactive badge on, and why the man rushing me had a face mask hung around his neck. 

Walking into the room I've abruptly left normality behind as I walked into a surreal alternate reality. Within a few minutes of sitting down, I was greeted by an excitable lady who introduced herself to me as Carolyn Cumhardy and asked ‘Oh you got through the nuclear fallout OK?’. Then I was told that the suspicious white substance on her face was just nuclear fallout cream, and was nothing to do with how she got her family name. Hmmm, I thought, this is pretty freaking surreal as I stared at the bowl of three eyed fish soup, and a glass of Rob Roy.
RIP Binky, you were bloody tasty 
Scanning the room trying to find anything familiar, anything at all, anything that I can use to make sense of this madness. My eyes fell on a life size taxidermy polar bear, metal fencing, what looks like a stack of oscilloscopes, then I saw the framed picture of Mr Monty Burns from the Simpsons…..the penny dropped. 

The night was to celebrate Charles Montgomery Burns, you know that lovely old man from t’ Simpsons. 

Oh well, I thought, there’s no point trying to understand, just accept, relax and drink your Rob Roy. 

If you want to make the Rob Roy at home here is the recipe:
It certainly hit the spot
after being plunged into an alternate reality

50ml Monkey Shoulder
25ml Sweet Vermouth
3 Dashes Angostura bitters

Add all ingredients to mixing glass, add ice and stir. Once desired dilution is reached strain into chilled glass and garnish with twist of orange peel.
Stemmed cocktail glass

Next I tucked into my Three Eyed fish soup, followed by some Radioactive Haggis with orange coloured neeps and green tatties, and of course we had to have Lardy Lad Donuts for desert. It was a bit strange eating green mash; I kept on expecting that it would taste like peas. 

Mmmmmmm donuts….. 
After dinner we had another cocktail, a Mammie Taylor, very refreshing after the richness of the haggis. Then I finally got to meet in person Jake Mountain from Master of Malt, and I also got to meet Graeme Gardiner from The Edinburgh Whisky Blog. These two lovely chaps kept me company as I was at the event on my own. 

Graeme in particular had me in stitches when he didn't realise he was sporting some major carpet burns after winning the hound racing. 

I take full credit for sharing the pics on twitter. Sorry Graeme.

Mammie Taylor
I love my Mammie

30ml Monkey Shoulder
10ml Fresh Lime juice
80ml Ginger ale
Lime wedges

Add all ingredients to glass, add cold dry ice and stir.


I won’t go into detail about party games some of us played, I recommend reading the blog post by the boys as there’s simply nothing more I can add to this part of the story that hasn't already been said. You can find their posts about the event here The Edinburgh Whisky Blog - Burns Night and here Master of Malt blog - Burns Night In retrospect I got away lightly by missing the caricaturist!

We finished the night with music from Third Degree Burns, a good old sing song and dance. We all left with sparklers in hand and grinning like kids as we made our way back to reality. 

It was a fantastic and the most fun I've had at a whisky event! All I have to say is the next Burns supper I attend has a lot to live up to.
Actually we were making a zombie apocalypse B movie 
For more information about Monkey Shoulder and to join the Monkey Shoulder Social Club at their next event, visit their website here Monkey Shoulder 

Slàinte! Kat

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Teeling Whiskey Tweet Tasting

To celebrate 231 years of whiskey distilling tradition within the Teeling Family, Independent Irish whiskey maker the Teeling Whiskey Company has launched its flagship premium Irish whiskey brand Teeling Whiskey.

Jack Teeling, founder of the Teeling Whiskey Co., comes from a family long associated with Irish whiskey. The Teeling family are more recently synonymous with Cooley Distillery, which when established in 1987 was the first Irish whiskey distillery set up in Ireland in over 100 years. However the family’s whiskey heritage dates back to distilling in Dublin in 1782 and Walter Teeling who set up a distillery in Marrowbone Lane in the Liberties. Jack continues on the Teeling’s entrepreneurial spirit and while initially starting out as an Independent bottler aims to get back into the distilling game to ensure a constant supply of Irish whiskey.
Whisky Discovery
The Tweet Tasters were sent four different expressions for the event along with a miniature of their small batch rum cask Irish Whiskey and a rather splendid nosing glass (which I used for water in this event).

In addition each of the whiskies were being paired with music and a play list had been selected and links to each on the playlist were sent out during the Tweet Tasting, I was already with my Irish music collection, and actually have all but the last one saved on my ipod, but would have put all these alongside some Flogging Molly!
  • Teeling Single Grain Irish Whiskey: U2 - Desire
  • Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey: Thin Lizzy - Whiskey in Jar
  • Teeling 21 Year Old Single Malt : Dubliners - Dirty Old Town
  • Teeling 26 Year Old Single Malt: Luke Kelly - Auld Triangle

Whisky Discovery #659

Teeling Single Grain NAS (46% abv)
Irish Single Grain Whiskey
circa £45.00 70cl
Whisky Discovery
Single Grain bottlings are very rare as it is typically blended with heavier styles of Irish whiskey to create many of the well-known brands on the market today. Grain whiskey is made through the combination of unique ingredients, predominately maize/corn which is distilled through a modern technique of column distillation. This produces an exceptionally clean, smooth and sweet Irish whiskey. The smooth, sweet nature of Grain whiskey provides a natural canvas which allows the Teeling Whiskey Company to create a very unique style of Irish whiskey.

To add a depth of character, Teeling Single Grain is exclusively fully matured in Californian Cabernet Sauvignon wine barrels. This creates a very distinctive rich amber colour while imparting strong spicy notes, lush red berry and grape flavours. This proprietary maturation technique produces a very unique Irish whiskey of distinctive character while still being remarkably easy to drink. Like all the Teeling whiskeys it is bottled at 46% with no chill filtration allowing for all the natural flavours of the whiskey to be retained.

So What Did We Think?
Kat said: The nose is lovely! Victoria sponge cake, light vanilla, with some lemon notes, almost like a fresh lemon cheesecake. I was picking up some sawdust too. Onto the palate and there's some dry straw grassy notes. It's spicy too but settles to give some sweet citrus notes like sweet satsumas and sour apple Chewits

Dave said: The nose opens with sweet cereal notes, hints of wild strawberry, some lemon zest and vanilla sneaking in too. Whilst it starts quite strong it seems to soften quickly to a creamy vanilla flavour. The sharp wild strawberry note also softens to that of strawberry yogurt . This is smooth and creamy and the soft strawberry flavour continues onto the palate, albeit more like a Strawberry Chewit now. A very nice sipping whiskey, gentle fruit flavours, very creamy too, starting to dry the mouth at the end.

So what did the others think?
@SteveRascal: Light cereal... Hints toward spice? Touch of citrus, lemon zest maybe. 
@EdinburghWhisky: The sort of spirit note you'd expect from a grain but there is also almonds and vanilla.
@kizzsmyth: A touch of varnish, but a lot of sweetness on the nose
@TheSmokyDram: More of the citrus fruit notes for me on the nose as it spends more time in the glass
@chanddenwhite: Sweet Strawberry coming though on the middle palate.
@thomas_speller: Creamy white chocolate on the palate, with some almonds and grass. Hint of ginger on the finish
@TheWhiskyWire: A red fruit frenzy on the palate, with a velvety vinous vivaciousness. 
@PWulf: Taste That was really smooth ! A very round and full flavour of vanilla ice cream.
@Girl_Whisky: Taste: Lovely, sweet, spicy, smooth, cinnamon, chocolate, warm, berries, strawberries, mellow, lemon and citrus

Whisky Discovery #534

Teeling Small Batch Rum Cask NAS (46% abv)
Irish Whiskey
circa £32.00 70cl
Whisky DiscoveryTeeling Irish Whiskey is a small batch bottling from hand selected casks of Grain and Malt whiskey which are further matured in ex-Flor de Cana Rum barrels. Teeling Irish Whiskey is bottled at 46% with no chill filtration which provides an extra sweet and smooth flavour making it truly a unique Irish Whiskey.

I first tasted this at The Midlands Whisky Festival back in September, it was one of the highlights of the day and I brought a bottle home with me. I took this bottle out to friends over Christmas, along with an armful of other malts, and it was everyone's favourite that night.

So What Did We Think?
Kat said: On first pouring I was finding some dried pebbles on the beach, a hint of salt and some sherbet notes. It opens up later bringing orange marmalade on toast and Portuguese custard tarts. I tweeted 'Woah!' on the first sip as I could taste so much fruit: mango, dried pineapple, pears, and dried apricots. Exotic spices followed;  fennel or caraway seeds. Later the rum notes come through; Demerara sugar, and a touch of palm sugar too

Dave said: Another soft nose; grains and tropical fruit, like one of those breakfast chewy bars. Lots of dried tropical fruits, peach/apricot flavours. Sweet with runny honey and sultanas. Returning to this at the end of the tweet tasting I was finding Banana and Ginger cake. The palate is sweet and creamy initially, a little zesty spice follows and then lots of dried tropical fruits, finishing quite dry. I loved it when I first 'discovered' it and it's been a crowd pleaser with my friends too.

So what did the others think?
@SteveRascal: Rum and raisin ice cream fleetingly disappears with the first sniff.
@whiskybars: On the nose autumnal berries, orange peel and a hint of spice at first
@LRWhisky: Lots of brown sugar, almost like a decadent chocolate cake mix
@ansgarspeller: On this nose some nice rum soaked raisin and vanilla notes
@eimearocarroll: Sharper notes on the nose. Haribo sour sweets
@Girl_Whisky: Warm, chocolate, tropical, raisins, banana, lemon, tea leaves
@champdenwhite White rum flavours hit at first with the deeper darker notes following a little later after it opens up. Touches of Pineapple within the tropical overall fruit.
@kizzsmyth: Not as smooth on the palate as the grain. Tropical tho, pineapple and mango... held together with a dollop of dark treacle
@MCRWhiskyClub: Cajun Squirrel pie, hot from the oven. Just-Roll puff sweet puff pastry top
b7ryn: Palate - pear and pepper ice cream. Goes quickly, and leaves cola ice-poles lingering for ages. It delivers!!
PWulf: Taste: Sweet and banana skids (Toffee with banana taste). Some harshness at the end that elevates the taste."
@MasterOfMalt: Yep. Palate lives up to the nose. Very good. Not just clever branding (although it is *also* clever branding).

Whisky Discovery #660

Teeling 21 Year Old Silver Reserve (46% abv)
Irish Single Malt Whiskey
circa £137.00 70cl
Whisky Discovery
Containing some of the oldest Single Malt Irish whiskey ever bottled. This Silver Reserve bottling consists of 21 Year Old Irish whiskey distilled in 1991 and matured firstly in Bourbon casks then allowed to marry in Sauternes wine casks to provide a truly unique Irish whiskey taste experience. 

Consisting of only hand selected casks chosen for their distinctive taste qualities this small batch bottling is limited to just 5,000 bottles.

So What Did We Think?
Kat said: This is much richer and I was finding notes of cold wet leaf mulch, it's much more earthy. Amongst the earthiness there are dried fruit notes; apricots, sweet tamarind, and dates. At the time I tweeted "It smells like I'm in the old wardrobe amongst the fur coats, waiting to walk through to Narnia" After a little while in the glass (we often spend a long time nosing before we're allowed to taste at Steve's Tweet Tastings!) I was finding cedar wood (hence the wardrobe statement) rolling tobacco, linseed oil, baked bananas, and dark chocolate. This is so complex.

The initial taste is of toasted Pecan nuts and treacle tarts. There's a slight oily mouth feel to this silky smooth very pleasant dram. I loved the richer, maltier notes.The cedar wood found on the nose is there on the palate, spice with fresh chillies, and banana fritters following up.

Dave said: I found fragrant smoke in this immediately, but there's a ton of tropical fruits too. A very complex and constantly evolving nose with plenty to keep you occupied. Liquorice toffees, Thai style pineapple jam, a touch of green coconut and a certain earthiness and damp wood along with a faint linseed oil note struggling to get past the more dominant flavours. What a great nose this has! Returning to this after tasting all four the smokiness becomes much more apparent after leaving in the glass for a while.

