Tastings

Posted 21 September 2018 / In Group

Despite an action packed September outturn, it seems SMWS have got more in store for their 35th Anniversary month with a mini outturn of 6 new single cask whiskies. The Dramble was fortunate enough to sample three of these whilst conducting our main outturn tasting a few weeks back. There’s a strong Speyside focus on this mid-month release – but also a bottling from Islay which is bound to develop into something of a bunfight - 33.136 Halcyon tarfest. The fact that it’s a very solid expression from this distillery will only up its desirability further. If you want one, best get your skates on.


the dramble reviews Loch Lomond 12 year old
Posted 20 September 2018 / In Loch Lomond
the dramble reviews Loch Lomond 12 year old

The Loch Lomond 12 year old has been created using two distinctive types of stills that operate at the Alexandria-based distillery. The ‘standard’ pot stills are a common sight at most malt-based distilleries in Scotland. However the Lomond stills look rather like someone took a pot still and welded a column still to the top of it. Indeed, that’s not all that far from the truth.


The Dramble reviews Glengoyne 18 year old
Posted 19 September 2018 / In Glengoyne
The Dramble reviews Glengoyne 18 year old

Glengoyne 18 year old was launched in 2012 alongside a new 15 year old. Their introductions consigned the previous 17 year old to the archives, but opened up the distillery’s age statement range further. There’s now an expansive selection of core range sherried whiskies running from 10 through to 30 years of age.


The Dramble reviews Connemara Pure Pot Still 90s bottling
Posted 18 September 2018 / In Cooley Distillery
The Dramble reviews Connemara Pure Pot Still 90s bottling

Produced by Cooley Distillery, Connemara is one of few peated Irish whiskies but, arguably the most well-known. First released around 1996 (from distillate created in 1992), the brand has won a glut of awards on the international stage over the years, and comes in a selection of NAS, age-statement and limited edition varieties.


The Dramble reviews That Boutique-y Whisky Company Speyside 50
Posted 17 September 2018 / In Undisclosed
The Dramble reviews That Boutique-y Whisky Company Speyside 50

Today is a mini milestone for The Dramble - our 500th review. Golly, where does time fly? It’s been an amazing 18 months for myself and Danny, and we’d like to thank you all for the support, encouragement and feedback you’ve provided on the journey so far.


The Dramble reviews Highland Park 18 year old Viking Pride Travel Edition
Posted 14 September 2018 / In Highland Park
The Dramble reviews Highland Park 18 year old Viking Pride Travel Edition

Highland Park 18 year old has been rather the talisman whisky for many years – not just for enthusiasts, but for the distillery itself. The 21 year old and 15 year old have both been discontinued to ensure that the quality of the 18 (I.E. the availability of casks) can be maintained. The whisky is still one of my favourites and always has had a place on the bar for many years. It offers a considerable step up in depth and complexity to its younger 12 year old sibling and has won scores of industry awards over the years.


The Dramble reviews Highland Park 16 year old Wings of the Eagle
Posted 13 September 2018 / In Highland Park
The Dramble reviews Highland Park 16 year old Wings of the Eagle

Our final Highland Park animal review takes to the skies with the Wings of the Eagle. The oldest of the Beasts series, the bottling draws its influence from the Norse legend of Yggdrasil – an ancient and sacred ‘worldtree’ that was said to be home to several birds - Veðrfölnir,a hawk and a giant unnamed eagle. The story dates back some 700 years, to the 13th Century ‘Poetic Edda’ – a collection of old Norse poems.


The Dramble reviews Highland Park 14 year old Loyalty of the Wolf
Posted 12 September 2018 / In Highland Park
The Dramble reviews Highland Park 14 year old Loyalty of the Wolf

Our second Highland Park ‘Beast’ review comes in the form of Loyalty of the Wolf. The expression has been matured in a combination of sherry-seasoned American oak and ex-bourbon casks and sits in the middle of the new range both in terms of age, and in terms of price. Strangely, despite this being a wide global release, I’ve already seen bottles trading hands on auctions for much more than the RRP – HP has always engendered a strange sense of unequivocal brand loyalty.


