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Saturday, 27 March 2010

Delete As Appropriate

Spotify. It’s a wonderful thing. There are often times when I find myself stood in front of my tall CD towers, bemused about what to put on the stereo to match the dram I’ve just poured. My large collection of albums, the culmination of many years working in the music business, means there is usually something to fit the mood. But one is still limited by the number of plastic cases adorning the IKEA Benno CD rack.

Then Spotify entered my life. Pretty much anything you want to listen to, at the click of a mouse button. For free (well, so long as you can put up with awful adverts every-so-often). Now I really can listen to ANYTHING I want to. So much so, that at first you become a little overwhelmed with the choice.

At times the whisky cabinet can seem a little similar. Even if you only have 2 bottles open, it’s about making that choice: the peated or the unpeated? The Scotch or the Bourbon? The heavily sherried or the light American Oak matured? But one choice that my cabinet doesn’t offer me much is “the Scotch / Japanese / American / Swedish / English* or the Irish” (*delete as appropriate). That’s not because I don’t like Irish Whiskey. A few years ago, I had some amazing stuff at The Old Jameson Distillery in Dublin (I still rate their distillery only bottling as one of the most well rounded drams I have ever had. If anyone is off to Dublin soon, drop me a line and pick me up a bottle or two...!). We’re also big advocates of Green Spot here at But much like my CD collection and jazz, my personal whisky selection happens to be lacking in that particular genre. However, as soon as I had loaded Spotify onto my laptop, no sooner was I exploring the wonderful world of Chet Baker, falling head over heels in love with Ella and bidding on 12” records on eBay by John Coltrane...

But there is no Spotify for whisky...! In the past, to hear records you weren’t familiar with, you’d have to sit around at a mates house and listen to their personal collection, working out which albums you loved and then saving up to go and buy them. This, however still holds true for whisky and I was lucky enough to be introduced to 4 different Irish whiskies by a friend recently. Now, which shall I save up to buy??

Greenore Single Grain (Maize) Small Batch 8 Year Old - Pot stills - 40% - 70cl

Nose- banana toffee; youthful and spirity but rounded well by the cask ageing.

Palate- Plenty of flavour for an 8 year old grain, with a crunchy-nut cornflake element to it. The sweetness is quickly overtaken by the bitterness and elements of fresh pine.

Finish- Spearmint is the predominant flavour at the back palate. Fresh. Short.

Overall- My mind is already racing with ideas for great long drinks with this grain whisky, especially summer ones. On its own, it comes in just a bit too harshly.

Connemara - Peated - 40% NAS (20ppm, apparently)

N- This has a really fantastic nose. Moist, soft peat and damp wool, which develops into some lovely fruity notes, akin to fruit salad chews.

P- In comparison to the wonderful nose, the palate is a let down. It's just very soft; too weak. The nose writes cheques the palate can't cash.

F- A slightly bitter finish don't help.

O- It's a shame; this whiskey has such an amazing nose, but let's itself down on the palate and the finish.

Connemara - Ltd Ed Peated Sherry Finish - 46% - NAS

N- The peat and sherry work well together in the nose, giving almost coffee notes as they rise up from the glass.

P- Humm... This just comes across as slightly bitter. Where are the fruits (apricots, dates, figs) and the spices which usually adorn a well sherried whisk(e)y?

F- The finish left an odd fizziness, like a corked white wine. This really wasn't for me.

O- I often talk about the cask in which the whisk(e)y is matured as being similar to the school you went to. It has a big effect. This whiskey has had too long in the cask; it's been left in a school where it's been bullied and the parents didn't have the foresight to remove their child and do some home-schooling for a bit.

Tyrconnells - 10yr port cask (6 month finish) - 46% - 70cl

N- Again, a lovely nose! Lot of really old style aromas. And I don't mean old whiskey, I mean an old blended bottle from the 1950's. Treacle, toffee, red boiled sweets.

P- Ahhh... Here we go! Summer fruits balanced with just enough bitterness to add some body and weight to the palate.

F- Perfect length with excellent balance. This is a fantastic dram.

O- Cracking. If we gave out gold stars, this would get one.