Lidl De Luxe Beer Battered Onion Rings

Maybe it was the pubs being closed?

Yearning c/othewhiskeynut

Spotting these Beer Battered Onion Rings in my local Lidl reminded me of pre-pandemic carefree days.

They made my basket.

They made my oven.

They made my plate.

Memories c/othewhiskeynut

They brought back memories of the good days,

And yearnings of days yet to come.

Sláinte

Kilbeggan Black, Lightly Peated Irish Whiskey, 40%, Blend

For a long time Irish Whiskey was defined more by what it couldn’t be rather than by what it could.

Truths About Whiskey 1878 c/othewhiskeynut

When the whisky market was clearly shifting to blended whisky in the late 1800’s, Messrs J Jameson, W Jameson, J Power & G Roe brought out the ‘Truths About Whisky’ pamphlet which railed against this new confounded ‘silent spirit’ & thereby shunned the opportunities available.

Proper Twelve c/othewhiskeynut

Celebrity endorsed brands are making big waves across the globe right now – yet within the Irish Whiskey community there is almost universal rejection of Conor McGregor’s Proper Twelve Whiskey – despite it leaping to become the 4th most popular Irish Whiskey in the world.

Sods of turf drying in the sun. c/othewhiskeynut

Many also adhere to the myth that Irish Whiskey can’t be peated.

Which is a pity.

Peated whiskey displays a gorgeous smoky flavour which many customers seek out – customers like myself.

Peated Kilbeggan c/othewhiskeynut

So when Kilbeggan Distillery recently added the Kilbeggan Black Lightly Peated Irish Whiskey to their range – I couldn’t wait to try it out.

Label info c/othewhiskeynut

The double distilled blend of malt & grain whiskey from Cooley Distillery in County Louth is presented in a no nonsense screwcap bottle at 40% ABV with added colouring.

It’s clearly positioned at the mass market peated blend category previously dominated by Scorch – and I fully welcome Irish Whiskey’s entry into this arena.

Delicately smoky c/othewhiskeynut

A subtle kiss of smoke rises from the honeyed blend.

Soft & easy palate.

Gently drying smokiness envelops the finish in a warm tingly embrace.

Now that the pubs are slowly opening after a long COVID shutdown – it’ll be great to reach for a lightly peated Irish Whiskey.

Go on Kilbeggan!

Sláinte

Red Hackle De Luxe, Scotch Whisky, 70 Proof, Blend.

The cork disintegrated on trying to open this miniature Red Hackle.

Red Hackle c/othewhiskeynut

Not a promising start.

Several old bottles of whisky I’ve picked up along the way have also started to deteriorate – leaving a stale musty taste behind.

Red Hackle had only a faint whiff of decay – along with some sherried depth & a teaser of tabacco.

A charming dram c/othewhiskeynut

Silky smooth mouthfeel,

The finish had an engaging prickly dryness topped off with a smidgen of smoke.

Red Hackle has held it’s delights very well over the decades.

Surprisingly so – as the internet suggests my bottle is from the 1960’s!

A charming dram.

Sláinte

8 Degrees, Devil’s Ladder Belgian Tripel, Sherry Cask Aged, 11.5%

Very rich tasting.

Very moreish.

A mountain of a beer at 11.5%.

Devil’s Ladder c/othewhiskeynut

Part of 8 Degrees Brewing Irish Munro series – this beer’s casks are in turn used to age a whiskey creating the Crested Devil’s Ladder version.

Crested Devil’s Ladder c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

As both 8 Degrees & Crested are owned by Pernod Ricard – it’s great to see further developments from this partnership.

Enjoy them while you can!

Sláinte

The Greatest Beer Run Ever, John ‘Chick’ Donohue & JT Molloy.

Hey!

Let’s deliver some beer to our buddies!

Sounds like a good plan.

There’s just the minor inconvenience of these buddies fighting a war in Vietnam – but the plan hatched in a New York bar grows legs.

The Book, The Beer, The Movie? c/othewhiskeynut

The Greatest Beer Run Ever is a mad cap adventure only the young or foolish would contemplate.

Written years after the event it’ s full of humanity – both brutal and kind – as well as reflections of a life well lived.

Sit back, pour yourself a beer & enjoy the ride!

Sláinte

The Busker Whiskey Range, Blend, 40%, Single Grain, Single Malt & Single Pot Still, 44.3%.

Ever since the split between Walsh Whiskey & Illva Saronno over the direction of produce distilled at Royal Oak Distillery – premiumisation vs mass market in my estimation – I’ve noticed far more glowing coverage of Walsh Whiskey – now a sourced brand – over and above Royal Oak – who are one of only a few Irish Whiskey Distilleries able to distill all 4 styles of Irish Whiskey – Blend, Single Grain, Single Malt & Single Pot Still – under one roof.

The fabulous Royal Oak Distillery c/othewhiskeynut

Normally there’s a ‘hoorah’ over a new distillery’s first offerings – but for Royal Oak it was a mere whimper.

The Busker range is widely available in the US.

For now in Ireland it remains in specialist shops.

I was waiting for it to appear in my local supermarket – but opted for a sampler pack from Dick Mac’s Bar instead.

The Busker samples c/othewhiskeynut

The Busker range is entirely Royal Oak’s own distillate – which I’ve yet to witness on the shelves – and is a marvelous milestone in the growing diversity of Irish Whiskey.

The livery of the bottle is bold, striking & contemporary – a refreshing modern look.

The Busker range is available for the attractive price of €40 for the singles & €30 for the blend.

So how did I find them?

Triple Cask Blend c/oTTB/Colasonline

Triple Cask Blend, 40%

Triple distilled, triple cask – bourbon , sherry & marsala – a blend of Single Grain, Single Malt & Single Pot Still.

Quite a rich & fruity aroma. The sherry influence appears to dominate. Juicy fruitiness on the palate – like wine gums. An enjoyable tingling spice on the finish which gradually dries out.

Lovely complexity at a pleasing price.

Single Grain c/oTTB/Colasonline

Single Grain, 44.3%

Bourbon & Marsala cask matured.

Gentle & subtle. Hints of woodiness. Clean & fresh palate. Dries out on the finish with a frisson of spice.

A characterful & engaging single grain.

Single Malt c/oTTB/Colasonline

Single Malt, 44.3%

Bourbon & Sherry cask matured.

Smooth maltiness. Lovely sweet juicines on the palate. A delightful drying spice on the finish.

Easy & engaging.

Single Pot Still c/oTTB/Colasonline

Single Pot Still, 44.3%

Bourbon & Sherry cask matured.

Captivating sweet spiciness. More of those wine gums. More body & woody depth showing through. Lip smacking finish.

Nice!

Thoughts

There’s a common sherry influenced theme running through all these whiskey. A pleasing sweet juiciness followed by a drying spiciness – but for me the added complexity of the single pot still wins out on the day.

A very welcome addition to the growing diversity of Irish Whiskey.

Sláinte

Two Tastings of Two Stacks, The First Cut, Blend, 43%

My first encounter with Two Stacks was in a blind tasting.

Devoid of any prior knowledge my brief assessment of this ‘Complex Blend’ was as follows;

Complex Blend c/othewhiskeynut

Neutral on the nose, soft & subtle.

Not giving much away on the palate, mellow easy drinking.

Nice flavours on the finish, intriguing.

I was surprised to find out it was Two Stacks, The First Cut. Mainly as I’d heard the blend contained a peated element – which I’d failed to detect.

My second encounter with Two Stacks was from an actual bottle.

On the back label is the blending mix & yes – peat does feature, but at only 2% – it clearly wasn’t enough to grab my palate.

Back label info c/othewhiskeynut

Having all the information & a longer time to engage with the whiskey did slightly alter the experience.

A mere hint of smoke just pushed through on the nose – although the mild mellow softness still dominated.

The finish left me with a dry tingling – often a reaction I get from peated whiskey. At only 2% however it was a gentle suggestion & I’d probably be happier with a 20% hit.

Two Stacks in a Tuath c/othewhiskeynut

Interestingly another drinker had a heightened reaction against the peat – even at such a low concentration it was still overpowering.

Others I know detect sulphur from sherry casks in small amounts too.

My palate seems to be the opposite in that I need bigger percentages & bolder flavours to grab my attention.

As it is, The First Cut is a well put together blend.

Nice easy drinking – & while the peated element does add some character – it’s just not enough to excite my palate.

Sláinte

Bacardi, The Hidden War, Hernando Calvo Ospina.

Every brand has to have a good story – but I’m not sure the one told in the pages of this compelling book will feature on the back of Bacardi labels.

Bacardi the book c/othewhiskeynut

Essentially it’s a well documented exposé of the Bacardi family’s consistent attempts – ever since the Cuban revolution of 1959 – to undermine, weaken & generally destabilise the Cuban regime.

A lot of it can be put down to big multinationals protecting their profits over and above any rules individual states may have.

Bacardi the rum c/othewhiskeynut

Some could be political ideology.

But it doesn’t particularly paint a pretty picture.

Events took a turn in 1993 when Pernod Ricard entered a joint venture with Cuban company Havana Rum & Liquors to produce & market the Havana Club range of Cuban rums – to great success.

Havana Club rum c/othewhiskeynut

Bacardi have consistently challenged the right of Pernod Ricard to do so.

Bacardi often drape their advertising in Cuban imagery – despite the rums not being made in the country – & there have been claims to say this is misleading & manipulative.

Cuban rum authenticity c/othewhiskeynut

In these times when ‘transparency’ & ‘honesty’ are attributes to be exalted in the spirits world – I’d suggest pouring your preferred tipple & sitting down to read this riveting book.

It may not change the flavour of that tipple – but it might colour the experience.

Sláinte

Copeland Merchants Quay, Blended Irish Whiskey, 40%

Copeland Distillery are one of a growing collection of new Irish Whiskey Distilleries making inroads to market.

Copeland Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Despite having laid down their own stocks – they have yet to mature – Copeland have taken the route of releasing a sourced blend to build awareness of the brand, gain valuable practice & knowledge regarding marketing, packaging, blending as well as cultivating relationships.

I think it’s a commendable exercise – especially when I get the opportunity to try out a sample bottle!

Story time c/othewhiskeynut

The presentation is very attractive.

The story plays up the rich maritime history of Copeland Distillery’s home town of Donaghadee in Northern Ireland – which I’m immediately drawn to having been a seafarer in the past.

But it all comes down to the liquid – so a sample was poured.

Copeland in a Tuath c/othewhiskeynut

The nose is rich & inviting. A satisfying display of depth coupled with an attractive bite & hints of wood.

Silky & smooth on the palate. Waves of flavour ebb & flow on a gentle tide.

A delightful spiciness opens up on the finish with succulent fruit juiciness fading to a dry tingling.

Info c/othewhiskeynut

A very engaging & entertaining little number.

I wish Copeland Distillery much future success.

Sláinte

The sample bottle was kindly supplied by Copeland.

All views – as always – are my own.

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