A rediscovered love for Islay’s whiskies

My pervious post was about several things, including (and mostly) how I have started loving Islay whiskies again. At some point I got done with the continued barrage of peated drams, but that’s no longer the case.

This is part just me changing my preferences again, but also because I’ve shifted to quality over quantity a bit more. Due to bottle sharing, and buying less but better, I’ve not gone through “yet another 2000s Caol Ila” (those can be good, but they can also be very boring). Instead, I’ve had the chance to try some truly awesome drams.

Where the previous post had some old Ardbeg, Feis Ile and Jazzy Lagavulins, and an old Caol Ila, this time we’re having quite a different line up. Or at least, some older, some younger, some old and young (not too long in the cask, but a bottling from yonder year).

Caol Ila 1984-2016, 32yo, Single Malts of Scotland for The Whisky Show Old & Rare, 50.2%

CaolIla1984

Image from Just-Whisky.de

One of the bottle shared ones that was bottled by Single Malts of Scotland for their second festival, called ‘The Whisky Show – Old & Rare’. An even more special festival focusing on ridiculously decadent whisky.

On the nose this one turns out to be a bit greener than expected. There’s a smokiness that’s slightly mezcal like, with a chemical hint. Some gasoline and slate. Moss and ferns, fresh leaves and even a hint of spirit.

The palate is pretty intense, even a tad sharper than expected for a thirty-two year old whisky. Quiet fresh and crips with fresh lemon, and candied lemon. Slightly fatty with a hint of bacon and smoke.

The finish is still somewhat sharp at the beginning, but mellows quickly. Some oak and a light herbaceousness. Plants and a very light smoke.

I’m not entirely sure what to think of this. As in, it’s a very good whisky, but it’s very different than what I expected, and very different from any other 30+ Caol Ila I’ve ever had. Initially I found this a bit of a downer, but as I got nearer to the end of my 10cl, I started liking it more and more.

89/100 points

The price has gone up by now. It’s available for 700 euros at Just Whisky.


 

Bowmore 17yo, Feis Ile 2016, Pedro Ximenez cask, 56.1%

Bowmore

Image from Whiskybase

A pretty decently aged Bowmore, from a fresh sherry cask, bottled for Feis Ile 2016. One that I was rather enthousiastic about when I found it in my sample box a while ago! Especially since it means this is bottled in the nineties, which is a pretty cracking period for Bowmore.

The first scents indicate a fairly strong whisky, with LOTS of sherry to it. A lot of big fruity scents follow with banana, dates and peach. Sweet fruits and soft oak scents. Slightly spicy, with oak and a light smoke. Not much spirit character to be found, though.

The palate is dry and sharp and sweet. Some peat smoke with oak and wood spices. Tree bark, sherry, but slightly more typical for an Islay whisky. Rich, and sharp.

The finish is dry with a coarse smoke. Long and sweet, with oak, spices and sherry. Some fruit too, but less than before.

Well, I’m not overly thrilled by this one. It sure is drinkable, but there’s so much sherry going on that it could be a lot of different distilleries instead of Bowmore and you’d never notice. I prefer my whiskies with a bit more spirit character that is not completely trumped by the oak.

86/100 points


 

Lagavulin for the Islay Jazz Festival 2016, 54.5%

Lagavulin Jazz 2016.jpg

Image from Best of Whiskies

The follow up the one I tried in the previous post. Another one that I bought for a bottle share, together with the new Ardbeg Kelpie (a review will follow later). Like the 2015 edition, it’s a whisky without an age indication, which is not something Lagavulin often does.

The nose is much heavier than I remember the 2015 to be. Warm and dark and wintry. Scents of mud and marram grass. Old oak and dunnage warehouses. There are some young edges, and a bit of green-ness to it.

Initially the palate is sharp and fierce, but with time it mellows a bit. It does get a bit drier too. Green with moss and ferns. Oak, campfire with earthy notes and straw. Dirt and dunnage warehouses. Slightly sweet later on.

The aftertaste is quite rich and a tad lighter. It’s long and dry with straw and marram again. That earthy, muddy dunnage scent is there again too.

