Ninety percent I'll spend on good times & women & whisky. The other ten percent I'll probably just waste. - Tug McGraw

  1. Murlarkey Heritage Whiskey

    American Single Malt — Virginia , USA

    3.75 out of 5 stars
    Murlarkey is a small, craft distillery just west of Washington, DC in the town of Bristow, VA. They distill spirits with an Irish theme and this is probably their best and most distributed whiskey: Heritage Old Country. It’s also wine cask finished, though it’s not clarified as to which specific type or duration. It’s bottled at 50% ABV and sells here in Virginia for around $45 (750ml). It’s a beautiful, shiny copper and mahogany in the tasting glass, while appearing very oily with big, watery droplets left behind after a spin. The nose begins sharply with a zippy, oak note before settling down quite nicely with an elegant bouquet of wine influence: grapes, raisins and light toffee. There’s a light dill and rye note hanging in the background with a bit of black pepper. The ABV power is completely masked. The palate is quite hot and spicy on the initial sip. Zesty citrus rinds and a striking note of dill shock the tongue before relenting to more sweet, wine cask notes. It’s quite rich with a medium mouth coat that reveals the slight rye pepper spices after mid sip. This whiskey bounces from a traditional rye to a corn-forward bourbon with heavy wine cask notes with ease. Where you would think this would be ultimately unbalanced, it actually finds a groove and dances around until you chase it away. The heat plays the only steady role, even into the finish. Speaking of which, it’s medium to long, with the rye and pepper taking the predominant roll, but that wine cask isn’t finished just yet, and lingers on. Ultimately, this is a fine Virginia whiskey. I believe I’d take this over the Virginia Distillery Co’s port finished and the Bowman’s port. It certainly beats both on the price point, as well- by $5-10. It’s relatively easy to find here in the state too, although I’m not sure what kind of distribution they have outside of Virginia. 3.75, maybe even 4, stars. Cheers.
    45.0 USD per Bottle
  2. Coopers' Craft Straight Bourbon Whiskey

    Bourbon — Kentucky, USA

    2.75 out of 5 stars
    So, I was in my local spirits store looking for a cheap bourbon for making my favorite whiskey cocktail: Bourbon & Coca Cola. I usually just settle for different Jim Beam varieties, but I thought I mix it up (as long as it was at the same price point or cheaper). It just so happens that this bottle was on sale this week for $16.99 (750ml). Let’s do a quick review for a neat pour and then a sentence or two about how well it tastes with a splash of Coke, and over ice. First, it’s bottled at 41.1% ABV and pours a rich sunset/mahogany. It’s very oily with fat, undefined legs and a train of tiny drops around the glass after a quick spin. The nose is spiced apples with cinnamon and a hint of caramel. Light rye notes also mingle with fresh sawdust and vanilla. The palate is mellow, at first, with orchard fruit and slightly more vanilla. The backside reveals harsh oak and rye spice. It has a light mouthfeel, which doesn’t bode well for mixing it, but it’s decent as a neat dram. The finish is weak vanilla, apples and oak casks. It’s relatively short and inoffensive. Mixed with Coca Cola, it’s dramatically different than my usual Beam & Coke: absence of bananas makes for a more citrusy cocktail and it does seem more lively than my typical go to. It’s a fine way to mix things up. As a score, neat, it’s 2.5 stars. As a cocktail, it’s slightly higher. If I can keep scoring this for $17 I’d gladly use it as a change of pace. Cheers.
    17.0 USD per Bottle
  3. Aberlour Triple Cask

