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Distillery tour of Scotland (May 2018)

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Help Me Plan My Trip To Scotland In 2018 - Part One

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Help Me Plan My Trip To Scotland In 2018 - Part One


In a little under a year, Dad-of-WhiskyDad (i.e. my Dad) and I, will be travelling from Australia to Scotland for a 28-day whisky adventure!

We will be arriving in the UK around May 21st, next year, flying in and out of Manchester Airport and hiring a car to get around. There are a few things we really want to do, but for the most part we are open to suggestions for the must see, must do, Scottish whisky experiences.

In order to maximise enjoyment and minimise the need to stick to a strict schedule, of the Scottish Isles we will only be visiting Islay. As much as I would love to visit them all, I would rather spend a few days on Islay and save the others for another visit. We will also be spending a significant amount of time in Campbeltown since the timing of our trip is intentional to align with the Campbeltown Malts Festival and hopefully a five-day Springbank Whisky School as well. I imagine we will spend some time in and around the Highlands and Speyside in the second half of the trip and visit Edinburgh on the way back south.

Dad-of-WhiskyDad spent his childhood in an English town called Corby, after my grandparents moved there from Scotland; so we will finish our trip in Corby and have a few ‘Where Did I Come From’ moments along the way.

How Can You Help?

If you have been to Scotland before, what are your must-see whisky experiences? Distilleries we must visit, tours we must take, places we must go, people we must meet and sights we must see. Or perhaps you know a few whisky secrets you are willing to share? This will be an ongoing process and I will keep you abreast of the plan leading up to the trip itself and of course, I will blog my experience whilst over there.

If you would like to make suggestions to help shape our Scottish whisky adventure, please do so either using the comments at the end of this post or via the WhiskyDad Facebook page or Twitter.


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Paul John Bold Impressions

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Paul John Bold Impressions

Original photo provided by Tim Grant and used with permission.

What is it?

Distillery: Paul John
Name: Bold
Make: Indian Single Malt Whisky
Extra Info: The Paul John distillery is situated in Goa, on the west coast of India. In the hot and humid weather of Goa, whisky ages three or four times faster than in your typical Scottish storehouse. This means a young Indian single malt can look, smell and taste comparable to a much older Scotch single malt. Unfortunately, the rapid ageing also means that far more whisky is lost to the “Angel’s Share” in India; in the case of Paul John, around 6% to 8% of the volume of a cask is lost per year of ageing. In comparison, an ageing Scotch whisky cask usually reduces in volume at a rate of less than 2% per year.

Why did I buy it?

I didn't. This is a review of a sample bottle kindly provided by Paul John. I usually only review full-size bottles since I can take my time and drink as much as I need to finalise my impressions. That is more difficult to do with a sample bottle, but I have done my best.

What did I think of it?

Presentation: Paul John whisky has an unusually uniform design language across their entire range. In fact, it can be difficult to distinguish between expressions from a distance, since the label differences are very subtle and the colour of the whisky look very similar. Bottled at 46% ABV.

Appearance: All the whisky in the Paul John range looks the same golden hue to me, but Paul John proudly claim their whisky contains no artificial colouring and are non-chill filtered. I can only assume that some form of distillery wizardry must take place to achieve such a consistent colour across the range.

Aroma: Quite a restrained nose, faint clove spice, not smokey at all, a little fruity.

Flavour: A very pleasant smooth and balanced spicy mix with a smokiness that builds as the whisky warms in your mouth.

Finish: A bit of a nothing finish, a brief spicy pop that fades quickly.

Would I buy it again?

No, in my opinion, Paul John Bold is a little one dimensional; by saying that I mean Paul John Bold definitely stars on the palate but fails to impress on the nose and in the finish. I am sure that a lot of people would like this whisky since it excels in flavour without overpowering the drinker but personally, I like a little more going on regardless of how tasty it may be. Paul John Bold is an inoffensive single malt that tastes great but is just not as involving as I would have liked. It would make an excellent introduction to Indian single malt whisky or as an example of a lightly peated malt for someone new to a peated style. Perhaps it could have been better if it was bottled at a slightly higher ABV.

Disclaimer: I do not claim to have the nose and palate of a Master Sommelier, however, I am working to train my senses to better identify whisky aromas and flavours. Consider all my whisky 'Impressions' to be a work in progress and I hope to come back to each of them in the future to see if I notice anything different. Most importantly, I'm not just throwing around random aromas, flavours and adjectives for the hell of it; I am trying really hard to critically describe each whisky I taste - WhiskyDad.
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Mackmyra Ten Years Impressions

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Mackmyra Ten Years Impressions

Original photo provided by Mackmyra and used with permission.

What is it?

Distillery: Mackmyra
Name: Ten Years
Make: Swedish Single Malt Whisky
Extra Info: Mackmyra was founded in 1999 by a group of eight like minded whisky-loving friends studying at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. Their first whisky, Preludium 01, was released in 2006. Mackmyra source all of their ingredients from within Sweden. Mackmyra Ten Years is the brand’s first age statement single malt whisky.

