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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Most Recent Whisky

Most Recent Whisky Review

Mortlach 12 year old

The nose on 43.4% expression is very floral with some wheaty breakfast biscuits and spicy notes.  The taste is very smooth with baked spiced apples (maybe even slightly burnt) caramel and honey.  The finish has some slow building heat along with some Bovril (salty / meaty) notes.  Reminded me of good Texas barbeque brisket with strong spice bark.  Overall a ittle too much burnt, salty and bitter notes with not enough sweetness to balance it for me. 

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  • Simon Seaton

    Simon Seaton

    Monday, 21 November 2011 02:52

    Jim Beam Black

    This one of those whiskies from a major brand that reminds you that good whisky isn't limited to small artisan brands and doesn't have to be expensive.  The nose on this has sweetness, vanilla (a bit like fudge) and some fruit and perhaps a little fresh paint.  The taste is sweet has some soft spice (cloves, cinnamon and even coffee) and a little oak in the finish.  Good stuff neat and with water gets a little sweeter, brown sugar, vanilla and some fruit. 

    Monday, 21 November 2011 02:06

    Dewar's 12 year old

    If you have read many of my reviews you will know I like blends.  And I like this one.  The nose has cereal notes (a little surprising for 12 year old)  and some citrus fruit.  The taste is very smooth and has some oak, honey sweet and floral, not overly complex but well balanced. The finish is dry and lingering with perhaps a little smoke.
    Monday, 21 November 2011 01:49

    Knob Creek

    This comes at 50% ABV and the nose has alcohol plus some vanilla, toffee and banana. The taste is sweet and complex, delicious and spicy.  This is really good stuff and I liked it.  With water even sweeter with more fruits and some spice and perhaps really good (not bitter) coffee.  Hint of oak on the finish. 
    Sunday, 20 November 2011 11:05

    The Tricky Ones

    You may have noticed the whisky countdown jump from 30 or so when the web page went live in early November to 45 as of November 20th.  I thought it was worth pointing out that I have still been catching up on tasting notes from the last year or so and entering them into my web page content management system.  However that exercise is now complete and I can start to look forward to the challenge ahead of finding the remaining 56 or so (which is slightly complicated by the fact the book was written in UK and I now live in the USA).  I also thought I would discuss my self selected "rules" for completing the task of trying and reviewing all 101 whiskies in Ian Buxton's list.

    Firstly I must have tried the whisky since reading the book in 2010.  I can not claim a whisky I have tried before reading the book - ie Black Grouse or Laphroig Quartercask.  I have decided I must try them again and write a review with my tasting notes to complete the list.  Secondly I do not have to buy a bottle, (the book says I have to try them, not own them) and therefore for some of the more expensive and hard to find whiskies I am going to whisky bars and drinking and making notes there.  This is a more economical way to complete the task but it does get me the odd strange look in bars when I start sniffing the glass and writing notes.  Third, I am also allowing organized whisky tasting events to count, for example I am counting the five whiskies I tasted at Ian Buxton's tasting event in Aberdeen in 2011.  However I am not counting the "sample pours" handed out at whisky shows or distillery tours etc.  Finally I have discovered the world of whisky miniatures.  Some of the more common whiskies in the list can be bought in 5 cl bottles.  That helps a lot too, especially for ones I have tried before and I just want to remind myself of and write some notes. 

    But even with those increased odds of success, and wide range available on the internet now (which feels way too easy sometimes and so I consider it my last resort, I much prefer to browse a good liquor store or airport duty free in major international hub) I still think the following whiskies are going to be hard to track down in USA and will probably be some of the last ones I find.  If you have any suggestions or ideas I would love to hear them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    Glen Breton  - Canadian single malt.  I have never seen this in US or in any whisky bars.

    Hibiki 30 year old - Japanese blend.  Hard to find anywhere.  Will be looking for this one in a bar due to high price ($500+ / bottle)

    Mellow Corn - US corn whisky.  They don't distribute this in Texas, will have to look in other states.

    The Wine Society Special Highland Blend - You have to be a member of the UK wine society, which I am not, to order this one.

