Tasting Notes: The English Whisky Co – The English (Original)

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The Englishman holding the English Whisky at the English Distillery

Since 2006, the Norfolk-based distillery has been making whisky and operating under the name of St. George’s Distillery, run by the English Whisky Company (EWC) – the “cheeky bastards!” as actor David Hayman once put it. Following some recent transatlantic grumblings however, the St. George brand has been put to bed here in Blighty and the EWC has now re-branded itself as the English Whisky Company outright, and with it released two new mini-ranges: “The English” and “The Norfolk” – which will run along side the ongoing chapter naming convention. For the purpose of this exercise, we are examining the “Original” release of The English (as opposed to the Smokey release), which is a no-age-statement single malt release, bottled at 43% ABV.

 

Nose

After the initial boozy blast there is lingering sweetness here and all of the whisky’s constituent parts seem to reveal themselves: barley sugars, malt, and vanilla. The scents then melt into a toffee-rich sweetness with a feint smell of lemon/grapefruit tartness afterwards.

 

Taste

More of the same is delivered with a vanilla-centric flavour this time. That said, it’s still pretty malty and has an overall fudgy flavour (maybe it’s had a stir with the caramel stick?) and has a slightly astringent sharpness again at the end.

 

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The English

 

Finish

Vanilla sweetness dominates again, but now there’s a little bit of a spice element at play, that I hadn’t picked up on the nose or when in the mouth. It’s a pretty short finish though with the alcohol appearing and disappearing pretty quickly.

 

Verdict

Overall, this is a pretty easy-drinking whisky. All the key components are there for this to be an enjoyable “whisky drink” but, when compared to many other single malt whiskies, it seems more like a box-checking exercise for a non-peated whisky. To be fair, that’s probably what EWC are aiming for too. It has got a good malt character, but falls short of being interesting for any particular reason. It’s not unpleasant by any means, although a few more years in the barrel could probably remove that more astringent sharpness. A little bit of water actually kills it dead, and leaves more of a piney/chemically aftertaste. It is probably more of a whisky for the uninitiated or someone who is after a quick and easy malt without wanting to make lists of tasting notes (which is what some of us want, you know, from time to time!). Of course, it’s true novelty is that it is English and, by that nature, will therefore ensure that it shifts the units and so, in conclusion: Original it is not. Easy drinking it is.

M

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Original or Smoky?

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Tasting Notes: The English Whisky Co – Chapter 16 – Peated Sherry Cask

The English Whisky Co – Chapter 16

Okay, so for those of you who have read our previous post about the WU visit to the English Whisky Co’s new shop/café/chutney-outlet, you will know that we weren’t exactly blown away by their hospitality (see here, if not). Having said that, it didn’t stop the wallets coming out and bottles being bought.

After surveying the scene, I went all-in on the Chapter 16 Smokey PX Cask Matured chap! So let’s open the box… and the first thing we’re hit with is a message telling us to enjoy…good start!

Nose

Boom…no doubt we have a young’un here…phew I can tell from the nose that water is gonna be a necessary addition here, however like the whisky soldier I am I persevere. Yep there’s sherry here and it’s flowing through like mist through a valley of peat. (So poetic it hurts…) Smoke, yes, but not overwhelming. For newbies to peated whisky this isn’t one to fear. There is also a freshly harvested gain hint as well, especially if you rub a bit on your hands, yep I do that, weirdo I know! It’s fair to say that that could be it for the nose, but let it warm up and revisit it and there’s more depth, oak tones almost fruity red wines or, dare I say, a faint hit of mulled wine.

Taste

Okay so there’s the proof that water is needed, because it’s lively and even a little pokey but overall, satisfyingly tasty. Fruit cake, glacé cherries, a definite sherry hint and then there it is that smoke (obvs, as the kids would say). It’s not a thick whack around the head like an Ardbeg 10 or Bruichladdich Octomore but rather a wafting of smoke from the croft’s fire. I likey it’s a tasty chap that’s for sure.

Finish

It has a finish, and that’s a good thing! For me it’s a “more, more, more” finish. I instantly want to go in again for another sip. However, I resist and a short but pleasing warmth builds and the embers of smoke and a touch of sweetness hang around for you to enjoy.

Verdict

So let’s sum this little English Whisky imposter up. I’m gonna say it…it’s too expensive. There…elephant in the room mentioned. I am not saying it’s cheap tasting because it certainly isn’t, it’s a quality spirit, but just not £49 worth. It is a perfect winter’s night, fireside companion. Its more-ish with plenty of flavour to keep you happy but it doesn’t have real depths like other peaty numbers. Then again, maybe it’s not meant to be competing with those big boys. Chapter 16 – Peated Sherry Cask is definitely still in short trousers, but who doesn’t still wanna be running around in short trousers…..?

8/10

T

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Tasting Notes: Kavalan – Concertmaster

Kavalan – Concertmaster

Whenever a new business is set up, it’s founders will have big aspirations. When Kavalan was set up in 2005, it was no exception. Their distillery even reportedly has a sign outside stating that it (and by extension, Taiwan) is “The New Homeland Of Whisky”. A pretty bold statement. It may not have come as much of a shock to them 10 years later then that their Solist Vinho Barrique was awarded World Whiskey Of The Year in 2015, but it did to a lot of other people. Proving that you don’t have to rely on an age statement, Kavalan have been focussing strongly on flavour, and this is no more evident than in their Concertmaster release. Branded as a port cask finished whisky, this young whisky (it has to be right?) has been part of the mainstay Kavalan expressions, and is also matured in wine casks ensuring that it pours in a rich, mahogany colour at 40% ABV.

 

Nose

Wow. There are some strong and deep flavours in battle for your attention here. Redcurrants and other red berries are the first to poke through and there’s a strong oak body to this. It has quite a firey boozy nose too, particularly down at 40%, but it is complemented by the sweetness of toffee/caramel and dark sugars.

 

Taste

Once it’s in the mouth, it is surprisingly soft textured and a lot less boozy than the vapours were letting on. It’s a lighter, softer melee of flavours too with summery red fruits (strawberries and raspberries) at play, offsetting the oak flavour (which is still quite present) and a hint of spice towards the end. After reading about the whisky in 101 Whiskies… I also can’t seem to avoid that liquorice note afterwards.

 

Finish

…and the fire is back! The alcohol returns to the flavour profile and warms you up pretty quickly. That oak spice is there again but the lasting flavour is that of raisins. Lots of raisins in fact. The final lingering flavour is a really satisfying juicy note.

 

Verdict

Well, the notes that I have read talk a lot about the whisky’s balance, but in my experience, this was more about a tussle between robust flavours that each then break free from the complex combination as you enjoy the drink. It’s a battle between the extreme influences too, as the sweetness of the port and wine casks are offset by a savoury, spicy backbone from the oak. Considering its youth, (maybe 5-6 years old) the complexity of the whisky belies its years, and maybe it’s that younger, fresher alcohol that’s stirring the ingredient flavours so thoroughly. Overall, a very fruity whisky which could easily venture into liqueur territory if it wasn’t for the oak body and boozy burn reminding you that it is a single malt. That Art Deco packaging is pretty cool too, albeit this was courtesy of a Drinks By The Dram sample only. Definitely a great experience and certainly one to try if you can (and before you die, of course, finding itself at #59 in one such list)!

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