Monday, 18 September 2017

Benromach New Releases #TweetTastings

Tonight I was lucky enough to be picked by Steve to take part in his latest @TweetTastings, this time is was to try two new @Benromach drams - and they were quite different!

As usual the Post Office were under performing and my samples arrived just in time, some of the other tasters didn't get their's...... Note to distilleries : send them out with plenty of time to take into account our overworked Post Office!

Tonight's drams were two whiskies which are to be released later this month - the Triple Distilled and the red wine cask finished Chateau Cissac. Now I'm a big fan of Benromach so I added my Sassicaia into the mix as an extra comparison!

So first up was the Triple Distilled, the first of it's kind by Benromach and limited to just under 16,000 bottles.

Whisky : Triple Distilled
Characteristics : 700ml, 50% ABV. Not Coloured, NCF
Distillery's info : "Light straw coloured malt, matured in First Fill Bourbon casks, tripe distilled the first of it's kind for Benromach"
Price : £45
Colour : Pale Gold
Nose : Pears and marzipan with a little smoke initially then developed with a little lemon and some ginger spice.
Palate : Smooth, slightly oily vanilla butter. A hint of smoke and a little kick from the alcohol but not as much as you'd expect.
Finish : Quite long, drying and spicy with a little smoke.
Overall : A really lovely dram, easily the best of the two Benromach send tonight! It had just the right balance of smoke and vanilla from the first fill casks.

Some thoughts from some of the other TweetTasters:

Next up was the 2009 vintage of the popular Chateau Cissac wine finish whisky limited to 4,200 bottles.

Whisky : Chateau Cissac
Characteristics : 700ml, 45% ABV. Not Coloured, NCF
Distillery's info : "Matured in First Fill Bourbon casks and finished for 25 months in hand-selected casks from the illustrious Chateau Cissac within the Appellation Haut-Medoc Controlee in South-Western France."
Price : £40
Colour : Gold
Nose : Winey, smoke - smoked cheese (Applewood or Bavarian)
Palate : Smooth and  oily again but with the alcohol kick missing from the Triple. Red fruit in a bowl of porridge (but it needed some sugar - there was no real sweetness). A little more smoke than the Triple.
Finish : Again drying and lip tingling - showing the strength mor ethan the Triple did.
Overall : This one was OK, I tried it side by side with my bottle of Sassicaia - another of Benromach's Red Wine Finished drams - but from Italy this time; there was no comparison - the Sassicaia was in a different league - more fruity and balancing the smoke a lot better.

Some thoughts from some of the other TweetTasters:

Many thanks to Benromach for the drams and Steve for organising, his 110th Tweet Tasting, and to everyone who joined in a really enjoyable evening!

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Whiskies Galore

I've reviewed one of Ian Buxton's books before 101 Whiskies to try before you Die and am slowly ticking them off as I continue my whisky journey - hopefully I'll get them all tried? I also enjoyed the commentary he added to the 2016 republishing of the book Whisky by Aeneas MacDonald from 1930. I was really pleased to see that Ian has written another book, this time called Whiskies Galore.

Just a minute - hasn't that been written already, by Compton Mackenzie in 1947?

It was about a ship running aground off a Scottish island and the locals helping themselves to the whisky it was carrying. Wasn't it made into a film in 1949?

And haven't they just remade it in 2017?

So has Ian wrote a book about the film, about the film about the book?

Well actually no, if you look closely you'll see the book is actually called Whiskies (plural) Galore. OK so it's about more than one ship running aground with whisky from more than one distillery? Well actually no, you'll also notice from the cover that it's missing the exclamation mark. So does that mean it's not funny?

Well some parts are but some parts aren't, confused? Shall I tell you what the book is actually about?

If you have read any of Bill Bryson's books you'll understand exactly where Ian is coming from with this one - it's a personal travel log of Ian's (and his long suffering? wife's) visits over the last 50 years to all the Scottish islands which have distilleries. Ian tells us a little of his visits as a small boy holidaying with his family, his more recent ones in a working capacity and the most recent with his wife. Included are stories about the islands themselves, the people that live on them and their distilleries (including Whisky, Gin and Rum!)

