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The Edinburgh Whisky Festival

Please tell us about any events coming up, or review events you have been to recently.

Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Feb 26, 2007 5:59 pm

I had the Ben Nevis as the second dram - the MackMyra was the first. Specifically, it tasted very new makey, and then had a cloyingly sweet, syruppy flavour like cherryade or, at a stretch, Vimto. The usual chocolate, nuts, vanilla, etc. that you get in the 10yo were missing, and no hint of the old oranges that you get on the older Ben Nevis bottlings. The 13yo Port Wood Finish OB is similar up to a point, but the overall balance is far superior and the Ben Nevis shines through.

I was interested to see the Bruichladdich/Murray McDavid backdrop proclaiming the virtues of their whiskies included "ACE Finished" or something similar - rather suggesting that the process is intended to be standard practice. I do wish - and I know I sound like a broken record - that this company would produce good, straight whisky and sell it on its own merits without resorting to fancy woods; lionizing Jim McEwan; making bold assertions about the investment potential of their products; and boasting about how many people they employ. But as I said, at least they showed up.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Feb 26, 2007 6:48 pm

Like the English rugby team!
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Feb 26, 2007 6:52 pm

Although I couldn't care less about the rugby, I suspect you won't win friends anywhere in Britain for bringing the subject up today.
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Postby BruceCrichton » Mon Feb 26, 2007 7:11 pm

Nick Brown wrote:Actually, I quite enjoyed this event.

<Snip>

However, amongst the debris, I got to try a number of whiskies I have never had before. Star of the show - if only for rarity - was Mackmyra 03 - a curious farrago of flavours - including new make, salt, fish, aniseed, and various fruity tones. I was also very taken by the Yamazaki and Hakushu whiskies which were very fragrant and delicate, but exquisitely balanced. I confess to being disappointed by the Murray McDavid stand, which had some rather weird finishes on some rather plain whiskies.


Did you try the Auchroisk?

I've had a port finished Auchroisk from MMcD before and it was wonderful and so was this. Enjoyed the Waves. Bought a bottle and my mate was off with the Auchroisk. The Caol ila was rather good too.

Enjoyed all the bourbons and the Japanese i had. There was a tasty vatted Speyside as well, which I enjoyed.

I could live the harp player - he sounded more like Mike Oldfield as the night went on - but you are right about the bagpipes.

Hopefully the event will be on again and it will improve.
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Postby BruceCrichton » Mon Feb 26, 2007 7:31 pm

MrTattieHeid wrote:Like the English rugby team!


Unlike the Scottish Rugby team. Glad I didn't pay to watch that
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Feb 27, 2007 11:02 am

BruceCrichton wrote:Did you try the Auchroisk?

I've had a port finished Auchroisk from MMcD before and it was wonderful and so was this. Enjoyed the Waves. Bought a bottle and my mate was off with the Auchroisk. The Caol ila was rather good too.


I tried all the MMcD bottles (well, I had to drink something) but I thought they were all dreadful, I'm afraid. At best, the base whiskies were invisible and at worst (Ben Nevis) it was positively horrid. The finishing was sweet, cloying and had a very artificial smack to it - have you ever tried Vanaa Tallinn? Lo and behold, you had a counter full of cherryade, Vimto and Ribena from the days when they did different flavours.

The girl on the stall was telling everyone that the finishing was a mark of "Jim's genius" and that he knew every whisky perfectly and times it all to perfection - to the very hour. I said I thought it looked more like a random collection of exotic sounding casks and each whisky was allocated a finishing cask that came to hand. She became very defensive and justified it in terms of how expensive the finishing casks were :o , told me again about Jim's genius was that he could use the finishing and still let the character of the original whisky shine through. I confess it was mishievous, but I asked her what she thought the character of Bruichladdich was supposed to be - and she told me it was less peaty and less strong than the other Islay whiskies. Hardly a proud assertion of Bruichladdich's identity. She then said that the distillery has the lowest output of any Islay distillery, yet it employs more people than the others and so, de facto, was a good thing.

Separately, she was advocating investing in Port Charlotte as a sure fire way of getting a good return, which was naughty...

But, as I said, at least they turned up.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Feb 27, 2007 11:12 am

Thanks for the comments about the MMcD finishes.
My German importer is really pushing these at the moment offering some very special deals.
Thanks to the comments here I shall not be bothering.
MT
:)
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Feb 27, 2007 11:16 am

MT - I am a crabby old man who doesn't like the way the world is changing. Others, apparently, love the finishes and think Murray McDavid are the sentinels of the future - protecting us from chill filtering, artificial colouring (unless it is crimson), and a surfeit of water. Please don't base commercial decisions on my jaundiced opinions, but see whether you can get samples to try for yourself.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Feb 27, 2007 11:26 am

Hi Nick,
being a new and still relatively small vendor I do have to be quite selective on my stock at the moment and I have quite a few other "wishes" for my next purchases.
So far, I have not heard too many favourable comments about this range of whiskies so at the moment I am basing my decision on more than just your opinion.

As for MMcD - I do like most of their offerings. Their bottlings have had good exposure in my whisky tastings and gourmet evenings and have always been well recived, often with various follow-up purchases, so I have no poblem in general with MMcD.
MT
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Postby BruceCrichton » Tue Feb 27, 2007 12:49 pm

Malt-Teaser wrote:Thanks for the comments about the MMcD finishes.
My German importer is really pushing these at the moment offering some very special deals.
Thanks to the comments here I shall not be bothering.
MT
:)


If you don't have them, that leaves all the more for me! 8)
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Postby Lawrence » Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:02 pm

I've been working my way through the MMcD range of finished whiskies; Ben Nevis, Dufftown, Glen Spey, Tobermory, Glendullan etc (I open the Mortlach tonight) etc and have found them to be very good, especially for the money (in this market). They also offer a range of whiskies that we would never see here. Some are merely bourbon/port finished while others finished in exoctic casks; at least they sound exoctic to a non wine drinker. :wink:

I like the absence of chill filtering & caramel and find that they all benefit from the addition of water. Andrew Gray hosted a tasting for my scotch appreciation club last November to help us celebrate our 10th anniversary and the MMcD whiskies were very well received.

Happily I did not taste what Nick tasted; it sounds like he had a terrible tasting exerience but mine, with this line up of whiskies (so far) has been the complete opposite.
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Sat Mar 03, 2007 11:36 am

By the sounds of it i'm glad i didn't spread any cash out to go to this , is it a case of one whisky event too many ?
Heads up to Laddie for making a decent effort to attend this event , i'm not a big fan of the "Aceing" , i prefer my Laddie from a bourbon cask (as i do most malts ) or at a push from sherry . Mind you there's a friend of my Wife who swears by the MMcD Port Finished Auchroisk , each to their own !
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Postby BruceCrichton » Sat Mar 03, 2007 4:50 pm

Spirit of Islay wrote:By the sounds of it i'm glad i didn't spread any cash out to go to this , is it a case of one whisky event too many ?
!


Just not very well organised but a good way of brightening up a winter's evening. Learned a lot about world whiskies. 8)
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Mar 05, 2007 10:29 am

Lawrence wrote:I've been working my way through the MMcD range of finished whiskies; Ben Nevis, Dufftown, Glen Spey, Tobermory, Glendullan etc (I open the Mortlach tonight) etc and have found them to be very good, especially for the money (in this market)... I like the absence of chill filtering & caramel and find that they all benefit from the addition of water...

Happily I did not taste what Nick tasted; it sounds like he had a terrible tasting exerience but mine, with this line up of whiskies (so far) has been the complete opposite.


I guess it is a love it-hate it thing. Personally, though, I think it is a bit much to make a virtue of the no chill filtering and no caramel when you add flavour and colour through a wine finishing process. Moreover, I can't understand why the SWA permits it when it turns its nose up at Canadian flavoured whiskies. But I hope we would all agree that the MMcD implication that cask finishing is a necessary stage of production is a step too far.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Mar 06, 2007 3:08 am

Nick Brown wrote:Moreover, I can't understand why the SWA permits it when it turns its nose up at Canadian flavoured whiskies.


I see your point, Nick, but scotch whisky is matured almost exclusively in second-hand casks, and whatever is in the wood has always been fair game. How can you say that ten years in a sherry cask is okay, but a few weeks in a wine barrel isn't?
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Mar 06, 2007 10:29 am

MrTattieHeid wrote:
Nick Brown wrote:Moreover, I can't understand why the SWA permits it when it turns its nose up at Canadian flavoured whiskies.


I see your point, Nick, but scotch whisky is matured almost exclusively in second-hand casks, and whatever is in the wood has always been fair game. How can you say that ten years in a sherry cask is okay, but a few weeks in a wine barrel isn't?


Because ten years in a sherry cask is ostensibly about maturation. A few weeks (days or hours, even) in any cask is not about maturation, it is about altering the flavouring and colouring in a significant way in a very short space of time. Why not be honest, stop faffing around with the casks, and just permit the addition of wine to create a new product called "flavoured whisky"?
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Postby BruceCrichton » Tue Mar 06, 2007 8:37 pm

Nick Brown wrote:Because ten years in a sherry cask is ostensibly about maturation. A few weeks (days or hours, even) in any cask is not about maturation, it is about altering the flavouring and colouring in a significant way in a very short space of time. Why not be honest, stop faffing around with the casks, and just permit the addition of wine to create a new product called "flavoured whisky"?


