Canadian Whisky Comparison

It’s been a while since my last whisky review I know, sorry about that, but I’m back now and hopefully able to start doing my Whisky Wednesday reviews more regularly again. Up this week is a couple of Canadian whiskies. So without further ado…

Distillery: Seagram’s
Name: VO
Region: Canada
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £26 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Grain, sweetness, slightly metallic, subtle spice
Taste: Grain, spicy, creamy
Finish: Long, warm, spicy
Rating: 4/10

Canadian whisky, not something I have tried before to be honest as I’ve never really heard many good things said about it. I’m all about new experiences though so I’m happy to give it chance.

First up is Seagram’s VO blended whisky and “Canada’s Finest” if the bottle is to be believed. Well with a statement like that it has a lot to live up to, after all Avril Lavigne is Canadian and she’s pretty damn fine :)

So what does the nose serve up. Well…grain. Initial nose is just a basic grain whisky, with that slight sugar sweetness that goes with one. After a bit there comes a slight metallic note but this seems short lived before returning to a basic grain nose again. It does begin to develop a bit more of a spice to it after a while though.

Onto the palate and it is predominately a grain whisky just like the nose. It does have a real spicy kick to it which is good, nothing distinct, just a spicy warmth that continues to the quite long finish. It does have good body to it, quite creamy and smooth which is an interesting combination with the spicy burn.

Overall I’m not hugely impressed though. I enjoy a grain whisky don’t get me wrong, but I want more than just a generic grain whisky taste, something like the Compass Box Hedonism (yes I know it’s twice the price but it shows what can be done with one). If you are after a cheap, spicy drinking whisky then it is okay but do not expect any form of complexity with it.

Distillery: Crown Royal
Name: Deluxe
Region: Canada
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £26 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Medium richness, slight spice, sweet
Taste: Rich, creamy, spicy
Finish: Medium, warm, spicy
Rating: 5/10

Onto Canada’s most famous whisky, Crown Royal. First created as a gift for King George VI to celebrate the Royal visit to Canada in 1939, it is a blend of 50 Canadian whiskies according their website.

Well the nose is an improvement on the Seagram’s in my opinion. It has a medium richness to it with a slight spice present also. It does have a sugar sweetness to it to go with the slight grain notes, but much better balanced. That sugar sweetness softens into a slightly more fruity sweetness after a bit and the grain notes lessen.

Onto the palate and it has a lovely rich and creamy feel to it followed by that spice from the nose, not as overpowering spice as the Seagram’s however. When held in the mouth for a bit you begin to get some oak coming through that is not initially present. The finish is of medium length but with a lovely spicy, slightly dry, warmness to it.

Definitely the better of the 2 Canadian options for me. There is slightly more depth to it so it can be enjoyed as part of a quiet evening in but it is still cheap enough and easy enough to drink for when some friends come around. Good entry level whisky that would tempt me into trying some of their other range.

Cooper’s Cask Coffee – Whiskey Coffee

Well this is a first for me that’s for sure, a coffee review. I was contacted by Cooper’s Cask Coffee via this blog informing me of their Whiskey Barrel Aged coffee and asked if I would be interested in conducting a review. Since I love whisky (believe it or not) and I am a fan of good quality coffee, I jumped at the chance, this should be a very interesting combination.

Producer: Cooper’s Cask Coffee
Roast Level: Medium
Batch: #2
Roasted: 2015-07-17
Bean Origin: Unknown

The Beans

The beans are sourced as fresh, green, unroasted coffee beans which ‘exhibit the subtle flavours and aromas that will match and compliment the whiskey barrel ageing’. There is no mention as to what country the beans are sourced from unfortunately, that would be nice to know. The guys at Cooper’s Cask Coffee have been testing various roasting levels and ageing time to get what they feel is the ideal balance of coffee and whiskey from the single malt whiskey barrels.

The beans themselves have a lovely aroma, the whiskey presence is obvious but not overpowering. There is a slight sweetness there, some notes of dark chocolate and I also get a hint of cigar tobacco too. I can pickup on some fruit also but I can’t put my finger on what it is, the guys at Cooper’s Cask Coffee say papaya.

When ground you get all of the same qualities, just slightly enhanced, the whiskey aroma does come out a little more at this point.

Brewing Equipment

I recently broke my Bodum cafetiere which was rather annoying as I had this coffee on it’s way for me to review. As I was about to purchase another I remembered a colleague of mine saying that he uses a Aerobie AeroPress coffee maker and he has said that it was a wonderful bit of kit, so I decided to give one of those ago instead. I have made a couple of brews with it since it has arrived and can confirm, it is a wonderful bit of kit.

