Forgive and Forget?

Taste Review # 135 Glen Keith / Jura Journey bottle kills.

If you are reading this then I’d say there is a fair to middling chance that each one of you don’t have much space for more whisky. Of course, this is a really stupid statement as there is always space for more whisky if you are a whisky enthusiast. (Enthusiast sounds much better than geek and infinitely better than alcoholic).

A recent tidy up of the open bottles found a few that were ready to be dispatched. Any decent open whisky gets kept in the study after a wee accident with a bottle of Yellow Submarine and its subsequent consumption by my wife and mother in law. For them it could have been Bells or Grants, they wouldn’t have been worried. Therefore now only bottles I’m not too bothered about stay in the side board. There’s a healthy component of older Wild Turkey at 86 and 101 proof, but also there is what I’d describe as shite whisky.

I was a bit late to stop a backlash from one individual on Twitter when I used this term to describe a bottle. I’m well aware that nobody deliberately makes a “shite” whisky; this is only my opinion of whisky that I have just not engaged with or have no connection to it at all. While this individual contested he’s never had a bad whisky, only some better than others, that sounds like a ploy to ensure he offends nobody and the freebies keep coming. Sometimes I prefer delivering much more direct feedback. Anyhoo, room in the shite corner is limited, so for something to move in, something has to move out. And to this end we’ve had to have a couple of bottle kills.

Number one on the chopping block was the Glen Keith distillery edition. This is a whisky that I’ve conflicted thoughts about. I have bought a bottle of this as I liked the packaging and never have had an OB Glen Keith at the time of purchase. It went to the back of the cupboard and eventually into store as my wife bought me a bottle as well. It was going to be opened to show gratitude, but to be honest I didn’t think much of it. See my initial appraisal here – Giving Keith A Kicking.

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Great hopes were admittedly foolish. But you never know…

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After three years open, had my thoughts changed? There is a good chance they might but is it right to expect much from a £20 whisky from the Co-op? My thoughts on this dram quickly saw it relegated to hot toddies or guests who knew no better. But something kept dragging me back to find something positive about it. I can’t explain why, as it was rougher than an Ardvaarks knackersack. However, after recently making a hot toddy to try and shift an enduring cold, I thought I’d drink some neat. And what a surprise that turned out to be.

Was it good? Not quite. Much more tolerable is closer to the mark. Still quite thin on the mouth and the spirit burn was a little out of balance to be kind, but the orchard fruit really came through. I got pears first and then the green sharp apple. It was a lot clearer than when I last took this dram neat about 2 years ago.

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Not long left…

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Glen Keith Distillery Edition

Region – Speyside Age – NAS Strength – 40% abv Colour – Bright Gold Cask Type – Not stated but likely Bourbon Colouring – Yes Chill Filtered – Yes Nose – Toffee, vanilla, orchard fruits, mostly pear but a hint of sharp green apple. Palate – Thin mouthfeel. Little spirit burn on arrival, more pears, caramel, slight custard and banana, vanilla Finish – Short, sharp and drying. More orchard fruit. Caramel and vanilla plus a faint whiff of smoke.

A lesson learned?

Most of you reading this will know that drams do change if left open to oxidise a little bit. I’m glad that I didn’t give up on this dram, as the time I spent with it in the dying days of the bottle were not bad. Not special, not memorable but it basically did it’s job as a relaxing alcoholic drink. You know it’s young whisky, low ABV, coloured and chill filtered, but it still served its purpose. I’m going to forgive it’s place in Shite Dram Corner, as it was never going to meet my expectations in terms of what a decent whisky is.

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Gone.

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The tipping point for this was smelling the glass the morning after. What a wonderful rich toffee smell. I raised this in my initial review and to me, the extra time spent in the bottle has only improved the nose, if not the palate. I was a bit of a junkie going back to the glass throughout the day for a sniff before I succumbed to loading the dishwasher. So this led to a greater effort to drink it and appreciate it more. I don’t know if I can say it gained more in my estimations but I felt happy I’d found more positive notes, resulting in a smidge of regret when the bottle kill happened. On to the next victim.

With one bottle out of the cabinet, it was now a bit easier to see another long term resident – my half bottle of Jura Journey. I really disliked this dram for a variety of reasons. The main one was that it has very little taste or mouthfeel. A slight spirit burn and a hint of whisky taste and that’s your lot. I’ve also written about this in the past – A road best less travelled. This may be a little bit of a harsh review but I’ve kept it live as it is a true representation of how I felt at the time.

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Going…

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In my outlook, you have to be fair when reviewing whisky and accept there are will be whiskies you just won’t like and some may take time in the bottle to oxidise and lose their sharp edges. Seeing as I did this with Glen Keith, it’s only fair I do this with Jura Journey.

I would write tasting notes for the dram again, but it’s impossible. There is definitely nothing redeemable about this dram. It firmly deserved its place in my collection of drams below par. There is just no hit to it at all. While I can accept that everybody needs a beginner whisky, this just wouldn’t be it. On social media I hear more up to date bottlings of Jura Journey are worse than before, which I struggle to believe. Honestly Whyte and Mackay, this is an edition that in my opinion is negatively affecting the Jura brand. I’ve had Jura that I’ve enjoyed enough to go out and buy a full bottle, but not this one.

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Going…

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Life is too short to be drinking poor whisky and this one has been opened long enough to know it won’t change. Time to just accept that it’s time for a one way journey – down the sink.

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Gone…

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In the greater scheme of things, both these drams are forgettable. While it’s nice to try different things, there are some clues that point to shite whisky straight away. Being on offer at the Co-op is a prime one. 40% whisky with no age stated is another when it’s on a supermarket shelf.

It isn’t so long ago that I was standing in the till queue in a local Co-op where somebody asked for a bottle of Jura Journey. I resisted the urge to tell him it wasn’t the best and for the same price or slightly above there were far better options, but I didn’t. You have to remember that somebody will like it, and that’s their personal taste and shouldn’t be mocked. For me, looking back on both these drams, being able to forgive, forget then move on is probably for the best. Make room in the cabinet for more deserving drams. There are thousands out there.

Yours In Spirits

Scotty

Index of tastings here

Index of articles here


Photo Credits

All Photos – Authors Own

Ain’t Going to Goa.

Taste Review #134 Paul John (TBWC Batch 2)

So, in this quick review, we name check an Alabama 3 song when we look towards the dram of the review. It’s a Paul John whisky released by That Boutique-y Whisky Company (TBWC). I felt that just reviewing one whisky from India wasn’t fair, considering the amount of the stuff they make. Thankfully only decent stuff makes it out of the country.

Well, it’s good news all around. I’m not having to go back to India for a wee while. The heat for somebody as pale skinned as I am is a little too much. Plus I’m fed up of eating curry.

Going to keep this one short and sweet, and therefore provide a link to the distillery website here and say that this was a brand which started releasing whisky under its own brand in 2012. Independent bottlers TBWC released this batch in 2016, which amounted to 173 bottles.

Paul John TBWC Batch 2

Region – India Age – 6 y.o Strength – 52.9% abv Colour – Russet Muscat (1.3) Cask Type – Not Known Colouring – Not Stated Chill Filtered – Not Stated Nose – Thick caramel, millionaires shortbread, green apple, slight salt and pepper. Hint of peat smoke. Palate – cooked orchard fruit. Apple, vanilla. Peppery, slight smoke, hint of chocolate Finish – medium long finish. Peppery spices, berry fruit and a whiff of peat smoke and iodine at the very end

Conclusions

Aye, pleasant stuff. If I was going to see this in a bar or a bottle going cheap at auction, I’d spring for it. Smokiness is well controlled and not overpowering for those who don’t like peated drams that much.

A decent introduction to a brand I haven’t tried before and would recommend you try if you haven’t already.

Yours in Spirits

Scotty

Index of tastings here

Index of articles here


Photo Credits

All Photos – Authors Own

The Power Of Negative Thinking

Why look up when you can look down?

A battle of the booze.

Some people just love negativity.

I hasten to add that I am fond of a bit of a black mood but in no way am I going to start becoming hypocritical for one second. Every silver lining has its cloud and so on and so on. However some sectors aren’t immune from using negative or incorrect statements to make themselves look better. As much as this pains me to say this, it has to stop.

I chose this topic because I’ve noticed a few things that made me sit up and think that something wasn’t quite right. If you are going to have a dismal outlook then it’s always better to have it based on fact or something quantifiable that you can show on why you’ve come to an assumption. It’s all very well making statements about whisky, but at least make it fair and be prepared on back it up.

I will say how this particular rant started by feeding back something that was passed onto me from one of my whisky brothers. This is person who I keep in contact to chew the fat, swap the odd sample and also just have a good old burst of negativity in private so I’m not so much a gurning git online. He had visited an Irish distillery where the person doing the tour had mentioned how Irish whisky had to be matured for 3 years yet Scotch only had to be matured for 2 years. This seems to be common amongst proponents of the Irish Whisky Industry where many mistruths are either intentionally or unintentionally propagated. The problem is that sometimes the falsehoods are believed by those who know no better and the erroneous statement keeps going.

Of course, unintentionally making an error is fine, and this can be corrected by education, but needs to be done ASAP. Even I’m not immune, haven fallen foul of misinformation myself with regards a couple of times, sometimes based on a certain year book or a flat capped vBlogger. Best make the correction and move on.

For some strange reason there is some sort of misconception I seem to be aware of, whether it’s anecdotal or something I have directly heard, I can’t remember but there is a tendency for some people supporting the Irish Whiskey industry to say things like “Scotch is peated and smokey, whereas Irish is smooth because we triple distill and they only double distill.” That is obviously a gross misrepresentation of the facts, as the majority of Scotch is not peaty and smokey and at least two distilleries triple distill and a few have utilised a partial triple distillation method.

Why say negative stuff like that? It’s a pretty poor show when you have to knock down another product just to make your own look better. My source revealed that Scotch gets mentioned at a few of the Irish distilleries he’s visited and not always in a positive light. Yet when I visit a Scottish distillery, I’ve yet to hear mention of Irish whiskey.

Yes, there is a difference between Irish and Scotch whisky due to the subtle difference in production. But for some, here is a newsflash – Irish whiskey has traditionally used peat in the past. Even the light and floral Speysiders did, as once upon a time the distilleries would have used the fuel available to them. I mean, how likely is it a nation that has nearly a fifth of its landmass covered by peat not use it as fuel? The Irish weren’t given the nickname ‘Bogtrotters’ because the lived on a land entirely of loamy soil.


Did somebody mention different soil types?” One brand that often gets unfair negativity, though we will skip on before the Dark Lord of terroir springs into life.

The Irish distilled whisky before the Scots. That’s a fact. However the Scots were the ones who where arguably to become more successful in a commercial sense with it – for now at least. That doesn’t make Scotch any better than Irish Whiskey either.

Reddit on Irish Whiskey use of peat

Here’s a thought. Why not just get on producing your whiskey without worrying what other distilleries are doing and just concentrate on making the best whiskey you can? The Irish scene is certainly flourishing now with new craft distilleries coming on line, so if you are wanting to get into Irish whisky now is the time. And a few are making peated spirit.

I’ve been doing an occasional series on different world whiskies. Not once have I compared them to Scotch. It just wouldn’t be fair as everything about them is different from barley sources and water sources, climate and production practices. Just take your whisky as you find it. Let the liquid do the talking and ignore preconceptions. I’ve found the whisky from Scotland’s historical foe to be quite good so far. That doesn’t bother me; all that matters is that I am enjoying what is in my glass. And yet it seems yet another Battle Royale could be in the making. A recent article was published in the Telegraph. The article is paywalled but you’ll get the drift. English Whisky Rivals Scotch

Might be more worthwhile listening if the author was a Wines And Spirits writer?

Anyway. To conclude the battle of whether Irish is better than Scotch, I decided to pitch two common blends against each other, one from each country. As Scotland has more whisky distilleries I thought I’d give the Irish a more fighting chance by allowing it a partner.

In the Red Corner we have Famous Grouse, the most popular blended whisky in Scotland. In the Blue Corner we have Jamesons and his companion Tullamore Dew. Let battle commence!

Famous Grouse

Famous Grouse. Not a lot to grouse about.

Region – Scottish Blend Age – NAS Strength – 40% Colour – Amber 0.7 Cask Type – N/A Colouring – Not stated Chill Filtered – Not Stated Nose – Malt, Buttery, Caramel, Werthers Originals, a hint of grain, Orange peel Palate – Quite sweet. Light to medium mouthfeel. Burst of alcohol burn on first sip but quickly subsides to leave flavours of malt, sultana, butterscotch, hint of ginger nuts and a very slight smokiness. Finish – Medium and pleasant. Malt continues with a slight drying in the mouth. Digestive biscuits with a suggestion of grain whisky

Jamesons Blended Irish

Jamesons

Region -Irish Blend Age – NAS Strength – 40% Colour -Deep Gold (0.8) Cask Type -N/A Colouring – Not stated Chill Filtered – Not Stated Nose – Sweet Malt, almost like a frosted breakfast cereal. Stone fruit, Apricot, tinned peaches, chocolate raisins. Palate – quite mild and approachable. Slightly oily mouthfeel with the grain components being immediately available. Sweet biscuity taste, a little spice from ginger and nutmeg. No strong burn, the sweetness reminds me of a candy that I can’t quite remember the name of. Almond also in there. Finish – Not that long and complex. The sweet components hang on in there. Nutty, candied almonds rings a bell, possibly the candy I was thinking of in the palate. A bit of grain remains with apricot in the finish and a hint of mint.

Tullamore D.E.W

Tullamore D.E.W. Why is it legendary? Maybe because this sample wasn’t great.

Region – Irish Blend Age – NAS Strength – 40% Colour – Pale Gold (0.3) Cask Type – N/A Colouring – Not stated Chill Filtered – Not stated Nose – Buttery biscuits, custard cream, honey Palate – Harsh alcohol, grains, Malt, vanilla, pink peppercorn spice, blackcurrants, slight citrus Finish – hot finish with more tannic spice, burning alcohol, drying, hint of lemon in the end.

Conclusions

Did Ireland beat Scotland? No. Not at all. It was like comparing oranges to a combine harvester. However in the battle of the blends, the Tullamore was like the mate who can’t fight trying to help you in a square go. Why is it legendary? Well perhaps to cut it down to brass tacks, is it because this bottle was totally pish. In its defence it was an old bottle and slightly evaporated but it only just missed going down the sink. As I drunk it while in quarantine in Colombo I was just grateful for the booze.

The Grouse had more body, the Jamesons was lighter and smoother, and to my palate was boring and bland. But that’s just me. It wasn’t bad, but wasn’t great either. The competition it faced was Grouse. Hardly the best in the world either.

