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Circumstance: Single Grain Whisky 1:10:1:2:37 (English Single Grain Whisky: 3 Years: 44.5% ABV)

Visual: Light mossy greened off white spirit. Fast and thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Cooked rice. Vanilla. White bread. Lightly peppery. Water brings out wheat flakes and more white bread.

Body: Lime jelly. Vanilla. Peppery. Light oak. Toffee. Present tingle of alcohol. Fatty butter. Water adds more vanilla. Makes it smooth in general with still an alcohol prickle. Strawberries and jelly babies.

Finish: Peppery. A light heat to it. Drying. Grain alcohol. Brown bread. Mild chilli seeds. Fatty butter. Water adds malt chocolate, and lightly nutty. Rustic style saison feel. Cooked rice.

Conclusion: I was a tad nervous with this one – young and single grain – both things that are not automatically bad but can lend to a less polished experience if not done well, and in combination I was worried it would act as a force multiplier.

So, how does it do?

Neat it is kind of bland. Not a good start.

So, yeah, neat it has a kind of cooked rice touch to the aroma, noticeable if not excessive prickle of alcohol along with fairly standard vanilla notes. The main character of note comes from a light peppery character and a fatty butter touch. It is a bit of character but still very simple – not smooth enough to be a easy drinking grain experience, and definitely not rewarding to examination.

Water does help a bit – more toffee like notes, less alcohol, if still a bit prickly. It does feel smoother in general though. The biggest change is in the finish which gains a nutty character and a yeastie feel that reminds me of the more rustic saisons (however I will admit that I am convinced I must be imagining that as I know they used saison yeast to make it – so hard to get over these mental influences – still imagined or not that is what I encountered)

Overall it isn’t that impressive – with water there are some interesting notes but not enough to warrant a purchase – especially as it seems to have a roughly 100% mark up when people resell it these days. Hopefully later releases will build on the interesting notes and make for a much better whisky, but right now not worth grabbing.

Background: This is the first whisky distillery to be made in Bristol for a long time, and their inaugural release of that as well so darn I was tempted. I was also worried, it is single grain and young, which can be a bad combination, but I figured it was worth a risk just to see how it goes. This lists saison yeast as the choice for making this, which seems an unusual choice and an interesting one. It is 37 months old, aged in first fill bourbon casks – first fill is probably a good call considering how young it is. At one of 518 bottles I was chuffed to be able to grab this from Independent Spirit before they ran out of their allocation. Music wise I went with Lesbian Bed Death: Born To Die On VHS. If you are wondering why THE BAND IS CALLED “LESBIAN BED DEATH” AND THE ALBUM IS CALLED “BORN TO DIE ON VHS”. Hopefully that answers the question.

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Original Stormtrooper: Goon Squad (IPA: England: 5.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear with just the slightest bitty haze to the yellow body. A large white mound of large bubbled head that leaves lots of sud remains.

Nose: Orange zest. Crisp hops. Lemon juice. Slight gritty bitterness. Slight crushed rocks. Fresh. Cake sponge. Light malt drinks.

Body: Bready feel, moderate bitterness. Lemon cakes. Sugared orange jelly sweets. Crushed rocks air. Slightly thicker feeling middle, but moderately dry in general.

Finish: Orange – a mix of blood orange and tangerine. Solid gritty bitterness. White bread feel. Drying.

Conclusion: Now, I have repeatedly said that in general the UK doesn’t match the USA when it comes to West Coast IPAs. It makes sense really, they have home court advantage. Ones in the UK almost always seem to not quite get all three aspects that I adore – the dry, well attenuated body, the heavy hop bitterness and the layers of complex hop flavours on top of that. They seem to manage two of the three ok, but always seem to miss at least one.

This one … does pretty well actually. I feel that, as they probably have a wide net of potential buyers from the definitely not Star Wars imagery, they are holding off on going fell bore with the harsher edges of the West Coast IPA style, so not to put people off, but even with that said this is a very solid take.

