Sonora Gold

The last blog post I wrote (for this site, at least) was about five months ago. So the irony isn’t lost on me that this first review in ages isn’t even about a whisky.  Or even a whiskey. Despite the fact that Sonora Gold from the Three Wells Distillery is sometimes referred to as Prickly Pear Whiskey, the distillers themselves make the point on their website that, as the spirit hasn’t been made from grain, it can’t officially be called a whiskey. And yes, you’ve guessed it; the clue’s in the name. It’s a spirit made from the prickly pear cactus fruit. ...

Whisky and Women: Part 2 – The Revenge

For the second year running, our Whisky and Women event proved to be a great success. The event ran as one of many during the Audacious Women Festival and was, once again, a sell out. Of course, this was due to our fantastic guests as (and I think I pointed this out on the night) I never sell that many tickets when it’s just me!I was delighted when Louise McGuane, founder of The Chapel Gate Irish Whiskey Company, agreed to join us. Having been following the progress of Chapel Gate on social media, I was fascinated by the process of reinstating Irish whiskey ...

The Finishing Touch

The idea behind this tasting was to try taste six whiskies all of which had undergone a period of finishing in a different type of cask from its initial maturation. Nine different cask finish possibilities were given and, as each whisky was tasted blind, tasters were asked to deduce the cask finish before the big reveal. Cask finishing is now commonplace in the whisky industry despite only really starting off about 20 years ago. The cynics amongst us (and I include myself here) may well argue that, in some circumstances, its sole purpose is to hide the flaws of a not ...

Usquabae

At this time of year, when I’m inevitably asked if I’m ready for Christmas, my stock response is “Well, I’m not really a huge fan of Christmas”. My French friends always find it quite amusing when I start answers with “I’m not really a huge fan of such and such” or “such and such isn’t really my favourite”. They ask why I can’t be more direct and simply state that I don’t like it. My only excuse is that I’m English and that’s not a terribly English thing to do. However, for the avoidance of doubt, here goes: I don’t like Christmas. For some ...

Benromach 2009 Wood Finish – Château Cissac

Although I’ve lived in Scotland for a number of years now, there’s one thing that still outwits me: bank holidays. Depending on where you live, they don’t always fall on the same date. So on 18th September, as I was working in Fife, I thought I’d have plenty of time to head to the Royal Mail sorting office, here in Edinburgh, on my way home to collect the Benromach beauties for that evening’s tweet tasting. Well, that idea failed; the sorting office was closed and so I missed out. Now, I do like tweet tastings; opportunities to try new whiskies (some I would ...

Distilled 2017

The drive to Elgin was a slow one. Primarily because the ‘car’ I’d hired turned out to be an automatic Kia Picanto and, quite frankly, despite its go-kart like similarities, I genuinely believe I could’ve pedalled faster. I didn’t make too many new pals on the A9 last Saturday… I was heading to Distilled , organised by the same team responsible for the Spirit of Speyside festival. This is a very different event, though, as it all takes place under one roof; the venue for its second year was Elgin Town Hall once again. The event took place over two days, with ...

Cadenhead’s Convalmore 175th Anniversary Bottling

Convalmore. This is a first for me. Probably because Convalmore is a wee bit pricey. By ‘wee bit pricey’ I don’t necessarily mean ‘overpriced’. This is a 40 year old, single cask, cask strength whisky from a closed distillery and there were only 522 bottles produced. So, this Cadenhead’s bottling at £329* actually isn’t too shabby at all.  It’s just that there’s a fine line between self-employed and unemployed for me these days so I’m grateful for events such as the Campbeltown Malts Festival. Not only because it afforded me the opportunity to try ...

Travel Retail Exclusive Whisky

With the vast array of bottles of whisky adorning the shelves of the travel retail outlets at airports, knowing which one(s) to buy has become an increasingly difficult decision to make. One of the questions I am often asked at tastings is whether the whiskies at the airport are any good. I usually explain that, on the plus side, it is possible to save a few pounds by picking up some core range expressions at the airport. For example, at Edinburgh airport there's usually a deal where you can purchase two bottles for £75. Such an offer isn't permitted in Scotland due to ...

Highland Park Valkyrie

Dark Origins. A non-age statement whisky from Highland Park which I bought in October 2014 for £62.99. In my humble opinion, this is an excellent whisky and, reluctant as I am to see it finished for good, there are still a couple of drams left in the bottle. I was recently given a sample of Valkyrie by Whisky Rover; another non-age statement whisky from Highland Park which, when released, also retailed around the £60 mark. After Jason’s online antics of pouring the contents down the toilet and smashing the bottle with a hammer, I would have loved to have been able to ...

Closed Distillery and Lost Malts Tasting

Just a little over a month ago, I went to my first ever Jolly Toper tasting held at the Kilderkin on the Canongate. It is indeed shameful that I have lived in Edinburgh for just under 11 years and this was my first Toper tasting.  For those who don’t know Mark Davidson aka the Jolly Toper, he is also the manager of Royal Mile Whiskies. I’ve been to his tastings there on many occasions so, hopefully, with this in mind, I can redeem myself amongst the five or so people who read this blog.This particular event was a tasting of five drams (all 25ml pours, thank the ...