The Whisky Lounge: World Whisky Review | Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog

Sunday, 21 September 2014

The Whisky Lounge: World Whisky Review

Set in the glorious first class waiting room of the original Victorian Train Station, the Sheffield Tap once again formed the backdrop to an evening of exploration - this time into the world of whisky. Tonight's offering was our first tasting night brought to us by The Whisky Lounge (although we have been to one of their festivals in the past, which we'd highly recommend). We had an evening of six whiskies from around the world, from some well-known distillers to the smaller and more obscure distilleries from somewhat more unexpected countries. All of the whiskies were drunk as a blind tasting with little clues as to their origin provided by our host Eddie.
The first dram of the night was the only one we've sampled before - Brukswhisky, from Mackmyra in Sweden. This pale, straw coloured whisky was one of our favourites from the 2013 Master of Malt Whisky Advent Calendar (you can see what we thought about it then here). This time round we also got a lovely soft barnyard-y nose of sweet hay, with honey. On the palate the sweetness continued but became more complex as the dram depleted, leaving behind a refreshing minty sensation in the finish. A very well-balanced and delicate dram which made a good start to the evening's proceedings.

We moved on to a good hearty sniff of whisky number two. What a nose! A great combination of salty and savoury with a balance of sweetness culminated in an overall scent akin to a cranberry topped pork pie. More dark fruits came in on the palate, before a robust and fiery finish. This dram turned out to be Penderyn Legend - an as-yet unreleased bottling from Wales' only distillery. Worth looking out for.

The first drink of the evening that wasn't from Europe was the Hellyers Road 'Peated' from Australia - more specifically, Tasmania. Hellyers Road was also the smallest distillery of those showcased during the evening, although it's Tasmania's largest. The dram was a light coloured whisky, with tender hints of coal and a slight industrial nose. The little hints of fire followed through to the palate, accompanied by burnt sugared lime. The carbon flavours continued with an almost graphite pencil nature to the taste. The finish allowed sweetness to develop, with masses of roasted chestnuts.
The line up!
Not usually at the forefront of people's minds when asked to name a whisky-producing country, our next offering came from Taiwan. With one of the oddest combinations on the nose we've experienced in whisky, Kavalan King Car Conductor smelled like a newly painted sweetshop, with rich, candied spiced fruits and the accompaniment of lead based gloss. Surprisingly gentle on the palate with a sticky, syrupy nature, this tasted much older than a comparably-aged Scotch would - a result of the hotter climate in which this whisky is produced.

Something a little closer to home was our penultimate dram: Chapter 15 from The English Whisky Co. This was another whisky with surprises in store - hints of maritime smoke and seaweed on the nose gave way to a taste that was like a vanilla milkshake drank from a goblet of oak. The finish seemed a little abrupt on this dram, but provided welcome tickles of cardamom spice alongside more oakiness.

The final dram of the evening was the only cask strength whisky of the night: the Amrut Intermediate Sherry Cask Matured, weighing in at 57.1% ABV. Like home made marshmallow and caramel on the nose, fruit-cakey spice came through on the palate, which was beautifully well rounded and soft despite the high ABV. Lashings of maple syrup completed the flavour extravaganza, leaving behind a lovely lingering spice and sherry sweetness. This was somewhat predictably the favourite for both of us - what can we say, we're suckers for a cask strength sherry finish!

This was our first experience of being amongst the most seasoned whisky drinkers in the room, with plenty of people present who had never been to a tasting event before. The tone of the evening as a whole was bang on perfect for the audience, with quick run-throughs of the whisky making process without getting bogged down in jargon, coupled with interesting facts and lesser known gems of information, making it accessible to all. Whisky-chat was also rife - never a bad thing!
Cheers,

J&L

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