Garden Tiger Dry Gin

Type: Gin

Origin: Cotswolds, England 

ABV: 47% 

Malt Mileage rating: stars 4

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Reisetbauer Blue Gin

Type: Gin

Origin: Austria  

ABV: 43% 

Malt Mileage rating: Stars 3.5

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Glenlivet Founders Reserve

Glenlivet Founders Reserve 4

Rating: ★★★

Recommendation: Consider it

Type: Single malt Scotch whisky

Origin: Speyside, Scotland

ABV: 40%

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The Glenlivet Founders Reserve was first launched in March 2014 and in Australia on 1 July 2015, and it is poised to become the new permanent benchmark expression in The Glenlivet’s core range as rumors abound that it will replace the much loved Glenlivet 12 year old. This is a bold move indeed reflecting on comments of Pernod Ricard’s Marketing Director, Anne Martin, that The Glenlivet has a whopping 26% of the Australian single malt market. Clearly ignoring the odd adage, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, The Glenlivet seems to be rolling the proverbial dice by tampering with its incredibly successful core range. Only time will tell if the gamble will pay off. 

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The Glenlivet Founders Reserve joins the range

The Glenlivet Founders Reserve will be available in approximately 60 of Pernod Ricard’s key markets around the world, but notable exceptions include South Africa, India, Russia, Taiwan, China, and, Global Travel Retail/Duty Free. Some markets, it seems, will stock both the Glenlivet 12 year old and the Founders Reserve but unfortunately Australia will not be one of those markets. The Glenlivet 12 year old will only be available in Australia until December 2015, so for Australian readers be sure to stock up on the product if it is your poison of choice. 

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A bartender pours the liquid sunshine into a glass

In terms of the product itself, the Glenlivet Founders Reserve comprises of malts that have been matured in traditional and first fill American oak casks. It is a “no age statement” expression, which means that all we can be certain about is that the whisky in the bottle is at least 4 years old. Of course, in mature whisky markets consumers should be aware that in relation to whisky age does not always correlate with quality; a good whisky usually has a good balance between the whisky’s distillery character (from the distilled spirit) and the oak (from the flavours and aromas the spirit soaks up from the oak casks in which the spirit ages). Too long in the casks, and the distillery character may fade away and be dominated by wood. Too little time in the casks, and the distillery character may be too prominent and the whisky may smell and taste “immature”. It is about taking the whisky out of the oak casks when it is “ready”; just like knowing when to take a cake out of an oven or a steak off the barbecue. Steak is probably a better analogy because just as different people like their steak rare or well done (a travesty, I know), some people may like whisky young, old or base a preference on their mood or the occasion.  It is not correct to dismiss “no age statement” whisky, without trying the whisky first and assessing where it might fit in the Scotch flavour spectrum; because if my cravings are anything to go by, sometimes I want a young bitey or simple malt and other times I want an old complex malt. Other times I might want sweet navy style rum or a drier English style pot still rum, an old elegant Cognac or a fiery young grappa. You get the point.  

Fortunately,  a bottle of The Glenlivet Founders Reserve has been warming my cold winter nights over the past couple of weeks and I am now in a good position to share my thoughts about this whisky in the below tasting notes. 

Eyes:

The whisky is a pale gold with a tinge of amber and a mild reddish hue. When swirled around in the glass the liquid forms a thin film around the inside of the glass which recedes into thin, but short lived, legs.

Nose: 

Creamy vanilla dominates this whisky’s bouquet; not very surprising really, as vanilla is one of the main notes derived from maturing whisky in American oak. We know that The Glenlivet matures this malt in first fill American oak casks. “First fill”, as the name suggests, indicates a cask that has been filled with whisky for the first time. As you can probably guess, these casks have a lot of flavour to give whisky because they have not been used very much before, except perhaps for maturing bourbon or sherry in most cases.

Beneath the sumptuous layer of vanilla there is green apple, hay, spearmint gum, shavings of dark chocolate and sweet alcohol, scratching the nostrils with glued cardboard.

