Tag Archives: Whiskey

Cognac Park Borderies, 10 Year Old Mizunara Cask, Single Cru Cognac, 44%

Mizunara – or Japanese Oak – is all the rage right now.

A growing number of whiskey companies are choosing to finish their precious liquid in this exotic, rare & difficult to work with wood.

Why?

To extract some of the fabulous flavours from the wood & enhance the drinking experience.

Other spirits categories are likely to follow & on spotting this Cognac Park Mizunara Cask – I had to try it!

Golden brown in colour, there’s subtle aromas of light sandalwood contrasting with the dark fruitiness expected from an aged cognac.

The light & fresh appeal carries through on tasting – definitely an alternative experience to some heavier cognacs.

The finish excites with a prickly heat, tannic spiciness & sweet fruits.

An impressive & welcome innovative experiment into Mizunara finishing in the cognac world.

Sláinte

For further reading on Mizunara see webpage here.

Cognac Park website here.

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VodQuila, WhisQuila, RumQuila – An Exploration of Blending.

Red Eye Louie’s brand of blended spirits caught my eye.

They do a line of Vodquila, Whisquila & Rumquila which had me tempted.

Unlikely to appear in Ireland – I decided to make my own.

Rather than blending from the same spirit category – Red Eye Louie’s mix up the spirits creating something new & exciting. Not knowing the percentages used nor the original spirit donors – I simply went with what I had & settled on a 1 third to 2 thirds mix weighted towards tequila.

My donor bottles were;

Tequila Azteca, 38%

Absolut Vodka, 40%

O’Neill’s Irish Whiskey, 40%

Ron Pelicano Jamaican Rum, 40%

Pressing on the coloured highlights will take you to my original blogs on the liquids.

VodQuila

Not sure what to expect here – or if the spirits will ‘marry’ together – but no venture no gain!

Well the pungent agave nose survives! Shouldn’t have been too surprised. Vodka after all is a neutral spirit suitable for mixing. An oily mouthfeel, more agave notes warming to a pleasant peppery finish.

Could have easily confused this for an actual tequila!

I had to re-check with Azteca to get a comparison. If anything the agave notes were more pronounced with the original – but the vodka had provided a boost to the body of the mix.

I’ll take the Azteca nose, VodQuila body & Azteca finish with this one!

WhisQuila

This might be more of a challenge!

Both whiskey & tequila have distinctive characteristics – will they gel together?

In a word – yes!

The agave still came through – but with added vanilla, caramel & a touch of oak. All contributions from barrel ageing. The peppery spice still provided a flourish on the finish.

This blend strayed into reposado style tequila.

I must say I found it very entertaining!

RumQuila

The final push!

How will a funky Jamaican get on with a tasty Mexican?

It’s the funk that plays the nose on this one!

The fruitiness is somewhat subdued by an almost savoury agaviness on the palate & then it all comes alive on the finish. The funk just got peppered!

That’s a new experience for me!

Thoughts

I must say I’ve been mightily impressed with the results!

All 3 blends gave additional body, flavours and/or joie de vivre to the individual components – making for an entertaining & highly enjoyable tasting extravaganza!

I think Red Eye Louise’s are onto something with their pre-mixed drinks – but there’s nothing to stop yourself from experimenting at home.

I’m certainly glad I did!

Sláinte

Red Eye Louie’s website here.

Everybody Hertz, Richard Mainwaring.

I’m reading this book on frequencies.

The amusing title drew me in & has opened up the amazing world waves – be they sound, light or even taste! – have on our everyday lives.

It all boils down to vibrations – more specifically the frequencies they operate at – & the ‘good vibes’ they give us.

Chemical Brothers Life Is Sweet

I never thought of taste – as in smells – having a vibration, but it turns out there’s a row going on in the olfactory world about how we perceive smell.

One tribe – the Chemical Group – posit smells are unlocked by the shape of the odour molecule fitting specific receptors – as pertinent to whiskey tasting.

