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Thursday 30 April 2009

Lights....Camera....but no action.

One of the most precious things in life is clearly time.

For the most part, it's wonderful to have too much- and lazily drift away with a wonderful whisky in hand, contemplating all those years it's taken to quietly mature. It's also a nightmare when you don't have enough, a frequent complaint in anyone's daily routine.

Yesterday, I was in a bit of a strange position- Having too much time and not particularly enjoying it. Finding myself on the set of a new British film starring Ray Winstone, I was eagerly looking forward to my brief cameo as an undertaker, a scene in which I bury the unfortunately deceased character Mr Winstone was playing.

Starting at a 7am call time, I patiently waited for my chance to deliver the line... and waited....and... waited some more. Being dressed as a 1950's Undertaker is fun, for about half an hour or so. Not the best part of 11 hours though. Finally my scene arrived and... well. They seemed to just abandon it, due to the lateness in the day. (my moustache drooped in disappointment)
On this occasion- bad things come to those who wait.

But let's not forget that most of the time, extremely good things come to those who wait and this time, I refer wholeheartedly to whisky! in particular, the range of blends offered by Cutty Sark.
The night before the filming, Caskstrength tasted the complete range of these excellent blends- the Original, through to the stupendous 25 year old, which certainly gave one's palate a taste that can only be developed over lots of's a quick review of the highlights...

Cutty Sark Original - Blended whisky- 40% abv - 70cl

Nose: Light floral notes initially, followed by much more sugary rich buttery notes- reminiscent of homemade butterscotch sauce. Masses of vanilla and oak.

Palate: Again, light fruity elements coming thru, with green apple and lots of vanilla flavours. A very refreshing whisky.

Finish: not particularly long, but in keeping with the style. Very clean.

Overall: A superb pre-dinner whisky, try it with a hint of soda water if you dare and unlick some more freshness!!

Next up, the 15 year old, which contains a much higher proportion of malt-grain than the original.

Cutty Sark 15 Year Old Blended whisky- 40% abv - 70cl

A much richer and spicier nose lingers beautifully in the glass. Prunes, oven baked oranges covered in brown sugar and that classic oaky note from a good sherried cask.

Palate: The spices continue with sweet sultanas, marzipan, chopped nuts and more of the sherry. Very well balanced.

Finish: A surprisingly sweet finish, with a hint of lingering oak and sherry, returning to the baked oranges again.

Overall: A contrasting whisky to the original, but nonetheless exciting.

Finally, the daddy of the Cutty family- the 25 year old. This dram is based on an 80/20 split of very old malts and grain whisky.

Cutty Sark 25 Year Old Blended whisky - 40% - 70cl

Wow, huge wood in here!! polished Mahogany furniture, mixed with a really earthy 'forest freshness' - similar to the old Karuizawa's we keep banging on about on here. Over time, a similar freshness and zestiness to the original also comes through, bizarrely.

Palate: Hugely rich mouth-feel, with lots of dried fruits, oranges, cloves and marzipan. A superb collection of refined flavours.

Finish: Long.. and then some. the oak comes through, but does nothing to over power the still-tingling spices and sweet nuts that last up to the death.

Overall: A mighty dram, which is a real end-of-the-night soother. Certainly the star of our last few blended whisky related posts....

Off now to brush up on my next role... ! think i'll bring a hip flask next time!!

Tuesday 28 April 2009

Golden tickets ahoy!! Glenrothes opens to public!

In a similar scenario to the great Roald Dahl book, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, the legendary Glenrothes distillery in Speyside are opening their doors to the general public on Friday 8th May, offering a rare opportunity to discover the secrets of their award winning single malt.

Established in 1879, The Glenrothes has historically been closed to the public. As part of the Speyside Festival celebrations, the distillery will be running two exclusive tours of the distillery distillery in Rothes.

