Friday, March 23, 2012

Inbox - March 23, 2012

Inbox is our weekly round up of whisky news and PR material that has found its way in to our email inbox. It was created as we cannot write full articles or do justice to every piece that we receive. It features items from around the world of whisky and is published by us each Friday.

Within Inbox we write a few lines detailing each press release/piece of news/PR event that we have received and provide links, where possible, for you to find out further information.

Kilbeggan - Meets the Taoiseach!
The Irish whiskey brand was in the spotlight during the recent St. Patrick's Day celebrations. The Chief Executive Officer of Beam Global, who have recently purchased the independent Irish distillery of Cooley, met up with the Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny.

During the meeting, at a pre-St.Patrick's Day event in Chicago, Matt Shattock (pictured, above right) spoke with Kenny about the upturn in fortunes for Irish whiskey and the take over of Cooley. To celebrate the fact that Irish whiskey is the fastest growing sprits category in the USA, Shattock presented Kenny with a bottle of their Kilbeggan whiskey.

Kingsbarns - New distillery
It is always good to hear about the development of a new distillery, so the news about Kingsbarns is no different. It will be located in Fife in Scotland. The plan is to convert the old farm buildings of East Newhall Farm (pictured)  so as to produce single malt whisky, gin, fruit liqueurs and schnapps.

The proposed distillery is the idea of Doug Clement, who has experience working in the craft distilleries of Tasmania.  The idea is to bring a craft single malt whisky back to Fife and tap in to the massive amount of tourists who visit nearby St. Andrew's each year.  Some funding is in place, but in order to help raise the £1.85 million Doug is giving everyone the opportunity to invest.  This is via the online crowd-funding platform CrowdCube.

For further information on the Kingsbarns distillery, please visit  If you are interested in investing in the project or just want to keep track of how the fund raising is going, please click the following link - click here.

Monkey Shoulder - Join the Easter Chocolate Trail
The innovative guys behind the Monkey Shoulder whisky brand have created a fun, interactive experience for London fans over the forthcoming Easter weekend.  The Monkey Shoulder Chocolate Trail is a subversive take on the traditional Easter egg hunt, but they say 'think less bunnies, more whisky'.  Sounds plenty of fun!

The idea is that if you find an Easter egg in the specially created outdoor space, then you can trade it in for bespoke Monkey Shoulder cocktails or handmade chocolates. Again, sounds fun!  The cocktails are being created by the team at The London Cocktail Club and the chocolates by renowned chocolatier Niko B.

The event will take place from Good Friday 6 April until Easter Monday 9 April and is open to the public between midday and 7pm. Entry is free.  The venue is at 63 Broadwick Street in the heart of London and has been designed by renowned artists and designers such as Bobby Peterson and Anna Garforth.

Suntory - New cocktails for Spring
The latest cocktails in Suntory's Japanese seasons series have been created - the Hakushu Semei (pictured, left) and the Hibiki Kokuu.  The traditional Japanese calendar has 24 seasons and the Semei and Kokuu are the two for April.  The 24 Seasons Cocktail Menu has been created by brand ambassador Zoran Peric, using Suntory's range of award-winning Japanese whiskies.

The Hakushu Semei is made using 50ml of Hakushu 12 year old, 12.5ml of Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, 1ml of Absinthe and lemon zest - Coat an ice cube with absinthe and stir 10 times in a mixing glass. Add the rest of the ingredients then stir 30 times. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with grapefruit zest. The Hibiki Kokuu is a simple mix of 40ml of Hibiki 17 years old blended whisky and 25ml of Prucia golden plum liqueur - Stir the ingredients with ice for about 2 minutes and serve over an ice ball in an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with orange zest.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Winner announced

Last week, we launched a reader competition which offered the chance to win a pair of tickets to this coming weekend's Whisky Live festival in London.  This competition was held in conjunction with The Glenlivet Guardians and the prize included a VIP whisky tasting with Ian Logan, The Glenlivet's Global Brand Ambassador.  This is to be held in a specially constructed Guardian's area at the show.

Well, we are delighted to announce that the winner of the competition, drawn at random, is Joe Holmes who is a member of The Glenlivet Guardians from Yaxley near Peterborough.  He correctly told us that the Glenlivet distillery was founded in 1824 and that the man who founded it was George Smith. Whisky Live London is to be Joe's first ever whisky show, so we are looking forward to hear about his experiences of the event and the whiskies that he tries.  Well done Joe and enjoy!

Have just tried - High West Double Rye

One of a vast array of new craft distillers popping up all over the U.S. , High West Distillery and Saloon was started in 2007 in the former 19th Century frontier town of Park City, Utah, deep within the Rocky Mountains in the western United States. The brainchild of David Perkins, the small distillery started production in 2007 with a mission to revive the whiskey making tradition in Utah and to make great Rocky Mountain whiskey (presumably because its better than making rubbish Rocky Mountain whiskey).

As well as the distillery there is also a thriving Saloon which you can apparently Ski too if you’re so inclined (do you see what i did there?). No mention on their website as to whether the barman slides your glass of whiskey at prodigious speed along the bar towards you but I’d like to think that they do. They should do.

These guys release a number of different whiskies all taking their cues from the American whiskey tradition with a definite bias towards Rye Whiskey. Rye is defined as having at least 51% Rye within the mash bill with the rest of the recipe almost always consisting of Corn and malted Barley. The principle whiskey within the United States prior to Prohibition in the 1920s, Rye whiskey was made all over the States, one of the more famous areas of production being Pennsylvania. Rye whiskey’s fortunes never really recovered after Prohibition, unlike its more accessible cousin Bourbon but was (still is) made sparingly by nearly all the major Kentucky distillers. Nowadays, Rye is on the march again and sales are growing.

 Being a small craft distiller High West are a little bit more open to experiment and so their Ryes are a little bit different from those you might buy from the more established distillers. The mash bills consist of an unusually high proportion of Rye and some are a blend of both very old and very young whisky. Which brings me on a slight thorny issue among some. The older whiskies are not from the High West Distillery but bought from another unspecified distillery, which, given the location of all the major whiskey distilleries in the U.S.A., would not have anything to do with Utah, the Rocky Mountains, or Cowboys. I don’t have a problem with this myself as they’re pretty clear about this on the label.

The Double Rye is a blend of 2 Year Old Rye whiskey with a mash bill of 95% Rye (95%!) and 5% malted Barley and a 16 Year old Rye whiskey with a mash bill of 53% Rye and 37% Corn (presumably the other 10% is malted barley as they don’t specify). Its comes in at 46% ABV and has a nice picture of a cowboy on the label.

Our tasting notes
What’s immediately evident is the shear intensity of the aromas that come at you on first nosing. This is going to be interesting at the very least. Big, expressive aromas of spearmint, toothpaste and gin botanicals, most notably juniper. Very odd but great. There’s a bit of sweetness in there as well, a bit of boiled sweets, and honey. The more it breathes the more spicy the aromas become, I can smell black pepper and cloves. Behind all this there’s also a subtle damp earthy note and a lovely sharp pine needle/Christmas tree smell also a little gristy, porridge oats aroma. An excellent, intense and unusual nose. What the hell is this going to taste like!? On the palate it’s initially not as expressive as the nose will have you believe. Sweet flavours such as honey, toffee, sweet corn come through first but quickly give way to extremely intense, hot, spicy, peppery flavours. Very intense but great, with a lovely chewy mouth feel. There’s also a little savoury note throughout that reminds me of tortillas. Very drinkable, despite the intensity the alcohol doesn’t come through much at all, surprising given there’s some very young whiskey in the bottle.

What’s the verdict?
I very rarely buy a bottle of whiskey more than once but for this whiskey I might just break that rule. Very unique, very intense and very good. If you’ve ever wondered what people meant when they said Rye whiskies were supposed to be spicy, try this one!

High West’s whiskies are available throughout the United States and Canada for around $40 and can be found for around £45 from specialist retailers in the UK.

For more information visit:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Have just tried - McDowell's Single Malt

A friend of ours visiting from India recently brought us a bottle of McDowell's Single Malt whisky to review. McDowell's is known as India's original Single Malt whisky, and the product was first launched in India in 1992.

The McDowell's company has an interesting history. It was originally founded as a trading company by an enterprising Scotsman named Angus McDowell in 1826 in Madras, and incorporated in 1898. The company was eventually acquired by India's United Breweries Group (UB Group) in 1951, who then launched blended whisky on to the Indian market in 1968 under the McDowell's brand name.

UB Group is the largest alcoholic beverage maker in India, with sales in excess of $4bn per annum, and they are perhaps more familiar internationally as the owners of Scotland's Whyte & Mackay company, makers of The Dalmore and Isle of Jura single malts.

The distillery that would eventually produce the McDowell's Single Malt whisky was built in 1971 at Bethora, Goa. This whisky is traditionally made in pot stills, matured in imported casks for a minimum of three years, then bottled and released at the slightly unusual strength of 42.8% alcohol by volume (abv).

Our tasting notes
The colour is a golden yellow and the liquid has a rather liqueur like texture in the glass, producing very narrow tears or 'legs' when swirled around. On the nose a cereal like 'gristy' aroma dominates. Grist is the dry malted barley flour produced by a distillery's grist mill, and here it takes on an earthy, slightly damp quality that made us think of the natural earth floor found in the 'dunnage' warehouse of a traditional distillery. There are grassy notes here, with a mossy green character, slightly vegetal. These mask sweeter notes of brown sugar, caramel and apple that linger underneath.

On the palate, the sweeter and more sugary notes make the initial running, with principal flavours of barley and those damp, earthy grains following on. A bittersweet quality grips the mouth, perhaps a little aggressive, and made me think of sawn oak and sawdust. This whisky has a light body with that initial sweetness quickly giving way to the more predominant bitter notes, and a rather austere finish.

We noted that with time in the glass the sweetness did come a little more into balance, and allowed more green fruits, vanilla, caramel and a little apple compote to emerge.

What's the verdict?
McDowell's Single Malt is an unusual whisky, with a light body, a marked cereal grain and grassy character, and a short finish. It could certainly be enjoyed with ice and/ or a mixer to produce a long, refreshing drink. As we also discovered, it is worth giving this malt a little time to open up in the glass if you would prefer to drink it neat.

McDowell's Single Malt is available in India and the pricing information we found equated to around £12 per bottle (Rs.1000). Production statistics suggest around 30,000 cases are sold annually.

For more information visit:

Our thanks go to Sunhil Malhotra for kindly providing us with this sample.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

New release - Drombeg Premium Irish Spirit

Being St. Patrick’s Day, we thought we’d celebrate with some Irish whiskey, but then we discovered something a little different and very new – Drombeg Premium Irish Spirit. After a brief meeting with one of the founders, Gerard McCarthy, this spirit caught our imagination. It was the story behind the creation of this spirit, its unique production method and the three men who put inspiration and hard work together to invent and develop it.

The ethos behind the creation of Drombeg was to create a new product for consumers. Most brown/dark spirits on the market, such as brandy, whisky or rum, are released at a strength of 40% ABV or above. Most whisky based liqueurs are released between 18-25% ABV and are highly sweetened or have other elements added, such as honey, fruit or herbs. Therefore, John, Denis and Gerard saw a niche in the market for a pure and lower strength brown/dark spirit that had no sweeteners or other ingredients added.

Drombeg is a spirit that is produced in a small batch process using a second-hand still, local ingredients and still local spring water to bring to bottling strength of a lighter 22% ABV. It is produced using a proprietary method whereby oak shavings are added to the new spirit and aged in stainless steel for around a month. The oak shavings allow the influence of the oak on the spirit to occur far more rapidly than when laid down in an oak cask.

Drombeg was invented by three school friends, John O’Connell and cousins, Denis McCarthy and Gerard McCarthy, with the assistance of the former master blender at Irish Distillers, Dr Barry Walsh. The three friends are small independent distillers based in the pretty fishing village of Union Hall, West Cork, Ireland. They decided to name their product Drombeg, after Ireland’s oldest stone circle which is located near Union Hall and dates back to 150BC. Drombeg was launched April 2011, after a three-year long process of development, extensive research, planning and preparation. Drombeg is the first creation from Glanmara Ltd. They say that new spirits will be released in the near future and that some spirit is being laid down in oak casks for future release as whiskey.

Before starting in the spirits business John worked with technical companies such as Unilever, while Denis and Gerard were fulltime fishermen. They still fish a bit, but with fishing restricted to 100 days a year and the ever increasing expense of diesel, the boys, like many other fisherman, find making a living on the sea very hard. They all decided that diversifying into the whiskey business while staying in their hometown was their next big challenge.

Our tasting notes 
The spirit is a rich amber colour and the nose is sweet and rich but thanks to the lower ABV quite soft and approachable. With vanilla, warm baking spices (like cinnamon and nutmeg), hard butterscotch sweets and grainy cereal aromas the nose is not overly complex but it is pleasant and promising for such a young spirit.

The palate is sweet and, unlike many whisky liqueurs that have sugary thickness, it is quite light and vibrant, verging on the side of thin and delicate in the mouth. The initial flavour is of heavy butterscotch, honey and loads of vanilla. Some of the spirit graininess then refreshes the palate while the wood spices (especially cinnamon and clove) add a level of interest. There is still some of the youthful rawness to remind you that you are drinking a young spirit but this actually compliments the experience and balances the level of sweetness helping to make the finish bitter-sweet. The finish is quite short and uncomplicated.

For us, this is pleasant enough neat but not the way we would choose to drink it. It works well over ice which makes the graininess stand out and pushes back the sweetness. It would also make an ideal mixer or component to a cocktail. It is the type of spirit that would make an enjoyable long drink on a warm summer’s day. As intended, the lower strength makes Drombeg approachable and therefore could be a good introduction for a whisky beginner.

At present Drombeg is only available in Ireland for around €15, but expect to start seeing it in more locations as distribution is rolled out over the next years. For more information on Drombeg, have a look at their website,

Friday, March 16, 2012

Inbox - March 16, 2012

Inbox is our weekly round up of whisky news and PR material that has found its way in to our email inbox. It was created as we cannot write full articles or do justice to every piece that we receive. It features items from around the world of whisky and is published by us each Friday.

Within Inbox we write a few lines detailing each press release/piece of news/PR event that we have received and provide links, where possible, for you to find out further information.


Yesterday, we announced a new competition in conjunction with The Glenlivet Guardians.  The prize is a pair of Saturday tickets to Whisky Live, London which is taking place at the Honorary Artillery Company next week end.  The closing date for entries is 20:00 GMT on Monday 19 March.  For details of the competition and how to enter, plus the terms & conditions - click here. Don't miss out!


Bushmills - First 'Live' bands announced
Last week, we reported on the launch of the Bushmill's Live music festival which is to be held at the Northern Irish distillery this coming June (click here to read full details). Well now the first selection of bands and acts have now been announced. 

These include the multi million album selling Snow Patrol, Oscar nominated musician Foy Vance and award winning singer and songwriter Iain Archer.  Just to remind you, there will be no tickets on sale for this event - instead fans are invited to enter a competition draw on the Bushmills Facebook page. The competition draw begins on St. Patrick's Day (tomorrow - Sat 17 June).

Drammie Awards 2012 launched
The on-line whisky community website For Whisky Lovers have announced that the nomination process is now open for this year's Drammie Awards.  The awards are designed so that all whisky consumers can vote for their favourite whiskies, products and organisations, rather than just industry experts.

The 2012 Drammie Awards have 15 categories that you can nominate your favourites for.  The closing date for your nominations is Friday 30 March, and following this date For Whisky Lovers will publish the top five nominations in each category and ask for votes.  The winners of each category will be announced on Monday 16 April. For further information and to enter your personal nominations - click here.

Knob Creek - New rye version
The premium American whiskey brand of Knob Creek have announced the release of a small batch rye whiskey.  The Knob Creek Rye is made with a blend of high quality rye cereals and has been released due to popular demand.  Rye whiskies were widely consumed in the early 1900s, but the Prohibition period killed it off.  Only now are they again getting some significant attention from consumers. 

The Knob Creek Rye is bottled at 100° proof (50% ABV) and is being released now in selected states in the USA.  Further states and other markets will follow in the Summer.  The recommended price for a 750ml bottle is $35.99.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Competition time - Win Whisky Live London tickets with us and The Glenlivet Guardians

We are delighted to announce that we have teamed up with The Glenlivet, the iconic Scottish single malt brand, to offer one of our readers a pair of tickets to this year's Whisky Live event in London.  The Glenlivet are exhibiting at the show and holding regular tasting sessions during the two days. Sadly, we are unable to attend this year's event but this competition means that there will still be a Whisky For Everyone presence at the show!

