Tag Archive: 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 (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.

Jack Daniels Single Barrel

Jack Daniels: Single Barrel (USA Tennessee Whiskey: 45% ABV)

Visual: Burnished red to bronze.

Viscosity: A few thick steaks but mainly slow and thin.

Nose: Smooth, but hints of alcohol. Rye crackers. Subtle orange liqueurs. Honey. With water becomes more caramel like.

Body: Very smooth but warming. Charcoal touch. Orange crème. Oak. White chocolate. Shreddies. Caramel. Liquorice. Water makes more smooth and enhances white chocolate, brings out coca dust and vanilla toffee.

Finish: Slick feel. Wholemeal flakes. Oatmeal biscuits. Orange crème. Slight alcohol at the back of the throat. Water adds milk chocolate and white chocolate mixed with cocoa dust.

Conclusion: It is interesting coming to this after Gentleman Jack. Like the gentleman it is smooth – very much so with even a little water. Unlike gentleman it never feels light. In fact the extra abv lets it define its characteristics so much better.

I’m not sure that the whisky is significantly more complex, or if it just seems so because each element is better defined. Either way it is definitely the top of the three easy to get hold of Jack Daniels products. It has been years since I tried one of the Master’s series, so I can’t do any real comparison to that.

The standard JD notes are there – oak, orange crème, toffee and charcoal. The extra abv doesn’t seem to increase the burn, it just seems to give more grip – so comes in caramel like and the better defined sweetness comes across as white chocolate alongside the expected vanilla.

It definitely is still identifiably JD, but feels much more satisfying. The more base notes such as the rye crackers style, are lessened; It becomes more like oatmeal biscuits drizzled in honey. Smoother. Still a good texture but sweeter. Warning – it is much sweeter, not sickly, but if you don’t like sweet bourbon (ok,ok ,Tennessee whiskey) this is not for you.

So, a genuinely solid JD. One that is not an all time great, but still one I can recommend.

Or at least this barrel is. I can’t speak for any other.

Background: This may be my most pointless set of notes ever. A single barrel bourbon/ Tennessee Whiskey, with no batch number listed. So it may be completely different from whatever you encounter if you buy the same product. Ah well. Anyway. Grabbed this from Independent Spirit to continue my rampage of trying miniatures. Drunk while listing to Radiohead: Ok Computer. An old album but a good ‘un.

Jack Daniels Gentleman Jack

Jack Daniels: Gentleman Jack (USA: Tennessee Whiskey: 40% ABV)

Visual: Deep bronzed colour.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Honey and a mix of rye crackers and shredded wheat. Thick but smooth. Water changes it very little.

Body: Very smooth. Vanilla. Warming alcohol. Wholemeal crackers. Slightly light at times. Fudge. Orange crème. Water lets existing notes booms but dims alcohol warmth.

Finish: Vanilla. Clean. Light rye crackers. Toffee. Feels oddly more viscous and with an oily sheen if you add water. Sulphur and smoke.

Conclusion: You know, for years people referred to bourbon as smooth, and as toffee and vanilla tasting, and I never got it. And yes I know this is “Tennessee Whiskey”, but it is close enough for this story to be relevant. Anyway… For me bourbon always seemed rough and kind of rustic. All those years back, this was the whiskey that is pretty much bourbon that helped the idea finally click with me

Basically this is very much like Jack Daniels but smoother. The alcohol kick is less, the harsh edges are less, and with that weight removed it becomes very easy to see toffee, vanilla and fudge notes come out plain as day. Once I had seen the notes here I suddenly could spot them all over the bourbon range. Those sweet notes are layered over a kind of crackers and smoke base.

Neat it still has a little alcohol warmth, but water smooths even that. It never loses the thickness of texture, it even seems to increase the oily character with water. What is odd is that despite the thick feel, the flavours can seem slightly light at times.

So, education aside, is it any good? Well it is smoother Jack Daniel – and as someone who grew up with that stuff it has a kind of retro kick going on. It’s not complex, but is very easy drinking. I have a soft spot for it for memory’s sake, and it is a good educational tool, but I will say it isn’t anything special as itself. Its main problem is that it can feel so smooth as to be a tad light, depsite the viscous mouthfeel – especially with water. It you like JD this is better than jack Daniels, otherwise it is ok but that are far better out there.

Still have a soft spot for it from my youth.

Background: So, the whole, is it bourbon? Is it Tennessee whisky? Argument. No idea. They call it whiskey so I will go with that. Screw it. Discussed this one for far too long over the years. Anyway, this is a bit of a retro kick again. Pretty much grew up in my mid teen years on JD. Anyway, grabbed a bottle of Gentleman Jack years ago and I remember quite enjoying it and it being very smooth. Then again, back then I thought Jack Daniels was the mutts nuts. I was stupid is what I am saying. I may still be stupid, nut now in different ways. Anyway, grabbed this from Independent Spirit to see how it holds up

Hyde 10 Year Rum Finish

Hibernia: Hyde: 10 Year Rum Finish (Irish Single Malt Whiskey:10 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Gold.

