Britain, Brexit & The Lost Art Of Ordering Via Amazon.co.uk.

Happily receiving amazon.co.uk vouchers over the festive season I rushed to place some orders in the hopes they’d get through before Brexit kicked in.

Many Irish based whiskey fans use UK online sites to source product not normally available in Ireland & there had been warnings this could be in jeopardy after Britain left the EU.

My orders would test this new reality.

A few choices were simply rejected.

The computer says no! c/oamazon

So my search narrowed from the start.

A mixed bag of affordable spirits eventually made my basket.

Jatt Life Irish Whiskey

Jatt Life Irish Whiskey c/oMasterOfMalt

One of many sourced Irish Whiskey brands that exist totally outside of Ireland. This one appears to focus on the Asian market.

Mezcales De Leyenda

Mezcal triple pack c/oBlackwell’s

An attractive Mezcal triple pack to continue my appreciation of this alluring spirit.

Abasolo Whisky

Abasolo c/oMasterOfMalt

Mexico’s foray into whisky excited me.

English Park Whisky

English Park c/oWinestyle

A Czech distillery marketing a Union Jack clad whisky in the UK amused me for the sheer ‘we spotted a market & we’ll fill it’ opportunity.

A few books made up the remainder & I sat back to await developments.

Within a week Jatt Life cancelled.

Cancel 1

Within a fortnight the books & English Park arrived.

Sadly English Park was broken – but a replacement arrived swiftly.

Oops v Yeah c/othewhiskeynut

Then both the Mezcal & Abasolo – coming from the same supplier – cancelled as well.

Cancel 2 & 3

And that was it!

Ordering spirits from the UK is effectively closed.

Will Irish suppliers step up to provide an extended range?

Will former UK based operations set up in Ireland?

Or do the costs & market size just not stack up?

Whatever happens it appears the diversity of choice just got smaller & all that was solid melted into air.

Thank you Brexit.

Sláinte

Header image courtesy abcnews.

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Spirit Labelling – What is to be done?

A recent twitter spat got me thinking.

It centred on Rum – but applies to all categories.

White Rum c/othewhiskeynut

Labelling.

One train of thought is the more information the better.

Sounds reasonable.

But every time the issue arises a chorus of similar phrases crop up.

‘Lying’, ‘cheating’ & ‘out to gouge us’.

Paints a rather paranoid & fearful picture of those big bad spirit manufactures & regulatory regimes that conspire to outwit us – into buying a liquid we enjoy drinking??

151 Proof Rum c/othewhiskeynut

Just don’t buy the stuff if you’re that worried.

Spirit manufacturing is a highly regulated, highly legislated industry – regardless of country of origin.

A whole raft of rules & standards have to be adhered to before any product reaches market – one of the most important being that it’s fit for human consumption – and anyone who doubts that clearly has no faith in those measures – nor the manufacturers.

Aged Rum c/othewhiskeynut

So why would additional labelling provided by those very same bodies make any difference if you don’t trust them anyway?

The other train of thought is simply the taste test.

It’s called blind tasting – & I’m a fierce big proponent of it.

Many spirit competitions are conducted using this method and it’s the most honest & transparent system there is.

Blind tasting c/othewhiskeynut

You are presented with a line of identical bottles stripped of branding, fancy presentation & flowery prose extolling the virtues of the liquid within.

I trust my palate to decide in such situations whether I enjoy the spirit or not.

And I also trust the regulatory systems in place that the spirit before me is safe to consume & is what it says it is.

If you want more information then buy from manufacturers that provide it – but don’t make out those that show the minimum legal requirements are somehow ‘cheating’ you. They will taste just as good – or bad – as those with with the complete works of Shakespeare attached.

There is one proviso though.

Make sure any information provided is accurate.

Unlike the manufacturer below.

A 50 year old whiskey? c/othewhiskeynut

Bow St Distillery closed in 1971.

Sláinte

Admiral’s Cask, Premium Panama Rum, 40%

An attractive barrel shaped presentation caught my eye.

Roll Out The Barrel! c/othewhiskeynut

Premium Panama Rum – Cask Aged.

What’s not to like?

Pours a rich deep brown.

