Saturday, 15 May 2010

The rogue post

So you've had your Pilsner, your American pale ale, your Old ale, Belgian Dubbel, and Barley wine, Belgian Quad or Imperial Stout. Then you get to the end of the night. The point which you've ran out of cards up your sleeve and looking to head to bed. But then you feel the need to finish things off, wrap things up with one last tipple. An encore in a sense. For that purpose I would normally choose whisky from the range available, or if at home a one from my very own stash of (mostly scotch) whiskys. Admittedly I don't drink much Whisky, usually at the end of a session, sometimes after a meal, but here are four of my favorites from my very own whisky stash.



Highland Park 12 years

A nicely balanced middleweight. An all rounder I would call it. Its rich colour comes from its maturation in first filled sherry casks (fresher casks = more colour and flavour in less time), which gives a nice rounded sweetness, some fruit and a subtle smokey influence that brings it all together.

Suntory, Yamakazi 12 years

Cedary, mellow, rounded but elegant like a Samurai sword. Quite unique from most Scotch Whisky and holds a great balance of being drinkable yet flavour packed. I did get to try the 18 year version once, much richer and truly sublime. As the only Japanese whiskys I have tried I would say they are also two of my all time favorite whiskys to date. Very recommended.

Old Pulteney 12 years

Medium intensity and dry vibrant salty sea air in the nose and the palate. Great after a long walk along the freezing cold Northumberland coastline.

Ardbeg Uigeadail

A vatted malt, or blend of Ardbeg single malts. This encaptures the full force of raw Ardbeg intensity. The palate is huge, offering malty, peaty, smokey notes with an intense fiery finish (helped most probably from the cask strength, 54.2% abv). This is truly hardcore, reserved for the most brutally freezing cold winter's evening or the celebration of a very special occasion.

Is it wrong the write a post not about beer on a beer blog? Melissa Cole did it, and our lord Michael Jackson beer hunter ended up covering whisky in time. How I see it, whisky is kind of like the brother of Beer (Which makes Wine and Cider more like distant cousins), its production process starts the same as that for beer. Grain is mashed in/mixed with hot liquor to produce a mash where malt starch converts to more fermentable sugars. The critical difference here is that for Scotch whisky the mash is rested at a lower temperature to maximise fermentables. No copper boil is involved (so no hops) and the resultant fermented product is distilled and aged in selected oak barrels (let's keep it brief ok).

With whisky flavor comes from oak aging, distillation, the water used and in part fermentation. Some I have tried are full of volatile aromatics, purposely left in by the distiller, who knows what distillate fractions are needed to be conserved or discarded to achieve the correct flavor balance. Others are heavy, rich, peaty and potent (especially single cask version). Beginners to whisky usually favour light elegant offerings such as Glenmorangie, but it can be highly entertaining to let your average WKD drinker have a sniff of your Lagavulin, then watch the resultant facial expressions.

54 comments:

ChrisM said...

Definitely not wrong to post about whisky on a beer blog - they often go hand in hand! 12 year old Highland Park is an excellent all-rounder. I've not tried the Japanese stuff yet, on the grounds that it doesn't seem right! May give it a go some time though.

If you're around the North East on 12th June there is a whisky festival at the Civic Centre in Newcastle - click here for more info.

Rob said...

Cheers Chris. Will consider that one.

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