Part of Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection, the Thomas H Handy Sazerac rye whiskey (2011 edition) was recently voted as the best whiskey in the world by Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible. At 66.2%, this is a strong whiskey, and full of flavour!

Thomas H Handy Sazerac Rye Whiskey

At first, the Thomas H Handy Sazerac tastes like a big bourbon. But, then, on the finish, the rye comes through. This is a whiskey with powerful sweet and spicy kick!

I have a feeling that we were lucky enough to get the last bottle, as it’s no longer in stock at The Whisky Exchange where we bought it last week! If you missed out, thankfully the distillery is working on the next release, which will be available later this year :)

Snow! Yes, the first few flakes started falling on Friday night and fell on and off throughout the weekend. The temperatures are below zero and it’s freezing. Luckily we have whisky stocks to keep us going :)

Friday: Bowmore Small Batch Reserve

Bowmore Small Batch reserve

I spotted this on special when I was doing our weekly Tesco shop and popped it in with the other groceries to try. It’s a light and delicate whisky, with a sweetness to it from being matured in Bourbon casks.

Taste it for yourself! Buy Bowmore Small Batch Reserve: Tesco

Saturday: Bowmore Small Batch Reserve vs Bowmore Legend

Bowmore

We were curious how the Bowmore Small Batch Reserve compared to the Bowmore Legend that we had on our shelf, so decided to do a comparison between the two on Friday evening.

Unfortunately, there was no comparison… the Small Batch Reserve is a lovely whisky, but it pales (literally as well as figuratively!) when tasted alongside the Legend, which has a depth of flavour that the Small Batch Reserve just can’t match.

Taste it for yourself! Buy Bowmore Legend: The Whisky Exchange | Master Of Malt

Sunday: Old Pulteney

Old Pulteney

Old Pulteney single malt is a perennial favourite of ours, which never disappoints.

Taste it for yourself! Buy Old Pulteney: The Whisky Exchange | Master Of Malt

Well, now, this was quite a weekend… we bagged our first Munro (translation: we walked up a Scottish mountain that is over 3000ft high)! I felt like I had conquered Everest, standing on the summit of Ben Lomond in the snow, unable to see anything because of the heavy cloud! I think my legs are finally starting to speak to me again (I’ve been nursing them back to health with whisky, of course) :)

Friday: Balvenie Signature 12 Year Old

Balvenie Signature

A lovely and smooth mellow whisky to start off the weekend, and ease us into the early start we had to make on Saturday for the walk up the mountain. This is Balvenie‘s staple whisky, and has a vanilla sweetness to it from being matured in sherry and bourbon casks.

Taste it for yourself! Buy Balvenie: The Whisky Exchange | Master Of Malt | The Whisky Barrel

Saturday: Edradour 10 Year Old

Edradour

After being in the Highlands all day, we wanted a Highland whisky to celebrate our ascent of Ben Lomond. Unfortunately, we realised that the Highland section of our whisky shelf needs some more bottles added to it, and all we had was Edradour – always an excellent choice, of course, just not very local to Ben Lomond! Again, this is quite a sweet whisky, with some lovely fruity spiciness too.

Taste it for yourself! Buy Edradour: The Whisky Exchange | Master Of Malt | The Whisky Barrel

Sunday: Jura Origin 10 Year Old

Jura Origin

Jura really do make some tasty whiskies. This one is only very slightly peaty, and has a delicious subtle brininess to it.

Taste it for yourself! Buy Jura: The Whisky Exchange | Master Of Malt | The Whisky Barrel

You know the phrase four seasons in one day? Well, in Scotland, it’s more like four seasons in one hour! This was a pretty mixed bag of a weekend: sunshine, driving rain, gale force wind, and I’m pretty sure I felt some sleet hitting my cheeks as we were out walking on Saturday…. Combine this with darkness settling in by about 4:30pm, and you have the perfect conditions for hibernating with whisky!

Friday: Glenkinchie 12 Year Old

Glenkinchie

We live a couple of barley fields away from Glenkinchie. I love having a distillery pretty much on my doorstep :) This is a lovely mellow whisky, a perfect introduction to the weekend. This isn’t an obvious whisky – no strong peaty slap in the face here! Instead, like the East Lothian countryside from which it comes, this is a gentle whisky, one that reveals itself more and more as you sit and relax with it.

Taste it for yourself! Buy Glenkinchie: The Whisky Exchange | Master Of Malt | The Whisky Barrel

Saturday: Knob Creek And Maker’s Mark

Knob Creek And Maker's Mark

This was a sad night, as we realised that our bottles of Knob Creek and Maker’s Mark only contained a single dram each. So, we decided to split them between us and do two half-drams each! These are both such good bourbons. I do find them quite similar to each other, but can never choose between them so we always end up with bottles of both! Our bourbon section is looking a tad depleted now, though, so we’ll need to go whisky shopping this week to stock up. Sigh, it’s such a hard life :)

Taste it for yourself! Buy Knob Creek: The Whisky Exchange | Master Of Malt & Maker’s Mark: The Whisky Exchange | Master Of Malt

Sunday: Bruichladdich 18 Year Old

Bruichladdich

A fabulous strong whisky to finish off the weekend! Bruichladdich make some good stuff, and this 18 year old is just that little bit more special.

Taste it for yourself! Buy Bruichladdich: The Whisky Exchange | Master Of Malt | The Whisky Barrel

There was a dull grey cloud (and accompanying rain) over Scotland for much of last week, but it lifted over the weekend, producing two fresh autumn days of glorious sunshine and clear blue skies. We took advantage of the beautiful weather to go for a couple of long walks in the nearby hills, returning home rosy cheeked and in need of a warming dram (don’t let the sun fool you – the clearer the skies, the lower the temperature!).

Here’s what we enjoyed:

Friday: Auchentoshan Three Wood

Auchentoshan Three Wood

The is a beautiful bronze coloured Lowland whisky, that is finished in three different casks – bourbon, Oloroso, and Pedro Ximinez. For more on the distillery, you can read our Auchentoshan distillery profile and our blog post about our distillery tour.

Taste it for yourself! Buy Auchentoshan Three Wood: The Whisky Exchange | Master Of Malt

Saturday: Ardbeg Uigeadail

Ardbeg Uigeadail

My favourite review of this whisky described it as “bacon and Niknaks”! A brilliant powerful smoky and sweet cask-strength whisky. For more on the distillery, you can read our Ardbeg distillery profile.

Taste it for yourself! Buy Ardbeg Uigeadail: The Whisky Exchange | Master Of Malt | The Whisky Barrel

Sunday: The BenRiach Arumaticus Fumosus

The BenRiach Arumaticus Fumosis

A smoky whisky finished in Jamaican rum barrels. For some more information on this magical sounding whisky, have a read of my earlier blog post on it.

Taste it for yourself! Buy The BenRiach Arumaticus Fumosus: The Whisky Exchange | Master Of Malt

‘Twas a weekend of fireworks here as our village held its annual bonfire night celebrations on Saturday. We toasted good ol’ Guy Fawkes with the following drams:

Friday: Talisker

Talisker

Talisker, from the island of Skye, is sweet, spicy, and smoky. If you like smoky whisky but find the big Islay beasties like Laphroaig a bit too much, then Talisker is probably perfect for you. This has a lot of depth for a 10 year old.

Taste it for yourself! Buy Talisker: The Whisky Exchange | Master Of Malt | The Whisky Barrel

Saturday: Jura Superstition

Jura Superstition

This is a subtle whisky, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s a lightweight. There is a lot of power in subtlety, and this whisky has that gentle strength in spades.

Taste it for yourself! Buy Jura Superstition: The Whisky Exchange | Master Of Malt | The Whisky Barrel

Sunday: Edradour Ruby Port Cask Matured

Edradour Ruby Port

This whisky gets its brilliant red colour from being matured solely in port casks. It’s quite a sweet whisky, as good as (or maybe better than?) a glass of port after dinner!

Taste it for yourself! Buy Edradour Ruby Port: Master Of Malt

Movember is upon us!

Now, before we go any further, I need to admit to an irrational dislike of the word Movember itself. There’s something about it that puts me on edge, a feeling akin to biting into tin foil when you have a filling. Suffice it to say, this makes NMovember challenging for me since there’s no escaping it for the next 30 days :)

But, I grit my teeth and persevere each year. For, not only are moustaches magnificent things, but this moustache-growing madness raises money for a very important cause – raising awareness of prostate cancer.

