Johnnie Walker Celebratory Blend – Sleepwalking

Tiredness really is a surreal condition, I thought, as I pulled the cork and poured a generous dose into a low glass. Two-twelve in the morning. The last couple and a half hours have slipped by me totally unnoticed. And now, frozen at the exact moment that the first drop fell from the mouth of the bottle, I reflected on how I had arrived at that moment.

I have a few flashes of recent memory. After going to bed at two and waking up at five the day before, I decided that a morning jog would be a good idea. I came back, showered, made a bathtub worth of coffee, and slipped through three consecutive meetings, which ended up in something that could be considered dinner – a chicken curiously raw on one side and charred on the other.

Then my body – which had clearly already been abandoned by my mind – decided it would be a good idea to start a post for this blog. Nine-thirty at night, give or take. I went catatonic, staring at the blank screen for an hour and a half, before I finally gave up, turned off the computer and went to bed. And then, the most curious thing happened.

(It’s not J.C., it’s Hugh Jackman)

I passed in front of my whisky cabinet and, sideways, noticed a curious bottle. John Walker & Sons Celebratory Blend. An item just added to my timid liquid library and released in December 2020 in our country. Still fully sealed, waiting for the perfect moment to try this blog. The perfect moment like, for example, just that.

Fade out, fade in. Sitting at the breakfast room table, tumbler in hand, my neurons took a last breath. So. Tired. Ok, just a wee dram – fifteen minutes and then bed – I silently promised as the whiskey went down. I felt the first aromas. Sweet, cinnamon, brown sugar, vanilla. Very aromatic, and somewhat reminiscent of the late Gold Label 18. I remember reading that Jim Beveridge, the master blender behind the creation, once stated that “the Celebratory Blend is inspired by flavours found in the stocktaking books from Walker’s store, which were housed in Diageo’s archive. We wanted to use only whiskies that would have been available to the family in the 1860s and to create a sense of the aromas and flavours of the shop.

Before taking the first sip, I gazed at the bottle with interest. The Johnnie Walker Celebratory Blend package is inspired by the Old Highland Whiskey, originally released in the 1960s of the nineteenth century. It was the first Johnnie Walker whisky to be created for export, and the first to feature the iconic square bottle with a diagonal label. The case also pays homage to that whisky, and contains the only known photo of the Walkers emporium in Kilmarnock.

The place

I took my first sip. Sweet at the beginning, but winey and fruity at the end. Dried fruits, raisins, plums. The finish reminds of discreet smoke, dry pepper and ginger. Very good, just what I needed, I mumbled to myself as I felt a strange heaviness over my eyebrows. It was like my forehead was going to collapse over my eyes. I took a deep breath, took another sip and noticed an incredible detail. 51% alcoholic strength! That’s bold.

I remembered that the Johnnie Walker Celebratory Blend is part of a trio of Diageo releases to commemorate 200 years of Johnnie Walker. In addition to this, two luxury blended scotch whiskeys were also produced, the John Walker & Sons Bicentenary Blend and the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Legendary Eight. Both, with the participation of silent stills belonging to the constellation of Diageo distilleries. One more sip, that’s it.

As soon as I finished the dram, I went back to the room and turned on the computer again. And I turned off myself. I must have spent a good half hour – or more – like this. Napping, in peace, in front of the machine. Opening my eyes, I looked at the text I had just produced. Or not. I looked at the bottle again in front of me. Not this time, my dear Johnnie Walker Celebratory Blend. Time to go to bed. Goodnight.


Type: Blended Whiskey with no defined age (NAS)

Brand: Johnnie Walker

Region: N/A

ABV: 51%


Aroma: Sweet, cinnamon, brown sugar, vanilla

Flavor: Sweet at the beginning, but winey and fruity at the end. Dried fruits, raisins, plums. A discreet smoke that ends and a dry pepper of ginger.

Chivas Extra 13 – Allotriophagy

I’m going to tell you a bit of a disconcerting thing, which I’m not sure how it happened. My dog ​​ate my earphones. It took me a while to figure it out. I missed it on Sunday, but I thought I had left it in some improbable place, and that I would soon find it. But over the next few days, I began to find clues to his real whereabouts – my pet’s digestive system. First, one of those little balls that gets in your ear. Then a piece of black cable. And the definitive and incriminating evidence – a P2 plug, all destroyed on the porch of the house.

I don’t know what made Sazerac eat earphones. It didn’t surprise me at all – he had already eaten weird things, like a slipper and a piece of the wall. But, the earphones struck me as especially weird. Because of its length and texture, it takes a lot of effort to eat earphones. I decided to search the internet. And I discovered something even more surprising: there are a lot of people with a similar compulsion.

I learned that the syndrome has the curious name of pica. But, to avoid any jokes with the make reproductive organ in Portuguese, I will call you by the more technical names. Allotriophagy or allotriogeusia. Defined, perhaps in wonderful simplicity, as “the habit of eating substances with no nutritional value”. There are even well-known cases, such as a woman who gorged herself on dirty baby diapers, a lady who ate an entire room and a madman who consumed five thousand filament lamps throughout his gastrically painful existence. There’s even a movie about it – Swallow, starring Haley Bennett.

Chico – allotriophagy master

I wondered, afterwards, if we whisky enthusiasts aren’t a bit like that. There is a strange compulsion to try something we’ve never tasted. It’s unnatural, even, because as animals, we’re supposed to preserve our health and there are few things riskier than ingesting something we don’t know about. And there’s also the business of playing it safe. If something is already tasty and known, this force that makes us leave the comfort zone just to have a slightly (or quite) different experience is somewhat inexplicable.

But it was precisely in this tune that I tried Chivas Extra 13 years, recently launched by the brand in Brazil. Once a NAS blended whisky, the label has been re-launched on world markets now with an age statment and new composition. Something that gave me the proverbial chills. I’ve always had a special affection for Chivas Extra – partly for an emotional reason, and partly because I really like whisky. For me, any change was unjustifiable. However, when I tried the new version, I felt safe again.

Even more so because the tasting was done in a virtual tasting, conducted by none other than Sandy Hyslop, master blender of the Chivas Regal group, and by ambassadors Rhys Wilson and Ken Lindsay. During the event, Hyslop explained that the 13 year old Chivas Extra takes a generous portion of single malts aged in European oak barrels that previously contained Oloroso sherry wine – especially Longmorn. This gives a peppery note, of ginger, and a certain dry fruitiness, which sometimes resembles figs, sometimes raisins.

When asked about the origin of the sherry wine, Hyslop stated, “We don’t buy any empty sherry casks and sent it to Scotland. We go way beyond that. We buy Spanish oak, which is seasoned for eighteen months in Spain. The casks are then assembled and we specify the exact oloroso that will go into the casks for another year. And then they are emptied and shipped to Scotland. Everything has to be fast – they have to arrive in Scotland in 7 days and be filled with whisky in 10 days. And all of this happens in winter. We don’t do it in the summer to prevent the sherry from spoiling” and continues “we are investing at the very beginning of the process to guarantee the quality of our sherry casks“.

Hyslop explained that Chivas Extra 13 follows a very unusual production process. “The influence of sherry comes from thirteen years of maturation in Spanish oak sherry casks. We created a special thirteen year old blend, then took some first-fill casks of European Oak Longomorn Single Malt and incorporated it into the blend. The idea is to elevate the flavor of this thirteen years“. According to the master blender, creating balance is a fine adjustment – ​​the Extra must maintain the credentials of the Chivas house.

I succumbed to the temptation to ask about the old Chivas Extra and its label changes. First “oloroso”, then sherry, and finally “oloroso” again. “All expressions use oloroso sherry. The description in the new expression comes from the consumers’ desire to know more about the product. The change in label was just our marketing playing with things. The formula remains exactly the same, I can assure you of the guy who makes the whisky

Former NAS expression

Sensorially, the new Chivas Rega Extra 13 years has important similarities with its predecessor. But it’s also remarkably different. The old whisky was more aggressive and intense. The new one, with age, looks sweeter and more polished. The influence of the oloroso sherry wine is also more evident – ​​let the two doses rest in the glass for a few minutes and this difference will be even clearer. Chivas Regal Extra 13 years evolves into a pleasantly sweet and winey whisky.

Perhaps, indeed, we have a share of allotriophagy. A very mild version of the habit, in which we deprive ourselves of drinking what we know just for the thrill of tasting something new. It may seem a little inexplicable, but it’s actually crystal clear. It is products like the new Chivas Regal Extra 13 years that justify this impulse. I feel that, more and more, I understand my beloved canine.


Type: Blended Whisky (13 years old)

Brand: Chivas Regal

Region: N/A

ABV: 40%


Aroma: floral aroma, marzipan and candied fruit.

Palate: candied fruit and plum, with marzipan, ginger and milk chocolate. Long and sweet finish, more winey and smooth than the NAS expression.

What is a Ghost Distillery

Apologies. Once again, I will talk about cinema. And I know sometimes it feels like this is a movie blog rather than whisky. But the analogy is too good to be wasted on the allegation of exhaustion. I fear, by the way, that the apologies should be doubled – because the relationship is also so direct that it is even obvious. The movie Angel’s Share, by Ken Loach.

Angel’s Share tells the story of a group of marginalized young people, who discover the pleasure of tasting the water of life. And from there, due to a series of coincidences, they learn about a very rare cask of whisky, from a distillery that has been demolished a long time ago. Malt Mill. Knowing how valuable rare whiskies are, the team devises a plan to steal a few bottles and sell them on the parallel market.

Loach’s film, in this respect, is incredibly subtle. Real characters from the whisky world, such as Charles MacLean, are perfectly incorporated into the story to the point of appearing fictional. And so does the object of desire and the pivot of everything. The Malt Mill.

Ken Loach’s entire work, by the way, has a curious parallel with the theme presented here. The UK-born filmmaker presents in almost all of his films an unromanticized image of what his country is all about. From The Wind That Shakes The Barley (perhaps his best-known film) to Me, Daniel Blake, Loach shows the disgrace of civil wars to the failure of social policies in an unpleasantly realistic approach. Something that also impacted the scotch whisky industry. After all, distilleries, like any business, are prone to the socioeconomic conditions of their country.

It’s hard for us to imagine, in the current scenario, a good reason for a distillery to close down. After all, nowadays, Scotch whisky is one of the best known and best-loved drinks in the world. But the rise to success was not linear. Scotch whisky has had a hard time during its history. And, in several situations, for a certain group or company to survive, it was necessary to sacrifice one or more distilleries. It is these, deactivated, demolished or (rarely) blown up that we give the name of Ghost Distilleries, or Silent Stills (silent stills). Let’s tell the story of some of them and the reasons behind their downfall here.

Starting with the Malt Mill, object of Ken Loach’s film. The distillery was founded in 1908 by Peter Mackie, who also owned the now-desired Lagavulin. At that time, it was his company, Mackie & Co., which distributed the malts of one of its neighbors, Laphroaig, through a commercial partnership. A partnership that collapsed when in 1907 – a year before the foundation of Malt Mill – Laphroaig decided to sell its products on its own.

