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.

Ardbeg – Blasda, Uigeadail & Corryvreckan

Distillery: Ardbeg
Name: Blasda
Region: Islay
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 40%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £170 (Master of Malt 70cl)
Nose: Light peat, floral, citrus, mint
Taste: Light, slightly sweet, slight spice
Finish: Medium, light, slight dryness
Rating: 7/10

 First up tonight is the Blasda, a lightly peated offering from the distillery known for their heavily peated whiskies. This one comes in a just 8ppm opposed to their more usual 24ppm.

The first thing that you notice is just how pale it is compared to the others, also that it is bottled at just 40% which is unusual for Ardbeg from what I have seen. The nose has a gentle peatiness with a citrus and floral freshness, a little vanilla sweetness finishing with just a hint of mint, very summary.

The palate is lovely and light, a real refreshing dram with a light toffee sweetness, a small amount of spice but with an overwhelming sense of flowers and just a hint of that mint again. It has a light, medium length finish to it that has a slight dryness to it.

A real summer dram this one, wonderfully light and refreshing, I believe a bottle would find itself empty quite quickly on a summers day with friends, and without them come to think of it :)

I was a little worried about the low ABV to be honest, but I think it really works well with the gentleness of this dram. This just goes to prove that Ardbeg are about more than heavy peat like some people believe. My only real criticism is the price tag, it’s lovely, but it ain’t worth £170.

Distillery: Ardbeg
Name: Uigeadail
Region: Islay
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 54.2%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £50 (Master of Malt)
Nose: Peat, smoke, rich, caramel sweetness, floral
Taste: Peat, sweet, oily, marzipan, dark toffee
Finish: Long, warm, spicy, peaty, malt
Rating: 9/10

 This was actually the first Ardbeg I tried, and I was sold on the distillery with the first sip. It’s not as heavily peated on the nose as I remembered to be honest, you do get the peaty, smokiness but not too strong. It has a real depth and richness to it with some caramel sweetness and a slight floral note at the end to just lighten it a little.

The palate is where the peat and smoke come through but not before some sweetness and slight marzipan notes, all wrapped up in a wonderful mouth-coating oily texture. It is deep and powerful with some richer dark toffee in there also. The finish is unsurprisingly long and peaty but also warm, spicy with a lasting malty flavour.

At 54.2% the Uigeadail can handle a bit of water, it opens the nose up to make it a little lighter with more floral notes but also highlights the caramel. The lovely oily character remains even with water. It increases the sweetness a little, decreases the peat and toffee but also removes the marzipan note.

An amazing dram this one, I love it every time I pour a glass. It’s a bit of a kick in the teeth compared to the Blasda but if you like your peat, you can’t go far wrong with this, worth every penny.

Distillery: Ardbeg
Name: Corryvreckan
Region: Islay
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 57.1%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £60 (Master of Malt 70cl)
Nose: Rich, caramel, tropical fruits
Taste: Sweet, peaty, spicy, rich but light, tropical fruits
Finish: Long, peaty, dry
Rating: 9/10

 Last in the trio is the Corryvreckan. The nose a some great depth to it,  a rich, creamy caramel quality is what first hits but then gets lightened by some tropical fruits. There is a lot going on in the glass but it is wonderfully balanced. Surprisingly note that peaty or smoky though.

On the palate you get that same sort of sweetness as with the Uigeadail along with a lot of spice. The peat comes through on the palate but is not too overpowering as it also has great richness yet remaining reasonably light somehow. The tropical fruits come through from the nose which helps to keep it light on the long and peaty finish. It is a lot drier than the Uigeadail however.

Another amazing expression from Ardbeg this, different enough from the Uigeadail but equally as good in my opinion. Again for the money I think it is worth it, not sure which I’d have though, might need a bottle of each in I think.


Ardbeg is awesome! Just about sums it up I think. All three would be great in summer, especially the Blasda but the Uigeadail & Corryvreckan also have a great richness and spice to them that make them a great winter dram as well, year round drams, what more can you ask for. Like I said earlier though, I think the Blasda is over priced unfortunately, especially given how quickly it would go.

Loch Lomond – Inchmurrin 15yo-21yo

Distillery: Loch Lomond
Name: Inchmurrin (Signatory)
Region: Highland
Age: 15
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 43%
Cask No.: 24 & 25
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: Sold Out
Nose: Cereal, fresh bread, musty, metallic
Taste: Light, sweet, marzipan, cereal
Finish: Short, warm, slight spice, metallic
Rating: 4/10

This is my first visit to the land of Inchmurrin. I had a single sample but decided to give it a fair test by getting a selection of 5 drams and do a side-by-side tasting.

Nose is very musty at first, think wet winter leaves with some cereal and fresh bread thrown in there also; this finishes with a slight metallic note. It’s quite an unusual nose that is dram has, not like anything I have had before from memory.

Onto the palate and you get a light but sugary sweet welcome, a little marzipan in there along with that slight cereal note just showing it’s head. It all leads onto a fairly short and metallic finish but it does come with a slightly warm, spiciness to it.

Not my favourite dram, the nose is not great and the metallic notes spoil it for me.

Distillery: Loch Lomond
Name: Inchmurrin (Signatory)
Region: Highland
Age: 15
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 43%
Cask No.: 28
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: Sold Out
Nose: Light, metallic, cereal, light fruits
Taste: Light, sweet, cereal, dryish
Finish: Medium, warm, dry, metallic
Rating: 4/10

So I thought it would be interesting to try another 15 year old from the same bottler, Signatory, just from a slightly later cask, cask 28 rather than the mix of 24 & 25 that the last one was. Lets see how it compares.

The first thing that hits me is that metallic nose, just like the last one. The cereal note is also there but not quite as strong. In place of the cereal is some light fruit notes like green apples. This makes it a little lighter on the nose, not that the last wasn’t already though.

The palate is also very similar but a little lighter, not as sweet, no marzipan but more cereal and with a definite dryness to it. The finish is a little longer with the dryness continuing. It looses some of the spice yet manages to keep the warmth, it also shares that metallic note unfortunately.

Still not great but a little better than the previous expression.

Distillery: Loch Lomond
Name: Inchmurrin
Region: Highland
Age: 18
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 46%
Cask No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £56 (Master of Malt 70cl)
Nose: Citrus, cereal, toffee
Taste: Creamy, toffee, raisins, malt
Finish: Medium, warm, spicy
Rating: 5/10

Onto an official bottling this time for the 18 year old. The nose is a delight compared to the previous ones I have to say, a real citrus note to it but with an added depth from a toffee sweetness that is also present. The cereal note that I found in the previous drams is also there but not as overpowering and I’m glad to say the metallic note has almost gone.

The palate has a lovely creamy toffee quality to it with the addition of some raisins. A little of the citrus comes through towards the end to lighten the load a little and leads onto a medium length but very warm finish. There is a hint of something spicy on the finish but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. With the addition of water a maltiness comes through on the palate and the finish dries out quite a lot.

Much better than the two 15 year old in my opinion, that nose is greatly improved and the metallic quality has all but gone.

Distillery: Loch Lomond
Name: Inchmurrin
Region: Highland
Age: 19
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 58.1%
Cask No.: 2844 & 2845
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: Sold Out
Nose: Vanilla, citrus, metallic, toffee
Taste: Spicy, slightly dry, toffee
Finish: Long, warm, spicy, malty
Rating: 5/10

Back to Signatory this time for the 19 year old coming from casks 2844 & 2845, lets hope the extra 4 years has removed that metallic edge.

First impressions are that there is an improvement, there is a strong vanilla note present at first along with some citrus to lighten it. The cereal has gone from this one but unfortunately the metallic quality is back, to a much lesser degree though. The vanilla and metallic notes dispense after a while and are replaced with welcome toffee notes.

Lots of spice is what hits you as you take a sip, lots of spice with a slight dryness when held in the mouth for a while. That toffee also comes through to give a richness with a slight sweetness. The finish is long, warm and really spicy with a surprising maltiness there also that works quite well.

There is no hiding the fact that this is cask strength, there is a definite ABV burn without water, but with the addition of it the spice is greatly reduced on the palate which takes some of the attraction away, still present on the finish however.

A big improvement on the 15s I have to say, those 4 years did the trick. It is still lacking something for me though to score highly.

Distillery: Loch Lomond
Name: Inchmurrin
Region: Highland
Age: 21
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 46%
Cask No.:
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £77 (Master of Malt 70cl)
Nose: Floral, citrus, toffee
Taste: Light, crisp, floral, malty
Finish: Long, light, malty
Rating: 6/10

The final one of the night is the distillery bottling of a 21 year old. It has a very pleasant but unusually nose to it. There is an overpowering note to the nose that I have to say I am not familiar with, it seems floral; Master of Malt mention honeysuckle, but that is not something I can identify with. It has a light citrus note to it also along with some toffee sweetness.

The palate is lighter than I expected with a real crispness to it from the citrus carried through from the nose. That floral quality is still there also with a little malt making an appearance towards the end. Quite a well balanced and refreshing dram this one. The finish is quite long yet light with the malt holding on.

Best of the lot this one, well balanced and easy to drink without any of that metallic nonsense going on. Still nothing amazing in my eyes, but if you like your whiskies light and malty then this is not a bad choice, and for the money it’s not bad value for a 21 year old.

