A gift to myself…

by Rob on

Sometimes you have to be good for yourself and give yourself a nice gift…

Somewhere this week I noticed that I just had one bottle single malt whisky left. Of course I was in shock, because what is after all just one bottle of whisky?
Just kidding of course. With one bottle of a good single malt whisky you do a very long time. You just drink one or two small glasses of it and really enjoy it. Just as wine or cognac.

But the nice thing of whisky is that it comes is so many flavors, from the sweet sherry malts to the strong peaty ones. And it is nice that when you have guests who also like whisky, as Marion’s father for example, that you can offer some different kinds of whisky.
And just as almost anything else these days, you can buy whisky very well online. For those interested I ordered the whiskey at The Whisky Site NL

One of the whisky’s I bought is the Glenlivet 16 years Nadurra. The Glenlivet malts belong to my favorite single malt whisky’s. And this not only because The Glenlivet 12 year was the very first single malt whisky I ever tasted. By now I have tasted quite some of The Glenlivet single malts by now, but when I got a bottle of Nàdurra from Marion’s father, I found a new favorite among The Glenlivet single malts!
During the holiday Marion and I had in Scotland, we visited The Glenlivet distillery in the Speyside. This visit made a very deep impression on me.

On The Glenlivet website you can read about the Nàdurra 16 year:
Character: The pure and natural one
Colour: Pale gold with lemony shades
Nose: Fresh, intense and fragrant
Palate: Crisp, with hints of peaches and vanilla
Finish: Long and dry with a liquorice tang

Craft facts
Nàdurra is the most natural expression of The Glenlivet. It is batch produced at cask strength using traditional methods.

Most whiskies are chill-filtered to prevent the liquid becoming cloudy when adding water or ice.

Omitting chill-filtration gives the mouth feel more body and a richer texture, and stays true to the style of whisky that was enjoyed in the 19th century. It turns cloudy at low temperatures because it contains more natural oils from the grain.

The first-fill ex-bourbon casks impart Nàdurra’s distinctive vanilla notes.

The second single malt that I bought is a 12 year old Singleton of Dufftown. Dufftown is the capital of the Scotch single malt whisky and it is the town where Marion and I stayed during our visit to Scotland.
The Dufftown distillery is in a small valley, south and just outside the town Dufftown located. The river “Dullan Water”, is the separation of the distillery in Dufftown the place where the name comes from the distillery. The name Dufftown comes from the Clan Duff, who used to live in this area and owned the land.
This whisky is also from the Speyside

These are the tasting notes I found about this 12 year old whisky:
Color: dark gold.
Nose: beautiful aromas of nuts, chocolate mint, honey sugar with notes of yew, sawn oak, marshmellow, brown bread with butter.
Taste: oil of nuts, citrus and steamed fruit aromas with hints of bisquit and toasted oak, slightly grassy in the background in the beautiful being in balan finish tones of citrus and malt.
Finish: medium to long, warming, spicy, with slowly fading notes of Sherry and fudge.

The third whisky is Highland Park 2001 and unlike the other two, this whisky is from Island (north of Scotland). Distilled in 2001 and bottled in 2012. Also unlike the other two, this bottle contains a full liter (the other two around 0,7 liter). This single malt is naturally rich, golden, clear and bright, the Highland Park Vintage 2001 offers delicate aromas of heather honey, dried grass with ginger spicy notes and a light touch of coconut.

Appearance: Naturally rich, golden, clear and bright
Nose: Delicate aromas of heather honey, dried grass with ginger spicy notes and a light touch of coconut
Palate: Vanilla and honey sweetness is balanced by the emergence of the aromatic heather peat smoke
Finish: The finish is sweet with subtle traces of spice and smoke

And no, these whisky’s are not meant to mix with cola or cruel things alike!

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Just a hour or so and then…

by Rob on

Just an hour or so and then Marion and I will leave for Schiermonnikoog. For those that are not familiar with Schiermonninkoog, it is the smallest populated island north of The Netherlands. The nature is beautiful there and around this time of year it is rather quiet there. It is not allowed to bring a car with you to the island (and that is for some people a reason not to go there… for me it is even more reason to go there).

We stay at the eastern part of the island, there it is even more quiet. No mobile phone there (and so no internet). Just like last year our holiday in the France Pyrenees. Only Marion’s parents and Sanne know how to reach us in case something serious happens.

