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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Most Recent Whisky

Most Recent Whisky Review

Elijah Craig Small Batch

This "no age statement" expression replaced the 12 year old Elijah Craig in 2016.  The nose has vanilla, popcorn and toasted oak.  Oily and peppery on palate, a little honey but not as sweet as nose suggests. Not as balanced as I would like but a little water helped and brought up some caramel sweetness and apple tartness.

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  • Simon Seaton

    Simon Seaton

    Monday, 07 November 2011 23:08

    The Macallan Select Oak

    A refreshing, vibrant nose, fruity, even zesty with alcohol coming through even at 40% ABV.   Toffee taste that fades as some spice and heat build.  Mouth feel is creamy and soft, and hints of vanilla and barley sugars.    With a little water the oak and leathery notes are more detectable but not overpowering.  Not Macallan's finest work but still a nice dram.
    Monday, 07 November 2011 23:07

    Jameson

    The whiskey that started it all for me.  I visited the Jameson distillery in Middleton in 2006 and started drinking whiskey with an "e" from that point almost exclusively until I moved to Scotland in 2009 and discovered whisky (no "e") as well.  

    This blend has a light nose with malt and citrus, like a baked lemon square.  The taste is classic triple distillation.  Sweet and smooth with citrus, banana, toffee, vanilla and oak and slightly drying finish with hints of leather and spice.  When you add water it becomes more honey sweet and floral.  Available everywhere, and I mean everywhere (bars, supermarkets, restaurants, hotel mini bars, gas stations, air planes etc) and always great value, this is nearly always in my house.   Proof positive that great whisky doesn't have to be expensive or exclusive and sometimes large sales numbers reflect the simple fact that the whiskey is very, very good.

    Monday, 07 November 2011 23:06

    Balvenie 21 year old Portwood

    The nose is fragrant and floral, caramel, barley sugar and fruit cake.  The taste is honey at first and then the oak builds during finish (after all it has been in the cask 21 years).  Feels silky in the mouth with floral notes, perhaps heather and lavender, and barley sugar.  Simply delicious.  There is a lot here, and it's all good, not much else needs to be said.
    Monday, 07 November 2011 23:06

    Talisker 18 year old

    A great example of what time can do for a whisky.  Compared to Talisker 10 year old this is much more mature, smooth and for my money, drinkable whisky.    The nose is dominated by peat.  The taste is initially sweet and has the signature pepper Talisker is known for, but much more subdued.  Smoke dominates, but doesn't over power, and fruit, butterscotch and toffee are all there in the background.   Smoke lingers in the finish.  If like me you find the 10 year Talisker a little rough and ready and lacking finesse, then seek this one out.  It is worth the extra investment.
    Monday, 07 November 2011 23:05

    Glenfiddich 18 year old

    I can't understand the Glenfiddich haters.   This is the company that started marketing single malt whisky in the 1960s, built the first visitor's center at their distillery and their whisky is highly approachable.  The 18 year old version has a fruity nose, with some citrus and sherry.  The taste is smooth and quite thick and chewy (for a 40% ABV whisky).  Fruit and caramel at first, which gives way to oak.  The finish is drying with leather and tobacco notes and long.  Wood has the upper hand over spirit but still in balance.
    Monday, 07 November 2011 23:04

    Bunnahabhain 18 year old

    The nose is sweet and malty with cooked fruits and sherry.   Can I smell the sea or is that just the power of suggestion?  The taste is rich and oily, more cooked fruit and some sweetness, dark chocolate, toffee and black tea.  Oak in the finish and a touch of leather.  Not your typical Islay, but still a great whisky.
    Monday, 07 November 2011 23:03

    Aberlour a’bunadh (Batch 34)

    Despite a hefty 59.5% ABV the nose is soft and warm with a slight maltiness, like a digestive biscuit.   The taste is powerful and mouth coating.  Bitter orange and some dark chocolate notes.  Not too much wood influence, the spirit and sherry dominate.  Needs a little water, which brings out the orange even more and ups the sweetness.  Powerful stuff, not for the beginner.
    Monday, 07 November 2011 23:02

    Yoichi 10 year old

    Another  example supporting the argument that Scotland does not have a monopoly on great single malt whisky.   This was actually the first Japanese whisky I tried and I was immediately impressed.  The nose is complex, malty sweet, sherry, fruits and a hint of oak.  The taste is sweet at first, smooth and mouth coating, rich and beautiful like a fruitcake.  Some peppery heat builds and the finish is long and drying with a little smoke.   With water it becomes sweeter and even slightly perfumed.  A fantastic after dinner whisky.

    Monday, 07 November 2011 23:01

    Ballantine's 17 year old

    I like the subtlety and complexity of blended scotch and this is a great example of a well crafted blend. The nose is malty sweet with lemon and some vanilla and oak.  The taste is creamy with oak and a hint of smoke.  Water brings up floral honey, pears, banana and vanilla.  Beautiful balance.  
    Monday, 07 November 2011 23:01

    Nikka All Malt

    I first tried this at Whisky Live London and I wrote in my notes that it was my favorite sample that day, however my notes were a little erratic after a full day sampling whisky.   The nose has apples, bananas and toffee.  The taste is a little spicy and peppery at first which fades to reveal sour fruits, milk chocolate and nuts, maybe almonds.   Tasty.

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    Random Whisky

    Mortlach Special Strength

    When the much revered Mortlach distillery released a series of No Age Statement whiskies it caused quite a little online kerfuffle (OK…. It was outright pissing and moaning) due to price point and bottle size.  This one comes in 500 ml and this is the travel retail expression from the series bottled at 49% ABV, hence the name. The nose was rich and spicy with candied orange peel and some alcohol. However for me at least none of the famous “meat” notes that other find.  The taste is a little sharp at first (a drop of water does not this one) and then gives way dried fruits, cinnamon and black tea. There is also some oak that becomes smoked and even candied bacon (meaty I guess). The finish has brown sugar, coca cola and spice. With some water the spice in the taste goes down and some more wood notes and sweetness comes up with some lemon peel as well.