Adnams Triple Grain No2

Distillery: Adnams
Name: Triple Grain No2
Region: England
Age: 3
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 43%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £44
Nose: Charred wood, citrus, spicy, sugared almonds
Taste: Charred wood, dark chocolate, smooth, spice, honey
Finish: Long, warm, spicy
Rating: 4/10

Before I started spending my spare time on Twitter, learning about the goings on in the whisky industry, I happened to stumble upon the Adnams website, where I learned they were to be launching their first whiskies in just a matter of months. As I’m sure you can imagine, this got me all excited, after all I love trying new whiskies and the thought of another English whisky hitting the market got me thinking where this whisky boom would take us next.

I signed up to be notified as soon as they were available and was pleasantly surprised about a month after to be invited to the opening day. Now with Adnams being based in Southwold, it is not exactly close, about 450 mile round trip to be exact, but I thought what the hell, why not make a bit of a holiday of it, so booked a B&B and put my name down.

So down (and over) I went to try both the Triple Grain No2 (wheat, barley and oats) and the Single Malt No1, as well as a selection of other goodies they had open such as their gins (very nice also). The Single Malt No1 was as expected, too young with not enough going on to be honest, the Triple Grain No2 however was better, hence I bought a bottle (signed by Mr Jonathan Adnams and the Master Distiller John McCarthy).

On the nose you get a strong charred/toasted wood note which is lighted however by the citrus aroma. There is also a sweetness there but more of a sugary sweetness rather than a honey one, reminds me of sugared almonds. Added to this is a lovely spice, not too much but it is present throughout the length of the nose.

The palate still holds onto the charred wood notes but also with a real sense of dark chocolate, something like a 50% cocoa as it has some smoothness there also. The spice remains but again is well balanced and some sweetness comes through also, but unlike the nose it is more of a honey sweetness. The finish is long, strong, warm and spicy.

I have heard a few people give the Triple Grain a bit of a hard time and I think it is unjust. It is a young spirit and I think they have done very well to get such a powerful flavour in just 3 years. I actually see it more of a Bourbon alternative rather than a single malt alternative, and maybe if more people thought this way it would have a better following.

Gin Tasting

So tonight, my old man and myself have decided to do a gin tasting. We have collected a number of bottles of, hopefully, various styles to give us a interesting range of gins to try. We have ended up with 7 different gins from 6 different distilleries to try, plus a sloe gin.

Hayman’s London Dry Gin 40% (£18)
Nose: Floral, slight cucumber, sweet, creamy
Palate: Creamy, powerful, floral
Finish: Short, warm

Hayman’s Old Tom 40% (£21)
Nose: Dry, heavy botanicals, reasonably subtle
Palate: Sweet, smooth, citrus, lime
Finish: Short, smooth

Williams Chase Gin 48% (£32)
Nose: Mandarin, clotted cream, sugary sweetness
Palate: Crisp, slight sweetness, well balanced, creamy smoothness
Finish: Medium, smooth, warm

Cadenhead’s Old Raj 55% (£25)
Nose: Initial light, fresh, juniper, saffron
Palate: Powerful, juniper, mouth-coating, saffron
Finish: Long, warm, dry

Fifty Pounds 43.5% (£32)
Nose: Dry, juniper, fresh
Palate: Dry, creamy, slight juniper
Finish: Medium, warm, dry

Whitley Neill 42% (£24)
Nose: Strong, crisp, juniper, floral
Palate: Powerful, fresh, juniper,
Finish: Medium, warm, sweet, dry

Warner Edwards Harrington Dry 44% (£32)
Nose: Complex, lavender, heavy floral
Palate: Viscous, sweet, lighter floral
Finish: Medium, little warmth

Hayman’s Sloe Gin 26% (£19)
Nose: Sloe, sweet, crisp
Palate: Sloes, fruity, sweet, viscous
Finish: Long, sloes, slight dryness to the end

This is the first gin tasting I have actually done, I have tried a number of them but never as a side by side tasting session, so it was interesting to do and a few things that came out of it for me. For one it was great to see just how different the gins can be, wildly different you could say. It was not that many years ago that I would not touch gin because I thought them bland and all the same, how my eyes have been opened.

The Hayman’s London and Old Tom were interesting, they had the nose the wrong way around. The London had a lovely floral nose that better matched the palate of the Old Tom we thought, both very pleasant though, especially for the money. The Old Raj was a favourite of ours before the tasting and remains so after it, does everything a gin is supposed to do in our eyes. Onto the Fifty Pounds gin and you get a dry yet refreshing gin that we both really enjoyed, however when moving onto the Whitley Neill, although quite different, we felt that we would much prefer to save a few quid and have a bottle of that. Super complex yet refreshing all the way, and much like the Old Raj, does everything we expect from a gin. This left the Warner Edwards as the final gin. We were split on this one, my father was not particularly struck on it but I found it quite nice, not as good as some of the others but very complex and unique which I liked.

