Many of you will be familiar with Ardbeg Serendipity; a 12 year old blended malt that sprung, rather fortuitously, from a little carelessness at the bottling plant. A few casks of very old Ardbeg were accidentally vatted with a small portion of young Glen Moray (a distillery which was also under Glenmorangie PLC’s umbrella at the time).
It’s the sort of story that sparks controversy. Perhaps it was indeed a little too serendipitous and might sound more like the work of a well paid marketing department than that of a hapless blender. At least a great whisky came out of it – which is the bottom line after all.
When John Glaser of Compass Box created Lady Luck, the inspiration was “a lucky blend.” Sound familiar?
John vatted 25 and 29 year old casks of Caol Ila – a malt known for its oily, smoky character – and some 14 year old Imperial – a sweet, smoky Speyside. It sounds like the perfect marriage, let’s find out…
The Bruichladdich distillery is Islay’s most radical and its innovative practices have brought to bear over 130 different whiskies since the new ownership took the helm at the turn of the millennium; by no means is this your traditional, old fashioned Islay Scotch distiller.
With this in mind, it seems almost odd that Scotland’s oldest pot still is to be reinstated at the distillery and returned to its former grandeur once more. “Wash Still Number One” was originally commissioned in 1880 by the Harvey brothers – the founders of Bruichladdich.
It’s interesting, and wonderful, to be in the company of whisky lovers. The air full of the bonhomie and personality that make a whisky show such great fun. There’s also a common trait amongst the enthusiasts; an ingrained appreciation for life’s small luxuries and, ultimately, the understanding that life’s luxuries all take time to reach fruition, and take time still to enjoy fully.
Without getting too “zen” about it all, it can be very satisfying to allow yourself to slow down and relax once in a while, and it is this strange “enlightenment” (too far?) that poses as a very fitting metaphor in James Graham’s latest play, The Whisky Taster.
With a demanding London as a bustling backcloth, Graham’s narrative follows Nicola and Barney, both marketing professionals, attempting to boost sales of a vodka brand.
Nicola, played by Kate O’Flynn, embodies the extroverted, fearless saleswoman persona. Samuel Barnett’s Barney is her polar opposite, whose shy reticence is compensated by the double-edge blade of his synaesthesia: a condition whereby sensory observations manifest themselves as colours.
As the Poet’s birthday approaches, literally hundreds of e-mails turn up in our inbox asking about the best whisky to buy for Burns’ night.
It’s far from a daft request, as the matching of the Burns’ night staple, haggis, with an appropriate whisky is not at all easy.
Whisky writers Dave Broom and Charlie Maclean both cite Talisker 10 year old as their drink of choice with the “chieft ain o’ the puddin-race”. This choice makes a lot of sense, as the peppery nature of the dram helps to accentuate the peppery seasoning of the haggis. Some can find the intense peatiness a bit much though.
We decided to come up with some of our own suggestions. So, our mouths watering, we came up with a selection of drams to wash down a bite of haggis. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel like work!
A pilgrim’s journey…
During the last bout of horrid weather, a conversation started at MoM headquarters. As we gazed out at the murky skies and the last dirty slush from the snow, we were all dreaming of a good holiday somewhere, and it really got us thinking.
One of our favourite spots in all the world is Speyside, because it’s such a beautiful area with stunning scenery. Equally compelling, if not more so: Speyside is home to most of the distilleries in Scotland! Such legends as Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Aberlour, Macallan and Glenfarclas reside here, making it a great place to visit if you enjoy a good single malt.
Welcome back everyone! We hope you’ve had a great Christmas, and wish you all a very enjoyable 2010!
Over the festive season we’ve sampled a number of delicious whiskies – Christmas really is a great time for a good dram with some good company – and we wanted to mention one of favourite winter warmers.
At the time of writing, we’re surrounded by several inches of snow, and the thought of a little winter sun is rather appealing… Well, we present to you Glengoyne Glenguin 16 Year Old Shiraz Finish. A Highland single malt finished in Australian Shiraz casks for a touch of Antipodean joie de vivre!
The Shiraz casks come from the Glenguin wine estate in Australia’s Hunter Valley and it’s no accident that Glenguin and Glengoyne sound alike. It all began with Arthur William Tedder, born in Glenguin, Scotland to a Customs and Excise man at the Glengoyne distillery. Arthur was a pilot in the RAF during the First Wold War, as well as holding high command during the Second. After an eminent war career, Tedder was offered a peerage and became the 1st Baron Tedder of Glenguin. Arthur’s grandson, Robin Tedder, is one of Australia’s fifteen Masters of Wine and he also founded the Glenguin Wine Estate in 1988, which brings us back to the whisky…
There is an absolutely huge kerfuffle going on in the mainstream press at the moment about the hot new release of the first English whisky in over 100 years from St George’s distillery in Norfolk…
We visited the distillery in September and met with Managing Director Andrew Nelstrop. We’ve got a few juicy exclusives, photos and insights to share with you lucky, lucky people.
The Distillery and visitors centre. The still room is behind the large window facing the front on the first floor.
We’ll start by saying first and foremost that we absolutely adored the spirits we tasted – the complexity and depth of flavour found in the samples we tried with Andrew were stunning, and the dedication to excellence displayed at every step of the distillation and maturation processes were truly a delight to see. These guys are doing it properly.
The distillery is located in a picturesque village just outside Norwich, and on pulling up to the entrance, we thought we were looking at a rather nice country home rather than a working distillery. It would doubtless have been incredibly easy (not to mention cheap) More…
Islay isn’t a very large island, in fact it only takes up a couple of hundred square miles. But somehow this mysterious, peat-laden isle is home to some of the most popular, colossal distilleries in Scotland.
Now the whisky world is buzzing with excitement, as a new, artisan distillery has begun producing single malt. Peaty, pungent and characterful single malt no less.
The distillery is Kilchoman, sited on a small farmstead to the West of Islay. It’s a small and traditional distillery, sourcing its ingredients from the surrounding countryside. It even boasts its own malting floors.
After being entirely stunned by the exceptional inaugural release, we couldn’t wait for what lay in store.
So then – Jim Murray’s 2010 World Whisky of the Year – the Sazerac Rye (fall 2008 edition) has been replaced by the all-new new fall 2009 edition, and it’s an absolute belter.
As far as we know, at the time of writing this post, we’re the only retailer in the UK to be offering this for sale – and there are only limited quantities available.
The delivery arrived at 09:30, and before the pallet was even off the lorry, a bottle had been snaffled, opened, and was in the process of being tasted. Here are the results:
Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old Fall 2009 Edition 45%
Nose: Huge and powerful sweet rye on the initial nosing gives way to cinnamon toasted brioche, leather, and more than a hint of maraschino cherry. A really huge hit of oak follows, somewhat vinous with it – we were reminded of a barrique aged chardonnay. There’s something slightly medicinal lurking somewhere – a hint of iodine perhaps? It’s definitely not out of place amongst the other huge aromas given off by this whiskey though. A slight suggestion of coconut right at the tail end.
It’s a bit like Christmas at MoM towers today, albeit with fewer board-games and no crap jokes (well, maybe just a few). A very exciting package has turned up from the smashing folks at the ‘Number one drinks company’. It’s their newest selection of cask bottlings, and some sneak previews of the very exciting new malts from Chichibu.
All of these bottlings are currently on a cargo ship from Japan, and should be available in the next two months, keep watching – we’ll get them up as soon as they’re in.
So – enough with the pre-amble and onto the malts. First up, we’ve got 3 single cask bottlings from (the now closed) Hanyu and the sublime Karuizawa distilleries: