Flipping Hell!

It’s not nice to sit under the Sword of Damocles.

We come to Friday once more, and I am looking for a thought to provide you all with this week. It has been quite a week for me with a lot of stress. A couple of weeks ago, my car was involved in a minor collision and this was the week it was going in for repair. I’m lucky enough to have an insurance company that are quite generous when it comes to providing a hire car when mine is off the road, so I was lucky enough to be given a Toyota Aygo.

Lucky? No. These small cars are really only good for the city. I have driven an Aygo over one hundred miles from Aberdeen to home over twisty country roads and let me tell you that it wasn’t fun. Given we have had really bad weather and have a good blanket of snow, I opted to pay a little bit extra and get something bigger. I was given a Vauxhall Insignia which was a lovely car to drive but a bit longer than I realised. When backing the car in front of my garage, the sensors must have been covered in dirt from the slush on the roads, and the net result was that I backed the car into the garage door. Conclusions – car not a mark; the garage door seemingly a write off.


The car before a trip down the A9. Nice and clean only for another 30 mins.

Of course, the weather was bad with snow and heavy winds, and the garage roller door was out of the guides on one side so I got plenty of fun with some hammers, spanners and pry-bars to get the door back into the guides. I didn’t care at that point if the door would ever open again, as long as I could get it wind and watertight once more. But I knew eventually that I had to make a hard decision – do I leave the door as is, for I don’t use it that often, or do I pay for a replacement? After paying a 4 figure sum just before Christmas for a new oil tank, I wasn’t really wanting to take the hit of a new electric door. I knew that the choice of doing nothing could become very inconvenient. Sadly, it was realistic to say that a new door was the only option and I had a £1500 bill staring me in the face. It was unexpected that when my local friendly garage door supplier turned up a couple of days later that he didn’t give me a quote. Thankfully he was able to repair the door in such a way it will survive another couple of years given the amount of use it gets. All ends well. I still haven’t had the dram to celebrate the avoidance of financial disaster!

So what has this got to do with whisky? Well, last Friday my package from Macallan turned up, the recently balloted Folio 5 which is part of the Archival Series. Costing £260 including postage, I entered the ballot without knowing too much about the whisky I was hoping to win. However, this is not that uncommon with Macallan releases nowadays. But, given the fact that previous Folio releases have been about 2000 units and usually keep at a price well above the purchase, then I thought it would be a safe bet.


Macallan Archival Series Folio 5

Well, after the ballot was concluded, with my whisky contacts and on various forums, I noticed that quite a lot of people had actually won a bottle in the ballot. Far too many for my liking. Research suggested that Macallan had done the dirty and possibly released 20,000 units. This is a bit of a kick in the teeth, as it would mean 18,000 people will never be able to collect the full collection, and the value of the other four editions is now going to smash through the roof as those who do wish to collect the full series will be forced to pay for a much rarer whisky. This can only get worse as future editions are released (there are still 19 releases to go).

Of course, caveat emptor should be the phrase first and foremost in mind, but I feel in whisky terms I have metaphorically smashed the car into the garage door and have a tough decision to make in terms of what to do with this whisky. It may serve me well to give you another metaphor that would sum up my feelings adequately, I felt like the pigeon who didn’t notice there was glass in the french windows, and is now lying stunned on the patio waiting for the neighbours cat to get me.

To be honest, I bought it with the intention of not collecting the full set, but keeping it back to sell at a later date when the price settled. I had no intention of flipping it, as you should know by now my views on flipping. In the back of my mind, my thoughts were that if there was only 2000 made, I might be able to swap it for a Folio 4, which has the music of James Scott Skinner on it (I used to play the fiddle, so it was relevant). But now I am stuck with a bottle that I feel doesn’t fit my collection policies, won’t necessarily increase in value and I’ve no interest in drinking. And £260 isn’t a small amount of cash to splurge for no return.


Book with marketing blurb

And now I have to face the difficult decision – do I flip it, do I keep it and hope for the best, do I sell it to somebody that didn’t get one at a price that covers my costs, or do I drink it? I’ve opened more expensive bottles but I’m just not interested in Macallan. I’ve drunk too many insipid drams in recent times to be opening an NAS that cost so much. It should be nice to be in the position that I am to own such an item, but the responsibility of what to do with it hangs like the Sword of Damocles above my head, pretty much like it did with the garage door.

I’ll be honest with you, I am really tempted to flip it. I feel really let down by Macallan’s marketing practices, and I have since removed myself from their marketing data base. This has been the final straw that has broken this donkey’s back. I have had deep misgivings about the brand for some time, and this is one of the articles I have been trying to write for some time, but haven’t managed to articulate my thoughts in such a way that is readable. It seems I am not the only one, and have seen quite a few articles saying similar things. I also have written a diatribe against flippers, but again, the article is just too rough to be released without offending people. The possibility of being a hypocrite also fills me with dread.

