Finding a whisky good enough to celebrate 10 years

13th Dec. Maltjerry's Advent Calendar: Transported to a Swedish Summer forest.

Looking for a special whisky

Today, 8 Dec, is a special day. I celebrate it every year;  the anniversary of my brother-in-law donating a kidney to his sister, Cim, my wife. Part of the celebration is sending a bottle of whisky to Jonas. It’s a token of thanks and acknowledgement but cannot really express the depth of gratitude we both feel for how much of a difference that act of heroism has made to our lives. Going to Antarctica? Not even thinkable.

This year is ten years, and being a round number, I feel that this year’s whisky should be extra special in some way. On the 5th anniversary, I bought the Highland Park Hjärta, a limited edition whisky whose name (heart) spoke to the issue. Getting it to Jonas in the north of Sweden was a bit of an odyssey. How could I top that? Should I even try?

Another Highland Park might fit the bill, and there are some very fine, very expensive whiskies, some of which are even harder get hold of than the Hjärta. Perhaps one from the range named after Norse gods and warriors. I haven’t tasted many of them and it’s important to me that it’s something I know he (and I) will really like. Too risky? Continue reading

Part 2 of So, 2012: Was it Maltier?

I don’t do resolutions, and I didn’t in 2012. Charlie Brooker doesn’t think it’s cool and neither do I. In fact I wrote about not doing resolutions in Part 1 of “So, 2012: Was it Maltier?” in which I looked at my post: “Wishes for a Maltier 2012” and checked how true the first three wishes came.

Here are the remaining three wishes, with the original comment indented followed by what became of them:

4. Breweries: tell us what’s in the bottle

“Brewed with the finest malt and choicest hops.” It says on far too many labels. Stop it now! Whisky is hardly better: “The purest water flowing down through the glens.” Rubbish. What if my headlines said: “Written with the most descriptive words and crafted punctuation”? Oh, and while I’m dealing with imprecision, stop this “Brewery Conditioned” nonsense. Beer: is it pasteurised? Filtered? Whisky: is it coloured? Chill-filtered?

Wish fulfilment score: 5/10.
Somewhat improved visibility of methods and ingredients. Or perhaps I’m just not buying the type of beer that caused my ire any more. I think this is pretty much essential for craft kegged beers, so people know it’s not Double Diamond. I haven’t seen that.

5. Buy stuff from specialist retailers

When it comes to malt-based beverages, supermarkets are, on the whole, beige with the odd touch of inspiration. And because their ranges are a bit slow moving, you are way better off buying the beer and whisky you really want to drink by going to specialist online beer and whisky shops…

Wish fulfilment score: 6/10 (but jury still out).
Supermarkets still mostly beige with the occasional pink fleck. But really, buy from specialist shops, online or retail, support your local brewery shop. What I’d really like to know is, did people, did you buy more for independent retailers, people like:

Beer Merchants Buy a mixed case in the Januar sales
Ales By Mail Buy Moor beer
Beer Ritz Buy Wild beer
Master of Malt Buy some whisky samples
The Whisky Shop Buy some whiskies of the world
Royal Mile Whiskies Guide to Burns Night
My Brewery Tap’s Pick-and-mix range
The Whisky Tasting Club

There are loads, so no excuse not to.

6. More food and beer together

Writing and talking about beer with food and cooking is the best way of introducing people to the diverse world of beer styles. I received an honourable mention in the Beer and Food category from the British Beer Writers Guild in December, (2011) and this made clear for me a direction for The Nightjar in 2012. I recommend you go to or give a beer dinner; I certainly will.

Wish fulfilment score: 9/10 for media, 4/10 for me and written media.
Ignoring the blindness of Saturday Kitchen, TV and radio covered more beer and more beer and food together than I can previously remember. Jamie Oliver continues to support beer. Dan Saladino’s piece for BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme, which I wrote about in “The Day the BBC went beer”, won a Beer Writers’ award, which recognition was very nice to see.

I gave some beer dinners and will continue to do so, but I didn’t write as much about beer and food for The Nightjar as I’d hoped. Beer and food writing is still very patchy, both in terms of quantity and quality. Either cooks don’t know enough about beer or (with a couple of exceptions) the beer writers don’t have the depth of knowledge of food.

Was 2012 a Maltier year?

Yes! Can we do better in 2013? What do we really want to see (or make happen)? Don’t tell Charlie!

13th Dec. Maltjerry’s Advent Calendar: Transported to a Swedish Summer forest.

13th December: Mackmyra, Special 09: Wild Raspberry. 46.1% ABV
From: Sweden. Type: Swedish malt whisky. Source: Distillery sample

It’s not wild and there are no raspberries in it. Apart from that, the name is spot on. It is special, though, and it is the 9th in the Special series. And be sure: Mackmyra Swedish whisky is on the map. And one person, who happens to be a friend of mine, has been instrumental in this. Angela d’Orazio.

It’s not just me saying this, Jim Murray, he of the Whisky Bible, one man’s annual assessment of all the whiskies anyone can humanly lay there hands on, says so in the dedication to the Whisky Bible 2013. So if you haven’t already tried Swedish malt whisky, get with the programme!

Mackmyra_special09_frilagd

Why wild raspberry, if this is a “straight” malt whisky? Well, forest berries are dear to the hearts of most Swedes, to whom foraging comes as second nature. In Sweden, in the late Summer, when going out to the woods to find and pick your own fruit, you will find blueberries, lingonberries, and if you’re lucky, wild strawberries, and if you’re very lucky: wild raspberries.

And there is a forest berry character to this elegant whisky. Raspberries? yes, but I couldn’t say wild or tame. The 09 is also delicately sweet with aromatic spices from the cask. Perhaps with Winter revealing its claws, your hand reaches for a muscular, peaty Islay, but your thoughts turn to Summer. And this is the whisky to transport you there without fear of being fogbound at Gatwick.

All the whiskies in the Special seriess are worth trying, which is my roundabout way of saying, the Wild Raspberry seems particularly hard to find in the UK. But if you find one, I’m sure you’ll thank Angela.

Mackmyra’s own page for Wild Raspberry (in English)

Master of Malt’s selection of Mackmyra whiskies

Jim Murray’s Whisky Biblel 2013 on Amazon

Maltjerry’s Advent Calendar: 25 choices from 2012. 10th Dec.

10th December: Suntory, Hibiki 12-year old. 43% ABV.
From: Japan. Type: Blended whisky. Source: The Whisky Shop

Wandering through Guildford one Saturday afternoon, whiling away the time, trying to get maximum value from my parking ticket, I spotted The Whisky Shop. I didn’t even know of its existence – the whisky retailer that is. I’ve been aware of Guildford for some years. What could I do but walk in.

It’s a very nice place, the Whisky Shop. Perfect for striking up conversations with the knowledgeable staff, sampling a dram, and well, buying whisky. I’d known about Hibiki for some while, having tasted the 17-year old and the 12-year old at the Stockholm Beer and Whisky Festival. These are great blends.

Hibiki-12-big

In fact, the 17 had recently been voted in Whisky Magazine as best blend since Jim Murray made it OK to like blends. But I was after the 12. It’s not a blend for drowning in mixers, even if you could afford to. You’d lose the subtle Umeshu cask (plum liqueur) finish – and all the other fruity loveliness too. This is not a wacky tasting note; Umeshu casks are used!

The Hibiki 12-year old is sooo, smooth, not a word I like using while describing whiskies, conjuring up images of bland, dinner jazz. This, however, is like listening to Miles through speakers made entirely of satin.

My parking time approaching its maximum value, I make my purchase, join the Whisky Shop club, get my discount, and I’m off. No doubt I’ll be back.

The Whisky Shop

Maltjerry’s Advent Calendar: 25 choices from 2012. 8th Dec.

8th December: Highland Park, Thor/18-year old. 52.1% ABV.
From: Orkney, Scotland. Type: Scotch malt whisky. Source: Stockholm Beer and Whisky Festival

I’ve picked a pair of Highland Park whiskies for today’s entry to celebrate and honour Jonas – I sometimes refer to him as “Malt-Brother-In-Law”. Just about the time these words are posted, he will receive a bottle of the 18-year old, as a small measure of my thanks. This year’s bottle. I buy him a different whisky every year on this date because in 2004, Jonas donated a kidney to his sister “MaltCim”. Today is eight years.

I was going to buy him the Thor – it’s an impressive whisky in an extravagant package. A symbol of Norse heroics – could it be more appropriate? But hey! he and I drink whisky for the liquid contents, not the box it comes in, so while we were at the Stockholm Beer and Whisky Festival together in September, we got a chance to taste them both together. A chance for me to sneakily work out which he would like. He preferred the 18.

Highland_park_18Highland_park_thor

HP 18 is a great whisky. Richer, fuller, softer, slightly spicier, slightly peatier than its 12-year old brother. Perhaps the Thor is more complex, but it is also wilder, with more spices, a touch fiery – as befits the god for whom it is named (apart from the “more spices” bit).

