Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Loch Lomond Single Grain

45%



Loch Lomonds new bottling is a NAS single grain. It is bottled at 45%
according to the promotional material the grain used is excluselively malted barley. it is also mentioned the whisky is matured in american oak casks. The reason this is not considered a single malt, is that malt whisky requires a specific distilling equipment (pot stills). This whisky is distilled on a Coffey still and is best compared to to Nikka's Coffey Malt

The nose is extremely fruity and citrusy. with a hint of newmake. The palate is is more of the same fruity character. This whisky reminds me of the malt whiskies seen from numerous new distilleries that uses hybrid stills. Makes sense since both are not double distilled but single distilled. The palate is fruity, citrus - pineapple mix. it is a little bit hot. I also get a faint note of shaved pencils or cardboard box. It's a nice dram, the biggest problem is that it doesn't taste like whisky. Nor does it taste like the grain whiskies I have tasted before The flavour that og grain whisky is usually based on cask-induced components. This whisky for sure has a flavour that is spirit driven.

Easy drinkable, somewhat different to what Scotland otherwise has to offer. Fruity, almost eua-de-vie like and just a little hot on the prefinish. It's a bit hit or miss if a whiskydrinker would like this style or not. After a bit I get a little worn by this unusual flavours so I think it's omething you have to get used to drink. In short, this whisky is delicate, fruity, weird and the weakest point is the finish

Rating 82/100

Monday, September 5, 2016

Skotsk Whisky - uden farve, uden filter

af Peter Kjær og Lars Gregersen

En ny whiskybog. På Dansk. Skrevet af Danskere

(You can find the english review HERE)



Det er ikke så tit man ser whiskybøger på dansk. De fleste whiskybøger er skrevet på andre sprog, og de oversættes typisk ikke til dansk. Her har to danskere, der begge arbejder med whisky til daglig, kastet sig ud i at skrive en bog om skotsk whisky. Forfatterne er Peter Kjær (Krut's Karport, en whiskybar i København) og Lars Gregersen (LAGO, vin- og spiritusimportør)

Bogens forfattere


Hvis man gerne vil gøre sig klog på de forskellige destillerier i Skotland er man nødt til at gøre det hårde, men fornøjelige, arbejde at smage sig igennem de ca. 110 destillerier der hver især findes i et hav af aftapninger. Men hvis man vil tilegne sig en generel baggrundsviden er en god whiskybog et godt sted at starte. Skotsk Whisky er et rigtigt godt sted at starte. Her er god baggrundsviden. Bogen er velskrevet og letforståelig, men samtidig fyldt med masser af fakta og specialviden. Dette gør at bogen er god at læse både for begynderen og for den meget erfarne whiskyentuiast.

Bogens kerne er 5 kapitler om Skotsk whiskys historie, Beskrivelse af hvordan både malt og grain whisky fremstilles, Skotsk whiskys geografi og om det overhovedet giver mening af snakke om en sådan, En branche beskrivelse, samt gode råd til hvordan man egentligt kan smag på en whisky.

Spændende kapitler, hvor forfatterne kommer på den rigtige side af meget af den alt for ofte forekommende marketingdrevne ”litteratur” som kan læses eller høres når man bevæger sig rundt i whiskyverdenenes afkroge.

Kapitlerne er krydret med en række interessante interviews af både danske og skotske branchefolk, forfatttere og en enkelt kendt dansk whiskysamler. Det er ganske enkelt fremragende læsning. Man har formået at få langt de fleste der interviewes til ikke at gå i marketingmode, men derimod spændende at fortælle om hvordan der arbejdes i whiskybranchen og og også dele nogen af deres personlige holdninger til en række emner.

Skotsk Whisky bevæger sig ofte grundigt ind på områder som andre whiskybøger let hopper henover. I kapitlet om branchen er der f. eks. en god gennemgang af hvad uafhængige aftappere er, samt en meget grundig beskrivelse af hvad størrelse SWA (Scotch Whisky Association) egentlig er.
SWA har været udsat for en del kritik de senere år. Ikke noget forfatterne direkte kommer ind på, men i interviewene nævner branchefolkene perifært nogle af de ting de gerne så anderledes.

