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Friday 25 October 2013


So here we are folks, one again poised before another exciting time for whisky releases.  And we're extra specially proud, as November 11th is the official release of our 4th bottling in the series of the Caskstrength & Carry On 'A-Z of Whiskies' -  and this one is a biggie.  

We've come some way with our last bottlings: From the Arran first fill single cask, to a spice-laden BenRiach to the Cutty Sark we launched in March this year to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the brand, Caskstrength have always tried to bring you something exciting, vibrant and above all else superbly drinkable.  This time round, we've gone even further... into the 3rd dimension of flavour to be precise.

Ladies and gentlemen, we bring you 3D Whisky

3D has been our most ambitious project yet and brings together a partnership between three distinctly different distilleries:  Dailuaine, Dalwhinnie and Dufftown 

Working with Dr Matthew Crow, one of the master blenders for Johnnie Walker, we've come up with a brand new recipe blending these three great distilleries together, to produce something that literally takes whisky to another dimension.  

3D Whisky is bottled at 56.4% and will be limited to 504 hand signed, individually numbered bottles. 

In addition, the label harks back to a golden age of 3D, printed in true 'StereoScopic' effect and every bottle comes with a pair of 3D glasses to enhance your viewing (and possibly drinking) experience.  

Print-Your-Own 3D presentation case (if you have a 3D printer)
If not, we'll tell you where you can get one printed

But that's not all.  On the back is where it gets really cool. Bringing together both Old and New Schools is what Caskstrength is all about and on the back label you'll find a QR Code that enables you to download the plans for the very first 'Print-Your-Own' presentation case in the drinks business for your bottle of 3D, using the latest, most high tech 3D printing capabilities.    

We've also had a lot of fun during the project and have made a short feature film (which is partially shot in 3D) charting the thrilling time we had constructing such a monstrous whisky.  You can see the trailer for the film here:

The premier of the full film will take place at 7.30pm on the release date '3D Day': 
Monday 11th November. 

As with our previous releases, the chaps at Master Of Malt will be retailing 3D whisky and a bottle will set you back just £49.99 

This is whisky, Jim... But not as we know it...

Joel & Neil

Tuesday 22 October 2013

I Like Big Brands And I Cannot Lie - Glenfiddich Cask Collection Single Malt Scotch Whisky

In the music business, there is almost an honour system of wanting to see artist before they become famous, in small, dark, damp venues dotted around the UK, Europe or America. This is not just the domain of the fabled A&R person (we should know, that’s exactly what we used to do), but also for the hard working radio plugger, journalist or artist manager.

And when it comes to fans, there are always people who will be looking to hear artists who no one else is listening to. These ‘early adopters’ are the social butterflies of the music world, moving on to the next hot act as soon as numbers swell beyond fifty at a gig. Be seen in a crowd? No chance.

It is very much a journey for an artist, who needs these early fans to be vocal in their support to climb their way up the ladder, in order to carve themselves out a niche in the music industry and, crucially, to make a living for themselves. You often find that it is the artists who aspire to use the system to become millionaires, who fail. However, those who just have a simple desire to make music tend to be the ones who, mixed in with a shovel-load of hard work, become successful recording artist and the money, fame and wealth are simply a by-product of their talent and work ethic.

Ronnie ‘Red Socks’ Cox, the brilliant brand ambassador for the Glenrothes single malt quipped to me recently that the best distilleries were the biggest, as their malt is so much in demand. Yet so often single malt fan(atic)s are drawn to discussing distilleries whose output is so limited, they’re a fly on the cake of that is the global whisky business, a raisin in the scone of Scotch.

Here at Caskstrength HQ, we get slightly riled by people who believe that smaller = better, craft is class or that artisanal is the answer. In reality, this party is an open house and you should leave your perceptions at the door. Just because a distillery produces over ten million litres of spirit a year, does not make it bad. In fact, as per Mr Red Socks, it probably makes it ‘better’. Whatever ‘better’ means.

But here on this blog, there is no ‘better’. There is different. There is unusual. There is overpriced. There is, occasionally, bad... and that is why we don’t score whisky. We give fairly agnostic tasting notes and some direction as to let you decide if this is the dram of your dreams, a hipflask standard or simply one you think you should avoid altogether.

So ask yourself this question: when it comes to single malts, when was the last time you had a Glenfiddich? Or a dram of The Glenlivet? Or a measure Glenmorangie? And I’m not talking indie bottlings here, either. I’m talking the proper, core range releases.

