6 Fabulous Whiskies To Make The Holidays Better

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


Toffee apples on the nose and toasted caramel notes emerge beautifully. The palate is complex and rich with notes of nougat and woody tobacco hints. Definitely one of our favourite’s!

Kavalan Classic Single Malt Whisky – 40% 50cl


The Taiwanese distillery, despite only being in business since 2005, has stunned the industry with their young but full-flavored whisky, focusing on their distinctively enjoyable tropical fruit notes.

Nikka Miyagikyo No Age Statement – 70cl 43%


Masataka Taketsuru, known as the; Father of Japanese Whiskey; created Nikka in 1934. The Miyagikyo distillery, located close to Sendai in northern Japan, produces this rich, fruity, and smooth Single Malt which presents flavours of honey, citrus peel, and freshly cut grass.

The Lakes Whiskymakers Reserve No.5 – 52% 70cl


The fifth edition in The Lakes Whiskymaker’s Reserve series is a great example of an outstanding English single malt! This bottling presents a distinctively sherried style, bottled at 52% ABV and made using a combination of Pedro Ximénez sherry, Oloroso sherry, and red wine casks.

Legent Bourbon – 47% 70cl

Legent bourbon is truly unique while remaining true to the core of bourbon’s principles, bringing together over 225 years of bourbon-making heritage and nearly 100 years of Japanese whisky artistry. Partially finished in red wine and sherry casks, it has a complex combination of spice and fruity undertones.

Lindores Cask of Lindores STR Wine Barique – 49.4% 70cl


This is the second release in the Casks of Lindores series from Lindores Abbey distillery, and has been matured exclusively in STR (shaved, toasted; re-charred) red wine barriques and bottled at 49.4% vol. A warming, sweet dram with complex spice.

 

Alligators, Hurricanes, and Mojitos

What’s not to love about Florida!? Sub-tropical weather, sailing blue ocean, white beaches, and rum! My favourite Florida variety is Bad Bitch from Key West, which is well worth a trip! 

When I arrived for a wee break on the beach it was apparent that there were storms brewing in the Atlantic! Could there be a Hurricane heading my way? By Hurricane, I don’t mean the sugary New Orleans favourite that has contributed to so many “where am I” moments. 😉

Side note: I must say if they don’t use the obligatory mixes and do it classily with restrained use of Passion Fruit syrup you can get a rather splendid drink.

Anyway, real hurricanes are more scary than refreshing. When I realised one may be heading to the West Coast of FL, where our sailboat was resting comfortably under the care of Seaking, my son’s yacht management company. I thought ok, I’ll head out east to west.

Since I had time, I jogged north a little to visit our friends Rocky and Nish at Rocky’s rather splendid cigar bar ‘Burn’ located in the very entertaining Mercato Naples. I enjoyed a perfectly appropriate lancero by our proprietor and a rather pleasant Bacardi-based Mojito with just the right blend of sugar and mint. All cool here, let’s head South to check on that Beneteau ”Puffnaway “.

Arriving at the  Marina it was a beautiful sunny day, but there was a hustle about the place as it seemed more likely that the storm was heading this way.

So some hours after helping clean and prep the boat, for what we still hoped would pass us by…I hopped into the Marina pool for a cooling swim and a ‘boat‘ made Mojito.

Every sailor has a stash of rum and mine includes some that I have to carry with me from the other side of the Atlantic due to not being able to buy Cuban rum in FL. El Rumbo is to me the ideal base for a Mojito, 100-proof Cuban rum shipped to Wales that spent time resting in Snowdonia Distillery in freshly emptied Cognac casks, it punches through the sugar and mint with just the right balance of flavour and strength. Now storm concerns are drifting away…at least for me after the 2nd one…though the chatter and nervous energy around the Marina sense more.

That evening we enjoyed a family dinner with an array of nicely prepared fresh seafood at Fin Bistro and Antinori Pepoli Chianti, one of my favourites. After a peaceful sleep on the boat, we battened down hatches and left the rest to the professionals to get her ready to brace for whatever may come.

We are heading back east, away from the inevitable visit of Hurricane Ian. The best part of my exodus from stormy weather is one of my favourite Florida spots, which is on the way, Everglades City! This Stone Crab capitol of the World has so much to offer Alligators, Airboats, and Awesome fishing in 10,000 Islands. This little historic town, once Calusa Indian territory, houses the rather splendid, although admittedly a touch tired Rod and Gun Club.

 

As you step through the doors you step back in time. A dark embrace of nostalgia floats the hallways with stunning taxidermy and relics of its illustrious past as a premier fishing hunting lodge. We sat down and shared the best of the season (stone crab season hasn’t started), so fresh out of the Everglades sautéed alligator, fresh local frog legs, and blackened Hogfish will do just fine thank you!

Before we embark on our journey back East, I spend an hour or two in my favourite of swimming pools, now don’t ask me why. Sitting to the side of the R&G Club it’s a relic that I treasure, a stone waterfall and rough stone coping. It’s certainly not everybody’s favourite but then again it’s one of the reasons I love it.  Mostly it’s mine alone or shared with a couple local kids, but perfectly cooling from this hot balmy air.

Now there are no cocktails available at R & G club, however resourceful I am and thanks to my wife picking up mint at Seed to Table. With a little rum and soda from the bar, I have my primitive but tasty Mojito in the pool while enjoying an Oliva Orchant seleccion cigar. Tell me that’s not living!

So now back across alligator alley to our wee spot on the beach, where I’m sure I have some rum! Oh, maybe not, might have to fly back to Blighty to stock up!

I did find some El Rumbo Coconut rum made with fresh sugar cane and fresh coconuts…makes a lighter more tropical variation Mojito. That saved the day.

-Ron

 

 

*Update: Hurricane Ian devastated part of Florida’s west coast. While we escaped with only minor damage, our prayers are with those who lost families, homes, and boats.

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