If life brings you troubles, drink some Champagne, then your problems will just become bubbles... - Unknown Author
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We've got 4 pint jugs to take away real ale and cider!
Come up to the top of Halkyn Mountain and join us as we drink in the atmosphere of the house of ale repute
CAMRA Vale of Clwyd 2017 Branch Cider Pub of the Year
20p per pint discount on cider for card carrying WPCS members
and on cask ale too for CAMRA members

David WishartWe try and keep an interesting mix of non-chill filtered whiskies and we are deeply indebted to David Wishart whose book Whisky Classified comes highly recommended and has allowed us to use his notes to add more detail to each whisky description. The book is available from behind the bar and you're welcome to have a look.  It details whisky from the perspective of flavour and not area, it also helps you choose a single malt whisky that suits your palate, not someone else's! Have a read and you'll understand the letters (in brackets) after each whisky from Tullibardine (A) to Ardbeg (J)!

The conventional way to classify Scotch malt whiskies is by region - Highland, Lowland, Speyside, Islay and Campbeltown. But knowing where they are made doesn't explain how they taste. Many distilleries today can produce a variety of flavours, peatiness (or lack of it) and this book guides the reader through the process.

How do you drink yours?  Everyone's preference differs, personally I choose to add a drop of water to release the esters that would otherwise never surface and so enjoy a fuller and flavoursome experience.  I wouldn't add ice as that clouds the taste buds and drinking a neat 46%abv+ whisky is not for me.  I'll not take issue with how you like yours though!  Steve



Old Ballantruan (I) PDF Print E-mail
Reviews Whisky - Whisky - we've had

Old Ballantruan A heavily peated malt for a Speyside distillery, bottled at higher proof, Old Ballantruan is an unusually peated single malt from the Tomintoul distillery.

Tomintoul

Tomintoul is a modern distillery built in 1965 and extended in 1974. Its functional, industrial buildings are situated in the beautifully wooded valley of Avonside near Tomintoul, the highest village in Scotland.

The process water is drawn from Ballantruan Spring and its malted barley is delivered lightly-peated to order. It operates a large semi-Lauter mash tun, 6 stainless steel washbacks and 4 tall stills incorporating boil balls in the neck to increase reflux. The size of the stills and the use of boil balls account for the lightness of the resulting spirit. It also has a blending unit where trade customers can create their own vatted malts or blended whiskies to order.

The whisky is matured in a mixture of ex-bourbon American oak casks, refill hogsheads and a few oloroso sherry oak butts, hence the lightly sherried note to the malts. The bulk of the production goes for blending and for use in "own label" brands. If you buy a supermarket Speyside Single Malt, there's a good chance it is from Tomintoul.

Tomintoul Single Speyside Malt whisky is available at 10, 16 and 27 years old. The distillery has been maturing a peaty version for several years, unusual for a Speyside distillery, and this was first released in 2008 as Tomintoul " Peaty Tang", together with Tomintoul Sherry Cask Finish 12 years old. There is also a Tomintoul 1976 Vintage edition in an attractive new packaging.

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Yamazaki Bourbon Barrel (D) PDF Print E-mail
Reviews Whisky - Whisky - we've had

The Yamazaki Bourbon BarrelIn 2012 Yamazaki decided to release a de-construct of their Japanese Single Malt Whisky so you can appreciate the various types of casks used to make their award-winning malt. This is a very special Bourbon cask matured Yamazaki [couldn't get the world champ sherry version but this is equally gorgeous!], everything in the bottle was matured in Bourbon casks, usually the whisky would be blended with malt from ex-Sherry and Mizunara casks to create the signature Yamazaki style.

The Bourbon Barrel refers to a unique type of cask used to hold bourbon whisky whose interior has been thoroughly charred. When used to age Yamazaki key malts, the charred white oak wood lends the whisky an elegant aroma and sweet vanilla flavour. Smaller than other types of casks at 180 litre, these handcrafted barrels are more susceptible to the surrounding atmosphere and produce whiskies that are distinctive to the region where they have been aged, in this case between Kyoto and Osaka in the middle of Japan and the Yamazaki and Omni regions.

