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 ...

Campbeltown Chronicles – Part 3: Scorchio!

On the third day of the festival, the Wee Toon decided to change its name to… the Costa del Campbeltown. As it was absolutely scorchio, we decided to make the most of the sunshine and walk to Springbank from our cottage. Our tasting wasn’t until 3:30pm so we had plenty of time to head in at a leisurely pace.  Or so we thought… Either Google lied to us or we were walking much slower than we thought. Quite possibly the latter bearing in mind that both Florian and Stefan were wearing lederhosen. Yes… actual lederhosen. Their gait suggested that this attire was not ...

Campbeltown Chronicles: Part 2

My previous (and first) visit to Campbeltown was in March 2015. On this occasion, I had booked a place at the Campbeltown Backpackers Bunkhouse; a refurbished old schoolhouse which now functions as an unstaffed hostel. The place looked great but, upon my arrival, I realised that the only other guest was a guy who, at best, could be described as resembling the villain from Scooby Doo. As images of me scrambling around on the floor shouting “My glasses! I can’t see without my glasses” came into my head, I decided to check into a cosy B&B just up the road instead. ...

Campbeltown Chronicles: Part 1

The Campbeltown Malts Festival takes place in May each year and the drive there was both entertaining and enlightening due, in no uncertain terms, to the inimitable and refreshingly un-British Viva Lenoir. After picking Viva up at 8:30am, before we had even hit the Maybury junction, I concluded that the wonderful Scottish expression ‘aff yer heid’ could well have been invented just for her. Our first stop en route to the wee Toon was Auchentoshan.The tour ended with a tasting of three of the core range: American Oak, 12 years and Three Wood. There was also an ...