The Whisky Tasting Club The Whisky Tasting Club

Festive World Beaters

whiskies from France, Ireland, USA, Canada and Australia

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If you had asked anyone in the 1970s whether they had drunk Australian or English wine (not least a good one), they would probably have laughed in your face. As far as many people were concerned, proper wine was made in France, Spain, Austria, Germany, Italy and maybe Portugal. End of story.

Except it’s not the end of the story, as the shelves in any good wine shop today will attest. However, ask most people whether they prefer Dutch or English whisky, and you’ll probably get a similar reaction. As far as they are concerned, proper whisky is made in Scotland, Ireland, the United States and perhaps Canada. End of story.

Except it’s not the end of the story, and why would it be? Whisky (or ‘whiskey’ in the US or Ireland) is made from grain, yeast and water and matured in oak casks - hardly the most difficult ingredients to come by. So why hasn’t whisky been produced outside of its traditional heartlands? Well the fact is, it has. The Czech Republic, for example, has been distilling since 1877, Japan since 1924 and Spain since 1962, although little would have been seen outside of their own borders until relatively recently. However, once a Japanese whisky had been voted the world’s best single malt by Whisky Magazine, people realized that Scotland, Ireland and the US didn’t have a monopoly on great whisky.

Since the 1990s, there has been a veritable explosion in world production with every continent except Antarctica making its own whiskies. In fact, our standard world pack is one of the most popular pack we’ve released, proving that there is a real demand for world whiskies. The problem, however, is getting hold of them. Many of these whiskies are produced in tiny quantities and are often difficult to source in the UK. Added to that, some countries are only just realising how good their own whiskies are. Japan, for example, has been producing award-winning whiskies for years, but the demand for Japanese whiskies is now so great at home and abroad, that it’s becoming hard to find their premium malts in the UK unless you’re prepared to pay through the nose.

The Whisky Tasting Club has been incredibly lucky to have sampled a variety of stunning whiskies from around the world and has selected five very different examples of world whiskies from three continents for you to try. This includes a Bourbon from the United States, single malts from Brittany, Ireland and Australia, and a grain whisky from Canada.

Although the received wisdom is that a whisky should be 10 years and older to be any good, only one of these whiskies has an age statement, proving that age doesn’t always matter when it comes to high quality whisky.

Happy Christmas, and enjoy!

Sullivan’s Cove American Oak

Sullivan’s Cove is in Hobart, Tasmania. There are currently nine distilleries on Tasmania, and Sullivan’s Cove is one of the most successful and widely distributed Tasmanian brands. Sullivan’s Cove was the Wizards Australasian distiller of the year, and recently picked up the award for Australian single malt whisky of the year in the Whisky magazine World Whisky Awards.

Sullivan’s Cove use only Tasmanian barley, but experiment with a wide range of casks. This expression is made up of whisky matured exclusively in ex-bourbon casks.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Slightly grungy and industrial, which, over time, develops into a richer, cleaner note. Cucumber, apricot Danish, grape jelly, slight charred fruitcake and buttercream.
Palate: A burst of dry wood spice to start, becoming rather muddled and indistinct in the middle before softening to a lovely fruity, rich and creamy finish.

Retails for around £90

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It’s an interesting story behind John E. Fitzgerald’s Larceny bourbon. Fitzgerald was a treasury agent (presumably the same as customs and excise man in the UK) who had the keys to the rickhouses – huge racked warehouses where the bourbon matured. Evidently, temptation was too much for him and he helped himself. But not to any old casks. Oh no. Our John took the best. Larceny has wheat as its secondary grain, rather than the usual rye, giving it a softer palate. This is simply one of the best bourbons available.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Jellied fruits, mint and sweet cigarettes. A wonderfully alluring nose with further hints of cherry and dark chocolate.
Palate: Spicy, yes, but also smooth and deliciously fruity with lots of mint toffee and vanilla and no bitterness. This is now one of my favourite whiskeys. Period.

Retails for around £45

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Teeling Single Malt

Situated in the so-called “Golden Triangle” of Dublin, where numerous distilleries were once crammed into a single mile, the Teeling distillery is the first to distil in the city in almost 40 years and the first new distillery in 125 years.

Made from 100% malted barley (so it isn’t an Irish “Pot Still whiskey”), this is made from numerous different age statements and wine finishes, including Sherry, Port, Madeira, White Burgundy and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Light and sugary. Baked apples and Demarera sugar. A sense of a more complex but distant element to this – one that you can never quite put my finger on.
Palate: Juicy and crisp with a raspberry jam undertow and a pithy grapefruity oakiness.

Retails for around £40-45

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Armorik Double Maturation

Armorik is a French whisky produced by the Warenghem Distillery in the Breton (Brittany) region of France. They are proud of their Celtic roots, and follow a traditional Scottish approach to whisky making. Armorik has no age statement and is a marriage of whisky matured in ex-bourbon and sherry casks. Armorik was first distilled in 1994, and has been available in France as a single malt since 1999. This expression is aged first in Breton oak casks before being finished in sherry casks. This expression was voted best world whisky (12 years and under) at the 2012 World Whisky Awards.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Palate: Immediate peat and distant salt. An underlying sweetness and richness and a hint of caraway.
Finish: Much richer and saltier than the nose. The peat seems to come and go at first but builds impressively. Vanilla, green fruits and peat to finish.

Retails for around £40-45

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Cadenhead’s Canada 11 year old

This is a rare beast indeed. Distilled in British Colombia at the Potter Distilling Company in Kelowna, this uses Indian Corn as its grain. Indian Corn is a bizarre multi-coloured grain grown by the indigenous Indians of North America and picked up by early colonists. Like the Scottish grain distilleries, little is known about the Potter Distilling Company except that it started as a bottler and merchant of liqueurs and then diversified into making spirits in 1962. This was distilled in 2000, matured in a bourbon barrel for 11 years.

The Whisky Tasting Club Notes:
Nose: Sweet. Tinned pears. Caramel. Mint and milk chocolate. Marzipan. Citrus. Almonds.
Palate: Initially marzipan sweet with more milk chocolate, then citrusy and hugely spicy.

Retails for around £50-60

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