Tag Archive: Whiskey


Buffalo Trace: Thomas H Handy Sazerac Rye (USA: Straight Rye Whiskey: 64.5% ABV)

Visual: Bright orange gold. Fast thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Very peppery and rye crackers touched. Stewed apple touches. Vanilla. Sour dough.

Body: Honey. Peppery. Rye spiciness. Quickly becomes tingling. Pumpkin and pumpkin spice. Oily. Water adds a strawberry touch. Slight grapes. Lots of oily charring. Orange cream touch.

Finish: Dried mango. Oily character. Smoke touch. Tobacco. Chewy. Pumpkin. Water adds tropical fruit.

Conclusion: Another very, very strong whiskey, but this handles the abv so much better than the George T Stagg before it. There is still the spice and the rye, even more so with this being a straight rye, but it manages to make room for more evident fruit notes to round it out. The mix of the spice and fruit manages to come together in a lovely synergy of pumpkin and pumpkin spice among the heavier charring and peppery notes.

Even though it does work as a whiskey neat, I will say a drop of water, and just a drop is needed, and really brings out the character. This big oily charring character comes out, with the oiliness really helping to balance the charred style, and under this thick heavy character you find more subtle notes poking their way through.

It is dark, oily, and while stealing the word dank from beer notes would be the wrong term, it calls a similar set of imagery to mind. The oiliness can however express itself as oily grape notes or even occasionally adding an oily strawberry character into the mix.

Later on an orange cream note comes out – while this is not part of the Van Winkle mash bill set it seems that orange character is still hard to avoid. Not that I am complaining. While this is very impressive, the abv of this still numbs things for me. I just don’t have a system that can handle this abv and still notice the subtleties that this may hold even with a drop or so of water to help break it up. However, even taking it as is, I’m feeling so many hints around the dark, spicy core that I feel that people who can handle the abv will appreciate more. If it wasn’t for the nature of the tasting, I would have experimented with water more but I wasn’t confident I could use the available water and not drown it.

Another utterly fascinating one, still not 100% for me as that abv is punishing but there is so much going on I very much enjoyed its massive weight of character despite that.

Background: One more time – So, it has been about a year and half since Independent Spirit did one of their whisky tastings. For some reason I can’t quite put my finger on right now, probably something small and unimportant. So they opened with this – a six USA whiskey, predominately bourbon, rare as hell set of a tasting. Joking aside, I was nervous about going, due to, well covid and not wanting to be a virus spreader, but it was held in the well ventilated, covered back area of Wolf Saloon, which had a decent amount of room as well, so I thought I would give it a go as part of my attempt to return to being social in this new world. Of the six whiskeys I had already done notes on two, and this was the sixth and final whisky of the evening. This, a straight rye, was the first non bourbon of the evening and with its huge abv the second that I had to add water to in order to manage to appreciated. Chris from Independent Spirit did give a lovely amount of info on the naming background of each whiskey, but I will admit due to alcohol I have forgot most of the fine details. Thomas H Handy was the creator of a famous rye cocktail in New Orleans called the Sazerac and this is named after him basically.

Buffalo Trace: George T Stagg (USA: Bourbon Whiskey: 65.2% ABV)

Visual: A darker bronzed gold, with more orange gold hints. Thin slow puckering comes from the spirit.

Nose: Heavy. Rye crackers. Wisp of smoke. Dry. Dry treacle. Touch. Chilli seed. Paprika. Burnt brown sugar.

Body: Thick, Oily. Gets fiery quickly. Strawberry touch. Very drying. Water adds a tiny touch more of the strawberry, Quite oily. Almost a hop oil feel but not flavour. Brown bread.

Finish: Oily. Charred touch. Spicy. Chilli seeds. Nutmeg. Mulled spice. Touch of greenery. A touch of water adds tannins and fatty notes.

Conclusion: Unsurprisingly for the abv, this is freaking massive. It has a fiery touch, which, again is not unexpected, but there is a lot more than that. When you sip it rapidly evaporates, drying and desiccating your mouth, and leaves behind a real chilli seed spicy tingling character that fires up that now sensitive tongue.

Neat it is so very harsh, with a treacle character that still comes across as very dry and spicy. So, for the first time in this tasting session’s notes I added water, and boy did it make it a lot more manageable. Now it has an oily thick feel that allows it to very mildly sooth your mouth to manage the heavy spice and burning, and so you can finally appreciate that wide spice expression more fully.

With this just a drop of water this still has really heavy, dark and charred notes, but no longer harshly so. It has as more neutral, savoury bready character at the base to work from, oiliness for the grip and the spice doing the main show. There is even an almost smoke touch, but not in a traditional peaty way, just an edge note from the spice. There are now even hints of softer notes at the edges, nothing I could quite get a grip on though. Possibly they would develop with more water, or if I had a better handle on the high abv but as it was they were just hints of more that may be there but I could not really describe.

It is formidable and challenging. In a way it feels like the Islay of bourbons. Not in direct flavour, peat or Island character but in that it has those challenging, heavy flavours that take time to get used to and are definitely an acquired taste.

More intriguing than enjoyable for me, but I can see the appeal for others.

Background: So, it has been about a year and half since Independent Spirit did one of their whisky tastings. For some reason I can’t quite put my finger on right now, probably something small and unimportant. So they opened with this – a six USA whiskey, predominately bourbon, rare as hell set of a tasting. Joking aside, I was nervous about going, due to, well covid and not wanting to be a virus spreader, but it was held in the well ventilated, covered back area of Wolf Saloon, which had a decent amount of room as well, so I thought I would give it a go as part of my attempt to return to being social in this new world. Of the six whiskeys I had already done notes on two, and this was the fifth whisky of the evening. While not a straight rye, this apparently has a moderate amount of rye to it, making it the first bourbon to have a different mash load of the evening – with the various Van Winkles and the Weller all starting from the same mash load out. While most of the bourbons I had neat as bourbon often doesn’t take water well, this was the first one where I had to add a drop as it was too massive for me neat. Chris from Independent Spirit did give a lovely amount of info on the naming background of each whiskey, but I will admit due to alcohol I have forgot most of the fine details. Basically George T Stagg was a big name, so the whiskey is named after him.

Buffalo Trace: Old Rip Van Winkle: 10 Year (USA: Bourbon Whiskey: 53.5% ABV)

Visual: Bright orange gold, in an almost lucozade style in the light. Fast thick steaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Touch of smoke. Lots of varied breakfast cereals. Shreddies. Maize cereals. Moderate rye crackers and peppery character. Brown bread. Crushed leaves. Brown sugar. Thick and slightly musty.

Body: Thick and warming. Oily. Vanilla. Dry oak. Treacle touch. Heavy. Buttery. Fudge. Brown bread. Orange cream.

Finish; Tannins and astringent. Peppery. Toffee and vanilla. Dry fudge. Buttery and slightly fatty.

Conclusion: This is heavy. Now the alcohol is doing a lot of the work in making it so, with a more dry character up front, but then allowing the fattier, oilier notes to come through after. There is a lot about the mouthfeel and texture that it doing the heavy lifting here to make seem very different to the other Van Winkles.

It is still slightly peppery, but initially it has none of those orange notes I usually associate with the Van Winkles. Instead, behind the fatty character is a mix of brown bread and lots of breakfast cereals into a sturdy toffee and fudge character. Still quite dry in how it is delivered, thick of body and very heavy.

Like this it is very much about the feel for me rather than the flavour. The oils, the thickness, the fatty character that is all what makes it interesting. The flavours are not unusual, but that feel really works what can be done with the abv.

Finally, late on after some time to air, the orange cream notes do finally make an appearance. It seems no amount of abv can fully hide this Van Winkle note for too long.

Not a favourite of mine, but a stand out for being different from the usual Van Winkle fare.

Background: So, writing this for the second time, it has been about a year and half since Independent Spirit did one of their whisky tastings. For some reason I can’t quite put my finger on right now, probably something small and unimportant. So they opened with this – a six USA whiskey, predominately bourbon, rare as hell set of a tasting. Joking aside, I was nervous about going, due to, well covid and not wanting to be a virus spreader, but it was held in the well ventilated, covered back area of Wolf Saloon, which had a decent amount of room as well, so I thought I would give it a go as part of my attempt to return to being social in this new world. Of the six whiskeys I had already done notes on two, and this was the third whisky of the evening and the only Van Winkle of the set I had not tried yet. Chris from Independent Spirit did give a lovely amount of info the background of each whiskey, but I will admit due to alcohol I have forgot most of the fine details. This is a wheated bourbon, and each of the Van Winkles use the same mash load. After trying this I had Pappy Van Winkle 15 again for the first time in years – this time I found a softness of mushy cooked apples and pear notes, and some tropical fruit I had not found before, making it a smoother thing than I remembered before.

