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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

    Monday, 05 December 2011 19:48

    Caol Ila 12 year old

    When I go back to Islay this distillery and Bunnahabain are going to the top of my must visit list. The nose has peat smoke but also some complexity and subtle fruit notes I could not quite define but kept me interested.   The taste is smooth and silky with vanilla, fudge even toffee along with green grass or maybe green wood.  The peat is also there and builds for a long smoky but not overpowering finish with perhaps a hint of salty sea spray. A more understated and sophisticated Islay.
    Saturday, 03 December 2011 15:53

    Cragganmore 12 year old

    I first tried this one at a tasting led by Gordon Muir (see links) in Aberdeen in 2009.  I don't have any detailed tasting notes from that event but this was one of my least favorite whiskies that day. However, as often happens when I revisit a whisky I haven't tried in a while, my most recent tasting of Cragganmore in bar was a nice surprise.  This time I got fruit in the nose and lots of vanilla and even butterscotch in the taste.  Overall quite light and a dry woody finish with a hint of smoke.  
    Saturday, 03 December 2011 15:40

    The Macallan 10 year old Sherry Oak

    Another milestone whisky in my journey.  This is the standard Macallan expression in the UK (internationally the standard is a 12 year old expression so I have been unable to get a dram or bottle to more write detailed notes since moving back).  I have tried this many times and it is a smooth, sweet and rich single malt that sparked my interest in trying more scotch whisky after I attended a malt whisky tasting in July 2009 led by Gordon Muir (www.whiskytutor.com).  This is definitely become one of my "go to" single malts.   The nose has the sherry you expect and also an interesting rubber note.  The taste is classic sherried malt, rich and fruity, complex and very smooth.  Fantastic.
    Saturday, 03 December 2011 02:45

    A Whisky Bubble May Be Out There

    I have no problem with people who want to collect whisky.  Good luck to them.  I collect rocks so I shouldn't throw stones (the goods news though is that I have lots of stones to throw if required).  However I do have a slight question about what they are actually collecting if there is no intention to drink it.  It seems to me, to paraphrase Jim Martin, The Malted Muse (www.themaltedmuse.com) that whisky is a drink.  Every definition describes it as a drink.  You drink whisky.  Therefore if you have no intention of drinking the stuff in the bottle, whatever it is, it cannot be whisky as it is not a drink.

    As for whisky as investment, after 21 years in the oil and gas industry and watching oil prices rise and fall, it struck me that whisky is just another commodity to trade and the phenomenon of rising prices and the meteoric rise of the WM index in Whisky magazine, which if I am reading it right has increased by 300% in just 2 years,  has the potential to be another investment bubble as people are buying whisky which while in short supply or rare right now, it could be available in greater quantities in the future, and will be, if prices continue to rise.

    This is the same phenomenon we see with oil, with the recent oil peak of $147 / bbl in 2008 then it dropped to $40 in a few weeks.  The market price of oil is driven by demand, and in general global energy demand is increasing, which in turn attracts speculative investment as commodity price rises, which in turn drives up demand, and with no short term supply available to suddenly meet new demand, leads to greater price escalation, further speculative investment and the cycle continues. 

    Then of course the oil producers see the higher price, drill more wells and invest more capital to produce more oil (all which takes time, sometimes years) and eventually, often slowly, they increase production and the supply in reaction to the higher prices.  Once supply can meet demand then the inflation caused by speculation is reversed the price begins to fall again. 

    The effect on price is even more pronounced if increased oil supply coincides with a drop in demand as happens in a recession and then price can literally collapse.  We saw $10 / bbl oil when the Asian economies slumped in late 1990s just as OPEC had ramped up production to meet what it thought was growing demand in the mid 1990's due to global economic growth and in particular the "Asian Tiger" economies.  As Time magazine said at the time, the world was "drowning in oil".  The same happened with the credit crisis in 2008. Global demand declined in part driven by the high energy costs, and oil price collapsed.

