Category Archives: Blended Whiskey

Kilbeggan Finest Irish Whiskey, 15 Year Old, Blend, 40%

Back in 2007 Kilbeggan released a 15 Year Old Finest Irish Whiskey complete with stylish bottle & packaging to commemorate 250 years of distilling history at the Kilbeggan Distillery in County Westmeath.

It was very well received at the time & went on to win many awards.

Kilbeggan 15 in the glass c/othewhiskeynut

Being a rather limited release it attracted a lot of buyers who stored it for intended resale, for a special occasion or just collecting.

Luckily I knew someone who’d actually opened it to enjoy the delights within.

Very generously – I managed a sample!

Now there are always dangers when storing whiskey – and this became evident on the nose with a slight fustiness going on among an otherwise attractive nuttiness.

The palate was soft, smooth & easy with a touch of woody spice going on in the rear.

A gorgeous juiciness finished up the proceedings.

Cool bottle! c/othewhiskeynut

A lovely little drop indeed – although that slight fusty note on the nose suggests it’s not ageing well.

If you enjoy your whiskey – perhaps drinking it soon after purchase is recommended.

Proclamation, Blended Irish Whiskey, 40.7%

It’s always a delight to encounter a new Irish Whiskey brand on the shelves of my local SuperValu.

Wrapped in an attractive tin proudly displaying a period portrayal of O’Connell Street in Dublin, including the General Post Office from where the original proclamation was read, starting the founding of the Irish State in 1916.

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The GPO on O’Connell St c/othewhiskeynut

Proclamation Irish Whiskey certainly stood out among the other brands sharing it’s keen price point.

‘Matured in bourbon casks & blended with a touch of sherry finished malt.’ is the information given – along with extensive tasting notes on the back – as to the contents of this bottle.

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Tasting notes c/othewhiskeynut

A light golden brown colour complete with viscous legs.

Aromas of soft warm caramel, a touch of sherry sweetness & a hint of nuttiness to add some depth & complexity.

Very inviting.

Suitably smooth on the palate – but entertainingly so.

The nuttiness follows through into a softly drying sweetness with an added flourish of some oaky spice too.

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Raising my spirits! c/othewhiskeynut

The finish was rather brief – but Proclamation certainly lifted my spirits!

A very pleasant easy going sipper with a touch of character – and a long pedigree.

Definitely one to have on the shelve at home!

Sláinte

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Velvet Cap Irish Whiskey, Blend, 40%

Well I’ve gotta hand it to Peter Mulryan & all the team at Blackwater Distillery for launching a sourced volume bonders blend & getting it seriously appraised by the Whiskey Nerd community.

Many other similarly styled brands are regularly lambasted.

But first to the whiskey.

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Velvet Cap c/othewhiskeynut

A rich reddy brown hue with an invitingly warm hug of a nose.

The palate had a depth & complexity resplendent of the port, stout & rye cask finishing having worked their magic.

A touch of drying spiciness at the end added a final flourish to this characterful little blend.

An easy, entertaining & accessible whiskey that fulfills the brief Blackwater intended.

The much publicised launch coupled with the delightful sample package ensured a wide audience for the Facebook Live event.

Peter gave a fairly precise potted history of both the origins of Velvet Cap – as well as a synopsis of the modern Irish Whiskey Industry.

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Velvet Cap sample c/othewhiskeynut

I welcome the growing diversity of styles, brands & flavours coming out of this wonderful renaissance in Irish Whiskey globally.

The rather narrow & monopolistic view that defined Irish Whiskey of the recent past is inhibiting the future growth today.

The mantra of honesty & transparency is leading to some entertaining avenues – and focuses the debate onto what is or isn’t written on the label – rather than on what the whiskey actually tastes like.

Does a whiskey that says the ‘wrong’ things taste worse than any others?

An emphatic NO from Whiskey Nut.

Hyde came in for a lot of criticism on this front.

Interestingly in blind tastings, the brand always scored highly on my palate, irrespective of the labelling – which has been amended.

The blended whiskey market is a crowded category. Most of the people purchasing these brands are not whiskey nerds.

The finer details of the sales patter, cask maturation, mashbill composition or distillery of source may not be to the fore here – but taste & accessibility might.

Taste is very subjective.

An interesting analysis of taste came my way recently. A worthy read.

So when someone says;

‘I’m enjoying Velvet Cap’

It’s better than 500 words of BS any day!

Sláinte

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Summerton Virtual Whisky Festival, 2020.

COVID has cancelled a whole host of Whiskey Festivals this year.

I did manage to get in the excellent Fife Whisky Festival just before the lockdown – but it may prove to be the only physical show I’ll get to.

So when Summerton Whisky Club announced their online virtual festival – I had to give it a go!

Initially I was worried the festival pack wouldn’t get through the rather clogged postal situation – but it arrived in plenty of time.

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Virtual Whisky Festival! c/othewhiskeynut

My next problem was technology!

Turns out my old laptop is not up to speed – thank goodness for a loan of the wife’s modern machinery!

Bimber were up first.

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Ex-bourbon Bimber c/othewhiskeynut

This new London distillery offered an exbourbon cask at a stonking 51.8% to get things rolling!

A gorgeously rich vanilla laden single malt!

I must profess to having a soft spot for Bimber. A sample of their 1st Release came my way & impressed me very much.

After trying a London Single Malt – Dublin’s Single Pot Still was in order!

Under my table was Dublin’s 1st whiskey release in many years – Teeling Single Pot Still Batch 1.

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London & Dublin’s finest! c/othewhiskeynut

Very fresh & fruity in comparison to Bimber. Less wood influence too. Afraid to say Bimber wins out in this comparison!

Scalasaig’s Blended Malt Island Hopper sailed in next.

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Scalasaig Island Hopper c/othewhiskeynut

Soft peat & caramel with a warming smokey fire.

A back to back with The Dark Silkie blend was in order.

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Swimming with the Silkie! c/othewhiskeynut

Silkie came over cleaner, fresher & ultimately more enjoyable!

A Limited Edition 14 year old Tawny Port Finished Glen Scotia proved to be a stunner!

Ruby coloured, rich, nutty & warming with a hit of peat from the 52.8% strength. Fabulous!

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Campbeltown cracker! c/othewhiskeynut

Campletown Whisky obviously suits my palate after it came out tops in a blind tasting I did recently.

The Lakes Distillery The One Signature Blend suffered a little from the previous offering.

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Now this One! c/othewhiskeynut

The bottle appears to be redesigned & re-recipied from my 1st encounter at a Whisky Birmingham Show a few years ago. The main difference being Lakes own malt is used in the whisky.

One came across as a soft easy peater. Perhaps a sherry influence had detracted from the peat hit for me?

Hinch is the first Irish contribution to the show.

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Hinch Double Wood c/othewhiskeynut

The 5 Year Old Double Wood brings out the warm vanilla & spice of the cask maturation – although I still prefer the Peated Single Malt sampled previously.

Lambay provided the 2nd Irish selection with a cute duo of miniatures featuring their cognac finished blend & single malts.

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A Lambay duo c/othewhiskeynut

It’s fortunate I enjoyed larger samples at a tasting hosted in Sean’s Bar, Athlone. I’m still enjoying the fresher Small Batch blend over the smoother Single Malt though.

I didn’t have a cognac handy to try out the source cask – so made do with a brandy – and found those dark fruity & nutty notes along with a slight spice from the wood that enhanced the Lambay.

I do love Mackmyra’s Limited Editions. They are creative, experimental & feature part of Sweden in every bottle. My last time in Gotherburg introduced me to the range.

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Smashing Swedes c/othewhiskeynut

Efva & Fjällmark were the 2 samples. Both impressed me with their richness, depth & complexity – but Fjällmark just pipped the post for me.

I couldn’t pass up the chance to compare these 2 with a Single Cask Reserve Rök, 1st fill bourbon Mackmyra.

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Smokey Swede c/othewhiskeynut

Class smokiness!

At this stage of the evening I’d usually be on the train home – or tucking into a big feed to sober up – but Wolfburn were the finale with a duo of single malts – Morven & Northland.

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A pack of Wolves! c/othewhiskeynut

I was pleased to be reacquainted with these softly peated malts. The Morven won out in this contest.

Congratulations to all the team at Summerton Whisky Club for hosting this virtual show.

It’s been fun – but I must admit to missing the real thing.

My dram of the day?

