Chase Tasting Notes


Over the past year, I’ve been lucky enough to try the spirits that UK-based Chase Distilleries offers to the trade, so after completing my tasting notes on their core range, I’ve decided to combine them all onto one page for your viewing pleasure.

A little history first (1) –

A farmer of 20 years, William Chase had been growing potatoes to supply to the supermarkets as a commodity, but started to feel disheartened after he receives no feedback from the end customer. With prices rising, William decides to branch away from the supermarket scene with the idea of turning his potatoes into chips. During 2002, he travelled the world sourcing equipment and recipes to make potato chips. By the summer, ‘Tyrrells’ was rolling out, kick starting the homemade chips scene.

The creation of vodka though? That was more an accident. Whilst in the USA in 2004, William stumbled upon a small distillery whilst searching for packaging equipment – the distillery was producing potato vodka. So with his very own eureka moment, he sourced a bespoke rectifying column and started work on creating his very own homemade potato vodka.

From the idea in 2004, it took until April fool’s day 2008 to make the first of their potatoes and then make the first batch of vodka in June 2008. Despite having only a small volume output of 1000 litres for 16 tonnes of potatoes in its first run, William Chase prides himself on supreme quality over other mass-produced vodka.

So how does Chase create its award-winning products?

The first stage of the vodka making process is to convert the potatoes into sugars. The potatoes that we grow on the farm are old-fashioned high starch varieties such as Lady Claire and Lady Rosetta. They are harvested in late summer and stored in wooden boxes for the rest of the year. They tip them out of the boxes and into a water bath. Any stones that might be mixed in with them sink to the bottom, but the potatoes float and are drawn off into the peeling machine. The peel is mainly fibre and cannot be fermented, so they take it off and spread it on the fields as compost. The naked potato that they are left with is basically starch and water. They mash them and heat them up to produce a runny mashed potato. This cooks the starch so that the enzymes can get to work, but because they are destroyed by heat, they have to cool the mash to 60°C before they can add them.

The next stage is fermentation. The yeast starts to feed on the sugars that have been made out in the mash vessel and start to reproduce. This process has three waste products: alcohol, carbon dioxide gas and heat. They keep it cool at first to keep the rate of fermentation under control and after a week or so end up with a potato wine of between 8 and 10% abv.

When the fermentation has finished they then start the distilling process. As they gently heat the fermented mash, the alcohol will boil off preferentially and is condensed and collected. By law vodka must be taken to 96% alcohol by volume (abv) and then diluted with water back down to the bottling strength, which is 40%. In order to achieve this, it is distilled five times. The first distillation run is called a stripping run where they simply extract as much as possible from what they have fermented. Most vodka is stripped these days on a continuous stripper which is very efficient and can extract pretty much all the alcohol. Chase have gone back to using the more traditional batch pot still and although it only extracts 85-90% of the fermented alcohol, they are able to keep more of the character. The still is also handmade. It is completely copper which helps produce a smoother distillate by removing sulphates.At the end of the process, they end up with the Low Wines at around 45-50% abv.

Some of the substances in the Low Wines need to be removed as well as the need to concentrate the alcohol using the rectification column. This is over 70ft tall and extends up through the ceiling, up through the floor above and into a tower that had to be built on the roof of the distillery (again it is all hand-made from copper). They put the Low Wines back into the pot still and heat them up again. The vapour then passes up the rectification column through 42 bubble plates to the top where there is a condenser with cold water running through it. This condenses the alcohol vapour causing it to trickle back down to the bottom of the column leaving a thin layer of liquid on each bubble plate before it runs back into the still to be re-boiled, re-evaporated and sent back around the loop again. As the vapour passes up the rectification column again, this time it is forced into the layer of liquid on each bubble plate. As a vapour entering a liquid it will naturally condense, but because energy cannot be created or destroyed, something has to give, and so something also has to evaporate from the layer of liquid, and because alcohol has a lower boiling point than water, it tends to be the alcohol that evaporates preferentially. The result is that as the vapour passes up through these bubble plates it gets progressively purer and purer and more concentrated.

Once the ‘heart’ of the spirit run is removed, it is diluted with water from 96% abv to around 50% abv. The water is sourced from the aquifer underneath the orchard at the bottom of the valley. From the borehole they run it through a reverse osmosis filter and de-ioniser column to purify it. The next step is chill filtering. At low temperatures, long chain protein molecules can precipitate out of the spirit, and if not removed, the vodka could become hazy when stored in the freezer. So they chill the spirit down, allow the protein to precipitate out and then filter it again. They then add more of the pure water to adjust the product to 40% abv.

Some of the Chase Distillery Range

All the bottling is done by hand. The bottles arrive at the plant with the design already printed. They are then put upside down onto a turntable which rinses them out. After being put on a basic but accurate filler which fills the bottle to the required level, a cork is put in using a rubber mallet and a strip or capsule over the top.

So with a rather unique development, how do the finished products rate?

Chase Vodka – 40%

Gained the gold medal in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2010 Best Vodka category. Aromas of vanilla and butter mix well in the nose as the flavours of potato, butter and slight almond/vanilla surround your taste-buds. A smooth feel with a mellow aftertaste with great longevity. Slight black cracked pepper finish.

Chase Marmalade – 40%

Created using Chase vodka and marinated with Seville orange marmalade in the gin still. It is then boiled up and infused with Seville orange peel in their copper still. Giving a slight clear golden colour when poured and on the nose it gives off a subtle marmalade and orange aroma that smells fresh and inviting. On the palate, the marmalade gives off a stronger scent with a rather sweet and a slight bitterness from the orange, leaving a warm feeling and goes down well with a long lingering follow-up.

Chase Smoked Vodka – 40%

A small batch production of just 1000 bottles. Light smoke notes on the nose but bursts out as it hits the palate with a creamy potato textue. A long finish, albeit dry.

Chase Potato Bramley Apple Vodka – 40%

Bramley Apples are distilled with Naked Chase Apple Vodka. Light with kicks of apple on the nose that follows nicely onto the palate. A tangy yet crisp mouth feel gives a short profile.

Chase Rhubarb Vodka – 40%

Slowly cooked Herefordshire Rhubarb marinated with Chase vodka. A light, fresh scent of rhubarb aromas dance on the nose and palate, with a slight sweetness coming through as it nears the end.

Chase Bourbon Cask Vodka – 62.4%

Barrel aged vodka using casks that previously held Kentucky bourbon whiskey. Lots of dry oak swirl on the nose with vanilla, whilst the palate enjoys a mix of fudge, caramel and spicy black pepper to create a long finish.

Chase Raspberry Vodka – 40%

Very delicate and slow releasing of the raspberry on the nose which becomes rather fragrant once it hits the palate. A little sharp near the end but it soon mellows into a long offering.

Williams Gin – 48%

Distilled from organic apples, there’s lots of fresh green apple aromas on the nose which carries on to the palate, although a little bolder flavour. Hints of citrus mix to produce a smooth, longevity.

Williams Chase Seville Orange Gin – 40%

A sweet nose with slight orange aromas coming through slowly. Rather smooth on the palate with a slight ting on the long end. A lovely warmth.

Williams Great British Extra Dry Gin – 40%

Warm notes of cinnamon mix well with faint juniper aromas on the nose. Extremely soft on the palate with a kick of spice once it hits the throat. A little dry with the bold notes of citrus but the warmth of the cinnamon comes through a little more. Very long.

Chase Raspberry Liqueur – 20%

A deep, ripe raspberry nose bodes well as it creates a very smooth texture on the palate. A slight sweetness against a velvet offering produces a long finish, albeit a little dry.
There are many more variations that the Chase Distillery offer, including a smoked and a naked version of their vodka, a bramley apple and sloe gin, and rhubarb, elderflower and blackcurrant liqueurs.

Chase Elderflower Liqueur – 20%

Won gold at the Liqueur Masters 2009, sweet and floral on the nose, with the elderflower rather subtle on the palate instead of the hard hit you may expect. A refreshing long finish with a sweet after-taste that lingers.

Chase Rhubarb Liqueur – 20%

Very light and subtle on the nos, with a smooth sweetness of rhubarb which bursts as it makes it was to the back of the throat. A fantastic long flavour.

Chase Blackcurrant Liqueur – 20%

Soft nose of blackcurrant that doesn’t overpower the senses, although becomes bolder on the palate. A rather short offering with a little dryness near the end.

You’ll be able to find the Chase products on many back bars and homes these days – a testament to the brand from Herefordshire for traditionalism, hard-work, and determination to bring the UK something British! Worthy of a place in your drinks cabinet.

Check out more photos from my shoot at Dawnvale Leisure Interior Solutions via my Facebook page.

(1) All history and production methods taken directly from the Chase Distillery website. Subtle changes have been made for narrative purposes only.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Johnnie Walker Tasting Notes

Tonight, the Manchester branch of the Malmaison hotel chain hosted an insight into one of the worlds best-selling blended malts – Johnnie Walker. Hosted in their exclusive Ember bar, and by a gentleman ironically named Johnnie Walker, himself a former craftsmen cooper and now a Director of Wine and Spirits for Malmaison, the seven of us were sat in front of three offerings, Green, Gold and Blue Label.

But before we were sampling the delights, Johnnie gave us an insight into the Johnnie Walker brand and how in 1805, the legacy began. Born in Kilmarnock, he purchased himself a grocery store at the age of 14 after his fathers passing and ran the business, selling everything from writing paper to his own whisky, until his death in 1857. His son Alexander took over and set about globalisation just a few years later, trademarking the name Johnnie Walker in 1877. In 1889, his sons Alexander II and George took over after his passing, and introduce the now iconic symbol of the Striding Man, created by the cartoonist Tom Browne, which adorns each bottle of Johnnie Walker and credited as one of the first global marketing icons. In 1909, the bottles were named after the colour that each were associated with, with the Red and Black Labels the first to be born, and each bottle was now housed in its distinctive square bottle as of 1920. From here, a Royal Connection followed in 1934, where still to this day they supply the royal household after receiving a Royal Warrant.

So with a rather regal history, how does the Johnnie Walker range fair?

Johnnie Walker Green Label – 40%

The only vatted malt in the range (no grain, only 100% barley) and has a blend of only 4 single malts with the youngest being 15 years. Slight peat aromas on the nose mixing with citrus and orange to create a light offering. Smooth on the palate with just a whisper of peat that has a burst of mouth-watering flavour at the end, although it doesn’t stick around.

Johnnie Walker Gold Label – 40%

Blended from over 15 single malts, and created to commemorate Johnnie Walker’s centenary. A very light, smooth and sweet nose which carries on to the palate. Lots of honey and mixed cereal with a gentle smoke that creates a long after-taste.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label – 40%

Specially blended to recreate the authentic character and taste of some of the earliest whisky blends created in the 19th century. A bold nose with dried fruits, spice and toasted corn aromas that turns to a rich, silky offering on the palate. A good kick-start of sweetness with vanilla and caramel that almost makes this verge itself to be a whisky liqueur. A long finish of cloves, spice and wood.

Johnnie Walker Gold Label

Tonight was a fantastic insight into not only Johnnie Walker, but also whisky in general, with Mr Walker indulging in the production methods of single malt whisky, the regions and delights that each offers, as well as how blended malts came about. It’s great to try Johnnie Walker Blue Label again after first trying it at this years Diageo World Class Seminar, and at around £130, it’s not to be passed upon.

Since this night, I’ve been able to sample some of the rest of the Johnnie Walker portfolio –

Johnnie Walker Red Label – 40%

A nose of light, soft heather, fruit and honey, creating a creamy palate with subtle flavours of fruitcake and wisps of smoke and oak. Short.

The more familiar Black label will hopefully appear soon on my site to partially complete the collection under the Johnnie Walker family – I say that due to the fact their Johnnie Walker Blue Label King George V is around £350. Anyone with a spare dram?

To check out more photos from the event, click here to be taken to my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Grey Goose


Le logis

If you know me personally, or have followed my journey since the beginning, it’s no secret that one of my favourite vodka brands is Grey Goose. There’s not many brands in the world that I don’t like to be fair, each liquid has its own unique trail, but Grey Goose is one that sticks in my mind as the first premium level vodka I ever had the chance to experience almost 8 years ago. I’ve worked with the brand in nearly every bar or restaurant I managed, and I am more than happy to promote their activities and expressions through my work with Drinks Enthusiast. So you can imagine my delight when I recently had the chance to visit Le Logis, the home of Grey Goose!

Although I’ve already covered Grey Goose on my site before, It’s always good to attack the brand at a different point, as the trip to the Cognac region of France would put a lot of perspective on what I write for your (hopeful) viewing pleasure. So I’ve scrapped my original piece, and replaced it with a more thorough insight into the life of Grey Goose.

Le Logis
Le Logis

Over 100 km away north of Bordeaux, the small commune of Juillac-le-Coq in the Charente department of south-west France now houses the home of Le Logis, a Grey Goose home so-to-speak that is now open to teach the journey of the brand. The Château sits upon a hill overlooking the vineyards and sunflower fields, with baking sunlight touching every part. Perfect atmosphere then for a Grey Goose Le Fizz, a blend of St-Germain elderflower liqueur, freshly squeezed lime juice and soda water, chilled and ready for your arrival. The idea behind a trip like this is to unwind, relax and ultimately soak up the surroundings in the peaceful commune. A couple of hours can fly by with a bicycle ride through the vineyards or exploring the village, returning to the private pool complete with a Grey Goose bar offering a variety of simple Grey Goose creations such as Grey Goose La Poire and tonic.

