I was fortunate to make it to the Whistler whiskey tasting on Friday the 26th of June. There were sample kits for the first 50 lucky people who signed up, and it seems I was quick enough for once.
It was a tasting of the Whistler cask finish series, that includes the Oloroso cask, Calvados cask and Imperial stout cask. I had previously tasted the Oloroso and the Imperial stout cask, both good whiskeys, and I've written about the Oloroso cask finish about a year ago on this blog. The one I hadn't tasted at all was the Calvados cask finish.
The Whistler is the brand of the Boann distillery, and I've mentioned them a few times on Instagram, quite much because of their lovely music themed branding. Being a music geek myself, of course I can't resist a brand like that - just have a look at this gorgeous bottle top.
Sadly, this top came off the cork when I opened my new shiny bottle of the Calvados cask whiskey. The same thing happened with a Kilchoman bottle quite recently and again I started to worry about the liquid, and if I should pour it into another bottle unless I had another cork. I'm not very competent with these things (probably being silly, but I don't want my whiskeys to go bad if I can prevent it!), so I posted a question on Instagram - and within 10 minutes or so I had a private message from Boann. They apologised and sent me two new cork tops! They were very nice and helpful, and I totally applaud them for the excellent customer service.
The Boann distillery
Since I last mentioned the Boann distillery on the blog, they have started production, and the distiller is none less than the previous distiller at Dingle distillery, Michael Walsh. He's one of Ireland's youngest distillers, and from what I've tasted of the first Dingle releases, he must be doing a good job.
With plans to explore other grains and mashbills in the future, for now their main distillate is single pot still spirit with a mashbill of 50% unmalted barley and 50% malt.
This cask finish series is a collection of sourced whiskeys, blends of grain and malt whiskey, finished in casks and blended by the Boann team. It includes the Oloroso sherry cask finish, the Imperial stout finish and this Calvados cask finish.
If you follow me on Instagram you may know that I haven't been a fan of the idea of using Calvados casks. This was only based on the fact that I don't like Calvados as a drink. I also assumed that Calvados cask finish would give lots of fresh fruit characters to the whiskey, and I generally prefer darker, heavier flavours in whiskey rather than light, fruity and floral. I thought Calvados cask finish would mostly mean apple, other fresh fruit and summery lightness so I've never had any interest in tasting them. But when this Whistler tasting came up and I was able to take part, the curious side of me woke up. I've recently had the opportunity to explore some interesting uncommon mashbills so why not try to give Calvados a chance, and discover it with an open mind?
Very odd nose! Not in a bad way though. The first aromas I get remind me of a walk in the forest in Sweden in mid June. There's wood and fresh birch leaves, then green apple peel, fresh apple, baked apple with cinnamon, and banana. I somehow get a hint of white wine too.
There's a nice mix of fresh and baked apple, and with spice building up. It has a nice creamy mouthfeel and an intense sweetness - although I experience it less sweet today than I did the other day. There's also a darker, heavier and almost leathery flavour that really appeals to my palate.. the finish isn't long but very nice with a feel of apple pie, cinnamon and custard.
Boann distillery, you've proved me wrong. This is a gorgeous whiskey and I'll never say anything bad about Calvados casks ever again.