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The whisky world as seen by an eccentric Bavarian exile

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May 2010






































































































































































































































































































































































































The whole of May's Dram-atics is given over to various guest writers as they become stranded on a remote island and are asked to select which whiskies and whisky items they would wish to have with them in

"Desert Island Drams"

Sorry folks, that boat is out of reach and you are stranded on an uninhabited  remote island with no companions and sadly, no distillery. The remit is simple, you may choose certain items that have miraculously been saved from the ocean's depths and have been washed ashore with you, fully intact.

So, what would be your choices when it comes to:

  • One whisky related book

  • One type of (whisky) glass

  • Two bottles of whisky which don't have to be the same

  • One case of six bottles of whisky which are all the same

  • One further whisky-related item which may not be actual whisky

I would like to know not only which items you would choose, but also your reasoning why you have chosen those over any other possibilities, so let your imaginations rule and I look forward to your own personal choices.


It's Monday 31st May and sadly, this Desert Island Drams series is drawing to a close, but it is doing so on another high as I get my revenge on Mark Gillespie of WhiskyCast. In December 2008 Mark interviewed me after I opened a whisky bar in Munich, the interview was fun and I was grateful for the exposure it gave me in the whisky world at that time. The bar is now closed, but I remember the interview fondly and I now have great pleasure in returning the favour by banishing Mark to my little island paradise. I guess he is now a WhiskyCast-away! Over to you Mark ...

As I write this, I’m flying over the Atlantic Ocean at 35,000 feet on my way to Scotland. No chance of being stranded on a desert island here…in fact, the most likely island I’d get stranded on is Iceland. Wonder what dram would go well with volcanic ash?

In any case, the challenge is to come up with one or two drams that I’d hope to have on hand were I to be stranded on a desert island. The most logical choices would be whatever I could salvage from the airplane’s beverage cart. In fact, there’s a TV commercial for Bud Light airing in the U.S. with just such a premise as the survivors of an airplane crash celebrate on finding an intact beverage cart full of Bud Light. Personally, I’d consider that a fate worse than death.  In fact, volcanic ash might make Bud Light almost palatable.

If I stick with this premise, the logical choices would be 12-year-old Glenlivet or Glenfiddich, perhaps Johnnie Walker Black Label, or perhaps Jack Daniel’s or a bourbon (even though my US Airways flight has no bourbon on board, just The Glenlivet, Jack, and Canadian Club). Nothing extravagant or extraordinary, but all are good, solid (or liquid) choices.

Now, if we could bring back the good old days when it was possible to get a flask (or two) through airline security, the choices increase exponentially. I have a small medicine bottle of 50-year-old Glen Grant that distillery manager Dennis Malcolm gave me a couple of years ago that I could probably nurse for a couple of days. Perhaps some 30-year-old Highland Park, 21-year-old Glenlivet, or something along those lines.

I’m flying to Islay for Feis Ile, but somehow, the many drams to be found on that island probably wouldn’t be appropriate for a desert island. I’m basing that on general taste, and certainly not on quality. Islay drams would be better for being stranded on Iceland or another cooler climate. Now, the fact that many would work well with seafood has me re-thinking that, since I’d have to pair the desert island dram with the available food choices and I’d be doing a lot of fishing.

Cask-strength whiskies probably wouldn’t be appropriate, either. They’d be better with a splash of water, and that’s a rarity on desert islands that I’d need for other purposes.

I think that what I’m being asked to do here is essentially the same thing I’ve often asked in my interviews. Specifically, to name the last dram I’d pick to savor before I die. Having heard me ask that so many times, I’ve been asked the same question by listeners, and my answer has always been the same: “I haven’t found it yet.”

I think I may have come close, though. During my last trip to Scotland in April, Michael Urquhart of Gordon & MacPhail gave me the chance to taste a 70-year-old Mortlach. Now, I’ve always appreciated Mortlach’s single malts, but this one was exquisite. It was full of flavor, not a hint of woodiness, and as vibrant as whiskies decades younger. In fact, it’s one of only two whiskies that I’ve scored a 98 (the other being the 1964 Gold Bowmore)!

I have a 10ml vial of the Mortlach that was part of Gordon & MacPhail’s press kit. It’s small enough to fit in a 3-1-1 bag, and I suppose I could carry it on my flights as a talisman against being stranded on a desert island. Personally, I’d rather save it for a perfect wintry night by the fire…and if I ever find myself on a desert island, I’ll settle for what’s in the beverage cart.

Mark Gillespie

(*Please note that I may have advertising contracts for WhiskyCast with one or more of the whiskies mentioned in this blog posting now or in the future. However, that has not played a role in whether I chose to mention them here. I mention this in the interests of transparency.)



In order to properly introduce you to my latest 'guest' on the island, I first have to explain a little about my Whisky Emporium website; I first designed the site after a little basic introduction to Microsoft's FrontPage by another friend back in 2004. It started life as more of a personal site and home to some of my older attempts at photography, as well as a few whisky features. It stumbled along for a while and then I added a small shop section which focused on more unusual and 'collectible' bottles until I finally decided it needed a total redesign during the summer of 2009. At that time I bounced a few ideas around the WhiskyX3 forum and was delighted by the help and advice offered by one particular member. He diligently assisted me in finding a great new format or 'look & feel' to the site along with creating my logo, all of which you see online today.

At the peak of the period between 2004 to October 2009 I was delighted to be receiving up to 150 'hits' per day on Whisky Emporium, it felt good that so many people were interested in what I was doing. But since October 2009 when the 'new' Whisky Emporium came online this has exploded with up to 600 hits per day and is still growing. For this I can't thank my next guest enough, so welcome to Matthew Smedley of TheWhiskyReview and sorry it has to be this way, but you're now cast away!

Thanks Keith, I'm a relative newcomer to the world of whisky, having been consuming it for just a little over 3 years. During this time I have managed to start a Manchester whisky club, sat on the Co-operative whisky tasting panel and created a whisky website. The latter of these achievements harks back in someway to my day job in process improvements. Whilst starting this journey in whisky I was rather daunted by conflicting tasting notes and confused by the various scoring systems. So to try and improve this situation for future newbies, I started a website where users can log their tasting notes & scores on a pre-defined format. This will enable the database in the background to evaluate the tasting notes and scores, find others with similar tastes and give reviews comprising average scores of all users of the site and also just those with similar palates. This should help people find both individuals with similar tastes and whisk(e)y rated highly by people with similar tastes. Now let's get down to business with my island choices;

One whisky-related book; I am definitely not going to want a review or tasting note book. The reason for this is it would be torture as I will never know when, if ever, I would get the opportunity to sample any of them (unless this island has an off-licence? No? Didn't think so). So to my mind it does not leave much, so I am going to go with the Malt Whisky Yearbook (any year, or all if it's allowed?) as it has lots of interesting information around the world of whisky and not just tasting notes (it does have these in later editions).

