Ardbeg 1976 Manager’s Choice – buy it for its 1999 price

Continuing our 20th anniversary celebrations, we’re selling a fabled bottle of whisky for its original 1999 price – a whisky selling for £7,500 in 2019 for just £99. There’s just one catch: we’ve only got one to sell at that price. Head to the bottom of this post to learn more about the ballot we’re running for the chance to buy the bottle, but read on to learn a bit more about the whisky itself – Ardbeg 1976 Manager’s Choice .


In the beginning…

Just as The Whisky Exchange made its first tentative steps online twenty years ago, Ardbeg distillery...

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Casks – a glossary of terms

There are lots of technical terms bandied around when talking about casks. This list will demystify some of them.

Amburana – a South American hardwood, occasionally used for maturing cachaça and very occasionally for maturing whiskey. It imparts a distinctive tonka-bean flavour, combining vanilla, coconut and cherries.

American Oak – an oak native to America, Most commonly used to mature American whiskey when new, but reused to age and rest many other spirits around the world. Also known as Quercus Alba.

American Standard Barrel – a 200 litre cask.

Angel’s Share – the spirit that evaporates from cask while it...

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What type of whisky cask are you?

The theme of  Whisky Show 2019 is The Journey of the Cask – a journey which begins prior to, then runs parallel to, the journey of whisky itself. To help you get excited about casks and, hopefully, about this year’s Whisky Show (not to mention provide a fun and engaging way to learn about wood, whisky, and the relationship between the two) we’ve put together this fun quiz to determine, more or less, what kind of cask you most resemble.


Let’s start off easy: of the following, which would be your preferred snack?


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Understanding Cask Sizes

How big is a barrel? Or a hogshead, or a butt? Casks play a big part in the making of some of the most famous wines and spirits in the world, but navigating what they are can be confusing. With many different types and sizes in use, each with its own name, how can you tell your hogsheads from your puncheons?




Starting with the smallest casks, blood-tubs are between 30 and 40 litres in size and are almost never used commercially. Mostly these are used for private casks, allowing for a small, more manageable...

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How are casks made?


A Jameson cooper is a happy cooper…

The concept of the wooden cask hasn’t changed much since it first came into being , but the practice of making it has gradually been refined over the past few millennia.

That’s not to say there wasn’t trial and error involved – things like the collapsible shipping cask and the Da Vinci-esque cask cleaning machine, both beautifully illustrated in Scientific American in the 1800s, have fallen by the wayside – but today making casks is a superb blend of art and science.

Coopers – professional cask-makers – will craft casks to a distillery’s...

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The Whisky Exchange Whisky of the Year – nominations are open

It maj be sweltering outside, but it’s time for us to start the process for an annual winter event – the unveiling of The Whisky Exchange Whisky of the Year !

Whisky of the Year

Every year since 2014, we have crowned one whisky with the illustrious title of our Whisky of the Year. Until now, the process has been quite simple: we asked the Whisky Exchange team and industry experts to nominate whiskies, whittled that list down to just eight, and then ran a tasting in London where the attendees voted for the winner.

We’ve had an excellent range...

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Acorn to Oak Tree: How wood affects your whisky

In honour of this year’s Whisky Show and its theme – The Journey of the Cask – we’ve put together a brief rundown of the various types of wood used in whisky maturation, and what effect they might have on spirit. image


The primary function of oak in whisk(e)y – apart from the positives of being both readily accessible in lots of places that make whisk(e)y, and the fact that it’s pretty good, structurally, at being formed into shapes – is to impart flavour. But the way in which the modern whisky industry functions means that, rather than the wood...

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Roll out the barrel: a brief history of casks


Barrels at Jack Daniel’s

We take casks for granted. In fact, we take all waterproof containers for granted. I think it’s fair to say that in all of human history it’s never been so easy to transport liquids, from the soon-to-be-less-ubiquitous plastic water bottles and coffee cups to IV bags and fuel tankers.

Yet despite all these inventions the cask is still special, and it’s been special ever since people smashed their amphorae with joy at the realisation they’d found something leak-proof that was easier to stack. So when did the cask, to which booze owes so much, come into...

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Isle of Arran – Lagg Distillery

Since it first opened in 1995 the Arran Distilling Co has operated out of its distillery in Lochranza, on the northern coast of the Isle of Arran off Scotland’s south-west coast. As the distillery slowly filled its warehouses and grew in popularity it became clear that more space was needed and in 2016 a request for planning permission was submitted for a new distillery on the south side of the island, near the village of Lagg.


Lagg Distillery, complete with welcoming piper

After three years of planning, hard work and anticipation, the Lagg Distillery and visitor centre opened its doors...

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20th anniversary 20 iconic bottles giveaway

Our 20th anniversary celebrations continue! Along with a host of exclusive birthday bottlings – with more to come through the year – we’re also looking back over the past 20 years and giving away 20 of the spirits that have made the drinks world what it is today.

All you need to do is head over to our competition Instagram post , make sure you are following @whiskyexchange , and leave us a comment telling us which bottle you’d like to win and who’d you share it with if you did.


