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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Ardbeg, Islay, Scotland

This was the distllery I was most looking forward to visiting when we went to Islay in 2010.  Why?  Well Arbeg was the reason I even started drinking Islay's peated whiskies, though I had tried the unpeated Bunnahabhain before, and it was because of an expression called Blasda.   I tasted a sample of Blasda in Oddbins in Cults and thought it was delicious, very sweet and flavorful and with a lighter, more subtle peat taste.  So I bought a bottle and found it was the perfect entry into the world of Islay whisky.  The fact they made a whisky that was so approachable encouraged me to explore Ardbeg more and to look for the subtle, sweet flavors I loved in Blasda in their other expressions and to succesfully "look past the peat".  Before I knew it, I loved peated whisky.  The distillery is really well done with a great cafe, an expansive gift shop and a detailed tour with a knowledgable and passionate tour guide (all for about $3).  However the best part was the tasting as they pulled out the really good stuff.  They offered the standard 10 year old, Blasda (Tammy chose that), Uigeadail and even the amazing 60% abv Supernova.  I ended up buying the Supernova because it was so good.  Other distilleries take note, pouring your premium offerings can help sales, after all I am much more likely to spend $100 on a bottle of whisky if I have actually tried it.... just a suggestion.

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Wild Turkey, Kentucky, USA

Confession time, I did not take the distillery tour.  This was my sixth and final stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and I did go to the Visitor Center and get my KBT passport stamped and completed, but I arrived around 1pm and the next tour was not until 2:30pm.  However the nice people at the distillery suggested I watch a video they use at start of tour and join the tasting when the 12:30 tour got back.  As there was no tour for another 90 minutes and no cafe or similar where I could eat lunch, I accepted their offer.  The video was the "usual fare" with father and son Jimmy and Eddie Russell taking the viewer on a virtual tour of the distillery stage by stage, however before the video finished the tour group came back and the tasting began.  Wild Turkey had the best choice of any distillery I visited on the KBT, and we were invited to choose  two samples from the full range of bourbon and rye whiskies, standard and premium brands.  I chose one of my favorites, Wild Turkey Rare Breed and the Russell Reserve Rye.   They also sold a nice range of mini bottles (I bought the Wild Turkey 101, Rare Breed and their American Honey liqueur) in their gift shop.

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