Winter Warmers Tasting – 23rd February 2018
Every year in February, right in the middle of winter, we do a tasting where we feature whiskies which really warm you up. This winter seams to have been going on for as long as I can remember so a Winter Warmers Tasting was required.
Strathisla 12 y/o – 40%
A Speyside whisky made near Keith, producing 2.2 million litres of spirit a year. Strathisla forms the heart of the very successful Chivas Regal Blend. It takes a really great single malt to form the heart of such a successful blend. The distillery founded in 1786, under is original name of Milltown used until 1953, and is one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland. Before it was a distillery, a monastery brewery stood on the site, so alcohol has been made here for 700 years.
They have small stills with tall elegant necks which makes an interesting spirit, fragrant and floral, but also with big fruity flavours. This 12 year old uses both sherry and bourbon casks – rich, toffee, full bodied.
Wolfburn Aurora – 46%
Situated at Thurso, Wolfburn is the most northerly distillery on the Scottish Mainland. Building work started in August 2012, and production began in January 2013. The site is 150 yards or so from the old Wolfburn distillery which closed 150 years ago. They have warehousing and a bottling line on site. The distillery manager is Shane Fraser. He has worked at Royal Lochnagar and Oban and was Distillery Manager at Glenfarclas before joining Wolfburn. He was employed at the construction stage, so was able to oversee the layout & equipment specification.
This is the Aurora, which uses both oloroso sherry and ex bourbon casks but has a distinctive Sherry flavour.
Tamdhu 10 y/o – 40%
Tamdhu distillery overlooks the Spey. It was founded in 1897, by a consortium of business men. The distillery was very modern for that time, costing the equivalent of £20 million in today’s money. It was closed by its then owners, Edrington Group in 2009, and was brought by Ian MacLeod in 2011. They have 3 pairs of stills, producing 4.5 million litres of spirit a year, half of which goes for single malt bottlings. Their malt is peated to 5 phenols parts per million, which gives a hardly noticeable hint of smoke.
For this expression, the 10 years old, they only use ex Oloroso sherry cask matured whisky, 50% first fill, 50% re-fill casks. It is a really good quality sherry cask matured whisky, fruit cake.
This for me is exactly what a sherry cask whisky should be.
Benriach 20 y/o – 43%
On 14th March 1998 – Alison and Myself opened the doors of The Wee Dram for the very first time. So, in a couple of weeks’ time The Wee Dram will be 20 years old. We thought it only fitting that we have a 20-year-old whisky.
Benriach was founded in 1897, and has a capacity of 2.8 m litres a year. From 2004 until 2016 the distillery was owned by Billy Walker & his 2 South African partners – it was sold to Brown Forman group in 2016 along with Glendronach and Glenglassaugh distilleries for £285 million. This bottling was put together by Billy. The new Master Distiller is Rachel Barrie, whom we know well, she used to be at Glenmorangie, and more recently Morrison Bowmore. She really is a gifted blender.
Benriach is a light bodied whisky – usually a bit light for a Winter Warmers tasting, but 20 years of maturation makes for a great big bold whisky.
Glenmorangie Spios – 46%
This very famous distillery is situated on the banks of the Dronach Firth. It was originally a brewery but converted into a distillery in 1843. They got their first stills second hand from a Gin distillery. They were, and still are very tall, 17 feet high, the highest in the Highlands.The very high, slender stills give us a very gentle spirit which is perfect for picking up lots of delicate flavours from the Casks it’s matured in.
Every year Glenmorangie release a Private Edition, this is this years, the 9th, Spios (spee-oss) – Galic for spicy. It is fully matured in American ex-rye whiskey casks. Rye whiskey is spicy – cinnamon and clove – and these spicy characteristics are imparted onto the Glenmorangie.I don’t know the age of this whisky, they say “several Years of Maturation” but I do know that Dr Bill Lumsden, Director of Distilling, whisky Creation and Whisky stocks, has been experimenting since the late 90’s with rye whiskey casks.
Talisker Port Ruighe – 45.8%
This iconic distillery situated on the Isle of Skye was founded in 1830 by Hugh and Kenneth MacAskil, sons of the local Doctor. Today it is owned by the mighty Diageo, who very much run it traditionally. It is a heavy, peaty, peppery whisky, very complex with lots of dark chocolate, raisins sherry and oak. it is just the sort of Dram you expect from the magnificent Isle of Skye.
Port Ruighe is named after the old Gaelic name of Port in the Isle of Skye, and is finished in Port Pipes, tall slime casks which are used for Port. The distillery was using Port Casks to age its whisky as far back as 1898 and this new Malt is a toast to the Scottish merchants who braved the high seas to bring back the newly discovered Port Wine from Portugal.
A combination of Taliskers powerful maritime character with succulent sweet notes of rich berry fruit for a superb contrasting taste experience.
Double matured in port casks to combine.