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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

    Sunday, 20 November 2011 11:05

    The Tricky Ones

    You may have noticed the whisky countdown jump from 30 or so when the web page went live in early November to 45 as of November 20th.  I thought it was worth pointing out that I have still been catching up on tasting notes from the last year or so and entering them into my web page content management system.  However that exercise is now complete and I can start to look forward to the challenge ahead of finding the remaining 56 or so (which is slightly complicated by the fact the book was written in UK and I now live in the USA).  I also thought I would discuss my self selected "rules" for completing the task of trying and reviewing all 101 whiskies in Ian Buxton's list.

    Firstly I must have tried the whisky since reading the book in 2010.  I can not claim a whisky I have tried before reading the book - ie Black Grouse or Laphroig Quartercask.  I have decided I must try them again and write a review with my tasting notes to complete the list.  Secondly I do not have to buy a bottle, (the book says I have to try them, not own them) and therefore for some of the more expensive and hard to find whiskies I am going to whisky bars and drinking and making notes there.  This is a more economical way to complete the task but it does get me the odd strange look in bars when I start sniffing the glass and writing notes.  Third, I am also allowing organized whisky tasting events to count, for example I am counting the five whiskies I tasted at Ian Buxton's tasting event in Aberdeen in 2011.  However I am not counting the "sample pours" handed out at whisky shows or distillery tours etc.  Finally I have discovered the world of whisky miniatures.  Some of the more common whiskies in the list can be bought in 5 cl bottles.  That helps a lot too, especially for ones I have tried before and I just want to remind myself of and write some notes. 

    But even with those increased odds of success, and wide range available on the internet now (which feels way too easy sometimes and so I consider it my last resort, I much prefer to browse a good liquor store or airport duty free in major international hub) I still think the following whiskies are going to be hard to track down in USA and will probably be some of the last ones I find.  If you have any suggestions or ideas I would love to hear them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    Glen Breton  - Canadian single malt.  I have never seen this in US or in any whisky bars.

    Hibiki 30 year old - Japanese blend.  Hard to find anywhere.  Will be looking for this one in a bar due to high price ($500+ / bottle)

    Mellow Corn - US corn whisky.  They don't distribute this in Texas, will have to look in other states.

    The Wine Society Special Highland Blend - You have to be a member of the UK wine society, which I am not, to order this one.

    Sunday, 20 November 2011 10:42

    Dallas Dhu, Forres, Scotland

    This is not a working distillery, but an old distillery now maintained as a whisky distilling museum by Historic Scotland, that used to produce the Dallas Dhu single malt.  It is quite frankly not a very good concept for a museum, considering the scotch whisky industry is booming, new distilleries are opening all the time and this one is in the heart of Speyside, where there are dozens of working distilleries with visitor centers, many with longer histories than Dallas Dhu and probably all with better known brands, that all produce whisky in the same way.  So why would you go and walk around a dead one that used to produce a whisky no-one has ever heard of?  The fantastic little Benromach is in the same town (and closer to the main road) so just go there.  Morbid curiosity meant that one day we did find ourselves driving to Forres to see it and we found it closed with a sign in the office window saying "out to lunch".  I couldn't agree more.  
    Sunday, 20 November 2011 10:24

    Tobermory, Mull, Scotland

    What's the story Tobermory?  This is an unusual review because I didn't actually get to tour this distillery.  We did go there, we drove all the way across Mull and arrived there in middle of afternoon in plenty of time only to be told that all the tours for the day were sold out.  I was little pissed off, but that was made much worse by the visitor center staff there who seemed to think that somehow I should have known better than to vist their distillery without a prior apointment,  Let's say their attitude grated to the extent that my notebook simply says under the Tobermory entry "No. No. No."   It was made worse by the fact that I really wanted to try their fifteen year old but they were sold out.  Sold out at the bloody distillery shop - how does that happen?  Didn't strike me as the most organized place and the complete opposite of all my distillery experiences before (and after) that date.  I vowed then (yes I actually vowed) to not drink Tobermory but then it turns out the 15 year old is in the 101 Whiskies to Try Before you Die list (damn) and that the Malted Muse has also bottled a limited edition single cask Tobermory (double damn) so I have decided to break my vow (for now).  Consider yourself lucky Tobermory, very lucky.
    Saturday, 19 November 2011 04:45

    Glenturret 10 year old

    We visited the Glenturret distillery, aka The Famous Grouse Experience, a couple of times while we lived in Scotland. This whisky is one of those that can generate some big differences of opinions (check out the Scotchcast and Malted Muse podcasts on the Glenturret).  The nose on the 10 year old has cereal and new make spirit notes. The taste is soft and light, with more cereals and malt, caramel, vanilla and possibly banana (banana custard maybe).  The finish?  Let's be nice and say it is oaky, but subtle and not long.

