Sunday, 31 December 2017

Review of my whisky year - 2017

First of all thank you to all the people who have read my blog (c16,500) and followed me on Twitter (c900) since I started back in January with my first whisky post.

There were a couple in December '16 but they were mainly re-tweets - my start was the @WhiskyPilgrims end, but thanks for the inspiration!

#Drample Swaps

One of the first things I discovered whilst surfing the whisky wave on Twitter were the number of people doing #drample swaps - I wanted in on this and after a few polite enquiries I managed to set one up, I bought my first sample bottles, filled them and posted them off - at the same time someone I knew only as a handle on Twitter did the same. Within a few days I had my hands on some new whiskies! I've now made more than 30 drample swaps, averaging about one a week and the sample box is now overflowing!

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.


I've read a few whisky book this year, old ones and new ones - some that stand out are :
  • 101 Whiskies To Try Before You Die by Ian Buxton : reviewed here.
  • Shackleton's Whisky by Neville Peat : The extraordinary story of an heroic explorer and twenty-five cases of unique MacKinlay's Old Scotch.
  • Malt Whisky Companion by Michael Jackson (and Dominic Roskrow and Gavin D. Smith) : a great read for distillery information and tasting notes.
  • MacLean's Miscellany of Whisky by Charles Maclean
  • Malt Whisky Yearbook by Ingvar Ronde : the best reference book for distillery information.
  • Whiskies Galore by Ian Buxton : reviewed here.
  • World Whiskey by Charles Maclean : an encyclopedia of whisky.


I've been lucky enough to be selected to take part in many @TweetTastings organised by 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 and dram or two and talking about it - but you can hear what everyone else is saying and join in every conversation!

I've also taken part in some non @TweetTasting Twitter Tastings

It's very difficult to pick favourites from these, but here's 3!

Best Presentation : #TamdhuWhisky - lovely box, lots of distillery information with a branded nosing glass and 4 samples including a bottle of their New make Spirit and the fantastic Batch Strength.

Least Number of Samples : #GlenfiddichIPA - now you might think that was a bad thing, but in terms of liquid quantity Glenfiddich won by a mile as they included a bottle of IPA beer and a slice of orange peel!

Most fun : #TBWCTurns5 (That Boutique-y Whisky Company) - TBWC's fifth birthday celebrations complete with jelly on the walls and lots of screaming toddlers!

#Maltman_Mike & Friends

In case you've never some across him @Maltman_Mike is one of the nicest blokes you'll ever meet and his experience and knowledge of whisky is second to none. I first 'met' Mike online at the beginning of the year and as I live in his hometown we get to really meet up occasionally during the year.

I've taken part in, and filmed, a couple of his youtube shows alongside TimMr T. and The Whisky Viking - all were great fun! See his Christmas Special here and my unfortunate, not quite, 60 second review of Haig Club here....


Some of my best whisky experiences this year have been our Blind Tasting evenings - this came about then I was talking to a couple of people who hadn't been successful in being selected for a TweetTasting. 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!

Many thanks to @JWBassman_@Spirit&Wood@GentlemanGrimm and @WhiskyWings for joining in and taking in part in some fantastic evenings of whisky!

You can read all about our exploits in Series 1 here, Series 2 is in progress and Series 3 is coming in the New Year. If you want to set up your own - it's really simple - read here!

I also took part in a couple of blind tastings  organised by @WishkyCo sampling a single dram in an evening - that was great fun too - read about it here!


@Maltman_Mike organised his Great Big Malted Meetup in August when bloggers, vloggers and the general public were invited to a sample some lovely whiskies whilst listening to presentations from some distillery and bottling reps.

I even had a go at presenting myself - the wonderful Wolfburn No. 128

Read the whole blog here.


Thanks to all of the whisky people I have made friends with this year - on Twitter and in the flesh!


Whether you call it bottle killing or heel-slaying, these are the bottles which won't be continuing into 2018 as part of my collection....unless I buy another one that is!

#My Top Ten Whiskies of the Year

My Whiskybase shelves!

Well this was a little more difficult than I thought - the top five were fairly easy - I have tried four or five cracking drams this year which have stood head and shoulders above the rest but what about six to ten how do I pick them? Well I started using a new scoring method from @TomsWhisky a few months ago (privately - I'm not publishing any scores as they are all very subjective to each of our palates!) so I picked all those which I rated 5 and some of the 4's.

