Friday, November 27, 2009

A Touch of the DTs Around the Barrel

The last club night of the year, and the end of five years of Glasgow’s Whisky Club. We’ve come a long way since Alex Robertson and a few friends had an Isle of Jura tasting in the mezzanine floor of the Pot Still. Membership has grown, as has our experience of some very fine single malt, single grain and blended whiskies.
Tuesday night round the barrel was no exception and the DTs – in the shape of Jacq Sutherland and her Duncan Taylor offering, allowed the club to go out on a high note, and facing our sixth year with some confidence.
Again, we used club funds to purchase some extremely fine drams and club secretary Andrew Bell worked hard on the selection. On this occasion we sampled the 70th Anniversary Malt, to celebrate … err 75 years of Duncan Taylor. A mixture of 41-year-old Glenfarclas and a similarly aged Highland Park, ours was bottle number 327 from 375. It came in at 46.3% and was considered dram of the evening by a few members.
We also tasted the quite magnificent Black Bull 12 year old at 50%. At £32.50 or thereabouts, it’s a stunning dram at the price and a definite stocking filler for Chez Toshie.
A sublime 39-year-old Caperdonich cask at 46.8% caught the taste buds and vied for dram of the night with another 39 year old, a Glenlivet cask at 48.6%. Quite hard to separate these two. Caperdonich is a personal favourite but the Glenlivet was something special. A peated Bunnahabhain 12-year-old from the NC2 range was the final offering. Clear as new make spirit, my nose was telling me baby sick (!), my taste buds were swamped by a fabulous flavour.
Our favourite DT person had driven the goodies down from Huntly because of some ordering mix-up, so many thanks to Jacq for the sacrifice – and the even greater sacrifice of not drinking her wares since she had to drive back home again.
We welcomed a couple of new faces who are trying us out before deciding on membership next year. They seemed to enjoy themselves, so perhaps we'll meet Martin and Gordon again.
Ken Seaton and Maggie are over from France during the festive season, so we’ll try to arrange a wee club get together. There are other developments likely to be on the agenda for next year, so watch this space.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Stirk Crazy After All This Time

Some whisky evenings have a heavy weight of anticipation upon them, and almost invite disappointment, others explode into action from the first sip of a superb single malt whisky. The eagerly-awaited night with David Stirk exceeded all expectations.
Eight magnificent drams from David’s Exclusive Range were tasted in the Private Dining Room at Sloan’s new whisky bar in the heart of the city. David’s frankness and honesty about all aspects of the whisky business were refreshing and he told us the two golden rules about whisky:’ Do you like it?’ And ‘Will you buy it?’ There were plenty of yesses to the first question and quite a few affirmatives to the second, when David produced supplies of his stock for sale afterwards.
The tasting took place as Sloan’s launched themselves as a whisky bar, and it’s fair to say there are a few edges to iron out, although their hearts are in the right place.

After a quick talk by your humble chairman to invited guests of the bar – about nosing and tasting, using Black Bottle as the illustrator, it was down to business in the PDR. First up was an Aberfeldy 10, part of David’s attempt to break into the UK market. NCF and non coloured, it was distilled on June 7 1997, one of 419 bottles at a strength of 45% - David’s preferred ABV. Retailing at £27.99, it came from an American oak hogshead and was fresh with a lemony citrus note. Quite delicious.
There followed, in quick succession, a magnificent seven further whiskies, plus a handful of what David liked to call ‘jokes’.
A spicey and peppery Glen Ord was next, again from 1997. David praised Diageo (don’t hear that too often these days) for withdrawing Glen Ord from the UK market, giving him a chance to buy the stock. The maltiest of the drams, it spent three months finishing in a virgin European oak cask.
A Craigellachie 12 was next. It was winey and woody to me, but the Cragganmore 10 that followed it was quite magnificent IMHO. It spent six weeks finishing in a Gaja Barolo wine cask, which gave it a sweet toffee and vanilla taste. It was so good, I bought a bottle (along with the Aberfeldy which drew one of THOSE looks from Mrs Toshie). A rum-finished Glen Scotia was my least favourite of the evening, then came a 32 YO Glencadam, again finished for a short while in the Gaja Barolo cask. I would like to have tried it unfinished, but David assured me the wine was an improvement.
The penultimate dram was a big beefy Bowmore 14 and then the surpise dram of the evening which we all had a go at guessing. The answer was a Laphroaig 1996 in a Port wood finish.
It took us a long time to get David for a tasting – thanks to Alan Hall for finally transporting him to us – and hopefully we’ll be seeing him again in the new year.

Friday, October 16, 2009

No Ice, So Nobody Died

The man was in top form, a barrage of names, dates and stories, a scattergun of facts and figures, and the revelation that Yoko Ono now follows him on Twitter. Just another night in the inner sanctum of Richard Paterson. His blending room at Dalmore House in Glasgow was the scene for a celebration of his award-winning 30-year-old Whyte and Mackay, along with a tasting of his other W&Ms, from the standard blend to a sublime 40 year old.
Along the way we had chocolate digestives, hobnobs and dark, dark chocolates. Bobby B, Erik, Mark, the newly shorn Shawn and your humble chairman turned out for the celebration - Bobby and Toshie resplendant in the club's new polo shirts - along with a dozen or so bloggers, Twitterers, Facebookers and whisky fans from across Scotland. One chap even came from Elgin for the chance to meet Richard and drink his whiskies.
We started with a dram of the standard W&M aged between four and six years, then moved into the great man’s blending room. Every bottle in the glass cases on both sides of the room had a story to tell, and Richard wasn’t shy about telling them. We progressed to the 13, Richard’s favourite everyday dram, then the 19, which had more weight and an abundance of spice, marmalade, Christmas cake. It’s a definite winner, with 22 – 27 single malts in it. Next up was the 22, soft yet weighty with a lot of Old Pulteney and Clynelish in it, giving it a nice coastal feel. The award winner, the 30 was next, and it’s easy to see why this is such a great whisky, and testimony to the blender’s art. There’s a very high malt content and notes of Old English marmalade, cherries, orange peel, treacle and ginger. Simply sublime and perfect for an after dinner dram.
At this point it should be noted that Richard’s Facebook and Twitter guru, Craig McGill, was being more than generous in his pours, which helped the evening go smoothly and raised Mr P’s eyebrows when he saw the size of the measures the 30 came in – three bottles worth!
A slightly more … normal ... measure for the last dram of the night – the 40 year old. With 70% single malt content, this had nice woody notes, with floral and spicy Parma violets coming through along with liquorice and crushed almonds.
The thing that came shining through, apart from the quality of the whiskies, was the undoubted enthusiasm Richard has for the blender’s art. He’s well known for the theatrical nature of his presentation – ice and whisky thrown on the floor, the nosing, the mm-mm, mm-mm, mm-mm as he chews the dram, but the man is a worthy ambassador for Scotch across the world, and his blended whiskies deserve to be appreciated for the quality they undoubtedly are.

Friday, October 02, 2009


After many false starts, rows over apostrophes, and questions of style (satin, silk) size (super XL, or uber-fatty) the club is a step nearer to its own identity, in the shape of a rather fetching black polo shirt. Unveiled quietly at the Arran Bruichladdich night (the only thing done quietly that night – see below) it was given its first proper airing at the Round the Barrel Night at the Bon Accord in September’s meeting.
Modelled here by the unassuming, and almost painfully shy Treasurer, it's thanks to Bobby B, the man behind the design, the Armani of Ardbeg you might say. Full details of how to order, along with pricings, will be revealed shortly.
The night itself was based on the Manzanilla theme. Two beasts were brought to the barrel - a 1996 Springbank at 55.6% and a 16 year old Bunnahabain at 53.2%. Of the two, I preferred the Springbank. The Bunny left an odd taste in my mouth that only repeated washes with Duncan Taylor’s NC2 Glen Elgin could force away.
Also on the barrel were a DT Glen Moray – much under-rated distillery – an Adelphi Running Man, and assorted hand ins from club members, including a G&M 21 year old Highland Fusilier,The MacPhails Collection single Campbeltown 1990 from the Glen Scotia Distillery, and a surprise from our new rock and roll crew – an absolutely fabulous Aberlour A’bunadh Batch 12 from ‘a wee shop up the road’!
Despite the football dividing our attention, it was another great night and proof that we are at our best as a club when we just get together for a dram and a natter, as good friends should.

A + B = Night of Chaos

There are tasting nights which are calm, studious, serious … and then there’s the ones we have. Our last tasting at Oran Mor was no exception.
The A was Arran, the B was Bruichladdich, and H for Host was David Keir, club member of such generous spirit, he raided his own cupboard to bring along the goodies.
We were also joined by Nick Brown, who many of us will know from the various whisky forums (fora?) and who we usually meet at Whisky Fringe. A welcome, too, to new member Andrew (in top picture sitting in front of David)who came from deepest darkest Paisly to be with us. If he was a bit bemused at the end of the proceedings, he hid it well! Nick is pictured below with Andrew, the Chanty Wrastler and Dr Iain.

We began with an Arran 10, but a new vatting, which oozed sherry and was a far better dram than previous incarnations. That was followed by a Bruichladdich 16, originally from a bourbon cask, but finished in a Bordeaux First Growth. I’m no longer a fan of wine finishes (if I ever was one) and preferred the original bourbon finish which I tasted, loved and bought at the Spirit of the West festival. Arran Peacock was next. The surprise hit of Whisky Fringe where it was unveiled, this 13 year old came from a split of bourbon and sherry casks and was my favourite of the night.
David stressed his attendance was as a member of the whisky club and he was generous with the pours, as the rising decibel levels testified to.
He introduced a mystery malt with a prize for the one who gussed it was an old bottling of Sheep Dip, a vatting with 16 different malts.
The rest of the evening was given over the the ‘Laddies – an Infinity at 50%, 3rd edition’ a PC6 at 61.6% and a mighty PC8. The last pour of the evening was James McEwan’s rocket fuel, or X4+3 as it’s known on the tin.
I said earlier it was our last night at Oran Mor unless someone else is paying for it. At £200 a pop, it’s an expensive way to do business. There is an alternative in the city centre, which we’ll be exploring.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Glasgow’s whisky gets its own festival

Picture gallery, from top:
Jealousy abounds as Bobby B and Mark join with Douglas Laing's Jan Beckers to remonstrate with Toshie as he headed to the Archive Tasting. No mention of the fact he sneaked them half a dozen of the best ever drams to shut them up!
Heading TOWARDS the beer ten - the deadly duo.
Bobby. Andrew, Mark and Arran Distillers' Celine Tetu.
John D and pal sneak in a quicky at Bowmore.
Tam's wife Mrs Tam, batters out the bung to get at the Manager's Dram, a 19 year old bourbon. Shame she rammed it so far in it took a number of hardy men to get it out!

A bright and sunny day on Saturday for the inaugural Auchentoshan Whisky Festival, held at the corner of the field under the shadow of the Erskine Bridge. A good turnout of Glasgow’s Whisky Club members – even the treasurer popped along briefly before supervising the installation of his new 42” plasma telly. (I sometimes wonder where the club funds go 8-]])
The main thoroughfares were lined with stalls selling food, food, stuff and food. Great burgers, brilliant rolls’n’salmon, and a host of other goodies to keep the hunger at bay. There were things for the kids, bouncy castle, clown etc., stuff for non-whisky drinkers (chainsaw sculptures) and plenty of music. But the drams were the reason most of us were there – and they didn’t disappoint. Glen Garioch and Bowmore, as part of Morrison Bowmore Distillers’ portfolio, had tented stalls where drams were on offer. The 18 Bowmore was for a select few. Naturally GWC members were in the know. Surprise package was the new Glen Garioch, a NAS whisky at 48%. My initial impression wasn’t favourable, but on subsequent attempts, I got to like it!
There was also an exclusive first tasting of the new Auchentoshan Real Ale, brewed in house by Jeremy Stephens - Head Distiller for Auchentoshan.
Jeremy created two unique Real Ales for the festival ... Summer Gold, a light hoppy ale, is ideal for the warm weather and Triple Conditioned, a unique expression of Ale, is heavier with a fuller body.
While the likes of Andrew, Mark, Bobby B. John D and others had to content themselves with the, shall we say, more MUNDANE offerings from Auchie, your humble scrivener was smuggled into the back of a £100 a head archive tasting hosted by Auchentoshan distillery manager Iain McCallum. We kicked off with the Festival bottling, a five year old from a 100% bourbon cask. Fresh and fruity, it was an ideal introduction to the rest. At £70 or so a dram, the 32 year old Auchentoshan probably won’t be your daily dram, but you could dream! A bittersweet whisky, with a palate redolent of raisins. That was followed by the first-ever bottling of a 50-year-old Lowland – from cask 480 and sitting at 49.1%, this was an astonishing dram. Seriously special and not a hint of wood dominance, there were only 171 bottles prised from the cask. At £3500 a bottle, it’s a bargain.
Then a complete surprise – a 46-year-old Glen Garioch. Lip smacking vanilla and dry pineapple; this was a real eye opener. Smokey bacon and plums came to mind when sipping the 21-year-old Port finished Bowmore, then it was on to the stars of the show.
Laid down in 1964 in legendary vault no 1 on Islay, the Black Bowmore, matured in walnut sherry casks, came out at 40.1% (phew) and delivered an alcoholic Tropicana experience of mango, guavas, lychees. Simply stunning. But the White Bowmore laid down at the same time in bourbon casks, stole it for me. Apples, pink grapefruit, along with the traditional Bowmore signature. A brilliant session, and in the words of Glasgow’s Whisky Club’s traditional toast: Not the worst drams we’ve ever tasted!

No, NOT the one in Fife

A number of club members were invited to a select tasting of Glenrothes malts the night after Ralfy’s Rumba. In fact out of an audience of 18, 14 had the right to wear gwc T-shirts (if we ever get round to getting them).
Our charming host for the evening was Ronnie Cox, the urbane Ambassador of The Glenrothes, who regaled us with tales of tastings from near and afar.
We sampled some new make to a backdrop of a PowerPoint presentation, learned the still house is known as The Cathedral, and moved on to The Select Reserve, which lays out the distillery’s house style - juicy citrus, ripe fruits, creamy vanilla and hints of complex spice.
Next up was the ’94, soft, fruity, and again with that citrus bite, then the ’91 – a ‘conversation dram’ perfect for that post-prandial period. A rich and creamy 85 was next – a great pudding whisky. The last dram of the evening brought simultaneous cheers and boos - a 1966 vintage, which was (unusually) NOT claimed by the England World Cup winning team (I pale just at the typing of those words). The whisky was bottled in 2003 and the cask gave up 700-odd bottles. Retailing at around £1300, the single cask first fill sherry had a strong treacle nose and was woody yet lively with lots of ripe red fruits.

It was a pretty good tasting and one or two members admitted Glenrothes was a quiet favourite. We can all shout about it now.


Well, we were completely out of our comfort zone at Rabelaisian Ralfy’s rumbustious rum night… but it turned out to be a wonderful evening. The Chanty Rastler, resplendent in a brightly-coloured Hawaiian shirt, took us through a handful of rums from across the warmer parts of the globe.
Our first was a Havana Club Blanco from Cuba, a spicy rum reminiscent of Kola cubes and raisins. Next came an Angostura 1919 from Trinidad, followed by a Clement VSOP (Martinique) and a Mount Gay X'old from Barbados. The first two may have puzzled a few club members, but the latter pair were marvellous. And it got better. A Guyanan El Dorado 12yo was sublime, as was an Appleton Extra from Jamaica. A brace of rums courtesy of our pals at the BIG Partnership, who work for Edrington, was next on the tasting list, thanks to our esteemed treasurer, who‘d been asked by BIG to bring them along. The Brugal Ron Anejo and the Extra Viejo from the Dominican Republic were great drams (if you can have drams of rum). The evening ended with a mystery 1960’s cask rum (possible Jamaican Hampden donated by Gordon, and Ralfy’s famed Rumsky – a marriage of single malt and rum that Ralf’s been experimenting with. Mixed view on this one, but my taste buds were shot by then anyway. The top three of the evening were:
3rd - Mount Gay Extra Old 86/100
2nd - El Dorado 12yo 87/100
1st - Appleton Extra12 90/100

A second twist came when Peter of Inverarity One to One in Bath Street brought along a selection of fine cigars, explaining the difference between the products of the various countries that produce them. Those of us who thought Cuba was the only place to make cigars were soundly disabused of that notion!
A great night. An unusual night. And an accomplished host.