This has a sweet entry, but much richer and creamier with hints of antique wood and baked pear. After the spices a fragrant tobacco note and dried papaya bringing back the tropical fruits. Unfortunately it's a little above my budget but so delicious, I need to find a better paying job!

So what did the others think?
@PWulf: Nose: children's feet and peat. Läkerol special lozenges. Wood and some boat tar."
@LRWhisky: A big dose of acetate initially, like Airfix glue. Quite herby after that.

@Girl_Whisky: Pineapple, salty, pepper, antique wax, red fruit, cherries, coconut, complex
@CHampdenWhite1: Very fruity nose, sweet and tropical, hints of pineapple with a salty kicker
@MasterOfMalt: Epic nose. Tropical Fruit, and a bit more tropical fruit? Pineapple.
@EdinburghWhisky: Ginger sponge, custard creams and vanilla top hats. It's all the party treats.
@b7ryn: Nose - top drawer (literally). getting a bit of 50's g-plan furniture I just bought. Maturity, class and distinction.
@eimearocarroll: "Wet dog (but a nice 1), leather, smoky like an old Irish man's tweed jacket, tinned mackerel
@thomas_speller: The palate is quite complex too; sweet rubber apricot clover honey and a struck match… wow.
@SteveRascal: Flavours shifting from soft and sweet to earthen spice. Nut in there too, like a bag of nuts and raisins.
@AlpacaJo: The palate is more pipe smoke than camp-fire. Smooth and lingering, almost as if you can taste the age in the smoke.
@ansgarspeller: That dark Indonesian cake with spices in it, oranges, and dried fruit, mint, chocolate
@MCRWhiskyClub: Palate - Cherry tobacco notes, home made mincemeat and peach tin syrup

Whisky Discovery #661

Teeling 26 Year Old Gold Reserve (46% abv)
Irish Single Malt Whiskey
circa £00.00 70cl
Whisky Discovery

Our finale dram was a very special exclusive preview of: the not yet released Teeling 26 Year Old Single Malt (Gold Reserve). Again some of the oldest Single Malt Irish whiskey ever bottled consisting of 26 Year Old Irish whiskey distilled in 1987 and matured firstly in Bourbon casks then finished in White Burgundy Casks.

We weren't told when this will be released, how much it will be or how many bottles would be available but you can bet it'll be way above my station!

So What Did We Think?
Kat said: The initial tasting note I jotted down was  milk gum sweets! I was specifically picking up the dusty sugar coating and some wax, I think its Carnauba wax. After a little while a slightly tart rhubarb crumble note develops and there's also a umami quality too it. Again this slowly evolves as it wakes up; Almonds and bruised lemon grass, a  hint of woodiness, but fragrant and light, multi seeded toast aromas. Another complex dram.

The palate is full of soft fruits, and at last I found the strawberries everyone (particularly Dad) had been picking up. There's also red currents and raspberries. It's creamy like porridge oats with soft fruits drizzled with clear honey but very light and delicate. Once mentioned I found my Mum's fresh home-made coconut milk, but more kept coming; wax crayons, anise and a hint of lavender.  A fascinating sneak preview to a very complex Irish Single Malt Whiskey 

Dave said: A fabulously complex and constantly changing nose. It starts off soft and sweet dram with the characteristic flavours of an 'age matured malt'; Marzipan, almonds, waxed lemons, a soft gingery spice and floral notes, rose petal like hidden behind. The strawberry notes I have found in each of these four Teeling Whiskies is there too along with tinned lychee.  A cornucopia of dried tropical fruits follows; papaya, pineapple, mango and coconut. This nose is divine and could happily nose it for hours and I could immediately tell this 26 Year Old is sadly going to be way beyond my budget. 

The palate too is divine and the tropical fruit theme continues, but more of a fruit salad sweetie taste. It also packs a little more of a punch than the 21 Year Old coming across quite spicy for a little while before settling down and the fruit returns, continuing the strawberry theme too.

So what did the others think?
@champdenwhite: Wasn't expecting this: Toasty notes of the wood working with the chardonnay, almost as if it were a big fat Meursault
@MCRWhiskyClub: Nose - Apple sponge cake, a freshly sanded and waxed oak table. Beeswax candles and lots of clementine, cream and spice
@Dr4key: Nose; Explosion in a fruit warehouse, felt pens and marzipan.
@TheSmokyDram: Rocky and pebbly beach with a fine sea spray over it. Granny smith apples, marzipan, waxiness and some creamy spiciness
@HMcnee: Sweet, honey, fruit arrival delicate, mouth coating experience very different from the 21 Year Old Tastes superb!
@eimearocarroll: Palate as elegant as the nose. Sweet, floral, delicate (but with a bite). Fab example of how awesome Irish whiskey can be.
@EdinburghWhisky: Palate: Feisty for being 26 but that is no bad thing. Strawberries, fresh hay from the fields. Lovely.
@msykesjones: Palate - Wow stunning! smooth rich mouth feel, creamy on on to dried fruits, sweet honey and spice
@whiskybars: Hint of liquorice, Turkish delight, fruit crumble and rose petals. Really beautiful on the nose! So delicate, pineapple, desiccated coconut, baked raspberry tart. What a treat

And finally....
A massive THANK YOU to Steve Rush at @TheWhiskyWire, Stephen Teeling and the team at @TeelingWhiskeyC and of course the tweet tasters who were:

@TheWhiskyWire @TeelingWhiskeyC @StephenTeeling @LRWhisky @EdinburghWhisky @MasterOfMalt @WhiskyDiscovery @champdenwhite @WorldWhiskyDay @HMcnee @eimearocarroll @Alpacajo @kizzsmyth @SohoWhiskyClub @WhiskyDiscovKat @msykesjones @MCRWhiskyClub @b7ryn @SteveRascal @Dr4key @irishbeersnob @thomas_speller @PWulf  @Girl_Whisky @TheSmokyDram @DH17slijterij @whiskybars

For more information see: and

Slàinte! Dave

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Five from Old Pulteney

Whisky Reviews
I was invited to a Twitter Tasting of the recently launched 1990 Vintage. The 1990 Vintage was the finale dram of the evening, and a sample of their Navigator and 12 Year Old started the tasting. Whilst I downloaded all the tweets at the time, I never got around to posting anything on the blog. 

