Kilchoman Machir Bay 2012

My next review is on that triggered a few memories. It was my 1st whisky tasted at a WhiskyBrother tasting (Islay smoke machines back in 2013), and co-incidentally it was the last dram I had last night at WhiskyBrother to celebrate the shops 2nd birthday. Of interest is that Kilchoman was the first new distillery to be built on the remote island of Islay for well over a century. Currently another distillery is being built on Islay, Gartbreck.

Kilchoman_Machir Bay_NAS_The Smoky DramWhiskey: Kilchoman Machir Bay 2012, 46% ABV

Region: Islay, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: NAS

 

Machir Bay is a sherry-finished malt from Islay’s (at this stage) newest distillery, Kilchoman. This was released in 2012 and is made up of 60% 3 year old, 35% 4 year old and 5% 5 year old whisky. They all were aged in first fill bourbon barrels, before vatting and finishing in an Oloroso sherry butt for eight weeks.

Colour: Pale straw with medium to thick legs.

Nose: An Islay seaside feel of salty sea spray and seaweed. Has sweet peaty smoke with slight black pepper tones some brininess and citrus fruits (mostly freshly squeezed limes and lemons to me). Nose is clean, crisp and very fresh. Time in glass gives you even more smokiness.

Palate: Follows nicely from the nose with smoke, citrus, salty and a spicy mix of wood/oak spice and freshly cracked black pepper (almost a sweet and spicy peatiness to me). The addition of water softens the smoke and makes it sweeter – vanilla custard. A fairly complex palate that has a smooth mouth feel to it.

Finish: Medium tending to long while being a bitter sweetness (like a very dark chocolate) with a final spiciness at the end.

Overall: As my first introduction to Kilchoman I really enjoyed it and subsequently have tried a few others and can say that overall the offering from Kilchoman is of a very high standard. I particularly enjoyed the slight sweetness that this one brings to the range.

The Smoky Dram’s 12 Whiskies of Christmas – 2014

Smoky Dram_12 Whiskies of Christmas_Arnold Photography

Now for the second year running (hey seems like this may just become an annual ‘thing’ that I do) I present, not the 12 days of Christmas, but rather ‘The Smoky Dram’s 12 whiskies of Christmas’ to offer my selection of 12 drams that could be enjoyed this festive season. This may be either as a present for a family member or friend, or most importantly, a present for yourself. Feel free to pass this one to a friend or family member if there is something that you would like in your stocking this year.

As usual, my list is made up of whiskies across price categories, ages, regions and ABV strengths. So hopefully there is something suitable for everyone on the list below and also all of these whiskies are available in South Africa. Your best bet though, for getting your hands on one of the whiskies and if you are in the Johannesburg region, is to visit the WhiskyBrother shop in Hyde Park. If none of the below appeals to you I am certain that they will be able to help you find a dram to your liking. Another alternative, if you like to travel out the city, is to visit Wild About Whisky in Dullstroom. Here you can sample a huge selection of whiskies, including the ones below, to see which one is your favourite.

So without a further ado, here for 2014 are:Smoky Dram_12 Whiskies of Christmas_Banner

Less than R350

  1. Three Ships Bourbon Cask Finish (43% ABV) – R200
  2. Famous Grouse The Black Grouse (43% ABV) – R220

R350 to R600

  1. Tomatin 12 year old (43% ABV) – R390
  2. Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select (43.2% ABV) – R440
  3. Highland Park 12 year old (43% ABV) – R490
  4. Nikka Pure Malt – Black (43% ABV) – R560
  5. Teeling Small Batch (46% ABV) – R590

R600 to R1000

  1. Talisker 10 year old (45.8% ABV) – R640
  2. Glenfarclas 105 10 year old Cask Strength (60% ABV) – R810
  3. Bowmore Darkest 15 year old (43% ABV) – R960

Greater than R1000

  1. Kavalan Soloist Sherry Cask Strength (57.8% ABV) – R1700
  2. Octomore Edition 6.1(57% ABV) – R1700

I have been fortunate enough to of have tried (and enjoyed) all of the above whiskies and can say that they are all very fine drams. All that is left to say is that I wish all a festive, peaceful and happy time over the holidays.

Sláinte and Happy Holidays’ to all!
Edward
 
The Smoky Dram Whisky Blog

Teeling Whiskey – Tweet Tasting (#TeelingWhiskey)

A couple of things prompted this tweet tasting post, firstly I was going through some old notes and found this one that I had not yet posted (the tasting was almost a year ago). Secondly Teeling Whiskey is now available in South Africa and exclusively at WhiskyBrother, though only the Small Batch is currently available. And thirdly the Teeling Single Grain Whiskey was recently awarded the World’s Best Grain at the World Whiskies Awards for 2014.

Teeling_ Irish Whiskey_TT

This tweet tasting took place on 4th December 2013, and I was fortunate enough to do this tasting while on holiday on the South African south coast. This twitter tasting was put together and hosted by Steve Rush from The Whisky Wire and their main tweet tasting account @TweetTastings. Steve was joined by Stephen Teeling from the Teeling Whisky Company. Steve also musically paired the whiskies, so the sampling order, with their musical counterparts, was:

  1. Teeling Single Grain Irish Whiskey = U2 – Desire
  2. Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey = Thin Lizzy – Whiskey in Jar
  3. Teeling 21 Year Old Single Malt = Dubliners – Dirty Old Town
  4. Teeling 26 Year Old Single Malt = Luke Kelly – Auld Triangle

Teeling_ Irish Whiskey_TT_NAS_21yo_26yo

Teeling whiskey

In 1782 Walter Teeling set up a craft distillery on Marrowbone Lane in the Liberties area of Dublin commencing a 230 year tradition of distilling for the Teeling family. The Teeling Whiskey Distillery is the first new distillery in Dublin in over 125 years and it is right back where they started in 1782 and only a stone’s throw away from where Walter Teeling’s old original distillery was. The new distillery will be open for visitors in 2015.

