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Enjoying Scotch Whisky and a few other things

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The Macallan Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky

I’ve been craving, of late, the distinctive character of Macallan Scotch Whisky, and so went to the liquor store to satisfy that urge. I had fully intended on picking up the 12 year product when the Cask Strength bottle caught my eye! I immediately remembered that I’ve heard it is being discontinued in the U.S. and I needed to pick some up soon. I really don’t know why, but I don’t ever remember purchasing this product. I’ve seen it several times but with all of the different whisky out these days I’ve usually come away with something else.

Now I love The Macallan, and I am very fond of the 12 year product that can be found almost anywhere. I think that perhaps this product may be in the same circumstance as Glenmorangie Astar, the alcohol content is high and the price is not low. However, these offerings are special and you should enjoy both before the disappear. It cost me about $95.00 USD.

So the Cask Strength Macallan comes in at 60.1% ABV, or a 118 proof. That’s very high considering the usual Macallan 12 year offering is only 40%ABV or 80 proof. This product is “uncut” and “unchill-filtered” so you are enjoying it as Nature has made it. The Distiller’s notes are as follows:

Color: Red Mahogany

Nose: Dried fruit, with chocolate, orange, vanilla and wood spice.

Palate: Rich and smooth, with fruit cake, vanilla and a hint of wood smoke.

Finish: Full and lingering, with dried fruit and spice.

In other words, classic Macallan mostly. The color along gets me going. I just love the color that the Sherry Oak casks from Jerez, Spain deliver! It is such a rich looking whisky.

The notes on the bottle advise enjoying this dram with a splash of water. As usual, I will try it without and then I will take their advice and see which one I like better.

WOW! It takes a remarkably well done whisky to accomplish the mouth-feel of this offering. And considering its alcohol content, I can keep this whisky in my mouth for as long as I want and enjoy it! That shows me the class of this whisky. It’s extremely well-rounded and beautifully complex. This product is so good, I don’t feel like adding water. I did, it does reveal some nice flavors, some that burst and some that linger. Very nice! I prefer it uncut though.

I believe, age wise, this is a ten-year product. It does not state it on the bottle but the web-site shows it as a ten years product. I’m guessing that they removed the age statement for Americans because most Americans believe you can only drink a scotch that has aged at least 12 years. It’s an unfortunate misunderstanding to say the least.

As I said earlier, this product, from my understanding, is being discontinued in the U.S.A. If you appreciate really good whisky, you will want one of these!

Cheers!

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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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Glenmorangie’s Astar, Single Malt Scotch Whisky

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In the States we have this crazy custom on the Friday after our Thanksgiving Holiday which is celebrated every November, on the fourth Thursday of the month. We call this Friday “Black Friday” because for some retailers the sales receipts on that day push them from being in debt to being profitable for the calendar year. On this particular one, I learned that the Virginia liquor stores, which are regulated and run by the State, were having a sale on all products and some particular specially discounted items.

Now let me be clear, I do not like to get up at the crack of dawn on a day off to go shopping, but we’re talking whisky people! So, off I went! And boy am I glad I did.

I snagged a few items that day, one of these was the Glenmorangie Astar. Astar is one of the many offerings from Glenmorangie and is probably my favorite. It is evidently the product of specially chosen casks, made from a certain Oak grown in Missouri. After these casks are broken in with some American Bourbon, they are sent to Scotland to mature the Astar product.

The tasting notes from the distiller are as follows:

Aroma

Rich in toffee and crème-brulee, drizzled with fresh menthol, warm cinnamon and deep aniseed spices. Mint humbugs and a sweet honey-lemon complexity follows.

Taste

Crème-brulee with a burst of mouth-watering pineapple, poached pears and apricots, smothered with vanilla custard.

Finish

The finish is long and smooth with a lingering mix of honey and almond, coconut ice and traces of aniseed.

