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Enjoying Scotch Whisky and a few other things

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blended scotch

Dewar’s 18 Year Old Double Aged Blended Whisky Review

 

Limited Edition Dewar's gift box. I'm one of 25. Lucky Bastard.
Limited Edition Dewar’s gift box. I’m one of 25. Lucky Bastard.


I was recently contacted by Dewar’s as to if I would accept some gifts from them, I was more than willing. Little did I know they were about to launch a massive ad campaign and they pulled in some folks who they considered worthy of being described as “Drinking Men.” Sometimes you feel lucky. Now as some of you know, I drink a LOT of single malt scotch. It’s not because I don’t appreciate blended scotch whisky. I do. But I have an affinity for single malt’s, and more specifically single casks.

To make a blended whisky takes some skill. I have the utmost respect and envy for men and women who can perform the task. As of recent, it has been established that the words “marrying” or “vatting” should be dropped in favor of simply “blended.” I do agree in part, terminology can be confusing and I believe an educated and happy consumer is better than a confused one. Still, some will continue to call a blended single malt (a whisky containing only single malts) vatted and will refer to a whisky that has single malt or malts blended with a grain whisky simply blended. Confused? Perhaps I should explain further in another post……

So, back to the Dewar’s. Dewar’s is the most widely sold scotch in the world. You can find it on most any flight, in your hotel mini-bar, and most sports bars. Let’s just say, its distribution is stellar. I know I’ve had it on at least three continents. But today I’m tasting, courtesy of Dewar’s, the 18 year Double Aged offering. Dewar’s calls this a “rich whisky with a long finish.” The double aged process, according to the literature, is placing the newly blended whisky together (malts and grains)  back into vintage oak casks to mature. So, in plain terms, how I read it, is that they blend years old whisky and place into previously used American casks? Or place them in refills? How long? That would be a trade secret most likely, but I’m sure someone out there knows.

So Dewar’s tasting notes include the words, Honeyed, Marzipan, and Creamy. Most people can relate to Honeyed as well as Creamy. BUT if you happen to live in an area outside of the UK, the Marzipan may throw you. Does me! So to describe it better, Dewar’s includes  in the tasting notes (concerning Marzipan) “Almond and vanilla cream with smooth butterscotch. Soft, buttery and sweet.” Well sign me up! So, now I’m excited to taste this 18!

As usual, I will drink any whisky, yes any whisky without water first. REGARDLESS of the damn ABV%. Sorry, that was aimed at a certain society who insists on squirting water into my snifter before I can get my nose in it.

Before I nose it, I do admit it’s a nice job in the packaging. Although, some of the fonts are a bit small and hard to read under low light, especially on the box. As far as the whisky’s color, its a nice honeyed hue and a whisk around the snifter leaves some stringy legs. As for the nose, it’s quite delightful! I can tell I’m dealing with a quality whisky here. It should have a very nice body to it. It’s ABV% is 40 so you can really stick your nose in there and let it play around, it’s very gentleman like and doesn’t kick.

The actual taste is very close to the smell, I thought it may be a bit deeper but it is most definitely buttery and smooth. I held it in my mouth for at least 30 seconds, it coats the tongue perfectly and the finish has a faint touch of grain to it. It’s very nice and is true to its tasting notes from Dewar’s. This type of scotch whisky is a good drinking whisky. I would be pleased to sit around with friends or pull out a nice medium to full cigar and partake. This is a smooth, creamy whisky. It is not sweet and I think the grain content may be a factor there.

Whatever they have blended, it works. If you are looking for a quality scotch whisky and enjoy very popular offerings such as Dewar’s, Johnny Walker, Grant’s, then you will be very pleased with this 18-year-old. I’m not sure of the price point yet, In the UK I think it goes for around $100 USD. That’s about twice the cost of their 12 year but I assure you it is measurably better.

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Dewar’s The Drinking Man’s Scotch

Many thanks to Dewar’s for sending this my way, they also included a few goodies, I have put the picture below. I do feel honored to be considered worthy of a special flask and other swag, but it’s really the 18 that has done the work here. I’ve found me a new friend and am honored to be considered “A Drinking Man” by Dewar’s. Do check out their videos/commercials, if you are a drinking man like me, you will identify with the message. www.dewars.com

Cheers!

John

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Grant’s Family Reserve Blended Scotch Whisky – my thoughts

So you like Scotch do you? Then I imagine you would have no reservation sharing a glass of inexpensive blended scotch whisky?

All kidding aside, I do drink inexpensive blended scotch whisky on occasion! My first whisky that I actually drank on a regular basis was Ballantine. Then I graduated all the way up to Johnny Walker Red. After a few years of drinking blended whiskies I ventured into the single malt world and I admit, I pretty much prefer single malt scotch. The thing about drinking single malt is that I tend to get my head wrapped around the spirit, trying to dissect and figure out what makes it distinguished from another single malt. So there are times when I just don’t want to think, I just want to drink.

