Tag Archives: Paul John Distilleries

Fife Whisky Festival, Cupar, 2018

Just how I like to seek out new & exciting whiskeys to taste – I’m also keen to try out new whiskey experiences – especially when they are the inaugural outing for the Fife Whisky Festival in the county town of Cupar.

The atmosphere inside the Corn Exchange building was far more welcoming than the rather ‘drookit & dreich’ weather outside as I made my way to the first warming whisky of the show.

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Art Of The Blend No 4 c/othewhiskeynut

Eden Mill distillery is only a short distance away and I have previously enjoyed their sourced blends in the very attractive Art Of The Blend series. The No. 4 bottle is a port cask finish which displayed that lovely dry yet fruity mouth feel I associate with this style of whisky. Very nice, but the sold out No. 3 still remains my favourite. Eden Mill’s own whisky should be ready for release later this year.

That Boutique-y Whisky Company are independent bottlers of fine repute well known for their distinctive cartoony labels – as well as their award winning showman in the shape of Boutique-y Dave.

How could I not resist the ‘My Lovely Horse’ of Irish Single Malt #1?

It’s a 13 year old unnamed source single malt – although you can always guess – and is a very decent representation of the Irish ‘style’ – if it can be pigeon holed in one bottle. Soft, subtle, fruity & sweet. I couldn’t help thinking there’s better than this released now with all the exciting new expressions & distilleries emerging.

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A tasty trio c/othewhiskeynut

Undeterred I ventured onto 2 similarly unnamed Scottish offerings. Blended Malt #2 & Blended Whiskey #3. Both were delights & highlighted the true masterful work of a great blend. If anything – #3 was probably a far more complex & rounded offering but the peat in #2 won it for me. Gorgeous.

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X marks the spot! c/othewhiskeynut

The nearby James Eadie stall also did a fine blend with a bit of history – and peat – by the name of Trade Mark X which certainly pleased my palate.

Strathearn meanwhile were new to me and despite having a display of malts in different cask finishes – the interesting stuff couldn’t be photographed. They had a selection of spirits which represented the history & development of ‘whisky’ throughout it’s long career.

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Strathearn Single Malts c/othewhiskeynut

I was presented with a sample that looked like whisky. It certainly tasted like a young & fresh peated whisky with delightfully different notes. Only to be told it happened to be a peated malt aged in chestnut casks for only 6 months!

Totally outside the SWA (Scottish Whisky Association) rules – yet totally tasty & innovative. I just hope Strathearn can come to some arrangement whereby it can be released. I’d be first in the queue to buy it.

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Longrow Red c/othewhiskeynut

I should point out that I rehydrated with water after every sample & rinsed out my tasting glass too to avoid ‘over extending’ myself and contaminating the next sample, which happened to be from Campbeltown distillers Springbank.

They recently released a Longrow Red edition finished in French wine casks which balanced that lovely peaty punch with some sweet fruity notes. Very enjoyable.

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Triple distilled Scotch c/othewhiskeynut

I did spot an unusual offering at the other end of the table. A triple distilled Hazelburn! Sadly the soft, smooth & subtle characteristics were a little lost on me after my previous drink – and it was way too sweet for my liking – but a worthy try.

Lough Fyne’s Living Cask – using a solera style maturation with batches drawn off at various intervals – impressed me more than their rather lacklustre blend.

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Living Cask 1745 c/othewhiskeynut

The Islay Boys Flatnöse blend also passed me by. Too much Speyside malt had turned down the Islay peat fire for my liking. The blended malt was a far better offering whilst their  Bårelegs Single Malt – from an unnamed Islay distillery – stoked that peat to it’s maximum. I enjoyed it so much – in combination with the attractive packaging & Viking tales – I happily gave it my dram of the day – current release – for the festival.

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The Islay Boys whisky c/othewhiskeynut

Oh! The boys were abroad themselves, so one of the mums served me and did a very good job of it too, #whiskymum!

Another Fife distillery recently opened is Lindores Abbey. Famous for the ‘eight bolls of malt’ order from 1494. Their unaged Aqua Vitae infused with gorgeously warming spices is loosely based on what those monks may have been drinking back then. It certainly raised my spirits. What raised my spirits even further was their 70% new make. The clean, crisp & clear taste impressed me very much. Bodes well for intended  whisky releases in years to come.

