WhiskyReviews.net is a free service and always will be. However, if you would like to support the author you can do so by subscribing for just £1 per month. Alternatively, you can make a one-off donation of your choice. Thank you for your support.
Pour & Sip is a whisky subscription service from the team behind Master of Malt. Members receive a box of five carefully curated 30ml samples straight to their door. Boxes cost £29.95 and can be received monthly, or every two months. Alternatively, you can purchase a three month subscription for £89.95.
Below I’ve given tasting notes and outlined my thoughts on the drams supplied in the box. If you have any questions about the whiskies featured or about Pour & Sip, please post in the comments section or you can connect with me on my social media accounts. Find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
*Full disclosure: I’ve been sent a subscription box free of charge so that I might sample what’s on offer. As always, I will strive to give an honest opinion on the whiskies provided.
**This page contains affiliate links. This means I can receive a small commission on any purchases you make from featured links. Other retailers are available.
Bowmore Vault Edition “Peat Smoke”
Bowmore is the oldest of Islay’s distilleries and the Vault Edition is named after the No. 1 Vault warehouse, a portion of which, lies below sea level. Bottled at 50.1% the single malt was designed to showcase the distillery’s smoky character.
I’m excited to try this dram. Bowmore doesn’t get much love from the whisky geeks and based on their core range, I can sort of understand why. Good versions of Bowmore can be really, really good and I was a fan of the higher strength Tempest bottlings from a few years ago. For me they really dialled up the salty, briny notes and showed a more intense side of Bowmore. I’m hoping that the Vault Edition is something of a successor to those expressions.
Smell: As soon as I put my nose in the glass I was transported to the shores of Loch Indaal. There’s sea shells and seaweed underfoot, ocean spray and drizzle in the air and a cloud of peat smoke is drifting along the beach from the distillery kiln. That may sound like a fantasy but I assure you it isn’t. I’ve lived the experience on several occasions and it smells just like this. In true Vault No 1 style, there’s also dusty oak and earthen floors. Beyond that there’s the character of the barley itself, honeyed and malty. Salted caramel. One of the most evocative nosing experiences I’ve had in a while. Can you tell that it’s coming up on three years since my last visit to Islay?
Taste: It’s rather light-bodied, which I often find off-putting but there’s enough flavour to grab my attention. There’s toffee and cinnamon with brown sugar and dark chocolate. Maple syrup. Soy sauce. Then some oak with plenty of charcoal and bonfire smoke. Seems to get oilier with the addition of water but some of the intensity is lost from the arrival.
Thoughts: Bowmore gets a hard time from some quarters and I think that’s mostly down to the 40% abv, artificially coloured presentation of their core range. In my own opinion, those bottles are still decent drams but there does seem to be something of a missed opportunity there. When you find a Bowmore like this one, it’s almost like a different whisky altogether. It’s wonderfully rich and complex and delivers a far bolder experience than it would at 40%. It’s not quite as intense as the Tempest bottlings but it’s a fine dram, nonetheless.
At £70 it isn’t cheap but it’s not too outrageous and while I would hesitate, I think I would get enough enjoyment out of the bottle to warrant paying the price. Fingers crossed for more bottlings like this from Bowmore in future.
You can buy the Bowmore Vault Edition at Master of Malt
Glen Scotia 18 Year Old
Glen Scotia was one of only two survivors when Campbeltown’s Victorian whisky industry came crashing down. Now owned by the Loch Lomond Group, the distillery and brand have seen significant investment in recent years.
The 18 year old was matured for 17 years in refill bourbon barrels and refill hogsheads before being finished for 12 months in oloroso sherry casks. Bottled at 46% it retails for £86.50
Smell: The nose is quite lemony fresh at first. Lots of fruits… apple, pear, orange. Then there’s some cinnamon and a little touch of ginger. Vanilla pods. A wee touch of oak. Honey. Wee bit of pepper. Very subtle dried fruits / sherry note.
Taste: Vanilla. Rum and raisin. Soon turns into salt and brine. There’s honey too. A wee touch of caramel as well. Things seem to tail off a little in the middle before there’s a blast of oak and some tingly peppery heat on the finish. A wee splash of water seemed to intensify the arrival but I still found that lull before the finish. Water brought some subtle raisin and sultana notes through.
Thoughts: This is a nice enough dram but I must confess to being a wee bit disappointed. I’m a fan of Glen Scotia and I’ve tasted this dram before, albeit in the rather unscientific atmosphere of a whisky festival. I’ve rather enjoyed it in the past but sitting down with it now and giving it my full attention, I found that it fell a little flat. It’s not a bad dram but I don’t think it lives up to the standard of their Victoriana bottling, for example. It’s tasty enough and the finish lingers for a pleasing amount of time but I just don’t know that it was special enough to warrant an asking price close to £90. Close but not quite there, for me.
You can buy the Glen Scotia 18 Year Old from Master of Malt (although I would probably advise you not to).
Daddy Rack Small Batch Straight Tennessee Whiskey
J. Arthur Rackham was in the drinks industry for 50 years before he created his own whiskey. Daddy Rack comprises a mash bill of 80% corn, 10% rye and 10% malted barley. The corn is sourced from local farmers based within 50 miles of the distillery.