Water was heated to 80 degrees as suggested by the folks at Aerobie.


I decided to start with an Americano, or Black Coffee as I would usually call it. This is firstly because it is how I usually drink my coffee but also because I think trying it as an Espresso is best saved until after due to the intensity of the flavour.

On the nose it has a lovely sweetness from the whiskey which is again clearly there but not overpowering. The fruitiness also carries over very well, and I now think I know what I am getting, strawberry flavoured chocolates, subtle though. There is still another fruit there but I can’t place it yet.

Onto the palate and the whiskey is really well balanced, it is again present but not overpowering, which I imagine could have been an easy balance to get wrong. There is an initial sweetness from the whiskey and fruit quality, I still get a little of the strawberry chocolate. It is lovely and smooth with just a slight woody dryness at the very end. This is a very fruity coffee but light, refreshing, summer fruits for me making it an easy drinking and refreshing summer evening coffee.


As an espresso I find the base coffee aroma is far more prominent than as an Americano, you still get that whiskey presence but not as much, not what I expected to be honest. The fruitiness is still there, though I hardly get the strawberries now, still get the dark chocolate though. It has a slightly dryer aroma to it, more of the cigar tobacco than as an Americano and a slight smoky quality.

The palate is definitely dryer with intense dark chocolate and tobacco. The fruit flavour is still there but the sweetness is not, though the whiskey flavour picks up at the end to lighten it a little. The finish is long and dry with a slight bitterness which is not present on the initial palate. It turns in to more of a cold winter evening coffee as an Espresso for me.


I really enjoyed doing this review, I have never just sat and concentrated on a coffee like this before. What I liked about the Cooper’s Cask Coffee is that it is both a summer and a winter coffee depending on how you have it. Either way it is an evening coffee though in my eyes, it is one that you want to sit down and really enjoy after work.

I was impressed with the balance that they have managed with this, the coffee is smooth, not too bitter and the whiskey is not overpowering.

On a side note, I also tried the coffee made with my spare cafetiere, it’s not a great one though, and I have to say that I did prefer the results of the AeroPress. Although the cafetiere produces a quality brew, the AeroPress gets the same level of flavour out in a much shorter time, resulting in a smoother, less bitter coffee.

The Forgotten Blend…My Blend

I was going through my whisky collection last night and found a bottle of  Auchentoshan Three Wood which got me all excited because I didn’t know I had any. Then I though ‘that’s strange, I’m sure we polished that off months ago on one of our whisky club meets’. Then I remembered, it is not Auchentoshan Three Wood in the bottle (I was a little disappointed at this point), it was in fact my very own Blend that I started back in January 2014.

I had a quick look through my blog and found my original post detailing it’s contents, at this point it had the following in it:

  1. Cardhu 12 year old
  2. Clynelish 14 year old
  3. Dalmore 12 Year Old
  4. Edradour 10 year old
  5. Edradour 13 year old Natural Cask Strength
  6. Jura Superstition
  7. Jura Diurachs’ Own
  8. Mackmyra The 1st Edition
  9. St George’s Chapter 11
  10. Talisker Storm
  11. Tomintoul 12 Year Old Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish

That’s not a bad blend, 11 single malts from 9 distilleries and 3 countries. Since I have quite a few new additions to my collection since this was started it though, I thought it time to top the bottle up so I grabbed the following and added to the blend:

  1. Talisker 10 Year Old
  2. Talisker 57° North
  3. Talisker 6 Year Old from the Douglas Laing Provenance collection
  4. Hyde 10 Year Old Irish whiskey
  5. Old Pulteney 12 Year Old
  6. Paul John Brilliance
  7. Glenlivet The French Oak Reserve 15 Year Old

At this point I was quite happy with what my blend consisted of, 18 different single malts from 13 different distilleries and from 5 countries, so I was about to leave it there, but then I thought ‘actually I could make this an exceptional blend’ (potentially at least).

