Cladach – Diageo Special Releases 2018 #10

It’s time to reveal the final bottle of the Diageo Special Releases 2018 Cladach .

What is Cladach


For the second year in a row, Diageo have dropped a secret bottle into the line-up, only revealing it on the day of the launch party. It’s a blended Maltwhisky.

While last year’s Collectivum XXVIII was a blend from all of Diageo’s operating Maltwhisky distilleries, Cladach is a bit more selective. The name means ‘coastline’ in gaelic and it was created using whisky from Diageo’s coastal distilleries: Inchgower , Clynelish , Talisker , Oban , Caol Ila and Lagavulin...

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South African Gin and Tonic

So, you love gin. We know how you feel – we’re partial to a G&T too. Or a Negroni, or a Martini…

And for gin lovers, the last 18 months have been fantastic – never before has the UK seen such a colossal variety of carefully crafted, tasty, often boutique-made gin. There is something, indeed, to suit every palate.

But what if we’re missing a trick? What if there’s more out there than the usual botanical blends (great though they are) and fruity Beefeater infusions ? What happens if you take all your botanicals from one particularly rich and diverse...

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Diageo Special Releases 2018 – First Look

This year’s Diageo Special Releases have been a bundle of surprises. First, they were announced months earlier than usual , popping up in april in an attempt to beat the annual internet leaks, and now we get to tell you about them a couple of weeks earlier than expected.


There is still one gap in the line-up – there are ten whiskies on the list year, but the tenth is staying a secret until 12 september, the day before they hit the street. We’ll be back then with more details of the final dram – and prices for the whole...

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Fettercairn – the relaunch

Fettercairn isn’t a well-known whisky. One of Whyte & Mackay’s single malts – along with Dalmore , Jura , Tamnavulin and Invergordon – it’s not received much love from the owners over the past few years. However, Whyte and Mackay has been doing some sprucing up of its whiskies: first Tamnavulin got its first official release in years – Tamnavulin Double Cask – then the Jura range had a complete makeover. Each time, I’ve asked whether it’s Fettercairn’s turn yet. The answer, as of this week, is yes – please welcome the new Fettercairn 12 Year Old .

Fettercairn Village...


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What food goes with vermouth?


[It’s Vermouth Month , and we’ve asked food and wine pairing expert Fiona Beckett to give us her thoughts on what we should be eating when drinking vermouth]

Vermouth has been the big drinks craze of 2018 so far – but if you want to take your enjoyment to the next level you should try it with food. Happily with its relatively modest alcohol content – like sherry, it’s often not much higher than a still wine – it’s a flexible partner for all kinds of dishes, as good a palate-sharpening aperitif as it is a stomach-settling digestif at the end...

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New Mortlach Range: a new Flora Fauna?

The past four years have been interesting for Mortlach . Once a little-known Speysider with a single official bottling and occasional independent releases, it was a whisky fan’s whisky. But back in early 2014, the Mortlach Flora & Fauna 16 Year Old disappeared and a new Mortlach range appeared. Fans were dismajed. But now it’s time for some new Mortlachs – the powers that be were listening.

The entire range is being redone. The new whiskies will be 12, 16 and 20 years old, with rough price points of £50, £80 and £200 respectively – and they’ll be 70cl bottles....

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Hendrick’s Orbium – the end of gin and tonic?

Gin and tonic saves lives. Or at least it did, back when malaria was rife and the powers that be needed to get quinine – one of the most effective anti-malarial substances on the planet – into the populace. Quinine, found in the bark of the cinchona (quina-quina) tree, is notoriously bitter, and it was only by instructing soldiers to mix it with soda water, sugar and gin that the British government could get troops stationed in India to stomach their medicine.


Cinchona bark. Tasty.

Mixing quinine with alcohol wasn’t, however, a British invention (although we do excel in making...

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Foursquare 2005 – ISC Supreme Champion Spirit 2018

Rum is often seen as a party drink. Drunk in cocktails, over ice, from a coconut, with Coke, on fire, with a slice of lime, from a plastic cup or while wearing a silly hat. And on the one hand, it is that: it’s fun and unlike a lot of fine spirits the producers are mostly happy with the image. But, for years we’ve also had rums hiding in the wings that are worth of competing with the finest spirits in the world. Last night, they took a firm step into the limelight – for the first time, a rum...

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Happy Daiquiri Day!

Happy Daiquiri Day! The humble Daiquiri is a classic rum cocktail and majbe the simplest one to make at home. But there’s much more to it than there might seem…

What is a Daiquiri?

At its core, a Daiquiri is a rum sour – a mix of rum, lime juice and sugar. Traditionally, you want a light, Cuban style rum and a mix of sweet and sour that will amplify its flavour rather than swamp it. The exact proportions are all down to the maker of the cocktail, and bartenders all have their own opinions – last time I put...

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Fruity whisky – The Whisky Agency and The Whisky Exchange

Our latest exclusive whisky releases are here! This time it’s a showcase of one our favourite styles of whisky: the fruit bomb. We’ve teamed up with German indie bottler The Whisky Agency to bring you a pair of fruity drams: one from Bowmore and one from an anonymous Irish distillery.

Bowmore 1998, 19 year old

While Bowmore isn’t that well-known for its fruity drams these days, step back a few decades and you’ve got stacks of fruity whisky. Bowmore from the 1960s is, quite rightly, the most famous, but more recent vintages have also seen the distillery start to reclaim its...