The journey starts in Arran and makes it away around the Scottish coast to Jura, Mull, Islay, Harris and Lewis, Raasay, Skye and Orkney - taking in a small industrial unit, just off the M62, on the way!

Whilst there is no "detailed information on equipment, still sizes, barley varieties, output, capacities and so on" or "exhaustively documented lists of 1001 different whiskies with lengthy and baroque tasting notes" for the dedicated whisky nerd, there are lots of interesting stories including the time Ian nearly bought a distillery; the time he tried to find a blue pipe in a field in the pouring rain; the time he went fishing with his father and a grenade; how he can tell us which cave the Ardbeg Distillery manager lives in and how Ronnie Lee keeps most of the distilleries in Scotland (and possibly the world) running!

There is a lot of history in the book - life in and around the distilleries; when and how the distilleries were built; the 'Clearances' during the 18th and 19th centuries; explaining how tourist visits to distilleries first started in the early 1900's but really took off with Glenfiddich in 1969; a couple of amusing stories from when Bruichladdich was re-opened in 2000 including Mark Reynier's 'personnel changes' and where their Yellow Submarine came from!

One of the 'strange' things about the book is Ian's own experiences of being a collector, not of whisky, but of pens and inks! He wrote this book by hand and tells us during each chapter which particular pen and shade of ink he used! For example the Jura chapter was written with Iroshizuku Momiji Red ink from Pilot in Japan! I can't remember Bill Bryson doing that!

Throughout the book Ian gives us a number of recommendations, as well as the pens and inks there are wayside cafe's to visit, log burning stoves to buy and of course which distilleries to visit!

I really enjoyed this book, I love travel and whisky so it ticked all the boxes! I was actually on holiday in Rhodes whilst I read it - getting the travel but unfortunately not a lot of whisky!

The book is in places very funny and in others very sad but is full of interest for whisky lovers and non-lovers alike - apart from the funny stories its full of obscure nerdy information from an expert in the field.

Ian doesn't hold and punches and I'm sure there are a few distilleries he talks about who probably wouldn't welcome him back with open arms! Two of the key takeaways for me from the book were Ian's thoughts on whisky scores and prices:

  • A tasting note is only one person's opinion and an unreliable guide to the probability of your pleasure. Above all, avoid the absurdly spurious accuracy of a tasting score of 94.5 points or similar nonsense. trust your own judgement; enjoy what you enjoy and don't let anyone else tell you otherwise.
  • Some people collect whiskies but never drink them. Some people - may they get help soon - even promote whisky as an 'investment', a trend upon which certain distillers have happily capitalised, leading to ever more elaborately packaged special bottles of increasing cost and vulgarity and a general drift upwards in the price of whisky. All this is to be deplored by the genuine and righteous student of whisk who understands instinctively that whisky is made to be drunk and has no meaning until the moment of its consumption.

You can buy Whiskies Galore (without the exclamation mark) from Amazon!

Many thanks to Ian and the publisher Birlinn for the copy of the book.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Any Port in a storm?

One of the great things about the internet is the opportunity to 'meet' people you wouldn't ordinarily have met or even come across! Twitter, in particular, is great for this and I have met and 'spoken to' loads of people on Twitter especially about whisky! Friendships have developed including drinking whisky 'together' and swapping samples. Over the last few months I've amassed quite a collection of samples and decided the time has come to try and get some tasted!

The sample box
I wanted to try and be a little creative so have grouped some of them together, as the title suggests all these samples have been finished in Port casks.

First up colour - they all look beautiful in the glass!

L-R Tomatin, Talisker, Glenmorangie, Edradour

I also tried to find out how long each had actually spent in a port cask but Talisker wouldn't tell me.

So on to the tasting notes!

