Tag Archives: Glenfarclas

The Whisky Shop Dufftown Autumn Festival 2016

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TWSDAF 22 to 26 September 2016

WSD Postcard WSADF 2016

Here is our programme as it stands. We are very sorry but everything is not finalised. We want to get the best tours possible and ensure the companies that help us put on the festival have given us their full authority. This can take time and has been particularly difficult this year. The traditional date for the Autumn festival has been the last weekend in September and this always clashes with Whisky Live Paris which takes priority over Speyside although we do not know why. We are now free to choose our own dates for our festival so we will look at a more practical date for 2017. Tickets will go on sale on 17 July at 6pm BST. Click here to buy tickets but only from 17 July!

Thursday 22 September 2016

11:00 to 15:00: Blind Blends (The Shop) -  Our annual competition to find the best blended whisky.  The current champion Adelphi's Glenborrodale (if we can get some) will go up against 4 specially selected challenger which have not been in the competition before.

18:00 to 19:00 The First Drop (St James Hall) -  Mike's traditional opening to the festival with a fun look at some of the new releases from the whisky industry which have caught his interest for good or bad reasons.

Friday 23 September 2016

09:30 to 13:00: Five Generations of Glenfarclas (The Shop) - We travel from The Whisky Shop Dufftown to Glenfarclas Distillery for a guided tour and then to sample 5 Glenfarclas from 5 different decades

11:00 to 15:00: Blind Blends (The Shop)

12:00 to 17:00: In-store tasting with Angels' Nectar - Come to the shop for a free tasting of some great whiskies from this new independent company.

13:30 to 14:45: Masterclass (St James Hall) - Slot currently open.

15:00 to 16:15: Masterclass with Fred Allan of Murray McDavid (St James Hall) - A local character and down right honest bloke, "Fred's Enterprises" will show case some samples from independent bottler Murray MacDavid..

17:00 to 18:15: Materclass with Rick Drysdale of Douglas Laing (St James Hall) - Rick will take you through a selection of the very best of the latest releases from Douglas Laing.

19:30 to 23:15: Whisky Dining at The Dowans Hotel (The Shop) - We travel from The Whisky Shop Dufftown to The Dowans hotel in Aberlour to experience a fabulous dining experience with dishes paired with whisky.  Working in Progress at the moment to get the right unique magic.

 

Saturday 24 September 2016

09:00 to 13:30: Distillery Visit to Glenlivet (The Shop) - We depart from the shop to Glenlivet for a specially arranged event.  We will have a special tour of the distillery and then we stay on for the legendary Legacy Tasting Experience.

10:00 to 10:30: A Bacon Roll and 4 Nips (St James) - Our annual attempt to find the best whisky with a bacon roll.  Arran Lochranza, the current reigning champion will be pitted against 3 specially selected contenders who have not been in the competition before.

11:00 to 15:00: Blind Blends (The Shop)

12:00 to 17:00: In-Store tasting with Spey Craft Brewery (The Shop) - Come along to the shop for a free tasting of the range of beers from this excellent brewery.

12:00 to 12:30: Haggis and 4 Nips (St James) - Yet again we will be trying to find the best dram to go with Haggis.  Neeps and tatties will be around but they are only there for support.  The current reigning champion, Glen Scotia 15 Years Old, will be challenged by 3 specially selected single malts.

13:30 to 14:45: Masterclass (St James Hall) - Slot currently open.

15:30 to 16:45: Masterclass with Antonia Bruce from Adelphi ( St James Hall) -  Antonia will take you through a selection of the very best of the latest release from Adelphi.

17:30 to 18:45:  Masterclass with Mark Watt (probably) from Cadenheads (St James Hall) - Mark will present the latest from the oldest independent bottler in his own inimitable style.

20:00 to 22:00: Bollywood Comes to Dufftown with Vicky Keough of The Whisky Shop Dufftown and David MacDonald of Spey Valley Brewery (St James) - In essence this will be the most extraordinary tasting you will have every been to.  This tasting will pair in sets, whisky and beer and curry in an amazing fusion of flavours.

 

Sunday 25 September 2016

 09:00 to 13:30 - Distillery tour to be confirmed

10:00 to 10:30: A Bacon Roll and 4 Nips (St James) - Our annual attempt to find the best whisky with a bacon roll.  Arran Lochranza, the current reigning champion will be pitted against 3 specially selected contenders who have not been in the competition before.

11:00 to 15:00: Blind Blends (The Shop)

12:00 to 17:00: In-Store Tasting with Wemyss Malts (The Shop) - Come along and try the range of blended whiskies from Wemyss for free.

12:00 to 12:30: Haggis and 4 Nips (St James) - Yet again we will be trying to find the best dram to go with Haggis.  Neeps and tatties will be around but they are only there for support.  The current reigning champion, Glen Scotia 15 Years Old, will be challenged by 3 specially selected single malts.

13:30 to 14:45: Masterclass (St James Hall) - Slot currently open.

15:00 to 16:15: Masterclass: Vintage Speyside with Angus MacRaid (St James) - You may have been to a tasting before with old whiskies but this is different.  This is old whiskies, bottling's of whisky from the past so you can experience how whisky has changed over the decades.

17:30 to 18:45: Masterclass with Jonny MacMillan of Berry Bros & Rudd (St James) - Jonny will take you through the best of the new releases from BBR and a touch more.  Intrigued?  Come along and find out!

20:00 to 21:45:  Music, Songs and Laughter with Robin Laing (St James) - Robin will entertain with his singing and a few good drams.

 

Monday 26 September 2016

09:00 to 13:30: Distillery Tours - One company to confirm week commencing 18 June.

11:00 to 15:00: Blind Blends (The Shop)

12:00 to 17:00: In-store Tasting (TBC week commencing 25 June)

13:30 to 14:45: Masterclass with Alastair Mutch of Tomatin Distillery (St James) - This will be a great opportunity to try a number of expressions from across the Tomatin range.

15:15 to 16:45: Materclass with Lucy Whitehall of Glenturret Distillery (St James) - Lucy will be a long with a selection of whiskies from the new Glen Turret range and a few surprises.

17:30 to 19:00: Masterclass with Peter MacKay of Morrison & Mackay (St James) - Peter will present the a selection of the latest releases from the indepencent bottler Morrison & MacKay

20:00 to 22:00: The Last Drop (The Shop) - The traditional close to the end of the festival with a fine array of odds and end of whiskies from the last six months and a selection from the tasting for you to try. The shop will also be open for purchases.

WSD Postcard WSADF 2016

 

 

The WSD Autumn Festival 2012 Programme

This entry was posted in Blog, Whisky Tastings and Events News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on by .

Here are the details of our events and links to the events of some other event providers.  Click through to book tickets.  Tickets for our events will ONLY be on sale via The Whisky Shop Dufftown website and from the shop but nowhere else.

Balvenie Distillery

Balvenie are hosting a number of special events during the festival.  Contact them direct on 01340 822061 to book your tickets.

Friday 28th September

  • 2pm – 5pm Balvenie Visit: The Coopers' Craft (£50): Tour of Balvenie Maltings, Distillery, Warehouse 24 and 20cl bottling, Cooperage, nosing & tasting of 5 Balvenies from the range. Special focus on the Coopers’ craft – guests will be invited to build their own cask with our Coopers.

Saturday 29th September

  • 10am – 1pm The Balvenie Visit (£25): Visiting Maltings, Distillery, & Warehouse 24. Nosing & Tasting 5 Balvenies from the range (including Tun 1401 batch 5).
  • 2pm – 5pm The Balvenie Visit & Dessert pairings (£75) : Balvenie visit includes: Maltings, Distillery, Warehouse 24 & 20cl bottling, Nosing/tasting of 5 Balvenies from the range, and a pairing with 5 mouth watering desserts from our award winning Chefs!

Sunday 30th September

  • 10am – 1pm and 2pm – 5pm Balvenie Visit - The art and craft of the Coppersmith (£50): Balvenie Coppersmith, Dennis McBain, will take guests through the Coppersmith story and his workshop.  Visit includes: Maltings, Distillery, Warehouse 24 & 20cl bottling, Dennis McBain in his workshop, and Nosing/tasting of 5 Balvenies from the range.

Chivas Brothers

Aberlour, Glenlivet and Strathisla distilleries are putting on a range of exciting events. The additional tours and Connoisseur tours during this Festival weekend are:

The Glenlivet Distillery

  • Spirit of the Malt Tours at 13.00 on Friday 28th, Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th September.

Aberlour Distillery

  • Founder’s Tours at 10.30 on Wednesday 26th, Thursday 27th, Friday 28th and Saturday 29th September

Strathisla Distillery

  • Straight From The Cask at 12.30 on Friday 28th and Sunday 30th September
  • The Ultimate Chivas Experience at 12.30 on Saturday 29th September

Please contact each of the Visitor Centres DIRECT for information and to reserve your place.To find out more click Chivas Brothers.

Glenfarclas

28 September

Glenfarclas distillery will be running their Connoisseur's Tour on 28th September at 2pm (£20).  This the tour for you if few like a more in-depth look at the distilling process.  The host is Ian McWilliam who will be able to answer any of your questions.  For more information and book tickets from Glenfarclas click here.

Glenlivet Hill Trek

Glenlivet Hill Trek will be running their amazing festival tours again this year.  If you have not done one then get yourself booked on one for this festival.

The Smuggles Trail

This tour takes you along The Robbie McPherson smugglers trail for breath taking scenery and wild life.  For more information click here.

The Dram Line

This is an exceptional and unique whisky tasting event along the Speyside Way taking in some great whisky bars along the way.  For more information click here.

Keith Dufftown Railway

The Keith Dufftown Railway are running some special whisky trains during the festival.  Different trains will allow you to visit Glenfiddich, Strathisla and Strathmill distilleries.  For more information click here.

The Royal Oak

The Royal Oak is Dufftown's whisky pubs and is hosting a number of events during the festival.

  • Saturday 29th September 21:30 to 00:30 - Live scottish music from Reelers Rant (Free) and Hogroast (Various).  Hog Roast, live music and plenty of drams at The Royal Oak Dufftown.  Just turn up on the night and pay as you go along.
  • Monday 1st October 21:00 to 23:00 - Live scottish music (Free).  Just turn up.

The Whisky Shop Dufftown Events

Every Day

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Friday 28th September 2012  to Monday 1st October 2012

  • 10:00 - 17:00 - Cafe St James:  Just turn up any time from Friday for light snacks and refreshments.  Click here to see what's available.

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Friday 28th September 2012

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Saturday 29th September 2012

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Sunday 30th September 2012

  • 13:00 (1hr 30 mins) - Whisky Tasting: To be Confirmed

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Monday 1st October 2012

Autumn Speyside Whisky Festival 2011

This entry was posted in Other Whisky News, Whisky Tastings and Events News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on by .

Report by Bruce Crichton

Having read ‘Aardvarks in your wardrobe’ by Agamemnon McWhirter, I headed to Dufftown. No longer perplexed by this household pest, the Autumn Speyside Whisky festival was just what I needed with several days of great whisky, great food and an electrifying tasting contest. Here is my account of it.

