Teeling 21 Year Old Silver Reserve Saturenne Finish

Teeling 21 yo

Score: 89/100

Origin: Ireland

Type: Single malt

ABV: 46%

Price: £123.95

Once upon a time Ireland was the world’s leading producer of whiskey (which the Irish spell with an “e”). Then hard times hit. England closed its doors to Irish whiskey after the Irish won their independence in the Irish War of Independence which lasted from 1919 to 1921. The United States era of Prohibition from 1920 to 1933 meant that even Americans could no longer legally buy Irish whiskey, and so within the space of about a decade Irish whiskey lost its two most important export markets. The Scots were also nipping at the heels of many Irish distilleries by making whisky that many around the globe found quite palatable – the more approachable blended whisky, made from softer grain whisky using the Coffey still. This still allowed a whisky maker to produce lots of whisky very quickly, but it was an invention shunned by the Irish who preferred to stick with pot stills to make whisky. Brands such as Johnnie Walker soon dominated the globe, and soon after Prohibition ended and the Americans were allowed to drink again (assuming, of course, the law abiding masses abstained to begin with!) Scotland was the world’s leading source of whisky that could meet the demand of the newly awakened American market. That whisky even became known as “Scotch”. Even James Bond developed a fondness for it, and Irish whiskey was very much in the shadows of Scotch. Until now. Brands of Irish whiskey such as Jamesons and Bushmills have however gained considerable global market share in what appears to be a rebirth of Irish whiskey appreciation, and this whiskey renaissance also brings to light of some the lesser known distilleries that ply their trade on the Emerald Isle. Once such distillery is Teeling.

Teeling produce a number of expressions, but in this post Malt Mileage reviews the Teeling 21 year old. This particular whiskey was matured in bourbon barrels and then finished in Saturenne barrels for 12 months.

On the nose mild perfumed soap combines with apricot jam, butter menthol cough drops, caramel, honey, oregano and rosemary herb bread, anise seed and sweet ethanol often found in a cleanly distilled white rum. There is an underlying woodiness about this whisky, which sits beneath the sugars and occasionally prickles the nostrils with the smell of newly varnished furniture and the whiff of warm leather infused with incense, as lemon scented soap and floral notes develop with intensifying buttery notes and candied peaches. On the palate this whiskey is initially sweet and fruity as it rests on the tongue, releasing toffee apple and cooked apricot as it swirls around the palate. The wood then snaps at the taste buds as the whisky is swallowed, and the sugars are suddenly lost to a wave of drying wood and bitter floral notes – similar to potpourri – and green olives with lemon and shades of honey. The finish offers lingering hints of honey with yellow peach and notes of brine with olive pips and dried petals.

Overall, Teeling 21 year old is an elegant Irish whiskey that offers undertones of sweetness that do their best to reign in the woody twang that rages at mid-palate but it turns out that the oak is simply too big and bold to be tamed – strangely, that is precisely what seems to make this whiskey work so well. Teeling 21 year old is an interesting whiskey that I found enjoyable, but it did not leave me yearning for more. Be warned, there was a distinctive woody/bitter floral note that some may find odd and others may either love, hate or feel indifferent towards. It is best to try this one at a bar before buying a bottle.

Try this whiskey with some mild blue cheese or soft goats cheese, perhaps even a plate of mussels cooked in white wine.

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Perdomo Double Aged 12 year Connecticut (Nicaragua)

Name: Perdomo Double Aged 12 year Connecticut
Score: 79/100
Origin: Nicaragua
Cigar details: This cigar is made from tobacco that has been aged for 12 years, first bale aged for 10 years and then in white oak bourbon barrels for a further two years.
Draw: Excellent
Burn: Excellent, though it did burn quite evenly and it needed some touching up.
Construction: Excellent
Consistency: Excellent
Flavours: Very smooth, soft notes of vanilla and coffee soaked brown sugar underpin a mild dark chocolate infused tobacco smoke that fades into a woody finish that showcases the Connecticut wrapper. Bourbon flavours have certainly infused into the cigar. The flavours of wood are prominent, but they are softened by mild hues of caramel and the faint flicker of brown sugar as the sweet flavours of the Jalapa tobacco counterbalances the richer heavier tobaccos (such as from Esteli). With each draw the wood notes in the cigar evolve, from woody splinters into more nuanced and delicate wood spices as buttered burnt toast lingers on the finish, accompanying the woody notes. Half way through, and the strength of the tobacco smoke intensifies with more pronounced burnt hay/bonfire and soft notes of bitter dried herbs. A harshness then develops, which is too much for the sweet components of the cigar to counteract – that bonfire note remains on the palate, producing a mismatch with and almost spoiling the enjoyment of paired spirits. The first half of this cigar was sublime but unfortunately after the half-way point it became harsh and unenjoyable, ruined in my view by the taste of burning paper/bonfire. What a monumental change of enjoyment I experienced smoking this cigar, at first I could not get enough of it but after two thirds I had no desire to continue smoking it.
Format: Robusto
Match with:

