Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Whiskey and Philosophy

I am sure "self searching" used to mean something very different. Now, of course, it means banging one's own name into Google and hoping for plaudits. In a recent bout of "self searching", I found a nice mention of the essay I wrote for Whiskey and Philosophy, which was published by John Wiley & Sons last year.

I decided not to publicise that book at the time it hit the shelves because Wiley were so laughably miserly with their pay and because they did not inform me of this until after I had spent days writing for them.

Enough time time has passed for the pain to dull and for my ego to get the better of me. Farenheit173.com liked my essay:
That said, the best essays in the book are ex­cel­lent: Andrew Jefford's, Ian Buxton's and David Wishart's essays on whisky's history, provenance and authenticity; Ian Dove and Burnham/SkilleĆ„s on whisky tast­ing notes and Chris Bunting on Japanese whisky.

(As did the editors, who I do not blame for the wage niggles. And these two chaps on Amazon: 1,2. One of them even elevated me to Messianic status, which seemed to be taking things a bit far.)

Almost makes me feel it was worth my while writing the damn thing!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ichiro's Malt The Final Vintage of Hanyu

Review by Nonjatta contributor - Dramtastic:

Ichiro's Malt The Final Vintage of Hanyu 2000. 9 years old. 61.1 per cent alcohol.
Nose: Another woody Hanyu, but not in the same sweet variety as the likes of the Double Distilleries. Lots of varnish, also blueberries, subtle florals and oregano.
Palate: Without water, the spices run wild with plenty of heat. It warms the chest, as one might expect. A fair whack of dry woodiness as well. Adding water (which is pretty much mandatory) brings the florals out a little more on both nose and palate. Become slightly vegetal tastes, including steamed broccoli. There's also a toastiness, along with black pepper.
Finish: With or without water, this is fairly long, varnishy, woody, spicy and ultimately drying.
General comment: A little too woody and austere for my tastes. For me, it lacks finesse.

Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky - no age

Review by Nonjatta contributor - Dramtastic:

Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky no age statement. 43 per cent alcohol.
Nose: Pear, lemon, liquorice, oak, Juicy Fruit chewing gum, Straw, fresh strawberries and cream and fresh herbs.
Palate: Stewed pears, oak, liquorice, a bit dry and dusty with some pepper and nutmeg spice.
Finish: Medium length, straw, pears, liquorice. Drying.
General comment: This is a solid, easy to drink grain whisky. The nose is the highlight.

Nonjatta note: Because there is no age statement on this whisky, it is difficult to tell whether it was distilled at Nishinomiya, where Nikka previously had their coffey still, or at Miyagikyou, where it is now installed. The still moved in 1998/9. If any readers can clear this up, it would be appreciated.

Miyagikyou no age statement

Review by Nonjatta contributor - Dramtastic:

Miyagikyo no age statement. 43 per cent alcohol.
Nose: Pine, lime, green apples/apple peel, liquorice. The malt is there, but is in the background. The description sounds woody/citrusy, but there is also a sweetness there. The oak rears it's head after about 5 minutes, also some soapiness. Definite agave notes after about 10 minutes (nice for me, as I enjoy a good tequila as well).
Palate: Shows plenty of youthful exuberance. Creamy. Brazil nuts, nutmeg, malt and some lemon sherbet sweet tang.
Finish: Nicely malty now. Nutty, sweet spices. Not particularly long.
General comment: I also have a bottle of the Yoichi no age statement. I prefer the offering from Miyagikyo for once. Incredible value for a single malt in Japan at around 1,000 yen.

Nikka From the Barrel

Review by Nonjatta contributor - Dramtastic:

Nikka From the Barrel. 51.4 per cent alcohol.
Nose: Lots of chunky malt, mixed peel, dried apricots. A bowl of mixed nuts, wood stain and some subtle florals.
Palate: Just excellent! Tons of big beautifully integrated spices, creamy nuttiness, nougat and malty goodness. No need for water with this one as it's perfectly drinkable neat.
Finish: Long, warming, malty, nutty, spicy and mouth coating.
General comment: This is my No.1 "bang for your buck" whisky, bar none. Fortunately, it is not only good value in Japan, but also in Europe and the UK as well. A firm favourite with most of the people I know who've tried it. Sneak this one into your next blind tasting and I defy anyone to pick this as a blend. A two time award winner at the World Whisky awards, I find it very hard to stop at just one glass of this stuff.