    Sunday, 20 November 2011 10:42

    Dallas Dhu, Forres, Scotland

    This is not a working distillery, but an old distillery now maintained as a whisky distilling museum by Historic Scotland, that used to produce the Dallas Dhu single malt.  It is quite frankly not a very good concept for a museum, considering the scotch whisky industry is booming, new distilleries are opening all the time and this one is in the heart of Speyside, where there are dozens of working distilleries with visitor centers, many with longer histories than Dallas Dhu and probably all with better known brands, that all produce whisky in the same way.  So why would you go and walk around a dead one that used to produce a whisky no-one has ever heard of?  The fantastic little Benromach is in the same town (and closer to the main road) so just go there.  Morbid curiosity meant that one day we did find ourselves driving to Forres to see it and we found it closed with a sign in the office window saying "out to lunch".  I couldn't agree more.  
    Sunday, 20 November 2011 10:24

    Tobermory, Mull, Scotland

    What's the story Tobermory?  This is an unusual review because I didn't actually get to tour this distillery.  We did go there, we drove all the way across Mull and arrived there in middle of afternoon in plenty of time only to be told that all the tours for the day were sold out.  I was little pissed off, but that was made much worse by the visitor center staff there who seemed to think that somehow I should have known better than to vist their distillery without a prior apointment,  Let's say their attitude grated to the extent that my notebook simply says under the Tobermory entry "No. No. No."   It was made worse by the fact that I really wanted to try their fifteen year old but they were sold out.  Sold out at the bloody distillery shop - how does that happen?  Didn't strike me as the most organized place and the complete opposite of all my distillery experiences before (and after) that date.  I vowed then (yes I actually vowed) to not drink Tobermory but then it turns out the 15 year old is in the 101 Whiskies to Try Before you Die list (damn) and that the Malted Muse has also bottled a limited edition single cask Tobermory (double damn) so I have decided to break my vow (for now).  Consider yourself lucky Tobermory, very lucky.
    Saturday, 19 November 2011 04:45

    Glenturret 10 year old

    We visited the Glenturret distillery, aka The Famous Grouse Experience, a couple of times while we lived in Scotland. This whisky is one of those that can generate some big differences of opinions (check out the Scotchcast and Malted Muse podcasts on the Glenturret).  The nose on the 10 year old has cereal and new make spirit notes. The taste is soft and light, with more cereals and malt, caramel, vanilla and possibly banana (banana custard maybe).  The finish?  Let's be nice and say it is oaky, but subtle and not long.

    Saturday, 19 November 2011 04:06

    Dalwhinnie 15 year old

    The nose is light and fragrant with floral and cereal notes.  Quite enticing.  The taste has honey, heather, vanilla and malty sweetness.  The mouth feel is quite oily and the finish is slightly perfumed.
    Saturday, 19 November 2011 03:50

    Dalmore 12 year old

    I must confess to a slighty negative impression of Dalmore.  They seem to focus on producing ludicrously expensive whiskies... three bottles for $150,000+ each, which is just wrong because if you did actually buy that you would have to be crazy to actually drink it!  So that grumble aside...   the nose on their slightly more affordable 12 year old is sweet and attractive, with some malt and citrus and maybe some leather and tobacco.  The taste is complex, raisins, fruit, spicey and some oak in the finish.  The finish also has some of the same leather and tobacco notes as the nose.  Complex and good... maybe I need to start saving the $150,000...
    Saturday, 19 November 2011 03:34

    Bowmore Tempest

    I first tried 10 year old Tempest at Whisky Live and my notes say it didn't stand up well to 15 year old big brother The Darkest.  The nose is sweet, perhaps sherry and some smoke and saltiness.  The mouth feel is quite light and the taste is sweet and a little fruity, again with the sherry, and then the pepper and peat come through for slightly harsh finish for me.  Not overly complex.   It is not The Tempest fault, but I like The Darkest so much that I am afraid this just pales in comparison (pale, darkest.... geddit?)

    Whiskies Tried...

    Total to Date: 692

    Distilleries

    Visited to Date: 66

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    Random Whisky

    Drambuie

    Supposedly invented by Bonnie Prince Charlie while hiding from the Redcoats (ie English) on the Isle of Skye.  Quite frankly the story smacks of marketing department babble, all they needed to work into the story was a scottish terrier and some shortbread to make it perfect.  If this was an improvement on the scotch he was being given to drink then it must have been pretty rotten stuff and I am not sure he was as popular with the locals as legend suggests.  The nose has no real whisky notes, just sweet, citrus and ginger.  It smells like Drambuie.  The taste is cloyingly sweet, a bit like cough syrup as it coats the mouth.  As the sweetness fades some more familiar whisky notes appear along with some spices like ginger and clove.  With a little ice to cut it the texture becomes a little less syrupy and I could detect some oak notes.  Overall I could summarize as chewing a pencil that had been dipped in sugar and cough syrup.

    I much much much prefer the more subtle and whisky led Drambuie made with 15 year Speyside single malt.  All that said, since moving back to Texas I can say with certainty that there has more often than not been a bottle in my collection (and I don't mean the same one).  The reason is the fact that the only whisky cocktail I drink is the occasional Rusty Nail...  over ice.  In the heat of a Texas summer I find a Rusty Nail works well in backyard bbq scenario and also does a great job in helping me consume (and avoid wasting) any disappointing scotches I have acquired.  Hence the standby bottle of Drambuie.