Posts Tagged With: World Whisky

Tasting Notes: Glen Moray – 1994 Sherry Cask Finish (Distillery Edition)

Glen Moray – 1994 Sherry Cask Finish

Well here we have a 22+ year old whisky from the Speyside kings at Glen Moray. This expression sits outside of the distillery’s standard offerings from within their Elgin ranges and so offers up something rare and limited that fans of the distillery will no doubt wish to get their hands on. The competition to do so will probably ramp up even further now with more whisky punters trying to get their hands on a bottle after it has been awarded the title of “Best Speyside Single Cask Singe Malt” during the World Whisky Awards 2018. Reportedly, the whisky has been matured for 16 years in a bourbon barrel before then being finished for a final 6 years in a sherry cask. Bottled at dizzying 56.7% ABV, let’s see if this deserves top prize…

 

 

Nose

That’s a nice, thick, and heady nose off the bat. Get past the boozy blast (though it’s not as potent as the digits would let on) and there’s stewed orange and dark fruits at play with a warmth of autumn/winter spices for good measure. It’s also got a good cake-y smell to it – along the lines of a sticky toffee pudding or treacle tart.

 

Taste

The taste just amplified everything that the nose had to offer. Big fruit flavours at the fore here, such as oranges, cherries and raisins. There’s more of an added sugary sweetness to the flavour too that then gets wrapped up in a wintry warmth with cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon. It’s all there.

 

Finish

Man that alcohol finally shows up on the finish. Woah. Lingering finish of fruit cake courtesy of that classic sherry and oak combo.

 

Verdict

It’s too easy these days to get wrapped up in awards and titles and to unintentionally pre-judge a whisky by its numbers and processes. Just sit back and think for a moment. This whisky was first distilled and put into a cask when Alanis Morrisette first started writing Jagged Little Pill and when Oasis were just making it big in the UK with Definitely Maybe. That’s a long time, our kid. (Probably a travesty for anyone from outside Manchester to use that phrase, sorry). Since those releases came out a lot has happened and whilst both albums have drifted from breakthrough status to being considered “classics” of their era, during that whole time, this whisky has been sat there. What has it been doing? Well, for one it has really been absorbing the flavours of the barrels’ former contents and it is worth the wait. As the name suggests, yes it is a sherry rich whisky, but it is rounded off at the edges by the sweeter influences and is all the better for it. Part of me doesn’t want to give any credence to awards and gold medals, as I believe that the whisky should just be enjoyed by the individual drinking it, but this dram does rate very highly in my book and deserves high praise. Plus, you’ve got to admit that with such a large panel at the World Whisky Awards that does feature some big names on it (Charles Maclean for one) it’s probably worth checking this out (if you can get your hands on some). In short, this whisky really does taste like it is a rock and roll star.

M

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The world has spoken in 2015…

…and it has said “Ho ta lah!” – or at least that’s the closest phonetic spelling I can find for the Taiwanese equivalent to cheers!

 

Yes, the World Whisky Awards for 2015 were held recently to determine the best whiskies in the world across a multitude of categories and they have awarded their top honour of “World’s Best Single Malt Whisky” to the Taiwanese distillers of Kavalan, for their Solist Vinho Barrique expression. And anything described as “bourbon-infused milk chocolate” would probably get my vote too. Its a single cask release, making it rare, and is bottled at cask strength, so its certainly not pulling any punches at 58.6% ABV, so keep an eye out in the auction rooms, because this stuff is nowhere to be seen on the shelves!

 

The full round-up of winners can be found here (http://www.worldwhiskiesawards.com/2015/all.html)  but here’s a list of the overall winners from each category:

 

Overall winners:

  • World’s best single malt: Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique (Taiwan)
  • World’s best grain whisky: Darkness! North British 18 Year Old Oloroso Cask Finish (Scotland)
  • World’s best pot still whiskey: Redbreast Pot Still 15 Year Old (Ireland)
  • World’s best American whiskey: Thomas H Handy Sazerac Straight Rye (USA)
  • World’s best blend: That Boutique-y Whisky Company Blended Whisky #1 (Scotland)
  • World’s best blended malt: Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt 17 Year Old (Japan)
  • World’s best scotch blended malt: Wemyss Malts Velvet Fig (Scotland)
  • World’s best flavoured whisky: Master of Malt 40 Year Old Speyside Whisky Liqueur (Scotland)

 

International categories:

