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theScotchlife

Enjoying Scotch Whisky and a few other things

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October 2012

Bunnahabhain 12 year Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

For starters, it is pronounced, Bun na h-Abhainn. Hope that helps. As with my last post, this is another whisky from Islay. And as I mentioned previously, Islay scotch whisky is typically associated with lots of Peat taste from burning it to dry out the malted barley. I also mentioned that not all of the whisky produced in Islay shares this method, this 12 year is a good example of that.

Certainly a finer scotch but not outrageously expensive. Especially for single malts. This one however has one quality shared with the Laphroaig and it comes from the alcohol content. The nosing of this dram reveals its 46.3% ABV. And it doesn’t go away. In a nosing glass it stays strong, and in a larger glass it is more bearable. But the ethanol is so strong that its hard to pick up on what’s about to hit your palate. There is a little smokiness that come across, but unlike some drams, I do not know what to expect.

When the whisky hits the tongue, it’s a mini-explosion. Tastes do come out but this is a fairly hot whisky and its one where the smoke has to clear so that you may enjoy the finish. To me, it comes across a bit thin. Lightly floral, but not exactly what I’d call rounded or complex. It’s a bit spicy and I think this would go well with spicy food.

According to the Bunnahabhain website, this is a repackaged product. I know there are some people out there that really like this brand and I tasted the whole line some time ago. Like then, I think it is a good mid-player in the single malt whisky arena but not on par with some.

I added some water to see if the nosing would improve, it did, but not wildly. I do enjoy this a bit more with water, some of the flavors that I did not notice before are coming out. This is definitely a whisky that I would add water to for  enjoyment. It is non-chill filtered and I do like that aspect of it, I just can’t say this is one of my favorites or a “go to” whisky. But as I always tell people, try it, you make like it!

Cheers!

Laphroaig Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky Quarter Cask

Peat. Its a wonderful natural substance that grows in the soils of Scotland as well as many places around the world. When it isn’t enriching soil, it is making a serious influence on the Isle of Islay in Scotland by heaping itself onto the fires drying out the malted barley. If you are new to scotch, this is not my recommended “first drink.” Or third, fith, etc….

You see, Laphroaig is a special whisky. It has special properties, kind of like hell has a special temperature. Peat reins supreme in this Quarter Cask offering and at 48% ABV it has a delivery mechanism courtesy of alcohol that is akin to driving a Ferrari through a small parking lot with the throttle stuck.

Although when you first pour a dram of it, it looks quite tame and ordinary as colours often do in scotch. Yet you dont’ have to get your nose all the way into the glass to know that you have something quite special, and if of the faint of heart, risky in your hands.

The extreme kick of phenols of some Islay scotch’s like this one have caused some people to refer to the nosing of such a glass as being akin to iodine or some other medicinal substance. It does have medicinal properties! More on that later.

When you nose this glass the ethanol kicks you right in the nose and says get ready, here I come. The tasting is no different. There is no all promise and no delivery in this product. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Who would drink such a thing. Well, other than native Scots, I’d say there are many around the World who really enjoy this type of whisky. My first love of Scotch was a Bowmore product, also in the Islay family yet much more of a gentleman. This Quarter Cask is a great representation of what can be done with whisky and the elements that surround Scotland.

I would try to translate the taste to you but it would fall short. This is something you have to experience and then you will see there is nothing quite like it. I drank this neat, but since it is quite complex I would recommend some water. It is not chill-filtered so is not geared toward adding ice as it will cloud up.

As for the medicinal value, tonight I had quite a sour stomach due to the excellent pot roast I  made. My stomach didn’t quite agree with me though. I had a about an ounce or so of some of this whisky and within minutes, the sourness was gone.

Cheers!

The Balvenie 17 year Doublewood

Oh yes! Stopped into the Virginia ABC store today and while trolling through the scotch aisle I came upon the new release from Balvenie. Balvenie experienced great success with their 17 year line that has been released over the past few years and now they have complimented it by taking their usual Doublewood whisky and brought it to a mature level of 17 years. The entry or as i like to call it “gateway” to The Balvenie line of scotch is the Doublewood and it is a fabulous scotch. The regular Doublewood can be had for around $50 U.S. and the 17 year comes in north of $120. I wasn’t planning on finding this and was very happy and thought this would make a great dram to review since I have basically been on hiatus for several months now.

It is fall in the D.C. area and the beautiful colors of fall are starting to emerge. This 17 year’s color is right on time! It’s appearance is a beautiful amber that matches the hardwoods in my backyard. It looks like it has some beautiful coloring in it that can only come from time in the right casks.

The nose is candy like and leads me to think this is going to be a very warm and smooth whisky. The ABV count is 43% and there is no alcohol kick as I stick my nose firmly into the Glencairn glass.

It tastes like butter. I love butter! And it tastes just like it smells. It is warm, not hot. It coats the tongue evenly and and is very well rounded. It does not burn. You can leave it in your mouth for many seconds and just enjoy the dram.
The finish is polite, and it is simply a home run! It is a very easy drinking scotch, almost too easy. Some may be wishing for a higher ABV but this is simply a civilized scotch that would feel at home in a ballroom or your living room. What you get is a much deeper and mature experience that you would not get from the regular Doublewood offering. Be warned, this drinks really easy. I did not add any water to this, as I do not to any Balvenie product.

It is a bit pricy, especially in these times so if you can find a friend who enjoys whisky team up and go find this offering.

Thanks again Balvenie!

Cheers!

 

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