Old Favourites & New Friends – 19 September 2014

Quite often we get asked why we don’t do their particular favourite whisky at a tasting. We are also quite often asked to try new expressions at tasting hence our Old Favourites & New Friends Tasting.

Just to start off as this tasting took place the day after a historic Scottish Vote – I wanted for the record to state that we at The Wee Dram were very pleased that on Thursday 18th September 2014 the members of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club, in St Andrews, voted in favour of allowing Female members.

Anyway onto the whiskies.

The Line Up 

Glenlivet 15 y/o – G&M – 43%    Purchase

This is defiantly an old favourite. When I was a young chap, obviously turned 18, I started getting interested in whisky. Dad used to keep his good booze in his wardrobe, still does. I remember he had a bottle of Glenlivet there which was a gift from a customer. So Glenlivet was the first Single Malt whisky I tried – I won’t go into detail about when and how on the grounds it may incriminate me.

There is so much history regarding this distillery. It was one of the first to get a licence back in 1824 which annoyed some of the owners, George Smith,  illicit former colleges. George was reputed to sleep with a couple of hair trigger pistols under his pillow following threats to burn down his distillery. He also had a squad of soldiers to protect the distillery, the Captain married his daughter. Anyway the light gentle style has always been liked in polite society – for example George IV.

Today Glenlivet is part of Chivas Brothers which is in turn owned by Pernod Ricard. Over the last decade they have increase Single Malt sales by 135% and are selling 900,000 cases a year 5.4m bottles – closing on the market leader Glenfiddich with 1m cases a year, so a favourite with a lot of people.

This is one of my favourite bottlings the 15y/o from Gordon & MacPhail of Elgin, a little more age than the more common 12 with a bit more flavour and body.

 

Glenglassaugh Evolution – 50%    PurchaseWhisky

A new friend, the distillery was first founded in 1873, and closed in 1986. In 2008 it was reopened. The new owners got off to a promising start; however the distillery was sold on March 2013 to Billy Walker and his two partners Geoff Belle and Wayne Kisweitter, who also own Glendronach and Benriach. This was a great move and the reborn distillery is now doing well

This bottling is the Evolution, back in 2008 when Glenglassaugh first re-opened the guys picked casks that help the whisky mature quickly so this Evolution, which is actually 3 years old, but you could mistake it for something older.

 

Tomatin 14 y/o Port Wood Finish – 46%  Purchase 

A new friend from an old favourite distillery. You can’t talk about Tomatin without mentioning the legendary Douglas Campbell MBE, who is now their brand Ambassador, having previously being distillery manager. He has been at Tomatin for 52 years. He received his MBE in 2013 for services to distilling and the local community. The same thing isn’t it.

Tomatin was founded in 1897 and in the mid 1980’s was the largest malt distillery in Scotland. It went spectacularly bust in 1986, and was saved from closure by a couple of it’s big customers thus becoming the first Scottish Distillery owned by the Japanese. Today it is a smaller operation but is producing a couple of million litres of Alcohol a year.

This bottling is a limited release, 14 years old and spending the last part of its maturation in a cask that previously held Port. The soft gentle, and after 14 years, well matured, Tomatin whisky really picks up the blackberry, and raspberry from the Port cask, all great late Summer early Autumn tastes.

 Guests

Edradour 12 – Caledonia – 46%.   Purchase

Defiantly a lot of our customers favourite and the one most have visited. Edradour is the smallest distillery in Scotland producing less than 100,000 litres of spirit a year. It is owned by my friend Andrew Symington, who also owns independent bottler Signatory. The distillery is situated in Perthshire near Pitlochry. It’s a proper farm type distillery very small with only 3 guys working there. The equipment is quite old and Andrew is often seen in his overalls fixing a machine, weather or not it needs fixing, Andrew will fix it. The small stills and the old fashioned equipment makes a complex, meaty spirit.

I particularly like this bottling as it is a bit older – 12 years, a bit stronger - 46% - a bit richer more 1st fill sherry casks, unchilfiltered so a bit greasier (in a good way) and a good traditional Dram.

 

Talisker 10 – 45.8%   Purchase

When I was asking people about their favourite whiskies to think about including tonight Talisker came up a lot. So I thought we would not mess about and treat ourselves to the good old 10 year old. This has been a favourite of mine for many years – actually I started to count back how many years and stopped at 30.

It is made on the Isle of Skye and tastes just like the sort of whisky you need to survive life out in the Hebrides. Founded in 1830 by two brothers Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill. Owned today by the great Diageo.

I always describe the flavour as a peppery smokiness, not as earthy as some from Islay. I’ve always put this down to the balance of the smoky malt flavours and the rich flavours of the European oak ex-sherry casks used for maturation.

 The Ardbeg Auri-Verdes

Ardbeg Auri-Verdes – 49.9%                                                                                            

So the whisky that more than any other people say is their favourite is Ardbeg, made on the Magical isle of Islay.  Founded in 1815 although there is evidence that distilling had been going on there for a few years before this. Ardbeg was closed in the 1980’s, from 1990-1996 they run the distillery for three months of the year. In 1997 it was brought by Glenmorangie now Moet Hennessy.

So what Ardbeg to do – so why not a very rare one. This is Auri-Verdes which means Green and Gold the nickname of the Brazilian National Football team. There is a bit of a World Cup theme to the bottling.  This was the Islay Festival bottling this year released on 31st May. The casks were toasted oak the shafts made of American White Oak, the Ends made of European Oak, making as they say a whisky of two halves.

Thus we ended on a very sought after rare treat a great evening.