Friday, June 29, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #110

Benrinnes 15yo
Speyside Single Malt Whisky
43% abv

Flora & Fauna bookends to this week on the mission. Now listen, I fully acknowledge that this is not exactly a posh dram, no major climax to end the week. Well, sorry. Here's a criticism for you: Why haven't you sent me some of your Talisker 25 or Brora 30yo!!!? And what's your excuse, Diageo? Thanks to Royal Mile Whiskies for sharing this sample.

Ben Rinnes is the dominant mountain (Ben) that lurks over the heart of Speyside, standing to the east as you drive up the A95 from Grantown towards Aberlour. The distillery is far less beautiful than its surroundings, but it does have a few unique touches that add to its charm. Benrinnes uses worm tubs (like Cragganmore tasted Tuesday), used to use Saladin box maltings, and since 1956 has used an unusual form of triple distillation with 6 stills grouped in threes, similar to that of Springbank; one wash still, two spirit stills in each set. (What the hell is he talking about? Distillation stuff pretty well explained HERE) Take it away, Dave Broom (nerds only beyond this point):

"The higher-strength heads from the wash still go into one receiver, while the tails are diverted to another. The heads are then sent as a part of the charge to the second of the spirit stills. The tails, meanwhile, are redistilled in the intermediate sprirt still along with the foreshots and feints from its previous distillation. The middle cut is then collected to become part of the charge for the second spirit still along with the heads of the wash still distillation and the foreshots and feints of its previous distillation. This means that some of the new make will have been distilled 3 times, some of it twice."

Oh, one more thing of interest to some; Benr
innes has a long history tied to the Crawford's blended whiskies and is currently found in Dewar's, J&B, Johnnie Walker Red and Black.

A Benrinnes I had earlier in the Malt Mission can be viewed HERE. A website that inspired this blog's format talks about Benrinnes. A good weekend to you all.


Sweet molasses, fudge, room temperature butter. Saucy. Buttermilk, turning slightly vinegar-y to brown sauce, sweet and sour 'Chinese' food. Definite sherry presence.

Slightly sour off the top, sour candies. Builds in confidence becoming toasty and creamy. Sherry characteristics, prunes. Quite robust, dark chocolate and oak.


Not sure what Jim Murray and other critics of this stuff are on about, but this is a perfectly impressive whisky. Confident flavours, not too complex, but a sort of rich dried fruit creaminess and a fresh juiciness that is totally pleasant. To me.

Malt Mission #106
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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #109

Dalwhinnie 15yo
Highland Single Malt Whisky

43% abv



Some would approach Dalwhinnie and be convinced that it is the quintessential Scottish distillery. With twin pagoda roofs that can be seen from the motorway (A9), isolated in a glen surrounded by mountains, Dalwhinnie is the coldest inhabited settlement (less angel's share lost!) and the highest distillery in Scotland* situated 1073ft above sea level. The name itself also implies a history of whisky trading as Dailchuinnidh (roughly pronounced 'Dalwhinnie') means 'the plain of meetings'; the area was the junction of three cattle droving roads.

The famous distillery architect Charles Doig made some improvements on the distillery after some financial problems put the original owners out of business after only one year of operation. The stills fell silent after a fire in 1934, fired up again in 1938 and then a few short breaks for refurbishment in 1986 and 1992-95. These distilleries are high maintenance affairs!

Dalwhinnie is the 'Central Highlands' selection in the original 6 Classic Malts range (the other Highlander is Oban). It is apparently around the 20th most selling single malt worldwide and #4 out of the 6 Classic Malts. Dalwhinnie finds its way into Buchanan's, Black & White, and Haig blended whiskies.

* - Braes of Glenlivet (Braeval) is actually the highest at 1165 above sea level, but it is currently mothballed so Dalwhinnie holds the title.

Like yesterday, this whisky will be guest tasted by JM... no, not Jim Murray) :

Chocolate chip cookie dough, Caramilk bar, angel food cake, red (cherry
flavored) Kool-Aid

Pleasantly light and sweet, flavor isn't immediate but grows nicely like sucking a Werthers hard candy, powdered sugar, and wood (cherry blossoms maybe), organic peanut butter, homemade rum balls, leaves mouth dry like an Italian wine (a Chianti maybe?)


Satisfactory. Very straightforward, gentle and easy to drink. Starts smooth and sweet but finishes with some definite malt and oak "whisky" characteristics. Nice entry-level whisky but too much like candy for my tastes.

Malt Mission #106
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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #108

Caol Ila 12 yo
Islay Single Malt Whisky
43% abv
$58.90 (CAD)
$45 (USD)

Caol Ila (pronounced kull-eela or like THIS) means 'Sound of Islay' as it overlooks the narrow strip of water of the same name that lies between the islands of Islay and Jura. The phallic stills have a great view of Jura's Paps (mountains so named because of their resemblance to a pair of breasts), enough to keep them well excited over the years. It is one of two operating Islay distilleries owned by Diageo.

Built in 1846 and located on the north shore of Islay, near Port Askaig, Caol Ila's stills have fallen silent three times in its history: 1930-37, 1941-45, 1972-74. Like other Islay distilleries Bunnahabhain and Bruichladdich, when Caol Ila was built by Glasgow businessman Hector Henderson it created a full community of its own. Henderson went out of business in 1857 and the distillery was purchased by Bulloch Lade & Co. The Distillers Company Limited (DCL) took over management in 1927. Production continued with a few silent spells until 1972, when the entire structure of the distillery was demolished. A larger distillery was built, some say rather brusquely, and production resumed in 1974.
The old warehouses remain and bear the large black letters of the distillery name.

For many years, Caol Ila was the unsung workhorse of Islay distilleries and therefore doesn't enjoy the same celeb status that its neighbours in Bowmore and down on the south shore of the island do. It is the largest distillery on Islay and one of the largest that Diageo owns. The bulk of its output goes to blends and since 1999, they have produced whisky with unpeated barley for a few months each year, until recently used exclusively for blending (now some of this stock is released as Caol Ila 8 Unpeated). Caol Ila was available as a part of the Flora and Fauna series launched in 1989 as a 15 year old. In 2002 the 12, 18 and Cask Strength that we most commonly find on shop shelves were launched.

This whisky will be guest-tasted by my good friend JM who lost his truck but kept his life in an unfortunate car accident recently. The following are his impressions.


Salty sea air, peaty and smoky. Fresh air-dried bed sheets, sliced pear, granny smith apple peels.

Watery in the mouth but viscosity seems to increase with time. Instant smoke like a sudden wind change at a campfire, numbing and medicinal like Buckley's cough syrup, chewing on a Popsicle or lollipop stick, envelope glue.


This stuff inspires a lasting burn that leaves mouth and tongue tingly and sensitive like an hour after a trip to the dentist. Outdoorsy and rough even for a peat freak like myself.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #107

Cragganmore 12 yo
Speyside Single Malt Whisky
40% abv

$65.85 (CAD)
$43 (USD)

Diageo (UDV) introduced Cragganmore Single Malt to the wider world in 1988 as the Speyside representative in their 'Classic Malts' range. It is still seen by many today to have been an odd choice against the thick competition of Mortlach, Glen Elgin and Linkwood, other top class blending malts that were all up for the spot.

Diageo owns the products of more distilleries than any other company, but we should remember that just as Diageo has shares in other companies, other companies have shares in Diageo. So maybe it is not monopolistic, but business is a bitch. While we can thank Diageo for helping to raise the profiles of many single malts, bringing them to more people around the world, we can also blame them for closing well over a dozen distilleries since 1997.

Cragganmore was founded by John Smith in 1869. John had plenty of distillery experience having managed Glenfarclas, Glenlivet and Macallan. He chose the location because of the readily available peat, the surrounding fields of barley, a good (and dam-able) water source, and proximity to the new railway line. He was a big whisky man and he was a big weighty man (22 stone/308 pounds). Another big name had a hand in Cragganmore and that was famed architect Charles Doig who modernised the distillery in 1901. It was expanded from two to four stills in 1964. The distillery has been temporarily closed twice, 1917-18 and 1931-34.

Cragganmore has unusual stills that come to a T-shape, making them flat at the top (Reflux Bowls necks). This apparently has the effect of more reflux of the heavier, oilier vapours, causing them to be distilled again. It is seen by many as the most complex of all Speyside malts, but I am always amazed by how many people seem to hold Cragganmore in contempt, or something. Strange how that happens. Only recently has Diageo started to release any variable expressions of Cragganmore and perhaps with more releases this contempt will wane.

Trivia? 5 out of the 6 classic malts still use worm tubs (
a long, coiled copper tube, attached to the end of the lyne arm of the pot still, and fitted into a large wooden vat filled with cold water) to condense the vapours coming off the stills. Lagavulin is the odd one out. Many people still feel that the end spirit that condenses in a worm tub is quite different from spirit cooled by modern condensers, but who knows?


Enormous impression on the nose, full spectrum. A real beast to unpack... Mash room aromas of malt and yeast and sweet oatiness. Fruit, vanilla yoghurt, vanilla rooibos tea, banana peel. Sweet Oak, mouldy oak, green oak. Some smoke. Too lazy to go on, but certainly complex enough to fill a page with impressions.

Cooling. Hearty. Honey, apricots, toasted nuts. Plastic bags. Celery or some fennel. Chewy maltiness with smoke increasing through the bready finish.


Obviously the product of extremely well selected bourbon casks working in combination to create a complex but elegant malt. As I mentioned above, I am amazed that anyone could bad-mouth this whisky as it is a real prince among its Speysider peers.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #106

Pittyvaich 12 yo
Single Malt Whisky
43% abv

This week we are going to be tasting a group of Diageo-owed malts. Diageo owns several very big brands including Guinness, Bailey's, Smirnoff and Johnnie Walker. It is the biggest booze company in the world and has been a steady recipient of both criticism and compliment. More on Diageo's history as it relates to Scottish whisky as the week unfolds.

Dufftown is known as the capital of distilling in Speyside, and after Glendullan became the 7th distillery in the area in 1897 it is said that the rhyme "Rome was built on seven hills, and Dufftown stands on seven stills" began to circulate. Arthur Bells and Sons jeopardized the accuracy of the rhyme when they built Pittyvaich in 1974... Allt-a-Bhainne (1975) and finally Kininvie (1990) really pushed the ryhme into irrelevance. Thankfully, for those who love the Rome rhyme, distillery closures did help the accuracy return, but it didn't last very long.

Used for Bell's blended whisky, the first release as a single malt was in 1991 as a part of the Flora & Fauna series. Two years later the distillery was mothballed. For nearly 10 years the fate of Pittyvaich was undecided, sitting silent as a malt distillery but being used intermittently for trials of different distilling techniques. In 2002, the building was dismantled, equipment was sent to Clynelish, and the official status of Pittyvaich became 'demolished'.

There are several independent releases available from Duncan Taylor, Cadenhead's, and Gordon & Macphail's, among others.


Cinnamon, cooked pears, sherried sweetness. Buttery cookie dough, shortbread.

Slightly spirity but appetising. Toasty, stewed apples and pears, dry sherry. Digestives. Drying, leaving tastes of the smell of newpaper with some spiciness.


Pleasant enough with a good, sweet malted barley taste balanced against sherry and oak. Michael Jackson has called it "a Scottish grappa", and has meant no compliment by it. I wouldn't be so hard on this whisky. I have used it at tastings and it has gone down quite well with the crowd. I would call it a pudding-before-the-meal whisky. Sweet and spicy, but simple and dry, and subsequently quite nice to serve right before a meal over conversation, grapes and oat cakes.

Malt Mission #105
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Friday, June 22, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #105

Ichiro's Malt Queen of Hearts
Hanyu 1990 (2006)
Bottling 107/324
54.6% abv

I have had fun tasting this international week, but I look forward to getting back to Scotland where my knowledge base is much wider and I wont need to research/spend as much time as I had to this week. Learned a lot though, and hope you learned something too.

This is a single cask, single malt whisky from Hanyu, a distillery that WAS located in the town of the same name on the banks of the Tone river. The Toa company that owned the distillery went bankrupt and stopped distilling in 2000. Under new owners, the site was was completely dismantled in 2004. Ichiro Akuto, the grandson of the founders of the Hanyu distillery, managed to save the maturing stocks and is planning to set up a new distillery.

This is one part in a series of releases on a theme (I think you get it, with the whole deck of cards thing; Queen of Hearts, 2 of clubs, Ace of Hearts, etc.) Other releases tasted at the Whisky Pages. I will taste another soon.

Ichiro Akuto has been quite lucky that the maturing casks are apparently quite good and pleasing palattes the world over. More detailed information on Hanyu at Nonjatta,
the site for Japanese whisky (in English).

This particular cask was matured in an ex-bourbon Hogshead and then finished (what's this?) in an ex-Cognac French Oak cask. Again, big thanks to The Whisky Exchange for the taster.


