Thursday, November 13, 2008


Tickets have gone on sale and a website has launched for an inaugural whisky culture event that is welcoming the world home to the west coast of Scotland next May. Celebrity chef Nick Nairn, Scottish band Ceilidh Minogue, Food from Argyll, along with all 16 distilleries on the west coast, are already confirmed for Spirit of the West. The event will showcase Scotland’s west coast culture and is set to be the flagship Homecoming Scotland 2009 event for the region.

6000 people are expected at the event on Saturday 16th & Sunday 17th May at Inveraray Castle, which is held during Homecoming Scotland 2009’s Whisky Month. The audience will be packed with culture vultures, whisky lovers, foodies, family tree explorers, tartan fashion followers and Scottish music fans – or those who simply love Scotland.

The Whisky Coast, the team behind Spirit of the West, have planned to entertain the masses with six themed marquees for the event including Whisky, Hospitality, Food & Drink, Music & Fashion, History & Heritage & a Crafts Village. Open air activities including golf and Walking Theatre historical trails are also lined up for the big weekend.

A grand Whisky Coast Ceilidh, from 7pm till midnight on the Saturday night, will celebrate the Spirit of the West with a Rabbie Burns Supper, charity auction, after dinner music from Ceilidh Minogue and, of course, lots of traditional ceilidh dancing! Additional ceilidh tickets cost £65 per person, for over 18s only, with a percentage of the proceeds going to a chosen charity.

The star attraction, The Whisky Coast Marquee, is hosting the over 18s Whisky Theatre where 10 whisky masterclasses with key industry figures and nosings & tastings of peaty and smoky golds will take place. The marquee will include 16 world famous whisky distillers, from Arran in the south all the way up to Talisker on the Isle of Skye. On the other side of the marquee, The Dram Room will be open to all ages, with competitions, quizzes, storytelling, demonstrations and an oyster bar.

A diverse selection of art, fashion and music, in association with The Lochgoilhead Fiddle Workshop, Geoffrey Tailor Kiltmakers and The Walking Theatre Company, will be staged in the Spirit of Dram(a) marquee. Traditional and contemporary Scottish bands, both local and national and highland dancers will perform for the crowds while models in tartan attire, currently a major fashion trend, will take to the catwalk to represent west coast clan tartans.

Joined by celebrity Nick Nairn on Sunday 17th May, The Taste of the West marquee plans to cook up a treat, bringing food & drink from up and down the west coast of Scotland to mouth watering pallets. Meats, seafood, confectionery, bakery, wines and beers from high quality, local & fresh suppliers will be available over the weekend.

Spirit of the West tickets are now available to buy via or Standard adult ticket prices are £14 per day or £22 for the weekend. Senior Citizens & Concessions: £12 per day, £20 for weekend Whisky masterclasses cost an extra £10 per class. Ceilidh tickets cost £65 per person. Both must be booked in advance.

For more information on ticket prices and regular event announcements, please visit the event’s brand new website

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Biggest whisky collection comes home

Susan Morrison, general manager of the Scotch Whisky Experience, and Claive Vidiz celebrate the arrival of the collection

The world’s largest collection of whiskies arrived safely in Scotland this week, brought home from Brazil by leading whisky manufacturer, Diageo.

Featuring 3384 bottles, the record-breaking collection was built up over 35 years by Brazilian whisky enthusiast, Claive Vidiz, who has scoured the world for whiskies to create the magnificent collection.

A unique treasure trove charged with memories, the bottles are currently being stored in a high security location in Scotland, after being shipped 6,500 miles from Sao Paulo on board container ship, the Monte Rosa.

A specially designed vault is being created at the Scotch Whisky Experience to display the Diageo Claive Vidiz Scotch Whisky Collection. The vault is part of a £2million investment at the five-star tourist attraction on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.

While the details of the terms of its sale to Diageo will remain under wraps, the unique collection is described by whisky experts as “invaluable” and ranges from the most popular whiskies to some of the rarest.

“To split up a collection which I have devoted more than 35 years of my life to would have broken my heart so I am truly thrilled Diageo has purchased it in its entirety. It is now in the hands of a company which is at the heart of the Scotch industry and I am certain they will cherish and develop the collection,” said Mr Vidiz.

