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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Most Recent Whisky

Most Recent Whisky Review

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

This was unexpectedly declared the “best whiskey in the world” in 2015 by Jim Murray and due to resulting “online hub-bub” (or as I call it OHB) I chose to stay away at that time and revisit this controversial whisky at a later date. I am glad I did because of the excellent price point it is really very good value. Made from a 90% rye mash bill the nose has lemon pledge, coffee, vanilla, toffee and even some floral notes. The taste is smooth and creamy, lots of the notes from nose with Wherther’s Original candy and milk chocolate. The finish has peppermint, some grassy herbal notes and a little oak.  The buttery creamy mouthfeel reminded me of The Macallan. Is it very good but I can’t say if it was the best in the world that year because I did not try them all.

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  • Tuesday, 04 October 2011 05:50

    How I will Taste and Review Whiskies on So Many Whiskies.com

    Written by

    My first comment regarding my whisky reviews, tasting notes, and whisky tasting notes in general, is that whisky, almost always, tastes like whisky. No-one ever writes that in their notes.

    "Sweet whisky nose with strong whisky flavor and hint of whisky in the finish"

    Whisky has it's own flavor, that why people add it to cakes, sauces and other foods. If chefs wanted the subtle soft fruit and cream flavors they would add soft fruits and cream to their recipe.

    I think that some people may be confused and perhaps put off when they see whisky described as "apples on the nose with a taste of butterscotch and heather fading to old leather". I know I certainly was at first. I could understand concepts like smooth, silky, harsh but the flavor was just whisky flavor right?  

    I like the taste of nearly all types of whisky (Scotch, Irish, bourbon and most recently rye). I always have. Some people don't and this probably isn't the website for them.  In fact the descriptors used in notes and reviews are simply the tasters attempt to break down subtle notes and tastes that may appear in the whisky to them (and often not to others who taste the same whisky) and the things that differentiate them from other brands and styles. They all taste like whisky, just like pretty much all cola drinks tastes the same, but the tasting notes are trying to differentiate what is different between Pepsi and Coke (to my palate Pepsi is sweeter).

    They are just descriptions, highly personal, and the fun for me is in trying to identify the subtle flavors and to put those often delicate and fleeting sensations into my own words.

    Some people might assume that if I don't like oranges, if the whisky has orange notes I won't like that whisky. Not necessarily true. I don't particularly like eating peat or old leather and yet some great whiskies have flavor notes that remind me of those things. So don't be put off by the descriptors.

    Another thing to bear in mind is that occasionally the whisky is so well blended or balanced that individual notes are so subtle they are hard (or for the olfactory challenged like me) impossible to detect. I think that is perhaps the pinnacle of whisky making and so the reviews and ratings may simply reflect that. Sit back, pour a large measure and simply enjoy it, like anything well made there comes a time to stop over analyzing it and simply enjoy it. And yes that means that blends can be good whiskies. In fact they can be great. There I said it and I can sense the malt purists logging off now.

    Never forget that these are simply my opinion and don't mean that you shouldn't try every whisky I review for yourself even if I choose to give it a low rating. My wife can confirm I am often wrong. In fact I find the most interesting discussions and debate around whiskies that received mixed reviews. Nearly everyone will agree that The Macallan 18 year old is great whisky, but people can argue and have completely different positions about a blend like Cutty Sark or an unusual expression of single malt like Glenturret or Ardbeg Blasda (isn't that right Jim?). That's often when it is the most fun.

    If you interested in more detail on how to taste whisky try the link to the website below for one of my favorite whisky podcasts, The Scotchcast and there is also a short section on how to taste whisky in Ian Buxton's book, 101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die.

    http://www.thescotchcast.com/howtotaste/

    Rating System

    I will use a simple 4 star system because of my own limitations and lack of ability of differentiate on the more common 100 point scale. I simply can't detect enough difference to rate one whisky 85 and another 86. Even if I could (which I can't) my rating does not mean you would rate the same way (in fact you almost certainly wouldn't) so I feel a simpler qualitative scale rather than quantitative scale is a more useful tool. I won't use ½ or ¼ stars either, that seems to me to defeat the simplistic, qualitative approach of a 4 (or 5) star system.

    My "acid test" when it comes to a rating will be what I am calling the Party Test. That is hypothetical situation that someone hands me a glass at a party and says:

    "I hear you love whisky, try this....."

    Assuming that this person isn't someone you have to impress and you can't hand the glass back to (like your boss or prospective father in law) the system goes like this...

    1 star

    Not for me. Something about the whisky hits an off note in my palate or simply doesn't balance for me. At a party I might politely refuse the drink and ask for something else. If there is a bottle in my house it's just because I have been unable to even finish one I was given as gift or bought by mistake. These are rare. Ginger beer and whisky over ice with lime anyone?

    2 star

    Doesn't quite work for me. It is fine, nothing wrong with it but you would probably never find a bottle in my house. Perhaps some balance issues. Also some more expensive whiskies that simply don't deliver on value may also end up 2 stars as I would never buy them. If offered this whisky at a party I would drink it, but would ask if they had any other whisky perhaps rather than drink a second. Most whisky for me falls into 2 or 3 star category.

    3 star

    Now we are talking. Something about this whisky I really like. This would be a whisky I like enough to buy a bottle every now and again. Good value, good tasting whiskies would also fall into this category. At a party I would happily accept the glass, drink it and then ask the host for more.

    4 star

    I would accept the glass, complement the host and ask to see the bottle. I might then take the bottle, leave the party and go straight home and drink it. I never enjoy parties anyway. These are special whiskies (to me), favorites I will always go back to and high likelihood you will find a bottle or two in my house.

    More in this category: Return of the Dinosaurs? »

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