18 September 2014

Win a copy of the Malt Whisky Yearbook 2015

It has to be said that there’s no shortage of annual releases and events in the whisky calendar, and in addition to all the committee and special releases, shows and fests, one of the undoubted highlights for me is in book form and the autumn launch of the latest edition of the Malt Whisky Yearbook.
This year’s edition marks the 10th anniversary of what has become the essential whisky read for enthusiasts and newbies alike, and as ever has been meticulously put together and edited by Mr Whisky Yearbook himself – Ingvar Ronde.
In addition to a wealth of features including articles from such distinguished whisky writers as Charles MacLean, Dominic Roskrow, Ian Buxton and Gavin D Smith, this year’s edition covers 361 distilleries from around the world and features more than 250 tasting notes.
Ahead of the release of this year’s edition on October 1st, we’re delighted to announce that we’ve teamed up with The Malt Whisky Yearbook, to offer two of our readers the chance of winning a signed copy of the book.
To be in with a chance of winning a copy all you need to do is Click Here and email us your contact details along with the following phrase that dramming pays:
"Make my whisky year a blinding belter with this right rollicking rollercoaster of a whisky read"
*Remember to mark the subject line of your email with: MWYB2015 Comp
If you’re not already doing so follow us on Twitter via @TheWhiskyWire and RT one of our related competition tweets for another chance to win!
If you’re too eager (and I can’t blame you) to get hold of this year’s edition you can pre-order now by Click Here.
For more info on The Malt Whisky Yearbook visit: maltwhiskyyearbook.com
Competition closes at 23:59 on October 3rd 2014.

11 September 2014

Quick Fire Whisky Tasting Notes #41

Kininvie 23 Year Old
(Batch 2)
Nose: Warm vanilla fudge, Häagen Dazs Pralines & Cream, retro white candy cigarettes, slightly over ripened bananas, sherry poached pears, oven baked peaches, Hipp Organic red fruit & apple compote, blackberries, lime zest, a steamed treacle sponge pudding, wood spice and a finesseful, flouncing, floral freshness.
Palate: Peach cobbler drenched in vanilla custard, Waitrose key lime pie, stewed prunes, orange zest, Bonne Maman damson plum conserve, Mcvities ginger nut biscuits, cinnamon sticks, freshly grated nutmeg, ground black pepper, wood spice and the very timely arrival of an After Eight dinner mint.
Finish: A sweet, spiced and all things nice kind of a long linger-ette of a finish.
Summary: A very impressive first UK solo release for a distillery that has been somewhat of an unsung dramming hero, with all its whisky wares up until now used solely as component parts in William Grant & Sons blends. Now a brand in its own right, it's most definitely one to keep an eye on!

10 September 2014

R.I.P James Nelstrop

James Nelstrop 1945 - 2014

Yesterday we reported via our sister website The Whisky Business that The English Whisky Co. had announced the very sad news of the death of it's founder James Nelstrop, who died at the age of 69, following a brief but courageous fight with cancer.

We would like to pass on our condolences, thoughts and prayers to the family of the man who was the trailblazing pioneer of English whisky!

28 August 2014

Quick Fire Whisky Tasting Notes #40

Balvenie Single Barrel 15 Year Old
Sherry Cask
Nose: Sherry soaked sultanas and raisins, stewed prunes, warm glugs of honey, candied mixed peel, toffee apples, cinnamon infused poached pears, Cadbury’s Crunchie bar, sugared almonds, Waitrose treacle tart, McVitie's Jamaica ginger cake, wood spice, struck match, hoisin sauce and a pleasantly protruding pinch-ette of cayenne pepper.
Palate: Sweet oozing oodles of wood spiced infused Oloroso sherry, Cadbury’s Bournville Old Jamaica Chocolate bar, grilled pineapple rings, oven baked peaches, orange zest, stem ginger, spiced honey, toasted walnuts and a pan of warm salted demerara caramel.
Finish: A right rollickingly rich, sheer sherried, sumptuously spiced, long lush lingering finish.
Summary: As a huge fan of the standard 15 Year Old Single Barrel, it has to be said that the Sherry Cask doesn't quite share the same 'tightrope walker' level of balance and is a little rough around the edges, but that aside it still makes for a good honest drop of dramspankage.

18 August 2014

Whisky Insiders Interview - Rob Allanson

William Grant & Sons

Global Ambassador for Grant's Whisky


How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
Well I've now been the Global Ambassador for Grant’s Whisky for four months, early days but a very exciting time to join the team. Before this I worked for eight years with Whisky Magazine covering the industry.