Viscosity: Very slow thin puckering.

Nose: Raisins, or rum and raisin ice cream. Alcohol air but creamy and floral.

Body: Smooth and creamy. Rum and raisin ice cream. Alcohol warmth. Vanilla and almonds. Toffee. Water smoothes and makes even creamier. orange crème and chocolate.

Finish: Raisins. Ice cream. Light oak. Currants. Creamy. Water adds strawberry crème and Belgian chocolate. Oatmeal in milk.

Conclusion: What I have always like about Irish whiskey is the smoothness, however sometimes it can become too light for me, but I have found a big oak ageing can result in the best of both worlds. For example Teeling small batch matches lovely with the rum ageing. This takes that idea but puts in a more viscous character that a single malt can bring to really fill out both the creaminess and the raisins characters, adding to that smooth base.

The result is basically a rum and raisin ice cream whisky and it is delicious – so very easy to drink, but it doesn’t need any time to build up the flavour – you can grasp it almost immediately with the big but smooth flavours coming through.

Water doesn’t really alter the character, just lets you shift the intensity until you find a point where you are happy. I didn’t go overboard, but I did add a reasonable chunk of water and this still had a good grip and texture. The only real change was this kind of milky oatmeal mouthfeel that came out.

For flaws? Well, while this has a wonderful theme and keeps to it well, it does not change much – playing the same sweet toffee and vanilla base, with rum and raisin ice cream as the main deal the entire way through. You don’t really need to examine it too deeply.

Still, it is very easy drinking, and with the consistent character it would do well for a sharing session with friends. Well worth taking some time to kick back with and very enjoyable.

Background: Bias warning – This sample was provided to me free for tasting noting as part of a promotion the distillers were running on twitter. As always I will attempt to be unbiased. Based on Teeling Small Batch, Irish Whiskey seems to work well with rum finish, so I was looking forwards to trying this. Drunk while listing to some Fear Factory- I had seen them live recently so they were still in my head.

Teeling Single Malt

Teeling: Single Malt (Irish Single Malt Whiskey: 46% ABV)

Visual: Very pale gold.

Viscosity: Very slow thin streaks.

Nose: Grain fields and alcohol. Heather. Smoke and granite. Water adds peaches and cream.

Body: Smooth. Vanilla. White chocolate. Oak. Slight metallic notes. Slight granite. Lime. Toffee. Water unlocks peach sweets and cream. Warming.

Finish: Light wood. Toffee. Water adds peaches.

Conclusion: Another whiskey that benefits from adding just enough water. Though this one is more finicky than most about where the sweet spot is. Too much or too little and this is a fairly modest grain field, grit and alcohol whiskey. Not bad but nothing to really write home about. With just enough water you get the most unusual elements – soft peaches both natural and hard sweet styled. That was unexpected and wonderfully long lasting in the finish. I could take my time and just let it float in my mouth.

Now it could be because I added more water too soon and it returned to the lesser experience, but while nice it did seem a touch one note. Again I will remind people I was working on a small sample here if you think I have given it a hard ride. However I did enjoy it like this – the rest of the whiskey character is pretty much what you would expect so I cannot rate it too highly, but there is something so very nice about soft peaches slipping down with a whiskey air.

So, I can’t say seek it out, but if you do find it in your hand, treat it with care – add water drop by drop until you find that sweet spot of peaches, then add no more lest it be ruined. In my humble opinion of course. Your mileage may vary.

So, it is ok – I can’t see why it is quite so late in the calendar as it is a bit simple for a lot of the time. I’d say stick with the excellent small batch from Teeling instead.

Background: Ok, second to last time “Ok, bias warning first: This is a part of the Masters Of Malt Whisky Calendar given to The Bath Whisky and Rum Club, part of Independent Spirit, who invited me to assist with the notes in return for uploading them to alcohol and aphorisms. Sounded a very fair deal to me. Also, due to this we each only had half of the 3cl bottle so thoughts are based on a smaller exploration than usual. On the other hand I could not say no to the chance to try so many new whiskies. Many thanks!” Looking online this apparently has quite a mix of whiskey. Up to 23 year old spirit, added in a whole mix of oak. Teeling already made a very good impression on me with their small batch, so this promised to be a good one. Note. I made a special note on this to make sure I spelt it “Whiskey” not “Whisky” if I missed any – many apologies.

Tullamore DEW 12 Year Special Reserve

Tullamore D.E.W. : 12 Year Special Reserve (Irish Blended Whiskey: 12 Year: 40% ABV)

Visual: Clear light gold.

Viscosity: Mix of slow and fast medium thickness streaks.

Nose: Grain fields. Clean and soft. White bread. Floral. Very mild gingerbread.

Body: Smooth – no burn at all. Lime. Oak. Muted liquorice if held. Lemon. Brown bread. Light orange. Water makes more fruity and open.

