Friday, 30 December 2011

Whisky Discovery #29

Sheep Dip (40% abv, Blended Malt, 2011, 5cl)
Blended Malt Whisky
Circa £25 for 70cl

Just a miniature to sample
One from Ian Buxton's 101 Whiskies to Try Before you Die, and so had to be investigated.

Back in the 1980's this was the best selling whisky in Harrods. Eccentrically named, but with a great story behind it. British farmers apparently referred to whisky as sheep dip, and long ago farmers distilled their own 'home-made' whisky In order to avoid paying taxes, they hid their whisky in barrels marked 'Sheep Dip' or simply 'SD'.

Then in the 1980's Sheep Dip whisky was being ordered in case-loads through farmers wholesalers, their customers were putting it through their business expenses as insecticide. Not all of them thought it through completely, as many didn't even have sheep and so were caught and fined for tax evasion.

The whisky previously called a 'vatted malt' and now classed as a 'blended malt' by the Scotch Whisky Association is a blend of sixteen different single malts aged between eight and twenty years, in specially selected first fill oak casks.

Rich and golden in colour, the nose is quite delicate. Soft floral notes accompanied with fruit and nuts. Definitely melon and pear and a little almond too. Lot's going on, and with 16 different malts included in the blend you would expect so. Soft dry fruits, apricot ? and an essence of vanilla. Spices and oak flavours, very rich and sweeter towards the end. Onto the finish and the Isaly malts finally come through with the peaty smoke and lingering spices. 

I'm very pleased that I have tried it - and would certainly try it again, but with so many whiskies and too little time must move on.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Whisky Discovery #28

The Macallan 10 Year Old 'Fine Oak' (40% abv, OB, Bottled +/- 2011 70cl)

Speyside Single Malt Whisky
Circa £25

The Macallan Fine Oak 10 Year Old
I picked this up for just under £20.00! A very special offer indeed and far too good to walk past. It 'accidently' fell into the shopping trolley.

This whisky is triple cask matured in (their words) a unique, complex combination of exceptional oak casks. European Oak casks seasoned with sherry, American Oak casks seasoned with sherry and American Oak casks seasoned with bourbon. This triple cask combination delivers an extraordinarily smooth, delicate yet complex single malt.

The Macallan's curiously small and uniquely shaped copper stills  help to concentrate the flavour of the 'new make' spirit.

I understand that the 'Fine Oak' series caused a bit of a kerfuffle when it was first introduced in 2004. Macallan had always used sherry barrels exclusively for ageing their whisky.The Fine Oak series didn't.

The nose took a while to tease out at first. Macallan state the nose is 'complex' and I agree with them here. Stick with it and it will come. Initially very dry, almost dusty and cereal like, but eventually the vanilla, honey and a hint of fruit shows through. Soft and creamy on the palate, very smooth. The oak and fruit marry together well, and it is really enjoyable dram. The finish is quite refreshing with sweet vanilla.

I don't think you can go wrong with this, but maybe I'm easily pleased ? 

Monday, 26 December 2011

21 Bottle Salute

The Collection Boxing Day 2011
With the Christmas bottles added to the collection, an impressive range of whiskys covering just about all of the  Scottish Regions; Islay, Highland, Speyside and Island malts.

Almost all of these are distillery core bottlings, available at most UK supermarkets and often offered at a price difficult for me to walk past. In fact I can no longer walk past the drinks section  without scanning the whisky shelves for something I have not tried before ! 

When I visit a pub, while waiting for my Guinness to be poured, I'm scanning the shelves to see what whisky is available.

There is plenty of good whisky out there to try and I'm looking forward to my second year of discovery.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Whisky Discovery #27

Gentleman Jack (40% abv, OB, 2011, 70cl)

Rare Tennessee Whiskey
Circa £30

First American Whiskey
I sampled upon giving this to son-in-law Ben, this evening.

My first Tennessee whiskey (yes, whisky with the ‘e’) and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. Really smooth whiskey. I’m not sure that it is that ‘rare as it states on the label, I have seen it in most supermarkets!

Made by Jack Daniel’s, Gentleman Jack is charcoal-mellowed twice, before and after the ageing process, resulting in a cleaner, more refined end product . 

This was introduced in 1988 and was the first new whiskey from the Jack Daniel Distillery in more than 100 years.

The nose is very sweet, honey and vanilla, burnt brown sugar and charcoal. Similar on the palate, very smooth and syrupy, a little fruit too. Finish is short and sweet, a little charcoal and spice.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Whisky Discovery #26

Black Grouse (40% abv, Blended Whisky, 2011, 70cl)

My first blended whisky
Following my new guide, I spotted an opportunity to try my first blended scotch whisky and picked up a bottle of Black Grouse.  

Made by the makers of Famous Grouse, the long established best selling blended scotch. This Islay influenced, peaty blend is a blend of their Famous Grouse with some Islay single malts. 

For everyday drinking it is quite pleasant, especially as I really like the peaty malts of Islay, and I would certainly prefer this over the standard Famous Grouse – but I can’t put it over any of the single malts tasted to date.