It’s Fèis Ìle – The Islay Festival of Music and Malt – and, for the second year in a row, it’s not the normal island-population-doubling week of in-person shenanigans. While you can now go and play on Islay, the festival has stayed online, and this week sees a host of virtual events, from quizzes and dances to whisky tastings.
While the festivities have kicked off a day earlier than usual, with Ardnahoe grabbing the Friday, the opening Saturday focuses on Lagavulin, with queues usually snaking out of the distillery shop from first light. Sister distillery Caol Ila joins the fray on Monday, although generally with a quieter affair. However, everything is online this year, including the sales of the special festival bottlings – a Lagavulin 13 Year Old and a Caol Ila 12 Year Old…Continue reading “Fèis Ìle 2021 – Lagavulin 13yo and Caol Ila 12yo”
Here’s a guest piece from Lee ‘Connas’ Connor – the Distilled Consultant, who you may know from his work with The Whisky Lounge and Scotch Malt Whisky Society – looking into the wonders of Waterford Distillery.
There can be no doubt that when Mark Reynier announced his return to distilling at Waterford, the whisky community was braced for a veritable wave of provenance-centred propaganda. And who can blame him, given his huge success in the regeneration of Bruichladdich Distillery and their ongoing obsessive commitment (even post-Reynier) to transparency in their whisky making process? From a purely commercial point of view, he would be a fool to tweak his trademark outspoken and irreverent image at this point.
What we were perhaps not expecting was the gaping abyss between how Bruichladdich and Waterford make whisky. Yes, it is what is in the bottle that counts, but you would be hard pushed to find two more contrasting single malt distilleries.Continue reading “Waterford Gristers – a tale of terroir”
There are waves in the drinks world. Ideas that roll around and smash together to create rolling peaks where everyone seems to talk about the same thing for a short time. I really like negronis, and having seen a bunch of mentions of them and the negroni family over the past week, I better jump on before my metaphor breaks. Negroni variation #1: the Boulevardier.Continue reading “The Negroni Variations: Boulevardier”
It’s almost Christmas and that means it’s time to be on the look out for booze bargains. On the whisky front, there is a lot of discussion about one particular deal – a good whisky, at a good price, with a hidden origin: Lidl Ben Bracken 16 Year Old. But could it secretly be Lagavulin 16 Year Old?Continue reading “Ben Bracken 16 Year Old and Lagavulin 16 Year Old – are they siblings?”
This past couple of years have seen lots of new independent bottlers hitting the scene. With industry veterans from Italy and groups of mates from St Albans all joining in the race to find and bottle great whiskies, the new independents are a varied crowd. Surprisingly, one of the places without as many newbies is Scotland, so it’s nice to see Dràm Mòr stretching out from its Dumbarton home to expand into the world of bottling its own whiskies.Continue reading “Dràm Mòr Glen Garioch 2011, Glenrothes 2009 and Benriach 2008”
While this year’s Islay Festival of Malt and Music – Fèis Ìle – has been rather different to other years thanks to the joys of the global pandemic, some things have stayed the same – a load of special whiskies have been released. Most distilleries keep their festival releases for visitors of the island, but a couple regularly send theirs a bit further afield. One of those is a whisky that I grab every year and have become an obsessive collector of, despite not always liking the dram: Laphroaig’s release. This year’s is one that wears its ‘Billy won’t like this’ credentials on its sleeve, but as ever, I’ll give it a go – Laphroaig Càirdeas Port & Wine Casks 2020: Port & Wine Casks.Continue reading “Laphroaig Càirdeas 2020 Port & Wine Casks”
When it comes to the wider world of whisky, there are a few names that have risen to the top. Some are the oldest whisky makers in their part of the planet, some have well-known people, and others make weird and wonderful things. Mackmyra is rare in that it does all of the above: it’s the first Swedish whisky distillery, headed by master blender Angela d’Orazio, who is famed for creating craziness. Just like this latest release: a dram that is about as unnaturally composed as you can get, but still feels perfectly appropriate for the distillery – Mackmyra Grönt Te, Green Tea.Continue reading “Mackmyra Grönt Te”
It’s a strange time for gin. It’s more popular than ever, with new bottles and distilleries appearing on a weekly basis. However, as the world of gin expands, so does experimentation within the category. New techniques, new flavours and new styles are all emerging, pushing against the legal definition of gin. As you’d expect, there’s a lot of discussion by gin makers and fans over whether this is a good or bad thing, and the latest shots to be fired have come from Sweden with the launch of Hernö Pink Btl Gin.Continue reading “Hernö Pnk Btl Gin – a pink bottle of gin not a pink gin”