Category Archives: Scottish Whisky

Ben Bracken, Triple Pack, Single Malts, 40%

I’m a big fan of miniatures.

The opportunity to try out a range of styles – or in this case regions – before committing to a full bottle is always a treat.

Having said that. I’d already ruled out buying more supermarket own brand labels. They tend to be chill filtered with added caramel & whilst perfectly fine – they lack finesse.

But spotting these miniatures in my local Lidl.

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A tasty trio! c/othewhiskeynut

I couldn’t pass them by.

Nosing the Speyside first – I choose to do Speyside – Highland – Islay starting from mildest to strongest flavours as recommended by many tasting journals – revealed a pleasant easy honeyed malt.

On a blind tasting this would sit well with any big label brand.

The palate was a bit watery & insignificant to begin with – common to all three malts – before a typical Speyside softly sweet & gentle flavour profile presented itself.

There was even a slight dry spice on the short finish.

Not bad at all.

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Which region is your preference? c/othewhiskeynut

The Highland gave a bit more malt biscuity depth to the proceedings.

The Islay – which was my favourite – offered a straight forward satisfying smoky hit.

Each gave a perfectly decent snapshot of the regional styles – perhaps lacking in depth & complexity – but nonetheless an extremely enjoyable way of discerning your palates preferences.

Nice one Aldi!

Slàinte

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Glenfiddich Reserve Cask & Select Cask, Travel Retail, Single Malt, 40%

I picked up these a while ago.

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Travel retail miniatures c/othewhiskeynut

Travel retail NAS – non aged statement – offerings seem to be the ‘thing’ right now.

Being a category leader – I thought I’d give them a go.

Bad decision.

This is soft, sweet easy going malt for the masses.

Any sparkle of life & vitality has been sucked out by added caramel & chill filtration.

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Glenfiddich Reserve Cask c/othewhiskeynut

The Reserve Cask did have a prickly spice on the finish to give it a lift – but the Select Cask was just sweet, honeyed, biscuity malt.

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Glenfiddich Select Cask c/othewhiskeynut

Fine if you like that sort of thing – but no – they did nothing for me.

Sláinte

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Laughfrog Highland Single Malt, 40%

I couldn’t resist the humour of this Laughfrog Highland Malt Scotch.

The mispronunciations of Laphroaig are legendary – why not turn it into a marketing opportunity?

Pity Select Drams bottled it with Highland Malt – perhaps too close to the bone for Islay?

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Don’t croak it! c/othewhiskeynut

Anyway – it made my glass.

The first thing I noticed – or rather didn’t – was a rich phenolic peat smoke. A more muted sweet biscuity malt greeted me instead.

This followed into the palate which developed a full bodied mouthfeel.

A lovely drying gentle spiciness brought up the tail end.

An entertaining easy going malt with a touch of character & perhaps a dash of peat in the background.

Certainly wouldn’t make you croak!

Sláinte

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Bowmore No 1, 40% vs Art Of The Blend 3, 43%

Which would you choose?

A single malt from a well known Islay Distillery versus a blend sold by an upcoming Lowland Distillery sourced from unnamed origins?

Luckily for me – I had both!

Art Of The Blend 3 was a limited edition release allowing Eden Mill Distillery to practice their blending & marketing skills in advance of their own whisky maturing.

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Art Of The Blend Batch 3 c/othewhiskeynut

It came in a highly attractive bottle – which has since continued into their own releases – containing malt & grain whiskies finished in Islay Whisky Casks.

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Eden Mill’s own whisky c/othewhiskeynut

I found it crisp, clear, vibrant and highly enjoyable.

You could say it was smokin’!

By contrast Bowmore No 1 – named after the warehouse the barrels used in the single malt were aged in – was muted – almost as if the fire had gone out.

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Bowmore No 1 c/othewhiskeynut

The sparkle was missing – and I was a tad disappointed.

The Art Of The Blend 3 just blew it out of the water.

I let my palate choose.

It chose Art Of The Blend 3.

Sláinte

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Eden Mill, Oak Aged Beer, Whisky Barrel, 6.7%

On my last visit to Eden Mill – which is a combined Brewery & Distillery operation on the banks of the Eden River in Guardbridge, Scotland – the opener for the distillery tour was a bottle of their fine Whisky Barrel Aged Beer.

