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"For a bad hangover, take the juice of a bottle of whisky"
Issue 100 - Glenfiddich "The Original"
First of all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year to one and all.
In this issue, I look at the new Glenfiddich “the original”. Glenfiddich has brought this new limited-edition whiskey, based on its original single malt (that started the single malt revolution and led people away from blended scotch). Blended scotch had for over a century been the scotch to drink/buy (actually it still is, 90% of scotch sales are blends).
The Glenfiddich single malt that was released in 63, led to the 100% blended sales, becoming 90% and that 10% accounts for a lot of whisky, when you consider that 34 bottles of scotch are shipped every second. The new whisky is a reproduction of the original recipe, and William Grant plans to sell 2,000 cases in the USA. While most whiskies today mature in oak, sherry casks were more prominent in 1963. The result, then and now, is an aroma that is floral with the hallmark Glenfiddich pear, followed by lively fruit notes, biscuity with a soft vanilla oakiness, and deliciously dry finish.
You can buy Glenfiddich “the original” 1963 for around $100.00 a bottle.
Nose - Floral & fruity with an overlay of pear
Palate - Pear, vanilla, some oak
Finish - Oatmeal, light citrus & light spice
Issue 99 - Balvenie Tun 1509 batch 1
In this issue, I look at Balvenie Tun 1509 batch 1. Following in the
successful footsteps of it’s older sisters and keeping the fruit-forward
flavors alive, this new Balvenie is quite simply a superb dram.
This release is a no age statement, 47.1% abv, non-chill-filtered whisky
comprised of seven European oak Sherry butts and 35 American oak
barrels. After maturation in their respective barrels/butts, the
whiskies are married together for several months within Warehouse 24.
Balvenie rarely puts a foot wrong with their whiskies, at least in
my opinion, and David Stewart has produced another stunner. I believe I like this better than the 1401 batches 3 & 9, at least that’s my first impression, it has the fruit, but to me is lighter and a little more elegant.
You can buy Balvenie Tun 1509 batch 1 for around $400.00 a bottle.
Nose - Vanilla, orange with floral notes
Palate - Honey, citrus & cinnamon
Finish - Medium with raisins, pear, and a little spice.
Issue 98 - Kavalan Sherry cask
I now give my thoughts on the Kavalan Sherry Cask, which I tasted at this year’s WhiskyFest in San Francisco along with many other whiskies Including the Kavalan ex-Bourbon cask (more on that in a later newsletter).
This is without a shadow of a doubt a major league “SHERRY BOMB” and although there is no age statement on the bottle, I have it on good authority that it is only 8 years old. Seemingly the reason they can get an 8-year-old to taste this good, is because the heat and humidity accelerate the maturation process. There is a similar maturation effect on whiskies made in India. If you like Balvenies and the Macallan 12-year-old you're probably going to like this one a lot, but you're probably not going to buy it, because the price is Ridiculous.
You can buy Kavalan Sherry Cask for around $180.00 a bottle.
Nose - Sherried fruits & spices
Palate - Rich & oily with lots of dried fruit
Finish - Long, fruity & spicy
Issue 97 - Highland Park "Dark Origins"
In this issue, I look at Highland Park “Dark Origins” which is matured
in “double first fill sherry casks”, using “twice as many first fill
sherry casks as the 12-year-old”. The “Dark Origins” name is a nod to
Magnus Eunson (known as the “whisky priest”) as he would hide
his whisky from the Gaugers (Taxmen), by placing it under the
pulpit in the church or inside coffins! It's said that he was warned
that the church was to be searched and moved his whisky into the
middle of a room in his house, threw a coffin lid and white sheet over
the top and had 'mourners' surround it, thus keeping it safe when his
home was also searched. This whisky has no age statement (NAS), is
bottled at 46.8% and is non-chill filtered (and like everything
produced at Highland Park these days contains no caramel coloring).
You can buy “Dark Origins” for around $90.00 a bottle.
Nose - Cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla & liquorice
Palate - Light peat & chocolate orange
Finish - Long with heathery smoke & a little chocolate
In this issue I look at SIA (pronounced See-a), this is a new blended scotch whisky launched with the help of Kickstarter (crowd-sourced funding). SIA is the brainchild/dream of San Francisco resident Carin Castillo, who very kindly sent me a sample of her scotch to try. Carin may be from California, but the whisky is most definitely from Scotland and includes Speyside, Highland, and Islay (Isla) whiskies. SIA weighs in at a standard (for the USA) 43% ABV.
Carin's plan was to produce a new whisky that would appeal to a younger demographic than has been traditionally aimed at with scotch. She has come up with a light and refreshing blended whisky that in my opinion would take a little ice for sipping on a warm evening and would also lend itself to mixing well in a cocktail.
