@dvdbloke – The year that was in whisky 2018. @Cotswoldistill @Bruichladdich @GlenMorayDist @BoutiqueyWhisky @AldiUK @Glendronach @WhiskyShow @WMCadenhead @claxtonsspirits @gordon_macphail @SpecialReleases @FettercairnWh @Springbank1828 @Tomatin1897 @NorthStarWhisky

I don’t do awards or anything like that. They don’t mean anything at all in the grand scheme of things and everything in the tasting world is subjective. However. Just like everyone I do have an opinion so I’m putting mine out there this year to round off things with a few favourite drams and bottles I’ve experienced throughout the year. All opinions are my own. There will not be a best whisky of the year, just a bunch loosely categorised. Please bear in mind. I haven’t tried everything. Not everything I tried would have been in the best circumstances either, but the below stood out for me. They took me in the moment and continue to do so, and they resulted in buys and in some cases re-buys…and even re-re-buys…

 

Most enjoyed whisky under £50

Cotswolds Whisky. At 3 years of age it’s amazing stuff. This distillery is going to continue to be the bees knees. They give a damn about what they do and that’s evident in the production of affordable and quality whisky. Their new Founder’s Choice which is a little more expensive, but essentially a Cotswold’s Cask Strength variation is also superb stuff.

Runners up

Port Charlotte 10. The re-release of the classic PC doesn’t disappoint. Its beautiful, full of flavour and has a gorgeous new bottle. Highly recommended.

Glen Moray Bottle Your Own – all of them. Ive had some smashing whisky from the bottle your own offerings from Glen Moray. I’m practically a subscriber now. They are epic value for money. Always recommended.

That Boutique-y Whisky – Glen Moray 10 Batch 2 – Another unexpected surprise from the whisky show. An unexpected beauty! A wonderful fruity number from Glen Moray bottled by That Boutique-y whisky company, loved it!

Greatest bang for buck whisky.

Glen Moray Cabernet Cask finish – in fact their Port Cask and Sherry Cask finishes are also right up there in the bang for your buck department. At ~£25 a bottle this fails to disappoint on every level. It’s truly delicious, drinkable and an absolute treat.

Runners up

Kilkerran 12 year old. Not a lot to be said. Most of you will know this one and what a stupendous value for money whisky this is.

Aldi Irish 26 year old. Technically last years. But still well worthy of a mention. It’s whisky fruit juice at its finest and still can be picked up at auction at what I would say is a very reasonable price (~£50-£60) giving most definite value for money.

Most enjoyed whisky under £100

Glendronach 15 Revival (the new one) – so easy drinking and personally I prefer this to the old bottling, as it’s slightly sweeter. Sorry. Just an opinion.

Runners up

The Whisky Show Ledaig 12yo Present Future – another whisky I had a proper moment with at the whisky show. This is properly delicious, big, bold and beautiful. Awesome.

Daftmill Summer Release. At first I took an instant no approach to this release (and the Inaugural release) due to the price points. I was wrong. A friend gave me a sample of the Summer release and I absolutely bloody loved it. Regret filled my being, but I did manage to get on the case and get some of this for later. Its a beautiful, gentile whisky, very reminiscent of an old, careful lowland style, it takes you places, and all good ones. Love it.

Most enjoyed whisky over £100 (but still borderline affordable/bought)

Dumbarton 32yo (Claxton’s). A stunner of a grain whisky from a closed distillery bottled by the awesome independent bottler which is Claxton’s. This surprised me a great deal, I didn’t know what to expect when I tasted this whisky on a tweet taste, but it resulted in an immediate and no brainer of a purchase. Superb stuff and surprisingly affordable for the age and availability. Only 96 bottles of this exist. If you see one out there its well worth it.

Runners up

Glen Moray Distillery Exclusive 1998 PX Finish. Oh my god, epic sherry monster. Another tweet taste resulting in some quids dropped, but rightly so, its a bloody amazing whisky.

Glenburgie 21yo (Gordon & MacPhail). A total surprise whisky from the whisky show resulting in another battering of the credit card. I adored the moment spent with this whisky so much the purchase was inevitable.

If money wasn’t an option.

