Tastings

The Dramble reviews Rebel Yell Cognac Barrel Finish
Posted 25 September 2020 / In Lux Row
The Dramble reviews Rebel Yell Cognac Barrel Finish

As a younger man my father was always keen to remind me of the folklore wisdom of “grape or grain, but never the twain”. But like a bad chef always blaming their tools, it’s an easy excuse to lay the culpability for a hangover on mixed drinking as opposed to either the intake volume or simply dehydration. Whilst reality provides zero scientific evidence that combining different alcohol types will (in isolation) produce an increasingly undesirable effect – anecdotally many drinkers, myself included, are rather fond of the different configurations of aroma and flavour that it’s possible to produce from amalgamation and experimentation. Sorry Dad.


The Dramble reviews Arran Kildonan and Pladda Island 21 year old
Posted 23 September 2020 / In Arran
The Dramble reviews Arran Kildonan and Pladda Island 21 year old

People have been tasting things for as long as they’ve been putting stuff in their mouths. But how long have they been observing what they’re tasting? Early forays into food and drink were more focussed on the life sustaining properties of consuming things as opposed to systematically breaking down those experiences and the differences in aroma, texture and flavour. Things were simpler then - apple = good – ominous-looking mushroom = bad. And the same is true for alcohol. We’ve been boozing much longer than we’ve been musing about boozing.


The Dramble reviews Ledaig 1995 24 year old Chapter 7 Monologue
Posted 18 September 2020 / In Tobermory
The Dramble reviews Ledaig 1995 24 year old Chapter 7 Monologue

The versatility of whisky never ceases to amaze me. Significant and perceptible variances in profile and character manifest themselves not just between different distilleries – who don’t forget, largely make spirit using the same core processes - but also between the output of different seasons, years and even down to the level of the divergences that are possible between individual casks. Two identical woods filled with the same run of the same spirit on the same day – stored side-by-side for a decade and still tasting remarkably dissimilar. Mind blown. The changeability of whisky is a truly remarkable thing. And as much as I like to contrast spirits to what I perceive as their core representation – their natural zenith – I still always crave a little wonderment in my whisky.


The Dramble reviews Signatory Vintage Longmorn 2002 17 year old TWE Exclusive
Posted 16 September 2020 / In Longmorn
The Dramble reviews Signatory Vintage Longmorn 2002 17 year old TWE Exclusive

You’ve more than likely tasted whisky from Longmorn distillery even if you’re not cognisant of doing so. The usually understated and often underrated Speysider has been quietly buttressing myriads of blended whiskies since its foundation in 1894. Ever sampled Chivas Regal? Well, whilst the core of that world-renowned Scotch comes from Strathisla, much of the fruit-forward character is derived from the dressing malt component of Longmorn. And it’s that same fruity charm that regularly sees enthusiasts on the lookout for exceptional single malt bottlings of the distillery’s spirit. But there’s one small problem – whilst Longmorn’s place as a high regarded blended component is assured, it’s presentation as an official single malt has never really (particularly over the last few years) captivated the market.


The Dramble reviews Signatory Vintage Glenlivet 2007 13 year old TWE Exclusive
Posted 14 September 2020 / In Glenlivet
The Dramble reviews Signatory Vintage Glenlivet 2007 13 year old TWE Exclusive

The fate of casks is often decided before their birth – sourced, purchased, filled, monitored and disgorged to fulfil a forecasted future need. Whilst the industry loves to spin yarns about happenstances, twists of fate and barrel disappearance (and associated miraculous reappearances) the reality of inventory management, particularly in the digitised era necessitates that every cask is filled with a purpose in mind. There’s just too much long-term investment at stake to be filling for fillings sake. A predeliction foir either ex-bourbon or sherry - depending on the distillery’s chosen style and distillate character - will often be found as cask filling mainstay. Ol’ reliable. But even experimental casks are ‘born’ with an intention - to assess the versatility of a spirit to more unusual wood types, fill types and/or maturation conditions. Nothing is done by accident, no matter how hard the marketing tries to persuade you.


