Category Archives: Whisky Chat

Congratulations, Jim!

Bruichladdich’s Jim McEwan celebrates 50 years in the industry of making whisky today.  Unbelievable.  From very youthful and humble beginnings to being the figurehead of one of the world’s most exciting distilleries…quite a journey, Jim.

From the whisky loving faithful to you…Many thanks and a heartfelt congratulations.

Here’s hoping you keep doing what you love for some time to come.

All the best from ATW.


– Words:  Curt

– Image:

A Response To A Great Line Of Questioning…

Greetings, ATW readers.

Forgive my long time absence from mere discussion and opinion pieces.  I have no excuses, simply explanations.  I have a day job…beautiful kids…a stunning (and ever patient) wife…a liver to worry about…and…my focus has been elsewhere of late.  Namely…in blitzing the site with whisky reviews.

You may have seen a very honest and articulate question bandied my way by a ‘whisky mate’ here on the site.  The exact post, for those that care to read it, was here.  I wanted to take the answers I was preparing there and put them front and center because I feel they are relevant, insightful and allow me an opportunity to share a bit of history and a few bits of advice.

First off…

I’m an average guy.  Just turned 35.  Office job which is quite contrary to the rest of my personality.  Music…tattoos…books…zombie flicks…guitars…an obsession with the mountains…that’s more the real me.  I’m a rather intense sort who swings from obsession to obsession, all embraced headlong and with a singular enthusiasm.  Sometimes they fade after a year or two.  Othertimes not.  Whisky is a case of the latter.  It is an interest that has monopolized much of my spare time for a few years now in one way or another.


Contrary to what you might think…I don’t drink much.  A dram or two once or twice a week.  Maybe a couple on the weekend depending on plans and family time.  And then the occasional tasting flight I arrange.  One of the questions from ‘Skeptic’ specifically spoke to volume of consumption, mentioning a figure of medical recommendation to not exceed 100 ml a day.  F*ck.  That’s a lot of d(r)amage to the liver.  I am nowhere near that and not a daily drinker, by any means.  My nights of ‘blurring the lines’ are maybe once or twice a year.  Otherwise…I’m sort of a well-behaved lad.  Let’s face it…hangovers are not fun.  Especially with kids.

I also don’t need a full dram to do my tasting/nosing notes and review.  After enough practice, you don’t need a lot.  Honestly.  Sit in on a tasting flight with me (and yes…that is a sincere offer if you are in town) and you will see what I mean.  The way it ‘usually’ works (a guide, not a rule) is I will pair up a few whiskies that logically associate, and bounce back and forth between them.  Reviewing one whisky at a time is not ideal.  If the opportunity presents, I will generally revisit the whiskies again at some point before publishing anything.  These revisits nearly always align with what my first impressions were.  It’s all about ensuring that each time you sit to nose whiskies, the conditions are favorable (i.e. you haven’t just eaten anything funky…your home hasn’t been spritzed with cleaning products or the smells of cooking…you don’t have a cold…etc).  If any of the aforementioned may be a factor…I abort and wait to be in the right ‘place’.  Otherwise, no matter how much you nose/taste, you’re still not gonna get what you need out of it.

I mention this, as it ties back to a recent bombardment of reviews here on the website.  Just so we’re all on the same page…at any given time I have between 50 and 100 reviews in ‘draft’ format.  They may have a complete write-up, but no tasting notes…or contrarily…complete tasting notes, but the muse has not yet whispered in my ear what exactly to say about the whisky.

This flurry of activity is not related to a period of heavy drinking.  Nor is it indicative of a change in anything to do with my personal constraints.  It is merely a refocusing of energies for a period here in an attempt to build up a solid database of reviews here on ATW.  Why?  Simply because this is a vanity project.  I want you to come here and read.  I want to share thoughts and opinions, and I want to interact.  I met one of my best mates through running of the website (a previous site , that is).



How do I try as many whiskies as I do?

