It’s Corona times, and if we can not have proper tasting events why not have some online ones? As part as our line of tasting at Holy Dram (local Israeli ones), we decided to host a #Zoom online tasting. The first 20 fortunate people who opted in received a nice tasting set comprising of 4 very different single casks otherwise not available in the local (or international market). A very nice tasting indeed, lots of fun was had – I thought why not write proper notes for these four? SO here goes.
We started the tasting with the special edition that was bottled for whisky live Den Haag, the whisky spent 3 years in an ex-bourbon cask, and then was finished in an ex-Islay cask for 5 months, then bottled at 55% abv.
M&H whisky live Den Haag cask, 55%
Nose: Malty and sweet, even honeyed at first, then a whiff of smoke, maybe a hint of minerality, vanilla and more honeycomb with a fruity note of pears, apples, and citrus peel. Not a lot of Islay influence on the nose I’d say.
Palate: The palate feels more like an Islay finished, although this is also very light, and spiced, with light pepper (white?), a nice malty sweetness, tinned peaches (and some eau de vie), and a hint of salt.
Finish: medium, with spices, and a slight smoky touch.
Conclusion: Well-integrated and does not feel overly youthful, yet the Islay effect is quite restrained.
Score : 80/100
The next one on the list was the current distillery visitor ‘bottle your own’ cask. This whisky spent 3 years in ex-bourbon, then finished in a PX cask for 4 months. bottled at 56.5% abv, and still available to purchase (free delivery due to the coronavirus crisis- for Israel residents)
M&H whisky PX finish, distillery only, 56.5% (still available)
Nose: Sweet and fragrant, with lots of dried fruit, caramel, and wildflower honey, sultana, fig and dates galore, some balsamic sourness and ripe cherries along with ginger and black pepper.
Palate: The palate is even sweeter than the nose suggested, Xmas cake, allspice, almost jammy – very rich and concentrated. There’s also some pepper and maybe hints of sweetened black tea, sultanas and dates, chocolate and fudge, very tannic as well.
Finish: dark fruit jam, sultana, and date paste, spices, pepper, bitter tea.
Conclusion: If you’re into sweet dessert whiskies, this one’s for you. Big PX sweetness, and rich sweet palate and nose. A nice sipper after a big meal with a nice chocolate fondant pairing.
The third whisky we were tasting was our very own (HolyDram) ex-ardbeg cask. Almost three years ago we sold cask shares in a fresh ex-Ardbeg 10 cask, to our group members (this sold out fast). The whisky is, of course, unpeated, and the peaty notes all come from a full maturation in this ex-Ardbeg cask. We have tasted this one a few times during the last 28 months, and it is aging beautifully.
M&H Ex-Ardbeg Cask 2017-0303 , distilled 11/2017 , 62% , 28 months old
Nose: Wet and musty peat, soot, but not massive, mineral with even some hint of seaspray, green and mossy. very different than you average Ardbeg 10 mind you, but in a lovely way, a wee whiff of smoke and brine? yes maybe! some pear drops hide behind the peat and moss… The cask did a fine job.
Palate: Boom! the massive 62% abv is well felt here, with an avalanche of pepper, peat and soot, quite bitter and earthy as well. nice wet wood notes, wood char and espresso; the vanilla and sweet fruity distillate is hidden but reveals itself behind the nice peaty touch. There’s definitely some salt as well which plays a major part in the long finish.
Finish: Salt, peat, soot. Quite ashy, with bitter oak and mocha.
Conclusion: Damn this is good stuff. I am quite biased (this is my cask), but I really did not think it would turn out THAT good. For me – the star of the evening.
The last whisky we’re about to taste comes from a privately owned Oloroso cask, distilled 02/2018 and will be bottled in about 1.5 year’s time. Currently only 21 months old.
M&H cask #2018-0554 private cask, Oloroso butt, 21 months, 65%
Nose: Sweet and spicy, more rounded than the PX IMHO, not the dried fruit compote but lovely in its way, chocolate, nutmeg, dried apricots, more milk chocolate and sultanas, and something creamy as well and a nutty edge. This is sherry alright, but quite balanced.
Palate: Sweeter than I expected, but that’s nice, a nice sweet and spicy entry, semi-sweet chili, leather, pepper and dates, in addition to the sultanas and sugar-soaked sponge cake, chocolate bonbons as well. The wine tannins are very restrained and this is very clean sherry, no sulfur anywhere.
Finish: Pepper, bitter chocolate, rum-soaked cherries, grape pith.
Conclusion: Yummy stuff, certainly my 2nd favorite of all four. It would make a lovely after-dinner dram, paired with chocolate dishes. Good stuff!
What a delightful evening! Four very different profiles of whisky, highlighting the absolutely good work being done there by Tomer and his team. I’ve said it before, and I will say it once again – Expect great things to be coming from M&H distillery in the coming years.