Tag Archives: Caramel

Hunter’s Glen, 5 Year Old, Premium Scotch Whisky, Blend, 40%

Random town.

I was away for a few days taking advantage of the fine weather.

Random pub.

Entering a bar for the first time always engenders a sense of excitement.

Random whisky.

You never know what to expect.

Spotting the large green label of Hunter’s Glen on the shelf – it immediately stood out as something I’d not had before.

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Hunter’s Glen Scotch c/othewhiskeynut

Establishing it was Scotch Whisky and not rum – either would have been acceptable – a glass was ordered.

Mmmmmm.

Standard entry level blend material.

Caramelly nose, sweet, smooth & soft with a hint of smoke enlivening an otherwise easy drinking experience.

But who or what is Hunter’s Glen?

The front label states ‘Clydesdale Scotch Whisky Company’, who are part of the Whyte & Mackay group specialising in supermarket blends for Lidl.

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All the way from Greece? c/othewhiskeynut

The back label does mention Lidl, but of Greek origin.

Quite how it ended up in a bar in the West of Ireland is beyond me.

But as a whisky with no pretensions or provenance – I enjoyed it for what it is – a perfectly acceptable everyday sipper with a slightly smoky tingly dryness on the finish.

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Header image courtesy of Irish Times article here.

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Glenfiddich, Special Old Reserve, Pure Malt, Single Malt, 40%

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.

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A drained Dimple. c/othewhiskeynut

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.

Rancid!

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Now Pure Malt is an outdated term.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.

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Glenfiddich Pure Malt c/othewhiskeynut

Mmmmmm!

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.

The joys of auctions!

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Kilty Pleasure, Blend, 40%, Wee Couper Of Fife, Anstruther.

Spotting a new whisky shop in the pretty East Neuk village of Anstruther what else was I to do but go in and buy a few?

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The Wee Couper Of Fife Whisky Shop c/othewhiskeynut

The Wee Couper Of Fife stocks a highly varied selection of whiskies and a wide array of whisky paraphernalia – from tartan hip-flasks & quirky miniatures for the tourists – which I bought – to select single malts & single casks for the purists.

One I purchased was the cheekily named & labelled Kilty Pleasure Scotch from Select Drams.

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Kilty Pleasure Scotch c/othewhiskeynut

Select Drams have built up a wholesale drinks supply business specialising in ‘miniatures, gifting and specialist bottlings’ – of which Kilty Pleasure is part of a series.

They also do aged statement single malts from renowned distilleries – but this non age statement blend from unknown sources caught my eye – well – it does play up on the stereotypes – and it amused me!

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What else do you need to know? c/othewhiskeynut

So was it pleasurable?

In a word – yes!

To be honest it’s fairly standard stuff.

A soft, sweet caramelly nose.

A honeyed smooth palate – easy accessible drinking – no jarring notes – yet  developing into a decent prickly heat with just a touch of oaky spice.

If you were buying this as a present – or just for the laugh as I was – Kilty Pleasure possesses enough character & style to carry the whole presentation off.

Congratulations to Select Drams for bringing some light hearted fun to the category!

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Wolfhound Irish Whiskey, Blend, 40%

The ‘Gentle Giant’ it says on this attractive bottle of Irish Whiskey – and when it comes to the Wolfhound – they certainly are gentle giants of the dog world.

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The Gentle Giant c/othewhiskeynut

But what of the whiskey?

Another sourced brand brought back by my better half & purchased at a Total Wine store in Baltimore.

Prestige Wine And Spirits Group are the company behind this one – or so it says on the label – but Prestige Beverage Group come up on an internet search here.

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Part of the group. c/othewhiskeynut

The nose is mild, caramelly & malt biscuit like.

The palate is soft easy drinking.

Nothing really exciting – but it slowly grows with grainy heat to a bit of a spirity bite at the end – which doesn’t last long.

The spirity bite was the part I enjoyed the most – as otherwise Wolfhound lacks character & depth.

A bargain basement blend.

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Havana Club, Anejo Especial, Cuban Rum, 40%

It’s International Rum Day today – 16th August.

