The 2013 Taipei Spirits Festival

Taipei Spirits Festival 2013

Last Sunday, I decided it was time to stumble off my bar stool and get out in the world and join the Peace Corps.

About halfway down the block, I  changed my mind and decided to attend the 2013 Taipei Spirits Festival instead.

Actually, to call it a “spirits show” is a bit of a misnomer, since it was 95% scotch exhibitors with Beluga Vodka and Remy Martin thrown in for good measure.

On the Scotch side, exhibitors included:

  • Johnnie Walker
  • Bowmore
  • The Famous Grouse
  • Bunnahabhain
  • The Arran Malt
  • Scottish Leader
  • Spey
  • Remy Martin
  • Glen Scotia
  • and a few others

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Although it can’t  compete with the annual Taipei WhiskeyLIVE shows, at NT$600 a ticket this event was a pretty peachy deal for whisky lovers.

The Jerk and his army went home with plenty of glassware (shot and glencairn glasses).

Plus, the servers were extremely generous with their pours …. especially at the end of the day.

Blackadder brought some interesting gear to the dancefloor.

They’re an independent bottler that tries to put out quality offerings without removing the natural flavors, oils, and fats through excess chilling and filtration processes.

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Their Raw Cask offerings were pretty intense.

Some were so RAW you could even spot some sediment floating around at the bottom of the bottle.

The MENU included a 25-year Glen Grant from 1984, a 16-year Aberlour from 1995, an 21-year Bunnahabin from 1991.

All in all it was a pretty nice way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Plus, we got to meet this awesome pooch

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Four Roses Small Batch

 

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Four Roses Small Batch Review

Distillery: Four Roses (owned by Kirin Brewery Company of Japan)
Expression:
Small Batch (approximately 11-13 years)
Category
: Bourbon
Region: Kentucky, USA
ABV: 45%

Ideally I’d be sampling this bottle in a rocking chair on a Kentucky porch during a  moonlit night while listening to crickets chirp away and breathing in some fresh Kentucky air.

But in the crowded hustle and bustle of Taipei City amidst a symphony of honking car horns  and the smell of 臭豆腐, it’s still a fantastic little bourbon.

Nice improvement on the Four Roses Yellow (Standard).

A well-balanced dram, and the higher rye content gives your pallet a swift kick in the pants.

Four Roses Small Batch Tasting Notes

Nose: Caramel, Nutmeg, Dark cherry, light honey
Palate: Spicy Rye, Oak, Vanilla, Light Cinnamon, Floral and Citrus Notes
Finish: Smooth and pleasant, vanilla, relatively long

Score 88/100

Green Spot Irish Whiskey Review

Green Spot Irish Whiskey

 

Green Spot Irish Whiskey Review

Distillery: Mitchell & Sons
Expression: Green Spot (whiskies aged 8 to 9 years)
Category:
Blended Single Pot Still Whiskey
Region:
Ireland
ABV:
40%

 

Green Spot is one of the few remaining Irish bonded whiskeys available. It’s produced by Irish Distillers and sold exclusively to Mitchell & Son, a a Dublin based wine merchant, who is in charge of its distribution. Only 1,200 bottles are produced annually, and most of that is sold in Ireland. But through some stroke of luck, we were able to locate a few bottles of the stuff in a Taiwanese specialty shop.

Green Spot is unique for many reasons. It’s a blend of single pot still whiskies, each aged between 8-9 years. 25% of  the whiskeys used are finished in sherry casks, while the remaining 75% is aged in bourbon barrels.

There’s a big green blotch no the cap of the bottle. The green color — or“spot” — used to indicate how long the whiskey would be kept in cask. It’s sister Yellow Spot is another single pot still whiskey, but it’s bottled at 46% and features a blend of 12-year old whiskeys.

This whisky is super sneaky. Like Bruce Willis’ character in the Sixth Sense, you never really see what’s coming until the bottle’s almost empty. It’s a bit perplexing in the beginning and takes a while for your taste buds to figure out what’s going on.  

Green Spot masquerades itself as a timid dram initially … but slowly releases a few more notes with each sip. Then it switches things up like a shape-shifter.

If you have any friends who insist that single malts are far more complex than blended whiskeys, pour them a dram of this and watch their heads explode.

