Flaviar Tasting Pack, Part 2: Dram by Dram

By Patruus Inebrius, [email protected]

Read Part 1 

The three of us gathered on a fairly sunny Saturday afternoon to try out the five varied whiskies in the Flaviar tasting pack. My neighbors from the houses across the street – both 20-something engineers – came packing cigars, a bit of whiskey, and some trepidation/anticipation at the idea of a semi-formal tasting that reveals their tasting skills.

A tasting notebook like the one you get for joining Inebriati can greatly assist with your tasting adventure.

A tasting notebook like the one you get for joining Inebriati can greatly assist with your tasting adventure.

We set up the dining room table with the stylish Flaviar box, the Glencairn glasses, a bit of filtered water, some crackers, and the laptop.

After some small talk and presenting them with Inebriati whiskey tasting notebooks to break in, we pulled up the Flaviar.com page that profiled the whiskies included in the international mix of the tasting pack. That let us quickly reference the distillery, age and other notes not necessarily included on the labels of the three-dram vials. It also allowed us to cheat a bit regarding various tasting notes, though we tried to keep that minimized.

You can read their full notes, which we quote here extensively for tasting comparisons, here: http://flaviar.com/package/premade-flaviar-welcome-pack

Greenore

Greenore

Greenore 8 Year Old Irish Whiskey

We opted to do them in the order that the website listed them, going for the Greenore 8 year old Irish whiskey.   This is a pretty little single-grain corn whiskey matured in a bourbon cask. It’s produced by the Cooley distillery in Ireland with a 40%ABV.

Here’s what the Flaviar site says about it:

Smells like Bourbon and tastes like Irish Whiskey.
 
Greenore is made by the Cooley distillery, which was converted from an old potato alcohol plant by John Teeling. It is located in Dundalk in Louth County, Ireland. Unlike most other Irish Whiskeys, which are usually distilled three times, Cooley’s products aregenerally distilled twice, as the third distillation is thought to remove some of the flavour components.
 
Greenore 8 Year Old is one of the few Irish Whiskeys available in this style. It’s a single grain Whiskey, made frommaize/corn sourced from France. As the name, single grain suggest, it is made in just one distillery. It’s one of the few double-distilled Irish Whiskeys! This Whiskey gives you newfound respect for grain Whiskey

We poured a bit in to each of the glasses and started focusing on detecting familiar tastes in the light honey-colored drams.

As we don’t want to interfere with anyone’s day jobs, I’ll refer to my compatriots as Mr. Gas and Mr. Wind. This isn’t any kind of aspersion on their personal dietary habits, but rather a description of the types of energy turbines each works on in their engineering roles. And it’s just too good to pass up.

Mr. Gas: This was very sweet but also light. It wasn’t heavy or overly scented, and I’d say it was my favorite of the pack.

Mr. Wind: Very smooth, sweet; hints of vanilla, almond, and honey

Patruus Inebrius: I noted some woody notes, vanilla, fruit and grain notes, and a light honey flavor with a very smooth finish. A very good light start to a tasting adventure.

Now you can compare our quick scribblings to the tasting notes on the Flaviar.com site:

Appearance / Colour
Pale yellow gold or lightly oaked white wine.
 
Smell / Nose / Aroma
Soft, sweet corn, banana, pencil shavings, hints of bourbon.
 
Flavour / Taste / Palate
Silky smooth and soft. Honey start, fresh almonds, corn, vanilla, fresh wood, apples. Bourbon character transforms into an Irish Whiskey.
 
Finish
Medium and warm finish, the oak returns.
 
Comment
Distinctive character. Bourbon Lite? A journey of the taste buds for all Whiskey aficionados.

As you can see, our notes leaned on the simple side compared to the expert evaluation afforded on the Flaviar site. But then we’re learning to taste and they’re selling the stuff.

Duly humbled, we moved on to the Amrut Indian vial.

Amrut Indian Single Malt Whisky

Amrut

Amrut

First, we’ll avoid the whole “whiskey” vs “whisky” debate here. That “e” pops up or vanishes from place to place like the “u” in “colour”, but we’ll ignore that for now since I’m just writing stuff to make it look like I took better tasting notes.

An Indian whisky. Not something we were familiar with, but something we were all quite eager to give a taste. This is produced in the Banbalore region by the Amrut distillery. It’s pretty stout at 46% ABV, but doesn’t list an age and is actually a blend.

According to the Flaviar site:

The distillery’s name Amrut comes from Indian mythology and the word means Nectar of life in Sanskrit. In Indian mythology the forces of evil (Rakshas) and good (the Gods) were fighting each other in a war with a mythical snake (Adishesha), itself tied around a golden mountain in the midst of an ocean. The fight stirred the waves and a pot containing divine liquid rose up. Anyone who drank this liquid would be given eternal life
 
Amrut Indian Single Malt Whisky is made from selected Indian Barley grown up the feet of the Himalayas, matured by the water flowing there and cultivated by old & traditional agricultural practices. It is carefully mashed and distilled in small batches to preserve the natural aroma, matured in oak barrels in unique tropical conditions, at an altitude of 3000 feet above sea level at Bangalore, the garden city of India. This Whisky matures by losing almost half its volume as “The Angels’ share”.