The other – Vibration Group – posit all molecules vibrate & it’s this the receptors pick up on.

I like the sound of the Vibration Group myself.

Often when talking about whiskey we experience ‘notes’. Turns out those ‘notes’ might have far more in common with music than we imagined!

Music can be experienced both physically & emotionally as a result of the vibrations – or frequencies – made by those performing the piece or hearing it through speakers.

Whiskey – it seems- can also be experienced in a similar fashion.

All of this only reinforces my belief that whiskey tasting is an intensely personal experience. What one person ‘gets’ from a whiskey might be an entirely different experience to anothers.

When in Italy recently I didn’t join the rest of my group listening to opera as it simply doesn’t connect with me. Similarly they didn’t join me in the delights of grappa. Yet we all enjoyed a beer listening to jazz in the outdoors!

So when you do find a piece of music – or whiskey – that moves you – you’ll know.

It’s the ‘good vibrations’ – and don’t let anyone put you off your vibes!

Sláinte

Scientific article on the Theory Of Smell here.

Langs Banana Jamaican Rum, 37.5%

The rum world appears to be far more willing to embrace new flavours, styles & experimentation than that of whiskey.

Langs Banana Jamaican Rum is one of many flavoured rums to have hit the market lately – and it’s a growing market too!

Langs Rum is part of the diverse range of drinks offered by the Ian MacLeod Distillers empire.

The nose was very sweet & well – banana-y!

The sweetness followed through into a smooth & oily mouthfeel with the banana being complimented by hints of Jamaican funk & a welcome soft tingling spice on the rear.

Makes for a very easy & highly entertaining tipple.

Sláinte

Langs Rum website here.

Spirits Business report on Rum sales outselling Whisky here.

Ian MacLeod Distillers website here.

Tesco Napoleon Brandy, 3 Years Old, 36%

Why did I buy Tesco Napoleon Brandy?

A number of reasons.

To begin with it was there, on the shelf, in my local store, and in a 350ml bottle too, making it both accessible & affordable – increasingly important factors in the current economic climate.

Further, my St Remy VSOP Brandy, initially purchased for an WSET course back in 2019, was nearing it’s end. I found the brandy world shared – like whiskey – a set of rules & regulations governing it’s production – as well as a long history – plus barrel ageing too & I enjoyed the drinking experience, encouraging me to explore more.

Tesco Napoleon appeared a shade darker than my St Remy, suggestive of extra caramel, a permissible added ingredient for the category – just like whiskey.

Quite a shy nose – not very aromatic for me – soft sweet winey elements are all I got.

Smooth, soft mouthfeel, easy on the palate.

Dark notes of burnt caramel & a tingling warmth surfaced on the finish giving Tesco Napoleon a bit of a lift.

Lacked any hints of oakiness I enjoyed with St Remy.

After sampling Tesco Napoleon I read the label – Mellow And Smooth Taste – it says.

A very accurate appraisal of what I found.

Sláinte

Read my study method for the WSET exam here.

For an interesting read on ingredients in brandy see cognacreverie.com blog here.

WSET website here.

St Remy VSOP review here.

Corazón Anejo Tequila, 40%

I have a decision to make when reaching for Tequila.

Do I choose the influence of the raw materials used in production or the influence of wood in the maturation of that product?

Blue Agave is the raw material – 100% in this Corazón Tequila – but there are a few different production methods that can effect the taste – earthen pits vs brick ovens vs autoclave to cook the agave being some.

I didn’t check which method Corazón used before drinking & have yet to do a back to back taste test of all 3 methods to discern any resultant differences.

However I have done a back to back tasting of Blanco Tequila – unaged – vs Reposado – aged between 2 & 11 months – vs Anejo – aged for more than 1 year – and it does make a noticeable taste variation.

With Blanco it’s all about the agave. The rich earthy notes I love complimented by a spicy pepperiness on the finish usually topped off by an oily mouthfeel.

With Anejo those agave notes are somewhat diminished by the influence of wood. Oaky tannins, vanillas & caramel all make an appearance resulting in a softer more rounded drinking experience.

I begin to encounter flavours associated with aged whiskey – where it’s all about the wood – & therefore generally prefer Blanco.

That’s not to say Corazón Anejo isn’t a fine Tequila – it is.

Smooth & silky, those agave notes are blended expertly with warm woodiness building engaging flavours – but for an alternative to my usual whiskey tipple – Blanco is the way to go.

What’s your preference in a Tequila?

Sláinte

For an article on Tequila production methods read here.

Corazón Tequila website here.

For Tequila ageing categories read here.

Whiskey & Philosophy, Editors Fritz Allhoff & Marcus P Adams

Wow!

I’ve never read a whiskey book like this before.

Authors from differing disciplines were invited to submit essays on varying aspects relating to whiskey.

The results are highly entertaining, thought provoking and at times – challenging.

Can you apply Hegelian thought, Aristotle virtue, the philosophy of Dualism, Buddhism or plain old group think & social cohesion to tasting a whiskey?

It’s all in the mix of this publication.

Why do you like one whiskey over another?

Is taste malleable?

Does knowing the master blender, visiting the distillery, being part of the clan, liking the manufacturing techniques, agreeing with the sustainable policies, bottle design, price point all alter our experience of drinking whiskey?

I certainly have my views of the above – and they’ve been further enlightened by the discourse within the pages of this book.

Whiskey & Philosophy is a bold publication full of complexity & rich depth. The diverse elements combine elegantly giving creative excitement to this blended entity.

Highly recommended!

Sláinte

The Bootlegger by Clive Cussler & Justin Scott

Despite being a 2014 publication this rip roaring action packed story set in 1920’s prohibition times of rum running reads like a 1930’s boys own story.

The clean cut hero thwarts a Bolshevik takeover of the US with the help of his trusted friends.

There’s a little background into the dark underworld prohibition spawned with mentions of Haig & Haig, The Real McCoy, Canadian Club & Bushmills too.

Could easily be the plot for a classic style of B Movie.

Sláinte

Book image courtesy fruugo.ie

Nardini Grappa Bianca, 50%

I do love exploring other spirit categories.

They give variety, a different suite of flavours & a contrast to the whiskey I normally consume.

With whiskey – it’s all about the wood – to borrow a popular tagline.

With the trio of clear spirits represented by rum, tequila & grappa it’s more about the interplay of the raw ingredients & distillation process used to bring about a richness of taste in the unaged spirit.

Courtesy CelticWhiskeyShop

Clear spirit does not mean silent spirit – as this lovely Nardini Grappa Bianca demonstrates.

Nardini are one of the oldest & largest grappa distilleries in Italy where the leftovers from wine production – pomace – is distilled in a combination of copper stills to produce this rich & pungent spirit.

An earthy sweetness greeted me on the nose.

Smooth, oily mouthfeel with a rich, almost agricultural style of flavour going on.

Slight prickly spice on the rear.

I didn’t guess this was presented at 50%.

Yeah – Grappa grabs me!

Nice one Nardini.

Salute

St Rémy VSOP, French Brandy, 40%

Doing the Wine & Spirit Education Trust – WSET – Level 2 Spirits Course a few years ago opened my palate to spirit categories I hadn’t appreciated before.

Brandy being one of them.

This St Rémy bottle is a leftover from that course.

You have to taste a variety of spirits to pick out the characteristics of each category.

It looks like a whiskey.

The nose is sweet & fruity.

Soft, smooth & mellow on the palate.

Finishes with a gentle oaky spice.

An easy approachable drinker to sit back & mull over – if it wasn’t for the phylloxera epidemic of the 1860’s that wiped out most of the grapevines worldwide – could brandy have been as big as whiskey?

Sláinte

All images authors own.