Category Archives: Scottish Whisky

The Famous Grouse, Smoky Black, Blend, 40%

Grouse come in a variety of species – just like their whisky counterparts.

Red & Black Grouse with a Teacher inbetween c/othewhiskeynut

The Red – or Famous Grouse – is the most common & biggest selling of the Matthew Gloag dynasty of blended Scotch.

Ptarmigan – or Snow Grouse – are quite a scarce bird to encounter – just like blended grain whisky.

Snow Grouse c/othewhiskeynut

Black Grouse are a bit more easy to find – & the species proudly adorns the bottle of Smoky Black Grouse Whisky.

Smoky Black c/othewhiskeynut

Promising a heavier & peatier experience – Smoky Grouse delivers.

The smoke is rather subdued & very well balanced – it won’t blow you away – making for a very easy drinker with a touch of character.

Peated Glenturret c/othewhiskeynut

While the Red Grouse is easily found in Ireland – Snow & Black Grouse are rarely encountered. Brexit is also causing problems with whisky imports/exports & could lead to higher prices.

It looks like the expansion of Grouse in Ireland could hit a rocky patch.

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Whiskey Nut’s Top 10 Blogs of 2020

It’s that time of year when a certain reflection is done of the previous 12 months – and anticipation of those to follow.

My reflection in this instance came about via the stats figures within the WordPress computing machines.

A somewhat random & unexpected Top 10 list of blogs pops up based on views. Not all were written in 2020, some don’t feature Irish Whiskey & others aren’t whiskey related at all!

It’s a fair representation however of my journey through the world of spirits.

What I’d consider my best pieces – spending hours researching, constantly rewriting & fretting over – don’t particularly appear highly. Others randomly do – while a few are not entirely unexpected.

I raise a glass to each & every reader who visited my site – hopefully you’ll keep returning.

Many thanks.

Sitting in front of the computer can be a lonely place & without the feedback & growing readership – would feel even lonelier.

Without further ado – here’s the list – with links to the original blogs.

What was your favourite?

Proper Twelve v Jameson, Irish Whiskey Blends, 40%. Dec ’18.

Black & Blue Premium Whisky, 43%, India via Nigeria. Jan ’19.

Discovery, Highland Single Malt, 12 Year Old Scotch Whisky, 40%. Sept ’19.

The Busker Irish Whiskey, Royal Oak Distillery. May ’20.

Ben Bracken Islay Single Malt, 40%. Dec ’18.

Best Classic Whisky, Blend, 43%, Nigeria. March ’18.

Ron Rumbero, 4 x 40ml miniature pack, 15% to 38%. Dec ’19.

Rampur Select, Single Malt, 43%. Apr ’20.

The World Of Rums, 4 x 40ml Miniature Pack. Nov ’19.

Wall Street, Blended Spirit, 39%, Vietnam. Dec ’17.

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All photos authors own.

A Little- Semi – Blind Tasting

I’ve a small group of whiskey contacts for sample exchanges.

My growing selection of opened spirits bottles – around 70 – is offered in return for something I’ve preferably not had before.

Where possible these samples are requested blind – even if a pre-selection has taken place – hence the semi.

This was the latest selection – A to D.

Blind sampling c/othewhiskeynut

4 samples, 4 identical glasses –Tuath being my receptacle of choice – some water to rinse the palate & a pen & paper to record my findings.

A – Nice & inviting nose, rich, reminds me of sherried influence,unusual & intriguing flavours on the palate,good complexity & depth.

Like this one.

B – Clean & refreshing, sweet & fruity, bit of a punchy heat on the rear.

Cask strength?

C – Anything after a cask strength tends to suffer a little, but this one didn’t sing to me, even on a 2nd tasting.

Perfectly fine but didn’t grab me.

D – Softly smokey, that familiar waft of peat endeared this one to me even if a tad too biscuity sweet malt for my liking.

Easy drinking light smoker.

I tasted the samples without trying to guess what they were. This allowed me to concentrate on the drinking experience without prejudice – as far as possible.

A rudimentary scoring system ranked in order of preference for nose, palate & finish allowed a top score of 4, bottom 12.

