-- The Exceptional Grain --
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Don Sutcliffe, who's the founder of The Exceptional Grain, and he let me sample his product. I was blown away by the complex nature of this liquid because there are very few grain whiskies and/or blended whiskies that have caught my attention, with the exception of Compass Box, Famous Grouse, Isle of Skye and Midleton Very Rare. It is not that I see this category as something too mainstream (Don’t worry! Despite being dressed in ill-fitting pants, suspenders and a bow tie at work in the bar…it is our dress code, you see..I am not a hipster!), but I have sampled plenty of whiskies that appear to have a damp, wet-cardboard feel that flails into a sort of 1-note attitude, making me indifferent to its earthly pleasures. In addition, I find single malt drinkers tend to look at blends and grained whiskies with acute disdain because, from a purist’s perspective, it is like taking Rachmaninoff’s “Prelude in c # minor” and obliterating the seemingly excess “fortissimo” with neoclassicism art—-where melody is no longer relevant but, instead, emotional restraint is celebrated and a call to order is formulated…this is pastiche in its finest, taking Johann Sebastian Bach’s work and modernizing 4-part harmony into the era of both World Wars I and II. Grain spirits are not bad per se, but rather are great additions to the whisky world that caters to most palates. Let us not forget, without blends single malts would not exist (or at least that is what I’ve been told), but when I taste, I am always looking for texture, flavor and finish. Regardless if it is delicate or not, as long as it carries a symphonic movement that shows range and progression I will be all for it. And in this case, The Exceptional Grain falls under this camp, but, to drop a cherry on top, it is extremely delicious.
Pardon my analogy here…I am not trying to be obscure nor unique but I’ve an obsession with 20th century literature. This is the first thought that came to my mind when I sampled The Exceptional Grain: This scotch very much so reminds me of Thomas Pynchon’s short story “Entropy” because of its quirky characteristics and extremely dense flavor. While campy humour is often linked with “low brow” culture, which seems analogous to blends and grain whiskeys in the eyes of their older brother, the single malt, Pynchon appears to blur such jocularity in a masterful way; the main character Meatball finds himself on the third floor inside an apartment, where a party is going on its 40th hour. Bodies move about through the room, which may suggest debauchery is present here, but while all the chaos is occurring a dying bird in a different room needs body heat to revive itself. The stark contrast between two scenes appear to display a cyclical juxtaposition of life and death; thus, suggesting that they are interdependent. “It’s 37 degrees” someone proclaims while describing the outside temperature to winter’s bloom, but Pynchon does not specifically state Celsius to differentiate itself from Fahrenheit. If one is making the conversion of 37 degrees Celsius to its counterpart, one will know that this number matches our natural state of body temperature in which we reach equilibrium at 98.6 F. I imagine that Pynchon specifically blurs 37 degrees of Fahrenheit and Celsius, vice versa, to suggest that, while chaos ensues, it is one’s natural desire to want to reach equilibrium during a state of influx, chaos and unpredictability. As the title itself suggests, in its most simplest form, entropy measures chaos, but also hi lights lack of order that may lead to chaos. And, as a result of this uncontrollable state, it is a theme that appears to suggest chaos is meant to be celebrated and is not be confined. In this case this blended grain has managed to make a seemingly “lowbrow” category of a dram and heightened its breath in an articulate, graceful manner. This is the reason why I love whisky because I come across certain things that surprise and blow my mind, and this scotch surely does!
On the nose, faints of green apples appear and softly caresses the nostrils, while on the palate, honey rides on the tongue in the beginning and finish line as sherry and spice linger mid-palate. The ending is incredibly long and moves in a de capo al fine movement, where once one thinks the ending to a song is about to halt it continues to repeat another measure or more before it hits the final double-bar ending. Kettle corn kicks in, which eventually leads to citrus and crushed blueberries. Then, the sweetness evaporates and I am left with almond skins in my mouth. During the second movement, the mouthfeel and flavor leach liquid and sugar from the inner pockets of my cheeks, but on the third try I am greeted with floral tones--rose petals to be exact--that linger to fondant, cream and vanilla. This is sourced from 8-year-old Loch Lomand Distillery, 13-Year North British Distillery and 30-year-old Carsebridge Distillery.
I hope that you will take a chance on this magnificent scotch. It is incredibly delightful and fun because it keeps on evolving during the sipping experience. And what a delight it is to meet one of the founders...to find him kind-hearted and still passionate about spirits after being in the industry for over 35 years is a gift.
Founder Don Sutcliffe of The Exceptional Grain with Tomas Estes, founder of Tequila Ocho
-- Exclusive Malts: --
A Review of 1998 Ben Nevis Port Cask 15 Year and
2004 Speyside Port Cask 10 Year
Ben Nevis 15 Year Port Cask 1998 Vintage
-Ben Nevis was established in 1825 by "Long John" McDonald. (Not sure what the nickname stems from but it makes me chuckle.
-Location of Ben Nevis: Lochy Bridge in Fort Williams on the coastal Western Highlands
-Style: Single Malt Scotch
-Cask No. 1589
-271 bottles in existence
Nose (neat): Raisins, cranberries and undertone of orange zests
Flavour (neat): Hints of dusty oak, though it is mainly dominated by heavy dark cherries and walnuts. Leather lingers, but eventually leads to orange marmalade cream. Secondary peppery notes emerge during the second sip, though it doesn't make the tongue tingle. Instead, I am greeted with orange zests during the third time around. Although it is 102.2 Proof, it most certainly doesn't have that kick and punch, and I find this surprisingly on the gentle side. If I were to do a blind tasting, I would've guessed that the mouthfeel and alcohol strength is more on the 86 Proof side, though perhaps my tongue is feeling extra rough and tough today, and I can miraculously take the heat! Earthy tones of damp, maple leaves and agave tones are present here as well.
Finish: The viscosity of this scotch is full at first but it thins out on the finish and is quite short. Leather, varnish, and walnuts are present.
Nose (with 2 drops of water): Orange peels, black pepper in the back ground with dominate tones of honey.
Flavour (with 2 drops of water): I actually prefer it with a few drops of water because it becomes less vegetal. I am invited with a warm greeting of honey here, in addition to lovely notes of black coffee and crushed cranberries. No notes of damp leaves and tobacco here with a few drops of water as they seem to become muted here. Spice peaks out towards the end, leaving the mouth with a metallic finish. It's sort of like licking a metal spoon after you eat your ice cream.
Finish (with 2 drops of water): The finish is long here and rides with honey, then citrus and then it leads to a Chinese sour plum candy. It's almost savory.
Overall: I enjoyed this and thought it was priced appropriately. Although Glenmorangie Taghta is finished in Manzinilla Casks, in some ways it reminded me of this Ben Nevis Port Cask, minus the heavy dose of spice because of its fruit undertones. In terms of leathery and earthy notes, it reminds of me Arran Devil's Punch Bowl (this year's edition and also minus the smoke from Punch Bowl). I guess what I'm trying to say is, if Glenmorangie Taghta mated with Arran Devils Punch Bowl, this would be their love child, minus the smoke and aggressive peppery notes. Hope that makes sense!.
Speyside Port Cask 10 Year 2004 Vintage
-Cask No. 40
-296 bottles in existence
-"Teaspoon Scotch": This means when Exclusive Malts purchased the barrel, the originally distillery didn't want their name slapped on the label, so a small dose of something else was purposefully thrown into the barrel. As a result, by law, you can no longer label it by the specific distillery because it is no longer classified as a single malt. I cannot legally disclose where its origin is in print. Sorry!
Nose (neat): Hot on the nose. Alcohol burn is definitely present here, but there's aromas of maple syrup and incense laced with orange cream.
Flavour (neat): Mm...I enjoy the creamy note right off the bat, but black coffee is also present here, the kind of coffee that has a little bit of citrus tones. As it nestles in the glass for 5 minutes, it becomes sweeter, in which it almost has remnants of Luxardo Maraschino Cherries. Notes of tobacco and oak are balanced out by prunes, plums and caramel. This is a very fun, interesting scotch!
Nose (w/2 drops of water): No alcohol burn here. Plums and figs become the dominate force.
Flavour (w/2 drops of water): Baked yams and brown sugar dominate the playing field here, though I get undertones of leather here. As it sits in the glass for another 15 minutes or so, it begins to change. All of a sudden it gets drier, where spice and plums are present all while being laced with a bit of minerality.
Overall: I really enjoyed this one and thought it was fun. Although it is classified as a Speyside, it reminds me of some Highland-style scotches (Glendronach, Glenfarclas, Glenmorangie) that have been aged in sherry casks because it is thick on the mouthfeel, in the oils and dark fruits latch onto my palate.
-- The Exclusive Malts --
Tomatin 10 Year 2004 Vintage
-Cask No. 2645
-Aged in sherry cask
-312 bottles in existence
-Style of whisky: Single Malt Scotch
-Tomatin Distillery is located in Inverness, Scotland. It was officially established in 1897 as Tomatin Spey Distillery Distillery Co Ltd, and was eventually acquired by a Japanese company called Takara Shuzo and renamed by them as Tomatin Distillery Co Ltd.
Nose (neat): Hot on the nose with vegetal notes pulling through as it whisks away into lemon rinds. There's a faint undertone of "nuoc mam," which is Vietnamese fish sauce here. Don't be alarmed! My people's food is good! :D
Flavour (neat): Creamy on the front end here, in which notes of almond paste found in croissant emerges. In addition, I get hints of coffee here. During the second sip I get a bit of citrus tones, while faint flavors of mint and lemongrass here. Citrus essences lead to mocha, but quickly changes to an astringent tone towards the end.
Finish (neat): Long finish here that rides for awhile, though it tapers away in terms of viscosity. Cheerios Cereal is present. While the finish is a tad bit dry and bitter here, there's a lingering tone of unripe cherries and oak here.
Nose(w/2 drops of water): Butterscotch, honey dew and hints of lemon
Flavour(w/2 drops of water): Wow! It gets dry and peppery here. I have to say, it's a tad bit vomitty and lingers to sweaty feet. Hmm... I don't know if I like this with a few drops of water. Actually, it's much more forgiving when I let it sit for an additional 5 minutes. It has an aftertaste of chocolate cherry bon bons and I appreciate it much more now! Phew! For a hot second I thought it tasted of bad life decisions, but that's the fun thing about whisky; if you give it time it opens up to you slowly sometimes! It has a peppery note, but it lingers with walnuts and bread, eventually leading to grapefruit and honey.
Finish (w/2 drops of water): It has an aftertaste of lemon grass and butter leading to nutmeg and walnut. Fun, long finish!
Overall: This is a fun, quirky scotch. I must say if I had to choose my style of choice to drink this, I would have it without water, even though it was somewhat comical to consume with a few drops of water during the initial sip. I think if you scotches on the more dry side, something that isn't sweet, this would be your cup of tea.
-- Exclusive Malts --
Tobermory 17 Year 1997 Vintage
Flavour (neat): Incredibly complex as it moves in a very "vivace" pace. During the first 3 sips it's quite bone dry and astringent. It reminds me of a Laddie 10 on steroids...like it decided to pump itself with more heat, oil, smoke and bitterness or when Bruce Banner turns into the Hulk and it wants to punch you in the mouth with smoke and grapefruit rinds. As is it sits in the glass for 5 minutes, it mellows out and some sweetness pulls through. Rich, creamy tones of orange marmalade with hints of salted caramel become present. There's both an even balance of brine and char here that eventually leads to cherry pits.
Finish (neat): The ending is ever changing and rides on for over 5 minutes. Initially it starts off bitter like grapefruit, but once my saliva starts to slather my tongue, honey emerges and then it leads to Honey Nut Cheerios. all while the lingering of smoke changes to burning coal.
Nose (w/dribbles of water): Smoke, brioche, marshmallows and milk chocolate.
Flavour (w/dribbles of water): Superb! I actually prefer it with water right off the bat! Lots of chocolate notes coming through here, and it almost reminds me of Milka Candy Bar. Yummy!! During the 2nd sip, oranges, smoke and walnuts take over, leading to dark chocolate tones.
Finish (w/dribbles of water): Quite interesting. Smoke is initially present, but it shifts to milk chocolate and slowly tapers off to almonds and cashews with surprising condense milk after taste that emerges 10 minutes later out of the blue.
Overall: I thoroughly enjoyed this one and thought it was FANTASTIC! Big fan. In terms of smoke intensity I am reminded of Laphroaig 10 Year. I would say that, overall, theres an element of surprise and density here. I had to take quite a few hits before I really understood what it was offering me, since the flavors shift from one profile to the next quite quickly. The classical tune, "Rondo a la Terca," comes to mind when I drink this. There's a quick, roundabout cadence to it that is jammed packed with all sorts of flavors here. I think if you like Glenfarclas 105 and Kilchoman Machir this may be your scotch. . I know these two are different, but Glenfarclas 105 has the punch and proof that matches Ledaig 17 Year, but it also carries beautiful chocolate tones, while Kilchoman Machir Bay 2013 offers the similar smoke profile here, indication to notes of vanilla and citrus tones. I hope you'll get this guy! This particular Ledaig is definitely different from the standard Ledaig 10 Year, for I find the 10 Year to be on the grassy, earthy side that has an assertive smokey profile.