The reader is cautioned that this is not a definitive guide and I apologize in advance for any factual errors and note that tasting notes are subjective with comment added from expert tasters present during note-taking. To shorten the report, I refer the reader to previous reports and tastings if a whisky has re-appeared and also assumed the reader is familiar with any widely available bottlings mentioned. Any cask samples tasted are described briefly, since these are not available for the reader to buy. Finally, any water added to a whisky tasted was, literally, one drop and whiskies were 40% abv, if the strength is not otherwise indicated.

Mates of the Museum

Thursday night saw the ‘Mates of the Museum’ bringing together old friends and new as retiring festival bus driver and recognized genius Mike Hendry was presented with an award and applauded by several foxes who remember Mike teaching them cunning when they were young.

Auchroisk tour

Pausing on Friday morning to teach a young Norwegian lady the words ‘Baldy’, ‘Cue ball’ and ‘Slap head’ using a handy prop that I keep with me at all times, I headed by bus tour to Auchroisk distillery where Paul Hooper of Diageo, took us round. This tour was more extensive than the spring festival visit and Paul noted that Auchroisk uses Optic, Oxbridge and Forensic malt produced at nearby Burghead, and produces grassy spirit as well as the more familiar nutty character new-make, an unusual feature though a few Diageo sites can produce two or more spirit characters by varying the fermentation time.

Less than one per cent of the whisky produced there is bottled as single malt with the vast bulk going to the Johnnie Walker and J & B blends. With the capacity to produce 3.7 million litres of alcohol per year, from 8 very tall stills, the distillery expects to go to 7 days a week production next year.

Extensive tanking and warehousing facilities allow spirit from nearby Diageo distilleries to be transported by tanker to Auchroisk where Diageo also warehouse whisky for Chivas, with Chivas doing the same for them nearby. As luck would have it, new make spirit from sister distillery Inchgower arrived during our visit as Johnnie Walker Green Label and Glen Ord mature spirit departed for bottling.  Instructive, also, was a demonstration of an ‘Anton Paar’ machine that measures alcoholic strength.

At the blending hall disgorging unit, casks are emptied, and whisky blended and reduced before being sent away by tanker for bottling, while the ‘rubbish’ is filtered from the casks and the filters are cleaned three times a day. Chill-filtration takes place at the bottling hall. Also used is a colour measurement device that checks the activity of the casks in use.

Rounding off was a promotional DVD narrated by Robert Carlyle and then Erin took us through a tutored tasting that began with the 10 year old bottling from the now discontinued ‘Flora and Fauna’ range reviewed in the spring 2011 report. Next we tasted the popular Mortlach 16 and found it in fine form though lighter than old with treacle and Christmas cake on the nose, a sweet and spicy middle, and with a warm finish with a little smoke. Next was the Talisker 10 year old, at 45.8%abv, of which more later, before we ended with a taste of Johnnie Walker’s 18 year old ‘Gold Label’ straight from the freezer (!) which is best rolled on the tongue for the full velvet, honey and spice effect.

Gordon and MacPhail

Mike Patterson from Gordon and MacPhail (G&M) opened with a 1997 ‘distillery label’ Strathisla, at 43%abv, matured in refill sherry casks. This had fruit syrup, Wham bars and Parma violets on both nose and taste before a short finish. As we tasted this, Mike showed us samples from the feints, foreshots and middle cut of Benromach new make spirit which had both fruit and cereal aromas, noting that the cut is of crucial importance as, should feints get into the cask, the taste will never go away with maturation.

Benromach Burgundy finish, at 45%abv, had spent 7 years in wine casks as Mike reasons that there is no point in finishing if it does not influence the final taste. This elegant dram was light, creamy and winey.

A 1971 ‘MacPhail’s  Collection’ Tamdhu, at 43%abv, matured in refill sherry casks had massive oak on the nose with some light smoke and cream in its stylish taste with a very long and warm finish.

A 1997 Imperial, at 62.7%abv, had a delicious smell of wedding cake with the same again to taste before golden syrup and thick, chewy toffee. The finish was rich and long and this whisky needed amazingly little water given its high bottling strength and comes highly recommended to the reader.

By contrast, a 1997 Connoisseur’s Choice Caol Ila, at 43%abv, was very gentle and had delicately smoked fish aromas and some lovely soft, sweet peat on the taste before a salty and long finish. Mike noted that Caol Ila had produced whisky from unpeated spirit relatively recently as it had been threatened with closure before the recent boom in Islay whiskies.

Mark vs. Bruce – a never to be forgotten contest

For many years, this writer has driven many brand ambassadors round the twist but, when I challenged Mark Watt to a tasting contest, the foot was on the other hand though, nonetheless, I held my own.

New rules had been brought into place following 2009’s Mark Vs Susan contest allowing Mark and I to both weigh in with our own thoughts on each other’s whiskies during our presentations. There was no limit on the number of whiskies allowed for each contest though the budget was fixed for both of us.

Mark, who is rehearsing for the title role in the upcoming film ‘The Oliver Reed Story’, went first, opining ‘whatever happens, Bruce will win’ before introducing his choice with the theme ‘Whiskies you should have in your cupboard’. The whiskies were the widely available Macallan 12, Highland Park 18, at 43%abv, Talisker 10 and Ardbeg 10, at 46%abv. Noting that the 12 year old is much better than the 10 year old, Mark waxed lyrical about the Macallan and the fact that it is now for sale in Britain.