There are a few things I need to speak to in order to share a full understanding on this subject.

1)  I do not get whiskies thrown my way from the industry, like some I know who specifically solicit this.  I’m not averse to it, per se, but I also don’t believe in the concept of pushing for free sh*t.  I find it uncouth and classless.  I wasn’t built that way, and I don’t need to do it.  If something comes my way…so be it.  I know I will be honest and forthright with you, and it would allow me to try more, for own benefit, as well as share notes which will hopefully aid others in buying.  HOWEVER…you can see by the spartan facade of the site, there are no ads…no sponsors, etc.  I am taking in no revenue to do ‘the whisky thing’.  All whiskies reviewed on ATW are:  purchased by me…purchased by friends who share…samples provided from local retailers who simply want you to know they’re selling it…tasted in formal tastings…swapped samples with others.

I live in Canada.  Our customs laws are so unbelievably rigid and archaic that we can not even ship alcohol from province to province, let alone between countries.  (Yes, Canadian government…I’m taking aim at you *ssholes.  Get with the f*cking times!)  While I see samples (free or otherwise) being shipped all over to key reviewers and such…sadly…I am not a part of that.

2)  I started the website when I felt I knew enough (though still adorably naive 😉 ) to be comfortable publicly speaking about the subject.  In hindsight, it was a little too early.  I have learned ridiculous amounts over the past few years.  I have been humble enough to admit where I was off course, and have righted the ship from time to time.  An easy example?  Like all newbies…I scored far too high initially.  I have had to do a couple of massive ‘true-ups over the years’.

Anyway…where I am going with this is…I made some connections through the site.  Those individuals have shared generously of their time, knowledge and yes…whisky.  I have friends in much better positions of life than I am, and who have a genuine interest in just wanting to hang out with fellow whisky nerds.  One of the gents I am closest to now is someone I only came in contact through because of my site.

3)  I run whisky clubs.  One is a private little invitation-only affair for a few of my literate mates.  We gather and discuss a book and some great whiskies each month.  The other is a new undertaking.  An impressive affair coming together known as The Dram Initiative.  This is a big formal public club.  I am the guy that brings these things to life.  From there…a select handful of my best mates and all ’round good guys work tirelessly with me to keep it moving forward.

4)  I take the initiative to be involved in events.  Commercial tastings, festivals, launches, etc.  I travel to Scotland every couple of years to tour distilleries and whisky bars.  I also host my own events, when there is nothing out there suiting my vision.


At the end of the day…the most important bit of advice I can offer?  Share your whisky.  Use the ‘pay it forward’ model.  Remember those who shared with you, and try to do the same for others where you can.  I like to share good whisky with good people and it seems to come back around.  Good people have in turn poured lovely drams for me.  That’s what this is about, isn’t it?

Finally…for those that say they’ll never try a Port Ellen or a Rosebank or something…all I have to say is…y’never know.  😉



Cost?  Well…let’s be honest.  This is an expensive hobby.  I make a pretty decent salary, but not quite decent enough to afford all of the whiskies I taste and review.

You have to cherry pick your purchases.  Why try every batch of a’bunadh, as mentioned in the question, when there are tons of other great whiskies to experiment with?  Yes, a’bunadh is great and I do try to keep one around, but I will generally try one out of every 5-10 batches or so.  There are a lot of great whiskies out there.

And yes…you will miss out on limited batches.  I do all the time.  Sleep easy knowing that there will always be another ‘limited release’ coming down the pipelines.  Hopefully you and your mates can sort of coordinate efforts on this front.  You buy the new ‘Glenwhatzis’…he buys the new ‘Glenwhynot’…she buys the new ‘Glenpricey’.  Then…get together, crack ’em open and share.  That way you don’t need to personally buy them all, but still get the opportunity to try ’em.  Trade bottles when you get halfway or three quarters through.  Buy some sample bottles and start swapping samples.  Plan your club events (if you have a little group who gathers) around drams you want to try.

