..Category Archives: Lady of the Drams

Vicky’s Whisky Journey

Dalwhinnie - To be Twinned with Clynelish?

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Recently Mike visited the beautiful distillery of Dalwhinnie in the snow and very thoughtfully brought back some samples for me to try and for us both to write tasting notes on. Quite a few of the samples reminded me of the Clynelish house style as you will see below.

Mike had a great informal tour of the distillery.  It had been a while since he had been round and he was surprised to be reminded how small the facility is.  It is well worth a visit and the Visitor Center is great with a cracking selection of tastings to have after your tour.  All paired with fabulous Highland Chocolatier delights.

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One cold, dark winters night by lamplight in the middle of nowhere, here's how we got on with our tasting:

15 Years Old

Nose: Hints of maple and sherry wood mingle together. Sweet wood and mushroom risotto becomes pineapple and pears in a wooden bowl.

Taste: Candy sweetness. Oak sawdust spiced pineapple chunks, becomes clementine liqueur. Macerated opal fruits with a touch of wax.

Distillers Edition

Nose: Pineapple in orange juice with oak sprinkles, becomes cinnamon spiced Granny Smith's apples.

Taste: Spiced creaminess with hints of peppered raisins. A touch of burnt toffee. Christmas oranges

25 Years Old

Nose: Orange scented candles with white pepper. Warm sweet coconut oil and warm pine needles. Becomes tinned tropical fruits with more white pepper.

Taste: Warm pineapple rings with cracked pepper. Midori. Wood spice and powdered ginger.

Distillery Only Bottling

Nose: Spiced banana with toffee sauce, becomes more tropical fruits - pineapple, mango and then chocolate toffee orange.

Taste: Creamy and fresh. Clean vanilla lime and creme brulee. Just really, really nice orange liqueur.

Single Cask

Nose: Pine fresh. Damp sawdust. Clear varnish. Liquorice and menthol on the breeze. Fennel and wooden raisins.

Taste: Very clean spice with a hint of toffee. Peppered wax and ripe bananas.



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The WSD Gin Palace

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Well we have given in to the Gin craze that seems to be sweeping the planet at the moment. Not that we're complaining we love gin and there seems to be a new one appearing every week. Woohhooo. So we have given a corner of the shop over to the WSD Gin Palace and it is fast filling up and the shelves bowing.

Whenever we receive a new gin I will endeavour to publish our tasting notes and any other helpful information we can find out for you. So without further ado here's the first one.

Porters Gin. 41.5% abv. Made in Aberdeen.

The botanicals used to create this gin are: Juniper, angelica, almond, coriander, liquorice, lemon, orange, buddha's hand, pink peppercorn, orris root, cassia bark and cinnamon.

On the nose the juniper comes through immediately followed by orange peel, lemon zest a touch of aniseed and fresh lime. With Fever Tree tonic water it is fresh and clean, with freshly squeezed lime juice,cooking apples and dried orange skin.

On the palate it is fresh with a slight touch of bark, closely followed by grapefruit skin, mint, liquorice and lime zest. With tonic fresh green apple skins, pink grapefruit and soft refreshing citrus which cleanses your mouth.

A real easy drinking session gin and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

 

 

Lady Of The Drams - A Quick Update

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Well what a year it has been so far for all of us here at The Whisky Shop Dufftown.

In January the shop was refurbished with a new floor and a new desk made from casks and staves. Many have said the new floor actually makes the shop look bigger, so come along and see what you think.

In February we celebrated Mike owning the shop for 10 years and we will continue to celebrate this throughout the rest of the year so keep your eyes peeled for special releases and events. We celebrated in February by launching our own, special recipe beer with the help of our good friend David from Spey Valley Brewery and also a 9 years old Celebration of the Cask Craigellachie single malt whisky which was distilled in 2006, the same year Mike bought the shop. This was bottled by some more good friends of ours, Morrison & MacKay, and Mike and I were lucky enough to go down to their premises and see it actually being bottled and labelled.

We have also employed another member of staff, my daughter Kat, who has a great nose and pallet and brings the element and views of the younger generation of which the whisky industry are keen to encourage to appreciate and drink whisky. It also means Mike and I will have more time to write our blogs. Sorry about that!

Then at the end of April came the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. This was a big success with lots of our tastings sold out before the Festival had even started. As always there were somegreat new bottlings from the independent bottlers of which we only have a few left. (more on this in my next report).

More recently (this week in fact) Kat and I had a tour around Balvenie Distillery with the great David Mair. The tour was brilliant with David explaining everything with enthusiasm and love for the whisky they produce there. One of the things which made the Balvenie tour stand out from the others, for me, is that they have everything there on site from the malting, through the distillation process to the cooperage where you can watch the guys repairing and prepairing the casks ready for use. After touring the distillery we visited the warehouse which used to be the cellar of a big stately home, where visitors can bottle their own 20cl from a choice of 3 different casks. Kat was very excited about this and tried to convince me that bottling one was also part of her training (yeah right) so being the softie I am I let her and this made her day even more special. David then took us back to the tasting room where we were treated to 5 whiskies plus a special whisky from 1974 which was just for ‘Warehouse 24' members which I am lucky to be part of. The other whiskies were the 12 years old Double wood, the 12 years old single barrel, the 17 years old double wood, the 21 years old port cask finish and the Balvenie 30 years old – what a treat! It was great to be able to taste the 2 double wood's side by side and compare them. Both Kat and I found the 17 years old to be smoother and more complex than the 12 but I won't go into any tasting notes as Kat is going to cover that in her post.

Also this week Caorunn Gin Distillery, based at  Balmenach Distillery, opened its doors and started doing tours, so this being too good an opportunity to miss, Mike and I went along. On arrival we were taken into a small bothy which serves as their tasting room where we watched a short video (about 3 minutes) about Simon our guide and gin distiller and about how to prepare the perfect Caorunn and tonic. Apparently this involves adding red apples – hhmm we'll see.  Battling the midges (yes it was a warm day in Scotland) we proceeded to the part of Balmenach where the gin distillery is housed. Simon explained the whole gin making process and told us how he collects some of the botanicals himself from the surrounding hills while they are waiting for their own botanical garden to mature. They have even had a local artist draw the distillation process on the wall of the distillery. We were then taken through a deconstruction of the gin, all the botanicals used were in jars on a table and we were asked to nose the botanicals then nose the neat gin and see if we could pick out that particular botanical. We then plotted this on a chart and after we had done this for all 11 botanicals came the taste test. We went round the botanicals again, this time spraying them from an atomiser onto a piece of paper and tasting the neat gin to see if we could pick out the flavours. It was amazing how once you smell the botanical you can taste it much better. This again was plotted onto a chart and when we had all finished we went back to the bothy for a taste of the Caorunn with tonic and red apple. It actually worked, with the apple bringing a fresh fruity flavour to the gin and bringing some of the flavours out, as apple is one of the botanicals used. The whole experience was great and it was a new and innovative way to help people pick up the botanicals in the gin and how they complement each other.

So, all in all it has been a great start to the year and let's hope it continues for the rest of the year.

Slainte.

Lady of the Dram's Christmas Cognac's

This entry was posted in Blog, Lady of the Drams, New Whisky Releases and Bottlings on by .

Hi Everyone,

Last week we received some fantastic Cognac's courtesy of The Great Whisky Company, which I think will make perfect after Christmas dinner drinks. Just imagine you are sitting by the fire, belly full of turkey (or nut roast for the vegetarians amongst us), happy and content, with a very fine cognac in your hand. What a perfect way to finish the day. All these are at 40% abv and in 20cl bottles. Great value for money they would also make great stocking fillers.

The first one is Chateau DeTriac Reserve De La Famille. This is what I would call their starter cognac. On the nose I initially got melted caramac bars, sweet sherry and dark morello cherries steeped in well aged rum and Demerara sugar. Following on was fresh Simnel cake covered in apricot conserve and marzipan.

