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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

    Monday, 18 December 2017 11:21

    Bushmills Sherry Cask Reserve

    This "No Age Statement" (NAS) expression is part of a new Bushmills travel retail line called The Steamship Collection and is bottled at 40% ABV.  A little online research indicates that so far this launch has been almost as successful as the Titanic (also made in Northern Ireland as it happens) in some quarters but as I have a soft spot for both Bushmills and sherry finished whiskies I  was keen to try it.  The nose has foam banana sweets (I often get some banana in Bushmills) and lots of vanilla.  The taste is sweet, with thin a mouthfeel, and lots of caramel, toffee, sherry notes and tannins.  The finish has a wet burnt wood (damp campfire), more tannin than smoke, and some grainy spirit notes.   With water it gets even sweeter with brown sugar and oaky bitterness and at end of day water doesn't help much.  Overall this is approachable, drinkable and with no major flaws (except maybe the finish) but the Black Bush is probably a better product.

    Monday, 25 September 2017 08:45

    Fortnum and Mason London Dry Gin

    As the more observant reader will have noticed as this is a slight departure from my usual whisky reviews but as it is made by The London Distillery Company (of which I am shareholder and as at time of writing in September 2017 a Director) I feel it's place is warranted on my website.  (Note: Key words in that sentence are "my website").  This bottle came from Batch 022 and was bottled at 47.1% ABV.  The nose has some citrus peel, herbs, fresh cut fruit and vegetal notes and after while some alcohol starts to come through as well.   The mouthfeel is great, chewy and sticky with honey sweetness along with classic gin notes.  The finish has white ppeer and the alcohol dries the mouth quite quickly.   The addition of tonic water cuts the thickness and sweetness so this works really well in classic G&T format.

    Monday, 25 September 2017 08:39

    Aberlour a’bunadh (Batch 53)

    The nose on this version of the popular cask strength (59.7%) Aberlour has lots of rich, dark fruits and maltiness.  The Oloroso sherry casks used to mature this expression also say hello!  The taste (neat) is also very rich and drying with dark chocolate, cinnamon, ginger cake and prunes.  The Oloroso casks are now shouting out hello!  The finish is rather hot and dry, heavily spirit rather than wood influenced, which is not a surprise at this ABV.  With a little water it becomes sweeter with some more sharp citrus notes and more oak bite.

    Saturday, 16 September 2017 12:51

    Officer's Choice

    Technically this Indian product is not whisky (by most definitions) but it is sold as whisky in India, and it is sold a lot. If you want to take a pass on a 40% ABV bottle of spirit that costs under $5 USD a bottle, then I understand. However I can assure you if you have ever tried a few of the abundant “rushed to market”, overly innovative, no age statement officially-whisky products in the market today you have almost certainly tasted something much, much worse than this stuff.   The nose is fruity with acetone and fresh paint notes along with sweet rum and raisin ice cream. The taste is not bad at all, very smooth and sweet, as much a rum as a whisky. Vanilla, milk chocolate and some odd notes, maybe rubber or plastic.   Some oak comes through in finish with some bitter and drying notes.

    Saturday, 16 September 2017 12:50

    The Arran Malt Amarone Cask Finish

    This expression bottled at 50% ABV and finished in Italian red wine casks. The nose has malt fruit cake and a bite of alcohol. Sweet and spicy. The neat taste is a little robust and harsh with dried sweet fruits, vanilla, pepper, orange peel, chocolate and spices. The finish is hot and oaky and shows some youth (this is a No Age Statement expression so it almost certainly contains some younger spirit). It is better with a little water, it gets smoother with some brown sugar notes. Overall complex and tasty but a little rough around the edges.

    Saturday, 16 September 2017 12:48

    The Macallan 12 year old Double Cask

    My note book says… “Sweet but this expression shows Macallan at his best.   Licking chilli marmalade off a wellington boot.”   This pretty much says it all, but if you are interested here are some more detailed notes. The nose has some of the famous Macallan rubber notes, tarmac on hot summer’s day along with fruit cake and malt. The taste is a little oaky at first but then caramel, barely sugar, orange peel and Christmas spices. The mouth feel is smooth, even glassy. The finish has white pepper, oak and sweet sherry fruit notes. With water it gets a little more buttery and creamy, a little more rubber and heat also come through in finish.

