Month: May 2018

WOTW – Kilbeggan 8-year-old single grain

With the abnormally good weather we’ve had lately, and on top of that all extra work because of the GDPR, this blog has been quite ignored! But it’s WOTW time, and I thought I’d continue with Kilbeggan. My last Kilbeggan encounter wasn’t as good as I had expected, so today I’m happy to announce that my experience with their 8-year-old single grain was delightful!

The single grain whiskey from Cooley was formerly named, Greenore, but has been rebranded to Kilbeggan. This 8-year-old has won a gold medal at the International Wine & Spirits Competition, and it was a winner as soon as it entered my palate. 

It’s made with corn, distilled in column stills, and I’ve been trying to find information about cask types but haven’t found any – I’m guessing ex-bourbon casks. It’s bottled at 40% ABV.

This whiskey is NICE. In the past, I’ve been reluctant about even tasting grain whiskeys, because I had this attitude about them being flavourless. But then I tasted the Teeling single grain, and then Method & Madness. Now I’ve tasted the Kilbeggan. All of them lovely. Here it goes…

Honey, sweetness, something minty, a slight feel of toffee – maybe because of the honey sweetness.

There’s honey with an attitude, nice sweetness but something spicy to it. Fresh tropical fruit. There’s a light bitterness but it’s still sweet and soft, with lots of lingering flavour. Some pepper added in a long nice finish.

With a drop of added water, the aromas intensify, with some wood and grass added. On the palate not a big difference but I get a more complex impression after added water.

An 8-year-old grain whiskey will never (and shouldn’t!) compete with a well made single pot still or single malt in terms of flavours – but this whiskey has been added to my favourites list. Very nice, smooth but with nice long lasting flavours. Everything I thought about column stilled whiskey has now been turned upside down!

WOTW – Kilbeggan 21 years old

Some time ago when I couldn’t sleep, I browsed an online whiskey shop, and decided to order some samples. One of them was the 21-year-old Kilbeggan. I just recently found out that they have released an older Kilbeggan, and of course I was curious about it. I didn’t know what to expect since I haven’t really tasted much of the Cooley brands, although I’ve probably tasted loads of their stock sold to non-distiller whiskey companies.

I’m not greatly fond of the ordinary Kilbeggan blend, it’s not bad at all but it’s a little too sweet for my taste and simply doesn’t stand out much enough to fall into my favourite whiskey category. But older whiskeys are always interesting, and I was curious about what years in a cask would do to a Kilbeggan whiskey.

I have mixed emotions about older whiskeys. Some are fantastic while others lose nice characters with age. Some of my very favourite whiskeys are of this age – like the 21-year-old Redbreast for example – but there are other whiskeys that I prefer as 12-year-olds. So what about this Kilbeggan?

(The disadvantage with buying sample bottles is the lack of decent photos!!)

This is a limited blend – made with malt and grain (from corn) whiskeys.. A variety of cask types have been used – ex-bourbon, port, madeira and sherry. It’s bottled at 40% ABV.

Sweet, vanilla, a fruitiness I can’t define. Something that reminds of paint. Citrus peel – mostly lime.

Citrus, cereals, honey. The flavours stay in the front part of my mouth – there’s not any real development on the palate. This disappoints me a bit, and also that there’s quite a lot of flavour but I think there’s something missing, probably the fact that it lacks the complexity on the palate in my opinon. It has a medium finish that is slightly bitter but it also has the honeyish type of sweetness.

So well, this wasn’t one that blew me away and I won’t go and buy a full bottle of it. Still, it was good to get the opportunity to taste it.

WOTW – Dingle single malt, Supervalu release

This is another whiskey that was sent to me while I was in Ireland in March. A very nice limited edition Dingle single malt, matured in bourbon casks and finished in port casks. (or was there even more than one cask?)

While the Batch 1 single malt was quite light in flavour (although a VERY nice flavour profile) and therefore didn’t enter my whiskey tasting recently, this special single malt was an unexpected surprise. If I had known about it in time so that I could have bought a few bottles, I would definitely have included this in the tasting. Now I saw it had been sold at auction for 270 GBP. So crazy for a 3-year-old whiskey!

However. Dingle is an interesting distillery that I admire a bit. I guess you can discuss whether or not it is a good thing to release a whiskey after only three years, but I like the concept. I completely understand why other new distilleries buy sourced whiskey to release good whiskey under their own brand while waiting for their own produced whiskey to mature, but at the same time – when they release their own produce, will it follow the same profile as the sourced whiskey? Or be totally different?

When a distillery ONLY uses their own produce, you can follow the development of the whiskey exactly. But that being said, I’m a novice in the more exact details of how distilleries work with these things – I would love to have the opportunity to stay a couple of days in a distillery to learn more about how they work and find out this kind of details. I hope I can do something like that in the future.

It has an interesting woody character to the nose. I also get chocolate, mint, herbs, grass, something that reminds of apple.

It gives a dry feel to the mouth. Red wine, a light bitter flavour, undefined spices, a feel of old damp basement/warehouse. Peppery, woody finish, it’s a lot more intense than the other Dingle single malt whiskeys I’ve tasted (Batch 1 & 2).

With a few drops of water the aromas disappear quite a lot and the alchohol comes through a bit more. However, it also seems more balanced in the flavours after adding a drop or two of water, more oily texture and more sweetness. This with the dry feel to the palate makes me think of Redbreast Lustau. Interesting whiskey and more intense in flavour than the other Dingle whiskeys (not counting the single pot still here). I hope they will continue to do this sort of special releases so we can taste more of what Dingle has to offer. 

Thanks again to Whiskey Nut for sample!

WOTW – Dublin Liberties Oak devil

I came across this brand when I started searching for information about Irish whiskey some year ago. The Dublin Liberties whiskey, The Dubliner whiskey, and now Dead Rabbit, are owned by Quintessential Brands (along with many others, I’ve only mentioned the whiskeys here), and a new distillery also named Dublin Liberties will open later this year in – of course – the historical Liberties area in Dublin.

This old whiskey quarter of Dublin is now awakening to be a whiskey producing area again. Teeling opened there, then Pearse Lyons distillery, and now Dublin Liberties.

There’s loads to say about the Liberties and about its history, and I certainly want to learn more about it, but I’ll leave that for another day.

I was curious to taste these whiskeys, and I ordered the Copper Alley – or so I thought. I don’t know who did the mistake, myself or the web shop I ordered from! I didn’t receive the Copper Alley but instead the Oak Devil, and of course that one is also interesting to taste.

The Oak Devil is a blend of double distilled malt and grain whiskeys. It’s aged in ex-bourbon casks and bottled at 46%. It appears the Liberties was once called “Hell” and with this whiskey they’ve played around with that. The website describes a carved oak devil that once stood at the entrance to the Liberties, and that one night suddenly disappeared, seduced by the whiskey angels escaping the barrels of the distilleries, or that the dark powers from the oak devil entered the barrels. Dark powers or not, this was an interesting whiskey to taste, definitely not the typical blend.

This whiskey has a FANTASTIC aroma. I’d like a scented candle with this! Light wood, floral, something that reminds me of wild strawberries. Pineapple, light lemon, something minty and herbal. I love it.

I wasn’t totally impressed by the flavours here, but it has some interesting characters. As with the nose, i get something woody and very floral, mint and herbs, a kind of bitter feel. Quite dry and has a nice peppery finish.

The bitter and quite odd flavour makes the Oak Devil not one of the whiskeys I enjoy to sip. Interesting, yes, and it’s fasacinating how different it is from other bourbon matured whiskeys I’ve tasted, but the bitter feel it gives my palate isn’t my cup of tea. However, I’m looking forward to seeing the distillery open, and I will definitely visit when I get a chance. I’m now also looking forward to tasting the other whiskey, the one i intended to buy – the Copper Alley.

WOTW – Yellow Spot single pot still whiskey

The Spot whiskeys from Midleton distillery have an interesting history. It started in the late 1800s, when bakery & confectionery business Mitchell & Son expanded the business to also include wine and spirits, and owned a variety of wine casks. They sent casks to the Jameson distillery in Bow street to be filled with fine pot still whiskey, that would then be matured in Mitchell & Son’s warehouse.

There were a few different whiskeys aged in casks that were marked with colours, depending on the age of the whiskey. There was the Blue Spot (7 years), Green Spot (10 years), Yellow Spot (12 years) and Red Spot (15 years). However, only the Green Spot survived the fall of the Irish whiskey industry, and is actually the only pure pot still whiskey that has continued to be in production over the years. It was the only single pot still whiskey in business for a while, until the Redbreast brand was revived in 1991.

For some time, Green Spot was a very rare whiskey and sold only in Dublin or traded in secret, but today it’s part of the Midleton core range and is available in three different variations. When all Dublin distilleries closed, production moved to Midleton but bottling and marketing is still done by Mitchell & Son in Dublin, which is also the case with Yellow Spot.

Yellow spot was originally made from a mix of pot still whiskeys aged for 12 years in three different cask types; casks that had held bourbon, sherry and sweet Malaga wine (made from Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel grapes). The brand was discontinued in the 1950s but was relaunched again in 2012, using “recipes” from old archives – there were still some casks of 12-year-old Malaga matured pot still whiskey in the warehouse, so the whiskey could be relaunched with the same style as in the past.

Hay, lots of honey, citrus, white wine, dark varnished wood, sweetness, some vanilla, something Christmas-y – could be cloves?

Sticky honey, pepper, I get the feel of the crispy top of creme brulée, a very intense spiciness. Tropical fruits. Long spicy and sweet finish. A drop of water doesn’t do much other than add some sweetness.

This is not the typical pot still whiskey if you compare it with for example a Redbreast. Nice and complex though and if you like sweet whiskeys, this is one you need to taste. I’m a big fan of single pot still whiskey, and this is a very nice addition to the single pot still family of the Midleton range. I actually like the Yellow spot more than the Green spot for the added complexity and a different twist. 
I would love to see also the Red spot and the Blue spot be relaunched, but maybe that’s too much to wish for..