Tag Archives: Scotland

Eden Mill, Burns Day 2017, 2 Year Old Spirit, 43%

Well, if your gonna do Burns Night you might as well open something special.

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What’s inside the box? c/othewhiskeynut

This Burns Day 2017 Spirit from the Eden Mill Distillery in Fife, Scotland, was part of a trilogy marking the coming of age of their own distillate.

I picked it up whilst visiting the distillery in Guardbridge a few years ago.

It has a number of things going for it.

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Eden Mill distillate c/othewhiskeynut

The use of different malt varieties –  Crystal & Brown malts have had additional roasting to boost flavour – as well as virgin oak maturation – would suggest this is an eminently quaffable & flavoursome spirit.

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Back label c/othewhiskeynut

In other jurisdictions – America – this is whiskey.  Just as it would have been in Burns day before the advent of age rules.  So I cracked it open to sample the delights within.

First off – the colour.

In keeping with Eden Mill’s ethos, I’m banking this is natural colour from both the toasted malt & virgin oak barrel.

Second off – it’s young, it’s fresh & it’s very engaging!

A lovely strong vanilla from the virgin oak casks comes through with a bit of bourbony toastiness – and a spirity kick.

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In the glass! c/othewhiskeynut

On the palate it starts off smoothly. There’s not much body or depth – but the flavours are clean, fresh & lively!

There’s a slight tannic spiciness on the finish leaving a pleasant prickly tingling.

For a 2yo – there is no new make aroma – this possesses the rudiments of a lovely young malt.

Very enjoyable.

Looking forward to future releases from Eden Mill.

Sláinte

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The Snow Grouse, Blended Grain, 40%

As it’s St Andrew’s Day – a Scotch review is in order.

The UK is on the cusp of change. Brexit raises the possibility of a split with Europe – a big chunk of the whisky market – and Independence for Scotland.

Changes are also occurring in the whisky world. New brands, new countries and new styles are pressurising the pole position enjoyed by Scotch.

That position was achieved back in  the early 1900’s by the adoption of new technology allowing a new style of whisky to rise to the fore – blended whisky.

One brand that has had immense success with that style is Famous Grouse.

The Snow Grouse is one of their newer releases.

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Seriously chilled Snow Grouse c/othewhiskeynut

A blended grain – rarely encountered – much like the proud bird on the attractive label – a Ptarmigan.

This species of Grouse inhabits the higher & often snow covered ground of the Scottish Mountains.

The clever marketing suggests ‘freezing’ the whisky – much like the birds habitat – which goes against the – ahem – grain of allowing the whisky to sit at room temperature to enjoy the aromas.

So I did.

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Deep frozen. c/othewhiskeynut

Bad move.

The nose was decidedly silent – apart from a healthy dose of added caramel.

Ice cool on the palate – unnaturally sweet – oily & viscous on the mouth.

No warmth here for me.

I enjoy the marketing and the added theatrics of freezing – but the overall experience just leaves me cold.

Any soft or delicate notes exhibited by the grain have been frozen out & drowned by added caramel.

At room temperature it was far more palatable.

Slàinte

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OVD Rum, 40%

In almost every bar, hotel, licenced restaraunt & off-license I went to in Scotland last summer OVD Rum was there.

It’s as ubiquitous as Haggis or Irn-Bru.

First blended & bottled in Dundee back in 1838 using rum distilled in Guyana – OVD stands for Old Vatted Demerara.

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Image c/o@OVDDarkRumtwitter

Demerara Rum is a style displaying sweet & funky qualities – not too heavy nor too light – generally classified as a dark rum.

Interestingly wooden pot stills are used to this day in Guyana to distill rum – creating a link to the past in the present day.

I ordered a glass.

Dark rum indeed!

Definitely sweet – too caramelly sweet for my liking – but with an underlying soft funkiness.

The palate started off silky smooth.

Only on the back end did an earthy, vegetal funkiness peck through the overpowering caramel to give a bit of character & complexity.

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Image c/oebay

An easy drinking accessible sweet rum which obviously has the Scottish market covered.

Sláinte

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Header image courtesy of whiskyexchange.

Eden Mill, Oak Aged Beer, Whisky Barrel, 6.7%

On my last visit to Eden Mill – which is a combined Brewery & Distillery operation on the banks of the Eden River in Guardbridge, Scotland – the opener for the distillery tour was a bottle of their fine Whisky Barrel Aged Beer.

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Whisky Barrel Aged Beer c/othewhiskeynut

It certainly loosened up the tongues of the mixed bag of visitors on the day – and was a novel way to introduce the rich variety of drinks including beers, gins & whiskies made at the facility.

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Art Of The Blend series c/othewhiskeynut

Bottled at 6.7% the dark beer delivered a gentle aroma of malt. The carbonation wasn’t too strong – more in the style of a traditional Scottish Heavy Ale – with a great outpouring of flavour comprising of caramel, burnt molasses, a hint of dark chocolate & coffee too.

There is also a limited edition Bourbon Barrel offering – slightly sweeter & heavier if possible – with a younger 68 day age statement as opposed to the 93 of the Whisky Barrel Beer.

Whatever your poison – Eden Mill have a drink to satisfy.

These Oak Aged Beers satisfied me.

Sláinte

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Dream To Dram, Single Malt, 46% at Dreel Tavern, Anstruther.

The Dreel Tavern is an attractive stone built gastropub sitting above the Dreel Burn that flows into the Firth Of Forth at the endearing ‘stepping stones’ area of Anstruther.

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Only suitable to cross at low tide! c/othewhiskeynut

Popping in for a drink I spotted the local Fife based Kingsbarns Distillery‘s first release – Dream To Dram – and was keen to taste this Lowland Malt.

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Kingsbarns Dream To Dram c/othewhiskeynut

The nose was rather muted. Fresh soft subtle vanilla going on.

The palate started off gently too – before an exuberant spirity kick punched in.

Definitely youthful – perhaps too much so!

I’d have preferred a few more years in the cask.

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Dream To Dram label c/othewhiskeynut

There is pressure on new distilleries to show off their wares – and I commend Kingsbarns for releasing this fresh malt.

At the very least it allows fans the opportunity to try out the new spirit & see how it compares with future more aged releases.

I’m putting it in my ‘Work in Progress’ file.

Sláinte

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SMWS 35.194, A Composition In Wood, 16 Year Old Single Malt

There’s an old saying,

‘You don’t want to start from here.’

And when it came to this Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) bottling – it was probably true.

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The words were better than the content. c/othewhiskeynut

Even at 59.8% the nose was rather soft & sweet. It didn’t give much away.

The palate was more forthcoming.

Vanilla & caramel from the bourbon cask maturation with darker sweeter notes which dried out pleasingly from the Oloroso influence.

Standard Speyside stuff.

The promise of oaky tannins from the wood never developed to the extent I expected given the name – and ultimately I was left rather disappointed.

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SMWS back label c/othewhiskeynut

Given Speyside Malts aren’t my favourite flavour profile – the best excitement I gained from this bottle was my own eager anticipation prior to the tasting.

The eloquent writing on the label proved far more attractive than the actual contents.

I shouldn’t have started my exploration of SMWS from here.

Sláinte

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sir Edward’s Smoky, Blend, 40%

Sir Edward has spent so much time in his adopted French estate he has imbued a rich dark mahogany colour.

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Sir Edward’s Smoky c/othewhiskeynut

The heavy sweet caramel overtones suggest it is not natural.

Sir Edward also seems to have given up the cigars – or perhaps even the Gauloises – as despite saying Smoky on the attractively designed label – I could only pick out the merest hint of peat to give some character to this otherwise inoffensively smooth yet basically bland blended offering.

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Peat so light it’s hard to find. c/othewhiskeynut

I was slightly disappointed – but at only €12 for a 1 litre bottle – and a very well presented bottle at that – the fact Sir Edward is actually pleasantly palatable is probably a plus.

Sláinte.

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Innis & Gunn, Oak Aged Beer, Rum Finish, 6.8%

Suitably dark.

Suitably brown.

Suitably heavy.

The rich flavoursome nose promises delight.

The taste delivers.

A great heavy ale with a touch of sweetness from the rum casks.

What else do you expect from Innis & Gunn?

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Oak aged 57 days c/othewhiskeynut

Barrel aged for 57 days.

Unlike whiskey.

The maturation is short.

But the boosted flavour results are similar.

Slàinte.

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GlenDronach Peated, Single Malt, 46%

I’ll be heading over to Scotland soon – hopefully after the snow has gone.

On my travels I usually pop into some local bars & whisky stores for bit of liquid sustenance and interesting bottles to bring home. If travelling by air that generally means miniatures.

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Taste Of Scotland c/othewhiskeynut

The Taste Of Scotland in St Andrews caught my eye – so in I went.

As well as having a good array of local craft beers, gins, wines & chocolates – they also do whisky – mostly Scotch. (I should add the wines are definitely from further afield.)

Not having tried any GlenDronach before – I was intrigued by their peated expression.

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Peat! c/othewhiskeynut

Now GlenDronach are usually associated with sherry bombs – which many hold in high regard – but that reminds me of putting ketchup on your chips. I’m more of a brown sauce man myself – more spice, more bite & to my tastes at least, more flavour. So the peated bottle made it into my carry-on flight bag.

GlenDronach Peated is presented at 46%, non chill filtered and no added colouring, which is always a bonus. It’s still finished in sherry casks like it’s stablemates – peated malt being the difference.

The peat was actually quite muted on the nose. The sherried notes still came through – though with a bit of a spirity kick. Perhaps being a non aged statement there were some young malts involved.

The taste was quite crisp & clear – perhaps a little sharp – with more of that lovely soft smoky peat fire quietly mingling with those sweet fruity sherry elements. Rather than competing with each other – they came across balanced & co-ordinated.

A lovely dry mouth feel – I find characteristic of PX or Oloroso cask finishes – slowly faded at the end.

Not bad.

Pretty decent.

Just lacking that something special to make it stand out from the crowd.

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