Saturday, 20 May 2017

A Nikka Duet for World Whisky Day

Normally I drink and blog about Scottish Whisky but on occasions I have tried others drams including some from Ireland, Wales, Sweden, India and Japan. As it's World Whisky Day today I thought I'd try a couple of Japanese whiskys and let you know my thoughts!

Both of my drams are from the Nikka Whisky Company owned by Asahi who own a number of distilleries in Japan and the Ben Nevis distillery in Scotland..

The first is Whisky from the Barrel (WFTB) a blend of malt and grain whiskies bottled at 51.4% and sold in 50cl bottles.

The second is Pure Malt Black (PMB) another blend, this time of malt whiskies, bottled at 43% again in 50cl bottles.

These are both blended drams with a mixture of malt and in the case of WFTB grain whiskies from the Yoichi and Miyagikyo distilleries.

My drams were both sample swaps, the WFTB from @Mcfcivo100 and the PMB from @ThisIsMyDram - thanks to both of you!

Whisky From The Barrel and Pure Malt Black

Distillery : Nikka
Whisky : Whisky from the Barrel (NAS)
Characteristics : 500ml, 51.4% ABV.
Price : £38 widely available
Colour : Deep Gold - coloured
Nose : The room fills with the aroma of toffee as soon as you pour this dram into your glass, closer inspection reveals green apple and vanilla and over time a honey note develops.
Palate : Coffee instantly on the tongue followed quickly by walnuts - it's like an old coffee walnut whip (can you still get them?) the walnuts persist and is joined by vanilla notes and a lovely spicy cinnamon.
Finish : A long dry finish dominated by them walnuts and a little spice.
Water : As this is a 51.4% whisky I tried a little water, this introduced some citrus notes to the nose with a hint of pepper, on the palate the spice reduced slightly.
Overall : This is a lovely sipping whisky, where the strength is instantly recognisable but not dominating. A little water brings out some citrus but other than reducing the strength doesn't make too much difference to the whisky. A lovely dram, well worth trying!
Link : WFTB

Distillery : Nikka
Whisky : Pure Malt Black (NAS)
Characteristics : 500ml, 43% ABV.
Price : £46 widely available
Colour : Deep Gold - coloured
Nose : Not as strong as the WFTB and quite different - a malty chocolate aroma with a strong hint of peat smoke. Over time this develops into toffee and orange peel with a hint of vanilla.
Palate : A smooth dram on the tongue but with a slight alcohol burn (surprising as this is 43%, I didn't get any on the 51.4% WFTB) it's dominated by chocolate and a little treacle.
Finish : A medium length dry dark chocolate finish with a little spice and a hint of smoke..
Overall : This is one of a set of three 'coloured' Pure Malts - Red is fruity (like a Speyside), White is Peaty (like an Islay) and this one, the Black, is some where in between. There were definite hints of peat smoke buy I didn't get any fruit - plenty of chocolate though!. A lovely dram, probably my favourite of the two - again - well worth trying!
Link : PMB

Thursday, 11 May 2017

A Bowmore Threesome

A couple of weeks ago I was graced by a visit from @MaltmanMike where we planned to do a tasting of two Bowmores. Unfortunately due to some technical glitches (his recording equipment had been on the Bowmore before us) the recording was completely out of focus!

Behind the scenes at a Maltman Mike vlog recording!
No doubt we'll have another go at a later date, but until then here are my thoughts on three Bowmore drams!

I'd bought the 9yo earlier in the year, the 15yo was a sample swap - thanks to @ThisIsMyDram and the Vaults was from the Maltman.

9yo, Vaults, 15yo

Distillery : Bowmore
Whisky : 9yo Sherry Cask Finish
Characteristics : 700ml, 40% ABV.
Colour : Old Oak - coloured
Nose : Light smoke with toffee
Palate : Weak sherry, very thin develops a little vanilla .
Finish : Slight alcohol burn - surprising for a 40%, some smoke
Overall : This one hasn't improved much in the 5 months it's been sat on my shelf - see my previous review here. As I said then it would have been better blended with something more smokier and sold as a NAS.

Distillery : Bowmore
Whisky : 15yo Darkest
Characteristics : 700ml, 43% ABV.
Colour : Old Oak - coloured
Nose : Bonfire smoke (from a distance) with salty sherry developing over time.
Palate : Thin sweet sherry developing to toffee with a little drying smoke.
Finish : Medium dry finish with light smoke
Overall : As others have mentioned this is a strange one where the name describes an artificial colour - come on Bowmore get rid of the caramel or sort out the marketing department.... This one was a much better dram than the 9yo.

Distillery : Bowmore
Whisky : Vaults Edit1°n (NAS)
Characteristics : 700ml, 51.5% ABV.
Colour : Old Gold
Nose : Vanilla, smoke developing into salty bread dough.
Palate : Mouth filling, oily, salted smoked oranges - yummy
Finish : Dry salty finish with the orange coming back
With Water : This dram was over 50% so I also tried it with a drop of water - this brought out a sweet smokiness in the nose and palate and intensified the orange finish.
Overall : Definitely the best of the trio! This was in a different league to the other two even as a NAS. The addition of a little water really brought out the Islay smoke - it's not in the same ballpark as some of the other Islay peat monsters but lovely never the less!

