Compedium of Scottish events

Posted by Leo | Posted in | Posted on 23:45

OK, here is a compedium of photos from my whisky tour so far that may or may not be relevant.

Here I am at Kilchoman with the malting room and kiln in the background. The malted barley is taken up to the kiln by series of buckets attached to a conveyor belt. I never did get up to the kiln floor!

Here is the kiln floor at Laphroaig. The malted barley is spread over the floor and dried with peat smoke first and then heated air to stop the malting. A very interesting room! Lets just say, I bet the Germans felt uncomfortable!!
(Don't mention the war!)

Interestingly, here is a closeup of the kiln floor. It has elongated slits that allow the lovely peat smoke and hot air to dry the malted barley but they are narrow enough that the barley doesn't drop down into the kiln. Now you just don't see that sort of thing every day!

This is outside the Bruichladdich distillery, relaxing on one of my afternoons off.
Behind me is off the old spirit stills that has been retire. I wonder if I can send it back home. I might come on hand for my home distilling operation I want to set up. Now that I have the insider knowledge, it's only a matter of time before I set up my own operation. Properly! Not with some dodgy wood chips!

Here I am at Machrie golf club on Islay have a little bit of Bunker troub. Made an excellent recovery I must say. I bought 8 balls thinking that would be enough and Laura from Kilchoman had an Aunt working at the club so they got me free clubs.

Unfortunately by the 17th I lost my last ball. On the tee of all places. The rough in this case is not it's ironical name. Even if you saw the ball go in you could not find it. And there were so many blind tee shot it was impossible though still great fun. I hired an electric cart for speed and sheer entertainment value, especially as I was one of only 5 people on the course!!

As a side not there is also an excellent selection of whiskies at the clubhouse.

I planted a New Zealand flag for my godson and I on our plots of land at the friends of laphroaig peat field.
(More like just a paddock really) The main tennants of the field seem to be swedish. Something about Laphroaig and the Swedes seems to gel for some reason.

Still who cares!

More follow later!!!

What in the WWF is it??

Posted by Leo | Posted in , , | Posted on 09:31

Saw this out the window flying 10500m above the Gobi desert (Mongolia\China). I had to tweek the colors a little as it was a liitle bland at that height. Beats the hell out of me!! I just have to know. TELL ME!!

Activities at Kilchoman

Posted by Leo | Posted in , , | Posted on 07:18

Well day two on Islay saw me turn up at Kilchoman in the morning to see what interesting tasks they had in store for me. As it turns out we were straight to the malting floor! It was time to send the malted barley to the kiln to be dried with the lovely peat smoke. I spent the morning shovelling the barley into the chute that carries it up to the kiln. We used special wooden shovels that make the job a bit easier apparently!

Here is a picture of the malted barley. It is quite damp at this stage and tends to clump together making it a little difficult to evacuate.

After the malting floor was cleared, we grabbed a single barrel (232), distilled in 2006, loaded it into the trailer and took it to Bruichladdich for bottling. Yes you heard me, I was involved in a single cask bottling of a Kilchoman whisky barrel!! Bloody marvelous! Bruichladdich has a bottling machine that fills 4 bottles at one time. I worked that for a while and corked and labeled bottles as well. On the right you can see me wheeling a huge tub of tasty 3yo whisky to fill up the bottling reservoir. I can tell you it took all my willpower not to strip nekkid and go for a swim in that tasty amber liquid. All in all we got 252.5 bottles of salubrious whisky that are headed to France somewhere.

Did I mention I love whisky?

The eagle has landed!

Posted by Leo | Posted in , | Posted on 07:30

Well so begins my pilgrimage to the home tasty tasty whisky!! I flew in to Islay airport at 15:10 today. It was a gloriously sunny day, as befitting my illustrious presence on the Island ;-)
It took 28 hours in the air and many more waiting around but in the end it was well worth it

Flying in was fantastic we flew in a big loop around Jura and the south coast of Islay and I plainly saw each of the southern distilleries from the air. Awesome!!

I picked up my poxy little automatic Ford fiesta :-( from the airport and drove for 10min into downtown (or village) Bowmore. I checked into the Bowmore hotel and went out for a stroll round the village. The distillery was closed as it is Sunday but the whisky store was open. They have a lot of fine whisky, but I held off buying any bottles as I wanted to see what was available at the distilleries.

