Friday, 4 April 2014

Teeling Whiskey Company - Tweet Tasting Review

Towards the end of last month the Celtic Whiskey Club, again, took to the world of Twitter to host a rather special tweet tasting.  This was done in conjunction with The Teeling Whiskey Company as they provided 3 unreleased drams for our enjoyment and consideration.  Teeling Whiskey joined in with the tweet tasting to gauge the feedback as the drams they had provided are potential future releases.

Absolutely nothing was given away prior to the event apart from info on the sample bottles advising all participants that each dram was a single malt.  On the night itself, though, some more info was given away by Teeling's Alex Chasko who informed us that each sample was 46% ABV, non-chill filtered and without caramel colouring.  

We were also told that each was a "no age statement" whiskey.

Onto each sample:

Sample "A" - Alex gave some guidance that this sample had malt from a red wine cask.

Nose - Very light, fresh and summery.  Green apple, cut wet grass, light vanilla and a butter note.  Bags of light citrus lemon zing and with water the whole event became even more fresh and crisp.

Palate - Again, clean, fresh and light.  Fresh white fruit with focus on green apple and light pear.  Citrus fizz with some light pepper and clove.  Sweetness appears and with water the clean fruit dominates.  (My notes read "This is a dram for a boiling hot day")

Finish - Honestly?  Short with fresh cut apple and light spice.

As stated this is a summer dram with heaps of youthful exuberance in the glass

Sample "B" - Was introduced as having similar casks as were used with sample "A"

Nose - The introduction, for me, could not have been more wrong as this was a totally different experience.  Sweet, red apple, red fruit, hints of banana, blackcurrant cordial and with time a lovely dusty note arrives.  This reminded me very much of the "Celtic Cask Se" I reviewed a while back…..as the tasting came to an end this became like buttered popcorn and continued to evolve in the glass.

Palate - Huge, massive, enormous red fruit!!  Strawberry jam, more blackcurrant and extremely juicy.  The dustiness is still in the background in the form of old oak wood but this is perfectly delicious and adds a touch of spice.  With water the red fruit really takes over.

Finish - Lingering red fruit and spice.

This is delicious with a juicy red fruit intensity and evolves all the time to bring more and more to the senses.  FANTASTIC.

Sample "C" - This was billed as having some "very old crystal malt".  BOOM!!!  This, in my eyes, can only mean one thing - BUSHMILLS!!

Nose - This initially struck me as having a very mineral sense about it with also some salt showing through.  The blackcurrant was here, as with sample "B" and again had a feeling of the "Celtic Cask Se".  If I had to pick two of these that were from the same casks it would be "B" and "C", not "B" and "A" but hey, what do I know?  The nose continued with red fruits and a fresh coastal note.  It also managed to show a light(ish) note in the form of lemon and light orange.

Palate - Still coastal and salty with red fruit although now I could sense some clove spice, sweet malt  which combined with the salt to make salted caramel.

Finish - In my opinion this was so similar to sample "B" but slightly shorter with a touch less spice.

This was also an amazing dram with so much going on.

After we had finished the samples we were asked to pick a favourite and to be honest I think if I was asked the same question every day you would get a different answer every day.  Each of these whiskies had it's own personality and each had it's own qualities.  

Sample "A" was the light, fresh youngster, sample "B" the complex gem that just keeps giving and sample "C" was close to sample "B" but with this whole new coastal, salty, mineral side that took you in a whole new direction.

On the night, though, we had to pick one and, after a last minute change of mind, I went for sample "B".  

It really had depths to it that I though were truly amazing but to be fair to the others Teeling have done an unbelievable job in the production of all of these whiskies.  I truly think that they could release all three and each would reach the heights.

All that is left is to thank The Celtic Whiskey Club and The Teeling Whiskey Company for the chance to be part of this amazing tasting and try some drams that have yet to be seen.  AWESOME STUFF.

As before I've added the links to The Celtic Whiskey Club and The Teeling Whiskey Company at the bottom and I wholeheartedly recommend that you pop along and see what these two have to offer.

