Bushmills St. Patrick’s Day Tasting @ The Wellington, Birmingham – 16.03.17

We may both have red facial hair (and a slight penchant for alcohol), but neither Rob B or myself have an Irish bone in our body.
When it comes to St. Patrick’s Day though we thought it would be rude not to join in the festivities.

While being fairly inexperienced with Irish whiskey we were both aware of the current surge in interest and were looking forward to experiencing what the emerald isle had to offer. Continue reading Bushmills St. Patrick’s Day Tasting @ The Wellington, Birmingham – 16.03.17

Advertisements

Cask Strength or Weakness?

With whisky, as a general rule, I prefer higher ABVs.

I tend to find it imbues a richer character, more punch and an overall deeper experience.

With no other spirit is this necessarily true. Vodka, gin, rum and even cider do not usually taste better with a higher alcohol content. They become strong, spirity, and often-times bitter; you lose a lot of the flavour that the producers were no doubt trying to convey.

This can also be true with whisky and, despite my love for a high ABV, I don’t believe that high strength always equals high flavour/quality. Continue reading Cask Strength or Weakness?

Penderyn – Welsh Hit or Complete Shit?

Ah, Penderyn.

Among my (whisky-informed) friends the name is almost a curse word.

“Welsh whisky!?”
“You mean Irish?”
“Keep that piss away from me”

That’s usually how the conversation will go anytime someone brings up the Welsh distillery.

So in light of it being St. David’s day last week I decided the time was right to bring out a 5 dram tasting set gifted to me by my missus’ brother for my birthday last year.

Continue reading Penderyn – Welsh Hit or Complete Shit?

Rob B’s 10 to 1 – Whisky Birmingham

Whisky Birmingham: the first big whisky event in my calendar this year. Despite drinking whisky for a few years now, last year was my first time at Whisky Birmingham. Not only did I love it enough to return this year (despite being “hungover as fuck”, as Tomasz reminded me on Saturday), but it also convinced my to join The Birmingham Whisky Club and take whisky a lot more seriously. Needless to say, I had another great time this year. So, obligatory waffle over; here are my top ten highlights of this year’s festival: Continue reading Rob B’s 10 to 1 – Whisky Birmingham

Whisky Birmingham @ The Bond, Digbeth – 04.03.17

Now in it’s 5th year, WhiskyBirmingham, run by The Birmingham Whisky Club, is always going to be close to our hearts. As paid members of The Birmingham Whisky Club we’re big fans of Amy, Craig and Vicky and know they never disappoint.
Situated in Digbeth, a 10-15min walk from Birmingham New Street Station, The Bond is a fantastic venue with plenty of both outdoor and indoor space.

Upon entry we found 25+ exhibitors spread between 2 exhibition halls and an outdoor marquee, 2 food vendors situated in the courtyard with a covered outdoor seating area and a VIP room with some special drams and a seating area to take a break in.
As we walked in we were greeted by Amy, founder of the Birmingham Whisky Club, with a complimentary nosing glass, dream dram tokens and programme each.
We made a beeline for the coat racks before passing the VIP room and heading into the smaller exhibition hall.

Continue reading Whisky Birmingham @ The Bond, Digbeth – 04.03.17

Water

When I first drank whisky as a teenager, it was Jack Daniels and Coke, with ice. After a while, I was told that I should never put mixers with whisky, so I ditched the Coke. A while later, I was told that I shouldn’t drink Jack Daniel’s because it’s rubbish; I should drink single malts. I was advised to try Highland Park or Talisker because the best single malts tasted like smoke, so I bought a bottle of each to try. Impressed, I carried on drinking them, until I was told that I shouldn’t drink them with ice because you should never drink whisky with ice in it. However, a touch of water was OK because that’s what the experts did.

However we look at our whisky drinking journey, we have all been ‘advised’ or ‘told’ what is best and how we should drink. Well, what if these people, as most people do, were talking shit? What if it’s OK to use ice? What if not all great whiskies taste of smoke? What if Jack Daniel’s isn’t…Too far. But, you get the point.

A few months ago, I attended a whisky tasting with Balvenie. The host for the night, the extremely knowledgeable and entertaining James Buntin, explained that you could completely change the smell and taste of the whisky with just two drops of water. This was a revelation to me. I tried whisky with and without the two drops and, on more than one occasion, for better and for worse, the taste and smell of the whisky change. Sometimes drastically.

Since then, particularly with cask strength whisky, I’ve nosed and tasted whisky without water to begin with, then with my now customary ‘two drops’. I know that I have witnessed changes and I’d be happy to argue this with anyone. As an active member of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, I’m also accustomed to seeing tasting notes that are written with and without water. I don’t know if an established, well respected organisation and an extremely experienced brand ambassador would suggest water if there was nothing in it.

Then, I read this:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/most-misunderstood-spirits-tasting-method-world-ever-george-manska

An incredibly interesting article, this provided me with lots of scientific insight, some interesting suggestions for tasting whisky (a ‘tasting whiskies in different glasses’ post is on the horizon) and some really interesting views on the whole ‘two drops’ thing. Nevertheless, what the article did more than anything was highlight to me what I’ve grown to understand the more I’ve drunk whisky and the more I’ve read and researched tasting: if someone tells you to use two drops, that your retronasal finish is most important, or that you shouldn’t use a mixer, just drink and enjoy the whisky because that’s what it was made for.

Sláinte!

Boutiquey Whisky Company – Nickolls and Perks 24/2

I hate innocent smoothies. A multi million pound company, owned by coca cola, with more sugar than coke, wants to be my mate. It wants to talk to me in cutesy cool lanugage. It tells shit Dad jokes and they wore thin years ago. If it was a person it would, without doubt, be a knob. So botiquey whisky company tread a fine line with me. They have cool comic style labels. Some work better than others, but it’s certainly a welcome change from all the standard gumpf we’ve seen a million times. They bottle in 50cl bottles, which is controversial. They say that they bottle mostly in very small amounts and the smaller bottle size enables them to release more bottles. I can understand that, and whilst it doesn’t sit perfectly well with me, I guess I understand that rationale. They also claim that they reduce the price to make up for the missing 20cl. I’ve not done masses of research but a quick search shows that their prices for 50cl are pretty much exactly the same as other independent bottling companies charge for 70 cl (independent arran 19 – botiquey: £77, single cask: £78, hunter laing: £78). So either that claim is bollocks or at 70 cl they’d be circa 30% more expensive than other companies. Are they worth the extra? Let’s find out…

Continue reading Boutiquey Whisky Company – Nickolls and Perks 24/2

Bottom of the Barrel #1: Glen Moray Sherry Cask Finish

Welcome to the first instalment of my new monthly column, Bottom of the Barrel.

The aim of this feature is to highlight and review a new whisky each month that is on the market at a very low price-point.

Specifically below, a soft, £30.00.

I started taking an interest in more reasonably priced (aka cheap) whiskies when I started getting more into it a year or two ago. I wanted to be able to sit down after a long day at work and have a few drams, but found that I’d be reluctant to, given, that would mean digging into one of the 2 or 3 bottles I owned at the time, which were all £80+.

This is where my quest for a low-cost, “everyday” dram arose.

I’ll be doing my reviews after spending a month living with each bottle (70cl), so hopefully I get a truer measure of what it’s like to actually live with each of these whiskies.

Over time I’ll close in on my elusive quarry and enjoy a good glass or two along the way.

Continue reading Bottom of the Barrel #1: Glen Moray Sherry Cask Finish