Rampur Select, Single Malt, 43%

With all the COVID travel restrictions – 2km from home in Ireland – it’s great to taste the world of flavour through whiskey.

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Rampur packaging c/othewhiskeynut

Rampur Select is one of a few Indian brands made to European Union rules that allow it to be marketed there.

The actual distillery – Radico Khaitan – has been making spirits since 1943 and have obviously built up a wealth of experience & knowledge.

The packaging is exquisite.

An outer tube embossed in golden lettering extolling the virtues of the Maharajas.

A luxurious inner bag proudly displaying the company logo.

And the bottle itself – replete with an attractively clean design – clearly stating non chill filtered.

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Front label c/othewhiskeynut

So far so good.

But what of the taste?

Well the nose immediately transported me to a land of exotic fruits – not that I’ve tasted many!

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Back label c/othewhiskeynut

It was certainly enticing & intriguing.

A gentle mouthfeel eased me in.

Rich dark fruits flowed over the palate – reminiscent of sultanas.

A lovely spicy hit on the finish – more peppery than curry – rounded things off on a flourish.

There’s a richness & depth to this single malt that entertained me.

I gladly roamed the Himalayan foothills drinking the delights of this exotic elixir.

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Class cork! c/othewhiskeynut

Roll on Indian Whisky.

Sláinte

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Jim Beam, Black XA, 43% v’s Signature Craft 12, 43%.

I used to fly.

Probably won’t be doing it for a while now.

One enjoyable pastime at the airport was sampling whiskey.

JFK had a pair of Beams not previously encountered.

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2 Beams c/othewhiskeynut

The Black Extra Aged sported an attractive enough bottle.

‘Black’ is often used in whiskey circles to denote a more refined, aged or even mysterious elixir.

I was happy to explore.

It came across quite soft & sweet – but with an appreciatively appealing bite too.

Not bad!

The Signature Craft 12 Year Old displayed a more rounded & smoother feel – lacking the youthful exuberance of it’s stablemate.

Black won out.

Sláinte

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Irish Whiskey in the US.

One aspect of the growth of Irish Whiskey is the proliferation of new brands hitting the shelves of American liquor stores.

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Westmeath whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Many will be familiar to drinkers in Ireland – Jameson, Bushmills & Kilbeggan – to name a few.

Others not – Kavanagh, Kilbrin & Wolfhound – for example.

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Kilbrin floated my boat! c/othewhiskeynut

Generally the 2nd list are non distillery producers selecting sourced Irish Whiskey then labelling & marketing it under their own brand names.

For the last few years this has been a growing business.

The number of Irish Whiskeys seeking approval from the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has risen from 120 in the 2016-17 period to 204 in the 2019-20 time frame.  Data courtesy TTB Online search page available here.

Clearly this reflects an increased appreciation of Irish Whiskey – as well as a ready supply of Irish Whiskey Distilleries willing to cater for this demand.

It’s marvelous to witness the growing marketability of Irish Whiskey.

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3 Irish Whiskey brands in the US c/othewhiskeynut

I welcome each and every one of these new brands into the ever increasing & more diversified Irish Whiskey category.

There is however still a long way to go.

Scottish Whisky registered 1188 labels in the same 2019-20 period.

Sláinte

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Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey, Then & Now, Blend, 40%

A wonderful photograph courtesy of @irelandincolour featuring Kilbeggan Distillery  in 1937 prompted me to do a comparison review of Kilbeggan Whiskey.

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Kilbeggan Distillery 1937

The old gold label bottle has been superseded by a fresher & more vibrant green & white design. It still retains hallmarks from the previous incarnation – but with additional features included.

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Then & Now c/othewhiskeynut

Both offerings are presented at 40% with added caramel – a common feature throughout the range – which results in a shared golden hue.

A gentle honeyed aroma is enjoyed.

This follows through on the palate offering sweet biscuity malt – before a hint of spice on the finish just adds a spot of character to the proceedings.

A very pleasant, nice & easy blend.

In an ever changing world – it’s often a welcome to greet a familiar friend.

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The back story c/othewhiskeynut

Just as Kilbeggan Distillery retains the characteristics of the 1937 photo today – there were only cosmetic differences in the 2 whiskeys.

I’ll be looking forward to a return visit to the distillery after the COVID pandemic is over.

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Kilbeggan Distillery 2019 c/othewhiskeynut

Stay safe.

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Original 1937 photo courtesy the Breslin Archive.

Blind Sample Tasting

Blind tasting.

You – the whiskey – your palate.

No transparency – no openness – no labels.

What could possibly go wrong?

