Rye — Kentucky, USATasted December 1, 2019Though my incoming supply of whisky samples has slowed considerably, my consumption of samples seems to have slowed at an equal or greater pace, so I’m still acquiring more than I am drinking. I’m not complaining, there’s just no time these days to plow through samples like I was doing a year or two ago. Figured it was time to get back to it and thin the herd a little so I grabbed this rye that was given to me by @pollywollydoodle This NAS rye from Buffalo Trace is bottled at 45% ABV, is a natural color of dark copper and is chill filtered. The nose is very herbal with oregano, dill and mint. Quite sweet with some caramel, brown sugar and toffee. Light rye spice, cola and bubblegum. It shifts away from the sweeter notes with polished oak, barrel char, vanilla, orange oil and dark honey. Grassy, walnuts, buttery pecans, cherries, sawdust and a hint of mocha. The palate has a sweet arrival with a foundation of wood spice. Clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise and charred oak. The sweetness comes in the form of bubblegum, cherries, cola and dark chocolate. There are also some bitter walnuts and orange oil. A medium bodied mouthfeel that is lightly oily and creamy, mouth coating and dry. The finish is medium long with oak, peppery spice, walnuts and dry. As most of you may already know, I’m not much of a rye fan, but this one isn’t too bad. Not too complex, but nothing really unpleasant. Seems like it could be more though, and would probably be best in a cocktail. Cheers
Port Charlotte Scottish Barley
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTasted November 1, 2019Part three of the Wee Laddie tasting set. The third and final whisky in the Bruichladdich tasting set is the Port Charlotte Islay Barley. For those of you who may not be all too familiar with Bruichladdich, let me break it down for you. The Bruichladdich distillery produces 3 different lines of scotch whisky. Anything that is strictly Bruichladdich is unpeated, Port Charlotte is heavily peated, and Octomore (which sadly is not included in this set) is super heavily peated. Just think of it like Ford Motor Company circa 2000. They had 3 brands, all made by Ford. Bruichladdich would be Ford, Port Charlotte would be Mercury, and Octomore would be Lincoln. But I digress. So back to the whisky. This Port Charlotte has been peated to a level of 40ppm, is bottled at 50% ABV and is non chill filtered and natural color of yellow gold. Sweet, peat, and sweet peat on the nose. Lemon citrus, almonds and almond butter. A big hit of smoky, vinegary BBQ sauce, BBQ ribs and smoked fish, salmon mostly. Fairly salty, maritime/sea air and green olives. A touch medicinal with iodine, but nowhere near Laphroaigian levels. Vanilla, grilled apricots and nectarines, a definite sweetness behind all the smoke. Barley sugar, yellow apples, fruit/spice cake, butterscotch and toffee. A slight minerality and some sawdust. Floral notes with dry grass and a hint of red wine. So far this is the best nose of the 3. The palate is strong and peppery, youthful. Peaty, smoky, ashy, charred oak pulled from a bonfire and doused with sea water and damp earth. Slightly fruity - apricots mostly with some light lemon. Heat at times, not too complex, mostly those peaty notes. Green oak, medicinal and barley sugar. Caramelized/burnt sugar, cinnamon, ginger and graham crackers. A medium to full bodied mouthfeel that is creamy, mouthwatering and mouth coating. The finish is long, peaty, ashy, slightly fruity - mostly lemon, and dry. I think this one edged out the Classic Laddie for the top spot in the tasting set. It might not be quite as nuanced, especially in the palate, but the peat adds a much needed contrast to the overly malty profile of both the Laddie and the Islay Barley. Still, for my money I’d rather buy a Laphroaig or Ardbeg if I wanted to go with heavy peat. A solid 4 though. Cheers
Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2009
Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTasted October 29, 2019Part two of the Wee Laddie tasting set review. *Note this is not the same as the whisky listed as this was bottled specifically for the tasting set and does not have a vintage or farm of origin. I didn’t feel it was worth creating a new entry. The second whisky in this set is the Bruichladdich Islay Barley. This is different from the Classic Laddie in that all of the barley is grown specifically on Islay, the idea being that the terroir really does make an impact on the final product. Like the Classic Laddie, this is bottled at 50% ABV and is non chill filtered and natural color of yellow gold, and is also unpeated. The nose has lots of strong barely notes, honey and lemon citrus. Damp, musty and earthy. Like it’s unpeated brother, this too has a very peated feel to it right off the bat. Lemon squares, faint golden apples, peaches, pineapple and grilled plums. A touch mineral with some wheat bread. Vanilla and oak, maple, toffee, butterscotch and buttery pecans. Very light raspberries as well. The palate is quite spicy, very malty with lots of honey, hay, lemons and salty. Oak and heat, very green and slightly vegetal. Apricots and ginger. Young, vibrant, and spirit forward, but not very complex. A medium to full bodied mouthfeel that is oily and mouthwatering. The finish is medium long, spicy, oaky and salty. I’m not impressed with this whisky. Yes it is presented with pride as it is NCF and NC and at 50%, but it doesn’t have enough going for it taste wise and is a bit too intense to really enjoy. It does show that terroir does matter (or more to the point that the barley varietal matters) and shows that (presumably) changing nothing but the barley can make a huge difference on the intrinsic properties of the spirit. I did not try adding water, which may have helped. As it stands I’m giving it a 3.5. Cheers
Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie Scottish Barley
Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTasted October 27, 2019Part one of the Wee Laddie tasting set review. I bought the 3 bottle tasting set from Bruichladdich (which contains 200ml bottles of The Classic Laddie, Islay Barley, and Port Charlotte Scottish Barley) almost 3 years ago and figured it was time to dust it off and give it a proper shakedown. First up is The Classic Laddie. This Islay single malt is bottled at 50% ABV and is non chill filtered and natural color of yellow gold. It is also unpeated, a bit of an oddity for Islay, but everything under the Bruichladdich label is just that. The nose has very strong cereal notes, the barley is definitely the star here. Barley sugar and honey with a nice lemon/lime note. Floral at times with jasmine and honeysuckle, creamy vanilla and sugar cookies. Fruity, but not very sweet. Apricots, peaches, papaya, pears, oranges and very light sherry. Salty sea air, buttery almonds, oak and sawdust. There is a bit of burnt sugar and even a quick hit of coffee grounds. It’s definitely a young whisky with a youthful greenness and some vegetal notes. A mineral/chalky note at times, and even though it is unpeated, it has definite peat-like qualities to it. Hardly any alcohol to it even though it’s at 50%. The palate has plenty of honey, cereal malt and spice. Fruity, apricots, peaches, pears and orange pith. Vanilla, sugar cookies and salty sea spray. Charred oak, peppery and very young tasting. Again, those unpeated peat notes come in and serve to confuse but also elevate this malt a bit. Not a complex palate, but the quality is evident. A medium bodied mouthfeel that is very creamy and mouthwatering. The finish is medium long, malty, grainy, vanilla, oak and dry. Some nice complexity on the nose, but still could be improved with additional maturation or possibly a finish in some first fill bourbon barrels. The palate leaves much to be desired in the complexity department, however. I’m still amazed thought that this is unpeated. I would have figured at least 2-5ppm. Not sure what it was that I was getting if not peat. Easy drinking considering the strength, but not one that I would likely return to as it’s just not my preferred style. 3.75 Cheers Don’t forget to check out Dapper Drams on YouTube for all of my fabulous video reviews!