Classic Bourbon cask vanilla with caramel slowly emerging with notes of citrus zest. The vanilla character continues onto the palate with additional notes of wood-spice and stone fruits. The finish lingers with notes of toffee and ground almonds. - from the Masters of Malt.

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Sullivan's Cove 12yo (D) PDF Print E-mail
Reviews Whisky - Whisky - we've had

altSullivans Cove 12yo French oak portwoodHand crafted to perfection by Sullivan's Cove in a boutique copper pot still. This portwood single malt whisky is created from Tasmanian barley and double distilled with the worlds purest wilderness water from the pristine rainforests and mountains around Hobart. Matured in a French oak cask this rare and unique single malt whisky offers the connoisseur a unique taste experience. I have to say it's my favourite whisky so far!

altThis whisky is The World's Best Single Malt Whisky 2014: Sullivans Cove's French Oak cask was voted the World's Best Single Malt Whisky at the 2014 World Whisky Awards, beating off stiff competition from Scotland and Japan. This is the first time that a whisky from somewhere other than Scotland or Japan has won this honour and this goes to show what they have always known!

Their French Oak is one of the highest awarded whiskies in the world and accolades include Spirits Business magazine’s World Whisky Grand Master 2012, Wizards of Whisky Australasian Distiller of the Year 2012, Southern Hemisphere Whisky of the Year in Jim Murray’s 2013 Whisky Bible, Best Australian Single Malt 2013 World Whisky Masters, Australian Single Malt Whisky of the Year at the 2014 Wizards of Whisky and now, the big one, Best Single Malt Whisky in the World.

Demand for the Port Cask has become so intense lately that they have a 2-month waiting period for larger orders, probably in no small part due to them drinking most of the stock themselves! This single cask expression currently varies from 12 to 14 years in age and is a big, fat, chewy whisky full of rich toffee and molasses notes. You could almost be forgiven mistaking it for Demerara rum at first impression!

A nice piece from the Guardian and a nice little YouTube video from Tasmania and another nice piece from Business Insider Australia.

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Glenmorangie Lasanta (A) PDF Print E-mail
Reviews Whisky - Whisky - we've had

Glenmorangie (Glen of Tranquility) is situated in Tain in the North of Scotland, overlooking the Dornoch Firth.  It was converted from the former Tain Brewery by William Mathieson in 1843 and its adverts emphasize the tranquil setting in which the whisky is patiently crafted by the 'Sixteen Men of Tain."

Glenmorangie LasantaThe distillation process is undertaken by a staff of 16, known as The Sixteen Men of Tain, who work year round, with the exceptions of Christmas and periods of maintenance and are the select craftsmen entrusted with the secrets of the distillery.

The distilliery's process water, unusally hard and rich in minerals, rises through sandstone from Tarlogie Springs.  It uses peated and lightly peated Scottish barley and at nearly 5m (17ft) has the tallest stills in Scotland.

Glenmorangie was the first to practise serious oak management.  Most of it's 'designer' casks are custom-made from American oak at least 100 years old, grown from the north facing slopes of the Ozark mountains, Missouri.  The wood is air-dried for two years, further dried in an infra-red kiln, heavilly toasted and lightly charred, then seasoned withh bourbon.  This slow growing, tightly grained white oak reduces the tannic astringency found in softer oak and enhances the vanilla sweetness, delivering a benchmark perfectly balanced malt.

Lasanta means "warmth" or "passion" which accurately reflects this lovely, well-balanced Glenmorangie expression.

For a video of a tasting, follow this link.

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Penderyn (Portwood) (B) PDF Print E-mail
Reviews Whisky - Whisky - we've had

Penderyn Portwood


A permanent feature here at the Blue Bell Inn Penderyn Welsh Whisky's.  Bottled at 41% abv Portwood 41 was originally created for the export market and only available from their distillery shop. Portwood is distilled in their unique copper pot still, matured in bourbon barrels and finished in port casks, giving it a rich brown hue and a sweet, lingering finish.

Winner of a gold medal in the European standard single malt category of the Whiskeys of the World Masters 2011.