Alive and energetic. Salt. Licorice. Spicy. Lime and cheescake. Wood, plaster, a building site. Some smoke that becomes more evident with water. As does an apple cider smell with more candied licorice, Bassetts Allsorts.

Soft, but active in all parts of the mouth, exciting. Plaster again, but a lot of oak and sweet pie-like flavours. Pecan pie.
Black wine gums, white wine, dry oakiness that rides onto the finish with fresh fennel and some more spiciness. With water it tastes just like a warm pecan pie with cream. Cafe au lait. Pleasant shisha smoke aroma. Finish is more apricot and soft old peach now. Empty glass minutes later has gorgeous filter coffee and brown sugar scents.


Exciting, adventurous whisky. Busy and a whole lot of fun to drink and talk about. Great packaging/theme labelling. Comparisons for context? Tough one...toughest one this week! Um, Dalmore, Old Pulteney 17, Cragganmore, and Glenlivet French Oak.
One complaint/question? The screw top. If someone is spending these prices on whiskies, rare whiskies, one hopes they won't be consumed quickly. Do these caps allow more or less evaporation in the bottle? Once opened? Might be a concern for consumers and/or collectors. Am I wrong? Be in touch/comment.

Malt Mission #101
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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #104

Mackmyra Preludium:03
Single Malt Whisky
52.2% abv


Founded in 1999, Mackmyra was first a small scale (30 litre stills) 'test-run' distillery that ran experiments for a few years before going into full production at the full-scale (8000 litre stills) site in 2002. From these experiments came a variety of recipes, of which two are used today: one untainted by smoke, and one 'peated'. The first is from barley dried with just hot air, and the other dried with some peat or bog moss AND juniper tree twigs. Everything is sourced in Sweden, from the water to the barley to yeast to the juniper... Truly Scandi.

Like Glenora Distillery in Nova Scotia, Canada (producers of Glen Breton Rare Canadian Single Malt Whisky), Mackmyra has attracted some critical attention from the Scotch Whisky Association because the 'Mac' in their name might mislead customers into thinking it is Scottish. Right, well we have Glens in Canada, too, if the big maple leaf and word CANADIAN on the bottle don't do the trick [maybe Glenora should get on Macallan's back about the big maple leaf on their new Amber liqueur, someone might think Macallan is Canadian(?)]. And which part of Svensk Whisky are they afraid we won't understand? Enough about that...

The Preludium series uses casks from the early experimental days and from the current distillery, with different casks, different malted barley, different cask sizes, different maturing locations... a bunch of variables with which Eskil Tunberg and the rest of the team at Mackmyra Svensk Whisky can do with whatever they choose! And so far, the results have been wholly unique if not incredibly promising. They are therefore trying a few different styles with each expression in the series. The series will reach a total of 6 by the end of 2007. Prelumdium: 4 is already available from Royal Mile Whiskies. This sample was shared by the amazing Whisky Exchange

This stuff gets swept up by Swedes almost as soon as it hits shelves; one would think that Systembolaget (Sweden's State-run wine and spirit monopoly) gets a pretty miserable allocation. Mind you, the rest of us are doing a pretty good job of buying up the rest... Mackmyra Preludium 3 caused a buzz at Whisky Live in London and good things keep coming to, and from, this young distillery.


Young, hot nose, with sweet smoke, uncrushed peppercorns, lemon juice, and oak. Sappy new/living wood fires. Sour yeastiness emerges with time in the glass as well as some toffee.

Clay, big wood on the palate then an eruption of fresh tobacco and aromatic smoke, toasted oak. Heavy smokiness as well, with a soil-y swampiness and depth that eventually gives way to biscuits, vegetable oil, and a slow re-surfacing from the depths of the earth. Ginger. Sumac.Salt, lager/brewers yeast?, and yes, juniper.


Doesn't come easy, doesnt go out of it
s way to charm, but does begin to flirt with patience and attention. Will not be for everyone because while it is unique, it is not totally 'together', and the youth may repel some palates as well. Comparisons? 01 was light, young, fragrant and similar to a Scottish Lowlander, 02 was a spicy, more sherried Speysider, the 03 is some odd island style, Ledaliskapa Park 5yo.

Malt Mission #101
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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #103

YamazakiSuntory Yamazaki 10yo
Japanese Single Malt Whisky

40% abv

The second of three Japanese whiskies I will be having this week. Turning Japanese? I really think so.

Shinjiro Torii founded Yamazaki, the first whisky distillery in Japan, in 1923 in the Yamazaki Valley near Kyoto. As mentioned on Monday, the distillery was supervised by Masataka Taketsuru. The first whiskies released by the company were Shirofuda in 1929, followed by Kakubin in 1937 and Old in 1940.

The extensive research facilities at Yamazaki have spawned a variety of changes at the distillery over the years and has resulted in the fact that the distillery currently has six very different stills, uses various yeasts, heating and maturing methods. The benefit is that Yamazaki has the ability to make a variety of styles for its blended whiskies. Because of the innovations in technique, Yamazaki is viewed as a truly Japanese whisky, rather than a traditional, Scottish-style distillery like Yoichi (Hokkaido).

Suntory is the largest company in the world of Japanese whisky. They have a very large grain distilling capacity and distill malt with pot stills at three distilleries: Hakushu (1973), Hakushu Higashi(west) (1981), and Yamazaki (1923). They produce many blended whiskies, as well as the premium blended whisky called Hibiki (that comes in stylish bottles).

Japanese malts used to be limited to a very limited foreign market, but now Suntory whiskies are exported to 25 countries. In 2006, they released Premium Soda, soda water sourced from Yamazaki and intended for use in a whisky and soda. Their visitor centre, where, among other things, you can taste the difference between whisky distilled in direct and indirect fired stills, won Whisky Mag's Visitor Centre of the Year 2006.

Suntory also has a great advertising tradition for their products.
Great old advert HERE (not exactly advocating responsible drinking), high-art advertising HERE(Kurosawa and Coppola), Sean Connery making a great face HERE, and a classic Suntory-related moment HERE (Lost in Translation)

More on Suntory and Japanese whisky at The Whisky Pages


Cherry pie, sugar powder necklaces, children's Tylenol, paint/emollient oils. Some spice. Synthetic fruit flavours and creamy vanilla, Italian fruit-and-cream hard candies.

Soft oak, vanilla, pleasant oily mouthfeel. Cinnamon. Oil flavours develop, but now nuts and sesame oil (not the toasted Chinese kind).


