Tastes

ScotchingHard

My rating system: Minus: Unforgettably bad, and would not drink for free. 0: Drinkable, but forgettable *: Unforgettably good **: Unimaginably good ***: I am not worthy

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  1. Bulleit Bourbon Barrel Strength

    Bourbon — Kentucky, USA

    Tasted
    2.0
    2.0 out of 5 stars
    Batch 5 at 62.7% ABV. I’ve been drinking more bourbon this summer than anything else, and I’m starting to appreciate the nuances and complexity from some recent releases, but not Bulleit Barrel Strength. This is a nice bourbon to enjoy by itself; it certainly has some chest punching power, and it may be the ideal bourbon for an old fashioned. But, when you have it in a line up with some more expensive options (like Barrell Cask Strength), the highlights of this bourbon aren’t very high, and the flaws start to show. Even when you line it up with a similar priced, similar styled high-rye high-proof option like Four Roses Barrel Strength, Bulleit is outclassed. It smells like bourbon, like bourbons do to me. There is lots of vanilla, cloves, cinnamon, wood, and salted peanuts. The arrival is delicious with raisins and butter, but it becomes a little unpleasant with intrusions of wax and plastic. The high rye content and high ABV hides the flaws on the finish well, but it just gets a little bitter and sawdusty for me. This is borderline sipping quality, and I’ve been guilty of using this bottle for cooking and for mixing. That would’ve been fine at $35, but at $50+, there are better options. Score: 0 (forgettable) How much does a bottle cost?: $50-65. How much do I think a bottle is worth?: $35.
    55.0 USD per Bottle
  2. High West A Midwinter Night's Dram

    Rye — (bottled in) Utah, USA

    Tasted
    4.0
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Act 5 Scene 6 I hated Shakespeare, but thou art I fucking love this. I find this to be at least as enjoyable in the summer as in the winter, when I prefer smoky scotches. I definitely get the winter holiday sweet aromas and flavors with this dram. Pine cones, rumcake, fruitcake, raisins, and berry jams; this is balanced well with the dill and caraway of the whiskey’s rye backbone. But when it’s cold, I tend to like the savory, smoky game meat flavor profiles. The summer is the perfect time to enjoy something sweet and herbaceous. So, just as well, this can be a mindsummer night dram too. The issue with this bottle of rye is that it can be difficult to track down at retail pricing. I was able to get my bottle of Act 5 Scene 6 in the 2018 holiday season for about $90. I understand the low end of price range now is around $120. Even adding a little premium to that price is, in my mind, worthwhile, and I will be repurchasing future acts of this bottle. I am not sure how much batch variation there is, but I hear the earlier versions (acts 1 and 2), before High West was bought by Constellation Brands, which can be found on the secondary market for around $1000, were much better. Here’s hoping my next bottle will not be much worse, because Act 5 is still wonderful stuff worthy of a celebration. Score: ** (unimaginably good) How much does a bottle cost?: $100-200. Older versions end up on the secondary market for much more. How much do I think a bottle is worth?: $150.
    90.0 USD per Bottle
  3. Talisker 18 Year

    Peated Single Malt — Islands, Scotland

    Tasted
    2.0
    2.0 out of 5 stars
    Bottled in 2012. This was my second bottle of Talisker 18, and I had a problem with it. My first bottle of Talisker 18 was one of my favorite standard releases. It was just a solid, well-rounded, pleasing whisky, as good as a standard release comes. On opening this bottle, I thought it was equally enjoyable as Talisker 10, which was less than half the price. This did not get better, and when I got down to the last 100 mL or so, it just turned soapy, fractured, and demented. This was my first whisky that actually turned bad after opening, and it had been open for maybe a year and a half. I don’t know what happened. One thing I’ve always noticed about Talisker is that it always tastes best fresh. Talisker 10 starts tasting flatter and flatter the longer it stays open, but I don’t have a problem because it is well priced and so yummy that a bottle of Talisker 10 never lasts more than 6 months. Another thing I recently started to notice about Talisker is that the NAS releases are really, really bad. Just salted plastic melt, pollution-by-the-sea kind of garbage notes that I believe I’m starting to pick up in their finer releases by, perhaps, association? It’s like how watching the Die Hard sequels somehow ruins the original. Talisker 18 noses like a Talisker should. It’s a beautiful aroma balancing sweet, salty, and a pungent medicinal smoke. For me, it is the most recognizable aroma of any distillery. But, for me at the moment, the taste of Talisker is just inconsistent - an often unsettled perturbation of wooden pepperiness and minerality - and I only trust the Talisker 10 to return value for my money today, especially seeing the Talisker 18 exceeding $150 in today’s crazy prices. Score: 0 (forgettable) How much does a bottle cost?: $130-200 How much do I think a bottle is worth?: $80
    130.0 USD per Bottle
  4. Woodford Reserve Master's Collection Cherry Wood Smoked Barley

