Tuesday, 9 February 2010

#368 - Exotics from Wales & Brittany

It's the same old story; I've been suffering from a long string of 'bad nose days' during which my nose was clogged up. Meanwhile, a handful of fresh 'deviant drams' have been eagerly awaiting my opinion. 

Tonight I couldn't contain my curiosity any longer, so I went ahead and opened the Penderyn NAS Peated Whisky (46%, OB, Bottled 2009, 5cl) that was produced in Wales. The nose showed its tender age, along with fairly gentle peat and smoke, along with sourish, farmy notes and a subtle sweetness that keeps lingering about. 

I also found some clay in the background; the whisky grows chalkier over time. Quite 'spirity' - in the sense that it reminds me of freshly distilled spirit. More vanilla after a few minutes, followed by some metallic notes. On the surprisingly smooth palate I found a sweet touch of caramel; the smoke emerges in the dry finish. The whisky feels very 'green' with notes of sappy wood and grass. Perhaps a touch of pine? Grows even drier after a while; clean smoke. It's not the sort of profile I usually enjoy, so my score of 64 point may not sound like a enthusiastic recommendation. However, given the tender age of this Welsh whisky that score is not too bad at all! Besides, it's VERY different from most 'modern' Scottish single malts. The certified malt maniacs have been discussing the 'Parkerisation' of malt whisky recently; some maniacs feel that the variety in the Scotch whisky world has diminished in recent years. This whisky is an interesting detour from the 'bourbony' profile of many modern Scotch whiskies. Especially sniffing the empty glass reveals many different elements.

I had the chance to compare the peated whisky from Wales with a peated whisky from Brittany, France; the Glan Ar Mor NAS 'Kornog' (57.1%, OB, Peated whisky, Britanny France). I already tried this one for the Malt Maniacs Awards 2009 and gave it 84 points at the time. I could write almost the same tasting notes... Nose: Mellow start with sweet orange and lemon notes after a few seconds. Honey. A little rough, but very expressive. Some more subtle fruity notes in the background. Cucumber? Taste: Surprising blast of peat - the nose didn't prepare me for that. Wait, it's not so much 'organic' peat; rather smoke and anthracite. Grain whisky smoothness. Harsh but pleasant finish with some meaty notes emerging. Surprisingly sweet. I'll stick with my score of 84 points - this particular cask plays in the same league as many Islay malts; a good job by Jean Donnay!

Last but not least, the 'regular' Glann Ar Mor NAS (46%, OB, Britanny France). The nose seemed dry, clean and quite 'veggy'. Sorrel? Some sour apples too. A little chalky. After circa 10 minutes it grew more metallic. A whiff of ant acid? Quite some evolution over time; it became very light after half an hour. It starts very sweet on the palate with more and more different fruity notes emerging. It has quite a lot of body at 46%. Grape skins in the finish. A little 'acetonic'; it reminds me a bit of 'bauerngeist' (an Austrian fruit spirit) - in a good way! Hey, and it has some traits of calvados as well. Quite a lot of difference between the nose and the palate. Feisty; perhaps a little less integrated than the average Scotch single malt, but that makes it interesting. Let's go with 71 points for this one... Like the Penderyn, it's quite different from the average Scotch single malt. In fact, I'd say that these two 'European' whiskies resemble each other more closely than Scotch single malts. I don't ENJOY them as much as some other whiskies because the profiles simply are not really 'up my alley', but some people will love these profiles and at the very least they add to the overall variety in the whisky world - which is a good thing...

I'll leave you with news that I'm still working my way (alphabetically) through a large update of the Distillery Data section on Malt Madness; I've just updated and expanded the Bruichladdich and Caol Ila distillery profiles. And if you're interested in the idea of 'Parkerisation' of single malt whisky (the phenomenon that many producers try to achieve a certain taste profile to appeal to one or a few 'authorities' in a certain drinks market) I have some good news: Serge is working on an E-pistle right now...

Sweet drams,