Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Nikka - From The Barrel

Well yesterday I tried something old and today I'm going to try something new...  Nikka is a Japanese distillery that produces some very high quality whiskies. I haven't heard anything negative about the "From The Barrel" expression. At 51.4%, this cask strength whisky will likely pack quite a punch. For this reason I have it already poured and am allowing it to breath. I also have a bit of water to try with it as I have heard that that can have a positive effect.

I have paired this whisky with Jethro Tull's "Songs From The Wood". Aside from the fact that I find this to be one of the Tull's most under-rated albums, I figured it made sense to pair a whisky that is "from the barrel" with songs that are "from the wood". I don't think that I need to go into any sort of introduction for who Jethro Tull are. If you aren't sure have a listen to "Stand Up" or "Aqualung" and be spoiled by the rock and roll brilliance. I have heard the bands sound referred to as "Art Rock". Ian Anderson is known for his flute playing. The flute definitely adds a classical feel to the music. Songs from the wood also incorporates Celtic and renaissance sounds.

And now for the whisky:

Nose: Thick smell of dried fruits and clove, this softens to sweet oranges, I also picked up on some floral notes and something like syrup or maybe molasses.              

Palate: A spiciness is first to speak and then this is followed by notes of toasted almonds, I also detect a fruitiness, something dry maybe raisins or even pear.

Finish: This goes on for ever. Huge and wonderful. Wood, melon and vanilla come to my mind here. This whisky is absolutely flawless.

Now to add some water:

Nose: The fruit freshens up here. Some mint comes out.  Everything seems brighter, newer and fresher. I now get notes of chocolate and cherries.

Palate: Bloody brilliant. Cocoa and coffee dance around with stewed peaches. This is surrounded by a buttery quality that is in the taste and feel.

Finish: The finish is just as long but seems thicker. The wood kicks in to give the butter some company.

Well how nice is that. This is really a welcome addition to my collection and I can't wait to try other expressions from Nikka.

I also enjoyed the album. Really gotta love the eclectic sound and the way the songs have so many parts. A nice compliment to any dram I would say.      

Monday, 6 June 2016

Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old

It is a sad day when we have to say good by to our friends. Today is one of those days. I have come to the end of my bottle of Dalwhinnie. I couldn't let the occasion pass without at least blogging about it. 

The Dalwhinnie 15 year old is considered one of the classic malts of Scotland, representing the Highland region. It is also called "The Gentle Spirit" and this is written on the bottle. The first time I tried this whisky I was still a teenager. I can remember even then marveling at the complexity and smoothness. The price of this whisky has gone up quite a bit since then and so I am sad to know that it may be some time before I can replace this bottle. 

For musical accompaniment I have chosen The Flaming Lips album "At War With The Mystics". I believe the music is of equal complexity to match the whisky. Also I haven't listened to this album in a long time. 

Getting right into it here:

Nose: Huge peat blast right away with sweet smelling smoke wafting over it. There is also an ozone and mineral like quality that I can only describe as the smell of summer rain in the city. 

Palate: Notes of toasted fresh bread and a floral note seem to take hold first. This then seems to remind me of creamed orange blossom honey spread across the toast. On the fade a slight salinity kicks in.

Finish: Very smooth. I think this may be why it's called "the gentle spirit". The salinity above fades quickly and I am treated to a gentle air of peat and smoke that whispers on my tongue for a long time. 

Absolutely fantastic, I'm not sure if I remember Dalwhinnie normally tasting like this. I think the air in the bottle as given the whisky a chance to oxidize. This was a bitter sweet surprise as I know it will be a while before I taste it again, while at the same time it was quite possibly like being treated to a new whisky. 

The music works surprisingly well. I can't say enough about the Flaming Lips. They can be spacey and trippy while at the same time very complex and beautiful. The sounds are somehow organic and technological.  Generally I have to be in the right mood to listen to them and I am happy to say that this is one of those times.