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Saturday 31 August 2019

Results of San Francisco World Spirits Competition: Scotch Whisky


The San Francisco World Spirits Competition was founded in 2000 by Anthony Dias Blue. It assesses hundreds of entrants annually from 60+ countries with tastings involving panels of expert judges selected each year from the spirits industry including mixologists, spirits buyers, and media from across the United States. Producers must submit their product for the competition and pay a fee ~US$500 for its evaluation. 

Not all entries are given awards (those not judged of sufficient quality are not given an award) but most receive a bronze, silver, or gold award from the tasting panel. The fact that most entrants receive an award likely involves some degree of self-selection, as the spirits producers choose whether to enter each of their brands in the competition and pay to receive a rating. Those entrants that are given a unanimous gold medal by the panel are given the distinction of a "double-gold" medal. Additionally, a "best in show" designation is awarded in each main category of spirits.

The 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition was held at the Hotel Nikko, San Francisco from March 22nd through March 24th. The 2019 Competition was another record-breaking year that featured almost 3,000 entries from all corners of the world.

Best Other Single Malt Whiskey
Westland Distillery 5th Annual Peat Week Single Malt, Washington, USA
ABV: 50%      Retail Price: $100

Best Single Malt Irish Whiskey
Jack Ryan Toomevara 10 YO Single Malt Irish Whiskey (Château du Breuil Calvados Finish), Dublin, Ireland
ABV: 46%      Retail Price: $100

Best Blended Scotch - 16 Years And Older
Johnnie Walker 18 Year Old Blended Scotch, Scotland, UK
ABV: 40%      Retail Price: $85

Best Blended Scotch - No Age Statement
Cutty Stark Prohibition Blended Scotch, Scotland, UK
ABV: 50%      Retail Price: $30

Best Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
Wemyss Malts The Hive Blended Malt Scotch Whisky, Campbeltown, Scotland, UK
ABV: 46%      Retail Price: $55

Best Distillers' Single Malt Scotch - Up to 12 Years
Lagavulin 9 Year Old Game of Thrones "House Lannister" Single Malt Scotch, Islay, Scotland, UK
ABV: 46%      Retail Price: $65
Best Distillers' Single Malt Scotch - 13 to 19 Years
The GlenDronach Revival 15 YO Single Malt Scotch, Highlands, Scotland, UK
ABV: 46%      Retail Price: $100

Best Scotch • Best Distillers' Single Malt Scotch - 20 Years And Older
BenRiach Temporis Aged 21 Years Single Malt Scotch, Speyside, Scotland, UK
ABV: 46%      Retail Price: $121

Best Distillers' Single Malt Scotch - No Age Statement
BenRiach Cask Strength Batch 2 Single Malt Scotch, Speyside, Scotland, UK
ABV: 60.6%   Retail Price: $70

Best Independent Merchant Single Malt
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society Cask 72.62 Full-throttle Sophistication Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Speyside, Scotland, UK
ABV: 51.7%   Retail Price: $495


Best in Class

Johnnie Walker 18-Year-Old – Best Blended Scotch
Lagavulin 9-Year-Old, Game of Thrones House Lannister – Best Distillers’ Malt Scotch, Up to 12 Years

Double Gold

Buchanan’s 18-Year-Old Special Reserve
Game of Thrones Single Malt Scotch Whisky Collection (packaging)
Johnnie Walker 18-Year-Old
Johnnie Walker Double Black Label
Lagavulin 12-Year-Old
Lagavulin 9-Year-Old, Game of Thrones House Lannister
Mortlach 16-Year-Old
Singleton 12-Year-Old
Talisker 10-Year-Old
Talisker Distiller’s Edition

Monday 26 August 2019




     The Valkyries go weaving with drawn swords,
     Hild and Hjorthrimul, Sanngrid and Svipul.
     Spears will shatter, shields will splinter,
     Swords will knaw like wolves through armour.

Celebrating the Island's 600 years of Norse rule, this limited edition series was created in collaboration with Danish internationally renowned designer and true Viking soul, Jim Lyngvild, with each of the whiskies hand-selected by Master Whisky Maker Gordon Motion.


According to the old Norse sagas, for Viking warriors, death was not an end but a glorious beginning. And it began with the Valkyries…Their whisky, like their island home, is shaped by a wild climate and stormy seas, and by the Vikings who settled here over 1,000 years ago, leaving their mark on the local people and culture.