So what’s it to be? To flip or not to flip. #sipdontflip – as in last week’s review? Or sit tight and take the loss in the meantime and hope it gets better? Let me know your opinions, either by commenting on Facebook, or below this article.

Yours In Spirits

Scotty

Index of tastings here

Index of articles here


This is written as a hobby, and I appreciate your likes and shares, either on WordPress, or why not visit one of my other social media channels. Lets spread the whisky love!

Scotty’s Drams encourages responsible drinking. To find out the facts about drink, and where to find help if you need it visit Drinkaware.co.uk by clicking on the link.

Photo Credits

All Photos – Authors Own

Good Crieff!

Taste Review #46 – Glenturret 12 (1980’s)

Welcome to the latest whisky review, and this one comes from a distillery that I have actually visited, probably around the same time as the dram I’m away to try was bottled. This dram comes from the Perthshire town of Crieff, namely the Glenturret Distillery.

The Glenturret distillery is said to be one of Scotland’s oldest distilleries, with claims to 1775 but this is just due to the fact there was an illicit still on the site, although legal distillation started in 1818. Regardless it is one of Scotland’s smallest distilleries, and only produces around 340,000 litres a year. It is also one of the few distilleries that still use a malting floor, and it was famous at one time for having the oldest working cat and most successful mouser. Of course, having large amounts of grain lying on the floor would attract vermin, and distilleries often had cats. However they never had a cat like Glenturret distillery – Towser the Mouser lived from 1963 – 1987, and was present when I visited the distillery. Her estimated kill tally was some 29,000 mice, based on observation by the Guiness Book of Records over several days.

I made an alternative observation about the distillery cat. Being of a younger, non-drinking age when I visited the distillery, I wondered what would happen if the malt men saw cat foot prints across the malt floor. Would they wonder if the cat had mistaken it for kitty litter? Such are the thoughts of a 12 year old…… I do remember that because I couldn’t get the free sample at the end, I was given a sugar mouse instead. Nice touch.

The Glenturret distillery until recently was owned by the Edrington Group, owners of Highland Park, Glenrothes and Macallan Distillery. The distillery was also home to the Famous Grouse experience, which a brand also owned by Edrington. But by 2018, Edrington announced that it was to sell the Glenturret distillery and the Famous Grouse Experience in its current form was to close. The distillery was bought by Art and Terroir, a company owned by Lalique. The less said about terroir the better, but that will come up in a future article.

We have to come to the point that we are discussing why I am tasting a dram from Glenturret. Well, I am sure you can remember my recent articles on cask purchases. In both these articles, I was assisted by Mark Littler, a whisky broker who made sure that I got my facts right. Well, it turns out that Mark has plenty of other strings on his bow and also runs a company called ‘Cheaper By The Dram’. This is some thing that may be of interest to those of us who cannot afford the expensive bottles at auction, due to flippers or their rarity. Mark was kind enough to offer me a sample to thank me for the mentions and links, and it is with this sample I am going to give more gratuitous links and promotion, as I feel that the concept behind his company is actually a sound one.


The package

Essentially, what Cheaper By The Dram (CBTD to save my typing!) aim to do is bring the normally rare and unobtainable whisky into the reach of the average drinker. Quite often there are rarer or limited whiskies released that are instantly snapped up, often by flippers who are just out to make a profit. However this can seriously distort the secondary market, and often leave a bottle of whisky sitting outside the reach of the person who wants to do what whisky is designed for – drinking!


Bottle and Card

CBTD works by taking a bottle of whisky and dividing it up in to 30ml portions. This makes a sample more affordable for those of us who can’t afford a full size bottles, or even for people like myself who can’t afford to open some of his collectables! While some of the samples may seem quite expensive for what they are, I can say that they do represent good value – for instance a 23 year old Macallan from 1971 3CL sample was only £25. Just looking at a whisky bar price list now reveals a Macallan 1988 / 28 year old 35ml sample at £35.


Minimum info on the bottle

The presentation of the dram is also pretty good as well. These come in a stout bespoke cardboard box, which includes a card with the bottle details. The bottle itself has the minimal information required by law, and NOT FOR RESALE clearly marked on it. Indeed, the details I received with the bottle states that should CBTD see one of their bottles for sale, it will do all it can to stop the person it was sold to buying anything again from their site.


The original bottle

This is summed up best in their hashtag #sipdontflip that they are using as part of a campaign to encourage people to enjoy whisky as it was meant to be, rather than flipping it which in turn puts it out of the reach of the average drinker and even some collectors.

So, with all this information in hand – lets move onto the whisky.


