Category Archives: Events

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.

Conclusion

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.

Monthly Meetup 2 – Laphroaig Triple Wood

Distillery: Laphroaig
Name: Triple Wood
Region: Islay
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 48%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £42
Nose: Peaty, engine oil, sweet, smooth, citrus freshness
Taste: Peaty, light, fresh, sweetness, slightly dry, smooth
Finish: Medium, peaty, dry, oak
Rating: 7/10

This is the third of the Laphroaig range that I have tried, the 10 year old and the Quarter Cask being the other two, both lovely. The Triple Wood is essentially the Quarter Cask, which I love, finished in Oloroso sherry casks, which I adore as a finish, so I was pretty hopeful with this one.

Disappointed I was not, none of us were to be honest. Now we all enjoy an Islay which is why we wanted to try a slightly better one than most of us had tried previously. The peat was obviously a powerful quality pretty much throughout this dram, but it also had so much more to offer, which it had picked up from the quarter cask and the sherry cask. It added an extra depth to it that left us all wanting a top up, and more annoyingly, left us all wondering what the 18 year old is like.

I hear a lot of people say that Laphroaig, and many other Islays, are all about the peat, but I say to those people, you need to try the Triple Wood in order to appreciate the complexity that can also be present. It is a wonderful dram.

Monthly Meetup 1 – Auchentoshan Three Wood

Distillery: Auchentoshan
Name: Three Wood
Region: Lowland
Age: N/A
Chill-filtered: ?
Strength: 43%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 70cl
Price: £38
Nose: Dark fruits, sherry, sweet, rich
Taste: Smooth, dark fruits, sherry, chewy
Finish: Long, oaky, spicy, dry
Rating: 7/10

The Auchentoshan (ock-un-tosh-un) Three Wood has been matured in Bourbon casks, Pedro Ximenez sherry and Oloroso sherry casks, this gives a wonderful rich colour and aroma.

It has a deep rich nose with lots of dark fruits coming through, with some sherry notes present also, and a slight sweetness that goes with the two. All of these qualities follow onto the palate with a lovely smoothness, the rich flavours lingering for a nice lengthy period. It is a dram that you work around your month as well, it really coats the whole thing and therefore spreading the flavour, intensifying it, beautiful. The finish is as I have said long, but also with an oakiness giving it some lovely spice and just a little dryness, not too much though. At 43% abv it does not have any real alcohol burn to it, so does not really require the addition of water in my opinion, but could probably take it fairly well given it’s body, it you wish to add some.

Monthly Meetup

I was talking to a couple of close friends a few months ago about whiskies, and how I love to try as many different ones as I can. They are both fairly new to whiskies and were both keen to do the same, so we decided that we would all chip in £15 a month, purchase a bottle of something new and meet up on a monthly basis. It makes a great social occasion and we all thought it would help to expand our whisky knowledge a bit more, without breaking the bank.

I got put in charge of the whisky selection so I firstly decided to select two whiskies from each region and created a survey on SurveyMonkey. We all had to rank the whiskies in order of preference and the top two were to be our first couple of months whiskies. This process is to continue, but probably ordering a whisky at a time rather than multiple, until we have covered all of the main regions. I have no idea where we will go from there though, I’m sure we will think of something.

Anyway, what this means is that I will hopefully be posting a review of each of the whiskies we try, all likely to be in the £35-£55 range, so I look forward to that and I hope you check back to read them.

Abbey Whisky Tweet Tasting

On Thursday (20th November) I had the pleasure of participating in my first Tweet Tasting, the Abbey Whisky Tweet Tasting, as organised by Steve Rush at The Whisky Wire (find on Twitter).

Everyone that was partaking in the tasting was sent the following 4 3cl samples from the Abbey Whisky ‘The Rare Cask’ series:

  • Caperdonich 17 year old
  • Bunnahabhain 23 year old
  • Ben Nevis 16 year old
  • A Mystery sample (their next release in the series, revealed later on)
Abbey Whisky Tweet Tasting

The Experience

This was the first Tweet Tasting that I have participated in so was not entirely sure what to expect; I always seem to have missed previous ones or caught the tail end of it. The concept is pretty simple however, tasting started at 7pm and we had been informed of the order of the whiskies we were to be tasting, so I made sure I poured the first out just before we began. I also opened 2 browser windows, side-by-side, one for posting my tweets and one for keeping up-to-date with the #AbbeyWhisky hash tag tweets.