Then while I was polishing off the last of the Old Pulteney 17 and 21 Year Old, two earlier whisky discoveries, I thought I would pull them all together in one post, running through the three core expressions and finishing with the newer releases

Old Pulteney
Founded in 1826 by James Henderson at the height of Wick's celebrated herring boom, the Pulteney Distillery is one of the most northerly on the British mainland.

At a time when road links to the town were yet to be established, the distillery was dependent on the sea for its supply of barley and for the shipping out of its malt whisky. Wick became known for the barrels of silver (herring) and gold (whisky) which left the port in vast numbers.

The distillery itself has an absorbing history, with its unique stills defying convention to this day. The wash still, in particular, is a source of fascination to visitors due to the absence of a 'swan neck'. Legend has it that when the still was delivered it was too tall for the still house and the manager simply decided to cut the top off! The Old Pulteney bottle now incorporates a bulbous neck to reflect the shape of the stills.

Over time, the distillery has passed through the hands of various owners, and even closed during times of trouble for the industry in 1930. Luckily, the repeal of an often forgotten period of prohibition in 1947 saw the welcome resumption of whisky production, with the distillery changing ownership a number of times, before its purchase by Inver House Distillers in 1995. Throughout this history what has endured is the quality of the whisky. Traditional craftsmanship and the distillery's windswept location continue to contribute to the award-winning whisky that is Old Pulteney Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

Whisky Discovery #25

Old Pulteney 12 Year Old (40% abv)
Highland Single Malt

circa £30.00 70 cl
Whisky Reviews
The Old Pulteney 12 Year Old was one of my early purchases, bought in the first year of my whisky journey (in fact it was my official November 2011 purchase) I had been recommended to try it and the 21 Year Old had just been named as Jim Murray's whisky of the year in his 2012 bible.

Matured wholly in air-dried, hand-selected ex-bourbon casks, and is said to be a classic Northern Highland coastal single malt, and is one of the best sellers in the United Kingdom. I have recommended this to a number of non-whisky drinking friends over the past couple of years and it has always been well received.

Part of Old Pulteney's complexity comes from traditional worm tub condensation which leaves the spirit heavy and flavoursome, but the unusual shape of the stills has a tremendous impact on the style too. In this tweet tasting the 12 Year Old was the second dram of the evening, following the Navigator, so notes reflect thoughts after tasting that.

So What Did I Think?
After the Navigator this immediately felt richer and more mature. Apples were the dominant fruit note, but softer, browning chopped apples as opposed to fresh, along with some green banana. and grassy notes. Soft sweetness of brown sugar and a hint of the sea with some brine.

On the palate opens with a citrus note initially which this quickly turns malty with those rich soft apples with a honeyed sweetness, a hint of aniseed and a zesty peppery tang towards the end. An easy-drinking malt that offers a complex array of flavours, and features in many whisky enthusiasts top 'bang-for-your-buck lists.

What did the others think?
@chrismiles303: The 12 is such a dependable dram. It is a very easy sipper and it mixes well with soda water! Very versatile.
@TheWhiskyKiwi: Definitely honey on the nose. Manuka honey from NZ in fact. Slight grassy notes in the background as well
@Jamie_Rowley: This has a lovely, dare I say it, winter warming nose. Rich fruits and a hint of dark chocolate.
@BarryMBradford: Nose, toffee, salted caramel, honey, faint apples and fresh oranges little yeasty dough mmmm....
@ZacHFX : Wow that's a lot of honey. Powerful on the nose, even for 40% ABV. Only barely kept in check by seagrass.
@rodbodtoo: An easy, sweet, honey and apple whisky (specifically, apples which were cut an hour ago - a little brown)
@SCOTTDOGG11: Like the first whiff of coastal air in spring, get your face in the fruit bowl and enjoy
@bumpythechemist: Sweet pear drops, pepper spice and salt on the palate

@JohnnieStumbler: This needs no water at all. Big, bold flavours but not overpowering. Honey, brine and a hint of apple strudel.

@mynameisgone: The palate is nice and full, fruits apple (pie filling), creamy toffee, light gingery spiciness and creamy
@Jamie_Rowley: Starting to get a slight peppery and smokey finish to this, lovely taste
@HMcnee: Fruity sweet, maybe some dried fruit in there as well and that bit of salt
@ben_cops: Body - rich malt and toffee arrival, replaced sharply with wood bitterness and a bit more orchard fruit

Whisky Discovery #57

Old Pulteney 17 Year Old (46% abv)
Highland Single Malt
circa £60.00 70 cl

Whisky Reviews
The 17-year-old predominantly features ex-bourbon maturation, with the addition of spirit that has been wholly matured in Spanish wood ex-sherry casks, predominantly Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso. This adds a subtle depth and complexity to the whisky, making for an outstanding after-dinner drink.

I first tasted this at Whisky Live London 2012 but have returned to it many times since. This was not part of the Tweet Tasting this time but checking back through the blog realised that whilst it had been clearly registered on the liquid log, no notes had ever been posted, so just my notes for this expression

So What Did I Think?
This has a rich rounded and very inviting nose; Fruity, spicy and with a hint of sea salt. There's beach dried seaweed and just a whiff of a fragrant smoke in the background. After a little while the glass is filled with the aroma of vanilla with malty citrus notes and toffee apples.

In the mouth it's deliciously smooth and oily. While sweet initially a peppery spice builds before caramelised apples and a grapefruit pith dryness follows. There is just a touch of that fragrant smoke coming through too. The finish is quite spicy with ginger and a chilli heat.

The empty glass the following morning (I cover the glasses up before heading to bed, usually with a business card weighted down with a pebble, to retain the aromas for a pre-breakfast treat) smells malty and woody, young green wood.

Whisky Discovery #58

Old Pulteney 21 Year Old (46% abv)
Highland Single Malt
circa £80.00 70 cl
Whisky Reviews
As with the 17-year-old, with this expression is a marriage of spirit matured in ex-bourbon wood with spirit from ex-sherry wood casks. The crucial difference, however, is that the ex-sherry wood in this case is made from American Oak (mostly Fino sherries). This adds yet another layer of complexity, depth and character to this truly superb malt whisky.

Again, first tasted this at Whisky Live London 2012 and have returned to it many times since.This was the Old Pulteney I so wanted to taste after reading about it in Jim Murray's 2012 bible. This was not part of the Tweet Tasting this time but checking back through the blog realised that whilst it had been clearly registered on the liquid log, no notes had ever been posted, so just my notes for this expression

So What Did I Think?
A fabulous nose and much richer and more rounded than the 17 Year Old, the sherry casks adding depth and sophistication. The extra maturing years show to giving that 'old wood' smell with linseed and a slight floral fragrance too. Again lots of fruity notes here

Another beautifully smooth mouth feel, richer well seasoned wood, waxy honeycomb, caramelised pineapple, with a touch of liquorice at the very end.

The following morning the empty glass is again malty and woody as the 17 but the wood is now well seasoned and there is a nice touch of rich dark chocolate.

Whisky Discovery #637

Old Pulteney Navigator NAS (46% abv)
Highland Single Malt
circa £47.00 70 cl
Whisky Reviews
The Navigator is a maritime malt aged in a mix of ex-sherry and bourbon casks in celebration of the distillery's history with the ocean and the old sea dogs that sail it. Bottled at a respectable 46% abv. it's quite young spirit matured in American oak. There is also a small number of sherry casks that have been used to mature Navigator but the influence shouldn't be too strong.

So What Did I Think?
The nose opens with sweet malted grains. It's a little chalky/slate-like, dry. Fruit notes come in the form of of green apples and white grapes. Spice follows with black pepper and after a little while in the glass, sweetening with vanilla creams while remaining fresh and a little zesty. Returning to it after nosing and tasting the 12 Year Old it came across much younger with 'new make' notes picked out.

The palate is quite rich and creamy and feels full bodied, but you can taste some younger spirit in here. There's sweet herbal green woody notes with spicy pepper towards the end leaving some citrus pith dryness, a touch of salt and a little more zest at the end.

What did the others think?
@alembic_tweets: Nose: sweet cereal, fresh vanilla, cotton candy, lemon zest.
@steveprentice: Nose: Malt, slight coastalness, and a kind of burnt slightly mucky rich fruit note, sweet, toffee, kinda yummy!
@BarryMBradford: Nose, Sweet vanilla, toffee apples, a little sandalwood & cereal malt
@Stu_Mackenzie: Lovely sweet toffee and vanilla coming through on the nose
@Jamie_Rowley: Light and fresh to start with but becoming warmer with a lot of toffee flavours coming through on the nose.
@TheWhiskyKiwi: Dare I say the nose is a bit spirity and malty due to it'd youth. Slight citrus notes in the background too
@chrismiles303: Very florally to me as well - like a garden in bloom - that perfumey element someone mentioned there.
@mynameisgone: Palate, a cream toffee sweetness but edged with a lovely warming spiciness, some lovely citrus notes as well.
@JohnnieStumbler: On the palate it's young and a little hot. It doesn't quite live up to the nose. Tasted blind, I'd never guess Old Pulteney
@dvdbloke: Watered - Nose Some sweet shop floral coming through, Icing Sugar, Liquorice, More fruit, apple going on citrus.
@bumpythechemist: Shortish finish, the spice fades but is still salty and lemony
@Saunders_AFC: Short finish, spice disappears quickly and the citrus stick around for a few more seconds

Whisky Discovery #638

Old Pulteney 1990 Vintage (46% abv)
Highland Single Malt
circa £120.00 70 cl

Whisky Review

The whisky used for this limited edition 1990 Vintage Old Pulteney was matured in American ex-bourbon casks and Spanish ex-sherry casks which previously held heavily peated whisky. This maturation has given the single malt Scotch whisky an extra dimension to its flavour profile, with a buoyant smokiness that is seen in lightly peated whiskies. The phenolic influence isn't too strong but there is just enough of it to make it a little bit different

The 1990 Vintage is bottled at 46%, non chill-filtered and at its natural colour Just 900 cases (that's 5,400 bottles) are being made available in key markets around the world.

So What Did I Think?

A fabulous nose and the first thing that grabbed me was some fragrant pipe smoke in the background, it's not overpowering or even in forefront of the nose, but it was the note that lured me in. It's rich and very interesting, giving rich over-ripe fruits, spiced apple, soft plums and a 'figgy' rich fruit cake mix, raisins, a malty bread dough and vanilla essence. There's those 'well aged' whisky notes too with some linseed putty, and then there's that fragrant smoke and a little earthiness

Palate; Leathery over-ripe fruits and a gentle fragrant tobacco note Lovely sipping whisky and a great long leathery smoky finish, the peated cask making it's presence known with the earthy peat notes right at the every end.

What did the others think?

@steveprentice: Nose is great, old notes that do it well, some nuttiness, pinch of salt & dollop of malt with some red toffee apple
@WindsorBeerFest: On the nose: A waft of smoke, cinder toffee
@dvdbloke: Nose - big nose - smoke, leafy bonfires, honey, orange, vanilla, raisin, chocolate, nice perfumed elements, some fruitcake mix going on, a little eucalyptus maybe?
@BarryMBradford: Nose; Orange, peach, toffee, salt, smoke, sour dough - like Herman cake
@chrismiles303: Getting some rose notes - mix that up with the chocolate to get fry's turkish delight.
@mynameisgone: Nose smoke, chocolate, something earthy/herbal i can't quite identify, again the sweetness and fruit notes
@TheWhiskyKiwi: Needing to let it breathe some more. Nose is developing. getting a slight hint of smoke now. Very subtle
@ZacHFX A: A light nuttiness, too. Freshly cracked walnuts in an old wooden bowl. 

@dvdbloke: Palate - very sweet peat influences, citrus tartness, soft fruits, vanilla, earthiness coming through late development
@rodbodtoo: This is super sweet and a little smoky. Reminds me of lentil soup with a ham hough (the savoury note, y'see)
@Macdeffe: A real sipper. Slow drink. Drop by drop. Juicy. Honey. Sweet fruits. Good mix of sherry and bourbon. Sweet red fruits, Sugared raspberry and vanilla
@bumpythechemist: This has a thick palate - sweet subtle peat and sherry flavours 
@HMcnee: Palate is very salty, peat smoke but not peaty as in the Islay sense very smooth and no water needed
@BarryMBradford: Oooh! a drop of water and smoke comes rolling out, very mellow and toffee & honey too, yum!
@Saunders_AFC: Very nice smokey finish. Very nice. This is not like me, liking smokey whisky
@SCOTTDOGG11: This stuff is dancing on my tongue, sweet smoke warm relax.

And Finally..
There was unanimous appreciation for the 1990 Vintage, it is a cracking dram. However I wasn't the only one who thought perhaps the price was a little higher than it should have been. Is is worth £40.00 more than the excellent 21 Year Old? I'm sorely tempted but always struggle justifying spending over £100 for a bottle of whisky. if it had been a little closer to the £100 mark I might have gone for it, 

I wasn't overly impressed with the Navigator, there's nothing wrong with it but preferred the richer, fuller 12 Year Old on the day. The 12 Year Old is a great value for money dram, especially as it's available at most supermarkets and has been seen down to just £22.00 a bottle, I cannot walk past it at that! Out of the two older expressions the 21 Year Old wins it for me, and at around £80.00 a bottle is much easier for me to fit in my whisky budget.

Thanks to the team at Old Pulteney for sending me the samples of the Navigator, 1990 Vintage and for reminding me how good the 12 Year Old is. And it's a farewell to my older vintages as the 17 and 21 are no longer with me, but I'll be sure to keep looking our for them at Whisky Shows, and I'm fairly certain I'll be looking for a good deal on a replacement 21 Year Old soon.

Slàinte! Dave

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Aberlour Tweet Tasting

Whisky Discovery
I was really pleased to be invited to the Aberlour Tweet Tasting at the beginning of December. Checking my liquid log revealed that just one Aberlour expression had been visited in over 650 different whiskies. It was high time I discovered more!

Aberlour (pronounced ‘Abba-LOW-errr’) single malt whisky is named after where it’s made. It means ‘the mouth of the chattering burn’ in Gaelic, and this wild mountain stream is part of the Aberlour story. Steeped in centuries of legend and surrounded by the dramatic Highland scenery of Ben Rinnes, the village of Aberlour lies at the very heart of Speyside, where the Lour burn joins the River Spey.

The distillery was founded by Peter Weir and James Gordon in 1826, though Peter was to pull out a year later. The distillery has been rebuilt twice due to devastating fire damage; the first rebuild took place in 1879 and was financed by James Fleming, a local banker who relocated it upstream. It was rebuilt again in 1898 and was redesigned by the architect Charles Doig. Now owned by Chivas Brothers, a subsidiary of Pernod Ricard, Aberlour is the seventh best-selling Scotch single malt.
Whisky Discovery
A Monday night Tweet Tasting was arranged  for the 2nd December and at a slightly later than usual start time of 7:30pm Five core expressions were tasted, each being a new Whisky Discovery.

Whisky Discovery #654

Aberlour 12 Year Old Double Cask Matured (43% abv)
Speyside Single Malt Whisky
Circa £36.00 70cl
Whisky Discovery
This expression is a fine example of how the distinctively crisp, citrus character of Aberlour’s raw spirit is deftly softened by double cask maturation. Oak and seasoned Sherry butts are both used, as the mellowed spirits within are combined to deliver a subtly balanced flavour. Aberlour’s uniquely rewarding depth of character derives from how it’s made as much as the quality of the soft spring water and the other ingredients.

So What Did I Think?
Nice rich fruity nose, Over-ripe orchard fruits, dried orange peel and vanilla notes with a touch of mint too. After a little while in the glass a soft malty note develops along with some caramelised banana. Well that was the notes I tweeted during the tweet tasting, but with 5cl samples I held some back for returning to later. With a fresh glass poured I concur with my original notes but seem to be finding rich butterscotch notes now, the hard candy butterscotch as opposed to the sweet sickly Angel Delight type.

Palate: Not quite as rich as the nose was suggesting on first taste. Light and quite thin though enjoyable Vanilla icecream with raisins and a touch of cinnamon. Milk chocolate notes follow immediately after swallowing, this is very soft and very drinkable. Returning to nose after the first sip, those milk chocolate notes start to come through here to. The finish is  really quite short, but I must admit i wasn't expecting an 'all night finish' purely on the initial mouth-feel. There's a gentle spicy tang with a hint of cloves in caramel.

Returning to the empty glass in the morning lots of lovely dark chocolate powder notes are clearly identifiable.

What Did Everyone Else Think?
@Girl_Whisky: Nuts … caramel, lovely sweetness on the nose, flowers, banana , burned wood, pepperish
@whiskyrepublic: I'm getting hints of cherry and white ever so slight menthol note...nice
@whiskycast: Figs and honey, touches of dried apricots, vanilla, and a hint of almond on the nose.
@malthound: Nose: sweet, citrus, hint of apple
@TheWhiskyLounge: Light breakfast marmalade, touch caramel, quite fresh floral, boiled sweets, plain flour, orange cordial.
@annCBScotch: Delicious intriguing aromas of autumnal fruits show the best of both bourbon and sherry casks. Red fruits in the new spirit have been transformed by 12 years in double casks to a deep velvety creamy experience
@TheWhiskyWire: Sherry trifle topped with sliced bananas on the nose. A tin of boiled condensed milk and even more bananas, banoffee pie anyone?
@TonyWTC: Taste: Incredibly smooth sherry and galaxy chocolate at first, then ginger spice and wood. Quite drying
@ScotMaltWhisky: Palate, creamy toffee, ginger, cinnamon, marmalade some oak spice
@galg: Dried fruit goodness here with a lot of sherry effect, yet it's quite gentle, it's not in your face kind of sherry

Whisky Discovery #655

Aberlour 16 Year Old Double Cask Matured (43% abv)
Speyside Single Malt Whisky
Circa £45.00 70cl
Whisky Discovery
Matured in a combination of ex-bourbon casks and ex-sherry butts, and bottled a reasonable 43% abv

So What Did I Think?
Richer and darker than the 12 Year Old, showing more sherry influence perhaps? Similar over-ripe fruit notes, perhaps more stewed-like, apples/pears, with a slight sourness and a touch of waxy furniture polish. After a little while a definite cinnamon pastry note develops followed by some plasticine/pay-doh like notes before returning to a malty fruit compote with sultanas and sugary dates.

The richer colour and nose continues onto the palate with a more fuller mouth feel, remaining soft and fruity but feeling a little more like the nose than the 12 Year Old. Quite a rich woody flavour to the tinned pear notes which turns malty and then drying tannins at the fairly shortish finish.

Again the empty glass emirate rich dark chocolate notes the following morning, this on reminding me of a bar of Bournville rather than chocolate powder, and there are more well seasoned lumber notes.

What Did Everyone Else Think?

@themaltedmuse: Less sweetness here but still holds subtlety on the nose. more dry spice on the taste and finish plus some peppered cayenne
@summerfruitcup: Nose - rhubarb, more dry floral notes, backed up by warm caramel and custard.
@EdinburghWhisky: Nose: Milk chocolate, bit of honey. slightly nutty, Touch of pear. Think I prefer the 1st nose
@petedrinks: Has much more sherry presence; raisins, toffee, a darker sweetness than the 12 Year Old
@whiskycast: Nose; good spices, raisin bread, cinnamon, nutmeg, hint of pine needles, honey and figs.
@whiskyrepublic: Nose - A more sumptuous colour than the 12 Year Old, Lovely arc on the legs, pungent fruits, feels like it's holding something back
@steveprentice: Palate: Immediately you get oak on the palate, maybe more than the nose would lead you to imagine, it's a fairly fresh sawdust sweet oak followed on by barley malt and then the sweet green apple freshness you found when nosing.
@LRWhisky: Palate - quite buttery, honey, butter shortcrust pastry, pain au raisin, spicy, some pepper, sherry 
@ScotMaltWhisky: Palate is mildly sweet and floral. Sweet grape, gentle spice, nutty, stewed plum, vanilla 
@kristianehenney: Palate; Nuttier than I was expecting. But I did just eat a cashew. Also raisins, definitely sherry undertones, I think cumin
@JamesBrownisms: Ooh tingly tongue that leaves plum, oak and spice lingering. Delicious.

Whisky Discovery #656

Aberlour A'Bunadh - Batch 45 (60.2% abv)
Speyside Single Malt Whisky
Circa £40.00 70cl
Whisky Discovery
A’Bunadh is made in homage to Aberlour’s founder, James Fleming, using only traditional methods without chill filtration or other modern processes. Gaelic for ‘of the origin’, A'Bunadhmis matured exclusively in Oloroso ex-sherry butts and bottled at natural cask-strength. With each batch carefully made by hand this is a unique cask strength whisky has achieved cult status among whisky connoisseurs.

So What Did I Think?
A'Bunadh is the only Aberlour on my liquid log to date. I've still got the last couple of drams of Batch 37 and you can find out what I thought of that here: A'bunadh Batch 37 This immediately brought back memories of that big meaty, punchy dram. 

The A'Bunadh has a fabulous nose, and being cask strength, quite punchy initially, but hold fast this has fabulous notes of a rich and heavily sherried fruit cake, then there's liquorice, cloves with ginger. A'Bunadh, it was a great discovery when I first opened my Batch 37 and pleased to say I'm very much impressed with Batch 45

Even at 60.2% abv I really don't feel this A'Bunadh needs water, it sits majestically on the palate, with rich old fashioned dark marmalade flavours, candied orange peel in sticky Demarara sugar and leaves a cigar smoke like taste in the mouth.

The empty glass still has some of the signature chocolate notes, but this is much more malty and remains quite spicy too

What Did Everyone Else Think?
@petedrinks: A'bunadh is surprisingly gentle on the nose, given the cask strength. Was expecting the alcohol to blow my nose off
@Girl_Whisky: Sweet, soft, peppery, cucumber, caramel, onion, pizza, salty
@kristianehenney: Nose; Gorgeous orange. Full on Christmas pud, dark fruits, thick and silken, dark chocolate
@galg: Nose: lots and lots of dried fruit. an avalanche of sultanas, plums, prunes, varnish, acetone. OH MY. I love it.
@MCRWhiskyClub: Nose - A nostril tingling display of sherried raisins, medjool dates, cranberry sauce, star anise cinnamon and cacao nibs
@TheWhiskyWire: In infusion of winter spice, sweet sherry and something rather dunnage-esque on the nose.
@annCBScotch: Multi-layered or multi faceted - it shows so many rich dried fruits, spices dark chocolate nutty notes - delicious
@whiskywardrobe: Lovely palate with even more sherry fingerprint. So much leather, wood, vanilla and tobacco... I love it! 
@LucyJRichardson: Definitely getting xmas pud with Abunadh, followed by a slither of Terry's chocolate orange - yum! 
@ScotMaltWhisky: Pate - loads going on, thick treacle toffee sugars, orange, stewed plum, a nuttiness, spicy, honeyed, dark chocolate 
@themaltedmuse: Spiced rum, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, molasses but still find white chocolate an underlying creaminess that survives the abv 
@whiskyrepublic: Palate - I'm in a tanning factory (leather not UV), smoking cigars whilst crushing chocolate coated raisins with a plum 
@malthound: Short tannin finish with exploding spiciness!