The Sample

Distillery

Glenturret

Region

Highlands

Age

12 Years Old

Strength

40% ABV

Colour

Mid Honey

Nose

Sweet, Floral, Pear, Green Apple. Slight musky smell that reminded me of carpet and Parade Gloss shoe polish.

Palate

Suprisingly in spite of the nose, this one was a short burst of sweetness, followed by sour. However in the background there is a good honey note. It has a strangely mouldy note, but not unpleasant. The sweet, floral note almost reminded me of another 1980’s throwback, Parma Violets.

Finish

Mid length. There is a bitterness that is stronger than the sweetness, but the Parma Violet note is still there with a hint of liquorice.


The Dram

Conclusions

I have to be honest in my assessment here – this is a dram that I thought on initial taste that I was not going to enjoy. The sour note didn’t do it for me. It made me worry about what I was going to write, as it isn’t nice to be supplied with a generous gift, only to be ungrateful about it. But the group of travellers that we are on the whisky road should know that sometimes whisky does behave like wine, and it just needs a little bit of time. Within a couple of sips I had a Parma Violet note, although not as sweet. The sour note then revealed the honey behind it, and once I started picking out flavours, this became a very pleasant dram.

Yes, it wasn’t to my normal taste, but that is what whisky is about. Sometimes we need to take ourselves out of our comfort zone and while this whisky did for me, it put me back into a familiar comfort zone. In this article I have referenced my visit to the distillery – I can now recall that sugar mouse. It made me remember Parma Violets – straight back to the 10p confectionary mix bags we got as kids. And finally, the recognition of Parade Gloss – brought back from when I started attending the Air Cadets in the mid 80’s and when spit and polish wasn’t just a cliche; it was a weekly reality on my boots and parade shoes!


Dead Bottle

Would I recommend this dram? Yes, I think I would, and not just because of its source. We get our taste notes based on memories of what has gone before, and this is what this dram did for me. And this is the beauty of CBTD. It is one of the drams I wouldn’t necessarily buy at auction to try, but being able to try an older whisky without the commitment to a full bottle is a definite plus, especially amongst the older and more popular drams.

And anything that sticks one in the eyes of flippers gets my vote. #sipdontflip

Slainte Mhath

Scotty

Many thanks to Mark Littler / Cheaper By The Dram for this very intriguing sample. I am sure to become one of your customers in the near future.

You can reach the CBTD site by clicking here. And don’t worry. Even though this review was endorsing a product I didn’t pay for, if I didn’t like it I wouldn’t be afraid to say so. The review is a genuine reflection of what I thought of the whisky.

Index of tastings here

Index of articles here


This blog is written as a hobby. If you liked this article, consider following the blog by clicking on the icon at the bottom of the browser page somewhere to get tastings, visits and articles to your email inbox. Or join me on my other social media channels below. Also, feel free to share, and spread the whisky love ❤️❤️

Scotty’s Drams encourages responsible drinking. To find out the facts about drink, and where to find help if you need it visit Drinkaware.co.uk by clicking on the link.

Photo Credits

All Photos – Authors Own

Speyburn Surprise

Taste Review #45 – Speyburn 10

This review has gathered a wee bit of attention already. I just put out a few clues on the Facebook page as what the next review would be and the traction it gained was a wee bit of a surprise. None of you got it right, not even close! Perhaps we want a wee competition like this every now and again?

On my holidays over the festive season, I took a bundle of malt miniatures with me so I could continue building my backlog of taste reviews for when I was offshore. One of the bottles I picked up happened to be this Speyburn. There was an inwardly groan as it was yet another 10 year old, but it’s in the pile and review it we must!

John Lennon once said “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans”, and in my case this was so true, as on Boxing Day I went down with a severe bout of man flu and couldn’t smell or taste a thing. We are now well into the first week of January and this will be my first dram of 2020. God knows when the review will be published, but such is life. That I can’t plan.

Speyburn distillery sits to north of the village of Rothes, in Speyside. Just to the east of the A941 Elgin – Craigellachie Road, you can see the pagoda roof stick up from amongst the trees. It is said that is is Scotland’s most photographed distillery but I doubt that is the case as there isn’t a good place to stop and take a picture, and it fades into insignificance compared to Strathisla distillery.


Speyburn Distillery, just to the north of Rothes

Speyburn has been one of those malts that have been below the UK whisky radar for some time and is almost as hidden as thet building itself. As a whisky that has mostly been used for blends in the past, it doesn’t seem to have a great deal of exposure over here in Scotland. However the current owners, Inver House Distillers have been making some good, award winning whisky. They also own Old Pulteney, Balblair, Knockdhu (AnCnoc) and Balmenach distilleries, most of which are very highly regarded whiskies in their own right. Only Balmenach doesn’t produce a branded single malt, but is also the location where Caorunn gin is produced.

The Speyburn distillery started production in 1897, which was Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee year. It is one of Charles Doig’s designs, and is marked by the pagoda style ventilator. One of Doig’s other inventions, the pneumatic drum malting was also installed here, and was in use until 1968 when malting stopped at the site.


Flora and Fauna. Possibly first official bottling but had very limited run and now worth a kings ransom.

The village of Rothes had a further 4 distilleries, 3 of which are still in production – Glen Grant, Glen Spey, and Glenrothes. Sadly, Caperdonich closed in 2002, and was demolished in 2010. It is now the site of Forsyths, who manufacture distillery equipment, and are well known for their stills. Speyburn has fared better than most, having only been silent for 4 years from 1930. It survived the Pattison Crash and also the 1980’s whisky loch, unlike its neighbour to the north, Coleburn.

Speyburn is a malt you don’t see a lot of in the UK, but that is starting to change. I believe it’s first official release was the Flora and Fauna Speyburn 12 in 1991. This is the holy grail of whiskies, as it was only produced for reportedly one run before the distillery was sold to Inver House. It is the rarest of all the Flora and Fauna bottlings, and prices are now starting to go above £2000 a bottle. Not bad for a release that only cost around £35 when available on the shelves! I’m quite happy as I have a couple in my storage unit, but obviously can’t afford to drink them, so a modern Speyburn is as close as I’ll get.

There isn’t too much to do in Rothes itself, but you can visit Glen Grant distillery, and the Macallan distillery is very close. To the north you have the option of the Glen Moray distillery to visit.

Despite its relatively unknown presence in the UK, it has done quite well in International spirit competitions, and is a top ten single malt in the US. Without further ado, let’s crack on and see what the fuss is about.


Our dram for tasting


Region

Speyside

Age

10 years

Strength

40% abv

Colour

Pale gold

Nose

Honey, creamy lemon, citrus, green apple. Some floral and herbal aromas in there. Quite a fresh smell. I got reminded of freshly laundered linen.

Palate

Quite timid on the arrival. Medium bodied, not as thin as some other 10 year old whiskies I’ve tried recently. Subtle malt notes, a hint of a toasted cereal giving a slight sweet taste. Vanilla, pineapple, herbs and a light bit of sweet liquorice.

Finish

More malt in the finish, which for me tended to be short to medium. I got some spicy oak there too which was very pleasant which rounded out to be sweet in the conclusion.


The dram under test

Conclusion

Quite a surprise. I felt that my taste and smell senses may not have returned to normal after my cold, but there was flavour aplenty in this dram. I didn’t find it that complex at all, but then maybe my cold is hiding other taste and smell sensations, but going on what I did taste I enjoyed it considerably. It has all the essences of a decent Speyside whisky. It has been matured in American Oak Bourbon casks and some ex-sherry casks, and although I couldn’t say that I picked up the sherry influence, it was still sweet enough.

What is also amazing that this is a cheap whisky. You can pick this up for mid 20’s €/$/£ which is a total bargain. Yes, there may be cheaper bottles but you are getting a well built Scotch Single Malt for the money. In my mind I wasn’t expecting a lot and the price point was what was swaying me, but this is because it isn’t that popular a malt in the UK. Despite being widely available (Pretty sure I’ve seen it in Tesco) it doesn’t seem to have a lot of marketing spent on it in the UK which is a shame. As it seems to be a distillery that produces mostly for blends don’t let this distract you from the fact that there is also a NAS whisky as well as a 15 and 18 year old available.

If I was to pick fault with this, it’s solely because I suspect there is colouring added but not a lot. I’d also say it has been chill filtered, but most malts at this price point have. A higher abv would be a great leap forwards, but still there is nothing wrong with this whisky.

I don’t think I will go out to buy a bottle of this, but not because there is anything wrong with it. Indeed, I can recommend this whisky and if I do find myself with a Single Malt shortage combined with a tight bank account, this malt definitely hits the mark. I won’t be buying this as it has opened my eyes to Speyburn and will definitely be buying one of the older age statements. I also recommend this dram to people as is well made and would be perfect as an everyday sipper or even as a present. In this case, budget does not mean bad.

For me this presents a problem. I’m now looking at pictures of my Flora and Fauna bottles and wondering even more how they would compare. Thank god I store my stash in a different city!

Slainte Mhath!

Scotty

Index of tastings here

Index of articles here

This is written as a hobby, and I appreciate your likes and shares, either on WordPress, or why not visit one of my other social media channels. Lets spread the whisky love!

Scotty’s Drams encourages responsible drinking. To find out the facts about drink, and where to find help if you need it visit Drinkaware.co.uk by clicking on the link.

Photo credits

Speyburn Distillery – Anne Harrison under Creative Commons Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Other photos – Authors own.

Break Out Your Inner Viking!