The whiskey uses the Lincoln County Process, where the spirit is filtered through maple charcoal before being filled into American oak barrels. Unusually, Daddy Rack is then filtered through the charcoal a second time, when the whiskey is drained from the cask.
Smell: Lots of cereals up front along with a smoky charcoal note. Caramel. Vanilla. Lots of oaky spice and a wee touch of heat from the rye. Citrus. Cinnamon and ginger. Red apples.
Taste: There’s a really interesting arrival with some prickly heat on the lips. That’s followed by salted caramel and raisins. Then comes more spice and some fresh virgin oak character. Maple syrup. Cinnamon. Ginger. Clove. Apple and vanilla. Red berries.
Thoughts: There’s an impressive amount of flavour for a whiskey of just 40% and the £35 asking price is also rather appealing. I’ve commented in the past that bourbons can all have a very similar character. Now, before you all shout that this isn’t a bourbon, it essentially is, only under a different name. Rather than coming across like any other sub-£50 bourbon, however, this dram has a bit of character about it. The rye helps to add a little spice, no doubt, but that extra charcoal filtering seems to have really added some intense flavour. Perhaps surprisingly complex for the price. A full bottle of this would be a good buy, I suspect.
You can buy Daddy Rack Small Batch from Master of Malt
John Walker & Sons Celebratory Blend
A Johnnie Walker bottled at 51%? How interesting. This blend was created in 2020 in honour of the brand’s 200th anniversary. It takes inspiration from Walker’s Old Highland Whisky, first sold way back in the 1860s. Master blender Jim Beveridge chose whiskies from distilleries that were in production when the original bottling was first released. He even checked the books of Walker’s grocers for inspiration. The aim was to create a whisky as close as possible to the style available all those years ago.
Smell: The nose is malty and gristy with various herbs and spices. There’s a particularly woody spice to the initial aroma. Cinnamon, ginger and brown sugar. Honey. Sawdust. Vanilla. A splash of water brought through some oak char and a gentle wisp of smoke.
Taste: Rather honeyed arrival followed by some gentle wood spice. Then there’s some tannic oak notes and a touch of pepper towards the back. Apple crumble with vanilla ice cream. Cinnamon. Water unveiled some currants and a touch of citrus. The apple note becomes fresher with time in the glass.
Thoughts: A well balanced blend with some good weight and a lingering finish. In terms of profile, there’s nothing particularly unusual or surprising but it delivers robust flavour, all the same.
You’ll pay around £55 for the privilege of owning a bottle. Given the quality on offer, I’d say that’s probably a fair asking price. I’d go so far as to say it’s an excellent dram, in fact. Especially once some water has been added and the whisky allowed to settle for ten minutes or so.
You can buy John Walker & Sons Celebratory Blend from Master of Malt
Kavalan Concertmaster Port Cask Finish
The King Car Distillery was the first of its kind in Taiwan and its first single malt launched back in 2008. High temperatures and humidity mean the distillery suffers from an Angel’s Share of around 15%, compared to just 2% evaporation in Scotland.
The whisky used in this expression was matured first in American oak before being finished in Roby, Tawny and vintage Port casks. Bottled at 40%, it retails at £50.
Smell: Lots of bourbon at first. Charred oak. Vanilla. Caramel. Cinnamon… Also some berry notes. Raspberry and cranberry, in particular. Slight varnish.
Taste: Comes across like a port finished bourbon. Loads of flavour on the arrival with the Port up front. Same red berry notes from the nose with fresh orange too. Cooked pineapple. Then comes vanilla. Rum and raisin. Then we develop into some woody spice on the finish.
Thoughts: If you’re a fan of spirit-led flavour profiles, Kavalan isn’t the brand for you. Their Angel’s Share is so severe you couldn’t get more interaction between whisky and cask with an industrial pump. As a result, I’m not really sure what the spirit character actually is. Everything I’ve tasted has been dominated by oak but that doesn’t make it a bad dram and to Kavalan’s credit, neither port or American oak are in command here. In fact, the two are working rather well together, which prevents the dram from becoming one dimensional. It’s very intensely flavoured and probably won’t be for everyone as a result. Even as a flavour chaser myself, I would really have to be in the mood for something big before reaching for this.
In terms of price, £50 is pretty reasonable but bear in mind it is a 50cl bottle, which changes the equation a little. Might still be worth a purchase if you like your drams big and intense, just be prepared for the dinky bottle showing up.
You can buy Kavalan Concertmaster Port Cask Finish from Master of Malt
Some additional thoughts on Pour & Sip..
If this is indeed a fair representation of the sort of drams you can expect to receive in your subscription, I’d say it’s worth it. I’ve enjoyed tasting every one of them and there’s one or two I’d consider buying a bottle of. I’ve looked at some whisky subscription services before and been concerned that I’d just receive samples of whiskies I’ve already tried but to their credit, Pour & Sip have provided some really interesting drams here. Good quality and lots of variety are exactly what I want from a whisky subscription service.
To subscribe to Pour & Sip VISIT HERE