Glen Grant vs Wild Turkey tweet tasting. 

So I’ve been lucky to be involved in a fair few tweet tastings hosted be Steve from The Whisky Wire. This latest one was a little different, we were going to sample four different expressions. With the twist being it would be from two different distilleries, two from the Scottish Glen Grant distillery and two from the American Wild Turkey distillery. We were to compare them and decide who was the winner at the end.

Now I was well aware of Wild Turkey, being an iconic brand in the U.S and have tried a few expressions from them. They have been in existence since 1869 founded by Ripy brothers in Lawrenceburg Kentucky, they didn’t get the Wild Turkey name until 1940 after the bourbon produce at the distillery was given the nickname by friends of a distillery executive. They mature the bourbon in new American white oak casks, which has the no.4 “alligator” char the deepest char available to them. This is what Wild Turkey say gives its bourbon the deep auburn colour and rich nose and flavours. 

I didn’t have as much experience with Glen Grant, only trying one at a previous tasting which I rather enjoyed. They have been recommended to me a couple of times but for one reason or another I’ve just not got round to trying anymore. This is probably a failing on my behalf, they are after all the 5th biggest selling scotch single malt in the world. Being the market leader in Italy and huge presence in France and Germany. Founded in 1840 by brothers James and John Grant they have a long tradition of making single malt whisky.  

Both distilleries are owned by the Campari group, with Glen Grant being purchased in 2006 and Wild Turkey in 2009. This was going to be an interesting tasting. The first round would see the Glen Grant 10yo going against the Wild Turkey 101.

Glen Grant 10yo 40% abv

Nose: sweet vanilla, fruity with peaches, pears, soft hint of oranges, nutty almonds I think, a nice malty note..

Palate: Vanilla present throughout, toffee,  apples, pears, touch of pepper present, nice warm spice with a malty undertone, the nuttiness from the nose is present with some oak notes..

Finish: It’s a little short with some oak and little peppery spice, quite moreish..

Wild Turkey 101 bourbon 50.5% abv

Nose: Vanilla, honey, pears, subtle banana note, cinnamon, cloves,  minty herbal note, oak..

Palate: Ginger, pepper, clove, big spice hit, charred oak, caramel, vanilla, soft herbal note probably Rye, the spice becomes more dominant towards the end..

Finish: Long with a spice that wants to go on forever, little oak undertone..

For me both drams were excellent in there own way, the Glen Grant was light and delicate with the Wild Turkey being big and bold with so many different layers to it. Round one goes to the WT 101.

Picture courtesy of Wild Turkey 

The next round would see the Glen Grant 12yo going head to head with the Wild Turkey Rye..

Glen Grant 12yo 43% abv 

Nose: Honey, apple, faint lemon, pears, barley sugar boiled sweets, fresh cut hay, faint citrus note after time..

Palate: Custard, pears, apples, vanilla, pine nuts, hint of white pepper, oak, soft orange undertone that gets stronger with time..

Finish: medium in length with a nice citrus spice..

Wild Turkey Rye 40.5% abv 

Nose: Big herbal hit (rye), orange, caramel, baked apples sprinkled with brown sugar, subtle marzipan hint..

Palate: Vanilla, burnt sugar, oak, rye herbal hit, some ginger and soft orange notes, warm sweet spice..

Finish: medium with a warm ginger spice..

Another round were both drams were great and completely different, the Glen Grant was rich and complex with the Wild Turkey being big and bold again but not as complex. I originally said on the night that the Rye won over the 12yo, with it being very close between them. Having now gone back and tried them both again it is still very close between them, but I feel the Glen Grant 12yo just edges it. This is because I feel the 12yo is a more complex dram and give me a better reward for drinking it. 

Picture courtesy of Glen Grant.

That would make it a draw for the night with one win a piece, for me the overall winner for the night would be the Wild Turkey 101. It’s so complex and multilayered with so much going on in a glass, with how easy it is to enjoy and at such an high abv it just wins hands down for me..

A huge thanks to everyone involved in the night, especially Steve from The Whisky Wire and to Glen Grant and Wild Turkey for an amazing night with some great drinks and people.


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Boutique-y whisky: Paul John 6yo batch 3  52.9% abv 

While I was at Newcastle I had the great privilege to catch up with Dave from That boutique-y Whisky company, this is a man full of passion for his job. He recommended a couple of drams for me to try.