Taste Review #44 – Highland Park 12 Viking Honour


Highland Park Distillery Pagoda


Sometimes good things come from situations that you may not expect much from, and the surprise makes the good thing seem that much better. One of those things for me was a holiday in 2004. Myself and a couple of friends took advantage of a Northlink Ferry offer for 4 nights B&B and a car between Aberdeen and Kirkwall, the main town of the Orkney Isles.

To be brutally honest, I wasn’t really expecting much from the break, as it was mid April, and that isn’t a time of year that promises great weather that far north. If anything I was just going for something to do, and I was hoping my luck would be in with one of the ladies I was travelling with. Needless to say nothing that I expected or hoped for came to pass.

The holiday was fantastic. The weather came to hold for the time we were there. Orkney has so much to see. I won’t say too much, but if archeology, Vikings, World War 2 history and looking at some fairly desolate landscapes are your thing, you need to go. It is a really great place to go.

Orkney is home to 2 distilleries, Scapa and Highland Park. Both are close to Kirkwall, but Highland Park is the most northerly of the two. The distillery was founded in 1798, but wasn’t fully licensed until 1826. It still retains an olde worlde appearance with its traditional stone buildings and the fact it is one of only a handful of Scottish distilleries still using a malting floor.


Highland Park Malting Floor


I remember thinking when I saw the malting floor as to whether or not the distillery had a cat. As leaving a food source on the ground often attracts mice, distilleries often had cats as pest control. The last three distillery cats unfortunately met their end on the road that passes beside the distillery and I reckon Health and Safety would probably frown on cats in distillery now, so that’s not going to happen. Perhaps they would still be there had they been fully paid up members of the Tufty Club.


Highland Park 12 y.o – Viking Honour


And onto the dram.

Region

Highland

Age

12 years

Strength

40% a.b.v

Colour

Light honey gold

Nose

Honey, Heather, slight smoke, citrus, milk chocolate, dusty wood.

Palate

Quite sweet, honeyed, which then opens up to a creamy, silky wood and heather taste. Floral notes. Light smoke there that has come with the use of peat, but by no means peaty.

Finish

Smokey wood, syrupy. Quite a solid, but medium finish. Lightly smoked wood.


The Dram


Conclusion

It’s been quite some time since I’ve had any Highland Park and I am kicking myself. I shouldn’t have left it so long. It’s actually a pleasant dram, with plenty of sweetness and heathery honey notes. Although the official line from the distillery is that it has been matured in Sherry casks, sources tell me that some of the casks are ex bourbon. It’s a shame that producers can’t be a bit more up front. It doesn’t make a difference – it’s still a great drink.

As Highland Park is owned by Edrington, the owners of Macallan, this is part of a luxury brand of whisky, and Highland Park can command good prices at auction. I’d be wary of non-age statement HP in the same way I am with Macallan whisky, as premium prices don’t always give you a truly premium whisky, but this 12 year old is great and I could thoroughly recommend it.

My sample cost me £5.65 from The Whisky Shop Dufftown, and a full bottle should be around the £30 mark, but can be cheaper on offer.

Definitely recommended.

Slainte Mhath!

Scotty

Index of tastings here

Index of articles here


This blog is written as a hobby. If you liked this article, consider clicking here to visit my Facebook page or following the blog by clicking on the icon at the bottom of the browser page somewhere to get tastings, visits and articles to your email inbox. Also, feel free to share, and spread the whisky love ❤️❤️


Scotty’s Drams encourages responsible drinking. To find out the facts about drink, and where to find help if you need it visit Drinkaware.co.uk by clicking on the link.


Photo credits

Colin Smith / Highland Park Distillery Pagoda / CC BY-SA 2.0

Lakeworther / Malting floor at Highland Park Distillery CC BY-SA 3.0

All other photos – Authors own.

It’s Not Always Grim Up North

Taste Review #43 – Wolfburn Morven

This bottle was one of a selection of miniatures that I bought at Inverness Airport, and the Wolfburn miniature bottles were really eye-catching. The dark olive green bottle of the Morven and the similarly opaque black bottle of Northland were just begging me to buy them – honest! It was the first time that I’d actually noticed any produce from the Wolfburn distillery, so I seized the chance to buy them. I’ve been staring at the bottles in my box of samples and I’ve finally given in to try one of them.

The Wolfburn distillery is the most northerly distillery on the UK mainland, based in Thurso, up on the northern Caithness coast. According to the distillery website, the original distillery was started in 1821, but according to some records it ceased regular production in the 1850’s, but some records indicate sporadic production in the 1860’s. The 1872 map of the area shows the distillery marked as a ruin, and gone by 1877.

The new distillery was founded in 2012 and started production in early 2013. It is about 350m away from the old distillery and shares the same water source, the Wolf burn. The new distillery sits within a modern industrial estate just to the west of Thurso.


