Friday, March 29, 2013

Four Roses

Four Roses is a bourbon distillery located in Kentucky

And it is a distillery to keep an eye on. It didn't really have the best reputation, but after Kirin took ownership from Seagram in 2002 they have slowly but steadily developed this brand from something that didn't mean much to any entusiast, to one of the worlds top quality bourbon

Four Roses Warehouses

There's a few things that distinguish Four Roses from other bourbon distilleries. One is their warehouse facilities. The traditional multi story warehouses across the road is actually owned by Wild Turkey. Four Roses did acquire a piece of land 50 miles west of the distillery and their warehouses are one story only. which is unusual for Kentucky bourbons.

The other difference is yeast/mash bill combos of Four Roses

Four Roses has two mashbill

 E mashbill 75% corn, 20% rye and 5% barley
 B mashbill 60% corn, 35% rye and 5% barley

I would describe these mashbills as medium rye and high rye compared to other bourbon mashbills

Combined with 5 different yeasts V, K, O, Q and F this essentially gives Four Roses 10 different bourbon styles to play around with

Four Roses Single Cask bottling

Beside the regular standard Four Roses there is now a range of single casks and small batch bottlings and also the limited single cask and limited small batch. Everybody reading this will probably know that every single cask is as limited as the next, but the Four Roses limited range is older whiskey than their "regular" and more prolific output of single casks.

Four Roses distillery itself is build in a beautiful spanish hacienda style:

Four Roses distillery

Visiting Four Roses is actually two separate tours, you have to book at the warehouse facility separately. If you ever get the chance I can recommend them both highly, especially the warehouse tour which is very interesting well guided tour.

Today's dram is a 16yo single barrel OBSV, barrel #4 selected for the Four Roses visitor centre. 

O designates Four Roses Distillery, B the high rye mashbill, S is Straight Whiskey Distillation, and V is the yeast type The 5 yeasts origin from the 5 distilleries Seagram (Four Roses former owner) used to own in Kentucky, but today all Four Roses has the 1st letter O and third letter S as standard

Bottled at 54.7%

Nose: Very Fruity for a bourbon, and later a little minty rye notes

Palate : Butterscotch, leathery, oranges, a little more relaxed on the fruit which is dominating the nose. The finish has the typical sharp minty feature I often get in ryes and high rye bourbons and the vanilla/butterscotch kicks in as the finale. The bourbon is vibrant in its expression and has a lot of hidden layers so its an exciting experience to dram. It develops very well with some time in the glass and slowly opens up a small kaleidoscope of flavours as it initial seems a little bit closed. This is clearly something I would like a bottle of. You get rewarded a lot if you spend some time with the whiskey. 

Rating 89/100

Thanks to Sku for the sample

You can find his review here

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Whiskybroker Cragganmore

Whiskybroker is an independent bottler with a regular output of very cheap independent bottlings, with quite some interesting bottlings between. MArtin Armstrong is not afraid og bottling some adventurous stuff, like an understrength Macallan or a very bourbonesque Longmorn. Recently he even bottled an Ardbeg which sold out in 10 minutes

This mornings dram is a little warmup to a tasting I am going to in a couple of hours

Cragganmore 20yo 53.4% Whiskybroker
Hogshead 1146, 8/3-1991->14/10-2011

The nose is light, but classic whisky with a white winish note going into a grassy feeling

The palate is that of a basic classic whisky. Light, grassy, pears, quite some prickly spicy wood, and for the whisky being light and simple there is a long delicious spicy finish. By classic I mean a archtype Speyside from an ex-bourbon cask. The light refreshing whisky is a perfect morning dram before you palate get tainted by the daily do's. The balance between the light classic Speyside style and the prickly wood is perfect and I wouldn't have left this in the cask any longer. This whisky is perfect example of single malt that hasn't been manipulated by peat, sherry or anything else

Rating 86/100

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Isle of Jura

Isle of Jura is a beautiful Island, one of the southern Hebridians, with the breathtaking Paps of Jura dominating the view almost everywhere on the island. One of my dreams is to climb the paps one day.

One of the Paps seen from the Jura Hotel

The name of the island is derivating from a norse word meaning animal, and if you ask a swede to say animal you get the heritage easily.

With fantastic scenery, and less than 200 inhabitants, this is the place to go if you want to get away from it all. Still, there is a small grocery store, a nice little hotel with a good pub and a distillery on the island.

Isle of Jura has always been hit or miss for me, but for today I will try a couple of independent bottlings and see how they do

First up is a bottling from SMWS

Isle of Jura 31.23 23yo 51.7%
Distilled 27.09.1988 
SMWS own description is "Sugared almonds in a matress factory" which actually scares me a little bit.

Image from Whiskybase

The nose is very delicate or even thin, a little fruityness but quite anonymous but what there is is very nice.
The palate is sweet candy-fruits, with a little woodspice and the general mouthfeel is an old whisky like they used to taste in the good old days. Really delicious. It is close to be as fragile as some watered down older whiskies I have tasted but it is saved by the relative intense finish. This is clearly a malt that would have been ruined if watered down, but isn't most at 40% ?

The finsih is dominated by the wood spices and long and relative intense and kicks this whisky off very nicely and the finish is actually so nice I have to delay the start of the next whisky just to enjoy this

This is an excellent cask from Isle of Jura and doesn't remind me of the distilleries own bottlings

Rating 88/100

Thanks to Johanne from The Perfect Whisky Match for the sample. 

Next up is a van Wees bottling, a dutch whisky shop

Isle of Jura, Gordon and MacPhail Reserve 1995-2010 57.8% 14yo

Image from Whiskybase

Nose: This is more traditional Isle of Jura to me. The nose is sweet, ripe fruits with a metallic touch, not far from what I get from Glen Scotia (see a post from last week). Drinking this is a very fullbodied whisky with a creamy tecture, sweet riped fruits with the metallic Isle of Jura fingerprint. I should name it the "West Coast Fingerprint" as it is something I find in Isle of Jura, Glen Scotia and Ben Nevis around 50% of the time I have whisky from one of these three distilleries.

I get a few more notes from this, burned sugared almonds transfering the bitterness into the metalic sense which is dominating in the finish. I am pretty sure the assesment on this whisky is very dependent how easy you can cope with the metallic bitter touch, as the fullbodied creamy texture of this malt is really nice

Rating 84/100

Thanks to Ras Mazunga for the sample