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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

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Most Recent Whisky Review

Kilchoman Sanaig

I am a big fan of sherry cask aged and finished Islay whisky (Bowmore 15 The Darkest is still all time Top 10 for me) and so I was looking forward to this 46% ABV no age statement expression from Islay's youngest distillery (but not for much longer!). The nose is classic "bonfire on the beach" with some cooked fruits as well.  The taste is very sweet with caramel, vanilla toffee, green apples and of course some peat which then goes on to dominate the finish while some tannin Sherry notes also push through drying the mouthfeel.  With water the sweetness turns to brown sugar and the peat turns more smokey; hot and peppery on the palate.  It is good but the sherry feels held  back rather than forward on this one.

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  • Saturday, 10 December 2011 17:58

    My Favorite Whiskies of 2011

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    The rules for this are pretty simple, the whisky has to be one of the hundred or so I have reviewed this year and I will chose my favorites from four whisky making regional categories, Scotch, Irish, American and Rest of the World.  I will also choose my Whisky Family of year.   If I have tasted four or more expressions of whisky (whether it is a single malt or blend) I will rate the family of products in my blog.  Where it is close or in doubt, I will usually lean towards the better value or more accessible whiskies.

     

    Scotch: Chivas Regal 25 year old over Ardbeg Uigeadail for the surprise factor.   I had a strong suspicion I would love the Ardbeg (and I did) but the Chivas Regal 25 really surprised me and despite its hefty price tag it stood out for me this year.   An honorable mention is deserved for both the Talisker and Bunnahabhain 18 year old expressions and the Sheep Dip blended malt as well.

    Irish: Jameson 18 year old Limited Reserve gets slight edge for me over the Redbreast 12 year old.  Both excellent whiskies and the Red Breast is definitely still something I will go back to regularly, but the Jameson 18 year old has some additional complexity and depth the Red Breast doesn't. 

    USA: I am going with Sazerac Rye 18 year old, but I really liked both the Rowan's Creek and Knob Creek bourbons.  For me the standard Sazerac rye completely redefined an entire genre of whisky.  I went from thinking of rye whisky as the stereotypical cowboy "rot gut whiskey" to a complex and fully paid up member of the great whisky club.  The 18 year old Sazerac is just great.

    Rest of World: Forty Creek Premium Barrel (Canada) edges out Amrut Fusion (India), Nikka All Malt (Japan) and Yoichi 10 year old (Japan).  I accept that the Amrut and Yoichi may come out better if you were to rank them on taste alone in a blind tasting but the Forty Creek is staggeringly good value, easy to find (in the USA anyway)  and for me completely over turned my preconceptions of Canadian whiskey based on brands like Crown Royal and Canadian Club.

    Whisky Family: It was close between Famous Grouse range (I really liked the Famous Grouse 12 year old Gold Reserve and Black Grouse) and Chivas Regal, but based on the averages scores I gave during the year, due in part to the Chivas 25 year old getting 4 stars; I am going with Chivas Regal.

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    Random Whisky

    Crown Royal Cask Number 16

    I am not a big Canadian whiskey fan (a few notable exceptions aside) but I did enjoy this rather interesting whiskey, matured in a cognac cask, which I tried for the the first time at SMWS Extravaganza in Houston and tasted again a few nights later at a whisky bar in Houston.  What nose there is is very sweet, however the taste makes up for it with a lovely sweet, juicy, raisiny, grapey taste.  It actually tastes more cognac than whiskey. The finish has some more familiar Crown Royal notes including the bitter oakiness, but in this expression it is offset nicely by the drying cognac influence.  With a drop of water it got a little more spicy and even drier.  A very nice whiskey and perhaps my favorite CR expression.