Yamazaki 12 Year
Single Malt — Honshu, JapanTasted October 6, 2019I don’t have many Japanese whiskies under my belt, so I decided to go ahead and open my bottle of this 12 year old single malt from Yamazaki. I paid $85 for this bottle a couple years ago before the world went crazy for Japanese whisky. Secondary market values are currently $100-115, so not a huge markup from retail, but still it has appreciated. The maturation is primarily ex bourbon, but there is also sherry and Mizunara oak as well in the mix. Bottled at 43% ABV and although there doesn’t appear to be a definitive answer one way or another, I believe this is chill filtered and has colorant added making it a honey gold. The nose opens as a combination of sweet, crisp apples, baked apples, and apple pie drizzled with caramel sauce. Oak, both American and Mizunara with a little barrel char. Very fruity and a bit floral with cherry blossoms. Peaches, red grapes, mulberries, candied pineapple and strawberry hard candy. Lots of honey, it really permeates the whole experience, along with cereal malt, pecans and some light sherry. More caramel with some toffee and a little vanilla. Some almonds/almond flour and marzipan here and there. The palate is rich but not overtly sweet. Baked goods like apple pie. A bit of wood spice, nutmeg mostly, almonds, and lightly malty. Bourbony notes but also some sherry in there as well. Honey, vanilla and quite fruity. Apples, peaches, lots of citrus - mostly oranges/orange peel and a touch of pomelo. A new one for me, but there was a definite hint of watered down cranberry juice, very unexpected but quite welcome. A medium bodied mouthfeel that is a bit creamy, mouth coating and mouthwatering. The finish is medium long with gentle spice, honey, oak, peaches, apples and even light bananas. Depending on the day, the nose ranges anywhere from delicate to assertive and can be very nice at times and somewhat boring at others. The palate is really good and is the star of the show (not that the nose was bad in any way). I don’t think this 12 year old quite lives up to the hype or the price, but still is a solid single malt. No doubt it would be far superior if it was presented to us at 46% and without chill filtration or colorant. 3.75-4 Cheers.85.0 USD per Bottle
Glenglassaugh Port Wood Finish
Single Malt — Highland, ScotlandTasted September 29, 2019Dipping back into my vast sample backlog, I came to Glenglassaugh, from the Highlands of Scotland. Port Wood Finish is... well...finished in Port wood. I love Port matured/finished whisky. When it’s done right you get lots of added sweetness and complexity. This one is bottled at 46% ABV and is non chill filtered and a natural golden color with pinkish hues to it. A candy-like sweetness begins the nosing experience along with fruity Port wine notes. Mixed berry pie and powdered sugar. Somewhat chalky at times but not necessarily in a bad way. Walnut bread, sandalwood, vanilla and lemon meringue. Honey, baklava, creamy, toffee. A whiff of smoke in the background. The palate is sweet at first, then a kick of spice hits to wake up the senses. Juicy dark fruits like cherries, plums, blueberries and strawberries. A touch malty but mostly covered up by the sweetness. Dark toffee/caramel, nectarines and peaches. Dark honey with a touch of allspice. A medium bodied mouthfeel that is creamy and mouth coating. The finish is medium long with sweet fruity candy, vanilla and winey notes. I liked this whisky, but I could see it being too much after the first dram. It’s not quite a dessert dram because of the spice level of the palate, but it’s just a little too sweet for more than just one, maybe two glasses. Good flavors, just a bit over the top in a few areas. At $65, or thereabouts, it’s not a bad price, but ultimately I would pass on buying a bottle. 3.75 and a thanks to @LeeEvolved for the sample. Cheers65.0 USD per Bottle
Grand Traverse Ole George 100% Straight Rye
