2 January 2024

Untappd - update on the Alec v Bruce competition

 This competition has been going, unofficially, since err, I dunno, I want to say 2010? 2009? who knows. Any way, I've tried to post updates every 6 months or so. 

The good news (for me), I'm still ahead on total number of checkins, although Alec continues to have had more unique beers. Badges, I'm 4 ahead, which suggests we're both maxxing out on the gamification. 

Also we share two of the top beers, Schlenkerla and Oude Geuze Boon. Again, not much of a surprise. 

Last.FM year update

 What did I listen to last year? one of the benefits of last.fm is that it records what I've listened to from the laptop and the phone. I'm also retentive enough to scrobble digital versions of the LPs i'm listening to. So I'd say this is pretty accurate.

No real surprises there. The categories (eg prog rock) are Last.FM's not mine, I don't think I've got anything filed under prog. 
I see Prince is in the top artists - twice. I quite like Prince :D 

21 November 2023

Whisky: Best of the Best

 Another year of tasting, another Best of the Best. Range was definitely better this year than last, but I'm not sure things are back to pre-Covid variety. Having said that, I doubt anyone would complain with this line-up.

Benriach 10yo Hart Brothers 1st Sherry Butt 57.5% 
N: apple, sweet, toffee, redwine, cinnamon, vanilla, hazlenut
P: complex, sweet, chocolate, cinnamon, spicy, sticky
F: long, hot, sulphur on finish, spicy

9/10 hey its a BenRiach, the odds are high it'll be good. Came 4th, 8.76

Aberfeldy 18yo #3080 Exceptional Double Cask sherry finish 52%
N: dry, chocolate, sherry, dusty, apple, aged, tobacco
P: spice, light, dark chocolate, fudge, sour, sticky
F: med-long, salt, sulphur
8/10 Interesting and tasty, nicely aged sherry finish. Came 7th on the night 8.37

Glenallachie 15yo 46% NC2
N: sweet, sherry, coke, varnish, cedar, marzipan, vanilla, parmesan
P: light, honeycomb
F: med
8/10 good but possibly the worst (?!) of the evening. Came 8th, 8.12 

Ben Nevis 25yo Blackadder 1996-2022 Statement 41 Raw Cask 51.9% Oloroso Butt #2203
N: sweet, prunes, chocolate, banda reel
P: grass, phenol, peat, amazing
F: long
9 maybe 10/10 I loved this, hugely complex and interesting. Stunning. Came 1st, 9.34

Glenfarclas 105 60% (circa 2006)
N: disappointing, lemonade
P: salty, honey, cloying
F: med
8/10 so it's not bad, but i felt it was lacking something compared to the others in the line-up. It did better (for me) in the tasting. Came 3rd 8.91

Finlaggan Original Peaty 58% single malt cask strength
N: medicinal, supporting wound, bacon, salt
P: quiet, smoke, salty, chewy, 
F: long, dry
8.5/10 this was good, only salty finish of the evening. 6th 8.43

Cardrona 62.7% full flight 2016-2023 Gonzales Byass 7yo Oloroso PX butt #114
N: sulphur, matches, biscuit, cigar, bleach
P: tasty, caramel, wood, ginger, chocolate
F: long and tasty
9.5/10 this was excellent, it's not cheap, but very good. 5th 8.63

Mystery: Tamdhu Batch 5
N: popcorn, caramel, cut wood, vanilla, fruity
P: spicy, salt, dry, toffee, caramel, ginger, vanilla, 
F: long hot spicy
9/10. Really nice, and quite reasonably prices. Came 2nd, 8.94

Best of the Best also has haggis, and all the usual stuff addressing the haggis. This year our band of intrepid booze hounds were asked to do the carrying... and we got to drink some very nice booze out back. All win.


27 September 2023

GlenDronach & Benriach with Rachel Barrie

 A tasting with the master blender for GlenDronach and BenRiach? well ok, that works for me.

BenRiach The Original 10yo 43% (served with smoked ham rillette, peach & apricot relish, toasted ciabatta)
N: apple, citrus, fruit salad, spritzic
P: fruity, light, pears, marshmallows, spicy
F: short-med, spikey, hint of pepper/salt?
6.5/10 nice dram, just not really too interesting? 

The GlenDronach 12yo 43% (maple glazed duck breast, carrot and ginger puree, poached cherries). 
N: sherry, leather, complex, warm, honey
P: lollies, sweet, perfume, sherry, spikey
F: med-long, dry
6/10. a marriage of PX and oloroso casks for this one, nice quaffable dram.