I thought in order to make this an exceptional blend I need to add some exceptional malts, so I went rummaging through my whisky collection again and dug out the following in an attempt to make this blend something even more special:

  1. Bowmore Darkest 15 Year Old
  2. Bowmore 15 Year Old from the Douglas Laing Old Particular collection
  3. Caol Ila 18 Year Old from the Hunter Laing The Old Malt Cask collection
  4. Clynelish 17 Year Old from The Creative Whisky Co Ltd
  5. GlenDronach 15 Year Old
  6. Glenallachie Cask Strength Edition 15 Year Old
  7. Glenburgie 26 Year Old
  8. Highland Park 18 Year Old
  9. Lagavulin The Distillers Edition 1995 Double Matured 16 Year Old
  10. Macallan Fine Oak 18 Year Old
  11. Mortlach 20 Year Old from the Hunter Laing The Old Malt Cask collection
  12. Old Pulteney Cask Strength 1993 13 Year Old from Gordon & MacPhail

Now I have a full bottle of a blend consisting of 30 different single malts from 22 distilleries and 5 countries. I will leave this a little while all in the same bottle before tasting, I don’t actually know if it will make a difference, if anyone knows then I would be interested to find out.

I have done a previous tasting and review of the original blend back in February 2014 and I am so looking forward to doing another now, a post will be sure to follow.

Rum Tasting

I recently ordered a Flaviar Rum Tasting Set which consisted of the following 5 rums:

  • Kraken Black Spiced Rum
  • Pyrat XO Reserve
  • Ron De Jeremy
  • Dos Maderas PX 5yo + 5yo
  • Ron Zacapa Centenario

I also have a couple of rums in at the moment so I thought I would add them to the tasting also. I have only recently started to get into rum so this is my first time properly tasting them in a ‘review’ mentality.

Distillery: Kraken
Name: Black Spiced Rum
Region: Caribbean
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 45ml
Price: £21 for 70cl (Master of Malt)
Nose: Vanilla sweetness, coffee liqueur, smooth
Taste: Vanilla, coffee, smooth
Finish: Short, dry, spicy
Rating: 5/10

This has an incredibly smooth nose with plenty of vanilla sweetness and a coffee liqueur quality to it, think Tia Maria but more subtle. I don’t really get much spice on the nose but there is a little there on the palate along with that vanilla and coffee again. Smooth on the palate with a slightly dry and spicy finish.

Distillery: Dos Maderas
Name: PX 5+5
Region: Caribbean and finished in Spain
Age: 10
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 45ml
Price: £41 for 70cl (The Whisky Exchange)
Nose: Sherry, nuts, raisins, musty oak
Taste: Raisins, sherry, sweet, smooth, spicy kick, tobacco
Finish: Long, spicy, sherry, tobacco
Rating: 9/10
An interesting one this as it consists of rum distilled and matured in Barbados and Guyana but finished in Pedro Ximénez sherry casks in Spain giving a total ageing period of 10 years.
What does this result in? Well the sherry notes are immediately present, like smelling a heavily sherried whisky at first such as a Glenfarclas. You also get the traditional raisin notes coming through that often accompanies sherry but unusually there is a nutty character deep down in there, along with a musty oakyness also. The sherry fades with time to reveal a sweeter nose and that musty quality becomes a little more earthy.

This has to be one of the most complex rums I have tried. The palate has an instant hit of raisins with the sherry sweetness present also. This leads into a silky smoothness that then leaps into a spicy kick at the back of the tongue along with cigar tobacco.  The sherry, spice and tobacco continue on for a long, well balance finish.

Distillery: Pyrat
Name: XO Reserve
Region: Guyanese
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 45ml
Price: £38 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Sweet, orange, lemon zest,  fresh
Taste: Citrus, tangerines, lemon zest, sweetness
Finish: Long, thick, orange, sweet
Rating: 4/10
Very citrussy, very orange. It also has lemon zest in there too making it a really fresh aroma. Maybe a little to citrussy though, reminds me of cleaning products a bit.

Unsurprisingly it is very citrussy again, tangerines rather than orange though but still with that lemon zest edge to it. It is also sweet, not too much however. It is very refreshing, great on a hot day and you do get the rum qualities come through eventually under all of that citrus.

Distillery: Alcoholes y Rones de Panama
Name: Ron De Jeremy
Region: Panamanian
Age: 7
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 45ml
Price: £32 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Sugar cane, creamy, fruity, banana
Taste: Smooth, vanilla sweetness, banana, spice
Finish: Long, sweet, spicy
Rating: 6/10

Heavy on the sugar cane this one, not to say it is overly sweet though. Part of the sweetness is coming from the creaminess also, I’m thinking clotted cream. I also get a fruitiness there, bananas, but more banana sweets rather than the fruit itself.

