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Enjoying Scotch Whisky and a few other things

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Speyside

Balvenie Signature tasting notes

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It is with much admiration I write anything about The Balvenie products and this is no different. You can go to their website and you will see their marketing about how they control the whole production of their product from grain to barrel and in a world where so much is borrowed or outsourced it is refreshing that someone in this day and age can control costs and still produce a fantastic authentic product.

The Balvenie Signature which is aged 12 years is an absolute hit. I actually had to travel to Georgetown, DC and purchase it because Virginia’s ABC doesn’t stock it. That means I had to only travel five miles from my office so it’s not like it was a hike. I also picked up a couple of expressions that ABC of VA doesn’t carry also and will talk about them soon.

But back to the Signature. As with all Balvenie products it comes down to Malt Master Dave Stewart to produce their fine expressions and he really hit this one right. A combination of single malt barrels from three different cask types brings it all together. You can call it blended if you like but I do prefer the vatted or married analogy when you are talking about mingling single malts. The nose is very nice and very Balvenie. I quite like the spice of it that is stronger than their Doublewood and the spirit hits the tongue like a grand dive of an Olympian. It lingers nicely and absolutely begs to be drank neat to me.

The only problem I’ve had is seeing the bottle deplete so quickly. Luckily we’re not talking about a $100 product, I think I paid somewhere in the $30-$40 dollar range and can’t wait to get another one.

As an aside, I’ve smoked a couple of cigars with it, tonight was a Park Avenue 44 which kind of got buried by the scotch and then an E.P.Carillo which paired much better.

So to clear it up, this is a great DD or daily drinker. I will buy this product again and will continue my trek through the Balvenie lines. I do have most of the 17 year products now and recently snagged one of the few remaining Islay Casks from the U.K. thanks to a good friend.

Word on the street is the Balvenie boys tour with the Morgan will be coming to the DC area in the near future and I’m really looking forward to it. You can find information on their website.

Until next time,

Cheers!

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Pinwinnie Royal Scotch Whisky

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Once in a while, someone pulls out an old whisky that they got from a parent or friend that is so old no one is sure where it came from or what it is. Some time ago a family friend who knew of my interest in scotch offered me an old and odd bottle of whisky. The graphics were obviously dated and the bottle looks like it had aged more than the actual whisky. The name read Pinwinnie Royal Scotch Whisky and still had the advertising/marketing information with it. I was eager to try it and was very surprised to find it a very drinkable whisky.

This Easter I had it again at his house and googled it and promised him I’d find out some information about it. Turns out it’s a long discontinued whisky that was handed over from the original Pinwinnie distiller to Inverhouse and has since been discontinued. From the packaging and marketing, I think it is from the late 1960’s.

The whisky is surprisingly good, very soft and rounded. When I nosed it I thought it may be a Speyside product, I was happy to see I was somewhat correct in that. I actually enjoy drinking it and actually get a kick out of it being a bit odd. I love finds like this one, they are uncommon and for someone who is inquisitive its a fun pursuit to find out information about it. If you have any, enjoy, there isn’t any left! And yes, I do intend on getting the rest of the bottle from him, if not, I will just keep visiting.

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Montecristo white label #2

I picked up this smoke at a local shop only because I’d heard people refer to it while sampling some Dalmore Cigar Malt in Vegas. I was curious to the flavor of it, I’m not a Montecristo regular, and how it would pair with a Dalmore whisky. Now I picked the #2 white label on the advise of the well-educated gentleman at the tobacco shop. He explained that the Ecuadorian Connecticut shade wrapper would give me a little bit more flavor, which I insist upon.

I did not have dram in hand, that I remember, when smoking this cigar. What I do remember was that this was not a very powerful cigar. As I referred to an earlier article, this cigar is taken largely from the lower leafs on a plant, they are shielded from the sun and do not produce as much flavors as the leaves further up the plant. The cigar is marketed as a rich, creamy and flavorful, well-rounded smoke. I’ll go with creamy, flavorful, to an extent, but rich, not so much. I have a hard palate, I drink black coffee and I drink whisky neat. To me this cigar is a great golf cigar or a pre-dinner cigar. It doesn’t challenge my palate much and if I’m around friends just enjoying the conversation this cigar would be just fine. But as someone who is trying to awaken and challenge my palate, not so much.

As far as pairing it with whisky, I would not choose a Dalmore. To me a Dalmore has way too much flavor to it, due to the excellent work of “The Nose” Richard Paterson, and I would think a Dalmore would overpower the Montecristo #2. I recently imbibed on some 12yr Dalmore and thought a medium to full cigar would be a better match. If you want guidance on a Dalmore, I recently smoked a Gurkha Regent Torpedo and I think it would be up to the task.

