Bought: Online Auction, 19th December 2019
84/100 – Whiskyfun (Serge Valentin, one of the famous Malt Maniacs)
I always love it when a new country joins the world of whisky production. In August 2017 I watched with interest as Israel’s Milk & Honey (M&H) distillery had bottles from its inaugural release up for sale on Whisky Auctioneer. The cheapest bottle went for £403, a bit more than my pocket money would allow but it was a great start for the young distillery from Tel Aviv. I made a mental note to get a bottle as soon as prices came down to earth.
Jump forward over 2 years and I won this M&H bottle at auction, made exclusively for ‘La Maison du Whisky’ in France. At 55%, non-chill filtered, natural colour, matured in ex-bourbon casks before being lightly peated in an ex-Islay cask – wow, this ticks all my boxes! It may only be 3’ish years old but the boys at M&H have the heat of the Middle East on their side, which gives a far more rapid maturation process. A skill they gained knowledge about from whisky consultant Jim Swan, who contributed to the success at Kavalan distillery, Taiwan.
84/100 is a decent score from Serge Valentin of Whiskyfun. He concludes with “very good, but the new ‘regular’ M&H is even better in my book”. Does M&H have a ‘regular’ whisky? Perhaps the 46% ‘Classic’ or ‘Elements’ as reviewed by my good friend Tobi over on Barley Mania. Serge is certainly not referring to the ‘Young Single Malt’, rated only 69/100. Which brings me to one issue I have with M&H; their terminology. When I read ‘Young Single Malt’ I can’t be the only one that assumes this is whisky, when in reality it’s ‘young spirit’ or ‘malt spirit’, which hasn’t reached 3 years old. ‘Young Single Malt’ is the sort of description I’d expect for Ardbeg’s 5yo ‘Wee Beastie’, which is most definitely whisky. But quibbles aside, M&H have certainly announced themselves with fanfare on the world whisky map.
Tasting notes from La Maison du Whisky where this bottle sold for a mere €65 (which seems too cheap!):
Nose: first nose reveals beeswax, candied fruit (peat), camphor and intense smoke. Allowed to breathe, it becomes animal (smoked meat), floral (tuberose) and rooty (gentian). The resolute attack is characterised by notes of talc and pommade (ointment).
Taste: The mid-palate evokes thin strips of dried peat. Gradually, the flavour palate becomes fruity and floral (banana, date, violet, dandelion).
Finish: The rich finish is candied (lemon), peaty and vanilla. The retro-nasal olfaction is vegetal (cut hay), saline and smoky (tobacco).
Masterclass by Milk & Honey, at Whisky Live Paris 2019 (YouTube October 2019):