israel Milk & Honey

Milk & Honey Elements series

Elements

Not long ago M&H distillery, based in Tel-Aviv Israel (very close to where I leave – Israel is not that big) have released 3 new expressions in their “Elements” line of produts. This follows the “Classic” which was released earlier this year. The Elements is part of M&H core range of single malt whiskies aged more than 3 years, as opposed to earlier editions of “young single malt” they have released before they have enough aged stock. It’s always nice to see a young distillery start producing core range whiskies, especially a distillery I am following very closely like M&H.

In order to launch the Elements In Israel the guys at M&H organized a nice Zoom tasting (sign O’ the times) led by Tomer Goren (master distiller), Tal Chotiner (Export Manager). In the Zoom tasting we tasted all 3 new Elements expressions, and of course the “Classic” which is the baseline..

M&H Classic , 46% abv , 200

This is the first official commercial expression from the distillery. The whisky was aged in Ex-Bourbon and ex-Wine cask (STR).

Nose: The nose needs time to open, you should give it a few minutes in the glass, as initial nosing is a bit harsh, but after 5-8 minutes, it really tones down revealing nice vanilla notes, some citrus peel, soft oak, and a mild fruitiness, maybe red berries (there are some STR wine casks in the vatting so that is not surprising). all in all very mellow, and well-composed.

Palate: easy drinking with a light-ish body, still on the same vanilla, wood, sweet barley sugars, oak, and a hint of pepper/ginger that adds a nice touch, getting dry towards the finish.

Finish: Short and sweet with more dry wood, spice, bitter chocolate, and char.

Conclusion : A nice entry level young whisky, it does not suffer from the maladies of youth , and clearly well blended. At 200 ILS it’s well priced as well.

Score: 80/100

On we go to the first ‘Element’ – the sherry cask. The whisky was aged in KOSHER sherry casks which were specially made for the distillery in Jerez, Spain, and supervised by a Rabbi as to attest to their Kosher (these are the first kosher certificate casks in the world!) The whisky is aged in both ex-bourbon and ex-Sherry casks which are both PX / Oloroso, as well as STR wine casks and ex-bourbon.

M&H Elements Sherry , 46% , ₪249

Nose: Nice sweet entry with quite a bit of red fruit, sultanas, and dry figs, oaky notes add to the balance, as well as some citrus zest – some lemon and also a dash of ripe blood orange. sour wine vinegar and almonds, and maybe a hint of marzipan, chocolate, and caramel.

Palate: Nice body, with good sherry sweetness, more of the red fruit, and again the sultana and dried fruit – but this is not a sherry bomb, a nice balance of the dried fruit, chocolate and the fresh sour-ish fruit (cherries), toasted oak.

Finish: Medium with a very nice chocolate-y touch, more oak, and sweet wine tannin, then drying.

Conclusion : If you’re looking for a sherry bomb – look elsewhere. The sherry is dominant, but it is nicely balanced by the STR casks and ex-bourbon which add to a sour, woody sweet caramel notes. Very good balance in this one – good blending.

Score: 84/100

The next expressions is the wine cask edition. The distillery has chosen to age the whisky in the best cask from local (kosher) Israeli vineyards. This edition is aged in red wine casks, but Tomer and Tal hinter that they are experimenting also with Israeli White wine casks- so we can expect some cool editions in the future.

M&H Red Wine Cask , 46% , ₪249

Nose: Very nice and clean without a lot of wine tannins, if you’re expecting those… Red fruit, on the sour side, there’s some wine indeed, but it’s not cloying or over imposing on the distillate. a hint of white sultanas, oak, and gentle minerality.

Palate: A lighter body than the sherry, with nice sweetness, which is complemented by sour notes as well. very light tannins in this one, which is great (for me), more oak, and subtle vanilla along a floral, mineral edge.

Finish: quite short with some fruit leather, white sultanas, wine tannins, and a certain cinnamon touch, and grape pith.

Conclusion: Very balanced, and likable. Usually, I am not a big fan of wine maturation, but this one is very light on the tannins and not a wine-monster. Kudos to M&H as they have succeeded in creating a very balanced and well made ex-wine whisky.

Score: 83/100

Elements Peated Cask, 46% , ₪249

We come to the last, but not least – the Peated Cask. The liquid for this one was distiller back when M&H were not using peated barley (they are now), and as such was aged in ex-Islay casks as to give it a smoky / peaty edge. This is a vatting of ex-Bourbon and Ex-Islay casks.

Nose: Very light smoke, but there’s a touch of earthy peat, as well as some soot and, quite mineral as well, with a nice vanilla backbone and maybe a touch of citrus under it all. It feels much more mature than its official age…

Palate: The smoke and soot are stronger on the palate than they are on the nose, with a wood char, and charcoal, as well as nice light smoke, pepper, ginger, and dry earth, and some more distant wood spices…

Finish: quite long, with the peaty, spicy earthy notes going on for quite some time.

Conclusion: Very well made, and head to head as the favorite with the Sherry cask. It’s very balanced, yet peaty and smoky enough. nice!

Score: 84/100

My two cents:

A very solid and well-made lineup of young whiskies – The elements does not disappoint, and I can wholeheartedly recommend them all, with my favorites being the sherry and peated. Bear in mind these are 3-year-old whiskies and as such, they are not the most complex whiskies in the world, but for an entry-level core range for a young distillery – They are far better than one could expect. Very good blending, aging, and vatting job my Tomer & CO.

We will be watching this young and very promising distillery closely. Check out your local distrinbutor if you’re based in Europ / USA – those Elements are on the way, or have arrived already.

If you’re Based in Israel, you can find them on the M&H site, with free shipping or in major liqour stores. So I’m told. If you’re not sure which one you want to get – there’s also a mini tasting set comprising of all 4 drams I’ve reviewed today for ₪99 on the distillery site.

Slainte!

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