Saturday, August 28, 2010

Great places to have a pint

At home I like to drink whisky. In bars I usually drink beers.

Here's a few places that I felt was worth the trip by itself


1. U Zlateho Tygra (The Golden Tiger)
Located in the city center. In the area where thousands of tourists pass every day, but they probably pass without noticing. The front and entrance is very anonymous, and even if you open the door you might still wonder if you're at the right place. Flip the curtain aside then you know you are!

Here Pilsner Urquell is served. Not the usual stuff by keg, but from tanks. Unpasteurized. This is beer from heaven. Beer as it should be. Fresh and tasty. How come we can send people to the moon and so few places in the world have beer like this. Worth the trip to Prague wherever you are from!

This is where Havel took Bill Clinton when he was on a state visit. You sit at long wooden tables on benches and wheneever you're out of beer a new glass (full!) is placed in front of you (politely!). No time needed queueing for a new beer

2. Pivovarsky Dum (Home brew)
A mile or two southeast of the city center. A microbrew restaurant with a wide selection of own brews, from czech classics like pale lager and dark lager to more exotic sour cherry, nettle, coffee or banana beer, but also a weiss. Monthly special brews and traditional czech food

The beer is cheap, magnificient and having your own tube of 4 liter of beers at the table is a great way to share. Tasting sets possible. My favourite is the pale lager


3. Bon Accord, Glasgow
Real Ale. Brittains own style of ale. Less alcohol, less carbondioxide, more flavour. And the taste of "freshness" (like The Golden Tiger in Prague). Once you get acquainted with the taste of fresh beer, you'll love it. It takes a great deal of work to serve the perfect real ale. The serving system must be 100% clean (the reason your average draught lager sometimes tastes a little sour isn't always the brewery's fault).

Bon Accord knows how to serve a real ale and maintain their systems. They got several real ales on tap these days, and a great selection of whiskies. The real ales will change as the casks gets emptied, but expect Deuchar's IPA to be a regular. At 3.8% I find this a nice refreshing session ale, not the most intense IPA, but a good representative of what's popular from scottish brewers these days. It's particular vulnerable to be served from a good clean system so be careful where you order this. It's a great ale after a session of whisky dramming. The low ABV actually makes it possible to freshen up while having a pint. Nothing's like sobering up while getting pished :-)

Have a look at Ralfy's two vlogs about Bon Accord at

4. Port Charlotte Hotel, Islay
With great food and a selection of around 100 Islay and Jura malts, this isn't the worst place to be for a whisky entusiast. Port Charlotte and the hotel with it, is a stunning scenic place on the shores of Loch Indaal on Islay.
Expect to find Islay Ales on the taps, the local micro brewery. Its a very little microbrewery, located in Bridgend

Now I could really drink a Saligo Ale right now!. I wish I was on Islay


5. Hansens Brauerei, Flensburg
This is a small gem, very close to the danish border. A Restaurant with traditional german food, and their own brew. A pilsner, a schwarzbier and a season brew. Fresh bier again :-)
Don't forget to visit one of the neighbouring pubs to try the other local brew, Flensburg Pilsner. A much bigger brewery of regional size, but they brew a classic german lager and a very nice Weissbier


6. Hugo's Kælder, Køge
One of the best pubs I came across in Denmark, if not the best. Friendly staff, wee whiskyselection. A good selection of beers on tap, ranging from real ale, danish microbrew, american microbrew and so on. And they got a huge temperature differentiated fridge stocked with hundreds of different beers.


7. Panamint Spring Resorts, California

Isolated, Scenic and a huge selection of american microbrew. Get away from it all here, 30-50 miles to any neighbours, located at the mountains about Panamint Valley, in the outskirts of Death Valley National Park in California

Fantastic view

Fantastic selection


Well, I didnt forget Belgium, but have no recent personal experience there and no place particular to mention. The country itself is worth the trip, and there's great beers to be found every where. I really need to go again

I've put up all my favourites bars and restaurant on a google map, just at the right side of this blogpost

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

3 cheap common bourbons and Jack D

Out working again, and I thought I better get something meaningful out of the evening, so I went to a local (very local..) pub and asked for a dram of their 3 bourbons, just for a scientific comparison.

