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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

    Monday, 07 November 2011 22:52

    Old Pulteney 12 year old

    The color is golden and the nose is sweet and reminds of bread pudding.  The taste is rich and oily with a honey sweetness and, though hard to identify, definitely some fruits as well.  A slightly salty quality but still sweet and smooth.  An under rated distillery and whisky.  Try it with seafood, the saltiness works really well with fish.
    Monday, 07 November 2011 22:52

    Cutty Sark

    A very pale yellow whisky, especially for a blend, with a hint of green (or is that the iconic green bottle subconsciously appearing in my whisky?)   The nose is strong, cereals dominates, with lemon furniture polish and wax in the background.   The digestive biscuit and cereal flavors are also in the taste with a vanilla, something like cake or bread, or a vanilla animal cracker cookie.  There is some heat and prickle on the tongue as well.   Definitely interesting and not your typical "bagpipes and tartan" blend.

    Update:   I recently retried Cutty Sark and was able to better identify the cake, with the biscuit crumb and some citrus lime in the nose it reminded me of a key lime pie.

    Monday, 07 November 2011 22:50

    Duncan Taylor NC2 Craigellachie 1999

    The whisky is a pale golden straw with banana, citrus fruits, honey and vanilla in the nose.  Even at 46% ABV the nose is quite soft and muted.   Taste is peppery, then honey and toffee which gives way to white wine and leathery notes.  A winey, dry finish with a hint of beeswax.  The whisky sweetens with a little water.  An aperitif whisky which is very approachable,  and for that reason I had 48 bottles of this great single malt packaged by Duncan Taylor for giving to clients in 2010.
    Monday, 07 November 2011 22:49

    Famous Grouse 21 year old

    Nose is soft but has notes of sherry and wine, perhaps port, orange peel and chocolate.  The taste is smooth and mellow with orange, tobacco, dark chocolate and mince pies.  Some mustiness and slight smoke, overall well balanced and fine, but it didn't get me over excited either.   Of all the Famous Grouse blended malts we tried at a tasting at Glenturret distillery, (see Distilleries) including the 10, 12, 15, 18, 21 and 30 year old, this was my favorite and had the best overall balance of wood and spirit.  However given the price point I think the Famous Grouse blended scotch is better value and the Famous Grouse 12 year old Gold Reserve might be a better dram. 
    Monday, 07 November 2011 22:48

    Signatory North British 1997

    A pale gold color with a nose that has cake, butter, raisins , lemon citrus and some sweetness.  The taste had some spice and pepper but with toffee and butterscotch and finishes with marzipan and almonds.  Like blended scotch, grain whisky often takes the back seat to single malt in the whisky world, but this is a great example of why every now and again grain whiskies should call "shotgun" and ride in the front seat.
    Monday, 07 November 2011 22:47

    English Whisky Company Chapter 9

    The color is very pale, almost straw.  The nose is peaty and earthy and at 46% ABV you pick up the alcohol.  For some reason it reminded me of a farmyard.   The taste is dominated by white pepper at first which is then followed by sweetness and smoke.  Lemony citrus notes with a sweet white wine drying finish.  Think "English Ardbeg".
    Monday, 07 November 2011 22:46

    Bushmills Black Bush

    I like Ian Buxton's phrase "Ronseal whisky" and I think that it applies perfectly here.  Don't panic, it just means this is a whiskey that "does what it says on the tin".  A well put together blend of smooth Irish triple distilled whiskies with sherry influence.  The nose gives you a preview of the sherry and some apple and sweetness.  The taste has the dark fruits like raisins and it feels silky in the mouth.  Slightly drying and stringent in the finish.  Well balanced and put together. Sweet, smooth and sherry - just like it says on the tin.

    Monday, 07 November 2011 22:42

    Forty Creek Barrel Select

    Wow!  $20 a bottle for this.   This stuff is amazing value and simply a terrific whisky.  The fact you can't get this in the UK is an international crime Interpol should investigate.  Comes in at 40% ABV with a soft, light nose that hints at the oak to come.  The taste is smooth but does have some pepper heat that fades away to reveal amazing caramel, toffee and bitter dark chocolate.  Slightly drying, stringent finish with the final lingering finish of bitter and toasted oak that stays with you like a great melody, until you can't tell if you are still tasting it or just still thinking about it.

    Complex and brilliant value.  Stop reading this, get up, go out and buy some now.   Unless you live in the UK in which case write to your MP demanding Canada be forced to export this.

    Monday, 07 November 2011 15:05

    Glenfiddich, Speyside, Scotland

    I have visited this distillery in Dufftown (the self titled Malt Capital of the World) on number of occasions and as you would expect for Glenfiddich it is slick and well done.  Supposedly it was the first distillery to open a visitor's center as well as being one of the first distilleries to actively market their single malt whisky, which is now the world's largest selling single malt brand.   The facilities are as good as any distillery I have been too with a large visitor's center, shop and a nice restaurant.  The tastings perhaps are not as generous and free flowing as some of the less commercial tours, however that is not really a complaint but more of an observation.   I also like the fact they are big enough to stay open all year, including Sundays compared to many distilleries, even major ones, that have quite limited seasons and hours for their visitors centers.

    I love their entire range and the 21 year old which is finished in a rum cask, is one of my favorites of all time.  I also got a bottle of the limited release Snow Phoenix as Christmas present in 2010 which was devoured rather too quickly (thanks Dad) and before I started taking detailed tasting notes.   Tammy enjoys the Glenfiddich liqueur over ice as well.

    So what's not too like?  Well for some apparently there is plenty.  Glenfiddich often manages to raise the ire of the scotch whisky anorak community, and at the very least it's popularity and ubiquity seems to turn off those who thrive on recommending obscure distilleries whose total annual liquid output appears to amount to slightly less than most people use to make their morning coffee.    

    That's their loss and leaves more for the rest of us, not that there is much danger of the world running out of Glenfiddich, which in itself makes the world a better place.

    Monday, 07 November 2011 15:01

    Woodford Reserve

    Lemon and toffee apple in the nose.  Also a slight chemical note, like fresh new paint.    The taste has caramel and toffee, some all spice and oaky notes and the overall experience is very smooth and sweet.  The sweetness is very reminiscent of Halloween candy corn.  Tammy called it a "girl's whiskey" as it is very approachable and doesn't have the rougher oak or spicy pepper notes that many whiskies have.

    Whiskies Tried...

    Total to Date: 660

    Distilleries

    Visited to Date: 58

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    Random Whisky

    The Irishman Founders Reserve

    This 40% ABV expression is a blend of 70% single malt and 30% pot still whisky (so I have listed this under Other). The nose is fruity and sweet with a little floral honey. The taste is also sweet with toffee, cinnamon, more honey, black fruits and even some strawberry licorice. The finish is woody, with pepper, black tea and a hint of mint.