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Query - reaction to Edradour Burgundy finish

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Query - reaction to Edradour Burgundy finish

Postby Frodo » Wed Jun 01, 2005 3:13 pm

Has anyone tried this? I've only ever had one wine finish - the Glenmorangie Burgundy finish - and what a disappointment it was! Kind of mellow, but not obvious like port finish. I'd like to try another wine finish, but the price on the Edradour is steep!

Has anyone tried this one? Responces? For C$150 I'm not sure about taking a flyer on this, but I am curious...

Frodo
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Postby kallaskander » Mon Jun 27, 2005 3:28 pm

Hi there,

pray tell my Frodo why would you like to try a whisky which has been finished in a wine barrel? To my taste and opinion whisky and wine don´t gang tegither to misquote Robert Burns. The stillman carefully tries to avoid some flavours and aromas which the wine brings back into the malt if the finishing is done in a wine cask. Give me a sherry, port, brandy, within limits a calvados finishing and I say yes. But I have yet to find a wine finishing I could like. To my palate they all start rather pleasant and sweet and then, when you begin to swallow and your dram ist down in your stomach something oily and bitter something ugly and bad sets on the roof of your tongue just to spoil the taste and the finish. And the finish is the lasting part of most of the drams you take. When I was at Elgin I visited Gordon&MacPhail (who wouldn`t?) and I asked what they thaught of the "finishing mania" as I call it. They smiled politely and pointed out that they did invent finishing whisky in second barrels and that, more important, that one thing is sure: never is there premium malt used for finishing. Just think a sec there, what if the finishing turns out wrong, what do you do?
So why would one want to buy and taste a malt that has not been up to the standards of its creator in the first place after it has taken on aromas and flavours it was never meant to have in the first place? Riddle me that!
I do not want to preach, but sorry, no wine finishings for me. And that is the short version of my tale. But don´t let yourself be discouraged, ask yourself for a moment why a whisky like the Edradour is available in so many finishing versions in such small bottles at such a high price instead? What answer does spring to mind?

Greetings
kallaskander
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Mon Jun 27, 2005 3:45 pm

kallaskander wrote:

pray tell my Frodo why would you like to try a whisky which has been finished in a wine barrel?

Hi Kallaskander!
Why? Sherry and Port are both wines.....

Skål!
Christian
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Postby andrewfenton » Mon Jun 27, 2005 3:48 pm

While I'd agree that most wine finishes are rubbish, there are a few worth trying. Ian MacLeod's medoc finishes are terrific - it adds all sorts of verve to the Tamdhu, and it turns a Caol Ila into a Talisker-style sizzler.

Of the Edradours, I've had the Marsala (lovely) and the Burgundy (pretty good) - these were recommended as the best of the bunch by a local whisky shop. The former probably has wider appeal, the latter perhaps more of a love-it-or-hate it.

As for Edradour prices, they are a little over the top yes, but it is a really, really tiny distillery so they have poor economies of scale. On top of that, the wine-finished ones are cask strength. Having said all that, I probably wouldn't buy them at the price they're at - I'd like to have a bottle of the Marsala, but there are plenty of others at the same price ahead of it on my list.
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Postby bernstein » Mon Jun 27, 2005 4:20 pm

kallaskander wrote:one thing is sure: never is there premium malt used for finishing.

Hi kallaskander,
I don't care much for Wood Finishes either, but still I think it's fair enough for distillers or traders to try doing so. Without those finishings, second rate Malt would be used instead for, well, second rate Malt (wouldn't like that idea...) or for the blending industry (don't really bother...).
By making some progress in finishing they keep alive at least the premium Single Malt segment of the market.
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Postby kallaskander » Mon Jun 27, 2005 5:32 pm

