Brighton Whisky Tasting Masterclass

Single Malt Whisky Tasting in Brighton

25 lucky Brighton folk enjoyed a very special whisky tasting at The Southern Belle in Waterloo Street, Hove, a fantastic pub with a wonderful range of real ales, craft gins, vodkas and of course great single malt whisky all served by a fantastic team of people.

You can stay at The Belle, the rooms are of a really high standard but great value too, some even have sea views! Sunday lunches at the pub have become quite famous across Brighton so if you thinking of trying it out, give the lovely people at The Belle a call to book!

Whisky Masterclass Brighton

Jayne the owner of The Southern Belle very kindly allowed us to use the dining room for our tasting. I presented a flight of 6 tasty whiskies without letting our guests know what each whisky was before they tasted it. Quite often at my whisky tasting masterclasses, I like the guests to do the work and to try to evaluate the special spirits in front of them before I reveal their true identities.

What is Involved in a Whisky Tasting?

I can talk about whisky forever. I have to make sure that I keep to an agenda or else the poor guests would be listening to me until midnight. Usually, as well as tasting 6 awesome whiskies, and as well as having the opportunity to get answers to as many questions about whisky as they like, guests can expect to learn about the following:

  • The definition of single malt whisky
  • Other whisky definitions
  • Ideal glassware
  • Personal preference: Water / Ice / and other controversial subjects!
  • How to taste
  • History of whisky production in the United Kingdom
  • How whisky makes the journey from field to table
  • The whisky boom
  • The future of single malt whisky

Whisky Tastings for Your Christmas Party in Brighton

If you are looking for a special event for your office Christmas party, or for your corporate event in Brighton, please give me a call and we can tailor make a whisky tasting or a gin tasting to fit your needs. If you have any questions at all please call David on 07875 405 980.

Whisky Tasting Corporate

Whisky Events in Brighton

We are planning lots of whisky tasting events in Brighton in the near future. We are hoping to host regular events at both The Southern Belle and at North Laines Brew House. We are planning a whisky and chocolate to take place on Wednesday the 13th December in conjunction with Cheeky Cacao. Watch this space for tickets!

The Set List For Our Whisky Tasting @ The Southern Belle

Craigellachie 2008 / 8 year old bottled by Signatory 43% matured in two bourbon barrels

‘Ayrshire’ Single Grain 1998 / 18 years old bottled by Signatory

Kilchoman Machir Bay, Islay Single Malt, 46%

‘Burnside’ 20 year old bottled by Chorlton Whisky, 51.7% – the favourite dram of the evening

Bunnahabhain Stiuireadair Islay Single Malt Whisky, 46.3%

‘Bealach Ruadh’ 8 year old bottled by Chorlton Whisky, Islay Single Malt, 58%

We’ll be in Brighton next month, this time I’m definitely going to make it to Nowhere Man for some lovely pancakes!




Tasting Dinners – The Perfect Celebration

Whisky Tasting Dinner

Christmas is just around the corner! Our town centre festive lights are going up and it will only be a week or so before they are switched on! We are hosting more and more tasting dinners where we are working with chefs to pair whiskies and gins with food. If you are planning a celebration, a Christmas party or a dinner for your business or corporate event, we’ll host a special tasting for you and your guests, expertly pairing drinks with each course of your meal.

Whisky with Food

Whisky is great with food. Pairing whiskies with food can often change people’s mind on Scotch, it can help them enjoy those peaty or smokey drams that they thought they didn’t like. It is hard to not love haggis when paired with lightly peated whiskies such as Talisker Single Malt Whisky from the Isle of Skye or to dislike Lagavulin Islay single malt whisky when you pair the pedro ximenez Distiller’s Edition (kept in the freezer along with the glasses for a minimum of 24 hours, served in the frozen glasses after having observed it pour like treacle) with red hot sticky toffee pudding. All this is making my mouth water at the thought. Staying with Lagavulin, try it with roquefort cheese, a match made in heaven.

Pics above courtesy of Make It Matte Black.


Pic courtesy of One Little Daisy.

