Tag Archives: Bourbon

The One, Blend, 40%, x 3.

My first foray into English whisky!

Well – not exactly.

The One is a blend using whisky from the 4 corners of Great Britain – as it exists at present – Scotland, England, Northern Ireland & Wales.

More of a British blend.

The standard expression – bottled at 40% as they all are – is aged in bourbon casks and delivers a perfectly fine tasting experience for a decent well rounded blended whisky.

The sherry finish adds a delicate sweetness to the mix.

Whilst the port finish delivers added body, depth & colour to my palate – as well as a more satisfying heavy mouthfeel.

The Lakes Distillery near Keswick in Cumbia have yet to release their own distillate – but I look forward to the day they do.

Sláinte

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I sampled all the above whiskies on the Living Room Whisky stall at the 2017 Whisky Birmingham show.

Nant Whisky Bar, Hobart

Recent financial shenanigans in Tasmania only highlight the large stakes at play in trying to develop a whisky distillery.

Nant Whisky Distilling  – which had a somewhat troubled financial history – are currently in receivership whilst the sorry mess is sorted out.

It remains to be seen how this new development will play out for the very attractive looking distillery in Bothwell – which I didn’t manage to visit – and a trio of whisky bars – including the one in Hobart which I did call into.

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The Nant, Hobart c/othewhiskeynut

Situated in the wonderfully attractive quayside area of Salamanca Market in downtown Hobart, The Nant Whisky Bar offers punters a large comfortable space to enjoy an evenings libations.

I happened to be the only customer for an early morning – 11ish – visit on a beautifully sunny yet cold winter’s day – complete with a dusting of snow on the slopes of Mt Wellington which rises up behind the city.

There was a good range of whiskies behind the bar – Scotch, Japanese, Irish & some American too – but I did notice Nant were the only Australian representatives on show. Now OK. This is a ‘tied’ bar – but as Tasmanian whisky is promoting a friendly camaraderie & all the other bars in town had at least 2 or 3 Tasmanian distilleries products on show – it did make me ponder.

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The Nant Bar c/othewhiskeynut

There was a choice of 2 Nant whisky flights to enjoy. The cask strength at 63% – or the standard 43% offering.

Now there are some expressions that are perfectly drinkable at 60% and above – but they are few and far between. I also find adding water a rather imprecise exercise which would probably bring down the liquid close to the 43% level anyway – and as it was still the morning – the standard flight it was.

I think I chose well. Even at 43% there was a strong alcoholic kick on the nose of all 3 single malt expressions.

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Nant whisky flight c/othewhiskeynut

Starting with the American Bourbon Cask, there were the signature vanilla & caramel notes coming through. Very nice – but very familiar. I’d find it hard on a blind tasting to distinguish this Australian malt from the best Scotland or Ireland has to offer.

The American Sherry Cask brought added depth & fruity notes. Whilst the darkest coloured French Port Cask bottle gave the heaviest mouthfeel with deeper & richer notes. The Port Cask – as you may have already guessed – came out tops for me.

Oddly, the Bourbon Cask was the priciest to buy – at tear inducing prices – which when I questioned the bartender, she shot me a look which suggested I shouldn’t follow Kasabian’s advice & Shoot The Runner!

With the future of Nant Distilling now very uncertain – the labels, design & content of any further releases may change. There are barrels still maturing – but who knows what will happen to them.

Perhaps what I sampled back in 2016 are destined to become collectors items never to be repeated again?

I’m just happy to have had the opportunity to taste what I did at the time.

Whisky.

It ebbs and flows on the fortunes & failures of the time.

Catch it while you can.

Sláinte.

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Kings County Distillery, Brooklyn

Last week Birmingham.

This week Brooklyn.

I had to squeeze a few days of work inbetween these 2 trips as well and it felt a bit like I was living out the old Beastie Boys classic;

At Whisky Birmingham I chanced upon Kings County Distillery‘s UK importer Amathus & tried some their Peated Bourbon release.

