Golden Drams Charity Tasting


This was the best set of whiskies it has ever been my pleasure to present.

This tasting was in aid of Prostate Cancer Targeted Therapy Group. This group is a joint drug development unit between The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and The Royal Marsden Hospital (RMH).  It is Headed up by Prof. Johann de Bono, who sits across both Organisations, he is Head of the Division of Clinical Studies for the ICR, and a Consultant at RMH Whilst all the patient care and clinical trials happen within the RMH, the translational research on samples collected from clinical trial patients happens within the ICR.  

Professor Johann de Bono is and an international expert in the development of molecularly targeted cancer therapies against adult cancers. His team at RMH is one of the world’s largest phase I clinical trials units for cancer and has also led phase III trials of the prostate cancer drugs abiraterone and cabazitaxel.

 The Line Up

We had 56 guests and two bottles of each of the whiskies tasted were donated by the Distillers or bottlers. The most expensive whisky, the Glen Grant sells at £440 a bottle, so a special treat for all of us.

I’ve used the official distillers tasting notes for these whiskies.


 Glen Grant – 1966 – 40%

This bottling was donated by Gordon & MacPhail of Elgin, who have been maturing and bottling single malt whisky since 1895. As a result these guys are the undisputed experts at very old aged single malt. Glen Grant is a distillery in the town of Rothes on Speyside. Founded by brothers James and John Grant in 1840. The stills are a strange shape with a square bit between the bowl and neck, also they have purifiers on the lyne arms which make a lighter spirit.

Casks used for this bottling are first fill sherry Butt and refill Hogshead, I found this remarkably fresh and light for such an old whisky

ColoursTasting Notes

Colour – Dark Gold

Body – Medium.

Nose – Sweet Vanilla and rich baked fruits, apple pie, crème brulee, & almonds With water – trace of tobacco, lemon zest & Raspberries – subtle melon note.

Palate – Green leafy flavours, laced with fruity notes – rhubarb, hints of caramelised apple and cinnamon develop with trace of walnuts with water. With water subtle ashy flavour with oiled wood & walnuts, a melon & burnt raisin edge develops.

Finish – Medium with fruity & spicy edge.

Tomatin 36 y/o – 46%

Tomatin distillery is on the A9 south of Inverness. Founded in 1897 in the 70’s and early 80’s it was Scotland’s largest malt distillery with 23 stills, 12 wash, 11 spirit. Most of the whisky going to blends. In 1985 they went bust, but were brought by a consortium of two of their Japanese customers. Becoming the first distillery to be Japanese owned.

Today they concentrate a lot more on single malt production. This bottling was added to the range in 2015, actually released on June 29th.  This 36 year old whisky is smooth and creamy the contents have been vatted from a combination of ex-Bourbon and ex-Oloroso Sherry casks, there are only 800 bottles available worldwide, so a big thank you to Tomatin for donating two of these very rare bottles to us.

Tasting Notes36

AROMA – Pear drops, ginger snaps, butterscotch, vanilla ice cream, sherry notes, milk chocolate.

PALATE – Woody and malty, less sweet than the nose, and cloves

FINISH – Elegantly smooth and creamy with just a hint of spice.


Glenfarclas 17 y/o – 43%

This Speyside distillery has been in the Grant family since 1865, this whisky has been organised by George Grant who is the sixth generation to be involved. Although George’s dad, Chairman of the Distillery, is John Grant George’s Grand Father, Great Grandfather, Great Great Grandfather, and Great Great Great Grandfather were all called George. As  a boy George was worried that 3 of the gravestones in the village Churchyard had his name on. When he eventually asked his dad about this he was taken upto the distillery and shown 40,000 casks of whisky also with his name on – made him feel a lot better.

This is a 17 y/o which is normally exclusive to the USA .

Tasting Notes

Colour – Rich amber

Nose – Complex with distinctive butterscotch, sherried fruit and peat smoke aromas.

Flavour – Big, full-flavoured, with excellent balance, develops slowly, full of sherry sweet malty tones, and a touch of peat smoke.

Finish – Long lasting and smooth with a hint of spice and sherry sweetness. 


