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A single maltalytic converter……

I have lost count of the times that someone has come into the bar and proclaimed that “they can’t stand whisky!” This statement originates from limited exposure to blends and no exposure to single malts, the fact that there are around 500 flavour congeners in a single malt is just a tasty side plate to the banquet of whiskies available to us all.
On that note, my immediate response to the above statement is “well, in that case try my converter…..” it rarely, if ever, fails to impress and convert the sceptic……

The Balvenie Doublewood 12yo 43%.
Sweet oloroso sherry, dusty barley, vanilla, seville marmalade and whisky fudge, eventually developing a hint of smoky oak.
The palate is thin but the oloroso dominates, leaving the vanilla behind, then a touch of woodsmoke and that seville orange note lingers on the finish.
Water opens the darker fruits like raisins, sultanas and orange cordial.
All these elements come together on the palate as a whisky marmalade made from dark spicy stewed fruit and seville oranges.87
Enticing, inviting, beautifully balanced………….the converter.

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Running your tongue along a newly tarred road…….

With apologies to SMWS’s artistic licence. Finlaggan Cask Strength 58%.

This little gremlin reared its ugly head during the recent Cape and Jo’burg Whisky Live shows:

Raw cut potato, rubber bands, sulphur, elastoplast and generally unpleasant odours savagely assail the nostrils.The palate hints at vanilla then rudely offers new rubber and hot tarmacadam. Water just makes the nose more odorous, the palate undrinkable. This is a prime example of a inchoate whisky, one that is too young, too little copper, too badly casked, too awful.
I shudder to think that this could be an offering from my favourite distillery…Ardbeg?58

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Whisky prices

I love this mobile blogging thing! Sitting at a coffee shop in the bustling metropolis of Nelspruit waiting for my coffee, which I can’t have because Eskom’s done their bit in cutting off the power! So I thought I’d take some time to tell you about recent local Whisky price changes. Noticed some amazing specials recently? Not just the usual Christmas specials – Johnny Black at less than R250? It’s called parallel imports and there’s plenty of whispering in the industry, positive and negative, depending on where you sit in the supplier-consumer chain. We’re not talking grey imports here, it’s legit merchandise (the real McCoy as they say in Whisky-speak), sourced via another route. “So what?” you say. Does it matter where itcomes from as long as I can save a few buffalos (R100 notes for all you foreign blog followers!). While I have long felt that imported Whisky is overpriced – duty on alcohol is volume-based so who’s ripping us? – there is also the very important aspect of marketing to consider. To launch a new Whisky here marketing costs are exhorbitant, so why not let the big boys do all that and we’ll bring in the parallel imports? Food for thought? The power’s on and my coffee just arrived, so till next time…

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Ichiro Akuto’s treasure trove of 53 Hanyu playing cards……..

Ichiro’s Malt Card King Of Hearts 1986 23yo 55.4% PX sherry butt American oak.
The incredible nose offers Matabele ant(formic acid and esters associted with sherry butts), deep rich sherry wood, inkwell, raisins, stewed prunes, dark chocolate, vanilla, dark toffee and rumtopf. The palate is dense, rich, full-bodied raisin syrup drying to a wooded cabernet that is exquisitely long and drawn out. This is reminiscent of the huge cask strength expressions from Kirin’s Karuizawa range.
Water opens this with caramel toffee and stewed dark fruits with some smoke eventually revealing itself, while the palate is now more syrupy sweet and textured with the peat struggling in the depths with the plummy oak leaving a long and lingering coating of sherry and cabernet sauvignon.
A big, bold, rich, take no prisoners, exquisitely sherried expression from the late Hanyu distillery.94

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The South African market

New stats from the Scotch Whisky Association reveal that for the 1st half of 2010 Scotch whisky exports to South Africa were up 44% by value, yet down 17% by volume. This is a clear indication that South Africans are trading up, despite the economic recession. Going on my own impressions from the recent Whiskylive Festivals in Cape Town and Johannesburg there is growing interest in premium and super-premium offerings, but more importantly, consumers are becoming educated and wanting to know more about their favourite tipple. There was a huge interest in Japanese whisky, possibly just curiosity; but sadly very little was available for tasting. The festival itself was very well attended, showing record figures for both venues. The Scotch Whisky Association held a seminar in Cape Town, highlighting the labeling changes being called for over the next few months. In its ongoing efforts to maintain the image of Scotch whisky worldwide, the association is imposing stricter measures on the industry regarding the labeling and packaging of all Scotch whisky. It is believed that consumers are being confused by current labeling, and in some cases even mislead, and to this end producers have until November 2011 to change their packaging/labeling in line with the association’s guidelines. Like it or not, wouldn’t it be great if all whisk(e)y producing countries adopted some similar form of regulation?

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Value for money Part 1……..

Tomintoul 27yo 43% – A deliciously sweet nose of honeycomb, honeysuckle and barley dipped in ….honey. This reminds me of an Asara Noble Late Harvest…gradually develops to caramel fudge. The palate is initially all dessert wine, light and mellow, then seville marmalade lingering to a fino finish.85
A dram best suited to sipping neat then left for 10 minutes to develop without water.
Rarely, if ever, will you find a proprietary 27yo for under R 1000.00. This delectable little gem can be found at under R 600.00 at most Spar Tops outlets.