Thursday, 31 March 2016

Glencadam, two new releases

Early in February, I received an email from Angus Dundee Distillers telling me about some new releases from The Glencadam and asking if I'd like some samples. Of course, we love emails like this, especially as we've really had little exposure to this distillery. Checking the liquid log, just two listed; the first was from a 'Drinks by the Dram' Advent Calendar back in 2013 when I was treated to a sample of their 21 Year Old. The only other expression was a superb single cask release from retailer and independent bottler Abbey Whisky, with a sample from their ‘Rare Casks’ series 22 Year Old

The Glencadam Distillery
Once again I had to turn to Malt Whisky Yearbook to find out a little more about the Glencadam Distillery. Located in Brechin, the Eastern Highlands, a region once known for its whisky smuggling past, whisky production has been decimated in recent years with the closures of North Port, Glenesk (Hillside) and Lochside distilleries. Just Fettercairn and Glencadam have survived, and apart from a short period between 2000 and 2003. The Glencadam Distillery seems to have been in continuous operation since it was founded in 1825. Angus Dundee Distillers bought the distillery in 2003 (they also own the Tomintoul Distillery) and its capacity of 1.3 million litres per year puts it at the same size as the Ardbeg and Scapa distilleries.

Michael Jackon’s Malt Whisky Companion tells us that the ‘House Style’ is; Creamy with a suggestion of berry fruits, and recommends that this is enjoyed with dessert, or after dinner
A few weeks after the original email was received, a wee package arrived, beautifully presented, with two small samples of their latest releases, and one evening towards the end of the month I sat down and enjoyed these two new Whisky Discoveries
Whisky Discovery No.1589

Glencadam Origin 1825 NAS 40% abv
Highland Single Malt
Circa £30.00 70cl
First out of the box was the recently released Glencadam Origin 1825 the first No Age Statement whisky that the distillery has launched. We’re told from the Press Release that a very special collection of casks was chosen, with the final selection consisting of a unique marriage of whisky matured in first-class American white-oak bourbon barrels with whisky “finished” in the finest Spanish Oloroso Sherry butts. 

So What Did I Think?
The nose has a creamy buttery feel to it with sweet floral notes alongside melting vanilla ice-cream. Hints of tangerine start to come through a little later. On the palate, it’s soft and light with a creamy fruitiness finishing with gentle spices and hints of cinnamon. The sweet fruit remains to the very end which turns a little dry.

So the ‘marketing speak’ was perhaps a little nonsense as Scotch whisky can’t be ‘unique’! Firstly the SWA (Scotch Whisky Association) have strict rules of what can be and what can’t be done with maturing Scotch whisky. Secondly, American ex-bourbon barrels and Oloroso Sherry butts have been the norm for way longer than I’ve been drinking whisky!

I must admit I was immediately sceptical of another average NAS whisky launch but much to my delight, I was pleasantly surprised by this new release. Whilst not overly challenging, this is a very pleasant, dare I say it, ‘entry level dram’ and while it is a no-age-statement whisky they’ve decided to pitch it at a price point that reflects its position in the full range rather than ‘have our eyes out!

The original press release was dated October 2015, but I’ve not seen it on general sale from the on-line retailers yet and I tried to revisit it at Whisky Live London recently and it was unavailable here too.

Whisky Discovery No.1590

Glencadam 25 Year Old 46% abv
Highland Single Malt
Circa £250.00 70cl
The second sample was of their soon to be released 25 Year Old, with the press release describing this to be a limited release of just 1600 bottles with each bottle individually numbered. Master Distiller, Robert Fleming, deemed that the time was right to bottle the whisky at 25 years of age when the combination of exciting flavour notes such as sweet malt, exotic fruit and mixed nuts had reached a wonderful balance. 

So What Did I Think?
The nose was simply glorious! I’d only received a small sample but wanted this to last forever! Its maturity was instantly apparent with those ‘old malt’ notes. It wasn’t particularly sweet, but the light fruity notes picked up on the Origin were evident. This too was a delight on the palate. Creamy, light and wonderfully fragrant and gently spiced while ‘old malt’ notes of polished oak hinted at its vintage. 

I really loved this vintage release, and while it was just a small sample I sat and savoured this for as long as I could resist draining the glass. £250 is a great deal of money to spend on a bottle of whisky, and it’s certainly not something I consider on a regular basis, but I try to put it into context. There are 14 ‘healthy’ drams in each bottle (a single is rarely enough!) so think of it as 14 instalments for 14 special evenings over a period of time of your choice. I tried to revisit this at Whisky Live London recently too, but sadly it hadn’t travelled down with the team.

