The World’s Best Bourbon? (Part 2)


Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon 20 Year Old isn’t what I’d normally put down as a choice for the whisk(e)y or bourbon of the year. It’s not in attainable price range, easy to find or even regularly released. On the other hand it is that good! The quality of this product is second to none and there’s no substitute for that standard of aging and distillation!

This is indeed my spirit of the year!

The #1 rated Bourbon Whiskey in the world with a 99 out of 100 rating by the World Spirits Championship. This bourbon is aged 20 years and bottled at 90.4 proof.


I poured the whisky in to a Glencairn glass, added a teaspoon of water and left the whisky to develop for ten minutes. The bourbon is a dark gold, amber colour. On rolling around the glass the bourbon is quite light in consistency with medium legs.

The nose is initially spirit forward, this is followed by sweet citrus, notes of orange and citrus peel. This is followed by caramel, sweet stewed fruit, soft wood and christmas spices. This is all rounded of by a drier hint of dark chocolate.

The flavour is rich and soft with an initial hint of soft oak. You are then just grabbed by the mouthfeel of this bourbon, it’s like drinking silk! This almost reminds me of a very high quality cognac. This is followed by hits of vanilla and almond sweetness. This is rounded of by a note of orange oil and soft caramel.

The finish is really long with honey sweetness and more prominent spice this is just heaven!

If you get the chance please grab a glass of this bourbon! It is simply the best in the world and a great way to round off 2015!

I just hope I can find something nearly this good next year!



The World’s Best Bourbon? (Part 1)


Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve is the flagship brand of bourbon whiskey owned by the “Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery” company (which does not actually own or operate a distillery, but rather has it produced under a contract with another company). It is distilled and bottled by the Sazerac Company at its Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve is often regarded as one of the finest bourbons in the world, and is rare to find on the market due to its very low production and high demand

I always wonder if this is due to the rarity, expense or nostalgia that leads to these types of tag? Not just in whisk(e)y but any “luxury” item. Can the 12 year old which I’ll be looking a in this review or the 20 year old which I’ll look at next live up to the acclaim and fanfare which accompanies it?


I poured the whisky in to a Glencairn glass, added a teaspoon of water and left the whisky to develop for ten minutes. The bourbon is an old gold, deep amber colour. On rolling around the glass the bourbon is quite light in consistency with medium legs.

The nose is Initially quite intense with note of alcohol coming forward. This moves away quite quickly developing in to sweeter notes of vanilla, treacle, caramel and demerara sugar surge forward. Sitting and getting to know the bourbon for a while lets you find some sour dough and mashed grain notes which come forward softly. This bourbon is very complex!

The flavour is again a beautiful balance of sweet and spice! Notes of caramel, oranges, vanilla and honey notes all come rushing forward! This is followed by more dry slightly bitter notes of coffee, chocolate, almonds and charcoal. the bourbon is very complex and very very smooth.

The finish long with hints of spice, sweet oak and caramel. Overall This is a wonderful bourbon , a little different from the 20 year old and almost as complex but more about that later!!

Normally I’d link you to somewhere this would be available but sadly I can’t find it! If you happen to I hope you love it as much as I did!





My dearly departed.

Highland, whisky

The elation I felt that day was immeasurable. My first foray in to the whisky drinking world. A Christmas gift which opened my eyes to a spirit that I had very little experience with and no real knowledge of. I was assured is was a good choice.

This gift I shared with many others through good times and bad my bottle of Dalmore 15 year old started far more than any gift I’ve had before or since. Sharing a shelf with over 50 spirits this initial bottle was my gateway drug as such.

Sadly now you are empty and to pay my respect I will eulogies you and hope that your legacy lives on!

The Dalmore 15 year old was first launched in 2007. Matured in matusalem, apostoles and amoroso sherry casks.


I poured the whisky in to a Copita nosing glass, added a teaspoon of water and left the whiskey covered to develop for ten minutes. The whisky pours a deep golden colour, leaving long legs flowing down the inside.

