Saturday 28 June 2014

Tasted #108: Smoked Bacon Bourbon by The Experimental Spirits Company

Readers of this blog may know that Steph and I are big fans of Sydney (and Melbourne) bars Eau de Vie and the impact that owner Sven Almenning has had on the Australian drinks industry. After years running Australia's largest Bar consultancy outfit, in addition to setting up "3.5" incredible bars (Eau de Vie Sydney, Eau de Vie Melbourne, The Roosevelt and the new Eau de Vie Apothecary), Sven branched out into the packaged drinks market with a range of bottle cocktails (which we featured here), available from Vintage Cellars (if you haven't tried the Cold Drip Negroni, based on the Cup o' Camilio from Eau de Vie's menu, I highly recommend it!)

Not one to stand still, Sven has now launched "The Experimental Spirits Company", with plans to release a range of...well, experimental spirits. 

First up will be the "Smoked Bacon Bourbon", which "Dr" Phil Gandevia (the creation's "chef") gave us a little taste of on a recent visit to the Apothecary. Having made my own bacon Bourbon a few years ago (which was OK, nothing special) I was interested to hear they use a whole 350gm of bacon per bottle and an onerous filtration process to ensure the product is both unique and tasty, but also fit for sale. This is hand-made (right in Sydney), small-batch stuff, but it ain't no home kitchen job. These guys are pros.

The bars use it in a range of cocktails, and of course it's perfect for making your own "Benton's Old Fashioned" (if you've never tried one, Google PDT Benton's Old Fashioned recipe and thank me later), but how does it taste neat? Well, a little something like this...

The Experimental Spirits Company Smoked Bacon Bourbon (40% ABV, NAS, USA, $70-80AUD)
Nose: Sweet maple syrup. Salty, but with all the hallmarks of a good, smooth sipping bourbon. Big vanilla notes to complement the maple syrup notes, and no clash with the saltiness.

Palate: Very sweet, very dry. Chewy, meaty, and really very smooth. Not as much salt as the nose, but enough to distinguish this from a regular Bourbon, without a doubt. Phil wouldn't give up the name of the distillery producing the Bourbon, but it's clearly a quality base product.

Finish: Short, with a beautiful mix of sweet and salty.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 90/100. Great neat, great on ice, and no doubt fantastic in a number of cocktails.

Sound good? You bloody bet. If you want one, you'll need to head over to Pozible where The Experimental Spirits Company are seeking funding to procure the equipment required to continue to produce this fine liquid, and ultimately achieve their goal of national distribution both on and off-premise:

A worthy investment in our opinion, and one we've already funded.

 - Martin.

Friday 27 June 2014

SMWS Tasting (March 2014) (Tasted #105 - #107)

A few months ago I attended the Scotch Malt Whisky Society Australia's "Whisky Tasting Extravaganza", held in the usual Royal Automobile Club location.

Calling it the "biggest SMWS tasting ever" certainly wasn't an exaggeration, as the stand-up, tasting station format saw guests handed a "passport" with 12 stamps, to be filled up in two hours (if so desired).

12 whisky tastes. 2 hours.

Considering the tastes were (or at least seemed) to be ~15mL pours, and the whiskies in question were all SMWS (and hence cask strength) drams (typically in the 50-60% ABV range, but often above, with one rum reaching a heady 75% ABV), it's fair to say this wasn't an easy feat. I only managed 11...

These are my tasting notes for 3 of the drams on offer (I realised after 3 that if I took notes for each one, I'd barely get through 6 before the session ended!)

SMWS 132.5 "Sweet and darkly beguiling" (Karuizawa) (58.6% ABV, 14yo, Japan, $398AUD)
Nose: Rich, sweet, Demerara sugar and breakfast cereal.
Palate: Syrupy, chewy even! Hint of smoke, and boiled lollies.
Finish: Long, dusky, rich sugar notes.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 93/100.

SMWS 28.24 "Curiouser and curiouser" (Tullibardine) (52.2% ABV, 23yo, Highlands, Scotland, $319AUD)
Nose: Malty, earthy, grassy, with an undertone of sweetness.
Palate: Malty, rich, earthy. A world apart from the previous dram.
Finish: Long, sweet, tannic towards the end, with a mouth-drying finish.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 91/100.

