Oct 292020
 

Following the very well received M&H Classic (reviewed here), the distillery’s Master Distiller, Tomer Goren, went on to create three permanent expressions, each highlights a cask type used by the distillery to bring out different aspects of its character. This review is the second in this series, following the review for the Wine Cask Matured (reviewed here).

Israel's First Whisky Is Launching in the U.S. – Robb Report

As a quick reminder, the series includes:

  • Elements Red Wine Cask – Matured in barrels from Israeli wineries, and bring out the full wine maturation experience, as opposed to the more stirpped down experince of STR casks.
  • Elements Sherry Cask – This whisky was matured in sherry casks seasoned in Jerez exclusively for the distillery using kosher certified sherry, making this the only sherry matured expression with a kosher certification.
  • Elements Peated

Unlike the other two expression in the Elements series, we’re lacking the word ‘Cask’ on the label of the ‘Peated’.  I said the it seems that not mentioning the “peated cask” is leaving the door open for actual M&H peated whisky to be bottled as one of the Elements, either as part of a vatting or on its own. That would obviously be very Interesting and welcome.

M&H Elements Peated (46% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Gold, very slow legs off a solid looking necklace.

Nose: There’s very little peat or smoke on the nose, and it seems to disappear over time in the glass. The honey and the light wine notes from the Classic are highlighted here, with the signature malt and spice.

Palate: There is peat on the palate, together with a lovely bitterness and honey. The white pepper plays with the sweet notes.

Linger: Spicy with an earthy smokiness, pepper and a very dry feel in the mouth.

Conclusion

Of the three Elements, this is the one I’d rank third, as it is less of a real peated expression and more of a “variant” of the classic with a little more smokiness. Nevertheless, the whisky is good and if you prefer peated whisky to wine matured whisky, this might be just the right amount of peatiness for you.
Tomer told me that the intention was to give the Classic just a bit of a peated boost, and that ‘Lightly Peated’ would be a better description.

Official sample was provided by M&H Distillery.

Aug 262020
 

I like whisky in wine casks, and have reviewed the Golani Vino previously. However, it has come to my attention that the profile of the vino has changed lately, using Cabernet casks from the Golan Heights Winery. I have gotten a sample of the cask strength version from David at the distillery to try, and what can I say, it’s really gorgeous.

The Golani whisky is a two grain whisky, both wheat and malt. There’s some of the wheat softness in there, but don’t think grain whisky here, even though that’s what it is technically. This is a complex and deep expression that will keep your interest in the glass and for a while after sipping it.

 

Golani Vino Cabernet Oak, Cask 72 (55.3% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: The first thing that you notice is the deep bronze color. The whisky leaves a thin and sturdy necklace with very slow legs.

Nose: Red fruit, cinnamon, hints of poached pears in wine and clove, baking bread and a bit of minced mint leaves. Sultana raisins appear with time.

Palate: Sweet black licorice washes across the palate, some spice and a deeper sweetness, sort of a date honey sweetness.

Linger: Still with the sweet licorice, hints of white pepper and a tangy dryness, with warming spices down the gullet. The inside of the cheeks feel extra dry, with the wine tannins. The linger is really long.

Conclusion

This is really an exceptional cask, and this is going to be the new standard for the Golani Vino. What can I say other than get yourself a bottle of this at cask strength, you’ll thank me.

May 042020
 

In 2013, plans for a distillery in Tel Aviv were well underway, and the founders of the distillery initiated a brilliant move to gain the distillery some notoriety. Hence, an Indiegogo campaign was launched which sold 1000 bottles of a future promise. This promise came to fruition in the Founder’s Edition, a beautiful rendition of the M&H Classic finished in specially sourced (kosher) Pedro Ximénez seasoned butts, presented at 57% ABV.

So having waited 6 years for this, here we go:

The first whisky distillery in Israel | M&H Whisky Distillery ...

M&H Founder’s Edition (57% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Bronze, very thin and slow legs.

Nose: Sweet spice, with both peppery notes and cinnamon with clove. It’s followed by dried apricots and red fruit. Dry wine notes, but a sweet wine. After a while in the glass, you get a creamy maltiness with a more intense sweetness. Water brings out some winey sourness. The PX is really noticeable and adds quite a bit of depth, without overpowering the spirit.

Palate: Chili pepper with sweet dried fruit, with a bit of a waxy bitterness, with washes of sweetness. A little bit of water rounds it out on the palate, bringing some maltiness in, while highlighting some citrus.

Linger: Spice (pepper and cinnamon with some chili), coupled with a dryness that almost borders on chalkiness. The linger is long remains spice prominent for a long while.

Conclusion

This is a lovely expression that really shows off the M&H spirit and the direction the distillery is headed. This is basically – cask wise – the Classic with a PX finish presented at cask strength. Both the finish and strength make this whisky one that totally rocks. I really like the strong PX influence here, which I think adds a lot of depth.

There is no doubt that this is a bottle you’ll really be happy you sprang for, way back on the Indiegogo campaign in those early pre-production days.

May 032020
 

I love the process of seeing a new distillery get started and make its first steps. When David Zibell stated Golani over five years ago, he had a clear vision of making whisky also in Jerusalem, with its own distinct character. It took a few years, but Yerushalmi Distillery is up and running, and has been distilling single malt, gin and rum.

