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Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Glenfarclas

The Nightcap: 20 May

On World Whisky Day Eve we report on stories like £150k worth of Glenfarclas whisky being stolen, the Lakes’ Dhavall Gandhi going solo, and the revelation of whisky’s wackiest tasting…

On World Whisky Day Eve we report on stories like £150k worth of Glenfarclas whisky being stolen, the Lakes’ Dhavall Gandhi going solo, and the revelation of whisky’s wackiest tasting notes.

Tomorrow is World Whisky Day so we’re going to celebrate with a touch of holy, healing Tequila. Har, har, har. We’re just kidding. No, it’s the water of life for us this weekend, and if you’re struggling to find anything ideal for the occasion then we think we might just have a couple of options to help. Of course, if you really want something special, you can always register your interest in some truly breathtaking bottles from Bowmore – 50-year-old Islay whisky awaits…

You can accompany your World Whisky Day dram with some reading on our beloved spirit, as the blog was full of it this week. We told the tale of Tamdhu, considered the changing role of the whisky distillery manager, and celebrated the distillery architects who made the mould. A Scotch-inspired twist of the Sidecar was also on the menu, as were drinks that help the environment and taste great, including a new gin from Hendrick’s. There was still time to preview our upcoming virtual gin festival, and learn how the world of Irish cream liqueur is evolving.

The Nightcap: 20 May edition!

Glenfarclas

It’s the sight no distillery ever wants to see

Thieves swipe £150k worth of Glenfarclas whisky

Devastating news came from Glenfarclas Distillery this week, as it reported that more than £150,000-worth of whisky was stolen. The Grant family, who own and run the business, revealed on Facebook that the visitor centre had been broken into at 2:45am, stating that the thieves “clearly knew what they wanted” after smashing cabinets and making off with 20 of the most expensive bottles, including the oldest and most valuable Family Casks and a bottle of 60-year-old. The average worth of bottle is estimated to be £7,500. Police say they are looking for two men who broke into the distillery sometime between 5.15pm on Friday 13 May and 10am on Sunday 15 May. The family reveals that the team is understandably very shaken up by these events and asks that anyone who has any information related to this crime or are offered these bottles to “please get in touch with us immediately, and please share this post.” It’s likely the thieves will look to sell on the stolen whisky, which does give some hope that they could be found, and detectives in the North East have urged the public to be aware of alcohol being sold at a discounted price. Let’s hope they are recovered, and if you do know or suspect anything be sure to get in touch with the distillery.

Dhavall Gandhi

Best of luck, Dhavall! Thanks for all the lovely Lakes whisky

Dhavall Gandhi announces new solo project

The Lakes Distillery has been one of the brightest new distilleries to emerge in the last few years and key to its success was its outstanding cask programme, overseen by director of whisky and former Macallan man Dhavall Gandhi, who is now establishing a creative studio called Dhavall Gandhi Whisky (how did he think up that name?). It’s been described as the “private bank of the whisky consulting world” and aims to “elevate the expectations” of the whisky industry. How? By partnering with firms with “a shared passion for whisky to define what is next” for the category on projects with exploratory concepts and stock transformation endeavours. “I founded Dhavall Gandhi Whisky as a creative studio with an über-niche focus,” Gandhi explains. “We believe that whisky is much more than how it tastes – it is about the emotional impact. Through creativity, thoughtful blending, and unrivalled expertise in sherry casks, we can help create whiskies that lead to better human connections.” The studio, which officially launched in 2022, will continue to work with The Lakes Distillery, one of its first clients. He told us: “Although I am not involved in the day-to-day running of the operations, I still maintain full creative control of the liquid from NMS to final product. This is a novel approach and it allows me to focus on things I do best.” He has also secured customers in New York and Tokyo. Gandhi has been über busy, it seems, as he will also announce details about another project set to launch in September 2022. Exciting times for the Lakes man, and we wish him all the best.

Jim Beam

Like father, like son

Freddie Noe to become master distiller of the Fred B. Noe Distillery

The James B. Beam Distilling Co is keeping it in the family again by announcing the appointment of Freddie Noe to be master distiller of the Fred B. Noe Distillery. The site officially opened last year as part of parent company Beam Suntory’s $60 million investment to revamp the James B Distilling Co in Clermont, Kentucky, in the US. Freddie previously surprised and honoured his dad, seventh-generation master distiller Fred Noe, by announcing the name of the distillery would be a tribute to him. This time the father turned the tables on his son by revealing his new title, and in doing so marked the first time in the history of JBBDCo that there are two family members, working alongside one another, sharing the master distiller title. Fred revealed this week that one of his biggest regrets is to never have distilled alongside his own father, Booker, adding that “working side-by-side with Freddie will be a dream come true”. Freddie himself said it would be “an honour beyond words to follow in my father’s footsteps.” He’ll now get to experiment with new fermentation, distillation, and blending techniques at the Fred B. Noe Distillery, while Fred Noe will maintain his role overseeing the James B. Beam Distilling Company’s portfolio of brands that include Jim Beam Bourbon, Knob Creek Bourbon, Basil Hayden, and others.

Redbreast

It’s as good as it looks

Redbreast launches Dream Cask Double Cask Edition 

To mark World Whisky Day tomorrow Irish Distillers is wheeling out its big hitter Redbreast and expanding its celebrated Dream Cask series. The fifth edition in the range, Redbreast Dream Cask Double Cask Edition is a 30-year-old single pot still Irish whiskey aged in two casks hand-selected by master blender Billy Leighton, and blender Dave McCabe. Each picked a favourite from Midleton’s considerable inventory with Leighton plumping for a first-fill ex-Oloroso sherry butt in May 1990 and McCabe favouring a first-fill ex-bourbon barrel in November 1991. These two were then combined. It’s a really interesting idea because what we see here is the two distinct components of the Redbreast DNA brought together, but also how the more established blender favours the more classic sherried style, while the heir apparent goes for the intriguing, alternative option. “The traditional Redbreast style is so often associated with the influence of sherry casks that we sometimes overlook the role bourbon casks play in its composition,” McCabe says in the press release. Indeed. The whiskey is bottled at 56.9% ABV, and the resulting liquid is “rich in robust spice with wood-driven characteristics and notes of dark-roasted coffee, sweet liquorice, orange peel and smoked amplified by the wine cask’s influence,” according to Leighton. Ok here’s the bad news, the bottle is 500ml, it costs €550, and it’s only available through an online ballot. The good news is, Redbreast Dream Cask Double Cask Edition is outrageously good, right up there with the initial Dream Cask launch. Kudos to those who get their hands on it.

