Discovering the world of golden spirits. The latest whisky news and tasting notes from a Belgian whisky geek and SMWS member.

The Whisky Mercenary The Nameless One

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The Whisky Mercenary presents The Nameless One

Mysterious and nameless soft-hearted mercenary

  • The Whisky Mercenary presents The Nameless One
  • Unknown distillery
  • 18yo
  • 46.8% ABV
  • distilled 1995 - bottled 2014
  • ex-sherry cask
Belgium's The Whisky Mercenary released at least 7 bottlings in 2014. Most are well known distilleries (think Clynelish, Ledaig and Littlemill). One of his bottlings however came from an unknown cask. Some details were still legible on the sherry cask, alas for the distillery name. It's no real surprise that a cask shrouded in such mystery would be baptised "The Nameless One".

The label artwork from illustrator Stieven for the standard bottlings is stunning, but with this label he surpassed himself. Imho, he signed up for the coolest label of 2014.
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News: Glenmorangie Tusail

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Resurrection of a lost barley variety

Glenmorangie Tusail

Luxury brands concern LVMH (Luis Vuitton - Moët Hennessy) lined up a new Glenmorangie expression for the brand's Private Edition collection. Glenmorangie Tùsail will launch globally within the next few days.

Tùsail  joins the ranks together with the Sonnalta PX, Finealta, Companta and a few other whiskies in the Private Edition range. The whisky is made with floor malted Maris Otter barley, a barley variety fallen out of grace.
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The Whisky Mercenary Littlemill 1992

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Littlemill 1992 bottled by The Whisky Mercenary

Paradise for hire

  • Littlemill 1992 bottled by The Whisky Mercenary
  • Littlemill distillery
  • 21yo
  • 52.9% ABV
  • Distilled 1992 - bottled 2014
  • Ex-bourbon cask

Littlemill was a distillery on the border of the Lowlands and the Highlands in Bowling. The distillery (or what's left of it) is owned by Loch Lomond Distillery and came to a sad end in 1994 with the bankruptcy of its former owner and the dismantlement in 1997. And yet it was not enough, the remnants of the distillery were destroyed in a fire in 2004. Definitely end of story for the Queen of the Lowlands.

Jürgen Vromans, also known as The Whisky Mercenary, is an independent bottler from Belgium. The guy has a nose for affordable and quality bottlings (a few Clynelish from the sacred year 1997 and a 1976 Bunnahabhain amongst them). In April 2014 The Mercenary returned with an unknown 18yo Speysider and this 1992 gem from the bemoaned Littlemill.
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News: Rock Oyster from Douglas Laing

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Increasing the family size
Rock Oyster
The Douglas Laing family needs to add a new seat to their dining table. That beardy fisherman Big Peat accepted a wee Scallywag and a Timorous Beastie as family members in the line of Vatted Malts. This time he might be facing some serious competition when holding an oyster party. Meet Rock Oyster, another small batch bottling created using the finest maritime malts from Islay, Jura, Orkney and Arran.
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Chapter 7 Allt-a-Bhainne 1995 & Glen Keith 1997

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Two Spey or too Spey?
The Swiss Chapter 7 is a new independent bottler storming the European market with single cask whiskies from Scotland. And it seems they are specialising in whiskies matured in ex-bourbon casks from Speyside region.

Chapter 7 honours its roots with the bottle and packaging design. The black bottles with excellent typography and minimal design - in fact, the typography is the design - hint to the Swiss graphic design style.

At the moment we can already enjoy 4 single casks: A 1995 Allt-a-Bhainne, a 1997 Glen Keith, a 1995 Tormore and a 1996 Glentauchers. All of them are already available through Jurgen's Whiskyhuis who imports them in Belgium. Two of these already landed on my tasting table and made it to my notebook. Let's have a sniff and a taste of the Glen Keith and the Allt-a-Bhainne.


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The Last Great Malts: Aultmore

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John Dewar & Sons Ltd., one of the most respected names in the world of Scotch whisky, finished the release a range of new Speyside expressions and never-before-released single malts – the hidden gems of the Bacardi stable. This bold move initiated by Stephen Marshall four years ago, unprecedented in recent years, will introduce a treasure trove of top-shelf whiskies.

Today they introduced the complete Aultmore range. The 12 years old was already released in the fall of 2014, now it is up to the travel retail whisky, a 21 years old and the top of the line, a 25 years old.


Aultmore whisky range

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Top Ten Whiskies of 2014

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Since the end of 2014 is near, it is time to review the past year. It was a rather productive year. The Tasty Dram blog got an English brother in arms and blogging pace increased to two weekly posts: one whisky review on Sunday and a news flash on Wednesday.

Without further ado, my personal top ten drams (or rather two top five rankings) of 2014.

Peated whiskies

1. Port Charlotte PC11 Eòrna na h-alba



Port Charlotte PC11

Every year Bruichladdich presents a cask strength Port Charlotte. PC11 is the 7th release of this limited edition. The number 11 relates to the age of the whisky. Too bad that this Charlotte only roams the airports and I never fly... My review of  Port Charlotte PC11 

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Review: Bowmore Surf

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Bowmore Surf

Surf's Up!

  • Morrison Bowmore Distillers
  • NAS
  • 40% ABV
  • Travel Retail exclusive

Bowmore Surf is, or was, the entry of the Travel Retail range. It is named after the waves that constantly bash the famous warehouse n°1 and give the whisky its typical maritime Bowmore flavours. At least, that's what the marketing boys tell us.

This bottling was given the last honours on July 4, 2014 by HM Queen Elizabeth. She christened a new aircraft carrier and toasted to it with a 25yo Bowmore. Glad it was not the other way around...

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News: Oban Little Bay

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Diageo launched very discretely a new expression last week: Little Bay
  • Diageo
  • NAS
  • 43% ABV
  • Small casks
We all know Oban as a part of the Diageo Classic Malts series representing the Highlands Region with a 14 year old whisky. The lantern-shaped copper-pot stills produce 650,000 liters of whisky annually.
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Review: Laphroaig SMWS 29.157 Heidi's Holiday to Islay

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Burning Christmas trees on the beach

  • Laphroaig
  • 17 years old
  • Single cask - 675 bottles
  • Refill ex-sherry butt
  • 59,2% ABV
  • Distilled September 19 1996, bottled in 2014

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society bottles single cask whiskies since 1983. Every bottle looks the same at first sight. They are only to be distinguished by a unique code and a rather original name and tasting notes.

Laphroaig is an established name in the Society range. The Islay distillery, started by Donald and Alexander Johnston, will celebrate its bicentenary next year. Laphroaig itself already announced the return of the famous 15-years old. And I would not be too surprised if the Society would honour them with a commemorative bottling.

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A Tasty Dram, whisky news and tasting notes

Single malt and blended whisky reviews, industry news, recipes and tasting notes from around the world. Discover the world of golden spirits . A Belgian whiskey geek, beer lover and Scotch Malt Whisky Society member.