30 January 2016

Public database for labels on whisky bottles

Quite by accident I found a website that lets one search an online liquor database for labels on bottles. It's highly enjoyable to brows all the labels.

The interface is self explanatory and let's you search multiple entries in the database. The last 30 days of new labels are not free to access but you can see if your favorite brand is about to bring out something new. 

Please note that the labels are probably copywrite protected, but the site does allow linking to individual pages. 

The image below shows the interface. 

29 January 2016

Unboxing a sample of Octomore 07.1

Yesterday a 6 cl sample of Bruichladdich Octomore 07.1 arrived. 

Some pictures of the unboxing. 

Will post here later what I think of Octomore. I especially bought a sample first because, frankly, before committing €150,- plus to a bottle I want to be sure I'm not buying a dram that's just not me. 

So the kind people of whiskysite.nl offer samples that help with this issue. 

The 6 cl samples offer just enough liquid so I'm able to have 3 to 4 tastings before the bottle is empty. Which is good, since Octomore might be something that needs to grow on you. 

Anyway, since my nose is all blocked from a wee cold, I'm postponing the first tasting till I'm all clear again. No sense in wasting a €22,- sample ;) 

21 January 2016

Hunting for Bruichladdich Octomore 07.4

Normally when I do a "hunting for" blog I look up the price levels of a Dram on websites in Holland and some other sites that ship to Holland. 

Right now I'm hunting for the price level for the just released Bruichladdich Octomore 07.4 / 167 ppm Virgin Oak.

I can put information in this blog about this dram, but it is much better if you go look at the source: http://www.bruichladdich.com/article/new-octomore-074-released

At this point in time, 21 of January 2016, the only place that has Octomore 07.4 available for ordering is the Bruichladdich.com online shop. It retails for £151,25 (€198 incl. shipping to Holland)

I will add more site when prices become available! 

First sites to mention a price are:
www.bottleworld.de/ : €229,99
- eBay.de: €299,-
- www.masterofmalt: 206,51
drankdozijn.nl: €175.- (discount) normally €199,-
www.wijnhuisdenboer.nl: €199,-

Prices are dated on 08-03-2016.

So, for now, the discount price of Drankdozijn is the lowest I can find, but after that ordering at Bruichladdich itself is the best option if one lives in Holland. 

19 January 2016

Hunting for Gjoleid Norwegian Single Malt

I sometimes travel to Norway for my work and the tax free shop on Oslo Gardamoen airport very interesting for whisky drinkers! The normal HUGE Norwegian taxes are thrown right out off the window! 

One of the bottles I hope to find there is a Norwegian Single Malt whisky called Gjoleid. It is made at the Arcus Distillery. Some earlier versions were bottled at 3,5 years old. 

I first learned of Gjoleid single malts from the world whisky atlas. I read the 73% vol alcohol percentage and my reaction was:"wow"! Now I think the 73% might have been a typo, since I can only find 43% references in the very few internet sites that even mention this dram.

I cannot find to many references on the internet that are in English, but at the last whisky festival in Oslo there seems to have been a presentation and some people blogged about it. I will try to find the blogs and see if new expressions have become available.

Some tasting notes for an earlier version of Gjoleid can be found on Norwegian blogs, in English! 



I will try to get a hold on a current version of Gjoleid and see if I can review it. 

18 January 2016

Culturally dependant tasting notes

CSince I have been exploring the smells and tastes of whisky I have come around to some interesting ones.

In this blog I will try to keep track of the ones I do not recognise myself, since I am Dutch. 

Since I am Dutch, the first thing that is hard for me to relate to from a taste point of view would be tastes that are only typically found in English, Scottish or Irish dishes. 

Some of those tastes that I ran into during my viewing of the Bruichladdich LaddieMP3 online tasting were;

  • Christmas cake,
  • Red Medicine,

My first reaction to the Christmas Cake tasting note in the full term sherry matured laddiemp3 was :"what!?!?"

Guys! Really! I haven't got a clue what a Christmas cake is, let aside, how it would taste. 

