Category Archives: Single Malt

Laughfrog Highland Single Malt, 40%

I couldn’t resist the humour of this Laughfrog Highland Malt Scotch.

The mispronunciations of Laphroaig are legendary – why not turn it into a marketing opportunity?

Pity Select Drams bottled it with Highland Malt – perhaps too close to the bone for Islay?

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Don’t croak it! c/othewhiskeynut

Anyway – it made my glass.

The first thing I noticed – or rather didn’t – was a rich phenolic peat smoke. A more muted sweet biscuity malt greeted me instead.

This followed into the palate which developed a full bodied mouthfeel.

A lovely drying gentle spiciness brought up the tail end.

An entertaining easy going malt with a touch of character & perhaps a dash of peat in the background.

Certainly wouldn’t make you croak!

Sláinte

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Glen Grant, Highland Malt Scotch Whisky, 43%

The label on this miniature bottle had me confused.

I always associated Grant’s with being a big selling Speyside blend with a distinctive triangular shaped bottle which hadn’t exactly set my palate alight.

Yet here was a round Glen Grant bottle proclaiming to be from the Highlands.

Turns out there were 2 or 3 Mr Grants who set up whisky distilleries in the 1800’s.

In the 1840’s brothers John & James Grant founded the Glen Grant Distillery. It has gone through many changes of ownership and is now in the hands of the Campari Group – which immediately takes me back to an old advert!

Later on a certain William Grant laid the stones for the Glenfiddich Distillery back in 1886. The company is still with the same family today and has gone on to great success. It is responsible for the Grant’s range of blended whiskies – as well as notable single malts and built the new Tullamore Distillery in Ireland.

So that’s one issue sorted.

Highland Malt when quite clearly it’s a Speyside distillery?

Well not so fast bucko.

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Glen Grant Highland Malt c/othewhiskeynut

Scottish Whisky Regions are actually a fairly recent construct and in my opinion more tied in with clever marketing & branding rather than anything intrinsically connecting whiskies made in these regions. An internet search found an enjoyable explanation here.

Since my miniature seems to be an old bottling – the closest I could identify is offered on Whisky Exchange here – which pre-dates current Scotch Whiskey Region rules.

whisky exchange grant
Courtesy Whisky Exchange

But I only found all this out after tasting  Glen Grant Highland Malt – as I fairly enjoyed it.

There was a slight funkiness on the nose – not overpowering & actually quite characterful – which I’d possibly allow as deterioration from the old bottling – yet otherwise fresh & light.

The palate was signature Speyside – soft, subtle fruits & easy sweet biscuity malt with a hint of spice towards the finish.

If anything the 43% presentation had boosted the flavours within & given an enhanced appeal to my palate.

Not bad at all.

It enticed me to unearth the information above – all from a mixed bag auction lot purchase.

A happy half hour drinking & internet searching.

Sláinte

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Discovery, Highland Single Malt, 12 Year Old Scotch Whisky, 40%

Dundee.

City of jute, journalism & jam – at least according to the Scottish Design Galleries exhibition at the recently opened V&A Dundee.

Architecturally resembling an ocean liner when viewed coming across the Tay Bridge from Fife, the V&A sits next to an actual ocean going vessel – the RSS Discovery.

Built in Dundee back in 1901 for the British National Antarctic Expedition to explore the then uncharted territory of Antarctica, Discovery was captained by Robert Falcon Scott.

Interestingly – from an Irish perspective – there were a couple of Irishmen aboard; Ernest Shackleton from Co Kildare & Tom Crean from Co Kerry – both of whom contributed to further Antarctic exploration and adventures.

Whisky also featured on these voyages – often only for the use of ‘officers and scientific staff only’ as labelled on the Discovery Whisky from 1901.

Yet in the museum shop bottles of a recreated Discovery Whisky are available to all – regardless of rank or status.

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Discovery Whisky, available to all. c/othewhiskeynut

So I bought one – along with a dinky commemorative glass too.

There is no indication of distillery of origin – other than ‘sourced’ on the label that resembles the original – also non distillery specific.

The colour is reassuringly pale.

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Commemorative glass too! c/othewhiskeynut

The palate started off smoothly – yet built in body & flavour. There were hints of leather, hints of smoke and a lovely drying finish with decent prickly heat to boot.

A suitably robust & characterful whisky with some depth & bite that befits the memory of the hardy souls who sailed into the unknown on that Antarctic Adventure of 1901.

Sláinte

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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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Glenfiddich, Special Old Reserve, Pure Malt, Single Malt, 40%

It was a new experience for me – taking part in a Whisky Auction.

I wasn’t after rare or collectable bottles – just a few odd ones to try at an affordable price.

I bid on some mixed bags of miniatures – a broad sweep of whiskies to sample – and happily managed to secure one.

The first result flunked.

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A drained Dimple. c/othewhiskeynut

An old Haig Dimple bottle with indeterminate writing on the back had obviously suffered some spirit loss.

The cap was loose too – allowing air in – with predictable results.

Rancid!

The whiskey inside had deteriorated to such an extent the nose was painful – the sample went straight down the sink!

I ploughed on with an intact bottle of Glenfiddich Pure Malt.

Now Pure Malt is an outdated term. It began to fade in the 1980’s and generally denoted what we’d now call a single malt i.e. malt produced at one distillery.  It could also have meant a blended malt i.e. malt produced at more than one distillery, but as Single Malt also appears on the Glenfiddich label – we can count on the former interpretation.

Basically what I had in front of me was an old Glenfiddich Whisky bottle – so I cracked it open and poured myself a drink.

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Glenfiddich Pure Malt c/othewhiskeynut

Mmmmmm!

Clean & fresh!

A heavy butterscotch sweetness combined with a gentle soft smokiness greeted me.

I was just happy to get a bottle that hadn’t gone off!

To be honest I found the sweet caramel too much – but the gentle smokiness – like the wisps of a fire – made it an enjoyable experience.

A pleasant easy drinking single malt with enough character & flavour to keep it cheerful.

The joys of auctions!

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Kavanagh Irish Whiskey, Single Malt, 40%

My final bottle of Irish Whiskey – from my American market only trio – is Kavanagh Irish Whiskey.

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Kavanagh Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

They release a range of attractively labelled whiskeys. Namely a Blend, a Single Malt, a Single Grain and a 16 Year Old Single Malt – all at 40% ABV – or 80 Proof in America.

This NAS (non age statement) Single Malt made it back to Ireland for me to sample.

The distillery of origin is not stated and Kavanagh seem to be a store brand for Total Wine & More – from where it was purchased.

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Kavanagh’s back! c/othewhiskeynut

The nose was soft & fruity – almost orchard like – with hints of honey.

The palate started off suitably smooth – yet gradually built up with warming vanilla & caramel leaving a welcome soft tingling spice on the finish.

A very easy & approachable single malt. Relatively simple with no great complexity or depth – but for the price point it delivers an enjoyable experience.

I’d happily go on to sample the other Kavanagh Whiskeys based on my findings.

Sláinte

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Dream To Dram, Single Malt, 46% at Dreel Tavern, Anstruther.

The Dreel Tavern is an attractive stone built gastropub sitting above the Dreel Burn that flows into the Firth Of Forth at the endearing ‘stepping stones’ area of Anstruther.

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Only suitable to cross at low tide! c/othewhiskeynut

Popping in for a drink I spotted the local Fife based Kingsbarns Distillery‘s first release – Dream To Dram – and was keen to taste this Lowland Malt.

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Kingsbarns Dream To Dram c/othewhiskeynut

The nose was rather muted. Fresh soft subtle vanilla going on.

The palate started off gently too – before an exuberant spirity kick punched in.

Definitely youthful – perhaps too much so!

I’d have preferred a few more years in the cask.

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Dream To Dram label c/othewhiskeynut

There is pressure on new distilleries to show off their wares – and I commend Kingsbarns for releasing this fresh malt.

At the very least it allows fans the opportunity to try out the new spirit & see how it compares with future more aged releases.

I’m putting it in my ‘Work in Progress’ file.

Sláinte

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SMWS 35.194, A Composition In Wood, 16 Year Old Single Malt

There’s an old saying,

‘You don’t want to start from here.’

And when it came to this Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) bottling – it was probably true.

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The words were better than the content. c/othewhiskeynut

Even at 59.8% the nose was rather soft & sweet. It didn’t give much away.

The palate was more forthcoming.

Vanilla & caramel from the bourbon cask maturation with darker sweeter notes which dried out pleasingly from the Oloroso influence.

