Tag Archives: Whisky

Jim Murray’s 2016 – Top 5 World Whiskies Of The Year

Agree with it or disagree with is totally up to you, one thing you definitely cannot deny is that the annual release of Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible and the winner of the title of ‘World Whisky Of The Year’ is definitely something that everyone is curious about and they sure have had an impact on the whisky trading patterns of the winning whiskies during the weeks and months that follow this announcement. Last year for example the Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2013 won this title and what followed was an unprecedented frenzy of people from across the world spending well over a 1000 quid  on an average for a bottle that used to cost lesser than one tenth that price when it was released.   Well I don’t know if we can expect the same kind of trends to follow for this year’s winner but the fact that this year too for the second time running, none of the world renowned Scotch whiskies have made it into Jim’s Top 5 list of whiskies and that a Canadian whisky is what took top honors is sure going give whisky lovers from across the world enough to talk about.

Here’s a quick summary of the Top 5 Whiskies as per Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2016:

1. World Whisky of the Year 2016 – Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

This whisky as their website describes it combines the distinctive flavor of Canadian rye grain with the unmistakable smoothness of Crown Royal for a truly exceptional Canadian whisky. It is made with 90% rye. This is gently spicy with soft pepper, vanilla and butterscotch notes. It currently retails at approximately GBP 25+

2.  Pikesville 110 Proof Straight Rye

Taken from their website: Produced in Kentucky from extra-aged barrels stored in prime warehouse locations, Heaven Hill keeps this historic Maryland mark alive with this award-winning six year old, 110 proof offering. Retailing currently at approximately GBP 65

3. Midleton Dair Ghaelach 

Once again taken from their website: Midleton Dair Ghaelach is the latest addition to Single Pot Still Whiskeys of Midleton range from Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard. This uniquely Irish whiskey has been matured primarily in refill American Oak bourbon barrels and, for the first time ever, finished in virgin native Irish Oak Hogshead casks.

Midleton Dair Ghaelach is crafted in the classic Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey style; a mash of malted and unmalted barley has been triple distilled in traditional copper pot stills and matured for between 15 and 22 years in American refill casks. Uniquely, the whiskeys were then married together for two days and filled into Irish oak casks for almost a year, a process which was overseen by Midleton Master of Maturation, Kevin O’Gorman, and Master Blender, Billy Leighton.

Currently retailing at approximately GBP 200 

4. William Larue Weller Bourbon – 2014 

One of the highly sought-after 2014 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection releases, the William Larue Weller is a superb Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey, bottled at a sturdy 70.1% ABV. The William Larue Weller name comes from the clever chap that pioneered the method of using wheat in bourbon production in place of rye. This one usually flies off shelves. It used to be retailed at GBP 125+ 

5. Yamazaki Mizunara 2014 

This single malt was composed exclusively with whiskies aged in Japanese Mizunara Oak. 1600 bottles of this whisky were released in the first half of 2014 exclusively in Japan. This one’s going to be tough to find. It used to retail at approximately GBP 140 when it was released  but now I’m fairly certainly it’s probably going to cost a lot more. 

Well that’s it .. a round up of all who won.. Whether they are worthy winners or not is for you to decide. I for one will definitely try most of these (IF I can get my hands on them .. at a reasonable price..:))!!




Littlemill 25 Year Old Private Cellar Edition

Type: Scotch Single Malt Whisky
Region: Lowland Whisky
Distillery: Littlemill
Bottler: Littlemill
Age: 25 Years Old
Alcohol: 50.4%
Bottled: 2015
Initial Price: GBP 2000+
Getting to sample a 25 Year Old from a distillery that shut its doors in 1994 is quite a privilege in itself. Add to that the fact that this one’s a distillery bottling that’s been bottled in 2015 after 25 years of maturation initially in ten American and European oak casks before being married and finished in first-fill Oloroso Sherry casks. This makes the offering a fairly unique one too given that you don’t find too many distilleries that are still bottling their spirit so many years after closing down. The 2015 edition which is limited to only 1500 bottles only comes in a 70cl bottle and also comes with a 5cl miniature of the whisky, as well as a section of a stave from one of casks that matured the whisky!
Keeping all of this mind a special thanks is in place for Steve Rush from The Whisky Wire who has nice enough to let me be a part of their inaugural Flash Blog (which by the way is another unique initiative by these guys) and of course the guys from Loch Lomond for sending the 5cl samples out to all those participating. 
Now coming to whisky itself, here’s what I thought of it.. 
This ones got a really nice sweet nose with lots of honey coming through along with butterscotch, vanilla and some definite notes of wood too. Then comes the scent of sweet spices, a good dose of gingery notes and finally some really nice juicy apples. 
The palate on this one is extremely distinctive.. I mean those bitter sweet notes coming from the citrus and lush ripe tropical fruits are almost unmistakable. Totally enjoying it by now. Hold on to it for a bit longer and I also get some licorice, lots of berries and some black tea notes too. 
The finish is just as grand as the entire packaging of this whisky itself.. long, smooth and very warm.. with a bit more of those sweet spices from the nose and more of the berries from the palate that carry their way through. Just like the distillery its whisky too definitely keeps you thinking about it for a long time after its gone!! 
A lot of people have been commenting about the price and whether I’d buy it for what its been priced at. To be honest.. I don’t know.. all I can say I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this dram and if someone did put their money on it… I’m fairly certain they’d enjoy the whisky!  

Bowmore 10 Year Old Devil’s Casks II

Type: Scotch Single Malt Whisky
Region: Islay Whisky
Distillery: Bowmore
Bottler: Bowmore
Age: 10 Years Old
Alcohol: 56.3%
Bottled: 2014
Initial Price: No Info
Current Status: Limited Availability with a few retailers in Europe at approximately GBP 200+


So as I mentioned in my previous review.. tonight was the night of the Devil’s.. I started with Arran and now time for this Bowmore.. which is a small batch release matured exclusively in first fill Sherry casks. That by the way is pretty evident from the lovely ruby color that this spirit possesses.

Nose: Bowmore often mentions maturing its finest whiskies in its legendary No. 1 vaults by the sea.. well if you ever wanted some help in imagining how that place would have felt.. this expression can give you nose… the smells of that peaty spirit maturing in those sherry casks.. along with rows of the other casks.. the dampness that comes from being right next to sea.. it all right there. After this brief introduction comes the first fill sherry influence… the cotton candy.. maple syrup.. black grapes.. basically a lot of sweetness.. and there’s a touch of perfection to it

Palate: The darkness of this expression slowly begins to reveal itself further as you move to the palate a lot more of those black grapes and sweet dark berries along with some mild notes of peat. This one has a very rich palate with each flavor coming out nice and strong. Initially the spice is more of clove and as the spirit oxidizes its more peppery spice that comes through. This is accompanied by some liquorice too.

Finish: A fairly long finish .. which leaves a mildly dry feeling in your mouth .. with some wood shaving and the final showing of the darkness with some sweet dry black raisins

Even at 56.3% there’s an exceptional smoothness to this both on the palate as well as on the finish.

On this particular night .. its this Devil from Islay that has got me smiling ‘devil’ishly at the end of it all!!

Arran The Devil’s Punch Bowl Chapter III (The Fiendish Finale)

Type: Scotch Single Malt Whisky
Region: Island Whisky
Distillery: Arran
Bottler: Arran
Age: NAS
Alcohol: 53.4%
Bottled: 2014
Initial Price: GBP 80+
Current Status: Available with a few retailers in Europe at prices starting at GBP 85

This has been a month of the ‘Devil’ with Arran and Bowmore bringing out two Devilishly good limited releases into the market. So I decided to pit the two the devil’s against each other. Here’s what I thought of the Arran first..

Nose: The nose which was the best part of this one.. was a exceptionally pleasing medley of fruits and spices.. Apple, bananas.. with cinnamon’s and vanilla. As it opens up further you get some dried black raisins and towards the end .. what remains is some refreshing lemon zest.

I kept it aside with a few drops of water in it.. and that brought out a lot of ripe oranges and wood..

Each of those French Oak.. Bourbon and Sherry casks used for maturing this one.. made their presence clearly felt here.

Palate: The palate does have more of those fruits coming through.. although this time it was harder to point out which ones exactly.. I’d say they were definitely more tropical .. There were also some dark chocolatey flavors coming through with an interesting orangy tang to it. A sprinkling of white pepper and some woody notes were part of the mix too. Overall the palate is fairly creamy with a hint of dryness that begins to appear initially but it loses this completely and just gets a lot more creamier once it marries the tiny bit of water that I’d put in.

Finish: The finish wasn’t too long.. but not too short either.. a bit of the spices and some mint.. that was more like toothpaste to be honest..

