Highland Park Magnus
Peated Single Malt — Islands, ScotlandTastedEdit: update at bottom Tried neat and then with rocks. Nose: Brown sugar, citrus zest. Faint mineral spring at end. Not terribly complicated but dont let that subtract. Palate: It's like someone took the interesting parts out of HP12. Vanilla, marmalade -> cereal highland signature, strong spice to finish. Stronger than expected spice for how unassuming it is all the way to this point. The smoke is faint after it gets in your mouth a decent bit but some of it is nice to taste initially--this one is kinda boring. Finish: Hot but not in a cheap liquor or ethanol tasting way. Short, short, short. Spice kinda gives a little kick of heather and cinnamon. Forgettable if you've had enough better stuff from the category but I wouldnt ever dare snub a dram or three. Bought on a whim for $29.99 while looking around the store with the wife. I had read and heard it was okay but drinkable; I'd personally state it as "bland and boring". It isnt deserving of much praise or criticism. Spend the extra $8-14 on 12 year. 82/100. Edit 83.5 or 84 after it had a few drams poured the bottle sat and the profile was nicely changed. Smoke was easier to enjoy throughout--less sticky sweet in the way of smoke. Me and the wife smelled and tasted rich butter/biscuit whereas before it wasnt pronounced anywhere except a quick kiss in the spice.
Highland Park 12 Year
Peated Single Malt — Islands, ScotlandTastedDeep into my second bottle I've had for myself so I felt it was time to give it a write. Nose: Honey, apricot and black plum, sweet cereal, wine-flavored pipe tobacco (really, I promise, even if it is just the faintest finishing note) Palate: Much more straightforward than you may imagine but not at all in a bad way. Sweet caramel apples, a smoky funk I'd call mainly meaty with hints of engine oil hints you midway into a burst of sweet, chewy, malty, richness of cream/cereal finish. I normally try to stay succinct in this section but it really is astoundingly fun to lip-smack, sip, pound, whatever. "Tasty" does not do it justice. Finish: Bodied enough to deserve the word 'complex' but so well-married you wouldnt know it if you were a n00b to brown town. That itself is impressive, as is the clean and short smooth finish itself is comprised of. Incredible under $40usd IMO. I will note for you deep readers that this bottle was not as good as the one I had before this. It had different packaging ever so slightly. The one I drank before was 4.5 alllllll day, this one gets 4. Main reason is body on older one was SO much more distinctive and charactered. WOOD, stone fruit, enticing hints and notes from BOTH in ways the newer bottle WISHED it had. I try to be very strict in points past 3.5/5 so to me the 0.5 is a big deal in a world where we ignore cost. Cost considered it's a whatever. if you need a bottle that tastes like $100 but dont wanna spend: buy it!!!!
Jameson 12 Year Special Reserve
Blended — IrelandTastedNose: Sweet vanilla, toasted hazelnut, a quality preserve of berries ready to spread. That spicy Jameson signature sweetness is present throughout. The wife picked up a lot more sweet wood and richness, also saying she disagreed on the nuts but not the vanilla. Teasing in all the ways you want a robust Irish to. Palate: Cinnamon candies, glasses of good sherry glasses from the night before, sweet roasted lamb and a candela cigar. The wife seemed to say way more oily/earthy/sweet/medicinal overtones predominated for her with the floral opening matching the cask finish to the finishing linger. I agreed with the wood comment but personally had more floral finish. Rich, smooth, high notes of the "good" Jameson spices. Black tea, the faintest hint of a waft of pipe smoke, malt balance finish the tongue. Finish: Isnt fierce like a lot of bottling with this depth. Isnt the profile to put you in the mood to pound but tastes so good you could get in trouble fast. Clean and crisp for having so much to enjoy and savor. Makes you want to sip again and find more layers like an old trusty leather bag. Ice makes it perfect to sip sip sip but spheres/BIG pieces/rock cubes+mineral may be the secret here... standard cube shape isnt enough... Overall: Outstanding but sadly discontinued and replaced at a higher (slightly)price point by the 18yr. Perfect celebration bottle--Johnny Blue type of special. For all of the positive mentioned thus far I rate it 92/100. Top-shelf assuredly. Worth any price ~100USD alllll day. I know it secondhands far higher. If you see this dusty and it hasn't been baking in the heat:BUY IT!!!