The Dramble reviews Highland Park Spirit of the Bear
Posted 11 September 2018 / In Highland Park
The Dramble reviews Highland Park Spirit of the Bear

Highland Park is a familiar sight in most Travel Retail outlets. For the past few years, the distillery’s offering has come in the form of their Norse Warriors series – but now, following a wider (even more Viking – if that were even possible) brand re-fresh, there’s a new HP Duty Free collection. ‘The Beasts’ is a series of three bottlings ‘drawing inspiration from the animals that held great significance for our Viking ancestors’. They’re joined by a new limited edition marrying strength 18 year old.


The Dramble reviews Ledaig 18 year old Spanish Sherry Finish Batch 3
Posted 10 September 2018 / In Tobermory
The Dramble reviews Ledaig 18 year old Spanish Sherry Finish Batch 3

I view Ledaig a little like a rite of passage for whisky enthusiasts – it’s something to build up to – often having already sampled (and enjoyed) a variety of other peated drams. Ledaig is about as far from a starter whisky as you can get - it possesses a highly idiosyncratic character and flavour profile that I can fully understand some folks never quite understanding. But, there’s an uncanny number of die-hard malt heads who’ve graduated from the heathery peat of the mainland and iodine-licked smoke of Islay and then gravitate towards Tobermory’s heavily peated Ledaig – me included.


Posted 06 September 2018 / In Group

SMWS’s September outturn ‘Up, up and away!’ brings the 35th Anniversary celebrations of the Society’s 35th  to a suitable climax with the release of 21 new single cask whiskies, a vintage Armagnac and a Jamaican rum. Included in the outturn are five ‘celebratory’ bottlings (two of which we’ll be reviewing for you today), including 1.207 ‘Powerful, warming delight’ from the same distillery as the Society’s first ever bottling 1.1 – an 8 year old Glenfarclas from 1975.


The Dramble reviews Glenlivet 2007 11 year old TWE Exclusive Signatory Un-chillfiltered
Posted 06 September 2018 / In Glenlivet
The Dramble reviews Glenlivet 2007 11 year old TWE Exclusive Signatory Un-chillfiltered

The Whisky Exchange’s exclusives tend to be a little bit more expensive than other retailers – but in my experience their cask selections are usually excellent. There’s been more than one occasion when I’ve sampled a variety of near sister casks from retailers and considered the TWE version the best of the bunch.


The Dramble reviews Glen Scotia Victoriana
Posted 05 September 2018 / In Glen Scotia
The Dramble reviews Glen Scotia Victoriana

Glen Scotia have been going great guns not only in revitalising their range of whiskies, but also in actively engaging with the wider whisky community – both online and at shows. Gone are the days of attempting to carve out market share through the use of bright, alcopop style bottles -  The distillery is now trying to play to the strength of combining high quality liquid with an understandable and appealing brand proposition. A much more successful tactic – especially as malt enthusiasts become ever more knowledgable and the range of choices available ever broader.


The Dramble's review of Laphroaig An Cuan mor
Posted 04 September 2018 / In Laphroaig
The Dramble's review of Laphroaig An Cuan mor

I’ll be passing through travel retail several times over the coming month. Whilst always appealing, I find it ever the strange place. Transparency and clear honest marketing are often the antithesis to the travel retail experience – a world of shiny (and yet strangely opaque) things designed to appeal to a far wider audience than your average whisky obsessive. Over the years countless unmemorable NAS bottlings have led to a situation where many whisky enthusiasts (including myself) are somewhat wary of the travel retail experience – shelves packed full of more choice and marketing puffery than they are of quality. There are gems out there, but you’ll have to look for them.