“It is also wonderful to see it safely back in Scotland. We have an expression in Brazil - ‘the good son returns home’ - and in my view the collection is back with its family now,” he added.

Among the many rare bottles is a Strathmill single malt produced to celebrate the Speyside distillery’s 100th anniversary. One of only 100 bottles ever produced, this limited edition centenary malt was offered to a very select few – including various heads of state and, fortunately for the collection, Claive Vidiz!

A personal favourite of Mr Vidiz is Dimple Pinch, one of the first special editions of a Scotch Whisky ever produced. Bought in 1969 for US $1000, it was the most expensive limited edition bottle of Scotch Whisky on the market at the time.

Shipping the fragile cargo across the Atlantic took months of preparation, and each bottle was individually packaged by fine art specialists.

“We are delighted to have worked with Claive to bring this wonderful collection safely back to Scotland and to play a part in preserving its legacy and historic significance,” said Bryan Donaghey, Managing Director of Diageo Scotland.

“We are loaning the collection to the Scotch Whisky Experience where annually 200,000 visitors will be able to view the collection in its atmospheric vault.”

VisitScotland's Chief Executive, Philip Riddle said: "The return of such an important and interesting collection of Scotch Whisky to Scotland is fantastic news, particularly as we look forward to Homecoming Scotland 2009.

“The year long programme of events will give us all a chance to celebrate some of our greatest contributions to the world, including whisky. This collection is sure to be a great draw for visitors and locals alike, who will be able to enjoy viewing it at one of our premier five star visitor attractions."

The Scotch Whisky Experience team are delighted Diageo has chosen to display the collection at the centre where it will be a major highlight of the new-look tour. Visitors to the Experience will have the opportunity to view this unique and intriguing collection up close, 364 days of the year, from spring 2009.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Auchentoshan Night That Never Was

The venue: Bon Accord. The host: Andrew Torrance of Morrison Bowmore, distiller of Auchentoshan and Bowmore. The red face: your humble chairman who told everyone it was an Auchentoshan tasting only to face half a dozen bottles of Bowmore. The result: A great night with superb whiskies, a real find in the Bon Accord and a promise of a return trip to sample the 'toshans.
Our tasting got off to a great start with a warm welcome from mine host Paul McDonagh, who laid on sandwiches and provided fast, friendly service. He seemed genuinely pleased to see club members and has asked us back for further tastings. He runs a monthly malts tasting with a meal and is more than happy if club members want to sign up. Contact him on
Back to the Bowmore, and after the initial confusion, club members settled into an evening of some really fine drams. First up was the beginning of the core range, the Bowmore 12. Its warm amber colour held the promise of what was to come - subtle lemon and honey with the distinctive Bowmore smokiness. On the palate we found dark chocolate and peat smoke.
Next up was the 15, a magnificent dram with a smoother outline from the 12, but still with that unmistakable smokey chocolate and raisin. Treacle toffee on the palate with cedar wood.
Third in line was, for this correspondent, a simply superb whisky - the 18 with its deep mahogany colour and a creamy smooth caramel nose.
The new kid on the block is the single cask,. At eight years old this is a fresh, invigorating dram with a fizz on the tongue. Perhaps it might have been better sampling this before the 18, which was still dominating when I got to the single cask. I'd certainly like to revisit it.
Last dram, of the schedule (a second bottle of 18 was generously donated by Andrew for the tables to enjoy at our leisure) was the fabled Black Bowmore of 1964
Sukinder Singh of the Whisky Exchange described it like this: Black Bowmore 1964 / 42 Year old / Sherry Cask / Single Islay Malt Scotch Whisky
"Well, here it is - just over twelve years after the previous release, a legend is reborn: Black Bowmore is back! Selected from the same batch of Oloroso casks as the previous bottlings, this is a must-have for wealthy Islayphiles."
And John Hansell, Malt Advocate described it in his tasting notes this way: "...this is one of the most fascinating whiskies I have ever tasted! It’s better than the original Black Bowmore trio.
...What I think impresses me most is how the whisky evolves. On the nose and palate, this is a thick, viscous, whisky, with notes of sticky toffee, earthy oak, fig cake, roasted nuts, fallen fruit, pancake batter, black cherry, ripe peach, dark chocolate covered espresso bean, polished leather, tobacco, a hint of wild game and lingering, leafy damp kiln smoke. Flavors continue on the palate long after swallowing. This is what we all hope for (and dream of) in an older whisky!
"I have now tasted this whisky twice: last night before dinner with Iain McCallum, Bowmore’s whisky “nose”, and this morning, in my hotel room before posting this. My opinion is the same. My rating for this whisky, which will be published in the next issue of Malt Advocate magazine, is: 97. (That’s the highest rating I have ever given a whisky.)
He was right to rave about it. I snaffled the (sadly empty) bottle and took it home. The following morning I nosed it deeply and was astonished the power an empty bottle can have.
At the end of the evening there was a further pleasant surprise. The Bowmore nosing glasses we'd been using were donated to the club by Andrew. A very generous gesture indeed, although Mrs Chairman wasn't too keen about the prospect of washing them all!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Herald Whisky Supplement August 2008

