Category Archives: Single Malt

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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Tyrconnell Single Malts, 40% & 43%

Whiskey is constantly changing & evolving.

It might just be the labels.

It could be the distillery owners.

Or perhaps even the recipe.

Well the Tyrconnell Single Malt has definitely experienced the first two items – has the third one altered?

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Old versus New Tyrconnell c/othewhiskeynut

I tried out a couple of miniatures to find out.

The old one came first.

Quite spirity, but the warming vanilla & caramel notes are reassuring.

Mellow to begin with, a decent fruitiness develops, lovely soft spices open up at the end leaving a satisfyingly long warm finish.

A good runner.

Onto the new one.

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More info, more taste? c/othewhiskeynut

I must say the new label is cleaner & fresher.

There is additional information too. ‘Double Distilled’ appears – as well as ‘Mit Farbstoff’  – (added caramel) – and the distillery of origin – Cooley.

Not that any of it altered the flavour – as I could find no discernible difference to the enjoyment of this malt.

There might have been a slight enhancement of the taste – but whether this was due to my knowledge there’s an extra boost of ABV to 43% is debatable.

This is still a nice clean & easy fruity single malt.

Hopefully it will be running for a long time yet – especially as the new horse is heading the opposite way to the original!

Sláinte

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Egan’s Centenary Irish Whiskey, Blend, 46%

It’s not very often you get to attend the launch of a whiskey in the Council Chambers of a local Town Hall.

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Egan’s Whiskey in the Chambers c/othewhiskeynut

But then this is no ordinary whiskey.

It’s a whiskey steeped with history, heritage & family.

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The man, the whiskey, the heritage. c/othewhiskeynut

A whiskey commemorating the 100th anniversary of the passing of Henry Egan.

Descendants of Henry gathered together outside his former house – now Tullamore Town Hall – not only to remember him – but also to revive the family tradition – Irish Whiskey.

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An Egan family get together. c/othewhiskeynut

The well respected Midland’s business of P&H Egan loomed large in Tullamore from the 1850’s right up to the 1960’s. Alongside whiskey blending, many other businesses were engaged in by generations of the family. A walk round the town showed the extent of the family’s influence with the current Bridge House Hotel being originally built as the main shop & head office for the Egan’s operations.

Offaly History do a blog detailing much information on the Egan family history in Tullamore here.

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Precious cargo! c/othewhiskeynut

During the walk a bottle of Egan’s Whiskey was given to the owners of barge 42B. The very same barge P&H Egan’s had owned back in the day to transport goods to and from Dublin via the Grand Canal – the motorway of it’s day.

The highlight of the proceedings was undoubtedly the unveiling of Egan’s Centenary Irish Whiskey in the Brewery Tap Bar – also previously owned by P&H Egan’s as a brewery for their Ales.

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Whiskey tasting ahead! c/othewhiskeynut

The complete collection of Egan’s Whiskeys were laid out for an eager gathering of family & friends at the bar.

To start off the tasting, Egan’s Vintage Grain.

A gorgeously warm single grain presented at 46% & non chill filtered – as all Egan’s Whiskeys are – full of vanillas & caramel from the ex-bourbon cask maturation.

Egan’s Fortitude Single Malt.

Fully matured in PX Sherry casks this non age statement – NAS – offering didn’t excite my palate as much. There were more dark fruits present – and a lovely soft spicy dryness at the end – but it just missed the mark for me.

Egan’s 10 Year Old Single Malt.

Everyone at my table enjoyed this one!

Boasting a 47% ABV this single malt was easy on the palate yet bursting with fruity juiciness & gentle spices at the end.

Egan’s 15 Year Old Legacy Reserve.

A rare treat to encounter this lovely rich whiskey again. I particularly enjoyed the depth of character with dry oaky tannins, leathery & tobacco notes from the long maturation. It didn’t suit everyone though – as I found out by chatting to my fellow imbibers. A few of them happened to be Egan descendants themselves! Although not involved with the whiskey venturing Egan’s of the present day.

And then the glorious finale!