Enter Grant’s Family Reserve Blended whisky. I first saw this whisky somewhere, not sure, but it was the only scotch they had. That will probably say something about the establishment! So, hence, not exactly memorable. I could have had Jack Daniels, or some other common whisky but thought I must know what this Grant’s is about. I do remember thinking, not bad, and I’m sure I had a couple and I did not drown it in ice! Since then I’ve learned that this is one of the most popular scotch whiskies in the world! Sold in over 180 countries! And has been around since 1898. In sales I believe it is behind Johnny Walker (Red) and I think Dewar’s. I personally think it is equal to if not better than both of those offerings.

The taste of it is complex but it should, being the result of 25 single malt and grain whiskies, the base being Girvan grain whisky. The tasting notes from the distiller highlight Pear and spring fruits. Ok, like a lot of tasting notes I find, I just nod and say, ok. Sometimes I can totally taste or nose what they are saying, the other 50% of the time I just nod. Though nosing is important and quite enjoyable on some whisky’s, this whisky is for drinking!

As you can guess, this is an affordable scotch! And if you need a house scotch you should try this one out. If you are someone who actually mixes scotch (gasp) with other items then this might be a great staple for you. I have not tried the 12 year and up on this brand because it is not available in my area and I’ve never seen it at a tasting. The Master Blender for Grant’s also, just happens to be, the Master for The Balvenie. Now that should mean something.

As an aside, this is my 100th post! Wow, a lot of typing and wondering if anyone would ever read this stuff! Well, if you are reading this I hope you enjoy!

Cheers!

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Johnny Walker Green Label – A farewell

My fairest child, I have no song to give you;
No lark could pipe to skies so dull and grey:
Yet, ere we part, one lesson I can leave you
For every day.

Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever;
Do noble things, not dream them, all day long:
And so make life, death, and that vast for-ever
One grand, sweet song.

Charles Kingsley – A Farewell

The news of Johnny Walker Green Label being discontinued shouldn’t upset too many people but I think it’s a little sad to lose the only label in the JW line that I recommended people try. Where else can you get a blended scotch of high quality (all Malt, no grain) scotch? I’m sure there are several but I’m not a blend guy, mainly single malts. When you drink a dram of Green Label you are drinking Talisker, Linkwood, Craganmore, and Caol Ila products at once. Quite an affordable blend and unique experience.

Efficiency and product trimming has evidently hit the JW line and the Green Label must be the weak link. If I had my way, I’d discontinue Blue….. So Diageo probably knows their market and this must seem like a good move on paper. They are evidently sponsoring a final “official” tasting that you can apply to be at on their Facebook page.

The first time I ever bought the Green Label was a few years back while in St. Thomas. The costs were supposedly lower, not sure about that, so I bought a bottle there. I think it’s a very drinkable dram, nothing extremely special but a good everyday or with guests that you don’t want to pull out the “good” stuff for. For myself, it’s just a bit of nostalgia that the brand is going away, so I may stock up for no good reason but to have a “rare” product one day.

If you are a regular Black label drinker and have not tried the Green, I would encourage you to try this one. Unlike your Black label, this one does not have any grain whisky in it. On top of that I’d say its finish is nicer and more complex. If you only drink Red label, please switch to Black!, and you too will notice a large difference in quality.

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Cheers to you Green Label! And Farewell!

Sheep Dip Malt Whisky

At least once a week I hope to taste something “new” or not as well known and jot down a few notes about it. My last trip through the ABC store brought not only something new but something I found to be whimsical. In the Scotch section was a black and white fashioned box with the picture of an agitated sheep half way out of a whiskey barrel. The product was labeled SHEEP DIP, a Malt Whisky (notice the “e” is missing in Scotch) and it is woven from 16 single malt whiskies. The individual whiskies are aged anywhere from 8 to 21 years. This gives this product a certain maturity that I think should earn it some respect. This is evidently an old brand that has been discarded by a larger company and purchased by a smaller enterprising company.

I started with about an ounce and a half of the product and introduced a splash of cold brita water to open it up. In short, I found this product to be very pleasing! I was prepared for something harsh and not that complex. What I found was the opposite. I found this product to be a nice amber colored Scotch that had a slightly soft nose and bright aroma to it. As it rolled through my mouth I experienced full complex flavors and really imagined a warm spicy mature orange within the mix. The finish was very clean and as I waited for the after taste to set in, it gently rolled away to a nice finish.

SHEEP DIP was acknowledged by Whisky magazine as “seriously good stuff”

I would label this as a great buy, around $39 for the 750ml bottle which puts it in the same area as Johnny Walker Red. I think it would be better compared to the JW Black or Green in quality though.

You can best find out about this brand on Facebook by searching Sheep Dip Fold. This link may work. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2530406933



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