Wednesday 28 October 2015

Kininvie 23 year old Australian Launch party (Tasted #221 - 224) (#101drams)

We have a soft spot for William Grant & Sons here at TimeforWhisky - not only for the great range of whiskies they put out, nor because of the fantastic events they run, but because of the truly awesome people who make up the brand. So it goes without saying that when an invite arrived for the launch of the 23 year old in Sydney, at a time I was actually going to be in Sydney, I was going to be there without hesitation. The fact that it would be the first whisky event that both Hendy and I would cover jointly just made it even better.

Kininvie has been a distillery of personal interest to me for years. Back in 2009 when I was starting my whisky adventures, dad and I toured Glenfiddich, and learnt about Kininvie, which began distilling in 1990 and, at the time of our tour, was only available as a single malt to a select few (distillery workers, or those who paid a pretty penny for a bottle on the secondhand market). When I started my #101drams charitable challenge, a Kininvie had to feature.

Fast forward a few years to 2013, and Kininvie was released as a commercial (albeit still reclusive) single malt. Available as a 17 year old in the travel retail market, and a 23yo (in very limited quantities) in Taiwan, word quietly spread that Glenfiddich and Balvenie had a sibling, which neatly nestled in between the two both physically and in terms of flavour profile.

(I have to be honest here - despite being on my #101drams list, I actually tried Kininvie 23 year old Batch 001 exactly 12 months ago, thanks to the very generous folks at Whisky+Alement in Melbourne, but hadn't yet added the tasting notes to the blog. I've included them at the bottom of this post, along with the Batch #003, which is the release recently launched in Australia.)

The theme of "reclusiveness" was to feature heavily throughout the night, starting with the choice of venue - Magazin. The brainchild of the team behind Grasshopper (Sydney's first Small Bar), the underground private members' bar, located on Darlinghurst's William St, is known (or rather not known) as one of Sydney's most reclusive and exclusive bars. Just don't call it a speakeasy (truly, think classy, futuristic underground cocktail den with a smart layout and quality, modern finishings).

Upon entering the bar, we were handed a delicious Old Fashioned (made with Monkey Shoulder and chocolate bitters), and were warmly greeted by Laura and Mark of William Grant & Sons, who were hosting the night. A brief glance at the menu revealed a few goodies in store - including two single cask Kininvies.

After greetings and our fantastically-chocolatey cocktails, it was time for Laura to introduce the crowd to Kininvie, which William Grant & Sons designed to give grassy and floral notes, to provide a malt whose profile nestled neatly between the fruitier Glenfiddich, and the richer, more honied Balvenie. Laura also explained that Kinivie (whose stillhouse is also physically nestled in between Glenfiddich and Balvenie) means "end of the field", and was a personal favourite of Janet Sheed Roberts, granddaughter of William Grant, and who lived to the ripe old age of 110.

The Kininvie stillhouse - taken during Steph's and my visit to Balvenie in July this year.

Before long, drams were handed out (along with matched canapés) and it was time to start tasting...

Kininvie 1999 single cask American Oak (55.7% ABV, 15 to 16yo, Speyside, Scotland, not commercially available)
Nose: Light and floral, with a slight earthiness.
Palate: Citrusy-zing initially, with some contrasting meaty BBQ notes. Sweet. A drop of water toned down the sweetness and amped up the earthy notes.
Finish: Long, meaty and earthy
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100. It's pretty special to be able to try a Kininvie, let alone a single cask Kininvie. Off to a good start!

Kininvie 1990 single cask European Oak ex-sherry cask (59% ABV, 24 to 25yo, Speyside, Scotland, not commercially available)
Nose: A lovely sherry bomb. Rich red berries and Christmas cake, with some hints of furniture polish and the same earthiness from the 1999.
Palate: Citrusy still, but more oranges and tangerines this time. Still very earthy. Cherries and some cocoa. Coffee and more Christmas cake.
Finish: Medium to long with Brazil nuts and cocoa.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 93/100. Interestingly, this reminded me a LOT of a very heavily sherried cask-strength 11yo Yamazaki single cask I tried recently.

After a short break and a dram of the 17yo Kininvie, it was time to try the whisky we were all at Magazin to celebrate - the Kininvie 23 year old Batch #003.

