Saturday, December 31, 2011

World Whiskies - Happy New Year

As the new year is rolling in over the globe over the next 24 hours lets have a look at whisky from around the globe

Whisky is a popular dram. Distilleries are popping up all over the world, Personally I have always regarded Scotland, USA, Ireland and Japan for the classic 4 whisky countries which have a long tradition of making whisky of all kinds. Many would argue that Canada belongs to this list, and I don't really have an opinion if it does or not, I simply lack experience in canadian whiskies

But the world is coming. Amrut from India has already made it to the stars of whisky

World whiskies doesn't have the same reputation as whisky from the countries mentioned above, and there's a couple of reasons for that.

Some world distilleries simply make crap whisky and/or

Some distilleries bottle whisky that's too young

But that's not something particular for world whiskies. I could say the same about some whiskies from Scotland. But let's leave the bad ones.

This blog post is my personal recommendations of whiskies from around the world worth having a look at. The list isn't complete as I haven't tasted everything out there.

Let's start in America!

McCarthy's Oregon single malt whiskey

Single malt whiskey from Portland in Oregon, made at Clear Creek Distillery
This is a peated malt made on Holstein still's one a one-run distillation (with a twist)
Read more here :
A delicious peaty dram, well worth a look


Charbay is a winery and multidistillery in the hills between Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley just north of San Francisco in California. Marko Karakasevic is a somewhat excentric distiller who decided if he had to dsitll beer, it has to be the best beers, so Charbay whiskeys is made from bottle ready IPA's, stouts and the likes. This isn't the cheapest whiskeys on the market and its not easy to find either as the releases has been few over the years

Moving over to Europe now :


Glann ar Mor


A Bretagne distillery in France keeps the celtic connection up, and with a double distillation, live flame heated, onion shaped pot stills, worm tubs and wooden wash backs this is as traditional as it can be.

Lars reviewed the peated version, Kornog here:

Distillery home page here : 

Czech Republic:


A Czech distillery in Pradlo decided to make some whisky in 1989, right before the velvet revolution. The casks were forgotten in the mild turmoil that created the czech republic and the whisky was "rediscovered" in 2010 and bottled as a 21yo. The new owners , The Stock Spirit Group, were really surprised by the quality of this spirit, and it has been availbale for bargain prices in duty frees



Kavalan is a Taiwanese whisky, the distillery was started in 2006. Several expressions has been released, Kavalan, Concertmaster (port finish), Solist (single casks of various types) and King Car (un-chill filtered, 46%). The whisky is sold mainly on the chinese markets and is really hard to get in Europe (and the US)

Last, I believe that Australia is an up and coming whisky producing country, but I simply haven't tasted anything under proper circumstances recently, but I did try Lark whisky at Glasgow Whisky Festival and it's for sure something to keep an eye on as well

Canada : Look out for Forty Creek whisky from the Kittling Ridge Distillery

Friday, December 30, 2011

Beer hunter, Whisky chaser. A book review by Peter

First Blog by Peter
Hi this is my first take on a review on this page.
Before starting the review I had better introduce myself
I am an anorak (just as the other guys reviewing on this page. My specialty/interest is whisky books and Rosebank whisky (feel free to send me samples to review ;-) )
I have chosen to start with a review on the late great Michael Jackson's memorial book, Beer hunter, Whisky chaser.

Beer Hunter Whisky Chaser
Not a book by Michael Jackson, nor is it about the man (well not a lot anyway). But a book written as a tribute to him. (And as a money maker for the Parkinson Disease Society, UK). For that alone it gets a few stars extra!
Now I am both a whisky fan and a beer fan, so this book should be great for me! It is, but only in whisky terms. Apparently I'm not used to read a lot about beer, other than recipes for making it, so I'm a bit lost reading those parts of the book.
Because of that, the whisky parts will have to Carry the price. Luckily it does. Charles MacLean's analysis of the renaissance of malt whisky is the star of the book in my view. And the rest is not bad either.