-Cask no. 38
-301 bottles in existence.
-Single Malt Scotch
-Distilled on 24 March 1997
-Bottled August 2014
-Ledaig is pronounced "le-chayg"
-It's produced at the Tobermory Distillery, in which 6 months of the year they produce a smoky style scotch that runs at 40-44 PPM (phenol parts per million)..
-Located: Isle of Mull, Scotland
-Tobermory was founded in 1798
Nose (neat): Croissant au jambon fromage...WOAH! I just sounded totally pretentious, eh? Just brushing up on my frenchy french because I used to work at a French pastry. At any rate, it smells like a ham and cheese croissant. It's a bit meaty---like bacon (people from Americuh love bacon!) on the nose and savory at the same time.
-- Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist --
-Airigh Nam Beist means "Shelter of the Beast" in Gaelic
-Matured in ex-bourbon casks
-Age: 16 years
-92 Proof/ 46% ABV
-Single Malt Scotch
-Location: Islay, Scotland
Nose (neat): Honey, toasted milk bread, glue, chalk and ashy smoke. Faint aromas of blue cheese hit the nasal cavity.
Flavour (neat): I'm surprised that this is only 92 proof for I find this to be more robust than both the Ardbeg Corryvreckan (bottled at 57.1% ABV) and Ardbeg Uigeadail (bottled at 54.2% ABV). Peppery and spicy notes are quite assertive here, making its little brothers Corrvyvreckan and Uigeadail look like gentle sun bears. Although matured in ex-bourbon casks, it is incredibly dry, which makes me think that there are much older stocks of Ardbegs in here. Usually when I sample smoky scotches aged in ex-bourbon casks I find them to have a creamy, vanilla profile. However, I've tried the Ardbeg 10 Year, for example, that was bottled in 2007, and I've heard it has a heavy dose of 17 year old stocks.. Both the Ardbeg 10 Year bottled in 2007 and this Airigh Nam Beist have a robust dryness here, in the sense that they're ashy and peppery with no creamy vanilla profiles that I find in the current bottlings of Ardbeg 10 Year. As the glass settles for 10 minutes, it slowly changes and I am greeted with char, secondary spice and a dominant flavor of kettle corn and oak. Salt and smoke pull toward the end and linger while they lace themselves with orange peal.
Finish (neat): Finish rides for roughly two minutes and hangs on with smoke and kettle corn, while spice clings onto the hard palate. As it sits on the tongue for another 5 minutes, it tastes of kim chee with faint notes of mothballs. Then, it has a char kind of smoke. This has an incredibly long finish. Damn! I love Ardbeg!
Nose (w/3 drops of water): Alcohol burn, paint thinner (though not to the point where it's offensive an off-putting), lemon, salted/dried Chinese plum candy.
Flavour (w/3 drops of water): The heat dies down, but it gets meatier, like I just ate some salted pork chops and then took a slurp of some dry, red wine that has lots of tannins. Char becomes more apparent with a few drops of water. Alka Seltzer is present when it sits in the glass for another duration of 5 minutes.
Finish: Short finish here. I get a balance of both cherry-flavored cough medicine and smoke. Then it leads orange as the smoke disappears.
Overall: I liked this one, though I find this guy to be different from the current, standard Ardbeg expressions (Ardbeg 10, Corrvreckan, and Uigeadail) in the sense that all of these bottles has a "sweet" profile. The Ardbeg 10, for example, picks up some vanilla cream tones, while Uigeadail has some dark chocolate notes. This particular expression is dry (not sweet) and is quite peppery and oak forward. I am reminded of drinking an older stock of Ardbeg that was bottled in 2007 and Ardbeg Auriverdes. In terms of dryness and smoke intensity, I am reminded of Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014 Vintage, the one that is currently aged for 8 years in brand new American oak and finished for 2 years in Amontillado casks. Also, I find that scotches that are typically on the heavily peated and smokey style scotches run roughly in the 40 PPM (phenol parts per million) and on. So, the scotches that are super smokey, I clump them in the Bruichladdich's Octomore, Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Lagavulin Category. So, if you like super smokey, this is your cup of tea!
Airigh Nam Beist: Badass and Delicious
-- The Glenrothes 1992 Vintage --
-Distilled in 25 May 1992
-Bottled in 25 March 2014
-Region: Speyside, Scotland
-Style: Single Malt Scotch
Nose (neat): Burnt tires, banana bread and baked yams with hints of marshmallows.
Flavour (neat): There's a strong presence of burnt sugar found at the bottom of a flan. Hints of brown sugar emerge, while that sugar content is balanced out by oak and nuts. It's incredibly creamy and smooth; no remnants of alcohol burn here, and it's quite straight-foward, in which flavors don't shift from one profile to the another. During the third sip it gets a hair drier, and notes of grapefruit emerges, but it goes right back to flan towards the end.
Finish (neat): Pistachio finish, vanilla and honey.
Nose (w/2 drops of water): Wet cardboard, damp leaves, brown sugar with undertones of raspberry.
Flavour (w/2 drops of water): Raspberry and red apples with hints of white cracked pepper. Red fruits and sunflower seeds dominate the palate that leads to a flan ending
Finish: (w/2 drops of water): Short sunflower seed finish with an after taste of Coca Cola.
Overall: I prefer having it neat than having it with water. I really like this Glenrothes a lot and am a big fan of it because of the profile it offers. This is different from the 1988 Glenrothes, as that particular one has dark chocolate and prune tones like Yamazaki 25. I think if you've came across a Glenfarclas 25, which to me, offers an after taste of a dark chocolate truffle laced with walnuts and its texture is as creamy and smooth as silk and cashmere, you may like this Glenrothes. I'm a big fan of this one!
-Sourced from 8 Sherry Butts, 8 French Oak Barriques and 5 ex-bourbon barrels
-Region: Isle of Arran
-Style: Single Malt Scotch
-Arran Distillery was established in 1994
-Arran sources their barely from the Speyside Region
Nose (neat): Maraschinno cherries, vanilla and hints of rose petals and seaweed
Flavour (neat): Peppery agave plant profile that leads to spice and then dark chocolates and dark cherries, and then it goes back to peppery agave tones. It hits the tip of the tongue with spice and recedes, but jumps up in spice again. There's a jagged air about it that reminds me of South Park's Mountains. My friend made a very poignant observation, in which she stated that it has a "jagged" profile, peaking up in spice, subsiding and peaking up spice again at the tip of the tongue.
Finish (neat): Short simple syrup finish and french toast
Nose w/2 drops of water: Orange citrus peal, apple orchards, and raisins.
Flavour with a few drops of water: Juicey sweet plums and figs with hints of spice and blood oranges. I prefer it with water. I think it opens up . There's an over tone of char here, but to me it's quite subtle and faint...faint as a Highland Park 18 Year. Leads to chocolate laced with cherries.
Finish: Walnuts and toasted almonds.
Overall: I really enjoyed this one. I must say, when it was first cracked opened a few weeks ago, I thought it picked up a little bit of char and dark cherry tones that reminded me of Bunnahabhain Toiteach, though not as smokey (the smoke intensity was as faint as a Highland Park 18), though I picked up some "smoke" when a few drops of water entered the glass today. It's strange to detect some smoke because, from my understanding, Arran usually doesn't smoke their barley with the exception of the Arran Machrie Moor. I guess it's time for me to just plan a trip to Isle of Arran and check out their distillery! Woohoo! I think this particular one is similar to Exclusive Malts Ben Nevis Port Cask 15 Year 1998 Vintage and the Glenfarclas 105, though Glenfarclas offers more chocolate tones than this Devils Punch Bowl.
-- Arran Devil's Punch Bowl Chapter 3 --
-- Bowmore Devil's Cask --
-Bowmore is the oldest distillery on Islay, being established since 1779
-Region: Islay, Scotland
-Style: Single Malt Scotch
-Batch 1 release
-Aged in first-fill sherry cask
Nose (neat): Banana, coconut, char and smoke
Flavour (neat): Full on jammy tones and bing cherries with a back end of cherry chap stick. Hints of salt lingers, but it has a full-on smoke bomb, the char kind of smoke where coals are wafting in the air during a summer bonfire night. The smoke intensity reminds me of sipping first-fill Springbank cask strengths, but in terms of flavor profile I think it's similar to the Bunnahabhain Toiteach with just a little more punch. I find some Springbank first-fill sherry casks, which I love by the way, have a little bit of sulphur, but this particular Bowmore doesn't capture any of that profile. It's juice, lush and jammy.
Finish (neat): The smoke definitely rides out to the end and leads to vanilla and chipotle spice.
Nose (w/3 drops of water): Alcohol burn becomes the dominate aroma and I have to fight to search for other aromas underneath. Dark chocolate and beef jerky pull through.
Flavours (w/3 drops of water): Although there's alcohol burn on the nose, the flavor profile here is incredibly rich and smooth. It gets drier and spicier with water (it's not as sweet when having it neat). The smoke goes from char to dark chocolate tones. As it sits in the glass for another duration of 15 minutes passion fruit and strawberries start to emerge, while cherry pits and coal remain dominate.
Finish (w/3 drops of water): Dark chocolate finish. The ending is short and it doesn't change. It's quite straightforward.
Overall: I'm a big fan of Bowmore and I'm not sure why this brand doesn't get a lot of love from people. My friend tells me that on Reddit, people rip apart Bowmore, which bums me out. I know at the end of the day it's all a matter of personal preference, but there's a side of me that feels a little bit disheartened by such statements and wonder if this is just a product of salience--that if a lot of people say it's "not good" then other people will jump on that train of thought and say it sucks. It's like the reverse Pappy Van Winkle effect. Everyone's clamoring for that bourbon, but did you know maybe 5 years ago it was sitting on the shelf and collecting dust? All of a sudden, because of the bourbon boom, everyone wants Pappy. Well, dammit! I'm here to say that I stand 100% behind Bowmore. Here's why. I think that it's a versatile scotch from Islay. In my humble opinion I pick up some brininess from some Ardbegs, Lagavulins, Laphroaigs and Kilchomans, but Bowmore has different expressions of smoke that range from char to coal smoke to some briny tones. Bowmore is versatile in the sense that you can pair it with oysters and/or pour the scotch into the oyster shell and drink it with the oyster juice, and it is like eating a smoked, meaty oyster. I don't even like oysters, but pairing with Bowmore makes the whole experience magical. At the same time, if you pair Bowmore with dark coffee or chocolate candy, especially the Bowmores that are aged in sherry casks, the char and chocolate/coffee play off of each other well, pulling out cherry pit tones from sherry casks and deep chocolate tones that make the tongue salivate; ever flavor profile becomes intensified; it's like peering through a magnifying glass. . I imagine that if I were to eat oysters with a Laphroaig 10 Year Cask Strength, I would be bombarded with salt as I pick up just a little bit of maritime factor here. At any rate, I hope you will take the time to drink Bowmore because I think they are underrated. If you like Bunnhabhain Toiteach or any cask strength first-fill Springbanks then I think you will enjoy this. In some ways it's similar to Bowmore 15 Year in the sense that I pick up some char and cherry pit tones, though I would say that this Devil's Cask has an advantage because it's more full-bodied, more creamy and just a hair sweeter. In addition, the smoke on Devil's Cask is more assertive than the Bowmore 15 Year. Again, the level of smoke intensity here reminds me more of cask strength Springbanks. Hope this helps and happy drinking!
-- Highland Park Dark Origins --
-Regions: Kirkwall, Orkney Islands/Scotland
-Established on paper since 1798
-New release of NAS (No Age Statement) core line from Highland Park
-Style: Single Malt Scotch
-Double first fill sherry cask
-I hear it's roughly 8-9 years of age
Nose (neat): Raisins, faint aromas of sulphur (though not offensive), hints of smoke and glue sap
Flavour (neat): Dark chocolate hits the hard palate, while an undertone of char lingers. There's a little bit spice here, but it's mainly dominated with creamy vanilla and dark cherry pit tones here. During the third sip, char emerges on the tail end, while in the beginning I get hints of peppercorn spice with figs and kettle corn on the back end. It tastes like biting into a 95% dark chocolate bar during the 4th sip.
Finish (neat): I thoroughly enjoy the finish because it rides on for over 5 minutes. Char is present here, but I get a lush tone of cherry bon bon candy--the creamy part of it. It then shifts to blood orange and hints of candied plums.
Nose (w/2 drops of water): Tar and burnt tires are the dominate profile, while there's a faint, undertone of brown sugar that this the base of the nostrils.
Flavour (w/2 drops of water): Peppercorn spice becomes much more apparent as it gets drier than having it neat. It seems quite similar to the Highland Park 18 Year with a few drops of water here. As it settles into the glass 15 minutes later, it starts to subside and simmer down. It softens out and brioche becomes the dominate profile while black cherries take the back end with dark chocolate.
Finish (w/2 drops of water): Vanilla cream and dark chocolate bon bons ride on the finish that lead to orange marmalade.
