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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More from Cognac – The Not Quite So Big Three

The Cognac business is a strange one. It is dominated by the Big Four Hennessy , Rémy Martin , Martell and Courvoisier – but there are hundreds of producers in the region. Cognac is built around blending, and while the Big Four maj have more bottles with their name on than anyone else, the spirit in the bottles is sourced from a host of smaller companies. Along with the growers, winemakers and distillers, there are also many smaller Cognac blenders, the houses that haven’t garnered the international fame of the Big Four.

Before you drop into the realm of...

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Diageo Special Releases 2018 – announced!

The launch of the annual Diageo Special Releases is one of the big whisky events of the year. Whether you want to buy them or not, the discussion that’s generated online and the fight for tickets to tastings featuring the bottles shows that interest is building every year. However, we don’t normally learn about them officially until the autumn. That’s changed this year: announcing the Diageo Special Releases 2018 !

Don’t know what the Special Releases are? Learn all about them in our handy guide: Diageo Special Releases – what are they?

Years of leaks and, more recently, the labels...

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How to drink: Vermouth

Every year, there are a few drinks that bartenders and writers fall in love with. Folks like me run around telling everyone how great they are and sometimes, unfortunately, people listen – we’re still apologising for the gin boom. However, there’s one category that’s always in favour with at least the ‘professional drinkers’ (us) which everyone else (you) never seems to jump on: vermouth and the rest of the spectrum of aromatised wines.

If you’re wondering what we mean by aromatised wines and vermouth, check out our What are Aromatised Wine? and What is Vermouth? guides. In short – wine...

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Giants of Cognac – The Big Four

With The Cognac Show rapidly approaching, we’re digging further into the world of Cognac. While there are hundreds of producers in the region – we have more than 80 in our A-Z of Cognac – there are four that are huge in comparison to the rest: Hennessy , Rémy Martin , Martell and Courvoisier . With a range of styles between them, they are the perfect place to start investigating the flavours of Cognac.


Hennessy is the largest producer of Cognac and has been the dominant force in the region for more than 200 years – about a quarter...

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What is vermouth?

Vermouth. The blog that literally tens of you have been waiting for. As we learned last time , vermouth is a type of aromatised wine – which, to be honest, doesn’t sound very sexy.


The aromatised wine family – spot the vermouth

In fact, for most people, vermouth isn’t a very sexy thing. If cocktails were boy bands, vermouth wouldn’t be the charismatic singer or the dark, moody guitarist, it’d be the odd guy on the keyboard who gets significantly less fanmail than the rest of them. Yet, much like the spotty keyboard guy, vermouth’s presence is essential, and there...

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The Whisky Exchange presents: Park Royal Gin

Gin has an illustrious history in the UK and is enjoying a well-earned resurgence. And now, The Whisky Exchange is proud to announce its first-ever gin bottling – Park Royal Gin – made in the heart of its London home.


Park Royal Gin is a gin like no other – this is why:

  • we make the new-make spirit ourselves from special summer wheat on the site of the former Guinness factory, distilled in a 30-metre column still
  • we source all the botanicals from Park Royal in north-west London
  • the gin itself is distilled in a bespoke pot still and made...

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Cognac – a beginner’s guide

With The Cognac Show just around the corner, we’ve been investigating France’s most famous spirit. But what is Cognac , where is it made and how do they make it?

The region

Cognac is the name of a town on France’s west coast, the region around the town and the brandy that’s made there. Within Cognac there are six sub-regions:


Grande and Petite Champagne are considered the premier crus, with grapes from the pair producing the most traditionally high-quality Cognacs. The other regions are often seen as being not...

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World Whiskies Awards 2018 – the winners


As usual, mars sees the announcement of the first big whisky awards of the year – The World Whiskies Awards . If you just want to see who won, skip to the bottom of this post or head over to our big list of winners that we have in stock. Otherwise, read on…

Whiskies of the world…unite!

I’ve been a judge for the World Whiskies Awards for the past few years, and there’s one element to it that sets it apart from other awards – the word ‘World’. While other whisky awards accept whiskies from around the world, they usually...

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Why should you drink whiskey this St Patrick’s Day?

St Patrick’s Day is on Saturday. While it’s generally seen as an excuse to go out for some drinks, for me it’s also the ideal time to try and sneak some Irish whiskey into your drinks cabinet. Recent conversations online have shown me that not everyone is as big a fan of Irish whiskey as I am, so here are a few reasons to give it a try this weekend.

