January 2, 2014

#77: Berry Brothers, and Rob

One of our favourite guest presenters – Mr Rob Whitehead of Berry Brothers and Rudd – underlined just how much your surroundings and environment play a huge part in the whisky tasting experience, as we tried 6 whiskies blind in 4 different rooms at the company’s august premises – and then revealed that we’d only tried 3 different whiskies.  Very, very interesting results.

Linkwood 1987 Cask #1043 (Berry’s Own Selection) (46% abv) [BUY]

26yo from
Distillery/Blender: Bottled for:

North of Scotland 1973 Cask #14570 (Berry’s Own Selection) (46% abv) [BUY]

Bunnahabhain 1987 Cask #2448 (Berry’s Own Selection) (46% abv) [BUY]

Port Ellen 1982 Cask #2851 (Berry’s Own Selection) (55.6% abv) [BUY]

January 16, 2014

#78: Old and New 2

Whisky on the shelf now looks a lot different to how it looked 15 or 20 years ago. But does it taste any different?  Billy took us through a selection of old and new presentations of some commonly available whiskies, so we could see whether everything was better back in the old days. (Some were, some weren’t!)

Black Bottle (“old” recipe) (40% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
Bottled for:

Black Bottle (“new” recipe) (40% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
Bottled for:

Aberlour 12yo (43% abv) [BUY]

12yo from
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Aberlour 12yo (1980s bottle) (43% abv)

12yo from
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Bowmore Darkest (old presentation) (43% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Bowmore Darkest 15yo (43% abv) [BUY]

15yo from
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February 6, 2014

#79: There’s More To Life Than Malt

Grain whisky, whilst accounting for a humungous percentage of the volume of whisky consumed around the world as part of blends, is something that not many people experience in its own right – and who better to talk us through some of the very attractive aspects of grain than ravenous and noted grain whisky enthusiast, Phil?

Teeling Irish Single Grain Whiskey (46% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Port Dundas 20yo (2011 Special Releases) (57.4% abv) [BUY]

20yo from
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Nikka Coffey Grain (45% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky (43% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Girvan Patent Still 25yo (42% abv) [BUY]

25yo from
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SMWS G7.2 – Fascinating and Inspiring (60.3% abv) [BUY]

February 20, 2014

#80: A Half and a Half

In Scotland it’s commonplace for whisky drinkers to enjoy a half a pint of beer alongside their dram, and as both are products of the barley plant we enlisted the help of the wonderful whisky, beer & flavour lovin’ Zoe to guide us through what works & what might not work when it comes to matching up the flavours of some different beers, whiskies, and nibbles.

Poit Dhubh 8yo (43% abv) [BUY]

Grant’s Ale Cask Reserve (40% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Knob Creek 9yo (50% abv) [BUY]

9yo from
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Ardbeg Uigeadail (54.2% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Top Out – Staple – Pale Ale (4% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Fullers ESB Champion Ale (5.5% abv)

NAS from
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Pressure Drop – Stokey Brown (5.1% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Pressure Drop – Freimann’s Dunkelweiss (4.8% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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March 6, 2014

#81: Billy’s Birthday Drams

As a special birthday treat we let Billy run a tasting for us made up of whiskies that he’d want to have in a tasting that he would do for his birthday.

Ptarmigan 15yo (40% abv)

Knockando 1978 (46% abv)

14yo from
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Mortlach 15yo (G&M) (43% abv) [BUY]

15yo from
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Campbeltown Loch 25yo (40% abv) [BUY]

25yo from
Bottled for:

Kh1 (Elements of Islay) (59.7% abv) [BUY]

Morpheus (Compass Box) (46% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Ledaig 1997 Sherry Cask (TWE Exclusive by G&M) (56.8% abv) [BUY]

16yo from
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March 20, 2014

#82: There’s GOLD in them thar’ off-licences!

Serial dustminer Enrico shared with us a selection of whisky bargains he’d found in obscure off-licences around the place, proving that there are still plenty of excellent bottles from years gone by to be found that don’t have to cost the earth.