Monday, August 03, 2009

More Questions Than Answers

Our first quiz night proved one thing – we may drink a lot of whisky, but we know very little about it! Another great night at GWC and a huge vote of thanks to the Quiz Inquisitor Mr Bell, whose brain-stretching questions provided much food for thought.
Four teams battled it out for a spectacular prize, which, unfortunately, the Chairman forgot to buy. The winning team was Juliet, Julie, Blackie, Bobby B and Mark, who, as a non-member, should have been disqualified and all his answers stricken. Except he's joining and he didn't get any answers right!
The night was Islay-themed and for those who were at the Bon Accord – but can’t remember – here is what was on the barrel:

Duncan Taylor Islay Blend
Ardbeg 1990
Ardbeg Almost There
Bruichladdich 2001
Bruichladdich 2009 Feis Ila 14 year-old Cask Strength
Lagavulin 2009 Feis Ila 14 year-old Cask Strength
Caol Ila 1996 Gordon & MacPhail
Breath of Islay sample by Adelphi Cask Strength
Laphroaig 2009 Feis Ila12 year-old Cask Strength
Some of Bruichladdies Peated Ale.

I can’t imagine why we’ve taken so long to have a quiz night. It was great fun and it also meant members got a chance to chat with other souls they may not have really spoken to.
Now it’s back to the ongoing research that’s going to be a feature until the next quiz night.
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

An Evening of Complete Tosh

It was like the old days. Gerry Tosh, a selection of great drams, and Glasgow’s Whisky Club. It’s been a while since we had a Highland Park tasting, but Gerry certainly didn’t disappoint at the June tasting at the Bon Accord.
It was also the night we got to taste our special bottle of the 1977 Bicentenary, bought by the club – one of only 694 bottles, which were rescued from a Japanese warehouse. They were discovered after Highland Park changed distributors, brought back to Scotland and repackaged. Retail price was £250 and there are a few left.
Gerry brought us up to date with the latest news from Orkney before turning to our tasting. We started with the 12 year old, a standard dram that would be hard to beat at any distillery.
We followed that with a 1997 duty free bottling which had a bigger proportion of American oak through it.

On to the absolute classic 18 year old, twice hailed as the best spirit in the world, then on to our Bicentenary bottling. A bit smokier than normal offerings, it made a lasting impression.
As did the last bottle of the evening – the legendary 40 year old, retailing at a cool grand a bottle. It was everything you’d expect, a smooth classic from the HP stable.
Gerry hung around after the tasting and was quizzed by members on wood policy, the use of caramel, some interesting ‘experiments’ in cask management and many other topics.
As usual Gerry was unfailingly polite, engaging and showed his tru passion for his whiskies.

Friday, July 10, 2009

How Do You Take Yours?

Our good friend Richard Paterson of Whyte and Mackay and Colin Field, the head barman at The Ritz in Paris are having a get together on the Isle of Jura to try and answer that age old question: How Do You Take Yours? It promises to be great fun. Here's a wee You Tube clip

On the day itself there'll be a competition to name a cocktail. The winner will be taken to the Paris Ritz to drink a few.

Keep an eye out here for more details

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Doubles at the Doublet

Change of venue for the club night, and the Doublet more than measured up. We got the venue free but the pub must have been happy judging by the numbers who turned up, especially the non-members who wondered what on earth was going on. Nice to see Juliet back on her feet. In a rash moment she (kind of) offered a tasting at her house to get rid of some of the drams she's got lying around. I'll organise the bus!

Some good drams on offer too. Your humble chairman brought along a Tormore and Miltonduff, the last bottlings from Allied Distillers in Dumbarton in 2002. The Miltonduff was by far the better dram, IMHO. Ralf brought a Bladnoch 15 cask strength - the blackfaced sheep bottling - courtesy of Raymond Armstrong at the distillery, and it was a fine dram. Raymond would appreciate an email with your tasting notes ( We should think of an outing there. A long haul, but worth it.

Star of the night for me was the Fascadale from Adelphi, a secret bottling from a distillery not 20 miles from Talisker!

Next up is our Highland Park night, confirmed for the Bon Accord on June 30. The list is now closed and a stand-by is in operation. See you there.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Dram's A Dram For A' That

Many of us have long thought Robbie's annual whisky fest was among the best in the calendar - good master classes, a good selection of exhibitors and a fine venue at Ayr Town Hall. Saturday's event had all that - and more. Crowds, crowd, crowds. It was VERY busy, VERY hot and I suppose an indication of the growing success of the gathering.
A good turn out of club members as usual, half heading for the Ardbeg master class, half to George Grant’s Glenfarclas tasting. Your humble scrivener headed for Speyside. Six drams were on offer from the Grants’ Family Casks – 1979, 1985, 1986, 1989, 1992 and 1993 – ranging in price from £225 to a mere £125 a bottle. Fergus and I thought the 1989 was the absolute standout, big, sherried Speysider with fruit cake, toffee and vanilla. Just stunning.

The Islayphiles raved about the Supernova, a BIG BIG BIG smokey joe of a dram. Did it waste them for the rest of the day? Didn’t seem to! You’ll know club member David Keir asked for some help at busy times at his Arran and Bruichladdich/Tullibardine stalls, and it seemed Ralf and Mark were constant companions, dispensing drams and words of wisdom. Your slightly deafer chairman dispensed drams and grunted affably at every question, going for the lightly baffled approach.

Couldn’t help noticing, though, that a great many of the ‘connoisseurs’ at the tasting tables were merely table-hopping up and paying little attention to the quality or otherwise of the drams. Still, they paid their money like everyone else, I suppose.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Fyne Time Was Had By All

I don't think anyone would argue if I said Spirit of the West was one of the best days we've ever had as a club. The weather was kinder than we expected, the food was good, the drams absolutely first class.
Seventeen road warriors took the long and winding road to sample some of the finest whiskies the 16 distilleries who make up the Whisky Coast had to offer. There were top people from the industry as well, a sure sign they are fully supportive of this fledgling festival.
There were 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 were also lined up for the big weekend.
The organisers believe the event was a success although they were a little disappointed with the numbers who turned up. There were very few signs on the road from Glasgow that a festival was on and advertising elsewhere was a bit sparse. Next year the event will be switched, possible to June, in a bit to capture more tourists.
But the day suited us just fine. There was plenty of room at the tasting table in the Dram Room and the people pouring the drams had plenty of time to stand and natter.
Top drams of the day, voted by the travelling band, were the Talisker 30 and 25, with Jim McEwan's nitroglycerine concoction, the BLx4 also attracting support.
For some strange reason, the journey back seemed much quicker than the outward journey. Funny that!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

And the natives were friendly

To Edinburgh and the lair of the beast – the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Queen Street – for a tasting for bloggers. This is the home of the whisky snobs, the elitist, too-posh-to-pish people who won’t even tell you what whisky you’re drinking.
Except that they’re not like that at all. They’re as passionate and committed to good drams as we are, they’re very friendly and generous and their tasting notes have a nice, informal, dry touch of humour.
Our host was Olaf, the German-born ambassador who came to whisky 25 years ago – the same year the SMWE began. He remembers that dram, a 21 year old Springbank, and has retained a fondness for that distillery ever since.
A handful of bloggers were there, including Lucas and Chris from the Edinburgh Whisky Blog, one we should certainly be taking a look at.
A handful of drams were there, resplendent in their distillery/cask numbering system, although Olaf made it easy for us by spilling the bean and supplying tasting notes.
First up was a 19-year-old Rosebank, triple distilled at 59.7% in which the asemblees found roses and meadows, banana, varnished pine. With water, it became gingery spicy, with a dusty, cutgrass nose and a long flavour.
Number two was a Benrinnes from what was said to be a first fill sherry butt. 15 years old and sitting at 57.9% it was a chocolate goo pudding, which segued into a chesterfield sofa. The dark and mysterious Hazelburn was next, a comparative youngster at 11 years old, but with such oomph it could have been much older. Described as having the colour of flat Coke, it was creosote in a glass and had a nose reminiscent of a garden shed on a sunny afternoon. Cask strength of 56.7% but it needed very little water and in fact one our band preferred it uncut.
A honey-sweet Springbank 12 was the penultimate dram and it had all the characteristics you’d expect from Campbeltown – liquorice, seaweed, oil and smoke. The star of the night for me was the lightly-peaqted Ardbeg, the youngest at a mere seven years old. What a show stopper. On the nose nothing like an Ardbeg, in the mouth, unmistakeably so. We got smokey bacon, gun oil, chimney soot. A brilliant dram and only £47 from the SMWS.
It was such a good evening I was almost tempted to join!

Saturday, April 04, 2009


Last night of the month and a cracking way to bring down the curtains on March, with a celebration of An Cnoc. Presented by Nicola Ball, the evening at Oran Mor’s private dining room, was a mixture of the familiar, the surprising and the secretive.
The familiar were two of the drams, the 12 and 16 year old. Not so familiar was the 1994, un-chill-filtered at 46% from a mixture of sherry and bourbon casks. Floral and fragrant, it had rum and raisins, leather and, with water, chocolate.
The surprising was the 30 year old - an intense dram with huge sherry influence, bottled at 50%. Keir Sword of Royal Mile Whiskies (which sells it for under £100) found Roses lime marmalade and a hint of butterscotch. He thought it had a soft oily texture with caramac and a gooseberry finish. I got candles and beeswax and thought it showed EXACTLY the progression from the previous drams. An undoubted hit and a fantastic find.
Then came the secret trio of drams that could be described as a work in progress. We’re sworn to secrecy and we really appreciated getting the chance to taste this trio, but suffice to say the third of the drams was, to my mind, the standout and one that I’d happily pay money for.
The chairman forgot to thank Nicola during his closing remarks and he’s happy to put that right now. He would have mentioned it’s a measure of how far the club has come that we’re being used as a focus group. We have a perfect blend of experienced and not so experienced whisky drinkers and a healthy respect for what good whisky can taste like, and it appears others agree.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bruich is the Laddie

First tasting of the new year and it turned into a belter. Some 18 souls braved the back part of the Cask and Still for an evening with David Keir, who brought along some Arran, Tullibardine and a brace of Bruichladdichs, one of which the club dug deep into its inexhaustible coffers to purchase.
First up was the Arran 10, a light, citrusy dram, served at 46%. It improved after being left in the glass for a while. The 1993 Tullibardine was next, finished in a Muscatel cask, but its older brother, the 1988 bourbon cask, was an absolute smasher. Sweet, peppery with a decent finish.
The Arran single cask, also from a bourbon, had sweet toffee and was a big improvement on the standard 10. Retailing at £45-£48 a bottle, it would be worth spending some redundancy money on.
Next was the club's own purchase, the Bruichladdich Golder Still. Limited release of 4866 bottles, and retailing for around £120, it matured in 'squat' bourbon casks, which apparently gives the spirit more contact with the wood. More sweet toffee and well worth acquiring as a collectible, if you've also got the cash to get the partners - The Blacker Still and Redder Still.
Final dram was from the 2001 Resurrection series, a seven year old with a 10ppm peat level. Some £37 for one of 24,000 bottles. Also worth a collecting punt.
Many thanks once again to David, club member, Sales Manager with distributor Malcolm Cowen, and all round good guy.
Someone buy his flat please. He needs the dosh to buy more whisky!

Thursday, February 05, 2009


February, the Bon Accord, and yet another great night in the travels of our wee club. The Burns Supper hit all the notes - good food, good drams, good friends. We had our ups and down - secretary Andy Bell at last proposing to make an honest woman of Gillian, who, much to the astonishment of the assembled cast, accepted. Apart from his boyish good looks and almost unfettered access to premium drams,what DOES she see in him? The downside was the early departure of our Tartan Army treasurer, who had a dose of what my mum used to call 'The Bile',and wandered off into the night clutching his sporran full of banknotes. The next day he was feeling slightly better, unlike Gillian,who was still engaged to Andy.
To the night itself. A few brief words from the chairman, almost totally drowned out by the boorish behaviour of club members who seemed to prefer chatting among themselves than listening to his wise words, then a fine Selkirk Grace from the Chanty Wrassler. Undoubted highlight was the Ode to a Haggis, animatedly perormed by Ken Seaton who stepped in as the aforementioned treasurer was sprinting to the loo for an unscheduled upchuck. Three courses - lentil soup, haggis neeps and tatties and a delicious steak pie - were accompanied by the Bon Accord's own Bruichladdich, a 1993 cask strength, then an Auchentoshan 12 and finally, a magnificent Adelphi secret bottling which may, or may not, have from over the sea FROM Skye.
Many thanks to Paul McDonagh and his son young Paul (also known as Thomas) and ALL the staff at Bon Accord. It's a fine venue and one we'll be returning to on a regular basis, I'm sure.