    Saturday, 19 November 2011 04:06

    Dalwhinnie 15 year old

    The nose is light and fragrant with floral and cereal notes.  Quite enticing.  The taste has honey, heather, vanilla and malty sweetness.  The mouth feel is quite oily and the finish is slightly perfumed.
    Saturday, 19 November 2011 03:50

    Dalmore 12 year old

    I must confess to a slighty negative impression of Dalmore.  They seem to focus on producing ludicrously expensive whiskies... three bottles for $150,000+ each, which is just wrong because if you did actually buy that you would have to be crazy to actually drink it!  So that grumble aside...   the nose on their slightly more affordable 12 year old is sweet and attractive, with some malt and citrus and maybe some leather and tobacco.  The taste is complex, raisins, fruit, spicey and some oak in the finish.  The finish also has some of the same leather and tobacco notes as the nose.  Complex and good... maybe I need to start saving the $150,000...
    Saturday, 19 November 2011 03:34

    Bowmore Tempest

    I first tried 10 year old Tempest at Whisky Live and my notes say it didn't stand up well to 15 year old big brother The Darkest.  The nose is sweet, perhaps sherry and some smoke and saltiness.  The mouth feel is quite light and the taste is sweet and a little fruity, again with the sherry, and then the pepper and peat come through for slightly harsh finish for me.  Not overly complex.   It is not The Tempest fault, but I like The Darkest so much that I am afraid this just pales in comparison (pale, darkest.... geddit?)
    Saturday, 19 November 2011 03:27

    Lagavulin 16 year old

    The nose has the expected peat and little prick of alcohol and some malty, even nutty, sweetness.  The taste has peat as well, green apples, some caramel and some salt.  Rich and spicy with a long smokey finish.  Not an everyday dram, but delicious.
    Saturday, 19 November 2011 03:18

    Chivas Regal 25 year old

    This is good.  The nose has sweet orange, almost like a Fanta, and little a sherry.  The taste is smooth, creamy and sweet.  The orange from the nose is there, and toffee and chocolate, spices in the finish and some subtle, subdued oak (considering 25 years in a cask).  There is also some smoke in the finish.

    A great smooth, sweet and complex dram... the only problem is the price.  I bought a dram in a whisky bar and it cost over $40!!  However on balance I have to say this is a spectacular whisky and once again it shows just how good blended whisky can be.

    Friday, 18 November 2011 01:59

    Talisker 10 year old

    We visted Skye in 2009 and I drank the local whisky for the few days we were on the island.  The jagged Talisker whisky was a good choice considering the terroir of Skye and the jagged Cuillin hills which over shadow the distillery.   The 10 year old Talisker has a peaty and smokey nose.  The taste has lots of spice, pepper, cinnanom and cloves and in the background there are some sweet malty notes.  Smoke and peat dominate the finish with some bitter oak but I don't find any great complexity here, just lots of spice, pepper and smoke.  I prefer the more subtle and rounded 18 year old.  Back in the cask for you and call me in 8 years.

    Whiskies Tried...

    Total to Date: 660

    Distilleries

    Visited to Date: 58

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    Random Whisky

    Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition

    I was very pleasantly surprised by this 40% ABV, travel retall expression.  It far exceeded my admittedly low expectations and became my Christmas 2017 "go-to" drink.  I refuse to say 'dram' in this case because it is of course Irish and not Scotch.   The nose is rich and oily, lemon furniture polish combined with sweet cocoa.  The taste is very smooth and creamy with cocoa and coffee.  I wrote down "tiramisu" in my notes which I think captures the creamy sweetness very well.   The finish has a lttle bite to balance the taste with some black pepper and bitter citrus peel.  With water some toffee notes that just further highllight the many dessert-like qualites of this one.   I really liked and so smooth and sweet I think it might be a good one to try on someone who insists they don't like whiskey.