Tag Archives: Japan

Fujimi, The 7 Virtues Blend, Japan, 40%

Continuing my sample selection from the Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder is this blended whisky from Japan.

Image courtesy alconealko.sk

I like to taste without prejudice – so dived straight in.

Pale golden colour – decent legs.

Nice nose!

Old leather, slight smoke, touch of depth.

Quite light on the palate.

A lovely drying & spicy finish – which I often attribute to a hint of peat in the mix.

A well presented & balanced blended whisky with hints of depth & complexity.

Fujimi is one of these samples I enjoyed so much I’d be happy to buy a full bottle!

Sláinte

All images authors own unless stated.

A Nikka Whisky Trilogy – All Malt, Blended & Super Old Rare, 40% to 43%

I’m always excited tasting a trio of whisky from the same source to compare & contrast their range.

These Nikka Whisky were purchased from Drams Delivered in Killarney.

Nikka Blended, 40%

No longer listed on the Nikka Whisky website, this blend offered up soft caramel notes with hints of malty depth. A sweet fruity palate with an attractive drying bite on the finish – suggestive of some peat influence.

An attractive easy style of whisky with a touch of character.

Nikka All Malt, 40%

I’ve encountered this unusually packaged & delightful blended malt before – so how will it fare on a 2nd outing?

Hints of old leather on the nose. Soft & smooth palate dries out with a prickly kick on the rear.

Not as fresh as I remembered. Could it be my memory? – Or a fading bottle?

Nikka Super Old Rare, 43%

The bottle design enticed me, but the price – when available – deterred, so this sample is a compromise.

More leathery notes on the nose. Rich & warm palate. Definitely a more pronounced peat hit on the finish with this one!

My favourite!

Thoughts

Without a doubt Super Old Rare won out in this trio.

The freshness of the Blended also impressed – but I was a little deflated by All Malt.

All 3 are well put together & showcase the Japanese blending prowess – even if none of them comply with the latest Japanese Whisky Rules.

But then that’s never been an issue with me – it’s the taste that counts.

I’m happy to keep on drinking Nikka Whisky with this enjoyable trio!

Sláinte

Bottle images courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop – Blended & Super.

All other images authors own.

Blind Tasting Whisky – A Failed Marriage, Supermarket Special & Setting Sun.

Sometimes it’s the unexpected whisky selection that gets you.

A trio of samples were sent for my enjoyment.

They were tasted blind & the notes in italics were written before the reveal.

In order of preference they were:

Happy Marriage?

A Bell’s Decanter, HRH Prince Andrew & Miss Sarah Ferguson’s Wedding, 1986, Blend, 43%

The nose had a bit of fustiness – damp old leather – suggesting signs of decay. Nice & easy body with some warmth & an attractive bite. Leaves a touch of sweet spice & juiciness.

Aldi finest?

B Glen Marnoch Speyside Single Malt 12 Year Old, 40%

Soft clean & fresh. Sherry influence? Found this one sweeter with less body. Faded quickly.

Setting sun?

C Suntory Old Whisky, Blend, 43%

Not much on the nose or body – but livened up with a long finish & touch of spice.

Thoughts

I can’t say any grabbed me. All were enjoyable & relatively easy on the palate – but just lacked character & oomph.

Post Reveal

Well that was a bit of a surprise!

Is the decay within the Bell’s Decanter an allegory for Prince Andrew’s paedophilia scandal?

Celebrity whisky pairings are always fraught with the rise & fall of the individuals involved & despite coming out best in the tasting – this one has fallen pretty far.

Glen Marnoch just pipped 2nd for the initial freshness which left Suntory trailing with it’s just too soft & easy approach.

If you want to get involved in some blind tasting fun – get in touch – you never know what you may find!

Sláinte

Many thanks to Sean for the samples & images.

My Irish Whiskey Release of 2018

There really can only be one winner.

No whiskey release has captured the imagination – mass sales – and adoration of fans on one hand.

Proper family
Proper Whiskey fans post images on twitter on securing a bottle c/otwitter

With so much derision and negativity on the other.

It has completely divided the whiskey community.

I give you Proper Twelve Irish Whiskey.

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Proper Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

I fully welcome the entry of a ‘celebrity’ into the Irish Whiskey market.

Scotland has Ewan McGregor & David Beckham, USA has Mathew McConaughey for whiskey, Lil Wayne for Rum & George Cluny for Tequila. Former World Cup Footballer Hidetoshi Nakata is involved with Sake in Japan – where the rise of it’s whisky industry is partially attributed to the film ‘Lost In Translation‘ starring Bill Murray – along with a TV drama called ‘Massan’ based on the lives of Masataka Taketsuru & his Scottish wife.

If anything – Irish Whiskey is late to this social media led personality trend – and I’d be more worried if there wasn’t an Irish celebrity wanting to get involved.

Proper 4
Proper Whiskey fans stock up c/otwitter

Right from the beginning however – even before it’s release – I posted a piece with the headline ‘We need to talk about Conor’ and got the following response;

“No we don’t”

Kind of sets the tone for what followed when Proper Twelve was launched.

 “It’s barely legal”

Well at 3 years old it is legal.

Funny though – that issue never came up when punters were outbidding each other to get hold of ‘barely legal’ Dingle or Teeling whiskey when it was first released.

Then comes the condemnation.

“Heavily adulterated with caramel”

Yes there is added caramel – it says so on the label. Caramel is a legally allowed additive both within Irish Whiskey and Scottish Whisky. The same criticism can be levelled at virtually every Jameson product, Bushmill bottle, Johnnie Walker whisky and many others as they all contain caramel. Why single out one offender?

