torsdag 30 januari 2020

Swedish Rye Whiskey (to be) – A cask sample from Blind Seal Whiskey!

Dear friends, followers and supporters alike! Today I bring you something very, very special. Exactly one week ago I met up with Tobiaz Forsberg (former brewer at Fjäderholmarnas Bryggeri, and today he is) the "Head Bootlegger" at the new and upcoming swedish whiskey brand Blind Seal Whiskey!

That's right, Blind Seal Whiskey is not a distillery but rather a brand. More precisely it's a joint venture between Nordic Whisky Capital and Tobiaz. NWC is as you know the owner of swedish Distillery Agitator. NWC owns 51% of Blind Seal Whiskey and Tobiaz, who is the (idea)man behind the brand, owns the rest. 

Blind Seal Whiskey is deeply rooted in the american designtradition of the 1920's, and is inspired by the speak-easy bars of the prohibition era. When it comes to the issue of producing Blind Seal Whiskey, it uses the competence, staff, and production capacity available at Agitator. The orientation of Blind Seal Whiskey is american style whiskey, and initially the focus is on rye as the main component. 

With that said, by now you all understand that the reason for me meeting up with Tobiaz was that he wanted me to review a cask sample of his work in progress Blind Seal Whiskey. Yay, very exclusive, very exciting!!!

So the need to know details for this sample is as follows: the mash is made from 60% malted rye and 40% malted barely. The Blind Seal mash holds an average strength of 7,3% ABV. The liquid for this sample is a 50/50 mix of maturing spirit coming from two 200 litre new american oak barrels (toasting level 3, wave staves). One barrel contained spirit from (distilled in) the High Reflux-stills,  the other barrel contained spirit from (distilled in) the Low Reflux-stills. The heart of the former held 72% ABV, while the heart of the latter held 67% ABV. The different hearts were then mixed together and by the use of water reduced to 55% (which is the filling strength most often used, and preferred,  at Agitator). This is batch number one which all in all was mashed throughout the 7th-23rd of January 2019, and distilled throughout the 15th-29th of January 2019 (in other words a fermenting period of seven days). The casks were filled by Tobiaz on the 11th of February 2019, and the liquid for this sample was drawn and blended by Tobiaz on the 20th of January 2020, at the time of sampling being a mere 11 months old. 

Ok, folks, that's enough details for sure, so let's review!

The top layer has soft/delicate honey sweetness intermingling with (an expected) vanilla sweetness, a moderately heavy vanilla sweetness. Whiffs of medium ripe banana, and a touch of orange zest/peel is saying hello to syrup. When nosing a little deeper, moving into the second layer, I first find a spicy-/herbyness mixed with maraschino cherries and deep violet, and then I find wood, kind of like a mix of firewood and oak/cask. There is actually something a bit toasted and/or barbeque-ish going on in the very bottom of the second layer. The bottom of the second layer is robust and has an ”industrial” feel to it (I’m thinking gundpowder and metal) that provides a medium heavy body which the top layer rests upon. There is absolutely no young-ish, new make-y, fusel-y, yeast-y stuff on the nose and it’s really hard to believe that I’m actually nosing spirit that is only 11 months old.

I actually start to laugh, because this tastes so damn good folks! It starts off with an intricate, smooth and moutwatering sugar syrup-y sweetness intermingling with almond paste, and some sweetness as from boiled carrots (!) topped with butter and salt. It moves on into burnt vanilla with wood spicyness and medium robust tannins. We have fudge cubes, dark honey and slightly burnt maple syrup, very old agave, slight touches of gunpowder and evident cocoa as well as sweet liquorice; this 11 month old spirit has real body, maturity and complexity folks! Whilst the strength/ABV was not at all something I thought of when nosing, on the taste it simply provides a beautiful warmth to my throat and breast/chest. The strength is evident (but not at all overpowering). The aftertaste lingers for quite some time and holds tannins, spicyness, dark raisins, and ends on a soft sugary sweetness.

Some reflections to sum up:
Well, as you can probably tell I really like this dram. To me, the complexity of both nose and taste, and most of all the body and maturity that this dram shows, is actually quite unbelievable. And I can’t help to be amazed by how this spirit already tastes this good. If it was up to me I sure would bottle a part of this batch right now and bring it to the market, so well done! And finally, a big thanks to Tobiaz for sharing a cask sample of some Blind Seal Whiskey at a work in progress phase! I'm so happy to have been the first blogger to try it! 

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