Tastes

redlipwhiskydiary

All reviews are mine: unfiltered and cask strength 💋 I'm a booze nerd and spirit fan touring the world one dram at a time. 🥃 Full reviews, videos and photos on Instagram.

Filter
Sort
  1. Tomintoul 10 Year

    Single Malt — Speyside, Scotland

    Tasted April 14, 2021
    3.25
    3.25 out of 5 stars
    Have you had that feeling when you return to your corporate job after time off and see a triple digit amount of emails in your inbox? While an abrupt return to reality can cause heart palpitations, as silly as it sounds, Tomintoul 10 reminds me to be gentle with myself (...marketed as "the gentle dram" afterall). Who would have thought that whisky would invoke such sound philosophy?  The nose shares orange blossoms, oak and steeped chamomile tea with a drizzle of honey. Delicate, aged dry wood shavings and toffee chime in to add more rustic charm.  My sips of Tomintoul 10 are smooth and I taste soft honeyed apple sweetness that compliments the nose. Sadly, it's fleeting. A brief wave of dried barley and lemon zest makes way to a slightly drying, moderate finish. What lingers is a primarily tannic flavour. While I would smell that nose all day, the flavour journey is too quick for me. In my head I shouted "wait, I'm just getting started!" as I flailed my metaphorical arms. Some days do call for a mild pour, but I prefer Tomintoul's expressions with a few more years on them.  6.5/10
  2. El Jimador Reposado Tequila

    Tequila Reposado — Tequila Valley, Jalisco, Mexico

    Tasted April 10, 2021
    3.5
    3.5 out of 5 stars
    What's your vacation drink of choice? I've been enjoying a few days off of the corporate hustle and while I can't travel to a beach right now, I'll soak in the sun, close my eyes and sip tequila. I had not seen this bottle of El Jimador Reposado in a while since I tend to keep taller bottles to the back of my bar for aesthetics. The Jimadores (harvesters) cut each agave heart (piña) by hand with a sharp tool (coa). The agave hearts are then roasted in a clay oven before fermentation and double distillation. The spirit is then rested in oak bourbon barrels for two months prior to bottling. El Jimador Reposado's nose offers agave, a bit of tangy lime and a savory quality like fresh butter. Later on, I can pick out soft floral notes like lilac, cedar and more fresh citrus. This is a mild tequila. It begins with brief vanilla sweetness that pivots. You still sense the familiar ramp up to bite that tends to induce wincing facial expressions, but it feels more like going over a speed bump than a cliff. I can taste wisps of menthol threaded through cooked agave, spices and oak. The finish is long but pleasant: Herbal and sweet. It doesn't offer some of the substance and personality that other tequilas might offer but at the low price point, this would fit nicely in mixed drinks (or be a less abrasive option to sip straight at 40% ABV).  6.75/10
  3. Hampden Kill Devil 10 Year Exclusive

    Gold Rum — Carribean, Jamaica

    Tasted April 5, 2021
    3.25
    3.25 out of 5 stars
    I feel like there's irony in reviewing something entitled "Kill Devil" on Easter weekend. Historically, "kill-devil" was a colloquial reference to rum liquor as far back as the 1650s. Using rum from Hampden Distillery in Jamaica, this single cask 10 year Kill Devil exclusive is a collaboration between Hunter Laing’s Kill Devil Rum Range and The Whisky Barrel. Distilled in 2007, this Pot Still single cask yielded 270 bottles at 62.5% ABV.  Initially, I smell overripe papaya alongside rubber and solvent. With time, brown sugar comes out, which grounds the nose to lean more sweet. This is a very powerful pour that takes me on a flavour ride of contrasts: A sour, salty start leads to brief flashes of peated scotch smoke amidst some sweet and spicy tones like hot cross buns. My tongue salivates at the end but yet it's drying. The aftertaste reminds me of the black rubber ground of a playground baking in the sun. Or paint thinner. While this rum scores points for originality and flair, it's not to my personal taste to be had neat. I feel some flavour whiplash, though after letting it breathe and some water drop experimentation, I bumped up my score through the session. I appreciate its smoky moment that I'll interpret as a wink to its Scottish influence.  6.75/10
  4. Larceny Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon

    Bourbon — Kentucky, USA

    Tasted April 5, 2021
    3.5
    3.5 out of 5 stars
    Are all wheaters winners? I've heard that Larceny's star is on the rise in the bourbon world. To my surprise, I spotted a lone bottle of Larceny Small Batch Kentucky Bourbon on the liquor store shelf in Canada (where it has become notoriously challenging to source bourbons from recently). I celebrate the small wins when I can while the US border is closed! The nose is fairly light with wheat, wood shavings and caramel candy. Later, oak and vanilla ease in.  Larceny Small Batch has a hot first sip (though it's only 92 proof) and has a thin, oily mouthfeel. A brief blast of spice and pepper leaves as quickly as it arrives. There's distant orange zest and torched crème brûlée sweetness in the background as the spice wave subsides. This bourbon has a relatively short, mild and dry finish with subtle burnt sugar like the baked tops of muffins exiting the oven. Larceny Small Batch seems like a fair, everyday bourbon with some pep in its step. It could be placebo, but I swear that this bottle improved after being opened 4 months ago. If the price is reasonable, I'd be perfectly happy to snag and sip over ice.  7.25/10
  5. Glenmorangie The Cadboll Estate 15 Year

    Single Malt — Highlands, Scotland

    Tasted April 2, 2021
    4.0
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    How have you made home more cozy this year? In the spirit of staying close to home, Glenmorangie's The Cadboll Estate 15 Year is crafted with barley from 440 glorious acres by the distillery itself. Glenmorangie’s Head of Whisky Creation, Dr. Bill Lumsden selected the particular kind of barley and processing for this inaugural single estate whisky; maturation exclusively in first-fill American oak ex-bourbon barrels. The nose smells like barley and sunshine. I can imagine myself going for a stroll through Cadboll Estate with its smell of straw, light citrus and hint of molasses. The aroma settles more deeply with aged wood shavings and chamomile flowers. The Cadboll Estate 15 has a bright 'n' light grain and citrus palate with a smattering of pepper. This initial tanginess quickly transitions to a rich, moderate length apple, oak and savory shortbread finish. This easy drinking pale yellow pour would be gentle for wince-worthy palates. While it could risk being considered bland to folks who prefer stronger profiles, I'll happily bask in its sunshine. 7.75/10
  6. Top Shelf Vodka

    Unflavored Vodka — Perth, Ontario, Canada

    Tasted March 27, 2021
    4.0
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    What's an excellent value staple bottle on your bar? While my heart belongs to whiskies, I believe in cross category appreciation (and a fully stocked bar). I stumbled upon Top Shelf Vodka a few years ago and was intrigued. It's a locally produced craft spirit in a sleek, rectangular bottle that shines amongst similarly priced mass produced options. Top Shelf Vodka has a very subtle aroma. There's a refreshing quality like how enjoyable the air smells when you're near a body of water. Think ocean spray (...or lake spray for the rest of us).  Its soft flavour carries light sweetness that turns savory-tangy. Images of sweet corn drizzled in cotija cheese appear for me. This easily fades through a gentle lip and tongue tingling sensation. Top Shelf Vodka is a very smooth, well bodied vodka that plays nicely in mixed drinks. There is no discernable aftertaste (nor regret) here, which is why you're likely to see a bottle of this on my shelf.  8/10
  7. Amaro Montenegro

    Amaro — Emilia-Romagna, Italy

    Tasted March 19, 2021
    4.0
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    What conventionally bitter things do you enjoy? I'm a dark chocolate fiend with an affinity for excellent espresso. Amaro translates to "bitter" in Italian. Amaro Montenegro is the result of the boiling, maceration and distillation of 40 botanicals of various herbs, spices, roots, fruits and seeds. These unique extracts are further blended with alcohol, sugar and water along with a micro distillation called premio. Appropriately, Amaro Montenegro's bottle is crafted to resemble an alchemist's potion vial.  The nose is sweet, earthy and medicinal with dark honey, anise and orange rind. A black tea and eucalyptus baseline complete with lemon wheel comes through after it sits.  Amaro Montenegro enters the mouth in a coating, even-keel way. Its flavour begins with a balanced nose-like profile with added nutmeg and clove. It swiftly spins around with "a reveal and a wink" of slight licorice bitterness. It's enough to intrigue you, but not too much that you pull back. The herbal bitterness stays on your tongue for a while and it's complemented by the residual sweetness on your lips where your sip began. This tastes like a liqueur that should have some health benefits for me. At the very least, I'm happy to tell myself just that. I admire that Amaro Montenegro claims a consistent process of production since 1885. Its mellow, bitter and sweet flavour profile is something I would happily enjoy as a digestif after a meal. 8/10
  8. Writers' Tears Copper Pot

