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Enjoying Scotch Whisky and a few other things

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Islay

The great Peat region!

Ardbeg “Airigh Nam Beist” Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

I finally opened up the BEIST! I acquired this one some time ago and consider it among my favorite Ardbeg offerings. Offered up at 46% ABV and non-chill filtered, this is what the Single Malt snob yearns for. Well, that is if they can handle the peatiness that an Ardbeg product typically brings. Though that is what I love about this BEIST. It has a delicate and sweet punch when enjoyed neat and is a bit creamy. A nice oily palate is your reward for letting it linger and run across your mouth. I added a wee bit of water to it and it really starts to show some sophistication. This is just one hell of a product.

Ardbeg describes it as “wonderfully creamy, smoky malt, suffused in woodsmoke with notes of fennel and pine nuts, topped with tingling limes”. I love the tingling lime part.I do not think of medicinal or iodine notes which usually accompany a strong Islay product. This beauty is refined, and unfortunately increasingly rare. Most people’s stocks have run dry, only collectors and people like myself have one kicking around. You can probably find one on the internet for around $200 USD. A good friend of mine in NYC fell in love with this dram after we went on a Scotch-Crawl in the city a few years ago. I did have to email her a picture of me drinking it of course just recently.

The BEIST is even gentle on exit, the lingering on your palate is even and fades slightly. I have to admit, it is with mixed emotion that I endeavor into this bottle, I know it won’t last long!

 
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Islay Mist Blended Scotch Whisky

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There is a saying, “Every now and then a blind squirrel finds a nut.” So I was a lucky squirrel the other day when I ran across this peculiar bottling of scotch whisky. I don’t recall ever seeing this and wouldn’t have if I did not stop over into the State of Maryland one day on a return from DC whisky shopping.

Islay whisky is iconic and most known these days for producing amazing single malts from Bowmore, Ardbeg, Laphroaig, and Lagavulin. Just to name a few which are my favorites. This Blended and affordable scotch whisky is marketed as a “blend of fine aged whiskies: the most distinctive of these being Laphroaig Single Islay Malt.” It is bottled by Macduff international.

Laphroaig is a favorite of mine and you can’t go too wrong starting with their spirit as the base. The marketing goes onto say it “appeals to contemporary tastes.” Nice way of saying this won’t knock your tastes buds off the way regular Laphroaig may.

It’s fairly light amber in color and gives off a very nice malt aroma with considerable depth. You do not notice the prevailing phenols that a quarter cask or ten-year Laphroaig may give you on the nose. At 40%ABV I choose to taste this neat, hold it on the tongue for a few seconds then let it go. It has a nice slightly warming presence with an excellent malt taste. It isn’t really rounded or complex and you can feel there is a predominate single malt playing nice with some other whiskies. Unfortunately, I still have a bit of a head cold so I can’t nail down everything I’m tasting but it is a decent dram. Not overly impressive but when you want some Islay malt and want something a bit different, or just cheaper this is a good route.

There is a nice oily quality and it does coat the mouth quite well. The finish is mostly clean but the oils do hang around. It’s an 8 year blended Islay that deserves a look. I’m glad I found it!

Cheers!

McClelland’s Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

To prove that I do not only drink expensive Single Malt whisky, you should know that brands like McClelland’s and others really can help me keep my spending down. McClelland’s Islay whisky is a single malt, and is a close relative to the prestigious Bowmore Single Malt whisky’s from Islay. How close? Well, you might say they share the same owner! Morrison Bowmore Distillers of Glasgow, Scotland. So you can be assured you are not purchasing some product that is not given someone’s full attention.

I’ve enjoyed this McClelland’s back to back with the Bowmore 12 and it is obvious they are related, though the Bowmore is clearly superior. With that said, the McClelland’s is fully representative of an Islay “peated” scotch. At half the cost of Bowmore 12-year-old it is worth trying. If you are into mixing scotch (with other inferior liquids) you would be well off working with this one.

While I do not get the same enjoyment out of this dram as I would a Bowmore 12 year (or lesser aged ones) I do enjoy saving a little money and its hard to appreciate different Islay offerings if you do not have something to compare them to. This would make a great addition to a bar for when you have that scotch lover show up, he/she will definitely be surprised!

Though the ABV% is 40, the Phenols are kickin! There is a wonderful oiliness on the palate also. This is a full mouth of Islay.