Guided by Brand Ambassador (and Rothes' very own Willy Wonka), Ronnie Cox, plus Speyside born Eric Jefferson, visitors will be taken on a tour of the distillery as well as the working cooperage on site. The tour will end with a complimentary tasting of The Glenrothes Select Reserve.

Late last year, Caskstrength got an opportunity to tour round this wonderful distillery so wholeheartedly recommend you get on the phone and book your place now. You can read about our adventures here and here.

Tours will take place on Friday 8th May at 9.30am and 10.30am and are free of charge. Places are strictly limited so the distillery recommend that anyone interested books a place in advance. To book a place please contact Pamela Wils or Sarah Bailey at The BIG Partnership on 0131 555 5522.

Friday 24 April 2009

In The Loop

I recently spent a wonderful evening at the Electric Cinema in London’s famous Portabello Road, where I took in a showing of In The Loop. Scripted by a man who would take up a seat at my fantasy dinner party, Armando Iannucci, the film is a fantastically witty comedy about the way bumbling MP’s are cajoled by aggressive (Scottish!) spin doctors to tow the party line. In this case, avoiding committing, or otherwise, the UK to a war in the Middle East. Set between Westminster and Washington DC it gives a fascinating insight into the way the world is run; for one Cabinet Minister, balancing the needs of his constituency in Middle England with that of an impending war, to be voted on at the UN in New York.

I came away from the film thinking how difficult it must be to balance the life of a jet-set Cabinet Minister against that of a run-of-mill Member of Parliament, dealing with bad local schools, farmers and walls. Whenever they get a chance, they must sink into their sofa’s in the 2nd home, stick on some pay-per-view and pour themselves a nice big Scotch! All the tax payers expenses, you understand...!

So which Scotch would be the choice for our busy MP’s? Well, there are currently two bottlings available to buy at the House Of Commons and two in the House Of Lords. The Commons bottlings, as with the Lords, come in two forms: Single Malt and Blended.

House Of Commons Blended Scotch Whisky – Bottled By Gordon & Macphail – 70cl – 40%

Nose- This has a very delicate and quite wonderful nose to it. Lots of floral notes (Heather, honeysuckle, Rosehip and Vanilla) and a hint, just a hint of golden syrup.
Palate - Again, very delicate on the palate and not overly complex: honey with vanilla fudge.
Finish - Toffee apple followed by lots of liquorice and a wave of vanilla cream. A very delicate hint of smoke right at the finish.
Overall- this does what any good, cheap blend should do; provide a quality dram that isn’t over expensive nor too complex for the palate. It doesn’t just “taste like whisky” either. They honed in on what they want to achieve with an overall flavour profile, and gone for it. And it works. Lovely packaging too. This would make a nice gift for someone.

Single Malt:

Now, this is a real treat and a super rarity. Unlike the House Of Lords, where the single malt is unnamed, the House of Commons have gone for it big time! If the selection of bottles available in the corridors of power are this, plus two blends and an unnamed Chivas single malt (answer on a postcard for that one, please!) then this one is the icing on the cake. The Robinho in the Manchester City squad...

The Macallan - Speaker Martin’s Highland Single Malt Whisky - 10 Years Old – 40% vol - 70cl

Let’s kick off with the information on the elaborate, but beautifully presented box:

“Michael Martin was elected Speaker of the House Of Commons on 23rd October 2000. He has been a Member of Parliament since 1979 and has represented the Glasgow Springburn constituency since then. He is and avid player of the Highland bagpipe, ‘the noble instrument of Scotland’, and was keen for it to be featured on this malt.
On 26th February 2001, a tasting of some of the finest malt whiskies took place in the Speaker’s House, House Of Commons. The Speaker together with a number of Parliamentary colleagues specially selected this rich 10 years old Macallan.”

As mentioned above, the box and bottle both show the bagpipes and has the musical notation for the traditional Scottish song “Mhairi Bhan Og” or “Fair Young Mary” on it.

N- Freshly cut green apples, Toffee, fresh mint. Lots of malt and sherry. Like the soaked biscuits at the bottom of a trifle.
P- Slightly weak at first (to the seasoned Scotch drinker most things at 40% need more punch), but then you get figs, raisins, cloves and freshly cooked wholemeal brown bread.
F- A touch of delicate wood smoke with some mince pie spices. The perfect length.
O- A sumptuous dram, worthy of a place in my Cabinet! This really is a lovely, lovely pour. The right balance of sherry, oak, fruits and spices. Hear, hear!

NOTE: Speaker Martin must have an amazing nose, or an amazing set of friends as he is a teetotaller! He doesn’t touch a drop. Much is the shame, as he’s really missing out with his own bottling here!

Thursday 23 April 2009

Down by the Loch's with my Friend Ballantine...

Well, the sun is still with us and it seems to make total sense to continue our recent foray into a few tasty and interesting blends. As well as experimenting with chilling a few things in the freezer (the sample of Johnnie Walker Gold was really nice, sipped from a chilled vodka 'flute') we've been going through a few decent blends that we should have reviewed earlier.

First up - something predominantly from the west coast. I first bought a bottle of this last year, on the splendid advice of Mr Swinfen at the Whisky Exchange (cheers Matt!) and have never looked back.

Campbeltown Loch 21 year old blended whisky, made by the folks at Springbank, actually has some seriously old whiskies thrown in- as rumour would have it- around 60%- and boy can you tell!

Campbeltown Loch - aged 21 years - 40% abv - 70 cl

Nose: Lots of plump, dried vine fruits and a wonderful waft of a Clynelish-like waxiness hit you straight away- and we're in...some perfumed notes, slightly wet wool (the Springbank making itself known) and fudge sundae's all coming to the fore. The grain is there, but doesn't dare overstep the mark, leaving you with plenty of expectation for the first sip....

Palate:...Which certainly continues where we left off! Lots of smooth, creamy fudge, but a fair amount of lavender like floralness, comb honey and the faintest hint of Fisherman's friend. Again, it's clear that the old Springbank/Longrow is there in droves really supporting the excellent balance this blend has.
Finish: Slightly rose like floral elements, and freshly cut apple slices combine to make a superb refreshing length, with a little post-palate ginger thrown in to inflame the mouth.

Overall: I'm onto my 2nd bottle of this and I often find that my whisky loving friends seem to gravitate towards it if they want something lighter than a single malt. Campbeltown Loch is a perfect choice if you want to get something truly decent in as a really solid, all-round blend.

Onto something now that I must confess, was one of the first whiskies I rather foolishly 'mistreated' at a friends wedding and ended up paying for it the day after.... hopefully it won't evoke the same nauseating memories this time around!

Ballantine's Very Old Scotch Whisky 17 year old - 43% abv - 70cl

I love the old fashioned feel of this bottle- its screw cap and crinkle cut label, remind me of just how timeless and enduring certain designs of whisky bottles have become. Anyway...

Nose: Much more closed than the Campbeltown Loch, you really have to work hard on the Ballantine's to unlock its contents. But when you do.... subtle ginger spices, pastry, a strange but appealing slightly floral 'powdery' note comes through, which takes me back to when you used to paint with those classic powder paints at school!!! Now there's an aroma I haven't nosed for a long time!! given a little time and some cloves become evident and some very lightweight cereal and hazelnuts.

Palate: A burst of rich honey, then toffee is the first noticeable flavour, but then we're into zesty orange, more sliced apple with a hint of chili and then milky chocolate. It's a really subtle blend, unlike some, which muscle in on the tastebuds for supremacy, this one allowing you time to contemplate just what's in there.

Finish: Milky coffee notes and a very warming, but dry note, like the taste of a good cigar, half way through smoking remain in the mouth for a very long time.

Overall: A radically different blend to the Campbeltown Loch- one feels bouncy and light, rather like taking a Spaniel for a woodland walk, the Ballantine's, those slightly laid back and refined moments of contemplation that one looks for after a hard day spent pottering around the antique shops in Windsor in your classic MGB. (certainly in my head anyway!!!)
Both these whiskies are a treat to the senses and we'd urge you to seek one or both out if your blended collection needs a new soul mate...

Sunday 19 April 2009

Those marvellous serendipitous moments...

Continuing on with our blended theme for this week and a brief story of something wonderful, which happened last night.

I had been visiting relatives in a lovely village called Littleton On Severn not far from Bath and Bristol in the south west. After a day playing around with my 2 young nephews (they have a mini garden trampoline, which I nearly broke my toe on) we decided to visit a lovely local pub- The White Hart. Several superb guest ales later and I asked the barman what whiskies they had and immediately - something caught my eye.

I was familiar with the Royal & Ancient blended whisky which occasionally crops up in various bars around the country. But I had never seen this particular bottling- the Millennium Blend-28 year-old. Scant info reveals that in the Summer of 1970, Cockburn & Campbell acquired nine hogsheads from two celebrated Speyside Distilleries mentioned above. After vatting with an award winning blend, the total yield was 300 cases, released to celebrate the new Millennium.

It was unopened and covered in dust at the back of the bar- so naturally, I had to dive in!!

Royal & Ancient - 28 years old - blended whisky, selected for the Millenium- ltd to 300 cases- 40% - 70cl

Marzipan, melon, cereals, a hint of peat smoke, something zesty and wet wool. Really revealing and 'special'. Very unexpected.

Palate: Sherbet, cream, big grain notes, ginger, chilli, green beans, red berries, cognac and egg custard. Quite simply, PACKED with wonderful flavour and quite superb. At the death, antiseptic throat lozenges - (blackcurrant Strepsil's)

Finish: Very lengthy, hints of old Ardbeg and that soft 'lint'y' peat, cream, not at all drying. On the death, coal and oil - very similar to a vintage Caol Ila I recently had the pleasure to try.

Overall: A stunner... wonderfully restrained peat, measured grain and a sublime freshness...what an unbelievable find!! Needless to say, I immediately had another large dram and offered to buy the bottle... (sadly my offer was declined), but if you ever happen to be passing the White Hart in Littleton On Severn, fingers crossed they'll still have this awesome bottle behind the bar, gathering dust. You'll not be disappointed!

Thursday 16 April 2009

Monkey Magic!

Apologies for our slightly tardy posting this last week... Both Joel any myself have been off exploring various sweaty music venues around the country, where the whisky has been bad and the music worse still. Still - happy times again descend on Caskstrength towers and we have a plethora of new treats to taste and start smiling about...

First up and a blended treat. We had intended April to be a blended whisky special, but had a few cracking single malts to get through (including the superb Balvenie 21 year old Port Wood finish) that demanded presidence. Stay tuned for some interesting blending reviews and 'experiments'!!

I must be the only whisky drinker out there who has never tried Monkey Shoulder- don't ask me why- it certainly isn't because i've been avoiding it... for some reason, it has just never crossed my path- until now that is...
Batch 27 of this highly regarded whisky is a blend from 3 Speyside distilleries; Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie, utilising 27 casks.
Let's see where this bottling takes us- Monkey Heaven, or the smelly ape enclosure of Twycross Zoo??

Monkey Shoulder - Batch 27 - 70cl - 40%

Nose: Pasturised apple juice, chopped pears, toasted cinnamon buns, something slightly oaky and woody, with swathes of some rich fudge. So far and the trip to Monkey Heaven looks set...

Palate: A surprisingly thick and viscous mouth feel for a blended whisky! You can immediately taste the influence of the 'fiddich casks, which I would hazard a guess at being fairly young and vibrant. A nice ending of drying spices, pepper and cereal completes a hugely palatable dram.

Finish: Fresh green apples, leading into more cereal - nothing too lengthy, but that's clearly not to be expected here.

Overall: A thoroughly drinkable and enjoyable whisky- I can now see why this is a serious force to be reckoned with in the sub £25 market.

Saturday 11 April 2009

Oh... to be 21 again...

Just perusing the recent film releases for this easter and I keep coming across the fresh face of a polite and eager young American gentleman called Zachary Efron. His current feature film appears to revolve around an older and equally polite American gentleman, Matthew Perry realising his life didn't turn out quite how he wanted- and wishing he was a teenager again.
Through the magic of the wishing fairy (aka Hollywood) he miraculously awakes one morning as said teenager (Efron) and gets the chance to re-write his life.

Don't worry, you haven't come to the wrong page- this isn't an advert for what is probably a diabolical film, which clearly rips off the plot from Tom Hanks' excellent 'Big', albeit in reverse.

It's amusing however that the current trait of 'modern life' - be it with film or indeed philosophically, appears to have become a constant state of looking back and wishing for what we don't have now, or wanting to change the very essence who we are.

I turn a youthful 34 this year (Joel is turning an even more youthful 30!!) and films like this don't make much sense to me at all. Looking forward is infinitely more exciting - and that fuzzy, tingling sense of trepidation about what's going to happen in life is far greater a thrill than dwelling on what might have been.

Still, thinking back to when I first first got into malt whisky, I was 21 and full of enthusiasm about a subject I knew nothing about, but passionate to learn as much as I could. Back then, I looked forward to a time when I could confidently visit my 'malt memory-banks' and recall a particular dram that totally knocked my socks clean off. 13 years later, i'm slowly getting there- and still have that same hunger to keep learning and filing away those great malt memories...hopefully this will never change!

So time to add another to the collection and ironically, this one happens to be a 21 year old.

Balvenie isn't a distillery I have had huge experience with, but this expression is a belter...

Balvenie 21 year old- Port Wood Finish - 40% vol - 70cl

An intense waxy note jumps straight out at you, rather reminiscent of an old Clynelish and undoubtedly, one of my favourite aromas in a whisky !! This is followed up by a zesty whiff of stewed oranges, dried figs, some lighter florals and old wood. The malt memory-bank is soaking it all up like a whisky filled sponge...

Palate: Sweet dried fruit (like raisins and apricots covered in honey) is the first flavour to arrive - and it's delightful, followed by a very natural tasting home-made marzipan nuttiness. It tastes fresh and vibrant, yet balances this with a real elegance, which only a well matured whisky can. Rich malty notes start to develop as the whisky gets between your teeth and spreads across the tongue. Superb.

Finish: A touch of pepper, leading into traces of that zest and waxiness. Lingering and brilliantly crafted.

Overall: Isn't it great when you find a whisky which you have no preconceptions about and it just totally delivers, without any hint of a fanfare or hype. This really did surprise and delight me, which I imagine, probably wouldn't happen with Mr Efron's new feature film, but I shall remain the optimist and open minded!

Here's to the future and more of life's great discoveries!

Monday 6 April 2009

Organic Orgasmic...

There are certain buzz words/phrases that i'm pretty sure we've all heard just about enough of over the past few months. They start out being witty and probably on the money, but start to get over-used, tired and very irritating. The term 'credit crunch' is one such particular phrase which starts my vitriol and bile working their way swiftly skyward.

which brings me onto another word which is perhaps overused and misunderstood - Organic.

A marketing man's dream if there ever was. 'Organic' conjures up all manner of positive images immediately; the rolling green countryside full of fresh crops, fresh air, clean running water, animals leaping around huge fields with gay abandon... I could go on, but you get the picture.

So how come it's suddenly relevant in the whisky business? Well, think about it for a second. With the exception of the animals above, the other imagery goes pretty much hand-in-hand with a perfect mental picture of rural distilling, a far cry from the fairly industrialised process which actually take place.

Organic whiskies are now cropping up, using malt grown under organic farming conditions.
The world's first organic single malt whisky was distilled at Springbank distillery in 1992.
since then, Bruichladdich have got in on the act and more recently Benromach Organic are the first to be rubberstamped by the soil association.

'Organic' perhaps alludes to a level of dare I say it...purity or freshness, so to test this out, we've decided to run a simple blind test- 2 glasses labeled A & B.

With a comparably priced single malt and blend as our controls, we've pitted the Benromach Organic and another highly regarded organic whisky, Highland Harvest Blended (under Royal warrant from Prince Charles!) against them. Let's see what the score is - and if there's anything really different with an organic whisky!!

Highland Harvest - Organic blended whisky - 40% vol - 70cl
Johnnie Walker Red Label - 40 % vol - 70cl

Nose A: Toffee apples, slightly buttery and with a hint of spirit. Some mild spiced notes come through with white pepper and a hint of aniseed. All quite pleasant and civilised.

Nose B: Slightly more spirity with more cereal and a touch of peat. More earthy and humble than nose A.

Palate A: Quite thin on the initial hit, but leading into a nice ginger tang, with notes of coffee and green beans and salted potato crisps. Not much by way of mouth feel, but fairly uncomplicated at the same time.

Palate B: Definite traces of grain and some sweeter, nutty notes- plenty of toffee flavour, which is a little off-putting, leading into desiccated coconut.

Finish A: Dry, with more of the white pepper coming back, balancing the ginger, which is slightly bitter.

Finish B: Cloying, with a meatiness anda more cereal/vegetative feel.

Overall: Ok, my impressions were that both were very reasonable whiskies, not hugely characterful, but drinkable with pleasant elements. Glass A was my favourite, with a smoother and slightly more enjoyable palate.

Next up: Could the Benromach make its organic presence known above a worthy competitor - Glenfiddich's 15 year old.

Benromach Organic - 43% vol - 70cl
Glenfiddich 15 year old - 40% vol - 70cl

Nose A: Earthy, with some very sweet fruit aromas, (flambe'd bananas) coming through and lots of rich malt & toffee notes.

Nose B: Honey, some pronounced spiced notes and more bananas again, with a waft of dark musty casks.

Palate A: Fresh fruit, (green apples) with a vanilla'y, spiced flavour developing on the tongue, some hints dried vine fruits thrown in for good measure.

Palate B: More malt on this palate, then leading into a honeyed sweetness and more dried fruits. Both have quite similar characteristics!!

Finish A: A good length, leading into some sweeter toffee elements.

Finish B: Slightly drier and more oaked, but with hints of golden syrup on the death.

Overall: Very tricky this one...! both drams were superbly drinkable and offered lots of lovely fruit, toffee and spice. I'm plumping for glass B this time as my favourite.

Results time: did any of the whiskies jump out as being 'organic'? Well no, not really. But i'm not sure what to expect- there were fresh and fruity aspects to all of them, but nothing that screamed organic.

In round one- my favourite, glass A was revealed as.... The organic Highland Harvest!!

in Round two.... The Glenfiddich turned out to be glass B!

So there you have it- there is nothing particularly unusual about organic whiskies, they happen to taste like damn good drams- and, on a different day, the Benromach might have triumphed as well. With my testing inconclusive, I decide to make a sandwich for lunch - ham with 'organic' tomato.... AGGGHHH!!!

Thursday 2 April 2009

Trick me once...

As is becoming tradition across the web, April Fools Day saw a plethora of creative and interesting press releases and postings. Not that we here at would ever get involved in anything like that...

So here is a little round up of things we've seen that made us chuckle. If we've missed stuff, add a comment with links etc as we'd love to see more!

Highland Park Press Release:


Orkney-based Highland Park, Scotland’s northernmost distillery, has announced plans to open a distillery in the South Orkney Islands, Antarctica, creating the southernmost Scotch whisky distillery in the world.

The South Orkney Islands have been part of the British Antarctic Territory since 1962 and because of its British ownership the Scotch Whisky Association has agreed to allow the whisky to be labelled ‘Scotch Whisky’.

Gavin Hewitt, Chief Executive of The Scotch Whisky Association, said: “The team at Highland Park are so passionate about creating a distillery on the British Antarctic islands, we simply couldn’t resist giving them the seal of approval. The Orcadians seem to thrive in extreme weather conditions and I’m sure they will have many adventures in the Antarctic. In the meantime, we’ll continue to enjoy whisky from northern latitudes.”

Gerry Tosh, Highland Park Head of Brand Education, has travelled the world but this is by far the most remote location he has visited. Gerry comments: “I am just back from my second trip to the South Orkney Islands and still amazed by the rough elements and extreme weather conditions with gales reaching 120 miles per hour – just like Orkney!

“The islands are ice-locked from April to November so you can only travel there three months of the year. During my first visit in early December 2008 I spent weeks searching for the perfect spot to set up the distillery.

“In high summer there is no shortage of water in the area and we are currently analysing its suitability. Some treatment may be required to remove fish detritus. However, barley will be shipped in from our sister distillery Tamdhu and Distillery Manager Russell Anderson will bring a quantity of yeast with him as hand luggage. I’m hoping Still Maker Richard Forsyth can join me on my next trip to plan the plant.”

The South Orkney Islands are located at almost the same latitude south as the Scottish based Orkney Islands are north (60°S vs 59°N), although it is not known if this was a factor behind the naming of the islands.

With a similar climate to Orkney, the Antarctic islands are generally wet and windy, however much colder than the Scottish islands. Summers are short and cold (December to March) with average temperatures reaching 2°C which can fall to -39°C in winter months.

The distillery will be based on Coronation Island, the largest of the four islands that make up the South Orkneys, and named after the coronation of King George IV in 1821. Initial forecasts propose that the new distillery will produce 200,000 litres of alcohol per year.

Highland Park is currently working out relocation packages for key workers. Workers will also undertake emergency survival training, including sourcing local foods from marine life as well as being provided with thermal clothing specially made for extreme weather conditions.

After growing up on the Orkney Islands and hardened by its strong elements, Distillery Manager, Russell Anderson, is not fazed by temporarily moving to South Orkney Islands to impart the 210 year long Orcadian whisky-making tradition. Once up and running, Russell will pass on the Distillery Manager role to the Deputy Manager, as part of a career development programme at the new distillery on the Antarctic islands.

Gerry Tosh, Highland Park Head of Brand Education, comments: “At Highland Park we are extremely excited about this project. It allows us to take Scotch whisky to a new level, adopting our skills to colder conditions, and developing a true taste of Antarctica. Some whisky enthusiasts enjoy Highland Park with ice and this will be the ultimate expression to be enjoyed on the rocks."

Due for completion next year, the southernmost Scotch whisky distillery can legally enjoy its first dram in 2013, when the spirit will reach the age of three years maturation in oak casks. The cold climate on South Orkney Islands will mean a longer maturation period is needed so the spirit will be filled into small 30 litre casks to increase the interaction of spirit and wood. Following sampling at three years, the spirit will be left to sleep and shiver for another 12 years to achieve peak perfection.

Highland Park’s Distillery Manager, Russell Anderson, comments: “At our distillery on Orkney we have a lot of geese and use them as 'guard dogs' due to the fact that they are very noisy at signs of intruders. To maintain security at our distillery on Coronation Island, I suppose we could use either penguins or elephant seals to provide the early warning system as apparently they too are very noisy when disturbed.”

To continue Highland Park’s trademark balance of aromatic peat and heather honey sweetness, malted barley will be shipped from the Highland Park distillery on Orkney. This will be combined with the South Orkney Islands extreme elements, creating a mild salty aftertaste – the result of aging in a cold sea sprayed climate.

There are currently no plans to offer guided tours for visitors at the distillery.