The palate brought sweet caramel, burnt sugar (still Demerara) and baked oranges. This developed into well baked fruit cake with cherries and candied peel. A great way to start the evening.

The next one I tried was Tiffon Tres Vieille Reserve Fins Bois.  This one was a tad deeper and richer than the first and is 60 to 70 years old. The nose gave up an old mahogany chest of drawers, fig pudding and steamed Christmas pudding. As strange as it may sound it had a very ‘deep' nose.

The palate was rich and warming with baked figs in syrup, and spicy marmalade on a fresh, warm panettone.

The final cognac is Tiffon Tres Vieille Reserve Grande Champagne aged between 80 to 100 years old and is definitely my favourite. The nose was silky smooth and rich with raisins and sultanas, dark plums and cherries. A sumptuous black forest gateaux.

The palate gives you an initial firey hit but this quickly fades out to smooth Galaxy chocolate (other chocolates are available) with a sprinkling of light spices on top. It caresses the mouth and as it travels down feels luxurious and definitely moreish. Warm nights on a tropical beach.

So as you may be able to tell I am a big fan of these new Cognacs, especially as I am not usually a cognac drinker but these will definitely be at my Christmas table for while the kids are doing the washing up!

Lady of The Dram's Visits Twitter

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Hello All,

Firstly I apologise again for not posting sooner but things have been hectic since the Festival and on the run up to Christmas.

At the end of November Mike was invited to take part in a Twitter Tasting by Allied Glass and asked if I would like to sit in on it with him. Obviously I jumped at the chance having never done one before and being intrigued to see how it would work out. The people taking part had been sent a tasting set with tasting notes and hash tag details for the twitter account.

Kicking it off was the aptly named,  Raasay While we wait.  At 46% abv this single malt consisted of both peated and unpeated whiskies finished in French oak Tuscan wine casks from 3 different vineyards. The nose was quite sweet wafting honeysuckle, ripe pears, quince jelly and rose petal perfume. The palate quite different though – spicy to start with wisps of smoke blowing on the breeze, soft summer fruits in the background which turn to tropical fruits after a short while. Oranges infused with cinnamon then lead to a spiced liquorice finish which is warming all the way down.  As everybody involved picked out the different notes and tastes they tweeted what they thought. It was working , this tweeting lark.

The next whisky was Benriach 16 years old at 43% abv. While I have tasted this whisky before I got quite different notes this time. On the nose it started out as freshly laundered bed linen turning to dark cherries in a wooden bowl, Kirsch maybe, fading to marzipan in sweet desiccated coconut. The palate gave out spiced mango, milk chocolate bounty bars with a touch of gooseberry jam. A sharp, sweet taste, with a medium length finish, warming and lightly spiced. Mike added his, and some of my tasting notes and it was great to see everybody else adding theirs as they went along.

Loch Lomond Original at 40% abv was quite different to how I had imagined it would be. On the nose, a mixture of linseed oil with smoked sausage, tinned pineapple and winter jasmine giving a slight nose prickle and a touch of pernod. The palate was spiced tropical fruits,  with a sharp lime zest twist and cloves, spiced key lime pie and rapeseed plants in the summer. The tweets were flowing thick and fast now and I don't know how Mike kept up to them.

Last but one, Tomatin Legacy, 43%abv. The nose was very floral like a spring garden. Melted butter on freshly toasted croissants, blanched almonds with a jelly baby sweetness. Bitter lemons on the palate and burnt crumpets with warm all spice, liquorice and pink peppercorns leading to a spicy, waxy finish, slightly mouth drying. It was brilliant, the way everyone involved was comparing and tweeting their notes for each whisky and you could read everyone else's thoughts on them.

The final whisky was Old Pulteney 12 years old, 40%abv.The nose brought to mind salted bourbon biscuits, floral air fresheners with a slight hint of peanut butter on salted caramel chocolate bars. The palate was spicier than the nose with flavours of mackerel in brine and spiced lychees. Sitting on the beach in Autumn.