Overall a nice addition to the pantheon of blended scotches and yes, I’d buy it.
You can buy SIA for around $55.00 a bottle.
Nose - Vanilla toffee.
Palate - Vanilla toffee, creamy malt with a touch of spice.
Finish - Medium-long with hazelnuts & toffee.
Issue 95 - Highland Park "Loki"
In this issue, I look at Highland Park “Loki, the second release of their Valhalla collection, which I tasted at last year’s WhiskyFest. I have a bottle of its brother, “Thor” on my bar at home currently. As a child, I always favored Thor, the thunder god over his half brother the
mischievous Loki. Times have changed, when it comes to Whisky, my preference is for Loki.
If you haven’t tried it yet, and you’re thinking it sounds good, you had better make your mind up quickly as this Limited edition whisky will like his mischievous namesake Disappear before you can catch it.
You should also keep your eyes open for the next in the series, named for “Freya” the Norse Goddess of Love and wife of Odin.
To know more about the Highland Park distillery, refer to issue 5.
You can buy the Highland Park “Loki” for around $250.00 a bottle.
Nose - Stewed fruits & marmalade (Christmas pudding?)
Palate - Sweet smoke, marmalade & cinnamon
Finish - Chocolate, almonds & a hint of cloves
Issue 94 - Glendronach "Parliament" 21-year-old
In this issue, I look at the GlenDronach “Parliament” 21-year-old, which I tasted at WhiskyFest in San Francisco last year. I also thought with a name Like Parliament, it was an appropriate whisky for me to write about, with the Scottish and English Parliaments at odds over Independence.
This is a premier event for anyone who claims to love whisky,
unfortunately for those that don’t have a ticket for this year's event, it is sold out, but go to the website above and save it for next April/May and get a ticket for next year, you won’t be sorry. By the way, buy a VIP ticket, they are a bit more expensive, but you get in an hour earlier and get to try some rare and hard to come by whiskies.
Anyway, back to the whisky, it is matured in a combination of Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks for a minimum of 21 years, the ’Parliament’ continues the GlenDronach tradition of fruit-forward intensity in its single malts. Bottled at 48%, the ’Parliament’ is non chill filtered.
Would I buy it? Yes, I would, this is a fine single malt scotch.
You can buy the Glendronach “Parliament”for around $140.00 a bottle.
Nose - Sherry, Plums & blackberries
Palate - Sherry, Plums, cinnamon & chocolate
Finish - Sherry, chocolate, fruit & spice
Issue 93 - Glenfiddich "Age of discovery" Bourbon cask
In this issue, I look at the Glenfiddich "Age of Discovery" Bourbon cask,
which is the only one of the three "Age of Discoveries” that you can buy in America at this time, the others you have to get at “duty-free.”
In my opinion, you can’t find a bad Glenfiddich, the Grant family just
know how to make a fine single malt whisky, all three of these “Age of
Discovery” scotches are worthy of a place on your bar.
Each of them is 19-years-old and can’t you just tell it when you swirl it
around your Mouth, you get that lovely oiliness that coats the inside of your mouth.
The flavors as outlined below are superb and the finish is long and
Can I recommend this and it’s sisters, you betcha!! I have all three on
my bar at home, they are not cheap and price is sometimes a sore point with me, but not in this case, these are worth the price.
You can buy the "Age of Discovery" for around $200.00 a bottle.
Nose - Toffee, apple and vanilla
Palate - Caramel, nutmeg, vanilla & a little spice
Finish - Baked apple pie
Issue 92 - Old Pulteney "Navigator"
In this issue, I look at Old Pulteney "Navigator" a limited edition
single malt with no age statement. Old Pulteney is known as the
maritime malt and you do get some brine on the finish of this one.
For more on Old Pulteney distillery see issue 14.
The “Navigator is aged in a mix of sherry and bourbon casks, which
does impart some fruit aspects to the nose and palate.
If you like Old Pulteney 12, and I do (a lot) then by all means give
this one a try, personally I prefer the 12-year-old.
For me, this one could and should have spent a few more years in
the barrel, not a bad dram just a little immature.
This seems to be a trend that is spreading, with many NAS (No Age
Statement) whiskies appearing on the market, some work, some
don’t. This one would work a lot better for around $45.00.
You can buy Old Pulteney "Navigator" for around $80.00 a bottle.
Nose - Green apple, citrus, cereal & vanilla
Palate - Orange & honey
Finish - Cereal, honey & Salty
Issue 91 - Bowmore "Darkest" 15-year-old
In this issue, I look at the Bowmore 15-year-old “Darkest.” This one is a
bit different from your average Islay whisky, there is some smoke there, But it leans more toward sherried flavors.
