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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It’s been quiet

And that’s not without a reason.

Busy

Over the last couple of months I’ve not been blogging as much as before, and the simple reason for that is that I’ve not had the time/priority. A lot of DIY construction has been going on at home, which means the weekends were full (and then some). This also resulted in an abundance of chores and things to do during week nights and that, in turn, resulted in not much time for blogging.

Over the last couple of months I’ve also ended my editor-in-chief role for our whisky club’s magazine, which is a huge relief. I didn’t particularly enjoy having that role anymore because I couldn’t give it the time, attention and priority the magazine and the club deserved.

Generally a day of ‘hard labor’ insulating, wallpapering, sanding, painting and floor-laying results in me having a few beers with whoever helped me out that day. The consequence of that was that I have not been drinking much whisky at all. And, on top of that, when I did drink a dram I simply drank a dram. Contrary to properly assessing it and writing tasting notes.

bottles

I prefer these to be fun…

Get in or get out

After coming to the conclusion of me wanting to enjoy whisky more instead of it being a chore or ‘work-like’, I had to make a decision. This happened when the latest ‘De Kiln’ from our whisky club came in. In it the new editor-in-chief wrote a headline which loosely translates to ‘Whisky: get in or get out‘. While I will spare you the explanation of what he meant, it did get me thinking (a rarity, nowadays).

By not continuously writing tasting notes, I’ve actually enjoyed the drams I’ve had more. With the vast amount of samples I’m trying to get through I have to write tasting notes because that’s the purpose of them. Also, after one glass of something, the sample is gone.

This is different for bottle-shares, but these 3cl to 5cl ‘commercial’ samples are legion in my cupboard, and I don’t really enjoy them as much as I should. Some 90-point exceptions are there of course, but as soon as it gets to an 87 point dram, or something equally arbitrary, it’s just another dram and it feels like a chore.

Am I getting out?

No. I like whisky too much and I like (parts of) the whisky ‘world’ too much. I sincerely love discovering new drams and new flavors.

Am I shutting down the blog?

No. Although I won’t be reviewing everything I try anymore. I am going to focus on the outstanding drams. I am not going to spend precious time reviewing a lot of so-so whisky, just to get a review online.

What am I going to do then?

Focus, and slow down. Focus on quality over quantity, both in what I drink and what I write about. Slowing down in frequency and in intake. Drink better but less. Buy less, but not necessarily better since I’m pretty satisfied with the quality of booze I buy.

I also have to steer away from staples like the Talisker 10 I bought recently. It’s an amazing dram for the money, but I’m not likely to ever drink it.

And, with a third kid on the way, I doubt there’s going to be much spare time for whisky tasting anyway…

Sorry. Not Sorry.

Sorry if you read all through this rambling. It’s more of a contemplative post and I’ve not done these in a while. I just needed to get it out there.

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Glenrothes 1989-2016, 26yo, 53.8% – Single Malts of Scotland

It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve put anything on this here blog, but there’s going to be more on that in a future post. Hopefully the near future.

This Glenrothes was bottled by the guys at Speciality Drinks Limited, and contrary to most Glenrothes’ you know, it was aged in a bourbon cask. A hogshead in this case. The general consensus among a lot of people I know is that Glenrothes makes some good whisky, but generally they sell those casks to bottlers and only bottle rather shit whisky themselves.

Of course, someone is going to think “But this one I had from the distillery itself was pretty amazing”, but most of their vintages and NAS releases are far below par. Believe me. It’s true.

So, contrary to the rather bland official releases, let’s dive in to this quite amazing dram!

grssdl1989v2Sniff:
On the nose I first got a major hit of malted barley, but there was something fresh too. Some mint, and even chocolate (After Eight, anyone?). Also some cough candy and some salmiac. After that I got oak, an increasing amount of oak.

Sip:
The palate is rather smooth, more smooth than I expected for the ABV. There’s some punch though, it’s not all velvet. Oaky and quite dry with some dried baking spices. Also some white and red pepper. Oak, mint, menthol. A bitter edge too.

Swallow:
The finish is very old fashioned, classical. Quite rich with malt, mint and oak. Quite long too.

Well, I wasn’t too sure about this when I poured it, but boy this is an awesome dram. Maybe my favorite of the bunch so far (I’ve still got two Ledaigs to go). The whisky is quite complex with lots of gorgeous flavors and scents.