The first half of this cigar was divine with some spirits, while the second half went off the rails and did not produce the same caliber of carefully balanced smoke that made it worthy of a pairing with a fine spirit. This will sound cliché, but the first half of this cigar paired beautifully with a bourbon – Eagle Rare 17 year old was my bourbon of choice with this cigar, a combination which released a lovely buttery note with seeded raisins and sweetened coffee. It also pairs nicely with whiskies that showcase delicately cultivated oak notes from careful aging, and I found it was delicious with Glenlivet 18 year old and Glen Grant 16 year old. A number of rums also brought a welcome shimmer of sweetness to the party, but the oak notes underlying them really brought to life the cigar’s wood infused heart – try it with Pusser’s 15 year old or Havana Club 7 year old.

 

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Macanudo Estate Reserve Robusto (Dominican Republic)

Name: Macanudo Estate Reserve
Batch: 0290/1800 – 2014
Score: 93/100
Origin: Dominican Republic
Cigar details: This cigar is handmade from Jamaican binder and filler tobacco and wrapped with a US Connecticut shade wrapper. The tobacco has been aged for at least 8-10 years.
Draw: Flawless
Burn: Flawless, with an even burn that did not extinguish even when the cigar was left alone.
Construction: Excellent
Consistency: Excellent
Flavours: This is an ultra-smooth cigar that errs to the milder side of a medium strength smoke. It can easily underwhelm an experienced smoker, but its subtle flavours are sublime for those who enjoy an elegant cigar with lots of nuances and complexity – find a foundation of cocoa, cappuccino, ground coffee, crushed nuts, vanilla and soft cream beneath the silken cedar infused tobacco smoke as it prickles the palate with hints of pepper.
Format: Robusto
Match with:

This is a very smooth cigar that can easily be dominated by some whiskies and spirits. The last thing you want with a cigar of this age and style is to lose its flavours to a tsunami of malt and oak. Try it with Glenmorangie Companta, Appleton Estate 21 year old rum, Glen Grant 10 year old or any Chivas Regal. This cigar also matches nicely with a mild espresso (try a Honduran single origin) or an iced coffee.

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The Ugly Side of Australian Whisky

When a single cask expression of Sullivan’s Cove French Oak (barrel no. HH0525) won the award for world’s best single malt at the World Whiskies Awards 2014 it was a wonderful time for Australian whisky. The atmosphere was electric, charged by the realisation that Australian whisky had come of age. It did not take long for the Sullivan’s Cove French oak to disappear from bottle shop shelves, and for bottles of them to appear on online auction websites – one bottle of HH0525 even sold for $1,150 through Lawsons. People who had Sullivan’s Cove French Oak from other barrels also tried their luck, doing their darndest to pass off whatever barrel number they happened to have as “the world’s best” or tasting the same as the “world’s best”. Now, even Sullivan’s Cove seems to be getting in on the action as they try to pass off ALL their whisky as the world’s best.

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It needs to be remembered that a single cask expression of Sullivan’s Cove’s French Oak recently won world’s best single malt at the World Whisky Awards – barrel no. HH0525.  The truth is that whisky does vary between casks, because the wood making up each cask is different and even the distillation runs, fermentations and micro climate within a distillery may fluctuate. Just look at Jim Murray’s varied scoring of Sullivan’s Cove from different casks. This means that the Sullivan’s Cove whisky that won the world’s best single malt at the World Whiskies Awards is from ONE CASK, and it is likely to be different to whisky drawn from other casks. Unless the Sullivan’s Cove whisky is from the same cask as the whisky that won the award, it appears to me that the Sullivan’s Cove marketing spin (captured, left of screen) is designed to mislead and deceive consumers in my opinion – it looks like shameless profiteering, telling half truths to make a product more desirable. In the screenshot left of screen, on my reading Sullivan’s Cove even try to pass off their ex-bourbon matured whisky as the world’s best, when in fact it was the French Oak that won the award. This is the ugly side of Australian whisky. I can see how a consumer would be misled by the representations made, because it seems that people unaware of the way different casks produce different whisky might just think they’re buying “the world’s best whisky”.  Buying this product, the sales pitch goes, can make the dream of owning the world’s best whisky a reality but what is not mentioned is that the whisky that won the World Whiskies Award was from just one barrel and that the dream – unless you find HH0525 – won’t ever be a reality. It begs the question: why did Sullivan’s Cove even bother mentioning that consumers can own a barrel of the world’s best whisky if the whisky that won the title is most likely all sold out? I think you can figure that one out for yourself.

