Laughfrog Highland Single Malt, 40%

I couldn’t resist the humour of this Laughfrog Highland Malt Scotch.

The mispronunciations of Laphroaig are legendary – why not turn it into a marketing opportunity?

Pity Select Drams bottled it with Highland Malt – perhaps too close to the bone for Islay?

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Don’t croak it! c/othewhiskeynut

Anyway – it made my glass.

The first thing I noticed – or rather didn’t – was a rich phenolic peat smoke. A more muted sweet biscuity malt greeted me instead.

This followed into the palate which developed a full bodied mouthfeel.

A lovely drying gentle spiciness brought up the tail end.

An entertaining easy going malt with a touch of character & perhaps a dash of peat in the background.

Certainly wouldn’t make you croak!

Sláinte

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Porterhouse Celebration Stout, 4th Barrel Aged Release, 12%

An unexpected serve at Dingle Distillery for the Irish Whiskey Awards 2019 event was this Celebration Stout from Porterhouse Brewery.

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It’s dark and it’s heavy. c/othewhiskeynut

I say unexpected as I’d not come across this one before – and obviously missed the previous 3 offerings.

Rich & dark, the sweet malty notes on the nose from the ex bourbon barrels used to mature this beer pulled me in.

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Drinking beer in the distillery. c/othewhiskeynut

The palate had a dark fruitiness to it – ex port casks (a favourite of Dingle Whiskey) contributed to this element – and the carbonation being light suited my tastes.

Full bodied & bursting with flavour this isn’t a shy stout – I certainly warmed to it’s delights.

Clearly the judges thought so too – as Celebration Stout went on to win the Best Irish Whiskey Barrel Aged Beer category .

A worthy winner!

Sláinte

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Bowmore No 1, 40% vs Art Of The Blend 3, 43%

Which would you choose?

A single malt from a well known Islay Distillery versus a blend sold by an upcoming Lowland Distillery sourced from unnamed origins?

Luckily for me – I had both!

Art Of The Blend 3 was a limited edition release allowing Eden Mill Distillery to practice their blending & marketing skills in advance of their own whisky maturing.

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Art Of The Blend Batch 3 c/othewhiskeynut

It came in a highly attractive bottle – which has since continued into their own releases – containing malt & grain whiskies finished in Islay Whisky Casks.

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Eden Mill’s own whisky c/othewhiskeynut

I found it crisp, clear, vibrant and highly enjoyable.

You could say it was smokin’!

By contrast Bowmore No 1 – named after the warehouse the barrels used in the single malt were aged in – was muted – almost as if the fire had gone out.

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Bowmore No 1 c/othewhiskeynut

The sparkle was missing – and I was a tad disappointed.

The Art Of The Blend 3 just blew it out of the water.

I let my palate choose.

It chose Art Of The Blend 3.

Sláinte

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Micil Irish Poitín, Heritage Edition, 46%

Every now and then there’s a release that just blows away the old myths.

One of the hackneyed stereotypical tropes used is that Irish Whiskey isn’t peated – or as I’m in Ireland – turfed.

Any cursory study of past recipes clearly shows it was – as the collective who collaborated to produce this Heritage Poitín found – and thankfully it now is.

Micil Instagram
Micil distillery Instagram Post

Micil Heritage Poitín is the first spirit to use Irish turf to smoke Irish Barley  & Irish Oats in a long time.

This is a game changer.

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Drinking Poitín at the Distillery c/othewhiskeynut

The other myth is that to be a good whiskey it must be aged – preferably for a long time.

Well – after tasting this fabulous poitín – age is only a number.

This is the original uisce beatha – the water of life – that started the whole whiskey craze.

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Micil’s back label c/othewhiskeynut

It’s pure, it’s clear and it’s a delight to drink.

The final myth is that barley is the be all and end all of whiskey.

Again – no relevance to the actual recipes of the past that traditionally used a mixed mash bill of barley – both malted & unmalted – wheat, rye and oats.

The oats in Micil Heritage Poitín give it a gorgeous creaminess with a depth of body & generous legs.

