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

March 14, 2014


A bag of cereal-based drinks and whiskies

From the rest of the world, as the Scots would say. Well actually, we’ll have something Scottish, but some of these won’t be whisky as such, although all were made out of cereals…

Watt Dickie (35%, OB, Brew Dog, Scotland, ice distilled beer, +/-2013)

Watt Dickie (35%, OB, Brew Dog, Scotland, ice distilled beer, +/-2013) Let’s simply quote the brewers: ‘Watt Dickie is the first genuine innovation in spirits for 200 years. Hell, maybe longer. Definitely longer. This is an insanely amplified IPA masquerading as a spirit. A faux spirit, a dead spirit, a new spirit. Born as an India Pale Ale, Watt Dickie then undergoes patent pending (and consequently for now secret) freezing alchemy which transforms the beer into a high octane roller coaster of flavour, craftsmanship, originality and audacity.” All right, let’s see! Colour: deep red amber. Nose: thick beer. I’m no beer expert and I’m not even exactly a beer drinker, but this smells of heavy beer, stout style. Also reminds me of some Belgians, such as the heaviest Rochefort or Westvleteren. So I do not detect much differences at this point, not too sure the aromas have actually been amplified. Mouth: waaaaah! Thick, rich, hugely sour, sweet and bitter at the same time. The alcohol doesn’t even feel much, but indeed the flavours have been amplified a lot. A lot of caramel, malt extracts… And again, dark trappist. Fun stuff but I wouldn’t say it’s very drinkable… Finish: extremely long, and that may be the problem. Tends to wreck your palate. Comments: very heavy and unbalanced stuff, but I guess it’s more a record-breaker than something that was meant for drinking. For die-hard beer aficionados only? SGP:680 - 60 points (but I have very little experience so please don’t take my score into account).

Polugar 'Single Malt Rye' (38.5%, OB, Poland, unaged, +/-2013)

Polugar 'Single Malt Rye' (38.5%, OB, Poland, unaged, +/-2013) Three stars This is the original pot still vodka aka breadwine, made by Russian vodka historian Boris Rodionov. The rye is malted, then triple distilled. Colour: white. Nose: definitely more expressive than any vodka, and definitely close to pastries, croissant, fresh brioche and various herbs and vegetables, all sweet. Jerusalem artichoke? Green bananas?... There’s also a floral side (orange blossom) and a very pleasant earthiness. Roots. Very engaging nose if you like what’s close to the raw materials. Mouth: the low strength is a handicap, but otherwise it’s a fine, rather elegant spirit, on sweet bread, brioche, oranges, honey, liquorice and coriander. Then more and more caraway and cumin, there’s definitely a feeling of aquavit, but without the addition of anything ‘extra’. Natural aquavit. Finish: not very long but pleasantly bready. Liquorice and caraway seeds in the aftertaste. Comments: an excellent spirit in my opinion, too bad the price is very hefty (around €140 a bottle!) SGP:441 - 80 points.

Speaking of vodka…

Fair (40%, OB, France, quinoa vodka, +/-2013)

Fair (40%, OB, France, quinoa vodka, +/-2013) Do not ask me why I’m trying this vodka on WF, I for one have no ideas… Maybe because it’s ‘fair trade’? Or because it’s made out of quinoa? Because it’s French? Btw, I have to apologize, according to Wikipedia, quinoa isn’t even a cereal, it’s a ‘pseudocereal’. Serious! Colour: white. Nose: not much, maybe a smokiness. A little soot? Mouth: not my cup of spirit, it tastes of alcohol, just like most vodkas in my very short experience. All right, maybe there, in the background, these notes of smoked gravel (or something like that). Finish: short, sweet. Comments: I’m sure it’s one of the best vodkas. The problem is that most vodkas are emasculated spirits in my opinion (don’t shoot, dear vodka aficionados…) Oh and this company are making great rums by the way! SGP:231 - 50 points.

Starka 25 yo (50%, OB, Piastowska, Poland, aged rye vodka)

Starka 25 yo (50%, OB, Piastowska, Poland, aged rye vodka) Two stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: starts rather herbaceous and earthy, I find some caraway like in the Polugar, some bitter chocolate, then funny notes of tomato stems, gingerbread, German Christmas cake (spicier than the British version), dill, juniper berries… And then more cereals, rye, white bread, clay, charcoal… It’s a likeable nose, it’s pretty complex stuff and while some aspects hint at Scotch, others make it pleasantly unusual. Well made spirit. Mouth: there’s a sweetness that’s maybe a tad ‘too much’ (corn syrup, very sweet gingerbread), but the herbal and spicy side is most engaging. Some kind of honeyed gin, perhaps, or caraway liqueur yet again. Touches of dry oak in the background. Finish: very long, always very sweet and spicy. Ginger-flavoured chocolate with honey and juniper. Comments: it’s a good spirit in my opinion. Maybe not €200-good, but good. ‘Almost whisky’, I’d say. SGP:650 - 79 points.

The Real Highlander 10 yo 2003/2013 (46%, Waldhaus am See, Switzerland, cask #2, 321 bottles)

The Real Highlander 10 yo 2003/2013 (46%, Waldhaus am See, Switzerland, cask #2, 321 bottles) Four stars A new Swiss highlander matured in an ex-Islay cask provided by Signatory Vintage ;-). Colour: white wine. Nose: hey, this is nice! A rather austere smoke, around coal rather than peat, with also plenty of gentian and other Alpine roots. Did they throw some into the still? It’s all very clean, pure, also very nicely herbal (fennel, maybe) and slightly medicinal (more gentian). Well done! Mouth: very funny, and very good, I think. It’s a different kind of smoke, there’s a wee feeling of liquid smoke actually (beech?), with some salt and some lemon as well as touches of pasticine. And the gentian is back again! Finish: long, lemony, smoky, earthy. Very fresh. Comments: well done! I don’t quite know what should be attributed to the ex-Islay cask, but I find this Highlander very excellent. Especially because of the gentian! SGP:465 - 86 points.

While we’re in Switzerland…

Langatun 'Old Deer' (40%, OB, Switzerland, +/-2013)

Langatun 'Old Deer' (40%, OB, Switzerland, +/-2013) Three stars This is a single malt. Probably pretty young. Colour: straw. Nose: rather austere, porridgy. Bread, vanilla, juniper and barley. Rather unaromatic but honest, it seems. Mouth: not bad! Oranges, sweet barley, praline and light honey. Also sultanas. Good body. Finish: rather short but clean, sweet, barleyish. More oranges and sweet beer in the aftertaste. Comments: very good sweet light malt whisky, without make-up from some too active oak. I’m rather impressed. SGP:531 - 80 points.

Langatum 'Old Bear' (40%, OB, Switzerland, +/-2013)

Langatum 'Old Bear' (40%, OB, Switzerland, +/-2013) Two stars This one is the peated version of Langatun. What’s a little scarier is that it was matured in Châteauneuf-du-Pape casks. A clash to be expected? Colour: gold. Nose: gasp! This is strange, not off-putting but strange. The spicy winey side and the smoke do not work too well together (who said as usual, who?), there are curious notes of tomato sauce, Maggi, peppered muesli, beef stock, salami… In short, a whole pizza ;-). Mouth: rather weird, not bad but weird. I find salami again, smoky tea, some earth, oyster-plant, drops of pastis, smoked fish… What a funny combo! I never tried anything like this. Finish: quite long, with… sweet tomato? Comments: I find it better than what you may have thought while reading my notes, in no small measure thanks to it’s strangeness, always welcome when you try a lot of whiskies. SGP:363 - 73 points.

Langatun 'Old Deer Cask Proof' (62%, OB, Switzerland, +/-2013)

Langatun 'Old Deer Cask Proof' (62%, OB, Switzerland, +/-2013) Three stars This is the high proof version of the unsmoked one, matured in sherry cask. Colour: dark gold. Nose: this is bizarre, it smells like bourbon. Pencil shavings, coconut, vanilla and pale syrup, then more raisins and geranium flowers. With water: same. Was it really a sherry cask? Mouth (neat): very strong but creamy and fruity, again more bourbony rather than sherry-like. Vanilla and maple syrup, big time. Grenadine. With water: good! Honey and pepper, grenadine syrup, tinned pineapples, vanilla, a little coconut. Finish: long, sweet, balanced, easy. Comments: quite different from the version at 40%. I like this. SGP:630 - 81 points.

A last one, another smoked Swiss…

Whisky Castle 'Smoke Barley' (43%, OB, Switzerland, cask #483, +/-2011)

Whisky Castle 'Smoke Barley' (43%, OB, Switzerland, cask #483, +/-2011) Two stars and a halfColour: white wine. Nose: smoked porridge and oatcakes! Also baker’s yeast, leaven, fresh bread… And grapefruits. I find this nose much, much nicer and better balanced than other whiskies by Whisky Castle. Mouth: indeed, this works nicely. A pleasant salty smokiness on cereals, various kinds of bread and spicy herbs and seeds. Mustard? Finish: quite long, smoky, salty, peppery and always nicely balanced. Too bad the aftertaste is a little too drying, loses one or two points here. Comments: I find this baby quite impressive, I wasn’t expecting this level of quality – and peatiness. SGP:344 - 79 points.

(with thanks to Franco, Jon and Michal)







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