The distillery style is one using peated malt (at 35 ppm) and I guess that we’ll discover the rest of the distillery character as the whisky develops toward the three year mark.

Distillery manager, Nitai Morgenstern, inspecting a distillation in progress

Both the new make and the young single malts show promise, and at this time we’ll be taking a look at the new make and at the same new make after about six months in cask. I’ll continue to update you as we go along, tasting the single malt as it makes its way toward becoming whisky, at three years of age.

Yerushalmi Distillery New Make (~70% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Clear and colorless (duh…), very thick and viscous, almost oily very slow to roll down the glass.

Nose: Light smokiness in a very malty and grainy notes. A briny, crushed black pepper

Palate: Very smoky, with a surprising gentleness, followed by black pepper and a subtle fruitiness.

Linger: The linger is a pretty spicy peated malt taste you have left in your mouth after chewing on some malt on a distillery tour on Islay.

Conclusion

I’d classify this as a more grainy new make, as opposed to the more fruity or floral ones out there. But it has a certain…..I guess I’d call it grace. I think this new make would be absolutely fabulous after say four years (this is Israel, with our heat here, that’s plenty of time) in a lovely sherry or Port cask….
I’m really looking forward to see where this distillery is going.

Image may contain: food

Luckily, I’m already able to see the first step, at around the six month point, as I have the inaugural bottling of the (very young) single malt. This whisky sat in a charred French Oak cask

Yerushalmi Peated Single Malt, 108 Bottles in a Charred French Oak Cask (46% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Gold, thin legs forming pretty quickly.

Nose: Almost no new make on the nose, which is pretty surprising, the malt and the smokiness are present, as is a new note of meat on the grill. There’s also a light floral hit, with time in the glass bringing out some honey.

Palate: Starts with the peat very much in the front, moving on to sweetness with a hint of chocolate, and ending up in a slightly bitter and somewhat sour minty note. The mintiness and the peat are a bit weird together, but let’s hope this is something the maturation will take care of on its own.

Linger: Here’s where the spirit still really needs time, as the Linger is focused more on the estery notes of the sour mint before moving on to sweetness and a residual smokiness in the mouth.

Conclusion

Six months in, this is very surprising. The spirit has gone a pretty long way from the new make, and this is without experiencing a single Israeli summer in the Jerusalem foothills. I thing the spirit shows great promise and I really look forward to tasting one of these casks in October, after the summer.

All in all, if peated whisky is your thing, this is a distillery to put on your radar and start following it.

 

Apr 052020
 

Every once in a while distilleries get really special casks. They get filled, monitored regularly, and at one point they’re deemed ready to be bottled. Now the question is, what do they do with them? Most would probably opt for a bottle your own option, while others would go with a single cask offering. Others may be too big for dealing with single casks, and would sell it off to an independent bottler. This Golani unicorn cask was to be a bottle your own at Whisky Live Tel Aviv 2020, but given the COVID-19 outbreak, that doesn’t seem to be on the books.

I had a chance to visit the distillery with a good friend who came in from Finland in early March, just before international travel became crazy (on non existent, now) and social distancing became an issue. I had a chance to sample this cask during my visit. Things being as they are, David is going to bottle this cask at the distillery and offer it for sale through his website.

Everything about this unicorn cask is special. Firstly, this is single malt new make, comprised of three different types of malt: Pale ale malt, pilsner malt and lightly peated malt.  This cask is a 110 liter French Oak barrique, which held a naturally fermented sour wind (ancient style wine). Given the small amount this cask yielded, it will be sold in 250 ml bottles.

 

Golani Single Malt Unicorn Cask 27, Distilled 1/2017, Bottled 4/2020, French Oak Red Wine Barrique (110 Liter), Cask Yield 71.9 Liters, or 34.6% Angel’s Share (57.7% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Copper, with a reddish hue. The legs form really slowly off a very solid necklace.

Nose: Sweet orange flavored chocolate, freshly ground cinnamon, coffee and a very distinct note of apricot jam. There’s a tiny whiff of Golani mint in there, but it plays hide and go seek within the woody notes. Toasted oak and some damp earth. As it rests in the glass, you get more of a floral red wine, together with some maltiness and a hint of lightly burnt cereal, with a very earthy aroma to it.
Water brings out more of the tannins and the sweetness of the wine.

Palate: Thick with spice and mint, some macerated fruit and a tannic dryness. The macerated fruit is more like the dried fruit you get in a dried fruit cake, not in the berry sense of it. Water is your friend for the palate on this one, and while it brings out more of the spiciness, it also rounds it out for and brings out more sweetness. With water and enough time, you’ll be able to make out the peat in it.

Linger: Wow, this Linger is sweet with a lot of spice and a very interesting mintiness, which is definitely part of the Golani DNA. In the background, you’ll also get some tartness from the naturally fermented wine. It turns into a dryness that will have you thinking of this dram for a while.

Conclusion

That last note on the nose I got before adding water, the burnt cereal, took about 15 minutes in the glass to appear. There is the little bit of peated malt that went into making this whisky. If you’re impatient with this dram, you’ll miss it.
While you definitely still have the mint, the caramel and licorice are absent, and the wine really takes this expression in a different, and fascinating direction.
This is definitely a bottle you want to have, especially if you’ve tasted other Golani single casks (or if you haven’t, make sure to save some of this one for when you get the next).