Sincerely a highly recommended dram. It’s a shame I’ve been overspending on all ends, and work on the house is taking up every bit of cash I would normally have, or a bottle would have been on its way by now.

90/100

Glenrothes 1989-2016, 26yo, Bourbon Hogshead #8172, 53.8%, bottled by Single Malts of Scotland and available from The Whisky Exchange for £ 115

Thanks to Speciality Drinks Limited for sending a sample!

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Millstone 2013-2016, Peated PX Cask, 56.6% – OB for Whisky in Leiden

Whisky in Leiden is the annual whisky festival hosted by Whiskysite.nl, or De Druiventuin, or whatever their exact name is. They’re an awesome and vast whisky shop in, you guessed it, Leiden.

Ever since Whisky Live NL moved back to The Hague they’ve been hosting the festival in the Pieterskerk. They also bottle at least one single cask of whisky, this year they even have two.

This Millstone bottling, from the Zuidam distillery in The Netherlands is last year’s release. It’s only three years old and could technically even be only two. Add to that that it a peated whisky from a PX cask, and you know you’re in for a wild ride.

144645-big

Image from WhiskyBase

Sniff:
There’s lots of oak, lots of sherry and quite a young spirity-ness. None of this is surprising. It’s bitter and sweet, with tobacco, charcoal, peat and dried prunes. Some cork, soil, and coffee beans. A rather clunky whisky.

Sip:
The palate is not as sharp as you’d expect, but it does have a serious bite. Lots of oak and peat, smoke and sherry. Sweet, with fruit and soil. So earthy too, with malt. Some mushrooms and beefy notes. Mocha beans.

Swallow:
The finish shows the youth of the whisky again, with lots of spirit. Sweet and fruity, plus all of the above.

There is so much happening in this whisky that there is absolutely no balance. Also, this whisky is quite boorish, so to say.

When this came out last year I bought it for a bottle share that only sold some three shares, so I had 40cl to drink myself. I only started to do that recently with my friend JPH when we were playing Magic: The Gathering till 3 AM. It works really well if you’re not paying a lot of attention. It demands some attention at least, and makes you realize that it’s a really great whisky to just sit, drink and enjoy.

While this whisky would’t really be the star of the show if you sit at a formal tasting in which you really start assessing a dram and looking for depth and balance. And while there’s not much depth, or balance, there is flavor by the boat load. Therefore it actually is a great little whisky.

I sincerely had fun drinking this, and finishing the bottle last weekend. I hope there’ll be more of this kind of stuff from the Zuidam family. As I once remarked with the most recent Malt Maniacs Awards: I should pay far more information to Zuidam’s whiskies.

86/100

Millstone 2013-2016, Peated PX Cask, 56.6%, OB for Whisky in Leiden 2016.

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Music in 2016

 

Normally I do these lists in the week between Christmas and New Year, but this year I only wrote a post about my Whisky of the Year in that week. This happened, in part, because I kept discovering new music in the last couple of weeks of the year, which I couldn’t listen to enough before writing a list. The biggest reason however, was that I got a bit tired of writing things since I was doing a lot of that for our club’s magazine.

So, yesterday I was talking to my friend TT about this and I decided I’m going to write the annual music top X list today. Last year was a year with quite a few releases that peaked my interest, but unfortunately it also was a year of records that didn’t really deliver.

The ones I had high hopes for but just didn’t really keep me interested were, for example, released by PJ Harvey, Regina Spektor, Bon Iver, The Veils, Marissa Nadler (x2), St. Paul & The Broken Bones and some others. Most of these records were pretty good, but just not as good as what came before.

Unlike last year where I could only select a top 7 and give a lot of others a shared eighth position, this year I am almost back to having a top ten. I’m almost at a top 10, but the tenth record I had initially selected is one that I’ve not spent enough time listening to, to justify it being in the list.


Initially I had written a paragraph about being back to ten records in my list. Then I decided to kick #10 out, because it felt that a lot of random records could fill that spot.

I wrote a new paragraph about there being nine, instead of seven last year. After that, while writing the entries below, I suddenly remembered a record that I recently discovered and have been listening to a lot, but somehow had not added to my Spotify list (which is my main source of this endeavor).

So, I should actually rewrite, or ctrl-Z enough to get my ‘we’re back to ten records’ paragraph back, but that would mean risking the loss of everything that’s below. So, sod it.

#10 Applewood Road – Applewood Road

I’m one-upping myself once again. In 2014 I had quite few country records in my list. Last year that went down a bit, but this I seem to be back at that. Applewood Road is a bit folky, a  bit bluegrass-y (since it’s quite sparse and recorded around a single microphone) and quite lovely.

 

#9 Fantastic Negrito – The Last Days of Oakland

Another quite ‘American’ record for which I don’t have a clue which genre it sits in. What I do know is that it’s bloody awesome to see him perform on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert, and that the entire record is pretty brash, which makes it’s pretty great.

 

#8 The Deer – Tempest & Rapture

Yup, more Americana. Another quite gentle record, but one I’ve listened to quite a lot over the last couple of months. This one I only discovered in December or so, and especially Winter to Pry has a certain way of being quite dark, but sounding much lighter than it actually is. Which I like.

 

#7 Weyes Blood – Front Row Seat to Earth

This is some moody stuff. It’s a bit like a slow and more abstract version of PJ Harvey (who is writing lyrics that are a bit too tangible at the moment). It’s slow and maybe even a bit ambient. It works quite well for me when I’m trying to read for example, or just at work although I prefer work music to be a bit more up-tempo. But again, this is quite moody.

 

#6 Paul Cauthen – My Gospel

The most country record of my list. It’s not entirely ‘redneck’ and has some rock and soul influences too. What got me immediately is Paul Cauthen’s voice, which is incredibly deep and loud. It carries the same weight a trumpet can in a band. It carries the entire music, which is cool. I also like the album in total, with some really voluminous tracks on it.

 

#5 John Moreland – High on Tusla Heat

A bit less deep voiced than Paul Cauthen, but quite a gravelly voice to go with the sparse arrangements of mostly just a guitar. John Moreland sings about regular things, doubts, love and Oklahoma. And his love for Oklahoma. It’s pretty quiet and calm, but the songs are gorgeous.

 

#4 Leonard Cohen – You Want it Darker

I don’t think I have much explaining to do for this one. I’ve been in love with Leonard Cohen’s songs for ages, and I think most people can (or should learn to) appreciate his beautiful lyrics. Even though his voice is less ‘singing’ and more ‘speaking’ towards the end of his life, it’s still gorgeous. It’s a fitting record for someone in his eighties writing a last chapter.

 

#3 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, and Nick Cave’s many side projects have been my favorites for years. Last year his latest record came out, accompanies by ‘One More Time with Feeling’. A movie about him making a record in the aftermath of his son’s untimely death.

It’s quite a bleak record, and some songs don’t really resonate with me at all. However, there are some stellar tracks on the record as well (hence its #3 position). I wonder how this is going to work out live, in October…

 

#2 Mitski – Puberty 2

I don’t know anything about Mitski. I don’t know why the record is called Puberty 2, while there is no Puberty 1 to come before it. What I do know is that this is a great record. It’s taking some clues from older PJ Harvey records, I think. Based on the way the songs can be quite noisy and loud.

NPR’s All Songs Considered pointed me towards this record, and I thoroughly enjoy it. It’s been in my ‘phone playlist’ for a long time now. Don’t expect any poetic lyrics or anything, but just a good bit of indie rock music.

 

#1 Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

After not seeing this in the list earlier, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this is here at pole position. I didn’t really expect much of the record after King of Limbs being a bit of a, well, less interesting record.

When this came out, though, it’s far more like the Radiohead of some years ago with quite the incredible level of song-craft.

 

The fun bit of doing this review in March, instead of in December is that I can already look forward a bit to the 2017 top 10. By the way things look now, it’s going to be quite amazing. Already there have been some stellar releases that have been on repeat at work and during commute (Valerie June, Courtney Marie Andrews, Laura Marling, Hurray for the Riff-Raff) and there’s a lot more coming in the coming 9.5 months…

The releases I’m looking forward to the most, and that I know of, are Old Crow Medicine Show, Jason Isbell, Future Islands, Arcade Fire, Grizzly Bear, Modest Mouse, St. Vincent, The National, and there’s probably going to be others.

If you have some suggestions for me, please let me know!

Posted in - Music, - News and Announcements | 5 Comments