Milroy’s was the first proper whisky shop I ever visited. Not long after my whisky tastebuds were given a wakeup call in Aberdeen, I found myself in London and couldn’t resist the enticing shop window.
A good whisky shop feels a little like a book shop to me. I can happily browse the shelves for hours, letting my eyes run over their contents, taking the occasional bottle down to read the words and trying to work out how many I can get away with buying. There are the exciting new producers, the new works by familiar names and the temptation to take an old friend home to enjoy again.
Of course, I’ve been to many whisky shops since, but Milroy’s occupies a special place in my heart so when I saw that the Whisky Wire’s excellent Tweet Tastings series was doing a Milroy’s special, I leapt at the chance and was fortunate enough to be selected. The Tasting covers four of Milroy’s own bottlings.
A few days ago, the postman delivered my favourite kind of package – four small vials of whisky – and tonight we have the tweet tasting itself. I’ll be ‘live blogging’ the tasting, and hitting the publish button once the last glass is empty so I apologise in advance for the terrible spelling and/or grammar that my usual editor won’t have an opportunity to correct!
We start the evening with Milroy’s entry level bottling, a blend of distinguished (but, as ever, anonymous) distilleries from Speyside and the Highlands.
Personally, I find the nose to be vanilla, honey and perhaps a little sherry. Watching my twitter stream I see pears and apples mentioned, some spices too and the longer I explore the aroma, the more I get an impression of pear crumble. Power of suggestion, or does it take time to develop? Water releases the slight hint of smoke that other tweeters are mentioning.
I find it a little harsh on tasting; a youthful slightly raw grain alcohol edge hides some of the other flavours although the honey is still apparent. The body is smooth enough, and the finish is decently peppery.Water tames that grain but leaves the honey sweetness and big peppery finish alone.
It’s not perfect, but with a splash of water it’s a very decent session dram and for £19.95 a bottle it’s good value.
Milroy’s tells us there’s more than 30 whiskies in this – I have even more respect for the blender’s job!
Single Cask Longmorn 13 Year Old
Longmorn is based in Speyside, and I have to confess it’s not a name I really know.
The nose has a fresh citrus tone – I hesitate to say it, but sherbert lemons come to mind. Twitter seems to be on my side though, with other sweetshop favourites suggested. Water brings a slightly greener feel to the fruitiness.
It’s fresh and fruity in the mouth too; a spicy start which quickly yields to a citrus fresh feel. I’m not finding it as sweet as others, but it’s a seriously nice summer dram. With water, that spicy kick at the start is less aggressive, and the fruits once again fresh but less citrus – perhaps sharp apple.
Single Cask Cooley 2001 11 Year Old
Moving into whiskey with an ‘e’, Cooley is an Irish distillery.
This one really does have an aroma that’s full of pear drops; almost glue-sniffingly so. Allow that to evaporate and other flavours start to come through – sweet melon, vanilla, fresh oak. Twitter suggests bubblegum and they’re spot on, along with an artifical banana flavour. Adding water reduces the solvent nose but leaves the sweet vanilla and boiled-sweet fruits, like smelling a sweetshop!
Big, powerful wood flavours in the mouth, with lots of dried fruit sweetness too, this is well rounded and warming and really is a dram for a cold winter night.
Single Cask Zuidam Dutch Rye 4 Year Old
Although I’m aware that the Dutch make whiskey, this is my first ever taste. Previously, my only experience with Zuidam has been their Speculaas and Amaretto liqueurs.
Made with rye instead of barley, I’m expecting something of a bourbon-like character. The nose certainly has a hint of bourbon, although isn’t as sweet. There are bales of hay and overtones of fresh rye bread (which makes sense given all the rye in it) and even a hint of sawdust. Twitter suggests tea, which I can understand – it’s those same dried, infused leaf tones that brought hay to my mind.
It’s a huge whiskey in the mouth – massive, varnished wood, slowly yielding to a rich, dried orange peel and luxurious, warm finish. Water calms the wood character down a lot but it’s still a smooth, rich and fruity whisky that is simply magnificent!