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Showing posts with label malt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label malt. Show all posts

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The InFamous Grouse - Famous Grouse 40 Year Old Blended Malt Scotch Whisky



Those of you who are regular readers of this blog will know that I'm not the biggest fan of flying.

Despite a large proportion of our time spent in Scotland on business, I would always rather take the four hour train ride to Edinburgh, than the 60 min flight. In my eyes rail is the greatest way to travel, but it does have its drawbacks.

Lengthier than flying (I wouldn't want to train it to Aberdeen or Inverness, unless on the sleeper) it can be hot, cramped and smelly. But at least, unlike flying, you get it sit in one place for an extended period of time; valuable writing time for me.


So well loved and so well priced, it is interesting to find this Famous bird releasing a very old, ultra-premium blended Scotch whisky. A far hoot (is that the noise a grouse makes?) from on tap ‘pints over ice’, they’ve gone and added a First Class carriage, in the form of a 40 year old blend, to their express train.Otherwise we could be left with a ‘what if’ situation on our hands, a generation later, as we were with the railways.
Somehow, and I'm never sure of the exact economics of this, flying can actually work out cheaper than taking the train and when we're organising our own trips up, which happens a lot, this is a vital consideration. It is also more exciting and more contemporary; the modern way to travel.


However, if one has a long lead time on a visit, the greatest travel of all can be achieved by booking early: first class rail travel.

Just that little step up from the norm, travelling first class to Scotland from London (or vice versa) gives you what basically amounts to a serviced office for 4/5 hours: internet, unlimited tea and coffee, beers or wine and two good meals. For £65 (very much in advance), it isn’t half bad.

The Famous Grouse is the most popular Scotch whisky in Scotland. Ubiquitous in both the local bar and supermarket, it tends to be consumed as a mixer (mostly) spawning off-shoots such as Ginger Grouse (mixed with ginger ale and available on tap in some outlets) which have seen the brand capitalise on its brand awareness, to take on the long drink market as well winning the race in the short drink field. 


276 decanters of the stuff have been produced at 47.3% and fall under the banner of a ‘blended malt’, so no grain whisky in the mix. It carries an RRP of £2,000 a bottle.

The Famous Grouse – 40 Years Old – Blended Malt Scotch Whisky – 70cl – 47.3% abv – RRP £2,000

Nose: The first thing to say about this whisky is that the aromas are incredibly vibrant for a liquid carrying this age statement. And we don't mean 'young’ by this, just jam-packed with flavours which dance around in a really great way. Everything you'd want from an old blend here: black cherry, antique furniture, rose-hip, slight cassia bark and some liquorice (blue liquorice allsorts). Aniseed, too. A hint of very old, lightly peated whisky.

Palate: it's up there in terms of strength for a 40 year old, so you get some excellent, moist Christmas cake at the start, then the delicate aniseed balls followed by the dark cherry and hints of Dr. Pepper and some very well aged peat.

Finish: Real liquorice comes to the fore and some oak spices appear as the flavour starts to dissipate.

Overall: Famous Grouse is a whisky which doesn't usually play this game- the biggest selling Scotch in Scotland, it tends to be a high volume, supermarket blend. However, this whisky is (and we're going to say it) exceptional. Like the Tam O'Shanter from the same stable, the very old blends leaving the Edrington blending room at the moment seem to be unstoppable.

A quite remarkable dram, but the big question is: will anyone travel first class, when they can fly? Let’s hope the typical Famous Grouse drinker isn’t Dr Richard Beeching and embraces this for the quality drink that it is. 

Monday, 20 August 2012

The Second Coming...


As the collective gold, silver and bronze accolades have been duly divided up across the globe, it is once again time to turn our attention to what makes this site tick -  the sweet taste of liquid gold, which kicks our sorry summer laziness into touch and reminds us about what is probably the greatest business to be involved with- the business of F.U.N.... (and whisky)

Last year, Caskstrength decided to do something a little unusual for a whisky website -  we decided that whilst writing about superbly well-crafted drams was of course a brilliant way to earn a living, it is ever so slightly scary, yet exciting to actually put our money where our mouse is, pop to a distillery, open the doors of a warehouse and to liberate a particular cask that we felt was exceptional.

Our inaugural release started as we mean to go on -  A for Arran yielded a spritely 94 bottles and the follow up release is now upon us.   After spending a little time scratching our collective head about the type of whisky we wanted to release next, we chanced upon a cask from the BenRiach distillery, which exceeded our expectations in every way.

Cask 5614 was distilled in 1996 and initially filled into a bourbon hogshead.  However in 2008, the decision was made to re-rack the whisky into a rather succulent, spicy Pedro Ximinez sherry cask for the four remaining years of its maturation.

The resulting whisky is something we're very proud to put our name to.  It retains a fresh fruity note, which a super spicy backdrop of classic PX richness.    Both Joel and myself knew we'd found what we were looking for after the first dram and in no time at all it was bottled, the cask yielding 296 bottles in total, with an abv of 55.2%.

As with the Arran, our great friends at Master Of Malt are the exclusive retailers for this single cask offering - Caskstrength And Carry On BenRiach.   It is priced at £54.95 and another exciting piece of news is that the first 50 bottles come complete with a rather fetching premium cotton shopping bag, bearing the Caskstrength and Carry On logo in gloriously 70's flock print! What more could you want from a whisky release!!

Joel and I initially struggled to come up with a combined tasting note. So we turned our phones off, poured two large glasses and got stuck in with a blank page and two pens.  Minutes turned to hours, ties were removed, voiced were raised and a scene resembling Peter Griffin and the giant chicken was narrowly avoided by the stroke of midnight, when we finally pooled together our collective thoughts.




We're not in the business of the hard sell, so we'll leave it up to you to decide whether you like the sound of it, but needless to say, if you like your whisky fresh, vibrant and with a bold backbone of spiciness, we think you'll like this one.


Caskstrength & Carry On  - BenRiach  - Single cask bottling - Cask no: 5614 - Distilled 1996 -  Filled July 2012 - 55.2%

Nose: An initial freshness of sliced apples, ripe pears and bananas, dusted in cinnamon, dark chocolate and a touch of clove.  given a dash of water, some bold, sweet citrus notes (caramelised blood orange) come to the fore, with more dark chocolate and warming spice. 

Palate:  The spiciness is carried over onto the palate, with a robust cinnamon mocha/dark chocolate fondant note, some fresh mint, dark tobacco leaf, a touch of ripe plum, all dusted with a little white pepper.  Water broadens the sweetness, bringing more of the ripe orchard fruit and woody spice. 

Finish:  You've probably guessed it, but those spices are determined to linger around and the dark chocolate notes, caramel and cinnamon all coat the palate, giving the finish a very warming conclusion. 

If this sounds like your kind of dram, you can dive onto the following link from midnight tonight (that's the 20th August to avoid any doubt) and grab a bottle from Master Of Malt. If you do, we hope you like it as much as we do.  

Slainte!

Neil & Joel