There is plenty of information online regarding whiskey. My personal favorite is Master of Malt This site offers a great range of tasting notes and more detailed info on regal specifics. Another great resource for Australia is The Odd Whiskey Coy which offers things not found in your standard bottle-o. Finally The Whiskey Company is another great online shop to get your fix. https://www.malt-whisky-madness.com/maltmadness/
Scotland has established itself as the home of whiskey. Its become so famous for its production that whiskey is known as Scotch, and in some circumstances the two labels are interchangeable.
The regions of Scotch Whiskey are:
There is a multitude of whiskey styles in the USA. Some like Bourbon follow strict rules which contribute to the wider picture of whiskey (oak barrels for example). Others have a life of their own and operate with little to no rules.
The Kurayoshi 12yo
Based at the foothills of Mt. Daisen, Kurayoshi whisky is produced at the Matsui Shuzou facility in the Tottori Prefecture, northwest of Kyoto, which was founded in 1910. Over 14% of the area is a natural park, and Kurayoshi takes pride in their use of the mountain’s crystal clear water, filtered through volcanic stone in the making of their whiskies, sake and shochu.
This is the 12 year old Kurayoshi expression - a blended malt from the little-known Matsui Shuzou distillery in Japan's Tottori Prefecture. These whiskies are made with malts sources from Scotland, then blended with Japanese whisky and volcanic-rock-filtered water.
Nose:Flamed orange peel and lemongrass, with a touch of rye bread dough.
Palate:Aromatic barley with a floral edge, develops a fruity core of apple and white grape soon after.
Finish:Lime, ginger and a whiff of smoke.
Isle of Jura 16yr
This 16 year old from the Isle of Jura was a bronze medal winner at the 2004 International Wine and Spirits Competition.
Nose:Fragrant, slightly floral cereal, some minerality at first, becoming increasingly creamy with a hint of orange. Mixed nuts, redcurrant, green apple and finally dark chocolate and spice.
Palate:Oily and resinous with sweet tobacco, mixed nuts, clove, milk chocolate and violet. Rich and round.
Finish:Drying, fragrant oak. After a few sips some chocolate lingers too.
Overall:The whisky of choice for the Isle of Jura's 200 or so inhabitants.
Antique gold. Gentle aromas of oak, caramel, and a hint of vanilla and sea breeze. Light-medium body, with a creamy texture. Soft, gentle flavors of vanilla, toffee, subtle fruit and brine, with a dryish oaky finish.
A bustling seaside resort has grown up around the distillery in the two centuries since it was first built in the fishing town of Oban. The West Highland malt is still produced in the same unhurried, traditional fashion and this 14 year old is a classic dram from the distillery.
The nose is rich and smokey. The medicinal notes are quite evident with notes of the sea; seaweed, tarry ropes. There are notes of cut hay and wood smoke rising with a gentle estery sweetness. The palate is thick and full. Notes of citrus with smooth sweetness. The smoke wafts with notes of seaweed. The oak is quite rich with grist and cereal and malt. The finish is of good length with fruit and dry oak.
Still: Column Still
To many, Tanqueray London dry is the benchmark for the style. Tanqueray is distilled at the massive Cameronbridge Distiller in Scotland and owned by Diageo. In contrast the other gins, the botanicals are distilled immediately and not macerated prior. Secondly, it also does not use a concentrated botanical distillation which is diluted with neutral spirit after distillation. The botanical strength of the distillate is the botanical strength of the gin. The palate begins with juniper, but finishes with rich hints of baking spice including angelica root, cinnamon and coriander seed.
Caol Ila 12yr
This 12 year old is the entry level bottling from the Caol Ila distillery, launched in June of 2002 this expression is light and fresh with that distinctive Caol Ila smoke.
Nose:Fresh, herbal. Rubbed peppermint leaves, stemmy, damp grass, smoky. Oily, cigar leaves, smoked ham, hickory. Lemon peels at the harbour.
Palate:Good body, oily, tar, elegant smoke. Hints of boiled sweets.
Finish:Long, peppery, spicy warmth, smoke.
Nikka Whisky was established in 1934 by Masataka Taketsuru following his journeys in the Celtic nations 15 years earlier where he studied chemistry at the University of Glasgow. Masataka’s family ran a sake brewery, still in operation today, and as such he was taught the skills of alcohol production aided by apprenticeships at Scotch whisky distilleries affording him a great depth of knowledge about production and blending.
The first distillery was built in Hokkaido and named Yoichi. The area was well-suited to whisky production, though its location was remote. In 1969, a second distillery was founded, Miyagikyo Distillery, or Sendai Distillery as it has been known. Its first whiskies were sold as Sendai Single Malt and it was not until Asahi Brewery’s acquisition of Nikka in 2001 that the Miyagiko Distillery was expanded to cope with national demand. The Nikka range includes the single malts from the pair of distilleries as well as a range of vatted and blended malts.
However, soaring demand for Japanese whisky began to outstrip supply, and in early 2019 it was announced that Nikka was axing Nikka 12 and temporarily suspending the Coffey Grain and Malt whiskies. 2019 was also the first year that the Yoichi plant started distilling in January, as opposed to the traditional four-month distilling seasons from March until June and again from September to early December, in an effort to increase production.
TBottled at 51.4% ABV. The blend combines both single malt and grain whiskies from the Miyagikyo and Yoichi distilleries, which are then married in a huge variety of casks, including bourbon barrels, sherry butts and refill hogsheads. A huge depth of flavour.
Medium-body with good balance. Notes of cut flowers and fresh fruits, spice and a little oak. Plenty of winter spice and toffee, a little caramel and vanilla and a good mouthful of fruit. Long, warming and fruity with a little oaken spice.
It's allowed to age in bourbon casks for its maturation, which results in waves and waves of caramel and vanilla notes...
Nose:Notes of thick vanilla pod, citrus peels and cinnamon.
Palate:Toffee, dark chocolate, a touch of warming oak and a subtle fruity note as it develops.
Finish:Spicier on the finish.
Old Forester 40%
One of the oldest Bourbon brands available today, Old Forester dates back to the 1870s and is one of the fastest-growing American whiskey brands in the US. Owned by Brown-Forman, the brand is on the receiving end of shed-loads of investment as its parent tries to take advantage of the Americana boom going on in spirits. A brand new distillery and visitor centre in downtown Louisville is set to open imminently and will boost capacity tremendously – expect new releases to follow.
Old Forester was the first Bourbon ever to be sold in sealed glass bottles in the US – at the time it was made by batching liquid from three distilleries for a consistent flavour profile, and in his exacting way, founder George Garvin Brown wanted to make 100% sure no other liquid was snuck in. It was also one of very few distilleries which remained open during Prohibition. Brown-Forman (yes, the same company that owns Old Forester today) cunningly applied for a license which allowed production to continue for ‘medicinal’ purposes. In fact, Old Forester is the only Bourbon available today which was continuously produced and marketed in the US before, during and after Prohibition.
Nose:Top notes of orange blossom and cedar. Soon develops the classic rye bread warmth and a lingering waft of buttered pancakes.
Palate:Starts quite sweet with caramel and maple syrup, though swiftly develops intense oak-y elements and hints of pine resin. Sweetness returns slightly on the mid-palate.
Finish:Juicy orange and spicy oak continue on the finish.
Bushmills 16 Year Old
The "Old Bushmills" Distillery Company
When Diageo took over Bushmills distillery from Pernod Ricard in 2005, sales volumes had been flat for over 10 years. The new owners set a goal to reach 1 million cases by the end of 2012 and set about investing (to the tune of around €45 million) in the distillery itself as well as the brand. Diageo increased the production rate to five days a week and since 2008, they have implemented a seven-day week. This tripled production in just 2.5 years. Bushmills uses two kinds of malt, one unpeated and one slightly peated. The distillery uses triple distillation, something they've done since the 1930s. The core range of single malts consists of a 10 year old, a 16 year old with a finish in port pipes for 6-9 months and a 21 year old finished in Madeira casks for two years. There is also a 12 year old Distillery Reserve which is sold exclusively at the distillery. Black Bush and Bushmills Original are the two main blended whiskeys in the range. To celebrate the 400th anniversary, a Bushmills 1608 Anniversary Edition was launched. The malt whiskey part was distilled using a proportion of crystal malt (malted barley which has been dried at a high temperature whilst the grains are still moist, thus partly converting the grain’s starch into sugars and caramelising them). This special ingredient gives the blend distinct toffee/chocolatey notes. The grain whiskey used for Bushmills blended whiskeys is, in fact, bought from Midleton distillery in Cork which is owned by arch-rival Pernod Ricard. An award-winning 16 year old Irish single malt from Bushmills based in Northern Ireland. Aged in three different cask types: bourbon, Port and sherry maturation imparts notes of fruit, nuts and spices - a great example of the influence of different cask maturation. The brand has managed to retain its small batch philosophy for over 400 years, which is wonderful. A classic Irish nose of honey, yoghurt and tinned stone fruit, this also has a lovely cassia bark character which develops in the glass. Spiced and rich with juicy summer fruits, Christmas spices, pine oil, manuka honey and peaches in syrup.
Finish:Thick and syrupy with notes of red berries and Golden Syrup.