Fresh food served up by the pool caps the day off, with a selection of canapes followed by lamb chops with thyme, beef bavette with confit shallots, large prawns with garlic, parsley and aniseed alongside marinated and grilled vegetables. A selection of regional cheeses follows, with small desserts including pear and Grey Goose in a chocolate shell, caramel toffee tart and raspberry and green aniseed macaroon amongst others. To finish the evening off, espresso and Grey Goose cocktails amongst company, which for this trip included London lifestyle media as well as drink based journalists.

Ludo Miazga (L) and François Thibault (R)
Ludo Miazga (L) and François Thibault (R)

Waking up to a sun shining view from your window is a sight that will etch in your memory for ever, as will the fresh croissants, pain aux chocs and brioche available in the kitchen quarters for breakfast. An early morning start on the Grey Goose timeline, effectively from grain to bottle, starts with the Grey Goose Maître de Chai François Thibault. François, alongside Global Brand Ambassador Ludo Miazga.  Talking within the Le Logis vineyards, François talks about how he grew up in Cognac where his father was a wine-grower. With such a passion within the family, he trained to be a Maître de Chai (effectively referring to the person in charge of the vinification and aging of wines) from a fairly young age, training in the regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy until receiving the title back in 1992. Since then, he worked for cognac distilleries including H. Mounier before meeting a gentleman named Sidney Frank, an Europe to America liquor importer for which François created the cognac Jacques Cardin along with other cognacs and brandies.

It’s here in 1996 that Sidney Frank approached François about an idea to create a premium vodka.

Once back in the walls of Le Logis, François explains that he took on the recommendations of French pastry chefs, utilising three local farmers in Picardie, northern France for their harvest of soft winter wheat. The harvest is a 9 month cycle, with the longevity in the soil creating a better base ingredient for Grey Goose. After harvesting, the wheat is taken to Saint-Quetin, a town not too far away from the wheat fields, and is stored within silo’s, moistened and rested for a period of 24 hours, humidified to remove and impurities since the harvest and then milled through metal rollers to create flour. Once they have their milled grain, it is added to a metal tank (lauter tun) for fermentation, wherein the starch will break down into sugar. Hot water is added to the flour within these tanks, with cooler water later added to break down the larger molecules, followed by the introduction of a yeast strain. The fermentation process happens over 6 tanks, making sure that all the glucose turns into alcohol.

Distilled 5 times in continuous columns soon after the fermentation process creates a spirit at 96.3% abv. It is then transported to Gensac, south-west France, where Grey Goose have their own purpose-built blending and bottling plant. Just outside the bottling plant, a well can be found which houses ‘pure’ water 40 metres below the limestone ground. To become the perfect water, it is demineralised by reverse osmosis which involves it being pumped through tubes at very high pressure through a ceramic membrane. The membrane stops any of the larger molecules (residue, sedimentation etc) from passing through, therefore leaving only pure water. It is then filtered through charcoal before being blended with the 96.3% abv spirit and bottled.

Grey Goose was launched in 1997 (the UK in 2001) to compete with the expansion of Belvedere in the US, and by 2004, Sidney Frank accepted a rumoured $2.4bn for Grey Goose by Bacardi. Not a bad journey in seven years by François and Sidney!

Of course, no Grey Goose tutorial would be complete without a chance to sample and experience the range –

Grey Goose – 40%

A clean nose with a slight mix sweetness as well as subtle nut and pepper gently arising. A smooth palate with cracked pepper, liquorice and butter with a lingering aniseed flavour. Creates a rounded finish.

Grey Goose L’Orange – 40%

Uses the natural essence of 1 kilogram of fresh oranges per 1 litre of Grey Goose. A deep, rich aroma of ripe orange with lots of freshness on the nose. Very smooth as it hits the palate, with a burst of flavour and a long finish.

Grey Goose Le Citron – 40%

Using the essential oils from the zest and peel of lemons from southern France. Very fresh and zesty with a lemon meringue aroma making its way around the nose. Light and subtle on the palate, with a long mouth-watering finish.

Grey Goose La Poire – 40%

Using fresh maceration of pears harvested 300 km north of Cognac. Strong and sweet combines on the nose with lots of fresh, juicy pear aromas. Short and sweet on the palate, but full of bold flavour when it hits.

Grey Goose Cherry Noir – 40%

Harvested Basque black cherries from a small village in western France. Fresh, deep nose of cherry. Rather floral, with a sweet finish of cherry bakewell. A sweet start on the palate, with sharp hits of the cherry that grows to a light, fragrant and slightly tart finish.

Grey Goose VX
Grey Goose VX

Grey Goose Le Melon – 40%

Uses Cavaillon melons from the south of France. A rich, fresh melon aroma on the nose follows boldly onto the palate. A long, sharp flavour of the ripe melon flavours comes through, creating a soft, dry finish.

Grey Goose VX (Vodka Exceptionelle) – 40%

Launched in July 2014. A blend of 95% Grey Goose and 5% Cognac created from grapes from the Grande Champagne cru that is slightly ageed.
Light on the nose with a distinct cognac fragrance. Soft, white grape and wheat producing a floral honey aroma. Soft on the palate, subtle hints of the cognac coming through, with developing aromas of white fruits blended with wheat. A lingering finish.

One the vodka experience is wound up, lunch on the La Terasse is served, before more hours to wind away before a cocktail masterclass hosted by Ludo Miazga himself.

Housed within Le Logis is a newly refurbished bar, perfect for demonstrating three classic Grey Goose serves –

Grey Goose French Mule
Grey Goose French Mule

Grey Goose French Mule

Glass – 

Copper cup

Ingredients – 

50 ml Grey Goose Le Citron
1/2 Fresh lime
Fever Tree Ginger Beer

Method – 

Squeeze the lime into a copper mule and drop half in. Add good quality ice cubes and pour in both Grey Goose and ginger beer. Garnish with a lime quarter and sliver of ginger.

Grey Goose Dry Martini
Grey Goose Dry Martini

Grey Goose Dry Martini

Glass –


Ingredients –

60 ml Grey Goose
10 ml Noilly Prat Dry
1 Dash of Orange Bitters

Method –

Fill a shaker with ice and add the Noilly Prat. Stir to coat ice and strain out. Add Grey Goose and bitters, if desired, and stir well. Strain into a chilled Martini glass. Present with a lemon twist.

Grey Goose Le Fizz
Grey Goose Le Fizz

Grey Goose Le Fizz

Glass – 

Champagne Flute

Ingredients – 

35 ml Grey Goose
25 ml St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
20 ml Fresh Lime
70 ml Soda Water

Method – 

Hand squeeze lime into a large wine glass. Add al of the ingredients, top with cubed ice and stir.

