Scotland trip 2014 – part 4: South of Islay – touring Lagavulin, Laphroaig and Ardbeg

Ardbeg Distillery Courtyard

Day 9: Islay

Even on a small island like Islay you can spend quite some time in your car getting to places – especially when you’re staying on the opposite end. Thus it only made sense for us three brothers to spend an entire  – hot and sunny – day touring all three distilleries in the south, starting early in the morning at Lagavulin.


Freshly painted Lagavulin Distillery
Freshly painted Lagavulin Distillery

Lagavulin, like Bunnahabhain, is a less “touristy” distillery. Not as posh and polished as others with a kind of “old-school” feeling to it. Old, simple, painted steel staircases, narrow paths – putting the working environment first and the tourist attraction last. The charming insides speak volumes about the decades and decades of use and the history of the place, as well as a need of investment in some areas. But, on the other hand, why bother, tourists aren’t allowed to take pictures anyway and Scots are known for being stingy 😉
Anyway, out tour guide for the day was a charming young lady named Sophie and we were in luck, it was yet another very small group. The tour certainly felt positively different from all the others, Lagavulin really has a special “feel” to it, probably due to the old-style, unpolished charm of the place and the narrowness full of nooks and crannies. Continue reading “Scotland trip 2014 – part 4: South of Islay – touring Lagavulin, Laphroaig and Ardbeg”

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NAS vs age statement whiskies – what it’s all about

NAS vs. Age Statement
NAS vs. Age Statement
A random selection of whisky bottles carrying or missing an age statement

Which side of the “NAS vs. Age Statement” debate are you on? Do you boycot NAS whiskies? Do you buy everything you find tasty regardless of what it (doesn’t) say on the bottle? The heated arguments have been cooking for quite a while now and I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about this minefield for quite some time. I’m a bit late to the party, I know, but I really wanted to make a post painting the whole picture about the topic. In case you’re new to the scene: “NAS” stands for “no age statement” whiskies.

1. Why NAS Whiskies?

First and foremost: Whiskies without an age statement on the label are not a new thing. In the area of blended Scotch they make up the vast majority and have been on the market ever since the first Scotch was bottled (or sold by the barrel to the consumer in times long gone). As far as Single Malt Scotch Whiskies are concerned, we’ve had a long timespan now where almost every bottle carried an age statement and the marketing people wanted us to believe that older is  better (and thus has to be oh so much more expensive). But there have been NAS whiskies long before the current flooding of the market. I’m thinking about Ardmore Traditional Cask, the Springbank/Longrow/Hazelburn C.V. mixed-vintage bottlings (now replaced by similarly good NAS bottlings) or Laphroaig Quarter Cask. These are just three examples of whiskies without an age statement that offer(ed) a quality product at an affordable price point and there are many more. Continue reading “NAS vs age statement whiskies – what it’s all about”

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Tasting: Arran Tweet Tasting, including: Sauternes Finish / 18yo limited edition / UK exclusive 13yo / 1st White Stag bottling

Arran Tweet Tasting
Arran Tweet Tasting
All set for the Arran Tweet Tasting!

On the 22nd of April 2015 whisky geeks on twitter followed the call from Steve Rush (@TheWhiskyWire) and @ArranWhisky to taste four different drams from the beautiful distillery on the Isle of Arran under the Hashtag #ArranWhisky
Thanks everyone involved for the great time and organising the event – looking forward to the next tweet tasting!
You can find detailed tasting notes on all the drams we tasted on the night below. (The 18yo tasting notes are a bit expanded from my original review on this site, no need to completely rewrite them 😉 )
Also see my travel report here for more information about the distillery. Continue reading “Tasting: Arran Tweet Tasting, including: Sauternes Finish / 18yo limited edition / UK exclusive 13yo / 1st White Stag bottling”

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One year blogging anniversary

Lots of barrels to still stick my nose in and tell you all about it!

It is exactly one year to the day since the first article was published on the blog:

In the past year there were 68 whisky reviews, 3 dedicated picture posts and 12 miscellaneous articles.

I am very happy to report I am still staying true to my initial vision: An industry-independent blog, focusing on reviews of drams and stating my thoughts. The site is also completely free from advertising and the big corporate Analytics networks tracking us all over the web. I am very happy with the way it is progressing, visitor numbers are on the rise (especially the last 3-4 months) and the feedback is amazing.

There are still some areas with room for improvement. I haven’t completed the 2014 Scotland travelogue series, I haven’t managed to put up a report from any of the events I attended. I was just too busy chatting and dramming to think about taking pictures. Sorry about that. There have also been less articles on current topics and issues than I would’ve liked, but there are only 24 hours in a day.
I’m hopeful I’ll manage to post more general articles in the next 12 months and I hope I can expand my reader base the way it has been going for the last several months. I will definitely carry on publishing 2 tasting notes per week (Sunday and Wednesday) with the odd review and whisky related picture sneaking in here and there off schedule.

Thank YOU for all your support, may it be comments, suggestions or samples. If you haven’t done so already, please like and share the site on Social media and keep the feedback coming!

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Scotland trip 2014 – part 3: Islay (including Caol Ila, Bowmore, Kilchoman)

Kilchoman distillery. The stillhouse in the front and the kiln in the background

Day 7: Islay

Leaving Kennacraig on the Hebridean Isles
Leaving Kennacraig on the Hebridean Isles

Leaving the marvellous Isle of Arran behind is never easy, but the prospect of landing on the shores of Islay in a few hours time made it a wee bit easier for the three of us. After making our way over to Claonaig by ferry from Lochranza and a taxi ride with David Bridge, we arrived at Kennacraig to board the good old Calmac vessel “Hebridean Isles”. The 2-hour trip on the boat was very smooth as the sea was really calm so we arrived in Port Askaig right on schedule where our car from D&N MacKenzie was already waiting for us. By the way: Great service from them – when you need to hire a car on Islay, I can recommend them!
What next? A distillery visit, of course!

Video: Arriving at Port Askaig Continue reading “Scotland trip 2014 – part 3: Islay (including Caol Ila, Bowmore, Kilchoman)”

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Building your own whisky library

Whisky sample library
(Whisky samples from the shop for illustration purposes)

We all know the feeling: We’ve gone down to the dregs of a great bottle of malt and we wish we could preserve it. Well, why don’t we? It’s actually really simple to do so and there are two ways:

1: Some people always buy three bottles (or more). One to drink, one to keep and one to swap. This is the best case scenario but obviously doesn’t work for everyone given the massive investment, money-wise and in storage space required.

2: Just decant some into sample bottles and build your own archive.

Let’s explore the possibilities of option number two a little further: Continue reading “Building your own whisky library”

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2014 in review, my personal awards and what’s coming in 2015

A look back on 2014

With the sound of (early) fireworks outside I’m sitting down with a wee dram to recap the year 2014. What a great year it’s been! It was the first year of writing my own whisky blog and the response from you guys has been overwhelming! Thanks to everyone who commented on facebook or twitter and thanks for the great conversations and laughs we shared along the way!

In the past year I’ve managed to publish 38 thorough tasting notes on my blog. Actually, they’re more than just tasting notes, they’re in-depth whisky reviews, but I like the sound of the term tasting notes much more. I’ve also managed to write a few articles and travel blog entries. I’ll admit, I planned to do much more articles (and tasting notes), but there’s only so much time, too many other hobbies and activities taking up the time. But I already have plans to focus more on my whisky blog and the article side of things next year. But more on that later on. Continue reading “2014 in review, my personal awards and what’s coming in 2015”

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Scotland trip 2014 – part 2: Glasgow, Auchentoshan, Arran

Link to part 1

Day 4: Auchentoshan

Auchentoshan distillery
Panoramic view of Auchentoshan distillery

Day four of our brotherly Scotland trip 2014 would finally see us visit our first (open) distillery, Auchentoshan. A first for Peter the wee one of us. If you’re in Glasgow and you want to visit the distillery, follow the following advice we received from locals (namely Pete and Andy from Inverarity 121): Forget taxis or buses or whatever – take the train! The local train service from Glasgow’s Queen Street station takes you to a station in the middle of nowhere called Kilpatrick. Take a left hand turn at the intersection of the footpath until you reach the motorway and then proceed for a few hundred metres back towards Glasgow. Continue reading “Scotland trip 2014 – part 2: Glasgow, Auchentoshan, Arran”

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Scotland trip 2014 – part 1: Traveling, London, Glasgow


Going backpacking
Going backpacking

I love Scotland. I love the countryside, the culture, nature, the people who are similar to my own folk, and – of course – the whisky. When I was up there last year with one of my two brothers, Johannes, I immediately knew I would be coming back. As it so happened the wee one of us three brothers, Peter, graduated from secondary school this year so we arranged a “little” trip in celebration of the occasion. Well, this “little” trip in July 2014 would in the course of nearly three weeks lead us from London to Inverness and back, visiting 15,5 distilleries along the way – that’s over 10% of all working distilleries in Scotland… By “we” I of course mean us three brothers – the wee one, Peter, the middle one, Johannes and me, Klaus, as the leader of the pack.
It was a backpacking trip, thus we traveled lightly – at least on our way up, filling our luggage with whisky along the way. Obviously. We stayed in hostels (and one b&b), sometimes preparing our own meals and, with the exception of Islay, where we rented a car, relied on trains and buses for the majority of our travel. I prefer public transport whenever I can and Interrail is a great and cheap way to travel all across Europe.

Day 1: All across Europe

Continue reading “Scotland trip 2014 – part 1: Traveling, London, Glasgow”

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Tasting: Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2004

bruichladdich_islay_barleyDram data:

Distillery: Bruichladdich
Bottler: Official bottling
Distilled: Dec. 2004
Bottled: 01.10.2011
Age: 6
Limitation: 6000
Price at the time of purchasing: 57€
Casks: (most likely refill ex-bourbon – my best guess)
Alcohol: 50%
Unchillfiltered & natural color
Whiskybase link

(Blind) Tasting notes:
Colour: White wine – refill’ish. Very delicate and subtle on the nose with quite a big amount of alcohol influence.
Continue reading “Tasting: Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2004”

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