Overall: I think out of the whole basic Highland Park line (HP 12, 15, 18), despite it being younger than these guys, it is most similar to Highland Park 18 in the sense that I pick up these lush, red fruit tones, char and subtle notes of peppercorn spices here. However, Highland Park 18 has a beautiful finish; I thoroughly enjoy the dichotomy of being confronted with peppercorn spices as the spices are much more assertive than Dark Origins on the initial hit while it finishes off with honey tones to combat the heat. Highland Park Origins doesn't have any honey notes here, but it does have a dark chocolate profile that is intriguing and delicious. I think this is like a cross between Glenfarclas 105 and Highland Park 18 Year. The smoke intensity is faint just like the typical HP expressions, and I assume it also runs at 6 PPM (phenol parts per million). I've been sharing this bottle with people and everyone enjoys it. In fact, I think they're surprised that they like it because it's a NAS. A lot of scotches are going towards the NAS route, getting rid of age statements, because they can't keep up with the demand. We consumers are thirsty bears! However, the benefit of sipping NAS expressions is that these companies have bumped up the proof. I tell my customers that higher proof doesn't necessarily mean it is associated with a harsh bite and bad life decisions, but sipping 80 proof whiskies is like eating Lean Cuisine; they're light and delicate and all of sudden when you throw in butter and spice your mouth becomes impregnated with all sorts of flavors, which is analogues to higher proof whiskies. To me, it's fabulous. Again, regardless of any category, whether you're exploring a super young or super old whisky, there's always going to be an exceptional or bad seed in the bunch. There are always outliers in every realm. I hope you will take a chance and buy this one! It's sooooo good!
-- Willet XCF --
-Willet Rye is sourced from MPG, formally known as LDI
-7 Year Rye
Nose (neat): In N Out Hamburgers with an undertone of orange peels macerated with demerara sugar, but dayaaamn that aroma of In N Out burger is just oozing through this glass.
Flavour (neat): This tastes like a Rittenhouse 100 on steroids. Both of them have this cherry-cola profile and then they peak up in spice. I would say that the difference between the Rittenhouse 100, granted I know it is made at Evan Williams Distillery and Willet Rye is sourced from MPG, is that this Willet XCF has a rounded cyclical feel to it; after it peaks up in spice, it falls back to that cherry cola profile while the Rittenhouse 100 oozes grassy-hay-like tones on the finish.
Walnuts emerge during the 4th sip and it is bone dry, though hints of mung beans emerge.
Finish (neat): It becomes incredibly bitter on the finish. I am not particularly a fan of the ending. It tastes like a bad break up and you're left nothing but with a bittersweet ending, where some orange zest start to emerge 2 minutes later to try to make the situation a bit more auspicious, but it's still all so sad! Pooey.! Black coffee, black currants and walnuts linger as it is just a tad bit meaty at the same time. Nothing like burgers for you to eat out your feelings to when you're bummed out...not that...I...uh....do that.
Overall: I like this, though it is quite expensive. It retails for roughly $150-$300. So, if you've got baller money and can rock it out like the lead singer of Train, go for it. I find that bourbons and ryes are getting exponentially expensive, and the Willets are flying through the roof. If you can't afford this, I would go for the Rittenhouse 100. That, hands down, is one of my favorite ryes, regardless of price point, and it's only $24. That is to say, I am not here to deter you to buy a bottle of this. I do enjoy it and think this is fun and quirky. I find that the Willet 4 Year Rye picks up more of a brown sugar, spicy tone while this one has cherry cola. Despite not being a big fan of the ending because it's a bit too bitter for me, I do appreciate it from an intellectual standpoint, since it is complex.
-- Kilchoman 2007 Vintage --
-Established since 2005 by Englishman Anthony Wills
-Anthony had his own independent single cask bottling company for 8 years, where he thought about creating a farm distillery
-They grow their own barley
-Region: Islay, Scotland
-Style: Single Malt Scotch
-It took 4 million pounds to open the distillery with 40 investors under the belt.
-He no intention of releasing large batches on a large scale (though maybe they he has changed his mind since I last saw him a few years back! Who knows!).
-Anthony Wills believes that if one uses high quality casks one can release them at a younger age.
-Kilchoman ages their spirit through the "wet barrel" process. That means they source their barrels from other distilleries like Buffalo Trace and ship the barrels whole overseas. This is an expensive process as most companies will typically source barrels from other distilleries, break the barrel apart and ship the staves because it is much more cost effective than shipping whole barrels. Typically once these staves arrive at the cooperage, a cooper will eye-ball the stack of wood and just piece them together to make a barrel. One may get pure randomness; one 4 Roses stave attached to a Jack Daniels stave, etc. The benefit, here, in aging them in "wet barrel" casks is that you may get a cohesive line-up and the barrels offer rich characteristics to the new make spirit; thus, they can be bottled at a younger age. I am reminded of one of my favorite whisky writers, Dominic Roscrow, who notes that if one uses a barrel to a age a spirit that has already been used 7 times over, then the liquid does not benefit from the wood, even if it sits in the barrel for 15 years or more. Some people in the industry compare aging whiskies to tea-bags (aye! hold off on the weener jokes). When you use a tea bag the first time and dip it on hot water, your drink is potent. Then when you use it the second time around, your drink isn't as strong and it weakens the more time you use the same bag in your mug. Kilchoman, in my humble opinion, is a perfect example of using great quality casks and being able to release them at a young age.
Nose (neat): Ash, burnt paper wafting in the air by the sea with undertones of rose petals. Fresh croissants emerging from the oven. When I pull the glass away it smells of gym socks!
Flavour (neat): It is initially dry at first but sweetens out towards the finish. I am greeted with flavors of almond skins, white cracked pepper and smoke. Towards the end, a subtle tone of chipotle spice and green bell peppers linger, then leading to char, honey and grapefruit. During the third sip, it picks up nutty profiles with an undertone of seaweed wrap. And, yes, the smoke is still there. Smoke intensity here reminds me of Caol Ila 12 Year and Talisker 10 Year.
Finish (neat): Long finish that rides for over 5 minutes, though it is quite faint. It quietly shifts from char, to grapefruit zest, almond skins, salty smoke and then it sweetens up with simple syrup and goes to mesquite wood.
Nose (w/2 drops of water): Feet, cheese and prosciutto. Undertone of char and cranberries.
Flavour (w/2 drops of water): It is sweeter with water and it tastes like croissants...well specifically when I accidentally burn some parts of my croissant in a toaster oven. It's more like a combination of burnt croissants and unburnt croissants....it's not quite bitter or smokey like the parts of burnt bread but there's some sweetness here, too. Salt emerges towards the end, but it goes straight back to burnt bread. It seems more straight forward and not as complex when having it neat, but I appreciate both profiles for different reasons.
Finish (w/2 drops of water): Cherry chapstick and mesquite wood. Metallic tones linger towards the tail end of the finish and rides off into coal and fish.
Overall: I like this a lot. When I first cracked it open a few months ago, it tasted of chocolate and smoke, but as it has oxidized quite a bit, it has become more briny and smoky. To give you a reference point of smoke intensity, I am reminded of sipping a Talisker 10 Year or Caol Ila 12 year. I think if you like these brands, then this may be your cup of tea. Also, if you've enjoyed the Kilchoman Machir Bay 2013, the smoke intensity here is the same. I think the difference between this 2007 vintage and Machir Bay is that the Machir Bay offers creamy, vanilla profiles in addition to smoke. This is wonderful and delicious, though my whisky friends appear to enjoy the Machir Bay more, which is fine because that is a regular expression as opposed to this allocated 2007 expression.
I went to a Kilchoman tasting last year and tried 17 different expressions of Kilchoman. I didn't realize they had such a variety, but they do some single barrel expressions for liquor stores, etc. Their new make is the best I've ever come across and I hope one day they will actually sell it to the market. It is creamy and smokey with sweetness that reminds me of almond paste from almond croissants. At any rate, in the past I personally preferred the Kilchomans that were aged in ex-bourbon casks over sherry casks because it seemed like the peppery notes of sherry casks were fighting with the smoke and brine. The first sherry cask Kilchoman I actually really liked was their Loch Gorm; I felt it was cohesive and well-balanced. Leathery notes and tobacco held together perfectly with smoke. In addition, for the past 3 months, Kilchoman has released exceptional bottlings of cask strength scotches that include the port cask, sherry cask and pedro ximinez. All three expressions are highly allocated, and I was lucky enough to try them, thanks to my customers. This was the turning point for me when I sampled their latests releases. I am proud to be a supporter of Kilchoman!
One of My Earlier Journals from a Few Years Back.
-- Bar Jackalope Training --
9 December 2014
During Training We Vote What We Think Works Best for the Bar
Single Cask Nation Lawrencburg Distillers Indiana
Quick Facts: Aged in used cooperage barrels; single barrel; sourced from LDI;
Nose: brown sugar and hay
Flavour (neat): Salted caramel, spice and dark chocolate. Croissant and mung bean finish. Despite it being bottled at cask strength, this is not hot. The viscosity here is thick and oily. There's an overtone of oatmeal cookies and brown sugar.
Finish (neat): Chocolate and toffee bark candy on the finish. Condense milk emerges during the 4th sip of the finish.
Overall: Man!!! I love this. I'm so glad they put LDI on this bottle instead of other brands slapping different labels on it. This is, by far, my favorite LDI and it definitely puts the other rye babies in the corner! I haven't had a SCN I didn't like. I felt like when I sampled this I got pregnant ten times over. Jebus Christo! It's so good!
Colonel E.H. Taylor Barrel Proof
Quick Facts: Sourced from the 1st warehouse torn apart by the tornado; made at Buffalo Trace Distillery; 64% ABV
Nose: Feet, glue sap, apple orchard and brown sugar
Flavour: Not as sweet as SCN Lawrenceburg Distillers Indiana, though there are notes of caramel and green apple. It tastes like that caramel-apple candy. An aftertaste of butterscotch and water taffy emerges. It has a little bit of chalky tones that remind me of Jeffersons Reserve and Weller 12 Year, though the minerality content is blanced out by busted macadamia nuts.
Finish: Lingers with papaya. There's a bit of spice and kick here.
Overall: I enjoyed this barrel proof, and thought it was delicious. I know this is elusive and difficult to get, but the standard 100 proof, which is substantially cheaper in price, will suffice.
Usually once a week, there's training at Bar Jackalope, in which the staff sample whiskeys and discuss about the product in detail. We have regulars in the bar and some of them have taken the time to sample everything on the shelf, so it's great that we bring new things in to freshen up the menu. I like it that way because it keeps me on my toes as I tend to get bored easily and need variety. I am clumping all of my Bar Jackalope tasting notes under one page because they will be brief and short. We only have about an hour to go through the lot, so there's plenty of discussions and information to seek; thus tasting notes are brief.
Parker's Heritage Wheat Whiskey
Quick Facts: 13 Year; first batch of Bernheim ever made at Heaven Hill; 66% ABV
Nose: Coconut, glue and hints of dark chocolate.
Flavour: It's absolutely lovely and warm. Hints of dark cherries, toasted almonds are present, while there's a balance of chalky oak and burnt sugar water, the type that is found at the base of a flan. This is not spicy like Colonel E.H. Taylor Barrel Proof. There's an overtone of cherry cola and chalkiness here that rides at the hard palate.
Finish: Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies
Overall: This reminds me of Orphan Barrel Rhetoric because of almond tones and some parts of the sipping experience there is some dryness here. It also reminds me of Rittenhouse 100 because of the cherry cola note.
Angel's Envy Cask Strength 2014
Quick Facts: 60% ABV; sourced from Old Forestor Juice; finished in port barrels.
Nose: Cherry chap stick, cream and butter
Flavour: Subtle profile of dark cherry skins, but is balanced by dark chocolate. There's some notes of spice on the back end that leads to prunes and raisins. My co-worker made really interesting analogy here. He says it tastes like dirt, the kind of profile where you slide into third base on the baseball field and the dust billows up in the air and into your mouth.
Finish: Dry and dirty on the ending!
Single Cask Nation Arran 13 Year
-55.9% ABV; ged in refilled olorosso hogshead casks.
Nose: Blueberry pie and blueberry muffins.
Flavour: Dark chocolate, cooked red bell peppers and raw tobacco. With water it sweetens up and my mouth is impregnated by prunes. Some subtle heat arrises and it gets a little bit spicy, though it shifts to walnuts.
Finish: Cherry pits first, then it leads to blood oranges and tops off with licorice. During the 2nd sip, I get black coffee and very stubble notes of star anise.
Overall: I love Arran! All of their expressions are so unique and across the board that it reminds me of Bruichladdich, though I feel that Arran is really good at capturing different expressions of red fruit that range from dry to peppery to jammy to cherry pits to tobacco.
Woodford Reserve Sonoma-Cutrer
Quick Facts: Aged in California Pinot Noir Casks
Nose: Straight up cashmere. Don't know what cashmere smells like? Go to Banana Republic and pick up the softest sweater and sniff the hell out of it.
Flavour: Damp, wet cardboard and maple leaves that lead to a watered down version of hot tamales candy. It transitions into an odd, glue-funk sap with salt, but it's balanced by red fruits and tobacco.
Finish: Dry tannin finish with prune skins.
