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Whisky subscription services have been around for a wee while now and seem to offer a very convenient way to sample some new drams. Having never tried it for myself, I thought it might be fun to give it a go and report back on my experience. So, when an introductory offer came along from the good folks at the Dram Team, I eagerly signed up and awaited my first arrival…
For £26.99* a month, the Dram Team send you a set of six samples… 5 x 25ml & 1 x 10ml of a rare or limited edition bottling as well as a small envelope containing tasting notes for each whisk(e)y. It makes for a rather attractive looking package I must say but the service will surely live or die by the quality of the drams included…
Fortunately, judging by this first offering at least, there appears to be a strong focus on interesting, good quality spirit. There’s ‘Starward’ from Australia, ‘Teeling Small Batch’ from Ireland, ‘The Norfolk Farmers’ from the English Whisky Company, ‘F.E.W Rye Whiskey’ from Illinois, ‘Mackmyra Svensk Rok’ from Sweden and a 6 year old Paul John Indian Single Malt bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Company.
Below are my notes and scores for 5 of the drams in the selection. I didn’t feel like I could really get to grips with the Paul John and give it a fair hearing based on a 10ml sample, though I can confirm it was bloody lovely! Even a 25ml sample is a little small for review purposes but I felt I should at least give it a go so that my readers get an idea of what’s on offer here. Cometh the hour, cometh the man and all that.
A single malt from the New World Whisky distillery in Victoria. Produced from Australian barley and matured in Apera fortified wine casks.
Smell: Vanilla, Chocolate & Berries with Honey, Malt and a touch of Marzipan.
Taste: Nice mouthfeel with notes of Berry, Caramel, Orange, Toffee, Honey and Ginger.
Value for Money: Priced around £45 – £50 in the UK. I would maybe have liked to see a higher bottling strength than 43% but nonetheless an interesting dram that packs a big flavourful punch.
A small batch, blended Irish whiskey from Teeling, given a twist by extra maturation in rum casks.
Smell: Vanilla and Cream, Lemon Citrus and Cereal Grain notes.
Taste: Surprisingly thick mouthfeel for a blend, Vanilla and Spice, Oak and Creamy Lemon.
Value for Money: Very reasonably priced at around £30 – £35 – especially at 46%.
A single grain from St George’s distillery in Norfolk, matured in American Oak.
Smell: Heather Honey, Pastry, Almond, Cherry and Raspberry.
Taste: Coffee, Liquorice, Orange, Caramel and Marzipan.
Value for Money: Comes in around £45 – £50. Perhaps a touch high for a No Age Statement grain whisky but it is a pleasant dram.
A Rye whiskey from Chicago, Illinois. Takes its name from the initials of Frances Elizabeth Willard, a key figure in the Temperance movement that led to US prohibition.
Smell: Aromatic Spice with Orange, Cinnamon and Sherbet, Lemon, Toffee and Chocolate Caramel, Vanilla and Brown Sugar.
Taste: Spicy – Ginger and Chilli with Pepper, Salted Caramel and Orange.
Value for Money: Comes in around £65 in the UK but at a higher bottling strength of 46.5%. I confess that I haven’t sampled too many Rye’s in my time but I rather enjoyed this and would gladly come back for more.
Svensk Rok means Swedish Smoke. There’s not much else that needs saying…
Smell: A little strange at first, almost an ‘off’ smell. Musty even. Touch of New Make Spirit, Malt Vinegar… Then Lemon Cake, Lime, Sea Salt, Biscuit, Malt, Fudge and Coastal Peat Smoke.
Taste: A light body with sour Lemon and Orange, Honey, Wood Spice and burnt Toast, Vanilla and Earthy Peat.
Value for Money: Comes in around £50. A strange whisky, but not in a bad way. Ton of character and rather unique.
A fine selection of drams then and an encouraging introduction to the service. I must confess that I’m unlikely to stick with my subscription in the long term but thats because I am fortunate enough to live in a city like Glasgow which provides me with regular opportunities to attend tastings that offer comparable selections. Should you be devoid of such alternatives in your local area however, this service could prove completely invaluable to you. It could also be of great use to beginners who seek some guidance through all that the world of whisky has to offer. So, while it may not be for me, I can see people falling in love with those little boxes when they start showing up at their door every month…
*Since writing, the Dram Team Subscription has increased in price to £29.99.