Want to find out more? You can find Glencadam on-line here and across social media with FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Slàinte! Dave

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Women in Whisky Lunch 2016

As mentioned earlier, March has been really busy, both in our day jobs and with the amount of whisky events we've attended. Kat even managed to squeeze a short trip to Scotland into our packed schedules.

To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8th of March, Geraldine Murphy part of the famous whisky pub, The Pot Still, of Glasgow and founder of the women’s only whisky club The Pot Stills Whisky Girls held, what has become a new tradition, a Women in Whisky Lunch.

As soon as I saw the tickets go on sale, I booked myself to go. The lunch was held in the beautiful Grand Central Hotel which is situated right next to Glasgow's Central train station. The hotel was built in the Victorian times in the Queen Anne style, which has been renovated sympathetically, keeping many of the period features. I absolutely adored the character of this place. A great feature was a row of windows in one of the hallways where you look directly into the station. I admired the juxtaposition of the old ornate Victorian window frames fixed in view and seeing the rush of modern life outside.
The Grand Central Hotel from inside the station building
It was a truly international affair. On my table was the food & drinks writer Rosemary Moon, two ladies from Switzerland, and a group of ladies from Pernod Richard including Chivas Regal Brand Ambassador Lauren Mustard who brought along the new no age statement Longmorn.
This was great easy drinking dram, especially pairing well with the trio of dessert that was served with lunch. 
Two of the fabulous desserts (photos courtesy of Crystal Coverdale)
Before we heard from the industry’s key speakers we were introduced to the chosen charity Say Women, a local charity run by volunteers who offer help and support to vulnerable young women between the ages of 16 – 25 who have experienced childhood sexual abuse, rape or sexual assault. This includes finding safe accommodation, teaching & providing financial advice, through to counselling. The aim of the charity is to help give these women gain their confidence so they can have the right to choose their own positive path in life without living in fear.

In the UK it’s common to hear that demand for small charities like Say Women exists due to a lack of services being offered by the NHS or other local government. In Glasgow, it’s no different, very tragic considering whisky is a major export of Scotland, and many of these women grew up with alcoholic parents, which is the reason why they seek help. I feel it highlights an area that the drinks industry as a whole can do more to help.

With all the money raised from the event going to the charity, it was nice to see that under whisky, a positive light was shining through to show a different side of the drinks industry, and making a positive impact. As we were waiting to hear from two women where the whisky has changed their lives in a good way, hope that some of the vulnerable women might also these stories and be inspired to choose whisky as their new career path.
Rachel MacNeill addressing the Women in Whisky Lunch 
The first guest speaker was Rachel MacNeill from Whisky for Girls. Whisky has always been part of Rachel’s life growing up on the Isle of Islay. She told us of how she used to play in the malting barns of the distillery near her home as a child, not really knowing what it was until she got older. Then she got that lightbulb moment, realised she can turn her interest into a career when it hit her that people would pay her for taking them on whisky tours, courses, and tastings on Islay! Who can blame her, this was the golden ticket other people can only dream of. 
Dr Kirstie McCallum addressing the Women in Whisky Lunch (photo courtesy of Crystal Coverdale)
The second and last speaker was Dr Kirstie McCallum from Burn Stewart Distillers. Her whisky story started differently, entering the industry by chance, her passion for whisky then grew from there. With a Ph.D. in hand, her original goal was to work in the pharmaceutical industry but as needs must, she accepted a part-time role in a distillery. This lead to her becoming the youngest female blender in Scotland, then on to Global Brand Ambassador for Burn Stewart Distillers, and recently announced, into a new role of Senior Blender at Burn Stewart. She is currently finishing the last few events of her Ambassador role. 

What is it about whisky that stole her heart? She explained this is down to the range of smells, taste, and texture that’s unique to each whisky. Truly believes that there is whisky for everyone and it’s a drink that has no gender. Telling all the ladies in the room that there is no right or wrong way to drink whisky, reminding us it’s a drink, to be enjoyed however you like as long as you enjoy tasting it! 

