Category Archives: Blended Whiskey

Three Ships 15 Year Old Pinotage Cask, Blend, 46.2%

I’d heard a lot about the James Sedgwick Distillery in South Africa – mainly positive – so I couldn’t let this opportunity pass.

A glass of Three Ships 15yo was duly ordered in a packed Dick Mac’s pub at Dingle after the fabulous Irish Whiskey Awards 2019 event.

I got chatting with some American tourists – as you do – and they asked a pertinent question.

‘If you’ve heard a lot of good news regarding a whiskey – does that raise your expectations?’

‘Certainly’ I replied ‘But the proof is in the drinking.’

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I saw Three Ships & took a glass. c/othewhiskeynut

So I gave Three Ships a good nosing – and beamed a broad smile.

There was a richness & depth to this whisky that captivated me.

Notes of dark cherries – a juicy fruitiness – the warmth from years in wood and a touch of oaky spice. It reminded me of a good port finish – yet this was a South African Pinotage Wine cask. Works for my palate!

Those dark –  almost heavy notes – followed through into the taste. My mouth burst with flavours before a pleasing punchy alcohol kick set them alight.

The finish had those flavours gently falling back into orbit with a gorgeous warm oaky spice tinged with prickly juiciness.

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Three Ships aft label c/othewhiskeynut

I was so impressed I insisted my American friends took a swig.

They likened the punchy quality to a good rye – no bad thing in my book – although the luscious fruit juiciness of Three Ships was in contradiction to the dry peppery spice of a rye.

Even after tasting the Irish Whiskey Awards winners – this Three Ships 15yo certainly won me over!

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Many thanks to the kindly American tourists for sharing their time & displaying the whisky for my snaps. Hope you had a great time in Ireland.

 

Midleton Very Rare 2019, Blend, 40%

Sonny Molloy’s in Galway certainly know how to throw a party.

This one happened to be the latest release of the revered Midleton Very Rare series – the 2019 bottle.

I missed out on John Wilson’s – the Irish Times wine guru – introduction and only arrived as Brian Nation – Head Distiller at Midleton Distillery – led out the first whiskey of the evening.

Barry Crockett Legacy, Single Pot Still, 46%

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Legacy miniature c/othewhiskeynut

Like meeting an old friend again – this single pot stills greets you with a warm embrace – cheers you with it’s complex palate and entertains you with a gorgeous oak spiciness.

Fabulous.

Next up came a special treat.

Midleton Single Cask, Single Pot Still, 56%

Drawn from a 21 year old virgin oak cask resting at Midleton – yours for a starting price of only €80,000 – this wasn’t a shy whiskey.

Rich & warm woody oak tannins with a hint of spice – I could have nosed this beauty all night long.

The palate started off flavoursome & smooth – before the strength & gradually drying tannic spice made it’s presence felt – which left my mouth reeling.

Not for the faint hearted.

And then the finale.

Midleton Very Rare, 2019, Blend, 40%

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Drinking MVR 2019 at Sonny Molloy’s c/othewhiskeynut

A blend of up to 226 barrels of grain & single pot still aged from 13 to 34 years carefully put together by Brian Nation himself.

A surprisingly fruity nose – reminded me of wine gums, the dark ones especially.

A silky smooth palate tempered by a lovely gentle sweet grain mixed in with dry oaky tannins – which didn’t overpower – allowing a cornucopia of flavour to flow around the mouth with depth & character in abundance.

A perfectly balanced blend showcasing the rich diversity & age range of the casks available at Midleton Distillery.

A joy to behold.

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A big thank you to all the team at Sonny Molloy’s & Midleton Distillery for the warm hospitality – fabulous whiskey – tasty canapés and highly enjoyable evening.

May the road rise with you!

Bowmore No 1, 40% vs Art Of The Blend 3, 43%

Which would you choose?

A single malt from a well known Islay Distillery versus a blend sold by an upcoming Lowland Distillery sourced from unnamed origins?

Luckily for me – I had both!

Art Of The Blend 3 was a limited edition release allowing Eden Mill Distillery to practice their blending & marketing skills in advance of their own whisky maturing.

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Art Of The Blend Batch 3 c/othewhiskeynut

It came in a highly attractive bottle – which has since continued into their own releases – containing malt & grain whiskies finished in Islay Whisky Casks.