Lovely pour. c/othewhiskeynut

Viscous legs coat the glass.

Sweet golden caramels with a hint of oaky tannins on the aroma.

An easy going demerara style palate greets me with a lovely flourish of lip smacking spice on the finish.

Label info c/othewhiskeynut

Yo ho ho and a barrel of rum!

Sláinte

Emanates from Old St Andrews Fine Spirits – creators of the Golf Ball Whisky reviewed earlier.

Blind Tasting Whisky – A Failed Marriage, Supermarket Special & Setting Sun.

Sometimes it’s the unexpected whisky selection that gets you.

A trio of samples were sent for my enjoyment.

They were tasted blind & the notes in italics were written before the reveal.

In order of preference they were:

Happy Marriage?

A Bell’s Decanter, HRH Prince Andrew & Miss Sarah Ferguson’s Wedding, 1986, Blend, 43%

The nose had a bit of fustiness – damp old leather – suggesting signs of decay. Nice & easy body with some warmth & an attractive bite. Leaves a touch of sweet spice & juiciness.

Aldi finest?

B Glen Marnoch Speyside Single Malt 12 Year Old, 40%

Soft clean & fresh. Sherry influence? Found this one sweeter with less body. Faded quickly.

Setting sun?

C Suntory Old Whisky, Blend, 43%

Not much on the nose or body – but livened up with a long finish & touch of spice.

Thoughts

I can’t say any grabbed me. All were enjoyable & relatively easy on the palate – but just lacked character & oomph.

Post Reveal

Well that was a bit of a surprise!

Is the decay within the Bell’s Decanter an allegory for Prince Andrew’s paedophilia scandal?

Celebrity whisky pairings are always fraught with the rise & fall of the individuals involved & despite coming out best in the tasting – this one has fallen pretty far.

Glen Marnoch just pipped 2nd for the initial freshness which left Suntory trailing with it’s just too soft & easy approach.

If you want to get involved in some blind tasting fun – get in touch – you never know what you may find!

Sláinte

Many thanks to Sean for the samples & images.

What Price Whiskey Flavour? – 2 Dundalgans & a Teeling, Beer Barrel Aged Whiskey, 42% to 46%.

There’s been a sprinkling of articles questioning the price of whiskey.

Rant And Whisky, – Whisky And WisdomDairiesOfADramMerchant.

If cost is an issue – look around!

There are an increasing amount of attractively affordable alternatives available.

Lidl Ireland whiskey choices 2020 c/othewhiskeynut

The Dundalgan range from Lidl is one example.

Comprising of 5 bottles – none above €26 – displaying a broad array of styles & finishes, I’d suggest there’s something to suit all palates.

Having tried the entry level blend – & the entertaining IPA finished single malt – I grabbed the opportunity to sample more in a trio of beer barrel aged whiskey tasting.

Dundalgan IPA c/othewhiskeynut

Dundalgan IPA Cask Single Malt, 42%

A light, fruity & summery style of malt full of attractive flavours & a touch of character too.

Nice easy drinking.

Dundalgan Stout c/othewhiskeynut

Dundalgan Stout Cask Single Malt, 42%

A more solid, rich & heavy malt feel about this one. Very engaging – very moreish.

Lovely.

Teeling Stout c/othewhiskeynut

Teeling Galway Bay Stout Cask, Blend, 46%

The delightful bouquet of aromas from nosing were slightly diminished on drinking by the sweet grainy influence. A lighter offering with contrasting deeper notes & a prickly finish.

Very refreshing.

Thoughts

Overall – Dundalgan Stout Cask won the day.

Considering one Teeling costs around two Dundalgans – what price are you prepared to pay for flavour?

Sláinte

Fubá Cachaca, 40%

Hand crafted in small batches‘ it says on the bottle.

Small Batch Brazil c/othewhiskeynut

Clear colourless unaged cachaca from Brazil.

Quite a pronounced sugarcane grassiness on the nose.

Easy & oily mouthfeel.

Slowly warms the palate with a certain juiciness coming through.

Fubá c/othewhiskeynut

Hints of peppery spice on the finish with a tasty tingling sensation rounding off this attractive spirit.