Until next time,

Slainte

SI


Teeling Whiskey Company - http://www.teelingwhiskey.com

Friday, 21 March 2014

Discovery Road "Smile"

Happy Friday my whisky loving friends,

To finish off my reviews of the Discovery Road whisky range I had a sample of the Discovery Road "Smile".  This is the last in the range that I'll be reviewing and finishes off from where I started which was the introduction a few weeks back.  If you still need to check out the introduction you can click right here.

Discovery Road "Smile" is a 7 year old Dutch whisky made from 100% rye and, as with the others, it has been bottled at 46% ABV.

Also released in December 2013 it is described on Dominic Roskrow's website http://worldwhisky.co.ukas "An absolute corker.  This mixes spicy rye notes with a delicious toffee and milk chocolate, soft peach and apricot fruits and a red liquorice core."
   

Here's what I think:

Nose - Creamy biscuit, oak and vanilla.  Reminds me very much of pot still Irish whiskey, specifically Redbreast.  Some pine / cedar wood comes through with a touch of dried fruit and mixed spice.  With some water the pine becomes a bit plastic like but in a good way.  With even more time the dried fruit becomes huge.

Palate - Spicy and creamy.  The pine is still evident with some menthol.  Dried fruit still shows up with red apple.  Also has a nice tang of what feels like virgin oak.  All that water does to the palate is make it much softer.


Finish - A touch light but fresh fruit is dominant with a sherried xmas cake feel.

A top notch dram that's evidently young but packs a huge amount of flavour.

As with all of the Discovery Road range this bottling can be found on Master of Malt - http://www.masterofmalt.com/whiskies/discovery-road/discovery-road-smile-100-percent-rye-whisky/

Well that's the whole range tasted, enjoyed and reviewed and all I can say is wow.  The Discovery Road range really highlights what is to be gained by looking a little further afield when it comes to buying your drams.  Dominic Roskrow really has pulled out all the stops to bring us some absolute belters and I for one can't wait to see where this journey takes us.


If I had to rate the current range in order of preference then I would have to go:

1 - Courage
2 - Smile
3 - Four Lions

But don't let this fool you into thinking that "Four Lions" is in anyway the weak link.  All 3 are amazing and each has it's own personality.  

Once again, huge thanks to Dom for the samples.  It's been a real pleasure and an taste bud opening experience.

Until next time,

Slainte 

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Celtic Whiskey Club - Teeling Whiskey Company "Tweet Tasting" Preview

Hello again,

Just one other wee quick update before I retire for the evening and for this we shall look to another preview of an up-and-coming "Tweet Tasting".

Yet again being a member of the Celtic Whiskey Club is bearing fruit and this time it's with the assistance of the Teeling Whiskey Company.  

On 26th March 2014, at 7:30pm, the Celtic Whiskey Club shall be taking to the world of Twitter to showcase something rather special as, for this awesome tasting, the Teeling Whiskey Company are going all out by supplying 3 extremely unique samples.

These samples shall be three single malts, all of which are slightly different.  They are being coy enough not to explain the differences but there is good reason as this is to be a blind tasting.  What they are asking is for Celtic Whiskey Club members to evaluate them purely on taste, and this is when it starts to get really fun, as these samples are contenders for future releases from the people at Teeling.
 
As stated the tasting shall be held on 26th March 2014 at 7:30pm and you can all follow along by keeping an eye on the feeds at @celticwhiskeycl and @celticwhiskey.

As I'm sure you are all aware, "Tweet Tastings" are a perfect way to get involved online and interact with like minded people while having some amazing craic.

I hope you all can join in on what promises to be a truly special evening.

Until next time,

Slainte.

SI

Discovery Road "Courage"

Hello, HelIo, Hello,

I know there's been a touch of neglect in my blog updates recently but you would not believe how busy I've been.  Mad times.    

I'll get straight back into it though with an update regarding another one of the new "Discovery Road" whiskies.  This, obviously, is to follow on from the general introduction I wrote a few weeks ago which can be found by clicking here

This update shall focus on the Discovery Road "Courage" bottling.  

This is a Dutch single malt 14 year old, matured in first fill Oloroso sherry casks, and has been bottled at 46% ABV.

It was released in December 2013 and is described on Dominic Roskrow's website http://worldwhisky.co.ukas "a big beastie of a sherried whisky, with dark chocolate, coffee liqueur, date, dark cherry and Christmas spices"  All sounding good so far.  

Well, yet again, onto my own tasting notes:

Nose - The instant blast as it pours from the bottle, and immediately as it sits in the glass, is that of dark chocolate coffee creams / pipe tobacco.  We also have red apple, stewed seville oranges, sugary malt and freshly buttered white toast going on.  As it sits in the glass the sherry takes over with all it's might with a huge dried fruit / xmas cake explosion, fully accompanied by all the spices you would expect including nutmeg and cinnamon…..Dom was not wrong with his own description.

Palate - Sweet xmas cake, more orange and gentle spice.  This is rich, chewy and highly enjoyable.  The dark chocolate coffee creams return with some demerara sugar.

Finish - Short - medium with a beautiful sherry cask sweetness.

This is simply delicious and highly original.  It's one of the best "sherried" whiskies I've ever tasted and shows perfectly why we should all open our minds and broaden our horizons away from the traditional, safe comfort, of scotch.

As with all of the Discovery Road range this bottling can be found on Master of Malt - http://www.masterofmalt.com/whiskies/discovery-road/discovery-road-courage-14-year-old-whisky/

Well all that's left is to review the last in the range which is the "Smile" and having already tried it I can tell you it has certainly made me do just that.

So, until next time,

Slainte

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Discovery Road "Four Lions"

After another busy weekend I'm back again, as promised, to bring you another update regarding one of the drams from the new Discovery Road range of whiskies.

On Friday evening I posted an entry giving you an introduction to this new range of whiskies which can be found by clicking here.  Hopefully this should get you all up to speed.

This update shall focus on the Discovery Road "Four Lions" bottling.  

This is a single malt from St George's Distillery in Norfolk, England.  It has been bottled at 46% ABV and is named after the four people who picked out the 4 casks that make up this release.  The four persons involved were "Discovery Road Whisky" brand creator Dominic Roskrow, St George's distiller David Fitt and Whisky Tasting Club members Tony Bagnall and Pat Barrow.

It was released in December 2013 and is described, on Dominic Roskrow's website http://worldwhisky.co.uk, as "a single malt with a distinctive spicy and earthy taste, some tropical fruits and citrus, and hints of menthol".  Not Bad eh?  Well onto my own tasting notes:

Nose - Firstly I would like to say that it clings to the glass beautifully.  Lemon and lime, clove, milk chocolate and salted caramel.  Vanilla biscuits with a definitive youthfulness running throughout the spirit.  With a touch of water the citrus notes become more pronounced with the menthol mentioned by Dominic himself making an appearance.

Palate - Initially sweet malt giving way to an intense peppery heat.  The heat is in no way harsh but gives a generous warmth in the mouth.  More sweet salted caramel, menthol and citrus but is now more orangey rather than lemon and lime.

Finish - Nice lingering fresh fruit heat.

Overall this reminds me of a coastal highland malt in the style of Old Pulteney.  It's a very interesting whisky with some youth on it's side.  I will admit that the youthfulness may be a touch overpowering to some but this dram can be given time in the glass and allowed to open up to show the fresh fruitiness.  I feel this offering does the distillery proud and showcases their potential perfectly.  An excellent choice and a great starter to get me into the Discovery Road range.

As with all of the Discovery Road range this bottling can be found on Master of Malt and to help I've even given you the link - http://www.masterofmalt.com/whiskies/discovery-road/discovery-road-four-lions-whisky/

Unfortunately this week I shall be away from my computer and unable to update this blog but I shall be back again on Friday evening to bring you the next instalment in the range which shall be Discovery Road "Courage" - a Dutch Single Malt that's a little bit special.

So, until next time,

Slainte.

SI




Friday, 21 February 2014

"Discovery Road" Whisky - An Introduction

Hi there,

When I first got into the fabulous world of whisky an initial observation I made was that the bulk of the focus seemed to be firmly on Scottish single malts and blends…...and why not?  Over many decades the scottish whisky industry has grown and expanded and as a result has gained quite a grip on whisky sales, the world over.  Some would even say that it is most definitely in the middle of a golden era.  However as with any interest, that any person has in any topic, we naturally begin to look further afield to seek out exciting new experiences and the world of whisky is not devoid of providing such experiences.

This is exactly what has been achieved by Dominic Roskrow as he has spent the last eight years visiting world distilleries from outside traditional areas, gaining knowledge and making contacts with distillery owners from countries as far flung as New Zealand and Sweden. 

As the whisky drinking public are now pushing the boundaries and seeking those new whisky tasting experiences Dom has decided to work with his contacts to take world whisky to it's next stage and hopefully create a new, ambitious, category of whisky entitled 'New World Whisky.'

Dominic Roskrow
Dominic Roskrow has been a journalist for about 30 years, a drinks writer for 22 years and exclusively a whisky writer for more than a decade.  He has edited various drinks titles including Whisky Magazine and has been a freelance whisky writer for seven years.  

Throughout his career he has written about whisky for a wide range of titles including national newspapers, international magazines and British drinks titles including Harpers, Drinks International, Publican at Morning Advertiser and The Spirits Business.  

He has further expanded his repertoire by also writing six books on whisky including The World's Best Whiskies, 1001 Whiskies to Try Before You Die and The Whisky Opus, which in 2013 was shortlisted in the Fortnum and Mason Food and Drink Awards.

Without doubt there would be no better qualified person to seek out these new experiences for us to enjoy.

In talking about his new "Discovery Road" range Dominic explains: "There are only two ways you can make whisky, you can try and do it like Scotland does, and you will almost certainly fail.  Or you can dare to be different, make a whisky which reflects your heritage and culture, and adopt local customs, grains and production methods to produce a whisky that is unique."

"That's how I see the best New World whisky - it is in a  different category to Scotch or bourbon and comparing it to those categories is as relevant as comparing Aussie Rules footie to Soccer or American Football. It's not better, not worse, just different."

Dominic continues by saying that the whole point of these whiskies is to offer something new.  "For many drinkers in their 20s whisky is unappealing, but whiskies from India, Australia, Texas or Taiwan have the potential to break the mould by being different and creating their own framework.  Many of these whiskies are fruity and very good for cocktails.  Many of them can thrive outside the traditional whisky drinking environment. The target should be vodka, tequila and gin drinkers in their 20s and 30s, not existing Scotch drinkers." 

The new range was released in December 2013 with the initial offerings being an English single malt - "Four Lions", a Dutch single malt - "Courage" and a Dutch rye whisky - "Smile".  

Each whisky will be bottled at 46% ABV, will be limited to under 300 bottles (there are just 215 bottles of the English malt) and will be packaged in a stylish premium bottle.  The bottles can be seen below and are shown in order of "Four Lions", "Courage" and "Smile".



There also was an extremely limited edition release of the "Four Lions" which was bottled at 58% ABV.

The whole range is available online and can be found at Master of Malt by clicking right here - http://www.masterofmalt.com/distilleries/discovery-road/

Dominic has been very kind in providing me with samples of the new releases and over the next week or so I shall be bringing you all a closer look at each release along with my own tasting notes and opinions.

Well I shall leave you all now as I have, yet again, managed to write this at an incredibly late hour and am off to rest before shouting at the TV tomorrow as Ireland take on England in the Six Nations.  I'm sure it'll be a belter of a game and also have utter confidence that Ireland shall prevail….well I hope they do.

Until next time though,

Slainte.

SI

NB Many thanks to Dominic and Sally Roskrow for the majority of information and attached pictures.  Other information obtained from http://worldwhisky.co.uk





Monday, 17 February 2014

Dunville's Very Rare Irish Whiskey

Hello there,

It's been far too long since I've been on here but this has been, for the most part, beyond my control.  Thankfully though I'm back and pushing on with my reviews of all things whisky as seen, and tasted, through Belfast eyes.

A while back I brought you a bit of an internet exclusive with the news that the Dunville's Irish Whiskey Brand was returning to our shelves via the new Northern Irish distillery Echlinville, which is based not far from Belfast in a small town called Kircubbin.  

For those of you who missed it you can check out that blog update by clicking right here.

Back in the "Dunville's Irish Whiskey is back…sort of" update I mentioned I would be buying a bottle for review and also seeking out further information on the whiskey.  

Well there's been success on both fronts so here we go.

The new style bottle of Dunville's
The whiskey itself is a traditional 20/80 blend of malt to grain and due to their current confidential supply agreement Echlinville are unable to state from which Irish distillery(s) it has originated from.  In my opinion I would say that both grain and malt are from the Cooley distillery stock.

The grain whiskies are 4 & 5 year old and the malts are between 5 & 8 years old, however they have deliberately made no mention of aging as they are planning to release aged malts in the fullness of time.

The whiskies were brought to the distillery, in their separate casks, where they were blended straight from cask and bottled.

It has been bottled at 40% ABV and without doubt there's some caramel added and presumably chill filtration.

The ‘Very Rare Irish Whiskey’ notation on the label is a reference to the limited quantity of bottles available so to this extent when it’s done - it’s done!!

With regards cost the bottle I bought was priced at £29.99.

The distillery also informed me that in time they are confident that their maturing stock will move Dunville’s Irish Whiskey into the 21st century.

It is this last statement I wish to focus on as, after trying the offering they have bottled for this relaunch, I don't feel they have quite hit the mark just yet.  Hopefully "in time" they can live up to their confidence and release their own matured spirit to make their mark on the Irish whiskey scene, after all variety is the spice of life.

Onto the tasting notes:

Nose - Light grain spirit, some hints of sweet malt, honey, fresh apple, light oak which I would even expand to say has a touch of smoke / char / toasted wood.  Light spice, hint of vanilla and banana.  To be honest the nose is quite enjoyable.  Good mix of fruit and toasty notes.

Palate - Again it's a light, young spirit.  The wood influence that came through on the nose is completely invisible here.  The few flavours I could find were pepper, orange and more apple.

Finish - Short and non-existent apart from a blast of heat.

Now for a conclusion which I shall take a little time over.  

Firstly I've never sampled a whiskey that has such a pleasant nose with a such flat taste.  The nose was quite fresh and definitely had a nice wood touch yet the taste simply did not match up.  The palate was flat and quite frankly a non-event.  I don't really know what the problem is but I would speculate that, as I feel this whiskey has come from Cooley, the original owners of the spirit (Beam Global) have sold on whatever they had lying so as not to impact on their own stocks.  Even though the wood in the nose is quite evident I get the feeling that the casks used, in maturing this whiskey, were on their last legs.

Secondly, if the whiskey has come from Cooley then, a fair comparison to make would be with the Titanic 5 year old.  The Titanic 5 is much more the finished article compared to this Dunville's Irish Whiskey.  With a bit more thought a possible answer to this is that the Belfast Distillery Company, the creators of Titanic Whiskey, managed to secure the whiskey for their product prior to Beam Global taking over Cooley meaning they maybe got a better deal or a better selection of casks.  

To be honest this is all pure guess work but thought it best to give you some form of opinion based upon possibilities.

Lastly all I would like to say is this.  I am without doubt very grateful that Echlinville Distillery is here.  Anything that brings jobs and investment to this part of the world is nothing but good and for it to be in the form of whiskey production is all the better.  With this in mind though I really do hope they go that step further and match their ambition with a high quality product of their own.  I fully understand the need to get the brand out there with this initial release but I feel if they are to release other bottlings, prior to their own spirit being matured, then, cost permitting, they should secure some matured whiskey that will really start to add a touch of quality to their brand.

In it's heyday Irish whiskey was a force to be reckoned with and with a little bit of luck we can get back to that proud standing but if we are to get there then our new distilleries need to aim high and create genuine competition for the Yellow Spot's, Redbreast's and Bushmills of this island.  I for one shall have my fingers crossed.  

Well, as I said, I'll shall be continuing to push on with more reviews and thankfully I've enough to keep me going with samples of the new Discovery Road range and a few wee other gems too.  These shall be happily dissected and brought to you all in Whisky Belfast form ASAP.

Until next time though,

Slainte.

SI