Matured in a combination of both bourbon and sherry casks, it spends it's last three years in Oloroso sherry casks and this gives it that sweet fruitiness.
This is one of the most balanced flavorful Bowmore's, with a rich deep
color which probably gave rise to its name (a guess on my part).
The average alcoholic strength of whisky for the American market is
43%. This tips the scale at 46% alcohol but doesn’t have the heat you might expect for being that much stronger.
Do I like it, yes I do, but then I’ve always had a soft spot for Bowmore's,
I’ve always found them to be easy to drink.
You can buy Bowmore “Darkest” for around $80.00 a bottle.
Nose - Coffee, chocolate & raisins
Palate - Smoky, treacle, cedar
Finish - Sherry, spicy toffee
In this issue, I look at Ardbeg Uigeadail. Named after the distillery's
unique water source, Ardbeg Uigeadail was recently named “World
Whisky of the Year” by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible.
“From the utter silky brilliance of the delivery to the multi-layered
middle, this simply oozes complexity, and on a level only a handful of
Distilleries in the world can even dream of reaching."
— The Whisky Bible
I have to say that I have found myself at odds with Mr. Murray over the years as to his choice of “World Whisky of the Year.” I don’t wish to
argue with this choice as I like this whisky a great deal. Are there better whiskies out there, very possibly, and taste is subjective. I don’t mind some guidance when looking to buy whisky, but I don’t believe that anyone has the authority or depth of experience to say which whisky is the best in the world. One of the best, sure why not, I can live with that.
You can buy Ardbeg Uigeadail for around $95.00 a bottle.
Nose - Peat, smoke & coffee
Palate - Ripe fruit, Peat & smoke
Finish - Caramel, coffee, Peat & smoke
Issue 89 - 1792 Ridgemont Reserve Bourbon
In this issue, I look at 1792 Ridgemont Reserve Bourbon which I recently tasted at the “Bucket of Blood Saloon” in Virginia City, Nevada. This is a small-batch bourbon, aged for 8 years in new charred oak barrels in Bardstown, Kentucky. This 93.7 proof bourbon is named for the year Kentucky became a state. The 1792 is a rich bourbon
produced by Sazerac, the same company that makes “Buffalo Trace.” Sazerac has emphasized the use of aging techniques and quality ingredients to achieve a profile that is smooth and complex enough for special occasions, yet comes at a very good price point.
You can buy the 1792 for around $35.00 a bottle.
Nose - Fruit, honey & chocolate
Palate - Nuts, caramel, slight spice
Finish - Oak, licorice & coffee
Issue 88 - Bruichladdich "Black Art"
In this issue, I look at the Bruichladdich Black Art which I tasted at
last year’s “WhiskyFest” in San Francisco, which I attend with my
friend David McDonald, his son Brett and my brother-in-law Ivor.
This is a spectacularly good whisky, which is annoying, as I heard
recently that it is no longer going to be made, so if you see it, and
can afford it, buy it. If you don’t like it after you buy it, invite me
round to your house and I’ll drink it for you.
Why is it called “Black art” my friend David McDonald found out
when he tried to discuss the maturation process used on it with
the hosts at the Bruichladdich table. They confessed they didn’t
know as the distiller (Jim McEwan) had done it in secret and
refused to tell anyone, hence the name “Black art” not only is the bottle stunning, so is the whisky, I highly recommend it.
If you wish to know more about the Bruichladdich distillery, see
You can buy the Bruichladdich Black Art for around $370.00 a bottle.
Nose - Dried fruits, cherries, oak
Palate - Dried fruits, cherries, smoke, baked apple
Finish - Cherries, smoke, some brine
Issue 87 - Cutty Sark "Prohibition"
In this issue, I look at the Cutty Sark “Prohibition’ a blended whisky that just came out a couple of months ago. I had tried Cutty Sark in the past and it was OK, but nothing to write home about. I can’t say that about “Prohibition” this is a surprisingly nice whisky, especially for the price, with spicy notes and toffee/vanilla flavors and an oily mouthfeel that hints at older whiskies.
The “Prohibition” is named for the fuller-proof style of Cutty Sark that was hugely popular with drinkers during the USA’s Prohibition years. As with most blends, the malts included are shrouded in mystery. Cutty Sark only states that their blends contain "mostly Speyside" whiskies, but it's widely suspected that Glenrothes forms the base of the blend, with some Macallan, Highland Park, and others rounding out the rest. It's bottled at a robust 100 proof and non-chill filtered.