Royal Salute 21yo (40% abv) [BUY]

21yo from
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Angus McKay Finest Selected Whisky (40% abv)

Glenlivet 12yo (75cl) (40% abv)

12yo from
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Highland Park 12yo (40% abv)

12yo from
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Ardbeg 10yo (46% abv) [BUY]

10yo from
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The Big Smoke 60 (Duncan Taylor) (60% abv) [BUY]

April 3, 2014

#83: The Fourth Birthday Extravaganza!

Following our now established format, 3 Whisky Squad presenters (in this case, Jason B. Standing, Billy “The Fishfrightener” Abbott, and Squad stalwart Davey Haste) each select 2 whiskies and present them to the group, and a vote at the end decides whose taste is best.  Which Jason won.  Again.

Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey (40% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Glenlivet 17yo Cask Strength (1996) (55.7% abv) [BUY]

17yo from
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Courage (Discovery Road) (46% abv) [BUY]

14yo from
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Amrut Fusion (50% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Glentauchers 1997 TWE Exclusive (Sherry Cask #5580) (54.3% abv) [BUY]

16yo from
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Bowmore Devil’s Casks 10yo (56.9% abv) [BUY]

10yo from
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April 17, 2014

#84: November Alpha Sierra

Many whisky enthusiasts recently have been talking about the increase in NAS (No Age Statement) releases from whisky companies.  We thought it might be fun to try some new ones, a couple of older ones, and discuss why a company might not want to put an age statement on the bottle – as with any facet of whisky, there’s a lot more to it than you might think!

Guestblogged by London Bar Scene!

Prime Blue (40% abv)

NAS from
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Hakushu Distiller’s Reserve (43% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Old Pulteney Lighthouse Collection – Duncansby Head (46% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Talisker 57 North (57% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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AnCnoc Flaughter (46% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Glenmorangie Private Cask Series – Companta (46% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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May 8, 2014

#85: Indie?! INDIE!!

There are so many Independently Bottled whiskies on the market: we thought we’d taste a few from bottlers which hadn’t really been represented at the Squad before, as well as talking about how these whiskies differ from official distillery bottlings, and what an Indie bottler might be looking for when they choose a whisky.

Battlehill Imperial 9yo (Duncan Taylor) (43% abv)

9yo from
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Frisky Whisky Craigellachie 8yo (60.3% abv) [BUY]

8yo from
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Invergordon 26yo (The Whisky Broker) (51.4% abv) [BUY]

26yo from
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Tomintoul 2001 (Malts of Scotland) (53.9% abv)

10yo from
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Bunnahabhain 4yo (Creative Whisky Company) (45.3% abv)

Caol Ila 17yo 1991 Quart-de-Chaume finish (Murray McDavid) (46% abv) [BUY]

17yo from
Distillery/Blender: Bottled for:

May 22, 2014

#86: Brilliant Blends Part Deux

From a replica of a blend recipe from 1912 to a 12yo whisky bottled in the 1930s (so possibly distilled in the late 1910s!), Jason B. Standing tasted us through a selection of blended whiskies, talking about the history of blending and investigating some little-seen corners of the topic.

Jason B. Standing’s House Blend (100% abv)

Grant’s Stand Fast 2012 Replica (40% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Johnnie Walker Blue Label (40% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Matisse 12yo Blended Malt (40% abv) [BUY]

12yo from
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Johnnie Walker Premier (43% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Bellow’s “Partners’ Choice Liqueur” 12yo Blend (bottled 1930s) (43% abv) [BUY]

June 5, 2014

#87: The Mini Whisky Dinner

Elise and Kirsty set to with a wondrous bunch of whisky and food pairings, truly showing that the result of a successful pairing is greater than the sum of its parts.