Whisky Live, London 2012 is again being held in the impressive surroundings of the Honorable Artillery Company on City Road, London EC1Y 2BQ.  The event spans two days and this year's dates are Friday 23 and Saturday 24 March.  The pair of tickets on offer are for the Saturday and includes your own VIP tasting with Ian Logan, The Glenlivet's International Global Ambassador.  This will take place in The Glenlivet Library, a tasting space that is being specially constructed at the show.

The rules are simple. Firstly, you have to be a signed up member of The Glenlivet Guardians - this is The Glenlivet's exclusive whisky club that offers members an array of special offers and events, exclusive entry to their own members Library at the distillery, plus access to a specially created section on the The Glenlivet website.

If you are already signed up then you are good to enter.  If not, then panic not because you can easily sign up at and once you have successfully joined then you are free to enter our competition. Secondly, you have to get the question below correct!

Please find our Glenlivet related question below and email your answer to with the subject line of 'Glenlivet Guardians Competition'. If you need any clues, then check out our distillery profile on The Glenlivet on the Whisky For Everyone website.

Question - Which year was The Glenlivet distillery founded and who was the man that founded it?

Good luck and we look forward to receiving your entries -
Karen, Matt, Chris & Matt T.

Terms & conditions
➢ You must be aged 18 years or above to take part.
➢ You must be a signed up member of The Glenlivet Guardians to enter.
➢ Only one entry per email address will be accepted in to the prize draw.
➢ The closing date for the survey is 20:00 GMT on Monday 19 March 2012. Any entries after this time cannot be considered.
➢ The winners will be drawn and notified shortly after the closing time. At this point, the winner will be required to give a postal address for delivery of tickets. If the winner is not a member of The Glenlivet Guardians, then an alternative winner will be drawn.
➢ The decision is final, once the result is drawn.
➢ The winner will receive a pair of tickets to the Whisky Live show in London for Saturday 24 March 2012. This will include entry to the show, welcome bag and all it contains, and a VIP tasting in The Glenlivet Guardians library with Ian Logan.
➢ Transport to and from the venue in London is at the winner's cost.
➢ No cash alternative will be offered as a prize.
➢ Personal information supplied is for the sole purpose of the prize draw.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New release - AnCnoc 1998 Vintage

The increasingly popular single malt brand of AnCnoc (pronounced a-knock), have announced a new release in their growing line of Vintage expressions. This one was distilled in 1998 and has been matured in a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. There are only 5,100 bottles and the whisky is being released at 46% ABV and non chill-filtered. It is just appearing now in specialist whisky retailers in selected markets - France, Germany, Japan, Russia and the UK. The recommended retail price is £50 a bottle.

The AnCnoc single malts are produced at the Knockdhu distillery. Knockdhu (pronounced nock-doo) lies deep in the rugged countryside of the eastern Highlands, with the closest town being Huntly. The distillery is one of the most traditional in the Scottish whisky industry with no computers to aid production. Everything is controlled by the skills of the distillery workers and Knockdhu produces approximately one million litres of spirit per year.

Knockdhu translates as 'black hill' from Gaelic and the name of the single malts were changed to AnCnoc (simply 'the hill' in Gaelic) in the 1990s, so as to avoid consumer confusion with the similarly named Speyside distillery of Knockando. It was founded in 1893 by a company called Distillers Company Limited (DCL), with production starting in 1894, and it is currently owned by Inver House Distillers. For more information on the brand, go to

Our tasting notes
The colour is golden yellow and the nose is fresh, vibrant and sweet. There are immediate aromas of crisp green pears and apples, which are quickly joined by strong notes of crumbly brown sugar. With time this obvious sweetness becomes more honey-like and other aromas seem to develop - think of vanilla, malty cereals, cinnamon, some dried fruit (especially sultanas) and a hint of orange zest.

On the palate, this feels initially very soft and velvety, before becoming slightly tangy towards the end - this feeling is driven by the orange zesty note from the nose). There is a combination of elements such as bittersweet, malty cereals, drying wood spices (imagine cinnamon and nutmeg) and sweet vanilla, honey and brown sugar, which all combine and marry together well. There are a number of further characteristics that add some depth and interest - dried fruits (especially some sultanas and raisins, plus dried apple), toasted almonds, toffee, a herbal note which is reminiscent of dried grass and just the faintest, most distant hint of some tobacco-like smoke.

The finish is reasonably long and holds the interest. Firstly, it appears sweet and full of honey, then the tangy, zesty orange note is to the fore, then this becomes increasingly nutty (think of the toasted almonds from the palate again), before it completes its journey with some lovely drying wood spices.

What's the verdict?
This new version of AnCnoc is a lovely single malt and a very good, solid effort from this growing brand. Previous versions have tended to be on the lighter, aperitif side but there is clearly a little more ex-sherry cask influence in this 1998 Vintage which has beefed it up slightly and added some pleasant sweetness. The zesty, tangy notes work particularly well and add complexity. This would be a good choice for a whisky beginner/new single malt drinker, which is one of the audiences that AnCnoc are marketing themselves at.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

New release - Glenfiddich 'Age of Discovery'

The Age of Discovery is a new release from the famous Speyside distillery of Glenfiddich.  The bottling was originally released at this time last year, but exclusively to the travel retail/Duty Free market - now it gets a full general release.  The Age of Discovery is bottled at 19 years of age (Glenfiddich's first ever whisky at this age) and has been matured predominantly in ex-bourbon American oak casks.  However, it has also been matured in ex-Madeira wine casks, which is also a Glenfiddich first.

Glenfiddich is the most well known whisky distillery and single malt brand in the world. It sells the most Scotch single malt of anyone, and by a mile. The distillery is located on the outskirts of the town of Dufftown in the Speyside region of Scotland. The name is taken from the Glen Fiddich, the valley in which it lies and translates as 'valley of the deer' from Gaelic. The distillery is massive and has a capacity of 10 million litres per year, making it Scotland's largest distillery.  Glenfiddich remains one of Scotland's few remaining family owned distilleries and was constructed by William Grant in 1886.  It remains owned by William Grant & Sons to this day.

The Age of Discovery name draws inspiration from the Madeira casks in which the whisky has been part-matured.  The name links to the 15th century Portuguese explorers, who led the original 'age of discovery' by pioneering trading routes with India, Thailand, Malaysia and China. These epic journeys are depicted on the elaborate packaging, which also boasts a smart black bottle.  The Age of Discovery is bottled at 40% ABV and is available now from various specialist liquor retailers at a recommended price of £90.

Our tasting notes
The colour is golden yellow and the nose is highly scented with a number of delicious, fragrant  aromas.  This is full of sweet caramel sugars, wood spices (think of cinnamon and nutmeg) and tangy citrus notes, which are reminiscent to dried orange peel (very similar to marmalade).  Underneath are aromas of vanilla, honey, a hint of floral honeysuckle and a pleasant whiff of musty earth.

On the palate, this whisky is delicious but has two contrasting set of characteristics which end up combining very well.  At times it feels rich and sweet, and yet at other times it feels delicate and fragile with a lovely surprising subtly.  Let's begin with the richer, sweeter elements - these include sweet fudge, butterscotch, brown sugar, orange zest, honey and vanilla.  The more subtle, delicate notes combine superbly and include some gentle, soft dried fruits (imagine sultanas, fig, pear and apple), uplifting wood spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, plus a slight vegetal/herbal edge - we couldn't quite put our finger on it, but someone around us at the tasting said sage.

The finish is slightly on the short side, given the richer notes present on the palate, and this is slightly disappointing.  However, the quality of the whisky is evident as the wood spices come more to the fore and the marriage with the sweeter notes is again very good.

What's the verdict?
Glenfiddich have done well with the Age of Discovery - it is a lovely single malt whisky and one which is worth trying.  Rarely have we sampled a whisky that has such a fragrant and tempting nose, that then follows that promise up on the palate and also somehow combines the rich, sweet elements with the more delicate, subtle ones in such a positive way.  This makes the Age of Discovery one of the more impressive cask finished whiskies that we have tried to date. Delicious.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Inbox - March 9, 2012

Inbox is our weekly round up of whisky news and PR material that has found its way in to our email inbox. It was created as we cannot write full articles or do justice to every piece that we receive. It features items from around the world of whisky and is published by us each Friday.

Within Inbox we write a few lines detailing each press release/piece of news/PR event that we have received and provide links, where possible, for you to find out further information.

Bushmills - Live music festival announced
The famous distillery from the town of Bushmills in Northern Ireland has announced a new music festival, which will be the first to ever be held in an Irish distillery.  The two day Bushmills Live festival will take place at the Old Bushmills distillery on Wednesday 20 and Thursday 21 June.  The line up of bands is yet to be announced.  The festival will be a 'money cannot buy' experience, as tickets will not be going on general sale.  Instead, fans will get the chance to win tickets via a competition on the Bushmills Facebook page.  Naturally, there will be plenty of Bushmills whiskey to accompany the music!

Compass Box & Albannach bar event
Unless you are a hermit or have been living in a cave, you cannot have helped but notice that yesterday (8 March) was International Women's Day. Our good friends at the Compass Box whisky company joined forces with the Albannach whisky bar for a special charity event at Albannach's Trafalgar Square venue.

The Whisky & Women Unite whisky and cocktail event was held on the evening of 8 March.  The bar staff of the Albannach had created a special cocktail for the evening using Compass Box whiskies, which were priced at £6.  In addition, £2 from each cocktail sold was donated to The Girl Effect - a charity for teenage girls in poverty. Compass Box were hosted bespoke whisky tastings of their range, while the Albannach team held a silent auction for the same charity.  Compass Box also marked the day by hosting similar events in New York, San Francisco and Beijing.

Glengoyne - Competition
The distillery and whisky brand from the southern Highlands have announce a competition for all the budding crime writers amongst us. The Glengoyne Short Story Writing Competition is open to all amateur writers aged 18 years or over.

It involves writing a short story of less than 3000 words.  The winning entry will be featured at this years Bloody Scotland festival - an international crime writing festival held in Stirling in September.  The theme is 'worth the wait', referring to the amount of time spent waiting for the Glengoyne whisky to mature.  The winners will receive a crystal decanter filled with rare 35 year old Glengoyne single malt, which is worth £2000.  The closing date for entries is 29 June 2012 and to submit you entry, please visit Further information can also be found on Glengoyne's website.

The Whisky Round Table
The latest edition of The Whisky Round Table is now out. The WRT is a group of whisky bloggers from around the world, of which we are part. Each month one of the 12 bloggers plays host and asks a whisky related question to which the others reply with their views.

This month's meeting is hosted by Chris and Lucas, who write the excellent Edinburgh Whisky Blog.  They asked for everyone's thoughts on the ever increasing number of new make spirit/white dog style releases and their impact. This month is also significant as it is the first to feature a number of the new members of the Round Table.  Some familiar names have left the group but the calibre of the new recruits is high.  To read the full question on Edinburgh Whisky Blog, and the replies of our fellow Round Tablers - click here.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

New release - Jim Beam Devil's Cut

The Devil's Cut is a new addition to the core range of the powerhouse American bourbon distillery and brand of Jim Beam.  It was first released in the USA last year and has been a huge success.  It is expected in to the UK and European markets in mid-2012.  The Devil's Cut is bottled at a strength of 90° proof (45% ABV) and six years of age.  It is currently retailing for between $25-30 in the USA.

