Under the Whisky Influence

Taste Review #37 – Laphroaig Coffee

Let’s set the scene – It’s a Friday night. I’m sitting at home watching TV with the dog at my feet. And I’m not consuming any alcohol, but am drinking coffee.

All stop on the bus!!

Now that the brakes have been firmly slammed on with our last thought, all is not what it seems. My wife is working late tonight and I have to pick her up. Due to the tough drink drive rules in Scotland, it’s not worth the risk. Besides, drink driving is not cool or clever. But how do I get a whisky-tastic start to the weekend?

One of my fellow whisky bloggers, Tobi from www.barleymania.com had tried a coffee that had been seasoned by placing the beans in a whisky cask for a few weeks. Seeing as coffee is pretty much in my top 2 of drinks, this was something I had to try.


Whisky Influenced Coffee? Aye!!

The coffee roasters in question are Ovenbird Coffee Roasters, based in the Ibrox* (edit, now in Castlemilk) area of Glasgow. They do a series of whisky influenced coffees using Laphroaig and three Auchentoshan coffees. The Laphroaig beans have been in the cask for 10 weeks and the Auchentoshan for 12, 18 or 21 weeks. Almost like an age statement!

I was a bit apprehensive about trying from a small independent coffee roaster. A couple of years ago, one of my colleagues had invested in a start up coffee company near him. He brought a bag of it offshore, as us ROV pilots appreciate a good brew. This coffee was called ‘Wee Stoater’ – a Scottish term named after an event, person or object that brings great joy, especially unplanned euphoria. As an investor, he went around the ship taking pictures of the bag in various places, and hash tagging this on instagram. It all went a bit sour when we actually tasted the coffee – it was crap. No palate and a bitter aftertaste. I had to stop taking milk in my coffee to taste anything. Now I’ve discovered all ground coffee tastes great without milk. But not Wee Stoater. It’s the coffee equivalent of Bells. Or Jura Journey. Needless to say, the hash tags used by my other colleagues probably were responsible for the ending of that particular business relationship. Wee Stoater turned out to be more like stoats wee wee.

However, the Ovenbird Roasters coffee was a completely different kettle of fish. And I’m full of beans ( hahahah – get it?) to share the experience with you. Let’s get going!


The distilled, oops! I meant brewed coffee!

Region

Ibrox, Glasgow

Age

10 weeks

Strength

0% a.b.v

Colour

Forest Whitaker

Nose

Liquorice, coffee, molasses, wee bit of peat smoke.

Palate

Dark chocolate, Liquorice, Demerara sugar, treacle tart. Caramelised sugar.

Finish

Long and luxurious. Smooth and dark. Dark chocolate and more treacle.

Conclusion

This coffee is delicious. In fact it may be that has been one of the coffees of my life. And God knows, I drink a lot of coffee. I didn’t mean to be offensive by mentioning the colour was like Forest Whitaker, but the coffee made me want to grin like he does in many of his films, especially as Ed Garlick in Good Morning Vietnam. It really is good. I didn’t taste the whisky in it, but without a doubt whatever influence the whisky has had has left us with a mighty fine coffee.


Scotty’s Drams Mugs. Great for Coffee, crap for photos

However, it left me with two problems. Firstly, it has shown up the Mk.1 Scotty’s Drams Coffee mugs are crap for photographing liquid. Secondly, since I’ve ordered, Ovenbird have sold out of all their whisky coffee. You can see this at Ovenbird.co.uk. Get in contact to see if they will make more, I know I will be when this lot runs out. (Update. It’s back in stock!)

By the way, the local cheese shop now stocks cheese smoked by the shavings from whisky casks, and I’ve since found out the same company makes a cheese one 1/3rd of a bottle of Ardmore in the recipe per 15kg. Whatever next? This blog may have to have subsections on food influenced by whisky!

Slainte Mhath!

Scotty

Update: 17/12/2019.

