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Sunday, 27 March 2011

Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder


If you come over to my house, you’ll not only see the aforementioned art hanging on the walls, but you’ll find a fair few objects adorning my sideboards and shelves. Some artefacts I consider beautiful; take for instance my vintage Ricard jug. One of the most beautiful objects, found for mere pence in a local charity shop. And some, memorable; a full Oxford United subbeuteo team from the mid-1990’s, which take me right back to certain moments of my youth.

One new addition to my mantelpiece as of last week is an item that, for me, fulfils two main roles:

The first is utter beauty. We’ve lauded the Japanese on this site before for their fantastic bottles. Take the squared off, stubby Nikka From The Barrel. Not only is the contents stunning, but so is the casing. And then there is the utilitarian, simplicity of the Karuizawa bottlings (from No.1 Drinks). Wax dipped, with the most stunning, simple labels and boxes I have come across. It’s not just a whisky; it’s art. And this new addition is no expectation.

The second, is that of a reminder. For the bottle in question is indeed a Japanese whisky. Yoichi, to be precise. Prompted by the appalling recent disaster in Japan, I wanted to show some support so, along with donating some money to the cause (which you can also do here) I bought myself a bottle that I have wanted to try for a while now. Not only do you get a wonderful, beautiful item but every time I glance at it, glistening away in my living room prompts me to fire up a prayer for the people of Japan, for their future and for a speedy recovery.

On to the whisky itself: I don’t know much about it. In fact, I don’t really know anything about it, aside from the fact it is made at the Yoichi Distillery, based on the Northern Island of Hokkaido which opened in 1934, and that it is 43% ABV. Oh, and a No Age Statement. Aside from that, na-da. All the details, except for the distillery and the ABV on the bottle are written in Japanese. Good job the bottle is do damn pretty... let’s have a dram of this stuff, then...

Yoichi – White Label – NAS – 43% ABV – 500ml

Nose: A lovely level of peat smoke wafts from the glass. We’ve become so used to the “who can make the most peated whisky” competition on Islay, that to encounter a dram with a good hit of smoke, bold but not too over powering, is a real joy. Behind the smoke is some youthful, spirit notes with hint of blackcurrant and liquorice and some gin-style tones.

Palate: The initial hit is youthful; this really isn’t an old base whisky (I’d guess 5 – 7 years old) and the result is a little aggressive but once it subsides, the peat takes over for the middle section and this is joined by the blackcurrants from the nose. Some wood spices develop with time and bbq notes at the death.

Finish: The smoke wafts through with some cardamom, fennel and honey notes. A hint of sweet coffee right at the death.

Overall: At around about £30 a bottle, this is a very solid investment. Just to give some contexts, I’ve now got a glass of Laphroaig Quarter Cask poured next to it. In comparison, the QC has a bigger hit of peat, but is also rounder and more balanced in its wood tones. Not the best comparison in the world, granted, but it’s what is in my cabinet to use.


And there in, lies the key. This bottle of Yoichi is not in my cabinet; it is sat alongside some of my most treasure possessions on my mantelpiece because it is a beautiful piece of design. Unlike the Nikka From The Barrel, the contents doesn't match up quite as well to the aesthetic, but it is well worth a try and, in the same moment, remind yourself to hold the country of Japan in your heart for just a moment; to hope for their future, for their people, for their well-being.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Work Hard And Be Nice To People



In my eyes, one can not spend money badly on art. With the possible exception of dog’s playing pool.

Art does not have to be expensive. I recently purchased a fantastic print by chap called Anthony Burrill which plays on the Keep Calm And Carry On (notice a theme here...?) poster, but with his adaptation simply reading:

Work Hard – And – Be Nice To People

At £30, you can hang an original piece of work on your wall to enjoy pretty much forever. Why wouldn’t you?

