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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,

The WSD Gin Palace

This entry was posted in Blog, Lady of the Drams, Tasting Notes on by .

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

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

Porters Gin. 41.5% abv. Made in Aberdeen.

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

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

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

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



Lady Of The Drams - A Quick Update

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

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

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

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

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

More recently (this week in fact) Kat and I had a tour around Balvenie Distillery with the great David Mair. The tour was brilliant with David explaining everything with enthusiasm and love for the whisky they produce there. One of the things which made the Balvenie tour stand out from the others, for me, is that they have everything there on site from the malting, through the distillation process to the cooperage where you can watch the guys repairing and prepairing the casks ready for use. After touring the distillery we visited the warehouse which used to be the cellar of a big stately home, where visitors can bottle their own 20cl from a choice of 3 different casks. Kat was very excited about this and tried to convince me that bottling one was also part of her training (yeah right) so being the softie I am I let her and this made her day even more special. David then took us back to the tasting room where we were treated to 5 whiskies plus a special whisky from 1974 which was just for ‘Warehouse 24 members which I am lucky to be part of. The other whiskies were the 12 years old Double wood, the 12 years old single barrel, the 17 years old double wood, the 21 years old port cask finish and the Balvenie 30 years old - what a treat! It was great to be able to taste the 2 double woods side by side and compare them. Both Kat and I found the 17 years old to be smoother and more complex than the 12 but I wont go into any tasting notes as Kat is going to cover that in her post.

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

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


Whisky Tasting: The Renegade Whiskies of Speyside with Joel Harrison & Neil Ridley

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Some people think of Speyside as not just a region but a particular style of whisky.  For this tasting Neil & Joel have sourced some indie bottlings that just don't seem to fit within this general landscape of Speyside.  The whiskies they have already announced for this tasting are insane.  They are including two of the whiskies that they have liberated from the darkest forgotten corners of the industries warehouses - the widely acclaimed Trojan 25 Years Old and their latest release BenRiach 16 Years Old Single Cask plus a 25 Years Old Macallan single cask from the Boutique-y Whisky Company - yes... that's a 25 Years Old Macallan.

The tasting takes place during the Spirit of Speyside Whisky festival on Monday 2 May at 15:30.  Do not miss this extraordinary tasting.  Book your tickets here.





Whisky Tasting: Morrison & MacKay - 1 May @ 17:30 (£20)

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The Whisky Shop Dufftown is hosting a tasting with Morrison MacKay on 1 May @ 17:30 as part of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2016.

Morrison and MacKay is a family business based in Bankfoot run by whisky industry stalwart, Kenneth MacKay. Morrison and MacKay is an independent bottler responsible for bottling the exceptional Carn Mor Whisky range. All of these whiskies are hand picked by Kenneth who relies on 39 years of experience in the whisky industry to source and select the finest casks available. Today, Carn Mor has an ever growing following and reputation for very high quality whiskies. Morrison and MacKay are also responsible for reviving the Old Perth brand which is now available all over the world in 3 different expressions. Old Perth was one of the original brands founded in the home of blended whiskies along with Famous Grouse, Bells and Dewars.

Kenneth's son, Peter MacKay, joined the family business in 2010 after leaving college and today is heavily involved with the sales and promotion of Morrison and MacKay's brands all across Europe and Canada. Peter is a regular fixture at the Spirit of Speyside festival and thoroughly enjoys meeting whisky enthusiasts who travel to Speyside from all over the world for the festival. Although he is involved with the sales and promotion side of the business, Peter is qualified in distilling with the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and will be very open to answering any in depth questions the attendees of the tasting may have. During the tasting, Peter will give an honest and in depth insight into how an independent bottler operates and how these great whiskies make it from distillery to bottle. In April 2015, Peter was awarded the honour of being made a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Distillers in London and is one of the youngest men to be inducted.

WSD Image Peter 03

Peter will introduce an incredible variety of rare single cask whiskies from the Carn Mor range and also the new sherry cask and peaty editions of the Old Perth blended malts so this tasting should not be missed!

To book tickets click here.

Peter MacKay

Ailsa Bay - The WSD Team thoughts

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Having just received the new Ailsa Bay in today we decided to have our first team tasting session. Here are our tasting notes:


Vicky - Soft peat turning to freshly laid tarmac warming in the sun. Cardamon pods appear once it warms up.

Kat - Heather and damp moss. Rusty fence posts and used cooking oil.

Mike - Sweet gentle smoke, smouldering embers with a touch of solder. Singed peach skins becoming cinder toffee and hot dark treacle, caramel and well baked potato chips (scraps maybe)


Vicky - Sweet citrus peatiness leading to white pepper. The tarmac stays but in the background.

Kat - Soft toffee fudge bars, creamy with rich meat gravy finished with smoky leather. Sticky toffee pudding with a facefull of peat.

Mike - Sweet ash and coffee grinds.Becomes more toffee with time. Cinnamon, star anise and hot grill pan.


Mike - Cardamon and white pepper.


This is peatier than the ppm(s) would suggest but that is probably due to its youth which does show.  Mike and Vicky were not bowled over but expectations were high.  The youngest member of the team, Kat, by over 20 years (dam her) really liked it and the packaging so it is appealing to the market it is aimed at.

Aisla Bau Shop 2_s Aisla Bay Shop 1_s

An Honest Mistake so Fill your Boots (or Bars)

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Just a few days a go we had our main party to celebrate 10 years in business.  During the dinner I gave a speech.  No surprise there.  It was not a long speech.  Quite a bit of surprise there.  I spoke about what I had learned over the last 10 years.  One thing I mentioned is that I am not a good businessman.  This was no surprise to most people in the audience as they had met me before.  I listed a number of reasons why this was the case:  too honest; too principled; too lots of things.  One of them is getting confused.

Today we took delivery of the bulk of our exclusive Carn Mor Celebration of the Cask Craigellachie 2006 bottled to celebrate our 10th anniversary.  The invoice duly arrived as well.  I have got the price wrong.  We are currently selling it at £45 until the end of February.  This is a discount on the price I thought it was going to be sold at afterwards of £49.95.  Well here is the thing.  It will actually be on sale after this month at £54.95.  I could sneak the price up now but I am true to my word so I would suggest filling your boots now.  Even if you are coming to The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2016 and our "Last Drop Party" you wont be able to buy it cheaper!  You can always buy on-line and select to collect from the shop.  We will be happy to hold your money and your whisky until the festival or sooner if you are coming to Dufftown before then.  Of course, we also ship round the world!

Buy thus whisky now before my wife finds out what I have done and puts the price up!!!!


An Honest Mistake


WSD Winter Sale - Carn Mor Celebration of the Cask

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Here is the next set of additions to our Winter Sale in honour of our 10th Birthday.  Each one is 20% off

Product                                                                                                            Sale Price (Original Price)

  1. Carn Mor Celebration of the Cask Auchentoshan 1989 24 Years Old    £96.95    (£120.95)
  2. Carn Mor Celebration of the Cask Clynelish 1996 19 Years Old              £77.55    (£96.95)
  3. Carn Mor Celebration of the Cask Glenburgie 1988 26 Years Old          £101.50  (£126.95)
  4. Carn Mor Celebration of the Cask Longmorn 1991                                   £101.50  (£126.95)
  5. Carn Mor Celebration of the Cask Macallan 1987 28 Years old               £372.00  (£465.00)
  6. Carn Mor Celebration of the Cask Macallan 1989                                      £336.00  (£420.00)
  7. Carn Mor Celebration of the Cask Mortlach 1995 20 Years Old              £93.55    (£116.95)
  8. Carn Mor Celebration of the Cask Miltonduff 1988 25 Years Old           £101.50  (£126.95)
  9. Carn Mor Celebration of the Cask Strathmill 1992 23 Years Old            £77.55     (£96.95)
  10. Carn Mor Celebration of the Cask Tamnavullin 1991 24 Years Old        £79.95    (£99.95)

Celebration of the Cask Mortlach 1995 20

WSD Winter Sale - 'D' is for Douglas Laing

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We can't leave out our friends from Douglas Laing in our sale.  Here are 10 lines from them with 20% to celebrate our 10th birthday.

No.                                                                                     Sales Price     Full Price

  1.  Old Particular Bowmore 1996 18 Years Old               £79.95      £99.95
  2.  Old Particular Bowmore 1998 16 Years Old               £75.95      £94.95
  3.  Old Particular Bowmore 2000 15 Years Old               £79.95      £99.95
  4.  Old Particular Caol Ila 1996 18 Years Old                    £70.35      £87.95
  5.  Old Particular Glen Keith 1993 21 Years Old              £63.95       £79.95
  6.  Old Particular Glenallachie 1999 15 Years Old           £45.55       £56.95
  7.  Old Particular North British 1991 21 Years Old          £62.36       £77.95
  8.  Old Particular Royal Lochnagar 1997 17 Years Old   £54.35       £67.95
  9.  Old Particular Speyside 1996 18 Years Old                £59.15      £73.95
  10.   Xtra Old Particular Port Ellen 1982 34 Years Old     £744.00    £930.00

Old Particular Bowmore 1998 16

  1. XOP Port Ellen 32