Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Kingsbarn Dream to Dram / Wemyss Nectar Grove - reviews

The whisky "Wo-Man cave"... is full and bursting at the seams!? December 30th 2019 and I'm taking down the little bit of Christmas decorations I had put up. I realize my front closet is full, so I open the doors to my whisky cave and it looks like a hurricane hit it...  Bottles recently purchased still in bags on the floor, no room on the shelves or credenza, drawers so stuffed with sample bottles they don't close anymore...  I make a promise to myself - I gotta clean out this place and start drinking this stuff! Clean I did. I organized the room a little better, gave a few bottles away and proceeded to go through all the samples I had - 122 to be exact!  How the heck do I end up with so many samples!??  The answer my friends - kindness of #whiskyfabric friends. It's pretty much tradition when abroad or at festivals to trade samples, bring sample bottles and go home with way more than you showed up with!??  

With 2020 came a few goals:

1. Run a 5k and 10k (what the hell was I thinking)
2. Write a blog once a week until Dec 30th/2020.
3. Drink at least one whisky sample/week.
4. Travel to Scotland and just "be" a tourist. (Not sure that is even possible?!)
5. Stay in touch with and be more active with many of the whisky friends I've made over the last 13 years.

SO far... I'm doing pretty good on these goals. I'll keep you in the loop on how I'm doing!  So another way to drink said samples:  REVIEW THEM!

A few weeks ago I created a spreadsheet (yes I'm that OC) and I have 24 samples ready to review for the year. May not sound like much but it's a good start.  I thought this week might be a great time to review two whiskies from Scotland. Related but not from the same distillery per say.

Whisky #1 - Kingsbarn Dream to Dram Lowland Single Malt, 46% ABV

Whisky #2 - Wemyss Malts Nectar Grove Blend, 46% ABV

Both samples were given to me by my lovely friend Jacqueline Sutherland (and I do really consider her a very good friend!) during my last trip to Scotland in October 2019. It's not often that we get to spend quality time so I was really chuffed when she and I got to spend half the day chatting over a lovely lunch.

On with the reviews, shall we:

The first whisky is from a modern distillery that has only been in existence for less than 5 years. Owned by Wemyss (Brother and sister duo), it stands on the reputation of their many years of blending and creating independent bottlings.  If you want to read more about Kingsbarn, click here:

I like to take my time when I review whiskies. This one I did over the course of a Sunday afternoon and revisited it on a cold Wednesday night the following week. 

Nose: I gathered from the get go this spent quite a bit of time in ex-bourbon casks: Delicate aromas of newly cut hay, meadows and fresh cantaloupe. Quite elegant and inviting.

Palate: Not at all like the nose, this is zesty lemon peel meets gingerroot with an oaky/resinous backdrop.

Finish: Not overly complicated but quite a satisfying sweet herbal flavour, sort of like chewing on spearmint leaves. 

On Wednesday when it was colder I had a much bigger appreciation for the lingering heat and gingery sensation the whisky was leaving behind.

I can't help but wonder what I would have thought this was had I received a blind sample. Not sure I would have considered it as a whisky that was younger than 5 years old, especially with that very lovely nose.  I remember tasting the newmake when I was there in 2016 and thinking if this sits in the rights casks they are going to have a cracker of a whisky.  Well...  it's lovely. I look forward to seeing/tasting what else will come out of Kingsbarn.

Whisky #2 - Nectar Grove from Wemyss

I'm always fascinated with the names of some of the whiskies that Wemyss comes out with. VELVET FIG... say no more!!! I don't look up anything about the sample when I'm reviewing so I sort of expected some sort of wine or sherry finish. This did not disappoint!

Nose: I immediately detect pumpkin compote (how do I describe that to English people!?) It's like a pumpkin/citrus spice (it has a bit of cinnamon/cloves) marmalade. My mouth watered almost immediately. After I let it sit for a little while and again on the Wednesday evening, I found much more vanilla and a weird freeze dried strawberry smell - not unpleasant just didn't make sense to me.

Palate: In French we have a word that describes silky but also "thick" - Onctueux.  For a moment I was a bit nervous as I was worried it was going to be sickly sweet but it was not.  The right combination of oily, silky, sweet and the feeling I had popped golden raisins that had been soaked in rum in my mouth.

Finish: Warm but then slightly tannic, again not expecting that. A few minutes later, a warming sensation from the inside out...  this, especially on Wednesday was a lovely winter warmer whisky.

It wasn't until I was done my notes on Wednesday that I went to read up on the barrels used and to my surprise Madeira casks are used. I'm not usually a fan as I find the influence leads to a really sweet, wine gummies, artificial flavour'ish…   NOT THE CASE with Nectar Grove.

If you are looking for something new and interesting to try I would certainly recommend either of these whiskies. Thanks again to Jacqueline for sending me home back to Canada with some very unique and special whiskies.

Next week I'm on vacation in Antigua (don't hate me) so I will be writing a blog about sand, rum and beaches. 

Cheers from cold and snowy Canada,

I remain:


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