Category Archives: Blended Whiskey

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.

Sláinte

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Header image courtesy of Irish Times article here.

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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!

Sláinte

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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!

Sláinte

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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.

Sláinte

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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, Glen Grant 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!

Sláinte

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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.

Sláinte

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O’Neill’s Irish Whiskey, Blend, 40%

It seems every time I shop in my local Dunnes store there’s a new Irish Whiskey out!

Sporting what I’d describe as a classic green bottle topped with a red screw cap & traditional looking label – O’Neill’s appears to be a no nonsense style of whiskey.

Proclaiming to be of ‘Fine Spirit’ & ‘Smooth Blended’ the label has minimal information.

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Alfresco whiskey tasting. c/othewhiskeynut

Double Cask Matured is stated – with no mention of which casks – and produced by West Cork Distillers for what I assume is a Dunnes store brand – it made my basket.

And then my Túath glass.

Quite a rich golden hued colour for what I take is a young whiskey.

The nose is rather soft, sweet & honeyed.

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Minimal info c/othewhiskeynut

More engaging on the palate. The sweetness suggests a sherry cask influence – along with bourbon cask maturation – giving a bit of depth & body to the blend.

The grain element gradually kicks in with a little heat & soft prickliness.

A gentle spice rounds off the finish.

O’Neill’s delivers a decent straight down the line blended whiskey experience at an affordable price.

On a back to back with it’s Ardfallen sister, I found O’Neill’s a more sherried & rounded whiskey – making it worth the extra few euro.

Hats off to West Cork!Good Logo

Cockland Gold, Blend, 38.1%

Despite the comic name – this is a genuine whisky from Brazil.

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Brazilian whisky in an Irish glass. c/othewhiskeynut

It can be read as a cheap wordplay on ‘Escócsia’  – the Portuguse for Scotland.

Or perhaps a wry dig – depending on your point of view – regarding the latest incumbent of 10 Downing St & Brexit affairs.

Scottish whisky is so dependent on export sales that when Brazil sneezed due to an economic downturn – Scotch sales worldwide dipped.

Cockland – like many similar products – probably contains Scottish whisky in it’s makeup – along with locally produced spirits.

There wasn’t too many surprises when I cracked this one open.

The golden colour is resplendent of added caramel – noted on the back label.

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Enough information? c/othewhiskeynut

A soft caramel nose with a hint of butterscotch malt.

A smooth, easy, light – even honeyed palate – slipped down gently with a slowly growing pleasant heat.

The roll out of Brexit has more depth & complexity to it than Cockland Whisky – although both display the interconnectivity of the globalisation of trade within their make up.

And whilst I can enjoy the gentle heat at the end of Cockland – I’m not sure if the finale of Brexit will be as delightful.

Sláinte

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The Joy Of Pubs, Teacher’s vs Highland Earl, Blends, 40%

There was an article in the Irish Times the other day about rural development & Gort happened to feature.

Picking up the paper in the town itself after an enjoyable evening topped off the experience.

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Gort in the news. c/othewhiskeynut

The revelry started with a meal at The Gallery Cafe in the Square. A popular spot offering great food & some tasty  beers to boot.

Kinnegar’s Rustbucket Rye Ale washed down my burger delightfully as we chatted outside on the terrace taking advantage of the warm evening sunshine.

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Kinnegar Rye Ale c/oOBriensWine

A bar was selected afterwards & Cummins on Main Street suited us.

Garishly coloured on the outside & embazoned with GAA murals we entered into a trad session being played in the corner by a group of local musicians with a small gathering of drinkers happily tapping along.

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Teacher’s c/oMasterOfMalt

The usual whiskey suspects lined the shelves, Powers, Paddys & Jameson being the standards – a Teacher’s was there too and I fancied a peat hit so went with it.

Teacher’s is a well established blend of Scotch Whisky. A bit on the rough & ready side, sweet peat & a little spirity, but you know what you’re getting.

Chatting away I scanned the shelves for something I’d not had before & spotted a couple of bottles half hidden behind others.

Highland Earl Special Reserve was duly ordered on the next round.

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Highland Earl c/othewhiskeynut

Now Highland Earl is an Aldi brand. An entry level one at that too – and I’d hesitated buying one after having a tad too many caramel laden blends in the past – but being in a bar is a fabulous way to sample it.

My first nosing raised a smile.

A decent waft of balanced peat greeted me.

Wasn’t expecting that!

The palate was more mellow & soothing than the Teacher’s. Yes there is added caramel & yes there is probably chill filtering – but then so has Teacher’s.

If anything Highland Earl lived up to it’s – admittedly low level – titled status by being a step up in enjoyment from the recognisable big brand.

Now the bar’s bottle seems to be an old offering. There is no age statement as with the current 3 Year Old release – and a tagline on the label proclaims it to be a 2010 IWSC Winner!

So I can’t vouch if what is on sale now matches the bottle I tried – but what I can say is the Earl entertained me for the rest of the evening!

Oh the joy of pubs & the simple pleasures of a decent peated blend!

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Dubliner Whiskey, Beer Cask Series, Blends, 40%

The recently opened Dublin Liberties Distillery launched a trio of beer cask finished whiskeys at a highly enjoyable & entertaining event held in the fabulous bar at the distillery itself.

Based on the original bourbon cask matured Dubliner Whiskey the limited edition Beer Cask Series have been finished in casks formerly maturing a variety of Irish Craft Beers.

I managed a small taster of those beers.

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O’Hara’s Leann Folláin Irish Stout c/othewhiskeynut

O’Haras Leann Folláin Irish Stout at 8.1% is a full on bourbon cask matured belter of a brew. Full of heavy dark chocolate & molasses this appealed to my tastes.

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5 Lamps Brewdolf c/othewhiskeynut

5 Lamps Brewdolf at 9% is a worthy contender too. Based on an amber barley wine finished in bourbon casks there were sweet fruity notes balancing the darker & heavier elements.

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Rascals Irish Coffee Stout c/othewhiskeynut

Rascals Irish Coffee Stout at 4.8% has a wonderful coffee aroma on the nose that doesn’t quite follow through on the palate. Having said that – I’m not a big fan of coffee – so this offering isn’t to my palate.

A variety of cocktails were served on the evening – some tasty titbits – a compered introduction to the whiskeys (and the collaborative beers) by none other than Darryl McNally, Master Distiller of Dublin Liberties Distillery himself – as well as the folks behind the craft beers too – all seamlessly guided along by the dulcet tones of Today FM DJ Ed Smith of Ed’s Songs Of Praise fame.

Rebels, Rascals and Raconteurs indeed!

Sampling the whiskey had to wait for later as I was driving – but this is what I found.

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Samples at the ready! c/othewhiskeynut

Oh, my test bottles were kindly filled by Dublin Liberties Distillery on the evening.

Dubliner Irish Coffee Stout Whiskey

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The blue one c/othewhiskeynut

Lovely warm bourbon cask notes with a subtle depth & clean fresh grainy sweetness. Bit spirity but enjoying the clarity with underlying warmth. Soft prickly spice on a long finish.

Dubliner Irish Stout Whiskey

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The golden one c/othewhiskeynut

Deeper, darker & more malty nose. A heavier mouthfeel. The malt has been accentuated & grain mellowed. Long smooth finish.

Dubliner Irish Red Ale Whiskey

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The red one c/othewhiskeynut

Slight sweet fruit off the nose which follows through on the palate. The malt comes through cleanly. Long lasting flavoursome finish.

Well well well!

In a reversal of my findings on the beer from which they came – I think I’d go for the Irish Coffee Stout Whiskey as my favourite!

The combination of the clear sweet grain with a nice depth on the malt & just a hint of coffee in the background proved a winning combination over the smoother & darker elements of the others.

All were very enjoyable blends & quite distinctively different in the ways they presented on the palate.

Just goes to show what a few months in wood can achieve!

What is your favourite?

Sláinte

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