Another such purchase was made about 8 years ago now. I’d discovered an artist called Brian Jones, a collaborator of one of my personal favourite artists, Jamie Reid (most famous for his Sex Pistols records artwork) and fell in love with a piece called So Square So True, which was basically a squared off red, white and blue Mod target.

Purchased and framed, this piece has been sitting as a centre piece in my living room for about 6 years, but it wasn’t until last week that I learnt something about it. And this gave me the shock of my life.

A friend of mine popped in for cuppa and to inform me they were leaving London to pursue a career as a crew member, sailing yachts for posh people around the globe. Sounds quite a good life, doesn’t it!

As we sat chatting, the subject turned to whisky. In a brief moment of silence, my friend pointed to the Brian Jones piece on the wall and remarked “Ah! Nice! I see what you’ve done there.”

Of course, I had no idea what he was on about but didn’t want to seem left out, so nodded and mouthed “yeah... yeah!” as he then pointed to the picture and said “Whiskey!”

“Whiskey?” I replied.

“Yeah. Whiskey.” my friend said, almost questioning my unspoken wit for something I had no idea I’d done.

“What about whiskey?” I asked.

“Well, that picture on your wall. It’s the flag ‘whiskey’” he informed me.

Totally confused, I had to ask “A flag for whiskey? What are you going on about?!”

“Well”, my friend went on “that is a naval flag and the name for it is ‘whiskey’. You hoist the flag when you need urgent medical help or to signal the letter W

So, all these years I’ve been sat sipping whisky under a flag entitled whiskey! Serendipity indeed, readers. Serendipity indeed.

I’m no sailor myself, but if I did own a yacht, one of the first places I would visit would not be the sandy, sun drenched beaches of the Scilly Isle, the Channel Islands or the South Of France. Rather, I would head North to the choppy waters of the Scottish coast line and tour the islands and highlands from a costal perspective.

One particular area I dream of sailing through whenever I go, is the Sound of Islay, the straight between Islay and Jura, where you pass by Bunnahabhain and Caol Ila distilleries. On a calm summers day, this surely must be one of the most magnificent nautical journeys in the world.

But one could not be involved in passing by Caol Ila without a dram of their whisky in hand. We recently reviewed the fantastic new release Moch (which I’m yet to read a bad review of anywhere) and as luck would have it, we have a second, different Caol Ila to review today.

Picked up on a recent trip in World Duty Free, this 25 year old Caol Ila is bottled by uber-independent bottlers Douglas Laing for their Old & Rare Platinum Collection. Housed in an amazing faux-fur lined, wooden box this single cask whisky is one of only 260 produced at a cask strength 54.9%vol. which I picked up for a jaw dropping £70!

Let’s have a go on this beauty and see if the contents live up to the packaging...


Caol Ila – 25 Years Old (1985 / 2010) – Refill Hogshead – Douglas Laing’s Old & Rare – Exclusive to World Duty Free – 54.9% ABV

Nose: Dusty smoke as you would expect from a Caol Ila, but initially there is also some Worcester sauce and meaty notes of beef crisps, freshly sliced salami. With water the nose completely relaxes and releases some vibrant vanillas and fresh green apples / apple sours. Much improved with water.

Palate: spiky at first with the peat being over aggressive on the palate and the meaty tones from the nose muscling for some palate space. Needs a drop or two of water to open it open and then the full flavours come rushing through: candy apples, pear drops, sherbet liquorice dippers.

Finish: Neat, the peat and meat notes linger for a long time but when water is added the finish is softened, but the unctuous meaty notes still linger at the back of the palate.

Overall: An odd Caol Ila; not like any I have had before, due to the real meaty notes that it gives off. Needs water to open and soften, but this is still very drinkable even if it isn’t an every day dram. Good job it comes in a heavy wooden box, as it positions this whisky as a “special occasion” dram, which it is, but more due to its heavyweight flavour profile than rarity and excellence.


