Friday, 22 May 2015

Holiday and what's coming up in June

So just back from my holiday and what a lovely time I've had with my wee family and a special thanks to Dave at Whisky Discovery for sending me a few drams to enjoy and warm me up, you're a star Dave.

I'm not going to even attempt at any kind of review of what I was sampling but all were very pleasant and now added to my whisky journal. 

What I am going to review is the half bottle of Bell's and bottle of Chivas 12 I picked up when I was in Yorkshire and I'll try and put out those reviews next week as I have my notes and I'm sure I'll manage the odd dram over the weekend.

For June I'll be looking at Aldi, they are offering a range of whisky which is hammering other supermarket own brand whiskies into the ground and yes they are sending me some samples but I'll drip out reviews of what I'm being sent as well as the three bottles I've bought myself, I'll also do another guide to this months whisky auction and will probably moan about stuff too.

Hope you've not missed me too much.

The Captain.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Crown Royal Review

A friend of mine in the ol' U S of A is a fan of the hugely popular Canadian Whisky Crown Royal and he's not alone as it's the most popular Canadian whisky in America and Diageo produce millions of litres every year.

I hadn't seen this in any shop in Glasgow and kept humming and hawing over buying a bottle of this but then saw a bottle going cheap at auction and couldn't resist so here we have a litre bottle of Crown Royal along with it's odd little bag so I cracked open the bottle, well I twisted the plastic screw cap off and poured myself a dram.

So now I'm about a quarter of the way through the bottle consumed over the last couple of weeks and I have to say it's taken quite a while for it to open up at all but now it has so I feel I can do a proper review for you, aren't you lucky?

On the nose it smells a lot like a single grain whisky or bourbon simple and straight forward sweetness and has that "whisky" smell but that's not always a bad thing, there is some vanilla and light sweet fruits.

 It's smooth and by smooth I mean it really hasn't got a lot going on, water can and does kill it completely so I wouldn't bother, I get a lot oak and vanilla and raisins but I've been struggling with this for weeks now and not coming up with much more but then something hit me.

This isn't a drink for sipping on it's own or mixing with a little water, it's a mixer and as a mixer it's a brilliant whisky, I tried this with Ginger ale, Alcoholic Ginger ale, coke and Irn Bru and it's great, it's probably not a good thing that a whisky is improved with can of Irn Bru or Crabbie's added but there you go, it does and it's easily in my top five mixing whiskies.

Would I buy this again? I don't know, it's twenty five quid if you look hard enough for a litre but I can buy a litre of Whyte and Mackay or Black Grouse from my local shop two minutes walk away but if you can find it then I'd go for it, you even get a daft wee bag for it perhaps to store your gold coins or pieces of eight, it has that pirate feel about it.

The Captain.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Supermarket Sweep for May

A few days late with this one but these are my selections for this month's Supermarket bargains.


Waitrose

Waitrose 16 year old Single Highland Malt £32 but with 10% off with their loyalty card.


Sainsbury's

Ballantines Finest down to £15, decent blend at that price.

Isle of Jura Superstition down to £26, this is a great introduction to peated whisky.


Asda

Glenmorangie 10 year old rolled back to £26


Tesco

Chivas 12 year old 35cl do to £10 for a half bottle is very decent.

Talisker Storn a tenner off down to £30.


So there are a few of my selections, you can actually get the Glenmorangie in Tesco for £25 but I put the Asda offer in just in case you don't have a Tesco nearby.

There are of course many other offers and I've not included the discount chains purely because their websites can be a bit vague and they don't really have things on offer anyway.

The Captain.

New to whisky?

I've done articles like this before but as I'm waiting on builders showing up I thought I'd do another.

So I was gaming last night and talking to a mate who said he'd like to get into whisky but didn't really know where to start, it's a difficult question because everyone has a different taste but I'm pretty sure I can find anyone who's willing to try a whisky that will suit them.

I told him, as I'll tell you, that my advice to start simple and work your way up, no point in buying a bottle of Talikser 10 and swigging away. I suggested that as Tesco has both the half bottle of Chivas 12 and Glenlivet 12 down to ten and twelve pounds respectively go for them and also buy a decent but cheap blend, I see no point in telling someone new to whisky to head off to a local independent store and spend fifty or sixty quid on a bottle of whisky, we should be trying to get people to see whisky isn't all that complicated if you know where to start.

The blend I selected for him was the Whyte and Mackay 13, a cracking sub twenty quid blend available in Asda which is local for him.

So now he's got three bottles of whisky in the house, what's he going to do with them? Well I suggested looking up videos on how to drink whisky and then pour himself a Glenlivet 12 and take it from there, maybe just have a couple and then if he's still feeling like another then move onto the blended stuff, it's a great way to learn about whisky and I hope it starts him, and you, off on an epic journey of whisky discovery.

The Captain.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Buying at Auction

I had a little Twitter chat recently with a couple of gents who were interested but nervous about buying at auction so I thought I'd give some hints and tips and also give some recommendations regarding this months auction at Scotch Whisky Auctions.

Now I want to make it clear straight from the off that I am neither employed or paid by Scotch Whisky Auctions but I find them helpful and reliable and they don't take the piss with their fees plus I don't have to pay postage because I can walk to their offices.

Couple of warnings about auctions, don't think you can find a bottle of Ardbeg 1974 for fifty quid because you won't, not even close to it, that said you will find old and rare bottles, you'll also find standard stuff in jobs lots as well as those little curios and bits and bobs.

My only other warning is watch your price, remember you're paying commision on any bottle you buy as well as postage and insurance, which I advise getting if it's an expensive bottle, so don't go mental and for the love of God don't bid when you're pissed, no one wants to end up spending a hundred pounds on a bottle of Famous Grouse do they? No, no you don't.

I have a system for buying at auction which I will share with you. First off I spend a little time going through the auction, grab yourself a cup of coffee and spend an hour browsing the two thousand or so lots, gaze in wonder at the reserve prices on some of them and cry a little that the bottle of Port Ellen you would murder for will end up sitting on some collectors shelve rather than being opened and relax. I then make a note of all the bottles I fancy going for, it's normally older expressions of blends you can't buy in the shops like this or some stuff I've never heard of like this or perhaps some miniatures  I then don't muck about with small fiver bids, I bid what I am willing to pay remembering my fees and then I walk away, the auction goes on for a week and if I get outbid then I lose out but I do go back to the auction and perhaps look at other lots, I always end up with something decent.

And that is pretty much that, auctions are great fun and it's good to just browse what's on offer just to see something that perhaps you've not tried before and the miniatures are great for sampling new whisky, new to you at least, for a couple of pounds per bottle, not bad eh?

Now for some recommendations. Currently there are several old expressions of Red and Black Label, perhaps check out previous auctions to get an idea of what they go for and grab yourself a bottle of something from the past, there are also some nice older bottles of White Horse and a couple of bottles of J&B 15 year old reserve which are well worth a punt and my final suggestion is the large selection of Compass Box although with some of them you'll be paying top dollar.

Good luck and don't go mental.

The Captain.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Chasing a rabbit to wonderland.

I sometimes wonder if it's me who's bonkers or everyone but over the last couple of days I have witnessed something bordering on unbelievable.

At present there are at least two, but possibly more, people attempting to sell opened bottles of whisky, take another look at that sentence and maybe go and pour yourself a dram.

Let me make something clear, it doesn't matter if the person is trying to sell an opened bottle of Famous Grouse or a bottle forty year old Dalmore the value of each is the same and that value is absolutely bugger all.

I have made mistakes when buying whisky, stuff I've not liked and twice I've bought something I thought was dodgy. I once bought a bottle of Bruichladdich and it was dreadful, I have enjoyed their whisky before but I sent this to them, no response sadly, saying I thought it was off or fake or something and once I bought a bottle at auction which was just odd, it wasn't the same whisky as it was on the label, I know this because I've had enough Green Label to know when I'm drinking something else, this was years ago and please don't let it put you off auctions or Bruichladdich.

This though is different, why on Earth would you part with your cold hard cash for an opened bottle of whisky? It could be anything, it might not even be fucking whisky, it could tea or pee or a bottle of ethanol dyed whisky colour, fancy a glass of that?

Now I'm sure both the sellers are upfront and above board but please let's reign this in a little bit, whisky prices are going skyward at an alarming rate, most Japanese whisky is now out of my price range and anything limited edition is sold instantly and listed on auction by and for collectors and speculators before I can switch on my laptop and try and get a bottle but are we seriously going down the road of spending hundreds on half empty bottles of whisky? I hope not because if this is where we're headed then I'm going to start drinking Mezcal just out of principal.

The Captain.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Scapa 16 Year old Single Malt

Scapa is new to me, I got it thanks to a friend of a friend and I have to admit it took me a while to get into it.

Sometimes people refer to whisky as smooth or easy drinking for me that just means it just tastes of whisky which I thought this did for a good quarter of the bottle only after two weeks or so did this whisky start to shine.

So yeah, I'm starting off by saying this whisky takes a little bit of time to open up, if you buy a bottle I suggest you open it allowing some air in and then popping the lid back on and leaving it for a week, same with pouring, I would recommend leaving this alone in the glass for a good twenty minutes before starting at it.

On the nose we have a touch of kiddies glue followed by some aniseed which I got from opening the bottle and I'm still getting it now it's half done, I have started getting some lovely orange peel, malt and boiled sweets too. After getting right into this I'm also getting the faint whiff of a barber shop and old leather seats.

Taste wise is more complex still, I got a lot of malt, that lovely taste of whisky, a little salt, some bitter chocolate and chilli and a touch of nut meg all gently opening up as the bottle slowly drains.

The finish is pretty quick, more malt and salt with some pickled ginger and those boiled sweets cropping up again.

Overall it's a lovely bottle of whisky but why 40%? Frankly this could have been so so much more if they had increased the strength a little not gone down the chill filtration route that frankly a sixteen year old Single Malt really shouldn't be following but I feel that Scapa 16 might be being aimed at the duty free market or the special present bought for someone who doesn't understand whisky all that much but I feel I'm being overly critical of a whisky I've come to really enjoy.

Would I buy this again? For fifty pounds no I wouldn't but on offer or in duty free then yeah it's worth a shout, would it be worth fifty quid if it was 46% and offered a little more? Yes, yes it would.

The Captain.