The Highland Park 18 is fully matured in sherry casks these days and is an old favourite of mine and Mark, effectively combining the often contradictory tastes of peat and sherry with more spiciness than Mark remembers. Meanwhile Talisker 10 is back on form with characteristic, smoke and pepper and is still a whisky not to be drunk so much as conquered as the attack is at the start and the finish is very sweet. This whisky also gave Mark a chance to vent his feelings about a group of people he has encountered who swear that there is no salt in whisky and have made t-shirts stating this.

Ardbeg 10 showed conclusively that the big peat attack of years gone by is on the wane from the south Islay whiskies but this has given them the chance to show that they do not merely have one big punch as much sweetness awaits those who taste this. Ardbeg have also released a new bottling called ‘Alligator’ and Mark recounted the story of a live alligator being brought to a whisky festival. (Some jokes just tell themselves.)

After a short break, it was my turn, this time, to present five whiskies that tasted mostly of Scotch. (You knew it was coming, didn’t you?) The secondary theme of my collection was ‘Under the radar’ as these were whiskies that had never featured in a tasting and were highly unlikely to do so. As the reader may imagine, it is extremely difficult to give a tasting and report on it at the same time and I must confess to the reader that nerves really kicked in after about three minutes. However, experiencing a huge rush of adrenaline, I managed to keep going and continue to present my theme while moving on to such surreal topics as Donald Pleasance’s appearance in Columbo, the pros and cons of Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible, and the history of Benromach before recording an unexpected round of applause.

My first choice, Glen Moray 10, fully matured in Chardonnay casks, was described by Mark as a ‘great breakfast dram’ and had a marvelous cereal maltiness to it and appeared to be the surprise low-budget hit of the festival. Stronachie 18, at 46%abv, is an independent bottling of Benrinnes from A.D. Rattray and has a lovely taste of honey to rival the illustrious Balvenie. This bottling comes from 6 ex-bourbon casks and 2 sherry casks, in contrast to rival expressions that are matured in sherry casks.

Benromach 2001 Cask Strength, at 59.9%abv, is from six first fill bourbon casks and allows the light level of peat to show through as well as being smooth at the high alcoholic strength. Mark reckoned that it had a fantastic nose – making it this report’s Scarlett Johansson of whisky.

I gambled on two heavily peated whiskies to finish with, the Port Charlotte An Turas Mor, at 46%abv, and Benriach Birnie Moss, at 48%abv. The Benriach was, perhaps, the least successful of my choices though Phil Yorke reckoned it tasted of roasted peppers. The Port Charlotte, from Bruichladdich distillery, contains whisky between five and eight years old and had more obvious peat flavours. This gave me the chance to detail the difference between the level of peat present in barley, the level in the whisky and the level that humans can actually taste. Mark’s choice of Ardbeg had given both of us the chance to expound on the subject and, also, to draw the distinction between young Islay whiskies and the well-aged Islay whiskies featured in other festivals and that would feature that weekend as well. Finally, I asked the audience to compare these whiskies to those that would appear in a tasting from Kilchoman distillery as they were about the same age and same strength. The reader is invited to try this at home.

Having concluded the tasting, it was time for three rounds of voting for who had the best whiskies, the best information and who was the most entertaining. Incredibly, I won the first two rounds but Mark massacred me in the third round, just as he massacred the English language while commenting on the Port Charlotte, and he was the overall winner but, no matter, everyone present had a great night and both of us received several thunderous bursts of applause.

Mike Lord’s WSD bottlings

Sadly, festival regular Danny Maguire missed the festival having sustained a large cut on the bridge of his nose while shaving though this was not as embarrassing as the time he accidentally bit the back of his own head. Consequently he missed the whiskies presented by Mike Lord, of the Whisky Shop Dufftown (WSD) who says that Danger is his middle name and it is – he changed it by deed poll from Leslie.

A 1994 (G&M) Imperial, at 57.2%abv, had both vanilla and bananas on the nose – classic bourbon cask characteristics in the view of Mike who once head-butted a shark causing it to lose several teeth. (The shark learned its lesson and will never drink in the same pub as Mike again.) Mike also observes that the casks he has bottled from G&M have clouded with very little water addition but the reader can be assured that this is of no matter as each bottling is among the best I have ever tasted. The Imperial was exceptionally smooth with vanilla and coconut flavours and a very long finish with a hint of pepper.

A 1970 Duncan Taylor (DTC) Glenrothes, at 43.3%abv, had been matured in a bourbon cask before spending a further six weeks in an octave sherry cask giving it the smell of an elegant bourbon as well as exotic fruit juice along with delicate spice and oak flavours with just a hint of sherry and a long, orange cream finish.

A 1994 Old Malt Cask (OMC) Benrinnes, at 55.1%abv, from a first fill sherry butt had both sticky toffee pudding and orange peel on the nose. The middle was very sweet and syrupy followed by toffee and wedding cake with a long, very warm and soothing finish. In a brief history lesson, Mike drew attention to the fact the successive owners of the distillery had gone bust until the company that became Diageo bought it. Mike also stocks 17 and 19 year old OMC Benrinnes releases, at 50%abv, which are much different to this.
Benrinnes makes heavy spirit, using worm tub condensers, unlike Balblair distillery, which makes altogether lighter spirit. Despite being a refill sherry cask, something that G&M are expert at, 1995 Balblair at 52.9%abv and covered in Autumn 2010 is far more influenced by the cask than the Benrinnes and is quite simply a work of genius. 25% of Balblair production is bottled as single malt although independent releases are hard to find, as are bottlings from any of the Inver House group, bar Pulteney. Interestingly, Mike talked of the risk of signing his own name to any whisky although my suggestion that he bottle under the pseudonym of Sir Anderson Tadpole the third was, no doubt, the daftest idea he had ever heard.