The Dramble reviews Signatory Vintage Mortlach 2008 TWE Exclusive
Posted 11 September 2020 / In Mortlach
The Dramble reviews Signatory Vintage Mortlach 2008 TWE Exclusive

There are times in life when a metaphorical F5 button needs to be struck. A break. A change. A refresh. As someone who’s job(s) require him to spend much of his waking life writing things – I.E. stuck behind a computer screen – the last six months have in many ways seemed suspended in time. I’m *still* behind said computer screen, only now there are far fewer methods for escape. Whisky, and my continued association with it has provided even more of a much-needed solace this year as it has in years gone by – but equally, sometimes a respite and a breather still occasionally feel required. Can there be too much of a good thing?


The Dramble reviews Ardnamurchan Spirit 2019/AD
Posted 09 September 2020 / In Ardnamurchan
The Dramble reviews Ardnamurchan Spirit 2019/AD

When does a child become an adult? Is it when they take on certain responsibilities – a spouse, a job or their own child? Or perhaps when they are trusted to consume alcohol, tobacco, or over-the-counter drugs? How about when they are considered fully responsible for their criminal actions? Or maybe it’s when their body and their brain have reached maturity? These ages of adulthood are mostly subjective and they vary across countries, across time periods, and in some cases across individuals. There will never be one clearly correct answer and any one age chosen as the start of adulthood is arbitrary.


Posted 03 September 2020 / In Group

September’s SMWS outturn sees the unveiling of the 2020 Gathering bottlings and, out of necessity, a move to digitally based events to celebrate the Society’s home in the Vaults at Leith. Whilst only into its second year, I’m wondering whether this iteration of the SMWS festival might provide a few useful learnings. As a global members society SMWS has often felt a little too tied to its ‘spiritual home’ – and whilst it’s quite the task (particularly in places where no venue exists) to arrange physical events, this year’s “Global Gathering” might well provide the international focus which this commemoration surely necessitates.


The Dramble reviews Chorlton Whisky Ruadh Maor 2010 8 year old
Posted 01 September 2020 / In Glenturret
The Dramble reviews Chorlton Whisky Ruadh Maor 2010 8 year old

My initial forays into Peated Glenturret were during 2018 – when it was first bottled by independents. These had me hooked immediately. In its purest form - Ruadh Maor – offers a uniquely irregular dive into a smoky whisky that is both off the well-walked path, but also invariably wonderfully high impact. It’s a challenging, tasting note defying spirit and a whisky that I find myself actively seeking out - and I’m here to let you know why you too should be paying more attention to it. But don’t tell anyone. It’s our little secret.


The Dramble reviews Mackmyra Jaktlycka
Posted 28 August 2020 / In Mackmyra
The Dramble reviews Mackmyra Jaktlycka

It feels like something of an uncomfortable routine by now. Another week - another whisky show cancelled. But at the same time, another forty virtual events springing up to fill the void. Whilst I’m of the belief that physical whisky gatherings (of any real size and scale) will sadly have to wait until after the New Year – the leveraging of the virtual world is surely not just a flash in the pan. Whilst some distilleries and brands have been painfully slow to react to changing world events, others have seized the day and jumped at the chance to broaden their reach and impact.


The Dramble reviews Springbank 1992 27 year old IAAS
Posted 26 August 2020 / In Springbank
The Dramble reviews Springbank 1992 27 year old IAAS

Whisky is littered with ‘what ifs’: the hyped bottling that didn’t deliver the goods; the tasting which couldn’t live up to the build-up; the tour which promised much but ended up delivering far less. Whisky is experiential – and as such, expectations and anticipation become fundamental drivers of our desires to continue to explore the category. However as with any pursuit, left unfettered expectations invariably turn into a source of negativity. Whilst humans are driven to experience things, they also (seemingly increasingly) become easily bored. As whisky lovers experience more, they naturally expect more – a dram better than the last one, the best tasting of the year and the greater distillery tour…EVA. But in putting our past experiences on such a pedestal it’s all too easy to wander through life dwelling only on the times when our expectations were not fulfilled.