Overall: I'll be honest, I'm not really a fan of this guy, but I value it from an intellectual standpoint because its flavor profile is different and dense. In some ways, this one reminds me of exploring some micro-distillery brands, where some companies like Charbay R-5 offer a unique style to their spirit. The only thing that sets me back from loving or fully
enjoying this one is that I can't get past the damp cardboard flavor. There's a heavy dose of this profile in the beginning and it rides out to the end, while tobacco and red fruit tone pull through to assert themselves against the puddle of paper. Based on what I've seen from audiences, this product is split down the middle in terms of whether someone likes it or not.
Single Cask Nation Westland
Quick Facts: American single malt from Seattle; heavily peated and finished in olorosso casks; 120 proof.
Nose: Cherry and tobacco
Flavour: Mesquite wood and kettle corn that shift to cherry wood. Hints of ketchup. It doesn't taste like it's 120 proof, since there's no bite. Instead, it's creamy and smooth. With water, the smoke is more apparent than having it neat. Char and oak are present.
Finish: Remnants of coffee and mocha when having it neat, but with water there's a simple syrup finish.
Oeverall: There's some kettle corn here that reminds me of Glendronach 12 year. while the smoke reminds of Balcones Texas Oak Scrub.
*We decided not to crack open the Elmer T. Lee Commemorative bottle. We are keeping it in our collection cabinet.
-- English Classic Whisky Co. --
Single Malt Whisky
-Established since 1996
-Sourced from St. Georges Distillery in Roudham, Norfalk
Nose (neat): Grassy, hay tones with an undertone of lemon meringue pie. As it sits in the glass for a duration for 15 minutes it picks up the aroma of peaches.
Flavour (neat): Apple skins that come off from Fuji Apples with hints of grains. It is on the dy side initially, but it shifts to nuts and cappuccino that's been doused with brown sugar. During the second sip, it gets grassy and dry again, where I pick up a little bit of nail polish. Texturally, given that it's 92 proof, it does not have an oily mouthfeel. It seems thin and light like a Glenfiddich 12 Year with just a hint of white cracked pepper. To me, this feller is a gentle bear. Scratch that. This is a puppy!
Finish (neat): Short Finish that lingers with the meat of a Fuji apple
Nose (w/2 drops of water): Busted almonds and hints of honey. Honey Chex Mix.
Flavour (w/2 drops of water): The flavor is bolder than having it neat. It tastes like a sweaty lady. It's like hitting the gym and afterwards you forgot to shower and you spray yourself with some lavender perfume. During the second sip the sweatiness is gone and now it is quite pleasant. It picks up lots of almonds, though it captures more of the essence of almonds. Again, this is quite light and if I were to do a blind tasting, I would've assumed this comes from a Speyside scotch.
Finish (w/2 drops of water): Light touches of honey and honey crisp apples
Overall: This is a light, straight-forward dram. It's not full-bodied nor entirely complex. I think if you like some standard expressions of Glenfiddich or Glenlivet, then this may be your cup of tea.
-- Caol Ila Cask Strength 2003 --
Gordon and MacPhail
-Gordon MacPhail is the first independent bottling company, in which they age all of their scotches in a second-fill cask. This means that they use a barrel that's already been used once to age their spirit. I've been told that the companies does this on purpose because they prefer a "lighter" style of scotch, though, yes, this is a cask strength expression I am exploring.
-Distilled: 10 September 2003
-Bottled: 18 November 2003
-Aged in Refill American Hogshead
-Region: Islay, Scotland
-Style: Single Malt Scotch
Nose (neat): Meaty, beaf jerky tones with a hint of plastic and burnt tires. Back end aroma of glue sap.
Flavour (neat): Earthy and peaty. I can definitely taste the malted barley. There's a bread-like quality that brings out some brioche tones during the second sip. The smoke intensity is along the lines of Kilchoman Machir Bay. Char and mesquite wood are present here, but I don't pick up any salinity factor here. There's an emphasis of almonds here with a subtle back end of cherry pits.
Finish (neat): Cherry pits that lead to bark and walnuts and chocolate.
Overall: Despite it being cask strength, it's smoke intensity appears to be along the lines of a Kilchoman Machir Bay. This Caol Ila, in terms of smoke, is not as smokey as an Ardbeg or Laphroaig. There are some elements of earthiness here that reminds me of Ledaig 10 Year, though it is more full-bodied than Ledaig in terms of its viscosity. However, I find that Ledaig 10 Year tends to be grassy and earthy overall; there's a sense of dryness that it carries, almost like morning dew, where moisture latches onto blades of grass and releasing aromas of weed. This particular bottle is exciting as the Caol Ila 12 Year, but I find that Caol Ila 12 Year picks up more of a salinity factor in addition almond notes and smoke, while this Gordon MacPhail expression offers more of peat and char. Overall, I love it and it is roughly in the $100; not crazy expensive, but just right!
-- High West Double Rye --
Hi-Time Single Barrel Use Rye Oak vs. American Oak Showdown
High West Double Rye
Hi-Time Single Barrel Aged in Used Rye Cask
-100 proof/50% ABV
-Standard High West Double Rye that is aged in a used rye oak barrel for 20 months
-Region: Rye sourced from Indiana, but distillery is located in Park City, Utah
-Style: Rye Whiskey
Nose (neat): Mustard, hay, sesame seeds and hamburgers.
Flavour (neat): Full-bodied spice and heat. There's definitely some oiliness here and buttery tones that is quite similar to the standard High West Rye, though the difference here is that this one picks up more body and brown sugar tones, while the regular expression has more of a vanilla spice. Orange zest filters on the back end that lead to a grapefruit finish. This is quite complex and I thoroughly enjoy it quite a bit. During the third sip, brown sugar is still present, but now I pick
Part of the thrill in working at Hi-Time Wine Cellars is that the staff gets to choose single barrel expressions that are only found at the liquor store. This time around, we got two different High West Double barrels that are priced at $45.99. Most people know that David Perkins, the founder of High West, is sourcing his ryes from LDI (though now this place is called MPG), and I was told by one of the staff at High West Distilleries that they will probably release their own original expressions made from their own distillery in Park City, Utah sometime next year or two years from now! It'll be fun to see how they taste!
marshmallows and hints of coffee. It has a dry, nutty tone--almost chalky, but it lingers back to brown sugar flavors.
Finish (neat): Grapefruit that leads to an over tone of orange marmalade and walnuts, while an undertone of walnuts and cheetos are present.
Nose (w/dribbles of water): Orange zest on the initial hit, but when water settles 5 minutes later aromas of cinnamon stinks laced with red apples from a candle is a present.
Flavour (w/dribbles of water): Orange and water taffy are the dominant profile, while there's an undertone of marshmallows. There's an overtone of faint chalkiness here that lingers at the hard palate. Although it picks up all of these flavor profiles, I find that it's sweeter when having it neat.
Finish (w/dribbles of water): Macadamia nuts and marshmallows that quickly lead to orange zest.
Overall: With water, I thought it was quite straight-foward and I prefer it without water. I like the richness and punch of it. The sweetness and spice here reminds me of Michter's American Whiskey (and, yeh, I know this one ain't a rye) and the standard High West Double Rye! I am also reminded of the fantastic Lot 40 Rye that's made in Canada. MMM I love the richness, sweetness and spice on these guys.
High West Double Rye
Hi-Time Single Barrel Aged in American Oak Cask
-100 proof/50% ABV
-Aged in American oak barrels for 21 months
Nose (neat): Faint aromas of pickles, undertone of orange and papaya, mustard and burgers.
Flavour (neat): This is dryer than the one that is aged in the rye cask. It's got an oak-forward feel that peaks up in spice quite quickly here. It's almost hot with faint tones of nail polish that ride up the nasal cavity.
Finish (neat): This ends on a soft, brown sugary note that then lingers into hamburgers, and finally lingering into orange and coffee.
Nose (w/dribbles of water): Mustard and pickles
Flavour (w/dribbles of water): It's quite hot with lots of minerality here. In fact, it's pretty bone dry, in which it reminds me of drinking a Jefferson's Small Batch, but that's where the similarity ends (and, yes, I know Jefferson's Small Batch is a bourbon). Grassy, earthy notes here remind me of Whistlepig. While the water mingles and settles in the glass for 15 minutes orange zests are present that softens out into burnt sugar. Though mainly it is on the dry side.
Finish: Faint notes of orange cream soda and marshmallows that lead to dirt
Overall: I know this is a selected Hi Time Wine Cellar selected cask, but I'll be honest. I feel like I'm being punished when I'm sipping this because there's some nail polish and mineral profile here. It's rough and tough. On the positive side, I thing it finishes off quite nicely. I am a BIG fan of the rye cask.
-- Bar Jackalope Training --
9 December 2014
Hakushu 18 Year
Quick Facts: 43% ABV; Identical to the 12 year but with 6 more years of age. Mixture of peated and unpeated barley. Aged in ex-bourbon, puncheons , hogheads and sherry casks. They use Mizunara casks at Yamazaki, but not at Hakushu
Nose (neat) : Pretty. A little bit of floral tone and crushed raspberries.
Flavour (neat): Salt is present right at the beginning and then it leads to red fruit and citrus notes and that evolves to coffee. Towards the end pear emerges. Crisp, fresh fruit here. Incredibly complex and jumps from one flavor profile to the next. There’s an overtone of char here, but it is oh so faint, even more faint than a Highland Park 18 Year. During the 2nd sip I get more earthy tones here..more grass that reminds me of the Hakushu 12 Year.
Finish: Citrus finish that leads to croissants and pain au raisin. With a few drops of water dark chocolate is present.
Nose (w/a few drops of water): Grassy and meaty tones lead to coffee and caramel
Flavour (w/a few drops of water): It is drier with water but there’s a big emphasis on toasted almonds. During the second sip there are notes of grapefruit
Finish (w/a few drops of water): Dry..super dry. Walnuts all the way through. I don’t like the finish.
Overall: It’s really good. I thoroughly enjoy this one and prefer this more than the Hakushu 12 Year, since this one has more body. I pick up some red fruits here, whereas the Hakushu 12 Year is dry. The Hakushu 12 Year has a very faint profile of char that is balanced with grass and lime zest when having it neat. Don't get me wrong, it is a pretty malt--I do like Hakushu 12 Year--to me it's a balance of spring and autumn in a glass. In some ways, the Hakushu 18 Year reminds me of Glenfarlcas 17 Year because it has some chocolate and red fruits.
Hibiki 17 Year
Quick Facts: It's a blended whisky that comes from all 8 different Hakushu, all 5 difference kinds of Yamazaki and all the grain spirit sourced from Suntory's 3rd distillery, Chita. Different types of casks used for aging Hibiki include sherry casks, ex-bourbon cask, mizunara cask and ex-plum wine barrels.
Nose (neat): Raspberry, hints of honey with a little bit of alcohol burn here and straight up Wonder Bread
Flavour (neat): Hints of salt lingers on the sides of the tongue, but it is grassy from beginning to middle. It moves to toasted almonds and grapefruit, in which it gets sweeter and nuttier on the 2nd sip…like an aftertaste of Auntie Anne’s almond pretzel drizzled with caramel..
Finish (neat): Almond croissant finish
Nose (with 2 drops of water): Butterscotch and hints of glue sap
Flavour w/2 drops of water): Spice peeks up but leads mainly to coffee. Spice is still light and approachable, leading to brown sugar
Finish (w/2 drops of water): leads to just brown sugar and french toast bread topped with maple and butter.
Overall: Out of the 3 Hibiki expressions (12, 17 and 21 year), this is my favorite, for I find this to be most well balanced out of the three. While Hibiki 12 Year offers a light, raspberry profile with hints of floral and sandalwood and the 21 Year offers more of a deeper oak-forward profile, the Hibiki 17 Year is the perfect balance of both. I find that with the mouthfeel and viscosity of both the 12 and 17 year are similar to Nikka expressions (i.e. Taketsuru 12 Year, Yoichi 15 Year, Taketsuru Nikka 21 Year, etc.), I enjoyed this blend quite a bit!
Hibiki 21 Year
Nose (neat): There's a bit of nail polish on the nose that is balanced by pecans, walnuts and caramel.
Flavour (neat): Chocolate Tootsie Rolls, cream with a bit of spice. Hints of char emerge and the drink gets a bit dry towards the end, leading to grapefruit. However, it sweetens up and leads back to dark chocolate and pudding. This is more full-bodied than Hibiki 12 and 17. Its viscosity reminds me more of a Yamazaki 12 Year.
Finish: Coffee and salted caramel are balanced out by oak.
Nose (w/2 drops of water): Salt and pecans
Flavour with 2 drops of water: It's sweeter with water. I like it with water because there are lots of almond croissants with an overtone of faint smoke (lighter than Highland Park 12) that hits the nasal cavity, but overall the profile is mainly sweet.
Finish (w/ 2 drops of water): This leads to a dry, walnut finish.
Overall: The mouthfeel and viscosity remind me of these Yamazaki 12 Year and 18 Year. This is the most oak-forward Hibiki out of the standard line (12, 17 and 21 Year). As far as price point goes, this bottle retails for roughly $349, while the 17 year is $179. I think the Hibiki 17 Year is a better bang for the buck, but don't get me wrong I enjoy this Hibiki 21 Year. I just think from an economic's standpoint, if you're wondering if the big jump from $170 to $349 is worth it and if you're scrapped for cash, then go with this 17 Year. But if you're not concern about money, then definitely get the 21 Year . In fact, buy the whole line! HAHA!
