Friday, April 18, 2014

Peated anCnoc

anCnoc is whisky from Knockdhu distillery, a distillery located in the scottish highlands, just inside Speyside by the SWA definitions. They do label themself as "Highland" though, which is okay, since all Speyside is also Highland. The company behind anCnoc has decided not to brand their whisky as Knockdhu, but anCnoc instead. I have heard it's so they won't be confused with Knockando, which is a totally diferent distillery, located further down south in Speyside

I was sent these samples to participate in a twitter tasting, but weren't able to participate so decided to put them on the blog instead. Lukasz (one of the Edinburgh Whisky Blog guys) now works in marketing for Inver House (anCnoc, Balblair, Pulteney, Balmenach and Speyburn) and he occasionally sends me a sample or two even if he once described me as the toughest reviewer on the internet, I took that as a compliment :-)

Look at the tools

The weird names of these whiskies, rutter, tushkar and flaughter are the actual names of traditional tools used to dig peat. If you look at the labels you can see drawings of them.

On my first trip to Islay in 2001 I have actual tried to use a tushkar, when I "helped" some locals cut some peat near the airport. I think I was no good at it, as they decided after 3 minutes that they didn't need my help anyway.

All three are NAS (No Age Statement). All are 46%

rutter is peated to 11ppm, flaughter to 14.8ppm and tushkar 15.0ppm

Peat is measured in phenol content parts per million (ppm). Peated whisky is normally associated with whisky from Islay, where Bowmore is 20ppm and the rest is higher with Caol Ila/Lagavulin at 35ppm and Ardbeg/Laphroag in the 45-55ppm range. So by the peat content this is lightly/medium peated. This is before tasting them, I still expect some peat, as peat deterioate with time in the barrel and as this is NAS therefore likely to be younger whisky, I still expect the peat to be present. 

Drinking too much peated whisky in my early years has sometimes made me peat immune though

Here we go

1. anCnoc rutter. 46% 11.0ppm
Matured in american oak hogshead

My immediate reaction when nosing this is youth, but it's almost immediate overtaken by a very nice warm citrusy nose. Is citrus normally coming with a "warm" feeling to me. No. 

Easy to drink. A faint hint of peat, but this is more about juicy fruityness to me. Citrus, little bit of vanilla, lip balm,  

The finish has  a little bitterness, much more vanilla and is again fruity and citrusy. Medium-long. And even more vanilla. Loads. The finish is a winner on this one. 

A bit youthful, but if you like vanilla, peat and citrus this is your thing

Rating 83/100

2. anCnoc flaughter. 46% 14.8ppm
Matured in a selection of american oak casks

Again a little young on the first impression, but not much. Sweetness and maltyness is the first thing coming into my mind, the a bit of peat. This is like a slightly sweeter version of rutter, more oily, and again a lot of vanilla. Creamy vanilla, a full bodied dram. Slightly more peaty than the rutter as the ppm also suggests.

Rating 84/100

3. anCnoc tushkar. 46% 15.0ppm
Matured in first refill american ex-bourbon barrels (This means right after bourbon, I asked!)

Wow, this is very spicy vanillaed, the fresher wood really shows. Very fresh, the peat is also apperent but still on the subtle side. Again, like the others, I have the vanilla dominating the finish, and the vanilla in the tushkar finish is a lot more present, compared to the first two. Really nice

The tushkar is for the swedish market only

Rating 85/100

These drams would be a perfect way to introduce peat to people who are a little fragile to the Islay style

I am glad they didn't do any marsala, redwine, grand marnier or tokaji finish or whatever way it's trendy to ruin whisky these days, but chose this way of presenting this style in different lights!! But where's the cask strength version ?. A few bottles for entusiasts wouldn't hurt. I actually think that the swedes should have gotten a full strength version. Us scandinavians like rough strong whiskies, and peat is very popular

Note: I am positively biased to AnCnoc, they hosted one of the best events I have joined at the numerous Spirit of Speyside festivals I have attended. You know, one of those events that is affordable, the whisky free flowing and the tour and tasting relaxed and personal. Doesn't happen that often anymore in the big world of whisky

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Danish Drinking Team and the new SMWS outturn

This friday, me and two of my friends made a visit to the danish chapter of SMWS

This is a report of the new outturn

SMWS is a very nice whiskybar in Vejle, in fact, it's the biggest SMWS bar in the world, more than 300 open bottles in the bar, I didn't count them. I counted the Mortlachs just to see. 18 open Mortlachs. I can recommend the 76.94, it was great. Probably sold out. I didn't like the 76.95 at all. But that's SMWS, they like to bottle different things.

The host, Terje Thesbjerg, who runs the danish SMWS, and does it very well, was so nice to pour the 16 drams of the new outcome for us blind. 14 actually, as 2 wasn't availbale in the bar, but he threw in two substitutes instead.

So we went through the 16 drams blind and here are our average scores of the new outturn



9.83 - 88.7 (25yo Glen Grant)
37.56 -  79.0 (9yo Cragganmore)
35.108 - 84.3 (12yo Glen Moray)
1.178 - 88.3 (11yo Glenfarclas)
76.115 - 89.0 (18yo Mortlach)
29.153 - 81.7 (23yo Laphroaig)
132.2 - 81.3 (22yo Karuizawa)
53.203 - 82.0 (17yo Caol Ila)
39.97 - 91.0 (23yo Linkwood)
93.59 - 86.3 (14yo Glen Scotia)
127.39 - 80.7 (11yo Port Charlotte)
66.48 - 82.0 (Ardmore)
73.62 - 86.3 (25yo Aultmore)
4.189 - 86.7 (13yo Highland Park)
93.58 - 85.0 (14yo Glen Scotia)
4.186 - 88.7 (22yo Highland Park)

We rated all the whiskies indepently and only shared the scores after we all had a taste.

Now these are just average score and they do reflect that 2 of 3 in the group are known beforehand of not liking peated whiskies (the other two), but it only showed in one of the others ratings, he rated a couple  distinctively lower than the rest of us. I must say I wasn't a big fan of the Laphroaig or especially the PC myself, the latter having a terrible nose and awful finish, only saved by a somewhat decent palate.

By some facebook recommendations I had preordered the 35.108, but I returned it after tasting it blind, and got myself the Linkwood and Mortlach instead. Two distilleries that I normally don't rate that high. The Linkwood was the best whisky of the night, we agreed on that all three of us. I also found the 4.189 particular good for it's age and not like Highland Park at all. In fact I crossed it out as the whisky I hoped was the 35.108. Unfortunately it wasn't. It was very caramel-fudge-butterscotch in character.

But this is a great way to shop whiskies. Go by your palate. No labels or distillery names to distract you. In fact, this was the way I was introduced to the society in 2001. Back then I didn't really know a lot of distilleries. So I just went in, tasted some random whiskies trying to choose from the weird descriptions, and then purchased the bottle I like the best. It was SMWS that in this way introduced me to distilleries like Caperdonich and Glen Moray. I remember buying these whiskies and having no clue what the distillery was until I finished the bottles and decided to ask somebody

Of the above whiskies, it was the Aultmore where I was not in agreement with others. I rated it quite a lot lower as I found it to be sulphured

Getting ready for the blind tasting






Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Chita for the Whiskyshop Osaka


Japanese Grain

Chita Grain Whisky bottled for the Whiskyshop Osaka 48%

This is probably as grain as grain whisky can be, and that is probably good. It's a light dram, the spirit flavours through dominantly with a heavy layer of fudge/caramel. Quite one-dimensional, light and easy to drink

Grain Whisky is usually peaking at relatively high age, as the wood needed to make this type of spirit into great whisky needs to be low on intensity as the grain spirit is rather fragile and no way near as robust as other whisky spirits. Leave a grain on an almost dead cask for 50 years and wonders start to happen.

Put grain on a more active cask you could get something like this. I doubt this is more than 8-10 years old, the spirit base is shining through quite clearly, but the wood has affected an intense vanilla-caramel-butterscotch flavour.

This reminds me of Canadian Whisky if anything

Rating 83/100

Friday, December 27, 2013

Danish Whisky Blog awards 2013

Distillery of the Year

Four Roses



Four Roses is one of the few distilleries that just do it right. An almost endless set of releases of single barrels and small batch bourbons in various price ranges. Apart from their standard yellow label bourbon, they have an ongoing set of cheap single barrels that is not much older than the barrels they use for the yellow label. They also have more expensive, but still very affordable single barrels, some of which have been in the barrel for longer than 15 years. Everything is not just single barrel, Four Roses have their "Small Batch" range, which, as the name implies, is a vatting of of barrels. The speciel edition of this, "Small Batch Limited Edition" has been named the favourite bourbon the last couple of years by several of my bourbon entusiast friends. An eyeopenener for me in 2013 was visiting the danish bourbon/cocktail bar Salon 39 in Copenhagen, which makes a fantastic Old Fashioned based on Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon

Here is my review of one of their cheap single barrels:

Four Roses Single Barrel 50%
Warehouse QN, Barrel 36-3T

Nose: Fantastic balanced bourbon nose, where the sweet corn and rye parts are very well integrated, with a lot of spice, archetype bourbon floor varnish lacqeur,

Palate : Very creamy, vanilla, rye and spicy all at once. Great oomph factor and a bit of wood, quite intense on the wood and rye and the creamyness is profound. The youth of this is showing with a faint alcohol burn

Finish : medium and creamy

A somewhat simple, but very delicious bourbon

Rating 85/100

Unfortunately the european releases don't have the recipe information as the US releases have. My guess for this would be OBSV. When you look at the price for these single barrels, it's one of the best bargains in the big world of great whisk(e)y.

Independent Bottler of the Year

Cadenhead

Cadenhead has totally revamped their line up here in 2013. The line up is turning toward small batch bottlings of single malts and a series that is called "Creations", which is blends, small batch blands that is. The small batch bottlings is actually very small batches of 2-4 casks. So far I have tasted several really great malts Caperdonich 1977, Highland Park 1988, Glenlivet 1970, Tomatin 1978 and a great Creations 20yo consisting of of 4 casks (Mortlach 1992 butt,  Bruichladdich 1993, Cameronbridge 1989 and Invergordon 1991 hogsheads)

So far I have liked everything in this range a lot, apart from a Clynelish that was too sulphury for me. If the new Master Blender of Cadenhead, Mark Watt, can keep up this quality I think we are all in for a lot of good treats in future

Caperdonich

Caperdonich 35yo 50.2%
Cadenhead Small Batch

Nose : heavy sherry, musty and earthy
Palate : Sweet, sherried, raisins, faint medicinal, quite robust and earthy
Finish: Long, and here the oak spicyness hits with a touch of vanilla

Rating 90/100

It's a very lively whisky, very intense and powerful

Bottling of the Year

SMWS 35.71




Like a hug from your mum 47.7%
40yo Distilled 11th October 1971

To be honest this was actually bottled late in 2012, but came to my attention in the summer of 2013 and was one of the 2 best whiskies I had in 2013, the other being Martin Mills which was botled in 1999. SMWS is right now sitting on a range of splendid casks of their distillery # 35, and this is just one of three 35's I purchased in 2013. If you are looking for a whisky and haven't really decided, try one of the SMWS 35's!. Expect a review early in 2014 of 35.71 


Tasting of the Year

Diageo Tasting with Donald Colville, Spirit of Speyside

There is various ways to set up a tasting at a whisky festival, where you know that most of the people have tasted a lot of whisky. I think Donald Colville nailed it here and brought us guests a nice tastings. It was a perfect mix of what Diageo has bottled, past, present and also in the future

The setup was

Inchgower 1976 Rare Malts Selection 27yo 55.6%
Talisker Port Ruighe 45.8%
Caol Ila Feis Ile 2012 60.40%
Cragganmore 21yo 56%
Mortlach SoS Festival Bottling 48%
Talisker Storm 45.8%

A good mix of brand new releases and rare bottlings is what makes coming to Scotland and doing festivals worth it.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Glendronach 2002 selected by Whiskybase

Glendronach and Benriach are one (two!) of the few distilleries that do it right, and that is supplying customers with a range of affordable single cask bottlings. As single casks are rather limited when it comes to bottle numbers, a lot of these bottlings are exclusive for particular countries, regions, whiskyshops, whiskyclubs etc.

Today I have the pleasure of drinking a Glendronach bottled by the online whisky-community whiskybase.com to celebrate that whiskybase version 3 is up and coming in January. It will hold a lot of new features and functionalities, some of which I particular look forward to. Especially since I suggested one of them :-). I simply wish for a functionality similar to "places" on ratebeer.com. I hope I will get a helpful tool in locating good whiskybars around the world!



Glendronach 2002 57.2% 11yo by whiskybase.com
Oloroso Sherry Butt#2751 701 bottles
Distilled 30/5-2002, bottled December 2013


Nose: Clean, fruity, dusty and dried fruits

Palate: Dried fruits, raisins particular, a little hot on the alcohol, sweet and clean sherry, with a hint of creamy vanilla in the background, almonds.

Finish: medium, with a nice spicy touch that lingers

Rating 88/100

Comment: Nice with some clean unadulted sherry whisky which haven't been tainted by sulphur, something that Glendronach also occasionally suffers from. Luckily there is plenty to choose from, and this is one to choose. This is just what I want from an 11yo ex-oloroso sherried whisky.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

#DavinTT2 scavenger hunt questions 1-20



Promoting canadian whisky and his excellent book, which I recommended HERE recently, Davin De Kergommeaux (@DavindeK) together with Johanne McInnis (@Whiskylassie) and host Graham MacKenney (@grahammackenney) has setup 4 twitter events every sunday here in December, where participants discuss the book and taste some canadian whisky blind. Here in Denmark canadian whisky has absolutely close to zero attention, which is a shame and I wish some of the top bottlings would be available for us.

I am very pleased to participate in this as it gives a chance to taste some whisky not otherwise available for me, and to taste a whisky catagory that I have next to nothing experience with.Until now that is.

Of the three first blind tastings, I have been very impressed with Wiser's Red Letter, a whisky that unfortunately is not available in Denmark. I rated it around 89-90p tasting it blind. Quite high in rye, creamy, minty, shaved pencils, citrus and spicy with a nice creamy coconut finish!!



 I am looking forward to tonights canadian dram

During the first two twitter events, December 1 and 8, the first 20 questions were revealed:

1 What is the primary grain distilled at each of Alberta's three distilleries?

2 What is the oldest whisky bottled in Canada in the past decade?

3 True or false: Late 18th Century canadian whiskies were blended.

4 In what year did Thomas Molson first distilled his whisky?

5 Where was Henry Corby born?

6 In what year did the Government of Canada introduce the practice of bottling in bond?

7 True or False: The practice of using the “sour mash” process is unique to the United States and never used in making Canadian Whisky.

8 What process essentially lead to the development of Canadian Club’s “secret recipe?”

9 According to the Montreal Gazette, what was the largest distillery in the world in the early 1860’s?

10 True or False: Despite being known as one of Canada’s best-known distillers, Hiram Walker lived the majority of his life in the United States.

11 What three major whisky companies distil their whisky at Hiram Walker Distillery in Windsor?

12 What three ingredients are used to make whisky?

13 Which fully aged Canadian whisky is as colourless as vodka?

14 Which Canadian Distiller became a member of Parliament in 1878.

15 What distillery is built on the banks of the MacLellan's Brook?

16 What is the largest distillery operating in Canada today?

17 On what page of Davin's book will you find Mark Gillespie's name listed?

18 Although J.P. Wiser’s name is on the company, who can be credited with much of Wiser’s financial success?

19 At the time that this book was written, how many distilleries were producing Canadian Whisky?

20 Which Scottish Distillery was Glenora distillery closely associated with?

Now these questions are very hard if you don't allready have the book, the price is well worth it!

CANADIANA BASKET contains:   15, YES 15! – 60ml samples of Canadian Whiskies.  You’ll find:

1.       Alberta Premium 30 year old (rare)
2.       Bush Pilot (very rare and discontinued)
3.       Canadian Club 15 (rare and discontinued)
4.       Collingwood 21 year old, 100% rye whisky (BRAND NEW)
5.       Forty Creek John’s Private Cask (rare and discontinued)
6.       Gibson’s 18 from the 1980’s (very rare)
7.       Highwood 90 5 year old (BRAND NEW)
8.       Highwood 90 20 year old (BRAND NEW)
9.       Masterson’s 100% Barley (BRAND NEW)
10.   Masterson’s 100% Wheat (BRAND NEW)
11.   Stalk & Barrel Single Malt, Cask 5 (USA release only)
12.   Wiser’s Legacy
 and a few more that the organisers are leaving as surprises at this time!
The last five questions can be found on the following 5 whiskyblogs

All Scavenger Hunt answers to be sumbitted no later than December 28th 2013 to whiskylassie@gmail.com

Winner contacted and announced on December 29th.

Davin De kergommeaux has a website specifically covering canadian whisky : http://www.canadianwhisky.org/

Johanne McInnis has a blog that covers whisky in general http://whiskylassie.blogspot.ca/

I do like whiskytrivia quizzes myself, and if you look to the column to the right of this blog You can see a link to quite a few quizzes I have created.



Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A couple of whiskies I REALLY would like to taste

1. The ex-rye cask versus the ex-bourbon cask

I've been asking around about this, but noone has yet to come out with a sensible answer

I reckon most distilleries doesn't really distuinguish between if an ex-american whiskey barrel held bourbon or rye, or distuingish between barrels that held bourbon with or without rye. High rye bourbons are more similar to low rye ryes than no-rye bourbons in my opinion.

You can see bottles of whisky from all kind of casks: sherry, red wine, white wine, port, marsala, tokaji, muscat, name it, if something has been on wood, they will use it for whisky at some point. Even herings.
  But you don't really see anyone mentioning the type of american bourbon or rye that was in a barrel before malt whisky went in.

Maybe it doesn't really matter, who knows? I don't.



There is a few examples of whisky where the provenance of the bourbon barrel is mentioned. One is the Glenglassaugh Ex-Tennessee. Could be Dickel or Jack Daniels. Almost same mashbill by the way. Mackmyra is known to use exclusively JD barrels. The danish distillery Stauning has an ex-rye finish malt whisky out. It's finished on casks that was used to mature Stauning rye. End of the day, attention to this matter is not very huge.

So here is what I really would like to taste:

Imagine a distillery making three batches of casks. One is whisky matured on ex-bourbon - Wheated bourbon that is. The other is whisky matured on ex-rye casks. Normal rye whiskey. Most ryes have a rye content not much larger than 51%. The third batch of barrels should be matured on some of the extreme rye barrels out thee. I am specifically thinking of the LDI 95/5 rye-barley ryes.

After at least 10 years each variant is vatted with casks matured in the same type to filter out single cask variations. A vertical of these three whiskies. Just to satisfy my curiosity That is something I would really like to taste. I don't think any distilleries has done anything like that, but who knows, a lot is happening behind closed doors.

2. Japanese Bourbon

No, this is not an april's fool

Bourbon has to be made in USA, otherwise it's not allowed to be labeled as bourbon. It's a protected name.

But Fuji-Gotemba in Japan is actually producing bourbon. It's used as a flavour part of their blends. I would really like to taste a proper aged version of this. Fuji-Gotemba is owned by Kirin. Their other distillery is Four Roses, one of the leading producers of bourbon today.

Fuji-Gotemba