Hi there,

yes Bernstein that is what it is all about. Marketing and the attempt to sell whisky which is not up to standard. I do not believe that the Meadhan or the Highland Cattle or the Eagle of Spey are bad whiskies. Far from it. Considering the price/value ratio they are quite ok. And Glenfarclas does show that there is another way of marketing ( I mean that in the orirginal sense, bring it to the market) whiskies that are not the rule and standard of a distillery. But such considerations seem to play only minor roles in the works and machinations of companies like Diageo, Pernod-Ricard and the unfortnate Allied-Domeqc. And I do not agree, Im afraid that the premium single malt segment of the market is such a big concern to the multi nationals either. I would venture to say that it is all about getting all the market will bear. And by the way haven´t we all realised that the standard malts between the age of 10 and 15 years do taste differently nowadays because the same big companies have deemed it to be right to cut down on the age of the whiskies used for a standard single malt? In a let´s say 12 year old malt used to be barrels of 20 or even 25 years of age. No more the window, the span of ages used for standards is about age plus 5 years at the most I would say. And ist is the same with blends. If these mechanisms work for the ones who had the idea, all others with only few exceptions will follow suit. So why I would like to ask the audience should we put up with to put it mildly whiskies that are just not so good and spend money on them? Milking the market for all it is worth will ruin the industry in the long run. Short term profit does not really fit into the world of slow aging malts, don´t you think. Fullstop, meaning I stop myself before I start rambeling.

Greetings
kallaskander
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Jun 27, 2005 8:30 pm

Not to say that you're wrong by any means, but to look at things from another direction....

kallaskander wrote:I would venture to say that it is all about getting all the market will bear.


Maybe it's because I'm American, but my immediate reaction to this is...So? It's a business, isn't it? (And I try so hard to be open-minded.) As in any business in which esthetics are involved, I do believe it is worthwhile to support those independent producers who do what they do because they love it. But if there were no profit, not even they would do it at all.

We all love to hate the big multinational drinks companies, but in the end you have to simply accept them for what they are. Outrage that some bean-counter shut Port Ellen should be tempered by the probability that many more distilleries would long have been shut if not for these companies. (And I know that's a highly arguable point, and have no doubt someone will argue it. What I don't think is arguable is that the business would be different; better or worse, and in what ways, we could argue about forever.)

kallaskander wrote:And by the way haven´t we all realised that the standard malts between the age of 10 and 15 years do taste differently nowadays because the same big companies have deemed it to be right to cut down on the age of the whiskies used for a standard single malt? In a let´s say 12 year old malt used to be barrels of 20 or even 25 years of age. No more the window, the span of ages used for standards is about age plus 5 years at the most I would say.


Am I wrong in thinking that the biggest reason for that is that the industry was in a huge slump 20-25 years ago, and hardly anyone was producing much? When we all got interested in malts, ther was a pretty large surplus of older stocks; there may be again in fifteen or twenty years. But the early '80's were lean years for whisky production.

The second reason, perhaps, is the great increase in demand for older single malts in the last ten or fifteen years. That's us. Why would any rational businessman pour a barrel into a vatting for a standard 10yo vatting when he can get $100 or more for a bottle? Do we not now appreciate that 25yo bottle considerably more than we would if it were buried in a standard bottling? Generally speaking, that is.

kallaskander wrote:So why would one want to buy and taste a malt that has not been up to the standards of its creator in the first place after it has taken on aromas and flavours it was never meant to have in the first place? Riddle me that!


Because the end result is interesting and tastes good. The proof is in the pudding. It's absolutely true, no doubt, that no one ever said "This is a really great whisky--let's put a finish on it!" By the same token, the early 19th-century distiller would likely never have said "Let's put this in a bourbon barrel for fifteen years!" When you say it's an attempt to make substandard whisky saleable, that sounds bad; but if you say it's an attempt to make a lackluster whisky interesting and drinkable, that sounds okay. It's the same thing.

kallaskander wrote:So why I would like to ask the audience should we put up with to put it mildly whiskies that are just not so good and spend money on them?


Well, none of want to do that! But we all have a different idea of what constitutes "good" and "not so good". Somebody likes those wine finishes! Somebody's buying them, and it doesn't wash with me to say that Pernod-Ricard (or whoever) tricked them. Nobody says that you have to like them, Kallaskander; and to paraphrase Yogi Berra, if nobody wants to buy it, how are you gonna stop 'em? The market will take care of this business, one way or the other. (There I go being American again.) And in a forum like this, Frodo can ask for opinions on any given product, and get a wide range of answers from people whose taste he respects. --Although he hasn't got one yet.
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Postby kallaskander » Tue Jun 28, 2005 8:01 am

Hi there,

you are right of course Mr TattieHeid, there are always two sides to a coin - and then there is the edge. What I wanted to express in maybe too many and too elborated words is just that -and you have analysed that wonderfully- there are more aspects to the finishing business then meets the eye. That I do not like wine finishings and I hasten to agree that Port and Sherry are wines, fortified wines though, which do usually not carry that bitter camphorlike taste near the finish the gets at me does not mean I want to prevent anybody else from buying them or drinking them. After all if I were to be successful in that how should customers find out if the like or dislike the wine expressions. As to the market well it could well be that supply and demand regulate the finishing mania to an extend. It could just be that until then many is the malt lover whos has spend money on to many bottles he doesn`t really like. Was it curiosity that killed the cat? In this case it could make the day of many a enterprising bottling company. Am I totally wrong or is my observation correct, that the finishings are all higher priced than standards - because they are so rare?! Anyway, Frodo let yourself not be discouraged and just go on an try what you want to try.

