The Tyrconnell (40%, OB, Circa 2008)

Irish Whiskey is something I would love to love. Ireland is a beautiful country with lovely people, and in Whisk(e)y have become something of an underdog. I already have on my lectern a very good Redbreast 15yo that was bottled in 2005, and that bottling especially, turns out to be somewhat of a cult Whiskey.

The Tyrconnell (a racehorse) was once the biggest brand of the Watt distillery which dates back to 1762. Still on the label is the year 1762 as is the name of Andrew A. Watt & Co. The modern Tyrconnell was revived by the Cooley distillery, which today is part of Beam Suntory. Cooley also revived the Kilbeggan brand name, and Beam Suntory today calls the company Kilbeggan Distilling Co., with Cooley and The Tyrconnell to be two of its brands. There are two more brands you might have heard of: Greenore (a Single Grain) and of course Kilbeggan itself. As could be read earlier Jack Teeling sold Cooley to this group and started fresh with Teeling Whiskey.

The TyrconnellLets have a look at two Tyrconnell’s, first the standard The Tyrconnell at 40% ABV with no age statement (NAS), and the next review will be about another Tyrconnell Single Malt Whiskey.

Color: Light gold

Nose: Petrol (as you can have in a good Riesling) and malt. Fruity, as in apples and pears. Dry grass and toned down lemon sherbet. Machine oil and honey. Dusty toffee. Sweet, but more from fruit sugars and honey, than from sugar itself. Very nice and also interesting nose with a little bit of pepper and toasted wood. Industrial, but I very much like that.

Taste: Sweet and malty. Some of the Industrial warm oil notes return in the taste. Petrol is here too. Malty and sugary sweet, with some air it develops into honey sweetness. It is young, yet not vibrant, slightly under-developed and for my taste a tad too sweet. Entry into the mouth is nice and oily, sweet, than a nice body shows itself, but quickly hides. Towards the end everything seems to turn into water. Extremely short finish with some woody bitterness.

Very interesting Whisky with a nice, but light, industrial revolution profile. The old owners issued quite some single cask bottlings of The Tyrconnell and I hope the new owners will do the same, hopefully at cask strength. For a NAS bottling it is quite nice, and sure shows some potential. Tweak the stuff with some older ex-Bourbon cask Whiskey (for a longer finish) and maybe up the strength a bit and in my opinion you may have a winner!

Points: 74

Inchmurrin 15yo (46%, OB, 2012)

Bottled on the 14th of november 2012, we have here an Inchmurrin which is a Single Malt Whisky made at the Loch Lomond distillery. Loch Lomond was founded in 1965 and distillation started a year later. On site there is a malt distillery as well as a grain distillery. The distillery has two copper pot stills and four stills with adjustable rectifying columns (for Single Malt production). Because of these different stills and the fact that the rectifying columns are adjustable a series of different Single Malts can be made. Today Loch Lomond produces the following Single Malts: Loch Lomond, (Old) Roshdu, Inchmoan, Craiglodge, Inchmurrin, Croftengea (heavily peated), Glen Douglas and Inchfad.

Inchmurrin 15yoSince 1993 also a Coffey still is placed for Grain Whisky production and therefore the company is able to produce a Single Blend named Loch Lomond (you’d think they were good at making up names for their products)

Color: White wine.

Nose: Extremely malty, grassy and has notes of lactic acid. How’s that for a start! We continue with cardboard and a strange kind of acidity. Vegetal and woody. Toasted wood which makes the whole rather spicy. Slight whiff of menthol. When you let it breathe a while in your glass this is actually not a bad nose, the strange funkiness that was there in the beginning dissipates, to give us a more normal nose.

Taste: Grainy, very grainy. Neutral. It tastes like a Vodka on wood. It ís a Single Malt, so what happened in those casks over all those years? Grain and wood, not a lot more actually. Freshly cut baguette with its paper bag. Hint of vanilla. It isn’t sweet and has only a hint of bitterness. Finish is uneventful, and the higher strength gives it some staying power. But nothing really special stays behind.

First of all let me say that the bottle looks very nice when you have it in front of you. Highest marks on the packaging. The Whisky itself seems almost like a Grain Whisky that was aged in a bunch of rerererefill casks, very inactive indeed. Probably the most neutral Single Malt Whisky I ever tasted. Let’s make it my 70 points benchmark.

Points: 70

The Macallan ‘Fine Oak’ 10yo (40%, OB, Circa 2010)

To be honest, I’d rather review a Macallan from the times of the old 10yo 100 proof I reviewed earlier, but instead I’m having a 10yo from the Fine Oak series. When the Fine Oak series was released some ten years ago, it was the time the real Macallan was killed off by the owners. Macallan was then a Whisky for aficionado’s and people with taste and the Fine Oak Macallan is marketed more to be hip. Maybe the change happened because there was a shortage of Sherry casks, or maybe it was a pure marketing move. Who knows, and who cares. For those of you who don’t remember, The Macallan used to be the finest Speyside Whisky around, known for heavy use of Sherry. Something Glendronach is known for now. Glendronach didn’t sell well and even closed because of the Sherry success of Macallan. So here we have a entry-level Macallan with an age statement. So let’s have a look what the legend has become.

Macallan Fine Oak 10yoColor: Light gold, with a pink hue.

Nose: Sweet and malty, hints of creamy Sherry in the distance. Cream, vanilla, lemon and sugar with that typical sherried wine-note. Hints of oak, yet very light. If you want to, you can still smell a bit of the original distillate which still is excellent. Ear-wax again, with mocha and a nutty component. Something like almond-cream. After some time, the sugary sweetness gets some help from honey. Also a powdery note enters the mix as does some cardboard.

Taste: Malty and sometimes close to new make spirit. Sweet with lots of toffee and caramel notes. A little back-bone from the oak. I taste a lot of Bourbon cask in this 10yo, and it does get some character from Sherry casks, which in my opinion aren’t all Oloroso, since typical Fino notes are here too. Maybe a plethora of different Sherry casks went into this. The sweetness is definitely a sugary sweetness. This Macallan would make an excellent filling for bonbons. It somehow would complement the taste of chocolate for me. The finish somehow is a bit unbalanced, with wood and cardboard. It splits like a hair, and is rather short to boot. After 10 years it should have been better, it still says Macallan on the label you know…

When reviewing this, should I forget about the old Macallan? Sure, this has nothing to do with The Macallan that used to be, but on the other hand, the name is still on the label and on the back label Macallan is still considered a legend. If I were to get this blind, this could have been anything.

Points: 77

Marieke – Oostenburgs Blond Bier (6.8%, 33 cl)

Marieke is, after Fonkel, the second Beer by Brouwerij Oostenburg. The people behind the brewery still don’t have their own brewery yet, but make their beers at the brewery of De 7 Deugden in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Earlier you could read about the wonderful Fonkel, and today we’ll have a look at the just released Blonde Beer by Brewery Oostenburg. For those of you who can read Dutch, you might enjoy the nice romantic language on their site.

Brewery Oostenburg like so many others, started out as a hobby brewery but is rapidly becoming more serious, brewing special Beers for special occasions. The brewers, (no names are mentioned on the website), are trying to brew Beers with a flavor combination that was not there yet, so in that sense they started with the wonderful Fonkel (cloves). Marieke is a Blonde Beer, which to me doesn’t sound like something “special” since there are already numerous Blonde Beers around. Also a glance at the ingredients doesn’t tell us anything special. Still the wonderful Fonkel fills me with anticipation…

MariekeColor: Dark blonde, maybe even amber, with just the right amount of ivory foam, but less than Fonkel.

Nose: Fresh citrus odor. Hits of yeast and hops, but both are not very upfront. Advised drinking temperature for this beer is 6 – 8º C and that’s a temperature the nose of a Beer usually is pretty closed. What stays is the fresh or refreshing smell this Beer has. Very appetizing. The foam is about two centimetres thick, holds on for a while and then disappears rather quickly.

Taste: Very light when the beer enters the mouth. Light woody (hoppy naturally) bitterness and estery (tiny hint of banana) taste. Not the body I’ve expected. Short finish. The alcohol is not upfront. The refreshing nose doesn’t come back in the taste. And the whole taste dances around its, not too heavy, bitterness.

The strong points of this beer is in the beginning. Nice color, nice amount of foam. Clean looking with some dabs of yeast. Also nice is it’s smell. Is smells appetizing and refreshing. The taste however, for me, is too light. At entry, a nice bitterness helps the Beer along, but in the end the bitterness is too weak to give Marieke a nice voluptuous body. Marieke has a slim body, and actually, she doesn’t leave a lasting impression. That’s maybe Mariekes weakest point, a very light finish of hops and yeast which dissipates too quickly.

This beer has just been released and readers of my Beer posts will remember I believe in ageing Beers. This is freshly brewed and might gain from ageing. The brewers already got a lot right so I can imagine next batches of this beer to be even better. When tasting this Beer, I have found better development at a higher temperature than advised. 8 to 10º C seems more right to me.

In the end I’m quite disappointed with Marieke. Fonkel really is a Beer with an idea behind it and it seems to me the recipe was perfected over time (in a kitchen or something). This idea of brewing something special was conveyed onto us by word of the website, but Marieke, to me, has not that special idea behind its creation and may have been released too quick.

Points: 72

Fonkel – Oostenburgs Amberbier (7%, 33 cl)

This is the first beer of Brouwerij Oostenburg, that’s why I’m posting it first, but I’m tasting it áfter the Marieke which will feature in the next review. Marieke by the way, is Brouwerij Oostenburgs new Blond Beer. Out now! I’m tasting the beers in reversed order, because I got them out of the fridge together and according to the brewers, Marieke needs to be drunk at a lower temperature. Second, Fonkel is an Amber beer at 7% ABV and Marieke is a Blond Beer, lighter in style with “only” 6.8% ABV. So first up is Fonkel since it’s the brewers first beer and next time I’ll review Marieke, including a little bit of info about the brewers.

FonkelColor: Dark orange amber. It’s like having fire in a glass. Perfect thick and firm dark ivory foam. Medium residual yeast that transferred into my glass. Yummie!

Nose: Definitely a darker nose than Marieke. Fruity and even slightly fishy and dishwater (burnt sugar in water) like smell. This adds to the character. This may sound negative to you, but believe me, this is no bad thing. From a distance the beer smells floral and gives off a lovely smell. You’ll read about it next time, but Marieke too is a nice smelling beer. The added spices are easily recognizable. Coriander, but above all cloves! A real winter warmer by the fireplace. I like the use of cloves in this beer, it brings back my childhood at Christmas. My mother always put some oranges on the table with cloves sticking out of the skin and exactly that is what I get from this beer.

Taste: At entry, this is a very nice Beer, loads of character and well made. I like it. A little bit of deep citrus skins, predominantly oranges and tangerines. But yes, here the cloves play a nice part to. Just read the part about the nose of this beer and copy it here. The taste matches the smell of this beer perfectly. Good masculine finish with medium bitterness combined with spices. The finish is long and stays with a nice hint of cloves. (Personally I would have liked a little bit more clove even, and maybe a tad of cinnamon in this beer, but that may not work, I’m not a brewer).

Well made and very tasty beer, which hits the right chords. With beers like this in your collection, who wouldn’t like winter! Advised to drink around 8 – 10 C, and I guess that’s about right. Recommended if you can get a hold of it since it seems to be only sold locally.

Points: 84

Dailuaine 1999/2012 (59.3%, The House of MacDuff, The Golden Cask, Cask #CM172, 270 bottles)

Almost another year has passed since reviewing my last Dailuaine, bottled by Jürgen a.k.a. The Whisky Mercenary. This time a younger version, distilled in 1999, with a fairly light color, so probably not a very active cask.

Dailuaine 199920/12 (59.3%, The House of MacDuff, The Golden Cask, Cask #CM172, 270 bottles)Jürgen’s version was quite strong and with a cask picked by John McDougall I again have some high hopes for this Dailuaine. Let’s see if this light Dailuaine packs some punch, and does it also have some cannabis I picked up in several other Dailuaines?

Color: Light citrussy gold.

Nose: Vegetal, fern and high on malt. High alcohol too, sweet. Thin honey, toffee and hard caramel. Pretty anonymous. This cask didn’t do a lot for the spirit. One use too many I guess. Tine hint of soapy foam. A very “green” Malt, and actually not very interesting. Dull.

Taste: Malty and powdery and yes, some wood. Pretty powerful and sweet. Rustic. A Malt from the country so to speak. Lots of marzipan and very fresh and likeable. Strangely enough there is a citrussy soury note that only shows itself in the finish. I know it s the oil from orange skins! Although likeable, something is not quite right here. (The strange soury note?).

Typical high strength Whisky where the cask didn’t impair a lot, or so it seems. There maybe something wrong with this one, but nothing to worry about too much, yet this one doesn’t speak to me. Good enough for bottling it is as single cask, but personally I wouldn’t have. Tasted blind I would have thought this was a Cadenheads bottling, since they have released lots of Whiskies like this in the recent past, but they bottle a lot. The House of MacDuff bottle considerably less, so you could expect only nice picks in their range. If so, why was this one picked? Probably for its malty sweetness I guess (or the orange?). No cannabis this time though.

Points: 81

Linkwood 21yo 1985/2007 (43%, The Secret Treasures, Bourbon Cask #4548, 348 bottles)

Linkwood 21yo 1985/2007 (43%, The Secret Treasures, Bourbon Cask #4548, 348 bottles)Here we have a Linkwood bottled by German outfit Secret Treasures (Haromex). Their website is quite amateurish and uninformative. Some basic information is there, but seems a bit outdated. The firm is known for some great rums, like Demarara and Guadeloupe, and apart from Whisky also bottles a Bitter (Els from herbs only found in the Eiffel region), a Gin and some fruit distillates. Their Whiskies are bottled at 43% ABV, a strength that also seems a bit outdated where single cask bottlings are concerned. Bottle looks nice though!

Color: Gold

Nose: Spicy wood, sweet with some vanilla notes. The typical smell of a Whisky coming from a Ex-Bourbon Cask. Some flowery notes by also some candy sweetness. Mocha, tiny hint of mocha coffee. Small hint of cask toast mingled with some dry old spices. Creamy and powdery. I think you get the picture. It smells reduced and easily drinkable.

Taste: Vanilla and oak. Small hint of cannabis, which is not quite unusual for this type of oak. Wax, maybe ear wax. Vanilla ice-cream with some pencil shavings and fresh almonds. Even though this is reduced to 43% it is quite hot and the hotness stays around for a while. The finish itself, tastewise, is much shorter. Hints of fermentation (yeast, cow dung?) and then a bit sour.

Quite sweet and in part too light. Nice sweet body with a hot finish that stays longer than the taste itself. To me this Whisky shows some small faults in distillation. Initially it seems a nice Malt, with a nice smell and so forth, but the taste already shows some unbalance. Nice entry, than heavy on the sweet part, and full body, but a hot and weak finish. Not bad, but should have been better.

Points: 81