Well that was the end of the tweet tasting and I have to admit it was a fun, fascinating and slightly quircky way of doing a whisky tasting.  I can see it taking off though and becoming more popular in the whisky community. It's a great way of comparing notes and of reading somebody else's notes and thinking ‘oh yeah I get that taste as well'. So, if you ever get the chance to join in on one, go ahead, you'll have a great night tasting good whiskies and meeting great people.

Until next time, Sliante

Lady of the Drams.

Lady of the Dram's Festival Highlights

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Our very own Lady of the Dram's reviews The Whisky Shop Dufftown Autumn Festival 2015

Firstly I apologise for not posting sooner but things have been very hectic here one way and another.

The Whisky Shop Dufftown Autumn Festival 2015 was another great success this year. It was great to see all our regulars and all the new faces, of which there were a lot, enjoying themselves. Here are some of the highlights of the festival for me.

On Thursday Mike kicked the festival off with his Big Dram tasting which was well attended and the whiskies well received.  The first drop was drunk.

Friday saw a couple of new events, the Half ‘n' half Tasting during the afternoon followed by a cocktail masterclass at The Dowans. For the half n half we saw Mark from the Old Worthy Brewing Co team up with Robert Ransom from Angel's Nectar. Mark is very passionate about his beers and has taken great care when choosing which whiskies to pair them with. Robert is also very proud of the Angel's Nectar and Strane Gin (a great gin from Sweden). The pairings were very well matched each bringing some different flavours out in the other. The cocktail class was a huge success with the crazy Murray sisters entertaining us all with their anecdotes and sisterly jibes at each other. It was also really good to see quite a few newcomers to this event having the time of their life. They were all crazy so obviously become good friends of The Whisky Shop Dufftown. Fab cocktails were plentiful and it was announced to the group that my daughter had actually won the cocktail competition which had taken place earlier in the week (that's the last time I remind her to enter an event)

Saturday came and Antonia from Adelphi brought some great new whiskies, my favourite being the Invergordon 43 years old which had an amazing taste of milk chocolate bounty bars (knowing my taste, probably the most expensive of the bunch). Mike followed, looking very dashing in full kilt, continuing on his quest for Dufftown to become a recognised independent Whisky region.  The audience were treated to some great Dufftown whiskies and entertained by Mike's presentation which included a few of his friends as you have never seen them before. In the evening we were back to the Dowans for some whisky dining. The food was, as always, fantastic and everyone seemed to enjoy the whiskies Mike and I had carefully chosen to compliment the courses. All went home feeling well fed and content and ready for a good nights sleep.

Sunday and it was my turn. David MacDonald (Spey Valley Brewery) and I hosted our beer, whisky and food tasting. This time from the 1980's complete with fancy dress, oh yes I'm afraid so, David metamorphed into Michael Jackson and I was complete with rainbow wig (which Mike took a liking too as it was the first time he'd had hair that long) and many coloured accessories (I'm sure there are many photos kicking around on various sites). For those in the audience that we didn't scare away they reminisced with us over the food and the music and were even given sweeties for being good. Peter from Morrison & MacKay followed and I'm not sure how they get their casks but they really are bringing some amazing whiskies to The Whisky Shop Dufftown.

The final day and not only did this bring another new tasting but a new presenter. Richard Urquhat from Gordon & Macphail held a vertical Benromach tasting. Whilst Richard may be used to more cosmopolitan audiences and sunnier climates he was a fountain of knowledge and passionate about the whiskies and the new packaging the distillery now has. Watch out Mike P you may have your slot stolen. The new addition was Compass Box presented by Herman. I have never been in a tasting where the presenter is so excited and enthusiastic about the products that he actually forgot to taste the whiskies he was talking about. Compass Box seem to be really trying to grab people's attention and get themselves out there with whisky enthusiasts everywhere. The Drams party was the final event of the night and as always it was a fantastic end to the festival. Many whiskies were drunk, prizes given and to my shock, delight and amazement Mike presented me with a brand new guitar from himself and Val for my 5 year anniversary of working for them. They may be sorry.