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Egan’s First Lady of Whiskey presenting Egan’s Centenary Irish Whiskey. c/othewhiskeynut

Egan’s Centenary Irish Whiskey – poured individually out of the first bottle ever to be opened by the Intrepid Spirits founder himself – with the elegantly displayed packaging showcased by the Egan’s First Lady of Whiskey too!

The nose was initially softer, cleaner almost – before the gentle subtleness of dark fruits opened up.

The taste was attractively warming. A smooth velvety mouthfeel with dark cherry fruitiness from the ex-cognac casks used to finish this blend.

A flourish of spice rounded off this fabulous whiskey.

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Gorgeous bottle, gorgeous whiskey. c/othewhiskeynut

A fitting whiskey to commemorate one of the founding Egan family members who built a successful business empire in the past.

A fitting whiskey to be enjoyed in the present.

And a fitting whiskey to toast future generations of Egan’s a long & prosperous involvement in the spirits trade.

Sláinte

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Kempisch Vuur, Single Malt, 46%

As a large Belgian media conglomerate has just swallowed up a chunk of Irish news media – I thought it opportune to swallow some Belgian Whiskey.

Now Belgium is relatively new to the game of whisky distilling – but have a long history of distilling jenever – so it’s rather refreshing to see a bold  ‘Aged 3 Years’ statement emblazoned across the front of this very attractively presented bottle of single malt.

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Fabulous bottle, fabulous contents. c/othewhiskeynut

Just as every Belgian Beer has it’s own glassware – it seems as if Belgian Whisky is no exception to this highly entertaining & endearing custom.

My interest was certainly piqued.

Vuur – for anyone who doesn’t know – is Flemish for fire – I had to look it up myself – which is explained by the peat content.

Belgium does actually have peat bogs. Mainly around the Haute Fagnes area – oddly near the highest point in Belgium at Signal De Botrange. I only know this as I happened to visit the place when on holiday a few years ago.

Belgian lightly peated malted barley was used in this whisky.

Extra ‘fire’ content is provided by the use of ex-Laphroaig quarter casks for maturation.

And a great job they do too!

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Single Cask too! c/othewhiskeynut

There’s a joyful youthfulness about it.

A little bit bold – a tad brash – but full of flavour & appeal.

The peat influence is relatively quiet to begin with – a trifle soft – while the barley sweetness slowly gets consumed into a glowing ashy peat smokiness that gradually dries out the palate leaving a very satisfyingly long warm feeling on the finish.

A beautiful little number from Belgium!

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I sourced my bottle via the wonderfully named Drankenwereld shop in Belgium itself here.

Kempisch Vuur website here.

 

 

Sean’s, Clonmacnoise Irish Whiskey, Single Malt, 40%

I like a whiskey that takes you on a journey.

A journey of taste – as well as history.

Sean’s Clonmacnoise Single Malt Irish Whiskey does this in bundles.

A short boat ride down the mighty River Shannon from just outside Sean’s Bar’s beer garden in Athlone – is the monastic settlement of Clonmacnoise

The art of distillation is often attributed to monks bringing back the knowledge from the middle east. The route they would have traveled into the heart of Ireland is the very same River Shannon.

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Sean’s Clonmacnoise Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

The earliest written record of  aqua vitae, or uisce beatha, or whiskey as we now know it – was written in the Annuls Of Clonmacnoise in 1405. It regales the story of an unfortunate local chieftain who died of a ‘surfeit of aqua vitae’ during festivities.

Meanwhile I was fortunate enough to receive an advance bottle of Clonmacnoise by Sean’s for appraisal – & more sensible drinking.

Now I’m a fan of pubs releasing their own whiskey brands. It harks back to the days when licensed premises would have had a barrel of whiskey propped up at the bar from which they would have dispensed the spirits inside.

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Sean’s, Ireland’s Oldest Bar c/othewhiskeynut

The degree of individuality, diversity & tastes experienced when going from bar to bar would have been vast – and to a certain extent bars releasing their own brands today reflects that history.

Nowadays the whiskey is usually sourced from a number of distilleries and bottled for the bar.

Sean’s happens to have been sourced at West Cork Distillers (WCD) – and I must admit to being a fan of this slightly unconventional distillery founded by three friends who were mainly previously involved in the fishing industry.