Open ’em up.  F*ck the idea of collecting.  Storing some for future years?  Sure.  Collecting, and not sipping?  Bah!  Open ’em…share with friends…collect the memories.  That’s the important stuff.

I admit…I have a couple hundred bottles in my basement.  This ‘hoarding’, if you will, is self-perpetuating.  After you build up some stocks, you’ll find you can buy less, but buy better.  The key is always to buy a little more than you drink.  Keep yourself in the black, in other words.


Finally…some thoughts on ‘integrity’…

All scored reviews are my own.  There are other bits on the site which have been credited to Maltmonster or Whisky Pilgrim or what-have-you.  But for the most part…this is my own rambling, for better or worse.  I say that so you understand there is integrity, honesty and consistency to the reviews.  You may not agree with me, but hopefully, if you stick around long enough, you’ll see where I’m coming from.

I also try to use almost exclusively all my own photography.  I think this adds an element of sincerity and validation that these whiskies really are being tasted…and really are being properly assessed.  I’m not the best photographer, but I get enough in the frame to show that these pics are not stock images.

I try to stay humble (some days harder than others), as it lets others see you’re not in it for gain.


Last words…

I’ve finally started using twitter.  Come find me at @Allthingswhisky.  Each time something new goes up here, I’ll let you know there.


Sincerest thanks to ‘Skeptic’ for his questions.  They’ve allowed me to orate without it necessarily being from a soapbox.

Until next, friends…please keep comments coming.  Your feedback is important.  I thank you.


– Curt

All Things Whisky Downtime

Greetings, friends.

Apologies for yesterday’s (and maybe, depending on where you live, this morning’s) downtime.  Some sort of server issues.  I think we’re back up and running just fine now.

Coming days will have many, many more reviews.

Just a little teaser of some of those to come: 

  • The new Macallan 1824 Series
  • Some older Glenglassaugh
  • A few from the Dalmore range (including the 40 y.o.)
  • A few from Glengoyne
  • Some lovely, lovely whiskies from Asia
  • A couple more Port Ellen and Brora releases
  • …and don’t worry…there’s plenty more than just those ones in the wings.

Until next dram…



Kensington Wine Market Goes Green For St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

Celebrate your inner Irish.  On a day when even our most Scottish of locals, like KWM‘s Andrew Ferguson, have taken to the green…why the hell not?

KWM Green 1

All indications point to our friends in Ireland as the true originators of the distillate we all so love, so in honor of All Things Irish…raise a glass of Bushmills…Jamesons…Redbreast…Connemara…whatever.  Throw on a little Pogues…Dubliners…Primordial…Flogging Molly…again…whatever.  Either way…we’re all Irish today.

KWM Green 2

Now…if you’re short of anything to sip from the Emerald Isle, take a swing by the aforementioned Kensington Wine Market and have a chat with IiT (Irish in Training), Andrew Ferguson, or one of his team.  They’ll steer ye right.

…and yes…that happy little leprechaun is none other than Mr. Ferguson.

KWM Green 3

Love the decor, Andrew.  Switching allegiances?

Before anyone asks…no, I am not switching allegiances.  I stand behind the old maxim: ‘the Irish may have invented it, but the Scottish perfected it’.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, friends!


– Photos:  Maltmonster

Starting Your Scotch Whisky Cabinet

Alright.  Time to have another go at a post on the site that gets a fair amount of attention.

What you’re reading right now is a re-write of an old ATW feature.  What it really boils down to is this, friends…the times they are a changin’.  Whisky is becoming more and more expensive.  It is also seemingly less readily available in some markets.  And depending on your line of thinking, it is also becoming harder and harder to ensure the product you’re buying now is as good as the same product bought a decade ago (if you believe those out there banging the drum in support of the ‘quality slippage’ argument, that is).