So what I did just now is Google it and I found a recipe on the BBC site.

Since it doesn't get more British then the BBC I will take this reference to be true, but feel free to give feedback if it's not ! 


So first line in the recipe indicates that you need "Whisky" to apparently drawn the cake in! ;) so yeah! That does explain the Christmas cake note in whisky now does it ;) Hillarious! 

The ingredients are listed on the recipe:
  • 1kg mixed dried fruit (use a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries, cranberries, prunes or figs)
  • zest and juice 1 orange
  • zest and juice 1 lemon
  • 150ml brandy, Sherry, whisky or rum, plus extra for feeding
  • 250g pack butter, softened
  • 200g light soft brown sugar
  • 175g plain flour
  • 100g ground almond
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 100g flaked almond
  • 4 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Most of the ingredients are also to be found in Sherry Matured Whisky if one trusts tasting notes of other whisky's such as Aberlour. So the recognition of "Birthday Cake" is one that is explained by the Raisins, Sultanas, whisky, Almond and Vanilla mostly. 

I have never tasted Christmas Cake but if I am ever in England around Christmas I will ask for it and see if I can expand my palate.

Red Medicine: I tried looking that up but I will have to contact the people first tweeting about it to find out what it was and what it is. To be continued!

I think I found the reference to the red medicine. It is mentioned on a blog by Billy Abbott, http://bbblog.org.uk/2015/11/laddiemp3-bruichladdichs-digital-micro-provenance-tasting-part-3/

"Taste: Intense red medicine – the stuff I used to get given for colds as a child in the 1980s: liquid red liquorice, fake blackcurrant and an undercurrent of something worryingly medicinal. Green herbal background – throat lozenges, pine needles and damp fields of ferns. Lots of red boiled sweets of all flavours, and an intense sweetness of the most ruby of ruby ports."

I will ask what this stuff is but from the looks of it it may be a medicine from the olden days that is discontinued. 

I contacted Billy Abbott via Twitter and he  helped by giving the reference more clarity. Thank you Billy!

In reactions to this tweet some brandnames for such medications were given. Pertussin and Benylin. 

This kind of syrup is also known in Holland and depending on the company selling it it has many names. 

With this reference in mind I pored myself a dram of the Bruichladdich Port matured cask 543 laddiemp3

I closed my eyes, took in a wee taste and let it strole around. Now that my mouth was ready, took another taste and yes, I do understand now the "red medicine" note as Billy Abbott describes it.

The conclusion I draw from all this fun-time investigation of notes is that they are, and should be, highly personal! But! They can be "transferred" to fellow whisky drinkers by describing them. Making a connection from one person to the other! This is one of the fun parts of the quest I am on!

Wonderfully interesting! 

17 January 2016

A Laphroaig 10yo to warm me up?

Today I went for a rather long bicycle ride with my 6 yo son! It's around freezing point here in the Netherlands so it was brisk to say the least! 

Ones home the little dude is happy to sit at his WII U Lego game, which gives me the time to enjoy a wee dram to warm me up! 

Standing in front of my "non-Bruichladdich" part of the cupboard I was thinking and debating which dram to have!

It was definitely not going to be the Akashi White Oak! That was a mistake to buy but you only find out what you don't like by trying. 

So the Aberlour then? It's warming yes, but more a dram for later at night! 

So maybe the Ardbeg 10? The Talisker Storm? Nope I choose the Laphroaig 10yo to warm me up! 

So while the kids watch Dora and play on the WII U, dad gets to put his feet up and nip on his dram! While at the same time writing this blog! 

So does it warm me up? Well that's where it gets weird! I do enjoy the Laphroaig 10yo a lot but somehow it's not bringing me the warmth I was looking  for. Yes there is peat! Yes there is a peppery note for sure but ones swallowed it doesn't quite warm me inside as I would have hoped! 