Overall this is indeed was a fine finale.. to what has now become somewhat of an iconic series from this young distillery. Whether or not it has been better than the previous two editions of this series.. is for you to decide.. 🙂

Ardbeg Kildalton 2014

Type: Scotch Single Malt Whisky
Region: Islay Whisky
Distillery: Ardbeg
Bottler: Ardbeg
Age: NAS
Alcohol: 46%
Bottled: 2014
Initial Price: GBP 120+
Current Status: Limited availability with a few retailers in Europe at approximately GBP 200+ & an on auction sites too


Very often when you buy a special ‘distillery only’ release(even if its from Ardbeg) you wonder if it’s worth the additional premium you need to pay to acquire it. Well with one.. I can surely say that I’m one extremely satisfied customer.

Nose: The journey begins with the familiar whiffs of peat and iodine.. like you have reached good old Islay once again. Further probing brings outs the juicy cantaloupes and rip honeydew. There is also candied sweets in the mix. The distinct iodine notes now mellow down to a more eucalyptus kind of smell which is really nice. Leaving the dram to breathe brings out the wood and caramel form the bourbon cask along with some bananas and oranges. The nose does have a lot to offer in this one.

Palate: The palate isn’t too sweet to begin with. But that isn’t a problem really. There are oranges and a fair bit of pepper that come together. Also some charred/grilled meat in there too. Add to that some over 60% dark chocolatey notes. The sherry cask gradually begins to show its impact with a mild dryness that envelopes the mouth. The second sip brings a lot fresh cut fruits. Again a very fine mix of various flavors that come out from this creamy dram.

Finish: The end is smokey with peat, wood and mild pepper, coffee notes coming through. Once again there is dryness that is left behind at the end of this possibly from the Sherry cask

Another Ardbeg that has left a lasting impression!! Slainte!!

Ardbeg 17 Year Old

Type: Scotch Single Malt Whisky
Region: Islay Whisky
Distillery: Ardbeg
Bottler: Ardbeg
Age: 17 Year Old
Alcohol: 40%
Bottled: 2004
Initial Price: GBP 30+
Current Status: Scarcely available on auction sites at more than four times the initial price


When it comes to Ardbeg I expect a strong and robust offering. However when it came to tasting the much famed Ardbeg 17, the experience was, well, not exactly matching my expectations.

Nose: Delicate is not a word I have used to describe Ardbegs in the past but this is exactly the first thing that comes to your mind when your nose is greeted with all the fruity notes. I’d say a bit of tangerines, apricots and lime. The longer you left the more it seemed like dehydrated fruit pieces of pineapple. Now there are traces of the peat in there but they are all hidden well below the top notes.. and one had to really dig them out. There’s also some eucalyptus oil that you can find. Did get some damp mud notes in there as well.

Palate: The first sip has an usually sweet start that quickly disappears and gets replaced with a lot of sooty notes. The sweet is more on the sugar syrupy side. You do find some mild peppery spiciness initially which does get a lot more pronounced by the second sip. For me the palate was this expression’s weakest part with not much to offer.

Finish: This one has a fairly nice finish with licorice, pepper, some mild fruit notes and finally a lot of spearmint. By the time you have the second sip the spearmint flavors tend to linger much long giving it a nice ending.

All in all this is one Ardbeg that you’re bound to have the house divided on in terms of their opinions. You’d either really like it for its uniqueness or you won’t due to your liking for a certain delivery that you’ve come to expect from this distillery.

Arran The Devil’s Punch Bowl Chapter II (Angels and Devils)

Type: Scotch Single Malt Whisky
Region: Island Whisky
Distillery: Arran
Bottler: Arran
Age: NAS
Alcohol: 53.1%
Natural Cask Strength: No
Bottled: 2013
Initial Price: No Info
Current Status: Available with a few retailers in Europe at prices starting at GBP 150

Too many cooks spoil the broth? Well not in this case. 27 casks by Master Distiller James MacTaggart, 17 Sherry casks, 6 unpeated bourbon casks and 4 peated.. that and the name in itself were enough to get me intrigued…

Nose: Each of the casks have left a bit of their imprint on the nose.. there lots of spice coming from cinnamon and nutmeg, sweetness from raisins .. fresh wood shavings .. leave it longer.. there’s some liquorice that comes through and finally some lemon zest in the back ground

Palate: A gentle mix of honey and peat make for an excellent combination.. there also a good amount of spice.. some more liquorice that follows through from the nose and dark chocolate.. finally got some mangoes ..or probably some similar fruit flavors that are in too

Finish: Medium Long.. just about perfect .. with the right amount of spices.. dark chocolate and some more raisins too…. well that how the red devil on the dark black bottle signed off!..

For me this a nice dessert dram and probably the perfect drink on a Christmas night near the tree by the fire place.