Whisky and Seafood

Islay whiskies, particularly peaty and smokey whiskies from the whisky capital of the world, go perfectly with seafood, particularly shellfish. The fishing industry on Islay is largely focussed on shellfish so for it to be great with Islay whisky makes it another perfect pairing.

Islay Seafood

Whisky Tasting Dinner

I hosted a whisky tasting dinner in Nottingham last week at Alea Casino. The dinner took place in the private dining room in the Marco Pierre White Steak House restaurant. The food and service was fantastic and our guests had a wonderful evening. Everyone enjoyed the whisky pairings as well as the food, here is what we enjoyed:

Scottish smoked salmon with caper berry salad and black rye bread with Lagavulin 16 year old Islay Single Malt Whisky

Roast sirloin of beef with yorkshire pudding and jus served with seasonal vegetables and potatoes with Tamnavulin Double Cask Speyside Single Malt Whisky

Sticky Toffee Pudding with frozen Singleton of Dufftown 12 year old Speyside Single Malt Whisky served in frozen glasses

During the evening we also enjoyed three other drams. There were independent bottlings of Caol Ila, Bruichladdich and Glenlossie on show too, all of which were very much enjoyed by our guests.

If you are interested in us hosting a whisky dinner for you and your guests, whether at a private party or at a corporate event, please call David on 07875 405 980 or send a message via our contact page.

Scheduled Whisky Tasting Dinners

We have a number of scheduled whisky tasting dinners taking place at various venues in the weeks leading up to Christmas 2018. We will be hosting whisky tasting dinners in Nottingham, Stoke on Trent, Stafford, Sheffield, Buxton and in the Peak District. Here are some of the events we have planned so far, please click the link for more information or if you would like to enquire about tickets.

Single Malt Whisky and Food Pairing – 6th December, South 16, Buxton.

Whiskies of the World and Nibbles Tasting – 8th December, Picture House Social, Sheffield.

Whisky Tasting Dinner – 11th December, The Moat House, Acton Trussell, Stafford.

The Moat House is selling vouchers for each of their whisky tasting dinners, we think this makes the perfect Christmas gift for the whisky lover in your life. Click here to enquire about whisky tasting dinner vouchers.

We also have whisky dinners taking place at The Moat House at Acton Trussell in January and February. We are hosting lots of private dinner events before Christmas, and many around Burn’s Night in January.

Gin Tastings With Food

We regularly host gin tastings with G&Ts paired with tapas or canapes. We recently hosted a gin and tapas evening at South 16 in Buxton which was a great success. if you would like us to host a gin tasting for you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!



Whisky Tastings in The Peak District

Whisky Tasting Sheffield

As Autumn starts to set in and the early evenings cooler and certainly darker, it really does start to feel like the time of year that truly lends itself to a dram outdoors. Whether you’re in front of a roaring fire at home, enjoying a bonfire, fishing, shooting, or whilst on a country walk, a good Scotch makes a very welcome companion.

Whisky Tasting

Recently, I was delighted to be asked if I would join a walk from the outskirts of Sheffield in to the Peak District. The walk was organised by Penny Lee of Walking Whisky Wellness and was lead by Tomo Thompson of The Path Less Travelled.

The Peak District National Park was the first National Park in the UK and we are very lucky to have it on our doorstep. Tomo regularly arranges and leads walks in and around the Peaks so made the perfect guide.

We were joined by a dozen or so wonderful folk, mainly from Sheffield but some from a little further afield and the idea was to share ideas, to network, and to enjoy the bright autumn afternoon along the banks of the Porter Brook with intermittent drams along the way and goodies from La Coppola Deli to warm our cockles.

Peak District Holidays

If you are arranging a holiday in the Peak District, we can host a whisky tasting in your holiday home or a tasting in your holiday accommodation for you and your guests. Call David on 07875 405 980 or click here to send us a message.

The Peak District has many large self catering houses, click here to see some of the best of them at Party Houses UK.

