Sunday, December 9, 2012

9. December Black Maple Hill

I bought a couple of bourbons last weekend from the danish online site whisky.dk and they added a sample of Black Maple Hill 47.5% in the box. I am spending December cleaning out some of my samples and this one I am actually a bit excited about as I have never tried Black Maple Hill before (at least not in a state remembering it).  So thanks for the sample! I look forward to tasting it.

Black Maple Hill is a brand of bourbon. It's not a distillery. The bottler has sourced the whiskey from a couple of places, but the last many years it was sourced from KBD Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, who themselves source whisky from other distilleries. But they do it big scale, and they have recently (2012) reopened their Willet Distillery in Bardstown. Rumours generally agree that most of whisky sourced by KBD is from Heaven Hill, their next door neighbour. According to their staff they have actually been going into other distilleries and using their equipment to distill their own spirit. They do have their own warehouses, plenty of them actually

KBD Warehouses in Bardstown, Kentucky

This is clearly a high rye bourbon. No doubt about it. Huge impact of minty spicy flavours on a soft creamy bed of vanilla and butterscotch. The mint is huge. I have always been a mint fan. This is like eating mint throat bonbons.It's a NAS bourbon but this juice surely has got some years on it's back, closer to 10 than 6 would be my verdict from the flavours - A really nice and distinctive bourbon

Rating 88/100

This doesnt taste like anything I have tried from Heaven Hill, so I wonder if it's from that distillery. It reminds me more of Wild Turkey or Four Roses. Being new to bourbon I wont cast any verdicts, and who knows what HH makes I havent tasted ?








8. December Bladnoch xmas 2012

This was yesterdays dram!

Bladnoch. 11yo. Matured in s sherry cask. 55% Bottled 2012

A Christmas Whisky

I visited the distillery last month and stocked up with a case of assorted Bladnochs. This was one of them. It's the same as the 11yo sherry casked they currently sell in their shop, this is just a different label in case anyone was looking for a christmas gift. It even comes with a Season's Greetings To and From card around the neck. This one was from me to me :-)

11 years old means this is New Bladnoch produce, made by Raymond Armstrong who reopened the distillery after Diageo closed it down in 93. There was 7 years without production as Bladnoch started distilling again in 2000. They havent distilled since 2009 but hope to make something again in 2013.

Short tasting notes says : Heavily sherried, dark licorise, but buried below is a delicious creamy, minty, vanillaed malt. Not that sweet a whisky. A bit rough on the alcohol so I decided to add a little water, which I often don't do to my whiskies. The faintest rubber hint I ever experienced in a whisky which makes me think I could as well be making it up. The complexity of this whisky  is unusual with quite different flavour components. A fun whisky to drink, but not for beginners...just add a little water if you aren't used to cask strength

Rating 86/100

Friday, December 7, 2012

7. December Longrow 12yo 57.6%

Distilled June 1996
Bottled April 2009
Fresh Fino Sherry Butt

Hit or miss. The words "miss" is something I often have to label Springbank bottlings when they try to go alternative with Gaja Barolo, Red, Tokaji or whatever barrel they happen to destroy their fine destillate with. I might not be pleased, but plenty of fanbois around jumping up and down in joy whatever crap they release. Maybe I am just a conservative boring purist, lets see how this sample fares, its a bottling for Springbank Society in 2009, bottles usually worth climbing a few fences to get!

Some of the stills at Springbank

Here is the verdict:

Nose sweet, with hints of rubber, the rubber is well packaged into the sherry sweetness, its a bit like opening a new box of wellingtons

The whisky is quite dry, with a good mix of latex and peat. The whisky is very oily, which kinda amplifies the rubber latex feeling, with the dryness and peat kicking in. While I don't reckon this is a bad whisky, it's actually quite well-balanced, but I couldn't sit around drink a lot of this. I don't mind the rubber kind of sulphur but I prefer some sweetness to balance it out. This is a malt in the catagory : Interesting

The finish is long, starts of hot and burning but ends up nice and with a lot of peat and fianlly a bit of sweetness

Rating 83/100


Thursday, December 6, 2012

6. December - Highland Park 25yo

After yesterdays detour - I just had to drink Glenfiddich, I am now back on the scheduled dram

6. Highland Park 25yo 50.7%

The nose is gentle and very sherried. At least relative to the two other Highland Parks I had this week. The palate reveals a heavily sherried Highland Park. Dark licorise, bitter almond and spicy wood on a layer of peat. Other might be more fan of this kind of sherry but personally I prefer the more balanced 12yo and 18yo, but this do score some intensity points

Rating 86/100

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

5. December - Glenfiddich 15yo Cask Strength

Allright, this is a bit unusual. Not very, but just a bit.

I never really wrote about what I want to do with this blog and why I have it. It's probably because I don't know myself. One thing is sure, the aim is not to have a review site. And it's not a site with current whiskynews. Plenty of those blogs around and the far majority of them are very good blogs, I enjoy reading at least 50 blogs, when I have the time

And if something important happens in the world of whisky it will get mentioned a million time all over the internet.

