Sunday, April 21, 2013

Talisker Storm

Talisker Storm 45.8%

Photo stolen from TWE

Nose: Typical Talisker. Peat and prickly pepper. Then some fruityness

Palate: Sweeter than the standard Talisker, but still a good impact of peat and more pepperness. There is also a hint of young stuff that has gone into this. It's a warming whisky, quite complex with a range of basic tastes lingering. Sweetness, pepper, peat, mint,

Finish : medium to long with the peat and pricklies dominating

Comment : If you like the 10 yo this is something for you. It's a good companion

Rating 85/100

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The state of whisky made in Denmark - part 9

Fary Lochan
Cask sample 51.3%
3yo quartercasks + 2 month sherryfinish

Fary Lochan Wash Still

Nose : Laidback sherrynotes, vanilladominated, hints of citrus and oranges, a faint spicyness

Palate : The nose is quite laidback, the palate surprises with more intensity. Creamy, oily and fullbodied. Quite surprising for such a young whisky. The giveaway is the tasting sensation on the front of your tongue, which is typical for younger whiskies. The palate follows the nose, a creamy vanillaed mouthfeel and I get more citrus notes, orange is the dominating citrusflavour. Delicious

Finish : short to medium, again on the front of your palate

Rating 88/100

Fary Lochan hasn't bottled any whisky yet!! This is a feelgood whisky and I just want to pour more.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The state of whisky made in Denmark - part 8

Braunstein e:2

First peated whisky bottled by Braunstein. This was sold as an empty bottle and a wooden box around the time the cask was filled and a certificate with the privilege of waiting 3 years for your whisky. The price was 2000 Dkr which is around 230£. You can still buy it for 5000 Dkr today!

Nose : Not much, faint sourness and a little peat. Cabbage - The more I dvelve into the nose the worse it gets

Palate: A little nuttyness. Not much peat. A light spirit, reminds me more of a solvent than whisky

Finish : a burn and more nuts

Well, the whisky is not as bad as the review reads

Rating 59/100

Comment : I don't think it's a good idea to predecide a cask to be bottled at a certain date when filled. Here is my suggestion on how to do things:

1. Fill cask

2. Monitor cask

3. Bottle when ready

But what do I know, I don't have a distillery

The state of whisky made in Denmark - part 7

Braunstein 13:1
46%, ex-oloroso matured 5yo

Nose : Plesant fruity. A mix of dried fruits and fresh berries

Palate: Very nice, not the most robust or fullbodied sherry whisky, it's a light style. A lot of fresh red berries. It's very fruity. Cinnamons, licorice

Finish : Fades away fast

Rating 83/100

The best Braunstein I have tasted. A very light spirit with a fragile body which is very well integrated into the Oloroso

Monday, April 15, 2013

The state of whisky made in Denmark - part 6

Nyborg Distillery cask sample, 3yo Laphroaig finish 69%
Distilled 2010, sample drawn 8 April 2013

Cask sample for presentation at the danish whiskyfair 2013

I assume this has been finished in a cask that previously held Laphroaig

Nose : Apples, small casks woodyness

Palate : quite woody and peaty and also a lot more full bodied than the pure ex-bourbon. As with the other 2 samples I have the sense of a young, drinkable and very appled whisky. Maybe Nyborg distillery is trying to target Iphone users ? Well, I got a Galaxy so I am harder to impress! The wood impact on this one (and the sherry finished) can't help making me think it has been finished on smaller casks. 
The peat, the apples and the wood is well integrated. Again a fine 3yo expression, and as with the sherry finish this is also something I could justify bottling
The third sample is again apples for me, young spirit but this time it is very well balanced out by the wood and the peat

Finish : long

Rating 78/100 

Ørbæk is a danish microbrewery that has distilled whisky (and other spirits) since 2009

This concludes Nyborg distillery (Ørbæk brewery). Different and promising spirits with two samples I enjoyed even if they were young in tasting, but all three a lot less than what you would expect for a 3 year old. The spirit has a character of apples to me which makes Nyborg distillate unusual

The state of whisky made in Denmark - part 5

Cask sample for presentation at the danish whiskyfair 2013

Nose: vanilla, just a hint of apples

Palate : This has got apples like the bourbon-cask I just tasted. I can't help thinking it has been pinpointed to my brain as I taste these two right after each other, because this is actually quite different. The texture and mouthfeel is different, this is a lot more fullbodied. I can't help think of cinnamoned apple-pies. In a nutshell this is apple, wood and cinnamon. A bit fierce, but not something you would be surprised from as its a 59% spirit. I quite like this. Looks like the distillery character of Nyborg is heavyweight apples

