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%

Reaction: 😀

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.