Good whiskies to drink – Good places to drink them

New Whisky Bottlings

Jameson and beer, a good combination: Caskmates

caskmates_small

 

Jameson has announced the global release of Jameson Caskmates. it’s been Created at Midleton  in collaboration with micro-brewer, Franciscan Well Brewery in Cork.

In 2013, Jameson Master Distiller, Brian Nation and Master of Whiskey Science, Dave Quinn, first met Franciscan Well Founder and Head Brewer, Shane Long, in a Cork bar. They agreed to loan some Jameson casks to the brewery to discover their influence on Irish stout and when the stout-seasoned barrels were returned to the Midleton Distillery, Dave Quinn re-filled them with Jameson Irish whiskey. Over time, the maturation resulted in a new taste sensation: Jameson Caskmates.

Dave Quinn and Shane Long in London extolling the virtues of Caskmates ©Colin Hampden-White

Dave Quinn Master of Whiskey Science and Shane Long of Franciscan Well Brewery, in London extolling the virtues of Caskmates ©Colin Hampden-White

The product of curiosity, collaboration and innovation, Jameson Caskmates retains the triple-distilled smoothness of Jameson Original, while adopting additional notes of coffee, cocoa, butterscotch and gentle hints of hops.

Dave Quinn, Master of Whiskey Science at the Midleton Distillery, says: “When the stout-seasoned Jameson barrels arrived back at Midleton from Franciscan Well, curiosity got the better of us and we experimented by maturing our Jameson Irish whiskey in the casks. We found that after around six months, the perfect balance of flavor was achieved and we couldn’t be happier with the results”.

Nose: There is certainly a core aroma which is Jameson, so orchard fruits and sweetness, but there is less nose prickle. The whiskey is smoother and more rounded. Spices appear, deepening from herbaceous to nutty aromas and a little chocolate. In the background the hops can just be sensed.

Taste: initial sweet mouth coating typical of the Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey. Smooth, still fruity and distinctly Jameson’s with a subtle touch of hops and cocoa beans. Some marzipan and charred oak add to the complexity. The hops return at the back of the palate.

Finish: Sweet with chocolate and butterscotch with a medium length.

There are other experiments being carried out in collaboration with the brewery, so there should be some interesting whiskies arriving later.

Bottled at 40% ABV, Jameson Caskmates is available from September 2015 in eight markets including the USA, South Africa and Ireland, at the RRP of €38.99, $29.99 or local equivalent, supported by global ATL and BTL campaigns, POS and merchandising support tools.


GlenBridge: A 40 year old single malt speyside whisky from Aldi

Glenbridge 40 year old from Aldi ©Colin Hampden-White

Glenbridge 40 year old from Aldi ©Colin Hampden-White

This morning, as a freelance journalist, was not what I am used to. Getting up well before sunrise.

Another thing I am not used to is premium whisky being sold by a supermarket chain, and rather than that supermarket being the rarefied Waitrose, Aldi was the shop to go to.

To find (having been tasted by Jim Murray, amongst others), the best value 40 year old whisky on the market. With only 3000 bottles produced and 450 stores country wide to distribute them around, there were to be only 6 bottles for most of the stores.

I decided to go to Aldi on the Old Kent Road in London. A good choice I found. I arrived at 7.30 for an 8 o’clock opening and was the 6th person in the queue. A couple of minutes later a 7th joined us and within ten minutes  there were 40 of us. A nice lady popped out of the shop, explained there were only 6 bottles and gave us lucky 6 a ticket each.

The other lucky five were a mixture of two present baggers, a real whisky fan, another whisky journalist writing for Whisky Magazine and a brand ambassador for Drambuie. So for once, the idea of first come first served, no exceptions had worked. There was no preferential treatment for journalists or big whisky buyers, even the staff were not allowed first dibs.

Joel, of Whisky Magazine was getting texts from other stores around the country where people had started to queue pretty early, from 3am in Oxford, and there were stories from others turning up that other shops in London had very long queues, up to 200 in Catford.

So was all the fuss and early starts really worth it for the luck few?

Tasting the Glenbridge 40 year old from Aldi ©Colin Hampden-White

Tasting the Glenbridge 40 year old from Aldi ©Colin Hampden-White

Well I supose one has to start by saying that even if the whisky wasn’t good, there would be elements of it at 40 years old which would certainly make it interesting, at £50,

But no, the lovely amber brown liquid  wasn’t good, it was very good. A bigger bargain one could not imagine for a 40 year old dram.

So what did it taste like, well.

On the nose:

Dried Fruits, lots of sherry, a little bit flinty, and a touch of spice

On the Palate:

Sherry again, and chrystalised fruit, nuts and dates folowed by some spice, nutmeg, sweeter on the end.

The finish:

Bits of spice and a little orange peel. Oaky from the cask, but not overbearing.