Greetings
kallaskander
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Jun 28, 2005 4:58 pm

To put it in a few words: It might be a passing fad; it might be the start of something big. I suspect it's somewhere in between. Cheers, k.
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Postby kallaskander » Wed Jun 29, 2005 9:20 am

Hi there,

let´s not quarrel but enjoy many a god dram that are to be had just for the asking. To be honest, there is one wine finishing, a private bottling from my favourite shop here in Germany I actually do like. It is a 15 year old Tomatin which was finished in a barrel that held a red wine cuvée made here in the South-West of Germany. The cuvée was made from German Dornfleder and Dunkelfelder grapes, both give intense red fruity and chewy wines the third wine used was a Cabernet, I think. And now the most probable reason why this one suits my: After just three weeks the colour and the flavours of the whisky were such that it just had to be bottled. This short time in the finishing barrel may just be the reason that the wine flavours are quite easyly discernible but the camphorlike components are clearly left out for good. So there is still hope for me an my taste in whisky, don´t you think? For my part I will sit back into my arm chair with a good whisky and watch on.
Cheers Mr TattieHeid, ever tried the Royal Brackla 11 y cs ncf by Cadenhead?

Greetings
kallaskander
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Jun 29, 2005 5:26 pm

Nope! I'm quite sure I've never had any Brackla.

No quarrel--just an exchange of ideas. To a contrary old sod like me, every idea presented, whether I agree with it or not, begs to be challenged, poked, prodded, flipped over, turned around; "on the other hand" and "yes, but" are permanent parts of my vocabulary. I know it makes me annoying sometimes.... My friend Marc, a bartender in Quebec City, said angrily to me one day, "Every time I say something, you contradict it!" Of course, I answered, "No I don't."

Prost!
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Postby Admiral » Thu Jun 30, 2005 2:13 am

Sounds a lot like a certain Monty Python sketch! :)
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Jun 30, 2005 2:22 am

No it doesn't!
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Postby Admiral » Thu Jun 30, 2005 2:49 am

Yes it doe....

No, stop that, it's silly. (Said in best Graham Chapman's Colonel voice).
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Postby Frodo » Thu Jun 30, 2005 3:43 am

kallaskander wrote:Hi there,

pray tell my Frodo why would you like to try a whisky which has been finished in a wine barrel?

Greetings
kallaskander


Valid question! The answer is - CURIOSITY :!: I've only ever had one wine (not fortified wine) finish, and that was the Glenmorangie Burgundy finish. It's a (relativly) new direction for whisky flavours that I'd like to try. But I'm also resistant to plunking money down for the privilage of buying a bottle without some feedback first. Too bad the tasting tower has very few of these...

Frodo
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Postby Lord_Pfaffin » Thu Jun 30, 2005 4:42 am

Frodo:
Are you going to the tower tomorrow?
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Postby kallaskander » Thu Jun 30, 2005 7:55 am

Hi there,

I´m looking forward to all your "yes, but"s and all your "other hands" (how many did you say you´ve got?). Exchanging ideas on the topic of whisky with the rest of the world sounds like an interesting way to pass the time - provided you have a good malt in your glass while doing that. No quarrel- of course not but contradiction on any issue we chose will widen the horizons of our experience. Whoa, I did it again. But enough of the proud words from dusty shelves for now.

Greetings to you all
kallaskander
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Postby Frodo » Fri Jul 01, 2005 2:09 am

Sorry Lord P. Not tomorrow. Perhaps next thursday.
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Postby Admiral » Fri Jul 01, 2005 2:51 am

one thing is sure: never is there premium malt used for finishing.


This comment of Kallaskander's went by without getting the due attention it deserved.

It is a very valid and important point. Critics of finishes have argued for a long time that finishing is a way to dress up bad (or at least inferior) whisky and sell it at a premium.