Or we could just leave well alone. 8)
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Mar 07, 2007 7:32 am

How does "maturation" differ from "altering the flavor"?
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Mar 07, 2007 10:15 am

I don't think we should leave this topic alone - for me, it is the most important issue facing the whisky industry today.

I think the difference between maturation and finishing is in the length of time taken to achieve the results, and the purported method of that change. Maturation in a refill cask is supposed to be the wood interacting with the whisky over many years to "mellow" the fire in the spirit and add depth to the flavours that are present in the new make. The finishing process seems to be getting ever shorter and has a very dramatic effect inchanging the flavour and colour of a whisky - a few hours is all it seems to take in some cases. This cannot be a case of the whisky interacting with the wood - it is the whisky mixing with the previous contents of the finishing cask which may, or may not, have been fully drained. I will grant you that there would be no theoretical difference between a sherry cask, a port cask and a beaujolais cask. But wouldn't it seem reasonable, in true tradition, to insist that the whisky spent its maturation in a single cask to call itself whisky. Whilst I'm sure you could still mix and match at the vatting stage, it would mean having to plan ahead to a certain extent rather than just adding th flavour at the eleventh hour.

I know I do go on about this topic, but we do seem to have gone beyond the occasional novelty whisky and the effects of finishing are so widespread, and so significant that I think we ignore it at our peril. We need some kind of Reinheitsgebot to protect whisky. This wouldn't stop people from doing "innovative" things with whisky, but they'd just have to call it flavoured whisky, or whisky liqueur, or something.
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Postby martin grant » Wed Mar 07, 2007 4:56 pm

Sounds to me like there have now been more views of this topic than consumers at the actual event!
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Mar 07, 2007 5:12 pm

martin grant wrote:Sounds to me like there have now been more views of this topic than consumers at the actual event!

By some distance
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Mar 07, 2007 6:42 pm

I think you make good points, Nick, ones worth thinking about. MMcD and its subsidiary do seem to be a bit silly about it lately, and, while I'm not as bothered about it as you are, I do sort of hope that this is an experimental phase we're witnessing. I don't know that I'd want to regulate it in the way you suggest, as I don't want to discourage such experimentation; at the same time, I don't feel very much inclined to buy "ACEd" product (and find it hard to suppress a snicker every time that silly term is used).

If I had written the whisky reinheitsgebot, there would be no blends, at least as we know them. I'd mandate 100% barley, or it ain't whisky! It's probably a good thing I'm not in charge.
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Postby BruceCrichton » Wed Mar 07, 2007 8:57 pm

MrTattieHeid wrote:I think you make good points, Nick, ones worth thinking about. MMcD and its subsidiary do seem to be a bit silly about it lately, and, while I'm not as bothered about it as you are, I do sort of hope that this is an experimental phase we're witnessing. I don't know that I'd want to regulate it in the way you suggest, as I don't want to discourage such experimentation; at the same time, I don't feel very much inclined to buy "ACEd" product (and find it hard to suppress a snicker every time that silly term is used).

.


MMcD told me that they have problems with stock. I think that this, combined with the fact that Bruichladdich is not a big, flavourful whisky and changes mostly with wood rather than age leads to their maturation/finishing policy.

They could also be trying to carve out a niche for themselves as well. At least one other bottler makes great play of the fact that they do not do finishes and another keeps a stock of refill bourbon casks to preserve as much of the distillery character as possible.

Finally, to all those who don't drink MMcD whiskies, that leaves all the more for me.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Mar 07, 2007 9:32 pm

I definitely think the quality of the stock is the big issue for Bruichladdich. There must be loads of stuff in the warehouse that would have gone for blending in the old days--unspectacular stuff. Any distillery has the same, I think. The new regime has no blending contracts, so the only thing they can do with the stock is bottle it as a single. Finishing is a way of livening up the product, and on the whole, I have no problem with that. They put it in casks to improve it in the first place; if the first cask doesn't do the job, why not try another? They've made a virtue of a necessity. If it's not of interest to you, don't buy it. Still, I do understand Nick's reservations, particularly with very short-term finishes. But I honestly don't know where you draw the line on that; probably many of the wine casks they are acquiring would have too much influence if used for very long, and possibly the cask needs taming as much as the whisky does. Anyway, whether the whisky is in a sherry cask or port pipe for a short time or for years, the "flavoring" aspect of it is there; it is the accepted way of adding another dimension to the product. Again, I don't know how you draw a line. I don't think it's the same as adding another liquid, or turning a blind eye to "slosh", which, given the way I understand barrels are prepared for use, I don't think really exists.
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Postby Ann-Helen » Thu Mar 08, 2007 7:36 am

I find these finishes somewhat interesting because you can see what differences do accour and compare whiskies that have been on the same type of finishing caskes.
Why not try new things with an open mind. :)
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