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Morrison & Mackay Latest Carn Mor Bottlings

Last night Mike and I sat down with 4 of the latest bottlings in the Carn Mor Strictly Limited range and we were quite surprised at some of the flavours we found.

First up was Benrinnes 1996

The nose on this reminded me of lime zest with a light floral note, whereas Mike got floral toffee, roast lemon and candy with sea salt and we both agreed on the presence of pear drops.  The taste gave me an initial chilli prickle with vanilla and lychees, melon and pear and Mike had similar flavours with a coffee bitterness.  This we found after being left for a short while turned to custard creams.  A great dram to get us started.

Next up was Mortlach 1998.

Most prominent on the nose for both of us was fresh laundry, honeysuckle, lemon and coconut.  Although whether the laundry smell was from the whisky or the dishwasher I'm not sure - I may have to try this one again to check.  And again.  The taste began with an icing sugar sweetness over nectarines then a kick of chilli chocolate burst through (milk chocolate that is) leaving a light, fruity, boiled sweets finish.  If the first whisky doesnt wake you up and refresh you then this one sure will.

We moved on then to Glentauchers 2010.

Whilst immediately reminding me of a fruity malt loaf, toffee and Jasmine Mike had stewed prunes with rhubard and liquorice.  Quite a lot off different smells from this young dram.  The taste moved onto over cooked toffee with an orange bitters and smoky edge to it reminding us both of a collection of baking before it goes into the oven. This was so warming and spicy as it went down you could feel it warming you all the way to your belly button.

And finally the Caol Ila 2006

Well, all I am going to say about this is wow! a great mixture of icing sugar sweetness, bonfires on the beach mixed with smoked kippers and smoked ham.  I'm now going to get my BBQ, take it to the beach and relax with a Carn Mor Caol Ila and smoked ham sandwiches.  This is deffinately one you need to buy to try for yourselves.



A Selection of Hepburn's Choice Tasting Notes

By Lady of the Drams

Hepburns Choice Mortlach 7 Years Old

I found the nose on this very fruity (Fruitellas) and citrussy (sherbet Lemons) with a hint of polished wood in the background and honeysuckle.  This then led to a taste with an initial spicy hit giving way to liquorice, spiced oranges, star anise with a light hint of smoke in the background.  The smoke lingers on the finish with spices added in and it leaves your mouth tingling.

Hepburns Choice Talisker 6 Years Old

From this whisky I get Mattesson smoked sausage (other sausages are available) covered with salted caramel chocolate. The taste is surprisingly smooth  reminding me of salted pork with a creamy peppercorn sauce poured over the top.  A vibrant finish that makes your mouth come alive, and some lingering smoke ash.

Hepburns Choice Caol Ila 5 Years Old

The nose on this whisky reminds me of cold tar with a hint of seaweed, giving way to a taste of ash from a wood fire, then briny with a hint of waxy lemon skins.  The finish is rather smoky and waxy coating the mouth leaving a finish that lasts quite a while.


Lady of the Drams

This page is the personal views and experiences of a lady in the whisky industry.

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Welcome to my first posting as Lady of the Drams.  On this page I hope to entertain you with fun, facts and more importantly, tasting notes to help you decide which whiskies you want to buy from us.

I will admit that before moving to Dufftown I had never tasted a whisky at all and certainly didn’t know there was more to whisky than Grouse and Bells and that it wasn’t just for old men sitting in their favourite corner of their local pub (yes I know, shame on me, I can hear you all gasping in horror).  My first introduction to whisky, or rather the first one I enjoyed,  was Aberlour 10 as a friend told me ‘there is a whisky for everyone you just have to find the right one for you’.  He was right and when I started working for Mike over 4 years ago I found it, or rather I found quite a few.  Lots and lots even.

The world of whisky was opened up to me and I instantly fell in love with this magnificent and diverse liquid.  From there, under the expert guidance of Mike I have learnt to hold my own whisky tastings,  judge whisky in competitions and he even now trusts me to put my tasting notes on the shop website and help him choose our next bottlings (the fool).

So enough about me let’s get to the first set of my tasting notes which are from Hunter Laing’s Hepburn’s Choice range.  While a lot of the whiskies in this range are young and pale don’t let this fool you these whiskies will have your taste buds dancing for joy!

The Whisky Shop Dufftown Whisky Inspired Cupcake or Muffin

The Whisky Shop Dufftown is running a competition to find the best Speyside whisky inspired Muffin or Cupcake. The final judging will take place during Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2015 at a tasting open to the public.

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Here is our example of a whisky inspired cupcake or muffin.  It's to help inspire you to something better and to help you understand what we want.

We have chosen Glenmorangie 10 Years Old.  Yes, we know it's not a Speyside whisky.  That is one reason why we chose it.  We didn't want to use a whisky in our example that you might want to use.  Also, when Mike first did this pairing back in 2007 he created a cupcake / muffin that featured banana and toffee to complement his tasting note for Glenmorangie at the time.  Now, we get orange, milk chocolate and spices. So to our basic recipe we have had added orange essence and to get that more complex orange spice notes we have added orange bitters - our secret ingredient.  And of course milk chocolate.  Dark chocolate is too strong, we think, for Glenmorangie but we need to add the bitterness that dark chocolate would give and the spices.  That's the reason we have added the orange bitters.  The topping is a combination of cream, milk chocolate and Glenmorangie itself.  We like to use the whisky in our recipe and in this case we have used it in the topping.  This presents the flavour more directly and for us that is important for a lighter whisky like Glenmorangie.  Baking might cook out all of the flavours and this way the alcohol is still present which we like!

If you are eating one of these in Scotland you should not drive afterwards!

The orange bitters gives a real depth of flavour so you may not want more than 1 or 2 but you can have as much Glenmorangie as required.

Here is our finished product.  Not the most attractive of baking but you don't drink the packaging or in this case the presentation is not the taste.


You can do better!!!!!  And above all have fun.

You can watch Mike speaking about our example here.  We understand he had not taken all of his tablets on the day the video was made.

Full details of the competition are here.


Makes just over a dozen

For the batter:  225g unsalted butter, 225g caster sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, 4 eggs, 1 tsp orange essence, 1 tbsp orange bitters, 100g milk chocolate chips.

For the glaze: 100g milk chocolate, 75ml whipping cream, 1 tbs Glenmorangie.

Preheat the oven to 175 C.  Place 15 or so paper baking cases into muffin tins.  Combine all the batter ingredients except the chocolate chips in a large bowl and beat with an electric whisk until smooth and pale.  Takes 2 to 3 mins.  You can use a wooden spoon to combine.  This makes a heavier batter no matter how hard and long you beat but it also works well.


FlourBitters & Essence


Chocolate ChipsBatter

Spoon the batter into the cases and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool for around 5 minutes.  Then remove them and cool on a rack.


For the glaze, melt the chocolate in a medium bowl over a pan of simmering water until completely melted. Add the cream and stir until combined.  Then add the Glenmorangie and stir again.  Cool slightly and then pour over the cupcakes.  Refrigerate until set.



Bloggers Pledge

We have received no payment, free stock, inducement or remuneration of any kind in relation to this post.  Our opinions are our own and have not been influenced in any way.  We believe that's obvious.  The Whisky Shop Dufftown - truly independent!


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The Whisky Shop Dufftown @ Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2015

Here are our events for The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2015.  We will be selling tickets from our website as well as Spirit of Speyside.  We will temporarily suspend selling tickets when the ticket sales are first launched on the festival website.

Spirit of Speyside Logo

Every day (Thursday to Monday)

11:00 to 17:00 (45 minutes) - The Whisky Shop Dufftown Challenge for Independent Bottlers - Speyside (£5):  Find the best independent bottling from the Speyside region in The WSD Challenge for Independent Bottlers.  Please specify the day you wish to attend in the comments field when checking out.

11:00 to 17:00 (45 minutes) - The Whisky Shop Dufftown Challenge for Independent Bottlers - Rest of Whisky (£5):  Find the best independent bottling from the rest of whisky outside the Speyside region in The WSD Challenge for Independent Bottlers.  Please specify the day you wish to attend in the comments field when checking out.

Every day (Friday to Monday)

10:00 (45 minutes) - Find the Best Malt for a Bacon Roll (£5). Ever wondered what the best single malt is to go with a bacon roll? This is your chance to find out as we pair 4 malt whiskies with a bacon roll.

12:30 (45 minutes) - Find the Best Malt for Haggis (£8).  Ever wondered what the best single malt is to go with Haggis, Neeps and Tatties? This is your chance to find out as we pair 4 malts with Haggis.

Thursday 30 April 2015

18:00 (1hour) - Whisky Tasting: It All Started with a Big Dram (£8).  An informal tasting of a selection of whiskies at The Whisky Shop Dufftown

Friday 1 May 2015

12:00 (2 hours) - Whisky Questions (£7).  An innovative session hosted by The Drouthy Cobbler and The Whisky Shop Dufftown which gives the audience the chance to quiz a great panel of whisky experts.  Please note that tickets for this event are only available from the festival website.

14:00 (1hour 15 minutes) - Whisky Tasting: The Malts of Whyte & MacKay (£18).  This whisky tasting is hosted by Graham Rushworth and features single malts from several of Whyte & MacKay distilleries.

16:00 (1hour 15 minutes) - Whisky Tasting: Berry Bros & Rudd (£18).  This whisky tasting features a selection of whiskies from Berry Bros & Rudd, independent bottler, with Jonny McMillan.

18:00 (1 hour 15 minutes) - Whisky Tasting: Douglas Laing (£18).  Whisky Tasting of the pick of the best from independent bottler Douglas Laing with Jan Beckers.

20:00 (1 hour 30 minutes) - Music Evening with Shona Donaldson & Paul Anderson (£12.50).  Traditional Scottish Music with two of Scotland's best musicians - Shona Donaldson and Paul Anderson.

Saturday 2 May 2015

09:30 (3 hours 45 minutes) - Whisky Tour:  The Glenlivet Distillery Open Day & Sma' Still (£75).  Join us for an adventure by bus from Dufftown to The Glenlivet for a tour by the manager followed by time to enjoy the distillery open day

14:30 (1hour) - Whisky Tasting: The Great Speyside Bake Off (£18).  The Whisky Shop Dufftown is on a search to find the best Speyside whisky inspired Muffin or Cupcake. Come along and judge the best!

16:00 (1 hour 15 minutes) - Whisky Tasting: Adelphi (£18).  This whisky tasting will be of a selection of whiskies from independent bottler Adelphi with Ant.onia Bruce

18:00 (1 hour 15 minutes) - Whisky Tasting:  Cadenheads (£18).  This whisky tasting will feature the new range from independent bottler Cadenheads and will be hosted by Mark Watt.

Sunday 3 May 2015

10:00 (3 hours) - Whisky Tour: Behing the Scenes at Benromach Distillery (£50).  Join us for an adventure by bus from Dufftown to Benromach Distillery for a very special Benind the Scenes tour at Benromach Distillery with Susan Colville.

14:00 (1 hour 15 mins) - Whisky Tasking:  Smoky Speyside with Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley (£18).  This tasting will be hosted by drinks writers and presenters Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley and focus on smoky Speyside whiskies.

16:00 (1 hour 15 mins) - Whisky & Beer Tasting: Scotland V The World (£18).  Scottish Beers V International Beers but that's not all each beer will be paired with a particular food and a dram!

18:00 (1 hour 15 mins) - Whisky Tasting: Morrison & MacKay (£18).  Peter MacKay will host this single malt whisky tasting of their new range of whiskies from the Morrison & MacKay range.

20:00 (1 hour 30 mins) - Music and Whisky Evening: Robin Laing (£20).  The Whisky Bard Robin Laing is one of Scotland's premier folk singer-song writers and will entertain with whisky as well as music.

Monday 4 May 2015

08:45 (3 hours 30 mins) - Whisky Tour: Glen Moray Distillery (£45). Join us for an adventure by bus to Glen Moray Distillery for an exceptional tour and tasting.

14:00 (1hour 15 mins) - Whisky Tasting: Gordon & MacPhail (£18).  This whisky tasting features a selection of whiskies from Gordon & MacPhail, independent bottler

18:00 (1hour 15 mins) - Whisky Tasting: Laphroaig (£18).  Vicky Stevens of Laphroaig will host this whisky tasting looking at their range of malt whiskies.

20:00 (2hours):  The Whisky Shop Dufftown Drams Party (£12).  Come along and try some of the whiskies from The Whisky Shop Dufftown's tastings you may have missed and plenty of other whiskies too

The Whisky Shop Dufftown Great Speyside Bake Off

2015 is The Year of Food and Drink in Scotland and to celebrate pairing whisky and food The Whisky Shop Dufftown is running a competition to find the best Speyside whisky inspired Muffin or Cupcake.  The final judging will take place during Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2015 at a tasting open to the public.

The many different Speyside whiskies have a tremendous range of flavours and pairing them with food is a true delight.  It can emphasise flavours in the food or in the whisky.  It can even bring out entirely new flavours as well.  Home baking is again a focus for people so what better way to celebrate Scotland's finest whiskies by letting them inspire you?  The Muffin or Cupcake can either be created to pair with a specific Speyside dram, contain the whisky in the recipe or be inspired by Speyside's finest in some other way.  The whisky chosen should be readily available in the UK.

The best recipes selected by local whisky and food experts will be featured at a whisky tasting during Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2015 hosted by The Whisky Shop Dufftown where visitors to the festival will be able to choose the best combination.  The creator of that combination will win 2 nights accommodation at the fabulous Dowans hotel in Aberlour, a special distillery tour and a voucher for The Oakwood Cookery School in Elgin.

WSD Great Speyside Bake Off 02 SofSWF

Can you rise to the challenge?  We don't want any half-baked ideas. Be inspired!

To enter please supply a detailed recipe, a picture of your finished baking and a short piece on how you have been inspired (no more than 300 words).  We would also love to see a video of you making your Muffin or Cupcake that we can use on Social Media.   You do not have to be coming to Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2015 to enter

Entries to be received by no later than 31st March 2015 and should be sent by email to enquiries@whiskyshopdufftown.com.

Further information can be obtained by contacting The Whisky Shop Dufftown (enquiries@whiskyshopdufftown.com, 01340 821 097).  Tickets for the tasting will go on sale on www.spiritofspeyside.com at 12 noon on 3 February 2015.

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The WSD @ SofSWF 2015

January 2015 15% Off Sale

Someone said to me that it's been a long time since The Whisky Shop Dufftown had a January sale.  Having done our stocktake we can change that and we certainly need the room.  There's just nowhere else we can put another shelf.  So we have decided to put over 100 different products on sale with at least 15% off to mark the start of 2015.  The full list is below.   We have also kept some of our festive offers on for January.  All our sale items are listed on the SPECIAL OFFERS page.

These are all limited stock so do not delay if you are interested.

