logo

My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Most Recent Whisky

Most Recent Whisky Review

Russell's Reserve Rye 10 year old

I liked the 6 year version and so have been looking forward to trying the 10 year old / 45% ABV expression but to be honest, while still good, I don’t the extra 4 years in cask did anything for this one. Sometimes older does not equal better, sometimes older just means different.  My notes for the nose were “sugar coated sawdust and rose petals” which sums it up very well. The taste at first was very smooth with a delicious burst of sweet caramel popcorn but then started to turn into diet cola and with time oak, showing the signs of 10 years in cask. The finish had some nice rye notes of peppermint but again the age started show with tannins and spices pushing through. Some water revealed some more milk chocolate and chilli notes but some of the sweetness I liked was lost.

Read More
  • Simon Seaton

    Simon Seaton

    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)….

    Thursday, 03 August 2017 02:46

    Manhattan Project: Experiment #35

    Location: Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge, Alaska, USA

    Date: July 2017

    Price: $10.00

    Recipe: As per menu "High West Double Rye, Sweet Vermouth and a dash of bitters"

    Garnish: Maraschino cherry

    Served: Up

    Comments: It was fine and a reasonable price.  Good but not memorable.

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

    Thursday, 03 August 2017 02:38

    Manhattan Project: Experiment #34

    Location: Fred Meyer, Soldotna, USA

    Date: July 2017

    Price: $2.97 (yes $2.97)

    Recipe: Came in a can called "Club Manhattan" which described it as a premium blended whiskey and sweet vermouth.

    Garnish: None

    Served: Rocks

    Comments: Fairly bad example of the genre from a range of Club cocktails in a can, but the price is right....

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

    Thursday, 03 August 2017 01:44

    Balcones True Blue Cask Strength

    What better way could there be to celebrate my blog posting in August 2017 regarding cask strength whisky than to review one. So I did and regular readers (if such an animal exists) will know I have some strong opinions on Balcones and their products ranging from “great” to “get over yourself” and pretty much everything in between. I found this 61.4% ABV bottling of a 100% blue corn recipe to have a nose of caramel, sawdust, banana, vanilla and of course alcohol but in the nose at least the alcohol, while clearly present, did not overpower the elements. The taste was sharp and stringent, sweet with buttery corn but quickly lost in the heat. The finish was pure Johnny Cash whisky, because it just “burns burns burns”. With water it gets a little smoother drinkable and develops some oak and black tea notes. I noted that I may have added too much water but that is my problem with cask strength whisky; I don’t like to “guess” the right amount of water to make something more drinkable and after stripping the inside of my mouth of all living skin cells my palate was beaten into submission anyway.  As I have said Balcomes has the ability to produce great products but this is average at best and once again goes to show that classic recipes and grains (and ABVs) become classics for a reason, and that is they work.  This is average at best.

    I don't need to introduce Martine Nouet to anyone who reads this obscure and occasional blog.  But I am going to.   Martine is a well respected French whisky writer with a penchant for whisky and food pariings and to best of my knowledge she makes her home on Islay (unless some Beexiteers have chased her off by now).  However after reading the attached article (link below) I might worry about the pitchforks and burning torches of the "Cask Strength Brigade" who may upon march upon her cottage chanting their mantra "you can put water in but you can't take it out" and demanding she be burnt in a wicker whisky bottle (a whisker bottle perhaps?) for her herecy.  Why I hear you ask?  What crime against high ABV whisky did she commit?  Well she actually wrote the words "Why I dislike cask strength whisky" on the scotchwhisky.com blog earlier this year. 

    And of course she is 100% proof right.

    https://scotchwhisky.com/magazine/the-way-i-see-it/12917/why-i-dislike-cask-strength-whisky/

    I wish I could write (indeed spell) as well her but I did express almost all the same feelings in my blog in March 2013 .... and I have pasted relevent extract below.

    "Occasionally I have 'humbly' suggested that bottling whiskies at 60%+ ABV doesn’t help the product and I end up having to dilute anyway. Someone will often try and argue that is a good thing because I can “dilute to my personal taste”. I can hear them now chanting the mantra of the ABV obsessed “you can put water in but you can’t take it out, you can put water in but you can’t take it out”. But it is a silly argument. This is whisky, usually expensive whisky, not orange squash. I don’t want to buy concentrate of whisky that I can easily screw up. I want to buy the product presented to me by the people who created it at the ABV they feel best showcases their product. Many chefs don’t have salt on their restaurant tables because they want the diner to enjoy the food as they think it is best seasoned. They want the food to be judged that way and I feel whisky should be the same. I am not saying a few drops of water to open up a dram aren’t necessary, they often are, but presenting me with 60% ABV spirit (often at cost of $100 or more a bottle) and then expecting me to guess the right water content to add to their whisky is a little asinine.  I dont care what the ABV of a whisky is.... I just want it to taste good.  if it does, then I am happy."

    Whiskies Tried...

    Total to Date: 670

    Distilleries

    Visited to Date: 59

    Follow Me on Twitter!

    Random Whisky

    Maker's Mark Cask Strength

    This new expression is supposedly only available at the distillery, but at time of writing in October 2014 it is also available at #houstonsbestbar Reserve 101 and Spec's liquor in downtown Houston.  Unexpected ubiquity aside, as a confirmed “Markersmarkophile” I was very excited to try this. The nose has lots of sweet bubblegum and sawdust, and surprisingly none of the alcohol burn you might expect to find a cask strength expression. Simply put the nose is all that is good and holy about bourbon. The taste is deep, rich and dry, oaky and sweet with coffee, cinnamon and banana bread. Makers Mark on steroids.   The finish is very dry and spicy.   With water it gets sweeter and creamier, a vanilla cake with some spice.   Worth the trip to Kentucky (or apparently downtown Houston) to get some.