Taste:

Somewhat dull at first, but it gets tasty. Dried apple, juicy pear and raisins meet spiced loaf, with hard red candy.  Layers of honey begin to form on the palate as the initial bite of alcohol fades, and the mid-palate is warming and spicy; quite gingery and jaggered with licorice. After the smooth entry the whisky seems to become a little rough, with lashes of alcohol and spice. As the notes whiz around the palate, I cannot help but feel a bit confused about what The Glenlivet hopes to achieve with this malt. Some flavours clash, but for the most part it works… just.

Finish: 

Honey remains on the palate, with apple and pear. There is some vanilla, with lightly buttered sultana pastry. Soy sauce emerges on the finish, more umami than salty, with shades of Vegemite and sake – in short, the malt tastes estery and yeasty.

Bottom line: 

Consider it. The Glenlivet’s Founder’s Reserve is a tasty single malt malt that has a reasonable price tag, but the nagging bite of what seems to be young whisky disrupts my enjoyment of this malt. It tastes a little rough to bear The Glenlivet name, but at its price you could do worse.

La Paglierina grappa

La Paglierina

Rating: ★★★★

Recommendation: Buy it! 

Type: Grappa

Origin: Italy

ABV: 45%

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La Paglierina is grappa from Italy. In my opinion there is good grappa and there is bad grappa. Bad grappa, at least in my opinion, has a character that resembles distilled store bought wine. Many moonshiners and distillers are known to buy chardonnay, distill it to extract the alcohol from the wine, and then they call the product of the distillation “grappa”. This is not grappa. This is wine brandy. Grappa is made from distilling the leftovers of the wine making process, not the wine itself. That is, when making grappa, a distiller should distill fermented grape skins, pulp, seeds and stems (called “pomace”) rather than wine. Grappa is now a protected name in the European Union, and it must be: (1) produced in Italy; (2) made of pomace; and (3) water must not be added to the pomace. 

Below are my tasting notes of La Paglierina grappa. 

Eyes:

The colour is a pale chardonnay. The grappa clings to the sides of the glass when swirled, and forms thin legs that are unevenly dispersed – looking pretty good. Bravo.

Nose:

Grape bunchstems and seeds, being the aroma of the “pomace”, dominates the bouquet. This is accompanied by the smell of grapes, dried dates, sultana and crystalline sugars.   

Mouth:

Bellissimo! The flavor of grape seeds and grape bunchstems immediately hits the palate, with drying woody undertones and some astringency. The palate dries and then sweetens. The taste of whole dried figs then develops and lingers into a long finish.

Bottom Line:

La Paglierina is a simple and elegant grappa that offers a series of cascading flavours – from woody grape seeds and bunchtems, to a dryness, and then to a delicious dried fig. This is a lovely grappa. It is perfect as a digestive after a big heavy carb rich Italian meal.

Try it with it a platter of softer cheeses, such as brie, buffalo mozzarella or bocconcini, quince paste, dehydrated grapes, dried figs and dates. Be sure to talk unnecessarily loudly and with your hands, to enrich the Italian experience. 

Salute.

Bearded Lady Charred Moonshine

 

Bearded Lady Charred Moonshine is from Indiana in the United States. It is made from 99% corn and 1% barley, and “rested” in used bourbon barrels. The fact that it is rested in used barrels may mean that it can’t be called “bourbon”, because bourbon must age in new charred oak barrels.

Over the years, this “moonshine” has grown on me.  It is a very drinkable sweet spirit – initially sweet with lively raw grain-led flavour, it tastes of corn fritters, fruit bread, buttery vanilla and honey, while toasted wood and wisps of smoke progressively intensify with burnt toffee and anise seed toward the finish. 

Bearded Lady Charred Moonshine may provide a drinker with a style of liquor that is a little bit different to the ocean of bourbon on the market. For one thing, the underlying corn spirit doesn’t seem to compete with heavy flavours of American oak or rye; the corn is just there in all its golden glory, and it tastes finger lickin’ good.  

Bearded Lady Charred Moonshine currently sells for AUD$39 per 500ml bottle. 

Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso Matured

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Rating: ★★★★

Type: Single malt

Origin: Speyside, Scotland 

ABV: 60.7%

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Batch: OL0614

The Glenlivet has, for a number of years now, produced cask strength expressions as part of its Nàdurra range (Nàdurra is Gaelic for “natural”).  The Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso Matured single malt whisky is one of the more recent additions to the Nàdurra range, being whisky that is matured in first fill Oloroso sherry casks from Jerez in Spain, non-chill filtered and bottled at a potent cask strength of 60.7% alcohol by volume. The fact this expression is made up of whisky matured in first fill Oloroso sherry casks is important for two main reasons. First, sherry casks are increasingly expensive for whisky distilleries to buy because they are in high demand as sherry matured whisky is all the rage, but as sherry consumption is lower than in the past they are in low supply. This is why the vast majority of Scotch whisky these days is matured in ex-bourbon wood. Sherry matured whisky is therefore something that is pretty special. Second, the fact the Oloroso sherry casks are “first fill” is likely to mean that  you can expect an avalanche of medium-dry Oloroso sherry flavour from this whisky because – being filled with whisky for the first time – the sherry casks have been untouched and have a lot of sherry flavour to give the whisky, very quickly. 

Nose:

From arms length the whisky releases a vinegary and winy aroma and initial nosing reveals notes of sweet balsamic reduction, woody saffron, glazed cherry fruit cake, baklava and nuts, especially honey roasted cashews.  The bouquet is steamy and vibrant, rekindling memories of sizzling sweet and sour bubbling away  with pineapple, herbal anise, shaved green apple and sticky sugars. The Oloroso beams with all its glory, amid the wood and associated dusty wood spice.   

With a dash of water licorice, raisins and dried apple emerge in the bouquet. 

Taste:

On the palate the whisky is initially sweet, glowing with all those lovely sugars suggested by the bouquet, and then it dries. Find chocolate, cherries, nuts, toasted coconut, red wine vinegar and the medium-dry woody kick of Oloroso – basically the hallmarks of a very Mediterranean fruit cake with a spicy snap about it! This is, without question, a fiery whisky that has soaked up quite a lot of Oloroso and oak notes from the casks; as expected of a whisky matured in “first fill” casks.  

With a dash of water dark chocolate and citrus emerge, with Terry’s chocolate orange.  

Finish:

The finish presents with the lingering taste of red wine vinegar, not as sweet or tangy as balsamic but rather quite acidic and drying. The sweet sugars grapple with the drying effect of the wood and Oloroso, leaving spice and honey smoked leg ham with orange peel and chinotto. 

Bottom line:

Buy it. The Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso Matured single malt is a flavour packed malt with a ferocious Oloroso drenched medium-dry bite. For the lovers of medium-dry sherry matured whisky out there, and I know there are plenty of you, this is a whisky that should hit the spot. It certainly made me a happy chap, and it passed the main test of a good whisky in my book: I keep going back for more!  

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Teeling Poitin

Poitin

Rating: ★★★

Origin: Ireland

Type: New make spirit 

ABV: 61.5%

Price: $A50 (Aus)

Poitin is Irish “homemade” spirit which, despite being illegal in Ireland from the 1760 until 1997, has a firm position in Irish folklore, art and culture. People in Ireland were known to have distilled wash made from malted barley, thereby making Poitin, in rural areas of Ireland to avoid detection from law enforcement. Despite its potency and alcoholic strength, or perhaps because of it, Poitin became very popular in Ireland though its quality was variable and this is responsible for its infamous reputation. Now that Poitin is legal again, it can be regulated such that good quality spirit can be made.  One company taking up the old Irish art of moonshining is Teeling. Teeling’s Poitin is comprised of 80% triple distilled corn spirit and 20% double distilled malt spirit.

Nose:

Licorice, sourdough, olive bread, cherry stones, fresh mint, peaches in syrup and lovely sweet ethanol sting the nostrils, and underlying notes of wet dog fur and damp cardboard often associated with the tails of a distillation run are particularly prominent when water is added to the spirit. This is beautiful new make, ripe for the barrel, but whether it is ripe for bottling is an entirely different question.

