Tag Archives: Glenrothes

The Whisky Shop Dufftown @ The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2016

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Now that the festival dust has well and truly settled it is time to recap the results of our various competitions.

 

The Whisky Shop Dufftown Challenge for Independent Bottlers: Speyside

The Whisky Shop Dufftown threw down the gauntlet and challenged the independent bottlers to find the best Speyside Single Malt.  Our guests at The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2016 voted for their favourite in blind tastings. The winner was Old Malt Cask Speyside 1993 21 Years Old from Hunter Laing.

First Place:

  • Old Malt Cask Speyside 1993 21 Years Old (£86.95)

Second Place:

  • Adelphi Glenrothes 1991 25 Years Old (£189.00)

Old Malt Cask Speyside 1993 21 Years OldAdelphi Glenrothes 1991 25 Years Old

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Whisky Shop Dufftown Challenge for Independent Bottlers:  Rest of Whisky

The Whisky Shop Dufftown threw down the gauntlet and challenged the independent bottlers to find the best whisk(e)y not from Speyside - it could be any whisk(e)y just not a single malt whisky from Speyside.  Our guests at The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2016 voted for their favourite in blind tastings. The winner was Adelphi Bunnahabhain 2005 11 Years Old.  We should also mention the Old Perth Sherry which coming in second place and at that price is amazing!

First Place:

  • Adelphi Bunnahabhain 2005 11 Years Old (£75.95)

Second Place:

  • Old Perth Sherry cask from Morrison & MacKay (£29.95)

Adelphi Bunnahabhain 2005 11 Years Old

Old Perth Sherry Cask Blend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each year, Mike as Chairman of the awards, has a look at the whiskies that did not win to see if there is another one that did really well with the public but also shows value for money considering how highly it was placed.  If he sees one then he will award it The Chairmans Award for a Cracking Dram.  This year he has decided there is a deserving dram and that is the Old Perth Sherry which to beat off competition from much older more expensive whisky to come second place in the Rest of Whisky category makes it worth £29.95 of any ones money.

 

The Best Tasting Note

 As part of the Challenge for Independent Bottlers we ask our guests taking part in the judging to write tasting notes for the whiskies as well as picking their favourites.  At the end of the festival we pick the best tasting notes and the winner receives a bottle of their favourite whisky from the competition.

This year it was won by Ruth Ball and she wins a bottle of Old Malt Cask Speyside 21 Years Old.

  

What is the Best Single Malt to go with a Bacon Roll?

According to the Guests of The Whisky Shop Dufftown during The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2016 it is Arran Lochranza which has won at 3 festivals in a row now.  Could this be the ultimate companion to a bacon roll?  Please note that the bacon was unsmoked.  There was no sauce.  This is science!

WSD Image Bacon 01

 

 

 

 

 

First Place:

  • Arran Lochranza (£33.50)

Second Place:

  • Glenrothes Vintage Cask (£40.95)

 Glenrothes Vintage ReserveArran Lochranza Reserve


What is the Best Single Malt to go with Haggis?

According to the Guests of The Whisky Shop Dufftown during The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2016 it is Glen Scotia 15 Years Old which has retained its title from the last festival.  Please note that neeps and tatties where involved but the voting on the pairing was done just with the haggis!

Haggis, neeps and tatties

Haggis, neeps and tatties

First Place:

  • Glen Scotia 15 Years Old (£50.95)

Second Place:

  • Singleton of Dufftown Spey Cascade (£38.95)

Glen Scotia 15Singleton Spey Cascade_edited-1

 

Next Festivals

The first Spirit of Speyside: Distilled festival will be in Elgin from 9 to 11 September.  We will be running the retail shop at the event an we will also have a few drams for you to try. The aims is to get all the Speyside distillers under one roof with our Speyside beer and gins.  It's going to be great.

The Whisky Shop Dufftown Autumn Festival run's from 22 to 26 September this year.  We hope to launch the programme on 1 July with tickets on sale from 8th on our website.  We will have masterclasses and distillery tours as usual.

On 12 of November we are off to Osby in Sweden for an all day tasting with Whiskygastronomerna.  Tickets are available from them right now.

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival in 2017 will be from 27 April to 1 May.

On the 8th and 9th September 2017 we will be making our return to Maltstock as they can't do with out us apparently.  Tickets will be available from them later in the year. Not sure when as they are very relaxed about these things,

New Releases - Adelphi

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We now have in the latest releases from Adelphi.  As usual they are bunch of crackers.  These include the whiskies featured in the Adelphi tasting during The Whisky Shop Dufftown Autumn Festival.

Unfortunately these whiskies were shipped without the usual tasting notes so where we can we have included our own (my) tasting notes.  These were taken during The Whisky Shop Dufftown Autumn festival and were really only for my use never to see the light of day so they are not up to our (my) usual standard and may have been influenced by The Gang on my table at the tasting.  They are included anyway.

Click on the name of each whisky to see more details.

Adelphi Linkwood 1990 24 Years Old

This is a sparkling Linkwood from a refill cask which allows so much character to come through.

Adelphi Linkwood 1990 24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adelphi Bladnoch 1990 24 Years Old

Unfortunately we have not been able to taste this whisky but we are assured it is a  top notch bourbon cask Bladnoch.

Adelphi Bladnoch 1990 24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adelphi Longmorn 1992 22 Years Old

A real sophisticated and healthy breakfast bar buffet of flavours.  An exceptional Longmorn.

Adelphi Longmorn 1992 22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adelphi Glenrothes 2007 7 Years Old

Do not focus on the age here.  For those that have had previous young Adelphi Glenrothes you will no why.  This is a full on sherry cask whisky.  It has real deep chocolate notes may be even rum and raisin ice cream.

Adelphi Glenrothes 2007 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adelphi Fascadale Batch 7 Highland Park 14 Years Old

This Adelphi describe this Highland Park as being a breather on the hill with lemon drizzle cake, Red Pippin apples, creamy highland fudge and peat bogs,  A little smoke to taste with lingering fresh apple skins.  For me it brought to mind lemon curd tarts on the palate and ashy mint imperials on the palate.  A cracking Highland Park.

Adelphi Fascadale Batch 7 Highland Park 14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adelphi Ardmore 2000 14 Years Old

Lots of barley and nuts on this Ardmore and the consensus of The Gang was also Banana Nesquick and their knowledge of such things is unquestionable.

Adelphi Ardmore 2000 14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adelphi Glen Garioach 1993 21 Years Old

Probably the star of the tasting at The Whisky Shop Dufftown Autumn Festival this is already fast selling out.  We have Adelphi's tasting note from this one so take a look.  I will just add the combined summary of The Gang which was chocolate ragu.  Trust me.  It's great.

Adelphi Glen Garioch 1992 21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Mike Lord

The WSD Challenge for Independent Bottlers

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The Winning Tasting Notes

By Teun van Wel

Benromach 2001 Cask Strength

Nose: Bob Marley waking up.

Taste: To hot to do work.

Finish: Very relaxed.

Wemyss Cragganmore 1989 "Lemon Grove"

Nose: Waking up in Barbados.

Taste: Going to the beach and have a Malibu cocktail

Finish: Although you have to go home you stay on the beach and and have another one.  Very relaxed.

Duncan Taylor Octave Linkwood 1991 20 Years Old

Nose: I just love the smell of whisky in the morning.

Taste: Something to talk about with fellow enthusiasts.

Finish: Sunday 9 Sep, after breakfast, very relaxed.

Douglas Laing Old & Rare Glen Grant 1985 25 Years Old

Nose: Like a Saturday afternoon at Maltstock

Taste: Is that the BBQ firing up?

Finish: An unforgettable evening around the camp fire with fellow enthusiasts sharing and enjoying great whisky - very relaxed.

Gordon & MacPhail Glen Grant 25 Years Old

Nose: Like being on a remote tropical island some where in the  mid south Pacific just before noon, on an undiscovered beach, getting a massage from a young lady with the softest hands you'll ever find, while sipping the ultimate Pina Colada from a coconut, knowing there's absolutely nothing you have yo do for the rest of the day. Utterly relaxed.

Taste: Sure.

Finish: Never.  Please!

Berry Brothers & Rudd Glenlivet 1973 38 Years Old

Nose:  Hmmm.  Looks like I just got an extra week on the island.

Taste:  Oooh and she just bought me a fruit basket.

Finish:  Feeling totally and utterly relaxed.

Adelphi Glenrothes 1969 42 Years Old

Nose: If I wasn't so relaxed I'm sure I could come up with some fantastis notes.

Taste:  Ditto

Finish:  Can we finally relax now?

A Word from the Owner

Frankly I distance myself from the judging which was undertaken by Kirsteen and Vicky and hence forth a more reasonable judge has been appointed.  Any complaints take it up with them.  I could have over-ridden their decision but that is not my way - we run a democratic dictatorship.  If you discard the blatant promotional material above you are left with the workings of a deranged tour operator.  Oh well!  Teun won a bottle of the Berry's Glenlivet for his trouble - if everything in life was so easy.  Other whisky festivals are available.