Lively and appetising on the nose, really wakes you up... and that is not only because it is morning. Sensuous mouth feel with rounded edges, and bit of spice. Not a lot of development, but pleasant the whole way along.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #102

Peated Irish Single Malt
40% abv

The term 'whisky' is an Anglicisation of the gaelic term 'uisge beatha'. For reasons unknown to me, the spelling of the term in the English language is 'whisky' in Scotland and Canada, and 'whiskey' in America and Ireland. Although there are slight variations in recipe, both spellings refer to a grain-based distilled spirit, and in spite of the fact that some wealthy businessmen are working to call Indian 'whiskey', rum, and horse piss 'WHISKY', this is the way it should, and hopefully will, always be. Go grain, or go home.

It is said that Ireland was once home to 2,000 whiskey distilleries, but by 1980, this had been reduced to 2, both owned by a single company. Interested in more information? Get THIS book.

Studying at Harvard Business School in 1970, John Teeling began an investigation into whether or not it would be possible to revive the fortunes of the Irish whiskey business. His research caught the passion of Willie McCarter at MIT and 17 years later, with the help of John Power, they raised £3million and purchased the Ceimic Teo distillery in Dundalk, a vodka producing plant. They also purchased Locke's Kilbeggan Distillery in 1988 to use as a storage site for the future Cooley whiskies. In 1989, two pot stills were installed and production commenced.

Economic difficulties hit them almost immediately but were resolved through the involvement of independent investors and bright ideas rather than Cooley just being swallowed up by Irish Distillers (this did almost happen, however, but was deemed illegal by the Competition Authority). One thing that helped the economic situation of the distilling company was to enter the 'retailer's-own' sector and begin producing in-house brands for British supermarkets Sainsbury's and Waitrose.

Cooley's has a capacity to produce 10million litres of whiskey per year and currently has a wide range of different releases: a single grain called Greenore, and blends Kilbeggan, Inishowen and Millar's Special Reserve. They also produce three different single malt ranges: Locke's, Tyrconnell, Connemara. Knappogue Castle is also sourced from Cooley distillery from 1990-1992, and Jon, Mark, and Robbo's Smooth, Sweeter One uses Cooley malt whiskey.

Cooley's malt whiskies are unique from most Irish whiskies in that they are distilled only twice, rather than the traditionally Irish triple distillation. Connemara is even more unique in that it is the only Irish peated whiskey. It was officially launched in 1996.


Honey and lemon, green grapes, skin cream/lotion. Very fresh on the nose. The peat is in there, but it is all so perfumed, estery,
and free of the associations that often appear with peat smoke that it could go unnoticed. Apple crumble, margarine, and a touch of animal hide.

Okay, well the smoke will not go unnoticed on the palate, but it is so clean, and surrounded by floral sweetness, that to compare it to a Scottish whisky would not quite be fair (to either). Peated barley at the heart of the flavours, grassy, and increasingly drying. Oak and almonds.


A unique peated whiskey experience. Very drinkable, even quaff-able, with sweetness, and an interesting summer weeds type of presence. And plenty of peat, but don't expect a peat beast; this is driving-through-the-country window-seat-peat.

Malt Mission #101
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Monday, June 18, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #101

Nikka 'Red' Pure Malt
Vatted Whisky

43% abv

£24 (50cl)

This week we will try something new on the Malt Mission and look at a few international malts. This is a good starter as it is quite literally 'international', in that it is sourced from different countries.

After working for Kotobukiya (Suntory) for over 10 years, Masataka Taketsuru, arguably the grandfather of Japanese malt whisky, started The Great Japan Juice Company in 1934. The company did indeed produce juice, and by 1952 came to be known as Nikka Whisky Distilling Co.

Taketsuru learned his skills in distilling spirits studying at Glasgow University in Scotland in 1918. he followed this with further hands-on study at Hazelburn (Campbeltown), Lagavulin (Islay) and Longmorn (Speyside). He then worked at the company that is known today as Suntory, helping them build their first distillery in 1923 (Yamazaki). When he left Suntory to start his own company, he built Yoichi distillery on Japan's most northern major island, Hokkaido. Although inconveniently located, it was perfectly situated fro whisky production, according to Taketsuru (Nonjatta has a great piece on Taketsuru HERE). Surrounded by mountains on three sides and having pure a water source that comes from underground springs that rise through peat bogs, Yoichi is a very traditional-style distillery that still direct-fires its stills with coal (this once-common practice is a piece of history in Scotland, partly because of EU standards on coal emissions).

In 1969, Nikka built Miyagikyou/Sendai distillery on Honshu, Japan's main island. Teh site was picked after Masataka Taketsuru made a mizuwari using the water source of the prospective distillery and proclaimed, "This water is excellent. I've decided, this is the place!" The company produces the bulk of its malt for blending here using steam-heated stills. The distillery is also capable of producing grain whisky with its Coffey still.

The Pure Malt format was, at one time, the most common sort of whisky produced in Japan, and this is just one of Nikka's colours series (others are 'black' and 'white'). This one is a 'pure malt', or vatting of Japanese single malt whisky from Miyagikyo/Sendai Distillery (using the Coffey still) blended with Scottish single malt whiskies.

Notes in quotes can be attributed to Kristin.


Bright and fruity. Candied peanuts. Tahini. Peaches and cream. "Still, trapped air, like going into a tent, or a cottage or shack that has been locked up for a few seasons." Time allows some herbaceous (grass, parsley) elements to emerge and water softens the brightness and brings out a touch of peat, roasted aubergine/eggplant or soil. "Becomes outdoorsy"

Again, bright and fruity, butterscotch. Sugary black tea. Fresh and lively. Fills out with some earth and peat, but remains confection-ary. Slightly smoky in the toastiness at the end. Water really exaggerates the earthiness and it becomes a surprisingly chewy whisky.


Perfectly clean, fresh, summery malt. I loved the oscillation between candied orange and earthy smokiness. Wholly unique, but to offer some points of reference, Kristin finds it comparable with a features of Bell's blended whisky while I find it shares features with Rosebank, unpeated BenRiach and young Talisker. Love the packaging, too.

"Spirity. Woody. Sweet. That's about it. Blend-ish. Did they pour caramel into this?"

To each their own.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

No (Sun)Tory Poli-tricks

Suntory Red or RED Suntory Whisky
Blended Whisky

39% abv (!)

£3.50 (!)*

Today we will look at a whisky from Japan in anticipation of next week which will see us back on the Malt Mission at full strength in an International Malts-themed week.

Why am I tasting this outside of the Malt Mission format?