WSD SlideShow 2015 15 Percent

Description Original Price Sale Price
Adelphi Aultmore 1982 28 Years Old  *** SOLD OUT *** £115.00 £97.00
Adelphi Aultmore 1982 29 Years Old £115.00 £97.00
Adelphi Benriach 1990 23 Years Old £99.50 £84.00
Adelphi Bladnoch 1990 24 Years Old £96.95 £82.00
Adelphi Bunnahabhain 1989 24 Years Old £118.95 £100.00
Adelphi Fascadale 12 Years Old Batch 6 Clynelish £48.95 £41.00
Adelphi Glen Grant 1992 21 Years Old £82.95 £70.00
Adelphi Glenrothes 1991 21 Years Old  *** SOLD OUT *** £83.95 £71.00
Adelphi Glenrothes 1991 22 Years Old £89.95 £76.00
Adelphi Glenturret 1988 25 Years Old  *** SOLD OUT *** £127.95 £108.00
Adelphi Highland Park 1997 13 Years Old  *** SOLD OUT *** £70.95 £60.00
Adelphi Linkwood 1990 24 Years Old £94.95 £80.00
Adelphi Longmorn 1985 28 Years Old  *** SOLD OUT *** £110.00 £93.00
Adelphi Longmorn 1992 22 Years Old £88.95 £75.00
Adelphi Miltonduff 1981 32 Years Old £138.95 £118.00
Adelphi Royal Brackla 1997 16 Years Old £79.95 £67.00
Adelphi Strathmill 1986 24 Years Old £95.95 £81.00
ADR Glencadam 1991 21 Years Old  *** SOLD OUT *** £55.95 £47.00
Ancient Mariner Navy Rum £39.95 £33.00
Auchroisk 30 Years Old (2012 Release) £233.00 £198.00
Benromach 1976 £408.95 £345.00
Berry Bro's & Rudd Aultmore 1997 £60.95 £51.00
Berry Bro's & Rudd Clynelish 1997 £64.95 £55.00
Berry Bro's & Rudd Cragganmore 1989 21 Years Old John Milroy £76.95 £65.00
Berry Bro's & Rudd Dufftown 1982 £116.95 £99.00
Berry Bro's & Rudd Glen Keith 1993 £78.95 £67.00
Berry Bro's & Rudd Linkwood 1987 £130.00 £110.00
Berry Bro's & Rudd Longmorn 1988 £92.50 £78.00
Berry's Glenlossie 1992 20 Years Old  *** SOLD OUT *** £65.95 £56.00
Berrys Own Selection Auchroisk 1991 21 Years Old £89.95 £76.00
Berry's Own Selection Ben Nevis 1998 £65.95 £56.00
Berrys Own Selection Braes of Glenlivet 1994 18 Years Old (WSD) £83.95 £70.00
Berrys Own Selection Bunnahabhain 2006 6 Years Old £42.95 £36.00
Berry's Own Selection Caperdonich 1995 £77.95 £66.00
Berry's Own Selection Girvan 1989 22 Years Old  *** SOLD OUT *** £53.95 £45.00
Berry's Own Selection Glencadam 1991 £89.95 £76.00
Berrys Own Selection Inchgower 2000 12 Years Old £47.95 £40.00
Berry's Own Selection Linkwood 1999 £52.95 £45.00
Beinn A'Cheo Dailuaine 1997 16 Years Old £62.95 £53.00
Big Peat @ Christmas (2014) £46.95 £39.00
Brandon's Gin £26.95 £22.00
Bruichladdich 1990 23 Years Old Black Art Edition 04.1 £186.95 £155.00
Cadenhead Small Batch Caol Ila 10 Years Old  ***SOLD OUT *** £39.95 £33.00
Cadenhead Small Batch Tamdhu 1992 22 Years Old £79.95 £67.00
Cadenhead Small Batch Tamnavulin 22 Years Old £78.95 £67.00
Campbeltown Loch 21 £74.25 £63.00
Carn Mor Celebration of the Cask Girvan 1989 23 Years Old £91.95 £78.00
Carn Mor Celebration of the Cask Tamdhu 1989 23 Years Old £83.95 £70.00
Carn Mor Celebration of the Cask Tomatin 1987 27 Years Old £126.95 £107.00
Carn Mor Strictly Limited Arran 1997 16 Years Old £53.95 £45.00
Carn Mor Strictly Limited Ben Nevis 1997 16 Years Old £53.95 £45.00
Carn Mor Strictly Limited Glenallachie 1995 18 Years Old £55.95 £47.00
Carn Mor Strictly Limited Ledaig 1997 16 Years Old £58.50 £49.00
Carn Mor Strictly Limited Speyside 1996 18 Years Old £59.95 £50.00
Celebration of the Cask Aberlour 1994 £86.50 £73.00
Celebration of the Cask Auchentoshan 1989 £120.95 £100.00
Celebration of the Cask Braes of Glenlivet 1994 £86.50 £73.00
Celebration of the Cask Glen Grant 1992 £84.95 £72.00
Celebration of the Cask Glenrothes 1989 £245.00 £208.00
Connoisseurs Choice Glenallachie 1999 £35.95 £30.00
Cooper's Choice Auchentoshan 2001  *** SOLD OUT *** £38.95 £33.00
Cooper's Choice Clynelish 1997 15 Years Old  *** SOLD OUT *** £51.95 £44.00
Darnley's View Gin £25.95 £22.00
Glendronach 1995 19 Years Old Cask #3250  *** SOLD OUT *** £89.95 £76.00
Glendronach 1995 19 Years Old Cask #4887 £89.95 £76.00
Glendronach 1995 19 Years Old Cask #3326 £89.95 £76.00
Glenfarclas 25 Years Old Quarter Cask £275.00 £230.00
Glenfarclas 31 Years Old Port Cask £305.00 £259.00
Glenfarclas Family Cask 1991 Exclusive to The Whisky Shop Dufftown £199.95 £169.00
Glengoyne 12 Years Old (43%) £37.95 £32.00
Glenmorangie Nectar D'Or £56.95 £48.00
Gordon & MacPhail Cask Glen Scotia 1992 £82.95 £70.00
Gordon & MacPhail Exclusive Caol Ila 2004 9 Years Old £47.95 £40.00
Great King Street Experiment 1 Smoke £28.95 £24.00
Great King Street Experiment 2 Sherry £28.95 £24.00
Isle of Jura Superstition £31.95 £27.00
MacPhails Collection Bunnahabhain 8 Years Old £27.95 £23.00
Old Malt Cask Allt'a'Bhainne 1995 17 Years Old £72.95 £62.00
Old Malt Cask Benrinnes 1992 19 Years Old  *** SOLD OUT *** £68.95 £58.00
Old Malt Cask Bowmore 2000 11 Years Old £61.95 £52.00
Old Malt Cask Glen Grant 1993 18 Years Old £66.95 £56.00
Old Malt Cask Glenburgie 1997 16 Years Old £65.95 £56.00
Old Malt Cask Glendullan 1999 14 Years Old £59.95 £50.00
Old Malt Cask Laphroaig 1996 17 Years Old £79.95 £67.00
Old Malt Cask Linkwood 1996 16 Years Old £65.95 £56.00
Old Malt Cask MacDuff 1991 21 Years Old £73.95 £62.00
Old Malt Cask Tamdhu 1988 25 Years Old £130.00 £110.00
Old Particular Benrinnes 1999 15 Years Old £61.95 £52.00
Old Particular Bowmore 1987 25 Years Old £253.95 £215.00
Old Particular Bowmore 1996 18 Years Old £99.95 £84.00
Old Particular Glenrothes 1997 16 Years Old £75.50 £64.00
Provenance Auchroisk 2002 10 Years Old £35.95 £30.00
Provenance Dailuaine 1997 15 Years Old £46.95 £39.00
Provenance Glenburgie 1999 12 Years Old £36.95 £31.00
Provenance Glendullan 1999 12 Years Old £38.95 £33.00
Provenance Laiphroaig 2000 12 Years Old £63.95 £54.00
Provenance Laphroaig 2005 8 Years Old £59.95 £50.00
Provenance Mortlach 2004 10 Years Old £42.95 £36.00
Provenance Aultmore 2008 5 Years Old £56.95 £48.00
Provenance Glenrothes 2004 9 Years Old £62.95 £53.00
Singleton of Dufftown 28 Years Old Special Release 2013 £233.00 £198.00
Sloane's Premium Dry Gin £25.75 £21.00
Small Batch Girvan 33 Years Old  £122.50 £104.00
Springbank 18 (2013 Release)  *** SOLD OUT *** £73.50 £62.00
Springbank 18 (2014 Release)  *** SOLD OUT *** £80.95 £68.00
Springbank 21 Years Old (2014 Release) *** SOLD OUT *** £216.00 £183.00
Strictly Limited Ledaig 2005 7 Years Old £35.95 £30.00
Strictly Limited Royal Brackla 13 £46.95 £39.00
Tormore 12 Years Old (1 litre) £34.95 £29.00
Wemyss Bunnahabhain 1997 "The Malt Barn"   *** SOLD OUT *** £57.95 £49.00
Wemyss Bunnahabhain 1991 "Oysters with Lemon Pearls"    ***  SOLD OUT *** £90.95 £77.00
Wemyss Teaninich 1982 "Winter Sprice" ***SOLD OUT*** £105.95 £90.00

12 Days to the 25th 25% Off Christmas Sale on 12 Stunning Whiskies

We are counting down to Christmas with a very unique sale starting today.  With 12 (ish) days to go to 25th December we have selected 12 stunning whiskies and discounted them by 25%.

