Kornog whisky is French distillery Glann ar Mor’s peated offering. Glann ar Mor produces whisky much the same way the Scots do with copper pot stills and malted barley, water and yeast. They matured their whisky in either Ex-Bourbon barrels of Ex-Sauternes barriques (both first fill).
Sadly you can not find this whisky in America just yet.
I wish I had more time to discuss this distillery but I am currently short on time today so I need to go right to the tasting notes (please forgive my out-of-time-ness and laziness!!):
On the nose – Quite and odd and interesting start to this whisky. The peat components start off reminding me of Connemara-style peat (somewhat “artificial” in character with hints of soy sauce).
Coming back to this and the peat softens and becomes more wood-like: tree bark deep in the woods on a spring day with just a dash of cinnamon.
French onion soup – am I’m not saying this because this is a French whisky – the beef broth and onion notes are somewhat pronounced. Over cooked date compote.
6 months ago when I bought the bottle I didn’t dig this. Right now, I am enjoying it *greatly*. Let’s see how the flavors go.
On the mouth – Much sweeter than the nose led on. Barley syrup, malted barley and some buckwheat honey.
Somewhat thin mouthfeel but the flavors are there.
Carob beans and fresh spring earth. This is peaty but not smoky at all.
Oh! Little Debbie Nutty Bars! All of these flavors hit you somewhat quickly then the drying quality kicks in.
Finish – Quite dry with cinnamon and medium length.
In sum – A curious whisky that is worth your time and consideration. I have about ¾ of a bottle left to try and will continue to evaluate it. The good thing is that it is enjoyable and urges to you drink a bit more deeply. I’m a sucker for Sauternes cask maturation, hence my purchase of this whisky. I will explore the brand further to see what their whisky is like in ex-bourbon and, cask strength. Keep your eye on this distillery. I think they are starting to tell a very interesting story…
I understand and fully appreciate that what I am about to taste here is history. Actually, I’m getting a preview of the history that you all out there are about to taste (should you go out and pick up a bottle) and I thank all those involved for sending me a sample to allow me this opportunity.
I could say a lot about this whisky – much of is has been reported by the major (and minor) news outlets.
Rather than throw in my $0.02 in a poor attepmt to expand on the historical aspect of the Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky, I’ll let this video do the talking (then review it, as shown below):
On the nose — Very grassy and flinty, a fist full of hay and a full jar of sea salt.
Untoasted & freezer burnt English muffins.
Then the fruits, nuts and saltier treats lay on good and thick – -pineapple, assorted nuts and unripened peach drizzled with melted toffee.
Threads of smoke from ocean grass and and driftwood.
Sea glass and a long walk on the beach (high tide).
An empty box that once held Nilla wafers (wow, that sounds pretentious but, I’m smelling it; the pretentious bastard I am…).
The mix of scents and over all balance is so nice, part of me is refusing to taste this stuff. But, I must move on.
On the mouth — Smoky, bright and crisp.
Lots of flavors here, all of them have burnt edges.
A touch of meatiness here (not in an offensive way, it’s subtle).
Lemon rinds, pears, bruised apples and a high malt influence.
Smokey, malty goodness. Really, a good deal of malt.
Salty but not nearly as much as what I detected on the nose.
Nice mouthfeel over all, a good mix of light viscosity and zingy, fizzy effervescence. I’m sure you know this but, when I say fizzy, effervescent, etc… I’m not suggesting that this (or any other whisky I describe as such) whisky is carbonated. No, I’m describing the feel/sensation one gets from a fizzy drink. Cool? Cool.
Finish — Fizzy pop rocks minus the “POP!”, long, salty
In sum — My initial thought was that this resembles a nice Springbank mixed with some bourbon cask Port Ellen (due to the coastal, flinty, mineral, smokiness). If this replica is exact, Mackinlay knew what he was doing and Shackleton was drinking some fine fancy juice! Well balanced, composed and thoroughly delicious. I’d save this as a treat for yourself or perhaps to impress your friends with. There’s a fantastic story to accompany this one. Lots of great conversation can started with this whisky.
Special thanks goes out to Jill of Whyte & Mackay & Andy H for working your magic to get the sample to me!
Taiwan – 58.8%ABV – 200ml (special thanks to Ian Chang for the generous sample!)
The Kavalan range of whiskies, by the King Car Whisky Distillery out of Taiwan, are being churned out in short order but are not being done so in a way that would compromise quality. I’ve been pretty impressed with most of their whiskies that I’ve tried so far.
I asked Ian Chang of King Car what the make up of the “Vinho” Solist was and I was surprised and impressed by the depth of Ian’s response:
“Indeed, the Vinho is part of our Solist series, which is a cask strength, single cask single malt whisky of course. The most special thing about it is that Vinho is fully matured in used American oak wine barrels that have been toasted and recharred in a way that brings out fruity vanilla notes from the whisky and wood overlaid on a delicate background of complex fruitiness.
The oak casks are made from American oak that has been seasoned in the open air for at least 24 months. The oak is slow grown that results in a greater release of flavours into the whisky. This reduces the astringent effect of tannins and releases more vanilla spiciness and hints of herbs such as dill and lemon grass. The result is softness and added complexity.
The casks have (deliberately) been used to mature both red and white wines which eventually will contribute the background complex fruitiness to Kavalan / Solist Vinhos.
After their use for wine maturation the casks are carefully shaved inside then gently toasted over an oak chip fire for a strictly controlled period of time and temperature. This converts wine residues into a complex mixture of fruit flavours including lime, berry fruits and peaches. Then the casks are charred for a short period of time to release lashings of flavours such as vanilla, ice cream and caramelised sugars.
The result is a more complex whisky than is possible than with whisky casks alone!”
The process sounds very interesting. Let’s see what it does to the taste…
On the nose— Incredibly bourbony; that is to say, strong and sweet notes of vanilla and spice – this does not “taste” like bourbon.
The color, which is like a deep brown mixed with blood red, suggests heavily charred casks and some of the wine influence Ian mentioned.
Musty and heavy with cinnamon and burnt sugar.
Notes of papaya and paper bags.
Blackberries and fresh starfruit.
…an interesting interplay of scents.
Watered down tomato based alphabet soup.
On the mouth — Drying and a bit meaty.
For 58.8% ABV, it’s not as hot as I had expected.
Notes of a nice Malbec wine, soft and slightly tannic.
Dark berries and red-wine-soaked raisins.
Left-over fried grizzle and super-sour green apples.
Slightly nutty and again, drying; like the way walnuts can dry your mouth.
Finish — Long finish that’s increasingly peppered and a bit caramely….
In sum — This is perhaps my favorite Kavalan yet. Very complex and nicely balanced. Sometimes wine finishes can be too complex and lacking balance… not the case with this one.
Tasting Arran after Arran after Arran after Arran after Arran after Arran, etc… has been lots of fun but I’m no where near done! For a company that’s only 15yrs old, they’ve had a lot of different bottlings.
While I don’t speak German, just looking at the pictures on this Arran collector’s website, shows me just how many whiskies this distillery has put out! Check it out here.
Today I’m going delve quickly into something Arran does quite a bit of – special cask finishes.
Currently, Arran has 5 different special cask finishes in their range: This one which is from a Sauternes cask, a Port cask, an Amarone cask, a Moscatel cask and then their 15th year anniversary whisky, an Amontillado Sherry cask finish.
Sauternes is a dessert wine and the first dessert wine I ever had was Sauternes. When it comes to whiskies, I enjoy various wine finished casks. It’s always a treat to try new ones out. Let’s see what this one offers us:
On the nose — Quite unlike some of the other Sauternes finishes whiskies I’ve had.
Very grassy and notes of soured milk.
Lemon zest and walnuts.
Dandelion jelly & Crab apple jelly.
Apricot in the distance.
The taste of unripened pears which is offset but something meaty in here.
Man, this is an odd one!
On the mouth — Like a mirror of all I discovered on the nose.
Additional notes of apple pie crust.
Quite the viscous fluid!
Red bitter berries.
Baked apples wwwaaaayyyy in the distance.
Abundant salt… Better yet, salty tomato juice.
Finish — Moves on to more nuts – salted cashews. Very long.
In sum — Complex and balanced but not up my alley. Warming and with just the right mouthfeel but the meatiness of this one was just too much (for me). Some will LOVE this one. I respect it (really, a well constructed whisky), I don’t love it.
Special thanks goes out to Andy Hogan for the sample!