Get them while you Can

As we discussed in previous posts the Hicks & Healey Cornish Single Malt Whiskey is quite a good dram for such a young and new commer to the market of Whisky.

The inital batch was sold out very soon after it’s launch,but now a new batch is being released.
Hicks & Healey Cornish Single Malt Whiskey

THE CORNISH WHISKEY STORY

Cornwall’s first whiskey in 300 years was born from a handshake between two local, forward-thinking, independent family businesses; St Austell Brewery (brewer of the South West’s favourite ales and the region’s leading pub company and wholesaler) and Healey’s Cyder Farm (the award-winning craft cyder farm and Cornwall’s only brandy distillery). The partnership brings expertise in brewing and distillation together for the first time in England, resulting in a quality whiskey made with passion and integrity. The idea was initially the inspiration of St Austell Brewery’s Head Brewer, Roger Ryman, who has nursed his passion for whiskey since cutting his teeth in the Scottish drinks business several decades ago. Made with Maris Otter barley grown in Trerulefoot, south-east Cornwall, and clear, soft spring water, the wash was mixed at St Austell Brewery’s traditional Victorian brew-house, before being transferred to Healey’s Farm and passed through a double distillation in a unique, traditional copper pot still (made by third generation coppersmiths, Forsyths, in Rothes, Scotland). At only 1200 litres, it’s the smallest legal still in the country and ensures longer interaction between the spirit and the copper. The best cut was then collected and filled into high quality American bourbon charred casks where it has gained character and colour as it has rested in the steady, Cornish climate for seven years. Notes of spice, honey and barley combine with delicate fruits and hints of cocoa and caramel before a late vanilla finish, to make this whiskey “faultless and almost beautiful beyond words” Jim Murray.

Hicks & Healey Cornish Single Malt Whiskey

Midlands 2012

On the weekend of the 19th of may two members of the Maltgeeks group went to the Whisky Lounge annual event in Stratford Upon Avon for some whisky fun.

The venue was nice and intimate in size, with 16 stands all around with the SMWS holding the centre of the room and commanding the respect and attention as entitled to them by any whisky lover.
We sampled many drams (mostly new things we have not tried before , but also some old and familiar friends) during the visit and enjoyed some surprises (for better and for worse) from the ones we did not know.
This is the list of the items we tasted ,We might provide sampling notes later :

  • Scapa 16
  • Auchentushan A
  • AnCnoc 12
  • Bruchladdie organic
  • Bruchladdie Fino Cask
  • Balbalair 1978
  • Girvan 1989 46%
  • Inchgower 1982 54.5%
  • Macduff 2000 60%
  • Glenfarclas 30
  • GlenKinchie 12
  • Benromach 25
  • Bunnahabhain
  • SMWS 7.72 21 years
  • Old Pulteney 12 year old
  • Old Pulteney 17 Year Old
  • Old Pulteney 21 Year Old
  • We debated if we should sign up to the scotch Malt Whisky society(SWMS) but the price was a bit too high at the time , though we did agree that it is something we have to do in the future.

    When we left it was with high spirits and a joyous step, and not just from the golden nectar flowing in our veins.

    The music in whisky

    If you ask a large number of people what does whisky (or whiskey) means to them, and what is the first thing that comes to their head when they hear the word, 9 out of 10 people will talk about the drink’s characteristics,the sensations, some might talk about the hangovers they had, but a rare few will talk about the music that the word conjures in their mind.

    To me the word brings to mind music. Music not in the traditional way of instruments playing a score, but more of the music of nature: the whisper of the wind blowing over the hills of Northern Scotland, the mellow flowing waters of the Spey river, the roar of crashing ocean waves onto the pier near the town of Tain near the Glenmorangie distillery and even the braying of the bulls in the pens. The musical sounds of Whisky country!

    It is something that all those that travelled Scotland to savour this wonderful liquid experience but may not take the time to notice and appreciate; it is a sensation to be absorbed and appreciate slowly, much like a good dram.

