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Enjoying Scotch Whisky and a few other things

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single malt whisky

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!

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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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