Monday, March 16, 2015

10 drams to try at the danish whisky fair

Today the official tasting programme of the danish whisky fair went online.

The danish whisky fair is happening March 28 2015 in Fredericia.

Beside Whisky, there will be several exhibitors with rums and a few with craft beer

(The catalogue is in danish, but the whiskylist should be easy to understand for everybody)

For now I will only consider the whisky:

There are many very interesting stands. What about trying danish whisky from Braunstein, Stauning and Fary Lochan ?

Or try whisky bottled by Jack Wieber, one of my all-time favourite independent bottlers on the Whisky2U stand. Another favourite bottler of mine is Creative Whisky, which can be found at the DMWA stand. But there is just so many good bottlers present, which you will see if you look through the catalogue-pdf linked above

There will be a few Denmark-exclusive casks bottlings to buy and taste. FC Whisky has three bottlings in the new Adelphi Club Denmark series and Whiskymessen has a 13yo Craigellachie by Jack Wieber

13yo Craigellachie

A PC from Adelphi to Denmark

As a visitor you will have to spend some time selecting which drams to taste.

Here are my 10 recommendations of things to taste. It's a litle mix of favourite distilleries of mine, things I myself would like to taste and things you might not have considered to taste yourself.

1. Middleton Very Rare 40% at Pernod Ricard 

I would start here. Irish Whisky is delicate, 40% whisky is delicate, Old whisky is delicate. Better try this irish gem before you have too much Laphroaig

2 An Cnoc 35yo 44.3% at Vinspecialisten

An Cnoc is one of those hidden gem. The distillery is located on the border between Speyside and East Highland. I reckon this will be another delicate dram and should be had early. And it's not everyday you can find an affordable 35yo official bottling whisky

3. Arran 18yo 46% at TØNDEN

This whisky actually has world premier TODAY. Usually new releases are very slow coming to Denmark so it's very nice to something this recent here. This is oldest Arran released by The Arran Distillery. And When you are at this, why not go to the Juul's Engros stand and try another recent release, the Benromach 100 proof 10yo (57.1%)

4. SMWS 25.68 Vichy Kisses 57.8%

SMWS has an almost endless list of whiskies to try. And here is a chance to taste a whisky from the closed destillery in Falkirk. Experts still argue if it was triple or 2½ times distilled.

5. Writer's Tears Pot Still Cask Strength 53.0% at Interbrands

Irish Whisky at full  strenght. Used to be rare as a hens teeth. There you go

6. Caperdonich Raw Cask 50.2% Blackadder at FC Whisky

Caperdonich is my favourite scottish distillery. Blackadder is a great bottler. This has a chance of being good. I really hope so

And now we are here at FC whisky it's time to turn to my peated whisky recommendation

7. Kornog (Glann Ar Mor) PX Sherry at FC Whisky 46%

From the rather unknown Kornog Distillery in Brittany. Whisky made as whisky was made 100 years ago. Try it head to head with the Oloroso version. 

8. Smooth Ambler Old Scout 10yo 49.9% at Sprit & Co.

Now I have moved to Bourbon

Smooth Ambler is a rather new micro distillery in West Virginia. While their own stuff matures they bottle sourced whisky under the Old Scout label. Sourced from MGP in Indiana they say. Maybe it's Four Roses I say

And when we are at Bourbon, why not come to say hello to me for the next dram

9. Four Roses Single Barrel 50% at

I will be pouring bourbon for at their bourbon bar. Here is a chance to taste my favourite destillery, Four Roses. The regular 50% single barrel is one of the best value for money whiskies out there. And if you want to step up there will be other and older Four Roses to try

And after bourbon I think it will be suitable to finish this set with a rye whisky

10. Millstone rye 100 50% at Juul's Engros

If you like rye whisky this is a must. 100 month old. 100% rye mash and 100 american proof

The danish whisky fair usually have between 2000 and 3000 visitors.

Their website is

Sunday, March 8, 2015

SMWS Causal Day March 7th 2015

As often before, we gathered a group of people to go through a line up of new releases from SMWS. With one guest whisky. The recent bourbon release B3.1, which is the first bourbon release from SMWS I had a chance to taste. Former bourbon releases are rare as a hens teeth and I have never seen one

This time we were 7 whisky entusiasts attending. The event was set in Aarhus' best whiskybar, Highlanders Bar (which also carries a good selection of beers, both draft and bottle. And the best pub food in Aarhus)

All whiskies were tasted blind. And we used the common 100 point scale as a reference.
The pace was rather speedy and we shared 6cl of each amongst us. Big thanks to Thomas Korsgaard, SMWS brand ambassador to help set this up.

Glasses are poured. Let's go !

Here are the groups verdict with my personal score in green:

1. Longmorn 24yo 7.113 51.7% Dist. 11/12-1989 Score 87.3 (86)
2. Aultmore 29yo  73.44 53.7% Dist. 21/4-1982 Score 86.1 (86)
3. Strathclyde G10.8 G10.8 58.0% Dist. 23/11-1977 Score 85.6 (87)
4. Glen Grant 25yo 9.84 55.6% Dist. 18/4-1988 Score 85.1 (86)
5./6. Balmenach 12yo 48.54 57.4% Dist. 1/11-2001 Score 84.9 (82)
5./6. Cragganmore 29yo 37.61 51.2% Dist 24/4-1985 Score 84.9 (85)
7. Cragganmore 29yo 37.60 52.4% Dist 24/4-1985 Score 84.0 (86)
8./9. Glen Moray 20yo 35.133 55.8% Dist 11/11-1994 Score 83.3 (86)
8./9. Glen Elgin 29yo 85.28 44.1% Dist 2/5-1985 Score 83.3 (86)
10. Cambus 25yo G8.5 59.6% Dist 12/6-1989 Score 83.0 (85)
11./12. Caol Ila 14yo 52.221 65.5% Dist 16/3-2000 Score 82.3 (81)
11./12. Girvan 22yo G7.9 57.3% Dist 21/4-1982 Score 82.3 (78)
13. Bowmore 26yo 3.230 50.5% Dist 11/4-1988 Score 81.9 (80)
14. Glen Grant 25yo 9.88 55.3% Dist 18/4-1988 Score 81.1 (79)
15. Bowmore 17yo 3.237 57.2% Dist 25/9-1997 Score 81.0 (72)
16. Rock Town 3yo B3.1 53.9% Dist  15/7-2011 Score 79.9 (74)
17. Bowmore 29yo 3.235 50.9% Dist 11/4-1988 Score 78.7 (65)

Here is a few of my comments and observations:

Whisky produced by Chivas did very well taking 1st., 3rd. and 4th places with their 4 "entrants" (Glen Grant used to be owned by Chivas before 2006)

I was very dissapointed with the bourbon. Being the bourbon drinker in the group I scored it considerable lower than the other 6. To me this tasted like newmake and was no way ready to be bottled. It didn't taste like bourbon at all. As SMWS never bottles bourbon I see this as a major FAIL

I didn't like the Bowmores. All tainted with FWP and when I got the 3rd one, it was just too much. Couldn't drink it. My tasting note was YUK. I do have hopes for Bowmore distilled after the bad period in the eighties, but the 1997 was a dissapointment as well.

Half the whiskies where distilled in April. This was mainly due to all three sets of sister casks were from April.

Only 5 whiskies managed not to get a score in 70's (or lower) from at least one in the panel. They were the top 4 whiskies on the list above and the Balmenach. The whisky that shared the 5/6 place with the Balmenach was 37.61, a 29yo Cragganmore. It was the whisky that had the biggest difference between the lowest (76) and 2nd lowest score (85). Without that odd score this Cragganmore would have been in 2nd place.

The winner had a solid set of scores of 86-86-86-87-88-88-90 (only 90's score of the day)

My personal favourite, Strathclyde G10.8 happens to be distilled in my favourite city in Scotland :-)
It was a delicious fullbodies grain with loads of butterscotch.

If you want to read about earlier SMWS tasting they can be found under the SMWS label 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Ardbeg Uigeadail Vertical 2004-2014

Lately there has been a lot of online discussions about the pro's and cons of NAS whisky

NAS stands for "No Age Statement". This is simply a catagory of whisky where the bottle doesn't bear any clue of the age of the whisky. There is a lot of NAS whisky out there and the biggest sellers in the world are NAS whiskies, Cheap blends, Johnny Walker Red, Jack Daniels, Jim Beam White. It's not a new thing. And due to various labeling and production regulations, we know that Johnny Walker is at least 3 years old and that Jim Bema White is at least 4 years old

But this is not really the whisky people are referring to when discussing NAS whisky. It's usually when NAS whisky is replacing whisky with an age statement. The producers argument for bottling whisky with No Age Statement is that whisky should be bottled when it's ready, not when it passes a more or less random selected age mileage. If you go into a typical warehouse and open two casks of whisky, both distilled at the same, and lets say 8 years old, it's not uncommon to find that one is very good and perfectly ready for bottling and the other is not ready at all and do need more years in the warehouse.

But if the bottle line up of that distillery is that this whisky has to be at least 12 years old, that good cask can't be bottled as part of the standard lineup. It doesn't meet the age requirement yet.

So the producers say: Lets drop the age statement on the bottle and bottle the whisky when it's ready. Let's not be a slave of the age requirement. Let's just bottle the whisky when it's good.

Unfortunately, consumers say, reality is something else. The last few years we have seen a whisky shortage. A whisky shortage is when demand is higher than the supply. Whisky is popular. There is a whisky shortage both for single malts and bourbons. There is a few shortcuts the producers can take to meet the demand. One is to bottle at a lower alcohol strength. If you add more water to your whisky, you can produce more bottles. Another one is to skip the age statement. By bottling a whisky at a younger age, you shorten the production time. This will initially give you quite a larger volume to pick casks from, but also as the bottling catch up with the now extended stock there will be a slight increase in production from the fact that whisky in the cask looses 2% volume on average every year. So if you bottle whisky at 10 years instead of 12 you will eventually, apart from a shorter production time, also have around 4% more whisky to put in bottles.