The turf smoke is like the warm hug of a winters fire sharing the craic with friends & family.

Micil Heritage Poitín is stepping back in time to go forward.

I raise a glass to all involved.

To the return of Irish turf!

Sláinte

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Riviére Saint-Jean, Rhum Vieux, 6 Ans,40%

Ooh la la!

I gotta hand it to Lidl for expanding my spirit drinking range.

This bottle of rum from Réunion – hence the French connection – emanates  from the Indian Ocean via a Parisienne suburb.

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Fantastique! c/othewhiskeynut

There is no Riviére Saint-Jean distillery on the island – but a Riviére du Mat distillery founded in 1886 – appears to be the source of this offering.

There’s also a ‘Saga du Rhum‘ museum on Réunion to further explore the rich history of distillation – including the sorry tale of sugar, slavery and colonial exploitation. Hopefully those days are long gone. Meanwhile – the rum is still here to enjoy.

A deep ruby brown colour greets you – followed by an attractive oaky tannic nose on a dark molassey underbelly.

The palate was quite delicious.

The smooth warming sweetness morphed into a gorgeously drying spicy explosion. Very reminiscent of some rye whiskeys I enjoy.

Not had a rum like this before!

I’m feeling Riviére Saint-Jean accentuates the cask influence with it’s 6 years in wood.

C’est bon – c’est trés bon.

Santé

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Eden Mill, Oak Aged Beer, Whisky Barrel, 6.7%

On my last visit to Eden Mill – which is a combined Brewery & Distillery operation on the banks of the Eden River in Guardbridge, Scotland – the opener for the distillery tour was a bottle of their fine Whisky Barrel Aged Beer.

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Whisky Barrel Aged Beer c/othewhiskeynut

It certainly loosened up the tongues of the mixed bag of visitors on the day – and was a novel way to introduce the rich variety of drinks including beers, gins & whiskies made at the facility.

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Art Of The Blend series c/othewhiskeynut

Bottled at 6.7% the dark beer delivered a gentle aroma of malt. The carbonation wasn’t too strong – more in the style of a traditional Scottish Heavy Ale – with a great outpouring of flavour comprising of caramel, burnt molasses, a hint of dark chocolate & coffee too.

There is also a limited edition Bourbon Barrel offering – slightly sweeter & heavier if possible – with a younger 68 day age statement as opposed to the 93 of the Whisky Barrel Beer.

Whatever your poison – Eden Mill have a drink to satisfy.

These Oak Aged Beers satisfied me.

Sláinte

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MacLeod’s, Isle Of Skye, 8 Year Old Blended Scotch, 40%

Another miniature from my mixed bag winning auction lot.

I couldn’t resist humming the opening line from the famous Andy Stewart hit song ‘Donald Where’s Yer Troosers?’

‘I’ve just come down from the Isle Of Skye’.

Well some of the whisky in this blend did.

It started off fine – the colour was reassuringly pale.

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An Ian MacLeod brand. c/othewhiskeynut

But the nose was sweet – very sweet – with a dull stale smell.  This one was obviously on the turn!

I took a swig.

Pale, watery & dull.

The only sign of life was a residue smokiness from the peat.

Not undrinkable – but not pleasant.

Pity.

This one had the potential to be a clean fresh easy peater.

I did check the screw cap seal. It was slightly discoloured. A sign – so I’ve been told – the whisky has deteriorated. Seems to hold true in this instance.

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Screw cap discolouration. c/othewhiskeynut

Obviously ‘just come down from the Isle Of Skye’ too long ago!

Sláinte

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Dolmen Irish Whiskey Stout, 7.6%

A few years ago you’d be hard pushed to find an Irish Craft Beer – let alone one aged in Irish Whiskey Barrels – yet this growing category continues to expand.

Western Herd – based in County Clare – recently re-released their Dolmen Irish Whiskey Stout. I was lucky enough to secure a sample.

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McHugh’s in Ennis c/othewhiskeynut

Western Herd also release a wide range of craft beers – best sampled at one of their bars – like I did at McHugh’s in Ennis – or perhaps Flanagan’s in Lahinch is more your style?

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Western Herd beers in McHugh’s c/othewhiskeynut

You can always top it off with a glass of Chapel Gate’s JJ Corry Whiskey – the source of the barrels that enhance the flavour of this stout. ‘Hon The Banner’ certainly went down well with me!

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JJ Corry at McHugh’s c/othewhiskeynut

Using the branded tasting glass provided – I poured myself a Dolmen.

A gorgeously dark stout with a lively head.

Aromas of coffee, malt & burnt molasses. Mrs Whiskey also discerned blackcurrant & chocolate. Very inviting.

I must admit to finding the stout a bit too gassy for my palate. My preference is for a creamy flatness – but there’s a good combination of flavours within. The coffee was still present, initially the sweet honey malt made itself known, then faded slowly into quite a light feeling stout which belied the 7.6% ABV.

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Flanagan’s in Lahinch c/othewhiskeynut

Now this isn’t a beer to swig down. It’s one to be savoured & sipped – which is how I approached it over the course of an hour or so.

By then the ‘fizz’  I’m not a fan of had dissipated. The stout tasted more fuller bodied with darker, treacly notes coming through – much to my satisfaction.

A worthy addition to the barrel aged beer canon.

Sláinte

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Glen Grant, Highland Malt Scotch Whisky, 43%

The label on this miniature bottle had me confused.

I always associated Grant’s with being a big selling Speyside blend with a distinctive triangular shaped bottle which hadn’t exactly set my palate alight.

Yet here was a round Glen Grant bottle proclaiming to be from the Highlands.

Turns out there were 2 or 3 Mr Grants who set up whisky distilleries in the 1800’s.

In the 1840’s brothers John & James Grant founded the Glen Grant Distillery. It has gone through many changes of ownership and is now in the hands of the Campari Group – which immediately takes me back to an old advert!

Later on a certain William Grant laid the stones for the Glenfiddich Distillery back in 1886. The company is still with the same family today and has gone on to great success. It is responsible for the Grant’s range of blended whiskies – as well as notable single malts and built the new Tullamore Distillery in Ireland.

So that’s one issue sorted.

Highland Malt when quite clearly it’s a Speyside distillery?

Well not so fast bucko.

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Glen Grant Highland Malt c/othewhiskeynut

Scottish Whisky Regions are actually a fairly recent construct and in my opinion more tied in with clever marketing & branding rather than anything intrinsically connecting whiskies made in these regions. An internet search found an enjoyable explanation here.

Since my miniature seems to be an old bottling – the closest I could identify is offered on Whisky Exchange here – which pre-dates current Scotch Whiskey Region rules.

whisky exchange grant
Courtesy Whisky Exchange

But I only found all this out after tasting  Glen Grant Highland Malt – as I fairly enjoyed it.

There was a slight funkiness on the nose – not overpowering & actually quite characterful – which I’d possibly allow as deterioration from the old bottling – yet otherwise fresh & light.

The palate was signature Speyside – soft, subtle fruits & easy sweet biscuity malt with a hint of spice towards the finish.

If anything the 43% presentation had boosted the flavours within & given an enhanced appeal to my palate.

Not bad at all.

It enticed me to unearth the information above – all from a mixed bag auction lot purchase.

A happy half hour drinking & internet searching.

Sláinte

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Skibbereen Eagle, Single Cask, 57%

Fly Like An Eagle,

Sang Steve Miller and his band back in the day.

Well this Skibbereen Eagle certainly made my palate fly!

At 57% it’s remarkably shy on the nose – spirity alright – yet clean & fresh.

The palate belied the high ABV offering warming vanilla & soft caramel from the bourbon cask maturation – all before a lipsmackingly enjoyable alcoholic punch made it’s presence felt.

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The Skibbereen Eagle flies free! c/othewhiskeynut

A prickly tingling sensation & gently fading flavours followed on the finish.

This is a West Cork Distillers whiskey available on the German market for €33 – prices correct as of September 2019.

Fabulous stuff indeed!

Sláinte

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Sample & header image courtesy of Irish Drams.

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