The Dramble reviews Mackmyra Virvelvind
Posted 01 July 2022 / In Mackmyra
The Dramble reviews Mackmyra Virvelvind

There’s a host of reasons why individual whiskies, collections of whiskies and series of whiskies come to an end. At times this change can present drinkers with entirely new perspectives and directions. A revitalisation of a product or brand. A reaffirmation or repositioning of a distillery’s house style. A recognition that standing still is a sure-fire method for achieving irrelevance. And there are other times when, regardless of the reasons for the conclusion, the response from the community will simply be a sense of sadness that something beloved will no longer be available. Whilst certain quarters of enthusiasts will have you believe that never-changing, monolithic, perceived high quality (and 90’s perma-low pricing) is possible. It is not. Nothing lasts forever.

The Dramble reviews Mossburn Springbank 1999 22 year old
Posted 27 June 2022 / In Springbank
The Dramble reviews Mossburn Springbank 1999 22 year old

As a reviewer you need to be quick off the mark to pen your thoughts on a new bottle of Springbank before the thing has all but vanished from the shelves. And when that situation extends to what was once (but arguably aren’t now) the distillery’s core range products, you invariably find yourself either writing about the just past or penning words about the fairly depressing future where things are notionally still available – only now at twice the price they were last week. Rather like filling up the car or obtaining the weekly shop - just far less actually consumed as intended.

The Dramble reviews Mitchell & Sons Gold Spot
Posted 16 June 2022 / In Midleton
The Dramble reviews Mitchell & Sons Gold Spot

Like buses, you wait decades for another Spot whiskey and then three come along in the space of three years. The whisky world is packed to the rafters with series, selections and collections. These often follow the Fast & Furious model of leveraging a pre-existing audience with ‘more of the same, but different’ – retain the lead actors, add some new faces, change the location and then slap a new number on the front. Job done. But irrespective of whether entertainment or booze the idea of replication and repetition holds just as may pitfalls as it does potential blessings.

The Dramble reviews Mossburn Craigellachie 2007 13 year old
Posted 10 June 2022 / In Craigellachie
The Dramble reviews Mossburn Craigellachie 2007 13 year old

Craigellachie can be a stubbornly awkward whisky. Whilst well-regarded and sought after for blending because of its naturally fruity profile and weighty spirit character, I’ve repeatedly seen Craigellachie in single malt form quickly divide a room – particularly when the offering involves younger liquid. Despite writing earlier this week about the ebbs and flows of maturation which often produce not one, but several or many ‘peaks’ within whiskies – Craigellachie doesn’t always fall quite so easily into this rubric for some drinkers. And the reason for that is oft-times sulphur.

Posted 08 June 2022 / In Group

“We only bottle at the peak of perfection”. How many distilleries and bottlers have you heard using a phrase similar to this one? The suggestion being that whisky has a right and a wrong time. That it’s a difference between being immature and mature. Of being 3rd class or 1st class. But there are countless problems with making sweeping statements about levels of maturity. For starters a *lot* of whisky is sold at a younger age than it could be. But more broadly, maturation is far from linear and a wealth of whiskies showcase entirely different characteristics at different ages – none being necessarily better or more ‘peak’ than the others.

Posted 13 May 2022 / In Group

No messing around with long-winded, convoluted introductions - we've got rather a lot to get through today.

16 Whisky Sponge reviews. One after another. Strap yourselves in.

The Dramble reviews Mackmyra Limousin
Posted 10 May 2022 / In Mackmyra
The Dramble reviews Mackmyra Limousin

Reams of paper and gigabytes of the Internet have been dedicated to dissecting and understanding the properties of tannins. From learning why fish tanks turn brown and identifying why wines tends to either possess a pleasant, unobtrusive silky texture or an astringent, grippy, dryness - all the way to understanding the transformational processes involved in preserving animal hides by turning them into leather (tanning!). And yet, despite possessing a similarly central bearing on the character of whisky - its relatively quality and quantity vis-a-vis texture, bitterness and notably, the formation of colour – tannins rarely get referenced by name throughout the multitude of whisky commentary.