Colour

Bright gold

As usual, I can pick up on some of the flavors/aromas, etc….. but it all comes down to, do I like it? The nosing of this dram is a bit challenging due to the higher than normal ABV. It is a 114 proof product, yes, its got some kick! So nosing is not a casual thing, it’s daring. What is amazing is that once on the palate, this is an incredibly enjoyable spirit. Warm and spiced, it really energizes the palate and makes you want more!

This is a special whisky, not average, nor comparable to anything in general. You should go try this as soon as you can. Rumor has it, and it’s from a very good source, that this offering is being discontinued in the U.S. (you’ve been warned!)

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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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!

The Balvenie 17 year Doublewood

Oh yes! Stopped into the Virginia ABC store today and while trolling through the scotch aisle I came upon the new release from Balvenie. Balvenie experienced great success with their 17 year line that has been released over the past few years and now they have complimented it by taking their usual Doublewood whisky and brought it to a mature level of 17 years. The entry or as i like to call it “gateway” to The Balvenie line of scotch is the Doublewood and it is a fabulous scotch. The regular Doublewood can be had for around $50 U.S. and the 17 year comes in north of $120. I wasn’t planning on finding this and was very happy and thought this would make a great dram to review since I have basically been on hiatus for several months now.

It is fall in the D.C. area and the beautiful colors of fall are starting to emerge. This 17 year’s color is right on time! It’s appearance is a beautiful amber that matches the hardwoods in my backyard. It looks like it has some beautiful coloring in it that can only come from time in the right casks.

The nose is candy like and leads me to think this is going to be a very warm and smooth whisky. The ABV count is 43% and there is no alcohol kick as I stick my nose firmly into the Glencairn glass.

It tastes like butter. I love butter! And it tastes just like it smells. It is warm, not hot. It coats the tongue evenly and and is very well rounded. It does not burn. You can leave it in your mouth for many seconds and just enjoy the dram.
The finish is polite, and it is simply a home run! It is a very easy drinking scotch, almost too easy. Some may be wishing for a higher ABV but this is simply a civilized scotch that would feel at home in a ballroom or your living room. What you get is a much deeper and mature experience that you would not get from the regular Doublewood offering. Be warned, this drinks really easy. I did not add any water to this, as I do not to any Balvenie product.

It is a bit pricy, especially in these times so if you can find a friend who enjoys whisky team up and go find this offering.

Thanks again Balvenie!

Cheers!

 

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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!

Gordon & Macphail’s single malt scotch whisky

I finally got back to one of my favorite Washington, DC liquor stores, Pearson’s, which is off Wisconsin Avenue. The choices are always fun because they do not stock typical offerings that most stores do, especially the Virginia ABC stores… (where selection sucks)

So I was happy to see among several offerings this Gordon and Macphail’s 10 year single malt. I have enjoyed several of their offerings but never a “standard” like this one. I actually enjoy not knowing which distiller they purchased their product from. This mystery malt sat either in a Speyside warehouse or in Elgin at G&M’s warehouse. Regardless, someone distilled it and G&M claimed it. It’s that simple.

What isn’t simple is the complexity of this dram. It is very nice, balanced, and has great mouth-feel. The fruit that comes off the nose is nice and I rather enjoyed it without water. After adding water a few more notes open up in the nose and as for taste, it smoothed out like a lake in the morning.

The cost of this was exactly 42.99 USD. I believe it to be priced about right (nothing you can do about taxes) and I believe it is distinct enough from the likes of Balvenie and Macallan to set in among your scotch offerings. I would call this a daily drinker but I rather think it special. And so, only a twice or so a week dram. I can always rely on Grant’s as my anytime dram.

You could enjoy a cigar with this, but, I’d reserve this as an aperitif or a dinner dram. I’m not an advocate of drinking great scotch with cigars because inevitably, one will win out and the other will be non-present.

So if you are lucky enough to pick up one of these, I would encourage you, I think it’s worth a try!

Cheers!

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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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