Peat's Beast Cask Strength Review

“The Beauty Within the Beast“

Country: Scotland
Region: Unknown (Possibly Speyside)
Brand: Peat's Beast 
Type: Single Malt Whisky 
Released by: Fox Fitzgerald Ltd, Hereford, UK 
Age: NAS 
ABV: 52.1% (Cask Strength)
Chill-Filtration: No
Whisky Review # 579
Buying Advice: 😐 
Negative if you're not into Peated Whisky. If you're a fan of young Islay Whisky, the Peat's Beast could be an interesting alternative.

Colour: Golden Hay/Chardonnay (Perhaps Lightly Artificially Coloured) 

Nose: Floral Peat, Wet Soccer Field, light Smoke, light Ashes, light Soot, light Plastic, Medicine, Yeast, slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Toasted Cereals, Straw, Salted Peanuts, Vanilla, light Heather-Honey, Caramel, Orchard Fruit, Shell Fish or Fish on the BBQ, Lemon-Pepper, Cinnamon, Dried Herbs and hints of Dusty Road and Tobacco. There's a quite Young feel to the Noise and I would assume that 5-7 Year old whiskies were used for this Malt. The Alcohol is quite strong of course and it's not fully integrated. But it also doesn't interfere too much with the Nosing procedures. The Peat is strong but not in an aggressive way. With more cask time the Peat's Beast has certainly the potential to develop into a well-balanced whisky. It's good to give the Beast some time in the glass. This way the Fruity flavours are able to develop and after 20 minutes or so I found slightly Sour Apples and some Pineapple.   

Palate: Young and Strong with Earthy Peat, slightly Dirty Smoke, Soot, Ashes, Tar, Oak Char, Toasted Cereals, Caramel, Vanilla, Fish or Shell Fish on the BBQ, Salted Bacon, Sour Green Apples, Pineapple, Banana, Herbal Tea, Lemon, Licorice, Pepper, Cardamom, Cumin Gouda Cheese, Strong Black Espresso, Dark Chocolate, Cocoa Powder and Leather.    

Finish: Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet, slightly Hot, Spicy and Dry towards the end. I find Toasted Cereals, Earthy Peat, slightly Dirty Smoke, Soot, Tar, Ashes, Herbal Tea, Cumin Gouda Cheese, Leather, Caramel, Sour Apples, Grapefruit, Bacon, Oak Char, Vanilla, Pepper, Ginger, Cardamom, Licorice, Strong Black Espresso and Dark Chocolate with a high Cocoa content.     

I added a little Water and on the Nose, the Peat and Smoke retreat to give more space to Floral - and Citrus Aromas. On the Palate, the Fruit develops better. It does make the Finish rather Short and Thin. You can add a few drops but please don't overdo it.

Rating: 84 

Nose: 21 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 21 - Overall: 21

General Remarks: The Peat Beast was a monster that roamed the peat bogs of Scotland hunting down the purest dirtiest peat. Or so the legend tells us at least. In 2011, Fox Fitzgerald released the first Peat Beast in its honour with an ABV of 46% and a peat level of 30-35 ppm. Packaging and Presentation are very nice and the Beast was drawn by Brazilian born artist Doug Alves. In 2014 the Cask Strength expression that I am reviewing today hit the market. It's a big secret where this Single Malt was distilled. As there is no reference to Islay on the packaging I will assume it was not produced there. The Peat Beast is not Chill-Filtered and matured in Ex-Bourbon casks. It is priced at an average 50 US Dollars (December 2016). More recently, a Peat's Beast Cask Strength PX cask Finish has been released by Fox Fitz Fitzgerald.

Drinking Experience Neat: Good despite its obvious Youth.

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Good

Conclusion: First of all I would like to give kudos to Fox Fitzgerald for the nice Story, Presentation and Packaging of the Peat's Beast. The marketing part really deserves full marks. As for the whisky itself, it's certainly not bad if you are into peated whiskies. The Peat is strong of course but not in an aggressive way. The ABV is probably a tad too high for such a young Spirit. And here we come to the main issue. The Peat's Beast is a young whisky and it did not get time to fully take advantage of the wood contact. And that's a real pity because I believe that this Spirit would benefit tremendously from a longer maturation, especially in terms of balance. I would love to try a 12 Years Cask Strength version! Well, who knows what the future holds. Because there is certainly beauty within this beast. Finally, do I have an idea where this Single Malt was distilled? Honestly I don't have a clue. The only thing I can say is that the Peat's Beast reminded me of a more mature version of the BenRiach Birnie Moss that I reviewed earlier. But your guess is as good as mine! 

