Category Archives: Scottish Whisky

Gauldrons, Blended Malt, 46.2%

My favourite whisky shop in Anstruther doesn’t just do novelty whisky – it also does proprietary brands.

Respected bottlers Douglas Laing are behind this Gauldrons Blended Malt.

Described as ‘ a marriage of aged single malts from Campbeltown‘ Gauldrons is presented non chill filtered with no colouring.

Suitably pale in the glass – always a good sign in my book.

I’m getting a soft kiss of smoke with old leather on the nose.

Easy mouthfeel – sweet & biscuity – builds with intensity to a prickly drying crescendo.

Was expecting a bit more of a peat hit – Gauldrons was quite mild mannered & tame in that respect – yet otherwise a decent dram.

Sláinte

The Wee Couper Of Fife website here.

Douglas Laing website here.

All images authors own.

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Ardbeg Wee Beastie, 5 Year Old Single Malt, 47.4%

With Ardbeg Committee Releases well beyond my price range I’ll settle for one of their core bottlings – Wee Beastie – and in a naggin bottle too!

Simply pouring this whisky results in strong aromas of coastal peat smoke wafting around.

It’s surprisingly delicate on the palate – before that gorgeous smokiness gradually takes over.

Wee Beastie leaves with a very dry prickliness immediately making you want more!

A Monster Of A Dram indeed!

Sláinte

The Jockey vs The Fisherman, Blended Scotch Whisky, 40%

When in Anstruther I usually pick up a few bottles in the Wee Couper Of Fife Whisky Shop.

They have a varied selection of miniatures – mainly for the tourist trade – as well as single cask bottlings for the aficionados.

I enjoy sampling the miniatures myself – so picked up a pair of themed minis from the Cumbrae Supply Co.

The Jockey & The Fisherman sport stylised images of their namesakes, are presented at 40% with no mention of distilleries sourced from, nor chill filtering or added caramel, which I’d expect for this type of product.

Without further ado I poured some glasses.

The Jockey

Sweet biscuity malt, very easy palate, slight hints of drying leather on the rear.

A very decent blend.

The Fisherman

Similar nose, if anything an easier palate, softer, sweeter, with less dryness on the rear.

Thoughts

I was expecting to find this pair to share the same source – but they did differ slightly on drinking.

For me The Jockey has pulled clear of the sedentary Fisherman.

An entertaining duo!

Sláinte

Cumbrae Supply Co website here.

Wee Couper Of Fife website here.

All images authors own.

Crag & Glen, Blended Scotch Whisky, 40%

I picked up Crag & Glen on my last Scottish trip.

Usually I stop at the last supermarket before the ferry to top up on haggis & booze that isn’t readily available in Ireland.

Sadly the Asda in Girvan had only 1 haggis left & it was too early in the morning for alcohol sales – so another plan emerged.

Sainsbury’s in Lisburn provided my needs.

There are no Sainsbury’s in Ireland – hence Argos pulling out – but Northern Ireland has them – so I indulged in some supermarket spirits.

I do enjoy trying out this category. There can be some good ones & being only a 35cl serving the outlay is minimal. Pity there’s little choice in this size.

Crag & Glen is Sainsbury’s own bottling. It has a suitably bold name that conjures up romantic notions of rugged Highland scenery, magnificent stags & warm drinks by a roaring fire.

Can tasting the whisky match the imagery?

First thing I notice is the golden brown hue of this 3 year old – very suggestive of added colouring & chill filtering – which you kinda have to expect at this price point.

The nose is mild, caramelly & honeyed sweet.

The label very aptly displays ‘smooth & rounded‘ – an accurate descriptor of the mouthfeel.

The finish is the best bit for me – a warm juiciness topped off with joyful prickliness leaving a dry lip-smacking finale.

As basic supermarket brands go Crag & Glen lives up to it’s imagery – minus the roaring fire!

Sláinte

Link to Sainsbury’s whisky page here.

