Compass Box Three Year Old Deluxe

January is the month of my birthday.  I turned thirty-three, with the liver of a sixty-something year old.  And I realised something: My last thirty years were no way near as important as my first three.

I notice this in my daughter, the little pup.  My puppy is three years old, with social skills I didn’t master until I was twenty.  I don’t know if it’s because she’s an incredibly sociable creature, or if I’m completely socially inept.  She can talk to anyone, question, lie, make small talk and order cheese bread at the bakery in an extremely charming way – and she’s learnt it all in three years.

Of course, some things are still complicated.  My pup has certain difficulties understanding abstract subjects and isn’t very convincing in elaborate arguments.  For example, when she tries to convince me that she can eat chocolates twice a day, she’s unsuccessful and get’s aggressive.  Watching her development, however, I come to a, maybe optimistic, conclusion: That we are who we are from the age of three.  The rest is just refinement – trim the sharpest edges and learn about a whole load of things we’ll never use, like ions, neutrons, endothermic and exothermic animals and the Mesozoic era.

In the whisky world, the same is true.  The minimum age that a whisky can be considered a whisky, according to the rules laid down by the Scotch Whisky Association, is three.  Time makes it less aggressive.  In most cases, the pungency of youth is exchanged for the complexity brought on by the years in the barrel.  The exception, of course, is Compass Box Three Year Old Deluxe, which despite the minimum age on the label, conveys the maturity of a Balzac-woman.

Compass Box Three Year Old Deluxe is a blended malt produced by Compass Box Whisky Co., a boutique of premium blended whiskies founded by the businessman, John Glaser.  Since its foundation, Compass Box has had an iconoclastic position in the whisky world.  Many of its releases were made to provoke or challenge the dogma imposed by the Scotch Whisky Association.  An example is when they decided to produce a whisky with Oak chips – something which is forbidden – or a whisky comprising only two components: a single malt and a grain whisky.

John, thinking about how to wind up the SWA.

Perhaps Compass Box’s most blatant provocation to this day is the Three Year Old Deluxe.  It is composed of 0.4% a Clynelish of just three years old, 90.3% Clynelish and 9.3% Talisker – both of which are much more mature.  Nevertheless, a whisky of a very reasonable average age.  Due to SWA regulations, however, that age cannot be declared.  It must be stated as a three-year-old whisky.  As I said, the age on the whisky label must be that of its youngest component – in this case, the three-year-old Clynelish.

Three Year Old Deluxe is actually the result of a campaign by Compass Box Whisky Co. for more transparency in the whisky world.  It encouraged other producers to join and had a petition for consumers.  In less than a day, three thousand people had signed this petition and renowned brands had joined the campaign.  One of them was Bruichladdich, Islay’s famous distillery, known for its progressive positions.

However, in the end, the SWA remained resilient and Compass Box had to find a middle ground.  According to Glaser, “For various reasons (including, believe it or not, Brexit) it is unlikely that any satisfactory change in EU or UK laws will be achieved in the short-term, but that does not mean we cannot continue doing what we have always done and blend whiskies of different ages to create complexity and balance. And with that in mind, we are proud to introduce you to our newest Limited Edition Scotch whisky; 3 Year-Old Deluxe.

He continues, “a whisky composed of just under 1% three-year-old malt whisky, a little over 90% malt whisky of an unstated age from the same distillery and 9% peaty malt whisky, distilled on the Isle of Skye.  Regulations permit us only to share details of the age of the youngest component!  No matter.  For it is this three-year-old component that we think is truly special aged by us.”

Tongues out to the SWA

Despite the somewhat conformist tone of the text, Three Year Old Deluxe is really the proverbial slap in the face pf the SWA with a velvet glove.  There is a certain hypocrisy in Glaser’s (more or less) resigned words.  The proportion of young malt is too small to make any relevant difference to the flavour of the blend and both he and the SWA know that.  The whisky is therefore a highly elaborate provocation and an absolutely incredible one.  The Three Year Old Deluxe is reminiscent of a late Brora.  Lightly peated with a touch of wax, honey and incredibly fruity.

However, this Dog has a suspicion, a very controversial suspicion – but not as controversial as producing a whisky costing more than £100 and labelling it a three-year-old.  It’s just that it seems to me that Three Year Old Deluxe was made not to be drunk.  All of the packaging demonstrates this, from the gold wax used to seal the cork to the transparent acrylic case.  Everything contributes to the suspicion that what Glaser intended, when he shoved the SWA while disguising it as a pat on their backs, was that Compass Box Three Year Old Deluxe would become a collectors’ item.

That’s exactly what happened.  Since its launch in 2014, the price has more than doubled. And you can well believe, because this Dog has experienced this difficulty itself. It’s pretty hard to find a bottle.  Regardless of our age, one thing never changes and that’s our appreciation of a good story – and Compass Box Three Year Old Deluxe is one of the best.

COMPASS BOX THREE YEAR OLD DELUXE

Type: Blended Malt with an age statement (that’s the point) – 3 years

Brand: Compass Box Whisky Co.

Region: N/A

ABV: 49.2%

Tasting notes:

Aroma: woody and floral, lightly peated.

Flavour: Dry and fruity, citrus with apple and spices.  The smokiness, which is long and dry, comes out only at the end.

Availability: only in international shops.

 

Whiskey Mule

When I was a child I didn’t really care about the latest fad.  I never touched a tazo and I never collected Coca-Cola bottles.  But one thing always got me – Kinder Surprise.  Looking back realistically, perhaps I didn’t even like the chocolate that much.  What I really wanted was the surprise.  Although that’s funny, because if I had found the surprise without its delicious, traditional casing, I probably wouldn’t have been interested in it either.

The genius of the Kinder Egg is the combination of those elements.  The two things together – coupled with the expectation of what’s inside the capsule make it irresistible to any child, whether three or sixty years old.  No one can be indifferent and resist showing the slightest curiosity when opening a Kinder Egg.  It is the perfect blend of gastronomic obsession and accumulating greed.

With cocktails, the Moscow Mule, the traditional version of the Whisky Mule (subject of this post), is very similar.  The Moscow Mule is a mix of three elements to which no one paid attention, but which together form one of the most famous cocktails in the world.

Its history begins in the 30s, with a man named John Martin, President of G.F. Heublein & Brothers, a food import and export company.  Martin had bought a small Canadian vodka distillery that just may have heard of: Smirnoff.  His plan was to popularise the spirit in the USA.  The problem was that those were rather hard times for anything related to Russia.  The USA was fighting communism and drinking vodka was seen as an undeniably Bolchevik habit – kind of like eating little children, sodomizing people on the street and everything else that Americans thought Russian, homicidal, barbarian communists were doing.

Over a decade later, Martin was frustrated and exhausted.  He had commented to his friend Jack Morgan, owner of the Cock ‘n Bull Bar in Los Angeles, about his difficulty in selling the drink.  In turn, Jack explained that he was having similar problems with his handmade ginger beer, which he produced so lovingly.  A third person who was also in the bar – and who has never been identified – complained that he had hundreds of copper mugs that weren’t easy to sell either.

 

hard times.

Jack and Martin, therefore did what every drunk in a bar would do.  They put the three things together.  This is how they came up with a cocktail that contained vodka, ginger beer and lemon and was served in an elegant copper mug.  A huge advertising campaign was organized and included the likes of the celebrities Woody Allen and Monique Van Vooren.  The creation was named Moscow Mule, referring to the vodka and the intensity of the ginger flavour that had the kick of a mule.  The cocktail was an instant success, and to this day is recognised for its characteristic copper cup.

The Whisky Mule, on the other hand, is the improved version of the cocktail.  This time, improved not only because it contains whisky instead of vodka, but because it replaces ginger beer with an incredible lime and cardamom foam, originally created by bartender Marcelo Serrano, and later adapted for the Whisky Mule by another talented bartender.  This, in the Dog’s opinion, is one of the most unbelievable emulsions in the world and he isn’t in the habit of categorising and classifying emulsions.  It’s like Dave Wondrich once said, “vodka is like the boneless chicken breast of mixology – it’s all about the sauce.”  In this case, not only the sauce was improved, the chicken was replaced with bourbon.

Making a Whisky Mule isn’t exactly simple.  The problem is not really the cocktail, but the ginger foam.  For best results you need a whipping siphon, a not so safe tool and both specific and a little expensive.  It is possible however, to make the foam in a blender.  So, for each cocktail it needs to be prepared again.  Be that as it may, and without further ado, here is the recipe of the improved version of one of the most iconic cocktails of all time: The Whisky Mule:

WHISKEY MULE

INGREDIENTS

  • 30 ml of Tahiti lemon juice
  • 50 ml of bourbon
  • 15 ml of sugar syrup
  • Ginger foam with cardamom*
  • Nutmeg
  • Mint leaf to finish

 

PREPARATION

  1. Mix the syrup, Bourbon and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Pour the contents into a copper mug (OK, that’s kind of specific, you can use any mug or even a tumbler, I’ll let you off).
  3. Top it off with the ginger foam with cardamom.
  4. Grate nutmeg on top of the foam.

*For the foam:

  1. Peel 100 grams of fresh ginger.
  2. In the blender, mix up 100ml of water, 200ml of lemon juice and 100ml of sugar syrup, ginger and 3 cardamom pods on a high setting.
  3. Strain into another container and then return the liquid to the blender.
  4. Add a tea spoon of xanthan gum.
  5. Mix again and allow to cool in a refrigerator.
  6. If you have a whipping siphon, place the emulsion in the siphon ready to use when you make the cocktail.  Shake well before serving.

 

Dewar’s 25 YO – About Time

I’ve been thinking a lot about time. Not the portuguese perfect homonym for weather. because everybody knows that this weather is crazy, and sometimes it’s cold in the morning, it’s hot in the afternoon and it rains at night, and we go out with a wardrobe of something we will not even use. I do not mean this “time“.