All in all, it was a great afternoon, with everyone ending up for a few beers and more drams at The Pot Still. I'm proud to say that over £1000 was raised this year which I'm sure the charity will put to great use. If you too would like to donate to Say Women you can do so by following the link to their donation page here: Donate here

More pictures of the event can also be found on The Pot Still Whisky Girls Facebook page

Slàinte! Kat

Monday, 28 March 2016

Exile Casks Launch March 2016

We've had a very busy March and have so much to catch up on! With so much news to share I've decided to start with the latest news first! Last Wednesday, I headed down to London’s Soho Whisky Club for the launch of the first from Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley’s latest venture, The ‘Exile Casks’

The ‘Exile Casks’ is a new range of single cask scotch that will be available only from For the past 3 years Neil and Joel been searching all over Scotland for lost and forgotten casks, and they say that they’ve found some gems amongst the warehouses.
Whisky Discovery
Three new Whisky Discoveries to log!
Whisky Discovery No.1653

Caskstrength And Carry On 3D Whisky 56.4% abv
Blended Malt Whisky
no longer available
The first dram of the evening was the last release from Neil and Joel under the ‘Cask Strength’ brand. 3D is a 'vatted' malt from 3 distilleries beginning with the letter D; Dalwhinnie, Dailuaine and Dufftown, was created by Joel and Neil themselves under the guidance of Diageo Master Blender Dr Matthew Crow.

Unfortunately, I never managed to taste any of these early releases from the Cask Strength label so this, the last in their short series was the first for me.

Just 504 signed and numbered bottles were produced, at 56.4% abv, complete with stereoscopic 3D label and glasses. They were available exclusively from Master of Malt at around £50 a bottle and have all sold out long ago, although if you really want to try it there were some ‘Drinks by the Dram’ available when I looked.

Whisky Discovery No.1654

The Trojan 25 Year Old 57.1% abv
Single Cask Speyside Whisky
£65.00 500ml (only available from
Exile Casks Whisky
This was being bottled on the day of the tasting, so no bottle shot!
The Trojan, a 25 Year Old single cask from a Speyside distillery will be the first release from Exile Casks. Neil and Joel were not prepared to discuss the distillery this came from, but records showed that this cask was filled with spirit from one distillery and then labelled as being something else. Distilled 19th June 1990 and matured in a refill hogshead, it was currently being bottled (as we were tasting) at 57.1% with just 306 500ml bottles, and will be available from 31st March at £65 but only from

So What Did I Think?
Quite a punchy dram with a gloriously rich, almost sherry cask, colour. Lots of woody oaky notes on the nose with liquorice and nutty notes too, walnut in particular. There was also a surprising celery salt note detected – and I thought it was only Kat that had these oddities in her tasting notes! This is also surprisingly lively for a 25-year-old, with lots of rich spicy notes on the palate. Water tamed the spicy heat and sweetened the flavours. One of the Soho Whisky Club members had brought in some home-made chocolates, and this whisky worked wonderfully with the chocolate – Bravo!

Whisky Discovery No.1655

'TBA' 1992 55.5% abv
Single Cask Speyside Whisky
£TBA0 500ml (only available from
No bottle, No label, not even a name yet!
Our third and final dram was a teaser from their next release. Another single cask from a Speyside distillery and again no distillery name will be released, although we were told that this cask had travelled, having been moved to four different warehouses. Distilled 9th April and matured in a 200-litre refill ASB (American Standard Barrel) and the sample we were tasting was at 55.5% abv. This yet to be named release is about a month away and if you want to find out more you’ll need to sign up on

So What Did I Think?
Now this very quickly won me over and was my favourite of the evening’s three new Whisky Discoveries. The nose having a tropical fruity feeling with pineapple and coconut cream, lots of coconut cream! - Delicious!

I always enjoy my trips to The Soho Whisky Club as more often than not it's because I've been invited to the launch of a new expression! The original plan of the Cask Strength team was to release an A-Z series of whiskies, but quickly realised that they were going to be hard-pressed to do this, especially in order! The first two casks are indeed very different and divided the Soho Whisky Club members fairly equally. That, however, is hardly surprising as single cask releases from the same distillery can be very different. There's no brand profile in terms of taste or style being sought here, just single casks that appeal to Neil and Joel. There's no exclusivity other than the limited release that a single cask can yield. When it's gone, it's gone!

hy 500ml bottles? Well firstly more people will be able to enjoy each release! The initial release, limited to just 306 500ml bottles would yield just 218 bottles at 700ml. Secondly, Neil and Joel looked at their own whisky collections and noticed that many of their bottles had around 200ml left in the bottom of them (yeah, mine too!). There's nothing like opening a newly purchased bottle, and these releases are meant to be drunk!

So, if you want to find out just what whisky Neil and Joel really like you'll just have to sign up on their new website as this will be the only place you can buy them from. You can follow them on Twitter too @ExileCasks we'd suggest you do just that!

Slàinte! Dave