SMWS 21.27 "An enticement of sweet oak" (Glenglassaugh) (58.6% ABV, 39yo, Speyside, Scotland, $735AUD)
Nose: Tropic fruits, sherbert. Not what you;d expect of a 39yo whisky.
Palate: Light and fruity! Again, strange for a whisky of this age. Slightly earthy notes.
Finish: Long, incredibly smooth, with some residual smoke towards the end (though very light).
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 91/100. Incredible simply for how its character compares with its age.

While I do think 12 cask strength drams was a little too many (not that we were forced, mind you), I enjoyed this format, and look forward to seeing this more casual setup mixed in with the more formal SMWS tastings throughout the year.

 - Martin.

Tuesday 24 June 2014

This Week in Whisk(e)y #9

As you might know if you read this blog regularly, we get a fair few interesting press releases and news articles here at TimeforWhisky, and usually try to feature them with our own spin, experiences or comments. Sometimes though, they come thick and fast, and we just don't have time to do them all justice.

So we've decided to take a leaf out of some other excellent whisky blogs, and feature a "PR roundup" every now and then - basically a wrap-up of relevant press releases we've received in the previous week (or other interesting whisk(e)y news Steph & I think you might enjoy). So on with it then...

Old Pulteney Launches Limited Edition 35 Year Old Single Malt
We've featured Old Pulteney on the blog before, having tried (and enjoyed) the 12 and 17yo releases. The 21yo also features in the #101drams list (tasted but not yet posted), as does the 40yo (sadly still an outstanding dram on the list).

Old Pulteney have now added another whisky to the lineup, with the release of a (very limited) 35yo single malt. Only 450 cases will be released, with a retail price of £500 per bottle in the UK. Just 6 bottles will be making their way to Australia, with an RRP over $900AUD. Contact island2island for further details.

To quote the press release:
"The embodiment of Pulteney Distillery’s exceptional craftsmanship, this new expression is matured in American ex-bourbon and Spanish ex-sherry casks which have been expertly hand selected by Distillery Manager Malcolm Waring. Each striking 700ml bottle is non-chill filtered at 42.5% ABV. On the palate this full bodied expression is sweet and spicy to start then quickly develops a range of signature Old Pulteney flavours from honey, rum soaked raisins and oranges to the heavier notes of seasoned leather, pralines and a touch of the salty North Sea air. A truly indulgent, perfectly balanced whisky, it has a long slow finish and is light amber in colour."

The Glenrothes Vintage 2001 Australian release
As many malt fans know, The Glenrothes are well known for their extensive "Vintage" range of whiskies, especially since their 1994 move from being primarily a "blenders'" whisky to producing their own single malt. The 2001 is the latest Vintage in the lineup, bottled in 2012 (whilst it doesn't carry an age statement, the distillation and bottling dates make it 11 years old). 

Described by Ronnie Cox, The Glenrothes Brand Heritage Director as "Deliciously creamy citrus wrapped tightly in the softness of aged oak. Complete and complex integrity in a glass" and having a flavour profile heavier on the vanilla, spice, fruit side of things, the new vintage retails for $105AUD and will be widely available in Australia from mid-July.

"Smoked Meats and Whisky" at the Eastern, Bondi Junction
On Thursday 10th July, 7pm, at Good Time Diner at The Eastern Hotel, guests will enjoy an entertaining dinner full of smoked meats, 5 bourbons and 5 strapping whisky's as 2 guest ambassadors from South Trade go head to head in the pursuit to be the all time favourite tipple.


  • Flight of 5 Bourbons & 5 Scotch whiskies
  • Spiced Smoked Chicken Wings
  • Smoked Black Pepper Pork Belly, Enzo Salumi, Smoked cheese, Gherkin & Smoked Nuts
  • 18hr Smoked Greenstone Beef Short Ribs
  • 18hr Smoked Pulled Berkshire Pork Shoulder
  • Cous Cous, Chickpea, Pine nut & Roast pumpkin Salad
  • Decadent Double Dark Chocolate Tart


  • Buffalo Trace
  • Eagle Rare 10 Year Old
  • Elmer T Lee
  • Thomas H Handy
  • George T Stagg

Single Malt Bruichladdichs:

  • Laddie Classic
  • Islay Barley
  • The Organic
  • Port Charlotte Scottish Barley
  • Octomore 6.1

When: Thursday 10th July,  7PM
Location: Level 1, GoodTime Diner, The Eastern Hotel, Bondi Junction
Tickets: $65

For all bookings please call (02) 9387 7828 or email

- Martin.

