Wee Dram Charity Tasting - 20th October 2017

Every year on the eve of our Wee Dram we hold a Tasting where all the proceeds go to our two Charities, Pancreatic and Prostate Cancer. We ask some of our friends to donate the whisky for the evening, this year we had a bit a problem, we unfortunately ended up with eight whiskies to try. The guests rose to the challenge well, it certainly helped with the sale of raffle tickets.

A big thanks to all who attended and donated. Special thanks to Craig Johnson from BenRiach Distilling Company who brought a couple of bottles of his own BenRiach Authenticus 21 years old 46% to share with us and presented it himself

The Line Up

The Whiskies

Arran 18 y/o – 46%

I have a soft spot for Arran Distillery as it first ran on 29th June 1995 – my 30th Birthday.

It was founded by Harold Currie who wanted to make a light delicate whisky, unlike a lot of the other island whiskies. Harold died in March 2016 aged 91. Last year they doubled the number of stills to 4 which increased production to 1.2m litres.This year is the 10th anniversary of James MacTagget being made distillery manager.

This is the 18 y/o oldest standard bottling. Need more matured stock to make an older regular bottling.


Tomatin 18 y/o – 46%

Tomatin was founded in 1897 situated 16 miles south of Inverness in the Monadhliath Mountains.

In the mid 80’s Tomatin was the largest Malt Distillery in Scotland with 23 stills, supplying bulk malt for blending mainly to the Japanese Market.They went spectacularly bust in 1988 and were brought out by a consortium formed by two of its customers, becoming the first Scottish Distillery to be owned by the Japanese. – Takara Shuzo Co. & Okara Co.The Japanese very much leave the management at the distillery to run it how they see fit with very little interference from “head office”.

A few years ago they switched their emphasis from blended whisky to Single malts, with great results.When we started The Wee Dram, Tomatin had a single malt bottling, a nice little whisky, ever since each bottling has just got better and better.

This 18 is heavily influenced by ex-oloroso sherry casks

  In full flow

Ben Nevis 10y/o – 46%

Situated at Fort William in the shadow of the mountain.Founded in 1825 by Long John MacDonald – a mountain of a man, formally an illegal distiller and smuggler.The Distillery manager here is Colin Ross, who joined Ben Nevis in 1983, (he was at Laphroaig between 1989-1991).His real name is Alex,but when he joined they already had an Alex.

Owned by Nikka company of Japan. They used to have Concreate Washbacks with epoxy resin linners – when they took them out they were holding up the floor. That in itself wasn’t a problem, but the floor was holding up the roof. It’s amazing how fast structural engineers can get to Fort William from Glasgow when whisky is at stake!


Benromach Cissac Wood Finish

Benromach was originally opened in 1898, it was closed by owners United Distillers, in 1983.In 1993 it was brought by the Urquhart family, owners of Independent Bottlers Gordon & MacPhail.The distillery had been stripped of equipment so they had to start from scratch.A lot of Speyside Distillers had lightened up their styles in the 1960’s, what they wanted to do with Benromach was produce a whisky which was more like those made on the fifties and forties, bigger body, smoky, more depth.Gordon and MacPhail had whisky that was from the 40’s and 50’s, and whisky that had been bottled in that period.The distillery is small, producing about 800,000 litres a year on a small pair of stills. Small stills give a meatier, more complex spirit.

This bottling benefits from spending the last part of its maturation in Cissac wine casks.Chateau Cissac is in the Madoc region of France. Dates back to 1769, owned by the Vialard family. They produce a big bold red mainly using Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

 The Guests

Springbank 15 – 46%

  • Springbank is the most traditional of Scotland’s distilleries, they do everything themselves, Malt the barley, make, mature and bottle all on site. 
  • The distillery is owned by Hedley Wright, a descendent of one of the founders.
  • They produce 3 types of spirit- Hazleburn, Springbank and Longrow. Hazelburn is Triple distilled, Longrow Peaty, and this is Springbank.
  • Springbank is a little peaty (12-15 ppm) and also 2 and a half times distilled. 
  • This 15 y/o is matured 60% ex-sherry cask 40% ex-bourbon casks. I really like 15 y/o whisky.

Spey Fumare

From Speyside distillery, started in 1956 by George Christie, brought the land in 1956 completed the building in 1987, started production in December 1990. They did suffer from financial problems – need a lot of cash to run a distillery so the family sold out to Harvey’s of Edinburgh in 2012. Harvey’s dates back to the 1770’s and today is run by John Harvey McDonough who has introduced the Spey range. John worked in the whisky industry for 17 years, with a cou-ple of the big players, before resurrecting his grandads firm in 1996. He has been using Speyside distillery whisky for his single malt Spey range which was predominantly sold in Taiwan. Taiwanese are big single malt fans, with little time for blends.


Ardbeg Kelpie – 46%

This year’s Ardbeg day bottling, limited edition. 

They use virgin oak casks which have been made from Black Sea Oak casks, as well as ex-bourbon cask matured whisky.The Black Sea casks impart deep flavours, the wood is not only grown by the Black Sea but after felling, the trees are left to dry out by the Sea. It is named after the mythical sea monsters who can appear either in human form or as horses. Kelpies are believed to inhabit the five rocky skerries of the coast near Ardbeg. 

The Winner