Whilst I have bad memories about Johnnie Walker Red Label which continue to haunt me when when I smell a scotch and coke, Johnnie Walker Green and Blue Labels sit on the polar opposite of the spectrum and they are amongst the tastiest drams I’ve tried. This made me curious about a lesser known member of the Johnnie Walker family, the XR 21.Continue reading “Johnnie Walker XR 21”
Swift + Moore have curated a number of festive themed cocktails to help spread Christmas cheer, and they sure do sound delicious! Obviously, many of these recipes make use of Swift + Moore’s portfolio of beverages such as Smokehead and Edinburgh Gin. Both brands are owned by Ian MacLeod Distillers in Scotland, who also own Glengoyne distillery.Continue reading “Spread some cheer this Christmas with these fesitive cocktail recipes! 🎄”
As the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games draw to a close, it seems fitting to sip on a Japanese themed whisky this evening whilst watching the Olympics closing ceremony. In keeping with this Japanese theme, tonight I cracked open a bottle of Chivas Regal Mizunara, a special edition in the well known Chivas Regal family of whiskies.Continue reading “Chivas Regal Mizunara blended Scotch whisky”
After a (very) long break it is great to be blogging again. You’ve probably noticed that the site has been down for a while. Well, now it is back online!
Before going offline earlier this year my blog had about 388,000 visits from all around the world. Thanks for clicking through to read about my spirited adventures through Scotland, Italy and Australia.
The most popular posts on my blog have been my posts about whisky making and travel, including my posts ‘How is whisky made and where does its flavour come from? Distilling and Maturing whisky‘ (which guides readers through the craft of making single malt whisky, in case you’re wondering how its made and how it acquires its flavour), ‘Let’s talk about using SMALL BARRELS to age whisky: Does size matter?‘ (which takes a look at the use of small barrels by distillers) and ‘Drinking our way through Italy‘ (which is pretty self explanatory!).
You might also like to read about my visits to Scottish distilleries including Glen Grant, Glenfiddich, Balvenie, Glenlivet, Glengoyne, and Strathisla. My Private tour of the Glen Grant distillery with Dennis Malcolm includes photos and video of how Glen Grant single malt is made.
Blogging has been lots of fun over the years and I look forward to starting up this hobby again soon.
Thanks for supporting and reading my blog!
A few years ago my wife and I went on a road trip through Scotland, passing through the picturesque highlands, glens, and, most memorably, the extinct supervolcano at Glen Coe. It was green, lush, mountainous and pristine, which was basically everything I imagined Scotland would be. One thing that reminds me of that Scottish road trip is the imagery and design on a bottle of Pure Scot scotch whisky. With its shades of green in the shape of mountains and mirroring a blue loch, the bottle design makes me thirsty for Scotch. Lucky for me I happen to have a few samples of Pure Scot on hand!
Pure Scot is a blended Scotch whisky which combines Bladnoch single malt with grain whiskies and a selection of island, highland and speyside malts. At its price, it is (surprisingly) very good and punches well above it weight. The whisky smells of toffee, tropical fruit, grain and cut grass. It tastes great, too – bitey, with a nice mix of sweet orchard fruit, syrupy caramel, vanilla, soft smoke and spice. The finish is chocolaty, mildly spicy, and warming. This sure is a sweet and syrupy Scotch.
Served neat the whisky is easy-drinking and enjoyable, but it is at its best on ice or mixed with cola. Pure Scot kindly sent me a pre-mixed drink of Pure Scot Virgin Oak and Smoked Cola, and this combination worked extremely well together. The mixer itself had a nice strong kick of Scotch, the smokiness was subtle and the cola was syrupy sweet, which complimented Pure Scot’s profile and the virgin oak influence (which tends to be sweet and “bourbony”). It is a fun mixer that is easy to drink and perfect with a barbecue.
