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This fabulous whisky surprised us all at the Whisky Tasting Club. In fact, it made the final of our own Whisky World Cup in July where it gave some of the worlds big hitters one hell of a contest.
Part of the distinctive flavour is attributed to their method of grinding the grain. As if to emphasise its own Dutch-ness, the grain at the Zuidam distillery is ground using millstones turned by the power of a windmill. This allows the grain to be ground without being damaged by heat, so that the delicate flavours remain. And how! Their website is here. You can buy it for £55.75 from The Whisky Exchange.
Although it is hard to tell from the label, 'From the Barrel' is actually a blended whisky, using grain and malt whiskies from the Miyagikyo distillery and malt from the Yoichi distillery, both owned by Nikka. In fact, we think you will find it hard to tell its a blend even after you have tasted it.
Whereas many blends use whisky purchased from rival companies, Japanese businesses are reluctant to trade with their competitors. Therefore, it is not unusual for Japanese distilleries to produce all the constituent whiskies for their blends themselves. Something else peculiar to Japanese whisky is the presence of a fifth taste dimension, the so-called umami, which gives it a delicious savoury element.
This is a fabulous fruity and spicy blend that is a two-time winner at the world whisky awards and is considered as one of the best value whiskies around. Read reviews here and here. Their homepage is here. This comes in 500ML bottles and you can buy it for £24.95 from The Whisky Exchange.
Scoring and further discussion on our Nikka Forum Page
Ranked one of the top three single malts in the world in 2009, Amrut Fusion is an Indian whisky using two different sorts of barley, Indian unpeated and Scottish peated. The result is a wonderful mix of smoke, chocolate and fruit.
It seems that Amrut are keen on Indo-Scottish experimentation. They have also produced a single malt matured in India and then shipped to Scottish for a further period of maturation. This isnt as silly as it seems. The Indian climate is sufficiently harsh that up to 15% of the liquid is lost annually through evaporation (compared to about 2% in Scotland). Consequently, Indian whiskies are never usually older than about four years and explains why Amrut doesnt use age statements.
As you will find out, a young whisky can have lots to recommend it, particularly when made in a climate where maturation is much more rapid than it is in Scotland. Whisky Online currently have it in stock for £37.99
Further discussion on our Amrut Forum Page
Aided by distilling legend Iain Henderson, they produced their first spirit in November 2006 and released their first whisky in December 2009, to huge acclaim. Signing Iain Henderson was likened to Norwich City signing David Beckham! If only….
An English distillery was always going to stir massive interest, and the fact that that interest is still being stirred a year after its whiskies have been sampled is testament to their quality.
The first whisky was Chapter 6, an un-peated and distinctly fruity three year-old. Soon after, Chapter 9 was released, a peated three year old whisky which, for all its lack of years, has fabulous integration between peat, spice and fruit. Wonderful. We have reviewed it on the WTC blog. The Whisky Wire also like it. You can buy this direct from St. George's for £39.99.
Scoring and further discussion on our English Whisky Forum Page
Last but certainly not least we come to the United States. Although the States produces its own single malts, it is far more famous for its Bourbon.
Although mostly produced in Kentucky, Bourbon can in fact be produced anywhere in the United States. By law, it has to contain a minimum 51% corn and be matured in new charred oak barrels. The charring of the oak barrels gives bourbon its lovely vanilla, candied fruit taste. As with India, the speed of maturation in the US is rapid and, legally, bourbon only has to be matured for a minimum of two years.
Elijah Craig is credited as the inventor of Bourbon whiskey. The Heaven Hill distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky, keeps his name alive with this very old (in Bourbon terms) multiple award-winning whiskey, regarded as one of the most complete Bourbons available today, and it only costs £24.95 from The Whisky Exchange. Reviewed here and here. A whisky wire review is here.
Further discussion on our Elijah Craig Forum Page.