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theScotchlife

Enjoying Scotch Whisky and a few other things

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February 2013

Auchentoshan Classic Scotch Whisky

 

 

 

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Every now and then, you run across something in life that is so good, it must be wrong. Auchentoshan Classic may just be that for me. I’ve had this bottle for a few days, and it has been my nightly companion. It is so refreshing, crisp, and tasty that I just can’t seem to pull away from it. Auchentoshan is triple-distilled as opposed to the traditionally twice distilled scotch whisky which is standard. What comes from that process is a whisky that is real velvety, soft, and bright. It is like the first days of Spring. It makes you want to run through fields and chase cows (maybe that’s just me?)….

So what’s it like? Well, the distiller says notes of vanilla and coconut come through with some green apple. Well, I can’t argue that, in fact the coconut I really picked up on initially. The nosing is pleasant but the alcohol content really comes through even though it is only a 40% ABV dram. The flavor is an intensive citrus rush and the finish is clean. This brand reminds me of how refreshing a Lowlands whisky can be. It is really the only terrior (Lowlands) that gets me to entertain creating a mixed drink. Auchentoshan evidently thinks the same thing as they have mixed drink recipes on their website!

Being so versatile, this would make a great “first” scotch or an entry scotch whisky for someone who traditionally is a vodka or gin drinker. This would be a great bottle to stock in your bar if you can restrain yourself from constantly visiting it that is.

As far as cost, it is an affordable single-malt that I paid somewhere around $30+ USD for. I think it is a good price for a very drinkable whisky that most people will enjoy.

On another note, I just got firm plans about a visit to Auchentoshan in April. I will be going through Glasgow in route to Islay and I am very excited to visit Auchentoshan. It will be springtime, watch out cows!

 

The Balvenie Signature batch #5 Scotch Whisky

20130219-185328.jpgSignature, it’s quite a personal thing. Well, prior to email I guess. The Balvenie is a very crafty company, they control the whole process of making scotch whisky from the growing of the barley to the bottling of the final product. They are quite old-fashioned in their ways and I guess it is fitting that they would use the word “signature” on a product. I’m actually surprised that they didn’t have some of their staff engrave the script onto the bottles. I do love their whole presentation though, it’s the very definition of classic.

So the Signature today is the batch #5 that I was just thrilled to find this past weekend. I was on the hunt for obscure and cheaper whisky’s but when I saw this I could not resist. I had the batch #4 and I think I had #3, can’t really remember though. So this batch reminds me why I love the whole signature project and how much I really enjoyed the three cask process. A quick check of the Balvenie site doesn’t show it being a part of the range so I’m not sure if this is the last batch. It was about $50 in the store I found it.

So the particulars of this product. Well, it is unmistakably a Balvenie. It is self-described as honey & spiced, and that is quite perfect. As opposed to the Doublewood this whisky has considerable spice along with the honey Balvenie is known for. At 43% ABV this whisky actually carried quite a punch. I wouldn’t call this a lighter offering and is certainly more punchy than the standard Doublewood.

If you like single malts, and especially a lover of all things Balvenie I think you will enjoy this one also!

Cheers!

John Barr Blended Scotch Whisky

So today I finally got time to make a whisky run inside Washington DC and ended up close to the Maryland border so stopped in there also. My reward was picking up 4 bottles that I cannot pick up in Virginia, save one. One of these great finds was this 1.75L of Blended whisky. John Barr is new to me. Obviously it is nothing new in the UK and its story is worth mentioning.

As the story, albeit brief, goes there was a legal problem in the EU about Johnny Walker Red in 1977. While no great explanation is given, JW had to be withdrawn from a particular market. In came John Barr! It was evidently a label used for the market to fill the gap. The “brand” has been purchased by Whyte & Mackay, not sure when, who are experts in blended whisky. The very fact that W&M is involved in this endeavor made me purchase the product. If you do not know who Richard Paterson is, he is the master distiller for W&M and takes blending whisky seriously! If you don’t believe me, watch this.

John Barr, in the UK, comes in a choice of Red, Gold, or Black. What I found today just has a black label and no mention of “Black Label.” A quick Google search turned up an image of a bottle similar, yet smaller, that is described as a Reserve. This was tasted by tastings.com of Chicago and they rated it highly.

So? Is it any good? YES! A resounding yes! While I am not surprised due to W&M’s involvement I do feel some affirmation from trusting that W&M’s Paterson would never let an inferior product exist in his world. I mentioned a few posts ago that I was going to pursue less expensive yet good scotch whisky and I am so happy to report I have found one. This 1.75L cost me about $32 on sale, usually $40. At this price, you have a very nice daily drinker that you are not going to soon get tired of.

As for the particulars: Colour is Golden/Amber, Nose is malty and cries out quality malt. The taste is malty, Speyside honeyed with some crisp explosions of spice, I’m also going to guess there is some weighted Sherry Butt (cask or barrel) finishing going on here. The ABV is 43% (which I think is perfect) and I drank it neat, of course. The mouth-feel is very oily at first and it coats the palate quite well. I wanted to go eat Bacon with it!

I think that this is one of the best, if not the best 1.75L offerings I have ever tasted. I would be happy to have this in a decanter! I have asked the company to send me more information. If I receive more exact information on this product I will update this post.

UPDATE —

I haven’t heard any information back on this product so I don’t have any more to share. The only thing I would like to add is that this is about half full now and I noticed a very strong alcohol presence when I drank it today. It really came across as rubbing alcohol. I’m not sure if this was just due to me noticing it more or the chemistry is changing as air is introduced. Advice, you do not want to hold onto this one for too long.

Cheers!

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There is a lot going on with whisk(e)y these days!

I track news of whisky, especially scotch whisky on-line through Google. I have quite a bit of information dump into my inbox on a daily basis about the industry. What I am noticing, or thinking, is that the Whisk(e)y industry world-wide is at a tipping point. That is, it is gaining amazing potential. While this is a good sign for them, I think they should all (from Balvenie to Beam) be aware that there is an awful lot of people paying attention to the products hitting the shelf.

I do not think that the ‘ol US of A is merely content with any random whisk(e)y anymore. It must be good, no, it must have something special to offer! Do not just throw out some old stock with some clever marketing campaign! It better be right, or it better not hit the shelves.

I do feel strongly about this. This morning I saw that a whiskey from Waco, Texas beat out Balvenie and others in a tasting competition in London recently. This is being compared, whether it should or not, with California’s wine beating out Bordeaux (which I love) in 1976.

In the end, I think that the consumer of dark whisk(e)y is about to be in the driver seat, and the distiller chasing their loyalties. In the end, it’s a win for all of us.

Cheers!

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