Now in my opinion Boutique-y whisky company is one of the best independent bottlers around at the moment. This is due to the quality of and range of their releases, which varies in the age of casks and distilleries used. The first of those drams Dave recommended was the Paul John 6yo, this is the third batch from Boutique-y and a limited release of 822 bottles. It’s is bottled at 52.9% abv and is also non chill filtered and non coloured. 

Nose: Instant soft smoke and peat, dark chocolate, rich caramel toffee, some nice spice, cinnamon, cloves, with time to breathe the smoke fades a little to become more fruity on the nose with apples and berries, blackberries etc.

Palate: The smoke is big on the palate, burnt sugar, cloves, lime, caramel, with time hints of oak, black pepper and stem ginger, there is an creamy icing sugar note in the background throughout.

Finish: Medium in length with a woody smoke and spiced ginger lingering, very moreish. 

As you will know if you’ve read my blog I’m a fan of Paul John, so I was expecting something good from this. Well Boutique-y haven’t let me down, it’s a sublime dram to enjoy. This is the first independent bottling of Paul John I’ve tried and I’m so glad I did, it’s Paul John but so completely different for me. I get all the nicely balanced smoke and peat with the rich spice that I would expect, but the sweetness that is present just feels different in such a good way. I can’t put my finger on what it is that is different, maybe it’s the way the smoke fades for me. Allowing more of the fruit to come through on the nose, what ever it is I like it.

This is another great example of the quality and passion that Paul John put into producing their single malt and the excellent choice of casks by Boutique-y. I await with eagerness to seeing what this partnership produces next.

Thanks again to Dave from That boutique-y whisky company for the sample, hope to see you at another festival soon for a catch up on the drams and rugby.


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Beinn Dubh The Black 43% abv 

Beinn Dubh was the second sample I got from Paul Dempsey at the Newcastle whisky festival, being a huge motorbike nut I’d already heard about this malt from friends. They had tried it at the “Thunder in the Glen” Harley Davidson gathering in Aviemore. 

Beinn Dubh The Black is named after Ben Macdui the highest peak in the Cairngorm mountain range, which I believe is where the barley used is sourced for this malt. It gets its unique colour from the way it is finished, in heavily charred ruby Port casks from Tanoaria Josafer Lda in the Douro valley in Portugal. I’m not sure if it’s non chill filtered or if there is any colouring added, it’s bottled at 43% abv and is widely available. 

Nose: Soft treacle toffee, rasins, earthy herbal note, sweet pear drops, as it opens a nice Burgundy/red wine note..

Palate: Bonfire toffee, sultanas, rasins, plums, apples, soft sweet spice, coffee, rich dark chocolate, hint of tobacco and black pepper, quite oily mouth feel..

Finish: Quite short and mellow with oak and a hint of pepper..

Well that was a surprise,  when you see how dark it is you expect it to be so in your face. When I poured the sample and nosed it for the first time, I thought there was something wrong with me. It’s a nice nose but so subtle, no real big hit from anything. Then you take a sip and it coats your mouth in a nice way, the flavours work with each other enhancing the experience. 

To me this a very understated whisky, it looks like it should be a beast that only the wildest can tame. When in fact it’s quite mellow and friendly, it has some bite but not enough to scare anyone away. I would be quite happy to drink this dram, it is in my opinion an excellent everyday whisky. After trying this I now want to try the limited release the Speyside distillery did last year for the Thunder in the Glen, with an age statements of 20yo I’m curious to see what type of beast that one is..


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Spey Fūmāre 46% abv.

So I was at The Whisky Lounge festival in Newcastle last weekend, it was a great weekend and I had great fun. The only downside to this great weekend was that I had to drive on the Saturday, so I couldn’t take advantage of the range of whiskies available to sample.

So during the breaks I got chance to talk to some of the other representatives from the distilleries at the festival. I had the privilege of talking to Paul Dempsey from Spey single malt, now I’d not had chance to try anything from the Spey Distillery so when Paul offered me a couple of samples to review later I jumped at the chance.

The Speyside distillery is a youngster when you look at the other distilleries around it, only coming on line in 1990 with the first single malt released in 1993. In 2012 the distillery was sold to Harvey’s of Edinburgh, who revamped the range of whiskies available. With the latest core range comprising of the Tenné, 12 & 18 year old malts.

The first sample I tried was the fairly new but limted release called Spey Fūmāre, it’s the first peated malt released by Speyside distillery. The name is from the Latin for smokey and is bottled at 46% abv both non chill filtered and non coloured. The release is of 18,000 individual numbered bottles so is not a small release but is only available in the UK and a limited number of international markets.

