Tag Archives: Scotland

Thistly Cross, Whisky Cask Scottish Cider, 6.7%

Whisky Cask Ciders don’t pop up very often.

All the more reason to grab this Thistly Cross Cider when I spotted it in a local Co-op Store when over in Scotland.

Suitably pale in colour the nose offered up a lovely dry apple aroma.

Crisp, clean & fresh taste augmented by a richness of depth to the body.

It states ‘Matured for six months in Scotch Whisky Casks‘ on the label – no mention of style, distillery or region given – yet I found it hard to discern any whisky flavours in the cider.

I did enjoy the dry apple influence & wholesome feel of Thistly Cross however & would happily grab it again when I next visit!

Sláinte

Thistly Cross website here.

All images authors own.

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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.

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

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.

Bells Steak & Haggis Pie

No – it’s not whisky.

But it does share the name of a popular Scotch Blend.

And it is a Scottish delicacy.

Or rather 2.

Pies

and

Haggis

All wrapped in a tasty meal!

If you visit Scotland & don’t partake of whisky, pie or haggis – you’re missing out.

I usually ‘go native’ & immerse myself in the tasty trinity.

Sláinte

Bells Food Group website here.

Bell’s Whisky information here.

Innis & Gunn, Caribbean Rum Cask, Scottish Red Beer, 6.8%

Innis & Gunn were one of the first beer companies I encountered using barrel ageing to give additional flavours to their brews.

This Caribbean Rum Cask is the latest I picked up in a local Co-op on my Scottish travels.

It’s slightly unusual in using Red Beer as the donor brew rather than the commoner stouts normally found.

I do like the neck collar motif proudly displaying ‘Aged 51 Days‘.

There’s a lovely foamy head on pouring.

I’m getting a dark, rich malty aroma.

The palate is almost luxurious – sweet & heavy.

Suits my tastes.

Another nice one from Innis & Gunn!

Innis & Gunn website here.

All images authors own.

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.

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.

Stroh ’60’ & ’80’, Original Austria Inlander Rum

A favourite pastime of mine is having a peek at other folks drinks cabinets to see what’s lurking there.

My friends in Bournemouth pulled out Stroh 60.

Never having tried Austrian rum before – I gave it a go.

A rather strange reddish hue greeted me on pouring – along with that burnt rubber, dark molasses heavy treacle kind of nose.

Oily mouthfeel.

Very sweet towards the finish – almost liqueur like – which just about hid the 60% strength alcoholic punch.

Indeed punch might be a more apt descriptor of this ravel novelty style drink.

There’s also an 80% version.

I happened to pick up a miniature when last in Scotland!

The reddish hue & burnt rubber were still there – but no amount of sweetener could calm the rather harsh & biting 80% kick coming through.

Until the finish that is – rather sweet & sticky.

If anything – the 60 version was more palatable.

Just wondering at which point a rum becomes a liqueur with Stroh?

Sláinte

All photos authors own.

Bell’s Blended Scotch Whisky, 40%, On Burn’s Night

I was gifted this 37.5cl Bell’s Decanter on my travels.

A lot were sold over the years.

Wade pottery made my decanter with production in both Stoke & Portadown to keep up with demand.

The design here was in use from 1966 to 1988 – but as my decanter sports a barcode plus 40% ABV notation it suggests a 1980’s offering.

To celebrate Burn’s Night fellow whisky fans were invited round for a grand opening & drinking of the Bell’s.

The plastic seal on the cap was intact on removal.

Trying to prise open the cork it split in half!

Undeterred a corkscrew was utilised.

Sadly it only proceeded to open up a hole as the cork disintegrated into small pieces & a tea strainer had to be used to filter the whisky!

Nonetheless pleasant sweet & fruity aromas rose from the glass.

Decent depth & a rich body on the palate suggested sherry cask influence.

A flourish of spice on the rear left us all agreeing the 35yrs or so in the decanter hadn’t harmed this lovely little drinker.

My only disappointment was not detecting any peat influence – which I was expecting – but hey – it’s not every day you crack open a slice of Scottish Blended Whisky history!

A lovely dram to toast Rabbie Burns!

Sláinte

All images authors own.

For info on Bell’s Decanters read here.

For info on barcodes read here.

For info of Proof to ABV changes read here.