Ardbeg Night, Sydney

The back-story to this year’s Ardbeg Day whisky – the Dark Cove – is one of smuggling, mystery and illicit activities. So it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Ardbeg Day event in Sydney was well and truly shrouded in a big cloak of mystery.

Ardbeg Dark Cove

In the lead up to the event I received a ‘save-the-date’ email simply with a date in it. No further details. Nada, zip. A week later, a credit card-sized golden token arrived featuring a number and an RSVP email address on the reverse side. There aren’t too many things in this world I would blindly RSVP to. But a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets James Bond gold card Ardbeg Night invitation? Yeah, that’s certainly one of them!

Boat

At this stage I knew I’d be catching a boat and that I had to be at the wharf for a 4.45pm departure. Beyond that, I had no idea what would be in store.

Zissou

Arriving at the wharf, Steve Zissou and I boarded our Wes Anderson-esque pleasure craft bound for the rocky shores of.. somewhere? We braved the chill on the upper deck, keeping an eye out for our destination. A-ha, thar she is! Good ole Goat Island!

Goat Island

Our Ardbeggian warehouse was decked out with back-to-back bars serving a trio of different cocktails prepared by the crack bartenders from The Whisky Room and Stitch Bar.

Cocktail1

All three offerings showcased the Ardbeg 10 year old, but the coconut fat-washed Ardbeg, Amaro Montenegro, pineapple concoction was a highlight for me.

Oysters

An oyster bar, roving waiters with canapés and a few different game stations were positioned around the space. As with previous years, the latter offered punters the chance to win themselves some pretty awesome loot like this Ardbeg Night t-shirt!

Ardbeg T Shirt

Well into the evening a smugglers soundtrack rang out and the caged Ardbeg stash was busted open, revealing the new Ardbeg Dark Cove. Cellarmaster of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Andrew Derbidge, talked us through the dram and with a hearty cheers we got to sample the new general release of the Ardbeg Dark Cove.

DarkCove

I previewed the Committee Release here and now having sampled the general release I’m genuinely surprised at the difference 8.5% in ABV can make. The Committee Release hits you with that smoky cask strength oomph, whereas the standard release has a finessed balance to it that makes it almost too drinkable. Both delicious in my opinion and one of my favourite modern Ardbeg Day releases.

Ardbeg pouring

Returning to shore we shook off those sea legs and made a bee-line for Stitch Bar, one of Sydney’s official Ardbeg Embassies, where the after party was in full force.

Stitch

Another Rehaboam (4.5 litres) of Dark Cove was behind the bar at Stitch, along with more great cocktails and fun times.

Stitch 2

Another truly epic Ardbeg Day (Night) celebration in Sydney. The crew at Moet Hennessey and EVH PR somehow manage to out-do themselves every year (see here and here). I dare say this was the best one yet! A sincere thanks goes to you both for smuggling me in.

World Whisky Day

This Saturday, May 21st is World Whisky Day. I tried to write my own description of what World Whisky Day means to me, but the people behind the official site have said it so eloquently that I’ll let them do the explaining.

Green Label

“World Whisky Day is all about making whisky fun and enjoyable. It’s not about being exclusive or prescriptive. You can drink it however you enjoy it (ice, water, mixer – whatever works for you). We want to be all inclusive and that means any kind of whisky/whiskey from anywhere in the world.”

Talisker

Ain’t that the truth! So this Saturday, do yourself, your friends and your family a favour, pour a dram of the water of life and share in the fun of whisky!

The good people at Diageo are big supporters of World Whisky Day and kindly sorted me out with a few goodies to help me and my closest celebrate in style! So if you – like me – are on social media and find yourself enjoying a dram on Saturday the 21st, tag your photos with #WorldWhiskyDay and #LoveScotch and share in the fun.

Slainte!

Teeling 15 year old Revival

Just over a year ago now I had my first encounter with Teeling Whiskey in the form of the Small Batch and Single Grain expressions. I was genuinely surprised by both of them; I was amazed that entry-level, highly affordable expressions could taste that great. A combination that I think I’m still yet to come across with Scotch whisky. This time though I’m taking a look at something from Teeling that’s a little higher up in their range, the new 15 year old Teeling Revival.

Teeling 15 year old Revival

Having recently opened their new distillery and once again brought the art of distilling back to Dublin, the Teeling Whiskey Company decided to mark the occasion by releasing something a little bit special. To quote Jack Teeling, founder of the Teeling Whiskey Company “The opening of our new distillery was a major milestone in the history of Teeling Whiskey. It took three years of planning, hard work and significant capital investment, but now Teeling Whiskey is finally home”.

Enter the Teeling 15 year old Revival. Distilled in 1999, The 15 year old Teeling Revival has been exclusively matured in ex-Rum casks and bottled at 46% ABV, with no chill filtering.

Teeling

Tasting notes

On the nose I immediately got notes of fresh cut grass and cereal grains, layered with a slightly drying, astringent note – plastic or acetone perhaps? Thankfully those notes settle and dissipate after a short while in the glass revealing a pleasant honeyed sweetness with plenty of under-ripe fruit salad notes (rockmelon, honeydew, green banana, peach lollies and tropical fruit juice). More air reveals a nicely integrated earthy note, something I’d liken to damp moss. It’s quite a complex nose, one that benefits greatly from air in my opinion.

The palate has a really nice delivery of fruity sweetness and spice, wrapped up in a medium oily mouth feel. I feel like the word ‘juicy’ is a good descriptor here. The honeyed sweetness presents upfront along with grapefruit, mango, pawpaw, fading to reveal a tempered spice on the edges of your tongue. Its nicely balanced and integrated though helping to add character, rather than detract from it. The finish is reasonably lengthy, keeping the tropical and sour fruit notes for a good amount of time, before turning slightly vanillic and tannic toward the end. Over-steeped jasmine tea comes to mind.

Teeling Whiskey Revival

The presentation of this is whiskey is pretty special. The packaging features an incredibly solid decanter-style bottle, phat brass-colour stopper and heavy card presentation box bearing plenty of gold embossing and even a wax seal on the inner lid. Whilst none of that has any bearing on the taste, I can’t recall any other Irish Whiskeys on the market at the moment –  especially in this price bracket – that are presented anywhere near as smart as this.

The Teeling 15 year old Revival is available in Australia now at a recommended retail price of AU $159.99. Thanks goes to Martin and the good folks at Teeling for the sample reviewed here.

Glenmorangie Milsean

A review of Glenmorangie’s latest Private Edition

It’s that time of year again when Dr Bill Lumsden raises the curtain on Glenmorangie’s latest Private Edition expression. In it’s seventh year now, the Private Edition collection is Dr Bill’s chance to play with parts of the whisky production process and showcase the versatility of Glenmorangie’s spirit.

Milsean1

Last year he brought us the Tusail, Dr Bill’s vision of an old-school Glenmorangie made with Maris Otter barley that rose to popularity in the brewing industry in late 60s/early 70s. Prior to that we’ve seen Glenmorangie made with lightly peated barley (Finealta), Glenmorangie matured in a host of different ex-wine casks (Artein, Companta) and even a 19 year old expression (Ealanta). And in terms of coming up with yet another crazy concoction, this year’s release is no different!

Milsean explained

The Milsean (‘meel-shawn’ – Gaelic for ‘sweet things’) starts life as regular Glenmorangie spirit matured in ex-bourbon casks for 10 years, before being further matured in ex-wine casks for an extra two and a half years. So whilst it doesn’t carry an age statement on the label, you can do the math on this one!

Milsean4

The ex-wine casks in question are former red wine casks from Portugal that have been re-toasted specifically for this whisky. If you’re not familiar with the process of toasting, it involves heating the wood (in this case, with a direct flame) to scorch or lightly char the inside of the barrel. This process re-invigorates the cask and caramelizes both the natural sugars in the wood and those in the wine residue left behind. The result? Some super sweet toasty goodness, ready to impart bucket-loads of flavor into the Glenmorangie stored within.

Milsean: Tasted

The name Milsean translates to ‘sweet-things’ and the candy-striped packaging conjures up images of an old-school sweets shop, so I’m expecting this to be, well, pretty darn sweet. So is it?

Milsean2

Very first impression on the nose? This thing is sweet. Confectionary sweet. Dig a little deeper though and its oh so rewarding. It instantly reminded me of a freshly opened bag of marshmallows, toffee nut brittle, gummy bears, sweet macerated berries and a hint of hot chocolate powder. There’s loads of creamy vanilla that reminds me of custard powder – the kind mum used to use when we were kids.

On the palate it’s got that classic Glenmorangie backbone you find in the ten year old, but it’s layered with an oily sweetness you definitely do not find in the ten year old. Oily chewy wine gum notes, honey, candied orange peel (including that bitter pith) and super ripe sugary plums. It’s followed by a fair whack of drying spicy oak on the finish, but I feel as though it’s accentuated by the preceding sweetness, which seems to linger into the finish as well.

Milsean5

Australia has received an allocation of 200 cases of Glenmorangie Milsean and it’s available right now in both specialty retailers and through Moet-Hennesy Collection at a retail price of $150. If you – like I – have a bit of a sweet-tooth when it comes to whisky, I have a feeling this will be right up your alley.

Thanks goes to both Moet-Hennessy Australia and the great people at EVH PR for providing the bottle reviewed here.