Islay Ahoy!; Elijah Craig on Taste; Tiree Update; Kilchoman Rum; Johnnie Walker Legacy; Disappointment for Wolfcraig

Hello everyone

This is the day before I set off for Islay to do my bit at Feis Ile. I‘ll report on that mid-June and show the full menu with whisky matches. The decisions were definitely tougher this year – or maybe I‘m becoming more indecisive! Also, one of the whiskies I wanted is showing on a distillery website as available but it turns out it‘s not the distillery shop but the main web platform to order bottles. Confusing… Anyway, turns out the distillery doesn‘t have any but the manager has very kindly suggested a nearest alternative for which I am grateful to him. It‘s about the only sample from that distillery that I don‘t have here in my whisky cupboard so I‘ve relied on their official tasting notes and, from my expereince generally, it should match that part of the menu. Similarly, another I wanted isn‘t available at its distillery so I‘ve gone for Plan B which I know should pick up on some of the flavours in that dish just as well. I‘m really looking forward to hosting and speaking again this year as well as meeting new faces and, I hope, some I already know from previous dinners.

Just a little update on the Tiree whisky. I was sent a sample of the spirit which was racked into a sherry cask a little while back and it‘s adding delightful extra notes to the liquid on the nose – added frit richness with soft oak and earth and the beginnings of spicier notes including gingerSome slight toffee and barley sugar. On palate more fruit and some drier notes too; herbs and licorice. It’s not been in sherry long enough yet for major differences but there are some. Very much looking forward to their first release next year.

A sample from Elijah Craig bourbon arrived a bit late to be included last time so here we are. It‘s Elijah Craig Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, bottled at 47% abv (94 proof). I love nosing bourbons with the lovely corn and vanilla sweet notes they have. This one uses malted barley, rye and corn. They are promoting it as a Father‘s Day gift but, as I‘ve never featured it before, I‘m pleased to include it here. It‘s created from a blend of 200 or less  8 – 12 year old barrels, aged in open air rickhouses. They say, „It is this extra aging and expertise in barrel selection that give Elijah Craig its robust body and rich flavour and owes its distinctive warm spice & subtle smoke flavour to Level 3 charred oak barrels.“  My own notes are:

Appearance: Rich, deep gold/light amber. Orange/pink highlights.

Nose: Vanilla, vanilla! Orange oil. Oak, floral and sweet – baked apple and candy floss. Corn sweetness. With water, more candy floss and caramel. A hint of cask char, a bit of sweet spice and custard.

Palate: Medium mouth weight. Floral – rose water and lychee, a very „perfume“ flavour. A dab of mint/menthol, stewed fruit, a touch of pepperiness and quite mouth-drying.

Finish: Quite long and floral with oak and vanilla.

Definitely enjoyed this one. Great to sip on its own or for making southern-style cocktails. They say it‘s signature serve is an Old-Fashioned, though and their recipe is:

60ml Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon | 10ml Simple Syrup | 3 dashes of Bitters | Orange Peel | Brandied Cherry (optional)

In a mixing glass, add bitters, simple syrup, Elijah Craig Small Batch, and ice. Stir until well chilled. Strain cocktail over a large ice cube in a double old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a brandied cherry and a twist of orange.

That may be one I try in the warm weather we‘re currently getting (it‘s because it‘s Feis Ile week on Islay!). You‘ll find this bourbon at around £44.99 per bottle.

A release in from Kilchoman recently to tell us they are setting up a rum distillery on…Barbados. Not Islay, someone else is doing that. I think it‘s a fabulous idea that a little Scottish island distillery should pursue this and, I hope, cement further good relations between the two islands. They advise that Anthony Wills, owner and head distiller at Kilchoman, will be partnering with Frank Ward, a former managing director at Mount Gay, „who will be consulting on the project and advising on specific rum production methods“.What a great way to escape an Islay winter. That‘s all the detail at present but there‘s a promise of more to come.


Just after the last column was uploaded came a release from Johnnie Walker about Johnnie Walker Master‘s Cut (40% abv), a legacy blend from Dr. Jim Beveridge OBE, Diageo‘s great Master Blender who retired in December 2021. Doesn‘t feel like that long ago. Anyway, this is a blend from Roseisle and Cameronbridge distilleries, one fairly new, the other long-established. Why these two? Dr. Beveridge says,It’s an exercise in simplicity, doing more with less to create something which has a uniquely complex character. Ultimately, we take great whiskies and combine them in ways which create new, amazing new expressions of Blended Scotch.” Only 1,000 bottles of this will be available at the JW flagship visitor centre on Princes Street in Edinburgh later this year and in selected markets later on again. Bad news is that it costs £1,000 a 70cl bottle. Get ready to flex the credit card, those of you who can.

We learned recently that, although they submitted revised plans after consultations with the Stirling planning authorities, Wolfcraig‘s revised plans have been turned down too. I have no idea what the problem is with planning people when this would be such an asset to the area and looked pretty good too, from the drawings. Reasons given are the project is “of considerable scale and design” and its impact on the open landscape as well as a likely negative effect on historic landmarks and that the facilities therein, including a restaurant, might have a negative impact on Stirling’s centre. Other comments were made about spoiling the look of the town and detracting from the castle as well as on environmental matters to do with trees and wildlife. What a load of utter bunkum. Stirling is somewhat short of good eateries and other facilities so something that upped the game here would only do good, as well as bring more clientele to the accommodations and bars in the city, perhaps allowing them to upgrade too. The local flora and fauna do matter but I would doubt that environmental matters haven’t been taken fully into consideration by the company. The team at Wolfcraig which includes Richard Paterson and Ian MacMillan is now saying the company will appeal but look for a site elsewhere. I really feel for them after all their hard work.  The meeting was livestreamed late last week but I wasn‘t able to join in so hope to ask more questions. On a good news note, some of you will know Wolfcraig recently launched a 30 year old blend created jointly by Richard and Ian. Just today a sample has arrived of that, of a future launch and of their gin. I‘ll include the relevant bits next time once I‘ve nosed and tasted them.

Well, that‘s it from me for this month and I have to finish printing stuff and packing for Islay. I‘ll be back here again mid-June.

Till then, happy dramming.

Slainte mhath,



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