Whisky Tasting Peak District Holiday

Whisky Tasting Bakewell

Whisky Tasting Bakewell

Whisky Peak District

Peak District Whisky Tasting

The above five awesome photos are credited to Department Two who joined us as guests on the walk.

The Whiskies

We had a lovely list of whiskies for our guests to try. Tomo took time to find the perfect places for us to stop and enjoy a dram. I wanted to find drams that really did lend themselves to the outdoors in Autumn, here is the set list:

Glengoyne 10 year old Highland Single Malt Whisky

The Whisky Lounge


Dailuaine 7 year old Speyside Single Malt Whisky bottled by Hepburns Choice

The Whisky Lounge

Bunnahabhain Stiuireadair Islay Single Malt Whisky

Whisky tasting bakewell

Laphroaig 10 years old Islay Single Malt Whisky

The Whisky Lounge

Whisky Tasting Sheffield

The above fab four photos are courtesy of Make It Matte Black

La Coppola Deli Sheffield

La Coppola Deli – Sheffield

I love Sheffield for many reasons, the parks, the village vibe, the pubs, the ale, the food, the craic and most of all the people. Like Glasgow, like Stoke you’ll find the friendliest folk in these cities steeped in an industrial past.

The wonderful guys at La Coppola treated us to a very tasty and warming spread once we returned from our walk, blankets, hot drinks and a fire were very welcome after our long walk. We enjoyed all sort of goodies including meats, cheeses, Italian pastries and breads. I’m looking forward to heading back to the award winning La Coppola in the near future to host a tasting there so watch our events page for more info!

The Ultimate Outdoor Whisky

So what is the best whisky for enjoying in the countryside? As ever, there is no such thing as ‘the best’ but I like to think the extremes of flavour profiles usually fit the bill.

Last night at a bonfire at a friends house up in the hills above Buxton and deepest darkest Peak District National Park, I shared a dram with my friend who doesn’t usually take to peaty / smokey whiskies. “Oh, what’s this!?’ he asked, and was amazed when I revealed that it was Laphroaig 10 year old, as peaty whiskies go, up there with the best in terms of phenols and certainly more than a match for neighbours Ardbeg and Lagavulin on Islay. He loved the Laphroaig because of the big smokey aroma and flavours, he loved it because it nosed of the outdoors and bonfires and autumn nights.

The best whiskies remind you of somewhere, someone or something. To me, Laphroaig smells of old wax jackets, of smouldering damp leaf fires, remnant smoke from fading fireworks and most of all bonfires. To me it is the perfect outdoor dram.

I also think the big rich, sweet, sherry matured drams like Bunnahabhain Stiuireadair are really great enjoyed outdoors when the weather is cooler. Sherry matured whisky like this comes across all Christmas Day, spicey, with coffee and toffee notes and always with a long finish with the faintest hint of fading peat smoke. Awesome.

Bonfire Whisky

Whisky Tasting Peak District

Gin Tastings on Your Peak District Holiday

Gin Tastings Peak District

Enjoy a Gin Tasting In Your Holiday Accommodation

If you are getting together with friends for a break in the Peak District, have us come to you and we’ll host a fun and informative gin tasting in your holiday accommodation. Prices start from as little as £18 per person for me to come along and host a very special tasting for you. I used to manage one of the largest distilleries in Scotland so when I host a tasting it is authentic and the perfect opportunity for guests to learn from an industry expert, as well as to enjoy damn fine spirits of course!

The Peak District is the perfect destination for large groups to get together, whether it be a family gathering, a stag or hen party or a business meeting, there are dozens of large self catering houses available for hire on a weekly basis or just for a weekend.

Gin Tastings in Your Peak District Holiday House

We are based in the Peak District so it is easy for us to get to any location within the national park. If you book me to host a gin tasting in your holiday accommodation I bring along all the glasses, tasting notes, garnishes, gins and tonics and set up in plenty of time for your guests getting together for the tasting.

Gin Tasting Peak District


Gin Tastings in the Peak District

Usually during our gin tastings I present 6 craft gins from around the UK. We taste the 6 gins neat in the first instance, so that we can compare and contrast each of the spirits. We then mix the perfect serve G&T with tonic and garnishes as suggested by each distiller.