The Beam family have a long whiskey heritage, with their first distillery dating back to 1795. This was founded in Washington County, Kentucky by a German immigrant called Jacob Boehm (his surname later became Americanised to Beam). The current distillery was founded in 1933 at the end of Prohibition in the USA and is located in the town of Clermont in the famous whiskey producing state of Kentucky.  It is currently run by the seventh generation of his family - the Master Distiller is Fred Noe, who is the great grandson of Colonel James B. Beam (or Jim Beam as he is famously known).

We were delighted to meet Fred Noe at an event in London earlier this week and he had managed to sneak a bottle of Devil's Cut in to the UK for it.  When talking to Fred, he was immensely proud of Devil's Cut as it is the first new product for the core range that he has personally developed since he became Master Distiller five years ago. The story behind the whiskey and the name as Fred tells it is as follows ...

When whiskey is maturing in a cask it is pulled in and out of the wood as time progresses.  When the cask is emptied for bottling, some of this whiskey remains in the wood and is potentially lost.  By using a technique called 'sweating', some of this whiskey can be removed from the wood - this involves putting about two gallons (7.5 litres) of water in to the empty cask and shaking the cask for around 30 minutes.  This pulls some of the whiskey out of the wood and this 'whiskey water' is then drained off and used to dilute the final product, instead of regular spring water.  The 'devil's cut' is the name given by Fred to the whiskey trapped inside the empty cask, as it is the opposite to the 'angel's share' which is evaporated alcohol that has escaped from the cask during maturation.

Our tasting notes
The colour of Devil's Cut is a rich golden yellow and the nose is packed with expressive aromas.  There is plenty of immediate vanilla, coconut and brown sugar.  There is also a scent of distinct malty cereals and some toasted oak, which are backed up by more subtle wood spices (think of nutmeg especially) and a hint of burnt orange.  It is very, very promising indeed.

On the palate, this is rich, velvety and pleasantly oily with plenty of initial sweetness.  The main notes here are vanilla, honey, butterscotch and caramel and this makes it feel very soft.  However, it is not long before other elements kick in and balance that intense opening sweetness.  Included here are some robust cereals (these are not as sweet and malty as on the nose, but more bittersweet), burnt orange, toasted almonds and plenty of lovely, tannic wood spice - imagine cinnamon, nutmeg and oak. The oaky note seems to increase as you let the whiskey sit in your mouth for longer. The balance and harmony of all of the combined elements is sublime and very good.  The strength suggests adding a few drops of water and with this, it becomes creamier and even softer with the vanilla coming to the fore and the woody spices being knocked back slightly.

The finish is very long with the woody spices and robust cereals lingering for what seems like forever.  Again, it begins sweetly but the spice/cereals take over quickly and leave your mouth watering and wanting more.  There is a delicious hint of the burnt orange which rounds everything off perfectly.

What's the verdict?
The Jim Beam Devil's Cut is an absolutely superb whiskey and one of the best in the bourbon category that we have ever tasted.  It excellently combines good sweetness with delicious, gripping woodiness and spiciness.  The Devil's Cut has won rave reviews in America and is taking that market by storm.  It should do the same when it hits its new markets later this year and it deserves to.

Hats off to Fred Noe, as he has produced a stunner of a whiskey.  If you are in the USA - lucky you, go out and buy a bottle now.  If you're not (like us) - make a mental note and keep your eyes open for when it get released. You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New releases - Glenfiddich 21 years old 'Gran Reserva'

The world famous Glenfiddich distillery have re-launched the 21 years old expression in to their core single malt range.  The liquid remains the same as in the previous release - this has been matured in a complex combination of first and second fill ex-bourbon casks, plus a small amount of ex-sherry cask matured whisky.  These are 'married' together before being transferred for a short maturation in ex-Caribbean rum casks. It is bottled at 40% ABV and should cost around £99.

The re-vamp includes both a new name, bottle shape and box.  This 21 years old is now named Gran Reserva and is released in the bottle used for their premium and limited edition whiskies.  This bottle is a broader, thicker version of the classic three-sided bottle used for the younger expressions in the core range (eg, the 12, 15 and 18 year age statements).  The packaging has been taken to a different level, with the old tube replaced by a sturdy presentation box containing an information booklet.

As mentioned, Glenfiddich is the most famous whisky distillery and single malt brand in the world. It sells the most Scotch single malt of anyone, and by a mile. The distillery is located on the outskirts of the town of Dufftown in the Speyside region of Scotland. The name is taken from the Glen Fiddich, the valley in which it lies and translates as 'valley of the deer' from Gaelic.

The distillery is massive and has a capacity of 10 million litres per year, making it Scotland's largest distillery. Glenfiddich is almost unique in the Scotttish whisky industry as it is still a family owned business. The distillery is owned by the same family that established it - William Grant began construction of Glenfiddich distillery in 1886 and William Grant & Sons was formed in 1903.

Our tasting notes
The colour is an orange amber and the nose is rich and sweet. There are heavy sugary aromas to begin with and these are reminiscent of toffee and caramel.  Then some sweet vanilla aromas come through, as do those of dried fruits (especially sultanas and figs), a hint of tangy candied orange peel and some lovely tropical fruit notes - there is a definite ripe banana note and a whiff of mango.

