Tag Archive: Blended


Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye (Canadian Blended Whisky: 45% ABV)

Visual: Light gold.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Rye crackers. Light orange. Menthol. Peppermint. Vanilla. Water adds coconut, white chocolate and light praline.

Body: Vanilla toffee. Rye crackers. Coconut. Slight bitter chocolate. Light smoke. Water makes much smoother and slightly more oaken.

Finish: Brown bread. Vanilla. Peppery. Menthol. Peppermint. Buttery shortbread. Tropical fruit. Coconut. White chocolate. Quite dry and with an alcohol air. Water makes more oaken and more menthol, with some charring to it.

Conclusion: This is one of those ones that ends up as a tale of two whiskies. Initially it shows a dry, spicy rye kind of thing; Lots of rye bourbon styling, while this is a whisky it has both the rye and a light set of orange crème notes that are definitely a call to bourbon style.

However, under those dry notes is a light vanilla sweetness matched with some white chocolate character. Items that usually would be very sweet notes, but since they are delivered so dryly they instead just add more of the flavour, with just some sweet hints to them as well.

Neat it has a light amount of menthol to peppermint that is fresh, however it doesn’t seem to match the other elements well. Thankfully even a few drops of water removes this, leaving more influence for the dry spicy and peppery backing.

Even like this is still has some slight vanilla sweetness – just enough to keep it from getting too wearing. Now this leaves me in a bit of a bind – usually very dry whiskies aren’t my thing – however even as such I can respect the complexity this has and the range it brings. Even with that the character makes it far from easy drinking so I’m more appreciating it that fully enjoying it.

So, a complex but just slightly harsh edged whisky. Enjoyable, chocolate backed dry coconut and peppermint spice – it is good, but not great.

Background: Now, recently Independent Spirit did what they called their “Mediocre Whisky tasting” Now the first whisky was this – what Jim Murray listed as his best whisky in the world for 2016, so you may have guessed they were being a tad flippant there. It was an amazing line up of very hard to find whiskies – including Hibiki 17 and Yamazaki 12, amongst some others – the notes of which will be turning up in the next few days. Now, accepting that Jim Murray’s picks may be slightly…political shall we say, I was still very interested to try this. A blended whisky made with 90% rye. Because of the tasting environment my notes may be a slight bit shorter than normal – hopefully they should still make sense.

spencerfield-spirit-co-pigs-nose

Spencerfield Spirit Co: Pig’s Nose (Blended Scottish Whisky: 40% ABV)

Visual: Bright gold.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Shredded wheat. Hint of smoke. Honey. Apricots. Water does little to change.

Body: Light. Honey and vanilla custard. Stewed apricot. Sweet lime. Light alcohol influence. Water adds more apricot and some peach. Slight salt. Slight dried beef.

Finish: Slight peat smoke and dried beef taste. Honey. Dry oak. Similar with water.

Conclusion: How does water make a whisky taste thicker? I’ve run into a few like that recently. I mean, I know practically that if the water is a thicker liquid than the whisky then mixing the two will result in a thicker liquid than just the whisky alone – well barring the two not mixing. I’m fairly sure that is not the case here. Whisky is more viscous than water in all cases that I am aware of, yet somehow it feels thicker with it. Go figure. Anyway…

So, yes, neat this feels very light- a simple apricot style fruity thing. A tad more smoke than usual in your standard blended whisky, but not an extreme amount. Just an extra bit of spice in the dish, metaphorically speaking. Still, despite that very simple when taken without water.

Water – well it is interesting. For one, as indicated it feels thicker than before. How? Why? I do not know why whiskies keep doing this. Anyway, it makes for a better texture and brings out light smoke and salt in the mid body. Still sweet dominated, but with a tad heavier backing.

Even like that it feels, well, like a basic level single malt. Both a complement and a criticism when I say that. It doesn’t have the rough edge of some blended whiskies – and with water it is done well enough and mixes enough elements that it reminds me of the charm of a single malt, with the sweet character of a blend. There is not much more to it than that – it has the very basic level feel of a single malt but none of the character that would make it stand out. Basically it has the feel and the basic flavour set, but no wow to it.