Overall I think Pure Scot is a great value blended Scotch whisky which, befitting of its lovely bottle design, offers a nice tour of Scottish whisky with its mix of grain whisky and malts from the islands, highlands and speyside regions of Scotland. I would however love to see an age statement on the bottle, just so I know a little more about what I am drinking.
The story of the Hellyer’s Road distillery starts near an Australian town called Bernie, which is near the northwest coast of Tasmania. In 1827 Henry Hellyer cleared bushland near Bernie to create a trail which later became a road. In 1999 a group of dairy farmers established a whisky distillery on that road, and they fittingly called this distillery “Hellyer’s Road”.
Now, in 2020, Hellyer’s Road whisky is among the largest selling Australian whisky brands on the globe with markets in not only in Australia, but also in Europe and Japan. But despite this large-scale success, my observation of Hellyer’s Road is that it maintains a down-to-earth Australian attitude which lets the product speak for itself – there is no spin about climate or wood or over-the-top marketing, they just make consistently tasty whisky at reasonable prices. Come to think of it, that just might be a reflection of the dairy farming culture!
Sitting on my tasting table, ready for a swig, is a bottle of Hellyer’s Road Original 12 year old single malt whisky. This line was originally released in 2014 and it was a bit of a milestone in Australian whisky making, because until this release it was rare for Australian distilleries to disclose the age of their whiskies. The Hellyer’s Road Original 12 year old single malt whisky is made from spirit which is distilled from a wash of Tasmanian barley and then aged for 12 years in American Oak ex-bourbon casks.
Colour: Golden honey
Smell: Toffee, vanilla, citrus peel (especially lemon), tobacco, tea bags and spices, such as cinnamon. There is always deep and unique citrus character in Hellyer’s Road whiskies which I really love.
Taste: Heavy citrus peel and oils (a mix of orange, lemon and grapefruit) come first, then the wood influence provides toffee, vanilla and nicely integrated tannins which taste like tea leaves and dark chocolate.
Finish: Toasty, with lingering wood-smoke and cocoa, tobacco and fading sweet orange peel.
Overall: This is a full-bodied and lip-smacking dram with a weighty core of rich citrus and beautifully integrated wood notes from the American oak ex-bourbon casks. The only thing missing is a Tasmanian brie to pair it with!
Distilled on Australia’s Mornington Peninsula, Chief’s Son whisky is Australian single malt with proud Scottish roots. Established in 2013 by Stuart and Naomi McIntosh, whose surname in Scottish Gaelic (“Mhic an Tòisich”) means “Son of the Chief”, the distillery’s story is enriched with a clear passion for the McIntosh lineage. So much so that the distillery’s name is an English translation of the family name.
But, the distillery’s story is as much Australian as it is Scottish. Chief’s Son whisky is distilled on Australia’s picturesque Mornington Peninsula, a stretch of land about an hour drive south of Melbourne which is home to some of the world’s best cold climate wineries. Here, some descendants of Clan Mackintosh – a world away from Inverness – distill whisky in the Scottish tradition and call it “Chief’s Son” whisky.
Chief’s Son whisky has a number of expressions, including the “900 Standard”, “900 Pure Malt” and the “900 Sweet Peat”.
Chief’s Son “900 standard”
The “900 standard” is made using a small percentage of peated malt and it is aged in ex-fortified French oak barrels, which explains the whisky’s beautiful reddish copper colour.
Nose: Deceptively similar to an aged Spanish or Australian brandy, which is also aged in ex-sherry barrels, this whisky’s aroma is jam packed with sweet dried fruit, sherry, caramel, wood and spicy cigar tobacco.
Taste: Raw and fiery, the whisky is spirit driven at first but then the wood takes hold with sherry and some bitter tannins.
Finish: Sour, like chocory, with dark chocolate and (strange I know) varnished wood.
Overall: If you want a whisky with a bit of rawness that provides a wollop of sherry and tannic oak, this might just tick the boxes.
Chief’s Son “900 pure malt”
This is an interesting one – it is made using a darker specialty malt and is distilled using fresh whisky wash that has no recycled foreshots and feints (you can read more about how whisky is made by clicking here). Once distilled the spirit is aged in ex-fortified French oak barrels.
Nose: A beautiful clean nose which is fragrant and malty like a stout, with cereals, chocolate/coffee and caramel.
Taste: Slightly oily and buttery, with a really beautiful robust malt flavour, salted caramel, crusty herb bread, cooked apple and a bit of spice (cinnamon and clove).
Finish: Buttery, with shortbread, subtle wood and hints of sticky dessert wine.
Overall: This is a lovely balanced stunner of a whisky showcasing rich malt that sits nicely against a backdrop of fruit and spice from ex-fortified French oak.
Chief’s Son “900 sweet peat”
This whisky is designed to be a mild style peated whisky and it is aged in ex-fortified French oak barrels.
Nose: Apricots, candied citrus peel, and very mild peat and undergrowth.
Taste: Malt with dried fruit, and mild peat.
Finish: Wisps of smoke, dark chocolate and lingering fortified wine.
Overall: Not one for the peat heads, this whisky offers only mild undercurrents of peat and wisps of smoke in what is otherwise a nicely balanced whisky with nuanced sherry flavours.
Thank you to Chief’s Son distillery for the 50ml samples of these whiskies!
The M&H distillery claims to be the first whisky distillery in Israel. Its name “M&H” stands for “Milk and Honey”, which on my guess is a reference to the biblical Israel being referred to as the land of milk and honey. The M&H distillery distils and matures its whisky in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, which sits near the coast of the Mediterranean sea.
The distillery’s flagship single malt is called, perhaps predictably, the “Classic”. It is comprised of whiskies that have been aged in ex-bourbon and ex-red wine “STR” casks. The term “STR” stands for Shaved, Toasted and Re-charred. So, an STR cask would be a cask that had some of the wine stained oak shaved away before it is toasted and re-charred. This shaving off of some of the red wine staining, as you’d expect, turns the cask into something between a red-wine cask and a new “virgin” oak cask.
Colour: Pale straw
Smell: Light and fragrant, with very clean cereal notes and the smell of a barley rich wash. This is a young whisky which has some soft red berry, caramel and wood tannin aromas.
Taste: The whisky has big bold orange peel flavour and surprisingly heavier red wine flavours than the nose suggests, but what particularly dominates this whisky is the taste of oak – there are lots of tannins that taste like tea leaves and cocoa, and towards the finish the wood takes on a peppery and spicy tone.
Finish: Tannin rich, the finish tastes of tea leaves and spicy tobacco.
Overall: This is a young whisky with lots of mouth puckering tannic wood flavour, perhaps a reflection that when whisky ages in warmer climates like Israel it will have more interaction with oak casks than it would in colder climates, like Scotland. Climate seems to influence the way whisky matures, and this new Israeli whisky is yet another example of the way warmer climates can produce unique whiskies that can be wood driven and yet still retain the malty profile of a young single malt whisky.
It was June 2018, and we had zigzagged our way around the cobble stone streets of Rome, the hilly Tuscan towns of Pienza and Montepulciano, the picturesque seaside village of Lacco Ameno in Ischia, the ruins of Pompeii, and, finally, the chaotic city of Naples.
About one hundred years ago, shortly after the United States introduced prohibition, the residents of Templeton, a small town in Iowa, started bootlegging hooch made from molasses. It wasn’t long until this hooch found its way to the speakeasies of Chicago, where, the story goes, it was discovered by mobster Al Capone. Back in 1920s Templeton, stills remained hidden under pigeon pens and code (such as white horses being placed in front of farmhouses) was used to signal that new batches were ready for distribution. When prohibition ended in 1933, though, Templeton’s story fell silent and the brand was forgotten as whiskey makers eventually dominated the (now legal) market. But, in 2006, a brand of whiskey called “Templeton Rye” was created to pay tribute to Templeton’s bootlegging past, and now this (very much legal) whiskey is available in the United States, Canada and Australia.