Teeling Single Grain Irish Whiskey, NAS with 46% ABV and cost £40 (R690)

Teeling_Single  Grain_NAS_The Smoky Dram

The Teeling Single Grain was recently awarded the World’s Best Grain at the World Whiskies Awards, 2014. It is fully matured in Californian red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon) barrels with no chill filtration.

Colour: Pale gold to corn gold with many medium legs.

Nose: Warm spices (cinnamon) with sweetness in background that comes to the fore with time. Cereal and grains with a nuttiness that leads to lemon and a vanilla sweetness. It has a buttery creaminess to it, like a lemon sponge cake or lemon cheese cake. Also dark cherries with slight ruby grapefruit and a very subtle touch of smoke in back ground.

Palate: Very sweet spiciness on first hit followed by fruit sweetness – berry fruits, red fruits and fruit pastilles. Vanilla again but a custard vanilla. Peppery, cinnamon, citrus, cranberry and strawberry yogurt. Smooth and creamy with some chocolateness around. Drying towards the end.

Finish: Long and warm sweet spiciness with vanilla sweet fruit creaminess at end.

Tweet thoughts from Teeling Whiskey Company (@TeelingWhiskeyC):

  • #TeelingWhiskey our song pairing for Single Grain is “Desire” from U2 – it’s modern Dublin and whets the appetite for more whiskey!!
  • The wine cask gave the whiskey a nice red colour #TeelingWhiskey
  • #TeelingWhiskey our single grain is double distilled from maize and full matured in ex- Californian Cabarnet Sauvignon wine barrels
  • Like most grain this is a sweet soft whiskey, but the wine cask has given it a spice and fruit that is unusual #TeelingWhiskey
  • @ansgarspeller yes all our bottlings are at 46% with no chill filtration we just think it makes a better whiskey #TeelingWhiskey

 Tweet thoughts from the other tweet tasters:  

  • #TeelingWhiskey Hay is the word, a little like nose when you are on the Fields in september, with a little citrus – @DH17slijterij
  • #TeelingWhiskey anyone know the Rollo candy? (milkchocolate with soft caramel). That. On the nose. – @thomas_speller
  • There’s definitely a big red-fruit thing on the palate. Think they might just be ‘fresh’ wine casks, not ‘knackered’. #TeelingWhiskey – @MasterOfMalt
  • A red fruit frenzy on the palate, with a velvety vinous vivaciousness. #TeelingWhiskey – @TheWhiskyWire
  • Palate smooth with vanilla, butterscotch angel delight, peppermint and nutmeg. #TeelingWhiskey – @MCRWhiskyClub
  • #TeelingWhiskey Hay is the word, a little like nose when you are on the Fields in september, with a little citrus – @DH17slijterij

 

Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey, NAS with 46% ABV and cost £32 (R550)

Teeling_Small  Batch_NAS_The Smoky DramThis small batch bottling consists of hand selected casks which are given further maturation in ex-Flor de Cana Rum barrels with no chill filtration.

Colour: Pale old gold with many medium legs.

Nose:  Clean with saltiness, rum & raisin chocolate, creamy spiciness and slight citrus notes (more oranges than lemons). Lovely winter spices (mostly cloves and nutmeg), salt & pepper mix, some malty grains and Red Heart rum. There are hints of tropical fruits (pineapple) with time. To round out, some cereal breakfast bar, slight burnt brown sugar, custard and banana. Not as sweet as the single grain.

Palate: Sweet upfront spiciness, aniseed, vanilla and toffee. Slight woodiness, pepper, cinnamon, and some more of those warm winter spices (cloves and nutmeg), salty and with a dryness as well. Palate is very intense, creamy and rich with lovely oily mouth feel.

Finish: Medium to long with sweet winter spiciness leading to a creamy end.

Tweet thoughts from Teeling Whiskey Company (@TeelingWhiskeyC):

  • #TeelingWhiskey Our music pairing for the Small Batch is Thin Lizzy Whiskey in the jar – rebel Dublin music to go with rebel whiskey !!
  • #TeelingWhiskey our small batch is our take on producing the most interesting blended irish whiskey.
  • #TeelingWhiskey Consists of Hand selected casks of grain and malt left to marry in Flor de Cana casks for over 6 months
  • #TeelingWhiskey interesting that the saltiness is coming through as marrying process happens in our warehouses right on the Irish Sea
  • @eimearocarroll #TeelingWhiskey it depends on when it’s ready to be honest can be a small run of only a handful or 30/40 casks – And in answer to question “How many casks go into the small batch? Roughly if it’s a secret! ;)”

Tweet thoughts from the other tweet tasters: 

  • Faint hints of captain jack n tropical rum #TeelingWhiskey – @irishbeersnob
  • #TeelingWhiskey Small Batch rum; Clan tobacco – proper retro tonite – @Dr4key
  • #TeelingWhiskey sweet, candy, toffee, chocolate, raisins in lemons, salty, oily and tingling, banana, tea leaves, rum, pepperish, custard – @Girl_Whisky
  • #TeelingWhiskey not as smooth on the palate as the grain. Tropical tho, pineapple & mango… held together with a dollop of dark treacle – @kizzsmyth
  • cinnamon on a fruit tart. The pastry coming through right at end of the finish. #teelingwhiskey – @champdenwhite
  • Don’t like rum, so was a little worried about the SB. Shouldn’t have been. Rum just adds fruity/spicy/sugary notes. I like! #TeelingWhiskey – @AlpacaJo

 

Teeling Silver Reserve 21 Year Old 1991 Single Malt with 46% ABV and cost £125 (R2150)

Teeling_Single  Malt_21yo_The Smoky DramThis whisky contains some of the oldest Single Malt Irish whiskey ever bottled by the Teeling Whiskey Company. This Silver Reserve bottling consists of 21 Year Old Irish whiskey distilled in 1991 and matured firstly in Bourbon casks then allowed to marry in Sauterne wine casks (a first I believe for an Irish whiskey). Consisting of only hand selected casks chosen for their distinctive taste qualities this small batch bottling is limited to only 5,000 bottles.

