02.16.18 | Citrus Clarity in the Smoke | Lagavulin 8 Year Limited Edition

Scotch Whisky

If you look at the current landscape of Single Malt Whisky you will see that distilleries are in a nuclear arms race to release older and older whiskies as limited releases to one-up one another. Recently I was informed of a very notable distillery aiming to release a 50-year scotch in the near future. Five. Zero. Its often times a hard thing for myself to conceptualize a whisky that is double my age, but do not for one moment get me wrong. These whiskies are exquisite, amazing, masterful, ancient, etc., etc., etc. I am not complaining one bit. However, what would you say to one of the most famous Islay distilleries deciding that for a limited edition release they would release an… 8 year? *Alongside an absolute epic bottle costing over $1,000 of course*

The Lagavulin 8 Year was released to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the distillery. Now, this seems like a milestone worthy of an old ancient cask from deep within the rick house, right? The reason for the 8 year age statement goes back to whisky writer and historian, Alfred Barnard, sampling an 8 year Lagavulin and proclaiming it to be, “…Exceptionally Fine,” so Lagavulin set out to recreate the old 8-year style and release it as a Limited Release.

The Lagavulin 8 year comes in with an abv of 48%, which I found to be a terrific direction to turn up the abv a bit for this youngin from the 43% abv of the 16-year. The whisky was aged in primarily American Oak casks. Clarity. In the glass, the Lagavulin is a lovely crystal clear chardonnay white color. The palate blossoms immediately. A fresh harvest of bright citrus – orange and tangerine zest –  fades to a swelling wave of saline ocean water misting the nose. A clean smoke of barley and fresh hay finish the scent as you go to taste the whiskey – such a lovely clean and citrus smoke on the nose. On the palate, it begins with the iodine of crisp ocean water that marries with a perfumey smoke of spices burnt over oak. The palate turns sweet as a flavor of clove and honey and sweet grains usher in the finish. The Lagavulin shows its face on the finish. The finish begins with black pepper and seasoned salt that gets the taste buds salivating. Smoldering peat is present, strong and proud. The finish is long and incredible. A layer of smoke remains with cinnamon and sweet honey coating the inside of the mouth.

Holy s***! The Lagavulin 8 year is simply incredible. Crisp, refreshing, clear Islay amazingness. The flavors with the 8 year are pronounced and work in harmony with the fresh ocean peat that is present. I love what Lagavulin did here, they said eff you to all those that just throw out NAS young whiskies and said let us show you how it’s done by rolling out an absolutely exquisite 8 year scotch.

The Lagavulin 8 year is a refreshing medley of fresh citrus that awakens the senses to brisk mists of fresh salty ocean water as mulling spices steep over a smoldering pit of peat. So much clarity and sharpness in the various flavor profiles present. It goes without saying that I love this whisky and at around $50 this is one single malt that should not be missed out on!

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02.13.18 | Symphony in G Minor | Macallan 12 Year Double Cask

Scotch Whisky

Today we are talking Macallan, specifically the Macallan 12 Year Double Cask. The particular bottle that I have was gifted to my wife and me on our wedding day. Now this person knows how to gift the Whisky Accountant! No toaster for me just that good single malt scotch! The last couple weeks I have been cruising through the Macallan on those nights that I want a pleasant nightcap. The other night I realized that my bottle was just about finished and I hadn’t even taken the time to give it the proper review that the bottle deserves! The Macallan 12 Year Double Cask is a bottle that deserves the time and reflection of a proper review and tasting of it.

The Macallan 12 Year Double Cask costs around $55-$60, which in my books is not bad for a 12-year single malt scotch, and it is certainly in line with most other brand name producers out there with 12 years. The Macallan has an interesting process of taking new American oak casks and “seasoning” them with sherry. After these casks have been seasoned they are then filled all up and left to age for at least 12 years before being blended with the Macallan we all know and love that has been aged in sherried European oak casks. Now I will be the first to say that I love a good sherry bomb, but the use of the new American oak casks really does something special to this Macallan.

