Tag Archives: Whisky

Lots of New Single Malts in from Douglas Laing

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By Mike Lord

Old Malt Cask Littlemill 1991 19 Years Old

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

Old Malt Cask Blair Athol 1995 15 Years Old

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

Old Malt Cask Laphroaig 1993 17 Years Old

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

Old Malt Cask St Magdelene 1982 28 Years Old

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

Old Malt Cask Glen Grant 1990 20 Years Old

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

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

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

The Whisky Experiments

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

By Mike Lord

During the Autumn Speyside Whisky Festival I ran a tasting looking at some of the perceived wisdom about whisky drinking.  Here’s what happened.

Does the glass matter?

For this test we matched a wide mouthed tumbler against a copita (a sherry tasting glass).  From both glasses a sample of Mackillop’s Choice Imperial 1990 was nosed and tasted.

The results were outstanding.  The Imperial is from a single bourbon cask and is all bananas and tropical fruits interlaced with vanilla.  This nose was only too evident from the copita but it was almost impossible to get anything from the tumbler.  This is the perceived wisdom but the extreme difference was a surprise.

Now to tasting.  The perceived wisdom is that that the copita shoots the liquid in to the centre of the tongue and makes it difficult to taste whisky where as the tumbler spreads the liquid across your tongue making it more accessible.  This one was a difficult one to test as almost everyone in the room naturally worked the whisky from the copita round their mouths.  But the whisky tasted from the tumbler was again a lot less flavoursome.  We found that the copita was much better for tasting the whisky.  Had the large mouth of the tumbler caused the whisky to collapse releasing so many of both its aromas and flavours?  This is the only answer we could come up with.

So the answer is yes.  To enjoy both the full aroma and flavours of a whisky then use a glass with a narrow opening (and preferably only at one end).

Does the water matter?

For years now I have stood at the front of tastings saying that whisky is better diluted with a low mineral content water.  But is this true?  For this experiment we sampled Glenmorangie Original neat, with low mineral content water (Glenlivet) and with a high mineral content water (Strathmore).  The choice of Glenmorangie was deliberate as this is made with process water that is relatively high in mineral content and some say you should dilute whisky with water of the same mineral content as was used to make the whisky.

Nosing and tasting the Glenmorangie neat proved to be a good decision.  This fixed in people’s mind the origin of the aromas and taste of the whisky.  By adding a small amount of water more could be got from both the nose and the taste when adding the low mineral content water.  You could see the genesis from the undiluted to the diluted – you got more out of it.

The Strathmore and the Glenmorangie had an unsettling impact.  It changed the taste of the whisky adding bitter notes and taking away a good deal of what could be found in the undiluted whisky.  This was not a good combination.

As a further test we went back and tried the same experiment with the Mackillop’s Choice Imperial.  If anything this was an even bigger disaster for the Strathmore and Imperial completely stripping away many of the notes from the Imperial leaving something a bit bitter and salty.

So water does matter?  If you are going to dilute your whisky try to use low mineral content water even with whisky made with high mineral content (hard) water.


This experiment looked at what actually is the effect of adding spirit caramel to whisky other than making it darker.  For this I chose Benromach 10 Years Old.  This is a fabulous all round whisky being a combination of sherry cask and bourbon cask whisky married together and then re-racked into sherry cask for an extra period of maturation.  It has a distinct and significant smokiness coming through from the Speyside peat that was used to dry the barley.

Again we all nosed and tasted the Benromach 10 as Gordon & MacPhail intended.  Each of us then added a touch of spirit caramel – just enough to coat the tip of the end of the handle of a tea spoon.  The colour change was as dramatic as the change to the nose and palate.  It killed it.  There was a vast reduction in the range of aromas and flavours after the caramel was added.  Some peaty smokiness was there but nowhere near as much as before.  While there was some difference in opinion about whether people preferred the original or the coloured version everyone had agreed that it had significantly changed the whisky.  For the record most preferred the un-coloured version.

I have tried this with a number of whiskies now and the results have always been dramatic.  It definitely splits people as to which they prefer, coloured or uncoloured – the colouring does tend to have a rounding effect knocking out any of the flavour / aroma spikes.  In our experiment, even knowing what had been done, most people admitted that the darker coloured whisky looked more appealing.