7 o’clock came and the tasting began, with Steve asking ‘What does it deliver on the nose?’ followed by a flurry of tweets started to come through, so I delved in. I began to tweet all of the things I could pick out as well as follow what everyone else was saying, which I found really interesting the diversity of aromas people were getting for each of the whiskies. I also found it really useful as sometimes I would be getting something that I could not quite put my finger on, and then when reading what other people were getting, I was able to pinpoint what it was. It was also great to just nose the whiskies for a long period of time as it really emphasized how much the nose can change when just left a while to aerate. I also picked up on a tip that I think Dave Worthington (@WhiskyDiscovery) suggested and that was to cover the whisky for a while and then uncover and nose again, you get more intense aromas.

After a while of nosing the whiskies Steve would then asked, ‘What palatable pleasures does this deliver?’ and we would all move onto the actual tasting. Again this was a great experience with reading about the variety of flavours people were getting, and again helping me to pinpoint some of the things that I was picking up.

Tasting Notes

I will admit I got a bit caught up in the tasting and broke my rule of ‘no specifics’ on the nose and palate, I apologise if you like the simple tasting notes that I usually do, I have not strayed too far however.

Caperdonich 17 year old

Region : Speyside
Chill-filtered : No
Strength : 57.8%
Bottle Size : 3cl
Bottles : 96
Price : £59.50(70cl)
Colour : Light Gold
Nose :
Started with light fruits with a bit of sweetness coming through, vanilla I think. This then moved to more of a pineapple aroma in place of the vanilla with the addition of wood also. After a while the wood notes had become stronger with a little nutmeg in there as well. I was amazed at how much the nose changed on this.
Taste :
Initial taste, heat from the ABV and spicy but still with tropical fruits and the wood coming through. The addition of water to this was a must for me, and many others, but not all. It took the heat down and enhanced the fruity aromas and flavours. Not took much water for me though, I think I said, just enough to leave it ‘somewhere in-between fiery and smooth’.
Finish :
Initially the wood was there giving a slightly dry finish, but this eased after a while giving way to a slightly salty finish. A long finish to it as well.
Rating : 8/10

Bunnahabhain 23 year old

Region : Islay
Chill-filtered : No
Strength : 44%
Bottle Size : 3cl
Bottles : 96
Price : £72.95 (70cl)
Colour : Light Gold
Nose :
My initial thought was it has a beautiful nose. Sweet, creamy toffee with a subtle smokiness coming through after. After a while the toffee notes faded off to give way to a lighter, floral note with a slight saltiness there too.
Taste :
Smoky but not overpowering, sweet and creamy like the nose and then a little salty. It has just the right bite to it as well, the 44% (cask strength) is just perfect. Then some wood comes through, the salt begins to calm down a bit but at this point it still remains a light dram. With the addition of water (not too much) I found that all of the same flavours were present, maybe just a little more noticeable but it did add a slight spicy/peppery feeling in the back of the throat, lovely.
Finish :
Short and a little salty.
Rating : 9/10

Ben Nevis 16 year old

Region : Highland
Chill-filtered : No
Strength : 55%
Bottle Size : 3cl
Bottles : 96
Price : £64.95 (70cl)
Colour : Amber
Nose :
Dry, oloroso sherry, nutty, spicy (maybe just the ABV), oak. Smells of…old things…an old damp cellar. After leaving it covered for a little while and then taking a deep breath I began to get the rubber notes that a few people were mentioning.
Taste :
Some heat from the ABV, spicy, dark fruits, powerful. Needed water this one did to take away the heat and really open up the nose and palate, it’s a bit of a beast so it can handle quite a bit.
Finish :
Dry, long length.
Rating : 6/10

Mystery Cask – GlenDronach 1993

Region : Speyside
Chill-filtered : No
Strength : 59.1%
Bottle Size : 3cl
Bottles : 592
Price : £89.95 (70cl)
Colour : Ruby
Nose :
My opening tweet for this one was ‘I’m in love, nuf said’. So moving on…ok then, the notes. Bold and powerful, spicy, sherry, dark fruits with a hint of wine once it had been covered for a while. Also (good quality) Rum notes coming through, several people were saying this. Some said about it being a bourbon but I didn’t get that personally.
Taste :
OH..MY..GOD, lashings of flavour, it goes on forever. Spice, heat from the ABV, a hit of rubber and then gone, dark fruits come straight after with a bit of sweetness. Has a lot of body to it, really mouth coating. An absolute beaut.
Finish :
Long, strong but smooth, sweet.
Rating : 10/10

Conclusion

An amazing evening, some fantastic whiskies and some great people involved in the tweets, learned a few new things as well, I would love the opportunity to do another one in the future, hint, hint ;). The GlenDronach was the winner by far for me and now I just need to work out how I’m going to get a bottle, £89.95 is a little out of budget unfortunately 🙁

Midlands Whisky Festival 2013

I had the pleasure of attending the 2013 Midlands Whisky Festival this weekend (28th September 2013), which is held in Stourbridge, in association with Nickolls and Perks. It was my first year attending the event and I have to say, I was very impressed. It was held in the town hall, just across the way from their shop, which was a nice building with lots of character, giving you plenty to look around at during the event. Not that you need to of cause with the fantastic selection of whisky/whiskey that was on display there.