Buffalo Trace: W L Weller Special Reserve (USA: Bourbon Whiskey: 45% ABV)

Visual: Very bright gold, almost lucozade bright. Very fast thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Peppery spice. Rye crackers. Orange sorbet. Honey. Cream. Light milk.

Body: Honey. Honey nut cornflakes. Wheaty thickness. Lightly peppery. Smooth, but with a grip. Toffee to toffee liqueur. Cream. Orange cream. Oily. Sap. Apple notes over time.

Finish: Slight sulphur. Honey nut cornflakes. Touch of smoke. Wheat flakes. Peppery. Vanilla. Charred oak. Toffee liqueur. Grapes. Menthol and sap mix.

Conclusion: The first impressions I got from this was of a lot of spice – mainly a mix of peppery character and a touch of rye crackers. Which is more what I would have expected from a rye heavy whisky than a wheated bourbon like this. It reminds me of the Van Winkle range (for a reason that turned out not to be a coincidence as I note in the background below), even having that slight orange note to it.

That spice I mentioned is there for the whole whiskey, but it is far from the whole story. It is smooth, yet with a slightly fluffy grip that in some ways reminds me of the soft grip you get from a weissebier. I would say it makes sense but I have not encountered this in any other wheated bourbon, so I think it is just a coincidence.

Flavour wise it has a soft toffee to toffee liqueur set of notes underneath, a gentle slightly milky feel and sweeter flavours under the spice front notes. The ahem wheaty feel and pepper character makes it never completely smooth, but the toffee cream touch to the core does make it a lot smoother than most of its similar contemporaries and calls to the impressions of a far smoother whiskey.

Now, as discussed in the background, it has a lot of reason for tasting kind of similar to the Van Winkles, especially in that orange touch, but it has a lot of differences apart from that smoother character. It has a slight menthol touch that makes it fresh, and lots of honey assisting the sweetness. While it starts spice and rye, the longer you take to sip it the smoother and smoother it will get, with more vanilla, honey and finally even apple coming out for a more soothing end to the dram.

It is basically a smoother, slightly more toffee take on the Van Winkle style, but that description doesn’t do it justice. There are touches from grapes, to that creamy note. I actually mildly prefer it to a good chunk of the Winkle range. It is not as forthright, but smoother and with that character of its own that makes it distinctive.

Background: I’m going to be copy pasting the bulk of this over the next few notes, so apologies if it becomes repetitive but a lot of the info will be the same – So, it has been about a year and half since Independent Spirit did one of their whisky tastings. For some reason I can’t quite put my finger on right now, probably something small and unimportant. So they opened with this – a six USA whiskey, predominately bourbon, rare as hell set of a tasting. Joking aside, I was nervous about going, due to, well covid and not wanting to be a virus spreader, but it was held in the well ventilated, covered back area of Wolf Saloon, which had a decent amount of room as well, so I thought I would give it a go as part of my attempt to return to being social in this new world. Of the six whiskeys I had already done notes on two, and this was the first and allegedly easiest to find whisky of the evening. Well I guess it is easier, just that does not mean easy. Chris from Independent Spirit did give a lovely amount of info the background of each whiskey, but I will admit due to alcohol I have forgot most of the fine details. This is a wheated bourbon, and uses the same mash load as the three Van Winkles that came after it. Apparently the main difference is that each barrel is sampled and select ones chosen for the Van Winkle range, the rest for this cheaper but still expensive on the aftermarket bottling.

Bushmills: Caribbean Rum Cask Finish (Irish Blended Whiskey: 40% ABV)

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

Nose: Noticeable alcohol. Spicy. Dark rum. Sugar cane. Strawberry. Rhubarb touch. Cake sponge. Water makes cleaner.

Body: Smooth. Light lemon cakes. Dry grain alcohol. Strawberry. Red raspberries. Toffee. Sweet, dark rum. Vanilla. Water makes smoother. Adds grapes. Soft lime. Cherries. Brown sugar.

