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Whisky Review #99 – Westland Peated Single Malt

This is the other American whiskey that we tried at the Secret Mermaid. It is Geek’s Choc’s choice as he does love his peat. It was also a safe choice as he had tried another expression from Westland previously at The Wall SG.

This expression is a Westland single malt peated whiskey. Being a non-chill-filtered whiskey adds creditability to it, and we thought that it was indeed a safe dram to order. Let’s see if we are right!

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Gold
ABV: 46%

Nose: Sweet, ripe pears, bananas, peat smoke and a hint of cinnamon spice hit the nose immediately and remains constant throughout. It almost reminds us of a Scotch! It is charming to me, and I could nose it all day. However, it is one-dimensional and proves to be somewhat unexciting. (16/20)

Palate: Sweet pears and light banana notes are prominent as the liquid stays in the mouth. A whiff of smoke passes in the back of the throat as the liquid goes down, and disappears immediately once we swallow. Again, it remains us of a young and light, ex-bourbon matured Scotch. The bite of the spirit is not sharp, but evident in the palate. (16/20)

Finish: It has a medium finish with lots of oak and subtle sweetness on the side. (15/20)

Body: It could be more balanced if the finish does not disappoint. However, the finish is lacking, and this dram becomes one-dimensional and straightforward. Gentle on the nose and palate, it is a good starting dram or an introduction to peat for a non-peat drinker. I also find it too much like a Scotch, even though it is an American whiskey. So, while I would like to give it a higher score, I hold back because I think it can be better in its category as an American whiskey.  (31/40)

Total Score: 78/100

Comments:

Geek Flora: “I like this whiskey! It is almost Scotch-like, and it has the usual flavours that I like in my peaty whisky. However, I need to remain myself that it is an American whiskey – a category that is supposed to give more sweetness, more flavours. This is a very mellow dram. I am torn between giving it a higher score and the score I eventually gave because I think that while bourbon drinkers who love the strong flavours will find this interesting, it will not be a dram they will return to very often. On the other hand, Scotch drinkers will like this but still will return to Scotch.”

Geek Choc: “It is a whiskey that I don’t mind drinking at all. Too much like a Scotch, but it can be a refreshing change especially if the cost for a bottle is lower than a typical Scotch. However, just like what Flora said, I would eventually still return to my favourite Scotch.” 

 

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    Whisky Review #98 – Belgian Dark Strong Style

    I am not an American whiskey fan generally due to my aversion to things that tasted too sweet. The unfortunate fact remains that American whiskey, as a group, is often too sweet for me and my tolerance to it is probably just a half pour at a bar. Nonetheless, there are some whiskeys which are delicious to me; State 38’s bourbon and rye, for example, as well as famous Maker’s Mark!

    I always wanted to try other whiskeys because I have friends who love bourbon and encourage me to try them beyond the usual. So Geek Choc and I had some crazy ideas last week and decided to pay a visit to an American bar in search of crafted bourbons. We walked into The Secret Mermaid, and after getting seated at the bar, we were offered a cocktail menu. It took some time and lots of efforts to attract the staff at the bar before we got the proper whiskey menu. As there were no recommendations forthcoming even though I mentioned it was our first time, we ordered something that sounds interesting.

    One of the whiskeys we ordered is this – Belgian Dark Strong Style. Crafted by the Chicago Distilling Company, it is a single malt whiskey! To be honest, I went with some expectations. I was hoping to be convinced. Was I convinced?

    Let’s find out!

