Manchester Whisky Festival 2014


It was to be that time of year again as The Whisky Lounge headed to its Manchester leg of their annual whisky festivals, situated as last year within the Bridgewater Hall. The nature of my job involves trying and experiencing many a whisky, ultimately giving me the opportunity to then utilise these expressions within my work. As was the case last year, the whisky festival throws up an opportunity to me to ‘fill in the gaps’ so-to-speak, and head towards expressions I’ve never had the opportunity to try. So without further-a-do, lets dive into the highlights –

Springbank 15yr – 46%

A good blend of chocolate, almond and toffee on the nose, followed by dried raising, figs and nuts on the palate. Long, warming and plenty of sherry at the finish.

Springbank 18yr – 46%

Rich vanilla and fresh fruits on the nose, with a slight nut aroma following. Thick, plenty of fruit flavours offering a sweet style. Long on the finish with hints of smoke and chocolate.

Kilkerran Work In Progress 6th Release, Bourbon – 46%

Ripe fruit with vanilla and gingerbread on the nose, followed by caramel and chestnut flavours on the palate. Peat notes come through alongside dark chocolate for the finish.

Paul John Brilliance – 46%

Plenty of honey, vanilla and sultana aromas on the nose, before dry spice flavours come through on the palate. Slightly sweet with hints of cocoa and vanilla on the finish.

Paul John Classic – 55.2%

Lots of rich, ripe white fruits on the nose, with hints of barley coming through. Plenty of honey on the palate too with dry spice and a slight dark cocoa flavour creeping through. A juicy finish.

Paul John Edited – 46%

On the nose there’s plenty of chocolate blended with peat and whisps of smoke, both carrying on nicely to the palate with an added sweetness to round it off. A long finish with slight kicks of spice and vanilla.

Timorous BeastiePaul John Peated – 55.5%

Plenty of peat and sugar notes on the nose,combined with ripe fruits and spice upon the palate. Slightly bitter on the finish.

Paul John Single Cask P1 – 163 – 57%

Light sherry and cherry combination on the nose with plenty of sugar notes. A sharp palate with citrus and oak a-plenty before the long, dry spiced finish.

Kilchoman Loch Gorm 2014 – 46%

Plenty of rich peat on the nose, followed by aromas of red berries and citrus. Roasted vanilla flavours on the palate, followed by the peat once again and finishing with sherry notes. A lingering sweetness.

Kilchoman Machir Bay 2014 – 46%

Lots of peat aromas on the nose with citrus and slight vanilla notes following. Lots of fruit on the palate with deep vanilla flavours coming through creating a long finish.

Kilchoman 5yr 2009 Original Cask Strength – 59.2%

Tropical fruit aromas on the nose followed by a vanilla and peat combination. A creamy texture on the palate with honey and vanilla flavours, malt and subtle peat. Long finish.

Singleton Sunray – 40%

Plenty of vanilla and honey combinations, plus hints of dark fruit and apple aromas near the finish. Soft on the palate with a thick texture of honey and malt which offers a warm yet short finish.

Benromach Organic – 43%

Sweet on the nose with plenty of malt and a slight kick of vanilla and banana coming through. Sweet fruit flavours are present on the palate, with a creamy texture, pepper notes and doses of malt with dark cocoa.

Benromach 10yr – 43%

Lots of rich sherry with hints of spice, chocolate and red fruits on the nose. Plenty of raspberries and ripe red fruits on the palate, followed by sherry notes, peat and a malt finish.

Benromach 100 Proof – 57%

Plenty of sherry notes on the nose with rich, ripe apple and pear aromas following. Sweet vanilla also present. Fresh strawberries on the palate, with hints of raspberries and oranges followed by smoky elements. A sweet honey finish.

AuchentoshanBenromach Peat Smoke – 46%

Sweet notes of vanilla and honey on the nose, with citrus aromas present too. Pepper and orange flavours on the palate, with a sweet strawberry also lingering to a wet smoke finish.

Big Peat – 46%

Fresh on the nose with plenty of dried barley and peat notes coming through. Rich, sweet treacle dominates the palate, with liquorice also finding a way through the smoke.

Timorous Beastie – 46.8%

Honey mixed with dry fruits on the nose, with sherry dominating slowly. More dried fruits on the palate with apple and apricots dominating for a long, dry finish.

Provenance Aultmore 5yr – 50%

Rich sherry mixed with dry fruits and spice on the nose. Well balanced with delicate toffee, dried fruit and honey flavours on the palate. Short on the finish with dry pepper.

Provenance Dailuaine 12yr 1999 Sherry – 46%

Dark, rich molasses on the nose with cherry and spice following. Sour fruits and sultanas on the palate, with nuts and pears on the finish.

Laphroaig Select – 40%

A peaty start followed by red fruit aromas on the nose. Slightly dry with almonds present too. Lots of sweet flavours before drying out on the palate with a smoke and peat combination. A rich fruit finish though.

The Macallan Ruby – 43%

Rich, dried fruits on the nose with a slight treacle aroma for a sweet finish. Ginger, orange and nutmeg flavours combine on the palate, turning to oak on the long finish.

Auchentoshan American Oak – 40%

Rich vanilla balances against fresh citrus zest on the nose. Smooth, creamy vanilla on the palate with slight coconut and sweet grapefruit on the finish.

Brandons Gin – 46%

Light, aromatic spiced on the nose with ginger and lemon dominating. Silky on the palate with a dominating blend of ginger and juniper, followed by soft pepper for the finish.

Arkansas Hickory Smoked – 45%

Plenty of smoky bacon on the nose and palate, with brown sugar and wood elements added to the finish.

LaphoraigKavalan – 40%

Aromatic fruits with honey and mango dominating on the nose. Sweet mango followed by spice and a citrus finish.

The Tweeddale 16yr – 46%

Sharp lemon blends with vanilla on the nose, with hints of spice creeping in. Lots of sweetness to begin, with oak elements and fruit creating a dry finish.

Aberlour a’Bunadh Batch 49 – 60.1%

Dry nuts, toffee and treacle aromas on the nose. Sweet on the palate with caramel, toffee and fudge, with a dry treacle finish combining with sweetness.

Longrow Red 11yr – 51.8%

Sweet summer fruits blend with a light peat aroma on the nose. Developing peat on the palate with dry raisin mixing with sweet port flavours. Long red berry notes to finish.
Until next year.

© 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.

Manchester Whisky Festival 2013 Review


The Bridgewater Hall in Manchester was the host of the biggest whisky festival outside of London, so big in fact that there had to be two floors filled with some cracking brands. The Whisky Lounge were the proud organisers for the 5th year in a row and had on offer the crème de la crème of the whisky world from both Scotland and Ireland, and even a few in Japan, India, England and America for good measure. Part of the Manchester Food & Drink Festival, there would be a host of seminars and masterclasses on offer including names such as Colin Dunn of Diageo and The Whisky Lounge founder Eddie Ludlow. This year I myself didn’t participate in any of the workshops on offer, but took full advantage of scanning the list for new additions, rare offerings and old favourites.

So, below, in order I sampled, I give to you my tasting notes on the days offerings –

Talisker Storm – 45.8%

Spice on the nose with hints of smoke and honey. A rich beginning on the palate, with a spicy kick following and sea smoke hitting the finish. Long.

Talisker Port Ruighe – 45.8%

Smoky notes on the nose with a ripe fruit following. A peppery beginning on the palate, but develops a peat flavour that mixes smoke and dark fruits. A lingering finish.

Berry Bros. & Rudd Blue Hanger Blended Malt, 6th Release – 45.6%

Rich orange and vanilla on the nose alongside waves of peat aromas. Fruits are present on the palate, with the well-rounded finish of sweet orange and smoky flavours.

Aberlour – Batch 2 (That Boutique-y Whisky Company) – 52.1%

Sultana, apple and chocolate notes on the nose, with lots of spice, treacle and dark chocolate blending well on the palate. Creates a very long finish.

Elements of Islay BR 4 – 54.7%

From Bruichladdich. Lots of sweet fruit notes on the nose, with the fruits moving straight onto the palate. Blended with a honeyed sweetness and a pepper finish.

William Grant’s Ale Cask Reserve – 40%

Smooth herbal nose with a little sweetness lingering. Edinburgh ale aromas on the palate, with the oak coming through more as it develops. Slight fudge and barley near the honey finish.

William Grant’s Sherry Cask Reserve – 40%

Light and fruity on the nose, with a mix of honey and nuts present too. A well-balanced palate with dried fruits, spice, nuts and oak dancing nicely to a long finish.

English Whisky Company - Founders Private Cellar
English Whisky Company – Founders Private Cellar

Tullamore Dew – 40%

Lots of fruit and oats on the nose, with hints of sweet caramel coming through too. Hints of spice, sherry on the palate leads to a long caramel finish.

Tweeddale Batch 3 12yr – 46%

A great blend of apples and vanilla on the nose, with a sniff of raisin near the finish. The aromas follow onto the palate, with an added hint of ginger. A little kick of spice to finish.