Finish : medium, with the prickly wood spices lingering, apples, young spirit and vanilla again in the end

Again a hard one to rate as the apple character makes this very different from what I usual drink. But I like this and if I had some young stuff I wanted to bottle to make my whisky available for the public this would be a good candidate.

rating 78/100

Ørbæk is a danish microbrewery that has distilled whisky (and other spirits) since 2009

One guest at the danish fair mentioned this at his favourite overall dram at the fair at a poll on the fairs facebooks page!

The state of whisky made in Denmark - part 4

Nyborg Distillery cask sample, 3yo ex-bourbon 59%
Cask 7, distilled 2010, sample drawn 8 April 2013

Cask sample for presentation at the danish whiskyfair 2013

Nose: Cider, apples, white wine

Palate : Weird stuff. Doesn't taste like whisky. Very appleish in character with some wood impact. Young in character. Hint of licorice. A little fierce, but it is 59%!

Finish : vodka with apple flavour

This is a bit different and I have a hard time rating this. It's young, fierce and applecider. But whisky ? It IS  different. Hardcore whiskyentusiasts will be puzzled by this. When you lift a glass of something labeled whisky you allready have some expectations. Not really unpleasant but it doesn't score high in my book. This will probably appeal more to someone normally drinking snaps, eau-de-vie or grappa, but what do I know ?

Rating  72/100

Ørbæk is a danish microbrewery that has distilled whisky (and other spirits) since around 2009

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The state of whisky made in Denmark - part 3

Stauning Peated 3yo 2nd Edition 55%
Distilled 2009, bottled 2013

Stauning says they bottles this in a dark bottle to protect the phenols from disintegrate from light. LIght and whisky for sure doesnt work together very well

Young nose, a bit of peat and vanilla. There is a little bit of youthfull sourness in the nose I don't really like

Not expecting much the palate is surprisingly good. The wood has spiced up this whisky very well with some prickly vanilla notes embedding the peat

The finish is long and in the end I pick up some more sour youthness

Again a young dram, but thats what they got. In my opinion on level with the young stuff bottled by Kilchoman

Rating 80/100

Comment a funny mix of very pleasing and somewhat displeasing

This concludes the Staunings. The rye ended up as my favourite, but the vanilla part of this peated dram is really delicious and when fullly matured this will be a top class whisky

Next up is three cask samples from Ørbæk (or Nyborg distillery as the also call themselves)

The state of whisky made in Denmark - part 2

Stauning Traditional 3yo Edition 2 55%
Distilled 2009, bottled 2013

This reminds me a lot of the rye. It's quite unusual that a distillery produced a similar rye and malt whisky. Or maybe it's unusual I find it so. 

Being a few years older than the ryes, this whisky still seems a lot more untamed. It is simoultanously both a bit rough and delicate malty spirit, with a very cereal note. Again I like I get a chance to taste the spirit and not something masked in some wood experiement. Both creamy and cereal and very oily. I would say this could be a very good whisky but it needs more years in a cask. 

Finish : nice creamy finish with a little vanilaed touch

Rating 77/100

Comment : Too young but still quite delicious. Very promising whisky

The state of whisky made in Denmark - part 1

I have a page (see link to the right) where I very short list the state of the danish distilleries

This is the start of a series of at least 9 reviews of whisky made in Denmark

At the recent danish fair, I had an hour to visit the various stands of the danish distilleries that has actually made whisky that's older than 3 years old. I am going to review a big range of whiskys. Not really a big fan of these very young whisky's that the craft distilleries release all over the world, but sometimes they hit gold. I don't expect it to be as good as the 12yo's you can get from the big guys, who have thousands of casks to play with. I do expect them to be a little bit selective to what they bottle, especially concerning the higher prices these small distilleries have to charge as it isn't mass production factories. I do expect a standard single malt 12yo from Scotland to reach around 80 on my rating scale. I don't expect these new distilleries to be able to do that yet, but anything lower than 75 I tghink really shouldn't have been bottled. 

First stand I visited was Stauning, a distillery from the west coast of Denmark. 

Mini version of the Stauning stills

I had a chat with master distiller Mogens Vesterby. A fun guy to chat with, he can't really wait for his whisky to get to 10 years. He explained a bit about the production. It's very local barley and rye they use and they malt it themselves. They also use local danish peat for the peated version. So far they have bottled a range of very young, about 1yo ryes. Later in this series I will get around their 3yo malt whisky releases

1. Stauning Young Rye 49.3%
Distilled 2010/2011, bottled October 2012. 

Nose : Young and new-makey. This isn't unpleasant and the nose is very clean without offnotes. The rye is kind of laidback behind the youthness

Palate: A very nice fresh young spirit. This is more balanced and smoother than the prior versions of young ryes I have tasted from Stauning. The rye flavour itself is a lot less subtle and laid back, when I compare to other high-rye ryes I have tasted from the other side of the atlantic. This whisky is a lot more cereal than you would normally expect from a rye whisky

Finish : Medium and cereal and in the end you sit back with the rye flavour

Comment: I think it's great that the spirit of the distillery hasn't been disguised behind a lot of wood managent as often seen from other distilleries releasing ultra young stuff. The whisky is well matured for the short period it has been on cask, and it's nice you taste the actual quality of the spirit itself

Rating 83/100

Next episode  ->  Stauning 3yo traditional 2nd edition

Tomatin 40yo

Tomatin 40yo 42.9%
Distilled 17 May 1967, bottled 2 September 2007

A vatting of 7 hogsheads

Nose: fresh tropical fruits, some candied sweetness. You know instantly you are nosing and old and delicate whisky. Faintest hint of peat, oriental spices, passion fruit mixed with pineapple

Palate : Spicy woods, delicate fruitness, feel-good old whisky

Finish : Medium and prickly

Rating 90/100

This is a very typical low strength old whisky. With the final strength being 42.9% I wonder what the lowest strength cask going into this were

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Three from Kintra

Three short reviews, thanks to my whiskybase friends for the samples!!

1. Kintra "Bottled from the 3rd confidental cask" 7yo 51.6%
Distilled September 2007, bottled October 2012 sherry butt

The nose is sweet, slightly fruity and honeyed and very fresh

Typical young vibrant sherry cask, which has been calmed slightly by a faint rubber sensation, that is so distant its more a virtual texture than a flavour

It is also slight newmakey. And the alcohol is quite dominant. A slightly sour and bitter aftertaste which is balanced a bit by a later incoming sweetness

I would have kept this in the cask for more years. But this might appeal to people who like their drams a little aggressive. It's not unpleasant but just seems to be bottled too early

Rating 79

2. Glen Keith Kintra 19yo 53.8%
Distilled October 1992, bottled July 2012 bourbon hogshead

Glen Keith is Strathisla's close and mothballed neighbour distillery and rumoured to reopen these days, if it hasn't allready happened. It has been mothballed since 2000.

Nose : Candy and marzipan, actually one of the most marzipanned whisky I have nosed, that I had to make up that word

The palate has some bitterness and the marzipan is still there. This must be the nutshell almond whisky

Vanilla, creme brulee, a little bit of winegum candy

It's a dram that benefits from a little time and rest in the glass. The bitterness dissapears and more gentle pleasureful flavours appears.The finish is particular nice and very pleasant

Rating 86

3. Glen Garioch Kintra 20yo 49.6%
Distilled July 1990, bottled May 2011 bourbon hogshead

I am very sulphur sensitive so the first I pick up is a vulcanic ash sulphurness. I often find this in Glen Gariochs. Spending a minute with the dram this dissapears (it just means my nose gotten used to it). 

The palate is not as aggressive and rough as I often find Glen Gariochs. Apple-ice tea as the flavour reverts to whisky. Vanilla woody spices rounds this off with a nice whisky

Rating 84

The Danish Whiskyfair

Next weekend is the danish whiskyfair

It's a massive 10 hour event in Fredericia

Here is a link to the tasting catalogue just published

The Danish Whisky Fair

Some pours will be free, but most will cost a price, all is listed in the above catalogue

A lot of the danish importers will be present as well as a lot of the new small distilleries: Trolden, Nyborg(Ørbæk), Braunstein and Stauning. There is Cafe/restaurants inside and there is also a few non whisky stands if you need a little break.

I will be helping pouring bourbons and a rye from Willet/KBD, which is a Kentucky independent bottler/distiller from Bardstown. Come and say hello. First time, as far as I know, that I see the Willet bottlings in Denmark and if it's anywhere near the bottlings I have tasted in US and Limburg we are in for a treat.

