24 October 2022

Limestone Branch Distillery Tweet Tasting

More liquid Americana fuelled dramfotainment from the home of the Tweet Tasting you say? Well as ever, allow us to very gladly oblige!

We’re over the moon to announce that on November 23rd we’re teaming up again with our very good friends at the Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky, to share, sip and savour a trio of their distilled delights.

On the night not only will we be having an exclusive first UK taste of their Yellowstone Family Recipe Bourbon, and revisiting one of our old favourites in the form of their Minor Case Rye Whiskey, we’ll also be getting truly ginspired with their Bowling and Burch Gin, which is currently only available in the US.

If you fancy taking part in what promises to be a right rollicking, Kentucky knees up of a night click here to register your interest by emailing your name, address, mobile number, date of birth and Twitter handle. Please remember to mark the subject line of your email: #LimestoneBranchDistillery

The closing date to register is November 7th, and if you are registering, please make sure that you will actually be free on the night of November 23rd to take part!

As ever, even if you're not one of the selected Tweet Tasters, it'd be great to have you following the evening’s dramfotainment. So we look forward to seeing you over on Twitter on November 23rd from 19:00 GMT via #LimestoneBranchDistillery

Registrations open to over 21's only!

For more info Limestone Branch, visit: limestonebranch.com


21 October 2022

118th Whisky Insiders Interview - Jackie Thomson

Ardbeg Distillery
Visitor Centre Manager

How long have you been working in the whisky industry?
As long as a well matured, rare older whisky. Well rounded, expensive and sagacious! This equates to 26 years in the hospitality of whisky. Being a Highlands girl originally, I came to it by default, never by design, and was interviewed initially for the role as Visitor Centre manager of Glenmorangie Distillery by Dr Bill Lumsden back in 1996.
I managed to get a hard hat and steel toe capped boots and engineer a move to Ardbeg Distillery on Islay when the company bought it for £7m in 1997. My job was not so much in ‘the industry’ as in liquid hospitality.
We didn’t talk about brands or core ranges or single casks or bloggers. Consumers were responsive to change and Ardbeg was in the right place at the right time. Getting to the distillery on Islay in 1997 when it was simply a historic building was intoxicating. I was very lucky and have loved the cut and thrust of visitor centre life ever since!
What has been your biggest career highlight to date?
A cliché but too many to mention! Every Ardbeg festival day fills my heart with joy - and of course a little fear as we prepare. Bringing the Islay Festival of Malt and Music to a close is a biggie too. Surrounded by your whisky tribe, your whole team dressed up, the local community, consumers, wider colleagues, helpers, magnificent music, the aroma of Arbroath smokies in the air – it’s an almost feral or primal feeling and I wish I could bottle it to release when times are tough!
Can you remember your first dram, and indeed what it was?
Yes. My papa was a cardiologist in Glasgow, and he often had bottles of whisky given to him as presents from colleagues or patients. One of the first sips I remember was Laphroaig when I was really wee. I wish I could say I loved it, but I definitely did not. Neither did he as it happens!
What does whisky mean to you?
The word whisky embraces so much more than what is produced. Going back a step, if I had not serendipitously seen the advert for the job at Glenmorangie Distillery, I would not have met my husband and not had my kids. The opportunity to move to Islay would not have transpired and I may never have set foot on the island. I would not have met the fabulous and countless team members I have worked with over the years – watching young people arrive in the ‘whisky industry’ shy and reserved and watch them grow into knowledgeable, warm and confident humans.
Countless colleagues from whom I have learned so much, consumers and visitors to the distillery who have enriched my life, nights out, nights in, road trips and whisky shows, an understanding of chemistry and geology, how to write a risk assessment and cut peats. How to converse with individuals from all walks of life across the globe, an understanding and intuition about visitor expectations, how to organise a whisky festival and how to clean a toilet till it gleams!
Where would you like to see yourself in five years’ time?
Somewhere near the Transfagarasan in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania or the Seward Highway in Alaska with Dugga, my partner, a killer play list and a well-preserved camper van. A well-stocked bar of single malts and loads of smelly cheese.
Perhaps that’s a dream! In reality heading for retirement – lord feels like 5 minutes since I started. And I will have written my epic whisky murder mystery novel. It’s been maturing a loooong time!

20 October 2022

Ardbeg 8 Year Old - For Discussion

Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
50.8% ABV / RRP: £57.00

These days there is no shortage of whisky distilleries offering some sort of membership for their loyal fans and followers, as a means to keep them up to date with all their goings on via an email subscription, and in return offering opportunities to get hold of exclusive content, merchandise, event invitations and of course first dibs on new releases and limited-edition bottlings.
One of the first and certainly the most notable distillery to do so was the iconic Islay based Ardbeg, who for the last two decades has released a plethora of unique bottlings of different ages and cask types, exclusively for its Committee members. These have included experimental and historical brand significance bottlings, along with those launched to promote the brands annual day of celebration as part of the Islay Festival of Music and Malt (Féis Íle).

One of our recent favourites, which also just happens to be one of their younger releases is their 8 Year Old - For Discussion bottling, which we recently got reacquainted with. Originally launched in 2021, this Committee release invited members to openly discuss and compare it to the brands older 10 Year Old sibling, which just happens to be one of our all-time favourites. So how did it compare?

The Nose kicks off with a whirlwind of peat smoke, tar, creosote, pork crackling, brine and rain drenched paving stones. Followed by notes of rich oak, fennel, baked peaches, sherry steeped sultanas, tea steeped prunes, orange peel and a lemon cheesecake with a thick gingernut biscuit base. The nasal niceties then conclude with liquorice, salted caramel, mixed spice, white pepper and an almost rum-esque estery funkiness.
The Palate dishes up and delivers a cornucopia of coal smoke, dry oak, crispy burnt ends, caramalised fennel fronds, grilled jalapeño peppers and more of those sherry steeped sultanas. Followed by notes of dark chocolate covered coffee beans, lemon and honey Lockets lozenges, Fisherman's Friend sweets, Jamaican ginger cake, digestive biscuits, salted caramel and generous grounds of black pepper,
The Finish is long lasting and provides the perfect punchy highlights package of all the notes that have teased and tantalised the senses.
All in all, this is a little more youthful but no less yummy than their 10 Year Old, or any of the other Ardbeg's we've been fortunate enough to pour and explore over the years. It's a spirit that ages superbly and sublimely but it also offers up a fresher and more vibrant edge when bottled at pre double-digit years.
Ardbeg 8 Year Old - For Discussion (50.8% ABV) is now available to Ardbeg Committee Members for a RRP of £57.00. If you’re not already a member you can sign up now for free via ardbeg.com and grab a bottle while you can!