Whisky Review: Talisker, 10 Years Old

I think it’s fair to say that although I’m a fan of mainland whisky, I have a particular liking for island drinks. So after the oily nightmare of Jack Daniel’s when I wanted to restore my faith in oily whiskies, it was a natural choice to turn to a youthful Talisker.

A light smoke covers a fruitiness to the aroma. It’s worth spending time on the vapours before taking a sip. wait until the sweet apply scent comes through. Then take your sip. The oil is there, but unlike the brash american, this is a light oil. Rather like the difference between petrol and virgin olive oil. In fact, taste them side by side and that’s just what comes to mind.

There’s more in the Talisker, though, again unlike the one note american. There’s a few stereotypes of a whisky – as you’d expect with a young bottling. Hints of heather, seaweed and moor come through at different times in the mouth, leaving you with a warm pepper over the tongue, stopping just at the top of the throat after you swallow.

But throughout there’s the slightly slick comfort of that virgin oil, smoothing the way.


whisky review.talisker

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Whisky Review: @Bunnahabhain 40 Years Old

I’m entertaining the possibility that I have been wrong these many years. That there is a God, there is a heaven. And crucially, I have recently died and gone there. The big news is that God is not an Englishman after all, but a Scot from the north east coast of Islay.

This would explain the perfection within my glass.

I had high expectations for this whisky. Considering the order of magnitude improvement that the 37 year old Lagavulin showed over its (already excellent) 12 year old stablemate, and the equally impressive comparison of the 25 year old Bunnahabhain with her younger sibling, I half expected the 40 year old to be that much better again. I half expected it not be, because that level of improvement seemed impossible.

But as Muhammed Ali said:

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”

But enough hyperbole. Not that this whisky could have enough. My first draft of this review simply ran out of superlatives. I had a second glass just to try and find something to criticise or suggest improvement.

My favourite thing about this beautiful drink is breathing out. The vapour in your throat fills your mouth, your nose and you experience the drink’s resurrection- a whole secondary flavour and experience. It’s entirely different to the opening aroma, and different again from the first piquancy, or the aftertaste.

whisky review.Bunnahabhain40

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On The Twelfth Day Of Christmas…

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me,
Twelve lords a-leaping…

Appearing in court today was Mr Mike Rullove after his bizarre campaign of terror against a local family…


The moral of the story of ‘The Twelve Days Of Christmas’ is that sometimes the person giving the gifts doesn’t know that they’re unwelcome. They might reasonably think that their gifts are a romantic gesture that’s blowing Daisy away.

Or – as in this case – Daisy was clear and honest with everyone, told Mike to stop and he should’ve done.

But really, who wouldn’t think it a romantic and not annoying gesture to send; twelve jumping lords, twenty-two dancing ladies, thirty pipers, thirty-six drummers, forty milkmaids and their cows, forty-two swans and geese, forty calling birds, thirty french hens, twenty-two turtle doves and a dozen partridges in their respective pear trees?

Although even someone as shallow as Daisy wouldn’t mind about the forty gold rings.

Whisky Review: @Bunnahabhain Cruach-Mhòna

This was the second of the three bottles sent by the fine distillery on the north-east coast of Islay and it was completely different to the Toiteach.

It’s an interesting bottle from the outset: It isn’t available to buy in the normal way because sadly, if you want a bottle you have to get it from duty free. On the other hand you’ll be reading this after I’ve already had that opportunity. I’ll be sure to exercise the option, too.

Different it may be, but that doesn’t mean it’s not just as good. As regular readers will know, I’m a fan, no an acolyte, of Bunnahabhain. Every bottle I try is different, and every bottle is excellent.

I do have a criticism. It’s a small one, but important. It’s one that has the capacity of harming sales, and consequently the deserved appreciation of this, and other Bunnahabhain whiskies… It’s the naming policy. All the scots gaelic. Toiteach, and this one: Cruach-Mhòna. Yes, they do create an ambiance, but it’s tough to pronounce when you haven’t had your first two or three. After that, for an englishman like me, it’s nigh on impossible.

Now that’s out of the way, on with the whisky.

Loved it. The ‘duty free only’ status has given me a bonus reason to go abroad. It’s firm, unforgiving. Peatier than you’d expect from the distillery, but the peat is, as with the Toiteach, very subtle. At the risk of sounding pretentious, the drink is rather more audacious. Even with the peat, the aroma is crisp, fresh. It’s not unlike stepping outside and smelling the woodsmoke from the chimney on a chill winter morning. It’s comforting like that.

The comfort doesn’t stop there. It warms you through as you drink, the light peat is accompanied in a variety of taste over the mouth during, and after, the drink. There’s a saltiness and something else. The tasting notes on the Bunnahabhain website (as always, read afterwards) say it’s seaweed. I didn’t identify it as that, but as I couldn’t identify it as anything else, I’ll go along with that.

This was another outstanding whisky. I’m going to have to force myself to drink whiskies from other distilleries. Bunnahabhain are producing such a range, and all good.


I did drink it with the anticipation of another. The third of the three bottles Bunnahabhain sent: A 40 year old that I was saving for my birthday. And perhaps the anticipation of that took away a little from the purity of the experience.

whisky review.Bunnahabhain Cruach-Mhona

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On The Eleventh Day Of Christmas…

On the eleventh day of Christmas my truelove sent to me,
Eleven ladies dancing…

Dear Mr Rullove,

As the solicitor for Miss Daisy Christmas and her family I have been asked to inform you that you and your gifts are no longer welcome at their home. Please do not contact them again, and any further deliveries – new or repeated from previous days – will be considered a section 2 harassment.

