Tag Archive: Whiskey


Jefferson’s Wood Experiment: 1 (USA Bourbon/Whiskey: 46% ABV)

(Standard whiskey barrel with #3 char)

Visual: Very dark reddened bronze.

Viscosity: Very fast sheet of streaks.

Nose: Thick and full of alcohol. Rye crackers and brown bread. Honey. Aniseed. Treacle. Light prunes.

Body: Honey. Charring. Slightly dry back. Rye crackers. Water makes more honeyed and smooth. Slight dried apricot. Slight sulphur.

Finish: Alcohol. Rye crackers. Honey. Slightly rough. Charring. More honeyed with water. Light mocha. Slight cloying sour cream note. Slight sulphur air.

Conclusion: This is – well – the most pedestrian of the 5 experiments I would say. It matches the more simple description of the process it went through – a more charred standard barrel – by being a very stripped down whiskey/bourbon compared to the complex language and layers of the others. A baseline I guess – the base experience that the other experiments build off.

Neat it is very much rye crackers touched with honey backing – pretty much the base bourbon concept but with none of the frills. At this point it is also a tad alcohol touched which doesn’t help it.

Water does help to a degree – it takes out some of the alcohol and lets the honey notes seeps over the harsher charring; It still has a bit of sulphur and other harsh notes – stuff that work with bigger whiskeys or bourbons, but feel off notes here.

It is … sub optimal shall we say – feels a very basic bourbon, with a few off notes. Not one I would recommend – especially considering the equivalent price you are paying for the set of the experiment bourbons as a whole. There is hints of some good stuff, and some mocha notes in the finish which are nice – but generally it feels very generic, with a few points letting it down.

To give it a more positive spin – this is the base, it lets you see how the other experiments develop in relation to it. As itself, it is not much, especially for the cost, It is only really useful as a benchmark to see how the other experiments differ.

Background: Kind of copy pasted with small alterations from my first experience with the wood experiments – This is a bit interesting – Bourbon legally has to be aged in now oak casks that can only be used once. Yep, somewhere an oak producer has their fingerprints on that piece of legislation I’m sure. Anyway, this takes 4 year old bourbon, and finishes it in different environments- Best I can tell from the description above this one is put in a standard barrel, just more charred – so is probably the most normal of the experiments. Anyway, I only have my hands on a small amount – Independent Spirit did a tasting on the set of 5, and let me have what was left over for doing notes on – Many thanks. This is the largest one, so I could spend a bit more time with it.

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Jefferson’s Wood Experiment: 11 (USA Bourbon/Whiskey: 46% ABV)

(Original Barrel: Inserts for used wine barrels. High mocha)

Visual: Bronzed gold.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Lightly milky coffee. Tiramisu. Some alcohol. Toffee. Salted lemons. Water adds menthol.

Body: Orange cream. Peppery. Peppermint. Some alcohol. Shredded wheat. Slight sour tang. Orange jelly sweets. Water adds honey and menthol.

Finish: Alcohol. Peppermint. Orange cream. Lime tang. Water adds menthol and mint. Slight milky coffee.

Conclusion: Ok, like the no 5 whiskey/bourbon I tried before this, this leans towards a more traditional bourbon but with one unusual element that comes out.

What you have here at the base is a sweeter, slightly orange cream touched bourbon – fairly normal, albeit with more alcohol feel than normal.

What comes out, especially with water, is a slightly peppermint to menthol character – a much fresher set of notes than usual. If you need a comparison I would say it comes in kind of similar to Johnnie Walker Green, to my hazy recollection of last time I tried that – however the menthol notes don’t seem to mesh quite as well to the bourbon style as they did to that blended whisky take.

It is odd that that peppermint style freshness is what stands out, as the aroma was quite coffee touched, which made me think that this was going to be similar to experiment 10 – while, admittedly the coffee does come out in the finish, for the most part the coffee really doesn’t seem to have much influence here. A pity.

It’s not terrible, but the twist and the main bourbon don’t mesh in a way that enhances either side. So, interesting, but one of the weaker experiments.

Background: Kind of copy pasted with small alterations from my first experience with the wood experiments – This is a bit interesting – Bourbon legally has to be aged in now oak casks that can only be used once. Yep, somewhere an oak producer has their fingerprints on that piece of legislation I’m sure. Anyway, this takes 4 year old bourbon, and finishes it in different environments- Best I can tell from the description above this one is put in a standard barrel, with wine barrel wood staves put in for extra oak influence, and charred for mocha styling. Again a practice that is not allowed for standard bourbon. Anyway, I only have my hands on a small amount – Independent Spirit did a tasting on the set of 5, and let me have what was left over for doing notes on – Many thanks. This is one of the larger ones, so I could spend a bit more time with it. Drunk while (still) listening to Scroobius Pip – No Commercial Breaks – yes, I did this one immediately after doing notes on experiment 5.

Jefferson’s Wood Experiment: 5 (USA Bourbon/Whiskey: 46% BV)

(Whiskey barrel 3: Standard whiskey barrel. #3 char with a cuvee cube tube.)

Visual: Deep bronzed to red.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Honey. Rye crackers and pepper. Caramel. Water adds more crackers and some brandy cream.

Body: Warming. Cherries. Oak. Honey. Vanilla. Slight alcohol dryness. Water makes much more cherries. Slight fudge. Aniseed.

Finish: Charring. Treacle. Dry. Oak. Slight menthol. Water adds cherries. Slight brandy cream. Peppery.

Conclusion: This is a more standard bourbon/Whiskey than the last two I tried, but still has a few twists in its tail. First impressions are a honeyed bourbon with charring, oak and similar peppery notes. Nothing bad but also nothing unusual.

A bit of time taken and the first oddity comes out – a slight cherry sweetness that isn’t something I see often in bourbon. It is nice, and gives a slight Irish Whiskey style call – especially the sherry aged examples of such. An easy going spirit meeting the more peppery spiced bourbon.

Water brings this side out much more – more sweet cherries matched with slight brandy cream – a quite rich experience and one I enjoyed very much. As time passes the more traditional bourbon notes rise again to take centre stage, with the sweeter elements pushed to the side.

So, overall it has a slight showing of a good twist to a fairly standard bourbon. Fairly solid quality in general. If it managed to balance the sweetness with the bourbon style over a longer time scale this would have been well worth recommending. As is, its a nice twist but not a must have.

Background: Kind of copy pasted with small alterations from my first experience with the wood experiments – This is a bit interesting – Bourbon legally has to be aged in now oak casks that can only be used once. Yep, somewhere an oak producer has their fingerprints on that piece of legislation I’m sure. Anyway, this takes 4 year old bourbon, and finishes it in different environments- Best I can tell from the description above this one is put in a standard barrel, with cuvee cube tube added for extra wood exposure, then given extra charring. Again a practice that is not allowed for standard bourbon. Anyway, I only have my hands on a small amount – Independent Spirit did a tasting on the set of 5, and let me have what was left over for doing notes on – Many thanks. This is one of the larger ones, so I could spend a bit more time with it. Drunk while listening to Scroobius Pip – No Commercial Breaks – still listening to the music Speech Development Records gave away for free digital download.

Jefferson’s Wood Experiment: 10 (USA Bourbon\Whiskey: 46% ABV)

(1 French/American hybrid wine barrel 225L. Traditional with #25 toast profile)

Visual: Deep bronzed colour.

Viscosity: Slow thick streaks.

Nose: Full. Treacle. Pencil shavings. White chocolate. Light wood smoke. Toasted teacakes. Water makes more toasted teacakes.

Body: Light front. Orange. Peppery. Slight alcohol weight. Tinned tropical fruit. Milky mocha coffee. Lightly nutty.

Finish Toasted teacakes. Milky coffee. Milky hot chocolate. Light nuts.

Conclusion: Even with the small amount I had of this, the split between two distinctly different sides was evident. So, yeah, take everything here as a small first impressions.

Up front in the aroma and on the first sip this seemed fairly booming, but not an unusual bourbon – peppery, slightly smokier than normal in a woody way, and as mentioned, quite booming. Sipping brought a familiarly bourbon orange note in kind of creamy style so, solidly big, but not unusual.

Then the finish comes around and this is where it changes to style two. Milky mocha coffee, gentle and soothing, comes out – plus it returns to some toasted teacake notes that were only hinted at in the aroma, but held off being full developed until the end.

This part is very nice, very easy going, very soothing while delivering well developed coffee flavour. Even better as my sample was coming to the end this part started backing up into the main body, indicating it was probably going to play a bigger part as the drink went on.

I can’t add much more to the notes than that as I added a drop of water to what was left and that returned it to the more standard bourbon that it seemed at the start. So, a mix of two tales, but that coffee part is lovely – hope it would have had more of that if I had spent longer with it.

Background: Kind of copy pasted with small alterations from my first experience with the wood experiments – This is a bit interesting – Bourbon legally has to be aged in now oak casks that can only be used once. Yep, somewhere an oak producer has their fingerprints on that piece of legislation I’m sure. Anyway, this takes 4 year old bourbon, and finishes it in different environments- Best I can tell from the description above this one is put in a barrel constructed from two smaller barrels, then given extra charring. Again a practice that is not allowed for standard bourbon. Anyway, I only have my hands on a small amount – Independent Spirit did a tasting on the set of 5, and let me have what was left over for doing notes on – Many thanks. This is one of the smaller ones, so I presume was one of their favourites – as of such its more a first impressions than a full tasting note. Hope that is ok with all of you – thought it was still worth sharing as it is a bit unusual. Drunk while listening to some Warrenpeace as he gave an album away free for digital download – pretty cool so far.

Jefferson’s Wood Experiment: No 4 (USA Bourbon Whiskey: 46% ABV)

(Experiment – Whiskey Barrel 3. Standard whiskey barrel #3 char with High Mocha Cube Tube)

Visual: Deep copper gold.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Honey. Sherry trifle. Sour mash. Vanilla.

Body: Sherry trifle. Treacle. Warming. A tiny drop of water adds fudge and sour mash style.

Finish: Treacle. Honey. Vanilla and white chocolate. Brandy cream. Sour mash. Tropical fruit. Slight sour grapes.

Conclusion: Just a short first impression for this one, but from what I have tried it looks to be a good one. While it keeps a sour mash feeling style that is one of the more well known bourbon styles it is a lot sweeter than most of those I have encountered. The base feels slight Jack Daniels like in the sour mash style, with lots of the oak influence, but everything else feels much closer to a sherry touched Irish whiskey to me. It has a very sherry trifle sweetness matched with white chocolate and vanilla you would expect from American oak.

Between the two it gives a very sweet dessert interpretation over a solid rustic feeling base. A mix of solid grounded weight and sweet high notes makes for what feels like like a very varied whiskey and bourbon mix of an experience.

After I finished it, the sweet air sunk into what felt like a remnant of brandy cream air hovering in my mouth, and then as that slipped away into charring and sour mash again before finally vanishing.

Ok, I think that’s all I can write about my brief encounter – first impressions – this one I could definitely spend more time with. Think it will have a lot of depth to dig out.

Background: This is a bit interesting – Bourbon legally has to be aged in now oak casks that can only be used once. Yep, somewhere an oak producer has their fingerprints on that piece of legislation I’m sure. Anyway, this takes 4 year old bourbon, and finishes it in different environments- Best I can tell from the description above this one is put in a standard barrel, but has had heavily charred American oak placed within it to make for quicker ageing. Again a practice that is not allowed for standard bourbon. Anyway, I only have my hands on a small amount – Independent Spirit did a tasting on the set of 5, and let me have what was left over for doing notes on – Many thanks. This is one of the smaller ones, so I presume was one of their favourites – as of such its more a first impressions than a full tasting note. Hope that is ok with all of you – thought it was still worth sharing as it is a bit unusual. Drunk while listening to Jonathan Young’s Disney rock covers playlist. Because of course.

Angel’s Envy (USA: Bourbon/ Whiskey: 43.3% ABV)

Visual: Quite deep gold.

Viscosity: Slow but thick streaks.

Nose: Minty. Peppery. Banana candy sweets. Rye crackers. Banana syrup. Spicy red wine. Light cherries. Vanilla. Topical fruit. Water adds pear drops.

Body: Big. Orange crème. Dry raisins. Madeira. Water adds banana and pear drops and light Blackpool rock.

Finish: Butterscotch. Peppery. Brown bread and rye crackers. Orange crème. Madeira. Dry raisins. Rum soaked fruitcake. Water adds pear drops and dried banana along with hints of malt chocolate.

Conclusion: Right – I really do like this one – it feels like a mix of traditional bourbon vanilla and rye characteristics matched with the unusual fruity raisins and dry spicy wine notes. At this point it feels like a sherry aged bourbon (Yes I know legally you can’t sherry barrel age bourbon, run with me on this one) – and like that I definitely enjoyed it.

However this is not just a good, but in fact an excellent whiskey and what makes it that is it feels like a whole host of traditional sweet shop notes have been mixed in with that – notes of pear drops on the light end, chewy banana sweets for thicker notes and a sparkle of Blackpool rock sweetness above that – lots of lighter and sweeter notes than adds a real easy going character into the bourbon style. It is a huge contrast but not in a way that creates any unpleasant dissonance of character.

This has so many subtle, interesting notes around the solid bourbon like base, and sherry aged whiskey highlights – and these are then subtly enhanced again by adding a drop of water. It calls to mind high quality bourbon, but playing with a range of complexity that normally it would not be allowed to handle.

An excellent whiskey/bourbon – one that I genuinely recommend you grab if you ever get the chance. It has been a few years between tries for me, and I hope it is not that long before I can try it again.

Background: OK, a quick explanation first on why I put both bourbon and whiskey up above. In most fashions this is a bourbon best I know, but, again as a far as I know, legally bourbon has to be aged entirely in fresh casks. This has been aged in port pipes for about 3-6 months after initial maturation, so I think it is technically not bourbon. Any which way – yep – an experimentation that I approve of. I first tried this years ago during the “Road Trip Of Awesome” in America, but did not do notes at the time. So, when I saw that it was in Independent Spirit’s “Mediocre Whisky Tasting” line-up I was a very happy bunny (Disclaimer – I am not actually a bunny). As before this was done in a more social environment, so my notes may be a tad more scattershot that normal – apologies.

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.

Whistlepig 10 Year

Whistlepig:Straight Rye Whisky: 10 Year ( Canadian Whiskey: 10 Year: 50% ABV)

Visual: Deep dark gold.

Viscosity: Thick fast streaks.

Nose: Shredded wheat. Vanilla. Honey and syrup. Perfumed orange. Spicy. Water adds light pepper notes.

Body: Warming. Orange. Rye crackers. Vanilla and honey. Water adds treacle and light liquorice. Malt drinks. More orange, brown bread and maybe light peach with more water.

Finish: Orange. Vanilla. Toffee. Water adds white pepper, brown bread and maybe light peach.

Conclusion: First up, this kindly given sample is about a half a normal measure, so please consider this more of a first impressions than a full tasting note, but I will still give it my best shot!

The most notable characteristic is the smoothness. Despite a 50% abv it is warming, but no more than that – and water soothes even that level of fire if you need it more easy going still.

Next up, and also easily distinct, is the base. It has that shredded wheat, rye crackers and brown bread kind of base that I would associate more with bourbon than whiskey – however it is not too harshly pushed. There is some spice from the rye, but again that is balanced. It also doesn’t push the sweetness too hard, it has honey notes, and familiar bourbon barrel aged vanilla, but very smooth. Generally smooth sums up the base well in all its implementation.

So, what it does push however, and what is probably the most interesting characteristic for this for me, is a soft creamy orange note. Very unexpected and tasty. It nestles amongst the rye notes nicely and adds a bright middle to it. There is also, and here again softly done, a mild fruitiness in other ways.

It feels like a whisky that has a lot of character but no need to push them too hard, it just lets them slip out slowly. It would be very interesting to see what comes out of this with more time for experimentation.

So, at the end of these first impressions, it looks good. Very easy to drink, soft, but well developed flavours. Uses the rye without being dominated by it. Definitely warrants full investigation.

Background: A very unusual one here, Independent Spirit gave me a small sample, about half measure, of this to try. Many thanks. They also provided a photo of the bottle as I did not have my camera with me, the sample I took in the cleaned out Masters of Malt jar photographed. The whiskey is distilled in Canada, aged for a while but then moved to the USA for further ageing. In interest of simplicity I have listed this as Canadian.

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.

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