Heavyweights go Head to Head….

No, not Joshua v Klitschko, but Edrington v Diageo.

In the recent Spirit of Speyside Whisky Awards the Macallan 30 was pitched against the Mannochmore 25, with one opponent winning by a clear knockout!

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Now I know whisky appreciation is all about personal preference, but for me, the Mannochmore swept the Macallan aside, with the fight not even going the distance.

The price difference did not equate to enjoyment for me; at about 5 times the cost (and this is a rough estimate) the Macallan was not worth the extra cost in my opinion. It’s nose and taste was far too woody, musty and earthy for me. If that’s your tipple then go for it, but the fresh apple, toffee and vanilla from the Mannochmore stood head and shoulders above its opponent.

The Mannochmore was sublime, the Macallan was just old!

Those of you who know me will be thinking, “well, that’s no surprise from an ex-Diageo man”. Sorry, this has nothing to do with it. Quality and flavour beats “a name” in my opinion, pure and simple!

So, you pay your money and take your choice, in this instance I’d pay less money and take the better choice as well.

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What a Bargain……

It pays to have a regular look in the the whisky aisle of your local supermarket; I walk down this aisle in Tesco and Asda every visit!

It paid off recently when I saw this beauty reduced to half price!!

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Would you believe it, a Glenlivet Nadurra in a bourbon cask, just what I like, and two of them left at half price. Well, I took both of course and opened the first one tonight.

At 55.7% you would expect it to be a touch too much, but it could be drunk at this strength. The nose was wonderful with fruit and flowers and the taste was superb with tropical fruit, sweetness and plenty (of my beloved) vanilla.

I added what I thought was just enough water but it was too much and the nose and palate was gone. OK, it needed a wee bit water and I will be more careful next time, or maybe just drink it neat.

A wonderful whisky, so glad I managed to get two!

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When is a bargain not a bargain?

When the whisky is rubbish!

I do like a bargain, especially when it involves a bottle of whisky, so thought I’d try a couple of new expressions for me when I saw them reduced in the supermarket recently.

I’d scored a great hit this way before getting a Cardhu Gold Reserve at a belter of a price.

I did not get the same however with my Dalwhinnie Winter’s Gold and Haig Club Clubman.

The Haig, a single grain expression was very light, with a whiff of mint toffee (I regularly nose that in young whisky) and vanilla. There was a strange aftertaste, not sure what it was. OK, it was smooth, but not a long finish at all.

And the Dalwhinnie was like drinking water, no nose and no taste, nothing.

So a bargain is only a bargain if the whisky tastes nice, like Cardhu Gold Reserve.

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Can the 8 be as good as the 16?

It was a bit of a celebration when we were down in Edinburgh the other day, my son had an original musical showing at the Edinburgh Fringe. So I treated myself to a wee gift, the 200th celebratory Lagavulin.

IMG_5819With Lagavulin normally being a 16 year old, well, that was what I used to drink in the past, I was interested to see that the “special” bottling for the anniversary was only an 8 year old.

It has been a while since I’ve tasted the 16 year old but I do remember it as being very nice. So the obvious questions is, “could the 8 be as good as the 16?”

The colour was very light, but that was no surprise; it was clear and fresh.

The nose was nothing special; there was not a lot there actually. But I could detect smoke obviously and a little banana (this is a note I get a lot from Islay malts).

And then we have the taste; it was wonderful, so much more than I expected from the nose. I could not believe how sweet it was, it was as if I had sugar on my lips. The smoke was fantastic too but not too strong. It was only after a sip that I noticed it was 48% ABV, but it didn’t feel like that. It was smooth.

The finish was wonderful, I can still feel it after a few minutes.

So how about answering the original question, yes, the 8 was better than the 16 (in my opinion).

 

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Benromach Peat Smoke……

When looking for a peaty whisky I have been known to avoid Speyside attempts and go for a Talisker or Islay malt. So I was interested to see what my “local” could come up with; hence the tasting of this Benromach Peat Smoke (2005).

Hit with an unexpected nose prickle, it didn’t get off to a good start! But it soon improved.

It didn’t smell like it was produced from a 67ppm malt; the smoke was there but not too overpowering. The pleasant citrus and fruity aroma was very nice, with a banana and vanilla background.

The initial hit of peat and smoke did feel like a 67 ppm malt; but the smoky finish was quite short, being replaced with a delightful sweetness.

A wee dribble of water heightened the banana aroma for me, and softened the flavour and finish rather nicely. The water seemed to ‘improve’ the smoky flavour as well, I really enjoyed this dram.

So thank you Benromach, another peaty dram for me to savour; I’d better try the 2006 soon!

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Glenfiddich 21 v Cragganmore 25….the ‘face off’

Having been fortunate to taste these two big boys in the initial round of judging for the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Awards in January, I was looking forward to doing my own wee ‘face-off’ with them again after the winner had been announced. So my wife Nunsy and I settled down tonight to compare and contrast; and it is nothing new that there was discord in the Cameron household!

The judging panel placed these two heavyweights in the final and the public chose the Glenfiddich 21 as the winner; but did we agree with the general public? Well, yes and no!

I agreed with the public, but Nunsy didn’t. I have to be honest and say I really wanted to like the Cragganmore 25 more than the Glenfiddich 21, but then old loyalties take a long time to die away, and I have some great friends still working at Cragganmore (mind you I have some friends working at Glenfiddich as well).

They are both excellent drams, however the Glenfiddich came up trumps for me this time. The nose was fantastic, fresh and fruity, with apples, pears and grass, but also dried fruit and coffee. The Cragganmore nose was a bit too woody for me, however Nunsy loved it with the rich toffee sweetness and white chocolate.

The Glenfiddich also did it for me with taste. It was again fresh and fruity, with a light vanilla and sweet finish. I agreed with Nunsy that the finish was short, too short for her. The Cragganmore was also full of flavour, more rich and fuller in the mouth as well, with a longer finish.

I am really moving towards favouring lighter and fruitier whiskies, and I think this is why I preferred the Glenfiddich 21, but believe me when I say I would never turn my nose up at a Cragganmore 25; both winners in the Cameron house!

 

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Benromach 35 YO

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Thirty-five years ago I would have been a shy wee second year, sitting in a classroom a short twenty-minute walk away from where this dram was born. In the time it has taken this Benromach to mature I’ve had a career, changed that career and become a husband, father and grandfather. A lot has happened in the world as this whisky has sat quietly changing and improving. Thirty-five years is a long time any way you look at it.

The sample has sat in my study for quite a while and I was wondering why it had taken me so long to taste it. I was busy I said, lots of other stuff to do and taste. I think however I was worried that I would not like it.

IMG_4847 - Version 2I needn’t have had any worries, as this is a gorgeous whisky. I have tasted some expressions in the past that were too old, having the distillery character completely overpowered by the wood. This is not the case with Benromach 35.

It did have an earthy and woody aroma, but it also had fruit, coffee and liquorice. The nose was rich and complex, if I could have waited five or ten minutes I am sure it would have developed even more! Funnily though, it had a kind of stout or Guinness smell as well.

 

And the flavour did not let me down. Coffee again shone through but there was also fruit, treacle, dark chocolate and fruitcake. Very rich and very smooth with a real orangey finish, it was a real joy.

Pity I only had a wee 50 ml sample, but at over £400 a bottle it is a bit much to pay for a full bottle.

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