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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Most Recent Whisky

Most Recent Whisky Review

Glenfiddich Fire and Cane

This release is part of the Glenfiddich Experimental series and bottled at 43% ABV (which is quite unusual from Glenfiddich).   It is a peated malt that is finished in rum casks, hence the Fire and Cane (as in sugarcane)  name.  The nose is smokey, but more camp fire rather than strong peat.  Fire before the Cane.  The taste is spicy and nutty, chocolate, pepper, brown sugar and some honey and a hint of the phenol from peat.  The finish is a little hot, like eating burnt cake batter off a wooden spoon.  Water brings up more brown sugar and some lemon peel.  Very nicely done but not sure I would pair peat and rum casks, personnally I prefer peat and sherry casks.

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  • Simon Seaton

    Simon Seaton

    Friday, 01 May 2015 07:13

    The Macallan 17 year old Fine Oak

    I admit to a soft spot for Macallan, in the same way that Canada has a soft spot for Tim Hortons.  However recent expressions like the "1824 Rainbow of Colours" series have been a bit of a let down so I was excited to try this 17 year old to see if Macallan had got their groove back.  In general this is better but still some work to be done to convince me this distillery is heading in the right direction.   The nose is not particulalry overwhelming, some spices, biscuits and baked goods. The spice from nose continues into the taste along with vanilla and toffee notes and some pepper.  The finish fades gently and overall impression is that whisky is very refined and integrated.  Great "first whisky of the day" perhaps?

    Friday, 01 May 2015 07:07

    Snake River Stampede

    A dramatic name for a rather undramatic Canadian whiskey.  The nose on this 40% ABV blend is light with fresh paint and vanilla.  The taste has some sharp lemon notes, floor polish and grainy spirit notes.  The finish has some pepper and spice and not much else.  Drinkable?  Sure.  Stampede?  Not so much.

    Friday, 01 May 2015 06:58

    Lismore Single Malt

    This is a no age statement, value priced, 40% ABV single malt that generally attracts moderately positive reviews.  Everything about Lismore suggests the bloggersphere should hate it: NAS - urgh!  Only 40% ABV - yuck!  Ubiquitous and easy to find - blah!  However it overcomes these "handicaps" by being good value (good value is often rarer than a Port Ellen single malt in Scotch world these days).  The nose has malt, lemon, barley sugar and some oak.  The taste is sweet with lemon peel, milk chocolate, wood and peppery notes.  The finish is sharp and spicy, perhaps not Lismore's best feature.

    This version of the Feis Ill annual release was bottled at 51.4% ABV.  The nose has light smoke, bacon and some sweet and sour spice notes.  The taste is subtle, the higher alcohol is evident as is some sherry and more spice but quite well balanced.  The finish is dry, clean and oaky.  Not your every day Laphroaig but that is the point (at least I think it is) of these releases.

    Friday, 01 May 2015 06:45

    Glenmorangie Taghta

    This expression's claim to fame is that it was crowd sourced and designed by consumers.  They did a nice job but I think Bill Lumsden is safe for a little while yet.  The nose is salty with a tangy citrus note.  Marmalade perhaps.  The taste is creamy with more citrus, oak, coffee and quite bold for Glenmorangie.  The finish has oak and spice notes and sherry lends some tannin.  With a little water it gets sweeter and smoother.

    Friday, 01 May 2015 06:33

    Jura 30 year old

    I have always tended to put Jura in the "just another single malt" category.   I have not been there so I admit I lack the "connection" I find I get with whiskies when I have been to the distillery and while many of the Jura expressions I have tried have been good, they have not been great.  Until now.  This is great.  The nose is sweet with oak and vanilla. The sweetness from the nose is also in the taste but balanced with a rich earthiness, peat, licorrice, banana bread and coffee.  Somehow this whisky manages to combine a Womans Institute coffee morning and a Scottish peat bog.  The finish is spicy and dry and because this is so good, just a little poignant.  With water it gets a touch sweeter and smoother with more citrus and less peat.

    Friday, 01 May 2015 06:28

    Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit

    I was a bit confused by the name as "spirit" is often used by craft distilleries when they can't legally call it whiskey.  This is definately whiskey.  In fact it is "put hairs on your chest, fist pounding the table, that's what I am talking about" whiskey.  Nose is rich and woody, furniture polish and toasted caramel.  The taste is fruity but not too sweet with some brown sugar, fresh baked banana bread, spices, dried fruits and a little cola.  Rye notes come through in the finish along with mint. Overall finish is long and warm. 

    Monday, 27 April 2015 17:08

    As one door closes....

    As I mentioned in my last blog entry, (The End of the Road?) I had reached a point where I was not sure what my next whisky related move would be. When I started the website in 2011 I had set some goals and by late 2014 I had basically met them and my website was less active than JaDaveon Clowney. Excuse me while I pick myself up off the floor after that brilliant joke and remind you all that JD Clowney was the Houston Texans first pick, and first pick overall in 2015 NFL draft, but that he contributed literally nothing during his first season and has so far spent his entire professional career injured and inactive.   I told you it was a brilliant joke.  Back to the whisky and so my solution was simply to back off a little, try not to worry about it, rework the website over a little and await inspiration. In hindsight this is clearly a strategy I have learned from observing the whisky industry and the fail safe marketing tactic for all tired brands; rework the packaging. If you are reading this blog entry then the website update has now happened (unless you are reading this over my shoulder while I type it on a flight back to Houston which makes you a little scary so please stop).

