Month: October 2017

Glenfiddich Select Cask

Reviewed by: Nick

Glenfiddich Select Reserve

Choosing one whisky for a group of people is no easy task. Especially when you take six whisky fans overseas for a week with only a single bottle of duty free to see the group through the jetlag and toast the new surroundings.

However, that’s exactly what has recently gone down for m’colleague and I, alongside four other intrepid travelling companions on an adventure to Vietnam. Accompanying we Waffle boys was ‘Studley’, a relative whisky novice, ‘Susej’, who loves whisky so long as it’s cask strength or peated,  ‘Marx’ (later renamed ‘Trotsky’ – see if you can guess why), a Scotsman who would happily drink anything whisky-themed, and ‘Money Penny’, another Scotsman who doesn’t recognise Tasmanian stuff as proper whisky.  And to be perfectly honest, Ted and I were just happy with anything that wasn’t red label.

Ultimately, as trip organiser, the decision fell to me. So what did I do? I ignored all of their preferences and picked something that interested me.

Pagoda power

LR: Ted, Marx, Nick, Studley, Susej and Money Penny

I plumped for a duty-free exclusive Glenfiddich called the Select Cask: an entry level in the same vein as the 12 Year Old – but with an x-factor. It is part of a series called the ‘Cask Collection’ where each bottling is solera matured with different barrel types – in the case of this bottle: ex-red wine casks.

While I have an up and down relationship with wine barrelling in whisky, I also claim that the regular Glenfiddich 12 is rather… well… boring. I was eager to find out if this variation in maturation would fix this. Turns out… it did.

The nose is an intriguing mixture of pear and custard mixed with burnt toffee aromas. It’s gentle but encouraging. The palate displays vanilla fudge notes and dark fruits although it also reveals a rougher, spicier edge. I can assume – as there is no age statement on the bottle – some of the spirit is considerably younger than can be found in the 12 Year Old. However if this is the compromise for an entertaining dram, I’m not going to argue. The finish is short with hints of blackberries and the faintest trace of oak.

This, however, is just my own version of the tasting notes – I was only one of six on the trip. So what did the others think? Well, Studley was tipsy after one dram, Susej drank it like it was water (which was also his tasting note of choice), Marx downed it happily (while he still could) and even Money Penny raised a glass to the trip with it. And Ted? He didn’t mind it either. Maybe the hint of rawness put him off slightly, but the good times we had with it persuaded him to see it in a positive light.

After all, it is those memories which form the most significant opinions. We can talk about barrel types, limited releases and young spirit all we like. But in the end, the six of us boys had a memorable holiday and this bottle was there for every moment of the crazy ride. It could really have been any bottle. But I picked this one and am happy I did. Turns out choosing one whisky for a group of people is easy after all.

★★★

Boys on bikes

The boys on the bikes… in fruit shirts

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Thus Spake Jim Murray – 2018: A Whisky Bible

Posted by: Ted

Zarathustra2

Daaah…. daaah…. daaah………. DA DAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! bom bom bom bom bom bom…

Sunlight oozed slowly across the darkling plain and up the face of the towering monolith. Its surface was like the purest of amber and there was a strange feeling of energy surrounding it. A group of primitive whisky writers, bloggers and critics lounged and tousled nearby, random, semi-intelligible cries like ‘bold coastal flavours’, ‘herbal undertones’ and ‘it has notes of sour plums’ punctuating the air.

One of the bloggers suddenly whipped his head up and stared intently at the monolith, before hesitantly creeping towards it. His companions quietened, the fibres of their tweed vests glinting in the sunlight as they watched their brother’s progress. The blogger halted nervously at the base of the monolith and carefully stretched up his hand toward the surface.