    So back to collecting whisky.   If there isn't enough supply of collectable whisky today then prices become artificially inflated due in part at least to speculation as we see in the index, and like oil, it is not possible to increase the supply quickly.  However, just like the collectors, I am sure the distilleries will be looking at today's prices, and my guess is many of them will be laying down and planning more "collectable whisky" for that market in the future and saving casks to release later than they would usually to capture those premium (and artificial) prices, just like an oil company drilling more wells for increased future production, and eventually there will be over supply and prices will fall.   In addition, if the WM index continues to rise then the eventually costs will escalate to a point that they drive down demand (just as high energy costs drove down demand as people look to reduce their energy consumption) and reduced demand coupled with over supply means that the bubble will burst.  I think it is possible to envisage a scenario where the world is "drowning in collectable whisky" (which I have to admit would not be a bad way to go).   Bowmore can produce a lot of 50 year old Bowmore if they just wait long enough.

    After 21 years in the oil and gas industry I think the potential for a whisky bubble is out there, and the more prices escalate and the WM Index rises, the greater the risk.   It seems I am in good company on this position as well.... here is a link to an excellent recent article by Ian Buxton on the same subject of whisky as a potential investment  http://www.just-drinks.com/comment/comment-spirits-is-investing-in-whiskey-as-good-as-they-say_id105625.aspx

    Saturday, 03 December 2011 02:27

    The Glenlivet 15 year old French Oak Reserve

    The nose is delicious, fruity, even nutty with vanilla.  The taste is sweet and very smooth, with dried fruits.  The finish is not long, but dry with some wood and tobacco notes.  This is well balanced and another excellent Glenlivet product.
    Saturday, 03 December 2011 02:14

    The Macallan 18 year old Sherry Oak

    This is sometimes refered to as the "Rolls Royce of Whisky", often by Macallan marketing department, but this is good stuff.  The nose has sherry (no surprise), dried fruits, orange peel and dark chocolate.  None of the slight rubbery note in the nose I get with younger Macallan expressions.  The taste is very smooth and rich, creamy and even after 18 years in a cask not overly woody or oaked.   Really well balanced, drying with leather and perhaps a little smoke in the finish.  An after dinner treat and one of my favorites.
    Saturday, 03 December 2011 02:06

    Bruichladdich Links

    The nose is sweet, brown sugar, molasses maybe even rum.  A little alcohol comes through as well at 46% ABV.  The taste is sweet at first, with toffee, vanilla, baked cereal notes, overall quite light and creamy.  A long oak, spice and ginger finish.  Becomes a little sweeter and creamier with water.  OK, but not great.
    Thursday, 01 December 2011 01:32

    Jack Daniel's Old No 7

    The nose is sweet, candy, perhaps corn syrup, with fresh paint and sawdust.    This one is quite smooth and sweet, vanilla to the fore and perhaps some dark chocolate as well.  Not overly complex, with some slightly bitter oak notes, and perhaps more fresh paint, in the quite short finish. 

    Thursday, 01 December 2011 01:22

    Jim Beam White Label

    A classic American whiskey brand.  The nose has vanilla, caramel and some sweet candy notes, almost bubble gum.  The taste does not quite deliver on the sweetness and vanilla in the nose, though they are there, the taste is more woody.  The finish is quite drying, spicy and oaky and there is some pepper, presumably from the high rye content used in Jim Beam.  
    Wednesday, 30 November 2011 02:33

    Johnnie Walker Red Label

    The nose has alcohol, charred wood, and slight hint of musty old books.  The taste is sweet at first, chocolate, even maraschino cherry, and smooth.  The finish has peat and smoke.  I quite like this, its not the Blue or Gold Label but I definately find it a little smoother and approachable than the Black Label.   

    Whiskies Tried...

    Total to Date: 681

    Distilleries

    Visited to Date: 66

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    Random Whisky

    Wild Turkey Rare Breed Barrel Proof

    Wild Turkey Rare Breed was one of the best bourbons I discovered while trying all the 101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die so iIwas very interested when I saw this 112 proof (or 56% ABV) expression in a Texas liquor store.  The nose was dominated by alcohol with sweet grainy notes of corn and rye and some butter.  The taste was oaky at first with caramel, vanilla and sweet brown sugar.  The finish was a little hot and spicy with grassy rye notes.  With a little water it became sweeter and mellow with some black pepper notes.