Why did I buy it?

I didn't. This is a review of a sample bottle kindly provided by Mackmyra. I usually only review full-size bottles since I can take my time and drink as much as I need to finalise my impressions; that is more difficult to do with a sample bottle, but I have done my best.

What did I think of it?

Presentation: If Mackmyra Ten Years was IKEA, it would be called 'Giant catalogue maze that you can't escape without buying a side table with a silly name, when all you want is a hotdog.' It pretty much says it all on the label. Bottled at 46.1% ABV.

Appearance: Um, yellow? It's not pale like straw or darker gold.

Aroma: Smells like a freshly opened box of IKEA flat-pack furniture, with tinned fruit in syrup and some grass. 

Flavour: Fruity with a slight sweet smokiness - not peated, more like a smokey spice, paprika perhaps?

Finish: Quite long with a strong spicy fade.

Would I buy it again?

Yes, I only had a measly 50ml to taste and that was enough to pique my interest. I have tried a number of Mackmyra whiskies in the past and the Ten Years is definitely one of the better ones. An excellent choice for an introduction to Scandinavian whisky. 

Disclaimer: I do not claim to have the nose and palate of a Master Sommelier, however, I am working to train my senses to better identify whisky aromas and flavours. Consider all my whisky 'Impressions' to be a work in progress and I hope to come back to each of them in the future to see if I notice anything different. Most importantly, I'm not just throwing around random aromas, flavours and adjectives for the hell of it; I am trying really hard to critically describe each whisky I taste - WhiskyDad.
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Interview with Joel Hauer of Whisky Loot

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Interview with Joel Hauer of Whisky Loot



I’m joined today by Joel Hauer of the new Australian-based whisky subscription service, Whisky Loot. For those who are not aware, a whisky subscription service is a service that sends subscribers a regular package of whisky in exchange for a fee. This operates similarly to a wine club but since whisky is usually much more expensive than wine, you may only get smaller sample bottles rather than full-sized retail bottles.

Hi Joel, what is your background and why start your own whisky subscription service?

My background is in marketing & startups, and I've always had a passion for whisky, although I also want to ensure people don't make the same mistakes and have the same frustrations I had when I tried to learn more & taste more of what's out there. I acknowledge that I'm definitely not the most knowledgeable in the world of whisky, so we have plans to get an expert ambassador onboard to help curate the themed boxes each month, as this will add a level of trust and transparency to the offering.

What makes Whisky Loot different to other whisky subscription services on the market?

We're focusing on premium whisky at a reasonable price, with 3 x 60mL bottles at $60/mo. including delivery. In order to achieve this, we're partnering with the distilleries directly and forming relationships to make this mutually beneficial and passing on the reduced costs to consumers. We've been talking with a lot of Whisky lovers, distilleries, bar owners and business people to try and ascertain pain points that we can solve. There's a lot of heritage within the industry and established practices which we think are somewhat outdated and could be done a bit better.

What do subscribers get for their money?

We're focusing on education first and foremost, by proving consumers with relevant tasting notes and allowing them to form their own opinion about the Whisky. Each bottle is presented in a premium monthly box, which comes along with a tasting booklet allowing people to write down their thoughts as they taste. Our site will also double as a shop, showcasing recent tasting boxes' full bottles, at a member only discount.

Are subscribers committed to buying even if they are not interested in a particular month's selection?

The subscription system allows people to skip a month they may not be inclined to taste, and even pause for up to 3 months at a time. 

Do you sign up for a particular number of months? Can you cancel at any time?

Cancel anytime on a monthly recurring delivery.

Is the Whisky Loot service restricted to addresses within Australia? What about our neighbours in New Zealand?

Not immediately, we have plans once launched to push into different markets.

Can you order a single sample box to be sent to someone else as a gift?

Yes, 3, 6 or 12-month gifts.


From how many whiskies will you be choosing your sample boxes from and can you give any examples of future selections?

Themed boxes, to be released online 7 days prior to the billing date - giving customers ample time to skip that month if they don't like the sound of that themed box.

So when does Whisky Loot go live and how can someone sign up?

It is live now for pre-orders, just head to whiskyloot.com.

Thanks for your time Joel and all the best for the Whisky Loot in future. 
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Toast The Macallan Sydney 2017

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Toast The Macallan Sydney 2017



I have a confession to make; my reasons for getting into whisky blogging were not entirely altruistic. The potential to be invited to sweet whisky events and perhaps imbibe even sweeter whisky – for free – was indeed a driving factor. Well, now that your image of me as a selfless writer is well and truly shattered, I am happy to report I recently received my first invite to such a whisky event and did indeed enjoy not only free whisky (including a full-size bottle as a parting gift) but also free food!...Tick and tick.


