Best Shot Whisky Reviews.

Hello everybody and welcome,

Today Jan's Whisky Paradise is 10 months young. And it's great to see that it's appreciated all over the world. Today we will pass the 58.000 Page Views and people from over 150 countries have visited the site. And an average page-view of well over 3 is absolutely great. So first of all I would like to thank all of you for your kind interest in Whisky and Classic Rock during these last 10 months. But there have also been some complaints of course and I would be stupid not to take them into account. The first complaint was about the font that I used from the beginning (Lucida Handwriting). Too many people had trouble reading it so I replaced it in the meantime and all posts are now made in Verdana. The second complaint was the fact that people couldn't find me in Google or other Search engines when they couldn't remember the full name of the site. And also the engines would not refer to the site when they were looking for the Tasting Notes of a specific whisky or bourbon. I have decided to do two things about that. As of tomorrow I will transfer the site from a to a full . com. And secondly, also as of tomorrow although the full implementation might take a week or so, I will change the name of the site from Jan's Whisky Paradise in Best Shot Whisky Reviews.
I chose the new name for a couple of reasons. In the first place the name now contains the important part Whisky Reviews. This will make it easier for the search engines to relate to the site. And secondly of course I am always looking for the Best Shots of Whiskies around. Tomorrow I will confirm the final new name so you can hopefully add it to your favourites.
The Name changes but the contents will remain the same. I will continue to review whiskies from all over the world and in all price categories. I hope and trust you will continue to follow the site with interest and look forward to your reactions.
See you all back tomorrow for definite Name and Web-Address!

Whyte and Mackay 19 Years Review

Country: Scotland
Brand: Whyte & Mackay
Type: Blended Whisky
Age: 19 Years
Alcohol: 40%

Colour: Deep Golden

Nose: More mature than the Thirteen and with notably less Alcohol. Sultanas, Figs, Malt, Licorice, Oak, Sherry, Red Wine. Hints of Honey, Nutmeg and Bourbon. In a blind tasting I could have easily thought that this whisky had been finished in Red Wine Barrels or Port Pipes. I would describe this as a Dark Nose with Dark Fruits, Dark Wine and Charred Oak.

Taste: Rich and Fruity, Sweet Grain, Dark Chocolate, Black Pepper, Nuts, Sultanas, Honey, Toffee and Oak.

Finish: Licorice, Oak, Toffee, Sultanas, Honey, Cherries and light Pepper.

When you add a bit of water, the Nose reveals a bit more Stone Fruit like Pears and more Honey and Vanilla. On the Palate, Honey and Sweet Grain take control while Licorice and Black Pepper dominate the Finish. I prefer it neat but there is sufficient room to experiment with a couple of drops.

Rating: 84 

Nose 21.5 – Taste 21 – Finish 20.5 – Overall 21

General Remarks: Allan & Poynter started as a warehouse in 1843 in Glasgow, gradually getting into the business of storing whiskies as well. The company changed hands various times before it was sold to Whyte & Mackay. Soon afterwards these two partners started to blend whisky. Between 1900 and 1950 the company survived despite the World Wars and the recession. In the sixties things became better. After a large number of take-overs, United Spirits from India took control in 2007. At the moment, the Diageo Group is making a bid for a stake in the company (September 2012).

The blend is made following the Double Marriage process and has a larger Malt content than the Thirteen. First, Single Malts mature in Oak Barrels for at least 18 Years. These Malts are then married and transferred to Sherry Casks from Jerez for another year. Finally, this Malt Blend is mixed with Grain Whiskies before bottling.

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Good

Conclusion: This is certainly a step up from the Thirteen. There is hardly any Alcohol that hinders the Nosing of this Dram. It’s quite smooth and mature. Despite the 19 years, the Wood is not very dominant. If anything, I find this Blend a little on the dark and moody side. A bit too much Speyside perhaps but in the end that’s a matter of personal taste. As it is, the 19 is a good Blend with a reasonable price tag.

