Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Tasting: That Boutique-y Whisky Co. Ledaig 18 Years - Batch #3

The whisky Ledaig is known for causing quite the confusion because there is no longer a distillery carrying the Ledaig name, but it hasn’t always been that way.

Back in 1795, John Sinclair founded the Ledaig distillery, as the only distillery on the Isle of Mull.

For the last two century’s The Ledaig/Tobermory distillery has been silenced more than a handful of times and have experienced several different owners, who somewhere along the way, changing the distilleries name from Ledaig to Tobermory, and for a short period of time, back to Ledaig again. The distillery really didn’t stabilize until Burnt Stewart Distillers, who paid 600,000 GBP for the distillery and another 200,000 for the supplies of whisky, bought it back in 1993. Before that time, the Tobermory whisky was being released both as a single and a blended malt, while Ledaig purely was being produced as a single malt. Nowadays the brand name Tobermory is used for the distilleries un-peated malt whisky, while the peated whisky is sold as Ledaig.

Doing one of Ledaig/Tobermory’s non-production periods, the distilleries warehouses was sold and later rebuild as departments, that’s why the whisky produced at Tobermory distillery is being shipped to the mainland and filled into casks at Deanston distillery and
then transported onwards to Bunnahabhain on Islay for ageing.

That Boutique-y Whisky Co. Ledaig 18 Years – Batch #3
Single Malt Whisky

Distillery: Tobermory
Region: Islands
Age: 18 Year
Proof/ABV: 51,7%
DK Price: £90/766dkk
Release: Limited 921 bottle release

Points: 86/100

About the label art: Taken directly from That Boutique-y Whisky Company’s website:

The label of our Ledaig has a very angry man on it who seems to have had quite enough of Islay thinking they’re the last word in peated whisky and he’s going to set the record straight. How is he going about doing that? Well, he’s taught himself to fly and he’s got himself a massive sledgehammer, for starters…


Oak and coal up front, just like taking a sniff at a matchbox, really! Sweet peat smoke, tar and sea salt. Very similar to a Caol Ila 12, though I’m not picking up that familiar citrus note, instead I get grapefruit and overripe honeydew melon.

Mouth drying and tight in its expression. Licorice root, salty and peppery waves mingle around with anise and grapefruit.

Medium long peppery finish.

Review By: Hasse Berg
Photo by: (All rights reserved)

Son of Winston Churchill has kindly been granted permission to use the photo in this review. 


The Adventures Of Whisky Pete - Part #89

1792 Full Proof is definitely a slippery slope in to deliciousness 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Tasting: Orphan Barrel. Rhetoric 22 Years

“The Orphan Barrel Whiskey Co. was started to share barrels of delicious and rare whiskey, hidden away and nearly forgotten in the back of rickhouses and distilleries.
Stories of these lost whiskeys have become the stuff of legend. Our goal is to bottle these rare, small offerings for the world to try and for you to add to your whiskey collection.
Every Orphan Barrel whiskey is hand bottled in Tullahoma, Tennessee, to ensure that these rare whiskeys are treated with the care they deserve – because some of them will only be available once. And once they're gone, they're gone forever…..”

Please allow me to start this review off with a small family anecdote. When our family was gathered, and my father’s uncle has had a couple, he always started telling these spellbinding stories to us kids, and every single time, one of the other adults would look at him, saying out loud “Damn old man, you are lying through your teeth” to witch my father’s uncle would reply “So what? It doesn’t make the story less interesting, does it?”

Same rule seems to apply for The Orphan Barrel Whiskey Co. “Sure we are lying through our teeth, but the stories are great, right?” And the truly are, and I might add, very effective as well. Because, even though bourbon fans are gathering from all parts of the world, to take a swing at spirit giant Diageo’s Orphan Barrel Whiskey Co, The Orphan Barrel expressions are gone almost as soon as they hit the shelves, and are being collected, flipped and discussed like “almost” no other whiskey-brands releases out there. Apparently, bad publicity is better than none, and all the hype, fuss and buzz make you even more curious, doesn’t it?

If we for a minute turns the other cheek to Diageo’s marketing spin, though admittedly it is pretty hard to do, the age statements alone, defiantly makes for an interesting tasting, but I have never had the opportunity to taste any of the Orphan Barrel releases because they aren’t available here in Denmark. But recently a whiskey buddy of mine, kindly send me a sample of this 22 years old Rhetoric.

The Rhetoric is said to have been “discovered” in warehouses at the Stitzel-Weller facility in Louisville, Ky, and distilled in both the New and Old Bernheim distilleries in Louisville.

The 22 Years Old Rhetoric was released in 2016 as the third bottle in the Rhetoric series, which started with the 20 years old back in 2014, and are going to end in 2019, with a 25 years old edition.

Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 22 Years

Bottler: Orphan Barrel Whiskey Co.
Mashbill: 75% Corn, 13% Rye & 12% Barley
Cask: New Charred Oak
Age: 22 Years
ABV: 45.2%
Price: $120USD
Release: Limited 2016 release

Points: 89/100

Deep notes of dark caramel and brown sugar are dominating the nose with toasted oak, vanilla and leather in the background. It’s sweet and fruity, though I can’t put my finger on any of the specific fruit notes.

To tell you the truth, I had absolutely no exportations what so ever in regard to this whiskey, except that it probably would be overly oaky, but I actually find the oak to be very well integrated and pretty balanced, all things considered.

Oily and chewy! More oak, cream caramel with vanilla ice cream and lemon. Nutmeg and clove are leading you towards the finish.  

Long. The oaky taste is now more present in the finish with mint and peanuts.

Overall impression:
Admittedly I’m pleasant surprised and glad that I had the opportunity to taste this whiskey. Would I buy a bottle at retail price if the opportunity was granted to me? Well…Actually… Yes, I would. But, for our American readers, please notice that the $120USD this bottle was priced at retail is the same amount of money we pay for e.g. Baker’s 7 years old here in Denmark, and since the Rhetoric 22 isn’t available here, it’s really a poor comparison. But since “the buy/don’t buy, is it worth the money” question always comes up when talking about Orphan Barrel, I kind of felt compelled to answer it. 

Review By: Hasse Berg
Photo By: Linus Johansson

The Adventures Of Whisky Pete - Part #88

Whisky Pete loves a good rum. Especially an old one... Cheers

Monday, May 7, 2018

Tasting: Douglas Laing's Old Particular. Ben Nevis - 14 Years

Ben Nevis is sadly an often-overlooked whisky and in my book a real hidden gem.
One of the reasons people aren’t paying Ben Nevis attention, is mainly due to a poor ownership strategy, or simply because the owner doesn’t care too much about building the brand, because most of the whisky produced at Ben Nevis is being exported for Japanese’s blends, so why bother spending money on advertising, a proper visitor center and maintain a webpage - which by the way, looks like it was last updated somewhere around the millennium - when you don’t really need too?

Besides the regular 10 years old Ben Nevis and their blended whisky; Dew of Ben Nevis, there haven’t really been many official distillery bottles available in the recent years, but luckily the independent bottlers know there’s a lot to gain from Ben Nevis and have released their fair share.

Douglas Laing’s Old Particular. Ben Nevis – 14 Years
Single Malt Scotch Whisky – From a Single Cask
No Coloring/No Chill Filtration

Distillery: Ben Nevis
Bottler: Douglas Laing
Region: Highlands
Age: 14 Year
Proof/ABV: 48,4%
Distilled: June 2001
Bottled: August 2015
Cask: Refill Hogshead
DK Price: $107USD/650dkk
Release: Limited 348 bottle release

Points: 87,5/100

Floral, sweet malt, honey, orange marmalade and pineapple.  

Tropical juicy. Lemon, apricot, raw sugar and a hint of the pineapple in the back

Crisp medium-long finish: Fruity sweet with citrus fruit and a bit of cinnamon at the tail end.

Photo & Review By: Hasse Berg

The Adventures Of Whisky Pete - Part #87

Oh my... These picks from 1789b... They're no joke. Heavy oak and a sweet, cooked brown sugar nose.


Monday, April 30, 2018

Tasting: Talisker. Port Ruighe

Talisker was built as the only distillery on Isle of Sky in 1830 by brothers Kenneth and Hugh MacAskill. Over the next two hundred years the distillery change ownership more than a handful of times, until Scottish Malt Distillers (predecessors of Diageo) bought the distillery in 1930. Diageo remains the owner today. In 1960 a large fire damaged the stills and the distillery had to close down for the next two years.
Talisker malted their own barely until 1972. From then on, the barley was malted
at Glen Ord in the Highlands. Talisker’s barley shares the same peat level as Lagavulin; 22PPM.

In 1988 Diageo launched its six “Classic Malt” series, where Talisker 10 is included - alongside Cragganmore, Dalwhinnie, Glenkinchie, Oban and Lagavulin - making Talisker 10 one of the most famous scotch single malt whiskies in the world, and one that many whisky novices starts out with.

Talisker’s current range includes a 10, 18, 25 and 30 years old single malt whisky, and Talisker’s NAS expressions; Sky, Storm, Dark Storm, Port Ruighe, 57° North and Neist Point.

Talisker. Port Ruighe
Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Distillery: Talisker
Region: Island (Isle of Skye)
Age: NAS
Proof/ABV: 45,8%
DK Price: $74USD/450dkk
Release: Ongoing

Points: 81/100

Talisker’s Port Ruighe was added to their range back in 2013 – the same year Talisker released their Storm - as the only double matured/finished whisky in their portfolio, well besides their Distillers Edition bottles, which have been finished in Amoroso casks.