The pairings were:

  • Yamazaki 12yo with miso soup
  • Balvenie 12yo Doublewood with Camembert, onion and mushroom tartlets
  • Jura 16yo with Creamed parsnip and sauteed scallop
  • Blanton’s Gold Edition with pulled pork from Pitt Cue Co.
  • Glenrothes 1995 with Lincolnshire Poachers cheese from Neal’s Yard Dairy
  • Macallan 15yo Fine Oak with Rococo Chocolates’ salted chocolate toffee hazelnut praline

Yamazaki 12yo (43% abv) [BUY]

12yo from
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Balvenie Doublewood 12yo (40% abv) [BUY]

12yo from
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Jura 16 – The Diurach’s Own (40% abv) [BUY]

16yo from
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Blanton’s Gold Edition (51.5% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Glenrothes 1995 (43% abv) [BUY]

16yo from
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Macallan 15yo Fine Oak (43% abv) [BUY]

15yo from
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June 19, 2014

#88: Everyone loves Canadians

Canadian whiskey being a topic we collectively knew very little at all about, it seemed apposite to enlist the expertise of our very own Canadian whisky enthusiast Elise to take us through a selection of whiskies to show off just what’s going on up there, and that it’s a scene with multiple facets – all worth exploring.

Canadian Club Classic 12yo (40% abv) [BUY]

12yo from
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Forty Creek Barrel Select (40% abv)

NAS from
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Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve (40% abv)

NAS from
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WhistlePig 10yo Straight Rye Whiskey (50% abv) [BUY]

10yo from
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Masterson’s 10yo Straight Rye Whiskey (45% abv)

10yo from
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Collingwood 21yo Rye Canadian Whisky (40% abv)

21yo from
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Glen Breton Rare (43% abv)

10yo from
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July 3, 2014

#89: Bringing Back The Smokestack

Joel dials up another brace of drams for the peatfreaks and smoke enthusiasts, in this session addressing a side of the whisky landscape that we sometimes don’t end up tasting as much from as we should.  And it’s an important point that Islay’s not the only region with peat about…

Laphroaig Select (40% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Tomatin Cu Bocan (46% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Glen Grant 22yo 1992 (Single Malts of Scotland) Cask #35936 (57.8% abv) [BUY]

22yo from
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Port Charlotte Scottish Barley Heavily Peated (50% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Kilchoman Loch Gorm (2014 Edition) (46% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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July 17, 2014

#90: It’s all in the DNA

Scotch Malt Whisky Society ambassador John McCheyne took us through 3 pairs of single casks, with each pair coming from the same distillery (2 pairs having been distilled on the same day as each other) – highlighting what flavour differences the cask can impart, and yet how much underlying character comes directly from the distiller’s spirit character.

And then they threw a random fruity Miltonduff in at the end, because they’re just wonderful people.

SMWS 26.96 – Le Trou Normand? (61.4% abv)

SMWS 26.98 – Lively as an electric acrobat (60.5% abv) [BUY]

SMWS 9.82 – Breathe in long! (52.1% abv) [BUY]

SMWS 9.83 – Tiger Balm, Limoncello and scented candles (56.5% abv) [BUY]

SMWS 53.178 – A pebble beach with iodine (55.8% abv) [BUY]

SMWS 53.184 – Fairground on the beach (60.4% abv) [BUY]

SMWS 72.30 – Fruit, fruit, fruit! (49.9% abv) [BUY]

August 7, 2014

#91: Bruichladdich: Now and Then

Billy Abbott and Jason B. Standing showed off some whiskies from the extensive range from the not-very-peaty Islay favourite, Bruichladdich.  Drawing from the Whyte & Mackay days, the Progressive Hebridean Distillers phase of 2000-2012, and featuring a couple of whiskies from the present day lineup, we see just how versatile, innovative and above all tasty whisky can be from this little Victorian-age distillery.

Bruichladdich “The Laddie 10” (46% abv) [BUY]

10yo from
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Bruichladdich 10yo (1980s – white label) (40% abv)

10yo from
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Bruichladdich 21yo 1991 (Berry’s Own Selection) Cask 2998 (51.6% abv) [BUY]

Bruichladdich 18yo 2nd Edition (46% abv) [BUY]

18yo from
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Bruichladdich X4+3 (Quadruple distilled) (63.5% abv) [BUY]

3yo from
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Octomore 2yo Spirit (66% abv)

2yo from
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Port Charlotte Scottish Barley Heavily Peated (50% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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August 21, 2014

#92: Spirits of Summer

Elise and Joel prepared a brace of interesting and diverse whiskies geared up especially with summer in mind.  It was therefore a shame when Autumn decided to arrive more or less the morning of the tasting, but it was a great selection and a departure from the stereotypical “summer whisky = light and floral” mentality.

