Monthly Archives: September 2017

RIP Joe Brandie

This Sunday (Sept 24th) we received the sad news that the longtime barman and gentleman of the Fiddichside Inn, Speyside has passed away, aged 88.

We were lucky enough to have met the man in March last year, and had received a tip-off from a friend that no trip to Speyside was complete without having visited the Fiddichside Inn and having a chat with the quaint publican who served fine whiskies, in the heart of scotch whisky country but with the name Brandie! Sure enough, we set off down the old railway line from Aberlour and ended up at a bridge over a rolling stream and saw a little cloud of smoke coming from the chimney of an old whitewashed pub. When we got to the door, we noticed that the pub was not due to open for another 30 minutes or so, but as we started to ponder knocking on the door anyway, Joe opened the door and beckoned our rain-soaked troop into the warm, tiny bar. There we sat in front of a freshly lit fire and chatted with him about his time behind the bar, the history of the area from his perspective and his love of fishing, before the regulars streamed in at the standard opening hour, all happy to be in the company of Mr Brandie.

If you search #fiddichsideinn on twitter, you will find numerous people with similar stories to ours and lots of lovely tweets and dedications to the gentle, spirited man, who reportedly had only taken 4 days off in his 57 years behind the bar.

I won’t gush anymore, but here is a video that we have put together of our short visit and warm meeting (in many senses of the word) with Scotland’s longest serving innkeeper.

Rest in peace, Joe Brandie

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Tasting Notes: Benromach – Triple Distilled

Benromach – Triple Distilled

Speyside’s Benromach have released some of my favourite whiskies of late. Their Organic release and their now flagship 10yo display a great balance of fruit, oak and smoke. When I had read that they were releasing a triple distilled edition, it left me wondering how the third distillation would affect the flavours and profile of their whisky, so I was thrilled to take part in the The Whisky Wire’s Tweet Tasting. The Triple Distilled release sits within Benromach’s “Contrasts” series of releases, which all see have been produced with a distinctive difference to at least one aspect of their standard whisky creation (including the different “Wood Finish” releases – which I will come onto in a later post). The Benromach Triple Distilled, and is available now for £45 RRP.

50% ABV

 

Nose

Very pure/clean. Barley upfront. Soft fruity smells – apricot & papaya. Vanilla and oak. All of these initial smells remind me of Kellogg’s Just Right. After a bit of time there’s a ginger smell and delicate smoky back. Lots going on here.


Taste

Delicious vanilla custard tart at first and then BOOM the 50% ABV (which the nose was not giving away at all) hits you. A few more sips to acclimatise and those vanilla and fruit flavours return.


Finish

It’s a boozy one to begin with and the sweetness fades first and leaves a delicate, classic Benromach smoke.


Verdict 

Given that this whisky was bottled at 50% ABV and has been triple distilled, then I was expecting it to resemble the distillery’s 100 Proof release with a more Irish whiskey finish. In general, the fellow tweet tasters thought that the extra distillation might have removed some of the distinctive character  that Benromach display, but for me, I thought that they had largely remained in tact but where their smoke finish had been taken away slightly, it had been replaced with with a smoother, softer finish. The nose, taste and finish all carried the fruity flavours across, whilst the alcohol, oak and smoke all had to take their turn. The nose really didn’t really let on that the whisky was at a relatively high alcohol percentage, but it soon made itself known one taste and finish, and as the booze burned away some of the more delicate fruity flavours it did let the smoky flavours reveal themselves towards the end. I don’t want to get too wrapped up in it, and too many things these days have a “journey”, but this was a really enjoyable dram that took me on bit of a boozy ride with lots of aspects and places of interest along the way.

 

M

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Tasting Notes: Eden Mill – Art Of The Blend No. 4

Eden Mill – Art Of The Blend Whisky No. 4

Back in 2012, the folks at Eden Mill resurrected a tradition of distilling within St Andrews on a site originally opened by Haig in 1810. Since the distillery’s rebirth, the Eden Mill team have been handcrafting their own whisky, gin and beer at (according to their website) “Scotland’s only single site combined brewery and distillery”. Whilst we await the release of their first single malt in 2018, the distillers have released their own series of blends in limited batches. Courtesy of Lara’s generosity, and a lot of luck on our behalf, we’ve received a beautifully bottled sample of their fourth “Art Of the Blend” release.

Accompanied by a handwritten note from the team at Eden Mill (see below – tying in with their approach to handcrafting everything!), we discover that the whiskies within their Blend No. 4 have been married together and then matured in Portuguese ex-port European oak casks. The whisky is limited to 1,100 bottles and rocks in at 51% ABV so without further ado JB & me take on this new release

Nose

J: Port (obviously) and freshly sawn oak.

M: Cherries. Kirsch. Plum Gin. So many boozy red fruits. 

Taste

J: Slightly smoky actually. Very dry. The strength of the booze takes over. Late tastes of charcoal and slightly peppery at the end.

M: Oak. Pine. It’s all the woods upfront. It’s big and powerful. Really big in fact. The fruits have been blasted away by the booze. Some water and time though and those red berries and cherries reappear.

Finish

J: Really peppery and spicy oak.

M: Strong, strong booze finish. Like an amplified red wine coating the throat. 

Verdict

J: Port is a lot more present on the nose than when you’re drinking it but maybe the alcohol just masks it. It’s pretty strong stuff with lots going on, and that charcoal taste caps it off for me.

M: Well this is the probably the first time I’ve ever had a pink whisky and the fact that it has been so heavily influenced by the ex-port casks to become so has made for an interesting experience. There is an amazing nose. So different to anything I’ve had of late. The port has obviously done its work here. It’s kind of a shame that it doesn’t seem to carry that fruity intensity through to the end, but then again that might would probably make it more like a liqueur than a full-on whisky, which this is. As soon as it comes to tastes though, oak is the main stay here and the fruit is left in the wings. Some taming with water though and we’re right back to those berries and this a really enjoyable fruity tipple. 

Handcrafted / Hand-drafted

Special thanks go to Lara (@EdenMill_Lara) for picking the WhiskyUnplugged name out of the hat and for sending through the sample. Any time!

Categories: Eden Mill, Tasting Notes | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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