S.W.A.G.: What’s In Your Cupboard #3

Sussex downs

This is the third and final installment of What’s In Your Cupboard’ for the time being. Like the previous virtual installments [WLP & WLP], we initially nose & taste our shared samples blind.


[Midleton] Powers Three Swallows [2020] Ob. 40% [750ml] WB0

Initially tasted blind, this is a very new presentation that replaces the Powers signature blend.

Powers Three Swallow

  • N: A fluffy malty [and unmalty] Irish signature whisk[e]y, initially with a huskiness before fruitiness. There’s consensus that this is bottled at 40% and also that there’s a touch of sherry though slight. The fruitiness comes out with time, ‘foam bananas’ the killer note.
  • T: A soft/light sour=sweet arrival. 
  • F: With the same profile character as before, it’s a very light/soft finish.
  • C: 100% pot still from a 50/50 malt/unmalted mash bill, this very light whiskey would make for an ideal morning or ‘hair of the dog’ dram. No doubt with more abv we’d be hitting 85/86.

Scores 79 points

EDIT: I accidentally left half the sample. TAKE 2 then:

  • N: Fluffy=husky > fruity, yep. Today, The 40% abv-strength is just fine. 
  • T: Very congenial. Soft but not a total wuss.
  • F: Squidgy into the finish, on an exquisite savoury=sweet < sour confectionary fruit vanilla putty finish. That scorched/butterscotch finishing note is simply divine, so the overall restraint is frustrating.
  • C: Very neat compact whiskey that should no doubt please many. It’s an extra point today for the finish.

Scores 80 points


Bushmills Sherry Cask [2020] Ob. Steamship Collection [for travel retail] 40% [1ltr] WB82.67[68] WF84

Bushmills Sherry Cask [2020] Ob. Steamship Collection

  • N: I’m guessing this is another Irish malt. With a mineral-sour lactose coppery sherry-sweet profile, it’s the raisins & sultanas that lead proceedings. Soon it becomes very juicy with deeper layers that offer up a faint combo of dijon & grain mustard amongst other curious delights.
  • T: Like the nose there’s a lactose raisin-y start, the copperiness showing later on. Again, a lot of the action centres around the sherry influence though those casks aren’t dominant. Indeed, nothing is dominant given the,… abv grumbles. Dies with water.
  • F: Fades quickly with a slightly congealed oiliness at the death.
  • C: At 40%, that finish lets it down which is a shame as it was all going rather well. It appears I’ve tried this before, back in 2016 [83 points]. Today:

Scores 80 points

I accidentally left half the sample. TAKE 2 then:

  • N: Again, it’s all about those raisins that highlight this as a sherry cask-matured Irish whiskey,  very ‘seasoned’ sherry but it all works, in a contemporary style.
  • T: Tonight it’s copper before raisins. Just about stays on in there, hovering over a tenuous line.
  • F: Crumbling peppery cinnamon  biscuits ,… the sherried oiliness not so congealed today, but certainly on the cusp.
  • C: I thought the Powers held up better today, though neither are striving for greatness. The potential however, from an enthusiasts perspective, is a different story, but I’m not convinced it’s quite worth 80 today.

Scores 79 points


Kenny recommends the ‘Pickleback’, a measure of bourbon and a measure of pickle juice [gherkin for example] – the bourbon first. Further reading: thespruceeats.com. Ryan tries it. I’m intrigued. Next time I have a bourbon open, I’m trying it too.



Glenfairn Speyside Single Malt Whisky [+/-2020] MR&C for Tesco 40% WB52.50[2] MR1-2 LtL3/5

Glenfairn Speyside Single Malt Whisky MR&amp;C for Tesco 40%

  • N: Somewhat familiar yet innocuous nutty mineral-y soft-fruity-sherry-finished [I’m guessing] malt, with a sure-footed sour cream note.
  • T: Soft, pleasing arrival with little travel, … a blend? Again, it’s fairly obvious that this has been bottled at minimum strength.
  • F: Little here save for a green malty/grain-like sherried banana-y toastedness.
  • C: Smells fine, arrives fine, little else. That tells me this could well be a blend. Glenfairn [Speyside] whisky revealed: If you were an occasional whisky drinker, you’d be more than happy with this at the price,.. of £17-18.

Scores 77 points


Sagamore Spirit Rye [2020] Native Spirits 56.1% [bottle code: 9AB] WB85.50[2]

Sagamore Spirit Rye [2020] Native Spirits Batch 9AB 56.1%

  • N: Starts and continues with a strawberry jamminess that leads to a reoccurring jam tart note. Also, cake confectionary sweets, fresh plaster > Polyfilla, basil-led tutti-fruity, dill/rosemary, curry spices, mango chutney and more jam tarts,…  Every time I go back I add more to the shopping list. Could this be rye?
  • T: Unusual liqueur-like sweet > [oak-grainy] vibrant varnish-y herbal arrival. I’m initially unsure as to wonder whether this is even whisk[e]y though it’s certainly not rum. Could it even be a dry young tempered armagnac? It’s not long before I’ve tuned back in to channel-America and rye – a youthful lively rye – though that fresh contemporary craft armagnac reference still remains.
  • F: Finishes with a zing, the rye and the abv strength both contributing to this. With a touch of butterscotch, we finish with straight oak into spicy vanilla varnish.
  • C: Revealed: this is rye from titan distillery MGP in Indiana, bottled by Native Spirits under the Sagamore brand name. MGP makes various sprits for numerous brands – Bulliet Rye, High West, Smooth Ambler for example [list]. For around £70-75, this is a cracking assessable BFYB rye given the price of other ryes with a similar calibre.