Well, Jack Daniels isn't technically a bourbon, but Four Roses and Jim Beam are

When I got back to my hotel, I had the last of my Buffalo Trace miniature, to complete this evenings vertical

Jim Beam vertical !

Here a short review

1. Jack Daniels

Burnt wood, liqourice, wood bitterness, bananas!

2. Jim Beam
Seemed fruitier and lighter than the Jack D. Less wood influence

3. Four Roses
Seemed more delicate than the first two. Vanilla, creamy, minty, spicy tree

4. Buffalo Trace
On par with the Four Roses, more spicy woody, citrus

I am pretty sure that having #1 and #2 first made #3 and #4 appear better. As I reviewed #4 last weeknd and last blogpost I had that as comparison as well. Today its actual pretty good. A proof that order of consumation has some importance

It's also clear, that when you drink 4 whiskeys, relatively alike, the subtle differences will be more clear to determinate. I didnt pick up the banana in the Jack D until I retried it after sipping the Jim Beam. But then it was powerful

Four Roses is made from from 2 recipes and 5 yeasts, a total of 10 different types.
Check out for a serious vertical of Four Roses

These four are the cheapest products from the makers of these 4 whiskeys. They All make other products that will appeal more to us whisky entusiast. These 4 are most often drunk with ice or used in cocktails, but I actually enjoyed dramming the Four Roses and the Buffalo Trace

George T Stagg from Buffalo Trace
Magnificient Stuff

Sunday, August 22, 2010


A Fairy Tale Story ?

Bladnoch distillery

Bladnoch distillery is Scotlands southernmost distillery, It's located just outside Wigtown in Galloway, and is one of the remote distilleries in Scotland. Diageo mothballed Bladnoch in 1993 and sold it to Raymond Armstrong, a building entrepeneur from Northern Ireland in 1994, with a condition not to distill. Raymond Armstrong needed a summerhouse and Bladnoch he bought.

Bladnoch River from the distillery

Raymond, being an entrepeneur, soon wanted to reopen the place, but it wasn't after many years of hard work and negotiating with Diageo he got the permissions. In December 2000 production was kicked off again. 
 A visitor centre was opened and old stock was acquired, and Raymond was able to release his own bottlings of Bladnoch. In 2008 he released his first bottlings of his own production, three 6 year olds, a lightly peated, an ex-bourbon cask and an ex-sherry cask. Recently an 8yo has been released.
 Bladnoch is a whiskyentusiasts dream of a distillery. The releases, both from new and old stock are single cask or small batches, often bottled at casks strength. Beside Bladnoch bottlings, Raymond also purchases casks from other distilleries and bottle them for his online Forum members. And it's cheap, very cheap whisky

Check out the best online distillery website here :

The cask of one of the first forum bottlings

Raymond Armstrong and a cask of Bladnoch

Ralfy and Raymond

Just this week the bottle no.1 of a 28yo Inchgower is being auctioned for charity. The bottle has the signature of both Ralfy and Raymond. Ralfy made a vlog about this bottling and you can follow the auction via the Bladnoch Forum.

Bidding ends 29th August. The money is destined for local charity 

The Bladnoch Forum got a lively activity, with regular postings from Raymond about the daily doos at the distillery, and participation from other distillers and bottlers as well as whiskyentusiast from all over the world.

Joining the forum gives access to discounts on both Bladnoch and Forum bottlings.

You can also follow Bladnoch on facebook here :

Well, this post was really an excuse to have a few drams, so here we go :

Bladnoch bottlings

1. Bladnoch 8yo 55% 

I have to say I love this bottling. Young whisky that isn't peated, heavily sherried or finished. Just plain "simple" whisky from good casks. It's very easy drinkable, and I have before described it's complexity as sniper like, and that still holds. After 2 or 3 sips the flavours starts to explode in your mouth.

