Friday, 30 August 2013

Tomatin Vertical

I recently attended a tasting with the Birmingham Whisky Club.  I happened to be in Birmingham for work and this coincided.  I ended up having a fantastic evening, met some great people and discovered my favourite distillery, Tomatin.  And I also had to extend my scoring system!

Tomatin are a Highland distillery with an interesting history including being the largest in Scotland for a time, and were bought by a Japanese corporation in the 80s.  Most of the distillate is used for blends including some of their own, but the single malt is beautifully balanced and fruited.  All the whiskies start in Makers Mark and Buffalo Trace bourbon casks. 

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Glen Garioch – Virgin Oak

This is a limited release that I bought on the strength of another virgin oak cask whisky that needs a bit of time for me to process and get my head around – however I enjoyed the (very expensive) other whisky so much I went for this untasted. 

All in all I think a bit of a subtle number for my tastes, but wears its heart on its sleeve.

Notes on the bottle are as follows:

Made from the inner heartwood of 100 year old oak trees, grown in the North American mountains, each barrel has been heavily charred inside to activate the wood’s vanilla and oak spices in readiness for the maturing spirit. 

Glen Garioch Virgin Oak – 48% - A


Nose – Savoury pastry with buttered malt.  Bit of an odd, rotten edge with a cherry background and some spicy mixed fruit.  There’s something a bit musky here which is a bit sexy and a bit off putting.  Interesting and weird, like truffles on pasta, I like it.

Body – Toasted malt and bread, very hot.  Some water opens up a more delicately fruity body which is quite elegantly savoury.

Finish – Medium with the same funk from the nose.  A little too short to be truly interesting.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Nikka – Whisky from the barrel

Nikka Whisky From The Barrel, 51.4%,  A⊕



I heard about this whisky on the famous Joe Ellis’ Whisky Wednesday vlog at and then when it was on offer at, I took the chance to buy a couple of bottles.  I’d honestly never tried a Japanese whisky before, and met a few people at the recent Tomatin tasting in Birmingham who were raving about Yamazaki, so just went for it.  I was very glad I did, this is an awesome whisky, especially for a no-age-statement blend.  Very well recommended.

japan_nik10Nose -  Sweet, robust, beautiful and elegant, with mango and permanent marker.  Savoury back note, stunning.

Body – Deep oak and robust but well integrated peat.  Loads of backbone.  Woo smoke and fruit, stunning.

Finish – Long, smoke and beautifully oaked. Balanced and flawless finish.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Arran Blind Tasting

Arran looked like the kind of whisky I’d like from the reviews but I hadn’t tried any until they released and I bought the Devil’s Punchbowl 2.  This sold out in about 20 minutes, I didn't really have chance to taste it before taking the plunge.  I thought it was (think it is) excellent but the power of the blind tasting (remove marketing, experience the whisky naked) showed it up against its peers, particularly (and gallingly) the Devil’s Punchbowl 1.  On the back of that purchase I also went for the Whisky Club’s exclusive 15 year old bottling, which is stunning.  Armed with these two I thought I’d go for the vertical with the Whisky Tasting Club’s Arran tasting ( which also has the now (of course) unavailable DP1.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Glenfiddich Blind Tasting

Glenfiddich and Iain Banks is where I started with Scotch whisky.  I read Iain’s book “Raw Spirit” when I heard about his terminal illness.  His review of the Glenfiddich 21 yo Gran Reserva Rum Cask Finish was enough to make me buy a bottle – and at over £80 a bottle it was the most expensive bottle of whisky I’d bought, of any kind, and I fell in love with it.  5 years ago+ I used to drink scotch but with ice, I now know that was all wasted money and time – ice destroys whisky.  5 years ago I switched to bourbon and ice and was enjoying that.  Iain’s book made me try good scotch without ice and nothing’s been the same since, I now get it.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Laphroaig Blind Tasting

This was my first tasting from the whisky tasting club:
There are a few places you can get “tastings”. Master of Malt do tasting sets, just pick the set and order it.  They typically charge you double the cost of the whisky and that covers their posh wax sealed 3cl bottles and P&P.  They have a really good range.  Flaviar want you to sign up for tastings on a regular basis – they’re really hooked into social media and you get money off for FB posting or tweeting when you buy from them, which I have a fair bit due to the deals on whisky.  The Flaviar tasting sets then take some time to arrive as they take all orders before shipping but its a cool service and a great offering with whisky at serious discounts.  This one from the whisky tasting club is simple but I like the format – you get 5 5cl plastic bottles in a slim box that fits through your letterbox so you don’t have to be in to receive it.  I like the 5cl bottles, it gives you enough for a proper tasting and a bit to come back to another day.  And the guys running it are just university lecturers who are doing it because they love it.  Anyway, onto the tasting: