Time for a bit of a throwback. Obviously the COVID pandemic means we haven’t been able to enjoy any large scale whisky tastings or festivals. Maybe it’s because I miss these type of events, but I recently started thinking back to one very special tasting I attended in 2018, called the Legends of Whisky. And what an event it was! Featuring three absolute titans of the whisky world, it’s safe to say this was an incredibly unique occasion. Jim McEwan, David Stewart and Richard ‘The Nose’ Paterson had hosted an event together once before, but to have these three icons together in the same room was something very special. And it was so nearby! The venue in Leiden, Netherlands was just a short train ride away, so this opportunity was simply too good to pass up. Just after the event I had started writing about it, but somehow I never finished. Time to set the record straight.Continue reading
Laphroaig Tasting 2.0
Ahh Laphroaig! Nothing like a kick of iodine to hit you in the face and make your eyes water. Laphroaig is the ultimate love it or hate it dram, so the mere fact I had this tasting will tell you which camp I’m in. While I was previously able to line up a nice selection of Laphroaigs, tonight’s tasting upped the ante with a few more premium bottlings. Over the past years, Laphroaig has released quite a lot of new expressions, all without an age statement. Another noticeable trend has been the use of quarter casks in almost all of their whisky. While this is a testament to the success of Laphroaig Quarter Cask, it’s also an indication that Laphroaig doesn’t shy away from speeding up the maturation process by using casks with a higher surface-to-liquid ratio. Lastly, Laphroaig seems to be marrying more and more different cask types together, culminating in the (rather disappointing) Four Oak. So… what are these recent Laphroaigs like, and how do they stack up against some of the old guns? Let’s find out: below is a short description of each of the whiskies, including a link to the full review.
Last weekend marked the 14th time that the Woudenberg Wageningen Whiskyevent was held. Hosted in Wageningen’s theatre, the event was organised by Wijnhandel Woudenberg (who seem to be big fans of alliteration). Woudenberg is an Ardbeg embassy, so in addition to being my go-to place for tastings, they also organise events whenever Ardbeg chooses to release a new bottling (usually during Ardbeg Day). Anyway, back to the event, which had the classic setup of a whisky festival. With 22 stands, each showcasing a fantastic selection of whiskies, there was plenty to choose from. While most drams were free, the older and rarer bottlings often required a small extra payment, but in return you’d be rewarded with a generous pour of liquid gold.
Last year saw me exploring quite a number of different whiskies from the Isle of Arran distillery. While a taste of Arran whisky – along with the island’s stunning scenery – nudged me towards visiting the distillery, this trip in turn made me enthusiastic about trying more of Arran’s excellent whisky. Although the distillery’s Tutored Tasting offered a huge variety of different Arran whiskies, I felt I wanted to explore the Arran range in a bit more quantity and with some extra time on my hands. So I lined up a collection of Arran whiskies, invited some friends over, and enjoyed a very delicious tasting. Below is a short description of each of the whiskies, including a link to the full review.
Scottish Whisky Regions Tasting
Tonight I was invited to host a tasting for a group of 25 whisky enthusiasts at the local tennis club. As is almost customary for an introductory whisky tasting, we decided to journey through each of the Scottish whisky regions to sample what its distilleries have to offer. Although the Scotch Whisky Association formally only recognises five whisky regions, I decided six whiskies is better than five, so we added the Islands as a separate region.
What I find amazing about whisky is that it’s made using only three ingredients, which are transformed into a wealth of different flavours, the variety of which is truly mindboggling. Tonight’s line-up traverses this spectrum from grassy, delicate Lowland all the way to peaty Islay. While each of the whiskies was chosen because they embody their region’s style, they have also received different types of maturation, further adding to the diversity on offer. You can find a short description of the whiskies below, including a link to the full review. Slàinte!
Today I had the pleasure of attending a whisky tasting led by Peter Wills, son of Kilchoman distillery owner Anthony Wills. Naturally then, there were some fantastic Kilchomans lined up for us to explore, and Peter was able to share his wealth of knowledge with us. A full description of the whiskies can be found below, but first a short introduction to Kilchoman distillery.
Kilchoman distillery was opened in 2005, becoming the first new distillery on Islay in 124 years. Located in a farmhouse where all processes from malting, distilling, maturing and bottling take place, Kilchoman provides an interesting insight into what a traditional whisky distillery may have looked like two centuries ago. Correspondingly, Kilchoman is by far the smallest distillery on Islay in terms of capacity, and indeed one of the smallest in Scotland.
Rum Finish Tasting
Rum finished whiskies are a bit of a rarity on today’s market. One reason may be that the marriage of whisky and rum is quite an acquired taste and does not sell as easily as the more traditional sherry or port finish. But it is of course also a matter of necessity. There simply aren’t so many good and affordable rum casks available for whisky to be finished in, and the reliability of supply for these casks is even more problematic.
This scarcity makes today’s tasting all the more fun, because I’ve been able to get together three different rum finished whiskies for a comparison. While these whiskies have all been finished in the same type of cask, let’s not forget that they each have a unique distillery character, which sets them apart from each other. Below is a short description of each of the whiskies, including a link to the full review.
For a long time now I had been intending to organise a tasting that includes each of Islay’s eight distilleries, and tonight the time had finally come. Known for its distinctively peaty, smoky whiskies, the island of Islay is often considered a whisky region in its own right. This is no wonder, as the island lives and breathes whisky, providing the lifeblood for a population of just over 3000 people. Peat bogs are ubiquitous, the salty sea breeze can be felt anywhere and the sight of a distillery’s chimney is never far away.
Tonight I was lucky enough to get together a fantastic line-up of different Laphroaigs for a comparison. While each of these whiskies is made of identical spirit flowing from Laphroaig’s stills, the end result is vastly different. As such, this tasting gives a great insight in the effect that maturation has on a whisky. Although Laphroaig is secretive about the age of their whiskies, clearly some of these expressions have matured longer than others. With no actual ages at hand, we are limited to looking at the effects that the different casks have had on the Laphroaig spirit. And indeed, this choice of cask makes a world of difference, producing a spectacular range of diverse drams. Below is a short description of each of the whiskies, including a link to the full review.