From a refill sherry cask came an Adelphi 1991 Bunnahabhain, at 51.9%abv. Only a few bottles are available with the rest of the cask going to the next bottling of their highly successful ‘Liddesdale’. The wonderful nose had both sherry and Christmas cake with brandy butter. The taste and finish were the same with just a hint of smoke.

Closing, we had a 1971 Glenfarclas ‘Family Cask’, at 51.5%abv, and it was characteristic of the distillery with classic sherry character throughout, especially wedding cake and was one of 496 bottles.  In selecting this cask, Mike had tasted sixteen 1971 samples that had varied in alcoholic strength by no more than two percent and varied in volume by no more than ten bottles. This was the stuff that dreams are made off and anyone who can obtain a bottle of this is to be congratulated, as is Mike for having his finger on the pulse of people’s taste buds with his cask selection.

Tannochbrae Gala Dinner with Glenfiddich whisky

Saturday night in Dufftown brought a manifold treat with dinner at Tannochbrae restaurant where Allan and Susie served up some more fantastic fare accompanied by whiskies from the mighty Glenfiddich distillery, presented by the magnificent Bert Macor and music from the great Robin Laing featuring tracks from his non-whisky related albums such as ‘Punters’.

As well as the widely available and delicious ‘Rich Oak’ 14 year old, we had cask samples of the 15 year old ‘New Wood’ finish, a component of the huge-selling 15 year old ‘Solera Reserve’, and an 18 year old, drawn from the marrying tun while the 19 year old ‘Age of Discovery’, finished in Madeira casks offered us a marvelously sweet sherbet-like dram. These whiskies enabled Bert to demonstrate his knowledge of both history and geography, with a story of Portuguese conquistadors, and to pay tribute to new malt master Brian Kinsman who hopes to bring Glenfiddich into the limelight with innovation.

Released a mere 3 weeks previously, Glenfiddich ‘Malt Master edition’, at 43%abv, had been finished in sherry casks that gave it the taste of strawberries and cream as well as Turkish Delight cubed sweets.

Another new release is Glenfiddich 21 Gran Reserva Rum Finish, at 43.2%abv, and smells of brown sugar and tropical fruit. I found the taste was of cream and spice but reckon that a professional writer could be inspired to wax lyrical for several lines. For best results, the reader is recommended to pour a large dram and roll on the tongue.

Whisky and Chocolate with Mike Lord and Victoria Duty

After cleaning out the aardvarks from my attic with the help of another book by Agamemnon McWhirter, I headed to the Masonic hall for Whisky and Chocolate presented by Mike and Vicky.
The intrepid Mike had journeyed far and wide to lands where no human eye had previously set foot to find whiskies that combined effectively with ‘Olive Tree Chocolate’ from Elgin. Vicky is a chocolatier which apparently does not mean that she know Dogtanian. (I really wish I had composed this one myself).

As with previous whisky and food combinations, the whiskies chosen are widely available distillery releases. These were: Clynelish 14, at 46%abv, Strathisla 12, Aberlour A’Bunadh batch 36, at 60.1%abv, Glenfarclas 105 and Glendronach 18 ‘Allardice’, at 46%abv. Clynelish and A’Bunadh are benchmark whiskies for pairing with chocolate, according to Mike who does not comment on rumours that a Komodo dragon died a few days after he bit it.

Vicky opened with ‘Java’ – a milk chocolate consisting of 33% cocoa that is very silky, creamy and moreish and paired it with Clynelish. Next was ‘Ghana’ milk chocolate, 40% cocoa, and Strathisla 12. Robin Laing thinks that this drying whisky compliments the higher cocoa content of the chocolate and lengthens the finish.

Batch 36 of the popular A’Bunadh series is lighter in character than previous batches and is not to the taste of Robin or Mike but is more to mine. This was matched with ‘Saint Domingue’ from the Caribbean and is 70% cocoa and prompted Robin to read some of the limericks he had written about the A’Bunadh.

‘Equateur’ plain chocolate is 78% cocoa and was served with Glenfarclas 105, A’Bunadh’s great rival, and led to stories being told of a Sunday Times journalist drinking with Glenfarclas’ George Grant and a rather surreal aftermath.  Mike cautions that combining whisky with chocolate can lead to the taste of the whisky being stripped away and only the spirit being left behind. In particular, the robust Talisker 10 year old does not appear to go with chocolate at all.

Finally, ‘Kumabo’ African chocolate containing 80.1% cocoa was tasted alongside the Glendronach. Apparently, this is a hard chocolate to pair with whisky. As always, these whisky and food combinations can be recreated in the comfort of the reader’s own home with the whisky from Mike and chocolate from Olive Tree and all that remains is to congratulate Vicky on taking her first festival tasting.

Exotic Wildlife and Wemyss Whisky with Susan Colville

Susan Colville, 2011 Whisky Magazine ‘Young Brand Ambassador of the Year’, who says that she cannot handle two days of solid drinking any more, presented Wemyss Vintage malts.  (I prefer liquid drinking; it comes so much more naturally.) Also celebrating was Mike Lord who had won Whisky Magazine’s ‘Single Outlet Whisky Retailer of the Year’ award. (Legend has it that Mike stung a Portuguese man of war Jellyfish to death while swimming in the sea.)

Each bottling was 46%abv and, as usual, named after the dominant flavour present. My notes are accompanied by wildlife provided to liven things up still further and to drive Susan round the twist as well.

2000 Linkwood ‘Vanilla Zest’ had matured in a refill bourbon cask. This ideal summer whisky was very fresh with plenty of citrus notes and a slightly sharp and long finish though Susan could have lived without my added note of ‘Andean Condors’. (Nothing beats soaring over the mountains, looking for carrion.)
Bottled on the Tuesday before the festival was a 1989 Cragganmore called ‘Lemon Grove’. Susan is a big fan of older Cragganmore as she thinks it improves with age. Though I commented that it tasted of Spectacled Caimans, this whisky did not have a bite and should not be confused with the recent Ardbeg Alligator bottling. Accurately named, it had strong lemon on the nose and taste as well as oak and had a long, warm and smoky finish.

1990 Glencadam ‘Caribbean fruits’ smelled of light, golden honey and had both honey and spice tastes in equal measure and a short, creamy finish. 1997 Clynelish ‘Vanilla Summer’ did indeed smell and taste of vanilla, honey and fruit syrup although my comment about tube-nosed fruit bats was not strictly true. (This species was only discovered in 2009).

1981 Caol Ila ‘Whispering Smoke’ was distilled 6 weeks before Susan was born and had been fully matured in a second fill bourbon cask. This was a wonderful, subtle and luxurious dram with notes of spice, salt, pepper and lightly smoked bacon and an exceptionally long finish.
We closed with 1991 Bunnahabhain ‘Honey Spice’, matured in a first fill sherry cask that gave it coffee and treacle aromas with syrup and treacle flavours and a long, complex finish. I did announce loudly, also, the taste of Leopard Seals, which will not make this attractive to any penguins reading the report.

Robin Laing – ‘Pink whisky and the music of love’

Robin’s pink whiskies were the widely available Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban, at 46% abv, Arran Amarone, at 50%abv, his own Bruichladdich fully matured in port and covered in the Spring 2011 report, Benriach Solstice, at 50% abv, and Octomore ‘Orpheus’, at 61%abv, from Bruichladdich distillery. The Benriach has now sold out, as has the Orpheus though, it should be noted, that the 140 ppm phenol level in the barley should not intimidate the reader and all Octomore batches have been exceptionally high in quality and no more difficult to drink than rival cask strength editions from Laphroaig and Ardbeg, for example, and sweetens considerably with water. Amarone is a heavy red Italian wine.

As well as tracks from his current album ‘Whisky for breakfast’, he featured love songs such as ‘I believe in you’, ‘Watershed’, ‘Black Rose’, ‘Closer to heaven’ and ‘Silver’. The brilliant ‘Kirk Douglas Ghoullie’ was also played and ‘Breakfast Whisky’ was given an extra verse while ‘Heaven Hill’ substituted a Smart car for the Mustang in the album version.

Returning to the whisky, Robin paid tribute to Glenmorangie for both their cask management and bottling strength and added that in Greek mythology Orpheus was ripped to pieces by women and wondered if he had lived in Dufftown.

Highlights from Robin’s performance are available on both Facebook and www.youtube.com.

Glen Moray Tour

Glen Moray distillery’s modus operandi is covered in depth in my Spring 2006 report and touring it on the Monday morning was still informative as the distillery is in full flow under French owners La Martiniquaise. Production is 2.2 million litres per annum from 24 hours a day, 7 days a week running. 50 per cent of production is bottled as single malt and, in the pipeline, are peated spirit distilled in 2010 and a number of releases fully matured in wine casks. Enthusiastic visitors can also bottle their own, straight from the cask, and the non-age statement, 12 year old and 16 year old expressions are available to taste, alongside limited edition ‘Manager’s dram’ bottles all of which represent tremendous value for money.

‘I was there ‘Adelphi Tasting with Antonia Bruce

As well as presenting new company baseball caps and a boxed set of four miniatures called ‘Nightcaps’, Antonia Bruce introduced a stellar collection of single cask whiskies., the first of which was 1997 Clynelish, at 59.1%abv, taken from a refill bourbon cask. This tasted of golden honey and fizzy sherbet with a long, warm and mellow finish.

A 1984 Tamdhu, at 48.8%abv, gave Antonia the chance to explain the ‘Saladin’ maltings process, which is apparently highly efficient and makes for robust spirit. Having matured in a refill sherry cask, this smelled of fruit salad chew bars with a fruity, waxy taste and a hint of chocolate at the end. Also, Antonia mentioned a blind tasting of fruit gums and it’s reassuring to know that I’m not the only one with a terrible sweet tooth.

1984 Linkwood, at 53.2%abv, also from refill sherry, had a lovely nose that inspired me to write at length as I found sherry, coffee, dark chocolate, treacle, Bovril and balsamic vinegar. The taste was surprisingly delicate and restrained and the finish long. Linkwood distillery is highly picturesque, apparently, and the surrounding wildlife was the inspiration for parent company Diageo’s ‘Flora and Fauna’ series. Linkwood has an ‘A’ distillery built in 1872 and a ‘B’ distillery built in 1971 and Norwegian Linkwood fan Snorre Lenes notes that distillery ‘A’ has not been used for many years.

1965 Lochside ‘single blend’ whisky, at 52.3%abv, provided all present with an ‘I was there’ moment. Lochside, in Montrose, operated between 1957 and 1992 and was co-founded by Joseph W Hobbs, owner of Ben Nevis distillery, and had both malt and grain facilities on site. This blend was 50% malt and 50% grain and had been blended at birth, as had a previous Adelphi Ben Nevis single blend from 1970. The nose was floral with vanilla and rum and raisin while the taste indicated that the grain still had fight in it as well as being very well balanced with hazelnut chocolate and fruit. The finish was one of rum and coffee but, really, such moments are really a chance to taste history and part of what a festival should be about.

