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Enjoying Scotch Whisky and a few other things

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Highland

Glenfiddich 12 year Single Malt Scotch Whisky notes

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All hail the King of Scotch? Well, if you go by distribution, and I mean worldwide distribution then this may as well be the King.

The Glenfiddich is a very old distillery and I do have one friend who will drink nothing but Glenfiddich 18 which is a very nice dram indeed. But this is the 12 year and as  you can see, the special Glencairn tasting set offering that is in distribution as of this writing.

The set is very nice, it comes with a whisky diary that is has a calendar in it and a few pages in which you can review/rate each whisky you taste. It also comes with a Glencairn glass which is the glass I use most often when tasting if I am not using a tulip nosing glass.

This Glenfiddich 12 is a very nice, gentle scotch whisky that in my book would be a good first scotch to try. I have said that before about The Glenlevit and a few others and I will add this to a “must try” for the novice scotch drinker.

This is a single malt scotch whisky that has spent 12 years in an European as well as an American Oak cask. The result is a very soft and fruity whisky that has the distinct flavor of pears. The nose is not overly telling and I’m not sure how much time it spent in an Oloroso Sherry cask but I do not think of long. The ABV content is 40% and the finish is pleasant and even. Using the “grading scale” that is on the pages, I rated it a 8.5 on the nose (which in retrospect may be generous), a 6 on taste and a 5 on finish. The points are out of a possible 10. This is a nice everyday drinking scotch and many occasional drinkers would be more than pleased with this one. However, if you prefer a Macallan 12 as a daily drinker this one will come up short.

The set is nice and I always like to pick up a Glencairn glass when I can. This was offered as a special in my area and if you come across it you may want to check it out.

Cheers!

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Dalmore 14 year Single Cask tasting

There is a certain pain being a scotch enthusiast in America. That being that there is a massive body of water in between the distilleries in Scotland and our taste buds being parked in North America. Yet a few retailers have seen fit to ship products over to us and for this, I am thankful!

So my most recent order from Master of Malt held a few goodies that I wanted to try and one bottle of Edradour that a retailer in California had but by law could not ship to the Commonwealth of Virginia. WTF! So I’m not going to get into a rant about the idiotic laws between the States in America and their agreements to sale or not to each other, but in times when we need all of the money to change hands in this country to support jobs, I’m just at a loss. And so is a shop in California.

So two of the small 3cl bottles I ordered contained something very unusual. An actual Dalmore single cask tasting. If you enjoy the Dalmore, as I do, you are used to the usual complex offering that Richard Paterson assembles with single malts in various casks to achieve a unique offering. These offerings are very nice and win awards, but they do not market a single cask to my knowledge. So seeing this 14 year aged product distilled in 1996 was a must try, and it has left me begging for, a full bottle!

I drank the first one about a week ago and was so impressed with its freshness and difference compared to other Dalmore offerings. You immediately notice that this does not have a sherry nose or color. The nose was light and if I was unaware of what I was about to drink I would guess a Speyside offering. The ABV is 55.5% which is quite a bit higher alcohol content than what Dalmore’s typical offerings are at. This was not lost on me when I took the first sip! It’s like a rose garden exploding in your mouth! But like Dalmore offerings quietly leaves a great mouthfeel and actually left me begging for more.

I do taste a lot more than I write about, pesky day job and all keeps me down, but I had to make note of this one! I would encourage you to try out the Master of Malt offerings, it’s the only way to get unique offerings on this side of the Pond (known officially as the Atlantic Ocean) and I loved tasting this “naked” Dalmore offering.

Cheers!

Tomatin Single Malt Scotch 12 tasting notes

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I recently discovered a new Highland Scotch that is evidently quite well known in Scotland. According to Michael Jackson’s Single Malt Scotch guide, Tomatin is as big as Glenfiddich and in 1950-1970 period was one of the largest distillery outfits in the world. After that it was well used in making other blends but wasn’t recognized as a stand alone scotch. After picking up a bottle on special for around $25 dollars I think this may be one of the biggest finds in the USA in affordable scotch.

It has an unmistakable Highland quality to it. It reminds me a bit of an unpolished Macallan. It is finished in sherry casks which give it color and great sherry wood taste. I figured for the money, it was worth a shot! I was pleasantly rewarded with a bottle that I would consider a good mid-line scotch that could compete in the mid-range price level. It was only after a few drams that I actually decided to add a wee bit of water to see what happened. The result is I will always add a wee bit of water to this whisky! With water this turns into a very sweet, mellow malty whisky. I find it quite refreshing actually. It is also a good candidate for a medium to full cigar. I am going to smoke a Carlos Torano 1916 with it tonight and expect good things.

If you are new to scotch or want to get into single malts, this would be a good place to start. This is a much better scotch, to me, than a Glenlivet 12 or Johnny Walker Black. This is a true single malt, and they are hard to beat by a low level blend. For the record, MJ’s guide scores the Glenlivet ten points higher than the The Glenlivet is a single malt, but I think its commonplace makes it less interesting than the Tomatin 12.

If you happen to come across this whisky and the price is south of $40 U.S. I would give it a try!

Cheers!

Glenmorangie Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky – The Original tasting notes

So two reasons why I’ve picked out the ever present Glenmorangie “The Original” to write about today. First, it is in most bars in America that offer a Scotch above JW Black Label and two, the ABC of VA has it on sale this month. The whole line up of Glenmorangie to me is a very pleasant and approachable Scotch whisky line. This may be the whisky you choose to drink and its a great one to try out on your non-scotch drinking buddies.

The Original is ten years old and is a very mature one at that acting much like a twelve. The only thing I think that is truly ten-year about it is its considerable alcohol “burn-off” when nosing it. That being said, I do love the nose, it really jumps up and says here I am, I’m a good whisky. What I also enjoy about it is the mouth-feel. I really love an oily and viscous scotch and this one really delivers. I’d love to pare this one with some seafood…. (damn, I just remembered I have some seafood I need to cook!). Oh well.

The distiller notes/marketing content states that the Original has perfect balance and an alluring complexity. I won’t argue with that. It has an alcohol by volume rate of 43% and like I said earlier, it certainly lets you know on the nose and the first couple of sips. Then it seems more agreeable, and by the way, I do drink scotch neat, meaning without water or ice.

I really like this scotch and will most likely keep a bottle on hand at all times. You can find more info at http://www.glenmorangie.com

Cheers!

Edradour Natural Cask Strength, Bourbon Cask, a challenging dram

In coming up with some tasting notes and thoughts on this single malt that was bottled at full strength I found myself struggling. My struggle was two parts, first I paid extra for an unknown whisky to be shipped to me from the UK so I expected it to be interesting. Secondly, I found this whisky to be very challenging to categorize. I like to be able to taste a whisky and say, this is what I would do with this whisky (drink with meat, seafood, and I’d smoke it with this or that cigar or type of cigar). After tasting this single malt that was aged solely in a bourbon cask from Kentucky I’m not sure that what I tasted lived up to what I thought it would taste like.
Having tasted a Bushmills Malt 10 that was aged in some Kentucky bourbon casks I probably had more of that feel in mind and what I actually got from the Edradour was not even close. Nosing the whisky is a bit familiar, soft vanilla notes etc… I did not pick up any Highland notes and thought that most of the nose was coming from Kentucky.
I previously said I ordered this product hoping it would be interesting, well, when I tasted it I got what I paid for, only the interesting led to some confusion. This was not a product my palate found familiar. I was actually at a loss, the best I can say is that it has a lot of heat (alcohol burn) and a bourbon mixed with scotch sort of finish. Not what you’d call stellar notes! Like other whiskies or cigars that have left me confused I thought I’d wait, try it again and see what happens.
Well, tonight I poured myself another generous dram and nosed, sipped, same reaction, then it occurred to me, the ABV(alcohol by volume) is fairly high, I might put some water in it. So I did, and then thought, maybe just a little more (I don’t think I’ve ever done this). Bingo. All of a sudden with the alcohol content knocked down I could really start to see the flavors. It all made sense to me and I found myself pleasantly pleased that I had found a fix for this whisky.
By the way, the whisky is a bit viscous or oily. I think this would be a great whisky with pork. I did rather enjoy this alongside a CAO La Traviata maduro and think that it would mate well with full-bodied cigars at the full strength. To me, and I’m not sure I will ever say this again, but I’d knock down the alcohol content with some fresh water and enjoy it with a variety of foods and even some medium bodied cigars. That is, if you are in the UK. I don’t think you will find this one washing up on American soil any day soon.

Oban 14 notes

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Fortunately for us, the good people at Oban are not reality show actors, but some fine folks who have developed a fine whisky. The distillery is described by MJ’s guide to single malt scotch as a small town with a small distillery. MJ’s guide makes reference to Oban not being (previously) taken serious in comparison with the other powerful highland signatures. The Oban 14 is aimed at changing that suggestion.

It noses light, but pleasant. There are notes of seaweed and references to the sea in MJ’s book on this product and I really cannot add to it, except to say I haven’t eaten or smelled seaweed lately. I do find the nose delicate and pleasant.

In tasting it, which I do after a generous nosing that on this one made my mouth water, the whisky delivers a quick flash of excitement that quickly goes away clean. Tastes are light, but I do note some citrus, maybe a bit of a grapefruit, there is no complexity or bitters but a very nice and clean whisk of liquid. It is almost like sitting on the beach, watching an energetic burst of tide come and go. Who doesn’t like that?

I was smoking a Gurkha Regent Torpedo with it, not because I thought it was a great pairing, but because I was tired from doing home projects for two days. I did feel that the two worked nicely with each other and would not hesitate to recommend the two together.

This whisky would be great with lighter foods, seafoods, and would be great just enjoyed by itself.

I really liked this whisky, and now that summer is coming I was hoping for some refreshing new tastes from Scotland to enjoy. I think that I have definitely found one.

