Tastings

The Dramble reviews Elements of Islay Peat & Sherry TWE Exclusive
Posted 24 January 2020 / In Blend
The Dramble reviews Elements of Islay Peat & Sherry TWE Exclusive

The whisky industry’s use of sherry casks goes back to an age before even our grandparents were born. Their use being a factor of the economic realities of time, as much as for the flavours the would imbue into Scotch whisky. And yet, the combination of natural, elemental peat smoke with juicy, rich, sweet sherry has endured as an extremely popular style in its own right since. Sit down at any gathering of enthusiasts and I guarantee you there will be some form of split between peat-heads and sherry-monsters. And yet, present both of these groups with something drawn from right out the middle of their flavour preferences and you’ll likely find fans willing to cross the divide.


The Dramble reviews Dewar's White Label
Posted 22 January 2020 / In Blend
The Dramble reviews Dewar's White Label

There’s a little excitement today at Dramble Towers as we’ve reached the dizzyingly heights of our 1000th review. You’ve likely noticed already that we’re not going to be celebrating this milestone in quite the same way that most whisky sites would approach it. No legendary bottlings, no unobtainium liquid – not even an expensive snow globe that we’ll dare to open up, contrary to its secondary market ‘value’. Nope. For our 1000th review I’ve decided to go back to where it all began for me – not the first whisky I ever tried (that moment is lost to the annuls of time), but certainly the first whisky that I remember trying. And thinking about. The whisky which started me on my path to wider malt appreciation and exploration. A significant moment and with a salutary lesson attached – it’s important to always remember our whisky roots.


The Dramble reviews New Zealand 1988 28 year old TWE Exclusive
Posted 20 January 2020 / In Dunedin
The Dramble reviews New Zealand 1988 28 year old TWE Exclusive

As the adage goes “you don’t know what you’ve got until its gone”. Take a look at some of the most sought and fought over liquid out there – invariable (but not exclusively) you’ll see the names of countless closed and demolished distilleries. In simple terms, this is perfectly understandable – an innate fascination with all things old, rare, endangered and extinct has driven the human race for centuries. But at the same time history often remembers distilleries more kindly than the circumstances which led to their closure. What is now lauded over was not all that long ago regarded, at best, as surplus to requirements. Indeed, in many cases, I’d argue that the demise of the these distilleries is the only reason why the current generation of whisky enthusiasts have heard of some of time’s forgotten ventures.


The Dramble reviews Smooth Ambler Big Level
Posted 17 January 2020 / In Smooth Ambler
The Dramble reviews Smooth Ambler Big Level

100 years ago today the Voldstead Act came into effect commencing a period of 13 years where the manufacture, sale, importation and even transportation of alcohol was prohibited. Historically, Prohibition is viewed as a failure – the closure of breweries, distilleries and bars resulting in thousands of lost jobs – and the knock on effect on barrel making, haulage and hospitality eliminating thousands more. However, despite the period now being famed for the rise of moonshining and bootlegging, alcohol consumption was (perhaps unsurprisingly) lowered, and political support for temperance was retained until the Great Depression influenced voters priorities. Nevertheless, the effects of America’s dry spell can still be felt a Century later.


Posted 16 January 2020 / In Group

The whisky industry is continually searching for new methods to ‘educate’ customers. Cocktail serves, food and cigar pairings, tide pods – even occasional forays into music, art and technology. For the most part, this is all for the good – a more knowledgeable consumer is a consumer more likely to understand the contents of a bottle – where it’s come from, how it’s been crafted and what defines its quality and value. But at the same time, within a market which is becoming increasingly diverse and increasingly competitive, much of the education from distilleries themselves is understandable brand-led. Fundamentals yes, but at the end of the day - messaging which shouts ‘us rather than them’ and ‘our product over another’s’. All producers need to find a point of difference with which to position themselves within the market. But, as enthusiasts, it’s important to be mindful that our own learning is both holistic and ongoing.


The Dramble reviews Glenfarclas 25 year old London Edition TWE Exclusive
Posted 13 January 2020 / In Glenfarclas
The Dramble reviews Glenfarclas 25 year old London Edition TWE Exclusive

Some of you aren’t going to enjoy reading this. You’ve already made your mind up – there’s nothing I can say that will convince you. It’s just a fact. It has to happen eventually. It can’t keep going on like this…..can it?!? Well friends, as dogged and determinedly minded as some of you are, for all the talk of the impending collapse, of prices having to hit reverse, the situation to my mind looks virtually unchanged as it did 10 years ago. Actually, that’s disingenuous – it’s worse. Over the last 10 years I’ve seen countless articles (some with well rationed economic analyses) highlighting the inevitability of the beginning of the end – the bursting of the whisky bubble. And yet, a decade later, nothing remotely close to this has happened. Prices have not fallen, we’ve not all miraculously re-emerged into a cheaper whisky utopia. Today it’s high time we burst some bubbles of our own and I’m sorry to say it, but I believe there might not even be a whisky bubble…..


