Tag Archives: Green Spot

Burn’s Night 2018

There are a number of factors mitigating against holding a Burn’s Night in the heart of Ireland.

One of them is the difficulty in finding a haggis for sale in Westmeath!

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Haggis! c/othewhiskeynut

Thankfully I brought some of the prize pudding back with me from a recent Scottish trip – along with some whisky I had in mind – which is my cue for a song!

So January 25th found me in Sean’s Bar – the oldest bar in Ireland – hosting an Irish versus Scotch blind whiskey tasting.

I’d decided to go blind –  the whiskey that is, not me – wrapping the bottles in tinfoil to disguise the brands – so there would be no bias in the results. The nose & taste of the spirit would be the crucial factor.

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Blind tasting. c/othewhiskeynut

I roughly paired the whiskeys into 4 categories.

‘a’ being grains,

‘b’ obviously blends,

‘c’ single malts &

‘d’ being undefined – which will become clearer later. I tried as far as possible to get pairs of equal cost, style, flavour & profile – with only 50% success. The idea was to get a winner for each pair – then a ‘best of’ for the evening – having some fun along the way.

Votes were cast at the end of the tasting round to get the 4 individual winners – as well as the overall winner – before any of the whiskeys were revealed to some surprised faces.

The first winner of the evening was Egan’s Vintage Grain.

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Egan’s Vintage Grain c/othewhiskeynut

I’ve featured this single grain previously in a blog here. For a grain whiskey Egan’s delivers some punch both in flavour & style which didn’t go unnoticed by the audience. Most of them assumed it was a Scotch. 1st surprise of the evening.

I’d cheekily paired this with McDowell’s No 1 – the 2nd biggest selling brand of whisky in the world. This is actually a blend of Scotch, malt & neutral spirit – as it says on the label. Guinness Nigeria is also on the label – although McDowell’s is distilled in India by a company founded back in 1898 by a Scotsman unsurprisingly named McDowell.

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McDowell’s back label c/othewhiskeynut

Some 90% of all whiskey sold throughout the world is blended. So category ‘b’ is the real battle ground. The winner of the evening?

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Sean’s Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

Well – being held in Sean’s Bar what else would you expect? But remember – this was a blind taste test and not all the participants had tried either of the entrants before.

The other bottle was named after an Irishman. Ernest Shackleton was born in Co Kildare in 1874 and went on to became a famous Antarctic Explorer. This blend I found a rather weak representation of a whisky he took to those frozen lands in the early 1900’s. My audience seemed to agree.

The single malts also had a clear winner. It gives me great pleasure to announce the wonders of this whiskey.

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26yo Irish Reserve c/othewhiskeynut

Aldi 26 Year Old Irish Reserve just keeps on giving.

I’d paired this with the Dalmore Valour which delivers quite a nice rich, dry port & sherry finish to the palate. It’s youthfulness probably let it down when compared to the depth of flavour of the Irish 26yo. On a price front however – they are comparable.

The last category contained spirit which is not currently available in both countries. Ireland has it’s single pot still whiskey made with a mash of malted and unmalted barley. While Scotland has just released it’s 1st rye for over 200 years. The winning margin in this case wasn’t as wide as previous categories – but a winner there was.

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Scottish Rye c/othewhiskeynut

The cleaner, bolder, more upfront spice hit of Arbikie Highland Rye gave Scotland it’s only winner of the evening. There were a few surprised faces during sampling on this one – and even more when it was revealed – but clearly rye is a style to be reckoned with – and I can’t wait for that 6 year old Kilbeggan rye to be released. Unfortunately Green Spot just didn’t hit the high notes in this round.

Of all the category winners – in fact of all the entrants – I’d asked for a favourite for the evening. The 67% majority vote took me a little by surprise.

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Aldi 26yo wins out! c/othewhiskeynut

What else can I say but congratulations to Aldi & all the team that were behind this amazing release.

The bottle was drained, the haggis was shared out, and the participant that turned out immaculately attired in a kilt was duly given a bottle of whisky by way of a prize.

I’d like to thank all those that attended. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and from comments on the evening, everyone else did too! Big thanks also to Sean’s Bar for hosting the event. By the sounds of it – we’ll be back for more!

Slàinte.

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Seasons Greetings

A big thanks you

To all my friends & family

Facebook followers & Twitterati

Blog readers

And all I’ve met on my whiskey adventures.

Happy Dramming!

Remember

Drink responsibly

Drink quality.

