Friday, May 25, 2012

#2 - BIG PEAT! - Islay blended malt

Greetings everyone! Sorry for the huge delay, I've been sick as all hell this last couple of weeks and used the time whilst sick to study, so all was not lost. However, as I've been unable to enjoy any of my delicious malty whisky goodness I've been unable to do any reviews. Never fear, I'm back with a ripper!

This one is specifically for a buddy of mine from work. He says IS-LAY, I say EYE-LA. Tomay-toe, Tomar-toe. Whatever the way you pronounce it, Islay is a little island off the west coast of Scotland. They have a specific type of Peat there, and they are usually very smoky whiskies as they use the peat smoke to dry the malted barley in large kilns (for those of you that didn't know the way they get the flavour). 

Peated whisky has a pungent odour and taste that at first hits you like burnt rubber. I was on a quest when I started my whisky journey to find out what possesses people to drink burnt rubber in a glass! Honestly, are you mad? I stuck with it, however, so that I started to develop the appreciation and taste for the Islay style Malts. Any of you out in whisky land that find peated whisky to be stinky, gross, burnt, plasticy, off, putrid, detritus, muddy, firey, and thinking that they used old white 'dog-logs' to dry their barley instead of a great natural resource of old compressed organic matter, Please....Stick with it, and work your way up to the heavily peated stuff.  Here's a map of Islay to get started

On the scale of peated whisky by me, I'd say Johnny Walker green label which whilst peaty, is still quite mild. Next, onto Talisker which is more peated, but with a less intense less medicinal type of peat that is from the Isle of Skye, not Islay. Great stuff that is like a gateway drug to peaty goodness. (Talisker was introduced to me from another great work colleague who also is a Karate Blackbelt, and keeps a gimp. haha) Then onto the Mid-range Peated Islay, Bowmore 10 year old. It's a great whisky that can be had usually for $50 which I think for a single malt, especially something as amazingly crafted as Bowmore, is a steal! Finally, the Southern Islay crew of Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Port Ellen and Ardbeg. Some of the biggest names in whisky, which also have a huge cult following, and for a good reason. In an age where everyone is 'unique' and apparently all so 'different' it's refreshing to know that there are still some people with the heart and passion on a small island half way around the world that make whisky the way it was back then, which happens to be the most unique whisky in the world today. Still. I guess the key to uniqueness is to actually NOT change. Who'da thought?

This leads me on to my next rant, which annoys me. I like to drink whisky, and collect a few. It does, however, annoy the bejesus out of me that certain whisky is so hard to come by.... and at the top of that list is an Original Port Ellen.  For those who do not know, Port Ellen still has a Malting’s, which they supply a lot of other Islay distilleries with, but they were a working distillery from 1820-1983. 163 bloody years. That's a good trot in anyone's book. Prices for an original Port Ellen today are average price of about 500 pounds British. I'll probably one day have one, but unfortunately I've not been lucky enough to secure even a taster yet. I'll try my best to sort one. 

Then, out of left field comes Big Peat! BOOM! Ardbeg, Caol-Ila, Bowmore and...Gulp.....PORT ELLEN! After the previous paragraph I bet you'd think its a few hundred dollars/pounds. It's in fact, a Blended Malt (used to be called vatted, but that’s a whinge for another day.) no grain whisky added, for $60 odd Australian. How's that for value?

It's an awesome bottling from Douglas Laing, an Independent bottler. What a great looking tin and bottle. It makes you smile, thinking of a salty sea breeze with a camp fire, crappy weather and winter. Perfect for an Islay Whisky! YES! Have a look and tell me it doesn't at least make you look at the label for a second. What Macallan is to refinement, Big Peat is to bold awesomeness. 

So, how’s it go? Bloody fantastic. That's how! 

Firstly, it's a non-chill filtered, non-coloured 46% abv whisky, and having Caol Ila in it makes it quite oily which I personally adore. It's like a whisky police man shot a velvety smoke bomb into a glass of sweet syrup. Seriously! It has a great consistency, leaves medium size legs, and some nice fat oily tear drops. The colour is almost like a light chardonnay pale straw colour, which turns milky with the addition of a drop of water. 

Nose: BANG. Peat in the face. A really earthy, heavily medicinal peat that also has a sweetness to it almost like new make spirit. The sweet ethanol smell as it just comes off the still, but not at all harsh on the nose. I almost get a feint whiff of fisherman’s friend style lolly in it. 

Palate: The instant peat is huge, but doesn't overpower the other subtle flavours.  A nice sweet peaty whisky, which is how I like the peated whisky. Peat and sweet. It's also got a little bitterness (not at all bad) and a slight sour kick as well, but then fades out into a mandarin like sweetness that you get when you can smell when someone in the room opens a fresh mandarin. Not what I was expecting from an Islay! Awesome!

Finish is huge and changes constantly, and the whole whisky is pretty damn impressive, especially for 60 bucks. It's probably the best value for money Islay malt out there due to the rarity of the Port Ellen, and that it's cheaper than most of the other malts in the blend. Buy one. 

It's complex, and changes from glass to glass, and is perfect on a horrible rainy cold night like tonight here in Canberra. 

My rating for Big Peat given all of the above? KILLER! That's all.... KILLER.

In the words of the Russian master of weaponry Dmitri.... 'Don't Be Beech!'

