The Dramble reviews Mackmyra Stjärnrök
Posted 12 October 2021 / In Mackmyra
The Dramble reviews Mackmyra Stjärnrök

Sometimes my sweet tooth has a craving for a rich and indulgent dessert. Sticky toffee pudding. Box ticked. At other times, my savoury senses hanker for seafood – big, fat juicy prawns. Delicious. But never does my palate hunger for both…at the same time. If you’ve made sticky toffee prawn pudding you’ve fucked up. Life is packed full of magnetism and inseparability. But it is equally laden with confliction, imbalance and disassociation. Not everything can and should belong together.

The Dramble reviews Redbreast Pedro Ximenez Edition
Posted 05 October 2021 / In Midleton
The Dramble reviews Redbreast Pedro Ximenez Edition

Sit down. Get comfortable. You’re listening to me so you can relax. And because you’re relaxed you can feel comfortable. Comfort builds more relaxation so you can relax even more comfortably. And because you’re relaxing right now, you know you can feel even more comfort developing inside of you. Breathe. Take a moment to yourself. Close your eyes. Ready? I want you to put aside the limited editions. Forget the stampedes for the latest new and shiny things. Disregard the collection peacocking. Ignore the incessant need to justify your whisky self-worth on the Internet. Just relax. And remember that the beating heart of whisky isn’t the bottles – it is and always will be the people.

The Dramble reviews Caol Ila 2007 13 year old Equinox and Solstice Autumn Edition 2021
Posted 22 September 2021 / In Caol Ila
The Dramble reviews Caol Ila 2007 13 year old Equinox and Solstice Autumn Edition 2021

Oh drinkers, what a contrary bunch you can be. One minute gobbling up near endless consecutive cask numbers like Pacman – the next bemoaning a new release from one of the most consistent producers out there because, well “it’s just another Caol Ila”. I don’t fully understand why some folks get such a glum face on over many Caol Ila bottlings – it isn’t just bottled frequently because it’s the largest distillery on Islay – it’s bottled frequently because it’s routinely excellent. Indeed, I’d posit that if you’ve bottled anything less than a “good” Caol Ila – you fucked up.

The Dramble reviews Hibiki Blender's Choice
Posted 17 September 2021 / In Suntory (Blended)
The Dramble reviews Hibiki Blender's Choice

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.

Posted 15 September 2021 / In Group

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 / In Talisker
The Dramble reviews Talisker 8 year old 2011 Special Releases 2020

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
Posted 01 September 2021 / In Blend
The Dramble reviews Compass Box Hedonism

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.

Posted 19 August 2021 / In Group

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.

Posted 11 August 2021 / In Group

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.

Posted 05 August 2021 / In Group

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.


Posted 04 August 2021 / In Group

“I’m superstitious about writer’s block to the extent I don’t particularly feel like devoting a great deal of time to dwelling on it. It seems like getting stuck in a desert, a nightmare. But there are definitely times when the inspiration flows more freely than not. It seems to me that writing is a muscle: it gets stronger the more you use it. If you let yourself fall out of the habit, it can be hard to get back in form. Writing a regular column keeps you limber and sharp and guarantees that any fear of writer’s block is kept at bay.” John Alvon, Editor in Chief, The Daily Beast

The Dramble reviews Whiskymax Ardmore 2013 6 year old Icons of Scotland
Posted 29 July 2021 / In Ardmore
The Dramble reviews Whiskymax Ardmore 2013 6 year old Icons of Scotland

The long-standing and often repeated saying observes that “whisky is best shared”. It is a phrase which highlights the cosiness of conviviality that is the collective experience of enjoying a dram. And it is a phrase that alludes to whisky being a drink which is to be consumed. No arguments there. But it’s all too easy to forget – especially after a year of living life largely through a digital lens – that whisky can, and often does, offer far more than just the triptych of nose, palate and finish. Whisky *is* more than what is inside of the bottle.

Posted 23 July 2021 / In Group

Whilst the act of venting on social media might make you feel momentarily better – crying about missed bottles and calling out distilleries and allocations methods only stands to make obtaining future bottles either tougher, or more expensive, or more than likely - both. Internet chatter will have you believe that bots, career speculators and ninjas from the League of Assassins are solely responsible for the instantaneous acquisition of any and all releases deemed as ‘chasey’. But the truth of the matter is that there’s a raft of individuals sweeping up whisky bottles who don’t know a damn thing about what they’re buying – they’ve just observed you and others publicly grousing and utilise this as a smoke signal to get in on the action.

The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Edradour 2003 18 year old
Posted 20 July 2021 / In Edradour
The Dramble reviews Whisky Sponge Edradour 2003 18 year old

It’s hot in the UK right now. Too hot. But whilst I’m feeling weary, fatigued and a little sluggish that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m being entirely unproductive. Things are just taking a little longer at present (like writing - sorry folks). The same is true of oak – it is a false assertion that a tired cask is an entirely dead cask – there are methods to both reinvigorate wood and to utilise and harness its characteristics at a point where it exhibits lower levels of activity. Indeed, some of the most famous and lauded bottlings have been matured in wood which nowadays some would argue was knackered.

The Dramble reviews Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Whisky
Posted 14 July 2021 / In Blend
The Dramble reviews Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Whisky

I have come to dislike the term “beginner whisky”. It is a misleading and loaded moniker which often does a disservice to both the intrinsic quality of whiskies and in particular to the intent and target audience of certain bottlings. The name itself suggests several characteristics: that this whisky is unsuited for those who aren’t beginners; that the being of a beginner and thus enjoying so-called beginner’s whisky is but a formative period of time before you head off to discover the ‘real stuff’; and that there’s a selection of transcendent olfactory aptitudes that can only be developed with a concerted input of both time and money – after which, it is possible to rise to a level of enjoying  “expert whisky” (which is also not a thing either).

The Dramble reviews Arran 1996 24 year old TWE Exclusive
Posted 06 July 2021 / In Arran
The Dramble reviews Arran 1996 24 year old TWE Exclusive

It starts at a young age. A tantalisingly empty Panini album whose pages beseech to be filled. Over time, sticker by sticker, through purchase and through trade, the gaps are slowly satisfied until all that remains are the hardest to find - Radja Nainggolan (the Belgium midfielder) apparently being the unicorn for the 2018 World Cup album – who’d have known? However most kids, and in particular their parents, aren’t prepared for the expense of purchasing the near 1,000 packs required to ensure the completeness of their Panini album and as such the majority sit, unfinished gathering dust. Fast-forward to 2021 and this mindset of completeness is far from limited to collecting images of men in shorts – indeed, when it comes to whisky, this preoccupation is increasingly becoming warped into a mentality that it's all or nothing.

Posted 01 July 2021 / In Group

It has been eight months. Eight long months since we last ventured into Greville Street to put pen to paper for an outturn review. And I can honestly say that it feels great to be back. Back to the Society. Back to exploring the monthly outturns and most importantly – back to catching up with lovely members. And of course Phil. 

The Dramble reviews Balblair 2005 TWE Exclusive
Posted 29 June 2021 / In Balblair
The Dramble reviews Balblair 2005 TWE Exclusive

Despite incessant media and enthusiast-driven hype, increasing bottle hysteria and more than a touch of elaborate marketing and beautifying packaging, whisky is rather the humble drink. Formed from just barley, yeast and water – even your evening beer has at least one more base ingredient added at its point of creation. And yet it is the elevation, over time, of these normally unassuming components which takes whisky from its modest roots and transforms it into something which can be equally as enchanted as it is diverting.

The Dramble reviews Paul John Brilliance
Posted 22 June 2021 / In John Distilleries
The Dramble reviews Paul John Brilliance

With all the focus on limited editions, chasey-exclusives, near-constant, locked-down digital dramming and bizarre Insta photos of sealed bottles artfully posed in places where they most certainly don’t belong (I can make a few additional suggestions of where you can put them) – it’s all too easy for folk to quickly lose sight of the fact that whisky and socialisation are deeply entwined. Whether father, mother, sister or brother. Whether best friend or newest friend. Whether new arrival or dearly departed. The sharing of a dram has been a point of social bonding for generations.

The Dramble reviews Highland Park 2007 13 year old Decadent Drinks Exclusive
Posted 16 June 2021 / In Highland Park
The Dramble reviews Highland Park 2007 13 year old Decadent Drinks Exclusive

It should come as no surprise that mankind has always had an obsession with measuring things. The earliest documented examples of weights and measures originates around the 3rd millennium BC and invariably revolves around the quantification of things related to agriculture, construction or trade. All of significant import for early civilisations. Perhaps the very first measure we’re aware of some 5,000 years later is the cubit which was used by the ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, Israelites and later Romans as a common unit of measurement based on the distance from the elbow to the middle finger. It’s all rather the far cry from today where units are both standardised and infinitesimally precise. A simpler time where the counting of the number of ‘shares’ and ‘likes’ and making pictorial comparisons with Coke cans just weren’t really the done things.



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