Standard Speyside stuff.

The promise of oaky tannins from the wood never developed to the extent I expected given the name – and ultimately I was left rather disappointed.

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SMWS back label c/othewhiskeynut

Given Speyside Malts aren’t my favourite flavour profile – the best excitement I gained from this bottle was my own eager anticipation prior to the tasting.

The eloquent writing on the label proved far more attractive than the actual contents.

I shouldn’t have started my exploration of SMWS from here.

Sláinte

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Tormore 12, Single Malt, 40% at The View

Wormit sits on the Fife side of the River Tay overlooking Dundee City.

Back in 1879 the recently built Tay Rail Bridge collapsed into the river taking a train and all the people inside with it.

A new memorial to the disaster sits on the peaceful foreshore with fine views of the current bridge beyond.

Wormit also has a fine restaurant in The View – the purpose of my visit – and a few choice whiskies to sample.

I chose Tormore 12 Year Old.

tormore 12
Tormore 12 c/othewhiskyexchange

My knowledge of this whisky was scant – but on tasting – it told me all I needed to know.

The nose is soft & subtle.

The palate started off weak & watery – bland & inoffensive – devoid of any strong flavours or character.

There was a suggestion of mild heat on the pleasant easy finish.

It’s how I experience many a malt from Speyside.

Soft, subtle, easy & approachable.

Ultimately dull to my tastes.

Unlike the rich flavoursome food served up by The View.

I’d particularly recommend the Haggis Fritters myself.

Sláinte

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Powerscourt Distillery

When your country estate already pulls in a substantial amount of visitors to the stunningly ornate gardens with magnificent views of Sugarloaf Mountain behind.

When a 5 Star hotel graces your grounds along with 2 championship designed golf courses laid out in the beautiful Wicklow scenery.

Not to mention the history, tales and adventures contained within the walls of the grand 18th Century mansion of Powerscourt House itself.

What exactly would be the icing on the cake?

Well a single estate whiskey distillery wouldn’t go amiss now would it?

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Powerscourt Distillery c/othewhiskeynut

Discreetly built onto the old estate sawmill, Powerscourt Distillery is fully operational busily laying down casks of single malt Irish Whiskey to mature in it’s nearby warehouse.

The 3 resplendent copper pot stills – made by Forsyths – sit majestically in a modern clean & bright open plan space allowing visitors a close up look, feel & smell of the whole grain to glass process of whiskey making.

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3 Copper Pot Stills c/othewhiskeynut

Noel Sweeney has brought his many distinguished years of knowledge as Master Distiller to Powerscourt overseeing the production of both single malt – as well as single pot still distillate – to this exciting distillery.

It will be a few years before Powerscourt Distillery’s own spirit is fully mature – but in the meantime a trio of whiskeys released under the Fercullen label – the old name for the lands Powersourt Estate sits on – are available.

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A tasty trio c/othewhiskeynut

Unusually in this instance Noel probably had a hand in distilling these sourced whiskeys from his days at Cooley & Kilbeggan Distilleries under a number of different owners.

Tours include a tasting of all 3 whiskeys in one of Powerscourt Distillery’s sumptuously laid out rooms.

The 10 Year Old Fercullen Single Grain Whiskey was offered first.

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Fercullen 10yo Single Grain c/othewhiskeynut

Now there aren’t that many single grains on the market – which is a pity – as this one shows up the light yet delicately balanced sweet & fruity flavours within a great single grain. Far from being silent there were notes of honey, citrus and a gentle woody spice too.

Very approachable & easy on the palate.

The attractively priced Fercullen Blend was a bit of a pleaser too.

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Fercullen Premium Blend c/othewhiskeynut

It displayed a complex set of notes from soft fruitiness to darker oaky tannins within an extremely well balanced mix.

A blend you can happily sit back & savour.

The pride of place meanwhile went to the Fercullen 14 Year Old Single Malt.

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Fercullen 14yo Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

Packing extra ABV at 46% – as opposed to the 40% of it’s siblings – the 14 Year Old had added depth & boosted character from the exclusively ex-bourbon cask maturation used in all 3 offerings.

When many a distillery relies on additional finishes to give the spirit a lift – Fercullen demonstrates the beauty of what to many is a simple standard of Irish Whiskey.

A very impressive range of whiskeys for a very impressive distillery.

Sláinte

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