Enraged, Mackie tried to sabotage his neighbor in endless ways – he even blocked the supply of water to Laphroaig. Finally, in a fit of rage as stupid as it was lavish, he built an entire distillery just like Laphroaig, just to try to get it off the market. This distillery was the Malt Mill. The idea – obviously – backfired, and in 1962 Malt Mill was demolished and its equipment incorporated into Lagavulin.

Malt Mill

Only a small bottle of new-make remains, which is currently proudly displayed at Lagavulin’s visitor center. Until recently, there was no record of a Malt Mill bottling – except for its use in the company’s blends, with White Horse and Mackie’s Ancient Scotch. Because of this, in fact, that the international market values ​​White Horses from the sixties and seventies. For the possibility of containing Malt Mill. No casks have been preserved – and the fictional discovery of one that serves as the backdrop for Loach’s film.

But there were (and are) a multitude of reasons why an absolutely healthy distillery stopped production and became just part of the story. One of them was Pattinson’s Crash of 1896. In the late nineteenth century, the whisky scene looked like it was today. Investing in expensive and rare whisky bottles had become a trend, and several companies were opened to explore this market niche.

Among them was Pattison, Elder & Company. According to a story by whisky historian Gavin D. Smith, they used various unhonest subterfuges to inflate the value of their stocks and their company. However, in 1896, the company began to default – and the practices came to the fore. Upon declaring bankruptcy, more than a dozen other companies in the industry went with it – partly because they were creditors of the latter, and partly because of the market’s loss of confidence in scotch whisky.

More drama followed. Some of them, external historical factors, like the Volstead Act, which decimated the distilleries of Campbelltown, for example. Or the two great wars. Focus on World War II, when dozens of distilleries stopped production to assist in the manufacture of fuel and supplies for the war. Laphroaig was one of those hit, for example. The distillery only exists today because of the genius of its owner at the time, Bessie Williamson.

Other times, the downfall of a future Ghost Distillery took place due to elements inherent to the industry and the consumer market. As, for example, the fall in popularity of scotch whisky in favor of vodka in the sixties and seventies of the twentieth century, combined with the industry’s excess production. This, incidentally, was the phenomenon responsible for silencing distilleries that are now objects of desire of every enthusiast – Port Ellen, Brora and Rosebank. Each with a different story. But, in common, excess in a time of retraction.

Port Ellen was closed in 1985, and converted into a malting floor by its owner, Diageo. At the time, the consumption of whisky in the world was far from what it is today. And Diageo had three distilleries on Islay alone – Port Ellen, Lagavulin and Caol Ila. There was no reason to keep the three, even because production was almost entirely geared towards the production of blends. The choice was natural. It may seem absurd these days, but Port Ellen was the smallest – by production volume – and the least known and least loved of the three.

Brora also had a similar history, being consequently replaced – including in his logo – by dear Clynelish. And Rosebank, considered the queen of Lowland distilleries, was passed over in favor of Glenknichiewhich had a visitor center on a green hill just like the home of Teletubbies. Finally, Glenury was also another victim of the response to the 1985 market downturn.

Brora, currently part of Diageo Special Releases

And there were also a few cases where the fall of that ghost distillery was due to sheer bad luck. As is the case with Banff, founded in 1824. Which caught fire in 1877. Whose owners went bankrupt in 1932. And which was bombed by the Luftwaffe in 1941 (by the way, there is a curious episode about drunken cows ). And that exploded again in 1959, until it finally began to be demolished – voluntarily – in 1983, only to, during the demolition, catch fire and explode into a magnificent ball of fire a third time.

All of these distilleries, now ghost distilleries, were victims of their time – or bad luck, in the case of the unfortunate Banff. And perhaps his disgrace has become his greatest glory. Because, over time, they became sorts of industry martyrs. Of legacy, in most cases, his barrels remain. The maturing stock, patiently waiting to be bottled. And today, the traffic jams of precisely these stocks that are disputed by collectors as – and sorry for the cliché metaphor – liquid gold.

The reason for the search is not unique, either. First of all, there is a certain romance to tasting a liquid that will never be replaced. Even more for someone in love with that drink. Second, there is curiosity. Curiosity to know what that liquid tasted like. For the most aficionados, draw comparisons and finally satiate curiosity. Prove, in the tongue, that Port Ellen is as good as Lagavulin. That Clynelish is superior to Brora. Or not.

Will we have more silent distilleries in the future? I do not know. Probably – history shows that the movement is pendular. But if we do, I hope that excellent films will also be produced about them.

Aultmore 21 – Optimism

When I was five years old, I remember a visit I made to the pediatrician. He measured my foot, then the circumference of my head. With the smile of a child who has just discovered a confidence, he said resolutely that I would be six feet tall and strong as a pit bull. And then, thirty years later, I remembered this story, from the top of my disproportionate head, fixed on a body that is more like a dachshund, four feet off the ground.

But I wasn’t the only one to be lulled into prophecies of gigantism by pediatricians. It’s kind of a rule – you’ll always stay six feet tall, play basketball with the agility of a marmoset and have the bone mass of a brachiosaurus. But decades later, you end up puny, with mediocre stature, feet that look like two rackets, and bones pushing the skin in the wrong places. Pediatricians are naturally optimistic.

me on the beach, according to my pediatrician

I think it’s a matter of human nature’s expectation. You expect the future to be extraordinary. It’s like, for example, when I open a whisky that I’ve never had in my life – Aultmore 21 years old, for example, which has just officially arrived in Brazil. The unopened bottle promises an incredible, poignant, distinct experience. Totally out of the curve. Even more so for very exclusive and mature whiskies. But, unfortunately, this expectation is not always met.

I’ll start by contextualizing. While Aultmore’s story is a survival story – it lived on through the Pattinson crisis, the Volstead Act, the Great Depression and the two world wars – it never really shone on its own, as did some of its celebrated neighbors. Instead. His role has always been backstage – Aultmore is an important ingredient for blended scotches, especially the Dewar’s range.

Aultmore is located in the Moray Mountains, north of Keith, next to a road called Buckie Road – locally, they ask for a “a wee dram of the Buckie Road”. It is difficult to access and sparsely populated. Next to the distillery is an area known as the Foggie Moss, which at the time of Aultmore’s founding was quite rich in peat. These conditions, together with the ease of obtaining water, made the Aultmore region quite famous among illicit distillers in the mid-nineteenth century.

Aultmore’s supporting role changed when Bacardi, its owner, decided to launch in 2014 a series of bottlings of its distilleries – the well-known and modestly named “The Last Great Malts of Scotland” – highlighting Aberfeldy and the delicious Royal Brackla. Among them was also the Aultmore 21 years. Originally designed for the duty-free market, this expression is now also sold in selected domestic markets around the world – I suspect, due to COVID. Including Brazil.

Aultmore 21 years is a premium single malt, with a profile that refers to a blended luxury whisky. It’s quite complex – there’s honey, caramel, vanilla, creme brulee and a vegetable, herbaceous note. But it’s also a delicate and balanced whisky. The time – the ages in the cask – here brought softness, not intensity. There are no sharp edges or any aggressiveness. And that’s where the maturation, which happens in refill hogsheads, becomes apparent.


The smoothness of maturation also finds balance in its spirit, which has a medium body. Aultmore stills are low, which prevents reflux. However, the distillation is slow and encourages reflux, making the drink more aromatic and less oily. The distillate does not undergo cold filtration, and there is no added caramel coloring – the color is totally natural.

With that description, the 21 year old Aultmore sounds like an extraordinary liquid. And, as a matter of fact, he really is. But maybe it takes some experience to understand its greatness. It is a single malt with more than two decades of maturation, but whose sensory profile is close to an ultra-luxury blended scotch whisey. A delicate and complex whisky, balanced, without peat and herbal.

And maybe I was the one who was wrong in the expectation, and the problem is there, not in the liquid. Because in Brazil, a bottle of Aultmore 21 years costs a little more than a thousand reais. It’s a great price for a 21 year old single malt (that’s what it is!). However, it is perhaps an adequate price at the most considering a whisky which flavour profile is close to an ultra-luxury blend. Whose objective, by the way, is exactly the same – to bring complexity and smooth.

So my recommendation here will be twofold. Whether you’re passionate about smooth and delicate whiskies, or ultra-luxury blended scotch whiskies that combine complexity and smoothness, like the 25-year-old Dewar’s, the Aultmore 21 will be a perfect single malt for your taste buds. But, align your expectations – except, of course, if you’re a pediatrician.


Type: Single malt

Distillery: Aultmore

Region: Speyside

ABV: 46%


Aroma: Floral, citrus, herbs (as always, the legal ones…).

Taste: Herbaceous. grassy, slightly citrus. Honey, caramel, creme brulee. Medium and sweet finish.

*the bottle of the whisky subject of this tasting was provided by third parties involved in its production. This Dog, however, maintained complete editorial freedom over the content of the post.

Macallan Triple Cask 15 – Names

I once read an article about how automakers choose the names of their cars. It’s very interesting. and also complicated. What seems natural is actually a complex creative process. First, companies consult their marketing departments to determine words that reflect the vehicle’s profile. Literally hundreds of ideas are conceived.

Then, specialists from different areas choose the names based on the most different criteria. For example, it cannot be a registered trademark of another company. It can’t be slang, it can’t be a curse word in another language and it has to sound good. This all means that behind every Ford Pinto (the vulgar for “penis”), Kia Besta (even more vulgar for “stupid”), Mazda Laputa (vulgar for “prostitute”), Lancia Marica (ah, forget about explaining this one…) and Fiat Punto there is a team of dozens of people who failed miserably.

Recently, one of the most famous single malt brands in the world took the same risk. The Macallan, when launching its Quest collection. The old 1824 line was replaced by one of products with, shall we say, more creative names – Quest, Lumina, Terra and Enigma. And that’s okay, because the names sound good and, in a way, convey the sense of sophistication that the brand intends to. However – and in my simple opinion – there is a small problem. As in the case of Fiat Linea, Hyundai Azera and Honda Accord, the names mean nothing. After all, is light less or more sophisticated than earth and enigma?


Luckily, The Macallan compensated by renaming some of their lines with very concrete names. Like, for example, Fine Oak – which was renamed Triple Cask. And the other lines with minimal maturation stamped on the label, too. Sherry Oak, Double Cask and Triple Cask, accompanied by the minimum age declaration. Everything (almost) that the consumer wants to know is already stated there, in the name – without running the risk of idiomatic puns or too much abstraction. As is the case of Macallan Triple Cask 15 years, subject of this test.

According to The Macallan “Matured in a unique and complex combination of casks, the Macallan Triple Cask Matured range offers an extraordinarily smooth and delicate yet complex character, extracted from oak casks seasoned with European and American sherry and former American oak casks . -bourbon. Formerly known as The Macallan Fine Oak, the line offers the same whisky with a new name and a new bottle; reflecting the quality of our whiskies and revealing the skills and skill of the Macallan Masters.”

At this point, you might have already intuited a thing or two about the Macallan Triple Cask 15 years ago. The first is that, well, the age of the youngest malt in your mix is ​​15 years. And the second is that whisky uses three different types of casks. Here, in this case, American and European oak casks that previously contained sherry wine, and American oak casks that previously matured bourbon whisky. Very objective – no fancy nicknames.

The Triple Cask range – formerly dubbed Fine Oak – was launched in 2004 and brought something new to The Macallan whiskies. The use of ex-bourbon American oak casks. Is that traditionally the distillery used predominantly ex-sherry casks. However, the increase in production, together with the cost and the search for new consumers – who often want more delicate whiskies – made The Macallan diversify its range.

Three ranges

And even though the name is crystal clear, the liquid is of rare sophistication. Macallan Triple Cask 15 Years Old is a single malt with an extremely balanced aroma, with notes of caramel, vanilla, honey, creme brulee, black pepper and a touch of dried fruit. Everything is there exactly where it should be – none of the scents trump the other. The palate, in turn, accompanies the aroma, and brings the characteristic oiliness so known from The Macallan.

The texture of The Macallan Triple Cask 15 years is mainly due to The Macallan stills. They are the lowest in all of Scotland. Its lyne arms face downward to maximize condensation and reduce reflux. All of this makes for a very oily distillate. To counteract a hypothetical aggressiveness, The Macallan’s heart cut is very restrited: Only sixteen percent of the distillate – produced in the middle of the distillation process in the still – turns into single malt.

Within The Macallan’s Triple Cask lineup, the 15 year old is perhaps this Bottled Dog’s favorite – especially given the aforementioned balance of casks and new-make. And also Dave Broom’s favourite! According to the renowned journalist “it takes time to open, but it’s worth the wait. It’s the complete package, and arguably the best. Grade 9 and 1/4 of 10.”

If you are looking for a sophisticated whisky, with a balanced aroma and at the same time personality, the Macallan 15 Triple Cask is your choice. No names full of enigmatic meanings. Just an extremely well made and polished single malt, capable of pleasing both the hardcore enthusiast and the most casual drinker.


Type: Single Malt with declared age (15 years)

Distillery: Macallan

Region: Speyside

ABV: 43%


Aroma: caramel, vanilla, raisins, spices.

Flavor: Caramel, vanilla, creme brulee. Black pepper and dried fruit finish.

Interview with Chris Morris – Woodford Reserve Master Distiller

Tom Freston once said that innovation is taking two things that already exist and putting them together in a new way. But what Freston refrained from saying is that sometimes the story doesn’t work out very well. Like for example a certain flying car, the Ave Mizar. The Mizar was proof that the sum of two bad things always results in something much worse.

On the other hand, the result of bringing together two good things – by a creative mind, combining technique and knowledge – usually becomes greater than the sum of its parts. This is the case, for example, of the hamburger. And, in the bourbon whiskey industry, a range of Woodford Reserve products. The mind behind the hugely renowned brand is Chris Morris.

Chris Morris is not just any master distiller. He is the creator of amazing products like the Woodford Reserve Double Oaked and the Woodford Rye. He is also responsible for the Master’s Collection – a series of limited editions from Woodford Reserve that introduce innovations to the world of American whiskey, such as a single malt aged in virgin barrels, a bourbon finished in red wine barrels and a bourbon with smoked barley in its mashbill.


Chris began his career in 1976 at Brown-Forman, the multinational that owns Woodford Reserve. In 1997, he became a student of Lincoln Henderson, Woodford Reserve’s first Master Distiller. In 2003, he became the second – and this is the position he occupies to this day.

Interviewing Morris isn’t exactly easy. The temptation is to ask about all the innovations already produced, and about plans for the future. Even more in an exclusive chat. After all, Woodford Reserve is that kind of brand that sets trends – that makes innovation tangible – and, well, palatable. You can check the result of the interview below.

You are one of the most respected master distillers in the Bourbon industry. How does one become a master distiller? How did you begin?

Chris Morris: Serving as master distiller at Woodford Reserve is a great honor and a great responsibility. My journey began in 1976, when I started my career in our analytical and sensory laboratory at the distillery. From there, I worked in the bottling part, our barrel cooperage, distillery, in the aging and barrel storage warehouses, as well as in sales and marketing.

In other words, I’ve had a wide range of experiences in our industry. During this journey, I was also privileged to work a significant amount of time at scotch, irish whiskey and tequila distilleries. My last role before being named master distiller was “Master Distiller in Training”. This allowed me the opportunity to devote 100% of my time preparing for my current role. It took 28 years of preparation and experience, two postgraduate degrees, and participation in several seminars before my promotion to master distiller in March 2003.

Woodford Reserve is part of Brown-Forman, which also owns Jack Daniel’s. However, Woodford is seen as a “craft” distillery. How do you maintain the “handcrafted” characteristic even though you are part of such a large company?

Chris Morris: Woodford Reserve is able to remain “craft” within a large global company, Brown-Forman, due to the company’s structure. At Brown-Forman, each brand and its distillery operate as an independent business within the larger business. Woodford has its own brand management team, production team and specific local sales and marketing teams around the world. The Global Brand Director and I are partners charged with maintaining the brand’s quality and business performance. This allows us to follow our vocation, which focuses on presenting the flavor of the product.

As a member of a multinational company (Brown-Forman), Woodford Reserve benefits from its (Brown) global distribution network. This allows us to show Woodford to a wider range of consumers around the world. It also helps us make accurate assessments of the volume of market demand by country. This is needed by us as we build our long-term distillation plans and barrel inventory.

What makes Woodford Reserve so special, in your opinion? In other words, how would you convince someone to drink Woodford over another bourbon?

Chris Morris: Woodford Reserve is special and stands out from other great Kentucky bourbons for a number of reasons. Key to its success is our Five Sources of Whiskey Flavor concept and the resulting balance of the Five Areas of Whiskey Flavor. Our distillery is the first in the United States to use triple distillation in copper stills (made in Scotland), ferment twice as long as the others, use the Woodford Reserve yeast strain and mature in custom barrels from our own cooperage . These unique production characteristics allow Woodford Reserve to have a complex balance of sweet aromatic notes, fruits and florals, spices, wood and grains.


