Cut Your Wolf Loose: First Year

Charles MacLean said, “when you buy a bottle of whisky, you buy more than liquor,….”. By the same premise, when you visit Cut Your Wolf Loose, you enter into something greater than the regular bar experience, whisky or otherwise. With substance and style, to CYWL’s credit is its owner Seb Woolf, the staff, its guests and patrons.


On visiting CYWL for the first time [WLP]. I commented:

  • ‘It’s a must-visit for malt-heads and the curious alike and just what Brighton needs to kick the whisky community down here, back into life’.

Indeed, CYWL has become a regular meeting point for Swaggers [WLP], as well as bringing whisky enthusiasts and industry together from further afield. Yet CYWL isn’t just for the converted either. Every time I’m at CYWL, I hear this cry:

  • “I didn’t think I liked whisky, but,… “.

Whisky evangelism is alive & kicking at CYWL. Here, first-timers discover the fun to be had by learning about and paying attention to what’s being consumed, without it becoming too serious or excluding. And then there are the cocktails!


When CYWL first opened, I pondered how many times I might visit in a year. Becoming a regular would surely depend on the turnaround/rotation of CYWL’s stock. I wondered whether I might quickly exhaust the affordable and ongoing living cask bottlings with regular visits, leaving then only the significantly pricier older & rarer malts. I needn’t have worried.

As Paul de Newtown – manager at CYWL and self-titled ‘Dram Dealer’ – explains, Seb currently holds around 750 casks of all types of whisk[e]y that are frequently bottled exclusively for the CYWL. So frequently in fact, that I often miss out on outturns if I’m away for a month. Seb favours integrity presentations, single cask, cask strength expressions with little-to-no messing around, and we’ve been working through them – willing guinea pigs for Seb & Co., to gauge what might be officially bottled under Seb’s CYWL or Artful Dodger labels at a later date.

Roughly twice a month/fortnightly, CYWL hosts ‘formal’ tastings,… formal in a relaxed, fun and informative way and there have been some cracking nights [see pics].

Whisky highlights in the first year include:

  • Ben Nevis 2017/2021 03yo CYWL American oak barrique 67.8% WLP86
  • Ben Nevis 1997/2021 24yo Thompson Brothers [357 bts] 43.2%WLP90
  • Ben Nevis 1996/2006 10yo Chorlton [234 bts] 46% WLP88
  • Glen Elgin 2008/2021 13yo CYWL 56.6% WLP87
  • Highland Park 2008/2021 12yo CYWL 64.2% WLP89
  • Jura 1990/2022 30yo Artful Dodger cask #9005283 57.6% [500ml] WLP90
  • [Loch Lomond] Croftengea Castor I 2009/2018 Scotch Universe 105° HP.1.1′ 1966.1 54% WLP89
  • Tormore 1990/2021 31yo Whisky Sponge Edition #33 [422 bts] 53% WLP88



  • Dornoch 2017/2020 03yo Ob. cask #001 [btl #460/893] 59.4% [50cl] WLP88
  • Annandale 2015/2020 06yo Best Dram Single Cask #571 [241 bts] 57.1% WLP83



  • Caperdonich 1988/2021 26yo CYWL single cask hogshead 60.2% WLP88
  • Dumbarton 1997 22yo AWWC Infrequent Flyers cask #178 [202 bts] 55.3% WLP87



  • [Single Malt] Irish Whiskey 29yo [2021] TBWC Whiskey #2 Batch #7 ‘Home Nations Series’ [418 bts] 50.2% [50cl] WLP90
  • Waterford Grattansbrook 1.1 [2021] Ob. UK Exclusive Single Farm Origin 50% WLP88
  • Willowbank 18yo [2021] TBWC Batch #2 ‘Wine Cask Series [btl #8/506] 50.5% [50cl] WLP88


October 17th saw Cut Your Wolf host a first-year Anniversary Tasting. The small venue was full to the rafters, down in the basement [aka tasting dungeon]. Only three were experiencing CYWL for the first time.


The tasting featured CYWLs first four releases as an independent bottler. In the last 12 months, the landscape has changed, explains Seb. Distilleries no longer want to sell to independent bottlers at this time, many only selling to individuals [by the single cask] at inflated prices. We are spoiled at CYWL.


We start tonight’s anniversary tasting, however, with a so far unbottled Aberlour exclusive.