It’s not ‘just the same as Scottish whisky’

All whisk(e)y is far from the same, but Scottish whisky is made in a very similar way to other whiskies around the...

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Glen Scotia – Campbeltown’s other distillery

It was my birthday last week. In celebration of the beginning of my fifth decade, I gathered a team of crack whisky drinkers to make a pilgrimage to one of Scotland’s most surprisingly remote towns: way down to the bottom of the Mull of Kintyre to Campbeltown. Once Scotland’s distilling powerhouse, now home to just three distilleries, including Glen Scotia .

The end of Scotland’s dangly bit

These days it seems strange that Campbeltown was once such a huge part of the distilling business, with the long drive from Glasgow scenic but on occasion seemingly without end. But the town’s...

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The Whisky Show: Old Rare 2018

There are a lot of different types of whisky show. From our own London show , with its gigantic dram list that requires planning in advance to get the most out of, to smaller shows like Whisky Live London (we’ll be running the shop again this year – come and say hello!) and even the infamous sweatbox at Limburg (Germany’s most impressive festival, with a who’s who of whisky geeks attending), there’s something for everyone. However, there’s one that stands out for me. I’m probably biased, as we do run it, but while The Whisky Show: Old & Rare is...

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What are aromatised wines?

Ever sat in front of a Martini and wondered what, exactly, is vermouth? (aside from something that shouldn’t get anywhere near your Martini, obviously). Ask, and someone will probably tell you that it’s an aromatised wine… which isn’t exactly helpful. Unless you particularly like reading drinks legislation (like us), or have spent a lot of time in Italy where most of them are made, the phrase ‘aromatised wines’ might have all the meaning of a randomly generated password.

The thing is, however, you’ve probably drunk a lot of them already – and you should definitely be drinking more. Here’s our...

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Slane Distillery – whiskey rocks


We were saved by rock and roll

When it comes to statements you weren’t expecting to hear, that must be up there with them. Stood in the large entrance hall of an Irish castle with Alex Conyngham, Earl of Mount Charles, surrounded by pictures of generations of his family, rock and roll was far from my mind. But as you walk through Slane Castle, in among the pictures of marquesses past are photographs of U2, Robbie Williams and Bruce Springsteen. But what connects an aristocratic Scottish family with an Irish castle, Bono and whiskey?

Let’s rewind a bit....

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Pot Still Whiskey – Ireland’s Secret Weapon

Irish whiskey is booming. For a long time it has been seen as Scotch whisky’s less-popular sibling, but the past few years have seen it explode in popularity. The biggest driver is Jameson , a blended Irish whiskey, but also growing is a style of whiskey not found anywhere else: pot still whiskey .

Pot still: isn’t that what you use to make malt whiskey?

First off, the terminology is confusing. In Ireland, along with blended, grain and malt whiskey, you also have pot still whiskey. Distillers make malt whiskey in a pot still, but it’s not pot still whiskey....

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Absinthe – a beginner’s guide

Absinthe is a drink surrounded by stories and misconceptions. From tales of murderous rampages under its influences to decades of being banned across Europe, its reputation is fearsome and almost entirely undeserved. It’s time to clear up a few things…

What is absinthe?

Simply put, absinthe is a bit like gin , but the main flavouring ingredient is Artemisia absinthium : grand wormwood – a bitter herb.


Artemesia Absinthium – grand wormwood

Like with gin, there are different ways of making it. The simplest is to add flavourings and colour to neutral spirit, which generally produces a lower-quality drink known...

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Dark rum cocktails – come to the dark side…

In the cocktail world, it’s white rum that gets all the love: lightly flavoured and with no colour to muddy the other ingredients, it’s an ideal pick (most of the time). However, if you want to taste the rum in your drink, dark rum is the way to go. Here are some of my favourites that showcase dark rum as the king of cocktails.

Old Fashioned

We’ll kick off with both the simplest and (potentially) most complicated cocktail in the world: The Old Fashioned. At its core, it’s simple enough to barely be a cocktail: spirit, sugar, bitters. However, your...

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The Whisky Show: Old Rare – Glasgow’s best whisky bar

It’s the middle of februari and our first big event of 2018 approaches – my favourite weekend of the year: The Whisky Show Old & Rare .

On 24 and 25 februari, we’ll be moving north to Glasgow and putting on a show. As the name suggests, it’s a showcase of old and rare whisky, focusing on the weird and wonderful bottles that we’ve become well known for finding over the years.

It’s a bit different to The Whisky Show in London , working instead like a big bar: we’ve got more than 460 whiskies confirmed, and they’ll all be...

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