Sunday 22 June 2014

Tasted #104: Brora 2009 30yo Original Bottling 8th release (#101drams)

As anyone who lives in Australia knows, us Aussies can pay heavily for our whisky. Blame it on the tax man, blame it on the exchange rate, blame it on our distance from anywhere else, blame it on whatever you like (mostly the tax man)'s true.

That's not to say we don't have the occasional win, mind you (and we generally pay less for our own, local whiskies than the UK), but on the whole...we pay exorbitantly for whisky and high-ABV spirits in this country.

Partly due to this, and partly just to try as many whiskies as possible, a few of us have taken to sharing sample drams, to try weird, wonderful and sometime downright expensive drams, without having to shell out the money for a full bottle.

That's where this little beauty comes in. Brora, mothballed in 1983, and now the stuff of legend. Not quite "Port Ellen level" legend, but not far off. In fact Diageo's most expensive release to date is a Brora (not this one though). After sharing whisky lists a few months ago, Cooper of Australian blog and myself decided to swap a few drams, and I ended up with this 30yo Brora.

Bottled in 2009, this OB release from Diageo still weighs in at 53.2% (cask strength). OB? Yep, so that's one hard to find OB Diageo release ticked off the #101drams list. Now to find the other...

Brora 2009 30yo (Original Bottling, 52.2% ABV / 30yo / Highlands, Scotland / $560AUD when it was available / 2,652 bottles produced)
Colour: Honey. From a refill cask? Light in colour for a cask strength whisky.
Nose: Subdued smoke, tropic fruits - pineapple, apricot. Some slight musty notes.
Palate: Very subdued smoke, oily. Smooth and somewhat light (would have guessed ~46% ABV). Ash, sweet, vanilla essence.
Finish: Salt, smoke, sweet toffee. All three balanced brilliantly.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 95/100. No two ways about it - a stunning dram.

Thanks again to Cooper from for this stunning dram and fantastic opportunity.

 - Martin.

Friday 20 June 2014

WIN TICKETS to an afternoon of Irish Whiskey “Tasting & Toasting” with Tullamore D.E.W’s Global Brand Ambassador John Quinn has partnered with Irish distillery Tullamore D.E.W who are offering one reader the chance to win 2 x tickets to an afternoon of Irish whiskey tasting with Irish whiskey expert (and Tullamore D.E.W’s Global Brand Ambassador) John Quinn, who’s currently visiting Australia from the distillery in Ireland. The prize also includes 2 x bottles of Tullamore D.E.W Irish Whiskey. The competition is open to all Australian residents, though the winner must make their own way to/from the venue in Sydney.

The tasting, to be held at Sydney's The Potting Shed (within the Grounds of Alexandria) on Friday 27th June at 4:30pm will see guests tasting a number of Tullamore D.E.W whiskies, including those unavailable in Australia such as the Cask Strength “Phoenix" and highly acclaimed four cask 10 Year Old Single Malt. From our own tasting a few months ago, the Cask Strength “Phoenix” is a fantastic dram, and we personally can’t wait to try the single malt. This won’t be any normal tasting, however, as the tasting will see John “deconstruct” Tullamore D.E.W into its key three elements - Pot Still Whiskey, Malt Whiskey and Grain Whiskey, tasting whiskey direct from distillery stocks! The tasting will also include an opportunity to create your own unique Tullamore D.E.W from these elements.

The Irish pride themselves on a good toast, they toast to love, to honour, to good health and a full life. It’s all a part of their nation’s lilt for language, an art form tinged with that famous Irish wit and master of the verbal. In Irish True style, John will offer up a traditional Irish Toast to accompany each of the 4 Tullamore D.E.W whiskies on tasting.

In addition to soaking up John’s immense knowledge, unique sense of humour, wit and passion for whisky/whiskey the winner and guest will have the chance to ask John anything they wish to know about whisky/whiskey and leave with a better understanding of how to taste and appreciate Irish whiskey.

John's visit also marks the announcement of a new Irish whiskey distillery in Tullamore, Co Offaly.  Due to start production in September 2014, the distillery will bring Tullamore D.E.W. whiskey production back to its roots, in the heart of Ireland for the first time in 60 years.

Enter the competition for a chance to join TimeforWhisky at this unique tasting event by following the simple instructions below. Hope to see you there!

