Tag Archives: Drink Supermarket

Crown Royal ‘Northern Harvest Rye’

Bought: Drink Supermarket, 12th June 2017

97.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2017
78.24/100 – Whiskybase (average from 133 member votes)

Jim Murray, author of the Whisky Bible, gave his 2016 ‘World Whisky of the Year’ award to the Crown Royal ‘Northern Harvest Rye’ (NHR) but specifically to bottle code L5083 N3. My bottle is code L5098 N5, whatever that means. The 5098 sounds quite close to the 5083 Jim Murray had but the N3 and N5 might refer to completely separate stills. Perhaps still number N5 is in a different building where it only has its pipes cleaned every 6 years and shares the premises with a donkey sanctuary. Don’t ask me, I just drink this shit!

After the award Crown Royal didn’t exactly rush to put their prices up in Canada and the US, although I believe it sold out everywhere for a while. Crown Royal knew the NHR was a $22 blend, and so did their market, which wouldn’t tolerate the stuff if it doubled in price. But in the UK we got massively stung and even 20+ months later it’s hard to find the NHR for less than £100 in whisky shops. Thankfully Drink Supermarket had it for £55, which convinced me it was time to grab a bottle, even though I know it’s unlikely to blow my mind (and it should only be £20!). I haven’t tried Canadian rye so I’m killing two birds with one stone with the NHR when I taste it AND get to denounce Jim Murray as a crackpot.

As I researched this blog post I watched the Whisky Vault’s review of the NHR on YouTube. In it they mention Mark Bylok’s blog (here) where he discusses the big variation across the different releases of NHR. He reviews 4 separate batches and gives them scores of 93/100, 88/100, 82/100 and 78/100. So Jim Murray’s bottle could have been 97.5/100 but my L5098 N5 may only be 60/100, such is the inconsistency across the NHR range. Thankfully most whisky producers try harder than Crown Royal to keep a standard flavour across their batches otherwise reading reviews would be pointless. But in the case of NHR, unless you have the same batch number of the bottle being reviewed, take everything that’s said with a pinch of salt.

Here are the Scotch Test Dummies on YouTube with their thoughts about the Crown Royal NHR, which they reviewed before Jim Murray’s award. Since then a lot of reviews have been tainted by an anti-Murray bias so it’s nice to see an honest summary and an above average rating of 88/100 (Aug 2015). I’m not sure what batch it is though:

Lagavulin 12-year-old 2014

Bought: Drink Supermarket, 17th July 2015

89.08/100 – Whiskybase (average from 131 member votes)

Lagavulin distillery are a law unto themselves and I admire them for that. No other distillery I can think of is known for its standard 16yo, costing roughly £50, and then have an annual 12yo clocking in at £80. Admittedly it’s cask strength but does that really justify a 12yo being the same price as the excellent Talisker 18yo?! In a word, yes. This stuff is fantastic and I’ve wanted a bottle ever since I tried the Lagavulin 16yo back in the summer of 2013.

Over 89/100 on Whiskybase for this 12yo is brilliant. One of the scoring systems on Whiskybase is a weighted average of nose, taste, body, finish, price and presentation. Overall the price element of the Lagavulin 12yo gets 86/100. The Ardbeg Auriverdes I blogged about yesterday is the same price as this Lagavulin but Whiskybase members only scored it 77/100 for price and 86/100 overall. Those that buy the Lagavulin, even at £80 for a 12yo, obviously consider it good value for what it is.

If you like the Lagavulin 16yo then it’s time to take the next step and go for the 12. Somehow I think you wont be disappointed.

Here’s ‘Malts of Montreal’ with his review on You Tube (Sept 2016):

Lagavulin 2014 12yo 70cl

Scapa ‘the’ Orcadian 16-year-old

Bought: Drink Supermarket, 4th December 2014

81/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
83.25/100 – Whiskybase (average from 65 member votes)

Last year I went home to my parents in Aberdeen, Scotland and cracked open a bottle of the famous, and dearly departed Scapa 12-year-old. It was as fantastic as I remembered from previous tastings. Each year from now on I’ll make a point to have a glass during a visit. Since nobody else in the family is that interested, it could take me 10 years before I finish the bottle. I wonder how much another one will be at auction by then? Some people say that it will be oxidised and horrible after 10 years but I’ve never found this with old, open bottles of whisky. My dear old uncle Hamish, sadly no longer with us, said to give a bottle a shake to mix the top layer in with the rest, and it’s as good as new. If you don’t, you might detect a slight bitterness from the oxidation from the surface layer.

I’ve said in previous posts about being reluctant to get the Scapa 16yo because a) it doesn’t score well enough in reviews, even if it’s supposedly won awards and b) it’s overpriced for what it is. If it hadn’t been for a Black Friday discount allowing me to get the Scapa 16yo for under £40, I still wouldn’t have it today. But I might be doing this whisky an injustice. Jim Murray’s mark in his Whisky Bible 2015 is rather confusing because he gives a different score for a bottle marked ‘the’ Orcadian (which mine is) but says it’s only for the Swedish market. At 87.5/100 it sounds a lot better than the 81/100 he gives to the ordinary 16yo. Perhaps the Scapa distillery realised the whole world deserved the good stuff and not just their Scandinavian ancestors.

I still have hope that one day we’ll see a return of the Scapa 12yo to battle it out with other 12-year-olds from the likes of Highland Park, Glenlivet and Glenmorangie, because the distillery has a lot to offer on a wider world scale. As for this 16yo, I will have to take a sample up to Aberdeen and compare it against its former younger brother. I have a feeling I wont be disappointed with the new 16yo.

Here’s Andy of ‘Single Malt Maniac’ with his review on You Tube (June 2013):

Scapa 16yo 70cl


Old Pulteney 21-year-old

Bought: Drink Supermarket, 4th December 2014

97.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
87.52/100 – Whiskybase (average from 69 member votes)
9/10 – Whisky Wednesday (video below)

I bought this bottle of Old Pulteney 21yo on Black Friday when Drink Supermarket was offering 20% off their normal prices. Fantastic news you might think but it almost killed my interest in buying whisky thereafter. Whisky is expensive stuff, so when you can get it for less you don’t want to pay full price again, if you can avoid it. Unfortunately, only buying whisky on one discount day per year isn’t an option my addiction will allow.

Like the Ardbeg Uigeadail I last blogged about, the Old Pulteney 21yo is one of those rare whiskies that scores top marks in the Whisky Bible. Jim Murray’s review dates back to 2012 where he gives the nose full marks of 25/25. The taste scores highly too with the comment “nerve-tingling journey of barley at varying intensity and then a slow but magnificently complete delivery of spice.” The Bible concludes with “absolutely exploding from the glass with vitality, charisma and class”.

The Old Pulteney 21yo was awarded “World Whisky of the Year” in the Whisky Bible 2012, which instantly set it up to be shot down. I’ve read several reviews that say “not the best whisky I’ve tasted” but that’s hardly surprising. It’s like being told you’re about to see the funniest comedian in the world so the instant reaction is “go on then, make me laugh!” But there’s no denying the quality of this single malt. A whisky no collection should be without, or an enthusiast should fail to try.

Here’s Jo of ‘Whisky Wednesday’ with his review on You Tube (July 2015):

Old Pulteney 21yo 70cl

Ardbeg ‘Uigeadail’

Bought: Drink Supermarket, 4th December 2014

97.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
89/100 – Ralfy, Ardbeg Uigeadail Review, YouTube (May 2013)

At last! I finally got the Ardbeg Uigeadail! If you have a copy of Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible you’ll understand where my excitement is coming from. No other whisky scores more than 97.5/100 in the Bible, although there are 12 others that share the same honour. But something’s not right when you start reading Jim Murray’s review. There are 2 versions of Uigeadail. The one scoring 97.5/100 he believes is a release for the Canadian market, which he tasted in 2008 (so not a recent review) with a strength of 54.2%. Another version with a strength of 54.1% scores 89/100. Confused?! That’s whisky reviews for you!

Thankfully my bottle is 54.2%, the same as the 97.5/100 version but it seems that the Whisky Bible’s score and review are 7 years old! Perhaps a more up-to-date opinion can be gleamed from Ralfy’s review from May 2013 where he scores the Uigeadail 89/100. But he last reviewed it in March 2009 and scored it 92/100 (which is Ralfy’s highest score, so the equivalent of the Bible’s 97.5).

I’m getting the impression that standards have slipped a bit with the great Uigeadail but, as I’ve not tasted it before, will I notice or even care? Probably not. I’m also beginning to spot a trend in long-term whisky reviewers that, a lot of the time they say “whisky tasted so much better in the old days!” or words to that effect. Is this true or, as science proved many years ago, taste degrades as we grow older? But there can be other factors. I’m reminded of a lovely occasion during a family gathering when I first experienced the Lagavulin 16yo. I was thoroughly enjoying myself and a single malt had never tasted better! Over a year later I tried it again, sober and alone, and it didn’t taste half as nice. Nostalgia has a lot to answer for! So how accurate can reviews and re-reviews be if our changing age, mood, and other external factors influence our taste?

Well, the answer is, if you want to try a whisky you’ve never experienced before, if the majority of people say it’s good, chances are it is. Combine that with knowing your whisky likes and dislikes (peat or no peat?) you’ll rarely buy a bad dram, especially from a reliable distillery. But, avoid drinking whisky when you’re feeling miserable! I always find that cake is a better choice!

Ardbeg Uigeadail 70cl


Tobermory 10-year-old

Bought – Drink Supermarket, 28th July 2013

85/100 – Whisky Bible 2013
86/100 – Ralfy, of www.ralfy.com
Review: – Ralfy – Tobermory 10yo – YouTube

Tobermory 10yo 5cl

Springbank CV

Bought as part of the ‘Campbeltown CV Collection’ (3 x 20cl bottles) along with the Hazelburn and Longrow CV, Drink Supermarket, 4th September 2013.

81.78/100 – Whiskybase (average from 11 member votes)

I thought I’d take this chance to include a link to Ralfy’s video where he creates his own whisky by combining Springbank, Hazelburn and Longrow. Since all 3 are from the same distillery this kept the resulting mix as a ‘single malt’. My brother and I ended up having a debate about this, which only goes to show that even two Scotsmen aren’t exactly clear on what constitutes a ‘single’ malt.

Here’s Ralfy’s interesting video: Bankrowburn

Here’s Jo of Whisky Wednesday with his review of the Springbank CV (Jan 2015):

Springbank CV 20cl

Old St Andrews ‘Clubhouse’

Bought – Drink Supermarket, 28th July 2013

82/100 – Whisky Bible 2013

How could anyone resist the cuteness of this bottle?! And with 82/100 from the Whisky Bible it falls into the catagory of a ‘good whisky worth trying’ so the contents is going to be nice too! My 5cl miniature set me back £3.13 but I notice ASDA do a big bottle for £21. If this tastes as good as my golf then I wont be bothering to visit ASDA. There are others in the ‘Old St Andrews’ range worth looking at though. Varieties such as Fireside, Nightcap and Twilight certainly float Jim Murray’s boat with some good scores. I’ve also seen miniatures of a Par 3 and Par 4, so I could end up with a glass golf ball collection!

Old St Andrews Clubhouse 5cl

Longrow CV

Bought – Drink Supermarket, 4th September 2013, as part of the Campbeltown CV set (3 x 20cl) along with Hazelburn and Springbank CV.

91/100 – Whisky Bible 2013
86.18/100 – Whiskybase (average from 13 member votes)

As part of my latest whisky addiction I got a copy of Ian Buxton’s book “101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die” and in it was the Longrow CV (p145 if you have a copy). I then read that it had been discontinued, so panic set in. A whisky that I’d vaguely heard of in June was now my ‘malts most wanted’ No.1 priority! But, being on a budget, and of the mind “why get one for the same price as 3!” I jumped at the chance of getting this Longrow along with a Hazelburn and Springbank. Unfortunately the Springbank in the 101 book is the 10yo, not the CV, so I was unable to kill two birds with one stone. As yet I’ve not heard that the Springbank 10yo is going to be discontinued but we could start the rumour now! There shouldn’t be any rush to get it…..or is there?!

Oh, for those of you like me who weren’t sure what the ‘CV’ stands for in connection to a whisky it’s ‘curriculum vita’ (seems obvious now…doesn’t it?!). This might be why the Longrow has been discontinued, because it presented its CV to another distillery and got a job elsewhere. Springbank and Hazelburn made the shortlist but failed the ‘walk a straight line’ test.

Here’s Jo of Whisky Wednesday with his review of the Longrow CV (Jan 2015):

Longrow CV 20cl

Hazelburn CV

Bought as part of the ‘Campbeltown CV Collection’ (3 x 20cl bottles) along with the Springbank and Longrow CV, Drink Supermarket, 4th September 2013.

78.92/100 – Whiskybase (average from 27 member votes)

Here’s Jo of Whisky Wednesday with his review of the Hazelburn CV (Jan 2015):

Hazelburn CV 20cl