Well, to be honest, this is a cracker! Much better than the 2015 version if you ask me. Truly good whisky with a nice and young edge, but quintessential Lagavulin.

90/100 points.

Available for 255 euros at Best of Whiskies


 

Laphroaig Cairdeas 2015, Madeira Hogshead, 51.6%

Laph

Image from Whiskybase

Generally, I’m not a fan of the Cairdeas’. This year’s edition is a stronger version of Laphroaig’s Quarter Cask, of which I’m no fan either. Add to that that there was a port cask which was quite horrendous a few years ago and you might understand why I sold the couple bottles of different editions that I collected. Then this one came with the ‘buy a sample of each Feis Ile bottling’ pack…

On the nose it’s sweet with a very lightly spicy fortified wine scent. Slightly nutty with hazelnuts and walnuts, without the dryness of those. The sweet peat kind that I’ve found before in Laphroaig. Quite young, but also not without some layers of flavor. Straw, oak, and some sharp smoke.

The flavor of coarse smoke hits first, then there’s oak and sweetness. Some ash, nuts and an earthy hint. Slightly spicy with wood spices. Pepper and a certain richness.

The finish is fairly simple and even slightly weak compared to the palate and nose. Still rich, but not as layered or flavorful.

Well, it’s better than I expected. Generally those fortified wines are a bit of a shot in the dark with most of them not being great. This one is pretty good though. More of a  drinking than a tasting wihsky though.

86/100 points


I was planning to do one more review, but that one is such a ridiculously special dram to me that I’m going to do a more specific review for it.

Posted in Bowmore, Caol Ila, Lagavulin, Laphroaig | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Islay, a baby and Twitter

20170527_193753It’s been two weeks since I’ve blogged. In those two weeks quite a lot has happened, varying from major life changing things to unimportant things that are fun to yap about.

Baby

On May 17th, our third child, Cato, was born. So far it’s been smooth sailing with her and she sleeps rather well, only wanting to eat/drink once per night.

The now middle kid is turning three in August, and I had already forgotten how tiny newborns are. Luckily, not everything is forgotten so a lot of things (diapers and such) can be done on auto pilot.

Twitter

About two weeks ago, maybe a little bit longer, I’ve decided to stop using Twitter. I wasn’t getting anything from it and my obsessive-compulsory treat kept me checking it several times per day sifting through nothing that wasn’t also in news feeds or on Facebook.

For that reason I’ve uninstalled all apps for it, and the only thing that’s still happening there regarding MaltFascination is the auto-post of every article. Apart from that, I’m not checking anything. If you want to get in touch, please use Facebook, or the comments on the blog!

Islay

Then, the most whisky related thing in this post! I’ve said it before a while ago, but recently I’ve been rediscovering my love for Islay whiskies. Of course, being the spoiled brat that I am I’m not talking about Caol Ila Moch, Laphroaig Select and the likes.

Honestly, I don’t really care about these drams. I find them too fiery with little or no balance and depth. However, with a bit of money to use in bottle-shares, there is some exquisite whisky coming from the Queen of the Hebrides.

Also, my Facebook timeline being flooded with pictures and messages from yet another Feis Ile I’m not attending might have something to do with it…

To celebrate the birth of Cato I dug through my sample stash and picked a few things I’ve been keeping for a special occasion, and one I should have tried before but hadn’t. Let’s do some reviews!

Lagavulin Feis Ile 2016Lagavulin Feis Ile 2016, 18yo, 49.5%

The Lagavulin that was released during Feis Ile for their 200th anniversary was matured in refill American Oak and European Oak sherry casks.

On the nose I got notes of bonfire, which means charcoal, burned grass and straw and wood. Quite a lot of peat and smoke, with hints of vanilla, thyme and brine. The palate has some bite and shows flavors straw, smoke and peat. There are hints of oak, salt and sand, with quite a rich texture. Some minor hints of tar and wooden fishing boats. The finish is slightly more salty, but softer and warmer. Rich and long with a lighter smokiness.