And raise a toast to all those who touched us during their lives

But are no longer with us.

Slainte.Good Logo

From Irish Beer Fest to Whiskey Fest

The Irish Craft Beer Fest of 27th to 29th August at the RDS in Dublin continues to be the centrepiece of the growing Irish Craft Beer scene. Brewers amaze with their ever expanding range of styles, flavours and tastes while new entrants pop up all over the country with yet more fine ales.

The atmosphere is always very relaxed and friendly with loads of seating areas where casual conversations with strangers quickly enter into the finer qualities of the beverage being consumed.

Cider is also a growing scene – with one of our party braving the massive 15% ABV Tawny from Stonewell Cider!

Brigid's Ale c/o thewhiskeynut
Brigid’s Ale c/o thewhiskeynut

Beers I sampled included the lovely White Hag Heather Sour Ale which managed to better their Bog Ale. Brigid’s Ale from Two Sisters was a lovely new entrant and Mountain Man had some lovely specials based on their Sneaky Owl brew.

Meanwhile the whiskey element seems to have been dropped from the logo – despite this 4 worthy distilleries displayed their wares at the show.

Jameson Caskmates c/o Jameson
Jameson Caskmates c/o Jameson

Midleton actually had 2 stalls. The first showcased their collaboration with Franciscan Wells Brewery of Cork and Jameson Whiskey using beer barrels to age whiskey in – and whiskey barrels to age beer in. Now I’ve tried a few beers of this type – Ola Dubh from Harvieston is one of the best –  and found them generally agreeable – rising to fabulous – but I’ve yet to try the whiskey!

The second Midleton stall was the marvelously wooded Single Pot Still stand offering the highly acclaimed as well as highly enjoyable range of expressions from this esteemed distillery.

The remaining stalls were both from the new kids on the block – no – not the dodgy boyband – but the new generation of Irish distillers.

Dingle Distillery of Kerry were showcasing their Gin and Vodka expressions only which judging by the long queues were going down very well indeed. Their whiskey however has not matured for long enough to be released yet – but should be out by the end of the year.

St Patrick's Distillery c/o thewhiskeynut
St Patrick’s Distillery c/o thewhiskeynut

The last spirit offering came from Cork in the shape of the unknown – at least to me – St Patrick’s Distillery. Despite telling myself I’d stick to sampling the myriad of beers on offer – I was drawn to this new expression – one of very few new releases not connected to the established distilleries.

I got talking to Cyril Walsh about their whiskey release – St Patrick’s Irish Whiskey. Turns out their spirit is a blend made from 3 year old grain from the West Cork Distillery in Skibbereen and a 21 year old malt from an undisclosed source – probably Midleton – also in Cork. The distillation, maturing, blending and bottling is all done in the Rebel County. St Patrick’s Distillery aren’t a distillery at all – they just get someone else to make it for them – then market it.

Now before anyone jumps on their high horse – this is a very tried and tested method of whiskey production. After all Mitchell & Son Wine Merchants bonded, blended and sold whiskey under their own brand names – Green Spot and Yellow Spot to name two – which originated from the then Jameson Distillery in Dublin.

St Patrick's Irish Whiskey c/o StPats
St Patrick’s Irish Whiskey c/o StPats

Having said that – St Patrick’s Irish Whiskey is not in the Spot class – it is however a very smooth spicy tasting blend which I enjoyed very much. There is a passing resemblance to some Powers releases in my mind – I’d certainly like to try the 21 year old malt that gives this blend it’s lovely flavour! They weren’t selling bottles at the show – a pity as I’d have snapped one up on the strength of the sample I drank.

Powers Johns Lane Release c/o irishwhiskey.com
Powers Johns Lane Release c/o irishwhiskey.com

After having this lovely tipple – despite being at the beer fest – our table started a whiskey fest and an excellent Yellow Spot arrived. This is a smoother 12 year old companion to the equally fine Green Spot. Not to be outdone I offered the Powers John’s Lane Release which also has a rich smoothness complimented by a spiciness which gives it just that extra little kick I love – despite The Cramps who are still looking for it.

As time was getting on – we retired to a friends house where the fine whiskeys kept on coming courtesy of the drinks cabinet.

There was a predominance of Scotch whisky on offer with a few Irish expressions too.

The first off the blocks caused a rumpus. Now I know Speyside malts have an almost cult like status in the whisky world – much like IPA has amongst the craft beer fraternity – and Gordon & McPhail are renowned blenders and bottlers of good repute who have been tantalising the tastebuds of whisky aficionados for over 120 years – but their Speymalt Macallan much like Shania says – didn’t impress me much!

