Category Archives: World Whisky

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

Whiskey is a global business.

It reaches far and wide.

I love exploring the outer edges of the industry.

One emerging market everyone is keen to get in on is Africa – Nigeria in particular.

With a population estimated at 200 million – making it the 7th most populous nation in the world – and an alcohol sales figure of 2.84 billion dollars in 2014 – who wouldn’t want to have a slice of that cake?

Indian whisky is to the forefront here – at least until Nigeria develops it’s own distilling industry.

India produces mass market blends usually consisting of imported bulk malt from Scotland – augmented with Indian grain – plus a dash of added caramel.

All the big players – Diageo, Pernod-Ricard, United Spirits & others all have their own particular brands in this category. I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying a few here, here & here.

They retail – in Lagos at least – for about €5 per 750ml bottle of Nigerian strength – 43% – whisky.

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Black & Blue Premium Whisky c/othewhiskeynut

My latest acquisition – via my Nigerian correspondent – is Black & Blue Premium Whisky.

The name is entertaining.

A play on the successful Black & White Scotch mixed in with the premiumisation associated with Blue (a la Johnnie Walker Blue)  – and the unfortunate association attached to ‘battered black & blue.

It’s not clear as to the origins of this brand.

The label has a London address – a rather drab office in Kingsbury NW9 – and oddly a phone number – which rang out when I called.

Oh – I think ROI in this instance means Republic Of India.

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All the information you need? c/othewhiskeynut

I’ve not yet encountered any Irish whiskey in this segment of the market.

So what does ‘the finest oak aged matured malt blended with Indian grain spirit’ taste like?

Well – there is a burnt quality to the nose. I couldn’t describe it as smoky or peaty – yet it’s rather attractive. Mainly as it dampened down the sweet caramel influence.

This followed through into the taste – which didn’t offer much regards depth of flavour or complexity – but it was smooth & approachable.

The burnt note returned on the finish – which along with the 43% strength left a decent degree of heat & warm feeling on the palate.

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Sláinte! c/othewhiskeynut

It certainly didn’t leave my insides black & blue.

Just pleasantly intoxicated.

Sure at only a fiver – what can you complain about!

Sláinte

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Z For Zed

World Whisky Day is fast approaching on Saturday the 19th May 2018.

As part of the build up I’m featuring a series of blogs – both old and new – over the next month focusing on a country from each letter of the alphabet – if possible – that makes whisky.

Today is Z for Zed.

But Zed doesn’t need any whiskey – because in the famous lines uttered by Bruce Willis’s character in Pulp Fiction – Zed’s dead.

There are a few countries that begin with Z however.

They are very much alive and by all accounts they have a growing penchant for whiskey.

Zimbabwe is one of them.

I had the pleasure of sampling a bottle of Best Whisky from Westside Distillers in Harare.

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Best Classic Whisky c/othewhiskeynut

Now the name is a bit of a misnomer – it’s clearly not the best.

Best Whisky appears to be a blend of ‘Premium Grain Spirit & Finest Scotch Whisky’ according to the label.

It also has a healthy dose of added caramel & comes over rather sweet, devoid of any real flavour yet packs a lovely glowing heat.

A robust little blend.

There is another company.

African Distillers also in Harare but with satellite offices throughout the country.

They too do a whisky.

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Gold Blend c/oAfricanDistillers

I didn’t manage to get my hands on this one so what exactly it is a blend of I don’t know.

Either way there is obviously a growing demand that is being satisfied by local producers, blenders and bottlers.

As their skills grow you can only assume the Best will get better.

I look forward to that day.

Sláinte.

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Y For Yemeni Coffee Liqueur

World Whisky Day is fast approaching on Saturday the 19th May 2018.

As part of the build up I’m featuring a series of blogs – both old and new – over the next month focusing on a country from each letter of the alphabet – if possible – that makes whisky.

Today is Y for Yemen.

Yemen doesn’t do whiskey.

It currently does war.

Which is destroying it’s rich history, culture and people.

One of those historical people who lived in the territory we now call Yemen was a character by the name of Jãbir Ibn Hayyãn. He was an early alchemist and is credited with inventing the alembic still – which to this day is the basis of modern distillation.

One thing Yemen does produce is coffee. It happens to be where the coffee craze originated from – at least according to an article here.

An enterprising American spirits maker has sourced some of those coffee beans and used them in a brandy based liqueur.

I give you Firelit Yemen Blue Bottle Coffee Liqueur.

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Firelit Coffee Liqueur c/ogoogle

It may not be whiskey.

But it does provide a link to one of the founding fathers of modern day whiskey making.

Without Jãbir Ibn Hayyãn and his experiments in Yemen – there would be no alembic still – and no whiskey.

I’ll raise a glass to him.

Sláinte.

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X For Xanadu Whiskey

World Whisky Day is fast approaching on Saturday the 19th May 2018.

As part of the build up I’m featuring a series of blogs – both old and new – over the next month focusing on a country from each letter of the alphabet – if possible – that makes whisky.

Today is X for Xanadu.

As there are no countries listed under X by the Irish Department Of Foreign Affairs And Trade I might as well join Olivia Newton John in the everlasting world of Xanadu!

I’m not sure what whiskeys would be served there.

The expression formerly known as Jameson Crested Ten – now simply reduced to Crested – has a bold X on the label.

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Crested c/oocado

It has a more flavoursome appeal than the standard Jameson. Although it shares the same pot still & grain blended mix – a little bit more ageing combined with longer maturation in sherry casks adds to the drinking experience.

Perhaps the more robust character of James Eadie’s  recreated Trade Mark X would be better suited.

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X marks the spot! c/othewhiskeynut

I had the pleasure of sampling this fine blend at the inaugural Fife Whisky Festival and it certainly won me over with the boldness of the flavours combined with a healthy peat influence.

It’s part of a movement in Scotland to look to companies, distilleries & whiskies of the past and bring them to life in the present.

If they all taste as good as Trade Mark X – I’m all for it!

As for drinking whiskey whilst roller skating AND wearing some of those dodgy eighties fashion outfits EVEN if it’s with the delightful Olivia – I’m not sure.

Sláinte.

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W for Welsh Whisky

World Whisky Day is fast approaching on Saturday the 19th May 2018.

As part of the build up I’m featuring a series of blogs – both old and new – over the next month focusing on a country from each letter of the alphabet – if possible – that makes whisky.

Today is W for Wales.

For a lot of folks Wales would be better known for Tom Jones, Daffodils, coal and towns with long names like Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch!

It also happens to do some lovely whisky.

And there’s enough to ‘Burn Down The House’! Cue Tom Jones.

Penderyn Whisky was launched in 2004. It has grown to produce a wide variety of single malts which have gathered much acclaim.

My entry into Penderyn was via their initial Icons Of Wales offering – Red Flag.

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A good whisky doesn’t last for long! c/othewhiskeynut

Naming a bottle remembering the first time a red flag was raised in social protest – which happened to be in Wales – I found a rather brave move. Many whiskies celebrate royalty – so Penderyn Red Flag was a break from the normal and attracted my attention.

Bottled at 41%, non chill-filtered with no added caramel is a bonus to begin with.

Matured in ex-bourbon casks & finished in madeira barrels this single malt was a very easy & pleasant drinker.  Some sweetness from the madeira mixed well with the slight spice & vanilla from the charred bourbon casks.

I was keen to try more from Penderyn.

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Penderyn Rich Oak c/othewhiskeynut

A chance encounter with Penderyn Rich Oak Limited Edition at a whisky show didn’t stand out for me at the event. Perhaps being swamped with great tasting whiskies means only the strongest flavours stand out & maybe a more muted beauty gets lost in the mix.

Who knows.

What I do know is I’ll be looking forward to trying out more expressions from this expanding Welsh distillery.

Sláinte.

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V For Vietnamese Whisky

World Whisky Day is fast approaching on Saturday the 19th May 2018.

As part of the build up I’m featuring a series of blogs – both old and new – over the next month focusing on a country from each letter of the alphabet – if possible – that makes whisky.

Today is V for Vietnam.

Originally posted December 2017.

 

WALL STREET, BLENDED SPIRIT, 39%, VIETNAM.

Good morning Vietnam!

It would be odd to experience snow in Vietnam, but snow has arrived in Ireland, and it certainly wouldn’t be a rare occurrence at Diageo’s Scottish whisky distilleries who provide the main base ingredient for this Vietnamese bottling.

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Vietnam Wall St in the snow. c/othewhiskeynut

My blog on a Brazilian Whisky of the same name & similar composition here uncovered this Vietnamese Wall Street offering. Fortunately by an opportunistic twist of fate my South East Asian correspondent obligingly brought back a half bottle for me to sample.

Much appreciated Mr G!

Just like the Brazilian Wall St, the Vietnamese Wall St uses imported Scotch whisky mixed with locally produced spirits to obtain an expression that has both the allure of premium quality whisky – yet at an affordable price.

This strategy means Diageo can get some of it’s product into the country but lessens the high import tax which would make the price prohibitive for the mass market. It also retains some degree of aspiration for a superior foreign product – regardless if  it’s actually superior or not – yet mixed with locally made distillate – probably of the rice variety.

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Premium? c/othewhiskeynut

There is still a culture of home made beer & spirits making in Vietnam as highlighted in a report here. This ‘traditional’ rice based distillate is facing the threat of growing globalisation as younger folks aspire to more recognisable brands – as in this Wall St blended spirit.

I couldn’t find anything on the internet as regards what constitutes a Vietnamese whisky or not – so my assumption is the situation is very much like how Ireland & Scotland would have been before the coming of definition rules & codes of practice laws.

Certainly makes it exciting!

And no – I had no fears in sampling this bottle – Diageo have given it their seal of approval after all.

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A local Diageo brand. c/othewhiskeynut

So what did I find?

Well to begin with I found the bottle design – a neat little WS logo with clear & simple information labels back & front – visually attractive. Those labels also announced caramel was added – something missing on many Irish & Scottish bottles. There was also no tamper-proof plastic cap to hamper me pouring the spirit into a suitable glass.

On the nose I found a soft warm muted caramel aroma which was inviting.

Initially a rather soft mouth feel morphed into a straight – but not unpleasant – alcoholic kick somewhat devoid of any real character or flavour before it faded away to a short ending.

Overall I found it a rather simple easy drinking clear & crisp strong alcoholic beverage with caramel being the only hint of taste.

In a back to back with the Brazilian Wall St I actually preferred the no nonsense honest approach of the Vietnamese Wall St.

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Wall Street Brazil c/othewhiskeynut

The irony for both is there is absolutely no bourbon influence in either expression.

Aspirations, expectations & associations over and above actual reality seem to be a marketing ploy in both countries.

Sláinte.

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U For Uruguayan Whisky

World Whisky Day is fast approaching on Saturday the 19th May 2018.

As part of the build up I’m featuring a series of blogs – both old and new – over the next month focusing on a country from each letter of the alphabet – if possible – that makes whisky.

Today is U for Uruguay.

Uruguay produces a number of whiskies.

They generally follow a well worn trend of importing Scotch whisky in bulk – blending it with locally produced spirits – then releasing it under local labels for the domestic market.

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Mac Pay Whisky c/oCabaS.A.

India has taken this to great success with Officer’s Choice being the biggest selling whisky brand in the world. So it’s an attractive model to follow. It’s often familiar names that are behind these products too – Diageo & Pernod Ricard are a couple of the players in this field.

Uruguay has taken it a step further however. They have produced their own whisky – or Whiskies Nacionales in the brochure.

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Whiskies Nacionales c/oCabaS.A.

The one I’d like to try is Whisky Añejo.

Añejo basically translates as old, aged or vintage.

Ageing in wooden casks is what really separates whisky from other distilled spirits. It adds that golden colour – unless e150 caramel has been used – as well as giving a healthy dose of fabulous flavours due to the interaction of the wood with the liquid.

Quite how long Whisky Añejo has been aged is not stated – but for the name alone – I’d gladly try it out.

Is anyone going to Uruguay for their holidays?

Sláinte.

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My thanks to From Alaska To Brazil for the header image.

T For Taiwanese Whisky

World Whisky Day is fast approaching on Saturday the 19th May 2018.

As part of the build up I’m featuring a series of blogs – both old and new – over the next month focusing on a country from each letter of the alphabet – if possible – that makes whisky.

Today is T for Taiwan.

I did really want to go for Turkish Whisky – or viski as it’s known.

Turkish Whisky
Ankara Malt Viski c/oviskigurme

Despite having a great back story & good reviews here – I usually prefer commenting on something I’ve actually tasted.

So Taiwan it is!

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Tiawan’s finest c/othewhiskeynut

I had the pleasure of tasting a trio of Kavalan Whisky products at the excellent Whisky Birmingham show. It’s part of the reason I go to whiskey shows. To sample & taste hard to find or unusual whiskies before purchasing a bottle – or not as the case may be!

The Kavalan Single Malt Port Cask hit the spot for me.

Port finish is a style I usually enjoy. It’s generally a bit heavier in the mouth. Soft, rounded, dark fruits & sometimes a lovely dry & prickly finish which I like.

I’d probably buy this one – if I didn’t already have an overflowing cupboard of opened whiskey bottles! It set my island on fire – to intro a Taiwanese rock outfit!

The Kavalan Podium & King Car Single Malts I found too sweet for my liking.

These are all relatively young malts.

The angel’s are greedy in the warm climate. 15 to18% per year is not unusual. How this rapid maturation affects the taste I don’t know – but Kavalan seems to have won many admirers.

On the strength of my experiences I’d be willing to explore more of their offerings.

Sláinte.

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S For Spanish Whisky

World Whisky Day is fast approaching on Saturday the 19th May 2018.

As part of the build up I’m featuring a series of blogs – both old and new – over the next month focusing on a country from each letter of the alphabet – if possible – that makes whisky.

Today is S for Spanish Whisky.

Spain is synonymous with summer holidays, glorious sunshine, golden sands, blue seas & plenty of sangria.

But I found something else on a recent trip there.

Destilerias y Crianza del Whisky S.A. – or DYC Whisky to be short.

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DYC Whiskies c/oBeamSuntory

It all started back in 1958 as an alternative to the usually dearer imported whiskies and is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Beam Suntory.

I had the pleasure of picking up their standard bearer DYC Selected Blend for only 11 euro and found it stood up very well against a range of other flagship big name blends.

A 12 year old DYC Single Malt also went down very well after procuring a bottle via the Barrique store in Aachen.

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Barrique purchases c/o thewhiskeynut

When I get back down to Spain – or if anyone is down there now  and wants to bring me back a present – I’ll be checking out the entire DYC range of blends & malts.

Salud!

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Thanks to Beam Suntory for the use of the DYC Whisky image.

R For Russian Whisky

World Whisky Day is fast approaching on Saturday the 19th May 2018.

As part of the build up I’m featuring a series of blogs – both old and new – over the next month focusing on a country from each letter of the alphabet – if possible – that makes whisky.

Today is R for Russian Whisky.

It was illegal to produce whisky in Russia up to 2015.

A growing demand for imported whisky may have been a factor in changing the law.

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Gild Whisky c/othedrinksreport

Imported whisky like this Scotch specifically branded for the Russian market.

Altai whisky
Altai Whisky c/opackagingoftheworld

The proposed home made stuff looks a bit more meaty.

Although we will have to wait a little longer for the Stoli Whisky to mature fully before it’s impending release.

Check out the Moscow Times here.

Na Zdorovie.

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Many thanks to NDTV for the header image.