Well that's just some of my festival highlights, as always the atmosphere was great and the feedback we have had amazing, with many of the new attendees telling us they will be back. Were holding you to that guys. I'll be back soon with notes from some of the events I attended before the festival and news of trips to come.

Happy dramming

Lady of the Drams.

Vicky Duty of The WSD and The Olive Tree

The Secret Tasting

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The Secret Tasting. sshhhh

By The Lady of the Drams

Hello again, this weekend myself and a few select others (erm.. yes we'll stay with select) were invited to a secret whisky tasting, at a secret location, by a secret distillery worker with some secret whiskies.  Needless to say I was very intrigued by this - secretly.  Arriving a few minutes early so we could partake of some alcoholic beverage of the non whisky type (i.e. Peroni – other brands are available) and after initially being banned as soon as we step foot in the place for being ‘trouble' – don't know what they meant, we found the room to be set out ready with 8 whisky glasses for each person on tasting mats with no name or numbers (guess that was a secret too) and only 4 of them had whisky in!  As we started the tasting our host told us the empty glasses were so we could choose which other whiskies we wanted.  Now I should explain here that our host is not a professional speaker, nor a brand ambassador (although that would be quite funny).  He is just a great lover of whisky and has some fantastic tales to tell.  Most of which aren't repeatable.  All the whiskies were at cask strength.

We started our tasting with a blend of 70% malt and 30% grain at around 56% abv.  The nose was very sweet, had light sherry notes and the unmistakeable cereal notes you associate with blends.  The taste was sweet and spicy, with vanilla and cinnamon flavours and heavily soaked raisins.  Unfortunately adding a drop of water killed off the taste even though it made the cereal notes more pronounced.

Whisky number 2 was from a local distillery with a splash of whisky from another local distillery at around 52% abv.  The nose was rather strange as I initially got salted caramel chocolate but then the smell of petrol on your hands after you have filled the car at the petrol station appeared. The taste was better giving floral notes of freshly cut hay, spices, liquorice and toffee.  The spices stayed on the tongue for quite a while after.

Whisky number 3 was from a different local distillery with a teaspoon from another local distillery.  Confused yet?  This sat at around 55% abv.  It would seem our most gracious host was one of the angels taking their angels share, just his wings had fallen off.  The nose on this was more earthy like your garden just after a heavy rain shower, but then light brown sugar and malt loaf crept in. The taste however was rather spicy initially but then gave way to soft melted caramel with a very slight touch of smoke.

Our final pre-poured whisky was from a Speyside distillery and was from a re-racked hogshead which had then been finished in a Pedro Ximinez cask and was distilled in 1995.  Chocolate toffees and tinned fruit cocktail in syrup immediately came to mind for me on the nosing of this one and the taste again was quite different to the nose. The taste was like spiced caramel with pink peppercorns slightly singed and a bit of salt was fighting its way through. A nice chewy dram.

Now for the bottles we could pick from. One in particular had quite a few calling to try it. It was from a distillery near a loch from 1995 at around 68% which is probably why it was so popular.  The nose gave up Thornton's dark toffee (other brands are available), muscovado sugar and burnt oranges. The taste threw me though it was drying and woody with ash notes.  Think I'll just sit and nose this (I didn't pick this one by the way).

This next one, however I did pick, as it was a whisky from 1967 (when I pointed out that this was 6 years before I was born I was asked to leave) from a Speyside distillery.  It had lived in a hogshead and was 40.8%.  The nose was of newly varnished wood, sweet candy bananas, crème caramel and custard (hungry now). The taste on this one didn't let you down either it had vanilla custard mixed with creamy melted toffee.  Just delicious.  I did try to keep the tasting bottle but it was noticed and removed from my reach.

Another one which was a popular choice was from a currently expanding distillery and was distilled in 1989 which is apparently when they produced some of their best whisky.  The nose was sooo good.  Banana toffees with ground almonds and lychees. It was a bit spicier on the tongue than the nose suggested but there was still the creaminess of cream with fresh vanilla pods scraped into it.