I’ve just found out – which was a bit of a surprise – as I’d only been down my local Tesco & picked up a bottle of Havana Especial to continue my exploration of all things rum.

Already my limited tastings are taking me down the barrel aged dark rum route.

The contrast of sweet caramels or darker molasses contrasting with spicy oaky tannins appeals to my palate – which is just what I found with this Cuban Rum.

Double matured in ‘old oak barrels’ & ‘ex-whiskey casks’ it says on the label – ex Irish Whiskey casks I later found out on Havana Club’s website – certainly piqued my interest.

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Especial back label c/othewhiskeynut

Described as ‘amber coloured’ I found the nose caramelly sweet – with no real depth to it.

The palate started off very smooth & sweet too – but gradually built up a nice oaky spice as it warmed up.

Most of the flavour I found on the finish.

A prickly spiciness contrasting with a dark, almost burnt molassey note just rescued it from the overt sweetness at the start.

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Garantia Cuba! c/othewhiskeynut

Overall an easy drinking everyday rum with just enough character & depth to enjoy of a balmy summer evening.

Happy Rum Day!

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Old Hopking, Dark Rum, 37.5%

Welcome to the dark side.

Of rum at least.

Dark Rums are characterised by their – well – darker colouring.

This can come about through the use of heavily charred casks & longer maturation times – although as in whiskey, added caramel is not unknown.

Dark rums are also usually stronger flavoured than their lighter colleagues – and it was for this reason I picked up a bottle of Old Hopking in my local Aldi.

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Funkin’ For Jamaica c/othewhiskeynut

‘Imported from Trinidad and Jamaica’ also piqued my interest.

Jamaican rums are generally made from molasses, distilled in pot stills & are considered full bodied with strong flavours. Suits me!

So how was Old Hopking Dark Rum?

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Old Hopking back label c/othewhiskeynut

The nose certainly offered a lot more than the clearer rums I’ve tried. Soft, funky & sweet with some burning rubber going on.

An easy delivery slowly developed through a burnt caramel sweetness into a touch of warm woodiness & gentle spice.

A long lasting hug of warmth.

I really enjoyed this one.

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Ruby Ruby Ruby Ruby! c/othewhiskeynut

I think I’ve just been touched by the dark side!

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Cockland Gold, Blend, 38.1%

Despite the comic name – this is a genuine whisky from Brazil.

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Brazilian whisky in an Irish glass. c/othewhiskeynut

It can be read as a cheap wordplay on ‘Escócsia’  – the Portuguse for Scotland.

Or perhaps a wry dig – depending on your point of view – regarding the latest incumbent of 10 Downing St & Brexit affairs.

Scottish whisky is so dependent on export sales that when Brazil sneezed due to an economic downturn – Scotch sales worldwide dipped.

Cockland – like many similar products – probably contains Scottish whisky in it’s makeup – along with locally produced spirits.

There wasn’t too many surprises when I cracked this one open.

The golden colour is resplendent of added caramel – noted on the back label.

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Enough information? c/othewhiskeynut

A soft caramel nose with a hint of butterscotch malt.

A smooth, easy, light – even honeyed palate – slipped down gently with a slowly growing pleasant heat.

The roll out of Brexit has more depth & complexity to it than Cockland Whisky – although both display the interconnectivity of the globalisation of trade within their make up.

And whilst I can enjoy the gentle heat at the end of Cockland – I’m not sure if the finale of Brexit will be as delightful.

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A Blind Whiskey Tasting

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?

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A & C tasting notes before the reveal. c/othewhiskeynut

Sample A 

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.

Sample C

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.

My choice

Of the 2, Sample C was more intriguing. It suited my palate better & I was keen to find out what it was.

The reveal

Chivas Regal 18
Chivas Regal 18 c/oshopsupervalu.ie

Sample A – Chivas Regal 18 Year Old Blend, 40%

Abrachan
Abrachan Triple Oak Blended Malt c/oLidl

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.

Congratulations to Lidl!

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The Joy Of Pubs, Teacher’s vs Highland Earl, Blends, 40%

There was an article in the Irish Times the other day about rural development & Gort happened to feature.

