Last month, I attended a fantastic Milk & Honey tasting in Hamburg. At one point, our host Shilton Almeida – who represents The M&H Distillery as Sales Manager and Brand Ambassador – told us about the upcoming releases from Israel’s first-ever whisky production site. They included, among others, a number of new additions to the “Art & Craft” range, all of which were matured in craft beer casks sourced from local breweries. A few weeks have passed since then and in the meantime the mentioned special editions have seen the light of day. Two of them have found their way to my home country as Germany Exclusives available through The M&H Distillery’s distributor Kammer-Kirsch. The duo in question consists of “Art & Craft: Islay IPA Cask” and “Art & Craft: Chocolate Porter Cask”. If you read on, you will find my tasting notes for both of them. Enjoy!
The M&H Distillery “Art & Craft: Islay IPA Cask”
(Single Malt Whisky • Israel • 53.2% • 811 bottles)
To create this limited edition, The M&H Distillery put its spirit for three years into ex-Islay casks that previously held the very last offering from disbanded Israelian craft beer makers The Dictator Beer Company: a peated IPA. The whisky resulting from this get-together opens with thick and sturdy smells; yet it also has a distinct freshness. On the one hand, there’s buttered popcorn and crumbled caramel. On the other, there’s birch wood and sage leaf. Plus crisp cereals, juicy grapes, and green hay. The first sip is fruity with apple puree, gooseberry jam, quince mash, and lime zest. Shortly after, however, the fruit notes get pushed back by shortcrust pastry, oat flakes, and walnut crumbles. Then unfolds an ashy smoke cloud. Considering that this is an unpeated whisky that got all of its smokiness from the Islay IPA Cask finish, the fumes are surprisingly dense and strong. Also, the cask strength ABV is punchy and powerful; even on the third and fourth sip, the whisky remains pleasantly electrifying. The finish lasts for a bit. It is chocolatey, peppery, smoky, and jam-like. If I had to sum this fabulous dram up in just one sentence, I’d go for this description: “Art & Craft: Islay IPA Cask” is the liquid version of a buttered toast with fruit jelly and chocolate shavings used as an ashtray.
The M&H Distillery “Art & Craft: Chocolate Porter Cask”
(Single Malt Whisky • Israel • 56.2% • 770 bottles)
Sweetness galore! Four years in dark craft beer casks from Shapiro Brewery have made “Art & Craft: Chocolate Porter Cask” from The M&H Distillery a great choice for drammers with a sweet tooth. When nosed, the whisky brims with stimulating aromas of vanilla pudding, honey toast, cappuccino foam, banana split, and Bounty bars. On top, there is a fresh splash of lemon juice and a crisp layer of icing sugar. In the mouth, the drop develops a tongue-coating creaminess. Now I get whipped cream, pear puree, strawberry muffin, and – especially! – eggnog sipped outta those eatable dark choc cups. Furthermore, I register a slightly tart woodiness and bitter-sweet pomelo note. In the course of the rich and sumptuous aftertaste, the spirit brightens up a little as vanilla, coconut, and milk chocolate mingle with pear, grape, and green banana. Sure thing: “Art & Craft: Chocolate Porter Cask” is a real treat, not only for craft beer-loving whisky fans!
M&H “Art & Craft: Islay IPA” (Single Malt / Israel / 3yo / Islay IPA Cask / 53.2% / ~75 Euro)
M&H “Art & Craft: Choc. Porter” (Single M. / Israel / 4yo / Choc. Porter Cask / 56.2% / ~75 Euro)
*** Whisky samples kindly provided by Kammer-Kirsch. Thank you. ***