Colour: Amber to deep gold with lovely thick and slow legs

Nose: Waxy, earthy, mushroom farm, smoky (fragrant) and peaty. Has an old character to it. Dark dried fruits (apricots), mint, salty, nutty, liquorice, damp wood, grape fruit pastilles (the sugared kind) and tropical fruits there are some of the seemingly characteristic winter spices (mostly cloves) but not as strong as the previous two. Ending with hint of pear drops, sweet toffee apple, braaied bananas and an old leather couch. A powerful nose.

Palate: Winter spice sweetness (cinnamon and ginger), wet antique wood, cedar, dark chocolate, dried fruits (predominately apricots) with a lovely smokiness. Slight braaied banana again, with liquorice, tropical fruits, honey & nuts and a sweet nuttiness. Palate is silky and smooth with an oily mouth feel, drying towards end. Richer and creamier than previous two whiskies.

Finish: Very warm ‘heart’, with long and lingering winter spiciness that has a sweet smokiness at the very end.

Tweet thoughts from Teeling Whiskey Company (@TeelingWhiskeyC):  

  • #Teelingwhiskey The music pairings for our Vintages are the the Dubliners my own favourites being the Auld Triangle or Raglan Road
  • #TeelingWhiskey also recent Thumbs Up winner in Ultra Premium category at the 2013 Malt Maniacs Awards
  • There is a small amount of peat in this one. It brings the start and finish together @irishbeersnob #TeelingWhiskey
  • #TeelingWhiskey the original mashbill contained some peated malt, was double distilled and matured in bourbon casks
  • #TeelingWhiskey the extra fruity twist comes for the extra maturation in Sauterne sweet wine casks
  • #TeelingWhiskey This is a very complex whiskey. When picking the casks I had to focus on the ones with a marzipan note in the middle.

Tweet thoughts from the other tweet tasters:  

  • It’s everywhere this one. Pineapple, salt, mint and ferns. #TeelingWhiskey – @EdinburghWhisky
  • 21 y/o Silver Reserve. Love the nose on this one, really powerful. White grapes, gooseberry and also, a hint of banana! #TeelingWhiskey – @whiskybars
  • It smells like I’m in the old wardrobe amongst the fur coats, waiting to walk through to Narnia. @TeelingWhiskeyC Magical! ##teelingwhiskey – @WhiskyDiscovKat
  • Wet dog (but a nice 1), leather, smoky like an old Irish man’s tweed jacket, tinned mackerel #TeelingWhiskey (wet dog courtesy of flatmate) – @eimearocarroll
  • The banana keeps on coming, this time with a little chilli and cumin. Luscious. #TeelingWhiskey – @LRWhisky
  • #teelingwhiskey 21 yo Palate – apricots, peaches, with honey, I gets some nuts towards the finish, with a final boost of smoke – @msykesjones
  • #TeelingWhiskey No 3 was right up my alley with its sea flavours and well matured and balanced palate. – @PWulf

 

Teeling Gold Reserve 26 Year Old 1987 Single Malt with 46% ABV and cost £440 (R7550)

Teeling_Single  Malt_26yo_The Smoky DramThis Gold bottling of 26 Year Old Irish Single Malt is limited to only 1,000 bottles and comes from a handful of casks selected for their unique quality. Double distilled in 1987 and initially matured in bourbon barrels for 25 years this whiskey is given extra maturation in French white Burgundy wine casks for a further 12 months.

Colour: Deep gold to slight burnished with many thick and slow legs

Nose: Sweet and fresh as well as floral and fragrant. Rocky and pebbly beach with a fine sea spray over it. Marzipan, granny smith apples, waxiness, hints of creamy spiciness, pear drops, vanilla, fruit crumble, boiled sweets and lemons. Dark chocolate coated Turkish delight, black currant wine gums, ginger biscuits, fragrant wood and almonds. With time it gets sweeter, richer and creamier. The nose is delicate, elegant and very complex.

Palate: Very smooth and drinkable with dark fruit pastilles/wine gums, sweet spiciness and sweet smokiness as well. There are berry fruits, strawberries, dried fruits, slight honey, some pencil shavings and strong but nice spiciness. Very oily and mouth coating. Palate is simply stunning and beautiful as well as light and delicate.

Finish: Very long, lingering and changing. Sweet spiciness to a light creaminess at end.

Tweet thoughts from Teeling Whiskey Company (@TeelingWhiskeyC): 

  • @TeelingWhiskeyC – #TeelingWhiskey the 26 YO is yet to hit the shelves and is not yet bottled. With release planned for 2014 you are getting sneak peek.
  • @TeelingWhiskeyC – #TeelingWhiskey This whiskey started life in an AB and had just a little fruit in the nose and the finish was not strong.
  • @TeelingWhiskeyC – #TeelingWhiskey So we put it in a White Burgundy cask to try and bring the ends together.
  • @TeelingWhiskeyC – #TeelingWhiskey What we didn’t expect was the fruit explosion that the WB casks released in the nose and taste.
  • @TeelingWhiskeyC – #TeelingWhiskey silky smooth tropical fruit punch or as Alex would say gummy bear milkshake!!
  • @TeelingWhiskeyC – #TeelingWhiskey we knew the 26 yo was special but blown away with the response

Tweet thoughts from the other tweet tasters:  

  • #TeelingWhiskey 26 yo. Nose – boiled candy cherries. Given the age, very light in colour… but long in legs. like a Rod Stewart ex – @b7ryn
  • There’s that same amazing Grilled Pineapple nose on this. Just amazing. #TeelingWhiskey – @MasterOfMalt
  • 26 Year Old Nose: A cornucopia of dried tropical fruits evolving now, papaya, pineapple, mango and coconut #TeelingWhiskey – @WhiskyDiscovery
  • This whisky just keeps giving…. Layer after layer. From oak, spice, tropical fruit to the tannins of grape skin. #TeelingWhiskey –@SteveRascal
  • 26 yr old is a taste EXPLOSION! Fruit, spice, slight smoke, sweet. WOW!! #TeelingWhiskey – @AlpacaJo
  • #TeelingWhiskey sweet, honey, fruit arrival delicate, mouth coating experience very different from the 21 YO tastes superb – @HMcnee

 

Final words

A wonderful introduction the Teeling range and I am really excited to see if more of it will come to the sunny shores of South Africa (though all the rain and load shedding the past few weeks have made it decidedly less sunny). I enjoyed seeing how the different wood finishes, together with the various time in the barrel, created such different expressions, yet with some similar characteristics (like the winter spiciness for me). This I am sure will allow you to find one from the Teeling range that you would really enjoy. For me my favourite from the tasting was the Teeling Gold Reserve 26 Year Old 1987 Single Malt.

A big thank you to Steve Rush from The Whisky Wire for hosting us (and the excellent music pairing) and to Teeling Whiskey for the wonderful Irish whiskies we got to sample. A final note of thanks, as always, to my fellow Tweet Tasters for making it an informative and entertaining tasting:

@TheWhiskyWire @TeelingWhiskeyC @StephenTeeling @LRWhisky @EdinburghWhisky @MasterOfMalt @WhiskyDiscovery @champdenwhite @WorldWhiskyDay @HMcnee @eimearocarroll @Alpacajo @kizzsmyth @SohoWhiskyClub @WhiskyDiscovKat @msykesjones @MCRWhiskyClub @b7ryn @SteveRascal @Dr4key @irishbeersnob @thomas_speller @PWulf @Girl_Whisky @DH17slijterij @whiskybars

Sláinte
Edward

Ardmore Traditional Cask

Finally back from my annual holiday and now off to the Highlands of Scotland for my next review. This time I am off to Ardmore, which means ‘big headland’ in Gaelic. They are located at the edge of the Grampian mountains and they were founded in 1898 Adam Teacher.

Ardmore_Traditional Cask _NAS_The Smoky DramWhiskey: Ardmore Traditional Cask, 46% ABV

Region: Highland, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: NAS

 

As stated earlier, Ardmore was founded in 1898, during one of the industry booms that occurred at the end of the 19th century. The Ardmore whisky distillery still has its own cooperage for the production and repair of casks. They are, apparently, now the only Highland distillery that insists on fully peating their standard malt. Most put the PPM at between 12 and 14. Most of the whisky the distillery produces is still reserved for the Teacher’s blends.

The ‘Traditional Cask’ is double fermented, first in the usual oak casks but then for a second time in much smaller hand crafted “Quarter Casks”. These smaller casks were fairly common a hundred years ago but have been largely ignored due to their high cost of construction. This intense secondary maturation gives the deeper flavour that their whisky is known for.

Colour: Bright deep gold with medium to thick legs.

Nose: Seaside character of salt and seaweed, but not overtly so. There is also a vanilla and cream sweet spiciness about it. Clean and fresh with a herbal and baked sweet pie/bread character. Some of that lovely peaty smokiness is around in the background always, but not in an overt or overpowering manner.

Palate: after an initial hot and ginger spicy burst on your tongue it tapers off to some sweet wood spice, creamy vanilla sweetness and a lovely gentle peaty smokiness that coats your tongue and mouth. Like the nose, the palate is clean and fresh, with a lovely mix between the smoke and sweet characters.

Finish: Medium and warm with subdued lingering spiciness and soft smokiness with sweetish end.

Overall: If you are used to typical Islay peated malts, then this is an interesting variation to try. It has the smokiness that would expect from a peated malt, but it is a gentle and background smoke that intermingles quite nicely with the sweet characters.

Longmorn 18yo

Next up is a bit of a rare 18yo, well rare as an OB (original bottling) at least. As my previous review was of the Chivas Regal 18yo, I have decided to review one of the single malts that goes into the Chivas Regal 18yo blend, namely the Longmorn 18yo. I was fortunate to taste this whisky at a Chivas Regal tasting held at the WhiskyBrother shop.

Longmorn_18yo_Chivas Brothers_The Smoky DramWhiskey: Longmorn 18yo, 40% ABV

Region: Speyside, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: 18 years

 

Longmorn was founded in 1893 by John Duff, who had founded the Glenlossie distillery two decades earlier, and production began around December 1894. The Longmorn and the BenRiach distilleries (which he built next to Longmorn) were both were affected by the collapse of wholesale buyers Pattison, Elder and Co. in 1898. The Longmorn Distilleries Company Ltd. then passed through a variety of ownerships. In 2001 Chivas Brothers was acquired by the French Pernod Ricard Group.

John Duff also has an interesting South African connection. After about a decade at Glenlossie John and his family emigrated to South Africa with plans to start a new distillery in the then Transvaal. John invested large sums of money in what would most likely of been the first malt whisky distillery on the African continent, but his plans were obstructed by the then South African president Paul Kruger as he had an aversion against anything British.

Colour: Rich deep gold colour with very many slow thick legs.