The palate is smooth with a real vanilla sweetness to it and those banana sweets coming through also. There is also a nice level of spice towards the end which continues into the long, sweet finish.

Distillery: Professor Cornelius Ampleforth
Name: Rumbullion!
Region: English
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 42.6%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £36 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Sweet, orange, cola bottles
Taste: Creamy, smooth, sweet, orange, Angostura bitters, spice
Finish: Long, spicy
Rating: 6/10

Sweetness with intense orange on the nose with a good measure of cola bottle sweets. There is also some subtle spice there too but I can’t put my finger on which spice. It is a very powerful nose though, one of the strongest I’ve seen in a rum.

The palate is thick and creamy with an initial sweetness, plenty of orange there again but with definite notes of Angostura bitters afterwards, not actually bitter however, there is still a sweetness to it. Again the power is present on the palate, plenty going on in this one.

Distillery: Diplomático
Name: Reserva Exclusiva
Region: Venezuelan
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 35cl
Price: £37 for 70cl (Master of Malt)
Nose: Rich, cocoa, slight vanilla, tropical fruits
Taste: Rich, smooth, vanilla, sweet, dark chocolate, slight spice
Finish: Long, spicy
Rating: 7/10

A difficult one this, really lovely nose but it’s so well balanced that it is a little hard to pick out individual characteristics. It is not particularly sweet although there is some vanilla; there are notes of cocoa too helping to give it a really rich aroma. Given time some subtle tropical fruit notes begin to come through, banana being the easiest to pick out.

Onto the palate and it is rich and silky smooth with some vanilla sweetness and a lovely slow developing spice, this lingers for an age in the mouth. You can also pick up on dark chocolate which works great with the spice. There is also an underlying oak note but only very subtle and just adds a slight dryness to the finish after a while.

Distillery: Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala
Name: Ron Zacapa Centenario 23
Region: Guatemalan
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 45ml
Price: £46 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Spicy, dry, oaky, dark honey,
Taste: Sweet, raisins, nutty, spicy
Finish: Medium length, slightly smokey, spicy
Rating: 8/10

Apparently the 23 referrers to the age of the oldest rum in the blend, not the actual age of the rum, I do not know this for certain however, just what I got from the tinterwebs.

Has a lovely aroma this one, rich and spicy with some dry, oaky notes but also some dark honey sweetness.  It has a very rich and slightly sweet palate with plenty of raisins coming through but also a slight nuttiness as well. There is a good spice level which carries over to the medium length finish which also has a hint of smoke (Caol Ila comes to mind), this is short lived unfortunately however.

Excellia Añejo Tequila

Distillery: Excellia
Name: Añejo
Region: Mexican
Age: 16 months
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £47 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Honey, agave, floral, cooked fruits, slight oak
Taste: Floral, smooth, honey, oaky, spicy
Finish: Long, dry, spicy
Rating: 9/10

So according to an email I received from The Whisky Exchange, today is National Tequila Day, so I thought it only right to review my bottle of Excellia Añejo tequila tonight.

I don’t have much knowledge when it comes to tequila to be honest, I have only really had the usual culprits, mainly Jose Cuervo Especial Gold. When I went to the Food and Drink show at the NEC however, there was a stand showcasing the Excellia range, Blanco (a few weeks old), Reposado (8 months old) and  Añejo (16 months old); the Añejo was obviously my favourite as I bought a bottle.

Excellia Añejo is handcrafted in the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico and made from 100% blue agave. What makes it stand out from the crowd for me though is the separate ageing in both Grand Cru Sauternes casks and also in 20 year old Cognac barrels.

Onto the tasting then. With the nose you get the expected tequila aroma at first from the agave, but a lot more subtle than I’m used to though. There is a lovely honey and cooked fruits sweetness to it as well, light with plenty of floral notes but with a nice oakyness right at the end, not too much though. It also smells smooth, no harsh ABV burn or intense spice, though there is a little spice there towards the end along with the oak.

Onto the palate and you get a good measure of agave that is well rounded and balanced with an initial honey sweetness and plenty of floral qualities coming through. It also has a spicy and oaky edge to it that continues throughout the long and dry finish. Those floral qualities do not give up though, they stick around on the finish for a while too.

Overall I have been very impressed with this tequila, I do not have much to compare it to I know but it is a fantastic introduction into the world of quality tequilas. I gave a couple of friends a sample of the Excellia Añejo recently, both of which informed me that they do not like tequila, apparently they were wrong as they really enjoyed the Excellia Añejo, what more can I say.