What this nails is the fruity hop flavours, lots of orange notes, from sugared jelly sweets to blood orange to tangerine – it is very well layered around one simple concept for the most part and very enjoyable. It also leans into lemon notes with fresher lemon juice to sweeter lemon cakes. That cake sponge aspect seems to come through quite a bit – which leads us onto how well this manages a dry attenuated base.

It is pretty well done there, not super dry, but with enough attenuation that you can recognise the style. There is a bit more malt showing than normal, some sweeter notes giving a slightly thicker mid body than I would expect, which matches with the bit extra weight of mouthfeel that aforementioned cake sponge character adds but nowhere near east coast style malt levels or sweetness. So, a bit more malt led than expected but generally dry and out of the way so pretty well done.

Finally, the bitterness! Also pretty good – me, I could do with more, I want a west coast that kicks, but I am aware I like silly bitter stuff – this is still solid. Not full USA West Coast, slightly toned down, but still enjoyable.

Overall, yep as you may have guessed a very solid beer and a pretty good take on the style. No complaints here.

Background: This was part of an x-mas present pack of Stormtrooper beers from my Sister and her family, many thanks! I decided to do notes on this one first as I am such a sucker for West Coast IPAs. Like a huge fan. Shocking I know. What did shock me when I saw this was all the stormtrooper Star Wars imagery, how the heck did they either a) afford that? Or b) get around Disney’s lawyers? Turns out it is pretty simple, this is not Star Wars themed. They instead got the rights to use the Stormtrooper armour, which exists completely separately from Star Wars – so it looks Star Wars linked, but is not. Clever marketing. The glass used came with the pack, which, while pretty, all the images on it did make it hard to look at it properly for the visuals section of this guide. Went with The Cybertronic Spree: Ravage as music for drinking to – more sci-fi themed tie ins made sense – a fun 80s feeling bunch of metal from a band that cosplays as transformers. Because of course!

Bushmills: 2000 The Causeway Collection – Port Cask (Irish Single Malt Whiskey: 20 Years: 54.1% ABV)

Visual: A deep heavy gold with fast, thick streaks that come from the spirit.

Nose: Summer fruit gateaux. Raspberry and strawberry. Smooth but recognisable alcohol. Plums. Pencil shavings. Lightly citrus fresh behind that – jiff lemon. Honey cakes. Crunchy nut cornflakes. Water makes very smooth. Clearer honey. More wood notes.

Body: Slightly drying alcohol. Sticky, yet smooth in how it delivers the alcohol character. Plums. Honey. Treacle. Fig rolls. Strawberry. Clean feeling sheen. Red cherry and black cherry. Water makes super smooth. Toffee. Spotted dick. More strawberry. Light greenery.

Finish: Fig rolls. Sherry. Golden syrup sponge cake. Lightly peppery. Soft citrus sheen. Water adds much more red fruit, especially strawberry. Light butter note. Thin sulphur candles air. Light charring.

Conclusion: Ok this is so port dominated – shocking I know for something that has spent 20 years in port wood – but what is actually surprising is somehow that base Bushmills character is still just about there underneath it all. This is so very unusual for a Bushmills but you can still recognise it as one.

Neat it is especially unusual, the 20 years age and triple distillation keeps the alcohol smooth despite an over 50% abv, but it is drying and sticky in a way that I have never encountered in Bushmills or even Irish whiskey before. It is pleasant, somehow managing to not be harsh even it indulges in this very unusual mouthfeel.

Here it leans towards darker fruit, with figs and plums and such like, with some lighter red fruit notes darting around that. It is quite heavy flavour, yet there is still a clean, lightly citrus note that is a recognisably Bushmills feel and flavour. It isn’t super obvious, just a light sheen under the far heavier notes. There is honey sweetness to treacle under everything, holding it all together which makes for a very different and sticky dram.

