Bladnoch 1991 14 Year Old (50%)

Lowland, whisky

Bladnoch Distillery is a Single malt Scotch whisky distillery in south west Scotland. It is one of six remaining Lowland distilleries, located at Bladnoch, near Wigtown, Dumfries and Galloway. The distillery is situated on the banks of the River Bladnoch, and is the most southerly whisky distillery in Scotland.

During the 1890s incidents which are not specified struck the distilling industry; these could have been the reduction nationwide in the production of barley, a possible rise in excise duty and the growth of the various temperance movements. The other distilleries in Galloway were forced to close but Bladnoch survived. Between 1911 and 1937 it was owned by Wm Dunville & Co. Ltd, an Irish company, and on the outbreak of World War II whisky production ceased, but malt continued to be produced until 1949 when the distillery closed until 1957.

Upon re-opening under new ownership whisky production began again and continued under a number of different owners until 1983 when Bell’s took over and initiated a programme of modernisation and computerisation. In 1987 the United Distillers Group took over Bell’s and continued the modernisation as a result of which the weekly production rose to over 8,000 imperial gallons (36,000 L), more than eight times the output in 1887.

The mothballed distillery was discovered by Irishman Raymond Armstrong while on holiday in the area in 1994. After several years spent finding and replacing the old plant and equipment, the distillery reopened for production in late 2000. The first 8-year-old product produced by the new team became available in 2009.

The company operating Bladnoch Distillery, Co-Ordinated Development Services, went into liquidation on 10 March 2014. The distillery was bought in July 2015 by Australian yoghurt mogul David Prior, who had sold his five yoghurt business for £52m in August 2014. At the moment the shop is not open, nor are distillery tours available.


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

The nose is initially quite floral with notes of honey and grass coming forward. This is followed by more mineral tones almost like wet sandstone on a beach. As the aroma develops hits of elderflower and red fruit come through initally softly but this becomes more prominent through the development. At the very finish there are waves of white stone fruit and pear. A really fresh and floral opening to the whisky.

The flavour is initially quite soft with hints of stone fruit but as the whisky develops on the palate this almost gain momentum. Floral flavours teamed with peach and apricot flavours build and build. This is followed by notes of baked apple and lime huge amounts going on in this very well balanced whisky. The taste finished with a ribbon of chili spice running through the dominating fruit and floral flavours.

The finish is long and dry with notes of oak and dried herbs.

This whisky is excellent and I will be keeping my eye out for Bladnoch in the future! The only examples I can find are at auction of a Gordon and Macphail bottling available HERE!



The Hakushu Single Malt Whisky – Distiller’s Reserve (70cl, 43.0%)

Japanese Whisky

Hakushu distillery is a Japanese based distillery and a completely new distillery to me at that. I’ve always looked at Japanese whisky as a bit of a novelty consistent, good quality and fairly easy to happen across. Sadly due to demand and environmental factors Japanese whisky has become rather hard to find recently. This particular distillery is owned by the Suntory group, and situated in the Toribara locality of the former town of Hakushū (now part of Hokuto), in the Yamanashi Prefecture, Chūbu region, Japan.

Having been added to their core range of whisky in 2014 their Distiller’s Reserve single malt whisky, a no-age-statement expression, that captures the smoky, herbaceous characteristics of their whiskies. Both lightly-peated and heavily-peated malts were used for this complex whisky.


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 light golden colour, leaving long legs flowing down the inside.

The nose is initially quite herbal, it almost reminds me of an Irish whisky with notes of peppermint, grass and soft menthol notes. This develops in to something a little sweeter with notes of fruit skin, pineapple and sweet pine.

Initially on tasting the whisky is quite phenol forward with notes of dry peat smoke. This is followed by notes of candied mint, orange zest and pine nuts. There are hits of chocolate, sweet pine resin and soft waves of grass toward the end of the taste. The overarching theme of this whisky is the supreme balance between flavour and texture in my mind a hallmark of Japanese whisky.

The finish is long and lingering notes of sweet mint and smoke remain on the tongue.

There is a sadness in me that these whiskies are becoming hard to find but this demand has also has a positive affect on my spirit buying pushing me toward high quality American and Irish whiskey.

Should you be able to find it, of course this whisky is worth it for the around £40 tag. It’s a fantastic introductory Japanese whisky.



Neige Premiere 2012 Apple Ice Wine

Ice Cider

I wasn’t entirely sure what ice cider was… even when I bought it.

Once winter arrives, the apples are pressed and the juice obtained is placed outside in the intense January cold. During crystallization, the water separates from the sugars by natural cryoconcentration.

After few days of intense cold, concentrated must, representing one-quarter of the initial quantity of juice, is collected by gravity. The extracted must is then placed in stainless steel tanks where it ferments at least six months at low temperatures before being bottled.


