Thursday, 13 April 2017

Would you like a slice with that whisky?

You never know what is going to turn up when you sign up and get accepted for one of @TheWhiskyWire's @TweetTasting and this week's was an especially unusual one! I've been lucky enough to have taken part in a number of these and have received a box with a glass and 3 samples, another had 5 samples, but this one was the strangest yet! When Steve announced it was a #GlenfiddichIPA tasting my first though was OK, we're only sampling 1 dram, but that's not quite how it turned out!

Box opening
So in the box we had a sample of Glenfiddich IPA, a bottle of Brew Two India Pale Ale, a slice of Blood Orange skin and a nice beer mat! What's unusual about this dram is that the casks have been used to mature beer:

The evening kicked off as normal with our thoughts on the whisky:

My thoughts:

Distillery : Glenfiddich
Whisky : Experimental Series - IPA Cask Finish
Price : £45

Characteristics : 700ml, 43% ABV.  NAS but around 8yo

Colour : Deep Gold
Nose : Floral and fruity, Orange, pear, cereals - develops into apples with cinnamon
Palate : Smooth and sweet but tasting a little like honey sandwiches, some sour apple and hops
Finish : Very bitter, with hints of spice (ginger?)

Overall : The nose and taste of this dram were very nice - a little fruit and cereal but the finish was very bitter - maybe slightly unpleasant.

Link : IPA

Next came the beer!

The beer is brewed by Seb Jones at @SpeysideCraftBrewery and matured in the ex-whisky American Oak casks for a month before being bottled.

The beer is dry, very bitter and has hints of citrus - very moreish!

After a couple of mouthfuls of the beer I went back to the whisky and it had changed a little - more creamy and fruity on the palate and the bitter finish had gone altogether - interesting! 

Then came the strange part of the evening - we were invited to get a handful of ice, add it to the beer, twist and add the blood orange peel and finally add a little of the dram! I found it really difficult to 'pour away' some of my whisky.....

The resulting 'IPA Experimental Serve' was an unusual experience! There was huge explosion of zesty orange followed by a dry bitter taste, from the beer, finishing with a little kick from the whisky. Not really my cup of tea but I'm sure it wouldn't be out of place at a summer BBQ!

Glenfiddich have a swish video showing you how to make their Serve:

Many thanks to Steve for organising, Mark and @GlenfiddichSMW for the samples and my fellow tasters for a really enjoyable evening!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Stagg Jr

A recent sample swap with @SpikeyDog120 delivered an unexpected surprise - a sample of @BuffaloTrace's 3rd batch Stagg Jr.

Beautiful colour!
Distillery : Buffalo Trace Distillery
Whiskey : Stagg Jr. Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
(3rd Batch)
Price : £75

Characteristics : 700ml, 66.05% ABV. The mash bill on this one is 75% Corn, 15% Malted Barley and 10% Rye, it's matured in charred oak for around 8-9 years but is sold with NAS.

Box/Bottle Information : "Rich, sweet, chocolate and brown sugar flavors mingle in perfect balance with the bold rye spiciness."

Colour : Mahogany
Nose : Vanilla, earthy oak, cherries, lemon
Palate : WOW - obviously with this strength it's going to be powerful and I'd been warned so was only taking tiny sips. It was solid, like a spoonful of burning treacle rolling over your tongue! It burned but there were hints of old leather. A little water opened it up a bit - with honey and raisins, over time cherries from the nose came through quite strongly.
Finish : Oak, vanilla and a strong burn! with a lingering taste of spicy (cinnamon?) honey.

Overall : Definitely a sipping whiskey (with a strong burn if that's that you like). The addition of a little water reduced the burn and opened up the flavours - I enjoyed the cherry on the nose and palate giving the whiskey a little sourness. Many thanks to @SpikeyDog120 for the surprise!

Link : Stagg Jr

Monday, 3 April 2017

#WishkyTwo Blind Tasting

Following on from a fantastic blind tasting in February WishkyOne@WishkyCo came up with another evening in March, again an beautiful unidentified 50ml bottle arrived in the post - a simple label identified it as WishkyTwo. The hardest part of all of this is not opening the bottle before the night....

For those of you who haven't heard of this, we had a hour to try and identify the mystery dram - it was time for #WishkyHour

Appearance: Pale Gold.

As soon as I opened the bottle the smoke jumped out - obviously an Islay - buy which one? My thoughts in the text, others from Twitter:

Appearance: Pale Gold, clinging to the glass when swirled indicating age or non chill-filtered?

Nose: Smoke, Seaweed, Salt with floral tones but not medicinal...

Palate: Strong smoke, vanilla, salt. The dram also came across as very strong...

Finish: Bitter and dry...

Overall: Even though I'm an Islay Fan Boy I wasn't blown away by this one - which led me to believe it was maybe one I hadn't tried before maybe Bowmore,  Bunnahabhain or a strange  Bruichladdich Port Charlotte? Over time we were told it was a 46% whisky.

Eventually we got to the end of the hour and the end of the dram...

If you haven't guessed what dram we were drinking yet from my notes - we were drinking Kilchoman Machir Bay.

Many thanks to Neil at @wishkyco for organising, if you want to get involved next time, there is a small fee to cover costs, get in touch with Neil or better still sign up for one of his boxes, all can be tried blind but tasting notes are included!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

House Of Malt Twitter Tasting

A great evening of whisky tasting took place on Friday 24th March and luckily I was invited to take part! @MaltmanMike distributed samples of @HouseOfMalt's Secret Distillery Bottlings from three distilleries, one each from the Highland, Speyside and Islay regions of Scotland.

Once again I used my geeky Tasting Mat design which allowed me to record and then tweet my tasting thoughts as we went along!

Distillery : Secret Highland
Whisky : 10yo
Characteristics : 700ml 43% ABV
Price : £35
Colour : Pale Gold
Nose : Quite a complex nose on this one, developed over the 10 minutes I was nosing. It started with Polish and honey, developed into strawberries, pears and apples then later a lovely vanilla came through.
Palate : Smooth and creamy with oranges, vanilla. It was also very drying and sweet like icing sugar.
Finish : A short spicy finish of orange oil.
Overall : I really enjoyed this yummy dram, a really complex nose, smooth creamy taste and spicy finish - what else do you want from a Highland dram?
Link HoM Highland

Distillery : Secret Speyside
Whisky : 15yo
Characteristics : 700ml 40% ABV
Price : £45
Colour : Deep Gold
Nose : Vanilla and a little sherry, rubber glue and oak
Palate : Creamy sweet sherry, a little honey, lime and cinnamon
Finish : Short spicy finish like dry roasted peanuts
Overall : All we know is that this comes from Ex Bourbon and Oloroso casks - it was a nice dram with a typical Speyside sherry finsh.
Link HoM Speyside

Distillery : Secret Islay
Whisky : 10yo
Characteristics : 700ml 43% ABV
Price : £40
Colour : Pale Gold
Nose : BBQ smoke, not medicinal, honey, stewed pears developing into BBQ bananas with chocolate drops
Palate : Smoke, a little honey, vanilla, salt, drying licorice
Finish : Sugared almonds, smoke
Overall : A nice smokey dram with BBQ overtones
Link HoM Islay

Overall : A great evening of tasting, but it's really annoying that we don't know the distilleries! Personally I preferred the Highland even though normally I'm an Islay Fan Boy! The nose was brilliant - very complex! The Islay came second and the Speyside third. For the price these were all very good drams, fine examples of their respective regions and I don't think anyone who tries they will be disappointed!

Tweet Tasting UK v USA

Another fantastic evening of @TweetTasting took place on Wednesday 22nd March and luckily I was invited to take part! This is time was a bit of a competition between UK distillery @GlenGrant and US distillery @WildTurkey but seeming as the drams were very different it wasn't really a competition!

I demoed my geeky Tasting Mat design for the first time which allowed me to record and then tweet my tasting thoughts as we went along!

Distillery : Glen Grant
Whisky : 10yo
Characteristics : 700ml 40% ABV
Price : £30
Colour : Old Gold (Non Coloured)
Nose : Pear, watermelon and apple notes develop into vanilla with overtones of strawberry chewits
Palate : Pear & liquorice developing into vanilla with a touch of pepper
Finish : Smooth, long vanilla with a touch of pepper
Overall : I enjoyed this dram, it's a basic delicate whisky with no surprises - ideal for beginners looking for a typical Speyside malt.
Link : Glen Grant 10yo

Distillery : Wild Turkey
Whisky : 101 Bourbon
Characteristics : 700ml 50.5% ABV
Price : £31
Colour : Tawny
Nose : Fig biscuits, caramel, wax polish developing into a lovely golden syrup
Palate : Spicy cinnamon and nutmeg with apple strudel covered in creamy vanilla custard.
Finish : Vanilla custard, much more rounded than the 10yo
Overall : My first ever Bourbon this is made with 75% Corn, 13% Rye and 12% Barley
Link : Wild Turkey 101

Distillery : Glen Grant
Whisky : 12yo
Characteristics : 700ml 43% ABV
Price : £43
Colour : Old Gold (Non Coloured)
Nose : Pear, watermelon and apple notes similar to the 10yo but with more punch. Fresh baked apple pie and Pistachios
Palate : Honey, apples and pear (in a pie?)
Finish : Vanilla custard, more rounded that the 10yo
Overall : An improvement on the 10yo, the extra 2 years make quite a difference - more punch and smoother.
Link : Not currently on the Glen Grant website.

Distillery : Wild Turkey
Whisky : Rye
Characteristics : 700ml 40.5% ABV
Price : £28
Colour : Deep Gold
Nose : Toffee, wax polish, cream soda, marshmallow
Palate : Watered honey, cream soda with a little bitter lemon
Finish : Spicy with a kick, juice from a pickled egg jar?
Overall : So my 2nd Bourbon, this one was 65% Rye, 23% Corn and 12% Barley matured in a cask which has had an Alligator #4 char.
Link Wild Turkey Rye

Overall : A really interesting evening of sampling - thanks to @GlenGrant and @WildTurkey for the drams, @TheWhiskyWire for organising and all the Tweet Tasters who shared their thoughts on the night. My order of preference was the Glen Grant 12yo, Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon, Glen Grant 10yo and finally the Wild Turkey Rye.