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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Most Recent Whisky

Most Recent Whisky Review

Kilchoman USA Small Batch No.1

This 48.5% ABV bottling comes from batch No. 1 (of 1260 bottles) and is labelled as bourbon, sherry and port cask matured. This was my first Kilchoman purchase in a long time but I am a bit of a sucker for Port influenced whiskies and I am really glad I found this one. The nose is classic Islay with salt, seaweed and smoke in abundance. Maritime whisky notes dominate with some iodine and seaweed at low tide. The taste starts sweet with dried fruits, marzipan, barley sugar and then some salty notes add balance. A Christmas cake left on the beach. The finish manages to be both spicy and sweet and even minty and dries out leaving smoke. With water gets a little creamier and sweeter and some black pepper appears in the finish. There is a lot going on here and the three casks all show their influence on the finished product.

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  • Saturday, 10 December 2011 17:58

    My Favorite Whiskies of 2011

    Written by
    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

    Jim Beam Black

    This one of those whiskies from a major brand that reminds you that good whisky isn't limited to small artisan brands and doesn't have to be expensive.  The nose on this has sweetness, vanilla (a bit like fudge) and some fruit and perhaps a little fresh paint.  The taste is sweet has some soft spice (cloves, cinnamon and even coffee) and a little oak in the finish.  Good stuff neat and with water gets a little sweeter, brown sugar, vanilla and some fruit.