I poured the ice cider in to a tulip glass and didn’t (couldn’t) wait too long to give this a try!!

The nose is an initial burst of golden apple juice. This is followed by notes of buttery pastry, cinnamon & hints of prickly dark berry. There is a soft sourness which balances out an initial sweetness. There are hints of lemon and this is cut through with a soft spice! Oh my!!

The taste is a huge blast of tart apple, followed by cinnamon and a soft sour blackberry note. This is followed by a slightly lemony elderflower note. It’s almost like high quality German baking! Possibly the single best drink I’ve ever tried!!

The finish is dry with a soft sweetness which lingers long after drinking!!

I picked this drink up from Amazon HERE! AND SO SHOULD YOU!!


Sheep’s Eye Gin (42.0%)


Guys and Dolls script – Your own true love this day/with the sheep’s eye/and the lickerish tooth.

Distilled at the Lickerish Tooth distillery in Teeside, North East England. With the Masked Peste as their muse and basis for a number of their designs, along with a little help from 50’s musical Guys and Dolls a range of curious spirits was born.

“The plague doctors used strange and curious concoctions in their ‘beaks’, designed to ward off the putrid plague air, and these herbs and spices became the starting point for our Licker vodka and Sheep’s Eye Gin.”

If I’m honest the Masked Peste creeps me out a little…. On to the gin.


I poured this gin in to a glencairn glass and left it to develop in the glass for ten minutes. Again for a gin review I haven’t added any water or tonic as I want to judge this spirit raw.

The spirit is quite light in the glass, coating the side leaving beads rolling down the inside. There is a complete clarity to this spirit.

The nose is initially quite soft with hits of mellow spice with a aroma not unlike caraway, this is followed by notes of red stone fruit and cracked black pepper. As the nose opens more citrus and herbal notes come to the fore rounded of by a soft floral aroma.

The flavour is DIFFERENT, not in a bad way but just completely different to the nose. A huge blast of thyme, a soft prickle of spice and then a wash of grassy, floral flavours follow. As you taste again the initial taste becomes more prominent with spice, cracked pepper and vanilla. There is a warming undertone of the celery seed which becomes very prominent and makes this gin an utter joy to drink!

The finish is long with grassy, floral and citrus flavours but this is all held together with a warming spice from the celery seeds!

All I can really do now is gush! I had no idea what to expect from this gin other than it’d be a little off piste and my gosh what a lovely suprise!

This gin is available directly from the distillery HERE or from Master of Malt HERE!



The Irishman 12 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey (2014 Release) (70cl, 43.0%)

Irish Whiskey

The Irishman is a triple distilled single malt Irish whisky… Whose origins were a little hard to determine. Current expressions are distilled at the Middleton distillery in County Cork, in the south of the country.

The Irishman is matured in first fill Bourbon barrels. Walsh Whiskey Distillery Co. who are behind The Irishman select just a handful of barrels for these releases and only 6,000 bottles of 12 year old single malt are released each year.

The Walsh Whiskey Distillery Co. have had planning approved for a €25 million distillery to be developed at the site at Royal Oak and work is to commence in September and construction to be complete by December 2015.

Their plan envisages the development of a world-class, independent, craft Irish whiskey distillery; maturation warehouses and a unique visitor experience by the banks of the River Barrow in Royal Oak. The planned distillery visitor centre will cater for 75,000 ‘whiskey tourists’ by 2021.


I poured the whiskey in to a Glencairn glass, added a teaspoon of water and left the whiskey to develop for ten minutes. The whisky is a golden colour. On rolling round the glass it’s a light sugar syrup consistency leaving long legs inside the glass.

The nose is initially quite spirity with soft grassy and herbal note. This is followed by hits of clove, cinnamon and ginger bringing together an almost winter spice note. The end of the note is rich with vanilla from the bourbon barrels. I usually find Irish whiskey becomes lighter as it rests but in this case a delicious rich vanilla is more prominent!

The taste reminds me of an old artisan bakers with glorious notes of vanilla, buttery pastry, apple and cinnamon following. This moves toward something a little more spicy with hits of clove and pepper balanced out by a burnt toffee and a bitter dark chocolate note. Slight hints of coffee and that thread of vanilla wrapping everything up fantastically!

The finish is quite long with notes of bitter chocolate, vanilla and cinnamon on the finish leaving a very nice drying feeling in the mouth.

This is another example of a very well balanced very well selected bottling of an Irish whiskey. The love and care put in to this by the distillers and bottlers show a growing quality and consistency in Irish whiskey. For me Ireland are moving foward in leaps and bounds and Scottish distillers may have to look over their shoulder!!

The Irishman 12 year old is available from Master of Malt HERE!