Ovenbird have more whisky coffee in stock. They’ve also moved to Castlemilk, which is a bit further from the centre, but I popped into their facility to pick up my new beans and it smelt A-M-A-Z-I-N- G ! I met Davide Angeletti and Nicole his assistant. Both really nice people. Can’t wait to try more of their coffees, but going to take it easy and keep these as a treat. Sorry – still prefer Douwe Egberts instant as a day to day coffee, but that’s down to ease of making a quick cuppa!)

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.

Gently Does It…..

Taste Review #36 – Tomintoul 10

The Tomintoul Distillery sits about 4 miles outside the village of Tomintoul, which is the highest village in the Highlands. It is close to the River Avon (pronounced a’an), which flows from Loch Avon, nestled behind the Cairngorm mountain. One might think all that lovely, fresh mountain water is what goes into the whisky, but it isn’t; the water comes from springs on Cairn Ballantruan, just behind the distillery.


Tomintoul Distillery.

The distillery isn’t an old one and was founded in 1964. It was taken over by London based Angus Dundee in 2000 and this core range 10 year old was released in 2002. Other ages in the core range are 14, 16, 21 and 33 year old, and these are matured in ex Bourbon casks made with American White Oak. The 12 year old is limited and is finished in Oloroso casks or Port casks . There are releases that are a mixture of peated and unpeated malts, known as ‘Peated Tang’ available in 15 year old or NAS. The distillery also releases Old Ballantruan, which is a peated malt at 50% abv.


The ‘Gentle Dram’ so the label says.

Angus Dundee also own the Glencadam distillery in Brechin, which is another miniature that I have to taste.

Tomintoul sits in close proximity to Glenlivet, so while currently it isn’t possible to visit the Tomintoul Distillery, there are other nearby options.

The A939 road goes through Tomintoul, and it links Speyside to Royal Deeside. It is usually the first road in Scotland closed by snow, normally on the Cockbridge – Tomintoul section. The same road takes you over the Lecht, which has a ski centre at the road’s summit of 2090 ft above sea level, which is one of the highest roads in the UK. If you want to achieve the highest, take the A93 route to Perthshire from Royal Deeside through Glenshee. This is 2199 ft above sea level at the Cairnwell Pass and also has a ski centre. It is also a quick way to last weeks review of the Ballechin malt made by Edradour distillery in Pitlochry.

Enough of the tourist advice and onto the whisky! Let’s see what the dram with the logo strap line of “the gentle dram” does for us.


Dram and Bottle

Region

Speyside

Age

10 years Old

Strength

40% a.b.v

Colour

Gold

Nose

Initial sour smell off the bottle. Quickly dispersed to one of barley, butterscotch and coffee beans

Palate

Smooth mouthfeel, very light. Sweet, creamy, toffee notes. Honeycomb, toasted barley.

Finish

Short. Too short. Honey and malted cereal, chocolate at the extreme end.


Close up after more whisky added and a bit of cold water. Clear, so clearly chill filtered.

Conclusion

For me this was a completely flat dram. No excitement at all to start with. Perhaps I was expecting too much, because all said and done this was a pretty uncomplicated malt. And while I am writing this, perhaps that this should be celebrated.

While this might not set the world on fire for me, it is actually a very accessible malt for those starting out in a whisky journey. It certainly would be great at the start of a whisky flight.

It’s age or abv might be the issue. I got the flavours, but just not enough. I craved more. Even upping it to 43% might be better, and a couple of years more in the cask. While this malt isn’t for me, based on the uncomplicated flavours got, I would definitely be interested in trying the older malts from this distillery.

Would I give this a thumbs up? For the price point, it has probably been diluted to 40%. It has been chill filtered and there is colour added. But for a dram that costs about £30 for a 70cl bottle, that’s not bad value.

My miniature cost me about £6.50 from The Whisky Cellar at Inverness Airport.

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 – Ann Harrison (Under Creative Commons license CC BY-SA 2.0

Other photos – authors own.

Moving Forward By Looking Back

Why it’s good to revisit the past

I saw a good Facebook meme this week which was one of those encouraging slogans that said “Don’t look behind as you aren’t going that way” or something similar. Appropriate for those who struggle with something in life, but not so appropriate for us on a whisky journey.