Picking up the paper in the town itself after an enjoyable evening topped off the experience.

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Gort in the news. c/othewhiskeynut

The revelry started with a meal at The Gallery Cafe in the Square. A popular spot offering great food & some tasty  beers to boot.

Kinnegar’s Rustbucket Rye Ale washed down my burger delightfully as we chatted outside on the terrace taking advantage of the warm evening sunshine.

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Kinnegar Rye Ale c/oOBriensWine

A bar was selected afterwards & Cummins on Main Street suited us.

Garishly coloured on the outside & embazoned with GAA murals we entered into a trad session being played in the corner by a group of local musicians with a small gathering of drinkers happily tapping along.

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Teacher’s c/oMasterOfMalt

The usual whiskey suspects lined the shelves, Powers, Paddys & Jameson being the standards – a Teacher’s was there too and I fancied a peat hit so went with it.

Teacher’s is a well established blend of Scotch Whisky. A bit on the rough & ready side, sweet peat & a little spirity, but you know what you’re getting.

Chatting away I scanned the shelves for something I’d not had before & spotted a couple of bottles half hidden behind others.

Highland Earl Special Reserve was duly ordered on the next round.

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Highland Earl c/othewhiskeynut

Now Highland Earl is an Aldi brand. An entry level one at that too – and I’d hesitated buying one after having a tad too many caramel laden blends in the past – but being in a bar is a fabulous way to sample it.

My first nosing raised a smile.

A decent waft of balanced peat greeted me.

Wasn’t expecting that!

The palate was more mellow & soothing than the Teacher’s. Yes there is added caramel & yes there is probably chill filtering – but then so has Teacher’s.

If anything Highland Earl lived up to it’s – admittedly low level – titled status by being a step up in enjoyment from the recognisable big brand.

Now the bar’s bottle seems to be an old offering. There is no age statement as with the current 3 Year Old release – and a tagline on the label proclaims it to be a 2010 IWSC Winner!

So I can’t vouch if what is on sale now matches the bottle I tried – but what I can say is the Earl entertained me for the rest of the evening!

Oh the joy of pubs & the simple pleasures of a decent peated blend!

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McAfee’s Benchmark, Old No 8 Kentucky Straight Bourbon, 40%

As it’s National Bourbon Day I thought I’d celebrate by cracking open a bottle that’s been sitting in my cupboard for some time.

When I first bought this bourbon I knew nothing about it.

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Old No 8 c/othewhiskeynut

My original impression was that as it has a large 8 emblazoned on the label it must be a step up from the 7 on a bottle of Jack?

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Old No. 7 c/othewhiskeynut

And on eventually getting round to a tasting – it certainly did satisfy my palate more.

A lovely golden hue complete with decent legs graced the Túath glass on a pour. Being a ‘straight‘ bourbon guarantees no added caramel in the mix.

Soft and gentle on the palate to begin with, the flavours & heat slowly grew in intensity giving a good showing of vanillas & sweet caramel mixed with darker hints of tobacco and a lovely growing spice towards the end.

For me the finish was the best bit.

The spiciness – suggestive of a decent rye percentage in the mashbill – slowly dried out leaving a gentle prickliness in the mouth – which I enjoy.

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McAfee’s Benchmark c/othewhiskeynut

Being an entry level bourbon – Benchmark is appropriately named as it does provide an exceedingly pleasing drinking experience from which other bourbons can be compared.

Only after I purchased this bottle did I find out it’s part of the Buffalo Trace portfolio from Kentucky.

Interestingly it shares the same mashbill as Buffalo Trace itself – along with the more aged Eagle Rare & George T Stagg offerings!

The only differences are the time spent in the barrel – they are all virgin american oak remember with the same char level – and which part of the rickhouse they were stored in during maturity.

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The 2017 Antique Collection – fabulous! c/othewhiskeynut

Having tasted the Eagle Rare 17 Year Old 2017 release at Whiskey Live Dublin – it would be folly to compare the 2 bourbons – but you can appreciate the solid foundations of the young Benchmark that with added maturity grew into the stunning Eagle Rare 17.

But then my local O’Briens only stocked Benchmark!

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