It's a fresh, clean malt
Today I get : Mint, firecrackers, slight grassy-citus and some maltyness
The finish is very long and playful

Very more-ish whisky!

This should be a compulsary part of every entusiasts whiskycupboard 

Rating 89

2. Bladnoch 19yo 55%

Floral, minty, coconut

I have tried quite a few "old" Bladnochs during the last 5 years. With the gap in production of 8 years the bottlings from Raymonds older releases slowly gets older and older. The first one I acquired around 2004-2005 was 15yo and the most recent bottling is 19yo and 20yo's. This 19yo, one of the more perfume-floral Bladnochs (I find this quite a lot of Bladnochs from 1988-1993) is the first bottling I tried that appears more aged whisky than fresh whisky. In that sense it reminds me most of the 23yo Rare Malt Bladnoch, that until I saw the 20yo on the Bladnoch Forum just recently, was the only 20+ yo Bladnoch I was aware of, and is the only 20+ yo Bladnoch I ever tasted. 23yo Bladnoch was a magnificient dram and I am really looking forward to what will be bottled in 5 years time from Raymond, if any old stock will be left by then!

Well, this is essential the first bottling from Raymond I had that felt like "old" whisky when drinking it.

Rating 84

3. Glen Elgin 25yo 41.8% Bladnoch Forum Bottling

Sweet, candylike, well aged, slight elderflower, good bourboncask. Another cracker of a whisky from a bourbon cask.. The finish is long and reveals a bit of coconut and mint

Rating 85

4. Glen Elgin 25yo 42.5% Bladnoch Forum Bottling

Not far from the 41.8% bottling flavourwise, but not as intense in its expression.I've always had Glen Elgin on my secret gem list and these two bottlings are just more water on my mill ! 
Excellent whiskies. The ABV is lower than expected for a 25yo casks strength, but I almost always found that whiskies that has gone surprisingly low on their ABV relative to their age are absolutely wonderful. The alcohol content is low, but the whisky, and by that also the ingredients responsible for flavour hasn't been diluted

Rating 85

5. Benriach 23yo 49.7%

Spicy, very minty, meaty. Another cracker of an ex-bourbon cask. Some floral notes in the finish

Rating 85

6. Balblair 20yo 53.7%

An ex-sherry cask bottling. If you like raisins you will like this one. I get a minimum impact of sulphur on the nose but after 10 seconds it's gone. The sherry casks impact still allow a slight note of vanilla to get thru. A really good bottling that improves over time

Rating 89

I also reviewed a couple of Bladnoch Forum Glenburgies at this post :

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Buffalo Trace, Yamazaki and Benromach Organic

Around the world

I thought I travel the world and have an american bourbon, a japanese and an unusual scotch

1. Buffalo Trace 45%

Among entusiasts the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection is highly rated (George T Stagg, Sazerac Rye 18yo, Eagle Rare, William LaRue Weller and Thomas H. Handy Rye)

This is the distillery's standard own bottling

This bourbon has a corn-rye-barley recipe, is younger than 4 years old (otherwise age must be labeled), its chillfiltered and bottled at 45%

I find it easy drinkable, with a woody sensation. Not being a very experienced bourbon drinker I still have problems finding the subtle notes of these compared to scotch single malts, but this is cheapest product available from this producer and even here in Denmark its 2/3 of the price of the average 12yo OB single malt. So its a great value for money whiskey.

It's a sweet, intense bourbon with a nice finish, typical bourbon as far as I know and easy drinkable. Some bitterness and a burnt sensation in the finish makes this a dram I can't sit down and drink forever thou

Rating 82 

2. Suntory Pure Malt Whisky "Yamazaki" 12yo 43%

The nose is good, floral, the palate is thin. This is just another good example that 40-43% often has a great nose but feels thin on the palate. Well, proffessional nosers do add a lot of water so this all makes sense. Off course , the fact that I am an experienced cask strength drinker, 40% whiskies usually comes out as watery to me most of the time.

