Latest Tasting

The Dramble reviews Glen Scotia 10 year old Campbeltown Malts Festival 2021

I love you, you're perfect, now change

Posted 07 April 2021

A brand-new bottle of an old favourite is purchased. But the excited opening and return to the embrace of familiarity is…wait a minute…is…not as expected. The whisky’s composition is somehow different – and certainly not as remembered. “It must be a newer batch. A less good batch.” “The distillery has gone and lowered its standards. Again.” “No. That’s not it – the bottle just hasn’t been opened long enough, give it a week or two.” “Never judge a whisky by the first dram out - a little air in the neck is what’s required here”. When it comes to comparisons, I’ve heard all of these things, and countless more. But whilst occasionally the diagnosis for divergence has been correct – drinkers are always far too quick to assume that any changes they detect are a result of what’s actually in their bottles.

Other Tastings

The Dramble reviews The Whisky Exchange April Fool 2021

Safety in numbers

Posted 01 April 2021

There are 7,139 languages spoken in the world today, but fewer than a dozen off the beaten track number systems. The Oksapmin people of New Guinea use a base-27 number system - derived from more body parts than just their fingers and toes. The Welsh, for reasons that escape me, traditionally used a base-20 system, but added a twist, in that after 15 (pymtheg) each number beyond was represented as an addition. So, 1 on 15 = 16, or more complicatedly 1 on 15 on 20 = 36. Because, you know – reasons. Nevertheless, outside of these infrequent and often historic deviations, numbers are a universal language of our world. And in this same manner numbers and how we communicate about whisky is no different. Irrespective of location or language spoken, numbers, especially age statements are a commonly understood denominator that is often utilised (rightly or wrongly) to identify a whisky’s quality or perceived value.

The Dramble reviews Carn Mor – Strictly Limited Ruadh Maor 2009 8 year old

The Filth

Posted 30 March 2021

Heavily peated Glenturret is habitually dirty in character. And that puts it well on my whisky radar. The distillate style was first created back in 2009 as a blending component for Black Grouse – where it was used only sparingly as part of a much larger recipe. But, in its purest, unblended form, the spirit clocks in at a peathead attention grabbing 80-120PPM and presents a profile that is not only highly divergent to the character of the distillery’s OBs (at least until the advent of the recently rebranded range which foists some of these traits into the new 10 year old ‘Peat Smoke’), but that is also rather lateral to many of the whiskies being produced in Scotland today. It’s simply something of an odd duck – resulting from three whole days of smoke-dried malted barley passed through the same relatively small (12,500 + 9,000 litre respectively) stills.

The Dramble reviews Bunnahabhain 2010 Moine Amontillado Finish


Posted 26 March 2021

The suspects are gathered in the ballroom. Each one of them with a secret to hide. Their flickering, beady eyes catch the attention of their fellow guests, giving away their sense of unease and a growing feeling of suspicion. None of them had left the manor that evening and therefore one of them had most certainly committed a murder most foul. The trench-coated detective stood to address the room…. Meanwhile in a living room somewhere in suburbia…”Wait. Yeah, I got it. The killer is left-handed. The handprint on the wall is from a right hand if you look at the direction of the thumb - and because the killer was leaning against the wall with their right hand, they shot their gun with their stronger hand – the left. It’s obviously the butler. Boom”.

The Dramble reviews Mackmyra Björksav

Stranger things

Posted 23 March 2021

I’ll admit to being a little surprised seeing comments suggesting of the weirdness of combining birch sap with single malt whisky. Björksav is far from the distiller’s first foray into this traditionally harvested tree juice – nor is it in my opinion even in the running in the odd alcohol stakes (more on that in a moment). Indeed, beverages crafted from a variety of tree saps – birch, maple and also bamboo - are nothing new. Tapping for sapping has been commonplace for generations upon generations. Often stemming from traditional folk medicines, in some countries the use of sap has grown into cottage industries. And in the case of birch – alcohol production is similarly nothing new – the sap can be fermented in a similar manner to pulque or palm wine. When it comes to combining things with alcohol there are far stranger things…

We've never had it so good

Posted 18 March 2021

I’m afraid that over the years many of us have allowed ourselves to become rather spoilt. It’s all too easy to spend far too much time griping about the availability of limited editions, complaining that whisky is becoming inaccessibly priced and moaning about perceived unfairnesses in allocations. That is not to say that any or all of those things don’t have merit but taking a step back from the negatives (of which you’ll find in any pursuit or hobby) I’d argue that today, right now, is possibly the best time to be part of the wider whisky enthusiast community. You might not think it…but we’ve never had it so good.

The Dramble reviews Redbreast 10 year old Cask Strength


Posted 15 March 2021

Not all that long ago whisky was a lot less of a loyal market than people supposed. Whilst at the blended end of the market parents and grandparents often tended to sup the same entry-point whisky night in, night out – the ‘premium’ segment of whisky has always been composed of more adventurous types. And adventure rarely equated to unequivocal allegiance back in the day. Devoted whisky enthusiasts – even those who today you’d describe as zealously loyal to particularly distilleries have always flitted between brands. But over the last twenty or so years, dedicated and formal marketing of whisky has come to the fore – and with it – the notion of drinker-led advocacy.

Master of Malt



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