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…
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
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?
Dram data: Distillery: Rampur Bottler: official bottling Distilled: – Bottled: 2016 Age: – Limitation: – Cask: oak Alcohol: 43% colouring added / not chill filtered Whiskybase link
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.
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 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)
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!
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.
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.
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…
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
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.
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!
There are two reasons to visit the Limburg Whisky fair – the first one is the people you meet, the second one is the whisky that’s available there. This Johnnie Walker Red label, bottled in the 30’s or 40’s (let me know if you can narrow it down further), is an example for the latter. Never having tried an old version of this extremely well-known blend I thought it would be a good investment of 10€ for a 2cl sample… let’s give it a try, shall we?
Colour: light amber
The nose reminds me of an old mechanic’s workshop. A concrete floor soiled with several decades worth of oil and grease and freshly spilt cherry syrup mixed with extra dry vermouth. Lots of vermouth, actually. Perhaps the tiniest hint of smoke? Alcohol is noticeable on the nose, albeit only slightly. This has absolutely nothing in common with the modern variant, except for being on the “light and easy” side of things but let’s keep in mind that this has been sitting around for decades in unknown conditions and I’m lacking comparison. Let’s move on to the palate!
On the evening of the 19th of September I had the pleasure to be invited as a guest at the Maltman Mike and Friends show on Youtube. 8 drams tasted live on camera with a quiz – what’s not to like? If you missed the live show, you can go watch it below. While you’re at it – please give the video a like and subscribe to the channel!
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