Highland Park Freya
Nose (neat): Caramel , cantaloupe, papaya and butterscotch. Aroma of eggs is present after the 2nd nosing.
Flavour neat: Black pepper and pear that lead to dry, red tannins and pine needles. There's a little bit of char here.
Finish: It is bone dry. It makes me thirsty as it eliminates all the saliva in my mouth, but there’s some hints of nuts here as well.
Nose (w/2 drops of water): Grilled cantaloupe
Flavour (w/2 drops of water): It gets more peppery, and there is an abundant of walnuts here, while char remains in the backdrop.
Finish (w/2 drops of water): Black coffee that leads to fondant.
Nose (water): Fresh cut grass and mung bean
Flavourn(water): It's sweeter with a few drops of water..a bit of alcohol is there but it gets a dry.
Overall: I like this one because it's robust and full-bodied. In some ways it reminds me of a higher proof version of Highland Park 18, but it is just more on the peppery and dry side. Loki has lots of tropical fruit tones with an undertone of char, while this one has red fruits. If you prefer a more full-bodied style of Highland Park this is the way to go as the peppery notes and red tannins are present.
Kilchoman Port Cask Strength
Nose (neat): Smoke and dark chocolate
Flavour (neat): I think this is perfect on its own and it doesn't need any water. It's a hybrid of figs and cherries, where one flavor doesn't usurp the other and, of course, the smoke, is still present. There's an intensity here on the initial hit that reminds me of Caol Ila Stitichell. Again, I really like full-bodied, cask strength stuff. My knees buckled when I sampled this. It was such an odd feeling, like I was having a burst of dopamine after eating a chocolate cake.
Finish: This rides long into dark chocolate.
Overall: I'm a big fan of this Kilchoman and this is my favorite release from them so far. I feel like this year's limited cask strength expressions that include the Sherry Cask, Pedro Ximenez and Port Cask have been stunning and solid. Again, the mouthfeel of all of these guys have that punch that represents the same kind of sensation as a Caol Ila Stitchell. Although Ardbeg Uigheadail and Ardbeg
Corryvreckan have alcohol proof that are at 108.4 and 114 Proof, respectively (alcohol strength that is on the same level as Kilchoman Port, PX and Sherry), these Ardbeg expressions don't taste hot. This Kilchoman is going to have more punch than these Ardbegs, but it's no hot like Kavalan cask strength expressions, but similar to Caol Ila Stitchell. (P.S. I love Kavalan a lot, but I can still taste the "young" and "fiery" elements here, where I detect the raw flavor of new make spirit here).
Hakushu 12 Year (straight from Japan)
Later in the evening, one of my awesome bosses from Seven Grand stopped by with his friend, and he let me have the last drop of his own bottle that he purchased in Japan a few years back. He was sipping this bad boy before it made it out to the US market. I was very surprised that the Hakushu 18 that I sampled earlier in the day during training (the one that was released to the US market) and my boss' bottle tasted different. Although both are bottled at 43% ABV, the mouthfeel and spice from the Japanese bottle seems more like a 92 proof mouthfeel; it's more oily and rich than the USA bottling of Hakushu 12 Year. The red fruits and smoke are more pronounced as well, though these characteristics are fainter than a Talisker 10 Year. The smoke level here is more similar to "Bruichladdich Unpeated Islay Bareley (yes, it's unpeated but the smoke is still present). I prefer the one that's straight from Japan. I don't know if bottles vary from batch to batch or if Suntory decided to release a "softer" version of Hakushu to the USA market.
*Balvenie Carribean cask was not sampled that day. It was just a discussion about this one being highly allocated. This used to be on the shelf at Hi Time Wine Cellars for $54, but the company raised its whole sale price and the store only gets a few cases per month, making it rare and expensive.
-- Corsair --
New Highly Allocated Expressions at Hi-Time Wine Cellars
Corsair as a micro distillery that's known for producing quirky stuff. They're whole philosophy is, "if it's already been done, then we don't want to do it." So, yeh. they've made Quinoa Whisky and a whisky that was smoked three ways with peat, cherry wood and beechwood. They're cutting edge and badass. These new expressions just swiveled into the store at Hi Time Wine Cellars, and they're highly allocated. If you are a beer geek who loves IPA's and Hop Beer, and you're in the mood for exploring spirits, this is your gateway to liquor.
Corsair Galaxy Hopped
-Composed of malted barely that's flavored with Galaxy Hops.
-Galaxy Hops: Australian hop that's used to produce beers like IPA's and gives a citrus-forward profile usually.
Nose (neat): Curry chicken with lemon grass and saffron. It's meaty and definitely different. Red bell peppers hit the base of the nostrils, while the nasal cavity is impregnated with curry and chicken. There's a faint aroma of metal here, too.
Flavour (neat): Flavours here are very unique. It's meaty, yet there's a heavy emphasis of green bell peppers here. It's earthy and vegetal. There's a background tone of saffron that hits deep in the soft palate. There's a lot of emphasis of hops here. It's like drinking a strong IPA for sure, but it's also sprinkled with a bit of Russian Imperial Stout---I pick up some subtle bread-like and coffee tones here that I find in some stouts. There's a bit of spice here, but it quickly softens out to mustard and red bell
peppers towards the end.
Finish (neat): This is going to sound weird, but it has an aftertaste of sucking on a crab shell, the kind that is found at Chinese restaurants. Clam after taste that's laced with orange zest.
Overall: Yeh! It's definitely quirky for sure. If you are feeling adventurous, go for it! This ain't your typical malted whiskey!
Corsair Citra Double IPA
Nose (neat): Orange zest and hoppy beer! There's a little bit of floral tones here that is balanced with star anise and earl grey tea.
Flavour (neat): There's an abundance of citrus tones that lead to honey bread. The spice here is unique; it's meaty and peppery, but floral at the same time. I wish I had another whisky to compare this to as a reference point, but I can't because there's nothing like this. It's just very unique. During the third sip, the peppery tone is more apparent, and there's some tannin red fruits here that are balanced by some early grey tea. The peppery tone is as assertive as an Arran Cask Strength 12 Year.
Finish (neat): It's a very straight forward finish. Lots of orange after taste.
Overall: I like this one because of it's fruity characteristics
Nose (neat): Floral, gun metal and earl grey tea.
Flavour (neat): Ah...this is super bitter and it has a lot of grapefruit characteristics. On the backend I get potato chips after taste. Burnt toast and clams during the second sip. It's bitter on top of bitter. During the second sip I get orange zest, but it's mainly earthy. It is most similar to the Corsair Rasputin.
Finish (neat): Burnt bread and cofee
Overall: I think this is a "hophead's" dream. If any beer drinker that is obsessed with IPA's, any of these top three Corsairs are the way to go, if they are in the mood for drinking a spirit.
Corsair Out Rage
Nose (neat): A triple balance of bread, silver tequila and orange
Flavour (neat): This tastes like the log-looking trail mix. It has a crunchy bread tone with hints of salt and peas. There's a floral tone here as well.
Finish (neat): Japanese seaweed paper and trail mix.
Overall: This is the least complex whiskey out of the bunch, but that isn't a bad thing.
Usually in my "overall" opinion at the end of each tasting note, I make references to other products. For example, if you like "A" then you will like "B," but I couldn't do that because they're all quirky and different. There's nothing like these guys out there. I can wrap my head around Charbay R-5, even though it's essentially a whisky infused with hops, because of the casks that the master distiller is using. He uses wine casks that remind me of some sherry casks used in scotch and he's been using cognac-style stills that in some ways remind me of cognac. However, Corsair has a very distinctive approach; it is unique, novel and even strange. Again, I think if you are feeling adventurous or are big Hop and IPA beer drinkers, then these Corsair releases will be right up your alley.
-- Macallan Cask Strength --
Macallan Cask Strength: 57.7% ABV
Flavour (neat): If I were to do a blind tasting I would've assumed that this one was aged in port wine barrels because I pick up earthy, dark-root characteristics here. However, there's an abundance of prunes that lead to leather, and it lathers the tongue with a chocolate-raisin finish. As it settles in the glass for 5 minutes I get a lot of chocolate covered raisins. This is quite different from the other Macallan Cask Strength--the one with the white label. The white label offers bright, juicy red fruits that remind me of Dalmore Cigar Malt, but, of course, much more concentrated in alcohol, body and flavor.
Flavour (w/3 drops of water): I definitely get an abundance of chocolate Tootsie Rolls, nutmeg and spice. It's quite bone dry on the finish, where grapefruit zests dominate the palate as it slowly transitions into dark chocolate expressions. Hints of leather also emerge here. I think this Macallan Cask Strength tastes more similar to The Exclusive Malt "The Speyside" 10 Year Port Cask expression because both of them possess chocolate and prune-like and raisin-like qualities.
Overall: I like this one a lot and if you can find one, go get it! If I were to compare the two Macallan Cask Strengths, I prefer the white label over this one just a bit more because I prefer the bright, juicy red fruits the other one offers. In addition, I think this particular Macallan is a fine example of using great casks because this scotch is quite clean; no ruminates of sulphur is present here. Kudos to Macallan!
-- Bar Jackalope Training --
6 January 2015
Craigelachie 92 Proof: Pronounced as "craig-GAH-leck-kie"
Quik Fact: This goes through an old style method of the worm tub during the distillation process. It goes through the worm tub and slowly the vapor turns back into liquid form. As a result of this technique, it has been said that it allows one to taste the grains, making the the flavor profile much more pronounce. However, this point of view is open to debate. Not too many distilleries are using a worm tub anymore.
Flavour (neat): Wonder Bread, milk bread and honey. There are overtones of toasted almonds and barely hitting the nasal cavity and palate, and it leads to a green-apple caramel finish.
Flavour (w/a few drops of water): It gets dry and isn't as sweet when I'm having it neat. I can taste just a hint of grapefruit and walnut skins. I prefer drinking baby neat.
Overall: This is a beautiful scotch and if you like Balvenie 12 Year, Balvenie 15 Year Single Barrel or Glen Grant 16 Year, this is your new purchase. This is priced appropriately at Hi Time Wine Cellars $53.99. Personally, I think this is a great bang for your buck. I highly recommend you making this purchase!
Mortlach Rare Old: 43.4% ABV
Quick Facts: This is a new release from Diageo and is the youngest out of their new expressions, even though it's labeled as "rare old." This distillery is the back bone of Johnnie Walker Black
Flavour (neat): The aroma of tree bark is quite apparent here after I take a swallow of this scotch, but a touch of rose petals give it more of a cognac-like feel to it. Because of the fruit and floral profiles it reminds me of some of the Germain Robin cognacs I've come across, though the viscosity on this Mortlach is thinner than Germain Robin. Orange marmalade tones linger here on the finish.
Flavour (w/2 drops of water): I get popcorn, kettle corn and leather. Some white, cracked pepper is balanced out by toasted almonds, and it appears to be livelier than having it neat.
Overall: I must admit that I wasn't a fan of this when I first tried it months ago because it was very light and the price point was around $139. Once it hits that threshold I expect it to offer a thicker viscosity and complexity, so I felt that if I hand sold this to someone I was punching them in the face, taking their money and their groceries. However, now that I'm revisiting this bottle again, I've come to appreciate it much more and respect it. The price is now $89, which is much more appropriate, though I do think one gets a better bang for the buck with the Gordon MacPhail Mortlach 15 Year, since that particular one has a fuller viscosity like a Balvenie 15 Year ex-bourbon cask with honey graham crackers, baked with peaches and apricots. This Mortlach Rare Old is light and thin, reminding me of a cross between Balvenie 17 Year and light-style cognac. Overall, I think if you like gentle scotches, this is your ideal guy to take home!
-- Glenmorangie Signet --
9 January 2015
-Hight tumble roasted chocolate malted barely
-Some of the Glenmo juices are aged in Spanish Oak and brand new American oak barrels that have been charred.
-There are some 35 -40-year-old Glenmo in this awesome Signet
-It took Dr. Bill Lumsden 15 years to create this recipe
Flavour (neat): I was lucky to try a dribble of this. There was roughly 3/4 of inch left of that juice inside that bottle, and I'm sure that it has soften out quite a bit over time due to oxidization. I am hoping to retry this in the future because I am curious to see how it tastes when the bottle is first cracked open. It is $200, so I can't afford this bottle, but hopefully I'll get to try it again! I must say that I was lucky to sample to this, thanks to my close friends. It really is a special treat to make friends with customers at Hi Time Wine Cellars--to build that type of rapport-- and now I get to call them my friends! I am a lucky girl. Anyway, back to the flavor profile here. The flavor is buttery and filled with papaya. There's just a touch of peppery note to propel the tongue to salivate, but my mouth is caressed by dark chocolates. Coconut and butter appear during the second sip. On the finish, it goes straight to sweet mangos, papaya and cantaloupe. If you've come across the Redbreast 21 Year, this Glenmorangie Signet is similar to that because of the buttery, tropical fruit expressions, but that commonality stops there as chocolate tones and hints of peppery notes are captured in the Signet.
