Tag Archives: Caramel

Jose Cuervo, Especial Reposado, 38%

As tequila finishing is now a ‘thing’ in Irish Whiskey – see JJ Corry The Battalion & Killowen Experimental Series Tequila Cask – along with the fact tequila distillers Jose Cuervo own Bushmills – I thought an exploration of the category would be fun.

Tequila is a highly regulated spirit.

The governing body – Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT) operate strict guidelines as to what is – or is not – allowed under the Official Standards of Tequila – or NOM – which are available at crt.org.mx

Jose Cuervo is the biggest selling Tequila brand in the world – stats from 2019 here.

The brands bottles are readily available in Ireland & I picked up their Especial Reposado for appraisal.

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Tequila sunshine! c/othewhiskeynut

All tequila has to be made with the blue agave plant in Mexico.

If it doesn’t state ‘100% agave’ – like this especial – it must contain a minimum of 51% agave. The remainder can be made up of permitted additives; caramel colouring, natural oak extract, glycerin & sugar syrup for example.

This obviously effects the tasting experience.

So how did I find Jose Cuervo Especial Reposado?

Well – initially that distinctive pungenty earthy agave aroma greeted me – but it was overlaid by a sweet & slightly sickly caramel I dislike in many a whiskey.

The palate was very smooth & easy – just lacking a rich powerful earthiness – which is what I’m after in a tequila.

Only on the finish did those lovely agave notes resurface as it gently dried out leaving a peppery spice.

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Mit farbstoff c/othewhiskeynut

This is mass market stuff.

Simple, sweet, easy & smooth.

And it sells well.

It’s the equivalent of many a blended whiskey & exhibits the same sweet caramelly notes that – on my palate at least – hide the purity of the agave – or subtleties of the barley – depending on your drink of choice.

Just like whiskey – to get the better stuff you usually have to pay more.

But those tequilas are harder to find in Ireland.

Sláinte

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Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey, Then & Now, Blend, 40%

A wonderful photograph courtesy of @irelandincolour featuring Kilbeggan Distillery  in 1937 prompted me to do a comparison review of Kilbeggan Whiskey.

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Kilbeggan Distillery 1937

The old gold label bottle has been superseded by a fresher & more vibrant green & white design. It still retains hallmarks from the previous incarnation – but with additional features included.

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Then & Now c/othewhiskeynut

Both offerings are presented at 40% with added caramel – a common feature throughout the range – which results in a shared golden hue.

A gentle honeyed aroma is enjoyed.

This follows through on the palate offering sweet biscuity malt – before a hint of spice on the finish just adds a spot of character to the proceedings.

A very pleasant, nice & easy blend.

In an ever changing world – it’s often a welcome to greet a familiar friend.

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The back story c/othewhiskeynut

Just as Kilbeggan Distillery retains the characteristics of the 1937 photo today – there were only cosmetic differences in the 2 whiskeys.

I’ll be looking forward to a return visit to the distillery after the COVID pandemic is over.

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Kilbeggan Distillery 2019 c/othewhiskeynut

Stay safe.

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Original 1937 photo courtesy the Breslin Archive.

Loch Lomond, Triple Pack, Single Malts, 46% x 3

Oh dear!

Are you ever disappointed reading positive reviews & kind comments regarding a whisky or distillery?

Well Loch Lomond was my moment.

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Loch Lomond miniature pack c/othewhiskeynut

Presented in an attractive triple pack for last years Open Golf Tournament – these 3 whiskies promised ‘innovation & character’.

I got smooth, soft, caramel laden blandness.

It started with Inchmurrin Madeira Cask.

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Mit Farbstoff c/othewhiskeynut

A fudgy caramel nose immediately repulsed me. The palate was far more forthcoming though. Soft fruits danced merrily with a lovely little flourish of gentle prickly spice on the finish.

The Lock Lomond 12yo was a sweet, honeyed, biscuity Single Malt that just lacked character.

I was hoping the peated Inchmoan would save the day.

Alas not!

Any welcome oomph the peat would deliver just got drowned out by soft, smooth blandness on the palate. Only on the finish did a gentle smokiness make it’s presence known.

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Nice design! c/othewhiskeynut

If I’m looking for caramelly single malts, Ben Bracken offers the same experience at half the price. Their Islay version knocks the socks off Inchmoan.

It’s not often I leave unfinished miniatures behind……………

If throwing caramel at your single malts is ‘innovative’ – forget it.

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Burns Nectar, Single Malt Scotch, 40%

Ah – Burns Night.

The annual celebration that elevates the simple act of tucking into haggis, neeps & tatties – washed down with a Scotch – into an extravaganza of a marketing ploy & cultural highlight for Scotland, it’s people, the place and above all – the whisky.

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Burns Nectar, House of MacDuff. c/othewhiskeynut

Rabbie Burns image adorns many a bottle, T-shirt, mug or poster as ubiquitously as Che Guevara’s does in other places. Burns predates Guevara’s rebellious nature by supporting the French Revolution of 1789.

Both have become re-invented & re-packaged as popular icons – often disassociated from the narrative of their actual lived lives.

Burns Nectar Single Malt is just one manifestation of this trend.

A sweet honeyed aroma on the nose.

There’s a touch of character on the palate however.

Smooth & sweet to begin with, it dries out midway displaying some dark fruitiness & a touch of tobacco.

A playful prickly tingling is left on the finish.

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Burns in the Tuath Glass c/othewhiskeynut

Rabbie Burns eked out a living as an impoverished farmer, later elevating his earnings as a tax collector.

His fame as a poet mainly came posthumously – and continues to rise today.

Sláinte

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Kilbeggan, Single Pot Still, Irish Whiskey, 43%

There has been a positive explosion of Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey on the market.

It’s marvelous to witness the revival of this historic style of whiskey.

Originally created as a tax dodge – malted barley attracted duty, unmalted did not – so distillers used unmalted barley in the mix to avoid the burden and created a well loved flavour profile in the process.

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Westmeath whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Distilled & matured at the old Kilbeggan Distillery itself – which has maintained a continuous licence since 1757. This whiskey marks another milestone in the long – and often chequered – history of this esteemed distillery.

Living – as I do – only half an hour away, I popped down to purchase a bottle.

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In the glass! c/othewhiskeynut

Mmmmmm.

This is on the more soft, caramelly sweet, subtle & safe side of single pot still.

It didn’t reach out and grab me.

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Front c/othewhiskeynut

A delicate creaminess at the start – a small percentage of oats are used in the mix – gave way to a smooth honeyed middle – followed by a lovely dry prickly spice on the finale.

It’ll probably please many.

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Back c/othewhiskeynut

Just lacked a certain pzazz & flair for my palate.

Sláinte

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Ben Bracken, Triple Pack, Single Malts, 40%

I’m a big fan of miniatures.

The opportunity to try out a range of styles – or in this case regions – before committing to a full bottle is always a treat.

Having said that. I’d already ruled out buying more supermarket own brand labels. They tend to be chill filtered with added caramel & whilst perfectly fine – they lack finesse.

But spotting these miniatures in my local Lidl.

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A tasty trio! c/othewhiskeynut

I couldn’t pass them by.

Nosing the Speyside first – I choose to do Speyside – Highland – Islay starting from mildest to strongest flavours as recommended by many tasting journals – revealed a pleasant easy honeyed malt.

On a blind tasting this would sit well with any big label brand.

The palate was a bit watery & insignificant to begin with – common to all three malts – before a typical Speyside softly sweet & gentle flavour profile presented itself.

There was even a slight dry spice on the short finish.

Not bad at all.

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Which region is your preference? c/othewhiskeynut

The Highland gave a bit more malt biscuity depth to the proceedings.

The Islay – which was my favourite – offered a straight forward satisfying smoky hit.

Each gave a perfectly decent snapshot of the regional styles – perhaps lacking in depth & complexity – but nonetheless an extremely enjoyable way of discerning your palates preferences.

Nice one Lidl!

Slàinte

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Glenfiddich Reserve Cask & Select Cask, Travel Retail, Single Malt, 40%

I picked up these a while ago.

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Travel retail miniatures c/othewhiskeynut

Travel retail NAS – non aged statement – offerings seem to be the ‘thing’ right now.

Being a category leader – I thought I’d give them a go.

Bad decision.

This is soft, sweet easy going malt for the masses.

Any sparkle of life & vitality has been sucked out by added caramel & chill filtration.

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Glenfiddich Reserve Cask c/othewhiskeynut

The Reserve Cask did have a prickly spice on the finish to give it a lift – but the Select Cask was just sweet, honeyed, biscuity malt.

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Glenfiddich Select Cask c/othewhiskeynut

Fine if you like that sort of thing – but no – they did nothing for me.

Sláinte

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OVD Rum, 40%

In almost every bar, hotel, licenced restaraunt & off-license I went to in Scotland last summer OVD Rum was there.

It’s as ubiquitous as Haggis or Irn-Bru.

First blended & bottled in Dundee back in 1838 using rum distilled in Guyana – OVD stands for Old Vatted Demerara.

OVD twitter
Image c/o@OVDDarkRumtwitter

Demerara Rum is a style displaying sweet & funky qualities – not too heavy nor too light – generally classified as a dark rum.

Interestingly wooden pot stills are used to this day in Guyana to distill rum – creating a link to the past in the present day.

I ordered a glass.

Dark rum indeed!

Definitely sweet – too caramelly sweet for my liking – but with an underlying soft funkiness.

The palate started off silky smooth.

Only on the back end did an earthy, vegetal funkiness peck through the overpowering caramel to give a bit of character & complexity.

OVD notice
Image c/oebay

An easy drinking accessible sweet rum which obviously has the Scottish market covered.

Sláinte

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Header image courtesy of whiskyexchange.

Bimber, 1st Release, 54.2%

OK.

I’ve got this sample bottle.

I deliberately don’t look up the internet to find anything about it.

It’s just me, the whisky, and my palate.

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Bimber is a new distillery in London. c/othewhiskeynut

Lovely dark brown colour.

Crisp, clean & inviting nose suggests port or sherry cask influence rather than added caramel & chill filtering.

I’m getting sweet & dark cherries.

Palate is smooth initially – before flavours burst in along with the high ABV.

More cask influence – more dark cherries over and above a soft vanilla base.

A lovely prickly spice on the finish slowly drying out with the rich dark fruit flavours ebbing away.

A very nice full bodied whisky. Good clean aromas & powerful mouthfeel.

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How much information do you need to enjoy a whisky? c/othewhiskeynut

Bodes well for future releases.

Well done Bimber!

Sláinte

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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.

Sláinte

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Header image courtesy of Irish Times article here.