Independent Scotch Whisky Merchants and Producers of the Finest Scottish Liqueurs, based in the heart of Perthshire near where I live in Perth, family owned and managed. Three generations of experience in Scotch Whisky and it shows.  Whisky; that’s what we are here for, the wonderful girls Keron and Denise at Exel Wines, Perth, invited me along once again (when will they ever learn) this time to a whisky tasting evening with Graeme Mackay (no relation). With the usual suspects and some new faces sitting doon we started with a dram, no bad start for a whisky evening.  First offering; Glen Ord 2012 strictly limited (I must jump in here, all these drams, we were the first to taste in the UK, a coup for Exel) 495 bottles worldwide, a 7 year old @ 47.5%. I thought it a wee bit young, sharp, pale in colour and to me, pale in taste. No false colour, no chill filter, easy to drink, but if honest, I wouldnee buy it. Talking of Glen Ord; Singleton the brand, from three distilleries with three Singleton labels, Diageo are canny here, it’s the third largest selling single malt – but it is fae 3 distilleries, is this cheating or clever? Next Dufftown 2009 strictly limited. This was my favourite of the night, 10 year old ´47.5% and a smidgen over £40 a bottle (new labels by the way), nice taste and nose, pear drops, fruity, maybe a hint of  m&m’s? I could easily cope with this all night, grand dram so it was, every drop a prisoner.

Graeme was a good orator. Sometimes in tastings the speaker drones on a bit, I know, I have done it myself! Not so tonight, enjoyed the banter. Third choice we were to be forced to taste was Old Perth wine finish no.2, where did number 1 go? into a non Brexit country I presume (see image above for the escaped dram). No age, but @ 62.3% this was a heavyweight. Blended dram, what wine? Bordeaux left bank (oo er missus), this would be illegal in Norway – blended with single malts, a touch of the Glenallachie in there, toffee taste, chocolate on the snout, I believe there are 6 – 8 single malts in here, with a touch of water even better. If you splashed out the £33 on this, canny folks could add water and get a litre! A break now – smokers outside, wee sausages, pies and rolls appeared, crisps and the inevitable seconds. Chatted to Big Bob (Ming) over a crisp, know him years but his first time here.

Fifteen minute break and we were off again; Glenrothes 2011 strictly limited. Powerful stuff, sherry finished natural colour, single butt cask released 925 bottles, we entered one of them, an 8 years old @ 47.5% – M&M like that number eh! Good taste that for me, ended with melon. At £43 a bottle, a snip. Then along came a 21 year old, now I don’t manage to pull many 21 year olds these days, but this one didnee disappoint. Glenrothes (again) @ 51.2% smooth, 470 bottles less the one we had, 1996 distillation – a good dram but to me, not as good as the previous. At £173 a bottle, I think it a wee bit expensive, but that’s me, based on taste not whisky age. We ended the evening with a Glenturret Ruadh Mhor (big red), an 8 year old at 47.5% (now there’s a familiar number), peaty but not Islay or west coast peat, this would go into the Black Grouse, was thinking with eyes closed (don’t know why) it is similar to a Highland Park, same stable. The night ended with a wee auction, a Carn Mor Mortlach … ooooh, one of my favourite drams, I longed for this but was beaten to it, I did consider hanging by the door to release its owner of the bottle, but have spent enough time with desk sergeant’s, thought it wise just to let it go. Bugger!

There was a lot of chat about ex bourbon and wine casks, does anyone know, do any Scottish distillers use ex Canadian casks? And Graeme, can you find out; why is 47.5 such a popular number at HQ? A couple of names to linger on the tongue … Celebration Of The Cask – a very limited range of whiskies from Scotland. All the bottles are numbered and once they are gone they cannot be replaced – they are all one off bottlings from a single cask. They are bottled at cask strength and are all non-chill-filtered.  To be sure, Càrn Mòr is a mountain on the edge of Knoydart in the Northwest Highlands of Scotland, above Skye but on the mainland, you actually need a boat to get there. At a height of 2,720 it is classified as a Corbett, approximately 16 miles north from Fort William. Carn Mor (big mountain/hill, Gaelic is not an easy language), it is also known as a “Marilyn” – defined as peaks with a prominence above 3000 ft. Marilyns can range from being mountains, with a height above 3,000 ft, to being relatively small hills. As of October 2018 there were 1,219 Marilyns in Scotland, including 202 of the 282 Scottish Munros; Now I know what you are thinking, but let’s no go there, nor do we mention the Paps of Jura please (Madonna).

Once again Exel have excelled themselves, a grand night, good drams, company and fun along the way. Graeme came from Glasgow, but old pal Peter Mackay (no relative) dropped him off in the banana with wheels, he is staying wi Peter overnight. Until next time … PAUL MCLEAN, mcleanscotland, who produce excellent whisky tours!