All in all a pretty good dram, I certainly have poured myself another, and leaving it to open out a little gives it a bit more complexity in the spice range.

This would be good value at four times the price, so I can’t really complain about getting up early for once!


Highland Park 1976 and 1971

Well, apart from the distinctive underlying style of Highland Park, these two whiskies are really very different. Both are good whiskies, but one is most definitely better than the other.

Highland Park 1976 and 1971 ©Colin Hampden-White

Highland Park 1976 and 1971 ©Colin Hampden-White

1976

Nose:

Herby and floral at first followed by white fruits and iodine, wisps of smoke, spice and then sea salt.

Palate:

More of the above and in the same order, the heather becomes more prominent and there is a sweetness of boiled sweets.

Finish:

Dry and long, especially concentrating on the high floral notes.

1971

Nose:

Caramel and vanilla, honey sweetness, lots of depth, meadow flowers on the high notes.

Palate:

Bananas and caramel, followed by flowers and heather, little bits of toffee and milk chocolate, some spice and smoke comes through towards the end.

Finish:

Very smooth with waves of smoke followed by the sweet caramel and finally, flowers again.

A belter of a whisky, one of my recently tasted favorites. Both these whiskies have the spice and smoke of Highland Park, but the 1971 has all the extra depth.


Caol Ila Moch

There’s nothing to mock about the Moch

Caol Ila Moch © Colin Hampden-White

Caol Ila Moch © Colin Hampden-White

Bottled at 43% ABV and has no age statement.

The Whisky Exchange wrote “A hugely enjoyable romp throughIslay’s middle ground.” and I absolutely agree with them.

I got a few different things out of the whisky on tasting (as most of us do I think) so here are my thoughts.

Colour:

Light golden

On the nose:

Sweetness and iodine at first and then the smoke hits you, not too much nicely balanced. Followed by a few dried fruits before becoming tropical, melon and bananas present. left for a few minutes the banana becomes more banoffee  pie and then a little white fruit on the end all mixed in with a gentle hints of peat.

On the palate:

Smoke and peat in spades, but not so much as to unbalance the whisky, followed by sweetness and nice citrus and spice, oranges and limes rather than lemons. On the edges there are notes of heathers and woodland flowers ending on a bit of black truffle.

Finish

Primarily smoke and peat again with spice as a constant with waves of citrus. There is nutmeg prevalent in the spice with cinnamon and mace in the background. Not a very long finish, but very even leaving you wanting more!

Caol Ila Moch © Colin Hampden-White

Caol Ila Moch © Colin Hampden-White

To be found through friends of classic malts in theUKlinked to The Whisky Exchange. Great value for a very good and fairly complex whisky.

 

 

 

 


English Whisky: St George’s Founders Reserve

St George's Founders Reserve © Colin Hampden-White

St George's Founders Reserve © Colin Hampden-White

Having been luck enough to obtain a bottle of the St. George’sFounders Reserve from the recent bottling, I was even luckier that Andrew Nelstrop sent me  a miniature for tasting. My thoughts were as follows.

On the nose:

Lots of vanilla and spice with a bit of soft fudge. A very slight citrus edge followed by a wisp of smoke. Quite heavy on the nose.

On the palate:

Much lighter on the palate, typical characteristics of the bourbon cask, caramel and vanilla with some toffee with strong citrus and spice, there is a touch of sweetness which develops into oaky notes. with a little water non of the flavours are lost and non really gained, but the whisky becomes smooth and creamy, so if you like this mouth feel then a little water helps, but it doesn’t need water.

St George's Founders Reserve © Colin Hampden-White

St George's Founders Reserve © Colin Hampden-White

Finish:

The deeper notes of caramel and toffee keep going with a bit of spice at the end. Not a devastatingly long finish, but pretty good for a youthful whisky.

As with all the other whiskies produced so far at St. George’s this is good stuff, and with well under 100 bottles filled so far is difficult expression to find, but hunt hard and dig deep (especially if you find it on the secondary market), and it won’t disappoint the drinker or keeper.


Ardbeg Alligator (committee reserve)

If I was going to take a reptile to bed, this would be the one.

 

Ardbeg Alligator at The Whisky Exchange

Ardbeg Alligator at The Whisky Exchange © Colin Hampden-White

There are two new things this week. A new expression of Ardbeg and an embassy in London to go with it.

To make life easy, the nice people at Ardbeg have joined the two together for their launch. And so it came to be that I found myself in The Whisky Exchange in London tasting the Ardbeg Alligator. All committee members can go down to The whisky Exchange and have a dram courtesy of Ardbeg and The Whisky Exchange.

Colour:

A medium gold.

On the nose:

Sweet honey joins the expected BBQ notes with a hint of caramel in the background. After tasting, and coming back for a second go floral notes and a little cut grass had joined the party. There is also a hint of pipe tobacco.

On the Palate.

As with the nose a good dose of honey and sweetness on the front of the tongue citrus then takes over with a nice amount of spice following through to a warming smooth dollop of  caramel and wood from the new American oak and then smoke, which keeps on going for a while. This is a beautifully balanced whisky with a surprising amount of maturity for the age of its whiskies.

The Finish:

More spice and citrus, followed by fat cigar smoke (non of your slim panatelas here, aromatic rather than sweet dried tobacco).  Then smoke and spice, leaving you with a little cheek burn and a burning desire to delve in to some more.

Once you have been on a few, honey, citrus and smoke trips and feel like stopping, then the finish goes on for a very long time, having tasted this well over an hour ago I still have smoke and spice coming back to me.

Edward Bates of www.thespiritsauthority.com helping to pour (and with the 4.5 litre bottle, one needed some help!) and joining me in tasting Ardbeg Alligator

Edward Bates of http://www.thespiritsauthority.com helping to pour (and with the 4.5 litre bottle, one needed some help!) and joining me in tasting Ardbeg Alligator

For the moment, it is lucky committee members who can get some and for everyone else, I guess they will just have to wait for the general release in September. In the mean time I am going to hide my bottle from covetous eyes.

As a committee member this can be bought through the Ardbeg Website.


Macallan Royal Wedding Whisky

Macallan Royal Wedding Whisky tasting

Just before last weekend I received the very last sample available from Macallan of the whisky released for the Royal Wedding this weekend. So I settled myself down with a glass and began to taste.

The Macallan Royal Wedding Whisky

The Macallan Royal Wedding Whisky © Colin Hampden-White

Colour

Deep Golden Amber

Aroma

Cinnamon, ginger, clove, toffee apples, layered in vanilla. Chocolate orange flits in and out, along with summer fruits. Lightly floral and barley notes all come together in a delightful creamy overtone. These were aromas over the first few minutes of opening. Having left the whisky for 20 minutes further to open up I also found Caramel, Cedar, Aniseed under flavour and sweet Rose Petals topping the floral notes.

Palate

Abundant wood spices deliver an initial hit to the palate, giving a slightly oily texture. Fruits develop, balanced with soft oak tones. Orange zest, floral notes and barley all make an appearance later in the journey as do  crystallised citrus fruits.

Finish

Soft, full, long lasting giving way to a clean spirited end.

Details

As the excitement mounts for the first Royal Wedding in 12 years, The Macallan has announced the release of a limited edition of 1000 bottles celebrating the Royal Marriage of Prince William to Catherine (Kate) Middleton on29th April 2011.

The unique and collectable edition will feature exceptional single malt whisky taken from two casks, both filled on 29th April – one from 1996 and one from 1999. Bottled at 46.8%, the single malt gives abundant wood spices combining with orange zest, floral and barley to produce a creamy overtone.

The creation of this special bottle follows the release of a commemorative edition to mark the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981.  This comprised two casks, one from each of their birth years.  At the time, the bottle sold out and today is a highly sought-after item for collectors of The Macallan around the world.

Commenting on the release of this special commemorative edition, Patricia Lee from The Macallan said, “Having created a limited edition to mark the wedding of his parents in 1981, we wanted to follow this with a special bottling for Prince William’s own marriage.  Our Whisky Maker, Bob Dalgarno, has excelled himself once again by selecting two exquisite casks, each filled on 29th April, to create a whisky which brings together cinnamon, ginger and spice with toffee apples and vanilla giving a soft, full and long lasting finish.”

In keeping with this original bottling, The Macallan has commissioned the creative force behind the 1981 bottle, David Holmes, who was also one of the architects of the brand’s advertising campaign in the 1980s and the early 1990s, to create the label and packaging design.

The Macallan Royal Wedding Whisky

The Macallan Royal Wedding Whisky © Colin Hampden-White

The label design incorporates striking duck egg blue, featuring interwoven monograms and silver roses, whilst the bespoke silver coloured presentation box is designed with a ‘viewing window’ to show off the stunning bottle.

The collectible status of this whisky is already starting to show. With the 1000 bottles released selling very quickly, bottles of the whisky are already on the secondary market, such as Ebay. Bottles have selling for as much as £450 three times it’s original price. With great interest in people collecting Macallan and those interested in ryal wedding memorabilia especially with high demand from outside the UK, it is clear to see this whisky demanding a high price once it finds it’s way onto the secondary retail market, and even then may still be collectible as an investment as demand for such a rare and good whisky continues. I hope some gets drunk and enjoyed, especially over the Royal wedding when it looks as if a little warming drink during the showers forecast for Saturday might not go amiss!

To note:

There is a little help detecting the fraudulent bottles which may come on the market in the future. Macallan have placed a little metallic holographic sticker on the bottle on the edge of the foil, it has an image of Easter Elchies House as the hologram.

The Macallan Royal Wedding Whisky

The Macallan Royal Wedding Whisky with the hologram © Colin Hampden-White

Happy drinking.