Category: Whisky Tasting Notes


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.

Glenfiddich: Orchard Experiment (Experimental Series 5) (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 43% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow gold. Slow thick puckering comes from the spirit.

Nose: Apples. Viscous. Cider. Peppery. Vanilla. Honey. Tinned tropical fruit syrup. Water adds menthol and peppermint and some oak.

Body: Apricot syrup. Apple brandy. Oily – a nutty oils style. Alcohol tingle. Oak. Slight drying tannins. Water makes smoother mouthfeel, but still an alcohol tingle. Vanilla custard and toffee comes out along with apples.

Finish: Nutty. Peppery. Tannins. Water adds nettles, oily apple and oily nuts.

Conclusion: Back when I first started drinking whiskey, I was not a fan of Glenfiddich – however I will admit it has massively grown on me over the years. It is a subtle thing with green fruit notes over a restrained spirit and gains well from time in the oak. Something that my more brash whisky enjoying youth did not experience. However, now with a few years in my life I find this, an apple spirit led and finished whisky – that sounds like something that would enhance a green fruit led subtle whisky, right?

So… does it?

Kind of. I feel that either they used comparatively young spirit for this, or the cask finish really layered a rougher spirit touch to the character as this is nowhere near as smooth or polished as the similarly priced and sometime cheaper Glenfiddich 12.

So, if you haven’t guessed yet, this has a fairly rough spirity note- the texture get smoother with water but it still keeps a quite tingly, slightly rough character despite that,

So what does it do right? Lots of apple and apple brandy notes, done in a far less subtle manner than the traditional green fruit of the more standard Glenfiddich but I really can’t claim it doesn’t deliver exactly what is promised on the tin.

However due to that strong influence from the finish a lot of the more subtle green fruit notes are lost, you don’t really get the base Glenfiddich spirit realised much here – instead it feels like the apple brandy influence is layered over a more standard, peppery,tannins touched and nut oils led whisky base. Not bad, but it means that the barrel finish feels less a compliment to Glenfiddich spirit that as a completely separate thing.

Background: So, a whisky finished in Somerset Pomona (A mix of apple juice and cider brandy) Casks. That caught my eye. So far I have had good experiences with the rare apple spirit aged whisky – including an excellent Calvados Highland Park bottling which was one of my earlier set of notes on this site. Anyway, yes, I saw this an Sainsbury‘s and decided to give it a go. With the heat wave recently, I drank this quite late at night when it was faintly cooler – darn the evil day star, Music wise I went with Beast In Black: Dark Connection – My mate Andy recommended them to me (thanks mate) and they are a very over the top, oft sci-fi referencing metal band and a lot of fun so far).

Lochlea: First Release (Scottish Lowland Single Malt Whisky: 46% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow gold. Fast, thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Thick, stewed fruit. Toffee apple to apple crumble. Plums. Pencil shavings. Sherry trifle. Custard slices. Water adds green grapes, chocolate dust and crushed walnuts.

Body: Thick. Booming oak. Vanilla. Fudge. Raisins. Tannins. Water makes very smooth with a slightly nutty oiliness. Fruitcake. Tinned tropical fruit.

Finish: Light charring. Light bitter chocolate. Peppery. Dry and bitter red wine. Water adds fruitcake and glacier cherries. Milk chocolate, a touch of white chocolate and a nutty character. Some tinned topical fruit.

Conclusion: Ok, I know this must be fairly young spirit – the distillery hasn’t been around that long, only being licensed in 2018, and this was the first release, as the name indicates. Despite knowing all that this has some nice polish to it for its age.

Neat it is slightly closed in the main body, but utterly booming in the aroma, with very little harshness despite its youth and a slightly higher abv that the default.

I am guessing the PX barrel ageing may be doing some of the heavy lifting here, especially in the aroma, but when you hit the body there is a surprising amount of weight from the bourbon as well. There are plenty of vanilla and tinned tropical fruit notes, especially if you use a touch of water to open it up.

However, as mentioned before,the PX brings a lot to the game here – Lots of stewed fruit notes as the thicker aroma of a young whisky meets the dark fruit from the barrel, and yet is smooth enough to make an enjoyable and viscous peak.

Water really helps the slightly closed body start to match that joy of the aroma though. It brings a savoury, oily nuttiness which I’m guessing hints more at the character of the base spirit – I could be wrong, we will see as other expressions come out. Any which way it blends nicely with the shiny, fruity high notes.