  • Best African blended whisky: Three Ships Bourbon Cask Finish (South Africa)
  • Best African single malt: Three Ships Single Malt 10 Year Old (South Africa)
  • Best American single malt: Balcones Texas Single Malt (Texas)
  • Best Australian single malt: Sullivan’s Cove French Oak Cask Matured (Tasmania)
  • Best European single malt: Mackmyra Iskristall (Sweden)
  • Best Irish blended whiskey: Tullamore Dew Phoenix (Ireland)
  • Best Irish single malt: Teeling Single Malt (Ireland)
  • Best Japanese blended whisky: Suntory Hibiki 12 Year Old (Japan)
  • Best Japanese single malt: Suntory Yamazaki 18 Year Old (Japan)

 

Scottish categories:

  • Best Campbeltown single malt: Longrow 11 Year Old
  • Best Highland single malt: Glenmorangie Extremely Rare 18 Year Old
  • Best Lowland single malt: Highland Harvest Single Malt Sauternes Wood
  • Best Islands single malt: Ledaig 10 Year Old
  • Best Islay single malt: Ardbeg Kildalton
  • Best Speyside single malt: Benriach 16 Year Old

 

This seems like another turning point in the story of world whiskies. Comparing this year’s result to last year’s 2014 winner – Sullivan’s Cove French Oak Cask, from Tasmania, Australia (which still won best Australian dram this year) – it seems that not only is the whisky world wide open, but it is thriving and excelling in its craft. That and French wine casks are going to be even more sought after in the coming years.

 

Some people may challenge the validity of these types of awards, but given that 2015 has seen whisky guru Jim Murray awarding his whisky of the year to Yamazaki’s 2013 Sherry Cask release and has previously awarded his ‘New Whisky of the Year’ to Kavalan, there seems to be a trend forming. For collectors this might be a call to start diversifying your purchases, whereas others may see this as a time to get behind the Scottish and Irish founders of the dram, but whichever your persuasion, you can’t deny that this is a good and vibrant time for whisky makers and appreciators worldwide.

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Venue Review – The Baxter Inn, Sydney

I was recently lucky enough to head down to Australia for a holiday and I had the opportunity to roam around Sydney’s central business district with a mate of mine who had emigrated down under some years ago. Regardless of the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, the Botanic Gardens, the Blue Mountains or the endless number of beaches, he said that I had to visit The Baxter Inn, or simply “Baxter’s” to the locals. That’s some pretty stiff competition, right there.

As we walked through the bustling streets, my friend-turned-tour-guide warned me that it might appear that he was lost when trying to reach our destination because essentially it was to be found down a dingy alleyway, around the back of a building, and down a concrete stairwell, none of which had any lighting. Nice. He confessed to having learned to give this advance warning due to recently nearly petrifying an unsuspecting girl when taking her to the inn on a first date… And if I hadn’t known him for 20 years, I would have been rather uneasy too.

What awaited us behind the door at the bottom of this dank stairwell however was a thing of beauty. The Baxter Inn is an underground bar. More importantly, an underground whisky bar. In fact, it is a re-imagining of a 1920s Prohibition-era speakeasy and the whisky selection is vast. And I mean VAST. Like, more than 300 options vast.

Baxter Inn - Whisky Menu

Baxter Inn – Whisky Menu

The venue was already packed by 5.30pm, but comfortably so, and the light jazz soundtrack added to the fairy-light and candlelit atmosphere. Even the posters on the wall fit the theme perfectly. We made our way through the throng of punters to the centre of the bar and behind the counter stood a large menu, from floor to ceiling, detailing all of the different whiskies available. Either side of this gargantuan picklist towered a giant bank of whisky bottles, each of which had its own ladder so that the staff could reach the top shelves, like some sort of awesome whisky library. I was in heaven.

The range of whiskies available went from the standard blends and entry-level single malts of most of the scotch distilleries up to very rare expressions, including Glenfarclas 40, Highland Park 40 and Yamazaki 2013 Sherry Cask release (Jim Murray’s Whisky of the Year for 2015) – just a pinch at AUD$300, $260 and $200 respectively per measure. World whiskies were well represented with ample choice of American whiskies and bourbons, Japanese whiskies, a spread of European representatives, and a handful of the more local Australian (particularly Tasmanian) varietals.

Baxter Inn - Bank 1 of 2

Baxter Inn – Bank 1 of 2

And the staff know their stuff. Their knowledge and recommendations based on your own favourites/experiences were spot on. Their expertise didn’t stop at whiskies either for that matter as they had an impressive list of cocktails available and a decent selection of beers stocked too, particularly Aussie craft beers.

Being bit of a peathead and avoiding any of my standard tipples when faced with such an array of liquors, I opted for a Port Askaig 12 year old, which is a delicious dram and not one of the easiest Islay spirits to find anywhere, let alone on the other side of the planet to where it comes from! I savoured both the dram and the experience before having to move on to our evening’s entertainment, but given half the chance, I’d still be there now and I’d wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone – fans of whisky or otherwise, no worries.

 

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