One whisky glass; As most of the castaways have stated so far, I would have to go for the Glencairn. If for no other reason than the durability. There is also, for me, another factor though. When I first made my mind up to get into whisky (it was not love at first sight, I had to work at it), I decided to try the most tolerable malt I had in several different glasses to determine the way I should continue my journey. So I do not overly bore you with the details, it is suffice to say that I tried many glasses (SMWS , Glencairn, Tumbler, brandy, rocker and port) and the Glencairn came out on top.
To add an extra dimension to this, I will choose the Glencairn etched with "The Whisky Lounge 1st Newcastle Festival 2009" as it was an amazing event that truly immersed me in the whisky world without any armbands!

Two bottles of whisky which do not have to be the same; The 1st one is very easy, I would have to go for the recent record breaking largest whisky bottle in the world (Containing 105.3 litres 46% abv of Tomintoul 14 year old Malt Whisky) Just to ensure I have enough. The 2nd is a harder task as I now have to be more serious and ask myself what I really want in order to offer an every now and again variation to what I have opted for in my case of 6 (and of course the giant Tomintoul bottle). I think for a little light relief (especially important of the island is too hot) I will go for the Bladnoch bottling of 37 year old Invergordon single grain whisky. A beautiful dram with hints of coconut on the palate, perfect for a desert island!

One case of 6 bottles which do have to be the same; This is a tough one, I am having trouble deciding between Lagavulin 16, Poit Dubh 12 and Laphroaig Cairdeas 2009 Feis Ile bottling. All of these are great drams that I could easily enjoy everyday but only one of them is cask strength so I suppose it makes sense to go for that as it will stretch further if watered down to standard strength (if it came to that!).

One other whisky-related item which may not be actual whisky; This would have to be a solar powered satellite phone with built in web browser so that I could keep up with all the online happenings in the world of whisky. Not sure how I could ever get by being completely alone, whisky is always better shared, even if it is virtually!
If this is not available then a return ticket please!


Known to many on twitter as Bruich_Sales, Donald is Regional Sales Manager at Bruichladdich and must be the envy of many as he already lives and works on a paradise island! Unfortunately, this is no excuse for escaping my banishment and being cast away on this lump of rock somewhere in rather warmer climes than Hebridean islands generally offer. Donald, welcome to your exile and I wonder how much Bruichladdich you'll be taking along, or if your chosen 'extra item' will be a certain distillery in its entirety?

1 Whisky (related) book; I’ve read many a whisky book and while most are good, they are always out of date as soon as they are published as the industry changes so quickly! So, for a change, I would take a book on the history of Rum and Rum distillation as I’ve just learnt that in the 18th century, Glasgow used to be a major Rum producer as it was a huge sugar trading port. So I’m off to see what books are available before I land on that desert island. Not only will this be my dream book for a desert island, if it teaches me how to produce rum on the island then what a bonus!

1 Whisky glass; I’d take a large glass tumbler, the bigger the better. Forget tasting glasses and delicate sipping glasses. I want a whisky glass that is also suitable for my fresh coconut juice in the morning and whisky cocktails in the afternoon.

2 bottles of whisky which don't have to be the same; Tough one! I’d go for a Springbank 15yo and Port Ellen 15yo both distilled in the 1970/80’s as many a million whisky drinkers have sworn, the Port Ellen and Springbank distillates from the 70’s were the best ever. Well, I’d love to try them too and on the island I would have them all to myself!!

1 case of 6 bottles which do have to be the same; The Bruichladdich 15yo matured in d’Yquem cask. I know I work for Bruichladdich but this whisky is genuinely just a superb dram! It equally suits a fresh seafood lunch, an afternoon whisky cocktail or a late-night campfire dram. And not forgetting a wee nightcap!

1 other whisky related item of your choice, but not a whisky itself; A cask - to mature my Desert Island Rum in, fish & swim from and eventually sail away on once all the lovely drams are finished.


I understand that todays 'guest' is indeed stranded on an island at the moment, but not a desert one as he's currently enjoying Feis Ile 2010, lucky chap! Anyway, I have no qualms in plucking Neil of the superb CaskStrength blog from his reveries on Ileach and unceremoniously dumping him on my remote piece of paradise for eternity. so, I guess it's over to you ... errmmm Lord Charles.

Desert Island drams.  An almost impossibly tricky subject for anyone who has at least more than 5 whiskies within their cabinet.  But an intriguing thought.  What if one were stuck somewhere for a considerable length of time, with access to only 1 or at best, 2-3 whiskies??


Given the scenario, I can well imagine even the strongest of fellows weeping into their empty Glencairn and beating their fist into the sun-bleached desert sand, their anguished cries of "why didn't I bring the 18yo with me!!"resonating around the baron landscape.

So where would I start.  Lets's approach this from a real-life Point of view. Rather like actually being stranded on a desert island, you need certain things, essential for your survival.

For your shelter, you need a strong and durable base.  If we're thinking whisky here, this would have to be something solid, reliable and... ultimately dependable.  For this important role I would have to choose a bottle of Lagavulin 16yo.  Time and time again it is the one dram I return to, which delivers consistently and just wraps itself around you like a blanket. That homely aroma, that velvety finish. It's almost like a well worn pair of slippers... so in that sense, I have actually covered 2 of my basic needs- Shelter and clothing! Yay...

I suppose you'd also need some kind of refreshment or sustenance on the island and with that in mind, I'd slip out a bottle of SMS Rosebank- the caskstrength 14yo which Whisky Exchange released several years ago.  Lemon zest, vanilla, wonderful floral notes and, at its heart, a rich buttery mouthfeel, which will sate even the largest of appetites.  To paraphrase an old Irish saying - 'What butter and whisky cannot cure, cannot be cured'. So on my island, I would now be fed, watered and never fall ill. This is going brilliantly!

I now have my shelter and my sustenance.  I suppose my final request would be some form of entertainment.  Tricky this, as the mind can start to play all kinds of games with you on a desert island, so you A: Need to choose something that you won't ever get bored with and B: Will keep delivering new surprises every time, thus stimulating the mind, body and spirit.

There are many contenders here, but in all honesty, it would come down to 2 whiskies. I know... that's 4 whiskies and not 3, but it's MY desert island and I have a slightly larger piece of luggage than I first thought, so i'm bringing a 4th bottle!!

For sheer entertainment-on-the-palate value, I would bring Master Of Malt's recent 26yo Bowmore bottling.  One minute it's all zingy citrus, next it's parma violets, then childhood Refresher sweets and just when you think it can't dance another style, the soft peat comes waltzing in.  I smile every time I drink this whisky and think they must have been doing some crazy things at the distillery, back in the early 1980s!!

Once the entertainment is over, I suppose you need a lover, a companion to curl up with before heading off to bed.  For this role I would have to take a bottle of Yamazaki 18yo.  It is worldly, tells a great story, is rich, fruity, sometimes sultry and when it wants to be, it can be utterly charming and... a bit sexy.  Maybe too much information there, but I suppose if you're going to be confessional, might as well do it on a desert island. 

Come and visit me some time, it's a great place to live...!


Neil.  www.caskstrength.net



Today I have great pleasure in banishing Tim of The Whisky Exchange to my desert island. Tim is master of TWE's Blog so I'm sure he will feel at home on an island once inhabited by so many other bloggers and internet gurus. Over to you Tim and welcome to my little paradise island ....

One whisky-related book
On a recent trip to Royal Lochangar I found a real treasure in their famous library: Samuel Morewood's History of Inebriating Liquors, or to give it it's full title 'A Philosophical And Statistical History Of The Inventions And Customs Of Ancient And Modern Nations In The Manufacture And Use Of Inebriating Liquors; With The Present Practice Of Distillation In All Its Varieties: Together With An Extensive Illustration Of The Consumption And Effects Of Opium, And Other Stimulants Used In The East, As Substitutes For Wine & Spirits'.

Published in 1838, the first editions of these are now on Amazon for over £1000, but I am awaiting my reprinted copy to arrive with bated breath. Every page is a delight, filled with exhaustive detail and peppered with brilliant anecdotes such as the following gem regarding the early drinking practices in the Western Isles:

"Martin, in his History of the Western Isles, says it was deemed a breach of hospitality among persons of distinction to broach a cask of aqua vitae and not see it finished at the time. If any of the party retired for a few minutes, he was obliged, on his return, before he sat down, to make an apology in rhyme for his absence, which if unable to perform he was compelled to discharge such a share of the reckoning as the company thought proper to impose. This custom, which is yet prevalent, is termed Beanchiy Bard, signifying the Poet's congratulation.

You can check out Morewood's History online here:
http://bit.ly/c56p0e. I can't recommend it enough.

One whisky glass
I would have to go for the Copita, specifically our SMOS glass. I know it's not practical on an island, but for me it is the perfect glass for nosing and tasting, so I'll just have to take care of it. If it breaks, I'm not too proud to drink from the bottle, or maybe I'll just hollow out a coconut shell.

Two bottles of whisky which do not have to be the same
Tough call. Firstly, I'd have to go for The Bowmore 1964 35yo bottled for Oddbins - 99 bottles only, bottled from a single cask that was deemed too good to be blended for Black Bowmore:
http://www.thewhiskyexchange.com/select ... hisky.aspx

Yes, it's a bit pricey, but this is the best Bowmore of all time in my opinion, and every drop is awe-inspiring.

My other choice would be the sherried Port Ellen 12yo bottled at 100-proof by James MacArthur in the 1970s - I tasted this with Sukhinder and Charlie MacLean perhaps five years ago and it was simply magnificent. There were only a couple of inches left in the bottle but the intensity was astonishing. Perhaps the best whisky I've ever had, certainly one of my fondest whisky memories.

One case of 6 bottles which do have to be the same
This is a real toughie, but I'm going for a case of 1950s or earlier White Horse, when there was a lot of top-end Lagavulin in the mix. The bottles are also really beautiful and the empties will look good on the mantelpiece of my shack. Drunk today, these have an ethereal beauty - silky, gossamer-like but still packing gorgeous flavours. Also, there's a good chance that it still came in wooden cases by the dozen back then, so twice the amount of whisky and something to sit on, which is a bonus.

One other whisky-related item which may not be actual whisky
Surely it has to be an Ardbeg Chopper? I'll have the black one, please.
Perfect for cruising round the island in the mornings before a spot of sunbathing, a dip in the sea and then a large whisky in the afternoon under a palm tree with Morewood's History. Tell the rescue party not to bother, I'll be fine...


We begin this last week of Desert Island Drams on a real high by banishing one of my favourite and most knowledgeable whisky characters to the island. Teun comes from Holland and has become a great (cyber) friend over the last few years. He owns a superb collection and is also an organisor of the radical "MaltStock" event held in Holland each Autumn. He is also known on various forums (or is it forii?) as "Laddie Teun".

Welcome to my island and after seeing your request for your 'case of 6' I'm only surprised you didn't ask for the model who went with it as your "extra item", enjoy your stay Teun!

1 Whisky (related) book; The Whisky Kitchen – great for whisky and des(s)erts

Although I would also consider "Peat, Smoke and Spirit" – because it is a great book and also about an island. And has lots of paper to light a fire.

But how about “how to distil whisky on a desert island” – hopefully a book written before I am stranded on a desert island.

1 Whisky glass
For the whisky a basic tulip shaped glass. Although might consider a big heavy tumbler… Might be handy for cracking open a few coconuts.

2 bottles of whisky which don't have to be the same; Lochside, 21y, oct 1987 – dec 2008, 62,3%, cask 20622, Scotch Single Malt Circle. Love Lochside. Besides it has so much fruit, it will save me the trouble of picking fruits.

Ardbeg, Lord of the Isles. Not the best ever Ardbeg, but probably the most suitable. And conveniently already comes with a coffin. Just in case I will not survive the island.

1 case of 6 bottles which do have to be the same. That record breaking big bottle of Tomintoul. So I would have plenty of whisky and afterwards I can build a raft with the bottles.

Or Brora (Platinum, 1972, 29y). Because it is great whisky and it has a tropical sound “Brora Brora”

1 other whisky related item of your choice, but not a whisky itself; A good friend to share the whisky with. My best whisky is the one drunk in good company.


Well this is a fine kettle of fish; marooned on this God forsaken lump of ancient coral, lovingly adorned with pestilent filled mangrove swamps. Prefect.


Time to do a hasty inventory of the essential items that I managed to gather up before the ship gasped its least breath (more like a hippo farting) and slipped beneath the surface of the lagoon.


1 whisky (related) book. This is a bit of luck, “Return to the Glen” by Richard Grindal. Deserves a higher standing among whiskyphiles. Lots of stunning pictures of Scotland which is good, I won’t have to over tax the old brain box with lots of pesky complicated words like ‘worm tub’ and ‘blended malt’ (who the hell thought that little gem up??). If I had the new SWA regs I’d have toilet paper too!


2 bottles of whisky, which are not the same. Right, good thing I managed to ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ as all hell broke out. A little smugness here at having secured a Laphroaig 18yo and an Aberlour 18yo. Comfort for the long evenings ahead. Must be careful to ration my daily intake to stretch these out. Should be good for a week, at least.  Good thing the Aberlour 18 was the Christmas bottling; it came with a free Glencairn! All smiles here.


1 case of 6 bottles which are the same. Things are looking up! 6 bottles of Dew of Ben Nevis 12yo blend, what a cracker of blend and only £22; a nip with the mid-day fine dining experience of land crab and coconut should make things bearable. I can use the empty bottles to send messages or build a raft! Or even put fireflies inside and make a lamp!


1 other whisky-related item, which may NOT be actual whisky. Pfft! My American Express card of course! When I get of this lump of coral I’m going to need to buy more whisky…


Lawrence, it's a good job that Aberlour came with the Glencairn glass otherwise you'd have been stuck having to swig out of the bottles, but at least unlike many other of my guests, it's good to see you came properly dressed for the occasion!


Lawrence is a confirmed Maniac (of the Malty kind) and is also the 'Intelligence' behind the extremely informative 'Whisky Intelligence' website where he keeps us all up to date on the latest happenings in the world of whisky.


Thanks again kind sir and enjoy your stay, but it may be some time before you get to use that Amex card.





Craig McGill is my guest today; he has been a journalist and traditional PR Director, but has now turned his attention towards the new-fangled and modern world of digital communications or what we now know as 'Social Media', where he runs a business called Contently Managed. In addition he is a proud father to the extent that he runs a separate blog about his kids, the second of which I understand has now progressed from a 'bump' to joining the world. Congratulations Craig, but that's no excuse to be spared your banishment to my little desolate island with no communications (digital or otherwise) and certainly no nappies!

1 Whisky (related) book; That's easy - Raw Spirit by Iain Banks. I know a lot of people don't like it but I thought it was a great read, hitting the right notes for me, giving me interesting detail while not being over-technical.

1 Whisky glass;  I have a set of crystal whisky glasses which would be the must have. Now I know that may upset the purists who insist on a Capitcha glass but these were bought for me by my father so I'd go for them for the sentimental reason. Having said that, if I could find one of the little stub glasses that used to be so prevalent in Glasgow bars (and were a favourite of my grandfather) I'd take one of them instead. Again, more for sentimentality than anything else.

2 bottles of whisky which don't have to be the same; Ohhh...if I mention Whyte & Mackay or Jura I'll be shouted down for being nice purely because they are clients, so leaving them out, it would have to be the Auchentoshan 12, which is a very nice, very west coast of Scotland whisky. It was the first whisky I could actually enjoy after spending years looking for a whisky that I could enjoy when out and about. The second one would have to be a rare bottle of Scottish Leader 30 year old, which was given to me in a commemorative case and bottle by my father for a special event.

1 case of 6 bottles which do have to be the same; No contest. The recent Jura Boutique Barrel - 1995 which has been in bourbon casks. A sheer delight to drink, especially on warm evenings and perfect for summer - or being on a desert island! Also, I could use the case as a very small boat when I wanted to leave.

1 other whisky related item of your choice, but not a whisky itself; Ohhh... would I take a BrewDog Paradox whisky beer? The newly announced whisky floorboards in Scotland? Richard Paterson or Willie Tait? An iPad loaded with whisky apps and websites? I think it would have to be Richard P. After all it would be good to have company and with his nose you wouldn't struggle for food or anything...


Today I have pleasure in banishing someone quite local to my island. Oliver is more of a native Bavarian than my exiled self and as you will see below, is a self-proclaimed apprentice anorak in the world of whisky. Anyway, welcome to the island Oliver and may you make yourself as comfortable as possible.

My name is Oliver Klimek and I suffer - or should I say enjoy - a split personality. After my daytime job as stamp dealer is finished I turn into a whisky blogger. My blog is called Whisky Rating and not only do I like sticking numbers to whisky bottles, I am also interested in anything else about whisky; from barley varieties to marketing stunts. My track record of malts is way below that of some of the other old hats around here, so you might want to call me an apprentice anorak.

Being banished to a desert island needs careful planning. My priority is on getting the most out of what I am allowed to take with me. Who knows how long it will take, so I need concentrated stuff.

The Book: I will choose Whisky - The Definitive World Guide by Michael Jackson, the King of Whisky. This huge tome does not the contain all answers to all questions about whisky that will ever be posed, but it is full of information about whisky in gerneral and the distilleries in particular. You can spend a long time browsing it without getting tired of it.

The Glass: I know it's starting to get boring, but the Glencairn just is the perfect desert island drinking vessel. It has got the perfect shape while refraining from all fanciness that would make it just more fragile.

The Single Bottles: I will settle for two malts that have the most concentrated aromas that I have experienced in whisky so far. The first one will be the Duncan Taylor Glenesk 1981/2007 cask #933. This is an extreme sherry monster that you can literally chew drop by drop for minutes. Some say it has got too much sulphur in it, but I don't care. If this is how too much sulphur tastes, then most sherry cask whiskies have too little sulphur...

My other choice is the Port Ellen 2nd Annual Release which I got the chance to sample at one of Keith's tastings. No, this is not a peat monster, but the myriad of aromas you can detect in it make this malt a perfect dram to relax in your hammock while watching the surf.

The Case of Six: That's a difficult one. I somehow feel tempted to travel the peat road again, but I think the Aberlour a'Bunadh is a bit more suitable for that tropical island feeling. Conentrated fruity and spicy delight.

The Whisky-Related Item: An empty bourbon hogshead that I can chop into pieces to flavour the smoke in the barbeque pit that I am going dig. Sample recipe: 1. Dig pit. 2. Make fire in pit 3. Hunt hog 4. Wait until flames stop. 5 Put hog into pit. 6. Cover pit with banana leaves 7. Wait 8. Wait. 9. Wait. 10. Enjoy. Chicken, goat or cow works just as fine, depending on availability.


I think that today I need to borrow the term "Ardbeggeddon" as it isn't every day one has the opportunity to banish the owner of what is probably the world's most informative website on Ardbeg whisky to a very remote, uninhabited desert island. So, today I consider it a great honour to be able to banish Ardbeg's very own 'Chief Anorak'; Tim of the internationally renowned Ardbeg Project website to a life of desolation, sun, sand and quite possibly a fair sprinkling of Ardbeg bottlings to my desert island......

Hi Keith,

Here is my "Desert Island Dram!"  I hope it isn’t too long!

My name is Tim Puett, and I live in San Jose, California.  In May of 2009, I started a website devoted to Ardbeg, aptly named, “The Ardbeg Project”.  I’ve probably been a thorn in the side of many forum goers, shop keepers and new whisky friends due to my constant ramblings or questions about Ardbeg, the releases and the subsequent bottle codes and label varieties.  I am also a member of the PLOWED Society, a very enthusiastic group of malt lovers with an annual meeting coincidentally named “Ardbeggeddon”.   How then am I going to select anything other than Ardbeg during this exercise?  Let’s see!

I must admit, choosing my “Desert Island Drams” was a nice trip back in time.  Well, it was a fairly short one, considering that I just dived into Single Malts in 2007.  So, sitting here and recalling some of the malts I’ve tasted, I believe I would want to choose some bottles that mean something personally.  These whiskies should take me on a journey, perhaps a dream that could lift me off the island for a short time, taking me away from the desolation that is my new found home.  The book should do the same, using the illustrations, photography and story to complement the whisky I’ve selected.  I decided my glass will not only be good for enjoying malts, but it should also contribute to my survival, just as the whisky related item will.

Whisky related book; I just finished reading Peat Smoke and Spirit by Andrew Jefford, and though I would really like to take this with me, I decided to choose the first whisky book I purchased.  I choose A Peaty Provenance, by Gavin D. Smith and Graeme Wallace, this book should provide everything a book can provide during my isolation.  There is plenty of history to digest as well as the stories of the individuals that helped bring the Distillery back to life.  Another very important aspect (at least on the island) is the number of high quality pictures that can provide an escape while I’m marooned.

