Good whiskies to drink – Good places to drink them


Balvenie DCS compendium

Now on the way to the airport to visit Balvenie there’s a moment to reflect on the DCS compendium launched last night at the Wallace Collection in London.

Firstly, the whiskies are wonderful and show through their differing ages and styles a fabulous story whilst keeping that distillery heart of honey, lemon and flowers.


DCS compendium

Beyond the whiskies themselves, there is the concept. 5 whiskies released every year for 5 years. All single casks from different decades. A fabulous journey through the years, flavours and knowledge of David Stewart, the Malt Master at Balvenie. The longest serving malt master in Scotch whisky history at 53 years in the job!

Launched with aplomb, comedy and history it was an event like no other from Balvenie and they did a good job, lets hope they do more!

Details of the whiskies to come shortly…

Richard Paterson Celebrates 45 year Milestone

Richard Paterson

Richard Paterson

Richard Paterson  celebrates 45 years in the whisky industry. Whyte & Mackay put out this press release this morning, and I just happened to be reading a fabulous book which I think every whisky drinker would enjoy. Goodness Nose by Richard Paterson and Gavin D. Smith. Easily found on Amazon, it’s very entertaining. Well worth making the time for.



From Whyte & Mackay:

Richard’s unwavering dedication to whisky began when he followed his Grandfather and Father into the industry.Richard honed his craft at A. Gillies & Company Whisky Blenders & Brokers where he worked as a production assistant, learning the art of whisky distilling and blending. He then joined Whyte & Mackay, becoming their Master Distiller at the age of just 26.

Over the last 45 years his innate ability to assess and taste whisky has earned him the nickname of ‘The Nose’.  He has a reputation as both an exceptional whisky creator and an illustrious showman.  He is loved by whisky fans the world over and has been responsible for creating some of the world’s most iconic whiskies such as The Dalmore Trinitas, the Mackinlay’s Shackleton blend and of course Whyte & Mackay Blended Scotch.

Bryan Donaghey CEO of Whyte & Mackay said: “Richard’s contribution to Whyte & Mackay and indeed the whisky industry as a whole over the last 45 years has been phenomenal. His commitment and passion never ceases to amaze me and I can confidently say, on behalf of the team at Whyte & Mackay, the industry and of course all of the whisky aficionados out there , that we all look forward to working with him for many years to come.’

Jameson and beer, a good combination: Caskmates



Jameson has announced the global release of Jameson Caskmates. it’s been Created at Midleton  in collaboration with micro-brewer, Franciscan Well Brewery in Cork.

In 2013, Jameson Master Distiller, Brian Nation and Master of Whiskey Science, Dave Quinn, first met Franciscan Well Founder and Head Brewer, Shane Long, in a Cork bar. They agreed to loan some Jameson casks to the brewery to discover their influence on Irish stout and when the stout-seasoned barrels were returned to the Midleton Distillery, Dave Quinn re-filled them with Jameson Irish whiskey. Over time, the maturation resulted in a new taste sensation: Jameson Caskmates.

Dave Quinn and Shane Long in London extolling the virtues of Caskmates ©Colin Hampden-White

Dave Quinn Master of Whiskey Science and Shane Long of Franciscan Well Brewery, in London extolling the virtues of Caskmates ©Colin Hampden-White

The product of curiosity, collaboration and innovation, Jameson Caskmates retains the triple-distilled smoothness of Jameson Original, while adopting additional notes of coffee, cocoa, butterscotch and gentle hints of hops.

Dave Quinn, Master of Whiskey Science at the Midleton Distillery, says: “When the stout-seasoned Jameson barrels arrived back at Midleton from Franciscan Well, curiosity got the better of us and we experimented by maturing our Jameson Irish whiskey in the casks. We found that after around six months, the perfect balance of flavor was achieved and we couldn’t be happier with the results”.

Nose: There is certainly a core aroma which is Jameson, so orchard fruits and sweetness, but there is less nose prickle. The whiskey is smoother and more rounded. Spices appear, deepening from herbaceous to nutty aromas and a little chocolate. In the background the hops can just be sensed.

Taste: initial sweet mouth coating typical of the Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey. Smooth, still fruity and distinctly Jameson’s with a subtle touch of hops and cocoa beans. Some marzipan and charred oak add to the complexity. The hops return at the back of the palate.

Finish: Sweet with chocolate and butterscotch with a medium length.

There are other experiments being carried out in collaboration with the brewery, so there should be some interesting whiskies arriving later.

Bottled at 40% ABV, Jameson Caskmates is available from September 2015 in eight markets including the USA, South Africa and Ireland, at the RRP of €38.99, $29.99 or local equivalent, supported by global ATL and BTL campaigns, POS and merchandising support tools.

For some serious fun, don’t miss this next year

Jastrebia Gora Whisky Festival

Jastrebia Gora Whisky Festival

There are quite a few whisky festivals around the world. There are few which break from the norm of a big hall or hotel with stalls or maybe a few proper stands. The Whisky Show in London and Dramboree are the two best UK events I can think off.