Morven (see credits)


This expression is named after a prominent hill in Caithness called Morven. At 706m, it is one of the hills that is instantly recognisable from a distance. It isn’t that easy getting that far north – the A9 trunk road is not the easiest journey to undertake, and it is probably better to take a train on the far north line. This line shows some of the most amazing scenery in North Scotland, travelling north from Inverness. The train travels through what is known as ‘Flow Country’ which is the largest blanket bog moor in Europe, and has many sites of scientific interest. By taking the train you would also visit Wick, which has the Pulteney distillery, but if you take the car, north of Inverness, you’d be able to visit Glen Ord, Dalmore, Glenmorangie, Dornoch, Balblair, Clynelish, Pulteney and Wolfburn. That would be some tour.

Thurso is also close to John O Groats, which is worth a quick visit when the weather is nice, and hadn’t been so commercialised as Lands End.

My last bit of trivia on the area is that Prince George, Duke of Kent, the brother of King George VI, died when the Sunderland flying boat he was a passenger in crashed on a hill close to Morven in August 1942.

Onto the whisky….


Wolfburn Morven


Region

Highland

Age

Wolfburn Morven has no age statement

Strength

46% abv

Nose

Smokey, but not heavily so. Slight aroma of iodine, but nowhere near Ardbeg levels. Fruit – green apples, grapes

Palate

Quite smooth. Smoke, medium peat, nutty malt, slightly tannic, peppery oak, slight fruity notes.

Finish

Sweet smoke and spice. Oaky with a bit of gingerbread.


The Dram


Conclusion

The whisky was quite pleasant, but quite obviously a young spirit. This expression has been matured in ex-bourbon casks and quarter casks. The smaller quarter casks give more wood contact, and this was evident in the tannic notes. There was in my opinion an obvious wood note where the spirit just has had too long in a quarter cask. The quarter cask is a way of maturing whisky that little bit faster with no artificial trickery, but it seems slightly overdone to me, but by no means overly so and it is still a very good dram.

It is in my opinion quite endemic in the industry where a new distillery is rushing spirit out just to start making a return on the investment. But, also in my opinion, Wolfburn Morven gets away with it. And the 2018 FiftyBest Double Gold award highlights that.

The peat isn’t heavy. It’s probably quite low, about 10-20ppm, so nowhere near as peaty as the peat monsters of the west coast islands, but enough of a bite to tell you it has seen a sod or two of the dark stuff during malting.

Like my last review of Glencadam 10, this is also at 46%, natural colour and unchillfiltered. I’d say the age of the spirit is about 4-5 years old, but this has a pleasant smoothness, is not complex but is well balanced.

I personally hope this distillery does move towards age statements, as this has the potential to be an epic whisky.

Do I recommend? Yes, you should try this if you want to dip your toe into peaty whisky. Will I buy another? Not immediately, but will probably buy a full size bottle.You should definitely keeping an eye on this distillery, as with their first releases, it seems everything is in place to make an epic dram.

Slainte Mhath!

Scotty

Index of tastings here

Index of articles here


This blog is written as a hobby. If you liked this article, consider clicking here to visit my Facebook page or following the blog by clicking on the icon at the bottom of the browser page somewhere to get tastings, visits and articles to your email inbox. Also, feel free to share, and spread the whisky love ❤️❤️


Scotty’s Drams encourages responsible drinking. To find out the facts about drink, and where to find help if you need it visit Drinkaware.co.uk by clicking on the link.


Photo credits

Morven – The track to Corrichoich and Morven Andrew Tryon under Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0

Other Photos – Authors own

Aye aye Captain!

Taste Review #41 – Glenlivet Captain’s Reserve

It has been one of those days when I think it is time I reviewed another full size bottle rather than just the miniatures, plus I do have a few full size bottles that need to be be cleared. This week I added another two, possibly three into my drinking collection and another 3 into my investment collection. Going to have to get a move on in clearing the back log.


The bottle and some incidental Scotty’s Drams merchandise.


The bottle on test for this review is a Glenlivet Captain’s Reserve, which has no age statement and is only 40% abv which as you know I’m generally not a fan of. However, what got me was the fact it had an unusual finishing, having been finished in Cognac casks. Generally speaking, whisky is usually only finished in wine, port, sherry or rum casks. However recent changes to what the Scottish Whisky Association will now allow have seen many distillers experiment. Glen Moray have made a whisky this year that was matured in whisky casks that had also held cider. This Glenlivet bottle however has used a Cognac cask. Shouldn’t be an issue, after all, Cognac is just distilled wine.

Glenlivet is the valley that carries the River Livet, which rises in the hills between Tomintoul in Morayshire and Lumsden in Aberdeenshire. To the northern edge of this area lies the Cabrach, which is an area of limited farming and hilly moorland. Prior to the 1823 Excise Act, the area of Cabrach and Glenlivet was a hotbed of illicit distilling, and it is somewhat ironic that the land owner, the 4th Duke of Gordon was the one who petitioned the House of Lords to pass an act to make the taxes on whisky distilling fairer, especially when on his lands some of Scotland’s finest hooch was being made.