Available in Ireland from the Intrepid Spirits range.

Saúde

Shanahans Original, Single Malt Irish Whiskey, 40%

Hopefully by the end of 2021 we’ll be able to freely walk into bars & enjoy ourselves without any worries – as I miss the unexpected encounters within.

Back in summer ’19 herself requested a trip to the seaside on a hot sunny day in contrast to the flat Midland’s bogs we normally frequent.

Afterwards, a spot of light refreshment at Keelings Bar in Donabate rounded off the day.

Shanahans Original c/othewhiskeynut

The whiskey shelves were scanned for a suitable selection & Shanahans Original stood out for me.

Being a commissioned malt from the Cooley Distillery for the famous Dublin based steakhouse – this was in the days before the Beam/Suntory takeover turned off the taps to 3rd parties – Shanahans is a slice of Irish Whiskey’s recent history I was keen to sample.

Back label c/othewhiskeynut

That lovely fresh citrusy & fruity malt aroma greeted me.

A delightfully light & easy whiskey with a touch of malty character – as well as an entertaining back story – to enjoy on a warms summers day in the beer garden of Keelings.

Oh to be able to experience those simple & unexpected pleasures again!

Sláinte

The Famous Grouse, Smoky Black, Blend, 40%

Grouse come in a variety of species – just like their whisky counterparts.

Red & Black Grouse with a Teacher inbetween c/othewhiskeynut

The Red – or Famous Grouse – is the most common & biggest selling of the Matthew Gloag dynasty of blended Scotch.

Ptarmigan – or Snow Grouse – are quite a scarce bird to encounter – just like blended grain whisky.

Snow Grouse c/othewhiskeynut

Black Grouse are a bit more easy to find – & the species proudly adorns the bottle of Smoky Black Grouse Whisky.

Smoky Black c/othewhiskeynut

Promising a heavier & peatier experience – Smoky Grouse delivers.

The smoke is rather subdued & very well balanced – it won’t blow you away – making for a very easy drinker with a touch of character.

Peated Glenturret c/othewhiskeynut

While the Red Grouse is easily found in Ireland – Snow & Black Grouse are rarely encountered. Brexit is also causing problems with whisky imports/exports & could lead to higher prices.

It looks like the expansion of Grouse in Ireland could hit a rocky patch.

Sláinte

A Unicorn Whiskey Tasting, 40% to 58.7%

What is a unicorn whiskey?

To me it’s a whiskey way above my price range – I max out at €100 – which is usually rare, a collector’s item, limited edition, first release or a combination of all.

Many are never opened.

I grasp any opportunity to sample such whiskey – tastings, whiskey shows, launch parties – or in this instance – miniatures.

I approach them with the same level of respect as that of a €20 bottle from the local supermarket.

They are opened, poured into a Tuath Glass & enjoyed.

MVR 2020 c/othewhiskeynut

Midleton Very Rare 2020, Blend, 40%

The MVR series is highly collectable – especially this one – as it’s the last under Brian Nation’s tenure.

Quite a light nose, sweet grain with woody oak enticing me in. A lovely mouthfeel with those oaky tannins drying out towards the finish.

Very approachable, enjoyable & complex – yet lacks a certain oomph.

Knockrath Tree 7 c/othewhiskeynut

Midleton Dair Ghaelach, Knockrath Forest Tree 7, Single Pot Still, 56.6%

Straight into a deep, dank woody close!

The richness of this whiskey is a sheer delight to enjoy.

Gorgeous stuff!

Blue Spot c/othewhiskeynut

Blue Spot 7 Year Old, Single Pot Still, 58.7%

The much anticipated completion of the Spot series.

After the other 2 – this was a bit of a let down.

Light & spirity on the nose – lacking the depth & complexity of the MVR’s – what sherry influence appeared was quickly blown away by the high ABV.

Not for me – even if it’s the only one I could afford!

A satisfying tasting! c/othewhiskeynut

Thoughts

I don’t lust after these whiskeys – nor am I prepared the break the bank for them. They are simply expensive whiskeys appealing to a demographic beyond me,

But that Knockrath Tree 7 is a lovely tipple to lose yourself in!

Sláinte

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