Two new whiskies from The Balvenie heading to South Africa

The Balvenie’s family of single malt Scotch whiskies is set to grow in South Africa with the arrival of The Balvenie DoubleWood, Aged 17 Years as well as The Balvenie Caribbean Cask, Aged 14 Years, both of which will be launching in South Africa from June 2014.

The Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 Year Old

The Balvenie_Caribbean Cask_14yo_The Smoky DramThe Balvenie Caribbean Cask was created by The Balvenie Malt Master, David Stewart, who celebrated an incredible 50th anniversary at the distillery in 2012. This single malt has had a 14-year maturation period in traditional oak whisky casks, before being transferred to casks that previously held Caribbean rum to finish aging.

“This expression is a beautifully rounded whisky that combines traditional Balvenie vanilla notes with rich toffee, a hint of fruit and a warm, lingering finish. We are very excited for The Balvenie Caribbean Cask to be launching in South Africa for the very first time!” adds Marketing Manager Lauren Kuhlmey.

The Balvenie Caribbean Cask, Aged 14 Years, has an ABV of 43% and has an MRP of R799.


Tasting Notes

Nose: Rich, sweet and creamy toffee on the nose combines with fresh fruit notes
Taste: Rounded with vanilla and sweet oak notes, with a fruity character that develops with time
Finish: Soft and lingering

The Balvenie 17 Year Old DoubleWood

The Balvenie_DoubleWood_17yo_The Smoky DramThe DoubleWood 17 Year Old is an elder sibling to the DoubleWood 12 Year Old, The Balvenie’s most popular expression. This new aged version shares the same DNA and the honeyed, spicy characteristics as the 12 Year Old, but it is distinctly different, with deeper vanilla notes, hints of green apple, creamy toffee and a striking richness and complexity.

“The “cask finishing” technique is at the heart of The Balvenie DoubleWood – it sees the whisky matured first in American oak barrels, which impart soft sweet vanilla notes, before being transferred to European oak sherry casks. The second cask ageing adds a depth and fullness of flavour. We are very excited to be introducing the rich, spicy flavours of the 17 Year Old Doublewood to the South African consumers,” adds Marketing Manager Lauren Kuhlmey.

The Balvenie 17 Year Old DoubleWood, has an ABV of 43% and has an MRP of R1 399.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Elegant and complex with oak, vanilla, honeyed sweetness and a hint of green apple
Taste: Sweet with dried fruits, sherbet spice, toasted almonds and cinnamon, layered with a richness of creamy toffee notes and traces of oak and deep vanilla
Finish: Vanilla oak, honey and spicy sweetness

About The Balvenie

The Balvenie’s Malt Master David Stewart first showcased his double-cask maturation technique when he created The Balvenie Classic in the 1980s. This pioneering release is one of David’s greatest achievements and was one of the first examples of cask finishing in the Scotch single malt whisky industry. The success of The Balvenie Classic led to the release of The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year Old in 1993, a celebrated example of cask finishing, which is now at the heart of The Balvenie range.

The Balvenie is dedicated to the five rare crafts that are used to create The Balvenie’s distinctive taste. It is the only distillery that still grows its own barley, uses traditional floor maltings and keeps both coppersmiths and coopers on site – making The Balvenie the most handcrafted of malts. Having coopers on site at the distillery allows David Stewart to work closely with them to make new types of wood finishes.

The Balvenie Single Malt Scotch Whisky is produced by William Grant & Sons Ltd, an award-winning independent family-owned distiller founded by William Grant in 1886 and today run by his direct descendants.

News source: Press release from Butter Knife PR (


In memoriam, Charles Gordon

William Grant_The Smoky DramCharles Gordon, the man who gave the world Glenfiddich Scotch whisky, has been remembered at international memorial services in New York on February 18 and his hometown of Glasgow in Scotland on February 21.

Charles, who was Life President of William Grant & Sons, died in New York on December 21, 2013, aged 86, surrounded by his family after a short illness.

Along with his brother Sandy, Charles – or Charlie has he was affectionally known – turned a small, family run company into one of the world’s leading producers of Scotch whiskies including Glenfiddich and Grant’s.

A large personality to his family, friends and to all those that he met in the course of his life, Charles’ warmth and charm as well as his unique perceptiveness and long-term vision led William Grant & Sons to the international recognition it enjoys today. He was a key driving force in building the company into a strong independent family-owned company with a unique global reputation for excellence.

His son Glenn, the present Chairman of the company, paid this tribute to his father: “We are all very proud of my father’s achievements in his very full and energetic lifetime, and give thanks for the legacy that he has left us with. He touched the lives of many, many people and will be sorely missed by all. In our family and our business, which my father always intertwined, he very much believed in a spirit of partnership. In his memory, we will continue to build this spirit, and with it our independent family business, for future generations”.

Charles’ passion and innovative nature led him to launch Glenfiddich internationally which marked the beginning of the single malt category as we know it today, he pushed the global development of William Grant & Sons’ brands, whilst spearheading the acquisition of an American import house, the first of its kind in the industry, moving control of distribution and sale into company hands.

Stella David, Chief Executive of the company said: “On behalf of all of us at William Grant & Sons, we recognise the truly exceptional contribution Charles Gordon has made to our company. Indeed few people have made a greater contribution to the scotch whisky industry over such an extended period of time. The company is fully committed to continue to build on Charles’ remarkable legacy. We pass on our sympathies to the Grant Gordon family.”


William Grant and Sons_The Smoky Dram

William Grant & Sons is an independent family-owned distiller headquartered in the United Kingdom and founded by William Grant in 1887. Today, the global premium spirits company is run by the fifth generation of his family and distils some of the world’s leading brands of Scotch whisky, including the world’s most awarded single malt Glenfiddich, The Balvenie range of handcrafted single malts and the world’s third largest blended Scotch Grant’s.

News sources:


Grant’s Family Reserve festive season gift pack

We are fast approaching that time of year that most whisky drinkers enjoy, the festive season. Eagerly planning and scheming on what to not only get for themselves, but what hints to drop as to which whisky would be welcome in their stocking.

So I will update my blog as and when I get any festive season whisky news. This will mostly be for the South African market.

So first up is some great news regarding Grant’s Family Reserve whisky, a blend of around 25 of the finest single malt and grain Scotch whiskies. The basis for the blend is their widely acclaimed Girvan grain whisky. Vacuum distilled at a lower temperature to make it a lighter and more delicate spirit, it is then aged in oak to give it a deeper, sweeter, soft fruit flavour, creating the perfect foundation.

For the upcoming festive season Grant’s whisky have released an exclusive gift pack, which will be available this December in all leading liquor stores nationwide, retailing from R134. You have two choices:

One is the Gift Tin, which is exclusive to Spar and Tops stores nationwide.

SparExclusive Gift Tin Pack 2_The Smoky Dram















The other is the Grant’s double glass pack, containing Grant’s branded tumblers, making it the perfect way to raise a toast on loved ones. This will be available only at Ultra Liquors, Pick & Pay and Shoprite/ Checkers liquor stores.

Double Glass pack 2_The Smoky Dram














For more information, visit the Grant’s Facebook page.


The Smoky Dram Whisky Blog

Laphroaig Live 2013 – New York

Laphroaig, the Whisky That Never Sleeps. On the 26th September 2013 the seventh annual Laphroaig Live will be broadcast live from New York City. The show times are:

8pm New York
1am (27th) London
2am (27th) South Africa
8am (27th) Hong Kong

Laphroaig Live_Smoky DramThe venue for the evening is an original Hudson River Barge which, at over 99 years old, has seen cargo come and go into New York for almost a century. While the barge was taking its cargo into port, Ian Hunter – the last family owner of Laphroaig – was introducing the world to the now famous whisky. Legend has it he even introduced it to the USA during Prohibition by convincing authorities of its “medicinal” purposes!

An expert panel of guests will explore the strong ties between America and Laphroaig, stepping back in time to the era of Prohibition and tracing its heritage through to the booming whisky cocktail scene it helped create.

The panel is lead, as usual, by Laphroaig Distillery Manager John Campbell and accompanied by Bourbon Ambassador Adam Harris, the renowned Michael J. Neff, Mixologist and Founder of Ward III and cocktail and spirit enthusiast Kevin Sintumuang, web editor of GQ .

They’ll look first to the fastest growing Laphroaig expression, the Quarter Cask, matured in barrels similar to those used in the early days of the distillery. To contrast this, the panelists will sample the latest expression, Laphroaig QA, which uses the American style of maturation. They will compare it to the classic American bourbon from sister distillery, Maker’s 46. The final expression will be the remarkable Cairdeas 2013, bottled for the Friends of Laphroaig. This unique expression used Port Wood for part of its maturation, resulting in an extraordinary taste and colour.

As the show is live from New York, the home of the cocktail, we will have one of the city’s finest bartenders creating some exciting cocktails using Laphroaig in a very different way. As it is also a live online whisky tasting, a studio audience of Friends of Laphroaig will join the tens of thousands of Laphroaig fans worldwide in what’s set to be a phenomenal event!

