Duck's at Kilspindie House Whisky Review | Choose From Over 90 Malts | Also Selection of Malts from SMWS at Duck's at Kilspindie House
Planet Whiskies were very kindly asked to do a whisky review just 18 miles outside Edinburgh and of course we gratefully accepted. This tasting was taking place at Duck's at Kilspindie House, which is located in the lovely seaside village of Aberlady. With over 90 malts behind the bar we knew we were in for an interesting night. As we were driving to Ducks, and of course the whisky tasting which was going to be that night, an overnight stay was required.
On this whisky tasting journey Planet Whiskies had been researching the online material of Duck's at Kilspindie House and were very impressed with their website. I was very impressed too with the massive whisky selection they had in their bar list.
After driving from Glasgow which took just over 80 minutes, we arrived around 3pm and were met by Rob the manager of Duck's who welcomed us to the hotel and provided us with information regarding what was going on that day & evening in the hotel. The Scottish and English Cup finals were being shown on the large screen and the bar was expected to be very busy because of this.
Rob went on to say that as Duck's at Kilspindie House is located right in the "middle" of 22 golf courses, there were a lot of golfers residing at the hotel that night and was sure to be a great atmosphere when they all came back from their golf outing around East Lothian.
Rob and I also had a good long chat about the whisky selection that was on offer at the Duck's and my mouth was watering thinking about which whiskies I would have later on. As he passed me the whisky menu with a large smile on his face he said I could pick three to taste from the 90 strong selection and he offered to pick two others from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society Selection. The whisky menu was definitely coming to our room so I could study this in greater detail. The only problem I could foresee was that I could only pick three, but what a problem to have! Next to the reception area was a tall stand packed with cigars from around the world. This was the best selection I had seen in a Scottish hotel before and had a great thought running through my mind about having an amazing malt later in the outside seating area with a quality cigar in my hand.
As we collected our key from Rob another couple were checking in and they were on holiday from England. This was their return visit as they enjoyed their last stay so much. The four of us had a five minute chat to find out more details about the hotel and the surrounding area. All they had was praise for Duck's and they were already planning a return trip later in the year.
We were given Room 38 and when we entered the room there was a 4 poster bed with an en suite & jacuzzi bath. We were both delighted that there was a kettle with tea & coffee in the room as the last hotel we stayed in there was none (New York City - The Waldorf). There was also 4 carmelised biscuits which went down a treat while we had a coffee and looked over the whisky menu. After taking my time with the whisky menu I decided to go for three whiskies that I had either not tried before or not for a while. The three whiskies were
Bowmore 15yo Darkest 43% - Delicious dark chocolate, treacle toffee, sun-dried fruits and a wisp of Islay smoke.
Longrow Red 11yo 52.1% - Sweet to start with soft fruit. citrus and peat. A light touch of spice gives a very rewarding dram.
Glenmorangie Extremely Rare 18yo 43% - Rich, rounded and sweet with dried fruits a complex floral fragrance with a hint of wood smoke
I selected these whisky because they just stood out to me. Longrow Red was a malt I had never tried before and did not know much about. Bowmore, because it was Bowmore 15 year old Darkest and I just love it and Glenmorangie Extremely Rare 18 Year Old was a must in my eyes. My whole thoughts now was about the whisky tasting, but as it was only 4pm we decided on a walk around the village of Aberlady and a visit to the sea front was on the cards. The scenery was picturesque with beautiful cottages & homes along the front. It was such a beautiful place to stay and you could tell why so many people who come to the Duck's and the surrounding area come back again and again.
As we walked along the coast we just took in the breathtaking views and decided it was time to head back to the hotel to have a drink at the bar and soak up the atmosphere we were promised. We were not let down as Duck's was a hive of activity with golfers coming back from their round all sunburn from the lovely weather we were having.
Sarah and I took a seat and were welcomed by the barman. He quickly took our orders and we sat looking around the bar area at all the golfing pictures. It was then that we met Malcolm Ducks the owner at Duck's at Kilspindie House and we had a 20 minute chat about everything to do with the hotel. I asked him about the whisky selection and you could tell he was proud of the quality that was in the selection. I was wondering if it was too early in the day to have a wee dram and decided a wee Talisker 10 year old (45.8%) would be the ideal way to relax before heading back up to the room to get ready for dinner.
Dinner was fantastic and all credit has to go to the chef. Every detail of the meal was perfect and both Sarah and I enjoyed the three course meal with the selection of cheese and biscuits at the end really rounded off a perfect evening. But of course the evening was just starting as now was the turn for the whole point of the trip - The Whisky Tasting. Rob was just as excited as myself with what lay ahead of us over the next 60 minutes and we both knew this was going to be a very special whisky tasting session. Just before the meal I asked Rob if he could bring a selection of bottles through to be photographed for tonight's tasting. He had them all lined up perfectly on a table with whisky bottles from one side of the table to the other and water if it was required and tasting glasses.