An amazing dram by any standard. Absolutely gorgeous regarding the layers of flavors and no overpowering smoke that leaves no room for other flavors and scents to shine. Top notch stuff, this!

91/100


 

Lagavulin Jazz 2015Lagavulin Jazz Festival 2015, 55.4%

This one is a lot more fierce than the 18 year old above. This one shows lots of oak and smoke on the nose. There’s salted lemon and notes of pastry. Malt, and hints of kippers, vanilla and a light herbaceousness. The palate is sharp with vanilla, lemon sorbet and lime juice. Some sugar, and a woody edge. Peat, smoke and basalt. The finish is an explosion of peat and smoke. Lots of flavor with a salty edge.

Another very good whisky, but a little less deep and layered. Still, very enjoyable.

89/100

 

 

 

 


 

12157_bigArdbeg 25, 1991-2016, 49.8%, The Duchess, Shieldmaiden Series ‘Malin’

I got this sample from Nils, who works at Best of Whiskies, which is also the company behind The Duchess, the bottler. They’re a relatively new bottler, but they have put the bar ridiculously high for themselves and therefore aren’t bottling many things at all.

The nose shows a malty sweetness, with ‘old’ lemon, smoke and chamois leather. Almost like a good Port Ellen. A light smokiness with hints of salinity and marshmallows. An older style smoke, but without the oak being overpowering. The palate is richer and slightly sharper than I expected. Smooth and sweet with marshmallows. Hints of white pepper, salty smoke. Some dried apples, simple syrup and hints of brine. The finish is rich and smooth, with lots of heavy smoke. No overpowering smoke, but a heavy smoke. Long and slightly spicy.

Dear god this is good. The most luxurious of the whiskies I’ve tried in this batch, and we’re not even done. The balance and depth is incredible and it shows the vastly great side of Ardbeg. A very expensive bottle, but I can sort of understand where the money goes.

92/100


 

96110-bigCaol Ila 1978-2002, 23yo, 61.7%, Rare Malts Selection

A sample I pulled from the box of things-to-get-to-someday, and I have no idea from whom I got this (sorry for that). Obviously, this fits this tasting nicely, so here it goes!

There’s the classic smoke and oak on the nose. But I also get a surprising amount of red fruits. Blackberries and blueberries, with vanilla crumble, so custard and sweet pastry. Far more complex than expected. The palate is very dry and very sharp. There’s sweetness with vanilla and lots of fruit again. The oak is toned down and the whisky shows the creaminess of Caol Ila with some smoke. A bit more gentle than contemporary Caol Ila on the smoke. The finish is dry and sweet with a little bit of heavy smoke.

Yet another cracker from on of my favorite distilleries. The style of whisky that got me hooked initially, some 14 (?) years ago. Good on a level that I even tried to get a bottle in auction this weekend. Of course, I wasn’t ready to shell out the money required for this kind of stuff nowadays.

90/100

Posted in - News and Announcements, Ardbeg, Caol Ila, Lagavulin | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A rum bottle share

A little while ago I decided I wanted to do a rum bottle share. I kept reading about rums on Whiskyfun’s Malternative Sundays and wanted to get some more ‘knowledge’ about these Caribbean spirits too.

I rounded up a couple of fellow sharers, and bought a few bottles of rum. I picked in a semi random way, with a few criteria:

  • Both from bottlers and distilleries
  • No two from the same country
  • No two from the same bottler
  • A variety of ages

I ended up with a rum from Haiti, Cuba, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados and St. Lucia. After a few weekends I’ve written tasting notes for all of them and I thought it was high time to send those out into the world.

Barbancourt 8yo, 43% (Haiti)

According to Ian Williams’ “Rum” Barbancourt is the only company in Haiti actually making a profit. Reason enough for me to include this rum in the bottle share for the entry level one.

On the nose it’s sweet and sugary. Some spirit too, with no apparent wood influence. Quite green and grassy (cane-y?). The palate is sweet and quite smooth. Slightly hot, sugar and golden syrup. Ever so slightly bitter and young.

