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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Most Recent Whisky

Most Recent Whisky Review

Maker's Mark Private Select

This was picked by Mike Raymond of Houston's Reserve 101 as their 10th anniversary bottling. As the regular readers (both of them) know by now I love Maker's Mark, I love Houston, I love Reserve101 and I have very strong feelings for Mike.  But for some reason this one did not quite work for me, but give it a try as it might for you.   The nose is oaky with some fruity wine notes as well.  Sopem heat from the 55.65% ABV along with calssic vanilla, corn and cola notes.  The taste is hot and a little sharp at first with some black cherry, dark chocolate, jalepeno, burnt caramel and oak char.  The finish is pepper and even a little sour.  With water it gets creamier with some brown sugar and more vanilla. It definately needs a little water (or ice or time) to open it up.

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  • Simon Seaton

    Simon Seaton

    Tuesday, 08 May 2018 10:44

    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.

    Tuesday, 08 May 2018 10:37

    Spey River Sherry Cask Finish

    The label offers no clues as to the provenance of this bottling (other than Spey River) but that still leaves a lot of options for the distillery.  The nose has a familar, vegetal, even stale, farmyard malty note plus some dried fruits.  Reading my notes it is better than I probably made it sound.  The taste has lemon peel, pepper, cloves and oil.  Smooth and strongly flavoured btu not as balanced and integrated as I would like. The finish has more spice, including chilli, but quite short.  Wiuth water gets a little creamier and sweeter with marshmallow and more spice notes.  Overall a bit of a mixed bag, nothing "wrong" with it but doesn't quite come together for me.

    Since I moved from Texas in 2015 the one whisky I miss the most and find the hardest to source from other side of the world is Forty Creek.  It is very special and unique and honestly I miss it more than my family. If they are reading, then that is a joke.  But I do miss it a lot.  I picked up this while passing though Texas on business and my bottle was number 9132 from Lot 11 (... you are welcome whiskey pedants).   The nose has lots of familiar notes of vanilla and freshly sawn wood.  Quite mild and sweet like those cheap cigars that are sold in US Drugstores. The taste is also sweet, with caramel, chocolate, butterscotch balanced with some grass and pepper notes.  The finish does manage to muster a little spice and oaky resistance but still overall a typical Forty Creek "candy disguised as whiskey" (that I love).  Perhaps not their finest work... but to honest even their "OK stuff" is better than most.

    Sunday, 15 April 2018 15:22

    Ballantine's Very Old 21 year old

    I was actually quite surpised when a little research revealed I had not yet reviewed this expression.  It is not because this is a blend, I am no blendist and some of best friends are blends.  I think it is because Ballantine's can "fade into the background" a little.   The difference between their bottlings is often not dramatic so maybe it is easy to mistake this on shelf for the excellent 17 year old (which I have reveiwed) or even their standard Finest expression.  Perhaps there is something to all this marketing hoopla afterall?  Anyway the nose has lots of classic citrus, baked good and oak notes.  I wrote down "lemon meringue pie in a wooden box".  The taste is sweet with vanilla, golden syrup, cinnamon and smoke, very nicely balanced and complex. More spice and smoke notes in the finish.  Gets sweeter with water, syrup turns to toffee.  A classic, aged blend with a little bit of everything you might like in Scotch and not one dominant note or tone.  Worth the wait.

    Sunday, 15 April 2018 15:03

    Kew Organic Gin

    The standard expression for this line is made with botanicals harvested from Kew Gardens (with their permission of course, please don't try this otherwise) and distilled at my all time favorite distillery (see previous posts) The London Distillery Company.  This expression comes at 47% ABV and has very citrus and fruity nose with some botanicals and herbs (very subtle but evident) in the background.     The mouthfeel is very clean and the taste has citrus oils and sweetness.  In the finish is where the herbs start to assert along with some delicate floral notes and even green grass.  Overall very fresh and clean and drinkable neat, and of course it works in a classic G&T, but I like this with a few drops of Bitters to make a Pink Gin on ice and this bring some depth and balance to the sweetness of the gin.