Palate:

On the palate the spirit is sweet and fruity with soft summer stone fruit, season-all,  and powerful citrus peel, as ethanol burns at mid-palate then recedes into the finish.  

Finish:

The finish is sugary with hints of anise seed, rose Turkish delight and – curiously – garlic/onion powder.  

Bottom line:

Consider it, if you want to know what excellent Irish new make tastes like (albeit mostly corn spirit). For those looking for every day drinking whiskey, stay away – this is what whiskey tastes like before it is placed in oak barrels to mature so don’t expect any oak driven flavours, just sweet ethanol with some tasty congeners distilled from the hop-less (not hopeless) beer people in the whiskey industry like to call a “wash”. Poitin is essentially vodka, but because it has not been “polished” by either distilling it more or running it through charcoal filters it retains flavours from the “wash” (though many vodka producers now do not “polish” their product). I am torn. This is a great new make, but it belongs in a barrel not a bottle. It strikes me as more of a novelty, that something people used to drink when it was difficult or too costly to source properly matured whiskey. I dislike the taste of new make in mixed drinks or cocktails because of its pungent aroma, though this spirit seems sweet and smooth enough to integrate in some mixed drinks if the new make taste is what you are after. For most people, vodka – Belvedere, even Skyy – might be the more sensible option. Proceed with care, only if you know what new make tastes like and you enjoy the taste. 

DEAU Louis Memory

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Rating: ★★★★

ABV: 40%

Origin: Cognac, France

Try it with: Romeo y Julieta No 1 cigar (Cuba)

Romeo y Julieta No 1

DEAU is a cognac producer with a rich history spanning several generations of the Bru Legaret family. Despite such a rich history its eaux-de-vie was mostly used by other cognac houses in France until quite recently, but nowadays the Bru Legaret family produce cognac under their own brand: DEAU, in honour of Louis Deau who settled in the Cognac region of France during the reign of Louis XIV.

Malt Mileage has been extremely lucky to secure cognacs comprising the DEAU Cognac range, including the DEAU VS, VSOP, Napoléon, XO, Black and Louis Memory. In this post Malt Mileage reviews the DEAU Louis Memory.

Cognac Louis Memory is made from grapes grown in the much revered Grande Champagne region of Cognac in France, the oldest of which were harvested at the beginning of the 20th century and the youngest were harvested in the 1970’s according to DEAU. That makes the youngest cognacs in the bottle at least 35 years old and the oldest around 100 years old or a little more.

Perhaps the most striking quality of the DEAU Louis Memory in my tasting of it was how well its flavours matched a good quality cigar. On hitting the tongue, the cognac was fruity with waves of soothing vanilla creaminess and this washed away the aftertaste of the cigar, and with the palate refreshed the cognac began to emit bright shades of eucalyptus and mint amidst the fruity undertones as a nuttiness began to emerge towards the finish with hints of umami. It was that flicker of umami on my taste buds that signaled I was ready for another puff of the cigar, and with that puff the remaining nutty and umami notes from the cognac accentuated beautifully the smooth tobacco smoke of the Romeo y Julieta No 1 Cuban cigar. The DEAU Louis Memory struck me as a cognac that is – whether I am right or wrong – designed for cigars in mind because the shades of rancio evident in its flavour profile cleared the palate up to mid-palate but towards the finish the emerging nuttiness and umami notes accentuated the proceeding puffs of the cigar.

The bouquet is quite fragrant, fruity and floral with notes of lavender, menthol, licorice, cigar tobacco, coconut, red candy, ripe peach, perfumed soap and hints of ground coffee with undertones of peanut satay. On the palate shades of rancio shine brightly – fruit, waves of soothing vanilla creaminess and hints of earthy mushroom and soy sauce emerge on the entry, then brightening eucalyptus and menthol notes emerge at mid-palate only to fade into the finish, gradually replaced by a nuttiness and umami character.