Most entusiasts are not very happy with this trend. Myself included. When you go into a duty free whisky store you see a lot of NAS 40% whisky. For Scotland particular, younger whisky has a higher alcohol percent than older whisky when resting in the cask. As whisky matures in a cask the alcohol percentage slowly goes down. In short this means that if you buy a 6 year old whisky at 40% and a 15 year old whisky at 40% you can be pretty sure that more water has been added to the 6yo to get it down to 40% than what was needed for diluting the 15yo casks. So young 40% whisky is really the last kind of whisky you wan't to buy. It contains a lot of water

I like age statement for standard products. It gives a tiny little guarentee of what goes into the bottle.

Some of these you can drink when pregnant, some not

So we set up this blind tasting of one of the most popular NAS bottlings out there. Ardbeg Uigeadail.

It's Ardbeg. It's bottles at 54.2%. It, unlike most other Ardbegs, have a heavy sherry part in the vatting. It's the essential peat and sherry combo in many peoples opinion. Peat and sherry doesn't always mix very well, but this bottling has been popular for over a decade now.

We managed to gather 6 bottlings. 5 of them was the with old bottlecodes

L4 315, L6 109, L7 325, L9 327, L10 032

L7 325 simply means it was bottled on the 325th day of 2007

The 6th bottling was a very new bottling from the new bottle facility, and it had a bottle code like this L59501 29072014. I interpret this as bottled 29th July 2014

So we had a selection of Uigedails from 2004 to 2014. The earliest bottling of Uigedail I know of, was bottled in 2003, L3 282 so I think we covered the era of Uigeadail quite well.

So how did we set this up?. We tried to set this up as a blind tasting. And we set two aims for ourselves.

1. Could we identify the L7 325, which apperently should be a rather good one. Check out that link to The Ardbeg Project. A couple of years ago I tasted this at a another vertical and back then I picked it out as outstanding compared to other batches. Locating a bottle of this at one of my friends was what triggered organising this tasting.

2. Could we identify the L4315. Of the other 5 batches 3 was opened on the day, 1 a couple of days before and the 5th 3 weeks prior. The L4315 had been open for years. Untouched for years and with just around a 10cl dreg in the bottle we wondered if this could affected the whisky enough to be pinpointed amongst 5 others recently opened bottles

Fast answers: We couldn't identify the L4 315. It was easy to identify the L7 325. The cork broke and even though I tried to clean the whisky from small bits of corks it was identfiied by one of the participants.

I was pouring the whiskies and the other 3 shuffling them, I also knew which was the L7 325. I didn't need the cork bits to reveal that. It was considerable darker than the other 5.

2014 versus L7325

Here are my verdicts of the 6 bottlings. They were tasted blind. I knew which was L7325 though

L4 315.
Slight sourness on the nose. Parmesan and babypuke is what people often refer to when we meet this in whisky. It was also sulphured. The sulphurness carried over into the palate. As I am extra sensitive to sulphur, it meant I rated this lowest. This is a good example of a whisky that is not bad, but just get a low rating from me, cause I don't like it and can't cope with sulphur. Score 78

This had a very faint sourness as well on the nose. But the palate was fine. One of the particiapants really disliked this one, while us other three liked it. The nose couldn't drag it down a lot so Score 86

L7 325
We knew what is was. But it was easy no brainer to pick it out. A lot darker. With a hint of old sherried Ardbeg. A great whisky. My guess is that some 70's Ardbeg went into this one  Score 90

My favourite outside the L7 325. Just as a good Uigeadail should be with no flaws Score 87
Very well balanced and with substantial less alcohol burn than the other 5. I thought this was one that had been opened for years. Score 86½

Not very good. The nose was grainy, new boiled pasta and newmakeish. Not a havy sherry influence either. What a dissapoint. The L4315 got a low rating cause I didn't like it. This got a low rating cause it was bad whisky. Score 79. In hindsight today I feel I should have score it even lower

The whisky was served in this order: 2004-2014-2010-2007-2006-2009

When the whiskies were revealed even the atheists amongst us were paraying "Let #2 not be my bottle"

I couldn't help thinking that the reason the 2014 bottling was so bad was becasue Ardbeg Uigeadail is a NAS whisky. For this particular batch they seem to have used a lot younger whisky. I don't know for sure. Maybe the casks used were exactly the same age as the casks used for other ones. Maybe the whisky was just not very good. We don't know. But if I bought this bottle I would complain to the shop, and if I had this bottle in my shop I would complain to my importer

No matter if we averagied our scores or averaged our individual rankings we ended up ranking the 6 Uigeadails like this


3 out 4 had the L7325 as favourite. 4th participant had the L9 327 as favourite with L7 325 on the 2nd place.

If you wan't to read more about Ardbeg batches and Ardbeg bottle codes, I recommend The Ardbeg Project