I purchased the VIP ticket which give me entry to the festival a little early, 10:45. It also came with a tasting glass, 2 dream dram tokens and a seat at the Dalmore Constellations masterclass, these will be discussed later.

I started by quickly circulating the event, looking at what was on offer on each of the stands so that I could plan roughly what I wanted to try. There were whiskies, cognac, gin and rum on offer, the gin and rum being the last I got to on my quick tour so I thought I would start with a refreshing gin.

Gin

The one that was on offer was Warner Edwards, Harrington Dry Gin bottled at 44%. I have recently found a couple of gins that I can take neat, I am generally not a fan I have discovered; this is one however falls into the exception, it was very easy to drink neat, with plenty of flavour, I slight spice to it as well, which all means it will also hold up to mixing if you prefer a bit of tonic. It is certainly one that I will be grabbing a bottle of sometime soon.

Rum

I then moved onto the rum stall which had 3 El Dorado rums on offer, starting with the Gold 12 year old Guyana Demerara Rum bottled at 40%. This was a pleasant rum with a lot of flavour; I was told it was also the one with the most body, although I thought it actually still lacked some. It was however a little sweet for my taste so would not put it on my list of future purchases. I then tried the Reserve 15 year old Guyana Demerara Rum bottled at 43%; this was a different beast entirely in my eyes. The sweetness had gone and had been replaced by even more complex aromas and flavours with a dryer finish, making it much more pleasant and easier to drink. I was told that the 15yo is generally the one preferred by whisky drinks, I can see why. At £48 however, I am not sure I can quite justify a bottle, as nice as it was; maybe when my whisky collection is a little more complete I can find a place for one.

Whisky

Now onto the whiskies. This is by no means exhaustive, I have only made notes on a few of the ones I tried and simply scored some of the others, I got a little distracted chatting to people to make notes on all of them 🙂

Kilchoman

To start was Kilchoman Machir Bay, bottled at 46%. For those who do not know, Kilchoman it a relatively new farm distillery, first opening in 2005 on Islay, and was the first new distillery to be built for 124 years on the island and I had been looking forward to trying one for a while. I am very mood driven with my drinks, and unfortunately I was not really in the right mood for a peaty whisky, which this is. It has a crisp nose though and is light, easy drinking with a slight sweetness on the palate, all leading to a slightly dry medium length finish. I opted to slightly adjust my score, making the assumption that I was in the mood for a peaty whisky, this gave it a 6/10, which is pretty good for what is still a young whisky.

Glenglassaugh

I also tried a couple from Glenglassaugh to allow me to compare after my Revival review. They had both the Evolution and 30 year old on offer that I had not tried. The Evolution was a 57.2% bottling which they no longer produce, this has been lowered to 50% for future bottlings. It is a bourbon only finish so is quite light and fresh but with plenty of body from the 57.2%, opened up nicely with a little water. I give it a score of 7/10, which is one above the Revival. The 30 year old was their Dream Dram, which was basically reserved for the best each stall had on offer and meant that they had to be purchased separately. The 30 year old is bottled at 44.8% and was really rich with plenty of sherry notes on the nose, both of which carried through to the palate with a smoothness that continued to the end, which was of medium length. A good solid 9/10 for this one.

Japanese Whiskies

I tried a couple of others including a couple of Japanese whiskies which I was looking forward to, a Hibiki 12yo (5/10) and a Yamazaki 12yo (6/10) before moving upstairs to start the Dalmore Constellations tasting session.

Dalmore Constellations

Come 12:00, as the doors opened for the standard ticket holders, we were moved upstairs to start our tasting session. I have done a separate post on the Constellations tasting.

The Rest

Once I returned from the Constellations tasting I met up with a friend who was at the Hardy Cognac stand, so I joined in. After a short conversation with the gentleman at the stand he offered me a taste of the 50 year old, to compare with the 50yo I had at home. This was a very enjoyable cognac, smooth and worryingly easy to drink, and at £150 was also not too badly priced for its age. We then got to sample there Dream Dram, the 60 year old. Again a lovely drink, smooth, complex and easy to drink but for me was not that much better than the 50yo, given the price difference.

