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.

It’s Not Always Grim Up North

Taste Review #43 – Wolfburn Morven

This bottle was one of a selection of miniatures that I bought at Inverness Airport, and the Wolfburn miniature bottles were really eye-catching. The dark olive green bottle of the Morven and the similarly opaque black bottle of Northland were just begging me to buy them – honest! It was the first time that I’d actually noticed any produce from the Wolfburn distillery, so I seized the chance to buy them. I’ve been staring at the bottles in my box of samples and I’ve finally given in to try one of them.

The Wolfburn distillery is the most northerly distillery on the UK mainland, based in Thurso, up on the northern Caithness coast. According to the distillery website, the original distillery was started in 1821, but according to some records it ceased regular production in the 1850’s, but some records indicate sporadic production in the 1860’s. The 1872 map of the area shows the distillery marked as a ruin, and gone by 1877.

The new distillery was founded in 2012 and started production in early 2013. It is about 350m away from the old distillery and shares the same water source, the Wolf burn. The new distillery sits within a modern industrial estate just to the west of Thurso.


Morven (see credits)


This expression is named after a prominent hill in Caithness called Morven. At 706m, it is one of the hills that is instantly recognisable from a distance. It isn’t that easy getting that far north – the A9 trunk road is not the easiest journey to undertake, and it is probably better to take a train on the far north line. This line shows some of the most amazing scenery in North Scotland, travelling north from Inverness. The train travels through what is known as ‘Flow Country’ which is the largest blanket bog moor in Europe, and has many sites of scientific interest. By taking the train you would also visit Wick, which has the Pulteney distillery, but if you take the car, north of Inverness, you’d be able to visit Glen Ord, Dalmore, Glenmorangie, Dornoch, Balblair, Clynelish, Pulteney and Wolfburn. That would be some tour.

Thurso is also close to John O Groats, which is worth a quick visit when the weather is nice, and hadn’t been so commercialised as Lands End.

My last bit of trivia on the area is that Prince George, Duke of Kent, the brother of King George VI, died when the Sunderland flying boat he was a passenger in crashed on a hill close to Morven in August 1942.

Onto the whisky….


Wolfburn Morven


Region

Highland

Age

Wolfburn Morven has no age statement

Strength

46% abv

Nose

Smokey, but not heavily so. Slight aroma of iodine, but nowhere near Ardbeg levels. Fruit – green apples, grapes

Palate

Quite smooth. Smoke, medium peat, nutty malt, slightly tannic, peppery oak, slight fruity notes.

Finish

Sweet smoke and spice. Oaky with a bit of gingerbread.


The Dram


Conclusion

The whisky was quite pleasant, but quite obviously a young spirit. This expression has been matured in ex-bourbon casks and quarter casks. The smaller quarter casks give more wood contact, and this was evident in the tannic notes. There was in my opinion an obvious wood note where the spirit just has had too long in a quarter cask. The quarter cask is a way of maturing whisky that little bit faster with no artificial trickery, but it seems slightly overdone to me, but by no means overly so and it is still a very good dram.

It is in my opinion quite endemic in the industry where a new distillery is rushing spirit out just to start making a return on the investment. But, also in my opinion, Wolfburn Morven gets away with it. And the 2018 FiftyBest Double Gold award highlights that.

The peat isn’t heavy. It’s probably quite low, about 10-20ppm, so nowhere near as peaty as the peat monsters of the west coast islands, but enough of a bite to tell you it has seen a sod or two of the dark stuff during malting.

Like my last review of Glencadam 10, this is also at 46%, natural colour and unchillfiltered. I’d say the age of the spirit is about 4-5 years old, but this has a pleasant smoothness, is not complex but is well balanced.

I personally hope this distillery does move towards age statements, as this has the potential to be an epic whisky.

Do I recommend? Yes, you should try this if you want to dip your toe into peaty whisky. Will I buy another? Not immediately, but will probably buy a full size bottle.You should definitely keeping an eye on this distillery, as with their first releases, it seems everything is in place to make an epic dram.

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

Morven – The track to Corrichoich and Morven Andrew Tryon under Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0

Other Photos – Authors own