I have to say, that this whisky is a tad too bitter for me. It has a slightly soapy-floral offnote which isn't that bad really considering what I experienced in other malts

Rating 81

3. Benromach Organic 43%

Going Organic, the control of the wood used for maturation can be so hard to keep in control of that Benromach decided to mature this on new wood. Apart from being organic, Benromach also paid attention to mileage of the raw materials used for this malt. They decided to use very local barley from the area around the distillery.

Benromach, essential a new distillery on the location of the old Benromach distillery (same buildings, new stills), just had a 10yo OB come of age, and before that we had bottlings from the old stock and some young of their new own production (peated whisky, golden promise barley whisky etc.)

Of their own production this has been my favourite so far

Youthfull, creamy-buttery, vanilla and woody/minty with a delightful buttery finish

Rating 87

PS : Next week I will head to head Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, Jim Beam White and Jack Daniels

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Anoraks "versus" the Big Guys

 Anorak (wikipedia) : In British slang an anorak is a person, usually male, who has a very strong interest, perhaps obsessive, in niche subjects. This interest may be unacknowledged or not understood by the general public. The best known explanation of the term, is the use of anoraks (a type of rain jacket) by train spotters, a prototype group for interest in detailed trivia.

 Allright, it's no secret if you are visiting various whisky forums, that us whiskyanoraks sometimes isn't happy with the way the big companies  (and some smaller as well) are doing things..well....we still like their whisky thou :-)

 The majority of unhappy whines from the geeks (I am a geek as well), is probably due to the fact that some companies have bigger marketing department, than they have people producing, selecting and bottling their whiskies

Here are some of the major objections :

1. Caramel Coulouring.
2. Chillfilltration.
3. "Exclusive" bottlings where packaging and bottle shape has more focus than the content.
4. Marketing via pricing...a product is priced at a "ridiculous" level, only point is to make it appear better. Often goes hand in hand with #3.
5. Phobia of independant bottlers. All your arguments for not selling to them are plain wrong, except stocksize.

The hardcore whisky entusiasts tend to like affordable releases of small batch or single cask bottlings at a regular basis. Preferable at casks strength, and unchillfiltered without doubt

Now, we shouldn't forget that a company has to earn money, and what is on the shelves around us is what sells, but I still have a few comments about 4 of the biggest operators, they aren't doing it all wrong :-)

1. Diageo
The biggest - this is basically the "We make Johnny Walker"-company, but they do bottle quite a range of single malts, which unfortunately isn't unchillfiltered. At a lot of their distilleries, distillery-only cask strength bottlings are available at decent prices, and for us anoraks they have the annual releases.
I could ask for more bottlings of the likes of Lagavulin 12yo cask strength and the Glen Elgin 16yo cask strength, beside the more expensive annual releases.
The Manager's Choice series was an own-goal, nuff said...
The quality of their distillery tours are very good, and at some of their distilleries, extended tours are available at relatively cheap prices. Their support and participation to the Spirit of Speyside festival is outstanding
Glen Elgin 16yo, photo nicked from the The Whisky Exchange

2. Chivas
 Chivas Regal and Ballentines are the big blends here, but they also have one of the top malt sellers : Glenlivet, or The Glenlivet - other distilleries used to steal the "-glenlivet" as suffix, now the ones that wants to appear exclusive started copying the "The" prefix.
 Their other distilleries, apart from Aberlour, gets little or no attention from the main company as single malt whisky and I would even say that Scapa gets a somehow confused attention. Not sure they really know where to take this.. 
 Aberlour is an anoraks dream of a distillery. The cask strength batch bottlings in the A'bunadh series is an example to follow. 
Glenlivet has Nadurra, but the bottling strength must be determined by the Scapa-department..back to full strength please!
 The Cask Strength Edition series is a great series, I wish it was general available and not just at their distilleries. I understand that distillery-only is a nice thing to have, but not at the expense at what's available in general. Bottle whisky yourself straight-from the cask is possible at Aberlour and Aberlour also offers a range of different tours, which are a bit pricey thou.
I'd like to see something like the Cask Strength Edition series made general available, the bottles size, shape, label, price and ABV really appeals to me

3. Grants
 Too phobic about independant bottlers, why miss all that free marketing?
Being the first to bottle single malts on bigger markets, they are somehow too conservative in their approach. But things have improved the last few years. They did recently start with extended tours, which should be a tad more extended in my opinion. Good things is that you can now bottle your own Glenfiddich and Balvenie straigth from cask at the distillery
 The Balvenie 15yo as the main attraction for us anoraks - great whisky and good value for money..and its single barrel batches. More like this please!

