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Wednesday, 10 March 2010

St George vs The Dragon

So much whisky and so little time… a very interesting statement. With the growing number of new distilleries popping up all over the world, there are lakes of whisky out there, waiting to be bottled. A growing trend to bottle just after the minimum 3 years maturation has seen our palates being introduced to a much fresher and lighter style of malt.
There are obviously huge financial considerations when starting a distillery. Very few businesses will willingly shell out a small fortune on a product, which no one can try or buy for a considerable amount of time. Indeed, to keep ones powder dry until the whisky has really had a good few years under its belt would no doubt be very difficult for the accountants to stomach.

So we have a plethora of youthful, light, vibrant and distinctive whiskies.
Nothing wrong with that, from our perspective. As long as the whisky stands up to scrutiny, then younger styles are wholeheartedly worth exploring

Kilchoman are widely regarded as being pioneers in this field with their excellent inaugural release and follow-up bottlings. The Owl distillery in Belgium have been making great strides in their very brief life- same goes with Slyrs in Germany. We now have bottlings from even further a field, including brand new distillate from Chichibu in Japan.

Which leads us onto 2 new distilleries, which couldn’t be further away from each other geographically. But do they share the same youthful characteristics?

Kavalan Solist– Taiwanese single malt - ex-Bourbon- 58.8%

Nose: Light, zesty and very fresh, with a touch of butteriness. Dig deeper and a hint of fresh ginger comes to the fore and some juicy sultanas and freshly sawed pine. Lovely floral lavender aromas come through against the backdrop of the spirit. With water, the fruit turns tropical. Really impressive.

Palate: Initially hot, with some salted liquorice, but then the buttery mouthfeel develops- some spiced apple, fizzy Refresher sweets sour cherries and something a little soapy. It is certainly very youthful but the fruit really comes to the fore. Water brings out a little more sweetness.

Finish: Soapy in the final death, but with lingering fruity notes.

Overall: A definite statement of great young whisky making, if a little youthful in places. We’re looking forward to trying more from this excellent far eastern distillery.

St George’s - English whisky - Chapter 6 - 3yo – 46%

Nose: Peanuts, turned earth, some peppery-spiced notes, orange cream chocolates, a little fruity sideline resembling grain whisky and… cheese biscuits. Really odd mix indeed. Nice but odd.

Palate: Cream soda, with a lovely light apple & some further cereal notes. The Refreshers of the Kavalan return, mixing with some light and very milky coffee.

Finish: Light and short, some green beans coming through as the palate dries out.

Overall: Again, a very drinkable whisky, but with perhaps a few more holes than the Kavalan.

When comparing these 2 new distilleries, I can’t help but think of The German distillery –Slyrs, which is further ahead with its production of young whisky. Their recent 3-yo we reviewed here tips the scales in overall quality. I am really intrigued to see where the next release of St George’s (Chapter 7, finished in rum casks) heads and of course what will happen when this brand new distillery has a chance to really turn out some fully mature whisky.