Nose: Soft woody smoke, earthy peat, vanilla, hint of nectarine, pears/peaches in syrup, with more time to breath it gets sweeter with some pear drops boiled sweets..

Palate: Gentle campfire smoke, soft peat, the comes the mix of sweet and savoury, almost a salted toffee note, some nice white pepper, rich fruity apple and pear mixed with a nice sweet spice, touch of almond oil..

Finish: Medium in length with a warming spice touch 

Now I’ve grown to love my peated malts over the past few years, with the softer ones being my favourites just because they don’t overpower the rest of the dram. This release from Speyside has just what I’m looking for in a peated malt. The smoke is rich and creamy but doesn’t overpower everything, the sweetness and fruit gets to shine as much as the smoke. Some peated malts are so big that I love them but can only drink the one glass, anymore and I can’t taste anything but the peat. This Fūmāre is soft in the smoke/peat area that I could drink it all night, I feel that they have hit a nice balance between all the aspects of the dram. 

I’m now looking forward to trying some more from the distillery and have already added a bottle of this to my shelf, might even have to get another just to make sure I don’t run out anytime soon.

A huge thank you to Paul Dempsey and the Speyside distillery for the sample it’s been a pleasure to try this.


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The Whisky Lounge Newcastle festival 2017

So last weekend wasn’t my usual type of weekend, I was at the Whisky Lounge festival in Newcastle. The difference for me this time was the way in which I was there. I wasn’t going to be the normal customer, this time I was going to be on the other side of the table.

My friend and fellow blogger Sorren of OCDWHISKY got in touch asking if I wanted to help with the Paul John whisky stand at the festival. Shilton Almeida the brand ambassador for Paul John was going to be doing another festival in Poland, this was my good fortune as it was giving me the opportunity to taste the industry from the other side.

The festival was going to held over two days with a late session on the Friday and two sessions on the Saturday. Friday came along and we jumped into the car for the drive to Newcastle, with a quick pit stop for coffee on the way up we arrived raring to go. Ok we might have been a little eager and early,  only a little mind you, well about 3 hours. Time for a quick bite to eat and then on with the good stuff, we set up the table and after a few tweaks  (Sorren is called ocdwhisky for a reason). Leaving us a few minutes to have a quick look around the other stands. 

The doors opened and we were off, having been to a couple of shows before I had a little idea what was going to happen. What I didn’t expect was how quick the evening went. I was just getting into full swing with the pour and banter with the people on the other side of the table. Then the announcement was made, it was last pour time with just 15 minutes left for the first session. That was it the first one was over, a quick tidy and pack up and we were in the car on our way home. 

After a restless nights sleep due to still being excited about the show and how well the first session had gone, I was back in the car heading out to pick Sorren up for the trip back to Newcastle. We arrived a little early again but not too much, just with enough time to set up and have a chat with the Dave from That Boutique-y Whisky Company over a cup of coffee and a bacon buttie. Then we heard that the sessions had sold out, 600 people per session this was going to be busy. At 12pm the doors opened on the first one, within seconds we had people stood opposite us asking us what was on offer. We had the full range from Paul John with the bonus of the ever popular #1906 single cask. It wasn’t long before we were in full swing, waxing lyrical about the Indian single malt that is Paul John. There it was again the announcement that it was time for the last pour, so we finished up talking to the lady’s and gentlemen that we had enthralled in front of us. 

Now the last four hours had been a blur if I can take the words from the man himself Shilton Almeida, it was pour, replenish, repeat. So in the break between sessions we grabbed a bite to eat and a drink. Then it was restock and set up for the second session. We did get a bit of time to have a chat and try a sample or two from the other stands. I got chance to talk to Colin Dunn from Diageo and Paul Dempsey from Spey single malt & Beinn Dubh whisky, giving me chance to talk to them about their experiences in the industry. They also gave me lots of encouragement and some great advice  (thanks guys for taking the time out to talk to me and answer a couple of questions), how these guys keep up with the crowds with such enthusiasm makes you see how passionate they are for the industry. 

It was now 5pm time for the second session to start, much like the first session of the day within minutes we were pouring samples and talking about the qualities that Paul John Single malt has. One of the best parts of the day for me was when I talked to someone who didn’t like peated whisky, but when I got them to try the slightly peated Paul John Edited they were all “oh that is so nice, never thought I’d say that for a peated whisky”. This sessions was just as manic as the first session and by the time the shout went out for the last pour, my voice was starting get a bit horse.