You can follow by joining online at to take part in this live tasting session on Thursday 26th September 2013 at 20:00 EST.

Furthermore, if you wish to submit questions before the show, submit them by going to the following link: Laphroaig Live Questions.

The Smoky Dram Whisky Blog

Ardbeg day 2013 is Ardbog day

The time is very near for that special day each year that Ardbeggians celebrate – Ardbeg Day! For this year it is to be known as Ardbog day – 1st June 2013.

And in celebration for this day The Smoky Dram now sports a fetching Ardbeg green link colour scheme.

Ardbeg’s Ardbog Day

ArdbogDay_The Smoky Dram

Rai Banbury, senior brands manager, says, “The Islay Ardbeg Festival has become a key date in the calendar of malt whisky lovers worldwide. Every year Ardbeg creates a unique and fun way for our Ardbeg fans to celebrate Ardbeg and the much anticipated limited edition release.” This latest limited edition release is called Ardbog and will be released on ‘Ardbog Day’.

The name Ardbog was chosen to highlight the peat bogs of Ardbeg’s island home Islay and the part they play in the whisky making process. The unique peat bogs contain highly aromatic plants that when used to dry malted barley gives Ardbeg whiskies their distinctive smoky flavour.

Ardbog has deep, enticing waves of pecan nuts, salty toffee & caramels, fudge, leather and a distinct whiff of herbs, lavender and violets. The smoke is soft and aromatic, and is interwoven with savoury notes, like Iberico ham (de bellota) and olives.

South Africa’s Ardbog Day and first African Ardbeg Embassy

We all dig PEAT! South Africa will celebrate all things peaty with the launch of the first African Ardbeg Embassy, Wild About Whisky, on world Ardbog day. This will be an opportunity for current and future Ardbeggians to comPEAT in some uniquely Ardbeg activities. The shinDIG will begin with an Ardbeg procession starting on main road at the Cricket oval (in Dullstroom) at 12:00. Do not rePEAT this as there are only 100 tickets available – which sadly are all Sold Out!

Unfortunately the other Ardbeg day event in South Africa (of which I know) is also Sold Out! This event is being hosted in Johannesburg by WhiskyBrother Shop and this event promises Ardbeg shenanigans and a chance to sample some very special Ardbeg drams. I was very fortunate to book in time for this and shall report on the special drams and any shenanigans that may happen with photographic evidence where possible.

I find it encouraging that both South African events sold out so quickly, both virtually within only a couple of days from the announcements being made by the respective hosts. The other promising point is the launch of first African Ardbeg Embassy. Hopefully this will result in more exposure for Ardbeg in South Africa and more importantly enable more Ardbeg whisky expressions to make its way to SA! Currently the only expression commercially available here the Ardbeg 10YO.


The Smoky Dram Whisky Blog

New direction for Douglas Laing & Co

New direction revealed for whisky entrepreneurs Fred and Stewart Laing

Douglas Laing & Co owners forging new chapters for the next generation of the family

The owners of Douglas Laing & Co, the successful independent Scotch whisky blenders and bottlers, have announced that they are to go their separate ways and focus on different projects from today. 

Douglas Laing_Fred_Cara_1

Established by Fred Douglas Laing in 1948, Douglas Laing & Co has continued to thrive under the guidance of his sons Fred and Stewart Laing for the last 40 years.  Now, Fred and Stewart are looking to build a secure future for the next generation of their families by concentrating on the industry in their different ways, with Fred continuing to head up Douglas Laing & Co, while Stewart launches a new company, Hunter Laing & Co. Full details of Hunter Laing & Co’s formation are being announced today, as is further detail on Douglas Laing’s development.

The assets of Douglas Laing & Co have been split between the two brothers. Stock, brands and other functions of the business have been divided, giving both brothers equal value.

Stewart will retain Old Malt Cask, the Old & Rare Selection, Douglas (of Drumlanrig) range of Single Malts, Douglas Blend, House Of Peers, Sovereign Single Grain and John Player Special blend as well as the bottling facility in East Kilbride.

Douglas Laing under Fred will continue to offer their Single Cask Provenance range, Director’s Cut, Double Barrel, Premier Barrel, Clan Denny Malts and Grains, Epicurean Blend, the King Of Scots range, McGibbon’s and Big Peat.

In a joint statement, the brothers said: “The Scotch whisky industry is in great shape at the moment and this presents each of us with the perfect opportunity to diversify and explore different projects with the next generation of our families. 

“As drinkers around the world expand their whisky repertoire and seek out new flavours, the opportunities for niche players will flourish.  Our commitment is to creating a solid business for the next generation of our families and the business structures now in place allow us to capitalise on the opportunities the market place provides for their long-term benefit.”


High Spirits at leading Scotch Whisky firm Douglas Laing as it welcomes third generation Douglas Laing_Fred_Cara_2

Wednesday 1st May 2013, Fred Laing realises his career-long ambition of taking total control of Douglas Laing & Co. the business his father Fred Douglas Laing established in 1948, which is now regarded as one of Scotland’s most successful independent Scotch Whisky blenders and bottlers. As Fred restructures for the future, it has also been announced that the company will maintain tradition with a senior appointment from the third generation of the family.

Cara Laing, Fred’s daughter, joins the company as Head of Brands Marketing, bringing with her impressive industry experience and proven marketing expertise. She leaves behind Morrison Bowmore Distillers where she led both Bowmore and Glen Garioch Single Malts as Marketing Manager, to take up this role. Specialising in brand strategy and innovation, Cara was previously Global Brand Manager of Jura and also worked on Dalmore Single Malt at Whyte and Mackay.

Fred and Cara now have an exciting opportunity to develop fresh, innovative, new brands for Douglas Laing. The first of these new brands – a premium Single Cask range – for the company is expected to be unveiled in September. Most recently Fred created and launched the Big Peat brand; a modern, quirky Islay malt with a big personality that continues to grow YOY, out-performing the Malt category. It has also won numerous awards, most recently stealing the show at the ISW International Spirits Awards 2013, to win ‘Grand Gold’.

Beyond innovation, Douglas Laing will continue to invest heavily in stocks appropriate to protect their malt, grain and blended core brands such as ‘Directors’ Cut’ and ‘Provenance’ both of which are performing well and out-pacing the Malt category with strong double digit growth. 

Douglas Laing brands include:

  • Single Malt: Provenance, Directors’ Cut, Premier Barrel
  • Single Grain: Clan Denny Grain
  • Blended Malt: Big Peat, Double Barrel,
  • Blended Scotch: King of Scots, McGibbons, Epicurean 

Fred Laing said: “This is the start of a fresh new chapter at Douglas Laing with our third generation and I’m delighted to have Cara join the company my father established over 60 years ago. I confess, she brings exceptional and arguably better experience in the industry than I do. She has a great head for business, and an energetic, creative take on what’s needed in the industry; a trait that’s particularly important given our determination to strengthen Douglas Laing’s niche as a progressive, innovative company.  We look forward to developing our current whiskies as well as our new brands, which are already in the pipeline.”

Douglas Laing_Cara

Cara added: “Douglas Laing has a long and interesting history; one that I’m delighted to officially be part of now. The company’s reputation has been built on being individual, never following the crowd and always insisting upon the best quality. Dad has been a massive inspiration to me as the driving force behind Douglas Laing, so I’m looking forward to working with him, strengthening the characteristics and brands that he introduced and emphasising our progressive, original spirit through clever marketing and strategic development.”

As has always been the case, Fred will continue to hand-select all of Douglas Laing’s casks as well as writing the tasting notes in conjunction with Malt Ambassador, Jan Beckers. Fred has also retained other key members of the original Douglas Laing team, including Finance Director Alick Bisset plus Head of Logistics Archie Hamilton and Head of Production Stephen Gardiner who cumulatively bring more than 50 years experience with the company. The 12 strong Douglas Laing team will be expanded on in the coming months with several senior new appointments.

Some further Douglas Laing & Co. information:

  • Established over 65 years ago, Douglas Laing & Co. is a leading independent Scotch Whisky blender and bottler specialising in the finest Single Cask bottlings.
  • The company was founded by Fred Douglas Laing in 1948 and is still owned and run by the Laing family.
  • The company philosophy is to bottle the way the distiller intended – at a high strength and non-chill-filtered to preserve the robust and unique character of the whisky. Douglas Laing’s industry reputation and many awards is testament to this ethos. 

For further information on Douglas Laing & Co, please contact Wire Media on 0141 440 6761

For further information on Hunter Laing & Co, please contact Steely Fox on 0131 524 6176

For further information, please contact Pamela Scobbie of Wire Media:, 07717874769. 

Talisker launches a Port-finished Single Malt – Port Ruighe

Talisker_Port RuigheTalisker, the only Single Malt Scotch Whisky rugged enough to call the Isle of Skye its home, has announced the launch of Port Ruighe. It is enriched by double maturation in port cask wood and has been named after the principal town and port on the Isle of Skye.

