Monday, 27 July 2009

Malts of the Week

Our current Malts of the Week are

Drumguish (non-smoky), an unaged single malt from The Speyside Distillery referred to in my Inverness Trip Blog, and

The Inverarity Islay Pure Malt 8yo, from Inverarity Vaults, a small independent wine & spirit company based in the Borders.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Whisky List

The Whisky List has now been updated and is complete as of 20th July.
For those of you who like to keep score, there are 499 Scotch Whiskies, and 73 from the Rest of the World.

Additions to the list which is currently available on the website include
Jura Paps Collection, 3 bottlings at 15 yo with different wine barrel finishes, Barolo, Cabernet Sauvignon & Pinot Noir. More details at

3 bottlings from The Whisky Exchange under their Port Askaig Single Islay Malt Range, 17yo, 25yo and the Cask Strength version. As yet a mystery malt?

Hedonism, a blended grain bottling from Compass Box.

A 1972 vintage from Glenrothes.

Glendronach 15yo Revival, the first OB from the new owners. I've also heard they are to release some single cask bottlings as well.

Glenmorangie Signet, an artistic creation from Dr Lumsden with a wow factor, see what others think at

Several OB's from Bladnoch, including the first of their own distillations, a 6yo lightly peated version, and a 15yo non-chill filtered version which has created a fair amount of interest due to its cloudy appearance. The staff at the distillery tell me it is sometimes referred to as the full-fat version! I intend to feature this as a future malt of the week.

Notable whiskies we've run out of and are no longer available (unless someone knnows of a secret stash?) are Ardbeg's Serendipity, The Dalmore Cigar Malt (now replaced by the Gran Reserva), Balvenie 17yo Rum Cask and Glenrothes 1987.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Canadian Single Malt Glen Breton

I have just finished reading yet another article on the long running saga involving the Scotch Whisky Association and a previously little known distillery in Canada.

There has been much newsprint and web space devoted to the story and for those interested in further reading, here are some links

The SWA beef with Glenora Distillery is their use of the name Glen Breton on the label. The distillery is located in a glen at Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, Canada. The SWA argue that use of the word "Glen" confuses consumers into believing the whisky is made in Scotland. I don't intend to get into the politics, there are good arguments on both sides, especially when you look at cases involving Scottish sounding names on Indian "whiskies".

Recently, one of my customers told me had family coming over to visit from Canada. I got talking to him about the Glen Breton single malt and he expressed an interest in trying it.
I said I would order a bottle in for behind the bar and once he had tasted it I would order another to share with his visitors.

His Canadian cousins expressed some surprise when he told them what he was proposing to share with them, since although being well known outside the country because of the long legal battle, the whisky is not that well known in its own country.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Inverness Trip

Last week I offered to chauffeur my wife to a business meeting in Inverness, a good excuse I thought to visit another distillery.

We had a lovely run up the unusually quiet A96, with the top-down the whole way, and arrived in time to avoid a torrential downpour which lasted for nearly an hour. As I feared at the time, this proved to be the end of the heat-wave.
We awoke to a very grey overcast morning with the prospect of more rain on the way, so that ruled out a lingering thought to walk up Benrinnes with a quick visit to Aberlour Distillery. Not being a prolific walker I wasn't prepared to take a chance on deteriorating weather, and besides, there was every chance the meeting would be finished by lunchtime and I didn't want to be stuck half-way up a hill, with no phone reception, when the chauffeur's call came through.
My next thought was of course a distillery visit. My first stop was Tomatin, 16 miles south of Inverness on the A9 (I had remembered how close it was from a previous visit to Inverness) - if you carry on south on the A9 and turn off to Carrbridge/Grantown-on-Spey you have several options for returning to Aberdeen, all of them more scenic and quicker than the A96. My favourite is probably via the Lecht, although the Cabrach route brings back memories of trips to visit my Grandparents in Rothes.

The location of Tomatin is spectacular, set against the eastern edge of the Monadh Liath mountains and surrounded pine forests. Close by is the impressive Findhorn Railway Bridge. Since time was short I decided not to wait the 45 minutes until the next tour, and after a quick look round the Visitor Centre Shop, which had some miniature whisky barrel piggy banks for sale, I headed off.

I had decided it would be fun to try to find The Speyside Distillery, which because it doesn't have a visitors centre, can be quite hard to find. The distillery is located on the banks of the River Tromie, near the village of Drumguish, and takes its name from the original Speyside Distillery which was located in nearby Kingussie. The vision for the distillery came from a former whisky broker George Christie, whose family also owned the Strathmore grain distillery in Cambus. It was Alex Fairlie, a dry stane dyker, who single-handedly laid all the stonework over a twenty year period, the results of which are a wee gem of a distillery in the most beautiful of surroundings. The distillery first started producing in 1990 and in some parts is best known for the "black malt" it produces, Cu Dubh, largely for the Scandinavian market. The distillery appeared in the BBC TV series "Monarch of the Glen" as the Lagganmore Distillery.

After ten minutes driving round the area I was forced to ask a local for directions, and then I had to ignore the "Private"sign if I wanted to discover the distillery. The only signs of life were at the adjacent house, a couple of cats and some hens running about. The Mash/Still House door was open but there was no sign of activity there, obviously we were in the quiet season. Then I found a door marked "office" so I tried my luck. I was greeted by the distillery manager, Andrew Shand, who couldn't have been more welcoming, despite no doubt having loads of paperwork to catch up on. The distillery is run by only 4 men, and works a 5-day week starting with the first mash at 10pm on a Sunday evening. The distillery may be unique in having all its equipment, mash tun, washbacks, stills and receivers in the one building. The distinctive building is angled to follow the mill lade which originally powered the old mill that gives the site its name. The old mill is actually still intact and in working order! The water, which comes from the river Tromie, is used for both process and cooling in the distillery and is closer to the source of the Spey than that of any other distillery.
We will be featuring Drumguish Single Malt from the distillery as our Malt of the Week shortly

Timing was perfect - just as I took my final picture, my mobile rang, my wife would be finished her meeting in an hour - time enough to make my way back to Inverness.

We took the scenic route home although the weather was grey with squally showers. The Cabrach was closed due to road works so we went via Aberlour and Keith, on the way passing Tormore, my favourite distillery from a visual aspect.

Malts of the Week

Our current Malts of the Week are
Highland Park 12 yo (smoky) and
Tamdhu 8yo by Gordon & MacPhail (non-smoky)

Wednesday, 8 July 2009


Welcome to The Grill Blog!

Thought it might be a good idea to use this space to let you know about new arrivals in the bar - whiskies that is. They come thick and fast these days - I have trouble keeping our list up to date.

I'll also post details of my distillery visits and any bits of whisky related news that might be of interest.

Your welcome to post requests,questions and anything else that takes your fancy.

I've used a picture my daughter took of me when we were visiting my son in Houston, it sure was a Texas-sized margarita! Just to prove I have a life outside of single malts!

Slainte Mhath!