Thursday, May 10, 2012

#1 - Glenfiddich 30 Year old - (Wooden boxed version)

So some people say save the best for last... Those that know me know that I don't really follow convention... So to convention, I will flip you the bird!

Welcome to my first review, and what better way to start than with an amazing whisky from possibly the most famous Scottish distillery in the world, Glenfiddich.

When you mention Glenfiddich to the average joe or even the seasoned pub goer, you will always elicit a response of "oh I've heard of that" or "Isn't that one of the best?" and to that my response is always, it sure is one of the best. It really is, and for so many reasons. I'll try and name a few further on, if you dare read.

Call me a fan-boy, or a Glenfiddich groupie, but I absolutely love the stuff. I'm yet to have a bad one (I'm sure there is plenty of whiskies from every distillery that miss the mark)  I've currently got about 15 bottles of different types of Glenfiddich, and all have their own character, but all are still that typical delicious fruity speyside that is Glenfiddich Single Malt Whisky.

I must mention, that Whisky is a happy thing. Think about it for a second, when you get that new bottle of single malt... You pull it out of the box or case... and for the most part they are all presented amazingly yet all differently with little blurb's about the distillery they come from, the water they use to make it, the history of the area, the types of cask etc.

For me personally, the presentation and the bottle itself says a lot about the character of the whisky inside the bottle. I always carefully prepare the bottle before I pour a glass... Making sure that the foil is neatly cut or peeled and that any dust is wiped off... to let the mighty bottle of malty goodness glisten in the light and shine through! It's good fun, and I feel shows respect to the people who have crafted it. Yes, crafted it. Not Made it. Whisky is part science, part art. It's crafted.

Whisky is a sharing thing, and in good company good whisky makes good memories.

I recently was married to my amazing wife, and before the wedding my four groomsmen presented me with an amazing gift. A bottle of Glenfiddich 30 Years old, Beautifully presented in a wooden case with maroon leather (albeit I think it is pleather) and a little booklet. I was pretty dumbstruck. four of my best friends in the world had just given me one of the most amazing gifts. We all straight away shared a dram... and what a dram of whisky!

Firstly, the colour is quite dark and has the typical orangey bourbon style colour to it. after rolling it around the Glencairn glass (which I'll go all into depth for the Noobies in another it's still quite oily. The legs are quite thick, so its definitely not too high in the alcohol percentage, and the tears are quite thick and slow. A nice oily looking whisky.

Next onto the Nose. Now I'm by no means an expert sniffer unlike our late sista Whitney H ( too soon? ) but this whisky really needs a lot of nosing to get all of the amazing aromas from the glass. You get the Oak of course, but definitely not overpowering. Next you can get the grapes... honestly its like a fresh crushed grape, mixed in with a trifle like my mother in law makes. As soon as I put my nose in the glass, Trifle, sherry, fruit. This is going to be AWESOME!

Palate ( The taste. I don't quite know why it's referred to as a palate, as I thought the Palate was the roof of your mouth.. shouldn't it be called the tongue? Seriously. ) Straight away you get the Sherry influence, Vanilla, Spices, Dried fruits, and a slight bit of salty bitter dark chocolate towards the finish. It's quite outstanding really. Every mouthful is like there are little whisky droplets hugging your tastebuds. Amazing!

The finish is long and fruity. Not overly dry, and definitely keeps on staying and staying. The longer aged whiskies tend to mostly have longer finishes. I believe its due to the more volatile alcohols and congeners evaporating or mellowing out over the huge amount of years in cask.

The balance is to me near perfection. I think a little bit of extra sweetness up front to balance out the bitterness would have worked perfectly, but hey.. taste is subjective and this is pretty damn extraordinary.

What would I rate it? Amazing. I'm not getting into any kind of points system, because I personally believe its too hard to rate a whisky out of 100 given the weight things like mood, company, foods eaten etc. all have on the overall experience. Instead I'm going to give an overall one word rating.

Glenfiddich 30 years old: Amazing.

So there you have it. Please go out and buy a bottle, your mouth will thank you. Every little taste bud on your tongue will be enjoying itself and thanking the whisky as it goes by. You owe it to yourself.


Glenfiddich 30 Years old (older wooden box)
700 ml Bottle, 43% abv 
Reviewed 09 May 2012.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Welcome to What Whisky Where!

Welcome to What Whisky Where! 

Firstly, I love Whisky, I also love Whiskey. Although its the same thing, it's spelled differently around the world. I'll make sure to always add in my posts which spelling for a specific region.

This has come about because I love to share my knowledge of whisky, my thoughts about it, and the information surrounding all the thousands of different whiskies with everybody who is keen to hear. My amazing wife said "why not write a blog?" and here we are. Awesome eh?

Here is my current collection.

There is over 80 large bottles and about another 50 sample's. I'll try and get a few reviews, thoughts, and general chat about whisky each week.

 I'll be acquiring new types of whisky all the time, from all over the world. It's not a scotch blog. It's not a bourbon blog. It's a Whisky blog! I do not discriminate, if it tastes good.... drink it!

I look forward to helping other people on their whisky quest, and would love to hear your thoughts about the same whiskies, as there is no right and wrong... everyone has a different taste, and as such we all evolve and change.

I'll get my first review up soon, and until then... Have a Dram. :)