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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Most Recent Whisky

Most Recent Whisky Review

Glenfiddich Fire and Cane

This release is part of the Glenfiddich Experimental series and bottled at 43% ABV (which is quite unusual from Glenfiddich).   It is a peated malt that is finished in rum casks, hence the Fire and Cane (as in sugarcane)  name.  The nose is smokey, but more camp fire rather than strong peat.  Fire before the Cane.  The taste is spicy and nutty, chocolate, pepper, brown sugar and some honey and a hint of the phenol from peat.  The finish is a little hot, like eating burnt cake batter off a wooden spoon.  Water brings up more brown sugar and some lemon peel.  Very nicely done but not sure I would pair peat and rum casks, personnally I prefer peat and sherry casks.

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  • Friday, 09 March 2012 16:50

    Deanston and the Power of Suggestion

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    Prior to tasting a whisky, I used to avoid reading other people’s tasting notes because I find the power of suggestion can be very strong.  I do often read other tasting notes after I write my notes just for fun or to help me calibrate my own notes and sometimes to help me identify a taste or aroma that I couldn’t quite nail down, and that someone smarter than me might have been able to. 

    When I first read Ian Buxton’s tasting notes for Deanston 12 year old in the book 101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die I was intrigued by the gingerbread reference he made and for some reason it stuck with me.  When I did finally taste it (many months later) the only way I could describe the malty nose and spicy yet sweet taste of that malt was of course.... gingerbread.  So was it the power of suggestion at work or does Deanston taste so much like gingerbread that I would have come up with independently?  The answer I think is probably a bit of both.  The taste profile certainly does contain all those elements I associate with gingerbread, but so do many other single malts and without that reference in my head I may have chosen another analogy, say cinnamon toasted breakfast cereal or a ginger snap cookie for example.  Actually a sweet tea dunked ginger snap is a pretty good descriptor for Deanston 12 year old, I think I will add that to my review.

    I now find, as I taste more whiskies, it is becoming harder and harder not to have at least some expectations about any given dram.  Even if I have not read a tasting note I now have preconceptions and ideas of what I expect to find in say a bourbon, a Balvenie or Glenlivet expression or any sherry cask matured whisky based on my experience to date.   Blind tasting is perhaps the only way to avoid these types of mental connections, but to date my relatively little experience with blind tasting has been best described as a “mind f***”.  Seriously, if you think you know anything about whisky, get someone to set up a blind tasting for you and then be prepared to be humbled (especially if the person is a little crafty and knows their whisky).  

    So at the end the day if I find joy in the simple pleasure joy of recognizing the same things that others before me found in a dram, even if that is due in part to the power of suggestion rather than my sophisticated palate, then I have decided I am fine with that.  After all I am doing this for fun not for science and it seems to me that whisky is all about bonding with people and sharing experiences.  If the power of suggestion actually enables or enhances that bonding process… then I say it’s a good thing.

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    English Whisky Company Peated Single Malt

    An important milestone whisky for me. This was sample 4 of the USA Tweet Tasting I participated in October 2013 and also whisky tasting number 500 for www.somanywhiskies.com. I found it rather fitting and a pleasant coincidence that it turned out to be an English whisky (because I am an English whisky blogger).   This is the American released expression which due to some rather daft US labeling rules had to be matured in new oak casks to be allowed carry the description of “Single Malt” in the USA. The nose has floral honey, peat and malt. Not massively complex (suggesting youth) but good. The taste is robust, malt and cereals, spicy and even slightly medicinal. Not an everyday dram for sure… but a “right time / right place” sort of dram.   The finish was not long and quite dry and tannic. I have mistaken new oak and freshly charred wood for sherry cask influence before and I think I did on this one when tasting blind. I enjoyed it and will look for a bottle when it gets to Texas. Now onto whisky 1000.