So how did I find Clonmacnoise Whiskey?

Well the colour is a lovely dark amber. Suggestive of charred casks – which WCD do a lot of – or perhaps a sherry finish.

The nose is quite youthful & invigorating – with a warm & inviting depth to it. There’s some dark fruity notes & an intriguing soft hint of smoke.

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Sean’s Bar Athlone c/othewhiskeynut

It starts off light & easy. Very accessible & gently warming – but then it takes you on a journey – slowly developing layers of enjoyable flavours & complexity before a lovely dry spiciness with subtle hints of smoke finishes of this characterful little number.

Sean’s Clonmacnoise captures both the modern rebirth of Irish Whiskey with it’s youthful vitality & modern style – as well as remembering the long historic legacy of Irish Whiskey that has journeyed so far from it’s original birthplace.

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The Viking Ship on the mighty River Shannon at Athlone c/othewhiskeynut

You too can take that journey – by having a glass of Sean’s Clonmacnoise Whiskey in the Oldest Bar In Ireland – Guinness Book Of World Records certified – as well as journeying down river on the Viking Ship from Athlone to visit Clonmacnoise Monastery – home of the earliest written record of whiskey in the world.

Just go easy – don’t end up like the poor old chieftain!

Sláinte

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Mackmyra Vinterglod, 46.1%, v Bergslagens Peat Ferie, 46%, Single Malts

I had an unexpected package arrive just in time for International Whisky Day on 27th March – a pair of fabulous Swedish Single Malts for me to enjoy courtesy of the Irish Drams blog here.

They came as part of an informal whisky sample exchange I have going with a number of fellow whisky fans – always happy to have more.

The pair were poured into my favourite drinking receptacle  – the Túath Irish Whiskey Glass – and the fun began.

Wow!

The flavours in both of these malts just explode on the palate giving a tantalisingly complex taste experience.

This matches my encounters of other Swedish malts sampled on a recent trip to Göteborg which benefit from being non chill filtered & presented at natural colour.

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Vinterglod c/oMackmyra

Mackmyra Vinterglöd is full of spicy cinnamon & orange on the nose which follows through on the taste.

There’s a bed of warm vanilla underneath which slowly dries out leaving a gorgeously spicy tingling.

A wonderful spicy winter warmer!

Very novel.

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Peat Ferie c/oBergslagens

Bergslagens is very dark.

Gentle sweet peat on the nose, perhaps muted by the rich sherry notes.

The taste starts off smooth & silky, before a dry ashy peat wafts in leaving a wonderfully drying sensation tinged with stone fruitiness.

Loving the contrast between the deceptively smooth entry morphing into a stunningly dry ashy hit.

Both are slightly unusual malts, both are very appealing & both push the boundaries of what a great tasting whisky should be.

If anything Vinterglöd reminds me of the Scottish Liqueur Drambuie – without the cloying honey sweetness.

Bergslagens just wins it for me. The powerfully dry ash suits my palate perfectly.

For further information on these fabulous malts press here for Vinterglöd,

And here for Peat Ferie.

Happy International Whisky Day!

Sláinte

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Teeling 21 Year Old Vintage Reserve, 46%, Single Malt

I always get a frisson of excitement entering a bar & finding some rare or discontinued whiskey on the shelves.

It’s a chance to sample & taste a fleeting timepiece of the larger whiskeysphere with ever changing bottles on offer.

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Keenan’s c/othewhiskeynut

Keenan’s of Tarmonbarry – a popular dining spot on the banks of the mighty River Shannon just inside the County Roscommon border – happened to be the bar.

Teeling 21 Year Old Vintage Reserve happened to be the whiskey.

The nose was suitably rich, filled with dark fruitiness & slightly drying woody tannins.

A gorgeously smooth entry developed with sweet yet deep & dark fruity notes which gently morphed into a soft dry spiciness followed by wonderfully woody drying tannins & oaky opulence.

The dark sweetness, gentle spice & dry tannins complemented each other as they slowly ebbed away on the palate to my great satisfaction.

A fabulous find in a delightfully enjoyable establishment.

Sláinte

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