Monday, September 16, 2013

Tweet Tasting 2 - #TBWCwhisky That Boutique-y Whisky Co.

On Thursday the 6th September, 20 members of the Manchester Whisky Club flocked to Twitter to take part in it's second Tweet Tasting. We had been kindly supplied with a fantastic array of whisky from Master of Malt. However, this was no ordinary whisky, for here we had 5 drams from their fantastic 'That Boutique-y Whisky Company' range.

Each bottling release is a single cask release, making each bottling, even if from the same distillery, completely unique. The range is quickly becoming famous for its quirky cartoon based labels using whisky 'in jokes' and themes based on the distillery being featured. These provide a breath of fresh air compared to the usual boring beige or white we're used to seeing adorn our favourite spirit.

All bottlings are NAS (No Age Statement), NCF (Non Chill Filtered) and Cask Strength.

At 7.30pm the tasting began using the tag #TBWCwhisky.

Tomintoul Batch 1 - 47.8%

Only available here for £44.95

The first batch from Speyside distillery Tomintoul is very light in colour, possibly 2nd or 3rd fill bourbon cask and collectively everyone thought this was probably a young spirit.

The label shows the chaps from the Bramble bar in Edinburgh knocking up a signature Bramble cocktail. This bottling has a token on the back that can actually be redeemed for one of these cocktails at the bar! Genius!

@MCRWhiskyClub Tomintoul nose - Elderflower,slight hint of peach and malt, bakewell tart?

@WhiskyTube Tomintoul Batch 1 - N - More floral notes coming through now with delicate honey suckle and fresh summer daisies

@OfMustandMash Tomintoul - the malty grain come through mainly. A lovely roundness to it too

@MCRWhiskyClub After water the nose for me transforms to green apple crumble and custard! and for some strange reason, the xmas decorations box

Palate - 
@Elunslakedhyena Tomintoul tastes like candy with a floral, blossomy nose.

@the_lady_sybil Palate spiky, peppery. Almonds are still there, but in towards the finish. Lingers centrally warm and sweet

@WhiskyTube Creamy summer fudge with a slight biscuity barley note

@Tomm3h Taste is light, without being overly citrusy. Definitely needs water

Finish - 
@Grahamyus To conclude. A small gingerbread man crossing a cauldron of apple cinnamon punch whilst eating peppery toffees

@Tomm3h Aftertaste, root vegetables... Parsnips or swede. Quite different, in fact

Arran Batch 2 - 49.4%

Available exclusively here for £39.95

Deeper in colour than the Tomintoul, probably 1st fill bourbon cask or a longer period spent in 2nd fill. The label shows the famous Eagles of Arran, palm trees (which do actually thrive on Arran due to its relatively temperate climate!) and the arran ferry.

Nose - 
@WhiskyTube This nose is almost erotic! Apple danish with lashings of maple syrup

@GregHarding # - concur with saltiness. Hints of Pork Scratchings, drizzled in sherbet lit with a swan vesta match

@MCRWhiskyClub Again citrus on the nose, cinnamon, possibly a hint of fresh linen and subtle fruits. Not sure which ones yet..

@OfMustandMash oak well integrated, creamy cooked fruits...lovely complexity

@msykesjones  Getting the fruits in the mouth, plums, pears maybe

@Elunslakedhyena It's like John Travolta doing Saturday night fever in tangerine boots.

@RikGarner a touch of brandy on the palette, matches the crisp apple nose

@MCRWhiskyClub AHA! I have you now.. fig rolls!
Heather honey and pink peppercorn on arrival, juicy satsuma, pineapple!? & a melody of malt alongside. Lovely

Finish - 
@MCRWhiskyClub Lovely and rounded, very malty in true Arran style. No water with this for me :) Cracker

@Rlwjones This Arran is pretty sensational. Good job the place never sank into the sea, like David Icke predicted.

@WhiskyTube Finish on the Arran is fantastic! Spiced coconut with all that honey/orange/wood smoke filling the mouth!