Distillery : Tomatin
Whisky : 14 year old Port Cask
Sample from@WhiskyWings
Characteristics : 700ml, 46% ABV. Not coloured, NCF.
Distillery's info : "Soft, smooth and sweet, benefiting from its time spent in Tawny Port casks which previously held port for around 50 years. Rich but balanced aromas of red berries, sweet honey and rich toffee develop into aspects of light fruits and nuts on the palate and an abiding finish of smooth fruit salad"
Price : £54
Colour : Pale Gold
Nose : Raspberries and Apricots with sweet red berries developing over time, the port was there but only just.
Palate : Oily, salted butter, more of the red berries
Finish : Chewy vanilla
Overall : This one had spent the shortest in a Port Pipe and it showed, not much of a Port influence.
Link : 14yo

Distillery : Talisker
Whisky : Port Ruighe NAS
Sample from : @The_Cask_Blog
Characteristics : 700ml, 45.8% ABV. Coloured, Chill-filtered.
Distillery's info : "Double matured in port casks, this malt is a toast to the Scottish traders who braved the high seas and were instrumental in the foundation of the port wine trade. Port Ruighe, pronounced ‘Portree’ is the Gaelic spelling of the once-bustling trading port on Skye. The port finish combines Talisker’ s powerful maritime character with succulent sweet notes of rich berry fruits for a superb taste experience."
Price : £50
Colour : Pale Gold (Coloured)
Nose : Sea salt, a little smoke, and some winey aromas, completely different from the Tomatin.
Palate : Continuing from the nose - sea salt but a bit of yin and yang with a sweetness - slightly confusing! there is some oakiness and some honey there too but over quite quickly.
Finish : Smokey with a spicy pepper finish.
Overall : I just didn't like this one, the nose was very strange and on the palate I just couldn't make my mind up about the salt and sweet thing.
Link Port Ruighe

Distillery : Glenmorangie
Whisky : Quinta Ruban 12yo
Sample from : @SpikeyDog120
Characteristics : 700ml, 45.8% ABV. Coloured, NCF.
Distillery's info : "The darkest and most intense whisky in the extra-matured range, Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban has spent 10 years maturing in American white oak casks, before being transferred into specially selected ruby port pipes from the Quintas or wine estates of Portugal. Extra maturation in these port pipes develops Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban into a voluptuous spirit with a complex balance of sweet and dry flavours and an intriguing contrast of smooth and crisp, cooling textures. Non chill-filtered for additional aroma and mouthfeel."
Price : £50
Colour : Pale Gold (Coloured)
Nose : Sweet honey developing into dark chocolate with a hint of orange - yummy! The Port was there as a foundation.
Palate : Some sweetness, more of the honey and chocolate but with some underlying vanilla.
Finish : Warming and spicy with lots of maple syrup.
Overall : This was a lovely dram, the nose was delightful and the finish was superb.
Link : Quinta Ruban

Distillery : Edradour
Whisky : 2001 SV Port (13yo)
Sample from@The_Cask_Blog
Characteristics : 500ml, 56.3% ABV. Not coloured, NCF.
Distillery's info : "Nose: Red berries, oak and fruity port richness. Palate: Velvet texture. Smooth but lively on the palate with heather and oak, maple syrup, orange and spice. Finish: Warm spices with lingering red fruits."
Price : Discontinued
Colour : Pale Gold
Nose : WOW - this is liquid walnuts! As soon as I poured it out of the bottle it filled the room, nosing just intensified the aroma. It did fade over time and revealed a hint of butterscotch and the port.
Palate : Really nutty! More of the walnuts and a little almond - much like a Dundee cake but this cake was full of chilli too!
Finish : Drying, due to the higher strength, again more of the nuts and that lingering spicy chilli!
Overall : I really enjoyed this one, but nearly lost it - when I mentioned Edradour to my wife and let her smell the dram she disappeared with the glass! This is the dram which had spent the longest in a Port Pipe and it showed - on the nose and palate.

Summary : It was a close thing between the Glenmorangie and the Edradour for first place! I think the Glenmorangie just took it on the finish. The Tomatin was third but the Talisker was a distant fourth. I normally love smoke in a whisky but the combination with the port just didn't tick my boxes.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Scapa 16yo The Orcadian

Scapa is the little brother to Highland Park on Orkney in the far north of Scotland, unfortunately they have discontinued this whisky, but thanks to a cheeky twitter comment @MaltMentalist offered to send me a sample - how could I refuse!