Anyway, today Marion’s parents visited us. They will keep an eye on my apartment and look after my birds and plants. That is always nice to know that someone is taking care of this kind of things.

Marion’s father is, just like me, a lover of a good whisky. And he brought me a present…

A 16 year old Glenlivet Nàdurra. A very fine single malt whisky. “Nàdurra” is the Celtic word for nature. That already shows what is so special about this whiskey. It is created in a very nature friendly way with pure ingredients. One of the things is that is non-chill filtered.
This special whisky contains 59.7% alcohol and that is more as a common whisky has.
I know that this is not a cheap bottle of single malt… and I am looking forward to taste it when I am home again from our little holiday.

It is time to grab the last things and to get on our way to Schiermonninkoog…

(Credit photo: Rob)

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Highland Park

by Rob on

Last night Marion and I took it easy. I myself had a very busy week at work behind me and because the party of Friday evening it was late before I found my way to bed.
Marion was also rather tired. Because of someone else caused problems on the airport while checking in, everyone was checked fully. So it took ages before she could leave the airport and head to Heemskerk. Not nice when you are already tired.

Anyway, we spend the evening chatting about everything and nothing. I like that, something good to drink, some nice French cheese and those small crispy toasts.
Marion enjoyed some of my cognac. And I couldn’t blame her, the bottle of “Courvoisier VSOP” that I have currently is very good. I, as so often, went for a good glass of whisky. And there I realized that I never discussed the bottle of Highland Park 12 years that I opened recently. Time to do so…

The Highland Park distillery can by found on the Orkney Islands, which are a group of 200 islands that can be found north of Scotland. Since 1798 the Highland Park Distillery is making their wonderful whisky.
The website of Highland Park Distillery is a pleasure to visit and tells nice to know about whisky, the distillery and the Orkney Islands.

The Highland Park whisky that I have currently is the 12 year one and is the youngest in their impressive line up.
Although not most important, the bottle of the Highland Park 12 year is very nice to see. Nothing to be ashamed of to place on the table when you want to share some good whisky with friends.
In the glass the whiskey displays a wonderful gold colour. The smell is strong, but with a certain sweetness. Very enjoyable.
A very nice mouth coating with sweets, some spice and a nice tingle on the tongue. Becoming dry at the end.
The after-taste is wonderful and lasts at least for a minute. Very enjoyable.

I know, if you read some whisky reviews it is almost poetry how they describe it all. I am not that way, I keep it just short and simple… that is more me :P

Anyway I can be short about this one…. it will have it often at home. I really like it.

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Balvenie, 12 years old

by Rob on

Yesterday Marion and I have been shopping. While I was gathering all kind of things for dinner tonight, Marion visited a liquor store to buy a nice wine for that dinner (she has much more knowledge about wine then I have). But she returned not only with a very nice wine, but also with a bottle Single Malt Whisky… a Balvenie 12 years old!

Her attention for this bottle of Single Malt was taken by de name on it. This Whisky finds it origin in Dufftown, the town in Scotland that Marion and just very recently visited. And even more, it caries the name of the castle (or what is left of that) that Marion and I visited during our stay. A friend already told about the Balvenie Distillery after he heard we visited Dufftown. And already by now I can taste this Single Malt. Thank you so much Marion…

I am not an expert on tasting and reviewing Single Malt Whiskeys. I am doing just my own thing on my own way… and yes, there is still a lot to learn for me (and that is the fun part for me).

As already pointed out, the Balvenie distillery is located in Duffstown, the Speyside area. The distillery was founded in 1889 by William Grant. For that he bought in the 18th century the Balvenie New House estate. It took more then a year to rebuilt the estate to a distillery.
It is said that William Grant was until his death on a age of 83 involved with the distillery.
Balvenie grows its own barley from the family farm for traditional floor maltings, and still uses coopers to tend the casks and a coppersmith to tend the stills.

The Balvenie Single Malt I have tasted here is the Double Wood, 12 years.
Double wood means that it has been matured in two woods. Over the time of maturation it is transferred from a traditional oak whisky cask to an European Oak Sherry Task. The traditional oak casks soften and add character to the Single Malt, whilst the sherry wood brings depth and fullness of flavour.

