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J.P. Wiser's Red Letter 10 yo 2014 release Canadian Whisky

Tasting: J.P. Wiser’s Red Letter 10 yo 2014 release Canadian Whisky

J.P. Wiser's Red Letter 10 yo 2014 release Canadian WhiskyDram data:
Distillery: Hiram Walker
Bottler: official bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: 2014
Age: 10 years
Limitation: –
Casks: American oak, Virgin oak finish
Alcohol: 45%
unchillfiltered / unknown colouring
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
Colour: 
red gold
The nose starts out with a whiff of alcohol followed by loads of vanilla (scraped vanilla pods) and fresh oak – thanks to the virgin oak finish. In fact, the vanilla and oak mix reminds me of sniffing fresh bourbon barrels after arriving in Scotland for filling. A fresh cask-driven spirit. But what else do we have? Mixed spices (cloves, allspice), a touch of forest honey, caramel and a hint of tonka bean give the very “modern type” whisky enough backbone so it isn’t just oak and vanilla. Continue reading

Tasting: Kavalan Solist Peaty Cask 2007 R070514069

Tasting: Kavalan Solist Peaty Cask 2007 R070514069

Tasting: Kavalan Solist Peaty Cask 2007 R070514069Dram data:
Distillery: Kavalan
Bottler: original bottling
Distilled: 14.05.2007
Bottled: 2016
Age: ca. 7 years
Limitation: 112 bottles
Casks: Peated cask
Alcohol: 52,4%
unchillfiltered and uncoloured
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
Colour: dark wood honey – quite dark for a young whisky matured in refill oak casks
The nose is quite strong on the alcohol on the first sniff. And on the second. On the third nosing the aromas finally get through. A hint of peat smoke on top, if you’re looking for it, with a fleeting whiff of Chinese tiger balm (mostly the eucalyptus and menthol talking). Slightly burnt butter cookies, dark cherry juice with cracked stones, sweetened virginia pipe tobacco, old leather, gentian and mixed spices with black pepper, ginger and chili powder on top with an ever-present oaky base note – probably a tad too loud even? Continue reading

Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve

Tasting: Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve – with guest writer Jo Lawson

Forty Creek Confederation Oak ReserveDram data:
Distillery: Forty Creek
Bottler: original bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: 2010 (Lot 1867-D)
Age: NAS
Limitation: –
Casks: Canadian Oak Finish
Alcohol: 40%
most likely chill filtered and coloured
Whiskybase link

This is a special tasting today in honor of whisky blogger Johanne McInnis’ birthday today. She gave a bottle of this Canadian whisky to my friend Jo Lawson, who in turn gave me a sample so Jo and I decided to do a joint tasting blog post on it.

Ladies first!

Tasting notes Jo Lawson:
Colour: Dark honey
Nose: initial maple syrup sweetness, raisins, buttered popcorn with some underlying spices, develops into banana, vanilla and caramel.
Palate: Rich, soft and rounded, sweet oranges, white pepper, and oak, then marzipan, dates, figs and toffee.
Finish: Long, soft, slightly dry with some light spices.
Overall a rich, well balanced, complex whisky, that needs to be slowly sipped and savoured.

Tasting notes Klaus Doblmann:
Colour:
amber
The nose starts with just the faintest whiff of acetone – a wee bit bourbon’ish. Quite light, but no wonder at 40% ABV. Sweet oak notes, palm syrup, vanilla-toffee pudding, milk chocolate, chocolate chip cookies, banana split, caramelised orange peel and half a cinnamon stick. Continue reading

Kavalan Solist Sherry NAS 20cl bottle

Tasting: Kavalan Solist Sherry NAS 20cl bottle

Kavalan Solist Sherry NAS 20cl bottleDram data:
Distillery: Kavalan
Bottler: original bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: 18.04.2014
Age: NAS
Limitation: –
Casks: Old ex-solera Sherry Casks
Alcohol: 57%
Unchillfiltered; natural colour
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
Colour:
mahogany
Finally on my table and in my glass – the much talked-about Kavalan Solist Sherry Oak whisky. Time to find out what all this hype is about! The nose opens with a noticeable alcoholic note – no wonder at 57% ABV. Underneath the alcohol are intense ex-sherry aromas from supposedly real 20-year-old ex-solera system sherry casks! Don’t even bother looking for the distillery character – that’s a dry sherry cask driven dram! Right, about 10 minutes have passed now – the alcoholic note moved a bit to the background, so let’s see what we can get: Very intense! Full-on! In-your-face! Lots of dried dark fruits, mostly dates and figs but with a dry sherry note on top. Continue reading

Tasting: BigPeat Tweet tasting

IMG_20140515_170614I was selected as one of the lucky tweet tasters for the Douglas Laing @DLaingWhisky #BigPeat tweet tasting hosted by @TheWhiskyWire on the eve of the 21st of May 2014. Big thanks to DouglasLaing, Steve Rush and all the fellow tweet tasters for the great evening! Worthy of a repetition in my book!
In preparation for the tasting we all received a lovely little package from Scotland (see picture on the right). It contained five mystery samples (which were tasted blind) and a few assorted goodies like a bottle of rainwater, peat cones (to fill the air with lovely peat flavour), an Islay pebble to chill our dram on hot summer days and a mystery key to Big Peat’s house (still waiting on this mystery to be solved…) – all in all a very lovely package – very well thought out!

Without further ado, here’s my tasting notes for the five drams: Continue reading

Tasting: “The World of Whisk(e)ys” – 4 cheap discounter spirits

When I saw an advertisement for the assortment “The World of Whisk(e)s” at the local discounter chain Hofer (the Austrian version of the German Aldi), I was too intrigued (for research purposes) to pass on the offer: 4 x 4cl bottles of US, Canadian, Irish and Scottish Whisk(e)y for the price of 5,99€. They are all bottled at the minimum required strength of 40%, are all coloured (even the Bourbon…) and all bottled in Germany. Each and every bottle (except for the Irish) carries statements like “Famous for Quality”, “Finest handselected”, “Special reserve”. As they’re all bottom-shelf products, I find these statements a little hard to believe. But, to be fair, they’re not aimed at the discerning connoisseur anyway. I’ll try to give them my honest opinion anyway, as I do with every spirit I taste on this blog. Little fun fact: On the inside of the box there’s a picture of Strathisla distillery.

The World of Whisk(e)sThe four whisk(e)ys included are:

– Kentucky Highway, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 6 years
– Blackstone, Canadian Whisky, 8 years
– Old Flag, Blended Irish Whiskey, NAS (most likely 3 years + 1 day-ish)
– Old Keeper, Highland Blended Scotch, 8 years

Right, let’s get the tasting started:

Kentucky Highway 6yo

Nose: Bourbon indeed. An initial hit of alcohol and medicinal notes, then some sweet corn, and while I try to tell the other notes apart the nose fades away into a light, fruity, very typical nose with the alcohol making up for the most part.
Taste: Very watery and dilute, slightly bitter, with an aroma as faded as the nose – tastes like a regular Bourbon diluted 50:50 with clean spirit.
Finish: Initially quite punchy and full, some dry typical bourbon aromas mixed with hints of wood remain for a bit longer
Verdict: A typical bourbon, but presented for the non-bourbon drinker who might be just starting out. No overwhelming aromas, quite dilute (and difficult to tell apart) in flavour, but no off-flavours as well. Nothing to write home about and a bit lacking for the more experienced drinker.
Score: 55-ish

Blackstone 8yo

Nose: “Gone in 60 seconds” as well, but even more extreme. Just when I thought I got a bit of a nose after the initial alcohol hit there was… nothing except for a bit of alcohol. I can swirl the glass as hard as I want, it doesn’t get any better. Maybe some herbs, but that’s it. Zero, nada, niente. With a drop of water I get faint notes of herb liqueur.
Taste: Initially very mellow on the tongue, growing more aggressive after about 20 seconds with some antiseptic notes, more herbs, some oak(?)
Finish: Very smooth and pleasant, goes down like butter, more herbal notes remain for a bit but very faint like nose and taste.
Verdict: I can’t say anything bad about it – but not smelling or tasting much I can hardly say anything good about it either. This would have a hard time getting through if mixed into a cocktail or drunk on the rocks.
Score: 45-ish

Old Flag NAS (3yo?)

Nose: Not the most complex nose either, but better than both its predecessors, Lemon zests, faint vanilla, lots of grain sweetness, green apples, pears, ginger. Quite a lot of (3rd, 4th, 5th…) refill casks going on here I presume.
Taste: Quite harsh, biting on the tongue despite its only 40% ABV, some sweetness, some vanilla, grain bitterness, one-dimensional
Finish: A bit medicinal, still harsh and young, metallic, short
Verdict: The nose was quite fine but palate and especially finish say otherwise. My taste buds need a break before I get to the Scotch next.
Score: 35-ish

Old Keeper 8yo

Nose: 8 years old, they say? Must be quite some re-re-refill going on here, too. Some faint smoke (burnt rubber?), (sour) wine, some underlying sweetness of gummi bears and lots of typical grain notes as the base
Taste: Some sweetness, grapes, faint smoked vanilla, very one-dimensional
Finish: Gummi bears soaked with water, the faintest remnants of smoke and some sweetness remaining for a not unpleasant, medium-long finish, revealing cereal notes and faint oak as the sweetness passes
Verdict: I’m sorry, but that’s the weakest nose in any Scotch I’ve tasted so far, and I’ve tasted many (but, to be fair, I’ve got no previous experience with the bottom-shelf stuff so I’m lacking comparison exemplars). Palate and finish are better, but still far from great…
Score: 35-ish

Summary:

Well, I wasn’t expecting much (and was ready to be surprised…) but my expectations were met. The best was the Bourbon – most likely profiting from the need for fresh barrels and I could see it being used for cocktails and for beginners. The rest was… uninspired with the Canadian exemplar being very weak/dilute in both smell and taste, the Irish being too young and spirity and the Scotch being once again very dilute. They all taste to me like a mixture of half a bottle of “good” whisk(e)y mixed half and half with neutral spirit. But maybe that’s what they’re supposed to taste like – very faint and easy to drink, never overwhelming or complex. There sure is a market for these drams – but in my opinion they’re not for the discerning whisk(e)y connoisseur. There might be some good bottom-shelf drams out there, three of the four from the ones tasted here are not amongst them. But, honestly, what do you expect for the money (taking the prices for a full bottle into account), after taxes and duties only cents remain for the product itself, shipping, bottling etc. – they’re not gonna waste the best and finest, especially in times of high demand and skyrocketing prices for the best of the best.