Tag Archives: Single Grain

Northern Exposure, An Exploration Of Northern Irish Whiskey – Mainly – Via Blind Tasting.

Northern Irish Whiskey isn’t a separate category – although shifting political structures between Ireland, UK & Europe might influence that.

Presented before me were 5 sample bottles, below are 5 impressions in italics before the reveal & the 5 bottles uncovered.

Bréifne – Hinch Single Pot Still, 43%

Pale straw. Intriguing nice deep nose. Clean, fresh, spicey & sweet. Rye like finish. Nice!

The spice was so intense & lively I could’ve mistaken this for a rye whiskey! Hinch SPS is a sourced product while their own distillate matures. Really enjoyable.

Slemish – Powers Distiller’s Cut, 43.2%

Dark straw. Clean, sweet dark fruits. Shy palate. Nice depth & spice on the finish. Yeah!

Of the 3 Midleton brands, Jameson, Paddy & Powers, Powers has always been my favourite. This blind tasting only appears to confirm this with the latest UK Distiller’s Cut edition.

Iveagh – Kirker & Greer, 10 Year Old Single Grain, 43%

Golden brown. Expressive. Wine cask influence? Warm, inviting. Soft finish. Spice on rear. Interesting.

Kirker & Greer are a Belfast based independent bottling company revitalising an old tradition. An easy going single grain offering.

Donard – Bushmills American Cask Finish, 40%

Dark straw. Mild, mellow & sweet. Smooth easy palate. Touch of spice on rear. Grand.

I’d have to congratulate Bushmills on releasing some new bottles to market & updating their core range labels – even if I found this one rather ‘pedestrian’.

Oriel – Bushmills Caribbean Rum Cask Finish, 40%

Dark straw. Cookie dough. Slightly muddy. Smooth, mellow & soft. Short finish. Not exciting.

Sadly this one just wasn’t for me.

Thoughts

I had an entertaining evening picking out the flavours from this quintet of whiskey.

There was a clear winner – as well as loser – on my palate with the middle 3 being somewhat closer in experience.

In terms of trends my palate appears to favour the spicey side of things – usually non chill filtered & natural colour helps too. Which partly explains the poor showing of Bushmills here.

The tasting also shows no division regarding sourced or distillery product in enjoyment of the whiskey.

The tasting is what it’s all about at Whiskey Nut.

Sláinte

Images courtesy CelticWhiskeyShop, WhiskyExchange, @_PMcDermott & authors own.

Flight Of The Earls, Irish Whiskey, 40% to 63.48%

When Red Earl first appeared with it’s cartoon like imagery it was somewhat overlooked.

c/o TinyTipple

Now available in 4 differing styles. – with varying images too – The Flight of the Earls make for a striking posse of whiskey.

It’s about time I discovered the flavours behind the brand – so ordered up a tasting pack from Tiny Tipple.

Red Earl, 40%

A blend aged in bourbon, sherry & rioja casks.

Warm, inviting & fruity sweet nose. Juicy mouthfeel with a lip smacking finish.

A lovely well balanced flavoursome blend.

c/o KinsaleSpiritCo

Great Earl, 40%

A single grain aged in recharred & virgin oak barrels, finished in Sangiovese casks.

A dry, clean & clear nose. The wine influence makes it’s presence felt on the palate followed by a lovely frisson of oaky spice on the rear.

Nice!

c/o KinsaleSpiritCo

Spanish Earl, 43%

A single malt matured in bourbon casks & finished in rum & stout casks.

Yum yum – a juicy depth to this one! Rich maltiness on the palate with a solid backbone of darker delights. Opens up further on the finish with a spicy prickle, soft hints of roastiness & an engaging dryness.

Red Earl, Cask Strength, 63.48%

A cask strength version of the Red Earl blend.

Despite the high ABV the nose is still inviting – with just a suggestion of high alcohol presence. The triple cask maturation notes roll over each other in a wonderful flourish of flavour – before a drying hit of alcohol kicks in with an explosion of power.

I don’t subscribe to the notion cask strength is automatically superior to 40% – but Red Earl CS wears it well.

Thoughts

The Flight of Earls impressed me.

Full of flavour, full of style & a hearty bunch of characters too.

The pale colour of the quartet also points to a lack of added caramel.

It’s a delight to taste them all back to back to explore both the differences – & similarities – that run through the collection.

It’s hard to pick a winner from this flight of beauties – but for me the ease of drinking, clarity of flavours & enjoyable flair on the finish – I’m giving it to Great Earl.

What would you choose?

Sláinte

Images authors own unless stated.

The Busker Whiskey Range, Blend, 40%, Single Grain, Single Malt & Single Pot Still, 44.3%.

