Anything But Dour!

Taste Review #79 – Allt Dour 8 Year Old

One of the great things in any journey is that while you may have a final destination, there is no stopping you falling down a wormhole, being sidetracked, a metaphorical stop to sniff flowers on a whisky journey. Certainly as I write this I’m still serving 14 day’s quarantine in Indonesia and I have fairly fallen down the YouTube wormhole. It’s funny how one video topic often leads to another, and whilst I started looking at whisky and historical videos, I’m now at the point of considering a cruise, buying a Volvo (just like the middle aged man I am) and possibly thinking how good it would be to own a caravan – all based on video suggestions.

Of course, none of this will be happening, certainly not in the near future, but whisky can be like that. When you taste one you really like, there is always the option of trying others similar. In this case, I’ll refer you to Robertsons of Pitlochry. It is run by Ewan McIlwraith, a man of considerable experience in the whisky industry. He is also a judge for the World Whisky Awards, so he obviously knows his carrots from his onions when it comes to whisky.

I happened to have to go down to Pitlochry to pick up some auction winnings. Pitlochry is a nice, Highland Perthshire village and is a tourist trap. There are a couple of whisky shops there and it made perfect sense to visit them all. Ewan was serving that day in the shop and invited me to have a sample of a Single Cask Benrinnes. Of course, with Benrinnes being one of my go-to Speysides, I obliged. Now, this one had a bite, and while I cannot remember the tasting notes, it was superb. I bought a bottle straight away.

The Robertsons Of Pitlochry Benrinnes bottle with some of its relatives.

And that was my mistake. I put that bottle into store, and I still wish that I’d bought two in order to taste one. Of course, I can always open up the one I have but, but, but, but ….. I want to save it. What a bummer. And so it came to pass that into a wormhole I fell, as I have now kept an eye on any Robertsons Of Pitlochry cask releases.

Fast forward to August 2020. Once again I was looking to see if anything had appeared on the Robertsons of Pitlochry website. And once again the hook was there. A single cask, cask strength Allt Dour at 8 years old. Wasn’t sure what distillery it was so did a wee bit of research. It turns out for this bottling, the distillery have not allowed Ewan to use the distillery name on the label. I’m going keep you in suspense for a bit longer, suffice to say I have reviewed the core release whisky from this distillery before.

For those of you who do not know about Pitlochry, it is a nice small town in Highland Perthshire. It sits in the shadow of the 841m high Ben Vrackie, and has the River Tummel flowing to the west side. Loch Faskally was created when a Hydro Electric Dam was placed across the river, construction being between 1947 and 1950. There is a salmon ladder to allow spawning fish up the river and is part of the tourist attraction at the dam. Of course these are currently closed due to Coronavirus but worth a visit when they reopen.

There are also two whisky distilleries, one slightly outside town, Blair Athol and Edradour are both located at Pitlochry. Both have visitor centres, but as usual it is worth checking they are open before going.

The local area is quite beautiful and worth looking into, but this whisky cannot wait any longer so it is time to move on.

Allt Dour Bottle and Dram


Allt Dour 8 Year Old (Robertsons Of Pitlochry)

The Dram

Region – Highland Age – 8 years old Strength – 59.2% Colour – Burnished (1.1) Cask Type – 1st Fill Sherry Colouring – No Chill Filtered – No Nose – Rich sweetness – creamy caramel, dried fruit raisins, prune. Very more-ish. Adding water, I got a small note of mint toffos. That’s showing my age somewhat. Palate Quite a hit of spirit. Oily mouth feel. Rich dark fruits, toffee and blackcurrant for me dominate. Water tempers the arrival somewhat with a tantalising sweet hit as the whisky goes over the taste buds. The blackcurrant is somewhat reduced and there is an increase to the toffee note. Plum and blackberry are also present in this party on the tongue. Finish – Long. quite a bit of heat when taken neat. A quick burst of blackcurrant, wood spice, ginger. Even with water, there is still a lovely oily coating, leaving with a fruity sourness and a hint of sulphur. Very pleasant.