The nose is rich with cocao powder, orange zest along with soft cinnamon and ginger spices. Hints of oak, vanilla and soft grain follow. There is also an aroma not unlike a dunnage warehouse. You can almost smell the barrels and spirits around you!

The flavour is rich and smooth, notes of orange zest, dark chocolate and cubes of ginger in syrup. Notes of honey confectioners sugar and hits of Christmas spice follow. Stewed dark fruits and a liquorice follow in the background.

The finish is medium long with notes of chocolate and spice.

This as a whisky for a beginner or a seasoned whisky lover can’t be recommended enough. At it’s £50 price tag it’s still very good value for money and has given me so much enjoyment!

It’s available from Master of Malt HERE!!


Benromach Organic 2008 (70cl, 43.0%)

Speyside, whisky


Benromach is a relatively small distillery based in the Speyside region. Founded by Duncan McCallum and F.W. Brickman in the 1890’s. Having opened and closed a number of times since it’s establishment Gordon and Macphail of Elgin took over the distillery in 1993 and restored it to full working order in it’s current guise.

It is situated near Forres in Morayshire and is fed with spring water from the Chapelton Springs in the Romach Hills beside Forres.

This Benromach was distilled in 2008 using Scottish organic barley and left to mature in virgin American oak casks until 2014, when it was bottled. This whisky was also the first single malt whisky to be fully certified as organic by the Soil Association.


I poured the whisky in to a Glencairn, added a teaspoon of water and left the whisky to develop for ten minutes. The whisky pours a light amber colour with a lighter consistency. On rolling around the glass the whisky leaves long legs which bead on the inside of the glass.

The nose is initially quite spirit forward with notes of soft peat ash and roasted malt coming through. This moves away quite quickly to reveal a much more sweet and fruit forward aroma. There are notes of toffee, roasted banana and vanilla. This is rounded of by notes of stewed pear, citrus and ginger.

The flavour has a big hit of marmalade and jam sugar to start. This is followed by chili, tropical fruit and peaches. These flavours move toward something a little softer and creamier as it develops with hits of dark chocolate, light citrus and a soft malt sweetness right at the end of the flavour.

The finish is long with hits of citrus and spice lingering long after tasting.

As a younger expression this whisky doesn’t leave you wanting. The experience is engaging and ever changing through each sip! The notes of fruit, spice and sweetness from this sophisticated whisky keep you coming back for more!

The whisky is available from The Whisky Shop Dufftown HERE!


Wolfburn Distillery Tasting!

Highland, whisky

On the cusp of releasing their first whisky Wolfburn who are based up in Thurso, Caithness are very new, well…. sort of. Originally founded in 1821 Wolfburn was thought to be a reasonable size and ceased production somewhere in the 1850’s.

The new distillery founded in 2012, is located around 400 meters from the site of the original distillery. The distillery began production in earnest in 2013.

Having spoken to Daniel Smith from Wolfburn he told me a little about the aim for the distillery.

“Our aim has been to create a very smooth and easy-drinking single malt whisky, and the process by which it is crafted was defined back in early 2013 by Shane Fraser, Wolfburn’s production manager (a master distiller with over 25 years’ experience).”

“We mash 1.1 tonnes six times per week, and the fermentation that follows is very long – up to 90 hours. This releases some wonderful fruit and floral flavours into the worts, which then undergoes a long a gentle distillation process – both wash and spirit distillations take a little over four hours. The result is an exceptionally sweet, light spirit, which still maintains a hint of the malty aroma from the mash.”


I have been sent the new make spirit and the soon to be released ex-bourbon quarter cask matured (soon to be) 3 year old.

I poured the whisky and the new make in to Copita nosing glasse. I then added two teaspoons of water and left them covered to develop for fifteen minutes.

I’m going to start with the new make which was distilled in 2015 and is 69.6%. Which pours completely clear and on rolling around the glass almost moves in slow motion.

The nose is initially sweet with notes of chocolate, dark fruits and notes of yeast in the background. Sweet grain, some soft sea air freshness and a citrus freshness which sits in the background. This is rounded of by soft hits of coffee and a light nip of the alcohol in the background.

The flavour is sweet with a hit of roasted grain and dark chocolate off the bat. This is followed by a light nip of the alcohol and a drying herbal flavour. Prickles or soft spice and salt crystals roll down the tongue.

The finish is long with a lingering warmth from the alcohol and soft spice.

Next is the 2 year old ex-bourbon quarter cask at 61.2% which was distilled in 2013. It pours a light golden colour and is oily in the glass. The spirit coats the sides of the glass with beads rolling down the inside.

The nose is already very different with notes of white fruit, fresh sea air, ginger and spice hits come forward. The undertone of sweetness is still there with notes of chocolate, vanilla and some soft tropical fruit right at the finish.

The flavour is much softer than expected with notes of lychee, white grape and hints of spice in the background. This is followed by notes of honey, vanilla and some soft floral flavours. The end of the flavour has hints of coffee and dark chocolate.

The finish is long and dry with notes of oak and wood spice lingering long after drinking.

This whisky will be available from 25/01/2016 and is very much worth looking in to! These expressions have been very interesting and as a little glimpse of what’s to come from this very young distillery I have to say I can’t wait to see what’s next!! Wolfburn are very worth keeping any eye on and you can find more information about them at their website HERE!


Green Spot Single Pot Still (70cl, 40.0%)

Irish Whiskey, whisky

The buildings of the Midleton distillery began life rather abstemiously; used as a wool mill in the very late eighteenth century. Leased by Marcus Lynch, the buildings were sold to the government, who subsequently sold them to the Arch Bishop of Cashel in 1823 for the sum of £1,750.

The Arch Bishop died later that year and the buildings were inherited by Lord Midleton. It was the three brothers Murphy who converted the mill into a distillery in 1825. They had acquired the buildings for £4,000. Stills were installed, including the world’s largest still with a capacity of 31,618 gallons.

The distillery produced a range of brands and in 1966 the company joined John Powers and John Jameson to form the Irish Distillers Group and a new distillery was built at Midleton to produce all of their brands. This new distillery now has a capacity of 60m litres, following a large expansion project in 2013.


I poured the whisky in to a Copita nosing glass, added a teaspoon of water and left the whiskey covered to develop for ten minutes. Pouring a golden colour this dram becomes slightly cloudy when water is added… I will call it Irish mist!

Lots of floral, grassy and menthol notes come forward to start off with. This is followed by notes of creamy malt, confectioners sugar, pear, vanilla and some soft spice in the background. Throughout the nose this cooling menthol comes forward. It can actually be felt on the tongue which is quite fantastic!!

The flavour starts with notes of soft spice, vanilla and bourbon. This is followed by notes of grass, mint, roasted malt and soft fruit. The finish is drier with notes of oak, red berry and coffee.

The finish is long and dry with hints of mint and soft spice! A fantastic introduction to Irish whiskey!

This is my first Irish whiskey and it didn’t disappoint. A combination of flavours which delight and evolve with each sip! This is fantastic stuff!!

I bought this from The Whisky Shop Dufftown for £36 HERE!


Arran 10 Year Old (70cl, 46.0%)

Island, whisky

The Aran distillery Co was established in 1994 by Harold Currie at Loch Ranza in the north of the Isle Of Arran. At one time Arran was famed for the quality of is whisky and had over 50 distilleries some of which were legal but distilling ended in 1837 on Arran with the closure of Lagg distillery. It took until 1996 until “the water of life” was produced again on the island.

I must admit that our family had the chance to invest in the new venture and passed on the opportunity and after the very early production took this to be a good decision. However after sampling the 10 year old , the Loch Ranza reserve, the Robert Burns edition among others we now realise this was not the case as this young distillery has really begun to see the fruits of its labour and is producing some rather excellent whisky.
The water source for the distillery is Loch Na Davie  which feeds its single wash and spirit stills. The total production is around 750000 liters a year.


