Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Hudson Whiskey Club - The Last Four Drams

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, apart from Stuart typing up this blog.

All shopping done, all presents wrapped and as promised here I am to finish off the review of the Hudson Bar's "End of year whiskey club".

If you've been following along you'll have seen we've already been from Scotland to Ireland and now we're off on a whirlwind tour of the globe (a bit like Santa) stopping at USA, Taiwan and Japan before zooming back home to sunny, tropical Belfast to finish off the night.

Given the time of the evening and the fact I'm just starting to enjoy a drink or two I'll be flying through these last four drams rather quickly.

Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon - 12 year old - 47% ABV

Nose - Sweet wood resin, ripe banana, touch of sweet smoke and honeyed orange

Palate - Initially undrinkable, really nasty hot alcohol (and this isn't just the 47%), feels almost toxic, eventually it does fade to give some sweet vanilla ice cream and with a good bit of water the orange re-appears

Finish - Mercifully short

Not a dram I'll be going back to anytime soon

Kavalan Single Malt "NAS" - 40% ABV

Nose - Initial fizzy citrus sherbet, light wood sap, opens to become richer stewed fruits, toffee, sweet rich caramel, fruitcake and mixed spice.  Very good nose.

Palate - Sweet malt arrival with rich stewed dark fruits, dried fruit (especially raisin), strangely in the middle there is a very evident old foosty, leathery note which is actually very pleasant.  This reminds me of an old Scottish blend that's been sitting in the bottle for 20+ years.

Finish - To be honest it's non-existent but it doesn't take away from the rest of the experience which is top notch.

Overall this is a well made whisky that has wisdom beyond it's years.

Yamazaki 18 year old - 43& ABV

Nose - Big, traditional, Japanese style wood resin, the faintest whiff of smoke, satsumas, lemons, light sweet caramel and with time more sherried notes come to the fore.  Even for 18 years you can still get the light fruity spirit notes coming through but I feel the casks are just edging this one.

Palate - Sweet, rich, light smoke, deep mega orange, sweet vanilla.

Finish - Drying and warm with beautiful wood spice.

Overall this, for me, is equally as good as the 12 year old.  Both are fantastic single malts that have been crafted to the highest standard but the 18, with more wood influence, is definitely ideal for this time of year.

Now, on the night we thought this was going to be the end of the festivities but, thankfully, we had one last treat in store.  After working are way through the ages and richness we came straight back to youth with a taste of the Titanic 5 year old blend.  

Although produced for the Belfast Distillery Company this whiskey was produced by the Cooley Distillery in County Louth and is a blend of roughly 20% malt and 80% grain.

It was released along with a 10 year old, which is practically impossible to find, but it appears that, until Belfast Distillery Company have their own Belfast produced 5 year old, we shall only see an even younger version being released.  This is possibly due to the fact the Cooley have since been taken over by Beam Global and they could be less favourable to releasing older stock.

Titanic 5 year old Blend - 40%

Nose - Rice Krispies (British breakfast cereal), sweet grain, light toasted cereals, sweet vanilla, bubblegum, fresh zingy citrus….this is 10 times the blend Bushmills original is.

Palate - More light, sweet cereal, pangs of lemon and fresh orange, some sweet malt, incredibly smooth.  Fresh, clean, light and extremely refreshing.

Finish - Medium with more sugary sweetness.

Overall an amazingly light and refreshing dram and one that I shall revisit when the warmer weather returns in spring.

Well that's that for the review of the Hudson's Whiskey Club.  A fantastic night with a great range of whiskies on show.  I can't wait for the new year to see what they have in store for us.

All I can say now is that I wish you all a very merry Christmas and hope you all have a special bottle, or two, to open tomorrow….I know I do.

Until next time,



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