£30-40, Blends, Ireland

Writers’ Tears Copper Pot (Walsh Whiskey)

writers-tears

A blend of single malt (60%) and single pot still (40%) whiskey but no grain. The Writers’ Tears is triple distilled, non-peated and matured in American Oak bourbon casks. A gold Medal winner at the International Spirits Challenge in London and one of the highest rated Irish Whiskeys in Jim Murrays Iconic “Whiskey Bible” it also features in Ian Buxton’s publication “101 Whiskeys to try before you die”.

Nose: Fruity with both apples and pineapples. Underlying mintyness with chocolate, like after eight mints.

Palate: Sweet warm rhubarb sprinkled with sugar

Finish: Boozy hot chocolate

Price: around £35

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Blends, Over £100

Cutty Sark 33

Picture: Cutty Sark
Picture: Cutty Sark

Colour: Polished Copper

Nose: Very sweet on the nose, maple syrup, apricot, butter with a dash note of mixed spice.

Taste: Extremely smooth from its 33 years maturity. Brilliantly yummy on the palate we got mandarins with chocolate sauce and a spattering of pepper on top.

Finish: Very smooth creamy warming notes that are very long lasting.

Price: This extremely accomplished dram, with matching art deco glasses and book will set you back a cool £650. There is only 3,456 bottles released by Cutty Sark which might find itself snapped up by collectors pretty fast.

Shopping

Neat Glass

Whisky is whisky no matter what you drink it out of right? We at A Whet For Whisky have had it out of Beatles branded mugs, plastic cups and even the odd saucer.

But when it comes to drinking out a glass we thought it’s all the same. Don’t get us wrong a good nosing glass is much better than a thick tumbler. The shape made to funnel the aromas giving a greater appreciation of the nose.

When Neat Glass contacted us and said we’ve got something we’d think you’d like at first we were skeptical. Would it replace the floral shape nosing glasses filling the Whet For Whisky cabinet? Well we had to give it a go.

First impressions there is no annoying stem that frequently break on other nosing glasses. It has a slight funnel shape to collect the nose. But what’s with the wide rim all about? But then we found out after taking a quick dram of Highland Park and the legs of the malt beautifully flown down the edge of the glass round the curve of the glass.

The glass is sufficiently robust to prevent breaks without being too thick for warming and the shape of the base fits perfectly into the hand again making it easier to warm and release the flavours in your favourite dram.

Oh and yes in a braw wee wink to the home of whisky its profile resembles a thistle, national flower of Scotland. Clearly the designer has drank a great deal of the good stuff to appreciate what would make the perfect tasting glass.

We loved the new Neat Glass and would suggest you get out and try it to. After one dram in it you won’t being going back to anything else.

image

£30-40, Highland

Dalwhinnie 15

Picture: masterofmalt.com
Picture: masterofmalt.com

Nose: Very fresh but has slightly nutty tones. Like sitting out on a damp summer morning eating Crunchy Nut.

Taste: Very sweet almost treacle like. Has another fruity taste not unlike lychees. Will go down well with fans of Glenmorangie.

Finish: Unsurprisingly smooth after the taste, a little bit winey which is the only down point of this great example of the Highland style.

Price: For £35 a good standard buy and a must have for any Highland fan.

£30-40, Lowland

Glenkinchie 12 Year Old

Picture: whiskybarrel.com
Picture: whiskybarrel.com

Colour: Gold

Nose: An English country inn in the summer. Hoppy notes that you would expect on a micro-brew ale. Dig deeper to find floral notes from the beer garden.

Palate: Olde fashioned sweet shop, very sharp, a little sour not dissimilar to black wine gums but not quite as strong as a soor plum. Fair enough dram but not a huge depth to it.

Finish: Once again sharp on the finish, winey and a ticklish feather at the back of the throat. Lacking a real punch.

Price: £35, we were left a little flat by this dram with a lack of depth and knowing there was more exciting 12yo on the market.

£30-40, £40-50, Highland, Island, Islay, Speyside

What Whisky this Christmas? Part II – Scrummy Yummy

For the second of our festive shopping posts we have upped the game a bit. These malts are all leaders in the field but still amazing value at under £50. The problem you might have is giving them away…

Scrummy Yummy – Amazing value drams for less than £50

Highland Whisky

anCnoc Peter Arkle 2nd Release

picture: whisky-online.com
picture: whisky-online.com

A limited edition piece of whisky history this, surprising to find that there is in fact still some of these rare bottles available out there. This whisky is part of a set with packaging designed by the Scottish Illustrator Peter Arkle. You could say it’s a gimmick (it’s a gimmick) but open a bottle and you will find that inside the stuff is as nice as the drawings on the outside.