At Brooklyn I booked myself into one of Kings County Distillery tours in the grand old Paymaster Building inside the historic Brooklyn Navy Yard. Located only a short walk from either the York St subway or the iconic Brooklyn Bridge itself – it’s easily accessible for anyone staying in New York.

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Paymasters & distillery entrance c/othewhiskeynut

Dave – our tour guide on the day – entertainingly took us through a potted history of whiskey distillation in Brooklyn taking in topics such as civil war, taxes, legal & illegal production, alcohol consumption, Irish immigration, prohibition as well as many other related – or not – subjects & then tied the whole lot up together with the founding of Kings County Distilling itself in 2010.

I’ll repeat that year again.

2010.

Because that makes Kings County Distillery the 1st legal whiskey distillery in New York City since prohibition.

History has long tentacles.

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Bubbling mash c/othewhiskeynut

We were shown the whole whiskey making process from the mashing of the grains in open fermenters,

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Copper still c/othewhiskeynut

To the distillation in copper pot stills,

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Whiskey maturing c/othewhiskeynut

To the maturation of the spirit in virgin american oak casks in the upstairs warehouse.

Kings County Distillery have chosen to go down a a fairly traditional route in that they produce a predominately high corn mash bill bourbon with only a small amount of barely from Scotland.

The use of small casks allows a shorter maturation period – generally less than 2 years – before it is deemed suitable for release. Some larger casks have also been laid down for future expressions & I couldn’t help noticing the ‘rye’ mark on some casks indicating a welcome addition to the current range at some date.

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The future is rye? c/othewhiskeynut

Tasting the actual product of all this hard work and silent development in the wood is obviously the highlight of any tour.

Kings County Distillery treated us to 4 expressions from their current range.

Starting with the Moonshine release at 40%.

The nose was the classic oily & slightly rotten fruit smell I associate with an unaged spirit. The taste followed through as expected with no real surprises. A perfectly fine & smooth example of this style of spirit which is often released by new distilleries as a showcase and money maker whilst the real bourbon or whiskey slowly matures.

The Bourbon release came next.

At 45% ABV this high corn bourbon with added barely, aged for 2 summers, gave a classic caramel sweet bourbon nose & taste together with a little bite. Another perfectly fine example of it’s style which hasn’t gone unnoticed by discerning drinkers as well as whiskey judges by the the amount of awards won.

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Tasting time! c/othewhiskeynut

The Winter Spice Whiskey at 40% had me a little confused. It’s basically the standard bourbon release above infused with a mix of baking spices normally associated with Xmas – cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves along with others – but yet it doesn’t have that sweet honey mix of many a liqueur nor can it be a whiskey with the non conventional additives. There is a market for this type of flavoured whiskey however. I couldn’t say it would be my cup of tea though.

A choice of Chocolate Whiskey or Peated Bourbon was offered for the last sample.

It should be obvious which one I went for.

I found the Peated Bourbon the most interesting and satisfying expression at Kings County Distilling.

At 45% the addition of peated barley from Scotland gave a welcome waft of smoke to the sweet bourbon caramel which raised the resultant spirit to a more entertaining yet vaguely familiar flavour profile.

Of the 3 Brooklyn distilleries I visited, Kings County Distilling seem to be the most established outfit producing a fairly traditional style of bourbon which is gaining many admirers. They also do a cracking distillery tour which certainly engages you with the whole whiskey making process.

I can’t say they set my palate alight – but I do wish them  future success –  they are a welcome addition to the whiskey distilling world.

One thing is for sure – I eagerly await any future rye expression they intend to produce from the casks I spotted on the maturation floor!

Slàinte.

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Flaming Pig Black Cask, 40%

Every now and then the attractiveness of a whiskey bottle – the wittiness of it’s mission statement – or even the name of the expression alone – is enough to tempt me to try a bottle – or at least sample a glass or two.

Fortunately with Flaming Pig Black Cask Irish Whiskey – I managed to acquire a promotional bottle to sample. Many thanks to Flor Prendergast – the entrepreneur behind the brand.

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Spiced Irish c/oflamingpigwhiskey

I first encountered the wonderfully named Flaming Pig brand a while ago with their  Spiced Irish release.

