Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Review of my whisky year - 2019

First of all thank you to all the people who have read my blog (c48,000 up from 29,000 last year) and followed me on Twitter (c2,600 up from 1,700 last year).

My highlights of 2019 were:


Another year draws to a close and in this case it's the end of a decade, it's also a decade I've been on Twitter, not always talking about whisky though! As usual at the end of the year you get to thinking about the highs and lows of the year, what you did well and what you could have done better and to start to make plans for the following year.

The rest of this blog post is about all the great things which happened this year, and to be honest I can't really think of that many things which weren't good. I lost a little more hair, probably due to my eldest leaving school and starting in college; I completed by 30th year at work for the same company - not many more until I can think about retiring! I managed to completely fail to make it to Spirit Of Speyside again, if fact I didn't make any festival this year.

One interesting thing that has happened over the last twelve months is the change to my palate, to be honest it probably started a couple of years ago. I started to notice sweet peanut notes in peated Islay whisky, it started with Kilchoman then over the last twelve months I've started to notice it in Laphroaig and Ardbeg drams. I've been drinking Islay peated drams for a good 10 or 12 years now and always loved them - the thing is I just don't like the sweet peanut note. It seems to be something in Islay peat, other peated drams which use Highland peat are fine. Very strange, very interesting - answers on a postcard (or DM) please!


This year the #BlindTasting gang went on tour again! Specifically to Campbeltown to visit Glengyle, Springbank and Glen Scotia distilleries as well as Cadenhead's shop and Warehouse Tasting!
In and around Campbeltown!

Glengyle Distillery

Cadenhead's Shop & Warehouse tasting

Springbank Distillery

Glen Scotia Distillery

For 2020 we have a visit to Islay planned - just as I'm starting to go off peated drams.....


This year we've continued with a few more  #BlindTasting sessions! Many thanks to @JWBassman_, @Spirit&Wood, @GentlemanGrimm and @WhiskyWings for joining in and taking in part in some fantastic evenings of whisky tasting! Between us we suggested organising one of our own, where we supplied the drams from our own collections but with the twist of not labelling them!


A small group of us get together regularly on Twitter for some #MiniTastings, so far we've done 16 sessions with more to come in 2020. many thanks to @JWBassman_@WhiskynStuff and @ScotchB78 for joining in and sharing their drams! Find out more here!

#Trip to Glasgow

Thanks to work I had a wee trip to Glasgow in November and visited some of the great and up-and-coming whisky bars in the city as well as managing a night out with @Ibon_Mendiguren!

#Trip to Berlin

Just before Christmas we went for a long weekend in Berlin, eating lots of Currywurst and drinking lots of Gluhwein! I also managed to fit in a trip to a little out of the way Whisky Shop!

Pinkernells Whisky Shop is a about 20 mins train then 20 mins walk east of the city centre, well worth finding! I was after a bottle of German single malt, in particular St. Kilian's first peated one their Signature Three. Andi also introduced me to another German distillery, The Nine Springs, and a bottle of theirs came home too!

#Drample Swaps

2019 continued as 2018 had left off with a large number of sample swaps with friends both on and off Twitter. Some new friends were made and old ones made more special!

It's a great way to try drams you either haven't come across before, can't get anymore or aren't sure about and don't want to risk paying for a full bottle - more info here!


I've been lucky enough to be selected to take part in a few @TweetTastings organised by the brilliant Steve Rush.

These have been a brilliant way to try new drams and more importantly share your thoughts about them in real time with others - it's like sitting in a room of 20 people enjoying a dram or two and talking about them - but you can hear what everyone else is saying and join in every conversation!


I was also very lucky to be sent some samples to try from different distillers / bottlers!


Whether you call it bottle killing or heel-slaying, these are the bottles which won't be continuing into 2020 as part of my collection....unless I buy another one that is! The one I'd miss most is probably the Chicken Bottle.....

#Other highlights

@WessexWhisky invited a few of us to 'design' and blend our own whiskies! We then all swapped samples and got to try them in a #BlendOff  - read all about it here!

Stu and Andy kindly invited John Bassman and myself to look at Glen Scotia Victoriana in S8E2 of their @ThisIsMyDram Podcast - find out more here! More some unknown reason they keep letting @ocdwhisky take part and he's now been on more times than me - hopefully we'll remedy this in 2020?

@Coldorak inviting a group of us to share his Yoichi single malts in a Semi-BlindTasting! - find out more here!

@DramLamps turned my empty bottle of Loch Lomond Single Cask #40 into a beautiful lamp!

@LakesDistillery my local distillery finally coming out with a reasonably priced single malt and very nice it was too! I was equally impressed with the first release from @BimberLondon - read more here!

I was sent a @DrinksByTheDram Dramvent Calendar to review on the run up to Christmas - read my thoughts here!

#My Top Ten Whiskies of the Year

My Whiskybase shelves!

How do you pick your top ten whiskies? It's really difficult! But as I've said before I use a scoring method from @TomsWhisky But #EveryPalateIsDeifferent and whisky is very subjective so my scoring is private - I don't publish any scores. For my top ten list I've picked those which I rated 5 and some of the 4s. These are the top ten drams I tried for the first time in 2019:
  1. Loch Lomond The Open Royal Portrush
  2. Glen Scotia 2005 Tawny Port Peated Cask #413
  3. Bains 15yo Single Grain
  4. Lakes Distillery Whiskymakers Reserve No. 2
  5. Springbank 2001 17yo (from The Cage)
  6. Port Dundas Glaswegian 29yo [W&M WhiskyWorks]
  7. Glen Scotia 2005 [SMWS] 93.106
  8. Glendronach 1995 (19yo)
  9. Whyte & Mackay 50yo Blend
  10. Three Ships 8yo (Peated)

A lot of Campbeltown drams in there but nothing from Islay, 2 from South Africa, 2 grains and a blend!

    • just over 300 new drams tried this year, total now of 800
    • now tried whiskies from 21 different counties and 232 different distilleries
    • circa 5,300 tweets this year, total now of 24.9k
    • just over 900 new followers on twitter, total now of c2,600
    • 111 articles published on the blog this year, total now of 264
    • over 48,000 page reads of this blog
    Countries / Distilleries I've tried whiskies from.


      Well - goodbye to 2019 and hello to 2020 - I'm sure it will be even better - some plans:
      • Trip to Islay with the #BlindTastingOnTour gang
      • More #MiniTasting
      • More #BlindTasting
      • Get to a whisky festival
      • More discussions with you!


      Here are some of my GIFs from 2019.....

      No comments: