Here is the line-up that Berry Bros & Rudd's Douglas MacIvor will be showing at his tasting: BOS Clynelish 1997, BOS Craigellachie 1991, BOS Glenlivet 1973, BOS Bowmore 1994, BOS Bunnahabhain 1990 and Blue Hangar 6th Release. High class whiskies all round.
The Wemyss line up is now all agreed for their tasting on 29th Sep. We will start with a Gin & Ginger ale using their new spiced gin - you know we like to be different. The whisky tasting will be Hive 12, Strawberry Granache (Glen Scotia 1991), Driftwood (Bunnahbhain 1997), Lemon Sorbet (Cragganmore 1989) and Fresh Fruit Sorbet (Clynelish 1997). I have been lucky enough to try all these whiskies and they are absolute crackers.
At this tasting we are likely to be looking at cask samples from the next bottlings from Adelphi. We understand those attending will be the first to try these whiskies.
Monday 1st October 2012
13:00 (1hr 30 mins) - Whisky Tasting: Duncan Taylor
The first half of the tasting will look at 3 whiskies from the Octave range including a sample of the pre-Octave whisky: Bunnahabhain 1979 33YO, Craigellachie 2000 12YO, & Glen Moray 1991 20YO. The second half the tasting will look at the new Big Smoke 46 and 60. And if that is not enough the event will close with a cocktail demonstration. This is going to be great! 15:00 (1hr 30 mins) - Whisky Tasting: Carn Mor
17:30 (1hr 30 mins) - Whisky Tasting: Cadenheads
The whiskies for the Cadenhead's tasting are: Caperdonich Silent 1977 35 Years Old, Convalmore 1977 35 Years Old, Invergordon 1991 21 Years Old, Banff 1976 36 Years Old, Mortlach 1992 20 Years Old, Vatted Islay 1991 21 Years Old and Glengoyne 1996 16 Years Old. That is a big line-up..... And gentlemen in Scotland now abed or on a bus shall think themselves accursed they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap!!!
After reading Ã¢â‚¬ËœLlamas in your glove compartmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ by Spearmint Honeybadger, I headed to Dufftown. Bereft of camelid perplexity, the Spirit of Speyside Whisky festival was just what I needed and after several days of great whisky, food and music, here is my account of it. Once again, this report is not a definitive guide and may contain factual errors, for which I apologize in advance. As always, tasting notes are subjective and comment is added from experts present during note taking. To shorten the report, I refer the reader to previous reports and tastings when a whisky re-appears and have also assumed the reader is familiar with 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 was, literally, one drop and whiskies were 40% abv, if the strength is not otherwise indicated.
Mates of the Museum
What better way to warm up for the festival than with the Ã¢â‚¬ËœMates of the MuseumÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ on Thursday night? This brought together old friends and new over a few civilized drams and a nosing contest to win a bottle of whisky and proved to be a great evening for all present.
Strathisla Ã¢â‚¬ËœStraight from the caskÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ tour
On Friday morning, I headed to Strathisla distillery in Keith Ã¢â‚¬â€œ home of Chivas Regal Ã¢â‚¬â€œ for the limited edition Ã¢â‚¬ËœStraight from the cask tourÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ where our young guide, Rachel, would take us round.
As we warmed up with Chivas Regal 12 year old, Rachel noted that Strathisla can claim to be the oldest working Scotch whisky distillery, being licensed in 1786, bought by Chivas in 1950 then bought by Pernod Ricard in 2002. The Chivas blends gained a royal warrant in 1843 enabling them to call their products Ã¢â‚¬ËœRoyalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ or Ã¢â‚¬ËœRegalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and, historically, used Strathisla as a component for years before buying the distillery.
Strathisla uses 5.1 tons of unpeated malt per mash. One wash back is made from larch and the rest from Oregon pine. The river Isla runs past the distillery and the water is used in cooling but the water used for whisky is taken from the Broomhill spring. Four squat stills produce a heavy, full spirit.
Interestingly, the last coal-fired still ran in 1992 and the stills are now steam-heated. Neighbouring distillery Glen Keith has not produced for years but work is ongoing on the site to bring it back on stream and steam is used from there to power the stills at Strathisla which has the capacity to make 2.4 million litres per year. Unusually, Strathisla has two pagoda roofs, built simply because the owners could and a water wheel is visible outside allowing cooling water to return to the river without damaging the wildlife.
Between 5 and 10 per cent of production is bottled as single malt with the rest going to the deluxe Chivas Regal and Royal Salute blends and, as we viewed the Royal Salute vault in the warehouse for cask owners, we tasted the 12 year old malt. (In fact, even miniature bottles of Strathisla are no longer available).
After finishing our tour, Rachel introduced us to the Ã¢â‚¬ËœCask Strength EditionÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ range, exclusive to visitorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s centres at Chivas distilleries. These 50cl bottles are released in small batches that differ in strength and the whisky tasted here may not necessarily be the edition available to buy though the quality of these whiskies is hard to surpass and very little water, if any, was needed.
Scapa 16, at 60.9%abv, smelled of peach syrup and vanilla and was exceptionally smooth. The taste was of caramel, spice and salt while water opened a little cocoa and chocolate before a long, warm finish. By contrast, Longmorn 14, at 59.6%abv, had a creamy, malty and honeyed nose and some cereal to taste along with light golden honey and a vanilla and peppery finish. Strathisla 15, at 55.4%abv, had hazelnut chocolate spread and hay aromas with toffee and nutty flavours and a slightly prickly finish before we closed with two whiskies associated with the Ballantines blends.Glenburgie 15, at 54.6%abv, was from a refill bourbon cask with a lovely nose of apples and fizzy chew bars. The middle was light, fruity and creamy and the finish long and delicate while a Miltonduff 18, at 51.3%abv, had both Edinburgh rock and Irn Bru on the nose and a taste halfway between oranges and marmalade that gives way to a long, dry and sweet finish.
A bonus dram came in the form of 1980 Glenugie, a distillery from Peterhead that closed in 1983, long before our guide was even born and was bottled at 52.1%abv as part of the Ã¢â‚¬ËœDeoch an DorasÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ series, taken from demolished distilleries. (Also available is 1973 Inverleven, from Dumbarton.) Matured in a sherry cask, there was the smell of rich fruitcake and a taste of coffee and chocolate with an incredibly long finish. This was the first Ã¢â‚¬ËœI was thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ moment of the festival and anyone who is able to obtain a bottle from this range can consider themselves to have done very well indeed.
All that remains is to thank Rachel and the team at Strathisla for a tour that was the stuff of legend and to recommend that every whisky lover take this limited edition tour at least once.
Gordon and MacPhailÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Secret Stills
Before the first Whisky Shop Dufftown (WSD) tasting, owner Mike Lord, made his health and safety announcements in sing-a-long fashion, complete with accompanying hand gestures. (Mike is a legend, having been in fifty fights to the death and losing only three of them though his last outing, surprisingly, ended in a draw.) After that, Mike Patterson from Gordon and MacPhail (G&M) presented five whiskies from the six available in the Ã¢â‚¬ËœSecret stillsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ range, all bottled at 45%abv and non chill-filtered. This range has whisky from three Japanese-owned distilleries and three others that can reasonably be described as Ã¢â‚¬ËœclassicÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. The labeling contains a geographical clue to the identity of the distillery for the knowledgeable reader and drinker and is included in brackets in this report. (Not featured but also available is an Ã¢â‚¬ËœEdinburgh maltÃ¢â‚¬â„¢).
A 1991 (Clydebank) Lowland 3.5 had been in refill sherry casks that left a grassy and floral nose with some syrupy notes and a soft finish making it something of an aperitif in style. By contrast, a 1966 Speyside 2.2 (Ballindalloch Castle Estate) had come from 3 casks and had some light sherry and a hint of smoke on the nose as well as a light, floral taste with a dry, fruity and very long finish. Mike Patterson thought this was one to savour and the reader who obtains a bottle is in for a memorable treat.
The Ã¢â‚¬ËœSecret StillsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ series has been around for some time and Mike recalled an encounter with a butler who had found his masterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bottle had turned cloudy and the clouds would not disappear. Analysis showed that a naughty ghillie had diluted it to 28%abv, hoping not to get found out for drinking someone elseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s whisky.
Moving on, a 1988 Highland 6.6 (Oldmeldrum) cask, had coconut, toffee and mints aromas with a light peat taste and chewiness before some light smoke and a very long sweetness to end with. Having had the 6.4 and 6.5 editions, I recommend that no home should be without one of the series. Although not immediately gripping, few bottles are as moreish so pour a large dram and relax.
A 1986 1.2 (Isle of Skye) came from first fill sherry casks giving it smoke, sherry and fudge on the nose. The taste was chewy with raisins, treacle and fudge again with smoke and pepper appearing at the finish. Apparently, the first bottling of this, 1955 vintage, has acquired legendary status. Interestingly, Mike says that no new version of any whisky is released by G&M until the previous release has sold out. We ended with a 1999 Islay 4.16 (Lochindaal), matured in first fill bourbon and, true to that distilleryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s style, smelled of toffee and mints and tasted mostly of smoked fish.
Alchemy in the future: Adelphi Tasting with Alex and Antonia Bruce
With exciting news of AdelphiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s planned new distillery, the opening of their new bottling hall and the return of brother Alex to Dufftown, Antonia Bruce introduced the next series of magic potions, with official tasting notes by writer and future film star, Charles Maclean.
1988 Balmenach, at 54.2%abv, was beautiful and easy to drink neat. Fizzy sweets and apple sauce were apparent when nosing and the taste was creamy with almonds and the finish silky. Coming from a refill sherry cask, 1995 Clynelish, at 55.8%abv, smelled of tangy fruit and wax. The middle had coffee, treacle, salt and chocolate and the finish was exceptionally long, with a drop of water revealing smoke, pepper and salt.
As we tasted, Alex recounted the tale of the distilleryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s cast iron spirit receiver being removed and with it, the characteristic waxiness and it only returned when the receiver was reinstated.Adelphi had recently been given planning permission for a new distillery to be built in Ardnamurchan, in the far west highlands. A very good water source, with 3 holding lochs, was found for the distillery, a key point as the areaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s high rainfall does drop away very quickly. A biomass boiler is planned as; otherwise, fuel costs would be prohibitive. Production will hopefully commence in the autumn of 2013 and an Ã¢â‚¬ËœArdnamurchanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ range is planned with future Fascadale, Laudale and Liddesdale coming from the distillery Ã¢â‚¬â€œ these being slightly smoky but not Islay-like in style. Local peat will be legally used for the first time and there will be a traditional maltings. It is also hoped that alliances can be made with the relatively close by Oban, Talisker, Tobermory and Ben Nevis distilleries as the local ferry service is under threat.
2000 Aberlour, 55.8%abv, from a refill sherry cask, had licorice, cinnamon and hot toffee sauce aromas with tastes of acid drop sweets as well as toffee and sherry with wedding cake and a light smoke to finish. My question Ã¢â‚¬Ëœis Aberlour like gold dust for an independent bottler?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ was met with the answer Ã¢â‚¬Ëœer, yes!Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ Older casks are hard to get but a few younger ones are around.
Fascadale (batch 3), at 46%abv, is now a 12 year old Highland Park taken, in this case, from 5 casks, 3 of which were first fill Jack Daniels barrels. There was Vanilla tablet and smoke to nose and the marvelously sweet taste was like both strawberry and vanilla ice cream with some fishy notes that Charles Maclean, appearing in the upcoming Ken Loach film Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe AngelÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ShareÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, describes as rollmop herring. (I was just pleased to get the taste of fish, to be honest.)
A serendipitous finale came with 1998 Bunnahabhain, at 55.2%abv. This had been labeled the day before at the new bottling hall in Fife and had been grabbed by accident, as the plan had been to feature a 1997 heavily peated expression from the same distillery. However, this sherry monster had managed to clog the bottling hall filter with sediment and had the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœtreacle so thick you could dance on the top itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ characteristic of previous Adelphi Bunnahabhains. Awesomely sweet and tasting of rich dark chocolate orange, there was leather, smoke and treacle again to end with. Most of the cask yield was bound for Taiwan but a few bottles were available and, for those who missed out, other heavily sherried bottles would come later.
Saturday Morning Whisky Fair
Highlights of the fair include: The new Benriach 12 yr (Sherry matured), at 46%abv, had been vatted together from Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez casks. Originally made for Taiwan, this was the fourth bottling and was surprisingly light, tasting of Turkish Delight.
Adelphi Liddesdale 18 yr, at 46%abv, contained some 20 year old whisky. Lighter than the previous batch, it tasted of treacle, syrup and licorice. Alex Bruce finds it cleaner than before and thought batch 1 had sulphur notes though he views sulphur as fine as long as it is in balance with other flavours. Both of us did wonder, though, how it got such a high score in the whisky bible, as the writer cannot stand such notes.
A ConnoisseurÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Choice 1999 Balmenach, at 43%abv, was deliciously creamy, complex and spicy while 2001 Tamdhu, at 58%abv, was from a refill sherry cask. So smooth that it can be consumed neat, this had satisfying wedding cake flavours.
The elegant Tomintoul 12 yr Ã¢â‚¬ËœPort WoodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ had fruity sweetness throughout having had 20 months finishing.
Old Malt Cask (OMC) 1993 Glen Keith, at 50%abv, had lemon and lime citrus notes and was marvelously sweet offering a rare chance to taste whisky from this soon to be revived distillery.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœLadder HillsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 18 yr old, 58.3%abv, from Dreamdrams.co.uk offered an extremely rare opportunity to taste whisky from a popular Dufftown distillery that had 1% addition of whisky from a mighty neighbour added. Very complex and smooth, characteristic warm honey and light smoke were the prominent tastes. A Highland Park 21 yr, at 53.3%, was delicate and honey-sweet.
Kilkerran (batch 3), at 46%abv, is work-in-progress malt from the Glengyle distillery in Campbeltown. This was a fascinating dram with a taste that hovered between a young Talisker and a young Islay in taste. By contrast, Springbank distilleryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Longrow C.V., at 46%abv, was sweet and tasted of smoked fish.
Continuing the peat was Benriach 17 yr Ã¢â‚¬ËœSeptendicimÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, at 46%abv. Containing whisky from second and third fill casks, it was sweet, retaining the classic Islay character of other peaty Benriachs. (The 21 year old Ã¢â‚¬ËœAuthenticusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ has been discontinued and replace by the 25 year old of the same name.)
Finally, Adelphi 1997 Bunnahabhain, at 57.1%abv, was deliciously peaty in taste and, unusually for peated Bunnahabhain, had replicated the south Islay style. Alex Bruce noted that the taste and aroma of peanuts is often be detected from a Bunnahabhain such as this.
Whyte and Mackay with Steven McConnachie
We began with Tamnavulin 12 yr, now back online after being mothballed between 1995 and 2007 with only intermittent production during those years. A charming dram, this had grassy, hay and peach syrup notes though festival regular Danny Maguire found that it had less linseed oil character about it than of old. (It was good to see Danny again, now happily recovered from being shipwrecked in the Nevada desert.) Steven does recommend not adding water as this gives it a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœwet raincoatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ taste.
MackinlayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬ËœOld and RareÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ malt, henceforth known as Ã¢â‚¬ËœShackleton maltÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, at 47.3%abv, has been the subject of much press coverage and contains whiskies of between 8 and 30 years old, including Glen Mhor, a long closed Inverness distillery. This is a recreation of the malt whisky that Sir Ernest Shackleton took 25 cases of on his 1907 attempt to reach the South Pole. (He got within 100 miles, the closest anyone had ever been till then and turned back). An informative video showed how the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœliqueur whiskyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ brand began and made its name before being taken to the Antarctic where, a century later, two cases were found with ten bottles still in tact. Painstaking analysis from master blender Richard Paterson allowed strength to be determined and flavours ascertained and recreated. 50000 bottles were released and nearly all have been sold so, should readers obtain one, they are recommended to sip it slowly while reading Roland HuntfordÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s account of ShackletonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s heroic adventures. The whisky had fruit salad chew bars on the nose while being slightly sharp but still sweet with a crisp, long and peppery finish. This whisky also grabbed Danny who once lost a hand of poker despite holding 4 aces. (His opponent had 5 aces.)
Melting a square of dark chocolate on the tongue should, in this writersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ view, precede a taste of the new release, Dalmore Cigar Malt, at 44%abv. The nose was of coffee, Bovril, exotic wine with tastes of toffee, honey, orange and spices. This premium whisky had been matured in 3 types of casks: ex-bourbon, 30 year old Matusalem oloroso sherry casks from Gonzalez Byass and premier cru Cabernet Sauvignon wine barriques and is older than the previous bottling though no age statement is present.
1996 vintage Dalmore Cromartie, at 45%abv, is a limited release of 7500 bottles and Steven gets almonds and spice on the nose while I found the taste quite chewy and with lots of chocolate orange. Also watch out for the new Ã¢â‚¬ËœConstellationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ range and for a 30 year old release that is on the way.
Jura Prophecy, at 46%abv, is made from barley with 55ppm of peat. The packaging tells the story of a prophecy that accurately foretold the last Campbell would leave Jura with only one eye. With lovely had toffee and peat to nose, the taste was of smoked fish in a rich sauce with a long, soothing and spicy finish making it ideal to have when burning a wicker man though who readers put in it is obviously up to them.
The final Wemyss Whisky session with Susan Colville
Presenting her last Dufftown tasting with Wemyss Whiskies was Susan Colville who, along with her beloved tree frogs, would be moving on to pastures new after this. Each bottling of single malt, bar one, was 46%abv and, as usual, named after the dominant flavour present. My tasting notes are, unusually, free of exotic wildlife of the kind that drives Susan round the twist.
The Ã¢â‚¬ËœHiveÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 12 yr blended malt replaces the old Ã¢â‚¬ËœSmooth GentlemanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ bottling and contains 16 malts with 50% coming from Glen Moray. Susan believes that Glen MorayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Ëœhouse styleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ is honey and thinks the distillery is underrated with this release being an easy-drinking everyday dram. With honey, syrup and many childhood sweets on the nose and Irn Bru on the taste, this was a must for all with a sweet tooth.
1989 Ã¢â‚¬ËœRum and RaisinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Tullibardine had been matured in a refill bourbon cask and is what Susan believes Tullibardine could be but chooses not to be. The nose was between rum and raisin and vanilla ice cream with some delicate honey flavours before a short peppery and spicy finish.
1982 Ã¢â‚¬ËœWinter SpiceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Teaninich, at 44.4%abv, had Susan getting dessert spices such as cinnamon and ginger and she described it as Ã¢â‚¬Ëœheavy and delicateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ at the same time. An audience member found tastes of tropical fruits and spices and the finish was short but very punchy.
Reappearing from Spring 2011 was 1990 Ã¢â‚¬ËœMocha SpiceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Dalmore that invited comparisons with the official releases presented in the previous masterclass and we closed with 1991 Bunnahabhain Ã¢â‚¬ËœHoney SpiceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, reviewed in the Autumn 2011 report. A silky dram, the reader is invited to compare this to the Adelphi Liddesdale, which comes from the same distillery and is of similar age.
Tannochbrae Gala Dinner with Robin Laing
Saturday night in Dufftown brought another fantastic feast at the Tannochbrae restaurant where Allan and Susie served up some more fantastic fare accompanied by whiskies from Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) and music from the great Robin Laing who opened with Bladnoch 18 yr 50.48 Ã¢â‚¬Ëœcapering on a river bankÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, at 54.6%abv, from a refill bourbon cask while showing some society magazines with pictures of Amazonian tree frogs that reminded him of my comments on the subject. Also tasted were Benrinnes 22 yr 36.56, at 53.6% Ã¢â‚¬ËœMagic Carpet RideÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, Bowmore 20 yr, at 49.4%abv, Ã¢â‚¬Ëœmargarita and a cigar in one glassÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ (1 of 51 bottles) and Port Charlotte 127.19, at 66%abv, Ã¢â‚¬Ëœa hairy chested claymore-wielding dramÃ¢â‚¬â„¢.New songs revealed by Robin were Ã¢â‚¬ËœTaking Johnnie Walker homeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and Ã¢â‚¬ËœUgly BettyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Ã¢â‚¬â€œ about the Lomond still at Bruichladdich used for making Botanist gin. One final note, though not a fan of cocktails, a long, refreshing drink known as Ã¢â‚¬ËœMonkey MojitoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ can be made using Monkey Shoulder blended malt whisky.
WSD independent bottlerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s challenge Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the rest of whisky
Deviating from the format of previous challenges, no brand ambassadors spoke and all the whiskies entered were presented by Mike Lord, a man who laughs with impunity at the laws of science and once shot 3 men dead with an egg whisky. (I know this because I was one of those men.)
10 whiskies were tasted and, to save space, the highlights are included below though this is not to imply that those not described at length are in any way bad.
A delicious CadenheadÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 1992 Brackla (rum finished), at 55.9%abv, had rum and brown sugar on the nose with thick, heavy and strong caramel and treacle. As we discussed this dram, the subject of a petard came up and some frantic Ã¢â‚¬ËœgooglingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ from Susan and Kate Wright revealed that it was a military mine that could blow up, hoisting the man who lit it. Mike also noted the number of brand ambassadors who were supposed to come to the festival and had not and said that gathering them together was like Ã¢â‚¬ËœNailing a herd of jellied cats to a barn wallÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Ã¢â‚¬â€œ readers are forgiven for shuffling away at this point.
Duncan TaylorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 1979 Cameronbridge, at 48.8%abv, had the nose and taste of well-aged bourbon and banana chew bars with a delicate, long and honey/smoke finish.
By contrast, Wemyss Ã¢â‚¬ËœHoney SpiceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ was a particularly dark colour from its sherry maturation and the reader is recommended to pour a large measure and roll on the tongue for as long as possible for best results.
1990 Berry Brothers and Rudd Bunnahabhain, at 46%abv, smelled like golden toast and tasted of syrup and treacle with a hint of smoke on the long, peppery finish.
As we moved on, Mike floated the possibility of a hog roast for the autumn festival along with a small wicker man though who is to be burned in it has yet to be discussed.
We then tasted a Carn Mor 1994 Highland Park, from the Scottish Liqueur Centre had mint and some light smoke with burnt sugar notes.
Moving to Islay, AdelphiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 1983 Caol Ila, at 54%abv, had its smoke build gently before toffee emerged on the nose while rolling on the tongue revealed considerable smoke, pepper, chewiness and warmth.
Douglas LaingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 1980 Old and rare Caol Ila was more restrained to nose with a little smoke and vanilla but did have some big maritime salt, smoke and bourbon tastes while Carn MorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 1996 Bowmore came from a refill sherry cask and had very heavy smoke, pepper tastes with Murray mints, milk chocolate and salt aromas.
Also tasted were Amrut Ã¢â‚¬ËœFusionÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ from India and G&M 1995 Brackla.
Diageo debut from David Sinclair
Presenting some of the lesser-known whiskies from whisky giants Diageo and making his first appearance at Dufftown was David Sinclair who had previously been bar manager at the prestigious Gleneagles Hotel.
Each whisky was tasted blind before the identity was revealed and we opened with the Singleton of Glendullan, aimed at the American market. Susan Colville reckoned that bottling at 43%abv would have improved it but it was still sweet with citrus and fizzy sweet notes and also lightly fruity with vanilla, although the slightly smoky finish was short. 1 of 636 bottles, the Glendullan 14 year old Ã¢â‚¬ËœmanagerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s choiceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, at 58.7%abv, had brilliant pineapple, fruit syrup and golden delicious apples on the nose with vanilla and fruit tastes while the finish was extremely long and warm.
Mortlach 12 year old Ã¢â‚¬ËœmanagerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s choiceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, at 57.1%abv, came from a bourbon cask and made this writer ask if the natural home of Mortlach is really the bourbon cask, rather than the sherry casks that have proved so popular over the years. Unusually inspired, I found the nose had bourbon, cream, vanilla, bananas, lemon and pear drops while the taste was light and delicate and the finish sweet with hints of spice. This unusually fantastic nose made it the Scarlett Johansson of whisky award winner for the festival.
A 12 year old Ã¢â‚¬ËœFriends of the Classic MaltsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Talisker, at 45.8%abv, had some light sherry and fruity notes and was delightfully sweet with a dry, long with only hints of TaliskerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s characteristic pepper and seaweed.
Oban 18 yr, at 43%abv, bottled for America had orange cream and spicy notes and a velvety mouth feel that gave way to light smoke and a malty dryness. (David finds this richer than the 14 yr bottling.)As David accepted a big round of applause, the question Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ Did you ever get that response at the bar?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ came from Mike Lord who fondly remembers the time he held 5 aces at poker. (His sad opponent only had 4).
Robin Laing Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe Whisky CoastÃ¢â‚¬â„¢
Presenting SMWS whiskies Arran 121.52, at 59.9%abv, Glen Scotia 93.49, at 57.8%abv, Berry Brothers and Rudd 1994 Bowmore, at 46%abv, his own port- matured Bruichladdich, covered in the Spring 2011 report and 2001 OMC Talisker, at 50%abv, RobinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s theme for the night was Ã¢â‚¬Ëœthe whisky coastÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ which had been the name for a brave but unsuccessful attempt at a tourist venture in recent years. The Bowmore tasted of characteristic mint and peat while the Talisker had equally characteristic smoke, seaweed and pepper that built slowly and steadily to an impressive crescendo and a very long finish.
Talisker had been a favourite of RobinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s as a young man and the distillery is the subject of a song from his current album Ã¢â‚¬ËœWhisky for breakfastÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. Other tunes played included Ã¢â‚¬ËœDundee CatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, Ã¢â‚¬ËœIsle of ArranÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, Ã¢â‚¬ËœBlack ArtÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, Ã¢â‚¬ËœCampbeltown LochÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ to accompany the Glen Scotia, Ã¢â‚¬ËœUgly BettyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, Ã¢â‚¬ËœBlack ArtÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and Ã¢â‚¬ËœAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢BunadhÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and there were stories of Jim McEwan, Ã¢â‚¬ËœBlack artÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, Heidi Klum and a German whisky anorak, Bowmore being attacked by an American warship, Eddi Reader and dinner at Macallan before Robin noted that a collector is simply Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ a sad barsteward who doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have enough special occasions in his lifeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢.
As usual, highlights from RobinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s performance are available on both Facebook and www.youtube.com.
Douglas Laing presented by Paul McKendrick
Douglas LaingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Jan Beckers was unavailable, having been cordoned off in mysterious circumstances by the police, so his place was ably Paul McKendrick, appearing for the first time at a festival in Dufftown.
A 1978 Clan Denny Port Dundas, at 54.2%, from a refill hogshead had a rich bourbon nose and taste and was wonderfully smooth and velvety with an unusually long finish for a grain, according to Paul. An exceptionally fruity 1999 Provenance Mannochmore, at a standard 46%abv, came from a third-fill cask, which Douglas Laing think allows distillery character to show, Paul describing it as a breakfast whisky.
OMC 2001 Glenlivet, at a standard 50%abv, had been in a sherry cask that Paul believed had added another dimension making it warm and rich with coffee and treacle toffee notes and a long, sweet finish.
1976 OMC Imperial, from a refill sherry cask, was the next Ã¢â‚¬ËœI was thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ moment. This year, according to the late Norwegian expert Per Lovlie, was ImperialÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s finest, producing their best ever distillate. Given the 70Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s vintage, the recurring Ã¢â‚¬ËœWicker ManÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ themes and the unusual but attractive nose, this was the Ingrid Pitt of whisky. Sweet, floral, creamy with hints of spice, fruit, vanilla and wine, it had a very long finish.
2003 Provenance Ardmore demonstrated, in PaulÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s view, the difference between highland and island peat. This tasted of biscuits and smoke with cream and smoke to end with.
1996 OMC Caol Ila came from what is now ScotlandÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fifth largest distillery. Ideal for rolling on the tongue, this full-bodied dram was lightly smoky with maritime salt and a surprisingly soft finish. Paul thinks that 15 years is the peak for an Islay whisky as more age leads the cask to dominate.
The Boss at Duncan Taylor
Euan Shand of Duncan Taylor (DTC) presented a virtually unique perspective at this festival: that of a company chief. The entire tasting was an Ã¢â‚¬ËœI was thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ moment and 90 utterly gripping minutes followed as Euan recounted his humble beginnings as a cooper at Glendronach distillery, through his years building up his own businesses with tales of youthful adventures with a valinch, jet-lagged tastings in Japan in front of a polite audience, Americans unaware of cask evaporation, laying down his own casks, fighting Ã¢â‚¬ËœRed BullÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, his aversion to colour in whisky, possible plans for a Huntly distillery that still has planning permission until December 2012 and a sad near miss in attempting to acquire Imperial distillery.
Black Bull 12, at 50%abv, demonstrated dependable deliciousness and kept us going as Euan told the story of Abe Rosenberg who had owned a huge collection of casks. Paying tribute to his vision, Euan told how the late Mr. Rosenberg had laid down second and third fill casks with the view to them maturing for many decades, perhaps knowing that he would never see these casks bottled in his lifetime
1998 Ã¢â‚¬ËœDimensionsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Dailuaine, at 46%abv, was the first in a series of casks picked by Mark Watt, sadly unavailable after a drunken prank went wrong and he was accidentally mailed to Timbuktu. However, MarkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s absence, according to Mike Lord, meant that he was saved the expense of a large quantity of Guinness. No home should be without this masterful dram with its real bakery smell and buttered toast sweetness.
90 percent of DTC casks mature at the distillery, something that amuses Euan as he thinks of Macduff maturing in a tiny warehouse while the proprietorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s casks mature at sister distillery Royal Brackla in Nairn.
Euan is a big enthusiast for grain whisky and commented on the extensive stock still available to DTC, noting that one cask will reach 50 years old in 2013. 1978 North British grain, at 54.4%abv, had soft bourbon on the nose with a velvety vanilla taste. Grain spirit is bland and neutral and a good thing, in his view, as it gives a blank canvas to work with as all the flavour comes from the cask.
1995 Ã¢â‚¬ËœDimensionsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Imperial, at 53.8%abv, was of such quality that I drank it neat to get vanilla, cream, spice and pepper notes and Euan is one of the few who think that Imperial may yet produce again. His preference is for bourbon casks over sherry as he feels that sherry overpowers distillery character.
As Euan ran through the ranges available from DTC such as Ã¢â‚¬ËœPeerlessÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, Ã¢â‚¬ËœRarestÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, Battlehill and Octave (the viagra of casks), we tasted 1985 Glen Elgin, at 46.1%abv, and Euan recounted selling 5 Ã¢â‚¬ËœRarestÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ bottles in as many minutes for a 5 figure sum in Singapore and decided to retire to the bar for the day. This inspirational whisky had refreshers and wham bar sweets on the nose with cream, fruit and vanilla flavours. Euan thinks the distillery produces Ã¢â‚¬Ëœtop class blending whiskyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and reckons that Elgin whiskies such as Longmorn, Benriach, Glenlossie and Glen Elgin are very close in character, a fascinating viewpoint.
Revealing that he hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t tasted any of the whiskies, nor read any tasting notes, Euan invited us to describe the preview of the next batch of Black Bull 40, admitting he would like to know the recipe for this whisky, entirely blended by Mark Watt and of such high quality, he has decided to keep Mark on at the company.
A civilized Ã¢â‚¬ËœDrams PartyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ closed the festival and Mike announced the winners in each Ã¢â‚¬ËœchallengeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ category as Adelphi 1969 Glenrothes and DTC 1979 Cameronbridge, both of which won by a mile. (The best tasting notes included Ã¢â‚¬ËœA pretend whisky made in a bucketÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and Ã¢â‚¬Ëœlike the doormat of the Whisky Shop Dufftown).
Finally, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœCoffee PotÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, to Vicky and Kirsten at the Whisky Shop, to both Claus and Claire for the proofreading, to Rene and Glo, and everyone involved with the Ã¢â‚¬ËœMates of the MuseumÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ plus Alan and Susie at the Tannochbrae.IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m off to write my first novel, which will be titled Ã¢â‚¬ËœPunctilious CatnipÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and published under the pseudonym Ramrod Blancmange the third and hopefully, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll see you again at the autumn festival.
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.
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.
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.
This is the first in a series of blogs on the festival.
During this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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, CadenheadsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the flavours in whisky are as broad as peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s palettes are different.
This year, luckily for once, we had very clear winners in each category!
We had 7 entries in the Speyside category:
Adelphi Glenrothes 1969 42 Years Old
Benromach 2001 Cask Strength entered by Gordon & MacPhail
BerryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ BerryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Glenlivet 1973 38 Years Old
Second Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Douglas Laing Old & Rare Glen Grant 1985 25 Years Old
First Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 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 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Douglas Laing Rare Old Caol Ila 1980 30 Years Old
Second Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Wemyss Bunnahabhain 1991 Ã¢â‚¬Å“Honey SpiceÃ¢â‚¬
First Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 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 18Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s as was the Carn Mor Highland Park and Carn Mor Bowmore who share the prize for the under 18Ã¢â‚¬â„¢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 OwnerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Award (thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 BerryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 BerryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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.
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.
We are launching our programme events for the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2011. Below is a list of all the tastings that we are putting on you can book them by clicking here, going to spiritofspeyside.com or booking the individual links below. We have a packed programme with some old friends and some new ones. It's going to be great!
For all our events over 18's only please. Please ensure you have read our terms and conditions . If you want to contact us about this event please email on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone on +44(0)1340 821 097.
The WSD Indepdent Bottlers challenge (Every day of the festival, 10 am to 5pm in the shop)
Come to The Whisky Shop Dufftown and try whiskies from Speyside and the Rest of Whisky entered by independent bottlers and vote for your favourite.
The Whisky Shop Dufftown has laid down its challenge again to Independent Bottlers - who has the best whisky? We have two categories: Speyside; and the Rest of Whisky. Come along to the shop any time we are open during the festival, try the whiskies in a category for £4 at your leisure and vote for your favourite. It shouldn't take more than an hour. There is also a prize for the best tasting note.
Cafe St James' Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 1 Bacon Roll and 4 Nips (Evert day of the festival, 10 am to 12pm in St James' Hall)
Ever wondered what the best single malt is to go with a bacon roll? This is your chance to find out.
One of the highlights of last year's festivals was the bacon rolls, haggis and stovies provided by the crew at the St James' Hall. This festival they will again be serving breakfast rolls during the morning and a light meal from lunch time onwards. And from 10 am to midday each day you can have a bacon roll with 4 nips of different single malt whisky! The only down side is that you will be asked to vote for which whisky goes best with a bacon roll - one of the two unsolved mysteries of the world! Rules apply: unsmoked bacon, no egg, no sauce - this is a professional test!!!
Cafe St James' - Haggis, Neeps & Tatties + 4 nips (Evert day of the festival, 12pm to 2pm in St James' Hall)
Ever wondered what the best single malt is to go with Haggis, Neeps and Tatties? This is your chance to find out.
One of the highlights of last year's festivals was the bacon rolls, haggis and stovies provided by the crew at the St James' Hall. This festival they will again be serving breakfast rolls during the morning and a light meal from lunch time onwards. And from midday to 2pm each day you can have Haggis, Neeps and Tatties with 4 nips of different single malt whisky! The only down side is that you will be asked to vote for which whisky goes best with the Haggis - one of the two unsolved mysteries of the world! Rules apply: no sauce, no beetroot - this is a professional test!!!
This is a chance to taste a selection of whiskies from Tullibardine distillery in the capable hands of one of their brand ambassadors.
Tullibardine Distillery nestles at the foot of the Ochil Hills in Perthshire, where the Highlands of Scotland begin. Its whisky is considered to be "eminently quaffable" and what better way can there be explore their range than in a tasting hosted by one the exciting members of the distillery team.
This whisky tasting features a selection of whiskies from Gordon & MacPhail, independent bottler, with Mike Patterson.
Gordon & MacPhail is an independent family owned and managed firm which has been bottling Single Malt Whiskies for over 116 years. From its humble beginnings as a retailer, Gordon and MacPhail has grown to become a diverse and dynamic company with a number of different business interests. Today the company is a retailer, wholesaler, exporter, bottler of Single Malt Scotch Whisky and distiller, owning Benromach Distillery in Forres.
Today Gordon & MacPhail is one of the most prolific independent bottlers with access to whisky from an incredible number of distilleries that are continually winning awards from across the whisky world. There will be 5 whiskies to taste from across the Gordon & MacPhail range. The tasting will be hosted by whisky expert Mike Patterson.
This whisky tasting will be of a selection of whiskies from independent bottler Adelphi hosted by Antonia Bruce.
Founded in 1826, the Adelphi Distillery is now Scotland's most acclaimed independent bottler of single casks of rare malt whisky. Remaining completely independent, Adelphi is able to offer bottlings from an extensive range of distilleries with Charles Maclean chairing their highly experienced nosing team in the pursuit of excellence.
Adelphi is one of the most highly regarded independent bottlers. Some say they perform some sort of alchemy and that they put the other whisky merchants to shame. All we know is that Antonia Bruce will take you through 5 fabulous whiskies at this always popular tasting.
Find the best independent bottling from the Speyside region in The WSD Challenge.
The Whisky Shop Dufftown has laid down its challenge again to Independent Bottlers - who has the best whisky? We have two categories: Speyside; and the Rest of Whisky.
In this tasting you will be able to try all of the entries from the independent bottlers in the Speyside category. Last year there was more than 8 entries. Some of the brand ambassadors from the companies entering will also be there to present their whiskies and answer your questions.
This is your chance to have a light haggis lunch with 5 whiskies in the company of Mike Lord as he takes a look at this Scottish national dish.
A Haggis is a very old Scottish dish, which combines meats, spices and oatmeal to create a very rich, unusual, but none the less delicious feast. The factual and historic description of Haggis is sometimes off-putting to people who have not tried it. Fortunately, modern techniques in the preparation and presentation of Haggis make it an acceptable delicacy to almost everyone's palate. In fact, it's simply delicious.
In this whisky tasting Mike Lord of The Whisky Shop Dufftown will take a whimsical look at the Haggis while you sample some with the traditional accompaniment of neeps and tatties and 5 whiskies from the current selection available from The WSD's own bottlings.
This whisky tasting is hosted by Steven McConnachie and features whiskies from several of Whyte & MacKay distilleries.
Founded on the docks of Glasgow in 1844, Whyte & Mackay has remained true to itself and its founders' pioneering spirit for over 160 years. In 1960 it bought Dalmore distillery and know also owns Fettercairn, Jura and Tamnavulin.
In this tasting Steven McConnachie of Whyte & MacKay will expertly steer you through a tasting of whisky from a selection of the distilleries from the Whyte & MacKay stable. It's still secret exactly what will be in the tasting as it will depend on the new whiskies that will be available at the time but those that have attended his tastings at previous festivals will know he is likely to bring something new, something rare and quite possibly something not yet released!
The Wemyss Family comes from Fife and have had a long standing passion for malt whisky and their connections with the industry date back to the turn of the 19th century when John Haig (founder of Haig's) built his first distillery on Wemyss land. Their range of hand crafted malts was conceived with the aim of making them more accessible and understandable using the taste and aromas of the individual whiskies to identify each bottling, rather than the distillery.
In this masterclass Susan Colville will take you through the latest whiskies Wemyss has bottled. Susan has worked for some of the most iconic independent whisky companies around. Her work has taken her around the world into many different markets. Her extensive experience and talent always come to the fore in her tastings. But she remains a Rothes' girl at heart.
The Whisky Shop Dufftown has laid down its challenge again to Independent Bottlers - who has the best whisky? We have two categories: Speyside; and the Rest of Whisky.
In this tasting you will be able to try all of the entries from the independent bottlers in the Rest of Whisky category. Last year there was more than 8 entries. Some of the brand ambassadors from the companies entering will also be there to present their whiskies and answer your questions.
In this tasting Martin Grant will take you through a selection of single malts from Glenmorangie and Ardbeg.
Every year during the Festival The Whisky Shop Dufftown showcases distilleries from outside of Speyside. In this tasting we cover two of the most iconic distilleries in the world of whisky, Glenmorangie and Ardbeg, in one tasting!
With the tallest stills, the most advanced approach to extra-maturation and a commitment to only ever using their casks twice, you could say Glenmorangie is striving for one thing - perfection. And in the world of Ardbeg, peat is important. For it is this soggy, unassuming matter which gives Ardbeg its famous flavour. Ardbeg is the PEATIEST and SMOKIEST of all the Islay malts, yet has a fruity floral sweetness and complexity to the spirit. Two very contrasting styles and the best of both worlds.
In this masterclass Martin Grant from the Moet Hennessy Group will take you through a selection of whiskies from both distilleries, Glenmorangie and Ardbeg. This is a tasting definitely not to be missed.
This whisky tasting is hosted by Mark Davidson of Cadenheads, independent bottler.
The firm of William Cadenhead Ltd, Wine and Spirit Merchants, was founded in 1842 and is Scotland's oldest independent bottler. The company was owned by the same family until taken over by J & A Mitchell & Co.Ltd in 1972, the proprietors of Springbank distillery. The name of Cadenhead is now a household name in the whisky world, and the present owners have expanded the Cadenhead business whilst still keeping the goals and traditional methods the firm began with in 1842.
This tasting will be hosted by the legendary Mark Davidson - the jolly toper himself. Expect fabulous whisky and all the information you can possibly need from Mark.
Diageo is the world's leading premium drinks business with an outstanding collection of beverage alcohol brands across spirits, beer and wine. Their Scotch collection ranges from the precious legacy of distilleries and operating sites all over Scotland, to the global icon of Johnnie Walker - the world's number one selling Blended Scotch Whisky.
In this tasting Donald Colville, Global Scotch Whisky Ambassador for Diageo's Malt Whiskies and Global Ambassador for Friends of the Classic Malts, will take a personal look at some of the lesser known expressions of single malts from Diageo. We cannoy say exactly which ones but you will be bragging about what you got to try!
Donald is a long time friend of the festival and The Whisky Shop Dufftown. He is also now a film star. Check out his whisky journey and learn more about the classic malts and how to properly wear a Manbag.
The Whisky Bard Robin Laing is one of Scotland's premier folk singer-song writer and will entertain with whisky
Whisky fanatic, superb song writer, singer and very funny man Robin Laing entertains and there will be 5 whiskies to help the evening's enjoyment. And even better many of his fabulous songs are whisky inspired. A highlight of every festival.
This whisky tasting brings a Japanese whisky experience to Speyside and focuses on SuntoryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s whiskies and is hosted by Tatsuya Minagaw.
Suntory's founder Shinjiro Torii began Japan's first whisky distillery on the outskirts of Kyoto in 1923 in the district of Yamazaki. In 1973 a further distillery was built in Hakushu at the foot of Mt. Kaikomagatake in Japan's Southern Alps. Suntory refined its techniques at these two distilleries to develop a variety of first-rate unblended whiskies, products such as the single malt whiskies Yamazaki and Hakushu, as well as Hibiki blended whisky.
From Yamazaki was born the surprising, delicate yet profound experience of a Japanese single malt. with its signature multi-layered taste is highly praised by whisky connoisseurs all over the world. Today, it is the "number-one" single malt whisky in Japan.
This tasting is hosted by Tatsuya Minagawa and will feature whiskies from Yamazaki, Hakushu & Hibiki. Tatsuya has worked on Speyside for many years and some may know him, his passion and knowledge of whisky from the Craigellachie Hotel and the Highlander Inn. Come and sample some of the best Japanese whisky right here on Speyside.
Whisky Tasting of the pick of the best from independent bottler Douglas Laing with Jan Becker.
Glasgow-based Douglas Laing & Co is an independent bottler and blender headed by brothers, Fred and Stewart Laing, who proved the value of nepotism when they succeeded their father, Fred Douglas who founded the company in 1948.
Those at Douglas Laing regard themselves very much as a company of sensitive souls - artisans, if you like - steadfastly creating a quality selection of the finest Scotch whisky. Their care and devotion has earned themselves an enviable reputation at home and abroad for style and taste.
Jan Beckers is the Malt Ambassador for Douglas Laing and has spent many years in the whisky industry refining his knowledge and skill. He is also an accomplished chef which emphasises his fine palate and wide sensory knowledge that are key to his job. In this tasting he will take you through a selection of Douglas Laing's latest bottlings.
A chance to sample 5 whiskies from Duncan Taylor's latest range with Andrew Shand
Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky Ltd is a family owned, luxury Scotch whisky specialist. With origins dating back to 1864 in Glasgow where the company was initially a merchant and broker of Scotch Whisky casks within the industry. The company selects and matures casks from distilleries across the length and breadth of Scotland and currently owns one of the world's largest private collections of vintage Scotch whisky. With a multi-award winning brand portfolio, Duncan Taylor harnesses generations of expertise to deliver the finest whisky without compromise
Devotion to the principle of providing only the finest casks to be filled at Scotland's leading distilleries has been a key feature of the company's history and this tradition of building an outstanding portfolio of the finest scotch whiskies is being maintained to this day by the current owners. In this tasting you will be able to sample from their latest bottlings with the expert guidance of the irrepressible Andrew Shand.
Come along and try some of the whiskies from The Whisky Shop Dufftown's tastings you may have missed and plenty of other whiskies too.
The Whisky Shop Dufftown staff and festival crew will be on hand to help you try a selection of the whiskies from the tastings hosted by The Whisky Shop Dufftown you may have missed or retry some plus other samples and left-over's from the past year. This will help you make a decision on any purchases you may want to make. There may also be a few surprises. This is a great way to finish the festival.
And you get to keep your Glencairn glass
A Final Note
In the past we have offered our events at a cheaper price that the festival website as we passed on the savings of a making a direct booking to you. Unfortunately the festival does not allow this and we are not able to do that anymore. Of course you don't pay a booking fee by booking direct with us.
Having read Ã¢â‚¬ËœAardvarks in your wardrobeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœMates of the MuseumÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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.
Pausing on Friday morning to teach a young Norwegian lady the words Ã¢â‚¬ËœBaldyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, Ã¢â‚¬ËœCue ballÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and Ã¢â‚¬ËœSlap headÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœAnton PaarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœrubbishÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœFlora and FaunaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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 WalkerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 18 year old Ã¢â‚¬ËœGold LabelÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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 Ã¢â‚¬Ëœdistillery labelÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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 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 ConnoisseurÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 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 2009Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s Mark Vs Susan contest allowing Mark and I to both weigh in with our own thoughts on each otherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe Oliver Reed StoryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, went first, opining Ã¢â‚¬Ëœwhatever happens, Bruce will winÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ before introducing his choice with the theme Ã¢â‚¬ËœWhiskies you should have in your cupboardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. 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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœAlligatorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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, didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t you?) The secondary theme of my collection was Ã¢â‚¬ËœUnder the radarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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 PleasanceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s appearance in Columbo, the pros and cons of Jim MurrayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 Ã¢â‚¬Ëœgreat breakfast dramÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ making it this reportÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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. MarkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 LordÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 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 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœLiddesdaleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. 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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœFamily CaskÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, 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 peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœPuntersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢.
As well as the widely available and delicious Ã¢â‚¬ËœRich OakÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 14 year old, we had cask samples of the 15 year old Ã¢â‚¬ËœNew WoodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ finish, a component of the huge-selling 15 year old Ã¢â‚¬ËœSolera ReserveÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, and an 18 year old, drawn from the marrying tun while the 19 year old Ã¢â‚¬ËœAge of DiscoveryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, 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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœMalt Master editionÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, 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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœOlive Tree ChocolateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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 AÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Bunadh batch 36, at 60.1%abv, Glenfarclas 105 and Glendronach 18 Ã¢â‚¬ËœAllardiceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, at 46%abv. Clynelish and AÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœJavaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a milk chocolate consisting of 33% cocoa that is very silky, creamy and moreish and paired it with Clynelish. Next was Ã¢â‚¬ËœGhanaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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 AÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœSaint DomingueÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ from the Caribbean and is 70% cocoa and prompted Robin to read some of the limericks he had written about the AÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Bunadh.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœEquateurÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ plain chocolate is 78% cocoa and was served with Glenfarclas 105, AÃ¢â‚¬â„¢BunadhÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s great rival, and led to stories being told of a Sunday Times journalist drinking with GlenfarclasÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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, Ã¢â‚¬ËœKumaboÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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 readerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœYoung Brand Ambassador of the YearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, 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 MagazineÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬ËœSingle Outlet Whisky Retailer of the YearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœVanilla ZestÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœAndean CondorsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. (Nothing beats soaring over the mountains, looking for carrion.)
Bottled on the Tuesday before the festival was a 1989 Cragganmore called Ã¢â‚¬ËœLemon GroveÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. 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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœCaribbean fruitsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ smelled of light, golden honey and had both honey and spice tastes in equal measure and a short, creamy finish. 1997 Clynelish Ã¢â‚¬ËœVanilla SummerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœWhispering SmokeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœHoney SpiceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, 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 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Ã¢â‚¬ËœPink whisky and the music of loveÃ¢â‚¬â„¢
RobinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœOrpheusÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, 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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœWhisky for breakfastÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, he featured love songs such as Ã¢â‚¬ËœI believe in youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, Ã¢â‚¬ËœWatershedÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, Ã¢â‚¬ËœBlack RoseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, Ã¢â‚¬ËœCloser to heavenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and Ã¢â‚¬ËœSilverÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. The brilliant Ã¢â‚¬ËœKirk Douglas GhoullieÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ was also played and Ã¢â‚¬ËœBreakfast WhiskyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ was given an extra verse while Ã¢â‚¬ËœHeaven HillÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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 RobinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s performance are available on both Facebook and www.youtube.com.
Glen Moray Tour
Glen Moray distilleryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœManagerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s dramÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ bottles all of which represent tremendous value for money.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœI was there Ã¢â‚¬ËœAdelphi Tasting with Antonia Bruce
As well as presenting new company baseball caps and a boxed set of four miniatures called Ã¢â‚¬ËœNightcapsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, 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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœSaladinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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 itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s reassuring to know that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 DiageoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬ËœFlora and FaunaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ series. Linkwood has an Ã¢â‚¬ËœAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ distillery built in 1872 and a Ã¢â‚¬ËœBÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ distillery built in 1971 and Norwegian Linkwood fan Snorre Lenes notes that distillery Ã¢â‚¬ËœAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ has not been used for many years.
1965 Lochside Ã¢â‚¬Ëœsingle blendÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ whisky, at 52.3%abv, provided all present with an Ã¢â‚¬ËœI was thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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 Ã¢â‚¬Ëœbig punchÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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 Ã¢â‚¬Ëœthat teetotal actorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, 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 youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re trying not to laugh at the narratorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 MarkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 MarkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s description of a business meeting in Japan conducted in a sauna, through an interpreter.
In a watershed moment, we tasted an upcoming 1992 Ã¢â‚¬ËœRarest of the RareÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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 MarkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s opinion, would not last long in an Octave cask and he drew attention to the evaporation rate from such casks Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœSingleton of AuchroiskÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœRare AuldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 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 MarkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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.
In closing, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœCoffee PotÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœMates of the MuseumÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ plus Alan and Susie at the Tannochbrae.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m off to solve the problem of aardvarks once and for all by moving out of the termite mound I live in and hopefully, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll see you again at the spring festival when the foot will once again be on the other hand.
The fifth annual Whisky Shop Dufftown challenge for Independent Bottlers was run during the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival this last weekend. With more entries than ever before it was a hotly fought contest. Entries came from Adelphi, Duncan Taylor, Douglas Laing, Wemyss, The Creative Whisky Company and Gordon & MacPhail. This remains one of the few whisky competitions where the result is decided by the public and from all of the entries.
In the Speyside Category the overall winner was a Gordon & MacPhail Longmorn 30 Years Old which also took the prize for the best whisky over 18 years old in this category. The runner up was an Old Malt Cask Glen Grant 1990 20 Years Old. The winner of the best Speyside 18 years old or under was a Gordon & MacPhail Linkwood 15 Years Old.
In the Rest of Whisky category the overall winner was a Duncan Taylor Octave Cameronbridge 1978 31 Years Old which also took the prize for the best whisky over 18 years old in this category. The runner up was an Adelphi Bunnahabhain 1979 31 Years Old. The winner of the best Rest of Whisky 18 years old or under was an Exclusive Malts Macduff 2000 10 Years Old (from The Creative Whisky Company).
Sherry cask whiskies faired very well again this year but it is excellent to see a grain winning and also David Stirk winning a prize in the first year he has entered. Only 1 of the 19 whiskies entered did not have anyone voting for it as their favourite which underlines that peoples tastes are different and there is a whisky for everyone.
The winner of the best tasting note was from Canada. Her favourite whisky was the winning Cameronbridge and the tasting note was:
Nose - Very sweet. Like a warm summers afternoon on a terrace.
Taste - Quite strong. Like a burly Highlander - rough but gentle.
Finish - Like the Highlander had his way with me.
Some other quotes from the winnerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s tasting notes: "Mushy. Like a mid-Eighteenth century gentleman", "Warm yet tingling down the centre of my tongue. The tingly feeling of being in love" and "Bananas. Tanning lotion sizzling of the six pack of a golden tanned volleyball player (or Brazilian pool cleaner)". But our favourite note was from another entry, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Finish: CouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢tÃ¢â‚¬.
Not tasting notes Charlie MacLean might write but certainly one that appealed to our judging panel. I personally feel Erika's mind may have been on something different to whisky and possibly a new judging panel next year! Congratulations Erika, a bottle of the Cameronbridge is on its way to you.
Thank you to the companies that entered the competition and all those people that tasted the whisky and cast their vote.
The full list of entries:
Wemyss Benrinnes 1996 "Ginger Compote"
Gordon & MacPhail Linkwood 15
Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice Glen Elgin 1996 14 Years Old
Duncan Taylor NC2 Balmenach 2000 9 Years Old
Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask Mortlach 1997 13 Years Old
Gordon & MacPhail Longmorn 30
Adelphi Linkwood 1984 26 Years Old (#5266)
Duncan Taylor Rare Auld Tamnavulin 1989 21 Years Old
Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask Glen Grant 1990 20 Years Old
Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice Caol Ila 1997 11 Years Old
Adelphi Breath of Islay 1999 11 Years Old (#5882)
Exclusive Malts Macduff 2000 10 Years Old
Duncan Taylor Auld Reekie 10 Years Old
Douglas Laing Big Peat
Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice Royal Brackla 1991 19 Years Old
Wemyss Dalmore "Mocha Spice" 1990
Adelphi Bunnahabhain 1979 31 Years Old (#8893)
Duncan Taylor Octave Cameronbridge 1978 31 Years Old
Douglas Laing Clan Denny Grain Girvan 1990 20 Years Old
With the help of our inside man at Duncan Taylor we were able to liberate a small amount of Caperdonich from a single ex-Bourbon cask saving it from being Octaved. It certainly didn't need it! This is one of the best Caperdonich's I've had showing all the complexity of a well aged whisky from a Bourbon cask.
During the last few weeks a liberation tunnel was dug into the warehouses of Duncan Taylor while our inside man tunnelled out. He could occasionally be seen walking around the Duncan Taylor warehouse scattering the soil from the tunnel onto the warehouse fall. When challenged by the Duncan Taylor guards he cleverly claimed to be creating a traditional dunnage style warehouse. Genius!
When we finally got the whisky out it was a fast motorbike ride (well trip in the van) and a stunning leap over the Deveron to avoid the boarder patrols and get the whisky to Dufftown.
Nose: Tropical fruits - mango, pineapple, banana and peaches with pencils, wood shavings, tablet and toffee wrappers. A tropical fruit salad in a wooden bowl.
Taste: Citrus, candied lemon and then the more tropical notes re-emerge with more mango and banana. Also a little salt and pepper.
Finish: Intense tropical notes with a spicy kick. Reminiscent of a Pineapple Daiquiri.
This was another very competitive competition. Independent Ã¯»¿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: