Category Archives: Blended Whiskey

The Jockey vs The Fisherman, Blended Scotch Whisky, 40%

When in Anstruther I usually pick up a few bottles in the Wee Couper Of Fife Whisky Shop.

They have a varied selection of miniatures – mainly for the tourist trade – as well as single cask bottlings for the aficionados.

I enjoy sampling the miniatures myself – so picked up a pair of themed minis from the Cumbrae Supply Co.

The Jockey & The Fisherman sport stylised images of their namesakes, are presented at 40% with no mention of distilleries sourced from, nor chill filtering or added caramel, which I’d expect for this type of product.

Without further ado I poured some glasses.

The Jockey

Sweet biscuity malt, very easy palate, slight hints of drying leather on the rear.

A very decent blend.

The Fisherman

Similar nose, if anything an easier palate, softer, sweeter, with less dryness on the rear.

Thoughts

I was expecting to find this pair to share the same source – but they did differ slightly on drinking.

For me The Jockey has pulled clear of the sedentary Fisherman.

An entertaining duo!

Sláinte

Cumbrae Supply Co website here.

Wee Couper Of Fife website here.

All images authors own.

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Crag & Glen, Blended Scotch Whisky, 40%

I picked up Crag & Glen on my last Scottish trip.

Usually I stop at the last supermarket before the ferry to top up on haggis & booze that isn’t readily available in Ireland.

Sadly the Asda in Girvan had only 1 haggis left & it was too early in the morning for alcohol sales – so another plan emerged.

Sainsbury’s in Lisburn provided my needs.

There are no Sainsbury’s in Ireland – hence Argos pulling out – but Northern Ireland has them – so I indulged in some supermarket spirits.

I do enjoy trying out this category. There can be some good ones & being only a 35cl serving the outlay is minimal. Pity there’s little choice in this size.

Crag & Glen is Sainsbury’s own bottling. It has a suitably bold name that conjures up romantic notions of rugged Highland scenery, magnificent stags & warm drinks by a roaring fire.

Can tasting the whisky match the imagery?

First thing I notice is the golden brown hue of this 3 year old – very suggestive of added colouring & chill filtering – which you kinda have to expect at this price point.

The nose is mild, caramelly & honeyed sweet.

The label very aptly displays ‘smooth & rounded‘ – an accurate descriptor of the mouthfeel.

The finish is the best bit for me – a warm juiciness topped off with joyful prickliness leaving a dry lip-smacking finale.

As basic supermarket brands go Crag & Glen lives up to it’s imagery – minus the roaring fire!

Sláinte

Link to Sainsbury’s whisky page here.

Argos pulls out of Ireland here.

Fercullen Falls, Small Batch Irish Whiskey, 43%, Blend

When Powerscourt Distillery originally released their core range of Irish Whiskey much of the commentary made a big play of the fact Head Distiller – Noel Sweeney – had overseen the distilling of the liquid whilst at Cooley Distillery & then latterly supervised the blending of the casks at Powerscourt.

Now Mr Sweeney has left Powerscourt – does this lessen the ‘story’ of the whiskeys?

If you rate whiskey by the personality of key players involved in bringing it to market – then perhaps yes?

On the other hand, if you appraise a whiskey based on the taste & flavour of the liquid in the glass before you – it doesn’t matter.

Most whiskey has been produced by a large team of mainly un-named people who all contribute – in one way or another – to making & marketing the final product.

That product – especially if it’s a core release like this Fercullen Falls blend – can be presented to the public as a consistent expression regardless of the potential changing personnel who participate in its existence.

As it is, Fercullen Falls is a non-age statement blend of whiskeys both from outside sources and Powerscourt Distillery itself.

I like the name.

Fercullen Falls themselves are an impressive spectacle set in Powerscourt Estate grounds – and well worth a visit they are too!

So, onto the whiskey!

Pale straw in colour. No mention of added caramel or chill filtering.

A very easy, pleasant soft aroma of vanilla & caramel.

Smooth palate with a touch of honeyed maltiness on the body.

Livens up on the finish with a lovely prickly sensation & decent depth of flavours which fade slowly.

A very well-presented easy drinking blend with no rough edges, fine heritage & an entertaining flourish on the finale.

Sláinte

All images authors own.

Fercullen Falls Whiskey information here.

Noel Sweeney information here.

A Trio of Blacks Irish Whiskey, Triple Threat, Maple Mayhem & Black Smoke, 40% to 43%.

Blacks of Kinsale are currently building their own distillery. In the meantime they have released this core rage sourced Irish Whiskey trio to entice you in.

Presented in attractively liveried bottles bearing their trademark flying crow emblem the names allure to the beer brewing background of Blacks.

I was fortunate enough to be sent a sample pack from Blacks to taste.

All thoughts on the whiskey – as always – are my own.

Triple Threat, 40%

As the name suggests, this Irish Blended Whiskey is aged in a triple cask trio of bourbon, sherry & virgin oak casks.

Light brown in colour. The nose wasn’t giving much away, sweet grainy vanillas. A silky mouthfeel. Honeyed. Drying spiciness on the rear enlivens this solid starter of a blend.

Engaging!

Maple Mayhem, 43%

An unusual one this – aged in maple bourbon casks!

Wasn’t sure what to expect – yet the nose offered up a rich dark sweetness that pulled me in. Smooth palate grows into a surprisingly complex dark honey yet spicy & tingly finalé.

Enticing!

Black Smoke, 43%

A more conventional heavily peated offering.

Have you ever noticed heavy peaters tend to be the palest whiskey out there?

Black Smoke is no exception!

That coastal, iodiney peat is evident on the nose – yet doesn’t overpower. Very engaging on the palate. It’s the finish that excites me. The warming hug of a turf fire heats up & pulls me in with it’s comforting embrace.

A solid sod of turf to please the palate!

Thoughts

This trio of Blacks Irish Whiskey are currently available (Oct ’22) in the sub €50 category level – prices subject to upward pressure in the ongoing economic climate.

They offer a solid & surprisingly complexity of flavour.

Black Smoke would be my whiskey of choice here – but Maple Mayhem engaged me more than I expected with a heavy sweetness that enticed. Triple Threat meanwhile isn’t threatening at all – just a good solid blended Irish Whiskey!

Fabulous to taste the growing array of Irish Whiskey out there – which one would please your palate?

Sláinte

Blacks of Kinsale website here.

The Spirits Business article on economic situation here.

Bottle images courtesy Blacks of Kinsale.

English Park Blended Whisky, 6 Years Old, Special Reserve, 40%

Given the s**t show that’s English politics right now I thought it time to crack open this English Park Whisky to celebrate the demise of Liz Truss.

Purchased as an exercise to see if Amazon.co.uk could continue to offer a service to Ireland post Brexit – English Park was the only bottle that made it through.

All the others failed to arrive – just like those mythical ‘benefits from Brexit’ soundbites Liz was fond of spouting.

So what of English Park Whisky?

Well the bottle presentation is pretty cool.

Clearly capitalising on the patriotic fervour ensuing in England with Union Jack emblems there’s nonetheless attention to detail shown by ‘1835’ embossed on the front neck as well as ‘Double Oak’ on the rear & a neat representation of a still complete with worm-tube too.

The sales patter had me lost however. It’s in a language not familiar to me.

Turns out to be slovak – where the whisky is distilled by the Nestville Distillery.

So how does English Park taste?

Not too bad!

Exhibiting a deep golden brown with decent legs in the glass. There is no mention of chill filtering or natural colour I can make out.

A warm caramelly nose.

Smooth & easy palate, slightly warming.

The finish offered up an entertaining biscuity malt with hints of burnt oak that raised the experience.

Found English Park a very approachable drinking blend with enough depth to keep it quaffable.

I admire the entrepreneurial flair of whomever produced this brand to get it to the masses. I also admire the distillery for putting together a perfectly palatable blended whisky.

It’s already lasted longer than 44 days!

Na Zdrovie!

My Amazon.co.uk experiment here.

Nestville Distillery webpage here.

Whisky purchased via Gargara storefront on Amazon here.

Clanlands, Sam Heughan & Graham McTavish

I knew nothing about either of these characters before picking up this book other than one of them – Sam – was an actor in a successful series & had recently released a whisky.

Image courtesy Master Of Malt

The whisky in question – Sassenach – has already won awards & appears to be popular – but has attracted a degree of criticism from those in whisky circles.

Image courtesy Twitter

I just don’t get it.

Any celebrity putting their name to a whisky – or in this instance actively taking part in the blending & marketing – helps to open up & expand the whisky market to a new layer of customers & consumers.

Given that the whisky community is predominately male Sassenach appears – at least to Sam Heughan’s Twitter page – to have attracted a large female audience. This is to be welcomed.

Rather than being open & expansive many in the establishment sitting in clubs, societies & bloggers often come across as exclusive & closed to new methods & means of enlarging the whisky community.

There are double standards at play too as many of these self-styled ‘defenders of the dram’ often promote themselves as celebrities within their fiercely territorial domains.

Celebrity spirit or not – the actual taste of the whisky is my primary concern. I do recognise celebrity status does bring enhanced brand recognition with perhaps easier routes to market usually leading to increased sales – depending on the celebrity involved.

I’ve not managed to taste Sassenach – it doesn’t appear to be available in Ireland – but I do find the name attractive & the packaging certainly makes it stand out too!

This book however was in my local library – so I gave it a read.

The pair of actors engage in a laddish romp round Scotland dishing out historical titbits, name dropping, thespian tales, hearty food & plenty of whisky!

Like the whisky it opens up Scotland to a new audience – perhaps for the first time – attracted possibly by the dynamic duo on the book’s cover.

Blending popular culture, celebrity status & whisky together is a sure-fire way to broaden the appeal of the golden liquid & ensures it reaches new fans.

I don’t have a problem with celebrity spirits.

Sláinte

Sassenach is available from Master Of Malt here.

Sassenach Spirits website here.

Header image courtesy Sassenach Twitter here.

Sam Heughan’s Twitter here.

You can’t beat a good blend, Dunville’s 1808, 40%, Irish Whiskey

I always enjoy a blind tasting.

Stripped of any clues as to what’s before you it heightens your senses to the tastes & flavours experienced on drinking the liquid.

Presented before me were 6 samples. I duly poured them into 6 identical Túath glasses & proceeded to savour the contents.

For some reason I thought this was a rum tasting – & quickly revised this theory as No 1 ‘despite having a bit of a sour nose the lack of body on the palate & high ABV kick signalled to me a poitín! Can’t say it did much for me. Nice experience – but not an approachable spirit’.

There was no No 2 so No 3 ‘proved intriguing. The pale yellow colour, soft fruity nose, easy palate with slight hints of burnt notes on the rear drew me in. I could drink this one again!’.

With No 4I experienced a slightly musty nose, indicative of long ageing, perfectly fine palate yet lacked a bit of body & very dry on the rear. Rather nonplussed by this one’.

No 5 ‘had a sherry like influence, smooth & silky on the palate with a nice touch of dryness on the rear. Could be a low ppm peater? Not quite enough to excite me if it is’.

No 6 ‘initially blew me away! Suggestive of high ABV. On a 2nd tasting it still didn’t entice me’.

No 7 ‘kinda hooked me, if only for a more pronounced smoky influence. Elegant yet challenging all at the same time’.

So that was it! My initial thoughts are in italics.

Samples 3 & 7 stood out for me in this selection.

So what were they?

Photo courtesy Irish Drink Shop

3 – Dunville’s 1808, Blended Irish Whiskey, 40%

What can I say? A very pleasant easy drinker with enough depth of character to keep me coming back for more.

Photo courtesy Whisky Exchange

7 – Smögen 100 Proof, 6 Year Old, Swedish Single Malt, 57.1%

A heavy peater finished in oloroso casks at a challenging high ABV. Think I’d have enjoyed this one more at 46% without the oloroso finish myself.

And the others?

1 – Black’s Single Pot New Make, 63.5%

4 – Jamesons Black Barrel Proof, Blend, 50%

5 – High Coast, Dálvve Sherry Influence, Swedish Single Malt, 48%

A light peater with 50/50 bourbon/sherry influence. A bit of a let down from the original high peater Box Dálvve I enjoyed at Gothenberg Airport here.

