Category Archives: American Whiskey

Blind Sample Tasting

Blind tasting.

You – the whiskey – your palate.

No transparency – no openness – no labels.

What could possibly go wrong?

2 (1 of 1) (4)
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.

2 (1 of 1)-2 (2)
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

2 (1 of 1)-3
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

Good Logo

A trip down memory lane in North London & new whiskeys.

I decided to revisit some of my old drinking dens of times past & enjoy a few whiskeys along the way.

The High Cross, Tottenham N17

How could I resist this?

A recently opened micro bar in an elegantly designed 1920’s public toilet that I can’t recall ever using – despite living round the corner for years – but do remember passing daily.

It looks the same on the outside. You enter via the ‘LADIES’ – which is a little disconcerting being a man – and behold a white tiled space replete with chunky wooden tables & chairs. The bijou bar at the ‘GENTLEMEN’ end of the building offers a good selection of local craft beers, assorted spirits & a tasty range of wholesome bar food.

2 (1 of 1)-2
I’ll have a Nikka. c/othewhiskeynut

Spotting a Nikka From The Barrel on the top shelf I went for it.

Nice!

This blended whisky drew me in with clean & fresh flavours offering decent depth & complexity – with a bit of bite from the 51.4% ABV too.

I’d happily have this one again.

The Beehive, Tottenham, N17

2 (1 of 1)-3
The Beehive, N17 c/othewhiskeynut

It’s probably around 30 years since I last had a drink in the Beehive.

I remember a traditional bar with carpeted floors, comfy sofas & polished wooden tables leading to a grassy beer garden.

I found a bare wooden floored open space – filling up with Spurs fans – leading to a concreted patio adorned with large sports screens.

Ah well – change is the only constant in London.

2 (1 of 1)-4
Single Barrel please. c/othewhiskeynut

From the small whiskey selection Four Roses Single Barrel made my glass – or rather plastic cup – Spurs were playing.

Now Four Roses haven’t exactly bowled me over. Their entry Bourbon is decent enough – and this Single Barrel did boost the flavour experience with it’s higher ABV & higher rye content.

2 (1 of 1)-12
Four Roses Bourbon c/othewhiskeynut

Just not enough character to enthrall me.

I toyed with The Ship – but the pre-match crowds were getting larger – so a short bus ride to Wood Green & a spot of lunch set me up for an invigorating walk up to the magnificent Ally Pally with it’s panoramic view over North London.

The Phoenix Bar, Alexandra Palace, N22

2 (1 of 1)-5
The Phoenix @ Ally Pally c/othewhiskeynut

It felt like I’d just been taken back to the time my better half – now wife – and I spent an anxious few hours here over 20 years ago. All our worldly possessions were in a transit van nearby awaiting the exchange of contracts allowing us to move into our first flat down in Turnpike Lane at the foot – almost – of the wooded slopes beyond the fine windows of this very establishment.

A Dewar’s White Label was ordered.

Having just been introduced to the delights of Dewar’s 12 Year Old Ancestor blend – a lovely balanced example of peated Scotch – the White Label was rather more basic.

2 (1 of 1)-11
An aged blend. c/othewhiskeynut

Aged – in this instance – is better.

The Great Northern Railway Tavern, Hornsey, N8

2 (1 of 1)-10
The Great Northern c/othewhiskeynut

A fine venue to round off the day.

I found it poignant to be in London celebrating a 60th entering a bar where a memorable 30th was had by one sadly departed.

The Great Northern has had a facelift since then. Gone was the sticky carpet & shoddy armchairs. In was a sleek craft beer selection & fine foods with varnished floors & comfy seating.

The whiskey choice was a bit thin though.

2 (1 of 1) (2)
Peat Monster c/othewhiskeynut

I’d previously enjoyed a wonderful Compass Box here – but made do with Jura 10 this time.

A soft smudge of peat over a sweet caramelly base just didn’t cut it with me.

Never mind – It’s all part of the rich tapestry of life.

Bar of The Day – High Cross.

Whiskey of The Day – Nikka From The Barrel.

Sláinte

Good Logo

 

 

 

 

Brand Ambassador Tasting, Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder, The Afters.

This blog comes to you with the musical accompaniment of LCD Soundsystem.

I’m Losing My Edge.

Usually on encountering a wall of whiskey I’d be choosing bottles I’ve not tasted before but in this instance – an old favourite was proffered up by the Hi-Spirits rep.

Michael Collins Blend, 40%

2 (1 of 1)-2 (2)
Michael Collins Blend c/othewhiskeynut

An easy going well balanced & honeyed blend from a few years ago.

Sadly discontinued during the Beam takeover of Cooley/Kilbeggan – there are rumors new brand owners Sazerac are going to revitalize it.

I’d be pleased to welcome it’s return.

My last encounter was with the distinctive ‘baseball bat’ bottle – redesigned into the beautifully labeled one above.

DSCF5459 email
My empty Micheal Collins Blend c/othewhiskeynut

I’m Losing My Edge.

UnTamed 63.8%

2 (1 of 1) (2)
The Wild Geese UnTamed c/othewhiskeynut

Ever since giving UnTamed category winner in the Cask Strength offerings of my blind Irish Whiskey Awards 2019 judging session  – I’d yet to meet it in the wild.

It didn’t give much away on the nose.

Initially the flavours were soft, sweet & gentle before an explosion of alcohol hit the palate. Yet those gloriously tasty remnants faded slowly away on the long finish.

I’d vote for it again.

I’m Losing My Edge.

Last orders – FEW Bourbon 46.5%

2 (1 of 1)-3 (2)
FEW Bourbon c/othewhiskeynut

Searching the wall of whiskey for something suitable – FEW Bourbon caught my eye.

I’d enjoyed their FEW Rye – polished off previously.

DSCF7369 email
FEW Rye c/othewhiskeynut

I liked their ‘remembering’ of Francis Elizabeth Willard– a key campaigner in the temperance movement of America – as well as votes for women and anti-lynching.

And I liked the young & fresh combination of flavours within this bourbon.

Only when I checked my tasting list did I discover I’ve had it before!

I’m Losing My Edge – But I Was There!

And I need to get back there to the Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder and enjoy a tasty trio of whiskey I’ve yet to meet!

Slàinte

Good Logo

 

Brand Ambassador Tasting, Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder, The American Collection.

Following on from the 6 Irish offerings were 2 American Whiskeys courtesy Hi-Spirits Ireland distributors.

Colonel EH Taylor, Small Batch, 50%

2 (1 of 1)-2
The Colonel c/othewhiskeynut

An extremely well crafted & balanced bourbon. A few not familiar with this category were impressed. Clearly their previous drinking experiences hadn’t matched the quality of EH Taylor.

Using an undisclosed mash bill – #1 for those interested – of corn, rye & malted barley from the mighty Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky – this Bottled In Bond offering displays the tasty highlights bourbon can attain.

A delight to meet it’s acquaintance.

1792 Full Proof 63.5%

2 (1 of 1)-3
Full Proof c/othewhiskeynut

Not many in Ireland may have had the pleasure of tasting 1792, but they might recall the disastrous rickhouse collapse at the Barton 1792 Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky where this fine bourbon hails from.

The Full Proof version at a stonking 63.5% is not for the fainthearted.

There is an explosion of taste & flavour followed by an even bigger explosion of alcohol as it literally ‘booms’ on the palate.

Using the same high rye mash bill as the 1792 Small Batch I’d enjoyed at a 4th July tasting in Sean’s Bar, Athlone – Full Proof achieved cult status after Jim Murray gave it Whisky Of The Year in his 2020 Whisky Bible.

Fantastic to have sampled Full Proof, – yet for easy drinking without the high strength drama- Small Batch is still a winner for me.

2 (1 of 1)-18
Small Batch c/othewhiskeynut

If you’re ever in Sean’s – drop me a line – perhaps we might put it to the test?

Slàinte

Good Logo

Seven Stills, Czar Whiskey, 47%

This was too good to miss.

A random whiskey photo on Twitter caught my eye.

2 (1 of 1)
c/o@AyeWhisky

Just what was Czar?

After a bit of messaging & a whiskey swap – the Czar was mine!

2 (1 of 1)-3
Czar sample! c/othewhiskeynut

I got stuck in.

Golden brown colour with very thick legs.

Odd beery nose. Almost a sweet fresh hoppiness coming through.

Very smooth on the palate.

The floral hoppiness continued mid palate before developing a heavier coffee element.

An agreeable growing prickly heat rounds up the experience leaving a touch of tingling on the tongue.

2 (1 of 1)-2
Czar Whiskey c/o@AyeWhisky

Turns out it’s a whiskey made from a Russian Imperial Stout emanating from the combined Seven Stills Brewery & Distillery of San Francisco.

I’m loving the experimentation.

Extremely entertaining & very engaging.

Whiskey like I’ve never encountered before.

Sláinte

Good Logo

Czar Whiskey sample plus credited photos courtesy @AyeWhisky

Clyde May’s Alabama Style Whiskey, 42.5% & Straight Rye, 47%

You never know what you might find at Whiskey Live Dublin.

2 (1 of 1)
c/othewhiskeynut

I had intended to try some Scotch – but an amadán had decided to vape in the toilets & set off the fire alarms.

No joy there.

I missed out on Japanese too

Beam Suntory’s Toki offering had vanished – but I did try their soon to be released Kilbeggan Single Pot Still with 3% oats in the mix. Creamy & spicy all at the same time. Although I did struggle to fully appreciate what the oats brought to the whiskey in such a brief encounter.

2 (1 of 1)-25
McConnells of Belfast c/othewhiskeynut

The parent company behind Belfast’s McConnell’s release had an interesting trio of American Whiskeys however. Attractively presented & branded as Clyde May’s the Alabama Style Whiskey caught my eye.

What is Alabama Style?

2 (1 of 1)-27 crop
Alabama Style Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Turns out something to do with adding dried apples to the barrel. A look online provided a better insight here. I did get a fresh fruitiness on the nose.

Offered at 42.5% this was a decent full bodied whiskey I’d like to enjoy more off.

The Straight Rye also pleased me. A good balance of dry peppery spice with a wholesome body to boot.

2 (1 of 1)-27 rye
Clyde May’s Straight Rye c/othewhiskeynut

Both are sourced from Kentucky – but brand owners Conecuh are building a distillery of their own in Alabama.

Now that is a joy!

SlàinteGood Logo

A Pair of WhistlePigs For 4th July, 50% & 43%, Rye

I received this lovely looking duo of ryes courtesy of Axiom Brands – many thanks.

Being a self confessed rye head WhistlePig loomed large yet had always eluded me.

Now was my chance to try them out.

First the controversy.

To begin with WhistlePig didn’t distill their own rye. They bought a load of Canadian Rye destined to be used in blending, shipped it across the border & finished it to WhistlePig’s own requirements at their Vermont Farm.

Having built up a bit of a following & brand recognition they latterly distill their own rye made from grain grown on the farm, aged in oak trees from Vermont & cut with water from the farm well.

Some folks have a problem with this.

I don’t.

To me it makes sound business sense being able to sell sourced product before your own matures. It also allows experimentation & a growing knowledge in handling the spirit in advance of committing even more money into building a distillery.

But what really interests me is how it tastes.

So let’s go!

2 (1 of 1)-2
WhistlePig Straight Rye 10yo c/othewhiskeynut

WhistlePig 10 Year Old, Straight Rye, 50%

Very marginally paler than the 12yo.

Classic peppery rye spice on the nose yet balanced & nuanced with the decade in oak.

A powerful rye hit on tasting. The balance has gone as rye spices shine through with added tannins in the mix leading to a long lasting dry finish.

A no nonsense take no prisoners brute of a rye.

2 (1 of 1)-3
WhistlePig Old World Rye 12yo c/othewhiskeynut

WhistlePig 12 Year Old, Old World Rye, 43%

Can I detect a slightly darker hue to this one?

The rye spices have taken on a more rounded, almost perfumed nose. Makes me want to jump in!

Softer on the palate, even creamy to begin with, before it reminds you this is a rye with that classic dry peppery spice slowly growing in intensity.

A more balanced & complex rye that benefits from it’s ageing in Madeira, Sauternes & Port Casks.

Preferred Rye?

The ‘in yer face’ honesty of the 10 or the complexity of the 12?

Both have their good points – but on balance – the Old World 12 piques my interest the most.

The novel triple cask approach adds depth & variety to the classic rye canon.

I look forward to tasting more from WhistlePig.

Sláinte

Good Logo

 

McAfee’s Benchmark, Old No 8 Kentucky Straight Bourbon, 40%

As it’s National Bourbon Day I thought I’d celebrate by cracking open a bottle that’s been sitting in my cupboard for some time.

When I first bought this bourbon I knew nothing about it.

2 (1 of 1)-12
Old No 8 c/othewhiskeynut

My original impression was that as it has a large 8 emblazoned on the label it must be a step up from the 7 on a bottle of Jack?

DSCF7375 email
Old No. 7 c/othewhiskeynut

And on eventually getting round to a tasting – it certainly did satisfy my palate more.

A lovely golden hue complete with decent legs graced the Túath glass on a pour. Being a ‘straight‘ bourbon guarantees no added caramel in the mix.

Soft and gentle on the palate to begin with, the flavours & heat slowly grew in intensity giving a good showing of vanillas & sweet caramel mixed with darker hints of tobacco and a lovely growing spice towards the end.

For me the finish was the best bit.

The spiciness – suggestive of a decent rye percentage in the mashbill – slowly dried out leaving a gentle prickliness in the mouth – which I enjoy.

2 (1 of 1)-11
McAfee’s Benchmark c/othewhiskeynut

Being an entry level bourbon – Benchmark is appropriately named as it does provide an exceedingly pleasing drinking experience from which other bourbons can be compared.

Only after I purchased this bottle did I find out it’s part of the Buffalo Trace portfolio from Kentucky.

Interestingly it shares the same mashbill as Buffalo Trace itself – along with the more aged Eagle Rare & George T Stagg offerings!

The only differences are the time spent in the barrel – they are all virgin american oak remember with the same char level – and which part of the rickhouse they were stored in during maturity.

2 (1 of 1)-11 (2)
The 2017 Antique Collection – fabulous! c/othewhiskeynut

Having tasted the Eagle Rare 17 Year Old 2017 release at Whiskey Live Dublin – it would be folly to compare the 2 bourbons – but you can appreciate the solid foundations of the young Benchmark that with added maturity grew into the stunning Eagle Rare 17.

But then my local O’Briens only stocked Benchmark!

Sláinte

Good Logo

 

 

 

 

Jack Daniel’s Rye, 45%

I’m a big fan of rye.

The dry peppery spice, the warm mouth feel & the little kick of prickly heat all entice me.

I’d heard Jack Daniel’s had a rye at the Slane Distillery opening. Being a Brown-Forman distillery all the reps were over for the shindig & being a little tipsy – I got chatting to them.

Always keen to try out a new rye – I happened to spot this bottle travelling back from France at a very reasonable sub €30 price tag.

2 (1 of 1)
Rye, Mellowed & Matured c/othewhiskeynut

How could I resist?

Now this is a rather no frills, no nonsense, straight down the line offering.

It has that classic dry peppery nose – yet softened & more rounded by the ‘charcoal mellowing method’ JD uses in all it’s products.

2 (1 of 1)-2
Tennessee Rye c/othewhiskeynut

It takes a while to get going – before a gently growing spicy flourish develops.

A pleasant prickly heat fades away towards the finale.

Even at 45% – this is an easy approachable rye that demonstrates the pleasures of that particular grain.

There’s not much complexity or depth to it – but for the cost – it delivers.

Slàinte

Good Logo

Manchester Whiskey Adventures

It wasn’t planned.

I was supposed to be revising for an exam – but the Teeling Small Batch on the Aer Lingus flight only reacquainted myself with this lovely little blend & provided a taster for what was unknowingly to come.

2 (1 of 1) (2)
In flight entertainment! c/othewhiskeynut

After checking into the city centre hotel – a quick read over the course book – it was out for a wander to visit the Whiskey Jar pub.

2 (1 of 1)
Whiskey a plenty! c/othewhiskeynut

The promise of 400+ whiskies to whet my appetite accompanied by a tasty pie for the late Sunday afternoon lunch sounded too good to miss.

On entering I was taken aback!

Gathered in the pub were a clutch of whiskey companies displaying their wares.

Woo Hoo!


A small cover charge – along with a tasting glass – had me at the first stall.

Heaven Hill.

2 (1 of 1)-3 (2)
Fighting Cock Fighting Whiskey! c/othewhiskeynut

Now any company that puts out a bottle called Fighting Cock emblazoned with a fiery red rooster just calls out for a tasting!

At 51.5% this high rye bourbon packs a lively spicy punch on the nose.

It followed through with rich warming vanilla & caramel in a mouth filling flavour explosion.

My kinda bourbon.

The rep guided me onto the Rittenhouse Rye.

2 (1 of 1)-5
Straight Rye c/othewhiskeynut

A much more cultured well balanced offering than the beast that is Fighting Cock.

In the interests of exploration Mellow Corn also hit my palate.

2 (1 of 1)-4
Mellow in name but not on taste. c/othewhiskeynut

Normally corn wouldn’t be a favourite of mine – but the high ABV – 50% – along with a minimum 2 years in virgin oak casks had imbued this whiskey with some very attractive notes & flavours.

I could be a corn convert with this one!

Old Pulteney were up next.

2 (1 of 1)-11
Where has the boat gone? c/othewhiskeynut

They’ve had a little brand update – new labels & new expressions – I do miss the old fishing boat motif however.

The Huddart NAS – with the peat influence coming from the barrels rather than the barley – was a pleasant little easy peaty sipper.

The 15 year old was well balanced – just lacked a little character – whereas the top of the range 18yo had gained some gorgeous drying woody tannins from the extra years in the cask & pulled me in.

Jameson were on show too.

I had a quick chat with the rep who informed me Whiskey Jar have a monthly whisky showcase which is usually well attended & seems to be growing. Check out the Whiskey Jar link for further events.

2 (1 of 1)-12
A Glenlivet trio. c/othewhiskeynut

Being familiar with the Jameson on show – I was guided to fellow Pernod Ricard brand Glenlivet for a vertical tasting of their core range.

All very grand – but nothing exciting.

Only the Captain’s Reserve had a bit more going on to entice me.

Cotswolds showcased their very enticingly fresh single malt.

Having already polished off a bottle I was just congratulating the rep when this was produced.

2 (1 of 1) (3)
Cotswolds Cask Strength c/othewhiskeynut

A cask strength single malt matured in American Oak which previously contained red wine & has been shaved, toasted and charred too!

It works!

At 60.9% there is no burn on the nose.

It does fill the palate – but the rich flavours shine through in a fabulous frenzy of taste more like a 50% offering!

Dangerous stuff – yet oh so gorgeous.

Without doubt my prize pick of the evening!

For a last pour it was back to Heaven Hill and a shot of Elijah Craig Small Batch.

2 (1 of 1)-13
A cultured bourbon c/othewhiskeynut

Despite being a low rye bourbon this had an attractive spice from the years in virgin charred oak. The rounded complexity of the drinking experience surprised me.

Show over – most of the whisky fans departed.

I settled down to a hot pie washed down with my original intended choice for the evening – English Whisky.

2 (1 of 1)-14
Peated English Whisky? c/othewhiskeynut

Chapter 15’s a heavy peat hitter. I like it for that – but it’s rather one dimensional otherwise.

I got chatting to some other late departees so another pie – and another whiskey – were ordered.

Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye.

2 (1 of 1)-2

Like Chapter 15’s peat – the rye dominated here – but with additional fruity notes too.

Very fresh & enjoyable.

Time to head home – or I should say the hotel bar?

I pondered over a glass of Hibiki Harmony – which sang to me a lot sweeter than on my first encounter – while shooting the breeze with a fellow late night imbiber.

2 (1 of 1)-15
Hibiki Harmony sang sweeter c/othewhiskeynut

A hot mug of tea eventually rounded off my supposedly Sunday afternoon few.

I did make the exam the next morning.

A hearty breakfast works wonders.

WSET Level 2 Spirits – with distinction if you were wondering.

I think the liquid training added to the pleasure!

Sláinte

Good Logo