Tweeddale Batch 4 14yr

A light nose of dry lavender and herbs, with a palate that enjoys soft caramel blended with waves of spiced peat. Hints of salt and smoke come through as it finishes.

‘The Bomb’ Blended Malt – Oloroso Finish – 47.4%

A nose of fresh plums and raisins dominate, whilst sweet flavours of marzipan and spicy fruits blend well for a lingering finish.

‘The Bomb’ Blended Malt – Pedro Ximinez Finish – 45.4%

Lots of sweet fruits with dark berries on the nose, with a vanilla and fruit blend on the palate that creates a long finish.

The Salty Sea Dog – 46%

Fresh on the nose with plenty of sea salt and peaty smoke that carries onto the palate. Draws out a long, tangy yet defining finish with lingering peat and crunchy salt.


Springbank 10yr – 46%

Lots of oak and earth notes on the nose, with a more cereal base on the palate. Peat, nuts and smoke create a long, crisp finish.

Hazelburn 12yr – 46%

Very aromatic on the nose with dry fruits, sherry and toffee coming through. A little spicy on the palate, with cocoa, coffee and a hint of peat nearing the finish. A long finish.


English Whisky Chapter 13 – 49%

Hints of smoke on the nose, with a following of spice and dark chocolate. A creamy texture on the palate, with notes of vanilla and toffee blending with fruits to create a long, dry finish.

English Whisky Founders Private Cellar (Cask 0859) – 60.8%

Dark berry notes on the nose with a slight kick of cinnamon lingering on the finish. Black pepper flavours on the palate, moving to a creamy texture of fudge and vanilla. The spice returns for a long, dry finish.

Longmorn 12 Year Old (Gordon & MacPhail) – 40%

Lots of fruit on the nose with some oak aromas following. Plenty of citrus and orange flavours dominate the palate, creating a long, juicy finish that lasts for a while.

Atholl Brose – 35%

Light and fresh on the nose with a mix of ginger and citrus that doesn’t dominate and overpower too much. A light ginger flavour to begin, it develops nicely with an instant warming. Sweet ginger near the end as the soft velvet texture coats your mouth.

William Grants & Sons
William Grants & Sons

Girvan Patent Still Single Grain 25yr – 42%

Light aroma on the nose of caramelised fruits, with good doses of toffee, honey and rich vanilla on the palate as they blend well to create a lingering dram.

Hakushu 12yr – 43.5%

Fresh nose of green fruit with a whisp of smoke lingering. Sweetness on the palate, with pear dominating and the soft smoke creating a dry texture.

Hibiki 12yr – 43%

Lots of pineapple and plum aromas blending nicely on the nose and following through onto the palate to create a soft and sweet flavour. A little spice on the end.

Auchentoshan 18yr – 43%

Bold notes of vanilla and spice on the nose with hints of sweet ginger following. Roasted nuts and vanilla flavours are present on the palate, creating a long, not-wanting-to-end finish.

Aberlour 16yr – 43%

Dry but rich on the nose with spice and raisins dominating. Quite sweet on the palate with a soft plum and long oak finish.

Rock Town Brandon’s Small Batch Gin – 46%

Very fresh with lots of citrus on the nose. Plenty of juniper, with subtle spice wandering around. A little dry on the palate, with coriander noticeable, and angelica following. A kick of spice to finish a long offering.

Rock Town Arkansas Young Bourbon – 46%

Aromas of fresh corn on the nose, with some dried fruits and spices present on the palate. A little hint of oak on the long, long finish.

Laphroaig Quarter Cask – 48%

Butter, toffee and raisin are present on the nose, surrounded by scented oil. A sweet start on the palate, but a huge kick of heat with iodine and fruit coming into play. A shorter finish than what you expect.

Laphroaig 18yr – 48%

Toffee nose with hints of cereal and spice leads to a warm yet rounded flavour of smoke and liquorice on the palate. A long, rich toffee finish.

Cardhu 12yr – 40%

Sweet, rich aromas of white fruit on the nose. Well-rounded on the palate, with a good dose of smooth peat and whispers of smoke on this long dram.

Some fantastic whiskies on offer yet again at the Manchester leg of the show. There’s some on the list above that I probably will never get round to trying again so to attend a show like this can really throw towards you some real gems. Highlights for me include Rock Town Arkansas Young Bourbon, Auchentoshan 18yr, Hakushu 12yr and English Whisky Founders Private Cellar (Cask 0859).
If you like whisky, then you will love attending these festivals. If you’re not a lover, you can be pointed into the direction of some of the more introductory whiskies on offer in the world. This is the best thing about this category – love it or hate it, there will always be something to convert or possibly soften your initial thought.


© 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.