Man har valgt ikke at skrive om markedet for skotske whiskyer i Danmark. Det skyldes nok at forfatterne selv er en del af markedet som henholdsvis importør og indehaver af en whiskybar. Interviewene bærer heller ikke præg af at man har valgt folk hvis produkter man selv forhandler til dagligt, hvilket er med til at give bogen integritet.

Mit eneste kritikpunkt i bogen er at man konsekvent burde holde sig til den danske stavemåde ”whisky” og ikke skrive ”whiskey” såsnart man snakker om bourbon. Men jeg ved at det helt sikkert vil irritere en del hvis man havde valgt at gøre det, men folk lærer det nok en dag :-)

Alt i alt er bogen et must for enhver dansk whiskyentusiast, og klart den bedste whiskybog jeg har set fra danske forfattere. Nogle vil måske mene at konkurrencen her ikke just er særlig stor, men denne bog er faktisk så god, at det er en skam at folk der ikke kan dansk, ikke umiddelbart kan læse den.

I katagorien af whiskybøger der behandler skotsk whisky generelt er det rart at se en bog der vægter emnerne lidt anderledes, hvilket gør bogen til et godt supplement på hylden selvom den er godt fyldt op med whiskybøger i forvejen.


Bogen forventes i handel medio oktober

English review of "Skotsk Whisky -uden farve, uden filter.

by Peter Kjær and Lars Gregersen

(Læs den danske anmeldelse HER)

A new whisky book. In Danish. Written by Danes.
The title translates to ”Scotch Whisky -no colour, no filter” and it it probably gives better sense in danish as ”no colour” also can be read as ”no bias”



It is not often one sees whisky books in danish. Most whisky books written in other languages ​​are typically not translated into danish. Here, two danes, who both work with whisky, has taken this step into writing a book about Scotch. The authors are Peter Kjær (Krut's Karport, a whiskybar in Copenhagen) and Lars Gregersen (LAGO, a wine and spirits import company)

The authors


If you want to learn the differences between the various distilleries in Scotland, you have to do the hard, but enjoyable job, of tasting your way through the approximately 110 distilleries, each of which is available in a huge range of bottlings. But if you want to acquire a good general background knowledge, a good whisky book is a great place to start. ”Skotsk Whisky” is such a book. The book offers good background knowledge and it is well written and easy to understand, but at the same time filled with lots of facts and special knowledge. This makes the book a good reading both for the beginner and for the very experienced whiskyentuiast.

The book's core is 5 chapters on Scotch whisky's history, Description of how both malt and grain whisky is produced, Scotch whiskys´ geography and whether it makes sense talking about such, a trade description, and finally an advice on how to actually taste and enjoy a whisky.

Exciting chapters in which the authors appear on the right side of the often seen marketing driven "literature" which can be read or heard when you move around in the whiske world.

The chapters are scattered with a number of interesting interviews with both danish and scottish whisky professionals, that is, other authors, brand ambassadors, blenders, managers etc. including a well known danish Glenfiddich collector. It is simply excellent reading. The authors manages to get the majority of the interviewed persons out of marketing mode, and into exciting talks about how to work in the industry, and also share some of their personal views on a variety of topics.

”Skotsk Whisky” do cover areas that other whisky books usually skips or cover very ligthly. In the chapter about the industry, there is a good description of what independent bottlers is, and a very thorough description of what SWA (Scotch Whisky Association) actually is.
SWA has been subjected to some criticism in recent years. The authors don't cover this directly, but it is mentioned peripherally in some of the proffesionals interviews, and a few things they would like to see changed is mentioned.

The authors have chosen not to write about the scene of Scotch whisky in Denmark. This is probably because the authors themselves are part of this, respectively importer and owner of a whisky bar. The people chosen for interviews are all from companies the authors doesn't represent here in Denmark, which adds integrity to the book.

My only criticism of the book is that it isn't consistent on how to spell ”whisky” but changes the spelling to ”whiskey” as soon as the whisky concerned is bourbon. But I know that it would certainly irritate others if they had chosen to do this... but people will learn some day :-)

Overall, the book is a must for any danish whisky enthusiast, and clearly the best a whiskybook I've seen from danish writers. Some may think that the competition here is not exactly very big, but this book is so good that it's a shame that people who do not speak danish is not immediately able to read it.

In the category of whiskey books dealing with Scotch whisky in general, it is nice to see a book that approaches the topics a little different, which makes the book a good supplement on the shelf even if it's well stocked with other whisky books.


The book is expected for sale mid-October

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Hudson Baby Bourbon

46%
Pot Distilled from 100% New York Corn



There is a lot of mashlike notes on the nose. A woody, grainy mix.

The palate has a varnish woody stamp mixed with a grainy base. This is a young whisky from Tuthilltown distillery. They like to age their whisky on various small casks and some of the casks are laid next to the hot potstill. Surpriingly for a young whisky there is not a hot spirit note, so it's very drinkable. The youth can't be hidden, with the grainy taste and the maturation method has given this a strong wood/oak flavour. Persoanlly I am a fan of oaky flavoured whiskies (to a limit)

The finish is short-medium and then I get a little hot spirity taste. Ending with a heavy vanilla touch

Quite drinkable and one of the better offerings from the many new american whisky distilleries


Rating 82/100

Highland Park Ice

Highland Park Ice is a limited (as opposed to to a regular continuing) release.

It's 17yo and is bottled at 53.9%


The bottle comes in this wooding casing, which I can only describe as a catastrophe designwise (It's fucking ugly), but as I never really cared about packaging I prefer to let the whisky speak for itself

The whisky is warm and prickly. A bit hot on the approach, but I really like the powerful vanilla note that instantly hits me.The nose is really wonderful, delicate ex-bourbon whisky with an abundanec of vanilla notes. The vanilla nose gives this whisky a sweet first impression. On the taste I get a prickly almost Talisker like spicy punch as the first impression. There is a nice underlaying level of peatyness, that always lure in the background. This is on a level that will satisfy both peatjunkies and people who normally stay away from peated whiskies

The finish is long, and some bitterness hits me in the end

A very nice dram, that will appeal to fans of coastal style whiskies (salty, vanilla, prickly i the keywords for this style)

Rating 86/100

A quick search on the internet I find this is priced at around 200£ which I think is at least 120£ too much. But you get a piece of wood with it.

Thanks to Holm & Bertung for the sample

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Jameson approached Amager Bryghus - Green, Green Bansheee

Usually whiskybrands are very protective about their brands names. But Pernod Ricard approached the danish brewery Amager Bryghus (Amager Brewhouse) and asked if Amager could do some things with a set of Jameson casks.

Amager had a visit of a group from Pernid Ricard, and after tasting some beers and agreement was made. Early 2016 eight casks (both ex-sherry and ex-bourbon).were delivered from Midleton (where Jameson is made today) and they were filled with an imperial stout. A stout is a dark beer and imperial versions of beers is used to describe a beer that is very strong in alcohol and flavour.

The stout has been maturing in these eight casks for the last 4 months and here is the result:

11% ABV
So what's in it for Amager? Amager more or less got known in the big world of craft beer by making collaboration brews with some of the best breweries in the world. Beer entusiasts know that a world class brewer only will make collaboration brews with the best. This is not a collaboration brew, but working together with Jameson is just another step for Amager. And very important, it secured delivery of totally fresh ex-whisky casks to the brewery. The shorter time there is from emptying whisky from a cask to filling it with beer, the better the prior content will affect the beer. The wood is still soaked in whisky and the the longer you wait, the casks will dry out. Casks are expensive and distilleries tends to use casks until they have nothing left to contribute to new spirits anymore. Ex-bourbon casks have only been used once for whisky and then nothing else, while ex-whisky casks had bourbon, sherry and whisky in them more times.Having direct connections to a distillery or bottler that matures whisky could potentially give you access to a lot better casks and not just something they can't use anymore.

What's in it for Jameson? It's a smart move. Craft beer is a big thing. Roughly said, you can say that craft beer is dominated by a younger consumer base, and not as male dominated fanbase as whisky. While whisky today seems to be mainly for old men (like me), the beer scene is having a wider approach. It's a market segment that suits Jameson very well. And Amager is not chosen randomly. There is more than 7000 breweries in Europe. On ratebeers top 100 there is just 18 european breweries, with the remaing being from USA apart from 3 canadian.  3 of these 18 is danish. 2 of these 3 breweries are gypsy breweries, and the last 1, the only top danish brewery that brews in Denmark, that is Amager

So how is the beer?

Malt: Pilsner, Munich, Melanoidin, roasted barley, chocolate, light chocolate, cara-pilsner, cara-aroma
Hops: Herkules, Columbus, Chinook
Yeat: US-ale

A thick oily pour with a minimum of head. The nose is sweet and stoutish with a clear presenece of whisky. The fist thing I notice is the abscence of what I consider the biggest occuring off flavour in stouts, which is a slight acitidy or sourness. To me, this absence is an indication if a brewery can make a stout or can't. It is present in most stouts unfortunately. This is a very thick and oily beer. The carbonation is medium-low. When it comes to beer, the difference between ex-whisky casks and ex.bourbon casks is level of vanilla and sweetness infused in the beer. The casks has given this stout a wood flavour, that goes very well with the roasty flavours from the barley. Adding to that there is a nice whisky note in the taste as well. This is a very thick and oiliy beer. with some of the slowest swirl velocity I have ever seen. This is my first time reviewing a beer, but here we go

Oilyness. Very high
Roast flavour: High
Whisky flavour: Medium
Hop: It is masked by other heavier flavours, but it emerges about halfway through the beer and gets dominant on the finish
Sweetness: medium
Drinkability: It goes down easy and is very moreish

On my 100 scale for whisky I would give this 92
On untapped I give 4.5 (closer to 4.75)

This is one of the few beers I have seen with an official whisky brand on the label. on the back of the beer you find the official Jameson and Amager labels side by side

The only other example of an official whisky label on a beer label is the Bowmore beers from Islay Ales. With whisky companies being so afrad of their brand labelings being destroyed by other companies, I never understood why Bowmore went into collaboration with Islay Ales. The result was a big disaster, and the two examples I have tasted were amongst the two worst beers I have tried. I remember a group of 6-8 of us, trying to share a bottle in Lagavulin Hall at last years Feis Ile, and we weren't able to. Apart from these two examples I don't know of any other beers with official distillery names or whisky brands on the labels, please enligthen me if you have encountered any. So far, these two examples have produced one stellar beer and one (acual a range) of disasters. I know that Bowmore have stopped their collaboration with Islay Ales, and I just wonder why it took them so long


PS: In my opinion we got 3-4 more world class breweries located in Denmark

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Kavalan Solist

I covered Kavalan before. In 2013 I visited Taiwan and tasted a range of their products

http://danishwhiskyblog.blogspot.dk/2013/10/visiting-kavalan.html

This time I am covering to newer Solist expressions. And I do it with a guest post from another danish whisky blog, followed by my own short notes for a couple of the Solists

A TRIO OF KAVALANS

Hi, my name is Carsten followed by a surname that’s completely unpronounceable in English, so I won’t even bother writing it. I’m a Dane in my mid-thirties (let’s keep it at that) and I live in a town called Odense. I have been drinking whisky for the better part of a decade and I’m also a whisky blogger. I have a blog at www.whiskyflasken.dk, but alas, that’s completely unusable to most of you since my blog is also in Danish. Feel free to drop by though or contact me through my Facebook page.
A couple of weeks ago Steffen, the fine gentleman that usually roams these pages, asked me if I would like to write a guest review here on the Danish Whisky Blog and, since he also said that he would supply the whisky, I had no problem accepting his offer. It’s nice to write in English once in a while and perhaps make some new acquaintances. Enough small-talk… Let’s get to the whisky!
Kavalan, which is actually called Yuan Shan Distillery, is a Taiwanese distillery, that’s located in Yilan County just a little south of the capital, Taipei. The distillery is named after the indigenous people who originally inhabited the area where the distillery is located. Kavalan is owned by King Car Group, which is a big Taiwanese food and drink producer. The founder of King Car Group, Tien-Tsai Lee, had a dream of producing a world class whisky in Taiwan and the planning started in 2002. The actual construction of the distillery did not start until 2005 and it was completed on December 31, 2015.
To help them in the process Kavalan hired Dr. Jim Swan as a consultant. Dr. Jim Swan has served as a consultant for many new distillery projects in the last decades including Penderyn, Annandale and Kilchoman. On March 13, 2006 the first new make flowed from the stills and on December 4, 2008 the first bottling, the Kavalan Classic, was released to the public. Since then the distillery has released many different bottlings, but the most iconic of them are probably the Solist series, which consists of a range of single cask releases, matured in various types of casks. Kavalan has received many awards for its whisky, including taking the top honors in the Malt Maniacs Awards 2014.
When the distillery was built it had two sets of stills consisting of two wash stills with a capacity of 12,000 liters each and 2 spirit stills with a capacity of 7,000 liters each. That gave Kavalan a yearly output of about 1.5 million liters of alcohol. However, with the huge success that Kavalan has experienced the need for more capacity quickly became evident. In 2015 a further six stills were installed and the capacity was increased to 4.5 million liters per year and, here in 2016, a further 10 stills will be installed and the capacity will be doubled to 9 million liters of alcohol. There are two huge, five stories high, warehouses on site and most of the casks mature standing up on pallets. Due to the warm climate the amount of evaporation is quite high and the greedy angels grab up to 15% per year.
Today, we will taste three different Kavalan Solist bottlings. The first is from a bourbon cask, the second is from a port cask and the third is from a sherry cask. Let’s go!


Kavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon Cask, 57.1%, Cask B100723021A, 4 Years Old
The distillery character of Kavalan is said to be quite tropical and that definitely shines through on the nose. It’s very fresh with pineapple, mango, bananas and some coconut water. There are lots of vanilla and some nuttiness, which almost translates into marzipan. Some lime in the background together with some pepper. With a couple of dashes of water, the nuttiness becomes more apparent and so does the vanilla. Fortunately it never loses its fruitiness and it’s actually quite nice with water.
The taste is sweet to begin with. Lots of banana and mango paired with some chocolate, but the sweetness does not last long. The wood is really asserting itself mid-palate and the whole thing gets rather hot and peppery. Once again it’s much better with water. The sweetness continues for much longer and it’s fruitier and creamier. The oak is still present, but the hotness and the pepper are almost gone.
The finish is quite long with more tropical fruits, some chocolate and more pepper.
85/100
This is quite a nice bottling from Kavalan. It’s not the most complex of whiskies and it certainly is very oak-driven, but not so much that the distillery character is gone. The nose is wonderfully fresh and you can almost imagine yourself sitting on a tropical beach. I do find it a bit too hot on the palate without water, but luckily it takes water really well. It actually reminds a little of a 25 YO Glenrothes I had earlier this year! I have no problem recommending this bottling, as long as you’re willing to experiment a little with the water.



Kavalan Solist Port Cask, 58.6%, Cask O090617023A, 6 Years Old
This is quite spitiry on the nose in the beginning, but it quickly settles down. There are a slew of berries, including strawberries, raspberries and cherries together with some sweet oranges.  There’s also a lot of underlying spiciness like cinnamon, vanilla and it’s quite nutty.  A little bit of brown sugar and some toffee. It you add some water the sweetness really stands out and it becomes a little buttery.
In the beginning of the palate there’s a lot of sweet fruitiness. Again it’s the berries that dominate. Then there’s some dark chocolate and a lot of cinnamon. It becomes really spice, with lots of oak influence and your mouth starts to dry out. Water takes the punch out of it a bit, but all the flavours are still there. The development does become a little longer and the chocolate stands out more together with some orange peel.
It has a long after aftertaste with chocolate, cherries and cinnamon. Very nice!
88/100
This is a really nice and very balanced whisky. The nose and the palate are well connected and you taste pretty much what you expect after nosing it. It’s spicy in a very nice way and the cinnamon and the chocolate will stay with you for quite some time after swallowing it. The water takes away some of the punch, but it does add a bit more character, so once more I recommend experimenting with the water.  Good work Kavalan!

Kavalan Solist Sherry Cask, 58.6%, Cask S060821017, 6 Years Old
This first thing I notice is a lot of rich dried fruits. This is definitely a sherried whisky! Raisins, cranberries and cherries. It’s also very spicy with cinnamon and vanilla. There’s a dark sugary and chocolaty sweetness to the nose together with a lot of nuttiness. Water emphasizes the chocolate and the cranberries in a big way. It’s much better with water.
There’s a very spicy arrival on the palate and I’m not getting a lot of the dried fruits. It’s quite sharp and peppery with lots of oak. A little bit of chocolate shines through, but it’s just too hot. After adding some water everything improves a lot. Now I get the dried fruits and it’s much less sharp and peppery. Chocolate, cinnamon, toffee and a little bit of orange.
Nice long aftertaste with coffee, raisins and dark chocolate.
84/100
The sherry is all over this one and I do feel that that it’s just a bit over the top. Sherry matured whisky needs time to settle down and interact with the cask over time. I know that the climate is different in Taiwan, but quick maturation, however good it is, is still not a substitute for long maturation and I really feel that it shows in this bottling. The nose has all the right characteristics, but it not very deep and mysterious.  The palate is simply too hot and even though the water helps a lot it’s still my least favourite of the three. But I also know that this kind of whisky has a big audience and Kavalan will sell every bottle they produce.
Time to sum up… Kavalan is really on to something here and I would love to taste some of their standard bottlings, to see how they stack up against these single cask bottling. As I’ve mentioned already they are all very oak-driven, but that not necessarily a bad thing. The bourbon matured bottling is a tropical explosion and I could drink this all day while just relaxing in the garden. The port matured one is my absolute favourite of the three, but I’m a sucker for port matured whisky, so that’s no big surprise. The sherry matured bottling did however disappoint me a little bit. It lacked depth, was not very complex and somehow it just felt rushed. One thing that these Kavalans have in common though is that they all take water very nicely and they all need in my opinion.

I look forward to following Kavalan in the future and there will plenty of opportunity for that given their recent expansions. Thanks to Steffen for letting me take over his blog for a while. It was fun tasting Kavalan for the first time and the whisky certainly didn’t disappoint. Now I just need to find myself a bottle of Kavalan Solist Port Cask.



Thanks to Carsten for his reviews and comments about Kavalan. Here is my own take on two of the Solists

Kavalan Solist Ex-Bourbon Cask, 57.1%, Cask B100723021A, 4 Years Old

Nose: A very fruity and floral nose. Sweet apples and pears on a bed on vanilla. A hint of marcipan

Palate. The attack is sligtly hot, but the finish is smooth. This is a sweet whisky, with an abundance of vanilla. The whisky is thick and oily. The finish has some bitterness and citrus notes emerges

Rating 86/100


Kavalan Solist Port Cask, 58.6%, Cask O090617023A, 6 Years Old

Nose: A tiny hint of sulphur, followed by a typical port nose. The ex-bourbon is rather sweet, and this is also sweet, but not as sweet as you would expect a port casked whisky to be

Palate: Sweet, faint rubber, and very dominant port influence, but not very sweet, which makes this a little different to other port whiskies. The dominant note is dried fruits, notable raisins, so the grape influence is big

Rating 83/100

I am usually not a big fan of port whiskies, but this offering is not too bad for me. I guess it's because it lacks the usual abundance of sweetness which is not my thing. Being very sulphur sensitive I pick of little hints of rubber, but I am sure this will go unnoticed by the vast majority.