I refer to the passage of seconds, minutes, hours, days, months and years. That time, theme of the famous refutation of Borges. The essence of which we are made, the river that robs me, the tiger that devours me, the fourth dimension.

Such time is interesting. It destroys. Nothing is permanent. The passage of time brings disorder, chaos, decay and degradation. Allow enough time for something, that it will always collapse and cease to exist. But it’s not all drama. Time, for us, also has a healing face. The nostalgia. Nostalgia trims the pointy edges of memory, and highlights what had once been good. Our memory tends to lessen suffering and rekindle happiness. Must be some form of protection.

And it is not only with our memory that time has this function – how can I define it – cosmetic. With the whisky too. The maturation of whiskies in barrels does exactly what time does with the memory, turning it into nostalgia. And this is the fascination that very matured whiskeys exert. A promise of lightness, delicacy, and delight. And that’s exactly what Dewar’s 25 years, the oldest expression of the brand’s permanent portfolio, offers.

According to Dewar’s: “Dewar’s 25 is a blended scotch premium whiskey, launched in September 2017. The new addition to the Dewar’s portfolio will succeed Dewar’s Signature (no-age statement) as a part of Dewar’s dedication and commitment to age statements across its premium range of blended Scotch whiskies.

A meticulous search of the cask inventory revealed an intriguing array of fine aged malt and grain Scotch whiskies aged 25 years and older. Each cask was individually sampled and assessed by Master Blender, Stephanie MacLeod before being chosen. Once MacLeod was satisfied that she had a perfectly balanced flavour profile in the DEWAR’S House Style, the specially selected casks were blended together and then filled into oak casks for an additional period of maturation, a process pioneered by DEWAR’s, known as double-ageing, to add more depth and enriched smoothness.

Stephanie Macleod

But there is an important detail about the finishing process – or rather, extra maturation – of Dewar’s 25, so celebrated by the brand. The barrels used for this last stage were previously used by the single malt Royal Brackla, which is also part of the recipe of Dewar’s 25 years. In more confusing words, it is a blend, which uses a single malt which is part of its recipe, and that it spends some more time in the barrels of that same single malt. A gorgeous single malt – this dog’s favorite within the Dewar’s portfolio.

There does not seem to be much logic behind this finalization. After all, the drink that was in the barrel is the same one that makes up the blend. But there are nuances in this story. The barrels used for finishing are not necessarily the same ones that were used for the blend. In addition, this extra maturation time, after the whisky is blended, makes its parts more harmonic – it’s like leaving the pizza in the refrigerator to eat the other day. It becomes more tasty – this is another benefit of time.

This Dog had the pleasure of sampling Dewar’s 25 years in a tasting he presented, some time ago during a brand event in Brazil. At the opportunity, Dewar’s 25 was chosen as the public’s favorite, closely followed by his younger brother, the 18-year-old Dewar. And although he has not tasted whiskey for some time while writing this proof, the impressions – and notes – have lasted. Good things usually stay even more vividly recorded.

Now that is a backdrop.

The 25 year old Dewar is a rather delicate and fruity but very complex whisky, with peaches, apple and caramel. The finish in the palate is long and vinic. It is a delicious blend, but it requires some attention – and perhaps time – to be appreciated (usually good impressions endure). A more rushed drinker, or a lover of the intensity that some single malts offer, could fall into the fallacy of considering it a simple whiskey. Simply because of the smoothness and balance of its characteristics.

The exact composition of Dewar’s 25 years is a secret. However, like every Dewar line, we can assume that most of them carry the malts belonging to the Bacardi group. They are: Aberfeldy, Craigellachie, The Deveron (produced at the Macduff distillery), Aultmore and the aforementioned Royal Brackla, and, of course, grain whiskey. As you know, because you read the Bottled Dog, all these components must be matured for at least twenty-five years. Without prejudice to having even older whiskeys in the mix.

If you’re looking for a premium blended whiskey that will please most palates but still offer incredible complexity, Dewar’s 25 years is a natural choice. It is a blend to be savoured with calm and time, and a perfect companion for any reflection. Even over time. Because even though it may bring deterioration, it is also capable, with the aid of talent, of producing extraditionary things. Like Dewar’s 25 years.

DEWAR’S 25 YEARS OLD

Type: Blended Whiskey with age defined – 25 years

Brand: Dewar’s

Region: N / A

ABV: 40%

Tasting Notes:

Aroma: fruity aroma, with apple. Fortified wine.

Taste: Light and extremely delicate. Very balanced, with fruit, apple and peach. The finish is long and tends to fortified wine.

With water: The water makes the whiskey even more delicate, and highlights the fruity note. However, this Dog recommends to appreciate this pure here.

Price: R $ 1,100.00 (one thousand and one hundred reais).

Backer 3 Lobos Single Malt – Promises

When I was born, my dad had a gold Puma car.  From my earliest, tender childhood years I loved that car.  My dad probably did too, because he kept it for a good five years after I was born.  The problem was that the car only had two seats and I was only a child, I wasn’t allowed to sit in the front seat.  This, of course, didn’t stop my dad from putting me on the hard ledge behind the passenger seat to take me for a spin around the block.

