Welcome back to another World Whisky Wednesday, the only category (on this blog) that explores the weird and wonderful world of whiskies from outside the big five countries. Today I’ve picked up a drop from a country I was surprised to hear makes whisky, the Nestville Blended Whisky from Slovakia. Yes, you heard me right. Slovakian whisky.
This wee drop comes to us from BGV, founded in 2001 near Stara Lubovna with a focus mainly on ethanol and grain alcohol production (these are the proud producers of Aquanest winter windscreen wiper fluid). A wee look around their website gives us some interesting information though, and they tell us that distilling within the region spans back as far as the tail end of the 18th century. While this was mainly focused on “gorzalka” or vodka, it did bear similarities to many whiskies produced around the world at the time, so while their whisky heritage may not be long they certainly do have a spirit’s heritage. It would appear that the whisky production is an offhand experiment however, with their own site stating;
“Our sound portfolio of customers consists of major distilleries in Europe, pharmaceuticals and food companies, manufacturers of car care products, packaging films, and many other industrial companies.”
Not a focus on whisky production, rather a broad spread. So what makes up this blended whisky? Well the bottle was not terribly forthcoming with answers, so I did some digging. A 3-year-old blend, it utilizes mainly grain whisky, with a mash bill of 12%, 48% corn and 40% triticale, a wheat/rye hybrid originating in European laboratories. While not used a lot in the production of whisky, it has been gaining traction in the States with the boys from Corsairs and other distilleries. After that, this grain whisky is blended with a 100% malt whisky, with a total of 90% grain and 10% malt. Aged in white oak barrels for a minimum of three years these are blended together to give us what lies in the bottle. Oh, and it’s distilled seven times. Yes, you read that correctly, seven times. Why so many? I have no idea, they don’t mention why at all, but judging from their output (112,000HL annually) I suspect they use the stills they have at hand (hopefully not the same ones used for the wiper fluid) and the high strength alcohol they have was at some point in time plonked into a barrel for an experiment. What matters here at Somewhiskybloke however is what it is after it plonks into the glass, and that is what our main focus is on.
It’s a very clean start on the nose, beginning with flame licked caramel on toasted wood into heavy treacle, a light floral undertone running through the whisky. Candy apples, touches of wood polish here and there and a freshly mopped wooden floor (lemon scented as well). A little chemically, but the chemical smell of a freshly cleaned room. From there we head into melted chocolate complete with some dipping strawberries, light vanilla wafers, sauternes, apricots and peaches drizzled lightly with maple syrup. That grain whisky wants to release sugar here and there, with the maple syrup taking a turn with brown sugar and a banana milkshake before we finish on chocolate milk. Not unpleasant or windscreen wiper-ish at all.
The palate takes a different turn. I was expecting something smooth, but this was oily and silken enough to be reminiscent of an Irish drop, with clean spiced honey, light grassy notes, caster sugar over ripe mango and melon. The finish is incredibly short, lightly sweet but not adding much however the mouthfeel continues for a good while, lightly spiced and mouth-watering.
It’s a short palate to be sure, the main focus of the dram being on the nose. While it may be better suited to a cocktail, having the dram neat was a different experience and off the nose alone I feel I could give this to almost anyone and they would have no idea what they were drinking. The problem however seems simple; it’s too clinical. It’s ordered, worked over, and the hand of a blender is extremely present. I would be keen to see what the distillery could do if they let the grain sit by itself and release a pure grain whisky, as it rivals the like of Cameronbridge and North British for smoothness. All in all, not a bottle to rush out and buy, but definitely something to grab a dram on if you see it on a bar. Just make sure it’s the first drink of the night, as I’m certain if it wasn’t you may be at a loss to taste anything at all.