Water adds a much more recognisable smooth Bushmills character and really helps the red fruit notes shine out. Even more water, as this can take a lot, brings out a light sulphur note in the finish. There is so much room to play with the water here, you can keep neat or just with a few drops and keep the dry stickiness, or go deep with water and get super smooth and still rewarding.

Genuinely a great example of a whiskey, great use of the cask strength for mouthfeel and range of flavour, great use of the unusual barrel ageing to unlock huge flavours and somehow still got notes that marks it as a Bushmills even if that part is not the most obvious, it is still impressive it has not been utterly overwhelmed by the port ageing.

I am so very impressed indeed.

Background: Ok, I have been a Bushmills fan for a long while, but the odder releases tend to be very hard to get. Then I saw this in the Whisky Shop in Bath – 20 years old (Well possibly 21, it says bottled 2021 so hypothetically it could have an extra year but as it is distilled right at the end of 2000 it seems unlikely), aged solely in Port wood – first fill at that – and at cask strength – all very unusual elements for a Bushmills. I was a tad nervous at first fill unusual casks for such a long time in case it utterly dominated the character, but after much thinking – as this was a pricey one – I succumbed and bought it and hoped. Like many Irish whiskeys this is triple distilled which tends to lean towards a lighter smoother character, again something that should be interesting to see how it interacts with the high abv and unusual wood. Music wise I went with Pure Hell: Noise Addiction – I had just been watching Wendell and Wild and noticed a Pure Hell sticker on a cassette player in it, so had the urge to listen to them again. Also that is a great movie with a great soundtrack.

Bereta: BBC Maple Syrup, Toasted Pecans, Cloves Imperial Stout (Collab with Cristi Tiuca) (Romania: Imperial Stout: 10.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin brown dash of a head.

Nose: Cinnamon. Cloves. Cream. Vanilla. Walnuts. Maple syrup.

Body: Smooth chocolate liqueur. Thick texture. Cinnamon. Mulled wine. Orange zest. Walnuts. Nutty coffee.

Finish: Mulled wine. Cinnamon especially. Vanilla to vanilla custard. Chocolate liqueur. Sherry trifle touch.

Conclusion: Ok, so this is one of those beers where if you have read the name you have a pretty good idea of how it will taste. Mainly because it lists all its special ingredients in the name. Innovative naming this does not have. This clarity of flavour is both a blessing and a curse but I really can’t claim this beer does false advertising.

There is the chocolate liqueur like base imperial stout – it is thick of body and yet slick of feel – nothing out of the ordinary but solid and well made. Over that, oddly, the first impact is an unexpected cinnamon character, it has a huge, kind of Crunchie chocolate bar taste as it mixed with the base chocolate flavour in the stout. Ok, I am aware this undercuts my point that all the flavours are in the beer’s name, but stick with me here.

Then after that introduction the more Christmas mulled wine like cloves notes come it, lightly on the nose, moderate in the body they very full mulled wine in the finish. Then, revealing more layers, the nuttiness comes out. To me it felt more walnut to nutty coffee flavours, but I will take their word it is, in fact, toasted pecan. The maple syrup is the least evident element. It is there but in general the sweetness is more chocolate, vanilla or cream like.

Overall, bar the cinnamon character, it does exactly what it says on the tin. The nuttiness works as a lovely savoury backdrop to what could otherwise have been an overly sweet beer. The Christmas spice is well balanced and not overpowering, which can easily be an issue with clove like flavours. The only real flaw I can see is there is not really much to examine outside the unusual ingredients. There is a touch or orange zest, lots of vanilla, but the special ingredients do the heavy lifting – I generally prefer to be able to examine the base beer more.

Still super enjoyable despite those minor quibbles.

