What was the occasion: Feeling better about myself, and a friend of mine has been asking why I haven’t reviewed more whiskies from Israel. He’s right, what with there being only one distillery and said distillery only started releasing things in recent history (last 5 years-ish), but why bring logic to a good ole ribbing.
Thus I have time, and I’ll review some. I’m sure my timing doesn’t align with anything to do with Israel and that totally won’t make me slightly uncomfortable to write it up.
What whisky did we review? Milk & Honey 2 2017 Single Cask Nation, a single cask spirit drink bottled by the Jewish Whisky Company through the Single Cask Nation brand line after being aged for 2 years in a first-fill Jamaican rum cask.
I say spirit drink as typically anything aged below 3 years is not a whisky. That said, typically that’s determined by the country. For instance 3 years is what Scotland determines a whisky. Ireland determines it as 3 years and 1 day, because fuck Scotland, that’s why.
Israel currently does not have standards on whisky, for the same reason they don’t have standards on unicorn breeding. That said, Milk & Honey does follow Scotland’s rules, so in the past Milk & Honey releases under 3 years old weren’t called whisky, they were called “Young Single Malt” or “New Make” if not aged.
What’s the distillery? Milk & Honey distillery is the first distillery in Israel. They were established in 2012. As Israel has a warm climate. Well that doesn’t exactly sum it up: The northern part is a Mediterranean climate, and the southern part is arid, with the part in between semi-arid.
All of that is to say, as this distillery is in Tel Aviv, they are in a warmer climate than Scotland or Canada, but not the warmest part of the country. Meaning the whisky will age quicker than whiskies in those places.
What’s my bias? Couple layers to all of this, so bare with me.
This is a new distillery. New distilleries take time to figure out what they need to do to really make a good whisky. That takes time, capital, and a lot of trial and error. Same thing has happened with other country’s distilleries. I’ve been there. You’re excited, you buy vodka or some random drink or something they’ve sourced, and you accept you are giving them money to keep going. So while I’m excited to support a new distillery, I also have done this song and dance before, and know what I’m drinking isn’t typically going to be amazing.
Then there’s Israel. I’m not going to make this political or state my thoughts on the country, but we can all agree Israel evokes powerful emotions for people around the world. So when you post a whisky from Israel, regardless of that distillery’s views or your personal views on the politics of the region, there’s an elephant in the room. Just like I used to get vitriol or downvotes for posting Irish whiskies. So there’s an inherent avoidance to review these whiskies, as there’s gonna be rough times once you post. I don’t avoid reviewing them, but I also feel like I should be writing a history essay to explain the myriad of complicated, nuanced thoughts I have.
Oh, and if you like posting anything because you’re addicted to negative feedback… I guess it means I should congratulate you on getting out of whatever terrible upbringing you escaped from. Get therapy.
Then there’s a massive demonstration going on at the moment too. Great. Not gonna talk about that either.
Finally let’s talk about this particular whisky itself: It’s really young. Can’t get around that. It’s released by a company that I’ve had a great release and three just okay releases. We don’t typically get them where I’m from, so there’s that.
Oh and I feel that only about 10% of rum cask whiskies actually taste good, so that’s a pretty big problem too.
But all of that is just to add context. We need to get to the main course, the whisky. Let’s get on with it, shall we?
Price: $95.00 (USD)
Vintage: July 2017
Bottled: December 2019
Cask type: First Fill Jamaican rum barrel
Cask number 0185
No of bottles 268
Colour: 2.5Y 8/6
Nose: Butter, peach, nail polish remover
Lighter nose, then some fat and fruit, bit tart, and then.. Yup, it’s a very young release. Water adds more nail polish remover.
It’s a rough nose. Water just kept bringing more nail polish. I feel like the rum cask needed a bit more time on the nose.
Taste: Peach, alcohol, white pepper, cream
Bit of fruit, some cream, and some heat mixed with raw alcohol. Think having a BORG that wasn’t shook enough. Actually don’t think about that, I’m late to the “BORG” thing and don’t think you should ever drink them.
But binge drinking trends aside, this is rough. Water does help here, lessening the pure alcohol notes, though again I feel that the rum cask needed a bit more time. Also part of the reason I usually avoid rum casks is some rum distilleries use casks over and over again until they are basically neutral. This is for lots of reasons, I won’t try to explain as I’m still learning about it, but I wonder where the cask originally came from and how many times it was used for rum before whisky.
FInish:Pineapple, alcohol, cream
Mercifully very short. Too bad too, as the pineapple and cream notes are quite nice. That said, the rest is pretty much brown vodka, thus my use of the word “mercifully”.
Conclusion: A rough, painful whisky you buy to support a new distillery. I’m positive that this was purchased by the independent bottler to support the company. It’s a collector’s item if you want to support them, it’s not that great tasting, and I can’t really say much else.
Wait, no, I can say this: If you’re going to buy a 2-year-old whisky to support a distillery, and you don’t have the money, start selling shares in the cask rather than taking these out of the cask so quickly. If you had told me I could pay for this cask for the cost they paid the distillery, and it’ll be bottled when it’s ready, I’d be in.
Why? Because I don’t need to drink a 2-year-old whisky now, I’d rather pay some cheap price, wait a few years, and get the bottle of whisky cheaper than anything else, when it’s ready. Instead people either bought this to point to it as a source of pride (either for the distillery or the country) and never drink it, or they bought it and will second guess buying anything from Milk & Honey again. Which is too bad, because I personally think the distillery has potential. Just skip this particular one.
World Whisky review #442, Israel review #2, Whisky Network review #2360
2 thoughts on “Milk & Honey 2 2017 Single Cask Nation”
“ON 30 MARCH, AT THE WORLD DRINKS AWARDS IN LONDON, AN ISRAELI WHISKY SURPRISED EVERYONE BY WINNING THE PRESTIGIOUS TITLE OF “BEST SINGLE MALT IN THE WORLD.”
The Israeli distillery, Milk & Honey, won the award for its Milk & Honey Classic Single Malt, a whisky with sweet and warm tones. “Smooth to the taste and heavy on the palate, this whisky has flavours of golden syrup, vanilla, tropical fruit and iced tea, followed by a finish of oak tannins with hints of aniseed and lemon peel,” these were the aromas that tipped the judges. But Milk & Honey also received eight other awards for the quality of its whisky, including Craft Producer of the Year, Brand Innovator of the Year and Master Distiller of the Year.”
One can go too far, I think, in supporting a new distillery.
Well paid for, I presume.