Tullibardine 25 y/o – 43%

Built in 1949 by the famous distillery architect. William Deme-Evans, a Highland distillery based at Blackford, Perthshire.  Since 2011 it has been owned by Picard a French family wine company originally from Burgundy. So thanks to them for this.

This bottling is benchmark Tullibardine, full-bodied, smooth and fruity in the mouth. There are a myriad of flavours coming from toffee, spice and dried apricots, through to the more obvious barley and vanilla notes on the finish. This is a Tullibardine to savour and take ones time over.


BenRiach 35y/o – 42.5%Guests

In the heart of Speyside Founded 1897, they operated their own floor malting until 1998. Since 2004 it has been owned by Billy Walker, and his 2 South African partners – Geoff Bell and Wayne Kieswetter.

Billy is a quite a character and a legendary distiller. He was an Organic Chemist originally, but became a Master Blender, and Managing Director of Burn Stewart a medium sized distilling company.  He has over 30 years of experience and is one of the most respected men in the industry.

We deal with Billy’s son Alistair so thanks to both for this bottling.

Tasting Notes

COLOUR – Gleaming rich golden amber.  

NOSE – Luscious tropical fruit salad syrup with a delicate ripped mint and chocolate back note; all warmed by a gentle toasted oak spice.  

TASTE – A classic Speyside style combining waves of papaya and dried apricots with freshly-sawn oak spices, touches of golden syrup and distant milk chocolate which gently flow through the elegant long finish


Glenmorangie Signet – 46%

I think we all know the Glenmorangie company, owned by Moet Hennessy, situated in Tain in the northern Highlands. They have the tallest stills in Scotland 17 feet high, gives a very soft gentle spirit.

This bottling is the brainchild of Dr Bill Lumsden, Director of Distilleries who says he has been planning it since college. Signet is a very unusual whisky with a very complicated recipe. At the heart of this whisky there are two types of barley. High roast chocolate malt, the barley is tumble roasted in the same way that coffee beans are roasted. Makes a rich chocolatey, coffee style of whisky. The other type of malt used is Cadbol barley grown on Glenmorangie’s own estate; Cadbol makes a creamy style of whisky.

Some of the whisky is extra matured in ex-sherry casks, sweet, spicy, rich Oloroso sherry casks. Gives rich spicy, dried fruit flavours and Seville Oranges. Some of the whisky is matured in new charred white American oak casks – the charring gives a toasty flavour while the new oak gives Vanilla.Some of the whisky is from 30-40 year old Glenmorangie, and some of the makeup is a closely guarded secret.

Tasting Notes

Colour – Dark

Nose –  A strong Aruba espresso fused with a treacly plum pudding, rich with sherry, and candied orange peel.

Taste – A contrast of rich sweetness with an explosive crackle of sizzling spices and bitter mocha.

Finish – A fresh spring-like breeze of mint with a bright citrus lemony-green quality.

Glenmorangie Stills 


Longrow Red – 12 y/o – 52.9%

We have to do a peaty one. From the legendary Campbeltown distillery, Springbank. Campbeltown, at the bottom of the Kintyre Peninsular is a whisky region in its own right, boasting 33 distilleries at its height in the 19th Century.  Fell out of favour through the 20th Century and at one point Springbank was the only operating Distillery.

Springbank is Scotland’s most traditional distillery – doing the whole process on site Malting, Making, Maturing, bottling, they also source their barley from Kintyre. It is still an independent company.  Longrow is their peaty version, and this bottling has been finished in Pinot Noir wine casks, hence the colour.

Only 9000 worldwide so thank you very much to Springbank.

Tasting Notes

Colour – Red

Nose – There’s a cornucopia of fruity aromas: marmalade, strawberry preserve, fruit coulis and orange sherbet. Not forgetting the tobacco smoke which is associated with Longrow.

Palate – The fruit theme continues with raspberry jam, and strawberry jam with cream sponge. The whisky has a sweet side too, rich toffee, honeycomb and candy floss.

Finish – Very soft, this Longrow whisky doesn’t disappoint with campfire smoke and charred embers dominating the finish. 


We raffled off a bottle of Ardbeg Perpetuum a limited edition – a peaty smoky whisky from the isle of Islay. 

The evening raised £1,800 for the charity – our thanks to all who attended and all who donated. 

Raffle Winner David with Adrian