Fine whiskey, great company & mighty craic ensued.
I came away with a nugget of Irish Whiskey sales information however.
The biggest selling whisky in Ireland from the eclectic & well represented Beam-Suntory brand portfolio is by a long shot – Teacher’s Highland Cream.
So I bought a bottle.
It’s yer standard Scotch Blend product.
It’s chill filtered & has added caramel. It’s non age statmented and gives no list of the 30 or so distilleries that have contributed their malt and grain whisky to construct this historic blend – yet it sells bucket loads.
It’s a straight forward no nonsense attractively peated whisky that outsells all others on the Beam-Suntory portfolio.
The colour is ‘The Light Of Scotland’ – according to the label.
A decent hit of peat on the nose is mellowed by a sweet honeyed palate. A slightly drying peaty bite leaves toffee notes to finish on.
Plain, simple peated whisky.
Clearly what the market wants.
Yet ever since the demise of the gorgeous Inishowen – Irish Whiskey has no peated blend currently for sale.
The diversification of Irish Whiskey continues with this delightful smoked salmon pâté from unionhallsmokedfish.com.
Infused with West Cork Irish Whiskey – a venture founded by former fishermen itself – this is not an entirely unexpected food pairing.
I found it a light salmon pâté – yet bursting with flavour.
The fresh citrusy salmon was accentuated by a gentle soft smokiness which gave depth & complexity to the mix. Quite what the Irish Whiskey brought to the palate was hard to judge – but I found it irresistible.
I’d have easily polished off the whole lot if it wasn’t for the other half reminding me to leave some for the guests – who also enjoyed what was left!
Mindful of my own advice to not store whiskey too long before consumption, I looked into one of my storage cupboards – dark & at constant temperature – to find a shocking amount of bottles.
The Ballechin was one that attracted me.
It had a few things going for it.
To begin with – it was a small bottle that wouldn’t be around for long after opening. More pertinently it bore 3 phrases pleasing to my palate; unchill filtered, natural colour & heavily peated.
The nose was a mixture of peat smoke infused with dark stone fruits.
Rather than a dry ashy peatiness – a luscious smooth & engaging fruitiness eased me into a warming peat fire which wrapped me in it’s cosy embrace.
A gorgeously engaging whiskey to savor.
Emanating from Edradour Distilley in the Highlands – the Ballechin is a run of peated malt they do.
Interestingly, for the first 160 years of it’s existence from 1825, there were no single malt bottlings. All product was used for fillings in the highly successful blended scotch market. Only in 1986 did Edradour start releasing their own single malts when that category began to rise in popularity.
All this information was gleaned from Charles MaClean’s Whiskipedia book.
Which is a mine of information on Scottish Whisky Distilleries.
Now I can’t say I’ve ever tasted the whiskey, but having sampled a few of the casks maturing at J.J. Corry’s bonded warehouse in Co Clare, I can appreciate the high quality of spirits being nurtured there.
Presented in a stunning handmade cut crystal decanter – along with an ultra deluxe hand carved ash cabinet too – The Chosen set the whiskey internet buzzing.
It puts Irish Whiskey centre stage – where it belongs.
After my initial findings with a washed out bottle of Islay Storm from last year – available here – I chanced upon a miniature bottle sporting a shiny new label & thought I’d check it out.
I still had the old bottle – so did a comparison.
First off – the older bottle is slightly darker.
More added caramel?
Longer in the cask?
A completely different source of single malt?
All of the above?
Being an independent bottling for C.S. James & Sons Ltd of Glasgow there is no guarantee what was in the old bottle is the same as the new. It’s the same for all bottlings – they change & evolve -and I have no problem with that.
On the nose the miniature was cleaner, fresher & more lively.
A lovely bright & full on smoky peat hit enveloped my palate from the start. Briny & a tad sweet at the end – but very enjoyable.
The old bottle was dull & flat in comparison. Only on the finish did the ashy peat rise up to give some life to the washed out contents.
If you enjoy a smoky number – Islay Storm clearly delivers.
Just drink your bottle in timely fashion to get the full effect!
I don’t know if Lidl are ahead of the posse predicting a Rum revival – but they have another miniature selection I couldn’t resist.
Comprising of 4 x 40ml servings under the Ron Rumbero label – courtesy of Bimmerle KG, a German spirits producer & importer – with Cuban Rum being the source.
Ron Rumbero, Spiced Spirit, 37.5%
An attractively well balanced spiced rum offering. A bit too sweet for my liking – but a dark chocolate start contrasts with a gentle chilli led spicy finish.
Ron Rumbero, Cream Liqueur with Rum, 15%
An easy going creamy liqueur that provides an entertaining alternative to the whiskey derived offerings. Sweet, thick & creamy with a decent hit of rum on the finish too!
Ron Rumbero, 3 Años, 38%
Now this one surprised me! A definite vegetal funk on the nose. Slightly sweet yet smooth palate with a lovely flourish of spice on the finish. A great combination.
Ron Rumbero, 7 Años, 38%
Rich, warm & inviting. Slightly oaky. Smooth delivery. The dry oaky tannins are reminiscent of a good whiskey. Not bad.
A lovely little quartet of rums to whet your appetite.
When choosing my favourite I had a little surprise. Normally I’d go for the aged version – but with these – the wonderful balance of the funky start & gorgeously spicy finish of the 3 Años won out in this instance.
If only I could get a full size bottle for the shelf!