Monday 13 July 2020

Tasted #485: M&H Classic Single Malt

Temperate and warmer climate have provided whiskies distillers with significant advantages and also hurdles for the distillation and maturation of their whiskies. Distilleries from India, Taiwan as well as Australia have had embraced better extraction of wood flavours and accelerated maturation. One year in these regions can often be the equivalent of five Scottish years. At the same time, the variation in temperature and humidity can also yield a highly variable yet exciting whisky as distilleries imprint their unique environmental and geographical influence.

M&H Distillery is one of those world distillers that are facing similar challenges and are embracing it. Founded in the coastal city of Tel Aviv, M&H Distillery is Israel's first whisky distillery and Tel Aviv's only whisky distillery. M&H is short for Milk & Honey, the name that is referred for the land of Israel. 

Israel is very hot and humid. The temperate climate in Israel sees temperatures swinging between 10 to 30 degrees (c) and this has resulted in faster maturation of their whiskies whilst also giving their fair share to the angel. M&H has also experimented with different maturation methods with one such experiment that saw them bring their whiskies to the Dead Sea region, the lowest point on earth, where they are currently aging on the roof of a hotel. They mentioned that the Negev desert might be the next stop - the extreme dryness of the region and its effect on the whisky maturation will be interesting to observe.

Founded by six entrepreneurs in 2012, M&H is currently led by co-founder Gal Kalkshtein and CEO Eitan Artie. Since established in 2012, their operations have had the blessings of the late whisky legend, Dr Jim Swan who had advised them on how they can emphasize and focus on quality and innovation. M&H fills approximately 800 barrels a year or approximately 170,000 litres of new make spirit. Whilst it may seem small when compared to the big Scottish single malt distillers that produce millions of litres per annum, M&H have established their prominence in recent years, both within Europe and abroad. In their pipeline are a sherry cask finish which will be released later this year, followed by a lightly peated M&H whisky, a single malt with a red wine cask finish as well as a potential release involving pomegranate wine cask. These culminations were as a result of M&H's accumulation of unique casks over time.  

Alba Whisky, the Australian Distributor for M&H Whisky sent us a sample of the M&H Classic Single Malt Whisky which was released locally in Australia last month. The three-year-old M&H Classic Single Malt Whisky was matured in the ex-bourbon and red-wine STR casks, giving it a light and balanced character, with notes of vanilla, light oak, alongside a light black pepper spiciness. For those wondering what STR is. STR is short for Shaved, Toasted and Recharred. The term is used to describe red wine casks that have their individual staves shaved, reassembled, toasted and then re-charred. The lighter and more balanced nature of the whisky can be attributed from the use of these STR casks. Kichoman and Kavalan are the other distilleries that have used the STR process to condition their casks before using them to finish their whiskies.

M&H Classic (46% ABV, NAS, Tel Aviv, Israel, A$120)

Colour: Light copper

Nose: The nose is light, fragrant, floral and fruity (apples and figs) yet slightly musky and sweet. There's a good mixture of honey, vanilla and apple juice. A small remnant of oak comes through followed by cereal grain and nutmeg spice. 

Palate: The palate is soft and gentle, which is then followed with a subtle spiciness, nutmeg and cloves. There's a layer of fruitiness; apples and oranges and a bit of honey drizzled on top. You can taste the vanillin amongst the fruits and spices. The STR treatment of the red wine casks has led to a much lighter profile on the end whisky from the wine casks.

Finish: The finish is moderately long, ladened with oak and spices that remain for some time.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 88/100. As a classic single malt that has survived the test of a warmer climate in Israel, this is a relatively balanced dram. The oak and spices can overshadow the lighter floral and fruity notes though do provide a different dimension to the dram. It would be interesting to see if additional maturation time or the use of different casks can bring in other notes that can balance out the oak and spices. Perhaps we might see completely different characters in their upcoming sherry cask or peated whiskies. Until then, this is another interesting world whisky that you check out.


Thanks to Alexandra from Xhibition and Alba Whisky for providing the sample.


  1. Good choice. Rather long finish, with honey, vanilla and a oak.

    1. Definitely, the oak did come through quite prominently. Curious whether this is as an effect of the rapid maturation in Tel Aviv.