The club's co-operation with the Herald continues this month with a selection of six drams which were tasted blind.
We're obliged to members of the tasting panel for their notes, which were effortlessly turned into prose by Andy Clark.

Littlemill 1990 Scotch Malt Whisky Society bottling - cask no. 97.11 @ 56%

From a lost distillery on the Clyde comes a dram fit for the new world.
It’s like New England in the fall … heavy with freshly cut oak and bourbon-vanilla. There’s grass and fresh herbs growing beneath your feet, and a hint of salt from the far-off ocean blowing on the wind.
As you explore you’ll be met with the tang of citrus and apple peel and the richness of butter and fudge.
There’s even a touch of coconut and passion fruit to show that this old master from times gone by is still very much alive.
Who said history was boring?

Mammochmore 1992 SMWS bottling 64.15 @ 57/1%

Want the recipe for something special from Speyside? Well, go get a pencil and pay attention.
Take fruit … lots of it … and throw it into a large glass. Add a handful of nuts and rolled oats, some honey and a touch of spice.
Next, toffee (fudge if you’d prefer) and maple syrup.
Now pour in fresh rain water and stir the whole thing up with a stick of charcoal.
And what do you get?
Rich, dark cake with marzipan fresh from the oven, covered in a generous dusting of sherbet.
Fruity. Fizzy. Tasty.
Definitely for sharing with friends … that’s if it makes it out of the kitchen!

Dalwhinnie double matured. Diageo. Bottled 1990 @ 43%

When it comes to quality, why make life complicated?
From the maker of one of finest 15-year-olds on the planet comes a malt that is simple, and special - an elegant, fur-coated lady of a dram.
There are no airs or graces … she’s soft and approachable, even though she’s seriously rich and a bit fruity.
You can even smell the sherry on her breath.
She’s quite a catch … and if you take her home and put your feet up, you’re sure to have the time of your life.
It’s as simple as that.

Cragganmore 14 Distillers Edition. Diageo. Bottled 1993 @ 40%

Fancy a day out just like the good old days?
A picnic, perhaps … sitting among the long grass at the back of the dunes?
We could have sweets, dried fruit, and coffee and walnut cake covered in treacle.
And for drinks, how about a flask of milky coffee and some nice expensive brandy?
We could even stop on the way home for rum and raisin ice cream, just to round things off.
So let’s pack the car, jump aboard and explore. We’re sure to have an adventure we’ll never forget.

Talisker Double Matured. Diageo. Bottled 1993 @45.8%

Skye. It’s a seriously daunting prospect.
Much like its famous Cuillin Ridge, it’s rugged, at times inhospitable and just a little bit scary. Definitely not a place for the faint-hearted.
But what if someone gave the less committed among us a helping hand, just to ease the way?
That’s what’s so special about Talisker Double Matured.
It’s still serious, it’s still a major challenge, just like the usual Talisker.
But now there’s a bus to the start of the climb.
You’ll get a leg-up just at the point you’re losing your nerve.
The true spirit of Skye, but with a dab of antiseptic cream to protect your knees from the roughness of the rock.
A trip to treasure, and no mistake … surely that’s not a ladder up the Inaccessible Pinnacle?

Black Grouse. No Age Statement. 40%

Ever thought of abandoning the path of righteousness and turning to the dark side?
Well, here’s the perfect excuse.
Black Grouse - which has just been awarded a Gold medal at this year’s International Spirits Challenge (ISC) - is so nice it’s naughty.
Initially it’s quite overpowering … a high spirit burn.
But give it time and it reminds you of hot sun on a lawnmower … oily, warm and comforting.
It’s fruity and sweet with malt, oak and sherry.
Perfect on its own, great with ice. Exciting as a base for a cocktail.
This is a drink that will definitely bring out the devil in you.
A true piece of Black magic.

Many thanks to those who supplied the samples.

Monday, August 11, 2008


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A capital weekend in the capital for a handful of club members. Whisky Fringe was a 500 a day sell out and has become a much better bet than Whisky Live, in your scrivener's humble opinion. The exhibitors are top class, and the £10 voucher for use in the Royal Mile Whiskies shop made it a complete bargain. I was there on Sunday and met Maggie (on her own - husband Ken having decided - bizarrely - that motor bikes are more interesting than drams) Bobby, Laura, Erik, Mark, Ralf and we had a blether and a dram, as you do. The interesting thing from my point of view was the number of exhibitors who recognised us, knew us from tastings and were quick to offer interesting samples from below the radar.We also met some new folk, including Ian Logan, The Glenlivet International Brand Ambassador, who works with Alex Robertson. His 21 year old called Eclipse, err ... eclipsed everything I tasted on the day. Ralf thought differently, as befits a Chanty Rassler. His selection, along with mine and Mr Banford's, are below. If you've got a top five from the Fringe, let me know at the whiskyclub address.

Ralf's Chosen Few:

5 - Aberlour a'bunadh (Batch 23) 90 points
4 - Springbank '97 (Batch 2) 90 points
3 - Compass Box Hedonism Maximus 92 points
2 - Adelphi Mortlach 1990 16 y.o 92 points
1 - Signatory cask North British 45 y.o. 94 points

Toshie's Tops:

1. Glenlivet 21 51.9% single cask "Eclipse"
2. Adelphi 1990 Mortlach
3. Compass Box Hedonism Maximus
4. Glenkinchie 20
5 Glenfarclas Family Cask

Bobby's Choice:
1st:- Dewar Rattray - 1989 Linkwood - beautiful sherry/floral a cracking Speysider. Who needs peat when whisky tastes like this?
2nd:- Adelphi - 1990 Mortlach - fantastic dark chocolate / Xmas cake lingering taste
3rd:- Signatory - 1977 Inverleven - soft/dry/spicey fantastic
4th:- Tomintoul 27 yr old - smooth as silk and only £55.00 bargain!
5th:- Dewar Rattery:- 1991 Mortlach - as Adelphi but slightly softer.

BIGGEST disapointment :- Glenmorangie Astar, after all the hype far to sweet for me.
'Fur coat and no knickers' as they say

Friday, July 11, 2008


TWO SUPERMARKETS' own label single malts have beaten several branded whiskies to take an international title.

Tesco's 12-year-old Highland Single Malt, which sells for £15.58, beat names such as Laphroaig, Glenmorangie and Glenkinchie at the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) awards.

The Tesco win came in the Anglo Overseas Trophy for the best single malt whisky up to 15 years old in the blind tasting. Sainsbury's also won a Gold (best in class) for its own-label 10-year-old Islay Malt.

The competition is run each year and all wines, spirits and liqueurs that are entered are tasted in groups.

Tesco senior buyer Simon Dunn said: "This award will come as a real shock to the centuries-old whisky industry which is not noted for its keen appreciation of supermarket varieties. To beat world renowned whiskies such as Laphroaig and Glenmorangie is some achievement and will hopefully help encourage all malt lovers to try it. " Judges at the IWSC rated the Tesco whisky for its "very attractive nose, ripe fruit notes and vanilla and sweet spice following".

Detailed analysis is carried out by the IWSC on all award- winning drinks to ensure they have the same high quality when they reach the consumer as when judging panels originally tasted them.

A spokesman for IWSC added: "Leading Scottish whiskies including Talisker, Highland Park, Lagavulin, Bunnahabhain, Laphroaig and the Glenlivet all performed well, picking up gold medals across their ranges "
Originally published by Newsquest Media Group.

(c) 2008 Herald, The; Glasgow (UK). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

Perhaps it's time the club had a blind tasting of supermarket drams?

Monday, June 30, 2008


A huge thanks to everyone who came to the Duncan Taylor night at Oran Mor. It was one of our best tasting of 2007 and this new one looks like giving the others as good a run for their money in 2008. Again Jacque Sutherland was our hostess, but as she’s moving to an international role, she brought along the man who will do future tests, Iain Fraser. As at the last tasting, the drams were old, rare, a combination of both, or surprisingly young. All were magnificent and Andy Bell is compiling a top of the pops to see which one emerges victorious. The runners and riders were a Battlehill Miltonduff, a sprightly eight year old for a very affordable £22. Next up was the Glen Moray 1991 at £34, followed by the 91 Glen Elgin. To bring a bit of balance a 1973 Strathclyde single grain was next – an interesting experience. The Lonach Caperdonich from 1970 was the penultimate dram and, at £84, was as good as it should be. For many the star of the night was the last dram, the 1981 Glenesk, a mere £99 for what the club’s official chanty rassler memorably described as ‘a hoor of a dram’! Not many would argue. Even at 56.9 this venerable beast was smooth and silk and well worth a second dram. A word of thanks to Oran Mor who gave us the Private Dining Room for free after a bookings mix up on our Glenfarclas night.

The New Auchentoshans

To 29 at the beginning of June for the launch of the new Auchentoshan range. Accompanied by Andy Clark, we ran into Big Willie, who’d been at the Ayr whisky bash, lives in Edinburgh, but is keen to join the club. When we arrived all the new drams had been poured, which I’m not sure is that GOOD an idea. In fact the three of us thought the whiskies had lost all power and would not do themselves justice among a discerning bunch of drammers. I think the organisers took the point, because fresh pours released all that’s good about Auchentoshan. The range now starts with the Classic, triple distilled as are all ‘toshies and matured only in American bourbon casks, it was subtle with vanilla and coconut on the nose. Up to the 12, with toasted almonds and caramelised toffee – a much better dram than I was expecting. The Three Wood is full of colour, as you would expect from a whisky finished in Spanish Oloroso and Pedro Ximinez sherry casks. It was rich and fruity with thick butterscotch and roasted hazelnuts (it says here, and who am I to argue?) The new kid on the block was the 18 that Glasgow’s Whisky Club members were privileged to taste last year on our tour of the distillery. It was as I remembered it then – a very decent dram, again matured in bourbon oak, and with notes of ripe citrus and toasted almonds. The tastemaster found green tea, but that eluded me. Top of the tree in age terms was the 21 “ripe with gooseberries, sweet creamy vanilla, a hint of oak and warm honey.” Yeah, all that and more. Club members will get a chance to taste them all on August 14 when we hold a tasting at the Bon Accord. Names to Andy Bell please, at the hotmail address.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Well what a day we had. Well over a dozen souls had an away day at Robbie's Drams' Whisky Festival held at Ayr Town Hall. It was good to see so many club members there. It was also a good opportunity to float around the stalls, not only sampling drams, but also setting up tastings. We've got Duncan Taylor in June and hopefully a Murray McDavid at the end of this month. That's still to be confirmed so I'll let you know. If that comes off it will take the place of the usual club night in the Cask and Still. It will also be a full-on tasting as David Kier wants our feedback on some new stuff.
I was going through my notes to see what I'd sampled on Saturday ... and it appears I had 10!!!
In no particular order: The new Ardbeg Renaissance; Auchentoshan 18 that we'd sampled last year on our visit; Caol Ila 1995; Clynelish 1991; Glenkinchie amontillado; Talisker 25 (all from Diageo's very generous stall thanks to James!) Glenfarclas 1994 Family Cask; Longrow CV; Old Malt Cask Mortlach 15 and the Tullibardine 1988. If memory serves me right, they were all good, with the Talisker 25, Mortlach , Tullibardine and Glenfarclas among the top. Actually the only one I DIDN'T enjoy was the Auchentoshan after water had been added. It was much better straight, in my opinion.
But a good day nontheless and we all had a bundle of laughs.