This was a surprise find for aWfW at the Glasgow Whisky Festival last year and enjoyed so much we went back for seconds. Just shy of the £50 price tag at some retailers, it has a good fruity and Christmassy feel to it. If you are a fan of Glenmorangie (a standard in any whisky collection) this will set you salivating for more.

Glengoyne 15 Year Old

picture: thewhiskyexchange.com
picture: thewhiskyexchange.com

Speak to any Glasweigan and they have all seemed to have visited Glengoyne at some point. It’s like a pilgrimage for the inhabitants of the dear green place and you can see why. Affordable delicious whisky in a beautiful setting at their distillery, heaven anyone? We hear if you are so inclined you can buy your own barrel of the stuff which gets you a formal member’s jacket, a bit like the golf Masters green jacket we suppose but maybe the philandering isn’t needed.

Rich, sweet and toffee tasting this has all the classic hallmarks of a good Highland whisky. It’s seen some of its years in a first-fill sherry cask making it extremely smooth for the age statement on the bottle. Pretty good for £50, visit the distillery and they will give you a fiver off.

Island Whisky

Scapa 16 Year Old

picture: masterofmalt.com
picture: masterofmalt.com

When drawing up this list we decided to have only one island whisky, so it was an extremely tough competition to pick out  a favourite. Ultimately after loving but leaving Arran, Jura and Talisker out we’ve settled on the Viking Orkney Islands. Trying to stand up for the lesser known, aWfW has opted for the smaller of the islands two distilleries despite Highland Park’s selection of fantastic whisky.

The Scapa 16 has been a firm favourite with us since it’s 2009 re-brand with its coastal strength, hints of sea spray and honey tones. You can’t argue that getting a whisky made in the 1990’s for less than £50 is a damn good deal and we are so glad the distillery was saved from certain closure almost ten years ago.

Speyside Whisky

Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask

picture: scotchnoob.com
picture: scotchnoob.com

The biggest of all the whisky regions we’ve narrowed down all that beautiful Speyside whisky into two famous distilleries who have put in a twist. First up its Balvenie with their innovative Caribbean rum cask finish 14 year old. Fruity and unsurprisingly like rum, this dram has a great smooth finish to it. Usually seen in shops at around £45 if you like the old sailor jerry (not the new stuff!) you’ll love this.

Balvenie make so many good whiskies that if this rum version doesn’t sound that appealing check out their double wood. This great little number has been propping up whisky collections since the year dot and we don’t expect it to go anywhere soon.

Abelour a’Bunadh Batch 46

picture: timeswhiskyclub.com
picture: timeswhiskyclub.com

Another limited run, the first batch of this stuff went on sale when Eric Cantona was still playing football, the Spice Girls topped the charts and a sheep in Scotland made history. Now in its 46th version you would guess they would know what they were doing and you’d be right.

The cheaper end of our selection this will come in at around £40 and features, as always a heavy sherry finish. Be warned this will put hairs on your chest due to its cask strength and you may wish to water it down a tad before launching straight in.

Islay Whisky

Laphroaig Quarter Cask

picture: laphroaig.com
picture: laphroaig.com

Lap-frog, L-A-POG, Laph-egg however you fail to name it correctly this modern classic from Laphroaig is enough to satisfy any peat enthusiast. Heat and sweet with the all familiar tones on TCP of the distillery make it a dram to remember. Un-aged but we heard from the those in the know that it spends five years in a cask before spending some time in a mini quarter sized cask hence the name.

The marketers have a nice wee story about the history of the quarter cask being used to avoid paying tax duties by whisky smugglers because they were easy to hide. True or not it’s great to drink and a bargain at £40. Sometimes seen on special offers at this time of the year keep your eyes peeled for a knock down bargain price.

Ardbeg Uigeadail

picture: masterofmalt.com
picture: masterofmalt.com

Named after the loch from which the distillery draws its water this incarnation is a powerful dram not for the faint hearted. Strong smoke tones ladled with malt flavours anyone who like heavy ale may also appreciate something like this.

As most of the delicacies in life are it can be an acquired taste but we don’t think that anyone who is seriously into their whisky will turn their nose up at this for £50. A sure fire winner of a gift this is our top recommendation for those who can’t even decide between the list of seven we have given you.

<£30, Island, Shopping, Speyside

What to buy this Christmas? – Bargain Buys

The nights are drawing in; you’re having to scrape your car every morning before skidding your way to work and all you really want to do is sit in front of a log fire with a good dram.

Never fear, Christmas is almost here with its many days of food and drink! Whether you are looking to buy a cheap bottle for that uncle you haven’t seen since last year or are looking for a scrummy malt to enjoy on a mince pie belly we have put together a series of Christmas shopping list of aWfW favourites. First up is our Bargain Buys and these are all much better presents than getting sports socks 2 for a £1 from the guy outside your local Aldi.

Bargain Bin – Great deals on bottles for around £25

Glenrothes 8 Year Old

photo from: masterofmalt.com
photo from: masterofmalt.com

It’s that age old argument you have with someone in a whisky pub every time you order a cheap dram. Age ≠ Quality. True the 25-year-old Glenfarclas is famous for its rich and silky texture but not all young whisky is to be cast aside like a disappointing pair of socks of Christmas morning that say ‘super dad’.

No longer available the 8 year old Highland Park by MacPhails’ Collection was one of such these gems. But never fear, the lads Gordon and MacP have realised another edition in their collection, this time the 8 year old Glenrothes. We tasted this last week and cannot believe the price for such an accomplished whisky. If you like fresh and fruity drams that still have the pepper heat (think Macallan, Glenlivet or Auchentoshan) this will be right up your street. Coming in at around £25-£28 this is super value from a distillery whose whisky is in high regard from famous blenders.

Ledaig Single Malt

photo from : masterofmalt.com
photo from : masterofmalt.com

Maligned in some whisky circles, the small Isle of Mull distillery still punches above it weight on the world whisky market. Recently bought over by the African drinks firm Distell as part of a £160m deal, Tobermory distillery still makes a decent range of whisky that will suit the pocket of even the shrewdest of shoppers.

Ledaig has recently been rebranded and rebalanced as the Ledaig 10 year old (£35), but there is also the standard Ledaig about at £20 a bottle.

A light and fresh dram, this malt is peated but not so much to make your eyes water. If your into your Islay whiskies this may leave you disappointed but if the thought of a peat bog in your mouth puts you off have a go at this instead of one of the more well-known ‘peaty whiskies’.

Old Pulteney 12 Year Old

Picture from oldpulteney.com
Picture from oldpulteney.com

A story of rags to riches this wick distillery hit the headlines in 2012 when it won award after award for its outstanding 21 year old. It was never had such luck in 1922 when the townsfolk of Wick voted to close the distillery doors after banning the sale of alcohol, a ban that lasted over 25 years, no mean feat in Scotland.

Despite being launched into the super stardom of whisky lovers last year the 12 year old version still sells for less than £30, last week we even saw a bottle at the bargain price of £24. Great to see that some distillers don’t just jump their prices for every ‘medal sticker’ they can stitch to the packet. This dram has the fantastic balance you never expected to see outside the 90 or so minutes of ‘Man on Wire’.

One question though is it pronounced Pul-ten-ey or Pult-ney? We’ve had whisky fans the world over tell the aWfW team off for pronouncing it both ways. We better ask Brian:

£30-40, Speyside

Balvenie Signature

balvenie-signature

Colour: Straw

Nose: Orange peel and that not too smoky flavour you get from blown out candles. Also has an unusual resemblance to fresh laundry to it. Not too harsh on the nose.

Taste: Prickly but in a good way, a smoky black tea served up in a country garden alongside a fruit cocktail. Tastes of lavender and meadows sit alongside pineapple and cherry. Sweet and morish.

Finish: Whiney and clingy. Disappointing given the great flavour on the palate. Has a strong after-taste of tea without milk in.

Price: £34 for this good dram, worth the value for the taste alone somewhat let down by the clingy after-taste in the finish

£30-40, Blends

Johnnie Walker Double Black

jw double black
Colour: Dark Toffee

Nose: A cleaning lady let loose in your local library – lots of TCP in there with the oakness of bookshelf and the smell of old books, you know the ones you find at the back of a cupboard. Also a bit of spice – peppery.

Taste: Bit like chewing on a piece of moss to begin with but develops beautifully into a prickly affair loaded with peat. There is a bit of leather in there as well as a very subtle taste of salty fish or seafood.

Finish: Extremely smooth for the initial peatiness – something rare to find in anything but the best Islay malts. Quite an uncomfortable cling to the mouth however and a strong aftertaste of brandy flavours.

Price: £32 not bad for a smooth peat dram but there are some very good malts out there that can be picked up for a similar price. Certainly worth a try, maybe a half bottle?