Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy 2016!

It has been quite a year. The last month of the year got me much more surprises and news than I thought, but looking whisky-wise the current year also tells the sad story where smoky drams have higher prices which means less experiences on the tasting table. However, there has been excellent drams and drams that have surprised me on their second/third tasting time.

The highlights of the 2015
Best Smoky Dram of the 2015: Octomore 7.2.
Best Surprise Dram: Rugen Distillery 43

And of course our whisky themed wedding is on my highlights, as well as a tasting with friends having more than 20 drams in six hours.

It is also interesting to note, that I’ve written much less blog articles this year than earlier. 2015: 32, 2014: 61, 2013:77 (best so far)

Have a safe celebration and have a Excellent Year 2016!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Twice the fun at Teerenpeli: TallinkSilja Portwood and “the barrel”

Teerenpeli is one of the oldest whisky distilleries in Finland. They started their distillations 2002, so it will be a while until they will celebrate their 100th year.  However, they have passed their 10 years old mark already, which is starting to show more in the quality.
I managed to get myself into Turku Teerenpeli some time ago, and there were two very interesting choices to sample. I’ve noticed that in bars the overall experience with whiskies is always much more shallow than it is at home or another more suitable environment – but at least you get a nice idea what those whiskies are.
Teerenpeli1 1

Teerenpeli TallinkSilja Portwood

This the the Teerenpeli whisky that is being sold in TallinkSilja cruise boats sailing on the Baltic sea. While I’ve had great encounters with Portwoods, I was looking forward to taste this one. The nose was strong, sweet and it had some woodcask in it. Not bad, but nothing special.

The palate’s first impression was a burn. This dram burns much more than it should. After the first shockwave, it organized itself into more sweet line, showing signs of depth. The depth disappears towards the end sooner than I was expecting. Due to this one’s smoldering hot iron start, I added some water – which is an exception. It made the overall experience a lot better, cooling down the worst burn and energized the dram for a wider range of taste.

Teerenpeli cask 10 yo

Teerenpeli2 Teerenpeli bars have their own casks for this whisky. The interesting is that those 16 liter casks had earlier Pedro Ximenes sherry and in the cask the whisky is maturing/finishing every day. So if you taste it once, you can to get back there to check how it has changed in some months.. They are cask strength (58.5%) so I was getting ready for some intense meeting.
The nose is … whisky. Raw, spikey, bourbon. Some oak and a bits of sherry.
The palate however, is from a another world. It is strong – yes, wide, intense and seducing. Sherry gets mixed with Vanilla in a way I don’t recall earlier (a positive). This is already the best Teerenpeli whisky I’ve had so far! The whisky has a interesting rough structure, which marks the map with X and gives it +5 boost.
Learning from the previous dram, I added some water into this one too. It helps to bring out oak and vanilla, resulting a more complex result.
The nose after finish is a splendid one, sherry mixed vanilla reminded me a lot about Cuban result.

Friday, November 13, 2015

43 different shades of Switzerland, Rugen Distillery: Forty 43 Three whisky

This is something that does not walk onto your door every day. To be frank, I hadn’t event looked up before if they do make Swiss whisky or not – so this was a very bright flash from the dark blue sky.
What is known about the Rugen Distillery? On July 1st in the year of 1999 the laws in Switzerland changed so that it made possible to produce whisky in those mountain valleys. the first Swiss whisky came out 2003 under the name “Mountain Highland” – and it was a single cask. I suppose, it was JUST the cask that appeared on the first year. The production went on in small quantities, until 2008 they produced their first Swiss Highland Single Malt.  Rugen Distillery was opened 2011, and they now do their magic in the shadow of one Rugen mountain (and under one roof). They do have a long history with brewing beer, since they’ve been doing it over 100 years already.
What about this dram then? The facts are that it is at least three years old (NAS), it is distilled gently in two steps and it is tamed down to drinkable percentage (43%). The interesting fact is also that the maturation happens in select oak barrels, that are resting in Rugen bedrock cellars which date back to year 1875.

The color is very similar to Scottish Highlanders and Belgian Own Whisky: amber.
The nose is my favorite part: sweet, honey, balanced, floral notes and some vanilla.  Not bad, not bad at all.

The palate is also very sweet. But after the while you can pick up Swiss chocolate and not that Swiss coffee from it rather easily. As time passes, the fire begins to burn hotter but it still remains sweet. Just add a bits of oil and the result is a enjoyable one.
At my first tasting, I was drinking the freshly opened “neck” out of this bottle. It’s nose was good, but the palate had not that much taste in it. So I do recommend to try this again after a few days, in case you need to start a fresh bottle in a tasting. Or give it a lots of air before tasting it.
It is apparent, that the whisky is young – very young – but it is ok, especially if you are looking for something Highlandish and without any smoke. This is sweet, and would work nicely as a after dessert dram too. I hope they plan to mature their whisky a longer time in those casks, just to see how this one evolves.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Port Charlotte PC12 58.7% of the Bruichladdich

Before I start to talk about this dram, I must ask.. how do you pronounce that? Laddie has done some interesting names with PC series earlier as well but this time I have absolutely no direction with that name. Oileanach Furachail. It is gaelic of course and refers to the apprentice who works with his master to learn the trade to be one day a master. Master and apprentice there always is.

I’ve been following Port Charlotte series since PC7, and I got the taste PC6 as well in one bar. I have no idea how PC5 was, but I must say it has been interesting ride all the time. There has been really different PCs with different aspects and all have been strong, no-bs, deterministic and full of dram.

PC12 is not a exception.
20150912140951-IMG_4236_small-2 The nose is a big fat hit on your face. It tells you to stop kidding and start taking this seriously. Viking style – nothing soft, but instead you meet harsh power, smoke, peat and sweet fruits. Ok, that was the soft side – they need to have skalds too.

If you let it have it’s time then you will find out that there is oak as well.
The palate is a clean cut with a real sharp Damascus axe. It starts with a stunning smooth cut but emerges with a sensation that you lost and you have been cut in half. The defeat.

This is a combination of full alchohol, crispy and smoky peat, exotic fruits, off this world spices and oiliness that has been inside earth for eons. The skald’s sweet talk emerges after you have endured warrior’s yells and bashes. It is really complex and constantly changing going through the kings of past centuries, bringing out their characters and quirks. Finally the time has no meaning and you end up staring at the endless sea of stars when the Northern lights paint the sky with red,green and magenta. It is the eternity. Following sips and easier but they reveal new faces, new experiences and tactics.

PC12 is the most complex PC I’ve tasted and it is one the most complex raw power drams I’ve had in a long time. This is the whisky to experience, you don’t simply just taste this.

You might get a more easier turn with this if you add water. But I think that you should try to endure this raw and use smaller sips instead and forget the time. Adding water is like letting the wave to get inside your boat: you will get wet and drown without experiencing the full storm instead. 

The Finish is something I was counting on. It is long, burning, smokeash and peaty. You will taste this a long time in your mouth so don’t experience this one in a rush. Give it time and you will find the well of stars.

Friday, October 30, 2015

so, a man walked into a bar.. into a Whisky Bar. in Turku.

Not that many famous stories ever start with a glass of water, even if it is Badoit. Since I, again, visited the famous Whisky Bar in Turku I thought I’ll share with you some of whiskies I got to taste in there. What I really like about that place is that it’s owner is a Whisky enthusiast as well so there are always new great drams and stories to find. It is a bit of shame I am not there this weekend, since they’ve got a unique Ledaig tasting happening. If your feet takes you there, don’t be afraid to step inside despite the tough sprawl look they’ve got. It is not the place for those who like it tidy and filled with classical music. This is about rock, rough and ride! And their prices are extremely reasonable!

Now that you know the place, you can guess why the stores in there don’t start with water.. unless that water has been through a distillation process in Scotland. So, I walked into a bar and got us some great Scots. The choice was easy since I knew they had drams in there, that were going to be nearly unique to experience. If you go there and find the choices overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for advice from the bartender. And you can ask them to give you a few choices. Remember that you get to taste more drams if you don’t take full shots of each. I tend to take 2 cl each usually, so you can actually try out more whiskies than you could with full 4cl shots. And you don’t down them at once, the bottom can stay down.

Ben1972the first.. was BenRiach 33YO single cask from year 1972.  The details can be seen here


It was a great dram with a full body and wisdom provided by it’s age. The classic gentleman, who does not brag nor pick a fight. Soft voice, strong opinions, oak skin. The last of these: oak, was nicely present in the finish. This is one of those whiskies that define what older than 30YO drams should be like. There is nothing that stings, nothing that is bitter, it is broad, experienced and knows the world.

This was a good dram, but it’s “flaw” was that it was too ordinary. There was nothing rough, that would burn into your memory and make it memorable. It might work miracles if you were sitting with friends and talking philosophical topics, sipping off this dram. We were not.

