The West Cork Distillery is a new (opened in 2003 as an experimental “pet project” and then expanded to its current location in 2013) and actually independent Irish distiller, unlike the previous poster-child for Irish (whiskey) independence, Cooley, which sold to Beam Suntory in 2011. Among other things, West Cork bottles this blend and a 10 year-old Irish Single Malt.
This NAS (no-age-statement) bottling combines Ardbeg from ex-bourbon casks with a “heart” of Ardbeg finished in “dark sherry” casks. No details on how they’re defining “dark sherry” (or “heart” for that matter), but the Internet has decided this means heavily-seasoned sherry casks. The result is bottled without chill-filtration at 46.5% ABV.
I tasted a sample of Verso rye whisky from the Kyrö Distillery Company in Finland that was collected from bottle in April of 2015. This is a 100% malted rye whisky aged for only four months in very small new American white oak casks and bottled at 46.5% ABV. The distillery, which makes several products all from rye grain, began distilling in 2014 in a refurbished cheese factory.
Superstition is Jura’s house malt but heavily peated (although the bottle says “lightly” peated, I would lump it in with fully peated malts like Laphroaig and Talisker) and aged in ex-bourbon casks. It’s quite reasonably priced, at $50 – $60, which is the new $40, didn’t you know?
The Wyoming Whiskey small batch wheated bourbon is distilled from a mashbill of corn, wheat, and barley and is aged in new charred white oak barrels for five years (or so – there’s no age statement on the bottle). Then it’s bottled at 44% ABV and retails for around $40. They source all of their grain from Wyoming farms growing Non-GMO corn, wheat, and barley.
The entry-level product from the upstart Canadian distillery, Forty Creek. As it’s positioned as a direct competitor to the entry-level Crown Royal, the flavor profile makes sense. It definitely tastes like a “higher end” Crown for not much more money. It’s also cheap enough to mix with. Forty Creek ages their copper pot-still components (rye, corn, and barley) in separate barrels and then carefully blends them together for the final product, an unusual approach.
The much more reasonably-priced 10 year bottling (also labelled “Jura Origin”) is aged exclusively in ex-bourbon casks and is not peated. As an entry-level, unpeated, and non-sherried malt, it showcases the “blank slate” that Jura’s house character is grown from. While there is a small amount of peat in the water used by Jura, I can’t discern it in the glass.
This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Whiskies of the World 2016 show in San Francisco on the beautiful Hornblower Yacht: The San Fransisco Belle. While it remained docked throughout the show, the motion of the waves definitely seemed to… uhh, intensify as the night’s tastings went on. Read some highlights from the show…
Bernheim Original, although it looks and tastes like bourbon, is not in fact bourbon. It is however a straight wheat whiskey and thus shares with bourbon an aging (of minimum 2 years) in new charred oak barrels and cannot contain flavoring or coloring agents. Bernheim Original, owned by Heaven Hill Distilleries, is made primarily from soft winter wheat, aged at least 7 years, and is bottled in batches containing no more than 100 barrels (thus the “small batch” designation).
Loch Lomond, unfortunately not available in the United States, offers an NAS entry-level malt for bottom dollar. … Loch Lomond is a small distillery that quietly churns out product, and that product goes by many names including Loch Lomond, Inchmurrin, and Old Rhosdhu (among others). While classified as a Highland (or West Highland) distillery based on its location in Alexdandria, near Dumbarton, it is literally just up the road from Glasgow. Its style is also in line with Lowland malts: simple, subtle, light, and crisp.