Get it? 12 days.  12 whiskies. 25th.  25%.

These whiskies are in very short supply so don't delay!


Day Whisky Price Sale Price
1 Glenfarclas 1963 Family Cask Rifle and Shot Gun Cleaning kit  £ 7,500.00  £ 5,625.00
2 Benriach 1966 46 Years Old Vestige  £ 3,995.00  £ 2,996.00
3 Glendronach 1968 Recherche  £ 2,750.00  £ 2,062.00
4 Private Collection Glenlivet 1954  £ 1,825.00  £ 1,368.00
5 Highland Park 40 Years Old (Out of Stock)  £ 1,686.00  £ 1,264.00
6 Glen Garioch 1958 46 Years Old  £ 1,500.00  £ 1,125.00
7 Old Pulteney 40 Years Old  £ 1,490.00  £ 1,117.00
8 Director's Cut Port Ellen 35 Years Old (Out of stock)  £    840.00  £    630.00
9 Dalmore 25 Years Old  £    600.00  £    450.00
10 Isle of Jura 1976 (Out of Stock)  £    500.00  £    375.00
11 Director's Cut Ardbeg 1991 23 Years Old  £    485.00  £    363.00
12 Old Malt Cask Macallan 1988 25 Years Old  £    455.00  £    341.00

We have loads more offers in our festive sale.  Check out all of our sale here.

The legal bit:  Prices are quoted inclusive of VAT which applies to all UK and European Union sales.  Shipping charges will apply but we are offering free delivery in the UK on all purchases made up until December 31st.  No further discounts can be applies to any of our Special Offers.

Benriach 1966 46 Vestige infrontGlendronach 1968 44 RechercheGM Private Collection Glenlivet 1954
Highland Park 40Old Pulteney 40 copyDirectors Cut Port Ellen 35Jura 1976 copyDirectors Cut Ardbeg 23OMC Macallan 1988Dalmore 25


Glenfarclas 1963

A Quick Look at 2 Benromachs

Benromach 10 Years Old 100 Proof

This is a relatively new addition to the Benromach range.  They have opted for 57% ABV rather than cask strength version.  I guess this will lead to a more consistent product but it is more than a higher ABV version of the 10 Years Old in my opinion.  I really liked this whisky and it is well worth the extra money over the 10 years old.

Nose:  Initially there's treacle and demarara sugar sweetness backed by freshly baked biscuits, sponge cake crust and apples cooked so they have caramelised.

Taste:  Mouth coating.  Then there is a punch of wood smoke all the time getting sweeter.  There is also a saltiness like crisps.  A few drops of water boosts the impact.

Finish:  Long and very lingering smokiness.  Sweet.  Cracked pepper and chili spice add to the invigorating finish.

Benromach 10 100 Proof

Benromach Organic

Now in the new style Benromach packaging but also for my money a different liquid.  We used to fool people with this one as being from a sherry cask which it certainly was not.  I really do not think you could do that now.   A good whisk but I was disappointed with the apparent change in the liquid.  I probably need to retry this one.

Nose:  Boiled sweets and pear drops.  Peach skins and barley sugar.

Taste:  Sweet, spicy and light smoke.  There's also something like a dab of blackcurrant jam.  Interestingly the smoke gets more pronounced with time.

Finish:  Sugar water and golden syrup.

Benromach Organic 2014

Moist Von Lipwig at Balvenie

Autumn Speyside Whisky Festivals 2014

This report is presented complete and unabridged.  However most of the events where part of the The Whisky Shop Dufftown Autumn Festival.

Report by Bruce Crichton

After the series of bit parts I had recorded for ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' were cut, I headed to Dufftown. The surgeon was able to reattach and, with the foot literally on the other hand, the Autumn Speyside Whisky festival was just what I needed and after many days of great whisky, food, music, tours, kiwis, wallabies, hakas and a bucket of Kininvie, here is my account of it.

This report is only a rough guide and may contain factual errors, for which I apologize in advance. Tasting notes are subjective and comment is added from experts present during note taking. Most often, I find myself able to describe the taste of sweets extremely well and the reader is invited to speculate how I have managed to reach adulthood with any teeth remaining. To shorten the report, I refer the reader to previous reports and tastings if a whisky re-appears. I also assume the reader is familiar with widely available bottlings mentioned. Any cask samples, discontinued releases and fill-your-own (FYO) tasted are described briefly, as these may not be available to buy. When water added was, literally, one drop and whiskies were 40%abv, if the strength is not otherwise indicated.


‘It all started with a big dram' at the Whiskyshop Dufftown

On Thursday afternoon, Whisky Shop Dufftown (WSD) owner Mike Lord presented 3 drams to begin the festival with. Mike had had a barren summer with cautious crocodiles wisely avoiding his waterhole because his death roll is a terrifying sight to behold and even Luis Suarez fears his bite. In this tasting, he presented the 3 most interesting whiskies he had come across recently.

It all started with a big dram

After Mike emptied a bottle of Benromach's excellent 10 year old into a giant snifter glass for a charity event over the weekend, we tasted Diageo's flagship ‘Rare Old' Mortlach, at 43.4%abv. A somewhat controversial release, this contains whisky between 6 and 21 years old with Diageo aiming to keep the product consistent. There was much less sherry character than the popular but discontinued 16 year old ‘Flora and Fauna' bottling and I found the nose to be almost magical with sherbet and fruit crumble and there was some bourbon cask fruitiness present with the taste being both crisp and sweet. Mike commented that Mortlach has recently doubled in size and has gone from the smallest distillery in Dufftown to being the second largest.

Leif starts with a big dram






















As this was going on, Brett the kiwi made a surprise re-appearance, sparking a discussion that ended with the conclusion that the England rugby team should do a Morris dance when the New Zealand rugby team are doing their haka and should probably do a Morris dance before every match they play.

Highland Park ‘Dark Origins', at 46.8%abv, had been taken from 80% sherry casks and did have a somewhat rubbery nose that dissipated with the whisky being given time to breathe. As Mike reminisced about the 1990's releases from the distillery, I found this to have the taste of sweet, stewed fruits and shortbread with a touch of peat.

The third and final dram, a 1991 Glenfarclas Family Cask, exclusive to the WSD, at 53.8%abv, was reviewed in the spring festival report. As we tasted it, Mike told us of his campaign to make Dufftown a recognized whisky region and pointed out that, if he succeeds, it will be the third biggest whisky region.


Glen Elgin and Benriach tours

 At Glen Elgin distillery, we were greeted by Kwanele, our guide for the morning. Glen Elgin contributes significantly to the ‘White Horse' blends', with the logo visible on entry. Glen Elgin is also component of the popular Bells and Johnnie Walker's blends.

Glen Elgin Distillery tour

Belgravia and Concerto malts are used, from nearby Burghead, with 8.4 tons of malt per mash, at Glen Elgin, and the grist is split into 8 fractions instead of the usual 3 of husks, grist and flour. Diageo believe this gives them more information, reducing variability and giving them a better extract. Fermentation is a minimum of 90 hours with the aim of producing a fruity character in the spirit.

In 2012, the washbacks were increased from 6 to 9, the mashes increased from 11 to 16 and production increased from 5 to 7 days per week. Increased automation allows a single operator to work where, before, a stillman and mashman were required. On top of each washback is a soap dispenser that, in the event of a power cut, will dispense soap into the wash to prevent foam spilling over. The distillery has 6 stills and currently spirit is transported to Cambus, in Clackmannanshire, as the Auchroisk facility at Keith is at capacity. A distillery upgrade is planned for November 2014 with the spirit receivers to be replaced.

Glen Elgin Stills

We tasted a sweet 1995 ‘Exclusive' from Gordon and MacPhail (G&M), at 50%abv, which had the taste of fruit and boiled sweets. This bottling has long since sold out though the curious reader is invited to the G&M shop in Elgin as there will no doubt be future releases from the company.

Moving on to Benriach, we met Ewan George who showed us a promotional DVD from the company that clearly been produced by the makers of ‘Police Squad'.  Last year, the distillery made 2.4 million litres of alcohol with a third being used for single malt and the rest traded as spirit. 175,000 litres of peated spirit were made and all was kept by the distillery. Interestingly, master blender Billy Walker was unaware when taking over the distillery in 2004 that he had inherited peated spirit dating back to 1972.

1994 was another landmark year for the distillery as then owners Seagram's bottled Benriach as a single malt, one of the so-called ‘Heritage Selection'. Using Optic Concerto malted barley, the distillery uses 4 waters rather than the traditional 3, something done by both Chivas and Seagrams', the previous owners.

The short stills have a slight reflux that Ewan says imparts fruity character. Foreshots are kept short at 13 minutes to retain the fruity esters while the cut is between 61 and 73 percent while peated spirit has a cut of between 60 and 73 percent.

Spirit intended for single malt is filled into first fill casks with a small percentage filled into refill casks that are intended for blending. Demineralized borehole water is used to reduce casks. For example, the award winning 12 year old Sherry cask matured release, mostly available in the Far East, is diluted to 47%abv and left for between 6 and 8 weeks before being bottled at 46%abv.

An impressive tasting lineup began with the 1999 virgin oak finish, single cask, at 46%abv. It was sweet with vanilla and cream notes and the finish was spicy. A 1997 distillery shop exclusive, at 59.2%abv, had spent 15 years in a bourbon cask before 11 final months in a Sauternes wine cask. Ewan finds that this cask gives the whisky a caramelized taste. I found that the taste of crème brulee and first fill bourbon was too hard to resist. A 1996 vintage, at 52.4%abv, matured for the final 3 years in a Pedro Ximenez cask had tremendous sweetness from start to finish.

Ewan George of Benriach

A 1977 Rioja finish, at 44.1%abv, bottled in 2012, was the first ‘I was there' moment of the festival. Ewan found the taste of sponge cake while I smelled stewed fruits and tasted raspberry ripple. Finally, we had the 25 year old ‘Authenticus', at 46%abv which apparently contains some 1985 virgin oak finish. It smelled of mellow peat, tasted of smooth and sweet peat and the finish was long, luxurious and soft.


Session whiskies by Gordon and MacPhail

Mike Paterson of G&M took time to recount the company's history, praising previous owner George Urquhart for being ahead of his time in laying down malt whisky for future with the motto ‘Tomorrow is shaped by today's decisions, today is shaped by decisions of the past'.

Mike Patterson of Gordon and Macphail

The first of a series of possible session whiskies was a ‘MacPhail's 15 year old' mystery malt. This range was introduced in 1983. Mike himself does not know the distillery this whisky is taken from though he said that 40 percent of the whisky was matured in refill sherry casks. It had mint, sherbet and cheesecake on the nose though the taste was difficult to describe and festival regular ‘Boisterous Aberdonian' reckoned it had a quick finish. Mike Paterson added that the bottles of this malt whisky can be personalized while Mike Lord said that the WSD does the same thing by sticking a post-it note to the bottle. As we were discussing this, gasps of amazement greeted the announcement that a legendary peaty whisky lover enjoyed this despite it not having any discernable peat.

George Urquhart introduced the Connoisseur's Choice (CC) range in the 1960s to make available whiskies that were otherwise unavailable as single malts and, appropriately, a 2004 CC Balmenach, at a standard strength of 46%abv, was our next whisky. The distillery was owned by Diageo and current owners Inver House have never bottled it. The Balmenach had been matured in refill sherry casks and smelled of creamy soft cheese. The taste was of chewy pear drops and the spicy finish was very long.

The MacPhail's collection range appeared in 1998 and an 8 year old Tamdhu, at 43%abv, needed time to breath but, having done so, I found light golden syrup and honey on the nose while water revealed fizzy sherbet. This had been matured in refill sherry and bourbon casks, giving it the taste of fruit salad chew bars with vanilla being revealed by water. This particular range bottles either as an age statement or as a vintage. Festival regular Danny Maguire found this particularly enjoyable as it took his mind of the fact that he has tennis elbow in his knees from playing golf.

‘Distillery Label' Linkwood, at 43%abv, smelled of golden honey and sherbet and tasted lightly fruity with toffee notes. The finish was short and did have a bite to it. Mike Paterson thinks it has a little bit of everything and represents a classic Speyside whisky taken from both bourbon and sherry casks.

We ended with the widely available, recently repackaged Benromach 10 year old, at 43%abv, detailed later. Mike told us to look out for the upcoming 10 year old ‘100 proof' addition to the range and an Hermitage wine finish. A 5 year old will replace the ‘Traditional' while Mike said he was looking forward to future ‘Organic' releases as the company can reuse the casks used previously in that bottling.

Whisky Corner – ‘Peat in Whisky'

Appearing at a festival for the first time were Stewart Craigon and Kirsty Clarke who have their own blog entitled www.whiskycorner.co.uk . Kirsty does most of the writing for the site while Stewart runs a whisky club and the couple are available for corporate events and PR.

Mike introduces Kirsty and Stewart

Beginning with the Highland Park ‘Dark Origins' tasted earlier, Stewart detailed the composition of Orkney peat which, unlike other parts of Scotland, has no trees. The ‘Fogg' is the top layer of peat that gives the initial smoke, the ‘yahrpe' layer gives smoke and heat and the ‘moss' gives heat with prolonged but less intense smoke. The barley is dried for 36 hours with 18 of those hours done with peat and the rest done with coke. (My initial thought that they would get better results with Irn Bru was, on reflection, a bit daft). As we considered this, Boisterous Aberdonian started to act up, apparently the result of his trying to smoke a hashtag. Boisterous also reckoned the whisky had a quick finish but nonetheless held its own, something he has experience of, apparently.

Douglas Laing's ‘Big Peat' vatted malt, at 46%abv, smelled of toffee and mints, indicating that the nose was dominated by Bowmore. Light and sweet, the smoke gently tickled the palate.  Port Charlotte ‘Scottish Barley', at 50%abv, had light smoke and icing sugar aromas with minty and soft smoke tastes while the finish had smoked fish and salt.

An Cnoc ‘Cutter', at 46%abv, was the fourth in a series of highland malts from the Knochdhu distillery, all named after cutting tools, the other 3 in the series are the ‘Rutter', ‘Flaughter' and ‘Tushkar'.  Unusually, the distillery publishes the level of peat in the whisky instead of the barley. The ‘Cutter' had just been released a few days beforehand with Kirsty and Stewart tasting all four of them, back to back with Kirsty reckoning this one had the biggest punch of the 4. After finding fizzy sweetness on the nose, I noticed chewy peat and smoked fish on the taste while water lengthened the finish.

The widely available Laphroaig Quarter Cask, at 48%abv, had the biggest punch of the tasting. A drop of water revealed smoked fish on the nose with smoke erupting on the palate with excellent chewiness and fresh wood present. As I chewed the whisky, Kirsty said she would like to see more companies state the level of peat in the bottle and, to follow, Boisterous changed topic by recommending ‘Charlie Barley', purveyor of black pudding in Stornoway. At this point, I caution readers asking them to consider the fact that Boisterous was burned in a wicker man on his last visit to Lewis.