While technically Scotland should win on points as Jameson was founded by a Scot, the true result is a draw. Just go where your palate takes you as the best whisky of the time is the one you enjoy the most. Be it Bourbon, Scots, Japanese, English, Welsh, Irish or even Icelandic, it really doesn’t matter.

Negativity has its place. Just not here.

Yours In Spirits

Scotty

Index of tastings here

Index of articles here


Photo Credits

All Photos – Authors Own

Night clubbing.

Taste Review #132 – Canadian Club 1858

What’s the first thing you think of when you think of Canada? I am going to guess whisky isn’t the first thing you would think of. For me, I just think of a country that has vast wildernesses, say “ay” at the end of sentences a lot, and are pretty laid back. Canada is a place I have worked in the past and I’ve really enjoyed being there. In 2002 I spent some time there while working on a drilling rig that wasn’t too far away from where the Titanic sank. I remember flying over the snow covered coast on a helicopter on the run in to Halifax airport watching people go across the landscape on skiddoos. I guess being in Canada looks a lot of fun with not a lot of people to get in your way outside of the cities.

Canadian Club is the first whisky I think of when I think of Canada. I realise there are others but I’m not particularly interested in Canadian spirits, but I felt them worth a try. The brand was started by Hiram Walker in 1858 and was originally known as Hiram Walker’s Club Whisky. It became popular and due to a change in American law which required foreign whisky to state the country of origin on the label, it eventually became known as Canadian Club.

As per usual, brands change hands, and Canadian Club is now owned by Beam Suntory. There isn’t really a lot to write about this whisky but I’ll say more later.

Canadian Club 1858


Region – Canada Age – NAS Strength – 40% Colour – Deep Copper (1.0) Cask Type – Not stated Colouring – Not stated Chill Filtered – Not stated Nose – sweet, corn, biscuits, caramel, vanilla. Palate – very light mouthfeel, watery. Woody, melon and apple juice, Tinned pears syrup Irn Bru spices – ginger and cinnamon combined. Fizz on the palate almost like a slightly flat soda water. Finish – a slight heat and fruity finish. Medium short and drying.



Conclusions

There were a fact or two I discovered about Canadian Club. I didn’t realise this is the only North American whisky to gain a Royal Warrant. Not just one – Queen Victoria, Kings Edward VII, George V and George VI plus even Elizabeth II have given this whisky their blessing. They must have been using laudanum as their mixer I presume. I have to say that I was hoping this would be a smooth drink that would take me to a gentleman’s club with wood panelling filled with chesterfield sofas with a light whiff of cigar smoke in the background. I’m afraid to tell you that I was massively disappointed in that this whiskey did absolutely nothing for me at all. It was almost as though I was drinking a watered down drink. But this a chance a seasoned whisky drinker takes when they go back to basics then there just isn’t enough there to entertain them. It was as though I wasn’t drinking a whisky at all, but a flavouring used in food.

The other fact (and this is highly dubious) is that according to Tesco, Canadian Club is the only recognised Canadian whisky in the UK. I suspect this is not true. This ignores Crown Royal altogether.


Maybe not true..

Canadian Club 1858 is sold in Australia and New Zealand at 37% abv. God knows why, as this is a whisky that isn’t going to blow anybodies head off. Speaking of heads, I sort of wanted to start with some sort of questionable humour about when I think of Canadians and clubs, I also include baby seals in that thought. But due to the lack of kick in this whisky, that’s the only sore head that anybody will be getting with a Canadian Club. Of course, this assumes you all drink responsibly. Of course you do.

But to be fair, this isn’t a completely bad whisky; I could enjoy this as a very light refreshment in a cocktail but as a straight drink it just doesn’t work for me. New whisky drinkers may enjoy it, so it isn’t to be a total write off. Every drink has its place and this is far from the bottom of the pile.

Scotty

Index of tastings here

Index of articles here


Photo Credits

All Photos – Authors Own

(screen grab from Tesco.com)

Bringing Home The Bacon.

Taste Review #131 – Stauning Rye Whisky – Floor Malted and Mezcal Finish.

Once again I find myself looking at another world whisky as I endeavour to try whisky other than my preferred option of Scotch. And this time the pin in the map has landed on Denmark. Its not a country you really associate with whisky production but believe it or not there are a handful of distilleries in Denmark. It’s something that I have never tried before, so it was on my list to try for some time.

At one time I used to do tastings at a hotel my wife used to run, with one of the best customers was a Dane called Ulrik. It was he that introduced me to the fact that Denmark had a burgeoning whisky scene. According to the Malt Whisky Yearbook there are 16 whisky distilleries within Denmark, which came as a surprise to me. And here is me thinking that all Denmark was famous for was Danepak Bacon and the delicious butter cookies we often get offshore. I guess there is a reason for the Danish nation topping polls of who is the happiest nation. With biscuits, bacon and whisky. That is a country that has a lot going for it!



The Stauning distillery was founded in 2005 by nine friends and had a somewhat unconventional beginning. While it was quite normal to source your barley from somebody locally, perhaps the fact (according to the distillery website) they malted on a butchers cold room floor and used an old mincer as a grinder to make their grist. However it wasn’t until 2011 that the first commercial bottlings were released. There is absolutely no point in me telling you things you can read for yourself, so please take a look at their website at stauningwhisky.com

Stauning Floor Malted Rye


Region – Denmark (Rye) Age – NAS Strength – 48% Colour – Burnished (1.1) Cask Type – New American Oak Colouring – No Chill Filtered – No Nose– Lime zest, Rye bread, malt, honey, fruit jelly candies, freshly crushed black peppercorns, Palate – Sweet and subdued with an oily mouthfeel, for me the taste is dominated by peppery oak, there is a hint of cherries and blackberries / Forest fruits, but not as sharp as a a raspberry. Finish – medium and drying – peppery oak and citrus peels. I get a taste of sour beer at the end as well. Adding water really balanced out the peppery oak in the palate and made the citrus sour taste in the finish more prominent and pleasant.

Stauning Bastard


Region – Denmark Age – NAS Strength – 46.3% Colour – Burnished (1.1) Cask Type – American Oak with 6 months Mezcal Finish Colouring – No Chill Filtered – No Nose – Honey, Rye cereal notes, smokiness like toast crusts, Apple, strawberries, quite fruity under the grain and honey notes. Saline note also Palate – Medium body. No real spirit burn on arrival. Oaky, spicy, drying. Ginger, dry well fired toast gives a slight smokey note. Brown sugar. Finish – Spicy and hot on the way down. Quite a surprise given the lack of a spirit burn in the mouth. The finish is quite short and addition of water doesn’t do that much for the heat. Dry finish, brine, oaky spice ending in a brown sugar note.

Conclusions

I felt that the floor malting version slightly unbalanced with the peppery oak on arrival, but having added only a few drops of water from the pipette, this steadied the ship a lot more and it became a decent dram much to my liking. While I wouldn’t rush out to buy it, this would be happlily received as a gift, and should I know somebody who appreciates a rye whisky, I’d consider recommending it or giving as a gift. I do not know the age of this whisky. I would recommend this to people who want to experiment and try Danish spirits.

Given there was quite a gap between publishing this post and it’s writing, within this time I received a wee dram from one of the page followers of some Stauning Rye. It’s a bonus that I’ll enjoy this whisky straight away as I’ll know to add water to it.

The Bastard whisky? Well, it was an expletive that I nearly expressed when I swallowed for the first time. There was a sudden burst of heat that was unexpected given the lack of spirit tingle on the tongue while I held it in my mouth. This has been in a new American Oak cask for three years prior to a six month spell in a Mezcal cask. As I have never tasted Mezcal, I can’t say for definite if I could identify it, but I wonder if the sudden spirit burn was as a result of this. To counter that unpleasant spirit burn, I had to add a good dose of water to the glass. It then became a lot more drinkable but to be honest I wouldn’t recommend it. I think I’ll just stick to the Danish butter cookies and bacon in the future rather than have this again.

It wasn’t so long ago that I have tried a rye whisky that was similar, in that it needed water to become more palatable. Due to my relative inexperience of such grains in whisky compared to malted barley, it’s hard for me to say if this is just a general rye characteristic or if it’s just my personal preference. it’s worth noting that these two whiskies also have malted barley in the mash bill, meaning it’s not all the fault of the rye. I’m going to guess it’s just my preferences that may be why I’ve felt that these whiskies need water.

As for Stauning? I’d certainly be looking at more of their produce in the future, but will have the water on standby.

Yours In Spirits

Scotty

Index of tastings here

Index of articles here


Photo Credits

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Don’t Mention The War!

Taste Review #130 – TBWC – Slyrs Batch 3

What is the first thing you think of when you think of the Germans?

It’s unfortunate that most people think of the Second World War, but Germany is much more than that. You can’t tar them all with the same brush because one Austrian goes mental and tries to take over Europe. I’ve just finished working with a German supervisor and on the one night we had nothing to do, it was suggested that we watch a movie. I had asked my colleague what he fancied watching, adding “I bet you don’t want to watch a war movie!” I was right. I followed it up a couple of days later by replying when asked what was happening that day “I don’t know – I was thinking of invading Poland.” Yes, the Germans aren’t known for their sense of humour, but this is a mistaken stereotype. So is the idea that Germans don’t have a word for fluffy; they just don’t use it much.

I like Germany. Nearly every German I’ve met has been very friendly and extremely hospitable. The country has many really beautiful sights and it’s unfortunate that many fixate on something that happened in the last century. It truly is worth going out and about and seeing what surprises Germany has to offer.


Less than an hour south of Munich. On the autobahn to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Makes the Cairngorms look like molehills.

You might also be amazed to find out that Germany has more distilleries than the UK. It surprised me to find out that Germany has some 29,000 distilleries. Most of these distilleries produce fruit spirits, but they surprisingly have more whisky distilleries than Scotland. There are up to 800 dealing with whisky in Germany, far surpassing the Scottish total, though according to deutschland.de, 130 of these are expressly whisky distilleries, slightly short of the Scottish number.

