Search

theScotchlife

Enjoying Scotch Whisky and a few other things

Tag

blended scotch whisky

Black & White Whisky – a San Francisco treat?

I recently found myself with a little time on my hands in the North Beach section of San Francisco. I was actually excited to hit some stores and search out some unique scotch whisky. My hopes were high to find something, after all, I’ve heard so many good things about the selection of whisky available in California. Well, I was hopeful, excited even, and then reality set in. Store, after store, shelf after shelf… I found the same whisky that I can find in the Washington, DC area. Dumbfounded, I  decided to manage my expectation based on the area.20140422-214224.jpg

That particular area is quirky, unique, and has a special vibe to it. Old shops, not new shops. A Beat era museum, not gift shops. Laundry mats, boutique shops, hardware shops, and yes, if you know the area, “gentleman clubs.” So I’m not going to find a hard to find single malt here, no problem. I decided to look for something weird, something old. I found it.20140422-215425.jpg

In the 1980s Black & White was a go to blended scotch whisky of many men (and I’m sure a few women). In that era it was owned by Buchanan’s who was eventually absorbed by Spirit behemoth Diageo. I’ve read somewhere where this was a go to for Dean Martin and a few others. It actually received the Royal Warrant in Britain in the late 1800s. It had a long run but now it sits on the shelves across little shops over America, waiting for someone to take it home. I rescued one bottle.20140422-214330.jpg

The price was $27 USD. The clerk tried wiping the dust off of the box, but something that has been sitting that long in an old store is not going to be pretty. I’m pretty sure this is from the 1980s era due to it still has a tax stamp on it. I haven’t seen a tax stamp in forever! And the top is white, whereas the last photos of the product all showed black tops. Anyhow, it was an old vessel, holding a fairly young blended whisky. If you were wondering, whisky does NOT age in the bottle. Wine ages, whisky waits.

So I’d go on about the taste, but seriously, this is just a blended scotch whisky that is very drinkable. It’s not going to impress. It will do the job though. My only regret is that I couldn’t travel back to Washington with an open bottle of booze and I don’t check luggage if I don’t have to. I did the only right thing, I handed it over to the front desk manager at the Hotel. He was a little taken back. I hope he enjoys it.

 

20140422-215435.jpg

 

CHEERS!

 

Ballantine’s Finest Blended Scotch Whisky – the whisky that started my journey

20130401-205645.jpg

No, this is not a message about drunk driving, nor do I support drinking while driving. But if you haven’t watched the movie The Silencers starring Dean Martin, you are missing the greatest Ballantine’s advertisement that probably ever ran in 1966. Dean and Stella Stevens are en route and Dean activates his “car bar” which brings out a nice assortment of Ballantine’s whisky. I’m a big Dean Martin fan but the point of this post is the whisky itself.

20130401-205703.jpg

About ten years ago at a friendly gathering I was offered up the usual “what would you like to drink?” by gracious hosts. The gentleman was an avid scotch whisky drinker. At the time I was strictly a clear whisky guy. I’d drink vodka and gin and occasionally bourbon. My last encounter with scotch whisky was many years ago in college and I didn’t think I would ever enjoy scotch whisky.

The gentleman said to try it with ice, just three cubes, and the rest is history. From Ballantine’s I jumped around and ran the usual Johnny Walker/Dewars route common in The States. Then I started playing with single malts and away I went.

So Ballantine’s is a pillar of the scotch whisky world. It is no push over and has carried plenty of awards. I haven’t had anything but the entry “Finest” so I cannot speak to the 12 year and up. I have heard many scotch enthusiast describe the 30 year as amazing. In America, we typically have easy access to Ballantine’s Finest at a very reasonable price and it’s in my hands as I type! (but I’m not driving)

The notes from Ballantine:

NOSE

Soft, elegant, heather honey aromas with a hint of spice.

TASTE

Well balanced subtle flavours with tones of milk chocolate, red apple and vanilla.

BODY

Rounded.

CHARACTER

Soft, sweet and complex.

COLOUR

A light gold.

FINISH

The sophisticated after-taste gives a fresh, floral and rounded glow.

Just pass on the “car bar!”

Cheers!

Islay Mist Blended Scotch Whisky

IMG_2001

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!

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!

20130216-165835.jpg

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

theamericanwhiskeylife

From Bourbon to Single Malts, American Style

The Malt Activist

A personal whisky journal

Buffalo Whiskey Guild

Learning, appreciating and enjoying the art of drinking whiskey

Bill Mullins' Weblog - Tech Thoughts

Security and System Tools and Tips. Software Reviews, News, Views, Downloads and Links.

9to5Mac

Apple News & Mac Rumors Breaking All Day

TED Blog

The TED Blog shares interesting news about TED, TED Talks video, the TED Prize and more.

BECKY SAYS THINGS

Becky says things about things and other things

Sadie Hasler

The multi award-winning columns of Sadie Hasler - Columnist | Playwright | Actor | Co Artistic Director of Old Trunk Theatre Company - Follow on Twitter @sadiehasler

Cask Tales

Enjoying Scotch Whisky and a few other things

%d bloggers like this: