They Brew it, I sell it, You Drink it... and so do I..

Friday 25 January 2013

A Night With A Poet

It's Burn's Night again and what a perfect opportunity to drink some more Scotch... Or should I drink Scottish beer?? I know, I'll drink Scottish beer, that's been aged in whisky casks....   and then I'll drink Scotch. As you know You can never have enough Scotch....     SCOTLAND!

The beer I'm going for tonight comes in a range of beers from one brewery, which I think proves the point that whisky aged beers can be fantastic. I've written about Harviestoun's beers before and I'm sure this won't be the last.. onto topic though.

Harviestoun's Ola Dubh range comes in various forms, all aged in different Highland Park Whisky casks going through the 12yr, 16yr, 18yr, 30yr and the epic 40yr. I'm going for the 18yr version tonight. It's strange, as the casks get older you'd probably expect the flavours to get bigger, stronger and more aggressive, but in fact it's quite the opposite. Aromas of toffee, scorched wood and vanilla sit along bitter chocolate and brown sugar. It's quite easy drinking but still very complex. A little smoke and a big nutty quality. More vanilla on top of a rustic oak quality and the satisfying and hearty finish mellows out into a lasting bittersweet flavour which is hard to shift. Ola Dubh - Always and forever a classic.

After the beer (and a large portion of Haggis - seriously, can this foodstuff BE any better!) it's time to move onto the warming (and almost magical) properties of good old Scottish Scotch, cos let's face it, no other whisky can ever really match up.

Tonight's dram comes from the Blair Athol distillery around about the center of Scotland. This bottle was a gift from my good friend Avon for my birthday, and I've held off drinking too much of it, because it's great, and there's not too much of it. I've never tried much of Blair Athol's range, but they are situated right next to Edradour distillery which is a personal favourite, and I can see one or two comparisons and this bottle is currently becoming very difficult to ignore.

This 12yr, distilled in 1999, comes in at 46% and a couple of drops of water is no bad thing. It's un-chill filtered so adding water causes a little haze, but I don't taste my Scotch with my eyes, I taste it mainly through the nose. It's got a really fruity nose with quite a bit of sweetness, almost reminiscent of pear drops. A little toffee, wet hay and some wood polish. Spicy, but not overpowering, it's luscious. They say you should keep whisky in your mouth for one second of each year of age before the swallow, but twelve seconds is a tad too long for me tonight. The spice comes through straight away, warming and bitter. This doesn't last long though and while there's an obvious booze presence, it's smooth and mellow and doesn't destroy you're throat, making you want more, as you should! I'll give my thanks again to Avon for my gift, it was very thoughtful of her, and it was delicious. And to those of you who think giving whisky to someone who likes whisky is an easy cop-out; there's thousands to choose from, so getting the right one is harder than you think!

It's been a very pleasurable Burn's Night. Tomorrow at Beer Ritz we have some Scottish beer on tasting with some foody bits to look forward to just to make things last that little longer...


  1. Blair Athol is largely used for blends, especially red grouse. Wasn't too keen on the straight scotch i tried when I visited, Edradour much better.

  2. If you get a chance try the Blair Athol from Diageo's Flora & Fauna range, it's stunning; rich, full and lots of spicy, fiery sherry power.

    Steve: I'd be surprised if it goes into a Grouse blend since it's the home of Bells - it used to be owned by Arthur Bell & Sons before they were taken over by the Guinness group. Where did you hear that?

  3. I meant mainly bells though i think it may be sold to Grouse too, somewherein the back of my mind from when I visited though could be mistaken.

    1. I think I'd be a little disappointed if your memories of visiting a distillery were crystal clear. ;)