In the eighties, seat belts and common sense were optional.  The laws of physics probably were too, because as I grew, it became more and more difficult to fit into that fascinating but uncomfortable space.  When I was five my spinal cord fitted round the harrowing curve of the back windscreen and the muffled bumps of my head on the roof of the car kept time with the terribly uneven road surface.

 

Safe for children from the 80s

To tell the truth, it wasn’t only the back seat that was missing in the Puma.  It was a Spartan car, though very well made.  When my dad finally traded it for a Monza, in which I could comfortably stretch out on the backseat – I was genuinely disappointed.  The Puma wasn’t just a car, it was our pride and joy.  The most successful Brazilian sportscar, although not the first – a promise from our national car industry that, despite some commendable efforts like the Lobini and Vorax, was never fulfilled.

Perhaps a similar promise has just been made in the whisky world.  The Backer Brewery from Minas Gerais state has launched a single malt.  Three Lobos (Three Wolves) Whiskey Single Malt, which is also known as Experience.  Despite being written with an “e”, the whisky is produced according to Scottish tradition, with malted barley – the same used in some Backer beers – and in copper stills.  Moreover, these stills, have been especially made for the distillery and closely resemble their Scottish counterparts.

 Backer stills (photo: Gustavo Andrade)

The Backer Brewery was founded in 1999 by the Lebbos brothers, near Serra do Curral, in Minas Gerais state.  The brewery currently has its own bar, called Templo Cervejeiro – in Belo Horizonte with an extensive portfolio of beers.  Among them is Bravo American Imperial Porter, aged in Amburana barrels and one of this dog’s favourites.  The brand has also launched, along with its whisky, a gin, which has a typical beer ingredient – hops.

It’s pretty daring for Backer to choose this moment to try a sector we don’t know very well yet and I’m sure it’s going to work out well.  We’re not just making spirits.  We are producing distillates that contain ingredients used in breweries.  That is the main point.  Our single malt has its own characteristics because it is distilled in copper stills and made from brewer’s yeast,” explains Paula Lebbos, Director of Backer.

Aging of the Three Lobos Single Malt took place in ex-Jim Beam  american oak barrels for over five years.  For the first batch, just over five thousand bottles were produced and put on sale on the Backer website for R$180.00 (one hundred and eighty Brazilian reais).  If you visit the distillery – which is in Templo Cervejeiro – you can also try the new-make-spirit, which gave rise to the whisky.

Templo (photo: Gustavo Andrade)

For this dog, the Three Lobos Single Malt resembles a young single malt from Speyside or the Highlands.  The aroma is fruity and sweetened with vanilla.  The flavour is reminiscent of fruit compote, with caramel, cinnamon and a spicy grain finish.  The alcohol is relatively well integrated for a whisky of its age, although it is pronounced, especially in the aroma.

It’s easy to see the dedication of everyone involved in the production of Three Lobos Single Malt Whiskey.  From the packaging to the attractive visual identity of the bottle.  Sensorially, it’s a young, balanced whisky.  Above all, however, it is an extraordinary start for a distillery in a country with virtually no tradition in whisky production.  It’s just like our dear Puma – a promise.

A promise that in this dog’s opinion is almost fulfilled.

BACKER TRES LOBOS SINGLE MALT

Type: Single Malt

Distillery: Backer

Country: Brazil

ABV: 40%

Tasting notes:

Aroma: fruity, with vanilla and caramel.  Almost like a bourbon.  A little alcoholic.

Flavour: Fruity start, with pear and fruit compote.  A little cinnamon.  Sweet finish with vanilla.  Relatively well-integrated alcohol.

Price: R$ 180,00 (one hundred and eighty reais) from the Official Backer Shop.

 

*details of the tasting of this whisky were provided by a source involved in its production.  The Dog did however, have complete editorial licence over the content of this post.

Drops – Laphroaig 10YO Cask Strength

Once I mentioned the Ariel Atom, a car that can hardly be considered a car.  There is no radio, no windscreen, certainly no air-conditioning, no roof, no doors and don’t even think about a boot.  The Ariel Atom reminds of a funny Brazilian children’s song about a house that has nothing.  Like the house in this song, the Ariel Atom doesn’t even have a pot to pee in – but it actually should have, because it scares you that much.  The Atom has a steering wheel, a strong engine and the power to rip the skin off your face, Ghost Rider-style, when you put your foot to the floor.

The Atom does 0-60 in less than three seconds.  It is very fast.  However, seeing as for some madmen this didn’t seem to be enough, the company decided it would make an even more powerful car.  The Atom 500, with a V8 engine and 507 horsepower, capable of thrusting the car from one to sixty miles per hour in 2.3 seconds.  Ariel made it even lighter to counterbalance the block material and added aerofoils to increase downforce.  The looks just like a toy – a fast and completely insane toy.

