Last night’s tasting session marked off the 4th Birthday of the Whisky Squad – from those humble beginnings, we’re… well, still in humble surroundings, but we’ve put together 84 tastings so far and it’s been an absolute blast.  We hope to continue putting together & running fun tastings for years yet to come, but we wanted to say thanks to you all for making it happen.

ws4bdIt wouldn’t be a party without a cake, and Kirsty did a brilliant job with a couple of Squad birthday cakes (we may even coax her to share the recipes…), and Pooja snapped a picture of said cakes before we all crammed them into our eager face-holes.

The tasting was the “3 way jerk-off” format, where the 3 of us present 2 whiskies each to the group and there’s a vote on favourites at the end.  As Joel couldn’t make it in person (although was represented in the small shrine we built on the table), long-time Squadder Dave Haste stepped in for his presentational debut and did a mighty fine job, selecting 2 very popular whiskies…  although not quite popular enough to topple Jason’s selection of the champion of the evening – the Bowmore Devil’s Casks 10yo.  What a stonkingly yummy way to celebrate a birthday!

Billy selected 2 whiskies as well.

Well done, all.  And here’s to what the future brings for Whisky Squad!

(it’s not entirely clear how Tim managed to creep into this photo, but it’s always nice to have him along also – as he put it himself, “Those 3 look like they’ve just won the Euromilions… I look like I’ve just won a tenner on a scratchcard”.)

Whisky Squad sessions for April

April is just around the corner, which can only mean one thing…


So we are more than a little bit excited to present these tastings for you:

Thursday 3rd April – Whisky Squad #83 – Fourth Birthday Extravaganza!: It’s the main event, when we celebrate four years of existence. As is traditional, Jason, Billy and Joel will bring their favourite drams for a whisky showdown.

Thursday 17th April - Whisky Squad #84 – November Alpha Sierra: Jason and Billy are back in charge, this time exploring the hot topic of No Age Statement whiskies and debating whether age really does matter. 

Don’t forget to check out our bookings policy.

Bookings for these tastings will open at 4pm on Friday 21st March.

See you soon at Whisky Squad!

Joel, Jason & Billy

LATE ADDITION: In April we’re also running a Whisky Basics evening (April 22nd), which is a great way to get up to speed on some of the jargon we use in whisky discussion, and to learn a few key terms… as well as trying a bunch of the main flavour profiles, and testing out some food pairings.  Don’t miss it!

3 more Whisky Squad sessions to take you further on your whisky journey…

Hi all!

This month we have three fantastic tasting sessions for you to choose from, as follows:

Thursday 6th March – Whisky Squad #81 – Billy’s Birthday Treats: Squad organiser Billy Abbott selects a brace of interesting whiskies for us to taste, because it’s his birthday and he’s allowed.

Saturday 15th March – Bonus session - WS@Compass Box Blending School: Chris Maybin takes us through the art of blending as practiced by blending artisans Compass Box at their West London HQ.

Thursday 20th March - Whisky Squad #82 – There’s Gold In Them Thar’ Off-Licences!: Whisky Enthusiast, bar professional & TWE adviser Enrico Gaddoni shares with us some of the gems he’s unearthed from some unlikely places around the country.

As always, our bookings policy applies to these sessions.

Whisky Squad tastings are designed to be an informal and informative, fun way of learning about and tasting whisky.  Whilst not an “introduction to whisky” session, we have people of all backgrounds and facets of whisky exposure, and everyone interested in whisky is very welcome!


February 2014 Sessions

Here’s what we’ve got lined up for February:

Whisky Squad #79 – There’s More to Life than Malt
We’re welcoming back whisky fanatic and Scotch Malt Whisky Society regular Phil Storry to tell us more about the world of grain whisky.

Whisky Squad #80 – A Half and a Half
Whisky expert Zoe Toolan will be joining us to tell us how to combine two things that are very much in the hearts of The Squad – whisky and beer

That’s it for now. See you all soon.