So, as I sit here under the whiskey flag I dream of one day being Captain of my own ship, navigating past the infamous Corryvrecken whirlpool and down the Sound Of Islay, avoding the temptress Sirens in the waves and pulling in to Port Askaig for a wee dram of Caol Ila by the bay with some fresh oysters.

Now, however, I must swap my oysters for an Oyster Card and my yacht for the tube as I venture out to the Sound Of London: planes, sirens of a different nature and the hustle and bustle of the rat race.

Oh, for the peace of Islay...

Monday, 21 March 2011

Kiss My Blarney


Ever felt like you've needed a weekend to recover from the weekend you just had? Well, you can pretty much guarantee that a trip to Dublin for St Patrick's Day will leave you owing somebody several weekends. As we mentioned in our last post, Caskstrength was over for the St Patrick's Day celebrations and specifically to try our hand at a little bit of presenting on Jameson FM, a radio station set up within the old Distillery building in the centre of Dublin. And what a blast we had. Thank you to everyone who tuned in, sent emails and generally made the experience a lot of fun indeed.

On the night before, we met up with one of the most knowledgable chaps we've come across when it comes to Irish whiskey - Kobus Van Zyl, head barman at the Four Seasons Hotel. Kobus was one of our guests on Jameson FM and we thought it would be fun to challenge him to a live nosing competition on the day. After meeting him and seeing the incredible selection of whiskies he has at the bar, we were very scared indeed. Kobus has assembled a dream list of Irish whiskey from rare and vintage bottlings, through to some excellent single cask releases, which are well worth seeking out. Our highlight was one of Connemara's 1992 single casks:


Connemara - Irish Whiskey - Single Cask release - Cask 4293 K92/35 - distilled 4th September 1992 - bottled 28th November 2006 - 46%

Nose: Soft notes of vintage peat (old Ardbeg style), cream soda, fudge, white chocolate and an abundance of fresh vanilla pods. It screams brilliantly matured first fill bourbon cask from every pore.

Palate: The soft peat lingers, with a creamy cereal note following closely, a dash of water revealing some citrus notes and a rich vanilla fudge sweetness.

Finish: More soft gentle peat lingering for a very long time.

Overall: A superb bottling all round. well worth seeking out.

After getting that all too familiar kid-in-a-candy-store feeling, we decided to beat a hasty retreat due to our early start, so headed for a quiet Guinness at our hotel. Anyone who's heading to Dublin looking for a few whiskey gems should visit the Four Seasons- and many thanks to Kobus for being such a good sport!!


Post the mountain of Irish breakfast from a local cafe, (white pudding...Mmmm ) we were ready for the onslaught at the Old Jameson Distillery. The Global Broadcast is now in its 8th year and it's clear that the distillery have a well oiled machine in place. When we arrived, the place looked completely different to how it did the day before; over 30 international radio stations from Chile to Finland had assembled themselves around a multitude of tables in the main distillery building and the place was buzzing with the call signs and jingles from the likes of Boston WFNX, Tampa WSUN and good old XFM from London. It was completely bewildering sight and we decided to have a dram of Irish courage before we went on air- Red Breast 12yo seemed to be the order of the day and after a few sips we were ready for action.


We managed to sneak off for a few minutes in the afternoon to try something rather interesting indeed- sample from a 1996 Jameson 1st fill bourbon cask, which had been bought over from the Midleton Distillery for St Patricks Day.


Jameson - Single cask 42680- 1996- first fill bourbon - 63%

Nose: Soft gingerbread, hints of fresh coconut, milk chocolate, marshmallows and a distinctly peppery fire, from the spirit.

Palate: A very rich mouthfeel, with a hint of spicy liquorice on the tip of the tongue, into soft chocolate covered caramels, creamy fudge and light zesty orange notes. Direct, yet very complex. A dash of water opens up the spice and the soft ginger notes develop superbly.

Finish: Light and fruity.

Overall: A real insight into the maturation process. Jameson fill their casks at hellishly high strengths (we're told around 82%) but the quality of this cask demonstrates just how the wood can temper such ferocity.


Before we knew it, it was 5pm and some very special guests had arrived to close the radio show, which sent a real buzz round the distillery. Mumford & Sons played a perfectly formed, spine-tingling acoustic session version of their album opener, Timshel, which summed up the ethos of the day and got everyone in the mood for the St Patricks day parties, happening all over the world. But there was only one place to be in our opinion- slap bang in the centre of Dublin with a pint of the black stuff in one hand and a whiskey in the other.

See you again next year Dublin!!







Wednesday, 16 March 2011

St Patrick's Day Fun


Quick update to y'all. Joel and I are over in Dublin for the next few days enjoying the St Patrick's Day festivities, which also include appearing as guests on Jameson FM, an online radio station which is broadcasting throughout the day. We'll be conducting a live tasting challenge on air, plus reading out a few of your Sine Metu 'Have You Got The Bottle' competition entries (there's still time to enter here!)

So where ever you happen yo be, uncork your favourite whiskey and raise a generously filled glass one of the greatest and undoubtedly fun saintly celebrations in the world!!

Slainte...
Neil + Joel

Monday, 14 March 2011

A little Vintage Therapy


Hot on the heels of their excellent Leif Eriksson bottling, Highland Park bring you the latest in their travel retail portfolio, this time harking back to the late 1970's.

They've bottled a 1978 vintage, which purportedly takes its design inspiration from 5 unusual Norse carvings unearthed in Norway in 1904. The most striking of these, a snarling beast will be featured on the box for the 1978 release.

Highland Park's press release makes reference to the 'fearsome beast, with great bared teeth, a square snout and big eyes.' Sounds suspiciously like one of Joel's previous female acquaintances, but that's another story...


Highland Park - 1978 - Travel retail vintage bottling - 47.8%

Nose: Lovely soft waxy notes, combine with a hint of fragrant summer fruit, deft notes of cedarwood, dried coconut, a light oaky dryness and some classic Highland Park honey. We've often commented just how much of a rich aromatic seam runs through all the HP bottlings and this one is no exception.

Palate: Rich and oily, the first thing that hits is menthol throat lozenges, further hints of wax then heather honey, some dried ginger and a touch of smoky earthiness. We'd hasten to say the peating level was a little higher on this batch than other HPs but here it's a restrained, soft smoke taste.

Finish: Superbly detailed and resonant, the finish fades gently, with spicy ginger and white pepper tingling away on the back palate.

Overall: These travel retail bottlings really do set hugely high standards for their rivals and, without doubt, this one is up there yet again with the best of them. We'd still maintain that the 1990 vintage is the undisputed king of their releases, but like the recent Leif Eriksson, the cask selection here is impeccable and yet another monster HP is unleashed on the unsuspecting public...

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Wick-ed?

Getting around Scotland is one of the fun things about visiting. Planes, trains and automobiles are usually deployed to get from The Big Smoke to where the Big Peat lies. And all because distilleries are hidden away in craggy and remote areas.

This was a deliberate act. The distilleries were awkward to reach, enabling them to hide from the excise man as well as smuggle their goods away to market. Islands were good hiding places for the 18th Century distiller, so it is no surprise that Islay, Orkney and Skye house some of the world’s greatest distilleries. But if you were to stay on the mainland, where better to be than the far North?

And you don’t get much further North than Wick.

Situated near John O’ Groats , the most Northerly point in mainland Britain is just a stones throw away. This is a seriously long way from... well... anywhere, really!

I once had a friend who cycled from John O’ Groats to Land’s End. I honestly have no idea why people do this sort of thing (having recently joined the Boris Bike Scheme in London, I’d be hard pressed to cycle from St John’s Wood to Mile End without “doing myself a wrong ‘un” as the Cockney’s say) but these same people probably have no idea why I’m spending an entire day from my weekend going to Stoke.