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Long drinks for long days – summer serves

It’s hot. Like, really hot. And not only in all the places that normally complain about it being hot, but also here in merry England. With the longest day of the year now behind us, it seems that the sun has been turned up a notch right across Europe. Unless you’re in Scotland, where it’s hailing.

For the rest of us, it’s time for something cooling and refreshing to keep us going through the scorching afternoons and evenings. It’s time to break out the long-drink ideas.

Spritz it

The Spritz. Less a drink, more a philosophy. There are way too...

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Diageo Special Releases 2019 – announced!


After 2018’s super-early april announcement of Diageo’s annual Special Releases collection surprised everyone, we’ve been wondering what they were up to this year. The radio silence has now been broken, and the first tidbits of information about the range of whiskies has now landed.

Don’t know what the Special Releases are? Learn all about them in our handy guide:  Diageo Special Releases – what are they?

Diageo Special Releases 2019: the line-up

This year’s collection will feature eight new cask-strength Scotch whiskies, and they’re all single malts this time.

The line-up is:

  • Cardhu 14 Years Old
  • Cragganmore 12 Years Old...

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Mojitos for National Mojito Day

In the big register of national drink days there are some that fall at strange times of year, but National Mojito Day (today – 11 juli) is right on the money: the days are hot and long, the humidity is occasionally teetering on the edge of rain and we are in need of a drink. While comparing a slightly uncomfortable London to Cuba’s capital Havana is majbe a step too far, it’s definitely time for a Mojito.

The origins of the Mojito

To start with, a Mojito is a mix of rum, lime, sugar and soda – a long and...

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20th Anniversary Signatory Exclusives – Happy Birthday to Us!

In april 1999, a single click of a mouse kicked off a new venture for Sukhinder and Rajbir Singh – they registered . Now, twenty years later, we’re the world’s largest online specialist spirits retailer and have two London shops , as well as two decades of stories . It’s time to celebrate.

To kick off the birthday festivities, we’ve bottled six single-cask whiskies with our friends at Signatory – who celebrated their 30th last year – to join a tasty range of exclusives that we’ve already released. They’re all available now from our website, and from both our...

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Empirical Spirits

When you go to a restaurant the food can have amazing flavours, evoke memories and make you feel a range of emotions, but it’s an experience for you alone. You can’t take it home and share it with your friends. But what if you could?

This was the question that was posed to me when I arrived at the Empirical Spirits distillery in Copenhagen. A bit of a maverick when it comes to spirits, and definitely a curator of well-named drinks, it is one of the most interesting distilleries I have come across in recent years, and its team has...

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The Geography of Rum

Or; Exploring Rum – X Marks the Tot

Given its hugely diverse nature – in terms of flavour, geography and production methods – rum has, over the years, proven notoriously difficult to classify, regulate and, most fundamentally, understand .

One of the ways in which we at The Whisky Exchange are trying to tackle these issues is with our brand-new rum classification , which aims to categorise different types of rum primarily by production method – much like has been done with Scotch whisky, e.g. single malt, single grain, blended, etc. – and secondarily by flavour, doing away as much...

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Foursquare Hereditas Rum – exclusive to The Whisky Exchange

It’s the summer of rum here at The Whisky Exchange. Our new rum classification is up and we’ve had a rum takeover on our website – there’s never been a better time to learn about and try new rums. However, there’s something missing: a special rum of our own to celebrate. No longer: introducing Foursquare Hereditas , exclusively bottled for The Whisky Exchange.


We’re big fans of Barbados’s Foursquare distillery. Distiller Richard Seale is a rum wizard and we’ve had his rums at The Whisky Exchange for as long as we’ve been able to get them in the UK....

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The Whisky Exchange Rum Classification

In the drinks world, there’s nothing quite so varied and versatile as rum. Drunk on its own, in punches, with Coke and ginger, or mixed up in cocktails from Daiquiris to Piña Coladas, the range of flavours and what you can do with it is massive. But there’s a big problem that’s been looming under the surface of the rum world for years, and it’s started to rear its ugly head as rum has begun to boom in popularity and drinkers have started looking at it more closely – how do you classify and describe rum?

A rainbow of colours...

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What kind of rum are you?


Historically, rum has been defined by its colour – white, golden and dark. Colour can be misleading though, and offers no real indication of character or flavour.

With the increase in popularity of rum and the sheer variety now on offer, we decided to totally reclassify rum so that discerning drinkers can know what they’re getting and where it comes from.

You can read about our new rum classifications  here , or – way more fun – you can take our excellent and educational quiz, below.


You’re out for brunch with some friends, and...

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Cognac vs Whisky – an eaux-de-ssey

Two of the world’s most historic and heritage-rich spirits, Scotch single Maltwhisky and Cognac , have evolved in distinct – and wildly different – directions. Equally, both have experienced oscillating levels of status and popularity across a number of centuries, starting out as an accessible product, becoming ‘premium’, and back again, and back again, et cetera.

In recent times though – it seems to me, at least – these two prodigious spirits have somewhat settled into their roles. Cognac has established itself, for the most part, as a high-end luxury, transcending even that accolade in places and developing a...

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