Port Ruighe has been matured in American Oak and European Oak refill casks, along with deeply charred casks and then finished in port casks, some claims, that we are talking Ruby Port, but Talisker hasn’t specified the exact barrel. It’s a NAS whisky, bottled at Talisker’s standard 45,85 ABV.

The port wine cask reveals itself right away and are dominating the nose. Plum, dark chocolate, and much lighter smoke than we have grown accustomed to from Talisker’s other expressions.

It is, not surprisingly, a sweeter Talisker than we are normally being presented with. Sweet Port wine and honey mixed with Talisker’s usual red chilli pepper note - thank god it’s still present – and salty peaty caramel.

Long sulfur peaty finish.

Overall impression:
I wasn’t overly excited about the Port Ruighe when I first opened it. Some wine finished whiskies got a tendency to go sour on the distiller and mask the distilleries flavor profile in an unfortunate way, and I believe this Talisker is a good example of that. But somehow, over the last six months or so, I still manage to get past the halfway mark of the bottle, and yesterday I brought it with me, to our ester vacation in the cabin, to write this review.

Maybe it’s due to the fact that I’m on vacation right now, but the Port Ruighe has started to grow a bit more on me, and I don’t find it nearly as unsatisfying as I did when opening it.
But then again, I got a nice fire going, and I’m writing this review, with our old dog at my feet, and the night is slowly settling in while the rain is pouring down outside, so everything in its right place, right Tom? 81 points, let’s move on shall we….

Photo & Review By: Hasse Berg

Monday, April 23, 2018

Hired Guns

About a year ago I wrote an article about my growing concern for a new tendency among my fellow whisk(e)y bloggers but decided not to publish it, because I was concerned that I might appear supercilious.

Ever since writing the article, the tendency only seems to have increased, gaining a foothold, allowing the beast to grow stronger, so maybe, after all, it’s time to speak my mind.

Over the last couple of years, a large numbers of new whisk(e)y bloggers, whisk(e)y critics, whisk(e)y podcasters, and whisk(e)y writers have crawled out of the woodworks and joined the game, and that’s all perfectly good news, the more the merrier! But among them, lives a new breed, whose prevailing moral and ethics seems to be all about what they can gain for themselves, instead of what they can give, in the end, letting the consumers pay the price.

Whiskey continues to grow in popularity, and every single day a new whiskey fan is born. As a direct result of this, more and more whiskey enthusiasts are reading whiskey blogs. Again, this is all good news, but the marketing department of a wide variety of whiskey brands are beginning to realize that the consumers have changed direction, and are heading for the online whiskey blogs, so instead of focusing entirely on expensive advertising in the printed whiskey magazines, they are now trying to buy their way into whiskey blogs, by offering bloggers free products or money.

The whiskey industry itself is defiantly not blind to the facts that whiskey has become a lifestyle, and an increasing numbers of consumers are going from “being the guy who use to pick up the same brand of whiskey at the local grocery store”, to someone who is developing whiskey into a passion, and is educating themselves by reading about whiskey. That's exactly why the industry is paying attention to what the bloggers have to say. Otherwise, I highly doubt that they would care one bit about, what any given blogger has to say about them or their products.

Some bloggers have already ceased the opportunity to make a fast buck while the party is still going strong, by advertising and speaking highly of products and brands. I know for a fact, that some doesn’t seem to think that there is any kind of problem in this development, but I strongly disagree. Because as soon as we allow brands to pay us cool cash or sending us free stuff in return for branding their products in a positive way, or we no longer are able to speak our minds freely without thoughts for pleasing anyone or saying things that could damage our relationship between ourselves and a brand name, or we simply withdraw ourselves from pointing out the negative things about any given whiskey or brand, we lose our integrity. Because, if we don’t point out the flaws, how can anyone trust us, when we say that something is great?

Whisky bloggers who are accepting samples or sample bottles to review isn’t necessarily a problem on its own, as long as the bloggers are absolutely open about their relationship, and are willing to accept the product in exchange for a fair, honest and impartial review.
But if the readers/consumers aren’t being represented by honest opinions and reviews, and the bloggers aren’t offering their readers full transparency, in the end, the readers are being tricked into spending their hard earned money on a whiskey, that might is of less quality than the blogger made it out to be.      

I truly believe that whiskey bloggers do have an important saying and are the watchdogs in the world of whiskey, but if we start to take their bait, we are simply becoming puppets on a string, and that would be the end of the independent whisky blogs.
The independent whiskey blogs are written by fans for fans, and if we are all slowly starting to become spokespersons for the whiskey industry and start to speak highly of brands that are paying our rents, we might as well close up and throw away the key.

My hope is that we all start using our better judgment and common sense before the damage is done and that the consumers are considering who they are taking advices from.