January 2014 Sessions

Loads of whisky fun for January 2014 -

2nd Jan: Whisky Squad 77 – “Berry Brothers, and Rob”

Our traditional year beginning with the tasting led by the incomparable Robert Whitehead and his selection of magnificent Berry Brothers & Rudd whiskies.

12th Jan: Whisky Basics

An afternoon session for anyone who’d like to go over some of the fundamentals of Scotch whisky, with Jason B. Standing.

16th Jan: Whisky Squad 78 – “Old and New II”

Billy Abbott takes us through a brace of currently available whiskies, and we sample them alongside their counterparts from further back in time.

31st Jan: Whisky Friday at SMWS

Not a tasting session as such – more a chance for us to meet up & have a nice social chat with a few tasty single cask drams.

Get into it!

Whisky Time Machine to be won

“On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a Balvenie Caribbean Cask.
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me Bowmore 15, and a Balvenie Caribbean Cask.
On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me Yamazaki 12, Bowmore 15, and a Balvenie Caribbean Cask.
On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me Tomintoul 14, Yamazaki 12, Bowmore 15, and a Balvenie Caribbean Cask.”

In many ways it’s probably just as well that the Drinks By The Dram Whisky Advent Calendar only gives you one dram per day, because unlike the song, there’s 24 days in it – and you’d be hard-pressed to finish off 300 drams before Christmas. Yes, you would.

At this point you’d be right to ask “What on Earth are you talking about?” – and you’d be right to do so!

Our fine fine chums at Maverick Drinks have given us one of their marvellous Whisky Advent Calendars to bestow upon one lucky person.


People raising squadrons of well-behaved mice will LOVE this calendar, as it features 24 little individual doors – more than ample for your mouse storage needs once you’ve taken all the whisky out. Oh yes, behind each numbered door is one of a great selection of whiskies in the universally popular Drinks By The Dram series. Traditionally you open one door each day leading up to Christmas, providing you with not only a quick & easy visual reminder of what day you’re up to in the month, but also with a great opportunity to try 2 dozen new whiskies!

You could employ some sort of random number generator to add further surprise to which whisky you’ll be assigned for the day. Or you could just open all the doors and laugh maniacally. It’s totally up to you, once you win it.

Oh – how do you win it? Easy!

There’s 3 ways to enter, and everyone can enter up to 3 times.

1) Sign up for the Whisky Squad mailing list.

The more astute of the folks who read this via the Whisky Squad mailing list will therefore have figured out that they’re already in with a chance.

2) Twitter users can tweet the following message for a second chance:

Win a @drinksbythedram #WhiskyAdvent Calendar with @WhiskySquad ! http://tinyurl.com/squidhats

3) Inevitably we’re going to post the story on our Facebook page, so if you’re one of Facebook’s 1.2 billion users then if you Share our story, you’ll get a third chance to win.

A winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday November 27th, and provided they’re a non-fictional being of legal age for buying whisky the magical mail pixies at Master of Malt will despatch you your prize.

Awesome, no?

Incidentally, anyone who (correctly) thinks that a whisky advent calendar would make a terrific gift for a whisky enthusiast (or mouse wrangler) in their life can buy them for £149.95+p&p at the Master of Malt website!

Fine print: Open to UK residents only, must be 18+ years of age.  Winner selected at random by all entries counted up til 12 noon GMT on Wednesday November 27th 2013.

Whisky Squad – Festive December Edition

The December tastings have rolled around already… and I feel like I’ve only just recovered from last year’s Whisky Surprise session! Here is what we have planned for this month. Click through for more information and to purchase tickets.

Whisky Squad #75 – The Ones That Got Away
Thursday 5th December, 7:30pm
There is not much we can tell you about this tasting, other than the fact that it will feature a mixed bag of tasty-looking drams that we haven’t quite managed to squeeze into our sessions so far this year.

Whisky Squad #76 – Whisky Surprise 2013
Thursday 19th December, 7:30pm
It’s our annual session where what we drink is up to you! Whisky Surprise is a BYO event where we invite you to bring a bottle to share with the group. Spots are still limited, but this time there is no charge for a ticket. Instead, we give you the opportunity to make a £5 donation to Crisis.org.uk.