I start my work experience at Kilchoman tomorrow at 9:30am. I am still not 100% sure how to get there but I'm sure it will work itself out. Then off to Bowmore distillery and Lagavulin. I can't wait to taste that lovely whisky.

Also as a side note, it seems hard liquor is available in Islay supermarkets. The above bottle is 'cooperative' brand premium scotch whisky. Yes you heard it here first!! Supermarket brand whisky. Yay for Scotland and yay for Islay!!!

Dramfest Islay!! - Regional Wines & Spirits

Posted by Leo | Posted in , , , | Posted on 22:18

What : Whisky Tasting - Dramfest Islay
When : Wednesday 26th August 2009

Where : Regional Wines and Spirits, Wellington
Who : 27 crazed Whisky fans including my friends, Ian and Donna and of course, yours truly
Why : To sample some of the finest Islay whiskies ever made.

Dramfest Islay, mmmm.. makes me thirsty just saying those words. As you will recall, in May we attended 'Dramfest Obscura'. Dramfest Obscura celebrated some of the standout non-Islay whiskies from the Bi-yearly 'Dramfest' whisky festival in Christchurch New Zealand.

As you have no doubt already deduced, this followup tasting includes the standout ISLAY whiskies from that glorious event. Why would you dedicate a "Dramfest tasting" to single region like Islay??? SHUT UP!! The best whiskies in the whole world are made on that small island off the west coast of Scotland. There are none better!

Possibly why am travelling there on the 13th of September to work at a distillery for a week.

As per usual it was a blind tasting, with 7 whiskies including one mystery malt.

The Malts were as follows:

Malt : Bruichladdich Octomore 01.1, 63.5% ABV, 131ppm peat, (6000 bottles) , 5yo
Score: 8.13

Malt : Port Charlotte PC7, bottle 12460 of 24000, 61% ABV, 7yo, non chill filtered or coloured
Score: 9.16

Malt : Bruichladdich 2001, bottle 5223 of 24000, 46% ABV, non chill filtered or coloured
Score : 7.18

Malt : Kilchoman New Spirit, 61% ABV, 50ppm peat, 2yo, sherry cask, Optic barley
Score : 8.65

Malt : Ardbeg Supernova, 58.9% ABV, 100ppm peat, non chill filtered, Limited release
Score : 8.44

Malt : Duncan Taylor - Bowmore 25yo, 55.8% ABV, cask 85063, bottle 88 of 166
Score : 7.94

Malt : Lagavulin 16yo, 43% ABV, MYSTERY
Score : 8.51

Highs and Lows

Find of the night - Kilchoman, New Spirit. So tasty at only two years old! Beautiful!

Surprise of the night - Not picking the Lagavulin as the mystery.

What a wonderful selection of whiskies! Definitely the highlight of the year so far. I love the cask strength Islays and especially the Kilchoman (not technically whisky). I just want to drink them all!

I picked well on the evening, getting 5/7 correct, especially since Ian only picked 1/7. And I must say I was feeling somewhat superior until Donna picked 7/7. Ok, yes my ego was a little bruised given all the research hours I have put in tasting whisky but I think I'm just about over it (maybe). As the only attendee to pick 7/7 she won the remainder of the bottle of Octomore. Great prize!

All in all a damn good whisky related activity.

Roll on Best of the Best in November!

Know thine whisky!! - An interesting comparison

Posted by Leo | Posted in , , , , | Posted on 20:26

It's a wonderful thing whisky. So many different flavors, some filthy, some oh so very tasty. I myself love anything from Islay and especially cask strength!! My friend Donna is a great Ardbeg fan and having recently attended a whisky food evening featuring Ardbeg (Yay!!) and Glenmorangie (Boo!!), we were keen to compare some of our favorite Islay whiskies side by side.

Phase I of operation 'cask strength' was a blind comparison between Bruichladdich Octomore and Ardbeg Supernova. Here's how it went down. We each filled two glasses and mixed them up for the other. Then we tasted each one in order to decide which was which, and what our favourite dram was!

Now, they are both salubriously tasty drops and very similar in a lot of ways. Both are cask strength, though the Octomore leads the way at 63.5% and both wonderfully peaty, though again Octomore wins with 131ppm.

Anyway the upshot of our blind tasting was that we both were able to discern one from the other though it is a bit more tricky than it sounds. My acid test was that when it numbed the roof of my mouth I knew it was 'Octomore'. Interestingly we both preferred different drams. Donna, being the Ardbeg fan loved the Supernova, whereas myself, I loved the 'SUPER Cask Strength' of the Octomore JUST! It was very close!!

Note: Octomore 2 has just been released!
It's a 15000 bottle release of this new expression at 140 ppm and 62.5%. I will attempt to source some on my upcoming trip to Scotland (Including 7 days on Islay & 1 day on Jura) YAY!!

Anyway Phase II commenced a few weeks later but this time the theme was a comparison between two tasty tasty Ardbegs. The abovementioned Supernova and the glorious Renaissance. The format was the same.

Renaissance was distilled in 1998 and released to in June 2008. It is 55.9% ABV, and the final release in the 'still young' series. Supernova on the other hand is a whopping 100ppm + of peat and 58.9% ABV.

The exact results of the comparison are not relevant but needless to say we picked different favorites. I enjoyed the Supernova and Donna picked the Renaissance. That is the great thing about blind tastings, you don't carry any preconceptions into the room. You just taste two glasses of whisky and pick the best on the day! What could be simpler?

So go forth and taste some whisky. It's got to be good for you!

I didn't get where I am today by not drinking whisky!!

Bruichladdich X4!! - Wow

Posted by Leo | Posted in , , , , | Posted on 13:15

Well now, how do you follow up a great event like Dramfest Obscura? You go out on the town for a beautiful meal and some very tasty whisky!! Accompanying me on this phase II of Dramfest Obscura evening was my thirsty friend Donna. Ian went AWOL, no doubt somewhere near 'Matterhorn' or 'Mighty Mighty' and was not seen again that evening.

We first visited 'Sweet Mothers Kitchen' which is one of my favourite restaurants in Wellington. We tried hush puppies and Gumbo accompanied by a glass of tasty 'Elijah Craig' 12yo Bourbon. I'm not usually a Bourbon fan as it's all sweet lolly water but this was a lot more refined and has a very earthy (not peaty) flavour that makes it very drinkable!

Anyway, on our travels around downtown Wellington we visited a few fine establishments that I will review in later posts, including 'Hooch' which looked closed because the sign was definitely switched off!!, Hawthorne lounge, Alice and my personal favourite establishment, MOTEL.

Now, 'Motel' has a great selection of single malts as you can see above, including Ardbeg 'airaigh nam beist' and the salubrious Port Charlotte 6. But every once in a while they get in something quite special and they put it in their shiny display case behind the bar. On this occasion it was a bottle of Bruichladdich X4, which is quadruple distilled raw spirit! Called Usquebaugh-baul, pronounced 'oosh-ker-vah-voll' translates from the Gaelic as 'perilous whisky'. It comes out of the still at 90% and is diluted down to 50% ABV for consumption. It is almost sweet to the taste and I did not detect much peatiness. Not like any raw spirit I have tasted! Also interestingly, it comes in the same bottle as Octomore except it lacks the jet black covering.

So get down to MOTEL and try some before Donna drinks it all!

Go now!

WAIT.... this just in!!!

SR4 race car from Radical Sports Cars Runs on Bruichladdich X4!!

Dramfest Obscura - Regional Wines & Spirits

Posted by Leo | Posted in , , , | Posted on 16:33

What : Whisky Tasting - Dramfest Obscura

When : Wednesday 27th May 2009
Where : Regional Wines and Spirits
Who : The usual team! My mates Ian & Donna and of course myself
Why : To sample some tasty whisky & enjoy my life

Dramfest Obscura, what the hell does that mean? Well in February of this year, Michael Fraser-Milne of Whisky Galore in Christchurch, hosted the Bi-yearly 'Dramfest' whisky festival.
I attended this wonderful event and it was the 5th all time top weekend of my life. Such a wonderful array of fine Islay and non-Islay whiskies.

Dramfest Oscura celebrates some of the standout non-Islay whiskies from that salubrious weekend. As per usual it was a blind tasting, with 7 whiskies (See the above photo) including one mystery malt.