But this isn’t a post about how to get free whisky, it is an account of how The Macallan put on a whisky event and why they really are one of the best in the business for engaging with their target market. This was my second Macallan-focussed tasting event, but Toast The Macallan Australia is on a different level to your average whisky tasting night. Held at the Roslyn Packer Theatre (previously the Sydney Theatre), in the heart of Sydney, Edrington (owner of the Macallan brand) selected and decked out a stunning location.

The Richard Wherrett Studio with its wooden floorboards, high ceiling and beautiful bare brick walls dating back more that 100 years to the building’s warehouse beginnings, provided a perfect setting for fine dining and whisky tasting. Toast The Macallan has been held in South-East Asia previously but has only recently arrived in Australia; coinciding with the release onto the Australian market of The Macallan Double Oak 12 Years Old single malt whisky. The format follows a three-course fine dining meal, expertly paired with a selection of Macallan whiskies. In the case of the Sydney event, the food was curated by Australian chef James Viles of Bowral’s two hatted Biota Dining and I can report it was one of the best things I have ever tasted and not just because it was free.

Unfortunately for me, I had underestimated the effect of the Vivid Festival on Sydney traffic and arrived late, missing out on the canapés but still managing to grab a cocktail on my way into the venue. Canapés on offer included dried pear cigars filled with sheep’s milk blue cheese, charcoal bark with whipped roe cream, fermented garlic and clay-cooked beetroot tartare and duck ham with endive and goat's cheese. All of the canapés were delicious, apparently – I was particularly disappointed to have missed out on the duck ham. Accompanying the canapés were two whisky cocktails, an Old Fashioned made with The Macallan Double Cask 12 Years Old and the only one I got to try, a cocktail of The Macallan Fine Oak 12 Years Old, Oloroso sherry, tonic and lemon thyme which was very tasty and refreshing.

Our host for the evening was The Macallan Brand Ambassador, Sietse Offringa, son of Hans Offringa, professional whisky writer and author of more than 20 books. Sietse was brought up surrounded by whisky and developed a love and appreciation for the brown spirit from an early age. It was a pleasure to listen to Sietse (the most Scottish sounding Dutchman you are likely to find) introduce us to a selection of The Macallan range, which included The Macallan Fine Oak 12 Years Old, Double Cask 12 Years Old and The Macallan Rare Cask.

The star whisky of the evening was The Macallan Double Cask 12 Years Old single malt, new to the Australian market and now readily available.

I was lucky enough to receive a bottle of this whisky and will write a full review in due time. The ‘Double Cask’ in the name comes from the use of both ex-sherry European and American oak casks, each bringing unique flavour profiles that are expertly combined to produce the final whisky. I did not bother critically comparing the three whiskies on the night, preferring instead to simply enjoy them, but I did enjoy The Macallan Double Cask 12 Years Old the most of the three.

Toast The Macallan would not have been the same without the amazing three-course meal provided by James Viles; it was enough for me to add visiting Biota Dining in Bowral to my bucket list and was expertly paired with the selection of whiskies. Entrée was smoked kingfish loin, with lime, and white radish and kelp oil served with charcoal corn, and citrus and wild fennel salad. The use of wildflowers paired well with the floral characteristics of the Fine Oak 12 Years Old and the citrus and fennel were most definitely present in the Double Cask 12 Years Old.

The main was a glazed beef rib that fell apart and almost dissolved in the mouth. It was served with chestnut crème and rappe stem. Raw chestnuts were also passed around which I thought tasted a bit like raw coconut.

The beef was complemented beautifully with a dish of wild mushrooms with what I believe was a smoked cream. The richness of this course paired very well with the richer flavours and silky texture of The Macallan Rare Cask.

Dessert was an amazing honey crème with toasted rye grains and artichoke ice cream topped with a thin crunchy bark made from the water left over from cooking the rye grain. The ice cream was frozen with liquid nitrogen immediately prior to serving and together with the crunchy popcorn-like rye grains and honey crème was simply delicious and a perfect way to end the evening.

Toast The Macallan was a truly enjoyable and engaging night of fine whisky and fine dining.

The Macallan sets a very high bar when it comes to hosting events such as this and there is no doubt why they have positioned themselves as a premium luxury brand among Scotch whisky. But that said, both the Fine Oak 12 Years Old and the new to Australia Double Cask 12 Years Old are quite reasonably priced at around A$110. I encourage you to give them a try and to jump at the chance to attend any future events hosted by The Macallan; you will not be disappointed.


My opinions are my own and were not influenced in any way, neither was I paid for this article. However, my attendance at this event was arranged by the Porter Novelli PR agency and I did receive a free bottle of The Macallan Double Cask 12 Years Old single malt on leaving…Score!
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Paul John Edited Impressions

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Paul John Edited Impressions

Original photo provided by Tim Grant and used with permission.

What is it?

Distillery: Paul John
Name: Edited
Make: Indian Single Malt Whisky
Extra Info: The Paul John distillery is situated in Goa, on the west coast of India. Paul John Edited is distilled from a mix of unpeated Indian malt and malt dried with fires fuelled by peat imported from Islay and Aberdeen in Scotland. Approximately 15% of the final whisky uses the peated malt, producing a lightly peated profile for this ex-bourbon cask matured Indian single malt whisky.

Why did I buy it?

I didn't. This is a review of a sample bottle kindly provided by Paul John. I usually only review full-size bottles since I can take my time and drink as much as I need to finalise my impressions. That is more difficult to do with a sample bottle, but I have done my best.

What did I think of it?

Presentation: Paul John whisky has an unusually uniform design language across their entire range. In fact, it can be difficult to distinguish between expressions from a distance, since the label differences are very subtle and the colour of the whisky look very similar. Bottled at 46% ABV.

Appearance: All the whisky in the Paul John range looks the same golden hue to me, but Paul John proudly claim their whisky contains no artificial colouring and are non-chill filtered. I can only assume that some form of distillery wizardry must take place to achieve such a consistent colour across the range.

Aroma: Big leather notes, perhaps some lanolin and charcoal.

Flavour: Thin mouthfeel with a clearly medicinal taste and a little spice.

Finish: Smooth, medium length with a lasting tingle on the tongue.

Would I buy it again?

No, it is not my favourite expression in the Paul John range. I stand by my own impressions but my tasting notes differ quite a lot from some other opinions I have read. Although I found the strong leather nose to be pleasant, it was also rather overpowering, leaving the whisky's aroma a little unbalanced. The flavour tasted like what I would imagine a lightly peated Laphroaig to taste like, so if you like your peated malts with a more medicinal flavour, you will most likely find a lot to enjoy in the Paul John Edited. 

Disclaimer: I do not claim to have the nose and palate of a Master Sommelier, however, I am working to train my senses to better identify whisky aromas and flavours. Consider all my whisky 'Impressions' to be a work in progress and I hope to come back to each of them in the future to see if I notice anything different. Most importantly, I'm not just throwing around random aromas, flavours and adjectives for the hell of it; I am trying really hard to critically describe each whisky I taste - WhiskyDad.
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Cooper King Distillery: Making the Old World, New Again

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Cooper King Distillery: Making the Old World, New Again

Inside a disused stable block just north of the historic English city of York, is a space reserved for a shiny copper still unlike any other within 17,000km. Designed and constructed in Tasmania, Australia, this still will soon travel from the opposite side of the world to become an integral piece in Abbie Neilson and Chris Jaume’s Cooper King Distillery; an extraordinary endeavour to undertake considering the amount of copper still manufacturing experience to be found in the UK. So why source a copper still from somewhere that wasn’t even settled by British explorers at the time the first whisky distilleries began to appear in Scotland? Well, to understand that, you need to retrace the steps of not the first settlers but those of Abbie and Chris, who set out for Van Diemen’s Land some 111 years later.

In 2014, Abbie and Chris, a successful scientist and an architect, set out across the seas in search of adventure and a break from the stresses of professional life.
Abbie and Chis on Tasmania's Overland Track.
Their journey led them to the island of Tasmania at the southern tip of Australia, where they visited each of the state’s whisky distilleries at the behest of a whisky blogging friend. At that time, Tasmanian Whisky was just emerging onto the world stage with relatively unknown Sullivan’s Cove Distillery having recently taken out the World’s Best Whisky for their French Oak Cask single malt at the prestigious World Whiskies Awards. The Tasmanian whisky industry was abuzz at the prospect that whisky from their little island could beat the traditional whisky producers at their own game. Who then wouldn’t be caught up in this excitement and think they could perhaps take something of this new world back to the old one?
We fell in love with Tasmania instantly,” says Abbie, “the welcoming people, the rugged landscape and of course the phenomenal food and drink we tasted thanks to the state’s many small-scale producers. 
Our visits to the whisky distilleries in particular, blew us away,” Chris adds, “we were meeting folk with incredible passion, relatively little industry experience, and an infectious Tassie ‘can-do’ attitude. They were approaching the challenge of producing whisky from all angles: we saw all manner of distillery buildings, stills, grains etc being used, and the end results were stunning. We came away from each distillery with a ton of questions which the next distiller would then answer. Though the more we found out, the more we wanted to know. We began to realise that to start a distillery you didn’t necessarily have to have Scottish roots or a £10million bank balance; it could be done on a small scale, on a limited budget, without compromise of flavour. The hands-on production techniques used by these guys, coupled with the limited volumes produced, was yielding some of the best whisky we had ever tasted. 
The seed was sown!” Abbie continues, “we had been whisky fans ever since our first trip to Edinburgh, we both enjoyed a challenge and we loved the thought of working together to craft a delicious spirit for us and others to enjoy. Over the next 18 months while away from home, we undertook training with Dean Jackson and Bill Lark of Redlands and Lark Distillery fame, visited countless other distilleries and tasting events, and wrote up our business plan. We were ready to hit the ground running when we returned to England late 2015. 
Tasmanians are a proud lot, island folk, fiercely independent of the ‘mainland’ but at the same time exceptionally accommodating.

There are few secrets in the Tasmanian whisky industry and everyone knows everyone; often not just on a professional level, but also on a personal one. Being a ‘local’ goes a long way when looking for help to start your own distillery, but that doesn’t mean you can’t become an honorary local if you show the same drive and passion for whisky as the local producers. Bill Lark, affectionately referred to as the Godfather of Tasmanian whisky, recognised the drive and passion in Abbie and Chris and took them under his wing, helping to impart his own knowledge and experience of which they would need plenty when they got back home.
Bill Lark and others in the Tasmanian whisky industry taught us a lot,” Chris revealed. “We learnt never to compromise on flavour, to not be afraid to challenge tradition and to go with our gut instinct. We also learnt the importance of provenance. People want a genuine story to get behind, and being able to visit the distillery, meet the makers, see the casks maturing and taste the whisky in the place where it’s made makes that bottle so much more than just a well-designed, well-marketed product. 
Bill Lark gave us lots of sterling advice,” adds Abbie, “especially around the business model and how we could potentially grow. He said to follow our instinct and that’s stuck in my mind ever since. Mark Nicholson, Dean Jackson, Peter Bignell, Casey and Jane Overeem, William McHenry, David MacLennan… All these fine fellows helped shape our distillery, offering at the time (and continuing to do so) fantastic advice and guidance. 
That was nearly 18 months ago and construction work at Cooper King Distillery is now underway.
Chris with Belgrove Distillery's Peter Bignell.
The copper still may be destined to become an integral and highly visible Tasmanian influence on this fledgling distillery but Abbie and Chris intend to implement much more of what they learned from their Colonial teachers. Tasmanian distillers are acutely aware of the ecological strengths of their beautiful island and they aim to both utilise the pristine natural resources and protect the environment that produces it. Tasmanian distillery Belgrove sets a benchmark for sustainable craft distilling. Founder Peter Bignell grows his own rye, made his own copper still from scratch, collects rainwater from the roofs of his sheds, heats it with biodiesel that he makes himself from waste oil (which also powers his tractors, forklift and truck), feeds his livestock used whisky mash and recycles waste water for irrigation. This focus on sustainability was not lost on Abbie and Chris as Chris explains:
We’ve sourced local barley (some of which we are hoping to have grown in the field next to us), partnered with the country’s last master cooper whose workshop is a 30-minute drive away, and are self-building the distillery. Much like the Tassie distilleries we visited, we want to produce a craft spirit with genuine provenance, in a space that we’ve designed. We’ve also been on a steep learning curve regarding the funding and running of a business. We’ve successfully applied for an innovation grant, a tree-planting grant, and for another to research into how we can reduce and reuse our distillery waste. We’ve also been pitching to investors and bought on a select few to part-fund the build. All of this has been completely new to us, incredibly challenging, all-consuming, but ultimately very rewarding! 
Comradery is something we have been trying to foster amongst the emerging English whisky distilleries,” adds Abbie, “inspired by the Tassie scene back in 2014. We produced an English whisky map to help inform the public of the fledgling industry and have been on a couple of 1000mile road trips around the country in our tiny Renault Clio, purposefully to visit as many of the other distilleries as we can and strike up a friendship. There’s still a few more to visit yet, and I hope our visits will lead to some exciting collaborations. 
Cooper King Distillery launched their Founders’ Club in May.

The Founders' Club is designed to provide the last piece of the funding puzzle which will allow Abbie and Chris to fire up the stills and get spirit flowing by autumn/winter this year. Members will be rewarded with first-release products, rare bottlings, distillery merchandise and lifetime membership. Abbie had this to say about the Founders’ Club:
We can't wait to welcome other fine fellows into the Cooper King family to share in the exciting times ahead. Our Founders make this whole project worthwhile; they will be the first to reap the rewards when the stills start flowing with our unique English spirit. 
Cooper King Distillery will be offering numerous Founders’ Club reward tiers ranging from £30 upwards, which will make great gifts for whisky and gin lovers. Memberships are limited and are on a first come, first served basis, so those who want a piece of the action are encouraged to act quickly. You can sign up to the mailing list here for more information and be informed of future developments.

The student becomes the master.

Australian distilling would not be where it is today without the influence, expertise and investment of early settlers and immigrants, but the local industry Down Under has matured into something much more than a mere clone of its European ancestors. It is now at the stage where unique Australian lessons and successes are being exported back to the UK and in a serendipitous turn of events are making the Old World, new again. There are certainly exciting times ahead and I look forward to visiting Abbie and Chris at Cooper King Distillery next year when I travel to the UK.
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Paul John Classic Select Cask Impressions

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Paul John Classic Select Cask Impressions

Original photo provided by Tim Grant and used with permission.