I’ve always been tempted to try whisky made in Germany, but haven’t been able to get a full sized bottle, as well as not wanting to risk the money on something I may not like without trying first. Thankfully Drinks By The Dram have come to the rescue and I’ve been able to get a mini of German whisky, this being from the Slyrs Distillery and bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Company.

The Slyrs Distillery is based in Bavaria, to the south east of Munich in a town called Schliersee Neuhaus, and is owned by the Stetter family who have a connection to the Lantenhammer distillery to the north in Hausham. This is due to the marriage of Anneliese Lantenhammer and Sigfried Stetter. It was their son, Florian Stetter who founded the Slyrs distillery. He had joined the Lantenhammer distillery in 1985. The distillery made brandy, but it was during a study trip to Scotland in 1994, had noticed similarities with his home in Bavaria – Mountains, fresh spring water and clean air. He felt that it would be possible to produce a whisky in Bavaria.

Florian had bet his friends a crate of beer that he could distill a Bavarian whisky and by 1999 his dream had been realised and the first whisky had been distilled. The result was a release of 1600 bottles of whisky in 2002. It wasn’t until 2007 that the Slyrs distillery was completed and a mountain store warehouse was completed on Mount Stümpfling.

Nobody I know personally has tried a German whisky, other than people I have met online through my blog and social media interactions, so I thought it best to just go ahead and try for myself.



TBWC Slyrs Batch 3

Region – Germany Age -3 y.o Strength – 52.6% Colour – Russet (1.3) Cask Type -American Oak, Crocodile char Colouring – No Chill Filtered – No Nose – Apricot jam, vanilla, fresh croissants, mandarin peel, coconut. Palate – Sweet arrival, honey, coconut, butterscotch, orchard fruit – possibly pear slightly nutty note too. Finish – Still a bit sweet but hot on departure. Honey with peppery heat, Sichuan peppers possibly. Sense a wee bit of the char coming through. Honey



Conclusions

I have to say that I have enjoyed this whisky. Despite being at what I suspect is an undiluted cask strength, it was an extremely easy drinker. It was on the fruity side with a funk to the nose, but sweetness continued throughout the dram, with various flavours coming through, with no note particularly overpowering any other.

There was a bit of heat that started in the mid palate which continued through to the finish and didn’t overpower the sweetness. All in all quite pleasant. Water subdued the heat a bit and allowed the honey to show on the finish which was of mid to long length.

This is still available at the Master of Malt Website for £74.95. I won’t be buying one right now, but would recommend if anybody was thinking of trying a German whisky, then this is one I’d recommend to try. It won’t be around forever, as only 395 bottles were produced, but I’d imagine TBWC will have more casks in waiting. If you want to dip your toe in before you commit to a whole bottle, 3cl samples are available for £6.90.

Yours In Spirits.

Scotty

Index of tastings here

Index of articles here


Photo Credits

All Photos – Authors Own

Not Double Dutch; it’s Single

Taste Review #129 – Millstone 6 (TBWC)

The next world whisky in my sights is a bottling from the Netherlands. It’s not a country that you’d instantly associate with whisky distilling, but why not? After all, the busy wee cloggies aren’t just keeping their fingers in Dykes, chasing mice in windmills and making large red round cheeses. They distill a plenty considering all the genever and gin they make, so why not whisky?

I’m not the world’s biggest gin fan, and the only Dutch drink I miss is Advocaat, that having been a regular drink for the underage drinker at Grandmas every new year coupled with lemonade to make a snowball. Yummy! I notice a few of you on social media were enjoying a snowball or two at the time I was drafting this, so perhaps it’s coming back in fashion.

The sample I have to try today is a Millstone 6 y.o whisky. The Zuidam distillery was started in 1975 and is one of the few independent distillers in the Netherlands. The malted barley is milled by windmills, which is pretty cool and traditional. I was gifted this sample by SmileySmoggy, a fellow member of the Whisky Twitterati.



Millstone 6 y.o (TBWC)

Region – Netherlands Age – 6 y.o Strength – 48.9% abv Colour – Russet Muscat (1.3) Cask Type – Not Stated Colouring -Not Stated Chill Filtered – No Nose – Coffee, Chocolate, Red Apple, caramel, slight hint of liquorice. A floral note is present but I can’t place it. Palate – Quite creamy and peppery, orange peel with cloves, slightly sweet but spicy. Medium mouthfeel Finish – Quite long, spicy. Peppery and sweet. Slightly drying towards the end. With water, there was a continuation of the chocolate theme, but for me water really shortened the finish.



Conclusions

I like the Dutch. While they can appear arrogant, (and sadly some of them are, but us Brits can’t throw stones in that greenhouse) the vast majority of them are really open and friendly as well as being direct. You always tend to know where you are with the Dutch. They also have some awesome food, even just the basic French fries and mayonnaise based saus. Don’t get me started on the food that has come from their imperial conquests in the Far East such as Loempia and Nasi Goering or other street favourites such as shawarma and Frikandel sausage with the sweet curry ketchup. If you haven’t tried these things then you need to.