As soon as the blogger’s fingers brushed the unnaturally smooth amber surface, images poured into his mind, burning like distilled fire. Strange bulbous glassware… odd metal cylinders plunging into barrels to feed off their liquid hearts… infinitely high stacks of experimental casks with cryptic names like ‘gaja barolo’, ‘tokay’ and ‘sauternes’… fractal distillers endlessly chanting ‘Phenol quercus lacotone alba aldehyde robur’… towering columns of smoke that reeked of the sea… a tumultuous barrage other images too hard to describe, let alone understand.

Finally the terrible visage of a golden-eyed god appeared, his corona of white hair crowned by a panama hat. The god spoke, terrible, thunderous tones lancing into the mind of the blogger:

“Behold, these three releases shall be the best whiskies on earth in 2018:

1.Colonel E.H. Taylor Four Grain Bourbon

Winner2. Redbreast 21 Year Old

Second winner3. Glen Grant 18 Year Old

Third winner

This is the decree of Jim Murray, heed it and remember.”

Suddenly the raging tempest of images assaulting the blogger stopped, like the fabric of the universe had been sundered by a knife. As he withdrew his hand he felt a sudden feeling of purpose, a clarity of mind that pierced to the very centre of his spirit. He swung around and stalked with intent towards the biggest critic in the group, who was pontificating forcefully that ‘while other styles have certain merits, it is the sheer complexity derived from its long and rich history that elevates Scotch above all other forms.’

Daaah…. daaah…. daaahhh…. Ba BAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!! bom bom bom bom bom bom…

With a wild cry of ‘Bourbon is the new king!’, the blogger struck the critic a terrible blow and smote him to the ground, while the other wordsmiths hammered on their keyboards, hooting and gibbering in excitement. The blogger stood panting for a moment, then turned and strode away from the great amber monolith, his companions trailing behind their new leader, a sudden sweet, rich, punchy sensation pervading their minds.

Finally, the only thing left in the dying light was the monolith, the mysterious energy surrounding it holding a sensation of waiting, of expectation and anticipation, like somehow it knew that one day this would all happen again…

Fin

(To find out Jim Murray’s other decrees for his 2018 Whisky Bible, head over to The Whisky Exchange blog)

Whisky Waffle Podcast Episode 2

Posted by: Nick

We are excited to present episode 2 of the Whisky Waffle Podcast!

This episode features:
– The Waffle, where we discuss how simple/complicated drinking whisky actually is
– The Whisky, where we drink some Hellyers Road 12 and some Scapa 16
– Whisky Would You Rather, where Nick poses Ted a problematic peat puzzle; and:
– The Spirit Sack, where we (just about) avoid slurring our words to discuss what we’d put in a hypothetical whisky bar

White Oak Tokinoka

Reviewed by: Ted

Tokinoka

Japanese whisky is meant to be the best thing since sliced sushi right? A freshly caught blue fin tuna at the fish market would blush at the prices commanded by even a basic Japanese dram (if it still had any blood left that is). So why the bloody hell isn’t this one any good?

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, as I have a history of being disappointed by releases from White Oak Distillery. On my previous tasting attempt I found the Akashi NAS to be a forgettable cup of blah, while the 12yo had this weird sulphuric, mineral hot-pool vibe going on.

Needless to say, I set my bar very low when it came to trying the Tokinoka and it met my expectations with aplomb… by which I mean it would be a definite contender for winning a limbo competition, if you get my drift.

The nose is distant and it takes a really good deep sniff to actually capture anything. The eventual effect is like a walk past an orchard in summer… if the orchard was on the side of a volcano. That weird sulphury thing from the 12yo makes an unwelcome return as well as a whiff of hot metal. The palate is actually quite spicy… for about two seconds, after which you are left with a vague oiliness. It’s not terribly satisfying and the finish hints of glycerol (which I’m sure is not in there, but that’s what it feels like).

Hard-core Japanese whisky otaku may as well give the Tokinoka a try for the lolz. Everyone else, just grab yourself a good cup of green tea, you’ll feel a lot better afterwards.

Tokinoka 2