During the tasting I talk about the history of gin production and also explain exactly how gin makes the special journey from field to glass. Space permitting I often give a virtual tour of a distillery in order to explain the process.

If you would like to contact to enquire about a private gin tasting, please complete the form below and we will be back to you as soon as possible!

Peak District Whisky Tasting

The Peak District National Park

The Peak District National Park is a wonderful place to holiday, with breathtaking scenery and activities galore for all the family to enjoy. The Peak District became the first national park in the UK in 1951, and with excellent transport links coupled with its proximity to Manchester, Stoke-on-Trent, Derby, Sheffield, Birmingham, the M1 and the M6, it attracts millions of visitors every year.

The Peak District is the perfect destination for large groups to get together, whether it be a family gathering, a stag or hen party or a business meeting, there are dozens of large self catering houses available for hire on a weekly basis or just for a weekend.

Peak District Activities

There is so much to see and do in the Peak District, there really is something for everyone. There are miles of paths to explore, market towns to visit like Buxton, Bakewell, Leek and Ashbourne and many places of historic interest. Outdoor activities such as climbing, sailing, canoeing are very popular.

Fishing in the Peak District

The Peak District is one of the best places to fish in the UK. Many rivers rise in the hills above Leek and Buxton. Within only a couple of miles of each other the rivers Wye, Dove, Dane, Manifold, Goyt and Churnet all emerge and start their long journeys towards the sea. Having so many mountain rivers makes the peak district the fly fisherman’s paradise. The rivers of Derbyshire and Staffordshire are world famous for Trout and Grayling not least because of Izaak Walton and Charles Cotton.

We can arrange fly fishing for you, we can also arrange fishing guides. Please contact us for more information or to arrange fly fishing.

Peak District Gin Tastings

Links to Large Self Catering Houses in the Peak District

Peak Venues:

Peak Venues have many quality large group self catering houses in the Peak District National Park. They have houses that can accommodate 2 to 43 guests. Celebrate birthdays, wedding anniversaries, hen weekends, stag weekends, family reunions, corporate breaks in fabulous rural or village locations.

Party Houses:

Party Houses have many top quality large self catering houses in the Peak District and across the Midlands. Again these venues are perfect for family gatherings, corporate breaks and special occasions.

We hope to see you in the Peak District soon!


Port Ellen Distillery To Reopen

Port Ellen Distillery

Another New Islay Distillery

My former colleagues on Islay and whisky enthusiasts around the globe are in for an exciting period in the next few years as the continuing boom in sales of single malt whisky and soaring interest in the whisky category has led to Diageo announcing that Port Ellen Distillery on Islay and Brora Distillery in Sutherland are both to reopen in 2020.

Port Ellen Distillery

Both Port Ellen and Brora were forced to close down in 1983 when whisky found itself out of favour and sales plummeted. Port Ellen has operated as a commercial maltings ever since malting 550 tonnes of barley every week to chiefly supply Caol Ila, Lagavulin but also smaller amounts for competitor distilleries on Islay.

Port Ellen Distillery

Port Ellen Single Malt Whisky

Port Ellen and Brora single malts have regularly featured in the Diageo annual special releases and command very high retail prices running in to thousands of pounds. Collectors and enthusiasts will be delighted that these iconic distilleries and brands are being brought back to life, albeit on a small scale. Diageo have hinted that the distilleries will produce on a small scale, probably around 800,000 ltrs of alcohol per year between the two new sites, with meticulous attention to detail in an effort to closely replicate the style of the old distillates. Brora and Port Ellen will be the smallest distilleries in the Diageo portfolio of 30 whisky producing sites.

The New Port Ellen Distillery

The new Port Ellen Distillery will be housed in a new building alongside the existing Port Ellen Maltings, presumably making use of some of the empty original distillery buildings in Kiln Square. Diageo will have given much thought to water sources, the old distillery used two lochs, one of which will now be supplying the maltings with steeping water, perhaps the other will supply the new distillery. In any case permission and consents will have been sought with SEPA, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, to abstract enough water for mashing, cooling and cleaning purposes. The old water holding reservoir is still visible behind the houses at Bay View in Port Ellen, this will no doubt be put to use again once the distillery is open.