To watch football.

And not even Premiership football, either.

League Two, which is really Division Four.

Come to think of it, someone buy me a bike and some lyrca. I’m off for a cycle...

Anyway, up in Wick is a small distillery which produces just 1m litres a year (the same size as Ardbeg) called Old Pulteney. It is the most northern distillery on the mainland and is apparently the only distillery in Scotland to be named after a person!

What treat for you today, fact-fans!

Old Pulteney have a few core releases, with a 12 year old, a 17 and a 21 before hitting some older and more expensive offerings. Today we have a new release by OP, which is only going to be available in Travel Retail, the NAS WK209 "Good Hope"

A bit like the Dalmore Rivers series, Old Pulteney have taken a theme to their recent offerings, using the names and numbers of boats from the harbour at Wick as their chosen subject. This bottle is named after a Herring Drifter from 1948, following on from the previous bottling, WK499 ‘Isabella Fortuna’, and is limited to 9,600 1ltr bottles.

Old Pulteney – WK209 – NAS – Travel Retail Only – 46%

Matured in 100% Oloroso Sherry Casks

Nose: when I first poured this, I wasn’t impressed at all. It was musty and over heavy in caramel. However, given time in the glass this has really settled down. Toffee apple rolled in cardamom seeds, chewing tobacco from the tin, cherry jam and rich oak spice. The tiniest hint of salt and maybe even a touch of smoke- but wood smoke, not peat smoke. A mere whisper...

Palate: First up is the hit of dusty tobacco, or a day old cigar. This develops in to dried apricots, five spice and dry oak. The sherry drives through the longer it stays on the palate, with strawberry liquorice laces developing on the back of the palate, all wrapped up in cigar casing. A hint of water brings out real sweetness. As before, but dusted with sugar.

Finish: big spice hit which falls away very quickly, leaving a dry but lasting warmth of spice and oak. With water the finish develops sweet cherry pie notes.

Overall: At first, I thought I wasn’t going to like this at all, but given time in the glass, this comes to life. Much like the boat it was named after, this needs water to live, to fulfil its purpose, to give it life.


One day maybe I will take that bike ride from John O’ Groats to Lands End. But with Old Pulteney the first stop, and then they whole of Speyside to tackle en route, it certainly won’t be breaking any records. Well, not for the quickest, but maybe for the slowest. But isn’t what whisky is all about? Time spent well. And time well spent, for me, is on any form of transport with more than two wheels.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

A First Class (Ship)ment


Since our birthday shenanigans, we've been investigating a few international whiskies that a few of you may not have had a chance to try yet. Our first hails all the way from the James Sedgwick Distillery in Wellington, South Africa. The recent World Whisky Awards highlighted just how revered this distillery has become, with their Three Ships Bourbon Cask Finish winning the category of Best Rest Of World Blended Whisky.


The distillery is to be found in the foothills of the Bains Kloof Pass on the banks of the Berg River in Wellington and their current expressions include a 5yo blend and the Bourbon cask finish. Recently, James Sedgwick distilled South Africa's first single grain whisky too, so hopefully we'll be seeing that heading to our shores soon.

I recently popped into Milroy's in Soho and the Three Ships 10yo single malt caught my eye, so I grabbed a bottle. Apparently this bottling is a limited edition, so probably worth seeing if your local retailer can locate it for you.

Three Ships - 10yo single malt whisky - 43% - 75cl

Nose: A very alluring soft and aged peat gently wafts in first, almost reminiscent of a lightly peated Ardbeg. Behind that, is a stewed rhubarb note, a hint of sweet candifloss and a wave of dry oakiness.

Palate: The initial sip is sweet and fragrant, rather like a sweetened Earl Grey tea, creamy cereal, soft red summer fruits and chocolate covered hazelnuts. The peat is again gentle, this time similar to my old favourite - Talisker 18yo, which is high praise indeed. It doesn't have as much depth as this Syke heavyweight, but it is a very passable and drinkable.