All three serves can set you up nicely for the last evening meal, a more formal sit down occasion. A starter of gravlax salmon, Saint Moret cream cheese with Grey Goose L’Orange, followed by beef wellington, sauteed chanterelles and confit shallots with baby carrots kicks of proceedings perfectly, accompanied by a choice of red or white wine. Cheese plate served on a piece of cognac barrel, with a finish of a chocolate sphere, roast apple with a pastry cream and Grey Goose vodka capped the evening, and trip off perfectly.

The trip to Le Logis and to discover Grey Goose first hand is a fantastic opportunity which looking back at it, I’m now more confident at delivering Grey Goose showcases when using the brand within my work. To meet someone like François Thibault, who has single-handedly, and still to this day, created Grey Goose and its flavour expressions is a real honour. The energy that Ludo has in presenting the aspects that Grey Goose offer is shows why he is the man to represent the brand all over the world, and to see it in the new home of the Grey Goose experience, Le Logis, the 17th century property restored by the brand since its ownership in 2012, really makes the trip worthwhile.

Love it or hate it, you can’t deny the legacy that Grey Goose has carved out, and with the experience it can now show first-hand, I’m sure it can re-establish, or even convert many a persons thoughts on this French brand.

For more photos of my trip, please visit my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Haymans new

Hayman’s. A name etched into the history of gin, but perhaps not your normal ‘go-to’ gin brand when hunting on the shelves of your local supermarket. Hayman’s is seen more as the silent assassin. They don’t shout, but ask any bartender and they will love at least one of the expressions that Hayman’s create, and be happy to pour you a glass.

But why should you deviate away from your past brands of choice?

Well Hayman’s has a rather simple history, and can have its name etched amongst one of the worlds most well-know gin brands – Beefeater. The original company of Hayman Distillers was founded in 1863 by a gentleman named James Burrough, the great Grandfather of the current Chairman, Christopher Hayman. It was Mr Burrough who created the world-renowned Beefeater gin, as well as a range of other gin and cordials such as Ye Olde Chelsey gin, after purchasing the gin rectifying company John Taylor and Sons.

After expanding their name into the US in the early 1900’s, World War 2 hit and Hayman’s gin, like everyone else, were hit hard. Step forward Neville Hayman, an accountant by profession, who joined the board to represent his wife Marjorie, James Burrough’s granddaughter. He helped re-structure the business to ensure it can survive the aftermath of World War 2, and saw the reduction in some of the styles that were making Hayman’s gin famous, including Old Tom Gin and Sloe Gin. 1969 saw James Burrough’s great-grandson Christopher Hayman join the company, who is still at the help today, and appointed Operations Director and responsible for the Distillation and Production of Beefeater gin in 1977.

James Burrough PLC was to Whitbread in 1987, but Christopher Hayman retained the archive of recipes which were used as a spring board to create the new Hayman’s products and continue to distill and blend traditionally both gin and other white spirits. Between 1988 and 1999, Christopher Hayman purchased back James Burrough FAD (Fine Alcohols Division) and renamed it Hayman Distillers, who then became part of a consortium who bought Thames Distillers in Clapham – 1 of 2 Gin distilleries in London at the time.

Entering the new century, James Hayman, Christopher’s son, joined the team in 2004, with Hayman’s 1820 Gin Liqueur also making an appearance on the shelves. A year later, Miranda Hayman, Christopher’s daughter, also joins the team. The Old Tom made a comeback after nearly 60 years of absence, and the brand became exported to over 40 countries, and in 2013, came complete with new packaging and housed spirit from their new dedicated still ‘Marjorie’

So with a rather historical background, what do Hayman’s gin offer to their customers? Well below, I give to you some background information on each, as well as my tasting notes.

Hayman’s Royal Dock

Hayman’s London Dry – 40%

A combination of 10 botanicals, including angelica roots from France and liquorice, create Hayman’s London Dry Gin, with the traditional London Dry style being carefully balanced with juniper, coriander, orange and lemon peel, orris root, cinnamon, cassia bark and nutmeg. After 24 hours of being steeped, it is then distilled in the traditional pot still ‘Marjorie’.
Fresh citrus lemon on the nose with a delicate mix of juniper flowing through. A clean flavour on the palate, with a slight tang on entry, however it smooths itself out into a slight dryness.

Hayman’s Old Tom – 40%

A botanically intensive gin from a recipe in the 1870’s, that delivers a more rounded experience than other styles of gin, this was the ‘Gin of Choice’ back in the 19th Century, with its popularity stretching back to the 18th Century.
On the nose, a subtle lavender aroma mixes well with a sweetened fruity nose. A clean smell of ginger, juniper and coriander follow through onto the palate with orange joining the mix. Very drinkable with a slight dryness on the aftertaste.

Hayman’s 1820 Gin Liqueur – 40%

The worlds first gin liqueur distilled to a specific gin recipe in a traditional pot still and then blended into a liqueur.
A smooth, clean and refreshing citrus aroma on the nose with a small hint of herbal essence. The sweetness on the palate brings out flavours of orange.

Hayman’s Sloe – 26%

A traditional English Liqueur made to a long-standing family recipe previously only available for private use. Wild English grown sloe berries are gently steeped for several months with Hayman’s Gin before being blended with natural sugar.
Very fresh and light on the nose with a good dose of sloe berry aroma. Rather light and refreshing on the palate with a bold beginning. Mellows out rather quickly, with cinnamon and citrus the noticeable flavours.

Hayman’s 1850 Reserve – 40%

Distilled to a recipe from the 1850’s, which is then cask rested for 3 to 4 weeks following the tradition of Gin Palace style Gin.
Lots of dry pepper on the nose but becomes smooth with a hint of spice. The smoothness continues onto the palate with a slight creamy offering that comes alive with spice. Very long after-taste.

Hayman’s Royal Dock – 57%

Represents the style of gin supplied by the Hayman family and previous generations under the mark “Senior Service Gin” to both the Royal Navy and the trade from 1863.
Very sharp nose with a slight citrus aroma leaving its mark. Smooth beginning on the palate, with a slight kick but mellow soon after. Rather long and clean that comes with a slight burn at the end, but still mouth-watering.

Hayman’s Family Reserve – 41.3%

Limited edition with each batch only producing 5000 bottles. The Family Reserve reflects the style sold in the ornate ‘Gin Palaces’ in London and other English cities in the 1800’s. It is rested in Scotch whisky barrels for three weeks in keeping with the tradition that gin was sold from the cask rather than the bottle, which was commonplace in England until the 1860’s.
Clean on the nose with delicate and subtle cracked pepper, oak and coriander aromas. Plenty of soft oak on the palate, with the sharp kicks of spice, coriander, fresh pepper and juniper combining well on the long, lively finish.

A fantastic range from England’s longest-serving gin distilling family, but what if you wanted to ask your bartender for a good cocktail?