4. Edrington
 Having two great distilleries, Highland Park and Macallan, that are responsible for making a lot of people malt whisky drinkers, this company has a tendency of loosing people again. 
I do think their bottlings tend to be too expensive and too low ABV. I picked up a nice single cask bottling at Beltramo's at a not too expensive price, but I think San Jose, California is a bit too far away to travel for whisky shopping on a regular basis :-)
 This company can improve a lot in my opinion, I'd prefer to see some exciting affordable bottlings instead of various marketing campaigns like the Macallan ice ball or when more care was laid into a photo accompaning the bottle than the whisky itself.
Their marketing often seems confused, with regular changes in ABV's and approaches. Very occasionally something interesting pops up like Earl Magnus, but it's not impressive the way they price that in Denmark relative to UK prices...
Only bottlings I can think of recently was the Hjärta (expensive thou), but there's always the Macallan 10yo cask strengths if I can't find anything else.
 I did have a great tour at Highland Park when it was organised by someone "they knew" but walking in from the street I had a couple or 3 of really terrible experiences with this company, which is just too many. I might have been unlucky but a tourist travelling to Orkney and booking an extended tour should get a decent experience, it shouldn't be necesary to book via a brand ambassador for that. 
 These days it's very far between I purchase Macallan and Highland Park. Nothing wrong with the whisky, but it's seldom bottled at an ABV I like or at a price I find reasonable.

Macallan Ice Balls

Well, I know that venturing into the anoraks market isn't easy for these companies, as the market is a fraction to the great blend market, and instead of battling 3-4 other major brands you have to compete against 100's and 100's of other unique bottlings, but a company should remember one thing, this market doesn't need any marketing really, just good cheap whisky :-) and the word of mouth will do the rest

Well, that's my opinion, there's probably be quite a few who disagree with me :-)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Celebrating WhiskyEmporium

Keith Wood is english and living in Germany, and his whiskyblog/website contains tasting notes for almost every distillery available, closed or open. Beside that a long range of articles about whisky and what not

Celebrating his 500th review he shared a dram, via a competition on twitter and and I was one of the lucky winners, thanks Keith.

The Moffat complex near Glasgow, contained the distilleries of Glen Flagler, Killyloch and Garnheath (Grain), all opened in the mid sixties, but  the distilleries closed one by one with Killyloch first in the 70's and all were demolished in 1986. The whiskies are quite rare

The Glen Flagler name was also used as a name for a vatted malt (A blend of different single malts, not to be confused with a "blenden whisky" which contains grain whisky as well as malt whisky)

Here's the sample I received 1 week ago

Glen Flagler Pure Malt 40%

The nose is quite pleasant, classical whisky on the sweeter side, I find it typical for multicask vattings and this actually reminds me of the average flora fauna bottling- This Glen Flagler got slightly more intensity or oomph than the average bottling and with its good nose its very enjoyable. Blind I would have guessed it to be an oldfashioned bottling from lets say Balblair before they decided to up their ABV and go unchillfiltered

This a mainstream dram and on par with 12yo OB's that got most of us started in the malt whisky business

Nose : simple, sweet, citrus, and slightly youth, classic whisky whisky
Palate : Sweet, tealike with a hint of citrus and mint
Finish : surprisingly long

Rating 83 I'd like to try this at a higher ABV

WhiskyEmporium's 500th review here :

Congratulations with the 500th review Keith and thanks again for a nice dram. It lived me up after work, sitting in a hotel far from my home and my own whiskycupboard!