Hammer Head 23 Year Old

Distillery: Prádlo
Name: Hammer Head 1989
Region: Czech Republic
Age: 23
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 40.7%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £46 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Ripe orchard fruits, oak, slightly metallic, citrus
Taste: Oak, oily, slight sweetness, light
Finish: Dry, oaky, smooth, spicy, light, menthol
Rating: 6/10

A Czech single malt whisky for around £45, a 23 year old one at that, how could I not buy a bottle, I was too intrigued.

So I believe the story goes something like: back in 1989 in what was then Czechoslovakia, the Prádlo Distillery was tasked with producing a whisky to prove they could do what ever the capitalists could. After the fall of the Berlin Wall however, things changed around the distillery and the whisky just got forgotten about, until 2010 that is when they seemed to find it again and began bottling it.

So is it any good? Well it is made from 100% Czech barley and aged in Czech oak barrels so I certainly do not  expect it to be like any other whisky I have tried. The nose is very oaky but also sweet, the kind of sweetness you get with ripe orchard fruits. There is also a slight metallic note to it at first but this fades away into a more citrus note with a bit of time. There is something else there too, a slight nuttiness maybe.

Onto the palate and that oak follows with abundance,  a slight oily texture also but very light and fresh. I was expecting more of the fruit sweetness to be there but it is quite subtle and almost disappears given time. The finish is again very oaky with a slight dryness and a lovely bit of spice, quite light and smooth at the same time with some menthol qualities coming through once left a while.

Overall it is a pleasant whisky but I feel that the oakiness is the predominant flavour throughout, without giving enough room for other flavours. I mean I like oaky and it is a nice oakiness that is slightly different from what I am used too, I assume the Czech oak has it’s own unique flavours, it’s just that for a 23 year old I was hoping for a little more complexity. But for £45 what can you expect I suppose.

Aberlour a’Bunadh Batch 42

Distillery: Aberlour
Name: a’Bunadh Batch 42
Region: Speyside
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 60.3%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: No longer available
Nose: Sherry, baked fruits, spice, sweetness, marzipan
Taste: Oily, rich, sherry, black cherry, sweet, dry, spicy
Finish: Long, warm, spicy, dry, oaky
Rating: 8/10

So I have managed to get my hands on another, older, a’Bunadh from Aberlour, a Batch 42 this time. This will be the 3rd (excluding the early one as I don’t really remember that one) a’Bunadh I’ve tried, 42, 45 & 48.

Has a slightly stronger nose to it than the others, lighter however. There are less dark fruits in it, more like baked fruits with a bit more sweetness from the addition of marzipan that the others did not have.

The palate is also lighter than the others, still oily and rich, just not as much. It has a nice sweetness level and when the sherry notes turn to black cherry, what can I say but it a lovely dram. Hold it for a while and it begins to dry and the spice makes an appearance, not as much ABV burn as expected, the 48 has much more. Both the dryness and the spice remain on the long and warm finish, fantastic on a dark, cold winter evening.

I’ve enjoyed trying another a’Bunadh, I can really see why they have such a good reputation, all of which I have really enjoyed. All have differences but also have an underlying commonality. It’s hard to pick a winner but I’d say the 42 just about gets it due to the fact that it is the easiest to drink out of them yet still has all that flavour and richness present.

Thanks to Tom (@Tom_Blumsom) for the sample.

Whisky Tasting Glasses Comparison – Part 2

So as mentioned in my previous post, I did not come to a decision as to which glass I preferred, so I thought I would continue the comparison. I have decided to test the strongest of the previous options, the Large Glencairn and The NEAT Glass, with a couple of other drams to see how they compare.

Bruichladdich – The Laddie Ten (46%)

First up is everyone’s favourite, The Laddie Ten. I have chosen this for its more delicate qualities to see how each glass delivers them.


From a distance: A strong delivery of the more delicate aromas
Nose in glass: A good strong delivery again, plenty of aromas present with no ethanol burn
From a distance: The aromas are there but very faint in comparison, more difficult to pick them out
Nose in glass: Much better, stronger aromas present now, no ethanol burn. Like last time however, it’s more on par with the Glencairn ‘from a distance’


Much closer than with the Old Pulteney. The Glencairn has a slight dryness to it that The NEAT Glass manages to remove, it also seems to reduce the ABV burn on the palate slightly, making it a smoother drink in The NEAT Glass. There is slightly less flavour present with The NEAT Glass however. Not a huge difference between them but noticeable.