For diversity the book gets an 85
For the whisky, it gets an 85 as well
For the charity, it gets a 92
Total 87

Michael Jackson

PS, if you want to see why you should buy this book and support The Parkinson Disease Society, then just check this YouTube clip and see the last interview with MJ. That ought to convince you if you have not all ready bought a copy.


Last drams of 2011 part 5

Old Grand Dad 100 proof bottled in bond 1982

To me, the bourbon terms sometimes seems odd. Bottled in bond means a vintage whiskey and straight means the whiskey is minimum 4 years old :-)

(read more exact definition here :

The Old Grand Dad is today a Beam brand, and uses a special high rye mash bill different from the other Beam whiskies. The whisky is named after Basil Hayden, the original distiller Raymond Haydens grand-dad. The name is also known from Beam's Basil Hayden's bouron which also uses the same mash bill.

Nose : Shoe polish, rye, liqeur

Palate : Wow, pure rye heaven. It's very smooth and hasn't got a lot of wood. Is this OBE ? (old bottle effect). I do find slight similarities to this and AH Hirsch 16, and the AH Hirsch 16 did spend around 1½ decade in stainless steel tanks. One thing is sure, I am glad I have been stocking up on bourbons bottled last century. I get more from this. Mint, licorise, floor varnish, rye, vanilla, but this is also one of the least woody and smoothest bourbons I have tried

Finish : medium-long

Rating 91

Thanks to Mike Ly for the sample

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Last drams of 2011 part 4

Karuizawa 1967 cask 6426, 58.4%
The Whisky Exchange 10y online anniversary, bottled 24/8-2009

The colour and looks of this whisky reminds me of balsamico.

Nose :

Boiled in fruit, leather, and a bit of the inside of a pair of wellingtons.


Extremely oily on the verge of being gritty without being it at all. Dried fruits, Ris a lamande cherry sauce, a long finish. A drop of water brings up wood notes , and a little sweetness, a sweetness you would have thought would have been there from the start, but this is actually a surprisingly non-sweet sherried whisky. Very unlike any other whisky I have a tasted, an exceptional good dram, the leather taste is dominating, and leather is usually something I pick up in Lagavulin and old Ardbegs. No noticeable peat or smoke in this Karuizawa

Rating 89

Last drams of 2011 part 3

Tamnavulin 40yo Single Malts of Scotland 40.4%

Nose : apple-shoe polish. A very delightful nose, not that intensive, but one of those whisky you can keeo going on nosing. This is like a girl in a summer dress.

Palate : This is a very fragile dram. A composite of apples with some spicy wood parts, which gives away the old age of this malt. Its very moorish, but also so delicate and fragile that it will have trouble following any other dram.

Finish : medium with a some bitterness

Tamnavulin is a Speyside distillery located up the hills behind the Glenlivet distillery also on the Glenlivet estate. The distillery is owned by Whyte and Mackay and reopened in 2007 after have being mothballed for 12 years.

Rating 86

Tamnavulin anno 2007

The old mill used to host a visitor centre

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Last drams of 2011 part 2

Laphroaig Quarter Cask 48%

Quarter Cask  is a No Age Statement Laphroaig. It is regular Laphroaig that has received a finish on quarter casks. Quarter Cask , having a quart the size of a normal cask, hence the name, has a larger surface to volume ratio. This results in larger wood impact to the spirit, well some would call this a slightly speeded up maturation

Nose : sweet, peaty and floral.

Palate : Again quite sweet, with some floral notes and a background of peat

Finish : Long and peaty

This is a dram for peat lovers. The peat is dominating, but its a very delicate and drinkable whisky, despite its young age and relative high ABV. Recently I found a lot of the Laphroaigs distillery bottlings sligtly floral, opposed to independent Laphroaigs. It's all a matter of taste but personally I prefer the independent bottlings of Laphroag out there, with the 10yo cask strength being on the same level

It's no where floral on the same level or same kind as many associate with Bowmore, especially Bowmore from a few years back!

