Four Indy Balblair

Four Indy Balblair

Following the exploration of three independent bottlings from Bowmore, let’s now venture into the realm of another venerable distillery: Balblair. As I’ve previously expressed, Balblair holds a special place in my heart, and because of that, it was the very first distillery I had the pleasure of visiting in Scotland. Similar to our journey with Bowmore, we’ll delve into independent bottlings, this time featuring four indy Balblair expressions from That Boutique-y Whisky Company, Kintra, Cadenhead’s and the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

Read more
Three Indy Bowmore

Three Indy Bowmore

Bowmore stands as Islay’s most ancient licensed distillery, sparking my initial interest for whisky some two decades ago with their 15-year-old expression. Back then, I was slim and still had some hair on my head. My, how time flies. Twenty years later, a visit to the distillery in July 2023 proved an exhilarating experience. Our guide’s warmth and knowledge captivated us, the other guests and me, allowing us to savour a unique moment of bottling a small cask sample straight from the cask in one of their warehouses. Then, our tasting session revealed a trove of delicious whiskies, awaiting my eventual review. But today, we explore three indy Bowmore expressions from three independent bottlers: The Whisky Agency, Svenska Eldvatten, and Malts of Scotland.

Read more
Japanese Blended Whisky #1 21yo Batch 2 That Boutique-y Whisky Company

Japanese Blended Whisky 21yo Boutique-y

In the backdrop of Japan’s whisky shortage crisis in 2015, renowned brands such as Nikka and Suntory found themselves grappling with depleted stockpiles of aged whisky. In response, they made the strategic decision to either discontinue age statements for their flagship expressions or significantly curtail production, opting instead for controlled allocations to their distributors. This scarcity, coupled with a fervent fear of missing out and an element of greed, precipitated an unprecedented surge in prices for the remaining inventory, a trend that has persisted unabated till present day. Amidst this tumultuous landscape, however, That Boutique-y Whisky Company defied the odds by unearthing a cache of 21-year-old Japanese blended whisky, releasing six batches over a few years.

Read more
Armorik 2014 157.1 SMWS

Armorik 2014 157.1 SMWS

Despite the burgeoning French whisky scene and the significant strides made by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in diversifying beyond the confines of ‘Scotch’ whisky, it wasn’t until 2023 that they ventured into bottling a French whisky. This trend isn’t unique to SMWS; a cursory glance at Whiskybase reveals a scant number of independent bottlers featuring products from Warenghem Distillery. This underrepresentation is regrettable, given my experience with over 40 whiskies tried from Warenghem, many of which were very good, and sometimes just properly exquisite though sadly elusive. Turning to SMWS and their foray into French whisky, it’s notable that their debut choice was Warenghem, renowned for their Armorik single malt. Let’s delve into the Armorik 2014 157.1 SMWS, marking a significant milestone as the first French whisky featured by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

Read more
Three Rye Whiskies from Overseas

Three Rye Whiskies From Overseas

Rye whisky traces its origin to North America, with a history deeply rooted in the early days of European colonisation. Settlers, particularly those of Dutch and German descent, brought with them the tradition of distilling spirits from rye grain, a hardy cereal grain well suited to the continent’s climate. The popularity of rye whisky grew in the northeastern regions of the United States and parts of Canada, where the cool climate proved conducive to cultivating rye. Over time, this distilled beverage became an integral part of the North American whisky heritage. The production process typically involves fermenting and distilling a mash bill that contains a significant proportion of rye grain, usually at least 51%, but that can go up to 100%. Let’s review three rye whiskies from overseas, two from Canada and one from the USA.

Read more
Ardbeg Ar5 Elements of Islay and 33.140 SMWS

Ardbeg Ar5 & 33.140 SMWS

Independent bottlings from Ardbeg are a rarity, especially those unmistakeably bearing the distillery’s name. According to Whiskybase, a mere nine independent bottlings of Ardbeg graced the market in 2023. The bulk of Ardbeg’s output tends to stay in-house, contributing to their core range, a handful of notably expensive single casks, and sought-after limited editions like the Ardbeg Day releases (which we’ll be delving into shortly). As a fan of Ardbeg and with fond memories of my first visit to their Islay distillery, I’m delighted to compare two independent bottlings side by side in this review. So, without further delay, let’s explore the Ardbeg Ar5 from Speciality Drinks, released in 2014, and the Ardbeg 2007 33.140 bottled by the SMWS at the end of 2023.

