Last year, on request for a friend, we did a Top 5 Blended whiskies under R500. It has been one of our more popular posts and this year, we compiled the list again. The South African currency has fallen quite dramatically during the year and had an impact on the price of whisky. The blended whisky category, fortunately still has quite a few really great drams at a good price and compiling this list is not too difficult.
I had to pick up a gift in Pretoria the other day and as I was a bit early, I stopped at the closest shopping centre for a cup of coffee. While strolling around looking for the best coffee place, I walked into a Checkers Liquor store and much to my surprise, saw a bottle of Single Malt that I have not noticed before. It was a Highland Queen and it retailed for around R200. In South Africa, most single malts retail for slightly more. So finding an affordable single malt, was very interesting. After a few twitter conversations about this brand, I went back and grabbed a bottle. The Highland Queen Scotch Whisky Company produces and distributes whisky and operates as a subsidiary of Picard Vins & Spiritueux S.A.
Great was my excitement when I received an email from Steve (The Whisky Wire) confirming that we have been chosen to take part in the Littlemill 25 yo Private Cellar Edition Whisky Flash Blog. A week or 2 earlier, I saw a request for bloggers who wanted to take part and responded. Then the (long) wait began. About a week before the due date (14 Oct) I started ‘stalking’ our local Post Office. I became a regular in the queue. The man behind the counter saw me so often that he handed me the packages received book as soon as I walked in. No package arrived. The day of the Littlemill Whisky Flash Blog came and went. I read all the amazing blogs and tasting notes of the other (lucky) bloggers but left the Post Office empty-handed each time.
I nearly gave up hope of ever getting our package. And then, low and behold, a slip of paper arrived in my post box. Just before we depart for a short break away to the Drakensberg (Dragon Mountains). It was with much excitement that I skipped into the Post Office. The man behind the counter reached for the book, but I was waving my slip of paper. We got our Littlemill 25 yo sample.
The Littlemill distillery was established in 1772. This Lowland distillery fell silent in 1994 and was destroyed by a fire in 2004. All that is left is a few last barrels. Once they are consumed, there will be no more. The whisky chosen for this release was casked in 1989 and 1990 respectively. It was matured in a mixture of American and European Oak and has been finished in first fill European Oloroso Sherry casks. There are only 1500 individually numbered bottles. The remaining Littlemill casks are owned by the Loch Mond Group. The Littlemill 25 yo retails for GBP 1690. (R36 500) So below our tasting notes, a month late.
Tasting notes for the Littlemill 25 yo Private Cellar Edition 2015
The Littlemill 25 yo Private Cellar Edition Whisky is a golden wheat colour. It is quite an oily whisky. The nose has notes of sherry sweetness, Christmas Pudding and candied fruit. There are hints of oak, caramel, toffee and butterscotch. Without water, the Littlemill 25 yo palate is creamy and rich with fruity sweetness, Crème brûlée and spice. There are hints of nutmeg, black pepper corns and cloves. With water, the Littlemill 25 yo palate releases notes of grape jam, vanilla and sultanas. The finish is long and lingering and end in notes of sweet spiciness, citrus and toasted oak. The Littlemill 25 yo is a complex and robust whisky.
We give this Littlemill 25 yo Private Cellar Edition 2015 Whisky a RATING: EXCELLENT. With the beautiful golden Drakensberg in front of us and the sun setting, this dram glowed golden bright. A wonderful dram in an amazing setting. Dinner was a Slow cooked Lamb Potjie (Lamb Stew) and the Littlemill 25 yo was the dessert.
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This is the second Laphroaig we are tasting this year. Earlier in 2015 we tasted the Laphroaig An Cuan Mor. The Laphroaig PX cask and the An Cuan Mor bottling are part of a series of 3 Travel Retail Exclusive releases from Laphroaig. I notice that the PX cask and the An Cuan Mor are now available more widely, even in South Africa. The PX Cask release is quite expensive though. The third bottle in this series is the QA Cask. Laphroaig is a single malt Scotch whisky distillery on the beautiful Islay. It is named for the area of land at the head of Loch Laphroaig on the south coast of Islay. The distillery was founded in 1810 by the Johnston Brothers on what was originally a family run farm.
I have known Marietjie since University. There we shared many a bottle of whisky around a badly lit kitchen table, solving the world’s problems. Today she is a successful career woman and mom and works as the National Key Account Manager for Clover SA. About a month ago, I saw her for drinks and she had a big complaint. When are we going to try one of the Clover cheeses with an affordable whisky?