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Enjoying Scotch Whisky and a few other things

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speyside

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

Montecristo white label #2

I picked up this smoke at a local shop only because I’d heard people refer to it while sampling some Dalmore Cigar Malt in Vegas. I was curious to the flavor of it, I’m not a Montecristo regular, and how it would pair with a Dalmore whisky. Now I picked the #2 white label on the advise of the well-educated gentleman at the tobacco shop. He explained that the Ecuadorian Connecticut shade wrapper would give me a little bit more flavor, which I insist upon.

I did not have dram in hand, that I remember, when smoking this cigar. What I do remember was that this was not a very powerful cigar. As I referred to an earlier article, this cigar is taken largely from the lower leafs on a plant, they are shielded from the sun and do not produce as much flavors as the leaves further up the plant. The cigar is marketed as a rich, creamy and flavorful, well-rounded smoke. I’ll go with creamy, flavorful, to an extent, but rich, not so much. I have a hard palate, I drink black coffee and I drink whisky neat. To me this cigar is a great golf cigar or a pre-dinner cigar. It doesn’t challenge my palate much and if I’m around friends just enjoying the conversation this cigar would be just fine. But as someone who is trying to awaken and challenge my palate, not so much.

As far as pairing it with whisky, I would not choose a Dalmore. To me a Dalmore has way too much flavor to it, due to the excellent work of “The Nose” Richard Paterson, and I would think a Dalmore would overpower the Montecristo #2. I recently imbibed on some 12yr Dalmore and thought a medium to full cigar would be a better match. If you want guidance on a Dalmore, I recently smoked a Gurkha Regent Torpedo and I think it would be up to the task.

To me, the #2 would be best suited with a great Speyside, non-peated, whisky. I’d like to try it with a Balvenie expression.

One impression I do remember at full smoke was that a great, out of the oven yeast roll would be at home along side this cigar. It was the most exact pairing I could think of since that taste was coming through.

The Balvenie 17 year releases – tasting notes

At the Nth in Las Vegas recently, I was in a Masterclass with The Balvenie Ambassadors. The gentlemen had scraped together their resources and brought us the entire 17 year line of Balvenie offerings. I have to say, although I have admired the marketing of Balvenie for some time I have never been one to try varieties of The Balvenie. That has changed.

We started the tasting with the Madeira Cask. At first, the Madeira Island is off of the coast of Africa. Not in Spain.

The nose offers up floral and fruits. The actual taste is a bit different, some plums, raisins, and cigar smoke. Confusing. Though this sounds heavy the finish was very light. Of all of the 17 this was the only one I have notes on as having a light finish.

Then we have the 17yr. Rum Cask. As you would expect, brown sugar, caramels, and bananas jump out of the glass. On the palate, bananas and I thought liquorice. It was a very different scotch offering for me, I’m sure some would really enjoy it, rum lovers come to mind.

I have a greater appreciation now for Olosoro Sherry wood. The 17yr Sherry Oak really shines with fruit. On the nose, Sherry wood, caramels, and creme brulee. On the tongue, I got caramels and again, bananas. Very fruity, very much a dessert type of scotch. This one really breaks the mold of what the average person thinks of as scotch.

And now, Oak, yes, American White Oak. It is a wonderful thing! The 17yr. New Oak is a real crowd pleaser in my eyes. Very light on the nose, and smooth, silky cream with slight smoke on the palate. I think that this is an easy introduction to scotch for a non-scotch drinker.

And for the record, I really like Bourbon. The 17yr. New Wood Balvenie really hits a bourbon drinker in the sweet spot. Having used bourbon barells for a considerate time. This spirit has a very sweet vanilla taste. I was told that possibly Jim Beam barrels were used. The finish left a nice butterscotch  and sugars on my tongue. I really like this one!

“And now for something completely different!” – MP.

The Balvenie 17yr. Islay Cask. (pause) yes, lets take Balvenie and let it rest in a Laphroaig cask. Brilliant! This is a hard to write about, but a wonderful peated scotch from Balvenie is a rare, and unusual thing. I have yet to get my hands on this one but will look for it. If you come across it try it. Or buy it. If you don’t like it, you can find a buyer, I promise.

Finally, a peated offering called Peated Cask. 17yr. and a bit lighter than the Islay cask. The Balvenie architects came up with a special peat rendering to develop this one. It has a traditional vanilla and smooth texture to it with a kick of peat. It is nice.

All seven of these Balvenie’s share a common DNA. That of Honey Sweetness, and of course the guidance of David Stewart. It should be noted that Balvenie is not owned by a corporation. They are family owned and enjoy that freedom. I am particularly fond of their traditional marketing and attention to detail in how they craft their whisky. I do entrust that they will continue their excellence.

As a side, The Balvenie is having a bit of a “road trip” through America with two ambassadors. You can find out more at their home page. I will probably post something exclusively about that event soon.

I would encourage you to explore these offerings and if you have any of them, you might want to secure  some more if you can. They are limited(hint).

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