6 – Bushmills Causeway Collection, 2008 Muscatel Casks, Single Malt, 56.4%

Given that Smögen is a bit of a unicorn bottle – hard to get hold of, pricey & limited edition – as are some of the other bottles – I think Dunville’s 1808 performed extremely well on my palate.

I took away a few themes from this tasting. High ABV can blow away the flavours for me & make for a challenging drinking experience. Sherry cask influence isn’t my style of choice & when it comes to enjoyable, affordable drinking – you can’t beat a good blend!

What would your palate have chosen?

Sláinte

Many thanks to fellow Whiskey Blogger S for the blind samples & bottle photo.

The Galtee Mountain Boy Irish Whiskey, 40%

It’s a long way to Tipperary

But The Galtee Mountain Boy Irish Whiskey made the journey to Paeder’s Bar in Moate, County Westmeath.

Attractively packaged in a ceramic bottle proudly displaying an old photograph of young volunteers made it stand out on the spirits shelve.

A blend of single grain, single malt & single pot still Irish Whiskey matured in ex-bourbon casks & given a finish in extra charred casks The Galtee Mountain Boy displays a soft caramely nose with a touch of toffee.

Warm mouthfeel with sweet vanilla & darker, richer notes giving some body to the table.

Finishes with a flourish of spice.

An easy yet characterful little number imbued with a rich historical legacy.

Sláinte

Peader’s Bar facebook page here.

Three Counties Liquor website here.

2 Controversial Whiskey Blends, John L Sullivan, 40% & Celtic Nations, 46%

Both these whiskeys attracted a degree of controversy when originally released.

Most of it centred around the interpretation of ‘rules’ – but I was curious to taste the results.

Image courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop

John L Sullivan Irish Whiskey, 40%

Named after a famous Irish/American boxer of the late 1800’s – which attracted initial upset – an original bottling of John L Sullivan displayed the legend ‘Irish Bourbon’.

Image courtesy Whiskey Jug

Attempting to celebrate the Irish/American heritage with a blend of Irish & Bourbon whiskeys fell foul of labelling laws & the bottle was withdrawn.

Before me is a sample from a bottle labelled John L Sullivan Irish Whiskey – aged in bourbon casks.

Pale straw in colour, shy nose, not giving much away, smooth easy palate, gentle growing warmth with a hug of sweet vanilla & caramel, flourish of mild spice on the rear.

An easy going entry level offering.

Image courtesy Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder

Celtic Nations, 46%

A collaboration between the Irish Teeling Whiskey Co & Scotch Bruichladdich Distillery to create a harmonious blend of single malts to celebrate the 2 nations spirits.

Didn’t meet the approval of the SWA & was banned.

Pale straw colour, gorgeous expressive nose of gentle peat coming through, the palate displays more soft Irish notes before the embers of a peat fire warms up the finish.

An entertaining soft peater.

Thoughts

Both of these whiskeys had great potential.

The pugilist inspired John L Sullivan pre-dated the global success of Proper Twelve & there’s been subsequent Irish/American Whiskey/Bourbon collaborations on the market since.

Cross nation blends have been a staple earning for both Scotch & Irish distilleries over the years – mainly for the lower end of the market. Perhaps this high profile open & transparent offering was just too much for the SWA?

Whatever the reasons – controversy is not a tasting note I encountered in either of these blends.

Sláinte

Grace O’Malley Rum Cask, 42%, Blend

Grace O’Malley Irish Whiskey burst onto the scene a few years ago with their bold imagery re-energising & modernising the Pirate Queen the whiskey is named after.

Being blenders, bonders & independent bottlers, Grace O’Malley can stock barrels from any number of Irish Whiskey Distilleries & use them to create their own unique style.

I still have remnants of their Dark Char & Rum Cask – which you can read about here – but it’s the newly released Rum Cask I’m focusing on today.

Courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop

First thing I notice is the pale colour – reassuring perhaps of no added colour?

A rich dark sweetness on the aroma – rum wine gums anyone?

Smooth, sweet & deliciously mouth coating on the palate.

A gorgeous growing frisson of warm spice – getting nutmeg & cinnamon – on the finish with just a hint of funky depth to top things off.

An engaging little number from the Grace O’Malley fleet.

Sláinte