Thursday, 17 September 2015

Powers - Three Swallow Release - Review

Another month and another new release from Irish Distillers.

Last night, as part of the Celtic Whiskey Club, I took part in a tweet tasting sampling the latest release under the Powers label - "Three Swallow Release.

Powers "Three Swallow Release" continues Irish Distillers' investment in the Powers brand and specifically Single Pot Still Powers.  This is aimed to fit into their range just below the Powers "Signature Release" and is intended to offer whiskey drinkers an alternative to the more expensive pot still whiskeys with age statements.

Due to be released in the next few weeks, Powers "Three Swallow Release" has been bottled at 40% ABV and without chill filtration.  For maturation they have selected a range of ex-bourbon barrels and a small portion of Oloroso sherry casks.

The name allegedly comes from the fact that a mouthful of Powers should never be swallowed in one go, but in three separate gulps.

Onto my notes:

Nose - Initially fresh and fruity.  Orchard fruits, green apple and there's a nice youthfulness to it.  Light grain and even lighter vanilla.  The casks are not overpowering this dram.  As it develops in the glass a smooth creaminess comes through from the bourbon casks.  We move on to tropical banana / banoffee pie with some sherry notes coming through too.  Ripe pear with a little spice in the form of black pepper.  This nose is really inviting and there's a great balance of cask influence with the sherry notes noticeable but coated by the bourbon elements.

Palate - Smooth with huge amounts of cream.  Red apple, ripe banana, a little butterscotch and a vanilla hit of crème brûlée.  While it would be nice to see this at 43% / 46%, it still retains a nice spirit kick at 40%.  With time a little dusty wood appears from the sherry casks and again the balance is lovely.

Finish - Medium with a nice dryness of wood spice, red apple and, at last, a little red fruit.

Overall I'm very impressed with this whiskey.  It displays a brilliant balance of cask influence and also carries through great fruit flavours from the pot still distillate.  In comparison to another recent Irish Distillers release, the Green Spot "Château Léoville Barton", I feel this wins hands down as it's an honest dram that doesn't try too hard to be anything other than what it is....a well made, well matured, Irish whiskey. 

While still not on general release (it's due to be released in the coming weeks) it remains to be seen what price point this whiskey appears at, but providing it is priced well, which it should be, then I would have no hesitation in recommending this as an excellent "go-to" pot still whiskey to have in your collection.

More of the same please Irish Distillers!!

Until next time,



PS - Excuse the slightly blurry image as a little jiggery pokery was required, given the fact no official photos have been released yet

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Cutty Sark - 33 year old "Art Deco" - Review

Hello there.  Things have been a little quiet on the "Whisky Belfast" front recently as I've been off enjoying a road trip around the west coast of Ireland, but now that I'm back in Belfast you can expect things  to move along quite nicely indeed.

To kick things off I've decided to post a quick fire review of a sample I've been meaning to taste for a while.

Back in November of last year collectors of old and fine whiskies were given a treat when Cutty Sark, the iconic blended whisky with the yellow label, released a 33 year old expression.

Named "Art Deco" this limited edition release came about as Cutty Sark continue to explore the rich history, heritage and origin of their brand.  This release specifically focused on the exciting Art Deco period of the 1920s and early 1930s.  Celebrating a time when Cutty Sark found its way into America and "flourished within the emerging cocktail culture and changed the face of Scotch whisky forever".

The release was limited to 3,456 bottles, was bottled at 41.7 ABV and came with a RRP of £650.

Onto my notes:

Nose - Rich orange, wood sap, a little old damp dustiness and it's worth noting the thick consistency in the glass.  Red apple and a little lemon but this stays firmly on the rich side of things.  A naturally indulgent nose.  Hardly any spices, just orchard fruits and blackberries.  There's a touch of soapiness in here, which might be mineral in nature, and at this age I'm not even going to bother adding any water.  Incredibly smooth with no hot notes of alcohol.  "Dairy Milk" fruit & nut chocolate and we continue with apples in the guise of warm apple crumble.  A slight melted butter note comes towards the end and with more time this only gets dustier and dustier in the glass.  Awesome nose!!

Palate - Quite spirit heavy which wasn't apparent on the nose.  This arrives with the dusty notes from the nose.  Old wood is obvious and gives away to the apples - cooked, ripe, stewed, every sort.  Seville orange marmalade and now a little mixed spice balanced with wood spice.  A little more wood sap, lemon drops and after a while this turns to pure fruit juice in the mouth.  The blackberry on the nose is more of a raspberry on the palate.

Finish - Short with some wood spice and red apple.

Overall this is a bit of a mixed bag.  Really enjoyable on the nose, good on the palate and disappointing on the finish.  I love the older style aromas that old whiskies offer up but I'm beginning to find the short finish a common theme amongst the older blends.  Dare I say it that, with blended whisky, it's possible for them to become too old???  Maybe they can but they will still be released while people are prepared to pay for "premium" product.  I've yet to find a blended whisky that I'd pay anywhere near £100 for let alone £650.

Until next time,




PS - Thanks to Jamie for the sample.