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Whisky Barrel Aged Beer c/othewhiskeynut

It certainly loosened up the tongues of the mixed bag of visitors on the day – and was a novel way to introduce the rich variety of drinks including beers, gins & whiskies made at the facility.

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Art Of The Blend series c/othewhiskeynut

Bottled at 6.7% the dark beer delivered a gentle aroma of malt. The carbonation wasn’t too strong – more in the style of a traditional Scottish Heavy Ale – with a great outpouring of flavour comprising of caramel, burnt molasses, a hint of dark chocolate & coffee too.

There is also a limited edition Bourbon Barrel offering – slightly sweeter & heavier if possible – with a younger 68 day age statement as opposed to the 93 of the Whisky Barrel Beer.

Whatever your poison – Eden Mill have a drink to satisfy.

These Oak Aged Beers satisfied me.

Sláinte

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MacLeod’s, Isle Of Skye, 8 Year Old Blended Scotch, 40%

Another miniature from my mixed bag winning auction lot.

I couldn’t resist humming the opening line from the famous Andy Stewart hit song ‘Donald Where’s Yer Troosers?’

‘I’ve just come down from the Isle Of Skye’.

Well some of the whisky in this blend did.

It started off fine – the colour was reassuringly pale.

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An Ian MacLeod brand. c/othewhiskeynut

But the nose was sweet – very sweet – with a dull stale smell.  This one was obviously on the turn!

I took a swig.

Pale, watery & dull.

The only sign of life was a residue smokiness from the peat.

Not undrinkable – but not pleasant.

Pity.

This one had the potential to be a clean fresh easy peater.

I did check the screw cap seal. It was slightly discoloured. A sign – so I’ve been told – the whisky has deteriorated. Seems to hold true in this instance.

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Screw cap discolouration. c/othewhiskeynut

Obviously ‘just come down from the Isle Of Skye’ too long ago!

Sláinte

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Glen Grant, Highland Malt Scotch Whisky, 43%

The label on this miniature bottle had me confused.

I always associated Grant’s with being a big selling Speyside blend with a distinctive triangular shaped bottle which hadn’t exactly set my palate alight.

Yet here was a round Glen Grant bottle proclaiming to be from the Highlands.

Turns out there were 2 or 3 Mr Grants who set up whisky distilleries in the 1800’s.

In the 1840’s brothers John & James Grant founded the Glen Grant Distillery. It has gone through many changes of ownership and is now in the hands of the Campari Group – which immediately takes me back to an old advert!

Later on a certain William Grant laid the stones for the Glenfiddich Distillery back in 1886. The company is still with the same family today and has gone on to great success. It is responsible for the Grant’s range of blended whiskies – as well as notable single malts and built the new Tullamore Distillery in Ireland.

So that’s one issue sorted.

Highland Malt when quite clearly it’s a Speyside distillery?

Well not so fast bucko.

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Glen Grant Highland Malt c/othewhiskeynut

Scottish Whisky Regions are actually a fairly recent construct and in my opinion more tied in with clever marketing & branding rather than anything intrinsically connecting whiskies made in these regions. An internet search found an enjoyable explanation here.

Since my miniature seems to be an old bottling – the closest I could identify is offered on Whisky Exchange here – which pre-dates current Scotch Whiskey Region rules.

whisky exchange grant
Courtesy Whisky Exchange

But I only found all this out after tasting  Glen Grant Highland Malt – as I fairly enjoyed it.

There was a slight funkiness on the nose – not overpowering & actually quite characterful – which I’d possibly allow as deterioration from the old bottling – yet otherwise fresh & light.

The palate was signature Speyside – soft, subtle fruits & easy sweet biscuity malt with a hint of spice towards the finish.

If anything the 43% presentation had boosted the flavours within & given an enhanced appeal to my palate.

Not bad at all.

It enticed me to unearth the information above – all from a mixed bag auction lot purchase.

A happy half hour drinking & internet searching.

Sláinte

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Hunter’s Glen, 5 Year Old, Premium Scotch Whisky, Blend, 40%

Random town.

I was away for a few days taking advantage of the fine weather.

Random pub.

Entering a bar for the first time always engenders a sense of excitement.