You will have fulfilled these criteria because you have been asked now to cease and desist, as is required in such a case.

I would ask you to contact my office at the address above to make arrangements to collect the presents in a timely manner. If you choose not to do so the gifts will be disposed of and the family will send you a bill for any out of pocket expenses.

Daisy assures me that your intentions were well meant, and this is the reason the family are not already seeking charges against you. You are lucky she is so forgiving and not given imagining you are a pantomime villain with evil intent. In the light of her feelings, the family have decided this is appropriate under the circumstances, however now you are aware that your attentions are unwelcome, and know of the distress the gifts are causing to the family and to the neighbourhood, we hope you recognise that you have overplayed your romantic gesture and stop.

Yours sincerely,

A Barrister, QC


On The Tenth Day Of Christmas…

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love sent to me,
Ten pipers piping…

Bagpipes now? What’s wrong with you? The neighbours are on the verge of point of storming the house with flaming torches, and quite frankly I can see their point.

The drummers yesterday were bad enough. Particularly after all the fighting animals and screeching birds keeping everybody awake all night. I think you hate me.

Since Christmas you’ve sent thirty gold rings (thank you, I’ll keep those!), eighteen drummers, twenty four cows and women dressed as milk maids, twenty eight swans, thirty geese,  twenty eight calling birds, twenty four hens, eighteen doves, ten partridges in ten pear trees. And now these people playing bagpipes.

If you keep this up I’m going to the police. 


On The Ninth Day Of Christmas…

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love sent to me,
Nine drummers drumming…

Dear Mike,

I never realised how much the twelve days of Christmas drag on until they become twelve mornings where you dread the next delivery. I thought it was just to do with how long you’re allowed to keep your Christmas decorations up.

It doesn’t matter what you send anyway. We’ve had a letter from the council. There’ve been complaints from the neighbours and the council think we have an unregistered zoo. They’re going to fine us if we don’t get rid of all the birds. The council noise abatement people turned up just as nine bloody drummers came around the corner. And all the sodding birds, cows, and the rest. What the hell do you expect me to do with them all. You can only eat so many eggs, chickens and geese. The swans attacked the geese. The screeching and squawking was unbearable. Have you ever tried to stop a fight between two dozen massive flapping birds? It’s impossible. It’s downright dangerous. What’s worse, it scared the cows, and they trampled the garden

I’ve asked you to stop, but you just don’t. And now we’re in trouble. We’re going to get fined, sued and maybe even arrested.

Why are you doing this to me? I thought you loved me!



On The Eighth Day Of Christmas…

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love sent to me,
Eight maids a-milking…


Are you taking the piss? Why have you sent me a bunch of women dressed as milk maids, each with a cow in tow?

Dad’s livid. The cows trampled all over the front garden, and you think he was cross about the bird mess in the conservatory? That’s nothing compared to the cows.

All the birds again. Well, we let the doves go straight away, and dad took the chickens and geese into the back garden and did for them. Thank god he’s not squeamish, wight them all running around after he’d taken their heads off with the hand axe. Why he said your name each time, I’m not sure.

But look, I said stop. You must. Now.



Whisky Review: Jack Daniel’s Old No7 – @JackDaniels_US

Go on, admit it, you never thought you’d see me review a drink that wasn’t scottish. Or that spelled ‘Whisky’ with an ‘E’.

Yes, this is Jack Daniel’s Old No7 Tennessee Whiskey. A drink beloved of those who want to pollute it with coke.

Why am I reviewing it? Surely I didn’t willingly sully the Monk’s Bench with an american brand? No, of course not, but I got some for Christmas. Clearly my sister hates me.  What a truly passive aggressive way to show it. Buy me a bottle of whisky – Hurrah, spell it with an ‘e’ and make it American, not even Irish – Boo, hiss.

But it’d be rude not to try it. So I did. For the first time in 25 years since a long forgotten girlfriend insisted. Two things strike me. First, that there’s a reason people do their best to disguise it with coke. Second, there’s a reason I’ve not drunk any in 25 years (or thought about the girlfriend).

It has an oily smell, tempered with a very sweet, pine edge. Not unlike all purpose kitchen cleaner. The flavour has no subtlety. It is exactly what it is, assaulting your mouth, unchanging, un-nuanced.

There’s obviously a place for Jack Daniel’s. It sells in enviously high volumes. And it certainly isn’t the worst american whiskey. But nor is it the best, just one of the most prominent and consistent.

I’ve been trying to find a way of shoehorning in the obvious pun about something not meaning Jack. But my creativity escapes me. Hey ho.

whisky review.Jack Daniels

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On The Seventh Day Of Christmas…

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me,
Seven swans a-swimming…

Dear Micheal,

Happy new year. I suppose, but after a very late night being woken by a delivery of swans, geese, singing birds, hens, and doves at seven o’clock this morning wasn’t the best start to a year we could’ve had. And I wish the blasted things would shut up. In honesty, the novelty is wearing off and I have a hangover. The noise isn’t helping.

At least we can kill the chickens, the geese and all the rest, and eat them. But not swans. If we kill them we’re in trouble.

Dad’s ready to brain you. The girls were so impressed last night, but this morning they’d happily kill you too, and I can see their point.

You have to stop now, you’ve taken it too far.

Yours, Daisy.