06.19.18 | Longrow 9 Year Single Cask – Sauternes Cask

Scotch Whisky

This is the sort of review I love, a review of a whisky from my favorite distillery, Springbank. Why do I love these reviews? Well my friends, Springbank just rolls out fucking bangers time after time, so I know I’m most likely in for an absolute treat. None of their whiskies sniff 40% abv (call me out on this I’m wrong) and damnit, I respect the hell out of that. There are three lines that all come from the Springbank Distillery in Campbeltown, Scotland: Springbank, Hazelburn, and Longrow.

We are talking Longrow today, which is their peated line of single malts. Their Longrow sees the bulk of their wine cask outturns such as their Red releases that all find their lives spent in red wine casks, along with a chardonnay single cask, and the whisky of the hour today, Sauternes Cask.

I get this question a lot, so what is Sauternes wine? Sauternes is from the Sauternais region of Bordeaux and is a sweet dessert white wine that develops its sweet and complex profile from a funky little thing called Noble Rot. I know what you are thinking and yes, its a fungus. I am no scientist, so all I know is that its a fungus that makes heaven in a glass. However, due to the complexity of getting that Noble Rot just right and the grapes having to raisinate the yields of Sauternes are not huge. I’m not sure if that is why you don’t see a lot of Sauternes cask finished whiskies, but my guess is that the casks carry a bit higher of a price premium than your reds and fortified wines.

Sauternes wine itself is incredibly delicious and complex so I would recommend to anyone that is curious about it to just grab a bottle for yourself and experience all the flavors it possesses. Better yet though, Sauternes casks work absolute magic with peated scotches (I highly recommend the Kilchoman Sauternes Cask for all my peat lovers out there). The sweetness and complexity of fruit take a good peated scotch to an entirely different level, so with that let’s just get after this review of the Longrow 9 Year Single Cask – Sauternes Cask!

The dirty details:

  • 9 Year – distilled in November 2007
  • 58% abv
  • First Fill Sauternes Cask
  • 252 bottles
  • $120 price tag

Color: In the glass, the whiskey is a light amber color. Really good looking development from the cask. Nice and oily as I would expect and has long sexy legs that go for miles.

Nose: The nose opens with a nice maltiness and sweet cereal. A lot of Sauternes cask influence shows its face with a nice inherent sweetness – sugar cane and candied grapes. The sweetness calms and the peat enters in subtly like a slowly burning fire on a coast side. Moist and peppery with some wet grass funk.

Palate: This bad boy starts out with some super barnyard funk. Lots of wet earth begins on the palate that opens into some really interesting charred citrus. The sugar is still present and intertwines with the peat and barrel to create a flavor similar to charred sugar atop a creme brulee and a toasted marshmallow. A light breeze of saline coastal spray provides that additional underlying layer of the ocean.

Finish: The sweetness of the palate keeps running on the finish. The smoke continues to dwindle into a perfumey floral smoldering fire. The richness of the finish is strong with notes of marzipan, sweet red apples, and ladyfingers. A dry aromatic tobacco coats the back of the throat and there were lingering coastal flavors of oysters with sweet shaved ice atop them.

Well, this Longrow 9 Year Single Cask was fan-fucking-tastic. The Sauternes cask provides an incredibly rich and sweet finish that just excels with the light smoke and coastal notes of this Campbeltown banger. There are a ton of complexities that are working in complete tandem with one another. Prepare your palate for a roller coaster of flavor as the different flavor layers will come and go as you drink it. The Longrow 9 Year Single Cask is a whisky that’ll reward you with something new every time you sit down with it. Approach with an open mind and a ready palate. I mean this in an absolutely not snobby way, but this isn’t no beginner single malt, no training wheels here. Happy flavor hunting my friends!

Score: 9/10

This bottle was purchased by me and as always, the words and opinions are all my own

05.02.18 | Highland Park Single Cask reviews: Nor’Easter, Helluland, and Gotham City

Scotch Whisky

Before kicking off this review, for full clarity, these samples were graciously provided by Forte Mare (@thefortemare) and Highland Park (@HighlandParkWhiskey). The whisky isn’t mine, but as always, the words and opinions are all me! Also, I always want to stress that I am not here to influence you one way or the other. Look at me as some sort of spiritual guide that can provide a semi-professional opinion!

With that out of the way, let’s do it to it! 


Today we are talking the exclusive Highland Park Single Cask bottles. For a quick lesson on single casks, for those of you that may not know, a single cask whisky is whisky that has been taken from one individual cask and bottled. There is no blending of casks here, so what you see is what you get. There is no guessing game to the cask proportions, age, true color, and so on and so forth. Single cask whisky, to me, is the absolute cream of the crop. When bottled at cask strength and non-chill filtered you are getting whisky in its absolute purist form, the way it should be presented and drank. Now I know it isn’t economically feasible for all whisky to be presented as such, so when you do find a single cask whisky, well, it is truly something special.