    Blended — Ireland

    Tasted March 16, 2021
    3.75
    3.75 out of 5 stars
    What's the last book you read or one that inspired you? Influenced by 19th and 20th century novelists, playwrights and poets, Writers Tears seeks to pay homage to the golden era of Irish literature and whiskey. The Copper Pot edition pairs aged single pot still and single malt Irish whiskey in charred American oak bourbon casks. I can smell light honey, bergamot orange and magnolia flowers. As it settles, there's a moist caramelized baked good scent like the decadent orange honey cake that my mom makes for holidays. It's nostalgic, comforting and mouth watering. Writer's Tears Copper Pot is a pleasant whiskey. There's a hint of heat at the tip of my tongue with familiar citrus and honey sweetness. This is paired with malted barley and a tannic taste that moves to a medium finish of mild pepper and gently bitter, charred oak. For the fairly light palate, it's still smooth with moderate richness and body.  I would love to taste additional layers of flavour for more substance with a longer finish. If this light gold drop was truly a piece of cake, I'd likely need a couple of slices to satiate my craving. This is still a wholesome and welcoming whisky: both in palate and price. 7.5/10
  9. Ardbeg Uigeadail

    Peated Single Malt — Islay, Scotland

    Tasted March 5, 2021
    4.5
    4.5 out of 5 stars
    Ardbeg Uigeadail, pronounced “Oog-a-dal” is named after the loch that brings in the distillery's water supply. This pale yellow, oily offering is the blended result of both ex bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks.  The nose is a bit smoky but in a savory, fatty way reminiscent of smoked meat. There's a touch of fruit at the end of my inhale like a fruity glaze on a smoked ham (...or faux-ham if you prefer). After ~10 minutes, sweet takes a front seat with caramelized sugar contrast with a sprinkle of coffee and a dash of salt. Sips bring a momentary sherried fruit sweetness with a burst of spice on my tongue and throat. This makes way to a cozy savory blanket of gentle, rich charcoal smoke and barley. Its lengthy finish leaves its mark on my awoken lips while warming my chest. There's a pleasant peatiness that stays with you; not in an oppressive clingy way, but more like the comfort of a close friend. Much like how you can be fully expressed with those that you're closest with, the more I "listen" to Ardbeg Uigeadail, the more I take in their weaving notes of tobacco, espresso, vanilla, barbeque, raisin and seaside salinity well after tasting. This is the kind of dram that would give me a comforting hug on a rainy day. I could happily sip this and listen to the gentle pitter patter of droplets as its own meditation. I appreciate the sweet-meets-smokiness that this provides in that it doesn't hit you over the head with ash. It's also remarkably smooth for its cask strength self of 54.2% ABV. It feels well balanced and refined that could appease peat fans while encouraging wary sippers out of their comfort zones. While it might be something in the water (or Uigeadail), I'm a fan. Have you had an opportunity to try Ardbeg's Uigeadail? What did you think? 9/10
  10. Shinju Japanese Whisky

    Blended — Yamanashi Perfecture, Japan

    Tasted March 5, 2021
    3.25
    3.25 out of 5 stars
    When was the last time an elegant bottle caught your eye? I had to do a double take when I saw Shinju's attractive cylindrical bottle with auburn liquid on the shelf. Shinju (真珠) means pearl in Japanese. According to its label, "ancient Japanese believed pearls were created from the tears of Angels, born of the water." When I read further that this was crafted with water from Mt. Fuji, my curiosity was piqued! Shinju is a blend of four whiskies that have each been aged in new and mature American white oak barrels.  Shinju's nose has a very light ethanol, honey and citrus scent. Interestingly, this didn't change or deepen significantly over time with the exception of added subtle floral notes. Aside from a momentary fermented sweetness, the flavour profile nearly verges on sour and tangy with barley grain. The finish is rather quick and ghostly, with some oak and a mouth-belly tingle.  I didn't know what to expect but I had high hopes for Shinju. While this is a very light-feeling and smooth pour, it lacks the substance and complexity despite its youthful age. I'd likely look to use this in more-delicate whisky cocktails that won't completely overshadow it. I'm certainly no Angel, but I shed a few "pearls" from it missing my expectations. 6.75/10
Results 1-10 of 84 Tastes