First run came out D, A, B then C.

As I found A the most alluring overall I ran through them again – same result.

Only then did I guess what they were – which wasn’t too difficult given the varied styles.

In order of preference;

Peat winner c/obottleowner

D – Old Ballantraun Peated Malt, 50%

Peat wins out – even if not a stunner.

Belgian flavours c/obottleowner

A – Goldly’s Family Reserve, Belgian Single Grain, 40%

Cask strength Kilbeggan c/obottleowner

B – Kilbeggan Single Cask, Cask Strength, 9 Year Old, Distillery pick.

Balvenie c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

C – Balvenie 16 Year Old, Triple Cask, 40%

I must admit to not being too surprised by the reveal. It sort of confirms my palate preferences.

The easy peater won out over and above the intriguing flavours of Goldly’s – which despite being a single grain was most definitely not silent. Cask strength in and of itself is not enough and Speysiders –at least the non-peated variety – don’t do it for me.

How would you have rated them?

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Douglas Laing’s Scallywag, 46% vs Rock Oyster, 46.8%

I haven’t had a #ScotchSunday for a while – so this pair of Blended Malts from Douglas Laing fill that gap!

A pair of Laing’s c/othewhiskeynut

Blended Malts are a growing category.

These 2 do the honours for the regions – Speyside for Scallywag & the Islands for Rock Oyster.

Made up of single malts sourced from distilleries within their regions, both are presented non chill filtered & after checking on the whiskey.de website – appear to be natural colour – despite Scallywag being noticeably darker.

Scallywag c/othewhiskeynut

Scallywag 46%

Golden brown.

A honeyed nose with a bit of depth.

Scallywag back c/othewhiskeynut

Smooth & easy on the palate.

A touch of spice on the finish.

For someone that’s not generally into Speysiders – this is quite attractive.

Rock Oyster c/othewhiskeynut

Rock Oyster, 46.8%

Light straw.

A very gentle waft of seaweed. To be honest I was expecting more!

Light in colour – light on the palate – but it does open up on the finish with a comforting smoky fire by the seaside!

Oyster back c/othewhiskeynut

Both are easy going blended malts that only came alive on the finish for me.

Rock Oyster wins out – but I was a tad underwhelmed.

Whereas for a Speyside – Scallywag impressed.

The cheeky labeling & attractive presentation suitably entertained though & further exploration of the Douglas Laing stable is warranted.

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Raisthorpe Manor, Game Keepers Tipple, Blend, 40% & The English Smokey, Single Malt, 43%

I’m working my way through a rather large lockdown purchase of miniatures.

They were chosen to try out spirits I’d not encountered before & have proved very entertaining.

These 2 whiskies are English based.

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The cheeky chappy enjoys a pleasant whisky. c/othewhiskeynut

Raisthorpe Manor are a fine food & drinks company operating from a farm in Yorkshire. Their Game Keepers Tipple is a sourced Scottish blend & comes in a handy flask shaped bottle to match the humorous character on the label.

Light brown in colour.

Displays a very mild honeyed nose.

The palate is sweet & mellow with a good mouthfeel & pleasing depth of flavour. It reminded me of a Highland style.

A touch of spice on the rear appealed to me.

A very pleasant easy sipper.

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Delightful light smoke. c/othewhiskeynut

The English Smokey is distilled in Norfolk.

I’ve previously encountered their Chapter 15 heavily peated offering & was impressed. This is a milder version.

Softly peated aromas greet you.

Mild on the palate, the smoke gradually rises in intensity leaving a drying mouthfeel.

A lasting prickly tingling wraps up this lovely single malt.

Very nice.

I couldn’t say either are outstanding – but both are very engaging.

Anything with smoke almost automatically wins out for me – but Raisthorpe’s Game Keeper performed admirably.

Fine whiskies indeed!

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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!

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Speyside Selection, Glenlivet v’s GlenAllachie.

Lockdown means opening & sampling my accumulated miniature collection.

A Speyside trio surfaced.

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A trio of Glens. c/othewhiskeynut

How would the old established Glenlivet fare against the newly rebranded & refurbished GlenAllachie?

Now Speyside is single malt central.

The largest concentration of distilleries, the biggest sales & market leading brands – but I’m not a fan.

If smooth honeyed sweet, subtle & soft sherry influenced malt is your thing – heaven.

My tendency is for bold & exciting whiskey – but the GlenAllachie design caught my eye and I’d not encountered it before.

So with that caveat in mind – what did I find?

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Glenlivet 12 c/othewhiskeynut

The archetypical Glenlivet 12 delivered it’s subtle sweet Speyside Malt signature statement.

Nothing here for me.

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GlenAllachie 12 c/othewhiskeynut

GlenAllachie 12 was an immediate improvement. Cleaner, fresher & more pronounced flavours. Perhaps the 46% ABV, non chill-filtered & natural colour presentation helps. A nice little bite at the end & longer lasting bourbony notes too.

This raised my hopes for the GlenAllachie 10 Cask Strength.

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GlenAllachie 10 CS c/othewhiskeynut

Oh dear!

The nose was inviting – but not overpowering.

The palate was just – well – empty!

I struggled to get anything here before the 54.8% ABV kicked in giving an alcoholic rush to the proceedings.

Even though I was disappointed with the Cask Strength – sampling this trio solidified 3 truisms of mine.

1 – Speyside doesn’t suit my palate.

2 – Anything without e150 & chill filtering is automatically more agreeable.

3 – If Cask Strength is your only character – something else is missing.

Stay safe & enjoy whatever your having.

Sláinte

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Irish Whiskey in the US.

One aspect of the growth of Irish Whiskey is the proliferation of new brands hitting the shelves of American liquor stores.

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Westmeath whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Many will be familiar to drinkers in Ireland – Jameson, Bushmills & Kilbeggan – to name a few.

Others not – Kavanagh, Kilbrin & Wolfhound – for example.

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Kilbrin floated my boat! c/othewhiskeynut

Generally the 2nd list are non distillery producers selecting sourced Irish Whiskey then labelling & marketing it under their own brand names.

For the last few years this has been a growing business.

The number of Irish Whiskeys seeking approval from the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has risen from 120 in the 2016-17 period to 204 in the 2019-20 time frame.  Data courtesy TTB Online search page available here.

Clearly this reflects an increased appreciation of Irish Whiskey – as well as a ready supply of Irish Whiskey Distilleries willing to cater for this demand.

It’s marvelous to witness the growing marketability of Irish Whiskey.

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3 Irish Whiskey brands in the US c/othewhiskeynut

I welcome each and every one of these new brands into the ever increasing & more diversified Irish Whiskey category.

There is however still a long way to go.

Scottish Whisky registered 1188 labels in the same 2019-20 period.

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Blind Sample Tasting

Blind tasting.

You – the whiskey – your palate.

No transparency – no openness – no labels.

What could possibly go wrong?

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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.

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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

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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.

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Loch Lomond, Triple Pack, Single Malts, 46% x 3

Oh dear!

Are you ever disappointed reading positive reviews & kind comments regarding a whisky or distillery?

Well Loch Lomond was my moment.

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Loch Lomond miniature pack c/othewhiskeynut

Presented in an attractive triple pack for last years Open Golf Tournament – these 3 whiskies promised ‘innovation & character’.

I got smooth, soft, caramel laden blandness.

It started with Inchmurrin Madeira Cask.

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Mit Farbstoff c/othewhiskeynut

A fudgy caramel nose immediately repulsed me. The palate was far more forthcoming though. Soft fruits danced merrily with a lovely little flourish of gentle prickly spice on the finish.

The Lock Lomond 12yo was a sweet, honeyed, biscuity Single Malt that just lacked character.

I was hoping the peated Inchmoan would save the day.

Alas not!

Any welcome oomph the peat would deliver just got drowned out by soft, smooth blandness on the palate. Only on the finish did a gentle smokiness make it’s presence known.

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Nice design! c/othewhiskeynut

If I’m looking for caramelly single malts, Ben Bracken offers the same experience at half the price. Their Islay version knocks the socks off Inchmoan.

It’s not often I leave unfinished miniatures behind……………

If throwing caramel at your single malts is ‘innovative’ – forget it.

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