On a cold February Evening a group of intrepid Drammers met at The Rutland Arms Hotel, in Bakewell for the now legendary Wee Dram Winter Warmers Tasting. Actually it was the third time we had hosted this Tasting in February, having done the same whiskies at The Telmere Lodge, Chesterfield, and The Flying Childers, Stanton in the Peak.

The idea behind this tasting is to gather together six whiskies with great finishes to keep you warm until spring comes.

  The Line up

The Whiskies

Glenturret – Triple Wood – 43%    more info

This distillery is situated in Crieff, Perthshire, founded in 1775, one of the oldest in the Highlands. It’s one of the main whiskies to be used in the Famous Grouse Blend – which sells about 36 million bottles a year. The distillery is home to the Famous Grouse Experience, which I believe is a sort of Disneyland for the whisky fan. Incidentally The Famous Grouse Experience is the second most visited tourist attraction in Scotland next to Edinburgh Castle, not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.

They have recently released a new range, a Sherry Cask, a Peated version, and this one the Triple wood. They don’t have an age statement then there is more flexibility available when doing a bottling they can use older and younger whisky.  As the name suggests it is matured in three different types of cask; American White Oak ex-sherry Casks, European Oak Ex-sherry casks, and American Oak ex-Bourbon casks. This is a really elegant whisky with a lot of tropical fruity notes.

 


Arran Malt – 12y/o – 52.9%    more info

Founded in 1995, by Harold Currie and it’s still an independent company. Harold wanted a small scale operation; they do 750,000 litres a year, but didn’t want a very heavy, peaty style like a lot of the other Island malts so Arran is a gentle softer style of whisky.

This expression is a cask strength version, 52.9%, a little water helps, The flavour is more Citrus Fruits, but the body is fuller, and the finish is surprisingly long.

 


Glen Scotia – Double Cask – 46%   more info

Situated in Campbeltown and founded in 1832. Campbeltown is a whisky region in its own right. At its height it had 33 distilleries, not bad for a town of only 3000 people. Today Glen Scotia is one of only 3 operating distilleries in Cambeltown.

The owners, Loch Lomond distillers, have recently released this bottling, matured in oak casks 2nd or 3rd fill , and finished in 1st fill Ex-bourbon casks and then transferred to ex- Pedro Ximinex casks. Making a complex sweet whisky. This whisky was a real star at all the tastings, and one I particularly enjoyed.

 

The Macallan – Amber – 40%    more info

This very famous distillery sits above the Spey at Easter Elchies near Craigellachie, founded in 1824. It’s owned by Edrington Group. Back in the 1960’s Macallan decided they were going to be the Rolls Royce of Single Malt whisky. In 1965 they increased the number of stills from 6-12.  In 1974 & 75 more stills were added making 21. In spring 2015 work was started on doubling the size of the distillery, it’s expected to be finished in 2017.

The stills are all small and have sharp angled Lyne arms, giving a rich, heavy complex spirit. For the casks they choose the trees, Spanish Oak, have them cut and let them dry in the Andalucian Sun for 11 months so they are well seasoned before they are made up into casks. They are then lent to Sherry Bodegas for maturing sherry, and then shipped, whole, to Speyside for maturing The Macallan. Due to their great success in recent years they have dropped using age statements, this expression is called Amber, which refers to the colour, the colours are natural, so the darker the whisky the more mature.

 Good Colours

Aberlour A bunadh – Batch 53 – 59.7%   more info

The distillery is situated on the edge of Charlestown of Aberlour, a lovely little town on the banks of the river Spey, also home to Walkers Shortbread. The distillery was founded in 1826 and is today owned by Chivas Brothers who are part of Pernod Richard a French Company.  France is the biggest Export market of Scotch Whisky in volume and Aberlour is very popular single Malt in France, and is now the 6th bestselling single malt Worldwide.

This bottling is called A bunadh which is Galic for The Original and it’s supposed to taste how a single malt would have tasted at the end of the 19th Century. Rich sherry cask matured, very strong, and each batch is slightly different.

This is the ultimate winter warmer whisky makes you want to lay a large fire and sink into a leather armchair, and as you sit there you might just think to yourself “I’d look really good in a smoking jacket”.

 

Bowmore 15 y/o – Darkest – 43%    more info

From the magical Island of Islay, the oldest distillery on the Island. The town of Bowmore was laid out by, the Laird, Daniel Campbell, The Younger in the 1760’s. In 1779 Daniel encouraged the distiller John Simson to open a distillery in the town of Bowmore.  The Campbells were always considered the kings men and because of this Islay and Jura were exempted from the Scottish Board of Excise until 1797, the levies being collected by the Laird. The town is dominated by a lovely round church, round so the devil can’t hide in the corners. Why the devil should be in church when there’s a perfectly good distillery down the road is anyone’s guess.

Bowmore is not quite as peaty as some of the Islay whiskies only 25 phenols ppm. This bottling is one of my favourite whiskies, the whisky is matured in a combination of European Oak and American Oak casks, but spends the last part of the maturation in fresh 1st fill Oloroso Sherry casks, also the casks are placed in Bowmore’s number 1 warehouse which is right on the beach. The whisky turns out very complex with rich fruit cakey flavour, with “bonfire on the beach” peatyness, and that perfect balance of roundedness and edge that comes with a good 15 year old whisky.

Happy Drammers

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