A bonus dram of the 12 year old Highland Park, at the very end, revealed itself to be back on effervescent form with lots of delightful, cheery sweetness, making it the most surprising whisky of the weekend.


Cheeky Drams at Glendronach distillery

Arriving at Glendronach on Saturday morning, we were greeted by Karen, our guide for the tour. I've reported on this distillery extensively in my reports for the autumn festivals of 2009, 2010 and 2012 so I'll say only that it was not in production this particular weekend and add a few interesting factoids.

The distillery has increased production every year since 2008 when it was sold by Chivas to Benriach in 2008. The maltings closed in 1996 at the same time the distillery did and was not reopened in 2002 when the distillery was because the building is not strong enough. However, it is preserved as a museum piece. The washbacks are made of Scottish larch and the stills are oil-heated. In the warehouse, there are octave and quarter casks as well as butts and a trial sherry, not from Jerez, is currently being tested.

Karen at Glendronach

At our tasting, Karen told us that her favourite from the core range is the 18 year old ‘Allardice' that she finds ‘cheeky' and, that instant, she was proved to be correct as the whisky in my glass told me to sod off as I was nosing it. This 18 year old, at 46%abv, has improved recently and Karen finds it chewy. I found rich fruit and sherry with wedding cake and it was a fine benchmark to measure the other whiskies with.

Bruce at Glendronach with Andy Eliis

A UK exclusive 1995, cask 3326, at 55%abv had been matured in a Pedro Ximenez (PX) cask making it taste sweet and velvety. 21 year old Oloroso cask 39, at 58.8% needed time to breathe and reveal thick treacle and coffee. A 2002 distillery exclusive, at 56.5%abv, had been matured in a first fill PX puncheon. Surprisingly light, it had hints of syrup, fizzy sweets and sticky toffee pudding. Steve Carr found it rather quiet and not assertive though this was by no means a negative in his view. Karen told us that those who tasted it blind had thought it was much older than 11 years old.

A 1993 oloroso matured, 18 year old at 56.1%abv, smelled and tasted of coffee and dark orange chocolate. A very big dram, it was both thick and chewy. The 1994 ‘Manager's cask' was available to fill by hand, at 58.1%abv. A drop of water revealed coffee again and the charming taste of Fry's orange cream chocolate.

Fill your own at Glendronach



Adelphi Tasting with Antonia Bruce

 After announcing that Adelphi's Ardnamurchan distillery had opened in July 2014, we began with a 1992 Longmorn, at 53.6%abv, that smelled like fruit salad chew bars while Mark Watt found honey and cereal breakfast bars. The whisky had both bourbon and sherry characteristics, leading me to ponder if it had been re-racked. Vanilla and cereal notes were present throughout this tremendous whisky.

Antonia Bruce

The latest ‘Fascadale' release, at 46%abv, is a 14 year old Highland Park consisting of 2 bourbon casks and 1 sherry cask. Writer Charles Maclean gets red pippin apples and highland fudge while I found fizzy sherbet, apples and mints. Sitting beside me, Christian from Norway said that water revealed a lot of vanilla. On the palate, I got something between apple sauce and apple crumble together with shortbread and concluded that this would make a fine session whisky.

A 1993 Glen Garioch, at 59%abv, had come from a first fill sherry butt. Antonia got spice and ginger notes from the nose while the consensus between Christian and myself was one of orange, marmalade and chocolate. 2007 Glenrothes, at 66.7%abv, led Antonia to describe it as being like a mad peanut butter sandwich though Mark Watt asked the reasonable question: ‘is there a sensible peanut butter sandwich?' This was a big and punchy dram with no obvious youthfulness discernible and water opened it to give creamy sweetness while Christian detected chocolate.

Our 2000 Ardmore, at 55.6%abv, had subtle highland peat throughout. It smelled of smoked cheese with hints of ham while it tasted of sweet smoke. Christian found vanilla, lemon zest and sugar.

Vicky and Antonia


Later, at the Tannochbrae gala dinner, most of these whiskies reappeared alongside a 1990 Bladnoch, at 59.3%abv. With this lowland distillery unlikely to produce again, this was a timely chance to taste a well-aged lowland whisky and it put me in mind of what Auchentoshan Valinch might be like if it was allowed to mature for at least one more decade.  The whisky had been matured in a refill bourbon cask and tasted of butter on white bread with obvious notes of bourbon and spice.


Berry Brothers and Rudd,

After recovering from a bucket of 23 year old Kininvie, I returned in time for Jonny MacMillan to guide us through the best of Berry Brothers and Rudd (BBR). He began with a slide comparing a single cask BBR bottling with a thinly disguised bottle of ‘Isle of Dalmorecairn' with the former being unchilfiltered and coloured and the latter not. (Each whisky is 46%abv, if not strength is not otherwise indicated). Jonny recommends rolling your glass with the whisky in it to make it look like you know what you are doing and said that the whiskies had been poured some 30 minutes previously, allowing them to breath.

Mike and Jonny

As we had a 1995 Caperdonich, Jonny showed a slide of the ‘picturesque' distillery using a photo taken by Mark Watt of the rubble left after demolition. This whisky had vanilla and Parma violets on the nose and tasted of light honey and fruit syrup. 1999 Linkwood, from a refill bourbon cask, was grassy and floral with lemons and delicate sweetness. Apparently, Linkwood is Gaelic for ‘Distillery in Elgin'.

As a historical aside, Jonny showed us a picture of a 1909 company document, written before Rudd had joined the business.  During the prohibition era, BBR had moved enough whisky through the Bahamas to give each person in the islands 8 bottles a day, although it must be taken into account that Mark Watt didn't live there at the time or the number would have been considerably reduced.

A 1998 Ben Nevis – Gaelic for ‘Fairly High Mountain' – had been matured in a refill bourbon cask. The nose was slightly astringent with malt and aniseed and it tasted of warm vanilla sauce. Water lightened it considerably and it had all the qualities of a fine session whisky. A 1991 Glencadam, at 53.8%abv, led Jonny to say that the name is Gaelic for ‘Glencadam' but I angrily disputed this, insisting it is Gaelic for ‘Tight up beside a football pitch'. Appropriately for a component whisky of ‘Stewart's Cream of the Barley', it had notes of both vanilla and cream throughout with Christian getting shortbread and pears.

The Glencadam had apparently been extremely popular with a writer who shall remain unnamed but, for the purpose of this report, will be referred to as ‘Pretentious, dopey, self-important twonk'.  Playing a musical tribute to Twonk, Jonny hailed him as our lord and savior and he and I decided it was best not to mention the name of the song either, just to be safe.

A 1997 Clynelish – Gaelic for ‘North Highland Waxy Whisky' – was 55.4%abv. By this time, my ability to pick out flavours, apart from sweetness and waxiness, had collapsed but this was indeed classic, bourbon cask matured Clynelish and the reader is recommended to by the 14 year old distillery bottle for a benchmark and compare the two. With time running short, I headed out after tasting a bonus dram of the delicious ‘Paul John' peated Indian whisky where the angel's share is some 22%.

Berry Brothers tasting - Hiro's pic


Antipodean Wildlife and High Visibility at Benromach Distillery

Sunday morning brought us to Benromach where Susan Colville was delighted to meet old friend Brett the Kiwi and new friend Bruce the wallaby. After watching a promotional DVD narrated by Michael Urquhart, we headed round the distillery, built in 1898 and then closed and gutted by previous owners Diageo in 1983, leaving behind only the buildings and the water supply.

Malting was carried out at the distillery until the mid-1960's, symptomatic of most of the industry. Benromach uses a combination of both brewer's and distillers yeast, making it virtually unique in Scotland. This is believed to give richness to the flavour at this manual distillery where almost nothing is automated with no pressure or temperature gauges and the spirit hand-filled into first fill bourbon and sherry casks.