    Tasting notes:

    Colour: Dark Amber
    ABV: 45%

    Nose: Strong notes of dried preserved plums come head on right from the start, with sandalwood following right behind. There are some orange notes and burnt sugar in the back. It defines itself as an American whiskey right away, and there is no doubt that I am possibly not going to like the palate very much. Objectively though, the nose is exciting and it does make me want to taste it. (17/20)

    Palate: Sandalwood, burnt sugar, and cloves combined to give an awkward taste to the palate at first, but then oakiness comes forth with a touch of dried preserved plums as the liquid went down the throat. I would say that, objectively, the palate is strange but not unpleasant for those who like bourbons. I like how the dried preserved plums surface at the back of the throat and soothe out the bite from the cloves. (15/20)

    Finish: The finish is relatively short in terms of flavours in the palate. Some saltiness at the back of the throat and a tiny burst of sweetness before everything ends prematurely. However, the warmth of the liquid lingers in the throat for quite a while, giving us a pleasant warmth. (16/20)

    Body: To be fair, it is a balanced dram. I think that as a bourbon, it has outdone some of the others which I had tried. Maybe it will taste better (to me) on the rocks. The sweetness is not overpowering but I still find the notes too strange for my liking. However, the saltiness of the dram adds a touch of surprise in an otherwise simple dram. For that, I must give it credit! (33/40)

    Total Score: 81/100

    Disclaimer: I think I may be biased here, but it is my honest opinion. I do welcome those who had tried this to give their thoughts about it on our Facebook post!

    Comments:

    Geek Flora: “I failed to like this, even though I tried very hard. The style is too different and while I find myself falling in love with Welsh whisky, English whisky and even Nordic whisky, I cannot bring myself to like American whiskey too much. Thankfully, there are still some which I can enjoy, like State 38’s DC Loveday Bourbon and Maker’s Mark!

    Geek Choc: “I think I like this. While I agree with Flora’s review of the whiskey, I think this is an interesting dram and one which brings a different feel to my usual whisky choices. While it will not be my first choice of whisky, I do not mind having it now and then.” 

     

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      Whiskey Review #75 – Tennessee 2003 (JD)

      American Whiskey is a class of its own with Bourbon, Tennessee and Rye playing the most significant share. While we have shared some American whiskey previously, we were not a big fan of it due to the overwhelming sweetness that we tend to get from corn distillate. However, we tried this bottle of Tennessee recently, and it was so good that we were taken aback! Is that even Tennessee?! It tasted like a sherry-matured Scotch!

      Brief History of the bottle

      The Tennessee we have here is an independent bottling by The Whisky Agency (TWA) for Kaohsiung, Taiwan. It was a joint-bottling by four different bars – The Drunken Master Whisky Bar (TDM), Inn Bistro, Goodness Bistro and Bar Diary. Each bar owner has tasted and agreed to bottle this whiskey for their bars. We got this from TDM, and it proved to be a right thing to do!

      What is Tennessee?

      Tennessee whiskey is different from Bourbons due to a particular step within the whiskey making process. While both liquid comes from at least 51% corn, Tennessee whiskey goes through an additional phase before the whiskey makes it to the barrel for maturation. Tennessee makers steep or filter the new whiskey in charcoal chips.

      All Tennessee whiskey makers make their whiskey slightly differently. This particular bottle comes from Jack Daniel’s (JD), so the method is as follows:

      • Soak Sugar Maple Wood in 140 proof Jack Daniel’s
      • Set the wood on fire and reduced it to charcoal
      • Ground the charcoal to bean-sized pellets
      • Pour new whiskey through the pellets and placed into barrels.

      Distilled in 2003, TWA bottled this JD in 2017. It is labelled as a 13-year-old as it did not spend the full 14th year before bottling. In a technical sense, you can think of this bottle as a 13.5-year-old.

      Now that you have a better understanding of this bottle, let’s deep dive into the tasting notes!

      Tasting Notes

      Colour: Burnt Gold/Amber
      ABV: 50.7%

      Nose: Sweet caramel hits immediately with light spice hiding in the background. On the second sniff, we detect some sweet cream, almost like an ice-cream soda from F&N. Hints of preserved red dates and orange peels appear after a few minutes, enhancing the sweet nose to the next level. (19/20)

      Palate: Sweet sherry and caramel come rushing in before a sharp spice punches the palate and disappears as quickly as it appears. As we hold the liquid in the mouth, sweet fruitiness of red dates and cherries coats the palate beautifully. The spice hits again as we swallow, creating a warm and pleasant burn down the throat. Then, a surprise happens! A burst of cranberry juice coats the whole mouth, bringing the berry sweetness to a grand ending! (19/20)

