Odds & ends: Jan 2018

My clear-out continues. Here are some random facts, quotes and geeky titbits I’ve collected over time that haven’t found their place elsewhere. But first, how about an aperitif:


Clynelish 14yo [2017] Ob. 46% [20cl] WB84.63[508] WF87 Blog87

I like these 20cl bottles. An ideal volume for assessing/judging without the burden of a full bottle. Then again, when the whisky is good it’s not enough.

Clynelish 14.jpg

  • N: Instantly likeable, well rounded, well balanced barley spirit suitably aged. Waxy sweet-savoury with sweet lemon putty, wholemeal pitta, paratha bread, a touch of sweet veg mash, cake dough with cooked raisins, tonic water and a [Malden] saltiness. Add a sprinkle of meaty [gammon] soot to that.
  • T: Firm/controlled-sharp peppery-citrus attack. Very soon the mouthfeel gets to work, enveloping the palate and focusing in on waxy, chilli lemon. More saline with water, towards a fluffy-dry-soft barley direction. Water subdues the chilli no end, allowing the fine distillate with an even finer mouthfeel coating to get to work.
  • F: Sustained mouthfeel oozing. Waxy to oily buttery before eventually concluding with the kind of finish you’d expect from a G&T. Hints of chilli & pepper keep the barley subtlety seasoned & sustained.
  • C: On this occasion, it turns out 20cl wasn’t so optimal. A full bottle is currently going for under €40, in Germany & Holland – lucky neighbours.

Scores 87 points


The Whisky Show 2016. At ‘The Science of Whisky’ masterclass, Ian Buxton tells us these titbits:

When is a refill cask not a refill cask? When it’s a rejuvenated cask

Ian buxton

It takes around 90 years for an oak tree to grow sufficiently before it’s suitable for making casks. A cask is used around four times before it becomes exhausted.

Rejuvenating a used cask requires a router to scrape away the used oak veneer within before being charred. The charring encourages more oils from the oak to bleed out/release.

But in doing this however, you are revealing new/untreated wood which at first gives out high resin levels – much like a virgin or first-fill cask would.

Enzymes may be legally [SWA approved] added to grain spirit in the wash production. That’s because wheat & maize naturally lack the enzymes to convert into a powerful enough alcohol. [*UPDATE 08/01/18 – See comments section below].

Oak vs steel [wash tubs]

Oak wash tubs contain micro bugs that add flavour compounds to the final distillate, but aluminium tubs have the benefit of being more sterile.

90% of what the whisky industry ferment is waste.



BBC’s QI: Odds & Ends [23m:23s]

Sandy Toksvig informs BBC viewers that the term butler comes from the medieval latin word butticula, meaning cask or butt.

Likewise, in old French bouteiller means cup bearer, from the word bouteille or bottle. The term butler therefore relates to both bottles & casks.

In the Middle Ages, the buttery was the name for a liquor storeroom and it was the butler who was put in charge of the buttery. Over time, the buttery became a general food storeroom, now synonymous with larders.


I [digitally] lost all my notes after attending the Three Masters masterclass at The Whisky Show 2016 – aside from one quote and one titbit.

Shinji Fukuyo, Suntory chief blender – [far right]

He told us that studies carried out in Japan have shown that direct firing does make for a more complex spirit with a heavier body. The researchers don’t know how it does, but they assert it does!

Three masters.jpg

Bill Lumsden, director of distilling, whisky creation and whisky stocks at Glenmorangie, and the winner of the 2016 Icons of Whisky Awards Master Distiller/Blender of the Year – [second from left]

Bill offered this unforgettable gem of advice for his opening gambit. “If you’re presenting live on stage, don’t be an arsehole’.


Talking of quotes, here’s one from Ronnie Cox:

Blends are for drinkers, single malts are for thinkers”.


And on Eden Mill’s white board [2016], read:

Quote eden mill


Ralfy review 708 – WOTY 2017:

[6:53] “Chill-filtration removes the long-chain proteins and the oils that come through from both the casks and from the barley spirit out the still. They [proteins & oils] add to the viscosity of the single malt”.



For those feeling unfit & sluggish after the typically over-indulgent Christmas period, here’s looking on the bright side for the health benefits of drinking whisky:



Lego land saxon.jpg


Those fortunate to have visited Legoland, Windsor in the last few years may have spotted what I assume is a Lego Saxon?, surrounded by an array of casks. What’s next, a limited edition Lego release?



Let’s conclude with an odds & ends digestif.


[Tamnavulin] Ben Bracken 1987/2015 28yo Lidl ‘Speyside Single Malt’ [6000 bts] 40% WB82.29[23] SW8.8 whiskyphiles89 MR

[Forget reviewing this on day one, two, etc. Come back in a week or two].

Ben bracken.png

  • N: Aside from the more obvious stuff, there’s an Inchgower/Teaninich-eque toffee maltiness, grilled vegan/coconut/starch cheese oils, (kebab house) warmed onions and sooty-aromatic herbal-spice. Similar-ish to the Clynelish, but nuttier [cashew & macadamia], with a touch of Bovril, tahini & tomato paste and clay. Decidedly savoury carbohydrate-y, but sweet nonetheless, leading towards Eccles cake/scone dough.
  • T: Starts with a soft rough sharpness, and then [with water straight] to a chalky~dryness. Some considerable mouthfeel development leads to a waxy, dense, aged, porridge body with nutty>putty=clay citrus profile. Turmeric powder & mukhwas are the overwhelming Asian flavours alongside subdued Muscovado sugar, carob and vanilla fudge. Consolidates to a [bourbon-fruit] clay=plastic-y chew with a peppery edginess throughout. Fruity<chocolate=carob into the finish – dry>creamy.
  • F: The 28+ years mutter away. More waxy mouthfeel action to enjoy before some very soft chilli pepper spice on the middle-front palate. A long finish with light, nondescript savoury-sweet>bitter/sour notes concluding. Despite all the things [privet hedge/metallic spirity hue], the barley extract remains at the death.
  • C: Initially disappointing for many on opening [so i hear], but if you give it a good run you may discover a fairly decent 28yo Tamnavulin – for peanuts. Many offerings from Lidl & Aldi are ideal for blind tastings where any bias is left to one side. A lovely nose and a really long finish may just win you round.

Scores 83 points


Feeling the cold yet? Here’s the most chilling thing I’ve ever seen:



2 thoughts on “Odds & ends: Jan 2018

  1. I don’t think you can add enzymes, even to grain whisky – they add a chunk of malt to get the conversion they need. Here’s the relevant bit of regulation (from the Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009):

    3.—(1) In these Regulations “Scotch Whisky” means a whisky produced in Scotland—
    (a) that has been distilled at a distillery in Scotland from water and malted barley (to which only whole grains of other cereals may be added) all of which have been—
    (ii) converted at that distillery into a fermentable substrate only by endogenous enzyme systems

    ie, to be Scotch Whisky it needs to have malt in and the enzymes all have to come from within the grains.


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