    Friday, 11 August 2017 20:40

    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.

    Saturday, 05 August 2017 16:12

    Manhattan Project: Experiment #36

    Location: Oak Room, Fairmont Palliser, Calgary, Canada

    Date: July 2017

    Price: $ 18 CAD ($14.22 USD)

    Recipe: Woodford Reserve, sweet vermouth, bitters

    Garnish: Black cherry

    Served: Up

    Comments: I also had a Manhatttan here in April 2016 (MPE#13) but the recipe had changed, though the price was the same.  Still very good.

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

    Thursday, 03 August 2017 02:54

    Whistlepig Straight Rye

    This is a 50% ABV rye distilled in Vermont.   The nose is fruity with popcorn and very clean and fresh. The taste has mint, green grass, toffee, flat cola and milk chocolate. The finish is minty fresh and chocolate. An utterly classic rye whiskey!

    Thursday, 03 August 2017 02:53

    Sweet Lucy

    This is a 35% ABV bourbon based liqueur from the Prichard’s Distillery in Kelso, Tennessee. The nose has sweet caramel, popcorn and freshly sawn wood. The taste has boiled sweets, caramel apple and vanilla with a thick and creamy mouthfeel. The finish has a hint of wood but basically brown sugar with hint of black pepper and some herbal notes. Not terrible but very sweet and it was suggested that it would be good over vanilla ice cream which I would like to try or I thought about adding to some bourbon over ice to make a US version of a Rusty Nail (Scotch and Drambuie)….

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    Random Whisky

    Lysholm Linie Aquavit

    My justification for inclusion of a Norwegian aquavit, not that I need one, is that all whisky is technically aquavit...as in the "the water of life".  In fact the first reference to whisky in Scotland was in fact a reference to Aqua Vitae.  Think of today's whiskies as a product of evolution and Norway's aquavit as the isolated shrew that cut off from rest of world that evolved into a unique species of it's own.  On a recent trip to Norway (one of the increasingly few countries that doesn't produce it's own whisky) I discovered an interesting story about this particular brand of their national drink aquavit that I shall now tell.  Are you sitting comfortably?  Then I will begin. The story goes that a home sick Norwegian in Australia ordered a large consignmment of aquavit to be shipped to him.  The aquavit was loaded into sherry casks and shipped from the northern hemisphere, across the equator (or linie in Norwegian)  to Australia.  Unfortunately by the time it arrived the consignee had passed away and the captain had no other buyers for aquavit in Australia and turned around and took it back to Norway, crossing the linie one more time.  Now when they opened the casks back in the Norway they found the aquavit was the best anyone had ever tried.  This was attributed to the long time spent in sherry casks (it takes a long time to sail to Australia and back), change in climate, cold to warm to cold again and the the gentle rocking to ensure lots of wood to spirit contact.  So now this Linie product is still matured in the same way, loaded into sherry casks and shipped to Australia and back in ships before bottling and guaranteed to have crossed the linie twice.  In fact each bottle includes the details of the vessel and voyage the contents took.  Very cool, as cool as a Norwegian winter's day you might say if you were in search of a easy metaphor.   This sample was bottled at 41.5% ABV.  The nose is very fresh and light; herbal and minty with no sign of any sherry influence.  Rather delicious.  The taste starts with more mint and herbs, fresh grassy and even something like onion (not as bad as it sounds... caramalized onion maybe) and with time a little sweetness like caramel and milk chocolate (perhaps the sherry cask influence).  None of the harshness I was expecting.  The finish has more mint and lingers like toothpaste in the morning and some fruit and caramel notes can be detected.  Overall lacks the complexity or depth of a typical single malt, a bit one dimensional, and the role of sherry casks seems to be to round off rough edges rather than impart flavor (probably lots of refilling going on?) but still interesting and a nice change.