I like the logic behind his comment. If the malt is perfect, if it's as good as the distillery can make it, then it will be bottled as a single malt with pride. Why would you take the best a distillery can offer and then expose it to port or wine or whatever - potentially risking a marriage that may not work?

(I once spoke with Bill Lumsden about this - he confessed that many of the finishes Glenmorangie experiment with are complete failures).

If its quality is not good enough, then it will go to the blenders. Or, it will be finished in a different cask, and then sold as an exotic product. Either way, a finished whisky does raise a suggestion that the original malt was in some way - even if only marginal -inferior.

Cheers,
Admiral
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Fri Jul 01, 2005 3:17 am

Interesting point Vice Admiral, but does this disqualify a woodfinish that in some cases are accepted as good? If a wood finish can make an otherwise inferior single malt enjoyable then I see nothing wrong.

I have the utmost respect for the Amir-al-bahr :wink:

Skål!
Christian
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Postby kallaskander » Fri Jul 01, 2005 8:07 am

Hi there,

among my too many and too expensive hobbies is forming bonsai trees these last 25 years. I´m not a master so my quota might be even worse but there is a saying that to one good bonsai there are nine failures. Question: What happens to all the finishings that went and still do go wrong? Are they used (hidden?) in blends? Do they go down the drain - certainly not! Does anybody among us know a master blender personally, I mean well enough to receive an honest answer to such an intimate question? The blending industry used to use so called "filler" whiskies for producing blends in bulk. Fillers were never mentioned and never readily admitted because they were not in the blend for giving it depth, aroma or flavour but just to create mass. We are talking about Scots, after all. No offence meant but they are known for not wasting anything. What is more, come to think of it, by what ratio could I use a finishing gone awray in a standard single malt to "recycle" it? I could do that within limits if I wanted to, couldn´t I? After all it is still a single malt, distilled in one distillery, matured there in barrels of comon and legal usage and purpose. Now let my stop here I´m feeling a bit dizzy right now. I think I´m just having a day nightmare. It is pure speculation and one shouldn´t indulge in this but it would explain a thing or two to me in one case or the other. Would somebody please wake me?

Greetings
kallaskander
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Postby Lord_Pfaffin » Fri Jul 01, 2005 8:22 am

If you've been dancing with the same partner for the last 300 years, how often do you step on their toes lately? Like the wine industry here in Canada, once the expertise and chemistry was infrastructured the industry developed some unique products. Ontario icewines have won world acclaim. As for whisky i'm not sure i'd label any missteps as disasters, after all orchids are greek testicles.
Ardaíonn ár ngrá muid féin níos airde i gcónaí!
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Postby Admiral » Fri Jul 01, 2005 1:55 pm

among my too many and too expensive hobbies is forming bonsai trees these last 25 years


My dad became so good at growing bonsai trees that he had to get a smaller garden. :D


but does this disqualify a woodfinish that in some cases are accepted as good? If a wood finish can make an otherwise inferior single malt enjoyable then I see nothing wrong.


I agree with you entirely, Mr Fjeld. Some finishes do actually work, and the result can be an absolutely delicious whisky. (It doesn't change the fact that the original pre-finished malt may have been inferior though!) I, too, see nothing wrong with the final product. In a sense, the makers deserve credit for taking an ordinary malt and turning it into something good. It's just a shame that the malt may have been ordinary to begin with! :)

(For the record, some of my favourite whiskies are finishes: Bowmore Dawn, Lagavulin DE, Cragganmore DE, Glenfiddich Havana, etc).

Cheers,
Admiral
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Postby Lawrence » Fri Jul 01, 2005 3:21 pm

Well it makes sense that if a whisky was below the quality standard that they would try to bring it up in quality by re racking it. I think that finishes get way more attention than they desreve considering how little whisky on the market is a 'finish' but what's new and shiny always gather attention.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Jul 01, 2005 3:24 pm

Actually, the finishes command quite a bit of the whisky shelf space at my local supermarket - admittedly that's not where I get my whisky, but even so...
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Postby Lawrence » Fri Jul 01, 2005 3:51 pm

Maybe but I made the point that of all the whisky sold finished whisky was a very small part of the whole....
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Jul 01, 2005 10:45 pm

Admiral wrote:
one thing is sure: never is there premium malt used for finishing.


This comment of Kallaskander's went by without getting the due attention it deserved.