Buchanan's Select Blended Malt 15 Year
Blended Malt — ScotlandTastednose: fudge, smoke, cereal honey. simple but nice. A couple of serious deep sniffs made me think raisins. The wife said "sweet cedar forest" and I dont personally get it but see how she could; rich wood doesnt sound like a crazy stretch. palate: Smoke isnt pronounced but it impressively hits the front and back. I could understand "chocolate and oranges" but my taste was more chocolate and almost no marmalade-like notes. Citrus zest is fair but I wasnt getting much more than that. It definitely drinks like something that could have cost $20 more. The peat being present as much as it was without offsetting the rich and full mouth is a treat, impressive when you consider the price point and ABV. I picked this one up because I needed a sipper under $50 that wasnt Dewars or Johnny. I came out quite happy. The professional review is quite spot-on: you really wonder just how much of a massively juicy, slow-chewing, deep spirit this must've been at higher proof. The proof was surprising. for only being 80 proof it isnt without a decent strong little character to it. You could definitely breeze through drams of this without trying too hard but it is a respectable sip. May be a good choice to get someone a taste of something that isnt heavily-peated but still shows off a little smokiness. Personally I like a little less oil taste with my waxy, meaty, "chewers" but it is a SMOOTH dram. The oil and hotness do not honestly even present much: they just remind you how really rich and lush the cereal and fruit backbone is. Water made it sweeter. Not bad, not good. Just sweeter. I didnt try ice but this seems a really good candidate for a fat pour + 43/drambuie + 2 ice cubes. 1-100 I'd toss it a 84. I would give Johnny Green 87 or 88 for reference. Paid $42 w tax at Total Wine CO
Port Charlotte 10 Year
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTasted2018 edition, purchased for $77 w/tax @total wine Colorado nose is out of this world. Iodine, a HINT of grandma's white diamonds perfume, BURNT peat, cherry juice. "lots going on here" gets overused but this is a real treat for the sense, hands down. palate was not what the nose immediately suggests to your brain. For me it was night and day but in a very good way. Sea breeze. Vanilla and sweet wood. Dark fruit orchard during bloom. Smoke is there from start until ALMOST the finish but disappears near the end quite pleasantly. Ice did not improve it. single cube, glass of rocks, it wasnt good. The ash notes and burn lose all there place and balance and create a very hot a sip with little I enjoyed. Vanilla completely drowns, etc. If you absolutely have to, give it the white gloves and check it drop-by-drop with top-shelf mineral water. room temp. I gave it 5/5 but I'm rounding from a 4.5. on the 1-100 This is easily in the low 90s (my mind anything above 90 is best-in-class or dramatic standout), maybe a 93.
Knob Creek Cask Strength Straight Rye
Rye — Kentucky, USATastedperfection of the "rye spice" notes. Isnt overpowering in any way but does NOT hold your hand anywhere. Unashamed nose of apples and baking spice. Body was remarkably light (and accordingly smooth); ESPECIALLY at the proof. Remember, straight out the bottle this is 50% stronger than most watered-down brown. finish wasnt long at all but has it's own interesting thing. Less menthol, more grass. The faint baking spice covers any hotter notes in the swallow. 9/10 would pound shots any night or consider it a respectable choice for nicer 'tails. Single cube and it was way bolder with the spice taking on more of a forward presence in the sip. if Neat is Glen Campbell on vinyl, ice was like pandora on the wireless speaker on the backporch.
Highland Park 18 Year
Peated Single Malt — Islands, ScotlandTastedsingle malt mastery. Amber honey note on your tongue that quickly gives away into an amazing buttery trail of stone fruit to cereal to sweet nut... think freshly cracked filberts with a warm glass of cider on a cold night. I'm usually a neat person. if it isnt too fancy I may occasionally go rocks. this dram DESERVES to be enjoyed neatly then with a drop of water.
Dewar's 12 Year The Ancestor
Blended — ScotlandTastedwarm stone fruit. waxy, almost greasy, wood spices and fruit smoothness. Good neat, rocks, mixed. Charactered, but not unnecessarily so. RICH mouth feel. I have the tumbler (and ice sphere mold) they recommend it with from buying so much over the years but I promise it's best room temp neat. Pour the dram generous and notice how it opens so nicely sip after sip. Whenever I take a bottle to a party, it usually is this one. best blend for the money. easy choice when under $30usd. mine is $25 w tax.
Henry McKenna 10 Year Bottled in Bond Bourbon
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedabsolutely mouthwatering. The palate all has balance and feels purposed. The vanilla and oak predominate but never steal the show. All the best players in a shot-worthy brown get extended solos in this piece. unbelievable value under $40. ENJOY NEAT ROOM TEMP.30.0 USD per Bottle
Tullamore D.E.W. Trilogy 15 Year
Blended — IrelandTastedAmanda's final words in her excellent review say it best. Layered and tasty, but smooth and sippable. Fruit-forward, but without some of the notes that make that a turn-off for many including myself. The green tea and plum do not overreach, the tullamore body isnt lost, the cask finishes are all really pleasant to sip and let them lead your tongue around. Neat it wasnt perfect. In my few tests about half a cube worth of water for a small tumbler worked best. A fat tumbler pour over 1.5 cubes with 1teaspoon licor 43 brought ALL the caskings out fabulously. I want to give it a 4, but 3.75 like someone else said is maybe the reach. 3.5 totally out of 5 I could see. its unique, its tullamore, its Irish craft refined. Nothing to go stash a case of, but a bottle I definitely liked.68.0 USD per Bottle