Latest Tasting

The Dramble reviews Hibiki Blender's Choice

Crowded house

Posted 17 September 2021

It has happened to most of us at some point…just as the party is really getting started, the host runs out of alcohol. Well, that’s piss poor planning. <Humpth>. Nowadays running dry is far less of a snag than it used to be – a restock is only an app click away – “Your order has been accepted.” “Your order is on its way”. Fantastic – let’s get this show back on the road again. But, over at the House of Suntory where the festivities have been underway for several years now, there are some serious supply issues. The delivery app is showing “expected sometime in 2030”; what little booze there is remaining feels like a shadow of what was served earlier on; and the clamouring guests just keep on arriving in ever greater numbers. The toilet is blocked, someone’s been sick on the cat, and to top it all off, most of the newly arriving guests only seem interested in nabbing the doggie bags and then beating a hasty retreat.

Other Tastings

I want that one

Posted 15 September 2021

Most examinations of Johnnie Walker Blue Label invariably end up exploring the association/disparity (delete as appropriate) between the liquid contents of the bottle and the price of said bottle. And that’s entirely fair enough. The notion of a product review can, and indeed often is, boiled down to an individualised assessment of quality vs. cost. However, there are many pitfalls in taking such a reductive approach – especially without a keen understanding of the prevalent costs that exist within a market at any particular time. And in the case of Johnnie Walker Blue Label, I’d suggest that any analysis which draws an entirely linear comparison between perceived quality and price is something of a swing and miss. The price of Blue Label has little to do with the cost of its constituents or packaging, or even the hefty marketing spend behind it. Its price point has been carefully designed to maintain its position as an aspirational whisky.

The Dramble reviews Talisker 8 year old 2011 Special Releases 2020


Posted 07 September 2021

Being disappointed comes part and parcel with being a whisky explorer. Indeed, the longer in tooth you are, the more likely it is that the let downs will start to outnumber the epiphanies. Whilst the journey always matters, it is invariably our earliest steps that offer us the broadest horizons. And there comes a point where true inspiration and fulfilment are simply far harder to unearth. But in most instances these anticlimactic moments are not based on any inherent faults or technical deficiencies with the liquid itself – they’re built on a foundation of expectations, past experiences (which may or may not be related to expectations) and taste biases.

The Dramble reviews Compass Box Hedonism

Open your mind

Posted 01 September 2021

Night and day. Black and white. People are either open-minded and welcoming of change and new ideas – or they’re closed-minded and hold rigid opinions and narrow outlooks. And so, we all choose to associate ourselves with being open-minded – it is a binary choice, right? Yes, we should choose to be open-minded - after all, a closed mind is a dying mind. If only it were that straight-forward. As much as we all like to consider ourselves to be open-minded, few of us truly are. I’m not nearly as open-minded as I’d like to be. This stems not from being obstinate (I can be quite good at that when the mood takes me), but rather from choosing a position or a belief before ever evaluating what’s really in front of you and whether that position or belief is either factually true, or indeed is emotionally faithful to who we are. And when it comes to whisky – this happens all the time.

Clarion call

Posted 19 August 2021

Locked inside, Zoom-powered and armed with a near endless supply of home-delivered alcohol, one could almost be forgiven for forgetting the vital role that bars play. As one of the world’s oldest and most popular social institutions, they offer far more than an escape from the monotony of homelife. They’re a focal point for communities. They contribute significantly to local and national economies. And they act as both litmus tests and magnets for the wider drinks industry – assessing, enticing and inspiring customers in equal measure.

A geek tragedy

Posted 11 August 2021

Attending a recent beer festival, I was struck by three realisations. Firstly, boy - it sure felt good to be back to some semblance of normality (COVID passes granting entrance aside). Secondly that beer has undergone something of a remarkable revolution over the course of my lifetime - both in terms of its inspiration and creation but also in terms of its appreciation. Of course, the popularity of real ale and craft beer (I won’t be debating the contrasts here today!) is far from a modern occurrence – indeed, the craft movement can trace its roots to the 1990s. The point here being - that the enjoyment of beer now cuts across a much wider demographic – male and female, young and old. Exciting and interesting brews are in. Beards, bulging bellies, and a noticeable lack of personal hygiene are very much out. And so, we come to the third realisation – that the level of endemic geekiness that exists when any drink is explored at great depth can put up as many barriers as openness and diversity seek to rip down.

SMWS August 2021 Outturn review

Posted 05 August 2021

There are 32 new single malt whiskies in the August 2021 SMWS outturn (Power Pairings). And that’s a lot. Long-standing members will remember months where outturns were consistently half that number. But whilst these beefed-up offerings are reflective of an ever-enlarging Society membership – and as such should be viewed as a positive recognition that a growing member cohort must = more whisky – at the same time there are substantial disadvantages to deluges of bottles. Case in point – my visit to Greville Street yesterday.

Master of Malt



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