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.

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


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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

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

Other photos authors own.