If you haven’t already worked it out, the distillery in question then I’ll let you know it’s Blair Athol. The distillery takes water from the Allt Dour Burn, and was a good choice of name for when the distillery name could not be used in this case.

This is the 2nd youngest dram I have reviewed, the youngest being the Octomore 9.1 at 5 years old. Younger whisky doesn’t mean bad whisky necessarily. If done correctly it can mean lively, exciting whisky and this certainly meets that benchmark. I had wondered if this would have tasted better at 10 or 12 years old but at first fill Sherry, the cask may have demolished the spirit character. It’s an engaging dram with a good level of complexity which the water will help you tease out. I feel I need more time with this dram to get the full benefit, but on first taste, wow!

This is a great dram that marks all the presentation boxes. Age Statement, Cask Strength, Non Chill Filtered, No added colour. What’s more, it’s only £55 on the Robertsons of Pitlochry website (click on link). That’s a lot of whisky for small money. I gather one of my page followers has already bought three for export to England. Good choice Sir!

It turns out I’m not the only one that thinks it’s great. Well done Ewan!


So, I didn’t learn my lesson from the Benrinnes. I only bought one. However 618 bottles were made so hopefully by time I am ready I can get another…..

…..or it’s back down the wormhole.

Yours In Spirits



To be honest, if it wasn’t for the fact this is a limited release, it would easily be my whisky if the year 2020. Since I’ve been away from home, the memory of the dram is so powerful I cannot wait to get back for another one.

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Taste Review #6 – Blair Athol 12 y.o (F&F)

The dram with a misleading location.

The title of the blog may be slightly misleading as well. F&F stands for Flora and Fauna, a nickname given to a range of whiskies owned by United Distillers (later Diageo) in the early 1990’s by the late whisky writer Michael Jackson. It definitely does not stand for cheap supermarket fashion from Tesco, a joke maybe only relevant to my UK based readers.

Blair Athol Flora And Fauna

I’ll write a blog eventually about Flora and Fauna bottlings, but essentially the range had a picture of a plant or wildlife local to that distillery. There were 26 different distilleries in this portfolio, although only 11 are still available to buy. Even then, some are getting harder to source.

In the early 90’s, most distilleries were still being used to produce whisky for blends and the Flora and Fauna range gave a chance for consumers to try produce from a distillery they would otherwise not get as a single malt. In the case of Blair Athol, for years it has been making whisky to go into Bells blended whisky. There has been an 8 y.o release, but since Diageo took over, the 12 y.o Flora and Fauna being its only regular official release.

Blair Athol distillery has one big surprise with those not familiar with this malt; it’s not in Blair Athol, but seven miles down the A9 road in the village of Pitlochry. This village had a distillery since 1798, but was originally called Aldour. Perhaps the name change was to sweeten the local landowner, the Duke of Athol. Nestled in Highland Perthshire, this is classified as a Highland whisky.

The Blair Athol distillery has a visitor centre that was opened in 1987.

Although I own a couple of these full sized bottles, this taste test was created by the purchase of a 3cl miniature from The Whisky Exchange.

The poured dram


Blair Athol Flora and Fauna has an age statement of 12 years old.


43% a.b.v


Mid to dark Gold


Sweet white wine. Oak. Toffee, sweet notes, perhaps a bit biscuity. More toffee notes once water added.


Gingerbread, nutty, dried fruits. Sweet sherry taste there as well, held a wee bit better with a drop of water.


Short to medium. Spicy oak and nuts. A bit dry to start with, though ends with a wee burst of sweetness. 5 minutes after first sip, had no residual taste at all in my mouth. Sweet part of finish lessened with water, but spicy oak flavour intensified.

The 3cl sample


Quite a pleasant dram. There is colour added and it is chill filtered. Nothing that would set the world on fire, but I found the short finish quite refreshing. This could be an ideal malt to give to someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience with single malt and wants to try some. There are no strong elements that would be off-putting.

This malt is available from Amazon, Master Of Malt or The Whisky Exchange. It costs about £48.

Slainte Mhath!