Monday 24 December 2012

Tasted #5: Glenfiddich 40yo

It's not too often you get to taste a 40yo whisky (especially one that retails for $3,299AUD per bottle), but thanks to the very generous blokes from William Grant & Sons Australia (who I shared a long chat with about all things 'fiddich at a recent Shirt Bar Scotch Club), that's exactly what I did recently.

Two days after the Scotch Club, a hand-delivered package arrived at work containing a taste of the highly-regarded Glenfiddich 40yo. Wow, I'd been told to expect "something special", and this exceeded my expectations. Certainly rarer than anything I'd ever tasted before.

Wanting to compare the 40yo to something a little more familiar in the range, I decided on the Glenfiddich 18yo as my comparison dram - as it's a solid, smooth, trustworthy dram yet still very much a 'fiddich. The day before Glenfiddich's 125th anniversary seemed as fitting a day as any, too...

With the Glencairn glasses charged, and most of the 15mL taste poured out (I had to leave a few mL for my best mate) it was time to try the 40yo.

Glenfiddich 40 year old (45.8% ABV, 40 years old)
Nose: Big, leathery, reminiscent of an old leather lounge. Aged oak, rich dried saltanas. Incredible.
In comparison, the 18yo (right, below) is harsh, brash, and just smells young and fresh (a pity really, given the 18yo is a great dram on its own).

Palate: There's that oak again, and the leather. And more. So complex, so much going on here. Not to get too wanky here, but if I had a grandfather who owned an old leather chesterfield in a room filled with 'rich mahogany", and I was sipping whisky, sitting there there, soaking up the atmosphere...this would be the whisky. I cant think of another whisky that has ever "transported" me somewhere, yet this has*. This is a very, very special whisky. After some time, the raisin/saltana taste comes through, and the smallest hint of smoke towards the end.
The 18yo is all about the spice, toffee and a hint of pear. A tasty drop, sure, but not a touch on the richness or complexity of the 40yo.

L: 12yo Glenfiddich (50mL): ~$7
R: 40yo Glenfiddich (15mL): ~$70

Finish: So incredibly long (I think it's still going as I write this). Oak and leather. Just incredible. A hint of peat too, as with the palate. I'm nosing the glass 25 minutes later and the nose still has all these characteristics.
The 18yo in comparison is over in the time it takes to read this sentence. Enough said.

Wow, there it goes - the most special whisky I've tried, ever. It's going to be a tough one to beat.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 98/100 (18yo: 93/100).

 - Martin.

*Actually I lie - there is one other whisky that instantly transports me somewhere, but for the wrong reasons. Ballantine's reminds me of my Schoolies cruise, over a decade ago (even the excellent 30yo, unfortunately, which to me still has that painfully obvious Ballentine's taste). 

Thursday 13 December 2012

Shirt Bar Scotch Club - Glenfiddich (December 2012)

Has it really been a month since the last Scotch Club? Time flies.

Shirt Bar's Scotch Clubs have been steadily growing in popularity in 2012, and the final event for the year was no exception. With not a single free seat in the house, everyone was keen to try the offerings from the most popular distillery in the world, specifically:

  • Glenfiddich 12yo Signature Malt
  • Glenfiddich 15yo Solera
  • Glenfiddich 15yo Distillery Edition
  • Glenfiddich 18yo Ancient Reserve
  • Glenfiddich 21yo Gran Reserva

Not a bad line-up - particularly for a Glenfiddich fan like me!

The night started with a "Glenfiddich cooler" cocktail (cue initial thoughts of 80s Bogans downing West Coast Coolers...) which turned out to be surprisingly good. Light, low on the alcohol and a touch of fruit which worked really well - a great palate cleanser. Then it was onto the reason we all came...

Shirt Bar's Scotch Clubs all follow the same basic premise (talk about how they whisky is made, where it's made, what affects the flavour, then taste it) but each has its unique differences. In this case, it was a funky interactive presentation including a detailed video tour of the Glenfiddich distillery. Sebastien, a friendly French bloke and William Grant & Son's local Glenfiddich Ambassador talked us through the tour and tasting, starting with the 12yo and working our way through to the 21yo.

We also got to take a whiff of new make Glenfiddich (which I've tried once before at the distillery - it tastes just like a very, very young 12yo!) and a few different barrel finishes of the 15 and 18 (it's amazing how different oak can drastically change the colour of two identically-aged whiskies).

So on with the tasting...

One thing I find about Glenfiddich is that although there's a huge variation between the different ages/releases, you can always tell a 'fiddich. The 12 year old showed the signature pear nose and taste, as expected with a shorter finish, with a hint of sweetness on the (smooth) palate. In the company of such esteemed whiskies it can be easy to write off a "standard" malt like the 12yo, but it's still a fantastic drop, and very smooth given its pricepoint (one reason I always recommend it as a great "starter" single malt). The finish is a little harsh, but not overly so, and only when compared with its more mature siblings... the 18 year old Ancient Reserve. A sweet cinnamon nose makes way for an equally sweet taste, but with plenty of spice. Cinnamon, toffee - less fruit than the 12yo (though still there), and more spice. A smoother, longer finish as expected.

The two 15 year olds were up next, and considering the similar lineage, are really very different. The 15 year old Solera showed the same sweetness as the 12yo, with more of a Christmas cake palate, and a slightly lengthier finish. The 51% non-chill filtered 15 year old Distillery Edition (a mixture of sherry and bourbon-aged 'fiddichs) however was all about the peppery, leathery palate. This easily had the most "presence" of all the whiskies we tasted, with a huge mouthfeel that lingered on and on. Cask strength whiskies (especially those like the 50.7% 1975 Private Vintage) can offering have an almost-overpowering palate due to the higher ABV. Not so with the Distillery Edition. To me, it was the perfect balance of big bold flavours without the harshness. My most memorable whisky of the night.

Lastly was the 21 year old Gran Reserva (which now comes in a much cooler package than the bottle I bought a few years ago). Interestingly, a few years ago this was known as the "Havana Reserve", but due to Cuban trade embargoes underwent a name change so it could be sold in the US. As the name implies, it's aged in Caribbean rum casks, and it shows. Sweet like the 15 and 18yo, but with a creamier, sticky pudding-like palate, and a long, smooth finish. I'm a big fan of sipping rums (Zacapa 23, Diplomatico to name a few) and if you look hard enough, you'll find similar tastes in the 21yo. A truly excellent whisky.

All up, a great night and an excellent Scotch Club on which to end the year. Glenfiddich is an approachable whisky and that was the approach the guys took to the night too. Sebastien and his colleague Mark were great to talk to and really made the night enjoyable (Mark also very kindly promised to send me a little taste of something special...whatever it is, a review will follow!).


PS: On a related note - I've just put in an order for the next Glenfiddich Age of Discovery (Bourbon finish) as well as the (apparently quite peated) 125th Anniversary special. Picking them up duty-free in early Jan, so look out for posts shortly after!

Thursday 6 December 2012

Tasted #4: Lagavulin 1995 Distiller's Edition (Pedro Ximénez Finish)

E.D.V isn't easy to find, but if you
head down Malthouse Ln in Melbourne's
CBD, and see this light, you're in the
right place
There's a little (read: massive) website over in the UK called Master of Malt who have an unbelievable selection of single malts, ship to Australia, and have very reasonable prices. Duty, shipping and import concerns aside, I've often thought about putting through an order, and top of my list will be the Laga '95 Distillers Edition (PX finish).

So when I saw it at E.D.V in Melbourne (sister bar to my favourite bar in the world, Eau de Vie in Sydney), I had to try it. The sweetness of Pedro Ximénez sherry, with the peatiness for which Lagavulin are famous? This had my name all over it.

As a bit of background, unlike some other distilleries, Lagavulin distinguish their "Distillers Editions" by the casks in which they're aged, rather than the strength at which they're bottled. In the case of the '95 (and others), the aging is done in ex-Spanish Pedro Ximénez (aka PX) sherry casks.

So how was it? As good as I thought! Read on...

Nose: Smoke/peat (yes this is still a Laga), but a hint of sweetness too. Call it raisins, caramel, whatever (actually, calling it PX sherry might be more accurate) - there's a definite whiff of sweetness.

Palate: Again, peat is dominant, but there's a definite sweet undertone. What the sweetness did for me was make the whisky much smoother. It's like a regular Laga, but much smoother and with a hint of sweetness, maybe toffee. A drop of water really accentuated the sweetness and toned down the peat too.

Finish: Long, lingering and smooth.

Ten word summary: Could sip this all night, but only if neat. Tasty.

I think I know what I'm buying myself for Christmas...

Friday 30 November 2012

World Class Australia 2013 - First Round Qualifier was lucky enough to be part of the Diageo Reserve World Class Australia 2013 First Round Qualifier last week, to experience 12 of Australia's best bartenders battling it out for 4 coveted positions in the 2013 Final.

Guests were asked to try 12 cocktails (3 from each category, based on Ketel One vodka, Tanqueray No. TEN gin, Bulleit bourbon and Ron Zacapa Rum) and vote for their favourite in each category via a clever passport (with voting slips) provided on entry.

We'll focus on the Bourbon cocktails (for obvious reasons), but to quickly cover a few standouts in the other categories:

  • Rob Libecans' "The Fly & The Loaf" Martini (Black Pearl, Melbourne) - Ketel One vodka, Lillet blanc, Liquor 43 vanilla liquor and reposado tequila. Served with carbonated grapes (which had to be tasted to be believed), this was not your usual Martini.
  • Andrew Bennett's "The Tanqueray Toffee Apple" (The Classroom, Perth) - Tanqueray No. TEN, apple cider reduction, grapefruit marmalade served with a toffee apple. Sweet and candy-like, exactly as the name implies.
  • Christian Blair's "Finca la Perla Zacapacino" (Eau de Vie, Sydney) - Ron Zacapa 23, coffee liquer, maple and chocolate bitters topped with aerated banana and toasted rice-infused tres leches sauce. We're big fans of Zacapa, but even we had no idea it was so versatile. An incredible cocktail.

Being a Whisk(e)y blog though, we (my wife and I) took particular note of the Bulleit cocktails - which were equal parts Americana, childhood memories and twisted classics.

First up (and our favourite) - Jessica Arnott of Gardels Bar's "1965 - An American Cocktail", which definitely wins the award for the best presentation. Created in the style of a Happy Meal, this wasn't just a cocktail, but a whole tray of goodies - including smoked peanut brittle, "Elvis" cake, and a toy (we got toy cars). The cocktail itself was made with Bulleit (duh), pumpkin-pie infused spirit, smoked maple syrup and chocolate bitters. Every bit a "Gardels' Bar" drink, if you've ever been. About as Rock-n-Roll as they come.

Next was Chris Hysted of Black Pearl's "The To-Go Drink" (sidenote - if you get the chance to try Chris' "Grounds for Divorce", do so. Talisker and Porter, with walnut liqeur and creme de cacao - magic.) Chris explained that the famous "Flip" class of cocktails was the partial inspiration for this, coupled with his experiences in New Orleans where cocktails could be taken on the trip home, "to go". Bulleit, spiced apple, vermouth and almond, this was a tasty number, made all the more fun by the fact that any onlookers would simply think you're drinking a takeaway espresso! Full marks for ingenuity.

Lastly was Tim Laferla of Mechanic's Institute's "A Diplomatic Resolution" - a heady number with Bulleit, cranberries, spice and "whiskey barrel smoke", pumped over the cocktails with a smoking gun (something I hope to have of my own soon!) I love a smokey cocktail, and an unexpectedly smokey cocktail even more so, so this was a winner in our books.

After guests had tried all 12 cocktails, the night ended with the lucky door prizes (in which yours truly won the above bottle of Zacapa!) and the announcement of the winners, namely:

  • Ketel One: Luke Ashton (The Roosevelt, Sydney)
  • Tanqueray No. TEN: Krystal Hart (Canvas, Brisbane)
  • Bulleit: Jessica Arnott (Gardels Bar, Sydney); and
  • Ron Zacapa 23: Christian Blair (Eau de Vie, Sydney).