Aultmore Batch 2 - 56.0%

Available exclusively here for £41.95

Diageo's Aultmore is normally blend fodder, so it's nice to see it as an indie release. Since there are, in all honesty, no interesting backstories or whisky folktales about Aultmore, Master of Malt went for the masterpiece below, yes, that's a whisky label. Possibly the best we've ever seen.

Nose - 
@Tomm3h Hmm.. A scent of fresh Barley straw coming through.

@Elunslakedhyena Cocoa, plums, currents, bit of peach. Varnished wooden floors.

@ChrisKnighting Aultmore has a magic nose, menthol, big cherries

@msykesjones with water, really opens up, spice, cloves quite complex

@OfMustandMash starting to get something now: stewed apple and a bit of apricot too and a layer of mint

@MCRWhiskyClub Rhubarb, garden after a rain shower, oak, slight vanilla, treacle toffee, marmite glazed Cumberland sausage!
Nose w/ water - Full of vanilla and butterscotch alongside juicy dark hedgerow fruits this is a lovely dram, so much change!

@Himselfbyname salted caramel!

@WhiskyTube Aultmore Palate! An tour de force of Cask strength rum like vanilla essence and muscavado sugars! Lots of banana there too!

@MSykesJones with water, really opens up, spice, cloves quite complex

@MCRWhiskyClub Palate no h20 - Intense spice and pepper notes incredible, like a depth-charge of spice. What an entrance! Palate w/ Water oily mouthfeel & still packs a punch, malt and charred oak this time, a subtle handover to raisin and honeycomb

@ChrisKnighting Neat taste is nice, astringent but not abrasive, decent heat, long finish. Just lovely

@the_lady_sybil Ohh fiery, but not unpleasant, juniper and mixed spices, juniper lingers on the palate with a touch of sweet spearmint.

@MCRWhiskyClub Long, fruity and warming with delicious winter spice and dark bitter chocolate

@WhiskyTube This finish just goes on forever and ever! RUMTASTIC!!

Benrinnes Batch 2 - 49.4%

Available exclusively here for £36.95

Depicting a seemingly one sided whisky lecture featuring the MaltManiac's PeatMcPeat and Johnny Washback. Another Speysider here with an interesting Benrinnes offering

Nose - 
@The_lady_sybil Hmmm kind of an earthiness on the nose to this one...?

@AndyD1701 The more I go back the more pickled notes I seem to be getting, raspberry vinegar, stewed apple and lemon tart

@OfMustandMash Benriness - nose - Getting in love by the second with that one: there's some lovely fruity sweetness there too as it develops

@StinaWillett Anyone getting Brussel sprouts on the nose?

@MSykesJones yep sherry is there, fudge sweetness, reminds me of xmas

@Tomm3h yeah, like the smell of a cove on a sea pier... Salty and stagnant, almost #TBWCwhisky

Palate - 
@WhiskyTube Benrinnes palate: Lots of redcurrants, cranberries and all those tart red fruits! Oh and did I mention sherry?

@Elunslakedhyena Brian Blessed tumbling down a mountain of cinder toffee, bellowing all the way down.

@Grahamyus I'm now getting chocolate orange

@The_Lady_Sybil Touch of smoky honey lingering on this I think... odd, but lovely

Finish - 

@Tomm3h So Benrinnes: rubbery flavour, but a lovely, lingering finish of strawberry syrup.

@OfMustandMash this is really nice, salty and sweet at the same time

Secret Distillery Batch 1 - 55.4% 

Available exclusively here for £41.95

This whisky hails from an undisclosed secret Speyside distillery, we're not going to give it away but needless to say to expect a wheelbarrow full of sherry character...

@AndyD1701 Nose w/o H2O Sherry intermingling with parkin cake, crunchie bars and christmas pudding mix - very subtle for 55.4%!

@WhiskyTube Like a mulled wine spice bag! German markets at Christmas!!