To me, the #2 would be best suited with a great Speyside, non-peated, whisky. I’d like to try it with a Balvenie expression.

One impression I do remember at full smoke was that a great, out of the oven yeast roll would be at home along side this cigar. It was the most exact pairing I could think of since that taste was coming through.

The Balvenie 17 year releases – tasting notes

At the Nth in Las Vegas recently, I was in a Masterclass with The Balvenie Ambassadors. The gentlemen had scraped together their resources and brought us the entire 17 year line of Balvenie offerings. I have to say, although I have admired the marketing of Balvenie for some time I have never been one to try varieties of The Balvenie. That has changed.

We started the tasting with the Madeira Cask. At first, the Madeira Island is off of the coast of Africa. Not in Spain.

The nose offers up floral and fruits. The actual taste is a bit different, some plums, raisins, and cigar smoke. Confusing. Though this sounds heavy the finish was very light. Of all of the 17 this was the only one I have notes on as having a light finish.

Then we have the 17yr. Rum Cask. As you would expect, brown sugar, caramels, and bananas jump out of the glass. On the palate, bananas and I thought liquorice. It was a very different scotch offering for me, I’m sure some would really enjoy it, rum lovers come to mind.

I have a greater appreciation now for Olosoro Sherry wood. The 17yr Sherry Oak really shines with fruit. On the nose, Sherry wood, caramels, and creme brulee. On the tongue, I got caramels and again, bananas. Very fruity, very much a dessert type of scotch. This one really breaks the mold of what the average person thinks of as scotch.

And now, Oak, yes, American White Oak. It is a wonderful thing! The 17yr. New Oak is a real crowd pleaser in my eyes. Very light on the nose, and smooth, silky cream with slight smoke on the palate. I think that this is an easy introduction to scotch for a non-scotch drinker.

And for the record, I really like Bourbon. The 17yr. New Wood Balvenie really hits a bourbon drinker in the sweet spot. Having used bourbon barells for a considerate time. This spirit has a very sweet vanilla taste. I was told that possibly Jim Beam barrels were used. The finish left a nice butterscotch  and sugars on my tongue. I really like this one!

“And now for something completely different!” – MP.

The Balvenie 17yr. Islay Cask. (pause) yes, lets take Balvenie and let it rest in a Laphroaig cask. Brilliant! This is a hard to write about, but a wonderful peated scotch from Balvenie is a rare, and unusual thing. I have yet to get my hands on this one but will look for it. If you come across it try it. Or buy it. If you don’t like it, you can find a buyer, I promise.

Finally, a peated offering called Peated Cask. 17yr. and a bit lighter than the Islay cask. The Balvenie architects came up with a special peat rendering to develop this one. It has a traditional vanilla and smooth texture to it with a kick of peat. It is nice.

All seven of these Balvenie’s share a common DNA. That of Honey Sweetness, and of course the guidance of David Stewart. It should be noted that Balvenie is not owned by a corporation. They are family owned and enjoy that freedom. I am particularly fond of their traditional marketing and attention to detail in how they craft their whisky. I do entrust that they will continue their excellence.

As a side, The Balvenie is having a bit of a “road trip” through America with two ambassadors. You can find out more at their home page. I will probably post something exclusively about that event soon.

I would encourage you to explore these offerings and if you have any of them, you might want to secure  some more if you can. They are limited(hint).

Pairing: The Glenrothes with Rockfish and sweet potato, perfecto!

I recently sampled the Glenrothes line and was very pleased. Although I had many vintages then, I’m not so lucky here in Virginia, less selection no doubt. But the Select Reserve was on sale so I bought it. I checked the company’s website and watched a video about the Select Reserve, in a nutshell it is supposed to represent the soul of The Glenrothes.

I really love the bottle, short and squatty, which just looks like a jug that wants to be your friend and used frequently! Also, in a pinch taken to a white linen affair. The tasting notes are on the front and are quite accurate to my taste. They are “ripe fruits, citrus, vanilla, hints of spice.” I’d say they know their product. Cannot add much to help.

So I picked up some fresh pacific rockfish and a sweet potato. Yes, the meal was delicious, but what I did not know is that I had selected a perfect single malt scotch whiskey to pair with it. The nose of the select reserve is so pleasing and the citrus vanilla complemented the sweet potato so well. It was so perfect I just had to write about it. Well, go pick up some Select Reserve and sweet potatoes and enjoy!

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