While Scotland can rightly claim the title as the home of malt whisky many other nations abroad have developed and are developing similar industries and creating their own versions of the classic amber liquid.
For a summer review I could think of nothing better than The Redbreast 15 Year, an excellent example of a Single Pot Still Whiskey. Single Pot Still Whiskeys are unique to Ireland and, unlike their Scottish cousins, they are defined by the inclusion of both malted and unmalted barley in their mash. Among other differences, the inclusion of unmalted barley in their mash gives them a spicier bristle and thicker texture than their Scottish cousins. The 15 Year is a rich, thick and pungent whiskey with loads of flavor and complexity. It is matured in a combination of American oak bourbon barrels and Spanish oak Oloroso sherry butts. The whiskey is un-chillfiltered presented at 46% ABV.
Nose: Rich and oily with scents of fresh berries, zesty orange, peach, caramel and toffee.
Palate: A mellow but complex palate with flavors of stewed fruits, orange zest, nutmeg and oak. Also present are hints of butterscotch.
Finish: A long finish with more nutmeg. Also present on the finish are hints of peppermint, custard and grapefruit.
My readers will know that I am partial to Scottish Single Malts but this is by no means a hard and fast rule. Recently I have rediscovered how much I enjoy the Single Pot Still whiskeys of Ireland. Irish whiskey holds a deep place in my heart, as it was here that my journey through the world of whiskey started many years ago. I would definitely recommend trying the Redbreast 15 Year. It’s an excellent example of this style. Sláinte my friends.
In preparation for St. Patricks day I decided to venture and explore this iconic Single Pot Still Whiskey. Single Pot Still Whiskeys are unique to Ireland and, unlike their Scottish cousins the classic Single Malts, they are defined by the inclusion of both malted and unmalted barley in their mash. The Redbreast 12 Year is triple distilled at the Midleton site. It is matured in a combination of American oak bourbon barrels and Spanish oak Oloroso sherry butts. The whiskey is presented at 40% ABV and certainly shows its sherry influence.
Nose: Nutty, rich and oily. There are notes of citrus, ginger, linseed and apple. Also present is a soft floral scent.
Palate: Spicy and dry with flavours of nuts and citrus with hints of marzipan, dried fruits and, of course, Oloroso sherry.
Finish: Creamy with tones of custard and spice.
While I do prefer a Scottish Single Malt, I was very pleased with this Irish Single Pot Still bottle. It carries a great complexity, especially when one considers it is only at 40% ABV.
As a special treat today we’ve chosen to show this phenomenal example of Japanese Single Malts. The Hakushu Distillery which is owned by the distinguished Suntory house is nestled within the forested base of the southern Japanese alps. The Hakushu distillery has given us a number of wonderful Single Malts but there 12 year should be regarded as one of there best. Unfortunately last year Suntory announced that due to over demands and limited supply they will be discontinuing the Hakushu 12 in certain markets.
Nose: Chopped almonds, toasted barley, slight hint of chocolate and a whiff of fermenting apples.
Palate: Bold with loads of fruit; apple, pear and lemon paired with a slight grassy tone.
Finish: Subtle smoke on the finish with lovely orange zest and a clean minerality.
Thoughts: I love this bottle and I’m only sorry that it will be increasingly difficult to obtain. I think it’s a wonderful example of Japanese Single Malts particularly in it’s clear, precise and linear palate.
Today I want to venture across the water to examine an Irish single malt and a great one at that!
Aroma: Green apples, honeysuckle, a touch of lemon rind and a slight hint of vanilla.
Palate: Flavors of Pear, Apple, banana and honey are dominant with slight touches of citrus and vanilla. There are also hints of caramel and spice.
Finish: A soft but long finish with delicate hints of peach, banana and honey.
I tend to favor Scottish single malts partially because they generally have more body and more complexity than their Irish counterparts. That being said I thought this was a lovely bottle. It’s probably the most delicate and complex Irish I’ve ever tasted. I think the Knappogue Castle shows what an Irish single malt can be, and is certainly worth a try!
For today’s review I thought I would pick an American single malt. In recent years we have seen the new American single malt industry flourish, particularly in the Northwest. 3 Howls Is a small craft distillery in Seattle Washington. It’s distiller and founder, Will Maschmeier brings a fresh take on the classic malts of the old world. His 44% malt is a recent double gold winner of 2019 Sip Northwest Single Malt category.
Nose: Spicy with bold vanilla.
Palate: Big and creamy with Vanilla custard and a spice reminiscent of a classic bourbon. Citrus is present as well with lemon and lime.
Finish: More spice and a very slight hint of peat, almost without taste but still present.
As a connoisseur I am often reminded that the malts of the Americas have a long way to go to compare with that of Scotland and Ireland. The American malt industry is so very young and it will undoubtedly take decades to even approach it’s old world counterparts. That being said I thoroughly admire new innovators such as Will Maschmeier who are at the forefront of such an exciting industry that is just beginning to flourish in the Northwest.