Lohin McKinnon Peated Single Malt
Peated Single Malt — British Columbia, CanadaTastedIf you like Ardbeg Islay malt, you’ll like this unusual Canadian malt from Vancouver. The peated malted barley has come from Scotland (though not from Islay) for reasonable authenticity, but the lack of age statement hints that expectations should be kept low. Like Ardbeg, it pours a very light lemon colour with a strong waft of smoke from the off. The body is light with minimal legginess. The first taste brings a strong limey citrus flavour, quickly elbowed aside by a mouth-coating peatiness. What’s missing, compared with a decent peated malt, is a balancing sweetness, any hint of fruit, and complexity on the finish. I’m happy to have this in my collection-it’s not too pricey and a fun novelty-but I can’t recommend it.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Bourbon Batch C918
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedI can’t smell anything but alcohol at first approach to this massive, chunky bourbon. Then rich vanilla and brown sugar aromas sneak out as I drop water in to assuage the 67-odd % proof. It’s a deep bronze, leggy, inviting dram in the glass. Sipping is like being punched repeatedly in the mouth by a booze-soaked cinnamon bun. Each time it delivers spicy, rich sweetness with a fiery kick, even when well watered. This is benchmark bourbon, no holds barred.
Glenmorangie Nectar d'Or Sauternes Cask Finish
Single Malt — Highlands, ScotlandTastedWell, no one else took the hint (instruction really) about reviewing the newer NAS Nectar D’Or under this heading, so I’m going to make a start. And my considered opinion is: yum. It’s pale gold, like the dessert wine that lent its barrels for the finish, with a definite fruity sweetness on the nose and the palate. The apricot jamminess falls just on the right side of cloying, with a pleasant vanilla and almond-nutty finish. I don’t have the previous release with an age on the bottle, but I will say there’s nothing harsh or young about this (though equally there’s nothing super complex either). This is an excellent whiskey for folks that don’t like whiskey, and a good one for those that do.
Yellow Spot 12 Year Single Pot Still
Single Pot Still — IrelandTastedI found it hard to imagine something more delicious than Redbreast-out of any of the world’s whiskies-but Yellow Spot is it. Long before the crackly single pot grain flavour registers, it’s fruit, fruit and fruit: raspberries , cherries, maybe even some astringent cranberries lurking in there. It knocks fruity Scotches like Glenfiddich 18 into a cocked hat. The fruit reels out in waves and waves of lusciousness, with warm nutty tones and Terry’s dark chocolate orange as it unfolds. It’s simply a delight from start to finish. Benchmark Irish.
Johnnie Walker Blenders' Batch Red Rye Finish
Blended — ScotlandTastedThis is the bottom-rated whiskey in my collection. It seems right, yet somehow unfair. It’s not just a regular Scotch, all pungent malt, whiffs of fruit for the fortunate. The red rye finish actually adds something really tasty, like buttered honey on toasted rye. Don’t blow a wad of cash on this, but don’t underestimate either.
Little Book Chapter 01: The Easy
Blended American Whiskey — Kentucky, USATastedBest whisky in the world. An epic rye. I saw it on the bourbon menu of a local bbq place and I had to try it. Wow. Wow. Wow. How can such a punchy dram be so beguiling? The nose is sweet and buttery, yet floral; the colour deep amber. The palate has vast alcoholic oomph delivered with a honeyed sweetness and finished with a sly spicy warmth. Ooh, and cinnamon peanut brittle somehow. Little Boom achieves balance by being perfectly weighted on every axis, and altogether huge and satisfying. I feel bolstered for my bike ride home in the snow. Thanks Bookers!
Hakushu Distiller's Reserve
Peated Single Malt — JapanTastedSome whiskies strike me quite differently with every dram. Hakushu DR is one of them. It’s pale, with a piney, faintly smoky aroma like toned-down Oude Genever. The palate is malt-forward, then oily, sweet and fruity, with a medium-length finish that recalls damp turf over peat. When I’m feeling as if I don’t really love Scotch malt (gasp!), I don’t much like this. In a Scotch-friendly phase, I think it’s quite fine. Never a favourite though.
Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye
Canadian — Manitoba, CanadaTastedI am grateful to Jim Murray for challenging me to try Northern Harvest by calling it the Best Whisky in the World. It started me on an odyssey through Canadian drams that continues to make me very happy. After four bottles of NH, I can say that one was sublime, two were great, and one was so-so. At its best, NH is somehow delicate, crunchy, aromatic and spicy all at once. This bottle has a lovely sweet banoffee aroma with a palate to match - the biscuity base comes through especially nicely. Sipping on it’s light, not syrupy, but still toasty and delicious with a long finish of baking spices. The best bottle of NH I’ve finished really was among the best on a shelf of 50-odd from Scotland, Canada, Japan and the USA. And it is unquestionably FABULOUS value.
Gooderham & Worts Eleven Souls
Canadian — Ontario, CanadaTastedI love Canadian whisky and this is one of the very best. Creme brûlée is an inviting nose, but it hardly hints at the richness of the first taste. Although it seems almost syrupy in its density, the sweetness and spice are in fact perfectly balanced. As the flavour unravels, it’s as nutty, creamy and luscious as a tongue-coating, artery-furring, soul-pleasing banoffee pie - with alcohol! There is literally nothing not to love about this, from the smart blue label to the warm, honeyed finish. Well done G&W!
Wayne Gretzky No. 99 Ninety Nine Proof Canadian Whisky
Canadian — Ontario, CanadaTastedThis is a tasty, punchy whisky alright. The Demerara flavour is more suggestive of bourbon than rye at first taste, but then the astringent spice of cloves and later drying black licorice come through on the finish. The proof is unequivocal too, backing up the chunky palate. Not to be trifled with.