How to enter:
You can enter via one of two ways:
  1. Simply post a tweet, making sure you include include @TimeforWhisky and the hashtag #TullamoreDEWComp, explaining what Irish whiskey means to you
  2. Post a comment on this blog entry, explaining what Irish whiskey means to you
It could be one word or you could write an essay - be as creative as you like, but you only have until 11:59pm AEDST on Tuesday 24th June 2014, so get in quick! The winner will be selected by Tullamore D.E.W, and the competition is subject to the Terms and Conditions below.

 - Steph & Martin.

Terms and Conditions

1.      Information on how to enter & prizes form part of these terms & conditions. Any entry not complying with these terms and conditions is invalid.

2.      Entry is open to all residents from Sydney, Australia. Entrants must be 18 years or over (“Eligible Entrant”) and the winner must provide proof of age to confirm that they are 18 years of age or over. Employees of the Promoter, the Promoter’s associated companies, the Promoter’s agencies associated with this competition and their immediate families are ineligible to enter.

3.      The promotion starts at 12:01am Friday 20th June 2014 & closes at 11:59pm AEDST on Tuesday 24th June 2014 (“Promotion Period”).

4.      To enter, follow these steps:
You can enter via one of two ways:
Simply post a tweet, making sure you include include @TimeforWhisky and the hashtag #TullamoreDEWComp, explaining what Irish whiskey means to you
Post a comment on this blog entry, explaining what Irish whiskey means to you

5.       Entry is limited to no more than once per calendar day. Every entry made by the Eligible Entrant during the Competition Period must be different.

6.      This competition is a game of skill and chance plays no part in determining the identity of the prize-winner. Every valid entry received will be judged on its merit. The judge will award the prize to entry it judges to be the best.

7.      The prize is valued up to $800 recommended retail price (“RRP”) and includes: two tickets to an afternoon of tasting and toasting with Tullamore DEW Irish whiskey and two bottles of Tullamore DEW Irish whiskey

8.      The prize event will be held on the 27th June 2014 at 4:30 PM to 6:30PM. The tasting date cannot be changed, and the winner must be able to attend on this date in order to accept the prize.

9.       Judging will be completed at the Promoter’s Agency at 32 Grosvenor Place, The Rocks, NSW 2000, by 5pm Wednesday 25th June 2014

10.   The winner will be notified via telephone call and / or writing within 24 hours of the prize draw via phone and / or email

11.     Prize values are correct at time of publishing blog post but no responsibility is accepted for any variation in the value of the prize. Any additional costs outside the event tasting are the responsibility of the winner. Additional costs might include travel, accommodation and any meal outside of the tasting event.

12.    The Promoter's decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

13.    If any prize remains unclaimed by 12:00PM AEST on Thursday 26th June 2014, despite the Promoter’s best efforts to contact any prize winner, then subject to any written directions given by a relevant lotteries or gaming authority the Promoter may conduct an unclaimed prize draw at the same time and place as the original draw on that date to award an unclaimed prize. The first valid entry drawn will win the prize of the highest value and the prize draw will continue until all unclaimed prizes have been awarded. The name and postcode of any winner of such a draw will appear at

14.    Each entry becomes the property of the Promoter.

15.    Subject to the approval process required by any relevant gaming or lotteries authority, in the event that any prize item is unavailable despite the Promoter’s reasonable endeavours to procure, the Promoter reserves the right to substitute a different prize item of equal or greater value.

16.    If for any reason this Promotion is not capable of running as planned, whether caused by infection by computer virus, mobile phone failure, line drop out, bugs, tampering, unauthorised intervention, fraud, technical failures or any other cause beyond the control of the Promoter which corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness or integrity of the Promotion, the Promoter reserves the right in its sole discretion, (subject to any written direction given by a relevant Regulatory Authority), to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Promotion. The Promoter may in its sole discretion disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process.

17.    The Promoter is Tullamore DEW ABN: 59 142 683 145 trading as William Grant & Sons of Level 21, Pacific Highway, North Sydney NSW 2060

Thursday 19 June 2014

Tasted #103: Laphroaig new make spirit (#101drams)

As the only dram on my #101drams list that technically isn't a whisky, I wasn't convinced an Islay new make would be easy to find. I'd tried Glenfiddich and Woodford Reserve new make (and Jack Daniels Unaged Rye), but wasn't sure where to go about finding one from Islay.

Luckily Andrew Derbidge (whisky oracle, SMWS Australia Cellarmaster & NSW Director, all round nice guy and now whisky blogger) had a sample of Laphroaig new make he was willing to share. Thanks Andrew!