So we gave it a go.

Mr. Gas: This had a strong alcohol taste and didn’t bring out much flavor as a result. I can’t say I’d recommend it, or buy it for myself anytime soon.

Mr. Wind: Molasses with a finish of oak, fair bite

Patruus Inebrius: Another very light colored whiskey. It has a bit of a peaty, Scotch smell to it. A taste shows it does indeed taste quite like a mild Speyside. Balanced, with some spice, wood and molasses notes. Strong, lingering woody alcohol finish.

And Flaviar’s notes:

Appearance / Colour
Golden Yellow
 
Smell / Nose
Distinctly confident liquorice-bourbon notes with near perfect bitter-sweet balance; burnt honeycomb and toffee also abound.
 
Taste / Palate
Outstanding richness and sheen against the enormous barley-oak sweetness; again there is a big bourbony cut to the cloth with all the liquorice and molassed sugar, but the barley adds that extra dimension.
 
Finish
Long, wonderfully layered oak offering variations of a sweet dry theme; a touch silky with some cream toffee in the end.
 
Comment:
Truly a pleasure. It is a superb dram and one that should be sampled by every Whisky drinker. Prepare to be impressed.

As you can see, our overall assessment didn’t quite agree, but it was still a good taste.

Next up was the Japanese whisky.

 

Nikka Yoichi 10 year old whisky

Nikka Yoichi

Nikka Yoichi

I’ve been hearing quite a bit about Japanese and other Eastern whiskeys and how good they are. Seeing that a Japanese 10-year-old was included in the set was quite exciting to us. This one is from the Hokkaido region of Japan, is a single malt whisky and is matured in new “hogshead” oak. It results in a 45% ABV and has a more golden color than the prior two from the pack.

Here’s how Flaviar describes it:

Big, oily, Highland style Japanese Whisky.

Japanese whiskies have received a lot of attention in Europe after a Yoichi won Whisky Magazine’s Best of the Best in 2001.
 
But Japan’s Whisky industry has been in existence longer than many realize. Yoichi was founded in 1934 by Masataka Taketsuru, a genuine hero in the Whisky world who studied Whisky production in 1920s Scotland, at Longmorn and Hazelburn among other places.
 
After he returned to Japan with his Scottish wife Rita, he built the Yoichi distillery on the north island of Hokkaido in an area which he considered close to the natural environment of Scotland.
 
Yoichi possesses its own cooperage and is particularly careful when selecting its barrels. Known as Hogshead, the barrels are made on-site using new oak. Yoichi produces a big, oily spirit, in the Highland style.

Mr. Gas: This had a notable citrus flavor, but was not overwhelming. It had a clean finish and was very smooth all around. I was pleasantly surprised, particularly since I’ve never had a Japanese whiskey before.

Mr. Wind: Hint of peat, creamy finish; pretty smooth

Patruus Inebrius: Another whisky very reminiscent of a peaty Scotch, but more middle range of Highland and Lowland. It was well balanced with some smooth woody and peaty flavors, and some fun citrus notes. It lingers a bit, but softly.

And Flaviar’s notes:

Appearance / Colour
Amber with gold reflection.
 
Smell / Nose
A clean apple and apricot fragrance. Very fresh, with notes of peat, light smoke and spice.
 
Taste / Palate
More light peat with some rounded vanilla and tobacco coming from the oak casks. Mint creams, then orangey, a perfect balance between oaky and fruity notes.
 
Finish
After the creaminess, the peat surges back. Long lasting finish revealing remarkable fruity, oaky and floral notes.
 
Comment
This is a wonderful Whisky at ten years old. On the face of it, this is expensive for a ten year old Whisky, but it’s well worth the money in quality terms.

At this point, as we’re looking at Flaviar’s notes after writing our own, we’re all getting a bit self-conscious at not being able to pick up some things like “mint creams” or other flavors. On the other hand, we’re also starting to feel the whisky a bit so we’re not all that self-conscious about it.

So that means it’s time for the one with the longest and hardest to pronounce name.

Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban Whisky

Glenmorangie

Glenmorangie

This one is an actual Highland single malt Scotch from the Glenmorangie distillery. It’s also the oldest of the bunch at 12 years. It is matured in port barrels to a 46% ABV.

Here’s how Flaviar profiles it:

The Dark and Intense Glenmorangie.

The Glenmorangie Distillery was founded in 1843 when the Matheson brothers converted the Morangie farm into a distillery. It lies just north of Tain, on the wind-swept coastline of Easter Ross. Their stills are the tallest found in Scotland – as tall as a giraffe, apparently – of the same design as those used in the 1880’s which were in fact second-hand Gin stills. Which means that only the very lightest vapours make it to the top, resulting in a smooth and elegant Scotch Whisky.
 
