Saturday, March 25, 2017

A short guide to Del Maguey for whisky drinkers

Today I am moving into a subject I don't know a lot about. I went to a Del Maguey event organised by the danish importer, Juul's Engros, and tried to learn a bit. The event was a promotion for mainly local cocktail bartenders. It was hosted at the Mikkeller bar in Aarhus, and I managed to get an invitation from the boss of the Mikkeller bar. Drinking a lot of beers sometimes pays off 😈

The Mikkeller Bar has a limited (very) selection of spirits, but there is 2 bottles of Del Maguey on the shelf there, which is about a fifth or sixth of the total selection of spirits. It is a beer bar after all.

I have always been a big fan of the Del Maguey mezcals I have tried.

Del Mageys is one of the top, if not the top bottler of Mezcal.

The line-up


Mezcal is a mexican spirit made from agave . Agave is a plant that looks like a mix of artichokes and cactus. Like the artichoke, it's the heart of the plant that is used.

The best known version of mezcal is tequila, which is often mass produced and not very good. That said, quite a lot of excellent tequilas do exist. Tequila is made from blue agave, while mezcal can be made from any agave. Tequila is sometimes barrel aged, which mezcal (normally) isn't.

After harvesting the agave is roasted in a  small earth pit by hot stones for a period of days, which varies from producer to producer.  Beside some geographical restrictments (which overlap), this is the main difference between tequila and other mezcals. Tequila is often just pressure cooked.

I guess the cooking/roasting breaks down the starch to sugars. The roasting will give mezcal a slight (sometimes more than slight) smoky flavor.

The agave is then milled and fermented, with wild airborne yeast. At this point of production the only other ingredient is added, which is water. After fermentation the mash is distilled. The stilltype can vary, Clay and copper potstills is the normal, and as I understand it, it's a double destillation (normally). Hybrid stills do exist, so single destillation mezcal dom exist and I taste one further down this post. No water is added to Del Maguey after destillation, so the ABV is controlled by running a relative longer tail than compared to normal whiskyproduction.

Del Maguey (maguey means agave) is a range of mezcals produced by small family owned producers in the Oaxaca state in Mexico. This is basically farm distillers. The difference between the different mezcals comes from a range of parameters, here is some of them:

Agave variety
Soil
Altitude
Roasting time
Fermentation time
Still type

At the event I tasted the following:

Chichicapa

Chichicapa had a distinct smoky flavor and would appeal to whisky drinkers who like Ardbeg

Minero

Minero is made on clay potstills and I guess the abscence of copper is why Minero is a bit rougher, sulphury (vegetaby) and has intense flavour. This Mezcal will appeal to whisky drinkers who like Ben Nevis and Glen Scotia. One of the other participants, the cheese maker from Arla Unika, bought a bottle of this to use as ingredient in a cheese. Because it was the most intense mezcal we had that day. He was right. And it makes sense to choose this as a flavour ingredient

San Luis del Rio - Azul
A lot of sources says Mezcal's isn't made from blue agaves. They are wrong as this is. The Azul is sweeter and nice and will to whisky drinkers who like sweeter highlanders/speysiders. Think Glencadam (I did)

Barril
A dry (but also kind of sweet) mezcal. Earthy, citrusy and smoky. This and the Chicicapa were the two I found most smoky. Chicicapa was a tad bit sweeter. This will appeal to whisky drinkers who like Longrow
 
San Pablo Ameyaltepez
The lighest of the bunch. I found this a bit synthetic tasting, but still nice. I wonder if I thought so, becasue I was told this mezcal was single distilled on a hybrid still 😀
This will appeal to whisky drinkers who like grain whisky.

Pechuga

Pechuga is a rare speciality version of Minero. Pechuga means chicken. The Minero is distilled a third time. 100 liters of Minero is mixed with 100 kilograms mix of wild mountain apples and plums, plantain red bananas and pineapples, almonds and uncooked white rice. In the neck of the still the vapour of the 24 hour destillation will pass through skinless chickenbreast with bones

The result is a spicy and very complex spirit. This will appeal to whisky drinkers who like really old and delicate whiskies. Who doesn't ?

As with old and delicate whisky, this is not cheap.