Finish: Sweetness lingers and the cereal notes coat the tongue along with the soft peat for a pleasingly lengthy finish.

Overall: What a little corker. Cost wise, this comes in at a fairly weighty £45, which for a 10yo is fairly expensive. But nonetheless a very easy drinking and approachable whisky from South Africa's finest. Think Spring Bok as opposed to Springbank!!

Friday, 4 March 2011

Have You Got The Bottle?

Guess what?! It’s competition time again here on CaskStrength.net

You lucky devils, you.....

In celebration of our brand new facebook page, we’ve partnered up with Jameson Irish Whiskey to offer a bespoke bottle to one lucky reader. But it's going to take a lot of 'bottle' to win it....

Sine Metu is the Jameson motto. Translated, it means 'Without Fear'. According to legend, John Jameson was so fearless, that he once jumped overboard to save a barrel of his beloved whiskey which broke loose on a treacherous ocean voyage. John Jameson's courageous spirit lives on through his smooth Irish whiskey and he earned the right to have his name on every single bottle of Jameson.

And now you can too!

Courage is defined as "The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution; bravery." And now we want to hear from you about your most courageous moment!

It could be an extreme display of bravery, chivalry or just something downright amusing and absurd.

One lucky winner will win a bottle of Jameson 12 Year Old Distillery Reserve, with your name earning its place alongside John Jameson's famous signature on the label. The winner will be announced by us on Jameson FM on St Patrick's Day, March 17th.


To enter, send your most courageous moment, in no more than 200 words, to:

courage@caskstrength.net

In your email, please make sure you include your name, age, location and contact details.

Terms and Conditions Apply. Please see here for further details.


In the meantime, to start you thinking, you can read about our most courageous moments, starting with Neil’s very own boys-own adventure, on the Caskstrength facebook page. For further information on Jameson, check out their facebook page too!

Good luck and above all else...Sine Metu....

Thursday, 3 March 2011

And the Winner is....


Well, we had a huge response to our Whisky Live competition, but unfortunately there could only be 2 winners.... and the names are:

Lucy Clifford and Phil Blake.

Well done to Lucy and Phil and we look forward to seeing any of you there who have managed to get tickets...

Slainte!

Neil + Joel

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Gettin' Dawn and Dirty...



Last night, the the South London Whisky Bloggers United Front (SLWBUF) met at a quiet location to discuss the future of all things whisky. Well, rather than a summit meeting, it was Joel and I sat around the Caskstrength dining room table with our top mate and top blogger Tim Forbes. We decided to forego any heavy talk and do what we love best, simply pouring a few excellent drams and chatting about the time we (and our much-missed American pal Darrell) sat on a deserted beach near The Machrie Golf Course on Islay, watching the sunset and finishing a whole bottle of Port Askaig 17yo between us in a little under an hour.

I suppose this is probably deemed as a 'session' in many camps. Tonight we certainly had the tools at our disposal, but alas, no sunset. So we stuck on a DVD someone had made about Islay whiskies (quite nicely shot, but pretty, shall we say... 'in depth' )

It got me thinking back to how that Port Askaig 17yo was probably the easiest drinking whisky I've ever tried. Every sip made you want another. Not in an obsessive, nutcase P***head way, but simply because it was so enjoyable and - sociable. Of course, having your 2 mates with you in some beautiful surroundings adds to the enjoyment, but everything just clicked.

Tonight we discovered 2011's version of that session whisky. It is called Moch (meaning 'Dawn') and you are going to absolutely love it.

Make no mistake, we like Caol Ila a lot. We've reviewed plenty on here. But for me, Lagavulin has always pipped it to the post in terms of what I like to get from a peated whisky. The Caol Ila Unpeated releases have always impressed too, but I kind of felt there was room for something in the middle ground between the 2. Moch has just filled that gap.

Caol Ila Moch occupies a rather apt place between the dark, brooding and powerful coal dust Caol Ilas, such as the 12yo and 18yo and the light, bright and very much awake Special Release Unpeated bottlings. The peating levels are fairly low from what I can tell and the whiskies which have gone into this are fairly young. But before you start to rant about the never ending tide of new NAS whiskies... wait and try this. It works an absolute treat.


Caol Ila - Moch - NAS - 43% - 70cl

Nose: First whiff and i'm right back on that beach, with my mates, sunset slowly emerging. It has the exact same foam banana sweets note that the Askaig has. Give it a swirl and orange and lemon fruit jellies start to appear, the merest hint of coal dust, some floral perfume (honeysuckle) and butterscotch covered popcorn. An absolute delight.

Palate: Slightly gritty at first, then straight into toffee mint humbugs, fruit sherbet and a wave of really delicate soft peat, which acts as a blanket on the tongue, as the fruity zestiness dances all over it. The next sip does the same, then the next and the next. It's consistent and totally moreish.

Finish: The peat subsides and leaves a lingering ashy note, but the only thing you can think about is having a drop more.

Overall: Let me make this clear. This is a perfect whisky for sitting round with your pals, getting a takeaway, listening to the new Arcade Fire record or, if you're anything like us, just remembering a few enjoyable, slightly misspent times on an island which has left an indelible mark on all of us. Grab, open, pour, enjoy, re-pour, enjoy some more. Easy.

Many thanks to Tim for bringing this round for us to try- you can read his tasting notes here:

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Bulls Eye....


Sometimes these posts really write themselves. Today's is no exception.

A few days ago, we got a package from the folks at Duncan Taylor, with a little sample of their newly released Blackbull Batch 2- a 40yo blend, put together with Invergordon, Tamdhu, Bunnahabhain and Glenlivet.

But rather than us review it, we wanted to turn it over to someone with an obvious mastery of bulls. No, not the famous Matador Israel Lancho but someone a little closer to home.


Alas, we heard the very sad news yesterday that the Oracle of the Oche himself, Bullseye's Mr Jim Bowen, was sadly unavailable as he is currently recovering from a mild stroke up in Lancaster. So in honour of the great man himself, we'll raise a glass ourselves and hopefully muster up the spirit of a bit of Bully.... This one's for you Jim...

And on Bully's Prize Board tonight....Errrrrrrrrn One!


Blackbull - Batch 2 - 40yo Blended Scotch whisky - 957 bottles - 41.9%

Nose: Treble 20 to start, with a fantastic mix of aromatic wax, cedar wood, floral honey and fizzy, fruity Refresher sweets. Perfectly balanced. Masses of maturity but not an ounce of dryness or over-oaking. As Jim's sidekick Tony Green would often say as another contestant drew up to the Oche for their first throw - 'take your time, no pressure, at all'. That's how you feel after a couple of sips.

Palate: Another big fat treble 20 again. And by fat, I mean 'fat'. The mouthfeel on this whisky is so oily, so palate coating, you'd swear it was washed with syrup. When you can find your tongue again, you're in for a huge treat. Java coffee, ripe bananas, condensed milk, wonderfully sweetened malted milk biscuits, aromatic virginia tobacco notes and cherry drops. unctuous, but very precise indeed.

Finish: Remember... in darts, you have to finish on a double... And there we have it!! Double Top! The sweet tobacco and malt combine and linger on the palate for a match winning finish.

Overall: If this were a hand of darts, it would have been thrown by the master himself, Sir Phil 'The Power' Taylor. So simple, yet so so precise and...perfect.

In the words of Jim Bowen- it's 'Super Smashing Great...you can't beat a bit of Bully'
Get well soon Jim- the first round's on us...

For those of you who didnt understand a word of this....a glance at this video will tell you all you need to know...