Tickets will go on sale at 11am on Thursday November 21st. Normal Booking Rules apply.

See you at the Squad!


Time for Trumpton! And November’s Whisky Squad tastings

We’re having some technical issues with online payments currently. Please book your spaces as normal, and we’ll contact you regarding payment separately via email. Apols for the inconvenience.

It has got to the time in the month where parts of Whisky Squad management start poking other parts of Whisky Squad management, wondering where the announcement of the next Squad sessions is. The answer to that question is simple – here it is.

Whisky Squad #73 – Ally’s B-A-GG of Drams
Thursday November 7th, 7:30pm
First up in November we’ll have Morrison Bowmore’s Man-About-London-Town coming along to show off some of his fine wares – whiskies from Bowmore, Auchentoshan and Glen Garioch. What’s more, it’ll be at a shiny new location for us, the rather lovely Blacksmith and Toffeemaker in Clerkenwell.

Whisky Squad #74 – If You Missed The Whisky Show…
Tuesday November 19th, 7:30pm
…and to follow we’ll be returning to The Whisky Exchange Shop at Vinopolis to have a dig through some of the special releases that appeared at this year’s Whisky Show. We’ll have Whisky Squad’s own man-on-the-inside, Joel ‘Dramologist’ Eastman at the helm and Billy (me) is rumoured to not only be coming along but also to have helped choose some of the whiskies.

Tickets are now on sale. Normal Booking Rules apply.

I’m the cream of the crop, I rise to the top

Allt-a-Bhainne-Batch-1 This is a bit of a first.

Back in April a dedicated band of Whisky Squadders made our way out to visit the Secret Headquarters of the chaps from Master of Malt, and one of the many wonderful activities we did was to select a cask of Allt-a-Bhainne to bottle for the Batch 1 release in the “That Boutique-y Whisky Company” range – and come up with a design idea for the label, famously featuring bizarre cartoons of whisky-related shennanigans.

And here we are!

Allt-a-Bhainne, a Speyside whisky from the Pernod Ricard (+ Chivas Bros) portfolio and not often seen as a single malt release, is named for the Gaelic meaning “Burn of Milk”.  A couple of the Squad quickly realised that the pronounciation “Ollt-of-Vain” sounded a bit like “House of Pain” – and so a label was born!

allt-bottleI don’t have any of the tasting notes to hand from the actual day, but the official Master of Malt notes are:

Nose: Fizzy apple belts, lemon curd and buttered toast.
Palate: Nice biscuits and green apple slices with oak influence developing.
Finish: Long with a little of everything that went before in support of delightful toasted oakiness.

If you’d like to read more about this release (and the other two in the same series which came out on the same day – featuring Edinburgh Whisky Blog and the Famous Loch Ness Whisky Parliament), check out the Master of Malt blog post.

Available from Master of Malt – £44.95 (49.2%abv, 50cl). 304 bottles.

Why settle for having a statue of yourself erected when you can own a bottle of limited-release whisky with a picture of yourself on it represented in cartoon cow form?

The full range of That Boutique-y Whisky Company whiskies (and their unique labels, drawn by Glaswegian illustrator Emily Chappell) can be found here.

Whisky-related hinjinks/tasting opportunities for those lucky enough to find themselves in October right now

(Apols – bookings opened a few minutes late cos I got stuck on the Tube.)

STEP RIGHT THIS WAY!  We have once again assembled 2 unique whisky tastings to appeal to you this month, and in typical Whisky Squad fashion they’re both worth getting excited about!

WS #71 – “Number One Drink(s) in the UK”

Scotch Whisky enthusiasts love trying Japanese whisky, on the basis of its allure and quality – and this session will showcase some very alluring and high quality morsels from Marcin Miller and Number One Drinks.

WS #72 – “Ang/Lee’s Supermarket Sweep”

Probing the whisky selection available in UK supermarkets today, Lee Tomlinson and Angus Martin showcase their favourite readily available options: an ideal opportunity to perhaps find some gift ideas, or stock up for any 4th Quarter social functions you may have planned…

Bookings for these sessions open at 1:30pm on Tuesday October 1st.