Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Two Blues - Blue Hanger & Penny Blue

Blue Hanger & Penny Blue
Recently I received 2 samples bottles from Wine & Spirit Merchant Berry Bros. & Rudd, one being a Blended Scotch Malt Whisky (aka Vatted Malt), the other a Single Estate Mauritian Rum, and both a label of the parent company.

Berry Bros. & Rudd, as the name suggests is a Wine & Spirit Merchant. Being Britain's oldest wine and spirit merchant their experience in picking and choosing what makes a good product we can assume is next to none. From a whisky perspective in Australia you will be aware of the brands The Glenrothes and Cutty Sark. Cutty Sark, originally in the BB&R portfolio was essentially traded with The Eddington Group for The Glenrothes. The Glenrothes in turn is an essential blending element that makes up The Glenrothes.

Blue Hanger Blended Scotch Malt Whisky

Blue Hanger, 9th Release, Blended Malt Scotch Whisky 

Blue Hanger (the first of our reviews) as the story goes takes its name from the clothes worn by William ‘Blue’ Hanger. William was long time and loyal customer to BB&R towards the end of the 18th century and was know for his impeccable sense of dress. Though it is undisclosed, Blue Hanger is blend of different single malt whiskies from several distilleries. I am speculating The Glenrothes must be in there somewhere but don;t take my word on that.

Blue Hanger, 9th Release, Blended Malt Scotch Whisky 
Merchant: Berry Bros. & Rudd
Location/region: Scotland
ABV: 45.6%
Bottled: 2013

Colour: Weat

Nose: Sweet woody notes, biscuits, typical light vanillas with fine dry smoke. Some older sherry influences displaying ham and peanuts. I found it hard to discern extremely pronounced notes on the nose with everything muddling together.

Taste: Textural across the tongue with a lot of sweetness and old decaying oranges (certainly not fresh).

Finish: Long and spicy that turns to a very smoky dry mouthfeel.

Overall I get the impression this is a distinctly and deliberate old style whisky vatting. It would be very appealing to an audience liking the traditions of spirit heat, spice burn, and lip tingle while wood finish is mingled throughout. The blending is characteristically fine. With the emergence of world whiskies being extremely robust and assertive it is nice to know some things don’t change and traditions are being held onto by companies like this.

Penny Blue XO Single Estate Rum

Penny Blue, XO Single Estate, Batch No. 2, Mauritian Rum 

What’s in the name? First of all it clearly indicates this is an extra old rum. Exactly how old I cannot say but it is not often that when a spirit sports the label XO is it actually said how old it is. ‘Single Estate’ is referring to the fact this spirit sees products completed from start to finish. This includes cane farming, distillation, maturation and bottling on the one property/estate. ‘Batch’ of course meaning it is the second run or bottling and release. ‘Mauritian’ or Mauritius is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 2,000 kilometres off the southeast coast of the African continent. That is a lot to fit into one name.

What the name is not telling you is that this is a vatting/blending of 22 casks of rum with a ratio of 30% Whisky cask, 30% Cognac cask and 30% Bourbon cask. The final 10% is made up of spirit from the previous batch of Penny Blue. It is non-chill filtered, naturally wood coloured, and contains no additional sweeteners. That is some pretty cool maturation and blending going on here but how does it all work out? Let us make it clear here that I have never been a rum fanatic so there will always be a bias to my appreciation.

Penny Blue, XO Single Estate, Batch No. 2, Mauritian Rum
Distiller: The Indian Ocean Rum Company, Medine Distillery, Berry Bros. & Rudd
Location/region: Mauritius
ABV: 43%
Wood: 30% Whisky, 30% Cognac and 30% Bourbon

Colour: Toffee

Nose: Spirity and bold with big vanillas, oranges and typical florals. The barrel influence is extremely obvious with a sort of blended wood effect.

Taste: Waxy sweet vanilla sugars and heavily palate drying. There feels like common influences of the cognac but it is clearly rum the whole way through. Some residual light fruit cake textures and flavours appear.

Finish: High and dry.

As rums go it is delicate and refined. No question about it. Rum though is not my thing at the best of times as I find the high levels of dryness excessive and hard to mask. The barrel ageing has added levels of wood balance but it still is rum through and through. I do enjoy a whisky finished in a rum barrel where minor influences appear so of course I can appreciate opportunities to try these refined rum products.

Thanks to Daniel Hutchins-read and Berry Bros. & Rudd for the samples.

The Baron

D.T.W.C. was supplied a sample for review. All views and opinions are our own unless otherwise stated.