    Most distilleries have a stream or pond they use when making whisky, and each plays its own tune. Some streams are slow-churning flat stream-beds and some are thunderous cascading waterfalls. It is sometimes difficult to hear the music around you when there are distractions such as other visitors, cars and any other source of noise, but in those rare moments of silence and social isolation, it is then that the echoing sound of the place can be heard and sip into your mind, as slowly as the flavours of the dram descend on the palate in the first taste, that is how the music of a place enters your ears and your mind: bewitching, mesmerising and beautiful.

    This has dawned on me in the Glen Grant distillery I visited a long time ago, the drink itself was not to my palate, but the gardens and the music of the stream with its surrounding ambiance enticed me deeply, I felt that the place was so “right”. It was fulfilling in a sense that other distilleries have not been until then. Since then, I always strive to find a moment to listen to the home of the whiskey, and once I heard the music of its birthplace, its place in nature’s symphony, only then do I step inside and experience what the musical composition tastes like; and if I didn’t hear it, I go inside and see maybe the drink will show me the song.

    So in the next time you travel Scotland, take the time to listen to the land and it’s music.

    Slàinte!

    Arran Sleeping Warrior

    The Arran Sleeping Warrior 11 years old , was given to members of the Maltgeeks while on tour in the distillery , it is an 11 years old bottling in a cask strength of 54.9% , and one of only 6000 bottles made.
    ARRAN Sleeping Warrior 54.9%
    In some circles 6000 units is considered a large number, but in Whisky 6000 bottles is a very low, and there for the privilege of having such a limited dram is something we appreciate and savour.

    When we approached the tasting of this bottle, we took the time to enjoy it as once it is gone , chances are we will not be able to got another one.

    Nose: The Aroma draft is easy and smooth providing scents of Leaves, Almonds ,Moss and Caramel. Very gentle and interesting in it’s combination.
    Colour : Light brown , slightly golden in hue , clear with a very smooth swirl.
    Palate : The dram is very powerful, with a strong kick on the tongue and a burn in the throat , if you drink it unprepared if will cause you to choke due to it’s spirit content.
    Once you are past the cough seizure the traces are :Caramel,Peppers and Bananas.

    As is with all high spirit content drams a bit of water might be needed , and since this is a tasting review a dash of water is added to review the dram watered down(and maybe quench the fire it carries with it) :

    Nose:The nose is not affected by the added water,if anything it feels as if the water acts as a re-laxer to the aroma as it is drifting out even slower but still full and still powerful.
    Colour:The colour becomes even a deeper golden hue with a shimmering quality , but retaining the smoothness it had before.
    Palate: The brunt force of the dram is diminished to a more managed and “tame” dram , it is now gentle in the mouth but still provides the deep burning sensation in the gut and a easy after taste in the palate. Traces of Almonds ,Caramel,Bananas and Apricots .

    Conclusion : This Whisky is a very lovely Dram , but it requires water. At a cost of £57.95 it was a very good buy, but now out of stock in the major stores.
    It will go well with a Rabbit or Game .
    3.25 out of 5 .

    Jura 16 Year old

    As part of the trip to the Isles , a stop in the Isle of Jura was a must and so was the acquisition of a bottle.
    So now this small 35cl bottle is sitting on my desk ready for me to give it a try , as I have no idea what to expect , this is exciting :

    Jura 16 Year old

    Colour: Light Tea , or more like a tea with honey , but clear through.
    Nose : light and easy on the nose ,faint traces of smoke easy enough to not disturb those that dislike smokiness in the whiskey ,apricots, vanilla and very faint trace of mint.
    Palate : gentle on the tongue ,smooth and slow in producing the warm glow in the stomach without any burn or after burn as it goes down. When going down it is leaving traces of caramel ,pines and almonds in the mouth .

    And now with a drop of water :
    Colour : A small drop of water does not affect the colouring much , slightly lighter golden hue.
    Nose : The drop of water brings out the aroma of Bananas,Figs, and some traces of sea front smell , on the nice side the traces of smoke is completely gone.
    Palate: The smoothness of the dram , with the water added turns it to a powerful bland drink, the warm glow is still present but the mouth is empty of the sensations of the dram.

    Conclusion : A very mellow dram that stands on it’s own with out any need for water ,most stores indicate this bottling as out of stock , which is sad since this dram can go well with almost any event . 4 out of 5 .