Pernod Ricard, Scapa's owners, are the company that discontinued the Glenlivet 12 in favour of the NAS Founder’s Reserve, unfortunately they've done the same think here replacing the 16yo with the NAS Skiren. They do have a funky sideways scrolling website but the 16yo doesn't appear on it anymore.

Whisky : 16 year old
Characteristics : 700ml, 40% ABV. Coloured.
Distillery's info : "From the sanctuary of the Scapa Flow a smooth yet full-bodied malt aged in Orkney for 16 years this golden malt delivers a sweet and silky smooth heather honey taste perfectly balanced with delicate spice"
Price : Discontinued
Colour : Pale Gold (Coloured)
Nose : Heather and honey with a little sea salt - quite powerful.
Palate : Very creamy - vanilla and soft soft fruit - peach?
Finish : Quite long creamy vanilla.
Overall : A lovely creamy dram, quite different from the Highland park whiskies from Orkney, you still get the familiar Orkney heather on the nose but as Scapa don't use peated barley there's no smoke to be found. Some have said there is a faint trace from the water but I couldn't detect any! A very impressive dram which is worth looking out for on the back of a shelf in an old whisky shop somewhere!

Friday, 1 September 2017

Black Tartan

A surprise sample from @GentlemanGrimm with the comments "give this a try, it's new" - intriguing! Here's a link to his review.

Distilleries : 4 unknown Highlands
Bottler : Black Tartan
Whisky : Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
Distillery's Info : "Black Tartan is a blended malt created from four premium Highland malts.  Marrying a fresh, spicy nose Black Tartan has a vanilla and butterscotch palate and a cardamom and nutmeg finish to create a whisky of singular quality.
A versatile, easy drinking whisky, it can enjoyed neat and over ice, but it's also robust enough to work with anything you feel like adding.
There's something else different about Black Tartan. It's actually Scottish. It was named, designed, distilled, blended, bottled and boxed by Scots in Scotland. It is a wholly independently owned brand."
Source : Sample from Grimm
Price : £29
Characteristics : 700ml, 40% ABV, Coloured, Chill-filtered
Colour : Gold (Coloured)
Nose : Little bit of smoke, a lot of spice, some acetone. after the first sip the nose changes slightly and some fruit comes through.
Palate: A little buttery with vanilla and toffee, some spice on the edges of the tongue and some fruit.
Finish : Smooth and buttery with a little spice.
Overall : Although it's called black it's obviously a lot paler! It's not really meant as a straight dram more as a mixer with cola. It's not a bad dram but when priced against some similar single malts from the likes of Glen Moray or Highland Park it seems a little on the pricey side.
Link : Black Tartan

They have a funny advertising campaign going based on "Improper Scotch"

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Glen Moray 10yo Chardonnay Cask

A sample swap from Jack to fill in one of the blanks in both my Glen Moray and wine finished dram lists - this is a 10 year old whisky matured entirely in Chardonnay casks. By entirely I mean for the whole maturation process - this isn't a whisky which has been 'finished' in a wine cask - it's spent it's whole life in it.

Distillery : Glen Moray
Whisky : 10yo Chardonnay
Distillery's Info : "A tremendously rich Glen Moray fully matured in Chardonnay wine barrels, which has given the whisky an incredible depth of flavour with a perfect balance of caramelised fruit, butterscotch and lingering notes of toasted oak."
Source : Sample swap from Jack
Price : £29
Characteristics : 700ml, 40% ABV, 10yo, Coloured, Chill-filtered
Colour : Pale Gold (Coloured)
Nose : Wine, buttery toffee.
Palate: Oily smooth with more of the buttery toffee from the nose, a little hint of spiced citrus fruit.
Finish : Smooth toffee with some spice, very drying.
Overall : It would have been interesting to see the colour of then non-coloured dram - I'm guessing a lot paler due to the the white wine casks - I don't understand the need for colour to be added - it's a white wine cask - it's going to be pale! The whisky is very easy to drink - very smooth with just a little hint of spice towards the end - lovely!