@MsykesJones sweet, roasted nuts in spices

@OfMustandMash Secret W - nose - but also caramel and toffe and spice like cinammon and nutmeg, vanilla...sherry

Palate - 
One of the most unique notes of the night..
@Shabby_road The taste of being struck, quickly by an expensive leather glove, in southern France. That afternote is shame.

@AndyD1701 Palate no water - Butter in an iron pan, heavy oak and there's the sherry alongside nuts and chocolate truffle

And another..
@Grahamyus An oversized walnut rollsdown Glastonbury Tor on a winters eve,smashes over bottles ofbordeaux and gathers up chocsand n vanilla

@WhiskyTube Much more tannic now, loads more of those mulled wine spices! Lots of dry merlot and maybe some cabernet franc notes!

Finish - 
@WhiskyTube Getting lots of parma violets on the finish, like an Argentinian Cabernet Franc

@Tomm3h Feel like I've just drank a big bar of dark, tasty Bourneville chocolate.

A fantastic tasting overall. In terms of popularity the Aultmore stole the show with the Arran coming in a close second.

A huge thanks must go to the chaps at Master of Malt for generously providing the club with such a fantastic range of samples for us to try.

We have also tried the Bowmore Batch 1 at our very first meeting back in January, read our write up for that here!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Going Global

Summer is on the decline, but still millions flock to the UK's airports to jet off to countries to sample delights such as miles of golden sandy beaches and turquoise seas. Or, in some cases; €0.50 shots of cheap sambuca in a nightclub where the music is too loud and the frivolity seemingly extensive.

One subject we are yet to touch on is world whisky. 'World whisky?' We hear you cry? Yes. Besides Scotland, Ireland, The US and Japan. There are a wealth of distilleries spanning across continents that you might never have thought would distill whisky in your wildest dreams. So we thought, instead of going to these far and distant lands like explorers of a past age, why not bring these countries to us? So on the 26th August 2013, we plotted a course for the unknown and set off on our journey.

We had a selection of 6 whiskies in total across the night spanning 3 continents. With spirit originating from countries bathed in sunlight to others where the anorak is a bestseller all year round.

First up was an entry from Sweden!

Mackmyra First Edition 46.1% (Sweden)

Mackmyra was Sweden's first whisky distillery. Set up by friends from the University of Stockholm in 1999, Mackmyra is starting to make a name for itself with it's unique small batch releases. Set among tall Swedish forests Mackmyra makes for a pretty picture. Matured in Virgin Swedish oak casks.

Nose - Light and sweet, elderflower cordial, lemongrass, warm custard pastry's, crunchy green apples and honey.
Palate - Very gentle and smooth with good thick mouth feel, light and syrupy flavours including more honey, vanilla and slight spicy hints.
Finish - Quite short with a flourish of more fruit, slight tartness ending with a not unpleasant bitterness.

Three Ships 10yr Old - Limited Edition 43% (Africa) 

Next we had something very different in store. When someone says Africa you might think of the rolling savannas of the Serengeti or the rain forests of Congo or Gabon. But, would you ever imagine a quaint looking distillery in a picturesque setting? With a wild bird habitat to its side and the sun beating down, sits the James Sedgwick distillery in Wellington, South Africa.

A 10 year old single malt from South Africa, matured in unknown cask types.

Nose - Remarkably punchy for a 43% spirit, dried fruits, nutmeg, a dying wood fire, toffee.
Palate - Oaky and very full, a slight tightness in some notes released well with one or two drops of water to bring out more toffee and spiced plums.
Finish - Again the oak reigns supreme here, a very full and intense dram.

Kavalan King Car Conductor - 46% (Taiwan) 

Next we move onto another country not associated with whisky in any sense of the word. Taiwan, and to the Kavalan Whisky Distillery.

Now, this is an interesting dram in many senses of the word. Kavalan themselves have been releasing some top quality whisky recently and in this instance the distillery's holding company - King Car have stuck their oar in. They have created this, the King Car Conductor as a 'well rounded whisky to represent their well rounded company'. That's because King Car aren't just distillers, they have involvement in shedloads of fingers in even more pies. Such as.. the Pharmaceutical industry, chemical manufacture & distribution, soft drink manufacturing, instant coffee manufacturing, biotechnology, molecular biological research, the list goes on.. and on..

Nose - Ripe rich fruits, a musky wood undertone and then from nowhere a clear cut malt spike
Palate - A nice thick mouthfeel, initial deep sweetness akin to heather honey and molasses, the wood from the nose rears its head alongside tangy fruit and fresh buttery caramel in the hot pan.
Finish - Quite long, a quenching dryness that pulls along with a dabble of mango and biscuit base.

Amrut Fusion - 50% (India)

Next we headed over to India and to what is possibly India's most famous distillery - Amrut. Based in the close and fiery temperatures of Bangalore, Amrut has been making real in-roads in the whisky market in recent years. Due to the hot climate of India, Amrut and other Indian distillers experience a higher loss of spirit during maturation - also known as The Angels Share -than it's European counterparts. This normally equates to around 10-15% compared to around 3% in Scotland.

A plus side to the temperature is that this allows the whisky to mature much faster than it would in a cooler climate, meaning a much younger whisky will display character more akin to that of an older bottling.

Named as such as the Fusion uses 25% peated Scottish barley and 75% non peated barley from India, creating in essence a fusion of styles and countries themselves.

Nose - A big profile here thanks to the 50% strength. A lovely interplay between soft peat and sugary barley notes, the slight hint of exotic spices and all the while citrus layers play a soft ambient tune in the background.
Palate - Oak at the fore, dark chocolate and nuts, sherried dates and that delectable peat makes a welcomed return.
Finish - Looooong, very much the citrus notes playing again here, the peat now just a whisper playing across the tongue.

English Whisky Co Chapter 9 (England)

Yes you heard, English Whisky! 2 words that might strike fear into the hearts of Scotch whisky lovers everywhere. However don't be fooled, the chaps at the St George's distillery in Norfolk are doing a lot of things right. From using locally sourced Norfolk barley, their own floor maltings and the water coming from a source underneath the distillery itself. It was also great to see such an informative label stating the date of distillation, cask number and even the person who distilled it! In this case, head distiller David Fitt.

Chapter 9 is the distillery's first peated offering, most of the EWC spirit is still in it's early stages and from memory all releases so far have been 3 yrs old.

Nose - A lovely medley of lemon peel and vanilla, lemon curd tart and also savoury elements like Polish Kabanos and smokey bacon crisps all in tune with a delicious peat note.
Palate - Thick and luscious for a 3 year old! Again sweet and well balanced, cola cube's, vanilla, almost a Cornish vanilla ice cream, with the peat a constant but not invasive feature. A very well balanced dram.
Finish - Long and warming with more fruits, both citrus and green. The top of an egg custard with its ground nutmeg, the peat bidding its final farewell edging into a powerful spicy finish.

Penderyn Madeira - 46% (Wales)

As we've already covered this one in our previous blog post here; we will use our notes from that
previous tasting with slight adjustments that were picked up on

Nose- Vanilla, brandy soaked raisins, thick cut marmalade and a touch of light honey.
Palate- Lovely oily mouthfeel, fresh green fruit, ginger nut biscuits and malt coming through. Also pine sap and after eight mints.
Finish- The Madeira now truly shows itself with a dry and appetising whit wine-esque finish laced with pear and a touch of pepper.

A fantastic range all around and really went to show the differing styles of each country and the edge that the distilleries all brought to the table. This certainly must be giving some Scottish and Irish producers food for thought as it has become clear that as Whisky continues it's massive world wide surge in popularity, distilleries across the globe have taken note and have started to produce some fantastic spirits. Long may it continue.