Jan van den Ende                                                                December 5, 2016

Could this be the home of the Beast?

Crested Ten Review

“We 'll Drink…..Until We Sink”

Country: Ireland
Region: N/A
Brand: Crested Ten
Type: Triple Distilled Irish Whiskey
Distilled by: Jameson
Age: NAS (Contains 7-8 Years Old Pot Still Whiskey)
ABV: 40%
Chill-Filtration: No
Whisky Review # 578
Buying Advice: 😐  Neutral. If you like Jameson, the Crested Ten is a good option. It's nothing special though.

Colour: Golden (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: Sweet Cereals, Malt, Buttered Toast, Caramel, Toffee, Resin, Hay, Brown Sugar, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Honey Melon, Dried Apricot, White Chocolate, Citrus Peel, Raisins, Nuts, Nectarine, Cinnamon, Ginger, Fresh Mint, New Oak and a hint of Dust.  The Sherry casks are certainly noticeable. The Alcohol is not fully integrated but it doesn't really interfere with the Nosing procedures. On the Nose, the Crested 10 is quite pleasant and easy-going but don't expect a lot of depth and complexity. It's funny but after 15 minutes or so I thought I got a light hint of Sweaty Socks. Nothing serious though! Maybe I'm just drinking too much whisky!

Palate: The delivery is on the Thin side and the Alcohol is more noticeable now. The relative youth of the Spirit becomes quite clear now. It's mostly Sweet but with a little Bitter Herbal note towards the end. I find Sweet Cereals, Toffee, Butterscotch, Vanilla, Milk Chocolate, Resin, Straw, Heather-Honey, Toasted Oak, Melon, Orange peel, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Mint and Dried Herbs.   

Finish: Short and a little Edgy. It's mostly Sweet but a little Bitterness pops up towards the end as well as a light Metallic off-note. The Alcohol is quite present here as well. I also find Sweet Cereals, Butterscotch, Vanilla, Milk Chocolate, Toffee, Nuts, Heather-Honey, Nectarine, Cherry Flavoured Candies, Melon, Charred Oak, Dusty Road, Cocoa Powder (Toddy), Pepper, Cinnamon, Mint and Ginger. 

The Crested Ten does not improve with added Water. It simply becomes too Thin.

Rating: 81.5 

Nose: 21 - Taste: 20 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 20.5

General Remarks: The Crested Ten was launched in 1963 and is a Blended Irish Whiskey, made with Grain Whiskey and a fairly high percentage (60%) of Single Pot-Still Whiskey, partly aged in Ex-Sherry casks and partly in Ex-Bourbon barrels. Recently the Crested Ten has been replaced by the Crested. Name, bottle and presentation are new but the Blend itself remained the same. It is priced at an average 40 US dollars (November 2016) but it's not easy to find outside Ireland.

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good

Conclusion: The Crested Ten is perfectly drinkable, even dangerously so. But it's also a little Harsh and Thin and I did find a couple of odd off-notes. It's a tad better than the standard Jameson but it suffers from something I find in almost all affordable Irish Whiskey. It completely misses the Wow factor. As soon as you swallow the stuff you have forgotten all about it. It's a drinking Whiskey but not a sipping Whiskey. If you love Jameson you can't go wrong with the Crested Ten. If you're looking for an Irish Whiskey that is a little more special, you might consider Yellow Spot, Green Spot or Redbreast.  

Jan van den Ende                                                              November 24, 2016

The Old Jameson Stills

Chivas Regal Mizunara Review

“Scotland Meets Japan”

Country: Scotland
Brand: Chivas Regal Mizunara (Special Edition)
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Age: 12 Years
ABV: 40%
Chill-Filtration: Yes
Whisky Review # 577
Buying Advice: 😕 At 30 US Dollars you might give it a try.

Colour: Amber (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: The Mizunara tones are quite clear, even slightly dominant. The Grain Alcohol is there as well and the two of them are the main drivers on the Nose. It's all a bit Thin and the ABV of 40% is most certainly inadequate. In addition to the Wood and Alcohol, I find Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Toffee, Straw, Grass, Pizza Dough, light Vanilla, Nuts, Dried Apricot, Nectarine, Pear, Banana, Fresh Herbs, Citrus Peel, light Honey and traces of Black Tea and Tobacco.   