The Dramble reviews That Boutique-y Whisky Company Nantou 4 year old Batch 1
Posted 24 August 2020 / In Nantou
The Dramble reviews That Boutique-y Whisky Company Nantou 4 year old Batch 1

It’s all too easy to forget that the whisky world exists outside of the enthusiast bubble. Whilst fans get all het up about pricing, allocations, terroir, re-brands <delete as appropriate>, your average non-convert is much more inclined to dive into an impassioned but wholly inaccurate explanation of whisky with or without the ‘e’. Like many hobbies, folks move at different speeds and with different levels of knowledge. And similarly to the weekly ‘with or without the e’ dispute - the general level of familiarity with ‘world whisky’ is arguably presently poor. To the great unwashed, whisky is invariable Scottish, and whiskey is Irish or American – the produce of other nations is oft-times reduced to that of mere perceived novelty, or simply regarded as not the ‘real deal’.


Posted 20 August 2020 / In Group

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the current buoyancy of whisky would make launching a new bottling company a breeze. An endless stream of new expressions - all eagerly lapped up in minutes. Eye-watering prices that the punter seems continually happy to pay. There’s money to be made here. Retirement beckons. A few phone calls to your mate, who knows a guy who knows a guy – and bobs your uncle. From the outside-in it all looks and sounds temptingly straight forward; “if you build it, he will come”. But the realities of bottling are far from a walk in the park. There are mistakes which can and will be made. And all of these will cost you your money, time and sanity.


Posted 17 August 2020 / In Group

Taking the piss is a Commonwealth pejorative term meaning to take liberties at the expense of others, or to be joking, or to be unreasonable. It is a shortening of the idiom taking the piss out of, which is an expression meaning to mock, tease, joke, ridicule, or scoff. It is not to be confused with "taking a piss", which refers to the act of urinating. 

Wikipedia (No.1 bestest copy and paste site for budding whisky bloggers)


The Dramble reviews Glenrothes 2006 13 year old The Waxhouse Whisky Company
Posted 12 August 2020 / In Glenrothes
The Dramble reviews Glenrothes 2006 13 year old The Waxhouse Whisky Company

The familiarity of certain whiskies can be a reassurance. An ever-dependable dram of known quality and understood character. There are countless ‘house styles’ that after a period of drinking become recognisable to the drinker. And they can offer a sense of comforting consistency. But equally, as the saying goes – familiarity can breed contempt. At what point are your palate and your mind fatigued to a level that a divergence from these norms is actively sought? Or indeed are house styles a measure by which all expressions can, and should, be evaluated against?


Posted 06 August 2020 / In Group

It has been sometime - six whole months in fact. A lot has happened since our last SMWS outturn review – much of it covered in other quarters of The Dramble. But in terms of Society goings-on we’ve seen closed venues, continued website woes and plenty of unsightly FyOMO (Fury of Missing Out) over this year’s Feis Bottlings. But it’s important to note that we’ve also witnessed a raft of new digital offerings, forward-thinking membership surveys and, what I hope is a new approach from SMWS that recognises that every member should be valued and treated equally. The future should be brighter.


The Dramble reviews Bowmore Bicentenary
Posted 05 August 2020 / In Bowmore
The Dramble reviews Bowmore Bicentenary

Regardless of your stance on the desirability (and affordability) of old-style whisky, it is indisputably true that spirit profiles have changed, some quite radically, over the past half century. Whilst the core transformative processes of milling, mashing, fermenting, distilling and maturation remain conceptually the same – the actual application of these techniques has been adapted, tinkered with, and in many cases completely modernised many times over. Whisky doesn’t remain the same. And nor should any of us want it to – variety is the spice of life – and I quickly tire of being beaten by the vanilla stick. In fifty years’ time whisky will not be completely uniform to the liquid that you’re enjoying today. It changes out of necessity – and as such, there will always be an interest and a market for exploring the variances and different styles of historical whiskies - a glass into the past.