The GlenDronach "revival" 15yo 46% (seared venison, minted sweet potato, cranberry and cherry relish)
N: chocolate (maybe white), caramel, marshmallow, orange, tobaco, fruit, scallops
P: spikey, hot, poor balance, chocolate, strong, fruity
F: hot, long, dry
6/10 increased PX and reduced oloroso.

BenRiach 25yo 46% (confit pork belly, waldorf salad, quince mayo).
N: sweet, caramel, sherry, show polish, menthol, smoke
P: long, big complex, leather, sherry
F: big long prickly
8/10 this one had additional madeira casks in it, it's lovely. big, complex, showed its age well.

GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 11 59.8% (Crispy fried katsu chicken, Japanese bulldog sauce)
N: rubber, complex, honey, menthol
P: sweet, port, ?too sweet?, leathery
F: hot, complex
8/10 also liked this, had increased oloroso and reduced PX and is roughly a 10yo

BenRiach smoke season Double Cask matured 52.8% (teriyaki chicken skewers, toasted sesame kewpie mayo)
N: smoke, bacon, peat, medicinal, sherry, suppurating wounds 
P: ash, dry, peat, sweet
F: long, dry
7/10 I had high hopes for this as the old benriach solstice is one of my favourite whiskies, this was good. without being great.

Overall, disappointing. Both labels have some amazing whiskies, but most of these were standard releases, with the exception of the the 25 and cask strength. That seemed a missed opportunity, if you've got the blender out, and Rachel Barrie is famous, to trot out something interesting for her fan group. She's a good speaker, but we left after 2.5hours which seemed a little too long, lots of stories but it was hard to hear the questions which made understanding the answers a bit tricky. Special vote of fuck you to the company reps (?) who spent most of their time making pointless remarks to themselves, making it even harder to hear. 

I guess this is one reason we like the Regional tastings, better selection of whisky and fewer twats.

31 August 2023

Tamdhu Tasting : Regional

 I'm writing this up after a few beers and whiskies, which I'm hoping will make my notes during the tasting more legible. In the words of my favourite hero "what could possibly go wrong?"

So this was a Regional Wines tasting focussing on Tamdhu, a distillery I've come to like more over the years, which can probably be traced back to Neil...

Aberlour A'bunadh Batch 76

  • N: nutmeg, marmalade, wood, balsa, PVA, perfume, syrup, sherry
  • P: caramel, spicy, smooth, juicy, vanilla
  • F: long, dry, raisins
I was a fan of the A'Bunadh thanks to Regional, we had a couple of early releases (6, 9?) and I've had a few bottles over the years 6, 10, mid teens, and a mid thirties. And the quality has definitely decreased. It used to be our benchmark for tasting, so was great to see the quality has come back. I gave this 8, and would happily have a bottle in the cupboard as a benchmark for sherry monsters. It came 2nd, with 9.33 

Glenfarclas 105 60% (current release)

  • N: pineapple, acetone, fruit salad, sweet, sulphur, dusty shelf
  • P: prickly, sap, caramel, green apple, light
  • F: med long, integrated, dry
8/10 for me, but came 7th with an average of 8.14. It's used to be a go-to for me, but again had dipped, great to see it getting better again.

Tamdhu Batch Strength #6 56.8%
  • N: lighter, pineapples, sweetness, meths, coconut, salty caramel, hint of citrus
  • P: fruit salad, sweet, sour, metallic, boysenberries
  • F: med tannin, sour
7.5/10 - this did not do well with the group coming last (8th) although still a respectable score of 7.94.

Tamdhu Batch Strength #3 58.3%
  • N: sherry, rum, sweet, acetone, sour, molasses
  • P: sherry, chocolate, raisins, thick, spicy, cinnamon, 
  • F: long, chocolate
8.5/10 Came 4th with 8.98

Tamdhu Batch Strength #4 57.8%
  • N: very sweet, fruity, pears, sour, musty, peaches, mushrooms, coffee
  • P: citrus, dry, creme brulee, woody, pepper, 
  • F: long, dry, pepper, heat builds
8.5-9 /10 I like this a lot. Interesting and complex. Didn't go so well with others coming 6th with 8.53

Tamdhu Batch Strength #5 59.8%
  • N: sweet, high alc., sour, tobacco, ginger nuts, treacle, dry, woody
  • P: sour, sick, fruit salad, oak, bourbon
  • F: med
6.5/10 this one was pretty bland for me, although it did well coming 3rd with 9.0