Taste: The delivery is quite Thin and the Wood is pretty dominant again. The Fruity tones are merely noticeable in the background. I find Toasted Cereals, Grain Alcohol, light Vanilla, Banana, Pear Drops, Salted Nuts, Dried Apricot, Orange Peel, light Honey, Straw, Pepper, Ginger, Cinnamon, Clove, Herbal Tea and Licorice.  

Finish: Middle-Long, slightly Tannic and mainly Sweet. There's a light Bitterness towards the end that reminds me of Black Tea and Salted Licorice. I also find Toasted Cereals, Grain Alcohol, Sugar, Caramel, Toffee, Oak, Nut Shells, light Peanut Butter, Banana, light Vanilla, Pepper, Clove, Ginger and Aniseed. It's the weakest part of this Blend.   

With added Water the Alcohol subsides and the Nose becomes quite Floral. The Mizunara Wood remains present. Palate and Finish become too Thin however.

Rating: 73   

Nose: 20 - Taste: 18 – Finish: 17 - Overall: 18

General Remarks: The Chivas Regal Mizunara was launched in October 2014. A trip to Japan inspired Chivas Master Distiller Colin Scott to create a Blend using 12 Year Old Scottish Grain - and Malt Whiskies partly finished in Casks made from Mizunara (Japanese Oak) wood. Quite unique I would say. It was intended for the Japanese market but in the meantime some bottles are available outside Japan as well. The main malts used in this Blend are Strathisla and Longmorn. The price of the Mizunara may vary considerably depending on where you live. I have noticed prices between 30 and 70 US Dollars (November 2016).

Drinking Experience Neat : Okay/Average

Conclusion: It's basically a standard 12 Years with Mizunara finish. This wood gives an additional Aroma/Flavour to the Blend but it also tends to dominate the other Flavours and Aromas, especially the Fruity ones, leaving the Blend rather off-balance. And that's a pity. I liked the experiment but I don't see this being continued in the long run. I think that a solid, powerful Single Malt could benefit from a Mizunara Finish but this Wood is too dominant for your average Grain Alcohol. The idea was interesting but in my opinion it didn't quite work out well enough.

Jan van den Ende                                                              November 28, 2016

anCnoc Cutter Review

“Guilty Pleasure” 

Country: Scotland
Region: Highland (Eastern)
Brand: anCnoc Cutter (Limited Peated Edition 20.5 ppm)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Distilled at: Knockdhu
Age: NAS
ABV: 46%
Chill-Filtration: No
Whisky Review # 576
Buying Advice:😐 Interesting alternative for Peat lovers. Stay away if you're not into Young Peated Whisky. Perhaps a little too expensive!

Colour: Pale Straw/White Wine (Natural Colour)

Nose: The Peat Aroma is surprisingly coastal for a peated Highlander. I find Iodine, Campfire Smoke, Dusty Earth, light Soot and Tar, Cigar Ashes, Salted Meat on the BBQ, Sweet Malted Cereals, slightly Burnt Toast, Toffee, light Cocoa Powder, Mocca, Salted Nuts, light Vanilla, light Heather-Honey, Demerara Sugar, Charred Oak, Lemon Peel, Herbs (Mint), a little Dark Chocolate and some Mineral/Metallic notes. The Alcohol is not fully integrated and comes across as a little aggressive. There are some Fruity notes but they are hidden under a screen of Peat. Give the Cutter some time in the glass and you will find some Nectarine. On the Nose the Cutter is not unpleasant but the Peaty Aromas are very dominant and the Alcohol is a little harsh. The Cutter could have done with some more time in the cask, that's for sure. 

Palate: Quite Young, a little Edgy but still quite interesting. I find Dusty Earth, Campfire Smoke, Cigar Ashes, Soot and Tar, Iodine, Toasted Cereals, slightly Burnt Toast, Salted Nuts, Dried Herbs, Leather, Apple Juice or Cider, Nectarine, light Vanilla, Citrus Peel, Lemon-Pepper, Aniseed, Espresso and Dark Chocolate.    
Finish: Quite Long, Peaty, Spicy and Fruity with Dusty Peat, Campfire Smoke, Cigar Ashes, Iodine, Soot and Tar, slightly Burnt Toast, Bread Dough, Toasted Cereals, Apple, Pear, Lemon - and Orange Peel, Pepper, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Aniseed, Salted Nuts, Grapefruit Juice, Leather, Espresso and Dark Chocolate. This is my favourite part of the Cutter.