The Dramble reviews Glenglassaugh 30 year old
Posted 03 August 2020 / In Glenglassaugh
The Dramble reviews Glenglassaugh 30 year old

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain. Frank Herbert, Dune


The Dramble review Aird Mhor 2009 9 year old The Whisky Exchange
Posted 31 July 2020 / In Ardmore
The Dramble review Aird Mhor 2009 9 year old The Whisky Exchange

Despite being publically unveiled as a core expression in 1983 by Balvenie for their Double Wood (and very likely having been practiced hidden away from prying eyes in warehouses years before this)  – cask finishing is still regularly described as a ‘new technique’. A bewildering assessment of the passage of time considering that in the same year the UK was being introduced to the wonders of the Pound coin, mandatory driver seat belts and the timeless expression “Can I have a P please Bob”. A significant number of today’s whisky enthusiasts were nothing more than the promise of a good night out in 1983 – and yet tradition is quite the adhesive concept. Whilst whisky is always moving forwards, perceptions usually follow at a much more languorous pace.


The Dramble reviews The Whisky Works King of Trees
Posted 29 July 2020 / In Blend
The Dramble reviews The Whisky Works King of Trees

“Nothing lasts forever, so live it up, drink it down, laugh it off, avoid the drama, take chances & never have regrets, because at one point everything you did was exactly what you wanted.” – Marilyn Monroe


Distilleries

Bottlers

Scotland (939)
Aberfeldy (8)
Aberlour (13)
Ailsa Bay (2)
Ardbeg (18)
Ardmore (14)
Arran (25)
Auchroisk (5)
Aultmore (8)
Balblair (14)
Balmenach (4)
Balvenie (11)
Ben Nevis (6)
BenRiach (9)
Benrinnes (11)
Benromach (8)
Bladnoch (5)
Bowmore (17)
Braeval (7)
Cambus (3)
Caol Ila (30)
Cardhu (1)
Clynelish (13)
Daftmill (4)
Dailuaine (8)
Dalmore (16)
Deanston (7)
Dufftown (3)
Dumbarton (1)
Edenmill (1)
Edradour (8)
Girvan (1)
Glen Grant (13)
Glen Moray (24)
Glen Ord (3)
Glen Spey (2)
Glengoyne (14)
Glengyle (5)
Glenlivet (14)
Glenlossie (11)
Glenrothes (12)
Hazelburn (2)
Imperial (1)
Inchgower (1)
Kilchoman (5)
Knockando (1)
Knockdhu (6)
Lagavulin (3)
Laphroaig (28)
Linkwood (10)
Lochnagar (1)
Longmorn (11)
Longrow (4)
Macallan (11)
Macduff (4)
Mortlach (12)
Oban (3)
Scapa (1)
Speyburn (9)
Speyside (1)
Springbank (11)
Talisker (7)
Tamdhu (3)
Teaninich (5)
Tobermory (31)
Tomatin (11)
Tomintoul (4)
Tormore (5)
Wolfburn (3)
Canada (3)
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Langatun (1)
Locher (1)
Mackmyra (10)
Penderyn (2)
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Bushmills (7)
Midleton (20)
Teeling (5)
Tullamore (1)
Japan (34)
Chichibu (9)
Chita (1)
Eigashima (1)
Hakushu (2)
Yamazaki (2)
Yoichi (2)
Rest of the World (5)
Dunedin (1)
Paul John (1)
Starward (1)
Taiwan (8)
King Car (6)
Nantou (2)
USA (35)
Balcones (1)
Bernheim (2)
Jim Beam (1)
Lux Row (2)