Caol Ila 35 Special Release 2018 – I had a proper emotional, ethereal moment at the whisky show with this dram. It will stick with me. I really should get one. 😳

Runners up

Fettercairn 50 – amazing opportunity to try such amazing and old whisky. Truly a moment. However. The price point is quite silly. But it’s rare. So what can you do!

Most excellent independent bottler

WM Cadenhead. Continuing to show some amazing value for money Old Caol Ila’s are out there along with the every expanding set of surprise single cask and batch release offerings of distilleries i would not normally try. This bottler continues to amaze. I hope they continue to do so. Though lay off a bit of the spectacular bottlings please. I have debts I need to address. 😂

Runners up

That Boutique-y Whisky Company. Always some interesting stuff coming out of this indie bottler. And Dave is the bloody best brand ambassador to boot!

North Star. A relatively new indie bottler who’s had an awesome start with some superb whiskies at affordable prices. Long may they continue to do so.

Favourite distillery

Glen Moray. I love the people who work here, they have passion which is clear from the quality of the whisky and the continued effort to keep things affordable. The distillery bottlings have been a highlight for me this year. Although there official bottlings have left no palate disappointed. Carry on Graham, Iain, Emma and everyone else at Glen Moray. I look forward to visiting soon and hope 2019 is an awesome year for you all.

Runners up.

Springbank. Though some of their limited single cask releases are starting to creep up in price, they still represent very good value for money. Their whisky is clearly traditionally well made, and always enjoyable, engaging and rewarding stuff. It’s very rare to have a duff dram from Springbank and their Springbank 12yo CS, 15yo, 18yo, Longrow 18yo, and various single cask offerings have all been highlights of the year.

Tomatin. A distillery producing some delicious new make turning into even better well matured whisky presented in the best way it can be. I’m a big fan of Tomatin. Their 30 and 36yo expressions are pure decadence. And their affordable stuff is pure indulgence. Awesome.

Biggest disappointment in whisky

Ahhh. The biggest Fujikai moment of the year. Being ill far too much this last year and not trying, tasting and reviewing as much as I would have liked to. Fingers crossed for a better 2019.

Runner up.

New (and old) distilleries taking the piss. I won’t name names. You know who they are. 😈

Whisky Review – Glen Marnoch 1988 (@aldiuk)

Glen Marnoch 1988

40% ABV

£49.99 from Aldi (Christmas special release)

Nose.

Quite a rich baked apple nose on first pour. Some cinnamon and sugar crusting. Some ginger and spice. A little dusty in the aromas, along with some floral perfume notes. A bit of time and the fruit gets a little more complex, with some added citrus and ripe orange. After 30 minutes in the glass the nose becomes a little spicier and more honey and vanilla led with the fruit taking a back step. This gives more of a balance between fruit and oak, and there’s some added oak spice, with a hint of pencil shavings. More time and more rich vanilla comes to the front, its a developmental nose, evolving with continued exposure to air.

Palate.

Very fruity, lots of fresh apples and a touch of orange. Spicy as well, but not abrasive, some gentle ginger and cinnamon sugared custard. Sweet all the way through arrival and development, possibly too sweet for some, but suits my palate well. Makes things very moreish and quaffable. The only criticism would be the light mouthfeel which is evident from the minimal 40% ABV and obvious chill filtration. Saying that its still a suitably chewable dram with a nice fruit and spice balance. With lots of time the fruit becomes a little more tropical, some mango coming into play. Very tasty.

Finish.

Medium length. Spicy oak initially fades back to some fresh fruit and dry ginger. Hints of vanilla custard at the very end.

Adding water.

I really don’t want to add water, but…a drop in the last 5ml of my dram. The nose is a lot lighter, more floral and oak, lost a fair amount of fruit and spice. The palate, whilst still quite fruity has lost some oomph, and gained more vanilla custard, still good but not as good. Water/ice at this drams peril. Keep it neat. (My opinion).

Conclusion.

It’s not half bad. Fruity bourbon based maturation, probably all refill. There’s nothing wrong with this whisky, and despite the price increase of Aldi’s Christmas special (year on year price increase – ok this is technically, maybe a year older) its still exhibiting great value for money. I don’t think this whisky shows the 29/30 years as other more expensive (you cant get a 1988 single malt for less than £132 on master of malt, that one being a Tormore. Who knows, maybe this is a Tormore??) whisky would. It’s worth the punt if you want a fruity, easy, solid drinker of a whisky.