The Malts were as follows:

Malt : Benromach Organic 43%
Score: 6.35

Malt : Murray McDavid, 1989 Highland Park 17yo, (2500 bottles) Aged in Banyuls casks
Score: 7.55

Malt : Adelphi, Clynelish 14yo (1993-2008), 57% cask#7541 282 bottles
Score : 8.09

Malt : Adelphi, Breath of the Highlands 22y0 (1985-2008), 55.2% 159 bottles cask#1066
Score : 8.76

Malt : Adelphi, GlenGrant 22yo (1985-2008), 62.1% 167 bottles cask#10184
Score : 8.92

Malt : Adelphi, Mortlach 17yo (1990-2008), 57.5% 516 bottles
Score : 8.83

Malt : Benriach 15yo, 46% finished in Pedro Ximenez casks MYSTERY
Score : 6.95

Highs and Lows

Find of the night - GlenGrant 22yo! I mean 62.1%, Adelphi, come on!

Filthiest whisky of the night - Benromach Organic. Organic Ewww, Fresh oak No !

So there you have it. Another successful tasting. New favourites found. They weren't from Islay but they are still not too bad.
I will give an after action report on the evenings activities shortly, including additional whiskies consumed, fine establishments visted, why I was so late for work the next day and whose fault that really was!!

But anyway.............................Yay for Tasty Tasty Whisky!!!

Another tasty dram from Lagavulin

Posted by Leo | Posted in , , , | Posted on 12:18

Okay, now one of the stupidest things you can do is go to whisky tasting, get partially liquored up and then pop down to the showroom at Regional and shop for whisky. Not that the showroom isn't a wonderful place! They have probably the best selection of single malt in the Wellington area and definitely the best prices. It's certainly my happy place!! :-) I have purchased some beautiful tasty whisky over the last year and will purchase many more (Longrow Gaja Barolo is next). But good decisions are not made after 7 whiskies!

Anyway, as it happens after the wonderful "Malts of the Midlands" tasting, I wandered downstairs to check out the comprehensive selection of single malts and one specific malt took my eye. A Lagavulin 12yo cask strength! It is 56.4% and bottled in 2007.

It lacks a little of the complexity of the 16yo but it is still a most salubrious drop and so very very tasty! The peaty, phenolic taste is still there and while it doesn't linger as long on the palate as its older sister but it's still unmistakeably Lagavulin!! It's so good, that it is in my top 5 favourite whiskies of all time and I polished off half a bottle within a week. I may have to send this bottle off site like the octomore just to make it last a while.

Michael Jackson rated this Lagavulin "expression" at 91\100, only 4 shy of the wonderful 16yo.
Find it, buy it, drink it! Do it now!!!!

Tasty Japanese Whisky - Nikka 12yo

Posted by Leo | Posted in , , , | Posted on 23:29

Earlier I mentioned a rather interesting evening out on the town with my mate Ian and the tasty Old Malt Cask Bowmore we tried at Matterhorn. Well on that fateful evening we also wandered a little further up Cuba Street to a fine establishment called 'Good Luck'. It's a basement bar with a excellent atmosphere and a reasonable selection of whiskies including this fine drop.

It as Nikka Yoichi 12yo, single malt from Japan. Yoichi is one of Nikka's two distilleries situated 50km west of Sapporo city on Hokkaido.

Japanese whiskies like there Scottish counterparts come in many varities, both the filthy and the very tasty. This whisky is a very interesting drop. There are definite traces of peat which immediately endears it to me, but in my humble opinion it tastes more like a speyside whisky than anything. It has definite traces of sherry on the nose which are also somewhat evident when you taste it.  Fruity, Peaty, Fruity is the best way I can think to describe it. It's just a salubrious dram and an excellent alternative to your average scotch whisky. Can't wait to try the 15yo.

Whisky Tasting from the Midlands

Posted by Leo | Posted in , | Posted on 22:47

What : Whisky Tasting - Malts of the Midlands

When : April 29th, 2009, 6pm
Where : Regional Wines & Spirits - Wellington

Who : Me (of course), my friends Donna & Ian + 24 other fine citizens

Why : Duh!

Well last Wednesday I attended latest regional whisky tasting - "Malts of the Midlands" with a couple of mates. Now, I'm crazed Islay fan so I was a little skeptical of the whole 'Midlands' thing, but the whole reason I go to tastings is to learn what I like and don't like. You can usually find one or two standout drams amongst some truly filthy whisky.

The tasting as always was blind, and we had 7 whiskies to contend with including a mystery malt.