Ever since the split between Walsh Whiskey & Illva Saronno over the direction of produce distilled at Royal Oak Distillery – premiumisation vs mass market in my estimation – I’ve noticed far more glowing coverage of Walsh Whiskey – now a sourced brand – over and above Royal Oak – who are one of only a few Irish Whiskey Distilleries able to distill all 4 styles of Irish Whiskey – Blend, Single Grain, Single Malt & Single Pot Still – under one roof.

The fabulous Royal Oak Distillery c/othewhiskeynut

Normally there’s a ‘hoorah’ over a new distillery’s first offerings – but for Royal Oak it was a mere whimper.

The Busker range is widely available in the US.

For now in Ireland it remains in specialist shops.

I was waiting for it to appear in my local supermarket – but opted for a sampler pack from Dick Mac’s Bar instead.

The Busker samples c/othewhiskeynut

The Busker range is entirely Royal Oak’s own distillate – which I’ve yet to witness on the shelves – and is a marvelous milestone in the growing diversity of Irish Whiskey.

The livery of the bottle is bold, striking & contemporary – a refreshing modern look.

The Busker range is available for the attractive price of €40 for the singles & €30 for the blend.

So how did I find them?

Triple Cask Blend c/oTTB/Colasonline

Triple Cask Blend, 40%

Triple distilled, triple cask – bourbon , sherry & marsala – a blend of Single Grain, Single Malt & Single Pot Still.

Quite a rich & fruity aroma. The sherry influence appears to dominate. Juicy fruitiness on the palate – like wine gums. An enjoyable tingling spice on the finish which gradually dries out.

Lovely complexity at a pleasing price.

Single Grain c/oTTB/Colasonline

Single Grain, 44.3%

Bourbon & Marsala cask matured.

Gentle & subtle. Hints of woodiness. Clean & fresh palate. Dries out on the finish with a frisson of spice.

A characterful & engaging single grain.

Single Malt c/oTTB/Colasonline

Single Malt, 44.3%

Bourbon & Sherry cask matured.

Smooth maltiness. Lovely sweet juicines on the palate. A delightful drying spice on the finish.

Easy & engaging.

Single Pot Still c/oTTB/Colasonline

Single Pot Still, 44.3%

Bourbon & Sherry cask matured.

Captivating sweet spiciness. More of those wine gums. More body & woody depth showing through. Lip smacking finish.

Nice!

Thoughts

There’s a common sherry influenced theme running through all these whiskey. A pleasing sweet juiciness followed by a drying spiciness – but for me the added complexity of the single pot still wins out on the day.

A very welcome addition to the growing diversity of Irish Whiskey.

Sláinte

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?

Sláinte

Hyde Whiskey Selection x 6, Blends, Single Grain & Single Malt, 46%.

I’ve got to hand it to Hyde Whiskey.

Despite the early controversy over labelling – their whiskey has always rated highly with me winning 2 blind tasting categories in the 2017 Irish Whiskey Awards judging sessions I attended.

Perhaps it’s #allaboutthewood – as their slogan goes.

Or could it be the non chill filtration & no added caramel?

The ‘no added caramel’ isn’t actually stated on the labels – but a perusal of whisky.de – where it’s a requirement to say if caramel is added- reveals none.

Whatever the reasons – my palate enjoys Hyde Whiskey & an opportunity to sample 6 of their current range is a delight.

Tasty line-up! c/othewhiskeynut

Many thanks to Hyde Whiskey for providing the samples. My thoughts – as always – are my own.

Rather than going by release numbers or dates – all Hyde Whiskey carry significant years in Douglas Hyde’s history as well as release numbers – I’m following perceived wisdom in tasting Blends, Single Grain & Single Malt.

All are presented at a pleasing 46%.

Blends

1938 c/othewhiskeynut

No 6, 1938, President’s Reserve, Sherry Cask Finish

Honeyed vanilla, smooth & easy, clean finish with lovely prickliness.

Having given this top rating in the 2017 blind judging it was great to encounter this one again. It didn’t disappoint.

1640 c/othewhiskeynut

No 8, 1640, Heritage Cask, Stout Cask Finish

Crisp & clean, lovely mouth coating, flavours develop on a long finish.

A recent newcomer to the range entering the exciting beer cask finished craze. I found it a very engaging offering.

Single Grain

1916 c/othewhiskeynut

No 3, 1916, The Áras Cask, Single Grain

Rich vanillas, lightness yet full on flavour, classic ex-bourbon cask notes.

I’ve always found this one an attractive whiskey. Love the simplicity & cleanliness of the ex-bourbon maturation which 1916 has in spades.

1860 c/othewhiskeynut

No 5, 1860, The Áras Cask, Burgundy Cask Finish

Dark fruits, easy sweet mellowness, almost like fruit pastels on the finish.

