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Friday, 24 August 2012

Behind The Green Door


What a week... Only a few days ago, we released our second whisky and we're pleased to say that it is selling like the proverbial hot cakes... Only a few are available now, so if you fancy one, get skippin' along to Master Of Malt and grab one whilst they're still warm!

Also, I decided that Caskstrength Towers needed a bit of a facelift, given that several of the neighbouring residences all had their fastidious owners out painting, re-landscaping and making their home-from-homes more attractive.

Where to start?  Well, one of the windows at the back looked a bit jaded, so I stripped it all back and began to repaint it in a rather lovely green smoke shade. Then I noticed the front windowsills looked a little tired, so I bought new masonry paint ('sandstone'), which adheres to the regulations governing the house (CS Towers is actually a listed building!!)

Then I realised it looked ridiculous.  The shade of sandstone made by Farrow & Ball is clearly different to the one the place is already painted in.


So, with a grimace,  I began to paint the WHOLE DAMN HOUSE.

Housework on this scale is a little like becoming obsessed with high-end HiFi.  Once you start meddling, you start to change everything. Then once you've changed everything, you start all over again with the thing you first changed. Why did I have to start meddling...

So after two days, the facade of the house, the windows, the front garden and even the original victorian boot scraper have been tarted up.  Everything -  except the front door.

The existing door (in 'winter emerald green'- although it looks black in the picture above) looks nice enough -  but now it doesn't match the cocking windows.   Now i'm not sure if any of you have successfully painted a front door, but it seems bloody hard. Last time I did this, the pristine smooth finish bubbled and looked like the surface of the moon.  Epic fail.  So tomorrow, I will set out again to get it right, using overpriced Farrow & Ball oil paint, that will no doubt get everywhere, except smoothly across the panels on the door.

But beforehand, rather than thinking nightmarish thoughts about emerald paint, i'm going to enjoy some drams from the emerald isle... (see what I've done there...)

Recently, Joel and I were asked to chair the panel for the Irish Whiskey Masters, an industry awards run by Spirits Business magazine, which once again highlighted what we're all thinking: that Irish whiskey has never had it so good.

Sales across the board are hitting exceptional heights and with the news that both William Grant and Pernod Ricard are investing heavily in the category, the future looks glowing for the Emerald Isle.

So what of the current lot?  Well, you can take a look at the full list of award winners here in the Spirits Business.  In addition to these, last week we were sent a bevy of bottlings from a more obscure Irish whiskey brand.


The Wild Geese is not a name we're used to seeing in the pantheon of great Irish whiskeys.  In fact, taking away the historical puff that fills their website, there is very little to suggest who is actually behind the brand, where it is made and what the strategy is with the brand - (we've since discovered that it is produced by Cooley)  But the recent string of awards they've received gives a clear indication of what to expect.  The collection encompasses a standard blend, a single malt, a limited edition (which I think is a blend but the information available is unclear) and 'rare' (whatever that means)...and pretty decent they are too...

The Wild Geese -  'Untamed' - Classic Blend - Irish Whiskey - 40% 

Nose: Classic Irish whiskey fresh fruit and vanilla immediately burst through, alongside a little spiritiness, some pencil shavings and a light acacia honey.  Very delicate and top heavy. 

Palate: Very sweet and spirity with pear drops, sugar syrup, a little liquorice and a touch of citrus and green tea, sweetened with honey.  

Finish: Short, with a touch of green apple and a subtle maltiness as the palate dries.

Overall:  Lightweight and without a huge amount of character, this blend is inoffensive and certainly will appeal to those drinkers who have yet to really explore the Irish whiskey category. However for those who are already tuned in to the spirit, this blend (as pleasant as it is) is probably a little too light weight in the complexity dept to get your palate dancing a jig. 

Next up Wild Geese single malt:

The Wild Geese - Single Malt - NAS - 43%

Nose: Oily and rich, with liquorice, a touch of clove, unripe banana, fizzy lemon sherbet sweets and fresh nectarine notes.   

Palate: Not what I expected at all.  Slightly biscuity, with a touch of turned earth, a little leatheriness, icing sugar and a touch of medicinal lozenges. 

Finish: Some of the fruity notes (banana and nectarine) begin to make a return to the palate as it dries, with a lingering note of something fresh and green - unripe green apple. 

Overall:  With a nice oily backdrop in the fragrance dept, this will surprise with its more buttery, malty palate.  A very solid Irish single malt -  perhaps lacking the outer edges to make it a real stand out but decent nonetheless. 

The Wild Geese - Limited Edition Forth Centennial - 43% 

Nose: Immediate notes of tropical fruit, golden syrup, vanilla, demerera sugar and fresh cream. very nice indeed. Dig deeper and meringue notes begin to develop, drizzled in fresh raspberries and marzipan.  

Palate: The marzipan continues onto the palate, with a touch of lemon zest, a little nuttiness, some milk chocolate and more red berry fruit.   Given a dash of water, some warming spice (liquorice and clove) develop, alongside a creaminess.  

Finish: All too fleeting unfortunately, with remnants of the cream and fruit dashing from the palate swiftly, leaving a lingering note of vanilla.

Overall:  A very approachable whiskey, with a fine balance of fruitiness and sweetness. 

Finally -  Wild Geese Rare.  As we've mentioned on here before, a bugbear of ours is when companies use unquantifiable terms like 'small batch' and 'rare'.  If this is rare -  tell us why it's rare!! grrr. 

The Wild Geese - Rare - 43%

Nose: Stewed apple, some cinnamon spice, candle wax, a little fresh gooseberry and a more floral note than the others - powder puffs and lavender draw liners perhaps? Quite why I know such aromas is another matter, not for discussion on here... ;-) 

Palate: Creamy, with a toffee note, followed up by vanilla notes, some light citrus zest (lemons) and a little crumbled digestive biscuit.  A dash of water reveals a more spicy side with some liquorice notes developing nicely. 

Finish:  A little thin, but with lingering notes of chocolate malt, lemon zest and green apple.

Overall: Well, I'm still not sure quite why this is deemed to be 'rare' but it is certainly an enjoyable and easy drinking Irish whiskey.  It probably hasn't got the dancing legs of the Forth Centennial release, but is well worth seeking out in its own right.