Argos pulls out of Ireland here.

A selection of Scotch Whiskey encountered in Scottish Bars

I recently visited Scotland.

The trip wasn’t centred around whisky – although it was enjoyed.

The hotel bar stocked a limited selection of Scotch – most of which I’d sampled before – so a pleasurable peater in the guise of Highland Park 12 was chosen.

The smoke gently enticed on the nose in a balanced mix of flavours.

A more bolder peat hitter – Talisker Skye – was encountered in The Golf Hotel in Crail. I also noticed their ‘bar pour’ was a double of Scottish Leader – also possessing a smoky element – which I politely declined.

One new Scotch I stumbled on was Naked Grouse.

A soft kiss of smoke wrapped up in a warm hug of a whisky gave an easy drinking & finely balanced dram with a little bite on the rear.

Turns out it’s a blended malt with additional ageing in sherry casks & happened to be ‘whisky of the week’ at my hotel.

I happily accepted the suggestion this time round!

Sláinte

Bottle images courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop here & Whisky Exchange here.

The Golf Hotel Crail website here.

Dalmore Valour, Single Malt, 40%

This whisky has been quietly sitting at the back of my spirits stash for too long.

Worried that it could be getting past it’s ‘best before’ date a few drams were deemed in order.

Dalmore is a popular brand represented by the highly entertaining master blender Richard Paterson.

Valour is a Travel Retail Exclusive NAS (Non Age Statement) matured in ex-bourbon casks & aged in oloroso & port barrels. Presented at 40% it contains added caramel & is likely chill filtered too.

I found it an easy going single malt with a soft kiss of tobacco smoke, dark fruits & a touch of prickly frisson on the finish.

I’d describe the flavours as dirty, muddy & muted – but they are warming, welcoming & accessible.

The whole range benefits from a visually distinctive bottle replete with a deer’s antler motif.

A rather ‘safe’ whisky.

Sláinte

Dalmore webpage here.

An interview with Richard Paterson here.

Does a Whiskey with added caramel deteriorate quicker than one without?

I asked myself this question while drinking from an old bottle of Glen Marnoch Speyside Single Malt.

Back in 2018 I reviewed this whisky.

It didn’t particularly suit my palate – I found the added caramel a bit heavy & ‘muddied’ any potential flavours the Speysider possessed.

4 years down the road – long past the 2 years maximum storage recommendations for an opened bottle – I dug it out from the back of my spirits shelf.

This time round I experienced a subtle hint of what I can only describe as ‘burnt’ coming through.

Could this be the caramel degrading?

If anything – age has improved this Glen Marnoch!

I found this ‘burntness’ a far more attractive quality than the rather sweet & sticky caramel experienced with the fresh bottle.

Still wouldn’t rate it however.

Sláinte

Web article on storing your open spirits bottles here.

Original Glen Marnoch blog here.

Grappa Riserva, 40%

Popping into a Lidl in Lucca, Italy was a bit of an eye opener.

Apart from being familiar with many of the brands there were also differences.

Smaller bread & cereal displays contrasted with larger cheese & meats. The central isles were still in situ but the costs of the spirits?

Splendido!

The old familiar Queen Margot Scotch – €5.99.

She’s €22.09 in Ireland.

I was also pleased to find at least 4 varieties of Grappa for sale at similar prices.

Too good to resist!

Grappa Riserva made my basket.

Invecchiata Oltre 18 Mesi it says on the label – which translates as aged in wood. Hence the golden hue.

Quite a soft sweet fruity nose with overtones of caramelly wood.

Very easy palate with decent depth.

Entertaining nuttiness & soft tannic spice on the rear with a welcoming warmth.

Even with Grappa Lidl can produce a very attractively priced spirit that’s easy, approachable & enjoyable to consume.

Pity it’s not available in Ireland!

Saluti!

Trentin Grappa shares a business address with Bertagnolli Distilleria here.

My Queen Margot blog here.