Whisky Glass; Though I do use a Glencairn most of the time, I choose the Large Tumbler Glass from the Ardbeg Shop for my island use.  I get a great nose off the tumbler, and it is large enough so I could probably use it to hold small sea creatures temporarily while preparing a fire for dinner.  It would also sit well in the sand without tipping over.

Two bottles of whisky; I only want to choose whisky that I have already tasted so here goes.  You may be surprised, but I’m not selecting any Ardbegs for these two bottles.  Of course, any of the Single Cask Ardbegs I’ve tried or some of the famous 1970’s distilled IB’s would be easy to choose.  I could just as easily ask for a Springbank 30 or 40 that were phenomenal, but I want to choose two that will help take me on a journey.

For this reason, the first bottle I choose is a George T. Stagg from Fall of 2007 at 72.4% ABV.  This was the first bourbon I tasted that opened my eyes to some great whiskey offered in America.  With the high ABV, it would last long, and I could sip on this and think of being back home.  It would also provide a nice change of pace to the other bottles I have on the island.

The second bottle I choose is a SMWS 119.1 Yamazaki 22 year old at 50.9%.  Unfortunately, I only ever had a sample of this one, but I thought this was an amazing whisky.  Since I received it while trading whisky samples with a forum friend, it will remind me of the great friendships that can be made in the world of whisky.  Every time I taste it, I’ll think of good friends and good times.

One case of six bottles of whisky; This is where I choose an Ardbeg, and I would have to select the one that got me started with Single Malts in the first place.  After receiving an Ardbeg TEN from my boss, I never expected to react as I did upon nosing this one.  The smell of a campfire and freshly cooked bacon sticks with me still.  Every time I pour this one, it takes me back to the first eye (and nose) opening day, which is exactly the type of nostalgia needed when stranded on an island.  And, since I’m so into bottle codes, I would want to take the ‘L7 143’ batch as it is not only the best one I’ve tried, but it was also bottled on my birthday.

Whisky related item, but not whisky; I need water so I would take an empty 4.5L bottle of Ardbeg Rollercoaster to collect rain water.  It would also be good practice pouring liquid out of a 4.5L whisky bottle as I would expect my friends to buy me an Ardbeg Mor to welcome me back upon my rescue.




Today I am banishing another whisky blogger to my desert island paradise as Jason, owner and creator of GuidScotchDrink tells what comforts he would like to help make eternity on my island just slightly more palatable. Over to you Jason...

Sincere thanks to Keith for inviting me to be part of such an interesting, fun, and deliciously creative activity.

I've always enjoyed Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (and recently, JM Coetzee's Foe) so the task of choosing particular whiskies in the event of my being shipwrecked has been on my mind for while.  I've read a number of fantastic whisky books and tasted a greater number of fantastic whiskies.  Limiting the number of each for my desert island sojourn is a formidable task.

One whisky (related) book: I enjoy books that locate whisky within a cultural context even more than books about production and tasting.  While I highly recommend Edward Burns' It's a bad thing whisky, especially bad whisky, I would like my copy of Aeneas MacDonald's, Whisky, from 1930 (Canongate Books reprinted his delightful text in 2006) with me on my island.  MacDonald's prose is lyrical and elegant: "Whisky is a reincarnation; it is made by a sublimation of coarse and heavy barley malt; the spirit leaves that earthly body, disappears and by a lovely metempsychosis returns to the world in the form of a liquid exquisitely pure and impersonal."  While the book is far too short it still invites careful reading and re-reading!

One whisky glass: I love my copita but the Glencairn might be a better investment with its solid base rather than delicate stem.  Each is terrific for the purposes of nosing and tasting guid scotch drink, though.

Two bottles of whisky: On one hand, I want to consider the likely weather conditions on my island (hot, sunny) but, on the other, my favorite whiskies are best consumed during wild, wet times.  So, perhaps, I'll bring along a bottle for each eventuality.  For the hot, sunny days: a Parma Violet nuzzle from a Scotch Malt Whisky Society bottling of a 1985 Glen Garioch (19.40).  For watching the storms that shake the palm trees and to help me forget about the impending collapse of my paltry hut: Lagavulin 21 Year Old; a sherried, medicinal behemoth that presents rubber and pipe tobacco, freshness and sweetness in perfect harmony.

One case of six bottles: Hmm, so many great options, but how about the first Icons of Arran bottling, The Peacock.  There's honey and vanilla, and even strawberries and cream smack dab in the middle of the palate.  A perfect picnic malt -- being stranded on a desert island would be like a picnic at the beach, right?

One other whisky related item: A couple of years ago, my wonderful mother gave me a water color of Lagavulin that she had painted herself.  The framed scene hangs in my office and I really don't think I could go very long without looking at it.  Not only does it look perfect (she is a wonderful artist) but it also has a touch of home about it.

Now where's my parasol?


I'm back again after my journey and it's time to banish someone else to this little paradise island, in fact today we're looking to yet another continent as our 'guest' hails from South Africa, but I'll hand over and let him introduce himself.

My name is Marc, I’m proudly South African and I’m a whisky addict,  just like the rest of you. I’m quite active on twitter as WhiskyBrotherSA, and I’ve just started a [another!] whisky blog with the hopes of catering to South Africans whilst providing international readers insight into SA whisky happenings. It really is brand new, so keep checking back!

Ok, so here goes. Stranded on a desert island? I actually like the thought of this. No work, beautiful beaches, no taxes, fishing, braaing (South African style BBQ), no bond repayments, surfing and thanks to Keith I’m allowed some whisky, sounds like a much needed holiday!

Whisky book: As a few of the previous acts pointed out, it would not make sense to have a JM Whisky Bible styled book; what use are the ratings and descriptions if I’m stuck in the middle of nowhere. Instead I would opt for something more general: The World Guide to Spirits by Tony Lord, 1979. This is one of my favourite books covering all spirits, with a solid section on whisky but also covering wines, rums, tequilas and numerous other spirits. It includes information on both historical aspects, anecdotal and production processes with some nifty illustrations and old photos. This way if there are no grains to make moonshine with, there is still a good chance of being able to make at least something alcoholic. (I wonder what a spirit matured in palm tree or bamboo casks would taste like? I could char them over the bonfire…)

Whisky glass: In an attempt to break with the norm, I won’t take a Glencairn with me. No doubt it is an excellent whisky drinking vessel, but chances are I’ll be able to find one somewhere on the island thanks to previous deserters. Instead I’ll opt for a glass whose official name is unknown to me, but it’s a solid drinking glass for whisky. It’s similar in shape to a Glencairn although somewhat bigger and less tulip shaped. The reason for this particular glass is due to sentimentality, the set was passed down to me from my folks, and the bling gold rim may assist in signalling to passing ships/planes. (See image below)

My two bottles: I was going to be crafty here and go with the Ardbeg Mor, cask strength release, at 4.5 litres, but that would defeat the point. So my first whisky would be a bottle of Port Ellen 25yo OMC bottling at 50% ABV, only 189 bottles. I tried this, my first Port Ellen, a few weeks ago and was blown away. It was immediately evident why Port Ellen is held in such high regard. My next would have to be a bottle of Ardbeg, and here I’ll go for the Airigh Nam Beist which is my personal favourite. I know it may not be as rich as the Corryvreckan, but I own a bottle of the Beast, and if I didn’t have it to drink on the occasion I would sincerely miss it, so its only right I have one for company on the island.

My case: Here I think I’ll go for a case of Caol Ila 18yo, 43% ABV. This has the peat, but it also has a broader range of flavours, including some vanilla, fruits and overall more influence from the wood. Smoother to drink than the 12yo, which would kill me of heartburn after a bottle!

Other related item: Several ideas come to mind here including a laptop with internet access to read all the whisky blogs and twitter users, but this most likely will not be allowed.  So I’ll opt instead for a mash tun. It will make a sturdy living space to protect me from the elements while I drink my whisky.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for the invite Keith, this was a great idea. Cheers and Slainte!


Today's 'guest' on my desert island is Steffan, a whisky aficionado from Denmark who is known to many across cyberspace as 'Macdeffe'. Unfortunately, what he didn't realise when he agreed to this exile was that it wouldn't just be for the one day, as due to a family death I now have to travel back to the UK for a couple of days and leave him stranded until later in the week when he will eventually be rescued and replaced by my nexxt guest. Over to you Steffan....

My name is Steffen Bräuner, but as my friends once nicknamed me Deffe I chose the username macdeffe first time I used a whisky forum and I kept to it. I live in Denmark and have a job not connected with the whisky industry at all.
 I've been drinking and enjoying whisky as long as I can't remember. I faintly recall trying Royal Salute when I was in high school, but I didn't really get into malt whisky until the day after my 30th birthday in 1997. Of all places I went to a party in Norway, bringing with me, of all things, a bottle of "Gammel Dansk" (horrible stuff), shared it with a Glaswegian, he drank it and then said : "Now lets try some of this" and pulled out 5 or 6 bottles of whisky. Since then I have been a dram hunter, and I still visit the Glaswegian (now Falkirk) whenever I am in Scotland. Last year I had the honour of joining the Plowed guys, who invited me over and never thought I would show up across the pond. It's a great group and now they're stuck with me!
I am not a very faithful drammer. When in a bar or whisky shop I always look for something new. I always find it hard to name my favourite distillery or whisky or bottle or setting up lists of those, because it's constantly changing.  But sometimes, like now I give it a go, but if you ask me next month I most likely will come up with a different answer.
To the desert island I would bring:
Alfred Barnard : The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom. I had this book for a few years, I always wanted to read it, but never got around to it except looking up 1 or 2 details. It's a long book, it's whisky history and I haven't read it before. Three good reasons to bring it to a desert island
Whiskyglass : The Ardbeg/Glenmorangie nosing glass (the one with the lid). It has to be copita shaped for sure, but somehow I prefer this slightly to the Glencairn, the latter I also use, it's harder to break and good to use with the guests that might show up at my place
Two bottles of whisky : 
Ardbeg 21yo committee bottling 56.3%, it was bottled in 2001, and was on sale at the distillery for 80£ in 2004. Now I doubt that would happen today. This is a lovely Ardbeg and I can only hit myself in the face as I only bought 1 bottle of this. It had everything you wish for in an Ardbeg this age. Fantastic complexity, leather, lemon, peat and the greatest body of any Ardbeg as far as I remember
Benriach 25yo OB 50%. This is in essence how I like a whisky to be, and a very good example of a well aged speysider, not masked by sherry or peat. It's quite fruity and the years in the cask just added a wonderful complexity to it
A case of whisky : Well ..It has to be Arran Peacock, one of the few whiskies I ever stocked up and bought 4 bottles of. Its a harmony of sherry casks and bourbon casks where both express themselves wonderfully and get through very clearly in the final vatting
Whisky related item : Icecream. I couldn't really think of anything here, but I always avoid food with whisky simply because it doesn't work for me. But strawberry icecream and Ardbeg does !

A new week sees a new selection of drammers being castaway and all washed-up on my little desert island paradise with nothing other than a book and a few drams to keep them company.

My first 'guest' this week is Jörg Bechtold or 'Josh' an avid whisky blogger, connoisseur and member of the Malt Germaniacs. Over to you Josh......

Puh, stranded. And I can't even #followfriday, because I'm all alone. So it's good that I have some great things with me to share my time.

Before I tell you about them, I would like to tell you about me. My name is Jörg Bechtold, but simply call me Josh. Before I got stranded, I had been writing a whisky blog called whiskyfanblog.de with weekly news and information from the world of Single Malt Whisky from Scotland and Ireland. Since 2002, I'm also running a website called whiskyfanpage.de with some basic info on Single Malt Whisky and lots of links to interesting sites, shops and much more. All this is in German language, because Germany is where I was born and raised and I still live there. Well, had been living, until I became stranded on this island!

So back to basics – what do I have with me?

A whisky-related book: 'Aqua Vitae – Ein literarisches Whisky-Tasting'. Just before I got stranded, it was sent to me together with the request for me to publish a review of it on my blog. Seems that this will take longer now …

One type of (whisky) glass: The Glencairn fortunately, because it will not even break in a tsunami or when a coconut drops on it (are there coconut trees on this island?).

Two bottles of whisky which don't have to be the same: Only two bottles? That's harsh. So it should be two older ones where even a small sip will last for a long time. Maybe a Glen Grant 1972 by Scotch Single Malt Circle, a warm and spicy dram? And some old Highland Park from a sherry cask (e.g. Vintage 1980 Cask 7367), which are always great but always expensive too.

One case of six bottles which are all the same: This could be an every day dram, if you expect to be discovered soon … Laphroaig Triple Wood would be an exellent choice (but so would Highland Park 12 or even 18).

One further whisky-related item which may not be actual whisky: Hopefully a bottle of spring water (if there is no spring on the island), to dilute the whisky. It will nose and taste better and last much longer.

And by the way – if I would be allowed to carry some more with me, I would also choose some rum. Especially if this island (where the heck am I?) lies somewhere in the caribbean or anywhere else where it's warm and sunny.

Lots of stuff to drink, so don't save me too soon!


It's Friday and I have great pleasure in introducing you personally to one of Scotland's Independent Bottlers and at the same banishing him to my desert island paradise for the weekend. David Stirk is the founder & owner of The Creative Whisky Company where he offers three excellent ranges, his Exclusive malts, Exclusive Casks & Exclusive Range.

David, it's now over to you as I ask what "Desert Island Drams & items" you would select?

Favourite book; Still Life with Bottle by Ralph Steadman. The greatest book ever written about whisky by a man living on the boundaries of sanity. Witty, irreverant, stylised and at times to the point. A paragraph from this book is more rewarding than the entire Raw Spirit by Iain Banks.

Favourite glass; The small tumbler given to me by the Swedish Whisky Association. It is the perfect size and is so special that I never use them... reading that back, that is actually quite sad!

I've tried so many extraordinary whiskies and quite often cannot remember name, cask, strength and even bottler. I do recall a Glen Garioch from the SMWS (over 10 years ago) that was 19 years of age and either matured or finished in a port cask - it was one of the most menthol, complex whiskies I've ever tasted. I also recall a 7yo Springbank bottled by Signatory (also at least 10 years ago) from a first fill sherry cask. It was a lesson in age vs oak and was superb - I would happily take a bottle of each of these to a desert island.

If I had to take a case of just one whisky... tough, very tough. It would have to be a very complex dram and also something available today (no point in asking for a case of Hazelburn etc). I think, I would have to ask for a case of either the Glenfarclas 15yo or the Springbank 15yo... and when pushed for an answer... the Springbank.

The other whisky related item I would take would have to be a painting from my good friend Ian Gray. Being stranded on a desert Island, I would quickly lose despair (especially once the whisky had run out) but with one of Ian's beautiful paintings, I'd last a while longer.

Thank you and best regards, David


This morning I tear Gal Granov away from the family he loves and banish him to the island, but then maybe he will appreciate the rest, peace and solitude away from what must be two demanding young children?

Well, being deserted on an island you say? Kind of like  “lost” but without all the parallel universe mambo jambo . although I am sure those guys would not want to leave the island or fight the “others” or anything, if they had some decent “Dharma” lagavulin casks at their disposal, would they?

So here goes. My name is Gal Granov. I am an Israeli whisky aficionado. Only a few years ago I didn’t like whisky at all (I'd mostly tasted blends until then, bad blends if I should say) . Then one day, sitting in the comfort of my buddy Kfir, I drank a wee dram of the Balvenie Double wood, and wham bam! The fire was ignited. I didn’t look back ever since. Whisky is a big hobby of mine and I also now run a blog (Israel’s first and only whisky blog in English) called WhiskyIsrael.  In addition I take part in whisky tastings in a club called “Distilled beer” and in the process of setting a whisky tasting group. I am a father of two beautiful kids (age 3 years, and one 3 months) . I love jazz almost as much as I love whisky and mostly listen to that.

So I am deserted on the Island.

One whisky Book; Whisky and jazz by Hans Offringa. As I mentioned before I am a great jazz fan, I like the classics, but I also like contemporary jazz. The piano trio is my favorite among the various jazz types and genres. Drinking whisky and listening to good music is a great  combination. Music and mood decide which type of whisky I usually drink, and jazz and a whisky are a match made in heaven. So, it’s an easy choice for me.

One whisky Glass; The Glencairn. I usually taste whisky either with this, or with my Ardbeg nosing glasses with the little hood. The Glencairn is a very sturdy and durable glass, so that is essential on the island. Also it’s not light and can withstand winds, so my precious nectar does not spill in a storm.

My Two whisky bottles; Well, everyone pretty much knows I like Islay malts, but also sherried malts. I do believe when on an island tastes and aromas should be strong, to beat all the wind/sand/salt and elements. The drams need to be with a lot of character. I am not going for expensive malts, but for malts that get me in a good mood. And malts that I can drink and feel the aftertaste for a long time, whisky is sparse on the island right?

When it’s rainy and windy I will opt for the Lagavulin 16 DE. This is one of the first drams I ever tasted, and frankly, not many are better. I keep on trying new malts almost daily, but the lagavulin 16 DE never lets me down. It gives me my daily intake of Peat and smoke and would be excellent by the fire, where I will roast the game I hunt on the island.

The second bottle will have to be something completely different.  Sweet, caressing. I would choose the Macallan 18 sherry. Also not a very expensive malt, but one I do think is just excellent. All those dried fruits, sultanas, coffee and cocoa will be very nurturing. And since I can't have all those (coffee, fruit, sweets) it will serve a double cause.

One case of six bottles; I think I’ll go for the Ardbeg Uigeadail. The Uigeadail is my go-to dram. I do think it’s splendid. Bottled at Cask strength, it would also last for a long time. I love the name and uigeadail will bring the landscape of Islay into my head, and make me forget the island and my misery. Ahoy!

One other whisky related item , but not whisky? I would take some dried peat with me. to put inside the fire, and enjoy the smell. Sitting in the fireplace, some peat smoke and the uigeadail in my hand, I think I could learn to love my Island.


Gal Granov



Today's guest offering to give up a day of civilisation and the comforts of his home for the desert island is Joshua Hatton of Connecticut, USA, but I'll let him do the introductions. Over to you Joshua....

Keith, you have tasked me with making some tough decisions indeed.  My hope is that, by the time I am done writing this list, I will never have to resort to using this information.  Because, in the end, the whisky runs dry and I go crazy looking for a Wilson soccer ball to make friends with.

While you may know me, many of your readers may not.  So, let me give a little information about myself which may help everyone understand why I am about to make the choices listed below.

My name is Joshua Hatton.

I run a whisky society out of Connecticut (USA) called the Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society.  We've got about 20 people in my group and growing.  I also run a whisky blog and I am quite passionate about whisky.  Tasting it, reviewing, understanding how it was made and the art thereof.

I'm also in a rock and roll band called Kimono Draggin' (www.kimonodraggin.com) where  I play bass and am just as passionate about whisky as I am about music. I wish there were a choice for some records to bring with me while on this desert island.  Oh well, those are the cards dealt I suppose.

So, I can bring one whisky related book, eh?  This may be one of the toughest ones out there as my reading passions are more for science fiction and Torah (first five books of the Hebrew bible).  If I could somehow mix a Robert Heinlein book with Torah and perhaps some of Michael Jackson's writings, I'd be in heaven!  While this will never happen, I'll choose Scotch Whisky by David Daiches.  A wonderful read first published (I think) in 1970.  An interesting note: David Daiches was a Scottish Jew!

One type of (whisky) glass; well, this one is quite easy - Glencairn.  I know of no other glass that is better for whisk(e)y.  Granted, I've only tried this and a Riedel and I just found the Glencairn to be more comfortable in my hand and more durable.  What if I'm attacked by some desert island animal?  I want my whisky glass to survive along with me!

Now I get to choose one each of two different bottles, right?  This is a tough choice.  I think I need to choose one for hot days and one for cool evenings (assuming the weather will actually accommodate my weather pattern postulation).  For hot desert days, I'd have to go with perhaps some Balblair 1965.  For cool evenings I'll need something to warm me up.  I need some nice older peat - perhaps Ardbeg Lord of the Isles

One case of six bottles, well, this is an easy one for me.  Highland Park 18yr.  Such an amazing go-to dram for me!