Laphroaig New Make (67.5% ABV/ unaged / Islay, Scotland / not commercially available)
Colour: Crystal clear (surprise surprise!)
Nose: Freshly baked bread, tyres, ethanol, ash.
Palate: Rich and oily, and hot, but smooth. Peaty but not overpowering. Boiled lollies. No iodine or sea air notes - they obviously develop with time (time spent aging near the sea, obviously!)
Finish: Long, hot and dry. Smoky - not dissimilar in lingering peat smoke to the 10yo.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 89/100. Surprisingly drinkable.

 - Martin.

Monday 16 June 2014

Glengoyne 25yo Australian launch lunch (Tasted #96 - #102)

A few weeks ago I was asked if I'd like to attend the Australian launch of Glengoyne's latest 25yo expression, at a lunch to be held at Glenguin Estate winery in NSW's Hunter Valley. The 25yo was to be joined in a tasting by the full Glengoyne lineup, presented by Jonathan Scott (Glengoyne's Brand Ambassador) who had made the trip out from Scotland.

Not really a question you say "no" to, is it?

So on a sunny Thursday last week, a small group of whisky fans, media and PR folk boarded a coach bound for Glenguin Estate.

A few hours later we arrived at the picturesque winery, where we pottered around, cameras in hand, capturing photos of the estate and scenery (and one winery dog) while enjoying a few delicious canapés.

I have to admit when I first read the invite, I assumed the Glengoyne / Glenguin connection was by name only, and that DEC PR had found the venue, which just happened to offer a great backdrop, space and food.

Not so.

Turns out the Glenguin / Glengoyne connection goes back to the late 1800s, and in fact "Glengoyne" distillery was known as "Glenguin" until 1908. The full story can be found on the Glengoyne website here, but in short sees a family connection between the two entities that still exists today, and was celebrated in 2010 with the release of a 16yo Glengoyne finished in Glenguin Shiraz casks (20 of which were shipped from Australia to Dumgoyne, where Glengoyne is located just North of Glasgow). Sadly the above bottle sleeve is all that remains of the whisky (at Glenguin, at least) though we're told it was a trademark Glengoyne with berry hints and a very dry, tannic finish as you'd expect from a red wine finished whisky.

After introductions to the friendly chaps from Glenguin, and of course Jonathan from Glengoyne, it was time to taste the Glengoyne lineup:
  • Glengoyne 10yo
  • Glengoyne 12yo
  • Glengoyne 15yo
  • Glengoyne 18yo
  • Glengoyne 21yo
  • Glengoyne Cask Strength
  • Glengoyne 25yo

(Just your average Thursday lunch, right?)

After taking our seats (and yes, a few comments were made about the tasting tumblers - though Jonathan from The Whisky Ledger took it upon himself to find us proper tasting glasses for the 25yo) Jonathan (the Scottish one) talked us through the history of Glengoyne ("Valley of the Wild Geese"), touching on the interesting location (technically Highlands, but literally across the road from the Lowlands), ownership history, their "Macallan philosophy" when it comes to wood management, and the six brand philosophies (Tradition, Unpeated, Patience, Oak Casks, Maturation and Natural Colour).

Then it was time to taste...

Glengoyne 10yo (40% ABV, 10yo, Highlands, Scotland, $69.99AUD)
Colour: Light golden.
Nose: Fresh linen, stewed pears.
Palate: Light initially, then growing in flavour. Apples, pears, some toffee.
Finish: Medium, sweet. Pears and some raw sugar.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 88/100.

Glengoyne 12yo (43% ABV, 12yo, Highlands, Scotland, $79.99AUD)
Colour: Honied gold.
Nose: Apples, but no pears this time. Coconut. More sherry influence than the 10yo.
Palate: Bigger mouthfeel, more spice, cinnamon, still apples. The extra ABV is welcome.
Finish: Medium length, sharp, spicy / peppery notes.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 90/100.

Glengoyne 15yo (43% ABV, 15yo, Highlands, Scotland, $108.99AUD)
A slight departure from the usual sherried Glengoyne style, with American Oak (we presume ex-Bourbon) aged whisky making up "25-50%" of this.
Colour: Golden amber
Nose: The sherry influence is definitely there, but it's a sweeter, lighter dram.
Palate: Toffee, vanilla, some hints of spice. Light, almost too light.
Finish: Medium to long, with sweet candied orange notes.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 90/100.