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Campbeltown cracker! c/othewhiskeynut

Glen Scotia from the actual show

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Smokey Swede c/othewhiskeynut

& Mackmyra Reserve Cask from under my table!

Sláinte

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Royal Eagle, Premium Whisky, 42.8%, Nigeria

To celebrate World Whisky Day I’m cracking open this Royal Eagle Whisky – kindly bought for me at a local Spar shop in Lagos, Nigeria, by my African correspondent.

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Fly like an Eagle! c/othewhiskeynut

The label states “A fine blend of Scotch Whisky and the Purest Quality Spirit”.

Voltic Nigeria are the producers.

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The Eagle’s back c/othewhiskeynut

They are/were a subsidiary of SABmiller – originally founded in South Africa with an HQ in the UK – who in turn were bought up by the giant Brazilian-Belgian conglomerate of AB InBev.

A more globally connected brand would be hard to find.

Nigerain Coat Of Arms
Nigerian Coat Of Arms c/olegit.ng

The image on the attractive bottle is rather striking – an imposing gothic eagle – which bears a resemblance to that in the Nigerian Coat Of Arms – and lends a degree of localisation to the brand.

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Strength in the Eagle c/othewhiskeynut

It’s presented at 42.8% Nigerian strength – with added caramel.

For this style of whisky – it’s quite light in colour.

There’s that intense caramelly nose – a sweet graininess & a hint of smoke.

The palate is pleasantly smooth. A rich mouthfeel – a touch of biscuity malt & a faint burnt note to add character.

The finish is like gently glowing embers slowly fading.

I’m glad this Eagle flew over to me!

Sláinte

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JG Kinsey, Special Reserve, Blended Scotch, 40%

Wow!

This one gives a lot!

I picked up this bargain basement blend working my way through all the whiskeys available in my local Dunnes Stores.

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JG Kinsey founded 1892 c/othewhiskeynut

JG Kinsey also comes with gin & vodka options & I had it down as a store brand.

WRONG!

Jacob G Kinsey was an american gentleman who founded the Linfield Distillery in 1892. Pennsylvania was – and still is – associated with rye whiskey. A successful business flourished, floundered, merged & was subsumed into the giant International Beverage Holdings Group.

Kinsey’s name lives on with this current offering – plus numerous blogs & posts about the now abandoned plant at Linfield.

Linfield
Linfield Distillery c/opre-pro.com

Interestingly New Liberty Distillery in Philadelphia – who have a connection with Connacht Whiskey in Ballina – also name check Kinsey with a range of Bourbon, Rye & American Whiskey.

With all this proud heritage – would the liquid inside the bottle deliver?

Well the nose had that sweetly honeyed, richly caramelised aroma – with a touch of depth.

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Some pedigree c/othewhiskeynut

As the label states – it was definitely smooth – but the body displayed a lovely wholesomeness which flourished on the finish into a gorgeously drying spiciness.

The source of this depth no doubt comes from the more meaty style of malts produced at the Balmenach, Balblair & Speyburn distilleries of the InterBev Group.

They give the blend a more robust kind of ‘Highland’ appeal – which suits my palate.

A bargain basement beauty!

Sláinte

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The Legendary Dark Silkie Smokey Irish Whiskey, 46%

Peat smoke.

It’s in fierce short supply as a flavour profile in Irish Whiskey.

Connemara flew the flag for many a year.

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Turf Mór c/othewhiskeynut

West Cork’s Peat Charred Cask used Irish Turf to flavour their barrels.

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Glorious Glengarriff whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

And lately WD O’Connell’s Bill Phil landed a smokey smacker.

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Peated Series c/othewhiskeynut

But they’re all Single Malts.

The big selling smokey blend market was effectively abandoned.

Inishowen did a gorgeous soft smoker from a few years ago.

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Inishowen, peated Irish Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Three Crowns Peated uses Islay casks to great results.

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Dunvilles Three Crowns Peated c/othewhiskeynut

But actual peat dried barley in an Irish Blended Whiskey was hard got.

Step forward The Legendary Dark Silkie Smokey!

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Dark Silkie c/othewhiskeynut

I took it for a whirl!

That distinctive coastal peat aroma greeted me.

Smooth easy & sweet on the palate.

A softly glowing peat fire grew in intensity – slowly drying out – adding a few prickly spices along the way – before leaving in a blaze of glory.

Dark Silkie is not for the faint hearted.

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@SilkieWhiskey c/othewhiskeynut

This is full on unapologetic smoke for the peatheads out there.

Fantastic!

Sláinte

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Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey, Then & Now, Blend, 40%

A wonderful photograph courtesy of @irelandincolour featuring Kilbeggan Distillery  in 1937 prompted me to do a comparison review of Kilbeggan Whiskey.

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Kilbeggan Distillery 1937

The old gold label bottle has been superseded by a fresher & more vibrant green & white design. It still retains hallmarks from the previous incarnation – but with additional features included.

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Then & Now c/othewhiskeynut

Both offerings are presented at 40% with added caramel – a common feature throughout the range – which results in a shared golden hue.

A gentle honeyed aroma is enjoyed.

This follows through on the palate offering sweet biscuity malt – before a hint of spice on the finish just adds a spot of character to the proceedings.

A very pleasant, nice & easy blend.

In an ever changing world – it’s often a welcome to greet a familiar friend.

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The back story c/othewhiskeynut

Just as Kilbeggan Distillery retains the characteristics of the 1937 photo today – there were only cosmetic differences in the 2 whiskeys.

I’ll be looking forward to a return visit to the distillery after the COVID pandemic is over.

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Kilbeggan Distillery 2019 c/othewhiskeynut

Stay safe.

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Original 1937 photo courtesy the Breslin Archive.

Highland Queen, Blended Scotch, 40%

God Save The Queen!

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Highland Queen c/othewhiskeynut

Well – Highland Queen Scotch at least.

Earlier this month – in what now feels like a different era – I freely travelled by car, bus & plane across the Irish Sea to Scotland.

I also took the opportunity to visit a whisky distillery.

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Tullibardine Distillery c/othewhiskeynut

Tullibardine.

Owned by the French drinks company Picard Vins & Spiritueux – trading as Terroirs Distillers – Tullibardine – like many distilleries – has had a chequered history.

It also sails under the radar of many a more famous distillery – which piques my interest.

I found an open, honest, hard working distillery pumping out millions of litres of the amber nectar.

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A pair of Tullibardine stills. c/othewhiskeynut

Only around 30% of production is used by Tullibardine themselves. The vast majority – 70% – goes to supply the very backbone of the industry – blended Scotch.

Highland Queen is one such blend – available at the distillery too – which I was happy to try.

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Legal requirements. c/othewhiskeynut

A bit of caramel, a bit of vanilla, a bit of depth too. Very pleasant.

A nice smooth delivery opening up with decent rich flavours and an attractive bite as well.

A bit of alright!

Highland Queen is a characterful blend backed up by a long & distinguished career.

The constituent ingredients & blending ratios may constantly change – but the brand remains strong.

Just like how the whisky industry itself will comeback after the COVID19 pandemic.

Sláinte

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Teacher’s, Highland Cream, Blend, 40%

I had the privilege of attending The Brand Ambassador’s Tasting at the fabulous Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder in Killarney recently.

Fine whiskey, great company & mighty craic ensued.

I came away with a nugget of Irish Whiskey sales information however.

The biggest selling whisky in Ireland from the eclectic & well represented Beam-Suntory brand portfolio is by a long shot – Teacher’s Highland Cream.

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A naggin of Teacher’s c/othewhiskeynut

So I bought a bottle.

It’s yer standard Scotch Blend product.

It’s chill filtered & has added caramel. It’s non age statmented and gives no list of the 30 or so distilleries that have contributed their malt and grain whisky to construct this historic blend – yet it sells bucket loads.

It’s a straight forward no nonsense attractively peated whisky that outsells all others on the Beam-Suntory portfolio.

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The light of Scotland is added caramel. c/othewhiskeynut

The colour is ‘The Light Of Scotland’ – according to the label.

A decent hit of peat on the nose is mellowed by a sweet honeyed palate. A slightly drying peaty bite leaves toffee notes to finish on.

Plain, simple peated whisky.

Clearly what the market wants.

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Inishowen, peated Irish Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Yet ever since the demise of the gorgeous Inishowen – Irish Whiskey has no peated blend currently for sale.

Seems to be a big omission.

Slàinte

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