    Bourbon — Kentucky, USA

    Tasted
    3.5
    3.5 out of 5 stars
    This whiskey is a paradox. On the one hand, there is nothing more American than cherry pie, and this is precisely what you get with this remarkably unique bourbon from Woodford Reserve. Cinammon, vanilla, pie crust, and warm sticky crimson cherries. It’s a beautiful, decadent thing to nose on your porch, or deck when a sweltering stagnant July day holding its breath finally exhales into a merciful evening breeze. On the other hand, this does not taste like a whiskey made in America. Maybe Irish? With a mash bill that contains 30% malted barley and pot still distillation, you get a malty, biscuity, and even slightly smoky experience. If bourbon is the American spirit, this deoch has a thick foreign accent. But no other bourbon tastes like cherry pie. I have had this bottle open for about 2 years now, and it’s just a little over half finished. It is an unforgettable whiskey because I have not tried anything that tastes similar, and it is a fine whiskey when I’m in the mood. However, I wish it was even more like cherry pie, and was a little sweeter like a bourbon, with a little more pie crust; rather than the dry cereal and wood notes of a more European whisky. This is one of those whiskies that I will miss if I haven’t had it in a while, but once I’ve had a pour, I am satisfied, and move on to something else. Score: * (unforgettably good) How much does a bottle cost? In 2017, this limited release was $100-110. This is not widely available anymore. How much do I think a bottle is worth?: $100
    104.0 USD per Bottle
  5. Mortlach 16 Year "Distiller's Dram"

    Single Malt — Speyside, Scotland

    Tasted
    4.0
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Bottled in 2019. They call Mortlach the Beast of Dufftown. This would then be an elegant beast. Mortlach is a meaty feinty distillate. 16 years of scrubbing and delousing in a sherry cask, and this beast has emerged surprisingly clean on the other side. The sherry influence is not dominating, but definitely noticeable. You get an elegant orange zest, raisins, apricots, cinnamon, and nutmeg; but there’s still a little dirt in the fur with notes of matchsticks, pencil shavings, and MSG. I can appreciate a little dirty. I am delighted by an official Mortlach bottling with the proper cask selection and duration of aging, finally, with this release. Do not bother with the NAS or 12 year official bottling. Any Mortlach less than 15 years is an abortion. This distillery not only can take on some serious aging in a cask, but it also demands a lengthy aging. I am even more delighted that an official bottling has a competitive price. A 25 year old Mortlach is great, I’m sure, but pricing it at $1000 is offputting, to put it kindly. This 16 year old gets just the one star because although it is a great standard release, I know how truly phenomenal this distillery can be with more age, more ABV, or a combination of both. Gordon MacPhail, Cadenhead, Duncan Taylor, and other independent bottlers are still what I look for first when I’m thirsty for Mortach. Score: * (unforgettably good) How much does a bottle cost?: $80-120 How much do I think a bottle is worth?: $130
    80.0 USD per Bottle
  6. Compass Box Great King St Glasgow Blend