Closing the session in thought-provoking style was a 1999 12 year old Breath of Islay, at 56.1%abv, that was a sister cask to another 1999 Breath of Islay 11 year old bottling. The latter is an excellent example of a conventional ‘big punch’ whisky representative of the distillery that I reckon is associated with the White Horse blends. The 12 year old, however, did not have as obvious a peat character, instead offering attractive sweetness in its place before some light smoke. The middle was salty, smooth and sweet and the end was long and lingering and gave credence to my view that Islay whiskies are not about one big punch but still have depths to be revealed, especially if the peat is not as dominant as in previous years.

Dapper Duncan Taylor

Bringing the last festival tasting to us was a well-dressed Mark Watt, of DTC. Mark, who refers to Oliver Reed as ‘that teetotal actor’, showed us a new promotional company DVD that inadvertently brought home to me the news that there is only so hard you can bite into your own knuckles when you’re trying not to laugh at the narrator’s voice.

As we watched, we sampled a sherry-matured 1990 Bladnoch, at 48.6%abv, that smelled of strawberry trifle and, after a drop of water, tasted of sherry trifle and had a long peppery prickle on the finish that should not alarm the reader as no hedgehogs were involved.

A preview of the third batch of Black Bull 40 year old, at 40.9%abv, had lovely marzipan and cream cake notes and more smokiness than Mark remembers. The blend is 90% malt, being held together, in Mark’s view, and brought over strength by the Invergordon grain whisky present. This batch is expected to yield about 700 individually numbered bottles and will have the ingredients listed on the bottle as well.

As an image to freeze in the mind, nothing beats Mark’s description of a business meeting in Japan conducted in a sauna, through an interpreter.

In a watershed moment, we tasted an upcoming 1992 ‘Rarest of the Rare’ Caperdonich, at 56.7%abv, which made it the first Duncan Taylor Caperdonich I had tasted that is younger than I am. Revealing, perhaps, what could have been for this now demolished distillery, the nose had Fruit Salad and Irn Bru chew bars and the crisp taste featured cooking apples, smoke and some soft woodiness albeit with a short finish.

DTC have a large stock of 1992 Caperdonich casks laid down for the future, we were told, as well as some 1997 and 2000 vintage casks filled with peated spirit. These casks, in Mark’s opinion, would not last long in an Octave cask and he drew attention to the evaporation rate from such casks – a staggering 12 percent, if left for a year.

A 1988 Auchroisk, at 52%abv, which had spent 3 months in an Octave cask that had given 73 bottles was a masterpiece with fruit and grassy smells and a taste of tropical fruit, cream and spice that had Mark and I reminiscing about the long discontinued ‘Singleton of Auchroisk’ bottling.

Demonstrating his expert knowledge of cask management, Mark told us the tale of Imperial matured in an Amarone cask that had begun horribly before marrying together over time. We then moved on to a ‘Rare Auld’ 1993 Cragganmore, at 55.3%abv. The nose was big, heavy and punchy with sherry and orange and tastes of treacle, fruitcake and toffee that Mark said in no way tasted like chewing on a purple balloon. (This description kicks sand in the face of my old standby – biting into a burnt welly.)

Recovering from stories about Ribena mixed with Balvenie new-make and chewing safety pins, we ended with a 1983 Caol Ila, at 51.7%abv, that had matured in a refill sherry butt before being transferred to an Octave cask. The nose had marvelous notes of vanilla, smoke, fruit, lime and kiwi fruit while Phil Yorke reckoned he detected Parma Violets and toffee apples. The taste was like smoked ham cooked in a very rich sauce and Mark reckoned that the sherry had added considerable depth to the whisky.

With Mark’s beloved Caperdonich now gone and his equally beloved Imperial unlikely to produce again, I urge the reader to raise a glass of the drams mentioned in the report in their memory as the quality of the whisky available is not in doubt.

And Finally....

In closing, I’d like to thank everyone involved in organizing and running the festival and, in particular, Mike Lord and his wife Val, Steve Oliver, the wonderful people at the ‘Coffee Pot’ for keeping me going through the weekend, to Vicky at the Whisky Shop, to Claire for the proofreading, to Rene and Glo, Gordon Haughton, and everyone involved with the ‘Mates of the Museum’ plus Alan and Susie at the Tannochbrae.

I’m off to solve the problem of aardvarks once and for all by moving out of the termite mound I live in and hopefully, I’ll see you again at the spring festival when the foot will once again be on the other hand.

Lots of New Single Malts in from Douglas Laing

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By Mike Lord

Old Malt Cask Littlemill 1991 19 Years Old

This Old Malt Cask Littlemill 1991 19 Yeas Old is full of citrus fruit and barley sugar and has some spices which develop on the pallet. 340 bottles were obtained from a refill hogshead. It's getting rarer and rarer to see a Littlemill and this is a great example.

Old Malt Cask Blair Athol 1995 15 Years Old

This Old Malt Cask Blair Athol 1995 15 Years Old is from a sherry butt but don't think the Flora & Fauna distillery bottling. The colour and flavours suggest a refill giving that orange characteristics you would get from a double maturation.

Old Malt Cask Laphroaig 1993 17 Years Old

Sometimes age makes an Islay whisky more refinded but that is not the case with the nose of this Old Malt Cask Laphroaig 1993 17 Years Old. It is only when you taste it does the complexity of age show through. Just 150 bottles came from this refill hogshead.