The Distiller’s tasting notes are as follows:

Colour:
Warm honey.
Body:
Full bodied and robust.
Nose:
Lingering wood cinders of tar and smoke, with just a trace of vanilla and a subtle citrus note.
Palate:
A strong Islay character with traces of sea salt and burnt oak chips. The smokey nature is apparent throughout; a malty vanilla flavour bringing balance to the overall taste.
Finish:
A powerful Islay aftertaste of sweet smoke with a hint of iodine.

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Cheers!

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte PC10 Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

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So another evening at Jack Rose Dining Saloon is like being a kid, just figuring out what to drink is an adventure. This particular night, Harvey Fry and I were chatting and he said the PC10 was in and was very good. I took his advice and ordered up some with my dinner. Harvey was keen on this one, which should have told me one thing, it’s bottled at the higher end of ABV%(59.8%).

There was indeed a very high kick from the alcohol on the nose! I was able to normalize though and the nose became very pleasant after adjusting to the alcohol. Tasting PC10 was a very hot experience, Peppermint, a flood of flavoring comes through on my palate, but not unbalanced or rude. This spirit is a ten-year product, the remarkable thing about tasting it is that it is rather complete. In other words, ten years is all you need for this product. Often I’ll taste something and I’d wish it would have additional time in the cask, but this one isn’t the case at all.

‘To say this whisky needs to age more is like saying Elizabeth Hurley should be prettier. It is perfect, and so is Liz.

I would drink this neat, the ABV% may spook you, but try it neat first. I think it is wonderfully done and it went great with scallops!

Cheers!

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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!

Bruichladdich Full Strength Scotch Whisky notes

The last trip I took to Jack Rose Dining Saloon in DC yielded yet another interesting and nearly extinct scotch. It’s hard to pick out something to drink when you have 1500 bottles staring you in the face, but this night one jumped out. Bruichladdich put out a line some time ago called “Full Strength.” The labeling is what you think, bottled at a high ABV, this one was at 57.1 or 114 proof! I thought, for some reason, this would be an excellent dram to try. Well, what you wouldn’t guess, unless you’ve had it, is that this is the smoothest 100 plus proof whisky I think I’ve drunk in some time. Very light and floral, very nice. It was bottled in 1989 after 13 years of aging. I’m really happy to say I have tried this Bruichladdich and if you happen upon this one do not hesitate to try it! I did, three times!

Cheers!

Bruichladdich Laddie Classic Ed. 01 Single Malt Scotch Whisky notes

A KATE MOSS RATHER THAN A MADONNA, AN AUDREY HEPBURN RATHER THAN A MARYLIN MONROE, A NATURAL ELEGANCE THAT IS BEYOND FAD AND FASHION – TRULY A CLASSIC BRUICHLADDICH!

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So the marketing department is a having a hard time explaining their new product, so would you go to nature to explain the wonderful elegance of your new spirit, NAH! Everyone does that, let’s talk about women! Well, I can’t blame them because it’s a darn good subject.

I’ve spotted Bruichladdich canisters a few times in stores and I am traditionally adverse to projects or products with over the top marketing because I think they are hiding something. Sometimes I’m right, sometimes wrong.

Bruichladdich Distillery, like many, have a past like most people. You hit rock  bottom, maybe shut down and then all of a sudden you are reincarnated. Bruichladdich distillery is one of those stories, and I am one of those people. So I can identify with struggles, hopes, pains, and occasionally victory that comes when you’ve been counted out to only come back stronger.

Jim McEwan, head distiller, and company have won many awards in the past few years for their efforts and have perhaps started a cult following. Curiosity has gotten the best of me along with some recommendations from www.Ralfy.com. The references to Kate Moss may have had an influence also.

So this is Bruichladdich’s “Laddie Classic” and it is described as “smooth, floral and elegant spirit, matured purely in American Bourbon Casks.

This bottle was filled in 2009 and is 46% ABV or 92 proof. It is un-chilled filtered, as God intended, and has no artificial coloring.

The nose is fairly floral and strong, even after wading through the alcohol fumes it holds up strong. Taste, complete, balanced and almost buttery was my first impression. Great mouth-feel and the finish comes up a little tart on the top of my tongue, then fades like a genteel waiter. First go at it, I like it, it’s a bit different, maybe like eating a tart green apple? Islay? Very different. The Peat that you would expect comes through on the second taste, and lingers around the edges of the palate.

The finish now reminds me of a Rosado cigar wrapper? Must try.

I sometimes put a little water in a scotch when I first taste it but have learned if I really like it neat, there is no need to go forward. Oh, sure, sometimes a flavor or two might come out, but I enjoy this one “as-is!”

Cheers Kate!

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