A whisky related item that does not have to be whisky.  I had to think about this for a little while.  Can I take Glenmorangie's full whisky warehouse with me?  If not, I'll take one hogshead filled with some 21yr Lagavulin.  Once I'm done with it I can use it as a boat to get myself off the island!
(<- Sorry Joshua, no whisky allowed! but the empty warehouse or hogshead could be arranged)

Joshua "Yossi" Hatton


My first guest agreeing to a self-imposed exile is Mark Connelly, founder of WhiskyWhiskyWhisky the specialist whisky forum and also as a member of Glasgow's whisky club, he is also a joint organisor of the exciting new Glasgow Whisky Festival in November. In addition Mark also keeps his own whisky blog.

Over to you Mark!

"Many thanks to Keith for the invitation to contribute to this excellent idea and I'm really looking forward to reading other takes on this subject. Here goes:

One Whisky (related) book; I suppose most of my favourite books would be useless in this situation: no distilleries to visit and bottlings to sample (other than those mentioned below). For that reason I'm going to go with The Manufacture of Whisky and Plain Spirit by JA Nettleton which I recently received from Classic Expressions. A reprint of a book from 1913, this is an absolute tome which I reckon to be around two and a half inches thick. Not only would it take a long time to read, but I might also manage to learn how to make my own spirit whilst marooned!

One Whisky glass; It has to be the Glencairn. I generally don't use any other glass apart from the odd copita and I reckon the Glencairn has more chance of lasting at least until I've finished my 8 bottles of whisky that I'm lucky to have with me. Probably easier to sit a Glencairn on the sand than a copita too.

Two bottles of whisky which don't have to be the same; This is a tough one. Decisions, decisions. Okay, firstly I'm going with Black Bowmore(42yo). Well, if I'm going to be stuck on an island then I might as well be stuck with something I can't afford. I have been lucky to try this twice and it is utterly sublime. I might not be in too much of a hurry to be rescued if I have that keeping me company.

Secondly I'll go for Lagavulin 12yo Special Release (any year). This is my Christmas treat to myself every year and I absolutely love it. There's everything that's right about Islay whisky in this bottle. Plus, at cask strength I can add a little water from the waterfall in the jungle and make it last even longer. That will keep my peat cravings at bay too.

One case of six bottles which do have to be the same; I was tempted to say Lagavulin 16yo (yes, I'm a big fan of Lagavulin!) but since I've already got a Laga I'll plump for a case of Aberlour A'Bunadh. Big, big, sherry and full and rich. Again, since it's bottled at cask strength, a little water will make it go a long way.

One other whisky related item of your choice, but not a whisky itself; Can I have a little pot still? Is that cheating? If I can't have that then perhaps my pack of Glenfiddich playing cards so that I can play Solitaire when I've finished my book."


To be fair I guess I should start the ball rolling, or the ship sinking, by offering my own "Desert Island Drams" choices.

I immediately realise that this is not quite so easy as it initially sounded, even to me as I try to decide upon my own selection. Do I just select my top 3 drams and my single favourite whisky book, but what about an extra item? No, I think there's more to it than this as I picture myself stuck in some sun-blessed remote paradise with an eternity to pontificate on the meaning of life.

Firstly my choice of book; here I am stuck on the island with only three different whiskies, so I am loathe to select my favourite book of whisky reviews as I would only start to miss all the great drams that I don't have any access to. Also, what matters now is how they taste to me, not to someone else. With this in mind I have chosen one of the oldest publications, if not the oldest, on spirit distillation which is The Practical Distiller by Samuel McHarry, first published in 1809. Who knows, maybe this will not only be an enlightening read, but also give me some tips for setting up my own illicit and ramshackle castaway distillery.

As for my choice of glass; I think something a little durable is called for, in which case I have to run with the Glencairn. It's quite small, so can be carried around easily, but more importantly it's sturdy and robust whilst being a superb nosing glass.

The whisky categories are much more difficult as I really want something other than just my top three of all time, although of course they have to be considered. Firstly when it comes to the 'two bottles' I want something special, certainly not what I would term everyday drams, although I would look for something which reminds me of home, without making me too homesick.

With this in mind I am immediately drawn to a Caol Ila. It's one of my favourite distilleries and as I have said before it almost always reminds me of a specific time and place in my youth, whilst walking in my beloved Yorkshire Dales and happening upon a remote row of terraced cottages whose chimneys were gently emitting a warming smoky mixture of peat and wood-smoke on a rather cold day. As to which Caol Ila; this is quite an easy choice because one in particular sticks in my mind as being the first to offer me this wonderful flashback; An IB from JWWW (Jack Wieber) in his "Scottish Castles" series at 58.1%abv and 15 years old.

My second bottle choice is not only a great whisky from a long-lost distillery, but also a personal reminder of my second home in Hampshire (England, UK) and a local, off the beaten path wine store who also stocked a few whiskies. When he heard that his company had inherited some long-forgotten stocks from the far corner of a whisky warehouse he went out of his way to source a couple of bottles for me. This was back in the mid-1990's and that whisky still lives long in my mind as a true great. What is my choice of second bottle? Glen Mhor 1969 which was eventually bottled at around 26 years old and was a magnificent dram. Something indeed special for my desert island!

Now for my case selection; once again I find myself choosing something special and after considering many different possibilities from old and famous Ardbegs, a rather good Banff, Bowmores and old Dalmores, I have come down in favour of another IB. In this case it's a 34 year old Inchgower from David Stirk's Exclusive Malts range. This is to date the best whisky I have tasted in 2010 and has not only delightful hints of leather and polished wood, but incredible depths of lightly perfumed flora which I know I would find ideal during the balmy desert island evenings.

Finally I have to select one more item which may not be actual whisky, but must be whisky-related. This is possibly my easiest choice as I would like something which again reminds me of some great whisky, but which is at the same time useful to my island plight. With this in mind I have no hesitation nor qualms about laying claim to one of Ardbeg's finest oak casks. This will forever remind me of a great distillery, hopefully with some aromas of their whisky still to be had from the wood whilst also offering me the possibility of some shelter from any island storms. Who knows, it may even offer the possibility of escape should I ever tire of paradise and my chosen whiskies.



Recent reviews



Coming Soon


Ben Nevis 25y

Connemara SC

Bruichladdich Celtic Nations

Bruichladdich Link II Augusta

Scapa 14y

Macallan Select Oak

Ellenstown 10y

Three Ships 5y

Three Ships - Bourbon finish

Bains - Single Grain

Arran Peacock

Abhainn Dearg









































































































































































































































































































Previous major features

April 2010

My peat's bigger than your peat, A foursome with a famous Scottish bird

March 2010

Sample Mania tasting notes, The Good, the Bad & The Loch Dh-Ugly, A return to sanity, The Choice of Managers

Jan-Feb 2010

Keep taking the medicine, It's Festival time, Maker's Mark, Sleeveless in Munich

Dec. 2009

All power to the bean-counters, protecting Scotch, seasonal drams, Definitive Xmas Drams, 2009 Whisky Awards

Nov. 2009

How it all started, Bonfire night, Autumnal musings, EU Tax & Duty, What's in a (whisky) name?



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