Kininvie 23 Batch #003 1991 (42.6% ABV, 23yo, Speyside, Scotland, $210AUD / £120)
Nose: Sweet toffee apples and some vanilla. This has definitely had a fair bit of American Oak maturation.
Palate: Smooth. Sweet toffee apples dipped in rich caramel. A hint of oak.
Finish: Short to medium, with notes of toffee apples to the end.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100. A lovely dessert whisky.

So how did the Batch #001, tasted 12 months ago to the day, compare?

Kininvie 23 Batch #001 1990 (42.6% ABV, 23yo, Cask #4107, Speyside, Scotland, no longer available) - tasted in October 2014.
Colour: Orange gold
Nose: Slightly more Glenfiddich than Balvenie, with citrus, pears, orange peels, boiled lollies, and after time, stronger apples and pears.
Palate: Orange marmalade on burnt toast. Spicy (paprika). Nutty.
Finish: Long, drying and tannic. Spice, pepper and tabasco.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 90/100.

With the tasting officially over, it was time to catch up with the many Sydney whisky folk I used to see regularly, but now hadn't seen in over a year. A really great night spent enjoying a rare and little-known whisky in the perfect setting.

Kininvie 23 Batch #003 is available in Australia at specialist bottle shops, priced at $210AUD (350mL bottle). If you miss out on getting a bottle in Australia, we notice Master of Malt still have both Batch #002 and #003 releases available (the latter by the dram too), as well as the older Hazelwood 105.

Martin (words) & Hendy (photos).

Thursday 22 October 2015

Happy (3rd) Birthday to us!

It's somewhat hard for me to believe, but it was 3 years ago to the day that the first TimeforWhisky post was made. I won't say it seems like yesterday, but it certainly seems like less than 3 years ago...

In those three years we've:
Most importantly though, we've made some incredible friends across the world and shared some amazing drams, and, hopefully, brought you some enjoyable, light-hearted posts along the way.

So, a huge thanks to you all for reading this site, posting comments, engaging with us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram and giving us the motivation to keep going over the past 3 years, and no doubt for many more to come!

Steph, Hendy & Martin.

This week in whisk(e)y #24 - Laphroaig 32yo launches, Suntory "Ice Sculptures by the Sea", Glenfiddich Future Pioneer competition 2015 winner

As you might know if you read this blog regularly, we get a fair few interesting press releases and news articles here at TimeforWhisky, and usually try to feature them with our own spin, experiences or comments. Sometimes though, they come thick and fast, and we just don't have time to do them all justice.

So we've decided to take a leaf out of some other excellent whisky blogs, and feature a "PR roundup" every now and then - basically a wrap-up of relevant press releases we've received in the previous week or so (including other interesting whisk(e)y news Steph, Hendy & or I think you might enjoy). So on with it then...

Laphroaig releases a 32 year old Original Bottling
With a few exceptions, you don't see a whole lot of seriously-aged Islay whiskies around these days, at least not compared to the likes of some Speyside distilleries where 40+, even 50 year old whiskies are released every few years, if not more often. Which makes this new Laphroaig 32 year old bottling all the more special...
"Only 100 cases will be available in Australia from 28th October 2015, with the deep mahogany whisky, reminiscent of Christmas fruitcake, coming just in time for the festivities. Retailing at AU$1500 a bottle, the 32 Year Old is for whisky lovers who want to savour a once in a lifetime moment.

The rare bottle of Laphroaig has acquired a rounded character and exceptional smoothness after lying in the finest ex-Oloroso casks for 32 long years.

The celebrations continue, with the November release of the annual Cairdeas. Each year Master Distiller, John Campbell, handcrafts a limited edition malt to celebrate friendship (“Cairdeas“ in Gaelic). At 51.5% ALC., the Cairdeas is produced from Laphroaig’s finest floor malting’s malt, distilled using only the smaller stills and fully matured in the famous No 1 warehouse, right by the sea. Cairdeas 2015 is John Campbell’s interpretation of how Laphroaig would have been produced at the distillery 200 years ago.

Available from 28th October in selected Dan Murphy’s and independent retailers."

Given the limited nature of this release, and the fact that it has already sold out at Master of Malt in the UK, it's fair to say this one probably won't last long.

Ice Sculptures by the Sea with Suntory Whisky
As Sydney heats up the Suntory events continue - this time at Bondi's Neighbourhood bar, tied in with "Sculptures by the Sea":

"The Japanese are known for their love of beauty, and Suntory Whisky is no different. Suntory Whisky embodies the Art of Japanese Whisky, going so far as to create laser cut ice sculptures for their whisky.
In celebration of art, and the Sculptures by the Sea Exhibition, Suntory Whisky are teaming up with Neighbourhood Bondi to offer art and whisky enthusiasts an opportunity to learn to hand carve their very own whisky ice sphere.

Running on Thursday evenings at 6.30pm and 7.30pm during the exhibition, guests will learn the art of ice carving with Suntory Whisky Ambassadors, before enjoying Suntory Whisky Japanese Harmony over their creation along with canapés and Kakubin Highballs.

Dates: Thursdays 22nd & 27th October and 5th November.

$25 ticket includes hands on lesson in ice carving, Japanese Harmony nip, canapés and a Suntory Kakubin Highball.

Tickets strictly limited. Book through"

Black Pearl's Luke Sanderson crowned the 2015 Glenfiddich Future Pioneer
A few years ago we attended the first Glenfiddich Pioneer's cocktail competition. 2015's winner has just been announced, and as in previous years, a cocktail recipe book will follow.

"Glenfiddich is proud to announce Luke Sanderson from the Black Pearl in Melbourne with his mentor Orlando Marzo from Dinner by Heston Blumenthal as the winners of the 2015 Glenfiddich Future Pioneers Competition.
The National final took place on Monday October 12, where the five finalists were bought to Sydney and caught seaplanes to one of the city’s hidden gems – Peat’s Bite on the Hawkesbury River to battle it out for the coveted prize.
Launched in 2013, the Glenfiddich Future Pioneers Cocktail Competition is a nationwide search for the best of Australia’s up and coming bartenders who hadn’t previously placed in a national competition.
Each team was charged with creating cocktails for the judging panel made up of their fellow competitors, they were then flown back to Sydney where the winners were announced at a private dinner at Sydney’s iconic Quay restaurant.
As Glenfiddich is a family owned and run business, in the state finals mixologists from around the country were asked to create a Glenfiddich cocktail inspired by a family member. The cocktails had to be one that is an easy to prepare using Glenfiddich 12 Year Old cocktail using no more than four commonly found ingredients, and was prepared for a panel of mentors which included some of Australia’s most respected bar tending talent.
Luke Sanderson and Orlando Marzo’s prize includes a trip to the Glenfiddich distillery in Scotland. Hugh Taylor and Martin Lange who finished in second place, will join the Glenfiddich team on a pioneering airboat in Kakadu in early 2016.
All [finalist] cocktails will be put into a recipe book that will be released into the off trade during the New Year."

Thats all for this week. Until next time...


Wednesday 14 October 2015

Glenfiddich Artists in Residence and interview with Lead Curator, Andy Fairgrieve

Last month, the 2015 Sydney Contemporary International Art Fair was held over five days at Carriageworks, south east of the CBD. The fair presented curated arts and collections from various local and international galleries, showcasing contemporary artefacts from photographs, sculptures, paintings, prints to modern, dynamic audio-visual animations and installations.


There were many artefacts being exhibited - in fact, over 30,000 artefacts were being exhibited at the fair, also available for sale (for the right price). Personally, two striking highlights for me were the Golden Teardrop (Pyramid) by Arin Rungjang (above) and the MDF and LED installations by Jason Sims of Mars Galleries (below).


" what does this have to do with Whisky?" we hear you ask. Well, Glenfiddich was also present at the 'Fair' to host both a swanky bar, and also the Glenfiddich Artists in Residence Competition. 

The Glenfiddich Artists in Residence Competition first began in Scotland in 2002 and opened to Australian residents for the first time this year. The competition provides the winning artist with the opportunity to reside at the Glenfiddich distillery for 3 months, to be inspired and to be mentored by the Glenfiddich Artists in Residence Curator, Andy Fairgrieve.