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Powerful stuff! c/othewhiskeynut

Inchdairnie – another Fife distillery – had the most unusual whisky stand I’ve ever encountered. A black box you’re invited in to be shown the workings & philosophy behind this bold venture. They are using an unusual bespoke Lomond Hill still with unconventional mash filtration along with unusual mash bills containing my favourite – rye. I did get a sample of their new make spirit which impressed me with it’s softly spicy rye & creamy barley mix. I just had to give this my dram of the day – future release – for the whole ‘drama’ of the presentation as well as innovation & taste. I’ll be keeping an eye on the development of this one.

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! c/othewhiskeynut

Time was beginning to run out on this session so I had a brief chat with Shilton – the constantly traveling & cheery rep – staffing the only non-Scotch stall of the day showcasing the excellent Paul John Indian whisky range.

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Paul John’s Shilton c/othewwhiskeynut

To round off this fabulous festival a final couple of drams we’re had at the Ben Nevis stand. Their old recipe based McDonald’s single malt proved peaty, punchy, robust & charming – which made the 10 year old rather soft & subtle in comparison. Give me the bolder character any day over the smoother sibling!

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Ben Nevis whisky c/othewhiskeynut

And with that, it was all over!

The bell to clear the hall sounded & happy punters melted out into a wet Cupar warmed by wonderful whisky.

Congratulations to all the team involved in putting this show together.

It puts Fife firmly  on the whisky trail.

Slàinte.

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Whisky Live Melbourne 2016

By fortuitous chance – and a little rearranging of travel plans – my trip to Oz coincided with Whisky Live Melbourne.

I couldn’t let such an opportunity pass by so booked my ticket online even before the flight plans had been finalised!

Held in the fine looking St Kilda Town Hall – I arrived early to find a queue of fellow whisky fans eagerly awaiting the delights inside. Having previously attended a similar show in Dublin last year I made sure I was well hydrated and fed before the event.

My original plan to sample as much Australian whisky as I could had to be revised as browsing the pre-show website it became clear not many Aussie distilleries were attending. They didn’t need to! Their limited releases usually sold out very quickly leaving little stock leftover for sampling at shows.

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Paul at Pilgrim c/othewhiskeynut

The only representative of the new crop of Aussie distilleries happened to be Melbourne’s own Starward whisky where I reacquainted myself with Paul Slater who had so eloquently guided me through their portfolio during his Starward Talk &Taste evening at Pilgrim Bar the night before.

The lovely Apera and Wine Cask releases were on display at Whisky Live – but Paul had something under the table new to me – New World Projects X .

The contrast between your minds perception of what a clear spirit should be like – and want you actually experience on tasting – is certainly an interesting experience. It’s definitely whisky – if a little more oily and sweet than the Solera release on which a 3rd distillation has removed the colour to obtain Project X.

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Project X c/othewhiskeynut

In a similar vein, Glendalough – one of 3 Irish stands at the show – had their Sherry Cask Irish Poitin which I tried in an almost mirror effect to Starward. In this case the unaged spirit has rested for a short while in sherry casks to give a lovely rich brown colour to the liquid which upon tasting gave a sweetness to the rather young spirit in the bottle. I found both these expressions a rather novel approach which would certainly be a talking point if offered to guests from the drinks cabinet!

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Glendalough Poitin collection c/othewhiskeynut

Leaving Australia behind, India was the next nearest whisky producing country to exhibit with Paul John Distilleries being the sole representative.

I’d read lots of rave reviews about their whisky so eagerly accepted an invitation to be guided through the range by an enthusiastic ambassador who passionately informed me of the manufacturing process as well as the greedy angels in Goa which result in the wonderfully rich fruity & very tasty single malts before me.

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Go on! Try a Goan whisky! c/othewhiskeynut

After 4 of these fine malts were tried I found it hard to pick a favourite between the Bold Edition at 46% or the stunning Select Cask Peated at 58%!  Both we’re delicious and deserve all the praise they have attracted.

Following on from my 4th of July blog I thought I’d further explore the American contribution to whiskey by starting with 2 distilleries new to me.

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Appalachian Gap in Melbourne c/othewhiskeynut

Appalachian Gap Snowfall is an unaged Vermont spirit made with a corn,barley and rye mash. The sweet corn influence took the edge off the 54% ABV together with a pleasant rye spice which I liked and a slightly oily mouthfeel. Their Kaffekask 44% release whereby the whisky is filtered through coffee beans in a Lincoln County Process style certainly brought a coffee kick to the table but was too sweet for my tastes. I declined the Kaffekask Liqueur.

