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theScotchlife

Enjoying Scotch Whisky and a few other things

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!

 

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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!

Speyburn 10 year Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky

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Today I was checking out a liquor store that I haven’t been in before. It is located in a “high rent district” and I thought that it may hold some secrets that I haven’t seen before…. Well it just happened that today the display as you walk in held this Speyburn bottle along with a Speyburn branded flask (not pictured). I really don’t think I’ve tasted this product before, and before I purchased it I googled it really quick to make sure it wasn’t a total waste. What I saw was a lot of responses that echoed that this was an undervalued scotch whisky and were confused at its low price. I bought it.

Now I really don’t need another flask, I’ve got a couple already. But I did make it a point to find less expensive scotch whisky options this year because it is really easy to find great scotch whisky at a high price, but not so easy at a lower one. Or is it?

This Speyburn offering is really nice. It has a really nice nose and your palate gets a nice punch from the fresh fruit and spirited Speyside expression that this whisky is.

What is more important than the tasting notes is the fact that this ranks into a very specific range for me. It is first, and foremost, a very good, very tasty scotch whisky. Secondly, it is a very drinkable scotch whisky. Third, it is very affordable. Borderline cheap.

This is a really great whisky to taste. It’s nose is lively, it’s lively on the palate and has a wonderfully aggressive finish that makes you want another dram. This came in at around $27 USD for me. I’d give it a go if I were you!

Cheers!

Edradour Caledonia 12 Year Old Whisky

004Tonight I decided to pop open a sample of Edradour that I purchased from Master of Malt some time ago. The bottle says 46% ABV and I really don’t remember why I purchased this one other than I really enjoy the Edradour line. During my hiatus this past year from blogging, I must have failed to write down my thoughts on one that I had purchased. It was really good, I found it originally while at Jack Rose one evening and went in search of a bottle. It was a ten year aged Edradour, but not of the current line, it was distilled back in 2000 or 2001 I think. Wish I’d taken down some damn notes.

Anyhow, this one appears deep amber and has a wonderful and bit mysterious nose to it. There is a great concentration and balance to it yet I’m having a bit of a hard time pinning down what I’m smelling. Without checking, I’d say this was finished in a Sherry Cask.

The taste reveals just what the nose implied, wonderfully balanced. Wonderful oily consistency and rounded. And the finish is Macallan like, yet more punch to the lingering. This is really good stuff! I can hold it on my palate for as long as I want, just a little tingle from the alcohol on the tip of the tongue. A wonderful finish.

After tasting I’m going to wander of to MoM and see what it originally said that made me want to purchase:

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Sweet, creamy and honeyed, with notes of Manuka honey, hints of dried fig and date, soft sherry and a hint of oak.

Palate: Full and rich with notes of berry fruits, and honey and butter on granary toast. More sherry, caramel and toasted almond.

Finish: Spicy, dry and sprinkled with a dusting of cocoa.

As usual, way more expressive than my ten-dollar palate. But, I do agree with the Finish completely.

Evidently, this is a single cask offering made in honor of Douglas Maclean and his song Caledonia. It was finished in a Oloroso Sherry Cask (12 years) which is exactly what I was tasting. Distilled in 1997.

If you like Sherry Cask offerings, this is a good one!

Cheers!

Lismore Single Malt Speyside Scotch Whisky

Today I decided to visit a liquor store in Middleburg, Virginia that I’ve been meaning to go to. It’s a bit anti-climatic, The State or “Commonwealth” of Virginia controls its liquor stores so the inventory doesn’t vary much. What I have discovered is that once in a while you might find something at one store that you haven’t seen before. Today was one of those instances. Sitting beside a happy bottle of Glenfarclas 10 year was this Lismore Single Malt. It was about $25 USD so I thought maybe I have found a new inexpensive Single Malt whisky.

One of my hopes this year is to cover more inexpensive scotch whisky which is typically blends. So I’m not off to a good start. But it is cheaper!

I was a little apprehensive so I actually googled this whisky first, picked up the reviews I could see to make sure I wasn’t purchasing a dog. After confirming I wasn’t I decided to open her up and see what she’s made of……..

It’s not overwhelming in presentation (bottle included) nor is the color rich or nose anything special. What it does have going for it is what I typically look for though. Good malt flavor, manageable alcohol influence, and decent mouth-feel.

The good news is that it does possess these qualities. The most prominent component is the finish. It is a bit raisin like to me, first taste almost liquorice but subsequent tastes mellow. It’s only 40% ABV so I would not normally add water to this but in doing so I find it does feel a little more round. If you are an ice drinker I think it would hold up but I really don’t want to try that personally.

As far as age, there is no statement. Expect this more and more as Distillers such as Macallan is going away from it. Age in no way guarantees you of a good product, but for those of us who appreciate aged products it does cause us a bit more work if we are unfamiliar with the product. So Scotch Whisky must be aged at least three years according to law. My guess is that this one is 5 to 7 years of age. It may even be married single malts, not sure.

It is however good, how good? It’s a good daily drinker. It’s worth being chosen over many known single malts in the mass distribution category. It’s much better than some expensive blends.

I hope this helps, if you are passionate about scotch whisky like myself, you should always experiment and this one is worth your time.

Cheers!

Lismore Single Malt

The Macallan 25 year old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

On New Year’s Eve day I stopped into McCormick & Schmick’s in Reston Town Center for a dram. I was looking for something special and since I had no plans to stay out all night I figured this was my chance to have a special New Year’s Eve drink. I was lucky enough to find something special, a bottle of 25 year aged Macallan. Aged in the Sherry Oak fashion that Macallan is known for, this is one of the finest single malt scotch whisky’s you can find.

Since I was the only guy in the bar at this early hour it wasn’t a challenge getting attention. With no hesitation (because my inner CFO was screaming stop!) I ordered a glass of the 25. I didn’t want to know how much it was going to cost me so I told him I didn’t want to know. A good bartender should let you know the cost of a drink when it is going to set you back more than anything on the menu!

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A whisky like this is an experience. Tasting notes do not do justice to a whisky this delicious. It was given a perfect 100 score from the Beverage Tasting Institute in Chicago in 1999. It is an example of how perfect scotch whisky can be. Yes, this dram may cost you more than you want. But in the end, if you want to experience something exceptional, this would be a good choice.

You may have seen the James Bond movie of late, “Skyfall.” The Macallan is featured prominently in this movie, once you taste this 25 year old, you will get it.

Oh, it should go without saying, but drink this one “neat!”

Cheers!

The Macallan 25

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!

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