    Single Malt — Highlands, Scotland

    3.25 out of 5 stars
    Here’s a new-ish release from Speyside distillery, Aberlour. It’s an NAS bottling that contains whisky from three different types of maturation: American oak, European oak and sherry casks. So, what name did Aberlour settle on for this release? Triple Cask. Very clever, very very clever. This was initially intended to be a European release, but I believe it is now being offered worldwide. It’s bottled at 40% ABV and has added color and chill-filtration. I added this bottle to an international order about a month ago for $32 (70cl). It’s new penny copper in the glass with watery, fat legs and heavy drops and noses like any typical Speysider: sherry fruits, vanilla, green apple slices, caramel swirls and a faint, fresh oak. There’s no indication of heat and giving extra time or drops of water doesn’t open up a thing. Just pour it and get after it. The palate is practically a carbon copy of the nose, with a little more oak barrel presence. It’s slightly harsh at mid sip and turns even more bitter towards the back end. The sherry casks take over the mouth coat at the very end, much like they do on the standard 12, 16 and 18 year old bottles. The finish is medium length and bitter. Warm oak leads to a lingering, but faint sweetness. In the end, this is just another typical Aberlour. There’s nothing offensive about it, but the complexity either doesn’t exist or is masked by bitter oak and low ABV. Stick with the Casg Annamh or the A’Bunadh if you’re a fanboy of this distillery or just want more flavor and impact from your Aberlour. At $32, it’s a great deal if you see it sitting on shelves, but I’d rather spend another $20-30 for a whisky with more depth and/or power. 3 stars with a .25 star bump for the price point. Cheers.
    32.0 USD per Bottle
  4. Highland Park 10 Year Viking Scars

    Peated Single Malt — Islands, Scotland

    2.5 out of 5 stars
    This is a newer, European release exclusive, 10 year expression from Highland Park...and, yes, it has the Viking-theme designation: Viking Scars. (Rolling eyes emoji). This stuff is also so exclusive that they had to shrink the bottles to 35cl to make sure there’s plenty for the crazy high demand. I assume it was also diluted to 40% to help stretch it, as well. The only good part of all this is that I landed a bottle for $18. Appearance-wise, it’s rich gold and really oily, with lots of runny legs and medium-sized, watery drops in the Glencairn tasting glass. The nose seems much closer to an ex-bourbon matured HP than their typical Oloroso sherry stuff. Apples, pears and orange wedges greet you almost immediately. There’s very little smoke, which has become more of the norm with HP recently. Oak tannins and heather round things out and there’s absolutely zero heat or ABV presence, but that’s no surprise really. The palate focuses a bit more on the sherry cask notes: raisins and fresh-pressed grapes mingle with some orange marmalade. It has an oily and warm mouthfeel with hints of salty peat and smoke on the very backend. It’s very thin and sweeter than I expected, since I figured the youthful age would hinder this one and create a more abrasive and maybe give it a new make vibe. But, that’s not really the case. It’s sweet and borderline one dimensional. The finish is short, but vibrant and slightly harsh. Sherry and orchard fruit linger again, but cause it to lean a bit too dessert-like for my tastes. Overall, I don’t know the real reason for this release. Small bottles tend to indicate something more limited, yet highly prized- and this certainly wouldn’t be considered prized. The diluted nature and 10 year age statement feel like they’re just trying to keep up with the Joneses. Oh, so and so has a 10yo release? We need to get in on that. Adding the Viking nameplate is an embarrassing move here, too. Everything about this screams mediocrity, so that’s the fitting score I will give it. 2.5 stars. The price is right, I guess, but I’m not bumping this score just for that. Just move along...even you HP fanboys, there’s nothing to see here. Cheers
    18.0 USD per Bottle
  5. 1770 Glasgow Single Malt Release No. 1

    Single Malt — Lowlands , Scotland

    3.75 out of 5 stars
    Welcome to the Scottish Lowland’s (technically, since Glasgow is considered in the lowland region) newest distillery: Glasgow Distillery. It was founded in 2012 and they released this bottle, called 1770, in 2018. The single malt contained herein is a blend of mostly 4-5 year old juice. This is the first release from the distillery and it was made from whisky aged in ex-bourbon casks before a short, finishing treatment in virgin oak casks. It’s non-chill filtered, but has some added color, and was bottled at 46%. A total of 5,000 bottles were filled and distributed by the distillery through a pre-sale order. Demand was so high that they stopped the bottling at 5,000 and limited buyers to just one bottle per person. They have since upped production and made a second release with a 2019 Vintage declaration on the label and they are also in the process of releasing a peated version of the 1770 line. This is a deep gold in color with very thin legs, while appearing oily with fast-running legs. The nose is grassy and biscuity, with vanilla creams and butterscotch candies forming the sweet aspect. The ABV is well-hidden along with the barrel notes. I expected more wood presence with the virgin oak finishing, but it truly must’ve been quick and meant just to keep the sweetness in check. The palate is orchard fruit prominence: green apples, pears and pressed raisins. Butterscotch candy also adds some depth, even if it is mostly a rich and creamy aspect. By mid sip it begins to turn hot with a drier than expected mouth feel. Some fresh oak appears to finally add a backbone. It never truly reaches a luscious feeling, but it also isn’t overly harsh or abrasive. That’s a promising start to a new whisky from a brand new distillery. The finish is medium length with some wood and pepper spice finally asserting itself, while a very nice orange and blackberry jam flavor lingers into the final moments. It’s delicious and a very pleasant surprise. Overall, this is an exciting start to a brand-spanking new distillery. It won’t wow you with depth, but I gotta think that a 12-15 year old example that’s been matured in quality ex-bourbon casks will offer up some serious complexity down the road. I’m also curious as to how well this stuff will take to some rich, Oloroso sherry cask finishing. Lowland whisky usually pairs well with softer sherry and red wine casks, so I hope this is in the works for Glasgow. I could become another quality, Lowland whisky supplier. This pour, thanks to my buddy @PBMichiganWolverine, is an exciting start and a quality dram. Something tells me a lot of these bottles won’t get opened and enjoyed, however, as it’s the inaugural release and collectors have already hoarded a lot of these away. Sadly, I missed my chance to do this. 3.75 stars. Cheers, my friends.
  6. Mackmyra Svensk Rök

    Single Malt — Sweden

    2.0 out of 5 stars
    Svensk Rok translates to “Swedish smoke”, so Mackmyra distillery isn’t trying to be creative with the name of this single malt- at all. This is a peated whisky and they experimented by adding juniper to the end of the smoking process in an effort to add serious spice and florals to the already smoky malt. It’s natural color and non-chill filtered, while bottled at 46.1% ABV and a 500ml bottle cost me $28. Not a bad price, even though it’s a small bottle. It’s pale yellow and makes medium, oily legs and drops while still appearing watery overall. The nose starts out quite medicinal on the smoky aspect. There’s a light, Laphroaig-y band aid note that needs to dissipate before you can pick up other subtle nuances like vanilla, Juniper flower, honey and a very faint brine scent. The palate was surprisingly heavy on the charcoal and cigarettes. The peat stayed strictly mineral and dry. Any florals and sweetness were over washed by the cigarette note, which really made this one a tough for me as I despise that smell. The mouthfeel was rough and abrasive, as well, so the whisky must be quite young. The finish came across as wet cigarettes that linger on and on (which I did not let last very long- I had to chase it with water after 15-20 seconds). Medicinal notes and minerals left everything dry and I couldn’t wait to chase this with another sweet, sherried malt. Overall, this did not suit my palate one bit. I’ve tasted tobacco on many malts before- and while I wouldn’t describe that as an overly enjoyable flavor IMHO, I have learned to appreciate what it adds to most richer tasting whiskies. This cigarette note, however, is an entirely different matter. I just do not like it. Thankfully, this was a small bottle and after I poured a long term sample (that I’ll never knowingly drink lol) and a few more for possible trades- there wasn’t much left so I dispatched the rest of the bottle very quickly. I know I won’t replace this one, but I’d still like to try a few more things from Mackmyra- but I think I’ll stick to unpeated malts going forward. This one gets 1.5-2 stars from me. Cheers.
    28.0 USD per Bottle
  7. Glenmorangie Tayne

    Single Malt — Highlands, Scotland

    3.0 out of 5 stars
    The final sample I needed from the Glenmorangie travel retail Legends Collection: The Tayne. This bottle pays homage to Spanish sailing ships that transported their wares from the Spanish coast up to Scotland and the U.K. Thanks to my NJ connection, @Richard-ModernDrinking I get to finish this lackluster trilogy off without having to spend another $85-100 to do so. This bottle contains non-age specific juice that was finished in Spanish Amontillado sherry casks. It’s chill filtered, has added color and was bottled at 43% ABV. It’s rich gold in color and makes thin legs without leaving very many drops behind. The nose is ripe raspberries, oranges and dried orchard fruit. There’s a heavy, dry roasted peanut note along with the faintest of oak. The palate starts with more berries and oranges but transitions quickly to cinnamon and paprika spices before a nice, bitter chocolate note rounds things out. It definitely seems much stronger than 43%, but it has to be youthful spirit giving that impression. The finish is long and warm, spicy with a lingering oily sherry note. This is hands down the best aspect of the dram- it just hangs there until you wash it away. Overall, I’m not sure which of the Legends bottles I liked the most. This one lacked any serious complexity, but it was quite palatable- like most Glenmorangie. It seems as though they are never exciting drams- with the exception to the inaugural, Signet bottle. It’s a shame you have to pay $160+ to get to that level with a Glenmorangie, though. This one is a decent, if unremarkable, whisky. 3 stars. Thanks again, Richard. Cheers.
  8. Red Spot 15 Year Single Pot Still

    Single Pot Still — Ireland

    4.25 out of 5 stars
    Rebirth of a legendary whisky from the 1960’s: Red Spot 15yo Irish whiskey. This bottle has reappeared in 2018, after Mitchell & Sons passed the old recipe down to Midleton distillery. The Green Spot and Yellow Spot bottles have also reappeared, with a release of Blue Spot due on the horizon. This release is a blend of whiskey that was matured for 15 years in a combination of ex-bourbon, Oloroso sherry and Marsala wine casks. It’s bottled at 46% and runs about $115. It’s amber and warm copper in color (natural) and has oily, thin legs and watery drops. The nose begins slightly nutty and roasted with a hefty waft of cinnamon breakfast cereal creeping in immediately after the pour. After some time, toffee and light oak mingle with apple skins and beeswax. There’s no real hint of heat, even at a robust 46% ABV. The palate sings of all spice, cinnamon and spicy barrel notes. Hints of smoked, ginger marinated beef jerky provide the crux of the flavors on the tongue, with some vanilla and light citrus cooling things off on the back end. It’s moderately rich with a mouth coat that seems thin at times, while oily at others. The finish is long and steadily warming, with cinnamon and caramel leading the charge. Lingering cereal notes keep the flavors balanced, although maybe a little boring, at the very end. It ultimately entices you to go back in for another sip- which is usually a sign of a wonderful whiskey...and this one certainly is. Overall, this is a fine product. The recipe has been recreated wonderfully and it makes me want to taste an old pour of the Red Spot from the 60’s. Good luck finding that, I know, but damn I really want to. Thanks to my buddy, @Scott_E from Long Island, for this generous pour. I went out and bought a bottle several months ago and I think it’s going to be a losing battle if I try not to open the entire Spot range of bottles. This stuff is fantastic. 4.25 stars, although I’d love to see this bottle drop a little in price (again, good luck I know) as I’ve noticed Irish whiskey is finally getting caught up in the whiskey craze and driving prices northward. This seems like a no brainer at $80-85, but I had to pay $117 for my bottle and that’s quite expensive for a 15yo bottle of whiskey. But, I still highly recommend finding a pour, at least, and experiencing this one for yourself. You won’t be disappointed. Cheers.
    117.0 USD per Bottle
  9. Lagavulin 9 Year (Game of Thrones-House Lannister)

    Peated Single Malt — Islay, Scotland

    3.5 out of 5 stars
    I think I’m overdue to review another Game of Thrones themed scotch whisky. This is the one I think I was most excited for when the distillery list was officially released: Lagavulin. Now, to be honest, I’m not a diehard Laga fan like, say, Parks & Rec actor Nick Offerman. They have a staple whisky with their 16yo offering and I also enjoyed the 8yo that they released for their 200th anniversary (which quickly became a core range release). Owner, Diageo, also releases a cask strength, 12yo as part of their annual, limited releases and I’d have to say that is my favorite Lagavulin. So, the Game of Thrones release is a 9yo whisky that’s bottled at 46%. I’m sure there’s added color (to make it exactly the same as the rest of the GoT bottles). I do believe it is still non-chill filtered, however. It’s bronze in color and still looks very watery in the Glencairn. It produces a few large drops after a spin, but they tend to stick to the glass. The nose is a meaty, charcoal smoke at first. Some light mint and citrus peel fold around the smoke before turning sweeter than I expected. Fresh cut oak provides a strong backbone here, though. The palate strikes me as overly sweet on the initial sip. I get cotton candy and vanilla creams crowding the smoked beef and lightly abrasive oak and young juice. It seems like the sweet side is fighting with the smoky side- and neither can gain control or a strong foothold. The later batches of the 16yo seemed to have this same issue, albeit the whisky was much more smooth due to the extra maturation time. The finish is long and slightly harsh. There’s a dry smoke on the back of the tongue and lingering vanilla. Overall, I’m not sure I’m a big fan of this whisky. It’s a quality release from Lagavulin, but I tend to like the higher proof or the straight smoky aspect from this distillery. The sherry cask parts seem to overpower the peat in this malt. So, my score isn’t me indicating that this is a subpar malt, it’s just my opinion towards a flavor profile that I don’t prefer from Lagavulin. Give me the 8yo and 12yo CS every time and I’ll be a happy man. This is just a 3.5 star dram for me. I fully understand that your mileage may vary. Cheers.
    52.0 USD per Bottle
  10. Highland Park 21 Year

    Peated Single Malt — Islands, Scotland

    4.0 out of 5 stars
    So, this will be a dual review since I opened a bottle of this for my Fresh Takes video over on @Generously_Paul’s YouTube channel, Dapper Drams. The reason this will be a dual review is because Highland Park released two different versions of this whisky: the original 47.5% version and a reduced ABV 40% version when their 21yo stocks dwindled in 2010 & 2011. I opened the 40% bottle for the video, but I also had an open bottle of the 47.5% from a few months back. First, a little history about the releases: it was originally launched for travel retail in 2007, and in 2009 it won Best Single Malt Whisky at the World Whisky Awards. Well, naturally, demand skyrocketed and left HP scrambling to meet it- so they did the logical thing: the blended casks down to 40% to stretch the whisky and help meet the surge. They returned it to original strength in 2012, and made it a core range release for the UK market, before discontinuing it completely in 2016- as they began to roll out the Viking re-theme and flood the market with more and more NAS whisky. Tisk-tisk. Onto the reviews: HP 21 47.5% ——————— Appearance: deep gold with oily, thin legs and heavy drops. I believe this does have some added color, but I’m almost certain it’s non-chill filtered because of the higher ABV. Nose: leathery, restrained smoke and tropical fruits, butterscotch and toffee and some lively citrus make it pop more on the tongue (the ABV helps here as well) Palate: medium smokiness with juicy, sherry cask notes, heavy tropical and orchard fruits. The oak is more noticeable in the original version than the 40%. The higher proof adds a definite boost in the heat factor, but I still wouldn’t add water. The mouth feel is consistent and luscious, not thick, but it still clings to everything it touches. Finish: medium-length with a lingering sweetness and pepper bite. The smoke is much richer here and really hangs around. Overall: this is a drinker’s whisky. The smoke is everywhere except on the nose. It’s deep and rich with a nice hit of power for a two decade old malt. 4.25 stars. HP 21 40% ——————- Appearance: it’s dark gold (evidence of added color, I think). Watery with fat legs and tons of medium-sized drops chase the legs down into the bottom of the glass. Nose: the smoke is really muted here, obviously so is the heat- it’s borderline weak. Orchard fruits on the nose, whereas the 47.5% version was almost completely tropical. Caramel and toffee make this seem more like a dessert than a whisky. Palate: sherry and more sherry appear from the jump, there’s a rich, chocolate smoke that permeates the entire sip (which is a plus over the higher proof stuff), this one is smoother and creamier, too. There’s zero heat and nothing lingering after you consume the liquid. Finish: short, almost non-existent. Which is where this dram suffers. A quick flash of sherry and smoke and then it’s gone. There’s no heat, no cask notes and nothing left behind. It’s a bit sad IMO. Overall: the palate delivers more complexity over the higher ABV, but the finish is ruined by all the added water to blend it down in strength. It’s not a bad whisky- in fact, it’s also quite good. 3.75-4 stars. Final thoughts: both of these whiskies are a beautiful example of well-aged, Highland Park. They both lack the uber complexity of the 18 year old and the sophistication of the 25, but they still showcase HP’s excellent malt and sherry cask maturation. I had to pay over $250 for both bottles at auction over the last year or so, so don’t expect a deal on either bottle- they’ve long disappeared from shelves and command a hefty price tag. If you’d like to acquire a bottle, I’d say watch the Scottish auction houses and bid on them when there’s an auction with multiple bottles up for grabs. I have seen a few go for $180-200 when there’s a lull in the bidding wars. Pay close attention to the ABV indication and go harder for the 47.5% version. That way you can blend it down if need be. That said, please check out my video uncorking and mini-review on YouTube: Dapper Drams. Maybe tell a friend and like or subscribe. Cheers and thanks for reading this long-winded, dual review.
    250.0 USD per Bottle
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