Monday, 31 March 2014

Talisker 10

A Tasty Dram whisky blog tasting notes


Storm bashing a stained pier

Talisker is the (for now) only distillery on the isle of Skye and went into production in 1830.  In 1925 it became part of Distillers Company, the current Diageo.

The distillery was destroyed by fire in the sixties and has been rebuild completely. The five stills were copied indentically in an attempt to preserve the Talisker flavours.

The core range consists of a 10 years old, an 18 years old expression, a 57° North with an ABV of 57%, a NAS Storm and a duty free exclusive Dark Storm. In 2013 Diageo released a Triple Matured and an exclusive 27 year old 1985 Talisker.
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Saturday, 29 March 2014

Qwizky III: een kort verslag

Gisterenavond namen we deel aan onze eerste whiskyquiz met de Walson Lilliam’s (of was het nu Lilliam Walson’s?). De verwachtingen waren - euh - eerder laag gespannen. Als vier nieuwkomers in het vak gingen we het opnemen tegen ervaren whiskyquizzers en -kenners. Maar goed, het verhaaltje van de beer en zijn vel indachtig trokken we met goede moed richting Het Wijnatelier in Kalken voor de derde editie van Mark Dermul’s Qwizky.

Qwizky III

Zes ploegen waren ingeschreven waaronder twee nieuwkomers en de twee vorige winnaars. Het voordeel was dat we wél al verzekerd waren van een prijs. Voor zover dat eigenlijk al belangrijk was natuurlijk. De vragen waren verdeeld over 5 rondes met telkens een mysterieuze whisky tussendoor.

Single Minded Auchentoshan
Ronde 1 ging over whiskylabels. Tien flessen zonder merknaam herkennen bleek een eitje te zijn, op een Kilbeggan en een Rosebank na dan toch. Meteen maar de joker ingezet. Een stresspunt minder en dit leek onze beste kans om punten te scoren.

De mystery dram die ons werd voorgeschoteld was een 12-jarige Auchentoshan. Hoe kon het ook anders als de Toshan Man een quiz organiseert? Ik dacht initieel aan een triple distilled maar had Auchentoshan uitgesloten omdat ik geen citrus of crème brulée terugvond. Damn you stomme verkoudheid!

Moest Mark zich afvragen waarom die ene enkeling gewoon maar eens aan de dram nipte en de rest subtiel overgoot in een sampleflesje; ik wou geen risico nemen met de medicatie die momenteel op het menu staat :-).

Ronde 2 bleek andere koek te zijn. De opdracht was om de ‘Glen’ stills aan de hand van een foto en een beschrijving te herkennen. Dit was minder evident, en dat was dan nog maar een understatement. Twee op tien was de imposante score, met dank aan Glenlivet en Glenrothes. Hier werd duidelijk het kaf van het koren gescheiden. De groepen met een aantal Schotlandtrips achter de kiezen kwamen duidelijk naar voren.

De tweede mystery dram moest wel een Glen… zijn. Jammer genoeg stonden er twee in het lijstje van 10 mogelijkheden. 50% kans op succes. Of niet… Fout gegokt dus!
Jim Beam Devil's Cut
Ronde 3 was dan weer ietsje meer doenbaar. Buitenlandse distilleerders zijn dunner gezaaid en makkelijker herkenbaar. Enkel de Zuid-Afrikaanse James Sedgwick en de Australische Lark Distillery waren ons onbekend.

De volgende mystery dram bleek een eitje te zijn. Medequizzers Laurent en Benoît bleken een Jim Beam in de kast te hebben die wel heel erg op deze leek. De Devil’s Cut van Jim Beam was easy peasy.

Ronde 4 over hotels en restaurants was… aartsmoeilijk! De imposante score van 2/10 werd zo mogelijk nog overtroffen door een 1/10. Chef Zonder Restaurant was het enige antwoord dat we konden geven. Hotel 3 leek op Fawlty Towers dus hebben we de lege vakken maar ingevuld met alle variaties die we maar konden bedenken uit de cultreeks.

Mystery dram 4 was een pure gok. De meeste Speyside opties waren een goede mogelijkheid. Het bleek een Macallan Ruby te zijn.

Gelukkig konden we toch nog een aantal punten sprokkelen in ronde 5. Eén keertje op het verkeerde been gezet met “Zoek het niet te ver” voor de vraag over de grootouders van Mark Reynier. Zoals steeds gold het aloude gezegde: “Volg steeds je eerste gedacht.”.

Bowmore 12
Mystery dram 5 moest een makkie zijn. Ik meende echter de houtbeits die ik met Talisker associeer te ruiken. Beter geluisterd naar de quizmakkers. En zeggen dat ik de 12-jarige Bowmore dan nog in de kast heb staan.

Uiteindelijk bleken we op een onverhoopte vierde plaats te zijn beland. De top drie stond mooi afgetekend van de rest. Al bij al toch een mooi resultaat voor vier groentjWe hebben genoten van de amusante anekdotes, hebben leuke prijzen mee naar huis en hebben behoorlijk wat afgelachen. Volgend jaar zijn we zeker opnieuw van de partij. Hopelijk met meer kennis en kunde…
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Saturday, 22 March 2014

Gordon & Macphail Reserve Glenlossie 2000 for Maltclan



A Tasty Dram whisky blog tasting notes


Third time lucky for Belgium whisky club Maltclan

Belgium whisky club Maltclan recently released their third bottling. It is again a bottling from Gordon & Macphail. After a first Glenrothes and a second Glenburgie they were in for a third 'Glen': Glenlossie.

This distillery was unknown to me until now. The distillery was founded in 1876 and does not release official bottlings. The only expressions that came close to official bottlings are a 10 year old Flora & Fauna and a rare 12 years old Manager's Dram.
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Monday, 17 March 2014

Strathisla 12

A Tasty Dram whisky blog tasting notes

Good-natured veteran

Strathisla is one of the oldest distilleries in the Highlands and has been continuously in production since 1786. The distillery had switched names multiple times in its early days, but in 1951 she regained her original name. Literally meaning "Valley of the river Isla".

The company changed the packaging some time ago. The box in British racing green was replaced by a stylish white box. The bottle has seen a radical metamorphosis. The color can now be fully appreciated in a clear glass bottle.
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Thursday, 13 March 2014

Johnnie Walker Red Label

A Tasty Dram whisky blog tasting notes


Coke addicted junk from the seventies suffering from megalomania


Titanic beverage group Diageo sells 130 million bottles of Johnnie Walker on a yearly basis. The Red Label blend accounts for the vast majority of these figures. It is one of the cheapest blends and has been produced since 1909. It is probably the most widely available tipple in the world. Red Label contains 35 different malt and grain whiskies.
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Tuesday, 11 March 2014

A visit to the London branch of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Prologue

Becoming a SMWS member was something that stood on my whish list for quite a while. I was utterly intrigued by the bottle design, inspiring names and educational value of their Unfiltered magazine (although it suffers a bit from anorexia). At the beginning of February I finally filled out the membership form.

A week later I received the confirmation and payment information. I agree, the first year is quite expensive. After smacking a € 110 on the table, they'll send you an elegant box with a badge, a note book, the bottle code list, 4 random 10cl samples and the latest Unfiltered magazine. And of course your membership card that opens a few British (correction: one English and two Scottish) doors.



Monday February 10

An early Valentines- and birthday gift came out of the blue. My girlfriend could not wait any longer to announce we would be going to London on Friday to celebrate my 30th birthday. My brain went into overdrive for a few seconds: buying shaving soaps at Truefitt & Hill, Geo. F. Trumper, Taylor of Old Bond Street and Dr. Harris. Buying some whiskies at Berry Bros & Rudd and The Whisky Exchange/Vinopolis. And SMWS has a venue in London...Too much to plan, very few days to go.

Two emails with SMWS Benelux/Germany later, I had some kind of admission letter for Greville Street. Chances that I'd receive my actual membership card before Friday were very small. Better safe than sorry.

Friday February 14

Fast forward to our departure day. At nine o'clock in the morning (one hour and a half prior to departure) someone rang at the door.
- “Gert Claus”
- “Ehm, yes?”
- “I've got a parcel for you, sir. Sign here please.” 
Again the brain matter in overdrive. Valentines gift? Birthday gift? I glanced at my girlfriend, she looked as puzzled as me. Only one way to find out. Open it! Aha! The SMWS gift box with the membership card. I quickly put it in my pocket and off to London we were.

The SMWS members box

Monday February 17

On Monday we had some spare time to visit Greville Street. Some research learned me the address (The Bleeding Heart Yard) was featured in a few Charles Dickens novels.

source: beerintheevening.com
As an almost digital-native, I found a thumbnail picture of the front door. Via Google Street View I could identify the door belonging to a small house next to the Bleeding Heart Tavern. He who is well prepared has half won the battle, right? From our London studio we only needed to take the underground from Kings Cross St. Pancras to Farringdon. 5 minutes later I had my magical green card ready to open the door.

Members only...

Greville Street 19 is rather small but cosy. A crackling fire, two large couches, a few tables and some comfortable chairs. We quickly picked our spot in the corner. But then picking a drink... A catalogue with telephone book allures was waiting for me. Some guy called Neo once said: "Choice. The problem is choice". Damn, he was right after all.

I decided to start with the Malt of the Month. A nine year old Benrinnes that went by the name "Intensely Tasty".

The tasting notes of the Society panel on bottling 37.67
A good example of whisky transformed by water – we didn’t know what to make of the nose – quite fruity (baked apple, fruit salad, watermelon, lemon curd, pear-drops) with an odd assortment of other aromas – Hawaiian pizza (pineapple, ham, pizza dough) pine forests and model kits.
With water, suddenly the sweetness was released – caramel wafers, honeycomb crunch ice-cream and vanilla fudge. The unreduced palate seemed sweet and sour – pineapple dusted with chilli and salt, peppery Cream Soda and a slightly metallic finish – but water settled it down to zesty key lime pie and biscuity flavours – intensely tasty. Named after Speyside’s biggest mountain.
Drinking tip: As an aperitif or to awaken the senses. 
Date Distilled: 17 June 2004
Colour: Fake gold
Age: 9 years years
Flavour : Juicy, oak & vanilla
Cask Type: First fill ex-bourbon barrel
Whisky Region: Speyside Spey

 Dram number two grabbed my attention with his name only: “An ‘Old Fashioned’ in a traditional barber shop”. If there was a whisky that could wrap up my birthday trip to London, it was this 26-year old Mortlach.

The tasting notes of the Society panel on bottling 76.103:
First impressions are slightly dusty and oily like in a traditional barbers shop; pre-shave oil, Old Spice aftershave, sandalwood hair wash, Brylcreem styling hair cream, and a well-used leather razor strop. Customers are offered, whilst waiting, salt and vinegar peanuts, a slice of Madeira cherry cake and an ‘Old Fashioned’ with an orange slice and a lemon twist. The taste offers wood smoke as well as fried bacon, Garibaldi biscuits and Chinese rice crackers. With water the nose has an intense sweet hickory smoke aroma next to singed orange peel. The taste is now like toasted coconut and dark chocolate infused with flavours of orange, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Drinking tip: Whilst waiting for your haircut
Date Distilled: 7 April 1987
Colour:Bronze  Age: 26 years years
Flavour :Spicy & sweet
Cask Type: Refill ex-bourbon hogshead
Whisky Region:Speyside Spey
I wanted to tame one last peaty beast to finish the evening. I picked a Caol Ila with the telling name "True love on a pebble beach".

 The tasting notes of the Society panel on bottling 53.201:
The nose inspired a picture – boy and girl – pebble beach, bonfire smoking – he cut his hand opening oysters – she applied bandages and iodine from first aid box; she was wearing powder puff and lavender perfume – he stole a honeyed kiss; then they spread a tarpaulin and enjoyed Lapsang souchong and sherbet straws watching the sunset. The palate was hot and intense – peppered mackerel in chilli sauce, crab with grapefruit, Edinburgh Rock, burning twigs, lobster shells, coal, soot, bandages, hot stones, smoke and liquorice – but with water, a wonderfully drinkable mix of hot-dogs, ash, carbolic and chilli chocolate from Islay’s largest distillery. 
Drinking tip: A wonderful bed time dram – to inspire sweet dreams  
Date Distilled: 29 August 1995
Colour:Bright moonlight on barley stubble
Age:18 years years
Flavour : Heavily peated
Cask Type: Refill ex-sherry butt
Whisky Region: Islay

I sampled three delicious whiskies in a cosy environment that stimulates inspiring conversations and some lovely company. Too bad it is a bit far from our small Belgian countryside hometown.
Source:guildfordwhiskyblog.wordpress.com 


But Neo The Terrible One still had a role to play. I absolutely wanted to take one bottle home. “An ‘Old Fashioned’ in a traditional barber shop” had a small advantage, because of his name. But that Caol Ila was also damned good.

 Luckily there was a deus ex machina moment. "If you really want the other bottle, I'll offer it you" said my lovely girlfriend. Problem solved: two priceless (matter of speaking) bottle for my collection and I as a child. 

Back home in Belgium, I noticed the bottlings for the U.K. aren't same as those available in Belgium. So the bottles I brought home are truly unique. My ego was flattered again and I was even more happy.

The loot after 5 days of London...

Read the original Dutch post on my tumblr blog A Tasty Dram:Een bezoekje aan de Londense Scotch Malt Whisky Society



Update: My enthousiasm is extinguishing at the moment. My local branch (Benelux - Germany) only organises events in Germany. Belgium and The Netherlands are pretty much neglected and member input does not seem to be wanted... On top of that bottlings are £ 15 to £ 20 more expensive. The only thing that's keeping me a member is Unfiltered magazine. This will be something for a future blogpost...
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Friday, 7 March 2014

Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2006 Dunlossit Farm

A Tasty Dram whisky blog tasting notes


Rub the bottle three times and the spirit of the island appears.

Bruichladdich proves that the concept of 'terroir' is not exclusive to the world of wine. Islay Barley 2006 is the second release in the former Uber Provenance range.
Islay Barley is the product from one farmer (John Logan of Dunlossit Farm), one barley variety (Chalice) and one field (Jubilee Field).

“We believe terroir matters”? One should start thinking it. They even provide you with a geographical description of the barley field (the eastern side of the island, at an elevation of 100 metres ).

In 2013 the Bruichladdich adapted its core strategy and goes full throttle on the concept of local barley. We should be seeing more “Islay Barley” and "Scottish Barley” in stores by now.
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