Cameronbridge 'Harmony' 28 Year Old 1991 - Old Particular Spiritualist Series (Douglas Laing)
Single Grain — Lowland, ScotlandReviewed December 23, 2020Note - This was SUPPOSED to be a blind tasting in line with the others from this year's TRGWC, but in a small incident I saw the label and know what this is. Oh well - onward! Nose: Maple and baking spices. Warm, rich oak, though not super in your face. Prunes, dates, figs, raisins. Metallic vanilla. Ethanol is present but not overpowering. Candied lemon peels. If I didn't know what this was, I'd think it's some kind of weird Canadian or American experiment. The nose doesn't have much going on - relatively straightforward. Palate: This has gotta be sherry cask - I can't find confirmation for this particular release, but there's a musty, slightly sulphurous character poking out here. Banana chips, vanilla ice cream with a dusting of cocoa powder (I've actually done this - surprisingly good). All those dark fruits come through to the palate. The cask is far, far more prominent on the palate. This has just enough depth and density to be interesting without being necessarily "challenging". Medium-heavy mouthfeel, with plenty of oils. Finish: A swell of red fruits, oak, and pencil eraser after realizing that entire last paragraph on the essay portion of your test was wrong. Black pepper and baking spices. Slowly ride out on metallic vanilla. Long finish. Other notes: As bummed as I am that I accidentally saw the label and ruined the blind experience, I can say with total certaintly that I would've gotten nothing right about it. 28 year old single grain - that's impressive. I'm really curious to know what grain they used, what ABV they distilled it to, and what they cask entry proof was to get an idea of just how much of this is the grain and how much is the cask. An interesting, unique experience - one that a glass of would be well worth it. A full bottle of this might be a bit much, though if you're into blending at home I could see this bringing a fun hue to play with. Cheers
Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie Scottish Barley
Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandReviewed December 22, 2020 (edited January 15, 2021)Nose: Dark fruits. For being unpeated, there's a rich, earthy quality that almost comes across as peat. Just a touch of sea spray and lemon. Grilled peaches with chevre and a drizzle of honey. Pie crust with butter. Slight herbal character floating on top, with mint being the most obvious. Very "soft" and "round" character, with some excellent sweet barley holding everything together. Smells almost like the end of a bowl of honey nut cheerios, with that distinct combo of honey, cereal, and milk. Graham crackers and chocolate. Vanilla. Just the slightest pencil eraser note - you really have to draw a big whiff to get it. Palate: That richness carries through to the palate. Just the slightest new make funk, but it's not taking away from anything. Vanilla, berries, grains. Sweet and, again, that lightly minty herbal character weaving through. Cream. Pears. Apricots. Just a touch of black pepper, nutmeg, clove. Cocoa. For being so young and a decent proof, this is incredibly friendly and approachable. I'm actually not missing the cask influence like I normally would. Again, soft and round, with nothing sticking out. This hits the whole palate pretty evenly with striking balance and integration. Medium mouthfeel. Finish: Citrus, vanilla, and peach. A small rush of ethanol, but nothing intense. Black pepper, wintergreen, and cider spices in some boiling water. A clean mineral water experience follows and allows everything to drift off. Medium long length. Other notes: I really want to run the side-by-side with some Octomore 11.1 - I think I'm picking up some of the same shared barley charcter in both, and it's really appealing. Though this isn't necessarily in my preferred bold profile, this is a damn good whisky. Like everything else Bruichladdich does, each batch is different, keeping this interesting and fun over time. While not something I'll feel compelled to always have on hand, this is absolutely something I'll feel compelled to get when each batch releases. Highly recommended.