A few weeks ago I was pointing and clicking through Chris Bunting's informative and fun blog about Japanese whisky, Nonjatta. To be perfectly honest, and possibly politically incorrect, much of what I read on there I find very amusing as it taps into that east-meets-west, cross-cultural confusion, trip to the zoo, "oh, how cute! look what those strange Japanese people do!", kind of way. His presentation certainly helps keep one smiling. Anyways, I came across his notes on something called Suntory Red. I had never seen this stuff and from his description, I could understand why it doesn't make it to these shores. Nonetheless, I was determined to get some.

And I did.

The label tells/warns us that this "masterpiece made with the same traditional craftsmanship as the Akafuda" (Red Label) of the 1930s. Suntory produces most of its whisky for the Japanese market with a small, but growing, percentage reserved for export. This is not one of the exports.

And so I tasted it, but not in the same controlled environment that I usually 'seriously' nose and taste the whiskies in this mission. I spoke the notes into my phone.

*- price based on rough price of 840 yen.


Seedy, rye, oily, verging on turpentine

Bready, sweet, Listerine freshness, verging on turpentine


On a scale of "Try" to "Try to avoid", it depends where you live and what sort of spirit you are, but I say "Try". Once. And as far as I know, that is a pretty cheap drink so far as Japan goes, no? So, when in Rome...

Which brings me back to Nonjatta. Chris tells us that this is likely a whisky made to be consumed as a Mizuwari. Because there are several whiskies on the low-end of the market that fall into this category, Chris has a introduced a series I find absolutely hilarious called the Mizuwari Death Match. After my recent discovery of just how tasty Johnnie Walker Black is on ice, I hope to be able to do this with the real bottom-end blends. Can you imagine High Commissioner VS The Claymore? I look forward to it...

MM100 Celebrations

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Malt Mornings

There have been a few comments posted that have congratulated me on leading such a lovely life. A life that allows me to enjoy a small whisky every morning and the time to write about it. Well, thank you. I have no complaints and am grateful daily; Thank goodness, Meharbaanii Hai, baruch Hashem, praise Jesus, Ahumdulillah, Waheguru, etc.

So this morning, after three "work" days (I only do this Malt Mission Monday-Friday) on the wagon, I will sit here with a healthy serving of an undisclosed malt (something decadent, don't worry) to celebrate 100 Malt Missions and try to address a few questions, items brought to my attention, things that pop into my morning mind...

1) Who are you?

My name is Sam. Without sharing too much extraneous detail, I will explain life factors that effect the whisky related folds of my existence and this blog.
I lived in Edinburgh from 2002-2006 where I became turned on to the water of life. I was fascinated by the simplicity of the recipe and the seemingly disproportionate varia
tions of flavours from distillery to distillery, expression to expression, and even mood to mood. I thought it was magical, mystical. Then when I learned the ways that Scottish whisky was interwoven with the monastic histories of the church, the French revolution, the invention of branded advertising, colonialism, U.S. prohibition, the fall of the Berlin wall, etc., I was determined to learn whatever I could. And of course, the way the spirit made me feel had something to do with the growing passion as well. I remember in my first year in Scotland, having 6 drams at a tasting and then going back to my flat where I read some pretty academic stuff for the state I was in, called my brother, and finished an article about Synagogue arson. Good times! The first night I attended the University of Edinburgh Water of Life Society, a whisky club that met a few times per semester and tried different malts, I distinctly remember the feeling of floating home; my head was clear, but I was weightless with inexplicable joy.

Over my years in Edinburgh, I became the poet laureate of
the whisky society, a position specifically created for me, and later became the president. With a group of passionate mates (some passionate about whisky, most passionate about passion) we developed the society into a group of 56 (capacity, 2 bottles, 28 25ml servings per bottle) men and women. We planned years of fortnightly tastings, special guests, distillery visits, charity fundraisers, sporting events, and group whisky tours of different regions of Scotland. I met a lot of whisky folks, was able to try many many different whiskies, converted hundreds to the heavenly elixir, and smuggled a good amount of spirits back to the liquor-oppressive regime that is Ontari-Oh-no-you-dont. In that time I worked quite intentionally to develop my knowledge of whisky history, distilleries, and actively worked to develop my senses for tasting. This is really nerdy, I know, but after being advised by two well known whisky personalities that nosing and tasting is highly sensory, but very much a skill of memory association and can therefore be learned, I began smelling and tasting things and saying out loud to myself "apple", or "sweaty shoe", in an attempt to actively create the sensory memory. It is embarassing, but I still do this. I think that is enough of an answer for today.

2) Why are you doing this?

Good question. In practical terms, the malt mission began as a challenge from friends. I had started this blog but posted only three times in six months. I couldn't find the motivation to thin
k of some new 'story' or reason to post very frequently. The internet already has dozens of very good whisky news sites and at least one brilliant commentary site. I didn't want to do a crappier version of those already great sites. I wanted something slightly different and I needed a structure.

For years, I have fielded the questions of friends and whisky drinkers in my proximity. Through the whisky society I became a sort of whisky educator and source of info and recommendation to friends and stangers, to strangers' friends, to friendly strangers. Even as recently as two nights ago I got a call after midnight from a friend in a pub in Edinburgh who had met a tourist who was heading back to his homeland soon and wanted to bring three whiskies. What would I recommend? (for the record, I answered Balblair 1989, Ardbeg Uigeadail, and Glengoyne 17)

So when the challenge arose at New Year's 2007, I decided it might be interesting to just try the whiskies we have open on our shelf, explain their histories, and share some tasting impressions, sort of as a way to convince friends (at that time the only readers of the blog) to come over to our new home in London. As time went on, I decided that I wanted to try whiskies that people actually drink, that WE drink, whiskies readily available, affordable whiskies. Not to knock the Malt Maniacs, but they already address the anoraks with their unbelievably dense website and obscure bottlings. I simply cant compete and would prefer not to be spending time on a redundant site. Additionally, I was happy to try a dozen cheap blends and standard bottlings. In fact, as shown yesterday, most searches that come to Dr. Whisky tend to be searching for Cutty Sark, Famous Grouse, Buchanans, Old Parr, Johnnie Walker, Bells, Chivas, etc. Though there have been quite a few hunting for info on Ardbeg 1975 Cask 1375. It has become a real joy to do this, and great fun working to source and taste new whiskies 5 times a week. And to have so many visitors from so many countries around the world clicking by to learn something new, find out what to buy as a gift, investigating some new release, leaving comments, is really amazing. I love whisky, and I hope whisky loves me.