Best look back. A truck might be coming. And you’re in the middle of the road

Recently I was asked to do a whisky tasting in a local hotel at short notice. Unfortunately this didn’t give me a lot of time to prepare and as I wasn’t supplying the whisky, I was limited to what I could serve. As the tasting was for guests who potentially had limited experience of whisky, I wanted to cram in as much knowledge without being a boring geek. I do enough of that at my day job. 😉

I was wanting to serve from at least four of the five whisky regions in Scotland, but Islay was causing me a problem. I wanted to push a peaty malt, but didn’t want to try to force a peat monster like Laphroig, Ardbeg or Caol Ila down the throats of a non-whisky drinker. That’s the equivalent of getting an engineer fresh out of his training to build the Forth Rail Bridge. In the end, I decided to keep it Speyside with an exception of Old Pulteney, as that is the one I know that has a strong brine note in order to show how the location of maturation can affect the whisky.


Best know your limits

I ended up using two BenRiach 10’s (one was the Curiositas) to show the difference of peat on a spirit, Old Pulteney 12, and Monkey Shoulder. As it was part of a groom’s stag night, I naughtily took along two of my own bottles to ensure that I could complete my taste demonstration with the effect of Sherry Cask and Port Cask. These were the Benrinnes 15 y.o Flora And Fauna and the Speyside Beinn Dubh NAS whisky.


BenRiach 10

I picked Monkey Shoulder due to it containing three famous malts, and being Speyside. It would also be one I thought would be good for non-whisky drinkers. Having never had a problem in the past, this was my mistake on this occasion.

And it’s to the past we turn to in this article. Of what was consumed that night, I had reviewed on Scotty’s Drams a total of four whiskies out of the six. The BenRiach 10 was a thumbs up on my review, Benrinnes is one of my preferred malts, yet I didn’t really get much out of the Old Pulteney and Beinn Dubh. In fact in both reviews, I effectively said “pleasant enough but I personally wouldn’t buy another”. But yet, here I am using them for a tasting and them both being appreciated by those who tasted them and myself!

What gives??

We need to realise that our sense of smell and taste are built up of memories; if you haven’t smelt an aroma before, you won’t know what it is. Quite often you will have smelt an aroma it before, but maybe not on its own, therefore making it harder to recognise. My game with the lads using my whisky aroma kit at the start of the night proved these points to a degree.

My two over riding memories of the two drams that I didn’t rate would be salty caramel for the OP and Christmas cake and chocolate for the Beinn Dubh. It was these memories that made me pick them for the tasting to illustrate the effects of the place the cask was stored (OP-by-the-sea!) and cask type (Beinn Dubh – Port)


Beinn Dubh. Just Whisky in the jar. No coke.

It was a success. From what I gather, these two I initially almost dismissed were very well received by the guests. Even I had to admit I enjoyed the OP and BD this time. And here lies in the point of this article……

Always go back to a dram more than once or twice before fully making up your mind.

Why? Our senses can be affected by the air we breathe, the food and drink we have had that day, the state of our health and our physical make up. We can also be affected by reading what other people have said about a whisky. It is always better to taste a whisky a few times before making up your mind.

I was surprised the Beinn Dubh got such a good reception, as I am sure that there is a fair bit of caramel colouring in it, but nearly everybody said they liked it. Well, at least those who didn’t say they liked it said nothing about not liking it. It does get written off as a gimmick whisky, but I am not so sure now. Indeed, a quick trawl through reviews on the whisky retail sites say quite a few like it. Those who don’t and are vocal about it appear to be whisky snobs. But it is worth remembering that we all have different senses and opinions. Not everybody can like everything in the same way.

So, as we move forward in our journey, it is always worth looking back. Our tastes may have changed as we grow older and more experienced. Perhaps we can now pick out aromas and tastes we couldn’t in the past. As we build our mental database of whisky sensations (or write them down!) we start elevating ourselves to be more discerning and pick out the gold in the trash pile.