Barrel aged - Santo Domingo Albarradas

This is Santo Domingo Albarradas aged for 1 year and 7 months in a Stitzel-Weller Barrell that held bourbon for 20 years. Labeled as Stitzel-Weller but presented as Pappy van Winkle. Probably because noone know what Stitzel-Weller is, and everyone knows Pappy. Except you and me off-course.

This particular cask was bottled for Maison du Whisky.

This was simply delicious. I need to source out and try the non barrel-aged Santo Domingo Albarradas to see what flavours this barrel gave to this mezcal. It has a distinct medicinal flavour I associate with pre-prohibition bourbon and ryes. I guess this will appeal to whisky drinkers who likes pre-prohibition bourbon and ryes.

100% Tobala
For some odd reason this is one of my favourite labels ever

Made from wild Tobala agave. Intense and very flavourful and the perfect finish to tasting 9 mezcals. This will appeal to whisky drinkers who like single cask, cask strength whiskies.

Big thanks to Lukas from Mikkeller for edging me in on this, and thanks to Del Maguey and Juul's Engros for hosting this.

On purpose I didn't litter this post with a lot of technical details, but the geeky reader can benefit a lot from the official website of Del Maguey

























Sunday, March 12, 2017

A couple of Teelings

The Revival 13yo
46%

This whisky has been matured for 12 years on ex-bourbon casks, and then finished in ex-calvados casks


The nose is delicate, fruity and has a bit of dry wood. The palate has got a lot of calvados to it. Think dry applejuice. Still adds a slight sweetness to the whisky. Easy drinkable. I am a purist, som prefer my whisky to taste like whisky and this is just a little bit too much calvados for me

Rating 84/100


Teeling 24yo
46%

Matured on ex-bourbon with an ex-sauterne finish


I am probably not the right person to review a whisky finished on ex-sauterne as sauterne (a sweet french dessert wine) tends to give whisky a...yes, sweet or very sweet taste

This particular whisky is very sweet and tastes a lot of sauterne. It's full bodied and sweet. The nose is delicate and sweet. The palate is nutty and sweet. To be fair the the bold nuttyness dominates the sweetness. It's has a long, quite intense and sweet finish

if you are into sweet whiskies this is something for you. It's hard for me to give this is a score as for me there is a difference between bad whisky and then whisky that I don't personally like. This is not a bad whisky, but it's not my style at all

Rating 82/100


Thanks to Teeling for the samples. (Photos stolen from the Teeling website)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

New release from Fary Lochan

Fary Lochan Forår Batch 2 
47%

or

When a whisky distillery moves beyond "promising"

With the first of spring hitting us Fary Lochan is releasing their second "Spring" version of their malt whisky. Forår is danish for spring

"Forår" means Spring so this should be over

I really like the nose of this whisky. It's light, delicate and very moreish. Here are my tasting notes


Colour: Pale yellow

Nose is delicate malty, with notes of vanilla, honey and lemon pudding. Behind there is a faint note of the signature Fary Lochan nettle smoke. In a nutshell, this is lemon nettles.

Palate: A light viscous spirit with an earthy touch. Nutty and malty. A crisp freshness is added with the light smokiness and it all finishes out with notes of lemon and green apples.


Fary Lochan is still maturing and this is their oldest expression to date. the whisky is still not 5 years old and the youth is not very obvious in this bottling but there is a faint hotness to the palate. The minimum age for whisky to be bottles is 3 years old and with an increasing stock of whisky maturing it seems that Fary Lochan can go out and pick something good. This is my favourite danish whisky to date. Particular the fantastic nose is the reason for this.

Rating 85/100

Thanks to Fary Lochan for the sample

(Photo stolen from Fary Lochan fb-page)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Loch Lomond Single Grain

45%



Loch Lomonds new bottling is a NAS single grain. It is bottled at 45%
according to the promotional material the grain used is excluselively malted barley. it is also mentioned the whisky is matured in american oak casks. The reason this is not considered a single malt, is that malt whisky requires a specific distilling equipment (pot stills). This whisky is distilled on a Coffey still and is best compared to to Nikka's Coffey Malt

The nose is extremely fruity and citrusy. with a hint of newmake. The palate is is more of the same fruity character. This whisky reminds me of the malt whiskies seen from numerous new distilleries that uses hybrid stills. Makes sense since both are not double distilled but single distilled. The palate is fruity, citrus - pineapple mix. it is a little bit hot. I also get a faint note of shaved pencils or cardboard box. It's a nice dram, the biggest problem is that it doesn't taste like whisky. Nor does it taste like the grain whiskies I have tasted before The flavour that og grain whisky is usually based on cask-induced components. This whisky for sure has a flavour that is spirit driven.

Easy drinkable, somewhat different to what Scotland otherwise has to offer. Fruity, almost eua-de-vie like and just a little hot on the prefinish. It's a bit hit or miss if a whiskydrinker would like this style or not. After a bit I get a little worn by this unusual flavours so I think it's omething you have to get used to drink. In short, this whisky is delicate, fruity, weird and the weakest point is the finish

Rating 82/100

Monday, September 5, 2016

Skotsk Whisky - uden farve, uden filter

af Peter Kjær og Lars Gregersen

En ny whiskybog. På Dansk. Skrevet af Danskere

(You can find the english review HERE)



Det er ikke så tit man ser whiskybøger på dansk. De fleste whiskybøger er skrevet på andre sprog, og de oversættes typisk ikke til dansk. Her har to danskere, der begge arbejder med whisky til daglig, kastet sig ud i at skrive en bog om skotsk whisky. Forfatterne er Peter Kjær (Krut's Karport, en whiskybar i København) og Lars Gregersen (LAGO, vin- og spiritusimportør)

Bogens forfattere


Hvis man gerne vil gøre sig klog på de forskellige destillerier i Skotland er man nødt til at gøre det hårde, men fornøjelige, arbejde at smage sig igennem de ca. 110 destillerier der hver især findes i et hav af aftapninger. Men hvis man vil tilegne sig en generel baggrundsviden er en god whiskybog et godt sted at starte. Skotsk Whisky er et rigtigt godt sted at starte. Her er god baggrundsviden. Bogen er velskrevet og letforståelig, men samtidig fyldt med masser af fakta og specialviden. Dette gør at bogen er god at læse både for begynderen og for den meget erfarne whiskyentuiast.

Bogens kerne er 5 kapitler om Skotsk whiskys historie, Beskrivelse af hvordan både malt og grain whisky fremstilles, Skotsk whiskys geografi og om det overhovedet giver mening af snakke om en sådan, En branche beskrivelse, samt gode råd til hvordan man egentligt kan smag på en whisky.

Spændende kapitler, hvor forfatterne kommer på den rigtige side af meget af den alt for ofte forekommende marketingdrevne ”litteratur” som kan læses eller høres når man bevæger sig rundt i whiskyverdenenes afkroge.

Kapitlerne er krydret med en række interessante interviews af både danske og skotske branchefolk, forfatttere og en enkelt kendt dansk whiskysamler. Det er ganske enkelt fremragende læsning. Man har formået at få langt de fleste der interviewes til ikke at gå i marketingmode, men derimod spændende at fortælle om hvordan der arbejdes i whiskybranchen og og også dele nogen af deres personlige holdninger til en række emner.

Skotsk Whisky bevæger sig ofte grundigt ind på områder som andre whiskybøger let hopper henover. I kapitlet om branchen er der f. eks. en god gennemgang af hvad uafhængige aftappere er, samt en meget grundig beskrivelse af hvad størrelse SWA (Scotch Whisky Association) egentlig er.
SWA har været udsat for en del kritik de senere år. Ikke noget forfatterne direkte kommer ind på, men i interviewene nævner branchefolkene perifært nogle af de ting de gerne så anderledes.

Man har valgt ikke at skrive om markedet for skotske whiskyer i Danmark. Det skyldes nok at forfatterne selv er en del af markedet som henholdsvis importør og indehaver af en whiskybar. Interviewene bærer heller ikke præg af at man har valgt folk hvis produkter man selv forhandler til dagligt, hvilket er med til at give bogen integritet.

Mit eneste kritikpunkt i bogen er at man konsekvent burde holde sig til den danske stavemåde ”whisky” og ikke skrive ”whiskey” såsnart man snakker om bourbon. Men jeg ved at det helt sikkert vil irritere en del hvis man havde valgt at gøre det, men folk lærer det nok en dag :-)

Alt i alt er bogen et must for enhver dansk whiskyentusiast, og klart den bedste whiskybog jeg har set fra danske forfattere. Nogle vil måske mene at konkurrencen her ikke just er særlig stor, men denne bog er faktisk så god, at det er en skam at folk der ikke kan dansk, ikke umiddelbart kan læse den.

I katagorien af whiskybøger der behandler skotsk whisky generelt er det rart at se en bog der vægter emnerne lidt anderledes, hvilket gør bogen til et godt supplement på hylden selvom den er godt fyldt op med whiskybøger i forvejen.


Bogen forventes i handel medio oktober

English review of "Skotsk Whisky -uden farve, uden filter.

by Peter Kjær and Lars Gregersen

(Læs den danske anmeldelse HER)

A new whisky book. In Danish. Written by Danes.
The title translates to ”Scotch Whisky -no colour, no filter” and it it probably gives better sense in danish as ”no colour” also can be read as ”no bias”



It is not often one sees whisky books in danish. Most whisky books written in other languages ​​are typically not translated into danish. Here, two danes, who both work with whisky, has taken this step into writing a book about Scotch. The authors are Peter Kjær (Krut's Karport, a whiskybar in Copenhagen) and Lars Gregersen (LAGO, a wine and spirits import company)

The authors


If you want to learn the differences between the various distilleries in Scotland, you have to do the hard, but enjoyable job, of tasting your way through the approximately 110 distilleries, each of which is available in a huge range of bottlings. But if you want to acquire a good general background knowledge, a good whisky book is a great place to start. ”Skotsk Whisky” is such a book. The book offers good background knowledge and it is well written and easy to understand, but at the same time filled with lots of facts and special knowledge. This makes the book a good reading both for the beginner and for the very experienced whiskyentuiast.

The book's core is 5 chapters on Scotch whisky's history, Description of how both malt and grain whisky is produced, Scotch whiskys´ geography and whether it makes sense talking about such, a trade description, and finally an advice on how to actually taste and enjoy a whisky.

Exciting chapters in which the authors appear on the right side of the often seen marketing driven "literature" which can be read or heard when you move around in the whiske world.

The chapters are scattered with a number of interesting interviews with both danish and scottish whisky professionals, that is, other authors, brand ambassadors, blenders, managers etc. including a well known danish Glenfiddich collector. It is simply excellent reading. The authors manages to get the majority of the interviewed persons out of marketing mode, and into exciting talks about how to work in the industry, and also share some of their personal views on a variety of topics.

”Skotsk Whisky” do cover areas that other whisky books usually skips or cover very ligthly. In the chapter about the industry, there is a good description of what independent bottlers is, and a very thorough description of what SWA (Scotch Whisky Association) actually is.
SWA has been subjected to some criticism in recent years. The authors don't cover this directly, but it is mentioned peripherally in some of the proffesionals interviews, and a few things they would like to see changed is mentioned.

The authors have chosen not to write about the scene of Scotch whisky in Denmark. This is probably because the authors themselves are part of this, respectively importer and owner of a whisky bar. The people chosen for interviews are all from companies the authors doesn't represent here in Denmark, which adds integrity to the book.

My only criticism of the book is that it isn't consistent on how to spell ”whisky” but changes the spelling to ”whiskey” as soon as the whisky concerned is bourbon. But I know that it would certainly irritate others if they had chosen to do this... but people will learn some day :-)

Overall, the book is a must for any danish whisky enthusiast, and clearly the best a whiskybook I've seen from danish writers. Some may think that the competition here is not exactly very big, but this book is so good that it's a shame that people who do not speak danish is not immediately able to read it.

In the category of whiskey books dealing with Scotch whisky in general, it is nice to see a book that approaches the topics a little different, which makes the book a good supplement on the shelf even if it's well stocked with other whisky books.


The book is expected for sale mid-October

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Hudson Baby Bourbon

46%
Pot Distilled from 100% New York Corn



There is a lot of mashlike notes on the nose. A woody, grainy mix.

The palate has a varnish woody stamp mixed with a grainy base. This is a young whisky from Tuthilltown distillery. They like to age their whisky on various small casks and some of the casks are laid next to the hot potstill. Surpriingly for a young whisky there is not a hot spirit note, so it's very drinkable. The youth can't be hidden, with the grainy taste and the maturation method has given this a strong wood/oak flavour. Persoanlly I am a fan of oaky flavoured whiskies (to a limit)

The finish is short-medium and then I get a little hot spirity taste. Ending with a heavy vanilla touch

Quite drinkable and one of the better offerings from the many new american whisky distilleries


Rating 82/100