Old Malt Cask St Magdelene 1982 28 Years Old

I have a soft spot for this distillery and this Old Malt Cask St Magdelene 1982 28 Years Old is a great examples - peaches and honey. 439 bottles came from this refill butt.

Old Malt Cask Glen Grant 1990 20 Years Old

This Old Malt Cask Glen Grant 1990 20 Years Old is from a sherry butt and has all those fabulous rich flavours you would expect after 20 years. A superb dram.

A complex elderly whisky from a refill Hogshead which gave up only 202 bottles. This Old Malt Cask Glenlivet 1977 33 Years Old is a great example of the rich spices that develop from a refill ex-bourbon barrel.

This Old Malt Cask Linkwood 1989 21 Years Old is full of bananas, oranges and nuts. It is from a refill butt which produced 484 bottles.
45 years in a sherry hogshead - what more do you need to know? This is a big whisky but it's not over done. Old & Rare Probably Speyside's Finest 1965 45 Years Old - so fine if it has stayed at the distillery it would probably have been a Family Cask.

The WSD Challenge 2010

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This was another very competitive competition.  Independent Bottlers entered their whiskies in to 2 categories: Speyside; and The Rest of Whisky.  The winners, voted for by attendees at The Whisky Shop Dufftown during the Spirit of Speyside Festival were:

Speyside

First place: Old Malt Cask Probably Speyside's Finest 1967 41 Years Old (Jan Beckers)

Second place: Duncan Taylor Rare Auld Glen Grant 1987 22 Years Old (Mark Watt)

Third place: Tie between Weymss Spiced Apples (Susan Colville) and Adelphi Glenallachie 1973 26 Years Old (SOLD OUT)

The Rest of Whisky

First Place: Adelphi Bunnahabhain 1968 41 Years Old

Second Place: Mackillops Bowmore 1989 (IN STOCK SOON)

Third Place: Douglas Laing Big Peat.

The winner of the competition for the best tasting note was by Ed Velthuizew from Holland.  His prize was a bottle of his favourite whisky from the challenge which was the Adelphi Bunnahabhain.

Michael Lord

Christmas Whisky - What's the best Single Malt Whisky for Christmas?

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Benrinnes Walk 20090310 10

What's a good Christmas whisky?  We've asked a few industry experts to select their best single malt for Christmas:

Mark Watt of Duncan Taylor & Co

Anyone who has met me for more than three and a half seconds would be expecting me to pick Caperdonich  for the best Christmas single malt, but I thought I would go with something a little different.  The dearly departed Black Bull 30yo would be a  great choice or its younger brother the 12yo [more] however this year my Christmas pick would be our (DTC’s) Glen  Grant 1970 [more].  A dram to savour something to sit back relax after a healthy Christmas dinner and put the world  to rights.  A nice creamy dram with a touch of spiced oak, some delicate stewed fruits and a hint of spice! Cracking stuff!

WSD Challenge 2009 MW 04Black Bull 12DT Ardbeg v2

Alex Bruce of Adelphi Distillers

The best Christmas dram is “the free one” or “the one in the biggest glass”, but if I was to select one from the Adelphi stable then BREATH OF SPEYSIDE 1991, 18 year old Speyside 54.3% vol, 1 of only 612 bottles from cask no. 5142 [more] is my best Christmas single malt. Hot on the heels of its sister cask (no. 5145), this is the 4th sherry butt in the Breath of Speyside range from Adelphi.  A rich amber hue, we were immediately struck by how clean this whisky was. A lovely nose of well-aged balsamic vinegar with marmalade, plums and Maraschino cherries in the background. The whisky keeps opening, now revealing prunes, marinated in Armagnac; then hints of Calvados and plenty of brown sugar.  To taste, the sugar is now more burnt and caramelized, with a thread of dark chocolate and Christmas cake wrapper. A rich, viscous texture to finish with Old English marmalade, and no tannins. Christmas in a glass.  Reasons: kind of puts its own case forward…

Alex BruceAdelphi Breadth of Speyside 1991Alex Bruce of Adelphi
Steven McConnachie of Whyte & Mackay

I recommend My Winter Warmer - Jura Prophecy [more] as the best Christmas whisky. If you like the darker/smokier side of whisky but not necessarily some typically heavy islay malts, then try this. Uncharacteristic of what is expected of Jura, its peatier than the sumptous Superstition with slightly more of a raw edge to it. Sit in front of a log fire and enjoy! Slainte.

Jura Prophecy

Mike Lord of The Whisky Shop Dufftown

The above are all good suggestions for the best Christmas single malt.  If you want to go with the sherry theme then ADR Benrinnes 13 [more] and Wemyss Barbeque Sauce [more] are both outstanding drams.  If you want something old then I still have a couple of bottle of Duncan Taylor Caperdonnich 36 years [more] old which is phenominal.  And if you want to go with the peat there are peated Bunnahabhain's in the NC2 [more] range and from Adelphi [more].

Merry Christmas from the WSD!

New Releases of Single Malt Whisky from Adelphi Distillery Ltd

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Adelphi
Adelphi Logo

Always first class whiskies, here are the new releases from Adelphi Distillery now available at The Whisky Shop Dufftown.

Ardbeg 1998 11 Years Old 57.9% Cask #1981

[more]

Breath of Speyside 1991 18 Years Old 54.3% Cask # 5142

[more]

Bunnahabhain 1997 11 Years Old 58.6% Cask #5368

[more]

Caol Ila 1982 27 Years Old 57.6% Cask #688

[more]

Linkwood 1984 25 Years Old 56% Cask #1623

[more]