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Around the world in 7 whiskies

By March 01, 2015 , , , , ,

I may have mentioned the local whisky emporium De Druiventuin, they also have a fine selection of craft beers from independent breweries and a nice selection of wines. What they do have in abundance is Whisky and lots of it and it's only a five minute bike ride from my house.

When I first moved to the Netherlands my other half mentioned there was a whisky place not far from where we lived. Both of us being whisky fans took ourselves to the shop, on entering all we found was a small generic selection. What we didn't bargain for was the 1800 or so whiskies in a small room at the back of the shop, a whisky heaven so to speak.

At the time we were rather low on whiskies as we'd given away or drank the bottles we had before we moved. Thing is we couldn't purchase lots as we were still waiting to open a bank account at the time. So needless to say any time I passed the shop and one of the guys happened to be outside they would always ask if we had a bank account yet.

From time to time De Druiventuin organise whisky tastings, they also organise one of the biggest whisky festivals in the Netherlands Whisky in Leiden which is held every year in April, this year in the historic location of The Pieterskerk.

So on a wet and windy Thursday evening I took myself out for a round the world tasting.





The whiskies on offer were...

Knappogue Castle 14 years old Sherrywood - Ireland
Jefferson's reserve bourbon - US
Overeem Sherry Cask Matured - Tasmania
Benromach 2006 Chateau Cissac - Scotland
Arran Bere barley -  Scotland
Amrut single cask portpipe peated barley - India
Caol Ila 22 years old 1999 Gordon and McPhail reserve - Scotland

Not quite the round the world tasting you expected but enough to pique my interest especially that some of the whiskies in question were from India and Tasmania.

You'd be surprised to know that the best whisky in the world according to Jim Murray's whisky bible for this year was a Japanese Yamazaki (one of my favourites) and the Taiwanese whisky market is starting to take off in a big way.




Our host for the evening was Jan Beek, a very knowledgeable host who kept us entertained with some good stories about the whiskies and the distilleries. What I loved about the presentation is that it didn't take the format of other tastings whereby some marketing bloke digs out his powerpoint presentation on how whisky is made (Really AGAIN??) and drones on and on about how great a particular whisky brand is. Jan was pretty cynical about marketing people and funny with a good knowledge of the geography and climate influence and challenges that each distillery would have to produce good whisky (or Bourbon).

The one message he did put across quite strongly was take your time with your whisky, let it warm in your hands and enjoy it as the flavours and aromas develop. the older a whisky the more reverance you should give it!




Without further ado here's the lowdown on the whiskies we tasted.

Knappogue Castle 14 years old Sherrywood - Ireland
This was very lightly coloured, with an almond and sharp raspberry nose. Very light body despite the age of the whiskey (and yes it's with an E as it's Irish). On the palate you could get a hint of the sherry cask influence with a slight caramel back note on the after taste. Good smooth finish.

Jefferson's reserve bourbon - US
Fruity and vanilla on the nose very darkly coloured. This was heavier than the previous whisky and had more body on the palate also with a licquorice and anise flavour.

Overeem Sherry Cask Matured - Tasmania
Small distillery with small bottlings every year
Heavy caramel colour with a raisin and biscuity nose. Peppery on the palate with sweetness of red grapes.

Benromach 2006 Chateau Cissac - Scotland
An interesting copper colour with a light salty nose to begin and on the back notes a light fruitiness. Faint smokiness on the palate with a sweet finish. no harsh peat notes at all.

Arran Bere barley -  Scotland
A yellow/green haze of colour with a typical passion fruit nose and a hint of lemon sherbet. The palate was almost tropical with a pineapple finish. One of my favourites of the evening.

Amrut single cask portpipe peated barley - India
This didn't get off to a good start, the nose reminded me of Poitin (Irish illegally distilled moonshine). It was quite harsh, caramel on the nose and the palate was very spicy with hints of clove, mace and cinnamon. The finish was pretty harsh, not smooth like the others at all.

Caol Ila 22 years old 1999 Gordon and McPhail reserve - Scotland
I'm not an Islay malt fan at all, but happy to make time for the older malts of this ilk.
Good golden colour with a subtle peaty and heather nose. The subtlety of the peat is repeated in the palate with a hint of honey in the finish. The sherry cask has a very faint influence on the palate.
All in all a good end to the evening.



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