  1. Invergordon 43yo - That Boutique-y Whisky Company (Grain) Review
  2. Glengoyne Teapot Dram (Batch 3) Review
  3. Strathclyde 1990 25yo - Douglas Laing (Grain) Review
  4. Tamdhu Batch Strength (Batch 2) Review
  5. Port Charlotte Islay Barley Heavily Peated Review
  6. Octomore Masterclass 08.3 Review to come
  7. Glen Moray Peated Port 6yo Review
  8. Aberfeldy 2001 Cask #21444 Review
  9. Bain's Cape Mountain Whisky (Grain) Review
  10. The Lost Distilleries Blend Batch 10 - The Blended Whisky Company Review

Wow three grain whiskies in my top 10 - I would have never expected that at the beginning of the year!

  • 866 tweets in 7 years up until beginning of 2017, circa 8,000 by the end!
  • circa 900 followers on twitter
  • circa 16,500 page reads of this blog
  • circa 160 drams tried this year


Well - goodbye to 2017 and hello to 2018 - I'm sure it will be even better - some plans:
  • Trip to Campbeltown
  • Trip to Spirit of Speyside
  • Series 3 of #BlindTasting
  • More discussions with you!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

GlenDronach Trio

I'm ashamed to admit that I've never tried a GlenDronach whisky before.... I can't explain why, they just never came on my radar. So in an effort to clear some space in my sample box I've put together three of their whiskies that I've swapped over the last few months.

Thanks to @MaltMan_Mike for the 12yo & 18yo and @Whisk_Whisk for the 15yo - so a nice range of #dramples, what can I tell you about them?

@GlenDronach is a Highland distillery founded in 1826 and now owned by the BenRiach Distillery Company Ltd under Brown-Forman.

So on to the whiskies!

All of these are natural colour and non-chill filtered, matured in ex-sherry casks and you can immediately tell the age difference (left to right) as the colour becomes darker.

On pouring the drams my room immediately filled with the aroma of sherry!

Whisky : 12yo Original
Characteristics : 700ml 43% ABV Not coloured & Non-chill filtered
Price : £40 many outlets
Distillery info : "This superb richly sherried single malt is matured for at least 12 years in a combination of the finest Spanish Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry casks. A sweet, creamy dram."

Colour : Deep Copper
In the Glass : Fast thin legs when swirled
Nose : Sweet sherry with orchard fruits and a little toffee. A bit of a burnt sugar note after a while.
Palate: Very smooth creamy, tongue coating little number! Lots of honey along with the apples and pears from the nose. This is joined by dried fruit and a little drying icing sugar. There is a little sweetness but not as much as expected. There's lovely spice notes and a hint of dark nutty chocolate.
Finish : A spicy drying finish with sherry tickling all the way down!

Whisky : 15yo Revival
Characteristics : 700ml 46% ABV Not coloured & Non-chill filtered
Price : Discontinued whilst stock matures
Distillery info : "Renowned amongst many whisky enthusiasts around the world, this remarkable and full bodied malt is matured for a minimum of 15 years in the finest Oloroso sherry casks. A truly excellent single malt."

Colour : Tawny
In the Glass : Slow thin legs when swirled
Nose : Quite different from the 12yo - there is hardly any sweetness but there is a distinct note of balsamic vinegar and again a little toffee but no apples or pears.
Palate: A much thicker mouthfeel than the 12yo, again honey but no orchard fruit - more dried raisins and sultanas, there's that drying icing sugar note and a loads of nuttiness. Some biscuit, chocolate and red berry notes but not much spice.
Finish : Again quite drying, the spice hits you now - a peppery chilli hit. again a hint of nuts along with the sherry. This is a much longer lingering spicy finish than the 12yo.

Whisky : 18yo Allardice
Characteristics : 700ml 46% ABV Not coloured & Non-chill filtered
Price : £75 many outlets
Distillery info : "Named after the renowned founder of the distillery, James Allardice. This exceptional sherried single malt is matured in the finest Spanish Oloroso sherry casks and bottled at 46%, this sublime richly sherried malt is truly unforgettable."