The scotch is a typical 43% abv and has an elegant brass color within the glass. The nose is absolutely delicious – mulled red fruits with cinnamon and clove, the freshly squeezed juice of honey crisp apples, and a decadent marriage of all the aforementioned with oak and vanilla beans. The nose is really a sign of things to come with this whisky, and from the beginning, you know that you are in for a treat. The first taste was a malted cereal that opened into ripe cherries drizzled with honey. An ever slight hint of white pepper provides a balancing spice that allows a flavor of vanilla to showcase the new American oak. The finish brings out the “Macallan sherry”. Sherry-soaked oak, a tart cranberry crumble and musty oak, notes of cinnamon linger away into a medley of sweet and tart apples – a dryness of oak leaves the mouth salivating for more.

The Macallan 12 Year Double Cask is an elegant scotch. A symphony of flavor played in G Minor brings out layers of decadent and varying flavors that play off one another – the low red fruit notes of the sherried European oak cask plays off the bright notes of the new American oak to create a changing emotion of flavors on the palate. You can taste that this is a scotch holding onto the brightness of its youth before it goes into the deep sherry notes of the Macallan’s fame.

The Macallan 12 Year Double Cask is a scotch that should be enjoyed sitting orchestra level listening to “The Four Seasons, Violin Concerto no. 2 in G minor, Summer”.

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02.10.18 | A Scotsman on Holiday in Tenerife | Glenmorangie the Original

Scotch Whisky

To finish off the brief intro on Scotch cocktails today I will be reviewing the Glenmorangie the Original, and additionally providing a cocktail for this beautiful floral Highland!

This particular Glenmorangie is aged ten years in first and second fill ex-bourbon barrels, that Glenmorangie states to be made of designer wood from the Ozarks of Missouri… So I don’t entirely know what that means, so let’s get onto the review.

In the glass, the Glenmorangie is a Pale straw color with watery legs and has an abv of 43%. The nose is incredibly pleasant and inviting as I found ripe melons and green apples that provides quite a strong sweetness and residual sugar on the nose – not before too long the nose showed light grains and fresh florals reminding me of the scent of edible flowers. The sweetness carries through to the palate where spiced vanilla beans and juicy sweet pairs caress the palate. On the mouth, there was a medley of salted almonds that really helped with taming the sweetness just a bit to allow for a more floral spice to come through. The Glenmorangie finishes brightly with light oak tannins, honey, and a decadent banana cream pie with its sweetness and baking spices.

Overall the Glenmorangie the Original was a very light and refreshing sweet medley of fruit and just enough grains and spice to balance the sweetness. I could picture myself sipping on this poolside on a tropical island surrounded by blooming tropical plants – simply lovely!

To piggyback off of my recent post talking about peated scotch in cocktails I now want to provide a cocktail recipe that works wonderfully for the sweet florals of a Highland such as the Glenmorangie the Original:

A Scotsman on Holiday in Tenerife

2oz Glenmorangie the Original

1oz St Germain

.5oz Green Chartreuse

1oz Orange Juice

2 dashes of Angostura Bitters

Half slice of Pineapple muddled

Muddle the pineapple in a shaker then add all ingredients and shake over ice. Double strain the cocktail into a Tiki mug filled with finely crushed ice. Garnish with pineapple, orange, and lemon.

Cheers and happy Saturday!

02.07.18 | To Mix or Not To Mix… That is the question | Laphroaig 10 year Cask Strength Batch 009

Scotch Whisky

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The Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength, a beautiful Islay that is unapologetic in its presentation of itself. Assertive spiced smoke meats intertwine with a musty green earth to present a true representation of Islay whisky. At 58.1% abv this is the scotch that “puts hair on your chest,” the pungent campfire that you either love or you hate. For myself, it’s a love that burns as passionately as the peat itself.

The Laphroaig 10 year Cask Strength is the peated whisky for peat lovers. Non chill filtered and sporting an impressive abv this whisky is for the Islay purist. As mentioned before the palate brings with it an impressive amount of spiced smoke and subtle citrus, while meshing with the brine of musty greens. For me this is about damn near perfection given its wide availability and stomachable price point for a 10 year cask strength.

I set out this year to teach myself to be a better home cocktail maker, because lets be honest, bars are f****** expensive. When you think of whiskey cocktails most people immediately associate them with the american bourbons and ryes, which completely makes sense. They have approachable and almost universally loved flavor profiles of baking spices and honey, and they mix well with literally almost anything. However, I am slowly finding that scotch makes the cocktail that we all deserve, but as Benjamin Parker said, “with great power come great responsibility.” The reason I say that is scotch is going to range from your soft citrus floral Speysides that could easily disappear in a cocktail to your smoke bombs from Islay that can just swallow up your cocktail. I will address your soft and florals another day, as today we are talking mixology with the Laphroaig 10 year Cask Strength.

From Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails is “Pete’s Word” (pictured above)

.75 ounce Laphroaig 10 year

.75 ounce Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

.75 ounce Green Chartreuse

.75 ounce Lime Juice

Shaken with ice and strained into a coupe.

Why it works:

The Chartreuse and Laphroaig are both assertive palates in their own right, so at first you may see this cocktail as being a power struggle of flavors, but the lime works magic in taming the peat and the sweetness of the Luxardo smooths the bitter herbals of the Chartreuse. Through this the cocktail finds an equilibrium of complexity in the glass. What I really love about this cocktail is it awakens the Laphroaig and brightens it into a really refreshing cocktail!

The following recipe is a homemade one entitled “Pipe Tobacco”

.75 ounce Laphroaig 10 year Cask Strength

.75 ounce East India Solera Sherry

.75 ounce Creme de Cocoa

1 Egg White

Mix all ingredients in a shaker with ice and give it a good hard shake for 30 seconds, strain out the ice using a fine mesh strainer back into the shaker, dry shake vigorously for about a minute, and then fine mesh strain it into a coupe to get the thick 1/2 inch head on it.

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Why it works:

Firstly the creaminess of the egg tones down the sharp oak and spice you get from the cask strength. Chocolate and peated scotch is just an amazing and natural pairing that adds a bitter quality that battles to tame the peat on the palate. The East India Solera Sherry is a sweet Oloroso, so it layers on flavors of nuts and red fruits that provides a sweetness to smooth out the bitterness and smoke of the drink. The “Pipe Tobacco” is a decadent drink that changes the profile of the peat that allows it to shine, but introduces a variant profile that may be more approachable for someone that isn’t crazy about straight peated whiskies.

I am a fervent believer and preacher that peated scotches can and should be used in cocktails. Firstly, using them means you don’t have to buy some expensive smoke gun to make “smoked” cocktails and, *hint hint* that is all smoke and mirrors because that smoke gun doesn’t do anything really for the flavor and most likely there is a peated scotch or mezcal in the cocktail anyways. Lastly, behind the peat of Islay scotches there are a world of intricate and nuanced flavors that when combined with the right accompaniments will create a complexity in the glass that will blow you away. Just know that these cocktails are certainly not for the faint of heart and if that’s not your jam then may I suggest a Moscow Mule…

As always though, keep true to your scotch roots, pay homage to the Usice na Beatha, and pour yourself a glencairn neat of the Laphroaig 10 year Cask Strength, because this scotch is that good.

What are your thoughts on scotch in cocktails? Do you have a favorite scotch for mixing, and a favorite recipe? Be sure to comment below!


					

01.15.18 | Orange Blossoms in Seville | The Macallan Amber

Scotch Whisky

Let’s just get it out of the way, this scotch is non age stated… phew, alright, did we all get our unnecessary anger out of the way??

Well now we can continue with the review of The Macallan Amber. The Amber is from a four bottle line of NAS scotches that The Macallan picked solely on their color to show the change overtime in Sherry Casks. The Amber is the second iteration of the four, the other three being the Gold, the Sienna, and the Ruby. I for one think it’s an interesting exercise of Sherry Casks that takes away any preconceived opinions on the age of the whisky. Simply, here are the various stages a single malt goes through during a lifetime in a sherry cask. Save your anger over NAS scotches for someone else tonight, because I found this one to be simply lovely.

In the glass it is a crystal clear and watery orange hued Amber, which the body is completely what I would expect at 40% abv. On the nose was bright citrus tangerines and floral honey amongst young grains. The palate is very sweet where I found honey suckle apples and cinnamon streusel. A light breakfast in spring accompanied by a warm lemon and honey tea. The finish was a soft oak and bright colored stone fruits that left the palate feeling refreshed, a short finish, but a pleasant one. Overall, a scotch that put up no fight and was the easy on the mouth pour that I enjoy sometimes between the peat and cask strength beasts.