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Ready? c/othewhiskeynut

Laid out before me were 7 whiskeys – 7 identical glasses – & some water to cleanse the palate between each sample.

Oh! They weren’t completely blind.

They were from a list I’d selected from a fellow whiskey fan as part of an exchange and it included;

1792 Single Barrel,   Ballantine’s 17,   Chita Single Grain,   Dingle 4 Single Malt,   Evan William’s Bottled In Bond,   Hellyers Road Roaring Forty,   Jack Daniel’s Bottled In Bond,   Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel 100,   Kilkerran 12,   Miltonduff 9,   Naked Grouse,   North Star Campbeltown 4,   Stagg Jr,   & a Surprise.

A Immediately impressed me. Strong spirit, good clean flavours, rich in the mouth. Nice.

B Wasn’t as enjoyable.

C A bourbon – but with a welcome spice.

D Nice easy drinker.

E Another bourbon – strong, opened up on the finish.

F Didn’t enamour me.

G Very intriguing.

I initially went through them trying to match my experiences to the expressions above. It was really guesswork – as I hadn’t encountered them before this session.

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Score sheet c/othewhiskeynut

On a second round – I scored them.

Then the reveal!

A North Star                              80                B Hellyers Rd     72

C 1792 SB                                    77                D Dingle 4           73

E Stagg Jr                                   79                 F Kilkerran 12   70

G Glenglassaugh Evolution  78

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North Star c/o@bogstandarddram

Congratulations to North Star Campbeltown 4 Year Old Blended Malt!

An independent bottle from undisclosed distilleries presented non chill filtered & with natural colour at a hefty 57% ABV.

Obviously my kinda whiskey!

There’s a clear division between the top 4 – bigger, badder, bolder – and the bottom 3 – softer, subtler, smoother.

My only surprise was the poor showing of Kilkerran 12 – normally a distillery I enjoy.

But then that’s the whole point of blind tasting.

To try and eradicate – as far as possible – any bias you may hold,

and let your palate  decide.

Sláinte

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Loch Lomond, Triple Pack, Single Malts, 46% x 3

Oh dear!

Are you ever disappointed reading positive reviews & kind comments regarding a whisky or distillery?

Well Loch Lomond was my moment.

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Loch Lomond miniature pack c/othewhiskeynut

Presented in an attractive triple pack for last years Open Golf Tournament – these 3 whiskies promised ‘innovation & character’.

I got smooth, soft, caramel laden blandness.

It started with Inchmurrin Madeira Cask.

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Mit Farbstoff c/othewhiskeynut

A fudgy caramel nose immediately repulsed me. The palate was far more forthcoming though. Soft fruits danced merrily with a lovely little flourish of gentle prickly spice on the finish.

The Lock Lomond 12yo was a sweet, honeyed, biscuity Single Malt that just lacked character.

I was hoping the peated Inchmoan would save the day.

Alas not!

Any welcome oomph the peat would deliver just got drowned out by soft, smooth blandness on the palate. Only on the finish did a gentle smokiness make it’s presence known.

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Nice design! c/othewhiskeynut

If I’m looking for caramelly single malts, Ben Bracken offers the same experience at half the price. Their Islay version knocks the socks off Inchmoan.

It’s not often I leave unfinished miniatures behind……………

If throwing caramel at your single malts is ‘innovative’ – forget it.

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Michael Collins, Single Malt, 40%

One of the last bars I entered before the COVID19 shutdown was Garavan’s in Galway.

There on the shelves was an old acquaintance of mine – Michael Collins Whiskey.

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Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

Michael Collins is an iconic figure in Irish history. To name a whiskey brand after him celebrates that history.

When having a glass I not only enjoy the whiskey – I also wonder at the momentous changes Michael Collins witnessed – and eagerly participated in – a hundred years ago. There is a similarity to the current changes we are living through with the pandemic.

I ponder at the beauty and longevity of a brand too.

It can outlive changes in distilleries that supply the spirit.

It can overcome changes in ownership.

It can constantly change & adapt to the availability of casks – altering the blending ratios accordingly to produce the finished product.

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I polished off the blend! c/othewhiskeynut

Yet it’s still remains the same brand.

The Single Malt version before me was the old ‘baseball bat’ shaped bottle originally commissioned by Sidney Frank Importing Co. There is no age statement with this one.

It had a smooth honeyed maltiness to begin with. A characterful bite followed by a touch of dryness on the finish – perhaps reflecting a smidge of smokiness – which is more evident in the 10 Year Old Single Malt offering.

MC 10
Michael Collins 10yo c/owhiskyauctioneer

Sazerac now own the brand.

I eagerly await their reincarnation of Michael Collins Whiskey.

Just as I look forward to the end of the pandemic – and welcome in whatever changed reality exists in the future.

Long live the brand!

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Pirate’s Grog Rum, Aged Honduran v’s No 13, 37.5% & 40%.

There’s going to be a lot of ‘Sitting Round At Home’ in the next few weeks – a cue for the classic Buzzcocks tune.

It also gives me the opportunity to work through a selection of miniatures.

A pair of Pirate’s Grog Rum in attractively labelled dumpy bottles took my fancy.

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Arrgh! A mighty fine pair ‘o’ rubies! c/othewhiskeynut

The Aged Honduran Rum gave no age statement.

The No 13 states ‘Fine 13 Year Aged Rum’ – plus ‘All Natural and Organic’  &  ‘Handmade in a Single Batch’.  Very promising.

No 13 was a slightly darker shade of golden brown – while the Aged looked cloudier. Both gave good legs.

On the nose Aged had a sweet molassey note combined with an attractive funkiness. Very alluring.

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Aged Honduran Rum c/othewhiskeynut

No 13 by comparison gave more vanilla with a touch of woodiness.

Both were soft & easy on the palate with a silky mouthfeel – but took different directions thereafter.

The Aged funkiness opened up & grew into a delightfully prickly spice which teased my senses. Very enjoyable.

No 13 didn’t particularly take me on a journey. The long time in ex-bourbon barrels imbued it with attributes more akin to a single malt whiskey rather than a rum – & I was a tad deflated by the experience.

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Pirate’s Grog No 13 c/othewhiskeynut

Both were fine, easy & approachable rums – but for me the funkiness of Aged Honduran was a more characterful example of the genre.

Despite the extra fancy labelling, more refined product & reassuring marketing of No 13 – the plain old NAS pleased my palate better.

Sláinte

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Highland Queen, Blended Scotch, 40%

God Save The Queen!

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Highland Queen c/othewhiskeynut

Well – Highland Queen Scotch at least.

Earlier this month – in what now feels like a different era – I freely travelled by car, bus & plane across the Irish Sea to Scotland.

I also took the opportunity to visit a whisky distillery.

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Tullibardine Distillery c/othewhiskeynut

Tullibardine.

Owned by the French drinks company Picard Vins & Spiritueux – trading as Terroirs Distillers – Tullibardine – like many distilleries – has had a chequered history.

It also sails under the radar of many a more famous distillery – which piques my interest.

I found an open, honest, hard working distillery pumping out millions of litres of the amber nectar.

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A pair of Tullibardine stills. c/othewhiskeynut

Only around 30% of production is used by Tullibardine themselves. The vast majority – 70% – goes to supply the very backbone of the industry – blended Scotch.

Highland Queen is one such blend – available at the distillery too – which I was happy to try.

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Legal requirements. c/othewhiskeynut

A bit of caramel, a bit of vanilla, a bit of depth too. Very pleasant.

A nice smooth delivery opening up with decent rich flavours and an attractive bite as well.

A bit of alright!

Highland Queen is a characterful blend backed up by a long & distinguished career.

The constituent ingredients & blending ratios may constantly change – but the brand remains strong.

Just like how the whisky industry itself will comeback after the COVID19 pandemic.

Sláinte

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Currach, Single Malt Irish Whiskey, 46%

Unprecedented times.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic all Irish Pubs are closed for St Patrick’s Day!

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COVID-19 closures c/otwitter

That didn’t stop a gathering of Irish Whiskey Fans over on the #SundayNightSup twitter site from gathering online to partake of the world’s first seaweed charred whiskey!

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Irish Whiskey – with a flourish of seaweed! c/othewhiskeynut

Yes – you heard that right – seaweed!

Irish Atlantic Kombu Kelp is a natural resource harvested, dried & then used to char virgin oak casks at the West Cork Distillers premises. Their triple distilled single malt is then finished in these casks for three months.

The results are simply fantastic!

The nose had an intriguing earthy, almost savoury appeal.

The palate started off soft & malty smooth – very approachable – as those meaty umami flavours grew to coat the mouth in a creamy silkiness.

A drying white peppery spice added a final flourish to this fabulously engaging whiskey.

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A lovely pour! c/othewhiskeynut

Congratulations to all the team at both West Cork Distillers and Origin Spirits for putting this highly innovative Irish Whiskey together.

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Currach Single Malt Irish Whiskey is available online from Celtic Whiskey Shop & IrishMalts.

The sample was kindly supplied by Origin Spirits.

All views – as always – are entirely mine.

 

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