Thanks to /u/devoz for the sample of the North Star.
It’s fair for some people to think that England, like Scotland or Ireland, should have some type of whisky background. They have lived beside these major whisky producing countries, created others like Canada or the US, and had royalty who has been purchasing and imbibing since they took it over from the poor schlubs that were there before.
And yet they don’t. England conquers other countries to gain new things. See also: Food, various people, and land. Thus we enter the English Whisky company, a novelty in that it’s a distillery in England that isn’t making gin (which they learned from the Dutch but changed it) only.
So when I last reviewed the company the name of the whisky was St. George’s Distillery. Sorry for any confusion that may cause. Totally on me. I thought it’d be fun.
Let’s dive in, shall we? We have a NAS “smokey” version of their single malt and then an IB version. I like to compare these to see if the company is showing off “the best” of the dram or just what they enjoy while getting to an Abv. that allows them to make a living.
English Whisky Smokey
Colour: 5Y 9/4
Nose: Peat, anise, nori, red berries/fruit
Hey, it’s smokey and has some brine to it, what a surprise. I guess when you hire Iain Henderson from Laphroaig you get some of that flavour along with it.
Nice fruit to go along with the peat. Good touch.
Taste: Anise, smoke, salted peanut, molasses
Spice, salty again, and smoke. Exactly what you get with peaty whisky at this strength. I’m happy there’s more than just smoke, and love the salty/spicy aspects, like when I’m feeling all perty like.
Finish: Butter, peanut, molasses, cereal
Wow butter and molasses, and this strong cereal note. For fear of contradicting myself, I was enjoying a peated whisky that I was happy that had some things other than peat, and then the finish went too far and forgot the smoke.
Don’t get me wrong, this rotund giant wanged humble guy likes butter and molasses and cereal like anyone else, it just lost it’s way at the end.
Conclusion: Decent, easy drinking peated whisky. While I feel the finish lost it’s way, I’d grab this over a lot of smokey OB whiskies out there from Islay that are similarly priced.
You see that? It’s call a caveat. Don’t miss it now.
Is this going to turn you off all Scotch? No, never, what are you, on drugs? But is it a decent entry level whisky? You bet all your asses it is. Nice job.
English Whisky 11 North Star Burgundy
Bottling Series 009
Cask type: Burgundy Red Wine Cask
Number of bottles: 330
Colour: 2.5YR 5/10
Nose: Red licorice, papaya, thyme/earthy herbal, cinnamon
Fruit, more fruit, and herbal. Some heat/spice, however the initial is all sweets, both the fake great death kind and the real tasty healthy kind. Tropical and interesting notes, with a bit of rough edges.
Taste: Grapefruit, anise, cocoa, green papaya, butter, lemongrass
You know what people don’t do? They don’t cover extremely bitter fruits in cocoa or spices. Why? Because that’s crazy.
Enter this whisky, which has these bitter fruity aspects and more of the earth and herbal notes. It’s unique, and I can’t decide if I mean that in a nice way, but I keep drinking so I think I enjoy it.
Finish: Strawberry, mace, anise, banana, peat/cinnamon
The finish calms down a bit. Granted I say that as someone who grew up with the SPICE MACE in the house, and if you’re wondering why I’m yelling there it’s because some of you ask me what being maced is like and the judge said I’m not allowed to talk about that anymore.
The spice and peat come through and the finish is like if a calm person mixed fruit and spice together. You know, in a tasty, not bitter way.
Conclusion: Certainly unique, I’ll give it that. The taste, if it was ubiquitous, would have turned me off quicker than a cold shower with a priest. Luckily the finish is very good while keeping the general theme and the nose was a good walk in.
If this is what peated whisky from English Whisky company is like at 11 years then I’m all set to wait another 11 years. I feel like they’ll really do something others aren’t.
World Whisky review #406-7, England review #3-4, Whisky Network review #2034-5