I have to admit that I really like this Single Malt. It is soft and smooth, so no need to add any water to this one. The nose is sweet. Honey with a touch of vanilla.
The taste and flavour is all full of honey, maybe even a bit nutty. A soft touch of peat. A great taste in my opinion.
The after-taste is long, cinnamon flavours and soothing. Very enjoyable.

This Single Malt will be more often a guest in my house. And I am looking forward to taste the other Single Malts of this distillery…

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A Perfect Glass for Whisky…

by Rob on

“Champagne, Brandy, Wine… each has its own glass. Yet whisky, the worlds most complex spirit can be found served in anything from hiball tumblers to Paris goblets.

It’s a bit like pouring your vintage champagne into a pint tumbler or your XO brandy into a shot glass!

Whisky is a drink to be savoured. Time spent enjoying the flavours on the nose are equally important as those on the palate. Raymond Davidson decided it was about time someone designed a proper whisky glass…

The perfect glass for whisky was created and left to mature for some twenty years at the bottom of a filing cabinet.

After adequate maturation, his sons Paul and Scott decided to take his design to the people who know best… the master blenders!

With their help and support they were able to take the glass around the world and promote it as the Glass for whisky, developed by the whisky industry for the whisky industry.

It’s roots lie in the traditional nosing glasses used by blenders around the world.

The unique and stylish shape has been crafted with eminent care, to enhance the enjoyment of whisky.

The tapering mouth allows an ease of drinking not associated with traditional nosing glasses whilst capturing the aromas on the nose.

The wide bowl allows for the fullest appreciation of the whisky’s colour and the solid base is designed to be easy on the hand.

Today the Glencairn Glass can be found at every distillery in Scotland, Ireland, Wales as well as most in the USA. It has won accolades from around the world including the Queens Award, the highest award for business in the UK.

Importantly it is also beginning to appear in the places it was designed for… the bars!

It may have taken a few hundred years to arrive, but whisky now has a glass of its own… FINALLY!”

Above text is taken from The Glencairn Glass-website. These words describe better why a good glass is so important to really enjoy a good Whiskey.
I had already some good glasses for Whisky, but I wanted the best. And by reading and listening around I learned that these Glencairn Glasses are the best. And that is why I ordered them and I am very happy to have them.

No, I am not an expert at reviewing Whiskies, but I am learning. And it is fun to learn about something so enjoyable.

Some time soon I will write a bit about what I have learned until now about reviewing a Single Malt whiskey. For now I am just very happy with these real Whisky glasses….

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Glenkincie, 12 years old

by Rob on

After the visit Marion and I made to Scotland it must be very clear that I really like a good whiskey.

A good glass of Single Malt Whiskey is really nice while reading a good book or listening to nice music. It is also a very nice way to end an enjoyable evening.

So I thought it would be nice to write a bit about the whiskeys that I taste. Specially the “Single Malt” whiskeys. A Single Malt Whiskey is a whiskey made at one particular distillery from a mash that uses one particular malted grain, which is ordinarily barley (this as a contrary to a blended whiskey, which is generally the product of mixing one or more higher quality or single malt whiskeys with higher-alcohol-content spirits or neutral grain spirits and water).

I will tell a bit about the whiskey itself. Where the distillery is located. Maybe a bit about the history of the distillery. Fun and interesting things to know. And of course what I think about that whiskey.
I have to be honest, I never tasted a Single Malt Whiskey that I didn’t like. But there are many differences between all the Single Malt Whiskeys that are out there and I like one more then the other.

Don’t expect every week such an article about a whiskey. It takes some time before I finish a bottle of whiskey. I don’t drink every day whiskey. Whiskey is something you should drink when the mood is right. There are weeks I don’t drink it at all. And when I drink whiskey, I drink two, maybe three, glasses at most. And of course you don’t fill a whiskey-glass up completely. You just fill it with a bottom of whiskey. So yes, considering all that, it takes some time before a bottle of whiskey is empty.

Most of the time I have just one bottle of Single Malt Whiskey open (which doesn’t mean I have just one bottle at home :P). The Single Malt I am currently enjoying is the Glenkincie, 12 years old…

The distillery of the Glenkincie lies in a glen (“valley”) of the Kinchie Burn. It is situated about 25 kilometres from the city of Edinburgh. It origins date back to around 1825 and was named Milton Distillery, but was most likely renamed around 1837 to its current name.
The Glenkinchie label was relatively little known until 1989, when United Distillers started marketing it under their Classic Malts brand.

