All posts by Whiskey Nut

Moon Harbour Pier 1, Premium Blended Whisky, 45.8%

Ooh la la!

I happened to be in Paris during the double bill of Bastille Day and France winning the World Cup!

My particular reason for being there was enhanced by both spectacular events and added to a memorable trip.

It therefore seems apt to pour out yet another French Whisky and give it a whirl.

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Pier 1 in a Tuath glass c/othewhiskeynut

Je donne Moon Harbour Pier 1 Premium Blended Whiskey.

Well I say French Whisky – as it’s actually mainly Scotch which has been shipped out in bulk to Bordeaux where – under the guidance of master blender John McDougall – it is finished in locally sourced sauternes casks before being bottled & presented non chill filtered at 45.8%.

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Parlez vous francais? c/othewhiskeynut

There is nothing unusual in this. It’s a well trodden path for Scotch to send out loads of bulk whisky to many countries around the world where it is blended – often with locally produced spirits – matured, finished & eventually bottled to the recipients requirements before being released – mainly in the home market.

Many a Scottish distilleries output is destined for such bottlings – and it’s a big market.

It also allows an up and coming whisky brand – like Moon Harbour – to test the waters, hone their skills and develop their brand in the absence of a distillery which they may – or may not build at a later stage.

Moon Harbour seem to have plans for their own distillery in Bordeaux – so this blend looks likely to be a stop gap until they have their own whisky to sell.

Could it emulate the successful football team and win in a World Cup Whisky tournament?

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Bastille Whiskey in a Tuath glass c/othewhiskeynut

Well – in a back to back with the Bastille Single Malt – I’m afraid Moon Harbour lost out.

It’s certainly packaged in an attractive bottle however – complete with box – has a ruby red hue and displays deep legs.

There wasn’t all that much going on with the nose though. A soft sweet malty biscuit with a hint of grain.

A bit slow to start. The sauternes sweetness swiftly followed by a spirity robustness – quite a nice contrast really.

It left an enjoyable dry prickly heat at the end – but was somewhat lacking in depth of flavour & character. Perhaps the sauternes finish was just too subtle for my tastes.

If it had been presented without ‘Premium’ on the label and at a lower price I might have been OK with the result.

As it was it promised more than it actually delivered.

I do hope Moon Harbour get the distillery going however. I find it entertaining sampling all whiskies – especially new brands with a local twist – and welcome the diversity created by new distilleries.

It’s why I enjoy whisky, and despite not being a football fan, I did get a buzz of excitement watching the cup final on a sunny afternoon in a Parisian hotel garden with congenial company washed down with a whisky or two.

Sláinte.

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Bastille 1789 Whisky, Single Malt, 43%

Bonjour á mes vieux.

Aujourd’hui I’m covering un whisky francais et peppering le blog avec mon mal French.

Pourquoi?  You might ask.

Well on 14th July 1798 a certain building was besieged by a crowd demanding liberté, égalitié et fraternité. All very noble aspirations that I like to bring to my whisky tastings.

Liberté in that any country is free to fabriqué whisky in any style and manner they wish.

Égalitié, I like to taste all whiskies from wherever and whomever they hail from in an unbiased & non prejudiced way as possible et

Fraternitié in that whisky brings people together & is enjoyed on a worldwide basis 

Je vous donne;

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Bastille Whiskey in a Tuath glass c/othewhiskeynut

Bastille 1789 Single Malt.

Fabriqué dans Angoulême by Jean-Marc Daucourt – le fils of une mère Irlandais et père Francais – I’d like to think some of that celtic heritage came through in the whisky.

Maison Daucourt use French barley mixed with local water for the distillation. This is then combined avec Limousin oak that has previously held a variety of the finest French wines for the maturation to give le whisky a unique terroir & taste magnifique all of it’s own.

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L’information du whisky c/othewhiskeynut

A deep, dark almost earthy malt nose – as if from la sol francais  – starts the experience off.

On first sipping a delicious mouth coating erupts in a frisson of flavours which roll around the palate. Fresh & floral yet earthy & rich. There is a certain depth & gravitas to this malt that just pulls you in.

The long finish leaves a lovely drying prickly heat with a soupçon of spice at the end.

Incroyable – as they say.

This whisky may mark a revolutionary event of the past where the old order was overturned. But for me it marks a revolutionary event of the present where the current accepted order of world whisky is being challenged by new entrants.

French whisky is growing très vite – there are up to 50 distillerie listed in a blog francais ici.

If Bastille 1789 Whisky is anything to go by – the old order needs to worry.

Santé.

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A Dingle Duel, SuperValu Release v Batch 3, Single Malts, 46.5%.

Dingle have been the darlings of the new breed of Irish Whiskey Distilleries.

Their initial limited release batches marked the beginnings of a rebirth in Irish whiskey and fetched both high acclaim – as well as high prices.

Not being a collector – I prefer to enjoy the contents of the bottle – I did not get involved in entering a lottery to purchase an expression at extravagant cost. Nor auctions to acquire the first bottle off the line.

I generally taste at whiskey shows, media events and bars.

If I’m impressed with what I’ve experienced – and when the cost is more affordable & easier to obtain – I might be tempted to purchase.

The initial bourbon cask matured Dingle’s did not tempt me.

They were young, fresh – even exuberant – single malts from a new company. But taste wise they followed a well worn path.

The PX finished single pot still did impress however. I gave it top spot in a blind tasting event over and above all the Middleton releases at the time. It was new, innovative and grabbed my palate’s attention long before it’s identity was revealed to me.

So when a port cask limited release for supermarket chain SuperValu hit the stores I hungrily hunted down a bottle to savour the contents.

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Dingle SuperValu Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

No flipping for me.

Subsequent to that – a 3rd Batch release was announced. The Cask Strength offering is as rare as hens teeth, yet the Single Malt – again including port casks – was available in my local O’Brien’s and SuperValu stores.

Was this expression just a relabelled SV release?

I had to find out.

So the Dingle Duel was born.

In the left corner, the SV release, limited to 678 bottles. ‘A Marriage Of Port And Bourbon Casks’. As it says on the tin.

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A marriage indeed! c/othewhiskeynut

On the right. Batch 3 Single Malt. A far healthier release number & ‘A Marriage Of Bourbon And Port Casks‘.

Mmmmm. Not much to go on there then.

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Batch 3 back label c/othewhiskeynut

There is a slight difference in colour though.

Now Dingle don’t do added caramel nor chilled filtration – so what you see is what you get – and the SV release was noticeably darker.

On the nose it’s clear these are 2 unique & individual bottlings. The port influence on the SV release is just more pronounced.

It seems Dingle fully mature in the respective casks to begin with and marry the results at a later stage. There must be more Port cask used in the SV release and for me at least – it is more enjoyable for it.

The port influence smoothed over the young bourbon cask matured spirit giving a rather warmer, richer feel. A lovely dry, prickly heat came through at the end too – which suited my palate just fine.

The youthfulness of Batch 3 shone through both on the nose and taste. That’s not to say it’s a bad whiskey – it is want it is – a young fresh even lively whiskey with a decent port cask dressing showing itself in a more balanced, subdued kind of way.. Others may prefer this expression.

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A duo of Dingle’s c/othewhiskeynut

Having both back to back was a very enjoyable way to taste two lovely new Irish Whiskeys.

I look forward to future releases and further developments from this fabulous distillery.

Sláinte.

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Oh! Dingle  may be moving away from the cult collector status that has sustained it’s earlier sales and transitioning into more general purchases. This may not be plain sailing judging from the discounted Batch 3’s in my local store.

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Come and get it! c/othewhiskeynut

 

Blind Bourbon Tasting July 4th 2018

It seemed like a good idea.

An opportunity to taste without prejudice. To judge all equally without bias to distillery of origin or mash bill. To savour  & enjoy new tastes & styles in a manner echoing the ethos of the Declaration Of Independence written all those years ago.

Yet the Midlands masses were not moved and on the day there were more whiskey expressions on offer than punters to drink them.

Ah well. All the more for those that did attend.

I tried to put together a flight of whiskeys that represented as many different styles of American bourbon – to compare & contrast – within the limitations of what was readily available in Ireland.

To kick off with – a pair of entry level bourbons showed that even within the same category there were differences of taste & flavour.

To be labelled ‘bourbon’ under American rules means a minimum of 51% corn used in the mash bill. The mash bill is the ratio of grains used to make the whiskey – usually made up of the big 4; corn, wheat, rye & barley.

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Clarke’s 1866 Bourbon c/othewhiskeynut

I twinned an Aldi own brand  Clarke’s 1866 Old Kentucky Straight Sour Mash Whiskey with a market leading Jack Daniel’s Old No.7 Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey. Most preferred the Jack – although Clarke’s wasn’t far behind.

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Jack Old No. 7 c/othewhiskeynut

Considering one is twice the price of the other – it just goes to show you can get a decent pour of a fairly standard bourbon at an affordable cost if you’re prepared to shop around.

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FEW Rye c/othewhiskeynut

The next pour moved up a level both in terms of cost and flavour – FEW Rye Whiskey. All agreed this was a far more complex, definitely a different style and a far more satisfying whiskey. The spicy rye dominated the palate yet was balanced by the sweet corn element in the mash bill.

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Brothership Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

The rye presence continued into the Brothership Irish – American Whiskey. A collaboration between Connacht Distillery in Ballina and New Liberty Distillery in Philly. It’s a blend of 10 year old Irish Single Malt & a 10 year old American Rye. A lighter & smoother start than the previous pours – all picked out the Irish malt influence – yet joyfully morphed into a lovely drying peppery spice at the end. You can pick out the 2 different styles within the same glass and marvel at how they both compliment each other in the final mix. Fabulous.

I was very much looking forward to the next bourbon.

A representative at Hi-Spirits Ireland – a distribution company handling the Sazerac, Buffalo Trace portfolio – reached out to donate some liquid for the Blind Tasting. Much appreciated.

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Barton 1792 full collapse c/oCourier-Journal

The bottle in question also happened to hail from the Barton 1792 Distillery which recently suffered a rickhouse collapse causing much loss of bourbon & property. Although thankfully no injuries.

1792 Small Batch Bourbon.

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1792 Small Batch Bourbon c/othewhiskeynut

Again – much like the Brothership – this was a whiskey in 2 halves.

To begin with a rich, deep vanilla & burnt caramel coated the mouth leading you into a drier, cinnamon spice rye body which finished in a delightfully playful prickly heat. This ‘high rye’ bourbon pleased all present – although there was no clear overall winner on the night before the bottles were revealed. Beautiful bourbon indeed.

The final offering was more of a fun product.

Buffalo Trace White Dog Rye Mash.

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Buffalo Trace White Dog c/othewhiskeynut

This is the American equivalent of Irish Poitin. Raw un-aged whiskey.

At 62.5% this White Dog certainly packed a punch – yet was extremely palatable & very enjoyable. That familiar – slightly sour – new make nose, the oiliness on first tasting proceeding to a soft dry rye spice rounded the evening off with a bang.

Sláinte.

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My thanks to Sean’s Bar Athlone for hosting the event.

Thanks also to Hi-Spirits Ireland for the kind donation of some fabulous bottles.

If you are interested in sampling any of the above contact either Whiskey Nut –  westmeathwhiskeyworld@eircom.net – or Sean’s Bar itself – to arrange.

 

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Cider, 5.5%

Having reviewed a Jim Beam non whiskey product – it’s only fair – and in the interests of impartiality – that I feature a Jack Daniel’s non whiskey product too.

Well – I say non whiskey – as this cider is a blend of  ‘Crisp Apple Cider’ with some of Jack’s Tennessee Whiskey.

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It’s Jack – but not Bourbon! c/othewhiskeynut

I don’t mind a cider now and then – especially on a warm summers evening – but I must admit to preferring a dry style of cider – not too sweet either – so I approached this bottle with none too high expectations.

Both Jack & Jim allow their logo’s to be used on many a product. It’s a great way to promote the brand. But often that product bears no relevance or connection to the original bourbons which are the core expressions of those brands.

Jack’s Cider poured clean & fresh.

It was very pale in colour.  The nose was definitely cider. A bit of dry apple mixed in with enough of a hint of bourbon to give a lift to the experience.

The taste was satisfyingly refreshing. Not too sweet. That crisp dry apple coming through and combining gently with that sticky sweetness associated with a pour of Old No. 7.

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Smooth sippin’ c/othewhiskeynut

There’s no real complexity here. It’s a simple bourbon infused cider. But it does exactly what it says on the label & certainly appealed to me as a refreshing alternative to a whiskey on a balmy warm night.

Heck!

If this summer heatwave continues I might be tempted to indulge in a little more ‘smooth sippin’ courtesy of Jack!

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Jim Beam Bourbon Whiskey Potato Chips

You never know what you might find down the aisles of your local German discount store – like Jim Beam Crisps?

I just had to try them.

Manufactured in Devon, England, these chips proudly proclaim to have no added colouring or artificial flavours. Often something many a whiskey brand cannot boast.

Obviously I had to pair them with a decent pour of bourbon – and sat back to enjoy the experience in the fabulous weather.

Well, the crisps do have a wonderfully savoury, meaty, BBQ-y thing going on. Without all the heat, mess & subsequent clean up of a real BBQ. I just didn’t detect any Jim Beam influence – other than the logo on the packet.

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Back label info c/othewhiskeynut

They did however compliment the sweet vanilla & caramel notes of the actual bourbon.

Quite a nice pairing indeed!

Both parties brought out & enhanced the flavours of each other to combine into an even better & enjoyable experience.

Savoury & sweet at it’s best.

My suggestion is to get yours soon before the bourbon tariffs kick in. Although I’m not sure that will affect the crisps that much.

Sláinte.

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The Scotch Whisky juggernaut is running out of road.

All is not well in Scotch Whisky.

The fastest growing whisky making countries in the world do not include Scotland.

They do include Ireland, Japan and Canada.

So Scotch Whisky chooses to attack these countries in a series of articles and posts across various media platforms.

The common thread in all these articles revolves around the fact these countries manufacture and market their own whiskies in a manner not compliant with Scottish Whisky Association (SWA) rules.

Now I don’t know about you – but I must have missed the meeting when it was decided SWA rules applied worldwide. It shows a complete lack of respect for those countries indigenous rules, customs and practices.

The fact customers are seeking out those countries whisky products obviously means it has nothing to do with the rules – it must be something else.

Whisky from it’s very inception has never been about the rules.

Whisky has a long tradition and rich historical vein of tales involving illicit poitin & moonshine distillation, smugglers avoiding the gaugers on Highland trails and bootlegging during prohibition to name a few. It’s in the very DNA of what whisky is and has shaped the development of the spirit to this day.

Perhaps it’s about the taste?

Perhaps Scotch’s strict adherence to the rules comes at the expense of new and exciting tastes?

Perhaps those customers boosting non-Scotch making expression sales are seeking out those new tastes and the rules are not as important as they are made out to be?

I know I certainly am.

But there is an even larger threat looming round the proverbial corner. It’s a threat not of Scotch Whisky’s making.

Brexit.

Now the Scotch Whisky juggernaut needs a lot of space to manoeuver. It’s a cumbersome beast with it’s own inertia and inflexibility. It may not be able to negotiate the tricky corners ahead.

The Irish, Japanese and Canadian vehicles are smaller, more adaptable & nimble. They might be better equipped to handle the twists and turns thrown up by Brexit – as well as the US tariff fiasco.

The irony of Britain leaving Europe – and Scotch Whisky’s biggest market too – as it did not want to be dictated to by Brussels whilst Scottish Whisky tries to dictate to some of it’s competitors.

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Brexit Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

I think I’ll have to have a glass of Brexit Whiskey – a proudly non SWA rule produced very tasty Austrian Whiskey – and ponder over Rabbie Burn’s famous words;

‘O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.’

From where I’m sitting it isn’t looking pretty.

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Ballyhoo! Irish Whiskey, 43%, Single Grain.

Ballyhoo!

There are various interpretations of ballyhoo on the web, publicity, frivolity or fun. They can all be distilled to one attractive package for me however.

Ballyhoo!

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Ballyhoo Irish Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

An Irish Whiskey released by the Connacht Whiskey Company of Ballina, County Mayo. There isn’t much information on the very attractive black bottle with distinctive embossed silver labelling – but a trip to their website here reveals a bit more.

Ballyhoo!

A single grain Irish Whiskey made with a 93% corn 7% malted barley mix distilled in a Coffey still at one un-named Irish whiskey distillery. Connacht haven’t been around long enough to release their own whiskey – yet – so this sourced grain is made elsewhere & finished in port casks at Connacht’s own facility.