Compass Box

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Everyone always loves something a bit special. Gift boxes, limited editions, a good deal – all a worthy reason to treat yourself. If you’re a lover of whisky, you may have come across a relatively new, yet established company named Compass Box. This is a company I have personally known about since the beginning of my career, but only really came to venture towards each expression in the past two years. Now though, I look forward to trying anything that these guys spring up on us all.

So who are Compass Box?

An American named John Glaser entered the world of Scottish whisky, after spending many a year in the wine trade. After working with one of the biggest brands in the world, Johnnie Walker, in 2000, he created what we know today – Compass Box Whisky Company. The reason? John wanted to create a great Scottish whisky that can be approachable to a wide range of consumers.  With this, the company buy individual casks and focus on creating a craftsman-like boutique product. None of their bottlings are chill-filtered and no colouring is added, and to round it off, they are all married exclusively in American oak.

Now I’ve been lucky enough to try the majority of the Compass Box range through various events and festivals, so below, I give to you my tasting notes on each –

Great King Street – 43%

Named after the street in Edinburgh where Compass Box is registered, it’s made combining 3 malt whiskies (two Northern Highland one Speyside) and 1 single grain whisky (Lowland) in never-before-used French oak barrels and American oak barrels. On the nose, a heavy scent of vanilla, citrus and some dried fruits with a sweet aroma hitting overall. As it moves onto your palate, fruity flavours gently hit your tongue which develops into vanilla, raisin and citrus. A creamy whisky that gives a long after-taste with a hint of spice.

Great King Street Glasgow Blend – 43%

Released in 2014. Soft honey and rose on the nose with smoke and strawberry jam combining well, followed with an underlining sweetness. Immediate fudge sweetness followed by a toffee smoke on the palate, plenty of light peat elements and hints of dry spice.Kicks of oak, bold, fresh peat creating a slightly dry citrus finish.

compass boxOak Cross – 43%

A Highland single malt whisky that’s vatted with a mix of 3 different malts for 12 months. The cask itself is a combination of French and American oak barrels, hence the name ‘Oak Cross’. On the nose it’s very light and sweet with a slight peat aroma emanating. The sweetness returns to the palate with vanilla notes making their way as well. A brief hit on the throat which gives a slow after-taste.

Spice Tree – 46%

Again another vatted malt from 3 single malts for a period of 24 months. The same cask process as ‘Oak Cross’ are used however they are burnt on the inside. Fruit aromas on the nose with a rich, spicy flavour igniting the palate that evolves into a lively well-rounded after-taste.

Peat Monster – 46%

3 single malts (two Isles and a Speyside) are vatted together in American oak casks to produce a soft, peaty aroma on the nose. Hints of smoke arise as the palate senses a light, sweet whisky with a slight spice and floral hints which goes into a lingering smoky finish. Not as harsh as expected!

Hedonism – 43%

First whisky to be created by Compass Box, a combination of grain whiskies in American casks that lasts for 20 years. A 100% grain whisky, rich flavours of coconut, toffee and vanilla create a creamy sensation on both the nose and palate, with the hints of grain in the background. A slight spicy end that gives a tingle towards the after-taste.

Orangerie – 40%

An infusion of Scotch whisky and the natural ingredients of orange peel and spices for a period of 3 weeks, this unique spirit can’t be named as a Scotch whisky due to its involvement of different ingredients. On the nose it gives a short orange aroma with a smooth orange, vanilla and subtle spice taste on the palate that balance well to create a clean, fresh feeling.

Flaming Heart – 48.9%

Combined peaty smokiness with the richness of French oak aging. A bold nose of smoke and peat but mellows quickly. A good combination of citrus and vanilla on the palate with a dry spice and smoke ending. Unfortunately discontinued.

The Entertainer –

Light on the nose with peat aromas noticeable and a whisp of soft corn. Rather sharp on the palate however with a slight kick of spice with makes your mouth water every time.

Eleuthera – 48.9%

Compass Box very first vatted malt, it combined 15yr malt whisky from the village of Brora with 12 yr malt from the village of Port Askaig. Slight pear aroma on the nose with a subtle floral scent following. Soft on the palate with a smooth offering of smoke which develops into a slight bitter end. Unfortunately discontinued.

Asyla – 40%

The most awarded bottle in the range. A light nose with soft aromas of green apple. Very smooth once on the palate but develops into a lingering spice that warms the apple flavours. Long.

If you ever have the chance to try something new, or indeed come across Compass Box in your bar, you will find an expression to suit your taste. The beauty of Compass Box is that they have given vision form a consumer’s point of view, what people actually want from whisky. And they’ve done it well. Grab a dram today.

© 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.