The festival was over and we were packing up, getting ready for the drive home. It had been an amazing day for me. Getting to meet so many passionate people, all wanting to know as much as they could about the whiskies on offer at the show. Just as we were packing up a couple of the customers we had been talking to earlier came over to us, they wanted to let us know that they thought the Classic select cask expression they had tried earlier was the best one dram they had tried all day. This to me just topped of what had been all great experience for me.

This had been hard work but worth it, I had enjoyed every minute of it. We set off back home and during the drive myself and Sorren both agreed we’d love to do it again, yes it was hard work and more tiring than we had expected but very rewarding. I left there with a lot more respect for the people that do this day in and day out, anyone who thinks this is an easy job will be in for a big shock.

I would like to say thank you to Paul John whisky and Shilton Almeida for the chance to do this. I’d also like to thank the guys at the Whisky Lounge for there support over the two days, plus thank you to the representatives from the other distilleries that gave us support and advice.

Hope to see you at the next festival 


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Paul John Oloroso single cask 57.4% abv

As those of you who follow my blog will know, I’ve become a big fan of Paul John single malt from Goa India. I’ve had the great pleasure to try the entire core range and a fair few of the limited single casks. My collection has grown with a good number of these single casks but my pride and joy has to be the Oloroso single cask. I was lucky to be able get hold of this very limited expression , with just 252 bottles being released and only 30 of those making it to the UK market.

This is the first sherry cask release from Paul John, being first matured for three years in a bourbon cask. Before being matured in an Oloroso Sherry cask for a further four years. Bottled at cask strength and non chill filtered as with all the previous single cask expressions. 

So on to the part I’ve been waiting for, what’s it like.

Nose: Rich vanilla, banana toffee, juicy fruit chewing gum, lovely sweet spice note, with time to open the dried fruits come through, dates, sultanas, prunes, subtle clove note, faint hint of Old Paradise Street coffee grind..

Palate: From the start the sherry influence is present, drying with a burnt caramel hint, cranberries, plums, prunes etc, ginger spice, mocha, oak notes with a hint of bonfire toffee..

Finish: This is a long finish with lots of spice, drying the mouth but very moreish. You don’t want it to end..

This is a big dram, when I first nosed it I thought I’d got the wrong dram. The sherry influence is not that dominant to start with, the longer it’s left to air the more it comes through. Like some of the other single casks I’ve had, I could sit for hours just nosing it. It’s so complex and exquisite to smell, then you take your first sip. It just explodes inside your mouth with so many layers to it, with a quality you wouldn’t expect from a malt so young. If Paul John keep this quality as the standard for their future releases,  I can see them challenging Tomatin for the position of my favourite distillery. I look forward with great anticipation for what the future holds for them.

I must say a huge thank you to Sorren at OCDWHISKY for the sample, it was a hard sample swap for him to do (almost at gun point 😂). I know he’s had a lot enquiries about getting a sample, so thank you for saving me from opening the twin to your bottles.

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Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban 46% abv. 

Glenmorangie were the first distillery to start extra maturation in different casks, something we now take for granted from finishes in Oloroso Sherry casks to red wine barriques. Back in the 1990’s Glenmorangie experimented with different wood finishes, one of the first released was a Port Pipe one. The Quinta Ruban is the evolution of that expression, matured for ten years in American white oak casks before being transferred. The extra maturation takes place in Port Pipes selected from the Quintas estates in Portugal. Bottled at 46% abv and non chill filtered, it is one of the core expressions for Glenmorangie. 


Nose: Dark fruits, plums, figs, butterscotch, rich chocolate, earthy herbal note,  lightly toasted oak, sweet pears, crème brûlée, subtle hint of oranges.. 

Palate: Figs, prunes, plums, burnt caramel, touch of ginger snaps, rich toffee after a little while, the subtle orange from the nose appears, drying spice with a touch of oak to it..

Finish: Lovely mouth feel with a drying ginger spice..

The extra time spent maturing in the port pipes most definitely adds another layer to the Glenmorangie. The delicate flavors you associated with the Original are still there but with a dark rich decadent overtone provided by the Port influence. Glenmorangie have definitely honed the craft of extra maturation and their experience and skills in this shines through. Quntia Ruban is highly praised by critics the world over and I would certainly agree, this is magnificent example how finishing/ extra maturation (which ever you want to call it) should be done. 


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