Scores 87 points


Stagg Jr. [2018] Ob. Batch #10 63.2%/126.4 proof [750ml] WB87.40[13]

Stagg Jr. [2018] Ob. Batch #10 63.2%:126.4 proof

  • N: Hottish jammy yet dry/husky oily nose with soft firm vanilla prickles,… a grain? If it is a grain we could be up to the 30 year age bracket here. Otherwise, it could be far younger bourbon or another rye? 
  • T: This’ll put hairs on your chest. Very strong, oil-coated arrival. I test my grain hypothesis, but before long the bourbon thing kicks in. It’s sweet and peppery with blackcurrant lozenges, savoury-sweet > oily cask > vanillins cruising all the way with almost no medicinal quality.
  • F: Fizzes, peppery. Perhaps slightly fruity at best, but it’s really just the grain and oak running the show. Sour corn finish still with no medicinal quality – for me. Some butyric vanilla at the death suggests this could be some serious hangover juice.
  • C: A very competent formidable bourbon with a low rye content [10% or less].

Scores 83 points


Two from Phil to finish.

Ardmore 2011/2019 7yo Morrison & Mackay Carn Mor [420 bts] 47.5% WB81.33[3]

Ardmore 2011:2019 7yo Morrison &amp; Mackay Carn Mor [420 bts] 47.5%

  • N: Are we in Campbeltown, Islay, or elsewhere? Plenty of gritty mechanical notes flying around might have told me it’s Ardmore, but at the time I was thinking more of peated An Cnoc – Flaughter, or is it Cutter, or both? It then gets creamy, almost buttery with salty mineral watercress.… the citrus low within the talkative distillate mix, so we have a good start. With time, it becomes far more full-bodied but I still can’t decide where we are geographically.
  • T: Blimey, that’s not what I was expecting. It’s been a while since I tried,… Kilchoman? Laphroaig has come out with a few ’straight’ dry-smoky non-medicinal presentations in the last few years, but neither distillery rings true. Lightly toasted, lightly oily [at best, but really more dry], lightly sweet < sour lemon,…. a little pepper,…. As a well crafted, relaxed giving malt, I guess are we at around 43% abv, so I’m surprised it’s at 47.5% given the effortlessness in drinking the stuff.
  • F: After the sweet American bourbon and rye this is decidedly sour lemon with watery barley smoke, but give it time and there’s more body/presence at the end with sour barley=clay at the death.
  • C: Still guessing, I think perhaps this is a peated malt at around 8/9 years of age [tops] from a distillery where peated whisky isn’t part of their core expression. Revealed, for £35, this is a decent affordable assured young Ardmore.

Scores 82 points


Rock Island 21yo [2019] DL [4200 bts] 46.8% WB86.12[27]

Rock Island 21yo [2019] DL [4200 bts] 46.8%

  • N: Salty complex-sweet-ish coastal lemon references with relaxed yet firmly farmland peated leanings, it’s cowpats near the beach all entwined within unobtrusive oak. I’m guessing Islay first up, perhaps a modern light dry Laphroaig > Caol Ila. Then again, Talisker might be a good shout. This has plenty of charm, and pancakes! “Port Charlotte”, says lewis which is also a good shout. It can’t be Ardbeg, Bunna, Bowmore, Laga?,…nope. With bits of everything, this is too unspecific for one distillery. Could this be Big Peat I ask?
  • T: More salivating than the Ardmore and with significantly more age, so I’m guessing this has seen some fine refill maturation. Amazing, there’s a Port Ellen-esque on arrival with a mouthfeel to boot. It’s fleeting but it’s there, every time, with a watery-smoked lemon barley squidgy mouthfeel. Leads on nicely with all the bits playing their part, initially delectably ambrosia-sweet before turning sourer with a soft floaty-dryness later on.
  • F: That’s kind of it then. Time then to enjoy the simmering cool down. Dry smoke lingers as dry smoke does.
  • C: Revealed: previously known as Rock Oyster, this is an island blend. With a few fleeting moments of sheer brilliance including the closest fleeting reference to Port Ellen I’ve enjoyed [from a non-Port Ellen] for some time, this is highly recommended.

Scores 86 points



And that’s all folks. The afterparty is between me, S.W.A.G., and the privacy policies that exist at Zoom HQ! After good chat, shared ideas, whisk[e]y and laughs, this session eventually ends like a real-life version of voluntary Guess Who: ‘Does one have work in the morning?’,….etc.

Guess Who





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