The label looked cool.

The story was fab.

And the spirit had a wonderfully rich christmassy cinnamon & clove spice finish which despite the sweet start – well it is a 33% liqueur – had a healthy warming whiskey bite too.

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Flaming Pig story c/othewhiskeynut

The Flaming Pig Black Cask is produced at the West Cork Distillers plant down in Skibbereen who release a fine range of expressions that often break the mould of what an Irish whiskey should be. This one is no exception.

Aged in heavily charred ex-bourbon barrels, this non-aged statement blend has been imbued with the strong sweetness & flavour of bourbon – yet with an Irish twist.

You could say it’s flavoured with fire!

The rich dark golden colour would imply added caramel in my book – there is no mention of it on the label – although the charred casks would also darken the spirit & add a sweet body to the mix. At 40% strength I assume it’s chill filtered too.

The rich sweet notes build a certain depth at the start- very bourbony with vanilla & caramel – but the delightful hint of warming spices at the end lifts this whiskey for me.

Very pleasant.

Very smooth.

Very drinkable.

Flaming Pig Black Cask isn’t going to set the world on fire – but it lights up a cold winters evening by the hearth. It also opens up Irish whiskey to new flavours emboldened by the charred barrel ageing.

Long may the Flaming Pig squeal!

Sláinte.

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Airport Travel Whiskey

They say that travel broadens the mind.

In my situation it widens the tasting palate.

Due to a tragic unforeseen event a series of cross Irish Sea flights were unfortunately taken at short notice lately.

Normally I’d relish the opportunity to try out some new expressions offered at airside retail premises but on this occasion a good stiff drink was certainly required.

Dublin’s Terminal 2 didn’t disappoint in this instance with a choice of 3 separate whiskey stalls all touting their wares.

The newly commissioned Walsh Whiskey Distillery proudly showed off their core range of the 3 Irishman releases – Founders Reserve – Single Malt and 12 Year Old Single Malt –  together with the Writers Tears blend. All are very agreeable whiskeys. It will be a few years yet though before we can taste the spirit currently being laid down in Co Carlow as actual matured whiskey.

Teeling had a rather fine display all to themselves showcasing the Small Batch and rather tasty Single Grain releases. The Aviators Whiskey Society Single Cask exclusive bottling was on display too. This Cabernet Sauvignon finished release is sure to taste fantastic but what drew my eye was the last stand.

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Bushmills Steamship at Dublin Airport T2 c/othewhiskeynut

Bushmills new Steamship release commanded attention next to the Whiskey Collection at the duty free shop. As Bushmills haven’t exactly been profuse with their offerings of late – this hotly anticipated release is one not to miss.

Steamship is an oloroso finished single malt bottled at 40% and can be summed up in 2 words – sherry bomb – which is no bad thing in my book as I’m partial to that style of whiskey.

The rich smooth mouth feel and sweet sherry notes left the 10 year old rather a dull comparison when I tried it.

I was sorely tempted to buy a bottle – but having recently finished my Amrut fusion a suitable replacement in the shape of the Amrut Oak Barrel Single Malt won out on the day.

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Amrut fusion morphs into an Indian Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

The return journey came via Gatwick which understandably didn’t feature as much Irish whiskey.

We reacquainted ourselves with our former habit of a wholesome meal at a Wetherspoons care of their Flying Horse airside establishment. Despite having an extensive array of craft beers on offer – the whisky menu was rather limited. A Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select did the honours of washing down my Bangers ‘n’ mash and as bourbons go – this had a smooth delivery coupled with a slightly spicy finish which I found very nice indeed.

I’m not a fan of the layout at World Duty Free airports whereby all passengers have to wind in and out of the shopping area before gaining open space. I’ve found it frustrating having been both a non-shopping late traveller rushing to catch my flight as well as a timely flyer looking for a relaxed retail experience being bumped into by by my former self.

I much prefer the layout at Dublin which has a large central aisle with shops either side the customer can chose to go in to – or not  as the case may be.

No choice is no good in my book.