'As We Get It' Cask Strength Islay Single Malt (Ian MacLeod)
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandReviewed December 22, 2020 (edited March 11, 2021)Note - I'm doing the Really Good Whisky Company Advent Calendar. I've also decided to pour these whiskeys "blind" (or at least as blind as I can), then providing nose, palate, and finish notes. I'll then look at the label, proof, cask type, etc. before writing my other notes. I'll be providing some guesses around things like proof and cask type and then seeing how much I missed the mark. Slàinte Mhath! Nose: Peat? Musty funk? Guessing a younger spirit, like 3-7 years. Single malt? I'm not mad at this nose. Unique but in the realm of an Islay or Island. Just a touch of brine and lemon. Some toasted grain and vanilla. Berries and chocolate. Bright, floral perfume. Almost getting into potpurri territory. If this is as young as I think it is, the cask type is going to be hard to tease out, but I'm thinking this is ex-bourbon. There may be some kind of sherry or red wine, but likely not first fill since the impact seems quite low. Neighborhood of 45% abv? Grassy, slight wet cardboard. Palate: This dances - bits of earth, ash, and vanilla swirling around. Milk chocolate and orange oil, too. Is this higher proof than I'm expecting? Closer to 60%? Pine sap, brine - this is like standing at a coast that's next to a forest in the middle of fall, a camp fire burning nearby. Bright and shiny, this is off balance. Black pepper, grilled salmon with lemon and dill. Hits the mid palate with a good amount of force. Medium mouthfeel, but all that youth and ABV helps this "feel" lighter due to the effervescent quality. Finish: A puff of ash, ambient wet earth, and sea spray. There's a bracing, bitter lemon that grabs the sides of the tongue. Bitter chocolate, canned black olives. And we fade out between bitterness, ash, and ethanol. Long finish. Other notes: Got region, got close enough on abc (this bottling is 60.6%), got mash bill. Can assume cask is probably correct along with age, but I can't confirm either. My palate (and other reviews) all seem to confirm this is young spirit. Just like an earlier sample in this calendar, I wonder if this was a cask that was simply not headed in the right direction as it was aging. It's not that I don't find young Islay appealing (Wee Beastie being an excellent example), this just doesn't fall withint he parameters I tend to favor. That being said, this is an intense, funky adventure. A fun glass to explore with, though maybe not one I'd get a whole bottle of. Cheers!
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandReviewed December 21, 2020 (edited January 5, 2022)Nose: This does not present at all the way I would have expected - there's earth and smoke, sure. But due to the youth and resultant lower levels of brine, it's much more rich and herbal. I'm getting a distinct and soft mint and thyme. For being such high proof, this nose is very approachable - it's not taking your head off. Bready. Vanilla beans. Slightly floral and grassy, but with nothing harsh or "pokey". Pickled ginger. Very subtle honeyed grains and citrus peels. Very dense creamy - salted cultured butter comes to mind. Palate: The dense, rich, rounded earth and peat are here, and the source of that mint reveals itself in phenol - this even has a slightly mouth-numbing sensation that I would is a combo of the alcohol and phenol. Toasted, honeyed cereal grains. There's that ginger again, along with sweet orange peels, coffee, and chocolate are all on deck. Peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream and a sprig of mint. A little iodine and brine come through, though not dominating. Effervescent. Gros Michel bananas, strawberries. The balance here, for being so heavily peated, is phenomenal. The entire palate is coated in rich, oily character, with the space between the middle and back palate really light up. The alcohol provides all the "top-end", while the midrange is really what stands out here, and the foundation is all barley and peat. Meadium-heavy mouthfeel. Finish: Thick layer of ethanol, meyer lemons, earth, and smoke. Some mint ice cream. Fresh wheat bread and cream, buttered cornbread with honey - sweetend grain character with cream slowly fade in and out. Apricots and peaches also start popping in and out. Chocolate, leather, and espresso also swirl in, while the finish hangs out for a long time. Beautiful show. Other notes: I decided to pull the trigger on this bottle as my Christmas gift to myself. And I am thrilled that I did. The peat on this does not at all present the way I expected, and the youth is absolutely not a detriment to the end product. The density, richness, and depth are all excellent and deliver on exactly what the label promises: an intense experience. As I continue to let this open up in the glass, it continues to evolve and provide even more intensity, each sip building on the last, the oils adding another layer to the party. Is this for everybody? Absolutely not. But if you've got the cash and find yourself loving the more intense things Islay has to offer, I'd say go for it. This is good enough that it's tempting me to seek out others in the range, even from prior years. Or even just another bottle of this... Really fun bottle.