OK so no vlog for this tasting but you can view Mike's other vlogs on the Maltman Mike YouTube Channel.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Another trip to the Prince Of Wales

I'm very lucky where I work that they let us out at 12 noon every Friday, this gives us a chance to visit some local hostelries and sample their wares. One of our regular haunts is the Prince Of Wales at Foxfield, it's a small pub on the Cumbria coast which boasts it's own brewery, regular beer, gin, rum and music festivals - check out their website.

There are normally 8 real ales on the bar plus a couple of ciders and many bottled delights. They also have a great, ever changing, selection of whiskies!

The Whisky Blackboard
This week they held a Dark, Strong Beer & Cider Weekend so we had to visit!

So whilst some of my colleagues made their way through the list of beers, I started with a few whiskies.

Distillery : Mannochmore
Whisky : 12yo (Flora & Fauna)
Characteristics : 700ml, 43% ABV.
Colour : Light Gold
Nose : Vanilla, Christmas cake spices
Palate : Smooth mouth filling vanilla, orange hints and those Christmas spices.
Finish : Long spicy finish
Overall : This is the first time dram which I spotted on the board from a distillery I couldn't remember sampling from before. It's part of the Flora & Fauna range of limited releases - I don't think these are very common?

Distillery : Linkwood
Whisky : 15yo (Gordon & MacPhail)
Characteristics : 700ml, 43% ABV. NCF, Uncoloured
Colour : Dark Gold
Nose : Vanilla and oak with a touch of cereal
Palate : Sweet vanilla, developing into chocolate
Finish : Long spicy sweet finish
Overall : Another dram which I spotted on the board from a distillery I couldn't remember sampling from before and definitely the best of the three I tried on the day.

Distillery : Dalmore
Whisky : 12yo 
Characteristics : 700ml, 43% ABV. NCF, Coloured 😟
Colour : Dark Gold
Nose : Sherry and vanilla, 
Palate : Dry sherry with hints of oranges and marshmallows
Finish : Long dry finish dominated by vanilla with a hint of spicy orange
Overall : Pretty standard fare this one but it was the first time I'd tried a Dalmore. Honesty I wasn't really impressed - nice bottle and presentation but just a little plain for me.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Saturday afternoon with Tamdhu

You never know what is going to turn up when you sign up and get accepted for one of @TheWhiskyWire's @TweetTasting and this one was no different. This one took a while to get my hands on - the DHL man tried to deliver it twice when I was away on holiday, then took it back to the depot - I was really concerned that it wasn't going to get delivered in time!

When it did arrive I opened a beautiful large box from @TamdhuWhisky with a hand written welcome letter, a booklet about the history of the distillery and tasting notes for two of the 4 bottles. Underneath was a beautiful glass and four small bottles.

Box opening!

The drams included : New Make Spirit, 10yo, 10yo Limited Edition and Batch Strength.

The drams
This tasting was a little different for a number of reasons:
  1. It look place on a Saturday evening - usually they take place on a Wednesday night.
  2. It was a joint twitter and distillery tasting as it coincided with the Spirit of Speyside festival.
  3. As they were 50cl bottles I'd invited a mate round to help me sample them!
Personally I thought the evening went a little quickly - there wasn't a lot of time for the usual twitter discussion - I'm guessing that's because the distillery tasters had a schedule to meet!

My thoughts:

Distillery : Tamdhu
Whisky : New Make Spirit
Characteristics : 50ml, 69.7% ABV.
Colour : Transparent
Nose : Fresh baked bread with a little sweetness
Palate : Sweetness, lip numbing, like schnapps but at all rough like I expected!
Finish : None to speak of - must have been the alcohol
Overall : This is the first time I'd tried New Make Spirit from any distillery and was apprehensive when I saw the strength thinking it was be very rough and burning - it wasn't like that at all. Initially I'd only poured a small amount into my glass to try and soon topped it up! It was quite drinkable as long as you only took small sips.

Distillery : Tamdhu
Whisky : 10yo
Characteristics : 700ml 40% ABV
Price : £30
Colour : Light Gold
Nose : Sherry and almonds with a slight rough edge - developed over time into buttery toffee
Palate : Creamy smooth, banoffee pie
Finish : Medium - spicy - aniseed?
Overall : A lovely beginners Speyside dram - just the right about of sherry which if left in the glass to develop turns into toffee - delicious!
Link : 10yo

Distillery : Tamdhu
Whisky : 10yo Limited Edition (1000 bottles)
Characteristics : 700ml 46% ABV
Price : £120
Colour : Dark Gold
Nose : Sherry with a slight rough edge - developed over time into buttery toffee - similar to 10yo
Palate : Sherry, toffee - very smooth and drying with a spicy tingle of cloves
Finish : A long spicy clove finish
Overall : Another lovely dram, this time the sherry was a little more pronounced on the nose and palate.
Link : 10yo Ltd Edn

Distillery : Tamdhu
Whisky : Batch Strength No 002
Characteristics : 700ml 58.5% ABV
Price : £60
Colour : Dark Gold
Nose : Toffee, Vanilla, Citrus - maybe orange - no rough edge like the previous two
Palate : Toffee, orange - drying in the mouth, again with spicy cloves or cinnamon on the tongue
Finish : Long orange oil finish
Overall : For all it's strength - this one was my favourite on the night - strong yes - but a lovely sipping whisky, the addition of a little water added to the vanilla on the nose and orange on the palate and finish.
Link Batch Strength

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