Jan van den Ende                                                        September 27, 2012

Green Spot Review

Country: Ireland
Brand: Green Spot
Type: Single Pot Still Whiskey
Age: NAS but said to be 7-8 Years
Alcohol: 40%
Date: 25/09/2012

Colour: Pale Golden (quite different from the picture).

Nose: Strong and Rich Malt and Honey are followed by Oak, Sherry, Citrus, Vanilla, Butter and Toffee or Butterscotch. Hints of Sherry and Cooked Prunes, Strawberries and other Red Fruits. You need lots of patience though because you have to work your way around quite a bit of Alcohol in the first half hour or so. That’s a pity. Otherwise the Nose would score even higher. But your patience is rewarded in the end. The Green Spot certainly possesses an interesting Nose!

Taste: Quite dry actually but very crisp with lots of Caramel, Vanilla, Toffee, Honey, Malt , Oak, Ginger and Black Pepper. A hint of Cherries.

Finish: Short and very Dry with Toffee, Honey, Clover, Black Pepper, Oak and Lemon.

I added a couple of drops of Water and came to regret it although it eliminates the Alcohol once and for all. The Nose now smells of Wafers and Peach Marmalade. Quite nice in itself but the other flavors are muted. Palate and Finish are merely watered down. Therefore I would advise to drink the Green Spot neat.

Rating:  84  

Nose 22 – Taste 21 – Finish 20 – Overall 21

Part of the New Middleton (Jameson) Distillery in Cork.

General Remarks: This whiskey is produced at the Pernod-Ricard owned New Middleton Distillery, Cork for Mitchell & Sons of Dublin. It’s the only Irish Brand that is thus distributed by an independent spirit merchant. About 25% is matured in ex-Sherry Casks and the remainder in used Bourbon Casks. It’s made purely of malted and un-malted Barley and is triple-distilled. Only a very limited amount of bottles (around 6000) is produced each year and it is difficult to find this dram outside Ireland. But the new parent company Pernod-Ricard will certainly increase production as demand is booming!

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion: This is the best Irish whiskey I have tasted so far. The Nose is quite nice and would be better still if there wasn’t so much Alcohol around during the first half hour or so of the Nosing session. The Palate is maybe a wee bit too dry and the Finish is very dry and short. Still, this is a whiskey I would drink again if I got the chance. In this case it’s a pity I only had a 2 cl sample!

Jan van den Ende                                                       September 2012

Mitchell & Sons in Dublin where most of the Green Spot Whiskey is sold.

Black Velvet Reserve 8 Years Review

Country: Canada
Brand: Black Velvet Reserve
Imported in the USA by -and Bottled for Black Velvet Import Company, Canandaigua, NY.
Type: Blended Canadian Whisky
Age: 8 Years
Alcohol: 40%
Date: 23-09-2012

Colour: Light Golden

Nose: As happens so often with cheaper whiskies, my first impressions are Grains (Rye in this case), remarkably young Oak for an 8 Years and a bit of Alcohol. I left the glass for about half an hour but still I can’t get much else. Maybe a wee bit of Caramel, lightly buttered Toast and Lemon.

Taste: Less harsh than I expected after the Nose with some Caramel, Green Oak, Lemon, Pepper and a hint of Honey. It’s amazing that 8 years of Oak barrels added so little flavour to the spirit.

Finish: Very Short with White Pepper, Green Oak, Toffee and Licorice.

I added a couple of drops of water but that just waters things down. No need to add water. If anything, the Licorice in the Finish is enhanced. Maybe a very faint hint of Fruit on the Nose.

Rating: 70 
Nose: 17.5 – Taste: 18 – Finish: 17 – Overall: 17.5

General Remarks: The Black Velvet Reserve 8 Years is a Blend of Corn Base Spirits, partly matured Rye, Corn flavouring whiskies and some Corn – and Rye high wines. Black Velvet nowadays is owned by Barton Brands Inc. and is distilled, aged and blended in Lethbridge, Alberta at the Black Velvet (Palliser) Distillery.