There is now a serious contender in play and it’s based in Poland. Up on the north coast on the Baltic Sea, Jastrzębia Góraseems an unlikely place for a whisky festival. However about six years ago in this little seaside town Andre Cubic had a brilliant idea; let’s build a whisky house with over 1000 whiskies behind the bar! Dom Whisky was born in Jastrzębia Góra. Six years on and it is now having its 2nd festival.




More on the festival in a certain  publication.  For now I’ll simply say with lots of outdoor space, bands, dancing, bucking broncos, restaurants, a beautiful beach 2 mins walk away with the usual array of masterclasses from top people like Charlie Maclean, John Quin, James Buntin, Hamish Torrie and Rob Allanson. and and goes on until 11pm then this is for you.




With flights to Gdańsk and then only an hours drive away it’s not difficult to get to.

This is a festival which should certainly be on your go to list.

I liked this so much I bought three of them!

BenRiach 1999 ©Colin Hampden-White

BenRiach 1999 ©Colin Hampden-White

Benriach 1999 Cask 9424 15yr old bottled June 2014 Virgin Oak Hogshead 329 bottles, Cask Strength 55.8% Natural colour, non chill filtered.

Specially selected and bottled to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Polish accession to NATO

This whisky is what I would call session whisky. I just kept wanting to come back for more. It is beautifully balanced with big toffee and confectioned fruit notes. Highs of lemon and orange zest to keep the palate clean, but with lots of depth from dried fruits such as apricots and tangerines crossed with fresh apples and pears. Honey comes through on the palate with floral notes, which are rich rather than like hand cream and there is a little soft spice to boot, especially on the finish. not a huge finish, which keeps you wanting more.

Simply lovely, not too complicated, this isn’t an armchair and cigar whisky, but a very good all evening one.

Obviously not the easiest whisky to get a hold of, but this is the retailers site in Poland. 469 zl is about £78

So many whiskies so little space

As a whisky writer I am very fortunate to be able to taste many different whiskies from all over the world. Not all good, some spectacular. The Spectacular ones end to make it into print, in either Whisky quarterlyWhisky in Poland, or one of the other magazines I write for such as LUX or the Partner. However this leaves an awful lot of whiskies which are still very good, and don’t get a mention which seems hardly fair.

This brings me to revive this blog I set up a few years ago. I’m not going to give lengthy tasting notes, just brief ones along with my general musings on the quality and style of the whisky and why I think they would be good to buy. As always these are my opinions and as we all have different palates, not a definitive guide! But I hope people find them interesting and even slightly helpful in deciding what to buy.

There may be a few musings on trips, events, shows and general fun where whisky has been involved.

Whisky Glasses ©Colin Hampden-White

Whisky Glasses ©Colin Hampden-White


A rare Springbank 21 year old

A rare Springbank 21 year old, single cask, cask strength, distillery bottling of 150 bottles from a Bourbon hogshead, is about to come on the market. Distilled in 1992 and bottled in 2013 at 51.9% from cask 248 it even has a funky label by Scottish artist Chris Watson

Springbank 21 yr old single cask

Springbank 21 yr old single cask


Fine peat and smoke, not too powerful so it doesn’t interfere with the other aromas. Next, there is a sweetness from cereal with a touch of honeysuckle. A tiny amount of vanilla and some sweet hazelnut.


The cereal notes are joined by more flowers and a dry oakiness which compliments the peat and smoke and gives some grip at the sides. The centre is full of exotic fruits running along different spectrums from lemon citrus to a touch of sweet figs.  The fruit is fresh, rather than dried, which gives the whole whisky a lift, again with touches of vanilla but subtle touches. With the addition of a little water the floral notes are more prevalent and the citrus notes come to the fore, but it reduces the overall depth of flavour so it’s better without water.

Springbank 21 Yr old single cask ©Colin Hampden-White

Springbank 21 Yr old single cask ©Colin Hampden-White


Quite long with dry oakiness but not in a harsh or acrid way at all.  Then the sweet centre returns for a moment before the oak integrates again with the peat and smoke. Some nutty flavours right at the end.


This is clearly a complex whisky that has some age to it, but there are elements which belie that age and enhance the experience, such as the fresh fruits. It’s not just a whisky to contemplate, but to purely enjoy.  It’s very easy to drink so don’t invite too many friends to join you!

It is intense enough to hold up to food and a good cigar, has enough strength for those who like their whisky on the rocks, but I would most happily drink it by itself and by myself. Find your own bottle.

This will be on sale exclusively with Farr Vintners very soon at £180 a bottle in bond, and will sell out in a flash:

Thumbs up from the tasting team at Farr Vintners Springbank 21 Yr old single cask ©Colin Hampden-White

Thumbs up from the tasting team at Farr Vintners Springbank 21 Yr old single cask ©Colin Hampden-White