It has been a very long time since the ‘Distilled Beer’ forum met. Last time i think was before this horrible Israeli summer began, and i missed a meeting or two when wee Carmel was born.
Now it was time to meet again with the forum and this time the them was Whiskies of the world, anything but Scotch and American (almost, as you will see).
We met at Oren’s apartment in R’aanana which was nice as it’s 6 minutes drive from home, a very important issue after sipping some 7 drams. The Line up of whiskies consisted of 4 Japanese,1 New Zealander, 1 Bavarian(German), 1 Indian and two Scotches which are aged in Israel (let’s call them Israelis).
We started with the Japanese:
We started with the lightest working our way to the Cask strength Arrans via the ‘peated’ Amrut.
Yamazaki 10 yo , 40% ABV , £26
This is the only ‘standard’ Yamazaki i have yet to sample until now, and i was very curious to see how it really was. Some do say it’s great, and some say it’s not that good.
Nose: Quite fragrant with vanilla,some flowery notes, a bit of nail varnish, not very complex and not very refined, wee fruity as well. nice.
Palate: Lots of wood on this one, some wood spice as well. Not very fruity.
Finish : Medium-Short with some spice, a rather dry finish with some zing / pepper.
Bottom line: A fine dram for summer time, not over complex, but quite nice and enjoyable. Not as good as the 12-year-old we were about to sample next.
We continued with the elder ‘brother’ , the lovely 12-year-old which is one of my favorites:
Yamazaki 12 yo , 43% ABV , £34
Nose: Much more fragrant than the 12-year-old, perfumed , nutty, and complex. a light but wonderful nose, i’ve grown to like so much. Lovely stuff
Palate: Smooth, flowery, and wee spicy with a wee citrus note, creamy maltiness, and some fruits as well (apple,pear) and even a wee tropical edge.
Finish: Longer than the 10-year-old with some fruit, wee oak, and zest.
Bottom line: Way better than the 10-year-old, well worth the premium and a wonderful slipping whisky, with a stunning nose.
We continued on to the Super Nikka which is a blended whisky .
Super Nikka 43% ABV
Nose: Peaty stuff. Here we stumble upon the first traces of peat in our Japanese lineup. A bit coarse and spirity , some fruits and the odd malt note. Not very refined.
Palate: Again, not very smooth. some dirty-dumpy peat with some oaty feeling.
Finish: Medium, Smokey (not very, but it is there) and a bit bitter.
Bottom line: This is the Proletarian Nikka. Coarse, peaty, a daily dram, but not as refined and perfumed as it’s siblings from Yamazaki. Ok, but does not do it for me.
We continued our journey with another Blend, but a highly acclaimed one : The Hibiki 17 , again by Suntory.
Hibiki is probably the most famous of Japanese whisky, and is well known because of this scene in “Lost in translation”:
Suntory Hibiki 17, 43% ABV,£59
Nose: Honey, Vanilla, Wood varnish. It’s clearly a Suntory, with a lot reminding me of the Yamazaki 12, yet it’s more complex.
Palate: A but bourbon-y , with the vanilla spice and wood, some raisins and a wee lemon zestiness, maybe a wee wee papperiness (coming from Hakushu 12? )
Finish: Dry, spicy and nutty. Very good.
Bottom Line: It’s a very good blend. But, my expectations were SO high that i was a bit disappointed by it. It’s also not cheap at almost £60 and you can get amazing single malts for that price. (costing as much as the Yamazaki 18 single malt, which is an ace!). It has a lovely decanter of a bottle, so it does make a lovely mantelpiece addition, but if you ask me, i’d rather have the 18-year-old Yamazaki / Hakushu over this one anytime.
leaving Japan we set pace towards Bavaria,Germany. The Germans are well-known for excellent beers, can they produce a good single malt? let’s see. For more information on Slyrs’s distillery, visit Oliver’s Excellent post about visiting the distillery.
Slyrs Bavarian Single Malt 2007 ,Batch # 10801, 43% ABV
Nose: Good god! what is this? more like a schnapps than a whisky. Fruity ( apple, peach,pear) stuff, with some malt (duh!) notes. weird stuff.
Palate: Sweet spicy , molasses, some metal notes (an old trumpet?!).
Finish : Dry,Medium length, bitter-sweet.
Bottom line : I think i will stick to German beer. This is some weird spirit, not something worth getting. Maybe in the future when they change their formula. Now, it’s rather bad.
Needless to say after this dram we were delighted to leave Germany for New Zealand and sample some of their whisky .
PS: a few days after i did speak to Oren, who owns the bottle and he told me he gave this whisky a second shot. He claims that after letting it rest in the glass for a longer period of time, the whisky exhibited a far better nose and palate. Alas, we didn’t have enough time at the tasting event. Well, I need to revisit this one some day. Oren, prepare for a visit …
Preston’s Double Wood 8 yo, 46% , Double Wood (Oak and then NZ wine casks) , $65
Colour: Lovely Copper.
Nose: A lot of winey notes (not very surprising due to the wine finish) , some sour notes as well, malt, some vanilla popping under all that.
Palate: Again, the wine notes are quite strong, lots of strong tannins going on here, but they do complement the whisky in quite a nice way.
Finish : Medium, sweet, winey and dry.
Bottom line : Actually this was a very good surprise. After the Slyrs i was not expecting much of this one, but it was very well made. the wine finish did edge a nice effect and another dimension. Well done ! not a bad blend at all!
Next on the list was the Amrut Fusion. I’ve previously reviewed it on the blog with more attention and at the comfort of my own home, so i did not keep any new notes of that one. I just like it very much. Check out my review here.
We concluded the tasting with the two Israel aged Arran made malts One aged in Tiberias, and the other aged in Jerusalem , which i won and reviewed previously on the blog. Both are very young, and since it was late in the tasting i decided not to keep notes as my palate was tired. 6 drams in one evening is enough. I can only say that the 2nd bottling (i.e : the Jerusalem) which is aged one more year, is better. Both are very young and need a bit of water to open up and become more drinkable.
Ok, time to sum everything up then. I really enjoyed the tasting and company that evening. While we know the Japanese malts are good, it was also nice to try two blended Japanese i have not tired previously. The surprise of the evening was the New Zealander which i enjoyed very much coming with little expectations. While the disappointing dram of the evening was the German which was a complete mess.
It’s true we’re only touched on the subject of world whiskies. There are some very interesting World whiskies such as the Australian Lark, the Taiwanese Kavalan just to name a few. I do hope to feature more of those on the blog in the coming months. Stay tuned!