Background: Ok, most of the information for this is already in the name really. It is an imperial stout made with the ingredients listed. The specific ingredient list on the can is not in English so I’m not 100% but it looks right at a quick reference. It is also, as listed, a home-brewer collaboration with Cristi Tiuca. Here I will have to admit I know nothing really about Bereta or Cristi Tiuca, so this section isn’t adding much this time. This was picked up from Independent Spirit as I felt it was time for some big Imperial Stout fun and this looked like it may do the job. Also always a sucker for a new brewery. Went with Slipknots new album “The End So Far” when drinking. Not grabbing me as much as their last album that got me back into Slipknot, but it is growing on me.

Berry Bros & Rudd: Williamson (Laphroaig) 2014 (Scottish Single Cask Single Malt Whisky: 7 Year: 61.8% ABV)

Visual: Moderate brightness gold with slow thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Oily. Hot tar. Kippers. Peat. Cooked barbecued pork and barbecue sauce – ribs. Sticky. Medicinal jelly. Camomile. Charred touch. Peppercorn. Wholemeal bread with extra grains. Water adds ash and dry smoke. Hot car engines.

Body: Oily, then drying. Peaty boom. Malt chocolate. Brown bread. Dry raisins. Dry medicinal spirit. Water adds dry beef slices. Bitter red wine. Hints of red fruit. Cherries.

Finish: Brown bread. Malt chocolate drinks. Nutty to praline. Peppery. Tarry. Dry camp fire ash air. Water adds a rum spice touch.

Conclusion: Ok, this is a heavy, heavy, tarry, peaty beast of a whisky. The easiest comparison I can think of is with the Ardbeg Wee Beastie which has similar youth and massive peat, but this is a much stickier oily beast – less straight peat and yet still matching overall in intensity.

Neat it is sticky and tarry with heat and a very barbecue themed meatiness. There is that Laphroaig medicinal character, but surprisingly it is more at the back due to that weight that the kipper like oily smoke style brings. What medicinal feel there is comes across more as a medicinal salve oiliness rather than the cleaner medicinal image of standard Laphroaig. So, this is big is what I am saying.

Neat the oloroso barrel ageing is there but easily lost in the mix. A HEAVY dose of water lets it really come out, bringing red wine, red fruit and such – still not a dominant force, but adding very much appreciated sweeter notes to the brutal edged peat oiliness of the rest of it. Here there are even darker sweet notes going from chocolate to praline in a way that most Laphroaigs don’t have a way to express – again it barely offsets the weight but the darker sweetness complements rather than clashes.

Not a whisky for everyone, or even a whisky for any time – it is so thick and gripping with the intense flavours. However when you are in the mood for it, it is amazing. It doesn’t unseat the Douglas Lain XOP 18 Year single cask from its seat as favourite Laphroaig ever – that is a much more polished beast, this is the sticky unrestrained beast. However this is about a third of the price and still amazing and distinctive quality that you tend to only find in very special single casks.

Brutal and great.

Background: Ohh I had heard a lot about this. Williamson is the name used for these independent bottlings of Laphroaig spirit – and they have a very good reputation. Sometimes released as single malts, sometime teaspooned (a single teaspoon of another whisky added to a barrel so it is not technically a single malt) and released as a blended malt. This one especially had a huge reputation with some very good reviews coming in and recommendations from friends so I succumbed and grabbed a bottle. Cask strength, one of 449 bottles from cask 05057 – a Oloroso sherry cask. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit who managed to get a good chunk of bottles of it in, and was drunk while listening to Godspeed You! Black Emperor – G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END! That album works so well with big drinks.

Midleton: Red Spot (Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey: 15 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Deep, rich gold. Fast thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Smooth toffee and honey. Touch of cherries. Vanilla. Grain fields. Barley cakes. Light fish oil. Water adds fudge cakes and apples.

Body: Apricot. Smooth. Honey. Apples to apple pie fillings. Raisins and sultanas into Madeira notes. Cherries. Light oak. Slightly drying. Water adds more apples and makes very smooth. A touch of liquorice comes out along with shortbread and rice crackers.

Finish: Madeira. Light oak. Plums. A gin air. Slightly drying. Water adds apples, honey sponge and a light menthol touch.

Conclusion: This is so smooth and yet such a rewarding whisky. 46% abv so a tad above the norm and yet still even neat it is super smooth and just two drops of water brings out everything perfectly

It mixes between the smooth honey and toffee backbone and the other notes that then dance over that backbone. Initially light apple notes … dominate seems the wrong word considering how they are nicely subtle … are most prominent is probably the best way to put it. It is a refreshing, easy drinking dram but over time the red fruit and heavier dark fruit notes show their way through to make this a really rich and rewarding experience.

It is like you get the best bits from a fruity speyside, a rich highland and the smooth as silk Irish whiskey all in one glass, with a bit of unusual barrel ageing love on top. Water adds both a fresh menthol touch at the end, but also a more shortbread like slightly more robust middle which makes for a more substantial whiskey overall.

On the down side water also adds a slight rice to rice crackers like character mid body. Nothing too bad, a light not quite right touch, but that is the worst I can say about it. The rest of the whiskey is fantastic.

This is genuinely one of the greatest Irish whiskeys I have tried – all of the smoothness you would expect and with the extra age and barrel ageing bringing such depth of character an already great spirit.

I am so very impressed.

Background: During a short trip with the family around Ireland we ended up with some time in Arklow and not much to do so we poked our heads into a pub called The Old Ship. I asked what irish whiskeys that they had that tended not to leave Ireland and they showed me a delectable set that included this Red Spot and 21 year Red Breast. After much umming and ahhing I went for the Red Spot. It was close. The person pouring accidentally put ice in when I had asked for no ice, and so removed the ice and gave me extra Red Spot to make up for it. I have zero complaints about this at all. Top notch. I was not going to do notes on this as I had no paper, but my parents both supplied paper, and picked up the cost of the whisky. Far too kind. Many thanks. Anyway the whisky, this is single pot still whiskey that has been aged in a mix of the usual Bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks, but also Marsala fortified wine.

Kinnegar: Black Bucket (Ireland: Black IPA: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Opaque black body with a good sized creamy brown head.

Nose: Citrus. Pineapple, grapefruit and lime. Crushed bourbon biscuits. Cocoa. Brown bread.

Body: Prickly. Pineapple. Vanilla touch. Tart grapefruit. Dark malts. Sour dough. Light cream. Quite tart. Light charring and charred bitterness. Peppery. Brown bread.

Finish: Charring. Slightly rough bitterness. Bitter black coffee. Grapefruit over that. Raspberry tartness. Bitter cocoa. Peppery to rye crackers.

Conclusion: This is a Black IPA that leans towards my preferred take on the style. While it is dark of body and backed obviously by the darker malts, the first impression you get is citrus heavy, fresh and quite tart in the hop expression.

The main elements in the lead in are pineapple and grapefruit notes, but late on in the body into the finish you get a spritzy raspberry like set of tart notes that I would not have expected at all. It is all very refreshing and prevents the roasted hopped stout take that a lot of BIPAs head towards.

Initially the freshness controls the front, with hints of darker malts behind, leading into a much more evident charred, bitter finish sprinkled with a touch of pepper. However as time goes along you get the malt rising in the middle with a bready base, more peppery rye character and more bitter charring, becoming more like the finish for the full BIPA experience.

It’s not quite got the balance of the best black IPAs, that hard to describe touch that makes them so good – but it is still darn good. The rye is mostly used well, initially quite quiet allowing you to appreciate the open beer, it builds to a heavy rye cracker and peppery presence by the end – possibly a tad too heavy at the end for me – it mutes the brighter, slightly tarter notes, but generally a decent progression of flavour over time for an enjoyable BIPA.

Pretty satisfying.

Background: This was found while heading around Dublin as part of a holiday in Ireland. Oddly, the pub I had intended to hunt out was shut down, so I stuck my nose into a place called Tapped that boasted 50 taps, figuring that should have at least something I want to try. A good chunk of the taps turned out to host cocktails and wine, which were not to my taste, but I noticed in their can list they had this – which was in ratebeer‘s top 50 beers from Ireland, so I figured I would give it a go. It’s a rye black IPA – I am an utter sucker for BIPAs, and a rye touch never hurts so I had high hopes – especially as the BIPA seems an underused style these days which makes me sad…

Augustiner: Oktoberfest (Germany: Oktoberfest Marzen: 6.3% ABV)

Visual: Bright yellow gold clear body. Medium sized white bubbled head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation to the body.

Nose: Brown bread. Light bitterness. Light peppery character and light sulphur.

Body: Banana syrup. Brown sugar. Palma violets. Touch of malt drinks. Brown bread. Dry toffee. Peppery.

Finish: Palma violets. Lightly oily. Toffee. Light peppery character. Malt chocolate. Lightly earthy.

Conclusion: This is probably the most robust Oktoberfest I have had – it has a slightly higher abv that most of the style that I have encountered and you can feel it in the more malt led body, with toffee and banana notes against a light peppery bitterness, enhanced by just a touch of oiliness.

It means that it isn’t as clean and easy drinking as most Oktoberfests, but also means that I am really enjoying it. I dunno how well the extra weight and abv would go down drunk in litre steins at the festival itself, but had here in my room it is exactly what I am looking for.

It gains a lot of bready character in there as well as time goes on. Early on it has a palma violets style that calls to the more Czech hops and banana from the malt that makes it quite sweet, but as time goes on it builds on the peppery notes that exist, and with that bready character and a light earthiness it becomes much more savoury late into the game.

I would say it is more exciting early on, but the change in style over time makes it much more manageable to drink while still keeping hints of what came before.

Its not perfect, it could get rough over time i’d guess, but it is the most interesting Oktoberfest I have had so far.

Many thanks to Tony for getting me it!

Background: Over the years I have managed to try five of the six mainstays of the Oktoberfest, however the sixth – Augustiner, has always eludes me. I was this many years old when I found out that is because the Augustiner Oktoberfest is not generally imported into the UK, if you see it, it is likely someone manually brought some crates of it over. So, anyway shortly after finding that out I found out Tony was over in Germany for … Oktoberfest. So I pleaded with him, and he kindly brought me a bottle back. Many thanks, you are a prince amongst people. This is that bottle. Music wise I went with Godspeed You! Black Emperor: G_d’s Pee AT STATES’S END!. Yes that is its real title.

Brewdog: Jet Stream (Scotland: American Pale Ale: 4.2% ABV)

Visual: Clear pale yellow colour. A small amount of small bubbled carbonation to the body. Massive white mounded head.

Nose: Unleavened bread. Ovaltine. Choc orange. Light grapefruit freshness.

Body: Frothy mouthfeel. Choc orange ovaltine style. Gritty bitterness. Orange crème. Fresh pineapple.

Finish: Choc orange ovaltine. Gritty bitterness. Kumquat. Slight fresh pineapple. Light strawberry.

Conclusion: It is odd that this is a pale ale, as the flavour actually remind me a bit of the amber ale 5 AM saint. Well one of the version of 5 AM saint, I think it has changed recipe a bit over the years. I mean, on the eye this is very obviously a pale ale – light and clear, but flavour wise the malt load hits a lot different than you would expect.

The flavour is very choc orange but done in a more malted drink style – with Ovlatine being the good go to reference for that. On top of that it has a slightly gritty bitterness doing the main hop work. The bitterness is fairly moderate mid body but lasts just slightly too long and too dry in the finish, making it end just slightly too harsh. The mid body is better done though with a light grapefruit freshness that smooths it and also helps alleviate the dominance of the heavier malt character.

Overall this is a bit of an odd mix – again the 5AM Saint feeling come up, or at least the more malt led version of 5 AM saint that has existed over the years – and it does make the beer interesting. It is a solid beer, the malt is well done, the fresher feeling lightly done do help, but the lead out is not so great. Overall it feels a bit of a disparate mix of elements rather than a coherent beer but not a bad one.

So, not bad, not great, probably better than most beers available on a plane. Probably, I haven’t drunk on a plane for a while – ever since I found out how much faster I get drunk in a pressurised environment!

Background: Deeeep breath. Ok, long time readers may have noticed for all I was a huge fan of Brewdog I have not done much on them for years. Simple reason – we have seen over and over that the owners are bellends and the company treats people terribly. So, erm bias warning. Also bias warning, back in the day I was excited about them I got shares, so I am influenced in that way as well. I will say from the times I have had their beers recently they generally continue to be good, but I cannot be excited about a company that treats people as badly as Brewdog has. So,why notes on this one? Well this is the final gift my mate Mushroom brought back for me, a beer traditionally only sold on airline flights. My wish to show thanks to my mate for the gift weighs higher than my wish not to give Brewdog publicity, soooo, a rare modern day Brewdog tasting note!

Waterford: Hook Head 1.1 (Irish Single Malt Whiskey: 50% ABV)

Visual: Slightly darkened grain to gold spirit with medium speed and thickness streaks coming from it.

Nose: Oily, slightly nutty. Clay. Lime touch. Peppery. Lightly earthy – turmeric. Water adds light grassy and menthol notes.

Body: Smooth. Honey. Oily nuttiness. Earthy – turmeric. Light lime touch. Light apricot. Moderate thickness body. Water makes even smoother, a more oily nut character. Touch of strawberry.

Finish: Grit air. Light smoke wisp. Peppery. Dry white wine. Water makes smoother oily character and adds a peach air.

Conclusion: As only the second Waterford whiskey I have had, it fell to this to really show how much difference a single farm origin, a terroir as they say, can have on a whiskey. I already knew that I very much enjoyed Waterford whiskey from my first encounter with it – it was so high quality, especially considering how youthful it is – but I had yet to work out if it could live up to its base conceit of showing how much difference an environment could make to a whiskey.

Anyway, short answer to that. Yes. Yes it does.

It has similarities to the Ballymorgan 1.1 which I first tried – For one it is still far smoother than a 50% abv 3-4 year old whiskey has any right to be. It also still shows some nice fruity bright elements, though admittedly the fruit is more muted here so expresses itself differently.

So, with the similarities out of the way, how is it different? How does this show the influence of the barley? Well it is pretty darn striking. It is more oily, with a savoury oily nuttiness, and in general it has a more grounded, less bright character. There is a light earthy, peppery character than came across in a way I can’t help but think of as “clay” like after I read up on the soil where the barley was grown. Darn my easily influenced mind.

On a personal level I prefer the brighter character of Ballymorgan but this is very high quality with such a different style to play with, even a wisp of non peat related smoke there. So lovely to examine.

Waterford again proves itself as one the THE distilleries to watch at the moment.

Background: Been meaning to do notes on this for a while. I had my first Waterford a while back, and grabbed this a few months back as well. Waterford’s raison d’etre is that each release is made with barley from a single named farm, to explore the terroir of whiskey. Awesome idea and awesome whisky – the quality is so high, especially considering the age is no more than 4 years odd for each release. Initially each bottling was aged, etc the same way to keep them as similar in production as possible, but now each is aged and blended to best show off the influence of the barley. If you go to the website using the code on the bottle you can get the full detail on exactly how it was aged and mixed and details on the farm – up to an including the sounds of the farms in some cases. Anyway, I settled on this as my second bottle of Waterford as it had won ISW Gold, which seems a good start. I finally got around to doing notes on this after Independent Spirit did a horizontal tasting of six of their whiskies – and trust me, it gave me a new appreciation of exactly how different each bottle could be – it helped that several members o the Waterford team where there to answer many many questions. So, with new energy from that I finally sat down and did these notes.

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