Finish: Lightly oaken and clean alcohol. Lime cordial. Orange crème. Waters adds lime and cream.

Conclusion: This is a very light and very clean whisky – very pure, very easy to pour down the neck. No burn and an effortless character to it. Or, as I call it, a whisky very specifically designed to be aimed at people who are not me.

I mean, I am not saying it is a bad whiskey – by far the opposite. It does what it sets out to do very well – delicious light citrus notes in a sprit so light that the flavours seem to float on your tongue in its absence. But that is its advantage for some, and the issue for me – there is no weight to it, and without that it cannot move me.

Now I can see why a lot of people who don’t traditionally like whiskey would like this – it keeps the flavour but removes a lot of the harsh edges that can put people off. With it being so light I was a little nervous about adding water, what if it vanished completely?

Water actually helped, the lemon notes became more full – almost like lemon curd rather than being so light as to be lost – somehow water managed to make it bigger but not harsher. There I will give it its due, here there is just enough weight to the citrus building up that it becomes what would be on the lighter end of what I consider an easy sipping whiskey. Now it is not going to become a favourite for me, but that is just because my tastes don’t go that way.

So I tried adding a tad more water. It killed it dead. Ooops.

So, a whiskey for these who normally don’t like whiskey, or for those who prefer the gentle end of the spectrum, and if taken with water, one for a gentle break for the rest of us.

Background: Yes, it is from the Master’s Of Malt Whisky Calendar again. So, bias warning time again! “Ok, bias warning first: This is a part of the Masters Of Malt Whisky Calendar given to The Bath Whisky and Rum Club, part of Independent Spirit, who invited me to assist with the notes in return for uploading them to alcohol and aphorisms. Sounded a very fair deal to me. Also, due to this we each only had half of the 3cl bottle so thoughts are based on a smaller exploration than usual. On the other hand I could not say no to the chance to try so many new whiskies. Many thanks!” this time however it is Irish Whiskey – so a bit different. Triple distilled, Irish Whiskey tends to be smoother than its Scottish cousins. This was drunk while listening to a few OCRemix tracks, including this remix of the classic Dynamite Headdy tracks. That game was cool.

Teeling Whiskey

Teeling: Small Batch Whisky (Irish Blended Whiskey: 46% ABV)

Visual: Light gold.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Raisins. Some alcohol burn. Pencil shavings. Water soothes and adds floral notes.

Body: Smooth. Pears and custard cream centres. Raisins. Dried spice. Noticeable alcohol. Plums. Oak. Glacier cherries. Water soothes and makes sweeter. Toffee. Apple comes out against darker fruit. Marzipan or maybe almonds.

Finish: Malt chocolate. Dried spice. Oak. Malt loaf. Again water soothes to add toffee and apples.

Conclusion: Thanks to the guys at Independent Spirit for introducing me to this little gem. Then again, considering they got money out of me afterwards, it probably wasn’t born of a hundred percent altruism. But still many thanks.

Now, taken neat this thing is a bit fiery, it has lots of raisins and dark fruit, and a bit of spice, but it is a bit of an effort to get to them. Nice but you struggle against the initial burn. The flavours don’t feel too heavy, but there is still a certain weight to the whisky.

Now, with water, now that is another story. With water the smoother Irish whiskey character comes into play. There’s very easy sipping toffee and custard, but bringing that out has not diminished that raisins and dark fruit character before; It still hangs on, as does the warming spice, now warming you with that character rather than alcohol burn. A satisfying improvement. You quickly realise it is a whiskey that really needs that water, but with it, it carefully straddles the line between flavour and ease of drinking. Now at a bit stronger than normal abv, it goes down way too easy with water, but always gives you a flavour experience that is worth it.

Some easy drinking whiskeys can seem slightly dull, or light, but that is not an issue here. The rum cask ageing is just what was needed, accentuating the character with dark fruit notes, but not to the degree it overwhelms. It reminds me of my now vague memories of Caribbean rum cask aged Bushmills which has not existed for many a year. In the absence of that, this makes a nice replacement.

Even neat it should not be written off, it is harsher, but has a worthy character. Harsh edged, but the flavours are slightly better defined. Quality, if harder to interrogate.

So, yes, it does suffer from grain fire, but that is easily remedied with water. It has rough edges, but I have always had a soft spot for that. At its price point this is a remarkably high quality whisky, and a distinctive mix of characteristics. For the price it is a steal

Background: This is an interesting one, lets see how much I can remember, and hopefully get right, from what I was told. Teeling came from one of the founders of a big Irish whisky company, who, on leaving, managed to take get a large selection of casks of Irish whisky. This is made from those casks, blended together, then finished in rum casks. If you are doing a thesis on this don’t quote me on that, I’m going by memory. Whisky addled memory. Anyway, I was given a sample of this at Independent Spirit, and highly enjoyed it, so I bought a bottle, and I am now reviewing it. This was drunk while Listening to Ihsahn – After, to take a short break from my recent riot girl punk kick.

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