What is it?

Distillery: Paul John
Name: Classic Select Cask
Make: Indian Single Malt Whisky
Extra Info: The Paul John distillery is situated in Goa, on the west coast of India. Indian single malt whisky is produced primarily for the export market. An Indian 'whisky' is produced and sold locally made from blending a molasses-based spirit similar to Rum with either grain whisky or blended Scotch whisky. This cannot be sold as 'whisky' in most of the world and is often referred to as a 'spirit drink.' However, according to Forbes, in 2014 one such 'spirit drink,' Officer’s Choice sold 28.4 million 9-liter cases - about 255 million litres and enough to fill over 100 Olympic-size swimming pools. By comparison, that is over 14 times the volume of global Johnnie Walker sales!

Why did I buy it?

I didn't. This is a review of a sample bottle kindly provided by Paul John. I usually only review full-size bottles since I can take my time and drink as much as I need to finalise my impressions. That is more difficult to do with a sample bottle, but I have done my best.

What did I think of it?

Presentation: Paul John whisky has an unusually uniform design language across their entire range. In fact, it can be difficult to distinguish between expressions from a distance, since the label differences are very subtle and the colour of the whisky look very similar. Bottled at 55.2% ABV.

Appearance: All the whisky in the Paul John range looks the same golden hue to me, but Paul John proudly claim their whisky contains no artificial colouring and are non-chill filtered. I can only assume that some form of distillery wizardry must take place to achieve such a consistent colour across the range.

Aroma: A delectable blend of nutmeg spice, sweet honey and faint vanilla notes.

Flavour: Oily mouthfeel, sweet and peppery.

Finish: Smooth, medium length, late spicy pop with some bitterness at the last moment.

Would I buy it again?

Yes. Paul John Classic Select Cask is an ideal whisky for when you want to just wile away the hours savouring the aroma and taking the occasional sip. Depending on your tastes, you may want to add a little water due to the relatively high alcohol content, but I found it to be great neat. Paul John Classic Select Cask is the kind of whisky you can nose incessantly and where a single dram can last an age. I really enjoyed it.

Disclaimer: I do not claim to have the nose and palate of a Master Sommelier, however, I am working to train my senses to better identify whisky aromas and flavours. Consider all my whisky 'Impressions' to be a work in progress and I hope to come back to each of them in the future to see if I notice anything different. Most importantly, I'm not just throwing around random aromas, flavours and adjectives for the hell of it; I am trying really hard to critically describe each whisky I taste - WhiskyDad.
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Book Review: Whisk(e)y Distilled by Heather Greene

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Book Review: Whisk(e)y Distilled by Heather Greene

Original cover image provided by Heather Greene and used with permission.

I reviewed the Audible and Kindle editions of Whisk(e)y Distilled: A Populist Guide to the Water of Life and must begin by complimenting the excellent narration of the audio book version by Tavia Gilbert. It was a pleasure to listen to and I felt like I was in the company of the author throughout. My only issue will be if I ever meet Heather Greene in person as I will no doubt be surprised when her voice does not sound like Tavia’s.

Heather Greene, is one of the most prominent and at times outspoken figures in the world of whisky. She was once a brand ambassador for whisky giant Glenfiddich but at the time of writing this book, was director of whiskey education at the Flat Iron room whiskey school in Manhattan and restaurant sommelier. Heather now writes freelance and travels the world teaching and consulting about spirits and has appeared on television as an expert in the field. Heather writes in a style and voice with a no-bullshit attitude to whisky that instantly appealed to my sentiments and compelled me to read on.

The topic of women and whiskey dominated my conversations so much that some reporters even thought my book was about women and whiskey, or written specifically for them. It’s not. This is a book about whiskey. Plain and simple. 

The book begins with how Heather got into whisky in the first place; an industry that many still find surprising to see a woman reach positions of prominence in. Competing with the digital music revolution of the early 2000’s, Heather reluctantly left a professional music career and was hired by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Edinburgh, Scotland. Despite facing male prejudice regularly, Heather built a lucrative career around whisky. She establishes her credibility early in the book and for me drove home the dream of following your passion and finding a job that you love; something I hope my blog will one day lead to for myself.

Like many books on the subject, Whisk(e)y Distilled covers all the whisky fundamentals, such as history, production and regions with a welcome focus on whisky appreciation. Even detailing how to organise and run your own whisky tasting event. Her explanation of the whisky making process is excellent; one of the best I have read. It is written in a logical sequence and in easy to understand language that anyone could follow.

No palate is the gold standard, and no one tastes quite like you do. 

Heather’s thoughts on how to discover your own palate and the importance of nose and sense of smell were very interesting to read. She also manages to delve into basic organic chemistry and aromatic molecules without losing someone like me with only a modest grasp on the subject. I like how she emphasises the subjectiveness of aroma and taste and that it is ok to disagree. Whisky is a very personal thing and tasting notes should be seen only as a guide not as a ‘gold standard’ or as the correct notes. She discusses nosing technique to maximise the chance of isolating aromas and to minimise alcohol burn and olfactory numbing, without all the wank that often encroaches debates on the subject. 

In fact, Heather’s propensity to tackle the misinformation often touted by whisky snobs and dismiss common myths is welcome and encourages an inclusive whisky culture rather than the rubbish elitist scene that pollutes some social circles; a view that appeals to my own ideals. Regardless if you are not sure what you should or shouldn’t believe or if perhaps you think you already know everything, Heather will set you straight; personally, I learnt quite a few things.

…whisky loving in Scotland is far from snobbery, even if in America those two words—‘Scotch’ and ‘snob’—are often drawn together like magnets. You are more likely to share drams with a local lorry driver finishing his weekly whisky transport down the A1 to Glasgow from Dufftown than with someone holding the latest literary novel or a golf club. 

So who should buy this book and why should you buy this over other books about whisky? A quick search online will reveal that there are many books written on the subject and not all of them are equal. Whisk(e)y Distilled stands above many of the other offerings and managed to engage me from beginning to end. What I loved most about this book was the way it was written. I felt like I was having a chat with the author over a dram; perhaps facing each other from comfy chesterfields in front of a crackling fire. There's a certain contagious energy that someone has when discussing a topic they love and it's rare for that passion to translate to the written word quite as well as Heather manages to do in her book. This may even be my favourite whisky book to date and I highly recommended it for both the whisky novice and aficionado alike.


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Paul John Brilliance Impressions

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Paul John Brilliance Impressions

Original photo provided by Tim Grant and used with permission.

What is it?

Distillery: Paul John
Name: Brilliance
Make: Indian Single Malt Whisky
Extra Info: The Paul John distillery is situated in Goa, on the west coast of India. A popular tourist location with temperatures ranging from an average of 25°C in winter to an average of 30°C in summer. Pair this with a tropical monsoon climate at you have all the makings for rapidly ageing (and evaporating) whisky. Paul John tries to slow this process by ageing their whisky in underground temperature-controlled bond stores, but don't expect to India whisky boasting of double-figure age statements like those of Scotch; similarly to Taiwan and Australia, whisky just ages and is lost to the "Angel's Share" much faster in these climates.

Why did I buy it?

I didn't. This is a review of a sample bottle kindly provided by Paul John. I usually only review full-size bottles since I can take my time and drink as much as I need to finalise my impressions. That is more difficult to do with a sample bottle, but I have done my best.

What did I think of it?

Presentation: Paul John whisky has an unusually uniform design language across their entire range. In fact, it can be difficult to distinguish between expressions from a distance, since the label differences are very subtle and the colour of the whisky look very similar. Bottled at 46% ABV.

Appearance: All the whisky in the Paul John range looks the same golden hue to me, but Paul John proudly claim their whisky contains no artificial colouring and are non-chill filtered. I can only assume that some form of distillery wizardry must take place to achieve such a consistent colour across the range.

Aroma: Pleasantly oaky, citrus notes and vanilla cream sponge cake.

Flavour: Tingling spices on the tongue, saliva-inducing dry with fennel and pepper.

Finish: Medium length, fading spice with a bitter aftertaste.

Would I buy it again?

If I had tried it in isolation, Yes; but I tried it alongside other expressions from Paul John and to be honest, Brilliance wasn't my favourite. Paul John Brilliance is a perfectly fine example of Indian single malt and I bet if you haven't tried Indian whisky before, it tastes better than you would expect. In fact, Brilliance was awarded 'Best Overseas Whisky' at the 2017 Òran Mór Whisky Awards in Scotland. But in my opinion, Brilliance is the tamest of the Paul John whisky range and is not the one I will be coming back to.

Disclaimer: I do not claim to have the nose and palate of a Master Sommelier, however, I am working to train my senses to better identify whisky aromas and flavours. Consider all my whisky 'Impressions' to be a work in progress and I hope to come back to each of them in the future to see if I notice anything different. Most importantly, I'm not just throwing around random aromas, flavours and adjectives for the hell of it; I am trying really hard to critically describe each whisky I taste - WhiskyDad.
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Johnnie Walker Double Black Blended Whisky Impressions

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Johnnie Walker Double Black Blended Whisky Impressions

What is it?

Distillery: Johnnie Walker 
Name: Double Black 
Make: Blended Scotch Whisky 
Extra Info: Marketed as "...created in the style of Johnnie Walker Black Label but with a rich, more intense, smokier flavour." Johnnie Walker Double Black commands an extra 11% premium over the Black Label which in whisky terms, is really not a lot of money. I suspect that the extra richness and smokiness come from a higher proportion of Caol Ila whisky being used in the blend, but cask selection could have also played a part; since the Double Black recipe is not public knowledge, I can only guess.


Why did I buy it?

I received a bottle of Johnnie Walker Double Black as a house warming present and after tasting it, I am glad that I did. It's not something I would have picked up off the shelf myself, but it presented a good opportunity to taste it along side the Johnnie Walker Black Label.


What did I think of it?

Presentation: The same iconic narrow square-sided bottle but this time with black tinted glass and it is the bottle colour that makes it stand out next to it's slightly cheaper sibling.

Appearance: Pretty much exactly the same bright gold colour as the Black Label and also bottled at 40% ABV. 

Aroma: Noticeably smokier on the nose than the Black Label, but nowhere near Islay single malt levels. Mossy, earthy notes and faint vanilla. Although 'sweet' is a flavour not an aroma, there are hints of something sweet underneath.

Flavour: Surprisingly good. Very smooth and creamy, buttered toast with plenty of charcoal and sweet porridge perhaps with some honey drizzled on top. The smoke is there, but not overpowering. I can drink this neat without issue. 

Finish: Medium length finish with a spicy tingle that slowly fades. Inoffensive.


Would I buy it again?

Yes, Johnnie Walker Double Black is a great tasting and great value blend. Suitable for drinking neat and with ice or however you take it. It won't appeal to someone who dislikes smoky whisky but if you appreciate a little peat and are looking for a cheaper blended alternative for cocktails or drinking with ice and/or a mixer on hot summer nights, look no further than Johnnie Walker Double Black; a surprisingly good blended Scotch whisky. 


Disclaimer: I do not claim to have the nose and palate of a Master Sommelier, however, I am working to train my senses to better identify whisky aromas and flavours. Consider all my whisky 'Impressions' to be a work in progress and I hope to come back to each of them in the future to see if I notice anything different. Most importantly, I'm not just throwing around random aromas, flavours and adjectives for the hell of it; I am trying really hard to critically describe each whisky I taste - WhiskyDad.

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Johnnie Walker Black Label Blended Whisky Impressions

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Johnnie Walker Black Label Blended Whisky Impressions

What is it? 

Distillery: Johnnie Walker
Name: Black Label
Make: Blended Scotch Whisky
Extra Info: Rumoured to contain over 40 different Scotch whiskies (the actual blend recipe is a closely guarded secret) all aged for at least 12 years, Johnnie Walker Black is the second lowest priced whisky in a long line of popular blends. What is known, is that a major component of Johnnie Walker Black Label comes from the Caol Ila distillery on the island of Islay, Scotland. The core 'Colours' range includes Johnnie Walker Red Label, Black Label, Double Black, Gold Label Reserve, Platinum Label 18 Year Old and Blue Label with many other special and limited editions on offer. Prices range from less than $40 to hundreds of dollars per bottle.

Why did I buy it?

I bought a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label because it is cheap, commonly available and immensely popular. Most whisky drinkers have tried at least one Johnnie Walker blend and many bars use Johnnie Walker Red Label as their standard mixing whisky. Everyone needs a good mixing whisky at home and I wanted to see if Johnnie Walker Black Label would do for me.

What did I think of it?

Presentation: Iconic narrow square-sided bottle with as the name suggests, a black label. Gold writing and iconography contrast well against the black label on the clear glass bottle.

Appearance: Bright gold in colour, with consistency and crystal clear clarity achieved through the use of caramel colouring and chill-filtration. Bottled at 40% ABV.

Aroma: Although most commonly drunk with a mixer, neat, it smells of sea spray, definite maritime elements with the faintest hint of smoke with some cedar, like stepping into a traditional sauna.

Flavour: I try blended whiskies a variety of ways, neat, on the rocks, with Coke, etc. Johnnie Walker Black Label with a sweet mixer reminded me of a misspent youth and mornings waking up to bad whisky breath and regret. With soda water and ice it was more palatable, but the regret remained.
Smooth, like most blends. Heavy on the vanilla, sweet and a little more smoke than on the nose. Some indistinguishable fruitiness. 

Finish: Some spicy tingle that fades quickly, leaving just that bad whisky breath and regret behind.

Would I buy it again?

No, there is nothing wrong with Johnnie Walker Black Label, it's just not my mixer whisky of choice. I don't like the aftertaste it leaves in my mouth and there isn't enough going on across the nose and palate for me to want to drink it. I certainly would not judge someone for liking it, many people do the world over. If you like it great, if you don't and are looking for another blended Scotch, there are plenty of others to choose from including other expressions from Johnnie Walker. 

Disclaimer: I do not claim to have the nose and palate of a Master Sommelier, however, I am working to train my senses to better identify whisky aromas and flavours. Consider all my whisky 'Impressions' to be a work in progress and I hope to come back to each of them in the future to see if I notice anything different. Most importantly, I'm not just throwing around random aromas, flavours and adjectives for the hell of it; I am trying really hard to critically describe each whisky I taste - WhiskyDad.
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