    Peated Blend — Scotland

    Tasted
    4.5
    4.5 out of 5 stars
    Bottled in 2019 So, I bought a house. When I closed, I had 25 days of having both the house and an apartment within a 15 minute drive of each other. So, I leisurely moved my whisky collection, a few backpacks at a time, until I realized all my whisky was at the house, but my bed was still at the apartment. I thought about one bottle to take back to the apartment to enjoy after a day of heavy lifting, and I chose this one: Compass Box Great King Street Glasgow Blend. This is the perfect Scotch whisky. It’s under $50. It’s widely available. It adds peat and sherry to a solid base of grain. Marrying peat and sherry is like the Holy Grail of scotch, and so many highly touted single malts, from my previously reviewed Laphroaig Lore, to the rarified Ardbeg Dark Cove offer false divinity in the form of apocryphal luxury. Leave it Compass Box to show us how things are done, at a fraction of the price. For its price, the Glasgow Blend is a miraculous whisky. Every component serves a purpose and adds to the glorious, but humble whole. The Cameron Bridge grain matured in first fill American oak barrels brings a spicy creaminess that is anchored by the waxiness of Clynelish. Sherry-matured Benrinnes is very underrated, offering a soft, sympathetic sweetness rather than the pompous and domineering sweetness of most sherried malts today. Finally, the Laphroaig (17% of this whisky!) is somehow tamed; it offers an un-shy drying smoke, but I would not be able to guess this was from Laphroaig versus Ardbeg or Caol Ila. The component whiskies are of course offered by Compass Box with a little bit of effort, but they could have just said, “These were bottles of water. And then Jesus touched them,” and I would have been fine with that. Score: ** (unimaginably good) How much does a bottle cost: $35-45 How much do I think a bottle is worth?: $70
    40.0 USD per Bottle
  7. Laphroaig Lore

    Peated Single Malt — Islay, Scotland

    Tasted
    2.0
    2.0 out of 5 stars
    Bottled in 2017 It took me a long time to try this. I was troubled by the thought that the supposed spiritual successor of Laphroaig 18 year old, one of my favorite whiskies, had no age statement, and the suspicious claim that it is “the richest ever Laphroaig!” I just thought, oh dear, Laphroaig 18 never tried to be the richest. I was fearful this “Lore” would be an amateur PX finish. My first impression of this whisky was that, I’ll be damned, it reminds me of Laphroaig 18. Medicinal smoke with an oily mouthfeel and grapefruit-flavored candies. And then I had it alongside Laphroaig 18, and it was a big disappointment. It’s was like that classic Katt Williams skit about how your Chrysler 300 looks sort of like a Bentley Phantom, until you pull up next to a Bentley Phantom. Laphroaig Lore is not Laphroaig 18. It reminded me of Laphroaig 18 because I had forgotten how awesome Laphroaig 18 was. And then I compared Lore with an older Laphroaig 10, bottled around 2012, and the Laphroaig 10 was much better. Laphroaig today is not Laphroaig yesterday. The difference is as stark as comparing something that is Scotch with something that is not. The Laphroaig 10 from 2012 is a beautiful, confident whisky that lets you approach it. Newer Laphroaigs, from the modern Laphroaig 10 to their Cairdeas bait, to this Laphroaig Lore is manic, insecure divebar trash that tries to approach you with the subtlety of Cthulhu. Laphroaig’s sad use of sherry casks is just shouting drunken nonsense to hide spirit of decreasing quality, like mini short jeans and flavored lipstick to hide a hollow personality. Ahem, that is still to say, if you turn your brain off, Laphroaig Lore can be competent, and even enjoyable. But, as soon, as you line this up with some real whisky, Lore just becomes this loud pink bubblegum pop! that you’ll be wise to avoid. If you want a Laphroaig today, go the independent bottler route. Score: 0 (forgettable) How much does a bottle cost: $90-140 How much do I think a bottle is worth?: $50
    90.0 USD per Bottle
  8. Rhetoric 23 Year Bourbon

    Bourbon — Kentucky, USA

    Tasted
    4.0
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    I’m just sifting through tobacco leaves, sitting on a weary, dusty mahogany throne adorned with a buffalo pelt overlooking a library of dusty tomes. Don’t mind me. You really need to love oak to like Orphan Barrel Rhetoric. A 20+ year old bourbon is not for those who want something alive and vibrant. But I love the old oaky stuff; the ancient wood oil and syrup that forms legs that do not fall; the smell of must and dust; the taste of leather and black cherries. This almost loses its bourboness and tastes like an over-oaked anything. I once had a Hart Brothers Strathisla single malt heading towards 40 years old that tasted similar. The spirit is gone, but you can still appreciate the senile, wrinkled complexity imparted by the wood. This deserves an oversized cognac snifter to appreciate. If you let this breath for a while, or add a few drops of water, it does wake up and offer some of the fruitier and spicier properties of a bourbon, but I prefer staring and nosing this antiquity neat, thinking if the Library of Alexandria melted and was bottled, it would taste something like this. Score: * (unforgettably good) How much does a bottle cost: Retail is around $140. Secondary market pricing is $200-450 How much do I think a bottle is worth?: $140
    140.0 USD per Bottle
  9. Midleton Very Rare 2011