Speymalt Macallan c/o mastersofmalt
Speymalt Macallan c/o mastersofmalt

There you go – said it – I’ve completely dismissed the holy trinity of alcoholic beverages – Scotch whisky – specifically from Speyside – Gordon & McPhail and IPA – the beer style that launched the current craft beer revival – dissed by a slice of cheesy 90’s pop!

But isn’t drinking all about personal taste? Not about what we are told to like by popularity polls or slick advertising?

Springbank 10yo c/o Springbank
Springbank 10yo c/o Springbank

After my host almost choked on his dram – a bottle of Springbank 10 yo proved to be far more aligned with my tastes. I have to admit here that I have had issues with peat in the past – but this finely balanced expression allows other flavours to come through in the mouth whilst the peat element gives an extra oomph to the experience.

Jack Ryan 12yo c/o Jack Ryan
Jack Ryan 12yo c/o Jack Ryan

The Irish contingent were not to be outdone with a very fine smooth glass of the excellent Jack Ryan 12 yo Single followed by an equally smooth Celtic Casks Ocht release which is one of the expressions made in conjunction with the Celtic Whiskey Shop. I did prefer their Knappogue Castle Marsala release – but I think it’s all sold out now!

Knappogue Castle Marsala Cask c/o Celticwhiskeyshop
Knappogue Castle Marsala Cask c/o Celticwhiskeyshop

The final offering also split the table. Whilst the host waxed lyrical about how cask strength is a pure form of the distillers art undiluted by ingredients like water – others mused it blew your head off and as mere drinkers we had to guess how much water to add – too much killed the taste – too little numbed the palate – we felt safer if the expert distiller had done this for us.

Glengoyne Cask Strength c/o Glengoyne
Glengoyne Cask Strength c/o GlengoyneJa

At a massive 58% ABV the Glengoyne Cask Strength hits the palate with a BOOM – but within that there were discernible tastes and flavours. Mmmmm! Must explore this distillery further.

By now the discussions became more rambling and mellow! Teas, coffees and a slice of toast rounded of the very enjoyable evening tasting.

From the premier Irish Beer Fest to a very fine private whiskey fest – what more could you ask for?

Slainte

Whiskey Nut

Trans Europe Express – the first tastings.

They say that travels broadens the mind – but in my case it tantalizes the taste buds with the promise of experiencing new whiskey expressions not normally available at home.

My trans Europe jaunt certainly lived up to my expectations – with many a new dram sampled – and a few surprises and helpful tips along the way!

First port of call was my former home for 20 years – London – for the afore-blogged wedding. Having left over a decade ago it was a welcome return but at times I felt like a tourist – so much had changed and I was seeing it with fresh eyes.

A certain Pukka Boy has opened a few establishments around town and it was to one of those I ventured to meet up with my better half and a few of her cousins at a reunion gathering. The meal had ended by the time I arrived so drinks were ordered and as is my custom – I eyed the bar for a suitable tasting experience. Spotting a bottle of Sazerac Rye hidden behind a big branded blend – I sat down to chat and savour the warm rye flavour profile.

Sazerac Rye c/o thewhiskyexchange
Sazerac Rye c/o thewhiskyexchange

The rye didn’t disappoint with it’s full flavour opening up in the mouth with a very welcome spicy tinge. I got chatting away on whiskey matters – as you do – favourite drams – the rise of Irish Whiskey and so on – so when another round was required what else could I go for but a glass of the old reliable Green Spot.

Green Spot c/o celticwhiskeyshop
Green Spot c/o celticwhiskeyshop

Meaty beaty big and bouncy is an apt way to sum up this whiskey – like the Who’s album it’s an old classic – worthy of listening to whilst tasting this historic dram which is still independently bottled by Mitchell & Sons – the way all whiskey was sold at one time.  I didn’t taste his food – but the whiskey at the bar was certainly pukka!

Second port of call the day after the wedding was The Whisky Exchange shop at Vinopolis near London Bridge. As I’ve used their excellent online service on a number of occasions – mainly for UK based relatives at Xmas and birthdays – I thought it about time to pay their shop a visit.