The standard 10 year old Glenkinchie has now been replaced by the standard “12 year old”. This is a fairly typical lowland whisky in that it is fresh and light in character, with notes of lemon and cut grass. A sweet nose and a hint of peat make this a good introduction to the world of single malts.

Fun fact to mention is that we are here talking about a Lowland Whiskey. Most people will have heard about the Speyside, Highlands and Islay whiskeys. But yes, the Lowlands have their whiskeys as well. The Lowlands is the region of Scotland that borders with England.

For me it was the first time that I taste a Glenkinchie Single Malt. I like it, as already said before I never tasted a Single Malt Whiskey that I really disliked. But to be really honest, it is certainly not the best tasting Single Malt that I ever had.

Bare me, I’m not an experienced or trained person on Whiskey reviews. I am here just at the start of long (and hopefully a very enjoyable) road to follow and learn more on this subject (and the recent visit at The Glenlivet Distillery was a very important spot in that roadmap). So all I can do describe what I think and experienced with this whiskey. And lets not forgot, taste is very personal matter, which can differ very strongly from one person to another.

The flavour and first taste was wonderful. Very round and fresh, notes of lemon as advertised. Words as fruity, honey and oak comes to mind. The body I would call medium to light, maybe a bit creamy. So far very enjoyable.
But then with what I would call the “after taste” something changes…. It is harsh and too strong in my opinion. Kind a pity after such a good first impression.

No, I won’t empty this bottle through the kitchen sink, but I am looking forward to the next Single Malt to review.

A search on the Internet showed me that there is also a 14 years Glenkinchie Distillers Edition. Maybe that one has a better “after taste”. The future will tell.

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I promised some people that I still had to write a bit to our visit to Scotland…

So as everybody might know, Marion and I have been some days to Scotland. A needed break from everything, because the last half year has been very hectic. The passing away from my mother, everything involving the buying of my apartment and the mortgage belonging to it and more things like that.
So it was more then time to break away for a few days from everything.

Scotland was one of the places I still wanted to go. People told me how beautiful this country was and how friendly the people are there. And of course it is where the distillery of my favourite single malt whiskey The Glenlivet is located.

So Tuesday Marion and Sanne came to my place. Because my apartment is so close to the sea, Sanne often stays at my place when I am away, so she can make long walks with one of her dogs on the beaches around there. And for me it is nice that someone takes care of my birds and plants.

Marion and I travelled by plane to Scotland. We flew from Schiphol Amsterdam to London and from London we went to Aberdeen. Aberdeen is the closest airport to where we wanted to go. From Aberdeen it was a bit more than an hour driving to the town of Dufftown.

Dufftown is a town in the centre of the Speyside area and is located at the two rivers Fiddich and Dullan. Dufftown is well known for the malt whiskey distilleries. The towns calls itself “The Malt Whisky Capital of Scotland. As a matter of fact the Glenfiddich Distillery is located in Dufftown (but we did not visit it).
Dufftown has a rich history. There are Pictish stones that are 2000 years old. In 566 AD a Christian Community was started there and founded the Mortlach Church, one of the oldest Christian settlements in Scotland. Dufftown itself was founded in 1817 by James Duff, 4th Earl of Fife.
There many old buildings in Dufftown that show the history of the town. There are some very nice pubs and some very good places to eat.

We had a very nice bed & breakfast arranged in Dufftown, because during the day we would be travelling around. For both of us bed & breakfast is something new, but we both liked it. It is way more homely as a hotel. Everything was very clean. We could get packed lunches if we wanted. The landlord and lady were very nice and friendly people.

I really enjoyed the conversation that I had one evening with the landlord while enjoying one of the local whiskeys.

Throughout Scotland there are many castles and fortresses. Some in good condition, other have become ruins.

Close to Dufftown one can find the Balvenie Castle… at least what is left of it. The largest part of this castle has fallen to a ruin. But still it is very impressive and the ruin that is left still shows what a great stronghold this must have been that witnessed many battles and wars. I love to walk around this kind of old places.

One thing I really enjoyed during this holiday (among other things that I really enjoyed) was our visit to The Glenlivet Distillery. It is not a secret that for me The Glenlivet is my favourite single malt whiskey. That doesn’t mean I don’t like others… nothing like that. There are some pretty good single malt whiskeys out there, but the Glenlivet has something special for me.