I added a little Water and the Nose becomes quite Floral while the Peat and Smoke retreat. Quite Fruity and a little Floral as well on the Palate. The Finish is a bit on the Short Side this way. Still, you can carefully experiment with a couple of drops.

Rating: 85.5

Nose: 21 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 22 - Overall: 21.5

General Remarks: The Knockdhu distillery was constructed in 1893 by DCL. It closed 90 years later in 1983 but was acquired in 1988 by Inver House Distillers Ltd. Production started again in 1989. Most of the whisky is used in blends like Haig, Hankey Bannister and Pinwhinnie. In 1993 Knockdhu started to market its Single Malt under the name anCnoc. They did this to avoid confusion with the Knockando distillery in Speyside. The core range consists of the 12, 18 and 24 Years. In 2014 some Limited Peated Editions were launched under the names of Rutter, Laughter, Tushkar and Cutter, all of them tools used in the extraction of Peat. This peated range was replaced in 2015/2016 by Rascan, Peatlands and Stack. The anCnoc Cutter I'm reviewing today was the peatiest whisky of the 4 released in 2014 with 20.5 ppm, measured over the finished Malt. It matured in Ex-Bourbon casks. It is still available in places at an average price of around 55 US Dollars (November 2016).   

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion: I kinda liked the Cutter although I probably shouldn't have. It's a Young Whisky, it's still rather immature and the Peaty Aromas and Flavours are quite dominant while the Alcohol is noticeable. But somehow there's just enough Fruit and Spices to keep things interesting. The Finish is really long considering the relatively short maturation. It's also surprisingly Briny and Coastal for a non Islay Whisky and in a Blind Tasting the Cutter could have been easily identified as a young Islay Malt. It's not very cheap for a NAS whisky but I have to admit that the people at Knockdhu did a decent job here. I feel that many of you might disagree with me on the Cutter as it's easy to consider it to be just a Young, Peaty NAS whisky. But take your time with this one as I did and you might come to respect the Cutter. A bit of a Guilty Pleasure, this one!

Jan van den Ende                                                              November 24, 2016

Boxing Hares Review

“Raising Hairs”

Country: Scotland/USA/Germany
Brand: Boxing Hares
Type: Spirit Drink (Flavoured Whisky)
Bottled By: Whiskey Union - Released March 2016.
Age: NAS
ABV: 35%
Chill-Filtration: Yes
Contains: Stabiliser E-414 and Malt Aroma.
Whisky Review # 575
Buying Advice: 😢  Negative. There are cheaper and better alternatives if you are looking for a mixing Alcohol.

Colour: Golden Sunset (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: The Bitter-Sweet Hop Aromas are fighting the Industrial Grain Alcohol and it's an uneasy battle. Boxing Hares does not really smell like Whisky although I do find Malted Cereals in the mix. But the Aromas remind me more of a mix of Beer and Obstler. Besides the mentioned Aromas I also get Pine Needles, light Caramelised Pineapple, Artificially Cherry-Flavoured Cough Drops, slightly Sour Apple Juice or Cider, Nougat, Ginger and some Floral - and Mineral tones. It's all quite Light and Young and not totally unpleasant. But it's got little to do with Whisky as we know and love it.

Palate: Thin, very Harsh and Sugary Sweet in an almost undrinkable way. This is not at all a pleasant experience. I have to force myself to take another sip. I find Grain Alcohol, Artificially Cherry-Flavoured Cough Drops, Sugar lumps that have been soaked in Alcohol, Hop, Bitter Apple Juice or Cider, Gin flavoured with Artificial White Grape Aroma, light Pineapple and Nougat. 

Finish: Short but still too long! The main drivers are the Sugar, the Alcohol and the light Bitterness of the Hop.   

Added Water does not ease the Pain!

Rating: 55

Nose: 17 - Taste: 12 - Finish: 12  - Overall: 14

General Remarks: Boxing Hares is a mix of Blended Scottish Grain Whiskies and two Hop varieties namely Cascade, used in the production of American craft beers and Hallertau, used in the making of German Pilsner. It was created by Pete Brewin, a master distiller at Whiskey Union, a creative collective, looking for unconventional Blends and flavour sensations. It's part of the Diageo Group and its products are distributed a/o by Flaviar who describe themselves as " a band of Spirit enthusiasts inspired by culture, rich history and also the art of distillation who forage the world of Spirits for the finest, rarest and most unique expressions out there and pack it all into a 21st century Members Club". Boxing Hares is priced in the 20-25 US Dollar range (November 2016). Whiskey Union also released Smoky Goat, a blended Scotch Whisky and Huxley, a blend of Scotch, Canadian and American Whisk(e)y. I will review these two in the coming months as well.

Drinking Experience Neat: On the Nose, the Boxing Hares is okay but the rest is rather unpleasant.

Conclusion: In principal I am a huge fan of innovation. As such, I fully applaud the initiatives of Whiskey Union and Diageo. Only with research and initiative we can create wonders. But in this process we will inevitably create monsters as well and I'm afraid that Boxing Hares is one of them. On the Nose it's still okay although it reminds me more of Beer and Obstler than of Whisky as such. But Palate and Finish are so obnoxiously - and artificially Sweet that this Spirit drink becomes almost undrinkable. Adding Water and/or Ice does not solve this problem. I can only imagine drowning it in Ginger Ale or Tonic but why would I need Boxing Hares for that. Any cheap Gin or Vodka would do the job as well. I am sure that Diageo is aiming at the young mixing public with Boxing Hares and I will admit that the presentation and bottle are actually quite nice. But I do not think this product has a bright future although you never know of course. When I think about the Tasting experience I imagine "Raising Hairs" instead of Boxing Hares. But that wouldn't do commercially would it!

Jan van den Ende                                                              November 21, 2016

Bowmore 12 Years Review

“The Road to Islay”
Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bowmore
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 12 Years
ABV: 40%
Chill-Filtration: Yes
Buying Advice: 😀  Fully Recommended. Excellent Price/Quality Ratio.
Whisky Review # 574

Colour: Golden Amber (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: Classic Bowmore with Toasted Malt, Buttered Toast, Coastal Peat, Brine, Coal Smoke, light Tar and Soot, Cigar Ashes, Iodine, Leather, light Vanilla, light Shell Fish, Sour Apples, Citrus Peel, Mango Creme, Dark Red Fruit (Berries and Grapes), very light Honey, Straw, Dusty Road, Pepper and Ginger. Everything is nicely balanced but this Single Malt really deserves a higher ABV.  

Palate: Quite Strong and Spicy delivery despite the standard ABV. I find Iodine, Brine, Peat, Smoke, Soot, Tar, Leather, Charred Oak, Dried Herbs, Citrus Peel, light Vanilla, Nuts, Mango, light Honey, Dark Red Fruit, Cocoa Powder, Burnt Toast, Toasted Barley, Pepper, Ginger and Licorice.   
Finish: Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet, Dry, Smoky, Spicy and Salty. The Bitterness increases towards the end. I find Sweet Barley, slightly Burnt Toast, Peat, Coal Smoke, Brine, Charred Oak, Soot, Tar, Cigar Ashes, Hospital, Iodine, Straw, Nuts, Lemon, Bitter Tea, Leather, Pepper, Ginger, Honey, Dried Herbs, Mango, Licorice and Dark Chocolate.

I added a little Water and on the Nose, the Peaty Aromas make way for Citrus and a Tropical Fruit Mix sprinkled with Heather-Honey. Palate and Finish become too Thin for my taste but you can carefully experiment with a few drops.

Rating: 87

Nose: 22 - Taste: 22 - Finish: 21.5 - Overall: 21.5

General Remarks: The Bowmore Distillery was founded in 1779 by John Simpson. It's the oldest Islay distillery, located in Bowmore. Since 1994 it is completely owned by Morrison Bowmore Distilleries, part of the Japanese Suntory Group. It's one of the very few Scottish Distilleries with an active Malting Floor that provides around 30% of the Malt used by Bowmore. The 12 Years is part of Bowmore's core range for the domestic markets alongside the Darkest 15 Years, the 18 Years, the 25 Years as well as the NAS Small Batch Reserve. The average price is around 45 US Dollars (November 2016). 

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion: The Bowmore 12 is an excellent Malt to start your Islay Whisky adventure. It's a typical Islay whisky, make no mistake, but the Peat and Smoke levels are quite moderate when compared to most of the other Islay icons like Ardbeg or Laphroaig. This Bowmore is very well-balanced and consistent from Nose to Finish. The price tag is attractive and the Price/Quality ratio is really excellent. Much better than most of the NAS whiskies that are currently thrown at us at higher prices. The only issue I have with the 12 Years is the low ABV. This could have been a great whisky at 46%. But that would have made it more expensive of course. Nevertheless, I can fully recommend the Bowmore 12. A great start on your Road to Islay.     

Jan van den Ende                                                              November 18, 2016