A panel of judges led by Andy that included representations from the Sydney Contemporary International Art Fair Advisory Council was tasked with selecting the winner of the competition. As we highlighted in our recent This Week in Whisky post, dual Blackheath and Bondi resident Joan Ross was selected by the panel as the winner of the competition for her work titled 'I Have Your Cake and I'm Eating it too' (pictured below).

We spoke to Andy Fairgrieve about the competition, and the development of the Artists in Residence program by Glenfiddich.

Can you please briefly describe how you fell in love or how you managed to get involved with contemporary art?

My arts background is not exactly orthodox, I did spend a good few years after school working as a layout artist on magazines for a large publishing company in Dundee, but I have spent as many years working on farms and as a self employed building contractor. My last job before joining Glenfiddich was working at a historical interpretation centre covering the pre history of North east Scotland from late Mesolithic to early Roman period. I have a Masters degree in cultural history and I play drums in a punk band, I like things that make me think.

My road into the world of whisky and contemporary art might have been pretty random but then it is a very unique role overseeing the creation of new art at a working distillery so understanding of the creative process as well as the practical skill to make it happen are important factors.

How did you get involved with the Glenfiddich Artist in Residence program? Looking back, is the program anything like what you had expected at the start?

While I was studying at Aberdeen University I took a summer job at Duff House in the coastal town of Banff, which is home to a large historical collection of art and serves as a northern outpost of the Scottish National Galleries in Edinburgh. It also has a wing dedicated to touring exhibitions of contemporary art. This led to further part time work with a local art organisation called Deveron Arts based in Huntly, who in turn were given the consultancy to run the Glenfiddich programme when it was being set up in 2002. Given the programme was initially only to run as a pilot for the first year, the fact that it is still going strong and entering its 15th year is almost beyond any expectation!

What inspired the development of the Artist in Residence program by Glenfiddich?

The inspiration and indeed continued appetite for the residency programme is rooted in the fact that Glenfiddich is a family owned and run company. It was our late chairman Charles Gordon who first suggested that William Grant and Sons should look to build a collection of art and it was his nephew Peter Gordon who refined the idea of the residency programme.

They chose to take on all the built in challenges of engaging with artists directly by inviting them to live and work at The Glenfiddich Distillery. These artists would be not be producing the type of art that might be expected for a Single Malt Whisky Brand - i.e. traditional heather and weather, were both incredibly bold choices and are what makes this programme so exciting and dynamic. This confidence is continued through in that the programme is non prescriptive in what should be produced. At Glenfiddich we aim not just to provide time and space to artists but freedom as well.

From your experience in mentoring many artists through the Dufftown Distillery doors since the Residence began, what messages can you share with potential artists out there or those that simply love contemporary art?

Embrace experience and embrace it often.

What can we expect from the upcoming Glenfiddich Artist in Residence exhibitions across Scotland, India, China Taiwan, Canada and Korea?

The weekend will see the final exhibition of the summer at Glenfiddich; one of the two artists exhibiting is Krupa Makhija who has been collecting what she terms as architectural trash from Balvenie House, which at one time was home to William Grant and his family. It is now a derelict shell but will remain so for not much longer as a major renovation project has just begun to restore it to its former glory.

Krupa has managed to salvage some artefacts such as light fittings and bell pulls which will be worked into an installation alongside fragments of old photographs showing the house and its inhabitants reproduced on chunks of plaster from the wall of the house itself. Krupa shall also be showing works in her first solo show at Art District 13 in Delhi next summer as the follow up to her time at Glenfiddich. 

In early November Su Chang shall be exhibiting works inspired and informed from his summer here at Glenfiddich at the Don Gallery in Shanghai, and the following weekend in Taipei Chang Huei-ming opens his post residency exhibition at IT Park.

Finally, with all the lovely Glenfiddich expressions that you have sampled, any expression you prefer, and why?

For me it has to be the Glenfiddich 15 year old, the rich fruit and honey notes from the sherry butts it is matured in is enriched through our solar process which just finishes all the warm flavours off perfectly.

Thanks to Andy for taking the time to talk to us. As Andy noted, "embrace experience and embrace it often".

Hendy would like to thank Teresa of Agent 99 for arranging this Q&A with Glenfiddich Artists in Residence Curator, Andy Fairgrieve.

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Whisky Live Tokyo 2015 (Part 1): Whisky Live Tokyo Party

It was only a few months ago that the stars aligned and I ended up in London (on a short work trip) at the same time as Whisky Live London 2015. Fast forward to September, and I again found myself on a work trip that also conveniently coincided with another Whisky Live - Tokyo, this time. 

(This might not seem overly strange, if it wasn't for the fact that I don't work in the spirits or whisky industry at all - this blog is just a hobby through which I can indulge my passion...)

Unlike previous years, when it was part of the Tokyo Bar Show (which we also visited this year), Whisky Live Tokyo stood on its own for 2015. After some help from the friendly Stefan of Nonjatta, I finally learned that the event actually comprised two parts:

Tickets were hastily purchased, and the countdown began...

Whisky Live Party Tokyo 2015
Being a convenient 30 second walk from my hotel, I made my way over to the Park Hotel just before the show was due to begin, and did a lap to see what was on offer. The best way to describe the party would be like a smaller, more intimate whisky show. 200 people and 70 different whiskies, in a quieter, more refined setting.

After being handed a Brew Dog palate cleanser (side note: Japan seems to love Brew Dog!) and my sheet of 20 tokens, the first bottle I noticed was an Ichiro's Malt "Cards Series" Hanyu Colour Joker - a vatting of Hanyus from 1985-2000. Despite quite a few bottles (3,690 to be precise) being produced, these bottles are still highly collectible and fetch a pretty penny at auction. Fair to say this one wasn't going to last long...

A few other gems I spotted before the official opening were a 42yo WM Cadenhead indepedent bottling from The Glenlivet, a fair selection of SMWS bottles, the 2014 Yamazaki Mizunara, and plenty more. Soon enough it was time to start sampling.

Unsurprisingly about 8 minutes into the party, the Colour Joker (costing 7 of our 20 tokens) was empty. I'd tried it a few months earlier, but couldn't resist another dram so made sure I got in early. With big creamy orange notes on the nose and toasted oak, leather and red berry compote on the palate, it was as enjoyable as I'd remembered.

Next up was the 42yo The Glenlivet from WM Cadenhead, who were well represented at both the party and the show the next day. At 40.2% ABV, it's fair to say this one may not have seen it's 43rd birthday had it stayed in the barrel, but 42yo is still a mighty impressive feat nonetheless. With ripe peaches on the nose and an oaky, thin and smooth body, it was an enjoyable dram but nothing overly special - somewhat typical of the majority of well-aged (40yo +) independent bottlings we've come across.

By this point I'd run out of my 20 tokens, so quickly purchased another 10 (2000yen - approx $22AUD / $130HKD) which led me to the 2014 Sherry Cask release from Hakushu. I did find the number of tokens a little stingy (especially when considering the event didn't include a take-home glass, OR any included food), but I guess there were some pretty special drams on offer, and they had to ration them somehow.

Steph and I tried the Yamazaki 2014 Sherry Cask back in December last year (at the bargain price of about $3AUD / $17HKD for a dram - thanks Japan!) so I was keen to see how the earthier Hakushu spirit fared in similar maturation. Turns out - very well. Truly an excellent sherry bomb, with plenty of rich fruity Christmas cake notes whilst retaining that trademark earthy characteristic.

After a few more drams, and a chat with the legends from Melbourne's Whisky + Alement who were also in town, it was time to hear from our host for the night - whisky legend Dave Broom. Dave (donning a kilt, of course) gave a brief overview of what he's been up to, having not been to Japan in 2 years, then introduced the guests for the night - Akuto-san (Chichibu master distiller and industry legend), Fukuya-san (Suntory Chief Blender and the man responsible for Hibiki), Sakuma-san (Nikka chief blender), and Tanaka-san of Fuji Gotemba / Kirin.

Each briefly discussed the event, the Japanese whisky scene and their own whiskies, and engaged in a brief Q&A with Dave. When finished, we realised time was quickly running out to use our left over tokens (this was a 2 hour party after all, not an all-day show).