3) Why don't you score the whiskies you try?

I guess this is a part of trying to be different than other sites online, books, etc. But it also relates to a fundamental flaw I find with grading systems, especially with something as subjective as whisky enjoyment, and that is just how arbitrary it all is. Yes, many people have tried to construct models of evaluation that are very scientific, but then where is the fun in that? How can the spirit have a chance to speak to you? Have you never had a whisky that you thought you didn't like that has just hit the spot? I mean, the whole 'two thumbs up' thing is so vapid. Dull. Tedious. Meaningless. A grade will always be taken out of context and by using only words, impressions, and opinions, I hope to minimize the grade bias. Think of the stir caused when Jim Murray gives a BLEND (woohooo, a blend) 97/100. Does anyone actually know what he wrote about it? Why it rated so well? No. But we all know the score...
(For more on scoring see THIS entertaining piece from the Scotch Blog. Also, Nonjatta faces the scoring the dilemma head-on HERE)

Also, I suppose this has something to do with the social responsibility aspect of this blogging life. Who the heck am I to give a 44/100 to a whisky that dozens of men and women have worked very hard to create, market, and ship to be sold? We are all VERY privileged to be able to enjoy these drinks to begin with, and should be grateful, even for the whiskies we dont like. Don't like it? Don't buy it again. But I refuse to intentionally go beyond the parameters of observation into evaluation and deter others from thinking twice about a given malt or blend with MY opinion, with a grade. Like how a good film review tells you as objectively as possible about the acting, the directing, the film movement, the dialogue, etc., so that even if s/he gives it two stars, you can see that maybe there is something in the directing style (or whatever) that this particular critic doesn't like that I do like in films. I try as much as possible to present some interesting bits about the distillery or the bottling, to note any flavour impressions in a descriptive, fun but not too frilly fashion, drawing a profile, NOT an evaluation of the flavours or "in my opinion this is good, bad, nice, not nice", etc. Forget my opinion. I am trying to find/present the essence of a given whisky considering a combination of history, production, flavours detected and impressions left. Try as I might, the whole process is subjective by default, and as much as I try to keep it objective, the summary (at least) is usually unabashedly subjective.

With this whole scoring thing in mind, Kristin challenged me, so we have a plan to have a tasting one week out of bottles I have already tried, but to try them blind and see what notes I make. The idea would be to compare them to the original notes. Potentially humiliating, but that doesn't really bother me. What, am i going to get fired? The challenge intrigues me.

4) There is no way you wrote all this in the morning.

No. You are right. That is why it is a late post today. Sorry. But I feel grrrreat!

5) Can anyone contribute to the Malt Mission?

Yes please. I would like to invite contributions from people who have found a dram about which they itch to share info and tasting impressions. In fact, I contacted several "professional" whisky folks to have guest tasters for this week of celebration(?), but initially only half of the folks responded, which was perfect for 5 posts, but by the end of last week, I had only 1 contributor. So, I decided to can the idea (Thanks anyways). But if you feel up to it, please send me your notes on something I have or haven't tried. I think it would be fun to have a week of other opinions. No guarantees I will use them tho, okay? If you are desperate to be heard, use this great site, For Peat Sake. Or even be in touch about dram exchange... you mail me some whisky in a wee sampler/mini/contacts container, and I will send you something in return.

Enough for a day.

Contact me about notes or if you have any questions.

MM100 Celebrations

Malt Mission HOME

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Tops (so far...)

Still celebrating 100 Malt Missions, continuing to deprive myself my breakfast whisky, so tomorrow and Friday we will celebrate with a few drams.

Today, I will share a few funny and interesting tidbits about the traffic that comes to his small corner of the world wide internot. I will also share what, in my humble and amateur opinion, were the most memorable tipples so far on tasting this trip...

Most popular Google Searches that have directed people to Dr. Whisky:
(pay attention, Diageo... and send rations!)
Buchanan's 12 / Bucanan's Deluxe (other variants)
Grand Old Parr / Deluxe / 18yo (slight variants)
Compass Box, or Compass Box products by name.

Most Entertaining Searches that have directed people to Dr. Whisky:

"flatulence is okay"
"skin getting oilier late thirties"
"a long term effect of mixing a banana with a pinapple"
"irish bullocks"
"burnt toast ulcer"
"cleaning mustiness from antique furniture"
"norwegian salmon flatulence"
"getting baby sucking consistently"
"iodine beer suntan"
"this was invented this month in the 1890s, it has contained many flavors even whiskey, peanut butter and ice"
"where to buy distillers yeast toronto"
"doctor Addres. Last name. First name Spain"
"doctor who adventure"
various proper names (inder marwah, matthew cowley, jessica perlitz, marcie hume, david stewart, kristin cavoukian, jon, mark and robbo, vivien immerman, michael hopert, colin harvey, beth and jed musial, johnnie walker, arthur bell, james buchanan, dr. whisky and sam simmons)

and most incredibly/appropriately

"dr prescription for scotch"

It was hard enough to settle on 3 per category.
PLEASE NOTE: this is not based on ALL whiskies, this is based on whiskies I have tried in the first 100 Malt Missions.

Top Three Whiskies I Would Reach for RIGHT NOW

Old Pulteney 12
Ardbeg Serendipity
Glengoyne 17yo

Best Budget Single Malts(£20-30)
Talisker 10
Old Pulteney 12
Glenlivet 15 French Oak Reserve

Best Budget Vatted/Blended Malts (£15-25)
Compass Box Oak Cross
Jon, Mark, Robbo (any)
Sheep Dip

Best Budget Blends (£10-20)
Black Bottle
Whyte&Mackay 12 Premium Reserve

Best Value Overall
Ardbeg Uigedail
Old Pulteney 12
Compass Box Oak Cross

Best Blended Whiskies
Dewar's 18
Buchanan's 12
Whyte&Mackay 12 Premium Reserve

Best Blended/Vatted Malt or Grain
Compass Box Oak Cross
Compass Box Hedonism (older bottling)
Ardbeg Serendipity

Best Standard Bottling Overall (current releases; ie. no single casks, discontinued, etc.)
Lagavulin 16
Glengoyne 17
Ardbeg Uigeadail

The Three I wish would Flow Eternally (ie. discontinued or otherwise unavailable whiskies)
Ardbeg Serendipity
Scapa 12
Clynelish 11, FYOB @ the Whisky Exchange

Best Overall (irrespective of price, availability, or pride/shame)
Highland Park 1976
Glenfarclas 25
Glengoyne 17

That was not easy. Very difficult to settle on answers.
Helps remind me that 100 whiskies aren't really very many, and is in fact only a tiny fraction of what is out there.
These answers will certainly change in time.
Let's move along to another hundred...