Bowmore 15 Year Old Darkest (43%)

Next we have a sherry cask Bowmore. I thought this might be a good test to see how it delivers the smokiness of Bowmore. Also to see what they are like with a lower ABV.


From a distance: Quite delicate but relatively faint
Nose in glass: Better, more powerful, quite smooth, slight smoke present
From a distance: Almost nothing there
Nose in glass: Lighter, very slight smokiness, smooth still though


Again they are very similar but The NEAT Glass takes a little bit of dryness away, reduces the ABV burn and makes for a smoother drink. It does not deliver quite as much flavour as the Glencairn however.


Well after trying 3 very different whiskies in these glasses I suppose I should come to a decision as to which I prefer. As mentioned in the previous post, they both did well in the look and feel department, but what about the other qualities?

When it comes to the nose the Glencairn still wins easily, The NEAT Glass delivers too faint a nose for me. I know everyone has a different sense of smell but I am told that mine is relatively good for picking out subtleties. Taste wise it’s hard to say, the Glencarin delivers more flavour yet The NEAT Glass delivers a smoother taste.

I would have to say that overall, as a festival tasting glass, which is what I’m after, the Glencairn glass wins mainly due to it’s superior delivery of aromas but also thanks to the more powerful palate sensations that you would want when judging a whisky on a small sample.

I would be very happy to sit down with a dram of a familiar whisky served in The NEAT Glass however, thanks to the extra smoothness that it offers. The extra smoothness only appears once aerated a while though, which is why I prefer the Glencarin as the reduced flavour is apparent much earlier. Samples do not usually last too long at festivals so the smoothness may not be appreciated.

I would suggest trying The NEAT Glass to be honest, it opened my eyes to the difference that a glass can make to the whole drinking experience, but also how different a whisky can be from glass to glass, with this one making quite a difference.

I would be interested in any feedback on these postings actually. If anyone fancies getting in touch, please find me on Twitter – @MyWhiskyGuide.

Thanks all folks!

Whisky Tasting Glasses Comparison

Something totally different from me this time, instead of comparing whiskies, I will be sticking to a single whisky and instead comparing the drinking vessel.

It is not something that has really crossed my mind to compare before, a tasting glass is pretty much always the same style, that of the Glencairn glass, as I know it. There are obviously many different styles of tumbler to choose from but for tasting glasses I am not aware of many.

There is a good reason this thought has popped into my head, I am organising Stoke-on-Trent Whisky Festival and as part of the preparations I started to have a quick look around at glass options. A new one sprung to mind that I had recently seen on Twitter, The NEAT Glass, so I decided to approach them. They were kind enough to send me a sample to evaluate it and see if it is appropriate for the festival.

I have 5 different styles of glass in at present so I thought I would do a side-by-side comparison of them. I should point out at this point that I am a bit of a glass geek, if only in my love of them rather than knowledge of them. Below are the glasses in question:

Whisky Glasses

OldPulteney1993But what whisky to have with the comparison? Well I chose my 1993 Old Pulteney Cask Strength by Gordon & MacPhail.

Why this particular dram I hear you ask, there must be a reason. Why yes there is ladies and gentlemen; this has to have one of the most complex and continuously developing noses and any whisky in my collection, and pretty high up on all of the drams I’ve tried actually. It is also cask strength, a whopping 59.9% in fact, so this should help to determine if any of the glasses handle the ethanol displacement better than the others.

Small Glencairn

I do not know if Glencairn actually made this but it is the common style, just a little smaller.

I’ve always quite liked the look f this glass, it has the lovely lines that is usually associated with a whisky tasting glass, just miniaturised, it’s a lovely little thing.

It is light and you can easily get you whole hand around it. This means that it is easy to warm the contents up a little with your hands if need be. Due to it’s size however, it does not sit in your hand, rather you have to hold it.

From a distance: Channels the aromas very nicely, good strength in the aromas coming through.
Nose in glass: Really draws in the aromas, delivering a rich powerful nose. You do get a little ethanol burn however.

The mouth of the glass feels a little small to be honest, it’s a little cramped. It’s small mouth does however mean that it will slide completely below the nose when drinking, making it comfortable to drink from. A small amount of neck movement required to access the dram.

Large Glencairn

This is the traditional tasting glass as I understand it at least, it is the one that I see at most festivals and also for sale in shops/online.

It’s a nice looking glass, nice flowing lines, well recognised with good room for branding around it.