Gin and Tonic
Gin and Tonic

Hayman’s Gin and Tonic


Highball / Rocks


50 ml Hayman’s London Dry
Tonic Water
Slice of lime


Pour into a glass filled with ice and stir. Garnish with a slice of lime.

or perhaps,

Tom Collins
Tom Collins

Tom Collins




50 ml Hayman’s Old Tom Gin
25 ml Fresh lemon juice
Top with soda


Pour into a glass filled with ice and stir. Garnish with a wedge of lemon.

or perhaps,

The Blackthorn
The Blackthorn

The Blackthorn

Glass – 


Ingredients – 

50 ml Hayman’s Sloe Gin
5 ml Sweet Italian Vermouth
Dash Orange Bitters

Method – 

Stir ingredients together in a mixing glass over cubed ice until chilled. Strain and serve into a pre-chilled martini or wine goblet and garnish with orange zest or a twist.

or perhaps,



Glass – 


Ingredients – 

25 ml Hayman’s Family Reserve Gin
25 ml Campari
25 ml Rosso Vermouth

Method – 

Build in a tumbler glass over ice. Garnish with a curl of orange peel or slice.

Some expressions to get your teeth stuck into, and the new Family Reserve offers a great alternative to the classic gin cocktails such as the Negroni (above) and Martini. Grab a couple for a gin evening to impress your friends with, and to make your drinks cabinet look good.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Morrison Bowmore Whisky Tasting at Kro Bar

Last night was the return of the monthly whisky tastings held at Manchester’s Kro Bar. This time Morrison Bowmore Distilleries were the guests, bringing with them Bowmore, Auchentoshan and Glen Garioch.

Again for those of you who don’t know what Kro Bar is, they’re a Danish family business who specialise in Danish food and beer. A popular idea in the Manchester area, they’ve expanded from 1 outlet to 5 in the space of 10 years.

Our host for the evening was Paul, with help from Tim who represented their UK distributor Cellar Trends.

Now many regulars who follow me might well recognise the word Auchentoshan, having visited their distillery back in January. However, the great thing about these whisky tastings is that you get the chance to try the rest of the range, which in my case, was to add the Auchentoshan Classic to my repertoire. I have sold the Bowmore range from my work at Casa Tapas Bar & Grill, and Glen Garioch is a whisky that I’ve never come across in my travels. So armed with Paul’s exciting enthusiasm, myself and Dalia of The Circle 360  got stuck into our first offering – Auchentoshan Classic.

Our range for the evening

Auchentoshan Classic – 40%

Matured in first filled American bourbon barrels, it gave off a light, delicate vanilla scent on the nose, with white fruit coming through near the end. The palate enjoys a sweet vanilla, with a fresh citrus flavour that creates a lingering aftertaste.

Auchentoshan Three Wood – 43%

Matured in three different cask types, American bourbon to Spanish Oloroso sherry and finishing in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, a nose of sweet orange and raisin with blackcurrant. The palate has some dry fruitness with fresh lemon and butterscotch resulting in a long oak finish.

Bowmore 12yr – 40%

A pre dinner whisky from the oldest Isle distillery in Scotland, a heavy nose of burnt peat blended with chocolate follows on the palate with a deep, smokyness balanced out with flavours of lemon and honey.

Bowmore 15yr – 43%

Finished for three years in a Oloroso sherry butt, it creates a light, fruity nose with raisin aromas and a slight smoke note. Treacle flavours on the palate, again with a slight smokyness with a short finish.

Glen Garioch OB Founder’s Reserve – 48%

A light, corn led aroma on the nose, with sweet vanilla, fresh green fruit and citrus on the palate that creates a fresh finish.

Glen Garioch 12yr – 48%

A mix of fudge and pear blend well on the nose to create a sweet offering. The palate is rather sharp to begin with but mellows quickly. Ripe banana moves to a slight smoke and salt flavour with the pear notes coming through at the end.

Delicious Kro Bar burger

To compliment the whisky selection, the Head Chef at Kro Bar created us all a traditional beef burger with chips. Simple, but effective!

So another thoroughly enjoyable event in which we were able to sample a good range of Scotland, visiting the Lowlands, Highlands and Isla.  Personal highlights were the Auchentoshan Three Wood and Glen Garioch OB Founder’s Reserve.

Hopefully I’ll be at next months whisky tasting, where 6 more whiskies will be on offer to a crowd that is steadily rising as the months go by. Care to join me?

Check out the previous Kro whisky tastings here.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

National Winter Ales Festival 2012

A couple of weeks ago, the National Winter Ales Festival rolled its way into the Sheridan Suite on Oldham Road, Manchester to showcase over 300 ales, ciders and perries to the Manchester public. In association with CAMRA and Robinsons Brewery, it promised a wide range of both national and local breweries, as well as International bottled ales, food, stalls and entertainment. Myself and a friend went along on the Friday to try our hand at a few!

A rather drizzle led night, we made the 20 minute walk from Piccadilly Gardens to the Sheridan Suite, where a que was forming outside the doors – always a good sign, especially when it was one in, one out. After finally making our way inside after paying a tidy sum of £5 to gain entry, we entered to what I can only describe as a large room filled with long rows of barrels, hand-pumps and hot food stalls, all entwined with a mixture of families, groups of adults both young and old and a flurry of volunteers pouring away.

After briefly browsing the many offerings, I plumped for Dry Stone by Hawkshead Brewery (4,5%), a well-balanced stout that had a long, dry finish, whilst my friend went for Happy Valley’s ‘Little Rascal’ (3.9%), a fantastic hop character created using Tomahawk, Columbus and Chinook hops. Next up was the ‘Centurion’s Ghost’ by York Brewery (5.4%), a dark, bitter ale that gave off a roasted malt flavour. A rather easy drinker! ‘Snow White’ by the Whim Brewery (4.8%) was chosen next by my friend, a coriander based wheat beer with a citrus zest taste on the palate.

We then sourced out the Robinsons Brewery table, where they had on offer ‘Old Tom’, ‘Old Tom Chocolate’ and their new ale, ‘Long Kiss Goodnight’. My friend plumped for the Old Tom Chocolate (6%) a chocolate infused variant on the award-winning Old Tom, whilst I went for the Long Kiss Goodnight (3.9%), a rather warm, floral mix of toffee and spice on the nose, with a rich hoppy biscuit taste on the palate.

Long Kiss Goodnight by Robinsons Brewery

Unfortunately due to the time we arrived, we only had time for one more, so we decided to wander over to the International ale table, where there were fridges full of interesting bottled ales from Belgium, Germany, Holland, Czech Republic and the USA. We went off the recommendation of one of the volunteers, and he offered us a Belgian Anker Boscoulis (3.5%) and a Timmermans Peche (4%). The Anker Bouscoulis was a rather sweet strawberry fruit beer (perfect for a man with a sweet tooth) with lasting flavour on the aftertaste, whilst the Timmermans Peche had a powerful peach aroma which created a dry taste on the palate.