Plunging down from the dark heavens, the Valkyries would descend like avenging angels on horseback to comb the battlefields for the bravest of the fallen warriors, heroes fit to enter the great Norse God Odin’s hall, Valhalla. 

VALKYRIE celebrates their rich Nordic ancestry here on Orkney, where they were once part of a vast Viking kingdom. Exquisitely balanced and delivering wave upon wave of warm aromatic smoke and richly ripened fruit, VALKYRIE is the first in a series of three special Viking Legend releases and has just been awarded the Chairman’s Trophy in the 2017 Ultimate Spirits Challenge, scoring 99 out of 100.

Natural Cask-Driven Colour: Fiery amber
Green apples | Sun-ripened lemons | Oriental spices | Vanilla | 
Preserved ginger | Dark chocolate | Salty liquorice | Warm aromatic smoke
Vol: 700/750ml depending on country; ABV 45.9%.


According to legend, Vikings who met a fine and honourable death were marked out by the symbol of the Valknut and spirited away from the mortal world to the heavenly realm of Valhalla.

Created using a higher proportion of local peated malt and
predominantly matured in sherry seasoned oak casks to give this whisky its smoky, sweet flavour, VALKNUT is the second in the Viking Legend series, celebrating their rich Nordic ancestry here on Orkney.

Valknut means ‘knot of those slain in battle’ and its symbol of three interlinked triangles appears on numerous artefacts from the Viking Age. The symbol is closely associated with the Norse god, Odin, who guided the spirits of the dead to the underworld and back to the world of the living, and is believed to represent the transition from life to death or the connection between earthly life and heavenly life. 

Natural Cask-Driven Colour: Light and golden.
Toasted vanilla pods | Cracked black pepper | Oak shavings | 
Cloves | Aniseed | Aromatic peat smoke
Vol: 700/750ml depending on country; ABV 46.8%

The Norse sagas tell us that Odin, the mightiest of the ancient gods, takes on many guises and is known by many names. As VALFATHER – Father of the Slain – he presides over the golden hall of Valhalla.

The Highland Park Valfather completes the 2017 Viking Legend trilogy, following the Valkyrie and the Valknut, this third and final Viking Legend edition focusses on the Norse godfather Odin himself. With its 47% ABV, the last to be created Valfather presents the highest alcohol content of the trio.

The releases of the Viking Legend trilogy are more like cousins and not siblings  of the core assortment. For these three single malts, a larger proportion of heavily peated malt was used than usual in Highland Park whisky. And among the whiskies of the Viking Legend series, Valfather is the smokiest and uses whiskies matured in refill casks to reflect the “ethereal and lighter feel of Valhalla”, Odin’s hall. The new whisky’s high phenol count is said to display Odin’s power. 

HIGHLAND PARK VALFATHER – the final whisky in a series of three special edition Viking Legend releases – is the most peated whisky released to date; it is matured entirely in refill casks to give beautifully balanced layers of flavour and a character as complex as Odin himself.

Odin is associated with wisdom and knowledge; with sorcery and poetry; with battle, frenzy and death. The old legends also tell us of the tame beasts who bring him both protection and support – Sleipnir the eight-legged flying horse; the tame wolves, Geri and Freki; and Huginn and Muninn, his loyal ravens – but is at the jaws of the savage wolf, Fenrir, that Odin finally meets his end at Ragnarök.

Odin is called All-Father because he is the father of all the gods. He is also called Father of the Slain [Val-Father] because all who fall in battle are his adopted sons. With them, he mans Valhalla…

Natural Cask-Driven Colour: Bright gold
Sweet apple | Fragrant pear | Crème brûlée |
Toasted cedar wood | Smoked paprika | Aromatic peat smoke
Vol: 700/750ml depending on country. ABV 47%.

Highland Park Valhalla Collection

               THOR                                        LOKI                                       FREYA                                         ODIN

Highland Park’s Norse-inspired Valhalla Collection comprises four expression named after Nordic gods: Thor, Loki, Freya and Odin. The creators attempted to reflect the characterisations of each Norse God in the whisky’s appearance and flavour, from the “fresh, golden and seductive” Freya – the Goddess of Love – to the “intense, powerful and complex” flavours of Odin.

OTHER Classics From Highland Park


Highland Park teams up with Bayreuther Festspiele!

