Tag Archives: Grain Whisky

Kingsbarns Distillery, Fife, Scotland.

I happened to be in Scotland over the Bank Holiday weekend & used the opportunity to visit a whisky distillery.

Kingsbarns Distillery is the dream of local lad Douglas Clement who was frequently asked during his golfing caddie days if there was a local whisky distillery to visit.

At the time Fife – despite being the spiritual home of golf as represented by the St Andrew’s Links Course – as well as the spiritual home of Scotch whisky – well, at least the earliest written record as represented by the ‘8 bolls of malt‘ ordered in 1494 from nearby Lindores Abbey – had no whisky distilleries.

Well at least no sexy & sleek single malt distilleries.

DSCF1407 Lr email
Cameronbridge Distillery c/othewhiskeynut

Because in Cameronbridge Distillery – which happens to be the largest in Europe – I would argue Fife has the spiritual home of blended whisky.

Originally founded in 1824 as the Haig Distillery, it used the newfangled invention called the continuous still – as designed by Stein & later improved upon by Irishman Coffey – to produce gazillions of gallons of grain whisky. This heralded in the rise of blended whisky which underpins & fuels the wealth of the whisky industry today.

Cameronbridge still produces gazillions of gallons of grain whisky to this day, but like most giant grain distilleries with their industrial style of production, it is out of bounds for whisky tourists.

Kingsbarns Distillery is definitely not out of bounds.

It’s whole premise in fact could be interpreted as a visitors attraction that happens to produce whisky.

It’s early days for that whisky yet however.

DSCF1478 email
The 1st cask c/othewhiskeynut

Only opened in November 2014 with the first barrel of new make being filled & registered in March 2015 – it can only legally be called whisky in March 2018.

In the meantime there is a lovely delightful Spirit Drink to sample as part of the very informative & enjoyable tour.

DSCF1492 Lr email
B-raw spirit indeed! c/othewhiskeynut

Bottled at 63.5% this fresh, bright & clear raw whisky certainly exploded in my mouth with the high alcohol content. Yet it retained some subtle soft sweet barley notes which hinted at good things to come. Adding a drop of water only diluted the overall experience and I preferred the raw energy of the full strength offering.

All the barley used is grown locally with the water being sourced in an aquifer deep underground below the sandstone rock underneath the distillery itself.

Wemyss Malts – a long established & respected family of independent whisky bottlers & blenders also hailing from Fife – or should that be fae Fife? – are also behind the distillery. An eclectic array of their blended malts and single cask expressions are on display in the visitors entrance area.

Talking about Fay Fife – here she is singing her classic hit Top Of The Pops!

As part of the tour I sampled the Kiln Embers blended malt at 46%. A pretty little sweet smoke of a whisky.

DSCF1489 email
Kiln Embers c/othewhiskeynut

I also bought a couple of age statement Peat Chimney miniatures – airport restriction friendly – for later enjoyment back in Ireland.

DSCF1535 email
A pair of peat c/othewhiskeynut

The Kingsbarns Single Malt however – when it is fully matured – will be a softer, fruity & floral bourbon cask aged single malt. Fife after all has no peat banks but is awash with lush fields of barley & fecund banks of wild flowers & shrubs which attract a rich bio-diversity of wildlife.

DSCF1497 email
Used Bourbon Cask waiting filling c/othewhiskeynut

Even while sitting outside the well presented cafe – enjoying some locally sourced & produced fare – I was gently serenaded by Skylarks singing high in the sky above me accompanied by Pheasants rooting around in the hedgerows below.

As a visitors attraction Kingsbarns excels.

The long drive into the historic & carefully restored building from the main A917 road well serviced by the St Andrews to Leven 95 bus route. Views of the verdant countryside with the blue sea glimmering closeby. Friendly attentive uniformed staff both in the well appointed cafe & distillery. A highly informative tour that encompassed the history, geology, sights, sounds & smells of both Fife – as well as the process of whisky making itself.

DSCF1475 email
Aromatic display c/othewhiskeynut

I even surprised myself by correctly identifying a few of the interactive ‘aromatic world’ samples!

Along with some beautiful whisky.

What’s not to like?