Suntory Special Reserve Whisky 10 yo

Review by Nonjatta contributor - Dramtastic:

Suntory Special Reserve Whisky. Aged 10 years. 43 per cent alcohol.
Nose: Nicely fruity: peaches, bananas and pineapple. Vanilla, gentle oak and sawdust. After a while, a vegetal element emerges balancing out the sweetness.
Palate: Immediate spiciness, nuts, fresh baked scones and stewed apples.
Finish: Nicely warming and mouth coating with a medium length; nuts and custard over stewed apples.
General Comment: A classy blend of good complexity.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Suntory Pure Malt Whisky Tarudashi Genshu 58 percent

Review by Nonjatta contributor - Dramtastic:

Suntory Pure Malt Whisky Tarudashi Genshu 58 percent Alcohol

Nose: Oak and toffee. Wine and brine.
Palate: As expected, very punchy at 58%. This one will need water as the hot spices at cask strength overwhelm everything else. With water, this whisky becomes more creamy and custardy. Not particularly malty.
Finish: With water, it is warming, of good length, creamy, spicy with a hint of wine.
General comment: This won't be on the repeat purchase list, but it was fun and worth trying.

Nonjatta note: Although it is called a "pure malt", I think this is actually a Yamazaki single malt. The neck label says it is from 1993 (winter??). I am guessing that means it was distilled in 1993. It was obtained directly from the Yamazaki distillery. "Tarudashi Genshu" can be roughly translated as "Straight from the cask, cask strength."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Yamazaki Distillery Tarudashi Genshu 10 yo

Review by Nonjatta contributor - AshDLS:

Yamazaki Distillery Tarudashi Genshu 10-year-old. 57 per cent alcohol (abv).
Colour: A wonderful rich gold colour. It has a relatively gentle (but mouth-watering) nose for such a strong alcohol content. The first thing that hit my nose was the wood of the cask and a floral character, but give it some time and warmth and it's like waving a freshly-cut green apple right under your nose. I've also noticed a couple of standard 10yo reviews mention a paint-like scent. It's definitely prominent in this one too, with a deep whiff, but certainly not in an unpleasant way.
Mouth: The mouth feel is like running your tongue up against in the inside of a cask! [Nonjatta Ed.: be careful of splinters!] A reasonable amount of dry spice on the palate with a honeyish sweetness trailing not far behind. Could quite happily sip away at this one without adding any water (despite having given it a go). It is not as overwhelming as other cask-strength malts."

Nonjatta note: "Tarudashi Genshu" means "Straight from the cask, cask strength." Ash tells me this was picked up from the distillery last year.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Ichiro's Malt Double Distilleries

Review by Nonjatta contributor - Dramtastic:

Ichiro's Malt Double Distilleries. 46 per cent alcohol (abv).
Nose: Lots of woody notes. Kind of like being in a carpenter's workshop, but sweet and floral, not austere. Also, unscented soap, pears and green apples.
Palate: Basically follows the nose but adds sweet spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and licorice) and a slight soapiness to the mouth feel.
Finish: Palate smacking sweet spices, sweet woodiness, florals, licorice, cream and a hint of mint ice cream.
General Comment: Nothing much to complain about with this one, unless you have an aversion to woody malts.

Nikka Pure Malt "Hokkaido" 12-year-old

Review by Nonjatta contributor - Dramtastic:

Nikka Pure Malt "Hokkaido" 12-year-old. 43 per cent alcohol.
Nose: Malt, oak, butter, pear, varnish, unscented soap, blueberries and cheese. Yep, cheese.
Palate: There's a big malt component; blueberry cheesecake, cream, walnuts and toffee.
Finish: Medium length. Unscented soap and cheese. Malt, toffee and walnuts that cling to the palate, and some sweet spices.
General comment: Interesting but good.

Nikka Whisky All Malt

Review by Nonjatta contributor - Dramtastic:

Nikka All Malt. 40 per cent alcohol.
Nose: Maybe I've been sucked in by the name but this does indeed smell very malty. Lots of chewy toffee, walnuts, fresh cut timber, pears and pineapple.
Palate: Again nicely malty; pineapple, lemon sherbet, walnuts, nutmeg, dried mixed herbs and pepper.
Finish: Medium length: warming, malty and medium spiced.
General Comment: This is a good solid whisky that is reasonably complex. It is easy to drink a few glasses. An everyday drinker that's great value in Japan, at around 1,000 yen.

Nonjatta note: This is an "All Malt blend" meaning that malt (rather than the usual grain) has been distilled in a Coffey still and added to a pot still distilled malt.