Woodrow’s Whisky – Woah!

OK, you might be thinking that this location doesn’t line up with your idea of a perfect whisky tasting…

Woodrow's Tasting - 2024-02-17

…but that’s where you’d be wrong! What it misses out on in romance, it gains in authenticity – plus it’s a unit full of whisky, which helps.

Two of our party had previously gone to a Woodrow’s tasting at the excellent Cork & Cask in Edinburgh (NB a few of the bottles we tried at this tasting are now available at the shop), and struck up a conversation with the owner. Maybe a couple of drams had been had, but he very kindly agreed to arrange a private tasting for our Southside Whisky Club | website no longer updated, major tastings are posted here now.

A few months later and we’d arranged a trip to Jane Street in Leith to a sample a few of their bottlings. Little did we know, it would be one of the most fun tastings we’ve had the pleasure of being at. It’s a small industrial unit, but chock full of racked casks. If I’m remembering rightly, this is more of a ‘finishing zone’, where casks are kept shortly before bottling or evaluated upon purchase. Other casks owned by the company live in warehouses around the country. By the way, everything I’m saying here is true to the best of my recollection and I checked it was OK to post publicly – just accept there may be a few (tipsy) errors.

As we arrived, we were shown around a table with a set of 6 glasses and a bottle of water each, oatcakes in the middle and 5 Woodrow’s bottles to be sampled. Here is the line-up as was presented:

Woodrow's Tasting - 2024-02-17

But as you’ll see from the notes below, it ended up being even more than that, after some cask-sampling was thrown into the mix. We really were in the heart of the operation, sharing their working space (and toilet!) and sampling whisky amongst the casks and bottling machines. Woody and Megan were slightly apologetic about what they saw as a haphazard tasting arrangement, but of course, as a group of whisky enthusiasts, this is exactly the environment we love. After we explored the space, we settled down to taste the first three bottles in the above photo…

1) Blended Malt | 50%
Glen Ord, tea-spooned Highland Park, tea-spooned Glen Scotia, Glen Elgin
Notes: Sweet, lemons, cheesecake

2) Girvan 30yo | 53.7%
Refill Hogshead (whole life)
Notes: Toffee popcorn, super sweet but a very odd, sour cumin finish at times – battery acid? A tropical, resin-y finish

3) Mannochmore 15yo | 54.1%
Oloroso Bodega (3 year finish)
Notes: Spicy, stewed fruits, sultanas. Cheese-y with water! Not my fave.

Then came the first surprise – a chance to sample an ex-SMWS Strathmill 1991, straight from the cask!

Woodrow's Tasting - 2024-02-17

4) Strathmill 1991 | 49.8% (direct from the cask)
Refill Hogshead – from SMWS (arrived 2 weeks ago)
Notes: Mega apples! Extremely fruity but in an ancient, cloying, fermented way. Heather and herbs. Spicy finish

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Then things got a little peaty – a gentle Bunnahabhain followed by an absolute belter of a Caol Ila. There was little doubt in my mind that I was buying a bottle of the latter, and duly did on the bus home!

5) Bunnahabhain 16yo | 54.2%
Refill Oloroso (1 year 8 month finish)
Notes: Almost no smell? The taste is so rubbery! More watery than you’d expect. Cloying and very pleasing. Sweet toffee. Fades a bit though?

6) Caol Ila 10yo | 57.6%
Palo Cortado (1 year finish)
Notes: Smells amazing, insane nose – probably the best thing I’ve had in the last year. So good I didn’t take notes!

Then, as a final hurrah, we were offered one of 2 other new casks to sample. Or, as they were happy to suggest, both…

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7a) Aberlour (year?) | 55.8% (direct from the cask)
Refill Barrel (whole life?)
Notes: Minty – sweet lemon toothpaste. Floral and fizzy sweets, candied orange

7b) Ben Nevis 2013 | 52.9% (direct from the cask)
Palo Cortado (whole life?)
Notes: Rose petals! Really like this. Sweet, strawberry foam candy, aniseed.

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All in all, a fantastic day out and a tasting of excellent whiskies in the perfect setting. A big thank you to Woody and Megan for being such great hosts and giving us their time and know-how.


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