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
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
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
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
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
Surprisingly, my exploration into Arran whiskies has been somewhat limited on my whisky journey. A mere 18 expressions have been recorded in my whisky tracking Google sheet, which includes the Lochranza variant that I will delve into shortly. Despite this modest number, I hold the Arran distillery in high esteem, particularly for their unpeated releases. It’s a distillery I frequently recommend to those seeking both flavour-packed and reasonably priced whiskies.
The acquisition of the Arran 18-year-old bottle, which forms the focal point of my review below, was a deliberate choice. I found myself orchestrating an online tasting featuring whiskies from the Scottish Islands a few months ago, and naturally, the Isle of Arran deserved representation. Whilst Lagg, the second distillery established by Arran Distillers, had already unveiled its inaugural whisky, I yearned for something more aged, leading me to the Arran 18-year-old expression.
In this review, I aim to explore the nuances of this Arran 18yo and compare it with the Lochranza Castle edition.Read more
As January 2024 draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on the passing weeks, realising it’s been a while since my last post. The onset of winter proved challenging, as a persistent illness lingered, not severe but enough to dampen my spirits and impede the joy of savouring and reviewing whiskies. Nevertheless, this unexpected hiatus provided an opportunity to thin out my whisky collection, creating some much-needed space on my shelves.
Towards the end of the previous year, a stroke of fortune came my way when a friend, employed at a local off-licence, secured for me a bottle of the elusive Springbank 10-year-old Palo Cortado at its recommended retail price. The only stipulation was a choice between unsealing the bottle or having my name adorn the label, a precaution to discourage resale. Opting for the latter, indifferent to the inclusion of my name or nickname, seemed a small price to pay for this coveted bottle, especially considering it needed to be shipped to me, so a perfect seal was mandatory. Interestingly, this decision has now become a recurring theme, with my name gracing labels of other Springbank bottles, ones I acquired during a visit to the distillery – ranging from handfills to a distinctive cage bottle, and even my personally crafted Springbank composition.
Having now recovered from my ailment, I’ve finally had the pleasure of sampling a few drams from the Springbank 10-year-old Palo Cortado. So, without further ado, let’s delve into a detailed review. But before we embark on this tasting journey, anticipate some changes on these pages.Read more
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
In the world of exclusive whiskies crafted to honour royal celebrations, few expressions encapsulate history and craftsmanship as vividly as the Bruichladdich 1965 Ceramic Jug. This exceptional bottling, released in 1981 to commemorate the wedding of HRH Charles and Diana Frances Spencer, stands as a testament to the enduring tradition of creating fine spirits for regal occasions. As we explore the rich tapestry of royal-inspired whiskies and the cultural phenomena surrounding them, this review delves into the exquisite details that make the Bruichladdich 1965 a prized addition to the collector’s repertoire. From its bespoke packaging to the finely distilled spirit within, join us on a journey through the intersection of whisky, monarchy, and celebration.Read more
Nestled along the meandering course of the Rhône River in south-eastern France, the Vallée du Rhône, or Rhône Valley, stands as a bastion of viticultural excellence. Renowned for its diverse terroirs, this historic wine region produces a rich tapestry of wines that captivate the senses with their depth, complexity, and distinctive character. From the robust reds of the northern Rhône to the sun-kissed, fruity whites of the south, the wines of Vallée du Rhône are a testament to the region’s centuries-old winemaking tradition. In the northern reaches of the Rhône Valley, appellations like Côte-Rôtie and Hermitage crafted red wines of exceptional finesse and longevity. The 1970s saw vintages that, under the influence of the cool continental climate, delivered wines with structured tannins, aromatic complexity, and the potential for graceful aging. Meanwhile, the southern Rhône, home to illustrious names such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape, produced robust red blends and luscious whites that reflected the warmth of the Mediterranean sun. Even though we don’t know the exact provenance of the wine casks that have been used here, let’s review this Glen Moray 1976 Rare Vintage Vallée du Rhône Finish.Read more