Tamdhu Batch Strength #7 57.5%
  • N: apple, pear, caramel, fruit, citrus, sea salt
  • P: sulphur, parma violets, sherry, very sweet, coconut
  • F: med-long
8/10 and came 5th with 8.84

Glenfarclas 105 60% (c. 2006 release)
  • N: strong, high alc., sherry, musty, molasses, green apple, vinegar, calvados.
  • P: musty, dry, tasty
  • F: long, dry,
8/10 didn't seem to make a huge impression on me, although everyone else rated it as it came 1st (9.43). I used to like 105, and have an older bottle sitting in my cabinet....

So although I appear a bit disparaging about some of these, it's worth looking at what they scored by the group - they were all good whiskies. with the 'worst' whisky coming in at 7.94 (Tamdhu #6) it's a pretty good indication that was a good tasting. 

31 July 2023

Whisky Tasting ; Whisky Cellar Series 005

 Tasting at Regional, but not part of our usual monthly tastings, this was run by Whisky Cellar's owner, virtually from Edinburgh. WC are an independent bottler, and the couple of theirs I've had were good so hopes were high for this.

Glentauchers Single Malt 14 yo first fill ex-bourbon, 53.8%
N: vanilla, rich, caramel, chocolate, coffee, marshallows
P: oaky, caramel, prickly, honey, fruit salad, melons, spicy
F: long, warming, citrus fruits
8.5/10 really liked this one, lovely nose and everything flowed well from it - great balance.

Invergordon Single Grain 31 yr fill ex-bourbon, 46.5%
N: rubber, oily, PVA, coconut rough, chocolate
P: light, coconut, salty, toasted rice
F: med light
6/10 i liked the lightness, but overall didn't rock my world

House malt single malt 10 yr, oloroso sherry butt, 57.1%
N: sherry, chocolate, burnt sugar
P: bitter, alcholic, sweet muscavado, light?
F: med, incr alco
6/10 I'd had this before, and really rated it (I even got a bottle) but this time not great. Having tried my bottle again, I'd still rate it an 8/10 so I guess situation?

Auchroisk Single Malt 13 yr PX Sherry finish, 56.7%

  • N: apple, pears, fruitsalad, vanilla, sweet
  • P: complex, leather, sherry, liquorice, brnady, nutty
  • F: med-long
9/10 really liked this one, complex, interesting, sherry - win!

Benrinnes single malt 11yr pauillac red wine finish 56.2%
N: banan, sweet, cut grass, 
P: light, not much
F: short, weak
6/10 I didn't get much from this one

Longmorn single malt 11yr double cask finish: sauternes (8months) oloroso sherry (6months) 56.7%
N: sherry, old leather, sweet, hint of rubber
P: big tannic, sherry, bitter, berries, woody, sweet, demarara sugar
F: med-long, tea/tannin
8/10 ahhh good to see I still like Longmorn. I like it alot.

Bunnahabhain 'Moine' single malt 10yo ex-bourbon cask 55.4%
N: salt, bacon, rubber, medicinal, vigorous
P: rubber, salt, strong but light at times, vanilla, cream, dry
F: long, dry, big
9/10 A peated Bunna you say? why go on...

Really enjoyed this tasting, varied, and having the owner run it (albeit from Edinburgh) was cool. I can see me picking up some of their whiskies, probably on Series 6 or 7 now.


27 June 2023

Whisky: New drams tasting

This months Regional Wines tasting focused on new whiskies that have arrived recently on our shores. Pricepoints were all middle, with one exception (Aberfeldy 18yo). 

GlenGrant 15yo [Mystery]
N: sweet, marshmallows, cut grass, bourbon, parma violets
P: prickly, sweet, spritzic, citrus, honey (when added water)
F: med-long, hint of oily finish.
7.5/10 This came 5th (7.82) I liked it as a quaffing dram.

Glenglassaugh 9yo USA wine hogs #522 9.5.2012-2022 bottled for Aotearoa 58.9%
N : sweet, hint of smoke and peat, bonfire, light
P: warm, 'sick', ashes, malt, burnt wood, bitter
F: long and not very nice.
5/10 Although others liked it (4th, 8.22) it didn't work at all for me. Everything was pretty unpleasant - another case where just because you can rack it in wine, doesn't mean you should. Sure, some of them are great, but this isn't one of those. Our group suspected they were offloading it on NZ :) 
I liked the old Glenglassaugh's I've had, but the new ones have been underwhelming.

Benrinnes 'The Benn' 10yo 55.5%
N: apples, shampoo, cider, dry, pears, stonefruit, ginger
P: ginger, pears, interesting, white wine?
F: medium - adding water made it more mellow and opened it up
8/10 (8.5 with water). The group didn't like it (7th, 6.87), however I did. Really loved the nose, and quite tempted to buy a bottle, it's different, light and interesting.

Blackadder 10yo Red Snake 108 1st fill bourbon July 2021 57.4%
N: coconut rough, sooty peat, incr alc., bourbon, custard, spritzic/citrus/lemon
P: spikey but no real flavour, salt, grapefruit
F: short and soapy
5/10, another disappointment for me. Came 6th, 7.2

Tamdhu #7 sherry casks batch strength 57.5%
N: sherry, sweet, complex, oldish, toffee, caramel, sulphur, spicy, rubber, tannins
P: big sherry, tasty, dark chocolate, rubber
F: warm and long, hint of pepper
9/10 loved this. Predictably ticked a lot of boxes for me, came 2nd 8.79 

Benriach 10yo Hart Brothers sherry butt 57.5% 10.2011-3.2022. 
N: sherry, sweet, complex, meths!, caramelised sugar, butterscotch, very sweet
P: caramel, sugar, oily, bitter chocolate, tannin
F: long, bitter
8.5/10 again very nice and tasty, came first 8.96

Aberfeldy 18yo 52% exceptional double cask sherry finish #3080 11.11.2002-22.06.2021
N: watery, light, wood, light sherry
P: very smooth veering to bland, civilised, one dimensional, 
F: short
6.5/10 For the price of this one, it's very disappointing. Actually, as a whisky it's very disappointing. Others loved it, 3rd 8.78, but for me, there wasn't much in the flavour department.

Interesting tasting, all of the whiskies were relatively young which I guess is now the default position for most distilleries as old stock is worth far more. But there's some interesting, and great, things happening in these drams...

24 May 2023


 Rum, not a spirit I know much about, other than dump it in cocktails and try and get over those student rum n coke days.

Santisima Trindidad de Cuba 3YO

  • N: light, menthol, grapefruit, mint
  • P: light, tasty, menthol, grapefruit
  • F: hot, short-med, 

6/10 very sweet.

Santisima Trindidad de Cuba 7YO

  • N: sweet, pineapple, vanilla, minty
  • P: peppery, vanilla
  • F: med, vanilla


Bayside Rum co. 

Uses kumara as base 

  • N: musty, woody, PVA 
  • P: vanilla, peppery, hint of wine
  • F: long


La Progresiva Cuban Rum

  • N: light, dark sugar, molasses
  • P: molasses, sugary, vanilla
  • F: med-short, peppery

8/10 i liked this one 

Black Tears Cuban Spiced Rum

  • N: vanilla, spicy, cocoa, chocolate
  • P: spicy, dry sweet, coffee, chocolate
  • F: short

8/10 really liked this, and i can see it working in a espresso martini

El Dorado 12YO

  •  N: demerara sugar 
  • P: spicy, molasses, coconut
  • F: long, peppery

8/10 wasn't expecting the coconut but it made for an interesting taste

El Dorado 15YO

  • N: sugar, vanilla, wood, solvent
  • P: vanilla, demerara sugar
  • F: med

7/10 possibly more elegant than the 12yo but not half as interesting. fantastic colour in it tho.

Pleased I went, I'm not sure I'll rush to another one, but it had more variety than expected. and I can see myself using spiced rum in cocktails...

17 April 2023

Whisky: Dreams of Dramfest '23 #1

 Some drams from the recent Dramfest, which reminds me I still haven't done the full list and rough ratings. I mean, I can see the bits of paper from here, but ... 

This is likely to be a two parter of dramfest, which seems a good thing.

Mystery: Tomatin 18yo Oloroso 46%
Nose: sweet, sherry, ginger, lemonade, treacle, demerara sugar,
Palate: sweet, honey, coffee, chocolate, sherry
Finish: long, salty, dry

8.5/10 This came 5th (8.12) really nice, nose was amazing and the rest of the whisky wasn't too bad. I'd guessed GlenAllachie based on the ginger and citrus on the nose..

