Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog: Yamazaki
Showing posts with label Yamazaki. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Yamazaki. Show all posts

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2013

Named by Jim Murray as the "World Whisky of the Year" in his 2015 Whisky Bible and subsequently reaching massively lofty heights in the £££ stakes at auction, we pretty much anticipated this was a whisky we would never taste. And then a chance retweet meant we won a bottle from the kind folks at The Whisky Exchange. A couple of weeks of do-we-drink-it-or-do-we-cash-in followed, before we realised that was a stupid argument, we'd paid nothing for it, we didn't need the money and besides, we actually wanted to know what it tasted like. Also, CHRISTMAS YOLO. Christmas 2014 was a good day...

We've since savoured this dram, always treating it as a "special occasion" kinda whisky, and so World Whisky Day seemed like the perfect time to polish it off. Here are our thoughts.

Colour: Indulgent mahogany.

Nose: Walnuts, raisins, plum pudding, deep dark wood and bags of demerara sugar, with some allspice and cinnamon thrown in for good measure. The sherry influence is hugely apparent and creates an opulent and enticing aroma.

Palate: Rounded and robust. Hints of black forest gateau with cherry liqueur and dark chocolate both identifiable. Dried fruits and rich sugars follow through from the nose. It's suffered somewhat from being open for such a long time, gaining a slight astringency, and in hindsight we should have just got on with it and drank it quicker as the flavours (although definitely still apparent) have diminished slightly. That said, it's still a great drink and in it's heyday was truly magnificent.

Finish: Long, tannic and warming, the chocolate notes in particular lingering along with the wood. Delicious.

To conclude - it's a very fucking lovely dram indeed, we have absolutely no regrets about drinking rather than selling, and we reckon it's well worth the initial £80-100 pricetag. But over a grand? We'd rather have 20 bottles of Uigedail thanks.

Cheers, and a very happy World Whisky Day!

Friday, 6 January 2017

Imperial Raspberry Stout: Thornbridge meets Yamazaki

Beer and whisky... in case you hadn't noticed, two of our favourite things. We just so happened to have one of each in the cupboard which we thought would work well in a joint tasting... Thornbridge Brewery's Imperial Raspberry Stout, brewed in collaboration with St Eriks, and a sample of the SMWS 119.14 Raspberry Imperial Stout.

We started with the beer and were instantly hit by the deep, rich raspberry aroma. The flavour bursts with raspberry coulis, slightly tart but balanced by bitter dark chocolate and hints of sweet bonfire toffee, all backed up with a smooth and roasted malty backbone. The finish is surprisingly short for such a robust stout (the ABV weighs in at 10%) but this makes it all the more drinkable. A total delight.

Onto the whisky - a single barrel Yamazaki bottled at 53.9%. Classically Japanese, light and distinctly yet delicately tannic on the nose, but with a fruity twist. Spicy and earthy with deeper woodiness on the palate, all alongside sweet raspberries. With time in the glass it opens up and becomes a little more rounded with a softer character that allows for more of the sherry to come through from the bota corta cask. Overall though, not particularly balanced for an 11 year old whisky, but no worse for this - it's a real experience to drink and excites the palate with every sip.

Obviously we couldn't resist mixing a bit of each together to create a boilermaker and it was a TRIUMPH. 



Wednesday, 7 January 2015

The Obligatory Drinks Roundup Post of 2014

Somewhat belatedly, we thought we'd do a quick review of our favourite tipples of last year, as we aim this month to sample new things through #tryanuary.

Jim - Bruichladdich Octomore 0.5 - an early test of the 'most peated whisky ever made' in a beautiful Chateau D'Yquem cask, this was drunk in warehouse one of the distillery, making this the most memorable whisky I've ever drunk (more about it can be found here).
Laura - Bruichladdich Duplex - sampled at the Broadfield's "Old and Rare" whisky tasting this was a private bottling of incredible interest. This Petrus cask aged dram encompassed flavours I've never experienced before or since in a whisky. 

J - Bruichladdich Cuvée 407 - a rich, chewy, intense whisky, aged for 21 years in Bourbon before being finished in Jerez Pedro Ximinez casks, it is a wonderful full mouthed dram, pleasingly sweet and spicy.
L - Aberlour 16 - put simply, this is just my kind of whisky, enjoyed again and again and never disappoints. Another sherry casked beauty which has a gorgeous Christmas-cakey stickiness to it.

You will see that these whiskies are predominantly from Bruichladdich, with wine and sherry casks featuring heavily - 2014 seems to have been the year that we have discovered our "type" when it comes to whisky! Which is not to say that variety has gone unappreciated - we've been lucky enough to sample a huge range of drams across the year. Honourable mentions to Yamazaki 18, Ardmore Traditional Cask and Sullivan's Cove French Oak.

J - Great Heck Yakima IPA - this is the only beer that I have bought more than two bottles of to drink this year, and is a wonderful example of how a heavily hopped beer can still have a bold malty mou feel, without the main flavour being just hops.
L - Siren Odyssey 001- another wine cask aged beverage for me! This was enjoyed at the Beer Central bottle share at the Bath Hotel. This was just a fantastic night all round and this luscious 12.4% imperial stout really topped it off. The wonderful Sean from Beer Central has written more about the night here - any Sheffield based readers would do well to keep their eyes peeled for the next one!

J - Blue Bee are easily one of the most improved breweries this year, with new owners and head brewer who have transformed them from producing middle of the road 'traditional' beers to a more robust lineup of excellent regular cask beers. Into The Abyss is the best of the bunch for me - a Black IPA, that retains the great malty features of a dark beer coupled with a light hoppy freshness. (Drank at The 3 Tuns)
L - Waen Brewery's Snowball is my most memorable beer of the year - a 7% chocolate and coconut stout with a smooth vanilla hit. All three flavours come through powerfully yet maintain tasty, tasty harmony. The highlight of Sheffield's CAMRA beer festival for me.

J - Mikkeller Black is one of the most interesting keg beers I have drunk this year. When it was released, the 17.5% beer was the 'strongest beer in Scandinavia' and unlike other brews of a similar strength, the high ABV wasn't achieved through freeze distillation but through brewing acumen. (Drank at Brewdog Sheffield)
L - Hitachino Nest White Ale - another drink enjoyed at Brewdog Sheffield (where we've spent many a happy afternoon over the course of the year) this was also one of my favourite bottles of the year, with orangey flavour and a pleasing spiciness. As well as this, the bottle has a very cute owl on it - what's not to like?!

J - The Sheaf View - Consistently excellent and ever changing bar, with a great selection of not just ales but whiskies and other spirits too. This is my weekend haunt - as a friday evening drink the atmosphere is lively and friendly, and for a Saturday afternoon sandwich the pub is quiet and relaxed and often a completely different selection of beer can be found on the bar.
L - The Bath Hotel (see also our write-up here) - we've made many happy memories there over 2014, including nights with good friends winning the quiz and drinking too much Thornbridge Charlie Brown's peanut butter beer, and of course Sheff Brew Fest, one of our highlights of the year.

With multiple beer festivals (we NEED to go to IndyMan this year...), a gin distillery trip, a holiday to Arran and much more adventuring round Sheffield and beyond to do, 2015 is already gearing up to a be a good 'un.

Let us know your "golden beverages" of the year!



Monday, 11 August 2014

Old and Rare Whisky at the Broadfield

With the heady wafts of five fine whiskies in front of us, we arrived again for another tasting in the upstairs room of the Broadfield. The evening was a warm one, due to both the weather and the extreme popularity of the soon to be international tasting events run by Ed Daly (@whiskycurator). As well as the excellent whisky on offer, there was also a selection of exquisite food planned by chef Rob, to complement and contrast with our drams.

We opened with a spectacular whisky from Bowmore: the 16 year (1989 release). This bottling is a limited release that due to its excellence has sold out from most places, but can still be purchased for almost double its original price from auction sites. The whisky hums lightly of the sea, coupled with a smoked lime sherbet. Even more of the salty, iodine flavours came out on the taste, which paired perfectly with the sweetness from the bourbon cask. The whisky is bottled at 51.8% but doesn't have the heat expected from cask strength. It is a whisky that does everything you would expect from a Bowmore, but on a level not often seen.

Seared king scallops with candied leek, served on a bed of truffle polenta were served alongside: the food managed to find a careful balance of sweetness in the leek and sea-saltiness in the scallop to enhance the flavours of the whisky.

Yamazaki Mizanara is a truly rare whisky, and one that has not yet been released in the UK, but had been acquired for the evening by our host. This whisky is aged in a Mizanara cask, a kind of Japanese oak not often used as it is a slow growing tree and very temperamental in casks (it expands and contracts erratically and leakage is often inevitable), which makes it the most expensive bottle of the evening (around £250 a bottle). It has the smell of lingering minty incense and apricots, that continues to grow on the palate to a flavour unlike anything else we've ever tried, with flavours of malted fruits and a sweet woodiness of tobacco. The finish is of a light fruitiness and subtle smoke.

The food accompaniment in this case was potted rabbit, hazelnut tuille and woodland pesto made from nettles, garlic, sorrel and lovage. A great earthiness from the pesto intensifies with the flavours of the Japanese oak. The rabbit itself is bold and rich and the hazelnut tuille provided the perfect level of sweetness.

The next dram was a Fettercairn 24 year. The smell was of a Victorian retiring room during tea service: wafts of old leather, fruit scones and a small sherry. A little further into the smell came the tickly heat of black pepper and walnut. On the taste was the same retiring room, this time late evening with a large glass of sherry and a toffee pudding, plus a lovely spice creeping in on the finish.

Pan fried pigeon breast with a summer berry kebab and a strawberry balsamic jus was the pairing here. Pigeon is one of my favourite pieces of poultry and this was a fine example of how good game can be.

The oldest whisky of the evening came second to last in the form of Glenfarclas 30, which has an incredibly rounded nose of sweet toffee with treacle that gives way to citrus punch. The sherry finish is exquisitely sticky and rounded across the mouth but steps up a notch with delightful spiced dried fruit. Whilst this whisky was awesome, its age means for me that there is a little loss of a certain characteristic - the flavours all marry together so well that we both found it almost bland.

This was served with an ideal accompaniment: venison tortellini with sautéed wild mushrooms. The richness of this dish worked really well with the hearty nature of the whisky.

The final dram of the night was undoubtedly the most special. We were initially taken by surprise by the colour - blush pink! This turned out to be Bruichladdich 10 year "Duplex" - a private cask bottling, with 244 bottles produced. Finished in very rare Petrus wine casks and personally bottled by Jim McEwan, this is certainly a whisky with a story to tell. A robust wine-y nose gives way to a rounded flavour of red fruits and delicate sweetness. At 62.3%, this is a whisky which fills the head rather than the stomach with warmth. It is a marvellous dram that tickles all the palate with a rounded depth from the fine red wine finish.

This was served with a goat's cheese semifreddo, apricot puree and summer berry candy: a delightful pud and a wonderfully sweet way to draw the evening to a close.

This was a splendid end to the tasting series, with some of the finest whiskies we've sampled throughout the tastings and easily some of the best food pairings.

The next round of tastings are already planned, and we're sure to be booking on to a few!


Friday, 14 March 2014

Japanese Whisky Tasting at the Broadfield

So, we return once again to the lovely upstairs room of the Broadfield for another whisky tasting: this time, the focus is on the east and the produce of the Japanese.

As you may have seen previously, these events, run by Ed Daly (@whiskycurator), consist of five fine whiskies. Tonight's proceedings open with the Hibiki 12. This is a Suntory whisky of great character, and with an attention to detail unsurpassed by most of the blends on the market. It is constructed by at least 35 different whiskies, all of which are exclusive to the Hibiki 12 year. It is this commitment to great balance that is reflected in the overall sweet vanilla flavour, which gives way to a peppery spiced finish.
This dram is followed closely by the Hakushu Bourbon Barrel; a whisky that comes to the UK in relatively small batches. It has a honey nose with a slight raisiny edge. As the whisky flows across the palate, a new flavour, more homely yet sophisticated like banoffee pie emerges. The warmth of the 48.2% spirit lingers pleasantly towards a fruity end.
Nikka 'from the Barrel' is next, with easily the cutest bottle of the night, reminiscent of a traditional yet oversized pill bottle. This is a delicious whisky that sings of spiced oak, and not in the least bit medicinal. As tonight's whiskies go it is one that I have drunk before and would do so again (and again) - it's spiced nature is held strong with sweeter, creamier flavours, which work along to a lovely oak spice across the palate and into the finish.
Between the third and fourth whiskies we were given opportunity to get another pint and go for a cigarette, with the reassurance from our host that the whiskies will power through any dulling that 10 minutes smoking can do to the taste buds. So down to the bar for a pint of Summer Wine Barista - an espresso stout of monumental coffee-osity - before returning to the upstairs parlour.
As promised these two were bold, punchy and above all delicious. The Karuizawa, a whisky with 'no age statement' (a dirty phrase between the more traditional whisky drinkers), is a demerara sweet sherried whisky. The whisky is compiled from 77 different sherry casks to create this dark in colour and vibrant in flavour dram of light ginger spice, while at the same time possessing the body of a good red wine that stays on the tongue sweetly and luxuriously.
As with most tastings the night ends on lofty heights with the multi award winning Yamazaki 18 year, a Pedro Ximinez aged gorgeously balanced fruity number. The nose tingles with apples and hints of pear. Its depth and complexity build as you hold it in the mouth and let it wash over the tongue and down the throat, as in the last movement of Beethoven's glorious Symphony No. 9, where the entire spectacle comes to an end with a chorus of a thousand. The long yet dainty fruit-filled finish stays in the mouth long after sending the delightful spirit to the stomach. Divine.
Accompanying each of the whiskies was a simply stunning handmade piece of sushi (one of Ed's hidden talents) - it tasted as good as it looked. See for yourself just how good!
We may have "accidentally" booked ourselves onto another two future tastings, and we can't wait to see what the next one will bring.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Advent - the final batch of drams! 18-24

As Christmas day draws near, so more and more of our little advent windows are emptied. Here are our reviews of the last few drams...

Day 18
Laura - Greenhook Ginsmiths Gin. Another American one and I have come to expect good things from across the pond. This is a fine example of a classic gin, with a clean juniper flavour and a beautiful aromaticism. A good one to sip on!
Jim - Yellow Spot. An Irish whiskey of great quality with a nose of vanilla poached apricots, and a bourbon sweetness. This is accompanied by a velvet caress across the tongue tasting of fruits and a nutty touch down the neck.

L - St George's Rye Gin. You can definitely taste the rye! It's hearty, smooth and very rich. Once again this month, I have found myself surprised at just how unique a gin can be. It's described on the St George's website as "a gin for whiskey lovers" which I would definitely agree with - it even won over my usually gin-hating uncle, who was drawn in by the delicious malty aroma.
J - Auchentoshan Three Wood - two sherry casks and a bourbon come together to make this sweet, tropical fruit nose and a palate of treacle and dark fruits such as cherries. The colour of red bronze brings with it light nuts and a long finish of sticky sweet oak.

L - City of London Dry Gin. A fairly harsh (but not unpleasant) juniper flavour that softens into a lovely warm finish. I love the history and story behind gin, as well as just drinking it, and this company truly embodies this, even down to featuring plenty of fantastic Hogarth-esque imagery on their website. I'd really like to pay the distillery a visit!
J - Johnnie Walker Platinum Collection. Smells of pudding... fruits, custards and (oddly) smoke. All round, a very festive nose. A tickle of smokiness continues across the roof of the mouth. Fades to a nutty dark chocolate.

L - Professor Cornelius Ampleforth's Bathtub Gin Navy Strength. Surely a good sign when your gin is ever so slightly brown. This is 57%, and in Jim's words, "fucking incredible". It smells cinnamony, and a bit like a very tipsy gingerbread man. The key notes I got on the taste were brown sugar and cardamom, a winning combination. The finish lasts for AGES, and as well as the cardamom spice there's also some clove in there. I could rave about this gin for hours.
J - Scapa - malted toffee and rich caramel on the nose. Spiced oranges present in the taste, with a smoky finish across the palate.

L - Mason's Yorkshire Dry Gin. Being from Yorkshire myself, I was very excited to see this one. It is lovely - peppery, fragrant and clean. A credit to my beautiful home county!
J - Glenfiddich 15 year old Distillery Edition. Spiced custard on the palate, with a hint of freshly ground black pepper and a long finish of buttery sweetness, followed with flavours of sherry.

L -Breuckelen Glorious Gin - well this definitely lives up to it's name. Very aromatic, with a creamy, almost herby scent (rosemary is one of the five botanicals in this). The flavour is citrussy but with a malty hit that keeps it smooth. A long finish that tickles in the tum.
J - Yamazaki 12 Yr. A sweet tender tasting whisky, with a flavour of delightful flowers which skips across the tip of the tongue. The orange sugar flavours creep up the nose and down the throat, before the end slinks away with a fruity woodiness that fills the mouth.

24 - And so we reach the final dram!
L - Smooth Ambler Greenbrier Gin - a savoury character in the flavour soon gives way to a sweet, citrus finish that resonates in the throat for ages, which I particularly appreciated today as I finally polished off the last sip of what has been a great advent!
J - Glenfarclas 40 yr - Spectacular. Apples, and peppered dark chocolate drift across the nose, with a light sherry. The rich characterful texture gently caresses the tongue with medjool dates, and figs seasoned with spice and demarara sugar. The finish is much like chewing on a leather jacket wearing gingerbread man. Simply divine.

Overall... what can we say?! It's been a rollercoaster of flavour and an absolutely incredible ride! Both calendars were sensational, not a bad drink between them, and despite the fairly big outlay they represent fantastic value for money. We've both had the opportunity to taste drinks we would never have thought to buy a full bottle of, or even come across in a bar, and each revelation has been a delight.

This will very likely become an annual event - head on over to Master of Malt to join us next year!


Laura and Jim