Hey! I addressed it. "It's absolutely true, no doubt, that no one ever said 'This is a really great whisky--let's put a finish on it!'" (Well, okay, maybe it deserved better.) And now I will address the idea that inferior whisky is used: There are many different ways to judge such a thing. When you use that word, you think, "bleah!", but we might just be talking about whisky that lacks the requisite zing, or doesn't quite fit the standard profile. And as I suggested somewhere--I guess on another thread--it could be that Balvenie (just to use as a hypothetical example) has more good whisky than it can sell as a ten, and rather than discount it (either by dropping prices or passing it in bulk to blenders) they choose to do something a little different with it.

As for failed finishes, presumably we are talking about single barrels, or perhaps a few barrels, in each case. Likely such a barrel can be buried in a vatting somewhere without much notice; or, if it's really a disaster, dumped without great loss. Or maybe they put it in the visitor's center and sell it to tourists as a one-off!
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Postby kallaskander » Sat Jul 02, 2005 7:42 am

Hi there,

Mr TattieHeid well said, but... No honestly I would not want to copy your style. Just some information. Balvenie has plans to cease the 10 year old as their standard bottling - and to start with the 12 year double wood henceforth. Now, what does that prove, point or counter point? Truth is that the double wood does sell better, is not so much more expensive and is a good example for a finishing coming out very well. Mind, it is a sherry finish, not ordinary wine (I used ordinary on purpose). These are the ones I have no grievance against. That will mean, in my opinion, that they will use all their standard ten and let it become eleven and a half and then finish it in sherry casks till twelve in the future. Not really a problem with that. I found the ten always very good, a fine example of a comperatively young Speyside whisky. It had a considerable content of sherry casks in the vatting, the colour came from caramel colouring. Hey, I said you´d be shocked! The term used reads in German "mit Farbstoff (Zuckercoleur) zur einheitlichen Farbgebung" which translates as "with artificial colouring (caramel) for a homogeneous colouring". Here we could and probably should open a new thread along the line 'Why should the colour of a single malt be homogeneous?'.
I hear you ask 'What about the Double Wood?" Yes, this one two, I`m afraid. And just now there comes another thought to mind: wine finishings done with red wines would safe the trouble of artificial colour, wouldn´t they? So must I come to realise that there is somthing good in a burgundy finish after all? Curiouser and curiouser the world gets.

Greetings
kallaskander
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sat Jul 02, 2005 4:33 pm

kk, I'm not shocked--we've been around on this subject before (and I've only been here for six months). Somwhere on this forum, someone (I think one of your countrymen) posted a fairly comprehensive list of malts with artificial coloring. Presumably caramel is used for just that, homogeneity of color--that is, just a little touch-up to standardize appearance where necessary. Certainly there are cases where it is overdone. (I still think Lagavulin's orangey hue is thoroughly unnatural.) In any case, most of us are aware that virtually all OB single malts use caramel, or a solid majority, anyway. And I'm sure we all wish it were not so. But perhaps consumers really would be shocked if suddenly all single malts were bottled without added color; even experienced uisgeophiles here occasionally express surprise at the paleness of some IBs.

I thought as I was writing that Balvenie might not be the best example; certainly it is not a typical one. But the spectre of the 10's disappearance might perhaps prove the point--that the 12 was never "inferior" whisky to begin with. And it just might be that the introduction of the 12 effectively killed sales of the 10--in other words, the attempt to create and fill a new niche in the market failed. But again, this is not typical of the many one-off and limited edition finishes that we have been talking about.

Incidentally, I have yet to see corroboration of the rumor that the 10 is slated for oblivion. I've emailed Balvenie directly and asked them to address this rumor, without reply.
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Postby bernstein » Sun Jul 03, 2005 8:32 am

MrTattieHeid wrote:Incidentally, I have yet to see corroboration of the rumor that the 10 is slated for oblivion. I've emailed Balvenie directly and asked them to address this rumor, without reply.


Peter Clarke, Business Development Manager Europe at William Grant & Sons e-mailed me a month ago: "The Balvenie team in Scotland is constantly looking at new ways to maximise the best from Balvenie stocks and with the worldwide consumer demand for Balvenie 12yo growing year by year the longer term plan is to re-position The Balvenie with its starting age at 12years."

So they keep us guessing about the actual date of re-positioning - the general direction appears to be clear enough. I'm curious though whether the response you hopefully get will be along the same line.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Jul 03, 2005 9:11 am

Perhaps we will be compensated for the loss of the ten with another older standard expression.
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Postby bernstein » Sun Jul 03, 2005 6:44 pm

Really looking forward to!
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