Whisky Discovery #657

Aberlour 18 Year Old (43% abv)
Speyside Single Malt Whisky
Circa £99.00 70cl
Whisky Discovery
Matured in a combination of ex-bourbon casks and ex-sherry butts. The current whisky maker and his team are the same men who originally laid down the casks over 18 Years ago.

So What Did I Think?
The 18 Year Old has a rich and fruity nose with lots of chocolate immediately. There's notes of orange zest and over-ripe soft stone fruit; plums and peaches. There's also some great wood shop flavours, well seasoned lumber as well as polished wood. Spices are subdued, softer and melding together. Later notes gave rich caramelised and dried fruits; apricots in particular.

The mouth feel comes across as refined and luxurious. Smooth and gentle the chocolate comes across on the palate balanced with glorious rich sherried oak flavours, spiced fruits; orange and apricot and wood comes through as sawdust. The chocolate remains on the long finish, turning slightly bitter at the very end.

The empty glass is full of the chocolate notes the following morning too!

What Did Everyone Else Think?
@saraandthebear: Creme Caramel, rich and viscous and that's just the nose.

@themaltedmuse: Nose has nutmeg and wood but there is some pear drop and cut grass in there

@summerfruitcup: Nose - orange, a little sherbet, sherry and creamy vanilla.
@kristianehenney: Nose - oaky, apple, strawberry laces confectionery, and a green freshness, much more of a summer dram
@ScotMaltWhisky: Nose is fruity - orange, red apple, plum all coated in vanilla.
@Girl_Whisky: Nose: Citrus, smooth, cake, green, summer fruit, exotic fruit, coconut, yoghurt
@TheWhiskyWire: Typical sheer sherried and bourbon bounty of an Aberlour, just richer with a fleeting flounce of floral sweetness.
@jasonbstanding: Tastes of slightly burnt candied orange& makes me think of what I think madeira should taste like had I ever had it. 
@whiskyrepublic: Palate, smooth, well integrated, ripe fruits (apples and lychee?), sweet caramel and subtle cinnamon notes. Lovely dram 
@steveprentice: Palate: Richly smooth after the high ABV of the a'bunadh, the older age also helps, but don't be fooled, it builds to have some fairly good spices quite quickly, although they're tempered so as to not be too much. A slight ashy nature (from the cask?) which brings more gravitas to what becomes a gentle giant the longer you hold it on your tongue.
@whiskycast: Finish is full of toffee, lingering cinnamon, honey, nutmeg, and is very, very smooth.

Whisky Discovery #658

Aberlour 12 Year Old NCF (48% abv)
Speyside Single Malt Whisky
Circa £39.00 70cl
Whisky Discovery
An interesting variant on Aberlour's usual 12 year old whisky, not only changing the proportions of different whiskies that are used to make the expression, but also leaving it un-chillfiltered. This means that it retains the full body and flavour of the whisky from the cask, although it may go cloudy if water is added or it gets cold.

So What Did I Think?
This is a little punchier than the first 12 year old then I noticed the higher abv, however the initial flavours follow the distillery profile too,  but in addition this seems to have a little white pepper dusted over the citrus zest. The underlying sweetness keeps pushing through and there's a fresh woody note with wood shavings and almonds

The non-chill filtratiuon gives this dram a really lovely mouth coating experience, it feels so much much thicker than the standard 12 Year Old giving a rich mouth-feel which I found to be best of the evening in that respect. There's a zesty peppery start while remaining rich and creamy; orange marmalade notes develop along sweet honey.

What Did Everyone Else Think?
@summerfruitcup: Softer cereal notes, almost milky, but then there's a hint of peat that's caught me off-guard
@whiskycast: Nose is almonds, figs, Christmas cake, honey, and a touch of orange peel.
@themaltedmuse: Again with the rich colour nose wood polish honey roasted walnuts hint of nutmeg and just a smudge go black pepper
@whiskyrepublic: Nose: All the Aberlour traits emerging....the 48% abv adding pungency, sherry, figs, maybe a hint of smoke perhaps
@jasonbstanding: Definitely no shrinking violet. Almost as prickly as the A'bunadh is (now).
@whiskywardrobe: Nose is quite nice and refreshing after so many sherried whiskies. It looks older than 12 years old
@petedrinks: Nose is smooth, with red fruit - raspberry yoghurt but with something spicier at the finish
@whiskydr: Welcome back you essential oils where have you been all this time, fantastic dram here, left in glass for 10 mins 
@JamesBrownisms: Nose: dark fruit jam, like the kind a grandma makes up north 
@ScotMaltWhisky: Palate. A touch of barley sweetness mingling with the mild sherry fruitiness. Creamy toffee, spicier with each mouthful 
@WhiskyIsrael: I love the mouthfeel on this one oily and spicy, quite some pepper and spice. It's intense! 
@kristianehenney: Much more peppery and spicy than I expected on the palate. But also fresher fruit. Honeydew melon and apple

And finally....
My first real visit to the single malts of Aberlour registering a full five out of five new Whisky Discoveries for the liquid log. A'Bunadh, I hear is a bit hit and miss for some people. I've only tried just the two batches, and the following evening I put them head to head, both good for me, but Batch 45 won for me. I loved the mouth-feel of the 12 Year Old NCF and prefer that to the standard 12 Year Old and would happily have either/both the 16 and 18 Year Old expressions on my shelf! A visit to the Aberlour Distillery is definitely on my list of 'things to do'.

A massive THANK YOU to Steve Rush at @TheWhiskyWire, to @annCBScotch and the team at the Aberlour Distillery and of course the tweet tasters who were:

@TheWhiskyWire @WhiskyWardrobe @EdinburghWhisky @LaCaveDeCobalt @LRWhisky @malthound @steveprentice @summerfruitcup @themaltedmuse @whiskybarrel @TheWhiskyBoys @TonyWTC @ifotou @whiskycast @whiskydr @Girl_Whisky @jasonbstanding @WhiskyDiscovery @galg @TheWhiskyLounge @petedrinks @MCRWhiskyClub @WhiskyRepublic @KristianeHenney @andrew1bardsley @ScotMaltWhisky

For more information see: and