The WSD Challenge for Independent Bottlers 2012

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This is the first in a series of blogs on the festival.

During this year’s festival we again held a challenge for Independent Bottlers to find the best independent bottling of Speyside whisky and the best from the rest of whisky. The competition was hotly contended with entries from Adelphi, Berry Brothers & Rudd, Cadenheads’s, Douglas Laing, Duncan Taylor, Gordon & MacPhail, The Scottish Liqueur Centre (Carn Mor) and Wemyss. Both Berry Brothers and the SLC were new to the competition this year.

In both categories we had whiskies from the same distillery but were very different highlighting the craft of the Independent Bottler in selecting unusual casks from that distillery. And again this year almost all of the whiskies had people voting for them as their favourite showing that there is a whisky for everyone and every whisky has someone – the flavours in whisky are as broad as people’s palettes are different.

This year, luckily for once, we had very clear winners in each category!

Speyside Category

We had 7 entries in the Speyside category:

Adelphi Glenrothes 1969 42 Years Old

Benromach 2001 Cask Strength entered by Gordon & MacPhail

Berry’s Glenlivet 1973 38 Years Old

Douglas Laing Old & Rare Glen Grant 1985 25 Years Old

Duncan Taylor Octave Linkwood 1991 20 Years Old

Gordon & MacPhail Glen Grant 25 Years Old

Wemyss Cragganmore 1989 Lemon Grove

The results are:

Third – Berry’s Glenlivet 1973 38 Years Old

Second – Douglas Laing Old & Rare Glen Grant 1985 25 Years Old

First – Adelphi Glenrothes 1969 42 Years Old

Antonia Bruce of Adelphi

Rest of Whisky

We had a whopping 10 entries in the Rest of Whisky Category:

Adelphi Caol Ila 1983 28 Years Old

Amrut Fusion entered by Gordon & MacPhail

Berry's Bunnahabhain 1990 21 Years Old

Cadenhead's Royal Brackla 1992 19 Years Old

Carn Mor Bowmore 1996 16 Years Old entered by The SLC

Carn Mor Highland Park 1994 17 Years Old entered by The SLC

Douglas Laing Old & Rare Caol Ila 1980 30 Years Old

Duncan Taylor Rare Auld Cameronbridge 1979 32 Years Old

Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice Royal Brackla 1995

Wemyss Bunnahabhain 1991 "Honey Spice"

The results are:

Third – Douglas Laing Rare Old Caol Ila 1980 30 Years Old

Second – Wemyss Bunnahabhain 1991 “Honey Spice”

First – Duncan Taylor Rare Auld Cameronbridge 1979 32 Years Old

Mark Watt of Duncan Taylor

Congratulations to Adelphi and Duncan Taylor!!!

Best Under 18's

In previous years we have also given an award to the best whisky under 18 years old. We only had one entry in the Speyside category that met this criteria and unfortunately this was not an independent bottling so did not qualify but was very well received in the under 18’s as was the Carn Mor Highland Park and Carn Mor Bowmore who share the prize for the under 18’s in the Rest of Scotland category.

The Owner's Award

After analysing the voting and comparing that to price to obtain a measure of popularity for price The Owner’s Award (that’s me) goes to the Octave Linkwood as the best buy in the competition with a Crichton coefficient of 0.57. And a very special mention for the Berry’s Glenlivet as I am torn between this and the Adelphi Glenrothes for my personal favourites.

Best Tasting Note

As usual an independent panel reviewed the tasting notes to find the best ones. I stress they were independent and I had nothing to do with it. The winning tasting notes were from Teun van Wel and we will be featuring his tasting note in a later post. Well done to Teun who won his favourite whisky which was the Berry’s Glenlivet. The runner up yet again was Ed Velthuizen. Ed has been either winner or runner up so many times we have decided to appoint him judge for the best tasting note going forward.

Thank You

A big thank you to all the companies that entered and the hundreds of festival goers who took part. This remains one of the few competitions where all of the judging is done by members of the public!!

The Autumn Speyside Festival

For anyone coming to the Autumn Speyside Festival and wishing to attend our events at The WSD Autumn Festival 2012 then it is more than likely than tickets for our events will only be available from our website.  There will be no change for the Spirit of Speyside Festival 2013.


New in from independent bottler Douglas Laing

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By Mike Lord

Here are the new bottlings we have in from Doulas Laing.  The tasting notes are from them.

Old Malt Cask Glen Ord 1997 14 Years Old

It's getting harder and harder to find Glen Ord particularly in Europe.  This one is a very fruity orangy example.

Nose: Opens clean & refreshing - running to sweet fruit + gristy style.

Taste: Still sweet - a macerated ripe fruit character + gentle spices.

