10 Great Tipples for Cold Evenings

1- Laphroaig 10 Year Old Sherry Oak Finish – 48% 70cl


Peat and sherry go hand in hand, and this whisky proves it! The 10-year-old release was finished in ex-sherry casks for up to 12 months, adding an amazing layer of fruitiness to the Islay smoke bomb, followed by dark chocolate sweetness, and of course peat.

2- Oban Little Bay – 43% 70cl


With Oban literally meaning “Little Bay” we must say they used some pleonasm for this release, nevertheless, the liquid in the bottle is very robust and pleasant, with complex flavours invading the palate, like orange, chocolate, spices, and nuttiness. Yum!

3- Hennessy XO Cognac – 40% 70cl


Up for a fancy dram? The XO is Hennessy’s synonymous with excellence. The iconic Cognac is well-rounded and full of heat, sweet notes, woodiness, chocolate, and a spicy edge. Created in 1870 for Maurice Hennessy’s circle of friends, it was one of the first Cognacs to be classified as “extra old”.

4- Stalla Dhu Linkwood 13 Year Old Reserve Cask Strength – 57.3% 70cl

Nothing better than a cask-strength whisky to warm you up. This “handsome” release of 13-year-old Linkwood will surely surprise you, as even if bottled at the high abv of 57.3% it carries itself extremely well. Balanced notes of nougat richness, silky mouthfeel, and hints of salinity on the finish. Just delicious.

5- Lagavulin 16 Year Old – 43% 70cl


Brine, orange, exotic fruits, kippers, and smoke. The age statement on this release from Lagavulin adds in more complexity to the dram. As expected from an Islay malt, the peat is heavily present, but it also has a lovely sweetness to it, making it a great sipping whisky.

6- Kavalan Classic Single Malt Whisky – 40% 50cl


Due to Taiwan’s warm and humid climate, this whisky has an incredible complexity, even without an age statement. Kavalan, being a relatively new distillery, has achieved a great following in the whisky world, winning multiple international awards over the years. Tropical and elegant would describe this dram well.

7- Hakushu Distillers Reserve Single Malt Japanese Whisky – 70cl 43%


Herbal, slightly smoky, and citrusy Japanese Single malt, Hakushu distillery is located at the foothills of Mount Kaikomagatake. Heavily peated and lightly peated malt was used to create this no-age statement whisky.

8- Edradour 10 Year Old – 40% 70cl


Once the smallest distillery in Scotland, Edradour’s 10-year-old is a classic sherried Highland dram, matured in both ex-bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks. Dried fruit richness, spice and nuttiness notes on the palate are followed by a syrupy warmth.

9- High West Whisky Campfire – 46% 70cl


The distillery founder, David Perkins, sought to combine peated single malt with bourbon and rye to create a unique and interesting dram. These three types of spirit balance each other beautifully, bringing together toffee sweetness, honey, rye spiciness, and a slight peat influence on the finish.

10- Tobermory 17 Year Old 2004 Oloroso Cask Matured – 55.9% 70cl


This Scotch comes from the Islay of Mull, aged for 17 years in Oloroso Sherry casks, and bottled at the cask strength of 55.9%. Full-bodied, rich, and spicy, the palate brings forest fruit sweetness with lingering orange and warming spices. Perfect for Autumn.

Old or New Old Fashioned

Ok, I’m a fan of the classics. From Fall of Rome to Poseidon – as a sailor, his ability to create storms was a note to tread softly. Don’t forget the queen of the sea Amphitrite, or Escoffier the king of chefs and chef of kings…finisher of French mother sauces that are the basis for France’s stunning classical cuisine.

That also applies to Cocktails! Yep, classic cocktails. None more so than the Old Fashioned, named around 1880. Now there were claims from Kentucky to New York as to the original creator. No matter who it was, we are all grateful, as it’s one of the top most popular cocktails in the world!

Ok, so my point is there are many new variations, some ok, some good, and some brilliant ones. I am currently enjoying exploring it with Stalla Dhu Glenrothes Late hour port cask. That really hits the spot! More about new styles later, this is about my venture into classics.

So I’m in Edinburgh doing a little research *wink wink*, I decided to go for an old-fashioned solo walking tour, why not, this is the best city in the World to walk around. Where to start though!? Since the high-end Hotels are proclaiming to be top of the game for cocktails, that’s where I’ll start.

The first stop was the Caley, or Waldorf Caledonian as it is properly known, the place of my first job as a trainee manager back in the ice age! Anyway, it is also a Waldorf (claimed as the first to serve the famous cocktail at its namesake in NY). I sat in lovely Peacock Alley and waited for my first of the day after a prolonged wait (apparently needed to find someone skilled), it arrived with a wee bit of orange rind floating over the correct block of ice. I asked which bourbon was used and the charming young lady left, and returned a few minutes later with the answer; Woodford reserve! Well done, pleasant, light on bitters, no orange oil detected but all in all, pretty good.

Next, off to what used to be her sister hotel at the other end of Princes Street, The Balmoral. Formerly the Victorian North British. In the now deco-influenced bar, I grab a stool, one of the few available. I was pleasantly attended to by the suited-up deputy manager. I ordered and watch the preparation. Let’s just say, the service is the best of the day…although I could have done without the cherries! Correctly proportioned, correctly stirred, correct block ice, and orange rind rub made with the very acceptable Angels Envy. The result was very good. Hope filled with enthused anticipation, I follow off to the next venue. 

It’s an uphill hike to Hotel du Vin. It plays double duty as I can have a cigar in their little Bothy, so that’s a bonus. I Settled down with my Placencia Orchant Seleccion as I awaited my third of the day. In the shelter of the windy weathered hut, I did sit next to the timer on the fireplace to assure continuity of comfort.

Now, this is one of my go-to spots in Edinburgh, so expected a good result. Unfortunately what arrived was rather void of flavor and my rather preoccupied waitress was unable to advise what the bourbon was. No matter, the small ice cubes were rapidly diluting what flavor may have been there. 

Anyway, disappointed, I enjoyed the rest of my smoke and headed to Apex back at the east end of Edinburgh where I had a room. It’s a newish, rather slick minimalist hotel, but very trendy. So I thought maybe a trendy old fashioned? Oh boy, I should end it here because nothing to say but wow. Dreadful, watery demise of one of the greatest of cocktails. Poor Makers Mark couldn’t save this from the soulless presenter of libations…agh!

Ok, we shouldn’t go out on this note, so let me tell you of two brilliant Variations!

The Puffin Rooms; Old Tabashioned Late Hour with Stalla Dhu Islay and Perique Tabac Liqueur and smoked Bad Bitch Old Fashioned with rum of same name aged in the Gulf of Mexico soaked wine barrels made in Key West. Just wow.

Available at Cgars St James see Sam or fabulous Puffin Room in Liverpool where Lucy or Mark offer up superior-cocktail making skills

New or old, Sláinte to a cocktail for the generations.

 

RM

Skipper

Stalla Dhu arriving at The Mash Tun

The Mash Tun in Aberlour

One of my favorite places on the planet is Aberlour, the pulsating heart of Speyside! ”Whisky Capitol of Scotland’, perhaps even The World. 🙂

This lovely town is situated on the fast-flowing, ever-stunning, famous river Spey. On my trip up from Edinburgh on the A9 in torrential rain and flooding, it looked like the Highlands were discouraging my venture north! However, as I followed the road thru the beauty of the Cairngorms wee bits of sunshine started peaking thru and moist air made way to a fresh warming as the light bounced off the purple hills. By the time I made my descent into Aberlour the sun bathed the town, and I felt the warmth of its welcome embrace! Confirming in me this visit, as with all others, is excitingly satisfying. 