The Dramble reviews Aberlour 1992 25 year old Whiskybroker
Posted 03 September 2018 / In Aberlour
The Dramble reviews Aberlour 1992 25 year old Whiskybroker

As the price of whisky has steadily increased, so has the popularity of independent bottlers – in some quarters they represent a near last bastion of reasonably priced liquid to many enthusiasts. This is especially true when it comes to older expressions. Well-aged distillery OBs are now being pitched for hundreds of pounds, whereas their IB equivalents (as equivalent as one can get) can still be found for fractions of these prices. Whiskybroker is one such independent that has seen its cachet skyrocket over the last couple of years. Starting life as a small (they still are relatively) outfit that was once a go to place for whisky clubs to source bottlings, the company now has a small army of Facebook fans and its very well-priced releases are eagerly snaffled up.


The Dramble reviews Port Ellen 1978 25 year old 4th Special Release
Posted 31 August 2018 / In Port Ellen
The Dramble reviews Port Ellen 1978 25 year old 4th Special Release

All good things must come to an end – today we’re presenting the last review from our month-long exploration of 1978 and 40 year old whiskies. It’s been quite the rollercoaster – we’ve covered a few legendary bottlings, found several hidden gems and experienced a couple of outright disasters. The undertaking has required years of careful preparation and patience (I.E. ‘stashing things away’) and a careful watch on the bank balance (historic whisky can be a very serious mission). But, most of all, it has required the kindness of good whisky friends and a very (and always understanding!) generous wife.


The Dramble reviews Knockando 1978
Posted 30 August 2018 / In Knockando
The Dramble reviews Knockando 1978

When you’re starting to build up a collection of birth year whiskies, there are some ‘go to’ distilleries who regularly bottle vintage years – Glenfarclas’s Family Cask collection seems an obvious (if oft-times expensive) starting point, but likewise other distilleries, such as  Balblair, focus solely on vintage-based releases so might provide you with those all-important historic dates. If you were a child of the 70’s, 80’s or even 90’s one distillery which could be worth looking out for is the under-the-radar Knockando.


The Dramble's reviews North British 40 year old
Posted 29 August 2018 / In North British
The Dramble's reviews North British 40 year old

North British has been producing large quantities of grain whisky (1.25 million each week - primarily for blending) for over 120 years. But, increasingly, the distillery is being bottled as a single grain in its own right – Whiskybase lists thirty different independent expressions produced in 2017 – from a 6 year old Duncan Taylor Octave all the way to a 55 year old Douglas Laing XOP bottling. It seems somewhat strange that the distillery itself has not sought to bottle more of its own product – to date there’s only been four releases - two 1980 vintage cask strength expressions, and limited edition 40 and a 50 year olds.


The Dramble reviews William Cadenhead's 40 year old Single Speyside Malt (Glenfarclas)
Posted 28 August 2018 / In Glenfarclas
The Dramble reviews William Cadenhead's 40 year old Single Speyside Malt (Glenfarclas)

Mystery ‘undisclosed distillery’ bottlings invariably result in guesswork – sometimes reasoned, oft-times wild. In an effort to work out a distillery of origin, folks will assess the colour (is it obviously sherried?), the age statement, the vintage and even the ABV of unnamed bottlings. In doing so, perhaps they remove some of the enigmatic behind these bottlings, but who can blame them – everyone naturally loves to solve a puzzle. Sometimes unidentified bottlings come with subtle hints (Boutique-y Whisky’s cartoon labels love to lead folks on a merry dance for example), other times they’re much more obvious. Perhaps none more so than today’s 40 year old Single Speyside Malt bottled by Cadenhead’s, which rather bizarrely still lists the distillery quite clearly on the bottom of the bottle.


Posted 24 August 2018 / In Group

Much of the Fettercairn’s output is destined for owners Whyte & Mackay’s range of blended whiskies. But, the distillery has long produced a small range of single malt expressions – they’ve just been, until recently, a little under the radar of many malt enthusiasts. 2009 brought a brand revamp with a range of well-aged expressions alongside NAS releases Fior and Fasque. Earlier this year, saw a new attempt to introduce the distillery to the masses – four age statement bottlings from 12 to 50 years of age. The Dramble is looking forward to sampling and reviewing these latest releases (we’ve heard good things from several industry folks who’s opinions we regularly value), but in the meantime, we’ll be looking back, now almost a decade, at two releases from Fettercairn’s  previous ‘Vintage Range’.


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