These brands have sat comfortably for decades on backbars and supermarkets shelves, which makes them easy to walk past, simple to ignore.

But don’t! For there is a reason that these brands have such staying power, a reason for their ubiquity: because they’re bloody good.

And it doesn’t cost a lot to try these whiskies. You don’t have to go to the Highlands to experience them, nor do you need a full bottle. A mini of any of the above, at 10 or 12 years old, will set you back about £3. Less than a single on the tube or a pint of beer, or similar to the price of a big marker pen...

Beyond the core range, there are wild and crazy expressions which draw on the DNA of these big distilleries. Each have their own limited edition ranges and, as we have discussed before on here, play with creative liquid in the travel retail realm.

Glenfiddich are the latest to launch a set of new expressions in this arena, with three new bottles hitting the shelves of your local airport in the not too distant future.
Glenfiddich Select Cask, matured in hand-selected aged Bourbon, European oak and red wine casks, Reserve Cask, matured in distinctive Spanish sherry casks and Vintage Cask, matured in European oak and American Bourbon (a smoky, peaty version of ‘fiddich) are all married in their own Solera tuns, tadtionally used on Glenfiddich’s 15 year old edition.

Glenfiddich - Reserve Cask – Travel Retail Exclusive – 40% abv

Nose: A big hit of allspice backed with vanilla and mossy oak give way to some bergamot and dried orange peel give almost a mince pie aroma to this dram.

Taste: Sweet builders tea, this has a relaxing and easy going palate giving more vanilla, hints of roasted chestnuts and some more fruitcake.

Finish: A hint of spice with sweet undertones.

Overall: A very drinkable whisky which shows exactly why big brands have big love with consumers.

Weighing in at with an ABV of 40% each the Select Cask and Reserve Cask will be available from the 1st September with Vintage Cask hitting early 2014.

Due to the competitive nature of travel retail, you’re less likely to find small, craft distilleries on the shelves, so it is a good opportunity to reacquaint yourselves with the big brands. Go over, apologise for not calling and strike up the relationship once more. You won’t regret it.

Saturday 12 October 2013

Scheming Barstewards

Somewhere in an alternative reality, we'd like to think a story like this has hit the British press this week.

---Friday 11th October---8.00am---News Report---City Focus---RSS Feed---

It has been on the cards for a while: the steady rise in whisky prices over the last decade has seen bottles previously in the £30 zone rise into the £60 region and £60 whiskies move up into the three figure arena.  

Prices are becoming eye-wateringly expensive, especially for the first time buyer, previously able to start their malt journey with a full sized bottle of Lagavulin 16 year old, that they're now often forced into a corner where the only available bottles within their budget are small, cramped miniatures of standard expressions which offer no room for growth and little investment potential. 

It is these increasingly expensive barriers to entry into the single malt whisky market that has prompted Chancellor George Osbourne into the unprecedented step of launching the Government's 'Right To Buy (Whisky)' programme. 

The programme, which offers a substantial contribution to the deposit on whisky purchases aims to help those who are looking to upscale their current dram. Under the scheme, financial help is available on purchases from £60 up to £350, valid at both regular retail outlets and at specialist online whisky auctions. 

It is hoped that the 'Right To Buy (Whisky)' programme will bring a greater number of consumers into the marketplace who have previously only been able to sample and effectively 'rent' single malt whisky by attending festivals or setting up blogs, in the hope of being sent examples of the distilled spirit. 

However, experts have warned that Scotch stocks are currently at an all time low and with an increased number of upwardly mobile consumers in the market, it could cause a significant 'whisky bubble' as buyers rush to make their new purchases.

'I'm desperate to buy,' said first time buyer Keith Peters 'but at the moment i'm just renting space off the Scotch Malt Whisky Society annually and sampling their bottlings.  I've resigned myself to never actually owning a bottle, but with this new scheme, it looks like i'll be able to afford the new Macallan 18 year old.' 

Elsewhere, Whisky Real Estate Agents, the traditional brokers for the more desirable end of the market have predicted the 'Right To Buy (Whisky)' programme will create a two-tier system: those with a huge whisky portfolio, who will simply cash in on their investments and those consumers who have reached a certain 'empty nest' stage in life and are looking to downsize from sort after 'listed' whiskies to more accessible, easy to maintain, less premium offerings. 