Despite only sampling a few, the sheer scale of the place, as well as the ales on offer, would make it a daunting task for anyone, and a full day is recommended! I’ve always loved these ale festivals, as it’s the perfect chance to try something new, or sample an ale that you see around, but just never had the opportunity to try. Roll on next year!

For more photos of the Winter Ales Festival, click here.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Dalmore Distillery Tour


The second distillery of my Scotland tour was located in the North East Highland’s and a little town named Alness, home of The Dalmore.

After walking the short 20 minute walk from Alness town centre, we were greeted by a stunning location. The Dalmore distillery is situated on the banks of the Cromarty Firth, and with the morning sunrise filtering its way through the crisp January sky, it was the perfect setting as the light hit warehouses, pagodas and barrels.

Matusalem Casks

Making our way to the visitors centre, we were greeted by our tour guide for the day, Morag, who whisked us off to the Dalmore Custodian Wall. The Dalmore Custodians is members only, where you can find exclusive rare bottlings, events and information, and if your were one of the lucky first 1263 Custodians (the year the Dalmore stag was founded), your name will be etched onto their Custodian wall. Next to the wall, was the story behind The Dalmore, ‘The Death of the Stag’. A replica of the canvas that is housed in the Scottish National Gallery hangs proud as Morag explained how in 1263, a predecessor of the Clan MacKenzie saved King Alexander III from a rampaging stag. The King rewarded him with the Royal emblem of a 12-pointed stag that he used in his coat of arms, and would go on to use on every bottle of The Dalmore since.

Morag then proceeded to explain the history of The Dalmore itself, which turns out to be a rather simple affair. Established in 1839 by Sir Alexander Matheson, he built the distillery overlooking the Black Isle. 47 years later, the MacKenzie family purchased the distillery, and with their history dating back to 1263, the iconic 12 point stag came to life. Recently, the MacKenzie motto ‘Luceo non Uro’ or ‘I Shine, not burn’ has also been used by The Dalmore. The MacKenzie family owned The Dalmore for almost a century, until Whyte and Mackay took over.

Making our way to the ‘Lauter Tun’, The Dalmore use golden barley from the Black Isle, which is then ground into grist which maximizes the amount of starch that converts into sugars during the mashing process. After milling, it is then ready for combining with yeast and water from Loch Morie. The barley is fed into the lauter tun (a huge copper pot) and combined with the Lock Morie water. The resulting mixture is named the ‘wash’ where it is pumped through to one of the 6 metre deep washbacks made of Oregon Pine. After being steeped for several days, the wash is then pumped through to their unique flat top wash stills to start the distillation process. This huge room, sweltering from the heat of these giant structures, houses 4 of the flat top wash stills, where their being heated at 94°C. The vaporised alcohol slowly makes its way up the still and through the lyne arm that leads to one of the four ‘cold water jacket’ stills. Pipes in the still pump cold water around, condensing the alcohol vapour into liquid or ‘low wine’ and is then pumped through the ‘spirit safe’ where they get the chance to control the condensed spirit.

Once we explored the distillation process, Morag took us to one of The Dalmore’s warehouses where, in a rather bitterly cold environment, rows upon rows of casks were housed. She explained that The Dalmore use only two kind of barrels to mature – American white oak bourbon barrels from Jim Beam, and Matusalem sherry casks from Gonzalez Byass. The Dalmore is the only distillery permitted to source Matusalem sherry wood from Gonzalez Byass, giving it a unique blend of 30 years of oloroso sherry flavours. Morag also told us a fascinating story regarding The Dalmore’s New Years Eve celebrations back in 1999. The staff and their families were quite possibly making history as they gathered at the distillery and the chimes echoed, they produced what was very probably the first scotch whisky anywhere in the Third Millennium. 12 years later, the first casks are set to be bottled.

The Dalmore Distillery

The final part of the tour was to enjoy the work that Master Blender Richard Patterson and The Dalmore create. We entered a small room with a round table laid out in the middle. Here, 12yr, 15yr, 18yr and King Alexander III waited for our approval. So below, I present to you my tasting notes on each:

The Dalmore 12yr – 40%

Aged for 10 years in a Jim Beam cask and then 2 years in a Matusalem sherry cask. A nose of vanilla and honey with an orange citrus and a more subtle hint of vanilla, cocoa and marmalade on the palate.

The Dalmore 15yr – 40%

12 years in a Jim Beam cask and then 2 years split into 3 thirds. One third in Apostoles cask, one-third in Amoroso and the last third in Oloroso. The final year is matured in a Matusalem sherry cask. On the nose it has an orange and marmalade blend, with hints of fruit cake. A well-balanced ginger and mandarin flavour on the palate, with chocolate hints coming through.

The Dalmore 18yr – 46%

Aged for 15 years in a Jim Beam cask and then 3 years in a Matusalem sherry cask. On the nose, fruit and spice blend well, with subtle almond and cinnamon aromas near the end. Vanilla, rosemary and hints of coffee present itself on the palate, with slight flavours of citrus and cocoa near the end.

The Dalmore King Alexander III – 40%

This is the only Single Malt with 6 different finishes – Matusalem, Sauvignon Blanc, Amoroso, Jim Beam, Oloroso and Apostoles. Fresh flowers and exotic fruits being released on the nose, with vanilla and zest of oranges coming through. Red berries and hazelnut, almond, rich citrus and vanilla produce a very smooth, sweet flavour on the palate.

I feel that I need to apologise for the briefness in my review of The Dalmore distillery. Compared to the in-depth writing of my visit to Auchentoshan, it may feel a little rushed. This was down to a rookie error on my part, my notebook was left back at the B&B. I have therefore lacked the specifics regarding the intricate workings of The Dalmore, however, I’m sure that if you have read this far, you will let me off this once! I do intend to return to The Dalmore in the near future, and my tasting notes cover the core range of what The Dalmore offer, where if you purchase any of the four available, you will not be disappointed.

For more information on The Dalmore, see my review of the brand here.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Auchentoshan Distillery Tour


Last week, myself and my father made the 4 hour trip to Clydebank, Glasgow to visit my first ever whisky distillery – Auchentoshan. Why Auchentoshan? Well it’s the only whisky producer in Scotland to use triple-distillation, and one of only 5 distilleries in the Lowland area. Legend also has it, that you need to start in the Lowlands to truly open your palate up to the delights of Scotch.

The Auchentoshan Distillery

Located close to the River Clyde, the rather picturesque setting of the Auchetoshan distillery invites you in via their visitors centre. Here you can sign up for one of four tours available, from a classic tour to the ‘Ultimate Auchentoshan Experience’ tour, and if you have a spare £200 available, you can even explore the delights of Auchentoshan ‘after-hours’. We selected to go for their ‘Classic Tour’, and while waiting to see if any others will be joining, sat in their auditorium as a short film was played introducing Auchentoshan to those who were not too familiar. It turned out, granted it was the middle of January, that we were the only two up for the tour at this time, so we were greeted my Mehj, our tour-guide for the hour.