During my visit at The Glenlivet Distillery I learned a lot of new things about single malt whiskeys and that is a good thing. About something so delicious and delicate you can never know enough.
I not only learned how about a good single malt whiskey is made, but also about how to drink and enjoy a whiskey. The were nice stories about the past of whiskey. As for example the fact that The Glenlivet is the only Scotch single malt whiskey that may use the word “The” in their brandname. This because The Glenlivet was the first legal whiskey distillery in Scotland (after being for many years an illegal one :P). So it is not only the Glenlivet, it is THE Glenlivet.

There is one thing I am Marion very grateful for. She made it possible for me to taste a 47 year old Glenlivet Single Malt Whiskey. This was a very special moment. Remember, I am just one year older that this whiskey. The richness of its taste was so wonderful. With every sip of it you felt how your mouth, tongue and throat reacted to the after taste of this fine and mature whiskey.
Thank you Marion, for giving me this very special moment. It is something I will remember forever.

After visiting The Glenlivet Distillery we took the opportunity to make a long walk along the river The Livet. I heard more then once that is beautiful around that river. And yes, it really is. The nature there is still very pure, something we hardly know anymore over here in The Netherlands.

During that walks (and other walks Marion and I made) we have seen many awesome sights and landscapes. I think that I can say for both of us that Scotland has stolen a bit of our hearts.

Even when it was a small holidays, it was a wonderful time. Maybe there are many more things I could tell about this holiday in the Highlands, but maybe I shouldn’t. I would fill many pages of text and become boring. And if this holiday doesn’t deserve one thing it is not to be associated with boring, because it was anything than that!

One thing is for sure…. One day we will go back, but then for a longer time. I already can look forward to that…

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by Rob on

Yesterday at work we were discussing what we like to drink in the evenings. Of course beer and whiskey was mentioned. No need to say that I like both :).
As beer I like my beloved Grolsch and of course there are some pretty good German and Belgium beers… “Bittburger”, “Duval”, “De Verboden Vrucht” and many more.
And a good single malt whiskey is really something to enjoy. One of my favourites is “The Glenlivet”, but there are many more extremely good ones as the Glenrothes, Highland Park, Jura and others.
Oh something nice to mention… Sanne recently noticed that I always write “The Glenlivet” and for instance “the Glenrothes” (so the word “The” with or without a capital), which she as a teacher of course noticed directly.
But yes, there is a reason for that. The Glenlivet got their official license to make whiskey in 1824 (before that they did it illegally). They were the first distillery to have this official license and because of that they were allowed to add the word “The” to their brand name and they are the only single malt distillery who are allowed to do this. And as the word “The” in the case of The Glenlivet is part of the brand name you write it with a capital and for other single malts not.

But I am getting completely away of what I wanted to write here today… :)

Anyway, yesterday during the conversation at the company I suddenly had to think of something I really liked in the past and which I drank on cold winter evenings after the last walk of the days with the dogs. After such a walk in the freezing cold you could use something to get warm and comfortable again…. and that was for me a bit of “Kruidenbitter”.

Now I have no idea how to translate “Kruidenbitter” to English, but I guess it would be something like “herbal liqueur”, which makes it sound a bit as a medicine…
Basically a “Kruidenbitter” is a gin or brandy enriched with all kind of herbs during the process of making it. Depending on the brand a “Kruidenbitter” contains 20% to 35% alcohol.
Many Dutch towns and area’s have their own “Kruidenbitter” with their own special mixture of herbs. A good “Kruidenbitter” should be served very cold. So the better ones you keep in the freezer, where they stay liquid because of the amount of alcohol.

I think “Jägermeister” is one of the best known “Kruidenbitter”, which finds its origin in Germany (“Kruidenbitters” are not unique to The Netherlands, far from that). Personally I don’t like “Jägermeister” very much, its it too strong in its taste.

So yesterday I bought at the local liquor store a jug of “Kruidenbitter” of the brand “Botter Bitter” (which is made in West Friesland). I have to say that I like it. It has a nice smooth taste.
But sadly it cannot compare to my favourite “Kruidenbitter”…. The “Bornse Kruidenbitter” (made in the town of Borne), which has a very special taste because anise was used as one the ingredients. And this “Kruidenbitter” you cannot get over here in this part of the country. Maybe one the next times when I travel to the eastern part of The Netherlands I have to make a detour to Borne….. or get someone so far they bring it along for me :)

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