The Dramble reviews Glen Scotia Campbeltown Malts Festival 2022
Posted 03 May 2022 / In Glen Scotia
The Dramble reviews Glen Scotia Campbeltown Malts Festival 2022

I’m predisposed to appreciate today’s whisky. I routinely enjoy much of the output of Glen Scotia. I actively seek out coastal, mineral and industrially-focussed whiskies – particularly those that have been beaten over the head with the peat stick. And I’m absolutely not someone who doesn’t appreciate what on paper looks like a reasonable price for a bottle of booze. That my friends is prejudice. Positive prejudice, but prejudice nonetheless. I raise an eyebrow to any commentators who maintain that they review without predisposition (not possible) as much as I disagree with those who state that the presence of any partiality nullifies any aptitude to produce a review worth reading.

The Dramble reviews Mossburn Jura 1993 28 year old
Posted 27 April 2022 / In Isle of Jura
The Dramble reviews Mossburn Jura 1993 28 year old

We’ve all doubtless experienced that curious feeling that when we were younger the days seemed to be longer. It’s peculiar, but easily explained – in youth we perceive and laydown more memories and mental images – the world at that time is largely unfamiliarly and it requires far more processing than when we are accustomed to it. The older we get, the more habituated we are and therefore the less information we need to store. The less we write into our brains each day, the faster the passage of time seems. And in a strange manner this is how I’ve come to think about the changing perceptions of Jura.

The Dramble reviews Raer Blended Scotch Whisky Oloroso Expression
Posted 22 April 2022 / In Blend
The Dramble reviews Raer Blended Scotch Whisky Oloroso Expression

Despite usually being a sponge for new information – it turns out that my brain does in fact possess a saturation point when it comes to whisky. And I’ve only recently discovered this. With just one Dramble post under my belt over the past two weeks (sorry readers – sorry brands) it’s high time I admitted to myself that writing about whisky whilst working within whisky is far more challenging than I expected it would be. This isn’t a case of being too busy – indeed, overall I’m less busy than I was when working two disparate jobs concurrently for the best part of three years. No – this is a realisation that my brain has a finite amount of whisky processing power and that the ‘day job’ is now (rightly) utilising a lot of this.

The Dramble reviews Two Stacks Whiskey Polaris Collection The First Bottling
Posted 20 April 2022 / In Great Northern Distillery
The Dramble reviews Two Stacks Whiskey Polaris Collection The First Bottling

The more time I spend with casks of whisky, the more I find myself equating them to boxes of crayons. It doesn’t matter how many colours you possess – if you mix them all together you’ll end up with a muddy brown mess. Travelling back in time to the early 80s – like many, I put my apparent lack of artistic ability wholly down to not possessing every single Crayola. More colours = better art. Right? Another birthday – and another pile of increasingly ambiguous shades would arrive. Year after year this resulted in no improvement in either my aptitude or my technique, but it did see a growing number of indelible marks appearing across my parents (apparently “prized” – I’m still very unsure of this fact) wooden coffee table. Untalented and unpopular.

Posted 01 April 2022 / In Group

Older bottles are often compared to being time capsule celebrations of whisky’s steeped history. Liquid moments seldom repeated. Times and techniques long past. But by continuing to insist on slavishly fawning over and peacocking big age statements releases, we’re being fools if we don’t recognise the fact that - flattery will get us nowhere when it comes to whisky pricing.

Posted 30 March 2022 / In Group

Why oak? On the surface, oak has been generationally utilised by producers because it has been observed that the material has an agreeable impact on liquids undergoing maturation. The extremely slow integration of oxygen, the imbuing of structural qualities and the supplementary wood-influenced flavours and tannins – when coupled with the notion of variable lengths of development and different toasting/charring levels allows for an incredible breath of possible profiles. And then of course there’s the suppleness and abundancy of oak – it’s both malleable and plentiful. Rather useful qualities. But not all oak is the same, and of the 400 different species of the Quercus genus, only around a dozen are deemed suitable for the storage of alcoholic beverages.

