As part of the build up I’m featuring a series of blogs – both old and new – over the next month focusing on a country from each letter of the alphabet – if possible – that makes whisky.
Today is P for Pakistani Whisky.
Established in 1860 to mainly cater for the British troops stationed in the area, Murree Brewery also expanded into distilling.
It is now the longest standing business in Pakistan which you can read about here. Despite being mainly a Muslim country that prohibits alcohol consumption Murree are allowed to sell to non-Muslims and foreigners.
An interesting article here highlights some of the issues.
They have a range of beers as well as selected whiskies, gins & vodka.
I can’t vouch for availability outside of Pakistan.
But a decent age statement at 43% is worthy of a try.
At Brooklyn I booked myself into one of Kings County Distillery tours in the grand old Paymaster Building inside the historic Brooklyn Navy Yard. Located only a short walk from either the York St subway or the iconic Brooklyn Bridge itself – it’s easily accessible for anyone staying in New York.
Dave – our tour guide on the day – entertainingly took us through a potted history of whiskey distillation in Brooklyn taking in topics such as civil war, taxes, legal & illegal production, alcohol consumption, Irish immigration, prohibition as well as many other related – or not – subjects & then tied the whole lot up together with the founding of Kings County Distilling itself in 2010.
I’ll repeat that year again.
Because that makes Kings County Distillery the 1st legal whiskey distillery in New York City since prohibition.
History has long tentacles.
We were shown the whole whiskey making process from the mashing of the grains in open fermenters,
To the distillation in copper pot stills,
To the maturation of the spirit in virgin american oak casks in the upstairs warehouse.
Kings County Distillery have chosen to go down a a fairly traditional route in that they produce a predominately high corn mash bill bourbon with only a small amount of barely from Scotland.
The use of small casks allows a shorter maturation period – generally less than 2 years – before it is deemed suitable for release. Some larger casks have also been laid down for future expressions & I couldn’t help noticing the ‘rye’ mark on some casks indicating a welcome addition to the current range at some date.
Tasting the actual product of all this hard work and silent development in the wood is obviously the highlight of any tour.
Kings County Distillery treated us to 4 expressions from their current range.
Starting with the Moonshine release at 40%.
The nose was the classic oily & slightly rotten fruit smell I associate with an unaged spirit. The taste followed through as expected with no real surprises. A perfectly fine & smooth example of this style of spirit which is often released by new distilleries as a showcase and money maker whilst the real bourbon or whiskey slowly matures.
The Bourbon release came next.
At 45% ABV this high corn bourbon with added barely, aged for 2 summers, gave a classic caramel sweet bourbon nose & taste together with a little bite. Another perfectly fine example of it’s style which hasn’t gone unnoticed by discerning drinkers as well as whiskey judges by the the amount of awards won.
The Winter Spice Whiskey at 40% had me a little confused. It’s basically the standard bourbon release above infused with a mix of baking spices normally associated with Xmas – cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves along with others – but yet it doesn’t have that sweet honey mix of many a liqueur nor can it be a whiskey with the non conventional additives. There is a market for this type of flavoured whiskey however. I couldn’t say it would be my cup of tea though.
A choice of Chocolate Whiskey or Peated Bourbon was offered for the last sample.
It should be obvious which one I went for.
I found the Peated Bourbon the most interesting and satisfying expression at Kings County Distilling.
At 45% the addition of peated barley from Scotland gave a welcome waft of smoke to the sweet bourbon caramel which raised the resultant spirit to a more entertaining yet vaguely familiar flavour profile.
Of the 3 Brooklyn distilleries I visited, Kings County Distilling seem to be the most established outfit producing a fairly traditional style of bourbon which is gaining many admirers. They also do a cracking distillery tour which certainly engages you with the whole whiskey making process.
I can’t say they set my palate alight – but I do wish them future success – they are a welcome addition to the whiskey distilling world.
One thing is for sure – I eagerly await any future rye expression they intend to produce from the casks I spotted on the maturation floor!
It’s a large 4 story building topped with a clock spire which displayed the same time at the start of my Galway Whiskey Trail Day as at the end.
The premises is situated in the Eastern corner of Eyre Square directly outside the train station which made it a logical choice as the starting pub for my adventure – considering I’d just left the warm seat of the Dublin service for a rather dank and dismal Galway day and was looking forward to my first warming whiskey.
With a little time to spare before the 10.30am opening time I popped into the local Centra for a bottle of water and some Rennie‘s – just in case – then took the plunge.
It did cross my mind that it was a wee bit early to be having a dram – but then I’d been planning this trip for some time – and it was the anniversary of prohibition of alcohol in America – and whiskey is my love – and didn’t Bill Drummond and the crew in KLF used to sing,
“What Time Is Love?”
