Sunday, 30 August 2015

Vestal Appelation Kaszebe 2010 Vintage

A Tasty Dram Whisky Blog tasting notes

V for Vodka

Vodka is very likely many people's first distilled experience. A perfect mixer with a fairly neutral flavour. From the ubiquitous Screwdriver to the Vodka Martini, many of these world famous cocktails owe a great deal to the pure spirit of vodka.

Unlike most spirits, vodka can be distilled from pretty much anything agricultural. Grains and potatoes are the most commonly used products. But also grapes and more funky stuff like cheese can be turned into vodka.

Vestal Vodka was set up in Poland by father John and son William Borrell. The concept of terroir is no stranger to Vestal. By specifying the vintage and the potato varietal and only distilling once they put the focus on the product instead of the purity of the vodka. The Kaszebe vodka is distilled from potatoes grown in the sandy soils of Kaszubia region in northern Poland.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

News: Royal Brackla presents its new range and royal uniform

John Dewar & Sons unveiled a new range of The Last Great Malts bottlings from Royal Brackla distillery, one of Scotland’s oldest and most venerable distilleries.

The new single malts; a 12 yo, a 16yo and a 21 years old will be available from September 2015.

Royal Brackla Range
A lovely old fashoned label for the new Royal Brackla range

Standing on the fertile farmland of the Cawdor Estate, Royal Brackla Distillery was established in 1812 by the fiery Captain William Fraser who returned to the family farm after military service and took advantage of the fine barley it grew. Within 25 years his distillery’s reputation for spirit of sterling taste received its crowning moment when King William IV bestowed ‘Royal’ status to Brackla, in 1835. It thus became the first ever Scotch to garner a royal warrant, a revelation that led to its nickname: ‘The King’s Own Whisky’.

Traditional production techniques help to protect a distilling heritage that spans more than two centuries and preserves the unparalleled quality of a rather special spirit. To allow for the development of intriguing complexity and fruitiness, extra time is taken at the fermentation stage, which acts for up to 80 hours; far longer than most Scottish distilleries.

The notably tall stills run at an unusually slow pace. Their height allows plenty of reflux, with the leisurely nature of the operation increasing the contact that the spirit shares with copper, thus filtering out unwanted sulphury notes. Instead, delicate and lightly perfumed notes of grass and green foliage develop, alongside inviting fruity aromas. Crucially, the whisky is finished in premium first-fill sherry casks, enriching it with notes of muscovado sweetness and dates, alongside opulent walnuts.

Stephen Marshall, Bacardi’s Global Marketing Manager – Single Malts says: “This is the one that was described as ‘The Drink Divine’ by the Royal household in the 1830s, that’s no small claim, so we had to take our time and the entire team have done an amazing job that really does justice to Royal Brackla’s incredible heritage. There’s only one whisky in the world that can be the first Royal whisky, I feel privileged to have worked on this”.

The new portfolio consists of three age statements, each bottled at 40% ABV (what happened to the 46% mantra?): 12 Years Old, 16 Years Old and 21 Years Old. Each expression has been launched in ten initial markets around the world including Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Sweden, Taiwan, United Kingdom, United States and Global Travel Retail.

Royal Brackla distillery
Royal Brackla Distillery

Official tasting Notes from The Last Great Malts

Royal Brackla 12 Years Old, 46% 40% ABV

Salute a superior Scotch: almonds, vine fruits, opulent spices; steeped in sherried richness. Ennobled nectar, fit for a king.

Retail price: £45.99

Royal Brackla 16 Years Old, 46% 40% ABV

A royal flush of flavour: vanilla, soft caramel, ripe apricots; replete with sherry tones. Hold court with a monarch of the glens.

Retail price: £84.99

Royal Brackla 21 Years Old, 46% 40% ABV

All hail a high-born spirit: summer berries, dark chocolate, star anise; infused with sherry sweetness. A member of malt aristocracy.

Retail price: £174.99

Source and pictures: Press release The Last Great Malts

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Ilegal Mezcal Joven

A Tasty Dram Whisky Blog tasting notes

A Mexican companion for Thai food

Ilegal mezcal is a brand with a succulent story. John Rexer imported or should we say smuggled mezcal from Oaxaca to Guatemala for his bar Café No Se. The clandestine bar was well known amongst writers, musicians and artists.

The brand is now completely legal but still has the look and feel of a smuggled product (although the fine details reveal the contrary). Ilegal only uses the espadin agave variety and the agave spirit is double distilled by a fourth generation mezcalero Eric Hernandez.

Fun Fact: Ilegal is selling "Donald eres un pendejo" T-shirts at the moment. I'll let you guess which Donald they're aiming at...

Monday, 17 August 2015

News: Old Particular Single Grains

Grainy days upon us

The independent bottler and blender known of the Big Peat and Rock Oyster, Douglas Laing, comes with a particularly new release for the Old Particular single cask brand: four single grains. all bottled at cask strength and over 20 years of age.
Douglas Laing Old Particular Grains
Grains, grains, grains. Sunshines down, so come to town!

North British 21 years old

294 bottles, refill hogshead DL 10797, 50,9% ABV
Bottled June 2015 "The first single grain cask filled as Old Particular"
Nose: Perfumed, subtly sweet with honey, vanilla and crunched sugars
Taste: Corn oil, spices, vanilla ice cream and marzipan
Finish: Oily, warm spices, sugar and butterscotch

Cameronbridge 25 years old

282 bottles, refill butt DL 10806, 60,6% ABV
Distilled June 1990, bottled June 2015
Nose: Spiced and corny initially - warms a little smoky and home & baking cream
Taste: More bourbon style now, ginger, soft vanilla, honey and camphor
Finish: Gingery and spicy, toffee and barley, sugary and full of a corn oil style

Girvan 25 years old

232 bottles, refill barrel DL 10805, 51.5% ABV
Distilled December 1989, bottled June 2015
Nose: Crunched sugar in style, sherbet, fruits, hard candy and espresso
Taste: Gingery and pepper, generously sweet and spicied, dry breakfast cereal
Finish: Barley sugar, honey, maple syrup and vanilla

Strathclyde 27 years old

198 bottles, refill barrel DL 10804, 51.5% ABV
Distilled September 1987, bottled June 2015
Nose: Oily and bourbon showing molasses, boiling sugar, ginger and mixed spices
Taste: Mouthcoatingly sweet and cereal based, butterscotch and spices
Finish: Still sweet, still spiced, nicely vanilla and toffee'd

Fred Laing says “Over the last 5-6 years we have softly promoted, and gently educated the community with the “surprise” quality of old Grain Scotch Whiskies, and we have been rewarded with sustained growth. Douglas Laing & Co certainly believe the time is now right to give this long under-rated sector far greater kudos. So within our Old Particular Single Cask flagship brand, we will now release selected antique stocks of different Grain Scotch Whiskies in a lively new livery which both differentiates it from the Malts and also retains the character and specialised gravitas of the brand”.

These Old Particular Grain will be hitting the stores somewhere in  August 2015.


Sunday, 16 August 2015

Marca Negra Espadin Mezcal

A Tasty Dram Whisky Blog tasting notes

The worm's out the bottle!

Mezcal is one of the drinks that I had been eager to try for a while. Receiving Neil Ridley and Joel Harrison's book Distilled and reading some stuff on the smoky Mexican spirit by a few avid whisky bloggers only tickled my curiousity even more.

After a shout on Twitter and a few DM's with Sjoerd from Maltfascination, we split a bottle of Marca Negra's Espadin mezcal.

So, what excactly is mezcal? It's a Mexican spirit closely related to tequila. In fact, all tequila is mezcal however it is more strictly regulated. Only blue agave can be used for tequila and it has to be produced in the region of Jalisco. Mezcal production is concentrated in the southern Oaxaca region and can be made from all sorts of agave. Espadin agave is one of the most commonly used species.


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

At last, whisky from the Shetland Islands

Shetland Reel single malt whisky
It took a while but as of today the Shetland Islands are a part of the whisky distilling islands.The Shetland Distillery Company, that already produced the Shetland Reel gin, will start selling whisky as from September 1.

The spirit has been distilled in Aberdeenshire and matured at the distillery site on Unst.

The whisky seems to be six years old and matured on virgin oak casks from Germany. Bottled at 57.5% ABV. Prics will be around £100.

Stuart Nickerson, director of the Shetland Distillery Company and ex-Glenglassaugh reviver, said: “This a hugely exciting development for us and for Scotch whisky.

“It literally puts Shetland on the map as far as whisky production is concerned – and for the first time.

“This represents a start to whisky production in Shetland and we have plans to introduce more bottled in Shetland Scotch whiskies, with the long term plan being to start distilling Scotch whisky on Unst.”

Update: All the bottles have been pre-sold.

Shetland Reel

Source: STV News

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Hyde Single Malt Irish Whiskey 10 year old N.1 Presidents Cask

A Tasty Dram Whisky Blog tasting notes

Don't hyde! Come out and play

Hyde Whiskey is one of the many new Irish whiskeys that have been popping up lately. The whisky might be the first step for Hibernia Distillers on the road to become an actual distillery. Update: Things got quite shady lately... Hyde appears to be mainly posing as distillers and even go as far as misleading consumers with a fake brand history. Anyway, their first whiskey is a 10 year old single malt from an undisclosed Irish distillery. Some say it is whiskey from Cooley. They could very well be right...

The name Hyde refers to Ireland's first president Douglas Hyde who was appointed in 1938. And it also happens to be the name of the two brothers behind Hibernia Distillers.

Let's have a taste of some "presidential" quality whiskey!

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Benromach Peat Smoke 2004

A Tasty Dram Whisky Blog tasting notes

Turning their hand to anything

This Peat Smoke will conclude a month of Benromach reviews. And it is the last bottle of the distillery in my cabinet so... Peated whiskies are produced in small quantities at Benromach and are usually young vintages (8 or 9 years old) and moderately peated.

The so-called phenol level (expressed in parts per million) is raised every year. The 2004 edition boasted 53ppm on the label, the vintage 2005 raised the level to 67ppm, almost Islayesque some would say. Curious if the Islay malts will be getting some competition?