Tag Archives: Scotch

Grappa Riserva, 40%

Popping into a Lidl in Lucca, Italy was a bit of an eye opener.

Apart from being familiar with many of the brands there were also differences.

Smaller bread & cereal displays contrasted with larger cheese & meats. The central isles were still in situ but the costs of the spirits?

Splendido!

The old familiar Queen Margot Scotch – €5.99.

She’s €22.09 in Ireland.

I was also pleased to find at least 4 varieties of Grappa for sale at similar prices.

Too good to resist!

Grappa Riserva made my basket.

Invecchiata Oltre 18 Mesi it says on the label – which translates as aged in wood. Hence the golden hue.

Quite a soft sweet fruity nose with overtones of caramelly wood.

Very easy palate with decent depth.

Entertaining nuttiness & soft tannic spice on the rear with a welcoming warmth.

Even with Grappa Lidl can produce a very attractively priced spirit that’s easy, approachable & enjoyable to consume.

Pity it’s not available in Ireland!

Saluti!

Trentin Grappa shares a business address with Bertagnolli Distilleria here.

My Queen Margot blog here.

The Philosophy Of Whisky, Billy Abbott

I suppose it was wishful thinking expecting some existential answers to questions like ‘Why has whisky captured the human spirit?‘ or ‘ Can drinking whisky sooth a troubled soul?‘.

The Philosophy Of Whisky is however an easy – if brief – entertaining introduction into the growing global reach of distilling, maturing & enjoyment of the brown spirit.

Chapters covering the big 5 producers – Scotland, Ireland, USA, Canada & Japan – along with mentions on Sweden, Taiwan, India, Australia & Mexico to name a few – give a welcome & refreshing world view on this tasty beverage.

The author still appears to elevate Scotch above the others – even when world whisky is winning tasting awards – & fudges facts over the earliest written records for aqua vitae – the forerunner of whisky.

Yet for all that – anyone still restricting their whisky drinking to Scotch is missing out on a world of exciting tastes, flavours & growth.

Excuse me while I pour some Titanic Irish Whiskey!

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All images authors own.

Royal Envy, Exclusive Premium Whisky, 42.8%, India

I wouldn’t mind getting hold of this bottle.

Courtesy winewell.in

A number of things strike me.

Tales of solid smokiness tempt me.

While the name, labelling & general packaging all allude to a superior product- even if it’s a regular Indian made whisky using imported Scotch malt blended with Indian grain.

So much in the whisky world hinges on desirability, exclusivity & limited runs – often to the detriment of what really matters to me – taste.

Courtesy nvgroup.co.in

Royal Envy seems to be the ‘crowning glory’ of that exclusivity bubble – although it might be tainted by a certain royal payment to quieten a paedophilia scandal.

But a smoky Indian whisky is something I’d like to savour.

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The Jacobite, Blended Scotch Whisky, 40%

A random bar in Bournemouth.

A random whisky which resonated.

My home town of Athlone has streets & areas named after participants of The Siege Of Athlone in 1691 where Williamite forces overcame the Jacobites defending the town.

So how did this affordable blend with a rich history taste?

An initial caramel nose develops into an engaging soft smokiness with hints of some depth.

A smooth palate of vanilla, caramel & richer butterscotch.

More of that faint smoke comes through on the finish with a warm hug which raised the bar of this blend enough for me to order another dram.

So who is behind this blend?

Apart from the back story, the bottle label doesn’t give much away – apart from an NN8 1LT postcode which happens to be the HQ for the Bookers Cash & Carry chain.

Wherever Bookers sourced The Jacobite from, it’s an easy accessible blend with an attractive finish – & a long reaching historical name – which connected with me on a number of levels.

Just the kind of whisky I enjoy encountering – randomly.

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All photographs authors own.

The random bar was Drop The Anchor Tap House, Tuckton.

J Walsh, Woodford, Co Galway

Taking advantage of the sunny weather a few of us ventured into the East Clare, East Galway area for a scenic drive & walks by loughs & forests.

Returning via Woodford we spotted a bar offering refreshments & popped in – or rather ‘out’ to comply with COVID rules.

J Walsh c/othewhiskeynut

A busy & friendly atmosphere greeted us in the covered & open dining space at the back of J Walsh’s attractive front bar.

I did have a quick glance at the whiskey shelve for a suitable companion to the tasty light meals we enjoyed.

The usual suspects were on display.

Jameson, Powers & Bushmills representing Ireland.

Black & White, Teachers & Grouse for Scotland.

It struck me Ireland had no representation in the peated blend market.

Rather surprising as Teachers is the biggest selling brand in Ireland for the Beam/Suntory portfolio.

Perhaps the roll out of the new Kilbeggan Black will change that?

Peated Kilbeggan c/othewhiskeynut

As it was Black & White made my glass.

That lovely smokey element adding a touch of excitement & character to this easy & accessible whisky.

Kilbeggan Black had to wait till we got home.

Where we duly finished the bottle off!

A great day out.

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The Macallan, Sherry Oak Cask, 12 Year Old, 40%

I’ve never got round to buying a bottle of Macallan.

I did start off drinking easy sweet sherried whisky.

But since then a liking for punchy rye or smokey peat has grown & I’m not sure if Macallan deliver that style – so I’m not too pushed.

There’s also the hype around the brand.

High prices at auctions, glowing reviews, fantastic new distillery.

I’m always wary of hype – but my curiosity to explore overcame those inhibitions when a miniature sample came my way.

Macallan 12 c/othewhiskeynut

The Macallan 12 Year Old Sherry Cask is billed as a classic – let’s see what all the fuss is about.

Well it’s certainly richly sherried – almost juicy.

Very smooth delivery – a bit too smooth for my tastes.

A tingling of dry spice on the finish wraps up this elegant & easy sipper.

Still not convinced enough to buy a bottle!

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I Enjoy Drinking Whiskey

Whiskey is a distilled alcoholic spirit found all over the world.

I enjoy drinking whiskey.

Whether spelled with or without the ‘e’.

Art Of The Blend #4 c/othewhiskeynut

I enjoy drinking whiskey.

Different countries have a diversity & variety of rules as to what constitutes whiskey.

Royal Stag c/othewhiskeynut

I enjoy drinking whiskey.

The exploration of flavours brought about by the use of raw ingredients – barley, oats, rye & maize – even molasses, rice & sorghum in some places.

Shenk’s Homestead c/othewhiskeynut

I enjoy drinking whiskey.

Single malt, single grain, single pot still, blended, single, double, triple distilled or more.

JJ Corry at McHugh’s c/othewhiskeynut

I enjoy drinking whiskey.

A whiskey produced in one country may not be legally sold as such in another.

Brazilian whisky in an Irish glass. c/othewhiskeynut

I enjoy drinking whiskey.

The original whiskey was unaged, poitín, aqua-vitae, moonshine, uisce beatha & white dog.

White Dog c/othewhiskeynut

I enjoy drinking whiskey.

A whiskey bought in the local Spar in Lagos – which I can afford – excites me as much as one accompanied with a Fabergé egg in Ireland – which I cannot.

Fly like an Eagle! c/othewhiskeynut

I enjoy drinking whiskey.

What kind of whiskey do you enjoy?

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Pressing on the highlighted links will guide you to my reviews of the whiskeys.

Honesty & Transparency in the whiskey world.

Honesty & Transparency are current buzzwords in the whiskey world.

The implication being there are dishonest & cloudy whiskeys out there.

But how does this alter the all important factor – taste?

Having always taken these buzzwords as the latest marketing ploy of whichever brands use them – or whiskey fans extolling the virtues of their choice over another – in choosing to blind taste that ‘honesty & transparency’ is turned on it’s head.

Honest Whiskey Samples c/othewhiskey

What whiskey does your palate enjoy?

It’s no longer about what’s written on the label, the limited edition, attractive bottle or price.

It’s simply 4 vials of whiskey, glassware of choice – and your palate.

So into my Túath glass they went!

Transparency in a glass c/othewhiskeynut

A – Pale straw, grand, vanillas & caramel, tad spirity, nice mouthfeel, sherry influence? long lasting finish, lip smacking, very pleasant & easy.

B – Light brown, fruity, easy mouthfeel, softer, flatter on the finish, OK, nothing spectacular.

C – Light brown, nice ex-bourbon cask nose, richness, nice prickly burn on the finish, higher strength? classic bourbon cask.

D – Light brown, nice ex-bourbon nose, richness, hint of woodiness, mixture of sweetness & oaky influence, long lasting, lovely complexity, a decent dram.

My order of preference for the selection had D winning out closely followed by C. A came next with B trailing last.

But what were they?

Reveal c/o@mjpm67

D – Glen Scotia Victoriana, Cask Strength, Single Malt, 54.2%

C – Tipperary Rioja Finish, Single Cask, Single Malt, 57.35%

A – Whistler Mosaic, Single Grain, 46%

B – MVR 2018, Blend, 40%

Happy tasting! c/othewhiskeynut

What ‘honest & transparent’ results would your palate have chosen?

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The Onward Rise Of Japanese Whisky

Japanese Whisky has seen remarkable growth over the last few years – around 9.4% annually according to some sources – making it one of the fastest expanding categories in the world.

This in itself has sparked further interest – as well as criticism.

Such criticism often took the form of ‘not playing by the rules’ – Scotch rules that is.

But then that’s precisely why I – and many others perhaps – are attracted to Japanese Whisky – it’s not Scotch!

Japanese Whisky c/othewhiskeynut

To begin with are the variety of attractively labelled & intricately designed bottles. Then there’s the blending, distilling & maturation techniques that wouldn’t be allowed under Scotch rules. Not forgetting the most important factor – fabulous taste!

I’ve always been of the view that Japanese Whisky played by different rules – which have worked very well for them – and accepted as given a bottle labelled as Japanese Whisky may not have contained 100% Japanese distillate.

But the wider world is not me – so Japan has now brought in a set of rules.

They’re a rather simple & easy framework stipulating the raw materials, production methods & maturation times used. Most importantly it states Japanese Whisky must be distilled, matured & bottled in Japan to be labelled as such.

Nikka have already indicated brands in their current range compliant with the rules & can therefore be labelled ‘Japanese Whisky’ – as well as those now heretofore ‘Whisky’.

Nikka Days is one such ‘Whisky’.

Whisky c/othewhiskeynut

I found it a lovely simple yet elegantly balanced soft peater.

It’ll be interesting to see how the sales of such offerings will proceed under the new rules – or rather – as I suspect – Nikka will increase capacity to incorporate such brands into the ‘Japanese Whisky’ category.

A taste comparison between the current bottle and that of any future release will be an exciting prospect – but one I think will not yield much discernible difference.

I’ll have a Nikka. c/othewhiskeynut

With 100 years experience I’m sure Japanese distillers are capable of replicating the entertaining tastes & flavours I enjoy.

There is one potential loser in this however.

Scotch.

Scotch Whisky has for years built up a sizeable business supplying bulk whisky to various countries who then use it to augment their own spirits.

It’s a perfectly legitimate business – but one that now appears to be in jeopardy.

Such are the swings & roundabouts of the whisky business.

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Header image courtesy cityam.

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!

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Many thanks to Sean for the samples & images.