Category Archives: Scottish Whisky

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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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.

Sláinte

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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.

Sláinte

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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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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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Fife Whisky Festival 2020

The 2020 Fife Whisky Festival was my 2nd visit to this wonderful show – and it’s 3rd successful outing held in the Corn Exchange building in Fife’s former County Town of Cupar.

My agenda – as always – is to taste as many new whiskies as I could safely manage – using the water stations to rehydrate along the way.

Spotting a newcomer straight away – I wasted no time in getting stuck in.

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Langatun Old Deer, 40%.

My 1st foray into Swiss Whisky – and very good it was too! Nice clean flavours & a lovely long finish. Old Deer is the sherry finished version – I think the peated Old Bear would have been more my style – but it wasn’t available on the day.

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Angel’s Nectar Rich Peat, 46%.

Rich Peat had a more smoky rather than medicinal quality  & was perfectly balanced with some heavier toffee notes. I found the black bottle & design very alluring too.

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Adelphi Dancey Man, Blend, 40%.

The fancy design caught my eye but the liquid inside was a more mediocre affair and failed to excite my palate.

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Holyrood Distillery Smoky & Sweet New Make, 63.5%.

Part of the next generation Scotch Whisky makers & not around for long enough for whisky so a trio of new makes were offered to entertain. Smoky certainly spoke to me with it’s strong powerfulness & drying peat hit. Sweet didn’t captivate me as much.

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Inchdairnie Ryelaw 2yo 59%.

Inchdairnie continue to excite with their mysterious black tent into which you are invited to nose the marvelous mixed grain mash bills including oats, rye & the more traditional barley. Very impressive & innovative. The Ryelaw was young, fresh & spicy with a good body. I can’t wait for future releases from this ground breaking distillery.

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Matugga Golden Rum, 42%.

Rum made a welcome appearance too. Matugga’s Golden Rum had a smoky funk on the nose, a softly smooth palate & a nice warming finish.

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Matugga Mavuno Rum, 46%.

The innovative aging in Acacia Casks has added a lip smacking dry spiciness to the soft funk. Lovely stuff!

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Cardrona Just Hatched, 64.4%.

All the way from New Zealand came this youthful yet powerfully flavored cask strength single malt. One to look out for.

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James Eadie, Cameronbridge 22yo, Marsala cask, 59.6%.

Stopping by the James Eadie stall to congratulate them on their Trade Mark X Blend. 45.6% enjoyed previously here led onto a wider tasting.

The Cameronbridge was the aptly chosen Fife Whisky Show exclusive – although I found it a bit too sweet for my palate.

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The BenRinnes 11yo Sherry Cask, 59.9% was of similar style.

Meanwhile Caol Ila 9yo, 46% won me over with it’s soft peatiniess & dark fruits.

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Lady Of The Glen, North British 26yo, 49.2%.

Obviously an exclusively bourbon cask matured grain suited me better as I enjoyed the combination of vanillas & woody tannins in this attractively bottled offering.

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Old Perth, Sherry Cask, 43.7%.

This revived blend comes in a variety of styles. Despite not being a favourite finish of mine Old Perth had great flavour that would encourage me to try out the others.

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Kirkwall Bay, 46%.

Independent bottlers Morrison & Mackay release this delightfully dry smoky blended malt.

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Tullibardine 15, 43%.

I’d only recently visited this often overlooked distillery & was pleasantly surprised by the attractiveness & enjoyability of their blended & single malt portfolio. This 15 year old only further cemented my appreciation of this hard working distillery.

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Penderyn Peated 46%.

Penderyn had a large presence at the show. Only when being poured their Peated Gold Range product did I notice the bottle sported angular ‘sides’ with etched lettering. A lovely little attention to detail that matched the attractiveness of the liquid inside.

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Rhiannon, 46%.

I didn’t realize Penderyn’s Icon Of Wales series was still going strong after my happy encounter with the 1st Red Flag release here. Rhiannon is the 7th offering and very attractively labelled too – although she didn’t quite win my palate over.

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Royal Welsh Whisky, 43%.

Modeled on an unearthed original Welsh Whisky bottle from the Frongoch Distillery this Icon Of Wales No 6 was much more up my street. A delightfully balanced peat smoke with heavier, dark fruity notes.

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Daftmill 2007 Winter Batch, 46%.

It wouldn’t be a Fife Whisky Festival without the highly esteemed local distillery.  I’d only sampled straight from the cask before when on a visit prior to their whisky being released here. Now was my chance to sample the finished product. A very finely balanced, even well cultured bourbon cask matured malt with depth & complexity.

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Kilkerran Heavily Peated Batch 2, 60.9%.

Sometimes I just love a bold, brash & youthful ‘in yer face’ kind of whisky. Heavily Peated provided that in bucketloads. Gorgeous.

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Kilkerran Heavily Peated Batch 3, 60.9%.

An as yet unreleased slightly older version of Batch 2. This possessed a more balanced peat hit contrasting with the underlying biscuity malt & sweet vanillas from the bourbon casks. Even more gorgeous.

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Nikka Days, 40%.

After discovering the delights of Nikka From The Barrel on my London walkabout here – the garish label of Days pulled me in. I wasn’t disappointed. A fine blend offering rich vanillas & fruitiness with a hint of smoke from some Yoichi malt.

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A group of merry imbibers shared the  last stall & we partook of a Nikka Coffey Grain, 45%.

I found the whisky an apt dram to raise a final glass.

We toasted another fabulously organized Fife Whisky Show.

I toasted the enduring legacy of Irishman Aeneas Coffey to the modern whisky industry.