So, a competent blended whisky, but no more than that. No point that makes it stand out.

Background: Grabbed as part of two pack from Independent Spirit (The other is a blended malt which I saved for later). It was fairly cheap, so I thought worth a shot – I have run into very good
cheaper whiskies before, and terrible expensive ones – so always worth checking these out. Drunk while listening to The Eels: Electro Shock Blues – some good happy music for enhancing drinking. That is a lie, it is in no way a happy album – the first song is about the lead singer’s sister’s suicide for example. But it is a very good album.

The Tweeddale 14

The Tweeddale: 14 Year Batch 5 (Scottish Blended Whisky: 14 year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellowed grain.

Viscosity: Fast streaks.

Nose: Light. Husked grains. Wholegrain cereal. Water does little to change.

Body: Very smooth. Honey. Light grapes. Very mild alcohol character. Smooth lime cordial. Water makes bigger toffee and bigger body. More water adds vanilla custard and slight lemon meringue.

Finish: Light malt drinks. White grapes. Key lime pie. Water makes more toffee character and chocolate eclair toffee sweets. Apples.

Conclusion: This is 46% abv? No way! The character actually reminded me of the Irish Whiskey style with its sweetness and lightness of drinking character – not a 46% abv blended scotch at that. I’m having my expectations kicked away a lot recently.

Oddly water actually gives it more body, not less, bringing out a big toffee and a more traditional whisky character. The world is topsy turvy today.

Aside from that I’m mainly getting gentle honey sweetness and soft lime and such green fruit flavours. The aroma does very little, with or without water – just slight grain and cream – so, generally, the body onwards is left to do all the heavy lifting and work.

Despite its light character water is vital for opening up the main body. Seemingly a too light Irish whiskey wannabe neat, as water comes in the toffee and green fruit become more present and more varied – going from toffee, to toffee eclair sweets, and from grapes to lime, apples and so on.

The description of this mentions that an Islay cask was used to add some smoke to it – I’m not really getting it myself – Having read it I can kind of apply it to the notes that exist, but that is kind of cheating. Before I read it they came across more like the grain whisky influence that any peat influence.

So, is it good, and from that, is it worth it? Erm,give me a mo to check how much this is going for and I will let you know. Ok, official price seems to be mid 40 quid, but available for mid to late 30s. I wouldn’t drop the official price on it, but at under 40 – yeah I would say it is worth that. It blends the easy drinking style akin to Irish whisky with a good solid Scotch weight of flavour. Not overly complex, more a general sipping whisky, but very well done as that – especially at getting such a smooth character at an above average abv, while still giving a satisfying flavour. So, sits well in the niche it has carved for itself.

Background: Bias Warning: This sample was given to me by Independent Spirit for doing notes on, they also kindly provided the photo of the bottle as I did not have my camera on me at the time. Many thanks. This is a blended whisky made with 50% grain and 50% malt – from 1 grain whisky and 8 malts. Drink while listening to more of Pulp. Yes I am on a Pulp kick at the moment. The bottle it came from is one of 1200 bottles.

Paddy Old Irish Whiskey

Paddy: Old Irish Whiskey (Irish Blended Whiskey: 40% ABV)

Visual: Grain to yellow.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Viscous. Strong alcohol jelly like fumes. Toffee. Grain. Hay fields. Fudge. Water smooths and makes nuttier. Light lemon comes out.

Body: Light. Sweet caramel. Lemon meringue. Very light alcohol character. Slightly nutty. Water adds nutty chocolate. Walnuts. Soft lemon. Banoffee pie.

Finish: Caramel. Orange crème. Light wood notes. Flour. Neat spirit air. Nutty. Water makes nuttier and mixed with chocolate. Coffee cake. Soft lemon. Banoffee.

Conclusion: Ok, from the aroma I was expecting something much worse. The aroma is very viscous and alcohol filled, while being pretty simple. Not a good start.

The main body then wasn’t actually to bad. A gentle sweetness, lemon and a small but gently rising nuttiness. In fact later on that nuttiness seemed to take more of a centre stage. There are notes that state the alcohol strength, but more in flavour than any harshness or fire. It isn’t the most complex whiskey I have encountered, nor the most smooth, but it definitely does the job.

Water enhances the nuttiness and brings out nice banoffee pie notes. It is very gentle like this – you can still feel the rougher edges at the centre (edges? At the centre? Ah, ya know what I mean. Hopefully). There are also some rough edges in the finish- not harsh – just a very raw spirit kind of air. This doesn’t stop it being a pretty gentle drinking and satisfying whiskey. A gentle lemon comes out and that keeps the nutty and banoffee notes from dominating and becoming too sweet, thus keeping the sipping character of a good Irish whiskey.

If I hadn’t known how inexpensive this is then, barring the aroma, I would never had guessed. It is not a special, take your time to examine, whiskey, but for the price it is great value. Frankly it is very easy to justify just keeping a bottle around for enjoying with mates. It is genuinely better that a bunch of more expensive whiskeys I have gad. A solid sweet whiskey with a nice range – there is a touch too many alcohol flavours there and a not so great aroma, but mid body it is rock solid. Definitely worth the asking price.

Background: Grabbed this one on a whim, I was already grabbing some whisky from The Whisky Exchange and this mini was under three quid, so seemed a fair thing to take a risk on. A full 70cl bottle is fairly cheap as well – a quick google shows prices between 20 and 25 pounds. The bottle is plastic rather than glass, but that is not too unexpected at this price point. Drunk while listening to Ihsahn: After – I hadn’t listened to that strange mix of guitar noise for awhile, so broke it out.

The Pogues Irish Whiskey

The Pogues: Irish Whiskey (Irish Blended Whiskey: 40% ABV)

Visual: Deep ruddy gold.

Viscosity: Generally fast thick streaks.

Nose: Honey and custard. Lightly floral. Some alcohol burn. Smooth. Oak. Heather. Brown sugar. Water adds pears.

Body: Smooth and light. Stewed fruit – apricot slices. Honey. Guava juice. Apples in pastry. Pears, also in pastry with dash of cinnamon. Water adds more pears and green fruit. Toffee and caramel. Kiwi.

Finish: Light, Brown sugar. Apricot syrup and honey. Guava juice. Cinnamon spiced pear. Some oak. Water adds caramel and a light menthol air.

Conclusion: I’ve been on the scotch too long, the first sip of this was so light and smooth I damn near did not notice it – I had to pause and reset my expectations before going on. It especially was unexpected, while smooth, the aroma had a quite full character and even a hint of some alcohol. The body, well, the first sip was more just a feel of whiskey than flavour, giving a clean sheen over the mouth. This was not a good sign.

Though, now prepared I returned and took a larger mouthful. That did the trick. Still no heat; still smooth as heck, but now filled with gentle soothing fruitiness – a mix of green and orange fruit. Now lifted by gentle sweetness in a honey style. Almost too easy drinking, this is a 40% abv drink I had to remind myself, but rewarding for it.

I was hesitant to add water – it seemed like the whiskey was set just right, and considering how light it was to begin with I could only see things going downhill. Still, as a whiskey explorer I need to take suck risks, for you, my dedicated readers. So I added a few drops. It genuinely did it some good – and actually seemed to even thicken the body somehow. I’m guessing it was more the fact that I already had previous layers of whiskey already on my tongue, but any which way it did not hurt. It brought out more green fruit, more sweetness. I didn’t add much water I will admit, but yeah, against all my expectations this really boosted up the flavour while keeping it lovely and smooth.

I am impressed, I was expecting an ok but mediocre whiskey relying on the tie in to the band. I got something that really shows the smoothness of Irish whiskey perfectly, and the flavour as well. It even survived a bit more water which I tested adding it at the end of the dram, and brought more green fruit out. Considering 40% abv is the absolute lowest a whiskey can go and still be whiskey, and the light feel, it is pretty darn robust water wise.

So, yeah, good if light neat, very good with a touch of water, not too expensive – Yeah, impressed indeed. Not a gimmick, just a damn good whiskey.

