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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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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