Highland Park announced in early June that it had agreed upon a new three-year partnership with the Bayreuther Festspiele. The festival, which is probably the most prestigiuos classical music festival in the world, was founded in 1876 by the German composer Richard Wagner.

Combining Nordic and Germanic myths and legends!

Why a collaboration between a German festival and the Scottish distillery Highland Park? Beam Suntory's press release has all the answers. Under the tagline “Combining legends" it states that the partnership recognises the shared passion for Nordic legends as much as it values its heritage and craftsmanship. The ancestors of the Highland Park team are Vikings, who once settled in the home of the Scottish distillery, Orkney. Even today, the myths of the warriors lie behind new bottlings from Highland Park, as well as Brünnhilde. The eponymous figure from the epic "The Ring of the Nibelung" by the founder of the festival, Richard Wagner, served as an inspiration for the name of the new single cask bottling. The German composer often used Nordic and German mythical and legend sources for his masterful pieces of music.

Three single casks will be released starting with Brünnhilde at the end of July this year. Highland Park describes Brünnhilde as a whisky thas been matured for eleven years in a sherry seasoned oak cask. Naturally dark amber in colour, it reveals notes of creamy vanilla, caramelised pineapple, sweet heather honey, fresh lemon zest and fiery ginger, shrouded in their trademark light peat smoke.

Tasting Notes: Highland Park Brünnhilde 56% ABV.

Colour: natural dark amber.
Nose: creamy vanilla, caramelized pineapple, creamy honey and light peat smoke.
Palate: sweet, light vanilla with hints of oak nuances, fruity lemon zest, a hint of ginger and peat smoke.
Finish: long-lasting sweet and light smoky notes.

From the end of July, it will be available exclusively through Spirituals, the exclusive partner of the Bayreuth Festival. The bottle and its sackcloth bag will be black in colour.

Sunday 25 August 2019

Johnnie Walker Releases Two More 'Game of Thrones' Whiskies to Join The White Walker

Johnnie Walker's Game of Thrones' “A Song of Ice" and "A Song of Fire” Launched in the USA 

 Due In October 2019 in Europe 

In an epic partnership with HBO series Game of Thrones(GoT), Johnnie Walker is to introduce a series of limited edition blended Johnnie Walker whiskies. GoT is a show clearly targeted at adults, and is best known for is its love of violence and nudity. With these mature themes, it is no surprise that GoT has done particularly well with its promotional tie-ins involving alcohol: like beer, three wines from Vintage Wine Estates and its first Scotch whisky from Johnnie Walker, The White Walker which made its debut in October 2018. The two new limited edition whisky blends, inspired by the iconic and powerful houses of Westeros – House Stark and House Targaryen – have reached the market as successors to the White Walker.   

Created by whisky specialist and blender George Harper, the unique, limited-edition lead whisky was inspired by the most enigmatic and feared characters on the show – the White Walkers. Known by their icy blue eyes and led by the Night King, the undead army of White Walkers have emerged from the Frozen North bringing with them the chill of winter. This innovative whisky is best served directly from the freezer, echoing the chilling presence of the White Walkers and brings you right to the Frozen North with an icy white and blue design along with the iconic Johnnie Walker Striding Man now fashioned in armour to fit in among the ranks of the Night King’s forces.

The Scotch has notes of caramelised sugar and vanilla, fresh red berries with a  touch of orchard fruit and features Single Malts from Cardhu and Clynelish – one of Scotland’s most Northern distilleries. Harper used the Frozen North as his starting point for creating White Walker by Johnnie Walker believing that Whiskies from Clynelish have endured long, Scottish Winters, not dissimilar to the long periods endured by the Night’s Watch who have ventured north of the wall - so it was the perfect place to start when creating this unique whisky. 
Utilising temperature-sensitive ink technology, fans will be reminded that “Winter is Here” from an unexpected graphic icy reveal on the bottle when frozen.

Two more themed whiskies, "A Song of Ice" and "A Song of Fire," have joined the family. Made in collaboration with HBO, the names are a nod to the Game of Thrones book series title, "A Song of Ice and Fire." Whether in conflict or harmony, this is a tale of two great houses represented by two ancient creatures. One is a house descended from the First Men. Rulers of the North and builders of the wall, they thrive in the icy-cold climate of the Direwolf. The other is a noble family of Valkyrian descent and the first royal house of the Seven Kingdoms. Fire courses through their veins and is made flesh in the form of their dragons.

