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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

August 13, 2013


A hotchpotch of some of
the weirdest whiskies around

This should be fun! With all the craft distillers who are inventing new ways of making whisky every day, new styles keep appearing, whether they're intentional or the result of two many other whiskies ;-). Let's have one or six of them today...

Clyde May's Conecuh Ridge (42.5%, OB, Alabama whiskey, +/-2013)

Clyde May's Conecuh Ridge (42.5%, OB, Alabama whiskey, +/-2013) Two stars According to good old Wikipedia, this ‘is a brand of whiskey produced by the Dallas, Texas based Spirits Acquisition Corp. It is marketed as a recreation of a high-quality aged moonshine whiskey which was produced illegally in Alabama during the mid to late 20th century.’ Texas? Alabama? I’m lost, already. Colour: orangey amber. Nose: orangey indeed. You know, when you try quite a lot of whiskies, it’s always pleasant to come across something ‘different’, odd or unusual, and that’s certainly the case here. There’s a massive oakiness, very ‘American’, with a huge sweetness and a very liqueury side, not only around oranges and coconut, but also litchis, roses, violets (parfait amour) and geranium. Bags and bags of geranium flowers, we’re not talking stems or leaves, which would be an utter flaw. So it’s very perfumy, but that’s pleasant even if we’re in sweet liqueur territories so far. After fifteen minutes: vanilla fudge all over the place. Mouth: yeah, it’s a liqueur more than whisky. Ultra-sweet and ridden with sweet spices, crystallised ginger, Seville oranges, honey, with a wee cologne-y feeling in the background. Bubblegum. It’s no deep whisky but it works. Should go very well on ice, the alcohol’s a bit in the front and ice would put it back to where it belongs. Finish: not very long but the ginger keeps it tight and focused. No dullness – which was my fear. Comments: sweet, honest, pleasant. Another good surprise despite the fact that I’ve got no sweet tooth. Craft is not always crap. SGP:840 - 75 points.

Roughstock Montana Pure Malt Whiskey (45%, OB, +/-2013)

Roughstock Montana Pure Malt Whiskey (45%, OB, +/-2013) Two stars This is ‘craft’. They wrote on their website ‘When the world’s best malt barley is grown all around you, it only makes sense to make world class malt whiskey’. Starts well, doesn’t it! Colour: gold. Nose: absolutely nothing to do with the Texan Alabamian. This is all on marzipan and breads, wheat bread, pumpernickel, porridge… There’s a little ginger too, leaven, oak, then more gingerbread as well as a little earth and pipe tobacco. Tons of gingerbread! Once again, this is funny and this is nice, even if it’s quite un-whisky. But what’s whisky today, you may ask? Mouth: strange and nice. Honey-covered cornbread? It’s almost as sweet as the Alabamian but where there was bubblegum there’s gingerbread. It is, in fact, akin to the gingerbread liqueur we’re making here in Alsace. Not the best stuff we make, mind you, but it’s got its aficionados. Finish: relatively short, very honeyed and, again and again, full of gingerbread. Comments: we’re a little closer to the raw materials (remember, it’s not wood, it’s grain), which is always good news, but the sweetness is pretty excessive, says this Scotch lover. Nevertheless, it’s very, very honest stuff, worth trying. SGP:750 - 72 points.

Good, why not stay in America, and have a peaty one now? A peaty one???...

Lost Spirits Leviathan II (53%, OB, American peated single malt, +/-2013)

Lost Spirits Leviathan II (53%, OB, American peated single malt, +/-2013) Three stars and a half The epitome of unlikeliness in whisky. American single malt, peated to Octomore levels (more than 100ppm in the malted barley) using Canadian peat, then matured in sémillon casks. Sémillon is Bordeaux’s main white grape variety, but I guess this is American sémillon. Why it’s ‘lost’, I have no ideas, maybe I should have done a little more googling. Please fasten your seat belts… Colour: gold. Nose: remember Balcones Brimstone? Nothing to do with it, this is… completely different. It’s probably quite ‘awful’, but I just love it. Maybe I’m getting perverse wrt whisky? Actually, I know why I love it, it smells exactly like ‘a beekeeper working on an open hive’. That means there’s a lot of honey, wood and wax, but also the smoke that the beekeepers use to keep the bees away. My father, who used to be an amateur beekeeper, was using black tobacco (Gauloise type) and that’s exactly what I’m finding in this whisky – and why I find this nose quite stunning. Mouth: oh what is this? It’s immensely bizarre. The smoke is huge but we’re rather going toward some kind of heavy lapsang souchong (‘tarry’) sweetened with honey. Nothing to do with peated Scotch here, absolutely nothing. I also find the same kind of tobacco as in the nose (beyond Gauloise, we call that ‘gris’ i.e. ‘grey’), then a growing sourness that hints at Scandinavian fish specialties. Weird saltiness. Finish: long, a tad obnoxious, not unlike some strong cheeses. I mean, you really have to like this. A little acrid wood in the aftertaste. Comments: sure this is single malt whisky but I’d say rum, cognac or tequila are much closer to Scotch whisky than this very odd spirit. My problem is that I quite love it, I think I may have to go see a shrink. SGP:666 (how devilish is that, doctor?) - 83 points.

Wait, I may have something that might be even weirder… Swiss peated whisky!

Säntis ‘Cask Strength Peated’ (52%, OB, Switzerland, +/-2012)

Säntis ‘Cask Strength Peated’ (52%, OB, Switzerland, +/-2012) one star and a half Another variant by Brauerei Locher in Appenzell, eastern Switzerland. Colour: amber/orange. Nose: coffee, coffee, coffee and coffee. Love this! And it’s totally ristretto, George. What else? Maybe one or two bitter oranges, maybe lapsang souchong tea again and possibly some ‘blackened’ bacon. It’s big and huge, ech hab’ dass gern. Mouth: well well well, things become more complicated. The smoke’s huge but it’s not quite integrated, in that sense it feels a bit like Brimstone, that is to say smoked spirit, not spirit made out of smoked grains. It’s also a little sour and there’s a soapiness arising, while more and more smoked fish come out. Smoked herring im Appenzell? So yeah, it’s a little disjointed but it’s really spectacular. Finish: very long, astringent, saltier and indeed, kippery. BBQ. Sadly, a little burnt plastic in the aftertaste. Comments: a weird beast. Loved the nose, not too sure about the palate. Very difficult to score, maybe I shouldn’t. Duty, heavy duty… But I remain a Säntis fan! SGP:277 - 69 points. PS: Il enjoyed an earlier batch much better back in 2010 (WF 85).

Could whisky get any weirder than those? You bet?...

Orbis Aged World Whiskey (40%, St. James Distillery, +/-2013)

Orbis Aged World Whiskey (40%, St. James Distillery, +/-2013) Three stars and a half We already had ‘mixed’ whiskies from Bruichladdich (Celtic Nations or something) or other adventurous entrepreneurs, not to mention the tsunamis of crappy ‘world’ whiskies that flood our supermarkets at 6 euros a bottle (you know, 95% Indian, 5% Scotch). This goes further, as it’s a blend of Scottish, Irish, Japanese, Canadian and American whisky. As for who’s behind this ‘St James Distillery’ from London, no ideas. I guess they have nothing to do with the ‘St. James Distillery’ in Martinique, do they? Colour: straw. Nose: crikey, this is nice! It’s a light, zesty, lemony spirit that really hints at Sauvignon blanc. It actually noses like a Sancerre, honest! That effect is even more obvious after the few peated monsters that we just had. So chalk and lemon all over the place, that’s nice. Mouth: I hate to say that, but this works. It’s really a shame that they bottled it a 40%, because it remains weak and fragile (not only because of the monsters we had before), but this lemony, slightly grainy, barleyish palate is fresh and pleasant. They may have managed to reproduce old-style Lowland, ala Rosebank! Well done! Finish: a bit short but it’s still pleasant, fresh, between barley, apples and lemon. Smokier aftertaste. Comments: the guy who composed this knew his job. Who are you? SGP:442 - 83 points.

Good, that one was not weird enough, it was even not weird at all. So, last chance…

Eristoff Gold ‘Golden Caramel’ (20%, OB, vodka?, +-2013)

Eristoff Gold ‘Golden Caramel’ (20%, OB, vodka?, +-2013) Hell, I had thought this would be aged vodka. I’ve always wanted to do a nice little session with various aged vodkas. What I hadn’t notice when I sourced this baby was that it was actually bottled at a feeble 20% vol. What’s that? A ‘drink’? Let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: reeks of caramel, like the cheapest bourbons. Caramel here, caramel there, even Bailey’s Irish Cream has less caramel. Even the lethal Coca Cola. Even plain caramel. Now, if you enjoy caramel… Mouth: this is made to enslave our youth and to make them addicted to sugar. It’s one of the ugliest alcoholic drinks I’ve ever tasted, it’s shock-full of sugar and it should just be streng verboten absolutely anywhere. Finish: none, only sugar. Comments: this does not belong here, I know, but while I’m at it, I think this is a public health issue. No state or nation should allow the multinationals to sell cheap drinks that contain so much industrial sugar. Shame! SGP:900 - 0 points (right, that 0 is more symbolic than anything else, it's not really worth only zero, but it's close.)


Pete and Jack in St. Tropez







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