Posted 16 March 2022 / In Group

I’m far from convinced that conversations on whisky terroir have been aided by its frequent positioning as some form of confrontation. In the red corner – the intellectually enlightened. In the blue corner – little more than a collection of simpletons and infidels. Controversy marketing is nothing new – and sometimes an effective tool to have within one’s arsenal. But whilst its usage can often lead to fanatical devotion, in the drawing up of battle lines, the converse is also frequently a possibility –defence and disinterest. Whilst “the war on terroir” is a catchy call back, I can’t help but wonder whether approaching whisky terroir from a standpoint of communality not conflict would better widen the understanding of how place can be a highly significant distinguishing feature. And to that end I do think that whisky can learn from another highly localised spirit – mezcal.

Posted 03 March 2022 / In Group

Goodness - has it really been a whole 6 months since our last SMWS outturn review? A combination of COVID-19 (enough already), diary clashes and unfortunate logistics (bottles not arriving at Greville Street in time) has seen us away from the London rooms and unable to bring you our thoughts on the host of releases, events and continued evolution of the Society. But it’s certainly good to be back and whilst we couldn’t quite align with Phil for our preferred ‘double-header’ this month, we’re hoping that a ‘normal’ monthly outturn review service can now resume. 

The Dramble reviews Glendronach 1993 26 year old PX Puncheon Whisky Exchange Exclusive
Posted 25 February 2022 / In Glendronach
The Dramble reviews Glendronach 1993 26 year old PX Puncheon Whisky Exchange Exclusive

As much as I like my whisky presented to me as naturally as possible, I’m far from naïve as to the realities of the world outside of the geek bubble. I’m also not incognisant that my individual tastes and requirements from a whisky are not necessarily indicative of everyone else’s – and particularly not when compared to that of more casual drinkers. When it comes to natural presentations, colour is one of the thorniest of topics to properly dissect. I once derived enjoyment from reading others’ posts on their preferences and justifications for natural colour (which I fully share) – but now find myself disappointed by a growing obliviousness to the realities of the global whisky market and more worryingly, genuinely saddened by the mounting vitriol which is starting to accompany discussions about the colour of whiskies.

Posted 18 February 2022 / In Group

Leonardo da Vinci is frequently credited with penning the elegant phrase “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. But consistent to many things in life (and particularly those documented on the Internet), the source of aphorisms is rarely as straightforward as they seem on the surface. American novelist Clare Boothe Luce indisputably wrote the very similar adage “the height of sophistication is simplicity” in her 1931 play “Stuffed Shirts” – however, as far as I can tell the first verbatim usage of the phrase attributed to Leonardo himself comes via a double-page spread in The New Yorker from July 2000 – advertising Campari. Simplicity rarely is simple.

The Dramble reviews the Firkin Whisky Company Ledaig 2008 12 year old marsala finish
Posted 11 February 2022 / In Tobermory
The Dramble reviews the Firkin Whisky Company Ledaig 2008 12 year old marsala finish

I find few things in life more tedious than yet another article seeking to dissect and rationalise review scores – particularly those coming at the topic with the pre-programmed agenda of “our method is the bestest because…”. Irrespective of whether whisky, wine, restaurants or movies, all reviewer scores possess three characteristics – they’re arbitrary, they’re largely incomparable outside of their given context, and they’re usually utterly meaningless without explanation.

Posted 01 February 2022 / In Group

I find it genuinely bewildering that some drinkers seem perfectly able to patiently wait years or even decades for a whisky to undergo its mellowing process – but then, merely hours after hitting the order button, will suddenly transform into over-anxious, intolerant, hotheads all too eager to cry foul at having to wait any further. The expression “everything in moderation” never felt more apt. I’ll happily but unsurprisingly put this growing manifestation of impatience squarely at the door of society’s over-reliance on technology. The continued exposure to the instant gratification offered by technology (web shopping, social media, mobile phones etc etc) is steadily reshaping our personalities – and in many ways it runs counter to every aspect of whisky’s creation and enjoyment.

Posted 21 January 2022 / In Group

Tasting a multitude of drams consecutively can result in sensory enervation – otherwise known as palate fatigue. And this form of exhaustion can be attributed to both physical and mental attributes. Typically, palate fatigue will occur deeper into large tasting sessions when over time, an assortment of comparable products (could be whisky, equally could be cheese sandwiches) have been sampled sequentially. The result of this repetition being an increasing sense that everything is starting to taste the same and/or become boring and less enjoyable as a result.



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