Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Connemara Cask Strength

Today I am presenting The Connemara Cask Strength. This is my fourth Irish Whisky of the month and I must say that I have had a nice time getting to know the Irish. I figured I would save this one for last for a couple of reasons. First, this bottle was a birthday gift. My birthday falls towards the end of the month and I have a thing about not opening gifts before the day of celebration, even though I have known since Christmas that this bottle was coming. That's how I was able to factor it into my March madness. The second reason that saving this particular dram to last made sense is that it is the strongest. At 57.9% this whiskey has potential to pack a punch.  At least I kind of hope so, as I do enjoy a good slap now and again.

To soothe this high octane liquid down my throat I will enjoy a listen to some Freddie King. The album is called Déjà vu and I am fairly certain that its a live greatest hits album. I don’t usually like listening or purchasing greatest hits albums and I try not to present them for my blog, I just felt that given the potency of this bad ass whisky it would be well served by a man nicknamed "The Texas Cannonball". Freddie King was also known as one of "The Three Kings” of electric blues guitar. The others being Albert and B.B.. He is well known for his blend of Chicago and Texas blues styles. He was also one of the first blues men of his era to feature a multiracial backing band. I find Freddie’s playing to be really powerful. His guitar seems to have crunch and his voice is gritty. The band sets him up with a solid funky blues rhythm.

So let’s see now if this (on paper) powerful whisky can play nicely with the heavy hitting groove of the big bad King.

Nose: acidic notes meet a certain malty sweetness giving to thoughts of honey and lemon in a cup of black tea.... But no smoke.

Palate: Saltiness comes to the fore front followed by a quick hit of peat that washes it away and then a wave of wood and brown sugar slide over the tongue. While this is happening a thin cloud of smoke drifts over top almost out of reach. A spicy edge then warms things up.

Finish: This finish is long, drying and slightly bitter. On the sides of the tongue (almost underneath) there is a sweetness that clings for a very long time.

Other than the bitter note in the finish this is a great whisky with a lot of interesting characteristics. When I heard that it was a peated Irish whisky I expected something in line with an Islay Scotch. That was not the case, the smokiness in this dram is subtle. In my opinion this is an Irish whisky that exhibits a huge boost of character compared to its lighter comrades. A great addition to my collection, I look forward to more expressions from Connemara... and more Freddie King. This guy is awesome.  

Good night and may the good times roll!!!!        

Monday, 17 March 2014

Teeling - Small Batch

Good day and Happy St. Patrick's Day. This is a day to celebrate all things Irish. I have actually been celebrating the Irish gifts to the whisky world for this entire month. St Patrick`s day is celebrated on what is believed to be the anniversary of the saints death. He is the Patron saint of Ireland, but really not a lot of his life is really known. He was a bishop of Ireland and it is believed he lived in about the 5th Century AD.What I found to be interesting today was that the saint used the three leaf clover to illustrate the concept of the holy trinity to the people of Ireland. I had never heard that before. As much as I love this day for its placement near the beginning of Spring and all its merry making I find that it has gone to a level of cheapness that doesn't really mean anything. Most people know little if anything about St. Patrick or Ireland. It seems to just be yet another day to buy cheap crap and get drunk. Just my two cents. 

For the actual day I figured I would raise a glass of something a little different: A rum cask whisky. According to the official website “This small batch bottling consists of hand selected casks which are given further maturation in ex-Flor de Cana Rum barrels”. I am a huge fan of the Flor de Cana rums and am eager to try my first rum cask whisky. 

For musical inspiration I have chosen the Grateful Dead live at the Winterland Arena 03.18.1977. Yep the St. Patricks day hangover show from one of my favourite years of dead music. I also like the two sevens. Seven is considered to be a lucky number and the Irish are known for their luck. 

and now to the tasting. Slainte!

Nose: Thick wave of wood and vanilla, with notes of rum.

Palate: A great mouth feel that is equally thick and sparkling. Wood develops into a vanilla sweetness and then the rum notes kick in. 

Finish: long and smooth. I am left with a bit of the wood and nice degree of rum notes. I then detect a slight cigar tobacco edge. 

Irish whisky is a growing segment of the whisky world. With whiskies like this that is no surprise.The Irish are becoming creative in the ageing process and are delivering unique tasty expressions. These creations are a delight to enjoy and for just one moment I feel I can share in the luck that so famously belongs to the Irish.

Thank you and as the Irish saying goes:  ``May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light, may good luck pursue you each morning and night.``


Monday, 10 March 2014

Bushmills 10 Year Old Single Malt

On this tenth day of March I am going to have a taste of the Bushmills' 10 Year Old Single Malt. I have been looking forward to this tasting for some time now and am eager to get going. This whiskey spent most of its ten years in bourbon casks and was finished in Oloroso sherry casks. The only other Bushmills' single malt I have tried before this was the 16 year old, and I can only describe that as almost like candy. A little younger the 10 year old may be but I am no less excited.

For musical accompaniment I have chosen to go with Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon. This album was released 41 years ago today. It is not only Pink Floyd's most commercially successful album (over 1500 weeks in the charts and 45 million copies sold) it is also one of the most successful albums of all time. A true masterpiece, this album takes you on a journey of intense space rock with unparallelled sound engineering. When I was about eighteen years old I had heard that this album could be matched with The wizard of Oz movie. I decided to give it a try. Some of the film lined up with the music while other parts lead me to believe that this was just some stoner's experiment. All the same it was fun. How can you go wrong with one of the greatest movies of all time mixed with one of the worlds greatest albums.

Let's see if the music can fit with this dram.

Nose: mouth watering honey sweetness with a touch of spice. I also detect what I can only describe as old paperbacks.

Palate: starts off as wood and then quickly opens up into chocolate notes that develop into the sweetness of lychee. The mouth feel is exquisite.

Finish: a long finish of the lychee hangs on and then the wood comes back before the finish quickly fades.

True to its Irish nature this whisky is very smooth and light. It is delicious, approachable and all around attractive. As for whether the music worked with this dram... I think that there aren't a lot of situations that this album couldn't work with.

Next weeks tasting will be on St Patrick's day. I think that one should call for a double.

Until then have a great week.          

Monday, 3 March 2014

The Tyrconnell

     The first day of March never fails to lift my spirits. It is not only the month of my birthday it is also the  month of many other festivities. Many of these celebrations are related to the passing of the winter and the ushering in of the spring and summer seasons. Then of course we have St. Patricks Day, a day to celebrate all things Irish. In keeping with this theme I will present an Irish whisky for each week of March. I have been looking forward to this for a long time.

     I was at a loss for a musical selection today. I pondered playing U2 but wasn't up to it for this weeks tasting. I found out that Van Morrison is Irish and so considered that as well. Again I wasn't able to work that out in my mind. I then tried to picture Ireland and realised that when I think of Ireland castles and Celts come to mind far more than U2 and other modern successes. I opted for music that lent itself to medieval imagery and chose a British band over an Irish one. The band is Pentangle and the album is Basket of Light. This album released in 1969 is the bands greatest commercial success. It is rife with medieval tales of kings and queens, huntsmen and knights. Also it doesn't hurt that track 3 is called "Springtime Promises".  

     To accompany this poetic folk rock masterpiece I opted for the Tyrconnell. It is a single malt whisky named after a horse. Apparently the horse won a race back in 1876 even with the odds stacked heavily against it (100 to 1). An image of the horse has graced the label since.

Nose: Light, sweet honey and citrus with a slight floral nod.

Palate: berries and buttery creaminess with a touch of spice at the end.

Finish: very smooth and soft. Notes of pepper, butter and honey.

     This is quite possibly the softest whisky I have ever tried. It is very approachable and easy drinking. It is so soft sweet and creamy in fact that I wondered when listening to the song "The Cuckoo" if this whisky was comparable to the nectar that the bird sucks from the white flowers to keep her voice clear.

With that question in mind I will say good night.