Macallan Double Cask 12 Year
Single Malt — Highland, ScotlandTasted March 27, 2022The journey of this Scotch begins with fruity and sweet, custard-style aromas. The palate is smooth, warm that begins with vanilla and citrus followed by spices and salt. Cherries are a common theme that re-emerge in the finish alongside an aftertaste of a spiced loaf. There may be some smoke that lingers in the back of your mouth, but it's very subtle and not comparable to any Islay whiskies. I am aware that there's an ongoing debate on personal preferences, subjectivity, and where one stands with the likes of Macallan. I'll admit that even I am rather skeptical when I stare at their tapered bottles and flashy labels, but I did my best to remain open-minded on this review. Overall, this 12 Year Old Double Cask is an easy sipper. There is no burning sensation - likely because we get the 40% ABV bottles here in Canada. If it was taken up a few percentages, I think the flavours would be more pronounced and my rating for this whisky might be a little higher. From a price point though, unless you enjoy splurging on the brand, I think there are better Scotch options out there. NOSE: Cherry, plum, vanilla, butterscotch, toffee PALATE: Vanilla, citrus, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg FINISH: Cherries, spiced loaf, light smoke, vanilla Rating: 82/100 Grade: B- Not-too-bad – no major flaws, worth tasting.
Blended — JapanTasted March 25, 2022The Suntory Toki is a whisky I appreciate for its gentle yet complex nature at a rather reasonable price point. From a very renowned distiller of Japanese whisky, the Toki offers a balance of sweet, savoury, and umami flavours that bring me back to my childhood where I was brought up on Asian-influenced desserts and teas (if you know, you know, right?). Ever walk down an International food aisle in your local supermarket, approach the drink section and asked yourself, "I wonder how this drink tastes"? Well, without having to buy yourself a 6-pack, this whisky has you covered. This easy-drinker requires some time to air itself out, but you won't be disappointed with the layers of fruit, honeyed-sweetness, mild spice, and tea leaves it reveals. I wouldn't compare it to a Hibiki 12-Year or the Japanese Harmony, but if you had it next to a whisky like the Akashi White Oak, the results are like night and day. When you want to just sit back, relax, and have something neat and easy, I would recommend the Suntory Toki. NOSE: Plum, dates, tapioca, sea salt PALATE: Honey, chrysanthemum, cereal grain, light smoke FINISH: Green tea, nutmeg, sea salt, seaweed, umami, honey Rating: 84/100 Grade: B Good – not a “must”, but a nice-to-have.
Fuyu Small Batch Blended Japanese Whisky
Blended — JapanTasted January 5, 2022There's an ongoing debate as to whether or not Fuyu is an "authentic" or "real" Japanese whisky. Frankly, it matters not to me as long as it's drinkable. I did a blind taste with several other Japanese whiskies and the Fuyu stood out on both the nose and palate as it exhibited a salty, soy, and smoky profile which isn't common with the Japanese whiskies I've come across. What I am used to experiencing is a whisky that's sweeter, fruitier, and paired with a layer of rice and other grains - something I didn't get with Fuyu. Whether or not this is a good thing is purely subjective. Personally, I found this whisky to be an easy drinker with not a whole lot to offer. It was enjoyable in the sense that there was no burn, but unlike other higher rated spirits, Fuyu didn't have a lot going on its profile. NOSE: Malted barley, cereal grains, salt, light soy sauce PALATE: Salt, smoke, nori, brown sugar FINISH: Rice, salt, digestif biscuits Rating: 76/100 Grade: C Below average – drinkable, but better as a mixer / party booze.
Tomatin 1988 Limited Release Scotch Whisky
Single Malt — Highland, ScotlandTasted January 4, 2022I must say, it was a real treat to be able to try a couple drams of this Limited Release Tomatin. It was arguably the rarest whisky I've ever tasted to-date! Also important to note that this particular bottle was from Batch 2 of this 1988 Limited Release series and just 1 of 2,500 bottles roaming about in the world. The label listed the age as being "matured for over twenty five years", but I did the math and it came out to be a 26-year old single malt. I'll admit, prior to tasting this whisky, I hadn't known much about Tomatin other than it being a distillery located in the village of Tomatin somewhere within the Highland region. If you're a fan of the Outlander TV/book series, these folks are located about 25 minutes south of the town of Inverness (to give you perspective). I would recommend the series if you're into history, romance, and suspense. Moving on, this whisky was quite an enjoyable treat! If you fancy something like an Oban Little Bay or a Bruichladdich Bere Barley, the Tomatin 1988 might be right up your alley. On the nose there are just layers-upon-layers of fruit, cereal grains, and sweetness which continue to evolve over time the longer you allow your pour to breathe. On the palate, the sweetness continues to carry-through adding a hint of salt and mild spices. The smooth, lengthy finish was also quite memorable - sweet, fruity (think apricot and other orchard fruits), barley, hint of salt, followed by a bit of lingering smoke. There's clearly a lot of depth with this single malt. I drank it neat, but I don't doubt that had I added a drop or two of water, the flavour profiles would have evolved even more. Dinna fash, Tomatin. You've done well! NOSE: Porridge, oranges, marmalade, cantaloupe, honey, caramel, vanilla, molasses PALATE: Honey, coconut, mint, salt, mild spices FINISH: Apricot, confectioners' sugar, cereal grains, lingering salt, mild smoke Rating: 87/100 Grade: B+ Great - always want to have a bottle.