The next whisky was from a coastal distillery and was a peated wine cask. The colour was a delicate pink.  The nose gave you sweet peated notes, which was surprising as our host doesn't like peated whisky, with rose petals mashed in a jar like when you used to make rose petal perfume as a child. The taste was of a wood fire ash with the sweetness gently pushing through letting you know it was still there.

The final whisky of the evening before we all fell down was an Islay from 2001. The colour was a darker shade of pink then the previous and had come from one of my favourite casks – Port.  There was very soft smoke on the nose, with soft fruits and heather peat following on while the taste gave out a spicy smoke to start with followed by freshly cooked oranges.  This was both beautiful to look at and to taste.  What a dram to finish on.  I did manage to keep the bottle for a while on this one.

Altogether it was a great evening and we were asked to just donate to the local charity our host supported rather than pay a tasting fee which we were all more than happy to do. We had been given great whiskies that we probably wouldn't normally have got to taste and entertained by some great stories.

 

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A Night Out on the Cobbles

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Sunday nights used to be about sitting at home and relaxing before starting work the next day.  Not anymore – once a month The Drouthy Cobbler, Elgin has a whisky tasting and like the previous tastings, last night was another great hit.

Graham Coull from Glen Moray took the spotlight this time and even after running a half marathon that afternoon (well done Graham) he still managed to entertain us and bring the audience some fabulous and unusual whiskies.  The whiskies we tasted were all cask strength and not yet bottled.

First up was a single cask, 2006 Sauternes Finish.  The nose was so rich and delightful giving promises of freshly cooked Christmas cake and orange and cinnamon. The taste lived up to the nose giving spicy then sweet hits and bringing the cinnamon to the fore. Well baked Christmas fruit cake and a great one to start with.

Next, came a single cask, 2004 Chenin Blanc. This had earthy notes with vanilla and a slight note of spent matches.  The palate was spicy with soaked raisins coming through leading to a drying finish. A very interesting whisky.

The third whisky of the evening was a 2001 Madeira cask finish which had dark fruits soaked in rum and red grapefruit on the nose. The palate firstly brought a sweet hit then spice before the fruit reappeared. Personally I got fruit pastels but Graham said his tasted like ‘adult jam' which, after a few cask strength whiskies, caused many laughs and giggles from the audience.

The final wood finish was a 1998 Port wood.  This one blew me away, an amazing dram of which I will definitely be buying a bottle when it's ready.  Polished mahogany, cream soda and port soaked sultanas on the nose with sweet brown sugar on the palate making me think of warm Caribbean nights.

Before taking a well-earned break Graham then introduced us to the first of the peated whiskies of the evening which was a real surprise.  This was a 1994 21 years old which had spent its first 17 years in a bourbon cask then the following 4 years in an Islay cask from a distillery which Graham wasn't allowed to disclose or he would be gagged and tied to a post on Bowmore pier (covered in adult jam no doubt). The peat was light and gentle and made me hungry for a smoked bacon sandwich, but there were also citrus fruits lurking underneath.

After light refreshments to cleanse our palate (well gin & tonic) we moved onto whisky number 6 which was a 1995 sherry cask Glen Moray finished for 3 years in a peated cask. The peat came through a bit more on this one but it was more of a coal fire ash with a zing of lime in single origin dark chocolate.

The final whisky was a young 2010 for which Glen Moray had peated their own barley (which Graham was obviously very proud of) and started out in an ex-cognac cask then transferred to a sherry cask. The nose on this was of freshly lit fires with a taste of tangy, spicy, smoked meat and an underlying sweetness.

The final surprise of the night was a shot of peated cleric which was around 71% abv.  The nose was of malty cereal and very fruity while the taste offered up tangy, fruity, coal peat and finished the night off very, very well.

PS  Mike came up with the title of this post so don't blame me.

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Morrison & Mackay Latest Carn Mor Bottlings

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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.

Slainte