Posts Tagged With: whisky

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!


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.


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.


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.


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…..?



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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.



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.



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.



…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.



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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Tasting Notes: Mackmyra – Skördetid


Mackmyra – Skördetid

Mackmyra are renowned for their no age statement, flavour-dominated expressions and are very capable of keeping their collectors happy with numerous limited editions and seasonal releases. This whisky is no different in that respect, but quite different in many others. This seasonal release is named with the Swedish word for “harvest time” and is intended to celebrate the flavours of the grape vine harvest, by maturing some of Mackmyra’s quality stock from the Bodas mines for a final 6 months in Amarone red wine casks (provided by Masi Costasera). The packaging of the full product matches the latter’s former barrel contents with red wine colours and certainly befits the festive season for which it has been released. Available for a limited time only, this expression is bottled at the distillery’s preferred favourite 46.1% ABV.



Wow. There’s so much going on here. There’s that distinctive sweet and malty Mackmyra barley, but it is also quite drying, with a nutty spice. It’s a pretty punchy and fresh spirit here too – still recognisable as coming from their raw spirit (Vit Hund) nose – with quite a lot of sweetness. Not too much vanilla sweetness though, and with the red fruit influence there also and a fresh wood / saw dust note in the background, this could be my longest nosing note yet!



Strong malt to begin with, giving it a big biscuit bite, then comes the red grape fruitiness that we’ve been waiting for and some warming spices like nutmeg and ginger.



It’s a firey finish. Quite chemically actually but it soon dissipates. Juicy red fruits left behind (strawberries, cherries, and more red grapes). A cut and dry finale.



Clearly the red wine casks are playing their part and strongly influencing the Mackmyra body that I’ve come to recognise (see notes on 7 other Mackmyra releases here). It’s certainly tasty stuff. Given the timing involved, I would love to taste the whisky again after way more than it’s 6 months in the Amarone casks as experienced here. On balance it tastes a lot like their Brukswhisky with added dollops of raisins and red grapes. We’ll never know the age of this whisky, as that’s not the Swedes’ way, but it feels very fresh and young. The youth seems to make everything quite extreme on the palate too. Overall, there are a lot of strong flavours at play but it is all balanced well and I rather enjoyed this. I’m also glad that this featured in the Dram Team’s monthly subscription because at £75 per bottle, it’s not exactly something I’d buy on a whim – not that I could any more as it’s totally sold out! Chalk up another success for Mackmyra!


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