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David WishartWe try and keep an interesting mix of non-chill filtered whiskies and we are deeply indebted to David Wishart whose book Whisky Classified comes highly recommended and has allowed us to use his notes to add more detail to each whisky description. The book is available from behind the bar and you're welcome to have a look.  It details whisky from the perspective of flavour and not area, it also helps you choose a single malt whisky that suits your palate, not someone else's! Have a read and you'll understand the letters (in brackets) after each whisky from Tullibardine (A) to Ardbeg (J)!

The conventional way to classify Scotch malt whiskies is by region - Highland, Lowland, Speyside, Islay and Campbeltown. But knowing where they are made doesn't explain how they taste. Many distilleries today can produce a variety of flavours, peatiness (or lack of it) and this book guides the reader through the process.

How do you drink yours?  Everyone's preference differs, personally I choose to add a drop of water to release the esters that would otherwise never surface and so enjoy a fuller and flavoursome experience.  I wouldn't add ice as that clouds the taste buds and drinking a neat 46%abv+ whisky is not for me.  I'll not take issue with how you like yours though!  Steve



Glengoyne 18yo (G) PDF Print E-mail
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Glengoyne was originally named Burnfoot distillery and probably operated illegally in the early part of the nineteenth century. Its first licence to distil whisky was granted in 1833, and it was renamed "Glen Guin", or "the valley of the wild geese", when Lang Brothers bought it in 1876. While there has been some modernization over the years, it retains a delightful nineteenth-century charm. It nestles prettily in a wooded valley below Dumgoyne hill, from which the Glengoyne Burn courses through sandstone and over a spectacular 15 metre (49 feet) waterfall, eventually flowing into Loch Lomond.

Glengoyne Cask Strength Batch 2Glengoyne distillery draws its soft process water from Loch Carron and its cooling water from the Glengoyne Burn. It uses only Scottish barley, Golden Promise and Chariot varieties, air dried after germination and hence un-peated. The carton boldly states "Scotland's Unpeated Malt" which is the whisky's signature, and it is designated the "Authentic Taste of Malt Whisky Untainted by Peat Smoke."

The distillery operates a medium-sized copper domed mash tun, 6 Oregon pine washbacks, 1 wash still and 2 smaller spirit stills with boil balls in the necks and level lyne arms. The size and shape of the spirit stills and boil balls contribute greatly through catalysis and reflux to the flavour of the resulting spirit. The whisky is matured in a combination of refill bourbon and sherry casks, in dunnage warehouses at the site.

The whisky is used in blends such as Cutty Sark, Famous Grouse and Lang's Supreme.

Or so the Glengoyne web site says, they go on...

Digestive biscuits, ripe bananas and a hint of pepper. This is the taste of Scotland's slowest distillation, bottled as tradition insists: at cask strength, un-chillfiltered. Like every Glengoyne, the amber hue is created by time and oak, nothing more.

Nose: Fresh strawberries and cream, crumbled digestive biscuits and a hint of oak spice.

Palate: Treacle-like, sweet and thick. Sharp fruits with sugar syrup and more oaty biscuits.

Finish: A long, lasting finish.

A tasting at the distillary video.

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The Arran Malt 12yo Cask (G) PDF Print E-mail
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Isle of Arran Distillers is one of the few remaining independent distilleries in Scotland. Based at Lochranza on the Isle of Arran, one of the most beautiful and famous in Scotland which lies off the West Coast between Ayrshire and Kintyre.

Arran 12 Year Old Cask StrengthArran is a unique island known as 'Scotland in Miniature', for it has all of the scenery of Scotland, with mountains and lowlands, glens, lochs and royal castles (including one at Lochranza). Early in the 19th century there were more than 50 whisky distilleries on Arran, most of them illegal and carefully hidden from the eyes of the taxmen. The malt from Arran was shipped to the mainland and enjoyed by the gentry who regularly "took the Arran waters". It was acclaimed at the time as the best in Scotland, only rivalled by those from the 'Glen of Livet'.

This 12 year old cask strength whisky is non-chill filtered and has no added colouring making it a totallly natural and true whisky.

From Master of Malt:

Nose: A fruits character of peaches and nectarines rise of the source of the whisky with a tinge of classic Arran apricot to follow.

Palate: The palate is spicy with the fresh fruit from the nose becoming denser and tangier.

Finish: The finish is long and spicy with nutmeg and orange zest on the tail-end.

Overall: A really fruity showing from Arran with all the spice you could want.

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Glenfarclas 105 (C) PDF Print E-mail
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altGlenfarclas (The valley of the green grassland) Glenfarclas distillery in Speyside is one of the few to have remained in private ownership since it was first licensed in 1836 by Robert Hay the tenant of the Recherlich Farm, Ballindalloch. It was purchased from Hay in 1865 by John Grant for £511.19s.0d on the 8th of June 1865, the founder of the Grant dynasty of six generations to have distilled whisky here. The distillery stands in beautiful rolling meadows, drawing its soft water from the Green Burn that flows from Ben Rinnes over granite and through heather into the valley.

