Review: Big Peat Small Batch Limited Edition (& vs. Big Peat Christmas Edition 2011)

BigPeat PBBig Peat Limited Edition Web Exclusive – 250 bottles – 50% ABV

Light straw to wine colour.

Excellent peaty nose, heavy strong punchy mossy peat, combined with smoke whiffs, with sweet vanilla ice cream coming through after a while.

On the tongue it’s peppery spicy and a little hot, partly due to the higher ABV. It certainly has Big Peat! iodine notes, and generally in-your-face Kildalton malts, costal and peaty with sweetness at the end. Hotter in the mouth than on the finish indicating younger malts, which often works best for peaty whiskies helping to retain the peat punch and profile. The malts seem perfectly blended, I personally can’t pick out anything too quickly, but Ardbeg certainly pops out with maybe sweeter Bowmore at the end of a long finish.
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News & Review: Briska – Swedish Craft Ciders

briskaglassIt’s not all about whisky you know (well, ok, it’s pretty much all whisky)… and being from Somerset as I am, it’s hard to ignore that cider also plays a large part in my drinking life with so many great cider producers around.

With that in mind I was pleased when recently offered the chance to try some Briska Swedish Craft Cider. Briska is the only Swedish Craft Cider available in the UK, and they have just launched a new 50cl bottle on the market, which is available to purchase online and in selected venues across the UK. Since spring has finally sprung, this is certainly a weather-appropriate time to give this cider a whirl! The brand is growing from strength to strength and will be available in supermarkets later this year.
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Review: Tomintoul 21yo and Tomintoul 1981 Vintage Single Cask

tomintoul-21-year-old-whisky21yo – 40%

93.5 in Jim Murray Whisky Bible 2013. The now discontinued 27 year old has been replaced by a 33 year old, and this 21 year old fills the middle gap nicely.

Summer gold in colour.

Rich oaky nose with grassy malt coming out, it goes from oak to malt and back to oak again, soft vanilla notes along with some stewed cooking apples, rich, smooth and creamy with summer hay notes at the back.

The palate is smooth and easy going, due both to the good middle age of this whisky and to the low ABV. It’s got a medium oily mouthfeel, with just a pinch of spices. Continue reading

News: The Scotch Malt Whisky Society shines the spotlight on grain whisky

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, the world’s leading malt whisky club, is today (Friday 17 May) launching a week-long celebration of one of the hidden gems of the whisky world – grain whisky.

Unlike malt whisky, which is made from malted barley, grain whisky is made from unmalted cereal grains such as wheat, rye, maize or corn. Traditionally, grain whisky has been used in the production of blended whisky and is rarely released on its own. But when aged for long periods, such as 20 to 30 years, in high quality casks, it can become a superb spirit in its own right.
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Multi Review: Glenlivet 12yo, 15yo, 18yo & Alpha

the-glenlivet-12-year-old-whisky12yo – 40%

Summer gold in colour.
Rich malty nose, autumn fruits with a dollop of vanilla ice cream on them, and a back note of woody Oak. Nicely rounded nose which gives way to green granny smith apple notes.
On the palate it’s smooth and easy to drink, gently oily and mouth warming with some spices after a while. It doesn’t instantly give the green apples up, it’s more buttery (with a biscuit base!), but the apples then come bursting through, although more mum’s stewed apples in the autumn with cinnamon and custard.
The finish is short to medium in length, but moreish and relaxing, asking you back for more. Continue reading

Review: Cutty Sark (Caskstrength and Carry On)

caskstrength-and-carry-on-whiskyCutty Sark (Cask Strength and Carry On) – 51.40%. Blended.

Light yellow to straw in colour.

A fantastic nose that you keep smelling over and over, it’s got a youthful zing full of malt (if you’ve been on a distillery tour then you’ll identify with being in the washback room at the end of fermentation).

On the palate it’s smoother than you’d imagine for something that may be a little young and certainly high in abv. There’s shovels of malt, there’s beery wart and light fruity tones of summer with just a touch of smoke at the back.
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Information, Review and Google+ Hangout of Ballantine’s 12 Year Old!

Ballantine’s 12 Year Old – Dissection of the blend…Ballantine's 12 Bottle Shot

So recently I was involved in a Google+ Hangout (that’s a bit like a Skype or video conference call) with Sandy Hyslop, Ballantine’s Master Blender, and various other renowned figures from the whisky world including Joel Harrison (@joeldram) from Cask Strength and Carry On, Tiger White (@EdinburghWhisky), Tom Thomson (@ifotou) and Mark Gillespie (@whiskycast). This session was to investigate the inner workings of Ballantine’s 12 Year Old, a look at some of the grans and malts that make it up, and the other elements that go to make this creamy smooth blended dram of beauty.

Have a watch of the video below for all the full details! I’ve written up the best bits in case you can’t watch the video, and there’s also various official notes.
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News & Review: GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 2

Cask-Strength-infrontGlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 2 – 55.2%

Firstly the PR blurb, followed by my tasting / review notes below…

Just five months after the launch of its new Cask Strength expression, GlenDronach, the award-winning Aberdeenshire distillery, has this week bottled the second batch of this phenomenal new single malt.
“It really is down to huge demand in the international marketplace,” revealed Sales Director Alistair Walker. “All 12,000 bottles in Batch One sold out in a matter of weeks and since the turn of the year our agents around the world have been calling for a second batch. We’re delighted to respond with this new expression.”
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Review: Tomatin 30 Year Old

tomatin-30Tomatin 30yo OB (official bottling) – 46% – Notes taken from live postings one evening on Twitter…

Tonight I’m blind tasting a Tomatin whisky. Strength, under 50%, so I’ll vote 46%, it’s peppery with a slight bite, that’d fit with that ABV. Colour is a light to medium gold, indicating bourbon maturation, and the nose seems to match that thought. It’s light & fruity, delightful! On the palate it’s got a full to medium oily mouthfeel, non chill filtered fits the bill. Sweet but full oak notes, plenty of bourbon, not quite the pure bourbon of the 25yo that I love, it’s that bit more fruity and juicy. It seems oldish, it’s smooth with a peppery ginger spice to it and a long fulfilling fruity finish. Yummy stuff! At a guess I’d say this is the 30yo [and it was!]. Continue reading