Like the recently released Talisker Storm, the newly launched Talisker Port Ruighe is a permanent addition to the current core range of Talisker single malt whiskies.

It has been bottled at the traditional Talisker strength of 45.8% ABV, without an age statement. It will be available from mid-April 2013 in whisky specialist retailers in Western European markets. Talisker Port Ruighe will have a Recommended Retail Price at a premium of 20/25% to the price of Talisker 10 year old.

For more information as well as the tasting notes for this new release, please visit the source link below.

News source – Whisky Intelligence

Some Talisker information:

  • The distillery was founded in 1830 and built in 1831 at Carbost. It was rebuilt in 1960 after a stillhouse fire completely destroyed the distillery.
  • Is currently still the only distillery on the Isle of Skye.
  • Talisker has an unusual feature – swan neck lye pipes. A loop exists in the pipes taking the vapour from the stills to the worm tubs so some of the alcohol condenses before it even reaches the cooler. It then runs back in to the stills and is distilled again.
  • In 1880 Robert Louis Stevenson described it, in his poem “The Scotsman’s Return From Abroad”, as “The king o’ drinks, as I conceive it, Talisker, Islay, or Glenlivet.”.
  • In “Assegai” by Wilbur Smith, General Penrod Ballantyne’s favoured whisky is Talisker.

Bowmore launches Tempest 4

bowmore-logo-smBowmore, Islay’s first Single Malt whisky, has announced the launch of Tempest 4 their next small batch release. It is non-chill-filtered and aged for a decade (in the legendary No 1 Vaults) in first fill bourbon casks. Less than 2,000 cases have been released worldwide.

The Tempest 4 has been described by Master Blender Rachel Barrie “Effervescent waves of citrus and ocean spice, tempered by warm ripples of smooth vanilla and wispy smoke”.

It has been bottled at 55.1% ABV. The RRP in UK for this release is £49.99 (around R700).

Tempest 4 is available from May.

For more information as well as the tasting notes for this new release, please visit the source link below.

News source –

Some Bowmore information (from

  • Founded over two centuries ago in 1779 and is the oldest Distillery on Islay.
  • Bowmore’s legendary No. 1 Vaults is the oldest maturation warehouse in Scotland and the only one below sea level.
  • One of only a handful of distilleries to still produce its own floor malted barley. Every 4 hours, the barley is hand turned by their Maltmen using traditional wooden malt shovels and hand drawn machinery.
  • Their malt is smoked in a peat-fired kiln.

Tamdhu to launch first malt since reopening

Tandhu_Smoky DramA once moth-balled Scottish distillery is to launch its first whisky since reopening. Iain Weir, Marketing Director for Ian Macleod Distillers, said: “Tamdhu was one of the first Speyside distilleries. It was built by a consortium of local entrepreneurs in 1897 on the banks of the River Spey. The Distillery was mothballed in 2010 and reopened in January 2012 and we have been perfecting the malt since then.”

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival will play host to the re-launch of this celebrated malt on Saturday, 4 May 2013. The Distillery open its doors for one day only giving whisky enthusiasts an opportunity to explore its confines.

The Event will also support the official global launch of the Tamdhu Core and Limited Edition Whisky, of which only 1000 bottles will be released in May. Tamdhu visitors will be among the first to taste and purchase these Tamdhu whiskies along-with other Tamdhu collectables.

Source –

Some Tamdhu Distillery History:

1897 – Established by Tamdhu Distillery Co Ltd

1976 – Tamdhu launched as a Single Malt

2010 – Closed by previous owner the Edrington Group

2011 – Ian Macleod Distillers Limited purchase Tamdhu Distillery

2013 – Re-launch of Tamdhu

Tamdhu means “little dark hill” in gaelic

The Tamdhu whisky is almost completely used for the production of blended whiskies, such as The Famous Grouse, J & B and Cutty Sark.

Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky – wins World Best Award

Bain's Cape Mountain Whisky Smoky DramOn 21 March 2013, Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky was named the World’s Best Grain Whisky at the annual World Whisky Awards.

Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky is South Africa’s first Single Grain whisky. Named after the pass builder, Andrew Geddes Bain, the whisky is crafted at the foot of his Bainskloof Pass at the James Sedgwick Distillery. The whisky is double matured in specially selected first-fill bourbon casks. After the initial three years’ maturation, the whisky is transferred to a second set of first-fill bourbon casks to age for a further two years while continuing to extract further flavour.

Congratulations to Andy Watts, master distiller of Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky and Jeff Green, distiller of Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky on this wonderful achievement.