Can this be the "only" 40% vol that just doesn't give the warning effect? Maybe! Can I be that the room I'm in is cold? Plausible! Most probably it's the combination and these facts and that my 3yo daughter keeps pressing her cold hands in my face and that bear of hers! 

So now I have finished my dram, this blog is about to end with an observation. If you want to get warm with a dram, don't have cold bears around! 

Now that if had my dram and I'm correcting spelling errors I do feel some warmth from within but not the rush of warmth I was hoping for. So next time I want to warm up with a dram I will select another of my bottles and see how those do! 

This only shows that the only way to learn about whisky is by experience! To quote Adam Hannett:"interesting!".

15 January 2016

Hunting for Bruichladdich Laddie Classic Edition_01

The For some time now I have been checking out Bruichladdich Laddie Classic Edition_01. I cannot precisely say why this dram is getting my attention but it does. For me it seems to represent the "Bruichladdich" style as much as anything even more as the "resurrection dram" version.

I bought the resurrection dram some time ago, but I'm reluctant to start drinking it, since it set me back a cool €171!

The edition_01 is not as highly priced as the resurrection version so I would feel less reluctant about actually opening the bottle and having a dram. 

Question? If I'm not investing in whisky, why should I keep myself from tasting the resurrection dram? Why am I reluctantly waiting? Do I need to get past a point? Thought?

Anyways, let's see what I would need to pay for a bottle of edition_01 at the regular sites I check out.
  • Drank.nl : € Not Available 
  • Drankgigant.nl : € Not Available 
  • Drankdozijn.nl : € 79,50
  • Mitra.nl : € Not Available 
  • Gall.nl : € Not Available 
  • Bestofwhisky.com : € Not available 
  • onlinewhiskybestellen.nl : € Not available
  • Whisky-on-line.com : € Not available 
  • passievoorwhisky.nl : € Not available
  • Masterofmalt.com : € Not available
  • Vooreenmooiglas.nl: € Not available 
This dram seems to be hard to come by! Question to you all. Should I get it?

I think I should if I ever want to get my hands on a bottle! I ordered it at the only place that had one bottle still available. It should be delivered on Tuesday the 19th of January. I look forward to having a wee dram out of this bottle! 

The bottle was delivered! 

It's standing proudly next to his brother on in the Bruichladdich section of my cupboard! 

I opened it up and poured myself a wee dram! It's wonderful! Too early for tasting notes, but this is a dram I like! 

5 January 2016

Preparing a trip to Islay, Scotland

I want to visit Islay, Scotland, with my wife!

This blog entry will be my notebook on how to get there, where to stay, where to eat, what to see, etc. 

Useful link I got from people on Twitter: http://www.islayinfo.com/travel.html

How to get there
By plane, Schiphol to Glasgow then on to islay airport. The only way to get to islay seems to be flighing in from either Oban or Glasgow. So Glasgow it is! The air service from islay to Oban is not flying to Glasgow as far as I can see, but I was not intending to go to Oban anyways. Well not on this trip I am not. 

Just for fun I tried looking up what a trip in the beginning of March would cost. Turns out the costs are not to bad! For about € 250 per person we can make the  trip! The prices are dependent on for when you book and how much time in advance. I will do some further checking on Flybe.com to see if I can find a most cost effective connection. 

Update 16/08/2016:
Turns out that I got myself a round way ticket for €54,-. I had saved up so many frequent flyer miles that the only things I'm paying now are taxes. Normally I would have payed around €150,-

Ones on/in Islay we we need to get around. The options would be to arrange transport by taxi, public bus, rental car or an organised touring company. 

Two car renstal are available on islay. Both Islay car rental companies offer pick up at airport, islaycarhire.com & carhireonislay.co.uk I won't be considering this option because of two reasons. One is left hand driving and the other is finding a designated driver. The extra costs are also a reason for choosing another option.

Since my higher education I have always traveled by public transport and since all the distilleries are all located near a bus stop I choose to take the public transport option. If need be I will get a taxi. 
Public transport is available and a timetable can be found here: Timetable

The photo below indicates the routes available on islay for public bus transport.

Update 16/08/2016:
After figuring out all the ferry sailing times I found out that, in my case, none really connect back well enough to allow me comfortable travel to and from Islay without not making the ferry or the flight back using the bus. Also the connecting bus to kennacraig departs from mid city Glasgow and this adds to travel time. 

So in the end we decided to get a rental car and this allows us to comfortably make crossings in time. I found out that my employer has a discount arrangement with Hertz which is saving 10-20%.

Update: 18/08/2016
I learned that booking the ferry works like this if you want a spot on the ferry. If you can book it, then its available. So, if you can select a time on the booking site of the ferry, it means that the ferry was not full at the moment you are booking. If it doesn't show up in the booking options while booking that ferry is full! At the end of the online booking session you get a two page pdf confirmation via email.

Where to stay
For accommodation I was adviced to check out multiple options by contacts on Twitter. 

Right next to Bruichladdich distillery is An Taigh Osda bed and breakfast. Great views and excellent food. For max of £80 per person per night. 
The ballygrant inn is good and price is ok and easy enough to get to Bruichladdich.

On the other side of the loch is The Bowmore House (about €114 per night) which is centrally located on the Island and would make excellent starting point for visits to both Bruichladdich on one side and Ardbeg / Lagavulin / Laphroaig / Caol Ila on the other side

Update 16/08/2016:
Here the date of booking really limited our options for finding an accommodation. My advice in retrospect is to BOOK EARLIER!!! Lol! Now we ended up in the hotel of one of the most popular pubs on Islay! The horror!! And that for €80,- pppn. The Lochside hotel in Bowmore is our home for three nights.

Where to eat?

I like to taste the local kitchen. Since Islay is obviously an island seafood would be on the menu. Filtering this on trip advisor I got this listing. 

Summering the estimated costs:
Flight : €251 (Amsterdam-Glasgow-Islay round trip)
Bed and Breakfast : €114 per night
Transport by bus on islay : €10 max per day
Diner : max €50 per person per day
Tour at Bruichladdich: €33,55 for the wearhouse experience
Bottle of valinch: £ 75,-

So in total a trip would cost about €618,- 

Update 16/08/2016:
- ticket : €55,-
- rental car : €150 (cost of €300 split by two)
- ferry : € 37,50 (cost of 65 split by two)
- Diner : max €50 per person per day
- Tour at Bruichladdich: €33,55 for the wearhouse experience
- Bottle of valinch: £ 75,-
- hotel : €80,- per night

Total cost for three nights will be about €650,- increased with cost for additional tours.

Personally I think it would be well worth the trip since this idea has become something of a "bucket-list" goal in my life. Why that is is not for this blog, but I believe more and more that delaying the opportunity  to life now is not a wise thing to do. You may not be around to live a dream. So don't delay what you can do now!

I have been talking to Matt Goodwin! He spend Some days on Islay and was kind enough to give me some advice. Please look at his trip on YouTube: 

Thank you Armin of Islay Blog for the answers to many questions!! Check out http://www.islayblog.com/ for his blog! 

3 January 2016

Hunting for Old Pulteney 17 yo

Today I watched a Review by Ralfy on YouTube that features Old Pulteney 17 yo. I always enjoy the reviews of Ralfy since they are honnest, straat forward and non-commercial. Go Watch it.

Photo by oldpulteney.com

I wanten to see what the price level would be for this Dram, so I did my normal scan along all the retailers I know here in Holland.

Turns out that here in Holland my options are: 

  • Drank.nl : € Not Available 
  • Drankgigant.nl : € 72,50
  • Drankdozijn.nl : € 72,50
  • Mitra.nl : € Not Available
  • Gall.nl : € Not Available
  • Bestofwhisky.com : € 79,70
  • onlinewhiskybestellen.nl : € Not Available
  • Whisky-on-line.com : € Not Available
  • passievoorwhisky.nl : € Not Available
  • Masterofmalt.com : € 81,41

Apparently this malt is not meant for the general public since they are not sold in the Gall en Gall en Mitra stores. This means you will not run into it when shopping at a supermarket or a mall here in Holland. You will have to go in to a specialist store or shop at one of the above mentioned sites.

This time Drankdozijn and Drankgigant are ex aequo in first place. Drankgigant is again the best in price.

2 January 2016

Is Mr. Justin Bieber also a whisky aficionado?

I came across a page informing the world that Mr. Justin Bieber seems, like myself, to also have a taste for fine whisky. 

Can we welcome Mr. Bieber as a fellow whisky aficionado? Let's find out!

The page I found is: 

I found it interesting to find out what whisky Mr. Bieber was drinking and luckily the page gives some details. 

The page mentions that it was a "Hennessy" whisky and from the images and video I was able to deduct what spirit it was.

Since the Hennessy bottles are all off different shape depending on the spirit, it was not to hard to find the bottle that Mr. Bieber was drinking. The bottle he is holding us tapering outwards from the bottom. Since only one bottle in the Hennessy range had this feature it was quite easy to identify the spirit. The bottle Mr. Bieber was holding is most likely "Hennessy VS".
I had heard of Hennessy before, but never in the context of Whisky or Whiskey. 

After some googling I found out there is no such thing as Hennessy Whisky. The bottle Mr. Bieber was holding is a cognac! 

Let's find out about this spirit! According to the Hennessy website these tasting notes apply to it: 
Hennessy Very Special brings together an intense and fruity character with oaky notes. On the palate, powerful flavors suggest grilled almonds, supported by notes reminiscent of fresh grapes.

According to http://whiskyanalysis.com/index.php/methodology-introduction/methodology-flavour-comparison/ Mr. Bieber would probably like whiskies such as Aberlour 10yo, Glenfarclas 10yo/12yo/21yo/25yo/30yo, Glenmorangie Signet, Highland Park 18yo.

I have not found any more references of Mr. Bieber being a fellow whisky aficionado but if he is I am sure we will welcome him! 

1 January 2016

Whisky Flavor Maps and charts

I have been reading up on what flavors are available to be found in whisky. Seems there are loads of charts to be found.

One chart I like is the one made by Dave Broom, author of the atlas of world whisky. I can not put his chart up in this blog since he has the copywrite of it and you will just have to buy his iBook or Book online.

Another chart which I like a lot can be found on the page http://whiskyanalysis.com/

There is highly detailed information there to be found and it uses the information already available in studies and puts it in a flavor map.

The chart is based on the Wishart information whisky data set derived from his first book. Some statistics analysis methods and software were used to make the charts found below. I tried to reproduce the chart, but found I needed to become a theoretical statistics expert to do so. You can use these links if you want to give it a go yourself: 
- Http://blog.revolutionanalytics.com/2013/12/k-means-clustering-86-single-malt-scotch-whiskies.html
-  http://joelcadwell.blogspot.nl/2014/07/using-biplots-to-map-cluster-solutions.html?m=1


The information presented in this map chart is characterized by simular flavor camps that Dave Broom also uses in his writings.

I find both flavor maps highly informative and helping me identify where the whisky I like is placed in these charts. Will that mean I will not like a whisky that is situated on the other end of a spectrum? It may, but when I am after a simular taste experience to a whisky I know I may look at these charts and find a close neighbor. 

Another chart I located online also puts port/whine/sherry influences in a chart. 

This help because it shows the influence of sherry and other wine casks on the flavor profile of a whisky. From the Dave Broom diagram is is not clear to me if I would be buying a sherry matured whisky or not. This is not a big issue since you will probably be able to read information on the label that would help in this respect. Also blogs, reviews can help. I however like this char since it helps spot the sherry tasting whisky I don't like at this point in time. 

Is there a universal truth? No! Why do I say this? A chart like the ones above may be true on some level, but it will never have the detail to match up with your own personal flavor preferences. Therefor I advice to use these charts for what they are and let your senses make the choice if you like a dram or not.