Whisky Review – The Tweeddale Blend Batch 3

The Tweeddale blend batch 3 – 12 year old
46% ABV
Colouring free. Non-chill filtered
£36.63 from TheWhiskyBarrel

It is my understanding that the grain whisky in this blend is 18 years old. With the malts on the whole 15 years old, with the youngest at 12 years old.


Gentle wisps of bonfire smoke. Creamy vanilla custard. Sweet grass. A little sherried fruits hiding about. Also some light crisp apple in the background. With time in the glass fruity lemon citrus notes come forward. Creamy vanilla fully in command with a fade to the smokey tinge. It’s a lovely complex nose, glorious.


Creamy. Then pepper. Biscuity malt flies in. Creamy vanilla overtakes. Smooth custard stays with some sweetness of the grain coming through. A nice level of wood spice is present throughout. Very excellent balance to the palate overall.


Medium to long. Creamy, light, drying with some oak spices. Lashings of creamy vanilla custard with a dash of toffee. Some light milky chocolate remains. Some time later the creamy oak spices are still on my palate. Lush.

Adding Water.

A dash added to my half dram. The nose exhibits more varied oak spices. Pepper. Still with the intensely creamy vanilla and honey. There are more green fruits in the aroma. The palate is less peppery, has more creamy fruit (apple pie with custard), and a greater smoothness. The finish is even creamier and mellow.


I could describe this as complex, intriguing, requiring some serious time and investigation. Just the same as I could describe this as easy going, so smooth, moreish and easy drinking! Either way It’s a beautiful dram, which you can explore or just enjoy. High scorer with large enjoyment factor.


Whisky Review – the Glenlivet 15 year old French Oak

Glenlivet 15 French Oak
40% ABV
£37.24 at MasterOfMalt


Very sweet. Rich and creamy. Tutti fruiti. Buckets of Vanilla and Honey. A little citrus grapefruit in the background, but the sweetness does tend to overwhelm the hidden complexities.


Sweet. Caramel. Honey. Some citrus. A little aged oak tannins coming through mid development. Chewy. Very creamy and easy to drink.


Sweet. Honey. A little grapefruit peel. Some drying oak spice at the finale.

Adding Water.

A small drop added. There is a little more citrus (specifically grapefruit) in the nose. The sweetness has subsided a little. More oak tannins are evident. Some floral aromas are also present. On the palate more complexity is revealed, with softer fruits coming to the forefront. More aged oak, whilst retaining its creamy sweet profile. The finish is creamy, warm and quite luxurious. This dram definitely benefits from a drop of water.


This is a very nice session dram. One which I would enjoy on any night. It’s a quality, well constructed whisky.


Whisky Review – Glenfiddich 15 year old Solera Reserve

Glenfiddich 15 Solera
£32.92 at MasterOfMalt


It’s ‘tasty’ on the nose. Nicely sherried. Rum soaked raisins. A quality Christmas cake. Baked oranges. Cinnamon spiced. A little dark chocolate in the background.


Surprisingly oily on the mouthfeel despite its 40% ABV and therefore chill filtration. Sweet and easy drinking…oh so easy drinking! Sherried fruits. Oranges. Toffee. Fruitcake in abundance. Christmas spices.


Medium length finish. Warming. Sweet rich fruit stays for a good while. A little salt. Dark (slightly bitter) chocolate oak at the very end.

Adding Water.

I’m only adding the slightest drop. The tiniest drop of water has had quite the dramatic effect on the nose. The intensity of the aromas have increased quite a bit. The fruitcake has intensified, and in addition to the original undiluted nose we have a little added oak influence. The palate reflects this also, becoming somewhat tastier (if that were possible), albeit a little lighter in mouthfeel. More oak tannins coming forth in the development. The finish remains sweet, fruity and moreish as ever.


It’s bloody lovely. So easy to sip on and moreish, which results in an empty glass too quickly (not a bad thing as long as you can pace yourself!). It is without a doubt my favourite of the Glenfiddich range that I have tried so far. Easy, accessible, beautiful, joy.