Glenfarclas105George S. Grant, the fourth member of the Grant dynasty, served as Chairman for a remarkable 52 years and carried out many major improvements and innovations. He laid down substantial stocks from 1952 onwards, was amongst the first distillers to establish a wood policy in the early 1960s, and also substantially modernized the distillery. Thanks to his efforts, Glenfarclas has an uninterrupted series of "Family Casks" from 1952 to the present day, the longest vertical tasting of whisky anywhere in the world which allows for detailed research on the effects of long-term cask maturation.

The distillery operates a stainless steel Lauter mash tun, 12 stainless steel washbacks and 6 stills. The stills are amongst the largest on Speyside, with the big wash still holding nearly 30,000 litres.  Glenfarclas malt whiskies are now aged mainly in oloroso sherry casks, using a mixture of first-fill and refill, although this has not always been the case. This contributes to the malt's pronounced sherry character, particularly in the younger malts where new sherry casks have been used.

Colour: Deep peaty-gold.

Nose: Complex, oaky, apples and pears, and a tempting dark toffee sweetness.

Flavour: Dry and assertive, develops quickly to reveal a rich spiciness, combined with a hint of oak and sherried fruit.

Finish: Amazingly smooth for the strength; wonderfully warming and with a lingering smokiness, yet very rounded.

Comment: A great whisky holding all the flavours of all the Glenfarclas in one glass. Being so warming, this is the perfect Hogmanay dram. Don't be afraid of the strength and order a 210, if you dare!

The smoothness makes the 105 drinkable at cask strength, but they suggest adding a little water to fully explore its great depth.

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Royal Brackla 1998 (F) PDF Print E-mail
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Royal Brackla was founded by a Captain Fraser at the height of illict whisky production in 1812 and this whisky is a special bottling of their normally unavailable unchillfiltered malt which was distilled in 1998 and bottled in 2013.  Royal Brackla is usually used in Dewar's blends and accounts for a good deal of their production.

Connoisseurs Choice Royal BracklaRoyal Brackla was the first of only three distilleries (the others being Lochnagar and Glenury) to earn the 'Royal' epithet. In Brackla's case, it was bestowed as a result of King William IV's particular liking for the whisky and it was called 'The King's Own Whisky'. The distillery was rebuilt in 1898 and again in 1966 when the floor maltings were closed and the single pair of stills became 2. In the course of that reconstruction programme, most of the older buildings were demolished, although the modern plant is attractively situated looking on to the distillery pond.

From Gordon & Macphail:

In the mid-1960s Gordon & MacPhail took the unprecedented step of launching a range of single malts under the brand name 'Connoisseurs Choice'. Until this time, many of the whiskies the range featured would not have been available as single malt. Today, Connoisseurs Choice retains this exclusive nature with a range of rare and sought after single malts from distilleries throughout Scotland

COLOUR: Pale Gold.where

BODY: Light to Medium.

FINISH: Medium in length.

CASK TYPE: Refill Bourbon Barrels

STYLE: Apertif.

AROMA WITHOUT WATER: Sweet vanilla with tropical fruit aromas, pineapple, mango and banana. An underlying hint of toasted malt develops.

TASTE WITHOUT WATER: Black pepper with green apple and pear flavours initially. Citrus elements develop, orange and lime, with a creamy milk chocolate edge.

AROMA WITH WATER: Hints of blueberry, cranberry and vanilla pod initially. A delicate toasted malt and menthol edge develops.

TASTE WITH WATER: Vanilla with strawberry and kiwi flavours. These are complimented by a sweet cocoa butter edge.

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Longmorn 16yo (C) PDF Print E-mail
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Longmorn (in Gaelic 'Lonmarnoch' means the 'place of St Marnoch') The Longmorn Distillery Company was founded in 1893 by John Duff, Charles Shirres and George Thomson. Duff was a former manager of the Glendronach Distillery and the Bon Accord Distillery in Aberdeen, and was the founder of the Glenlossie Distillery, as well as being involved with unsuccessful distilleries in Cape Town and the USA.  John Duff also built the sister distillery BenRiach, both of which were linked to the Great North of Scotland Railway.  Longmorn Station is retained as a feature as is a Victorian water wheel and a steam engine.  

Longmorn

It's malted barley is supplied lightly peated to order, and its water is drawn from peaty springs that rise in the Blackhills.  It operates a stainless steel traditional rake and plough mash tun, 8 stainless steel washbacks and 8 smaller pot stills.  The wash stills were directly heated by coal fires until 1993, from which date all stills have been steam heated.