The typical aromatics provide the backbone to the gin but the true star is the lemons from Corsica and Sicily which gives the unmistakable zesty character of the Amalfi Coast.
The Vergnano family’s gin is naturally distilled in a modern fashion, but similarly builds on the bounty of the Italian land: the base is Italian wheat, the juniper is from Tuscany, and the lemons are a blend of Sicilian and boutique Amalfi Coast lemons. The gin is produced using Vacuum distillation, also called cold-distillation at Torino Distilleries in Piemonte Italy. This distillery produces a wide range of products and is a workhorse for the local industry of northern Italy spirit production. The company is owned by Pernod Ricard.
Highland Park 18yr
Highland Park's 18 Year Old enjoyed a redesign in 2017, receiving livery inspired by the wood carvings from Urnes Stave Church and a new sub-name, "Viking Pride". The Orkney single malt remains the same as before - rich, complex and supremely delicious.
Nose:A profusion of ripe floral notes and fresh blossom with a delectable fruit salad. Notes of honeyed exotic fruits with a little botrytis.
Palate:Creamy and full with fruit conserves and espresso. A creaminess with cinnamon and allspice. Notes of toffee with thick black forest honey with a touch more citrus.
Finish:Long and well sugared with a herbal edge.
Part of Glenmorangie’s Prestige Range, this 18 year old spent its first 15 years in American white oak bourbon casks. After this time, 30% was transferred to Oloroso sherry casks where it spent its final days, as the rest remained in bourbon casks. After 18 years has passed in total, the whisky was reunited and bottled at 43% ABV. A thick, creamy and fruity single malt presented in a wonderfully elegant bottle. It certainly looks prestigious.
Nose:Creamy and tangy notes of citrus, cinnamon, stewed fruits and caramel-drizzled pannacotta.
Palate:The palate is tropical and creamy with nectarines in yoghurt, acacia honey, peaches in cream and butterscotch.
Finish:Ends on tangy oak and grilled grapefruit with plenty of dark sugar caramelised on top…
Talisker Storm (No age statemet) 20-25ppm peat
released in early 2013
matured in specifically selected refill and toasted American oak casks.
An intense and vibrant dram, the Storm offers up plenty of distillery character alongside some smokier depth and complexity.
With a classic Talisker profile, a depth of beautiful flavours and a very reasonable price point, ideal single malt for those thinking of exploring the island whisky category.
Nose:Initial brine, but not as abrupt as the 10 Year Old, quite creamy by comparison. Banana. Banana angel delight? Window putty, hint of sticking plasters and barbecues, citrus. White pepper develops towards the bottom of the glass.
Palate:Thick and mouth-coating with wood smoke, brine, some tin and chilli heat too.
Finish:Red chilli peppers and oak dryness with a hint of embers.
Overall:A welcome addition to the Talisker range, and probably the smokiest whisky to be produced on the Isle of Skye.
The original floor maltings are closed and instead the malt comes from Glen Ord Central Maltings in the Highlands. The Black Isle, the area north of Inverness where Glen Ord is located, is famed as being one of the finest sources ofbarleyin all of Scotland. Bearing this in mind, it isn’t so surprising that Glen Ord is one of only a handful of Scotchdistilleriesthat still possesses on-site maltings. The distillery’s maltings capacity stands at 36’000 tonnes a year, and currently produces maltings for other Diageo-owneddistilleries. Thedistilleryused floor maltings until 1961, when aSaladin boxwas installed. Seven years later, an automatic drum maltings was also installed at thedistillery, and was used alongside theSaladin boxuntil the latter was decommissioned in 1983. The maltings used in theproductionof Glen Ord are unpeated.
A form of triple distillation, originally used and common throughout Scotland is abandoned, though without adverse effect.
Highland Park 12yo
Drying kilns onsite.
Primarily aged in sherry casks (also American oak).
Scotland’s northernmost whisky distillery, lying just to the North-east of fellow Orcadian, Scapa. Orkney is a rugged, beautiful island and the Highland Park distillery sits on a hillside near Kirkwall. Not far off, are sweeping plains of barley field and the rocky outcrops which protrude ominously from the ground. The sea beats the coast; her salty air and the island’s geology contribute to the rich character of Highland Park single malts. The distillery draws its water from the mineral rich springs to the east of the distillery as well as the Crantit Spring.
Nose:Fresh, clean and very aromatic. Floral notes abound the senses with a light grassiness. Notes of creamy Manuka honey and a touch of juicy citrus with cream and a well-balanced sweetness.
Palate:Rather full with a pleasant depth. Lurking somewhere in the substratum a grilled orange lies. Notes of granary toast and green tea with jasmine. A touch of sweetness.
Finish:Quite long with peppery spice and wood shavings.