I am a total fan of the craft movement that has taken the whisky world by storm in the last years. All of a sudden, the water of life is no longer just produced in traditional regions such as Scotland, Ireland or the United States. These days, we also see top-quality drams coming from countries that are not exactly known as whisky strongpoints: Italy, Iceland, Denmark, Taiwan and the Netherlands, for example. And Israel! Yeah, you have read correctly. Since 2014, the Promised Land has an operating whisky distillery, too. It is called The Milk & Honey Distillery and resides in the country’s vibrant capital of Tel Aviv. Via their young malt spirits and their inaugural release (which hit the shelves of spirits retailers in early 2020), The Milk & Honey Distillery have already managed to gain a great reputation among drammers worldwide. Yet, I had not had an opportunity to check out their products. So when I received a promo package from German distributor Kammer-Kirsch earlier this month, I was especially excited to learn that it contained four samples from M&H (as the Israeli production site is sometimes abbreviated). If you are also curious to find out a bit more about whisky made in the Land of Milk and Honey, I invite you to stay with me for the following tasting notes.
Milk & Honey Classic
(Single malt whisky • ex-Bourbon & red wine casks • 46% • Regular release)
Here we go! My first-ever sniff of an Israeli single malt whisky. The red wine casks aren’t shy: They give the light bouquet a flirty redcurrant sweetness. Other aromas are sliced almonds, brown sugar, stewed plums and an ounce of cinnamon. Plus a bit of a gin-like quality. Now on to the palate. After a malty and surprisingly sturdy beginning, a potpouri of ripened red fruits appears: sugared strawberries, rosehips, raspberries and red apples. There’s also some nutty and yeasty notes further back, and even some (hard) peaches and kiwis. The finish is creamy with vanilla pods, sponge cake and banana split ice cream underneath a thin rose petal garnish. The whisky, which comes without an age statement, does not disguise its youth – neither in the nose nor in the mouth. And why should it? It is well-produced, it is well-composed and marks a super start from an upstart distillery that is quite extraordinary in many ways.
Milk & Honey Elements Sherry
(Single malt whisky • Sherry finish • 46% • Upcoming release)
Elements Sherry is next in line in The Milk & Honey Distillery’s release roadmap. It do not know its exact release date, but I know that it is an expression to look forward to! It is finished in – surprise, surprise – sherry casks, which define the whisky’s character without being too loud or pushy. When I sniff the whisky, I get sweet berries, candied peanuts, whipped cream, sliced apples and rum-soaked raisins. When I drink it, the spirit feels youthful, vibrant and delicate. It tastes of cherries, grapes, apples, limes and pistaccios. And when I swallow it, the upcoming Elements Sherry expression leaves me with a whole lotta white chocolate, toffee crumble and lemon sorbet as well as strawberry mousse and cooked pear. This deliciously sherried dram constitutes another great step in The Milk & Honey Distillery’s adventurous whisky journey; a journey I am happy to follow from now on.
Milk & Honey Cask Samples
(Young spirit • Special casks • 55% • Exclusive samples)
Like many whisky makers new to the scene, the folks operating The Milk & Honey Distillery in Tel Aviv love to experiment. To give me an idea of what the Israeli production site is sitting on, Kammer Kirsch sent me two cask samples bottled with 55 per cent ABV each. The first is almost a full-fledged whisky. It spent two years and ten months in a white wine cask. (Just a few more weeks and you are ready, buddy! ) The soon-to-be whisky has a muscular frame and a dry character. It has buttered bread, lemon zest and English marmalade in the nose. On the tongue it becomes sweeter with toasted coconut, fresh vanilla and juicy grapes. The striking aftertaste has white chocolate, mango creme and a bit of a boozy kick. White wine is admittedly not my most favorite cask type for whisky maturation, but this is a yummy treat without a doubt! The second sample came from a cask I never had before: pomegranate wine. As if that wasn’t enough, the spirit spent two thirds of its 18 months of maturation “at the Dead Sea”. It is immensely sweet and fruity, smelling of mulled wine and plum jelly while tasting of elderflower juice and soft licorice. Of the four drams I tasted, it weighs heaviest. Towards the end, it gets a little lighter and leaves behind lasting flavors of blueberries, mirabelles and candy apples. I gotta say: This fella is already pretty far developed, considering that it is a mere 1.5 years old. I am excited to learn how it will progress … and to find out what else Israel’s whisky mavens of The Milk & Honey Distillery have up their sleeves for us!
M&H Classic (Single Malt / Israel / NAS / ex-Bourbon & red wine / 46% / ~45 Euro)
M&H Elements Sherry (Single Malt / Israel / NAS/ Sherry finish / 46% / ~?? Euro)
M&H Cask Sample #1 (Young Malt / Israel / 2 yrs 10 mths / White wine cask / 55% / not for sale)
M&H Cask Sample #2 (Young Malt / Israel / 1 yr 5 mths / Pomegr. wine cask / 55% / not for sale)
The Milk & Honey Distillery @ Web: https://mh-distillery.com/
The Milk & Honey Distillery @ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MilkHoneyDistillery/
The Milk & Honey Distillery @ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/milkandhoney_distillery/
Kammer-Kirsch @ Web: http://www.kammer-kirsch.de/
*** Whisky samples kindly provided by Kammer-Kirsch. ***