Glengoyne 18yo (43% ABV, 18yo, Highlands, Scotland, $148.99AUD)
Colour: Amber
Nose: Ah, now we're talking. Christmas cake, stewed pears and peaches.
Palate: Rich, nutty, with less spice than the previous drams.
Finish: Medium to long, glacé cherries.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100.

Glengoyne 21yo (43% ABV, 21yo, Highlands, Scotland, $219.99AUD)
Colour: Deep, dark amber, almost copper.
Nose: Dried fruits, Demerara sugar, cinnamon.
Palate: Rich, full, almost too smooth. Liquid toffee.
Finish: Tannins, berries, coconut. Reminiscent of an older Macallan (an 18, or even the new Sienna), but more subtle on the oak and sherry influence.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100. Fantastic dram, but needs slightly more on the ABV side of things.

Glengoyne Cask Strength (58.7% ABV, NAS, Highlands, Scotland, $98.99AUD)
My favourite from the last time I'd tried Glengoyne.
Colour: Golden amber.
Nose: Youthful, but with hints of oak. Also toffee, berries and custard.
Palate: Creamy custard, with nutmeg and cinnamon.
Finish: Long, peppery and spicy.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100. Just inches out the 21yo as my favourite so far.

Then it was onto what we'd all come to taste - the 25yo. Given I enjoyed the 21yo, but thought it needed a bit more age, the 25yo at 48% ABV sounded like a winner. Plus, who can argue with 25yo full maturation in first-fill sherry casks, from a distillery who place serious emphasis on their wood selection?

Glengoyne 25yo (48% ABV, 25yo, Highlands, Scotland, $599AUD)
Colour: Deep, deep rich copper. I'd heard that "light struggles to penetrate it" and I'd heard right.
Nose: Hints of spice and Demerara sugar, with a big toffee hit.
Palate: Beautiful. Liquid dessert. All the elements of the nose, with a thick, syrupy mouthfeel and incredibly smooth. ABV feels spot on.
Finish: Long, sweet, toffee and Christmas cake. Residual Demerara again, with Christmas cake and just a hint of cinnamon at the end.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 93/100. Truly a magnificent dram, one to savour on its own, after (or even as) dessert.

Any other tasting, and you may well leave at this point feeling suitably content. But no...after all those whiskies, it was time for a beautiful lunch, consisting of:
  • Main: Duo of Lamb - Dukkah Crusted Lamb Loin, Lamb Shank Croquette, Smoked Eggplant, Beans, Thyme Jus
  • Dessert: Dark Chocolate Delice, Coconut Ice Cream, Cherry Confit 

As a change from whisky (don't worry, we came back to it) we were served a few of the Glenguin Estate wine lineup. Particularly impressive for me was the 2009 "Ironbark" Tannat ($30 AUD), billed as the world's most tannic / dry grape variety. Dry it certainly was, but it also had a fantastic taste. The Aged (2006) Semillon ($30AUD) was also a great wine, though I do love a good Hunter Semillon.

You might think that was enough food and drink for one lunch...but you'd be mistaken. Next up - chocolate pairing! The full list of pairings is included below, but while they were all good, it was those in bold which really impressed me:
  • Glengoyne 10YO – Milk chocolate with tablet (34% cocoa content) and cranberry dark chocolate (54% cocoa content)
  • Glengoyne 12YO – Ginger dark chocolate
  • Glengoyne 15YO – Apricot and Cranberry White chocolate
  • Glengoyne 18YO – Banana and Pecan Milk chocolate 
  • Glengoyne 21YO – Pistachio Dark chocolate and Ginger Dark chocolate 
  • Glengoyne 25YO – Orange and Cardamom Dark chocolate 
(Guess I mixed up the 10yo and 15yo pairing...either way, the 10yo went brilliantly with the white chocolate.)
After chatting to Jonathan a bit more, a few more photos and another dram or two of the 25yo, it was time to bundle ourselves into the coach for the long (and snoozy) trip back to Sydney.

A 10/10 day. A huge thanks are in order to Glengoyne and DEC PR for putting on such a fantastic day, and to Jonathan Scott for making the trip out from Scotland.

 - Martin.

Thursday 12 June 2014

Ardbeg Day 2014 (Sydney) - review

Well we talked about it enough. Hyped it up. Told you all you should sign up to the committee, because Ardbeg Day 2014 was going to be awesome.

We told you how last year's was brilliant and the year before that too.

