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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Most Recent Whisky

Most Recent Whisky Review

Maker's Mark Private Select

This was picked by Mike Raymond of Houston's Reserve 101 as their 10th anniversary bottling. As the regular readers (both of them) know by now I love Maker's Mark, I love Houston, I love Reserve101 and I have very strong feelings for Mike.  But for some reason this one did not quite work for me, but give it a try as it might for you.   The nose is oaky with some fruity wine notes as well.  Sopem heat from the 55.65% ABV along with calssic vanilla, corn and cola notes.  The taste is hot and a little sharp at first with some black cherry, dark chocolate, jalepeno, burnt caramel and oak char.  The finish is pepper and even a little sour.  With water it gets creamier with some brown sugar and more vanilla. It definately needs a little water (or ice or time) to open it up.

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  • Simon Seaton

    Simon Seaton

    Monday, 07 November 2011 23:09

    Canadian Club

    The nose is nutty cereals with a slight acrid chemical note almost like cleaning fluid or fresh paint, but not unpleasant.  The taste has vanilla and caramel at first and then fades to reveal some spice, pepper and oak.  Slightly bitter in the surprisingly long finish.  This is quite rich and smooth and a little water sweetens it, but bitter oak notes still in the finish.  I suspect the strong flavors would stand up well to ice and the bitter notes would work with a sweet mixer like cola or lemonade.
    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.  

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    Random Whisky

    Dodd's Old Tom Small Batch Gin

    Old Tom is a sweeter style of gin that has fallen out of favour compared to the far more common London Dry gins.  I am obliged to mention that Dodd's comes from The London Distillery Company, the same TLDC that I am a Director and shareholder in, so I am not in any way "neutral" when it come to this product line and that is the only reason there is any gin at all on my "whisky" website.  The Old Tom expression is bottled at 46% ABV compared to Dodd's which is bottled at 50% ABV.  The nose is herbal with citrus peel.  The taste is very soft, even creamy, and sweet with more citrus, honey and a hint of caramel.  The finish is, of course, short and clean.  It is not massively complex (it is a white, unaged spirit) but makes a sweeter, excellent G&T especially with a good squeeze of lime to work in harmony with the citrus notes in the gin.   I recently tasted at the distillery a barrel aged verson of Old Tom and I thought the oak worked well with the sweetness and complimented the slight caramel notes of Old Tom.  Go out and buy some.  Please.