The whisky is a light golden colour , medium bodied which on rolling around the glass is not too syrupy and leaves thin legs around the glass. I added a half teaspoon of water and left the whisky to develop for 10 minutes.

The nose is fresh with herbal notes with thyme, cut grass after a shower of summer rain. This develops in to something a little more fruit forward with hints of summer fruits and raspberries! Light and quite complex.

The flavour has creamy sweet malty notes, big on digestive biscuits followed by english apples and tinned pears. Very nice indeed!

The finish is medium long with notes of granny smith apples developing and lengthening into a sweet malt perhaps a little oak Very smooth.

This is a very well made polished whisky which in some ways reminds me of 10 year old Glenmorangie It is a very easy drinking dram which would be a lovely pre meal experience!

This whisky is available from Master of Malt HERE!


Talisker 2000 (bottled 2011) Amoroso Finish – Distillers Edition (70cl, 45.8%)

Island, whisky


Talisker distillery is an Island single malt Scotch whisky distillery based in Carbost, Scotland—the only distillery on the Isle of Skye. The distillery is operated by United Distillers and Vintners for Diageo, and is marketed as part of their Classic Malts series. The brand is sold as a premium whisky.

The malt is peated to a phenol level of approximately 18–22 parts per million (ppm), which is a medium peating level. Additionally, the water used for production, from Cnoc nan Speireag (Hawk Hill), flows over peat which adds additional complexity to the whisky.

The distillery began producing special bottlings of the whisky for connoisseurs in the early 2000s, with a 20- and 25-year bottling (where previously only a 10-year and 18-year were available). The 25-year bottling, despite being more expensive than the 20-year bottling, was distributed more widely.

In 2007 Talisker 18-year-old won “Best Single Malt In The World 2007” at the World Whiskies Awards.


This gorgeous 2000 vintage of Talisker’s Distillers Edition is finished in Amoroso sherry casks, mixing Talisker’s signature peppery peat with juicy sherry!

I poured the whisky in to a Glencairn, added two teaspoons of water and left the whisky to develop for ten minutes. The whisky pours a deep amber colour with an oily consistency. On rolling around the glass the whisky leaves long legs on the inside of the glass.

The nose as you’d expect from a Talisker is huge but that is by no means a bad thing! Rich stewed red fruits rush out of the glass. This is followed by a punch of smoke, coal tar and intense sea salt. Behind these briny harbour side notes lies something a little more delicate, notes of vanilla, soft oak and vanilla come through giving this nose a balance and depth taking this whisky to another level!

The flavour is initially briny with the salt of a boiling sea, this whisky gives you the smack in the face you expect. This is followed by much more subtle notes of red fruit and soft smoke. There are notes of tar and soft tobacco in the background but these are all bit parts in a superbly complex dram. The end of the taste has a soft prickle of pepper and chili. The spicy flavours at the end of the taste cut through the rich smoke and red fruit notes and give a balance to these huge flavours!

The finish is long with salt and prickles of chili heat.

This to be completely honest is one of the best drams I’ve had this year! The Amoroso sherry cask gives a depth of flavour to this whisky which is just fantastic!

Sadly this particular bottling is no longer available but the newer versions are available from Master of Malt HERE!



Glen Spey 17 Year Old – Duthies (WM Cadenhead) (70cl, 46.0%)

Speyside, whisky


The Glen Spey distillery is a single malt Scotch whisky distillery in Rothes, Aberlour, Banffshire at the centre of the Speyside whisky producing area of Scotland.

Glen Spey distillery was built in 1878 by James Stuart & Co. under the name ‘Mill of Rothes’. It actually started its life as an oatmeal mill – founder James Stuart was a corn merchant before he ventured into the whisky world. The distillation equipment was simply added to the existing mill in the years before the Glen Spey distillery was sold to the Gilbey company of London in 1887. It expanded production capacity from two to four stills in 1970.