Fife is also fast becoming a whisky tourist destination in it’s own right with up to 6 whisky distilleries either currently up and running as in Cameronbridge, Kingsbarns, Daftmill & Eden Mill – or yet to be completed as in Lindores Distillery & Inchdairnie.

A world of whisky awaits!

Sláinte

Good Logo

 

Advertisements

Powers 1817 Release, Single Pot Still, 46%

Every now and then a whiskey comes along that kind of takes you by the hand & leads you in to a taste sensation that just enraptures you.

Powers 1817 Release is one of those whiskeys.

Wow!

On the nose it’s wonderfully rich yet smooth.

Gorgeously rich in depth on tasting with the characteristic Powers pot still spice toned down to a delightful tingle.

With a finish that just goes on and on and on.

At only 10 years old & matured solely in bourbon casks, there must be some much older single pot still malts in here to give the whiskey such gravitas.

Powers 1817 Release is a special bottling for the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) to mark their 200th Bicentenary. The LVA are the trade association representing Dublin pubs.

DSCF0151 email 1
Powerful whiskeys c/othewhiskeynut

If you want to sample Powers 1817 you’ll have to visit one of those Dublin pubs – like I was fortunately able to do for a tasting with the highly informative Powers Ambassador Michael Carr at The Brian Boru in Phibsborough.

DSCF9293email
Gold Label down to the last c/othewhiskeynut

Michael expertly guided us through the lovely Powers Gold Label blend – a mixture of single pot still & grain  whiskey giving a lovely spice kick on the finish – which I must admit to being my ‘go-to’ blend.

DSCF0719 email
John’s Lane Release going down well c/othewhiskeynut

The superb Powers John’s Lane Release – a bourbon matured & sherry finished single pot still 12 year old which I thought couldn’t be surpassed.

Until I tasted the 1817 release.

A stunner.

Good Logo

My thanks to Michael for the tasting & Rebecca for arranging the event.

John L Sullivan – The New Silent Whisky?

There has been a lot of hot air expended over a bottle of whiskey recently by the name of John L Sullivan.

John L Sullivan is a sourced whiskey brand. They – like many other sourced brands – get their whiskey from a reputable Irish whiskey distillery. They can then proceed to promote, brand, distribute and blend this whiskey in any way they see fit.

Just as many other companies do.

The particular expression that everyone is getting hot under the collar about is one where they have mixed the Irish whiskey with an American bourbon – also sourced from a reputable distillery in the USA – to create a hybrid type of blend.

JL_Sullivan_Irish_Bourbon
Exhibit A c/oJohnLWhiskey.com

This hybrid whiskey has garnished rave reviews in some regions here.

And an outpouring of scorn in others.

A facebook thread in Ireland castigates this whiskey as ‘fake’ & ‘pseudo’. It likens the whiskey to the ‘gutrot’ produced by gangsters during prohibitions times which allegedly brought the Irish whiskey industry to it’s knees.

I just don’t buy that narrative.

I congratulate John L Sullivan for coming up with a new & exciting product that can offer an innovative new taste experience to customers – as well as opening up a new revenue stream for Irish whiskey.

The Irish whiskey industry has a long proud history and culture.

But part of that culture is resisting new means and methods of  making whiskey.

DSCF0717 email
Truths About Whisky c/oTeelings

In 1878 a book was published denouncing the new form of whisky being made by an invention called the Coffey Still.

That new whisky was called ‘silent whisky’ and we now know it as  grain whiskey.

Nowadays that ‘silent whisky’ is the main constituent in blended whiskey – which is the very backbone of the modern global whiskey industry making up to 90% of all sales worldwide.

Sections of the Scottish whisky industry took to this new product in the 1840’s to create market leading brands that are still popular today.

It took at least another 100 years for the Irish whiskey industry to fully engage with the new methods. None of the 4 large Dublin whiskey distilleries who commissioned the book exist today

What if this new hybrid whiskey becomes the next ‘silent whisky’ in terms of future sales?

Is the Irish whiskey industry of today going to inflict the first cut in it’s demise as it did in the past?

And as the old song goes, The First Cut Is The Deepest.

Or is this new style of whiskey going to be embraced?

Being a new style means there will be labelling issues, regulatory red-tape and legal gremlins to sort out.

Hopefully that is in process.

Whiskey is fluid.

It has constantly flowed, changing and evolving throughout it’s long existence.

History is not kind on those who wish to stop that flow.

Good Logo

My thanks to The Whiskey Jug for the header image.

 

 

 

808 Whisky 808 Film 808 Music

Ever since the invention of the electric guitar in the 1930’s there has been a close relationship between the world of music – as originally played by black bluesmen like John Lee Hooker – and the world of whiskey

Right through to the Jack Daniel’s fueled tales of the recently  deceased Lemmy – though I would prefer the Mackmyra produced whisky bearing the Motorhead name,

motorhead whisky
Motorhead Whisky c/oMackmyra

And the alcoholic excesses of Irish band The Pogues who have also entered the Whiskey Hall Of Fame by having a tasty Irish blend named after them from West Cork Distillers,

Pogues whiskey
The Pogues Irish Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Whiskey is associated with rock ‘n’ roll.

Meanwhile back in the 80’s a new musical phenomenon exploded on the scene inspired by a plastic box of electronic wizardry and a different type of drug.

The Roland 808 became a central plank in the development of dance music. So much so it has become an iconic instrument almost as revered as Lemmy’s Rickenbacker bass.

There is even a new film released featuring many of the famous artists who used the 808 in making their music.

The ever changing styles of music and drugs means there is an opening for the more traditional forms of intoxication – as the lyrics of The Far East Movement’s hit ‘Like A G6’ show.

A drinking culture obviously exists in the electronically inspired music scene too. A culture that needs to forge a new identity with new brands for it’s own fulfilment.

One company that’s trying to fill that need is 808drinks.

DSCF6155 email
808 Whisky c/othewhiskeynut

Now to many people – electronic music is soulless and lacks character.

Grain whisky – when it first appeared in the late 1800’s after the invention of the Coffey Still by  Irishman Aeneas Coffey – was also similarly derided as ‘The Silent Spirit’ by the dominant distilleries of the time.

Oh how history is cruel on those who don’t adapt.

Grain whisky is the main ingredient in blended whisky which make sales of up to 90% of the market.

The overarching genre of dance music hasn’t reached that dominance over rock – but is did cross over into mainstream as shown by the 1986 Run DMC / Aerosmith hit collaboration.

808 Whisky is also a collaboration between established icons of Scottish Whisky like Jonathan Driver – formerly of Diageo but now at Whyte & Mackay – the massive North British Distillery in Edinburgh and long standing DJ Tommy D who helped create the sounds for many a famous artist.

Being made for a different audience 808 Whisky bucks the trend.

It’s a blended grain whisky.

It’s 40%.

It has ‘Chill Filtered For Purity’ emblazoned on it’s trendy designer label.

So can it live up to the ‘808 BOOM’ much loved by musicians?

Depends.

To start with it’s a light straw colour. This is good in my book as there’s no obvious signs of added caramel.

For me – there wasn’t much going on in the nose however – apart from a subtle sweetness and that grainy smell. Again – no real surprise there.

The taste was rather soft – mellow – and surprisingly smooth. I’ve had many a cheap blend that burns your palate on the first mouthful. Not so with 808 Whisky. A delicate well balanced grain taste.

I actually enjoyed the warm feeling as it slid down.

This grain whisky is an easy to drink – inoffensive – light dram.

Many a distilleries standard blend would also fit this description – and they sell in their thousands – so it’s in good company here.

Personally I’d like something a bit more – well – ‘In Yer Face’ to allow me to showcase yet another 808 inspired tune.

But then I’m not part of the core customer profile this whisky is aiming at – which is possibly younger and more experimental than me.

808 Whisky would make an excellent mixer drink due to it’s soft mellow profile.

It would also make an excellent easy to drink shot to fuel your funkiest moves on the dance floor.

808 Whisky may not yet have the iconic status of it’s namesake synthesiser Roland 808 -but it does combine my passion for music and my passion for whiskey in a wonderful way.

I wish 808 Whisky all the best for it’s bold combination and unusual style resulting in an easy to drink smooth and satisfying blended grain whisky.

Now that’s ‘Something Good’ as Utah Saints used to say.

Slainte

Good Logo

PS I’d just like to thank The Whisky Lady for bringing my attention to 808 Whisky and allowing me to indulge in my musical mayhem whilst enjoying a whisky or two.