Overall: I love this Signet! I will have to save up all of my coins to get myself a bottle of this or just sell one to someone who will let me have a slurp of this sexy scotch! ^_^
That's me getting to know Glenmorangie Signet, while that Duke Silver is getting to know me!!!
-- Laphroaig 18 Year --
12 January 2015
-Region: Islay, Scotland
-Style: Single Malt Scotch
-2013 release is aged in 100% ex-bourbon cask, and most likely is sourced from Maker's Mark.
Flavour: This is a lovely scotch. When I think of it, I start drooling and I become a thirsty bear. It's silky and sexy. There's some beautiful, creamy expressions here that caress the tongue, and simultaneously it is balanced out by the smoke. It truly is a perfect marriage between the masculine punch of smoke and the feminine touch of fondant. Imagine yourself being in a relationship with a fiery, hot-headed mo'fo and you're the complete opposite; you're calm and totally zen and the both of you balance each other out--and that's essentially what Laphroaig 18 Year is all about. The smoke intensity is along the lines of Laphroaig Triple Wood. There's some tropical fruit profiles that range from mangos to star fruits, where apricots emerge with hints of smoke. The saltiness pulls through towards the end, making my mouth salivate like a hungry dude who wants steak. Yummers! I think if you like Talisker 18 Year, this may be your next purchase.
-- Bar Jackalope Training --
13 January 2015
Benromach 10 Year; 43% ABV They produce old style scotches, so all of them are a little bit smoky.
Nose: (neat): little bit of burning but mainly it has red fruits
Flavour (neat): Light smoke with a hint of dry tannins and deep, dark maraschino cherries lingers off into hints of bark, star anise, though mainly towards the end this Benromach is dominated by dark chocolate. During the second sip you can definitely taste the grains. In addition, there’s a hint of glue with loads of spice that reminds me of an Arran 10 Year. The smoke intensity is faint like a Highland Park or Bruichladdich Unpeated Islay Barely (Yes! Even though it says "unpeated" you can definitely taste some smoke), but this is quite similar to Arran 10 Year in terms of its red fruits, dark chocolates and peppery notes. The only difference between Arran and Benromach 10 Year is that Arran does not produce any smokey scotches besides the Machrie Moor.
Overall: This is a gentle scotch and I think if you like Arran 10 Year, but are in the mood for exploring a subtle smokey style of scotch with less proof then I think this is the way to go. This is also Ralfy's scotch of the year for 2014. And if you don't know Ralfy, you can find him on YouTube. He is the whisky god on that site. I hope to drink with Ralfy one day because he seems so COOOOL!!!!
Stronachie 18 Year: 92 proof. This is classified as an "old style of scotch" .because they use a little bit of peat and second fill casks to age the new make spirit.
Flavor (neat): bing cherry finish. There’s just a touch of peat and salt, though mainly it is quite malty-forward. Light peat and smokey intensity fall under the line of the basic Highland Park and Bunnhabhain expressions. There's a bit of salt here, but it is mainly malty-foward. Coffee and almonds are the dominate expressions, while cantaloupe sits at the base of the throats
Overall: This is definitely an underrated scotch and gets overlooked by people. It's dirt cheap, running at roughly $78 for an 18-year scotch. I think if you like Bunnahabhain 18 and just want something with a little bit of smoke and bumping up the proof at 92, then this is your next purhcase. I find that the Bunnahabhain has a bit of that "peaty" (as in earthy grassy note) in addition to those lovely almonds and with a touch of honey, while Highland Park's smoke is more apparent and you can detect a bit of char there.
Tomintoul: 40% abv. This distillery has long and tall neck stills like Glenmorangie, which produces a lighter style of whisky as a result of the stills' shape.
Nose (neat): Glue and honey graham biscuits: Light almonds with just a hint of grass emerge as well. It’s quite straight forward. To me, on the mouthfeel it is as delicate as a Glenfiddich 12. The finish is quite nice, where I can definitely taste barely bread. An after taste of white chocolate wafers is present.
Overall: It’s light, and to be honest I usually prefer my booze at 92 proof and beyond. This Tomintoul 16 Year, to me, is along the lines of some of the Tullibardine expressions that just returned to the market a few months ago in USA. It's light and delicate, moving like a Glenfiddich, Glenlivet and Chivas Regal. That is to say, it's not bad....I like mine just a bit stronger, but I think if you prefer light, delicate scotches then this is an ideal purchase!
Balvenie 12 Year Single Barrel:; 47.8% abv This is aged in first-fill, ex-bourbon casks and is a single barrel expression. Balvenie is on the Glenfiddich property. 20% of their barley is all in house.
Flavour (neat): Super duper long milk chocolate finish. It’s incredible. I love the finish and mouthfeel on this. I just love all of their single barrel expressions. I don’t know why, but I pick up just a bit of sulphur on the back end, though I imagine sulphur is only used for oloroso casks when people are cleaning out the casks, but I am not certain. The milk chocolate expressions remind of Cadbury Eggs. I like it!
Overall: I think if you like Craigallechie 13 Year and Glenrothes 1995 this is the one to go. I think this one is more full-bodied than the Balvenie 12 Year Double Wood. Balvenie 12 Year Double Wood possesses more oak, and while it sits in the glass honey emerges. This Single Barrel Balvenie expression is creamier and just a hair full-bodied as it possesses more milk chocolate. Both scotches are smooth.
Ardbeg Supernova: 55% abv. This is Ardbeg's Committee Release. Although it has a rocket ship on the bottle, it is not the actual Ardbeg that orbited in space for two years. These Supernova expressions are now a regular release. I hear this is roughly 9 years of age and is their "answer" to Octomore!.
Flavour: Mesquite wood, undertones of chocolate with an assertive smoke bomb. There’s an undertone of red fruits as well. Salt lingers on the finish, and it’s a bit meaty, which reminds me of Balcones Oak Scrub and Bruichladdich Port Chorlotte. This is the most meaty one out of the other Ardbegs I've come across, and I'm referring to Ardbeg 10 Year, Uigeadail, Auriverdes and Corryvreckan. There’s a bit of grassy note during the third sip, though the smoke is still assertve.
Flavour (With a few drops of water): sherry and strawberries linger…and then it leads to raspberry and blueberries while the smoke remains assertive. Suprirsingly it’s quite fun and magnificent with dribbles of water. I like it with water!!!
Overall: I think Ardbeg 10 Year has a creamy touch with the same level of smoke bomb and saltiness like the Supernova, though Supernova has a bit more of a meaty kind of smoke. Uigeadail offers more of a char note with dark chocolate tones as hints of earl grey tea tickle the nostrils. This is sweeter than Auriverdes as I find the Auriverdes to have more of a cracked white pepper and walnuts kind of expression. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it with water. To me, this Ardbeg is a hybrid of Ardbeg Ardbog and Balcones Oak Scrub.
-- BenRiach 19 Year--
1994 Vintage Peated/Pedro Ximenez Cask
Benriach 19 Year: bottled at 51.9% abv and only 660 bottles available.
Flavour (neat): This sexy thang is like an Urrrsher love jam. Just when you think he's gonna get aggressive and pelvic thrust you with his dance moves, you then realize he just falsetto-ed into your ears, while singing, "Let me love you down," and your body just went limp like a wilted sunflower. Instead of getting hit with all of that smoke (as it appears quite aggressive on the nose) this baby will "love you long time." It will treat you right, lay your head down gently on a pillow because it doesn't want you to get some neck-whip lash. Smooth like silk pajamas, the Pedro Ximinez and its age add finesse and creaminess that is filled with fondant and vanilla as it is balanced out by the smoke. Imagine yourself eating a chocolate caramel candy that is sprinkled with sea salt. Don't you enjoy that kind of dichotomy between the saltines and sweetness in yo' mouth? Yes ...yes... This benriach does the same thing. An absolute, perfect balance of the hard and soft, where smoke and sweetness goes hand in hand. Boo yah!
-- Macallan 18 Year --
A Horizontal Tasting of Goodness
Who's Your Mac Daddy!? Oh yeh! Four Macallan 18 Year. Check out this horizontal action, ranging from 1976-1979. Someone call the fire department cuz it just got hot in herrrre.
1976: Sweetness and cherries. Very creamy with loads of busted, juicy cherries essssploding in your mouth.
1977: More kettle corn here than the '76 vintage. There's a dryness here, too, that leads to pecan pie and creme brûlée. This reminds me of the current Glendronach expressions like the Glendronach 15 Year.
1978: Smells like feet and farts., but the palate is great. Don't you worry. I am committed . I will fight through the farts to get a good drink of whisky cuz I am all in or nothing at all. I was the original Linsanity before Jeremy Lin started shootin' free throws on the b-ball court. There's a touch of mesquite wood that reminds me of Broragedden. It's not smoky like the char kind of smoke, but it's got a savory, sweet mesquite wood profile that reminds me of applewood ham. Mm...this is my favorite out of the 4 .
1979: Has lots of tannins and walnuts. It's my least flavourite out of the 4, though it does taper off to lovely fig, plum and dark chocolate expressions. This finishes off with dark chocolates. and goes to mesquite wood shortly after.
-- Oban Little Bay --
Oban Little Bay: 43% abv.
Flavor: Walnuts with undertone of Madeline cakes and orange zests. This is a very straight forward drink. I don't see any profiles morphing into another note. It is simply, dry and nutty. There's no smoke here. The Oban 18 has a seaweed, earthy profile, while the 14 year has a bit of smoke and caramel. The Oban Distiller's Edition has no smoke and more of a caramel sweetness, in addition to dark chocolate profiles. I think with 3 drops of water this Little Bay sweetens slightly into honey but after 5 minutes the syrupy profile gets muted and grapefruit zests become present. While it settles for another 15 minutes , hints of strawberries emerge. This reminds me of a Glenrothes 1998 due to its lightness and straight-forward flavor profile.
-- Port Ellen --
A Sexy Uniforn
Somebody bring me a yacht Cuz I just pulled up to Port Ellen! Boo yah! Eat your heart out, Ben Kingsley. Port Ellen, unfortunately is now a closed distillery, but is used as a malting floor for distilleries like Lagavulin and Caol Ila. This unicorn scotch has a very malty and bread-forward profile like Craigalechie 13 year. However, the common ground ends there .The smoke, red fruits and spice become apparent as it sits in the glass for 15 minutes. Weed is present in this baller whisky, and I'm not talking about plants growing through the cracks on your sidewalk. I am talking about, straight up, weed, the kind where someone rolls a fatty and passes a joint to his buddies in a small circle while listening to Bob Marley. I've never inhaled, but I've been around people who've smoked a joint and it smells like morning dew. Anyway, sugar and orange candy are present on the finish. I wish I could get a hold of this, but Diageo would probably tell me to kick rocks because I'm not the lead singer of Train. Why don't you love me back, Diageo? Ah..it's a one-way street with this company, but that's okay, I still love you, Diageo.
-- Laphroaig Triple Wood --
The Ultimate Lady Boner
Laphroaig Triple Wood: 48% abv. This is essentially the Laphroaig Quarter Cask mixed with Oloroso Sherry Cask.
Last year when the triple wood was sitting on the shelf I would tell customers, "If I were a man, Laphroaig would give me a triple wood." They'd laugh and buy the bottle. I had no idea that it would turn into a scotch unicorn and I've been triple wood-less since last summer. Luckily one of my customers liked me enough and hunted down this unicorn and captured it for me! I was so pumped. I love this Laphroaig ... This sexpression is so delicious! As my best friend would say, "This one wants to Hannah Montana you on the streets and Miley Cyrus you in the sheets...In other words, it wants to Raymond the IV you on the streets and Urrrrsher Urrrsher you on the sheets." Triple panty droppers, son! Unf! I love the wild, cracked pepper here as it tickles my nostrils when I take a sip, while milk chocolate lingers on my tongue. Subtle notes of tannins and raspberry linger underneath the white sheet of smoke as tropical fruits hit the hard palate. It's incredibly complex and fun and it's not aggressive in smoke as the Laphroaig 10 year. When the juice comes in contact with so much wood, no pun intended, the smoke level (Phenol parts per million yo! Btw I use this expression a lot, so I don't feel like such a disappointing Asian to my parents) drops. It also drops in smoke intensity when it sits in the barrel for long periods of time. Anyway, I'm bummed that this is hard to get, but calm your tits, kids. There's no reason to email Master Distiller/Distillery Manager John Campbell and say, "Don't be a scotch blocker. Bring this baby back!" Im sure there's someone in Beam Suntory that's making the executive decision to slow down the production of this sweet, sexy thing. Any hoot, I just realized I probably ruined the chance of Beam Suntory of ever possibly recruiting me because my whisky lady boner jokes are far too edgy for the fainted heart. To be fair my customers like Weener jokes, and jokes of the male anatomy sells booze. Someone's gotta do the dirty job!
-- Laphroaig PX --
Another Triple Wood Gem
Laphroaig PX: Only available at Duty Free!