MM100 Celebrations

non-Malt Mission posts
North American Adventure

Malt Mission HOME

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Still learning, Learning from Stills

"The proper drinking of Scotch whisky is more than indulgence: it is a toast to civilization, a tribute to the continuity of culture, a manifesto of man’s determination to use the resources of nature to refresh mind and body and enjoy to the full the senses with which he has been endowed." - David Daiches, Scotch Whisky 1969

Still celebrating 100 Malt Missions (and giving the old liver a rest for a few days).

It has been an educational ride, and I thank you for reading and commenting, and hope you have learned some things, too.

i've learned that the internet is an incredible medium. i've learned that privilege is a small province. i've learned to distinguish between whisky lovers and whisky snobs. i've learned that a percentage of whisky buyers purchase whisky with more consideration for packaging than contents. i've learned that john glaser makes dull whisky dynamite with wood and johnnie walker with ice. i've learned that when corporations in the Dominion of Canada bought Scottish distilleries in the 1970s, they did them no favours. i've learned that price does not (necessarily) affect quality. i've learned that the travelling storyteller we met in Royal Mile Whiskies Edinbugh in 2006 was right, vanillin in the foods we eat and drinks we love is the breast calling out to all of us; the word 'vanilla', appears, in different shapes and sizes, in just under half of the Malt Missions, and in a few of them, more than once per post. i've learned what aldehydes, feints, esters, and phenols are. i've learned that whisky tastes better when you are hungry than when you are full. i've learned that i have much to learn.

Learning is fun.

I have noticed over the months that people search particular questions or terms that make it clear to me what information they are after, and I know that while I could help them with their inquiry, the information they are after just wont be found on my blog.

ex. "How old ledaig", "discontinue bowmore LCBO", "where to buy ________", "a long term effect of mixing a banana with a pineapple" (these are all real. more tomorrow)

Because of this I want to start a Dear Doctor-type of fuction.
Whisky Questions? what, how, why, when, etc.
Leave a comment or click through on my pic in the side column(left).

Happy Tuesday.

MM100 Celebrations

Malt Mission HOME

Monday, June 11, 2007

One Hundred Drams in Solitude

Thanks to many folks, we have made it to Malt Mission 100... and it looks like we will be able to continue for at least a few more weeks...

Although I tend to taste each dram in solitude it wouldn't be possible without the help and support of others
So today, we say THANK YOU(and I let my liver rest):

Kris Gilmartin (author of the Scottish Sunday Post article pictured on right)
Matt and Mariah for sending me that pic
Misako Udo, Gavin Smith, Charlie Maclean, and Sukhinder Singh for being so supportive and forthcoming with
Kevin Erskine (who let me contribute in May)

Mark Gillespie (who linked and mentioned Dr. Whisky in Whisky Cast episode 91)
Darren Turpin wrote about Dr. Whisky @ The Genre Files
Chris Bunting (Nonjatta), Colin Ligertwood (For
Peat Sake), Colin Campbell (Whisky Blog), Sku of Sku's Recent Eats, Jay Williams' Aphoristic Subplot, all you nuts at EUWOLS, Naresh at Sound of the Cinema, and any more I am forgetting(sorry), who have all linked to Dr. Whisky.
EVERYONE who has forwarded links to friends and colleagues via email, etc.
Those who have sent me/helped me source whiskies:
The Whisky Exchange

Royal Mile Whiskies
Vintage House
Andy Forrester (formerly ofJon, Mark, and Robbo, and Cellar Trends)

Barry and Barry at Premium Bottlers
Chivas Brothers
William Grant and Sons
Whyte & Mackay
Glengoyne/Ian Macleod Distillers
Compass Box Whisky
Marcie Hume who helped me make this video
Espen Knudsen for challenging me to do this and Kristin Knudsen for putting up with it.

and if I have forgotten you or if you feel you deserve a thank you, then THANK YOU.

I would also like to use this space to ask those major (Glenmorangie plc, Diageo, Pernod/Chivas, Bacardi, Willam Grant & Sons, Morrison Bowmore) and independent (Gordon & Macphail, Benriach, Bruichladdich) companies that lurk on Dr. Whisky, searching these pages each week (I can SEE you), step up and help this blog by sharing or continuing to share press info, samples, etc. As the stats to the right indicate (more data available upon request), thousands of people are using this web resource and your products are getting 'free' exposure. I am delighted to continue so long as I can, so please, play a part (contact info). Cheers.

MM100 Celebrations

Malt Mission HOME

Friday, June 08, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #100

Ardbeg 1972/2000, 28yo
Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask
Islay Single Malt Whisky
50% abv
price unknown, my guess is £300

While I am delighted to celebrate Malt Mission #100, I am also pretty pissed off. This morning I wrote a bit of this post, tasted the dram and wrote down impressions. I was going to write a bit more now and post it only to find the original saved post was gone. Argh. To be honest, I am surprised it took this long for something like this to happen. The only other thing I am surprised hasn't happened yet is to spill a dram all over my laptop. Fingers crossed that won't happen until at least MM500.

The good news is that I have about 5ml left in the wee sampler bottle and get to try again. I will be relying somewhat on memory from this morning.

So here we are, Malt Mission 100. Sure, it may not be much to the Malt Maniacs or to Taylor Smisson (of the now discontinued Malt Drinker's Diary), or other crazy whisky nerds out there, but I am happy. I mean, I like Star Trek, but to tell you what stardate Picard lost his father, what a soliton wave is, or to send you a wedding invitation in Klingon is WAY beyond me. This blog has, from the beginning with Johnnie Walker Black, been about sharing information about Scottish whisky in an inclusive, fun, and informative way. I hope it succeeds at that, and continues to do so. My liver feels great.

Over the weekend and next week, as a part of the official centenary celebration, I will share some of the funny searches that have led folks to the blog, I will attempt to make list of my Top Pics(so far), and will dole out the thank-yous that so many of you deserve for forwarding the page to others, posting links on websites, sharing drams, reading and commenting.

Speaking of sharing drams, a big thanks to Michael Hopert sharing a drop of this little gem from his own collection. Prost! Let's taste (again).

This is one of just 222 bottles from this particular cask. It is from the last year of distillation at Ardbeg before being handed over to the Ardbeg Distillery Trust, the first stage of the eventual Hiram Walker take over of the distillery, and one of the last years of 'old, peaty' Ardbeg, when the whisky was still made from barley malted in Ardbeg's own maltings.