Glenlivet 18yo (43% abv) [BUY]

18yo from
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Mackmyra Special 06 (“Summer Meadow” – Summer 2011) (46.8% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Cragganmore 12yo (40% abv) [BUY]

12yo from
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Balblair 1999 (2nd Release) (46% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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SMWS G7.6 – “Like summer” (57.7% abv) [BUY]

High West Whiskey – Campfire (Batch X0-2) (46% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
Distillery/Blender: Bottled for:

September 4, 2014

#93: In Dublin’s Fair City

An evening with Teeling brand ambassador Sam Macdonald, investigating the delights of the family’s new venture.

Teeling Poitin (61.5% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Celtic Cask Trí Irish 10yo 2001 (46% abv)

10yo from
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Teeling Irish Single Grain Whiskey (46% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Powers Signature Release (46% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Teeling Small Batch (46% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
Bottled for:

Teeling Vintage Reserve 21yo 1991 (46% abv) [BUY]

21yo from
Bottled for:

September 18, 2014

#94: Off The Beaten Track

Strathclyde 1989 46%

24yo from
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Scapa 16yo (40% abv) [BUY]

16yo from
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Lochside 1981 Bot.2011 46%

19yo from
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Aberfeldy 18yo 40%

18yo from
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Royal Lochnagar Triple Matured FOCM 48%

NAS from
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Kininvie 1996 17yo Batch #1 42.6%

17yo from
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October 9, 2014

#95: Autumn Berrys

Rob from Berry Brothers & Rudd showed us some of the delights to be had from 2nd fill bourbon casks, with his stellar selection of single cask Berry’s Own Selection bottlings – all selected by BB&R’s spirits master, Doug McIvor.

Blair Athol 1991 (Berry’s Own Selection) Cask 7279 (46% abv) [BUY]

Tomatin 1994 (Berry’s Own Selection) Cask 6393 (51% abv) [BUY]

20yo from
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Clynelish 1996 (Berry’s Own Selection) Cask 6424 (46% abv) [BUY]

18yo from
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Auchentoshan 1984 (Berry’s Own Selection) Cask 4475 (46% abv) [BUY]

Bunnahabhain 1989 (Berry’s Own Selection) Cask 5716 (42.9% abv) [BUY]

Bunnahabhain 2007 (Berry’s Own Selection) Cask 800089 (peated) (57.7% abv) [BUY]

Amrut Peated Port Pipe Cask 2713 (59% abv) [BUY]

4yo from
Distillery/Blender: Bottled for:

October 23, 2014

#96: They Can’t ALL Be Doing It Wrong?!

As a whisky tasting group we generally seem interested/preoccupied with the idea of purity and unadjusted flavour.  Ignoring momentarily when we add water…

The modern cocktail scene makes great use of nuanced addition of different flavour ingredients for light & shade, and creating complex and complementary drinks.

In this session we explore the idea of mixing whisk(e)y with a few of the world’s more popular mixers, and the wondrous flavour combinations than can be achieved.  For further information on this, the excellent book Whisky: The Manual by Dave Broom.

The combinations we tried were:

  • Canadian Club mixed first with Fever Tree Ginger Ale, and then with Mr Kon Green Tea (both 1:2)
  • Johnnie Walker Black Label with Fever Tree Ginger Ale, and then with Coconut Water (both 1:2)
  • Kilchoman Machir Bay with Soda Water, and then with Coconut Water (both 1:2)
  • Lagavulin 16 with Coca Cola (1:1)

Canadian Club (40% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Johnnie Walker Black Label (40% abv) [BUY]

12yo from
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Kilchoman Machir Bay (46% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Lagavulin 16yo (43% abv) [BUY]

16yo from
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November 6, 2014

#97: Managing Production Variables in a Controlled Environment in the Absence of Sight

We know that blenders blend whiskies together to create a complex mix of flavours – but how can we find out what the practical effect of tweaking the levers is?

