Top Of The Drops

What floated my boat in 2020.

Well it’s come to the end of the year almost and it goes without saying that all of us are pretty much looking back on a year that never happened. The coronavirus has changed so much in our lives, very little of it good. I hope you have all managed to cling on and will look towards 2021 as being a better year.

The one thing for me that did change is that I reviewed about 45 drams for my blog, and as I am often asked what I have as my favourite, I think I should do a quick review. After all, that’s what everybody else seems to do, and why should I be any different?


A decent whisky, despite being quite young. Didn’t make the top five, but would buy again. Gets into the top 5 of attractive bottles though.

Firstly, I could not pick an absolute favourite. That was too hard. Secondly, it had to be obtainable so if you want to try it, you can without breaking the bank. So that whittles out Yellow Submarine, which while still easy enough to get, it is only available on the secondary market at silly prices. Same goes for most of the silent distilleries I reviewed.

So without much more pomp and ceremony, my picks for 2020 were in no particular order

  • Glenallachie 15 – £65
  • Glendronach 18 – £97
  • Speyburn 10 – £25 if on offer. Around £30 otherwise
  • Glenlivet Captain’s Reserve – £45
  • Glenglassaugh Revival – £38

I picked all of these as despite them not being the best whisky in the world, after each dram I instantly wanted another. Only the GlenDronach is getting pricey at about £100 a bottle.


A good value dram and a pleasant surprise

For the drams that are not easily available or limited edition, I would pick

  • Macallan 10 y.o – £400+ at auction including fees
  • Glenfarclas 2005 14 y.o Cask 2588 – released at £150
  • TWBC Invergordon 42 Batch 15 – £180+ at auction including fees
  • Allt Dour 8 – Robertson’s of Pitlochry – £55 (still available at time of writing!)
  • North British 30 Single Grain (Dramfool) – £95 on release.

Allt Dour. My review is responsible for at least 10 sales.

Just goes to show you that you do not have to spend much for a decent dram, plus it is important that you aren’t a dram snob. Never thought I’d enjoy the Glenlivet or Speyburn so much.

In all fairness, if rarity or lack of accessibility wasn’t an issue, the Allt Dour would win top spot, with the Invergordon following closely behind. But because these drams have limited availability it’s hard to recommend them as overall winners. The Allt Dour at the time of writing is still available from Robertson’s of Pitlochry, but I’d be quick in getting one before they all go. I’ve bought a second one already.

We’ll skip over the worst whisky. It’s the last review of the year. Pay attention as I do vent my spleen quite extensively. That will be published on 30th December. Remember that you may well like what I don’t, and half of what I write in my very infrequent negative reviews is meant for entertainment

Cheers to Scotty’s Drams for the recommendations.” While i enjoyed Haig Clubman, it didn’t make the top 5.

Turning the tables somewhat but what was your dram of the year? Did you buy and actually open a Macallan? Have you gone crazy for the latest wave of inaugural bottlings? Drop me a line and let me know your favourites. If I can, I might even try to review them.

Lastly, thanks for all your support. It’s good to know so many people read what I write. The best thing you can do for me is encourage your whisky loving friends to like or follow one of the social media streams I use (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or even this WordPress blog). It will only encourage me to publish more, assuming that’s what you want!

Wishing you all the very best for the New Year. May your 2021 be much improved over this year past. Stay safe, keep looking forward and get ready for year 3 of Scotty’s Drams.

Yours in Spirits

Scotty

Index of tastings here

Index of articles here


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

Except – Haig Club / David Beckham – c/o Diageo.

Rockin’ All Over The World

Taste Review #50 – GlenAllachie 15

At the time of writing this, I’m in Poland visiting family, and God knows where I’ll be when this eventually gets published, which by my reckoning will be somewhere around March. And being in Poland at this time of year takes me back to this time last year when I was in Krakow and decided to start Scotty’s Drams. The only thing that bums me out is that I don’t have a sample of the dram I was drinking when I decided to go for an amateur career in whisky blogging. Suffice to say I haven’t reviewed it yet, but its time will come!

GlenAllachie has already been reviewed this past 12 months, but it was the 12 year old I tried, and that has a solid thumbs up! It was when on my journey of whisky geekery in early October last year that I obtained a sample of the recently released 15 year old after making a purchase from one of my preferred friendly whisky shops. Since it has been in my possession, it has travelled around a bit within Scotland but I’ve never had the chance to sit down and try it. Now my daughter is in bed, I am now free to imbibe this drample.

I’m not going to write much more about the distillery, as I did that in review #16 which you can see here – GlenAllachie 12. There is a bit more about the distillery there.

What I can say is, that even in the short time that Billy Walker has been at GlenAllachie, he has built up an impressive reputation in what was an anonymous blend fodder distillery for Chivas Brothers. The 15 year old slots into the GlenAllachie core range with the 10 (CS), 12, 18 and 25 year old releases.

Anyway, less reading, more sipping! Let’s get down to the tasting.

Travel Veteran Dram. Finally got time to taste it!

Region

Speyside

Age

15 years

Strength

46% abv

Colour

Golden Mahogany

Nose

Vanilla, raisins, banana, honey, a dairy note of plain yoghurt or sour cream. Nutmeg.

Palate

Ohh. A strong tobacco note on first taste. On second taste a noted sourness develops, grapefruit. Leather, spicy wood, caramel, almost gingery. The sourness disappeared with the addition of water, and much more sweetness came out, with more dried fruits and a creamy toffee.

Finish

Medium to long. Quite peppery, as though I’ve just chewed a pink peppercorn, with the resultant fruity flavours. The sourness continues and it fades into sweetness. I’m getting cinnamon and ginger, almost like Irn Bru. Very eventful finish indeed.

The Dram

Conclusion

Well, the purpose of free samples is to try and get you to buy more, and in this case I’ll say it has worked. I did really like this whisky, and I will be buying one once I have finished with the 12 year old GlenAllachie I currently have open. I have to say that compared to the 12, this one was not so instantly enjoyable and it took me 3 or four sips to start recognising flavours. The sourness was a surprise, as this has been finished in a combination of Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry casks. PX is a sweet sherry and Oloroso is a fruity sherry, and I think that I just picked up the Oloroso first. The addition of water really smoothed things out.

Applying the ABCD, this scores 4/4, as it is non chill filtered, no colouring, 46% and has an age statement. A great sherry bomb whisky which I can fully recommend.

RRP on this bottle is £62.99, but you can pick it up cheaper online. Don’t forget though you will have P&P to add though, so do what I did and go to a friendly local specialist whisky shop. You may get a wee sample while there to light your way to a new discovery!

Thanks to Kat at The Whisky Shop Dufftown for my sample. You were right, it was lovely! Pop in see their selection, or browse and shop online at www.whiskyshopdufftown.com.

Slainte Mhath!

Scotty

Index of tastings here

Index of articles here


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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

Get Your Rocks Off!

Taste Review #16 – GlenAllachie 12

The Glenallachie distillery is a relatively well kept secret on Speyside. Or should I say was a well kept secret on Speyside, as given its new owner, I’d be surprised if this distillery stays on the down-low.

Glenallachie is the anglicised version of the Scots Gaelic ‘Gleann Aileachaidh’ which means ‘Valley of The Rocky Place’. Sitting in the shadow of Ben Rinnes and its granite torrs, the snow meltwater from this hill is what is used to feed the production of this whisky, so the name is quite fitting!

This is a relatively new distillery, given its neighbours in a wee pocket to the south of Aberlour – Dailuaine, Benrinnes, Aberlour and the former Imperial distillery, which is now the new kid on the block – Dalmunach. Glenallachie was built in 1967, and was last in the hands of Pernod Ricard for supplying malt whisky for blending. This was until the purchase in 2017 by the GlenAllachie Distillery Company, a trio of business people who include renowned distiller Billy Walker. Those familiar with the world of Scotch whisky should have no need of an introduction of Mr Walker, formerly part of a business partnership which owned BenRiach, GlenDronach and Glenglassaugh distilleries. These were sold in 2016 to Brown-Foreman, the parent company of Jack Daniels.

The current core range is of 10, 12, 18 and 25 year old bottlings. So let’s move onto the taste review of this single malt.

The sample

Region

Speyside

Age

12 Years

Strength

46% a.b.v

Colour

Slightly dulled brass

Nose

Sweet. I did no research before this taste review, and just in smell alone I got the sherried notes. Rich smelling, cooked dried fruits, vanilla, hint of banana. On the first couple of sniffs I also detected grass (of the non-herbal variety)

Palate

Oily. Initial tingle of spirit opens up to woody, spicy notes. Slightly bitter caramel, light honey, almonds at times, perhaps marzipan.

Finish

Medium long finish. Once the tingle had died away, there is a chocolate mocha flavour that is very pleasant. Nutty and woody to start with. Light brown sugar notes.

Glenallachie 12

Conclusion

The headline for this article couldn’t be any more appropriate. Thinking to the Primal Scream hit record of the same name, there was a definite rocking party going on in the nosing of the dram. So much wonderful aromas there truly was a smell sensation going on.

I was very excited to taste it. Just by the smell you could tell it was a sherried whisky, but this particular malt uses Oloroso, PX and virgin oak casks, and the mix comes out in the taste and smell very distinctly.

The taste? Very good whisky with a definite spirit kick. However for me a bit of a let down on the aroma. I’m not saying I didn’t like it, but I didn’t get as many flavour notes as I did aroma notes. There is a boost at the end, and that was the clear mocha note at the very end of the finish. It hung around on my tastebuds for quite a while.

What gets this whisky a bigger thumbs up is the fact it is naturally presented with no chill filtering or colour adding shenanigans going on. And at 46%, a single teaspoon of water was just enough to smooth it out.

The even better thing about this whisky is that a 70CL bottle can be had for £38.90 at Master Of Malt. Or try your friendly local whisky shop. They may be a little more expensive but there are opportunities for samples and friendly chat. My sample was bought at the Whisky Shop in Dufftown and cost £5.10.

Despite the slight disappointment of the taste versus the nose is still one of my contenders for the best sampling I have reviewed this year. Maybe a bit on the pricey side for a twelve year old, but remember my friends; we are in the pursuit of quality, and this bottle has it. The price point is justified in my opinion.

Given that this was rarely seen as a single malt unless via a small release from an independent bottler, and also that the last official bottle from the Pernod Ricard ownership was a NAS release at 40%, then seeing the quality now released means good things may come from GlenAllachie.

Although I don’t score my whiskies, this would be a 9/10 all day long.

GlenAllachie Distillery

You can now visit the GlenAllachie distillery. Visit theglenallachie.com for more information. They are open Monday – Friday, 10am to 4pm.

Slainte Mhath!


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