My goal was a bottle of One – a blend using spirit from the recent batch of new distilleries opening in Scotland, England, Ireland (presumably Northern Ireland in this case) and Wales – which appealed to my theme of getting a bottle of home produced whiskey from each country I visit – but;

Whiskey Tip No. 1  Pre-order your purchases before visiting the shop as despite carrying a bewildering array of whiskies – this is only a fraction of the vast stock they hold at he online warehouse in West London.

Aha! I didn’t – so I then spent ages trying to figure out what to buy from the tantalising display on offer.

Eventually I decided on Wemyss Malt Spice King as these whisky blenders have just built a new distillery in Kingsbarns where many moons ago before the distillery was even thought about – before the golf course was even built – and before my brother acquired an american accent – he celebrated his engagement to his US girlfriend by holding a rather chilly party on the lovely beach there whilst they were both students in Edinburgh.

Spice King c/o thewhiskyexchange
Spice King c/o thewhiskyexchange

Luckily this dram warms you with it’s malty aroma, smooth yet spicy taste and long lasting glow. Lovely. I’ll have to pay a visit and try out the other expressions based on this experience.

Betjeman Arms c/o geronimo-inns
Betjeman Arms c/o geronimo-inns

My last day in London consisted of packing up before catching the train to mainland Europe. There was a brief stop in the Betjeman Arms at St Pancreas Station to sample a Canadian Club with some olives and bread before our departure.

This is a lovely spot to enjoy the fabulous architecture, sculptures and general hustle ‘n’ bustle of train travel in a relaxed atmosphere – as well as enjoying the unexpectedly good aroma and taste of this entry level blend from Canadian whiskey giants Hiram Walker but now part of Japanese giants Suntory – maybe it’s because it’s aged for 6 years together with a rye content – but I found it very tasty indeed! Must try it out again soon.

Canadian Club c/o thewhiskyexchange
Canadian Club c/o thewhiskyexchange

And so into Europe on the train. What a lovely way to travel. No complicated check in – no luggage restrictions – plenty of legroom and the ability to walk around. That walking around led me to the bar where my visions of varied whiskies from around Europe were quickly and decidedly  dashed by the single Jack Daniels miniature on offer. Now I know JD is a phenomenally popular drink – but it’s not mine;

Whiskey Tip No 2  As the Stones sang – “You can’t always get what you want” – so carry a suitable miniature – or better still a hip flask filled with your favourite tipple for those occasions when scarcity, unavailability or simply poor choice denies you the experience of enjoying a good relaxing dram whilst travelling.

Sadly the miniatures I’d bought at The Whisky Exchange were buried at the bottom of my luggage so i’d to wait until our arrival at the apartment in Aachen before having the opportunity of being able to sit down and relax.

Being at a late hour – I rushed out to grab a curry before the restaurants closed and enjoyed a small Black Bottle whisky to wash it down.

Black Bottle c/o thewhiskyexchange
Black Bottle c/o thewhiskyexchange

The slight peatiness and smooth tasting blend complemented the spicy curry which marked our move from familiar places to the excitement of new sights, sounds and smell of the Benelux area of mainland Europe.

To be continued…

Slainte

Whiskey Nut

A Good Blend Is Like A Good Marriage

This blog sends out congratulations to the very happy marriage and highly enjoyable ceremony of Paul and Shazan.

A uniting of two people from diverse backgrounds and countries whose combination is greater than the sum of their individual parts.

In attending the joyous event, I brought along something OLD for the occasion – and how older can you get than a specially bottled whiskey from the oldest working distillery in the world?

Celebration Kilbeggan c/o thewhiskeynut
Celebration Kilbeggan c/o thewhiskeynut

Like a good marriage – a good blended whiskey brings together diverse spirits – in this case single malt and single grain – that when combined bring about a happy taste experience. The flag bearing Kilbeggan Blend from the Kilbeggan/Cooley distilleries certainly does that in style!

Something NEW is the superbly redesigned Whiskey Shop at the Loop Dublin Airport. I felt like a little kid let loose in the chocolate factory! There was so much whiskey on offer I didn’t know where to begin. From what I can see all the Irish whiskey expressions currently on release were on display – along with a very impressive range of the big four – Scotland, USA, Japan and Canada. There were also some very welcome releases from World Whisky ie,, Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Australia, New Zealand, France and India to name a few. But what to chose?

Luckily – a representative from Walsh Whiskey Distillery was at hand with their very impressive range to sample. I spent a happy half hour sampling as well as being informed on the merits of each expression on offer.

Irishman Founders Reserve c/o irishmanwhiskey.com
Irishman Founders Reserve c/o theirishmanwhiskey.com

First up was the Irishman Founders Reserve. This is the standard blend of the Irishman range but it is no ordinary blend! It is a combination of single malt and single pot still with no grain whiskey in sight that gives it a lovely spicy palate characteristic of a single pot still expression. I really enjoyed this tipple.

Irishman Single Malt c/o theirishmanwhisky.com
Irishman Single Malt c/o theirishmanwhisky.com

This was followed up by the Irishman Single Malt which is very smooth and palatable – so much so I’ve a bottle at home already.

Irishman 12 yo c/o theirishmanwhiskey.com
Irishman 12 year old c/o theirishmanwhiskey.com

The Irishman 12 yo Single Malt was an even smoother more complex dram,

Irishman Cask c/o theirishmanwhiskey.com
Irishman Cask  Strength c/o theirishmanwhiskey.com

and the Irishman Cask Strength certainly knocked the socks of me.

Writers Tears c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Writers Tears c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

To finish off there was the delightful Writer’s Tears blend. A popular expression – again with a single malt and single pot still mix which gives it a punchy palate.

I’ve tried a few of these whiskeys before and found them very agreeable – but never back to back. I must admit the Irishman Founders Reserve impressed me the most on this occasion. Good luck to all at Walsh Whiskey in building their new distillery in Co. Carlow, based on my tasting experience – they have a bright future.

The BORROWED element came in the form of the wedding venue – The London Irish Centre in Camden Square, London. During the course of the festivities I acquainted myself with the fine array of Irish whiskey behind the bar and introduced a fellow guest to the delights therein. It’s a pity the range of Irish craft beer on offer wasn’t also represented at the venue.

Two sampling trays together with tasting notes were duly despatched to our table which included;

Connemara Peated Whiskey c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Connemara Peated Whiskey c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

Connemara Peated Single Malt. An Irish peated whiskey that has picked up many awards in it’s time and another fine  Kilbeggan/Cooley expression.

Green Spot c/o celticwhiskeyshop
Green Spot c/o celticwhiskeyshop

Green Spot. An historical Single Pot Still whiskey that is at the forefront of the rise in interest in Irish whiskey as well as being a survivor of a period when independent wine merchants bottled a distilleries spirit under their own label and specifications. A fine dram indeed.

Redbreast 12 yo c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Redbreast 12 yo c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

Redbreast 12 yo. A smooth, oloroso finished single pot still that clearly shows why it has won awards upon sampling a dram and,

Crested Ten c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Crested Ten c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

Crested Ten. A favourite tipple of mine at home. Crested Ten has the honour of being the first whiskey Jameson sold under it’s own label in 1963 as opposed to the route of selling to independent bottlers as shown by Green Spot above, It’s a blend of single pot still and grain whiskey with some ageing in sherry casks which give it a more complex finish than the standard Jameson blend. Well worth looking for.

In this taste off – Redbreast clearly shone through with it’s smooth and complex taste with a long finish.

Wild Geese Rare Blend c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop
Wild Geese Rare Blend c/o Celtic Whiskey Shop

During the speeches a toast was raised to those absent from the ceremony. This constituted my BLUE element and what better to toast those departed than a shot of Wild Geese – a whiskey named after The Flight Of The Earls in 1607 but also to represent the long history of Irish emigration. Over 150 years ago the boats carrying people would have been the Irish fleeing famine across the Atlantic rather than Africans fleeing conflict in the Mediterranean today. I just wish that the compassion, care and help that Irish emigrants received then would be replicated for the modern day emigrants.

Wild Geese is another range coming out of the Kilbeggan/Cooley distillery and the dram I had proved to be a very smooth balanced dram. It’s a pity I don’t remember which expression it was but it came in a rectangular bottle so I’m guessing it was the Rare Blend release.

The Happy Couple c/o Whiskey Nut
The Happy Couple c/o Whiskey Nut

To wrap this blog up – what better than to toast the happy couple with a glass of Amrut Fusion whisky. A perfect blend of Indian and Scottish malts married together to create a very enjoyable and tasty dram.

Amrut Fusion through regional dress style c/o Whiskey Nut
Amrut Fusion through regional dress style c/o Whiskey Nut

Although Shazan is originally from India – the analogy falls with Paul as he isn’t from Scotland (although one of the guests was) – but nonetheless – their marriage is a perfect blend of two cultures coming together in unity.

To borrow from an Irish descendant, “May the road rise with you“.

Sláinte

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