George Smith started his distillery in Glenlivet in 1824, and such was his reputation that many other distilleries in the area appended the word ‘Glenlivet’ to their names. Partly this was because they were in the Glenlivet area, but at one time Glenlivet was used pretty much in the same way as Speyside is used now. However, after the death of George Smith, his son took legal action to stop other distilleries riding on their coat tails. This was only partially successful; Smith was the only distillery allowed to use The Glenlivet name, but other distilleries were allowed to hyphenate their name with the word Glenlivet being used as a geographical marker.

The other distilleries in Glenlivet are the Tamnavoulin distillery which was opened in the 1960’s, and the highest distillery in Scotland, Braes of Glenlivet Distillery opened in 1973, but has changed its name to Braeval in order to avoid confusion with its much bigger and more famous neighbour


Glenlivet Distillery


The distillery has only been fully silent once during World War 2 due to a lack of barley, and once reopened, it didn’t take too long to get up to pre-war production levels.

The Glenlivet distillery currently has the largest capacity of any single malt producer in Scotland. This is massive 21 million litres a year of spirit, which will make a good few bottles. It’s nearest competitor is Macallan at 15 million litres a year. Mass production always concerns me, as it often feels quantity is more important than quality but let’s see…


Region

Speyside

Age

Glenlivet Captain Reserve has NAS

Strength

40% a.b.v

Colour

Rich gold

Nose

Honey, Malt, Apricot, cinnamon buns, rich, dried raisins, grapes

Palate

Sweet. Stewed berries, red grapes, raisins, citrus. Quite creamy and smooth. Slightly waxy mouthfeel.

Finish

Opened up with a short to medium finish. A great explosion of warmth going down your throat but not harsh. Milk chocolate note towards the end of the event.


Captain’s Reserve dram


Conclusion

My initial curiosity about this bottle was the fact it was finished in a cognac cask. I’m going to have to confess with the lack of an age statement, 40% abv, I wasn’t expecting too much. I knew it would be a decent dram, but I was not prepared for how good it is.

As much as I comment about lack of ABV and age statements, as well as the fact it is probably chill filtered and coloured, I am not a whisky snob, and I have to say that this one is a cracker. Indeed, before I finished my review, the dram was gone and I really could use another. Maybe there’s crack cocaine in it. Quite more-ish.

This is a surprise indeed, and despite there not being much complexity, this is a very easy drinker, and would be good for a beginner, or those who like just a whisky that isn’t challenging, but has enough engagement to keep you interested.

This was bought for my Christmas last year, and I’ve only just opened it. It was a present from my wife, and I don’t know how much it cost her. I’m just glad that I thought this might not be a core release forever more, and have a couple in store.

Even the packaging suggests quality, with a very eye catching purple box and the same colour contained on the bottle label

You can buy this for around £45, and it is good value. I’d make a guess that there isn’t a lot of young whisky in there, which further gives an impression of value. Would I buy another? Yes I would.

A recommended try and would be a worthy addition to your drinking stock.

Slainte Mhath!

Scotty

Index of tastings here

Index of articles here


This blog is written as a hobby. If you liked this article, consider clicking here to visit my Facebook page or following the blog by clicking on the icon at the bottom of the browser page somewhere to get tastings, visits and articles to your email inbox. Also, feel free to share, and spread the whisky love ❤️❤️


Scotty’s Drams encourages responsible drinking. To find out the facts about drink, and where to find help if you need it visit Drinkaware.co.uk by clicking on the link.


Photo credits

Distillery photo – Iggy-x. Used under GNU license version 2

Other photos authors own.

Don’t be a Daftie!!

Taste Review #40 – Daftmill 2006 Winter Release

At the time of writing, this has been a week where everybody seems to have lost their minds (There’s just been a General Election in the UK), I thought that Daftmill would probably be the best whisky to try next. There’s certainly a lot of dafties of all descriptions on-line at the moment, so one more won’t be noticed. However, Scotty’s Drams is a place where we can leave that all behind as it’s solely whisky matters that we are interested in here.

Also, judging by my estimated time of publishing, this should also be the first review of the year, so Happy New Year to you all, and I wish you all the best for 2020.

Situated just to the west of Cupar in Fife, Scotland, Daftmill is a single farm distillery. This means everything takes place on the farm, though being on a working farm means that the distillery is silent for half the year. Distilling takes place in two separate three month periods, from November to February and for three months after spring. Being a small distillery which has a capacity of 20000 litres a year inherently limits production further and consequently isn’t the easiest bottle to get your hands on. Indeed, I’ve never seen one on the primary market, only at auction.