Jonas:
I’m doing this thing on my blog. It’s a sort of Advent calendar of 25 beers or whiskies that I’ve enjoyed during 2012. Hope you don’t mind. Thanks for these eight, health-filled years. Enjoy your dram. Skål!

You can get the 18-year old from the Highland Park online shop.
Thor is under Special Bottlings.

 

Maltjerry’s Advent Calendar: 25 choices from 2012. 2nd Dec.

2nd December: Compass Box, Hedonism. 43% ABV.
From: Scotland. Type: 100% Blended Scotch grain whiskies. Source: Compass Box, London

I tasted this during a Twitter tasting hosted by Compass Box, blenders supreme of whisky. This is the latest edition of one of the first blends John Glaser, Compass Box blender supremo, did. Yes, it’s OK to like blends, Jim Murray of Whisky Bible fame says so.

Compass_box_hedonism_25pc

Very much though, not your usual, in that it contains no malt whiskies at all. The secret is just great, and old grain whiskies from very, very good casks. And of course, the knowledge of how to choose the whiskies and put them together. Rich and luscious, full of almost syrupy, honied fruit. The taste of hedonism.

Whisky making of such a high order doesn’t come cheap, but at around 50-something quid for a bottle from Master of Malt, it is approachable. Even more so if you go for the 3cl dram.

Read the whole Compass Box Twitter tasting post

I know the taste of Hedonism. Compass Box show a direction for whisky

“Is that goat’s cheese that is runny, or cheese from runny goats” Tweeted @Whiskyrepublic, otherwise known as “Dave”. Either way, we both knew what Hedonism tasted like. Not in any kind of existentialist-analytic way, but because we had both just tasted it. Literally.

And I mean “literally”. Unlike (I hope) the young chap I met recently who said he’d done something so bad his teacher was “literally going to rip his head off”. Well, that’s one way of getting attention in class…

No, but you see @Whiskyrepublic and I had both been drinking Hedonism – well sampling Hedonism, the whisky from Compass Box, and Dave and I, along with a dozen or so others on the live tasting on Twitter. And we agreed that its luscious fruitiness would partner well with the aforementioned cheesy comestible of caprine extraction.

So, Compass Box, as you might have gathered, are not your average whisky makers. They don’t distill whiskies themselves, nor do they bottle whiskies under the names of the distilleries that made them. They buy whiskies as an independent bottler, and create their own blends.

I suppose you could say there are plenty of companies buying whiskies from distilleries and creating their own, but none that I know of do it quite like Compass Box. Just look at what they call the whiskies in their Signature Range: Hedonism, Oak Cross, The Spice Tree, Asyla… Not a “Glen” or a “Mac” in sight. And then there’s the packaging; kilts, stags, and Celtic script completely missing.

Compass Box design. Down with kilts!

They are not your average whisky makers, then, but nor are the whiskies gimmicky. I say “they” but Compass Box is really John Glaser’s baby. He’s the one billed as “the Whisky Maker” on the website. His whiskies are made with an aficionado’s heart and with a creative eye for where tradition might be extended.

Hedonism is a 100% blend of very old Scotch grain whiskies. That’s right! no malt whisky at all. An early version was the first Compass Box I ever tried, nearly 10 years ago, and it turned my thoughts about what grain whisky was upside down. Sublte, complex, and rich, as opposed to a cheap way of making whisky.

If Hedonism got us tweeting strange things, it was Oak Cross we started the Twasting with. (Surely by now we don’t have to spell out Twitter vernacular, do we?) Oak Cross is blend too, but a blend of malt whiskies from different distilleries. Whiskies matured in American casks that had previously held bourbon, and whiskies finished in casks with heads specially made using French oak. This to combine (or cross, geddit?) the flavour-giving characteristics of the two types of wood to provide a subtly spicy dram with restrained but enticing vanilla richness.

The third whisky was billed as the special release: a sneak preview of the new batch of Flaming Heart. One from the Limited Edition range, and they’re not kidding; this is only the fourth time Flaming Heart has been created. This one had me ignoring my temporary colleagues on Twitter and all thoughts of runny goats.

The flaming heart of Flaming Heart is big and peated from (an?) Islay malt. There are also contributing whiskies from the Highlands and Islands, so it’s not a peat monster (that’s another in the range, you might have seen it in Waitrose), it has the smoky peatiness but much more besides.

Again, the mix of oaks from the casks that the whiskies came from are used to build complexity: a bonfire on the other side of a Scottish beach, some chilli heat and cake-mix spices, all wrapped up in a rich body that coats the palate with swirls of smoke, and which lingers until after your Twasting companions have finished talking about the gorgeous label and where and when you can get hold of a bottle.

Compass_box_flaming_heart_label_33

Flaming Desire: Tasted it, now I want more

I suppose you could call them designer whiskies, but that sounds disparaging, and in any case, all whisky is designed, to a greater or lesser degree. It’s just that Compass Box designs, inside and out, make you think about whisky in a different, altogehter modern way. Who would have thought Hedonism tasted of the future?

OK, so I know what Hedonism tastes like, how much does it cost?
The entire range is available from the Compass Box online shop, where you can also find the rest of the Signature range and the other limited editions, as  well as much more info. If you enjoy paying less, you might also want to try Master of Malt which looks to me like it has some keen prices. Hedonism £52.22, Oak Cross £30.94, and Flaming Heart £69.12*.

If you want to sample before you buy, you can buy a presentation pack of 5 x 5 cl test tubes at either location. This includes two other Compass Box whiskies: Asyla and The Spice Tree, but not Flaming Heart. Buying for myself, I would rather forego the fancy packaging and go for the Master of Malt 3 cl drams. (Mostly, signature range only.) Admittedly not as much whisky as in the pack but I think £21.27 plus delivery is a good deal.

*Prices subject to change and delivery charges.
Photos from the Compass Box website.

No Resolutions, no Predictions: 6 Wishes for a Maltier 2012

Who was it that said, “I never make predictions, and I never will!”?  Well, it wasn’t Charlie Brooker, Guardian columnist and TV’s Screen Wipe writer, scourge of the mediocre. And despiser of new year resolutions, it seems. In his column on 8 Jan he says of resolutions, “You think of something you enjoy doing, and then resolve to stop doing it, thus giving them the longevity of a Christmas tree withered by a month of central heating.”

Mikkeller_ny_med

January does though, give at least the idea of a clean slate. As I toasted in the new year with a bottle of Mikkeller Fra… Til.. dark winter ale, I thought about what I would like to see and what I would like to change in 2012. So, no resolutions and no predictions…

 1. A bigger range of bottled beers in pubs
Especially pubs serving food. OK, most of the point of a British pub is to drink the fine draft beers. Increasing the range of bottled beers will allow a pub to serve a much greater diversity of styles to suit the dishes they serve. Take a leaf out of Leeds Brewery/The Midnight Bell collaboration, as seen in my post on Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain programme on Channel 4. And pubs: offer beers you can’t get in the supermarket. You’ll be able to charge more. And while I’m on that subject…

2. Hike the price of good (craft) beer
in pubs
What do you mean the Chancellor already did? Leave the ordinary stuff alone. but make good cask and craft keg reassuringly expensive, to recall an old campaign. Well, a bit dearer, anyway. What do you mean people will just stay at home and pay supermarket prices? What do people pay for a bottle of Becks in a pub, £3.50?  That’s like seven quid a pint. For Becks. Don’t even get me started on wine. Stand up for being the premium products they are. I’d much rather more money went to the great small breweries we have in the UK. Excellence should be rewarded.

3. Think big, drink small
When it comes to the bigger beers, pints are for wimps. Yes, that’s right; it’s halves that are for the daring. And thirds are for superheroes. Don’t chicken out and have a pint for your man/womanhood. Your brain, liver, and palate will thank you for that half of ESB. You can then “afford” a snifter of Magic Rock Human Cannonball. If only pubs and bars had more third pint glasses… Wait a minute; Ember Inns already do, for their tasting racks. (Three thirds for less than the price of the pint.) You could even do a round of two halves for standard strength beers. That is, until two-thirds glasses catch on. Daily mirror article from November 2011.

4. Breweries: tell us what’s in the bottle
“Brewed with the finest malt and choicest hops.” It says on far too many labels. Stop it now! Whisky is hardly better: “The purest water flowing down through the glens.” Rubbish. What if my headlines said: “Written with the most descriptive words and crafted punctuation”? Oh, and while I’m dealing with imprecision, stop this “Brewery Conditioned” nonsense. Beer: is it pasteurised? Filtered? Whisky: is it coloured? Chill-filtered?