    Blended — Ireland

    Tasted
    3.0
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    2019 St. Patrick’s Day, I said fuck it, and cracked open this 2011 vintage of Midleton Very Rare. I have struggled with sulfur in this bottle for about a year and two-thirds of the bottle. The luxury I get: from the decadent Double Tree cookie crust, to the exotic tartness of fresh goji berries, to the silky mouthfeel. I mean for goodness sakes, it comes in a wood box and it says “very rare” right on the bottle. But Connor McGregar farted into my bottle. Then, with about one-third of the bottle left, I decided to compare all my 40% ABV whiskies side by side, fully expecting Scapa 16 to be the winner. But this Midleton Very Rare was the clear winner, and the sulfur note was gone. This whole experience has left me rather confused. These Midleton Very Rare’s are collectible, and the 2011 was selling for about $500 when I opened it, when I paid $175 for it. I have never opened a bottle of Midleton Very Rare before. It was a terrible disappointment to taste fart for most of the bottle, but now I feel like I will actually miss this when it’s gone. And I may, some day, try a Very Rare release again, even though the whole “very rare” moniker and lack of transparency by Midleton is as offputting as the sulfur. This just goes to show that your opinion of a bottle towards the end may be very different from your opinion at the uncorking. Without the sulfur, this experience is that of a masterful blend with a definite single pot still signature, which I will always associate with cookies. There is a full complement of spices, fruits, fat oils, and earth. The complexity is miles ahead of mainstream luxury competitors such as JW Blue or Chivas Ultis. Even Macallan’s own “rare cask” can fuck off compared to this. However, the new versions of Very Rare are now north of $200 (and psst, they ain’t rare); and, if you are going to spend dough to get your socks blown off by an Irish, I recommend spending just a little bit more for Redbreast 21. Score: * (unforgettably good… eventually) How much does a bottle cost: New releases are $175-230. These bottles will reliably increase in price after a few years on secondary, although I don’t know how many suckers actually pay the prices. The 2011 is >$500. How much do I think a bottle is worth?: $140. Now that I know to wait a year if there is sulfur for the sulfur to go away.
    175.0 USD per Bottle
  10. Springbank 21 Batch 9 (That Boutique-y Whisky Co.)

    Single Malt — Campbeltown, Scotland

    Tasted
    5.0
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Bottled in 2018 Batch #9. Bottle 77 of 398. Unless you are a sex enthusiast, if you are an enthusiast of anything else, you are going to encounter something better than sex. As an enthusiast of fine spirits, I am in constant danger of finding that tipple that might be better than sex. I am in constant danger of being offered sex, and telling my wife, “Uh, can we have that Springbank from That Boutique-y Whisky Company instead?” When you combine one the world’s best distilleries with one of the world’s best independent bottlers, you are threatening marriages! Can any man or woman have the charm of a Brora from the late 70s; a farmhouse funk side-by-side with fresh roses; a farm animal must side-by-side with freshly picked berries; a sooty smoke from a lineseed oil mill side-by-side with candied oranges and papayas? Can any man or woman taste as seductive being fat, leathery, and dirty? Porridge with walnut oil and honey. Marmalade with orange peels, cacao, and grass. There are no misplaced notes. Is this a divine creation? Eve’s rib. Or a Satanic trick? Forbidden fruits matured in staves made from the tree of knowledge? To take the devil’s side: there will be more opportunities to have sex than to try this whisky. This is especially true in the U.S. markets, where bottles from TBWC are limited to 375 mL rather than 500 mL. If you get your hands, nose, lips, and tongue on this liquid, sex can wait. And after the experience, you can tell your man or woman, “Please step up your sex game. This whisky is the new standard.” Score: **** (better than sex) How much does a bottle cost: $250-300 for 375 mL (half bottle) How much do I think a bottle is worth?: $300 for half bottle
    280.0 USD per Bottle
Results 1-10 of 231 Tastes