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.

My Score: 83

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.

My Score: 84

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.

My Score: 87

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.

My Score: 89

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

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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.

My Score: 83

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.

My Score: 84

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.

My Score: 91

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

Highland Park Warrior Series – Twitter Tasting (#HPWarriorTT)

I took part in my first ever tweet tasting on 11th November 2013 with a tasting of the entire Warrior Series from Highland Park. So you may be asking, “So what exactly is a tweet tasting”? Simply put, a tweet tasting is where a selected number of tasters (with twitter accounts naturally) are sent sample portions of whisky. They are then tasted together online via twitter on a pre-determined date and time, with the participants tweeting their thoughts and comments, together with a hashtag (in this case #HPWarriorTT) to make the following of the tasting easier.

Highland Park_ Warrior TTThis twitter tasting was put together and hosted by Steve Rush from The Whisky Wire (@TheWhiskyWire and their main tweet tasting account @TweetTastings). We were also joined by Daryl Haldane (@DarylHaldane) Highland Park’s Global Brand Advocate.

The Warrior Series

The Warrior Series is a range of six single malts whiskies showcasing the very best of Highland Park. Offering a spectrum of flavours but grounded in Highland Park’s gently smoky but surprisingly sweet character. Highland Park has strong Viking roots and this is celebrated throughout the collection.

Highland Park_Warriors

The Warrior Series is exclusively produced for the Travel Retail market, also known as duty-free to some. As you move up the series there is an increase in the quantity of European oak sherry seasoned casks used. Throughout the tasting Daryl sent out images to make it easier to see the percentage of European oak sherry versus American casks used to mature each expression. Below is the summary graphic showing these various levels on wood used.

Highland Park_Warrior Wood Percentage

And now onto my thoughts and notes from the tweet tasting.

Highland Park Warrior Series – ‘Svein’, NAS with 40% ABV and cost €40.00 (R600)

Highland Park_Svein_The Smoky DramSvein has been created to mirror the hospitable and generous nature of many of the Viking leaders, including its namesake. Svein can best be described as the ultimate Viking chieftain and his spirit lives on through this release. Possessing a steely and ruthless determination alongside a fiery temper, Svein’s exploits lie at the very heart of the Orkneyinga Saga, his appetite for adventure and merriment are legendary. As well as being a hardened, battle-scarred warrior, Svein’s reputation for hospitality showed no bounds.

Svein was produced using a high percentage of American oak but also European oak casks. 30% was first fill American Sherry casks and 10% European oak first fill. The remainder was refill casks.

Colour: Yellow gold with thick legs.

Nose: Very fresh, clean and crisp (refreshing). Citrus fruits, chocolate, pineapple and slight winter spices is what I picked up at first. With some time I also got raisin, slight red fruit, honey and slight herbal. Lovely gentle yet peaty smoke. Has a woodiness, almost green character, about it.

Palate: Smoky, but a sweet and spicy smokiness, followed by sawdust floor and a honey sweetness. There is also some intense zesty orange infused very dark chocolate on the palate. Smoky but with a spicy kick (especially on the tip of ones tongue) with an intriguing mix of pepper and sweet spiciness. Has a sweet, rich and smooth mouth feel.

Finish: The finish is a spicy affair with white pepper and it then lingers with that gentle smoke. Spicy and warm, lingering, white pepper upfront but it is the sweet/spicy, yet gentle smoke that lingers most.

My Score: 83

 
Highland Park Warrior Series – ‘Einar’, NAS with 40% ABV and cost €53 (R790)

Highland Park_Einar_The Smoky DramEinar has been crafted as a tribute to one of the most feared and ruthless Vikings of his time. Einar was a hard and successful Viking, often venturing on treacherous long voyages. Relentless and strong, Einar was easily identified by his axe, which was sharp and brutal, reflecting his fierce character, an example of which can be seen on the packaging of this expression.

This bottling exudes many of Einar’s character traits: unrelenting in its flavour it delivers a surprisingly direct smokiness which is coupled with a darker inner layer of spice, driven by a proportion of whisky matured in European oak casks. It is produced using both American and European oak casks, increasing the percentage of European oak used, with the largest percentage still being American oak.

Colour: Yellow to old gold with very thick legs 

Nose: Dried fruits drenched in sweet golden syrup. Warmer spices, again with upfront citrus fruits and woodiness and that gentle peat smoke drifting across in the background. Caramel fudge, darker autumn fruits, slight liquorice and dark chocolate notes. Gets sweeter with time.

Palate: Upfront smoke but the sweet and hot spiciness follows it very quickly. Citrus notes with warm spices and dark chocolate again. Chocolate coated raisins, white pepper, cigar smoke, ‘hot’ spice on while tongue, leather, apricots, nutmeg and hints of vanilla.

Finish: Sweet apricot on finish, but it is the smokiness that lingers the longest with some sweet spiciness at the very end. Some dry woodiness in there as well.

My Score: 86

 
Highland Park Warrior Series – ‘Harald’, NAS with 40% ABV and cost €75 (R1100)

Highland Park_Harald_The Smoky DramCelebrated through this release, King Harald was famed for his army, which was revered across the world at that time. The most feared of his troops were known as ‘berserkers’. Described as intrepid heroes, they carried bloody shields used for hacking through their enemies. Such was the importance of the shield in growing King Harald’s global influence that it adorns the packaging.

Considered, intelligent and undoubtedly regal, this whisky shows not only an inner balance but also an assertive oaky side, combining a generous proportion of both American and highly prized European oak casks. The oak usage here is close to a 50-50 split of not only first fill and refill casks, but also almost a 50-50 split between European and American oak.

Colour: Old gold with very thick legs. 

Nose: Get the sweetness before the smoke, with the sweetness being a ginger toffee sweet. Vanilla, warm spices (ginger), sweet dried fruit with peat smoke in the background. Ginger biscuits dipped in syrup, dark Toblerone chocolate, burnt fudge, wood, and spiced apple/berry tart with a faint herbal/green character. A richer and more intense nose that takes some time to develop.

Palate: Soft initially with warming and sweet spices. It is much gentler than expected from the nose.  Nuts, nougat sweetness and a backbone of gentle smoke throughout the palate. Nutmeg, oak, winter spices, savoury nuttiness, ginger citrus, dark chocolate, creamy, cinnamon and some lovely pepper notes round out the palate.

Finish: Medium in length with citrus spiciness and some dark chocolate nuances. Has a lovely ginger snap at the very end.

My Score: 84

                                                       
Highland Park Warrior Series – ‘Sigurd’, NAS with 43% ABV and cost €150 (R2200)

Highland Park_Sigurd_The Smoky Dram

Sigurd is considered amongst the strongest and most courageous warriors, and ultimately one of the most feared Viking earls featured in the Orkneyinga Saga.

 

As we are moving up the expression there is a higher percentage of European oak in relation to American oak. Also there is a high percentage of first fill sherry casks used.

 

Colour: Old to deep gold with thick legs. 

Nose:  Xmas cake fruit mix soaked in some brandy. Mixed fruit chocolate bar, dark chocolate, winter spices, cherries and some zesty pine notes. Also warm desserts, raisins, vanilla, dark fruits, nutmeg and heather smoke. Has a rich thickness and creaminess to it.

Palate: Syrupy and sweet feel in the mouth with a very warming spiciness that tingles ones tongue. Also get a lovely full creaminess that covers your tongue. Still has that lovely gentle, subtle smoke in the background. Vanilla, dark chocolate, grain with hint of citrus (lemon), oily, brown sugar and dark chocolate with cherry filling. Balanced and well-rounded.

Finish: Smoky maple syrup finish with sweet and tingling spices (cinnamon).

My Score: 85 

 Highland Park Warrior Series – ‘Ragnvald’, NAS with 44.6% ABV and cost €400 (R5900)

Highland Park_Ragnvald_The Smoky DramRagnvald, arguably the most famous and pioneering of all Vikings to enter unchartered waters, was most at home aboard his longship undertaking his many great expeditions throughout the Middle East and even Asia.  Earl Rognvald was the founder of St Magnus Cathedral.

From the earlier graphic we can deduce that there is around 75% European oak used in this expression, with American oak carrying the remainder.

 

Colour: Deep gold to burnished with thick slow legs. 

Nose: Sweet with subtle ginger and cinnamon spices. Has a herbaceousness about it. Sweet baked desserts (like brandy pudding). Pear drops with some Christmas cake and brandy tart. Just opened cigar box. Dark chocolate, deep wood, dark berries and smoke. Rich and lovely.

Palate: Complex. Warm spices (ginger and nutmeg) together with very dark chocolate and dried fruits. Quite drying with thick syrup mouth feel that coats ones mouth. A very intense palate – spicy on the tip and sides of ones tongue. Smoky, dark fruits, smooth, maple syrup, Christmas like and cooking brown sugar round out the palate.

Finish: Lovely sweet and spicy smokiness that just goes on and on and on.

My Score: 88

Highland Park Warrior Series – ‘Thorfinn’, NAS with 45.1% ABV and cost €1000 (R14800)

Highland Park_Thorfinn_The Smoky DramThorfinn was a man of much power and influence, who at one stage controlled the whole of the Orkney Islands. The Orkneyinga Saga described him as a great chief, the tallest and strongest of men whose remains are buried in St Magnus Cathedral on Orkney.

 

Once again there is an increasing percentage of first fill sherry casks (around 60%) and an even higher proportion of European oak to American oak.

Colour: Burnished gold to russetmuscat with lovely thick and slow legs. 

Nose: Herbal, fruity and an interesting mix of chocolate and syrup. Also has a sweet and floral spiciness to it.  More herbal/green upfront while being clean and fresh. Crème brûlée, slight citrus fruits with that gentle smoke as always in the background. Thick vanilla creaminess, marzipan, wood (cedar and eucalyptus) and pineapple. The  nose develops over time and is ever-changing. It is intense, complex and interesting.

Palate: Intense and beautiful, while being very complex and well-balanced. Herbal with an almost mint like freshness. “Old” character with winter styled spices and citrus notes. Spicy, eucalyptus, honey sweet, raisins, autumn fruits, Christmas spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger), dark cherries, dried fruits and chocolate. Very smooth and drinks easily, yet has  wonderful depth to it.

Finish: Very, very long and spicy (sweet and warm) with some dryness and that lovely gentle fragrant smoke.

My Score: 89

 

Final words

A really cracking range from Highland Park in my opinion. I enjoyed seeing how the various percentages of wood types used created such different (yet with some similar characteristics) expressions. I felt that it would allow one to find one of the warrior’s that you really enjoyed. For me my favourite from the series was Einar. It was closely followed by Thorfinn.

I really also enjoyed the marketing of the Warrior series, delving into the Viking history and using famous warriors from the Orkneyinga Saga not only for the naming of the various expressions, but also to that which was strongly associated with the whiskies’ namesake beings used to adorn the packaging.

It was a great first tweet tasting experience. A very big thank you to Steve Rush from The Whisky Wire for hosting us, Daryl Haldane Highland Park’s Global Brand Advocate for being patient enough to answer all of our questions and to Highland park for the wonderful warrior whiskies. A final note of thanks also to my fellow Tweet Tasters for making it an informative and entertaining tasting:

@WhiskyDiscovery @scotslarder @WhiskyRepublic @WindsorBeerFest @LRWhisky @kristianehenney @TheWhiskyKiwi @abbeywhisky @TonyWTC @idle_bull @FrazerJ @kizzsmyth @steveprentice @galg @TheSmokyDram @caskfinishcom @whiskywardrobe @timstasting @LaCaveDeCobalt @ansgarspeller

Sláinte
Edward