Drinking Experience Neat: Average

Conclusion: I’m really surprised with the lack of flavors in this 8 Years Old Blend. It’s hard to believe that quality Oak was used to mature this whisky. I can’t really say it’s a bad spirit. I didn’t find any off-notes. In fact I practically didn’t find anything at all! It’s cheap in the USA, probably 12-15 Dollars. So you might use it in Long Drinks I suppose although Bourbons are better suited for that purpose. The Black Velvet Reserve 8 Years is drinkable but it has too few flavors to really enjoy it neat.

Jan van den Ende                                                                 September 2012

Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban Review

Country: Scotland
Brand: Glenmorangie The Quinta Ruban
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Region: Highland
Age: NAS
Alcohol: 46%

Colour: Golden Amber with a Reddish Glow

Nose: Port Wine, Red Grape Juice, Oak, Malt, Fresh Cut Grass, Strong Citrus Fruit (Tangerine, Orange, Grapefruit) and Nutmeg. After a while Vanilla, Pears, Honey, Buttered Toast and light Acetone. There is some green Wood and a bit of Alcohol around that leads me to believe that some younger whisky might have been used in this expression. Otherwise I would have scored the Nose a full point higher. The Alcohol is particularly strong when you have just opened the (in this case 10cl.) bottle. It’s essential to give this dram some air before starting to nose it. 

Taste: Strong delivery thanks to the 46% with Orange-Chocolate, Red Grapes, Port Wine, Tangerine, Honey, Malt, Oak, Cocoa, Spices (Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, White Pepper) Raisins, Nuts and Dried Apricots.

Finish: Warming. Port Wine, Bitter Orange, Mint, Spices (Cloves, Ginger and White Pepper), Aniseed. The Bitter Orange stays around for a while.

With a bit of Water you tone down the Alcohol on the nose but loose a bit of the intensive Fruit. On the Palate the Spices loose their power and the Red Wine/Red Grape Juice and Orange impressions increase. Lots of Cooked Dark Red Fruits and Red Wine on the Finish. This dram certainly allows you to experiment with a couple of drops.

Rating: 84 

Nose  21– Taste 22 – Finish 20 – Overall 21

General Remarks: This Single Malt has probably matured for 10 years in American White Oak and 2 years in Ruby Port pipes from Portugal. But it’s NAS so younger whiskies could have been included. It’s Non-Chill-filtered. It replaces the  12 Years Port Wood Expression.

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion: I found this dram not so easy to judge. On the one hand I’m not really a fan of Red Wine Finishing. Somehow the combination of Whisky and Red Wine does not quite work for me. Especially on the Palate and in the Finish I find that the Red Wine generally takes too much control. On the other hand this is the best Red Wine Finishing I’ve tasted so far. The Nose is quite nice although it takes a long time to open up. Not sure how much of this, if any, is caused by the 10 cl bottle. On the Palate the strong Port Wine tones are counter-balanced by the Orange flavoured Chocolate and the Spices. The Finish is the weakest part of this dram. All in all however I find the Quinta Ruban quite enjoyable although I wouldn’t drink this every day. But occasionally, as an after dinner dram with Coffee and a fine dark Chocolate, the Quinta Ruban will do just fine.

Jan van den Ende                                                         September 21, 2012

Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Review

Country: USA
Brand: Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey
Type: Honey Liqueur
Age:  NAS
Alcohol: 35%

Colour: Yellow Hay/Straw

Nose: It’s Sweet but not quite as Sweet as I would have thought it to be. You can still smell the Old # 7 here. I also had expected to get a lot of Honey upfront but instead my first impressions are Maple Syrup, Spices (Pepper and Cinnamon), Vanilla and Charred Oak. At the borders of the glass I get Bananas. I think I’m getting Honey as well but it’s a bit Sugary and, well, artificial.

Taste: Very Sweet and Syrupy with Cinnamon, Tangerines, Oak and Sugared Honey. I miss a bit of balance here. You can drink it neat if you like.

Finish: Bittersweet with Maple Syrup, Vanilla, light Spices and Cocoa Powder.

With a couple of drops of water, the Nose becomes more restrained but not in an unpleasant way. I get Sweet Corn, Oak, Apple-Pie and Buttered Toast. Palate and Finish don’t change a lot and just get watered down. I did get a bit of Cherries in the Finish. I smelled the empty glass after a while and the Honey was much clearer at that point. Interesting that! I would suggest that the people at Jack Daniels have another look at how to optimise the infusion process. But then again, who am I to suggest that!

