Whiskey with an E: Two Irish Specimens

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DC’s parents brought back two bottles of Irish whiskey from a recent trip and we were excited to finally try whiskey. The friends who introduced us to whisky are fairly staunch Scotch single malt fanatics and woe betide anyone who dares to spell whisky with an E. Folks, they drink whisky and would never be caught dead with whiskey. Beware the difference!

Now we plebs drink anything whiskey, E or no E. And this is what I think of the Knappogue Castle 12 year old (40%). For a fairly young whiskey, it does really well on the complexity front. The bright yellow-orange liquor gave a first wash of sea salt over the tongue, followed by light smoke and plenty of orange peel and grass. I liked how it was hard and robust, yet had a good whiff of vanilla, with some floral honey notes. I think the hardness I perceived came from the mineral aftertaste that I love so much in white wines like chablis and muscadet. It’s great stuff considering how young it is. I wonder how the older ones fare.

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Next was the Connemara Peated Single Malt (). DC likes it a lot more than me. I’m not sure about it as I feel that while it’s got a lot of peat that I like, it’s rather unbalanced. It’s as if the whiskey was turbo-charged on peat and has little else to offer. Sadly, it doesn’t make my to-collect list.

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Burps at the Beer Fest

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I was late to attend Beerfest Asia 2009 mainly because I was out diving for most of the time. (Will update on that in a while.) Finally made it on the last day, on a Sunday afternoon when all the fun was pretty much over. No matter, we made up for the lack of good music (and Vertical Horizon) by downing more beers.

We limbered up on the Turkish Efes which was surprisingly light for a 5% and tasted of… nothing at all really. This was swiftly chased down by our very own local Archipelago Travellers Wheat that had a very unique taste. I couldn’t place it until I looked it up on the website. It was tamarind and ginger together, so it was spicy and warming yet with a very pleasant tang.

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I’d originally planned to stop at a couple of beers, but I’d already paid $27 for entry only to pay more money to get my hands on some beer. So I wasn’t a particularly happy camper and proceeded to instigate my drinking companion to buy more beers.

The American Doggie Style Pale Ale (5.5%) was more packaging than good beer. We were not impressed. Another friend joined us with a Dog Schwarz (7.8%) and was similarly underwhelmed. No matter, onwards to better things! DC liked the Chimay Tripel (8%) from Belgium, proclaiming that it was complex, dark and… like a stew. I thought it was bitter and moved swiftly on to my favourite of the session. The Silly Saison (5%) was also from Belgium and was redolent of thick , buttery and almost salty caramel. It was smooth and amazingly good.

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Then came a silly in-joke as we drank to a friend called Calvin. Unfortunately the Calvinus Blonde (5%) from Switzerland lived up more to the second part of its name. Despite the pretty label, it was another one of those bland forgettables in the ocean of beer. John Calvin must’ve been rolling in his grave, more because it was such a bad beer, methinks.

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Next up came a short and rather ill-fated interlude with some cider. Magner’s Irish Cider (4.5%) from (you guessed it!) Ireland was, according to DC, metallic and tasted like rotten 500-year old cheese. I thought it was OK, but not worth the carbs and burps, so we moved swiftly on.

I don’t remember trying the Pompey Royal (4.5%) from the UK but DC said that it was malty and full-bodied with lots of hops. It was well-balanced and smooth, worth the $10 price tag. I remember scribbling some notes, but ended up losing them, so fat lot of good that did me and this blog post.

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And last of all, we dreg up the Swiss Schwarzer Kristall (6.3%) from the depths of my memory and all I remember is that it was a terrible letdown that tasted like the insipid Flying Dog stuff from the US.

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The conclusion really was that there are good beers and there are expensive beers and the two are not necessary the same. Oh and there are bad beers too. And beer makes me tipsy. And gives me a headache. So no more beer for a while.