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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, 28 November 2011 14:25

    Rowan's Creek

    The nose has a little prick of alcohol (this comes at 50% ABV) followed by caramel and charred oak notes and vanilla.  The taste is sweet at first, but not sickly, with sweet corn, toffee and some fruity notes.  The spice builds and includes coffee and pepper and then an oaky, but not bitter, finish.  Well balanced and very delicious. 
    Monday, 28 November 2011 14:18

    Glenkinchie 12 year old

    I have fond memories of this whisky as one of the first single malts I tried, I found it very approachable and closer in style to my favorite Irish brands than many other brands of single malt scotch.  Perhaps my palate has changed or it was just the effects of nostalgia but this tasting left me a little disappointed.  The nose was grassy, maybe even hay and straw, with some malt sweetness.  The taste was buttery and light, floral with heather, and then faded to an oaky, even bitter finish.  The finish left a nice soft gingery tingle, like the pickled ginger in a sushi bar. Good but not great.
    Monday, 28 November 2011 14:03

    The Singleton of Dufftown 12 year old

    I was always a little wary of this whisky.  For a start the name seems to be implying a "single cask" bottling which it isn't.  There are in fact three different Singleton expressions (that I know of), the others include the Singleton of Glendullan and Singleton of Glen Ord,  and I find the marketing and this concept a little confusing (it was not clear to me until recently that each was from a different distillery) and so I have to believe other consumers do as well.  I found the nose on this one fresh and malty, perhaps with a hint of new make, and then some dried fruits and sherry, like a christmas fruit cake.  The taste is quite rich, spicy, warming, and well balanced and nothing really stood (good or bad).  There was some oak and possibly even a hint of smoke in the finish.  I added a little water to try and bring out some other notes but all that did was kill the whisky and I got nothing new after that.  While I am usually happy to add a little water to single malts, this comes at 40% ABV and didn't seem to stand up very well when water was added.
    Sunday, 27 November 2011 17:33

    What's the Color of Whisky?

    Let's start with the single biggest issue I face as Brit living in the USA at this time in the twenty first century, is it... color or colour?  Well I am going to let Microsoft Word be the judge (other word processing packages for PCs are available... I think, although I have never seen one since Word Perfect in the late 1990s) and as I get red squiggly line when I type colour, and color has the one less letter for a 14% reduction in effort, for consistency in this blog entry I am going with color.  Same for flavor.

    I think it is fair to say that majority of the whisky community, who have expressed a preference, say they would prefer their single malt whisky came non-colored, that the producer did not add the coloring agents which are sometimes used to give a consistent color to their brand due to the slight inconsistencies that maturation in casks can create.  Some single malts in fact exploit this preference and take pride in claiming to be non colored.

    So why then do so many formal tasting notes I read, often written by the same community members who express concerns about coloring agents, bother to state a color for the whisky?  Surely if color is not important and in fact a variation in color is fine with the whisky community do we insist on formally identifying the color.  This seems inconsistent and sends a very mixed message to the whisky producer that we associate certain colors with certain whiskies and therefore they need the consistency that the use of coloring agents gives them. 

    I don't care about the color and I rarely comment on it during my tasting notes unless something jumps out as being at odds with expectations or even the taste.  But in general they are just tasting notes.  I have never "liked" a whisky because of its color, nor have I found a color so displeasing that I couldn't drink the whisky (but I then have never seen Loch Dhu).  So why do I care if others do comment on color?  Well I just think if we perhaps removed the reference to color from tasting notes and reviews altogether then producers would get a clear message that the whisky buying community doesn't care what color their whisky is – as long as it tastes good.

    We know that you can sometimes tell or at least guess some taste profiles based on whisky's color, but we have also all been surprised that rich fruity but pale, light whisky or that dark mahogany whisky that was light and soft.  The description of a "blind tasting" to me suggests strongly to get the best possible taste description the color of the whisky should be ignored anyway.  I accept the term blind tasting is also used to refer to being blind to the producer and origin of the whisky as well, but it seems the root of the phrase is clear, that seeing something before tasting it can be misleading and set expectations or even suggest to the taster certain flavors before it is even sampled.

    So I am suggesting that if the consumer demonstrates clearly they don't care what color the whisky is, by ignoring it, the producer then has no need to color it (no one would choose to spend the extra time and money coloring whisky if they didn't have to).  However by reviewing whisky and stating its color in numerous books and guides in many ways we are setting the expectation of color for that brand and expression that forces the producer to then color their whisky and the cycle continues.

    Perhaps some blends targeted specifically at the whisky and lemonade brigade (not that there's anything wrong with that) would still require consistent color to prevent consumers concerns, but the single malts are targeting the more discerning whisky buyer and so we should perhaps just all agree to stop talking and writing about a whisky's color?

    Friday, 25 November 2011 20:26

    My First (and worst) Whisky Joke

    As it is the holiday season in the USA I thought I would post my first whisky joke.  I will see how many I can come up (or steal) as I develop this site.

    Knock, Knock.   Who's there?  Knocked.  Knocked who?  That's right, Knockdhu distillery, the makers of AnCnoc.

    If you can do better then please email it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or enter as a comment on the Blog tab.  Happy holidays.

    Tuesday, 22 November 2011 14:44

    Old Pulteney, Wick, Scotland

    Just like the girl in college who broke your heart and you never quite got over, this is the distillery that got away.  As I mentioned in Reviews I really like this whisky and I decided in May 2011 to go and visit Wick and the far North of Scotland and take in Glenmornagie and Old Pulteney.  Unfortunately it was not to be.  Traffic, single lane highways and poor planning meant I finally got to Wick at 4:10pm in the afternoon that day, and the visitor's center closed at 4:00.   Now I will never her see her stills.  I peered through some windows, took my photos and drove on to John O Groats, the northerly tip of Scotland where the UK mainland, like my luck, ended.
    Tuesday, 22 November 2011 00:21

    Bruichladdich 15 year old

    Nose is soft with baked bread, spice (maybe ginger bread) and some dark fruit sweetness like raisins or prunes.  The taste is quite harsh at first, white pepper but that fades to reveal a complex and sweet interior, golden syrup, honey, even malt.  A long oak but not harsh finish, better at the end than the beginning.  With water I found it thinned out and the oakiness came up to the point of being bitter, the delicious sweet notes were masked by oak.  Definately pass on the water on this.
    Monday, 21 November 2011 02:52

    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. 

    Monday, 21 November 2011 02:06

    Dewar's 12 year old

    If you have read many of my reviews you will know I like blends.  And I like this one.  The nose has cereal notes (a little surprising for 12 year old)  and some citrus fruit.  The taste is very smooth and has some oak, honey sweet and floral, not overly complex but well balanced. The finish is dry and lingering with perhaps a little smoke.
    Monday, 21 November 2011 01:49

    Knob Creek

    This comes at 50% ABV and the nose has alcohol plus some vanilla, toffee and banana. The taste is sweet and complex, delicious and spicy.  This is really good stuff and I liked it.  With water even sweeter with more fruits and some spice and perhaps really good (not bitter) coffee.  Hint of oak on the finish. 

    Whiskies Tried...

    Total to Date: 660

    Distilleries

    Visited to Date: 58

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    Random Whisky

    Whyte and MacKay Thirteen

    Clever bit of marketing by Whyte and MacKay… everyone (and their dog) has a 12 year old scotch in their line but no one bottles 13 year old expressions. Thirteen is unlucky for some perhaps, but lucky for me as I like this expression. The nose is malty and sweet, similar to the W&M Special blend, with chocolate shortbread biscuits and pears. The taste is smooth and malty sweet, some creamy vanilla notes as well as dried fruits. The finish has some oak astringency and spicy chai tea.