The whisky is matured in a mixture of ex-bourbon American oak and European oak sherry casks.  Production is quite high at 3.5m litres (777,000 gallons) a year, most of which goes for blending.

The present malts were produced using barley malted on the traditional floor maltings at BenRiach (next door), with peat cut from Manoch Hill, and this explains why the malts have a distinctly smoky note.  It will be interesting to see wether the flavour of the whisky changes significanty in the future, with commercially supplied malt from 2002.

Longmorn Distillery started production in December 1894. Three years later John Duff built the Benriach Distillery next to Longmorn, but both were affected by the collapse of wholesale buyers Pattison, Elder and Co. in 1898. Duff was ruined by the collapse, and Longmorn Distilleries Company Ltd. passed through a variety of ownerships. In 1970, Longmorn joined The Glenlivet and Glen Grant to form The Glenlivet Distillers Ltd. This was bought by Chivas Brothers in 1978, and in 2001 Chivas Brothers was acquired by the French Pernod Ricard Group.

The Longmorn 16-year expression has received warm reviews at international spirit ratings competitions. It received two silver medals from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2008 and 2009. Wine Enthusiast gave it a "90-95" rating in 2009.

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Blair Athol 1997 (C) PDF Print E-mail
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Blair Athol One of Scotland's oldest working distilleries; Blair Athol is located in the picturesque Highland town of Pitlochry. Drawing its water from the Allt Dour Burn (burn of the otter), Blair Athol was established in 1798. At that time the distillery was named "Aldour" - after the water source. 

Connoisseurs Choice Blair AtholThe new venture did not last long, however, probably due to the heavy excise on malt whisky levied by the government, so the distillery closed. In 1826 it was revitalised by Alexander Connacher, before being taken over by MacKenzie company. In 1933 Blair Athol was acquired by Arthur Bell & Sons who are now a subsidiary of Diageo.  Blair Athol is a cruicial part of the Bells blend and takes 98% of its stock but is a wonderful single malt in its own right.

From Gordon & Macphail:

In the mid-1960s Gordon & MacPhail took the unprecedented step of launching a range of single malts under the brand name 'Connoisseurs Choice'. Until this time, many of the whiskies the range featured would not have been available as single malt. Today, Connoisseurs Choice retains this exclusive nature with a range of rare and sought after single malts from distilleries throughout Scotland

COLOUR: Pale Gold.

BODY: Light to Medium.

FINISH: Medium in length.

CASK TYPE: Refill Bourbon Barrels

STYLE: Fruity highland malt

AROMA WITHOUT WATER: Sweet vanilla with tropical fruit aromas, pineapple, mango and banana. An underlying hint of toasted malt develops.

TASTE WITHOUT WATER: Black pepper with green apple and pear flavours initially. Citrus elements develop, orange and lime, with a creamy milk chocolate edge.

AROMA WITH WATER: Hints of blueberry, cranberry and vanilla pod initially. A delicate toasted malt and menthol edge develops.

TASTE WITH WATER: Vanilla with strawberry and kiwi flavours. These are complimented by a sweet cocoa butter edge.

Click READ MORE for tasting notes...

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keyDavid Wishart's book Whisky Classified details whisky from the perspective of flavour and not area, it also helps you choose a single malt whisky that suits your palate, not someone else's! 

The conventional way to classify Scotch malt whiskies is by region - Highland, Lowland, Speyside, Islay and Campbeltown. But knowing where they are made doesn't explain how they taste. Many distilleries today can produce a variety of flavours, peatiness (or lack of it) and this book guides the reader through the process.  The following is a key to the cluster groups used within the book and on our website.  If you lookup your own favourite whisky in th ebook and find what cluster it is in you are bound to find some equally enjoyable whiskies in the same and adjacent clusters that will suit your palate.  Here is a summary of the clusters...

A - Full bodied, sweet, pronounced sherry with fruity, honey and spicy notes.
B - Full bodied, sweet, pronounced sherry with fruity, floral and malty notes, some honey and spice evident.
C - Full bodied, medium sweet, pronounced sherry with fruity, honey, nutty and smoky notes.
D - Quite full bodied and sweet, fruity, floral and nutty notes, fairly spicy, hint of smoke.honey and spicy notes.
E - Medium bodied, medium sweet with fruity, honey and winey notes, and a whiff of smoke and spice.
F - Quite full bodied, sweet and malty with fruity, spicy and smoky notes.
G - Light, sweet and honeyed, with floral, fruity and spicy notes, mostly unpeated, an aperitif style.
H - Very light, sweet and malty, fruity and floral, an aperitif style.
I - Medium bodied, medium sweet, quite smoky, some medicinal notes, spicy, fruity and nutty.
J - Full bodied, dry, pungent with peat smoke and medicinal notes, some spice, malt and fruit in the background and a hint of polished leather or libraries.

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