The Dramble reviews Daftmill 2008 cask 068 The Independent Whisky Bars of Scotland
Posted 09 January 2020 / In Daftmill
The Dramble reviews Daftmill 2008 cask 068 The Independent Whisky Bars of Scotland

Whisky hype is at an all-time high. These days, to buy a highly sought after release like a Daftmill takes a combination of effort and luck. Online, you need to constantly refresh pages and react to new releases with lightning click speeds. In person, you might need to camp on concrete for a night or even longer. Post-purchase, many bottles from hyped releases are delivered straight to auction houses, where the hype and the chase continues. It’s all a bit much. No wonder some people get disillusioned.


The Dramble reviews Glen Moray 2008 TWE Exclusive
Posted 07 January 2020 / In Glen Moray
The Dramble reviews Glen Moray 2008 TWE Exclusive

It’s estimated that there’s somewhere in the region of 20 million casks of whisky maturing on Scottish soil. I’m sure somewhere you’ll find an infographic showing how many times you could reach the moon if they were stacked head to head – regardless, it’s a staggering number. And of these 20 million casks, some 90% previously held bourbon. Ex-bourbon barrels have become the dominant cask type – but historically, this was far from the case. Way back when there was an abundance of sherry and wine casks (not quite the same as the ones you’ll see today). Similarly, there were times when US distillers were not mandated to solely utilise virgin American oak – and the symbiotic relationship which now provides much of Scotland’s cask inventory was not yet established. Ex-bourbon has seen a remarkable growth over the past 100 years. And, I’d posit that’s likely why it’s significance for Scotch distilling is often underappreciated.


The Dramble reviews Kilkerran 8 year old Cask Strength Re-charred Oloroso Sherry Casks
Posted 03 January 2020 / In Glengyle
The Dramble reviews Kilkerran 8 year old Cask Strength Re-charred Oloroso Sherry Casks

Regardless of where you are on your whisky journey, you’ll no doubt have stumbled across the curse that is ‘complexity’. Complexity in alcohol is both desirable and actively sought out – but as a concept, it’s also something which is oft-times either poorly defined or rarely agreed upon. The Internet doesn’t help things - a drink will often be described as complex simply because its tasting note has become too long. The use of near endless descriptors (and in some cases the overzealous use of online thesauruses) seems to demand that a drink with such a wide rubric must, ergo, be complex. But, by equating complexity with ‘more things to taste’, we’re missing out on a whole host of markers for quality and simply focussing on volume alone.


The Dramble reviews Teeling 1991 27 year old TWE Exclusive
Posted 02 January 2020 / In Teeling
The Dramble reviews Teeling 1991 27 year old TWE Exclusive

Happy New Year and welcome back to The Dramble. Following a recharge of the batteries over the festive period, we’re now back and ready to kick off our fourth season. Whilst many of you likely enjoyed a few more drams than normal over the last couple of weeks  – I often use the holiday period as an opportunity to give both my palate and my whisky brain a rest. That’s not to say that there’s been an absence of whisky consumption here – far from it – but my drinking of late has been purely for enjoyment and not for analysis. The two are far from synonymous.


The Dramble reviews That Boutique-y Whisky Company Cambus 28 Year Old Batch 11
Posted 25 December 2019 / In Cambus
The Dramble reviews That Boutique-y Whisky Company Cambus 28 Year Old Batch 11

Merry Christmas! We won’t keep you too long here today – you’ve hopefully got people to greet and things to eat – but if you’re looking for 3 minutes away from the in-laws, we’ve got you covered. Grab a dram, find a quiet space, kick back and enjoy. We’ve had a memorable year, with over 116,000 visitors to thedramble.com, reading nearly 225,000 pages. And, of course, a true highpoint in achieving our first listing in the Malt Whisky Yearbook 2020. 