The Macallan Amber was a refreshing spring time single malt that had me dreaming of orange blossoms on a bright Seville day, I was ready to book a ticket to Spain now with the bottle in tow!

The Amber is one that anyone could approach and find pleasurable, while showcasing a young Sherry barrel before the bold deep red fruits develop. A wonderful scotch for those new to it and a great change of pace scotch with no fight for those of us that know!

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01.11.18 | An Islay Campbeltown? | Longrow Red 13 Year Malbec

Scotch Whisky

I can’t help myself, but all that has been on my mind lately are Campbeltown whiskies. I just cant… they’re SO GOOD, so what could be better than a traditional Campbeltown? A freaking peated Campbeltown, and what could better than a peated Campbeltown? A freaking peated Campbeltown finished in FREAKING MALBEC BARRELS. Holy s***. Also, huge shoutout to Josh with @mondovinodenver for always carrying terrific single malts, in particular, this one 👍🏻

The Longrow is a peated release that our favorite Springbank puts out to bless us with a “mainland Islay”. The bottle I was lucky enough to find is their 13 year cask strength that spent the last 15 months of its life in Malbec barrels from good ol’ South Africa. Have I mentioned that I LOVE Malbecs and that they’re basically the only wine I drink due to their big full bodied fruit flavor and little tannins? This particular bottles comes in at a beautiful cask strength of 51.3% abv. Now how did basically my three favorite things taste when brought together??

The whisky is a red hued brewed tea that just coexists perfectly with the bottle label, very appealing to the eye.

The first impression on the nose was an orange creamsicle in a candy shop, lots of sweet red candies in this one. The sweetness fades away to a slowly smoldering camp fire on the beach at sundown – a beautiful saline smoke, earthy and relaxing.

The palate is a symphony. All flavors playing a part and evident, but none overpowering the other, balance. The smoke of seasoned meat cooking over an open fire shows its face alongside a simmering pot of cranberries and cherries with mulling spices. A dry saline breeze blows through the scene bringing with it dry notes of oak.

The finish is once again balanced and reserved. Tart cherry tannins dry the mouth, a nod to the Malbec, a charred oak spice takes you away…

I can’t put this scotch down. There are a lot of big bold profiles that could have easily ran away from one another, but what Springbank has created is a masterful harmony of balanced flavors that makes for an incredible dram. Peat with red wines are a movement I’m very behind.

Sláinte 🥃

01.10.18 | The King of Peat | Bruichladdich Octomore Edition 7.3

Scotch Whisky

First review of 2018 and it is a serious banger that I spent most of my time off exploring… the OCTOMORE (duh duh duh duhhhhh).

I often times feel that I am on a greater divine journey to seek out the outer limits of peaty scotch to taste them all. For me peat is such a fascinating resource due to its significance in the making of scotch!

For today’s tasting we have everyone’s favorite peat nuclear bomb series… the Bruichladdich Octomore, specifically the 7.3 release. For a wee bit of reference your typical Islays have a PPM (parts per million) phenol of 30-50, with some reaching up to 100. This particular Octomore sports a PPM of 169, so yeah this thing is peaty AF, it’s beautiful! The last technical points are that it is a beast at 63% abv, aged 5 years in American Bourbon Barrels and Spanish Wine Casks of Ribera Del Duero, and the barley is all from the coast of Islay itself. I’ve spent the last several days tasting it each day as this has been one of the most interesting scotches I’ve ever had, and has been a dandy to think about and reflect on!

In the glass the Octomore is a charred gold, reminiscent of what is to come. The nose was very similar to a different favorite spirit of mine, Mezcal! A meaty smoldering brick combines with the saline spray of the ocean, while a sweet lemon poppy seed cake provides a muted sweetness to the nose. As you can see this one is already a journey for the senses!

The palate began with an ancient smoke from deep within a smoldering fire. A red piece of seasoned meat cooks on a salt block that awakens the taste buds. A floral spice of oak accompany a fruit laden Bienenstich cake – this association must just be due to the holiday season – of almond, honey, and baked grains.

The finish is heavy of sea salt, that leaves a salivating mouth wanting more of the scotch! Smoldering peat along the coast side slowly dwindles away leaving a deep smoke flavor in the mouth.

The brute of heavy flavors with a delicate undertone of nuanced flavors there for you to find. It’s a beautiful thing.

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