Tag Archives: Terroir

Renegade Rum, Dunfermline Column Still & Pot Still Pre Cask Rums, 50%

Mark Reynier has made a big play of terroir in the whiskey trade with his Waterford Distillery.

Renegade Distillery in Grenada shaping up to do the same with rum.

I did purchase one of his whiskies.

Waterford Bannow 1.2 c/othewhiskeynut

Can’t say all the transparency, honesty & information won me over.

All I tasted was quite a young, feisty & very fresh whiskey that needed more time in the barrel.

Haven’t bought another.

I am curious enough however to try out a couple of his rums – the Dunfermline Column & Pot Still varieties.

Renegade use the term ‘pre cask’ – but essentially it’s unaged or white rum in normal parlance.

Unaged rum is a category I really enjoy.

The combination of raw ingredients, fermentation times & distilling techniques can produce exceedingly aromatic & richly tasting spirits that can captivate the senses.

My expectation is the Pot Still variety will be the more flavourful version – but it all depends on the skill of the distiller – so complying with custom I start with the Column Still.

Image courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop

Renegade Rum Dunfermline Column Still, Pre-Cask, 50%

A lovely sweet pungency of sugar cane with a touch of sourness peeking through.

Smooth mouthfeel slowly grows in heat with more fruitiness coming through – but not much else.

Fades rather quickly with a serving of prickliness rounding off the show.

Image courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop

Renegade Rum Dunfermline Pot Still, Pre-Cask, 50%

There’s an ever so slightly warmer embrace of pungent fruitiness from the pot still.

Definitely an oiliness on the palate of this one!

It’s just an overall fuller & fatter tasting experience for me & leaves with a warmer – even rounder – embrace.

Thoughts

I think Mr Reynier is onto a roll with his distilleries.

Attracting a loyal gathering of fans to snap up his offerings & extoll the virtues of terroir to all & sundry.

No doubt he’ll convince some whiskey drinkers into rum imbibing – which is no bad thing.

Both of these rums are enjoyable & engaging to sip, sample & explore the differences between column & pot still distillation & what they bring to the palate.

I’m just not convinced a single estate, pre-cask single variety trumps a well blended offering from multiple countries, columns & pots, sugar cane & molasses that can be produced time & again at an affordable price.

The art of blending is something Mr Reynier has written out of his agenda.

Sláinte

Waterford Distillery website here.

Renegade Rum website here.

My blog on Waterford Whiskey here.

The samples were purchased via Tiny Tipple here.

Armorik Classic, Single Malt, 46% in An Púcán, Galway

Herself was going to a play at the fabulous Galway International Arts Festival then on to meet mutual friends for a meal – so I tagged along.

Not being a thespian buff I thought I’d visit Mars – a sculpture on show at the former Persse Distillery – only to discover it had moved!

Ah well – time for a drink.

An Púcán provided the refreshments & as I scanned their extensive whiskey list for something I’d not tried before – Armorik Classic Single Malt fitted the bill.

It took sometime to locate the bottle as it was on show in one of the numerous display cabinets around the bar – but it did arrive.

The bottle read ‘non chill filtered, 46%‘ which is a good start. ‘caramel added’ is stated on the back – although according to Warenghem Distilley’s website they have since moved to ‘natural colour’ for their offerings.

The nose proved clean, fresh & inviting with hits of old leather.

Decent body, smooth mouthfeel displaying notes on the savoury, umami spectrum.

Finishes with a frisson of spice.

Armorik Classic comes over as a grounded whiskey showing it’s earthy agricultural roots – perhaps even a smidgen of terroir using French barley?

Very nice indeed.

Sláinte

Warenghem Distillery website here.

An Púcán website here.

Mars sculpture at Galway International Arts Festival here.

Persse Distillery info here.

A Flight Of 4 French Whiskies, Rozelieures Origine, Rare, Tourbé & Fumé, Single Malts, 40% to 46%

Continuing my exploration of the whisky world are these 4 single malts from grain to glass French Whisky distillery Rozelieures.

I sampled them before looking up anything on the web – it helps to eliminate any undue bias – & found them mainly on the light & easy side of the flavour spectrum.

Origine Single Malt 40%

Distilled from grain grown on the Rozelieures farm places this whisky in a select club of producers claiming terroir credentials.

Origine didn’t particularly shine for me however.

The flavours were soft, muted & mild – a touch of honeyed malt, hints of rustique agriculture, an easy going palate with an appreciative bite on the finish displaying woody spices & sweet vanilla.

Grand.

Rare Single Malt 40%

A fresher & cleaner style of malt.

Easy & smooth – almost to the point of being laidback – trés tranquille – perhaps deliberately so.

I’ve been told by distillers exporting into France the market shys away from bold flavours – so Rare is probably playing up to that.

Tourbé Single Malt 46%

Tourbé means peaty – yet I had a hard job picking this up from the very light straw coloured whisky.

There was a gorgeously dry & tingly spiciness on the finish however with subtle hints of smoke.

A 2nd tasting drew out more & Tourbé proved to be an enticing soft smoker.

Fumé Single Malt 46%

A more ‘traditional’ style of smokiness was evident with Fumé.

Old leather & cigar smoke on the nose.

The mild & easy palate gave way to a delightful crescendo of smokiness which dried out leaving a tingling spice finish.

Nice!

Thoughts

French whisky is growing fast.

A Federation has been formed to further the category of which Rozelieures – with their engaging & entertaining single malts – is part of.

Being a fan of bigger, badder & bolder flavours Fumé was the one for me – but I did find the subtlety of Tourbé enticing.

Perhaps with the opening up of travel restrictions after COVID a distillery tour trip of French Distilleries is in order!

Santé

Bottle images courtesy Whisky Rozelieures.

Abasolo, El Whisky De Mexico, 43%

It seems Pernod Ricard are on a spending spree.

Hot on the heels of their Whisky Exchange purchase a stake in Mexican Whisky Abasolo is also gracing the enlarged portfolio.

Whether this will increase the diversity of drinks into the Irish market is yet to play out. Abasolo is not currently available in Ireland – so I picked this one up on a UK visit.

Made with 100% Mexican ancestral corn using historical techniques to boost the flavour – Abasolo piqued my interest from the very start.

The nose exudes a rich, sweet & enticing aroma of toasted corn.

An earthy wholesomeness with added savoury notes peeking through on the palate.

All wrapped up by a pleasing spiciness giving a warm feeling of cosy roastiness slowly fading away.

It’s not very often a whisky just grabs me but –

Abasolo was ‘abasolutely’ fabulous!

Sláinte

All photos authors own.

Stork Club Straight Rye, 45%, Germany, v’s Balcones Rye, 50%, Texas

Some blogs sink without trace – while others gather a bit of traction.

There’s little advance knowledge as to what will – or won’t – capture attention beforehand & it’s often the unexpected that gets results.

Old Grand-Dad was one of them.

Living up to it’s ‘cult’ status a fellow whiskey fan expressed interest in sample swaps.

As I’m sitting on close to 100 opened bottles that will damage my health if I drank the lot – I’m still damaging my wallet by eagerly seeking the next flavour adventure.

My cupboard is always open for exchanges so Old Grand-Dad went one way & a couple of ryes came mine.

2 rye c/othewhiskeynut

I was very pleasantly surprised by the package!

c/oStork Club Distillery

Stork Club Straight Rye, 45%, Germany

My previous encounter with this distillery was back in 2015 when I came across their rather enticingly labelled Sloupisti Single Malt.

Sloupisti Single Malt c/o deutsche-whiskys.de

Sloupisti has undergone both an ownership & rebranding exercise since – resulting in the Stork Club Rye before me.

The nose exuded an earthy, almost farmhouse style of rye.

A very grounded feel to the palate. Rich & vegetal, powerful yet smooth.

A signature dry rye spice finished of proceedings – undoubtedly boosted by the 45% ABV.

Stork Rye c/othewhiskeynut

Using German grown rye & partially aged in German Oak has brought out a rather unique taste of locality & place.

Very enjoyable.

c/oBalcones

Balcones Rye, 50%, Texas

Balcones also briefly entered my sphere with an entertaining sample of their Single Malt Whiskey.

c/oBalcones

This Texas Rye initially offers up a more traditional nose of sweet vanilla & dark caramels.

A rich earthiness – not normally found in US rye – began to make it’s presence felt in a very attractive & enticing way.

For 50% I found Balcones Rye to be full of flavour with a rich warm spiciness on the finish wrapped up with a hint of tobacco too!

Dry yet lip smacking all at the same time.

Using Texas grown rye – along with crystal, chocolate & toasted rye in the mashbill – a melange of unexpected & highly engaging flavours were experienced.

Balcones Rye c/othewhiskeynut

Thoughts

Both these ryes are a delight.

Using mashbills & ingredients not normally encountered elsewhere the range of flavours are boosted adding a richness of depth & complexity I found very alluring.

Both push the rye category forward in new & exciting ways.

Suits me!

Sláinte

Waterford, Ballykilcavan 1.2, 50%, Single Malt

The thing about terroir is you have to try at least 2 bottles made the same way with the only variable being where the barley was grown.

This posed a little problem.

Feeling like an eegit for forking out 70 yo-yos for a bottle of young malt – gotta admire the marketing capabilities of Waterford Distillery – I’d no intentions of buying another.

Ballykilcavan 1.2 c/othewhiskeynut

Step forward a fellow whiskey fan who had the alternative offering!

An exchange was duly arranged – as an aside, if you want to swap samples from my 60+ list of opened bottles, drop me a message.

Then I learned of another problem.

Bannow Island & Ballykilcavan are aged in different cask!

I checked the codes!

Up Laois! c/othewhiskeynut

Both had ex-bourbon & French casks – but only Bannow had virgin oak – which may account for the extreme dryness I experienced.

Kind of negates the whole terroir experiment – which is a big part of the sell!

Ah well – I got my chance to sample Ballykilcavan.

Is it any different?

In a word – yes!

The absence of virgin oak allows more of those rich & juicy notes from the French oak & ex-bourbon casks to come through.

It’s a more balanced & accessible malt with some of that aggressive youth tempered.

I’d still say it’s a work in progress however.

At the moment, Ballykilcavan would be my favourite, but how they develop in the next few years could all change with those cask influences working off that youthful exuberance & raw edges.

As for the terroir?

That will have to wait for another day.

Sláinte

Waterford, Bannow Island 1.2, 50%, Single Malt

Well I’ve finally given in to the hype.

Much has been written about Waterford Distillery.

Early on I decided not to bother with the auctions, inflated prices & general Hoorah! around this brand – until it arrived in my local O’Brien’s – which it did – tonite.

Waterford Bannow 1.2 c/othewhiskeynut

There were 2 bottles, Ballykilcavan & Bannow Island, 1.2 editions.

I chose Bannow.

Tales of Norman invaders, soil content & provenance don’t particularly excite me – taste does. So I didn’t bother looking up the minutiae & poured myself a glass.

Norman tales c/othewhiskeynut

Golden brown colour with thick legs.

Quite a soft, subtle sweet malt biscuity nose.

Smooth & dry on the palate.

The dryness develops a bit of a fresh young malt bite – then fades rather quickly.

This is quite a young & aggressive malt.

Style over substance? c/othewhiskeynut

For me Bannow 1.2 is more about the hype than content.

It needs a few more years in the barrel.

Sláinte

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 Pair of WhistlePigs For 4th July, 50% & 43%, Rye

I received this lovely looking duo of ryes courtesy of Axiom Brands – many thanks.

Being a self confessed rye head WhistlePig loomed large yet had always eluded me.

Now was my chance to try them out.

First the controversy.

To begin with WhistlePig didn’t distill their own rye. They bought a load of Canadian Rye destined to be used in blending, shipped it across the border & finished it to WhistlePig’s own requirements at their Vermont Farm.

Having built up a bit of a following & brand recognition they latterly distill their own rye made from grain grown on the farm, aged in oak trees from Vermont & cut with water from the farm well.

Some folks have a problem with this.

I don’t.

To me it makes sound business sense being able to sell sourced product before your own matures. It also allows experimentation & a growing knowledge in handling the spirit in advance of committing even more money into building a distillery.

But what really interests me is how it tastes.

So let’s go!

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WhistlePig Straight Rye 10yo c/othewhiskeynut

WhistlePig 10 Year Old, Straight Rye, 50%

Very marginally paler than the 12yo.

Classic peppery rye spice on the nose yet balanced & nuanced with the decade in oak.

A powerful rye hit on tasting. The balance has gone as rye spices shine through with added tannins in the mix leading to a long lasting dry finish.

A no nonsense take no prisoners brute of a rye.

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WhistlePig Old World Rye 12yo c/othewhiskeynut

WhistlePig 12 Year Old, Old World Rye, 43%

Can I detect a slightly darker hue to this one?

The rye spices have taken on a more rounded, almost perfumed nose. Makes me want to jump in!

Softer on the palate, even creamy to begin with, before it reminds you this is a rye with that classic dry peppery spice slowly growing in intensity.

A more balanced & complex rye that benefits from it’s ageing in Madeira, Sauternes & Port Casks.

Preferred Rye?

The ‘in yer face’ honesty of the 10 or the complexity of the 12?

Both have their good points – but on balance – the Old World 12 piques my interest the most.

The novel triple cask approach adds depth & variety to the classic rye canon.

I look forward to tasting more from WhistlePig.

Sláinte

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Ben Bracken Islay Single Malt, 40%

It’s been well over a year since I first went out to purchase this whisky.

The idea of a budget supermarket branded single malt appealed to me. I had to find out for myself what it tasted like.

Inadvertently I walked into the wrong German supermarket store and came out with Aldi’s Glen Marnoch instead.

Now in this segment of the market you have to accept chill filtering & added caramel. There is no provenance – nor terroir. There isn’t even a Glen Marnoch or Ben Bracken distillery – let alone an actual physical Ben or Glen of the same name to visit. You get what you pay for – entry level single malt.

The Glen Marnoch Islay was fine – a decent hit of peat over a rather hefty dose of  caramel.

I’d actually stopped looking for Ben Bracken.

It’s reach didn’t seem to make it across the Irish Sea – and there were far more entertaining bottles to bring back from the UK.

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Ben Bracken Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

But when it appeared in my local Lidl store in Athlone – I couldn’t really give it a miss. If only to show no favouritism towards either store.

To kick off with there’s that dark ruby mahogany shade of added caramel – but on nosing – a refreshingly clean & clear smack of peat smoke greeted me.

I found it very inviting.

The initial taste was rather soft, watery & almost insipid – but then a big waft of peat just blows in and makes it sort of alright!

My peat baby is coming back to me!

The experience left a softly drying ashiness. Like a warm & cosy seaside fire rolling around on my palate.

I’d rate this higher than Glen Marnoch.

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I get peat! c/othewhiskeynut

The caramel quota isn’t as pronounced – which allows a more powerful & peaty punch to shine through.

There isn’t much else.

It’s rather one dimensional.

But if like me you enjoy a smack of smoke in your glass.

At 25 euro.

I doubt you’d find a more enjoyable peatiness.

Sláinte

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