Monday, 23 June 2014

Green Spot - Single Pot Still

Tonights' pairing is the Green Spot - Single Pot Still with the music of local music sensations Fishead Stew. I am hoping that the upbeat bluegrass, old time feel of the 'Stew hits the Spot. (Groan)

The Green Spot is an Irish whisky and so from now on I shall refer to it as "whiskey". It is (as the title suggests) a Single Pot Still, which is a term used to describe an Irish distillation process of mixing malted and unmalted barley mash then distilling using a pot still. My whisky clubs March tasting featured this whisky and if I recall I did enjoy it. This will represent my official tasting.

Fishead Stew is a well loved Yukon band. I would say the simplest way to describe their style is bluegrass meets klezmer. The tempo and rhythm of this band makes for some great dancing. They recently recorded a live album and I am looking forward to its release.

Nose: soft and warm, notes of peppermint patties, lavender and raisins tease the senses. I also detect banana and orange rind.

Palate: The first thing that comes to mind here is honey, chocolate milk and a hint of ginger. I also get a biscuit taste like shortbread.

Finish: The finish is clean and not overly long. The ginger and shortbread hang on a bit and there is the most fleeting note of melon.

I would rate a decent whisky. I think overall I don't prefer most Irish whiskey. They tend to be  a bit soft for me. This one is a bit more complex than many I have tried, yet it maintains that ultra soft characteristic.

As for the pairing it actually does work in a way. The music is often a bit fast which I have found to sometimes be a detriment to being able to fully take in all of what the dram is trying to say. The fun factor of the music along with its pace give the feel of drinking music. This leads to a great pairing as the Irish are very fond of drinking music and that's what I am doing here (in a non-session way).

I like many are caught up in World Cup fever, so I raise this glass to the Irish National team that didn't qualify. I also hope that my Piratiko (Greece) are able to win tomorrows match against the Ivory Coast and make it to the next round (at least).

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Isle of Skye 8 Year Old (Ian Macleod)

     This is the 47th anniversary of the Monterey International Pop Festival. I would imagine that when people think of this festival the first acts that generally come to mind are: The Grateful Dead, The Who, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin. For me the first act that comes to mind is Ravi Shankar.

     Mr. Shankar was introduced to America at this festival, and no music in my mind really characterises the Hippie movement more accurately than Indian classical. Not only does this music make a great accompaniment to the psychedelic experience, it also exemplifies the ideas of change, global growth and multiculturalism that was growing rapidly in the late 60s. From my stand point it is also extremely complex music.... and it needs to be as it makes a fantastic pairing for some of the most delicious and complex cuisine in the world. I wonder if it would make a great pairing for a whisky. In order to find out I will pair a whisky with Ravi Shankars Monterey performance.

     The whisky that is being paired is the Isle of Skye 8 Year Old from Ian Macleod. This awarded blended whisky has also won praise from Mr. Jim Murray. He called it a "superstar whisky". Probably the coolest thing about it is that a portion of the revenues from this whisky are donated to the Scottish Mountain Rescue. This volunteer organisation safeguards the many outdoor enthusiasts that enjoy the rugged mountainous regions of Scotland. Talk about a social responsibility campaign that looks outside the box. I haven't even tasted it and already I can agree with the superstar title.

As I pour this dram I am eager to see/hear how whisky pairs with Ravis' fine ragas.  

Nose: a sharp fruit greets me first with a smokiness about it. I also detected marshmallow, white pepper and just the faintest hint of peach.

Palate: the first wave is a smoke of the smoothest kind. Second wave brings notes of chocolate and nuts that remind me of a crispy crunch (candy bar). I also detected notes of vanilla and pear.

Finish: Very long, smooth and warming. I receive hints of vanilla, flowers and a bit of the smoke.

     I would have to say that overall this is a decent blend. It has a lot going on for it. I am a big fan of the pairing as well. I find the smokiness of the whisky with its sweet floral notes allows my mind to drift away on the sitar to an incense filled temple in India. Specifically I am reminded of the Mata temple in Amritsar.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Bruichladdich Laddie Classic Edition 1

Today marks the 46th anniversary of the release of the Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street. This album appears on many "all time greatest" lists. I would certainly place it somewhere in my top 100. For some reason this album really works as a whole and it is a pleasure to listen to. The tracks are blues, gospel and country influenced rock. There is a certain groove about it that makes me want to move. Not surprisingly the band members did not mark it as one of there finest works; sometimes it is our greatest achievements that we criticise the most. The album was number one on the UK charts upon its release and again upon its re-release in 2010. This is apparently the only time an album has hit #1 in both its original release and its re-release.

As I enjoy this classic of the rock and roll world I will pair it with another classic (at least by name). The Bruichladdich Laddie Classic Edition #1. This whisky has no age statement and was aged in american oak and bourbon barrels. The distillery website compares the characteristics of this expression to Kate Moss and Audrey Hepburn. I must admit that sounds pretty appealing. Lets see if my senses can make the same comparison.

The colour is stunning like golden honey.

Nose: Orange, vanilla and bourbon greet at first then I am reminded of the sweetness of bubblegum or club soda. Very sweet smelling stuff.  

Palate: molasses, orange and cotton candy splash across the palate followed by a slight peppery (jalepeno) prickling.

Finish: The finish is long and dry, a nod to the bourbon barrels used reveals itself towards the end.

A wonderful dram; though I don't know about comparing it to the likes of Kate Moss, Audrey Hepburn or any woman for that matter. I also didn't chose a great music pairing. I found the whisky to be fairly complex, with many subtle scents and flavours that I was unable to pick out and define due to the fullness of the music. This complexity may have benefited from a more subtle music, perhaps some classical music to accompany the "classic laddie".

Monday, 2 June 2014

Johnnie Walker Black Label (12 Year Old)

Opening todays' offering from the usual supply my first reaction was "Really?". Johnny Walker Black isn't exactly the rare or interesting selection I was expecting from this calendar. My second reaction was far more reasonable and open minded. Johnnie Walker Black has a reputation as a great blended whisky. I myself have tried it on numerous occasions and to be honest it is one of my favourite blends. It is incredibly well balanced stuff. I would definitely say that it is hands down my favourite in the JW line.

A couple of weeks ago I received a tweet with suggestions to help me find that perfect marriage of whisky and music. I am flattered to have received the idea and excited to be able to take the advice. The suggestion came from @ankitsethi. He suggested JW Black with "EDM". I had to look up what "EDM" meant... It means Electronic Dance Music. This was a bit of a challenge for me as I don't listen to a lot of electronica. This meant I had to improvise. I chose Medeski, Martin and Woods - Combustication Remix EP. This album is a mix of trance, jazz and funk. Pretty out there stuff.

On that note I will get to the tasting and send a thank you and cheers out to Mr. Sethi.

Nose: Maple, apple and smoke come to mind initially, I then detected an almost minty tone. upon further inhalations I discovered hints of toffee and just a slight bit of coffee.

Palate: In the mouth it is so smooth and warming. Flavours of malteasers are apparent. To break that down it would be like chocolate, toffee and bread. In this case the bread is dark.

Finish: Long and so smooth. The flavours almost cling to your tongue. Apples and grasses are tastes that are brought to mind.

 A wonderful blend. It is no wonder this is so popular. As for the musical pairing I think it worked quite well. I believe a better match would have been some classic Jazz like Dizzy Gillespie; however, I really appreciate the suggestion and hope you don't mind my "slight" tweaking of it.