My plan was to have the first whiskey as an Irish Coffee – made with the brand originally famed by it’s invention – Dunphy’s – but despite there being an extensive array of Midleton expressions – Dunphy’s wasn’t one of them.
Trust me for choosing the missing release in a bar that has over 50 whiskeys on offer!
Slightly thrown by this incident I quickly scanned the heaving display and settled on the unusually named Sheep Dip.
Previously having tasted the equally unusual Pig’s Nose from the Spencerfield Spirit Company I was intrigued to find out what it’s stablemate was made off. The answer was pretty decent stuff indeed! A rich malty blend with a satisfyingly strong taste and long finish. If anything – this surpassed my experience of Pig’s Nose.
Sampling the whiskey allowed me to have a good look round the heavily wooded bar area. There were a few other customers present – even at this early hour. A gentleman in for a drop of the black stuff and a young american couple having breakfast after a day out on the Aran Islands.
At this juncture I’d just like a little time out for the demise of David Bowie.
And hope the young couple enjoyed their stay in Ireland.
Did I mention this Garvey’s was an hotel – complete with accommodation, restaurant and meals? It also explained why I’d seen folks leaving the premises before opening time. As I’d made sure I had a hearty breakfast before I left home I didn’t order the Full Irish the visitors seemed to be enjoying.
Along with the expected food menu there was also a whiskey menu complete with tasting notes. Sadly it exclusively featured releases from Midleton and didn’t included the likes of Tullamore DEW – Bushmills – Teeling – Kilbeggan or Knappogue Castle as well as others – all of which were on the shelves. There were also American Bourbon’s and of course some Scotch – of which Sheep Dip is one.
A handy place to pop into on your way to or from the rail and bus stations which are just across the road. The staff were very warm and friendly to boot.
On 16th January 1920 the 18th amendment came into law bringing about 13 years of drought as prohibition of alcohol started in America.
On 16th January 2016 I loitered outside Garvey’s in Eyre Square, Galway on a cold damp Saturday morning waiting for the doors to open so I could down a warming whiskey as part of my Galway Whiskey Trail tour.
The plan was to have a glass of the uisce beatha in each of the 10 pubs on the trail – with the added bonus of each being a new whiskey for me! This proved to be a relatively easy exercise in terms of new expressions – but more problematic in terms of total alcohol consumption!
There was only one Galway Girl – like Steve Earl – I had eyes for however on that morning,
and it wasn’t Grainne – however much very nice she is. I had my eyes set on some Craic & Divilment – a new fun expression labelled as Buckfast Barrel Finnished Irish Whiskey.
The second pub I entered – An Pucan just round the corner on Forster Street – had just the bottle I was looking for and a dram was duly served in a Glencairn glass to boot!
Now I’m not one for doing a review – but for this I think I’ll make an exception.
The clouds that sweep in off the Atlantic deposit their rain on the Twelve Bens of Connemara. Percolating down through the quartzite rock and bogs the water makes it’s way into magical Lough Corrib before entering the sea in Galway City. Below Persse‘s Old Distillery the River Corrib foams and churns in the narrow rapids.
This is the Colour of Craic & Divilment.
Remnants of heather clinging to the rugged landscape. Salmon swimming in the Corrib. Vanilla from the bourbon casks also brought across the Atlantic. Sweet almost sticky notes from the tonic wine along with the monk’s damp habits from Buckfast Abbey.
This is the Nose of Craic & Divilment.
Rich, smooth, sweet and warming.
A whiskey finished in an additional barrel for extra flavour and taste can be ‘undercooked’ if by not having spent enough time imbuing the aromas in the wood the results are too subtle or weak to be detected.
An ‘overcooked’ finish can unbalance the whiskey drowning out and overwhelming the original spirit character. This is ‘Overkill’ and whilst the sadly departed Lemmy did a marvelous job of it below
Craic & Divilment did not go down this route and instead produced a finely tuned marriage of whiskey and buckfast tonic adding that je ne sais quoi to the dram.
As Dr Spock used to say; ” It’s whiskey Jim, But not as we know it” and he wasn’t referring to Jim Murray either.
This is the Taste of Craic & Divilment.
The long lingering finish allows you to close your eyes to follow the journey the rain makes across the Atlantic – down the Connemara mountains and bogs, into Lough Corrib and out into Galway Bay.
This is the Finish of Craic & Divilment.
But who said anything about finishing? Sure isn’t the bottle only just opened? Grab another chair there and get a few glasses. We’ll have a grand old time getting to know this delightful little beauty. Let’s get it started!