"A Song of Ice," naturally, is inspired by House Stark and the 'unforgiving force of ice that shapes mountains,  stops rivers, and delivers the heat of fusion in frozen form from the cryosphere,"ringing in at 40.2 % ABV. As can be expected, it again features blends of single malt whiskies from Scotland's northern most distilleries like Clynelish and promises a crisp, clean taste with a cold, smooth finish. The bottle design shows snowy woods, a nod to The North's cold winters, with a fierce red-eyed Direwolf splashed across the front. If you get your hands on one, know that it's best enjoyed over ice, as is appropriate for a tribute to House Stark. 
On the other hand, "A Song of Fire," is inspired by none other than House Targaryen, with flavours of "subtle smoke from the heated malts of the Caol Ila distillery," on Islay, Scotland. This blend packs slightly more of a punch than its icy counterpart, with 40.8 percent ABV—it's also meant to be sipped neat instead of on ice, delivering a "full-bodied flavour which lends a warm, smooth finish," naturally so, for a whisky that tips its hat to the Mother of Dragons and her fiery house. The bottle, too, is Targaryen-level fierce, featuring fire, sparks, and a sinister dragon. Both this bottle and the "A Song of Ice" bottle also include the signature Johnnie Walker "striding man" logo; however, it faces backward on the "A Song of Fire" whisky, so that it's squaring off with the striding man on the "A Song of Ice" bottle." The face-off represents the complicated dynamic between the two houses, another angle to the complicated interactions between the two great houses in the show’s storyline.

Wednesday 21 August 2019



Every year there is a special motto for the Ardbeg Day. 2018 saw the Peat & Love Festival, reviving the flower-power era with the Ardbeg Groove. The Ardbeg Day 2017 and its special bottling Ardbeg Kelpie were all about Kelpie and other mythical creatures. Storytelling and colourful goings on and this year the Scottish distillery celebrates a Caribbean carnival: The Ardbeg Day 2019 will take place on June 1st on Islay and the Ardbeg Drum will be launched, a whisky that was finished in American rum casks. 

Drum is the first whisky released by Ardbeg with a finishing period in rum casks! It was initially matured in ex-bourbon casks before being transferred over to casks that had previously held rum from the Americas. The result pits the classic savoury smoke of Ardbeg's spirit against the bright, fruity notes introduced by the rum casks - a wonderfully tasty juxtaposition!

Its not yet certain whether its "Drum" because a Caribbean Steel Drum is so important for that Caribbean feeling, or "Drum" because it’s Ardbeg DRum – a whisky with a special twist formed by the finish in rum casks. Anyway – this year’s Ardbeg Day promises was as colourful as last year’s.

And like every year, there was an Ardbeg Day Committee Release of the Ardbeg Drum, available only to club members and only available online directly from Moet Hennessy or in the distillery itself. On 01 June, collectors and Ardbeg fans were seen striving to stay hands-on to get a chance to get their hands on one of those Ardbeg Drum Committee Releases at 52% ABV.

Tasting Notes:

Nose: In Drum, fragrant pine resin and woodsmoke dance alongside ripe banana and pineapple in a downright wondrous paradiddle of aromas, before parading into smoked apples and dry cocoa powder. Distant ginger, spiced dates and cinnamon sway into floating notes of lavender.

Taste: On the palate, waves of smoke, tar and creosote cascade into a dry peppery mouthfeel. Clove, liquorice and ginger strut towards rich notes of dark chocolate and smoked vanilla.

Finish: Intense smoke, roasted coffee liqueur and a treasure trove of sweet spices come together in one deliciously complex crescendo.


Ardbeg is also all set to release a 19-year-old single malt Traigh Bhan, its first permanent age-stated whisky to be released in nearly 20 years.

Named after Islay’s Traigh Bhan beach, known locally as the Singing Sands, the whisky will be available in limited batches produced on an annual basis. The whisky’s recipe is set to change with each batch, creating ‘subtle differences’ between future iterations. Each batch of Ardbeg Traigh Bhan will feature a unique code on the carton and bottle, which drinkers can enter into the distillery’s website to find out more about the ‘story’ of the whisky.

Dr Bill Lumsden, Ardbeg’s director of distilling, whisky creation and whisky stocks, said: ‘A new, permanent aged Ardbeg is a rare occurrence, and cause for celebration.’