Distillery Islay

The malted barley won’t have to travel far of course, it will either come directly from the maltings next door, or, like many other new craft distilleries, the owners may decide to install their own floor maltings, particularly as the site will have huge visitor numbers who would enjoy seeing the traditional method of malting. The peat will be exclusively from Islay as you would expect. In order to produce 400,000 ltrs of alcohol per year, the new distillery will require around 1000 tonnes of malted barley each year, this equates to around 20 tonnes per week if you take in to account likely down time in silent season. 20 tonnes of malted barley doesn’t sound a lot but when you consider that when Caol Ila is running at full pelt it requires 350 tonnes per week and Lagavulin uses around 122 tonnes per week, this doesn’t leave a lot of surplus for the competitor sites, just 78 tonnes in fact. 20 tonnes for the new distillery could potentially mean a reduction of 25% of surplus malt for the other distilling sites which is a huge difference so I would imagine that plans are in place for either extra malting capacity at the existing maltings or a traditional kiln and malting floor to be installed at the new distillery. We’ll have to wait and see!

Islay Distillery Tour

Given the small production figures, I would have thought it likely that the new distillery will only have one wash and one spirit still, the old distillery had a wash still with around 16000 ltr capacity and a spirit still with around 9500 ltrs capacity so it will be interesting to see if the new stills are of similar sizes. Diageo will without doubt be keen to ensure that the stills replicate in shape the original stills at Port Ellen so as to create a very similar spirit.

The warehouses from the old Port Ellen distillery still stand, and most must now be nearly empty as the old stocks are depleted and now that warehousing space is no longer being let out to competitor distillers such as Kilchoman. It will be great to see these old traditional dunnage warehouses filling up again with casks full of Port Ellen spirit. Sitting right on the sea shore, these warehouses will make the perfect place to once again mature Port Ellen single malt whisky.

Port Ellen will also have a new Brand Home, a visitor centre where enthusiasts from around the world will be able to enjoy tours and tastings. I have to say that I’m quite envious of my former colleagues who will see the iconic Port Ellen Distillery come back to life bringing the number of distilleries on Islay to 10.

There will be people who challenge what Diageo are doing, there will be sceptics who say the spirit doesn’t resemble the old Port Ellen style, indeed someone left me a comment to say that Port Ellen isn’t reopening, it wasn’t mothballed, it was completely closed, but in answer to this I would say, would we rather not have a new Port Ellen Distillery, are we not excited about the single malt whisky being made on this historic site? Yes the equipment will be new, the mill, the mash tun and the stills but if anyone can come close to replicating the old spirit profile it is Diageo. They have an exceptional wealth of talent at their disposal, both within Diageo Malt Distilling and within the team on Islay. They have employees and contractors who remember the old distillery, who visited it frequently, who had brothers, fathers and grand fathers who worked in the old distillery. Above all they have an abundance of distilling experience and this will ensure that the spirit is as close to the old Port Ellen spirit style as possible. At the very least the opening of the new distillery will mean a dozen new jobs in all probability which will be great for the economy of the island.

This is great news for the whisky industry, brilliant news for Islay but also fantastic news for our guests on our Guided Islay Distillery Experiences which we arrange regularly as they’ll get to visit Port Ellen Distillery!

Gin Tasting Leek

Visit Islay and Port Ellen With Distilled Events!

Click here for more information about our Guided Islay Distillery Experiences. We are taking bookings for a week long guided tour of Islay and her distilleries commencing on Saturday 24th March 2018.

We will also have accommodation available in a large luxury house for upto 10 guests during Feis Ile – Islay Whisky Festival 2018. Please contact us here if you would like more information.

Slainte and happy drams!


Port Ellen Distillery

All pictures courtesy of Joe Scrivens of One Little Daisy Photography