Glen Spey (along with Glenlossie and Strathmill) continues to use ‘purifiers’. Purifiers act as small condensers, returning a proportion of the alcohol vapours back to the pot to be re-distilled. So, this would increase the amount of ‘reflux’ within the pot stills. This results in a lighter spirit.

During its history, the distillery has released only a handful of official bottlings. The distillery’s product is currently primarily used for J&B products.


This 17 year old Glen Spey single malt Scotch whisky was drawn from a single cask and bottled by WM Cadenhead, one of the oldest independent bottlers in Scotland. 312 bottles were produced as part of the Duthies range.

I poured the whisky in to a Glencairn, added two teaspoons of water and left the whisky covered to develop for ten minutes. The whisky pours a light golden colour with a slightly oily consistency. On rolling around the glass the whisky leaves long legs on the inside of the glass.

The nose is quite intense, even as I left it to rest there was a nose of sharp apple emanating from the glass. On nosing further this whisky is huge with notes of green apple, candy sugar and fresh rhubarb. As the nose develops there are fresh floral notes, soft sweet malt and vanilla.

The flavour is initially dry with notes of ash, dry roasted malt and a medicinal cedar wood note. This develops in to a sweeter red fruit and apple stem flavours. The end of the taste has hits of vanilla, notes of pepper, soft creamy malt but everything is tired together by an overarching dryness.

The finish is medium long with notes of creamy malt and soft berry sweetness. The finish is no where near as drying as the body of the whisky!

This whisky has been a complete surprise with bottlings at reasonable prices of this quality Glen Spey is a whisky I will look out for again!

This whisky has sadly sold out from Master of Malt but there is a Douglas Laing bottling available HERE!



BenRiach Birnie Moss Intensely Peated (70cl, 48.0%)

Speyside, whisky

People may start to think I have a bit of a thing for BenRiach and they’re not wrong! I have never reviewed two whiskies from the same distillery but I truly believe BenRiach are going about things the right way. By trying to make better whisky by not only using traditional methods but borrowing knowledge and technique from the wider world of spirit production!

Birnie Moss is named after an area of windswept moorland situated quite close to the BenRiach Distillery. It is a quite wild place that gives our single malt its name.

This single malt is the first bespoke whisky to be created from the BenRiach Distillery under its current stewardship. It also shows the new direction which this distillery plans to take with production.

This experimental first under the guidance and enthusiasm of the distillery’s new owners, Birnie Moss is a whisky bursting with originality.

It is quite unusual for Speyside malt to use this leavel of peat, this unique expression wields its smoky character with a new and deliberate swagger.


I poured the whisky in to a Copita nosing glass, added a half teaspoon of water and left the whisky covered to develop for ten minutes. The whisky pours a very light straw colour with a syrupy consistency. On rolling around the glass the whisky leaves long legs on the inside of the glass.

The nose is quite fruit forward to start with notes of orange and lemon pouring forward. This develops quickly in to more peat smoke and a seaside driftwood bonfire toward the end with light hints of salt.

The flavour again fruit forward with notes of dried fruit and sweet malt. Through the development bitter chocolate and porridge oats come through. The malt flavours become darker building in to peat smoke this is followed by a heat from the alcohol and a drier smoke.

The finish is very malty with a little oak coming through along with strengthening peat smoke. As the finish fades a warming alcohol notes come through.

Birnie moss is very well balanced the peat does not drown out all the other flavours resident in this well made whisky, which is remarkable as it is bottled at 35 ppm. Perhaps being bottled at 48% helps the balance.

The citrus comes through well and whilst the peat comes through later in taste and finish. There is a freshness to this whisky that makes this a highly enjoyable and surprising dram. Well done Benriach!!

This whisky is available from The Whisky Shop Dufftown HERE!!