That’s the same with Millstone. It wasn’t the same style as I am more used to, but it grew on me. I would recommend you try some if you see it on the shelf. It wouldn’t be a go-to whisky for me, but I’d be delighted to receive it as a gift and would drink again.

The only downside is that the That Boutique-y Whisky Company only bottle in 50cl size. This RRP of £54.95 I feel pushes the sense of value, so it wouldn’t be a regular purchase should I be tempted.

Yours In Spirits

Scotty

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Going Green.

Taste Review #128 – Mackmyra Grönt Te

Being different. Sometimes it might not be better but it may be right. It’s a topic often discussed amongst my offshore colleagues. At the moment many of us are burnt out due to longer offshore trips, often leaving home without knowing when you will see your loved ones again. Regularly trips are over 2 months, which quashes the image of the typical offshore worker doing 2 weeks on a cushy North Sea platform before coming home to get smashed in the Spiders Web and causing havoc on the train to Elgin. The boat I am on now is running out of fresh water, salad is but a memory and the only fruit available will soon be of the tinned variety. I am sure those in the armed services will have similar experiences. At least I’m not getting shot at. Well, at least not yet.

And there are the little things that you often take for granted that get missed. Good internet is one of them – seeing trees, listening to bird song, home cooked food, being able to watch the TV you want to, going out for a pint or just something as basic as decent toilet paper. The stuff used offshore that is suitable for vacuum toilets is cheap, nasty and if you have piles then you may need to ensure you bring on plenty of Anusol or Preparation H.

Offshore Toilet Paper. Better than sandpaper – only just, and high risk of finger poke-through.

Stocking up is the thing to do when working away from home, especially when it comes to the quarantine required before you go offshore. I’m limited to what I can carry. I like carrying those wee Robinson’s Squeezy concentrated squash, packs of chilli coated peanuts and various sweeties that I can’t get offshore. Depending on where I end up going I often bring around 6 packs of Taylor’s of Harrogate Coffee (Lava Java being a favourite) and some green tea.

Twinings do a great range of flavoured green teas, with the Lemon Drizzle Cake, Gingerbread and Cherry Bakewell being my favourites. The aroma of the green tea always reminds me of moist sponge cake. It is different, yet some of the teas snobs I work with turn their noses up at it. But how does Green Tea whisky work? Is it not better but different? Can it be both?

I wonder if Twinings will ever do a Swedish Whisky Green Tea? We can but hope.

The dram that I bring you for this review has been sold out in most places for a while. Thanks to my myopic concentration on Scotch, I don’t always pay attention to whisky outside that scene. However this is a release of a whisky that had been matured in a selection of ex bourbon 1st fill, 1st fill Swedish Oak, plus new and 1st fill Oloroso casks. These have then been vatted and finished in newly seasoned sherry casks that had been filled with Oloroso sherry and green tea seasoning, rather than whole leaf tea. This triggered my inner inquisitiveness and I’ve been drawn to it for some time. However as this was the 2020 seasonal release for Mackmyra, I never managed to get a bottle, though I felt I had to try it as another trip on my whisky journey. I mean, whisky and tea – what could go wrong?

Grönt Te. Swedish for tasty.

Mackmyra Grönt Te

Region – Sweden Age – NAS Strength – 46.1% ABV Colour – Amber (0.7) Cask Type – Oloroso / Green Tea cask finishing cask Colouring – No Chill Filtered – No Nose – Green Apple, Watermelon, white pepper, green tea, sultana, slight nougat, vanilla, floral and sweet biscuity notes. Palate – Quite sweet initially, with red berry notes, green apples, well controlled spicy and slightly drying tannins, cloves, peppery. And more green tea. Finish – short / medium. Earthy notes, fruity and sweet, slightly drying with the ubiquitous green tea taste. Finish had a bit more kick when water added and I detect more spice (firey ginger and pepper) which isn’t overpowering.

The Dram

Conclusions

Was this different any better? No. It was not any better than any contemporary whisky. However, it was certainly different and a very pleasant experience that I would happily repeat. The green tea effect I felt was light and subdued, yet still noticeable. I felt it was well balanced and any more green tea taste may have led the whisky to be off-kilter to my taste.

I felt it had a fresh, refreshing palate, almost equivalent to a decent cuppa, but while I’d happily have it again, it won’t replace any of the staples in my drinks cabinet for now.

And that is probably for the best, as this was a limited release, so if you were wanting to try this then auction houses are your best bet. At an original release price of £59.90 in the UK on the Mackmyra web shop, the closer you can get to this price the better. At 46.1% abv this represents good but maybe not great value for the experience depending on your opinion.

If nothing else, now I know Sweden is good for more than Abba, Volvo cars, meatballs and flat pack furniture. I feel it will benefit you to consider paying attention to the produce of Mackmyra; I certainly will be doing so now.

Yours In Spirits

Scotty

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Tap Water Triumph

Taste Review #127 – Bimber Oloroso Batch 4

Once again it is time for a speed review of some whisky that I don’t have time to properly do a full article for. I’m going to stick solely to the facts.