Ballyhoo!

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Ballyhoo! c/othewhiskeynut

Grain whiskey doesn’t have the allure of it’s stablemate malt – which is a pity. Grain is the very backbone of the modern whiskey industry. Up to 90% of all whiskey sold worldwide contains grain as part of the mix in blended whiskey. Showcasing the best grain whiskey has to offer is always welcome in my book.

Ballyhoo!

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She got legs! c/othewhiskeynut

Pouring a glass it quickly becomes apparent this is an extremely pale whiskey. A decent amount of legs are also present. Both signifiers that no added caramel nor chill filtration have been used in this expression. Very commendable.

Ballyhoo!

At only 4 years old this is a young, fresh grain whiskey.

The nose is gentle & sweetly attractive. Soft vanillas combine with an enticing floral bouquet which probably emanates from the rather unusual – and possibly unique for a grain whiskey – port cask finish.

Ballyhoo!

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Tuath Glass & Ballyhoo! c.othewhiskeynut

It’s very mild in the mouth. No rough edges here. A bit of corn influence, that sweet grainy lightness builds with deeper notes from the combined bourbon barrel maturation & port cask finish in a perfectly balanced mix.

Ballyhoo!

There is no complexity here. A very easy, simple, smooth & eminently attractive grain whiskey that slowly fades to a pleasingly warm finish.

Ballyhoo!

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Connacht Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Whiskey as it should be.

Fun, frivolous, tasty, naturally coloured & non chill filtered.

It certainly floats my boat.

Ballyhoo!

An album by Echo & The Bunnymen. Their song Bedbugs & Ballyhoo is the perfect accompaniment to this delightful grain whiskey.

Sit back, enjoy the sounds & savour the taste.

Let the gentleness wash all over you.

Slàinte.

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Feckin Irish Whiskey, 40%, Blend

It’s Feckin Irish Whiskey.

It’s  a feckin blend.

As such it probably has added feckin caramel & is feckin chill filtered.

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St Feckin who? c/othewhiskeynut

But it has a lovely soft & smooth delivery.

It’s a feckin decent blend.

Go order a Feckin Irish Whiskey at your local bar.

I won’t be held feckin responsible for any consequences arising.

Sláinte.

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Brexit Whiskey, No Single Malt, 43.3%

Brexit is more of an aspirational idea rather than a clearly thought out plan for Britain to leave the European Union.

No one knows what the future will be like in this new Europe – with or without the UK.

Meanwhile in Austria – Gölles Distillery had a clearly thought out plan.

They grew and harvested 5 types of grain in fields around their distillery. Barley, wheat, rye, corn and spelt.

They double distilled the mash in copper pot stills which they have been using since the 1980’s.

And they matured the spirit in a variety of  casks for 4 to 13 years.

They brought their plan to fruition and delivered.

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Brexit Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

I give you Brexit Whiskey.

They make no bones this isn’t a copycat Scottish style of single malt.

They make a big play of the differences. This is a European whiskey. Scottish Whisky Association rules do not apply here.

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No Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

This whiskey has provenance & terroir in abundance. There is no chill filtration and no added caramel. Something sadly lacking in many big brands.

So what does it taste  like?

Well – Austria really.

It’s very earthy.  There is a complex mix of aromas from the grains used – but for me a soft rye spice rises from the sweet corn & wheat base to entice me in.

A barley smoothness greats you on tasting – where again that dry rye presence makes itself known. Quite what the spelt adds to the mix I don’t know – I’ve never encountered it before in a whiskey – but there is an earthy almost grounded quality to the taste.

A lot of time can be spent musing over the nose, taste & finish of this delightfully complex whiskey trying to figure out which grains adds their own distinctive notes to the final mix.

Kind of sums up what the European Union project was all about. Trying to harmonise together variety & difference in an enjoyable mix.

That’s an admirable idea which certainly has been captured in this bottle of Brexit Whiskey.

Some people might see Britain’s Brexit as a rejection of the European Union – they in turn might also reject Scottish Whisky.

If Brexit Whiskey is anything to go by – I’ll be saying Goodbye Johnny!

 

Sláinte.

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