    Rather remarkably fate did choose to intervene and while performing my website surgery I have been offered a new job this summer based in Singapore. As my constant typos, errors, inaccuracies and lack of palate consistency clearly demonstrate I am no writer (despite my brilliant Clowney joke above!) and have to find other ways to sustain my family and my expensive drinking habit. From September 2015 I will do that based in South East Asia. This move presents me with an astonishing opportunity and exposure to a whole new whisky scene that will include, but not be limited to, the brands and expressions only available in Asia, new bars and whisky events in a new city, other bloggers to meet and lots of travel retail opportunities. I also hope to work in trips to Japan and Taiwan (and perhaps India) so I can annoy distillery tour guides with my note taking and ridiculous questions on the other side of the world! In short not only does my website get refreshed but in a few months but my whole exposure to the world whisky will be refreshed and a whole new series of opportunities present themselves.

    Between now I then I promise to use the coming months to iron out the remaining kinks in the website, work through the long list of typos (or as I frequently joke “tpyos”) and other corrections I have noted but never got around to fixing and of course will post some new tasting notes. If you read this and are based in Singapore please feel free to reach out to me and I will be happy to buy you a dram and explain the NFL, Houston Texans, the 2015 draft and the joke above. I promise you it will be worth it.

    Monday, 29 December 2014 21:23

    The End of the Road?

    Some diligent readers may have noticed that I have posted less material online in recent months than Julian Assange. There are a number of reasons for this (fortunately being holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy is not one) but I don’t think it is a coincidence that my lack of output followed soon after completing my goal to find, taste and post my notes for all of the whiskies in Ian Buxton’s book “101 World Whiskies to Try Before You Die”.

    When I look back at 2011, when I started this website and blog I wrote about using the Ian Buxton’s first book “101 Whiskies to Try before You Die” as a guide.  As I wrote then I felt I needed some structure to my journey, a goal or destination, or I would risk wandering aimlessly

    I have to say I do feel now like a goal has been met and a destination reached. Perhaps by setting a clear goal in some ways I doomed my website and blog as it had a defined “end point” from day one. It had a purpose and that purpose has been achieved. My work has also intervened and this blog will always come third after my family and my career. I also look back and reflect that the blog started at a time I was very unhappy with my career and  it is clear my interest in whisky grew as my interest in my job at that time declined.

    However this cannot be the end. Whisky has permeated my life in no small way and will be harder to remove than the last in-law at Christmas. I have invested (rather more than I intended) in a craft distillery in London that looks like it might return my investment about the same time that my nine year old daughter graduates college and I have made some real friendships that will go beyond a shared love of distilled grains aged in oak barrels.

    So to paraphrase Winston Churchill perhaps this is not the beginning of the end but the end of the beginning. Therefore I intend to continue post tasting notes as I find whiskies of interest (increasingly hard to do by the way) and will restructure website to be more focused on those tasting notes and less as blog, but from time to time you can still expect me to post an ill-informed opinion.

    And what would be a good new goal for this revamped website? As I write today I have reviewed 566 whiskies, so 1000 seems like a nice round number to aim for…. perhaps as a nod to Ian Buxton I should say 1001 Whiskies (yes I know that is another book by another whisky writer but you get my point) and then see what happens.

    Monday, 08 December 2014 18:52

    Haig Club

    I found it quite interesting that the whisky world largely ignored the introduction of a David Beckham endorsed whisky.  Maybe it is because it is a "celebrity" whisky?  Maybe it is too cheap or too ubiquitous to garner any real online buzz because no-one feels special drinking or reviewing a whisky that costs under $50 and is available on large scale?  After reading many times over in the whisky media that "grain whisky is the next big thing" and considering the fact this is a single grain  scotch whisky (Note: it is made made from a 90% wheat and 10% malted barley mash and the "single" refers to the distillery not grain) it would suggest that we should consider the possiblity that the "next big thing" just arrived?  However it seems everyone with a whisky fetish and a broadband connection remained unwaiveringly focussed on the proper, hard to find, bloody expensive whisky.  However I am also pretty certain that is fine with Messers Beckham and Diageo who give not one flying-you-know-what about whatever the "blogosphere" has to say about this one.  (Sorry if that comes as a shock to any of my whisky blogger brethren).  Bottled at 40% ABV (as you might expect for an entry level scotch) the nose on Haig Club is quite light and sweet, perhaps even floral.  The taste, at first, is a rather brash clash of pepper and spices and sweet caramel and toffee.  With time some biscuit and grain notes come through as well and it sort of balances out into something quite drinkable, however it clearly blended for the addition of ice (as depicted in all the asscoiated  media).  The finish is spice led with cayenne and some more floral, even perfumed notes.  Like Mr Beckham himself, smooth and more complex than you might expect but if this is the next big thing then I am going to just wait for the next "next big thing".

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    Random Whisky

    Woodford Reserve

    Lemon and toffee apple in the nose.  Also a slight chemical note, like fresh new paint.    The taste has caramel and toffee, some all spice and oaky notes and the overall experience is very smooth and sweet.  The sweetness is very reminiscent of Halloween candy corn.  Tammy called it a "girl's whiskey" as it is very approachable and doesn't have the rougher oak or spicy pepper notes that many whiskies have.