On the Rocks, the Honey develops better on the Nose and smells less artificial. The Palate is much less Sugary and it becomes highly drinkable with a touch of Honey and Cherries. Drinkable to a point where it can become dangerous! It does have 35% Alcohol in the end. My advice to you is clear. Drink Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey on the Rocks or mix it in your favourite cocktail. Cheers!

Rating 76.5 

Nose: 20 – Taste: 19 – Finish: 18.5 – Overall: 19

General Remarks: The Jack Daniels Distillery is located in Lynchburg (Tennessee). It was indeed founded by a man called Jack Daniel in 1866 and it stayed in the family until 1956 when it was bought by Brown Forman from Kentucky.
The Tennessee Honey was released in early 2011.

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Good

Conclusion: I had expected a bit more of this. The combination does not work out that well for me. And that’s not the fault of the Old # 7 although the 35% Alcohol is on the weak side of course. But it’s the Honey that I found wanting. On the Nose it’s hardly there and on the Palate and Finish it has an artificial feeling to it. On the Rocks, this liqueur is highly drinkable though!

Jan van den Ende                                                       September 17, 2012

Locke's 8 Years Review

Country: Ireland
Brand: Locke’s
Type: Single Malt (Pure Pot Still)
Age: 8 Years
Alcohol: 40%
Date: 15/09/2012

Colour: Golden Sunlight

Nose: Lots of Malt. Oak, Honey and Citrus. Very light Peat and some Fruit tones. Walnut shells. The empty glass smells like Oatmeal Porridge with Sugar and Honey.

Taste: Sweet Barley, bit of Pepper, Honey. Hints of Peach and Orange zest. Quite dry altogether.

Finish: Short and quite dry with Malt, Oak, Honey and Pepper.

I added a bit of Water and you get even more Malt on the Nose. Bit of extra Fruit as well. I prefer to nose it without Water but there’s room to experiment. On the Palate and on the Finish the Sweet - and Wood tones are a bit more accentuated and the Pepper is toned down somewhat. The Finish gets some Sweet Licorice. Certainly worth while to try it out both ways.

Rating: 79.5
Nose: 20.5 – Taste: 20 – Finish: 19 – Overall: 20

Locke’s Distillery Museum

General Remarks: This whiskey was originally made by John Locke’s & Sons distillery near Kilbeggan and is named after John Locke, an important person in the Irish Whiskey Industry. It is currently produced by the Cooley distillery and is a blend of some of their Malts. It was officially released in 2000 and is double distilled in Pot Stills. Around 10% of the Malt used is peated. This whiskey is difficult to find outside Ireland.

Drinking Experience Straight: Good

Conclusion: Another Irishman put to the test! Locke’s 8 year Single Malt is certainly not a bad dram. But the Barley is very dominant and leaves little space for anything else. Whatever the reason, I would really like to see a bit more personality. It’s harmless but will not linger in your mind for a long time. And that’s a pity really!

Jan van den Ende                                                                September 2012

Glen Edward' s Pure Malt Blend Review

Country: Scotland
Brand: Glen Edward’s
Type: Blended Malt Whisky
Bottled by: Bardinet Group, Bordeaux
Age: NAS (Probably around 3-5 Years)
Alcohol: 40%

Colour: Dark Amber

Nose: Light in character. Young Oak and Harsh Alcohol form the Welcome Committee followed by some Malt, Brown Sugar, Hay, Nuts and Raisins. When nosing the rim of the glass I get a bit of Honey and a hint of Peat.

Taste: Slightly watery delivery with lots of Sugar and Spice and a bit of Malt. Not much else going on!

Finish: Short with Sugary Cereals, a touch of Honey, Licorice and White Pepper.

I added a couple of drops of water. On the Nose you get rid of the sharp Alcohol but other than that no big changes occur. Palate and Finish become slightly more smooth and less Sugary. Still, it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference. 

Rating: 74 

Nose: 19.5 – Taste: 18 – Finish: 18 – Overall: 18.5

General Remarks: It’s not easy to find information on this Malt Blend. It has a brother or sister that’s called Sir Edward’s, but that’s apparently a Blend of Malt – and Grain Whiskies. Owner of the Brand names is the French based Bardinet Group who also owns Glen Moray. This might give us an indication as to the Edward’s core Malt ingredient. It ages in Oak Barrels. Ah yes, the son of the owner of the Bardinet group, the late Paul Bardinet, is called Edward! The whisky is apparently distilled by Leith Distillers from Edinburgh, a daughter company of Whyte and Mackay. It is then shipped in bulk to France where it is bottled in Bordeaux by Bardinet. I bought my Glen Edward’s (same label as Sir Edward’s by the way) in the Duty Free Shop in Argentina. The bottle states that the whisky is aged and distilled in Scotland and mentions the name Bardinet , Blanquefort. The latter is a northern suburb of Bordeaux. Apparently there is also a 12 Years Expression of Sir Edward.

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Okay

Conclusion: Drinkable but utterly boring. It smells and tastes a bit like a cheaper version of the Whyte & Mackay’s Special Blend. Coincidence? Who knows!
Jan van den Ende                                                     September 13, 2012

Jack Daniels Single Barrel Review

Country: USA
Brand: Jack Daniels Single Barrel
Type: Whiskey (Tennessee)
Age:  NAS (Usually over 4 Years)
Alcohol: 47%

Colour: Deep Reddish/Full Gold

Nose: Sweet Corn, Maple Syrup, Charred Oak, Vanilla, Spice (White Pepper), Acetone, Banana, Furniture Wax and Butter. A bit of Alcohol is present what can be expected when bottled at 47%. The Nose is a more mature version of the Old # 7. After a while I get additional fruit (Peach). Quite nice. Need a little time to open up.

Taste: Cinnamon, Rye, White Pepper, Charred Wood, Vanilla, Toffee, Cigar Box, Cherries and Licorice.

Finish: Quite long. Dry, Spicy and Sour with Lemon, Licorice, Walnuts and Rye. Bit of Maple Syrup is the only sweet component.

I added a couple of drops of water to the whiskey that suppressed the Alcohol and the White Pepper on the Nose. It becomes sweeter and mellow with more Cinnamon, Maple Syrup, Sweet Corn and Caramel. Taste and Finish just mellow down a bit. You can certainly experiment with a little water here.

Rating   82   

Nose: 21.5 – Taste: 20 – Finish: 20– Overall: 20.5

General Remarks: The Jack Daniels Distillery is located in Lynchburg (Tennessee). It was indeed founded by a man called Jack Daniel in 1866 and it stayed in the family until 1956 when it was bought by Brown Forman from Kentucky.  

The Single Barrels that are chosen for this expression are selected from the uppermost floors of the warehouses located on the hills surrounding the distillery. During the year these floors endure extremes in temperature resulting in very aromatic and smooth whiskeys. Each bottle is hand–labeled and marked with the number of the Barrel, the Rick and the date of bottling. In this case I’m tasting bottle # II-5199 from Rick # L-2 that was bottled on the 13th of October 2011. The mash bill for this whiskey consists of Corn, Barley and Rye.

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Very Good

Conclusion: I found this Single Barrel to be in line with the general taste pattern of the Old # 7. It’s a bit more mature and polished than # 7 but not too smooth like the Gentleman Jack. It certainly benefits from the higher Alcohol percentage of 47%. If the Old # 7 would be bottled with the same percentage, it would be very difficult to tell them apart in a blind tasting session. Having said that, the nose of this Single Barrel was more interesting and mature than both Old # 7 and Gentleman Jack. The Peach tone was very convincing. And the colour is really beautiful. And it tastes great with Ice thanks to the 47% Alcohol. Is it worth all the extra money? I don’t think so. Despite the very nice bottle and packaging. In the end, I think that’s a compliment to the producers of Jack Daniels. It means that they have a very adequate standard expression with the Old # 7.

Jan van den Ende                                                           September 10, 2012