Ardbeg Traigh Bhan: Singing Sands ‘a perfect reflection’ of the Islay beach
Matured in American oak and ex-oloroso Sherry casks before being bottled at 46.2% abv, Ardbeg Traigh Bhan’s 2019 expression is said to have ‘intense and rugged’ notes of ‘smoked chilli chocolate and paprika’ with ‘waves of toasted oak and roasted tea leaves’ on the palate.

The first batch of Traigh Bhan will be released in September, priced at £169 and available from specialist stores worldwide.

The last permanent age-stated expression to join the distillery’s range was Ardbeg 10 Year Old, which was introduced in 2000. Its core range currently features a series of no-age-statement single malts named after geographical features of the distillery’s island home, including Corryvreckan, Uigedail and An Oa, the last of which was introduced in September 2017.


Ardbeg DARK COVE recalls smuggling past Ardbeg Day 2016

Ardbeg released its Dark Cove expression as the brand’s annual Ardbeg Day turned to Ardbeg Night to remember the island’s smuggling activities. A no-age-statement, non-chill-filtered, limited edition whisky, Dark Cove is made from liquid matured in Sherry casks, married together with “hallmark” ex-Bourbon cask Ardbeg.

Dark Cove recalls how early distillers would smuggle whisky from Ardbeg Cove into black-painted ships. So substantial was the illicit whisky trade between the island of Islay and mainland Scotland that excise officers stationed a revenue cutter offshore to intercept smugglers’ boats.

Ardbeg KELPIE Launched on Ardbeg Day 2017

Named after the ‘Kelpie’ – a legendary water demon said to live in the Atlantic Ocean, off the Islay coast – the new expression is the first Ardbeg whisky matured in Black Sea oak casks. An Ardbeg that's said to be "as deep as the ocean," and bottled for Fèis Ìle 2017 at 46%, the Kelpie, when mischievous as a water spirit, might take the form of a horse, or a bull, and may have claws, or be a dog with the head of an ant that flies. 

Sourced from the Adyghe Republic in Russia by Dr Bill Lumsden, Ardbeg’s director of distilling, whisky creation and whisky stocks, the casks are said to impart ‘incredibly deep flavours’ to the whisky, which is then married with traditional Ardbeg, aged in ex-Bourbon barrels.

Ardbeg GROOVES Ardbeg Day Release 2018

As expected, the Islay-based distillers created a most intriguing expression, a mellow whisky that proves all you need is love – and peat. Ardbeg harked back to the 1960s ‘Summer Of Love’ with its latest Ardbeg Day limited release, Ardbeg Grooves.

For this year’s bottling, Director of Distilling, Whisky Creation and Whisky Stocks Dr Bill Lumsden has matured part of the whisky in re-toasted red wine casks. These casks were intensely charred to create heavy grooves in the surface of the wood, designed to produce more intense flavours of ‘smoked spices, distant bonfires and chilli-seasoned meats’.

Ardbeg Grooves is bottled at 46% and is a time-limited edition, priced in the £95-100 region. A presumably 6-10 YO that is not all that complex, but just right for the prey theme. A satisfying pour of whisky, in a lineup that’s tough to compete within. The wine-finished elements are shy, perhaps too shy! Ignoring the expectations of wine-influences, this is a pretty good modern scotch with plenty of spice and lots of sweetness.



A mile from Laphroaig in one direction and Ardbeg in another, Lagavulin Distillery can be found on the southeastern edge of Islay, firmly in Scotland’s peat zone. The smallest of Scotland’s designated whiskey-making regions is known for churning out the smokiest scotches in the world. Now, Lagavulin completionists have another to hunt down: Lagavulin 10-year. This will be a permanent addition to the Islay distillery’s core range. Fans of iconic hard hitting Scotch whiskies have an extra reason to jet off on an adventure this summer with the 10 YO.

The single malt has been matured in a combination of ex-Bourbon, refill and newly-charred rejuvenated casks before being botted at 43% ABV. The whisky is said to be initially ‘sweet and salty’ on the palate with an ‘intense spicy and smoky finish’. The label now has some keywords to describe the taste: smooth, intense, smoky and warming. Its profile would be closer to the 16 Years than to the 8 Years. 

Dr C. Wilson, master of malts at Lagavulin owner Diageo, said: ‘The different wood types used create a whisky with a fiery yet light, smoky yet smooth character – one that is filled with surprising contrasts. ‘To many people, Lagavulin is the definitive Islay malt and, like other members of the family, this new expression has a charming layers of exuberance. It’s best enjoyed neat or with water, which helps unlock some of the deeper flavour. 

Priced at £50 per 70cl bottle, Lagavulin 10 Year Old is exclusive to Dufry, a travel retailer operating more than 2,300 stores in 63 countries. The 10 Year Old was first unveiled at Fèis Ìle 2019 – the Islay Festival of Music and Malt – alongside the distillery’s 19-year-old festival exclusive expression. 

After 10 long years in a variety of American Oak barrels, the fiery yet light, smoky yet smooth new make is cut to a Scotch-standard 75 proof (43% ABV), the distillery’s new expression is projected to be a permanent fixture in its portfolio going forward. There’s only one problem — you can only find it at airports, that too, those housing Dufry Duty Free Stores.

Tuesday 20 August 2019



I find that my ability to buy Scotch far outpaces my ability to drink it. Every time I go through Duty Free wherever, I seem to leave with a handful of bottles and now I have at least forty I haven’t even opened yet! Fortunately, like wine, the rules for storing Scotch are simple and it is far less delicate than wine!

Avoid Light, Air, Heat

The enemies of Scotch are light, air and heat. The key to storing your Scotch so that it remains unchanged is to minimise its contact to all three:

Why does light affect Scotch? Unlike beer, which is usually bottled in dark brown bottles, Scotch is generally stored in lighter coloured bottles, usually clear, to show of its amazing radiant colour. Beer is stored in dark bottles to protect it from light, which changes the chemical composition of hops. When you boil hops, it releases/produces isohumulones, aka isomerised alpha acids, which produces the same chemicals that skunks spray when they come into contact with visible or UV light (hence the term “skunked beer”). Scotch is less affected by this but it still is a factor.

Why does air affect Scotch? The reason air affects Scotch has to do with oxidation, the same reason it affects wines and other spirits once they’ve been open.

Why does heat affect Scotch? It’s really a mixture of heat and humidity but it has to do with evaporation. Scotch, unlike wine, doesn’t mature in the bottle so there’s really no “ideal” temperature (unlike wine, which is said to mature best between 55° and 60°F). You want to keep it fairly cool because a higher, dryer temperature will result in faster evaporation if the seal of the cork is not 100%.

How to Store Scotch Whisky

Knowing that light, air and heat will all change your spirit, the key is to find a cool dark place to store your Scotch. I keep mine in glass cases in the basement and I store my bottles upright. The reason wine is stored sideways on racks is because you want to keep the wine corks in contact with the wine. As wine ages, the corks will crack and keeping them in contact with the wine will help them retain moisture. With Scotch, it’s recommended that you store it upright because the higher alcohol content can degrade the cork.

Once a bottle is opened, you introduce air into the mix and oxidation begins. In general, you can keep a bottle of scotch around for about a year (though I wouldn’t toss it unless it tastes bad) after it’s been opened, longer if you suck the air out of the bottle. If you get down to the last few drams, be aware that there’s more air inside now and the timeline shortens.

If you want to get the air out, you can use this wine preserver (it’s just nitrogen in a compressed can, 120 uses, and that’ll cover the whisky inside with a layer of non-oxidizing nitrogen) or get a wine saver. So keep it dark and cool (and sealed!) and you should be fine however you store it.

This blog is a reprint of a blog posted by



Munro's King of Kings - 1960s (76cl, 40%)

This handsome piece is a collectible presented in a two tone ceramic decanter of Munro's King of Kings blended Scotch whisky, which was produced in the 1960s. It was made by James Munro & Sons - interestingly, James Munro & Sons also ran the Dalwhinnie distillery back in the early 1900s.

Munro's Profile

Blended Scotch Whisky

Leith whisky blender James Munro & Son produced a series of blended scotch whiskies under the Munro’s name. Munro had a thing about the monarchy, for among its blends were King of the North and Queen’s Club. Its most enduring creation however, was the Munro’s King of Kings Rare Old Deluxe Scotch Whisky. It was bottled in a dumpy, short-necked bottle, and a stoneware flagon that has become popular among collectors.

The company was also known for its Munro’s Square Bottle, a blended whisky presented in a dumpy bottle that was imported to the US, along with Munro’s King of Kings, by New York’s Epicure Wines and Spirits Co. at the end of Prohibition. The blends would have undoubtedly contained whisky from Dalwhinnie distillery, which James Munro & Son operated on behalf of its US parent company until 1919.