I even apologize in advance for the statement – ​​but I love mixing Woodford Reserve. I think it’s a great base for cocktails. What do you think of cocktails with Woodford?

Chris Morris: I’m a big fan of using Woodford Reserve at cocktail parties. The best way to make a great cocktail is to use the best foundation in that cocktail. Beginning in 1999, when Woodford Reserve was named the first “Official Bourbon” of the Kentucky Derby, we became perfectionists in Mint Julep. Mint Julep has acquired a rather bad image over the years and was rarely served in bars and restaurants, for very long. Due to Woodford’s efforts, it is now possible to enjoy a Mint Julep in the United States and many other countries.

Woodford also established the Woodford Reserve Manhattan competition 12 years ago. This has become one of the most prestigious whiskey cocktail competitions in the world. Recently, Woodford was named the “Old Fashioned Week ” official bourbon, on a global platform. Thus, it is evident that Woodford Reserve played an important role in the return of “Classic Cocktails” to popularity.

Woodford Reserve has a Single Malt, right? Is it like a Scottish single malt or are there differences in production and palate?

Chris Morris: Woodford Reserve launched Kentucky’s first Single Malt Whiskey (Kentucky Single Malt) in 2009 through our Masters Collection product line. It was offered in two expressions – one aged in barrels previously used to mature another whiskey, like many Scottish single malts and the other aged in new barrels. For me, virgin barrel-aged malt was the more complex of the two.

Since then, the new micro-distillery movement in the US has championed Single Malts. I didn’t want us to look like a follower rather than the pioneers that we are, so we created Kentucky’s first and only single malt. The use of corn and rye in the recipe, as well as a charred virgin barrel, resulted in a flavor profile that I consider unique in the whiskey universe.

I could not agree more! Now, about finishing. Glenmorangie and Balvenie pioneered the technique of “finishing” (transferring a whiskey to a different type of barrel to add sensory complexity). Woodford Reserve is a pioneer in this technique in the United States – with chardonnay cask. How did you come up with this idea? AND…. is still bourbon?

My interest in finishing (barrels, finishing) started with my experience in the Single Malt Scotch industry. I noticed that the use of fortified wine barrels (port, sherry, wood etc.) was quite common. Why was no one using varietal wine barrels, I wondered? This led me to purchase barrels of chardonnay, pinot, cabernet, zinfandel and others to test the finish.

After much trial and error, we put our learning to the test with the release of the Chardonnay Finish from the Masters Collection in 2007 and despite the storm it caused among bourbon aficionados, it was a huge success. Since then, we’ve also pioneered the Pinot Noir finish and, with our established finishing credentials, we’ve moved on to the less controversial fortified wine finishes.

Suntory Hibiki Japanese Harmony – Devotion

I will keep trying to climb until I reach the top, even though no one knows where the top is.” The phrase is from the nonagenarian Jiro Ono, protagonist of a documentary I recently watched on Amazon: Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Jiro is the owner and chef of a restaurant that serves only sushi, called Sukiyasbashi Jiro. The space, with only ten seats, kept from 2007 to 2019 a three star rating by the Michelin Guide – the maximum award. In 2019 Sukiyasbashi Jiro lost its stars. But not by demerit. But because it became so famous that it does not accept reservations to the general public anymore.

The documentary, released in 2012, shows the chef’s crystalline devotion for his occupation. Jiro obsesses about the placement of the mats on his counter and points out where each customer should sit. Jiro massages each octopus for at least forty-five minutes, to make it more juicy. Jiro knows the exact story of each piece consumed in his establishment, and he watches his diners diligently – a longer blink of an eye may be a sign that something has changed. Jiro was born to make sushi. His success is almost a natural extension of him.

What’s up, Barack, is the fish-y tast-ey?

It is something that, in a way, could also be said of Suntory, Japan’s largest whisky producer. Its first label was launched in 1929. Today, its success is undeniable. The brand’s products are so desired that the more mature expressions even had to be discontinued. It could – the attention to detail, from the liquid to the packaging, is so meticulous that it even looks like that of an award-winning sushiman.

And after a long hiatus, two Suntory labels finally arrived in Brazil, to complete the portfolio with Roku Gin, Haku Vodka and The Chita. They are the single malt Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve – part of a future tasting of this Dog – and the Hibiki Japanese Harmony, blended whisky and the object of this article.

According to Suntory, Hibiki Japanese Harmony is considered the cornerstone of the Hibiki blending line, and carries the same base malts and grain whisky as the most mature expressions, Hibiki 17 and 21 years old. There are three. Yamazaki, responsible for a good part of the sweet and candied fruit notes of the blend; Hakushu, which brings a slight impression of smoke and iodine and The Chita, which brings sweetness and balance to the mix – “daishi” as the company itself defines.

The maturation takes part in five different types of barrels, from three different species of oak. The ex-bourbon American serves as a base – with sweetness and vanilla. The European oak previously used for sherry wine brings seasoning, as well as the rare Japanese oak, known as mizunara.

Hibiki Japanese Harmony shows how complex the creation of a blended whisky is, and the level of knowledge of its master blender, Shinji Fukuyo. Its components must be combined in order to bring harmony, drinkability, but, at the same time, personality. To paraphrase Jiro Ono “there is a balance between fish and rice. If it is not in perfect harmony, it will not be good ”. Attention should be paid to balance, in order to avoid that certain whisky does not stand out, but also to let part of the character of each one be noticed. This is actually the biggest challenge for every blender in the world.

