Tag Archives: Belgium

Rye For 4th of July

Rye is seen as a quintessentially American style of whiskey often associated with pre-prohibition days. But like a lot of things in America – I’d argue it’s an immigrant from the old country.

There is a long tradition of growing rye in Northern European countries. This grain has found it’s way into many breads, beers, cereals and of course – whiskey.

The current growing demand for rye in whiskey terms has precipitated countries not normally associated with rye whiskey to begin to explore the market.

My small selection of 4 ryes – well a loose interpretation of that style – reflects this.

I’ll let The Presidents of the United States of America have their say first.

Peaches. A colloquial term used to describe a close & good friend.

Rye whiskey is definitely a close friend of mine!

That rich, warm dry spiciness with a long finish is  what I’m looking for & elevates rye to being a peach among whiskey styles in my book.

Real peaches come in a can – as the song goes – but rye comes in a bottle. Let me introduce you to my 4 bottles.

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PrizeFight c/othewhiskeynut

Ireland; PrizeFight Whiskey, 43% NAS, blend

Produced by West Cork Distillers for a 3rd party – this whiskey is a blend of Irish single malts & grain whiskey aged in ex-bourbon barrels before being finished in ex-rye casks from Tamworth Distilling, NH.

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Brothership Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Ireland/America; Brothership Whiskey, 45%, 10yo, blend.

A blend of 10 year old Irish single malt & 10 year old American rye this is truly a trans-atlantic whiskey. A collaboration of Connacht Whiskey Co & New Liberty Distillery PA.

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Sunken Still Rye c/othewhiskeynut

Belgium; Sunken Still Rye, 45% 4yo.

Yes that’s right – a Belgian Rye Whiskey produced with predominately Belgian rye grain in ex-bourbon barrels for 4 years by the Filliers Distillery.

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FEW Rye c/othewhiskeynut

USA; FEW Rye, 46.5%, NAS.

An American rye whiskey made with predominately american rye grain in charred virgin oak barrels by the FEW Distillery, Evanstown, Chicago.

Colour

I like to see a variation in the colour of the whiskeys I drink. It foretells of the different smells, flavours & overall drinking experiences to be enjoyed.

FEW came out the darkest – reflecting the use of charred virgin oak casks. There was a jump down then to the paler duo of PrizeFight  & Brothership with Sunken Still  coming in with an almost pale yellowy hue.

 

Nose

Brothership kicks off with a soft barley sweetness before developing muted rye spice. PrizeFight comes across with a more fresher, clearer nose & an equally enjoyable spice. Sunken Still has a wonderfully aromatic floral bouquet whilst FEW delivers a classic peppery rye punch.

Taste

The soft smooth delivery of Brothership quickly develops into a lovely rich dry spice. PrizeFight has a cleaner palate with a slightly less intense rye spice.

Meanwhile the Sunken Still’s fragrant bouquet flows through into a wonderful cornucopia of taste on the tongue with a rich dry spice that is simply divine. Beautiful.

The FEW doesn’t disappoint either. To start there is that caramel/vanilla bourbon like feel followed by an almost classic rich peppery spice that tingles & teases as it drys the palate.

Finish

PrizeFight’s lovely spice fades slowly, only marginally beaten by the warmer, drier spice of  Brothership. FEW lasts the longest whilst Sunken Still manages that dry floral spice right to the end.

Overall

What stands out to me is that whilst having no rye grain in the original mix – the rich dry spicy notes of a decent rye whiskey still come through in the PrizeFight whiskey simply by it’s time in the ex-rye casks. It may lack the overall dry mouthfeel of a true rye – but it certainly makes a worthy addition to the rye cannon.

Brothership benefits by the addition of a real rye whiskey in the mix which heightens the rich dry rye spiciness on both the taste & finish which is not initially apparent on the sweet barely nose.

The FEW could almost set the benchmark of what a good rye whiskey should be. A straight forward crisp peppery spice with a marvelously long dry finish. Superb.

Sunken Still adds something extra to that dry spice by giving it a floral display of flavours.

Scores

For taking rye whiskey the extra mile – Sunken Still from Belgium comes out tops in this taste-off.

FEW from America comes in a close second

The Irish-American hybrid that is Brothership follows closely behind – leaving Ireland’s PrizeFight bringing up the rear.

I would commend PrizeFight for being able to hold it’s own among such worthy competition in that they all contain rye in their original mix.

It just goes to prove the powerful influence the maturation in wood has to the overall taste.

You pays yer money – and you takes yer choices!

Sláinte.

Good Logo

 

 

3 Things I Like About Belgium

The 3 things that I like about Belgium are;

1) The Music

It’s probably not what you expect from Belgium – but it made an impression on me as a young teenager – and obviously still has appeal today as it’s used in many adverts!

Other artists of note are;

Technotronic, Pump Up The Jam. A little more modern.

Jacques Brel, Dans le Port d’Amsterdam. a bit more mainstream. Or maybe…..

Praga Khan, Injected With A Poison, or perhaps a little jazz…

Django Reinhardt

2) The Beer (and the glasses it comes in)

In a former life, I used to attend political meetings invariably held in rooms above pubs. A fellow comrade also came along but often refused to drink in the bar below afterwards as it wasn’t CAMRA approved. Oh how we laughed at his prescribed ways – and he back at us drinking our mass produced tasteless p**s water. When I eventually got to Belguim and sampled the outstanding array of fine beers on offer – I wanted to ring up this fore mentioned gentlemen and apologies to him.

Belgium does more beer than Scotland does whisky!

I was simply overwhelmed by the range on offer. A restaurant in Brugge I visited had a 2 page meal menu, and a 20 page beer menu! Where do you begin? On spotting a very strange glass being served to a fellow drinker – I thought I’d start there.

Kwak and glass
Kwak and glass

Wow! Kwak. A truly tasty dark beer with very strong flavours, a bit sweet, but lovely. The fact that all the beers are served in glasses unique to the brand only adds to the enjoyment. Kwak certainly has a glass to match it’s unusual taste!

Brugge also did a very fine – if not as strong brown beer in the oddly named Brugse Zot Brune – also served in an attractive glass.

Brugse Zot c/o Whiskey Nut
Brugse Zot c/o Whiskey Nut

3) The Whisky

What?  Belgian Whisky?

Well up until the early 2000’s there wasn’t any – but now there’s around 3 whisky distillers making the aqua vitae. I managed to get a whisky mule to bring me back a bottle.

Belgian Whisky c/o Belgian Owl
Belgian Whisky c/o Belgian Owl

The Belgian Owl Single Malt is a very fine  – if slightly unusual whisky – or at least I haven’t had something like this before. It has a fruity nose as well as taste to it. Extremely enjoyable and easy to drink even at 46%. Jim Murray rates it highly and many awards have already been won. This is certainly an A whisky for me!

There are other brands available that I haven’t managed to get hold of yet.

Goldlys and Carolus don’t have as great reviews but may be worth sampling. There might be other manufactures out there also trying to jump on the whisky band wagon. One thing is for sure however.

There is more to Belgium than it’s beer!

Sláinte

Whiskey Nut

PS Short Eared Owl image at header c/o Sharpes birds.