Glen Scotia 'seasonal release' 2022, 12yo, 53.3%
N: sweet, woody, leather, vanilla milkshake, cedarwood, balanced, parma violets
P: sulphur, peppery, wood, cognac
F: long, astringent, 

6/10 it came 7th (7.69) I really didn't like this one.

The Whisky Cellar Series 5 Glentauchers 14yo 53.8%
N: dry, creamy, apple, spritzic, lemon, honey, toffee, vanilla, marshmallows
P: citrus, complex, lemonade, fruit salad
F: medium, 
8/10 Came 6th (8.03) I liked it.

Ben Nevis 25yo Blackadder 1996 Raw Cask 51.9%
N: coffee, sherry, dark chocolate, liquourice, black treacle
P: long, passionfruit dark chocolate, burnt sugar (in a good way)
F: long, sweet moving to dry
9.5/10 Perhaps unsurprisingly it came first (9.05). Fantastic whisky.

The Whisky Cellar Series 5 2012 House Malt 57.1%
N: sherry, woody, bananas, soy sauce, sausage rolls, dark chocolate
P: dark chocolate, miso, brown sugar, beef boullion, tiramisu
F: hot and long
9/10 Again, a win from me. Came second (8.89) aiming to pick up a bottle of this one.

GlenAllachie 10yo Cask Strength Batch #8 57.2%
N: lighter, mild sherry, caramel, chocolate, seemed lower alc., medicinal, ozone
P: chocolate, soapy, vanilla, coconut rough
F: medium, very sweet
7/10 a bit sweet on the finish for me. Came 4th (8.31)

Bunnahabhain Moine 16yo 2005 59.4% Blackadder Raw Cask
N: salt, peat, bacon, smoke, iodine, apple
P: smoke, bacon, soot, fire, sweet
F: long, hot, sweet

9/10. Tasty stuff, ticks all the Islay boxes very nicely. Came 3rd (8.85).  

Outside of the tasting, I've been enjoying a Tomatin 12yo and a Clynelish 14yo. 

20 March 2023

Whisky: Campbeltown tasting

 Our band of intrepid boozehounds skipped the previous whisky tasting at Regional (fiscally responsible sherry finishes), but there was no way I'd miss a Campbeltown tasting. It's a region that seems to divide whisky drinkers, but I'm a fan.

Springbank 10yo 46%
Nose: apple, bourbon, dry, apricot, hint of mint?
Palate: apple, warm, custard, liquorice, earthy, 
Finish: hot, med-long

8/10 an excellent opening evening dram, it came 4th over all with 8.0 

Glen Scotia 46% 16yo (mystery whisky)
N: dry, lemonade, heavier nose, chocolate, salt, earthy, vinegar crisps, 
P: light, nicely balanced, apples, sulphur
F: med, but grows, dry
7/10 quite quaffable without being over the top or amazing. It came 5th with 7.64

Springbank Local Barley 10yo 51.6% (Belgravia barley)
N: salt, straw, ash, green apples, dry, sponge cake, ozone
P: ash, not much else
F: dry, long sulphur

5/10 yeah not a fan, I wasn't that blown away by the local barley tasting we did last year either. Over rated, and very over priced. It came 7th with 6.85, although it polarised the group with some very high scores and some very low ones.

Springbank 15yo 46%
N: sweet, sherry., chocolate, cough syrup, ash, liquorice
P: warm, apple, hint of peat, ash, creamy, cake, sherry
F: med, peppery
7.5/10 again nice enough, and a good drop. Came 3rd with 8.31

Longrow Red 15yo 51.4% (11 bourbon casks, 4 pinot noir)
N: rubber, sweet, vigorous, sour, burnt toffee, ash, sulphur, demerara sugar
P: long, sour, complex, pinot, chocolate, creamy
F: long, and interesting
9/10 loved this, again one that divided the audience. some almost failed it, which is why it came 6th with 7.06. 

Kilkerran Port Cask Matured 8yo 57.9%
N: age complex, sherry, tobacco, malt vinegar and salt, dettol, medicinal
P: medium sulphur, bacon, blue cheese, musty, meths
F: medium, medicinal
8/10 a nice vigorous dram this, interesting and complex, and appeared older than it was. It came 2nd with 8.73

Kilkerran Sherry Cask Matured 8yo 58.1%
N: Sweet, caramel, rich creamy, pencil shavings, complex
P: oaky, dark tea, old, chocolate
F: hot x buns, long
9/10 another really good dram, complex and again not reflective of its age. Came 1st with 8.81