When I originally put together the first ‘go’ at a post on this topic (a couple years back) I did so with the intent of aiming at the TRUE beginner working within a VERY humble and spartan budget.  The reality is, however, Scotch is not a poor man’s game, and this may have been the wrong tack to embrace.  There are, to be sure, a few gems out there that can be scooped for phenomenal deals, but in the end you’re always going to end up paying for quality.  I hate to break it to ya, but all those arguments you’ve heard about ‘older doesn’t mean better’ or ‘price doesn’t equal quality’…they were, for the most part, a load of shit.  Ninety five times out of a hundred the older, more expensive drams will be better.  To be fair, if you inserted the word ‘always’ in there a couple of times (i.e. ‘older doesn’t always mean better’) I would agree with the statements.

What I’m really getting at here is that I think most folks are looking for an idea as to how to build a good Scotch cabinet, not just a cheap decent one.  The sad fact of the matter is…this costs money.

Seeing as how you’re lurking around on whisky blogs with the rest of us spirit-snobs, I am going to assume a certain level of knowledge and experience with whisky (yes, yes…shame on me…and yes, I do know what they say about assuming).  With that in mind I wanted to tackle putting together a few malts that would constitute a really nice (but still relatively beginner) cabinet.  The idea here is that you would have somewhat of a balance of profiles, some great malts to sip yourself…and in the event you had a knowing guest over one eve you’d never be short on something tasteful to pour.

Before we get to it, let’s step back a moment for a little bit of clarification.  This little exercise originally began long, long back with a few members of the Collective trying to come up with ten entry-level price point bottles for the aspiring anorak to begin their own scotch whisky cabinet.  The flaw in this challenge was a basic one I have come up against many times.  Often…for just a few dollars more…you can upgrade from that ‘entry-level’ ticket to something astounding.  Trust me…it’s all about quality, not quantity.  Depending on where you live, one or two of the drams listed below may set you back a tidy sum (though with careful shopping…no more than $150 or so).

A couple of final notes:

  1. These are all readily available bottles.  Snootery may say that old Brora, Port Ellen or Rosebank would be the bee’s knees on your shelf.  Scarcity and cost may say otherwise.
  2. This is neither a true beginner’s cabinet, nor a dream cabinet.  Just something somewhere in the middle to give good balance, good value and good selection.
  3. This list sorta doubles as a good giftbuyer’s list as well.  Honestly.  I can’t imagine any Scotch lover wouldn’t be pleased to receive one of these.
  4. The following list are my suggests.  Only mine.  Having tried all of these I can positively swear that a) they are great drinks and b) the couple/few dollars more is well worth the investment.


With no further ado…a dozen or so bottles to help flesh out your whisky cabinet…


Johnnie Walker Black Label.  Hey…sometimes you just need a blended whisky.  This is one of the best out there and available nearly everywhere.  A very smooth and drinkable blend with a deep and mysterious character.  The smoke that moves in and out on this one is tasteful and obscure.  Good enough for the snobs, but also enjoyable enough to pour for the noobs so as not to dent your good malts by sharing with someone who doesn’t really care or appreciate ‘em.

Macallan 18 year old.  This one carries a hefty price tag, but is a very, very balanced and refined dram.  One of the few in the Macallan range that boasts the quality to justify the often crazy (cough cough ‘exhorbitant’) price point.  Take price out of the equation though?  Damn good drink.

Lagavulin 16 year old.  Is it possible to have a palate for peat and not appreciate this beautiful and beguiling classic malt from Islay?  Gad, whatta nose!  Every now and again you’ll hear chatter about quality slippage on this one.  Not sure what malt those folks are sipping, but it certainly isn’t any of the Lag16 bottles I’ve purchased.  One of the best in the Diageo stable.

Springbank 18 year old.  Just a few miles off the shores of Islay is another island of whisky fame.  Campbeltown.  Once home to more than 30 distilleries, Campbeltown now houses only three.  The pinnacle of these three is undoubtedly Springbank.  This distillery produces three different styles of whisky under three different names.  Springbank is the moderately peated brand.  A real beaut.  If you’re brave…grab yourself a bottle of the Longrow 18 as well.

