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Whisky from the land of Milk and Honey…
Milk and Honey is Israel’s first whisky distillery. It was established in 2014 by entrepreneurs Gal Kalkshtein, Amit Dror, Simon Fried and Roee and Naama Licht. The name is a reference to a biblical term that describes the Promised Land God promises to the disciples of Abraham – Exodus 3:8 “a land flowing with milk and honey.”
Gal Kalkshtein was a home brewer with an interest in making his own beer. Over time he developed the urge to try his hand at making whisky and the more he read about the subject, the more fascinated he became. Plans began for an official distillery in 2012 and production commenced in 2014. In the early days, the distillery was guided by Dr Jim Swan, an expert consultant who helped several distilleries get up and running before his untimely death in 2017.
The distillery team were forced to confront a few troublesome issues in order to make their whisky. For one thing, Tel Aviv’s water supply is hard and calcium-rich. To tackle the problem, a water lab was installed at the distillery to treat the water and add the required salts and minerals.
Then there’s the heat. Tel Aviv’s average temperature fluctuates between 16 and 40 degrees Celsius with 300 days of sunshine in any given year. Refrigeration tanks have to be used during fermentation to keep things at the optimum temperature. Maturation is also a problem. The process is accelerated with much greater interaction between spirit and oak than is seen in cooler countries like Scotland and Ireland. As a result, the whisky is deemed ready much earlier than it would be elsewhere and sometimes, second-fill casks are used to help balance the process out a little.
Milk and Honey released its first products in 2016. Since then it has introduced a range of bottlings that showcase a diverse array of flavours and aromas. Casks used to create the whiskies include ex-bourbon, ex-sherry, ex-wine, ex-pomegranate wine, rum and STR casks (Shaved, Toasted and Recharred). Naturally, all whiskies produced at the distillery are kosher.
I received the whisky featured in this article as part of my paid subscription to Whisky Pioneer.
The Elements Series features whiskies that begin life as the classic Milk and Honey single malt. The spirit is then combined with whisky matured in interesting casks. This particular edition was matured in a combination of Pedro Ximenez, Oloroso, ex-bourbon and STR casks.
Smell: Wonderfully aromatic. Chocolatey and oaky. Like sticking your nose in a freshly opened box of Quality Street. Dark chocolate orange creams. Chewy caramels. Maybe even some Turkish Delight. Fragrant spices. Mild chilli powder. Cayenne pepper. Rum and raisin ice cream. Marzipan. Vanilla fudge.
Taste: Caramel and honey. High cocoa content dark chocolate. Orange liqueur. Gingery spice. Turns woody at the back of the palate. Touch of oak char. Vanilla. The sherry is held back at the beginning but soon sweet raisins are coming through with some cherry top notes.
Thoughts: The idea of a sherry finish in a warm country may have you imagining some kind of sherry bomb but that’s not quite what’s going on here. It’s very well blended with a really impressive balance found. All the elements work in harmony together which is quite an achievement in such challenging maturation conditions. The sherry does become more prominent over time in the glass but the whisky never becomes one dimensional.
A rich whisky full of exotic character and aromatic spice.
Value for money: At its recommended retail price of £50 I’d be quite happy to give it a thumbs up. It’s easily good enough to carry that price.
If the whisky featured in this article has caught your attention, you can buy it from Master of Malt
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For more on Milk & Honey visit https://mh-distillery.com/