Oct 182015

There being no direct flights between Glasgow and Tel Aviv, getting to Glasgow will always involve a transfer. Instead of changing flights, I decided to fly into London and take the train up to Scotland, hoping for a relaxed day of travel, allowing me to arrive fresh in the early evening. Instead, my flight was delayed, and getting from Heathrow to Euston Station for my 4:30 train to Glasgow would have made for an adrenaline filled episode on the Amazing Race. Nevertheless, I made it to the train and got to Glasgow on schedule. Thus, by 9 pm I was at the Bon Accord in Glasgow.

It was a Tuesday night, and the Glasgow Whisky Club was having their monthly meeting at the bar. After they finished the official part of the evening, I went over and said hello, and was immediately invited by John and Alex to have a seat with them and taste their flight of whiskies de jour. We started off with two Good Spirits Company (the local whisky shop) bottlings, of a young and feisty 6 year old Linkwood and a very dignified, and quite good 22 year old Auchentoshan, a good preparation for the following morning’s expedition to said distillery. I was also treated to a Signatory Vintage Glen Garioch  1990, and to the Arran Smugglers’ Series Vol. I ‘The Illicit Stills’. As with every whisky enthusiasts meeting, a great time was had by all.

The Glenugie is the dram I treated myself to while the official club meeting was in session, being a distillery that I haven’t had yet. Glenugie was one of the (non DCL) casualties of that bleak 1983. While in operation, it was the eastern most distillery in Scotland. The latest Glenugie bottling I know of is a 2011 Signatory, and I don’t think there’s much out there in terms of stocks. Curiously, Chivas Bros. bought the rights to the brand quite a while after the distillery was dismantled, but I know of no plans to revive the brand (and if Imperial is any indication, even if rebuilt it would probably get a new name).

And, at the behest of the bartender, I ended the evening taking the customary ‘behind the bar’ shot:

At the Bon Accord © Malt and Oak

At the Bon Accord
© Malt and Oak

Photo Credit: whiskymarketplace.ca

Duncan Taylor Rarest of the Rare 1981 Glenugie, Distilled 11.1981, Bottled 11.2006, Cask 5158, Yield 323 Bottles (51.5% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Bronze, slow legs forming from a residue ring.

Nose: Old sherry, oak, dark dried fruit – with prunes and dried figs, wood spices. This whisky is deep and dark. After a bit, notes of a warm honey cake and licorice come through. This is a very classic sherry bomb on the nose.

Palate: Minty sherry, marshmallow, licorice and orange peel. The mint on this one is like nothing I’ve had before, and the palate on this dram is fascinating, and the nose will give you no hint of what’s going on in the palate.

Linger: Thick sweetness on the tongue, dryness in the mouth, malt comes through on the finish despite being 25 years old, with a sweet citrus note.


The Bon Accord is a world renowned whisky bar, and given more time, there are quite a few other bottles I’d love to explore there, many of which you can see on the shelves behind me in the picture.

This expression is a very unique sherry bomb, with that curious mint still running around in my thoughts!

Aug 222015

Strathclyde is Chivas Bros’ grain distillery, operating in Glasgow. The distillery has seven column stills used to produce grain whiksy, and while they also have the capacity to produce neutral spirit, the distillery doesn’t use that feature. The grain whisky is intended for use in the Chivas Bros’ blends.

Strathclyde distillery was founded in 1927 by Seager Evans, who produced gin, and created the Long John Blended whisky which was named after ‘Long’ John McDonald, founder of Ben Nevis.  Of note is the fact that, between 1958 and 1975, they operated a single malt distillery within the Strathclyde factory, named Kinclaith. And while Tormore was Long John’s signature malt, the single malt from Kinclaith was used almost exclusively for the Long John Blends. Kinclaith was dismantled in 1975 to make way for more column stills for grain production after Long John was sold to Whitebread, and Strathclyde made its way to Allied’s hands, eventually becoming part of Pernod Ricard.

The distillery is closed to the public, and anybody with a keen enough interest in the distillery to make a pilgrimage to it, will have to satiate their interest by walking or driving around the distillery, as did this frustrated fan of Strathclyde:

Which brings us to 2015, where Fred Laing went into the vast warehouse of whisky wonders and selected four single cask grains to bottle in their Old Particular range. This is the first foray into bottling Grain whisky under this brand, although a 40 year old Strathclyde has already been bottled under the premium ‘Xtra Old Particular’ label, which replaced (only by name, the bottle design is the same) the ‘Director’s Cut’ label. It seems that the recent bottling of these four grains in the Old Particular range signify a planned move to consolidate the Douglas Laing brands around fewer marketing focal points, one of which being the ‘Remarkable Regional Malts’ (combining the highly popular Big Peat with Scallywag, Timorous Beastie and Rock Oyster) and the other being ‘Old Particular’ as opposed to today’s 12 brands under the Douglas Laing pagoda.

This brings us to the inevitable focal point of this post, the whisky review. This one is fascinating, as given in a blind tasting (in a dark blue glass) I’d swear it was American bourbon. Granted, in Kentucky this would be achieved in less than a tenth of the 27 years this liquid spent in a cask, but hey, this is scotch…

Photo Credit: douglaslaing.com

Photo Credit: douglaslaing.com

Douglas Laing Old Particular Single Cask Grain Strathclyde 27 Year Old, Distilled September 1987, Bottled June 2015, Cask DL10804, 198 Bottles From a Refill Barrel (51.5% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Gold, thin legs forming rather quickly and rolling down the glass.

Nose: Sweet corn notes – really bourbon like, spice mix with pepper and a note of turmeric and some floral notes.

Palate: Thick, bourbon-y with some oak and a lot of pepper with a pronounced layer of sweetness. In fact, the spiciness and the and sweetness battle for dominance with the spice winning by a margin.

Linger: Starts out sweet, giving way to a light bitter note with dryness on the palate and some spice in the back throat in a rather long linger.


This is a very bourbonesque Scotch grain with a nice lightly bitter finish. That finish is quite endearing.

Official sample provided by Douglas Laing & Co.