GlenDronach 15 year old.  From the Speyside region of Scotland.  Here you have a brilliant example of affordable AND exceptional sherry-matured whisky.  This 15 year old is, to me, the apex of the standard line.  Sure to please, with sweet juicy fruit notes and dry figgy sherry as well.  If you get the opportunity, do try some of the older single casks this distillery produces.

Aberlour a’bunadh (any batch will do).  A malt released in small batches from another Speyside distillery of reknown.  This whisky is a true bruiser.  Bottled at a hefty cask strength of ~60%, this is one to take your time with and savor.  A winter warmer if ever there was.  Deep…dark…sweet…stunning.  Caution…there is batch variance, but I’m sure even the worst are much, much better than the competition.

Ardbeg Corryvreckan.  Any Ardbeg release really (Ten, Corry, Uigeadail).  This one though has such a complex and cascading profile that continues to explode in firework after firework on both the nose and palate.  Strong and unique, this is definitely not one for the faint of heart.  Brilliant meld of peat, smoke and sweet.  A personal favorite.

Talisker 10 year old.  A young and feisty pepper monster.  The 18 year old is miles better, but few and far between on the shelves, so let’s say the 10.  This is a very individual drink with a character all its own, and a lovely personality in its own right.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…no cabinet should be without a Talisker.  Affordable as hell too!

Highland Park 18 year old.  Good bottle to have on the shelf, and while I do enjoy it, it’s not a personal favorite.  So, why is it here then?  Simple.  It is quite good, but more importantly…it is generally known as the ‘greatest all ’rounder in the world’ (thanks, MJ…everyone and their dog likes to quote that one).  Not sure I buy in, but y’know what?  Contrary to popular belief I’m not always right.  ;)

10  Glenfarclas ???.  Any Glenfarclas.  Generally, the older the better (but not always!).  Most often recommended is the 15 year old, but I have had a very mediocre 15 recently that makes me a little gun shy on the referral.  Anyway…to the point…this is a topnotch distillery.  Check out something from ‘em if you can.  17?  21?  40?

…now…if you want to have some fun from there…play about with some of the Glenmorangie line, Tullibardine range, Auchentoshan (maybe the Valinch?), older BenRiach, Bruichladdich or Laphroaig.


You’ll find reviews of most of these here on ATW.  In the event you’d like to know a bit more before spending your hard-earned food stamps, feel free to drop me a line either via email (under the ‘Contact Us’ page) or in the comments section below.  If any of you out there do take any of these as recommendations, drop a comment below and let me know what you think.


Sweet Drams!


– Words:  Curt

– Photos:  Curt

Hey…Where The Hell Are All The Whisky Reviews?!?

Hey…Where The Hell Are All The Whisky Reviews?!?

Hello, friends!  How y’all?

So…previous note doesn’t seem to have been clear enough.  You want the reviews?  Hundreds of tasting notes?

You gotta look to the left of the screen.  Then click on the name of the distillery.  This will bring up all reviews/tasting notes for each.

But fear not…there are many, many, many more in the wings.

Look forward to sharing.

And to all that have dropped a line or posted comments…thank you.  Your insight and input are appreciated.  Slainte!


Errr…Left.  Thataway…



Catching Up…Notes On The Notes

Greetings, friends.

You may have noticed that ATW has been getting updates in fits and starts.  This was bound to cause problems.  Perhaps I should have done what I did on sister site, Liquorature, and simply pulled out all the old content while I did my updates.  Who knows.  Of course Liquorature is a different beast.  It is a site focused on books, spirits and intellect.  All Things Whisky is a site focused on…yep…nectar of the gods.

So…what is the issue?  Well…simple.  I set up ATW wrong when I launched it.  Now I’m fixing it.  While I migrate content from the right hand side of the page (the reviews many of you frequent..and thankee!) to the left (cleaner and more logical), I have left the old reviews visible.  No big deal in and of itself.


Many of those reviews (and especially tasting notes) are waaaaaaay out of date.  Any good taster should have no issue admitting he needs to recalibrate from time to time.  Some of those reviews were from very early on in my tasting ‘career/endeavor’….in some cases even migrated over from the old site.  Inherently a problem all new tasters/bloggers encounter is over-generosity in scoring.  I am in the process of righting the ship now.  The reviews on the left hand side of the screen have marks and notes that I will stand behind.  Those on the right…err…let’s just say those will only be there as long as it takes me to peel them out and update.

At this point I have sipped hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of malts (working towards the first 1000).  The lowest of the low to the highest of high.  Hopefully the reviews herein will speak to that.  Where you take exception…please do drop a line.

…and yes…there are hundreds more reviews coming.

In the meantime…patience, friends…all will be tidy round here soon.



Changing The Face Of All Things Whisky


Greetings, friends! 

Just a quick note.

ATW will be going through a bit of a facelift in the coming weeks.  We (hopefully) learn from our mistakes, and boy, did I make a few in the setup of this site.  Time to right the ship a bit.

Chances are good there will be a bit of trial and error along the way, so patience is appreciated.  Any comments are not only welcome, but sincerely hoped for.  This site serves two purposes.  1)  To allow me an outlet for some of my whisky nerdery, and 2)  To share what knowledge I (and some great friends) have.  In effect…this site ain’t just for me.  If there’s something you’d like to see on ATW…drop a line.

Thanks, all.

Happy New Year From ALL THINGS WHISKY!

Happy New Year, all!



The end of 2011…

Just a quick note.  Sincere thanks to pass around.

First to the readers whose visits to the site continue to climb.  I appreciate your comments, thoughts and emails.  If I am slow to respond occasionally…please do be patient.  I’ll get there.

Cheers to all of my mates who join me in frequent drams and discussions.  These are the things memories are made of.  Thanks for pouring me drinks and drinking what I pour.  You guys (and occasional gals) make it interesting.

Huge thanks to the Maltmonster who never ceases to amaze with his brilliant pieces and tastings for ATW.  On top of the wicked wit and far reaching imagination, you’re one of the good ones.  Our chats (in person, phone or email) add a lot of lightness to my life.  Slainte!

To Andrew, Dave and all others who work hard coercing my dollars from my pockets…you’re doing a helluva job.  You guys are the reason Alberta is the best place in Canada to have the vices we do.  Thanks for all of your help and generous time.  It is not unappreciated.

To all in the industry (be they reps, bloggers, writers, distillery folk, etc)…keep it up.  The fact that we do what we do speaks volumes about what you do.  If you’re doing it right…well…we’ll be trumpeting it here.  If you’re not…smarten up!  😉

Finally…thanks to my ever-patient wife.  Beautiful, smart and infinitely patient in a non-condescending way.  Love you.

Cheers, all!


Looking into 2012…

You can expect a little more vitriol and a little less…er…moderation.  C’mon…who doesn’t like to mix it up every now and again?

Look forward to some more details on the SMWS in Canada.

Islay 2012.  A few members of the collective (myself included) are heading back to peat mecca in September.  Many commented on (and wrote to me about) the last trip/blog.  This time there will be many more (and much better) photos, full-on distillery features, more tasting notes, and an even more fully-realized blog.  Islay is a place of pilgrimage for many malt lovers.  Hope all of the jottings for this trip help out a few of you planning your own excursion to Islay.

A return of the interviews ATW frequently featured.  As I said…you can expect a little more fire here on the site.  First target…Jim Murray.  Repeated attempts to corner the author of the Whisky Bible for an interview have failed.  Initial responses from his team led me to believe this would happen.  All subsequent email direct to Mr. Murray has gone unanswered throughout the year.  Come on, Jim…I don’t always agree with your ratings, but you’re a helluva writer and a lot of people out there would like to hear from you.  What say?

Many more reviews (up to 100 now!)…tastings (vertical, horizontal, whatever)…updates, etc.

A few more opinion pieces.  What is the point of blogging if not to share opinion, right?

A few more tutorials (and not all will be mine) for those out there who may be new to the intricacies of whisky.  A lot of questions sent this way are from advice-seekers.  When you see these posted on the site, gang, jump in and share your thoughts.

Much, much more.


Enough rambling.  I wish you all the best for 2012 and many more years to come.  To your health, wealth and happiness.


Glasses high!


Duffies of Bowmore – The Ultimate Islay Whisky Bar

No visit to Bowmore, or Islay for that matter, would be complete without a stop at Duffies Whisky Bar. Duffies is a part of the Lochside hotel on Shore Street just off the pier in Bowmore. The whisky bar is front and center when you enter, but the dining room toward the back offers a lovely view over Loch Indaal while you enjoy a rich and wonderful menu.

The unimposing facade doesn't even hint at the treasures within.

 After finding the bar, I couldn’t help but put in an appearance three or four times on my recent trip to Islay. Much of the island’s tourism is focused on whisky, and what better way to sample a dram or three while on the island (aside from those offered on distillery tours) than making your way down Shore Street to Duffies? The bar stocks over 260 Islay malts alone, with selections from other distilleries available as well.

The staff is friendly and frequently hilarious. One eve, while sipping an Ardbeg Renaissance near the bar, I overheard a gentleman ask the bartender what a certain coin in his hand was worth. Without hesitation the reply was, “that’s a two pound coin…we use those for tipping barmen”. Resounding laughs well deserved. I only hope that chap did indeed leave behind that coin. I shared a couple of great converstaions with the staff at Duffies. I only hope they can forgive me for not remembering them all by name. I’ll be back, folks. I’ll remember next time.

I sat down with Duffie himself one afternoon to chat about his beautiful bar, exceptional selection and life on Islay. Duffie MacNeill is man for whom a smile comes naturally. His thick Scottish accent had me paying careful attention as we settled into a pair of armchairs for a chat, lest I miss any of the nuggets of humor he dropped. He and his wife Roberta have owned Duffies for 8 years now. Conveniently (and often inconveniently, I’m sure) they live just two doors down. I saw a fair bit of Duffie in the bar while in Bowmore, but he swears most eves he is not there if he can help it. I also briefly met his lovely wife, though she declined to join him in the photo op.

Duffie himself mugging for the camera.

In its present incarnation, Duffies is stunning. The bar boasts gorgeous woodwork on the shelving, as you can see below, where the malts of Islay are proudly and prominently displayed. All local timber, of course. And weighing down these shelves? Well…a brilliant collection of Port Ellen, broad ranges of Laphroaig and Bruichladdich, a nice selection of young Kilchoman releases, Black Bowmore for the high rollers and a locked glass case showcasing an Ardbeg 1965. These are but a few of the offerings, many of which have slowly been migrated over from Duffie’s personal collection. The prices are more than fair. Your wallet may take a denting, but that will simply be from sampling many of the bottles, not because of Duffies’ pricing. A framed award on the wall from Whisky Magazine is almost redundant in confirming Duffies as one of the world’s premier whisky bars. One need only step inside to see for themselves.

The place was fairly hopping each time I dropped in for a dram or a pint of Finlaggen ale, and there was always someone to chat with. I met an engaging chap from Hong Kong, a great couple from England and a few American folks. Duffie says the tourist trade is varied, with a large contingent of Japanese and Swedish visitors. Lots of Fins and Canadians as well. Surprisingly, not so many from the US. He says there is no longer a short tourist season anymore, instead a steady stream visit year round. I visited Islay in late September and can attest I met travelers from all over the globe.

Just a part of Duffies' impressive collection.

It is now mid-October. I have been home for nearly two weeks now. I can honestly say that Duffies is one of the places on Islay I am already missing. Looking forward to my next visit.