Tasting Notes
Aromas of rich dried fruit with fresh blackberries and dark chocolate accompany the blush tint of Penderyn Portwood. After these first impressions fresh honey drizzled over mixed tropic fruits emerges and carries on into the taste. This is a powerful whisky, bone dry, yet convincing the taste buds of immense sweetness. The overall effect is one of a fresh, clean and fruity whisky, easy to drink and with an attractive lingering finish.

This whisky is non-chill filtered and has no added colouring making it a totally natural and true whisky.

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Laphroaig Cairdeas 2013 10yo Cask (J) PDF Print E-mail
Reviews Whisky - Whisky - we've had

 

Laphroaig

Laphroaig waltere awarded Best Single Malt in the World in 2005 by Whisky Magazine.  Each year Laphroaig Master Distiller, John Campbell, handcrafts a limited edition malt to celebrate friendship (“Cairdeas” in Gaelic).

The 2013 expression has enjoyed a double maturation in bourbon and port wood casks to create an exceptional balance of their signature peat flavour with tangy citrus fruits and a floral finish. Like any friendship, each blend of Laphroaig Cairdeas is completely unique – something to be savoured with friends old and new. Laphroaig Cairdeas – friendship distilled.

This is the very first time Laphroaig has been finished in port wood!  For the technically-minded among you: it's been bottled at 51.3% ABV, is non-chill filtered and is an all natural colour. Here are John Campbell's official tasting notes:

Nose
Stewed Rhubarb, Huge peat moving into vanilla ice cream and milk chocolaty. Gentle cloves, minty and fresh...
Cairdeas Port wood then becomes floral like summer roses, orange marmalade and finishes with a long, dry charcoal finish.

Palate
A lovely mouth feel and a nice balance, Cairdeas port wood has an initial honey sweetness but becomes dry quickly then creamy and floral, it shows a heavy saltiness and a great liquorice root flavour that really lasts, it then develops into a long, heavy charcoal finish mixing with orange rind flavours that really linger on the palate.

Adding a little water releases a rich aroma of peat smoke with some sweetness and strong hints of the sea.

Laphroaig reccomend that you add twice as much water as whisky to fully appreciate the taste characteristics of Laphroiag.  Whisky at cask strength may overpower the palate, but adding water will release the rich aroma of peat smoke with some sweetness and strong hints of the sea.

There is more detail on this story here and it'll also tell you why this whisky has won so many awards!

Click READ MORE for our tasting notes...

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keyDavid Wishart's book Whisky Classified details whisky from the perspective of flavour and not area, it also helps you choose a single malt whisky that suits your palate, not someone else's! 

The conventional way to classify Scotch malt whiskies is by region - Highland, Lowland, Speyside, Islay and Campbeltown. But knowing where they are made doesn't explain how they taste. Many distilleries today can produce a variety of flavours, peatiness (or lack of it) and this book guides the reader through the process.  The following is a key to the cluster groups used within the book and on our website.  If you lookup your own favourite whisky in th ebook and find what cluster it is in you are bound to find some equally enjoyable whiskies in the same and adjacent clusters that will suit your palate.  Here is a summary of the clusters...

A - Full bodied, sweet, pronounced sherry with fruity, honey and spicy notes.
B - Full bodied, sweet, pronounced sherry with fruity, floral and malty notes, some honey and spice evident.
C - Full bodied, medium sweet, pronounced sherry with fruity, honey, nutty and smoky notes.
D - Quite full bodied and sweet, fruity, floral and nutty notes, fairly spicy, hint of smoke.honey and spicy notes.
E - Medium bodied, medium sweet with fruity, honey and winey notes, and a whiff of smoke and spice.
F - Quite full bodied, sweet and malty with fruity, spicy and smoky notes.
G - Light, sweet and honeyed, with floral, fruity and spicy notes, mostly unpeated, an aperitif style.
H - Very light, sweet and malty, fruity and floral, an aperitif style.
I - Medium bodied, medium sweet, quite smoky, some medicinal notes, spicy, fruity and nutty.
J - Full bodied, dry, pungent with peat smoke and medicinal notes, some spice, malt and fruit in the background and a hint of polished leather or libraries.

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