I decided to dedicate the entire month of August to other spirits than rum. Naturally, this means mostly whiskies but other lovely spirits will find their way onto this blog as well. Generally, I think doing this is useful for several reasons:
- I also enjoy other spirits occasionally and believe that doing something else than rum for a few weeks will reduce the “blogging fatigue”. By that I mean breaking out of the usual habits, exploring something new and embracing new challenges. After all, it is exceedingly more difficult to describe your tasting associations in spirits with which you are less familiar.
- It’s always useful to see the bigger picture, which might make us appreciate our spirit of choice more. Also, we might learn a thing or two about rum by having a closer look at the production techniques, characteristics etc of these other spirits.
- Why not explore something else entirely? The prices of rum are going through the roof and maybe we can find some cheaper alternatives elsewhere. I’ve already found some real bang-for-buck alternatives in some other categories and will present some of them in the coming weeks.
To make the transition as smooth as possible for you and me, I decided to start with a bunch of Whiskies that have been finished in former Rum casks.
A Dream of Scotland “The Godfather of Peat” 10YO (Islay, Barbados Rum Finish, 53,3%): A Dream of Scotland is the Whisky label of the “Brühler Whiskyhaus”, who have been releasing rum under the name “Rumdealer’s Selection”. This one is also called “Der Heilige Bim Bam” by the way. Even though the distillery isn’t stated on the label, it’s an Islay distillery which requires more than one word to be spelled out. So it has to be Port Ellen, eh!? ;). The first nose reveals a very simple and typical Islay Whisky. Ham and bacon meet citrussy notes. There’s not a lot to be found here. At most I can assume a few exotic fruits but I’d say the rum cask cannot be found here. At the palate, the Whisky is just as flat. The smoke is now more akin to a bonfire/ charcoal and I can find plenty of wood and spices such as anise and cumin. Then citrus, ham and camomile. It would be nice to compare this to the same, non-finished Whisky but there is no way I would have called out the finish blindly. Finish: Quite long with wood, exotic fruits and charcoal. I have tasted many amazing bottlings by A Dream of Scotland but sadly, this isn’t one of them.
The Whisky Cask Bunnahabhain 2007 10YO (Islay, Port Mourant (Guyana) Rum Finish, 56,6%): This Whisky has been finished in the cask of the The Rum Cask Port Mourant 2009 8YO. I didn’t really enjoy the rum but oh boy, this Whisky is exactly what I’ve been looking for: a very nice and characteristic Whisky shaped by the very distinct notes of a Wooden Pot Still rum. And we can find plenty of the rum here. The anise notes dominates but not in an unpleasant way. Wet wood, prunes, barley, seaweed, teriyaki and salted caramel is what I am picking up. The nose is quite decent but the palate is even better. It’s so soft, full and round, it’s magnificent. There’s caramel, pecan nuts, nutmeg, hazelnuts, and of course the anise. Wow! At the danger of repeating myself: This is how to do rum finishes in Whisky. Finish: Short with seaweed and a weird bitterness. All in all a really complex expression. The rum cask enriched the Whisky without masking or changing it. A perfect symbiosis I believe. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to grab a bottle of this. But this only shows that others probably also liked this stuff quite a bit.
The Whisky Cask Macduff 1997 20YO (Speyside, Guyana Rum Finish, 57,1%): Nose: I get mostly barley and grain. Behind that lots of mangos and sweet peaches. Over time it moves from the former more and more to the latter. Now also corn and a bunch of different spices. I don’t think I can really notice the rum cask here, even less so am I able to tell you which distillate has been inside. Palate: Mild and soft with popcorn, salt, caramel and honey. Wow, the popcorn is awesome and I like the palate much, much more than the nose. I think I’ll have to look out for other Macduffs… Finish: Long with honey and salted popcorn later on. Nice! The nose is so-so but the flavour profile is very much to my liking. I am not sure what to attribute to the rum cask exactly but it is a nice Whisky! My guess is that the distillate would have worked in another barrel just as well.
The Whisky Cask Peat Bog 2017 (Islay, Jamaica (Hampden) Rum Finish, 56,2%): Another heavily peated one (should be Lagavulin) but this time we have a Hampden finish. As you may know, Hampden is one of my very favorite distilleries so I am curious what we can expect from this one. The nose is a very nice combination of the smoky Islay Whisky and the extremely fruity Jamaican rum barrel. Naturally, the whisky is way more dominant than the rum but the finish nicely enhances the natural flavours of the malt by adding sour apples and citrus notes to the mix of bacon and grain. The mouthfeel is a bit thin and weird at first and takes some time to getting used to. The smokeiness is now less pronounced and we get a very fruity Islay with mostly continental fruits. It’s definitely interesting but feels quite odd. Tasting this is a nice experience but I don’t think I would ever finish an entire bottle of this. The finish is long and offers more or less the same as the palate. All in all, this is much more interesting than the Godfather of Peat in my opinion.
and what would this session be without an official bottling…
Mackmyra Vinterdröm (Sweden, Barbados & Jamaica Rum Finish, 46,1%): Together with Stauning from Denmark, this Swedish producer is probably the most hyped European producer of Single Malt outside of Scotland right now. I’ve already had a Wine-finished bottling by Mackmyra which I did like a lot, let’s see how good this one is. Vinterdröm translates to winter dream by the way (who would have thought). Nose: Grain, hay, banana, oak and some seeds such as coriander or mustard. It’s okay but not too special. Palate: Hmm, what do we have here? Mustard, scallops and dill perhaps. This is almost like a non-smoky version of Ledaig. Then banana and some of the spices again. The finish is medium long with scallops and mustard seeds. Weird stuff but a solid product. It’s not bad but not very good either if you ask me.
The two Whiskies with a Guyana Rum Finish by The Whisky Cask are excellent. While one of them (Macduff) would have worked extremely well on its own, the other (Bunnahabhain) received a tremendous upgrade I’d say. Well done. The peaty versions in the Jamaican rum barrels were so-so. The bottling by A Dream of Scotland simply didn’t get enough from the barrel (maybe it has already been sucked-out entirely) while the Peat Bog just isn’t really to my liking. Islay in a Jamaican cask just isn’t an experiment that should be pursued any further if you ask me. Sure, it has its fans so what do I know. Finally, the Mackmyra is ok but once again, nothing I personally enjoy. They certainly do have other, superior expressions.