Read more
Caroni 1998 Private Garden n°3 Swell de Spirits for Clos des Spiritueux next to a Gasteranthus Extinctus flower

Caroni 1998 Swell de Spirits

Whilst More Drams Less Drama primarily focuses on whisky, I occasionally venture into reviewing other spirits often referred to as malternatives, such as Cognac, Armagnac, and Rum. These reviews, akin to my whisky evaluations, are driven by personal interest. Many times, I compose these reviews based on samples received or exchanged with friends, or purchases from whisky websites. Today’s review is one of the former—a malternative adventure taking us to Trinidad for an aged rum from the renowned but now lost Caroni distillery.

As is customary with my reviews, and due to the nature of how I acquire these samples (or occasionally bottles I’ve purchased), they may not always be the most up-to-date assessments of recently released products that are readily available. Nevertheless, my motivation is to share insights about specific whiskies or spirits that captivate my interest. If this particular review captures your attention, thank you for reading. However, if it doesn’t, feel free to close the tab—I won’t be bothered, and I won’t even be aware! In previous posts, we’ve explored whiskies from the French independent bottler Swell de Spirits. This time, let’s delve into a rum: a Caroni 1998 Swell de Spirits.

Disclaimer: I’m relatively new to rum reviews, and you won’t find many here. So, take this review with a generous grain of salt. No need to reach for that Tequila shot; it was meant figuratively.

Read more
Islay Blended Malt 2009 Thomson Brothers

Islay Blended Malt 2009 Thomson Brothers

Phil and Simon Thomson, the founders of Dornoch Distillery, are well known in the whisky industry. Independent bottlers, they’re also the owners of the famous Dornoch Castle Hotel Bar, which boasts a fantastic selection of bottles. The Thomson Brothers have already released more than 370 bottles and are known for their indy bottling branch, which usually releases whiskies through a ballot as they are highly sought after. In 2017, they started producing their own whisky at Dornoch Distillery, which has already gained a reputation for producing an already internationally acclaimed single malt whisky. The Thomson Brothers have recently been granted permission to build a new distillery in Dornoch South, which will be carbon-neutral and sustainable. But it’s their indy bottling branch that interests us today, as we try an Islay Blended Malt 2009 that the Thomson Brothers released in 2021.

Read more
Glenturret 1965 Cadenhead's

Glenturret 1965 Cadenhead’s (1990)

Whisky hoarding is a popular practice among enthusiasts who enjoy collecting rare and unique bottles, or just swapping and buying a significant number of bottles and samples. However, this practice comes with its own set of risks, including the possibility that some bottles may never be tasted and could be lost to evaporation. Unfortunately, I recently experienced this firsthand. I have hundreds of samples and minis waiting for me, but when I recently reached for a Loch Lomond (Rhosdhu) bottled by Cadenhead in 1994, I found that the fill level was low (probably just 1.5 cl left out of the initial five), and the whisky was flat and bland, the alcohol gone, evaporated. To avoid this happening again, I checked what other similar era minis I had, and that’s when I remembered this 1965 Glenturret, bottled in 1990 by Cadenhead’s, and still with a reasonable fill level (but already down to about 4 cl)…

Read more
That Boutique-y Whisky Company's core range

That Boutique-y Whisky Core Range

That Boutique-y Whisky Company has gained fame for its extensive collection of independent bottlings released since 2013, and at this date a total of 883 of them have been documented on WhiskyBase. Recently, the company expanded its repertoire by introducing its first five core range expressions, effectively extending this impressive list. Additionally, there is a sixth core release in the form of their World Whisky Blend, which we have previously reviewed and will omit from this discussion. Instead, let’s focus on examining the remaining five releases from That Boutique-y Whisky’s core range.

Read more