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Daniel McLaren's Dramfest '18 Report

Hats off to Michael, Stephen and the whole team for an excellent Dramfest 2018. Great venue, big crowd but still able to get to the front of each stand to sample the wares. Water stations at the ready, quick fire masterclass sessions, hospitable hosts at the shop and over 300 whiskies in the programme.


I missed out on the 25 year old Laphroaig and the new Amrut spectrum but pretty much NZ malts hit my top and hit my bottom scores, with some really crazy bottlings all in between. I worked very hard to search for the best samples on behalf of the Wellington tasting programme and here are my top 10 whiskies from three different categories (for a full breakdown of the 75 I tasted, email me at danielmclarenmoon@hotmail.com)

My Cask Strength Picks (over 50%)

9.4 Caperdonich Cadenheads 1977 39yo sherry butt 50.4%: rum, thick, treacle, sticky, stays sweet, tobacco, lollie pops, rock candy
9.3 "The Oamaruvian" 16yo Double Wood 55.8% Cask 571: sherry, wow, undies
9.25 Ben Nevis Signatory 1991 26yo 56.5%: salt n vinegar corn chip, onion n tomato salsa, P.K, sausages, long, fantastic
9.25 Glengoyne Cadenhead 1996 21yo 52.9%: undies, grass, coffee, onion
9.2 Daluaine SMWS 41.101 "Hard To Put Down" 28yo 49.5%: dirty rum, felafel, woody
9.2 Deanston OMC 1995 21yo 50%: wow, sweet, simple, lemon,. green leaves, sunshine, toffee, honey, exotic
9.1 Glenfarclas FCR 2000-25.1.2017 refill sherry butt #396 60.1%: strong
9.1 Glenfarclas FCR 1999 1st fill sherry butt 6322 60%: dirty, strong, fickle, tobacco
9.1 SMWS "Exotic Cargo" Blended Malt 10yo 1st Fill Sherry 2006 50%: raisins, delicious, burnt toffee
9.1 Breath of Speyside Adelphi 2006 10yo 64.7%: sweet, luscious


My Classic Strength Picks (under 50%)

9.2 Balblair 1990 Vintage 46%: sewing machine
9.2 Balblair G&M 1993-2017 49.6%: asparagus, nappies, herbal, old, tannic, liquorice, woody, molasis
9.2 Invergordon 42yo That Boutique-y Whisky Co 48% Batch 15: fantastic, wood, old shed
9.1 Mannochmore G&M 1996 - 2017 46%: lovely, sweet, oaky
9.1 Benriach 22yo Moscatelle 46%: raisins, thick, rich
9.0 Imperial G&M 1997 43%: coffee, liquor, dishwash
8.9 Macallan Cadenheads 27yo 1990 refill sherry hogs 41.4%: copper, cheese, sherry, old, tannic, tasty
8.9 Benriach 21yo 46% Tawnt Port Finish: sweet, luscious
8.9 Glenrothes Wemyss 1988 25yo 46% Ginger Spice Single Sherry Butt thick, buttery, sweet, woody
8.8 Balvenie "Peat Week" 14yo USA 48.3%: Ben Nevis traditionaly, salty, sherry, peat, dirty, ash

My Peaty Picks (oh what we do for art)

9.2 Ballechin Edradour 50ppm SFTC bordeaux cask 2005 11yo 53.4%: varnish yeasty, cheesey lingers paint stripper undies, sulphur, crazy, grows, smoke, creaming soda
9.2 Elements of Islay Bw7 53.2%: sausage, demarara, thick, big, spice, cashews, brown sugar, gravy, puckering
8.7 Glen Scotia "Double Cask" 46% USA/PX: Ben Nevis Traditionaly, salty hint, smoke whiff
8.6 (7) Bowmore OMC 1996 21yo 30ppm refill hogs 50%: smoke, citrious, janola, BBQ sauce, sweetness
8.6 (5) Laphroaig Adelphi 2000 17yo 60.6% #700057: rich, burns, full smoke, peat, burnt but sweet
8.5 Ardmore Adelphi 1996 21yo 61%: dry, wood smoke, strong
8.5 (7.0) Glenglassaugh Peated Virgin Oak Finish 46%: it's not all about the peat, tasty, balanced
8.4 (6.0) Bruichladdich Octomore 8.1 59.3% 167ppm 8yo: peaty, smoke, dry, sappy, bitter
8.1 (5.5) Ardmore SMWS 66.107 "Enjoy the Ride" 8yo 60.8%: smokey,dry, woody though pale
8.0 Bowmore Adelphi 27yo 1987 refill bourbon hogs 7838 52%: smokey, peanut butter, sweet, lipsmaking

We shall see what we can get stocks of soon for a tasting near you - first Picks of Dramfest tasting will be on 26 and 27 March.

Slainthe, Daniel