McCallum’s Perfection Blended Scotch Whisky
Blended — ScotlandTastedNose: Nice stuff. Sweet malt, vanilla and light stewed fruits. The nose could easily be mistaken for something little more expensive. Taste: Forward driven sweetness and light tannin spice. There is abundant burnt caramel and sugars mixed with a light herbal funk….hinting at the presence of smoke but I haven’t detected any. For a cheap blend this is big on flavour and decent enough to drink straight. Having said that its not outstanding in any way as the taste profile is a bit up and down and it lacks subtlety. Still at least this is not like many cheap blends where the malt is diluted to a whisper. Finally the grain whisky base is good. I think if you approach this as bottle shelf blend there is much to like and admire in this bottle. Finally the idea that this built around Cragganmore certainly doesn’t seem like fake news after tasting it and thanks to Cascode for the sample.
Johnnie Walker Black Label Sherry Edition
Peated Blend — ScotlandTastedNose is dried apricots, marmalade and vanilla. Is there a hint of smoke like normal Black label?…may be but it is very distant. The taste is round with a touch buttery malt followed by sweet fruits – Apricots and orange riding on vanilla and a touch of oak. Smoke is more present on the palate than the nose but this is not a smoky as the standard Black Label. The finish is noticeably smoother than standard Black label – the base grain is much higher quality and in some respects this is a better scotch but is also a little less exciting as well. It’s more impressive in some respects on the rocks and I’d be happy to drink this way if I was out at a bar…I’m guessing it would be a great mixer. So an interesting new release but not earth shattering. Its score is similar to standard Black Label - 3 stars or 88.
Rollins Tennessee Whiskey
Tennessee — Tennessee, USATastedBatch 15: Nose is green apples and rye…some toasted oak and vanilla. Taste in a glencairn is corn sweet with a hint of baked apples, burnt sugar moving to cinnamon and light oak spice. You don’t taste the barrels like better bourbon but there is some nice oak spice and toasted oak notes. The overall taste is balanced and wonderfully smooth. Its not super complex or long in finish but there is much to like and nothing to hate. This is obviously young spirits but quality is where it should be. In Australia this is around $45 and I think its top value. Compare this to Jack Daniels and shake your head in disbelief that Jack is usually a few dollars more but serves up so much less in everyway. Can be drunk straight in a glencairn where it is perfectly pleasant if a bit limited but rocks on the rocks where the char and toasted notes come out more prominently. My guess this is designed for making a great Old Fashioned. Solid 3 stars or 88. Please note this comes in batches and there is definitely batch variation going on here. (Word to the wise; batch 16 is coming through as I write this and is not as nice as batch 15, which is still in shops and the basis of this review.)
Espolòn Reposado Tequila
Tequila Reposado — Los Altos, Jalisco, MexicoTastedNose is lovely fresh herbal notes typical of tequila, hint of green apples and mint. Taste is wonderfully smooth and oily with a salty herbal and light peppermint finish. Being Reposada there is hint oak spice on the finish that works nicely mainly because it’s very subtle. For the price this is great stuff and of course its 100% Agave. No it is not as complex or refined as a good Mezcal but it does the trick. 3.5 stars or 88
Slane Irish Whiskey
Blended — IrelandTastedNose is vanilla, caramel, fruit, oak….the bourbon casks come through so clearly you could in a blind tasting think this this was a bourbon….I can even smell or am tricked into smelling a hint of rye and green apples…but its not a bourbon and the hint of sherry cask point to there is something else going on here…if you can get behind the big robust notes on offer that is. Taste is sweet and super smooth - dominated by caramel and toasted wood. Light spice on the finish stop this being almost like a liquor. The sherry casks bring some nice baked jammy fruits notes to the party but the virgin oak and bourbon casks do dominate the overall presentation. There is no rye to cut through the wood sugars and the spirit is too young to do much else except show off the casks used. On one hand this impressive stuff for a new company with a full and flavoursome nose and a super smooth delivery. On the other hand this is simply lacking in any complexity and falls too heavily on the sweet side of the street for me. In the end nice but simple stuff - lets see where this all leads to for this company. 3 stars or 86
Collier and McKeel Tennessee Whiskey
Bourbon — Tennessee, USATastedI believe this is what is sold as Rollins in Australia - Batch 15: Nose is green apples and rye…some toasted oak and vanilla. Taste in a glencairn is corn sweet with a hint of baked apples, burnt sugar moving to cinnamon and light oak spice. You don’t taste the barrels like better bourbon but there is some nice oak spice and toasted oak notes. The overall taste is balanced and wonderfully smooth. Its not super complex or long in finish but there is much to like and nothing to hate. This is obviously young spirits but quality is where it should be. In Australia this is around $45 and I think its top value. Compare this to Jack Daniels and shake your head in disbelief that Jack is usually a few dollars more but serves up so much less in everyway. Can be drunk straight in a glencairn where it is perfectly pleasant if a bit limited but rocks on the rocks where the char and toasted notes come out more prominently. My guess this is designed for making a great Old Fashioned. Solid 3 stars or 88. Please note this comes in batches and there is definitely batch variation going on here. (Word to the wise; batch 16 is coming through as I write this and is not as nice as batch 15, which is still in shops and the basis of this review.)
Dewar's White Label
Blended — ScotlandTastedNose hints at some nice whisky fighting against the base grain. Taste confirms this has some nice whisky but just enough to get by. One gets some nice malt and a hint orange peel all present on the nose but the taste is on the weak side and it doesn’t linger so you are left with base grain which is OK but not outstanding. In a world of traditional blends this compares well to Red Label even though the later may have bit more character but they are more or less on the same level. Like Red it’s best on the rocks or as a mixer. 2 stars or 84.
Glen Grant The Major's Reserve
Single Malt — Speyside, ScotlandTastedThis is a light coloured whisky that has no age statement. In Australia it is priced between the world of blends and the world of single malts….is it a bridge over troubled waters or a bridge too far? It comes with a pretty decent nose. In the glass you'll notice orange peel and a hint of chocolate and vanilla. Medium bodied whisky leading with fruit and some butteriness to the mouth feel there is also a touch of jam and marzipan hiding in the background. These tasting notes might make it sound like a sweet Christmas cake dram but the flavours are not super rich here. Light tannin dry spice completes the picture. The finish is not long but nothing nasty in the tail either. The smoothness is noteworthy. There is a lot to like in this especially when it’s on special. So in the end not a heavy hitter by any stretch of the imagination but a decent quaffing whisky that can entertain when drunk neat. So a solid 3 stars or 87.
Loch Lomond Original
Peated Single Malt — Highlands, ScotlandTastedOld school peat, orange peel, light brine and pine needles on the nose. The nose reminds me a little of something by Springbank but its not in same class at the same time. My first taste was disappointing with light peat and brine finish being the only highlights. It’s smooth like the other Loch Lomond I have reviewed and well defined. It certainly improves as you get to the bottom of the glass – that’s a good sign for what is a cheap scotch. It’s a nice dram and I like it but with my reviewer hat on it just doesn’t take off which is a pity. Taste is some malt sweetness and light fruit followed by dry tannin and oak spice. Some peat and a touch of sea salt complete the picture. Medium bodied and a not a long finish but nothing to hate either. I prefer the Reserve even though this does offer more in the glass – sometimes it's better to tell a short story well than bigger one only so so. 3 stars or 88.
Blanton's Original Single Barrel
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedFirst taste of Blanton's and what a great bottle – the stopper is a show stopper….sorry for that pun. This tasting note is for barrel number 1310. Nose is understated at first….rye earthy tones at the forefront with sweet vanilla and caramel coming up in the background slowly and almost muted at first. There is also apple, orange and mint also in the mix but all very subtle and also nicely integrated behind the rye. Nice to have a bourbon that doesn’t smell like you are smelling a bottle of vanilla essence you opened in a saw mill. This is a great all round bourbon and the price makes it very good value. Taste is initial sweet vanilla and caramel start that quickly transitions to rye spice and wood tannin. The spice and the tannin are refined and not overpowering. Its medium bodied and not a super long finish but it does linger a little with mild tannin, a hint of mint and earthy notes. Because the tannins are not huge this is on the sweeter side of the bourbon street. At this price point if you compare this to say Russell’s 10 year it certainly has a sweeter less tannin approach. Its also less complex than Russells but also more even handed. I’m really impressed by the balance between the vanilla, the rye and the tannin. This is sweet bourbon with not a lot of wood or charcoal in the finish. At 46% a dash of water opens it up and brings fresh mint and orange more into view on the nose and flattens the taste and makes for less initial spice but brings spice on the finish. I prefer it straight. Lets talk about the rye - The rye while not overpowering is the backbone and heart at work here. The more I drink bourbon the more I think how rye is used is the key and I think Blanton has used rye very smartly here. This is a great sipping Bourbon or a place to start if you want to see what Bourbon really has to offer outside of Beam and the like. If you are a Scotch drinker this might not be the place to start….may be Evan Williams Single Barrel would the be the right place. Still good stuff! 3.5 Stars or 89. I’m rounding my score up to 4 stars because it feels mean to give it 3….but its not really 4 star bourbon but its certainly not 3 either!