Winning! BenRiach Distillery Company Ltd wins ten medals including two “Golds” in the 2013 International Wine and Spirits Competition

BenRiach Distillery Company Ltd wins ten medals including two “Golds” in the 2013 International Wine and Spirits Competition

THE BenRiach Distillery Company has won 10 medals at this year’s International Wine and Spirits Competition, with BenRiach, GlenDronach and Glenglassaugh expressions all scooping major awards.

It was gold for two BenRiachs – the 16YO and the Authenticus 25YO.

In addition, there were three Silver Outstanding Medals – for BenRiach 12YO Arumaticus Fumosus, GlenDronach 12YO and BenRiach 17YO Solstice.

Four silver medals followed – for GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 2, GlenDronach 21YO Parliament, GlenDronach 18YO Allardice and Glenglassaugh Evolution.

And completing the ten awards was a Bronze Medal for Glenglassaugh Revival.

Founded in 1969, the International Wine and Spirit Competition is one of the most prestigious in the world. It exists to award excellence to wines and spirits worldwide, encouraging consumer and trade recognition for quality products.

BenRiach’s Sales Director Alistair Walker said: “We are thrilled to win these awards, especially as they are spread across all three of our brands, and winning two gold medals is particularly satisfying.

“The 16 year-old is a really nice, smooth single malt – of all the whiskies we produce this specific expression probably best captures the ‘house-style’ of BenRiach – a real classic Speysider!
“And our full-bodied 25YO Authenticus, formerly available as a 21YO, continues to get rave reviews. Bottled at 46%, non chill filtered and at natural colour, the peated malted barley produces a unique, smoky, phenolic taste that’s very unusual for a Speyside malt.
“These are two sublime malts…perfect for toasting the health of a new baby Prince and his proud parents!”



Whisky Review – Glenfiddich 15 year old distillery edition

Glenfiddich 15 year old distillery edition
51% ABV
£41.53 at MasterOfMalt


Buckets of rich, intense fruit. Apples, pineapples, tropical fruits. Some floral oak spice, and the increased ABV really packs a punch. I’m getting some candied sweeties (sweet cigarettes), honey, vanilla and thick toffee.


It’s thick. Toffee malt. The bang of the alcohol kicks. Then the toffee is back, fruit medley, vanilla and the toffee chews. A bit of thorntons special toffee chewability in there.


Apples. Loads of then, then The oak takes over for a dry finish. Toffee and vanilla remain. With oak spice and pepper.

Adding Water.

A small measure of water in my half dram. An addition to the diluted nose is experienced in terms of some additional age. There is a definite wood oak, polish note added in. Not massive but in the background. Some sawdust. Additional floral along the lines of mr. Sheen. And some garden flowers poking through. In the palate we have an easier experience to the undiluted taste. More deducible flavours, with some added oak and wood spices, a little dryness in the development and a more defined balance. The finish is slightly weakened, but now has a little more age to the drying oak remaining on the fruit fade.


Anyone expecting a heated up version of the 15 year old Solera reserve may be disappointed as it is not a sherried whisky like the Solera. This is like the 12 year old on steroids. That’s a good thing! It’s nice to see this dram finally has some good coverage in supermarkets where it only used to be available online before. Well done Glenfiddich. I would still love to see some craft presentations of your regular drams mind you. And that experimental cask I tried at the whisky show last year. It was mega!


Whisky Review – Isle of Arran Devil’s Punchbowl II

Isle of Arran Devil’s Punchbowl II
53.1% ABV
£69.45 at TheWhiskyExchange

Despite some of the poor reviews of the first release of the Devils Punchbowl I liked it. It hit my spot on several areas and the bottle went pretty damn quickly. I’ve been looking forward to this release. Lets see if it meets my expectations.