You can buy Cutty Sark “Prohibition for around $35.00 a bottle.
Nose - Vanilla, honey, malt
Palate - Malt, vanilla, toffee & spice with a hint of smoke
Finish - Vanilla & spice
Issue 86 - Glengoyne 18-year-old
In this issue, I look at the Glengoyne 18-year-old, which I tasted at WhiskFest in San Francisco in October of 2012. Back in 2007 my wife Tracey, myself, and our friend David McDonald hiked the West Highland Way from Milngavie just outside Glasgow to Fort William. The trail passes in front of the Glengoyne distillery. We did not stop there, and I’ve always regretted not stopping, well redemption can be had, the new John Muir trail also passes by the front door of this distillery (more information on page 3).
I have tried the Glengoyne 10-year-old and thought it need a few more years in the cask, this, on the other hand, is well worth drinking, very, very nice.
So if you hike either trail, take the time to stop and taste some fine scotch.
You can buy Glengoyne 18-year-old for around $150.00 a bottle.
Nose - Spicy candied peels, vanilla
Palate - Vanilla custard, spicy candied peels and butterscotch
Finish - Caramel, candied peels and malt
Issue 85 - Glenlivet 25-year-old
In this issue, I look at the Glenlivet 25-year-old or as it’s labeled The XXV.
First of all, a big thank you to my friend Mark Jones for going all the way to the Glenlivet distillery in Speyside, Scotland, and bringing this whisky back to northern California for his friends to taste. The 25-year-old is finished in individually selected Oloroso sherry butts, which becomes evident when you taste it. The Oloroso imparts a rich fruity flavor and nutty spiciness to the whisky.
Each cask is individually monitored in the finishing process to ensure
only the subtlest sherry tones are added to this intense, silky and
You can buy the Glenlivet 25-year-old for around $370.00 a bottle.
Nose - Dark chocolate, cherries & sultanas/raisins
Palate - Sultanas/raisins, toffee & walnuts
Finish - Long, with cinnamon spiciness
In this issue, I look at Cardhu (Gaelic for “Black Rock”) 12-year-old Speyside whisky. Yes, I went for the unusual shaped bottle again, not because I had this recommended or had read about it, I just saw it and thought “that looks different.” So I bought it, took it home and was not disappointed, my ability to spot a good tasting whisky by
the shape of the bottle hasn’t failed me yet.
OK, I got lucky, but I don’t care, this is a nice tasting Speyside whisky and if you like Speysiders you’ll like this one.
In 2003, Cardhu was the fastest growing single malt in the world,
until a bit of a scandal caused it problems (more on page 4).
You can buy Cardhu 12-year-old for around $65.00 a bottle.
Nose - Aromatic, heather & honey
Palate - Pears, apple, a little gentle smoke
Finish - Long with malt & a little smoke
Issue 83 - Ben Nevis "McDonald's Traditional"
In this issue, I look at McDonald’s Traditional Ben Nevis, which my
colleagues and I bought for our boss David McDonald a couple of
months ago. This is a special edition whisky from Ben Nevis in
celebration of their 185th year. It is an attempt at recreating the
McDonald's Traditional Ben Nevis which was a popular dram in the
1880s, and is a No Age Statement (NAS) bottled at 46%. This whisky
won an “Outstanding” Gold Medal at the International Wine and
Spirits Competition 2012. When we gave Dave the bottle he let
us try a dram, and it was good, but not memorable, or so it seemed at the time. A few weeks later Dave said he had a drink at home and that he got a strong taste of peanut butter on the palate, to say I was dubious would be an understatement. So Dave brought the bottle into the office and gave us another taste, WOW…...…...PEANUT BUTTER.
You can buy McDonald’s Traditional Ben Nevis for around $150.00.
Nose - Fruit vanilla, & toffee
Palate - Toffee, oak, dark chocolate
Finish - Oak, peanut butter
Issue 82 - Redbreast 15-year-old
In this issue, I look at the Redbreast 15-year-old Irish whiskey.
This Redbreast 15 is richer, earthier and stronger than its
12-year-old sibling with a heavier, oilier mouthfeel, which I like
and this is a classic pure pot still Irish whiskey. The problem I have
with it, and it's a minor problem, although I like it, I prefer the
Redbreast 12-year-old. The 15-year-old expression is stronger
having been bottled at 46% and is non-chill-filtered, so adding
some water will help cool it down.
You can buy Red Breast 15-year-old Irish whiskey for around
$80.00 a bottle.