Colour : Mahogany
In the Glass : Gravity defying very slow thin legs when swirled
Nose : Again a quite different nose - plums, rich dark chocolate and a lots of toffee. This develops with a fruit and nuttiness reminiscent of that well known chocolate bar! This one is very complex - there's also some plump juicy raisins bursting out of the glass.
Palate: Like the 15yo a thick mouthfeel, smooth and creamy and like the 12yo has a little spice. Not as much sherry as the 15yo, the oak has had a longer influence and is coming through a little more. There is a nutty note alongside the drying icing sugar. The spice, like the 12yo, is a little more immediate than the 15yo but is more intense - they obviously used hotter chillies in the recipe!
Finish : Very spicy, drying, oaky finish with fading sherry notes and a nuttiness.

Overall : After these three drams I needed to go and get a drink of water - my mouth was bone dry, all three had similar icing sugar notes which stole the moisture from my mouth.
They all shared an obvious sherry influence but I think that mellowed as the age increased and the wood had more of an influence. It's interesting that I didn't get the Christmas cake mix impression from any of them - they were sherried but not huge sherry bombs.
Personally I think they are all great whiskies, the 12yo has some lovely orchard fruit notes which alongside the sweet honey makes for a great east drinking dram. The 18yo was slightly better, it's older age giving a more spicy plate but I think the 15yo hits the sweetspot and the spice holding until the finish really impressed me. 

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Walsh Whiskey #TweetTastings

Another Wednesday - another @TweetTasting from @TheWhiskyWire, this time a set of Irish drams from @WalshWhiskey. This is the second Irish tasting Steve has organised in a few weeks, see Dublin Liberties here.

This one is from a long standing Irish bottler which has also recently opened it's own distillery, and started distilling in 2016 - we look forward to sampling their whiskey in the fullness of time. In the meantime they have a range which includes The Irishman and Writer's Tears which we sampled this evening.

As usual an unmarked package arrived in the post....

Opening it revealed four #dramples of Triple Distilled Irish Whiskey and a nice leaflet giving information about the distillery and tasting notes for the drams.

There was nearly a hiccup the night before the tasting when Rudolf nearly ran away with my drams....

On to the tasting:

First up was Writer's Tears Copper Pot

My thoughts:

Nose : Light gold in colour, initial nose : vanilla and tropical fruit. Woody influence, bags of vanilla, tropical fruit and some baked apples. Hint of a little cinnamon or ginger?
Palate : Smooth and slightly oily, quite sweet initially, then fruity and a lovely spice at he end. Quite a long spicy finish, seems to gets drier as your drink more - the fruitiness tails off a little and the spice kicks in - a very pleasant dram!

Other people's thoughts:

Next was The Irishman Cask Strength 2017

My thoughts:

Nose : Oak, Toffee, old leather. No indication of the 54% ABV, this one develops well have being left in the glass for a while - baked apples or apple crumbles but with a citrus note - oranges maybe? There's some toffee or fudge there too - like a apple toffee cobbler thing - what do you call them?
Palate : Apple crumble and orange,  a bit hit of spice, don't really get the strength very much. Smooth slightly oily, very drying  with hints of the apple from the nose. Some vanilla on the tongue with oak.

Other people's thoughts:


Third was Writer's Tears Red Head

My thoughts:

Nose : Lovely red tint to this one. Initial nose has hints of Christmas cake mix and spices. Dried fruit and sherry - some cinnamon, also a little oak and leather - beautiful!
Palate : Very smooth and buttery with a hint of honey, lots of spice with citrus fruit on the tongue. A little hint of nut chewing away in the background!

Other people's thoughts:

Final dram of the evening was The Irishman Founder's Reserve

My thoughts:

Nose : Beautiful golden colour, slow legs in the glass. Initial nose gives the red wine hints but also red fruit! Wine, plums dates and a hint of spice. Some vanilla maybe marzipan (Thanks @Whisky_And1) definitely almonds in there - yummy!
Palate : Unexpectedly chewy! Hints of the wine but hold it on the tongue and it's fruity and it's but as soon as you swallow the spice hits you!

Other people's thoughts:

For me the Irishman Cask Strength was the best of the evening, but not everyone agreed!

Many thanks to Steve for organising, Walsh for supplying the drams and my fellow tweeters for making a really enjoyable evening!

Other reviews: