Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Jameson Original Ginger Grapefruit special

I attended a glamorous functions with the staff of Irish Distillers at The Lanzerac Hotel nestled between vineyard and shadowed by the most spectacular mountain range.

I came across an awesome Jameson long drink which was the signature drink for the night. Jameson Whiskey, Ginger Beer and a slice of Grapefruit with ice. It is my new long drink.

In a tall glass
50ml Jameson Original
250ml Ginger Ale
Slice of red Grapefruit
Muddle ingredients

Enjoy the drink. Have a blast because this is such an easy drink and you will want another and another,

Monday, 28 January 2013

Corsair Distillery since 2010

Every day I read about some new whiskey expression that does not conform. There are  many new whiskey distillers thinking out of the box. They ignore boundaries. Minor 'entirely new' innovation is coming from the big players, but sadly mostly not. I suppose it is indicative of a large corporate to be more sure. It is their responsibility to shareholders and stakeholders alike to minimise risk. It takes young ambitious socials who embrace opportunities and work around the clock desperately make a success of their love and passion.

The above photo is directly from Corsair Distillery website and remain their sole property. Fair use is made to link directly to their website by clicking on the photo.

Corsair Distillery, known as Corsair Artisan, received their license to distill early 2010. They have recently launched a triple smoked bourbon to compete with any Islay Single Malt Whisky. I find it remarkable that it has taken so long for Bourbon to step up. They have already won many awards at International Spirit championships. Now to get me a bottle!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

The Whisky Notebook StumbleUpon Likes

There are many articles of interest related to the drinks industry outside the scope of The Whisky Notebook environment. Many drinks industry articles of interest, but do not relate exclusively to whiskey, are therefore published to The Whiskey Notebook's StumbleUpon Account as well as on The Whiskey Notebook Google Plus Pages.

Most articles are published to Google Plus. The more 'out there' articles are published to StumbleUpon. Some articles that are of interest and often not related to drinks is also published exclusively to StumbleUpon.

The Full Fabulous Jameson Range - featured December 2012

This article is transferred from the feature section to the 'POSTS' section of The Whisky Notebook to make way for the new feature whiskey for January 2013. Check out this months feature whiskey - Aberlour Single Malt.

The Jameson Range includes Jameson Original, Jameson 12 year old Special Reserve, Jameson 18 year old Limited Reserve, Jameson Select Reserve, Jameson Gold Reserve, Jameson Signature Reserve and Jameson Vintage Reserve.

The various expressions of Jameson are each special .
Jameson Original is the reason I drink whiskey today. I started drinking Jameson Original with ginger ale. I still do but more often I drink Jameson with a splash of water. I now drink Jameson Select Reserve more often than Jameson Original. Jameson Select Reserve is a real bargain at the price - R100 more than Jameson Original but worth at least twice that.

Range rating: 97

Not the best five Single Malts - Mr Fa Fa.

In his recent article date 25 January 2013, titled: Five of The Best: Single Malts; published in the Financial Times, Mr. Andrew Jefford waxes on lyrically about his favourite whiskies. I don't mind Mr. Jefford sharing his personal taste with me and the rest of the world, but I am ever-so-slightly appalled by Mr. Jefford's crude slamming of whiskies I personally rate as some of the best available. 

I have immense respect for Mr. Andrew Jefford as a wine writer, journalist (award winning at that). I like Mr Jefford's Blog where you discover he is an Islay whisky fan. I appreciate his contribution to Decanter where he shares his in-depth wine knowledge. This does not assure me that Mr. Jefford is qualified as the single authority to decide the best five single malt whiskies. These are his favourite five. It goes without saying that I do not agree with Mr. Jefford's favourite five. After conducting a quick guerrilla market research I discover that none of my firends-in-whisky agree with this list either.

Mr Jefford Personally Tastes Over 600 Single Malts?
From his personal selection of single malts, which Mr. Jefford lists, I must assume that Mr. Jefford has personally gone about tasting the thousand's of Scotch single malt whiskies available. If Mr. Jefford tasted only one single malt from each of Scotland's distilleries he tasted at least one hundred single malts and did the comparative analysis. If he tasted each distillers full range of expressions he has tasted at least six hundred whiskies and did the comparative analysis of each one.

The Glenlivet is the quintessential Speyside single malt
In his struggle to find the perfect Speyside Malt Mr. Jefford chooses to refer to the world's two leading single malts, Glenfiddich and The Glenlivet as bland. I have huge regard for many whisky writers who refer to The Glenlivet as the Sean Connery of single malt and as the late whisky writer, Mr Michael Jackson stated - The Glenlivet is the quintessential single malt against which all other single malts are measured. Mr Jefford picks Craggonmore 12 year old at 40% ABV from Diageo?

The above photograph is the property of Mark Backhouse. If you copy and use the photo please state your source as: Mark Backhouse - - The Whisky Notebook
Aberlour Single Malt has won the Pure Pot Still trophy more than any other single malt whisky ever. Aberlour is easily the best Speyside single Malts ahead of Craggonmore anyday.

Aberfeldy Is The Better Highland Single Malt
For his best Highland Single Malt, Mr Jefford's second choice is Dalwhinnie 15 year old at 43% also from Diageo? Seriously! This is one of my least favourite whiskies which I find incredibly bland and lacking character. Both The Glenlivet and Glenfiddich have ten times more character than Dalwhinnie. I am also not partial to a particular smell I get from Dalwhinnie. I suggest the readers rather try any Aberfeldy or Glenmorangie Single Malt.

Highland Park is Good
Mr Jefford's third choice is a great choice. Highland Park 18 year old at 43%, owned by the Edrington Group is his thrid choice. I suggest the full range of Highland Park is awesome and deserves a place far ahead of his first two choices.

Laphroaig 10 year old 43% is also great
Mr Jefford's fourth choice is Laphroaig 10 year old cask strength (55.3%) owned by Beam Inc. and as far as the smokey whiskies are concerned I agree it is the better of the lot.

Springbank is Different
And finally, Mr Jefford's fifth choice is Springbank 10 year old 46% ABV. Although I have great respect for Springbank Single Malt I am not sure if it fits in as the fifth best single malt in the world. Don't get me wrong, this single malt is much better than Mr Jefford's number one and number two choice but would I have it in my own top five list? No!

In Closing
I suppose getting two out of five right is a good average if you want to be so arrogant about making a top list that you do not make clear and qualify as your own top five list. So much for taste. This kind of top five list is much like stating the five best colours in the world. At least we can source some stats to back up colour choice. Oh wait - which are the top selling whiskies in the world? Maybe we should look at some stats. I seriously do not understand how a reputable institution like the Financial Times end up publishing a list like this and then bother to copyright the article?

I cannot get Jeff Dunham's character "Peanut" out of my head. The scene is when Peanut swooshes his dummy hand over his own head and says "Jeff Fa Fa".

The Whisky Tasting Series - Part 2

In Part 1 we looked at the colour of whiskey and discovered that whiskey is aged in essentially two types of casks, namely ex-sherry or ex-bourbon casks. These not only affect the colour but also the taste of the whiskey. The industry also uses other oak casks such as those that previously held port, rum, wine etc. and each give a distinct flavour to the whiskey. Now onto part two.

In Part 2 we move to the nose.
We have four major tastes we experience on our palate plus 3 minor ones. The four major senses are sweet, sour salt and bitter. We sense over 96 million different smells with our nose. The nose is the real sensual organ and allows us to experience the wonderful world of taste fully. This is why you always spend time smelling your whiskey before sipping.

The Nose Test
To truly experience this revelation that your nose is the taster on your face, add some cinnamon powder to sugar in a teaspoon. Pinch your nose and close it tightly between thumb and forefinger. Pour the sugar and cinnamon mixture in the teaspoon into your mouth. It is a sure thing that all you taste is sweet sugar and no cinnamon. You will not taste the cinnamon until open your nose. Release your nose and once your nose is open the explosion of cinnamon is immediate and intense.

Photograph property of Mark Backhouse - if you copy and use this photograph please refer to source as Mark Backhouse - - The Whiskey Notebook.

How do we smell whiskey?

Do not swirl the glass like you do wine. Wine is at 14% ABV while whiskey and other spirits are 40% or more. Tilt and spin the glass to roll the spirit as high up the side of the glass as possible then bring the glass back to an upright position. Leave the glass to stand for 10-20 seconds then sniff the whiskey. This way you will smell the whiskey notes and not just spirit. More importantly, you will have started the legs!

The Legs & Some Party Trick
One of the first things you notice after you swirl the whiskey up the side of the glass and place it back down on the table is ‘legs’ - streams of liquid clinging to the side of the glass and flowing back into the whiskey. Generally ex-bourbon aged whiskies ‘legs’ are thin and ex-sherry cask whiskies ‘legs’ are thicker. Ex-bourbon casks leave a small meniscus line at the top of the swirl and thin legs flowing down the sidewall of the glass. Ex-sherry casks legs are much thicker. This has nothing to do with sugar as whiskey measures zero on the glucose index table and is the reason Doctors safely suggest whiskey as the only alcohol a diabetic may drink.

The thickness of the legs is important to remember. Fact: we re-use our whiskey casks, for ageing whiskey in, you may imagine that whiskey aged in ex-sherry casks that have been used four times before appear similar in colour to whiskey that was aged in ex-bourbon casks used for the first time. The thickness of the legs will give you a clue as to which cask was used to age the whiskey and knowing this will save you on many occasions.

Before you smell the whiskey, check the legs, if the legs are thick, you know the whiskey was aged in ex-sherry casks, and that you will smell toffee and caramel – the whiskey will be sweeter. If the legs are thin, the whiskey was aged in ex-bourbon casks, and you will smell vanilla – the whiskey will be drier.

What kind of smells can you expect?
Generally, when you sniff these whiskies, the first smell you get after the cask smell is as follows: American bourbon smells like over ripe bananas. Scotch whiskies smell different by region: Speyside Single Malt whiskey first smell is natural honey; Highland Malt whiskey first smell floral and summer fruits; Islay Malt whiskey first smell is smoke and medicine; Lowland Single Malt whiskey is light and winter fruit and Irish Whiskey first smell is pure pot still, wood, winey and barley notes.

Adding Water To Whiskey!
We then add water to the whiskey? The amount of water versus whisky is important. 45ml whiskey to 15 ml water is perfects for smelling and tasting whiskey. This is not how it is prescribed to be drunk but is best for a whiskey tasting. The type of water is also important. If you have great local supply in your tap (faucet), pour some tap water into into a jug and let it stand for 30 minutes so that the chlorine dissipates. After this it will be fine to the whiskey.

Photograph property of Mark Backhouse - if you copy and use this photograph please refer to source as Mark Backhouse - - The Whiskey Notebook.

The smell changes rather dramatically after we add the water. If you failed to smell the first smell before we added water, you will absolutely get this smell after we add the water. Some people still don’t get this first smell until they take a sip. Many new flavours come through after you add water.

American bourbon whiskey new smells after adding water includes hazelnut and almonds. In the case of Jack Daniels the next smell after adding water is dust. Yip Dust! If you do not have Jack Daniels in your drinks cabinet, then when next in a bar, order a Jack Daniels. So here’s the first party trick: in future, when someone asks you to nose a whiskey and the first smell is banana, you know it’s a bourbon and if you add water and you get dust, you know it’s Jack Daniels.

In the case of Speyside Scotch malts the next smell after water is more honey, floral and rich. In the case of Islay whiskies the smell reeks of smoke, phenolic, salt and seaweed. In the case of Lowland whiskies the notes are green grass and barley. These are general notes and vary vastly from product to product but in general are the top notes when talking through these types of whiskies.

In the case of Irish whiskey the next smell is moist raisins sweet melon and, marzipan. Irish whiskey is a lighter nose compared to American and Scotch whiskies. Impress your guests. See you in part 3

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Shanghai index down 0.49% as distilleries tumble

"China's high-end liquors face a grim future because the government is reining in excessive public spending. Weak demand due to a sluggish economy also erodes their profitability," BOC International (China) Ltd said in a report today. Link to full article HERE. Article from Sina Business News.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Happy Birthday Robert Burns - Born 25 January 1796

Scotland's favourite son, Robert Burns, was born on this day, 25 January, in 1796.

When Lincoln was asked to pen a toast to Robert Burn - it read as follows: "I cannot frame a toast to Burns. I can say nothing worthy of his generous heart and transcendent genius. Thinking of what he has said, I cannot say anything worth saying"

Lincoln's final reference to Burns happened on a boat sailing down the Potomac River in early April 1865: " . . .Burns never touched sentiment without carrying it to its ultimate expression and leaving nothing further to be said". 

Besides a loved son of Scotland, Burns became the 'peoples poet' of Russia. They even honoured him with a commemorative stamp in 1956. He is still well loved in Russia today.

Robert Burns dinners are being held in venues right across South Africa tonight. I shall have a dram in honour of a great man. Thirty Seven was much to young to pass but his legacy is forever.

Robert Burns died 21 July 1796. On this same day in 1990, Pink Floyds "The Wall" was performed where the Berlin Wall once stood. On this same day in 2005 we watch modern terror as four terrorist bombings target London's underground transportation system. On this day we rather honour the good in man.

Robbie Burns the Che of Yesterday

Robert Burns - "The Whiskey Notebook" honours your incredible genius and contribution to mankind. Your fellow Scottish brethren who have contributed to society so immensely are honoured with you today. James Watt for the steam engine, Alexander Graham  Bell for the telephone, John Loudon McAdam for better tarred roads, John Logie Beard for the Television, Alexander Fleming for Penicillin, Henry Faulds for fingerprinting, Robert Watson-Watt for Radar and the list goes on and on. We are, however, most pleased about the most important contribution the Scots have given to the world - this is without doubt Scotch Whisky! Cheers Robert Burns.

If you want to find out almost everything about the man, visit: You can even learn how to set up a Burns Supper on this site. 

The included picture above is available in google image search and remain the property of the creator.