Complex. Vanilla. Honey. Toasted brown sugar. Toffee. Creme brûlée. Crisp apples. Very sweet. Time in the glass reveals sherry notes. Mild fruitcake. Oak spices. Baked apple pie. Grapes. Raisins. An alluring nose which has a lot of exploration yet to uncover.


Immediately sweet. Then the high alcohol level nip hits. Keeping it on the tongue that burn subsides and the fruit swamps through. A little peat is there somewhere, sensed but never really fully exerting itself. The ripe apples go from crisp to baked with a coating of cinnamon spice. Pepper and chilli joins the party, while all the time the honeyed vanilla toffee dances away. Not a lot of the sherry influence in the palate immediately. Although, as with the peat, there’s a little something lurking in the darkness.


Drying sherried oak tannins and some spiced apple sticks around. Along with the vanilla toffee.

Adding Water.

A good dollop added. Time given in the glass. The previous undiluted notes are still evident, but now an amount of age is also present. Some polish, old oak and more intensive sherried notes join the nose. Considering the peated casks in this I’m still hard pushed to find anything smokey about the nose. The diluted palate gives more balance due to the reduced alcohol nip. The many varying levels of fruit are more layered and recognisable, with some pineapple popping in alongside the baked apples from before. There is a tiny amount of sweetness I could attribute to peat, but nothing I would say that’s particularly smokey. However, in the finish, there is a touch of smoke now, just a little amongst the drying tannins.


Well well. It’s a very different devil to the 1st release. For me the first release was more sherried, and had some individuality the likes of which I had never tasted before. I would say this dram is a lot more generic. Not in a bad way mind you, in a very good way, it’s very complex, has a lot of flavours and aromas to investigate and an excellent balance overall. Arran have done well and constructed a very intriguing dram. Recommended to you aroma/taste/demon hunters out there. 🙂


Whisky Review – Bruichladdich Octomore 4.1

Bruichladdich Octomore 4.1
60.2% ABV
NAS – around 5 years old
Approx £100 if you can find it.
6.1 due sometime soon.

Bring the Peat!

Tasted and tested in the warm weather. Beware of inconsistencies due to British summer time!


I can’t say BANG loud enough if I tried. It’s quite loud on the nose. A bit of everything on the peat types. Medicinal, BBQ meats, maritime, a bit of everything. There is also some floral there. Reminds me of Parma violets sweets from way back when. A little honey and vanilla reside in the background. It burns the nostrils, so don’t go in too deep for fear of olfactory scolding! Some fresh cut grass, hay and earth are also nicely evident. Time in the glass expands the floral notes and gives more honeysuckle and grassy earth tones.


Sweet. Then kaboom! Salty maritime. Big heat thermonuclear stylee. Takes a while to overcome the heat. But floral pokes through, more salt, then grass and hay and earthy peat. An inferno all the way, but not unpleasantly so. It’s just a Kaiju of a mega monster!


Its a long heated hot salty beast. (Sounds so wrong). Grass and hay sticks around. A little vanilla and honey returns during the drying moments.

Adding water.

Lets bring on a Jeager to try and calm this monster. In the form of chilled spring water! And a decent dollop at that. The addition of water has calmed the alcohol blast on the nasal senses to reveal more floral complexity. And possibly a little chocolate?! Yah, a definitely light milk, almost cadburys chocolate is coming through. Left it for a while and the peat is calmed significantly, more honey and vanilla, and yeah, still got that choco thing going on. On the palate the nuke is lowered, more complexity revealed. Vanilla, honey, floral notes all there. That chocolate is also lightly tingling the taste buds. It’s really tasty and complex. The finish is much shorter, still crisp and warm, but the dryness has some oak in it, drying vanilla and wood chips.


This is a monster of a peat bombing mega dram. Takes some conquering, and a whole lot of exploration. If its anything like the Octomores I’ve tried in the past the next time I experience this creature it would have changed, mutated and attacked from a whole different standpoint. If this is the case I will add some notes. I was lucky to find one recently to explore, it must have slipped through a dimensional rift, but it was worth it! ;). This is one dram to cancel any apocalypse.