All up, a fantastic night, and we can't wait for Round 2 in 2013! 

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Tasted #3: Glenfiddich 18yo

Continuing on from the 1975 Private Vintage tasting, here's the second in my series of Glenfiddich "Tasted" posts.

Glenfiddich 18yo Ancient Reserve - a staple of the 'fiddich lineup for quite some time now. Not necessarily an everyday drinking whisky at $125AUD, but if you happen to be in a bar that serves it, you may find it's barely more expensive than the standard 12yo. I know of at least one bar that for a long while, was charging $12 for a Glenfiddich 12yo, $12 for a Glenfiddich 15yo, and $13 for the 18yo. $1 well spent if you ask me.

Anyway, we'll keep this one short, so on with the tasting...

Glenfiddich 18yo Ancient Reserve (43% ABV, batch 3301, $125AUD)
There's a subtle nose on the 18yo, but it's clearly a 'fiddich - sweetness with a hint of spice. On tasting, there's a big spicy first taste, which lingers to the very end. . If the 1975 is all about sweet nuttiness, this is all about spiciness. One standout characteristic is the short finish, especially in comparison to the (significantly older) 1975.

There's more subtlety  here than with the '75 - largely I imagine due to the lower ABV. The flavour does open up significantly with a drop of water, which may or may not be to your taste (I recommend trying every whisky with a drop of water at least once - especially non-chill filtered whiskies, if for no other reason than to see the  cloudy effect!).

Overall this is a solid Glenfiddich. If you're a fan of the distinct Glenfiddich taste, you'll find the 18yo a subtler, smoother version of the ever-popular 12yo. Highly recommended.

Rating: 93/100

 - Martin.

Monday 19 November 2012

Tasted #2: Glenfiddich Private Vintage 1975 (Cathay Pacific)

As promised, this is the first in my series of Glenfiddich "Tasted" posts.

A few years after starting to collect Glenfiddich, I was flying to Hong Kong for work and noticed the in-flight magazine had an interesting bottle of Glenfiddich - a 1975 Private Vintage (no age listed), bottled from a single cask exclusively for Cathay Pacific.

Being a fan of Glenfiddich and interesting/rare spirits in general, I decided it would make a nice addition to the collection and ordered a bottle for my return flight. It was also significantly cheaper than other Private Vintage Glenfiddich releases (like this 31yo 1975 release for $600), at around $220AUD.

The bottle didn't list an age (nor did any of the documentation), and while it was obviously  "old", I was curious how old. I sent off an e-mail and got a reply a week or so later from Ian Millar (Glenfiddich's global brand ambassador), confirming it was bottled in 2007, making it a 32 year old Glenfiddich.

So on with the tasting...

Glenfiddich Private Vintage 1975 - Specially selected for Cathay Pacific (50.7% ABV, 700mL, 32yo)
Surprisingly sweet on both nosing and first taste. The first whiff confirms it's clearly a higher ABV than regular (12, 15, 18 etc..) Glenfiddich, and the taste confirms it. At 50.7%, it's almost bang on-par with Glenfiddich's cask strength 15yo Distillery Edition. This isn't a subtle whisky.

The sweet start turns into a complex, nutty taste, that sticks around for an incredibly long finish. I tasted this alongside a Glenfiddich 18yo (itself a great drop - tasting to be posted shortly) and what really struck me was just how long the 1975 lingered compared to the 18. The thing is - long after finishing the last sip, the main thing I remember is the alcohol strength, rather than any subtleties of flavour.

So, is it a good drop? Yes, absolutely. Is it an interesting, well-presented Glenfiddich you'd be happy to display? Yep again. Is it the best Glenfiddich I've ever tasted? No, to be honest I think I prefer the Age of Discovery 19yo Madeira finish (tasting to be posted shortly).

Rating: 91/100


 - Martin.

Thursday 15 November 2012

Shirt Bar Scotch Club - Woodford Reserve (November 2012)

Scotch Club at Shirt Bar - a brilliant concept where every month or so, a bunch of like-minded spirits fans get together to taste dark spirits (usually Scotch, but occasionally rum, Australian whisky, or in the case of this Scotch Club - Bourbon whiskey). Usually led by a Brand Ambassador or the distillers themselves, they're informative sessions where attendees get to not only taste some top-shelf and often rare spirits, but also learn the inner secrets of distillation, and sometimes taste the product during its lifecycle (and then soak it all up with a pies, quiches, and a generous platter of breads/cheeses/olives and dips!).

Woodford Reserve was this month's focus, led by spirits guru and Brown Forman / Woodford Reserve Brand Ambassador Stuart.

Walking in and seeing only three empty seats (ours - apologies to Adam and Stuart for being late!), it was clear this was going to be a popular Scotch Club. It wasn't hard to see why either - with a  set of 6 tasting glasses in front of every seat, AND a 50mL take-home WR Distiller's Select for everyone.

Bourbon fans would probably be familiar with the regular WR (Distiller's Select), but rest of the range is rarely seen in Australia (typically limited to specialist shops like World of Whisky in Double Bay), so it was a treat to not only try 4 of the rarer releases, but also some fresh-off-the-still new make (aka "White Dog").

All up, we tasted:
  • Woodford Reserve new make ("White Dog")
  • Woodford Reserve Distiller's Select
  • Woodford Reserve Master's Collection Seasoned Oak Finish
  • Woodford Reserve Master's Collection Maple Wood Finish
  • Woodford Reserve Master's Collection Aged Cask Rye 
  • Woodford Reserve Master's Collection New Cask Rye

Woodford Reserve new make ("White Dog")
If you've tried new make before, you'll probably know what I'm about to say. A pure expression of the ingredients that go into the basic "spirit" (it's not a bourbon yet at this point), new make is crystal-clear and comes fresh off the still, before being placed into barrels for aging. It's potent, has a somewhat ethanol scent, and usually pretty rough (although in this case, surprisingly smooth). You wouldn't want to drink it every day, but it's worth trying at least once.

Woodford Reserve Distiller's Select (46.2% ABV)
It's amazing what 7 years of sitting in a barrel can do. Smooth, honey notes replace the harsh, raw taste of the new make. This is something you can easily drink every day.

Woodford Reserve Master's Collection Seasoned Oak Finish (50.2% ABV)
Woodford Reserve Master's Collection Maple Wood Finish (50.2% ABV)
Woodford talk about the "5 sources of flavour" (grain, water, fermentation, distillation, and maturation) and change just one of these for each of their MC releases. For these two  it's the maturation - aged for an extra 2 years (total 9 years), and in seasoned oak and maple wood barrels respectively. The Seasoned Oak has a deep mahogany colour and spice comes through clearly in both nosing and tasting, whereas the Maple Wood (to me at least) had strong leather characteristics. Both brilliant bourbons you could happily sip and savour all night long.

Aged Cask - you can see
how light it is due to being
aged in used barrels.
Woodford Reserve Master's Collection Aged Cask Rye (46.2% ABV)
Woodford Reserve Master's Collection New Cask Rye (46.2% ABV)
These were interesting - sold as a pack of 2 x 350mL bottles, these 100% rye whiskies only differ by the type of cask they're aged in. Hearing "100% rye" I was expecting something pretty overpowering, but was surprised at just how drinkable these were neat (at around $250AUD/pack, you probably wouldn't be mixing too many cocktails with them...). Smooth, rounded, and with none of that harsh bite you can get with some ryes. Opinions around the room were pretty evenly split as to the preferred rye - for me it was the Aged Cask.

Before finishing the night we were given a few interesting facts about Woodford Reserve, including:
  • ABVs all end in 0.2% (see above)
  • WR actually make their own barrels; and
  • Barrels are stored in temperature-controlled warehouses, which are purposely heated and cooled during the aging process.
All up a fantastic combination of great whiskey, great food and great conversation. I highly recommend checking out both Woodford Reserve and the next Scotch Club if you haven't yet!

 - Martin.

PS: Google also tells me Australia is shortly getting the next MC release - "Four Wood". Can't wait to try it!

