Tuesday, December 1, 2015

24 Bars in Aarhus - part 1

Café Englen

Aarhus has a small city for a danish city this size. Aarhus is 2nd biggest town in Denmark and no doubt have the 2nd best bar scene behind Copenhagen. But as we have this small city center everything is within walking distance, wherever you are

About a handful of small cobblestoned streets and alleys is called the latin quarters. In the latin quarters there is many french/italian inspired restuarants and cafe's where guests go for brunch, lunch, dinner, drinks and coffee.

The first bar in my bar advent calendar is one of these, Café Englen, which translates to the Café of the Angel

Cafe Englen on a very rainy November afternoon

Whisky: The selection is supreme for a cafe of this style. Among the bottles I did spot these:

Teaninich 73 Scott's Selection
Deerstalker 18 Balmenach
Green Spot Old Bottling
Laphroaig 12yo 1992 OMC
Macphail's 10yo 60.5%
Middleton Very Rare
A couple of Stauning's from Denmark

and a lot of other nice bottlings

The whisky shelves at Cafe Englen

Beer: Not a very interesting selection. Draft: some Carlsbergs, one Leffe and Kronenbourg 1664. Ale no 16 and Thy Økologisk Humle were the most exciting things available on bottle

Food. I didn't eat, but the steak burgers I saw carried in looked very delicious 

Music: I liked the relaxing background music

Staff: Nice

What I drank:

Macphail's Gold 106

60.5% ABV equals 106 imperial proof. Old style oily nutty flavoured speysider. A little treat to start of this advent calendar I say

Cafe Englen's website is here

The 24 Bars in Aarhus map is here (coming tonight)

Would I recommend this please: Yes

Sunday, November 29, 2015


A tribute to Aarhus

This year, beside my traditional whisky advent calendar, I will visit 24 bars in Aarhus.

If you have never visited Denmark or Aarhus before, I can tell you that my city, which might be somewhat unknown to the international tourists, is well worth visiting a couple of days as tourists

The three main attractions are

Aros the art museum. I am not the biggest fan of art museums, but this place is really nice. Try photo google it and you might get a hint

Another great place is MOMU, the Viking museum, at the southernmost end of the suburbs. Did you know the one of main sources of roman time armoury (swords and that kind of stuff) was just outside Aarhus ?. And have you ever heard about the Grauballe-man ? The best preserved body from the milleniums back. Forget about mummies in Egypt!

Last fine museum is The Old Town which is a museum the size of a whole neighbourhood

But beside this, Aarhus has a great city centre. It's not that big, as Aarhus grew big quite late, but it does accomodate our 300000 citizens excellent. Shopping centres, shopping streets, the latin quarters (Small, but cozy) and an abundance of good restaurants and waterholes. Mind you, Aarhus is a student town, and we don't get that many tourists, so most places have to rely on locals, which means returning customers. So you have to be good and cheap (Cheap on the danish scale). And we also have Michelin restaurants if that's your turf.

Now, this is a whisky blog, so the next 24 days I will present a local bar to you, here on my blog. Visiting all 24 is my advent calendar this year. I do have my handful of regulars, which offcourse will be included, but I will also visit some alternatives and some new places. The focus will be beers and whisky, but some of these places serves delicious food as well. I know a lot (most) of my visitors are from abroad, so now it's time to present my hometown

And trust me, we do have a few really great bars here. No dress codes, this is a relaxed town

All the links are to google photoes

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

4 from Compass Box

Compass Box got a lot of press lately, but how is these whiskies that got all over the news last month ?

Here is my take on 4 of them, with 4 short reviews. I want to check out a new colour setup of the blog. So I am doing a speed tasting of 4 whiskies and soing some short notes and thoughts

1. Hedonism Quindecimus 46%

A blend of grain whiskies from 5 distilleries at varying ages.

Soft laid back grain nose, with custard vanilla. The palate is quite woody for a grain, not very spicy as some grains can be. A very nice an easy drinking grain, with

Rating 84/100

2. "This is not a luxury Whisky" 53.1%

A blended whisky 10.1% Strathclyde, 6.9% Girvan, 79% Glen Ord and 4.0% Caol Ila

The nose is warm with a hint of peat. A bold and nutty flavoured whisky. There is not much Caol Ila in this blend but the peat is always lingering in the background. There is a bit of dried fruits, a box of raisins come to the mind. This is more power than delicate. The finish comes in with a little creamy vanillaness

Rating 85/100

3. Flaming Heart 15th Annivarsary 48.9%

A blendend malt. Caol Ila, Clynelish, Teaninich and Dailuaine. Married for a minimum of 2 years in active new french oak hybrid barrels

The french oak is the first thing that hits me with this typical virgin oak crisp vanilla both on the nose and the palate. Another nutty flavoured whisky, with a nice spicy dry woody mouthfeel. Quite delicate compared to the first two. This is also a tad more sweet than the first two offerings. So far this is my favourite. The sweetness adds a nice balance to this whisky. The finish is fantastic, where suddenly medicinal notes appear, and medicinal, thats my favourite tasting note :-). Think old leather Ardbegs,

Rating 88/100

4. The Peat Monster 10th Anniversary 48.9%

A blended malt of Caol Ila, Clynelish, one of the Kildalton malts and another Highland malt.

This is a whisky designed for the sophistaced peatjunkies. Some will say that's an oxymoron, but there is a few of us out there!

Peat, vanilla and spice. There you go. Quite a bit of oomph and the alcohol burn do tell me this is probably younger than the other 3 I have tasted tonight. While the approach is a little fierce the finish is where the complexity hits and I end up in a very feelgood mode

Rating 85/100

This was a nice session. It's fun to taste this blends where the whisky gets a chance to pull their weight, as the whisky is bottled at a proper strength

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Are the new owners of Bladnoch stupid or arrogant ?

Sometimes I have a hard time understanding other people

I own a 5% share of 2 casks at Bladnoch which I bought through the previous owners. Last weekend I received this letter:

Short story is that the initial payment covered 8 years of warehouse rent and those 8 years have now passed.

If we don't remove our cask before 30th November the new rental charge will be 5£ a week, increasing to 10£ March 1st. 2016

The alternative is to have the casks moved to whiskybroker.co.uk for bottling or further storage

Whenever the cask will be moved there will be a 25£ "standard movement charge"

Other cask owners have received a similar letter

Here is my opinion on Bladnoch's initiative towards their old fans and customers

First a little fact. I also own a cask with Bruichladdich. With their new owners they increased the weekly rent to around 40 pence a week.I just paid for further 5 years storage of a cask that was 10 years old.

Here is a quote from the letter:

"As a goodwill gesture we will not be charging any rent up to 30th November"

This is 4 months free rental, since the cask was filled 27th July 2007. Something similar to 18 weeks free or 90£/180£ saved. If I choose to trust Bruichladdichs rates as the going costs of warehousing whisky (I know whiskybroker charges even less) they are really goodwilling us 7£. As I own 5%, they just gave me around 35 pence. Fantastic, I feel really goodwilled there. The cost of sending this annoying letter was 1£ so you can say they spend 3 as much on annoying customers than pleasing them.

Seems like I have to get hold of the other shareholders and decide what to do with these 2 casks. My vote is to get them moved to whiskybroker as fast as possible. When we hopefully agree to do this, we will have to get in touch with whiskybroker and have them move the casks. This will have to fit into their schedule I am pretty sure, and I have no idea when this is going to happen. Probably not within the next 2 weeks, so I wouldn't be surprised we will have to experience the new rental charge, which is more like a heavy fine. Lets say it takes 4 months. Then the charge will be 10-15£ for me, which is probably something most people with our hobby can live with, but it is still a lot of money, The experience of getting robbed is probably worse. So this is at most annoying. On our side

But from Bladnochs side I think this is stupid. Very. All distilleries have a fan base. It's great for a distillery to have fans. They are loyal customers. They are also mini brand ambassadors. I think it's stupid to piss off your old fans. They might have been fans of the former company, but it's still the same distillery. I would have chosen to nurse these people (of which one was me!). Get them to work for me. They would be my first target for new products. They would buy them naturally.

I would also have kept their casks in my warehouse. Think of all these fans coming to the distillery to see their casks. Off course you would have to work a bit to take these guests to their casks as they surely would like to, but these guest, and the friends they probably bring along, would be happy. They would also go into the shop and buy things. Whisky. Merchandise. They will take photos and post it on socail media. And they might go home and say how wonderful Bladnoch is, what a good time they had, how nice the people were, and how much they look forward to visit again. And as a side bonus they would stay at local B&B's and guesthouses and eat at local restaurants.

Instead they build up a somewhat big group of grumpy former fans. I can quote one reaction I have seen on the internet concerning this exact letter:

"I would suggest a boycott of the new Bladnoch bottles, whenever they appear, I know I will. There is no room in our small country for fools like this man, take a look in the mirror and ask yourself some serious questions - to the new owner P Craig"

In my opinion the new owners of Bladnoch have started things stupid. Maybe. Or maybe not....

I have also heard that the new owner is going to market Bladnoch as a premium luxury whisky. This means high prices, fancy bottles, wooden boxes and big time advertising, but usually not better whisky in the bottle. With the advertising a new segment of whisky consumers will be reached. I am pretty sure the now former fans won't be customers after a move like this. They wouldn't be interested in packaging over whisky. They are also pretty immune to marketing gimmicks as they know a bit more about whisky then the average consumer. So Bladnoch is actually just getting rid of people that would have left anyway. I don't know if this will be true, but if it is, then the new Bladnoch isn't stupid. Just arrogant

So are the new owner of Bladnoch stupid or arrogant. What do you think ?. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Ailsa Bay - the first bottling

Ailsa Bay

Grant's owns 5 distilleries, The best known is Glenfiddich and Balvenie, but they also run Ailsa Bay, Kininvie and Girvan (Grain). Ailsa Bay is located at same place as the Girvan distillery. It is one of 8 operating malt whisky distilleries in the Lowlands, if not more, as new ones seems to open all the times these days!

Ailsa Bay is the big one, it has a capacity of 12 million LPA, more than twice of all the others combined. Ailsa Bay started production in 2007

According to the Malt Whisky Yearbook, 4 types of whiskyspirits are produced, and the aim for this whisky is more or less exclusively Grants blends

2 of these spirits are peated, MWY mention the heavy peated one as being 50ppm. As this is 21ppm as written on the bottle it must be the "lightly" peated version. 21ppm is similar to Bowmore if I have to class this with an Islay distillery

Also on the label is mentioned SPPM as being 11, and it means Sugar PPM, it must be a way to quantify the sweetness of the whisky. I don't know when SPPM is measured. PPM is measured in the barley, I suspect the SPPM is measured either in the spirit, or it could be in the whisky itself

Precision Distilling

Another new term for me is "Precision Distilling". It probably means everything is run by a computer, but my initial thought was that it could mean the stillman wasn't drunk when this was made

Here is my opinion of the whisky:

Ailsa Bay 48.9%

Quite peaty, sweet, oily, a little hot, a little sour socks youthness, but the body balances this out a bit. It is on the sweet side. Still too young for my taste, but I look forard to try some proper aged stuff from this distillery in the future. 

This Ailsa Bay reminds me of an oily version of a very young Ardbeg and this whisky could be popular with peatheads

Rating 78/100

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Giving Bourbon a finish

It doesn't happen often. There is a reason for finishing to be a technique that is more used in Scotland than in Kentucky.

As bourbon is matured on new wood, the individual barrel is more or less affecting the bourbon the same way. Things like age, mashbill and warehouse location matters a whole lot more than the barrels, as the barrels are similar. Not so in Scotland where all types of casks are used and they are used many times. So in Scotland you do sometimes see tired casks that doesn't really influence and mature the whisky. One way to repair a whisky from a tired cask is to empty the cask and fill the spirit into another casks. Giving a whisky a huge shot of flavour from an active wine casks is very popular and just months in such a cask can have a huge influence. It's called "finishing", and it's done both to repair tired whisky casks, but also as a flavour design.

But for bourbon, finishing is not very common. The lack of tired casks, and the fact that bourbon itself is fast maturing and very intense is the explanation of this. But finished bourbon do exist and I just happened to have a couple of them in my possesion

Malts of Scotland Bourbon

Heaven Hill, Malts of Scotland, Port Cask finish. 52.8% 
distilled 2001, bottled 2015

This is a little bit weird as it tastes more like a cocktail than a bourbon. It is fruity, a bit like bourbon with a dash of blackcurrant. It's very easy drinking, the alcohol is very well integrated. It's a bit more watery than my average bourbon, but also quite woody, which is a bit of a contradiction tastewise. The tasting experience is very unusual for me as I get woody flavours above my tongue and fruity flavours below. I all ends with a sweet finish.

Rating 87/100

Finishing a bourbon, the effect is much less than when finishing a single malt. This is a bourbon most of all with a little fruity twist. The whisky hasn't lost its soul

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Steve Rush, author of the blog The Whisky Wire , often runs social media events about whisky. This is usually taking place on twitter with twitter tastings. A lot of interesting and unusual whiskies are being presented at these tastings. I wish I had the opportunity to participate more, but I don't like to sign up for events I don't know if I am able to attend or not. You are provided with whisky to taste and commentate on, so I think there is a bit of responsibility to participate if you do sign up. I have participated once or twice over the years, not much. It's always fun, and also very confusing when twitter goes bonanza with tasting notes and comments rolls in from quite a big group of whisky entusiasts.

I signed up for this Littlemill event. This is not a pure twitter event, but a Flash Blog event. I think it means a group of bloggers (and maybe also non bloggers) all are going to add their opinion about this one whisky. On the internet. On the same day.

Photo from Loch Lomond Group website

This is an OB Littlemill. The price is very high. Around 2000£. Very expensive and this is how it goes with closed distilleries. When there is few casks left, the price rockets. There has been plenty of various Littlemill's to pick up at a fraction of this price the last many years, but if you miss the train, you miss the train.

Today Littlemill is "owned" by Loch Lomond Group. There is no distillery to be owned actually. The distilllery went silent in 1994 and burned in 2004. Loch Lomond group owns some casks and the right to bottle them as official bottlings.

You can read a bit about Littlemill on Loch Lomond Group's website

Littlemill was a Lowland distillery. If you want to know where it was located you can check out this google map I made. Just look a bit northwest of Glasgow, just a little further out than Auchentoshan on the way up to Loch Lomond along the A82

This new 25yo Littemill comes with a nice little pamphlet. I like that pamphlet. It has a bit of info, that the SWA rules say you can't put on the bottle. It is a good reading for the geeks amongst the whiskyentusiasts. Actually it's a good read for everybody. It more or less got the full provenance of this whisky specified. Let me quote:

"Our two master blenders John Petersen and Michael Henry have dipped and nosed the remaining casks of 1989 and 1990 in our warehouse. 
 From these they have selected 10 which they believed best represent the quality and style of whisky from the Littlemill distillery. 
 These 10 casks have been married together to deliver this exceptional 25 year old lowland single malt whisky. 
 The 1989 liquid went into the cask on 17th December 1989 at 68.5 degrees and the 1990 was casked between 1st & 4th April 1990 at between 68.6 and 68.7 degrees. 
 The liquid was originally laid down in a mixture of the finest American and European Oak casks and for this 1st bottling it has been married together and has experienced a period of finishing in 1st. fill European Olorose Sherry casks."

Before I go on with opinion of this whisky, I will say that I am not the worlds biggest Littlemill fan. It's usually a very herbal whisky, so herbal it is unique. A lot of whisky claims to be unique (I hate that word), but Littlemill actually is. Both in a good and in a bad way. Depends if you like it I say :-). But sometimes Littlemill is just too herbal for me

Littlemill 25yo 2015 50.4%

Nose: The nose is quite archetypical for something that has been finished in a sherry cask. The nose is also quite delicate but still with adequate punch

Palate: The texture is a bit oily/rubbery, but behind this there is what I would describe as a typical light lowland style whisky. This is more lowland than Littlemill, if you can follow me! There is a tiny hint of the typical Littlemill herbal thing, but I wonder if I would have picked this up blind

Finish: A bit on the short side. The age suddenly emerges with woodyness, and I get  hint of gin! It all falls into a nice sweet nutty ending

This whisky benefits spending some time in the glass

One of the better Littlemill I have tasted. It's a bit more anonymous and delicate than most other I have tasted. By that I mean smoother and less herbal. It's an OK whisky but I never felt the urge to pour some more

Score 84

Thanks to Loch Lomond group and Steve Rush for the sample

Now when we are at it. A very good friend of mine is a Littlemill collector. His name is Menno, you might have heard of him or his whiskyshop and website whiskybase
He told me himself he has the worlds biggest collection of Littlemill. He also said that was because he was the only one collecting Littlemill. But that's not true. He told me himself that there is another Littlemill collector in Belgium. When I was at Feis Ile he was on the island for just one day, but he took the time to come visit us in our cottage (which was a church) and gave me a sample, a really big sample of 20cl Littlemill. I can't remember if he said it was the best Littlemill ever bottled or one of the best Littlemill ever bottled. Menno is a true Littlemill fan. He says when he thinks a Littlemill is good and he says when he thinks a Littlemill is bad. He is not a fanboi that just thinks everything from Littlemill is fantastic. He scored the 25yo a big 91 by the way. I will add his notes HERE when I get a link to it. But anyway, he gave me a big sample of this:

Photo from Whiskybase

Littlemill 1989 24yo Whisky Doris 51.7%

So how is this compared to the OB?

This whisky is actually quite similar to the OB, but without the sherry part. So it's not that oily, and doesn't have the slight rubber texture. It got a little bit more burn, as the edges haven't been shaved off. It got a lot more of the nuttyness

It is delicate, mature and fruity. I have come across some whiskies that has gone all the way to some bubblegum fruityness and this whisky is like it's about to go down the same lane,

Nose: Ex bourbon. A nice and delicate 

Palate: Not much exciting goes on, initially quite ordinary, but then things starts to happen

Finish: Medium-long and very nice. No matter if a finish is described as short, medium or long, some tastes always linger for long and the long finish on this, albeit not very powerfull is very nice. I have to say I really love the finish of this whisky. This is where this whisky emerge as a little fruit explosion. A mix of banana, mango and pear, but not particular sweet

This whisky also benefits from some time in the glass

Score 89

Thanks to Menno for the SAMPLE

While the latter might be the best Littlemill I have ever tasted, both whiskies in this post are among the best Littlemills I have ever tasted. It is no secret that I prefer ex-bourbon whisky to ex-sherry and my verdict on these two drams is not a surprise for most people who knows me

I will add links to other flash bloggers below as soon as I get them

Friends of Single Malts (in german) 
Whisky with Friends (in dutch)
Whisky Girl (8.5/10)
Whisky Wednesday (video, 8.5/10)
Edgylassie (instagram)
Alasdair Day (R&B Distillers)
La Cave de Cobalt (in french)
Le Blog Wallon sur le Single Malt (in french, 89/100)