I then continued to work my way around the hall, including:

  • Glendronach 18 year old
  • Glendronach 21 year old
  • Laphroaig 1990 Directors Cut 21 Year Old
  • Ardbeg Corryvreckan
  • An Irish Whiskey, I think it was Teeling
  • Jura Prophecy
  • Auchentoshan Three Woods
  • and many more

I also met Tom who runs Shroud Whisky Club (find them on Twitter, @StroudWhisky) who was a very pleasant guy and whom I had a good, whisky central, conversation with.

Overall it was a fantastic day, there were lots of great spirits on offer and I got to meet some great people. I look forward to the next one.

Dalmore Constellations Tasting

As I arrived at my seat I was pleasantly surprised to be presented with a little goody bag which contained a book containing full details of the Dalmore Constellations range and a very nice, and heavy, tumbler. More importantly I was also presented with 6 whiskies. The tasting was ran by David Robertson, the Rare Whisky Director at Dalmore and a fantastic bloke, knowledgeable and a good laugh. Before moving onto the Constellations range we had a couple to warm up with:

18 Year Old

It all started with the 18 year old; a dark amber whisky bottled at 43% and retailing from around £90. What hit me first was that all too familiar Dalmore signature note that was present on both the nose and then palate. It was rich on both nose and palate which led to a lovely smoothness and onto a long warming finish. I great introductory whisky for the tasting, 6/10.

King Alexander III

We then moved on to the King Alexander III which is bottled at 40% and retails from around £120. The King Alexander is an amazing mix of whiskies that have been matured in a variety of casks; Dalmore’s master distiller, Richard Paterson, selected differently-aged malts matured in Madeira, Sherry, Marsala, Port and Bourbon casks to create this fantastic whisky. All of this gave it a dark amber colour and a rich but slightly sweet nose; the palate was also rich, well rounded and smooth with some spice and a slight dryness coming through towards the end. The finish was of medium length with an initial sweetness that dried towards the end. I gave it a well deserved 8/10.

Constellations 1978

Then on to the Constellations collections, starting with the oldest we were to taste, the 1978. The ’78 was matured in American white oak for 29 years and them moved into a Matusalem Oloroso sherry butt for a further 4 years before being bottled. It was a light amber colour, bottled at 47.1% and retails at around £6400. The nose had a slight sweetness to it but nothing overpowering, very well balanced with the complexity of the nose. On the palate it was very light with light fruit notes and some citrus coming through; this lightness continued onto the medium length finish with the addition of some sweetness. I did not get the usual Dalmore flavour coming through with this one, it actually reminded me of a really good Armagnac. An outstanding whisky, 10/10.

Constellations 1981 Cask 4

There are 2 1981 bottlings in the collection, cask 3 and 4, I tried cask 4 which has been matured for 26 years in American white oak and then moved into an Amoroso Oloroso sherry butt for a further 4 years and gives it a dark amber colour. It is bottled at 54% and retails at around £3750. The nose is again rich with definite sherry notes and the sweetness that comes with it. The palate is also very rich, full bodied with the signature Dalmore flavour also coming through which lasts to the medium length, rich finish. An enjoyable whisky, 7/10.

Constellations 1990

The 1990 has been matured in American white oak for 19 years and them moved into a Matusalem Oloroso sherry butt for a further 2 years before being bottled at 56.5%, and retailing at around £2500. It has an amber colour and a sweet but rich nose. On the palate it is smooth and rich which actually lightens towards the end, it also has some dryness without the addition of water which does disappear once some is added. The Dalmore flavour that I expect was not present in this one, or at least not in the foreground, there were some hints of it in the background. This dryness continues to the medium length finish; again with the addition of water this is not apparent. This one definitely benefits from the addition of water where the previous ones did not need it. An amazing whisky, 9/10.

Constellations 1992

And finally onto the 1992 which has been matured in American white oak for 10 years and them moved into a European oak Quercus Robur Port Pipe for a further 9 years before being bottled at 53.8%; retailing at around £2000. This has a dark amber colour due to the length of time in the port pipe and gives it a rich, sweet nose with some citrus notes coming through also. The palate is, like all of the others, rich and smooth but also with some sweetness there but very well rounded and full bodied. It has a lovely long, warm finish to it with some dryness present without the addition of water, much like the ’90. It again has the distinctive Dalmore flavour, a very enjoyable dram, 8/10

Conclusion

Overall this was a very special tasting, previously I had only tried the Dalmore 12yo, which I was not particularly taken on to be honest, which is why I wanted to do this tasting, to sample some of the best Dalmore has to offer in order to be able to really decide whether Dalmore was a dram for me. Well I think it is safe to say that they won me over, I may never be able to afford any of the Constellations collection, but the King Alexander III is in reach and is also a fantastic whisky, I urge all to try this one, so much going on in it and I can imagine that you will pick different things out each time you try it due to the variety of casks used.