Rye — Michigan, USATasted September 23, 2019My neighbors went out of town for a weekend and asked me to watch their dog. I wasn’t expecting any sort of repayment but much to my delight they brought me back a half bottle of Ole George from Grand Traverse Distillery, a craft distillery in Traverse City, Michigan (the very place they were visiting!). Ole George is a 100% rye whiskey with a mash bill of 95% unmalted and 5% malted rye. I believe the age is somewhere around 4-5 years but I’m not entirely sure. It’s bottled at 46.5% ABV and is non chill filtered and natural color of dark amber. The nose opens with lots of herbal and spicy rye notes, along with plenty of vanilla and mint. Some oak is present, but the main woody note is actually sandalwood. A fair amount of nutmeg with a little clove in there as well. Caramel corn, pecans and dark chocolate. After sitting a while it becomes much sweeter with more caramel, some toffee and a slight bubblegum note. There is a gentle underlying fruitiness in the form of cherries, pears and strawberries which helps to break up the spicy/sweet dichotomy. Vanilla pudding, buttery over cooked crescent rolls and barrel char. There is a very light dill note, of which I’m glad that it’s light as there are other ryes or high rye bourbons out there with heavy dill notes that really turn me off to ryes. The palate is sweet on the arrival but quickly turns to a spicy/sweet, rye heavy profile with lots of vanilla and sandalwood like on the nose. It’s quite earthy, like a nutrient rich soil and mulch. This was quite odd at first and I didn’t much care for it, but after a few drams I came to enjoy it. Peanuts, walnuts and a bit peppery. Some pine and oak to go along with the sandalwood, quite woody. More rye and peanuts with some mint and dill, but very light on those last two. Orange oil and pipe tobacco round out the experience. A medium bodied mouthfeel that is lightly oily and dry. The finish is long with rye, peanuts, vanilla, earthy and dry. I wasn’t sure what to make of this one when I first opened the bottle. It was very rye heavy, which I typically don’t like, but after working through the bottle I came to appreciate its strong character as well as it’s sweeter side. I’m not sure what the price point is with this bottle, but I would imagine it’s fairly high owing to the fact that it’s from a craft distillery. Price aside, I would have to recommend this to rye fans out there for its uniqueness. A solid 4. Cheers
Laphroaig Càirdeas 2019 Triple Wood Cask Strength
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTasted August 31, 2019It’s been a good long while since I’ve had a Laphroaig and it’s high time I corrected that. Thankfully I have this sample of the latest Cairdeas release, the 2019 Triple Wood Cask Strength, that was sent to me by the one and only @LeeEvolved. Bottled at an intimidating 59.5% ABV and is non chill filtered and natural color of dark amber. Strong sherry notes on the nose at first that mask the typical Laphroaig profile, but that medicinal peaty goodness comes through soon after. Smoky sherry with some strong oaky notes and a trace of menthol. Rich but not all that sweet. The sherry begins to dominate again with plums, cherries and dark berries. A mild nuttiness with that classic Laphroaig medicinal notes coming in like iodine and bandaids. Vanilla, toffee, lemon custard and salted caramels. Water brings down the peat and lets the sherry shine, though both aspects are subdued. The palate is intense, hot and rich. Super peaty, ashy with charred oak. The sherry notes are there but almost completely hidden by the heat and peat. Salty and peppery. Dark cherries and cherry pie. Water takes the intensity down considerably but it is still very peaty with plenty of sherry and cherries. A medium-full bodied mouthfeel that is hot, oily, mouth coating and then turns dry. The finish is medium long to long, thick, sherry richness, peaty, cherries, and dry. While I feel that this cask strength version is better than the standard 48% version, I think it’s just a bit too much. Somewhere in the 52-55% range would have really been the sweet spot. Great sherry flavors with a nice peaty backbone. While I can’t say it’s better than the 2013, 2014 or 2018 Cairdeas releases, it’s oh so much better than the 2017 release. Probably on par with the 2016. So I’m going to give this a 4.25 and say that if you can handle cask strength whiskies then definitely try to find one of these. Cheers.