Jura Journey is still rubbish though.

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

Benriach 10 – thewhiskyexchange.com

Forth Rail Bridge Andrew Bell via Wiki Creative Commons under CC BY-SA 3.0 (image cropped)

Beinn Dubh Nip – authors own.

.

The Belly Button Superstore

Opinions are like belly buttons; we all have them.

This article is brought to you whilst I am currently in Inverness. The missus is out shopping for a party frock for her Christmas staff night out, and I’ve been told to go and amuse myself. While we were walking down the High Street, my better half indicated it would be better for me to do my own thing, sort of indicating in the direction of the Whisky Shop. Big mistake on a few counts.

Why? Sending me to a whisky shop means I am probably buy more bottles and also the Whisky Shop in Inverness is horrifically over priced. I remember the day I was looking for a 20CL Clynelish 14 and they were charging £29. This was available anywhere else at the time for £16. One of the hazards of shopping in a tourist town. Even now, the WS online price is £22 and a quick online search shows The Whisky Exchange selling the same item for £12.95.

Don’t get me wrong, customer service at the Whisky Shop is excellent, and they have passionate and knowledgeable staff. But I shop on price, and it seems that in Inverness prices aren’t set locally.

The other reason it was a mistake is that I am going to wonder into a whisky shop and bore some poor sales assistant with my whisky waffle, and today it was the turn of Jack at Wood Winters whisky and wine shop in Church Street to be the ‘victim’. This is my favourite local whisky shop (they are a wee bit closer than the Speyside ones!) and although it has a smaller selection than my other favourite shops, it still has a good selection of high quality wines & spirits. I know hee-haw about wine because I think there should be only four types – white, red, pink and distilled (😉).

To be honest, I was just in for a peruse, but once into full whisky waffle mode, we ( or should that be more ‘I’) ended up speaking about the Allt’a Bhainne distillery, and how I’d bought a single cask bottle from Strathisla the previous day, but was saddened to see a decent review site totally slate their recent single malt release with a 2/10 score. Although it wasn’t a whisky to set the world on fire, it was a decent pour, and at least one of the people who read my review (see here) bought it and enjoyed it.


Allt’a Bhainne distillery. Brutal architecture gives rise to brutal opinions

Yes, it was a bargain whisky, not too expensive, plus a whisky that is rarely, if ever, gets seen as an official bottle, rather it is normally released as an independent bottling. Unfortunately, because the reviewer had plenty of experience of these releases, he concentrated on the negative issues about the whisky. Of course there was plenty of marketing about it, and yes, it wasn’t a spectacular whisky, but it wasn’t unpleasant, and indeed I got a nice surprise. It was good to see the review has comments that picked up on the fact that 2/10 wasn’t fair. I bought mine at £22, and to be honest I’ve had bottles double that price be doubly disappointing. A quick look at other retail websites seem to suggest the vast majority of people who are reviewing their purchase seem to favour this dram.

Indeed, peated Speyside isn’t that unusual. Benriach does a decent one with the 10 year old Curiositas, which does have a natural presentation, whereas the 40% AAB doesn’t.


Allt’a Bhainne. One £22, the other considerably more.

It now comes to the obvious point that taste is a very subjective matter. Yes, the more refined palate may pick up more nuances that others might not, especially if you are lucky enough to be able to sample a large range of quality spirits, though it’s worth bearing in mind that not everybody has the same experience.

I did want to title this article as Opinions are like bum holes, but that’s even a bit too crass for me, as the blog is slowly picking up more views (keep sharing folks!) but it is true; we all have our opinions. Not all of these opinions are universal to everybody else. As much as I dig at Famous Grouse, it isn’t a bad blend. It may not be a quality one, but we don’t always need to be drinking premium spirits, especially if our wallets don’t allow it. My criticism of Jura Journey comes from a standpoint that it is not a young distillery, has some very very experienced people behind it, and has produced some lovely produce – Journey is just such a massive disappointment and obviously young whisky and marketing. They should have known better. But, if you like it, kudos to you, and I hope you will challenge me on it.