It seems that shameless profiteering in response to the World Whiskies Awards may have cast a dark cloud over Australian whisky. I hope that dark cloud clears very soon, and there weren’t too many people who handed over their hard earned cash for the “world’s best whisky”.

So, what do you think? Would you have been misled by Sullivan’s Cove?

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Tamdhu 10 year old

Tamdhu  10 year oldScore: 91/100 (neat), 94/100 (matched with dark chocolate)

Reaction: :) (neat), :D (matched)

ABV: 40%

Origin: Speyside, Scotland

Match with: 70% cocoa dark chocolate, which I found to have the ideal ratio of cocoa to really bring out the sherry wood influence in the whisky.

Tamdhu was established in 1897 and it produced whisky for about 113 years, and then it ceased production and fell silent. Ian Macleod distillers then acquired the distillery and picked up the baton in 2012, and it has decided to re-introduce Tamdhu into the market with the release the Tamdhu 10 year old.

On the nose caramel and vanilla chocolate fudge sit beneath honey, plump sultanas, honey nut crunch, sliced green apples, golden honey and dried Autumn leaves, as jelly beans (red, green, black and white in particular) cut through the underlying malt with hints of anise, mint leaves and freshly waterproofed suede and treated new leather – it reminds me very much of a red leather hand bag full of jelly beans, with notes of sugary anise, red berry, coconut, pear and mint accompanied by a “new car smell”. On the palate the whisky is immediately sweet, with brown pear nectar developing with dark chocolate, cherries and toasted coconut, cinnamon, dried paw paw and honey drizzled over toasted muesli as a drying vegetal and nutty bite is softened by layers of caramel and toffee apple. The finish presents with sugar dusted lemon rind and tropical fruit in syrup, as the sherry wood lingers on the tip of the tongue with notes of golden honey and toffee.

Overall, Tamdu 10 year old is a delicious sherry matured malt whisky that I have found far too easy to drink. It might take some seriously strict self-discipline to stop at one dram, especially where this whisky is paired with a 70% cocoa dark chocolate. On its own Tamdhu 10 year old is a delicious malt, but when paired with 70% cocoa dark chocolate the sherry wood influence in the whisky really comes to life on the palate. Lucky I went for an extra-long swim this evening, because without much thought I’ve just gleefully wolfed down half a block of Lindt dark chocolate and four drams of Tamdu 10 year old. This is the life.

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Crazy Uncle Moonshine

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Score: - 

Reaction: :|

ABV: 40%

Origin: Western Australia, Australia

Price: $70 (Aus) 

Whipper Snapper is one of Australia’s newest whisky distilleries. While its whisky quietly sits maturing in barrels, the distillery has decided to release some of its new make spirit into the market. This new make spirit is creatively named Crazy Uncle Moonshine.

Being “new make”, Crazy Uncle Moonshine is spirit and not whisky. It is put in bottles right after Whipper Snapper distill their wash (fermented grain, similar to a beer), without first putting the spirit in oak barrels to get colour or flavours from oak. This is a fairly common practice for start-up distilleries, which try to sell either gin or vodka to inject their businesses with cash. In this case Whipper Snapper have released their new make, which is basically vodka without filtration through carbon or lots of polishing (this means the new make tends to retain more of the grain flavours from the wash).  

Crazy Uncle Moonshine immediately strikes me as quite a clean new make, beaming with that nutty and husky grain typical of newly distilled grain spirit but softened by underlying hues of crusty bread, pitted Kalamata olives, sugary honey, vanilla, plum jam and blackberry confectionery with mint toothpaste and anise notes. The ethanol seems more pronounced on the palate and the alcohol itself is very sweet and sugary, though what is perhaps most interesting about this new make is its apparent design – heavier more pungent alcohols commonly found in the lower tails of a distillation run seem to have been kept at a minimum, while cleaner and lighter (but not necessarily better) spirit seems to have been preferred. The spirit itself is quite sweet on the entry, and then dries with a bitter bite at mid-palate which fades into a pleasantly long finish of re-surging sugars.

Overall, Crazy Uncle Moonshine is an impressive new make spirit that is easy to drink either neat, in a mixed drink or in a cocktail. It is the kind of spirit that holds up quite nicely in a tumbler mixed with lemonade, a wedge of lime and some sprigs of fresh mint but it is neither a whisky nor the typical example of a vodka – do not expect the oak driven complexity of a whisky or the super polished neutral ethanol rich profile of most vodka. This is grain spirit, so those grain notes do tend to shine through most mixers. While this is very good new make, it is still new make – the boring younger version of whisky before it is placed in oak to mature. Crazy Uncle Moonshine is not something I would buy, but it does offer a glimpse into Whipper Snapper’s new make spirit and the flavour profile of the distillery’s signature character. If it is any indication of what the distillery is putting into barrels for maturation, I cannot wait to see the finished product. This is a new make that I think would mature nicely in oak barrels, but in my opinion it will be quite prone to becoming over-oaked. I will keep my fingers crossed that the distillery nurtures this excellent new make correctly so that it grows up to become a delicious mature (not woody) whisky (or perhaps a “whiskey” with an “e”, as Whipper Snapper have opted to spell the it).  

Whipper Snapper just might bring about some competition in the years to come. I am definitely going to keep my eye on this distillery, because its new make is impressive. I hope its wood policy and maturation is just as good.

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Chivas Regal Extra

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Score: 91/100

Reaction:  :)

ABV: 40%

Origin: Scotland

Price: $73 (Australian RRP, but seen for $54.95 at Dan Murphy’s)

Chivas Regal is perhaps the world’s second most famous whisky, behind Johnnie Walker. For many years people were happy to wet their palates with Johnnie Walker Red Label or Chivas Regal 12 year old, and the more premium whisky blends and single malts seem to have catered for a small niche of the market. Then things started to change. A couple of years ago, at least here in Australia, a “whisky rush” started – people began to buy whisky for drinking or collecting and this continues to this very day, reflected in particular by the explosion of different whiskies now on bottle shop shelves and the number of whisky bars that have popped up in cities that only a few years ago had none. Whatever the cause, it is clear people want whisky. They want good whisky, and they are happy to pay for it. Sometimes in my opinion people pay far too much for good whisky – Scotch Malt Whisky Society (“SMWS”) bottlings were my first glimpse into overpriced and overhyped whisky, which are in my view unworthy of their excessive price tags. Chivas Regal have answered the call of consumers for good whisky, however, with great integrity and have released a new expression on the market this month at the affordable price of $73 (RRP) (Australia) – the Chivas Regal Extra.

Australia is the first country in the world to meet Chivas Regal’s newest family member, the Chivas Regal Extra. The Chivas Regal Extra is different to other Chivas expressions because it includes in its blend a higher proportion of sherry matured whisky.  It is designed to sit in between Chivas Regal 12 year old and Chivas Regal 18 year old in the Chivas family, and in my opinion it is a worthy and welcome addition – it is rich, balanced, flavoursome and the yet another example of a throw the cap in the fire kind of whisky! It is difficult to choose which Chivas Regal I prefer, but if my taste buds ever whisper for an easy drinking but flavourful sherry matured whisky I just might reach for the Chivas Regal Extra.

On the nose sherry, chocolate, cherries, vanilla, caramel, ginger nut biscuit, unlit cigarettes, honey coated cashew nuts and menthol weave together into a sticky sugary blanket that sits over what seems to be very clean whisky. On the palate the whisky is immediately soft and creamy, and then it ignites – it is first quite bitter with a proceeding dryness (astringent, similar to very under-ripe pineapple) that brightens with herbal notes and then, at death’s knock, sweetens into a sugary glow of caramel, vanilla and brandy sautéed cherries with cinnamon and dark chocolate. The finish offers lingering bright herbal notes, with crystalline sugary cherry liquor chocolates remaining alongside soft hints of creamy vanilla and shaved almonds over a caramel coffee frappe.

Overall, Chivas Regal Extra is an extremely drinkable blended Scotch whisky that showcases more pronounced sherry notes than Chivas Regal 12 year old, but with the same famous level of balance and poise. It is an impressive addition to the Chivas Regal core range, and at its current price of $54.95 at Dan Murphy’s, it is a must try whisky for fans of Chivas Regal or sherry matured whisky. It also holds up nicely in cocktails and mixed drinks.

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