Jo’s corner: Tasting the Golani double wood matured two grain Israeli whisky

Golani double wood matured two grain Israeli whisky

Produced from malted Concerto barley and local wheat, and distilled in small batches using traditional copper pot stills, at an elevation of 1300 feet above sea level, Golani is branded as Israel’s first whisky. It won bronze in the Whisky – Israel – Grain – NAS – 40% category at the IWSC 2018.

Golani double wood matured two grain Israeli whisky

Dram data:
Distillery: The Golan Heights Distillery
Bottler: official bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: –
Age: 36 months
Limitation: –
Cask: ex red wine (Cabernet) and new charred American oak
Alcohol: 40%
uncoloured

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Tasting: Tomatin 30 yo

Tomatin 30 yo

Sometimes you open, enjoy and share a bottle and completely forget to review it. This alsmost happened with this 30-year-old Tomatin. Originally opened for my 30th birthday it has become better and better through oxidation over the years. I guess now is the time to finally officially review it before there’s nothing left – which should already give you a hint…

Tomatin 30 yo

Dram data:
Distillery: Tomatin
Bottler: official bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: 11.02.2014
Age: 30 years
Limitation: –
Cask: European and American Oak casks
Alcohol: 46%
uncoloured / not chill filtered
Whiskybase link

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Tasting: Paul John 5 year-old Indian Single Malt Whisky by Cadenhead’s (b.2017)

Paul John 5yo by Cadenhead's

After the somewhat lackluster experience with the Rampur Select I tasted last week, let’s stay in India and look at this interesting bottling. Independently bottled Paul John, you say? How does that happen? Well, glad you asked! You buy some casks in India, have them bottled and shipped to Scotland, have some unlucky member of the warehouse staff empty all bottles into casks again, roll them into the warehouse for further maturation – and bottle the whisky once someone higher up in the food, err drink, chain decides to do it. Which didn’t take too long in the case of this 5-year-old whisky. Pretty easy, right? Let’s see if it was worth going through all that trouble…

Paul John 5yo by Cadenhead's

Dram data:
Distillery: Paul John
Bottler: Cadenhead’s
Distilled: –
Bottled: Summer 2017
Age: 5 years
Limitation: 360 bottles
Cask: Bourbon Hogshead
Alcohol: 57,4%
uncoloured / not chill filtered
Whiskybase link

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Tasting: Rampur Select Indian Single Malt Whisky

Rampur Select

Put your hands in the air if you’ve heard of this distillery before. Quite a few whisky nerds have tried the offerings of the “Paul John” or “Amrut” brands, which produce very solid drams, but Rampur? A first for me in any case. It’s produced by the Radico Khaitan group, a big player in the Indian “whisky” market, (in brackets because much of Indian whisky is made from molasses) this whisky doesn’t have an age statement and was launched as their first “true” single malt release in 2016. My sample is from one of their early batches back in 2016. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Rampur Select

Dram data:
Distillery: Rampur
Bottler: official bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: 2016
Age: –
Limitation: –
Cask: oak
Alcohol: 43%
colouring added / not chill filtered
Whiskybase link

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Drink your whisky samples!

Who doesn’t like whisky samples? Okay, most would probably prefer full-size bottles, but for most of us mere mortal lovers of the amber nectar, samples are a great thing.

We collect samples at festivals, we bring back home unfinished drams from tastings, we swap them with friends, we get them for free or we stash a way hidden liquid treasures of times gone by. Some of us might even keep an archive – a liquid sample library of all the bottles we’ve ever opened. Is there a whisky lover out there who doesn’t have samples?

I am a sample hoarder. I have brought back samples from my Scotland trips, from tastings, festivals and meetings with friends. I also keep a liquid library. I even bought a huge archive of 6 cl samples from one entire year’s worth of entries into the Malt Maniacs Awards when they were sold by a friend for a good cause.

Needless to say, in total that’s a LOT of sample bottles kicking around, stashed away, waiting to be discovered “someday”. And so late last year I made the decision to do something about the “backlog” and start drinking and enjoying my samples. What I did not expect was how mixed my experiences would be.

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Dramming with Keith part two – aka Blair Athol and the case of the strange butts…

Blair Athol 1988 27 yo

Another set of samples from one distillery – Blair Athol in this case – are sitting on my desk and my e-mail inbox is full with conversations with Keith Wood. That can only mean one thing: A sequel to the first series where we tasted six different Talisker drams is in the works.

Four drams from this one distillery, all distilled just a few days apart in the year 1988 but matured in different casks (all of which were butts of different varieties) and bottled between 25 and 27 years of age, which should yield some rather interesting comparisons. All bottles were entered into the 2016 Malt Maniacs awards, so if you want to go ahead and compare our scores to the ones by the official judges, head over to this page.

Now, without further ado, let the best butt malt win.


Blair Althol 1988 25yo

Blair Athol 1988 25 yo

1988, 25y, 59.6% ABV
21.10.1988 – 3.7.2014 551 btls
Casks 6920 & 6924 Refill Sherry Butts
Signatory Vintage CS for GI Jane (Fortune Taiwan)

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Dramming with Keith – Two malt mates, six Talisker expressions in a vertical tasting

Talisker 18 year old

It’s a few months after the 2016 Malt Maniacs awards. I’m sitting in Keith Wood’s den and we’re talking about the whiskies I’ve helped decant into sample bottles just a few months earlier. “You know, it would be interesting if we did a vertical tasting together and publish both our notes at the same time.” One of obvious candidates is Talisker, since there are no less than six expressions that were entered into the awards. A plan is hatched, samples are filled – and about a year (or so) later, the day is finally here: A vertical tasting of the following six Talisker Expressions: Skye, Storm, Dark Storm, Port Ruighe, 10 yo, 18 yo. Let’s do this!

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Distillery construction site bagging – a day trip to the new Lagg distillery on Arran

It’s the 22nd of May, 2018 and it’s been a few days since Jo and I left the Cotswolds Distillery in England. I’m once again sitting in Jo’s zippy Maizy Mazda sports car on a beautiful, sunny day – but this time we don’t need GPS navigation. We’re on the B-road that takes us from Campbeltown on the Mull of Kintyre, where we’re based for thewhisky festival, all the way up to Claonaig. From there we hop on the ferry to sail over to the Isle of Arran to catch an appointment with distillery manager James MacTaggart.

Quick lunch at the Sandwich Station in Lochranza after arriving on Arran
Quick lunch at the Sandwich Station in Lochranza after arriving on Arran

Our plan for the day is to get an update on the recently upgraded Arran distillery and then head down to the south end of the island to check out the construction site of the new Lagg distillery. Arriving at the Arran distillery we’re informed of a slight change of plans – James would arrive later in the afternoon so Jo and I are joining a regular distillery tour of the Arran distillery with tour guide Campbell first.

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Tasting: Dumbarton 1986 32 yo by Claxton’s

Dumbarton 1986 32 yo by Claxton's

I like ticking boxes. Especially if it means trying a whisky from a distillery I haven’t tried before – like Dumbarton. Founded in 1938, this grain distillery in Dumbarton, Scotland was closed in 2002 and dismantled a few years afterwards. This bottling by the independen bottler Claxton’s was distilled in 1986. I like 1986 – if only for the fact that it’s my birthyear…

Dumbarton 1986 32 yo by Claxton's

Dram data:
Distillery: Dumbarton
Bottler: Claxton’s
Distilled: 1986
Bottled: 2018
Age: 32 years
Limitation: 96 bottles
Cask: Bourbon Barrel
Alcohol: 57,1%
uncoloured/not chill filtered
Whiskybase link

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Are you sure we’re not in Scotland? – visiting Cotswolds Distillery

May 15th, 2018. It’s a glorious day, the sun is shining and I’m sitting in the passenger’s seat of  Maizy Madza, driven by my good friend Jo. We’re starting out on a two-week whisky tour, me being the designated drinker. The scenery is grandiose. Driving along small roads, following the directions of the lady living in my phone, I get to enjoy the beautiful Scottish countryside, wide fields, soft hills and glens. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, a distillery appears. “Cotswolds distillery”. Hang on, Cotswolds? That’s not in Scotland?! Indeed, we are in the heart of England, where Daniel Szor founded a distillery just a couple of years ago – 2014 to be exact. 

Cotswolds distillery, courtyard
Cotswolds distillery, courtyard. Production building in the front, administration building and old visitor’s center in the background

I’ve been following the distillery since its inception – and today would be the day I’d finally get to visit it.  We are met by “the man” himself – Dan Szor. He used to be in the financial trade but if you didn’t know, you couldn’t tell. An instantly likeable, charming man, with a sense of “real” honesty, friendliness and openness surrounding him, unbothered by corporate rules and scripted talk. The kind of man you can talk with for hours – which is exactly what Jo and myself are about to do!

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