Well, it’s drinkable, but it is definitely not a convincing drink. Boring and too young.

Foursquare 12yo, 45% (Barbados, Compagnie des Indes)
Single cask BD92, 06-2003 / 10-2015

I didn’t have a particular reason to pick this one, except that I really liked the design of the bottle. Sometimes that’s good enough if you have no clue at all.

The nose is sweet with a bit more oak than the Barbancourt. Some fruit, coconut and orange, but also that green cane-like scent. The palate is light, dry and fruity. A slight bitterness again, and a tropical richness.

It’s a tad feinty and therefore a bit heavier. Some overripe fruit, sweetness and dryness. It’s not bad, and MUCH better than the Barbancourt.

20170507_173325

Caroni 1998-2015, 40%, (Trinidad & Tobago, Bristol Classic Rum)

I added this because I heard a lot about Caroni. It’s a closed distillery and that is always an appealing thing for whisky fanatics.

Initially it’s dry on the nose, but also rich. Old fruit, oak, plants and spices. Slightly salty and there’s a heavy spiciness, a bit soupy. The palate is rich, sweet, dry with cinnamon sticks, straw and oak.

Less sweet and more layered than the previous two. However, it does get a bit gluey after a while. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make it sligthly unlikely to have more than one glass on an evening.

Sancti Spiritus 18yo, 46% (Cuba, Ultimatum Rum)
Single cask, 01-1999 / 24-02-2017

I picked this one because a) it’s from a Dutch bottler who has made quite a name for itself in whisky (Ultimate), and b) Sancti Spiritus is just a clever name, which I like.

Bitter caramel on the nose, ever so slightly burnt. Some tobacco and caramac bars (so a tad milky). The palate is quite woody (not too strange after 18 years) and a bit bitter. Not too sweet and ‘older’.

Quite nice, but missing a bit of depth to make it really good.

Undisclosed Distillery 2001, 45% (St. Lucia, Plantation)

Well, I was a bit weary of a St. Lucia rum. I’ve had one before and thought it was utterly foul. I decided I wanted to have another go, and to show there’s quite a bit of diversity to rum too.

Oh this sure is funky and feinty. Much more so than the Caroni. Green and sweet, but also lots of putty. Leather, oak. Very weird but not unenjoyable (at first). Slightly chemical though. Tingling on the palate with some chili pepper. There’s something fresh and crisp in there too, but the putty keeps it back. Dry, spices and some heat. Forest floor, with dirt and leaves and such.

Yup, it’s weird. I started with a ‘oh this isn’t so bad’, but I didn’t finish my glass in the end. It’s just a little bit too weird for me.

Diamond 18yo, 46% (Guyana, Kill Devil)

The most expensive one of the bunch. I read some good reviews of Diamond Distillery’s rums on Whiskyfun. Also, awesome design and an older rum in the share, to go with the Cuban one.

The nose is sweet and crisp, with some oak and plant-like scents. Sugar cane, some wood spices, ferns and forest floor. The palate is smooth and rich, with a creamy texture. Oak, and brown sugar.

It’s not the most interesting or eye-opening rum of the bunch, but it sure is good! Seriously liked this one, and the only one of the bunch of which I regretted to finish my sample.

20170514_110437

My thoughts

Rum has been quite hyped on the internet as the more affordable alternative to whisky. I think, based on these rums and my minor previous experience with it, there is quite some diversity in rum too, but it’s just not as layered and deep as whisk(e)y.

Also, while there are some affordable rums out there, the really good ones are still a hundred bucks, and for that money I can think of a whisky to buy every day of the week.

In short, I really liked the Kill Devil and I didn’t mind the Sancti Spiritus and Caroni. I am, however, not convinced. Of all the non-whisky bottle shares I’ve done over the last couple of years I think this one is the least convincing (albeit more diverse than the Armagnac one).

Of course, I realize there is some awesome stuff out there and I should keep trying every now and again. That’s why I got a bottle of Dictador’s Best of 1976, a 40 year old rum, in another bottle share. I’ve had a sip of that, and I doubt I can find a better whisky at that price. That stuff is stunning!

Posted in - Rum | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Three sherry casks for The Netherlands

A couple of months ago, Whisky Import Nederland, released three new whiskies from their First Cask series. Whisky Import Nederland (WIN) is known for importing a lot of bottlers and brands, BOX whisky, Hunter Laing, Adelphi, Armorik, Berry Brothers & Rudd, Blackadder, Creative Whisky Company and others.

They released these three new single casks under a new label and new bottles for their First Cask series and I decided to do a bottle share with them. In the release was a 14 year old Bruichladdich, a 24 year old Speyside (distillery, not region) and a 26 year old Strathmill.

While labeling the samples I did it wrong, obviously. The region is printed in a large font on the label and I put the Speyside labels on the one which said Speyside. Their Speyside was the region, while the distillery (which I thought I was labeling) is in the Highlands. Of course. To keep things simple.

16602429_1277489332318522_450044806033241153_o

Strathmill Distillery, 26 years old, distilled 1990, 53.6%

ABV wise this is the low end. Age wise, it’s the high. The nose of this whisky is heavy and fruity. Lots of sherry and old oak with leather and dried plums and dates. All on a solid malty background. The palate is dry with lots of oak (lots lots) and not as smooth as I expected (this is not necessarily a bad thing). Sweet sherry, dried plums and dates. Some bitter almonds, lots of malt and treacle. The finish is long and sweet, with lots of fruit, malt and oak.

A whisky that combines oak, malt and sherry very well. As in, the cask, the materials and the cask’s previous contents are all quite noticeable. But, I can’t say I have an inkling of an idea what Strathmill tastes like now. Still, good whisky!

Speyside Distillery, 24 years old, distilled 1991, 62%

Yes, this one has the second lowest ABV… After twenty-four years it is still at 62%. That either means this was one of the most dense casks ever, or they put it in the cask at a ways above the normal 63.5% Either way, old whisky, high ABV.

The nose is thick with sherry with lots of overripe fruit. Slightly waxy with resin and barley. Some notes of ethanol and some chili peppers. The palate is sharp and fiery with oak and fruit. Some peach, apricot. Also some almonds and stewed black cherries. On the finish it’s surprisingly spirity. Dry with old wood and sweet. Slightly spicy, and quite long.

I read that someone thought this was a totally forgettable Speysider. I think that’s a bit harsh, mostly because of the lovely resin-y notes on the nose. I love that stuff. However, I didn’t find these notes on the palate or finish.

Bruichladdich Distillery, 14 years old, distilled 2002, 64.6%

I have recently rediscovered my love for Bruichladdich’s whiskies, although I have to say that is based mostly on bottlings a bit older than this one. However, it was the one that made me decide to do this bottle-share.

This is different from the get go. The nose gives quite salty sherry. Some dried fruits like dried mango and pineapple. Rather tropical, but also ‘northernly’ with the dry malt, oak and salinity. In a way it has a bit of a tar like scent too. Slightly dirty. The palate is dry, and very sharp (no shit, at almost 65% abv!). Dry with oak, some fruits and a slight bitterness. Almonds, cherry stones, tree bark. A lot of heat from the alcohol but also some chili pepper. Big flavors! The finish gives a lot more fruit. Dry mango and other fruits. Peaches, apricots, the yellow/orange stuff! Very dry, with lots of old, moldy wood. An almond like bitterness again.
I’m not sure what I expected from this one going in, but I sure as hell liked it. My favorite of the three, although they are all rather enjoyable. It might handle some water since the ABV is ridiculously high. I had it neat because it wasn’t my first dram and I was, let’s say, warmed up. Still, the salt, sherry and even the note of tar worked very well for me. Kudos!
So, three enjoyable whiskies, with one standing a bit above the others. I think the Speyside and Strathmill are on par with each other.
My scores would be
Strathmill: 87 points
Speyside: 87 points
Bruichladdich: 89 points.
Posted in Bruichladdich, Speyside, Strathmill | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Diageo Special Releases 2017

Weird. I’ve already been planning a whisky tasting and a trip to Scotland for 2018. Because of that, when I saw someone post the ‘Diageo Special Releases 2017’ I was mainly confused to why someone would post last year’s list.

Obviously, I’m a douche and I should pay more attention. But here’s a list of what’s coming:

https://fosm.de/diageo-special-releases-2017-spoiler-alarm/

Content from FOSM.de, as linked above

  • BLAIR ATHOL 23 year old
    Distilled 1993 ABV 58.4%
    Region: Highlands
    Cask: Ex-Bodega European Oak Butts
    No of bottles: 5,514
  • BRORA 34 year old
    Distilled: 1982 ABV 51.9%
    Region: Coastal Highlands
    Cask: Refill American Oak Hogsheads
    No of bottles: 3,000
  • CAOL ILA 18 year old
    ABV 59.8%
    Region: Islay
    Cask: Refill American Oak Hogsheads
    Limited quantities available worldwide
  • CONVALMORE 32 year old
    Distilled: 1984 ABV 48.2%
    Region: Speyside
    Cask: Refill American Oak Hogsheads
    No of bottles: 3,972
  • GLEN ELGIN 18 year old
    Distilled: 1998 ABV 54.8%
    Region: Speyside
    Cask: Ex-Bodega European Oak Butts
    No of bottles: 5,352
  • LAGAVULIN 12 year old
    ABV 56.5%
    Region: Islay
    Cask: Refill American Oak Hogsheads
    Limited quantities available worldwide
  • PORT DUNDAS 52 year old
    Distilled: 1964 ABV 44.6%
    Region: Lowlands
    Cask: Refill American Oak Hogsheads
    No of bottles: 752
  • PORT ELLEN 37 year old
    Distilled: 1979 ABV 51%
    Region: Islay
    Cask: Refill American Oak Hogsheads & Refill American Oak Butts
    No of bottles: 2,988
  • TEANINICH 17 year old
    Distilled: 1999 ABV: 55.9%
    Region: Coastal Highlands
    Cask: Refill American Oak Hogsheads & Refill American Oak Barrels
    Limited quantities available worldwide

 

I’m very excited about some of these. Mostly because Diageo generally chooses awesome whiskies, and some of the ones on this list are not ridiculously old. As in, I might even be able to afford them! Glen Elgin, Teaninich, and maybe one that’s not been announced yet!

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Bad-ass Whisky Night #2 at De Whiskykoning

Last year I thought it was a good idea to organize a whisky tasting at Whiskyslijterij De Koning in Den Bosch. We already held an annual ‘winter whisky tasting’ there in November, with a line-up of six peated whiskies, focusing on Islay.

This ‘Bad-ass Whisky Night’ had a more random raison d’être. We just wanted an evening on which Rob Stevens would spoil us with some awesome drams. We gave him free reign on the line-up and just set a price limit.

It resulted in a truly bad-ass whisky night. Reason enough to do that a second time (and a third one is already planned for 2018). The line-up was kept secret until the tasting started, but there were some hints on oldest and youngest, years
of distillation and bottling. Nothing to go by though.

The whiskies then!

17855350_10154967820161210_6519841955574048059_oRedbreast 21yo, 46%

The first one from Ireland, and a great way to kick off the evening. A tremendously flavorful whiskey with sweetness and crispness, more punch than you’d initially expect and without an overload of the chemical winegum sweetness a lot of older Irish whiskeys have. Slightly bitter and more oaky towards the finish.


17917587_10154967846961210_8393480567328508395_oCarsebridge 1982-2017, 48.8%, Signatory Vintage

An older grain whisky, which happened to be a first for many attendees for the distillery. Luckily the ABV isn’t too high, which gives the whisky a bit more room for flavor. Lots of dusty old grains with a touch of crispness on the palate. Even for someone who is generally not a fan of grain whiskies, a pretty good dram!


17855402_10154967881701210_67707880634429074_oSpeymalt 1988-2016, 43%, Gordon & MacPhail (Macallan)

An older sherried Macallan of which you don’t see many anymore. Sweet caramel and some shoe polish. Minor hints of citrus. Richer than I expected from a 43% Macallan with some hints of latté and coffee.


17834064_10154967942231210_1741051014235439499_oGlenglassaugh 1986-2015, 46%,Gordon & MacPhail’s Rare Old

Now this one. This whisky. Oh my friggin’ god. This does everything right and with a dram that showcases why older bourbon casks are prize casks, or should be. Old style whisky with quiet wood notes, spices and pastry dough. A shame it’s so expensive, because this is 92/93 point stuff.


17917739_10154967985196210_1525338123749445007_oAmrut Rye, 50%

Maybe the biggest surprise of the evening, and the one that drew the most raised eyebrows when it was revealed. It does the traditional rye trick with a rather sharp spiciness and some spirity youth it shows, and carries, well. Very well balanced, even so much so that my father in law started to doubt whether he liked this more than Sazerac 18.


17966667_10154968014981210_869794756057882270_oCaol Ila 1982-1995, 62.9%, SMWS (53.9)

And, like last year, a younger Caol Ila from around 1980 that was pulled from the shelf for the tasting (and will be used in upcoming tastings in the shop). A belter from the SMWS at 62.9% alcohol. Not unlike the SMWS in current times, there’s some weird description on the label. This one went for briny apricots or sometihng. They were not wrong.

It’s a tremendous whisky with a heavy and old smoke. Quite like you expect from Caol Ila it’s a bit of a machine smoke instead of just clean peat or wood. Diesel, oak, salt and dried apricots. Kaboom!


If, next year, the level of the tasting is going to be anything like it was this time and last time, we’re going to be happy campers, since this is a tasting that is unlikely to be topped before March 2018.

My favorite was the Glenglassaugh, but you know you’re at a next level tasting when the most uninteresting whisky is a twenty-eight year old Macallan from a sherry cask…

Thanks a million, Rob!

Posted in - Grain Whisky, - Rye Whiskey, - World Whisky, Amrut, Caol Ila, Carsebridge, Glenglassaugh, Macallan, Redbreast | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On BrewDog

Obviously this is not a post on whisky. Although it might be in a couple of years since BrewDog is building or having a distillery. I’m not sure since there are some planning issues but they do have a vodka and gin available, and some random whisky with a fancy label.

This is about the announcement from the BrewDog AGM last weekend that 22% of the company is sold to some venture capitalist called TSG Group, from San Francisco.

While it is not necessarily a surprise that BrewDog was going corporate, it does strike me as odd, since BrewDog was (is?) a company that is very proud of the punk-ness. Whatever that means.

Only a year and a half ago they slammed Lagunitas for selling out to Heineken. Admittedly, Lagunitas sold a majority share, instead of 22%. And that 22% is, according to Pete Brown’s post on it, still less than the founders have individually.

brewdog_logo_detailHonestly, I don’t even really have an opinion on the fact that they ‘sold out’. I should have seen it coming when they started suing random companies that may or may not have used one of their trademarks. They even tried to ban some booze company from using the work punk, which seems to me as a very non-punk thing to do.

The point that strikes me as most odd in this entire situation is that BrewDog was, in the past, so feverishly against external investors that were not part of their Equity Punk scheme. They were against corporate participation in ‘craft’ breweries. They were against big-beer. By now it seems, though, that they have become big beer themselves, with hundreds of employees, a couple dozen bars all over the world and a second brewery in the USA.

The point is, regarding all this, that it just doesn’t suit the way they market themselves. I understand the reasons behind selling a part of the company. I understand the drive to keep growing and expanding. I do not understand how you can keep claiming to be punk, independent and against a lot of things when you’re part of it.

Especially since a lot of BrewDog fans (like me) liked them initially for their grassroots business and for them to not be part of the establishment (which, admittedly, they have become part of quite some time ago).

Just my two cents.

I won’t be boycotting anything BrewDog now, but I might think twice where to spend my money. Especially since I think a lot of BrewDog’s non-standard beers are a bit too expensive. If I’m buying anything ‘craft’y, I just might spend it on the little guy…

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