I do find wine finished whiskey a tad too sweet for my palate – but they’re a winner for others. This is a good example.

Single Malt

1893 c/othewhiskeynut

No 7, 1893, President’s Cask, Sherry Cask Matured

Rich sweet fruitiness, silky mouthfeel, notes of sweet plums.

Originally released as a 10 year old, now non age statemented, the sweet tooth flavours still come through very well.

1922 c/othewhiskeynut

No 4, 1922, President’s Cask, Rum Cask Finish

Dark fruitiness, heavier appeal, rich juiciness, touch of spice.

Despite being sweet, the rum finish added depth & body which suited my palate. Very nice!

Thoughts

Trying to choose a favourite among this excellent selection is really down to personal preference with such fine whiskeys.

To narrow it down my winners for each category were;

1938 for the blends,

1916 for single grain &

1922 for single malt.

These whiskey are all winners in my book – but for overall appeal, lovely engaging flavours & attractive bite on the finish – I’m giving top spot to 1938!

What is your preference?

Sláinte

A Little- Semi – Blind Tasting

I’ve a small group of whiskey contacts for sample exchanges.

My growing selection of opened spirits bottles – around 70 – is offered in return for something I’ve preferably not had before.

Where possible these samples are requested blind – even if a pre-selection has taken place – hence the semi.

This was the latest selection – A to D.

Blind sampling c/othewhiskeynut

4 samples, 4 identical glasses –Tuath being my receptacle of choice – some water to rinse the palate & a pen & paper to record my findings.

A – Nice & inviting nose, rich, reminds me of sherried influence,unusual & intriguing flavours on the palate,good complexity & depth.

Like this one.

B – Clean & refreshing, sweet & fruity, bit of a punchy heat on the rear.

Cask strength?

C – Anything after a cask strength tends to suffer a little, but this one didn’t sing to me, even on a 2nd tasting.

Perfectly fine but didn’t grab me.

D – Softly smokey, that familiar waft of peat endeared this one to me even if a tad too biscuity sweet malt for my liking.

Easy drinking light smoker.

I tasted the samples without trying to guess what they were. This allowed me to concentrate on the drinking experience without prejudice – as far as possible.

A rudimentary scoring system ranked in order of preference for nose, palate & finish allowed a top score of 4, bottom 12.

First run came out D, A, B then C.

As I found A the most alluring overall I ran through them again – same result.

Only then did I guess what they were – which wasn’t too difficult given the varied styles.

In order of preference;

Peat winner c/obottleowner

D – Old Ballantraun Peated Malt, 50%

Peat wins out – even if not a stunner.

Belgian flavours c/obottleowner

A – Goldly’s Family Reserve, Belgian Single Grain, 40%

Cask strength Kilbeggan c/obottleowner

B – Kilbeggan Single Cask, Cask Strength, 9 Year Old, Distillery pick.

Balvenie c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

C – Balvenie 16 Year Old, Triple Cask, 40%

I must admit to not being too surprised by the reveal. It sort of confirms my palate preferences.

The easy peater won out over and above the intriguing flavours of Goldly’s – which despite being a single grain was most definitely not silent. Cask strength in and of itself is not enough and Speysiders –at least the non-peated variety – don’t do it for me.

How would you have rated them?

Sláinte

The Busker Irish Whiskey, Royal Oak Distillery

The long anticipated release of Irish Whiskey from the Royal Oak Distillery in Co Carlow finally seems to be over.

Bottle & label designs have been approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) in America.

The Busker range appears to consist of a Single Grain, 44.3%.

Busker SG
Single Grain c/oTTB/Colasonline

Single Malt, 44.3%.

Busker SM
Single Malt c/oTTB/Colasonline

Single Pot Still, 44.3%,

Busker SPS
Single Pot Still c/oTTB/Colasonline

and a Blend, 40%.

Busker B
Triple Cask c/oTTB/Colasonline

As yet the only information available is from these labels – which may differ from the actual releases in various regions.

I find the bold design quite refreshingly striking – and can’t wait to have the actual bottle in my hands.

Especially as it will allow me to taste the all important Irish Whiskey inside!

After the parting of waves between Walsh Distillery founders Bernard & Rosemary Walsh and Royal Oak owners Illva Saronno– it appears the division was between a ‘premiumisation’ strategy versus a more mass market approach.

This is played out in the Irish Whiskey community too.

In an expanding & more diverse Irish Whiskey market both strategies are possible.

I’m certainly looking forward to sampling the fruits of Royal Oak’s labours  –  at a hopefully palatable price!

Sláinte

Good Logo

Wild Fields Original, Polish Whisky, 44%

Aaahhhhhhhhhh!

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Damn! c/othewhiskeynut

That’s never happened to me before!

Nor have I had Polish Whisky either – but then this is no ordinary whisky.

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Polish Whisky in a Tuath Glass c/othewhiskeynut

It’s a rye whisky – which I love.

So I was ever so happy a work colleague brought it back after a trip to see the folks.

It’s also non chill filtered, presented at natural colour, is distilled using Polish rye & is matured in Polish oak.

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Back label info c/othewhiskeynut

Touch of unique terroir going on there!

But what of the taste?

Well the nose was a bit earthy – like a mossy wood – with that signature rye spice hiding in the bushes.

The palate started off smoothly.

There’s a hint of gentle fire, sweet vanilla & that green mossiness slowly dries out as the sun shines in with a gloriously rich dry peppery spice building to the finish. Leaving a lovely prickly tingling fading away on a floral bed.

Quite a straightforward rye – with an unusual & unique flavour profile.

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The producer. c/othewhiskeynut

There’s no mention of what was previously in the polish oak barrels – but they’re toasted – & if virgin oak – it would certainly accentuate the warm spiciness I enjoyed.

Very intriguing!

Na zdrowie.

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A Whiskey Flight From Clonakilty Distillery

I recently had the pleasure of revisiting Clonakilty Distillery.

Unlike the building site of my previous visit – Feb 2018 blog here – this time the gleaming copper pot stills were in full working order & the rich smells of distillation were ever present during the highly informative & enjoyable tour.

DSCF4044 email
Before, after at top. c/othewhiskeynut

Clonakilty Minke Gin is already available – but it will be a while for their own whiskey to mature.

In the meantime a varied range of sourced whiskeys – with added maturation & finishing at Clonakilty Distillery’s own warehouses on the Wild Atlantic Way – are available at the distillery shop.

I bought a couple of miniatures – part of their core range – as well as taking away some extra samples – I was driving – to enjoy later.

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Single Grain green, Single Batch blue. c/othewhiskeynut

Clonakilty, Single Grain, Bordeaux Cask, 43.6%

A clean, sweet & delicate fruity little number that lulls you in with gentle flavours before delivering a healthy spirity kick by way of entertainment leaving a soft fruit finish on the rear.

Nice

Clonakilty, Small Batch, Double Oak, 43.6%

Warming, more malt biscuity. There’s a fruity sweetness from the recharred ex-wine casks which give this blend a juiciness followed with a dry prickly spice from the virgin oak casks too.

Very engaging.

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Cognac Cask c/othewhiskeynut

Clonakilty, Cognac Cask, 43,6%

A limited edition at the distillery.

Rich warm dark fruits with a touch of nuttiness to boot. Dries out towards the finish with a pleasant spiciness.

Very enjoyable.

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Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

Clonakilty, Single Malt, Single Cask, Distillery Exclusive, 43.6%

If you ever need an excuse to visit a distillery – the chance to sample an exclusive bottling is always a bonus.

Warming vanilla enticed me in. A gentle rich maltiness tinged with dry tannic spice caressed my palate. A wonderfully balanced & elegant bourbon cask matured malt.

Class.

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Clonakilty tasting flight c/othewhiskeynut

Clonakilty, Single Pot Still New Make, unknown ABV.

A rare treat indeed!

Using the traditional – as in malted & unmalted barley only mash bill – that signature oily & slightly sour new make nose was evident. A clean & fresh feel was enjoyed before the high ABV kicked in leaving a prickly heat with a touch of spice on the finish.

A well crafted spirit for the wood to work it’s magic on.

Interestingly this new make has already won awards.

All bodes well for Clonakilty Distillery.

The stunning signature building, the lovely cafe, the enjoyable tour and the increasing use of barley from their own farm in future distillations yet to come.

Isn’t it about time you called round?

Sláinte

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Kavanagh Irish Whiskey, Single Malt, 40%

My final bottle of Irish Whiskey – from my American market only trio – is Kavanagh Irish Whiskey.

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Kavanagh Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

They release a range of attractively labelled whiskeys. Namely a Blend, a Single Malt, a Single Grain and a 16 Year Old Single Malt – all at 40% ABV – or 80 Proof in America.

This NAS (non age statement) Single Malt made it back to Ireland for me to sample.

The distillery of origin is not stated and Kavanagh seem to be a store brand for Total Wine & More – from where it was purchased.

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Kavanagh’s back! c/othewhiskeynut

The nose was soft & fruity – almost orchard like – with hints of honey.

The palate started off suitably smooth – yet gradually built up with warming vanilla & caramel leaving a welcome soft tingling spice on the finish.

A very easy & approachable single malt. Relatively simple with no great complexity or depth – but for the price point it delivers an enjoyable experience.

I’d happily go on to sample the other Kavanagh Whiskeys based on my findings.

Sláinte

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