Clanlands, Sam Heughan & Graham McTavish

I knew nothing about either of these characters before picking up this book other than one of them – Sam – was an actor in a successful series & had recently released a whisky.

Image courtesy Master Of Malt

The whisky in question – Sassenach – has already won awards & appears to be popular – but has attracted a degree of criticism from those in whisky circles.

Image courtesy Twitter

I just don’t get it.

Any celebrity putting their name to a whisky – or in this instance actively taking part in the blending & marketing – helps to open up & expand the whisky market to a new layer of customers & consumers.

Given that the whisky community is predominately male Sassenach appears – at least to Sam Heughan’s Twitter page – to have attracted a large female audience. This is to be welcomed.

Rather than being open & expansive many in the establishment sitting in clubs, societies & bloggers often come across as exclusive & closed to new methods & means of enlarging the whisky community.

There are double standards at play too as many of these self-styled ‘defenders of the dram’ often promote themselves as celebrities within their fiercely territorial domains.

Celebrity spirit or not – the actual taste of the whisky is my primary concern. I do recognise celebrity status does bring enhanced brand recognition with perhaps easier routes to market usually leading to increased sales – depending on the celebrity involved.

I’ve not managed to taste Sassenach – it doesn’t appear to be available in Ireland – but I do find the name attractive & the packaging certainly makes it stand out too!

This book however was in my local library – so I gave it a read.

The pair of actors engage in a laddish romp round Scotland dishing out historical titbits, name dropping, thespian tales, hearty food & plenty of whisky!

Like the whisky it opens up Scotland to a new audience – perhaps for the first time – attracted possibly by the dynamic duo on the book’s cover.

Blending popular culture, celebrity status & whisky together is a sure-fire way to broaden the appeal of the golden liquid & ensures it reaches new fans.

I don’t have a problem with celebrity spirits.

Sláinte

Sassenach is available from Master Of Malt here.

Sassenach Spirits website here.

Header image courtesy Sassenach Twitter here.

Sam Heughan’s Twitter here.

2 Controversial Whiskey Blends, John L Sullivan, 40% & Celtic Nations, 46%

Both these whiskeys attracted a degree of controversy when originally released.

Most of it centred around the interpretation of ‘rules’ – but I was curious to taste the results.

Image courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop

John L Sullivan Irish Whiskey, 40%

Named after a famous Irish/American boxer of the late 1800’s – which attracted initial upset – an original bottling of John L Sullivan displayed the legend ‘Irish Bourbon’.

Image courtesy Whiskey Jug

Attempting to celebrate the Irish/American heritage with a blend of Irish & Bourbon whiskeys fell foul of labelling laws & the bottle was withdrawn.

Before me is a sample from a bottle labelled John L Sullivan Irish Whiskey – aged in bourbon casks.

Pale straw in colour, shy nose, not giving much away, smooth easy palate, gentle growing warmth with a hug of sweet vanilla & caramel, flourish of mild spice on the rear.

An easy going entry level offering.

Image courtesy Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder

Celtic Nations, 46%

A collaboration between the Irish Teeling Whiskey Co & Scotch Bruichladdich Distillery to create a harmonious blend of single malts to celebrate the 2 nations spirits.

Didn’t meet the approval of the SWA & was banned.

Pale straw colour, gorgeous expressive nose of gentle peat coming through, the palate displays more soft Irish notes before the embers of a peat fire warms up the finish.

An entertaining soft peater.

Thoughts

Both of these whiskeys had great potential.

The pugilist inspired John L Sullivan pre-dated the global success of Proper Twelve & there’s been subsequent Irish/American Whiskey/Bourbon collaborations on the market since.

Cross nation blends have been a staple earning for both Scotch & Irish distilleries over the years – mainly for the lower end of the market. Perhaps this high profile open & transparent offering was just too much for the SWA?

Whatever the reasons – controversy is not a tasting note I encountered in either of these blends.

Sláinte