The Dramble reviews That Boutique-y Whisky Company Ben Nevis 21 Year Old Batch 8
Posted 24 December 2019 / In Ben Nevis
The Dramble reviews That Boutique-y Whisky Company Ben Nevis 21 Year Old Batch 8

When writing about whisky, there are times when aromas and flavours are challengingly stubborn to try to describe. They might be a little unformed and unfocussed, they might straddle two or more different aromas and flavours – making honing in tricky. Or they might simply just be ‘funky’. There are a few distillates which are often described as possessing a ‘funk’ about them. In my view, the word is bandied around all too often – usually when  the writer is having an moment of inability to adequately describe something. Nevertheless, ‘funk’ can have meaning when defined in context.


The Dramble reviews That Boutique-y Whisky Company Heaven Hill American Whiskey 9 Year Old  Batch 1
Posted 23 December 2019 / In Heaven Hill
The Dramble reviews That Boutique-y Whisky Company Heaven Hill American Whiskey 9 Year Old  Batch 1

American whiskey is often used as a catch-all term for spirits made outside of the more stringent regulations for both bourbon and rye. That said, there are still a few specific requirements for producing whiskey under this umbrella term. There are a small number of exceptions (state to state variation), but American whiskey must be: distilled to less than 95% ABV; stored in oak containers; bottled at a minimum of 40% ABV and (and this is where the flexibility comes in) – must possess the taste, aroma and characteristics generally attributed to whisky. As with both bourbon and rye, to be labelled as ‘straight whiskey’  the liquid must be aged at least two years and contain no additives.


The Dramble reviews That Boutique-y Whisky Company Clynelish 21 Year Old Batch 7
Posted 22 December 2019 / In Clynelish
The Dramble reviews That Boutique-y Whisky Company Clynelish 21 Year Old Batch 7

Mouthfeel is an essential part of the whisky drinking experience. After nosing, but before tasting, how a liquid behaves in the mouth inherent drives our overall experience of it. Is it fatty and sticky – concentrating around the gums? – or is it wishy and thin, dissipating almost as soon as it hits the surface of the mouth? I’m genuinely surprised by how infrequently whisky writers comment on the mouthfeel, texture and weight of spirit – for me, it’s one of the fundamental underpinnings of what differentiates excellent whisky from average whisky.


The Dramble reviews That Boutique-y Whisky Company Linkwood 10 Year Old Batch 8
Posted 21 December 2019 / In Linkwood
The Dramble reviews That Boutique-y Whisky Company Linkwood 10 Year Old Batch 8

For 13 years, Linkwood was in fact two distilleries. Originally constructed in 1821, and completely rebuilt in 1874, it was joined by a second distillery (Linkwood ‘B’) in 1972 when a DCL (the forerunner of Diageo) upped the capacity of the whole site by running both distilleries alongside each other until 1985. Over this period, the newer Linkwood was used to maintain the bulk of the overall production – whilst the older site was utilised in a more experimental vein. Research – not necessarily released as funky bottling – that’s more a thing of the present than the past explored a range of distillation based themes  - from reflux and copper contact through to the use of wormtubs. The original site was demolished in 2012 – whilst Linkwood B continues to expand, now producing in excess of 5.5m LPA.


Posted 20 December 2019 / In Group

I’ve already written at length about the long-standing link between Christmas and boozing last month, but, as we head into the final straight of the 2019 Boutique-y Advent calendar, my thoughts started to turn to the point where we all thought that encouraging everyone to have a drink for 24 days in a row was a good idea. When did daily dramming became a regular fixture of the whisky drinking year? It was rather the long time ago (gosh, heading towards 40 decades now) that my sister and I took turns opening the doors of the simplistic but lovingly made nativity calendar only to reveal a drawing of something festive. That’s it. Just a drawing. And, we were satisfied with that. The fact that we argued over who got to opened door number 24 to reveal the star of Bethlehem says quite a lot about how life was much simpler then.


The Dramble reviews that Boutique-y Whisky Company Cotswolds 3 Year Old Batch 1
Posted 18 December 2019 / In Cotswolds
The Dramble reviews that Boutique-y Whisky Company Cotswolds 3 Year Old Batch 1

We would like to imagine that whisky blenders and bottlers choose to purchase and bottle their casks by walking through mouldy dunnage warehouses, smelling out classic whiskies like airport sniffer dogs. The truth, though, is that industry decisions are more often made from spreadsheets. In the distant future when spreadsheets seem archaic, we’ll hear on tours how some distilleries still use a second-hand copy of Excel 95 for their cask management because it was built so well it never broke and they’re too traditional to risk changing what they do.