Munro's History

The Leith-based blending firm of James Munro & Son must have been of a decent size to attract the attention of America’s biggest distiller at the turn of the 20th century. This was Cook & Bernheimer of New York & Baltimore, which bought the firm and then used it to run the Dalwhinnie distillery, which it bought for £1,250 in 1905. Some in the Scotch whisky industry feared it was the start of a US takeover, while others believed it would help open up the largely untapped American market. Indeed, by Christmas 1905 Cook & Bernheimer was already advertising James Munro & Son’s Long and Short ‘pot still Scotch’ in New York newspaper Brooklyn Eagle, as a whisky ‘made at the highest distillery in Scotland’ (Dalwhinnie).

A 1914 ‘Who’s Who in Business’ directory listed James Munro & Son as based in ‘palatial new offices’ at 121 Constitution Street, Leith. The company’s speciality was ‘Scotch whisky in square bottles,’ – a reference to Munro’s Square Bottle no doubt – and that it was ‘purveyor to the House of Lords’. With the onset of US Prohibition, James Munro & Son was bought by Macdonald Greenlees in 1919, and then by Distillers Company Ltd. in 1926. In later years the DCL licensed Knockdhu distillery to James Munro & Sons.

Grant's Deluxe Scotch Decanter - 1970s (75cl, 43%)

This is a 1970s bottling of William Grant & Son’s delightful deluxe Blended Scotch whisky presented in a neat two-toned Navy Blue and Cream collectible ceramic decanter. 


This famous whisky’s main brands in this blend come from Glenfiddich and Balvenie Single Malts from the Dufftown District.


The nose is quite soft and light. There are notes of malted barley and toasted cereals with the requisite sweetness. The palate is of good body and quite sweet. There are notes of toffee and caramel with vanilla fudge and a touch of gentle, supple oak. The finish is of medium-length.

Best served at room temperature to enjoy neat, on ice or with a splash of still or sparkling water.

Grant’s have also created two ceramic jugs alongside.

QE2 Ceramic Whisky 75cl Decanter Single Malt Over 12 YO 48.6% ABV

Product Description

Sealed Ceramic QE2 Decanter of over 12 year old Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Bottled in Scotland by Beinn Bhuidhe Holdings Limited, Inverary, Argyll.

Decanter Details

Black ceramic decanter with “QE2 – Single Malt Scotch Whisky- 12- Over twelve years old--Bottled in Scotland by Beinn Bhuidhe Holdings Limited, Inverary, Argyll--75cl -48.6% Vol. – 97US proof” in gold. Presented in a Black leatherette box with a tartan formed lining for the decanter complete with matching stopper. The box has a line drawing of the QE2 in gold inside the box lid.On the outside of the lid is “QE2 Single Malt Scotch Whisky” in gold lettering, which has a matching gold border around the lid top, from the onboard gift shop.

Vintage Long John Scotch Whisky Stoneware Jug

Two-Toned Handled Ceramic Pitcher/Decanter

A vintage Long John Scotch whisky stoneware jug dating to the 1960's. This is a rare and highly collectible glazed ceramic pitcher from Long John Distilleries, in Glasgow, Scotland. The dark green and cream decanter advertises the original contents and the company on the front and features a raised horseshoe on the top. The pottery whisky bottle still has its ceramic and cork stopper. Also available at Le Bonheur Vintage.


The stoneware jug is 8" high (20 cm) and 4.5" (12 cm) in diameter at its widest.

Glenfiddich 8 Year Old Ceramic Jug 75cl

Glenfiddich was founded by William Grant, who had learned his craft at Mortlach, and the first spirit ran from the stills on Christmas Day 1887. Glenfiddich is also credited with creating the world's interest in single malt whisky with the launch of the Straight Malt in 1963. Still family owned, it was the first single malt brand to sell 1 million cases in a year.
Age: 10 years old

Strength: 86°US Proof; Contents 26FL Ozs

Glenturret 21 Year Old

Gold Ceramic Jug: 70cl / 40%

Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky Distillery Bottling
A delightfully presented ceramic decanter, decorated in the style of a copper still. The jug style decanter contains Glenturret 21 year old and comes with accompanying stopper. Glenturret is the spiritual home of the Famous Grouse blend, for which most of its production is used. This jug is accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity from the distillery.