Monday, 28 August 2017

Dark Storm from Talisker

This is a travel retail bottle which my brother bought me when he visited from the USA at the beginning of the year, as you can see from the photo - it's nearly all gone now!

The box says it's "a deep, dark and rich Talisker, matured in selected heavily charred casks to give extra spice and smoke." and to be honest I've got to completely agree!

Whisky : Dark Storm (NAS)
Characteristics : 1ltr, 45.8% ABV. Chill filtered.
Price : £70
Colour : Dark Amber - but coloured.
Nose : Wood smoke, orchard fruit, some smokey bacon - very BBQ like!
Palate : Very spicy, a little salt and some smoke.
Finish : A sweet honey taste remains in the mouth after a spicy black pepper finish with a little smoke.
Overall : It's a funny kind of smoke - wood rather than peat but it's delicious! The spice is really nice, some have likened it to chilli but I don't think it's that harsh - maybe like biting into a black peppercorn?
Link : Dark Storm

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Fire and Brimstone

An dark dram with a secret smoking process - who can't fail to be intrigued?

American bourbon always mention a Mash Bill - this is the percentages of different cereals which go into the Mash for fermentation - in this case it's 100% Hopi blue corn from New Mexico.

When you open the bottle the nose is assaulted by BBQ smoke, but Balcones doesn’t disclose how the smoke flavour and aroma is infused into the whisky, all they say is that "After distillation the spirit is smoked with Texas scrub oak, a short, shrubby oak native to the more arid parts of North America." Searching the internet there is speculation that "they use a technique called smoke injecting, where pumps force smoke through the liquid after it is distilled. This technique is less labor-intensive than smoking grain before distillation, and can result in intense, campfire-like smokiness that’s perceived a bit differently by your taste buds than a spirit made from smoked grain." However they do it - it is very strong!

Distillery : Balcones, Texas, USA
Whisky : Brimstone
Distillery's Info : "This one-of-a-kind whisky is smoked with sun-baked Texas scrub oak using our own secret process. The result is a whisky full of fresh, youthful corn and light fruit notes married with a bold smokiness. Whether you like smokey whiskies, or just have a penchant for big, new flavors, Brimstone is sure to be memorable pour. Aromas of masa, Texas campfire and powdered sugar backed by stone fruit, peppery spice, and mint. Bold yet balanced, Brimstone is yet another Texas original from Balcones."
Source : Sample swap from Maltman Mike (who didn't like it!)
Price : £84
Characteristics : 750ml, 53% ABV, NAS, Uncoloured, Non Chill-filtered
Colour : Treacle
Nose : Barbecued Banoffee Pie - very lots of sweet smoke!
Palate: Sweet and oily with smoked nuts and a quite some spice - chilli? Hides it's strength well.
Finish : Very long and smokey - I could almost taste it the next day - the fumes from the empty glass were still quite strong!.
Overall : A very decisive dram, Maltman Mike distributed a few samples and opinions were very mixed - I think it was nice as a sipping dram, but it is very in your face - would have been great at a BBQ! I didn't add any water - you don't need to the strength was very well hidden.


Friday, 25 August 2017

What's Grain Whisky all about then?

I've recently tried quite a few Grain whiskies, and been impressed by some of them, so much so that I've crossed out the word malt in my blog description! So I thought I'd try and find out a bit more about Grain Whiskies and what makes them different from Malt Whiskies.

Let's start with the basics - the Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009 formally define five categories of Scotch Whisky. The relevant category description must appear clearly and prominently on every bottle of Scotch Whisky sold:
  • Single Malt Scotch Whisky : A Scotch Whisky distilled at a single distillery (i) from water and malted barley without the addition of any other cereals, and (ii) by batch distillation in pot stills. (From 23 November 2012, Single Malt Scotch Whisky must also be bottled in Scotland).
  • Single Grain Scotch Whisky : A Scotch Whisky distilled at a single distillery (i) from water and malted barley with or without whole grains of other malted or unmalted cereals, and (ii) which does not comply with the definition of Single Malt Scotch Whisky.
  • Blended Scotch Whisky : A blend of one or more Single Malt Scotch Whiskies with one or more Single Grain Scotch Whiskies.
  • Blended Malt Scotch Whisky : A blend of Single Malt Scotch Whiskies, which have been distilled at more than one distillery.
  • Blended Grain Scotch Whisky : A blend of Single Grain Scotch Whiskies, which have been distilled at more than one distillery.