This year, The Whisky Exchange is supporting the Movember Foundation by donating 5% of the money they earn from whiskies purchased from their Movember Collection. Visit the page, select the moustache that best suits you, and see which whiskies match!

Given that we enjoyed three of the most powerful whiskies we have this weekend, I’m dubbing this Weekend Whisky Write-Up the Go big since you’re already at home edition!

If you want three whiskies that pack a full-on punch, you can’t do better than these:

Friday: Laphroaig Quarter Cask

Laphroaig Quarter Cask

While this whisky may initially give you a sense of soft sweetness, the intense smoky peatiness characteristic of Laphroaig comes bursting through.

Taste it for yourself! Buy Laphroaig Quarter Cask: The Whisky Exchange | Master Of Malt | The Whisky Barrel

Saturday: George T Stagg Bourbon

George T Stagg Bourbon

Bottled at more than 70%, this is an intensely flavoured bourbon from the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection!

We had the 2011 edition of this whiskey, which isn’t available any more. The 2012 edition is, though, and I’m pretty sure they just keep getting better each year.

Taste it for yourself! Buy George T Stagg: The Whisky Exchange | Master Of Malt

Sunday: Not For Wusses (Scotch Malt Whisky Society 127.21)

Not For Wusses

We finshed up the weekend with a whisky that sums up the three: The SMWS‘s Not For Wusses, a peaty Port Charlotte bottled at 65.9%. A Viking slap indeed (to quote the tasting notes), but one which is weirdly very welcome!

We tend to do most of whisky drinking over the weekends, savouring an after dinner dram on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. I’ve been wanting to keep track of which whiskies we enjoy each weekend, so I thought I’d start a weekly write-up!

Ironically, the weekend on which I decided to start this was a weekend in which only one dram was consumed…! We spent Friday night out and about in Edinburgh with friends, and despite us all enjoying whisky, we somehow managed not to sample any of Scotland’s finest drams in the capital city during our evening’s festivities. We were still feeling the effects of Friday night on Saturday evening and so had a quiet and tame night in, staring wistfully at the whiskies on our shelf but feeling that we wouldn’t be able to do them proper justice. But, come Sunday evening, we were right as rain and looking forward to a tipple!

We decided to take the first line of this article literally, and decided to have an After Dinner Dram, one of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society‘s bottlings. There were only 264 bottles of this glorious stuff available, and it appears as thought they’ve all since sold out… damn, we should have bought at least two bottles!

The After Dinner Dram, or single cask 29.114 in the Society’s numbering scheme, is from Laphroaig, was distilled in 2001 and is 10 years old. The evocative Society tasting notes describe it as follows:

First impressions are meaty and herbal, roasted lamb with thyme and rosemary, followed by a maritime freshness of a salty sea breeze and the sweetness of mint toffee. Undiluted on the palate surprisingly sweet, slightly bitter, like a good Turkish coffee whilst grilling succulent pork fillets. With water, more sweetness on the nose is added, vanilla pods and black currants as well as a flinty, chalky aroma reminding us of Edinburgh rock. The taste develops into a sweet hot chocolate with a freshness of eucalyptus leaves and the lingering ashy aftertaste from the bbq last night at the beautiful hollow by the broad bay.

The release of Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible is eagerly anticipated every year. The 2013 edition, which has just been published, contains an exciting first: both the World Whisky Of The Year and the runner up are from the same distillery!

In the coveted first place is Buffalo Trace’s Thomas H Handy’s Sazerac rye whiskey, followed closely by the William Larue Weller bourbon. The two whiskeys were in fact awarded the same number of points (97.5 out of 100), but after debating for a couple of days, Jim Murray picked the Thomas Handy over the Weller “because of its extraordinary life and balance on the palate and its uncanny ability to just keep working on full alert for the longest imaginable time”.

Both whiskeys are very strong – 64.3% ABV and 66.75% ABV respectively – but Jim Murray has recommended drinking each neat without any water or ice to ensure maximum flavour and aroma.

Third place, as well as the title of Scotch Whisky Of The Year went to Ballantine’s 17 Year Old Blended Scotch, while Ardbeg Day walked away with Scotch Single Malt Of The Year, and Redbreast Aged 12 Years Cask Strength received the Irish Whiskey Of The Year award.

Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2013 can be purchased from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.