What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
Other than landing a dream job with William Grant and Sons, one of the things I was most proud of was the redesign of Whisky Magazine. This involved a few months of going to and fro, between me and Whisky Magazine’s Art Director Paul Beevis, and I am still incredibly impressed with what we came up with. It was a real marker in the sand for the magazine, "you know we're here and this is our direction and style". We just wanted to shake the physical nature of the magazine up a little, which turned out to be the biggest redesign to date in terms of lay out and paper stock.

Can you remember your first dram, and indeed what it was?
Well I think it was either Highland Park or Bushmills Black Bush, both were favourites of my grandparents and parents so that was what was in the house. I remember being bowled over by the taste sensation, hot, spicy and sweet.

What does whisky mean to you?
For me it is quite a lot of things about marking moments and occasions, where whisky becomes part of the mix rather than taking centre stage to friendships. There is nothing better that pulling out something special and sharing it with a good friend. Those moments should be a reminder to never lose the joy of things. The world and whisky are full of wonder and amazement; there are breath-taking things out there, just remember to pack a hipflask!

Where would you like to see yourself in five years time?
Well I would hope I am still working for Grant’s in this capacity, still out educating people and spreading the blended whisky word. There is nothing like that light bulb moment where someone finds something they like. I have seen this a lot when you tell people to add water to their whisky to reduce any burn they feel and then ‘bing’ they have found their way into whisky, it becomes accessible and understandable.

What was your last dram?
It was a Manhattan made with Grant’s Family Reserve, vermouth and chilli pickled cherries.

Do you have a favourite whisky and food pairing combination?
Ah now, food and whisky, great bedfellows. I have done a few pairings and whisky dinners with my great friend and Dublin pub owner Seaneen Sullivan, but one she put together for a Grant’s Brand Ambassador workshop recently totally blew me away.

This was not your average sit down and dryly go through a range tasting interspersed with food, we served up Grant’s Family Reserve with soda water and bitters; and even revived the boilermaker using Brewdog’s 5AM Saint.

Seaneen worked with the drinks I had in mind and used the food to amplify and highlight flavours in the whisky. To be honest you cannot complain about candy floss with 18 Years Old Grant’s atomised over it.

Because I am lactose intolerant a lot of the chocolate and cheese pairings are out for me, unless they are goat’s cheese. So the pairing menu Seaneen put together was incredible and is now responsible for some of my favourite pairings. It was so well thought through, each element was balanced and a perfect fit with the whisky. Who can say no to bacon jam and Grant’s Family Reserve... rich, unctuous and deliciously smoky.

What’s your favourite time and place to enjoy a dram?
There have been a lot to be honest, but the ones that always stand out are drinking with friends. Whether it is on the back of my dad’s boat watching the sun go down over Windermere, sitting under a sunset with a warming BBQ, smoking cigars and drinking setting the world to rights, sitting up late nights with friends on sofas just having fun, listening to music and enjoying life. All responsibly of course.

I did some recording in the Balvenie maltings with the band I play in. It was a very special few days doing things that I love; whisky and music. The whisky of choice was not what you might be expecting. It was an old Canadian Blend called Crazy Horse.

There also those moments of drinking in warehouses at the distilleries. They can never be replaced, and I heartily recommend them.

What do you think is going to be the next big thing on the whisky horizon?
I have a feeling that the grain category is about to become increasingly hot. The recent Girvan and Haig releases I think are just the start of something. People seem to be understanding it more and more; it’s almost like whisky’s version of rye.

What’s the one dram you couldn’t live without?
Oh now that is a question. It changes dependent on the time of year, place, my moods and who I am with; also indoors or outdoors, cooking or eating. Too many combinations but thankfully there are a lot of expressions out there to help fit the moment. So I think the answer is to keep a well stocked cabinet.

The current house pour is Grant’s Family Reserve, followed by a new travel retail expression we have launched called Voyager. A little bit more peat that the usual Grant’s expressions. Honestly I think the answer is the one that is open on my sideboard. It can be anything from light and airy lowlanders to big sherry bomb Japanese whiskies and all shades in between including well made blends such as Grant’s.

Many thanks to Rob Allanson. Who will be the next Whisky Insider? Click back soon to find out!

14 August 2014

Buffalo Trace Tweet Tasting

Continuing our hugely successful teaming throng of Tweet Tastings, we’re absolutely thrilled and delighted to announce that as part of Bourbon Heritage Month, on September 24th we’ll be sampling a bountiful bevy of belting bourbons, as we spend an evening enjoying the sipping splendour of Buffalo Trace.

