Best of the Best 2009

Posted by Leo | Posted in , , | Posted on 23:07

Well, November 2009 saw the yearly Best of the Best whisky tasting at Regional Wines & Spirits.
And it was bloody brilliant!

What:            Best of the Best 2009
When:           18 November 2009
Where:          Firth hall, Wellington College, Wellington, NZ
Why:              To taste the years best whiskies from Regionals 2009 tastings
Who:             108 crazed whisky fans plus these two fine individuals

So there we were after 9 months of intensive whisky tastings with the finest malts of 2009 staring us in the face. With us, 108 thirsty souls shoehorned into Firth Hall on the Wellington college campus, which is just over the road from my happy place (Regional wines and spirits).

And I am here to tell you it was a salubrious event crammed full of Bagpipes, Haggis, dodgy kilts and (of course) a wonderful array of Single Malt Scotch Whisky! some Glenmorangie :-(

The whiskies were as follows:

Malt: Ardbeg Still Young 56.2%                                                   
Score: 8.96

Malt: Bruichladdich PC7  61.0%                                                                             
Score: 8.81

Malt: Glengrant 22 y.o. 62.1%  Bottled by Adelphi Cask# 10184,                                      
Score: 8.65

Malt: Glenfarclas 105 10 y.o. 60.0%                                        
Score: 8.40
Malt: Glenmorangie ‘Astar’ 57.1%                                                                         
Score: 8.27
Malt: Bowmore ‘Old Malt Cask’ 15 y.o. 50.0%      (Mystery)                      
Score: 8.20
Malt: Glengarioch 17 y.o. 55.8% Adelphi Cask#2689                                        
Score: 7.97

Dang, what a wide range of whiskies, something for all tastes!

Best Dram of the evening: Had to be the Ardbeg. I love the young cask strength Islays!

Worst Dram of the evening: Bowmore OMC. Surprising for an Islay. Tasted like dishwater!

But as if that wasn't good enough, both Donna and myself picked 7 out of 7!  Yay, first time for me and.......well....second time for Donna! Fairly sure I'm not gonna hear the end of that any time soon but what are you gonna do.

Roll on the first tasting of 2010 ...........Kilchoman and Port Charlotte.....T minus 34 days and counting!!

Upcoming Events

Posted by Leo | Posted in | Posted on 23:20

A medium-sized friend sent this to me recently. An upcoming event in the Wellington region.

The Scotch Whisky Society is having a tasting in March at the Museum Hotel and I'm gonna go!!

A week at Kilchoman part-2

Posted by Leo | Posted in | Posted on 19:59

Ok, so here is part 2 of my adventures at Kilchoman distillery manufacturing the tasty tasty whisky....

As you will recall the malted, kilned barley had just been ground to a grist!

One tonne of grist is mixed with 4000 litres of water at 68deg C through the mashing machine into the mash tun.

It is left to sit for 25 minutes and drained away into a washback. Then a 1700 litre second water is added at 80deg C. This is also drained away to the washback resulting in 5400 litres for fermentation.

 When a steady temperature of 20c is achieved, 15kg mauri distillers yeast is added to start the fermentation. This lasts for around 48 hours but can last up to 80 hour if the phenol content is much higher. Once the fermentation is complete the wash will be 7-8% abv. (And quite tasty i'll have you know!)

Half the washback is charged into the wash stilll (2700 litres). One third of which will be collected as low wines. It is heated and starts to release alcohol vapours at around 80deg C. It is run until the remaining alcohol is about 1%.

 Above we can see the condensors for the wash and spirit stills and how they are routed into the spirit safe.

 The low wines, and feints from the previous spirit run are charged into the spirit still at an average strength of 23%-24% and are heated to 85deg C. The resulting vapours still contain impurities and a "centre cut" of the collected spirit is taken.

The spirit is routed through the spirit safe and its specific gravity is checked at regular intervals to ensure only the "centre cut " of the spirit is taken. Spirit is run through until its ABV is 73% then the flow is switched over to the ISR or intermediate spirit reservoir (below) and it is switched back at 60%. Kilchomans lower cut point however is at 65.5%.

The tasty spirit is then pumped accross the courtyard to the filling resrvoir in the warehouse. Prior to filling the spirit is reduced in strength to 63.5% by adding water. 63.5% is apparently the optimum ABV for filling a barrel according to most distilleries. Bruichladdich differs on this point, and their policy seems to be 'add the full strength spirit to the casks'. ie why store water in your warehouse? But that's a whole other post!

Finally, here is some handsome fellow filling up a 500 litre sherry butt with tasty Kilchoman raw spirit with a gravity fed hose. Interesting facts...........(1) There was at least 20 litres of sherry in the barrel prior to filling so it's easy to see how the barrel and contents impart some flavours to the whisky.........and (2) it's final weight was.....552kg.

If you want to do a weeks work experience at Kilchoman look here.

You 'work' five mornings then you are free to do your own thing in the afternoons like explore the distilleries or drink your way to better health at Duffy's in Bowmore.

A week at Kilchoman Part-1

Posted by Leo | Posted in , , , | Posted on 16:21

Kilchoman is a new farm distillery on the west coast of Islay that has just released it's inaugural 3yo single malt. I was lucky enough to spend a salubrious week there in early September 2009, learning how the 'Tasty tasty whisky' is made!
The following is a brief rundown on what I got up to whilst at that fine establishment!

My first view of Kilchoman from the carpark out the back. The main structure in the centre contains, the malting floor below and the kiln in the tower above. To the right of the picture you can just see the warehouse where a number of the maturing barrels are stored.

Peaty water is taken from the big white holding tanks and combined with the barley in the stainless vessel above, in a process called steeping. The barley is steeped three times for 8-10 hours each then spread out over the malting floor.

During this time the barley germinates (starts to grow). It is left on the floor for 5-7 days depending on the temperature and turned regularly so as to not heat up to much. At the end of this time it is carried up to the kiln floor in a series of mechanical buckets, though some mug has to shovel it in to the chute. It's fun for a while but the novelty soon wears off!

The kiln is then stoked up with a load of peat and the ensuing fire imparts the characteristic smokey Islay style, whilst drying the malted barley. Ten hours of drying imparts about 35-40ppm of phenols into the barley.

The dried malted barley is then 'milled' in a large industrial style mill. This one used live in a brewery on the mainland. The barley needs to be ground to a very specific consistency to enable the maximum amount of sugars to be extracted. At Kilchoman the makeup is 18% husk, 70% middle or grist and 12% flour.

Stay tuned for Part-2 (when I get motivated), where we will look at the mashing and distilling processes...............................................................................