We even posted tasting notes before the big day so you knew what to expect from the whisky.

..and then the day came and went. So was it awesome?

Yes. Yes it was.


Following the tried and true technique of "take a great venue, scatter fun games around the place, give everyone a cocktail (or three), have plenty of Ardbeg on hand, make sure everyone walks away with a prize, and run a tasting of the latest limited release", Ardbeg Day (Sydney) 2014 saw Moët Hennessy Australia and EVH PR team up to take over Sydney's Royal Mint on Saturday 31st May, 2014.

Arriving at midday, Steph and I were greeted by a pack of Shorties, before being offered a choice of two cocktails - "Shortie's half time" (Ardbeg 10, pear nectar, vanilla syrup, lemon juice, orange bitters and an orange wedge) or "FIF'Islay Cup" (Ardbeg 10, Acaî/Berry mix, simple syrup and mint). The cocktails were very different - I prefered the former, Steph prefered the latter. Both were great, though I still think it's hard to top the caramel/pineapple number that graced Ardbeg Day 2012 as far as refreshing, long Ardbeg cocktails go.

Centre stage was a giant human foosball arena (more on that later), and scattered around the venue were various games, in true Ardbeg Day fashion. I'm not quite sure of their proper titles, but there was "kick the soccer ball through the hole", regular Foosball and "manoeuvre the soccer ball around the giant Ardbeg bottles without touching them or letting the soccer ball leave the mat". Challenging (especially with a dram in hand), but not overly so as plenty of attendees walked away with Ardbeg umbrellas, card holders, t-shirts, books, glasses, coasters and Shorties. One thing you can say about Ardbeg Day - the prizes are always plentiful and quality!


After a few games (best to get in early before too many drams!) and catching up with fellow committee members, it was time for the main sporting event - a game of human Foosball, called by former Socceroo Mark Bosnich, MC for the day. Mark gave a brief introduction to the day, the whisky and Ardbeg, and whilst there was nothing inherently wrong with his speeches, it's fair to say he could have done a little preparation or pre-reading, as his eyes were glued to the script nearly the whole time, and it seemed he was reading it for the first time. Very wooden (I heard a few people mentioning this too).

A minor point though, in what was shaping up to be a fantastic day.

After the official game was over and awards were presented, glasses of Auriverdes were handed out for a tasting led by Moët Hennessy Australia's Spirits Ambassador Garth Foster. Steph and I already gave our thoughts back in April, but suffice to say the new release was very well received by the crowd - particularly by those who professed they typically didn't like peated Islay whiskies. If the intention behind Auriverdes was to create a more "accessible", or easier drinking Ardbeg, without losing its character, I'd say it's on the money.

After a few more drams of Auriverdes (who could say no to trying a dram from that stunning 4.5L golden Jeroboam?), lunch was served in the form of a slow-roasted pig with incredible crackling. Very, very tasty.

The rest of the day was spent talking whisky, drinking whisky, and generally enjoying the atmosphere...oh, and playing a lengthy game of Human Foosball with 8 other mates, whisky bloggers and Ardbeg fans! This was an absolute blast, though perhaps not the best idea to play after several drams and a healthy serving of pig. It certainly provided plenty of laughs though.

Every year I wonder if Moët Hennessy Australia can do a repeat performance, and every year they seem to pull it off with ease. We can only imagine what's in store for next year's Ardbeg Day....just 11 and a half months to go.

Auriverdes is available now for $190AUD RRP (previous advice provided to TimeforWhisky of a $135.70AUD price point was incorrect), and can be purchased directly from the new "Moët Hennessy Collection" website.


Saturday 7 June 2014

Tasted #95: Dalwhinnie 1995 Distillers Edition Oloroso Finish (#101drams)

Dalwhinnie 15 (regular edition) was one of the first single malts I ever purchased, so I thought it fitting to include the Oloroso-finished Distillers Edition as part of my #101drams challenge...

Dalwhinnie 1995 Distiller's Edition Oloroso Finish (43% ABV, 15yo, Highlands, Scotland, $95AUD)
Colour: Orange gold.
Nose: Malty, flinty, orange peel.
Palate: Light, not a whole lot of sherry influence (the Oloroso finishing could have been in fairly old casks possibly). Drying, earthy.
Finish: Short to medium, with some toffee, and a hint of bananas (which I usually only get on much younger whiskies, or new makes!)
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 88/100. Not bad but not one I'd rush out to buy.

 - Martin.