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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Most Recent Whisky

Most Recent Whisky Review

Highland Park Viking Honour 12 year old

The nose on this is salty and fruity, with some seaweed, a hint of rubber and a prick of alcohol even at 43% ABV.    The taste is rich with toffee, burnt coffee, caramel at first then some more acrid camp fire notes and along with bitter fruit peels and spices.  The finish is gentle hum of heat and peppermint along with some smokiness.  At 43% ABV it can take a drop of water and still hold up, but it doesn't need it.  Overall a delicious expression from one of my favourite distilleries.

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  • My project to taste all “101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die” began and ended in the UK, so it was nicely bookended geographically.  It started with a tasting event hosted by Ian Buxton in Aberdeen in May 2011 and ended in June 2012 at my parent’s home in Devon sharing the last bottle with my father who introduced me to scotch in the first place.  Fittingly the last whisky was also perhaps the hardest to find in the book as you can’t buy it at any whisky shop or online retailer.  I had to join the Wine Society in the UK and order a society “members only” bottling.  The year also included some rather hefty bar bills in Singapore, San Antonio (very hefty as I bought a round of Balvenie 30 year old’s without checking the price first), London and Las Vegas, as well as bars closer to home like the excellent Reserve 101 in Houston.  Some big bills for sure but that was still a much more cost efficient way to sample them all than actually buying the 101 bottles.  I also owe the @masterofmalt website with its award winning Drinks by the Dram offering a debt of thanks as well. 

    I think there are some not bad pieces of writing (from someone who was accurately described by his English teacher in a 1982 school report as having a “tendency to make basic mistakes”) but that is not to say there isn’t plenty of banal, repetitive and other poor writing for which I apologize. 

    There was certainly some good whisky… some I knew about, some I didn’t and some that better be good for the price I had to pay.  There was also some that should have been a lot better for the price they charged.  I will write about particular favorites (and the disappointments) in a later blog.  I also learned a lot about value.  I learned there is some good, even great, whisky at low prices, and that paying a lot will almost always get you a very good whisky.  The problem for me usually lies in the middle, overpriced and over hyped brands and products.  People want to charge more than the whisky is really worth and try position their perfectly good whisky as premium product, often simply by putting the average whisky in fancy packaging and charging accordingly.

    It’s a cliché but people always ask so I will answer…. no I don’t have a favorite whisky so far.  This has always been a journey and an education so even the bad ones were good in that respect and therefore I answer the cliché question with a cliché answer, my favorite whisky is always “the next one”.

    Will I try to taste everything in Ian’s latest book, “101 World Whiskies to Try Before You Die”?  The answer is I don’t know.  I want to look at the list, see how many I have already reviewed, and think about it what I would gain from that.  I will need to also try and determine how much it might cost and if I have the budget and my wife has the patience to continue this.   

    Whiskies Tried...

    Total to Date: 690

    Distilleries

    Visited to Date: 66

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    Random Whisky

    Embrujo de Granada

    This Spanish single malt was a rather nice surprise in 101 World Whiskies to Try Before You Die, and certainly, if I am being honest, much better than I expected. Talking of being honest, time for a disclosure. This whisky is not available in the USA so I reached out to their Brand Ambassador (directed by the book’s author Ian Buxton) for help.  Many distilleries have been happy, when I had no option to purchase, to supply me with samples. Some charged me, some didn’t. I didn’t mind either way. One even exchanged the samples in return for a copy of the book (I had two – long story) which they did not even know they were in. The kind people at Embrujo de Granada sent me a bottle as a gift. A full bottle!  What nice people and so I have to admit to being rather taken with them before I had even tried it. The nose is a little grainy with lots of sherry influence. I also got a herbal, almost floral, note. The taste is rich, smooth, fruity and finishes dry. With time milk chocolate, rum and raisin ice cream and vanilla all show up. With water I got little notes of honey and black tea in the long dry finish.  If it sounds rather good, then I did my job. It is rather good and in hindsight Spain does have one unique advantage when it comes to whisky; access to sherry casks. And if, as most experts tell us, the wood is more important that the spirit when it comes to final flavor profile (some say 70/30 others 60/40) then there is no reason why Spain shouldn’t produce very good whisky.