Monday 12 November 2012

The Glenfiddich Collection

It was Glenfiddich that got me into single malt whisky in the first place, and while my tastes have branched out since (especially in the direction of Islay), I still count Glenfiddich amongst my favourite.

Looking at my spirits cabinet the other day, I realised I've amassed a bit of a Glenfiddich collection (including a few that aren't too common in Australia) and figured they'd form a good basis for an on-going series of blog posts. The collection (mostly collected during travels) currently has 13 bottles:

  • Glenfiddich 12yo
  • Glenfiddich 12yo Coaran Reserve
  • Glenfiddich 12yo Toasted Oak
  • Glenfiddich 15yo
  • Glenfiddich 15yo Distillery Edition
  • Glenfiddich 18yo
  • Glenfiddich Age of Discovery Madeira Cask 19yo
  • Glenfiddich 21yo
  • Glenfiddich 1975 Private Vintage for Cathay Pacific (32yo)
  • Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix
  • Glenfiddich Malt Master Edition Sherry Cask
  • Glenfiddich Cask of Dreams 2011 Limited Release
  • Glenfiddich Malt Whisky Liqueur (not pictured)

So mixed in with all my other posts over the next few months, I plan to include "Tasted" posts for all the above Glenfiddichs. Nothing too formal - really it's just an excuse for me to break them out and try them (some of them haven't been touched for a few years)!

 - Martin.

PS: I'll update this post with links to specific "Tasted" posts once they're up.

Sunday 4 November 2012

Infusions: Banana Jack Daniels

Step into a number of cocktail bars around the world these days and you'll be greeted with a list of spirits you probably never knew existed. Bacon Maker's Mark? Popcorn Goslings? Earl Gray Hendricks? Raspberry Tanqueray? Banana Jack Daniels? Welcome to the fun and experimental world of infusions.

Infusions are, in a nutshell, the mixing of a flavour with a spirit. They can be done in a number of ways depending on the ingredient - either by simply soaking the ingredient in the spirit for a number of hours/days, or by fat washing, whereby the fat from the ingredient (say lamb, duck or bacon) is infused with the spirit. Once the infusing is done, usually all that's left to do is strain, bottle and enjoy!

About a year ago I was at Gardel's Bar in Sydney (part of the excellent Porteño restaurant) and noticed they had a "Banana Old Fashioned" on the menu, made with Banana-infused Jack Daniels. Intrigued by the idea and blown away by the taste (and having a mostly-full bottle of JD at home), I was keen to give it a go. The bartender told me all I needed to do was soak some bananas in JD for a few days, strain it out, and I was good to go.

I should have asked which type of bananas...

After 5 days, I ended up with some incredibly alcoholic bananas, and about 30mL of banana-infused JD. The bananas had soaked up pretty much all the JD, leaving me with practically nothing. Squeezing, mashing, straining the bananas did nothing but make a horrible mess either.  I enjoyed the nip and resigned myself to the fact that the bananas had stolen my JD.

Fast forward about 6 months, I was chatting to a bartender at Newtown's great little Corridor Bar, who told me the trick was to use dried organic bananas. Not banana chips, but dried whole bananas. I rang a few Sydney organic shops and tracked them down at Taste Organic in Crows Nest, NSW ("Organic Mountain" brand if anyone is interested).

I cut them in half (each is about as big as an index finger), popped them in a container, poured JD over them (only 250mL at first, in case this attempt also failed) and let it sit for 5 days. I decided to use JD 1907 White Label, because it's about $10 cheaper than JD (good for if you're not too confident), and I figured the slightly lesser ABV (37%) might help the banana taste shine through.

Success! After a taste test confirmed this was very much banana JD, I gave it a quick strain (first with a colander, then with and funnel and cheesecloth), then poured in back into the bottle. Repeating the process with the remaining 500mL, I had an (almost) full bottle about 4 days later (the bananas still soaked up about 20-25% of the JD).

So - what to do with it now? I'd love to hear suggestions anyone has. Regular maple syrup with a few dashes of bitters seems to work pretty well, but I'm always open to ideas!

 - Martin.

Monday 29 October 2012

Tasted #1: Hellyers Rd (Tasmania, Australia) - Original and Peated

Hellyers Rd - Original and Peated
Hellyers Road Distillery, based in Tasmania, Australia, bill themselves as "Australia's largest distiller of Australian single malt whisky". Part of a growing and highly praised Australian whisky industry, Hellyers Road (like a lot of other Tasmanian distilleries) produce a number of whiskies, liquers and even vodka.

It's the whisky we're here to taste today though - specifically the "Original" and "Peated" varieties.

It could be said that the bottles, labels (and names for that matter) aren't the most original, but consistency has to count for something, and besides - it's what's inside that counts right? So on with the tasting...

Original (46.2% ABV, 700mL, $80.50AUD)
I've always found Australian whiskies to have a unique taste. It's hard to put my finger on, and it's not something I've ever noticed in whiskies from any other region (except NZ), but it's a sweet, distinctive taste which (to me at least) instantly identifies an Aussie whisky. Coconut perhaps? Anyway, to me Hellyers Rd has that taste in spades (not dissimilar to the standard offerings from other Australian distilleries like Lark and Sullivans Cove).

The ABV content feels spot on - not overpowering, but not underwhelming either. A nicely balanced, easy-drinking whisky. If you've never tried Australian whisky before (and I suggest you do!), it would be an excellent place to start.

Rating: 88/100.

Peated (46.2% ABV, 700mL, $86AUD)
The Peated variety, on the other hand, has none of the standard "Australian" taste mentioned above. It's almost like they've taken out that taste (whatever it is), and replaced it with smoke/peat. Not to an overpowering extent, but peat is definitely the dominant characteristic.

I found this one to have a relatively short finish, unlike some Islay peat monsters which can linger around long after the dram is gone. If you enjoy a cigar with your whisky, this would be a match made in heaven (Dalmore's Cigar Malt Reserve was actually developed with a particularly short finish to allow it to be enjoyed with a cigar. I found this somewhat similar.)

If you're a fan of Islay whiskies (which I very much am), you'll probably really enjoy this. It's the right balance of flavour, smoke, and it's great to see an Aussie distillery mixing it up a bit.

Rating: 92/100.

 - Martin.

Monday 22 October 2012

Welcome to "Time for Whisky"!

 "Time for Whisky" was born out of the love of sharing a dram, talking about a dram, laughing over a dram, and exploring different whisky styles, regions and stories. It'll cover what's on my shelf, what I've been trying in bars, whisky events, simple tasting thoughts, whisky news, and anything else whisky-related.

What "Time for Whisky" won't cover is complex tasting notes that you can't follow or sound down-right absurd. You won't hear about a whisky that "reminds one of a Tuesday morning in Spring with an Easterly breeze blowing" or that "smells like two wet dogs playing in a park" (thanks to the hilarious James Buntin for that last one), but you might for example hear how I think the Glenfiddich AoD 19yo Madeira finish is a nicer, more complex and significantly cheaper dram than the Glenfiddich 21yo (itself an excellent drop).

So anyway, why this blog? As a regular business traveller, I often found myself with a 2.25L alcohol limit when returning to Australia and  uncertainty over what to spend it on (those of you who have purchased alcohol in Australia will understand why I was keen to maximise the allowance!)

Not content to simply stock up on 1.125L bottles of Johnnie Red like the majority of travellers, I started exploring the world of Single Malt Scotch whiskies - first with Speyside/Highland options, then branching out into Islay, Japanese and even Australian whiskies.

At last count I had 43 different bottles of whisky/whiskey, covering Scotland, Ireland, Japan, India, USA and of course Australia. I love nothing more than sharing a dram with my wife or mates, but figured - why not share them with a broader audience? Not literally of course, but through blogging.

...and so that's my plan. This blog will cover simple tasting thoughts for various whiskies I already own, as well as:
Enjoy (and please let me know if you have any feedback)! Thanks for reading.

Note: This blog is intended for those who are of legal drinking age in the country in which they reside (in Australia, 18 years and older). This blog exists only to give my personal opinions on all things whisky, and does not constitute legal advice, suggestion or otherwise. If you are not of legal drinking age, please do not read this blog. Thanks.