For me there are a number of key points:

  • Malt or Grain : a whisky is either 100% malted barley or not.
  • Single or blend : a whisky is either from one or more than one distillery.
  • A blend can either be of just malt whisky, just grain whisky or a combination.

Some examples of the five types are:

  • Single Malt Scotch Whisky : Lagavulin 16yo. Tomatin 10yo
  • Single Grain Scotch Whisky : Strathclyde 25yo. Haig Club.
  • Blended Scotch Whisky : Famous Grouse, Johnnie Walker Black 12yo.
  • Blended Malt Scotch Whisky : Compass Box Spice Tree, Monkey Shoulder.
  • Blended Grain Scotch Whisky : Compass Box Hedonism, .

So how is malt whisky made?

There are loads of good diagrams (Wolfburn) and videos (Kilchoman) describing the process but basically barley malted by being steeped water, then allowed to germinate, when the maltster thinks it's ready the germination is halted by drying the malted barley in a kiln, sometime including the use of peat, the dried malted barley is then ground (grist) and mixed with hot water (mashing) a process which converts the starch in the barley into a sugary liquid known as wort, this is then fermented using yeast converting the sugary wort into crude alcohol called wash, distillation then separates the alcohol from the wash (malt whisky is distilled twice, once in a larger wash still, and secondly in a, usually, slightly smaller spirit still) during the second distillation the middle cut of the spirit flow is collected as clear new make spirit, which is then matured for a minimum of 3 years in oak casks.
This is a batch process.

So how is grain whisky made?

William Grant & Sons have a great video but basically in a similar way to malt whisky a mash of barley mixed with cheaper cereals like wheat or maize (corn) is made, this is then fermented and then distilled in a Patent or Coffey still. These stills look nothing like the beautiful copper stills we see in a malt distillery - they are usually made of steel and look more like a petrol refinery.

Photo :

Currently no grain distilleries have visitor centres! Each still is made up of an analyser and a rectifier.

Diagram and explanation :

The wash is pumped in at the top of the rectifier where, as it flows down a coil, it is warmed by the heat of vapours rising up the still. Once heated, the wash enters the top of the analyser. The how wash then descends the column through perforated plates. As it does so, low pressure steam rises up the analyser extracting alcohol vapours, taking them back to the bottom of the rectifier. These alcohol vapours then start to rise, and are gradually condensed by the cool wash coils, with the grain spirit extracted from the column.
This is a continuous process.

So why grain?

Grain whisky tends to be milder in flavour and aroma than malt whisky, cheaper cereals and the continuous process makes grain whisky cheaper and quicker to produce. usually it is matured for the minimum 3 years then blended with one or more malts. Currently 80% of whisky sold is a grain / malt blend.

There are currently six grain only distilleries working in Scotland:
  • Cameronbridge (Diageo  - built in 1824, the oldest & largest grain whisky distillery) 
  • Girvan (W. Grant & Sons - build in 1963) 
  • Invergordon (Whyte & Mackay - built in 1959) 
  • North British (Lothian Distillers Ltd (50:50 Diageo and the Edrington Group) - build in 1885, the second largest Scotch grain distillery) 
  • Starlaw (La Martiniquaise - build in 2010) 
  • Strathclyde (Pernod Ricard - built in 1927)
Loch Lomond produces both malt and grain whiskies at it's distillery.

If you are lucky you can still get grain whisky from some now closed distilleries : Caledonian (closed in 1987), Cambus (closed in 1993), Carsebridge (closed in 1983), Dumbarton (closed in 1988), Moffat (Garnheath) (closed in 1985), Port Dundas (closed in 2009) and Strathmore (closed in 1980).