In the whisky world, the perfect parallel to the Ariel Atom might just be Laphroaig 10 years Cask Strength.  It is a souped up version of a far-from-delicate whisky.  The traditional version – Laphroaig 10 – is peated and medicinal, with a taste of iodine and leather.  Sensorially speaking, it’s not altogether the most accessible whisky.  But seeing as many see the challenge of drinking it as pretty easy, the distillery also has a limited edition: Laphroaig 10 Year Old Cask Strength.  It is the same, smoky monster but with an alcohol content in excess of 55%, instead of 40%.

Cask Strength

Laphroaig 10 Year Old Cask Strength is an annual limited edition.  Every year a new batch is released.  Each one of them is the result of mixing barrels with a minimum 10-year maturation – maturation that takes place mainly in American oak barrels previously containing bourbon whisky.  In the specific case of Laphroaig, the vast majority of this type of barrel come from Maker’s Mark, the famous whisky producer in the United States.  The whisky is not diluted before being bottled, therefore the alcohol content varies from one batch to another.  The whisky in the photo is from batch 007, released in 2015 and its strength is 56.3%.

Laphroaig has already been extensively reviewed in our portuguese version of this Blog.  As you may or may not know, it’s smoked because of the malted barley drying process, which uses a peat-fuelled fire.  It was founded in 1815, by brothers Donald and Alexander Johnston, and celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 2015.  It currently belongs to Beam-Suntory along with Maker’s Mark, Bowmore, Auchentoshan, and, of course the Japanese whiskies Hibiki, Hakushu and Yamazaki.

As you’ve probably already assumed, Laphroaig 10 Year Old Cask Strength is not available in Brazil.  To tell you the truth, it’s barely available in the world.  Laphroaig is one of the most beloved distilleries in Scotland and its special editions are particularly sought after.  It is possible however, if you’re lucky, to find some bottles in European or American shops, or even directly on the distillery website.  But if all this seems a bit too much for you, look for the original Laphroaig 10 Year Old on sale in Brazil for around R$ 350,00.  It’s not exactly a bargain, but if I you ask me, I’d run faster than an Atom to buy one.

LAPHROAIG 10 YEAR OLD CASK STRENGTH BATCH 007

Type: Single Malt – 10-year-old.

Distillery: Laphroaig

Region: Islay

ABV: 56.3%

Tasting notes:

Aroma: peated and smoky.  Very spicy with iodine.

Flavour: smoky and dry, salty and medicinal at first with a progressively peated finish.

With water: Adding water makes the whisky sweeter, less spicy and intensifies the iodine and medicinal tones.

Availability: Only international shops.

 

Springbank 15 – Drops

If you like cars, you must have heard of the Nissan GTR.  The Nissan GTR is the heir of Skyline, a super-sporty Japanese car although produced by the Prince Motor Company.  In 2009, the GTR entered the Guinness Book of Records for having the fastest acceleration from 0-60mph for a four-seater.  This however, isn’t so important.  What is, is that the GTR (and its parent, the Skyline) is one of the most sought-after and talked-about cars by any auto-geek.

It might be because the car has starred in some video game, or gained fame by outdoing much more expensive cars when it comes to performance.  If you dare speak badly about the GTR to an enthusiast, you’ll be in dire straits.  The GTR is the automotive version of that joke about a lonely guy in the desert that starts to prepare a Dry Martini.  Out of the blue, someone would appear to tell him he used too much – or too little – vermouth.  If, one day, you’re feeling terribly lonely, just start proclaiming, ‘the Porsche Carrera is better than the GTR’.  I’m pretty sure someone will just pop out of a drain or your closet to tell you otherwise.

In the world of whisky, Springbank is the Nissan GTR.  A very good single malt, whose fame makes it more than impeccable.  Springbank has cult status among enthusiasts and its limited editions practically make shelves almost immediately after being released.

This kind of success rarely has one single reason.  This Dog, however, believes that it is down to two.  The first, the indisputable quality and regularity of the new releases.  Although not all of them are extraordinary, it is practically impossible to find a bad one.  Secondly, Springbank is one of the only independent distilleries in the whole of Scotland, as well as being one of the few that runs the entire production process – from malting to bottling – entirely on-site.  There is something romantic about knowing that the malt is produced in an artisanal way, in an increasingly automated world dominated by large conglomerates.

Springbank is one of the only distilleries in Campbeltown, a city that had long been considered the whisky capital of the world.  The region, which had thirty-four distilleries during the fifties, now only has three.  The other two are Glengyle and Glen Scotia.

Campbeltown

Despite its artisanal appearance, the distillery has a good variety of whiskies.  There are three distinct lines.  The first homonymous – Springbank, the subject of this post – is lightly peated.  The second, Hazelburn, is triple distilled and also unpeated, producing to a light, sweet whisky.  The third – called Longrow – is the opposite of the second.  It is a substantially peated, and relatively oily whisky.

Sprinkbank 15 is, above all, extremely balanced.  It is a complex, oily, fruity and slightly peated whisky with a chocolate and woody finish.  It is unquestionably good.  However, in this canine’s opinion, it’s nothing that will change alcoholic paradigms forever or spoil the experience of drinking anything that does not come from the same distillery.  It is a fair malt, above average and produced with great care.  Yet, just like the GTR, it is far from imposing on other excellent malts.

Be that as it may, Sprinkbank 15 years, or, to tell the truth, any Springbank, is a necessary tipple for any whisky enthusiast.  It is wonderful proof of how traditional production methods of a secular drink such as whisky still have their place in today’s market.  In short, it is a malt that emanates admiration and respect, even if most days you prefer Porsches.

SPRINGBANK 15 YEARS

Type: Single Malt 15 years old

Distillery: Springbank

Region: Campbeltown

ABV: 46%

Tasting notes:

Aroma: Slightly smoked.  Fruity with raisins and nuts.

Flavour:  Dried fruits, prunes.  A lightly smoked and long finish.  Oily and quite complex.

Available: only international shops.

 

Macallan Edition No. 3 – Exclusive Aroma

Queen of the Night smells like a broken tooth. Not to everyone but it does to me.  Whenever I smell the scent of the flower, I discretely run my tongue over my teeth as I feel a mismatched sense of relief.  Phew!  It’s just the flower, nothing fell out this time.  At the age of eight, I broke a tooth.  I was running in my Grandmother’s garden near some pots of Queen of the Night one evening.  I clearly remember the twilight, the smell of jasmine, tripping and falling, passing out and the taste of rust in my mouth.  To this day, if I smell Queen of the Night I am unwillingly taken back to that specific memory.

Olfactory memory is a powerful thing.  Theis clarity has a name: The Proustian Phenomenon.  It is a tribute to the French writer, Marcel Proust, who described in his ‘À la recherche du temps perdu’ (In Search of Lost Time) that the smell of tea-dipped biscuits took him back to his aunt’s house.  Even Science has seriously considered this phenomenon.  According to English researchers, the vividness of memories brought by smells is caused by conformation of the brain.  The part of the brain that processes odours is in the limbic system, linked to our emotions.

These emotions are so strong that they can lead lives, like that of British perfumer Roja Dove.  “At some specific long-lost moment, a fragrant molecule entered my being and I was forever changed, my destiny was forged, its path galvanised. There was no other path to tread than that of perfumery, and along its colourful brick-road I have encountered the work of mighty geniuses who allow their creativity to become part of our core, our being, our ‘id’ – as it stops us dead in our tracks, brings tears to our eyes or smiles to our faces. How can anyone not love perfumery?

This scent… reminds me of whisky!

It is undeniable that smell also plays a crucial role in the appreciation of whisky.  It is through smell that we can perceive most of its sensory characteristics, that is, almost all of them.  The rest is sweet-bitter-salty-sour-umami.  It would therefore make perfect sense to invite a famous international perfumer – Roja, mentioned above – to assist in the process of creating a whisky.  This is precisely what the prestigious The Macallan did with its Macallan Edition No. 3, which was recently launched in Brazil, and available in limited quantities.

In the words of The Macallan: “Roja brought his skill to the distillery, nosing a range of whisky samples and providing his thoughts and interpretation of the character and aromas he encountered.  Roja’s articulation of aromas to select dominant notes to help shape the final character of Edition No.3.

The variety of barrels used to produce Macallan Edition No. 3 shows the perfumer’s zeal.  They are casks from the Spanish cooperage Hudosa, first-fill American oak barrels, European and American oak refill barrels, first-fill barrels made by Tevasa coopers; European oak barrels, first-fill American oak hogsheads that formerly contained bourbon and first-fill bourbon barrels.  That is, without proper names, formats and sizes: first-fill and refill barrels made of European and American oak. Let’s keep it simple.

Thinking carefully about the sensory characteristics of each barrel, the impression is that the Macallan Edition No. 3 is a variation of our well-known Fine Oak.  Sensorially, however, they are relatively different expressions.  Starting with the perfume: Unsurprisingly, one of the highlights of Macallan Edition No. 3 is its aroma.  For this Dog, it might even be one of the most interesting recent releases from The Macallan.  To the nose, the whisky brings the traditional scent of sherry with more vanilla and caramel.  Its flavour, in turn, is citric and floral with orange, more vanilla and caramel.  The finish is long and sweet.

The numbered editions of The Macallan, known simply as “The Edition Series” are limited annual releases, which explore Macallan’s vision of whisky production and bring out details of its creation.  Many of them rely on the participation of specialists from other industries, like Edition No. 2 and the brothers, and chefs, behind the world-famous restaurant El Celler de Can Roca.  According to the distillery itself, “At the heart of The Edition Series is our desire to innovate; to push the boundaries and challenge expectations in the creation, experience and enjoyment of The Macallan.