Instead I decided that this is just a catalogue of what I happen to drink. Not a very consistent catalogue, as it's a far minority of the whiskies I drink I actual write about. Again, it's nice to be too busy dramming to actual have time to write about

But today I am going to do an exception. Here's a bit of whisky news. Tabloid maybe, but still todays news-

I simply have to pour a GLENFIDDICH, for the sole reason not to support Donald Trump. I can't recall seing anyone making a bigger fool of himself lately.

You can read a bit about it here :

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/12/05/trump-wars-with-whiskey-company-after-it-gives-an-award-to-one-of-his-critics/

So I ask everybody to join my and have a Glenfiddich today

My pour is the 15yo cask strength 51% which I wrote about last february here

http://danishwhiskyblog.blogspot.dk/2012/02/simple-whisky-from-big-boys.html

Ready for the asylum ?
(Photo from Rawstory)

My ratings arent particular consistent, ust consistent with a couple of points. That's how I am. Today I would rate this dram 84/100. At least...



Tuesday, December 4, 2012

4. December Highland Park 18yo

Yesterdays 12yo was 40%, todays 18yo is 43%, does the 3% ABV really make a difference

It's very likely to!

This is pure speculating, but if I take this qualified example: The cask strength Highland Park 12yo was 55% before watered down and the 18yo was 52% before being watered down. This is totally made up by me, but I reckon it's a very realisitic example. In reality the ABV could have been different, similar and (unlikely though) higher for the 18yo.

But with these examples (I will spare you for the math): For every liter of whisky in the bottles approx. 27cl is added water for the 12yo and approx. 17cl is added water for the 18yo. Quite a lot, actually, in both examples, but also a remarkable difference.

One thumb rule is that alcoholpercentage goes down in the cask as the whisky matures (true for Scotland). Older whisky is weaker than younger whisky. Older watered down 40% whisky have less water added than a younger watered down 40% whisky!

Here is my opinion of the whisky

4. Highland Park 18yo 43%

The flavour profile of this is not far from yesterdays dram. But what you get is a more oily experience. Logical, as there should be less added water. As there is less water added, the concentration of "flavour molecules" is higher, The sherry is slightly more dominant. I pick up minty flavours as well. I get around the same amount of peatyness as in the 12yo. Again a well balanced sherry peaty whisky, and not as sweet as the 12yo- A great dram

Rating 89

Peatin' malt in 2007 at Highland Park


Off course its not just the ABV and added water that matters. Extra 6 years in cask and a different selection of cask types is also part of what makes this whisky what it is


Monday, December 3, 2012

3. December Highland Park 12yo

For the next few days I am going to Orkney, starting with a trio of OB's




3. Highland Park 12yo 40%

The nose is very sweet to the floral perfumy side. The palate is more in the same line kicking in with maltiness. Highland park is the Coca Cola of Malt Whiskies. Everybody likes it and many can't live without it. It's a very accesable malt, sweet and delicate, with a hint of peat - Highland Park mix very peated malt from their own floor maltings with "imported" malt, to get a lightly peated malt.

The light peat and the use of a high proportion of sherry casks results in a flavour intense entry malt, that has a lot more to offer than most other 12yo standard distillery bottlings.

The more I nose this the more I notice how sweet this is compared to other malts. The peat hits me on the palate, with a lot of woody spices incoming and a long finish for a product of this kind. I did experience quite a lot of batch differences of HP 12 and this one is surely one of the nicer versions I have tried. It's part of a 3-set 20cl bottlings that I stumbled upon on my mothers whiskyshelf... :-)

In a nutshell I find this very sweet but balanced as well in the participating flavours, with a very nice high intensity that is not usually expected from a 40% 12yo OB. The finish is intriguing with a lot of prickly wood spices lingering on your palate

Rating 88/100

Sunday, December 2, 2012

2. December - Auchentoshan 18yo

Macdeffe's advent calendar 2012 - Auchentoshan triple distilling

2. Auchentoshan 18yo 43%


18yo OB

Auchentoshan is triple distilled. First the wash is distilled in the first still : The wash still is taking the ABV from around 8% up to around 20% - This is called low wines

Secondly this low wines is distilled in the intermediate still. A small cut is done, around 10% at the start called the foreshot is returned back and mixed with incoming low wines. So the intermediate still is distilling a mix of mainly low wines from the first still and a bit of foreshot of previous destillations.This results in an intermediate spirit (intermediate feints as they call it) with an average strength of 55%

Third, we have the spirit still. In this is distilled a mix of intermediate feints and what is cut away from previous distillations. Foreshots and feints from the third still is returned to the feints receiver where feints from the 2nd still and foreshots and feints from the third still is mixed. The ratio is 55:45

This results is a very light high alcohol spirit around 80-82%. which is reduced to 63.5% before entering the casks. Compare this to the approximately 70% that is produced when double distilling at other distilleries!

The 18yo is matured in ex-bourbon casks. It's a light and friendly spirit with quite some wood influence, where the wood dominates citrus and vanilla flavours. There's a surprisingly amount of fruityness, think pineapples mixed with apple, pears, oranges and sugar

This is a very delicious whisky and a perfect morning dram, when your palate is fresh and finetuned. I wouldn't serve it as number 35 in one of our regular sit downs :-). Aperitif

Rating 86



Saturday, December 1, 2012

Macdeffe's Advent Calendar

Since before 2004 I have done my own whisky advent calendar. It's basically a dram a day in December up to christmas. The only difference about December than the rest of the year is that I will TRY to blog about it

It can be quite consuming to blog everyday, time that will interfere and interupt your drinking and enjoying of whisky.

This blog has been quiet for almost two months. It's not that I didn't drink whisky for two months. Quite the opposite. You can say I have been too busy drinking whisky to blog about it. A fantastic visit to UK with Penderyn and Glasgow Whisky Festival was the holiday highlights. OK here I kick into December with a series of short short short reviews. And maybe some longer comments and rants

1. December

The morning after Glasgow Whisky Festival, MacSorley's, Islay Inn and the Park Bar I managed to wake and knock the front door of Auchentoshan just before their opening. A sunday morning quietness was ideal for a whisky distillery tour, the triple stills are always a nice sight

They have an old Glen Garioch Still outside

Todays dram is

Auchentoshan "exclusively hand bottled" cask 11030
Distilled 28/06-1996, bottled 11/11-2012 56% 

I was there on the 18th, someone kindly handbottled the 20cl bottle the week before for me :-)
I think it should be compulsary for distilleries to have something special, like a special single cask when you visit their distillery. This cask is bottled as the custommers empties it, so various bottlings are likely to have different bottling days. I really think that distilleries with a stock lige Morrison Bowmore should price their DIY bottlings lower. At least try to make the price level tourist friendly instead of scaring us away

This is a great example of a malt from an ex-bourbon cask. The nose is close and somewhat simple, but delicious. A sweet malty vanilla nose¨. A fullbodied creamy palate continues along the same paths, with vanilla and custardy notes. Sticky toffee pudding without the sticky parts 


Rating 86/100







Thursday, October 11, 2012

Is this fraud, cheating or lying ?


Just some of my random thoughts here. Maybe I am speculating and fantasizing too much, but I can't help myself think and speculate :-)

A new independent bottler "sources" some casks from Whyte and Mackay

an old Fettercairn, Dalmore, Carsebridge and North British under the Sirius label.

After about a year these bottles pop up for sale at the Whiskyshop (UK) and the prices are quite high. The grains go for 5-10 the price of similar bottlings and the malts are in true Dalmore sense released at fantasy prices. My first thought was that this was just a shadowbottler for Dalmore/Whyte and Mackay, but you never know?

At around the same time the man behind these bottlings, Mahesh Patel, is announced as purchasing a full set of the Dalmore Constallation, which is a rather large range of some older cask finished Dalmores of which the cheapest is a 20yo port finished at 2000£ and the most expensive is a 20000£ 1964 finished in a sherry metusalem cask.

(no typo's....)

Recently the Whiskyshop named Isle of Jura Superstition Whisky of the year. Isle of Jura and Dalmore are both Whyte and Mackay products.

To me this is like selling a Toyota at the price of a Ferrari and a Ferrari at the price of an Airbus, while naming a McDonalds Quarterpounder Food of the year.

I also see an unfortunate threesome. If connections like these were involving international politics there would be SCANDAL headlines hitting the newspapers..

The purpose of all this is not to sell these superexpensive malts. They only have one function. Their function is to create attention. Their function is to create a brand. A brand that is connected with luxury. If a bottle of old Dalmore is priced at 20000£ it will lead the uneducated consumer to believe that the regular normal priced Dalmores are superior products.

Similar things has been done by many other branded whiskies. But I have never seen a threesome of backrubbing like this. As a consumer you have to beware. If a shop name a specific bottling as Whisky of the year, you would expect it to be something special, wouldn't you ?

Well, it's a free world. There's plenty of malts out there and plenty of shops. I just choose to shop with people I consider honest in their pricing and honest in their recommendations

Sometimes I wish whiskyconsumers, were as much consumers as they are fans. If I look at the marketing in the business I sometimes can't help to think we are the easiest prey on the planet Earth.

I often see people lie down flat on their stomach drooling about some random packaging, that couldn't be given away for free, if it was sitting on the shelves in IKEA by itself.

PS I didn't even mention the Dalmore Zenith, which is another link between the whiskyshop and Whyte and Mackay






Sunday, October 7, 2012

Whisky online part II of II - Smooth Ambler

This spring I got approached by Smooth Ambler Spirits when I randomly published on twitter I was driving around Kentucky visiting distilleries. They invited me to come visit. Smooth Ambler Spirits is one of these many new small distilleries shooting up all the world, particular in the USA. They are often named craft distilleries, a term I don't really like as I don't necessarily consider bigger, well established distilleries as non-craft distillers :-)

John Foster and Smooth Ambler stills

I really like Smooth Ambler Spirits. 