The Highland Park single cask program is going through a bit of a resurgence right now and is truly a labor of love for the Highland Park crew. Each of the casks is hand-selected by Gordon Motion, Highland Park’s Master Whisky Maker, and is quite exclusive. From what I have heard there are only ~15 casks for the entire United States and a handful of others for the International market. Assuming that the International market gets an equal amount of casks at around 525 bottles per cask then we are talking maybe 16,000 bottles total… for the entire PLANET EARTH.

Side note: Don’t quote me on that number as honestly, it was an uneducated guess.

The point is, these are fairly exclusive bottles that are equally in high demand! Does the whisky match-up to its exclusiveness? We will find out in a moment…

A quick background on our favorite Viking distillery, Highland Park was founded in 1798 and holds the title of the furthest North distillery in Scotland. Highland Park is also one of the few distilleries that malt some of its own barley themselves and is known for their lovely, light, and aromatic smoke profile with their whiskies. However, Highland Park peat is much different than the Islay peat as their’s has a lot of Scottish heather in it, which gives it that more subtle floral smoke. I always recommend them as a gateway drug for those that are interested in diving into the world of peat before jumping right into the Lagavulins, Ardbegs, etc. etc. For myself, some Highland Park whiskies can come off as almost too light for my big bold masochist self, but when they turn up the abv even slightly, man their whiskies f****** rule. With that said, let’s get to the reviews!

All three of these whiskies are cask strength, no color added, and non-chill filtered


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Cask #3246: Nor’Easter

Northeast Exclusive

Age: 15 year

ABV: 56.9%

Cask: Refill Sherry Butt

Bottles: 546 bottles @ $225

Color: Golden Amber

Nose: A light smoke of burning heather. Honey and damp hay –  a little sweet, a little funky, a little smokey. On the back end is a medicinal saline sprayed oak.

Palate: Sweet custard tarts, dried florals and a spoonful of raw honey, and earthy grains

Finish: The finish is incredibly creamy, a sweet cream like flavor. Tart and bitter with some nice exotic spices and more florals.

Grade: 6/10

Overall: If I didn’t know any better I would think that this had spent its time in an ex-bourbon cask, and admittedly, I kind of wish that was the case. The sherry cask just feels a bit spent, which made the whisky come off in a weird middle ground. Kind of sherry, kind of oaky, and kind of not my cup of tea.


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Cask #6313: Helluland

Total Wine Exclusive

Age: 13 year

ABV: 61.3%

Cask: Refill Sherry Puncheon

Bottles: 510 bottles @ $200

Color: Burnished orange.

Nose: The nose begins with sweet red cinnamon candies. Once you get through a brief burst of alcohol there is a fairly predominant smoke on the nose. Dried strawberries with some fresh coastal greenery. The whisky was a bit intense on the nose at first but opens up exclusively, total Highland Park on the nose.

Palate: Tart cherry jam and shortbread cookies dusted with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. A very lovely perfumey smoke from burning driftwood, with a nice coastal feel. Not overly oily, and just a very lively palate.

Finish: The finish is f****** splendid. Big juicy red fruits mulling w/ balanced baking spices. Incredibly smooth given its abv, and leaves you with a long lingering pour of sherry.

Grade: 9/10

Overall: I love this Helluland. This is “shut up and take my money” whisky right here. This is a whisky in the sweet spot! It has a lot of lively flavors going on but on the backbone a balanced sherry. Just layers on layers of beautiful Orkney flavors!


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Cask #63297: Gotham City

New York Exclusive

Age: 15 year

ABV: 59.6%

Cask: Refill Sherry Butt

Bottles: 588 bottles @ $225

Color: Cognac Amber

Nose: Charred wood smoldering, smoked meats. One of the more smoke forward Highland Parks that I have had, but its a really nice dark charred smoke. Sherry steeped plums and cherries.

Palate: A burnt sugar topping, almond brittle, and sherry soaked oak. On the back end were spiced plums and fruit cake with a touch of marzipan.

Finish: Long and distinguished, and sherry dominant. A decadent dessert like finish. Black forest cake topped with whisky soaked cherries with a side of rich dark chocolate.

Grade: 8/10

Overall: The Gotham City was the most eloquent of the three. The dram is a distinguished sherry cask that carries a rich dark smoke through the finish while having a very dessert-like profile. This is a late night with a cigar in hand whisky right here!