Ps. Pacific Rim. Worth a cinema viewing! It’s great fun, and a visual masterpiece!



Two stones or not two stones? That is the question! Whisky Stone chat.

Whisky Stones review

Please be aware. The opinions made in this review are purely mine. And as with any smell/taste experience it is all based on the individuals experience and perception. Some may agree some may not. The reality is we all have different taste buds and olfactory senses.

I was recently given some Whisky Stones for my birthday. (Thanks Ian and Caroline!). As it has been particularly hot recently and Whisky sampling has been harder and harder to enjoy because of the temperature I thought it an ideal time to have a play with the stones and drop a little opinion forward.

So. Starting off, Whisky stones are little cubes made from stone! Generally made from non-porous soapstone, these cubes when put in your freezer will retain the cold when submerged in your drink of choice. Chilling the drink, but not imparting any of itself into the drink, diluting or otherwise tampering with the flavour of your beverage.

Therefore if your Whisky is warm and you want to chill it down a little without the addition of any side effect (dilution with ice water) these should be ideal for you.

The thing I have noticed the most about drinking Whisky during the hot weather is the intensity of the alcohol on the nose. Even with the Whisky being at 40% and usually very easy to nose. The warm temperatures increase the alcohol evaporation (I guess!) and therefore the nose has a lot more of the burn you would identify with higher strength whiskies. I guess this demonstrates what others have described as a change in experience when drinking Whisky in warmer climates. As I have tried several in the run up to this test I have honestly experienced different levels of this nose burn effect, some of the whiskies actually benefit in the aromas given off, some of them become completely masked with the alcohol burn. This is going to add a whole level of complication with the experiment and no doubt will lead to alternative results depending on the Whisky used!

My experiment is as thus. I wanted to be as scientific as I can with this experiment. Therefore I chose a Whisky that I am familiar with and one which I would not want to add any water to. After consideration and tasting checks 🙂 I went with Glenfiddich 18 year old.

I’m not going to review the Whisky. I’m not going to give tasting notes. They are in another blog post.

I’m pouring 3 equal measures (approx 30ml) of Glenfiddich 18 into 3 glencairn glasses. Having a wee nose and taste of glass 1, then adding 2 two stones straight from the freezer into glass 2. And four stones straight from the freezer into glass 3. I will then proceed to nose and taste all 3 side by side and compare the differences in intensity and accuracy of nose and taste.

Glass 1.

The nose is intense. The burn effect extreme. But not sticking the nose so far into the glass (as with cask strength whiskies and common sense) helps you to appreciate the aromas. The aromas are all there and familiar. It’s a lovely dram.

The taste also hampered by the burn which seems more intense again by the warmer Whisky. I find an added fizziness to the Whisky which isn’t normally present. And I’m afraid to say a somewhat generic taste. I don’t know if its just me, or if my hay fever is having some effect. But whiskies taste more the same to me in this hot climate?! I’m hoping that’s just me!

Glasses 2 and 3.

Stones added. Photo quickly taken. Nosing and tasting progresses. Interesting.

So. Logic is straightforward. The more stones the lower the temperature of the Whisky.

With four stones the Whisky is chilled. Not freezing but nicely chilled. As you would probably expect when ice is added to a dram someone bought for you who didn’t know better! It’s also very very closed. By this I mean the nose (and I’m getting my nose right in there!) is minimal. I’m getting a little of the fruit. But not a great deal of complexity or intensity. The taste. Ditto! As the Whisky warms in your mouth the development moves forward but the initial tastes of what should be quality Whisky is dampened. Almost as if it had been watered down!

With two stones. It’s more like it! My nose is right in there and I don’t have the alcohol burn of the warm Whisky but the complexity is there. The variation is there. It’s the Whisky I remember from spring! As with the palate. The fuzziness of the warm Whisky is subsided and the flavour bursts all over the place. The flavours as intense as I remember and the finish more accurate with my original tastings.


Stones are good! I’m still not convinced that Whisky in summer is the greatest plan. (I’m hot and bothered now! Lol). But if you fancy a dram and are finding the warmer weather incompatible with that beverage then a couple Whisky stones in your glass could very well help you enjoy! Overdo the stones and you will temporarily paralyse your Whisky!

Trial and error is the key to this one.

I’ll continue to experiment with other dram and stone combinations and if I find anything worth mentioning will amend this post.

Two stones or not two stones? (Or even possibly four?)
That is the question.

Addition. Some things to take note of.

1. Whisky stones are hard. Don’t drop them in your glass. As you may chip or smash your glass. I haven’t done this yet so don’t laugh! 😛
2. Despite the stones looking wet. They are not claiming much if any of your Whisky. I know. I have licked them thoroughly and cannot taste much in the way of alcohol! Well. It concerned me anyway! Lol.
3. Don’t repeat the above experiment too many times in one night with different drams. It’s interesting. But. It will get you tipsy! Drink responsibly. Please?!


Glen Garioch New Addition – Glen Garioch Virgin Oak

A break from tradition

Today we’re delighted to introduce you to the latest addition to our family, Glen Garioch Virgin Oak. For the very first time we’re releasing a Glen Garioch that has been fully matured in virgin North American oak casks and is unlike anything you’ve tasted before.

Although American Bourbon Whiskey must, by law, be matured in unused, virgin oak casks, Scottish distillers have always favoured used, so-called ‘ex-bourbon’ barrels, believing that the oak in its virgin state would be too overpowering for our more refined and complex whiskies.

Well, think again!




THE award-winning BenRiach Distillery has today, 17th of July, released Batch 10 of its eagerly-anticipated single cask bottlings.

Selected by Master Blender Billy Walker, the superlative twelve-expression batch from the Elgin distillery was bottled last month and all bottlings are available as of today.

Batch 10 comprises sublime Speyside vintages ranging from 1976 to 2005. Cask types vary from Moscatel and Virgin American Oak Hogsheads to Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheons and Barrels.

As always, they offer a mouth-watering range of classic BenRiach malt charm – zesty tropical fruits, dark roasted coffee beans, soft vanilla, banana, toffee, cinnamon…and even campfire-roasted apples with a touch of black pepper!

Unusually for BenRiach, one expression – the 1998 cask # 7633 – has been triple-distilled. The taste is sensational – lively crisp pineapple explodes and gradually softens into creamy toffee.
And also included in the new batch is an intriguing young 8 year old, an amazing 2005 cask # 3782 which is rich gold and, on the nose, bursts with sweet heather smoke, ripe soft fruits and a touch of citrus zest – ideal for summer drinking.

The cask details are:

1976 cask # 2013 / 37 years old / Classic Speyside / 49.6%vol

1977 cask # 1031 / 36 years old / Moscatel Finish / 54.9%vol

1978 cask # 1047 / 35 years old / Moscatel Finish / 51.1%vol

1983 cask # 296 / 30 years old / Classic Speyside / 43.9%vol

1984 cask # 1051/ 28 years old / Peated / Pedro Ximenez Sherry Finish / 49.9%vol

1985 cask # 7188 / 27 years old / Peated / Virgin American Oak Finish / 48.9%vol

1988 cask # 4000 / 24 years old / Tawny Port Finish / 52.6%vol

1992 cask # 986 / 21 years old / Pedro Ximenez Sherry Finish / 53.3%vol

1994 cask # 4385 / 18 years old / Virgin American Oak Finish / 55.5%vol

1996 cask # 10306 / 17 years old / Marsala Finish / 56.0%vol

1998 cask # 7633 / 15 years old / Triple Distilled / Pedro Ximenez Sherry Finish / 56.1%vol

2005 cask # 3782 / 8 years old / Peated / Virgin American Oak Finish / 58.1%vol

Some really tasty looking drams there. Can’t wait to try some.