BenRiach Classic Cask Strength Batch 2
Single Malt — Speyside, ScotlandReviewed December 21, 2020 (edited October 23, 2021)Note - I'm doing the Really Good Whisky Company Advent Calendar. I've also decided to pour these whiskeys "blind" (or at least as blind as I can), then providing nose, palate, and finish notes. I'll then look at the label, proof, cask type, etc. before writing my other notes. I'll be providing some guesses around things like proof and cask type and then seeing how much I missed the mark. Slàinte Mhath! Nose: Hints of herbs, barrel char, and just a hint of malt must. Honey, dried hay. Plenty of oak weaved in here along with a good ethanol kick. Guessing this is 48%. The amount of oak here tells me there's new oak and/or smaller casks. Green apples but no banana - single malt? 10-15 years old? Underripe dark fruits. Chocolate covered blueberries. Sweet vanilla and citrus oils. Palate: Getting definite sherry here without being syrupy. A little maple shows up. Also some floral and herbal character woven through. Speyside maybe? Black pepper, balsamic vinegar, and sun-dried tomatoes. Chocolate covered raisins. Big and bold, this is pretty well balanced, hitting the back palate pretty heavily. Medium mouthfeel. Finish: Big swell of ethanol that's cooling as I exhale - did I underestimate the proof on this? Maybe we're closer to 55%? Chocolate covered raisins, mint, sweet basil. As those drift off, the oak shows up and the tannins really stand out. Leather and funky pipe tobacco hang around for a long time - definitely a long finish, with oil content to spare. It just keeps going, with hot cinnamon and nutmeg joining the party. This would be a trip in some 'nog. Other notes: Another one I'm proud of - picked up on the virgin oak and ex-sherry. Also got the region. While this is NAS, this was comprised of casks that were from 2006, 2007, and 2008 and then blended together in 2018, so I was close-ish with age. Proof, however... I'm reminded of my struggles with the early days of the advent, getting tripped up on high proof and high oak. Still got with 5%, so I'm not too mad about it. This isn't necessarily the most complex experience. And it's certainly isn't subtle. But what it does have is very well constructed - this is a good whisky, and if you're a proof hound like me I think you'd like what's going on here. As I'm typing these closing notes, the finish is still going from my last sip. A solid recommend from me, and another one to add to my list of "if I come across it, I'll definitely think about it" list. Cheers!
Glenallachie 10 year Cask Strength Batch 3
Single Malt — Speyside , ScotlandReviewed December 20, 2020 (edited November 18, 2021)Note - I'm doing the Really Good Whisky Company Advent Calendar. I've also decided to pour these whiskeys "blind" (or at least as blind as I can), then providing nose, palate, and finish notes. I'll then look at the label, proof, cask type, etc. before writing my other notes. I'll be providing some guesses around things like proof and cask type and then seeing how much I missed the mark. Slàinte Mhath! Nose: On first blush I'm getting super bourbon-y vibes here. Beautiful, strong swirls of classic brown sugar, vanilla, and charred oak. Cherries, too. This feels really familiar. Nutmeg, allspice, clove... all the baking spices you'd want. I want to say this isn't finished, but there's some depth here that I'm waiting until the palate and finish. Proof feels like it's going to be in the 120ish range. Lightly roasted nuts, espresso, and leather. Some subtle citrus notes keeps this from feeling too heavy and dense, though that oak backbone is there helping to prop everything else up. I want to say this is a bourbon but there's a musty character that's poking out - almost grassy. This has to involve virgin oak, but no clue on the rest. Palate: This confirms my suspicions: this is not a bourbon. The palate opens with classic toasted cereal grains, deep honey, and almost burnt caramel. Intensely herbal and grassy. Dark fruits, baking spices, black pepper, as well as a thread of tannic, charred oak. Those dark fruits, nuts, and intense oak characteristics are throwing me for a loop. Definitely virgin oak here, but is there some kind of sherry as well? The musty profile rides through to the palate, but it's not new-make fruity funk. In my experience, that means this is at least 10 years. No bananas or similar "light" fruits, and I'm not getting dusty corn... certainly no rye. Single malt? But from where?? Can't be Texas because the oak profile doesn't match, plus it couldn't nearly that old. This is either a weird Highland or Speyside or from somewhere in the US wtih a mild climate. Though very intense, this is very well balanced with all the depth and richness you could want. Medium light mouthfeel, but some moderate oils. Finish: Big splash of toasted grain, caramel, oak, citrus oils, and mint. Ethanol, too. As things slowly calm down, there's a definite warming sensation with nutmeg, cinnamon, and dark fruits. Fresh cracked black pepper. Bitter lemons creep in, while that oak and char is just clinging. Long length finish. Other notes: This was, admittedly, a weird adventure that I deeply enjoyed. This is a 10 year cask strength Speyside at 58.2% - I got the age and proof while I had the right "feel" for region. I got the style, which surprised me. Casks were a crap shoot - this is a combo of ex-bourbon, virgin oak, as well as PX and Oloroso sherry. I got way closer than I thought I would here! I want to be clear - based on nose alone, this gave me solid high proof bourbon vibes. I immediately sighed and thought this had to be a decently aged cask strength Kentucky bourbon. But as I lived with it, I realized that this really is highlighting just how remarkably impactful casks are on the overall experience. The nose and palate differ in some very interesting ways, and while it's not completely disjointed, it's a little unexpected. I found this extremely enjoyable and a nice change of pace. This being a limited release bums me out a little since I'd love to find a bottle and live with it for a while and do some blind comparisons with some other cask strength offerings. GlenAllechie is doing some really interesting stuff (they even have a Rye!) and this tasting only confirms taht I need to start getting my hands on other expressions. Very well done.
Kinahan's small batch
Blended Malt — IrelandReviewed December 19, 2020 (edited May 11, 2022)Note - I'm doing the Really Good Whisky Company Advent Calendar. I've also decided to pour these whiskeys "blind" (or at least as blind as I can), then providing nose, palate, and finish notes. I'll then look at the label, proof, cask type, etc. before writing my other notes. I'll be providing some guesses around things like proof and cask type and then seeing how much I missed the mark. Slàinte Mhath! Nose: Vanilla, green apple, brown sugar, and a light cinnamon all bouncing off each other. Guessing this isn't single malt - getting some grain whisky vibes here via ripe bananas. No weird new make funk, so this has some age. Maybe Irish? Guessing 43% for proof, as well as 100% ex-bourbon for casks. A very subtle thread of smoke from what I'd assume is barrel char is buried, almost reminds me of deeply roasted malts or burnt nuts. Shortbread and citrus icing. Palate: Nice. Vanilla, stewed apples, and slight orange blossoms. A little bit of tannin and oak comes in, but not intense, giving me some butterscotch and coffee threads. Bananas and whipped cream. I'm getting a sense that maybe the proof is higher, but every time I second guess myself while doing these blinds I wind up being wrong. This hits the palate relatively evenly front to back, and while this is nuanced, there's nothing "prickly" or "dense" about it. Medium mouthfeel. Finish: Honey, lemon, allspice. That oak comes in to play again, lending a bit of tannic bitterness that gives me that ground dark-roast coffee thing. Bananas and mint get revealed, and things fade out trading punches between the vanilla, honey, and fruit. Medium length. Other notes: Tonight's tally - got region, style, cask types, and that it was blended. No clue on age. Was off by 3% on proof. Booyah. I have a soft spot for Irish whiskey in my heart, especially these friendlier expressions that aren't tossing you around the room. It's so easy to drink that I often pass right over it when shopping for something new. But whenever I sit down to really dive in deep and appreciate one, I'm struck by how quality they are. They tend to exemplify that complexity and depth and richness and proof aren't necessarily the only markers of quality. Balance, nuance, subtlety, integration are things I'm valuing much more as of late. This is a great example of why - it's well executed, and represents the style quite well. Another bottle I'll have to try to pick up if I see one out on a shopping excursion. Well done. Cheers!
Tobermory 12 Year
Single Malt — Islands, ScotlandReviewed December 18, 2020 (edited July 15, 2021)Note - I'm doing the Really Good Whisky Company Advent Calendar. I've also decided to pour these whiskeys "blind" (or at least as blind as I can), then providing nose, palate, and finish notes. I'll then look at the label, proof, cask type, etc. before writing my other notes. I'll be providing some guesses around things like proof and cask type and then seeing how much I missed the mark. Slàinte Mhath! Nose: Squarely back in Scotland here. Honeyed toasted grains. Fresh green apples and pears. Vanilla, mint, basil, and citrus zest. Getting some solid oak character here - guessing around 15 years? Waffles with nutella, raspberries, and whipped cream. Roasted peanuts. Not terribly proofy, maybe at that classic 46% target? Highland? Maybe with some sherry cask in play? Palate: Opens up with slightly grassy, herbal characteristics. Very quickly joined by orange, vanilla, and cream. Some subtle toasted coconut also kicking around. Single malt? Barrel bite and char. Coffe and leather, along with a little toffe - Almond Roca comes to mind. Black pepper and hot cinnamon. This hits the entire palate pretty evenly, though the "midrange" pokes out a bit. Mouthfeel is squarely medium, with good oil and tannin. Finish: Dark fruits, sweet cream, vanilla. Then mint comes forward, along with some bitter chocolate. Tails off with this swirl of oak, fruit, and vanilla. Medium long length. Other notes: Another fun reveal! It's 12 years - I guessed 15. Proof is 46.3% - I guessed 46%. It's also aged first in ex-bourbon, then in virgin American oak, explaining why I was getting such strong cask influence - also why I was parsing this as having some sherry cask going on. Single malt. From the Isle of Mull, so I got that wrong as well. I've been really pleasantly surprised by what happens when you dial up the oak character on Scotch - the depth it adds is a lot of fun and helps bridge the flavor profile into something a little closer to what I'm familiar with. Well executed, lots of fun. I could definitely recommend at least a glass of this. Cheers!
