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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Most Recent Whisky

Most Recent Whisky Review

Akashi Ume

This Japanese plum flavored whiskey is bottled at 30% ABV.  There is sweet, and then there is "have the number of a good dentist handy" sweet.  This one falls into the second category.  The nose is sweet but also delicately floral.  There are some plum notes are in the taste, more sugarplums than The Nutcracker aand some prunes and jelly babies.  Imagine a whiskey flavored Jelly Bean.  The finish is a thick coating of sugar on the teeth combined with some mint from the toothpaste you will have to keep nearby.

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  • Simon Seaton

    Simon Seaton

    Wednesday, 14 December 2011 18:43

    Ardbeg Alligator

    Also tasted this at Ardbeg Committee meeting in Houston and it was certainly my favorite of the night and perhaps now my favorite Ardbeg.  Will definitely be coming back to this again if I can find it.  The nose has wood smoke rather than peat, lemon peel and is quite sweet but has the tang of salt and even phenol as well.  The taste is very smooth, with lots of sweet fruit and spicy notes.  The finish is oak and drying with peat and smoke.  With a little water I get some lemon notes come through as well.  This has everything, sweetness, spices, oak, peat and all in balance.  Rich and complex this is a special dram. 
    Wednesday, 14 December 2011 18:41

    Ardbeg Corryvrecken

    Tasted this at an Ardbeg Committee meeting in Houston in December 2011, and will revisit for more detailed tasting notes in the future but was perhaps my least favorite in the Ardbeg range (which I love but someone has to be last).  This has a high ABV at 57.1% and I found the nose dominated by alcohol at first and then the peat comes through.  Alcohol also dominates the taste at first, before the balancing sweetness and fruit I associated with Ardbeg can be found.   It is quite smokey in the finish but not hugely complex, I even got some new make spirit type notes.  With a little water the alcohol is subdued and some more subtle chocolate and spice notes are there.  For my palate I just feel there are better Ardbeg options out there.

    Wednesday, 14 December 2011 18:39

    Glenmorangie The Original

    A classic and accessible single malt, but as I say about many others in that category, that is NOT intended as a criticism but a compliment.  The nose is sweet with citrus fruit and vanilla.  The taste is quite light, creamy with orange, peach and licorice and the finish is quite nutty, dry and crisp, oak wood notes and even some smoke.  Not massively complex or deep but still a great whisky.

    Tuesday, 13 December 2011 15:29

    Baker's

    The nose has caramel, vanilla, bubble gum maybe and some wood notes.  In the taste the oak comes through, along with some mint, spices and pepper for a drying, peppery finish.  With water I also get some tobacco notes.  Not wild about this one, I felt it lacked the sweetness in the taste I found in the nose, to balance the oak and spice. 

    Tuesday, 13 December 2011 15:24

    Booker's

    Another high octane, cask strength whisky at 64% ABV,  but interestingly the nose is big enough to not be overpowered by alcohol.  Fruity, maybe lime, some sweet vanilla and the alcohol are all there.   The taste neat has a big burst of alcohol, which fades to reveal sweet chocolate and oak, and is very smooth.  A very dry and clean finish. With water the nose picks up a sweeter, fresh paint note and the oak in the taste in comes up as well.
    Sunday, 11 December 2011 17:42

    GlenDronach Single Cask 1989

    A fantastic single cask bottling.  This is a 20 year old that was distilled in 1989 and matured in Pedro Ximenes sweet sherry casks and the PX really comes through in the nose and taste.   Like other cask strength whiskies, this is bottled at over 55% ABV, I found the wood influence is minimal, considering it spent two decades in a cask, and the spirit and sherry notes dominate.  The nose has the sweet sherry fruits, raisins, prunes and of course alcohol.  Alcohol dominates the taste at first as well, then fades to reveal more sweet sherry, including some chocolate notes, and then a long, very dry finish which has a hint of wood smoke.  Needs a little water to soften the alchohol, and reveal more even depth and complexity.  A great after dinner, sherried whisky, and GlenDronach seems to be a distillery on the rise.  Will look out for more of their products.

    Saturday, 10 December 2011 17:58

    My Favorite Whiskies of 2011

    The rules for this are pretty simple, the whisky has to be one of the hundred or so I have reviewed this year and I will chose my favorites from four whisky making regional categories, Scotch, Irish, American and Rest of the World.  I will also choose my Whisky Family of year.   If I have tasted four or more expressions of whisky (whether it is a single malt or blend) I will rate the family of products in my blog.  Where it is close or in doubt, I will usually lean towards the better value or more accessible whiskies.