Glenmorangie The Original 10 Year
Single Malt — Highlands, ScotlandTasted December 26, 2021From the royal burgh of Tain located in the Scottish Highlands comes the distillery of Glenmorangie, founded in 1843. One interesting bit of trivia is that this distillery has the tallest stills in Scotland! Pretty neat, eh? I digress. The Original 10 Year Old is a very shy single malt with subtle fruity notes on the nose that require a bit of time to emerge. At 40% ABV, I was expecting a smooth experience but there was a slight burn on my tongue which then dissipated into sweet custard followed by a lingering dark chocolate note. The finish was between short to medium featuring a sweet and savoury dessert combination of salted caramel, dark chocolate, and the biggest surprise of all: popcorn (I kid you not!). All things considered, it's a decent entry-level single malt that's easy to sip. I would recommend it to anyone who's starting to get into the art of whisky tasting as this 10 Year Old offers the complexities one would find in an older whisky with a higher ABV, but at a fraction of the cost. NOSE: Grapes, raisins, molasses, honey, ambrosia apples PALATE: Tapioca, egg custard, birch, nutmeg, cinnamon, dark chocolate FINISH: Sea salt, salted caramel, malted barley, dark chocolate, popcorn Rating: 83/100 Grade: B Good – not a “must”, but a nice-to-have.
Oban 14 Year
Peated Single Malt — Highlands, ScotlandTasted December 7, 2021Going into this dram, I knew it would be difficult for the Oban to top the sheer excellence and deliciousness of the Little Bay - even when comparing a NAS to a 14 year old. At 43%, the Oban 14 Year was a very pleasant and smooth whisky. There was no burn, nor was there a bite making it a very easy-drinking Scotch. The nose was delight - comparable to walking into the kitchen of an old bakery on Sunday morning. There were notes of barley, cereal grains, and a hint of cooked fruit in the form of poached pears. On the palate, you're hit with immediate sweetness by the likes of caramel and simple syrup that later dissolve into light smokiness and sea salt. The finish, albeit short, leaves you with a subtle taste of baking spices, predominantly nutmeg. Overall, it's a pleasant single malt that makes for easy drinking following a protein-heavy meal. That being said, I felt the flavour profiles under-delivered considering the age of the whisky. It was not as complex as I had anticipated and despite airing out the whisky a little longer, the changes were very discreet (if any). Circling back to which Oban I prefer, I'm going to hang on to my Little Bay a little closer knowing how much of a gem it is. NOSE: Toasted barley, oatmeal, cereal grains, poached pears, leather PALATE: Caramel, simple syrup, light smoke, sea salt, rice FINISH: Lingering smoke, sea salt, malted barley, nutmeg Rating: 82/100 Grade: B- Not-too-bad – no major flaws, worth tasting.
Shinobu 15 Year Pure Malt Mizunara Japanese Oak Finish
Blended Malt — Multiple CountriesTasted September 3, 2021Meaning "forbearance" in Japanese, Shinobu is said to symbolize the spirit of a samurai hence the elaborate and intricate designs on each of their whisky labels. Located in the Nigata prefecture of Japan and surrounded by a picturesque environment with a pure water source, locals continuously praise their three white treasures: snow, rice, and sake. Using Mizunara oak, which is native to Japan, Shinobu distillery has transformed and blended this 15 year whisky into a dram that I would attest is worth tasting. Unlike the previous Nikkas and Hibikis I've enjoyed, this Shinobu 15 YO blend is much milder and mutes the heavy fruit notes that I am accustomed to tasting. Rather, it is the cereal grains, nuts, and oak that emerge and appear in the spotlight thanks to the Mizunara influence. At 43%, nosing this whisky was a surprise change and pleasure. On the palate, the notes evolve into citrus and spice, but soon mellow out into a medium finish of tapioca, rice, brown sugar, with a hint of sea salt. Overall, not a bad whisky! I found it interesting how I was able to identify the rice note - also prominently used in sake - which checks off two of three of the aforementioned Nigata's 'white treasures'. NOSE: Plums, raisins, dates, tapioca, oak, nuts, cereal grains, cherries PALATE: Oranges, spices, cinnamon, ginger root, cherries, brown sugar FINISH: Sea salt, oak, tapioca, spices, pepper, rice, brown sugar Rating: 83/100 Grade: B Good – not a “must”, but a nice-to-have.
Old Pulteney 12 Year
Single Malt — Highlands, ScotlandTasted July 6, 2021Old Pulteney, founded in 1826 - such heritage, much maritime history, with "the taste of the sea in every drop of its liquid gold". No, I'm not quoting Talisker, but I can definitely draw some parallels between the two distilleries and their marketing verbage! Where do I even begin with this 12 Year? The bottle was inspired by the shape of their pot stills which help make the Scotch more fragrant. I can attest to this because, on the nose, I was able to pick up a multitude of aromas - a bit of light smoke/peat here and there, salty shores, some cereal grains, and a touch of sweetness. I was hoping this would translate to the palate and finish, but unfortunately the wind wasn't in its favour. If you set the anchor down on this whisky and gave it a bit of time, you may come across a blend of sea salt, subtle orchard fruits, and baking spices. The finish has similar characteristics - perhaps a little more on the savoury side, but like the setting sun on a horizon, it diminishes quickly. Overall, I wasn't impressed or disappointed with the Old Pulteney 12 Year. It was very easy to drink with zero burn, had moments of flavourful glory, but the finish was very short-lived. I can boast about how aromatic it was, but that was more or less it. Bottled at 40% ABV, it reminded me of a young whisky and simply wasn't potent enough to create a long-lasting impact. If you are hunting for a easy-drinker or beginner's Scotch, this makes a worthy candidate. For a similar age statement but with more flavour and depth, I would look towards something like a Glen Garioch 12 Year. NOSE: Light peat, sea salt, malted barley, cereal grains, poached pears, caramel PALATE: Apples, pears, cinnamon, baking spice, dried cherries, sea salt FINISH: Salt, seaweed, malted barley, light peat, cinnamon Rating: 81/100 Grade: B- Not-too-bad - no major flaws, worth tasting.
Auchentoshan American Oak
Single Malt — Lowlands, ScotlandTasted June 20, 2021I'm a fan of Lowland distilleries primarily because there are so few of them around. I'll admit, my experience with this region is rather limited and I use the Bladnoch 10 (which has set the bar very high and is among my go-to Scotches) as my reference point. So, when I was tempted with an opportunity to have a couple drams of the Auchentoshan American Oak, I figured, why the heck not? Immediately on the nose you get the Lowland characteristics of that subtle fruity-custard aroma. I was expecting a bit of butter, but citrus notes such as lemon and orange are more prevalent - not harsh by any means, but welcoming. On the palate, you'll immediately taste more of the citrus notes followed by some barley, potentially some woodiness, but then rounded out by light baking spices. The finish was a little disappointing due to its shortness, but I appreciate the coconut and sweetness that comes with it. Taking everything into account, it's a pretty average Scotch. This non-age stated whisky is bottled at 40% ABV. The individual notes don't really stand out, so you have to really work it to identify them. It definitely makes for very easy drinking and I've no complaints on the fact that it goes down smoothly, but the notes lack teeth. It's a great entry level Lowland whisky, but if you are more experienced in the world of spirits and have a developed palate, I recommend looking at Auchentoshan's other offerings - possibly the 18 or 21 year old. P.S. Happy Father's Day to all your whisky-loving pops out there! #DAD NOSE: Orange, lemon zest, vanilla bean, egg custard, coconut, light toffee PALATE: Orange peel, orchard fruits, peach, barley, light spice FINISH: Citrus, malt, coconut, light toffee Rating: 80/100 Grade: B- Not-too-bad - no major flaws, worth tasting.
Lot No. 40 Canadian Rye
Canadian — CanadaTasted May 16, 2021Let's take a whisky journey North to the land of the rye where we have this delicious Hiram Walker & Sons 100% rye whisky that's been copper pot-distilled and aged in new oak casks. I'm just going to come out and say that, for a two-time Canadian Whisky of the Year award winner, this offers amazing value for what it brings to the table. Like a rich, complex bottle of Scotch, there is a lot going on from the nose to the finish that will leave you second-guessing yourself and asking, "Wait a minute. Did I actually taste that?" On the nose, you get a mingling of corn and rye with some baked pastries filled with almonds, marzipan, and summer fruits. If you closed your eyes and took a whiff, you would think you've walked into a Parisian pâtisserie! The palate quickly changes your perspective though. You're hit with spices followed by lime and lingering smoke in the background; but the moment passes swiftly as the fruity notes make an encore appearance - this time around, it's a blend of berries and grapes which then diminish into some sweet vanilla, syrups, and grain. The cool thing about this whisky is that it was produced in Ontario with 100% rye, yet the flavours and aromas remind of a decent Kentucky bourbon - think Buffalo Trace or 1792. If you fancy something new and intriguing, grab a bottle of this Lot 40 and it won't disappoint. Even if you're like myself who doesn't drink a whole lot of rye, you will find this whisky very palatable. Enjoy neat or on the rocks, it will be smooth regardless. P.S. Happy World Whisky Day! I know I'm a day late to review this thing, but I was too busy enjoying it. #WWD NOSE: Corn, confectioners' sugar, egg tart, egg custard, almonds, marzipan, apricot, peach jam, rye grain, light oak PALATE: Spices, cinnamon, ginger root, lime, light smoke FINISH: Cranberries, raspberries, grape juice, lime, vanilla, cough syrup, rye Rating: 85/100 Grade: B Good – not a “must”, but a nice-to-have.37.99 CAD per Bottle