Sunday, 23 February 2014

Discovery Road - "Four Lions" - Review

After another busy weekend I'm back again, as promised, to bring you another update regarding one of the drams from the new Discovery Road range of whiskies.

On Friday evening I posted an entry giving you an introduction to this new range of whiskies which can be found by clicking here.  Hopefully this should get you all up to speed.

This update shall focus on the Discovery Road "Four Lions" bottling.  

This is a single malt from St George's Distillery in Norfolk, England.  It has been bottled at 46% ABV and is named after the four people who picked out the 4 casks that make up this release.  The four persons involved were "Discovery Road Whisky" brand creator Dominic Roskrow, St George's distiller David Fitt and Whisky Tasting Club members Tony Bagnall and Pat Barrow.

It was released in December 2013 and is described, on Dominic Roskrow's website, as "a single malt with a distinctive spicy and earthy taste, some tropical fruits and citrus, and hints of menthol".  Not Bad eh?  Well onto my own tasting notes:

Nose - Firstly I would like to say that it clings to the glass beautifully.  Lemon and lime, clove, milk chocolate and salted caramel.  Vanilla biscuits with a definitive youthfulness running throughout the spirit.  With a touch of water the citrus notes become more pronounced with the menthol mentioned by Dominic himself making an appearance.

Palate - Initially sweet malt giving way to an intense peppery heat.  The heat is in no way harsh but gives a generous warmth in the mouth.  More sweet salted caramel, menthol and citrus but is now more orangey rather than lemon and lime.

Finish - Nice lingering fresh fruit heat.

Overall this reminds me of a coastal highland malt in the style of Old Pulteney.  It's a very interesting whisky with some youth on it's side.  I will admit that the youthfulness may be a touch overpowering to some but this dram can be given time in the glass and allowed to open up to show the fresh fruitiness.  I feel this offering does the distillery proud and showcases their potential perfectly.  An excellent choice and a great starter to get me into the Discovery Road range.

As with all of the Discovery Road range this bottling can be found on Master of Malt and to help I've even given you the link -

Unfortunately this week I shall be away from my computer and unable to update this blog but I shall be back again on Friday evening to bring you the next instalment in the range which shall be Discovery Road "Courage" - a Dutch Single Malt that's a little bit special.

So, until next time,



Friday, 21 February 2014

"Discovery Road" Whisky - An Introduction

Hi there,

When I first got into the fabulous world of whisky an initial observation I made was that the bulk of the focus seemed to be firmly on Scottish single malts and blends…...and why not?  Over many decades the scottish whisky industry has grown and expanded and as a result has gained quite a grip on whisky sales, the world over.  Some would even say that it is most definitely in the middle of a golden era.  However as with any interest, that any person has in any topic, we naturally begin to look further afield to seek out exciting new experiences and the world of whisky is not devoid of providing such experiences.

This is exactly what has been achieved by Dominic Roskrow as he has spent the last eight years visiting world distilleries from outside traditional areas, gaining knowledge and making contacts with distillery owners from countries as far flung as New Zealand and Sweden. 

As the whisky drinking public are now pushing the boundaries and seeking those new whisky tasting experiences Dom has decided to work with his contacts to take world whisky to it's next stage and hopefully create a new, ambitious, category of whisky entitled 'New World Whisky.'

Dominic Roskrow
Dominic Roskrow has been a journalist for about 30 years, a drinks writer for 22 years and exclusively a whisky writer for more than a decade.  He has edited various drinks titles including Whisky Magazine and has been a freelance whisky writer for seven years.  

Throughout his career he has written about whisky for a wide range of titles including national newspapers, international magazines and British drinks titles including Harpers, Drinks International, Publican at Morning Advertiser and The Spirits Business.  

He has further expanded his repertoire by also writing six books on whisky including The World's Best Whiskies, 1001 Whiskies to Try Before You Die and The Whisky Opus, which in 2013 was shortlisted in the Fortnum and Mason Food and Drink Awards.

Without doubt there would be no better qualified person to seek out these new experiences for us to enjoy.

In talking about his new "Discovery Road" range Dominic explains: "There are only two ways you can make whisky, you can try and do it like Scotland does, and you will almost certainly fail.  Or you can dare to be different, make a whisky which reflects your heritage and culture, and adopt local customs, grains and production methods to produce a whisky that is unique."

"That's how I see the best New World whisky - it is in a  different category to Scotch or bourbon and comparing it to those categories is as relevant as comparing Aussie Rules footie to Soccer or American Football. It's not better, not worse, just different."

Dominic continues by saying that the whole point of these whiskies is to offer something new.  "For many drinkers in their 20s whisky is unappealing, but whiskies from India, Australia, Texas or Taiwan have the potential to break the mould by being different and creating their own framework.  Many of these whiskies are fruity and very good for cocktails.  Many of them can thrive outside the traditional whisky drinking environment. The target should be vodka, tequila and gin drinkers in their 20s and 30s, not existing Scotch drinkers." 

The new range was released in December 2013 with the initial offerings being an English single malt - "Four Lions", a Dutch single malt - "Courage" and a Dutch rye whisky - "Smile".  

Each whisky will be bottled at 46% ABV, will be limited to under 300 bottles (there are just 215 bottles of the English malt) and will be packaged in a stylish premium bottle.  The bottles can be seen below and are shown in order of "Four Lions", "Courage" and "Smile".

There also was an extremely limited edition release of the "Four Lions" which was bottled at 58% ABV.

The whole range is available online and can be found at Master of Malt by clicking right here -

Dominic has been very kind in providing me with samples of the new releases and over the next week or so I shall be bringing you all a closer look at each release along with my own tasting notes and opinions.

Well I shall leave you all now as I have, yet again, managed to write this at an incredibly late hour and am off to rest before shouting at the TV tomorrow as Ireland take on England in the Six Nations.  I'm sure it'll be a belter of a game and also have utter confidence that Ireland shall prevail….well I hope they do.

Until next time though,



NB Many thanks to Dominic and Sally Roskrow for the majority of information and attached pictures.  Other information obtained from

Monday, 17 February 2014

Dunville's - Very Rare - Irish Whiskey - Review

A while back I brought you a bit of an internet exclusive with the news that the Dunville's Irish Whiskey Brand was returning to our shelves via the new Northern Irish distillery Echlinville, which is based not far from Belfast in a small town called Kircubbin.  

For those of you who missed it you can check out that blog update by clicking right here.

Back in the "Dunville's Irish Whiskey is back…sort of" update I mentioned I would be buying a bottle for review and also seeking out further information on the whiskey.  

Well there's been success on both fronts so here we go.

The new style bottle of Dunville's
The whiskey itself is a traditional 20/80 blend of malt to grain and due to their current confidential supply agreement Echlinville are unable to state from which Irish distillery(s) it has originated from.  In my opinion I would say that both grain and malt are from the Cooley distillery stock.

The grain whiskies are 4 & 5 year old and the malts are between 5 & 8 years old, however they have deliberately made no mention of aging as they are planning to release aged malts in the fullness of time.

The whiskies were brought to the distillery, in their separate casks, where they were blended straight from cask and bottled.

It has been bottled at 40% ABV and without doubt there's some caramel added and presumably chill filtration.

The ‘Very Rare Irish Whiskey’ notation on the label is a reference to the limited quantity of bottles available so to this extent when it’s done - it’s done!!

With regards cost the bottle I bought was priced at £29.99.

The distillery also informed me that in time they are confident that their maturing stock will move Dunville’s Irish Whiskey into the 21st century.

It is this last statement I wish to focus on as, after trying the offering they have bottled for this relaunch, I don't feel they have quite hit the mark just yet.  Hopefully "in time" they can live up to their confidence and release their own matured spirit to make their mark on the Irish whiskey scene, after all variety is the spice of life.

Onto the tasting notes:

Nose - Light grain spirit, some hints of sweet malt, honey, fresh apple, light oak which I would even expand to say has a touch of smoke / char / toasted wood.  Light spice, hint of vanilla and banana.  To be honest the nose is quite enjoyable.  Good mix of fruit and toasty notes.

Palate - Again it's a light, young spirit.  The wood influence that came through on the nose is completely invisible here.  The few flavours I could find were pepper, orange and more apple.

Finish - Short and non-existent apart from a blast of heat.

Now for a conclusion which I shall take a little time over.  

Firstly I've never sampled a whiskey that has such a pleasant nose with a such flat taste.  The nose was quite fresh and definitely had a nice wood touch yet the taste simply did not match up.  The palate was flat and quite frankly a non-event.  I don't really know what the problem is but I would speculate that, as I feel this whiskey has come from Cooley, the original owners of the spirit (Beam Global) have sold on whatever they had lying so as not to impact on their own stocks.  Even though the wood in the nose is quite evident I get the feeling that the casks used, in maturing this whiskey, were on their last legs.

Secondly, if the whiskey has come from Cooley then, a fair comparison to make would be with the Titanic 5 year old.  The Titanic 5 is much more the finished article compared to this Dunville's Irish Whiskey.  With a bit more thought a possible answer to this is that the Belfast Distillery Company, the creators of Titanic Whiskey, managed to secure the whiskey for their product prior to Beam Global taking over Cooley meaning they maybe got a better deal or a better selection of casks.  

To be honest this is all pure guess work but thought it best to give you some form of opinion based upon possibilities.

Lastly all I would like to say is this.  I am without doubt very grateful that Echlinville Distillery is here.  Anything that brings jobs and investment to this part of the world is nothing but good and for it to be in the form of whiskey production is all the better.  With this in mind though I really do hope they go that step further and match their ambition with a high quality product of their own.  I fully understand the need to get the brand out there with this initial release but I feel if they are to release other bottlings, prior to their own spirit being matured, then, cost permitting, they should secure some matured whiskey that will really start to add a touch of quality to their brand.

In it's heyday Irish whiskey was a force to be reckoned with and with a little bit of luck we can get back to that proud standing but if we are to get there then our new distilleries need to aim high and create genuine competition for the Yellow Spot's, Redbreast's and Bushmills of this island.  I for one shall have my fingers crossed.  

Well, as I said, I'll shall be continuing to push on with more reviews and thankfully I've enough to keep me going with samples of the new Discovery Road range and a few wee other gems too.  These shall be happily dissected and brought to you all in Whisky Belfast form ASAP.

Until next time though,