Full details to follow, but if you fancy sampling a lush line up of liquid americana lovelies, register your interest by emailing your name, daytime delivery address and Twitter handle via the contact tab, remembering to mark the subject line: #BuffaloTraceUK

The closing date to register is August 28th, and if you are registering to take part please make sure that you will actually be free on the night!!!

This particular tasting is open to UK residents only!

Even if you're not one of the selected Tweet Tasters, it'd be great to have you following all the night’s dramfotainment. So we look forward to seeing you over on Twitter on September 24th at 7pm BST via hash tag #BuffaloTraceUK

Until then Happy Dramlaxing!

For more information on Buffalo Trace visit: buffalotrace.com

4 August 2014

Whisky Insiders Interview - John Drake

The Lakes Distillery

Distillery Manager


How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
I’m actually relatively new to the industry. I’ve only been in my current role since April this year, when construction got underway at The Lakes Distillery site. Prior to that I had been studying towards a Brewing and Distilling Post Graduate Diploma at Heriot Watt University.

I have been involved with Lakes Distillery for some time before that and thanks to my colleague, Master Distiller Chris Anderson, I was lucky enough to spend some time at the Dewar’s distilleries, Aultmore and Aberfeldy.

My involvement in the industry came about unexpectedly, in 2009 we bought a house on Islay, completely unrelated to the islands whisky heritage, apart from the fact that it’s in Lagavulin bay! On exploring the island I was given a dram of Ardbeg 10 Year Old, and it worked some magic on me. So I then visited all the distilleries on the island and was left thinking what a fabulous industry it would be to work in.
Upon returning home from a trip to Isaly, Paul Currie (our founder and MD) was on the front of the local paper, announcing his plans to build a distillery here in the Lake District. I arranged to meet him and the rest as they say is history!
I embarked on the best course available, Heriot Watt Post Graduate and began involvement with Lakes Distillery design meetings. Now we have a fully installed distillery, from dry goods plant and boiler room, right through the mash house, fermentation plant, still house and spirit collection tanks, all the way to cask filling and warehousing. All of which are currently being connected prior to commissioning by our mechanical contractor Musk Engineering. Soon we’ll be distilling whisky, gin and vodka. The plant is looking fantastic, very, very exciting times!
What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
It's happening now! The construction of our distillery in a former Victorian model farm on the banks of the river Derwent and Bassenthwaite lake. We are building a piece of whisky history, and it develops daily in front of us, thanks to some terrific people with tons of experience in the industry and to our contractors who are transforming our old derelict farm into a distillery, visitors centre and bistro.
Can you remember your first dram, and indeed what it was?
It was Bells. I followed the whisky path of many of my generation, I over indulged the first time I tried it, suffered badly as a result and was put off whisky for a very long time. It's amazing how many people did the same.
What does whisky mean to you?
It's obviously very important to me and is the product of an industry that I have somehow managed to secure a career in. I do reflect on how lucky I am on a daily basis. My time spent at Dewar’s made me realise how passionate and conscientious distillery workers are about their jobs and I think it’s due in part to the fact that they are making something for people's pleasure. I think that distillers and their teams take that responsibility very seriously and that reflects directly in the spirit they make. The process and maturation are critical, but people make spirit and some of theirs finds its way into the glass.
Where would you like to see yourself in five years time?
Five years from now will be a very important time for Lakes Distillery. We’ll have a warehouse with 4500+ casks in it, so we will have good idea of how our wood policy has developed our spirit and we will be able to begin to consider releases that may well have been maturing in some unique ways, or develop different finishes. We’ll also have a good indication of what the character of our main malt whisky will be.  I can't really consider being anywhere else, who wouldn't want to work with super people in a distillery tucked under Skiddaw on Bassenthwaite Lake!
What was your last dram?
My last dram was a 15 Year Old Glen Deveron from Macduff. Nutty as can be, very good!
Do you have a favourite whisky and food pairing combination?
Ardbeg 10 Year Old with smoked sea trout and brown bread, always a winning combination.
What’s your favourite time and place to enjoy a dram?
It has to be whenever I'm on Islay. Ardbeg old pier or after a dip in the Big Strand!
What do you think is going to be the next big thing on the whisky horizon?
I believe that developments in maturation technologies will be necessitated by availability of oak. If changes in Bourbon regulations occur allowing a second fill perhaps, then that will have a significant impact on our industry. I don't doubt for one minute that our industry will cope with such a change, but it will need to adapt and be creative.
What’s the one dram you couldn’t live without?
Aberfeldy 12 Year Old, it's a 'worldie'!
Many thanks to John Drake. Who will be the next Whisky Insider? Click back soon to find out!