Ben-peatedThe peated BenRiach, that followed, was younger and held a sword in it’s hand. 21 years old, but it knew the tricks and treats. Strong, swiping and yet it had seen lots of trails in it’s life. 1984 was the year when I was at the elementary school and probably the only whisky reference was from the Tex Willers. It was the year when people at BenRiach distilled and casked this one.

We determined that this was the second best whisky in that evening. There was smoke and peat, but it was softer than what I’ve accustomed to experience. Softer, but yet fully figured, nothing was thin about this. I also noticed that it had a great balance between the elements: peatfire, fruitground, spiceair and wateroflife.

The finish was tasty, long and I founded out that I liked to hold on to this dram a lot longer than I originally thought. It was precious treasure to be let loose eventually. Our group really enjoyed this encounter and at this point (noting 1972 version as well) I had fully changed my opinion about BenRiach to the better.

But the night was not over, our journey through the bar continued and we ordered next two drams to keep us warm and talkative: BenRiach Sauternes and Tawny Port Woods. These drams were also from the years before 90’s. Barely, but …


Since visiting to Canada (Ice Wine!) and Octomore 4.2. Comus I have been fascinated with Sauternes finish. There has been real interesting encounters. This one.. well, it was not what I was expecting. It was a dram of three stages: Sweet oil, Witch judgement (burn to death) and finally absolution by the sweet taste. The overall experience was overwhelming, yes, but it lacked the balance I had gotten used to in the previous two. This one was rough under it’s cover. I hope I get to taste this one again to get a second opinion.


The last BenRiach, we tasted, was the Tawny Port finish. Like sauternes I have been really into port wood finishes lately. The first sip was like wiping your butt with silk: really soft. The next phase is like you had been eating a lots of raw chili earlier! The burning sensation grow and exploded into it’s full effect. This one is brutal demon, but the end is sweet and long. It will definitely dominate.


Our next experience was with 2012 Ardbeg Day. I finally got to taste this one, thanks to this bar!


This whisky has never been that common, since it was sold mostly in the distillery and into bars. The prices rocketed when this landed onto some shops. I kind agree with the label: release the peat!

This is a “classic” Ardbeg for me. It has peat. It has smoke. It has fire. It has balance. It has the character that grew in the North and traveled the South. There is nothing but pure experience that directs it’s magic with force. This was the best dram of the night. We are Ardbeg fans, yes.

I saved drops of this dram for a while in my glass, when I finished off BenRiachs before getting to experience this one again. Most likely I won’t get another chance for this in a long time, which I regret. A great dram with a great attitude!

But our night was not yet over. We had a meeting with the Old Buck. The Beer Hunters were the first (perhaps, most likely, at least amongst the first) whisky distillers in Finland.


I especially like the Barrel number. Two. This bottle was from the first 100 bottle’s patch they produced.

To try this one, is to play the Game of Thrones. It gets violent, brutal and sexy. It is rude, lethal, fierce, tempting, cunning, mad and dirty at the same time. It will get under your skin, burn and release the dragons. This is a experience, that you don’t get much. The euphoria this one releases is awesome! This is not just about it’s power (70.6%!) but it is about the full matrix that includes all those sides of taste that are so familiar from the GoT.


The night continued on, but there isn’t anything I can write about since the remaining whisky got no justice after the Old Buck.  It only means that I have to make a pilgrimage to the Whisky Bar again.. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Talisker 18 yo of baltic waves

Talisker, the Islay’s stranded cousin who shares lots of similar characteristics than his relatives. Crying from the Isle of Skye they have had their handful of modern day products as well – smoky killers like Dark Storm for example. Many of those variants have been without any age statement.

20150912141631-IMG_4264_small So when I was dancing on the baltic waves (Silja Line) there was something in the whisky shelf that needed some careful thinking. Had I been more aware (and access to the internet) I would have not thought so long. But the end result counts: Talisker 18 – with reasonable price – ended on my trolley. It is good to visit those ships now and then – too bad it is a long way from Finland’s backwoods to get onto open sea. Or perhaps it is a good thing..

Talisker 18 a good product, with a bold age statement. Solid Talisker, nothing fancy. 45.8%. This dram has won prices and memorized moments.

The nose expresses like Islay drams: peat, fruits, smoke and pepper. Wood and salt. It tells it is Talisker alright, hinting a fun night with stories and laughter. If you could give quality a scent this would be a strong candidate.

The palate starts carefully, adds smoke and ash then then finishes with a explosion of wood, salt, pepper, peat and gentle fruits. Strong spices are present, making this a definite drink of stormy islands with high and aggressive waves bashing into it’s solid ageless rock shores. When the wave retreats there remains burned smoke with gently poking spices and peat. This is a dry whisky, not too sweet, so it also feels bitter but in a way that pleases me. Second sip starts with less force and the gale wind is also less severe, the storm has found it’s rhythm and pace. At this moment you can start having more conversation and not just focus fully on the whisky. Third sip add intensity again, bringing out more fruits and spices while letting the smoke and ash remain more in the background. I must say I am impressed how this plays along with my taste and changes it form constantly.

The Finish is not endless, but it is a decent one. The waves break off and the calm remains. This dram is more focused on the moment you sip it, not in the afterglow. Some ash remains with pieces of peat, but they start fading away. The clouds pass, the sun shines again. Show is over.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Octomore 7.2. the noble peatsmoke beast meets the beauty

There are drams to be found, thought the rogue knight after a long night at local tavern. I will need no other, if I find the source for the legendary nectar of gods and titans. There can be only one dram, continued suddenly the scamp, dressed as a celestial good-doer, which emerged into the thin air. How much did I consume that green drink anyway, thought our dear knight, but the scamp waved him off promising the one true dram and the fame.  So the knight went onto the quest, but he yet has not found a way to recall his steps. Apparently, there can be more than one true dram.

20150912141146-IMG_4247_small While I was really tempted to put the (in)famous Octomore into one true dram’s position it would not be the truth. Octomore eats one true drams as breakfast before it starts to prep for real fights. This is not the killer rabbit, but it is a killer alright. It is a mighty beast that cuts down oaks and would not be ashamed to wear high heels either. I you need a monster, you don’t have to hide this under your bed. Just chat with it before calling it the night.

20150912141131-IMG_4245_small The Octomore 7.2 is a another .2 version from the Bruichladdich distillery. It will cut through you like you were a straw of barley. 58.5% of raw power combined with peatsmoke level of 208 there is a winning combination for anything. 7.2. is a vatting of two different kinds of maturation: american oak and ex-red wine (syrah) barrels. The specs and color are quite right. However on the color: it is the flowing amber, liquid gold, white wineish. Not what you’d expect off syrah barrels (red) so those barrels must have been rather washed.

The nose reveals the Octomore: peatsmoke with sweet tones. There is some freshness and fruits too, but this is Octomore alright.

The first sip is the magnificent experience. Explosion of raw power, peat, phenols, smoke and ash directly feed into your mouth, tongue and soul. This is a bomb released and there is no stopping of the flow. The following sips enhance the experience, but they don’t act so fierce. There is also sweet inside, buried deep into later layers of the enchanted ritual. Burned sugar also rises it’s facade after a while and leaves lots of oil to crawl around the mouth.

The finish.. Ah, the finish. It lasts a long time. Ash, peatsmoke and sweet combination runs endlessly through the mouth.

This is Octomore of Islay. This has again shown who does this ultimate peat experience the best. I dare someone to challenge this and do a peatsmoke monster that van beat this one! I know Laddie will do it, but will there be a competition?

Something to note, when you open 7.3. and taste your first drams they won’t have the same effect. Either leave the dram to get a lots of air before tasting or take a few drams with friends and leave the bottle to wait for a month, two or three. It gets better, a lot better. These drams need to breathe.

Meanwhile, I hope I’ll get to taste 7.3. at some point.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Wedding Whisky Bar

So, you got the bar.. but what do you want to stock in there?
Of course that depends on you and your party. If you are having a Whisky tasting I don’t recommend Glen Scanlan and basic Four Roses, even if you have decors naming them. We did have also Famous Grouse, but it was used for Scottish (Irish) coffee only so it does not really count.
Of course we had Ardbeg there. The TEN and Uigeadail are essential.

And Bruichladdich was also a must have for us. Since we  didn’t want to get people drunk we mostly avoided cask strength drams on purpose. Bruichladdich had a nice set
- the Organic Scottish Barley for those who like it light but tasty
- Port Charlotte Peat Project
- and Port Charlotte Scottish Barley with some heavy peat

Then we had a selection of Laphroaigs: QA cask and Select for the easier part, Quarter Cask for those who knew what they like and PX Cask that really hit the spot – people liked that one a lot!
The basic Highland Park 12YO was also a well placed dram. Balanced with sherry maturation, it was a sweet yet tasty dram to go during later hours as well.
Of course there cannot be a tasting/bar without Kilchoman. The Machir Bay was good, but the Loch Gorm didn’t have a drop in it after the party. It was not a full bottle in the start either, but it was a very well liked with whisky newcomers and also with more experienced connoisseurs. Jura Prophecy also found it’s seat, but despite the bottle and style it didn’t get much attention.
Bunnahabhain was representing their corner of the Islay with a sole bottle of Darach Ur. Not the most typical Bunna, but it did create some diversity into the offering. 
Bowmore made apparance with 12YO and 100 degrees proof, which actually was found really tasty. Yet again whisky, that gets better once it gets more air!
20150722143156-IMG_1288_small 20150722143210-IMG_1290_small
What’s left? The Finnish ones of course: Kyrö Juuri and Verso and Teerenpeli with Kaski.
And we had the toasted rye, that Kyrö uses to create their Rye distills! If you get a chance to taste it.. try it! It is excellent and smoky.
Also we had Big Peat, Wemyss Peat Chimney and Monkey Shoulder in there.

We also created a guide to people, so they could look into it and selected the whisky what would work the best for them.
The set was ready to receive guests! At this point I was in a lots of hurry, so I didn’t even got a better photo! I guess I had something else in mind.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The BenRiach 10yo 46% Peated Curiositas but keeps the cat alive

Along with the Ledaig 10yo the BenRiach 10yo was also a new friend of mine. This was a chance meeting, in a backdoors alley where all the streetlights had gone black. Stumbling there, I got this onto my hand and moved on. When I got the chance to taste this later, it was a big surprise.
20150608164255-IMG_5820_small Benriach is a difficult dram for me. I’ve tasted it a few times in bars, but so far I didn’t got the thing in it. Ok, but .. Of course it can be the peat and the smoke which were lacking for one reason. This got my attention with the word “Peated” , with a story that they enhance the peat drying to the malts Islay style: peat infused kilns , the fact that it had a age statement (10yo) and the price (low).
So what did I got?
The nose is sweet, oaken and also somewhat peaty. There is not much in the nose, but it smells pleasant.
The palate strikes with the peat and some smoke. I like this one! The waves of peat strike the shore again and again. It is a nice attack of peatwarriors who aim to breach the wall. Later some fruits, sweets and oak emerge with some spices. During the following sips the oak gets more wood and the peat waves lower a bit.
The finish mixes oak, peat and some smoke.
For this one’s price, it is a great dram. Peaty, yet tasty. It lacks the power and complexity/width of those Islay peatsmoke kings, but it makes a great warrior who can take the charge while the kings are gone. And it is really about the day, do you wish to listen to the kings or does the lighter peat cheer your day for better.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Rustic’n’Rough Whisky Bar

What it takes to build a rough style Whisky Bar onto your home? Some worn out wood, old door, couple of old pallets and some solid old looking planks for the desk. The result is that kind of a bar, that takes some effort if you want to move it onto another place – or you actually don’t do it. Just build it where you want it to stay. It is worth it. Here are a few photos of it’s construction and the end result.


Here it begins. The pallets, the door and front supports are in their place.


Just make sure the door is there the right side up, and attach it. The rear supports are also in it’s place.


Note the board in the front of the door (dark board, you can easily miss that), which serves as the rear wall to door desk (the bartender’s desk). Also the boards (high and low) on the business end are necessary to attach facade boards into their place. 


..and it starts to get into the shape! We had some real rough boards to use for this bar’s facade.


Add the higher frame (to hold the plaque) for a better look.


Also it is good to add side shelves. I found it good that there was a another board on the side, to lessen the risk to fall a bottle.



We also added some other decors to the bar. We did not have Four Roses in our wedding menu though. Oh, and the background was empty when the actually party started.


Since we managed also to get a few empty Highland Park sets (Thor, Freya, Loki) they had a place in our bar. Perhaps it was good, that they were empty before the party.



We also had bar mats: Bowmore and Laphroaig. They really boosted the desk for a more Islay experience.




Of course we had to have some Bowmore, Laphroaig and Highland Park available at the bar – especially with these decors.



The actual wedding day was a “bit” in rush and hectic, so I didn’t have time to take photos of the bar’s bartender view. The door desk is large enough to hold a lots of glasses (especially Bowmore whisky glasses, since they don’t fall as easily as Glencairn glasses), extra whisky bottles and of course water bottles.

I am very pleased with the whisky bar. It is big, rough and our style. It will stay in our lobby for now and we can have whisky tastings and another parties (much smaller ones, I presume) later.