Nose - Honey, caramel, fudge, mango
Palate - Toffee, licorice, ginger, cinnamon & sherry
Finish - Spicy & oaky
World Whiskies Awards 2012 - Best Irish 13 to 20 years Pot Still
IWSC 2012 - Gold Medal - Whiskey - Irish
Issue 81 - Signatory Bunnahabhain 1978
In this issue, I look at Signatory Bunnahabhain 1978 27-year-old Islay (Isla) whisky. Many thanks go to my good buddy Mark Jones for bringing a bottle with him from Nevada when he and his lovely wife Sheryle came to stay for the weekend. This is a single cask bottling so there are only 469 bottles of this whisky. I found this whisky to be light
and fruity, leaning more towards the lowlands than to Islay, but it also had a bit of a peppery kick. Strangely the pepper seemed to get more prominent when a little water was added.
Signatory is an independent bottler of rare Single Malts offering flavors otherwise lost in blends.
Signatory selects their casks from the highest-quality scotch distilled throughout Scotland. The result is a collection of tastes that represent the country's best and most distinct flavors.
You can buy Bunnahabhain 1978, 27 year for around $440.00.
Nose - Fruit sherry
Palate - Sherried fruits, raisins, some spice
Finish - Long slightly sweet
Issue 80 - Macallan fine oak 30-year-old
In this issue, I look at the Macallan 30-year-old. This is the oldest of the
Macallan Fine Oak range and it is rich and elegant but is somewhat
lacking in the taste department. If only a little of the fine sherry flavors
from the Macallan 12, 15, or 18-year-olds had managed to migrate over into the fine oak range, we could have had some stellar scotches. Don’t get me wrong, I like the fine oak range and the 17-year-old (around $140.00) is outstanding, but I think a small touch of sherry in this series would have worked wonders.
For me, the best of the fine oak range is the 17-year-old, not just the
balance and flavor, but also the price point, a much better deal than the 30-year-old, when considering flavor against cost.
By the way, many thanks to David McDonald for supplying the Macallan 30-year-old for us to try, very much appreciated.
You can buy the Macallan 30-year-old for around $1600.00 a bottle.
Nose - Honeyed orange
Palate - Dry with ginger, cinnamon & spicy oak
Finish - Long with toffee & oak
Issue 79 - Hellyer's Road 10-year-old
In this issue, I look at an Australian single malt whisky, Hellyers Road
10-year-old, which my brother-in-law, Ivor, brought over from
Australia for me to taste. Did I like it? Yes, I did. Is it worth the
Price? Hell(yer) no!!! If I was to buy it on a regular basis, it would
need to be around $45.00 to $55.00 a bottle. I’m basing that opinion
on the flavor and cost of the many whiskies available for you to spend your
money on. From what I’ve heard and seen, Australian whiskies are
very expensive in comparison with scotch or other whiskies, even in
Australia. If I had done a blind tasting of this whisky, I would have
thought it to possibly be a lowland scotch, with its light flavors.
I think it’s great that Australia now has 21 distilleries, the more
whisky the better it is for people like me, but sort out your pricing.
You can buy Hellyers Road 10-year-old for around $75.00 a bottle, that’s the cheapest I found it on the internet.
Nose - Cocoa powder, coffee & green apple
Palate - Cocoa powder, grassy & slightly spicy
Finish - Cookie, grassy & some spice
Issue 78 - Balvenie Tun 1401 batch 3
In this issue, I look at the Balvenie Tun 1401 batch 3. This is a marriage of some of The Balvenie’s rarest whiskies, an unrepeatable selection of spirits sourced from seven traditional whisky casks and three sherry butts, whose ages span a number of decades. The whisky was rested for several months in Tun 1401 (The Balvenie’s traditional oak marrying vessel) to create this masterpiece.
The batch 3 has been exclusively created for the U.S. and marks
the first time Tun 1401 has been available in this country.
For those of you who watch the Food Network on television, you’ll
know that I’m stealing Guy Fieri’s favorite lines when I say,
“Welcome to flavor town” and “this is the real deal.”
This is a superb scotch and a contender for my favorite scotch of
You can buy Balvenie Tun 1401 batch 3 for around $350.00 a bottle.
Nose - Rich dried fruits, lightly floral & oak
Palate - Very smooth, mouth-coating, stewed fruit, oak
Finish - Long with sweet sherry fruits, & oak
(9) Glenfiddich 21-year-old Gran Reserva. Kudos to
Brian Kinsman the Glenfiddich Malt Master; this is “class in a glass”,
a sublime dram. Featured in issue 57, March 2013.
Approximate Cost per bottle - $200.00
Nose - Honey, vanilla, toffee, dates, cinnamon
Palate - Rich honey, toffee & spice
Finish - Long buttery & warm, with spicy citrus