With remaining tokens in hands, it was off to the Nikka table to try a limited 21yo Port Wood Taketsuru blend released for the 80th Anniversary in 2014. With a sweet madeira nose (with hints of sweet pastries and icing), a big smoky palate with caramel and strawberry notes, and a long smoky finish with lingering demerara sugar hints, this was a surprising and enjoyable blend.

Time was almost up, but I managed to sneak a few final drams including a unique (to me) triple-distilled BenRiach 16yo sherry cask from 1989 (with lots of walnuts and glacé cherries on the nose, and a lemon peel zestiness with tapioca on the palate) and two single cask Nikkas (one a Miyagikyo, one a Yoichi) - both also from 1989.

When all was said and done, it was a great night and a nice change from the regular format of whisky shows. Even though some aspects could be improved (food could have been provided, a souvenir glass would have been nice, as would a few more tokens) considering the quality and rarity of the drams on offer, and the ticket price (5000yen - $56AUD / $320HKD) I'd still say the show was good value, and would happily return.

Keep an eye out for Part 2 which will cover Modern Malt Whisky Market Tokyo 2015 - the larger show on the following day.


Friday 9 October 2015

The Dalmore dinner with Richard Paterson (Hong Kong)

We've had the pleasure of meeting some absolute whisky legends over the past few months, and last night that trend continued with perhaps one of the most well-known figures of all - Richard Paterson of Whyte & MackayThe Dalmore and Jura - aka "The Nose".

Richard, who recently celebrated 45 years with Whyte & Mackay (and an incredible 49.5 years in the industry) was in Hong Kong to promote The Dalmore, and in conjunction with Telford Hong Kong (responsible for The Dalmore in HK) and Emperador Distillers (owners of Whyte & Mackay and The Dalmore), hosted an intimate dinner at Hullett House's St George restaurant in TST.

The stunning Hullett House in TST (please excuse the inescapable lens-fogging humidity!)
Arriving a little early at Hullet House's bar (Whisky @ Stables), I found Richard and a few others and was quickly handed a dram (King Alexander III) and invited to join in the conversation. I'd seen a lot of Richard's showmanship on YouTube (exhibit A) but wondered what he was like in person, one-on-one. Turns out - a truly, genuinely delightful bloke. Friendly, welcoming, and genuinely interested in others. We chatted for a while (about the Hong Kong and Australian whisky scenes, small bars, Japan, whisky auctions, travel and fake whisky) before the crowd started to grow and the cocktails arrived.

While the King Alexander III was a great way to start the night, with the weather still hot and humid outside, and showing no signs of letting up, the cocktail (a tall drink with The Dalmore 12, Aperol, apricot liqueur topped with ginger ale) was most welcome and hit the spot perfectly (side note: It's almost mid-October...shouldn't the humidity be dropping soon!?)

Not long after it was time to move over to St George for the main event - a 5 course meal paired with a selection of The Dalmore whiskies, held in the colonial-themed "JP Hennessy" room - complete with dining tables made from original timber dating back to Hullett House's colonial days.

Richard opened proceedings by explaining his role as Master Distiller at The Dalmore, commenting that he's been through "10 takeovers and 19 different bosses" in those years. Richard got quickly into his trademark showmanship, talking through the history of The Dalmore (and his own family's 3 generations of whisky involvement) with the use of props, photo boards, drams and even a bottle of Gonzalez Byass Matusalem 30 year old Oloroso sherry - former casks of which significantly shape a number of The Dalmore expressions.

After a run through of Richard's infamous "Hello", "How are you", "Quite well, thank you very much" approach to nosing, it was time for the first courses - Crab and Cucumber Roll and 52 Degree Salmon, matched with The Dalmore 15yo.

The strong flavours of the King crab in the first dish paired well with the spicy notes of the 15yo, and the 15yo added an interesting sweetness, almost sherbert-like, to the salmon. Whisky pairings can be tough to execute, but it seems like we were off to a great start.

After both courses, Richard was up again to talk through The Dalmore 18, which sees 14 years in American white oak, and a further 4 years in the aforementioned Gonzalez Byass Matusalem Oloroso casks. The 18 was paired with Foie Gras Ravioli, with Pancetta chips and black truffle bouillon cappuccino.

Though I'm not typically a foie gras fan, this was an absolutely stunning dish, with the 18yo's coffee / mocha notes playing particularly nicely with the truffle.