Rob handed myself the first whisky of the night still in the bottle -The Longrow Red 11 Year Old. I poured myself a dram and also took a photo. I then swirled it around the glass and put it up to my nose. You could smell the citrus in the glass and the smell of peat . Then to the tasting and I let it stay in my mouth for a few seconds to taste all the flavours before consuming the malt. It was full of spices.
For a whisky I never tasted before I thought it was excellent. It was one of Rob's favourite and he was not surprised that I had not heard much about the distillery from Campbeltown and he found most people who came to Duck's knew very little about the distillery.
At this point of the tasting we were both standing chatting to each other and discussing more about the whisky selection on offer at Duck's. Rob was asking myself what they could bring in to the selection and I basically said that there are no bad whiskies really and the whiskies he had on offer were excellent. In fact the best thing about the selection was there was something from every whisky region in Scotland and that's a collection to be proud off in my books. I did say there were a few classics that could be added like the older age statements from The Glenlivet, Aberlour, The Macallan and Tomatin distillery, but in fact every distillery in Scotland has classics so just add to the collection when you can and if you keep the selection as good as this and you can't go wrong.
It was now time for the second malt of the evening Glenmorangie Extremely Rare 18 year old. This malt was a rich and rounded and when tasted you could taste the dried fruits. The finish was excellent with a hint of wood smoke and left a burning feeling all the way down.
It was a malt that I could have drank all evening and was an excellent choice by myself. When tasting this malt it made me think about all the previous malts I have consumed in the past and it was on par with the best of them. Glemorangie is back on my wish list again and it was such a lovely malt that I made a promise in my mind to visit the distillery when I can in the near future.
As you can tell I really enjoyed the second malt of the evening and as I swirled it around the glass taking sips I took in my surrounding of the room I was in and thought it was a fantastic room to hold a packed whisky tasting event in. I also thought to myself about the day so far and what a lovely place Duck's at Kilspindie House was.
It was now to time to pour myself the third and final whisky of the evening that I had picked for the large selection beforehand. It was now time for the Bowmore 15 Year Old Darkest. This malt will need no introduction to lots of whisky drinkers around the world as it is just amazing. It is packed with flavours from start to finish and just goes down a treat like all great malts. You can smell the dark chocolate and taste the toffee straight away and with the peat smells of Islay burning away inside you, you know you have had a dram to remember.
By this time with having three malts over the last 30 minutes there was a slight buzz around the room and I just could not wait to taste the two malts from Scotch Malt Whisky Society Selection which Rob previously selected for me to taste.
The first one was Society Single Cask No 26.89 and the message under the name was "An exotic tearoom experience". The cask came from the Brora Distillery and the whisky cask type used was Refill ex-sherry butt. The date distilled was 28th November 1984 and the colour was polished pine. It was also matured for 27 years. More tasting notes are - To the nose you could smell dried pineapple cubes and to the taste there was a spicy pepper taste. Other tastes were peaches, vanilla pods and apricot cake. If you would like to read the full tasting notes for cask No.26.89 please go to the SMWS website.
The Second malt from the SMWS was called 124.3 with a name "All the complexities of summer". This malt was a Single Cask Single Japanese Malt whisky and was very strong to the taste with a ABV of 61.90%. To the noise you can smell the fruit of peaches and pears, but also the smell of cut grass. The taste is something special with sweetness packed in each sip with the taste of milk chocolate and honey. There is also a taste of nuts. The finish was also special and was long lasting. To be honest I was not sure about this malt when I started drinking it, but by the end I just wanted more as it was an excellent malt to have as the final tasting of the night.
The time was now heading on and Rob who had been an excellent host all night was doing his final "speech" of the night when the chef came in to say goodnight. He asked us about the food that we received earlier and we said it was first class. Duck's restaurant is an intimate two AA Rosette restaurant and it also has Donald's bistro where we ate that night. The chef did not know that we were here for the whisky tasting, but now that he discovered that he wanted to know more about what were the best whiskies to go with certain foods and we discussed this. I said the discussion could go on for hours and agree that a future meeting must be arranged where we could discuss this in more details. Of course I agreed as it would be a pleasure to come back to such an excellent hotel again in the future.
I must say the hotel was exceptional in everyway with 1st class service from start to finish. We had a brilliant time at Duck's at Kilspindie House. From the dinner, to the whisky tasting, to the room and finally to the breakfast we felt so looked after. I would recommend this place to anyone who is looking for a hotel in a seaside village in East Lothian, who love their whisky. If you are into your golf well that is even more of a reason to stay at Duck's at Kilspindie House.
Read more about Duck's at Kilspindie House on their website
See their whisky menu - www.ducks.co.uk/whisky-at-ducks/