Flavour: That's my pal Scott rocking that awesome hair like he's a member of Blink 182. So rad. Uh..so when I rubbed this sexy sauce on my man hands, it smelled like Frito's Corn Chips. This tastes like when Justin Bieber did 15'pushups, boned a street walker and drove 75 mph in a neighborhood street. Just kidding! It tastes like winning in life and excellent life decisions! I love PX casks. It's like trader joe's chocolate---it tastes so good and sweet and you get this high and you wonder if someone sprinkled some illicit drug on it. Hmm that's a bad analogy. I've never done illegal drugs before. I guess I will stick to Weener analogies . It's what I do best. Any hoot, I just realized this is also triple matured like the Laphroaig Triple Wood. Now I can tell people that Laphroaig PX gives me a triple wood if I were a man. Jebus Monte Christo Ham Hawks it's good. I'm not making sense because I'm delirious from this drink. The sweetness is balanced by the smoke. Smoke intensity appears to be similar to Laphroaig 10! I would say the smoke is different from the other line of Laphroaig as this one tends to be more mesquite wood-like. Cherry and burnt tire linger on the end--it's the same kind of aroma when someone does donuts in car and is a little too fast and fuurrrrious like Vin Diesel and you're, like, bro, you are out of control . You need to stop living your life "a quarter mile at a time." And, yes, i like to frequently quote lines from Fast and Furious...and what?
Overall: I must say it still captures the standard Laphroaig line, in the sense that the smoke bomb is still there. I wouldn't necessarily clump it in the same category as BenRiach 1994 19 Year Peated/Pedro Ximinez Cask because the Benriach has more of a sweeter and velvety touch than the Laphroaig PX, but both are great. If you want something just a bit sweeter and smoother, go for the BenRiach but if you want more smoke bomb, punch with a touch of sweet than sneak into some airport and buy this bad boy.
-- Talisker Port Ruighe --
Talisker Port Ruighe: This is finished in port cask!
Flavour: Cherry wood smoke is the dominate force here. Man, what can I say. I really like Talisker and am hoping to get ridiculous on Isle of Skye soon! It's definitely earthy and leathery here during the second sip. And salt lingers on the finish. There's just a little bit of "youngness" to it---like an almost temperamental teenager. It's like Justin Bieber before he became a full fledge tool and had tattoos. Mesquite wood and BBQ baked lays. The earthy, dark root expressions are standard in what I find in port wood casks. With a few drops of water the smoke is completely lost and I get pencil shavings and black coffee. I must admit that I enjoy the Talisker 25, 18 and Distiller's Edition, but this is still good! I just want to thank my pal Scott for his brilliant suggestion in pairing it with dark chocolate! The mesquite wood pulls through on the chocolate!
-- Bruichladdich --
BROOK-laddie: A Taste of Awesomeness
Some Sexy Bruichladdich bottles signed by Jim Mc-FREAKIN-Ewan!!!!
Bruichladdich Scottish Barley
Technical stuff: 50%abv. 100% Scottish barely. Aged in Jack Daniels, Jim Beam and Maker's Mark Barrels though the company doesn't reference to certain bourbon brands because they vary.
Flavor (having it neat): Dry nuts, hints of grapefruits, subtle notes of smoke. The smoke level is as faint as a Highland Park scotch. Just like the Bruichladdich Islay Barely the smoke intensity is on that same, gentle level . This one just happens to be on the dryer side in comparison to the Islay barely. When it is first cracked, there's a heavy dose of dryness here; lots of grapefruit zest and oak but over time it gets a hair bit sweeter after a few months (but not as sweet as Islay Barely), in which white cracked pepper is present and dried red fruits appear. After letting it sit, it reminds me of having a more full bodied version of a Glenrothes Select Reserve, but with just a touch of char smoke. On the finish, malted barely and toasted almonds linger for a few minutes
Overall: If you're looking for a dry-style of scotch with hints of smoke I highly encourage you to buy this. That 100 proof thresh hold gives it a nice, tingling sensation on the sides of one's tongue. Not expensive and is great for its price point!
Bruichalddich Islay Barely
Technical stuff: Barley is sourced from 13 Islay farms. I heard that since some of the barely is grown near the shore there's a little bit of salinity factor to the palate. Aged in ex bourbon cask
Flavor (having it neat): Robust, oily mouthfeel with honey and oak. I love the creaminess texture this one offers. The smoke level is as gentle as a Highland Park scotch. I feel like the soft, smoke intensity is equal to the Bruichladdich Scottish Barely. By the way, when I left this hanging for 45 minutes it tasted of vomit and Tortino's cheese pizza. I know that sounds gross, but I really love Tortino's cheese pizza. As far as the vomit goes I was reminded of the Bruichladdich Ten, and I'm not particular a big fan, but that cheese action is so awesome. that it makes up for the time that I blew chunks from eating too much spicy food and waking up with a slab of stomach acid on my tongue, in which I said, "UGH! Last night was a bad life decision of hot-sauce meals!" BTW, this is my favorite out of the current line. Jim McEwan is a whisky GOD!
Overall: Part of my joy working in working at Hi Time wine cellars and Bar Jackalope is that I get to sample stuff without knowing the price point of each product initially. When I tried this I was blown away how cheap it was. Now that whisky has been getting more and more expensive I would've thought, considering how robust and complex this scotch is, I would guessed that it would have costed $75. This is my personal favorite Bruchladdich and I am a big fan of this one. I suggested it to a well known collector and he emailed me back saying I made a great suggestion.
Bruichladdich Heavily Peated
Technical stuff: Bruichladdich's smokey stuff is stored in a brick house in Port Charlotte. Roughly 36-38 ppm. Aged in ex-bourbon casks.
Flavor Neat: Mesquite wood, char, undertone of subtle white pepper. Meaty. When it sits in the glass 45 min later it gets sweete,r but I still picked up some smoke.
Overall: I really liked this one because it's smokey and meaty. It reminded me of Balcones Brimstone Texas Oak Scrub. When I told a sales rep that it didn't taste like a "typical Islay scotch" in the sense that it's not briney, he explained to me that they source the peat from the mainland of Scotland. Part of the reason why they did that is because they wanted consumers to taste both the smoke and barely instead of just straight up smoke. The peat from the highland gives a little bit of earthy and floral characteristic to the barely, according to a person who represents this brand. I don't get any floral expressions but just pure Americuh Fack Yeah BBQ!
So, although the blue and yellow tin both say they're unpeated barely, you can still taste the smoke. This is a technical thing but I've heard that the barely starts off at 6 PPM and when they run the spirit through the stills and it comes off at 0 PPM. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm very curious how that works. I heard that at Bunnhabhain, when they make the 12, 18 and 25, they don't smoke the barley and indicated that you can taste the peat as a result of the water source, but this Bruichladdich expressions seem like they start of already lightly peated.
26 March 2015
-- Tullibardine --
Quick Blurbs About the Brand: My industry pals have been to this distillery and they love going to little places like these because they feel like they get a raw tour in the sense that it's not scripted. The distiller or whoever just answers questions in raw form without fluffing things up. Anyway, this brand just re-launched roughly 5 months ago and is now owned by a French company.
Tullibardine 225 Sauternes Finish
Quick Facts: Incase you don't know what Sauternes are....Sauterne is essentially a type of sweet French wine from the Sauternais region in Bordeaux. The grapes are affected by noble rot--someone told me it's essentially a type of fungus that latches onto the outer skins of the grapes and that's how it retains the sugar of the grape, making it almost raisin-like. The sweetness of the wine can be of honey and tropical fruits. As for me, when I hear fungus, I'm not scared 'cause I'm from the hood. So, bring it on, bacteria! Anyhoot, this is bottled at 43%abv.
Nose (neat): Dude, this smells like acetone....like someone wanted revenge and poured a dose of nail polish remover to destroy my nostrils. Damn! That nose is hot. It's assaulting me in right nostril like Mike Tyson. Oof! It hurts so bad.
Flavour (neat): Well, thank goodness the flavor profile is completely different from the aroma. This is sort of like the "behind the scenes" of Mike Tyson--the softer side, where he's all introspective and feeds pigeons in his spare time and you think, "OK, so you're not some angry, fiery person. You don't want birds to starve!!" There's a nutty creaminess here and I'm reminded of almond croissant paste. There's an undertone of raisins and papaya here that almost reminds me of a hybrid version of Glenmorangie 10 Year and Glenmorangie Lasanta, but just lower in proof. I will say this, the booziness of it all remerges towards the finish, but it doesn't assault your mouth like the aroma.
Finish (neat): Walnuts and honey-flavored pecans oscillate back and forth. Honey peaks out, but walnuts kick the shit out of honey and shoves it in a corner.
Overall: A nice, young inexpensive buck if you're into lighter style of scotches like Glenmorangie 10 (granted Glenmo 10 is creamier and softer than this one) and Glenfiddich 12 Year. This tastes young, but it's not hot like Deanston Virgin Oak and it's softer than that guy. Cheap and inexpensive. I think that it gets creamier over time. Nice, pleasant, easy sipper and appropriate price point.
Quick Facts: This little guy is aged in ex-bourbon casks and is bottled at 43% abv.
Nose (neat): I can still smell the alcohol burn but it's not as hot as the first one. I really enjoy the aroma on this one because it smells like lemon grass and ginger. The aroma reminds me of my dad's pork chops! MMM...meat (sorry, vegetarians!)
Flavour (neat): This has a heavy dose of almonds and there's no remnants of alcohol here. It reminds me of Glenrothes Alba Reserve (though this one has more vanilla) and Deanston 12 Year. I like the nuttiness of this one quite a bit. A faint note of tangerines emerges towards the end.
Finish (neat): Short finish here. It lingers for 30 seconds and it's very straight forward. There's a lot of tangerines and nuts on this one.
Overall: This is nice if you like gentle scotches. Although this is a Highland malt, I feel like it is much more on the lighter side then Glenfarclas or Glenmorangie in terms of its viscosity. Tullibardine as a whole reminds me more of Glenrothes and Glenfiddich in terms of its viscosity and lightness. Again, this feels more gentle like a Glenfiddich expression. I think if you like hugs instead of getting body slammed like an Aberlour A'bunah, which I'm all about, this may be your next purchase.
Tullibardine 228 Burgundy Finish
Quick Blurbs: Burgundy is a type of French wine made in the Burgundy Region in east side of France and it's bottled at 43% abv
Nose (neat): Ooh. Back to fire and nail polish again. Damn, it's hot like wasabi, and it smells like ham
Flavour (neat): This one is definitely dryer than the other two in the sense that it's not sweet. It leaves my mouth thirsty for water for sure. There's a bit of tannin in addition to a mixture of blackberries and raspberries that eventually leads to black berries and zinfandel wines (the ones that taste like leather and tobacco). What I like about this one is that the aroma and flavors occur in 3 layers like a cake. There's an overtone of chocolate, black forest cake and a bit of alcohol, granted the alcohol isn't hot and offensive. In the center of the palate I get lots of nuts and there's an undertone of papaya that's hitting the base of my throat.
Finish (neat): It's quite dry on the finish and there's a heavy load of almond skins on this one. Very straight forward finish
Overall: I like the ex-bourbon cask the most out of the three, but from a nerdy standpoint, in terms of its complexity, this is the most intellectually stimulating piece because it's so complex. It does get a little to dry towards the finish, but overall this is a fun one. It's sort of like reading E.E. Cummings; it's minimal but complex at the same type while you're reading William Carlos Williams with the Sovereign cask, something that's more straight forward and light hearted (at least that's how I interpret these two poets!). If you like Glendfiddich 15, this might be your next purchase.
-- Haig Club --
The Ultimate Hate Club for Single Malt Purists and How I Suggest Products to You
2 April 2015
I know what you're thinking, "Why are you posting cologne?" Well, it ain't one! It's a single grain whisky called Haig Club backed by David Beckham. I hear when you finish a full bottle of this Beckham magically appears and starts talking about scoring goals on the football field with his balls. I didn't know that two people could bump uglies and produce someone more hot than Adonis and ghost chili peppers. He's so boootiful! Anyhoot, single grain scotch means it comes from a single distillery and is composed of malted barely and other grains like corn. So, this guy is light-bodied and straight forward, filled with grassy note and a touch of nuts (no pun intended). If you like gentle this is your whisky. Also, this is versatile and you can wear this as perfume and spray it on your neck and pretend Beckham just kissed you there 😛 I like to rub whisky behind my ears if I'm feeling adventurous and wanting to play fast and furious with the police. Jk...or am I? Haha
* Just a heads up! I was just corrected by someone who works for Diageo and he said it is mainly composed of wheat! Cool beans.
I wrote a review of this whisky on Instagram last week and was quite cheeky with it. I was quite surprised that it generated a lot of responses from my InstaPals who took the time to read my rambles. Before I launch into that, here's my review:
So, my Instagram buddies said this was the most disappointing release that has come out to Diageo. I'll tell you what. I wrote the review as a joke and, personally, I'm not a fan of this whisky, though I'll definitely try it again to see if I'll change my mind. I think if you like single malts and buy this, you will feel like someone just clubbed you in the leg with a metal pole and mugged you because it's "overpriced" for what it is. But that's where this response gets tricky, too, because at the end of the day it is all a matter of personal preference and there's no one TRUE answer. At the end of the day, I believe there's a style of whisky for everyone, and that's why I think whisky, in general, is awesome.