For more Ardbeg info see Malt Missions 15, 20, and 70


Concentrated, immediately rich and sexy. Starburst or Opal Fruits off the top over piles of peat. Leaf fires. Thick and hearty. Gummy. Juicy Fruit sweetness, Thai lime freshness with a meaty heart. Deep fried cinnamon dough. Bloody appetising.

The power potential can be felt immediately in the mouth. So controlled. Amazing. Like a sprinter in ready position, you can feel the liquid's excitement at what it is about to show you. Bursts into a smoked salmon cream spread, more of that synthetic fruit sweetness with a full breath of dried fruits and toasty oak. The organic, mineral, dirty Ardbeg characteristics are also all present. Yard fires in the autumn. Exhale smoke and stone.


Even if I tried (and I'm trying!) to get down everything this whisky is doing, I would be doomed to failure. This is a beautiful whisky, full of character. A dram to visit and revisit. It engages you in a sensory conversation that only a fool would rush. With this beauty you would easily spend a beautiful, memorable night, and you wouldn't hesitate to call in the morning.

After I had it this morning, I could still taste the stony peat up to 4 hours later.

MM100 celebrations

Malt Mission #96
Malt Mission #97
Malt Mission #98
Malt Mission #99

Malt Mission HOME

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #99

Glengoyne 21 yo
Single Malt Whisky
43% abv


Had to have a Glengoyne in this run-up to Malt Mission 100. Great people, adorable distillery, fantastic whiskies. Always. These factors mixed with proximity to Glasgow makes this a must-visit distillery.

The current Glengoyne marketing lines are, "The Real taste of Malt" and/or, "The Authentic taste of Malt Whisky untainted by Peat Smoke." Glengoyne does not use peat to dry their malted barley, and practices unusually slow distillation. These are just two of the special touches that make Glengoyne such a unique whisky. For more see Malt Missions 5 and 50.

This expression is matured in specially selected first fill
European oak sherry casks, and Robbie Hughes, the distillery manager took great care to ensure the right casks were used and that the new 21yo would fit in as the pinnacle of the Glengoyne core range. The packaging has been changed, following the updated 10 and 17 tubes, to reflect the premium nature of the new 21 yo.

Thanks to Iain Weir for sending me a sample of this release.

*- this is the price of the new 100% sherry cask release. The old 21yo can still be found for around £60.


Bearhugs of warming sherry, apples and honey, cocoa dust, dry oakiness, with a wet, doughy and sweet maltiness throughout... like horse treats/sweet feed.

Much brighter than I expected, fruity and even tart off the top, then erupts with body, rich dry toasty oak then sherry and spices that stick around for ages. Ginger biscuits, licorice root, and crisp apples can be found along the ride. In no hurry to finish.


For me, the obvious parallel to this is the Macallan 18yo, 100% sherry casks, golden promise barley, similar price point. The reality is that the average wo/man who walks into a shop and grabs a Macallan cuz they want a Macallan, may never have heard of Glengoyne. Well, hear ye, hear ye; If you are already a Macallan drinker, then you must try Glengoyne. Macallan will still be there in the morning, should you not be glenblown away. Variety is the spice of (whisky) life.

The flavour development is very much consistent with the Glengoyne style in the shifting of dimensions from oak influence to malt influence and back again, and it is great that they have managed to capture the best of that again. For me, some of the buttery malt taste that makes younger expressions so sumptuous is lost to some of the more powerful dry sherry notes. And I mean powerful and dry. Mood malt.
As it is, I personally struggle financially to keep a bottle of Glengoyne 17yo on my shelf, but if I could, this beauty would find its way up there as well. Sure it wouldnt disappear at the same rate, but it certainly deserves a chance. Hearty, heart-warming, uplifting, outstanding.

Malt Mission #96
Malt Mission #97
Malt Mission #98
Malt Mission #100

Malt Mission HOME

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #98

Bowmore 17 yo
Single Malt
43% abv

Built ten years after the famous round church that sits atop a small hill in the capital of islay, Bowmore the distillery has been a major part of Bowmore the town since 1779. The local townfolk have been known to wander into the stillhouse to warm themselves on some of those bone-chilling winter days that Bowmore can have. If Percy or others at the distillery know you're coming, they just may have your national flag flying on the third flagpole beside the Scotland and United Kingdom flags. Be sure to pronounce it "bo- MORE" to keep your hosts happy. BowMORE is at the forefront with practical innovations that benefit the distillery and the community. Its heat recycling system has significantly reduced their reliance on peat. The "waste heat" is used to heat the village's swimming pool, which is located adjacent to the distillery complex.

More on the distillery, and other Bowmore appearances in the mission can be found HERE.

For over 200 years Bowmore has attracted the respect of those lucky enough to taste what it produces. In his Spirit Journal, F. Paul Pacult wrote "that Bowmore might just be Scotland's foremost malt distillery at this time"(2003), and in his book, Raw Spirit, Ian Banks writes , "If you can't find a Bowmore to fall in love with, you may have to consider very seriously the possibility that you're wasting your money drinking whisky at all." With a wide range of releases, and a whole new line to familiarize yourselves with, there is bound to be a Bowmore that you'll dig.

This 17 year old is a piece of history as the old range has been replaced with the new core range. It will be missed by many, myself included, but it is comforting to know that the new Bowmore 18yo, effectively the 17's replacement (although at quite a price jump), won Double Gold AND Best in Show at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2007.

*- price is subject to change with diminishing availabilty. The new Bowmore 18 comes in at £50 is or $85(USD)


Soft peat allows fruit and such to lead aroma-wise with some salty, Islay character in there, too. Together it becomes like I have always described this whisky; standing next to a sweaty man on a packed tube/train. Very juicy and sweet while salty and spicy (onions? curry?) and musky.

Medicinal cream, like a butter coated tylenol/paracetamol. A tight package, moving from chocolate-y sherry notes to medicinal and dairy ones right off the top, but remaining an impressive package of exotic fruits and peat for at least half a minute. Some greenness emerges late with a finale of soft smoke.


Big Islay, but somehow delicate. Great mix of the 'dirty', phenolic aspects that make Islay famous and the less celebrated ones of chocolate, lively fruit and spice. Perfectly balanced Islay malt whisky. Dearly dearted, indeed.

Malt Mission #96
Malt Mission #97
Malt Mission #99
Malt Mission #100

Malt Mission HOME