Taste Review #140 – Milk & Honey Apex (Dead Sea Aged)
You couldn’t get a much more appropriate title for this review, but I’d like to heavily stress that this does not refer to what I thought of the the whisky that I’ll be having later. For this whisky has been at least partially matured by the Dead Sea, the lowest place on dry land throughout the planet. Plus, (and somewhat unusually) I’ve a story to tell for this world whisky review.
I’ve been to Israel twice for work purposes, the first time was for the recovery of a two seat F16 jet that had crashed into the Mediterranean Ocean. That was certainly dead in the water. Come to think of it, for the more observant of you may notice a lot of my blogs are entitled with a musical theme. The David Gray song “Dead In The Water” was banned in many ROV control rooms as the more superstitious amongst us reckoned it was likely to induce breakdown as soon as the machinery got wet. You’d go to the music hard drive, and in some cases find the song deleted from the folder. Personally I’d be just as happy if all of David Gray’s depressing music was deleted.
The fighter that we recovered in the late 1990’s had suffered an engine failure. Thankfully the crew had ejected and the aircraft had hit the water and fell another 800m to the seabed. This was on the very limits of our equipment, and we were crossing fingers that there wouldn’t be a catastrophic leak into our electrics. I remember the water being so clear, with lights being visible up to 100m deep; in the North Sea it’s lucky to see lights much more than 30m down.
As you may imagine, there wasn’t a lot of the aircraft left. The engine was the main part that was needed for the investigation and whatever else we could recover. As a small aircraft like an F-16 was spread out over an area 250m x 250m, this was a tall task, but in the end we managed to recover about 50% of the aircraft, due to it being held together by the cabling.
In the days when I had a ‘real’ job, I trained in avionics, so was pretty keen to see if I could get a memento from the wreckage of something I could identify. When I asked the military person on board if I could have something from the aircraft, I was told it would be not a problem. Most of both cockpits had come up, again mostly held together by wires, though I knew what I was looking for. Piece by piece I was then told I couldn’t have, due to it being needed in the investigation or was top secret. In the end, a yellow handle stood out and I grabbed it. This got the green light from the Air Force, and it turned out that I got a panel that had held the Canopy Jettison handle.
So, with that bird dead in the water, we turn to the Dead Sea. I’ve never been there, but I’m quite sure that there isn’t a lot of life in it given that it’s about 9 times saltier than normal seawater. Being so dense, if you are scared of learning to swim it would be the perfect place as it’s not easy to sink. Even normal salt water gives a massive increase to buoyancy over fresh water. One of my colleagues trimmed an ROV in a fresh water lagoon once; he had a pretty red face out at sea when we were trying to get the thing to sink!
With such a salty environment, I’m banking on plenty of brine notes, but let’s see what happens.
Milk & Honey Apex (Dead Sea Aged)
Region – Israel Age – NAS but 3y.o going by dates on bottle Strength – 56.2% abv Colour – Chestnut Oloroso (1.2) Cask Type – Red Wine / Bourbon / STR Colouring – No Chill Filtered – No. Nose – Vanilla, oak, mint, chocolate, marmalade. Palate – slightly oily mouth feel. Spicy but not aggressively so. Vanilla, caramel, cinnamon, chocolate, slightly tannic, orange citrus, possibly something fruity and creamy in there as well – banana? Finish – medium finish. Pleasantly light but there is a slight sour note there, a bit like the last dregs of an IPA. Cinnamon, honey and a hint of brine.
Never got the expected large amounts of brine although there was brine present in the finish. Nice enough but not enough going on for me to engage with a whisky that costs £105 a bottle. Sample cost me £9.25, which is saltier than the Dead Sea. If you can see the past the current uniqueness of where the spirit has been matured, and have the means to spend on this whisky, I wouldn’t imagine that you’ll be disappointed, but I also doubt you are going to be wowed on the basis of value if you are counting your pennies. You can get a lot more for a lot less by drinking an independently bottled, cask strength Scotch. But that’s just my opinion, others may disagree. I don’t want to dismiss this whisky completely, but didn’t really engage my palate to justify seeking out a bottle.
Perhaps there is a difference with maturation occurring a lot quicker in a hotter climate compared to northwestern distillates, with the cask maybe not passing on the brine quick enough. That I don’t know.
I would say that the produce of the Milk And Honey distillery have my attention and I’d love to try other samples should I come across them. However I won’t be seeking them out.
L’Chayim! / Yours In Spirits
All Photos – Authors Own EXCEPT – F16D, – Georgios Pazios