It has a little bit of weight to it so feels sturdy. You can wrap both hands around this one ok to help warm the whisky if required. It feels nice in the hand, sits better than the smaller one.

From a distance: Like the last one it channels the aromas beautifully, allowing you to really pick out the more delicate aromas that are present.
Nose in glass: Wide enough mouth to allow you to really get your nose in and take in the more powerful aromas. No ethanol burn with this one.

Much better size mouth to this, does not feel cramped, but your nose actually gets in the way more than with the smaller glass. You do have to tilt your head quite far back to get to the whisky (for festival sample servings). It appears to have aerated differently also as there is more of an oaky dryness that comes to it with time.

Rastel Stemmed Whisky Glass

It is branded as Rastel but unfortunately their website appears to be down so I am unable to find out any details.

I got this at TWE Whisky Show 2014 and instantly took a liking to it. It has a similar shape to that of the traditional glass, but with a 3″ stem. You do get the base of the stem that can be used for branding also.

It is very light, lighter than the first glass reviewed here. It does make it feel a little flimsy to be honest, fine at home, but at a festival where breakages are much easier, it felt a little fragile. I’m unsure on the stem also, more the necessity of it really. On a wine glass it is generally so you can hold the base and not touch the glass itself, therefore not to warm white wines, I’m not sure it is needed for whisky. I do prefer mine at room temperature though, I know not everyone does.

From a distance: Delivers a slightly more delicate nose to it this glass compared to the others. Not a huge difference but noticeable.
Nose in glass: Again, more delicate, less powerful than with the other glasses. Like the first glass however, there is a touch of ethanol burn there.

Not a badly sized mouth, in between the previous two I feel. With regard to neck movement, it again slots in between the previous two as to the amount of movement required. This one aerates much like the small glass.

Wine Tasting Glass

It’s another style of tasting glass, so I thought, why not?

Fairly plain looking but does have the channelling shape to focus the aromas.

Medium weight, heavier than the Rastel but still lighter than the small Glencairn. Sits nicely in you hand if you wrap you hand around the bowl of the glass and it is light enough that you can still comfortably hold the base if required.

From a distance: Draws in the aromas very nicely actually, allowing you to pick out the delicate notes but delivering a more pronounced aroma than the others.
Nose in glass: Delivers the more powerful aromas as with the Glencairn but does have a little ethanol burn to it.

Good sized mouth on it allowing comfortable drinking. Neck movement and aeration are both very similar to the large Glencairn glass.

The NEAT Glass

Onto the glass that actually got me onto this comparison in the first place. It is quite a new glass I believe and from reading the website, there appears to be some science behind the design also.

It is very different to any other glass I have drank from to be honest, but grabbed my interest when I first saw it. It is kind of like a small, slightly squashed tapered jar, with a flared top. I might have undersold the effort The NEAT Glass put into there, but I hope you get my point. It has a large base which is good for branding but also has space for branding around the glass, as long as the branding is not too tall.

Again, very different feel to it. It has a good weight to it, nice large flat base so feels sturdy when placed down. It sits in you hand quite nicely too when held at the base, but also feels nice to hold at the rim, again sturdy, the flared rim does not feel fragile to hold.

From a distance: Really delicate, too much so, almost feels a little lost.
Nose in glass: Again, really delicate, does not deliver the intensity of the nose like the others. More on par with the Glencairn nose ‘from a distance’ rather than ‘in glass’. There is no ethanol burn present however.

Very comfortable to drink from. Although a lot of the glass actually enters the mouth (the flared rim), which is unusual at first, it is very nice to drink from. Minimal neck angle is needed for drinking at first, a little more so towards the end due to the shape of the glass. The aeration is different to all others, it has left it much softer than the others, with much less of an oaky dryness.


Firstly, as I have just read through this post I would like to apologise, for being far big a glass geek than I expected. I really did start out with the idea of doing a simple comparison, guess I got carried away.

Lets be fair, all of the whisky tasting glasses look great, the wine one a little dull. There is a considerable difference in feel to them, for me The NEAT Glass actually wins this one ever so slightly over the Large Glencairn, simply because you hold it less, it sits in the hand the nicest.

Now onto the two most important factors, nose and drinking sensation. Nose wise the Large Glencairn won hands down for me. It delivers delicate nose from a distance, admittedly not the most delicate, that went to the the Rastel. It also handles ABV better than most of the others, The NEAT Glass also did very well in this aspect. The final thing was the in glass nosing; it delivered the power and richness that the Old Pulteney has without any of the ethanol burn that some of the others did in this situation.

When it comes to the drinking sensation I would say it is very close between the Small Glencairn and The NEAT Glass. I would same The NEAT Glass is the most comfortable with its flared rim delivering the whisky very nicely along with the the very delicate way that it preserved the whisky, completely different to the rest. The Small Glencairn however is also comfortable and delivers a more familiar way of drinking in regards to not having so much glass in your mouth whilst drinking. It also preserved more of the stronger flavours of the whisky than The NEAT Glass.

It is difficult to select a winner to be honest, The NEAT Glass does very well, however I was very disappointed with the nose delivery of it. The Large Glencairn is very nice, plus familiar to a lot of people. I’m afraid I have no answer right now, I will have to sample a few other drams, see how they hold up and report back.

On a side note though, the 1993 Old Pulteney is just amazing, I absolutely adore it, and I can’t say I’m complaining about being ‘forced’ into having five samples of it tonight :)

Part 2 available here

Buffalo Trace Tweet Tasting

Distillery: Buffalo Trace
Name: Bourbon
Region: Kentucky
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £22 (Master of Malt 70cl)
NoseSweet, baked fruits, slight spice, creamy
TasteCaramel, hint of lime, woody, spice
Finish: Medium length, slightly dry
Rating: 5/10

I had the pleasure of partaking in another Tweet Tasting on 24th September thanks to Steve at @TheWhiskyWire, this time it was the turn of the Buffalo Trace group.

First up was the Buffalo Trace. I found this to be a great entry into bourbon, it has a nice level of sweetness with some lovely baked fruits like pears, along with a little spice, all wrapped up in a lovely creamy aroma.

Onto the palate and you get a good amount of caramel with this really interesting and unexpected hint of lime. It also carries that slight spice over well and also some woodiness, giving it a medium length finish that has a slight dryness.

This went down fairly well by all accounts for it’s ease of drinking, good level of flavour and also price.

Distillery: Eagle Rare
Name: N/A
Region: Kentucky
Age: 10
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 45%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £37 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Rich, powerful, marzipan, oak, dried leaves, caramel
TasteThick, rich, powerful, dark chocolate, spicy, dark caramel, wood, aniseed
Finish: Medium, light, dryness, spice
Rating: 9/10

I actually had a bottle of this in anyway, and at time of writing, this is the best bourbon I have tried. Such a powerful aroma with the caramel, marzipan and oak along with an earthiness that is like dried leaves, think walking through the woods in autumn.

Then the palate comes along and throws everything at you, dark chocolate and caramel, that oak in there again with a little aniseed thrown in for good measure. This is all rolled into a thick and smooth texture, just wonderful. It has not done with you yet though, the finish of medium length but for all it’s power on the palate, it picks up a little and lightens, still with some oaky dryness and spice though.

One of those that I will always try to keep a bottle of I think, which is saying something, because I rarely buy a second bottle of anything, there are too many new ones out there to try.

Distillery: The Barton 1792
Name: Ridgemont Reserve
Region: Kentucky
Age: 8+
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 46.85%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £50 (Master of Malt 70cl)
Nose: Light, baked fruits, apricot, pear drops, lavender, pine trees, glue
TasteWarm, light, fruity, almonds, floral
Finish: Medium, slightly dry, spicy
Rating: 8/10

The final of the evening was The Barton 1792 Ridgemont Reserve, or just the 1792 as we all referred to it as. At £50 I think this is the most expensive bourbon I have tried so was looking forward to seeing what you get for the higher end of the bourbon market.

The 1792 did not disappoint, the nose was very different to the previous two but like the Eagle Rare, had lots to offer. Really fruity, moving into floral with some lavender and pine. A lot of people picked up on glue, I only got a hint of this personally.

The palate was as much a delight as the nose, a real warmth to it, partly from the higher ABV, light and again lots of fruit, pear and apricot coming through again. This started to develop into a slight floral note much like the nose but not before throwing a few almonds your way first.

The finish is of medium length like the others and has a slight dryness and hint of spice to it. The balance of sweet and dryness is just right for me, I was expecting something a little sweeter from the nose but was pleasantly surprised.


I thoroughly enjoyed an evening of Tweet Tasting again and would like to thank Steve at @TheWhiskyWire and also @BuffaloTraceUK for a wonderful evening. It was a good education into bourbon shared with some great friends and new associates.