Whisk(e)y Marketing School


By in Blog, Whiskies Comments Off on A Vault Visit – Duncan Taylor Clynelish 18yr

A Vault Visit – Duncan Taylor Clynelish 18yr

As students and guests donate whisky to the Whisky Vault at Whisky Marketing School, I try to make tasting videos as a thank you. I’m not really interested in videos that do yet one more variation of, “Hmmm what can I taste in this whisky?” I like to talk to you about the what and why of how whisky works, and compare it to a other things in our vault that come to mind as I sip.

Thanks to Alumnus, Michael Gray for this particular treat.

By in Blog, Whiskies Comments Off on Stop Freaking Out About Whisky Shortages

Stop Freaking Out About Whisky Shortages

We’re not running out of whisky.

Stop worrying about it, and start making plans for the amazing things you’re going to try in the next 15 years.

News organizations love a good emergency. Even if they have to make one up. If you’ve been online in the past month, or if friends know that you like to drink whisky, you’ve probably been forwarded a half dozen articles about the fact that we are RUNNING OUT OF WHISKY.

Calm down.

The truth is simple, obvious, and not at all surprising. And it’s not the end of the world.

Not sure about what I mean? Here’s one of the quotes that has fueled the fire, but (like most news articles) it seems no one is actually reading it. 

“The shortage of old and rare single malt… has already started, and it’s going to get worse,” Rickesh Kishnani, who launched the world’s first whisky investment fund, told [CNN].

Here’s the key part of the sentence. “Old and rare”.

Here is the dose of reality for the news outlets, and hope for the future.

Yes old, rare (and extremely expensive) whisky is running low because of the explosion of interest in whisky. Of course it’s running low. That’s exactly why it’s called “rare”. Is that surprising? Only to people who don’t drink whisky.

If you weren’t the kind of person who could spend 4 figures on a single bottle of whisky, it’s going to affect you about as much as a dramatic increase in the cost of haute couture.

An example in the article is a bottle of 30yr old Bowmore that used to go for $110 in 1994 and now costs around $7,000. Is that too much for one bottle of whisky? Not to people who can afford $7,000 for a bottle of whisky. And you know the most shocking part of that to me? Bowmore 30yr used to cost $110. That’s incredible to the point of criminal.

Let’s be honest. It’s shocking how inexpensive whisky has been for so long. I don’t mind a price increase in the daily bottles I buy. I’ve always felt mildly guilty that I can buy something a distiller spent 20 years making for only $100-$200. Makes me feel a bit like a bandit of some sort. Which is fun, actually.

I remember finding a Signatory Fettercairn 1996 for only $50 at a local store. I bought it with cash and ran out the door hoping the manager wouldn’t recognize the mistake before I could escape. Turns out, that was the market rate at the time.

The truth is that you are living in the golden age of whisky. In the next 10 years, you will get to taste and experience whiskies that we’ve only dreamed of limited only by the imagination of distillers across the world.

In 15 years, the market will be flooded with astounding varieties of beautifully mature whisky, and hopefully hundreds of new options in the under 12yr market.

If you’re just getting into whisky, you couldn’t have picked a better time. If you’ve been drinking whisky for years, the best is still yet to come.

Let them rant about shortages all they want. Those of us who truly love whisky and the people who make it are in this for the long haul. Overblown emergencies be damned.

By in Blog, Whiskies Comments Off on The Whisky Vault

The Whisky Vault

If you’re going to teach people about whisky, you have to have options for them to make comparisons. We took that seriously.

Our whisky vault currently has over 400 unique whiskies and counting. All thanks to donations from students and the whisky industry. Next time you are on campus, let me know. We can do a nice visit to the vault a tour of some of the best whiskies in the world.

If you want to help it grow, we would be ever so grateful.

Whisky Vault

By in Blog, Whiskies Comments Off on North British 53 yr old 1961 (cask 10708) Xtra Old Particular by Douglas Laing

North British 53 yr old 1961 (cask 10708) Xtra Old Particular by Douglas Laing

Day Twenty Four in the Whisky Advent Calendar

*In this series, I’m working my way through the 2015 Master of Malt Whisky Advent.

It has been quite the ride this year with the Master of Malt Whisky Advent Calendar. There is no question that I will be doing this every year.

Today’s whisky is worth the purchase price of the entire thing.

North British 53 yr old 1961 (cask 10708) Xtra Old Particular by Douglas Laing.

Holy Cow. At $442/ bottle, this glass of whisky would run you an easy $100. That’s half the cost of the whole advent calendar.

Well played, gentlemen. As I’m typing this, I’ve already poured the glass. I keep getting strong whiffs of cinnamon bread and licorice. Tasted buds are watering.


This is a Douglas Laing product. Independent Scotch whisky experts established in 1948 by Fred Douglas Laing, they hand select from the rarest and finest whisky stocks in Scotland. I’ve had a few bottles from Douglas Laing, and they are all lovely whiskies.

The company is the third generation of the Laing family at this point, and their whole goal is to get you as close as possible to trying a whisky straight out of a barrel.


This whisky went into the barrel in 1961. That’s before my dad started elementary school. Hot damn. It’s one of 186 bottles.

As I already said, the nose is all licorice, cinnamon bread, butter, and oak.

I think because it is cask strength, but the oak and smoke show up strong in spite of the age. Which makes me love it more. The aftertaste is all molasses and almond pound cake.

There are so many amazing things happening in this whisky, it’s hard to just pick one great thing.

I’m going to stop typing and enjoy the rest in peace. Just know that, if you own a bottle of this, it’s $500 well spent.

By in Blog, Whiskies Comments Off on Glenfiddich 18yr Old

Glenfiddich 18yr Old

Day Twenty Three in the Whisky Advent Calendar

*In this series, I’m working my way through the 2015 Master of Malt Whisky Advent. I had surgery in the middle, so we’re behind on the official dates.

Glenfiddich. Maybe the best distribution program of any single malt scotch.

Head to any bar in the US, and you have a 70% chance that, even if they only carry one scotch, it will be Glenfiddich. I’m not sure whether that’s because their reps are that amazing, the distribution is that good, or whether the world just loves itself some Glenfiddich.

I’ve avoided it in the past because of how common it is. That’s a mistake. Just because it is everywhere doesn’t mean it should to be taken for granted.

It’s time I gave it a shot.

Their video has music that’s a bit too cheesy/overbearing for my taste, but it’s very informative. It’s at the bottom of this review.


Glenfiddich is a Speyside distillery owned by William Grant & Sons. Their name means “Valley of the Deer” in Gaelic which is why the stag shows up on their labels.

It was founded in 1886 by William Grant. Their first production ran through the stills on Christmas of 1887 which makes its spot in the Whisky Advent Calendar particularly apt.

If you know your history, you’ll remember that US Prohibition nearly wiped out the whisky market it Scotland and Ireland. Glenfiddich was one of the only distilleries that actually increased production during that time. When whisky demand returned, they were perfectly positioned to take charge.

Reading the history of Glenfiddich is like reading the personal story of a really incredible marketing genius. It seems, at every turn, Grant & Sons spotted opportunities before everyone else and had the balls to pursue them. That’s likely the reason you find them just about everywhere you can order scotch.


The 18 yr old Glenfiddich is a Oloroso sherry aged and bourbon aged whisky. I’m guessing that’s going to give an already caramel leaning region even more sweetness.

The first smell does present the expected caramel notes, but I also get old dried wood. Not smoky, just earthy.

The taste has all the expected smoothness you would expect from a well-rounded Speyside. It’s not overly sweet, but the sherry notes are a bit clingy.

It has a saltier finish than I would have expected, but it’s mild.

I think anyone wanting to introduce someone to Scotch without having them experience the culture shock of Laphroig would do well to start with Glenfiddich. It’s not as sugar-sweet as Glenrothes, but it is still accessible and smooth.

So you in a bar sometime soon, Glenfiddich. 


By in Blog, Whiskies Comments Off on Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey

Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey

Day Twenty Two in the Whisky Advent Calendar

*In this series, I’m working my way through the 2015 Master of Malt Whisky Advent. I had surgery in the middle, so we’re behind on the official dates.

It’s Irish Whiskey time. Teeling is new to me, but I have their single malt in the whisky vault at the school, and it’s one of my go to Irish whiskies when I’m not drinking scotch.

Teeling Whiskey Tube

Teeling Whiskey Tube


Teeling dates back to 1782, and is one of the older Irish whisky families. In some form or fashion, the Teeling family has stayed involved in the whisky trade every since.

The new Teeling distillery, started by Jack and Stephen Teeling, is the first new distillery in Dublin in 125 years marking a return to the days when Irish whiskey ruled the world. It’s just down the road from the original distillery, and it has 3 copper pot stills which makes it a true return historically to the origins of the craft.

On a small interesting footnote, Jack and Stephen’s dad, John, founded the Cooley distillery. They are now owned by Diageo (just like everything. Including possibly, this computer I’m typing on). The Cooley distillery produced Kilbeggan, Greenore, Connemara, Tyrconnell, and 2 Gingers.


Teeling Small Batch. I’m looking forward to trying this one.

On a small side note, I was drinking Lagavulin tonight when I realized I had forgotten to review the next day’s whisky. There’s a solid chance that even after the water I just drank and the bread I just chewed, it’s going to change my experience of the whiskey. My apologies.

Irish whiskey has such a different nose profile. I love it, but it always takes me a few minutes to get into the headspace to figure out what I smell.

I still get caramel like I do in most Irish whiskey, but it’s mixed with a tangy/sour note that reminds me of green apples. Oddly enough, the first thing that popped into my head was the smell I get when changing the ink on an ink pen. A sort of industrial deep note of something heavy. It’s a weird thing, because now that I’ve typed that, I can’t seem to repeat it.

Let’s chalk it up to late night and too much Lagavulin.

The taste is killer. Maybe one of the best Irish whiskies I’ve tried up to now. I think I figured out the industrial thing. I pick up lemon in the taste now. It reminds me of those fake lemon flavored wet wipes for cleaning kitchen counters.

I think the lemon notes mixed with alcohol reminds me of those cleaning supplies. But now that I know it, I can ignore the alcohol part of that equation, I just get lemon, apples, and vanilla. There’s a slight bite on the end, which makes me think it’s got rye, or it’s the higher alcohol content.

Okay, I cheated now. I just looked on their website to see what they did to it. It turns out.. Rum barrels. That must be the nice rich sweetness I’m finding inside the vanilla and fruit combinations.

I like this one. If it’s any example of the future of Teeling, count me in for the ride.

By in Blog, Whiskies Comments Off on Dalwhinnie Winter’s Gold

Dalwhinnie Winter’s Gold

Day Twenty One in the Whisky Advent Calendar

*In this series, I’m working my way through the 2015 Master of Malt Whisky Advent. I had surgery in the middle, so we’re behind on the official dates.

Back to Speyside. If you’ve been reading, you already know that Speyside is not my favorite region. I usually find them too sweet and light compared to the heavier smokier scotches of my preferred region of Islay.

But I’m an equal opportunity whisky drinker. No whisky need feel ashamed in my presence. However, Dalwhinnie is so far on the edge of the southwest corner of the Speyside region, it’s often considered a Highland even by the distillery itself.

But I think regions have more to do with taste than geography, so I’ll pick a side at the end.


Dalwhinnie is located in the Grampian mountain range and is one of the remotest distilleries in the mainland. It’s also one of the highest at 1,070 feet.

It started in 1897, and carried on in fits and starts consistently from that point until today. It’s currently owned by Diageo, like most things these days. There’s a small chance that Diageo actually owns the chair I’m sitting in right now. I haven’t looked at the label.

Diageo only sets aside a small percentage of the distillery’s product to single malts preferring to use the rest in the Black and White blends.


This is Dalwhinnie Winter’s Gold. It’s an expression release that Dalwhinnie says is made with spirits distilled between October and March. They call it crafted with cold. They even recommend freezing the whisky before serving.

That depresses me. If you know anything about how taste works, you know that extreme temperatures have the effect of burying the majority of the flavors. That’s why you market crappy beer as “coldest in the world” and it’s why horrendous coffee can only be consumed when almost scalding hot.

When a distillery says “Make it ice cold!”, what I hear is, “Try not to taste it too much!”

Hopefully that’s the product of some marketing asshat, and for the purposes of this tasting, we’ll just ignore them.

I always say you can spot a Speyside whisky very consistently if butterscotch and caramel are the dominant flavors you pick up in the smell. By that comparison, Dalwhinnie starts as a Speyside with a bit of a grassy undertone.

And it’s a good thing we didn’t freeze it. As you drink it the flavor actually shows up a bit. It’s not dramatic, but it’s nowhere near the kind of blandness that deserves to be buried like some blends I could name.

I think the spicy notes in the taste are mostly cinnamon, and they mostly disappear by the third sip.

It’s a good whisky. It’s simple, but tasty. It definitely doesn’t deserve the marketing schtick of destroying it with the business end of a freezer.

By in Blog, Whiskies Comments Off on Isle of Jura 12yr old Elixir

Isle of Jura 12yr old Elixir

Day Twenty in the Whisky Advent Calendar

*In this series, I’m working my way through the 2015 Master of Malt Whisky Advent. I had surgery in the middle, so we’re behind on the official dates.

isle-of-jura-elixir-12-year-old-whiskyWe’re back on Jura! This time it’s an age statement whisky from Jura called “Elixir”.


I’ve already covered the Isle of Jura in my review of their “Superstition” Expression.

Instead, I’ll just let you watch this awesome video that Jura Whisky produced about their island.




First impressions are that it’s going to taste like everything I love about Island whisky. A bit fruity, nice wood notes, and hints of smoke and salt.

The taste is no different. The first sip is all fruit. It’s the kind of fruit that bursts in your mouth when you bite into it. Something like a plum or a red grape (sweet not bitter) would be the closest I come to explaining it.

Then, right in the middle, the oak wood shows up and brings the salt with it.

As you swallow, you’re left with a kind of dryness in your mouth like you get from a red wine with heavy tannins.

It’s extremely balanced, easy to drink, has no sharp edges, and just enough character to be interesting but not abrasive.

I’ll be keeping this in the vault. No question.

By in Blog, Whiskies Comments Off on The Lost Distilleries Blend; Batch 7

The Lost Distilleries Blend; Batch 7

Day Nineteen in the Whisky Advent Calendar

*In this series, I’m working my way through the 2015 Master of Malt Whisky Advent. I had surgery in the middle, so we’re behind on the official dates.

For the very first time, we get to try a product specifically from Master of Malt! And once again , it’s here to reinforce that blended whiskies can be really great tasting whisky.


The Lost Distilleries Blends are whiskies blended from various distilleries (both malt and grain) that have sadly closed their doors and no longer operate. Each batch is made up of different distilleries, and they’re created by “The Blended Whisky Company” which was established in 2011.

According to their site, the Lost Distilleries Blend; Batch 7 is made up of Port Ellen, Caperdonich, Mosstowie, Glenisla, Glenlochy and Imperial Scotch malt whiskies as well as grain from Port Dundas.

That’s quite the family tree!


Right up front, I find bits of spice in the nose. It reminds me of the Fettercairn I had a few days back, but it’s a bit creamier. Think of vanilla, cream cheese and a hint of smoke. Actually, now that I think about it, I think the smoke is responsible for what I first interpreted as spice. Either that, or there is rye grain in this blend somewhere.

This is really tasty. It would hold its own with any blend I’ve had from Compass Box, and it’s got a bit more punch to the taste. Now that I’ve tasted it, I definitely think there is rye in this mix somewhere.

But the final flavor finishes with the rich sweet taste that the nose promised.

The after taste is smoke and cream. Like really dark espresso with two cubes of sugar and Devonshire Cream.

I’d buy a bottle if I could find the stomach to drop the $500 necessary to get it to Austin, TX from Master of Malt.