Normally, limited releases like this don’t interest me, as they are often only available at vastly inflated prices on the secondary market thanks to the demand and the greed of flippers. However this was soon to change as I managed to get a small sample from Roy at Aqvavitae.com and one smell of this sample made me realise that one sample would not be enough therefore I had to buy a bottle to drink.

I quickly realised that one full bottle wouldn’t last long and given the rarity, I decided to buy another one for my collection if I could find one at a decent cost. One soon turned up so now I have one in my collection and one that’s open. I still haven’t opened the sample to drink but decided rather to open the full size bottle in order that I can share it with friends.


I’ve done it. The most expensive bottle opened to date on Scotty’s Drams


One of the good things about Daftmill is that Francis Cuthbert is insistent that this whisky is for drinking and not for flipping and a single cask release #68 has not been bottled for sale but have been bottled for sale as drams in selected bars only. This is quite innovative and means that it takes away some of the unicorn aspect of this spirit and allows true whisky enthusiasts a chance to try it without breaking the bank in buying a full bottle. See this article.

There are more and more single cask releases available, some released through Royal Mile Whiskies or Luvians bottle shop in Cupar and St Andrews. Some single cask bottlings are realising high prices at auction.

As Daftmill is a working farm, there is no visitor facilities, as farm work takes priority. However, it’s location is close to other distilleries that do – Lindores Abbey, Kingsbarns and Eden Mill distilleries are all close by, as is the historic town of St Andrews. Or why not try a visit to Dundee? Certainly an exciting regenerating city that is worth a look.

And onto the dram.

Region

Lowland

Age

12 years

Strength

46% a.b.v

Colour

Golden straw.

Nose

Creamy, velvety, rich toffee, peaches, citrus, pineapple, vanilla

Palate

Buttery, pastry. slightly waxy. Barley sugars, vanilla. A touch of pepper and nutmeg.

Finish

Drying, Medium length. Slightly bitter notes, lemon meringue, oak. On a hard exhalation there was a mint choc note.


The Dram

Conclusion

One of the things I have to say that this dram brings immense joy and sadness. The sadness is that I cannot really afford to buy another bottle of this dram. The joy is multi-fold that I am enjoying such a lovely whisky. Very well balanced. This one has been matured in 1st fill Bourbon casks, which will be American Oak, and as such have definitely influenced the creamy and vanilla notes that are present in this whisky. The aroma has quite a fruity note, with juicy oranges in there and I detected peaches and pineapple, but to get that I had to put my nose right into the glass and take a sharp intake of breath.

In the mouth it hits an excellent balance between creamy and oily, giving a very pleasant mouthfeel, but it is a bit drying. A hint of spice appeared after I added some water, but even though this is 46% it didn’t really need water.

The finish wasn’t as impressive as I had hoped given the wonderful nose and palate, but it’s still very pleasant. It took a while to get some of the flavours, but still engaging enough. I expect this dram to improve as the level in the bottle goes down


The lower full level got opened. The JE Benrinnes is up for tasting at some point.


Suffice to say that this is close to a unicorn dram, so there won’t be a lot available. I know of a good handful of these that have been opened, and as there was only 1625 bottles released, if you see one in the wild at a price you can afford, jump on it. You’ll thank me. have two bottles, and I had to pay at auction £168 for one and £212 for the other and while admittedly a bit steep given that the release price was £95, that’s the going rate on the secondary market, and has since climbed. This hopefully is the peak price, although it’s an early release and prices may drop for other editions as supply increases. You still have a lot of people desperate to try this whisky, and that is also driving prices up. As it goes, if you want one the cost will vary and there is sense in not chasing one too hard just yet unless you HAVE to try it, as one will turn up. But now there is now another 3rd release open, and will now never return to the secondary market, and therefore the price for this edition will invariably climb. However, this will make the Cuthbert Family happy knowing that another of their whiskies have been opened and enjoyed.

Keep your eyes open for these being released and certainly take a peak on the Daftmill website www.daftmill.com

Lastly, is this the best whisky I have tasted in 2019? All I will say is that it’s up there in the top 5, but over the years there has been whiskies I’ve enjoyed more. It goes without saying that Daftmill will definitely be a distillery to watch.

Slainte Mhath!

Scotty

Index of tastings here

Index of articles here


This blog is written as a hobby. If you liked this article, consider clicking here to visit my Facebook page or following the blog by clicking on the icon at the bottom of the browser page somewhere to get tastings, visits and articles to your email inbox. Also, feel free to share, and spread the whisky love ❤️❤️


Scotty’s Drams encourages responsible drinking. To find out the facts about drink, and where to find help if you need it visit Drinkaware.co.uk by clicking on the link.


Photo credits

All photos – Authors own.