All in all, I was very impressed by the single casks that I was able to try from Highland Park. In a world of increasing NAS 40% abv whisky, these are the ones that I get real excited over! The folks over at Highland Park just know how to make terrific whisky and when you have the opportunity to have it straight from the cask such as this you are able to taste truly how good they are at what they do. The layers of rich and complex flavors that they each possess is really quite impressive. The heather smoke is more pronounced, the cask derived flavors are more juicy and distinct, and the experience from start to finish is memorable. I for one am all on board for this single cask program and am very interested to see what other casks they decide to roll out!

Plus, as with any single cask, once these are gone they are gone forever. The whisky from these casks will never be reproduced. To me, that is pretty damn special and is what gives these exceptional single casks that certain bit of added allure!

04.27.18 | That Boutique-y Whisky Company Macduff 18 Batch 3

Scotch Whisky

Well, the fun is over, our European excursion is over and damnit, it sucks…

Luckily though I brought back a backpacking pack worth of delicious whisky to alleviate the sadness, so let’s get right back into the swing of things!

To start off the fun I bring you a special bottling from the private bottler That Boutique-y Whisky Company. This particular bottle is a Macduff 18 and is their 3rd batch from the distillery. Now Macduff is a lesser-known Highland distillery and is one of the “new” kids on the block. By new I mean they didn’t roll out their first barrel until 1960. The Macduff distillates have spent most of their life being used for blended single malts by Bacardi and now go into blends offered by John Dewars & Son, so don’t feel silly that you haven’t had their whisky, to know your knowledge. Plus to make it even more confusing the distillery doesn’t release their whisky under the name Macduff, but rather under the name The Deveron. Why do they do that? Honestly, I have no clue whatsoever, so if you do know feel free to drop me a message!

This bottle is both my first That Boutique-y Whisky Company bottle and my first Macduff. After having tried this single malt a few times it makes me bummed knowing that it is primarily used in blends because it is a mighty fine whisky!

I don’t have a ton of detail on the whisky itself other than:

  • 18 year
  • 48.6% abv
  • £52.95 price (per That Boutique-y Whisky Company)
  • AND, my best guess is probably a second-fill, maybe even third-fill, sherry cask

Color: In the glass, the Macduff is a faint gold color and not viscous at all, thin and runny legs. Pretty plain jane.

Nose: The nose has quite a subdued sweet profile. While nosing this bad boy I was finding sugary malt and dried hay, not so much barnyardy, just farmy? I don’t know if that makes sense at all, but hell, it made sense in my head. Macerated red fruits slowly convert to a slightly tart berry jam. Super easy on the nose, but don’t be fooled by the nose…

-Brief Interlude-

Palate: This is why you shouldn’t be fooled by the nose. On the palate, the whisky is much darker and complex. Out with the sweet, in with the savory! The first tastes I found were a handful of dark chocolate covered almonds and an un-sweetened chocolate cake. As it works around the mouth I found peppercorns, szechuan pepper (I’ll explain this one in a moment), and drying leather. Now, why szechuan pepper? The reason is that there really isn’t the flavor of a spicy pepper, but rather the experience of a pepper. A fairly noticeable tingle on the tongue and itch from the pepper. This Macduff really has an interesting savory aspect to the palate.

Finish: Let’s bring this review home! The finish was peanut brittle accompanied by a dry shortbread cookie. Really sucks the moisture out of the mouth. A slight pinch of aromatic tobacco takes you into a medium length finish that has red fruits and a bit of cayenne spice to it. Can feel it in the throat this one. NOT IN A BAD WAY.

For myself, this has been one of the more interesting drams I have had this year. There is something very perplexing about this Macduff 18. When you’re tasting it on its face, I kept on just thinking to myself, “okay, its just another middle of the pack second-fill sherry cask single malt scotch,” but its so much more than that. This whisky is like that person at work you know that is about as plain as a piece of white bread, but then you encounter them outside of the office and that effer has a full sleeve tattoo and is pulling out of a dingy dive bar on a motorcycle. Does that make sense? If not, what I am trying to say is that there is a ton of interesting flavors going on with this whisky and the nose isn’t going to show its cards on any of them. I’m giving this bottle an 8/10. Peep the homepage for an explanation of the newly introduced grading rubric.

The Macduff 18 from That Boutique-y Whisky Company is the pour I want to drink to close out the night after having conquered the town with the crew, to cleanse my palate of the cigars I had been smoking and whatever debauchery I may have gotten into.

For clarity, disclosure, and trust – this is my bottle that I purchased.

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!

Sláinte

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”.

Sláinte

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!

Sláinte

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.

Sláinte