There are a lot of exciting stands. Here is what I think are the most exciting offers: Jack Wieber, Diageo has the new Talisker Storm. MACY has a big range of bourbons from Buffalo Trace. They also have some fantastic offerings from Tomatin and BenRiach

A huge list of independent bottlers will be present at various stands: Wilson & Morga, Douglas Laing, SMWS, Duncan Taylor, Scott's and AD Rattray.  The various stands will also have an extensive number of rums and there will be a few speciality beers present as well. I think the number of rums is closing in on the whiskies these days

Here is a few photos from last years fair. Don't get too scared :-)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Blue Ketchup effect - just another take on e150

After reading this blog post by Dave Worthington, about an e150 experiment he has caried out, I made a comment that was very long anddd I think it's worth it's own blog post in itself

The Blue Ketchup Effect

I did a homemade e150 experiment  a couple of years ago. Having around 8 friends over for some dramming I had homemade some colouring by melting some sugar in a pan (what a mess). I chopped some of this colouring and added it to a whisky that wasn't particular dark. I had divided the whisky in two parts, so I had some that was coloured and some that wasn't coloured. Then I handed around the two sample bottles, one clearly darker than the other and asked my guest to tell me their opinions about the whiskies. As always when you ask people about an opinion about a whisky the opinions will always differ somewhat, but in the group there was a big difference in the description from one sample to the other sample.


When I revealed that they actually had the same whisky, one was just homecoloured and the other wasn't, they were actual quite surprised. A few of the guys thought it was my colouring that had caused the taste difference, so they decided to carry out a REAL blind test. To their surprise they discovered, that when blindfolded, they couldn't really taste any difference between the two samples.

Now my experiemnt doesnt tell us that colouring doesnt affect the taste. This prank tasting was after a few drams and any slight differences wouldn't have been noticed. It DO tell us that we do taste a whisky with our eyes, or I would say with our expectations as well as with our nose and palate. When tasting the two very similar tasting whiskies (maybe totally similar tasting whiskies?) blindfolded they tasted the same. When not blinded they were perceived and described as tasting very different!

Similar experiments have been observed with ketchup. Test have been made with people being told their opinion about blue ketchup. Not many liked it. Well, the colouring was tasteless, and when tasted blind, noone could tell the difference between normal and blue ketchup. So just the look of ketchup that is blue you expect not to like it. And the colour is just so weird that few people like it, no matter the taste.

The problem with coloured whisky is that colour and taste doesnt match. This can confuse us as drinkers. It will put expectations in your head. It will mess up your brain.

Some coloured whiskies clearly suffer from the blue ketchup effect in my opinion. Something is just wrong when you drink them

I am also convinced that some people are more sensitive to e150 colouring than others and have very easy tasting the bitterness it apparently adds to whisky. Just like we all have different sensibilities to sulphur.The industry (The part that add e150 that is) claims that e150 has nom taste effect what so ever. But that is not the subject of this blog post

Spirit of Speyside

Since 2001 I have been visiting a whiskyfestival called Spirit of Speyside regularely. Not every year, but something like every 2nd year on average.

It scheduled every year around the first weekend in May, which is also a bank holiday weekend. The majority of events are friday to monday, but a few events are also scheduled both before and after, making this in reality a week long event if you wish.

The festival is made of of hundreds of events, where you pick and choose whatever you like. The most popular events are sold out more or less instantly when the events go online around January

Looks like the right place

All year round there are lots of distilleries in Speyside (and Scotland) that schedules tours, special tours, extra special tours and ultra extravagant special tours. These are still there at SoS with a LOT of extra added.  At the SoS weekend some distilleries not normally open to the public will have scheduled tours and some distilleries will have different and more special (better!) tours than normally available. The distilleries that open specially for the public this weekend tends to change a bit from year to year so there is always some reason to come back. It will take years to get around all the events you really want to go to

A lot of the events are centered around Dufftown and a lot of these are organised by the Whiskyshop Dufftown. Several tastings every day, often hosted by companies like Wemyss, Cadenhead, Duncan Taylor, Gordon and MacPhail, Adelphi and so on.

Bus trips will start from various points, most often Dufftown, taking smaller groups to special distillery visits and tastings all over Speyside and even slightly beyond.

Especially the later years the organising committee has also been listing a lot of possibilities of transport around Speyside which can make it easier for guests getting around. Speyside is a big area and this is something I really welcome and that has eased things a bit. A special thanks to Diageo for partly sponsoring buses and taxis, I really appreciate this

Some of my favourite events has been the day long bus trips centered around the three whisky towns Rothes, Elgin and Dufftown. These three events are very popular and usually among the first to sell out. These tours are Spirit of Speyside in essence in my opinion, and its nice to see the staff meeting up on a saturday to participate as happened at Glenlossie and Mannochmore in 2010

Sunny Dufftown in 2011. 

Gordon and MacPhail usually have a full schedule of various tastings in Elgin, there are various music events, dinners, quiz nights (they are fun), casual tastings, walks, canooing, wildlife trips, restaurents etc.. So many things do that for all kind of interests. Have a look at the official webiste here to get an idea:

If you want to go, you need to start planning something like a year in advance. Planning a trip to this festival can be a bit of a pain. You need to plan events carefully, it can be a jigsaw puzzle to match things. Things you want to go might sell out. Events come up you want to go to when you have allready booked something and getting accomodation can be hard. Experience is clearly an advantage when planning this. The last few years the organising committee have tried to make all events go public at the same set time, but a few good events always pop up later and if you allready booked something else you can't really go

Expect rain though

The events are not the bargains they used to be and some events I simply find too expensive these days, but expensive events will regulate themself, if people stop signing for them

I have particular enjoyed the Rothes distilleries tour in 2009, the 7 Stills of Dufftown distillery tour in 2011, the whiskyquiz at Strathisla in 2011, Benromach visit in 2009 with a vertical Benromach tasting, a Mortlach vertical with Gordon and MacPhail in 2009, a visit to Benriach in 2011, Glenfarclas tour and tasting in 2005, the tastings in Dufftown are always fun and the dreg party at the Whiskyshop Dufftown is a great way to end the festival

Fun in the Whiskyshop Dufftown

In 2013 I will be with a group of 8 whiskyentusiasts, 7 danes (THE DANISH DRINKING TEAM) and one american (poor guy), with a full packed schedule of 5 days that looks like a lot of fun. We will be visiting Tomintoul, Glenlivet, the Quiz at Glenlivet, Strathisla, Longmorn, Tamdhu, Glenglassaugh, Tomatin, Miltonduff, Highlander Inn and several tastings. 

Benriach 2011

Monday, April 1, 2013

China to start Bourbon Production

Today the CWA, Chinese Whisky Association press release publiced that China will start bourbon production summer 2013 around the city of Xingtai in the Hebei Province in north central China, which has a continental climate not unlike that of Kentucky, USA

So far 4 distilleries has been planned, 3 regular sized with a capacity well over 5 million LPA and one micro with a much smaller capacity.

The micro distillery will not be constructed near Xingtai but on Kentucky Island in Shangdon Province, thus making Kentucky Straight Bourbon made in China available for coinnoisseurs in the future

Kentucky Island, Shangdon Province

Corn production has doubled in China since the mid nineties and there is currently more corn harvested than rice

Corn regions of China

The newly appointed Chinese secretary of whisky, 威士忌書呆子, says to the Danish Ministry of Whisky :

"We are currently the second largest corn producer in the world, but with a projected production in the future to be the worlds number 1. It is natural for us to exploit every possible aspect of processing corn into food, not only for animals but also for people. This extends to the production of alcohol"

What about oak ?

"We will be using the oriental white oak, qeurcus aliena, but also imported american white oak from Missouri in the new "wood for shoes" and "wood for toys" trading programs. We will use the existing chinese cooperage Semi-Independent Staves Company just outside Xingtai"

What about the American Bourbon regulations that classifies Bourbon as a domestic american made product only ?

"Thats an american rule and its not valid in China"

The Danish Ministry of Whisky has also consulted a range of american bourbon experts:

M Kaplan: This is great news. I have actually been hired as advisory master blender for Jimbim (one of the 4 distilleries currently under construction). Expect a Marsala finished bourbon in 2016

T Borschel: I am moving to China

A Herz: I suspect the two bottles of chinese bourbon currently on sale at Bonhams might be fakes, but maybe the chinese has reverted the time machine I use to get dusties from the past to actual sell whisky from the future today!

Sku : I only drink cognac and armagnac these days so I can't really be bothered

C Cowdery: If it looks like bourbon, smells like bourbon and tastes like bourbon, then it is bourbon

PS China has chosen the spelling whisky, also for its bourbons.. The traditinal spelling of whiskey is unpronouncable for chinese and this spelling is not even used unanimously in America