Hitting all the right buttons -
Boom time is predicted for whisky auction sites
'We're also going to see whisky owners have a complete change of heart and even consider moving abroad from the spirit,' thinks Angus McCormick, Head Investment Agent for Whisky-On-Demand.'You're potentially going to find some owners just upping sticks altogether from whisky and even migrating to Armagnac, Cognac or, maybe even as far afield as the Caribbean rums.'

So far, Government ministers have been reluctant to issue any statement as to the likely repercussions of the new scheme, which was rushed out ahead of schedule to coincide with the spate of new online auctions currently running. But drinks business analysts, such as Glen Hilowry at Drinks Only have issued a stark warning.

'The business is potentially on the brink, with limited resources, a large, opportunistic and enthusiastic new consumer base and the possibility of an explosive future for other spirits,' pointed out Hilowry.  'Im not going to be sat down watching this one unfold, that's for sure.' 


Until the scheme takes hold, we'd advise uncorking something special from your cabinet, pouring a large measure and holding on to it for dear life... ;-)

Wednesday 2 October 2013


Howdy! Apologies for our apparent absence for the last week, but clearly B.B.F or ('Breaking Bad Fever') has taken over the Caskstrength office and we simply couldn't do anything else in the meantime in the run up to the grand finale...  

In fact, now it's all over, a light seems to have gone out in our world... Fortunately soon to be filled by the announcement of our very exciting new whisky release in the A-Z Caskstrength & Carry On series.   

Think 'D'... 

Think 3D...

Then be afraid... Be very afraid. Stay tuned to for more updates and announcements and remember: 

7/11/13 is 3D Day... @3DWhisky

But back to business. September has proven to be a terrific month for whisky events and new releases and fortunately, we've been hanging around a few of them (Breaking Bad permitting)

First up was the wonderful Cutty Sark Cargo event on the 12th September, held in Shoreditch, an area hipper and a Hip Hop Hippo in expensive sneakers and a chunky gold chain.   

Cutty Cargo was the first of its kind and a breakthrough moment for this highly regarded blended whisky;  Build a giant cargo crate in a cool location, fill it with very cool stuff: soulful dance artist Jessie Ware, DJ Duke Dumont, performance theatre, a secret speakeasy room guarded by a spiv, cocktails from 69 Colebrooke Row, a burlesque show and sliders, courtesy of hip London restaurant Meat Liquor.  

Oh, all this and 200 happy people, lashings of Cutty Sark over ice and mixers, shots with craft beers and suddenly, you have a blended whisky that's playing in a very different space to most others.  

Cutty has never professed to follow the pack and resort to Scottish traditions, heather and weather and a lingering walk from a lone piper. It was innovative, groundbreaking and contemporary back in 1923 and in its current guise, is still by far the best at breaking down the barriers to blended Scotch whisky that exist in the minds of younger people, which are easily pole vaulted by the white spirits category... 

Cutty Cargo was a test event and we hope to see this coming to many other cities globally in future.  The future's bright. The future's yellow and ship-shaped. 

Last week saw another pivotal moment in the rise of single potstill Irish whiskey, with the release of Redbreast 21 year old, the oldest expression in the Redbreast family and certainly the whiskey that puts aged Irish whiskey firmly in the hearts and minds of those who have criminally overlooked the spirit. 

The 21 year old is the 9th edition to the Single Pot Still range that Irish Distillers have created (which includes, Green and Yellow Spots, Powers John's Lane and Barry Crockett Legacy) and we were lucky enough to be hosted by master blender for Irish Distillers Billy Leighton, who demonstrated the considerable delights of the new whiskey next to the 12 year old and classic 15 year old. The 21 year old is again a mixture of malted and unmated barley, matured in both American oak and first fill oloroso sherry casks.  

Redbreast - 21 year Old -  46% 

Nose: Stupendously fruity on the first nosing, with notes of fresh vanilla, mango, passion fruit, kiwi, ripe bananas and coconut. Dig a little deeper and you'll find some drier spices, some subtle oak tones and a richer, darker caramel.  

Palate: The fruit and vanilla dominate here, with the tropical notes from above leading a trio of orchard fruits (plums, green apples and wine stewed conference pear)  The mouthfeel is fat and buttery, with a superb golden syrup note coating the tongue, before the woody spice of clove and cinnamon get their wicked way with you.

Finish: Lingering and dry, with lighter fruit notes on the death.

Overall: We've featured Irish whiskey a lot over the last month, with the Midleton Housewarming event, a truly terrific Teeling Silver Series 21 year old (which has more fruit than Carmen Miranda's head dress) and this just adds to the tally of greatness coming from the emerald isle.