Green Spot Tasting Notes

Nose: Uniquely aromatic, musky, layered complexity, nostalgic sherry-dust
Palate: Medium-light body, light smoke, malt
Finish: Short warming finish, smooth, leaves you wanting more

Score 90/100

Highland Park 21 Review

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Highland Park 21 

Distillery:  Highland Park
Expression: Highland Park 21
Category: Single Malt Scotch
Region: Highlands
ABV
: 47.5%

I picked up a mini-bottle of this beauty on a whim at the liquor store. The sweet raisin/sherry finish is what really stands out above all else. Super impressed.

Highland Park 21 Tasting Notes

Color: Golden Amber
Nose: Heathery, Sweet sherry, toffee and smoke.
Palate: Buttery – Balanced sweetness; slight smoke, rich dark chocolate
Finish: Spicy raisins, hints of hazelnut. for a drawn out, exotic note.

Score: 93 / 100

Bushmills 1608 Special Edition Review

Bushmills 1608

Bushmills 1608 (400th Anniversary Whiskey)

Distillery: Bushmills
Expression: 1608 (400th Anniversary Whiskey)
Category:
Blended Whiskey
Region: Bushmills, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

ABV:
46%

I must admit I was  pretty darn excited to get my mitts on a bottle of this stuff. It’s a celebration of the 400th anniversary from when King James issued the Antrim region of Ireland (where Bushmills is located) a license to distill whiskey in 1608.

If that wasn’t enough, it also took home the prize for “Best Irish Blended Whiskey” at the 2008 World Whiskey Awards.

The Bushmills 1608 is a  blend of Irish grain and crystal whiskeys aged in either American Oak or Spanish sherry casks. As always, when it comes to Bushmills smooth is the name of the game. But in the end, I don’t feel it lived up to the price tag or the hype.

At 46%, I wasn’t expecting the extra intensity in the finish, but it’s certainly tolerable. Not a bad whiskey by any stretch of the imagination. However, the 10-year old (at less than half the price) brings a lot more bang for the buck than this one. Still worth a gander though …. especially if you’re a fan of Bushmill.

Bushmills 1608 Tasting Notes

Nose: Caramel, Toffee, Honey, Spice, Vanilla, Malty.
Palate: Creamy mouth-feel, clove, grainy, malty, marzipan
Finish: Medium length but somewhat intense finish.

Score 86/100

Bunnahabhain 12 Review

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Bunnahabhain 12 Review

Distillery: Bunnahabhain
Expression: Bunnahabhain 12
Category: Single Malt Scotch
Region: Islay
ABV
: 46.3%

Hard-core Islay fanatics should take heed because this is not your typical peat-monster.Yet it IS an interesting / intricate bottle that seems to get better from dram-to-dram.

It feels a bit more like a high-quality blend than a single malt because it feels like you get a pinch of Campbeltown here, some Islay there, etc.  Kinda reminds me of a sweeter and slightly more complicated version of the Bruichladdich Laddie Ten.

As a young, entry level single malt, it’s surely worth a gander.

Bunnahabhain 12 Tasting Notes

Color:  Late-autumn brown
Nose: Sherry, creamy butter, powdered cinnamon, vanilla birthday-cake icing, almond, floral notes.
Palate:  Toffee, Nutmeg, vanilla, light-peat, hints of tobacco.
Finish: Near-perfect length. Quite pleasant. Slight sting without anesthetizing your tongue and electrocuting your taste buds

Score: 82 / 100

Jameson Review

Jameson Irish Whiskey

Jameson Review

Distillery: Jameson
Expression: Jameson (No Age)
Category: Blended Whiskey
Region: Ireland
ABV: 40%

Jameson ain’t the most complex whisky in the wagon but IT IS quite drinkable and pretty darn cheap.

There are a TON of better Irish whiskies out there IF you’re looking to savor.

Powers John Lane, Green Spot, Redbreast, older Jameson expressions (18, Signature Reserve, etc.) to name a few.

Only  problem is you’re gonna have to pony up A LOT MORE CASH to stock THOSE GUYS on your shelf.

Aside from price, Jameson is quite the versatile bugger.

You can use it for mixing whisky and sodas and other simple cocktails if that’s your thang.

THIS JERK keeps a bottle around for the occasional day when an Irish coffee is required an afternoon-pick-me-up.

I believe now they’re also referred to as weekdays.

Jameson Tasting Notes

Nose:  Bright citrus, toffee, light pepper, a bit of clove, ethanol
Palate: Ultra-light mouthfeel. Almost to the point of blandness. Yet the notes that are there are really enjoyable. Woody toffee caramel vanilla. A little hing of cinnamon.
Finish: Extremely short. You get a quick-spicy burn before it quickly fades away.

Score: 74 / 100

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