On the palate, this whisky feels creamy, rich and luxurious with a lovely sweetness that coats the mouth.  Again this sweetness is driven by the notes of toffee and caramel, plus some crumbly brown sugar.  This is complimented by some exaggerated vanilla, which adds to the creaminess.  The combination is reminiscent of a good crème brûlée.  As with the nose, there are other elements which add depth and complexity to the flavour profile - tangy bittersweet orange zest (this gives the whisky as vibrant, fresh lift and stops it being too sweet and cloying), dried sultanas and figs, plus a subtle pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg.  The addition of water makes it even softer and creamier with the sugary notes seemingly even sweeter.

The finish is of decent length and has lovely notes of burnt sugar and toffee, which combine well with the bittersweet orange and sweet vanilla notes.  The dried fruitiness is also there and as the flavours of the whisky fade, a distinct drying wood spice rounds things off.

What's the verdict?
This new version of the Glenfiddich 21 years old oozes class and is a delicious single malt.  There is no getting away from the fact that it is sweet but complex combination of casks works well and creates a whisky that has plenty of depth and interest beyond that.  The extra sweetness beefs up the classic subtle, soft characteristics of the younger Glenfiddichs and the final result is excellent.  Our only gripe is that the price is maybe a few pounds too high ... but only a few.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Let us introduce ....

For a while now, we have been having a dilemma at Whisky For Everyone.  We are in a position that many people would love to be in - we are sent samples of whisky in the post, invited to all manner of events around London and get the occasional visit to Scotch's heartland and the distilleries of Scotland. We have grown to be in this enviable position through four years of hard work. We still do not get paid for anything that we do with the blog and website - the samples and invites are our payment and perks.

In reality, we could be out and about almost every night of the week and let the world of whisky totally consume us.  However, in another version of reality we both have full-time day jobs and therefore are not in a position for our day-to-day lives to be ruled by the spirit that we love.  It has come to the time where we cannot devote as much time as we would like to Whisky For Everyone.

So this has led to frustration and where our dilemma comes in ... what can we do to carry on, evolve and bring the greater number of tasting notes, event reviews and snippets of news that we want to?  We have two options - struggle on and do what we do, or get some help!  We have chosen the second option ...

Therefore, it is with great pleasure that we would like to introduce you to two new contributors that have agreed to write with us on Whisky For Everyone - Chris Maclean and Matt Tilbury.  Both have a wealth of whisky experience that they wish to convey and have taught us both a great deal about whisky in the time we have known them. Most importantly though, we consider both of them to be our good friends.  They will be writing features and tasting notes, plus attending events as and when they can.

A few people around the London scene may know Chris or Matt, but for those that don't we have put together a few lines of introduction about them. We hope that you welcome them too and enjoy their future work.

- Karen and Matt

Chris Maclean
Chris is the store manager of the London branch of The Whisky Shop, the UK's largest specialist whisky retail chain.  He came to the world of whisky from the wine trade, having worked in numerous retail outlets and for producers in Australia, France and the USA.

Chris' perspective draws numerous parallels between the the world of wine and whisky, in particular the use of different casking and the factors that influence flavour.  He is inspired by the diversity in the range of whisky styles, enjoys educating others about the quality of products available and believes that whisky as a category is often misunderstood or poorly communicated.  Chris has written as a guest on Whisky For Everyone occasionally in the past and wishes to bring his increasing interest in cigar and whisky matching to a wider audience.  Therefore, expect to see more cigar reviews and cigar/whisky matching combination articles in the future.

Matt Tilbury
Matt is the store manager of the London branch of Royal Mile Whiskies and it is he, along with former manager Michael, that showed our Matt (boy, this is going to get confusing with all these Matts ...) the ropes when he was beginning in the whisky world.

Matt believes that whisky can be consumed and enjoyed by anyone and that everyone can learn and appreciate good whiskies.  He also believes that talking with whisky consumers on a daily basis in the shop gives him an insight in to the modern whisky drinker and current trends.  This passion extends to hosting tastings and a little bit of brand consultation work.  He has a growing interest and taste for bourbons, American whiskies and the micro-distillery movement that is booming in the USA, so don't be surprised to read about more of these products on Whisky For Everyone as we go forwards.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Inbox - March 2, 2012

Inbox is our weekly round up of whisky news and PR material that has found its way in to our email inbox. It was created as we cannot write full articles or do justice to every piece that we receive. It features items from around the world of whisky and is published by us each Friday.

Within Inbox we write a few lines detailing each press release/piece of news/PR event that we have received and provide links, where possible, for you to find out further information.

AnCnoc - New Vintage released
Inver House Distillers, the owners of AnCnoc, have announced the release of the latest in their increasing line of Vintage expressions.  This one was distilled in 1998 and has been matured in a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks.  There are to be just 5,100 bottles and the whisky is being released at 46% ABV.  It will appear in March in selected markets - France, Germany, Japan, Russia and the UK. As yet, no pricing information is available.

Ballantine's - Four new whiskies
The popular range of blended Scotch whiskies have announced four new expressions to be sold through the travel retail sector. These whiskies form the new Signature Distillery Editions. The first is 17 years old and based around the Glenburgie distillery, which is regarded as 'the heart of the Ballantine's blend'. The other three will see a staggered release over the next three years. They will be of the same age and based around the Scapa, Miltonduff and Glentauchers distilleries.

The Glenburgie edition will be placed in European and Asian travel retail and has been specially created by Ballantine's Master Blender Sandy Hyslop. Sandy says of the release,  “Glenburgie has played a central role for many generations of Ballantine’s Master Blenders. This stunning limited edition offers the whisky drinker a unique insight to the role that Glenburgie malt plays in the original and much-celebrated Ballantine’s 17yo blend".

Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society - Now in business
The JSMWS (let's call it that for short!) is a new membership club that has been formed by our good friends Josh Hatton and Jason Johnstone-Yellin.  It has grown from Josh's popular JSMWS blog and is now dedicated to sourcing and bottling some of the finest single malt Scotch whiskies that they can, while remaining faithful to the needs of the religion.

The Society has three tiers of membership priced at $180, $480 and $960 - these prices cover a year of membership, with a proposed $36 per year renewal fee after that.  For details of what you get within each price bracket and for further information about the Society, please visit having spoken to Jason recently, he pointed out that you do not have to be Jewish to sign up because it's all about the whisky - "whisky first, Jewish second ..." as he put it.

The W Club goes live

This week, a new venture has been launched by The Whisky Shop - the UK's largest specialist whisky retail chain. The W Club is a private membership club which offers plenty for the whisky consumer and fan. There is a new website and blog, which are being edited by whisky journalist Dominic Roskrow, in addition to a permanent 10% discount on all products that The Whisky Shop stock (this discount applies in any of the chain's 18 UK stores and through their website).

Other membership benefits include access to limited edition and exclusive bottlings, entry in to 'money can't buy' competitions, special tasting events and distillery tours.  Membership costs just £12.50 a year or £25 a year for a special membership welcome pack. To complete your membership, please go to  If you don't wish to join, then you can still see various parts of the site, which is packed with new information.

The Whisky Lounge - Fest! returns to London
The popular whisky show has announced its return to London after a year off. The Lounge's co-founders, husband and wife team Eddie and Amanda Ludlow, are hosting the London 2012 show at The Royal Horticultural Halls on Saturday 21 April.  Previous shows around the UK have been given much praise and press as Eddie and Amanda try to present whisky to beginners and connoisseurs alike, but in a relaxed, informal way - their tag line of 'Bringing whisky to the people' says it all really.

The London show includes over 30 stands, tutored tasting sessions, food and whisky matching demonstrations and a 'live blogging area'.  There are two sessions - 11am to 3pm and then 4pm to 8pm - and tickets are £40 each per session.  To book your tickets for the Fest! - please visit and follow the links to the London event. We hope to see you there ...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

New release - Highland Park 21 years old

This 21 years old is the eagerly awaited new release from the Highland Park distillery on the Orkney islands.  Why so eagerly awaited?  Well, it has not been available for approximately three years.  The previous version was released in 2007 and won the accolade of Best Single Malt of the Year at the prestigious World Whisky Awards in 2009.  As a result, it sold out in a flash and the guys at Highland Park have been waiting for suitable stock to reach the required quality and age ever since.

Highland Park is the most northern whisky distillery in Scotland. It is found close to the Orkneys' capital Kirkwall and is one of only two distilleries on the main island (Scapa is the other). Highland Park has one of the best selling and most highly awarded single malt whisky ranges in the world. It is currently owned by the Edrington Group and has an annual production capacity of 2.5 million litres.

Highland Park is one of the oldest whisky distilleries in Scotland and was established in 1798 by Magnus Eunson - he was known as the 'whisky priest' because he was a priest at Kirkwall's cathedral by day and (allegedly) an illegal whisky distiller by night, hiding his wares in the cathedral's crypt to avoid the prying eyes of the Customs & Excise men.

So, now the 21 years old expression makes a welcome return.  This 2012 version joins the award winning core range of Highland Park single malts.  It has been created from a selection of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks and has been bottled at an alcoholic strength of 47.5% ABV.  This new release is literally just appearing in specialist whisky retailers in the UK now and has a recommended retail price of £99.99. Other markets will follow over the coming months.

Our tasting notes
The colour is a bright golden yellow with a hint of amber. The nose is instantly engaging and there are plenty of luscious aromas to get your interest. This is packed with creamy vanilla, sweet honey, malty cereals and a whiff of warming peaty smoke, which has an edge of minerality to it. Beneath these obvious aromas are more subtle ones - hazelnuts, brown sugar, dried grasses, burnt orange and delicate wood spice, especially nutmeg.

On the palate, this whisky is sublime. It feels initially creamy and has a delicious intensity. There is a heady mix of sweet notes - think of vanilla, honey, toffee, crumbly brown sugar - and savoury notes - imagine wood spices such as nutmeg, dried ginger, hay and an earthy, drying peat smoke. Underneath are softer notes of milk chocolate, candied orange peel and bittersweet cereals, plus a pleasant hint of tropical fruit (something like mango or papaya, but hard to pinpoint). The slight prickle and heat from the ABV compliments all of these elements well and creates an almost perfect balance, depth and complexity. This is stunning, intense and delicious.

The finish is again initially sweet with lovely elements of creamy vanilla, malty barley and honey lingering.  However, it is the soft savoury smoke and the drying wood spices that linger longest. The whisky leaves your mouth watering and with the feeling of wanting to pour yourself another glass. The combination of elements is again superb.

What's the verdict? 
This 21 years old is a supreme single malt whisky. It has an incredible balance, texture and intensity - most people that were sampling it with us at a recent tasting event agreed that this was a product of extremely high quality.  We say - bite the bullet and spend £100, as you won't be disappointed. It is worth every penny and every drop.

Highland Park have thrown down the gauntlet to all the other distilleries with the exceptional quality of their first two releases of 2012. Both this 21 years old and the recently released limited edition Thor are excellent and are very early contenders for top spot in our Whiskies of the Year 2012. Don't be surprised to see either whisky pick up a pile of major awards - they are both going to be hard to beat.