Nose: Interesting start of soap and leather before one gets into vanilla with some creamy toffee notes.   Once past the sweet notes you are met with olives (olive oil), some fresh sweet grass/hay and yellow flowers. A lovely layered, clean and fragrant nose that has great depth, complexity and richness to it.

Palate: White pepper and clove spiciness (front of tongue) starts you off on this extremely rich and intricate palate. Green fields, vegetal earthiness and green olives introduce themselves as the creamy butteryness with some vanilla joins the party. Appealing damp woody smokiness is also to be found. A remarkable palate with a thick mouth coating oiliness to it.

Finish: Very long, smooth and warming with flavour and spiciness all the way to end.

Overall: A stimulatingly intricate dram that has a splendid balance to it. This is a dram that you are meant to spend time on to full appreciate what is happening is the glass.

Chivas Regal 18yo Gold Signature

Time to get back to my reviews of 18 year old whisky and this time it is of a blended scotch whisky that has an age statement. Here are my views on the Chivas Regal 18yo (aka Gold Signature). Chivas Regal’s home is Strathisla Distillery at Keith, Moray in Speyside, Scotland. Strathisla is the oldest working Highland distillery which was founded in 1786.

Chivas Regal_18yo_The Smoky DramWhiskey: Chivas Regal 18yo Gold Signature, 43% ABV (Cost around R900)

Region: Speyside, Scotland

Style: Blended Scotch Whisky

Age: 18 years

Chivas Regal is a blended Scotch whisky that is produced by Chivas Brothers. Chivas Brothers can trace their roots back to the opening of a grocery store at 13 King St, Aberdeen in 1801. This grocery store sold luxury foodstuffs such as coffee, exotic spices, French brandies and Caribbean rums to a wealthy clientele. In 1842, Chivas Brothers was retained to supply provisions to the royal family at Balmoral Castle upon Queen Victoria’s first visit to Scotland.

The Chivas 18 year old is a blend that includes over 20 single malts from around Scotland, all who have been whiskies that were matured for at least 18 years, including the Strathisla Single Malt. Apparently there are 85 flavour notes in the Chivas Regal 18 year old.

Colour: Bright dark burnished gold to amber with many very thick legs.

Nose: Banana, dried fruits (xmas cake) and slight dark chocolate. Wonderfully rich with a butteryness to it that is accentuated with some toffee, caramel and honeyed sweetness, This is followed by a slight sweet smokiness and touch of ginger spiciness. Quite a balanced and pleasing nose.

Palate: A lovely smooth and full mouth feel greets you. There is spiciness and a sweet smokiness to it, with some richness and dried fruits. Mellow and warm drinking, with dark chocolate and a tongue tingling spiciness (sweet ginger) rounding out the palate. I do find some more individual flavour and depth to it.

Finish: Medium to long. Warm, dried fruits and spicy flavours that stay around.

Overall: I find the Chivas Regal 18yo a well-balanced and very easy drinking whisky, an almost too easy drinking whisky.

WhiskyBrother Online Tasting – Twitter Tasting (#WBOT)

I may be a bit late to the party here (see my previous post for reason), but at least this post is still within the same year! So here is my totally true account of what happened at the first ever whisky Tweet Tasting in South Africa, namely the WhiskyBrother Online Tasting, hosted by Marc Pendlebury (aka @WhiskyBrother) at the WhiskyBrother Shop (@WhiskyBroShop) in Hyde Park Shopping Centre in Johannesburg on the 16th April 2014.

WhiskyBrother_Banner_WBOT_The Smoky Dram

The selected lab rats (or should that rather be distillery rats?) for this little Twitter tasting experience, including myself (@TheSmokyDram), were:

WhiskyBrother_Twitter_The Smoky DramWhiskyBrother
@WhiskyBroShop
kojobaffoe_Twitter_The Smoky DramKojo Baffoe
@kojobaffoe
WhiskyGeekSA_Twitter_The Smoky Dram@WhiskyGeekSA AmandaSevasti_Twitter_The Smoky DramAmanda Sevasti
@AmandaSevasti
TheDramDog_Twitter_The Smoky DramBruce Clark
@TheDramDog
Fenyi_Twitter_The Smoky DramOfentse Ruele
@Fenyi
jndub_Twitter_The Smoky DramJacques Du Bruyn
@jndub
ncallegari_Twitter_The Smoky DramNicolas Callegari
@ncallegari
whiskyoftheweek_Twitter_The Smoky DramJohn & Jeanette Wentzel
@whiskyoftheweek
fr1day_Twitter_The Smoky DramMark Hughes
@fr1day

Each of the participants received their four whisky samples, beautifully packaged and that were “hand-crafted in small batches”, put together personally by Marc.

WhiskyBrother_Whisky_The Smoky Dram

Three of the samples were for the official tweet tasting on the evening, while the fourth “mystery dram” was for us to drink and enjoy at our convenience. Though for some people the temptation was too great (*cough* Nic *cough*) and it was consumed on the same evening.

Most tweet tasting are enjoyed from the comfort of your own home, but three brave souls decided to join Marc in store and do the tweet tasting from there. Nic, Kojo and myself were there to give Marc some moral support, enjoy a Locke’s 8yo palate cleanser and to launch Nic’s ‘The Crème Cracker Test’ © 2014 (patent pending).

WhiskyBrother_Shop_WBOT_The Smoky Dram.

As there were no particular formalities on the night, with the only exception being the use of the #WBOT hashtag for all tweets, we were encouraged to be as geeky as we wanted to (Harry Potter fans not withstanding). This lead to some interesting moments and tweets, as you will see below. For each whisky Marc provided a tweet or two with further details before we delved into the nose, palate and finish of the whisky with everyone giving their thoughts. So without a further ado, onto the whiskies that was enjoyed.

 

Kilkerran – Work In Progress 4, NAS with 46% ABV

Kilkerran_Work In Progress 4_The Smoky DramBased in Campbeltown, Kilkerran is derived from the Gaelic ‘Ceann Loch Cille Chiarain’ which is the name of the original settlement where Saint Kerran had his religious cell and where Campbeltown currently stands. The Glengyle distiller (where Kilkerran is produced) was founded in 1872, but closed in 1925. On the 7 March 2004 the distillery reopened, the first in Campbeltown for 125 plus years, and distilled its first spirit again.

Since 2009 the Glengyle distillery started to release their whisky to show the development of the young whisky, hence the name of “Work in Progress”. With that in mind it seems as each new progress release gains a year in maturation, making the Work in Progress 4 around eight years old. It was released in 2012 with only 9000 bottles available worldwide.

Colour: Deep old gold with thick slow legs

Nose: Slightly bready with strong overtones of orange marmalade on toast. There is also a slight hint of stewed pear and burnt sugar as well. The sweetness continues with vanilla and syrup. Background has some sharpness and spiced oranges.

Palate: Starts off with a crisp sweet spiciness, followed by sweet cream, fudge and custard. The middle to back palate has wood spice, touch of pepper with hint citrus fruits. The addition of some water opens it up to more sweetness and cinnamon spiciness.

Finish: That sweet spiciness again with lingering warm cinnamon and nutmeg spiciness with liquorice at the very end.

Nic’s ‘The Crème Cracker Test': “Closest I could get to toast was the Crème crackers on the table. Not a good pairing. Consume separately.” & “The “WIP4″ stands for “Work in progress 4″. Okes, job done. Bottle that sucker and sell it. But not with Crème Crackers.”

Tweet thoughts from the other distillery rats:  

  • Nose of the #Kilkerran – really pleasant on the nose. Hints of maple syrup/honey. #WBOT – @Fenyi
  • First dram #Kilkerran, beautiful gold in colour, get some orange on the nose #WBOT – @jndub
  • #WBOT Kilkerran WIP 4 Also getting jam or marmalade on the nose, still lots of fresh wood, hint of spice – @WhiskyGeekSA
  • #WBOT #1 vanilla, fresh fruit & oak. Mild spice. Nice body – @whiskyoftheweek
  • #Kilkerran nose: Quite spirituous, alcohol is a bit evident. Probably do well with a drop of water. Some white grape. #WBOT – @WhiskyBroShop
  • Marmalade! I want to dip a piece of toast in this dram! #kilkerran #wbot – @ncallegari
  • Kilkerran WIP4 Palate: Wood spices reminiscent of burnt tinder and cloves, with luscious sweetness kicking in right after #WBOT – @fr1day
  • I like the Kilkerran with a little water. Makes it gently & strangely fuller. Less of a spicy bite #WBOT – @kojobaffoe
  • #WBOT nice long finish with plenty of space at the end – @thedramdog
  • A beautiful long finish which is where the spices really shine. I wasn’t kidding about having hot cross buns with this! #Kilkerran #WBOT – @AmandaSevasti

 

Arran – Port Cask Finish, NAS with 50% ABV

Arran_Port Cask_The Smoky DramAs we all know the oak casks used to mature whisky in are influential to the development of flavour of said whisky. A final and shorter maturation, known as finishing, has become a fairly common place practice these days (since the early 1990’s). Finishing is where the whisky is emptied from its original cask into another cask (of different origin) to add additional flavours.

After initially maturing in traditional ex-bourbon oak casks for approximately 8 years, the Arran Single Malt in this review was finished in the highest quality Port wine casks. Arran’s Master Distiller, James MacTaggart, carefully monitored the period of secondary maturation to ensure the perfect balance is struck between the Port casks and the intrinsic sweet-fruity character of The Arran Malt. This expression was released in 2010.

Colour: Burnished to tawny with long thick legs

Nose: Nutty with dried fruits (trial mix) and some citrus fruits mixed in as well. There is a vanilla sweet dustiness about it mixed in with some caramel. Raisins, winter spices and Xmas cake with cinnamon round out the port part of the nose. Has some woodiness as well with a red berry like character.

Palate: Classic spicy and oily, with fruit (of the stewed variety) and spice combined plus some maltiness thrown in for good measure. Not to mention fruit cake and raisins as well. Water softens it to reveal brown sugar, salty & savoury, citrus fruit spiciness, sweets, dried fruit and cinnamon again.

Finish: Very long and lusty showing the wood and port influence.

Nic’s ‘The Crème Cracker Test': “Ok. Crème Cracker test. Much better pairing. If all you can afford this month is this whisky & Crème crackers, life is good.”

Tweet thoughts from the other distillery rats:  

  • I love The Arran caramel-peach colour with a touch of blush. Reminds me of my favourite eyeshadow. #WBOT – @AmandaSevasti
  • #WBOT @Arranwhisky Port Cask Nose: unusual… raisins, slight vanilla, butter, sherbert – @WhiskyGeekSA
  • fruits, chocolate and some sea air #WBOT – @jndub
  • @Arranwhisky Port Cask Nose: Nutty character, apple peel, caramel and a whiff of dessert wine #OBS anyone? ;-) #WBOT – @fr1day
  • Sip. Pour more. Sip. Holy crap this stuff is good. Nuts…in and around my mouth. #arran #wbot- @ncallegari
  • Arran Port Cask palette is soft with honey and jam, some spice and an elegant oily texture #WBOT – @thedramdog
  • #WBOT #2. .@Arranwhisky Palette not as sweet as expected. Fruit cake, dried fruit and spice. We think finish has notes of spice and pepper – @whiskyoftheweek
  • Water has definitely developed the sweet palate of arran port cask.. #WBOT – @Fenyi
  • With a dash of water, sweet and comfortable. It lingers wonderfully. Taste buds do a slight shudder #WBOT – @kojobaffoe
  • @Arranwhisky finish: Slight wood bitterness but then countered with the fruit sweetness. Cereal (barley) notes now. #WBOT – @WhiskyBroShop
  • Advantage of tasting at home – I have Lindt in my cupboard. RT @jndub: #WBOT the Arran will go nicely with some dark chocolate in the mouth – @AmandaSevasti

We even had a tweet from the distillery itself, @Arranwhisky – Love all your comments folks, pleased to see the port Finish going down well! #WBOT

 

Octomore 6.1, 5yo with 57% ABV Scottish Barley

Octomore 6.1_The Smoky DramMost of the heavily-peated whiskies, from the likes of Ardbeg or Laphroaig, have a phenol measure around 50 parts per million (ppm). This Octomore is an astounding 167ppm! One would think that with such an extremely high phenol count it would be so smoky and one-dimensional with little else on offer. That assumption, in this case, is wrong. Though there is that abundance of that beautiful peat smoke, there is also a myriad of other flavours and complexities. That said, it still remains an acquired taste.

Produced by Bruichladdich and released in annual limited batches, 18,000 bottles were released worldwide of the 6.1, this whisky has built up quite the cult following. It is finally available for the first time in South Africa and I know quite a number of peat lovers, myself included, who welcomed this little gem into their collection.

Colour: Deep gold to old gold with very thick and lovely legs.

Nose: Beautiful peat smoke with seaweed, sea salt spray and freshly ground black pepper. There are hints of lemon in the background together with iodine and some burnt fruit cake. It’s like sitting next to a burnt out wood fire at a seaside harbour.

Palate: Simply stunning, with thick treacle/molasses and that lovely peat smokiness that is further interspersed with sea spray saltiness and seaweed that smacks you around some. Sweet oak, freshly ground black pepper and lemon zest backing up the rest of the palate. It’s like licking an alligator charred burnt log* – not that I have tried. Really, I haven’t.

Finish: Very long and lingering, wrapping your mouth in warm sweet smokiness.

Nic’s ‘The Crème Cracker Test': “Octtomore Crème Cracker test: *koff* uh…no.” with a reply from Kojo “<- ::looking through watery eyes:: emphatic no.”

* It is hazardous to your health, and not to mention your taste buds, to lick an alligator charred burnt log. It is hazardous for your taste buds as you may develop a taste for it and need to supplement that craving that only Octomore can fill!

Tweet thoughts from the other distillery rats:

  • Now for sample 3. Looks and sounds like a Bond villain. #Octomore 6.1. #wbot – @ncallegari
  • #WBOT #3. OMG. PEAT and as you get up off the ground – boom, more PEAT. Iodine, TCP, medicinal. Classic Islay :) – @whiskyoftheweek
  • #WBOT @Bruichladdich Ocotomore 6.1 Nose : Crisp smoke, salt, bacon, bbq’d meats…now we’re talking!! – WhiskyGeekSA
  • This is some seriously powerful peatiness.. Reluctant to try it with water though. Octomore. #WBOT – @Fenyi
  • @WhiskyBroShop I’m getting some burnt fruit cake on the nose with smoking spices on a weber, a 56cm weber to be exact ;) #WBOT – @jndub
  • @Bruichladdich #Octomore 6.1 Palate: Strolling along the Islay coast, rotting seaweed, marine air, heather and a damp bonfire #WBOT – @fr1day
  • .@Bruichladdich #Octomore 6.1 Palate; CAUTION: Do not exhale near smoke detectors! I did and mine exploded ;) #WBOT – @fr1day
  • I feel like Harry Potter just did a smoke spell in my mouth. #Octomore #WBOT – @AmandaSevasti
  • #Octomore finish: It’s rugged & rough but beautiful & serene at the same time. Like sitting on next to the sea as a storm comes in. #WBOT – @WhiskyBroShop
  • Add water to the #octomore and have a sip. Or pour water on a braai and inhale. Whatevs. Same same. #eishwena #wbot – @ncallegari
  • I could happily sit on my patio on a winter’s night with a deep glass of the #Octomore & solve the world’s problems @Bruichladdich #WBOT – @kojobaffoe
  • #Octomore 6.1 Quote “Like a woman with a whip. You have to approach cautiously!” #WBOT – @TheSmokyDram

 

“Mystery Dram”

Was meant to be enjoyed at our own time, but some were just too eager, as shown by the following exchange:

So…what’s the deal with the mystery dram? Now or now now? @WhiskyBroShop #wbot – @ncallegari

I snuck a knertsjie of the Mystery Dram. Light. No smoke. Full of vanilla. Like hot ice cream. What is it @WhiskyBroShop? #wbot – @ncallegari

@ncallegari The mystery dram is a… <close your eyes fellow #WBOT members>… @glenfarclas 12yo – @WhiskyBroShop

You can read my review of this whisky here.

Final words
It was a great first South African tweet tasting experience with a cracking selection from WhiskyBrother Marc. A very big thank you has to go out to Marc Pendlebury from WhiskyBrother Shop, not only for hosting us, but putting up with the deluge of questions and geekiness from us. Further thanks are also needed for Kilkerran, Arran and Bruichladdich (Octomore) for making the brilliant whiskies that they do.My favourite from the tasting was the Octomore 6.1 and it seemed to be the favourite for the majority of the tasters. That being said all three are brilliant whiskies in their own right and for different instances. So Marc, the question we all have now is when is the next one?

I will leave the final word for Marc – “Again, thank you all so much! It has been a pleasure and honour having you be part of our, & #SouthAfrica’s, first online tasting! :) #WBOT”

Sláinte
Edward

Glenfarclas 12yo

From Ireland we travel back to Scotland for my thoughts on the Glenfarclas 12yo. The single malt whiskies of Glenfarclas are matured almost solely in sherry butts. Interesting to note is that the Glenfarclas 12yo was originally bottled for export and travel retail markets.

Glenfarclas_12yo_The Smoky DramWhiskey: Glenfarclas 12yo, 43% ABV (Cost around R500)

Region: Speyside, Scotland

Style: Single Malt

Age: 12 years

Glenfarclas, meaning Glen of the Green Grassland, was founded by Robert Hay in 1836 where on the original site there is some evidence that there was a distillery on the site over a century prior since 1797.

The single malt whiskies of Glenfarclas are aged in the considerable onsite warehousing facilities; the 28 warehouses hold 52,000 casks with stock from every year from 1952 to the current year. The whisky distillery has an extensive range of single malt whiskies, particularly so after the 2007 release of the Family Casks range with a bottling from every vintage between 1952 and 1994.

Colour: Deep amber gold with very many thick, slow and long legs.

Nose: Polished wood (pine wood polish), citrus fruits, raisins and dried fruits. There are hints of smoky creaminess with some medicinal notes, caramel (crème caramels) sweetness and a touch of spiciness. A rather delicate, smooth and light nose.

Palate: Medium to full bodied with a lovely sweet, spicy and smoky character. Medicinal, but not Laphroaig like, almost earthy. Has a sharp bite upfront but mellow out with melon, sherry notes and a whisper of smokiness.

Finish: Long, spicy and warm with a sweet smokiness at end.

Overall: A great introduction to the Glenfarclas range. I find the 12yo to be a rather well balanced and put together whisky. Quite a gentle and elegant whisky.

Why whisky and flux capacitors do not mix

IT’S ALIVE! IT’S ALIVE!

Oh, wait. I am getting my movies mixed up. GREAT SCOTT(ish whisky)! The time circuits must have malfunctioned! I blame my absence from my blog on flux capacitor malfunction.

Flux Capacitor_The Smoky Dram

There I was, happily traipsing through time looking for those now-hard-to-get-bottles (Ardbeg Supernova 2014 Edition anyone?) when they are not so hard to get, when trying to get home to my own time I ran out of plutonium 252! Needlessly I could not generate the needed 1.21 gigawatts of electricity to power the flux capacitor.

Lucky for me I still had a nip or two of Octomore 6.1 in my trusty hip flask. Surely the 167ppm would be more than powerful enough to kick the flux capacitor into action? Well I found out that it did not, just as my stainless steel encased ox-wagon was about to hit 88 miles per hour (or 141.6 km/h for those who have not seen the trilogy yet), and as you can see below I fell just short of my timeline.

Time Circuits_Flux Capacitor_The Smoky Dram

So it took just little longer than expected to get back to my own time again (again), maybe one should not program the time circuits after a nip or three from the hip flask? So now that I am back, hopefully with no more temporal excursion anomalies, some things to look forward to on The Smoky Dram blog:

  • The first SA tweet tasting with Marc of WhiskyBrother (@WhiskyBrother) and WhiskyBrother store (@WhiskyBroShop).
  • Other twitter tastings and events I have been privileged to be part of
  • More musings, more whisky news (mostly via my twitter feed –  @TheSmokyDram) and even more reviews!

So until then, happy dramming! 
Sláinte
Edward

The Smoky Dram Whisky Blog

Jameson 18yo Limited Reserve

Onwards with my reviews of 18 year old whisky and this time it is a short jump from Scotland to Ireland for my thoughts on the Jameson 18yo Limited Reserve. This whiskey is for at least 18 years in hand selected American bourbon barrels and European oak casks, and are finished in first fill bourbon barrels.

Jameson_18_Irish Whiskey_The Smoky DramWhiskey: Jameson 18yo, 43% ABV (Cost around R1300)

Region: Ireland

Style: Single Malt

Age: 18 years

The story of Jameson’s whiskey started on the 5th of October 1740 when John Jameson was born to a family whose motto, ‘Sine Metu’ (‘Without Fear’), was awarded to them for their bravery in battling pirates on the high seas in the 1500’s.

When John Jameson acquired the Bow Street Distillery in 1780 it was producing about 30,000 gallons annually. By the turn of the 19th century, it was the second largest producer in Ireland and one of the largest in the world, producing 1,000,000 gallons annually. Dublin at the time was the centre of world whiskey production. It was the second most popular spirit in the world after rum and internationally Jameson had by 1805 become the world’s number one whiskey. Today, Jameson is the world’s third largest single-distillery whiskey.

Originally one of the six main Dublin Whiskeys, Jameson is now distilled in Cork. In 2013, annual sales topped 4 million cases (48 million bottles).

Colour: Deep gold (old to burnished) with many thick, long and slow legs.

Nose: Black currant fruit pastilles, fruity – dark berries with more sweetness in the form of toffee, milk tart and toasted marshmallows. More tempered sweetness in some sweet and spicy wood with sweet spiciness (nutmeg) coming through as well. An absolutely beautiful and fragrant nose.

Palate: Spicy fruity burst on tip of tongue followed by grape and black currant fruit pastilles and rounding out with some nuttiness. Some of that toffee and spiciness still around. Complex with a very smooth and mellow mouth feel that has a sweet lining of black currant.

Finish: Fairly long with the spiciness and toffee sweetness that carries you to the spicy warm end. A fantastic finish, it is incredible going down.

Overall: A very well rounded and fairly complex whiskey that is exceptionally smooth with a beautiful fragrant nose and palate that delivers lovely sweet spiciness and dark berry flavours.