Thursday, 29 July 2010


Tonight's ramblings are supported by the Glenfiddich 12-year-old, currently £7.50 off in Tesco here. If there's one thing better than a good whisky, it's paying below the asking price for a good whisky. Once minimum pricing and stupid levels of duty kick in, I expect Man with a Van to stock only the really good stuff and have told him this. There is no point in smuggling crap.

Some time back, someone left a comment asking about Grant's whisky. The comments appear in my inbox in chronological order and so do Emails. I have it set up to sort all blog-related stuff into a separate folder and the Smoky-Drinky Emails go in there too. So sometimes it can be hard to differentiate between Email and comment and sometimes it's not easy to find the comment on the blog. Depends how distracted I am.

Grant's whisky is a decent blend. I prefer the ale cask or sherry cask reserves to the 'standard' Grant's. I find them smoother. They tend to be priced a couple of quid higher but then they are often the subject of special offers so it's worth keeping an eye out. I also find, in general, Morrison's whisky prices are better than Tesco, unless Tesco is running a promotion. Tesco sell Ledaig, for example, at almost twice the price of Morrison's. That might only apply in this one town though. If you have multiple supermarkets nearby it's worth comparing prices. They can be massively different.

Whisky isn't just whisky. There are huge differences between different brands. One of the Smoky-Drinkers is very put off by peaty whiskies like Ardbeg or Bruaichladdich. I love them, but not all the time. I find the distinctive taste is dulled if you drink them too often so I space them out.

On blends, I really don't like Bells or Famous Grouse but the really cheap Clan MacGregor is not bad at all. It's not just a matter of price. It's all about personal preference. Bells is, to me, horrible but it sells very well so obviously a lot of people like it. They aren't buying it because it's cheap - it's not - so their tastes must lean that way.

Even among malts, there are massive differences. I'd pay £30 for Laphroaig cask strength but I wouldn't pay that much for Glen Grant. Both very nice but when you're talking malts, price vs taste is a major factor. You don't want to spend thirty quid on a bottle of something that's not absolutely great. Glen Grant is currently below £20 here and at that price it's a good buy. At £30 it wouldn't be. At that price I'd expect to be among the Ardbeg and the Laphroaig at the very least.

In the old days, miniatures were easy to come by. Now I only see them in special packages that cost a tenner - which is more than halfway to an entire bottle of Glen Grant or Ledaig and actually more than a whole bottle of Clan MacGregor. I'm not going to buy miniatures at that price. Sampling isn't so easy.

If you don't smoke, you can go to the pub and try a few. Not too many at once or you risk finding one you really like and forgetting the name of it in the morning. If you smoke and you go to the pub, well, be aware that they don't like you. I haven't set foot inside a pub this year and I don't feel the urge to bother. It now feels like entering a door that says 'You are filth and don't you forget it'. I certainly will never patronise those pubs that refuse Electrofag, ever again. But that's not for this post.

Perhaps I have an unfair advantage in the north of Scotland. There are pubs here that have optics full of whisky with one gin, one vodka and one rum gathering dust at the end. The selection available is enormous. Maybe prices further south are higher because maybe the turnover of good whisky is slower. Even when I've visited Wales, I have never seen the Penderyn in the shops. It might only be available online, I don't know. Certainly the range available is more limited there but then, if the customers are buying Welsh Bitter (gas in a glass) then that's what they'll sell.

But enough rambling. I've spent the day pricing some work and had an interesting phone call. One of the companies is concerned that I might be overloaded. I like that. If they think I'm in pain, they'll pay more. Okay, sixty samples at once will be difficult and will probably be last-bus-home stuff but it can be done and I'm very happy to do it for the right price.

It's how I buy the good whisky, after all.


Vilges Suola said...

I too think Bell's is pretty foul, and was recently very disappointed with Johnny Walker Black, which was like drinking varnish. I had been misled into buying it by reading online reviews, which of course are pretty bloody pointless, de gustibus, and that. I find Grouse OK, so will stick to that.

hangemall said...


A month or two ago I saw Penderyn in Sainsbury's at around 30 quid a bottle. It had been recommended to me but it's a bit out of my price range.

I do most of my whisky buying at Morrison's now, thanks to your mention in an earlier post.

I also like the smoky/peaty whiskies, but will have a Ledaig every now and then as it's a refreshing change.

I've tried Sainsbury's and Tesco's own brand stuff and a couple are OK. I liked Tesco's Islay and Sainsbury's Speyside. I think they are typical of their areas although somewhat lacking in individuality.

Sitting on the floor beside me are a recently-deceased bottle of Ledaig and a to-be-opened one of Tobermory. Reading the labels, they're both from the same distillery, although the tastes are different.

Now I'll go and see what Captain Ranty is up to. Toodle-pip.

DaveF said...

I agree about the Bells - it's a nasty, coarse whisky, better suited for mixers to adulterate it. I love Famous Grouse, though - it's nice and smooth. White and MacKay is decent as well. I have a bottle of Grants which is as yet unopened, so I've yet to come to a conclusion. One of the best blended whiskies I ever tasted was Stewarts Cream Of The Barley, which I enjoyed over 35 years ago. I must renew that pleasure sometime..
I don't have a lot of experience of single malts, but I did have a bottle of Balvenie some time ago, and that was a smooth one with a sherry undertone.

Jockdownsouth said...

My dad always used to say, "There's no such thing as a bad whisky; some are just better than others". I like Grants & Grouse, and also like Glen Grant. I keep various malts for sharing with friends but stick to blends for day to day use.

What do you think of Black Bottle?

opinions powered by