Single Malt — Islands, ScotlandTasted August 27, 2019It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a travel retail exclusive bottle as it seems my international travel has waned a bit over the last year. I think I only have 1 TRE left unopened in my collection...I’ll have to do something about that soon. So on to the particulars. Turas-Mara is Gaelic for Long Journey (fitting for a whisky marketed towards travelers), bottled at 42% ABV and is chill filtered and has colorant added making it an amber honey color. It’s finished in a combination of bourbon barrels, Bordeaux casks and ruby port casks. There is a small flavor wheel on the box with the categories “Light & Delicate”, “Peated (light and heavy)”, “Rich & Full-Bodied” and “Rich & Intense”. Turas-Mara falls under the last category. Let’s see how accurate that is, shall we? The nose opens with apples and apple juice, clear and defined, with a cinnamon stick thrown in there. Musty charred oak with what I can only describe as hickory, and even though the flavor wheel claims this isn’t peated, I detect a hint of peat. More fruits in the form of tangerines, grapes, strawberries and light port notes. Vanilla cream, caramel and honey with some brown sugar. Malty buttery biscuits, slightly nutty like peanuts and light bourbon notes. Plums and mint chocolate, somewhat perfumed and some light red wine notes rounding out the experience. Nothing bad about the nose at all, just everything was on the subtle side and took a lot of coaxing to come through. The palate hit me like a ton of bricks after the light nature of the nose. Spicy, musty oak, again with the hint of peat. Dry red wine, red grapes and maraschino cherries. Dry roasted peanuts, brown sugar, creme brûlée, cinnamon and nutmeg. Vanilla, plums, peppery spice, mixed berries, apples and pears. A medium bodied mouthfeel that is creamy and semi-dry. The finish is medium long, spices, oak, vanilla and plums. The nose on this one was pleasant enough, albeit on the underwhelming side, but the palate was overly spiced and not all that enjoyable. For the price, $90 for a 1L bottle, this was a big letdown. Jura takes a lot of heat for being overpriced and overhyped. Can’t say I disagree with either point. I would say this is worth a try, but definitely not a buy. 3.25 Cheers90.0 USD per Bottle
Kirkland 12 Year Blended Scotch
Peated Blend — ScotlandTasted August 16, 2019So about a month and a half ago I was perusing the whisky aisle for something new and, more importantly, cheap to drink in mass quantities on a weekend trip. Enter the 1.75L magnum bottle of Kirkland 12 year old blended scotch from Alexander Murray for the whopping price of $53. I figured it would be more than plenty and the price was right so I bought it. Over the course of the next month I whittled it down to the point where I needed to start taking notes or it would be gone, so here’s what I found. Bottled at 40% ABV and is chill filtered and has Johnnie Walker levels of colorant added making it a dark amber. Lots of oak, honey and grain alcohol up front on the nose. Plenty of vanilla, smoky apples and pears. Light sherried raisins, burnt sugar and slightly waxy. Nutmeg and some light cinnamon and chili powder. Overall sweet and fruity, but too light to be engaging. A touch of salt/brine, orange rinds and more oak and burnt sugar. The palate has strong oaky notes, caramel and burnt sugar. Vanilla, orange and grain alcohol. Slightly smoky and peaty but more like an afterthought than a plot point. Honey with a salty undertone and a hint of pineapple and apricot. Predominantly grain alcohol and a fair amount of toasted coconut, but the standout profile is that of burnt sugar. A light to medium bodied mouthfeel that is thin and forgetful. The finish is short with vanilla, caramel, grain alcohol and, you guessed it, burnt sugar. If you couldn’t tell, the overall theme here is burnt sugar and grain alcohol. It really boiled down to those two notes by the end of every glass and it became quite boring. Not that bad for the price and quantity you get, but I’d rather spend $10-15 less and pick up the same amount of Famous Grouse, which I think is a better blend. Not recommended neat, but it’s not that bad on the rocks with a splash of water. 2.5 and a buy at your own risk only if you love the taste of burnt sugar warning. Cheers PS, this will NOT be appearing in any Dapper Drams episode. Not wasting my time or yours bringing this one to the pocket sized screen.