Heading directly to my favorite Scottish whisky bar, The Mash Tun! Wow, this place is just full of character. The Tun’s character is housed in an Iconic ship-shaped building designed by an old sea Captain in 1896 who missed the sea. James Campbell successfully created a maritime feel with views of the passing river. As a sailor and sea captain myself, I feel very much at home here. 

I am also extremely excited to add to the Tun, a selection of Stalla Dhu’s award-winning single cask whiskies to compliment their already stunning selection. 

If you need recommendations, chat with the brilliant whisky man Ryan and he’ll be able to guide you.

Keep an eye on this great wee spot there is a ton of exciting things happening at the Tun in near future. Worth the journey and worth the pause to experience it!

Slàinte, Ron

Lochlea ‘Our Barley’ Single Malt Whisky

Another amazing family-run distillery crafting some fabulous spirits! We still have stock of their new ‘Our Barley’ release.

Lochlea is an incredibly rare entity these days in this industry, an independent family-run distillery. Without a large corporate hierarchy, it gives them more control over innovation and approaching their small batch production.

By using our own barley grown on the farm and our on-site water source, we have full traceability over the ingredients going into our process, allowing us a higher level of quality control and creating a flavour profile unique to Lochlea.

Lochlea Distillery

Our location offers the best of both worlds. Nestled in the heart of Ayrshire, we have beautiful rolling hills all around, yet are easily accessible from many of the major towns and cities in Scotland. Head north, and you’re in Glasgow in 30 minutes, south west and several scenic seaside towns along the coast.

Lochlea has set out to flip you preconceptions of Lowland whisky on it’s head!

Our Barley is the distillery’s first core single malt. Matured in first-fill Bourbon barrels, Oloroso Sherry casks and STR barriques. Bottled at 46% ABV and is non chill-filtered with no added colouring. Beautifully crafted by Production Director John Campbell.

Nose: Pear syrup, fruit bon bons, warm cut grass, marmalade.

Palate: Golden syrup, pepper, rye bread, macadamia nuts, cream soda.

Finish: A long finish with a lovely lasting orange beeswax note.

Grab your bottle HERE.

Chocolate Bitters From Snowdonia Distillery

Snowdonia Distillery has released new chocolate bitters under their Marsette Liqueurs label. This label has the Monsoon Coffee Liqueur and the Peruvian Chocolate Essence, both incredibly moreish with a rich experience. These new bitters were released to complement their liqueurs and help elevate your cocktail experience. As with their Chocolate liqueur, the bitters use the same Single Estate cacao from Peru. The chocolate from Tesoro Amázonica is of incredible quality and produced by fantastic folks who believe in creating a delicious product, as well as taking care of the community involved.

The quality of the chocolate really does come through in these products. If you’re in the market for some quality bitters for your home bar or at work, I’d suggest giving these Marsette bitters a go! We have been having a blast with a bit of trial and error in creating different cocktails with these. Snowdonia Distillery is a great craft distillery that puts out an array of award-winning products.

Available in a pipette or a spray option. Bottled at 7.1% abv. Shop Now.

Tomatin’s Final Warehouse 6 Release

The final release in the distillery’s outstanding Warehouse 6 Collection is available. This release was created from casks 32 and 33, which had been distilled over 45 years ago. Maturing peacefully the entirety of its life in hand-selected Traditional Oak Hogshead casks. These casks were married together resulting in only 350 bottles total. Bottled at 46%.

This release is absolutely an exquisite bottling that is going to be for those looking for an investment, or better yet, to drink on a special occasion. It is not getting past the fact that this is an über luxury bottle. If you find yourself in the presence of an open bottle, with the opportunity to taste it, I’m sure you won’t be let down! This release is in the company of only two other whiskies to receive a score of 99 from the International Wine & Spirit Competition.

This is the perfect expression to conclude Tomatin’s successful Warehouse 6 Collection. The first time I tried this whisky I knew it was something very special. Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy some extraordinary whiskies, but this one still stands out from the rest for me. Over four and a half decades of watchful waiting has seen this exclusive expression instilled with great complexity, yet it presents a tremendous youth and vibrancy which is a remarkable balance to achieve – I’ll be sad to see it go!

Graham Eunson, Tomatin’s Master Distiller
Each of the 350 units is decanted into an exquisite hand blown Glencairn Crystal decanter with unique copper decoration. This luxury bottle is presented with two glasses (also Glencairn Crystal), a solid copper stopper, along with a numbered certificate detailing the remarkable journey of the whisky.

In perfect harmony, aromas of strawberry liqueur, tropical fruits and roasted coconut balance out with an exotic spicy character. Golden syrup and marzipan add to the complexity, developing into rich chocolate, coffee and brown sugar on the palate. The exotic spices appear once again with a long, refined, lingering finish.

Tomatin Tasting Notes.

If you want to own a piece of whisky history, you can grab yours here!

New Releases from Snowdonia Distillery

One of favourite distilleries has just released not 1, not 2, but 3 new bottlings! The folks over at Snowdonia Distillery in North Wales have just given us 2 new variations of their El Rumbo Rums and 1 new addition to their Marsette Liqueurs. The distillery, who of course is responsible for Foragers Gin, put an incredible amount of time and heart into each of its spirits. They have taken multiple awards across the whole lineup, most recently a Silver for the Y Bēt Chocolate Vodka. The small team there really does an incredible job at bringing you the best that Wales has to offer.

In addition to the incredible gins they put out, the distillery team likes to venture into the more fun and unique side of spirits. As shown in their El Rumbo lineup by bringing in aged Cuban rum, then letting the rum rest in freshly emptied cognac casks. Now creating an Anejo and Coconut versions of their El Rumbo!

Now their Marsette Liqueurs are absolutely brilliant for the dessert cocktails we’ve been making around here. The Monsoon Coffee liqueur is incredibly moreish and makes a stunning espresso martini! So with the addition of the new Chocolate Essence liqueur it is going to make for some fun in house experimentation!

So, lets introduce the 3 new arrivals:

Ron El Rumbo Premium Cuban Anejo Oro Rum40%

El Rumbo Premium Cuban Anejo Rum is an expression that benefits from our Solera aging process at Snowdonia. Aged for three years in Cuba to then be transferred into our fresh cognac casks at Snowdonia. 

An aroma of classic desserts – sticky toffee pudding and vanilla fudge, this premium spirit is perfect to enjoy with a squeeze of lime and a Cuban cigar.

Nose: Toffee apple, vanilla fudge, hints of cocoa, cognac aromas. 

Palate: Soft, mouth coating, a cognac warmth with lingering apple and pear finish.

Ron El Rumbo Cuban Coconut Rum36%

El Rumbo Cuban Coconut Rum is an expression of natural flavours from the tropics.

Fresh Madagascar Coconut and Cuban Sugar cane combines aromas of fresh coconut milk, pineapple, and a refreshing sweetness.

This superior mixer can be enjoyed as a classic mojito or float it to enhance the flavour of a daiquiri. 

Nose: Coconut husk, Madagascan vanilla, candied pears, coconut milk and sugar cane. 

Palate: An ice cream texture with hints of walnuts and almonds. A palette coating, coconut milk finish. 

Marsette Peruvian Chocolate Essence30%

Marsette Peruvian Chocolate Essence is an enhanced spirit perfect for sipping over ice or enjoyed in cocktails.

The Single Estate Peruvian Chocolate allows for a light experience of 100% cacao with its nutty nature.

Nose: Dark chocolate, a clean break of fresh cocoa, slight hint of banana and freshly roasted walnuts aromas.

Palate: Soft sweetness of vanilla and cream, powerful dark chocolate and a long, viscous, warm finish.

So head over to pick up a new release or 2, so you have some incredible spirits for your summer cocktails!

Until next time.

-Andrew

Cù Bòcan Creation 3 & 4

We have received our shipment of the two newest Creation releases from Cù Bòcan. I am a fan of the Tomatin Distillery, so I was on board when I heard they were releasing a slightly peated range all those years back! They have most definitely come a long way in that time, with these 2 releases taking gold medals at this year’s San Francisco World Spirit Competition. When a distillery can step away from its “normal” way of crafting whisky to do something “experimental”, then succeed at that endeavor, I’m all for it.

Cù Bòcan is made with lightly peated Scottish barley and distilled in small batches every winter. The spirit is then put into carefully chosen casks that are not your run-of-the-mill combinations. Those cask decisions are what gives the finished product the uniqueness they are after. Resulting in a wonderfully balanced sweetness with whiffs of subtle smoke.

Creation # 3:

Moroccan Cabernet Sauvignon + North American Rye Casks

“The tastes and smells of a Moroccan Souk are brought to life with the exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon casks used for this innovative Creation. Light smoke with a touch of strawberries in balsamic vinegar, exotic spices, citrus and tropical fruits.”

Creation #4:

Tawny Port + Cognac Casks

“Our fourth Creation is a nod to The Antrim Cocktail, marrying two of Europe’s most revered drinks, Port and Cognac. The end result is a medley of plum jam, grilled peach, stewed forest fruit, cinnamon, and sweet campfire smoke.”

So if you are a fan of Tomatin Distillery and have not given this range a try, you should rectify that! The Highland sweetness you love, with just a hint of smoke.

Until next time!

-Andrew

Stalla Dhu Taking Home 2 More Amazing Awards!

The 2022 Whiskies Awards was another successful competition for the Stalla Dhu range! Two high awards have been given to the Caol Ila 11 year and Truth Be Told 22. With Caol Ila taking World’s Best Single Cask Single Malt and Truth Be Told taking Best Scotch Blended Limited Release. That’s an amazing showing from a small family built independent bottler. It’s fantastic to see the awards keep rolling in!

Fortunately/unfortunately, after the announcement all of the remaining Caol Ila sold out within a couple days! There are still bottles of the Truth Be Told in stock.

Truth Be Told 22:

Some famous distilleries are fiercely protective of their whiskies and adapted a process called tea-spooning; as in adding a teaspoon of another malt.

This is so ‘Independent Bottlers’ cannot call it a Single Malt or use the Distillery name.

This exceptional cask in its previous incarnations was known as ‘Wardhead’ and clues to its identity lie within the label.

Taste: Soft sophisticated spice, toffee touches, lovely lingering long finish.

2 New Releases from Snowdonia Distillery

New incredibly delicious releases from the folks behind the award winning Forager’s Gin! 2 unique spirits created to excite our taste buds.

1 gin and 1 liqueur!

These two are staying on the same path as all the other releases from the Welsh distillery. Quality craft spirits from a small team, using the best ingredients, to deliver their customers something special. From start to finish, the team there puts their heart and passion into every step of the process. I love when you find small distilleries like that!

The new additions are:

Forager’s Winberry Gin

“Foragers Winberry Gin encompasses the flavours foraged along our Welsh coast and throughout its cascading hills.

A complex blend which presents a profile of fresh citrus, robust berries and warming floral notes.

The Winberry is the most unique of berries, only being ready for one very short harvest a year. This then results in a very rare botanical to find.

It is stunningly sweet, small in size but generous in flavour with a long tart finish. A vibrant colour, candied like sweetness to an award winning spirit.

Celebrate this marriage of flavours with muddled blackberries, fresh mint leaves and tonic water.”

Marsette Monsoon Coffee Liqueur

“Marsette presents an artesian liqueur from the heart of the Indian Monsoon Rains – Handcrafted, copper distilled, small batch production.

We take the Monsoon Malabar bean to produce a coffee liqueur like no other. The bean swells in the humidity of the Monsoon Rains, allowing us to play with robust aromatic flavours, perfect for the mixologist.

The cold brew rests with a blend of Welsh Spirit and Madagascan Vanilla essence, creating a subtle hint of Tiramisu and a long, mouth coating finish of whipped cream and blue agave. “