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Whisky Reviews

Undisclosed Irish 2002, 21 Year Old, Port Cask, bottled by Malt, Grain & Cane, 53.1 % ABV

 

BAM!

That's what happens when the lights are turned off and you've got a UV torch.

 

And we're back with another Malt, Grain & Cane bottle - this time an undisclosed Irish that rhymes with Woolly Mammoth - we're now in Year 4 of this Singaporean independent bottler's series I believe. Sometimes the series goes by years, sometimes by an art style, sometimes colour, country, artist,... ah well, it's what's inside that counts right?

Regardless, Malt, Grain & Cane (MGC) is a Singaporean independent bottler that's done something like 18 selections so far, which is very prolific for 3 years plus. They've all been a mix of whiskies and rums, but as far as we can tell, thus far it seems that they've got a liking for Scotch and Irish whiskies, though we hear a Japanese might be in the works, and then also Jamaican and Barbados rums. Pretty much the classics - yet, what sets them apart has been the very interesting use of casks. At times the cask holding one rum expression, once bottled, is used to finish another expression of whisky that is to be subsequently bottled - that's yielded some very flavourful results. It seems that the cask finishes here have been much more well-integrated with the underlying spirit, and have also been more bold in its expression without overtaking the whisky or rum. 

 

 

 

In broad, it seems that unique cask ageing has been quite the forte of MGC.

And today we've got the latest example of that. It's not finished with any exotic cask, but instead this undisclosed Woolly Irish has been aged entirely in a single Port cask for 21 years, much of which has been in Ireland itself. It weighs in at a nice and hefty 53.1% ABV too.

Yet another bit of uniqueness with MGC has been that increasingly so, most of its recent labels have each sported an artwork or photograph (which is also an artwork anyway) that has been commissioned specially for MGC's bottlings.

   

  

And so for this Woolly Irish, we've got an artwork titled Calligraphy Beast - Rising (2023) and comes from Japanese artist, Airi Hara (愛梨 原). Airi Hara is an emerging artist that has made calligraphy works her signature style - what she's done has been to reinterpret calligraphy in creative ways that are made to be more relevant to us today, moving beyond its traditional appeal.

And so what we've got here on the label is an oriental dragon holding a samurai sword in its jaws, and along its body, those markings are in fact a string of calligraphy. It reads: 

「世の人は我を何とも言わば言え 我なす事は我のみぞ知る」

which can be translated as "Whatever people may say about me, I know what I'm doing".

This actually comes from a 1800's samurai, Ryoma Sakamoto, who was a key figure in the establishment of a modern Japan in the late Edo period.

It is time to face the beast!

Undisclosed Irish 2002, 21 Year Old, Port Cask, bottled by Malt, Grain & Cane, 53.1 % ABV - Review

 

Tasting Notes

Colour: Gold with Copper Flecks

Aroma: Really candied richness, loads of maltose candy, honey, as well as some confectionary candies of bubblegum and cotton candy, but only if they were coated with maple syrup - surprisingly it's only moderately sweet, and is really more candied in texture. More on stewed plums and prunes. It's got great density and fullness, and in particular a very satisfying depth. It brightens up with time, giving in to more along those confectionary candies. 

Taste: A good moderate punchiness to make a presence. More of those honey, maltose candy, and then candied fruits of peaches, apricots and yellow raisins. It's tinned fruit syrup meets honey and tanghulu (a popular Chinese treat of fruits coated in maltose). At times it's reminiscent of medium-bodied Cognac - this very lovely sort of candied body, lots of richness, with light bits of clove spices.

Finish: Takes a more savoury turn here. There is of course the raisins and cooked plums and prunes too. But some good dabs of teriyaki sauce. It's got a nice creaminess into the finish with a long and deep warmth.

 

My Thoughts

Really impressive stuff here - this has got presence! It almost feels like a digestif at times, and I do so enjoy the combination of bright candy confectionaries coupled with heavier richness. This is packed with candied fruits too - which is always a hit. It's straightforward and uncomplicated but tasty. You're not going to struggle to grasp this - it's friendly and approachable, flavour rich and forward, it's just damn enjoyable.

Yet where this stands out is not only the good balance between cask and spirit - I told you MGC was good at that - but also that even with the rich and candied flavours, the medium-bodied thickness as well as the more savoury finish is impeccably tuned to keep a holistic balance across the whisky. It's never too sweet, too rich, too dense, but at the same time, expect this to give big flavours but with controlled structure that it takes you all the way to the edge of.

Very tasty, I think this might be MGC's sleeper hit of its Year 4 collection. It's impossible to not like this. 

   

Kanpai!

  

 

@111hotpot