Finish: Alcoholic jelly touch. Red fruit medley. Dry rum. Brown sugar. Treacle touch. Alcohol air in general. Water makes burnt brown sugar. More clear rum. Dry rice.

Conclusion: This is rum finished, rather than fully aged in a rum cask like the Travel Exclusive Steamship edition. This is a blended whisky with grain whiskey in it unlike that Single Malt Steamship, and the classic 12 Year Caribbean Rum finish travel exclusive Bushmills. It is a no age statement whisky, similar to the Steamship but unlike the 12 year.

So, with all that said, you would expect the Steamship Rum edition to be superior and probably closer to the classic 12 year right? Yet, somehow it is not. Which is a long way around saying that this blended rum cask finish is pretty cool.

So, let’s get the bad side out of the way first. I’m not sure how much grain whiskey was used in this, but the neutral, rough grain kind of spirit is evident here. Not a great look, especially in the finish where it hangs around. Water mutes that but also takes down the vibrancy of the whisky a bit. So, the choice, especially for the aroma, is slight grain alcohol tingle or a more muted character.

That said, this feels pretty joyous despite its flaws. There are light citrus notes that are familiar to the Bushmills spirit that are evident there – lemon and lime notes particularly make a show. Now these citrus notes are by far not the main show, this is very much about the rum finish, but it does show one of the reasons I prefer this over the fully rum aged version – it gives more room for the native Bushmills character to show alongside the unusual ageing and give more complexity and range to the whiskey.

The rum is very present but not overwhelmingly dominant, showing as a mix of red fruit, rum itself obviously, and burnt sugar. Lovely and vibrant, yet the base Bushmills character gives that fresh contrast and make it pretty smooth overall despite the grain rough edges.

So, to no surprise, the 12 year old single malt Caribbean rum finish that now only exists in my idealised memories of it, is better than this. However, this, nearly 20 years on, is still slightly cheaper than that was – and we have had a long time of whiskey getting more expensive in the mean time. It is a heck of a lot easier to get than that was and , oh yes, this still exists – unlike that one.

So, go in expecting the grain edges, a slight rice in the finish and accepting it won’t be a classic and you will find a fun rum finished Bushmills. One that will do as a stand in while I plead for them to pull their damn finger out and remake the proper 12 year single malt take again. It is far from perfect, but a decent price point for a fun dram, so it does the job for me.

Background: Ok, this one has some background indeed, as has been hinted at in the main notes. The travel exclusive 12 Year Caribbean Rum Cask Finish Bushmills Single Malt was one of my first real great whiskeys I tried. So, since that was only available for a short time, I have spent the years since trying to find something similar. So, when I found this, a blended no age statement Bushmills, with that cask finish, at Independent Spirit I had to grab it and give it a try. Since it was calling back to a more innocent age I went with The Eels: Beautiful Freak as music. Loved that album and hadn’t listened to it for a while.

Walsh Whisky: Writer’s Tears – Copper Pot (Irish Blended Whisky: 40% ABV)

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

Nose: Smooth. Honey and toffee. Honey nut cornflakes. Shreddies. White grapes. Butter on crumpets. Fresh cut apples. Water adds trail mix and dried apricot. More green fruit.

Body: Smooth. Honey to golden syrup. Moderate thickness. Only gets warming if held for a while. Bready late on. Apples to apple pie. Pear to pear drops. Malt chocolate. White chocolate. Water adds more white chocolate and some grain like rough edge.

Finish: Malt drinks. Honey on toast. Margarine on crumpets. Chocolate cake. Apple pie. Water adds slight rice and grain rough edges.

Conclusion: Ok, this may be just because it is what I was told, but I can 100% believe that this is Bushmills whiskey in here. In fact a very short and sweet description would be that this feels like a better take on the charred bourbon barrel travel exclusive Bushmills I had a while back.

It is smooth, but with a bit more grip that I expected in an Irish triple distilled whisky, especially at 40% abv. Also it is, to paraphrase a comment used to recommend it to me, much juicier in how the cask influence feels. The green fruit feels bigger, the sweetness as well, and just in general juicier that most of this style.

It has a mix of the juicier and more natural feeling fruit notes, and a more artificial, sweeter notes. Apple vs apple pie and pear vs pear drops being the most notable examples. It is an interesting and refreshing mix.

There is a lovely, sweet honey base, but also a bready and margarine savoury thickness which gives a mix of weight and easy drinking sweetness. Nothing too heavy, just a bit more weight than usual.

Now, there are some bad points – for one somehow water really doesn’t help here. It brings out the more grain edged, rougher, dry rice kind of character that was hidden when it was neat. Thankfully it isn’t a huge issue, as it is smooth enough neat – it doesn’t need water and that is lucky as water just makes it a little worse.

So, what we have so far is smooth, with nice thickness – lots of show from both the sweeter bourbon ageing, and the more fruity spirit character. It is a really solid set.

It may seem expensive for a blended Bushmills based whisky, but it compares well to the ten year in quality – and shows a very different aspect by concentrating on the bourbon ageing. It is better than the bourbon cask version aged before, doing that thing’s main point better than it ever managed.

Overall a lovely easy drinking dram.


Background: So, I have it on good authority that the whiskey for this is sourced from Bushmills, of which I am already a fan. This is a mix of single pot still and single malt whisky, both triple distilled as is common in Ireland, then aged in charred bourbon casks. Fairly simple, and what I was looking for as I wanted a nice easy drinking whisky. I will note that this was described as feeling like it had a “Juicier” cask than some other of the whiskies I was looking at, and that did seem to hit home when I did notes, so I will admit I may have been influenced by that. This was bought from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Noctule: Wretched Abyss, a Skyrim influenced black metal album from the lead singer of Svalbard. I’m a huge fan of Svalbard so was definitely going to check this out. It is heavy and awesome.

Maker’s Mark: Makers 46 (USA: Bourbon: 47% ABV)

Visual: Very deep reddened bronze colour. Fast and thick sheet of streak comes from the spirit.

Nose: Warm honey. Vanilla. Shredded wheat. Lightly peppery. Slight stewed apricot. Caramel. Water adds custard slice touch.

Body: Strawberry crème. Warm golden syrup. Vanilla toffee liqueur. Thick. Oaken underneath. Water makes smoother. Some alcohol jelly like touch. More vanilla. Cherry pocked biscuits. Liquorice touch.

Finish: Honey. Vanilla sheen. Toffee liqueur. Oak. Water gives a grape touch. Jelly. Shredded wheat.

Conclusion: This feels like Maker Mark’s bigger, smoother, more fulfilling brother. What I am saying is it is more bangable basically.

Neat it feels like warm honey and golden syrup drizzled over cereal. It still has that kind of rustic feel I associate with Maker’s Mark, but with the sweetness shoved way up. The extra alcohol strength , as well as upping the thickness of mouthfeel, also seems to have given it room for some odder notes to make themselves known. From strawberry notes, to cherry biscuits hints hanging around in the thick, heavy texture, there is a bit more variety – it doesn’t give release from the sweetness, but adds more depth to the thick, sweet character.

Neat is has a kind of weight that gives away that it has the higher alcohol content; Not a burn, just an unusual thickness. Water takes it into a smoother, more drinkable dram – closer to standard Maker’s Mark but still with more complexity.

Maker’s Mark has always been a go to bourbon for me for general drinking, and this, while still a touch one track minded, is more complex, more satisfying and more weighty without moving outside of the general drinking field. It feels like it pays off all the promise standard Maker’s Mark had.

It isn’t super complex but as a sipping bourbon this is excellent.

Background: Now the question I was asking myself was, why “46”? Especially as it is 47% abv, which was going to be my first guess. Well it is Maker’s Mark, but a version finished with oak staves. The fact that they were only used for finishing means that it still counts as bourbon – I think that for standard ageing they would not be allowed. Anyway I googled it, apparently this was a result of experiments with French toasted oak labelled “Stave Profile No. 46”. So they kept that as a name, because the marketing team was out at lunch or something I guess. Anyway – been a fan of Maker’s Mark for a while, since it got me through America when craft beer was hard to find – so tried this at The Star a while back and enjoyed it – they have a fair decent whisky selection at a decent price. This bottle was grabbed from Independent Spirit. Went with the new Ulver album for backing music – the wonderful sounds of “Flowers Of Evil”. Amazing as always.

Bulleit: 95 Rye (USA: Straight Rye Whiskey: 45% ABV)

Visual: Deep dark gold. Fast thick sheet of streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Rye crackers. Black pepper. Orange zest. Planed mahogany wood. Sulphur. Brown sugar. Water adds a honey touch. Apricot skin. Smoke. Peppermint touch.

Body: Thick. Leather. Rye crackers. Black pepper. Dry toffee. Water adds Chilli seed. More leather. Buttery. Vanilla. Soft lime.

Finish: Black pepper and rye crackers. Water makes leathery. Sulphur. Smoke. Dry fudge.

Conclusion: I’ve been sitting here for a while thinking about how best to describe this. Usually rye heavy whiskies are one I find fairly easy to sum on. This is just different enough from those for me to have to take a bit more time and thought on it.

Ok, despite what I said above it is noticeably rye heavy. Possibly even 95% rye heavy. Yes I know, ha fucking ha, ha. Anyway, you get lots of rye crackers, peppery spice and some sulphurous smoke – but there is more to it than that.

I think it is that this is slightly, only slightly, sweeter than your average rye. Gentle but dry toffee, slightly buttery thickness that leans almost savoury but with a sweet touch. All this makes it a slightly more gentle and open rye than most, but again only slightly.

I mean it is still leathery, giving a thick mouthfeel, with a slight chilli seed heat that gives pep – but it is not the one note spice bomb that often comes through with a rye. A drop of water really exposes the contrast, but it is even there neat.

It is … pleasant. Not a masterpiece but pleasant and comparatively easy to drink for a rye.

Spicy, but just eased up a bit for a sweeter rye. I can spend a chunk of time with this. Not a must have but very decent for the price.

Background: I heard about this one a while back, it was recommended as a good, easy to get hold of rye. Since it was available in supermarkets for a while I thought it would be super easy to pick up. My mistake, no-one here seems to have it. After months of searching I gave up and ordered it from The Whisky Exchange. Not much else to add, did these notes after returning from India – I put on At The Drive In: Relationship of Command while drinking. I’m sure At The Drive In also did other albums. Probably.

Bushmills: Steamship Collection Rum Cask (Ireland Single Malt Whiskey: 40% ABV)

Visual: Pale bronzed gold. Lots of slow, middling thickness streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Evident rum. Pencil shavings. Light sulphur. Oak. Water adds more pencil shavings. Strawberries.

Body: Vanilla and fudge. Noticeable alcohol. Spicy. Tinned tropical fruit. Thai spice. Cherries. Spicy red wine and bitter red wine. Strawberry. Water adds custard. Spicy rum. Liquorice touch.

Finish: Rum. Red cherries. Peppery. Tinned tropical fruit. Oak. Alcohol sheen. Treacle touch. Black licorice touch. Water adds more treacle. Fudge. Tannins.

Conclusion: Ok, first up, and to get this off my chest … This isn’t as good as the classic 12 Year Caribbean Rum Cask finished Bushmills that was a travel exclusive something like 15 years ago. That was one of my earliest favourite whiskeys so I have very strong opinions on this. Now, the fact that it was one of my early favourites may mean I am embellishing it in my mind. However a few elements of this new release, combined with the lack of age statement makes me think this is fairly young whisky. It has a slight rough alcohol edge neat, which is unusual for a quality Irish release, and so it definitely needs water to open it up. Considering this is over twice the price of that age statement declared 12 year release I feel it fair to be a tad irritated by this not living up to some very basic elements.

Now, while I am putting it through the screws it is still fairly decent, just overpriced for what it is. Anyway, let’s look at what flavour qualities it has. Well, it is quite spicy, and, as you may expect, it has a very evident rum character. It mixes that rum style with similar but different bitter and spicy red wine characteristics over time. There are some more gentle and sweeter vanilla and fudge notes, but generally the rum has free rein. Again, to go back to comparing to the 12 year rum finish, that was mainly aged in bourbon casks which gave it lots of time to smooth out and gain a good base to work from, which the well balanced use of rum added to, giving subtlety and complexity – while this feels much more one note and just slightly rough around the edges.

It may feel that I am being unfair comparing the two – but it does emphasise that, nice as this is, it feels like a real price gouge for lesser quality compared to what they used to turn out – even taking inflation and such into account. The original wasn’t that much more than a Bushmills 10, this is more expensive than Bushmills 16 is now.

Anyway it has moderate thickness but it is still reasonably easy to drink – though more weighty and harsher than most Irish whiskey. A lot of that weight is used to express the rum flavour, very spicy and well expressed but does overpower the more subtle sweetness and tinned tropical fruit notes.

Enjoyable, good rum character, but very overpriced for what it delivers. A pity that this didn’t use a bit of extra time to smooth and balance it into what it could have been.

Background: As I mentioned in my main notes, The 12 Year Caribbean Rum Finish Bushmills was one of my first favourite whiskeys. Thus when I heard about the steamship collection doing different aged Bushmills again, after years without, I was hoping for a rum release. Then when it was released, I spent ages searching for it in airports, but never finding this travel exclusive release. I finally found it at Master Of Malt when it finally got released from travel exclusivity. Woo. Master Of Malt have gone downhill a bit recently, but since they were the only place I could find it, that was where I grabbed it from. Rather than just finished in rum casks, this has been entirely aged in first fill Caribbean rum casks. Not much else to add, went with Miracle Of Sound – Level 10 for background music – his collection of his 2019 tunes Always good. Oh, and happy new year everyone – enjoy your drink!

Green Spot: Chateau Leoville Barton (Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey: 46% ABV)

Visual: Deep, rich, slightly reddened gold. Fast and thick streaks comes from the spirit.

Nose: Brandy cream. Toffee. Noticeable alcohol. Peppermint cream. Shortbread. Pencil shavings. Light sulphur. Water lightens giving gentle toffee and white grapes.

Body: Honey. Fudge. Red berries. Alcohol air. Brandy cream. Toffee. Slightly spicy. Water makes smoother. Slight sulphur. Sherry trifle. Spicy red wine. Green grapes. Cake sponge.

Finish: Red cherries. Fudge. Slight alcohol air. Warming spice. Water makes smoother. Sherry trifle. Spicy red wine.

Conclusion:This is a lovely dram. It takes the already impressive, easy drinking, Green Spot and polishes it up with extra notes from the time in Bordeaux wine casks to give it a depth that makes it the whiskey it always had the potential to be.

With the standard Green Spot I had wondered if a few points extra abv would help it out, or would hurt it. With this being a tidy 6% abv stronger we fine out that the answer is help. Definitely help. Now, oddly, I recommend adding a touch of water to open the whiskey up – but only a small amount so it is probably still above the 40%. Taken like this is has extra grip and flavour but loses the small but noticeable alcohol touch it has neat.

Anyway, as indicated, neat this is slightly – just slightly – alcohol touched. However there are nice red fruit notes and sweet fudge backing. It is slightly sulphurous which was unexpected. Probably something from the wine barrel finish, along with the slight spicy notes. Here it is good but not exceptional.

Water really opens it up, bringing more to both the sweetness and the red wine character, revealing depth in both while soothing the alcohol. Sweeter trifle notes meet spicier wine notes, and if you are light with the water touch it is still slightly thicker than standard Green Spot with cake sponge weight and that sulphur giving a slightly darker, heavier feel while not making this smooth whiskey harder to drink.

Not the super easy sipping Irish, but still easy going and now so rewarding and with room for a lot more play and examination. A very impressive whiskey that balances character with ease of drinking.

Very highly recommended.

Background: Soo, first and most relevant to these notes. Boris Johnson is a piece of shit. In so many ways. So very many ways. Anyway, super relevant. So, I generally enjoyed my experiences with Green Spot – but at the BrizDram meet up a few years ago I got to try one of the unusual barrel aged versions and it blew my mind. So when I got the chance to try this Bordeaux wine cask finished version at Independent Spirit I grabbed it. It comes with a little leaflet detailing the history of Chateau Leoville Barton Wine. Apparently it is super good. I have never tried it. If anyone wants to donate any to me for research purposes I will happily drink it. Before the wine cask finish this was aged in a mix of bourbon and sherry casks. Not sure of age statement – regular green spot is ten year according to some sources – or a mix of seven to ten according to others, and googling says this spent 18 months in the finish barrel – I presume on top of standard ageing. Soooo 8 years? 11 year? Ish? No idea. Anyway, went with The Eels: End Times for music while drinking. This was before finding out the election results so the appropriateness is completely coincidental.

%d bloggers like this: