Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask

The wonderful chaps at The Dram Team had included this in one of their delightful boxes. If you like me enjoy having a treat delivered straight to your door then I heartily recommend you give them a try.

This sample I’m about to review is the Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask – 57.8% vol.

This is a distillery I know nothing about so I’ll add a little info from their website…

“Established in 2005, Kavalan is Taiwan’s first whiskymaker and the nation’s only family-owned whisky distillery. Kavalan takes the old name of Yilan county where the distillery is located in northeastern Taiwan. The pure water and fresh air make this part of the subtropical island the ideal environment for the production of whisky.

Kavalan Distillery is an entrepreneur’s dream come true. Mr. Tien-Tsai Lee, the founder of King Car conglomerate had long dreamed of producing a Taiwanese whisky, yet it was not until 2002 when Taiwan joined the WTO that his goal could be achieved.
The distillery brings together a professional whisky R&D team with a world-class master blender, Ian Chang, as well as the expertise of renowned whisky specialist, the late Dr. Jim Swan.
The team implements the highly specialized distilling and blending skills that King Car Group has cultivated for more than 30 years through beverage experience and knowledge”.

So. To the sample.

Full of dark succulent richness. That incredible burst of demerara sugar coupled with delightful rich fruits. Dates & warm leather. A slice of delicious fruit cake. There feels like there’s a bit of age to this. The colour is magnificent, natural and as it’s left to open there’s milk chocolate and a hint of creaminess with the sherry. They’re all jostling for your attention and beckoning you to sip.

This whisky is cask strength (which is what I love) and it was matured in Oloroso Sherry casks.

The palate delivers a gentle warmth and a fullness on the mouth. It’s smooth and the fruit and vanilla mingle with a slight peppery spicy warmth whilst there’s a hint of coffee bitterness too. The finish leaves you savouring the aforementioned flavours.

I’m glad I’ve finally tried this.



The Benromach – Twitter Tasting

Sadly I had to duck out of the tasting at the last moment. However, I’ve finally had the chance to catch up with a brace of Benromach.

And what a treat!

I’m not sure what order they were sampled, but I chose the Triple Distilled, then the Château Cissac.

Benromach Triple Distilled

50% vol

A little smoke and vanilla. Apples and orange on the nose.

Palate is quite punchy but smooth. Really wasn’t expecting that. Smooth and a little viscous. Malt flavours come to the fore. Oak and dark bitter chocolate too. Some lemon or definitely a citrus fruit. The smoke still making itself known in the background.

Delicious finish with the dark chocolate remaining.

Château Cissac

45% vol.

Again a certain amount of subtle smoke on the nose. Fruity again…galia melon mingling with the smoke and juicy apples. There’s a delicious oak coming through with a delightful orange scent. The palate delivers too. A lovely richness in the mouth coupled with a good grind of black pepper. There’s a yummy dark chocolate bitterness, vanilla too. I do love the oak on the palate too. The finish is delicious and reassuringly good, and temptingly warm.

Thanks to Steve Rush and Benromach for including me on this tasting.



Happy 5th Birthday That Boutique-y Whisky Company

A few weeks ago whilst having a five minute break from my computer at work I saw that it the fifth birthday for That Boutique-y Whisky Company and what is more we could send a card / message to celebrate this fantastic event. Those that did were then invited to join in a birthday tweet tasting. How utterly fab!

Dave Worthington aka the guv’nor was guiding us through the tasting last Wednesday night while all 21 of us enjoyed five wonderful delights from That Boutique-y Whisky Company.

The first dram of the evening was the 7 year old Speyburn batch 1 – 49.5% I was welcomed with a deliciously fresh and fragrant grassy nose. A little cream soda and vanilla enticing me to have a sip… the palate didn’t fail with zesty orange and delicious vanilla accompanied by nibbles of a malted milk biscuit. The spices that appear are not off putting, they’re lovely and give this a yummy finish with some creaminess remaining.

Next up was the Irish Single Malt Batch 1, this is 14 years old at 48.6% – I’ve not had a lot of Irish whiskey so this was a welcome treat. You get an inviting soft fruity type nose with a delicate hint of Sherry and Mr. Toms nuts (in case I need to explain…this is a bar of nuts covered in sticky caramel. And not some weird fetish.) It’s quite a delicious nose. The palate gives you a yummy bitter mocha flavour with fruit sitting alongside it. Leather and some dark sugar too. The finish is smooth and creamy with toffee and the fruit remains on the palate too.

I guess I should add that I love the cards that accompanied this tasting from the ever so talented Emily Chappell.

The nose on the Blended Scotch #3 Batch 1 which is a 23 year old was immediately inviting with a delicious full richness and wood. I love the scent of wood.. and maybe a bit musky. Toffee too and maybe a hint of leather. It was definitely drawing me in. And as it was left to open orange came oozing out. The palate is full with Leibniz dark chocolate biscuits which came through on the finish with a satisfying finish.

We then moved on to the Invergordon which is a single grain whisky and it’s 43 lovely years old. A lovely nose with a little acetone and this is in no way a bad thing. There’s caramel and sticky toffee. I get the cloves which reminds me of having a poorly tooth as a child. There’s a little wood too. The palate is smooth but big! Vanilla and mocha it’s both sweet and full and reassuringly good. I like this…I’m just having another sip and I’m smiling.

And as the balloons were being popped and party bags were being readied we moved on to the last dram of the night The Macallan 29 year old – 43.5%

As the postcard has “hmmm…curious” written on it, I must say I tend to agree. I think I’m perhaps missing something vital with Macallan.

Time will tell. Maybe I’ve just not tried the right one…yet.

Anyway, back to the dram. I’m getting liquorice comfits on the nose – anyone who lived the 70’s will remember torpedos. This in turn gives me some mint and cake with jam. Maybe even a breakfast bar – think Kellogg’s sticky strawberry/fruit kind of thing. The dryness of the palate mingles with some maltiness which follows through on the finish.

I think my delights of the evening have to be the Invergordon, then the Irish / Blended Scotch whisky jostling for second and third position.

So a huge hug of thanks to Dave and That Boutique-y Whisky Company for the samples and inviting me to the partaaaay! It was a blast!

And it was nice to be in such amiable and fun company too…now where’s the blindfold, I think there’s a donkey needs his tail pinning back on…oh and the pizza was coming!

Sarah 🙂 x

Manchester Whisky Festival 

So sometimes I do things of a slightly spontaneous nature. And this was one of them. And why the heck not?!

Friday morning had me up at silly o’clock and off to the airport for a relatively quick flight down to Manchester for The Whisky Lounge festival. Beautiful blue skies had driven away the fog that had threatened to delay the landing. It was to be a fresh look at this city.

I made my way to my hotel and was lucky to find my room was already available so I checked and unashamedly went for a sleep. After a bath and freshening up I decided it was time to explore. I spotted Paul (whiskyweegie) up a side street (pure chance) and approached him as he was in his boot (we’ll sort of) “don’t jump, I’m just saying hello!”.  A nice chat and a catch up before I continued my walk, the goal being The Whiskey Jar on Tariff Street for one of their G&Ts and the glass laced with Laphroaig 10. Sat across from a spot… (that’s for another time (okay that’s in “Inside the Bottle: The Contents”))

Anyway. I made it for a couple of G&Ts then back to my hotel and get ready for the festival, pick up my fudge and get sampling.

It was nice to see Gina on the front desk and a quick hello to Amanda.

So wristband on and up the stairs to collect my glass, pipette and tokens. Missed my chance at first through the door. There were some eager whisky fans that evening…

Had a lovely time tasting some delicious drams from Talisker, Highland Park, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, Spey Whisky, Paul John, The Quiet Man. I’m sure there’s more… Tried some El Dorado Rum and spoke to lots of people about fudge.

One chap asked me how I put the whisky it in so I motioned a pouring action (ha ha.) Also had a lovely long chat with an older chap called Brian who definitely wanted to see my fudge elsewhere…really nice to know.

It was nice seeing the lovely and ever so funny Colin (Dunn) especially chatting over the Talisker 57 degrees North. Memorable.

Lots of giggles and a lovely hug from Kat (whisky discovery) too.

Then it was the last pour and time to go back to my hotel…

Or so I thought.

I’d nipped to Tesco for a drink and snacks and on the way back I heard “fudge lady!” This was Jen who I’d met earlier… I was then told I couldn’t possibly go back to my hotel as the night was still young. So I joined them in the Vine. Crappy whisky. Flat coke. They didn’t know how to make whisky sours, but we all had a good laugh.

I then decided it best to leave and went back and crashed out. A busy day ahead…

Saturday was late check out and back to the Town Hall for the early session. Equal first through the door! (Yeah I’ve still got it – ha ha.) Popped my case and bag down and got sampling… I started the day with Talisker Port Ruighe – lovely and interesting dram. Moving on I tried the Glenlivet Nadurra Oloroso matured Batch OL0816 and yum yum.. met a tweeter on route too. Mr WGS19. And Greg of Great Drams and thus completing the full set of The Dram Team…surely that deserves a prize?!!

I had to watch how much I was having as I was flying later. I managed to sneak in an Aberlour A’bunadh batch 58…can’t beat an A’bunadh in my books. Then all too soon it was time to think about leaving (boo! hate saying goodbye- think I need to start saying “see you later!”)

Final dram? Yes it had to be a Paul John and a quick catch up with Craig & Sorren and a deliciously good dram (see my tasting notes on cask #1444.)

So all too soon it was “see you later” a hug or two and leaving some fudge with friends I had to head back to Manchester airport. I asked the Town Hall security for the quickest route back to Piccadilly Station at which he took my case from me, laughingly said “you and me, we’re finished”… led me down the steps and along to Tesco. Pointed out that I should follow the route or the trams and wished me a good day 🙂

Got to the airport with an hour to spare. I was bound for Inverness!

Thanks to everyone I met and chatted to in Manchester (apologies if I forgot to mention you.) Fun and giggles as per usual.


Paul John Whisky – Cask #1444

Last Saturday I was down in the rather beautiful Manchester Town Hall for The Whisky Lounge festival.

As it was getting very close to my time to rush off to the airport (boo!!) and so my final dram, I thought it would be nice to finish with the Classic. So I headed to the Paul John table to ask for sample (my bottle at home is still closed.) As it happened I was given a rather lovely dram from Craig instead.

This was the Paul John Cask #1444 this is a single cask – 59.7%

So I headed to one of the link bridges. Quiet and away from the crowds (it was a busy session) I could enjoy what was in my glass.

The nose offered lots of malty scents and barley. Hints of vanilla and ripe fruit. It was a fragrant sweet nose mingling with malted biscuits. Delicious honey sweetness  (in a place surrounded by images of worker bees seemed fitting.) Those lovely spices were really drawing me in, with a subtle herb influence too. After a while I got the most delicate hint of parma violets (wasn’t going to say that – but I did.)

A lot of spice initially greets your tastebuds. Oak and malt again. The woody hints are pleasant on the palate. Fruity sweetness and that soft herbaliness.. Malted biscuits. Full and smooth delicious mouthfeel coats the mouth.

The spice remains on the palate. It’s just toying with your tastebuds. A long finish with that delicious oakiness resting nicely with the remaining delicate spices.

Then it was time for an all too brief “see you later”…

As I was leaving I left some of my fudge with Sorren & Craig at the Paul John table, grabbed my bags and I was gone…

Thanks for the opportunity of trying this Craig.


Syndicate 58/6 Small Batch Release Blended Scotch Whisky

I was recently asked if I would like to try a sample of the Syndicate 58/6 which is a blended whisky, this is quite the award winner having won gold at the IWSC in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. So what is the Syndicate 58/6? It is a blend which contains 18 single malt whiskies and 4 single grain whiskies. The quality has been maintained over the 12 years by operating a “Solera” system*, when the additional 12 year old whiskies are added, they are rebounded with the older stock. Therefore this been still contains small quantities of the original 1958 blend. I was sent this sample by Douglas Laing, ooh! and some chocolates – can’t forget them.

The blend has also been “married” and finally matured for up to 2 years in 4 year old Oloroso sherry casks.

*Solera is a process for ageing liquids such as whisky, by fractional blending in such a way that the finished product is a mixture of ages, with the average age gradually increasing as the process continues over many years. The purpose of this labor-intensive process is the maintenance of a reliable style and quality of the beverage over time…

The nose is sweet and you do get the warm hint of sherry, caramel and dark muscovado sugar. Soft hints of vanilla, honey and orchard fruits and also some orange. Delicate spices come through on the nose too. The palate delivers a very smooth mouth feel, yet it is rich and flavourful, caramel and apple come through. I did try a sip with the flipping brilliant sherry finished (Scotch whisky) dark chocolate truffle and they were fab together. The finish is lovely on this whisky, an easy drinker.

Thanks for the opportunity to try this Douglas Laing.



Heaven Hill UK Tweet Tasting

On the 4th July myself and a host of other tweeters joined together for an evening of bourbon from Heaven Hill UK. hmm just realised the # I used read #HeaveHillUK…D’oh missing the N!

First to sample was Evan Williams Extra Aged, the nose gave rich sweet honey and caramel yet slightly minty, probably like Pacers if you’re of that generation?! Sweet hint of vanilla and a dash of oak and banana. Palate is quite punchy, caramel, burnt sugar and that minty-ness remains with some spices too. Dry and bitter finish.

Next to try was the Old Fitzgerald Larceny, toffee and fresh baked bread, caramel, vanilla and soft sugar. A touch of cinnamon. On the palate, sweet and a tad doughy a little peppery and some wood too, quite dry on the finish.

Now to the Bernheim Original. Honey and freshly made buttered popcorn / buttered white toast. Sweetex. Sweet and inviting on the nose with a touch of vanilla and a drizzle of honey and maybe a little fudge (it worked well in fudge too.)  Lovely palate sweet and caramel / toffee coming through.

And last but not least the Rittenhouse. The nose delivers honey and a touch of oak, slightly fresh note too. Palate spicy and sweet and a bit tingly. Some delicious bitterness though.

My favourites on the evening were Larceny and the Bernheim. Having just sat with them again, I dare say I enjoyed the Rittenhouse too.

Thanks to Steve, and Heaven Hill UK for the chance to take part and for the samples.