And we toasted the return of the show in 2021.

Sláinte

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A trip down memory lane in North London & new whiskeys.

I decided to revisit some of my old drinking dens of times past & enjoy a few whiskeys along the way.

The High Cross, Tottenham N17

How could I resist this?

A recently opened micro bar in an elegantly designed 1920’s public toilet that I can’t recall ever using – despite living round the corner for years – but do remember passing daily.

It looks the same on the outside. You enter via the ‘LADIES’ – which is a little disconcerting being a man – and behold a white tiled space replete with chunky wooden tables & chairs. The bijou bar at the ‘GENTLEMEN’ end of the building offers a good selection of local craft beers, assorted spirits & a tasty range of wholesome bar food.

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I’ll have a Nikka. c/othewhiskeynut

Spotting a Nikka From The Barrel on the top shelf I went for it.

Nice!

This blended whisky drew me in with clean & fresh flavours offering decent depth & complexity – with a bit of bite from the 51.4% ABV too.

I’d happily have this one again.

The Beehive, Tottenham, N17

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The Beehive, N17 c/othewhiskeynut

It’s probably around 30 years since I last had a drink in the Beehive.

I remember a traditional bar with carpeted floors, comfy sofas & polished wooden tables leading to a grassy beer garden.

I found a bare wooden floored open space – filling up with Spurs fans – leading to a concreted patio adorned with large sports screens.

Ah well – change is the only constant in London.

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Single Barrel please. c/othewhiskeynut

From the small whiskey selection Four Roses Single Barrel made my glass – or rather plastic cup – Spurs were playing.

Now Four Roses haven’t exactly bowled me over. Their entry Bourbon is decent enough – and this Single Barrel did boost the flavour experience with it’s higher ABV & higher rye content.

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Four Roses Bourbon c/othewhiskeynut

Just not enough character to enthrall me.

I toyed with The Ship – but the pre-match crowds were getting larger – so a short bus ride to Wood Green & a spot of lunch set me up for an invigorating walk up to the magnificent Ally Pally with it’s panoramic view over North London.

The Phoenix Bar, Alexandra Palace, N22

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The Phoenix @ Ally Pally c/othewhiskeynut

It felt like I’d just been taken back to the time my better half – now wife – and I spent an anxious few hours here over 20 years ago. All our worldly possessions were in a transit van nearby awaiting the exchange of contracts allowing us to move into our first flat down in Turnpike Lane at the foot – almost – of the wooded slopes beyond the fine windows of this very establishment.

A Dewar’s White Label was ordered.

Having just been introduced to the delights of Dewar’s 12 Year Old Ancestor blend – a lovely balanced example of peated Scotch – the White Label was rather more basic.

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An aged blend. c/othewhiskeynut

Aged – in this instance – is better.

The Great Northern Railway Tavern, Hornsey, N8

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The Great Northern c/othewhiskeynut

A fine venue to round off the day.

I found it poignant to be in London celebrating a 60th entering a bar where a memorable 30th was had by one sadly departed.

The Great Northern has had a facelift since then. Gone was the sticky carpet & shoddy armchairs. In was a sleek craft beer selection & fine foods with varnished floors & comfy seating.

The whiskey choice was a bit thin though.

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Peat Monster c/othewhiskeynut

I’d previously enjoyed a wonderful Compass Box here – but made do with Jura 10 this time.

A soft smudge of peat over a sweet caramelly base just didn’t cut it with me.

Never mind – It’s all part of the rich tapestry of life.

Bar of The Day – High Cross.

Whiskey of The Day – Nikka From The Barrel.

Sláinte

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Waitrose 3 Year Old Blended Scotch, 40%

In London for the weekend – waking up to Brexitland – I needed a drink.

All the supermarket stores do their own label Scotch.

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Waitrose 3yo c/othewhiskeynut

Waitrose’s is a 3yo proclaiming itself  ‘Rich and Warming’.

It’s certainly rich – with added caramel – which dominated the taste for me.

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Back c/othewhiskeynut

There were hints of fresh young malt & sweet grain underneath – and it is warming – but those caramelly notes lingered.

Basic entry level fare.

Slàinte

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Arbikie, Highland Rye, Aged 4 Years, Single Grain Scotch Whisky, 46%

Dry January?

Not me.

I prefer Rye January.

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Rye, wheat & barley. c/othewhiskeynut

And not just any old rye at that.

I choose Arbikie Highland Rye. The first Scottish Rye for over 100 years.

In reality –  the 3rd interpretation of a grain I love from this boutique distillery.

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Scottish Rye c/othewhiskeynut

The first bottle – at 2 years old – was young , feisty & flavoursome.

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Highland Rye in a Tuath Glass c/othewhiskeynut

The second – at 3 – with additional PX cask finishing – superb.

This third release – at 4 years old – has Armagnac finishing. A suitably symbiotic pairing as Armagnac is the more artisinal & craft produced brandy to it’s mass marketed Cognac sister.

Can this latest release top the other 2 for a tasty trifecta?

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Reviving tradition. c/othewhiskeynut

A deep earthy nose segues into a sweet rye spiciness.

Lovely luxuriant mouthfeel – reminiscent of dark fruits soaked in brandy –  mellows & subdues that signature peppery spice.

The long finish exhibits a joyful prickly tingling dancing away to leave a lip smacking juiciness in contrast to the dryness I normally associate with rye.

A class whisky.

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Single estate whisky. c/othewhiskeynut

Rooted in terroir, tradition & tastiness.

Trifecta indeed!

Sláinte

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Nb, this bottle was kindly supplied by Arbikie Distillery.