You can buy bottles of single grain whisky from a number of retailers including Douglas Laing.

After my recent samplings I'd recommend you try some single grains it will surprise you how good they can be!

Sunday, 20 August 2017

#GBMM2017 Wolfburn Distillery

On Saturday 12th August Maltman Mike organised and ran a little whisky tasting shindig at the House Of Malt in Carlisle #GBMM2017! You can read the introduction here!

As I've already written a "Newer Distilleries" blog on Wolfburn this one will concentrate on their whiskies which we tasted on the night.

Unfortunate Wolfburn weren't able to be with us on the night, it's a long way from Thurso to Carlisle, but instead they sent us a bottle of each of their four malts to try!

Wolfburn's four whiskies

"Four?" you ask, yes "Four" I said! We were very lucky to be able to have the first bottle of their new whisky : Morven to try!

Maltman Mike introduced us to the distillery then the pair of us took it in turns to introduce the whiskies as samples were poured to try.

First up Mike talked about the Northland

Whisky : Northland (NAS)
Characteristics : 700ml, 46% ABV. NCF Non-coloured
Price : £45
Colour : Pale Gold
Nose : Citrus fruit with some saltiness rounded off with a little peat smoke - delicious!
Palate : Sweet honey and some nuttiness.
Finish : A little bitter with some spice and smoke.
Overall : The youthfulness of the whisky come through on the palate - it's a little rough around the edges but I think you'll struggle to find anything better at this age.

Then I described the Aurora and No.128

Whisky : Aurora (NAS)
Characteristics : 700ml, 46% ABV. NCF Non-coloured
Price : £43
Colour : Gold
Nose :  A little sherry in this one as expected making it quite different from the Northland. A little bread dough or porridge, again with some nuts.
Palate : Some pear and a little bitter orange, more of the porridge and a little sherry.
Finish : Shery with a little spice.
Overall : A different dram from the Northland, obviously due to the different casks used to mature the spirit. A think overall I preferred the slightly peaty Northland at this stage.

Whisky : No. 128 (NAS)
Characteristics : 700ml, 46% ABV. NCF Non-coloured
Price : £70
Colour : Gold
Nose : Vanilla and peat smoke dominate with a little chocolate orange developing.
Palate : Apples, honey and sultanas, like that baked pudding my mum used to make when I was young! The peat smoke is always there but not dominating and a little vanilla develops over time - yummy!
Finish : Slightly drying with a lovely smokey finish.
Overall : I loved this dram, much preferring it to the first two! I am a bit of an Islay fan boy and love peaty whisky - this wasn't anywhere near an Islay but the smoke was just enough to satisfy - one to try if you can't take a full-on Islay yet!

Finally Mike introduced, for the first time in the world!, the Morven! House Of Malt were really excited about this one and really pleased to have the exclusive - it's going to be one of Wolfburn's standard drams using peated barley - look out for it next month when it becomes available here!

Whisky : Morven (NAS)
Characteristics : 700ml, 46% ABV. NCF Non-coloured
Price : £45
Colour : Pale Gold - a little paler than the peated No. 128
Nose : Pear drops dominate with a little salt, over time vanilla and peat smoke develop with the pear drops changing to more pear and apple fruit.
Palate : Sweet and oily on the tongue with a little peat smoke with them orchard fruits coming through again with a little spice.
Finish : Drying with a long smokey finish.
Overall : This is a lovely dram, it's different from the No. 128 more orchard rather than citrus fruits. You wouldn't guess it was only 3 or 4 years old, showing that Wolfburn have some excellent spirit which through the use of some good wood is maturing into great whisky - get some!

All the bloggers at the back of the room busy scribbling notes, but I think this is the first published review of Wolfburn's Morven!

Overall a fantastic set of drams, all under 4 years old, it just shows what you can achieve when you have the passion and commitment to create some craft whisky!

Many thanks to Wolfburn for supplying the whiskies!

Back to the #GBMM2017 introduction!