Dalwhinnie Single Highland Malt 15yr. notes

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I received a three pack recently from Loch Fyne of the UK. It contains Glenkinchie 12, Dalwhinnie 15, and Oban 14. They are three scotch whisky’s that represent the “lighter” side of scotch.

The Single Malt Whisky Flavour Map, put together by Diageo and David Bloom places the Dalwhinnie 15 at dead even between the smoky and delicate sides and solidly in the Light category (as opposed to Rich).

When I first nosed it I noticed some highland characteristics, Macallan like which lies on the far end of the Rich category but on par basically with being between Smoky and Delicate. After tasting it I understood.

This is a really good whisky and is quite light on the palate. But it is not light on flavor by any means. To me it is quite floral and exhibits great fruit like ability. Its described as a good aperitif in MJ’s single malt scotch guide. The whisky is self-titled as The Gentle Spirit, I agree.

I was tasting this while outside just enjoying a post lunch smoke and it actually complemented, to an extent, the medium flavored cigar. The cigar is a Cortez, a boutique type cigar with headquarters in New Jersey (of all places!).

If you are trying to find a place to start drinking scotch, you would do yourself good to start with this excellent spirit.

Dalmore Gran Reserva – A Cigar smoker’s essential scotch whisky

I’m almost at a loss here because I could talk in wild rambling circles about my experience of meeting Richard Paterson in Las Vegas at the Nth event recently and sharing a cigar with him and the new upcoming re-release of The Cigar Malt by Dalmore. There are some things that defy words, or maybe the right vocabulary just escapes me, whichever, this is simply a whisky you must own if you smoke cigars and consider yourself a scotch drinker.

So there was once, The Cigar Malt, then, because of a mis-perception of what the scotch was all about (people actually believed they put tobacco in the scotch) they renamed it, The Gran Reserva. Well, then cigar smokers who enjoyed it said, WHAT they HEY! Where did it go, well, nowhere actually. So, I do not have the final marketing notes yet but rest assured that The Cigar Malt will find its way back onto this wonderful whisky. In the meantime, The Gran Reserva isThe Cigar Malt. Make sense? Well just go buy it. Damn.

In Michael Jackson’s Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch it is described as a “complement rather than a contrast” to a cigar. If you are not sure what that means, fire up a cigar and pull out an Ardbeg Corryveckran and you may get it. Please, only choose this combination if you know what you are doing. You might want to have a side of bacon ready. If you are an Ardbeg fan, you know what I mean!

The Gran Reserva whisky is comprised of a blend of single malt highland whisky’s between 10 and 20 years old. It, to me, is as balanced as a complex whisky can get. And surprisingly this is not an $80 USD whisky but drinks much better to me than some that command that price. I tend to favor a medium to full cigar that delivers good flavor. I tend to always like a puro Nicaraguan cigar but am surprised by some blends with the Nicaraguans also. This whisky may drown out a light cigar like a Montecristo #2 or Macanudo but certainly would be a better experience than a Glenlevit or Johnny Walker (pick a color).

Here are some of the notes from Michael Jackson’s Guide on the whisky:

Palate – Rich, rounded. A hint of rum butter, then dryish and firm. Hard caramel toffee. Hint of burned sugar. Faint smoke. Never cloying. Finish – Light, smoky, wood bark, ground almonds, dryness.”

I put that in there for those who actually like tasting notes, I’d describe it as frickin perfect!

As Richard would say, Slainte Mhath!

A must have for any cigar smoker
The Cigar Malt[/caption

La Reloba Sumatra – My Fathers Cigar

For those who aren’t familiar with the Don Pepin branding, No, my father did not smoke this cigar. In fact, he was a non-filter Camel smoking man for 60 years. He did not die of cancer. Go figure.

Anyhow! This is a cigar that has been in my humidor since the last great smoke out in NY held by Cigar Aficionado. It was one of the many given out to those who attended and tonight was its lucky night. I should say that tonight was MY lucky night.

I had previously smoked a Gurkha regent while cooking tonight and after smoking a few of those have become familiar with them and do enjoy them. I’m not so sure if I will reorder but would not hesitate if I found a deal. The La Reloba, however, has just hit my MUST GO BUY list. Since I didn’t actually pay for this cigar I was unsure if it was a $7 to $8 cigar. To my surprise this beauty is made for the $5 to $6 dollar range (depending on your local taxes of course!).

To me this is everything a staple, mild/medium cigar should be. Smooth draw, great burn and good flavor. I even loved the way the ash burnt perfectly throughout and when the ash dropped off it showed off by sticking the landing straight up (see the picture). There is also a version of this with a habano wrapper.

This has the potential to be the favorite t-shirt kind of cigar. No need to fret, just pull it out and smoke it, regardless of the occasion. I’ve had a few cigars the past day or so that peppered my tongue relentlessly and this was a great departure from that.

I enjoyed it was a glass of The Dalmore’s Gran Reserva, which was made by Richard Paterson as a complement to cigar smokers, and I am beginning to believe I am not going to find a cigar that does not go well with this dram.

Well enjoy, buy yourself some La Reloba Sumatra’s, some Dalmore Gran Reserva and have yourself a wonderful time.

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