Dràm Mòr Glen Garioch 2011, Glenrothes 2009 and Benriach 2008

Dram Mor

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.

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Laphroaig Càirdeas Port & Wine Casks 2020

Laphroaig Càirdeas Port & Wine

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.

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Mackmyra Grönt Te

Mackmyra Grönt Te

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.

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Aberfeldy 20 Year Old Exceptional Cask Virtual Tasting

Aberfeldy Exceptional Cask 20 Year Old

With the world on lockdown, it’s difficult to get together to drink booze. However, while we might be siloed and self-isolating, that’s not stopping us drinking in company. During the past three weeks, I’ve been ‘out’ drinking with friends more than I have in the past three months, all from the comfort of my own flat – the virtual tasting is very much a thing.

To celebrate Easter, Dewar’s single malt ambassador Georgie Bell dragged together a random band of whisky fans, colleagues and her parents on Zoom to try one of the latest distillery-only bottlings from the distilleries she looks after – Aberfeldy 20 Year Old Exceptional Cask.

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Redbreast 27 Year Old – the oldest ongoing Irish whiskey

Redbreast 27

Redbreast is the biggest name in a small niche – pure pot still Irish whiskey. It led the charge as the category was rebuilt into the flagship of Irish whiskey for the booze connoisseur, and it has had more attention lavished on it than Irish Distillers’ other brands. So if you’re looking to break the final taboo of Irish whiskey – price – what better range of whiskeys to choose to do it with? Introducing Redbreast 27 Year Old, the oldest and most expensive ongoing whiskey in the Irish Distillers stable.

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The Mash Tun, Tokyo

Mashtun Tokyo

Tokyo is full of great bars and their reputation for whisky is second to none – if you want to drink interesting, then its the city for you. I only had time to visit one whisky bar during my trip to Tokyo, but, fortunately, the choice wasn’t difficult. Among the city’s bars, there’s one that has stood the test of time and is a must-visit for any whisky fan – The Mash Tun.

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Rosebank 1993 Cask #625 and #433

Rosebank 1993 casks #433 and #625

The past few years have seen three lost distilleries announce that they’re on their way to reopening. While Port Ellen and Brora have got the most coverage – not least from me – it is the third which has taken the most positive steps and looks like it should open its doors first: Rosebank.

Along with the project to reopen the distillery, new owners Ian Macleod have also decided to release some of Rosebank’s old stock, with the first two casks already starting to trickle out into the public – a pair of bourbon hogsheads from the distillery’s final vintage: Rosebank 1993 casks #625 and #433.

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Ardbeg Blaaack Committee Release

Ardbeg Blaaack Committee Release

The annual Ardbeg Committee release has become an inevitability in many ways. Firstly, owner LVMH aren’t going to miss the chance to launch a special, limited-edition whisky to the Ardbeg fan club that will definitely sell out. Secondly, the members of the Ardbeg fan club aren’t going to miss the chance to complain about a special, limited-edition whisky released for them that will definitely sell out.

In a dance as old as time…

This year’s offering at the altar of whisky fan consumption and internet abuse is the most quirkily named yet: Ardbeg Blaack.

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