Holbæk Hostel, now immortalised by having a Glen Flagler consumed inside

Sunday, August 15, 2010

3 Ryes and a Bourbon

Well I have some samples and bottles of american whiskies, and it isn't supermarket shelf brands, but 4 bottlings quite rare and hard - if not impossible - to find.

Where scottish single malt whisky refers to distilleries, american bourbon is more brand orientated, or quite often it's more recipe orientated. A bourbon brand can change distillery of origin, but the recipe usually remains the same. Bourbons from Jim Beam is made at two different distilleries (Boston and Clermont in Kentucky), but I have never seen any emphasis on any on these distilleries



Recipe is a keyword. A bourbon most contain at least 51% corn, be matured on fresh oak barrels, no minimum time required. Most bourbons are from Kentucky, but there's no location restriction. There's bourbons being made in a lot of US states. It's called bourbon after the old bourbon county, which used to cover most of Kentucky. The whiskey style produced here took name after the area of origin, but today it's only a catagory of whisky, origin can be from anywhere. So Old Bourbon whiskey, doesn't refer to the whiskey's age, but the Old Bourbon County. Straigh Bourbon has a minimum age requirement of 2 years on wood. Rye whiskeys are a minority production at most bourbon distilleries and is produced on a far lesser scale than bourbon products. To be named a straight rye whiskey it needs at least 51% rye and 2 years on wood

The remaining part of a bourbon is always some barley (contains important enzymes for fermentation process) and the rest is usually wheat or rye. There's a subcatagory of wheat bourbon and rye bourbon, which describes the last 35-45% and it has an impact on the resulting flavour. Corn is regarded as giving a more neutral flavour of these three grains. Rye, as I discovered when drinking the ones I review below, adds flavour.

Danish rye bread. I eat that almost daily

Just recently a distillery by the name of High West has started up in Utah of all places. Nothing aged has come out from the distillery yet, but they have bottled a series of well aged ryes and bourbons under the High West name, but distilled at other distilleries. Independant bottler style.

1. High West Rendezvous Rye 46%. Batch 48
Wow. This is aromatic. The nose reminds me of gin and Old Spiced aftershave. It really took me 3-4 drams just to get used to this, it's so different  from what I am used to drink, which is single malt whisky. This is an acquired taste, but it's winning on me. The first time I tried this 2 weeks ago I was sceptical, but just after a few drams I really like it. It's not that hard to teach an old dog a new trick ! According to John Hansell's blog this is a blend of two rye whiskies, a 6 year old made from 95% rye and a 16 year old made from 80% rye. As soon as you get used to drinking Old Spice :-), a sweet, woody and very very drinkable rye whiskey emerges.  

Rating 86 but be careful of this one if you have phobic tendencies

2. High West 16yo Rocky Mountain Rye 46% Batch 2
The connection to the Rendezvous is clear. The Gin/Old Spice is gone, instead I get the impression of forest resins and a lot of vanilla notes. For a traditional malt whisky consumer like me this is a much more approachable dram than the rendezvous. At Cognac and Rum tasting I often find my favourites to be the one that reminded me most of a single malt. But sometimes you just need to get used to new flavours. The intensity of these ryes and smack-in-your face flavours is something you need to acknowledge as well. It's 46% so I reckon quite a lot of water has been added, especially knowing GTS is around 70% casks strength. But it's still very flavourful and also easy drinkable

Rating 87

High West ryes is rumoured to be distilled at LDI Lawrenceburg plant. A big thanks to Jens-Erik Schjødt Svensson for sharing the bottles of High West he brought back from Chicago with me !