Bimber is a relatively new distillery based in London. It was founded by Dariusz Plazewski in 2005 and takes its name from the Polish word for moonshine. As I have Polish family, I’ve tasted plenty of home made liqueurs, most of them will blow your socks off, and none have had the abv tested. While they don’t make the base spirit, they purchase a neutral spirit at 94.5% and work from there. I only found out the potential strength of some of the hooch I’d been given when during my last stay with my mother-in-law I found an empty bottle of said spirit. That will explain why one of my wedding guests pretty much knocked himself out drinking the liqueur that was put in decanters on each table!

It is one of those sayings that when you drink tap water in London, it’s already been through 5 people before you. I am not so sure how true this is, but Bimber is made with water from public supply. While it will not have the minerals of a gushing mountain stream from the Highlands where many distilleries only have to filter their water for particulates and UV treat it, the Bimber water must be of a good enough quality. And when you think that in the process, the water gets boiled pretty much more than once, I doubt you will have to worry if the male population of London suddenly take a massive passion for eating asparagus.

I don’t have much time to write much more so I’m going to crack on with tasting this dram.

Bimber Oloroso cask Batch 4

Region – English Age – NAS Strength – 51.2% abv Colour – Amontillado Sherry (0.9) Cask Type – Bourbon / Oloroso Butt Colouring – No Chill Filtered – No Nose – Malty, dusty hay barn, raisins, creamy vanilla, red apple, lemon, hint of ginger nuts. Palate – spirit burn on arrival, creamy milk chocolate, blackberry preserve, dried fruit, sweet, medium body. Adding water releases more nutty note, a waxy walnut. Finish – Short – medium length of finish. Velvety warming spices, cinnamon, ginger, sweet sherry departure. Water calms down the spices on the finish and adds an almond nougat. The last sip gave me chocolate caramel

Conclusions

This was wonderful. I have to say it was an instant like and no wonder Bimber is hard to get. This was my first experience of Bimber Whisky, and I have to give this a massive thumbs up. Who cares about where their water comes from? They source all their barley from one farm, so were a Single Farm distillery long before many others who now claim the same thing.

Only 975 bottles of this were released, and seeing as Bimber is often harder to obtain than unicorn farts, if you see one, grab it. Just don’t over pay at auction.

English whisky may have some way to go to catch up to Scotch, but this one is definitely a contender.

Yours In Spirits

Scotty

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The English Deliver(ance).

Taste Review #126 – The Original (English Whisky Co.)

What are the things you most associate with Norfolk? No hills, tons of tractors and combine harvesters holding up traffic, the Norfolk Broads and quite possibly inbreeding. You city slickers should watch Deliverance before you take a boat trip on the Broads! Have you ever heard the joke about how you know when you are at a Norfolk wedding? Both families are at the same side of the church.


If you hear somebody say that you’ve got a pretty mouth, then run!

Of course, I jest, and I think that I’m entitled to, as my own father hails from a village on the Broads just outside Great Yarmouth, so I know the truth about the area. I hope I don’t need all 12 fingers to count how many people I’ve just potentially offended.

No, the one thing that you don’t really associate Norfolk with is whisky. This should change. England is starting to blossom with whisky distilleries and the first one I became aware of was the St Georges Distillery in Norfolk, located north east of Thetford. This was the first distillery to produce whisky in over 100 years in England. The distillery started production in 2006.


St Georges Distillery (Evelyn Simak)

The distillery while modern has been built in a building that is reminiscent of traditional agricultural style of East Anglia. It houses only two stills, which had to be at least 1800 litres in capacity due to constraints issued by custom and excise. This is larger than many stills at some of the smaller distilleries in Scotland.

When perusing for world whisky samples, this one came up. I’d already purchased a Bimber but I felt it important to try a whisky from the oldest whisky distillery currently operating in England.



The English – Original

Region – England Age – NAS Strength – 43% abv Colour – Old Gold (0.6) Cask Type – ex Bourbon Colouring – No Chill Filtered – No Nose – Light malt, grass, banana, mango, vanilla ice cream, hazelnut. Palate – a nice syrupy mouth feel. Sweet, malt, vanilla, orange, mango, nutmeg, light wood spices but nothing overpowering. Finish – medium but satisfying. Still a good mouthfeel, like after eating a chewy sweet. Nutty and fades into a milky chocolate orange.


The dram

Conclusions

Going to keep it short but sweet here. It’s a thumbs up. While I really liked this whisky, it was mainly for its easy going nature, sort of like a Broads cruise on a motorboat. I didn’t find it complex, but it was a pleasure to sip and relax with. The English distillery has certainly delivered here.

I would recommend and I’d probably buy if I saw it in a shop, but I feel this has mostly served it’s purpose as a gateway into the produce of the St George’s Distillery, therefore I’m likely to seek out the more sherried whiskies if I follow my usual form.

Yours In Spirits

Scotty

Index of tastings here

Index of articles here


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