From Buckie To Bowmore

Visit Report – Bon Accord Bar, Glasgow.

(And we aren’t talking about the fishing port in North East Scotland!)

A recent trip to Glasgow left a massive disappointment. Two whisky shops and yet no whisky purchased, bringing the total number of consecutive whisky shops visited with no purchase of spirit to 4.

The Bon Accord Bar

Feeling less than manly*, I decided to pay a visit to the Bon Accord, on North Street in Glasgow. This is where the disappointment came to an end. I’ve a great mental image to describe what walking into the Bon Accord is like. Readers of a certain vintage will get this immediately, but not too many decades ago, you could go into a grocers shop with the big shelves behind a large counter, and there on the shelves would be big jars of sweeties** to be put into a quarter pound bag (or bigger if you had more pocket money). Well, the gantry in the Bon Accord reminded me of this. I was metaphorically that kid in a sweetie shop.

The bar and gantry

Where to begin? Let’s start by saying there were so many whiskies on the gantry, bottles two deep on the shelves, it would be impossible to ask for something. They have a whisky menu, but impressively, it is displayed on an Apple iPad app. If you want to browse their collection before you even get to the bar, even from the comfort of your own home, you can plan what dram you fancy, or even plan a flight so you know what sort of budget you are aiming for.

The whisky menu via app

I only popped in for one dram and ended up staying for 2, but also had a lunch special of soup plus roast beef in a Yorkshire pudding, which was £6 for the two courses. The two cost nearly 10 times that amount at £27 and £28 respectively.

The whiskies I chose were a 23 year old Kininvie (batch 3) and SMWS 41.101, which is a Dailuaine 28 year old. That was a fantastic dram, and I have done a separate taste review on each one.

Although these were expensive drinks, don’t panic. There are normally priced whiskies that may still be unusual to find in the average bar. Or, there are more expensive ones should you want to brandish your wallet about with masses of disposable income. The most expensive was the 72 year old Macallan at £5000 a nip, followed closely by the 70 year old Glenlivet at £900. Even a Macallan Easter Elchies Black 2018 was £100 a nip.

The staff showing off the premium bottles

The other thing that was great was the staff. Very friendly and knowledgable about whisky. And, unsurprisingly in Glasgow, full of friendly patter. Somebody in the staff has a wonderful sense of humour as I had spotted a bottle of Buckfast on the top level of the gantry beside boxes for White Bowmore, Black Bowmore and Black Bowmore 1964.

Goes to show the Bon Accord is for everybody with all budgets.

Spot the odd one out.

The Bon Accord is at 153 North Street, Glasgow within the Charing Cross area of the city. You can find their app on the Apple App Store by searching for Bon Accord. They also have a website at www.bonaccordpub.com

*there was no need to feel like this. I’d just picked up auction winnings from SWA. A drinking bottle of Glenmorangie Signet nonetheless.

**sweeties are called candies in the US.

Slainte Mhath!


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photo credits

Whisky App – Bon Accord Bar / Fair Use

other photos – authors own.

No Problems With Peat

Taste Review #11 – Lagavulin 16.

One of the biggest surprises for me in my whisky journey is that I’ve never really had much time for Lagavulin. I’ve been a little bit blinkered and have wondered between Laphroaig, Bruichladdich and Bunnahabhain when considering the delights that the Islay region of Scotch whiskies has to offer. I’ve never tasted a Port Ellen or Kilchoman and haven’t seen much in Bowmore or Caol Ila. Ardbeg is just a little over rated.

With so much spectrum across the Scottish Whisky scene, it is easy to get caught into your favourites, and not look beyond them. This is another reason why I started Scotty’s Drams – to force myself out of my whisky comfort zone and try other things. After all, if I keep reviewing the same things, it won’t be worth writing!

Lagavulin 16

Lagavulin I have often seen described as a complex malt, and not one for beginners. I’m not into that sentiment, as while somebody just starting out in Scotch Whisky – in particular the peat monsters of Islay, may miss some of the flavours, this would not in any way stop you enjoying what you are drinking – there’s a lot of flavours to get!

Complexity is something that confuses me a bit, as I am always wondering what I may be missing. As I completed this taste test, I have to admit that I had the beginnings of a summer cold, and perhaps I did miss some of the flavour notes, but this is a bold whisky, and in order to miss the tastes and aromas, you’d need to have had your head cut off. It’s definitely in your face.

The bottle I have for tasting is not the full size bottle but is the 20CL bottle, which is better value for me. This was bought at the Dalwhinnie Distillery.

Region

Islay

Age

This bottle of Lagavulin has an age statement of 16 y.o.

Strength

43% a.b.v

Colour

Mellow Amber

Nose

Oh wow! There is a lot going on here! Plenty of smoke, a touch of iodine. Salt air and seaweed, perhaps kippers, yet still sweet. Very enticing.

Palate

On arrival I got hints of smokey wood, peat, then hit with a sweetness. Bit of sherry there I think too. Lapsang Souchong notes in it. With water added, the toasted oak could be experienced.

Finish

A pleasantly long finish. Peat smoke dominates, but it’s not overpowering at all. Spicy, fruit finish with vanilla.

The dram in the glass

Conclusion

Is this whisky complex? Yes, it is. But only in the vast contrasts in taste. The smokey sweetness is surprising. The main flavours you cannot escape, even with a cold. It is a very intriguing malt to drink. However there are things for me that knock this malt back a few points, even though I never score my whisky. Firstly, being a malt of the Diageo stable, if it doesn’t say that it’s natural colour, or non-chill filtered, you can bet your bottom dollar that there is E150 in the mix and it has been chill filtered, which is my second point. I added a bit of water which was at room temperature, and there was no appearance of ‘Scotch Mist’ which often happens in lower strength whiskies that haven’t been chill filtered.

While I wonder if the use of colour is just to guarantee consistency across batches, I do wonder more at the decision to chill filter this whisky. I am thinking if I am missing a little bit of flavour, and if Diageo are missing a trick. Perhaps serving us the dram at 46% and dropping the chill filtration will be a good start.

Nonetheless, it is still enjoyable to drink. While tasting it, the salty notes along with the smoke made me think that it would go well with a strong cheese, blue cheese in particular. And in the end, the only thing I would say about it not being a good beginners whisky is the strong flavours, but that’s just a matter of opinion.

I have seen other opinions on other blogs that Lagavulin 16 suffers from batch inconsistency in recent times, but I haven’t been able to say that, as I am not a regular enough drinker of this malt. However, I would buy this again and despite me thinking it’s a bit over rated, I would recommend this whisky

My 20CL bottle cost me £16, but a full size 70CL bottle is available about the £60 mark in the UK, which for a 16 year old whisky is reasonable value.

Slainte Mhath!

This blog is written as a hobby. If you liked this article, consider clicking here to visit my Facebook page or liking sharing this article by clicking on icons below.

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