The days we had in Kentucky were extremely hot. The neighbouring states were more or less flattened by an unusual summer storm, putting areas in West Virginia, Ohio and Virginia out of Power. It was very very VERY nice that John emailed med in the morning before we drove from Lexington, Kentucky, that we better fill the car with gas as his area was powerless and they had no idea when it would come back.

John told me, that one of the reasons it's nice to live in West Virginia, is that they are not normally exposed to harsh weathers and storms. Hills, forests and small mountains usually do the job of calming down winds and weather. Not this time.

When we approached east West Virginia we saw what happened

Many fallen trees around Smooth Ambler.

There were no power around Smooth Ambler. It was very hot, above 40C. A gas station with a generator had a line of cars waiting half a mile down the road and then as far as my eyes could see down a side road. If John hadn't advised us to fill the car up with gas, we would have been stuck. Thanks!

Lexington, Virginia

Out of power also means no air condition. No fridges, no lights, no distilling, no nothing. There was kind of a ghost town feeling around the distillery that day. And very very hot.

 On this hot sunday, we were greeted by John, and had a small walk around the distillery and than sat down in their bar and had a little presentation of their products. We also managed to find a little sample of Mortlach for John, the last drops of travel goodies :-)

John lines up Smooth Ambler products


So what do a new distillery do ?. They won't have a 10year old ready until some years, 10 years to be precise. There's a few things to be done to generate income. Smooth Ambler do most of these

A. Make some white spirits like gin and vodka. These more or less comes straight of the still and straigth into the bottle and can be sold  right away. Smooth Ambler bottle a vodka and a gin. I really like their gin by the way.

B. Bottle some young whisky. This can be dangerous. People are used to drink older, well matured whisky and might not like whisky aged for just months or a couple of years. Look at the appendix below for more on this subject
Smooth Ambler Spirits do this and they also have a bottle aged gin!

So how are they doing

1. Smooth Ambler Yearling 46%
Aged for 1year and 10 months

Nose : Bourbon light. It got the bourbon characterisitc, with wood, quite a lot of vanilla, but also floral touch. Also a hint of north european vegetables, mainly fresh boiled potatoes-
Palate : A little rough, but not much. Very creamy and vanillaed, with a slightly somewhat bitter wood finish. A hint of a floral perfumedness. But in the end the creaminess, the vanilla and the youthful spirit stands out as the dominating flavours.

Rating 82/100

This is actually surprisingly good. It is what it is. A very young bottling of whiskey. But also very drinkable. This is a wheated bourbon, so there is not a heavy rye flavour for the young spirit to hide behind. The decision to make a wheated bourbon seems to be a brilliant decisison, as I reckon the quality of this bourbon is also a good balance between the wood and the soft creaminess of a wheater.

If a new distillery present their young whisky at overpriced inflated prices as special unique products (I've seen this happen in Denmark and Europe) I loose respect for the producer. This can be hard for them to regain :-)

If a new distillery is a little more humble about their products and has a more realistic view of their own products, I, as a consumer, will also have some confidence they know what they are doing. Smooth Ambler are aiming to make older bourbons.  It was pretty clear from my talks with John that these guys know what they want to make. Their ware house is full of normal sized barrels. Smooth Ambler is a distillery that wants to make whisky tomorrow, not just today.

Yearling and Old Scout

C. A third way to promote your brand and earn some cash is to bottle sourced whisky. High West gained fame by bottling sourced whisky, mainly ryes. Sourced predominantly from LDI
Smooth Ambler Spirits has also sourced barrels from LDI, but mainly, if not all bourbons.

Cask end at SAS. Looks like Four Roses to me :-)

Smooth Ambler doesn't use the term "sourced", but use "scouted" whiskey and they bottle it under the Smooth Ambler Old Scout Label

2. Smooth Ambler Old Scout 6yo 49.5%

Nose : Floor varnish
Palate. Woody, Liqorice. There is definetely a rye component here. This has got some of the same components as those total black sherry whiskies. This is a well balanced whisky. It means the major flavour components are balanced out and none of them heavily dominantes the other. It's the licorise wood, rye spice and creamy sweetness. It is more woody and less sweet relative to other bourbons. And my guess is that it is a high rye mash bill of some kind. 

This is a hardcore bourbon. The flavours are intense. Anyone who thinks Jack Daniels is rock'n'roll haven't tasted the real stuff

Rating 86/100

3. Samples
I am very thankful for the gifts I received from Smooth Ambler. Especially three cask samples of sourced bourbons aged 12, 19 and 21 years old. All three labeled "Very Old Scout" together with specific cask data. I was told that these casks will be somehow vatted together. So far I have seen labels of a 11yo and a 14yo when googling the internet. My favourite of the three is the 12yo, the two older ones are quite woody. I get the best results when I add a little of the older ones into the 12yo. It's always fun to do your own homevattings and not that hard if you got components with basic flavours. Smooth Ambler has done the same with their 14yo which has 15, 17 and 19yo whisky in it as well

Appendix

One of my favourite bloggers got into trouble with a new distillery recently:


All I can say, is that at least Sku tasted the whiskey before mildly critisizing it. I think Leviathan should have read Sku's blog before ciritizing Sku :-)

















Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Forty Creek Copper Pot Reserve 43%

Forty Creek Distillery in Ontario has recently released a new bottling, the Copper Pot Reserve. I visited the distillery in June 2012 and had a great tour which was set up with the help of Johanne from The Perfect Whisky Match, a leading Canadian Whisky Blog

She was very kind to send me a sample from this bottle:

Copper Pot Reserve

You can read Johanne's very good blog post about this bottling here:


Here are my own short thoughts about this very nice whisky:

Forty Creek Copper Pot Reserve 43%

Nose : Grainy, sweet and slightly youthful.
Palate : Fullbodied, sherried. creamy, the flavours are really bold from what you would expect from the somewhat laidback nose.. Very sweet-fruity on the palate, cherries, lychees, peach on a back of wood and spices
Finish : Medium

The 3% higher ABV brings out a little more creamyness of the Forty Creek Whisky

Rating 86/100, 

A very delicious and  drinkable Canadian Whisky. This will for sure appeal to fans of ex-sherry casked whisky.

I can't help compare this to malt whisky, which this whisky is much closer to in style than bourbon. The main difference is the grainy flavours with some clearly different components, a bit of rye spice particular, and then the creamy vanillaed texture with gives a solid base for the fruity sherried whisky.

I had a short post about my visit to Forty Creek here




Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dailuaine

This is one of Diageo's more unknown distilleries. Diageo is the the biggest distillery company in Scotland with around 30 malt whisky disitilleries and some it's the most famous brands are Johnnie Walker, Bell's, Lagavulin, Guinness, Bushmills, Smirnoff, Dickel, Baileys, and I can go on and on naming world brands. Big company for sure

Dailuaine is not a target for the owners as a single malt brand as such. A somewhat rare bottling, the 16yo Flora and Fauna bottling is the only bottling available (almost). It is a very nice whisky, influenced heavily, if not exclusively by ex-sherry casks. If you want to explore Dailuaine further you have to search for independent bottlings

It's one of the few distilleries I never visited, I would for sure like to go and have a look one day!

Ben Rinnes

Dailuaine is on the very bottom slopes of the Ben Rinnes, the dominant, mountain (some would say hill) of Speyside. This mountain is 841m high and on it slopes it gives water to at least a handful of distilleries of which Dailuaine is one. It is located just a few hundred meters from the river Spey. The view from the top of Ben Rinnes is pure splendour with a kaleidoscope of most of Speyside. Climbing the summit is one of the pilgrimages a devoted malt whisky fan have to do :-), it is strongly recommended and can be done in 3-4 hours

1. Dailuaine 27yo 53.6% whiskybroker.co.uk
Refill sherry hogshead
Distilled 2/11-1983 Bottled 15/7-2011

Nose : honey and wood, laid back and rustic on the wood spices with candylike sweetness

Palate: Some bitterness, think dark chocolate bitterness and licorice - overpowering the sweet impression I picked up from the nosing. Behind all this is a 

Long and dominated by a slight bitter sweetness

Rating 83/100

Comment : You have to be able to accept the bitterness, but it's actual kinda well balanced into the 

2. Dailuaine 34yo 1973 Old Malt Cask 50%
Nose: Fruity, citrusy-briny, oaky-spiced

Palate. fruity, with some slight malty flavours,  hint of oak and prickly alcoholic spices

Finish: nice with a sweet touch that rounds this whisky down your throat and into your body leaving a little smile

Rating 87/100

Very nice whisky that will convince you more and more of its qualities as you sit and enjoy it








Quiz 5: The very long malt whisky quiz

Warning : This is a long malt whisky quiz with 100 questions. Make sure you have a dram ready and plenty of time.

http://www.quibblo.com/quiz/hr3Wxey/Quiz-5-The-very-long-malt-whisky-quiz

Maltstock. A whiskyfestival with a live whiskyquiz


(This giant quiz doesn't seem to work in its embedded form so use the link above)




Monday, September 17, 2012

Quiz 4: Islay

This time we go to Islay, a famous scottish whisky Island with 8 working distilleries.


Quizzes by Quibblo.com


Move the mouse pointer over the question to see the full question!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Quiz 3: Whisky Quiz #3

Quiz 3 is the hardest quiz so far


Quizzes by Quibblo.com




Move the mouse pointer over the question to see the full question!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Quiz 2: The Malt Whisky Quiz


Move the mouse pointer over the question to see the full question!

All Quizzes here: http://danishwhiskyblog.blogspot.dk/2010/04/i-made-series-of-whisky-trivia-quizzes.html

Quiz 1: The Easy Malt Whisky Quiz


I wasn't satisfied with the old interface I used for my whisky trivia quizzes and will move them over to this new interface (quibblo.com). I will update them and add them here one by one as soon as I get them done.
Please enjoy responsible.



Quizzes by Quibblo.com

Move the mouse pointer over the question to see the full question!

All Quizzes here: http://danishwhiskyblog.blogspot.dk/2010/04/i-made-series-of-whisky-trivia-quizzes.html

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dalwhinnie is a Speysider!!

Now what is Speyside ??

It's a whiskyregion. In Scotland. Some people don't like whiskyregions for various reasons, and those "some people" sometimes includes me. But that's not what I want to discuss in this post. 

Some companies market their whiskies based on whisky regions. Diageo's Classic malts is a good example of this. A few years back they had the regions of Speyside, Islay, Islands, Highland, Lowland and also West Highland if I remember correctly. For a lot of us this was our first encounter with whisky regions. Or maybe it was Tesco's line of whiskies labeled with similar regions. 

But these "regions" are made up by the companies that is trying to sell whisky to us. Nothing wrong with that. But Diageo is such a big company with so much whisky and so many distilleries that what they do and say is sometimes believed to be how things are. But no. Their regions is just something they made up to help market their whisky. Nothing wrong with that, and it's not like it doesn't make any sense what they do.

But what is this thing called Speyside? Maybe it's the whisky distilleries that are situated on the banks of the river Spey? No. It's not that simple.

Maybe it's the distilleries that lies in the watershed of the river Spey? This would include the rivers, streams, burns and glens running into Spey. Like Livet and Fiddich to mention a couple of wellknowns.

No, it's not like that either. Far too simple...

A lot of distilleries that are Speysiders are on the banks of Lossie, Findhorn and Isla. Confusing?. And Isla runs into Deveron which has distilleries on it's bank that are NOT Speysiders

Confused? I was! I am too focused on rivers. Speyside has nothing to do with rivers.

I headed over to SWA's website. SWA is Scottish Whisky Association. They must know what is where in Scotland. They say this:

The current UK legislation relating specifically to Scotch Whisky is The Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009. The Regulations govern the production, labelling, and presentation of Scotch Whisky.

So I continued over to the The Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009. You might have heard about them before. They are the ones that wants us to drink blended malt.

The Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009 Chapter 10 says :

**************************************

Locality and region geographical indications...

(5) The protected localities are—
(a)“Campbeltown”, comprising the South Kintyre ward of the Argyll and Bute Council as that ward is constituted in the Argyll and Bute (Electoral Arrangements) Order 2006(1); and
(b)“Islay”, comprising the Isle of Islay in Argyll.
(6) The protected regions are—
(a)“Highland”, comprising that part of Scotland that is north of the line dividing the Highland region from the Lowland region;
(b)“Lowland”, comprising that part of Scotland that is south of the line dividing the Highland region from the Lowland region; and
(c)“Speyside”, comprising—
(i)the wards of Buckie, Elgin City North, Elgin City South, Fochabers Lhanbryde, Forres, Heldon and Laich, Keith and Cullen and Speyside Glenlivet of the Moray Council as those wards are constituted in the Moray (Electoral Arrangements) Order 2006(2); and
(ii)the Badenoch and Strathspey ward of the Highland Council as that ward is constituted in the Highland (Electoral Arrangements) Order 2006(3).




**************************************

Now this is the protected regions and localities. This basically just means that a distillery has to be on Islay to label itself as "Islay Whisky". And that a distillery has to be in Speyside to label itself as "Speyside Single Malt Whisky". And it also defines these regions and localities. Later in chapter 10 the division line between Lowland and Highland is exactly defined as well. 

The region "Islands" is not mentioned. Any Scotch whisky could label themself as "Island Whisky" if they want to. All of Scotland is on an island in case you forgot :-)

And here the region Speyside is exactly defined as Moray and the "Badenoch and Strathspey" ward in the Highlands

End of story. This is Speyside. When it comes to whisky. All of Speyside is located within the Highland protected region, so it's totally legal for a Speyside distillery to label themself as Highland. Macallan does it. Legal yes, but confusing. It's hard to be more Speyside geographically than Macallan

End of story. No more confusion. 


I wanted to know which distilleries were actually located in the Badenoch and Strathspey ward.

Tormore. check
Balmenach. check
Speyside. check (Some one with a sense of humor decided to name his distillery "Speyside". Label it as Highland Malt, and then locate it far away from anything else considered Speyside whiskyregion. You have to be a Scott to have that kind of humor)

That's it. Wait. There's one more. 

Dalwhinnie. check. Dalwhinnie is a Speysider. End of story. It's located far up the mountains, far to the south, almost in Perth. It's a shorter distance to Perth than to Elgin from Dalwhinnie. Many consider Elgin the capital of Speyside. I could agree with that. People in Dufftown might not, but  it's also a shorter distance to Perth than to Dufftown from Dalwhinnie. Elgin is on the river Lossie by the way :-)

Dalwhinnie is a Speysider. I see. Interesting. It's in the watershed of Speyside as the river Truim runs north into the river Spey

Badenoch and Strathspey


Here's a few other borderliners :

Tomatin is not, nor is Glenglassaugh. Nor Glendronach. Neither Ardmore

Inchgower is a Speysider. So is AnCnoc. (Knockdhu)

Knockdhu considers and labels themselfs as Highland. Which is not wrong. But as the distillery is located in the Keith and Cullen ward in Moray, it's a Speysider!

All this geography can be very hard to grasp. To help us, SWA made this map:


It shows the regions and localities. You shouldn't be confused anymore now. Until You locate Tomatin on their map that is:-)

Dalwhinnie

Speyside has around 50 working distilleries. Also quite a few mothballed, demolished and silent distilleries, which whiskies are still available out there. This makes Speyside the main whisky producing region of the world!!. It's a rather small area located between Inverness and Aberdeen in the northern part of Scotland

..between Inverness, Perth, and Aberdeen. sorry..



Sunday, September 9, 2012

New Distilleries ?

At any time there is always a range of distilleries being planned. Some of these happens, other do not.

Projects like Blackwood Distillery on Shetland and Ladybank in Fife are planned distilleries that didn't happen. Arran, Abhainn Dearg, Glengyle, Kilchoman and Daftmill are new distilleries that did happen as well as Ailsa Bay and Roseisle from Grant's and Diageo.

I am very entusiastic about these new distilleries. They are usually very well presented on their websites. But with the current economic climate and the projects that hasn't happened, I am never sure before we see the first drops running in the spirit safe.



Since 2005. No whisky released yet


Here's a shortlist of what the current status seems to be here in autumn 2012

Annandale:
Looks like a sure thing. The equipment is planned to be installed in September 2012
http://www.annandaledistillery.co.uk/
Will it happen : Yes

A few others are also in the planning. It will exciting to see if they happen

The Ardnamurchan Distillery
Adelphi, an independent bottler, has received planning permission for a new distillery in Ardnamurchan
http://www.adelphidistillery.com/
Will it happen : Plans and projects are new

Wolfburn:
Distillery on the north coast on Scotland.
http://wolfburn.com/
Will it happen : Plans and projects are new

Kingsbarn:
http://www.kingsbarnsdistillery.com/
Has been stuck in the planning stages for a few years now
Will it happen : Maybe

Lakes Distillery:
A planned distillery in the Lakes District in Cumbria.
http://www.lakesdistillery.com/
It's been semiquiet lately. Plenty of twitter activity, most tweets not related to the project though
Will it happen : Maybe

Falkirk Distillery:
http://falkirkdistillery.com/
It has been very quiet about this distillery for a couple of years.
Will it happen : I don't think so

Huntly Distillery
A project by the independent bottler Duncan Taylor. They have the buildings and also hired a distillery manager. Not much seem to have happened for a couple of years and the supposed-to-be manager has left.
Will it happen : I don't think so

I've only considered  the scottish planned distilleries and one in Cumbria. All over the rest of the world new distilleries are getting on the map. Especially in Ireland there seem to be a lot going on these days

Check out my maps of confirmed producing distilleries

http://danishwhiskyblog.blogspot.dk/2010/04/google-maps-of-all-whiskydistilleries.html

It's an ongoing work-in-progress updating those maps :-)




Saturday, September 8, 2012

Whisky Tasting with Le Coq

Post in danish about a whiskytasting I am cohosting at Le Coq restaurant in Århus

Le Coq har igennem september hver torsdag temadage med diverse spiritus som emner. 


Torsdag d. 20 september er der Whisk(e)y på programmet 

Start Klokken 1730 

Troels Buus, der står for både Le Coq og Den Rustikke i Århus, og undertegnede, vil denne aften promovere whisk(e)y med flasker fra tre verdensdele. 

Programmet er som følger: 
Mortlach 19yo Cadenhead 57.6% (Skotsk) 
Tomatin 34yo Liquid Sun 51.2% (Skotsk) 
Longmorn 20yo 55.7% (Skotsk) 
Amrut Fusion 50% (Indien) 
Ardbeg Still Young 56.2% (Skotsk) 
W. L. Weller 12yo 90 proof (Bourbon) 
Old Charter 12yo 90 proof (Bourbon) 
Jim Beam Rye 40% (Rye) 

Pris 250,- inkl 1 fadøl 

Efterfølgende kan der VED FORUDBESTILLING nydes følgende menu Smile 

Stegt unghane med Risotto, vilde svampe og Islay whisky 

The Virginia Gentleman Bourbon Chokolade mousse 

Menu : Pris 200,- 

Le Coq's hjemmeside: http://www.cafe-lecoq.dk/ 

Adresse : 
Le Coq 
Graven 14 
8000 Aarhus C 


Med Venlig Hilsen 
Steffen Bräuner (Macdeffe/Danish Whisky Blog) 
Tilmelding : ardbeg1975(snabel-a)hotmail.com eller PM

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Stauning "Second Opinion"


Stauning Rye Second opinion 48%
Distilled 2009/2010 Bottled 2011



Nose: A powerful sweet rye with clear, but a fresh, youthness. The rye spices reminds me of a wet resinous morning in a pine forest

Palate: Again powerful rye. Loads of butterscotch.  A dry toasted woodyness and a light alcoholic burn. This is a bit of an infight of components I find good and not so good. I really like the butterscotch and the rye flavour of this whisky, but the toasted wood and the light alcoholic burn is not my favourite. I reckon some, if not many, will like the woodyness while most will also struggle with alcohol. This is just more or less archetype young whisky and anyone enjoying unaged spirits at higher ABV's will know of this.

Finish: Shortish to medium. But  luckily with the rye and butterscotch dominating. As typical with very young whiskies the sensation sits at the front of your mouth.

Rating 82 

The best released danish whisky I have tasted so far and this isnt really whisky as its not 3 years old. Still young and fighting, but its a clear improvement from their first release.

This is a vatting of 1 200 liter cask and 12 50l casks, all new wood. Small casks usually speeds some woodiness into a whisky

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Unique Whisky

Warning : sunday hangover rant coming up :-)

The word unique is one of the often used words when trying to sell whisky

So often, that when I see it used, I know almost instantly that I won't buy the product

I have started to grow a dislike for the word. It's getting overused. It's a plain fact that every single cask of whisky in Scotland and whiskey in Kentucky is unique. And so are every vatting of these casks. So (almost) every bottle of whisky out there isn't more unique than the single cow beef steak you had for dinner last night.



It's not just whisky, it's used all over the spirit world. Here's a description of a vodka I came across today:

"The Swedish vodka lures drinkers with its unique taste, transparent color and modern bottle design. "

To me it tastes more or less as any other vodka (and don't get me started on it's colour, it's exactly the same as any other vodka)

But I am not that naive that anything will stop marketing to describe their products as unique. Or rare. Or limited.

I just wished these descriptors were used when they are really true. Like a bottle of Brora from 1972, a single cask Glenury Royal or a bourbon from Pennsylvania.

Monday, August 27, 2012

50 year old whisky

Whisky this age is normally something I find way too expensive or simply can't afford.

But recently Archives bottled a grain that was availbale at 150€. A very affordable price for such old whisky

North British

North British is a grain distillery located in Edinburgh, it was founded in 1885. 

They got a nice homepage with lots of info and photos


Now how is this old whisky ?

North British 1962 Archives 45.2% 50yo
Hogshead #29 168 bottles
Distilled 31/5 - 1962, bottled 24/7 - 2012

Initial nose is a bit odd and newmakey, but give it just a couple of minutes in the glass and its gone. Some say that a whisky needs a minute in the glass for every year it has been in the cask, so waiting 2 minutes is a little requirement.

Old grains can be very spicy from the wood influence, but this is not. The wood influence is there, but it's more like a classical bourbon woodyness than the sometimes heavy spicy grain woodyness I often find in old grains. This is also, quite surprising a fruity grain. The best way I can describe it, is a delicate fruity bourbon. Bourbons are very intensive compared to single malt, and on the intensity scale this is like a typical scottish malt whisky. It's the reused casks!!

The nose is gentle, with delicate wood, a hint of a cardamon/nutmeg mix, and it just gets better and better as times go. Bourbonesque sweetness.

A tiny and very late hint of fruityness in the nose carries over in the palate where it is much more present than in the nose. Otherwise the notes from nose carries over, with delicate wood again and the sweet laidback spices on the fruity bed

A really delicious dram, that develops a lot with time in the glass. I spend 1 hour with this and it was one hour well spent. A dram to be saved for those moments where you have the time. It goes well with a movie or soccer match on the tele

So if you ever get around this dram, be nice and spend the time that 50 years in cask deserves it to have. It will be rewarded. Delicateness supreme

Rating 92










Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lochside and Glenury Royal

These samples has been sitting on my shelf for more than 1½ year, I think its time.

Gordon and MacPhail is one of the worlds oldest and also one of the worlds leading independent bottlers. Historically it had and has a tradition of getting their own casks filled at distilleries and then maturing them in their own warehouse in Elgin.

Gordon and MacPhail's shop in Elgin

1. Lochside Gordon and MacPhail 1981-2005 43%
The nose is slightly musty, old, fruity - plums in brandy. The palate adds some sweetness, nutty flavour and almonds, with berries like cherries and plums. Wood spices emergens near the finish which is a well balanced mix of sweet woodspices and fruityness
A delicate dram that doesn't really suffer for being bottled at 43%
Rating 91
Lochside was located on the east coast of Scotland in Montrose. Last destillation in 1992.  It's demolished


2. Glenury Royal Gordon and MacPhail 1984-2010 43%
I know when you taste one whisky straight after another, what you mainly get is what really differes from the first. The thing that hit my face with this one is that's its slightly drier and doesn't have the same level of fruityness as the Lochside. It got a lot of hazelnut. I never had a whisky before with this much hazelnutflavour. Not bad. Unless you don't like hazelnut! There is a little tiny hint of peat as well. The finish is longer, dominated by the hazelnuts and again sweets wood spices
Rating 91
Glenury Royal was located on the east coast of Scotland in Stonehaven. Last destillation in 1985. It's partly demolished, partly turned into flats. It's rare even for a distillery closed after 1983

A couple of great drams that has some similarities, especially in texture and oilyness, the initial likelyhoods just go down two separate ways. What makes this drams great is that the many years in the wood hasn't overpowered the fruity or nutty flavour of these whiskies, which are the dominating flavours here. Compliments to Gordon and MacPhail for bottling these drams at what seems to be the exact perfect time