The Dramble reviews That Boutique-y Whisky Company Macduff 10 Year Old Batch 8
Posted 17 December 2019 / In Macduff
The Dramble reviews That Boutique-y Whisky Company Macduff 10 Year Old Batch 8

It’s little wonder that few outside of enthusiast circles have heard of Macduff Distillery. For starters, much of the site’s production goes into blended output – both for the recognisable Dewars, and also for the little known (in the UK at least), but apparently 6th bestselling Scotch in the world – William Lawsons – Russia’s largest imported spirit brand. Who’d have thunk it. But, the distillery’s general anonymity also stems from its preponderance for using different names – Macduff for independent bottlings, Glen Deveron for global travel retail and The Deveron for an OB age statement range. You’ve likely passed Glen Deveron on the shelves within many airports – you’d be forgiven for walking on with a vague shrug of the shoulders.


The Dramble reviews That Boutique-y Whisky Company Islay #3 13 Year Old Batch 4
Posted 16 December 2019 / In Laphroaig
The Dramble reviews That Boutique-y Whisky Company Islay #3 13 Year Old Batch 4

Peat is far from a monolithic substance. Whenever you’re dealing with something created by nature there’s always variances. In terms of peat, many of you will be aware of how topographical differences make a difference to the aromas and flavours that peat smoke can imbue into barley – the easiest to understand being that of the variances between the sea and salt-licked Isle of Islay peat and the gentler heather inflected soils of the highlands. But, far from being simply different in its chemical composition, peat behaves differently (and sometimes inconsistently) when it enters the various stages of the whisky making process.


The Dramble reviews Boutique-y Whisky Irish Single Malt #1 13 year old Batch 2
Posted 15 December 2019 / In Undisclosed Ireland
The Dramble reviews Boutique-y Whisky Irish Single Malt #1 13 year old Batch 2

Day 14 of the 2019 Boutique-y Whisky Advent calendar offers up batch 2 of Irish Single Malt #1 13 year old. We reviewed this back in 2018 so are presenting an updated version of that original post for you today. Batch 2 batch consists of 2,200 bottles delivered at 48.4% ABV. They’re available for £58.95 from Master of Malt (a little over a pound cheaper than this time last year). Whilst the distillery this whiskey originates from is undisclosed - being an Irish single malt, the choices, in terms of the style and age, limit this to either Cooley or Bushmills. I’d certainly err towards the latter.


Distilleries

Bottlers

Scotland (846)
Aberfeldy (8)
Aberlour (12)
Ailsa Bay (2)
Ardbeg (15)
Ardmore (11)
Arran (24)
Auchroisk (4)
Aultmore (8)
Balblair (14)
Balmenach (4)
Balvenie (11)
Ben Nevis (6)
BenRiach (9)
Benrinnes (10)
Benromach (7)
Bladnoch (5)
Bowmore (12)
Braeval (4)
Cambus (3)
Caol Ila (25)
Cardhu (1)
Clynelish (9)
Daftmill (4)
Dailuaine (8)
Dalmore (16)
Deanston (7)
Dufftown (3)
Dumbarton (1)
Edenmill (1)
Edradour (7)
Girvan (1)
Glen Grant (13)
Glen Moray (20)
Glen Ord (3)
Glen Spey (1)
Glengoyne (14)
Glengyle (5)
Glenlivet (12)
Glenlossie (10)
Glenrothes (10)
Hazelburn (2)
Imperial (1)
Inchgower (1)
Kilchoman (5)
Knockando (1)
Knockdhu (6)
Lagavulin (3)
Laphroaig (23)
Linkwood (10)
Lochnagar (1)
Longmorn (9)
Longrow (4)
Macallan (11)
Macduff (3)
Mortlach (11)
Oban (3)
Scapa (1)
Speyburn (8)
Speyside (1)
Springbank (10)
Talisker (6)
Tamdhu (3)
Teaninich (5)
Tobermory (27)
Tomatin (10)
Tomintoul (2)
Tormore (4)
Wolfburn (3)
Canada (3)
Europe (19)
Cotswolds (3)
Langatun (1)
Locher (1)
Mackmyra (8)
Penderyn (2)
Ireland (27)
Bushmills (5)
Midleton (12)
Teeling (5)
Tullamore (1)
Japan (31)
Chichibu (6)
Chita (1)
Eigashima (1)
Hakushu (2)
Yamazaki (2)
Yoichi (2)
Rest of the World (4)
Dunedin (1)
Paul John (1)
Starward (1)
Taiwan (6)
King Car (5)
Nantou (1)
USA (31)
Balcones (1)
Bernheim (2)
Jim Beam (1)
Lux Row (1)