I’ve a few crackers in this random bunch, but first, we start with a lonely sake.
Daruma Masamune 5yo Ob. Shiraki Brewery 17.5% [72cl]
Various tinterweb sources indicate this comes from the Shiraki Brewery, founded in 1835 and located in Gifu City near the centre of Japan. This is Shiraki’s main brand which takes its name from Japanese Daruma dolls. I was told this is aged in stainless steel tanks. If that is the case, where does its pale golden colour come from?
- N: I was warned this was a funky one, and they weren’t wrong. The nose displays fermented decaying stuff with metals, marshmallows, roasted chestnuts, tadpoles and fruits & tomatoes in rusty tin cans. A really bizarre nose indeed.
- T: Surprisingly [given the nose], it tastes like an Amontillado sherry with a subtle burned quality that hints towards mezcal.
- F: Without being dry, there’s a long finish with more sherry references.
- C: What happened here? With little cava, wine or beer notes that are more commonly prevalent in sake, this may be one for sherry lovers.
Further reading: sake blog
Back to spirits now, with two tequilas.
The label tells us the agave was stone crushed and the spirit distilled in pot stills, so provenance looks good. The price is also great at £20 [Oct ’18], from a large non-tax-paying online website. The master distiller was Jesus Hernandez.
- N: Fairly sweet, mildly peppery, malty/biscuit-y and mildly fruity with blossom-y flora n fauna, a touch of glue and honey-drizzled vanilla sponge cake. Fairly malternative, though firmly cactal.
- T: More dry & savoury than expected with a touch of fruits and a [never unpleasant] glue/acetone/soap character.
- F: Dry and slightly waxy with a toasted hint at the end.
- C: Curious and pleasant craft-orientated Tequila.
Scores 83 points
Sauza Silver [2016/17] Ob. Fresh Blue Agave 38%
MoM says of Sauza, that it ‘was founded by Don Cenobio Sauza, one of the earliest distillers of tequila. He created the Sauza distillery all the way back in 1873’. Alternatively, WF says: ‘It’s a very large brand by Jim Beam, it’s seems that it’s #2 in the world’.
I should probably have tried this before the Olmeca.
- N: Sweet vodka-like, huskier, milder, more
rounder and simpler than the Olmeca, with touches of coconut & cocoa biscuits.
- T: More husky cocoa – think Nikka Coffey grain.
- F: Short lingering sustain.
- C: Simple yet inoffensive mixing spirit.
Scores 77 points
Now to the malts!
I’m going back to July 2017 now, when I found myself at Benromach again – less than a year on [blog], with Dramboree’s penultimate shindig [blog]. Due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, this time Benromach’s 10yo deconstruction involved a large group of us standing around the filling room, sharing a few samples over casks. [The Dramble explains things far better than I].
THREE RANDOM FACTS:
- Ben means mountain or peak.
- Benromach’s Bobby mill came from the Green King Brewery whilst the spirit safe came from the old Millburn distillery.
- They have a long fermentation of up to 120 hours, that’s five days!
Benromach 9yo Un-Ob. [bourbon and sherry casks respectively] CS 61.7%
- C: The 9yo CS sherry-cask is very good, so too is the 9yo CS bourbon – the latter highlighting Benromach’s perfectly modest & restrained ppm levels. I remember these unfinished whiskies being much harsher & raw last time around.
Benromach 10yo with a 1yo oloroso finish Un-Ob. CS 61.2%
Composed of 80% bourbon and 20% oloroso, the whole lot then married for one year in oloroso.
- C: The shamelessly blatant sherry quells many of the desirable qualities of the 9yo bourbon-matured juice and simply kills the finish, though I remind myself again that this isn’t the finished article. Sadly we didn’t get to try the finished article this time. We did however have a go at the 4th single cask distillery exclusive.
- N: Pancakes, maple syrup and toffee-like sweet stuff.
- T: A fairly blatant sherry bomb. Very good though sherry-basic.
- F: Later on however, there’s more complexity than first meets the, er,.. palate – especially with water.
- C: Good stuff, but once again, the sherry dominates.
Scores 84 points
Read on where we crack open some crackers in Part 2