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Dry Fly dispensing! c/othewhiskeynut

Dry Fly Distilling from Washington State had a slightly more traditional selection using 100% wheat mash offerings at both 40% & 60% cask strength as well as a Port Finish at 43%. The combination of vanilla sweetness together with a slightly harsh finish didn’t endear them to me but the Triticale Whiskey I found much more appealing. Triticale is a hybrid grain derived from wheat and rye varieties and Dry Fly claims to be the first using this type of grain in a whiskey. The sweetness was still there but softened by a smoothness and slight spicy rye finish.

Woodford Reserve had a stall – but I found nothing of note.

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A pair of Jacks c/othewhiskeynut

Jack Daniels were next door with 5 releases for the Australian market. Not being a fan of Old No.7 I went straight for the No.27 Gold. At 40% this expression took me by surprise. The lovely pronounced spicy finish had me hooked. Even better than the Gentleman Jack release which I’m partial to. The Jack representative on the stall reliably informed me the double mellowing through 10 foot of sugar maple as well as additional barrel finishes provided the flavour boost. In this instance Sinatra didn’t sing for me!

Having called in at Glendalough I thought I’d better say hello to both Hyde and Tipperary.

Hyde had 3 offerings which I have tried before and enjoyed very much.

Tipperary meanwhile had eluded me with their Rising release so I gave it a go. Oh dear! Far too sweet for my liking.

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Tipperary Boutique Distillery at Whisky Live Melbourne c/othewhiskeynut

My last port of call before turning to the largest contingent of the show – Scottish whisky – was to Sigrun, an Australian importer of Scandinavian malts. Mackmyra & Box from Sweden, Floki from Iceland and Teerenpeli from Finland were in attendance.

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Floki Young Malt c/othewhiskeynut

Sheep dung is used to dry the 100% Icelandic barley Floki is made with. It’s an unaged offering at 47% which gave a characteristic oily mouthfeel together with a slightly off-putting sour note for me. Pity – as I really enjoyed my visit to Rekyavik a few years ago. Maybe further ageing will mature it to my tastes.

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Teerenpeli Rasi c/othewhiskeynut

Teerenpeli Rasi appealed to me instantly with it’s lovely well balanced light smooth taste. I must try out more of these Scandinavian expressions!

My remaining time at the show – along with staying hydrated from the water coolers placed handily around the hall and partaking in some tasty snacks from the centrally placed canteen buffet – consisted of Scotch.

I challenged my peat tolerance by going for the peat monster that is Octmore 7.1. Wow! Peat then spice and an explosion of flavour. Now I get it.

I ventured into NAS territory with Ardmore Legacy, Talisker Skye, Jura Superstition and Laphroig Quarter Cask. Only the Jura I found disappointing with it’s over sweetness.

A trio of Finlaggan expressions from an unnamed Islay distillery – or even distilleries – were all very engaging with the cask strength coming out tops.

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Finlaggan Whisky c/othewhiskeynut

The Glenrothes  rep impressed me very much by keeping a large audience enthralled with his sales patter as he went through a series of releases AND topping up all the glasses at the same time. By this point in the evening I couldn’t quiet keep up with him and my tasting notes were becoming illegible! Suffice to say the one that stood out for me – Glenrothes Vintage 1992 2nd Release had the most balanced nose complemented by a complex cacophony of taste – happened to be one of the priciest.

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Glenrothes in action c/othewhiskeynut

Despite there being a large shop at the back where eager whisky geeks could purchase rare or hard to find expressions – I simply immersed myself in the wonderful opportunity Whisky Live events provide in sampling a wide variety of styles, strengths and regions of whisky production throughout the world. Conversations soon flow as to the merits of NAS vs Age Statements, Bourbon vs Whisky, to chill filter or not and even to add water or not.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Whisky Live Melbourne.

If ever a Whisky Live event comes your way – make a beeline for it.

You won’t be disappointed.

Oh! Don’t over do it.

The combination of drinking plenty of water inbetween samples as well as topping up with a lovely goat curry from the wittily named iCurry restaurant on St Kilda Road afterwards ensured I woke up relatively bright and cheery to face yet another day of adventure in Melbourne.

Slainte

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