All posts by Whiskey Nut

Exploring the world of whiskey from Westmeath, Plus other spirits too!

The Brollach, Single Malt, 46.45%

There was a highly unexpected & very pleasant surprise entry into the Irish Whiskey Awards 2021.

The Brollach.

Tasted blind in the Cask Strength category The Brollach scored well on my palate.

It shared joint 2nd – along with 2 other offerings.

Perhaps it’s 46.45% presentation gave it an advantage over higher strength whiskey where I often find the flavours blown away.

As it is the only thing that blew me away was the price – €5,500!

Sláinte

All images courtesy Craft Irish Whiskey Co

Carlos I, Solera Gran Reserva, Brandy de Jerez, 40%

My wife brought me back this miniature from Spain a few years ago.

Never got round to tasting it – until now.

Plummy sweet nose with a solid earthy feel.

Sweet & easy palate with a slight nuttiness.

Lovely turn of earthy spice on the rear.

Beats any brandy I’ve had before!

One to sip & savour.

Sláinte

Irish Whiskey Awards 2021, My Blind Judging Results

The Irish Whiskey Awards 2021 were held – in person – at the wonderful Powerscourt Distillery.

Limited capacity excluded my attendance – but I did contribute my blind judging results for the awards.

Blind judging is a great leveller.

Presented before you are identical vials – codes are used to identify the whiskey inside.

Blind judging c/othewhiskeynut

No logos, no back stories, no information as to distillery of origin or casks used, no fancy bottle or labelling, not even whether you’re tasting single malt, grain or blended whiskey.

Just the vials, a glass & your palate.

It’s the most transparent & honest way to explore the flavours of the whiskey before you.

For 2021 I received 3 packs of whiskey for scoring – I, L & B – & didn’t attempt to guess the category or whiskey sampled so as to concentrate on the flavours & differences between each offering.

The reveal – always after the awards evening – gives an insight into my palate preferences.

Category I – Single Malts 12 to 15 Years

Consisting of 12 entrants my average score was 72.5 with a difference of 6.

I found these to be variations of a common theme – not surprising as only 3 or 4 distilleries were producing back in 2009 or earlier – with very tight scoring.

There was a winner,

Jack Ryan Founder’s Touch

With 4 sharing 2nd spot only 1 point behind – Tullamore DEW 12, Gelson’s 12, Pearse 12 Founder’s Reserve & Lough Ree Bridge Series Elfleet Bay.

The actual Award winner was Gelston’s 15 – which came below average in my scores.

Category L – Cask Strength

8 entrants, average score 73.8, difference 6.

Again a lack of diversity with tight scoring.

My winner was,

Dark Silkie Cask Strength

I didn’t detect the peat influence yet it obviously mattered as Dark Silkie was 2 points ahead of the trio that came 2nd – Natterjack CS, Teeling Fill Your Own SPS & a surprise entrant, The Brollach.

Award winner Dunville’s PX 12 CS again was below average.

Category B – Blended, Limited Release

12 entrants, average score 75.9, difference 12.

This category pleased me no end! A more diverse & entertaining array of whiskey resulted in higher overall scores.

A clear winning podium produced,

The Whistler, Calvados Cask

As winner with stablemate Whistler Imperial Stout 2nd & Pearse Marriage Of Malts 3rd.

Award winner was Writer’s Tears Ice Wine Cask.

Thoughts

Congratulations to all the IWA 2021 winners.

They have captured the popular tasting profiles of the judges participating & are clearly crowd pleasers.

They are however not my palate choices. None of the winners broke beyond my averages scores.

By presenting my winners I’m being honest & transparent as to what tickles my tastebuds.

The blended limited release category offered me a far greater diversity & heightened enjoyment all round.

Given too that almost all my winners used sourced product it suggests to me more attention is given to the blending & maturation process over distillation techniques by the brands involved.

These scoring results are also reflected in the content of my blog.

Everyone’s palate is unique & one person’s winners might be another’s losers.

Enjoy what pleases your palate & don’t be afraid to say so.

I enjoy blended whiskey best!

Sláinte

Bottle images courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop & Sliabh Liag Distillers.

Foxes Bow Irish Whiskey , 43%, Blend

There’s a bright new shiny brand of Irish Whiskey from Limerick creating a few waves.

Using artwork designed by a local illustrator Foxes Bow strikes a bold, fresh & contemporary pose – and that’s only the bottle label!

So what of the liquid?

Positively sparkles on my palate!

A light, clean & fresh nose offers up hints of peppery spice.

Smooth mouth coating palate.

Dries out towards the finish but leaves a fruity juiciness gently fading away too.

The bourbon cask maturation with Oloroso & Rye barrel finishing has created a highly entertaining blend with an engaging array of flavours to tease out.

Very enjoyable!

Sláinte

All images courtesy Foxes Bow website & social media.

Púca Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey, 40%

The mischievous spirits of Púca Irish Whiskey made a welcome return to the shelves of Aldi.

In addition to the original blend, a single pot still variety has appeared.

Light golden brown in colour, I found a sweet malt biscuity aroma greeting me.

Soft & smooth mouthfeel leading to a flourish of signature single pot still spice livening up the finish.

Very pleasant.

You’ll have to move fast to catch these elusive spirits however.

Only 2 were left on the shelf of my local Aldi!

Sláinte

All images taken by Whiskey Nut in the local Aldi.

San Cosme Joven, 40%, Mezcal

A few years ago I happened to be in Gothenburg.

We were visiting friends.

An evenings meal was arranged in the popular area of Haga where many bars & restaurants abound.

San Cosme c/oMasterOfMalt

Looking for something different to drink a San Cosme Mezcal was on the menu.

Being a Joven it was clear in colour – yet rich in flavour.

Still to encounter a Mezcal in any Irish restaurant I’ve visited.

Sláinte

Fear, Paranoia & Tasting By Numbers In The Spirits Category.

There appears to be a palpable fear within the spirits drinking community.

Fear of being ‘gouged’ or ‘ripped off’ by rogue producers.

Paranoia that brands aren’t being ‘honest and transparent’ in refusing to disclose every conceivable nugget of information.

Refusing to taste a spirit until the correct check list;

Trusted distillery – check.

Non chill filtered – check.

Single Malt – check.

Cask Strength – check.

Distillery release – check.

Or whatever criteria you choose has been adhered to.

It’s all so reductionist.

Taste is not defined by what is – or isn’t – written on the side of a bottle.

Taste isn’t made by engaging tweets or larger than life characters.

Taste is the complex interplay of the individual drinkers palate with the fruits of the raw ingredients, distilling process, blending & maturation regimes of the liquid before them.

Someone’s ‘amber nectar’ is another’s ‘gnat’s piss’.

What if all that extraneous information was removed?

What if all bottles of spirits simply stated the legal minimum?

No branding, no advertising, no stories?

Would the spirit taste the same?

Well – yes and no.

Yes in that the liquid – and your palate – remains the same.

Having blind tasted whiskey for the Irish Whiskey Awards over a number of years a familiar pattern of brands & styles consistently rise to the top.

On the other hand slick advertising, where & whom with you taste the liquid as well as your mood on the day can all sway the results.

But is there another fear at play?

Fear of enjoying a drink that is deemed unpopular?

Fear of enjoying a spirit that hasn’t matched your check list?

Or simply a fear of not conforming?

You don’t have to like the popular brands or top sellers.

Just enjoy what works for your individual palate.

Above all – enjoy the journey.

Sample & taste as far and wide as possible – you’ll quickly find your own sweet spot.

Sláinte

All images authors own.

Flight Of The Earls, Irish Whiskey, 40% to 63.48%

When Red Earl first appeared with it’s cartoon like imagery it was somewhat overlooked.

c/o TinyTipple

Now available in 4 differing styles. – with varying images too – The Flight of the Earls make for a striking posse of whiskey.

It’s about time I discovered the flavours behind the brand – so ordered up a tasting pack from Tiny Tipple.

Red Earl, 40%

A blend aged in bourbon, sherry & rioja casks.

Warm, inviting & fruity sweet nose. Juicy mouthfeel with a lip smacking finish.

A lovely well balanced flavoursome blend.

c/o KinsaleSpiritCo

Great Earl, 40%

A single grain aged in recharred & virgin oak barrels, finished in Sangiovese casks.

A dry, clean & clear nose. The wine influence makes it’s presence felt on the palate followed by a lovely frisson of oaky spice on the rear.

Nice!

c/o KinsaleSpiritCo

Spanish Earl, 43%

A single malt matured in bourbon casks & finished in rum & stout casks.

Yum yum – a juicy depth to this one! Rich maltiness on the palate with a solid backbone of darker delights. Opens up further on the finish with a spicy prickle, soft hints of roastiness & an engaging dryness.

Red Earl, Cask Strength, 63.48%

A cask strength version of the Red Earl blend.

Despite the high ABV the nose is still inviting – with just a suggestion of high alcohol presence. The triple cask maturation notes roll over each other in a wonderful flourish of flavour – before a drying hit of alcohol kicks in with an explosion of power.

I don’t subscribe to the notion cask strength is automatically superior to 40% – but Red Earl CS wears it well.

Thoughts

The Flight of Earls impressed me.

Full of flavour, full of style & a hearty bunch of characters too.

The pale colour of the quartet also points to a lack of added caramel.

It’s a delight to taste them all back to back to explore both the differences – & similarities – that run through the collection.

It’s hard to pick a winner from this flight of beauties – but for me the ease of drinking, clarity of flavours & enjoyable flair on the finish – I’m giving it to Great Earl.

What would you choose?

Sláinte

Images authors own unless stated.

Rince Cochon Biere, 7.5% to 8.5%, Belgium

Belgium is a beer lovers paradise.

The sheer variety of styles on offer & – from my limited experience – high quality results are a delight to explore.

So when some buddies suggest bringing a few back to Ireland – you don’t refuse.

The garishly coloured yet striking selection pack from Difcom – a beer distributer based in France – were unknown territory for me but did include a Biere Whisky – so a few were opened.

Rince Cochon Biere Blonde, 8.5%

The Rince Cochon range sport a cheeky pig – in a variety of colours – and are all high strength offerings.

Biere Blonde displayed a lovely rich malty nose, deeply flavoured palate yet still ‘lagery’ attitude in an eminently quaffable easily over drunk 8.5% ABV.

Nice!

Rince Cochon Biere Whisky, 8.5%

Light golden brown – like whisky with bubbles!

The nose offered soft sweet notes of treacle.

The carbonation on tasting proved too much for me & blew away the rather muted flavours within. Even leaving it stand for a short while didn’t improve matters.

A tad disappointing.

Rince Cochon Biere Rouge, 7.5%

Ribena red! Wasn’t expecting that.

Fruity & very sweet nose flowed into a drinking experience I can only liken to imbibing a liquid pack of fruit pastilles.

Now this style is popular in Belgium – but plainly doesn’t work for me.

Thoughts

Only Biere Blonde pleased me.

On closer – geeky – inspection a few things emerged.

The use of sugar – to boost ABV – & natural flavouring rather than allow taste to emanate from the raw ingredients took these beers in a direction both my palate & ethos didn’t particularly enjoy.

It’s fun to experiment however & I’m glad of the opportunity to taste far & wide.

Even if only to confirm my palate preferences!

Sláinte

All images authors own.