Despite there not being production on Sunday, Susan donned her Hi Vis jacket for our tour and told us that Benromach and nearby Dallas Dhu, closed in 1983, were built as mirror images of each other by Charles Doig. While Dallas Dhu has been preserved with replica equipment, Benromach has changed considerably. Pagoda roofs were removed at the same time as malting was ceased on the premises.

Benromach tour

Malt from Inverness is peated to between 10 and 12 ppm while the ‘Organic' expression uses no peat and the ‘Peat Smoke' has as much peat as can be fitted into the barley. 13 tons of malt are used per week with 1.5 tons used per mash. One man is on each shift with almost the entire distillery fitted into one room as the new distillery is a small fraction of the size of the old one which Susan reckons could make almost 2 million litres per year, about the same size as the popular Glen Moray, a few miles away.

Fermentation can take 48, 72 or 120 hours with the longer fermentation adding nuttiness. Cloudy wort means that the washbacks do not require switchers. Spirit cutting is also done by hand. Old stock is held at Elgin while post 1998 stock is held on site. Benromach made 135000 litres in 2013 and is on course to make 250000 in 2014. 40 percent of spirit is filled into Jim Beam bourbon casks with the rest filled into Jerez sherry casks, not counting the numerous small batch experiments in progress and the ‘Organic' which is filled into certified organic Missouri oak. After a cleanout, the Organic's spirit is made in January and 100 casks are filled per year while the same number of ‘Peat Smoke' casks are filled in December.

The ageing warehouse will be knocked down then rebuilt and expanded though it does contain the historic 2006 cask that has the millionth litre produced by G&M. Benromach is exported to 42 countries, a remarkable feat for such a distillery of this size. In the pipeline is a 15 year old, stocks permitting.

Susan with Bruce the Wallaby

Our tasting began with the newly packaged ‘Organic', at 43%abv. This uses organic barley from Mulben, in Banffshire, and the nose had soft bourbon with warm toast and butter and a big, punchy, fruity taste. Susan prefers Benromach from bourbon casks, believing it shows the distillery character and our sample of the fill-your-own, at 61.9%abv, had a light, floral nose, tasting of vanilla, honey and cream.

By contrast, the Oloroso cask sample, at 57.6%abv, was sweet and surprisingly light, not being a Benromach A'bunadh or 105. It was improved by adding the bourbon cask sample to it.
After another taste of the flagship 10 year old, we tasted the 30 year old, at 43%abv, which is currently 34 years old, in fact, and a fine sample of the old distillery's product. Matured in first fill and refill casks, this was a luxurious evening whisky with a notably fruity taste. After that, there was a taste of history in the form of the 1976 vintage, bottled in 2012 at 46%abv. Light and creamy, this was a subtle dram.

Finally, the ‘current ‘Peat smoke', at 46%abv, had used barley with 67ppm phenol, in contrast to Diageo's Benromach that used no peat at all. There was smoke, salt and peat on the nose though the taste was much lighter than the level of peat would lead one to expect. There was the taste of delicate salted, smoked fish to finish with. With that, Susan removed her Hi Vis vest and promptly became invisible. (Rumour has it that she and her beloved Amazonian tree frogs had run off with Bruce the wallaby).

Benromach distillery shop

Morrison and Mackay Whiskies with Peter Mackay

The ‘Old Perth' blended malt whisky from Morrison and Mackay (M&M) is currently on its third batch. In our glasses, however, was the first batch, at 43%abv. There was cereal and malt on the nose with smooth citrus tastes and the lemon from a lemon meringue pie to finish. As we were tasting, Peter told us that the core of this particular blend will always be Aultmore, matured in bourbon casks.

5 seconds later, the wind changed and they were stuck like that

The first of four ‘Strictly Limited' releases, all at 46%abv, was a 1995 ‘Westport', taken from two bourbon casks. Westport is mostly from a highland distillery in a glen of tranquility with an added teaspoon of whisky from a distillery in Elgin. This had peaches in syrup and cream on the nose with a mellow citrus taste and lemon curd on the finish.

Also from 2 casks was a 17 year old Benrinnes that Peter thought was the best of the range bottled this year. A dram worth spending considerable time on, it had syrup and warm golden honey on the nose with vanilla and delicate, light bourbon in the middle. Rolling this on the tongue gave a long, spicy finish. As we tasted, Peter paid tribute to Mike Lord's generosity ‘coming out in spades', just like a combination of Motorhead and the Village People, I guess.

A 1995 Speyside had fudge and wedding cake aromas while Peter described it as ‘Snickers in a glass' and ‘a whisky for Germans'. Tasting, I found nuts and chocolate on the taste with some bitter oranges to finish.

A 1988 Celebration of the Cask Linkwood, at 50.7%abv, had been matured in a bourbon cask with three months finishing in Oloroso sherry. This whisky had two sister casks, bottled circa 2011/12, one of which tasted like millionaire shortbread. A chewy and sweet dram, I found it deliciously well balanced.
Interestingly, before finishing, Peter told us that the Linkwood was paler in colour than our final whisky, a 1997 Ledaig. This had a minty nose with toffee and smoke but was milder to taste, with biscuits and fruit present. Unlike the younger Ledaig available from Morrison and Mackay, this was more like a peaty Highland or Speyside whisky than one from Islay.

Peter Mackay

An evening with Robin Laing

Robin's back catalogue is reviewed in previous reports and, in addition, he played a number of new tracks, including one about Bannockburn, one called ‘Whisky Cathedral' and another entitled ‘Black Rose'. His whiskies for the evening were the Bruichladdich ‘Scottish Barley', at 50%abv, 1989 ‘Images of Dufftown' from ‘Malts of Scotland', at 53.2%abv, Port Charlotte Scottish Barley, Benromach Peat Smoke, Benriach 15 Tawny port finish, reviewed in previous reports, and the UK exclusive 1995 Glendronach PX cask, at 52.5%abv. Interestingly, compared to the Port Charlotte, the Benromach tasted lighter, despite a higher level of peat in the barley. Robin is particularly fond of the Bruichladdich ‘Scottish Barley', as am I. Despite no peat, this is a big, effervescent dram with spice and sweetness in balance throughout. The Glendronach tasted of burnt fruitcake, raisins and toffee and, again, Robin is a big fan.

A thought-provoker for the evening was Robin's suggestion that limbo dancing in a kilt should be made an Olympic sport – he reckons it is guaranteed TV time.

As usual, highlights from Robin's performance are available on both Facebook and www.youtube.com.

Robin and his whiskies


I was there at Balvenie Distillery

At Balvenie, David Mair took us round. Most of the process has been covered extensively in the reports for the autumn festival of 2010 and the spring festival of 2013 and, this time, the maltings was under repair and out of bounds. David told us that it produces between 10 and 15 percent of the malt needed. A small amount of peat is used on site and, indeed, the distillery produces peated spirit for 10 days out of the year though no bottling date is indicated yet for the whisky.

Balvenie uses different water than nearby sister distillery Glenfiddich uses although the mineral content of the water does not differ. Steeping tanks were added in 1928 and are currently in the process of being replaced, at the time of writing. Interestingly, the original stills had come from Lagavulin and Glen Albyn distilleries. These were sold and the distillery changed to one still shape though David didn't know which. Unusually, all the stills are the same shape at Balvenie.

David Mair of Balvenie

The reader is recommended to join the ‘Warehouse 24' club online for free and tours must be booked by contacting the distillery directly with a limited number of places available per tour. In the aforementioned warehouse, there are 3 casks available for to taste and bottle 200 ml of: first-fill bourbon, refill bourbon and first-fill sherry. These were soft and creamy, tasted of banana and honey and of rich wedding cake, respectively. Also available are a 1974 refill bourbon cask and a 1982 sherry cask. The old Tun 1401 is gone, replaced by the 8000 litre capacity Tun 1509. Each batch of this is compiled by malt master David Stewart and consists of 42 casks of between 21 and 40 years of age. Marrying takes 3 months.