5. Buy stuff from specialist retailers
When it comes to malt-based beverages, supermarkets are, on the whole, beige with the odd touch of inspiration. And because their ranges are a bit slow moving, you are way better off buying the beer and whisky you really want to drink by going to specialist online beer and whisky shops. At the same time, you get to support the real artisans of malt. Unless you live in Sweden, in which case, you’re more-or-less already catered for. Jammy gits.

My Brewery Tap’s Pick-and-mix range
The Whisky Tasting Club

6. More food and beer together

Writing and talking about Beer with food and cooking is the best way of introducing people to the diverse world of beer styles. I received an honourable mention in the Beer and Food category from the British Beer Writers Guild in December, and this made clear for me a direction for The Nightjar in 2012. I recommend you go to or give a beer dinner; I certainly will.

Damn!, I nearly made it through the whole post without a prediction. Sorry Charlie.

 

Malty Gifts for Christmas. Part 3: Whisky tastings

Sometimes it’s not easy being a whisky lover. And at Christmas, it can be hard to know what to buy for the whisky lover in your life. Have they got this whisky already? Will they like it. I have just the thing to solve this problem: how about buying a whisky tasting?

The sites I’m recommending here put together a selection of specialist and often rare whiskies in 30ml or 50ml bottles. Miniatures that you often can’t get anywhere else.  It’s both a try-before-you-buy, and an instant whisky tasting session.

Master_of_malts_burns_night_med2

The whiskies on offer are interesting – and the ones I’ve had have been really good – that you cannot fail if you buy a tasting set for a whisky lover. A couple also offer subscriptions for regular delivery of tastings.

Master of Malt I recommended last Christmas, you may remember. They also provided the whiskies for a tasting at a Burns Night dinner I conducted. Sets are mostly in the £20-£40 range, but can go quite expensive. I’d be particularly interested in the Staff Favourites set, which includes a couple of Islays, a cracking bourbon and a fantastic Japanese.
Master of Malt

The Whisky Tasting Club is run by Whisky Magazine editor Dominic Roskrow. The lucky citizens of Norwich have had the privilege of his live tastings for a while now, and this site has grown out of that. You can buy individual tastings or subscribe to receive regular tasting sets through the post, saving on delivery charges.

I had their Islay Festival set, and it was outstanding. Some sets you might expect to come across: Regions, Highland, or verticals (one distillery), and also some interesting ideas. Get Wood “explores the range of influence that wood (the cask) can have on a whisky”. 5 samples for £25+p&p.
The Whisky Tasting Club

In a similar vein is The Whisky Tasting Company, who also do subscriptions and a range of gift sets. I’ve not tried them out yet, but it seems they have a good many samples from the excellent independent bottlers Old Malt Cask, which is a very good sign.

Hurry! Last orders very soon!

Previously…

The mystery at the heart of Irish whiskey. Jameson Twasting #irlsps

What is it about Irish whiskey?  In all my 16 years of judging in the whisky competition at the Stockholm Beer and Whisky Festival (SBWF), Irish whiskeys have won shovelfuls of medals. There’s no doubt there’s some fine whisky, from the Emerald Isle, but I don’t often buy it. Why?

At this year’s SBWF I met Fintan Collier, Jameson brand ambassador for Scandinavia, and mentioned this “phenomenon” and suggested I wasn’t alone in my divided attitude. I also suggested he hold a whisky tasting on Twitter (Twasting, in the parlance). Apart from giving a chance to taste a range of whiskies in the range, a Twasting is a live discussion across the Internet – it gets the word out.

Jameson_whisky_miniatures_med

The mystery “dram” at the heart of the Jameson Twasting

With samples sent out to a disparate collection of enthusiasts from Sweden, Netherlands and Germany, as well as at least one in the UK, we gathered together around our separate computers to see what the deal was. So, five Jameson whiskies, right? Well, not exactly: certainly three different Jamesons, but what’s this Mystery Dram? And what’s this Midleton whiskey doing here?

More of the Mystery Dram soon, but a Midleton whiskey in a Jameson tasting, that’s a bit odd, isn’t it? Well actually, no; they are from the same distillery. Jameson whiskies are made at the Midleton distillery in Cork, and for me, herein lies some of my problem: Irish whiskies often don’t fit neatly into the distillery-equals-brand, unlike single malt whisky in Scotland. I find it harder to get involved in a brand than a distillery.

But once you taste the whiskey, it’s very easy to get involved. We start with the “ordinary” Jameson. I say “start”, but Fintan makes us wait with some pertinent information about Jamesons and Irish whiskey in general. Rather like I’ve made you wait to find out what I thought about his whiskies.

This “ordinary” Jameson is the world’s biggest selling Irish whiskey. It goes under the slogan “Triple distilled, Twice as smooth, One great taste.” People like “smooth” apparently. Even Royal Mile Whiskies say the Jameson is very smooth. I think “smooth” sounds like a back-handed compliment. Boring, even. But the Jameson is not boring.

It is a blend, though. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with blends among the cognoscenti, these days. Last year, the received wisdom about whisky, that single malt = quality, and blend = inferior was blown out of the water when Jim Murray named a blended whisky (not Jameson) as the best whisky of 2010. The Jameson is a blend of grain whiskies with some single pot still whiskey, as Fintann puts it – pure pot still, if you like. This is a traditional Irish, but more expensive way of making whiskey. 

Enough talk: on with the Twasting!
The “Jameson” has no age statement but a very pleasant aroma and taste of apple crumble, with some restrained floral notes that typify many Irish whiskeis. But there’s pepper – not known for its “smoothness”. Somebody mentions egg nog and baking spices.

The Jameson 12 year-old Special Reserve has a thicker, deeper, darker character. Like a light Christmas cake to the Dundee cake of the unaged. We are told this character comes from a higher proportion of pot still whisky, and also more whisky from sherry casks (as opposed to bourbon casks, which provide the vanilla, egg noggy flavours). Extra oiliness comes from pot still too, says our man. More pepperiness and more assertive, it is mouth filling and silky, I think, rather than oily. Sweet and becomes even more so with a drop of water. Golden syrup, light treacle, finishing on a peppery heat, so it doesn’t cloy.

The 18 year-old Limited Reserve is up next. Its subtle, seductive nose reminds me of a Demarera sugar crust. I detect dried pears too. This also has a quite peppery intensity on the palate, which goes over to an intense bag of dried fruits as though a bag of health food shop snacks is rehydrating in your mouth: cranberries, pears, apples. At the time, I said there was heather, but did I mean lavender? Others report oranges or orange zest, as there was in the 12 year-old. Seductive is right: a very special whisky.

And so to the Midleton in the mix. Not Kate or Pippa, but Barry; although it’s Barry Crockett, Midleton’s master distiller that the whiskey is named for, and this is his Legacy, a straight, pure pot still whisky – the style with which Barry Crockett is synonymous, apparently. Well, I admit to ignorance, but I will say, that many of the Irish whiskies I do end up buying for myself are pure pot still. Oh OK, single pot still, then.

The Middleton Barry Crockett Legacy is “full of pineapple chunks”, I say. And then we are off into a Joycean tweeting of tasting and nosing impressions. But with better spelling: sweet, intense, concentrated, syrupy fruit. Light vanilla tones (from high proportion of bourbon casks). Toffee, vanilla fudge, fresh, warming. Someone mentions coconut oil and exotic fruits instead of the pears. Herbal (eucalyptus?), body lotion? I begin to doubt myself. Creamy mouthfeel. Sweet with balancing woody dryness. Some ginger, perhaps pepper nearly like the Jamesons. Spices like a Swedish forest says one @AngelasShare: Juniper pine… The complexity is exciting and it goes on developing.

Finally, the Mystery Dram – or whatever “dram” is in Irish. We are asked to guess its identity, and are given one clue: it’s single pot still (gee, thanks!). It is not nearly as fruity on the nose as the Jamesons, with more Japanese whisky-like aromas. I tweet: earthy with hints of leather and polish. Someone chips in with cigar box, and tobacco.

On the palate it is honeyed malty spicy. A tweet comes across: layers of charred wood, dark chocolate and treacle toffee. I think it is herbal and deep, or rather, more rounded. None of us has any real clue to its identity, so Fintan lets on that it is the Power’s John Lane, which is a pure pot still version of the Powers Gold label. Released in Sweden in 2012.

See what I mean? Praise all round for these Irish gems – even the “ordinary”. Two of the whiskies here: the 18 yo and the Barry Crockett, I love. They are a bit pricier, coming in at around £75/895SEK and €160/1300SEK (when released), but I wonder if there is still a way to go to overcome the “blend” image for malt whisky regulars. The Jameson motto is Sine Metu “without fear”. Perhaps it’s time for some of us to show a bit of boldness. And for Jameson to drop this “smooth” thing…

Thanks to Fintan Collier @Jameson_Grad_SE and also to Colin Campbell @TheScotsdreamer for organisation and inviting me.

Jameson online shop