You may have noticed that I skipped the Williams Chase gin, well there is a reason for that. Despite it being a lovely drink, amazing aroma and beautiful palate, it’s not gin in our eyes. On a blind tasting neither of us would put gin down as our first guess. Gin should have a predominant flavour of juniper, and the Williams Chase just doesn’t. Like I said though, a fabulous drink.

The final drink of the night was a Hayman’s Sloe Gin, which neither of us were particularly taken on, but we kind of expected that as we don’t like sweet drinks much, and sloe gin is always a bit sweet.

Mackinlay’s Shackleton Rare Old Highland Malt – The Discovery

Distillery: Mackinlay’s
Name: Shackleton Rare Old Highland Malt – The Discovery
Region: Scotland
Age: NAS
Strength: 47.3%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: £98 (70cl from Master of Malt)
Nose: Delicate, citrus, fruity, caramelised sugar, honey, marmalade, smoke
Taste: Slight smoke, orange zest, spice, oak, caramel
Finish: Medium, oaky dryness, subtle smoke
Rating: 7/10

Limited to 50000 bottles, this is as close a replica as is possible to the whisky that Sir Ernest Shackleton took to the Antarctic during his 1907 attempt to reach the South Pole, since the distillery that originally produced it no longer exists, Glen Mhor.

Whyte and Mackay’s master blender Richard Paterson was asked to create this replica, and he did so using malts from Speyside, including Glen Mhor and Dalmore, as well as Island and Highland malts.

The nose starts of reasonably delicate with a slightly citrus note to it along with just a subtle vanilla sweetness, but with orchard fruits note slightly overpowering it. There is also a hint of caramelised sugar coming through as well as heavier hit of marmalade all finishing with just a hint of smoke. It is complex that’s for sure but remains delicate throughout with is nice.

The palate also has a lot going on, an initial hit of smoke quickly gives way to fresh orange zest and then onto a spicy oaky edge, leading back to a hint of smoke again. Get a bit of air around it and the caramel notes come through. This leads onto a medium length finish with a real oaky dryness to it and that subtle smoke lingering around also.

Overall it is a nice dram, develops well with time and has a decent amount of complexity. Works well neat and with water due to the strength, with the water bring some cereal notes and the smoke out more.

Top 10 Summer Drams

I recently read a post by Tom Thomson on his top 10 summer drams which got me thinking about what mine would be, so I though I would spend a little time thinking about it. I have not had that many to judge from at this point (around 170 at time of writing) but this is what I came up with:

Aberlour 16 Year Old
I found the Aberlour 16 year old was an easy drinking sherry finished dram, plenty of flavour there as you would expect from a sherry finished whisky, but not as bold and heavy as may I have had. I think it would be suitable for a late evening dram.

Balblair 2003 1st Release
A light, fruity and refreshing dram with just a hint of spice. Benefits from a drop of water so maybe a cube of ice instead on those hot summer days.

Bunnahabhain 12 Year Old
It’s been a while since I’ve had this but I remember it being really refreshing with coastal notes, which I always find helps make a good summer dram. There was some good flavour there with just a bit of sweetness going on.

Clynelish 14 Year Old
One of my stable drams and one of the few that I have purchased more than one bottle of. Again this is a light, fruity, smooth, coastal and refreshing dram with enough complexity to keep you interested.

Glenglassaugh Revival
Would you believe it, the Revival is light with some coastal notes to it making it refreshing and easy drinking. It can handle a little water at 46%, but not loads, so a little ice could work well during summer again.

Lagavulin 16 Year Old
This is another late evening dram for me, sitting out with the chiminea going, the smoky, peaty qualities would work well along with the slightly heavier and bolder body. Alternatively it might work well during a BBQ.

Mackmyra – The 1st Edition
I was really impressed with this dram, the bottle went down quicker than expected. It is light, fruity with just a bit of citrus to it, which always makes for a good summer dram, and a hint of spice to the end.

Old Pulteney 17 Year Old
I had this at a whisky festival earlier this year and could see why people rave about it. A wonderful dram that is light and easy drinking yet with lots of complexity there also. It has the Old Pulteney coastal qualities plus so much more. Could work well during the day due to if freshness, or evening due to it’s complexity. Alternatively you can just go with the 12 year old, another great dram.

Springbank 10 Year Old
Really impressed with this one, light, fruity with a peaty and slightly coastal finish to it. It has enough complexity and strength that will mean it would probably handle a little ice well, helping to make it a good summer dram.

Tobermory Ledaig
I have had both a NAS and the 10 year old Ledaig and find them both light, easy drinking with a nice level of peaty freshness to them. The 10 year old has slightly more body than the NAS but both are great offerings.