Finish: Long - sweetly spiced with a pleasant orange bitters lingering.

Old Malt Cask Glenrothes 1990 21 Years Old

Although this is from a refill sherry but it is a big sherried whisky with lots of citrus and ginger nicely balanced with leather and tobacco.

Nose: Richly spiced – running to a caramelised orange trait + barley sugar.

Taste: Mouth coating with toffee and ginger + a warming citrus quality.

Finish: Long – carrying an attractive oak, leather & sweet tobacco style.

Old Malt Cask Glen Keith 1993 18 Years Old

It's difficult to find a single cask Glen Keith and particularly one that doesn't break the bank.  And this one is even very very drinkable.

Nose: Fresh & fruitily sweet + fresh homemade shortbread + sweet melon.

Taste: Distinctly barley sugared running to a sweet orange/lime zest style.

Finish: Still fresh and fruity – replicating nose & palate + more zest.

Old Malt Cask Imperial 1976 35 Years Old

Oooh, an old Imperial and with definite traces of peat smoke!

Nose: Dry cedar wood shavings open to sweet dark fruit tones + ash

Taste: Richly spiced – lightly smoked/peated + old wooden candy boxes.

Finish: Camphor and cough drops + warming spices + late soft leather.

Old Malt Cask Knockando 1994 17 Years Old

A lush spicy, honey toasty Knockando.

Nose: Opens fruity & sweetly spiced running to a bees wax style.

Taste: Rich – carrying a dry spicy quality + a distinct oak character. Rich – carrying a dry spicy quality + a distinct oak character.

Finish: Long – still spicy + burnt toast & honey that runs and runs.

Old Malt Cask Laphroaig 1993 18 Years Old

Now this is a very good Laphraoig.

Nose: Opens sweet & vanilla’d running to soft smoke + flamed orange zest

Taste: Still sweet & softly smoked + more vanilla – burnt home baked style.

Finish: Long – with an ashes and burnt wood character + lingering creosote.

See our full Douglas Laing range.


Autumn Speyside Whisky Festival 2011

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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.

New Releases from Adelphi

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By Mike Lord

Here are the latest releases from Adelphi - most where previewed at The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival in May.  This is the first bottlings from Adelphi which have been processed through there own bottling line at their new warehouse - getting even more independent.  This should mean that they can be more fleet of foot going forward so except more releases and more frequent.

Adelphi Ardmore 1992 18 Years Old

This whisky is from a refill bourbon Hogshead which produced 267 bottles.  It's about getting scrubbed clean down the road from the industrial factory.

Adelphi Aultmore 1982 28 Years Old

This whisky is from a refill bourbon hogshead which produced 179 bottles.  Lots of baked apples and apple pie notes show the quality of this aged Speyside.

Adelphi Bunnahabhain 1998 12 Years Old

This whisky is from a first fill sherry cask which produced 632 bottles.  A big sherried whisky with lots of dark chocolate and toffees with a hint of match boxes.

Adelphi Clynelish 1997 14 Years Old

This whisky is a refill bourbon hogshead which produced 247 bottles.  It's all about a biscuit tin in a sweet shop with the door open to a summer day in the Highlands.

Adelphi Glenrothes 1990 20 Years Old

This whisky is from a refill sherry butt which produced 527 bottles.  This one is all about chocolate and fruit cake.

Adelphi Linkwood 1984 26 Years Old

This whisky is from a refill bourbon hogshead which produced just 113 bottles.  It's like an English country village of the 1950's probably in the Cotswolds - the country church, the sweet shop, the green grocers, coal fires and the village school.



New in from AD Rattray

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Here are the new releases just in from AD Rattray:

By Mike Lord

AD Rattray Glen Grant 1985 24 Years Old @ 55.8%

A class act this one.  Well aged an sophisticated.  If it was a person it would wear tweed and look good in it.


AD Rattray Glenrothes 1990 19 Years Old @ 49.9%

Kiwi fruits and bananas but a real chardonnay edge to this one.  Amazing.


AD Rattray Laphroaig 1998 11 Years Old @ 61.6%

Another cracking Laphroaig from ADR.  This one is a real feisty 11 years old.


AD Rattray Pulteney 1982 27 Years Old @ 53.5%

Pulteney does age so well and this is an exceptional example


AD Rattray Cragganmore 1997 12 Years Old 46.0%

A fresh, fun, bourbon cask whisky for anytime of the day at a great price.


Return of an old friend:

AD Rattray Mortlach 1994 13 Years Old 58.8%

This one shows you how good Bourbon cask Mortlach can be.

The AD Rattray Range