Bits and Bobs

It’s been a busy month with client trips, enquiries, writing work and more. Since I last wrote I’ve been over to the Islay Whisky Festival to do my annual dinner there in Port Charlotte. This was the thirteenth year and it started in tandem with my long-standing and sadly, now late, friend, Helen Arthur, whisky writer of fine books and articles. Doesn’t seem that long since it started.

It’s not really possible to get the chef to cook up the menu and go over to try it before the day (he’s a very busy man), so I rely on his menu descriptors and the answers I get to all my questions about every ingredient in each dish and the balance of the flavours used. It’s always a challenge – I’m sure the chef likes to throw in the odd curve ball – but generally works out very well.

News from this month is that Neil Wilson’s Angels’ Share Publishing is launching a new edition of Scotch Missed, last published in 2000. This is a full colour, updated version and launches on 13th July at Annandale Distillery, then available to order from 15th July. The full title is Scotch Missed – The Original Guide to the Lost Distilleries of Scotland. It’s by Brian Townsend and a review will follow next month when I have a copy.

New whisky releases in the last month include Scallywag Cask Strength (53.6% alc. vol) from Glasgow’s own Douglas Laing & Co. It’s a more intense version of their Scallywag expression which launched in November 2013. Look out for it and try it if you can. Also, there’s a new generation in the family as Fred Laing’s daughter Cara (Marketing Director for the company) and her husband, who also works there, are now the proud parents of a daughter who arrived early this month.

Isle of Arran has released White Stag which is their first bottling chosen by their online community of followers and fans in the White Stag club at a tasting of several Isle of Arran casks in Glasgow. Sadly, only 214 bottles were available, only to White Stag club members and was available to be ordered only online. A shame it was quite so limited as the tasting notes were very enticing. Maybe next time there will be more.

Arran White Stag GlenDronach8YOTheHielan grey backgrd

The GlenDronach released The Hielan’, an 8 year old expression at 46% alc. vol. I was a bit concerned about this as my memories of 8 year old Glendronach when I first worked for then owner’s, Teacher’s, were of a terrible bottle and label that looked like they had been produced in somebody’s garage. The whisky itself was fine but it was better at 12 and that’s why we moved it all to 12 years old and created new packaging worthy of the liquid inside. This 8 year old contains more sherry cask whisky and is a much richer experience for that. It’s billed as a good intro malt for those who like The GlenDronach’s flavour palate. I think it is as it’s nicely rounded, toasty and fruity andwill net them new friends but, as a long time enthusiast, the 12 year old would always be the benchmark for me.

On 10th June Edradour Distillery’s owner, Andrew Symington, launched bottles of Edradour from a cask he had selected to raise funds for the Nepalese Earthquake appeal. Each bottle is numbered and there were 1033 of them. Andrew has friends out there and wanted to do something to help all the poor folk who were –and are –suffering so much. There are still some bottles left. It’s only £42.50 per bottle (excl. any postage) and you can order online or get it at the distillery shop near Pitlochry. All proceeds net of UK duties and tax will be donated by Edradour to the Nepal Earthquake Appeal. You can also find out more at It’s 9 years old, has been aged in a traditional sherry cask and is bottled at 40% ABV. Go get it, people!

Edradour Nepal bottle

In more recent days, of course, there has been the official opening of Chivas (Pernod Ricard) new Dalmunach Distillery on Speyside. It isn’t open to visitors but looks great in the photographs (it’s won architecture awards already) and is a real state of the art operation. I know my former Allied Distillers colleagues who are still with Chivas were really thrilled to have this new facility and it will be exciting to track its progress as the whisky matures. A lot will, of course, be used for blending.

I’m off to Islay again early July for a party. More about that later in July.

Till then, happy tasting and learning.



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