Royal Salute

Royal Salute is a brand of Scotch whisky produced by Chivas Brothers (owned by Pernod Ricard), founded in 1801 in Aberdeen, Scotland. The Royal Salute brand's home is Strathisla Distillery at Keith, Moray in Speyside, Scotland. The distillery was founded in 1786, and it is the oldest working distillery in the Highlands of Scotland. The Strathisla distillery is owned by Chivas Brothers, and Strathisla Single Malt is one of the malt whiskies used within the Royal Salute blend.

Royal Salute was launched on 2nd June 1953 as a tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on her Coronation Day. This rich and complex whisky from Chivas is aged for 21 years in oak casks before bottling in handcrafted porcelain flagons. This expression is bottled in porcelain flagons, produced by Wade porcelain, incorporating the image of Robert the Bruce and bearing a Gaelic motto which translates as "fidelity, stability since 1801. The name of this exceptional Scotch Whisky comes from the 21 Gun Royal Salute, which is fired as a mark of respect for powerful dignitaries.


This is a blended malt produced by Gordon & MacPhail to mark the millennium. In many ways, this is something of an odd release, coming as it does in a two-litre ceramic flagon and containing malts that amount to a total of 2,000 years of age.

Given the kinds of ancient malts Gordon & MacPhail used to plaster about the shops in the late 1990s you can only imagine the juice it put in this mad decanter to get the combined age up to 2,000 years. It certainly shows on the nose: aged tobacco, dark fruit cordial, damp earthen cellars, rancio, walnut wine, camphor, sultanas stewed in old Cognac, mineral oils… just superb. A thrilling and sumptuous demonstration of old-school Sherry casks.The flavours match the anticipation kindled by the aromas perfectly – all that’s missing is more oomph of alcohol to carry them home. 

This is where 40% ABV really feels like a flaw in such a whisky. Even a few extra degrees of alcohol would have helped add the necessary punch. Having said that this is still beautiful and full of leafy tobacco, strawberry cordial, herbal syrup, mint essence, lemon cough drops and walnut oils. Old-style Sherry and old-school malt whisky entwined in harmony, a gorgeous wee dram. 

Japanese Whisky in Beautiful Ceramic and Porcelain Decanters

For storage and display, ceramic or porcelain-made decanters are a popular choice for Japanese whiskies. Many whisky companies release limited editions of whiskies in rare bottles for special occasions from holidays to commemorations. Perfect as a holiday gift, these beautiful whisky bottles are more than just their exteriors. Check out this list of luxurious liquor from Japan and their complementing containers:
Nikka Whisky Tsuru 17 Year Old White Ceramic Bottle


This 43% ABV (75° proof) Japanese whisky from Nikka was blended with a well-rounded depth and smooth refined palate in mind. To this end, a soft but luxuriant type of malt was selected as the key ingredient. This delicate balance, achieved by the Nikka whisky team of blenders, is imbued with mellowness, sweet balmy freshness and a smooth texture after 17 years of ageing. Bottle size is 700ml.
Cost: US$459.99

Mars Cask Strength 13 Year Old Whisky


Mars Shinshu may not be the largest whisky distillery in Japan, but it more than makes up for its size with its elegance and grace. Bottles from this distillery are popular. This particular 13 year old extremely rare Japanese Single Malt whisky distilled by Hombo Mars Distillery is presented in a beautiful 72cl ceramic bottle at cask strength of 58.3% ABV. This is one of the best Mars has to offer!
Cost: US$369.99

Suntory Hibiki 35 Year Old (Tokuda Yasokichi III)


The Hibiki 35 Year Old Japanese Blended Whisky from Suntory Distillery is, in short, a work of an art. Not only is it the oldest Hibiki you will ever come across, it is also presented in a specially made porcelain bottle made by one of the masters of porcelain making, Tokuda Yasokichi III, from porcelain coming from Arita in Saga Prefecture. In total, only 150 bottles were made; presented in a wooden case, this is a bottle made for collectors of rare world class whisky. The 70cl bottled blend is at 43% ABV.
Cost: US$44,999.99


Ceramic jugs are indeed collectibles, but its contents do not appreciate over time. On the other hand, Porcelain jugs are equally collectible and its contents do appreciate over time. Not only is porcelain tile more dense than ceramic tile, but due to its through-body composition, it is considered more durable and better suited for heavy usage than ceramic tile. Both types are affected where market value is concerned because bottle-fill level cannot be seen.