Edition Series (source: Highestspirits)

On its international website, The Macallan, writes, “Continuing the story of our oak casks and obsession with wood that is fundamental in the creation of all Macallan single malt, The Edition Series provides the freedom to look beyond the traditional cask styles used in other Macallan whiskies…Collaborating with partners from different fields of expertise, each release in the series is an individual – a true marriage of Macallan mastery and the unique influence from diverse backgrounds to the whisky making process.”

If you’re looking for an oily, vinous, but still extremely well-balanced whisky with a fantastic perfume, Macallan Edition No. 3 is quite a find.  But hurry – according to Maurício Leme, brand manager in Brazil – only very few bottles are disembarking here.  It would be a pity to miss out on trying it.  After all, this is a single malt that will stay in your olfactory memory for a very, very long time.

THE MACALLAN EDITION NO. 3

Type: Single Malt (no age statement)

Distillery: Macallan

Region: Speyside

ABV: 48,3% (here is an Easter egg for you.  Edition No. 1 contained 48,1%, the second 48,2%.  What will happen to the 10th?)

Tasting Notes:

Aroma: sherry, vanilla, caramel.  A little coconut.  The balance is incredible – you can easily fragment the aroma, just by paying attention to each one.

Flavour: Caramel, black pepper.  Fortified wine.  Vanilla.  The finish is sweet and long with a certain spiciness.

Availability: Brazilian shops (average price R$ 600,00 – six hundred reais)

Tasting with Robin Coupar – Wild Turkey Global Brand Ambassador

Thursday, 2:30 p.m. Three whiskey glasses set in front of me. In the adjoining room, bartenders prepare cocktails with whiskey for guests – among them, a variation of a mash, created by Paulo Freitas, Brazilian ambassador for Wild Turkey and Campari. Given the ome of the day and the ethylic assemblage, this is not a normal day of work.

But there’s a reason. Robin Coupar, the global ambassador of Wild Turkey, arrived in Brazil to guide a series of tastings, and this Dog had the pleasure of participating in one of them. During the presentation, Robin – who is Scottish and passionate about everything related to whiskey – told some details about the history and production of Wild Turkey.

The tastings are part of the Behind The Barrel competition, which gathered 30 Brazilian participants. The competition is an invitation from Wild Turkey Bourbon, owned by Campari Group, for bartenders to create a “Cocktail that Represents your Personality” using Wild Turkey 101.

Not your average work day

Coupar presented us with some very intersting facts about Wild Turkey, such as their low dillution. The product of the distillation – the white dog – fills the barrels almost “still strength”. This makes the flavor brought by the whiskey mashbill more evident, even after it has fully matured.

During the event, we had the opportunity to sample three whiskeys from the brand’s portfolio. The Wild Turkey Bourbon (formerly known as Wild Turkey 81), the Wild Turkey 101 and the Wild Turkey Rye. The latter, a version with reduced alcoholic strength of the well-known 101 Rye.

Robin explained that the mashbill of the Wild Turkey Bourbon and his brother 101 is the same. Like all bourbon, there is predominance of corn. The difference between the two is in the alcoholic graduation and in the average maturation, which is longer in the more alcoholic version. In the case of 101 Rye, of course, the mashbill changes, and the predominant grain becomes rye.

Robin, thinking about whiskey

The ambassador also showed how the entire process of manufacturing Wild Turkey is handcrafted and supervised by Eddie and Jimmy Russell, Wild Turkey managers and master distillers, who have over 90 years of experience in the bourbon manufacturing process.

Finally, a surprise. We were presented with a dram of Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel, a whiskey bourbon produced by Wild Turkey in limited quantities, with a 55% alcohol content, and coming from casks specially selected for their quality and maturation.

Really, that was far from a normal day’s work.

Smokin’ Bob Negroni

Photo: Tales Hideki

On a winter night in Oakland 1905, an eleven-year-old boy named Frank Epperson accidentally left a glass of water, soft drink powder and a stick he had used to mix the two outside his house.  At that moment, he had no idea what he had just created.

The next day, the boy found his frozen drink with a stick conveniently standing upright in the middle – perfect for picking it up.  The world’s first ice lolly was born.  Some years later, Epperson himself set about patenting his serendipity.

A century later, Epperson’s creation can be found all over the world.  Despite some wrong turns – Mexican Popsicles and that long round frozen yoghurty thing, for example – it has never gone out of fashion.  It’s like Negroni: Almost a century old and in perfect shape.

A turn to the worse

 

In fact, Negroni was also created in a very unpretentious way. Its story is told in the book Sulle Tracce del Conte: La Vera Storia del Cocktail Negroni, by Lucca Picchi, bartender at Caffe Rivoire, in Florence, Italy.

According to the book, the cocktail was created in 1919 at Bar Casoni, which is also in Florence, when the Count Camillo Negroni asked the bartender Forsco Scarselli to make him an American with gin instead of water. The Count never imagined he had just created one of the greatest classic cocktails ever, but it’s exactly what had happened.