So colouring does have an impact but it depends on you and the particular whisky whether this is a good or bad thing.  My theory is that the caramel adds oil to the whisky which makes it difficult for you to nose and taste the whisky.  The oil traps the flavour molecules and interferes with you tasting them – the opposite of molecular discombobulation possibly.  And Gordon & MacPhail, well done for not colouring Benromach 10 – good job!

Chill Filtering

It’s next to impossible to get a sample of exactly the same whisky chill filtered and non-chill filtered.  So this experiment required some home improvisation.

Method: Take one sample of whisky.  If cask strength then cut to 40% ABV.   Split the sample in to two.  Chill one portion overnight in a very cold fridge.  Next morning pour it through a funnel lined with a coffee filter paper and collect.  You now have one chill filtered sample and one that is not.

We used 2 whiskies for this experiment: my own cask strength Exclusive Mortlach from a re-fill sherry cask; and a cask strength Imperial from Duncan Taylor (ex-Bourbon).  Part of the reason for using my Mortlach was to try and see if the thick haze that is created with the addition of water could be filtered out (only partially at best as it turned out) and the Duncan Taylor sample as their overseas sales director, Mark Watt, is fond of saying that chill filtering rips the heart out of whisky.

I cannot in any way claim this is an accurate representation of chill filtering as done by distilleries but it’s the best I could come up with.  The lack of reduction in the haze of the WSD Mortlach suggests to me that the process I undertook is quite possible filtering the whisky less than in is done in the industry.  You will be surprised how long it takes to filter whisky.

Again the results were stark.  The WSD Mortlach became in both nose and taste lighter, less oily but also with less depth and there was a distinct cardboard flavour.  Not good.  The Imperial, well it had had its heart ripped out (but no cardboard flavour so this had not come from the filtering).

We used 2 very different whiskies and all preferred the un-chill filtered version.  So the conclusion is buy a non chill filtered whisky if you can.  Of course chill filtering could remove a nasty heart from some whiskies!

Adding Ice to Whisky

The real heathen crime or so the perceived whisky wisdom is to add ice to whisky.  The idea to test this came about when I was drinking whisky in a very hot flat in London.  Frankly the Arran 10 I was sampling had the temperature of bath water.  I decided to add ice and from this I decided to go public with my findings.

At the tasting we had samples of Arran 10 and Lagavulin 16 in Glencairn glasses.  Starting with the Arran we nosed and tasted the whisky before adding ice and then we did the same with the Lagavulin.  I encouraged everyone to nose and taste as soon as the ice had gone in so we could see the effect of cooling the whisky as opposed to diluting it.  I used ice cubes made from Glenlivet Spring water.

Both whiskies became thicker and oilier with the ice.  With the Arran a much stronger aniseed note appeared and it was less malty than without the ice.  The ice had changed the flavour but definitely not destroyed it.  Different flavours were coming through.  You could tell it was Arran 10 but it was different on the nose and palate.  If anything the adding ice had generally reduced the nose of the whisky.  Ice made the Lagavulin bolder.  It becomes more strident.  The peatiness took on a heavier, drier, much ashier characteristic.  The change here was quite remarkable.

The conclusion is adding ice to whisky is not such a bad thing.  In certainly changes it and it may for some whiskies even improve them.  And to avoid drinking whisky which is like bath water, those people living in warmer climes than the North East of Scotland, please keep adding ice to your whisky!

New Stock in from Duncan Taylor & Co

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The following single malt whiskies and single grain whisky have just arrived in from Duncan Taylor

Rare Auld Caperdonich 1972 27 Years Old #7414 (£132.95)

Another amazing Caperdonich from Duncan Taylor.  Think a bag of boiled sweets fruit flavoured.

Rare Auld Glen Moray 1973 36 Years Old #7037 (£95.95)

The most complex Glen Moray I have ever had.  Well worth the money.  You could contemplate the world with this dram but also enjoy it on a warm sunny day in the garden.

Rare Auld Glen Grant 1987 22 Years Old #44648 (£64.95)

A big sherried whisky from Glen Grant.  It's a game of two halves with big sherry on the nose and more sponge cake and jam in the mouth.  Stunning.

Rare Auld Caol Ila 1988 25 Years Old #6275 (£88.50)

Old Caol Ila's are almost always great and this is no exception

Rare Auld Carsebridge 1979 30 Years Old #33043 (£73.95)

A first rate grain.

By Mike Lord

New in from AD Rattray

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Here are the new releases just in from AD Rattray:

By Mike Lord

AD Rattray Glen Grant 1985 24 Years Old @ 55.8%

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

AD Rattray Glenrothes 1990 19 Years Old @ 49.9%

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

AD Rattray Laphroaig 1998 11 Years Old @ 61.6%

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

AD Rattray Pulteney 1982 27 Years Old @ 53.5%

Pulteney does age so well and this is an exceptional example

AD Rattray Cragganmore 1997 12 Years Old 46.0%

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

Return of an old friend:

AD Rattray Mortlach 1994 13 Years Old 58.8%

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

The AD Rattray Range

January 2010 New Releases from Duncan Taylor & Co

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By Michael Lord

Some new single malt whiskies in from that irrepressible independent bottler Duncan Taylor.  Not all of their new bottlings are available (even if some shops have them on their website) but I have managed to get in my pick of the new Octave range.  These use reconstituted exsherrywood octaves for an extra 3 months of maturation and it does seem to work.  This does mean that each expression is very limited stock!

Octave Bowmore 1982

This is an exceptionally well rounded Bowmore. Very subtle on the smoke. Stunning.

Buy Now!

Octave Bowmore 1982

Octave Caperdonich 1972

This is another outstanding Capedonich from Duncan Taylor with all that fruitiness you expect balanced by a medicinal influence.

Buy Now!

Octave Caperdonich 1972

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

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Benrinnes Walk 20090310 10

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

Mark Watt of Duncan Taylor & Co

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

WSD Challenge 2009 MW 04Black Bull 12DT Ardbeg v2

Alex Bruce of Adelphi Distillers

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

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

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

Jura Prophecy

Mike Lord of The Whisky Shop Dufftown

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

Merry Christmas from the WSD!

New Releases of Single Malt Whisky from Adelphi Distillery Ltd

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Adelphi Logo

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

Ardbeg 1998 11 Years Old 57.9% Cask #1981


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


Bunnahabhain 1997 11 Years Old 58.6% Cask #5368


Caol Ila 1982 27 Years Old 57.6% Cask #688


Linkwood 1984 25 Years Old 56% Cask #1623


New Shipping Rates

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New UK Shipping Rates

For the winter we have reduced our UK shipping rates for single malt whisky and our other products to £9.50 for two bottles and above.  So whether you buy 2 bottles or 12 bottles (one for each day of Christmas) then you only pay £9.50 in shipping for UK delivered orders.    The £8.50 charge remains the same for the first bottle.

New Shipping Rates for France, Germany, Netherlands and Denmark

We have also reduced are shipping rates for France, Germany, Netherlands and Denmark for the winter.  For any purchase of 2 or more bottles of single malt or any of are other products the shipping rate is a flat fee of £18.00.

New Daigeo Premium Release Single Malt Whiskies

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Daigeo's latest 2009 premium release whiskies are now in stock:

The new premium releases from Diageo

The new premium releases from Diageo

Benrinnes 23 Years Old

The Bennriness 23 Year old is£149.95

Brora 30 Years Old

The Bora 30 Years Ols is £250.00

Caol Ila 10 Years Old

The Caol Ila 10 Years Old is £51.95

Mannochmore 18 Years Old

The Mannocgmore 18 Years Old is £104.95

Pittyvaich 20 Years Old

The Pittyvaich 20 Years Old is£129.95

Port Ellen 30 Years Old

The Port Ellen Release 9 is £233.50  **** Sold Out ****

Talisker 25:

The Talisker 25 2009 Release is £150.00

Talisker 30

The Talisker 30 2009 Release is £215.00

Please note very limited stock

AD Rattray New Bottlings

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Three fantastic new bottlings from AD Rattray:

Benrinnes 1996 13 Years Old

This whisky is a first fill from a Sherry Hogshead and is at 57%.  It's full on sherry with lots of syrup.  If you ever wanted to know wanted to know what a chocolate fruit cake is like then this it.

Highland Park 1995 14 Years Old

An exceptional Highland Park particularly if you like them a bit more peaty than the average.  The Bourbon cask supports a tary smokiness coming through with creamy.  Smoked custard!

Glen Elgin 1984 24 Years Old

A really smooth 24 years old with the wood not dominant.  Still fresh and buttery.  Has a quality like an oaked Chardonnay.  Great.

AD Rattray Bottles

AD Rattray