Rating 83

Last drams of 2011 part 1

Caperdonich 1972 Hart Brothers 30yo 50.1%

The nose is warm, meaty and a bit confined.

The palate is rough, bitter, musty and dusty, without any sweetness. Not an atypical Caperdonich thou. 

The finish is long with a nice bitter-vanilla

Rating 84

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A couple of very different whiskeys from Kentucky

1. Rittenhouse Rye 25yo 50%
Barrel no. 6

Rittenhouse is a label by Heaven Hill. The old Heaven Hill distillery burned down in the 90's and a few years later Heaven Hill acquired the modern Bernheim Plant from Diageo (who had closed a range of distilleries in the 90's and moved all their production here, before moving away from the production side of american whiskeys). This rye is most likely distilled at the old Heaven Hill distillery. 

I think that rye whiskey can age a lot easier than bourbon. It seems the spirit is a lot more robust for wood influence. It could be the fact that the rye spirit itself is a lot more flavourful than corn spirit?. This barrel no. 6 Rittenhouse 25yo has retained a surprising amount of the rye flavour after so many years in the barrel. The nose is very similar to a much younger rye, without the spirit burn. I usually find older ryes more woody, but not as woody as older bourbons. The nose puts me into a scenery of walking through a forest of fresh pine woods in the summer. Very aromatic and spicy, and you just want to get your nose as close as possible to the spirit to inhale these nice aromas. Opposied to scottish single malts, I don't really mind that bourbons and ryes are watered down. They are far more intense and flavourful. This is well represented at 50% and will still be too intense for some, if not most. The palate has got the same rye spices, with a lot of delicate toffee-caramel flavours and the wood is coming in the finish. Seems more intensive than the other Rittenhouse 25yo's I tried. A very delicious dram, and it benefits a lot from a few drops of water - and I don't add water to whisky very often

Rating 86

2. Kirkland 7yo Straight Bourbon 51.5%
Batch B-5183

Corn Juice. Sweet and woody. Nothing spectacular, it can be drunk neat, with ice or in a cocktail. At 20$ish a liter this is quite a good deal. A lot of dominant flavours, wood, toffee and slightly bitter on the finish. Lasting impression is a lot of toffee and very drinkable- For a lower priced bourbon that easy matches and beats a lot of the more known brands

Rating 80

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Danish Whisky Blog awards 2011

2012 are getting closer. It's time to look back on one of the best whisky years for me personally. I happened to revisit about everything I did in 2010: A couple of US trips with some superb dramming included, Spirit of Speyside, Limburg, Glasgow Whiskyfestival, Juul's at the Beer and Jazz Festival here in Aarhus and a number of fantastic private get togethers.

I also managed to visit Islay and Jura, Campbelltown and a trio of very interesting american distilleries, Las Vegas, Charbay and High West

The best way to drink whisky, is to drink it with friends.In the post before this I pointed out the numerous gatherings we have had this year, which had a fantastic range of bottlings

If I have to mention one specific it must be my co-writer, Lars, who invited all his whiskyfriend over and shared his Coleburns bottles. 14 different bottlings, from an old 1968 12yo dumpy Cadenhead to a 36yo 1970 Signatory. I was surprised of the quality of this sadly closed and very forgotten distillery..

Distillery of the Year


Lagavulin from the seaside

Lagavulin's have a standard range well chosen. Very well chosen in my opinion. They have a 16yo OB and the PX finished Distillery's Edition. Beside that they have a 12yo cask strength, a distillery only bottling, the occasional 25yo/30yo bottling and a few smaller releases now and again. The 12yo Cask Strength is a personal favourite of mine. Nothing unnecessary, but a well varied selection. But the main reason for choosing  Lagavulin is the experience you have (or can have) when coming there as a visitor.

Iain "Pinkie" MacArthur

Scotland attracts a lot of whiskytourists and most distilleries do offer guided tours these days. Some distilleries even offer extended tours, verticals, manager tours or connaisseurs tour. Very often these tends to be very (too) expensive. One of the best, if not the best is the Lagavulin warehouse tour, which is reasonable priced. It's a wee vertical tasting of some cask samples lead by the very entertaining Iain "Pinkie" MacArthur. Just the experience itself and the whiskies, which you don't really have a chance to taste otherwise, makes you want to come back to Islay. I think other distilleries should follow this good example. I find this a lot more fun than those distilleris that offers extended tours with three whiskies from their standard range which you probably finished a few bottles of yourself allready at home. Give you visitors, who might have travelled from far away, something they will remember. Like Lagavulin does

I would have linked to Lagavulin's webpage but I don't like the unwelcoming and annoying agecheck they meet you with :-)

Independendt Bottler of the Year

The Whisky Exchange

Not just in 2011, but the last couple of years I have really adored a lot of wonderful bottlings from the different labels of The Whisky Exchange.

The Whisky Exchange has a series of ranges that I all find worth an award in themselves. Elements of Islay is a series of 50cl bottles, which now includes 8 of 9 Islay distilleries (I can't recall a Bowmore!). This is very high quality young Islay whiskies, bottled in batches, with older, but still No Age Statement (NAS) single cask Port Ellens as the more expensive variety. My favourites so far has been Pe2, Lg1 adn Ar2

Port Askaig is a range of Islays : the brand has so far released a NAS, 17, 19, 25 and 30 year olds. The whisky is probably Caol Ila, with the recent 30yo being  one of the best Islay releases I tasted from 2011 and the bottling that turned this award toward TWE!

The standard range of Single Malts of Scotland is also worth mentioning, the magnificient 35yo Glenallachie pictured above being one example. Other series, like the 10 years online anniversary bottlings (2010) and the Whisky Show Bottlings are always worth mentioning, and don't forget the few releases you also find under "The Whisky Exchange" label itself. I just wish I tasted them all :-)

Whisky Bottling of the Year

Port Charlotte 9yo

I had a lot of good whisky in 2011, it may have been the best year for me. Quite a lot of the stuff I am so privileged to taste are older bottlings - and I want to thank all my good whisky friends - you know who you are! - who have shared their good whisky with me and their other friends

For this award, I want to focus on my favourite 2011 releases.

And the price goes to a private bottling from a cask bottled by Jørn, a very good whisky friend of mine, who simply seems to have a very lucky hand with the cask projects he gets involved in. (or skilled?)

It's a fantastic Port Charlotte, very sherried and very peaty, harmonic and powerful, sweet and peaty, and by far the best Port Charlotte I have tasted.

I had a short review of this bottling in July :

Tasting of the year

Jolly Toper's Ben Nevis tasting

Hosted by Mark Davidson from the Cadenhead Shop in Edinburgh. Well, Ben Nevis has never been my favourite distillery, and I have to admit, I didn't like a couple of the Ben Nevis's served at this tasting, but the fact that Mark choses to share a true rarity like the Ben Nevis single grain (and a dumpy Cadenhead from the 60's) at his tasting (it is very reasonable priced) just makes me wants to move to Edinburgh so I can participate in more things like this

So much "exciting" whisky sits on the shelf of collectors, but I do believe that whisky has to be shared. I am very grateful I got the chance to taste this bottling. The fact that Mark decided to share this bottle at one of his tastings is fantastic, and the fact that it could have been sold for a considerable amount instead is worth celebrating. Mark reckon's that only two casks of Ben Nevis Single Grain has ever been knowingly bottled. And by the way, the grain was very good!.

Here's a link to his tastings : - if you are a regular you will be dragged around Scotland and the world for a great variation of whiskies, and often whisky that is very hard to get by, or you never heard of before, is included :-)

I wish everybody reading this a fantastic 2012 dramming year


PS Last year's awards can be found here:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Caperdonich 72

There's quite a few similar minded whisky friends around where I live. We often meet up for a dramming party, and everybody brings a couple of bottles and what else they want to present. Often with a theme. At other times someone invites guests over for a themed tasting and present what they have gathered. We done Port Ellen, Islay, Old Whisky, non-scottish, Brora, Glenlivet, Lossieside, Ardbeg, Coleburn, Edradour, Amrut, several Caperdonichs, Glenburgie and many others

Some artifacts I smuggled from my travels. Piece of Caperdonich in front

Most recent event was yet another Caperdonich day and here is what we managed to gather :

Caperdonich 1968-69
Duncan Taylor Rarest of the Rare 41yr 40,3% 10.69/2.11 cask 3250 
Connoisseurs Choice 40yr 46% 1969/2009 
Murray McDavid Mission 37yr 46,2% 1969 sherry/madeirafinish btl. 188/500 
Connoisseurs Choice 36yr 46% 3.68/8.04 refill sherry casks 

Caperdonich 1996-98
Signatory 12yr 43% 16.5.96/13.8.08 Hogshead Cask 82229, btl. 48/371 
Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection 12yr 52,6% 96/03.09 317 btls. 
Single Malts of Scotland 10yr 58,5% 4.5.98/1.10.08 heavily peated 251 btls. 
Single Malts of Scotland 12yr 57% 4.5.98/27.5.10 cask 8712 heavily peated 242 btls. 

Caperdonich November 1972
Duncan Taylor Rarest of the Rare 38yr 53,6%, 11.72/2.11 cask 7460, btl. 9/160 
Duncan Taylor Rare Auld 37yr 56,50% 11.72/3.10 cask 7414 147 btls. 
Duncan Taylor Rare Auld 36yr 51,2% 11.72/9.09 CS SC btl. 96/283 
Duncan Taylor Rare Auld 34yr 55,6% 11.72/04.07 btl. 25/198 

Caperdonich 1972-80
Gordon & MacPhail Reserve 36y 57.0% 14.3.72/26.8.08 cask 1975 1st fill sherry butt 430 btls. 
Old Malt Cask 34yr 41,5% 12.73/5.08 cask DL4296 
Chieftain’s 28yr 46% 01.74/02.02 cask 389/391 hogshead 636 btls. 
Cadenhead's Chairman's Stock 27yr 56,8% 1980/6.08 hogshead 264 btls. 

After Dinner drinks :

North of Scotland Dream Drams grain 37yr 38,3% 2 casks 128 btls. 
North British Duncan Taylor 30yr 54,7% 08.78 – 04.09 Cask Q247 btl. 19/122 
Springbank 21yr 46% bottled 1998 sherrycasks
Convalmore 1975 Enjoy Whisky (Germany) 46,9% 15.10.75/14.11.06 cask 2570 268 btls. 
Tullibardine OB, 45,9% 1973/5.05 cask 2518 hogshead 239 fl. 
Banff DMWA/Falster 34yr 44,1% 1975/2009 Creative Whisky cask 09/06001 
Bunnahabhain DMWA/Falster 31yr 47,3% 1976/2008
Royal Lochnagar Norse Cask 29yr 50,4% Jan 1977/okt 2006 refill hogshead 140 btls. 
Royal Lochnagar Old and Rare Platinum 34yr 57,2% 1971/2005 474 btls.
Port Ellen Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask 25yr 50% 12.79/07.05 sherry finish 425 btls.

Here's what I contributed :

1. Caperdonich 1972 34yo Duncan Taylor 55.6% cask 7435
34yo distilled November 1972, bottled April 2007

yet another DT Caperdonich 72

The nose is very fresh with a hint of citrus. You immediately know you are nosing old delicate whisky from an ex-bourbon cask

Palate is an unexpected explosion of flavours not expected from the delicate nose. Typical dry musty Caperdonich flavour, with a spicy-woody touch, tiny hint of licorice and some toffee

Finish : Medium

A very typical Caperdonich. Reminds me of Amrut

Rating 88

2. Caperdonich 1972 Gordon and MacPhail cask 1975 57.0%
Distilled 14/3 1972, bottled 26/8 2008. 1st Fill Sherry Butt

A sherried Caperdonich

Wow. A powersherried Caperdonich!!. But the distillery character can't be disguised by the sherry which gives this whisky a really nice and unusual balance of the malt and the sherry. Again a "typical" Caperdonich with the odd musty-spicyness. 

Its not very sweet, but got plenty of notes of dried fruits. Prunes, licorise and Caperdonich

Finish : long and very fruity

Rating 90

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My first blog - Douglas Laing

Hi everyone.
My name is Thomas, and I have been invited to put out some of my thoughts about whisky. I have never written any blog, or about whisky before, so I am really looking foreward to try this.

My interest in whisky started about 15 years ago where I was introduced to single malt. I guess I did what everybody else did in the beginning, which basically was to buy any single malt I could find in supermarkets, and on every vacation I went on. I can remember buying a bottle of Port Ellen in Paris some fourteen years ago, did'nt know what it was, and I did absolutely not like it at all :-)

After having tried a substantial amount of distillery bottlings, mostly 10 to 15 years old, something happened that changed my perspective on whisky. My friend Steffen, yup - he who has started this blog - invited me on a trip to Scotland. That was in spring 2005. I was so exited, and the first distillery I visited was Isle of Arran. After that there was no way back. I lost my heart in Scotland.

In the years after I have visited Scotland many times, and I still keep coming back. To me that place is heaven. It is not all about whisky, but the friendlyness of the scottish people, and not to mention the scenaries...

So - what is it with me, the whisky and Scotland in particular? Well, this may sound weird to some, and perfectly normal to others, but an Ardbeg is not "just" an Ardbeg to me. When I pour my dram and takes in that first sniff - I am standing at the distillery. My mind is wandering, and I can visualize the bay, the trees in the wind, and the whole atmosphere on that distillery. To me single malt is taking all the essence of that particular place, and putting it in to the glass in front of me.

Anyway, enough about me for now. Tonight I have chosen to write about two whiskies, both bottled by Douglas Laing. One of them is an Old Malt Cask, and the other is from their Platinum Series called Old & Rare.

This gives me a chance to tell a small story that took place during a Douglas Laing tasting earlier this year. It seems that OMC is bottled at 50.0% because the people at DL finds this the "optimum drinking strength"? One of the last expressions we tasted came from their Platinum series, and here we were told that "since these were their best casks, they were bottled at cask strength"?? I tried - quietly - to ask the natural question: "If these are the best casks, why were they not bottled at 50.0%"? Of course the big crowd sitting at a table from wemyss, duncan taylor, cadenheads and so on, started to go: "uuuhhhh", and it became so noisy, so it was hard to hear the answer :-D

I should say that I always enjoy the DL tastings, our host there is a great guy, and I do like many of the OMC, despite the fact that I do prefer cask strength whiskies.

Tasting notes:

1. Glen Grant, 32 years old, Butt DL ref 5034, distilled 12/1976, bottled 3/2009, 50.0%

Nose: Burnt sugar, a distinct "warehouse smell", a bit of wood and ginger
And then there is a certain scent, maybe it is iron? but I always finds it in Caperdonich, but maybe it is just my imagination.

Palate: Slightly woody, lots of christmas cake, raisins, spicy

Finish: Medium long, prickling on the tounge. If you like big sherried whiskies, you are going to love this one.

Rating: 87

2. Royal Lochnagar 33 years old, distilled 1973, bottled 2006, 57,2%

Nose: Cinnamon, citrus, a little peatfire in the background

Palate: Oily, vanilla and honey, more of the cinnnamon and peatfire, big fat chewy whisky

Finish: Medium long, with some pepper and a little peat.
It occures to me that it could have been my tasting notes for an older Talisker, and it is not far from that! In a blind tasting I would definately have guessed Talisker.

Rating 87