Shinji Fukuyo, dreaming of sushi

But in the case of the Japanese, there is yet another setback. The raw material is incredibly scarce, because there is a huge demand for Japanese malts in the world. And the blend must have standardization, consistency – Hibikis Japanese Harmonies must always have the same sensory profile. Achieving this with limited resources is not a trivial job

There is an interesting symbology behind the bottle, too. The name Hibiki means “resonance” or “harmony”. It is as if Japanese Harmony were doubly harmonic. The bottle has twenty-four distinct faces, which symbolize twenty-four seasons of the traditional Japanese calendar.

Sensorially, Hibiki Japanese Harmony is a very balanced, fruity and floral whisky. There are citrus notes, as well as vanilla, cinnamon, black pepper and coconut. The flavor intensity is higher than the average of blended whiskies, but there is almost no aggressiveness. The texture is somewhat reminiscent of its counterpart, Haku Vodka. It is curious how the Hibiki Japanese Harmony is essentially a luxury blend, but it also sensorially appeals to the enthusiast because of its intensity.

In Brazil, a bottle of Hibiki Japanese Harmony costs approximately 700 reais. It is not cheap – but it is a price consistent with other luxury blends. Some of them, also without an age stated on the label.

Hibiki Japanese Harmony is, in a way, the most perfect summary of the Japanese technique and dedication in producing whiskies. Not even his magnificent single malts – with my dear Hakushu – are a better testament to his technique. Look, my dear Jiro, I’m not sure where the top is either – but Hibiki is close to him.


Type: No age statement blended whisky

Brand: Suntory

Region: N / A

ABV: 43%

Tasting Notes:

Aroma: citrus, vanilla. Cinnamon and coconut in the background.

Flavor: Honey, candied fruit, floral, vanilla. Persistent finish, with coconut, cinnamon and a little black pepper.

Where to find: Caledonia Whiskey & Co., in São Paulo, and other selected retailers.

Suntory Haku Vodka – On Distinct Experiences

A couple of years ago, I went with my father to a sophisticated Chinese restaurant and ordered an improbable dish. Shark fin soup. We went there just for that, in the most innocent curiosity. Shark fin soup is a typical Chinese dish, usually served only on very special occasions. Weddings, for example. It was invented in the Song dynasty, and is still seen today by much of the population of China as a symbol of prestige two pounds of fin can cost well over four hundred reais.

But the most curious thing, however, is not the stellar price of the delicacy. But something that, before the experiment, we didn’t know: shark fin has no taste at all. The texture is curious, kind of gelatinous and slippery. But the taste is totally neutral. It is the other ingredients of the dish – chicken broth, seafood and spices – that add flavor to it.

It does not look very good either.

And there was nothing wrong with us. It’s not that our tastebuds were faulty or something. Because there is jurisprudence on this. International chef Gordon Ramsay once made a quote about such a fin “It is really bizarre. Because it has no taste at all. It’s like glass noodles. The soup is delicious. But there could be anything there – chicken, duck, corn “. I have to agree, albeit a little disappointed about the taste of the dish. In a world where everything is ephemeral and we are occupied with empty experiences, eating shark fin broth can be doubly insignificant.

A distillate that has maintained a similar reputation for a long time is vodka. Dave Wondrich once said that “Vodka is the boneless, skinless chicken breast from the cocktail shop – everything has to do with the seasoning“. However, there are vodkas that challenge this concept. Some have very particular flavors, albeit delicate. This is the case, for example, of Haku Vodka, which has just landed in Brazil officially through Beam-Suntory.

The base of Haku Vodka is rice, which is fermented and distilled in stills, creating a kind of low-grain wine. Afterwards, this product is redistilled, both in stills and in distillation columns. Finally, the distillate is collected and filtered on bamboo charcoal, removing the heavier congeners, and making Haku even more delicate. It is a very meticulous process.

Haku Vodka’s production takes place under the same roof as Roku Gin. It is a distillery located in Kaigandori, Osaka, belonging to Suntory – very close to Yamazaki, where the wonderful homonymous sigle malt is produced. The space is also known as the “Suntory Liquor Atelier

The atelier

The name “Haku” has an interesting ambiguity. The word can mean either “white” – in reference to rice – or “bright”, a tribute to the ability to create the spirit. In fact, Suntory’s vodka production is not a current phenomenon. The company has been producing the distillate since 1956.

Sensorially, Haku Vodka is very delicate, with extremely well integrated alcohol. It is smoothly sweet, without any pepper. But in the opinion of this Dog – who may be delirious – the interesting thing is its texture. It is not as volatile as it appears. There is a weight, an oiliness, that curiously complements its pepperless smoothness – almost like the shark fin soup!

If you are looking for a vodka to work as a star in your cocktails, like in a Vesper Martini, or even something that will look strangely delicious if drunk pure, Haku Vodka is an excellent choice. Not all experiences need to have no meaning.


Type: Vodka
Brand: Suntory
Country / Region: Japan – N / A
ABV: 40%
Age: N / A

Tasting notes

Aroma: delicate, sugar, grains.
Flavor: sweet and delicate. There is almost no trace of spices. Relatively oily for a vodka.

Caledonian 33YO – Drops

If you like unusual whiskies, you may be interested in this small – but remarkable – bottle. The 33-year-old Caledonian The Boutique-y Whisky Company. There are a number of reasons that make it a certain unicorn in the world of Scotch Whisky.

The first is its sheer type. It is a single grain scotch whisky. Which, in itself, corresponds to an almost insignificant fraction of scotch whiskies. Single grains are produced in a single distillery, using whichever grains – and a small fraction of malted barley. They are usually distilled in Coffey Stills (a kind of column still). Although production is large, most grain whiskies are produced to integrate blends. They are only seldomnly bottled alone.

Another – and the main – reason is that the distillery – Caledonian – no longer exists. The Caledonian had long been the largest distillery in all of Scotland. However, due to a series of mergers and acquisitions, as well as an oversupply of grain whiskies on the market, the distillery closed its doors in 1988. Its interior was renovated and transformed into a housing complex. Its chimney, however – one of Scotland’s tallest Victorian towers – remains intact, and is considered a historic monument.

Caledonian Distillery

In fact, the label of this edition – bottled by the independent Boutique-y whiskies Company – makes an hommage to that chimney. According to the brand “Around the corner from Haymarket station in Edinburgh, you will find Distillery Lane and, next to some apartments, a huge chimney! That’s all that’s left of the Caledonian distillery now. Well, almost… a little bit of delicious grain whisky also survived! Climb to the top of the chimney and admire the view of the city to the Firth of Forth. But how dangerous (and naughty) that would be, we designed it for you. Be welcome.”

Since its silence, several independent bottlers have purchased barrels from Caledonian and have launched their own. As, for example, the object of this tasting: an edition of the Boutique-y Whisky Company, which yielded 144 bottles of 33-year-old Caledonian. The distillery’s only official launch, however, was in 2015. A monumental forty-year-old grain whisky, dubbed “The Cally”, and part of Diageo’s annual Special Releases for that year.

Sensorially, the Boutique-y Whisky Company 29-year-old Caledonian is rathes smooth and has a great influence of wood. There are notes of caramel, vanilla and coconut. In fact, a lot of coconut. It is a single grain that shows that grain whiskies can be exceptional and as complex as a good malt whisky. And a bonus – in addition to the wonderful whisky – there is a beautiful bottle. And a name we love (if you know what we mean), I don’t know why.


Type: Single grain scotch whiskey – 33 years

Distillery: Caledonian

Region: Lowlands

ABV: 50.3%

Test results:

Aroma: vanilla, coconut, yellow fruits.

Flavor: very light and fruity, with coconut, salted caramel and vanilla. Medium finish, sweet and fruity.

Murray McDavid – Clachan

A thousand and one uses. Tasteful energy. The real mayonnaise. Everyone uses or uses and abuses. All of the above phrases are famous brand slogans in Brazil. It is impossible not to think about Pão de Açúcar when someone says “happy people place”, even though I’ve felt miserable visiting the supermarket in more than one occasion.

Almost all slogans carry a common message. They are positive and cheerful, and convey values ​​such as authenticity or trust. Almost all, because there are a few really weird ones out there. For example, that of the independent bottler Murray McDavid. Their slogan, in Gaelic, is clachan a choin.

Before I tell you what clachan a choin means, let me talk a little bit about Murray McDavid. Its headquarters are currently the Coleburn distillery in the Scottish region of Speyside. It is one of Scotland’s most prolific independent bottlers. In case you don’t know, independent bottlers are companies that visit and choose barrels from different distilleries – which do not belong to it – and produce their own line of whiskies. Sometimes very limited editions. Others, not so much.

I can only admire a brand that has a dog as a logo.

The success of an independent bottler lies largely in its creativity. In its capacity to produce improbable editions, which maintains the character of a certain distillery, but which are sufficiently distinct from those produced by it. An independent bottler must produce something new, but with tools that are already there and were not created by it. It must think differently. Be rebellious and defiant. And there it is.

Clachan a Choin means “canine scrotum”. Or, in a translation perhaps coarse, but more faithful, “the dog’s bollocks”. A phrase that, let’s face it, does not need many explanations to convey a sense of rebellion. That Murray McDavid represents very well. Whether with its more exclusive lines (which carry the Murray McDavid brand), or with its more accessible products, from ACEO Spirits.

I had the opportunity to taste some of these creations due to the visit of Murray McDavid’s ambassador to Brazil. Who, incredibly, is a Brazilian. João Pedro Medeiros. During the trip, the representative will perform tastings in Recife, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. In Rio, the event – in partnership with Whisky Rio – will take place on March 13, at Bota Restaurante. In São Paulo, the tasting will be at Caledonia Whisky & Co. – which, incidentally, belongs to us.

Among the whiskies tasted, I selected four that – within my weird logic – represent Murray McDavid’s spirit (pun intended) well. The first is a single grain scotch whisky produced by Girvan. By it’s nature, it would already be quite different – there are not many single grains out there. But this also has a very special maturation. It is finished in barrels that previously contained wood wine. Due to the thin body, the maturation is very evident. It is a light, pleasant, sweet and fruity whisky.

Coleburn Distillery

The second is Half and Half, a blended of undisclosed malts from Speyside and Lowlands. Maturation took place mainly in American oak barrels. However, after blending, the whisky is transferred to barrels of Spanish sherry wine for completion. Sensorially, it is a more conventional whisky – sweet and with a slight flavor of prune, coming from the finish.

The third is Mulben Moor, a single malt from a distillery – allegedly – not disclosed, but which we know is Auchroisk. Maturation took place in barrels of ex-American oak bourbon, and European oak of ex-Madeira wine. It is a curiously citrusy single malt, reminiscent of lemon peel. It is more intense than the previous ones. The finish is long, fruity and spicy.

The ultimate is Peatside, a blended peated malt. It is a limited edition, with only 848 bottles worldwide. Matured in American oak barrels, and then transferred to two port wine barrels, it is a very smoky whisky, with notes of fruit in syrup and black pepper. Alcohol content is 50%.

If you want to know more about Murray McDavid and the independent bottlers, follow the Bottled Dog in the coming weeks! We will cover the event in São Paulo and interview the ambassador. Here,the place of happy people – tasteful energetic people.