Sitting only one seat away from Richard afforded a great opportunity to chat, and those of us nearby made the most of it asking about his famous nose insurance (no longer in place after the premiums became too exorbitant) and the rush of new distilleries in Scotland (some of which he feels won't survive, and the remainder of which he feels will really need to differentiate themselves and ensure they can get a constant supply of casks). 

We also discussed the topic of whisky finishing and various oak types, which led us nicely onto the next whisky, The Dalmore King Alexander III.

The Dalmore King Alexander III, as Richard explained, is finished in a whopping 6 different casks (Port, Madeira, Marsala, Cabernet Sauvignon, Small Batch Bourbon and Matuselm Oloroso) and is designed to give rich plummy characteristics. Despite not carrying an age statement, King Alexander III is typically 20 years old, and this particular bottle was 22-23 years old, with all component whiskies having been distilled in 1992. At 40% "because that's how I wanted it" (Richard's words), it's an approachable, elegant dram, which was matched with USDA Beef striploin, with potato gratin, onion confit and balsamic vinegar beef jus.

Another fantastic pairing, the King Alexander III brought out some incredible smokey maple syrup notes in the dish, with hints of citrus and some rich toffee notes towards the end.

The last whisky on the menu was listed as "Richard's Surprise" and speculation was rife as to what it might have been. Richard eventually ended the debate and introduced it as The Dalmore 25yo, bottled at 42% ABV and in limited quantities of 3,000 bottles per year. Richard said this pairing (with Chocolate mousse, berry belly and raspberry sorbet) was particularly good, and made us promise to appreciate the pairing first.

May have dived into this one a little too eagerly before remembering to take a photo...

...which we did, and wow, it was stunning. The rich cocoa and berry notes of the 25yo paired brilliantly with the same flavours in the dish, to create what was easily the pairing of the night.

A fitting end, you might think, but no, Richard had one more dram up his sleeve - The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve, bottled at 44% ABV and containing a mixture of 70% sherry-matured whisky, 20% American white-oak matured whisky and 10% cab sauv barrique-matured whisky. It had been years since I'd tried this dram, and I enjoyed it just as much as the first time - probably more, considering I was sitting next to the man responsible for it!

Having tried the entirety of The Dalmore's "The Principal Collection", along with some truly stunning food, it was time to bid Richard farewell and head home, a fantastic night had by all in attendance.


TimeforWhisky would like to thank Telford Hong Kong, Emperador DistillersHullett House and of course Richard Paterson for what was a truly enjoyable and memorable evening.

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Tasted #220: Connemara 12 Year Old

Following a recent masterclass at The Wild Rover (home to the CCWC) I took the chance to try and further my whisky passport, a great ploy by the folks at The Wild Rover to get you to try all sorts of whiskies from all over the world.

Having spoken to one of the guys from Dram Full at a recent Irish whisky masterclass, the Connemara came up in the conversation and was described as a peated Irish whiskey that certainly does not fare like a conventional Irish whiskey, nor a conventional peated whiskey. Connemara whiskies, from the Cooley distillery, it was said, have a mild, balanced peated character that subtly presents the peat along with the all the exciting notes that are inherent with the malt.

From the whisky slab, four Connemara whiskies were listed; the Connemara Single Malt, Connemara Cask Strength, Connemara 12yo and Connemara Turf Mor (the Octomore of Connemara -- the 'high peat' expression). Unfortunately, only the Connemara 12yo was available that night with all the other expressions on backorder, so it was off then to try the Connemara 12yo.

Connemara 12 Year Old (40% ABV, 12yo, Kilbeggan, Ireland$140AUD)
A great tasting peated Irish whiskey that balances the gentle smoke with creamy, citrus, tropical fruit and spice notes. Not a bad dram to have on any spring night.

Colour: Light gold with a tinge of amber hue

Nose: Deliciously fragrant on the nose with notes of banana, cherry, strawberry, pineapple - loads of tropical fruits

Palate: The palate is clean, creamy with a subtle strawberry note that then develops into a more punchy peppery palate and then the gentle peat finally rolls in.

Finish: Medium to long, dry finish with a lingering Taiwanese pineapple cake note.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100.