Background: I have to admit, I have no real attachment to The Pogues, I just grabbed this as it was a chance to try some different Irish whiskey without committing to buying a full bottle. Sorry to all Pogues’ fans. Anyway, grabbed from Independent Spirit, the official whiskey of The Pogues. Drank while listening to Black Sabbath – Paranoid. Just to be a bit of a dick really.

Compass Box The Circus

Compass Box: The Circus (Scottish Blended Whisky: 49% ABV)

Visual: Bronzed gold.

Viscosity: Mostly fast, thick streaks.

Nose: Heather. Potpourri. Treacle. Stewed apricot. Thick. Heavy honey. Water – white chocolate and grain husks.

Body: Toffee and treacle. Glacier cherries. Warming alcohol. Gin. Dried apricot. Sugar shell coating. Water makes very smooth. Caramel and fudge. Sweet lime. Kiwi. Blueberry. Sweet pastry.

Finish: Juniper berries. Oak. White grapes. Chocolate to choc orange. Water makes kiwi and lime yogurt. Pear drops. Blueberries. Cheesecake base. Light aniseed comes out with more water.

Conclusion: A tale of two whiskies time again, though not as divergent as usual. As you may have guessed from that, this is a whisky that is quite, quite different with and without water.

Neat it feels kind of highland whisky like – a quite thick texture and aroma – ruggedly sweet with treacle and stewed fruit. Pretty smooth, warming but not burning – but a fairly standard whisky, and nowhere near what would be expected at the price point.

Water makes it so much more, more speyside like fruity, but before that the thick heavy sweetness melts into delicious fudge and caramel smooth notes. These then melt into the background as a cavalcade (or possibly cornucopia) of dessert sweet fruit notes come out. Even sweet lime and kiwi notes that mix with everything else to give key lime pie impressions, to blueberry and blueberry pie styling. There is light and dark fruit, but all sugared and wrapped in pastry, or layered over a cheesecake base. There is probably more hiding in there from the feel of it, but I think I would have to shell out on a bottle to examine it to find the full range. Tempting, even though it is absurdly expensive.

The downsides? Well neat it shows little of its charm, and with too much water a very small touch of aniseed comes out, which is not to my liking. In general though, as long as you add water this is an utter luxury. In fact probably the best blended whisky I have ever tried. It is so very good.

Background: The final of the samples provided by Independent Spirit for me to do tasting notes on, and it is a doozie. Many thanks. A mix of two already blended whiskys, a blended grain, and a sherry cask Benrinnies. According to Compass Box, even they don’t know the exact nature of the blended components. It was fairly warm when I tries this, so I left the computer that I play my music on off, so this was contemplate in silence.

Isawa Blended Whiskey

Isawa: Blended Whiskey (Japanese Blended Whiskey: 40% ABV)

Visual: Pale grain gold.

Viscosity: Thick fast streaks.

Nose: Alcohol in thick jelly style. Some lime. Sulphur. Rice and grain. Toffee. Actually more alcohol style with water.

Body: Kind of empty. Toffee. Dry rice and rice crackers. Vanilla. Water adds, well a slight watery character. Still mainly toffee.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Rice crackers and boiled white rice. Dust balls. Grit. Muddy water. Light lime and chocolate. Water makes, well, pretty much the same.

Conclusion: You know how Japan has a very hard earned and well deserved reputation for high quality whisky? Well this is trying to shit all over that reputation then flush it down the toilet. It is possibly, simultaneous, the most empty and most unwelcome whisky I have ever encountered.

Let’s jump straight past the aroma and go onto that first sip. There is nearly nothing as it hits the tongue, now over time toffee will come out, but for now the best I can define an element is just kind of stale rice crackers. That is it.

Then, oh the, the finish hits. Dust, grit and muddy water. How can something so empty end this badly? There is still some toffee, but generally it is just rough and without any real intended or good flavours.

Now may be a good time to bring up something I encountered from googling. This is described as having a “unusual and intriguing flavour”. That is possible the closest we will find to truth in advertising for this thing – It is definitely unusual, and well I am intrigued how they made a whisky this bad. I have said many a time that there is nearly never such a thing as a bad whisky, even rough whiskies can be made better with water, and generally they have the hard to define “whisky” character that brings you to the game. Not here. I can imagine a bunch of advertising execs sitting, and their long withered conscience nagging at them. Even they can’t describe these in the usual flowery terms. It would be a lie too far

So, “unusual and intriguing flavour” it ended up then.

Incidentally I mentioned water above, no amount of water helps this. It just seems to same but more, well, like dirty water. Water just makes it taste like water.

So, erm, to be fair, what is the good side of this? Erm, toffee notes exist. Occasional lime notes come out. Ok, being fair done!

So, back to why this is shit. It feels rough. It feels empty. It, somehow, manages to make a finish that is only grit and dry rice last an insanely long and painful time.

I was sceptical when warned about this, but no, they were right, this is possibly the worst whisky that exists, it is at least the worst I have ever tried.

It is bad.

Seriously bad.

Background: This may be the whiskey I tweeted about earlier in the week. Maybe. This is the second of a set of whisky bottles given to me with about a double of spirit left in them for tasting note purposes, provided by Independent Spirit. Many thanks! Drunk while listening to Ritualz: CDR album, a weird electronic, haunting thing of which I am very fond. Chris of Independent spirit did warn me this was bad up front, I thought he was exaggerating… This is described as being made with a malted barley “close to” pearl barley in style, which from a quick google is a barley with all the bran removed. Not sure that sounds like a good idea.

House Of Commons 12 Year

House Of Commons: 12 Year (Scottish Blended Whisky: 12 year: 40% ABV)

Visual: Burnished gold.

Viscosity: Thin fast streaks.

Nose: Cinnamon and cinder toffee. Chalk dust. Oak. Water adds honey and a slight eggy sulphur note.

Body: Smooth. Toffee. Black liquorice. Dry rice. Slightly rough edged. Quite oaken. Cinnamon. Water adds more toffee and cinder toffee.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Steamed rice. Dry. Slight oak. Water adds cinnamon and cinder toffee. Treacle. Stir fry.

Conclusion: I had a measure of this on the night it was given to me, and it was a tad rough and seemed poor quality. However, over the years I have found that a bottle of whisky may take a few days of breathing after breaking a bottle open to settle. So, now, I take another measure for doing notes on.

So, still a tad rough edged. That fiery like note that I associate with cheaper blends is there, but generally the whisky seems to have settled down somewhat. It is basally a sweet toffee and cinnamon whisky. Not bad on the base, especially with the nice cinder toffee notes but still with a few off rough edges. A lot of the rough off notes are familiar to whisky veterans – dry rice, stir fry – not notes that are automatically bad, Nearly everything has a place somewhere, but generally not a good sign. Here? Not a good element.

It actually is a whisky that does better without water – the alcohol touch is stronger, but the sweetness is stronger too so the off notes are less evident.

It is not the worst whisky I have had, but it does show the cut corners quite obviously. There is a decent base, but with too much rough character for me to recommend.

Let us say it is a sub-optimal whisky.

Background: So, many thanks to Paul from work for this. He won it back in the mid 80s in a raffle, but he isn’t a whisky fan, so kept hold of it until now, when he gave to to me for doing notes on. Not much info on this from google – looks like it is discontinued these days, but according to the label is whisky bottled, shocking, for the house of commons – probably for sale as a gift shop style thing I would guess, but who knows maybe everyone in the house of commons in the 80s drank this. Would explain a lot of the shit that went on in the 80s. Anyway, put my music on random, poured a dram and saw how it went.

Lakes Distillery The One British Blended Whisky

Lakes Distillery: The One British Blended Whisky (English Blended Whisky: 40% ABV)

Visual: Light gold.

Viscosity: Fast medium streaks.

Nose: Vanilla. Honeycomb. Pencil shavings. Oak. Rock dust. Sulphur. Water adds a coal dust air.

Body: Smooth. Vanilla toffee. Apricot. Light. White chocolate. Waters adds caramel and passion fruit, and slight hints of alcohol at the back. More water brings out raspberry yogurt.

Finish: Liquorice. Vanilla toffee. Honey. Shredded wheat. Golden syrup. Solid yogurt chunks.

Conclusion: So, neat this kind of reminds me of Monkey Shoulder – smooth, vanilla toffee – a sweet whisky, though a bit lighter than Monkey Shoulder in mouthfeel I would say. As that it feels a bit like a whisky designed to use for a cocktail – it is far from unpleasant but there doesn’t feel to be any depth to it. Some of the nose hints at aiming for a small smoke character, but it doesn’t seem to really come out. Therefore it feels pretty generic, nice enough, but nothing you can’t get anywhere else.

Just a spoon or so of water does give it an interesting quirk though – first fruitiness comes out, but then a soft sweet raspberry yogurt note that fills out the previously over light centre. This way it is both pleasant and a bit different – finally the soft smoke hidden by the sweetness comes through a bit more as well.

Then I went and ruined everything. I added a few more drops of water and it just dies. I was left with a sub par sweet blend with overly sulphur and oak notes to it. So, a warning, take it easy with water – this has a very thin line between its greatest and weakest points.

So, overall – neat it is a good cocktail whisky I would guess and not much more – with just the right amount of water it is a gentle and pleasant whisky with nice balance of sweet, fruit and yogurt, but is easy to ruin. Ok then, but doesn’t really have a selling point that makes me want to say you should get it.

Background: I am not 100% sure on putting this under England – it is listed as being “British” and made with whisky from around the British Isles. So I am guessing probably at least some Scottish whisky in there. Still, Lakes Distillery is England based, even if they haven’t turned out any whisky themselves yet, so I’ll use that for now. Anyway, this sample was kindly given to me by Independent Spirit for doing notes on, many thanks! Drunk while listening to some Ritualz tunes – mainly CDR, always haunting and yet relaxing.

Chivas Regal Royal Salute 21 Year

Chivas Regal: Royal Salute: 21 Year (Scottish Blended Whisky: 21 Year: 40% ABV)

Visual: Copper touched gold.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Nutty. Moderate alcohol. Nutmeg. Stewed fruit. Slightly musty. Water drops the alcohol and adds menthol and oaken notes.

Body: Very smooth. Honey. Lime. Some nuttiness. Walnut cake. Water adds toffee and spicy notes. More water brings back prickly alcohol but also vanilla. Stewed apricot. Coffee cake. Apples and slight oily character.

Finish: Ginger. Very milky coffee. Dried spice. Water brings out apricot and stewed fruit. Malt chocolate. Lightly dusty and oaken.

Conclusion: Royal Salute was one of the early aged whiskies I tried, all those years ago. Even these days I find the standard 12 year Chiavs Regal a reasonable enough whisky in a pinch probably due to the base of Strathisla in it, which I am partial to a dram of.

So how does this live up to the memory of it? Mixed. There is a tad more alcohol noticeable than you would expect in a spirit this old – not burning, but just slightly like an alcohol jelly taste. It is also slightly musty and with water it is over oaken. All elements I would not expect for a whisky you are dropping best part of a hundred quid on.

The things is, besides that it does have a quite a mix of pleasant elements – that Strathisla nuttiness against coffee cake, stewed fruit and apples. It manages to mix the heavier and slightly oily highland notes with the light Speyside sweetness.

Also for a 40% abv whisky it really can cope with a lot of water, doing so does bring out a touch of odd alcohol notes, but in general significantly improves it. It makes much more coffee cake like, more robust yet , in general, smoother feeling. Here it is a solid coffee and nutty whisky, with most of the rough elements taken out. In fact, as the vanilla comes out it starts to remind me of Nanaimo bars from Vancouver – which is awesome. So, in general, it is good; plays well with water, but neat it has far more rough notes than you would expect at this price point.

So, it lives up to my memories in the high points, but is a tad rough at the edges.

Background: A bit of a call to the past today. I grabbed a bottle of this back in my early whisky days from a duty free. I had decided to try something a bit more expensive than my usual fare and this was it. A lot cheaper back in those days though. Anyway, I saw this miniature in Independent Spirit and decided to give it a try for old times sake. Though admittedly this way you mostly pay for the ceramic packaging. A bit excessive for a mini, no? Anyway, drunk while listening to even more Napalm Death.

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