Our vertical began with the widely available ‘Doublewood' 12 year old, the distillery's biggest selling bottling. After that, we had the 14 year old ‘Caribbean Cask', at 43%abv, reviewed in the spring 2013 report. A drop of water opens this to reveal fudge and rum and raisin ice cream. A new addition to the range is the 15 year old ‘Single Sherry Barrel', at a standard 47.8%abv. Each chosen barrel yields no more than 650 bottles and the whisky has a big punch of raisins, plums and wedding cake. David recommends a single drop of water with this one.

The 17 year old ‘Doublewood', at 43%abv, is available in a miniatures pack with the 12 year old and the ‘Caribbean cask'. Reviewed in spring 2013 as well, I found fizzy sherbet this time around. The 21 year old Port Wood finish was extensively reviewed in my autumn 2008 report and is a fine accompaniment to a serving of cheese after dinner.

The last 3 whiskies were batch 1 of the Tun 1509, at 47.1%abv, and samples from the 1974 and 1982 casks mentioned earlier. The first of these sold out very quickly on release and all 3 were completely beyond my ability to describe, in a short space of time and we were pushed for time by then. However, for a relatively small outlay, readers of this report can book a tour and taste these whiskies, each of which constitute an ‘I was there' moment. Also, be sure to bring a glass or a small cup for best results.

Moist Von Lipwig at Balvenie


 Graham Dunnet of Douglas Laing

 Making his debut in Dufftown was Islay man Graham Dunnet who was standing in for the absent Jan Beckers. Jan, it turned out, had headed to London where, ever the practical joker, he persuaded the mayor that it would be a brilliant wheeze to stand up at his party's conference with a brick. (Jan is reported to have purred at the success of this little jape.)

Graham Dunnet photographs the audience

At 46.8%abv, the newly released ‘Timorous Beastie' was a blend of highland malts from Glengoyne, Glen Garioch, Dalmore and Blair Athol. This whisky sparked a frenzy of comments from my table and elsewhere in the hall. I found lime citrus on the nose while Graham got barley sugar and Danny got green apples, something that Graham believes is an indicator of young whisky. Snorre found toffee and caramel while I got shortbread notes on the taste. The finish had spice, apple crumble and apple sauce with the addition of water making it minty. An exceptionally pale and delicious Provenance Mortlach, at 46%abv, smelled of shortbread and tasted of caramel shortcake with some light vanilla and peaches.

An ‘Old Particular' (OP) 15 year old Benrinnes, at 48.4%abv, smelled of peaches and fruit salad chew bars, tasting of bourbon and vanilla. Snorre found raspberries in this one while Leif, his countryman, found plum jam and Pat Lunn tasted salted kippers. An OP 1997 Glenrothes, at 56.4%abv, from a refill hogshead had notes of bourbon while Graham got maltiness, Neil Simpson found cereal and a lady in the audience detected marzipan. I also tasted boiled sweets with water making it revealing mint and a creamy finish.

1989 Clan Denny Strathclyde grain whisky, at 56.2%abv, had an aroma of soft, sweet vanilla with Graham getting muscovado sugar. Neil found banana flavours on the addition of water while I tasted caramel milk chocolate. Graham believes that grain whisky is ideal for the summer and I will test this out the next time that Scotland has a summer as we don't have one every year. We ended with an 8 year old Provenance Laphroaig, at 46%abv. A huge dram with a very punch, it was quelled with a drop of water. It tasted of salt, peat and smoked fish with sweetness appearing in time. The finish was long and elegant and the reader is recommended to compare it to the widely available ‘Quarter Cask' official bottling.

Graham asked what was the audience's favourite and the smooth, luxurious Strathclyde won hands down.


Cadenhead's tasting with Mark Watt-Glenlivet

Unlike me, Mark Watt does not have a leg to stand on when the foot's on the other hand and those who have seen him legless confirm this is true. Introducing, Mike Lord said that Mark has pushed back the boundaries of good sense. With that, our first whisky was a 24 year old ‘Small Batch' Miltonduff-Glenlivet, at 55.3%abv, taken from 2 hogsheads. This was fresh, juicy and creamy and led Mark to declare that the whole point of an independent bottler is to give you something unusual. He believes this to be a fine session whisky or ‘report-writing' whisky. I found the taste of digestive biscuits with lemon meringue pie though Mark agreed with me that, despite the quality of the whisky, it is difficult to write about.

Mark Watt-Glenlivet

Mark says he warms up in the morning with whisky, reasoning that you wouldn't run without warming up. His ‘Creations' 17 year old blended whisky contained 1977 Caperdonich with other whisky from Ardmore, Clynelish, Invergordon and Auchroisk. Stephen Lunn thought it had way too much Clynelish and Mark reckoned that was the best insult ever. Strangely enough, the previous Miltonduff could have been added to this without changing the character as the blend is delicate, creamy and sweet with lemon meringue pie. As a bonus, we had a cask sample of the Invergordon grain whisky that had been a component of the blend.

As an aside, Mark told us that the Benriach 10 year old had made him cry as he had accidentally poured it in his eye, a drink problem also suffered by Ted Striker in ‘Airplane'. In another aside, Mark said his company likes to add the suffix of Glenlivet to a number of distilleries as these distilleries had done so themselves in previous decades to cash in on the name of the first licensed Scotch whisky distillery despite being miles away from both the distillery and the valley in question.

Re-appearing from May was the 23 year old Aberlour-Glenlivet, at 54.9%abv, had been taken from 2 hogsheads. As we tasted, Mark said Cadenhead's bottle bourbon and received a two-fingered salute from one audience member for that. Parent Company J and A Mitchell are the second biggest employer in Campbeltown after the local council though the council does less.

A 1985 Glenburgie should be bottled soon as a single cask release, at 57.3%abv, and it tasted of orange cream and blood orange chocolate. (Yes, this chocolate is available to buy.) Mark also said he thought the 80's were coming back again though perhaps could have lived without me telling him I would play Van Halen to him again. A 1995 Speyside-Glenlivet, taken from a refill butt and a first fill butt, led Snorre to declare it was the best from the distillery he'd had. At 62.8%abv, this was a beast of a whisky though one commentator believed that water gave it an easy-drinking character. The session became steadily more boisterous, despite no Aberdonians being present, and I tasted wine and cereal on this whisky. Mark told a story of having teeth done, which brought pictures of Richard Hammond to mind, and another of the time he was invited back to a cellar to watch a DVD of himself in action. (He declined).

A cask sample of 2001 Bowmore, from 2 refill barrels, had mint and smoky notes to it and had the character of a highland whisky, rather than one from Islay. Mark thinks that Bowmore's spirit distilled between 1999 and 2001 will be as highly regarded in 2030 as Black Bowmore is today.


At the end of the festival, an honourable mention must go to Alan's Tannochbrae warm-up blending of the Aberlour 10 and Monkey Shoulder which was delicious and all credit to him for spraying whisky on Robin's tongue as he sang about ‘Whisky for Breakfast', the title track of his current album.

The WSD drams party saw Mike announce that Hankey Bannister Heritage had been a clear winner of the blind blends tasting while Aberlour 15 had tied with Glendronach 18 as the best whisky to pair with haggis and that Singleton of Dufftown ‘Sunray' had been the popular choice to go with bacon.

With that, I'd like to thank everyone involved in organizing and running the festival and, in particular, Mike Lord and his wife Val, Vicky and Kirsten at the Whisky Shop, Warren, Gemma and the rest of the crew, Claus for the proofreading, Steve Oliver, the Tannochbrae, the Coffee Pot café, Hiro for the bucket of Kininvie and the photo, Steve and Annie for the Balvenie distillery picture.

I'm off to join a club with a really thick layer of chocolate, those are the best, and I hope to see all of you again at the spring festival.