A Midsummers Night Dram

A Wee DramAl Fresco Tasting – 21st June 2014

One of my favourite pastimes during the summer months is to sit outside, enjoying the lovely views across the Derbyshire Dales and sip a beautiful Dram of whisky. This is even more fun when you sip your Dram with great views, great friends and great food.


That is why 55 of us got together at the Temple Hotel, Matlock Bath with its great views across the Derwent and delicious Lasagne Supper; we of course supply the Awesome Whisky!

Just for fun we greeted our Guests with a Gin & Tonic made with Anno Gin 


The Whiskies


Arran 14 y/o – 46%   –  Purchase

A very Summery, light and gentle whisky. Started distilling, 29th June 1995, 2.34pm –  ish. Harold Curry, the founder, wanted a whisky which was different from the nearby Campbeltown and Islay whiskies, hence the lighter fresher style. Today it is still an Independent distillery, situated in the North of the island at Lochranza, which has a good water supply from Loch na Davie.

Arran Distillery is great to visit, we have been, only to check the quality you understand, all for the benefit of our customers. All the process is in one room, and only a small capacity, about 750,000 litres a year, so you can see everything happen. Also a great Café – again checked out only so we can advise our customers. This bottling is the 14 year old – fragrant and perfumy with soft fruits – peaches?

 The Line Up

Hazelburn 12 y/o – 46% – Purchase

Back in the late 1990’s Frank McHardy joined Springbank distillery in Campbeltown as Distillery Manager. Frank had previously been Distillery Manager at Bushmills in County Antrim. Bushmills practiced the traditional Irish distilling method of triple distillation – going through 3 stills rather than 2 as was the case in Scotland. So Frank and Springbank’s owner Hedley Wright, decided to try some triple distilling, and Hazelburn is the result.

Triple distillation lets the spirit see more of the copper pot still – reflux – makes a cleaner softer – stronger spirit. Springbank is the most traditional of all Scotland’s distilleries and does everything on site, malts the barley, makes, matures and bottles the whisky. The nose on this Hazelburn is aromatic, but it has a rich fruity flavour as well as they use sherry casks.


Strathisla 12 y/o – 40% – Purchase

Strathisla is one of the prettiest distilleries in Scotland. The whisky is a main contributor to Chivas Regal blends and is not so wildly known as a Single Malt.  The distillery dates back to 1786, but they have been making Alcohol here for around 700 years as this is the site of a Monastic Brewery. The necks of the stills here are very tall and elegant, but the stills themselves are small. making a gentle softer spirit which has plenty of fruity flavour.

This is a relatively new 12 year old bottling, came that out in 2013. It is floral with soft fruit flavours.


Guests Bruichladdich Islay Barley – 50% – Purchase

From the legendary Bruichladdich Distillery on the island of Islay. Saved from extinction in 2001 by an independent consortium, brought out in 2012 by Remy Cointreau for £53m. This month sees the retirement of long serving Distillery Manager Duncan McGilliray. Duncan has been part of Bruichladdich, while it’s been running, since 1974, so he will be sourly missed.

Since the Remy takeover people have been concerned about this Iconic distillery being changed, but it appears that the new owners are very happy to let the guys on site just get on with it. For example Master Distiller Jim McEwan always wanted to sell at 50% abv – the marketing wisdom said this would push the price up too much. But now the Laddy range is 50% or more.

Also this expression is made with locally sourced barley – from Rockside Farm on Islay, about a mile and a half from the distillery. In fact Bruichladdich helped with the cultivation of the barley paying for agricultural consultants. I find it very creamy, mouth coating and succulent.

Up to now all the whiskies have been quite light and very summery, but as the night turns if not cooler a little less hot, the whiskies step up and become more warming.

Ardmore 1996 – 43% – Purchase

This distillery was founded in 1898 by Adam Teacher, son of William Teacher, the families first distillery and it’s still the big belly of Teachers Blend. The name Ardmore means “big slope” named after the Glasgow Blenders family home on the Forth of Clyde. It is a large distillery with a capacity of 5.4m litres. I’m never sure whether Ardmore is a Speyside or Highland, I’ve always classed it as Speyside as the water comes off the Grampians. Either way Ardmore’s character is more suited to the west and the isles. I find it more wood smoke than peat fires, but definitely smoky.

This bottling from Gordon and MacPhail, sherry cask matured with rich dried fruit flavours, less Smokey than some expressions of Ardmore.


Caol Ila 1999 – Connoisseurs Choice – 46% – PurchaseThe Temple

So if we’re going to do a big peaty finish, why not the most summery big peaty finish – Caol Ila.

Situated in a sheltered cove near Port Askaig, on the majical Isle of Islay. Founded in 1846, it was completely rebuilt in the 1970’s so is a modern efficient plant with a capacity of 6.5m litres a year. It also has spectacular views over the Sound of Islay, the name Caol ila means sound of Islay, towards the Paps of Jura.

This is from Gordon and MacPhails Connoisseurs Choice range, the best selling of the range. It has been matured in Sherry Casks which adds a little fruity spicy note to the floral smoky iodine taste.