    Tobermory 15 Year old Limited Edition

    The name “Tobermory” is derived from the Gaelic “Tobar Mhoire”, which means “Well of Mary” and relates to the well and chapel of St Mary – there was a small Christian settlement in Tobermory from early times. The original name for the distillery, Ledaig (pronounce Led-chig) is also Gaelic and means “Safe Haven”.
    Tobermory Distillery is one of the oldest operational Malt Scotch Whisky distilleries and celebrated its 200th Anniversary in 1998
    Today Tobermory distillery produces two different styles of single malts. The first one is a lightly peated malt called Tobermory. The second is an extremely peaty malt called Ledaig.

    Two members of MaltGeeks visited the distillery and came back with bottle:

    Tobermory 15 Year old
    The whiskey is bottled at 46.3% and as such might require water, the only way to know is to try:
    Colour: Honey gold , smooth and clear with a fluid swirl .
    Nose : Gentle on the nose not over powering but dissipates very quickly. Traces of Pines, Peat, Vanilla , faint Peppers.
    Palate : Nice mellow burn , and a slow after burn in the gut , lingering traces of pines and caramel , the tastes evaporate from the mouth very quick .

    Now with a drop of water :
    Colour : A drop of water lightens the colour , making it a shade of pale honey.
    Nose : The aroma is getting a mixed treatment, with the more prominent scents feeling repressed with traces of vanilla and cinnamon coming out .
    Palate :The burn is still there but takes more time to come out, but once it is out it is slow and building nicely , going down smooth and providing a good burn in the stomach. Traces of Caramel , Pine , Vanilla and Peppers.

    Conclusion : very mellow dram with a nice kick and burn, going down smooth but can go to the head fast.
    For a price of £75 it is bit over priced (but it is a limited edition) , a good drink for the end of the night 3.6 out of 5 .

    Consolation Dram

    During the weekend I had some errands to run in London , things I have been putting off for a while.
    So while I was doing my “rounds” I walked in the the Royal Mile Whisky shop for a chat and catching up .

    I spotted some bottles I’d probably will add to my collection after pay-day , and once I finished the shelves round I started talking to the guy at the counter , We mentioned some new drams coming out and tasting of old things , and in all of that I told him about the disappointment from the DeerStalker that I bought from the Edinburgh branch.
    He said he was sorry to hear that a bottle I got that their shop and offered me a sample to balance it out , I was surprised and jested that I can see several things I’d Love to sample , but he would not open them for that , then I asked what he has open that he thinks would be nice , so he gave me a Bruichladdich 10 year old 43% .
    It is a very nice dram , with a very intense and nice burn good nose and a lovely after taste.

    This is not a full tasting notes as I did not write the sensations of this dram , but I found it a very pleasant dram .

    I’ve also talked about bringing a sample of the Healey and the Imperial I have at home for the staff to taste , now I need to find the time .

    Night of tasting 25/11/2011

    As 3 out of the 4 MaltGeeks gathered in the same place (while I was stocking on new items ) we concluded that it was a good time to do another tasting night, We arranged for some snacks to be beside the drink and set forth on an evening of palate exploration.

    I must say that since my last visit to Scotland I brought with me 2 bottles of water to serve in tastings, but those have been consumed by the moronic movers that saw them in the drinks cabinet next to Whiskey and decided that they were there for them to use, so we were left with normal English Tap water.

    The First Dram of the night was Knappogue Castle 12 year old irish Whiskey :
    Knappogue Castle 12 year old irish Whiskey
    [I am a fan of the Irish dram and was hoping for a nice smooth drink ]
    Color : Very clear Light hay gold .
    Nose : A slow and very faint aroma comes out from this dram with hints of citrus and apricot , the scent is very gentle and easy on the nose.
    Palate : Delivering a strong powerful burn in the mouth , the Whiskey is releasing a strong taste of peppers , almonds and some fruits in the mouth , but all the excitement ends in the mouth as there is no after burn in the gut.

    Adding a dash of water gave this dram some distinct changes :
    Color : Becomes clear , nearly vodka like.
    Nose : The big change is in the nose as it gives out other scents : Fudge ,cream and almonds come out while the pepper is not present anymore.
    Palate : Disappointing , the dram becomes bland with no burn and no after burn , I’ve had Orange Juice with more zest then this Whiskey on water .

    Conclusion : Not very exciting , but not at all a bad dram to start with 3 out of five .
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    The second item was the mystery DeerStalker 10 year old :
    DeerStalker 10 year old
    This Dram I acquired on a whim , but knew nothing about it , the guys at the shop could give me no information about it , so we knew nothing on what to expect , except that it is an highland dram.

    Color : Slightly yellow hue .
    Nose : very easy on the nose, slow expansion, traces of Hay, raisin and grass.
    Palate : Bland , flavorless , after a long try some trace of bananas come out but even then very faint , no burn .

    Adding water killed all the color from this dram and also washed away the faint traces of the Banana , so not much to say about it .
    Conclusion : this is the kind of whiskey you use for cooking , or for a Rusty Nail cocktail – cause anything will improve the drink . 1.5 out of five (£24.95 Price is too much for this one ).
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    Third item on the list was the dram I have been chasing for quite a while : GlenCadam 10 year old Distillery bottle 46% :
    I have tasted the Glen Cadam twice now and both were the connoisseur edition bottling , which I liked , but I wanted a Distillery bottle and finally I got it :
    GlenCadam 10 year old Distillery bottle
    Color : Deep Light Gold , almost honey like.
    Nose: Full nose and deep bodied full of aromas of fudge, Vanilla, banana’s and cardamon.
    Palate: The liquid give a strong nice burn in the mouth with a slow long after burn leaving the mouth with traces of pepper and caramel which usually do not go together but in this dram they are balanced and easy on the palate.

    Adding a dash of water :
    Color : Loses the nice color to even a drop of water and becomes nearly clear.
    Nose: The water suppresses the aroma and the smells are slow in coming out , but when they do come you get Caramel,Annis, Pepper and Coriander seeds .
    Palate : The water is giving the Pepper a push to become too dominant that it is overshadowing any other flavor ,but you can still feel a trace of the Caramel in it .

    Conclusion : this dram need no water as it stands out very well alone and untouched , a good dram for a light evening .3.75 out of 5 (£29.49 is a very good price for this good dram).

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    The Last drink of the night was the limited edition Hicks & Healey Cornish Single Malt 7 Year-old Whiskeythat I bought and mentioned Here .
    limited edition Hicks & Healey Cornish Single Malt 7 Year-old Whiskey
    As this is a very rare expression we were very excited about this one …
    Color : Golden brown
    Nose : The Cider finish is apparent here as the first thing you smell is apples , after that other smells come out to fill your nose with scents of Christmas cake.
    Palate: I think I once had tasting buds this thing burned it right off with some trace of honey and a burn of Habanero pepper. A hammer to the head and kick to the groin will describe this drink best.

    … and then we read the rest of the label on the bottle : 61.3% proof so lets take it back , add some water and try again :

    Color : No discernible change , still deep golden brown.
    Nose : Apples , Pines and Honey come drifting out, almost the smells of the cyder farm.
    Palate : Now this is more like it , this is a whiskey to enjoy with a good drop of water (3 corks full for me) and now you get a mellow balanced dram with traces of Apples , Cloves, Vanilla, peppers( very mild this time) and earth .

    Conclusion : This is a wonderful dram that is worth the investment as a limited edition , if you can still get it do so (£150 ) a pleasure to drink and savor but remember it MUST have water. 4 out of 5 .

    29/11/2011 – it was brought to our attention that this item is no longer available Out Of Stock

    It has begun!

    We’ve arrived at Glasgow airport yesterday evening, woke up real early today and got on the ferry to the Isle of Arran, a beautiful island with a single distillery, the Isle of Arran Distillery, which was opened 16 years ago. The opening of the distillery marked the end of a period of 158 years in which there was no (legal) whisky distilling done on Arran.

    Tasting notes soon to come.

    After meeting the lovely people of Arran Distillery (Thank you – Chris, Sue and Campbel!), we went on a wee boat that took us from Lochranza to Tarbert on the Kintyre Peninsula, from which we drove down to Campbeltown. More on that tomorrow, after our visit to Springbank and GlenGyle.

    J & U