Whisky Advent Calendar 5: Glendronach 12

12 years old seems to be the minimum acceptable age for a whisky. Of course, that doesn’t stop other whiskies from being released, but it does seem to be a an expected minimum.

Another day has come around with another 12 year old whisky; this one is Glendronach, another whisky which I don’t think I’ve had before. It’s a Highland malt, and has a lot of the characteristics – quite a balanced nose with a moderate colour. The flavour is a bit more interesting than normal though, with an interesting mix of spices and sweetness. The caramel note isn’t too great, and although there is balance, there is variety too.

I really like this one, and it’s one that I’ll be looking into again. I’ll give it an 8/10.

Whisky Advent Calendar 4: Inchmoan 12

Inchmoan 12. If you told me about this, I wouldn’t have imagined this was a whisky. Inchmoan is not a distillery that I’ve heard of, and I always like trying new things.

The whisky is medium-dark, and has a light and airy nose, with a few hints of citrus and perhaps a floral element. And on first taste it’s also very light. There is a faintly chemical taste as well, though really hardly noticeable. Later, lighter flavours include some touches of spice.

All in all a pretty nice whisky, though I wouldn’t say that I’d have it particularly frequently; it’s a bit too light. Glad to have tried it though! 6/10

Tree’s decorated, though!

Whisky Advent Calendar 3: Monkey Shoulder blend

Day three and we have a blend. Monkey Shoulder is a well-known blended malt whisky from Dufftown. It’s a darkish malt, but has a robust nose of honey and golden syrup, which continues into the taste. It doesn’t really go much beyond that except perhaps a hint of bourbon; it’s very drinkable, but is almost too sweet.

Not really much to say beyond that. It’s unfortunately anonymous, although inoffensive; it doesn’t really challenge the palate at all. It’s perfectly nice, but not much more than that.

At this point in the reviews I feel like pointing out a real design flaw in the wax caps. They come with a little side thing which I guess you’re supposed to pull to unwind a bit of wax and unscrew it. Unfortunately, so far for all three days the wax has just snapped off (despite careful pulling today). Oh well, I can just cut the wax with a knife.

Whisky Advent Calendar 2: Port Askaig 8

It’s day 2 already, and I eagerly opened the door to today’s whisky to reveal a whisky I haven’t heard of before. It’s called Port Askaig and it labels itself as an Islay 8 year old.

Fiddling off the wax seal on the bottle and opening it, I got an immediate whiff of peat. Looking at the bottle, the whisky is extremely pale, and holding it up to a white surface this whisky is very, very lightly coloured.

The taste is surprisingly mellow given the peaty, smoky nose and the pale colour. This may not be a very old whisky but it’s got a character to it that is more than just smokiness. But it’s not much more – a hint of toffee, perhaps, and something in the background struggling to make itself noticed. But it is a sippable whisky, and I enjoyed the fact that it doesn’t cram peat down your throat. It does make me think that with more age it might get interesting.

Adding a drop of water to it didn’t actually change much. It perhaps brought out a bit more sweetness to it, but not really noticeable.

Ultimately, a clean whisky with a touch of smoke and some possible interest in the background…but not one I can get behind in any strong way. 5/10.

Whisky Advent Calendar 1: Glenfarclas 21

So my first whisky is Glenfarclas 21 year old. At 43% it’s pretty typical of a single malt, and it comes with quite a robust amber colour. As a Highland malt, I start with the assumption that it is a balanced malt with caramel tones, which is certainly reinforced by the nose. Caramel and butterscotch are abundant.

At first taste it is actually a bit lighter than I expect, almost delicate; despite its colour, there was no dominant note. On second and third sip the caramel note definitely comes through, with maybe a bit of fruit in the background. The caramel and sweetness comes from the Oloroso sherry casks, a dark and nutty sherry. This perhaps does come through a bit.

Adding a dash of filtered water, suddenly the nose is a lot sweeter, but the taste isn’t; it’s more rounded and takes the edge off it.

All in all, a decent and well-balanced whisky – not particularly different, but reliable. I’d give it a solid 6 out of 10.

Whisky Advent Calendar 0: Introduction

One of the things I got into at university was whisky. And I’ve seen in the past people posting and sharing the whisky advent calendar. So recently I made suggestions that I would be keen on one…

…and I was given one for my birthday!

So it’s about time that I start writing whisky reviews – and what better way to do that than to do this on this year’s advent calendar?

As last year, I’ll be ranking the whiskies on a 1-10 scale. I don’t have the time or space on this blog to write about the background to whisky, but I’ll be talking about bits and pieces as I go through. But the key things I’ll be looking at are the colour, nose, taste and finish. I will likely add a drop of water too; a ‘drop of branch’ often takes the edge off the whisky and may release some flavours. The water I will use is water from the filter as the pure tap water often tastes a bit chemically.

I’ll be using my trusty nosing glass too, from Penderyn; it’s a good glass with a narrow opening to focus the vapours from the whisky.

And I don’t think I’ll necessarily go for one a day; I feel like that might not be good for me! So as last year, there might be a break or two, which I’ll make up by having two on other days.

Slàinte!

Huel bars

So I’ve already blogged about the fact that I use and enjoy Huel, the powdered fuel replacement. Indeed, I’ve had it basically every day since September 2016, with the exception of Christmas and a month in May.

There are times, though, when I need something as a bit of a snack, and again to avoid the dangers of unhealthy snacking, I’ve turned to Huel. They have released a bar (only one – cocoa flavoured), which I am now trying.

The packaging contains a humorous warning that it’s a bit dry and that it’s best with a glass of water, so I’ve got one handy.

Opening it up it lookss pretty solid – more like a biscuit than a traditional ‘bar’. It’s a bit bendy though, and actually feels a bit like an old cookie.

Biting into it, that feeling carries on. The texture is really unusual, and this is combined with the fact that the taste is a bit savoury. Only two bites in and I need a big gulp of water.

Ultimately it feels like what it is – something healthy to fill you up and stop you from snacking. It puts me more in mind of nutrition bars than a snack bar (which is of course what it is).

While I finish the bar off (with some difficulty – it really is rather dry), the nutrition is as follows:

  • Energy 250 kcal
  • Fat 6g (2.5g saturates)
  • Carb 26g (8.2 sugar)
  • Fibre 15.1g (possibly why it’s so dry?)
  • Protein 15.7g
  • Salt 0.2g

So when you break it down by calories, the ratio is 36:104:64 approximately, which is a pretty good ratio for a recovery bar.

By the time I had finished writing that I’d finished the bar. And by the time I’d finished it, I’d also had about 450ml of water to drink. Scanning the ingredients, I’m reminded as to why I like Huel – the ingredients are all natural (oats, brown rice protein and so on).

Having finished the bar I’m feeling distinctly full, which is really good, but not as if I’ve had a lovely snack. The lack of flavour may play to its advantage for me, as it is with regular huel; the fact that there is no real flavour means that there is less potential for preference.

In the end: it wasn’t great, but it did the job. I could see this being a good substitute for a chocolate bar if I have a mid-afternoon lull. I don’t know how much energy it would give me (it’s not quite a sugar hit), but it’s better for me.

It’s pretty expensive, though – 5 bars was £12, which at £2.40 each makes them extremely steep. Buying more saves a lot of money, but even buying 30 or 40 of them means that they’re more than £1 each. Hopefully they get cheaper over time.

Craft beer advent calendar 24: St Nicks Blizzard Brew

Well, here is the last one – the final craft beer. I’m pleased that it’s not plum pudding flavoured, or brewed in a santa hat (do I sound jaded?) but it looks like a solid performer with a Christmas theme.

Pouring it into the glass, it’s apparent that it’s not a beer with a head. But I won’t let that colour my review, because ultimately it’s more about the taste. I do wonder what causes that, though.

On the nose the beer is rather anonymous without really much to say for itself. In fact, this continues into the tasting – its rich colour does not translate into a rich flavour. It’s by no means bad, and (maybe I’m stretching things a bit here) there is just a hint of a snowflake or two in the taste. It is a bit frosty.

It’s supposed to be full-bodied with a distinctive nutty, roasted aroma with a floral nose balanced by a gentle bitterness with a hint of sweetness. All of those flavours aren’t especially apparent but the beer is still pretty good. There is definitely a hint of something roasted (perhaps on an open fire?), but it’s certainly not full bodied – a fizzle rather than a bang. It’s pretty good, though and deserves a solid 7.5.

I may write a reflection or two in the new year nuzzling something interesting from the supermarket. But in the meantime, for anyone reading this, a very merry Christmas to you all!

Edit: At the end of the bottle and the glass, there was some unpleasant-looking sediment (see picture below). Not great, but as it’s Christmas I’ll not dock any points for this.

Craft beer advent caledar 23: Another Blooming Craft Ale

Well, we’re nearly at the end of this 24-day journey and I’m pleased to say that today’s beer looks pretty good. Another Blooming Craft Ale is the actual name of the beer and it’s a 3.8% ale with a rich amber look to it. The picture on the front looks like hops but I don’t really know that for sure.

The aroma is the honey note which I am getting used to with these hoppy beers. This one definitely has an edge to it, though, and that hoppy dryness is definitely there when tasting. It’s beautifully balanced and very drinkable. It leaves just enough weight on the palate to have a longish finish.

Really like this ale – I’m going to go so far as to give it an 8, the highest of the batch so far with only one to go.

Kat’s thoughts

It has a different smell. It actually tastes quite generic. From the smell I thought it was going to have a distinct taste – the smell is almost appley.

Craft beer advent calendar 22: Well’s Banana Bread Beer

Why?

 

Why make it? And why, if someone has to make it, do they have to put it in the craft beer advent calendar?

And why, if you have to put it in, does it need to be on day 22?

I have been looking forward to the advent calendar building up to something special. I am now slightly worried that day 24 will be “Christmas Turkey beer” or something similar. I am sure there are enough beers that they didn’t need to resort to this kind of gimmickry.

Apparently it’s made with real bananas. And you can smell them, as well. It’s not a good thing, when your beer smells of bananas, unless you’re expecting them and looking forward to it. If someone had bought me this pint without telling me what it was, I wouldn’t have tried it. But because I’m writing a blog, I at least have to try it.

It doesn’t taste good either. It’s got a banana taste to it. If you like banana bread or like that sort of thing, then maybe you’ll enjoy it – but I’d recommend you just go and eat a banana loaf. Me, I’m not going to have any more of this beer, and will get something else better to drink out of the fridge. 4/10.