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World Cup Drinking – it’s coming home?

Football. The beautiful game. Or so I am told. I know nothing about sport, and the current World Cup fever has so far passed me by. However, I seem to be winning The Whisky Exchange HQ’s World Cup results prediction pool, and all of a sudden it’s become important to me how the competition turns out. And also, hidden deep beneath my cynical exterior is a modicum of national pride, and the potential of an England team reaching the World Cup final might even inspire me to watch a whole match. If I do, I will no doubt need some...

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New Signatory Glenlivets – decades apart

We like working with Signatory Vintage . They’re well-known for having frankly ridiculous warehouses, packed with some of the best whisky in Scotland, and we’re always happy when they let us have a look at what they have maturing.

Our latest selections from their treasure trove are a pair of whiskies that couldn’t be more different, but at the same time share a common source – they’re both from Glenlivet: Signatory Glenlivet 1981 36 Years Old and Signatory Glenlivet 2007 11 Years Old .

Despite there being 26 years between the whiskies, Glenlivet didn’t change much between the two days...

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Competitive Picnicking – celebrate National Picnic Week

It’s National Picnic Week and with the weekend looking sunny, it’s time to grab a blanket, some bottles and a sandwich or three, and head into the great outdoors. Caroline has some tips for how to make sure your picnic is best, forged in the fires of the UK’s most competitive al fresco dining experience: the opera at Glyndebourne

The immensely talented musician Richard Stilgoe has a cuttingly brilliant poem about Glyndebourne, which begins:

We’re going to Glyndebourne – my dear what a treat

With Giles’ fiancée (who’s terribly sweet

And frightfully cultured – she’s seen Hedda Gabler

And Five...

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Sherry casks part 4: what about soleras?

[This is the continuation of an old series. Here are the previous instalments if you’d like to catch up – What was a sherry cask , What is a sherry cask and What goes into a sherry cask ]

What is a solera?

The solera system is at the heart of the sherry-ageing process. It is, simply put, a method of continuously blending younger and older sherries to ensure a consistent character over the years.


The solera system of maturation – confusingly, the last tier of the solera is also called the solera. Picture courtesy of SherryNotes

A solera can...

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The Negroni – a drink for World Gin Day

It’s that time of year again: World Gin Day is almost upon us. I’m a big fan already (any excuse to drink gin is a good thing, in my opinion) but this year things are being kicked up to the next level – not only is the  World Gin Day London  festival starting imminently and continuing until Sunday, but it’s also Negroni week. There’s only one thing I like more than an excuse to drink some gin: an excuse to drink a Negroni.

What is a Negroni?


‘My favourite combination of alcohol, alcohol and alcohol.’ –Adrian Barnett. Lapsed whisky blogger...

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Islay Festival woes – the queues

This week is the Islay Festival of Music and Malt , aka Feis Ile. For eight days, the small, southern Hebridean island doubles its population with an influx of people from around the world, almost all of them whisky fans. Compared to the rest of the year, the island gets crowded – you will occasionally see another car on the road, you can’t always get a table in the pub and the Co-op runs out of avocados much faster than normal.

One of the tell-tale signs of having become a jaded whisky geek is the desire to avoid the island...

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Sharing whisky – it’s better with friends

As someone who spends a lot of time writing tasting notes for whisky on his own, I sometimes forget that the true joy of a dram is sharing it with someone. Father’s Day is just around the corner and in the office, we’ve spent the past few weeks talking about which whiskies we’d share with our dads. Just the thing to give me a kick and remind me to share the whisky love, and not just with my dad.

When it comes to sharing a whisky or three, you have lots of options. While ‘sharing a dram’ almost always used...

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Croftengea 2008 – exclusive to The Whisky Exchange

Announcing our latest Whisky Exchange exclusive – a rare chance to try one of Loch Lomond’s wide range of single malts that don’t usually see the light of day as single malts. Introducing our brand new Croftengea 2008 .

Croftengea 2008, 9 Years Old, 54.8% ABV


Here’s what I thought of it:

Nose : Chocolate, liquorice and candied lemon start proceedings, with a rich background of earthy peat smoke. A sharp stewed apple fruitiness dominates the centre, dusted with sugar and drizzled with warm tar and TCP.

Palate : Rich smoke rolls around the mouth: a bonfire of burning peats,...

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New World Wine vs Old World Wine

Skip back a generation and the term ‘New World wine’ didn’t mean much to UK wine drinkers. After all, the best stuff just came from France, didn’t it?


So, what is New World wine? It’s wine from the big countries and regions outside Europe, with the three big hitters being  Australia , New Zealand and California . They announced their arrival on these shores in the early 1990s with a new style – big, full-flavoured wines bursting with fruit. The labels told you plenty about the contents, the wines didn’t need decanting first and they were delicious drunk on their...

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How to drink: Cognac

With The Cognac Show starting tomorrow, there’s one final step in my Cognac education I need to share: how to drink the stuff…

Fortunately, I’ve had expert tuition from Whisky Exchange buyer Dawn Davies MW and Cognac consultant, BNIC-accredited educator and all-round boiled-wine expert Ed Bates.

On its own

If you’re coming from a whisky background, this will seem fairly familiar: you should drink your Cognac from a tasting glass at room temperature. Our classic Whisky Exchange tasting glass (aka the Bugatti Kelch) is perfect for the job, and will be the glass that guests to The Cognac Show will...

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