    Sunday, 15 April 2018 14:55

    Kew Organic Gin Explorers' Strength

    This is another fine product  from The London Distillery Company (disclaimer: I am biased and I don't try to hide it) and bottled at 57% ABV compared to 47% for the regular Kew Organic Gin.  The nose has lots of lemon peel, fresh cut grass, sage and other herbal notes.  The taste is at first very sharp, citrus oil and alcohol dominate but then turns to peppermint.  Rich and stringent mouthfeel, powerful but not overpowering.  Finish dries as alcohol disapates leaving white pepper on the tongue.  Drinking it neat with the alcohol, mint, citrus and pepper spiciness it made me think of Christmas.  Probably not for everyone at this strength but it does mean it can stand up well to lots of ice and tonic.

    Wednesday, 11 April 2018 08:59

    Manhattan Project: Experiment #39

    Location: The Oberoi Rajvilas, Jaipur, India

    Date: April 2018

    Price: 700 Indian Rupee ($10.73 USD)

    Recipe: Listed as "American whiskey, Martini Rosso and Angosturo bitter"

    Garnish: Cherry

    Served: Up

    Comments: Interesting twist which I liked a lot was glass rim was dipped in Bitters.  Key to Manhattan is balancing sweetness and punch of bitters and the "rimming" helped with that.

    What is this about? Check out  http://www.somanywhiskies.com/item/749-the-manhattan-project-ii

    Wednesday, 11 April 2018 08:36

    Manhattan Project: Experiment #38

    Location: The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra, India

    Date: April 2018

    Price: 900 Indian Rupee ($13.80 USD)

    Recipe: Listed as Perfect Manhattan with "whisky, bitters and vermouth"

    Garnish: Cherry

    Served: Up

    Comments: As Perfect Manhattan it would be a mix of sweet and dry vermouths and it lacked sweetness I look for.  May appeal to others.  Could have been bigger.

    What is this about? Check out  http://www.somanywhiskies.com/item/749-the-manhattan-project-ii

    Wednesday, 21 March 2018 10:14

    The Pogues

    I was a little bit skeptical of a whiskey that branded itself the "Official Irish Whiskey of the Legendary Band". I was also a little surpised that they only appear to be the official Irish whiskey.... leaving an opportunity for someone else to become the band's official Scotch or Bourbon!   In fact the actual liquid, bottled at 40% ABV and produced by West Cork Distillers, was pretty good.   The nose has lemon peel, vanilla and bubble gum notes.  The taste is sweet with caramel, butter, soft red apples, popcorn and Diet Coke.  The was little soft and unlike Pogues concert, this one slips quietly away.  With water it gets sweeter with a little honey.

    Wednesday, 21 March 2018 09:56

    Dodd's Old Tom Small Batch Gin

    Old Tom is a sweeter style of gin that has fallen out of favour compared to the far more common London Dry gins.  I am obliged to mention that Dodd's comes from The London Distillery Company, the same TLDC that I am a Director and shareholder in, so I am not in any way "neutral" when it come to this product line and that is the only reason there is any gin at all on my "whisky" website.  The Old Tom expression is bottled at 46% ABV compared to Dodd's which is bottled at 50% ABV.  The nose is herbal with citrus peel.  The taste is very soft, even creamy, and sweet with more citrus, honey and a hint of caramel.  The finish is, of course, short and clean.  It is not massively complex (it is a white, unaged spirit) but makes a sweeter, excellent G&T especially with a good squeeze of lime to work in harmony with the citrus notes in the gin.   I recently tasted at the distillery a barrel aged verson of Old Tom and I thought the oak worked well with the sweetness and complimented the slight caramel notes of Old Tom.  Go out and buy some.  Please.

    Whiskies Tried...

    Total to Date: 654

    Distilleries

    Visited to Date: 58

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    Random Whisky

    J&B Rare

    This has a light citric nose with perhaps some baked bread, biscuit and malt notes.  The taste is sweet, honeyed, smooth and light.  Perhaps apple juice and caramel and then a slight woody finish with wisp of smoke.  Very inoffensive, solid blend and a perfectly OK dram but lacks body and depth.  Everything in moderation and probably needs something to take charge.