As a large Belgian media conglomerate has just swallowed up a chunk of Irish news media – I thought it opportune to swallow some Belgian Whiskey.
Now Belgium is relatively new to the game of whisky distilling – but have a long history of distilling jenever – so it’s rather refreshing to see a bold ‘Aged 3 Years’ statement emblazoned across the front of this very attractively presented bottle of single malt.
Just as every Belgian Beer has it’s own glassware – it seems as if Belgian Whisky is no exception to this highly entertaining & endearing custom.
My interest was certainly piqued.
Vuur – for anyone who doesn’t know – is Flemish for fire – I had to look it up myself – which is explained by the peat content.
Belgium does actually have peat bogs. Mainly around the Haute Fagnes area – oddly near the highest point in Belgium at Signal De Botrange. I only know this as I happened to visit the place when on holiday a few years ago.
Belgian lightly peated malted barley was used in this whisky.
Extra ‘fire’ content is provided by the use of ex-Laphroaig quarter casks for maturation.
And a great job they do too!
There’s a joyful youthfulness about it.
A little bit bold – a tad brash – but full of flavour & appeal.
The peat influence is relatively quiet to begin with – a trifle soft – while the barley sweetness slowly gets consumed into a glowing ashy peat smokiness that gradually dries out the palate leaving a very satisfyingly long warm feeling on the finish.
A beautiful little number from Belgium!
I sourced my bottle via the wonderfully named Drankenwereld shop in Belgium itself here.
Yes there was still peat – but the dominant note of vanilla sweetness let me down.
Big, bad & bold is what I was looking for – but all I got was soft, smooth & sweet.
A bit too much added caramel I think.
A bit like Girls Aloud’s Nadine Coyle who hails from Derry
Interestingly both Talisker & Laphroaig add caramel too – which would explain the sweet notes I detected. I just don’t understand why they have to do this with single malts. The sweet notes turned me off all 3 expressions.
But when it comes to your age statements versus NAS – Jura came bottom of the list.
The Talisker Skye came out tops – even although I’d prefer the 10 Year Old.
I generally don’t look down on an NAS bottling – but I’m increasingly looking down on added caramel – the proof of the pudding is in the eating however. All 3 of these whiskies tasted overly sweet to me – the Jura decidedly so – which was more of a deciding factor rather than the NAS or age statement issue.
Meanwhile the more variety of styles, tastes, finishes and ages – or not – out there the better in my book.
By trying them all out you begin to appreciate the differences & start to hone down your own particular style.
If you find a whiskey you like – embrace it – regardless of what others say.
We are all individuals with our own taste preferences and idiosyncracies – much like the whiskeys we drink.
Burns Night is celebrated with much gusto throughout the world and usually involves Scotch Whisky & haggis.
This lovely short video explains all.
I decided to celebrate Burns Night in The Malt House – my local in Athlone.
The agenda for the evening comprised of 4 differing styles of Scotch with 4 authentic Scottish food pairings – including some haggis!
808 Whisky kicked off the proceedings.
Marketed as ‘Whisky Remixed‘, this 40% chill filtered blended grain is the creation of DJ TommyD – hence being named after the famous Roland TR808 drum-machine that inspired modern dance music.
Soft & subtle with a faint spice at the end made this a very easy to drink whisky which went down well with almost all the tasters.
It’s whisky for the new generation – so we paired it with old generation traditional Scottish shortbread.
Next up was a far more heavier & peatier example of a Scottish whisky dating from the 1870’s – which makes this blend about the same age as the original ‘Old Parr’ who was allegedly the oldest man alive before he passed away at 152!
The peat content didn’t please everyone – but Grand Old Parr 12 Year Old was balanced by some soft sweet grain notes which smoothed down the overall experience. Scottish tablet complimented this gently chewy whisky.
Laphroaig 10 is one of the big peat hitters from Islay. The smoke had a more intense hit than Old Parr & only the more seasoned whisky drinkers in the audience seemed to enjoy it!
A round of oatmeal biscuit soaked up the welcome fire from this famous single malt.
The most refined and complex whisky of the evening was undoubtedly the exclusive Robert Burns single malt from Isle Of Arran Distillers.
Bottled at 43%, aged in a combination of ex bourbon & sherry casks, this malt gave a soft sweet palate of fresh fruits which followed through to mild spice on the long warm finish.
Haggis on a seaweed oatcake brought out a bout of tingling on the tongue as the pepper & spice of the pudding interacted with the spirit – very enjoyable.
There was no outbreak of Highland Dancing nor bagpiping or dubious tartan fashion statements as in The Bay City Rollers – but there was a little corner of Scotland in The Malt House to celebrate the poet.
My thanks to The Malt House for the hospitality & big thanks to all who came along to enjoy the evening.