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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Most Recent Whisky

Most Recent Whisky Review

Kilchoman USA Small Batch No.1

This 48.5% ABV bottling comes from batch No. 1 (of 1260 bottles) and is labelled as bourbon, sherry and port cask matured. This was my first Kilchoman purchase in a long time but I am a bit of a sucker for Port influenced whiskies and I am really glad I found this one. The nose is classic Islay with salt, seaweed and smoke in abundance. Maritime whisky notes dominate with some iodine and seaweed at low tide. The taste starts sweet with dried fruits, marzipan, barley sugar and then some salty notes add balance. A Christmas cake left on the beach. The finish manages to be both spicy and sweet and even minty and dries out leaving smoke. With water gets a little creamier and sweeter and some black pepper appears in the finish. There is a lot going on here and the three casks all show their influence on the finished product.

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  • I have been very fortunate in my life to travel and have had many food, drink and cultural experiences.  I have always believed in eating what the locals eat and drinking what the locals drink.  Local food and drink will have higher turnover, the ingredients will be fresher, the cook will be more familiar with the recipe and in my experience the locals or your hosts will appreciate you expressing an active interest in their culture.  I think it is the best way to maximize your travel experience (and is often much cheaper and healthier as well).

    These travel experiences are usually very hard to recreate back home.  For example, no matter how closely you follow the recipe or seek out the right ingredients, it always seems to be impossible to recreate a French dish in your own kitchen.   The ambiance is different and therefore taste is different.    (Perhaps if I got a slightly aloof waiter to hang around the kitchen and pull faces at my mispronunciations that would create the right ambience?)   Similarly I have many times tried whisky in the distillery, sharing the experience with someone who cares deeply about the place and the product and then bought a bottle only to find at home it slightly misses the mark, and that it wasn't quite the whisky I was convinced it was when in their tasting room.  There is no doubt some of my favorite whisky (and other drink) experiences are tied directly to the location in which I first tasted them.  A few examples are drinking Penderyn from a hip flask in Cardiff with old friends outside the stadium before the start of a rugby test match.  There are numerous distillery examples, but certainly the tasting of Bowmore Darkest in their delightful tasting room overlooking the Loch at the end of great trip to Islay stands out as well.  I also fondly recall drinking Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia tequila with colleagues at a dinner in Villahermosa, Tabasco to celebrate winning a large contract.   In the right circumstances the most mundane drinks can be elevated to special and in the wrong circumstances the most spectacular sprits just don't work.   When you get the right drink in the right place... that is really special.

    It is no coincidence I first started drinking Irish whisky after a trip to Ireland in 2006, and that fell in love in with Scotch whiskies while living in Scotland in 2009.  I also think I am enjoying bourbon a lot more now I live in Southern USA, often with a cube of ice to cool those peppery rye and spicy oak notes found in some many types of bourbon.  Drinking a peated Islay scotch in Texas sometimes just doesn't work.... especially between May and October.   This is one of the reasons it is so difficult to choose a "favorite" whisky.   When I hear people talk about great whiskies, many times it accompanied by a story around the first time they tried it or how they discovered the distillery.  This emotion all goes into the tasting experience and it is why two people can have entirely different opinions about the same whisky.    

    So remember when you find a drink you don't like, the problem is not the liquid... the problem might be you are standing in the wrong place.

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    Random Whisky

    Angels Envy

    Angels Envy is a rather unusual bourbon, aged for up to 6 years in new oak, as per definition of a bourbon, but then Port casks are also used in a finishing process.  The tasting notes below are even more unusual because it was a specific blend of Angels Envy (ie blend of port finished and non port finished bourbon) chosen specifically by the owners of the whisky bar Reserve 101 in Houston.  The nose had bubble gum, fresh wood and fresh paint, overall sweet and good.  The taste was smooth creamy coffee, perhaps a cafe latte with caramel and then more wood and spice builds. All that is good about bourbon is here.  Some oak, rye notes and mint at end maybe.  Very nie bourbon... not sure I get the Port finish influence except perhaps it mellows the spirit, tones down the spice and gives the sweetness and smoothness I found in this.  I am going to look for a "traditional" bottling of Angels Envy and try that as well.