I will not name the reviewer or site I saw the poor Allt’a Bhainne review on, but one has to ask is their opinion valid, and should it influence us? All opinions are valid, as one man’s meat is is another man’s murder, but we should take one opinion on its own with a pinch of salt. The truth is you have to try for yourself. If you are looking to elevate yourself to find quality spirits, I would suggest that you won’t find them in a bottle of whisky costing £22, but what you may find is good value, which the reviewer seemed to miss.

Should another opinion influence you? No. As a person who is writing about the whiskies he tries, I am not really trying to totally influence you, but rather guide you and hopefully give you a bit of an amusing spiel at the same time. But to listen to one opinion in isolation does not tell the whole story.

What is partially annoys me is the Allt’a Bhainne seems to have a bit of a bad rap, but I think it is slightly unfair. It’s as though the brutal 1975 architecture of a distillery designed to be operated by one man inspires brutal comments. Some of these experts I think have their heads in a place that is pretty physically impossible to achieve, as they have been focused on different level of whisky. They can have their opinion, but sometimes they are written in a way that would be looking down on anybody that disagrees. While I will probably be wrong, it certainly doesn’t feel like that.

Similarly, I feel tasting notes are also only an opinion. Not everybody has olfactory nerves that detect aromas in the same way which can influence the flavours you also experience. Distillery tasting notes will always be guided by the type of cask used for maturation and what the master distiller can detect and was aiming for. Add in marketing spin and voila! For anybody else it is open season. Let your nose and palate guide you. And your wallet. Use tasting notes as a guide only, for the world is your oyster and don’t let anybody rain on your whisky parade.

In conclusion, look at reviews and tasting notes, but make sure at some point you get into the action and try for yourself as you may get a surprise. Just remember, the right dram is the one you are enjoying.

Do you agree or disagree? I’d be interested in your thoughts.

Slainte!

Scotty

– thanks to Jack for his great service and for selling me a Kilkerran 12 and GlenAllachie 12. And I hope I didn’t bore you.

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 – Ingo Wölbern (Wikipedia / public domain)

Other photos – authors own.

A vision of a distillery lost

Taste Review #35 – Ballechin 10 y.o

It has been a near miss for this review. I nearly didn’t get it ready on time. As regular readers will realise, due to my job, I’ve usually got a few reviews in hand so I can still post weekly content. Well, with the excitement of a recent whisky tasting, the collection of some barrel lids for my wife’s hotel plus the high drama of the latest Bruichladdich Octomore release a couple of days ago, I’ve not managed to drink any whisky to review. These are hard times indeed my friends.

I’ve delved into the box of miniatures at random to see what will come up first, and it’s this cheeky little Ballechin. Ever heard of it? No, I hadn’t heard of it either until I became aware of it sitting on the shelves in my usual specialist whisky shops.


The bottle and tube

A quick bit of investigative work reveals that this is actually a product of the Edradour Distillery, one of Scotland’s smallest distilleries which sits just outside the Perthshire village of Pitlochry. The Ballechin brand represents their peated whiskies, and is named after the former Ballechin distillery, which was located just south of Pitlochry on the A827 road between Ballinluig and Aberfeldy. This was a farm distillery and was founded by a group of farmers in 1810, but closed by 1927. It had at one point been recognised as having a peaty style of whisky, but as no stocks remain, we will never know. There are a few small buildings left, but this was a small distillery and what is left is little more than a few derelict farm buildings.

Pitlochry is a small bustling town, with a second distillery present (Blair Athol). There are plenty of things to do in the area from outdoor pursuits such as walking, visit the Hydro Electric Dam and fish ladder to allow salmon to migrate along the River Tummel, bypassing the dam. Local scenery is fantastic, and you aren’t that far away for a trip up into the lower reaches of Speyside.

Right, since I’ve been writing this, my dram has been breathing in the glass, so let’s get cracking with the tasting.

Region

Highland

Age

10 years old

Strength

46% a.b.v

Colour

Light honey

Nose

Sweet smoke, slightly medicinal, apples, cut grass.

Palate

Smooth, light dram. Light peat, slightly tannic oak notes. A bit spicier with the addition of some water.

Finish

Surprisingly short considering it’s a peated whisky. Ash, peat, slightly fruity. With water I noticed more spice and heat.


The Dram


Conclusion

Aye, well not bad! Quite a smooth mouthfeel, the peat wasn’t over powering at all. It was an enjoyable dram without the addition of anything extra, although things livened up with a bit of water.

Let’s look at what this whisky gets right and wrong by taking a close look at the label.


Spot the error

First let’s start with the good things. This is a dram at 46%, natural colour and non-chill filtered. Top marks there. So what was incorrect? Well, this is just a matter of opinion as it states the whisky was heavily peated; I’d disagree. Apparently the malt was peated to 50ppm, which is an approximate Ardbeg levels. I’m a fan of peatier, smokier whisky, but this is just my palate. If you want a starter peaty whisky, this would maybe not what I’d start with, but would suggest the BenRiach Curiositas 10 instead. Don’t let my opinion stop you trying this, it is a worthwhile buy.

My miniature cost £7.80 from the Whisky Shop Dufftown. Click on the link to see all their bargains. Shopping around can see this bottle sell for between £45 and £52.

Until next time…

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.

A Drink Of Kings

Taste Review #34 – Dalmore King Alexander III

I had a return visit to the Bon Accord Bar in Glasgow in early October, but this time with the wife in tow. We had been to see the last performance of Still Game, a popular Scottish situation comedy, which had finally come to the end of its life. It was a bit of a long walk back to our hotel, and the bar came to our rescue for some mid journey refreshments.

My wife picked something from Macallan, but having only just visited the distillery the day before, I was wanting something a bit more exciting and in my collection without breaking the bank. And so it comes to the Dalmore King Alexander III.

The Dalmore Distillery sits on the banks of the Cromarty Firth, beside the town of Alness. It’s a pretty distillery with a fantastic view, apart from the hulks of drilling rigs awaiting repair, contracts or scrapping. Owned by Whyte and Mackay, they have the charismatic Richard Patterson as their Master Blender. You really should look at some of the videos he is included in on YouTube. Definitely one of a kind.

The Dalmore distillery is unique in the fact that it was heavily damaged in 1920. Not through the usual distillery fires, but an explosion when the distillery was being used by the Royal Navy to manufacture and store mines.

The Dalmore distillery was founded in 1839, and eventually passed into the hands of the MacKenzie family. In 1263, legend has it that the first chief of the MacKenzie clan had saved Alexander the 3rd, King of Scotland from a charging stag. As a reward, the King granted the MacKenzie’s to use the 12 pointed Royal Stag as its clan crest. The stag is the emblem of the Dalmore brand, and there is a metallic looking stags head stuck on each bottle.

This particular Dalmore whisky, the King Alexander III, has been matured in no less than 6 types of cask that have previously contained Madeira and Marsala wines, Port, Bourbon, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Matusalem Oloroso sherry. A whisky born in a legend with a phenomenal amount of finishing – will it match expectations? Let’s find out.


Bottle and dram

Region

Highland

Age

No Age Statement

Strength

40% a.b.v

Colour

Auburn

Nose

Summer fruits. Blackberries, Raspberries, Vanilla, Toffee, perhaps a hint of marzipan.

Palate

Dried fruits, prunes, vanilla, mulled wine spices, almonds.

Finish

Long finish, chocolate notes, cloves, cinnamon, slightly drying.

Conclusion

Some of you might have twigged that I have mentioned both Whyte & Mackay and Richard Patterson before. Dalmore is owned by the same people that make Jura Journey. But don’t worry, the alarm bells are definitely not ringing. Dalmore is known for some very fine whisky that can reach premium prices – hundreds of thousands of pounds. There is nothing to fear here at all.

I was apprehensive about the alcohol strength being 40% as that can mean a boring whisky. But not this time. Not even the lack of an age statement should put you off. This is a whisky very worthy of its place on the shelves of any whisky enthusiast. Yes, it may be more exciting with a higher abv, but it doesn’t need it. The trick here is to savour. Don’t drink quickly. Don’t even swill it in your mouth. Just keep it there for a minute. This is a dram that rewards you with patience. As I was in a bar towards closing time, I didn’t get a chance to savour as long as I should have done. Perhaps a revisit will be called for.

I paid £14.90 for this, and I managed to get a bottle at auction for £140 including all fees. They retail between £160 and £200. A bit expensive for some, but by no means a rare whisky. Definitely one worth trying.

Dalmore has a decent visitor centre too. Why not pay a visit if you are ever in the Inverness area? Glen Ord, Glenmorangie, and Balblair distilleries aren’t a million miles away either!

Slainte Mhath!


This blog is written as a hobby. If you liked this article, consider clicking here to visit my Facebook page or by liking or sharing this article by clicking on icons below. If you prefer not to use Facebook, follow the blog by clicking on the follow icon at the bottom of the browser page somewhere to get tastings, visits and articles to your email inbox.


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

photo – authors own

Time To Get Naked!

Taste Review #33 – Naked Grouse

The review that I said I’d never do. I never thought I’d review Famous Grouse. And technically I’m not – this is Naked Grouse, a blended whisky with no age statement. While I always try to bring you information about quality, I’ve never associated Famous Grouse with quality. That’s not to say I feel that it’s a bad dram although I mostly use it for hot toddies. Plus, it beats Bells hands down and it remains a very popular drink.

However, a discussion on what whiskies I liked whilst at the Ballindalloch Distillery with Davie, one of the operators with a long history at Macallan, resulted in him telling me that given the whiskies I liked, if I didn’t like Naked Grouse, he’d give me cost of my bottle back.

Challenge accepted!

The main difference between Famous Grouse and Naked Grouse is that this spirit has been finished in first fill sherry casks, to impart that wee bit of sweet influence. And of course it adds to the colour, which is the reason there is not a label on the front of the bottle, but an embossed Grouse.

My bottle

The Naked Grouse I am sampling today is an older version of the blend, which contains grain spirit, but in 2017 it was re-branded by owners Edrington to be a blended malt whisky, mostly centred around the Glenturret, Macallan and Highland Park malts.

The Dram


Region

Blend

Age

No Age Stated

Strength

40% a.b.v

Colour

Deep Amber

Nose

Smooth, a wee bit oily, cherry, creme brûlée, toasted multigrain bread.

Palate

Like the nose, this was quite smooth, sherry notes, vanilla, toffee, dried fruit – sultanas or raisins.

Finish

I got a medium drying finish, with a light burst of smoke at the end. Light oak and spice too.

Conclusion

Not really what I expected. Yes, there is a faint recall back to the original Famous Grouse; for me, it was a recognisable taste, and had this been a blind taste test, I would have picked Famous Grouse, but wondered why it was different.

This is a lot sweeter than the original Famous Grouse blend to my palate, and I would say this Is more tasty than the original. While maybe not a premium whisky, this is definitely a step up and certainly a blend for the malt drinkers. Since my bottle is pre 2017, I have the older recipe which included a bit of grain spirit, but since 2017, this has changed to be a blended malt. If it is anything like my bottle, then it will be great.

I’ve included a picture of the modern bottle, so you can get a proper idea of the colour. I do suspect that there has been colouring added, but perhaps not. The whole reason of why the bottle has no label at the front is so you can see the colour. I don’t know if I could be so proud of a whisky with E150a in it.

Modern Bottle (thebottleclub.com)

Question is, would I recommend? Whilst I likely won’t buy another bottle, I’m not going to avoid it should I see it in a bar with poor malt selection. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this dram and I have to say I liked my pour. For the price of a retail bottle (£27 in Asda) it’s good value, but I am simply not interested to drink blend on a regular basis.

I paid £21.28 for my bottle at auction, including all the fees. Don’t worry Davie, your wallet is safe!

Slainte Mhath!


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photo credits

– authors own unless otherwise credited