Random whisky.

You never know what to expect.

Spotting the large green label of Hunter’s Glen on the shelf – it immediately stood out as something I’d not had before.

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Hunter’s Glen Scotch c/othewhiskeynut

Establishing it was Scotch Whisky and not rum – either would have been acceptable – a glass was ordered.

Mmmmmm.

Standard entry level blend material.

Caramelly nose, sweet, smooth & soft with a hint of smoke enlivening an otherwise easy drinking experience.

But who or what is Hunter’s Glen?

The front label states ‘Clydesdale Scotch Whisky Company’, who are part of the Whyte & Mackay group specialising in supermarket blends for Lidl.

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All the way from Greece? c/othewhiskeynut

The back label does mention Lidl, but of Greek origin.

Quite how it ended up in a bar in the West of Ireland is beyond me.

But as a whisky with no pretensions or provenance – I enjoyed it for what it is – a perfectly acceptable everyday sipper with a slightly smoky tingly dryness on the finish.

Sláinte

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Header image courtesy of Irish Times article here.

Discovery, Highland Single Malt, 12 Year Old Scotch Whisky, 40%

Dundee.

City of jute, journalism & jam – at least according to the Scottish Design Galleries exhibition at the recently opened V&A Dundee.

Architecturally resembling an ocean liner when viewed coming across the Tay Bridge from Fife, the V&A sits next to an actual ocean going vessel – the RSS Discovery.

Built in Dundee back in 1901 for the British National Antarctic Expedition to explore the then uncharted territory of Antarctica, Discovery was captained by Robert Falcon Scott.

Interestingly – from an Irish perspective – there were a couple of Irishmen aboard; Ernest Shackleton from Co Kildare & Tom Crean from Co Kerry – both of whom contributed to further Antarctic exploration and adventures.

Whisky also featured on these voyages – often only for the use of ‘officers and scientific staff only’ as labelled on the Discovery Whisky from 1901.

Yet in the museum shop bottles of a recreated Discovery Whisky are available to all – regardless of rank or status.

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Discovery Whisky, available to all. c/othewhiskeynut

So I bought one – along with a dinky commemorative glass too.

There is no indication of distillery of origin – other than ‘sourced’ on the label that resembles the original – also non distillery specific.

The colour is reassuringly pale.

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Commemorative glass too! c/othewhiskeynut

The palate started off smoothly – yet built in body & flavour. There were hints of leather, hints of smoke and a lovely drying finish with decent prickly heat to boot.

A suitably robust & characterful whisky with some depth & bite that befits the memory of the hardy souls who sailed into the unknown on that Antarctic Adventure of 1901.

Sláinte

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Glenfiddich, Special Old Reserve, Pure Malt, Single Malt, 40%

It was a new experience for me – taking part in a Whisky Auction.

I wasn’t after rare or collectable bottles – just a few odd ones to try at an affordable price.

I bid on some mixed bags of miniatures – a broad sweep of whiskies to sample – and happily managed to secure one.

The first result flunked.

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A drained Dimple. c/othewhiskeynut

An old Haig Dimple bottle with indeterminate writing on the back had obviously suffered some spirit loss.

The cap was loose too – allowing air in – with predictable results.

Rancid!

The whiskey inside had deteriorated to such an extent the nose was painful – the sample went straight down the sink!

I ploughed on with an intact bottle of Glenfiddich Pure Malt.

Now Pure Malt is an outdated term. It began to fade in the 1980’s and generally denoted what we’d now call a single malt i.e. malt produced at one distillery.  It could also have meant a blended malt i.e. malt produced at more than one distillery, but as Single Malt also appears on the Glenfiddich label – we can count on the former interpretation.

Basically what I had in front of me was an old Glenfiddich Whisky bottle – so I cracked it open and poured myself a drink.

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Glenfiddich Pure Malt c/othewhiskeynut

Mmmmmm!

Clean & fresh!

A heavy butterscotch sweetness combined with a gentle soft smokiness greeted me.

I was just happy to get a bottle that hadn’t gone off!

To be honest I found the sweet caramel too much – but the gentle smokiness – like the wisps of a fire – made it an enjoyable experience.

A pleasant easy drinking single malt with enough character & flavour to keep it cheerful.

The joys of auctions!

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