Proper NYC
Proper Whiskey fans post images of delivery trucks in NYC c/otwitter

Then you start to get to the heart of the matter.

“See, Bono’s doing it right….he’s supporting the build of an ACTUAL distillery!”

Since when did you need a distillery to build a brand?

The Spot whiskeys started out from a grocers. So too did the best selling Johnnie Walker. Many a big brand of today began as non distillery producers – it’s a well trodden path.

And then you get plain old bias.

“I have no intention of ever trying it.”

Which is probably just as well – as blogger after blogger lined up to do a hatchet job on the liquid. The best described the whiskey as;

 “Toilet cleaner”

Really?

Now in all probability Proper Twelve was distilled at Bushmills for the malt content and Midleton for the grain. There is no law in either Irish or Scottish rules stating you must name the distillery which made the blend.

So effectively the same teams that make all Bushmills product – from the White Bush blend to the lauded 21 Year Old Single Malt – as well as the folks that make all the Jameson, Powers, Paddy’s & Midleton products have somehow dropped their standards to allow ‘toilet cleaner’ to be made in their stills, stored in their barrels and blended in their tanks?

I don’t think so.

Proper worker
Proper Whiskey CEO checking stocks c/oinstagram

What I found on tasting was a very easy going, approachable blend with a slight charred cask influence and a hint of spice.

It sits very well among the other Irish whiskey blends out there.

But then what is getting people irate – from what I can see – is not really the whiskey – it’s the man behind it – Conor McGregor.

The idea that a somewhat colourful & controversial kid from Crumlin can just swan in with his millions and release a whiskey that has the whole world talking – buying – and drinking – is obviously too much to bear .

It upsets the cosy consensus that assumed ‘premiumisation’ was the way to go – or that ‘transparency’ is key.

For a whiskey that sold out 6 months worth of stock within a matter of weeks – I think it just proved there was a vast untapped market out there waiting to be filled. It’s a marketing master stroke and something of a social media phenomenon.

But of course – when all else fails – slag off the customer.

“There are just enough rednecks and hooligans out there that will actually make this crap a success.”

I find it ironic that those who criticize Mr McGregor the loudest seem to descend to his level of pre-fight ritual lambasting.

Which is a pity.

As Mr McGregor and his Proper Twelve brand have just pulled off a massive publicity stunt that is getting Irish Whiskey instant worldwide recognition and potential sales far beyond anything that has gone before.

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Success to Proper No Twelve! c/othewhiskeynut

It is without doubt my Irish Whiskey of the year 2018.

Sláinte

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All quotes in italics are from social media posts by various whiskey fans. They are by no means the only ones. I have chosen the milder variety.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

White Oak, Akashi, Blend, 40%

Out at a party – en France.

The 1st bottle of whisky had already been enjoyed.

Our host said there was a bottle of Japanese Whisky inside.

The collective clapped their hands and said yeah!

White Oak Akashi was procured & poured.

Oh dear.

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White Oak Akashi c/othewhiskeynut

Entry level caramel infused blend this one – not much in the way of individuality, style or flavour here.

I moved onto some locally made Eaux-de-Vie.

It was far more entertaining!

Sláinte

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The Scotch Whisky juggernaut is running out of road.

All is not well in Scotch Whisky.

The fastest growing whisky making countries in the world do not include Scotland.

They do include Ireland, Japan and Canada.

So Scotch Whisky chooses to attack these countries in a series of articles and posts across various media platforms.

The common thread in all these articles revolves around the fact these countries manufacture and market their own whiskies in a manner not compliant with Scottish Whisky Association (SWA) rules.

Now I don’t know about you – but I must have missed the meeting when it was decided SWA rules applied worldwide. It shows a complete lack of respect for those countries indigenous rules, customs and practices.

The fact customers are seeking out those countries whisky products obviously means it has nothing to do with the rules – it must be something else.

Whisky from it’s very inception has never been about the rules.

Whisky has a long tradition and rich historical vein of tales involving illicit poitin & moonshine distillation, smugglers avoiding the gaugers on Highland trails and bootlegging during prohibition to name a few. It’s in the very DNA of what whisky is and has shaped the development of the spirit to this day.

Perhaps it’s about the taste?

Perhaps Scotch’s strict adherence to the rules comes at the expense of new and exciting tastes?

Perhaps those customers boosting non-Scotch making expression sales are seeking out those new tastes and the rules are not as important as they are made out to be?

I know I certainly am.

But there is an even larger threat looming round the proverbial corner. It’s a threat not of Scotch Whisky’s making.

Brexit.

Now the Scotch Whisky juggernaut needs a lot of space to manoeuver. It’s a cumbersome beast with it’s own inertia and inflexibility. It may not be able to negotiate the tricky corners ahead.

The Irish, Japanese and Canadian vehicles are smaller, more adaptable & nimble. They might be better equipped to handle the twists and turns thrown up by Brexit – as well as the US tariff fiasco.

The irony of Britain leaving Europe – and Scotch Whisky’s biggest market too – as it did not want to be dictated to by Brussels whilst Scottish Whisky tries to dictate to some of it’s competitors.

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Brexit Whiskey c/othewhiskeynut

I think I’ll have to have a glass of Brexit Whiskey – a proudly non SWA rule produced very tasty Austrian Whiskey – and ponder over Rabbie Burn’s famous words;

‘O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.’

From where I’m sitting it isn’t looking pretty.

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