Lauter Tun

Mehj started by explaining the areas of Scotland and the categories that now define the Scotch whisky industry, as well as the two sister distilleries that are asscociated with Auchentoshan – Bowmore and Glen Garioch. A brief history of Auchentoshan followed, explaining that the name ‘Auchentoshan’ means ‘corner of the field’. The distillery was officially granted a license and opened in 1823, although there is evidence that a distillery was operating on the same site from the late 1700s. The distillery has changed ownership on several occasions in its history, including a spell under Scottish brewing firm, Tenants during the 1960s. The current owners are Morrison Bowmore, who took control in 1984 and were subsequently taken over 10 years laer by Japanese drinks company Suntory. With a ressurgance in recent years, consumption can now be granted to the US, Canada, Nordic countries as well as Russia.

Auchentoshan use malted optic barley which spends 2 days soaked in water and then gently kilned. The barley is then ground into grist which maximises the amount of starch that converts into sugars during the mashing process. After milling, it is then ready for combining with yeast and water from Loch Katrine. The barley is fed into a lauter tun (a huge copper pot) and combined with the Lock Katrine water first at 63.5°C. The second filling is at 74°C and left fr 1 1/2 hours, and the third at 94°C (the heat helps turn the starches into sugar). After two fillings, its ready for fermentation (the third filling is used as the first water in the next mash).

The fermentation process happens in 6 metre deep Oregon Pine washbacks. Steeped for 5 days, it creates 35,000 litres of fermented wash at 8% ABV. At the end of the 5 days, the wash is pumped through to the first of three copper pot stills, the wash still. This huge room, sweltering from the heat of the three pot stills houses is where the uniqueness of Auchentoshan begins. Heated at 94°C, the vaporised alcohol slowly makes its way up the still and through the lyne arm that leads to the condenser. The left over ‘pot ale’ is then sold as fertiliser. Pipes in the condenser pump cold water around, condensing the alcohol vapour into liquid or ‘low wine’ and is then pumped through the ‘spirit safe’ where they now get the chance to control the condensed spirit. The actual spirit distillate begins life as something known as fore-shots. This is the remnants of the previous distillation combined with the current distillation (the fore-shots don’t make it any further – they’re recycled through the spirit safe into the feints receiver).


After eight minutes of fore-shots, the spirit starts to runs clear. This is known as the ‘new make spirit’. This ‘new make spirit’, is collected in the intermediate spirit receiver until the alcohol content drops to 80% ABV. The last process is known as ‘off spirit’, which is a second cut. This ‘second cut’ is recycled by redistilling. The ‘new make spirit’ makes its way to the intermediate still, at 19% ABV and around 16,400 litres. Again heated up, the alcohol vapour travels up and through the lyne arm, and cooled in a condenser where it is then pumped through the spirit safe and into the feints receiver. Finally, they take the high strength feints and distil 2600 litres in the spirit still. After passing through the spirit safe for the third time, it hits the spirit receiver at between 80 and 82.6%. Here it is now ready to be cask filled at a strength of 63.5%.
The Auchentoshan distillation process takes the fermented liquid from 8% ABV to 80%, a unique number resulted from the triple-distillation instead of the more usual double-distillation that usually reached just 70% ABV.

Bourbon barrel in the Auchentoshan warehouse

Mehj then took us outside into the bitter cold and through to one of the warehouses where we were able to see first hand the rows upon rows of cask filled barrels. Auchentoshan use American bourbon oak barrels from White Turkey and Jim Beam at a cost of £80 and £100 per barrel. Spanish sherry casks are also used – Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez at around £800 a barrel. American oak is used to blend in flavours of caramel and vanilla, as well as to give it a sweetness, while dark, rich flavours and citrus notes are released from the Spanish casks. The darkened, cold warehouse housed casks raging from ages 6 to 50 years old, and Mehj explained that the older the barrel, the less that would be in it. Why? Natural evaporation causes the alcohol and water to be released. After taking in the age that was surrounding us, we headed to the warmth and Mehj led us to Auchentoshan’s purpose built bar where we enjoyed a dram of 12yr and Three Wood. Below are my tasting notes on each –

Auchentoshan 12yr and Triple Wood

Auchentoshan 12yr – 40%

Matured for 12 years, an instant burst of citrus flavours hits your nose, with a destinct toffee aroma floating rather quickly behind. Very smooth on the palate, with raisin and nut blending nicely with a sweetness lingering soon after, with a small hint of ginger.

Auchentoshan Three Wood – 43%

Matured in three different cask types, American bourbon to Spanish Oloroso sherry and finishing in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, a nose of deep sweetness, orange and raisin mix extremely well, with a heavy dose of black currant to finish. The palate has some dry fruitness of raisin, with fresh lemon and butterscotch dancing slowly resulting in a long oak finish.

Two fine starts to the Scotland tour, and a rather in depth teaching of how Auchentoshan differ from all the rest. It’s great to see in person the size of the wash backs, the copper pot stills and the magic of a whisky warehouse, and I can finally truly grasp and appreciate the work that goes into creating a spirit that we can all safely say, has been around for donkeys years.

Check out the rest of the photos from the Auchentoshan distillery here, and my article on the brand, including other Auchentoshan expressions, here.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Elbow’s ‘build a rocket boys!’ Tasting Notes

Last month, the Manchester band Elbow launched a brand new ale, ‘build a rocket boys!’. Working with Stockport based Robinson’s Brewery and named after their recent album, the band created a media buzz at the recent Manchester Food and Drink Festival as they themselves pulled the first few pints in the Robinson’s beer tent. I myself have been enjoying Elbow’s new ale in the various Kro bars dotted around Manchester, but I wanted to wait until the bottle version arrived on my doorstep until I reviewed this golden bitter.

‘build a rocket boys!’  has been created to Elbow’s own specifications. The band enjoyed a series of beer tastings at the brewery where they sampled a range of Robinsons’ ales to shortlist their preferred style of beer, taste and colour. Elbow’s finished product was decided on a golden ale with a rich rounded body, smooth bitterness, with a subtle tang of malt and fruity aroma. It created a golden premium session bitter with a strength of 4.0% ABV.  The nose enjoys a slight bitterness with fresh hops mellowing their way down your sinuses. The palate gets a slow burst of sweet fruit with only a hint of bitterness on the tongue. A fresh, slight citrus note, lasts long on the after-taste with malt flavour staying on your lips. A lack of dryness means you can enjoy two or three of these during a night, and it’s not too heavy to stomach.

Robinson’s recently sent out a press release stating that “Robinsons report brisk trade of the beer with several supermarkets across the North West ordering extra stock of ‘build a rocket boys’, to keep up with demand. Elbow and Robinsons officially launched the beer at the recent Manchester Food and Drink Festival and the ale has gone on to be a big hit with music and beer fans alike. Two of Manchester’s most iconic drinking establishments, Kro Bar and The Castle, have already requested a second helping of the beer after pumps quickly ran dry.”

And to be fair, I can see why. I’ve met numerous people, both ale and non ale drinkers, who have enjoyed the new sensation, and with it rolling out into supermarkets, it can only get bigger.

Robinsons Brewery will also donate a significant percentage of all profits raised by the sale of ‘build a rocket boys!’ beer to Oxfam’s Famine Appeal.

This is an ale you really need to try.

To purchase ‘build a rocket boys!’, click here

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Wemyss Malts



Wemyss Malts were on of the first ranges on whisky I covered when I started Drinks Enthusiast back in 2011. Since then, Wemyss Malts range of expressions have grown, culminating in some hand-crafted beauties! Before I re-visit though, lets take a look at Wemyss;

Wemyss Malts, pronounced ‘Weems’, are a boutique whisky company with connections to the Wemyss family who hailed from Fife, Scotland. Wemyss itself comes from the Gaelic word for caves which stems from the rocky outcrop on the Firth of Forth on which the family home of Wemyss Castle sits.
The Wemyss Land was used at the turn of the 19th century where a gentleman named John Haig built his first distillery on the island. It is said that John’s passion for the industry made him realise the confusion that consumers had with the ever-increasing terminology of the whisky industry. With this, he aimed to create his whiskies and not only make them more accessible, but also understandable.

Wemyss Malts use a combination of the taste and aromas of each individual whisky to identify each bottling, rather than the traditional distillery way, resulting in the consumer understanding the style being purchased more easily.

But what about the whisky?

Wemyss Malts have two sub-categories – Blended Malts and Single Casks. With the blended, the Wemyss family hand select each individual cask, under the expert eye of Charlie Maclean, chair of the Wemyss Nosing Panel for both the Single Casks and Blended Malts.
Up to sixteen different single malt whiskies are blended together before introducing the “signature” malts to create the three distinct taste profiles.

Question is, does this really de-mystify the whisky labelling? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

The Hive 8yr – 40%

The Hive range uses a signature malt is from Speyside.
A sweet nose with a mix of wood and leather aromas, becoming more vibrant upon the palate. Smooth, plenty of light honey flavours to create a lingering finish.

WemyssThe Hive 12yr – 40%

On the nose, the sweet scent of  honey is dominant which carries nicely onto the palate. A slight buttery scent is also present. The fresh flavour of the honey spread along the palate and gives a bit of a spice kick near the end. A snip of vanilla is their but the honey is the main characteristic.

Spice King 8yr – 40%

Spice King range uses a signature malt is from the Highlands.
A fresh nose of spice become a little dry as it develops, although retains its smoothness. A slight sweetness on the palate, with dry pepper and spice evident creating a lingering warm finish.

Spice King 12yr – 40%

A bold, rich nose of sherry mixing with lemon zest but a slight harsh entrance on the palate. Bitter lemon and ginger flavours linger with spice notes and leads into an oak finish which leaves the mouth a little dry.

Peat Chimney 8yr – 40%

Bottled October 2010. The Peat Chimney range uses a signature malt is from Islay.
Light peat aromas on the nose, with a balance of heather and honey developing. Light on the palate too, with honey evident, moving to a lingering peat finish with some bold whispers.

Peat Chimney 8yr – 40%

A tweaked version of the above, sampled on 18th May 2014.

Very light, honey peated notes on the nose, with a little whisp of heather and heat. Incredibly sharp peat flavours on the palate, creating a spice heat that sticks to the roof of your mouth. Hard peat flavours on the finish, with a little smokey wood and honey elements thrown in. Lingering.

Peat Chimney 12yr – 40%

Soft peat notes on the nose with an oily scent soon after with a hint of sea salt. Heavy flavours of peat do mellow out as it comes to a finish, with a ‘peat chimney’ smoke on the after-taste.

Wemyss Malts are also the producers of premium blended whisky Lord Elcho. David, Lord Elcho, eldest son of the 5th Earl of Wemyss, was one of the most celebrated supporters of Bonnie Prince Charlie during the ill-fated Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. Flirting between England and France originally, he settled in Italy and met Charles Edward Stewart, playing a significant role in the uprising, eventually being appointed colonel of the Prince’s lifeguards. After being defeated at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, he was punished with the stripping of his land and titles and forced into exile.
Lord Elcho whisky is a nod to his life, created to honour the “refined masculine spirit of its namesake”.

Lord Elcho 15yr – 40%

Bottled August 2012. Crafted from a selection of malt and grain whiskies. Light, with lingering honey notes finishing with a slight sweetness on the nose. A well-rounded palate of honey and toasted wood, with the sweetness and warmth resulting in a lingering finish.

Lord Elcho NAS – 40%

Light cereal notes on the nose, with hints of honey and syrup coming through. Plenty of honey on the palate, with a light enjoyment of cocoa, fudge and creamy dry spice with cinnamon, ginger and cardoman. Long and warming.

Some absolute crackers to enjoy in your favourite whisky glass. But Wemyss Malts are versatile, with leading bartender Jason Scott of Bramble, Edinburgh creating gems such as –

Hive and Seek
Hive and Seek

Hive and Seek

Glass –


Ingredients – 

40 ml Wemyss Hive Whisky 12yr
12.5ml Campari
20 ml fresh lemon juice
2 bar spoons (10ml) saffron honey or orange blossom honey
Dash pasteurised egg white

Method –

Pour all ingredients into shaker and dry shake (no ice). Fill with ice and shake rapidly. Double strain.

or perhaps

Peat Smash
Peat Smash

Peat Smash

Glass – 

Julep Cup

Ingredients – 

50 ml Peat Chimney Whisky 12yr
14 mint leaves
2 bar spoons Demerara sugar
Spritz of Fernet Branca

Method –

Firstly spray the inside of cup with Fernet Branca. Separately, with all ingredients and cubed ice in a mixing glass, stir till ice cold and the flavours and aromas of the mint have infused into the liquid. Single strain over cracked ice in cup.

Brilliant! A superb range across the board, with personal favourites being The Hive and Peat Chimney. Although I’m yet to experience their Single Casks, I can only imagine that I will be impressed. Wemyss are coming out with a fantastic portfolio, diving into their heritage and creating blended whiskies, premium offerings, single casks and even two expressions of gin. You may not see this everywhere when it comes to bars and restaurants, but I can guarantee, if you know a venue with a good whisky selection, expect to see some Wemyss. It would be VERY rude not too. If not, pick one up for your drinks cabinet.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.