Bruichladdich Press Release:

New Cask Finish

A hebridean distiller has been inspired by Scotland’s other national drink for maturing its whisky.

Buckfast is a 15% fortified wine made by Benedictine monks and known affectionately as ‘electric soup’, ‘old buckie’ and ‘commotion lotion’ due to its low price per unit of alcohol.

Bruichladdich distillery is to experiment using some of these casks for maturing Islay single malt whisky

The iconic tonic was the favoured tipple of Rab C Nesbitt, the celebrated Scottish sitcom character based on an angry, alcoholic, street philosopher from Glasgow’s Govan area.

Scotland’s Lanarkshire area, which includes the City of Glasgow, is claimed to be the largest market in the world for the popular drink accounting for 11% of sales.

The cask choice, in honour of a new series of Rab to be shown early 2010, was inspired by Joshua Cheyne, a Glasgow resident with a keen interest in Scotland’s drink culture.

Scotland's Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson launched a campaign to ban the drink, a vanilla rich, red wine based tonic drink based on an 1880 French Benedictine recipe.

God bless 'em.... the top lads over at EWB did what we very nearly did and took the Bruichladdich press release seriously. I mean, it was a good 'un... you could see it being done! Special points go to Mark and the team at Bruichladdich for that one! However, Lucas and Chris got their own back with an excellent posting about the 2010 Whisky Bible, which can be found here.

Serge is always good value for an April Fool, and this year was no exception. Following on from the releases of Octomore and Supernova, Serge found a bottle of Kiss Of Death, an ultra peated number that comes in a bottle that looks like a Damien Hirst piece of art. This was all preceded by an article about the Scottish Parliament and biofule!
Whiskystuff Blog:

A lovely little piece here about a "Blended Single Malt Whisky" for £50,000. I'd very much like to meet the Brand Ambassador, one "Tabitha Tittyworth-Rojer" whose Father, I assume, could keep me in Ardbeg Single Casks for the rest of my life...!
Sam sees what I am doing with the aforementioned Mr. Tittyworth-Rojer and, using his considerable charm, tries to wheedle his way in to a wealthy, old, female New Yorker's will once he discovers she owns the worlds most expensive bottle of whisky. Good luck, Sam! Let me know what else is in her drawers...!

The Whisky Exchange Blog:

Tim opted not to write one this year but instead took his entire whisky allowance down to the local turf accountant and, in a feat that made us laugh the hardest of all, put it on Liverpool FC to win the Premier League! Ha ha ha ha ha ha...

Wednesday 1 April 2009

Morning Wood!!

Ok, something a bit special for you...when Caskstrength was recently up in Scotland, we were lucky enough to stumble on some sensational news, which will knock your bed socks off... literally....

Whilst in an un-named persons office, we managed to catch sight of a draft press release, casually lying on the desk - and had to do an immediate double take, before secretly whipping out our phone camera, to document what is certainly find of the year.

an Ardbeg in NO PEAT shocker!!

Take a look at the pictures above (apologies for the poor quality, but we were pressed for time!), which reveal an extraordinary bottling, no doubt destined to draw in the lucrative market of whisky drinkers who are adverse to a spot of the black, smoky stuff.

Following on from where Blasda left off, this new bottling called Fealla-Dha (meaning 'light-hearted & playful') will literally be bottled at ZERO ppm... and from what we could make out from the press release before it was hastily filed away by our embarrassed guest, limited to around 104 bottles. This could potentially be described as the ultimate morning dram, or 'a dram to enjoy with ye porridge', which to us, sounds like a marriage made in heaven for those early risers!

We were quickly ushered out of the office after our chance encounter, so could only get what scant information on the new Fealla-Dha we could, but the close up pic reveals the whisky is very lightly coloured, almost see-through.

Who knows where this will surface and what the future plans are for the Fealla-Dha, but one thing is certain, the 104 bottles released this month, will undoubtedly become hugely collectible. Good luck in hunting one down!!