     

    Scotch: Chivas Regal 25 year old over Ardbeg Uigeadail for the surprise factor.   I had a strong suspicion I would love the Ardbeg (and I did) but the Chivas Regal 25 really surprised me and despite its hefty price tag it stood out for me this year.   An honorable mention is deserved for both the Talisker and Bunnahabhain 18 year old expressions and the Sheep Dip blended malt as well.

    Irish: Jameson 18 year old Limited Reserve gets slight edge for me over the Redbreast 12 year old.  Both excellent whiskies and the Red Breast is definitely still something I will go back to regularly, but the Jameson 18 year old has some additional complexity and depth the Red Breast doesn't. 

    USA: I am going with Sazerac Rye 18 year old, but I really liked both the Rowan's Creek and Knob Creek bourbons.  For me the standard Sazerac rye completely redefined an entire genre of whisky.  I went from thinking of rye whisky as the stereotypical cowboy "rot gut whiskey" to a complex and fully paid up member of the great whisky club.  The 18 year old Sazerac is just great.

    Rest of World: Forty Creek Premium Barrel (Canada) edges out Amrut Fusion (India), Nikka All Malt (Japan) and Yoichi 10 year old (Japan).  I accept that the Amrut and Yoichi may come out better if you were to rank them on taste alone in a blind tasting but the Forty Creek is staggeringly good value, easy to find (in the USA anyway)  and for me completely over turned my preconceptions of Canadian whiskey based on brands like Crown Royal and Canadian Club.

    Whisky Family: It was close between Famous Grouse range (I really liked the Famous Grouse 12 year old Gold Reserve and Black Grouse) and Chivas Regal, but based on the averages scores I gave during the year, due in part to the Chivas 25 year old getting 4 stars; I am going with Chivas Regal.

    Saturday, 10 December 2011 01:52

    Sazerac Rye 18 year old (Fall 2011)

    What a nose... the rye really comes through and also some sweetness and a note of fresh paint.  The taste is also sweet, with corn and then the rye again.  It's very smooth.  Some pepper in the finish which hangs around for quite a long time, quite drying and even in the finish the rye can be detected.  This is so unlike other whiskies I find it hard to describe all the flavors so I just recommend just sitting back enjoying it.

    Saturday, 10 December 2011 01:44

    Glenfarclas 105

    They say you never forget your first.... cask strength whisky.  And this was mine.  At 60% ABV, the nose is dominated by alcohol and then hints of the sherry butts.  Lots of fruity, classic Speyside notes.  The taste neat is alcohol at first and then as that fades the sherry comes through, dried fruits, christmas cake are all there and then a long, very smooth finish.  Like the Aberlour a'bunadh, the spirit dominates this, wood takes a back seat.  With water (which I think this needs) some wood notes start to come through in a long dry, sherry finish.    Did I mention the sherry?
    Saturday, 10 December 2011 01:37

    Black Grouse

    One of those great ideas from the marketing boys that has potential disaster written all over it... think New Coke.  Take the much loved Famous Grouse blend and beef it up with smokey, peaty Islay malts to create the Black Grouse.  Well in this case kudos to the marketing boys.  The nose of course has the peat smoke but also the Famous Grouse honey sweetness and a hint of chocolate.  The taste is exactly what you would expect, honey sweet and then peat smoke, but well balanced and restrained enough to avoid drowning the honey.  There are also some rich notes, I susepct they beefed up the malts in this blend to stand up to the peat.   Balanced and very good value (I paid $24 in duty free for 1L).

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    Random Whisky

    Midleton Very Rare

    This is (or at least was) in my mind the premium Irish whiskey before Irish whisky got "super trendy" again with all the pot still and other releases and return of the Yellow Spot.  Classic triple distilled, blended Irish fare, Midelton Very Rare is in my mind the Johnie Walker Blue Label of the Emerald Isle.  Usually released every year these notes are for the 2006 bottling.  The nose has fresh dark fruits (plums, berries), dates and is very sweet and creamy.  The taste is silky smooth at first, then more dark fruits (pick one you like, they are all there), then some banana as well before the oak starts to roll in.  The fruits and oak remain in the finish and are joined by some tobacco and even bitter coffee.  There must be some sherry casks in this one!  Really rich and yet still soft and always balanced.  Perhaps lacks the punch of a pot still, but has depth and complexity.