Aberlour 2010/2022 12yo CYWL~Un-Ob. cask sample #800917 63.6%

  • N: A pretty decent nose for a whisky that’s spent all its life in virgin oak. Without being woody, the raw spirit brings some fruitiness and a malty sweetness.
  • T: A lively if not juvenile malt with a fair body and viscosity,
  • F: Mildly savoury ice cream sweetness [im]balanced by a bitter edge.
  • C: Currently Scotch bourbon-esque, this is due for official release at some point down the line. Seb is keen to age it further in order to loosen up those bitter tones and soften the abv.

[Not scored]


The label art for CYWL’s second release is by Tom Blanford.

Aberfeldy 2014/2021 07yo CYWL Refill Hogshead #581 [266 bts] 57.7% WB0

The first official single malt release from Aberfeldy came in 1991 [WB], 95 years after the distillery was founded. In 1998, the UK Monopolies Board forced the then-current owners DCL to sell the distillery. Aberfeldy is currently owned by Dewar’s/Bacardi-Martini.

  • N: A greasier herbal sweetness in comparison to the Aberlour.
  • T&F: Even more youthful [raw] than the Aberlour but with no bitter tail, though it is a little sour. It’s on the edge of being fizzy too.
  • C: A decent Aberfeldy from a refill hoggie. Not many around.

Scores 84 points


The label art for CYWL’s 3rd release is by NOL [aka Michael Nolta], who came all the way from Holland to paint the back wall at CYWL.

Tamdhu 2008/2022 14yo CYWL Hogshead #2331 [190 bts] 60.8%WB87[1] WLP1[86/87]

The distillery was founded in 1896, the same year as Aberfeldy. Tamdhu provides all of its own malted barley malt needs [and more] via 10 Saladin boxes. It also has its own cooperage on-site. Tamdhu is typically a sherry-driven malt, fast becoming the Macallan alternative of choice for many.

  • C: Describing this as “,.. simply a decent sherry cask” [Seb], it’s deceivingly softer than the abv indicates. For that reason, Seb suggests not always revealing the abv to tasters straight away. With a slight spirits convergence at times, this evolves rather nicely in the glass. No need to overthink this one. It’s a happy place integrity malt, suitable for drinking morning, noon, and night.

Scores 87 points


The label art for CYWL’s latest [fourth] release is by The Postman

Caol Ila 2009/2022 12yo CYWL Refill bourbon cask #119096 [283 bts] 59.9% WBX WF88

Founded in 1816, the original distillery was demolished in 1972 and rebuilt. Only the original warehouses remain. Seb owns a fair number of Caol Ila casks. Honing in on the essence of the distillery character, Feb regards this as a great example.

  • C: Whilst others find this sweet and buttery, I find it leans more towards the savoury side. Fairly straight-laced, it does one thing well but doesn’t journey a great deal. One and done!

Scores 85 points


The artwork for CYWL’s first release is by SNUB 23. The art from every release features as a large mural, outside on the back wall of CYWL’s ‘smoking’ garden, replaced in time by the next.



[Laphroaig] On a Saw Mill 2011/2021 10yo Blended Malt CYWL Ex-vino de Color Butt cask #323 [302 bts] 54.7% WB84.91[13]

Ex-bourbon casks have been predominantly used by the Laphroaig, ever since Ian Hunter began travelling to the US after Prohibition. Sherry casks are mostly used for longer-term maturation. For this independent release, the ex-vino de color cask was first used to season a young Bunna that was released under Seb’s Artful Dodger label [WLP83].

Early on, CYWL had created a signature cocktail utilising On a Saw Mill [gasps from the crowd], before realising that once the bottles had run out, they couldn’t make that cocktail any longer.

  • C: I’ve tried this a few times [WLP88]. CYWL’s first release is tonight’s winner as was expected, though it’s a close-run thing with the Tamdhu which is up there for different reasons.

Scores 88 points


There’s more? There’s always more!

Caperdonich 1979/2004 24yo SV Vintage Collection cask #3286 btl #149/384 bts] 43% WB85.93[16]

C: The picture above betrays this whisky’s natural colour which is as pail as can be. Seemingly stronger than the 43% abv might suggest, to smell and taste, it’s much older than where your senses might want to lead you. This one is all about the distillate from a very spent cask, rather typical of a number of Signatory single cask bottlings back in the day. Nicely glass-aged too, it’s a shame this style has become a thing of the past.

Scores 87 points


We typically end up in the Great Eastern, rammed on a Monday night?!


With huge thanks and gratitude to all at CYWL. Here’s to another great year!



2 thoughts on “Cut Your Wolf Loose: First Year

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