Starward Solera Single Malt
Single Malt — Victoria, AustraliaReviewed December 17, 2020 (edited August 22, 2021)Note - I'm doing the Really Good Whisky Company Advent Calendar. I've also decided to pour these whiskeys "blind" (or at least as blind as I can), then providing nose, palate, and finish notes. I'll then look at the label, proof, cask type, etc. before writing my other notes. I'll be providing some guesses around things like proof and cask type and then seeing how much I missed the mark. Slàinte Mhath! Nose: This is jumping out of the glass at me. Vanilla, banana, brown sugar. Solid oak presentation. Some buried vegetal, herbal character. Also getting some stewed fruits with spices. Some s'mores character is showing up as this sits - especially the graham cracker. I feel like this is a combination of aged and young spirit - the oak character is also throwing me here. Almost like a weird blend of cask types? For as "loudly" as this presents, it's pretty friendly. No clue on age statement - going to randomly guess it's NAS since why not. Also no clue on region. Going to either be all malt or malt and grain. Palate: A pleasant combo of bananas, vanilla, just the slightest orange blossom, and white sugar. Mint chocolate. The texture and sensations here are more consistent with oak than proof, so I'll hazard we're sub -45%. Cinnamon graham crackers - almost a touch of doughy character. Bubblegum. Well integrated. Focused towards the back of the palate. Medium light mouthfeel. Finish: Mint, banana, and oak pop. Tannins wash over and this oak foundation appears. Orange, apple juice, cream, and slight floral/herbal character. A little bitterness helps balance things out, along with some tannin texture. Red hots show up, then as things drop off it trades punches with the vanilla, tannin, and banana. Medium length. Other notes: Surprised myself with this one! I love the idea of solera casks, and this reinforces why. I got proof, got close with mash, couldn't get region, and age doesn't count. This uses re-sized Apera casks, which is apparently similar to sherry. I enjoyed this - it's different but not a funky adventure. The overall profile is friendly without being boring. The cask influence is excellent and the balance keeps this interesting. I'd gladly buy a bottle of this to have around. Cheers, folks!
Yellow Rose Premium American Whiskey
Blended American Whiskey — Texas , USAReviewed December 16, 2020Note - I'm doing the Really Good Whisky Company Advent Calendar. I've also decided to pour these whiskeys "blind" (or at least as blind as I can), then providing nose, palate, and finish notes. I'll then look at the label, proof, cask type, etc. before writing my other notes. I'll be providing some guesses around things like proof and cask type and then seeing how much I missed the mark. Slàinte Mhath! Nose: Pleasant. Banana, toasted grains, honey. Sugar cookies with vanilla. A little bit of warm nutmeg and anise - apple pie filling. We're in low proof territory - 43% or below. Oak character isn't jumping out in any big way. Having a hard time pinning down where this is from or age. No new make funk, but there's not a ton of oak, either. Palate: Very friendly. Vanilla, banana, whipped cream. Brown sugar. Slight tannin coming through. Still no new-make funk. Can't tell if I'm getting grain whisky in this - maybe a little? No clue on casks, either. Ex-bourbon and something else? Maybe a little re-char action? This is like a strange combo between Sexton and Jamo Black Barrel. Subtlety and sweetness are the name of the game here, with little pops of flowers and black pepper. Well integrated either way, not really standing out on any particular section of the palate. I do wish is had some more richness and depth. Medium-light mouthfeel. Finish: Slightly metallic sugary vanilla. Nilla wafers and cream. Quickly adds in some dusty corn character and then slowly fades off. Straightforward. Medium length. Other notes: Region was confusing for good reason - apparently this is a Canadian/bourbon blend, which explains a lot, though I can't find any more details than that. No age statement, so no clue there, either. 40% abv (off a bit). If this contains bourbon, then there is some new charred oak in the mix, no clue on what else would be involved here. I really wish I could find more details about this one. It's not my style, but I could see this being an easy recommendation to your Jack or Crown drinker. Incredibly easy to drink and doesn't challenge you or wrestle your attention. No real flaws, mind. And sometimes there's nothing wrong with that. Cheers!