3. A.H Hirsch Reserve 45.8% Distilled 1974 at Michter's, Pennsylvania. Straight Bourbon Whisky 

Coming from the ryes, the first I notice is caramel, and I don't mean e150!, more the candy-fudge type of caramel. It's woody like a very old single malt with a very big note of blackcurrant. I like this. I like it a lot. The combination of ABV, age and woodiness is perfect, and the fine twist the blackcurrant gives me is marvelous. This bourbon is far from as spicy as the ryes.
Michter's distillery closed in 1988 and this bourbon has been kept on stainless steel tanks beyond its labeled age to keep it from ageing further

Rating 89

A big thanks to Jørn G Pedersen for the sample

4. Bitter Truth Rye Whiskey. Aged 24 years. 69.2%
A german independant bottling of a rye from a closed distillery. Rumoured to be from Bernheim.
Woody, spicy and fruity. The ABV is not for the faint-hearted. Liqourice. Oranges. Earthy. Minty. Just as with the George T. Staggs (GTS) I find  this is best consumed dropwise for an explosion of flavours in your mouth

Rating 89

Big thanks to Gormie for picking up the bottle for me

Links :

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Glenburgie 1890

 Glenburgie is considered a Speyside destillery, it's located just outside Forres on the road towards Elgin and is geographically not Speyside but more Findhornside if that's a name used.

Glenlossie 1956

Lomond Stills at Glenburgie

 Glenburgie distillery was founded as Kilnflat distillery in 1810 and renamed Glenburgie-Glenlivet in 1878. From 1958 to 1981 the distillery had Lomond Stills installed where a malt named Glencraig was produced

 When Chivas Brothers (Pernod Ricard) acquired Allied Domecq in 2005 Glenburgie became part of this group. Chivas has Glenlivet as their malt flagship, Strathisla as combined visitor center for the Chivas blends and Strathisla 12yo, but I guess that Aberlour is their highest regarded distillery among anoraks, at least that's how Aberlour appears when you visit it - tours on several levels, opportunity to bottle straigh from a cask (two when I was there, actually) - a chance to purchase something really unique. The A'Bunadh series of cask strengths batches Aberlour is a famous and highly regarded series of bottlings amongst whisky entusiasts. 
 To me it seems that the tours available at their 3 visitor centres are aimed at different audiences to some degree.
 The rest of their distilleries is not really open for the public, but we were lucky to get a visit at Glenburgie, when being in the region at the Spirit of Speyside whiskyfestival 2010. We also visited Aberlour and Strathisla that weekend , so we saw different aspects of one of the biggest operators in the malt whisky business. 

With the acquisition of Allied Domecq, Chivas got hold of the Ballentines blend and at Glenburgie they promote this more than Glenburgie itself

Glenburgies new production building

The moderne all-in-one production building of Glenburgie. Here you see the stills, with a tiny bit of the mash tun. All the washbacks are located just next to the mash tun

Glenburgie Mash Tun

Glenburgie isn't being promoted as a single malt. Gordon and Macphail does a good 10yo where they have matured Glenburgie in their own casks. This is actually very cheap and some of the best quality for money whisky available. From Chivas self, Glenburgie is available in the Chivas cask strength edition series, a series of 0.5l bottlings, bottled at cask strength, supposed to be avilable only at their distilleries

If you want to explore Glenburgie and Glencraig further you have to go hunt down independent bottlings. Recently a friend, Thomas Korsgaard hosted a Glenburgie day, where we went through this huge set :

Glenburgie newmake, G&M 10yo, G&M 41yo 1964, Glencraig 35yo Duncan Taylor

Glencraig SMWS 34yo, Cadenhead 11yo, 15yo and 18yo

OMC 12yo, Chivas CE Edition 15yo (sample) Signatory 25yo
Carn Mor 25yo, Bladnoch Forum 26yo and 25yo, and something special :

Michael Langelund and Thomas Korsgaard getting some old Glenburgie 30yo straight from a cask
Thanks to Alex Robertson from Chivas for taking the time to show 4 anoraks around Glenburgie, and sharing some old Glenburgie photos with us
More details on the bottlings at Thomas Korsgaards vertical here : 
(Google translate might be needed !)

1. Glenburgie-Glenlivet 11yo Cadenheads 59.8% 20cl bottle
Nose : sweet honey
Palate : spicy woody sweetness, nutty, clean and crisp warming ex-bourbon
quite bitter on the finish
Rating 80

2. Glenburgie Chivas Cask Strength edition 15yo 1992-2007 GB 15001 58.8% (Thanks Karl Ejnar)
Nose : mild, slight vanilla
Palate :  apple and pear fruityness, nutty, clean and crisp warming ex-bourbon
Clearly associable with the Cadenheads, both being ex-bourbon it's not in the minty-vanilla catagory, more the "warm" nutty kind of whisky
Rating 85

3. Glenburgie 25yo 53.5% cask 9804 Bladnoch Forum
Nose : delightful sweetness like a fruity winegum
Palate : earthiness combined with a candylike sweetness, the wood is quite giving with mint and some bitterness
Finish : Slightly bitter and minty
From the whole range of wellaged Glenburgies tasted, this is a true and typical expression of old Glenburgie
Rating 85

4. Glenburgie 26yo 53.6% cask 9803 Bladnoch Forum
Nose : warm, earthy
Palate : more earthiness, mint, quite bitter
Finish : Medium and more bitterness
Rating 85

Thomas Korsgaard is guestreviewing  the two Glencraigs :

Glencraig 35yo 42,4%, Duncan Taylor, Cask 2922, Dist. March 1974, Bottled July 2009, Bottle 18/224 
Nose: Floral, hay, earthyniss
Palate: vanilla, winegune and a typical Duncan taylor old age thing.
Finish: Medium, soft and warming
Rating: 90

Glencraig 34yo 48,4%, SMWS “Angels on Horseback”, 1 of 191 bottles 
Nose: Banana, Toffee
Palate: Leather, hint of sharp perfume, but still sweet, beewax
Finish: Mediumlong, sharp

Rating: 88 

he also supplied WhiskyEmporium with Glencraig samples here :

Friday, August 6, 2010

Jørn's Springbank

It's great to have friends... it's great to drink whisky. Whisky have brought me a lot of friends, and there's nothing like dramming with a group of friends or exchanging samples with friends. One of my friends is a bit different from the others..instead of bottles of whiskies, he is into purchasing casks..well maybe not instead of bottles, but "as well" as bottles :-)

Jørn G Pedersen is a great guy, that apart from swapping samples with me enjoys golf and whisky, which is a great combination when holidaying in Scotland. Not being a golfer myself I have to let do with whisky only.
Some of the drams I'll be writing about in the future will be things I got from him and that I really look forward to taste.

Jørn was one of the few guys out there who was smart and lucky enough to get hold of a casks of Springbank when they had a window open in the cask selling house. It's not really an option anymore. This cask was shared purchase of his Golf Club, and I think it's under Jørn's influence it was bottled at cask strength and thanks for that. After purchasing a bottle, he said that if shared that at Limburg he would give me another one. I remember leaving the dreg with Teun (of to share around Netherlands.. I hope it was received well.

1. Springbank OB Private Bottling Fresh Bourbon Barrel #261 10yo 59.9%
Distilled 01.10.1999, Bottled November 2009

The nose is sweet, créme brûlée, slightly peaty

palate : remarkable peaty, woody, full bodied, creamy and oily. Whiskyjuice. It's "darker", heavier than what you would expect from a fresh bourbon barrel Springbank if you expects anything like the 100 proof (EU-version) or the Bourbon Wood expression. 

The peatyness surprises me a lot. It makes me think Longrow influence. I know that Springbank is made lightly peated, but this is more. Not Longrow but close I say. If it was a 2nd fill cask I would have put my money on that it contained Longrow before (or Laphroiag!). But it's first fill. My best guess is that this is the run they did straight after they did a Longrow run. I know from people in the industry that they spend quite some efforts cleaning out the system after they have been running peaty batches to get ready for nonpeaty batches. I've always thought they should make some lightly peated stuff this way, and maybe Springbank have been doing this!

This is great stuff and I really enjoy the oilyness and the peat of this Bourbon Springer. Well done Jørn or maybe just a congratulations with the luck of getting a cask like this. Thanks for letting me try this :-)

Rating 90