Overall it is a very good first release and introduction to the distillery. Lots of promise here and generally worth enjoying just for the whisky it is. Not a must have, especially as this release is starting to get a tad expensive with rarity, but a very nice and polished first release.

Background: Ok, Independent Spirit were bigging this up before it came out, and so I had to grab a bottle. The first release from Lochlea, who kept very quiet up until just before they were ready to release a whisky. As well as coming from the land of Robert Burns, a fact they make a big deal about, they have picked up quite a range of talented people in the whisky industry to work there. I would give names and where from but I lost my notes on that. So, erm, important people. The best. I remember John Campbell was previously at Laphroaig as Distillery manager so that is a heck of a good start. This release was aged in first fill Bourbon cask and Pedro Ximenez casks, natural colour and no chill filtration. Went with some X-Rey Spexs as background music while drinking. No reason, just wanted to listen to again.

Clonakilty: Single Batch (Irish Blended Whiskey: 43.6% ABV)

Visual: Pale grain colour, with fairly slow puckering coming from the spirit.

Nose: Vanilla. Crumpets and butter. Light wholemeal bread. Lime in a zesty fashion. Light menthol. Water makes a tad more neutral and a touch of grain spirit style.

Body: Smooth and light. Strawberry. Vanilla fudge. Orange crème sheen. Lightly oily. Toasted teacakes. Toasted marshmallows. Light cooked grains. Light lime. Water makes cleaner, more citrus notes and more buttery.

Finish: Vanilla. Cream. Cooked rice. Toasted marshmallow. Water makes for a similar experience, with a touch more gentle menthol.

Conclusion: This is a very easy going, very smooth, take as is and don’t add water whiskey. Trust me, there is no need for water here, all it does is make the flavours kind of lighter. I mean even with water it isn’t bad, it is still very drinkable, but it is a better whiskey neat.

Neat it is just thick enough, it is smooth, very smooth and quite light and easy going but managing to avoid coming across as empty feeling.

It has got a gentle sweetness of toffee and vanilla, with some citrus notes laid over, but they are matched with a kind of toasted bready and toasted marshmallow character that managed to make it feel, well not heavy, but more substantial that the deliciously smooth character would otherwise.

Nicely complementing the bready notes is a light buttery character, subtle neat and works well – but it becomes more evident with water to a degree that I feel it hurts it slightly. I much prefer the subtle character it adds neat.

Overall this is a lovely, easy drinking, Irish whisky. Nothing quite makes it a top end must have, but it is very satisfying to drink as is and a nice one to relax with.

Background: Independent Spirit did a Clonakilty tasting a while back, and very nice it was too. I was a bit burnt out at the time so didn’t do any notes at the event, but they did also give us a mini to take home. Which is what this is for me. So I decided to do notes on it, so I had a least some record of the event. So here it is. I have to admit I can’t remember much of the info picked up at the tasting, mainly that is was tasty, so not much to put here. This is listed as double oak so most likely aged in both bourbon and sherry casks. Was still listening to the same UK Subs album as in the last tasting – there were a lot of tracks to appreciate on that album so I had to give it a good few spins.

Cooper’s Choice: Inchdairnie Distillery – Finglassie Lowland Smoke Madeira Finish (Scottish Single Cask Lowland Whisky: 53% abv)

Visual: Pale, slightly greened grain colour. Very slow puckering comes from the spirit.

Nose: Tarry. Oily. Peat smoke. Cinder toffee. Salty. Fudge. Water adds moss. More salt. Slight crushed rocks.

Body: Thick and oily. Slightly tarry. Sweet red dessert wine. Sweet raspberry yogurt. Slightly drying. Vanilla toffee. Strawberry jelly. Water makes smooth. Sherry trifle touched. Chocolate toffee and chocolate liqueur.

Finish: Tannins. Shortbread. Cake sponge. Peat smoke. Dried beef slices. Madeira soaked raisins to fruitcake. Strawberry jam. Water adds melted toffee to chocolate and vanilla toffee. Oily peat. Tarry.

Conclusion: Ok, after encountering some dead distilleries’ take on a peated lowland and absolutely loving it, I’ve been searching for a modern day, more easily available, peated lowland.

