Isle of Jura 1976 ‘Feith A’ Chaorainn’

In my glass, and in my imagination, I’m back over to the Isle of Jura; it’s getting dark and a blast of icy wind howls across the landscape.
Like I say, I’m only imagining it, and with a dram of Jura 1976 ‘Feith A’ Chaorainn’ I can’t imagine even the worst that Mother Nature can throw at me would be even slightly annoying.

So, what’s it like being wrapped up in in this snug, straw-yellow Jura blanket?

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Bare naked and stripped down, it’s The Naked Grouse


I’ve got to say, it’s a really pretty looking bottle, it will definitely be reused as a candlestick. I’m talking about the premium offering from The Edrington Group’s Grouse portfolio, The Naked Grouse.

They’ve kept it nice and simple. With the discrete neck label and embossed grouse design on the bottle, I can understand the philosophy behind the marketing; they want the spirit to speak for itself without any label influenced preconceptions.

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Whisky debate: influences on flavour

I have just had a short twitter conversation about some of the “burnt” or toasted notes present in whiskies. Popcorn, vanilla, coconut, sulphur, and drilled/burnt tooth came up.

The question is, in what whiskies and finishes (i.e. bourbon, sherry) do you associate these flavours? And what do you think causes these flavours to show themselves in the glass?

Please comment, join the debate!

Back in black

I first tried Black Grouse nearly three years ago, and I wasn’t all that impressed.
There were however a number of reason for this. First of all, it was a blind sample after a number of particularly powerful single malts (single malts are not necessarily better than blends, it’s a matter of taste); secondly, at that time, my taste for peaty whisky was a little under-developed.

Nonetheless, whisky can be like a job interview, if you’re having a bad day and don’t make a good first impression you’re knackered, and you’ll do anything for a second chance.  Be open-minded enough give a dram a second chance, you might get a wee surprise. I did.

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Jura Whisky Festival Release – Boutique Barrel 1996 Vintage

A few weeks ago some friends and I went for a wee wander up a hill north of Glasgow called Queen’s View, and along the Wangie – a stone corridor apparently cut into the side of the hill by the Devil’s whipping tail.

The weather was very much against us, howling wind and ice-cold sideways rain (in June!) – it was great! We  didn’t have this dram with us at the time, but when I nosed it in my glass in the comfort of my warm living room it reminded me exactly of that walk.

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Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt (Shackleton) 47.3%

We’ve been hearing about it for the last four years since it was discovered in the Antarctic, and now we can finally get to taste it, well, the next best thing at least.

Richard Paterson, Whyte & Mackay’s master blender spent a painstaking eight weeks analysing the Shackleton whisky, marrying together a range of malts to create an exact replica of the 100 year old Mackinlay’s malt.

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Replica reveals secrets of 100 year old whisky


The crates in situ at Shackleton's Antarctic Hut

Whisky fans can find out what the rare whisky which was discovered beneath the Antarctic hut of explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton tastes like, now that it has has been painstakingly recreated after spending more than 100 years buried in the ice.

Three cases of Mackinlay’s whisky and two cases of brandy were discovered in 2007, having been left behind by Shackleton during the unsuccessful attempt to reach the South Pole in 1909.

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Japanese Whisky Experience – Its Story & Taste



I had the privilege and joy of attending a talk about the whiskies produced by the Japanese distilleries owned by Suntory.

In the past I’ve seen people turn their nose up at the idea of purchasing Japanese over Scotch. My advice to them then, and now, is you really can’t judge a book by its cover. A horrible cliché but it is so true.

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