The Glenlivet

The new generation of The Glenlivet is here (Lisa and Kevin, respectively)

The Glenlivet bids farewell to Alan Winchester

Chivas Brothers is waving goodbye to an iconic whisky man this week as former Glenlivet master distiller Alan Winchester leaves his ambassadorial role for the single malt brand. The 48-year industry veteran, who was recently honoured with The Spirit of Speyside Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition for his work in the whisky, retired as master distiller for The Glenlivet in 2018 but now heads for pastures new as an advisor at the upcoming Cabrach Distillery. The announcement has been framed as a retirement, so it’s possible that’s a part time role. What will be a full time task is continuing his legacy, and for that Chivas Brothers has announced the appointment of a new team of The Glenlivet Makers, comprising of distillers and a cask expert. New distillery manager, Lisa Glen, will lead the new team, alongside lead distiller, Kevin Reid, and cask expert, Kevin Balmforth. Glen began her career as an engineer in the Merchant Navy before becoming a distillery operations technician and later team leader at The Glenlivet, where she oversaw the operations and processes of the plant for eight years. The departing Winchester says that being master distiller of The Glenlivet “was truly an honour,” adding that “representing such a revered, quintessential single malt has been nothing short of a privilege”. Thanks for all the good times Alan, and best of luck.

Wire Works whisky

White Peak Distillery is one of the founding members

The English Whisky Guild publicly launches

It’s been on the cards for a while but now it’s official: we have an English Whisky Guild. The EWG publicly launched this week equipped with an aim to showcase and protect whisky crafted in England and bolstered by data that suggests the volume of spirit produced by distilleries in this country will soar by 189% from 2019 to 2023, with the number of bottles sold expected to rise by 418% from 2019 to 2023. A legal definition for whisky that would establish protections for the English whisky industry is the group’s first project, and it’s already submitted a geographical indicator (GI) to the UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra). The EWG will also look to support its community of producers while building awareness of the category. Drinks writer Dave Broom calls it a “significant and hugely welcome step in the evolution of English whisky,” while EWG’s inaugural chairman Andrew Nelstrop, says the group will welcome other English distilleries to join “at this exciting time.”

Compass Box

The Circle, No.2 will be here soon

Compass Box Whisky Releases The Circle, No.2

Compass Box is launching a new whisky that’s all about tapping into the phenomenon of synaesthesia. It’s the second edition from The Circle programme, which serves to connect the creative processes of the blending room with those of the bar trade. A bartender gets to put their input into this whisky’s creation after winning the competition, and 2019’s victor Mannie Monaghan, owner of the bar Below Stairs in Leeds, UK, asked the Compass Box whisky makers: “Is it possible to make a whisky that evokes the colour coral?” Synaesthesia refers to a blending of the senses that can entail hearing shapes or tasting colours, and Monaghan is a self-described synaesthete – unlike whiskymaker James Saxon, who relied on the bar owner to first identify whisky that matched the colour in his mind. What he’s made is described as a soft, and sweet whisky took shape, with more than half of the recipe coming from tropical, pineapple-accented spirit of Glen Elgin Distillery. Whiskies aged in ex-sherry casks add warmth and a clinging texture, while dashes of a peated whisky, and a little malt whisky further matured in STR wine casks, bring contrast and depth. You can see for yourself if The Circle, No.2 hits the mark, and it will be on our virtual shelves soon.

Glen Moray

Our Henry, endeavouring to circumvent any verbose descriptions

And finally… Glen Moray reveals whisky’s wackiest tasting notes

Another World Whisky Day tie-in came from Glen Moray, who revealed the results of asking experts to reveal the strangest tasting notes they’ve encountered. Leading writers including, Dave Broom, Jim Coleman, Ian Wisniewski, Mark Gillespie, Brian Townsend, Philip Day, and our own Henry Jeffreys all rose to the challenge, outlining their pet peeves, guilty pleasures, and funniest finds while suggesting some modern alternatives. “My bete noir for tasting notes, and I’m as guilty as anyone, is being unnecessarily specific, for example saying Conference pear, rather than just pear, Manuka honey rather than just honey, wild strawberries and Colombian coffee,” our Henry says. “I think they are used to give a false sense of exactness. But, that’s not to say that tasting notes have to be a plain. I love silly comparisons. My favourite ever tasting though, comes from wine and it is ‘sturdier than Robert Mitchum’s trousers press’. Beat that!” Coleman revealed one tasting note that has stuck with him is ‘tastes like the left wing of a dead seagull on an Islay beach,’ while Broom had his own favourite avian analogy, citing Charlie MacLean’s taste of ‘dead guillemot’. Other top notes include roofing tar and plankton, pork scratchings with dusted paprika, and dirt. While examples of more far-fetched, descriptive whisky lingo included: ‘Like a young cricket bowler joining the senior squad too young: some of the delivery is wayward but the power, energy and enthusiasm is there in abundance.’ It’s hilarious stuff, but this particular writer is also a little concerned about their own notes now…

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#WhiskySanta’s Glenfarclas 50 Year Old Decanter Super Wish

It’s the final Super Wish of the season and #WhiskySanta is going out with a bang. I almost can’t bring myself to do another ‘ho, ho, ho!’ It’s bittersweet for…

It’s the final Super Wish of the season and #WhiskySanta is going out with a bang.

I almost can’t bring myself to do another ‘ho, ho, ho!’ It’s bittersweet for me, this moment. The final Super Wish. I’ve loved spoiling you these last few weeks. Just ask Matthew Watkiss (@crusiccrusic) about how they feel now they have a bottle of Craigellachie 39 year old 1980 worth £3,500 on the way.

But, with Christmas this week, I’m afraid my Super Wishing is done for another year. Save for one last prize. And it’s a corker. It’s Glenfarclas 50 Year Old Decanter!

This incredible £12,000 decanter of Glenfarclas has spent 50 years ageing, which isn’t much to me but in human and, in particular, whisky terms it’s quite the thing. That half a century of maturation was spent in Spanish oak sherry casks, left to rest in cool dunnage warehouses, and only 146 bottles were produced. Oh, and that decanter is Glencairn Crystal, hand-decorated in copper complete with a copper stopper as well as a red mahogany piano-finished gift box. Tell me that isn’t going out in style…

Now, let’s do this one last time. To those who don’t know or need reminding of how to Super Wish, you’ll want to start by heading to the Glenfarclas 50 Year Old Decanter. There you’ll see the zazzy red button that says “Wish” on it. A box will pop up ready to send you onwards to a pre-populated Twitter or Facebook post. Just hit ‘publish’ and you’ve completed your wish! For Instagram, you can pop a post on your feed with the #WhiskySanta hashtag. 

Wishes need to be submitted by 23:59 GMT Thursday 23 December, because on Christmas Eve I’ll be granting one! Mrs #WS will deny me her signature Christmas pudding if she sees me still working on Super Wishes on Christmas Day. Trust me when I say this folks, I will not be missing out on that pudding. 

It has been an absolute pleasure doing this once again, perhaps I’ll see you next year? Best of luck on the final Super Wish!

#WhiskySanta

#WhiskySanta’s Glenfarclas 50 Year Old Decanter

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Top ten whiskies by flavour

At a loss for which whisky to buy this Christmas? We’ve handily grouped some of our favourite drams by their taste profile. Here are our top ten whiskies by flavour….

At a loss for which whisky to buy this Christmas? We’ve handily grouped some of our favourite drams by their taste profile. Here are our top ten whiskies by flavour.

Even for whisky experts, it can be hard to know what you’re going to get when you open a bottle. To help customers, there is a trend in bars like The Fife Arms that Adam visited recently to group bottles by flavour rather than region. So in the spirit of a modern whisky bar, we’ve come up with five flavour profiles to help you on your journey. They are:

Floral – lavender, honey, citrus blossom and herbaceous flavours.

Fruity – such as peach, apple or pineapple.

Sherried – classic sweet Oloroso and PX flavours like raisins, orange peel, nuts and dates.

Smoky – peated whiskies with all the different flavours you get here like bonfire, coal smoke, TCP etc.

Sweet – think butterscotch, toffee, vanilla and caramel, lots of American oak character.

Now, of course, your whisky may well be fruity and floral, or sherried and smoky, or even fruity, floral, sherried, smoky and sweet. In which case, we’ve picked the predominant flavour. We admit it’s not a perfect system but it is helpful

So without further ado, here are our favourite whiskies by flavour from Scotland, Ireland and beyond.

Floral

highland-park-12-year-old-viking-honour-whisky

Highland Park 12 Year Old – Viking Honour

Once just known as Highland Park 12 Year Old, now it’s called Viking Honour. Fearsome! The whisky, happily, is the same as it ever was with that classic honey, floral and wood smoke profile. The Orkney distillery does things the time-honoured ways with floor maltings, peat, sherry casks and cool climate maturation. If it ain’t broke and all that. 

What does it taste like?

Honey and floral notes abound on the nose with some wood smoke. On the palate it’s peppery with notes of orange and wood shavings. 

the-hakushu-single-malt-whisky-distillers-reserve-whisky

Hakushu Single Malt Whisky – Distiller’s Reserve

From the Hakushu distillery in the foothills of Mount Kaikomagatake comes their Distiller’s Reserve single malt whisky, a no-age-statement expression, that captures the smoky, herbaceous characteristics of its whiskies. Both lightly-peated and heavily-peated malts were used for this complex and deeply enjoyable whisky. 

What does it taste like?

The herbs are very upfront with this one. Peppermint, pine and pleasant grassy notes with citrus zest and a waft of smoke. 

Fruity 

green spot single-pot-still-whiskey

Green Spot Single Pot Still 

Last year we announced the return of Blue Spot, now we’re showing some love to the best known of the range and a whiskey that has done so much to fly the flag for single pot still whiskey. We’re talking, of course, about the fabulous Green Spot, a whiskey that was matured in a combination of first and second fill bourbon casks as well as sherry casks to deliver a robust, fruity and rich profile. Savour this one.

What does it taste like?

Fresh green apple, sweet barley, sugary porridge, creamy vanilla, papaya, gentle bourbon oak, green woods, menthol, potpourri and citrus.

masthouse single-malt whisky

Masthouse Single Malt

We were very excited to try this first single malt from the Copper Rivet Distillery in Chatham, Kent as we’d tasted some aged new make. It’s fair to say that we were more than impressed as it manages to be vibrant, smooth and packed full of flavour despite only being three years old. It’s made only from Kentish barley, distilled and aged in ex-bourbon and virgin American white oak barrels.

What does it taste like?

The fruit on the nose jumps out of the glass with apple and peaches followed by creamy cereal, sweet spices and vanilla. 

Sherried

glenfarclas 15 year old whisky

Glenfarclas 15 Year Old

A wonderfully sherried 15-year-old dram from Glenfarclas, boasting oodles of dried fruit notes. It’s bottled at 46% ABV simply because this was the strength that George Grant’s grandfather preferred it at. Happily, this also results in the Speysider boasting a big, juicy, Christmas cake profile. 

What does it taste like?

Intensely sherried on the nose with raisins, orange peel, walnuts and dates. This is as close as you get to Christmas cake in a glass. 

Darkness 8 year old

Darkness 8 Year Old 

If you like a sherry bomb then you’ll love the Darkness 8 Year Old. It’s a single malt from an undisclosed distillery aged in ex-bourbon casks before spending a few months in custom-made Oloroso sherry octave casks. Small casks make for a vastly increased surface area to volume ratio, leading to more cask influence. In other words: sherry city!

What does it taste like? 

More sherry than a vicars convention in Jerez. Candied orange peel, dried cherry and chocolate peanuts on the nose, with powerful raisin, prune and oak on the palate. 

Smoky

ardbeg-10-year-old-whisky

Ardbeg 10 Year Old 

Ardbeg 10 Year Old is a firm favourite of peated whisky fans because it does a sublime job of showcasing the flavours Islay and the distillery itself are famous for. As well as all that smoke and sea, however, you’ll also taste an array of sweet, citrusy and fruity elements thanks to the depth of the spirit and the balance ex-bourbon casks bring. 

What does it taste like?

A ridge of vanilla and caramel leads to a mountain of peat smoke capped with citrus fruits and circled by clouds of sea spray.

seaweed-and-aeons-and-digging-and-fire-10-year-old-whisky

Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 Year Old

They say you can’t judge a book by the cover, but you can judge this whisky by its label. The name makes sense as soon as you take a sip, it’s a smoky peaty Islay malt from an undisclosed distillery with 25% aged Oloroso sherry cask. This has proved an extremely popular malt with MoM customers.

What does it taste like? 

Does exactly what it says on the bottle: there’s woodsmoke, seaweed and charred meat combined with sweet sherry notes, red apple and vanilla. 

compass-box-hedonism-whisky

Sweet

Compass Box Hedonism

Smooth, creamy and really very tasty, Hedonism is a blended grain whisky featuring liquid (depending on batch variation) from Cameronbridge, Carsebridge, Cambus, Invergordon, Port Dundas or Dumbarton that was matured in 100% first-fill American oak barrels or rejuvenated American oak hogsheads. 

What does it taste like?

Fraises des bois, sponge cake, red pepper, black cherry, milk chocolate, toasted oak and sweet spices with some cereal notes.

balvenie-14-year-old-caribbean-cask-whisky

Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask     

‘Finishing’ whisky is commonplace now but it was David Stewart who pioneered the process at The Balvenie in the 1970s. This 14-year-old shows the magic of double cask ageing as it was initially matured in bourbon barrels before finishing in casks that previously held Caribbean rum, imparting some extra sweetness and warmth.

What does it taste like?

It’s a sweetie, no doubt, with toffee, vanilla and coconut, but there’s no shortage of fruit like mangoes, orange and creamy toffee.

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Single cask Master of Malt exclusives have landed!

Just landed at MoM Towers, some bottles that you can’t find anywhere else. We have offerings from Caol Ila, Glenfarclas, Glenallachie and, heading over to America, Smooth Ambler. These are…

Just landed at MoM Towers, some bottles that you can’t find anywhere else. We have offerings from Caol Ila, Glenfarclas, Glenallachie and, heading over to America, Smooth Ambler. These are all single cask bottlings and did we mention they are Master of Malt-exclusives?

The thing that gets our buying team really excited is the chance to get hold of whisky that nobody else can and selling it to Master of Malt customers. They spend their lives hunting out rare casks that have that extra-special magic.

And now, just in time for Christmas, they’ve landed a quartet of splendid single cask bottlings: one from Islay, two from Speyside, and a bourbon from the US.

And they are all Master of Malt exclusives.

Caol Ila 9 Year Old (James Eadie)

In contrast to its neighbours, Bowmore and Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila keeps a low profile. It produces a lot of whisky but most of its production goes into blends like Johnnie Walker Black Label. Nevertheless, its Islay single malts are usually excellent and much-prized by independent bottlers.

This comes from independent bottler James Eadie, a recently-revived name from the 19th century. It was distilled in 2011 and aged in a re-charred hogshead. It was bottled in 2021 exclusively for Drinks by the Dram at cask strength, 57.6% ABV. Only 276 bottles are available.

How does it taste?

Oatcakes, seaweed and ocean breezes, with waxy green apples, butter crumpets, spicy peppercorn, caraway and anise.

GlenAllachie 12 Year Old 2009 (Drinks by the Dram)

GlenAllachie lies in Aberlour on the bank of the River Spey. It’s a relatively recent distillery, built in 1967, and in the past, most of its production went into blends. In 2017, however, it was bought by a consortium including ex-BenRiach MD Billy Walker, and the emphasis is now on single malts.

This 12-year-old was distilled in 2009 before ageing in an ex-bourbon cask. In 2018 it was racked into a single Oloroso sherry puncheon, before bottling in 2021 at cask strength for Drinks by the Dram. 359 bottles are available.

How does it taste?

If you love sherry, then you’re going to love this. Think rum and raisin, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla and dark chocolate. 

Glenfarclas 1991 29 Year Old Family Cask

Glenfarclas is one of the few family-owned distilleries in Scotland. It’s been in the hands of the Grant family since the 19th century. It is also one of the last distilleries in Scotland to use direct-fired stills, and all its whiskies are aged the traditional way in ex-Oloroso casks in a dunnage warehouse.

Here’s a very special bottling. It was distilled in 1991 and spent 29 years in a single refill Oloroso sherry hogshead. It was bottled exclusively for Master of Malt at 55% ABV with only 213 bottles produced. 

How does it taste?

Dried fruit, raisins, apricots and orange peel on the nose with a whiff of furniture polish. Lively, spicy and tangy on the palate with creamy barley, gingerbread and nutty chocolate.

Smooth Ambler Old Scout 5 Year Old Bourbon (Drinks by the Dram) 

West Virginia’s Smooth Ambler began in 2009 as a gin and vodka distillery, but founder John Little saw an opportunity when he came across casks of quality mature bourbon that nobody else wanted. Since then, Little has begun producing his own whiskey but still sells sourced spirits under the Old Scout label. 

This was distilled at the vast MGP distillery in Indiana, source of so much high-quality bourbon. The mash bill is 60% corn, 36% rye and 4% malted barley. Following ageing for five years it was bottled with minimal filtration at 59.6% ABV.

How does it taste?

Sweet, smooth and very spicy, you’ll find cinnamon gum, brown sugar, coffee, cracked black pepper, liquorice, and Crunchie Bars in here. 

These whiskies are available in very limited quantities, once they’re gone, they’re gone.

Glenfarclas 60 Year Old

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Whisky icons – we have a winner!

Whether they’re bourbons, single malts or blended whiskies, some brands are so famous that they’re iconic. But which is the biggest whisky icon? We’re running a poll on social media…

Whether they’re bourbons, single malts or blended whiskies, some brands are so famous that they’re iconic. But which is the biggest whisky icon? We’re running a poll on social media to find out, and this is the page to follow the results.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word ‘icon’ as: “A person or thing regarded as a representative symbol or as worthy of veneration.”

So, what makes a whisky an icon? Well, it has to be a great whisky to start with. One that’s revered across the world. But more than this, it has to have a strong memorable image. Say the name of a particular distillery or brand, and it should instantly resonate. 

Worthy of veneration

Now this could be a globally famous brand like Johnnie Walker or Jack Daniel’s. Many people who have never even drunk whisky will have heard of these brands. Jack Daniel’s for its association with music, and Johnnie Walker because it’s an icon of consumer capitalism (as well as a great whisky). Then there’s Macallan, a symbol of luxury up there with Rolls Royce or Cartier. 

But lesser-known names can be iconic among the whisky cognoscenti. Take Springbank, for example. You have to know a bit about whisky to have heard of it but it’s undoubtedly “worthy of veneration.” We’ve seen grown men and women go all tearful at the thought of a rare bottle of Springbank. 

But your whisky icon might be Lagavulin from Islay, Four Roses from Kentucky or even a newer distillery like Mackmyra from Sweden. So to decide this once and for all, we’re giving Master of Malt customers the opportunity to shout about their favourite brands. 

Vote for your whisky of icon

Social polls will be posted on a @masterofmalt Instagram story Monday to Friday this week (simply view our story and tap on the distillery/brand you wish to vote for). Or alternatively you can vote over on the @MasterOfMalt Twitter page where a poll will be posted to our feed.

The tournament will end on Monday 27 September with the winner announced that day. This is how it will work:

Monday 20 September – first round with 32 whiskies

Tuesday 21 September – second round with 16 whiskies

Wednesday 22 September – quarter finals 

Thursday 23 September – semi finals 

Friday 24 September – finals

Saturday 25 September – voting closes

Monday 27 September – announcement of the winner

Get voting so we can say once and for all what the greatest icon of whisky is! And then we find something else to argue about. 

UPDATE, 27 September:

The winner was… Bunnahabhain with Lagavulin as the runner-up.

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The Nightcap: 28 May

It’s time to welcome the long weekend with a dram and all the latest from the world of booze. 125-year-old Port, 185 years of Glenfarclas, and someone’s been overdoing it…

It’s time to welcome the long weekend with a dram and all the latest from the world of booze. 125-year-old Port, 185 years of Glenfarclas, and someone’s been overdoing it on the fantasy at Diageo, it’s all in the Nightcap: 28 May edition!

It’s the weekend folks and boy is it a good one. Not only is it longer for British readers, thanks to the Spring Bank Holiday, but it’s also the first weekend of the Islay Festival! You might have seen that we’ve already got some features on our blog regarding the event, but be sure to look out for our daily deals too, and check out this delightful Spotify playlist which should help you get in the spirit of things. Just because we can’t be on Islay itself, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the wonderful whisky it produces and celebrate this amazing island.

Elsewhere on our blog, we launched one of the most incredible Father’s Day competitions you’ll ever see with Drinks by the Dram. Did someone say a year’s worth of whisky/rum as a prize? No, really. Get entering now. If you’re still stuck for ideas we have plenty of options. We also learned the story behind a very famous blend, found out how gin brands can stand out in such a crowded market, and got the inside scoop on pairing whisky and ice cream. There was even time to enjoy a party drink associated with Tom Cruise and some delicious apple brandy.

And be sure to join us this week on the Clubhouse App as we’ll have lots to talk about what with the small matter of the Islay Festival for us and our guests – Kristiane Sherry, Dave Worthington, and Richard Legg – to discuss!

Lagavulin 12 year old 2021 Special Releases

Flaming Aslan’s mane!

Diageo’s latest Special Releases labels are literally fantastic 

We got quite a surprise in our inbox this morning with a sneak preview of the labels for this year’s Diageo Special Releases. Our in-house filmmaker Ken Evans described them very accurately as “someone’s been on the fantasy novels over lockdown and had a ‘brilliant idea’.” Lagavulin has a flaming lion and Talisker is being marauded by a sea monster, while there’s all kinds of new age woo woo going on at the Singleton of Glendullan. They are wild. The labels which had been submitted for approval by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau in the US were shown on the American Whiskyart blog. As well as the quite literally fantastic graphics, there’s a high level of information on the labels about these limited releases. The line-up consists of a Lagavulin 12-year-old aged entirely in refill casks, a Talisker 8 “from a selection of our smokiest reserves”,  a 19-year-old Singleton of Glendullan finished in Cognac casks, Cardhu 14 finished in red wine casks, Royal Lochnagar 16 from refill casks, Oban 12 from ex-bourbon and refill casks, a 13-year-old Mortlach aged in refill and virgin casks, and a mighty Lagavulin 26-year-old aged in first-fill Oloroso and PX casks. They’re all bottled at cask strength. All we can say is if the whiskies are as wild as the labels, we’re in for a treat.

 

The Three Drinkers

And then there were two

Colin Hampden-White leaves Amazon Prime show The Three Drinkers

In a move that some in the industry are comparing to Robbie leaving Take That, it was announced yesterday that Colin Hampden-White has left the Three Drinkers. Hampden-White was the spirit expert of the trio whose superpower was wearing blindingly loud shirts. The other two drinkers, Aidy Smith and Helena Nicklin, will continue the team’s myriad activities including an Amazon Prime programme, online magazine and Bring a Bottle podcast. The third spot will be kept for a “revolving range of guests” with the emphasis on “diversity”. It’s not clear how much this is Hampden White’s decision or whether he didn’t fit in with the group’s future plans. The press release, which only sports a photo of Nicklin and Smith, states that Hampden-White “plans to concentrate more on his international whisky pursuits” but also that he is “stepping down… to allow a broader range of talent to be represented.” Hampden-White himself commented: “I hope this leaves room for new faces and new ideas to further the diversity in all things for The Three Drinkers.” Smith echoed the ambiguous tone of the release saying “while we are sad to be saying ‘au revoir’ to Colin, what this change will allow us to do now is very positive. We’ve listened to what the drinks world needs right now and that is a much needed diversity push….” So did Colin get the push?

The Nightcap: 28 May

There aren’t many of these Dunnage tasting packs so get them while you can!

Glen Scotia reveals line up for 2021 virtual festival

Glen Scotia has revealed the schedule for this year’s virtual malts festival which will go live on 7 June. Whisky fans the world over will soon be able to access a range of different events and content by visiting www.glenscotia.com/festival. Master distiller Iain McAlister will be joined by a host of famous faces in a packed programme that features the likes of Charlie MacLean, Neil Ridley, Joel Harrison. Festival-goers can expect an interactive virtual tour of the distillery, a virtual tasting of this year’s festival edition, historic tales from the once whisky capital of the world as well as the keenly anticipated dunnage tasting. This year the tasting will explore the influence of casks on the final liquid, with a particular focus on bourbon, refill American oak, and European oak finishes. There’s not going to be many Dunnage Tasting Boxes so get them from www.glenscotia.com while you can.  The annual Campbeltown Malts Festival is a tremendous celebration and a great opportunity to talk about Scotland’s fifth and smallest malt-producing region and its whisky-making heritage. We highly recommend you get involved if you’re a whisky enthusiast.

The Nightcap: 28 May

Will Liam Hirt’s new program make the splash he hopes?

Still In Cask to revolutionise whisky? 

Every now again we get an email in our inbox from a brand that claims it’s going to change the industry. They almost never do, but we like the optimism. This week’s bold newcomer is Still In Cask, a global platform that says it will give consumers the opportunity to buy shares in a cask of spirit directly from a distillery, from as little as £20 a Cask Share. The self-described “innovative business” has been developed to “democratise the ownership of cask spirits and assure consumer ownership using a public blockchain”. You’ll forgive us for being a little sceptical, but the cask market appears to be the boomiest part of whisky at the moment and the amount of investment and new brands we’re seeing gives us a slight cause for alarm. However, it’s comforting to know then that the brain behind this is Liam Hirt, as in the founder of Psychopomp Microdistillery and Circumstance Distillery, which means it’s at least being run from someone who knows whisky and not just some folks who made a few quid in the city and want to diversify their portfolio. Kicking off this start-up, which is now live to the public, are some  impressive names: Nc’Nean, Circumstance, Cotswolds, Mackmyra, and Connacht Distillery, which is also promising. Hirt says that cask ownership is usually reserved “for those that can afford an entire cask or those that can form a syndicate of like-minded individuals” which leads many enthusiasts to be excluded. He also says cask purchases are “historically complex and investment focused making it even harder to get involved”. Whether he has the solution or not will remain to be seen. For more info or to register your interest, head to StillInCask.com.    

The Nightcap: 28 May

We tasted this range and are big fans

Belvedere launches Organic Infusions range

As a brand that has spent a fair amount of time and money ensuring people understand how much it values its raw materials, it’s shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone that Belvedere has entered the organic category with a new range of flavoured vodkas. There are three expressions, the first being Blackberry, Lemongrass with a hint of Sage, the second is Lemon, Basil with a touch of Elderflower and the final bottling is Pear, Ginger with a drop of Linden Honey. Each is made with organic Polish rye vodka, fruits, and botanicals which are farmed with no artificial pesticides, additives, or chemicals. We were fortunate enough to taste each at a virtual launch hosted by global brand ambassador Mike Foster, who says “the time is right and the demand is there” for organic, flavoured products. He added that the new range, coupled with the brand’s Made with Nature campaign, demonstrates that “Belvedere is dedicated to evolving the vodka category into one more rich in substance, more comfortable with the natural approach and more in tune with well-being and responsible lifestyle choices.” It’s a process that has paid dividends, in our opinion. They’re beautifully made spirits, each one is elegant, flavourful, and versatile that make tremendous Vodka Sodas and we can see people having tremendous fun whipping up all kinds of cocktails. Which you’ll be able to do soon as the range will be available from Master of Malt in the near future…

The Nightcap: 28 May

Well these don’t look similar at all…

Lidl lands in hot water for ‘Hendrick’s lookalike’ gin 

Anybody who shops in Lidl or Aldi will know the discount supermarkets love to create slightly cheeky imitations of established products. Just ask Colin the Caterpillar. Once again this approach has landed them in hot water, however, after Lidl was told it must stop selling a redesigned bottle of its Hampstead Gin. At the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Lord Clark awarded an interim interdict to the makers of Hendrick’s Gin, ruling Lid’s brand breached the established brand’s trademarks. The temporary order stops Lidl from selling the redesigned bottles in Scotland following William Grant & Sons’ claim that the supermarket remodeled the Hampstead gin bottle to resemble the “apothecary-style bottle” used by its gin brand. Which, honestly, is not an unfair suggestion. They look pretty identical. Same dark bottle. Same diamond-shaped label. Similar fonts. The Hampstead gin bottle even has cucumbers on it, which feels like a line crossed (Hendrick’s is famously infused with cucumber). In an amazing turn of events, during an earlier court hearing, social media comments about the redesign were read out, which included gems such as “Hmmm…Reminds me of another gin, but I just can’t put my finger on it… ” and “Looks a lot like another bottle of gin😉”.Lidl said it was disappointed by the ruling, naturally. Maybe the folks over there can console themselves with a drop of Jameson’s. Sorry, we mean Dundalgan Blended Irish Whiskey.

The Nightcap: 28 May

How else would Glenfarclas mark the occassion?

Glenfarclas marks 185 years with whisky

The great thing about being a famous distillery is that whenever you have an occasion to celebrate you already have the perfect thing for it: whisky! So it should come as no surprise to anyone that Speyside distillery Glenfarclas has released a limited-edition single malt whisky to celebrate its 185th anniversary. The producer, who began legally distilling in May 1836, is launching just 6,000 bottles of the Glenfarclas 185th Anniversary Edition in the UK priced at £120. The whisky was made the way all Glenfarclas whisky is, with spring water that emerges from granite under the slopes of Ben Rinnes which is combined with malted barley and double distilled in direct-fired copper pot stills. For the 185th Anniversary Edition, two-thirds of the liquid was filled in sherry casks and the remaining booze into ex-bourbon casks. Oh, and those casks used to make the whisky span six decades, don’t y’know? The whole thing was then bottled up at 46% ABV and slapped with a celebratory label and tin. “Due to my grandfather’s foresight, here at Glenfarclas we are very fortunate to have casks in our dunnage warehouses from seven different decades, from the 1950s to the 2020s,” says George Grant, sixth-generation family member, and current sales director. “To mark 185 legal years we have selected some of our finest casks from across the decades and put together a whisky with old, rich, sherried flavours that remain fresh and vibrant in your glass.” And our very own Ian Buxton has produced an up-dated 185th anniversary edition of his history of Glenfarclas – available only from the distillery

The Nightcap: 28 May

They’ve been through, well, not a lot to be honest, but something.

One Eyed Spirits kills Ron de Jeremy brand and relaunches

You may be aware that about a decade ago a spirits brand decided to create a rum named after “the most famous Ron in the world” as the Spanish word for rum is ron. One Eyed Spirits chose Ron Jeremy, who at the time was known as a the porn film star who became part of mainstream culture. In the last few years, however, numerous allegations have been leveled against Jeremy and he now faces serious jail time after being arrested on charges of rape, sexual assault, and more by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. As you can imagine, One Eyed Spirits terminated its commercial agreement in August 2020, commenting that continuing with the brand was “not a morally sustainable option” and that “the joke is over”. But the brand is determined to stay in the rum world and has created a new range called Hell or High Water. There’s not much info on the rums themselves, all we know is that there will be an XO expression, the “smooth and dry Hell or High Water Reserva” and the “rich, deep and spicy Hell or High Water Spiced. Most of the press release was instead dedicated to outlining that One Eyed Spirits has overcome obstacles and backstabbing, naming its rums after the expression, “come hell or high water”, as a reference to them being willing to do whatever it takes to overcome difficulties or obstacles. It’s laid on a little thick, to be honest, and it’s worth remembering that One Eyed Spirits are far from the true victims of Ron Jeremy’s alleged actions.

Taylor's Single Harvest 1896

Compared with some whiskies, this £4k Port is a steal

We taste Taylor’s 125-year-old Port

Taylor’s has made a thing in recent years of releasing exceptionally old Ports of superb quality. And this latest release from 1896 is no exception. It’s billed as a ‘single harvest’ Port rather than a ‘vintage’ as it was aged in cask rather than bottle. For 125 years! But it’s actually a comparative youngster compared with some Taylor’s releases such as the 1863 and the 1855. Adrian Bridge, Taylor’s managing director commented: “The launch of a wine as old, valuable and unique as this one occurs only a handful of times in a generation. It is by its nature, a historic event in its own right, which Taylor’s is proud to share with wine collectors and connoisseurs of rare wines.” He added: “Savouring such a wine is a once in a lifetime experience.” Only 1,700 bottles have been filled and they will cost around £3950. It’s a lot of money but compared with say, Brora’s recent £30,000 Triptych release, it’s actually a bargain. Our tiny sample bottle filled the room with a heady aroma when we opened it. The wine is almost impossibly complex with strawberries, balsamic vinegar, furniture polish, and Brazil nuts on the nose while to taste you’d never guess it was 125 years old. It’s fresh and vital with a finish you can measure in weeks. What an extraordinary Port.

Charles-MacLean tastes El Dorado

The moment when Charlie MacLean winces is priceless

And finally… Charlie MacLean tastes tonic wine on camera

Eldorado Tonic wine has produced a series of videos with Charlie MacLean and they are hilarious. We’re sure MacLean will need no introduction to Master of Malt readers but Eldorado might. It’s a rival product to the infamous Buckfast, known as LD in Glasgow, it’s extremely popular in Scotland, hence roping in whisky expert MacLean who doesn’t even pretend to know anything about the brand. “I’m not actually sure what a tonic wine is,” he says in the first film. Nor does he pretend to enjoy it. The best bit of the video is when after coming up with some serving suggestions, he gamely sips it out of a coupe. Then at 1.14 winces visibly and says “mmmm, it’s a swanky drink”, before presumably reaching for a bottle of Lagavulin to take away the taste.

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It’s goodbye from #WhiskySanta

Well, it’s time for #WhiskySanta to disappear for another year after a bumper Christmas. But before he puts his feet up, he has one more thing to say… Ho ho…

Well, it’s time for #WhiskySanta to disappear for another year after a bumper Christmas. But before he puts his feet up, he has one more thing to say…

Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas!

Well, it’s been a funny old year, funny peculiar, that is, but luckily all the strangeness didn’t affect my ability to spread cheer this season. With a little help from my chums at Master of Malt, I’ve given away over £250,000-worth of boozy goodness, and eaten my bodyweight many times over in mince pies. I do love Christmas!

But now, like the boot cut jean, it’s over, and it’s time for me to say goodbye. Before I go, however, I want to take a moment to remember some of those amazing bottles I gave away including the snappily-titled Port Ellen 35 Year Old 1983 (Release No.11535) – The Stories of Wind & Wave (The Character of Islay Whisky Company), a Glenfarclas 1958 Family Cask, Balvenie’s magnificent 40 Year Old, Tamnavulin 48 Year Old 1970, or, all the way from the US of A, Woodford Reserve Baccarat Edition. Extraordinary, even if I do say so myself!

Those were just some of the big ‘uns. I also gave away tens of thousands of gifts large and small to lucky Master of Malt customers who placed orders. Some of you even received your orders completely free!

But all good things must come to an end and, to be honest, despite being a supernatural, omniscient being, I need a rest too. It’s not easy dispensing boozy cheer and writing amusing blog posts while keeping my enormous beard immaculately groomed. In January, I’m just going to put my feet up and put some time into that screenplay I’ve been working on: it’s about a supernatural, heavily-bearded being… Stop! I can’t say anymore, as I don’t want anyone to pinch this clearly entirely original movie premise… 

Merry Christmas and happy New Year, one and all!

#WhiskySanta

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#WhiskySanta’s Glenfarclas 1958 (cask 2065) Family Cask Autumn 2014 Release Super Wish

It’s the final Super Wish of the season! Has #WhiskySanta saved the best until last? Fans of spectacularly sherried Scotch single malt will think so… There aren’t many things that…

It’s the final Super Wish of the season! Has #WhiskySanta saved the best until last? Fans of spectacularly sherried Scotch single malt will think so…

There aren’t many things that can make an supernatural, omniscient being like myself feel old. But looking at a bottle of whisky from 1958 does make you recall a time when you could buy a cracking bottle of the good stuff and still have change left over to pick up a pack of Junior Mints and catch a late showing of the Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. Much like the start of this year’s gift-giving extravanganza, it feels like yesterday, and yet somehow we’re already in the last week of Christmas and I only have one Super Wish left to grant!

But this festive fellow isn’t feeling sorry for himself, because I have the joy of giving away the most sublime Scotch this week and there’s nothing I love more than treating you lovely lot to the best of the best. And this week’s Super Wish is certainly that. If this whisky had a Blind Date profile (that’s a contemporary reference, right?), it would say that it’s over 50 years young, it loves to slumber in Spanish oak sherry casks and spend time with its family at their distillery in Speyside. Folks, feast your eyes on the wonderful…

Glenfarclas 1958 (cask 2065) Family Cask Autumn 2014 Release!

#WhiskySanta’s Glenfarclas 1958 (cask 2065) Family Cask Autumn 2014 Release Super Wish

What a way to finish another year of amazing Super Wishes. If I do say so myself…

I have a bit of form for making the final Super Wish a spectacular bottle of Glenfarclas and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! This astonishingly exciting expression is a 1958 vintage Glenfarclas, which was aged in a single Sherry hogshead until July 2014 when it was bottled 40.2% ABV. There were only 138 bottles released and it’s worth over six reindeer rubles, or £6,000 in your currency. You simply know that this complex, refined and decadent dram is going to be the best Christmas present you get this year.

Now, for the last time, I’m going to explain how you make a Super Wish. I know everybody is familiar with the process by now, but it prolongs the experience so indulge me. To make your wish, you need to head to the product page and then give that big red ‘Wish’ button a mighty click (I like to say the word ‘click’ out loud when I do it because I’m tremendous fun). A box with options for a pre-populated Twitter or Facebook post will then appear on your screen, which you can publish on the platform of your choice. If Instagram is more your bag, then you also have the option of posting your wish on your feed using the #WhiskySanta hashtag. Just make that hashtag in the post. It’s how the lovely folk at MoM are able to find your wish. Plus, it’s really nice to see your name all over Instagram. It makes me feel like Kylie Jenner or that egg (ah, a simpler time). 

#WhiskySanta’s Glenfarclas 1958 (cask 2065) Family Cask Autumn 2014 Release Super Wish

For one last time this year, give that big red button a click

Don’t forget everyone, I may be wrapping up the Super Wishing but I’m still giving away plenty of goodies right up until Christmas Eve! Happy wishing and a very Merry Christmas to you all.

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Whisky Advent 2020 Day #20: Glenfarclas 15 Year Old

Door number nine holds behind it… Glenfarclas 15 Year Old! George Grant joins us once again for #WhiskyAdvent, and if it’s heavy reading you’re after, this… isn’t it. A man…

Door number nine holds behind it… Glenfarclas 15 Year Old! George Grant joins us once again for #WhiskyAdvent, and if it’s heavy reading you’re after, this… isn’t it. A man of few words, as always.

If it’s a sherried Speysider you’re looking for, Glenfarclas is right up there as a go-to. The distillery only uses sherry-seasoned casks to mature its whisky in, and for good reason. It’s absolutely delicious, and it’s a combination that’s worked since 1836! If it ain’t broke, and all that…

Glenfarclas 15 Year Old is what some might call one of the ultimate Christmas drams, as it is almost literally Christmas cake in liquid, malt-based form. It’s also bottled at 46% ABV, for no other reason that because that’s the strength that George Grant’s grandfather preferred it at. 

Speaking of, we grabbed a few (literally) words from George Grant himself, head of sales and the 6th generation of the family behind the whisky. If you’re in a rush then no worries, this won’t take long! 

whisky advent glenfarclas

Master of Malt: Describe Glenfarclas 15 Year Old in three words. 

George Grant: Big, bold, delicious.

MoM: What’s your favourite way to drink Glenfarclas? 

GG: A double.

MoM: What can we expect from Glenfarclas in 2021? 

GG: It’s our 185th Anniversary of legal distilling.

MoM: It’s Christmas Eve, and you’re sitting down with a Glenfarclas dram. Which one is it? GG: Glenfarclas 25 Year Old. It’s Christmas, in a glass.

MoM: Besides classics like mulled wine and (obviously) whisky, what’s your favourite Christmas tipple

GG: Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill 2009, in magnum, of course.

whisky advent glenfarclas

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Intense, powerful sherry. Pedro Ximenez, perhaps? Almost… a touch of peppermint? An almost rancio quality to this. Smells older than 15.

Palate: Raisins, more sherry, orange peel, walnuts, dates.

Finish: Incredibly long, complex, more of the Walnuts again.

Overall: Water draws out sweetness. This is Christmas cake, not whisky. Simply astonishing.

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Top ten: Scotch whiskies under £50

From smoky single malts to the ultimate Highball blend, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get some seriously good Scotch whisky. Here are ten of our…

From smoky single malts to the ultimate Highball blend, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get some seriously good Scotch whisky. Here are ten of our favourites.

We love whisky at Master of Malt. Which means that everyone in the office has strong opinions on the subject so it was tricky to narrow this list down to just ten bottles. People are going to be upset that we didn’t include their favourite drams, especially Talisker 10, Laphroaig 10 or Bowmore 12. But we thought it would be a good idea to include alongside the old favourites some lesser-known whiskies as well as expressions that are so well-known you probably don’t notice them anymore. So without further ado, delay or general beating around the bush. Here are (some of) our favourite Scotch whiskies under £50. Tell us in the comments or on social why we should have included your dram of choice.

ardbeg-uigeadail-whisky

Ardbeg Uigeadail

Well, we had a bit of a discussion that got quite heated about which Ardbeg to include. The Ten would have been the obvious choice but instead we’ve gone with the spectacular Uigeadail ( pronounced “Oog-a-dal”) that melds the smoky lime-scented Ardbeg character with sweet sherry casks. And how!

What does it taste like?

There’s plenty of peat and smoke but it’s all wrapped up in muscovado sugar, honey and espresso coffee. Rich and pungent, Uigeadail is quite an experience.

arran-10-year-old-whisky

Arran 10 Year Old

This distillery was founded by former Chivas MD Harold Currie, the first on the isle of Arran on the West Coast since 1837. It might be the entry level whisky but this ten year old aged entirely in bourbon casks tastes pretty special, showing off the fruity, floral distillery character.

What does it taste like: 

Nutty and biscuity with fresh apple and lemon fruit plus floral summer hedgerow and honey notes. It’s packed full of character and really over delivers for the money.

balblair-12-year-old-whisky

Balblair 12 Year Old

Last year Balblair switched from vintage releases to a suitably impressive new range of age statements expressions. This is the baby of the bunch, aged in ex-bourbon and double-fired American oak casks, and it’s superb.

What does it taste like? 

The soft mango and peach distillery character really shines through, supported by spicy cedar and nutmeg, honey and barley. A great introduction to a great distillery. 

compass-box-spice-tree-whisky

Compass Box Spice Tree 

Originally made with oak staves which attracted the ire of the SWA, Spice Tree is now aged in especially-made casks with new French oak heads. It’s a stunning blend of Highland malts with the French oak adding masses of spice, hence the name. 

What does it taste like? 

Dried apricots, vanilla, cinnamon and toffee with pungent tobacco, cloves and pepper, it’s not called Spice Tree for nothing. Long, complex and totally harmonious. 

glenfarclas-10-year-old-whisky

Glenfarclas 10 Year Old

Glenfarclas is one of the very few family-owned distilleries in Scotland. That combined with its excellent sherry-soaked Speyside drams is why it is one of the the country’s best-loved distilleries. 

What does it taste like? 

On the nose there’s honey, toffee and Oloroso sherry. While the palate is full of baking spices with fruitcake, apples, nuts and even a little smoke.

glenmorangie-10-year-old-the-original-whisky

Glenmorangie 10 Year Old

We love the whole Glenmorangie range but it’s the 10 Year Old Original we keep coming back to. Entirely aged in ex-bourbon casks, it’s smooth, sweet and fruity but deceptively complex. No drinks cupboard should be without a bottle. 

What does it taste like? 

Full of lemons, nectarines and apples with vanilla, digestive biscuits and gentle baking spices. And honey! Lots and lots of honey. 

j-and-b-rare-whisky

J&B Rare 

J&B Rare is one of those whiskies so ubiquitous, you probably don’t even notice it behind the bar. Which is a shame because this is probably the ultimate Highball whisky. Just blend with soda, ice and maybe a dash of orange bitters for a refreshing pre-dinner drink. One sip and you’ll never go back to G&Ts.

What does it taste like? 

Yes, it’s light but there’s depth here too with appley fruit joined by richer notes of malt, cedar, vanilla and walnut with a lift of orange zest. Perfect with soda.

johnnie-walker-green-label-15-year-old-whisky

Johnnie Walker Green Label 15 Year Old

Well, we had to include something from Johnnie Walker. But rather than the Red or Black, we’ve gone with Green Label, a spectacular 15 year old all malt blend that combines whiskies from around Scotland. One to offer to people who say they only drink single malts.

What does it taste like? 

This is packed full of dark chocolate, oak spice, malty cereal notes, and coffee and walnut cake. An after-dinner whisky, if there ever was one. 

kilkerran-12-year-old-whisky

Kilkerran 12 Year Old

In 2004, Springbank reopened Glengyle distillery taking the number of working distilleries in Campbeltown to three. But Glen Scotia owns the Glengyle brand which is why this whisky is called Kilkerran. The quality is exceptional for the money and this expression has become something of a cult. 

What does it taste like? 

It melds citrus, cherries and orange peel with creamy vanilla, honey and butterscotch, with a saline note running through it. If you love the oily Springbank style, then you’ll adore this.

seaweed-and-aeons-and-digging-and-fire-10-year-old-whisky

Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 Year Old

An Islay single malt from an undisclosed distillery. The name makes sense as soon as you take a sip, it’s a smoky peaty Islay malt with 25% aged Oloroso sherry cask. This has proved an extremely popular malt with MoM customers.

What does it taste like? 

Does exactly what it says on the bottle: there’s woodsmoke, seaweed and charred meat combined with sweet sherry notes, red apple and vanilla. 

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