This may not be super easy to get, being from a new distillery with, so far, very few releases, but it is both from the lowland area and fairly heavily peated. So, does it fit the bill?

Well it isn’t a traditional lowland. Instead of that smooth triple distilled light style it is slightly salty and with a thickness that calls more towards Island or Highland than to Lowland, so it didn’t fit that niche I was hunting out. However …

This is still great.

It’s oily, almost tarry in a way that reminds me of some of the heavier Mortlach expressions I have encountered, mixed with those slightly salty, rocky Islay like notes. It is still smooth though, which calls to the lowland origins – and is impressive considering the over 50% abv.

So, I’m guessing even without the unusual cask finishing this would still be a solid whisky, but boy does that Madeira finish make it stand out. There is a vanilla sweetness at the start, but as you get deeper into the whisky it mutates into a sweet raspberry, almost jelly or jam like notes which somehow work so well with that oily peat. The sweetness is understated and yet so rounded and well developed in the character it delivers. It makes for an odd, peaty, oily, trifle like feel – which works better than that sounds.

Neat it is still slightly alcohol touched, which again, this is 50% abv and up that is not a surprise, but water turns that into a very slick drink. It is still peaty and oily, don’t worry on that note, but now the red fruit notes are clearer and the base becomes sweeter and smoother, with choc toffee notes that make it more peaty dessert feel, a heavier sweet note that again works brilliantly with the peat.

It’s genuinely good, the base oily peat spirit is very well expressed and matches well with the almost dessert wine feeling Madeira influence to make an enthralling experience. Not the peated lowland I was looking for, but one I’m glad I encountered instead.

Background: As referenced in the notes, I deeply enjoyed some peated lowland whisky I had tried, that are not defunct, so when I saw this – a new distillery, doing a peated lowland it caught my eye. Looking on their website they seem to be doing a wide range of experimental whisky so it may be one to watch in the future. Doesn’t seem to be many official bottlings yet so was happy to get my hands on this Cooper’s Choice independent bottling. Finglassie or also KinGlassie seems to be the distilleries name for their heavily peated expressions. They also seem to have a rye release which is very unusual for a Scottish distillery. This is cask 409, one of 270 bottles, and was finished in a Madeira cask. Bought from the always great Independent Spirit, this was drunk while listening to Cancer Bats: Psychotic Jailbreak – I’d seen them live a few times and really enjoyed the energy of their live performances but had not bought an actual album of their until now.

Barton Distillery: 1792 Small Batch (USA: Bourbon Whiskey: 46.85% ABV)

Visual: Darkened, slightly browned gold. Mainly slow puckering comes from the spirit.

Nose: Cereals. Wisp of smoke. Shreddies. Quite dry. Slight butter. Peppery. Vanilla. Slightly dusty.

Body: Slick. Honey. Vanilla. Slight peach. Lightly waxy. Vanilla yogurt. Flower petals. Light strawberry. Toffee. Water lightens and makes more generic.

Finish: Butter. Peppery to rye crackers. Dried apricot touch. Brown bread. Slight chives. Vanilla yogurt. Water adds slight sulphur and general cereals quality.

Conclusion: This reminds me a bit of Maker’s Mark, just bigger. That is a good thing though, Makers Mark was my go to bourbon for many a year and bigger is generally welcome.

It has the same slightly rustic, peppery and cereal led character but here with extra touches that really pushes it up a notch. The mouthfeel is slick, but a bit waxy, a bit buttery, which makes everything a bit more interesting behind the more traditional vanilla and toffee flavours. There is even a wisp of sulphur adding a touch of weight. Not peat smoke, just a slightly sulphur touched dry air to the whole thing.

There are hints at fruit notes at the edge which is unusual for a bourbon. Nothing showing through strongly, just calls to rounding apricot or strawberry that adds a faint sweetness to what is a dry, cereal led whiskey.

A lot of those flavours are enhanced by the bigger mouthfeel. The slightly waxy, touch really gives grip to a slick bourbon. Despite the touch higher abv it only shows in grip and flavour, no real extra harshness. In fact, on that note, don’t add water to this, it only mutes what is an already good bourbon. In my opinion obviously, I’m not going to slap the whiskey out of your hands if you think differently.

It isn’t a must have bourbon, but feels like a posh Makers Mark and that is no bad thing. Definitely better, but still an easy drinking bourbon and worth the extra pounds it costs. I enjoy it very much.

Background: Fairly simple story for this one. I had a bourbon shaped gap in my whisky selection at the time, was perusing the whiskey selection in Waitrose and noticed this one. Was not silly money, seemed to have a good reputation, and so I grabbed a bottle. Simple. Didn’t know much about it at the time so not much else to add. Had seen IDLES live recently, my first gig for years due to the darn plague going around, so went with IDLES: Crawler as backing music. Enjoyed the gig but was a tad worried that I was pretty much the only darn person masked up. Sigh.

Starward: Ginger Beer Cask #6 (Australia Single Malt Whisky: 4 Years?: 48% ABV)

Visual: Dark copper to bronze, with reddish touches. Very slow puckering comes from the spirit.

Nose: Ginger. Menthol. Peppermint. Dessert wine. Toffee touch. Rose wine touch. Dried apricot. Rose petals. Water adds more menthol, more ginger and burnt brown sugar.

Body: Smooth front into a lightly burning strength. Sour red wine. Tannins. Butterscotch, Ginger. Vanilla. Fatty butter. Dried apricot. Apple. Water makes slightly waxy, but smoother. More ginger. Even more water brings out a strawberry touch.

Finish: Fiery ginger bread. Sweet ginger beer. Grassy. Dry oak. Tannins. Bitter red wine. A waxy remaining air. Water adds lots of ginger and fatty butter comes out. Sulphur candles air. More water makes peppery.

Conclusion: Ok, let’s get it out of the way quickly. This is, obviously, heresy, but is it tasty tasty heresy?

Well, it answer that I will first examine nearly everything else I can, because I am an evil shit. Like a lot of warmer country aged whisky this is thick and chewy, with an unusual texture, that reminds me of whisky that has been directly gas heated (from the few times I have had a chance to try whisky described as such anyway) . Anyway, this has a distinct feel that I can best describe as slightly like the fluffy feel of a steam beer, but not. I am good at this words lark honest. Despite the higher abv and being younger whisky it is fairly smooth initially, the alcohol does become noticeable fast, but never painful and easily dealt with by adding some water.

The base whisky has a rose wine air to it, with more red wine like notes around edges. Early on it feels more towards the red wine, but even a few drops of water soothes it towards the more rose style. That lighter wine touch seems to allow a lot of room for lighter, menthol like notes to roam around over everything.

A lot of the evident character is in the feel, as well as that lightly gassy fluffy touch mentioned before, there is a waxy sheen at the end and a sulphurous candle touch in the air and feel, heck even a kind of fatty butter touch. The quicker ageing in a hot climate really gives it some feel. On that is a lightly sweet, red and rose wine touched whisky, with some more traditional sweet vanilla and such notes as well, but a lot is in that mouthfeel.

So, ginger beer finish eh? The ginger is very evident, as you can probably tell from the main notes above. The ginger thankfully doesn’t overpower the whisky but I is very clear indeed. Lots of spicy ginger early on, with sweeter ginger beer touches mixing into that vanilla style as it integrates into the whisky, then out into a peppery spice dryness in the finish. While the ginger is clear it feels like the edges fade nicely into the whisky making it feel like a coherent whole. It doesn’t feel out of place, it stands out as a dominant element, not an alien one. It is worth noting that it is far more integrated with a drop of water, being a tad more fiery neat, but still never an issue.

So, conclusion, tasty heresy. Now I will admit I hope, tasty though it is, this doesn’t become a popular trend in whisky – a craze that the bigger distilleries copy – as I am enjoying very much here as the exception, not the norm, and also as I feel a lot of the less heavy whiskies would not cope half as well as this does with it.

As is, while I am not as crazy about it as a lot of its fans, this is definitely tasty heresy.

Background: Starward has been on my radar for a while, then Independent Spirit did a comparatively recent Starward tasting, where I got to enjoy a good chunk of their line up, It was a very good night. There, lots of people were raving about a whisky that was not in the line up though. A Starward that had been finished in Ginger Beer casks. Now that sounded like a horrible mess to me, but everyone was so enthused about it I decided, when it turned up, to give it a go and see if it was worth the hype. First thing I noticed is that it is in 50CL bottles, which is an odd choice and always makes the bottle look like it is slightly further away than it really is. The whisky was distilled 2017 and bottled 2021, so is somewhere around 3 or 4 years in age. Whisky in hot countries always seems to age very differently, and requires less time to become quality, if very different, whisky so I was confident this would not taste as young as that sounds. It is a mix of Apera (Australian Fortified wine) and red wine aged whisky, that then,as the name suggests was finished in ginger beer casks – the distilleries own ginger beer casks in fact. So lots of very different elements from a Scotch or Irish whisky there. I went with Nine Inch Nails – Year Zero as backing music, the fact this concept album was initially set in 2022 seems far too accurate these days.

Buffalo Trace: Blanton’s: Single Barrel Gold Edition (USA: Bourbon Single Cask: 51.5% ABV)

Visual: Visual: Deep, slightly bronzed, gold. Slow, thin streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Rye crackers. Peppery. Alcohol tingle evident. Warm orange creme. Subtle menthol. Warm custard. Red grapes. Water makes smoother and brings out more rye crackers.

Body: Warming. Honey. Peppery. Very mild aniseed. Peach syrup. Slightly astringent. Water adds apricot. Red grapes. Fatty butter.

Finish: Dry oak. Juicy grapes. Custard. Wholemeal crackers. Drying. Peppery. Water adds menthol. Vanilla. Slight savoury cream touch.

Conclusion: This is so rewarding, so recognisably bourbon but with tons of elements I would not normally associate with the style and the mix makes it stand out as something special.

At its base it is a slightly rye crackers tasted peppery thing. So I am guessing that there is a moderate amount of rye in the mash bill – but I could be wrong. Along with that there is some of the traditional bourbon style vanilla backing it but less so than you would imagine. It is slightly drying and astringent from the alcohol weight when taken neat, but not especially so, especially considering the over 50% abv.

Above that is a honey sweetness, along with a slight strange more custard like sweetness that seems to be there in place of the more traditional vanilla in most areas. This is still in the ballpark of bourbon expectations, it just feels like higher abv and care taken in its selection has given it a weightier, bigger expression of which the custard replacing the vanilla is the most obvious element.

What makes it really stand out is a slight sweet peach syrup note, and a sweet grapes touch – in a red grapes style that I really would not have expected considering that, with this being bourbon, it will have been aged in virgin oak, and so I cannot attribute to subtle use of sherry oak ageing like I normally would. Even more there is subtle green grapes and menthol touches that are wonderful and unexpected extra flourishes over the bourbon base. These elements are noticeable neat, but become super evident with a touch of water smoothing out the more astringent alcohol notes.

These all combine to give it a subtle, but impressive variety of flavour, while still delivering the expected bourbon notes very well as a base that everything else works from. It is covering a complex range, but without sacrificing what bourbon is known for best and that combination makes it probably the best bourbon I have tried. Very impressive.

Background: I’ve missed a chance to pick up some Blantons a few times before, it has a great reputation as a single cask bourbon and always vanished while I was umming and ahhing in on if I should grab a bottle. So this time when some came into Independent Spirit I grabbed a bottle right away, the Gold Edition in fact. There is a lot of information on the, very pretty indeed, bottle – everything from barrel number, rack number, warehouse and date dumped. Most of it doesn’t tell me anything as I don’t know where those places are, but it is a nice touch. Really brings out the individuality of this single barrel expression. There wasn’t a new Miracle Sound release for 2021, so for music I picked up his earlier album – Level 6 – and went with that as backing music.

St George Distillery: The English: Smokey (England: Single Malt Whisky: 43% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellowed to grain hue. Thin, slow puckering comes from the spirit.

Nose: Dry. Dusty. Smoke. Crushed rocks. Pear drops. Water adds a brown sugar backing.

Body: Vanilla toffee. Oily. Dried beef slices. Crushed rocks. Sweet lime. Water adds fudge. Slightly more chewy texture. Apples. Raisins. Buttery.

Finish: Vanilla. Ash. Smoke. Malt chocolate. Light praline. Lightly nutty. Water makes for slight sulphur and fatty butter.

Conclusion: Ok, this is much more enjoyable than the unpeated version. Mainly because, well, peat. Peat solves 76.3% of the world’s problems. As long as the problem is lack of peat.

(and the other 23.7% can be solved by more peat)

The base whisky under the peat feels just slightly more chewy than the unpeated version, especially with a drop of water. There is still some green fruit evident, a good chunk of vanilla toffee to fudge sweetness backing. Nothing stand out but a solid core to work from. The peat on top of that comes in a generally ashes, smokey and slightly dry way with a crushed rock quality to it. It feels like a lighter peat touch to an easy drinking dram rather than the more meaty, beefy and broth like of the heavier peated island and Islay whiskies.

Initially it seems ok but a bit simple, kind of like the bare minimum you would expect of a decent peated whisky. Nothing unpleasant but also nothing that really grabbed my attention. Even like this is is nicely smooth, with present peat use and a what feels like a lowland influenced base in its style.

Water make for an interesting change to that though. On the down side it adds a bit of a muggy set of sulphurous notes that don’t really fit with the smooth character but in exchange it brings in subtle notes of dark fruit that add a decent bit of complexity into the equation. It also adds a slightly fatty butter touch, if feels like that touch of water unlocks some of the advantages from this being non chilled filtered.

Water isn’t 100% a benefit to the whisky, but it does make it more interesting. This isn’t a must grab for me, but it is a huge jump up in quality from the unpeated version, and leaves me hoping that the final mini in the collection will be even better yet.

Background: Second of the three miniatures in this box set of new releases from the St George Distillery that I’m guessing will make up their main line up. This one is their peated expression, which made it instantly more interesting to me as a big peat fan. I made my “hate The English” joke last time, so that is my joke routine already wasted and depleted. Again no age statement here. After enjoying her new release recently, I went back to Laura Jane Grace’s previous solo album as music to back this – Still Alive. As before this was grabbed from Independent Spirit.

St George Distillery: The English – Original (English Single Malt Whisky: 43% ABV)

Visual: Very pale, slightly greened touch but mostly clear. Fast thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Viscous. Apples. Pencil shavings. Dry cake sponge. Moss. Slight neutral vodka alcohol character. Water makes slightly oily. Lighter fluid touch. More water makes lightly sulphur touched. Crushed rocks with a lick of salt.

Body: Smooth. Gentle toffee. Cake sponge. Slight cream. Mild chocolate eclair sweets. Everything done in a subtle way. Neutral alcohol character. Water adds more toffee and chocolate eclairs. More water turns to crushed rocks and apples.

Finish: Wood shavings. Fudge. Apples. Clean alcohol but smooth. Light aniseed. Water adds cake sponge. Toffee. More waters adds crushed rocks, pears and a nail varnish air.

Conclusion: This needs water, not because it is harsh, as it is not (though there is a kind of neutral alcohol sheen to the whole thing, it is just a smooth alcohol sheen if that makes sense?). It does however definitely need water. Not too much water though. Adding more than just a gentle pour turns this into a slightly gritty rocks thing that loses most of the better notes. I am, however, getting ahead of myself.

Anyway, with the sweet spot of water this is a gentle, very gentle, toffee and fudge thing with a slightly creamy flavour – though without the associated weight. There are slightly heavier chocolate eclair hard sweet notes, but by slightly I do mean slightly, neat it was so light as to feel almost vanishing which is why it needed water so badly. Water actually makes it that tiny touch heavier and makes the so very slightly heavier flavours stand out more. So yes, add a drop of water to this to get it to open up.

Some of the apple and pear notes I remember from the very young spirit of the Chapter 6 release actually manage to still survive through to this expression, but not much.

Overall it is not exactly impressive. Neat it has some clean alcohol sheen and light flavours, too much water and it gets a bit gritty. At its best it is gentle and easygoing, but even with the extra flavour the water brings out it is not as interesting as a well developed smooth lowland which seems its direct competitor.

It is ok, but there are so many other gentle drinking whiskies that give so much more for the experience that I cannot recommend this one.

Background: Last time I ran into the St George Distillery they were using the name “The English Whisky Company”, now they are just listing it as “The English”. Which means every time they make a crap whisky I can now use the “I hate the English” joke. Anyway, this has no age statement but I did notes on their Chapter 6 whisky back in 2012 so I’m guessing they have at least 10 year whisky lying around. I am also fairly sure than is not youngest whisky they used in this from the notes. This was part of a three pack of miniatures grabbed from Independent Spirit, which had this along with a peated take and a rum finished one. Will be trying those another day. Was chatting with friends again while doing these notes so no backing music this time.

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