During the course of the event I gathered Kurayoshi is a range of blended malts from a variety of unnamed Japanese distilleries bottled by the Kurayoshi/Matsui Distillery. They are presented non chill filtered & natural colour.
Kurayoshi Sherry Cask 43%
An NAS – non age statement – offered at just over 3 years, matured in ex-bourbon casks & finished in sherry casks. There was no new make feel of this richly flavoured whisky. It was noted maturation times in Japan can be shorter than Scotland or Ireland due to the extremes of temperature experienced. Many tasters enjoyed fruity notes with this easy going malt, a discernible sherry influence, long lasting finish & enjoyable prickly bite.
Kurayoshi 8 Year Old, 43%
A clean & fresh ex-bourbon cask matured malt. The use of toasted barrels brought out warm vanilla & caramel notes, along with a certain depth & pleasant peppery spice on the finish – which some compared to that of Powers. Nice!
Kurayoshi 12 Year Old, 43%
More subtle, balanced & rounded with similar maturation to the 8. The peppery spice on the finish was more pronounced. A favourite of many on the tasting.
Kurayoshi 18 Year Old, 50%
A much more intriguing nose, touches of leathery wood, a slight smokiness from the barrels, greater depth & complexity. The higher ABV left a powerful impression & was a delight to enjoy.
The panel was split between the 12 & the 18 as to most well received so far. I must admit to being an 18 fan – although I did enjoy the 8 too!
The final offering was a little different!
Matsui Single Malt, Mizunara Cask, 48%
One of the first releases from the Matsui Distillery itself & aged in Japanese Mizunara Casks – this malt displays some rather unusual & attractive flavours showcasing it’s Japanese manufacture – which is what I’m after! Earthy woody notes combine with a slight sweetness. A clean & fresh palate offering orchard fruits & a lovely balanced peppery spice on the finish. The complexity of flavour belies it’s youthfulness. The Matsui quickly became the pick of the best!
The Celtic Whiskey Shop are currently running weekly whiskey tastings. The opportunity to explore bottles possibly ‘out of reach’ & to virtually chat with fellow whiskey fans in a relaxed manner makes for an enjoyable evening.
These 2 do the honours for the regions – Speyside for Scallywag & the Islands for Rock Oyster.
Made up of single malts sourced from distilleries within their regions, both are presented non chill filtered & after checking on the whiskey.de website – appear to be natural colour – despite Scallywag being noticeably darker.
A honeyed nose with a bit of depth.
Smooth & easy on the palate.
A touch of spice on the finish.
For someone that’s not generally into Speysiders – this is quite attractive.
Rock Oyster, 46.8%
A very gentle waft of seaweed. To be honest I was expecting more!
Light in colour – light on the palate – but it does open up on the finish with a comforting smoky fire by the seaside!
Both are easy going blended malts that only came alive on the finish for me.
Rock Oyster wins out – but I was a tad underwhelmed.
Whereas for a Speyside – Scallywag impressed.
The cheeky labeling & attractive presentation suitably entertained though & further exploration of the Douglas Laing stable is warranted.
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.
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
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
I have a few sample jars that go back & forth among some fellow whiskey fans.
It’s a handy way for all to try out unknown bottles before committing to buying – or not as the case may be!
Going blind – in this instance with samples A and C – adds to the fun.
There are no preconceived ideas based on distillery, country, whether caramel has been added or not, or even if it’s a blend, a grain or a single malt offering.
It’s simply 2 measures of whiskey – and your palate.
How much more honest can that be?
I found this nice, clean & fresh. A little paler than sample C but an inviting nose with summer fruits tempted me in.
The palate was quite light, reminiscent of sherry cask influence, with a touch of spice & an enjoyably prickly finish which lasted a long time.
A straight down the line decent dram.
Darker. Both in terms of colour as well as nose. More stone fruits than summer orchard with a slight funkiness I couldn’t pin down.
The taste was mellower. Charred cask influence perhaps, with a dark sweetness suggestive of rum or port cask maturation.
The finish faded rather quickly. Possibly a more youthful expression.
Of the 2, Sample C was more intriguing. It suited my palate better & I was keen to find out what it was.
Sample A – Chivas Regal 18 Year Old Blend, 40%
Sample C – Abrachan Blended Malt, 42%
The Abrachan from Lidl at €25 had me better entertained as to what was going on than the more cultured Chivas 18yo at €80!
For further info – the Chivas 18 is a blend of up to 20 different malt & grain whiskies.
The Abrachan is a blended malt aged in charred American oak barrels, sherry casks & port casks. As a non aged statement (NAS) whisky it’s undoubtedly a lot younger than 18 – but for a blind taste comparison it had me hooked.
Driving back down from the ferry terminal at Larne after my latest trip to Scotland, a meal break was in order.
Using the old Portadown, Monaghan, Cavan N55 route found us entering the Greville Arms Hotel in Granard for an early evening feed.
I was hoping they might have an old Michael Collins whiskey to sample given the Kitty Kiernan link. No such luck on that front.
They did have a bottle of the original 8 Year Old Pure Malt Sheep Dip blended malt however!
This is a soft, sweet, smooth & gently malty approachable blended malt that has proved popular over the years. It’s had as many owners as changes in labels during that time. This is an early incarnation with the MJ Dowdeswell & Co label before Spencerfield Spirit took it over then latterly Ian Macleod Distillers.