Today, the cocktail is so famous that there is an entire week dedicated to it: Negroni Week, presented by Campari and Imbibe Magazine.  The week was launched in 2013 and is occurs annually.  In 2018, in Brazil Negroni Week was from 4th to 10th June.  During those days, participating bars created different versions of Negroni’s recipe and part of the sales of these drinks was given to charities.

Inspired by this week and at the Dog’s request, teacher and bartender Rodolfo Bob, of Axado Bar and owner of the website O Bar Virtual, has created a version of this cocktail: the Smokin’ Bob Negroni.  So, dear readers, take outi tuoi quaderni and make notes.  It’s a negroni that contains the only ingredient capable of improving this legendary cocktail.  Of course, I’m talking about whisky and the best type, peated, obviously.

SMOKIN’ BOB NEGRONI

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 dose of gin
  • 1 part of vermouth (Bob used Antica Formula)
  • 1 part of Campari
  • 1/2 part of elderflower liqueur (St. Germain)
  • 1/2 part of Laphroaig Select (you can try substituting with another pleated whisky, but bear in mind that something smokier will dominate the taste of the cocktail, so use less).
  • Salt flower
  • Dehydrated flower petals (I’ll put this is in as an option…)
  • All the paraphernalia used for making a cocktail (cocktail spoon, mixing glass etc)
  • Tumbler
  • Ice

PREPARATION

  1. Mix the liquid ingredients (gin, vermouth, Campari, St. Germain and Laphroaig) in a mixing glass with plenty of ice.
  2. Pour the mixture into a tumbler with ice (preferably ice cubes).
  3. Sprinkle the salt and flower petals (if you decide to use them) onto the ice.  Go easy on the salt, champ, remember it’ll melt the ice.

 

Ancnoc Blas – Private Relationship

We form sentimental relationships with a lot of things: with the car that we drove on an incredible trip, the film we watched that time with someone special and the song that helped us overcome a challenge.  It’s not necessarily good or bad, but it’s a feeling that something is special to you, however trivial it may seem to others.  They are things that are part of a moment of epiphany, or that mark some sort of change in our lives.

One of the whiskies that holds a special place in my memory is AnCnoc.  AnCnoc was my favourite in the most important tasting I went to on my first trip to Scotland.  I was so impressed that the last thing I did before boarding my flight back to Brazil was run to the duty free shop and buy a bottle to take home – AnCnoc 16 years old.

Naturally, I thought that with time and after trying other malts, the feeling would fade.  In fact, it didn’t at all.  After that 16-year-old, I had another four different bottles. And I liked them all.  They all had the same suave characteristic, the smooth, melted butteriness that fascinated me.  My favourite, however, is AnCnoc Blas – whose name means “flavour” in Gaelic.

Blas is a souped up version – to use a more technical expression ‘Cask Strength’- of the classic tasting profile of its distillery. Which, incidentally, is not called AnCnoc, but Knockdhu.  The unusual difference between the name of the whisky and the distillery has a very clear reason.  It is to keep drunken whisky lovers from confusing it with Knockando, another distillery, whose whiskies are also called Knockando.

Knockdhu is in Aberdeenshire, in the Scottish Highlands, and boasts an impressive and varied range.  There are no age statement whiskies – like Blas – and other more matured offerings like the incredible 25-year-old.  There are also special peaty editions, which are peated to different degrees.  The distillery is extremely versatile and in the partial opinion of this dog – and sorry for the canine reference – a hell of an underdog, along with Ben Nevis.

AnCnoc Blas is a special edition of Knockdhu, in collaboration with the Scottish designer Patrick Grant.  If you think it’s strange that a designer was involved in producing a single malt, let me explain: Grant was responsible for illustrating the packaging and whisky label.  In the words of the designer, “I spent a lot of time at Knockdhu not only taking in the landscape and the surrounding areas but getting to know the people that work there and the methods that they use. Everything in the print is from the hill, the village of Knock or from within the distillery itself and tells the story of the making of Blas.  I’ve tried to interpret AnCnoc’s history and tradition in a modern way, and hope this is translated through the aesthetic of the bottle.

Patrick and Blas

It’s not the first time that Knockdhu has worked with a well-known personality in an unlikely collaboration.  Other limited editions produced by the distillery featured illustrations by Peter Arkle, a Scottish artist.  If you think all this drawing talk is silly, calm down – AnCnoc Blas doesn’t only dress differently.  As mentioned above, it is bottled at cask strength and has 54% alcohol content – something quite unusual for AnCnoc.

Perhaps I am exaggerating.  Maybe AnCnoc Blas is just another good whisky, among so many good whiskies.  Or perhaps it just benefitted from the moment – after all it is easier to fall in love in Scotland than in your living room!  Yet it is precisely this uncertainty, the feeling that I think it’s better than others might do, that makes it even more special.

ANCNOC BLAS

Type: No age statment single malt whisky

Distillery: Knockdhu

Region: Highlands

ABV: 54%

Tasting Notes:

Aroma: Honey, vanilla, caramelised nuts.

Flavour: Fruity, slightly citric, with honey, vanilla and lemon grass. Sweet and smooth finish.