In 2004 the distillery was sold to LVMH, a French multinational luxury goods conglomerate and has since adopted a brave strategy of giving their drams French-sounding names, which on the looks of things, has payed out for them. 
 
The darkest and most intense Whisky in the extra-matured range,Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban has spent 10 years maturing in American white oak casks, before being transferred into specially selected ruby port pipes from the Quintas or wine estates of Portugal.

This was a good one.

Mr. Gas: This was very citrus and orange flavored, and the most distinct of all the samples. It was very tangy but enjoyable. The label reviews say it has a hint of chocolate, but I didn’t taste it.

Mr. Wind: Citrus & peaty (really, that’s all he wrote)

Patruus Inebrius: This is a very smooth and gentle Scotch. A light reddish amber color, gentle nose, and light peat and citrus flavor notes. I didn’t taste the cholcolate either, but it does have a minty lingering finish.

Flaviar’s notes:

Appearance / Colour
Sunlit rose gold.
 
Smell / Nose
Dark mint chocolate, tangerines and Seville oranges mingle with sandalwood and walnut before giving way to a spicy finish of pepper and nutmeg.
 
Taste / Palate
Mint chocolate and walnuts envelop the palate like velvet, laying the foundations for rose, Turkish delight and sweet Seville oranges.
 
Finish
Long lasting silky aftertaste leaving dark chocolate mints and traces of orange.

This was another where we read the “official” notes and just didn’t detect some of the flavors mentioned. But overall, we thought this was a very nice, smooth drink.

Now for the most distinctively flavored dram.

Santis Cask Strength Peated Whisky

Santis

Santis

I’d honestly never heard of a Swiss whisky before, but this one caught our attention, for certain.   It’s distilled in the Appenzell region of Switzerland, matured in beer oak casks, and has a high 52% ABV. No age is listed, as it’s a blend. For color, it was the darkest in the pack.

Flaviar’s description:

Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible: “European Whisky of the Year 2010”.
 
As a historical brewery, the Locher family possesses very old oak Beer barrels which have served for decades – and some for more than a century – to store Beer. During their long service, these barrels have soaked up the aroma of Beer, along with the ancient sagas and memories which now enrich this spirit of Appenzeller Säntis Malt. 
 
Santis Cask Strength Peated Whisky is made from malt which has been smoked twice over, and is stored in old beer barrels which have been smoked with oak wood, something quite unique in Whisky production. This causes a strong, smoky aroma of the Whisky.

Mr. Gas: I put two very bold, large, thrice underlined words in my review packet: SMOKED HAM. It’s unbelievable how much it tasted like a Christmas dinner. I could’ve added one more word to the same formatting choice: DELICIOUS. I’d definitely buy it, drink it, share it, then repeat.

Mr. Wind: Very strong taste of smoked ham, couldn’t handle much more than a sip!

Patruus Inebrius: It smells very bourbonesque and buttery. Smoked meat, charcoal, and peat. The meat’s the big flavor here. It’s like you stuck your head in the ham smoker, opened your mouth and let the vapors condense. Reminiscent of an Islay, but with some more interesting, meaty, notes.

Flaviar’s notes:

Appearance / Colour
Dark Amber.
 
Smell / Nose
Aged in oak barrels, and with a subtle aroma of apple-wood smoke, this whisky has a pure, graceful and enticing freshness. Smoked ham, burnt charcoal, peat and malt are present.
 
Taste / Palate
Smoke. Smoked ham. Schlenkerla Bamberg Smokebeer. Black bread. Malty sweetness. The flavour also comprises hints of vanilla, wild berries and prunes. In the background, there’s the merest hint of green figs on the silky texture as well as a subtle touch of phenol.
 
Finish
Gentle, oaky, and wonderfully satisfying bitter touch. Long-lasting finish.
 
Comment:
Different smokiness as we are used by other Whiskies. Extremely impressive.

Definitely a case of saving the strongest for last. I’m glad we went in order, because not event the crackers could cleanse a palate of this strong drink.

——————-

So there you have it. The first official tasting of a Flaviar pack taught us quite a bit about some of the world’s interesting spirits. Overall, I’m surprised that as many had such a strong peat/Scotch style profile.

And the ritual of tasting, exploring, re-tasting has taught all of us a bit more about detecting this or that in a nice dram.

We’ll definitely do this again! I really like Flaviar’s approach to putting the tasting packs together. While the lengthy delivery time is a ding, the fact that you’re getting a diverse range of whiskeys delivered from Europe isn’t anything to sneeze at. So if you live in a state civilized enough to allow liquor deliveries and want to explore some whiskeys before fully committing to creating an Inebriati Whiskey Club, then give Flaviar.com a try! And just in case you were wondering, we just bought the Tasting Pack outright. Flaviar didn’t donate the drink and wasn’t aware we were planning to review the service and the pack. Though I’m pretty sure they’ve figured it out by now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment
  1. […] The results in Part 2. […]

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