The creative geniuses over at Maverick Drinks have come up with a way of illustrating it in a lovely, tasteable package with The Reference Series.  A collection of 3 blended malt whiskies (cunningly titled I, II, and III) both made with the same ingredients (A young & vibrant blended malt, an older and more complex & spicy blended malt, an old single malt, and a very old single malt indeed) in different proportions.

They then took the base blend and “altered” them variously, such as adding 10% peaty Islay whisky to the mix, or ageing the mixture in a sherry cask for a while, and there are other tweaks as allowed under Scotch whisky rules so that the keen taster can see what the effect on the overall flavour might be for a certain character of spirit.  Fascinating stuff!

Reference Series I (47.5% abv) [BUY]

Reference Series II (47.5% abv) [BUY]

Reference Series III (47.5% abv) [BUY]

Reference Series II.1 (47.5% abv) [BUY]

Reference Series II.2 (47.4% abv) [BUY]

Reference Series II.3 (47.2% abv) [BUY]

November 20, 2014

#98: Mil-ROYS of So-HO!

London is home to some absolutely great specialty whisky shops – and the one which really started them all off back in the 1960s is Milroys of Soho.  We were delighted to visit this wonderful gem of the whisky scene and taste a selection of quality drams, included some of their own independent bottlings.

Notes on this one yet to be updated...

December 4, 2014

#99: The Department of Whisky and Coffee Affairs

Our special guests Tim of the Coffeesmith’s Collective and Phil from Tate Coffee taught us a few interesting things about coffee production, tasting, and flavour – and then we were treated to some whisky, food and coffee flavour combinations assembled by Tim and Billy.

Yamazaki 12yo (43% abv) [BUY]

12yo from
Distillery/Blender: Bottled for:

SMWS 9.83 – Tiger Balm, Limoncello and scented candles (56.5% abv) [BUY]

Ardbeg Uigeadail (54.2% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Laphroaig Quarter Cask (48% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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December 18, 2014

#100: Whisky Surprise – the 2014 edition

For the 5th time now we gathered in the pre-Christmas darkness for the festival of taste explosion that is Whisky Surprise.

Using “festival pours” (i.e. 10mL measures) in order to ensure that the experience remained a tasting one rather than anything more overtly festive, we tasted the whiskies which each of the 19 attendees contributed.

Of particular note was the fact that this also marked the 100th tasting of the Whisky Squad!

(I hope you appreciate how long this took to enter into the system)

 

Hellyer’s Road “Original” (46.2% abv) [BUY]

10yo from
Distillery/Blender: Bottled for:

Haig Club (40% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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WhistlePig 10yo Straight Rye Whiskey (50% abv) [BUY]

10yo from
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Mortlach 10yo 2004 (Provenance) (46% abv) [BUY]

10yo from
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Bowmore Black Rock (40% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
Distillery/Blender: Bottled for:

SMWS 10.80 – “Unmistakably Sea-shoreish” (61.2% abv) [BUY]

Orbis Aged World Whiskey (40% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
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Longrow “Tasting Room” (Cadenheads) (48% abv)

NAS from
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Yoichi 10yo (45% abv) [BUY]

10yo from
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SMWS 132.1 – “Secret Moonlit Garden Dram” (59.9% abv) [BUY]

Caol Ila 2013 Feis Ile (56.5% abv) [BUY]

NAS from
Distillery/Blender: Bottled for:

SMWS 127.39 – “Intensely Tasty” (66.7% abv)

Aberlour 10yo Private Bottling for KT (40% abv)

10yo from
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SMWS 93.62 – “Ciao Bella and the Blacksmith” (61.2% abv) [BUY]

Caol Ila 1996 Distillers Edition (43% abv)

12yo from
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Clynelish 15yo (Drambusters) (56.6% abv)

15yo from
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Glenfarclas 18yo (43% abv)

18yo from
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Glen Keith 10yo (43% abv) [BUY]

10yo from
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Springbank 9yo Gaia Barolo Finish (54.7% abv) [BUY]

9yo from
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