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Eden Mill’s own whisky c/othewhiskeynut

I found it crisp, clear, vibrant and highly enjoyable.

You could say it was smokin’!

By contrast Bowmore No 1 – named after the warehouse the barrels used in the single malt were aged in – was muted – almost as if the fire had gone out.

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Bowmore No 1 c/othewhiskeynut

The sparkle was missing – and I was a tad disappointed.

The Art Of The Blend 3 just blew it out of the water.

I let my palate choose.

It chose Art Of The Blend 3.

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MacLeod’s, Isle Of Skye, 8 Year Old Blended Scotch, 40%

Another miniature from my mixed bag winning auction lot.

I couldn’t resist humming the opening line from the famous Andy Stewart hit song ‘Donald Where’s Yer Troosers?’

‘I’ve just come down from the Isle Of Skye’.

Well some of the whisky in this blend did.

It started off fine – the colour was reassuringly pale.

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An Ian MacLeod brand. c/othewhiskeynut

But the nose was sweet – very sweet – with a dull stale smell.  This one was obviously on the turn!

I took a swig.

Pale, watery & dull.

The only sign of life was a residue smokiness from the peat.

Not undrinkable – but not pleasant.

Pity.

This one had the potential to be a clean fresh easy peater.

I did check the screw cap seal. It was slightly discoloured. A sign – so I’ve been told – the whisky has deteriorated. Seems to hold true in this instance.

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Screw cap discolouration. c/othewhiskeynut

Obviously ‘just come down from the Isle Of Skye’ too long ago!

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Hunter’s Glen, 5 Year Old, Premium Scotch Whisky, Blend, 40%

Random town.

I was away for a few days taking advantage of the fine weather.

Random pub.

Entering a bar for the first time always engenders a sense of excitement.

Random whisky.

You never know what to expect.

Spotting the large green label of Hunter’s Glen on the shelf – it immediately stood out as something I’d not had before.

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Hunter’s Glen Scotch c/othewhiskeynut

Establishing it was Scotch Whisky and not rum – either would have been acceptable – a glass was ordered.

Mmmmmm.

Standard entry level blend material.

Caramelly nose, sweet, smooth & soft with a hint of smoke enlivening an otherwise easy drinking experience.

But who or what is Hunter’s Glen?

The front label states ‘Clydesdale Scotch Whisky Company’, who are part of the Whyte & Mackay group specialising in supermarket blends for Lidl.

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All the way from Greece? c/othewhiskeynut

The back label does mention Lidl, but of Greek origin.

Quite how it ended up in a bar in the West of Ireland is beyond me.

But as a whisky with no pretensions or provenance – I enjoyed it for what it is – a perfectly acceptable everyday sipper with a slightly smoky tingly dryness on the finish.

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Header image courtesy of Irish Times article here.

Irish American Whiskey Trio Taste-Off

I couldn’t say goodbye to my latest selection of Irish Whiskey brands only available in America without a taste challenge.

Emptying what was left of the miniatures – and a pour from the 750 ml US size bottle – the first thing I noticed was the almost identical golden colour from all 3 whiskeys.

All 3 are NAS – non age statement – offerings at 40% ABV.

All 3 are sourced brands from unspecified Irish Distilleries and

All 3 taste remarkably different from each other.

I’ll kick off with Kilbrin.

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The attractive front of Kilbrin c/othewhiskeynut

This one immediately appealed to my palate. Fresh, lively & inviting. A gorgeous spicy kick towards the end endeared this blend to me.

Kavanagh was up next.

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Kavanagh Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

More malty – biscuity even. Hardly surprising as it’s a single malt. A smoother delivery – cultured perhaps – with a gentler spiciness adding some character.

Wolfhound rounded up the trio.

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The Gentle Giant c/othewhiskeynut

Compared to the others, I found the ‘roar’ of the hound a rather dull & muted affair. The honeyed sweetness just didn’t set my palate alight.

Without a doubt my clear winner – and rather surprisingly so – was Kilbrin Irish Whiskey.

It has character & attitude in abundance.

For me it captures the beauty of a good blend.

The balance of both malt & grain whiskeys compliment each other giving complexity to the palate.

Kudos to Kilbrin!

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Kilty Pleasure, Blend, 40%, Wee Couper Of Fife, Anstruther.

Spotting a new whisky shop in the pretty East Neuk village of Anstruther what else was I to do but go in and buy a few?

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The Wee Couper Of Fife Whisky Shop c/othewhiskeynut

The Wee Couper Of Fife stocks a highly varied selection of whiskies and a wide array of whisky paraphernalia – from tartan hip-flasks & quirky miniatures for the tourists – which I bought – to select single malts & single casks for the purists.

One I purchased was the cheekily named & labelled Kilty Pleasure Scotch from Select Drams.

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Kilty Pleasure Scotch c/othewhiskeynut

Select Drams have built up a wholesale drinks supply business specialising in ‘miniatures, gifting and specialist bottlings’ – of which Kilty Pleasure is part of a series.

They also do aged statement single malts from renowned distilleries – but this non age statement blend from unknown sources caught my eye – well – it does play up on the stereotypes – and it amused me!

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What else do you need to know? c/othewhiskeynut

So was it pleasurable?

In a word – yes!

To be honest it’s fairly standard stuff.

A soft, sweet caramelly nose.

A honeyed smooth palate – easy accessible drinking – no jarring notes – yet  developing into a decent prickly heat with just a touch of oaky spice.

If you were buying this as a present – or just for the laugh as I was – Kilty Pleasure possesses enough character & style to carry the whole presentation off.

Congratulations to Select Drams for bringing some light hearted fun to the category!

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Wolfhound Irish Whiskey, Blend, 40%

The ‘Gentle Giant’ it says on this attractive bottle of Irish Whiskey – and when it comes to the Wolfhound – they certainly are gentle giants of the dog world.

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The Gentle Giant c/othewhiskeynut

But what of the whiskey?

Another sourced brand brought back by my better half & purchased at a Total Wine store in Baltimore.

Prestige Wine And Spirits Group are the company behind this one – or so it says on the label – but Prestige Beverage Group come up on an internet search here.

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Part of the group. c/othewhiskeynut

The nose is mild, caramelly & malt biscuit like.

The palate is soft easy drinking.

Nothing really exciting – but it slowly grows with grainy heat to a bit of a spirity bite at the end – which doesn’t last long.

The spirity bite was the part I enjoyed the most – as otherwise Wolfhound lacks character & depth.

A bargain basement blend.

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Kilbrin Irish Whiskey, Blend, 40%

Mrs Whiskey brought back a selection of Irish Whiskeys from America after a recent trip.

They aren’t available in Ireland – and I was keen to check them out.

Kilbrin is an actual place in Ireland. A parish in County Cork with a GAA club, a school and a church. But no whiskey distillery.

Kilbrin Irish Whiskey is a sourced brand – I’ve no problem with that.

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The attractive front of Kilbrin c/othewhiskeynut

A search of their website here – leads you onto Quality Spirits International here – who specialise in Own Brand and Private Label products.

Quality Spirits International are in turn a wholly owned subsidiary of ‘the largest independent Scotch Whisky Company’ – which to you and me is William Grant & Sons – owners of Tullamore DEW, Glenfiddich, Grant’s and others.

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Kilbrin back c/othewhiskeynut

What interested me though was how the whiskey tasted.

The nose was caramelly sweet, honeyed & slightly fruity.

This followed through on the palate – which opened up into a decent sweet grainy feel with a lovely prickly spice developing.

The finish was sadly short – but the overall effect was rather appealing.

I quite enjoyed this one.

A pleasant easy going entry level blend with a bit of character & spice towards the end.

Nice one Kilbrin!

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Art Of The Blend #4, 51%, The Bank, Anstruther

There’s always a frisson of excitement entering a bar for the first time.

You never know what you will encounter.

The best bars you enter as strangers – and depart as friends.

But in The Bank in Anstruther – I encountered an old friend.

Art Of The Blend #4.

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The gorgeously bottled #4 c/othewhiskeynut

Eden Mill are the next generation of Scottish brewers & distillers. Prior to their own whisky being released they experimented with sourced distillate under the Art Of The Blend label to hone their skills.

I enjoyed the results.

Presented at a stonking 51% this Port Cask finished blend packed a lively punch of sweet stone fruits.

The high ABV led to an explosion of flavour on the palate – yet it didn’t overpower.

A pleasing prickly heat faded gently with warming cherry notes dancing merrily into the distance.

Limited to 1100 bottles – I was glad to encounter my old friend again.

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