Our average scores are as follow:

Malt: Gordon & McPhail, Glenturret 16yo 40%
Score: 5.86

Malt: Chieftans, Glenturret 11yo Port finish 43%
Score: 6.2

Malt: Glengoyne 21yo 43% unpeated
Score: 7.19

Malt: Glengoyne 16yo unpeated Ltd Edition Scottish Oak Finish 53.3%
Score: 7.89

Malt: Adelphi GlenGarioch 17yo cask #2689
Score: 8.2

Malt: Edradour cask strength Gaja Barolo finish Mystery Malt
Score: 7.53

Malt: Edradour 'Straight from the cask' 10yo sherry butt finish
Score: 8.44

Highs and Lows

Filthiest whisky of the night - Edradour cask strength with Gaja Barolo finish (96 Octane)

Find of the night - Edradour straight from the cask, Sherry Butt #84

It's amazing how two whiskies from the same distillery can be so very different. But there you have it, that's why you go to whisky tasting, to find these things out! And that's why I have booked the next two already! Hooray for great company and good whisky!

Lagavulin 21

Posted by Leo | Posted in , | Posted on 20:52

Ok, so I was walking down the road on one of my lunchtime walks and I was passing a fine establishment called Centre City Wines & Spirits. Outside there was a blackboard with a list of whiskies you can walk in and taste. First on the list was this exceptional drop! Lagavulin 21yo cask strength. Dang! 56.5%, bottle 6394 out of 6642, bottled in 2007. And interestingly it is in a 750ml bottle.

I saw the bottle on the shelf during an earlier visit, but at $700 a bottle it was a little out of my range. But luckily on this day the owner was selling 15ml shots for $15. Needless to say I was forced to consume many samples just to be sure I liked it.

And by the gods I liked it. The nose is even more peaty and a lot warmer the the 16yo. Flavorwise it is so much richer and more phenolic than the 16yo. It may well be the perfect drop. But I'm not ready to make that determination yet. I am off to Islay in September and maybe I will find it there!!

Surprising Old Malt Cask

Posted by Leo | Posted in , , | Posted on 19:05

Went out on a bit of a bender last night with my mate Ian. We stopped at one of our favorite bars, Matterhorn, for a few tasty drams and found this wee gem. A 15 yo Bowmore from the good folks at Old Malt Cask. A surprising drop, some might call it meaty, strong flavors, cask strength and damn tasty to boot. 1 of 357 bottles from the cask.

They have a fantastic selection of whisky so I say to you....

Go to Matterhorn, drink their Islay whisky and enjoy your life!

Salubrious Octomore

Posted by Leo | Posted in , , , | Posted on 22:32

Well, last week I bought an exceptionally tasty drop from the good people at WhiskyGalore in Christchurch. It's Octomore from the fine people at Bruichladdich and 'by the gods' it's a salubrious drop of single malt!! The bottle you see before you is #223 of a run of 6000.

At 5 years old it's only been legal for 2 years and it's quite apparent from the nose which reminds me of some of the 2-3yo raw spirits, but significantly tastier. It is the peatiest (is that a word?) whisky ever made at 131 ppm. Yikes!

I took it to a mates place on Saturday night and we had our first taste and it was bloody lovely! With the exception of a good Lagavulin 16yo it is one of the finest whiskies I have ever tasted. There was a great deal of drooling and at one stage I did almost wet myself with sheer pleasure. (I'll be in my bunk!!! :) ), but that's a whole other blog.
Quite simply it was just an explosion of peat and flavor and at 63.5% alcohol, it made us very very happy to be alive.

Jesus. H. Christ IT IS GOOD!!

I have had to hide it away on a high shelf so I don't drink all! Yeah, good luck with that Bro!

Welcome to my new whisky Blog!

Posted by Leo | Posted in | Posted on 14:50

Well, I decided to start a blog on one of my very favourite things in this world. No not boobies............(that's two things).............. Single Malt Scotch Whisky of course! I discovered single malt around two years ago and I haven't looked back since.

My first drams were Glenmorangie 10yo, Glenfiddich 12yo and my all time favourite 'Lagavulin 16yo'. Don't hold the first two against me1

I have been attend monthly Whisky tastings and local whisky events here in NZ and I think I'll start reviewing some of the whiskies and events........because, well, I can!
But I'm not a total bigot, I will look at the odd vatted malt and possibly a blend or two. Damn, you have to love the "Water of Life".

P.S. I'm not an alcoholic. I can do without Single Malt............I just don't want to!!