Whatever option is in play – I usually scan the whiskey area to see what is being promoteted or if any special offers are available. Heading through to Wetherspoons I did spot 2 Bruichladdich expression to tempt me and in this instance I chose to go back after my meal.

Mark Reynier – the former CEO at Bruichladdich is currently laying down distillate for maturation at his new distillery in Waterford – Ireland. I was therefore curious to find out what his previous tenure on Islay had produced as a pointer of things to come.

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The Laddie makes it home c/othewhiskeynut

The Laddie Eight is a non-peated single malt matured in american and European oak casks – non-chill filtered and bottled at 50%. It’s sister travel retail exclusive Port Charlotte CC 01 is heavily pleated – matured in Cognac casks for a few more years and bottled at 57.8%.

I sampled both neat and was blown away by how smooth they were. I could easily drink these straight which can be dangerous at high strength!

Despite the moniker ‘Heavily Pleated ‘ on the Port Charlotte bottle I found this a very well balanced whisky. There was peat present – but it did not dominate the taste and much more complexity shone through in both the palate and finish. The Laddie didn’t disappoint either with a rich wholesome array of flavours coating the mouth.

Based on the delights of this duo of beauties – any new release from Waterford will be highly sought after.

Bruichladdich are also involved in the transparency issue with the Scottish Whisky Association as highlighted by Compass Box so I felt a desire to buy a bottle to acknowledge that stand. However  – my finances have taken a bit of a beating with all this last minute travel – so despite Port Charlotte CC OI being the better malt – The Laddie Eight made it back to my drinks cabinet. I also like doing the unexpected – a non-peated Islay anyone?

My 2nd trip over the water was the usual red-eye-express so too early for whiskey. With finances low I did pick up a small bottle of Johnnie Walkers Spice Road with my last sterling  note in Gatwick. It’s a step up from the Red or Black – but nothing fancy – which at the price point is just fine.

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JW’s Spice Road c/othewhiskeynut

Whenever you fly – it’s always a treat to try out some new ‘exclusive’ – and invariably they are – whiskeys at the airport.

You’re already on the premises with usually a little time to spare – so why not give something new and potentially outside you’re normal range a whirl?

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by a few tastings that I wouldn’t have gone for otherwise unless I’d taken the opportunity airside.

I usually stock up at the airport too. The staff are generally well informed and very helpful. It’s often the only specialist whiskey shop I manage to get into without going out of my way for months at a time.

Just go easy on the return journey – especially if you’re driving home after landing.

Safe travels

And savour the samples.

Slainte

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Old Jameson Distillery Dublin

The Old Jameson Distillery Dublin has made a great tourist attraction out of what was once one of Dublin city’s biggest trades – whiskey distilling – but that trade succumbed to a perfect storm of prohibition, blended whisky, civil war and the rise of Scotch to eventually close in 1971 when Jameson and Powers of Dublin – together with Paddys of Cork – retreated, regrouped and amalgamated into Irish Distillers where all production moved to Midleton in County Cork – bringing to an end whiskey distilling in Dublin. That is until the opening of the Teeling Distillery of only last month!

Midleton continues to produce a fine array of whiskey to this day as part of the Pernod Ricard Group – The Old Jameson Distillery showcases Jameson’s contribution to the parent group – and what a fine contribution it is!

Chosen as a Strategic Premium Brand – Jameson has seen phenomenal growth in sales in the last decade to become Ireland’s leading whiskey brand – outselling the next brand – Bushmills – by a factor of 10. Even Lady Ga Ga credited Jameson on her Born This Way album!

Jameson Original c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Jameson Original c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

Jameson Original is the flagship blend – ironic in that the Irish distillers reluctance to move to blended whiskey with the arrival of Aeneas Coffey’s new continuous still was one of the factors in the demise of Irish Whiskey – is a perfectly fine balanced – triple distilled – smooth Irish Whiskey – but there are many other expressions which the Old Jameson Distillery opens you to.

Built in the historical Smithfield area of Dublin – the first thing you notice on entering are the 2 massive Jameson bottle chandeliers – a lovely feature – I just hope the maker didn’t drink all the content before assembling the pieces!

Jameson Chandelier c/o thewhiskeynut
Jameson Chandelier c/o thewhiskeynut

There is also a Hobby Horse – an early type of bicycle – as used by John Jameson in the late 1800’s – attached to the wall – sure where else would you park yer bike?

John's Bike c/o thewhiskeynut
John’s Bike c/o thewhiskeynut

The second thing you notice are the queues. Be advised this is a very popular tour so book in advance online. I didn’t originally book so missed out until another trip up to Dublin enabled me to sail to the front of the queue to start the tour within minutes of stepping off the train with my pre-booked ticket.

As whiskey tours go Jameson  guides you through the history, manufacturing , maturing and the all important tasting of the aqua vitae.

What I liked about the sampling was the choice of 3 brands from 3 whiskey making countries representing the different styles each place has traditionally used to produce their spirit.

Comparison Drams c/o Whiskey Nut
Comparison Drams c/o Whiskey Nut

First up was Jack Daniels – America’s No. 1 brand. I must admit I found this too sweet for my liking with very little finish. It’s a problem I have with most bourbon due to the corn used in the mash bill which imparts the sweetness – but rye bourbon has more bite so is much more up my street.

The Jameson delivered the familiar smooth tasty dram expected whilst the Johnnie Walker Black Label impressed me with the extra bite the smoky peat content delivered to the blend giving it just the edge to make it my best of the 3 on offer.

I don’t think Mr John Jameson would have been too disappointed as he was a Scotsman by birth – and being a canny Scot – he saw an opportunity in Irish Whiskey – much like Grant’s have done over 200 years later by buying up Tullamore DEW!

For an extra price – there is the opportunity to sample 4 of the Jameson Family Reserve Whiskeys. This is an excellent way to get to grips with other Jameson expressions which show a variety of ages, cask finishes and styles – all very fine drams making it hard to choose a winner.

Jameson Family Reserve c/o Whiskey Nut
Jameson Family Reserve c/o Whiskey Nut

They were;

Jameson 18YO c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Jameson 18YO c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

Jameson Limited Reserve 18 year old  – an excellent aged blend with sherry finished notes.

Jameson Gold c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Jameson Gold c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

Jameson Gold Reserve – aged in new oak casks.

Jameson Black Barrel c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Jameson Black Barrel c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

Jameson Select Reserve Black Barrel – aged in heavily charred bourbon barrels and

Jameson Distillery Reserve c/o Jameson
Jameson Distillery Reserve c/o Jameson

Jameson Distillery Reserve – aged in Oloroso Sherry casks.

It was very hard to choose a bottle as they were all fine drams but I eventually went for the Distillery Reserve – partly as I’m a sucker for distillery releases – partly for the rich, smooth sherry notes coming through on the nose and taste which I very much like – and partly for the price – it’s hard to pay double the cost for a bottle you find equally as good a lesser priced one.

Anyway – I do have a soft spot for a sherry bomb – as long as it’s done right – and the Distillery Reserve certainly is a fine example of that term – Cherry Bomb as sung by The Runaways has a different meaning!

What’s good about this extra tasting session are the fellow whiskey fans you meet whilst imbibing the excellent drams. It’s not long before tales, tips and whiskey stories ensue. Have you tried this yet? Have you tried that? Where is your next distillery visit? You should go there……..and so on. It also helps to have added input into the nuances of wood finishes, cask strengths, ages statements ….. all the things whiskey buffs chat about. I hope Alice from Australia enjoyed her further immersion into Irish Whiskey!

Sadly glasses empty, folks depart for further whiskey adventure and sustenance is required. Thankfully the 3rd Still Restaurant is only a short walk upstairs where you can enjoy a fabulous meal whilst soaking up the atmosphere – as well as the alcohol! Before heading off on your next whiskey quest.

You won’t go far wrong making The Old Jameson Distillery your next whiskey visit. Just remember to book in advance. Linger a while to savour the history, fine food, good company, great craic and above all – excellent whiskey!

Slainte

Whiskey Nut