      Finish: It has a relatively short finish with sweet red fruits, warm spice and a hint of cranberry juice. (17/20)

      Body: Oh my, what a beautiful dram! The superb nose and palate are presented so exceptionally, and the sweetness is not overwhelming. An untypical Tennessee for sure and one that we will want to keep drinking. Although we are slightly disappointed with the shorter than expected finish, it was good till the end! (37/40)

      Total Score: 92/100

      Comments:

      Geek Flora: This is the BEST Tennessee that I have ever tried so far! It gives me such a warm and happy feeling inside after drinking it! I will be sorry when we finish this bottle, but this is one whisky that is worth sharing!

      Geek Choc: This has to be the most impressive whiskey I have ever tried. My attempts at American whiskey were few as I find them far too sweet for my liking. This Tennessee, however, hits me in all the right places! 

       

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        Whisky Butler Special November Box

        November has come around, and the jingle bells are getting louder as we approach the end of the year. With December and Christmas just one month away, there is no better reason than the festive seasons to wind down and take a well-deserved break.  We have found a great way to wind down – sampling alcohol from Whisky Butler’s monthly box!

        The box in November is a special one because it showcases three of the most exceptional whiskies from America and one barrel-aged whisky cocktail! Well, that’s special, isn’t it? Do you remember our experiment from Manhattan Bar? We have shared information about the La Louisiana cocktail and the Sazerac Rye in our weekly updates, and now it has turned fruitful. All Whisky Butler’s members are going to taste it from the November box!

        Here are some interesting facts of the four drams that members will get to taste.

        1. Port-washed Sazerac Rye 6-year-old
          The port-washed Sazerac Rye is the highly anticipated whisky in this box because it is part of our experiment with Manhattan Bar. The Sazerac Rye has been placed into a port-laced barrel to age for almost a month before bottling. We have followed the changes of the rye from six days, thirteen days and nineteen days. The changes had been incredible. The finished product is fantastic!
        2. Michter’s 10-year-old Bourbon
          The Michter’s 10-year-old Bourbon has got a complicated history, and that appears to translate to its bourbon. The distillery has made many firsts, including promoting a lady – Pam Heilmann – to be their Master Distiller. That marks the first lady to serve as a Master Distiller in a Kentucky Distiller Association since prohibition. This bourbon is a balanced, caramel liquid that soothes rather than excites. The well-coordinated nose, palate and finish mean that you could probably drink this all day long.
        3. High West Campfire
          High West Campfire is a unique whisky because it is a blend of peated blended Scotch, straight bourbon and straight rye. Inspired by a visit to Bruichladdie distillery, High West founders, David and Jane Perkins decided to create a blend of whisky that transpires both geographic and stylistic borders. The final formula has produced a whisky that is perfect for a campfire, or perhaps a road trip to nowhere.
        4. La Louisiana Cocktail (High West OMG Pure White Rye Blend)
          The last one is the exceptional whisky cocktail that is exclusive to Manhattan Bar. The whisky in this expression is the High West OMG Pure White Rye. What is unique about this cocktail is the marrying of the various spirits in a fresh American oak barrel instead of a shaken one. The barrel acted as a stability cask to blend the spirits and neutralised the jagging notes of each spirit. The outcome is a thick, chewy and sweet cocktail that is pleasing to almost every palate.

        Such offerings do not come often, and what’s more with such exotic whiskies to try! As WhiskyGeeks are part of the experiment for the November box, we are extending an invitation to all WhiskyGeeks’ members to sign up for the Whisky Butler’s membership. The first five members to sign up will also be invited to an exclusive pilot tasting session at the Manhattan Bar.

        What are you waiting for? Send your contact details to WhiskyGeeks at slainte@whiskygeeks.sg or PM us via Facebook, and we will link you up with Whisky Butler for the membership application!

         

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