The most common question I get from people is, "Well, what's good?" That's a loaded question because everyone's palate is different. That's like asking me, "Which guy is hot?" (Jad Abumrad of Radiolab, FYI!!!). Rather than taking the I-am-right-and-you-are-wrong approach, I respond, "It depends. Which brands have you tried that you've liked?" And the reason why I don't answer their initial question is that I'm not aware of their palate. I could say, "Damn. I really love The Big Smoke because it's bottled at 120 proof. It's filled with mesquite wood, punch and it has an undertone of milk chocolate. It's totally underpriced and delicious." However, if someone prefers a gentle style of unpeated whisky, it would be highway robbery for me to encourage them to spend $70 on something that they will hate. That's why I avoid that question, unless they specifically say, "I want to drink what you're drinking. Tell me what to buy," then I will be more direct with my answers. I don't think my selling approach is the correct way nor the wrong way, but it's a style I use because I think it helps give people options. So, if someone says, "I really like Glenlivet 12 Year or Glenfiddich 12 Year," then I will suggest Balvenie 12 Year Doublewood or Glenmorangie 10 Year.
To me, it's all about grouping things into the following categories before I suggest a bottle of whisky to a customer:
a) flavor profiles: smoke vs. smoke (in the most basic question without overwhelming someone and getting too technical)
i: Yes on smoke, then here's my smoke scale: Any core range of Highland Park and Bowmore 12 Year are light-smoke; Caol Ila 10 Year and Talisker 10 Year are medium-smoke; core range Ardbeg and Laphroaig 10 Year and !0 Year Cask Strength
b) viscosity: does this person like full-bodied whiskies or something light in terms of alcohol
c) obscure or mainstream: Some folks like shopping for obscure brands, while others prefer buying name brands.
d) price point
e) Mass Opinion vs. My Opinion: I love Henry Mckenna 10 Year, but if someone is looking for a $25 bourbon, then I ere on the side of caution and suggest Evan Williams Single Barrel because most customers like that over the Henry Mckenna.
All of these things is needed to take into account, so I can, hopefully, make someone's shopping experience a great one. Look, I don't make commission at Hi-Time Wine Cellars, so if I come off like I've invested a lot of time and energy it's because I really like whisky as a subject, I like what I do for a living and I genuinely want you to love your product. If that doesn't work, then I have failed as a spirits specialist, but grouping things into these nomenclatures helps me identify what I think may fit your palate.
My point is, I posted a review of the Haig Club, not because I liked it, but I feel there's a certain style of whisky for everyone. If I were to only focus on what I like, then I would be doing a disservice to others. AND, if I don't like something I may change my mind in the future because the master blender will maybe alter the recipe or maybe my palate will change. At the end of the day, there's no reason to take whisky too seriously. After all, it's essentially yeast whizzing alcohol.
-- Kilchoman Machir Bay 2014 --
How They're Different from 2012-2014 from the Technical and Flavour Profile Side
Technical Stuff About Kilchoman:
-Barrels are mainly bourbon barrels, and Kilchoman sources wet barrels from buffalo trace distillery. "Wet barrels" mean they barrels are shipped whole overseas, while most companies will break down the barrels and ship the staves over seas because it's much more cost-effective. When doing that you may run the risk of obtaining random staves at the cooperage when he barrel is being rebuilt; thus, running into inconsistencies. The benefits of using wet barrels is that the flavor profile of the cask is still rich and you may lose some characteristics when they get broken down into staves as they get exposed to air, but this is what I've been told. It's always good to gather information and start to investigate. I think it's always good to disagree and do your own research. Then you can formulate your own opinion. However, I do think that, because they've used excellent casks, they're able to get a way with releasing their whiskies at a young age.
-Over the course of 9 years, they've only rejected 1 barrel from Buffalo Trace.
-During the distillation process, they keep a small percentage of the "heart" of the spirit because they want to keep the best part of it. The small cut is intended for producing younger styles of whiskies.
-Their Islay Barely is at 15-20 PPM, while the commercial barely they source at Port Ellen is at 50 PPM
-80% of the barely they source are from Port Ellen, while the remaining 20% come from their own farm.
-I hear they think their Islay Barely offers more of an oilier and creamier profile than the commercial barely.
-While most distilleries do a 50-70 hour fermentation process, they do a 100 hour fermentation run. This is very inefficient because they could be using the machines for something else, but the slow process allows them to get a soft, floral profile to the spirit.
How Machir Bays Are Different from a Technical Stance:
-2014 Edition: Approximately 10% of it is sourced from Kilchomans aged sherry casks, while the rest are from ex-bourbon casks. There is no oloroso cask, barrel finishing in the current line. The bulk of its juices are composed of 5-6 year old Machir Bay
-2013 Edition: Most of its juice is composed of 4 year old Machir Bay, but it's a mixture of 4 and 5-year old juice sourced from ex-bourbon casks, in which the 4-year-old cask was finished off into oloroso sherry butts for 4 weeks before bottling. All casks come from Buffalo Trace
-2012: 60% were 3 year old juice, 35% were 4-year-old juice, and 5% were 5 year old juice with casks that were matured in ex-bourbon casks from Buffalo Trace.
Flavour Profiles Overall with Comparisons and Similarities:
I think the Machir Bay 2014 edition offers a little bit of peppery note and it’s dryer than the previous edition toward the finish line. I feel that both the 2014 and 2013 have that classic sweetness--that vanilla touch-- and smoke bomb from beginning to middle. The salinity factor is true on all three. The 2012 has a it of hotness to it and it has a dry, ashy-like profile in addition to some seaweed notes, that I don't see in the 2014 and 2013 line. The current 2014 line offers. more sweetness as it seems creamier than the 2013 line, but it is also dryer towards the end, as the peppery notes and tannins are more pronounced. My favorite Machir Bay line is the 2014 Edition!
4 April 2015
-- Exclusive Malts --
A New Line of Expressions
7 April 2015
The Exclusive Blended Whisky 1991, 21 Year; 46% ABV:
Flavour (Neat): There's a dryness here that's filled with oak and grapefruit in the beginning that is balanced by malted barely. It's quite oak forward. On the finish, there's a touch of honey and green apples, but it gets back to grapefruit. Walnuts linger as well. I am reminded of coming across a Duncan Taylor Imperial 17 Year.
Flavour (w/drops of water): White cracked pepper and flour tortilla become quite present here. There's an undertone of grilled green bell peppers, but there's definitely a heavy dose of flour tortillas (I do have a soft spot for Mexican food), while an overtone of papaya lingers. Peppery notes become an assertive piece here like a Glendroanch 18 Year, but Glendronach 18 is filled with leather, dried-red fruits.
Overall: I'm not a big fan of this one because I prefer things sweeter, but that doesn't mean it's bad. I like that it's complex and I think it's a great scotch for someone who prefers super dry style kinds of scotches!
Exclusive Malts Strathclyde (Single Grain) 1988; 26 Year; 55.1% ABV
Flavour(Neat): The flavors move in a really quick fashion. It's like a magic show: Now you see it! Now you don't! Sorry. I'm looping Arrested Development on-line and I'm just inspired by Gob Bluth and his magic tricks! It starts off on a honey note--sweet and more full-bodied than a Glen Grant 16 Year. There's a black coffee over tone that hits the nasal cavity and on the finish it is bitter, filled with walnuts.
Flavour (w/drops of water): It gets sweeter with water. It's quite buttery and is filled with papaya a and honey, and the finish lends itself to flour tortillas and walnuts.
Overall: I enjoy this one quite a bit because it's complex and has a combination of sweet and bitter notes. I would definitely buy this one.
Exclusive Malts Glenrothes 2002; 12 Year 54.5% ABV
Flavour (Neat): Ooh! There's a wet cardboard beginning that's quite off-putting during the first sip. Luckily, that was the first shot. During the second sip there are no remnants of wet cardboard. Instead I get simple syrup, cantaloupes and honey. It is pretty sweet--like a cask strength Maker's Mark (yeh...I know that's a bourbon, but the sweet intensity and strength seem similar to me).
Flavour (w/drops of water): This is filled with walnuts and it lingers into papaya and honey. I have to say, the presence of wet cardboard seems more apparent here... There are elements of this that reminds me of Dalmore 15 Year, but with a higher proof. Spice and black coffee linger on the finish.
Overall: Hmm...You know Jim Murray, the whisky bible god? He has an aversion to sulphur...and I have an aversion to wet cardboard. Golly. I don't like this one. BUT maybe other people's palates won't pick up the wet cardboard expression and will like it.
The Exclusive Malts Glen Garioch 1994; 20 Year; 56.6% ABV
Flavour (Neat): Wow! What a supprise. A peated Glen Garioch. At one point, Glen Garioch DID produce smoky style scotches, but they stopped. This is aged in a peated cask. I love this one quite a bit, but I'm a smoke-nut! Ah ...this is like campfire smoke with an intensity of a Talisker. Hot dignity damn. It's so good to me. There's an undertone of papaya here and start fruit and honey is apparent. Sunflower seeds are also noticeable.
Flavour (w/drops of water): It gets ashy and dry with water. All of a sudden I get raspberry essences and nutty notes. It peeks up in peppery notes toward the finish with a back-end of papaya. I prefer drinking this without water.
Overall: Uh...this is right up my alley. I love the balance of smoke and sweetness here. It's like Maltman Ben Nevis 17 Year mated with Talisker 10. Unf. It is so good!
The Exclusive Malts BenRiach 1997; 17 Year; 54.3% ABV
Flavour (neat): Oh. This is interesting. It's sweet like a Glendronach 15 Year. Caramel is apparent here. Then all of sudden I get an faint, lingering aftertaste of Strawberry Starbursts During the first sip, it's unusual on the finish--like a port wine cask that is a little bit earthy and dirty but sweet all at the same time.
Flavour (w/drops of water): It's nutty and not as sweet when having it neat. There's an abundance of walnuts...there's an undertone of grapefruit that quickly leads to toasted almonds with a dash of honey.
Overall: I like this one. I think it's fun and a little bit quirky because of the earthy note. The earthy roots remind me of the Speyside Port Cask Exclusive Malts. And extra puntos for it tasting like Glendronach. hehe..they're the same company!
The Exclusive Malts Speyside 2004; 10 Year; 57.1% ABV
Flavour (neat): There's an earthy, vegetal note there that reminds me of tequila--like a Herradura Plata in the beginning that quickly leads to Honey Nut Cheerios cereal with a touch of zinfandel wine.
Flavour (w/drops of water): I like this with water a lot because there's a balance of oak and sweetness. There's a little bit of white cracked pepper here, but it's fun to see the flavors oscillate back and forth between honey and oak. Yummy! I prefer having this with water.
Overall: I like this one with water a lot. I think it's delicious.
The Exclusive Malts Auchroisk 2003; 11 Year; 56.4% ABV
Flavour (neat): Red apples, honey and pecans are the dominate flavor profiles here that remind of Westland Malt, Gordan MacPhail Mortlach 15 Year and Forty Creek Pot Still all rolled into one, but just high proof.
Flavour (w/drops of water): It sweetens up into caramel kettle corn that reminds me of Glendronach 15 year. There's a hint of leather here that is reminiscent to Arran Cask 1997 Sherry Cask. There's a bit of spice here. During the second sip it isn't as sweet as it is balanced out by oak and spice. Orange marmalade lingers on the finish. I really enjoy this one, both neat and with water. YUMMY! There's a little bit of char that I find in burnt wood, but not actual peat smoke. It's the type of "burnt" found in brick toast bread; still sweet but it's not like it's lit on fire and tastes of ash and char.
Overall: This is probably my favorite so far out of the bunch!
The Exclusive Malts Bowmore 1999; 15 Year; 54.2% ABV
Flavour (neat): Wow. Lots of lychee and passion fruit with a touch of briny smoke, the kind of smoke that I don't usually find in their core line. The smoke is in the backend while the tropical fruits are the dominate flavor. However, towards the end, the salty smoke pulls through towards the end and usurps lychee. I would say the smoke intensity is along the lines of Talisker 10 Year. I really like this one, too!
Flavour (w/drops of water): It gets dryer with water and all I'm left with is an after taste of mangoes and char smoke sprinkled with just touch of smoke. On the finish I get lots of toasted almonds.
Overall: I thought this was really good. Tropical fruit action is like a Jameson 18 or Barry Crocket. The smoke is like a Talisker 10 Year. This is great! Well, if you like these kinds of profiles.
The Exclusive Malts "Islay" 2007; 7 Year; 54.6% ABV
Flavour (neat): This is fun. It's got a briny smoke, in addition to milk chocolate and secondary hints of walnuts. On the finish, there's definitely a big emphasis of burning paper. It feels like waking up the next day and having all that ashy smoke in your lungs after you've smoked a giant cigar. It also smells like Malboro cigarets smoke.
Flavour (w/drops of water): There's an aftertaste of licorice and Apple Jolly Rancher candies. The smoke starts of soft like a Talisker and it gets more bold in terms of white peppery notes.