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. Ardbeg Uigeadail

    Peated Single Malt — Islay, Scotland

    Tasted
    4.5
    4.5 out of 5 stars
    This review is for a bottle from 2016. “You cannot keep a good expression down” should be the theme for Ardbeg Uigeadail. The last bottle I finished was from 2016, and 2016 was still an amazingly good time; much better than the Dark Cove released the same year. Ardbeg Uigeadail has been decreasing in price every year, going against the trend for Scotch, because the amount of quality sherry cask influence decreases every year. Meanwhile, Ardbeg has yearly special releases that invariably fail to be better than the Uigeadail despite the obvious attempts by Ardbeg to cheapen and worsen the Uigeadail, year after year. I’m sorry, but your overpriced yearly NAS specials still cannot beat your core masterpiece. As of 2016, I can tell you that the Uigeadail is still an amazing whisky. The dustier the bottle that you can find on the shelves, the better. I will pay over $500 for bottles before 2011. When I think of a combination of peat and sherry, there is no better example than an old Uigeadail. This is buttery, sweet, salty, and I always get the taste of charred lobster shells, which is a mindblowing note from a whisky. I hope the note will persist in more recent renditions of the Uigeadail, but I am not sure. Score: ** (unimaginably good) How much does a bottle cost: $70-95 How much do I think a bottle is worth: $150
    89.0 USD per Bottle
  2. Octomore Masterclass 08.3/309 Islay Barley

    Peated Single Malt — Islay, Scotland

    Tasted
    2.0
    2.0 out of 5 stars
    Octomores are expensive. I am a fan of Octomore. Most of them are worth the price of admission. This one is not. Octomore has marketed themselves as the peatiest of all whiskies, and the 8.3 is the peatiest of all Octomores. You would expect such a whisky to be unforgettable, but it is not. Being a fan of peat is like being a fan of hot sauce. If you are so inclined, there are plenty of hot sauces claiming to be at insane levels of heat, and they will hurt your palate, to be sure, but they are forgettable curiosities after the initial cataclysm on contact. Octomore 8.3 offers much less depth than other Octomores, but, I agree, it is the peatiest. This shit tastes like if your lung cancer got cancer. Wheareas previous Octomores taste remarkably mature for their age, this one tastes like it is 5 years old, and there’s very little to draw from it rather than a hateful style of metallic Terminator T-800 peat. I normally score the travel retail exclusive Octomores (x.2) as the worst Octomores, because I have a bias against TREs. But when some TRE Octomores are tasted blind against 8.3, this is my least favorite Octomore. However, I must still emphasize that I am a fan of Octomore, and I would still clearly consume this whisky if the price was right, valuing a bottle at $100. Score: 0 (forgettable) How much does a bottle cost: $200-250 How much do I think a bottle is worth: $100
    241.0 USD per Bottle
  3. Hakushu 12 Year

    Peated Single Malt — Japan

    Tasted
    4.5
    4.5 out of 5 stars
    Japanese whiskies are strange to me. Age statement releases are rare and expensive. The NAS releases that have replaced them are just trash, and there is nothing in between. At one point, I had both a Yamazaki 12 and a Hakushu 12 bottle open. The Yamazaki is easier to approach, and has more mass appeal; it has completely disappeared off the shelves except at prices around $200. The Hakushu 12 is ultimately more complex, arguably better, and if you go treasure hunting at ghetto liquor stores in Maryland, you can still occasionally see bottles in the $80-100 range. At the fancier stores, they are also $200, if they have them at all. These aged Japanese whiskies are simply better than Scotch. In the last blind tasting I tried with the Hakushu 12, it went up against a Kilkerren 12, Glen Grant 18, and a Gordon MacPhail Mortlach 25. The Hakushu won, and the only whisky that came close was the Mortlach, a $250 bottle. On the nose, the Japanese whisky felt like a whole dimension ahead of its Scottish competition; like comparing being in a forest with a picture of a forest. I do not believe in terroir, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t start to think about fresh green forests when nosing Hakushu 12. This whisky is clean and crisp, but also bold. It greets your nose with a floral, sweet embrace and takes you on a complex journey of scents. You do not have to search around; the aromas reach out and grab you. The palate is weaker, but still delightful. Peat smoke has never been this well integrated. A floral, heathery peat is definitely present if you know to expect it; but someone who hates peat will drink this and never know that it is peated. Maybe a Rosebank has a similar style, but these are way harder to come by, and more expensive. So, complain as we might about the prices for these Japanese whiskies, but you really can’t get a better whisky with a similar style for cheaper. Score: ** (unimaginably good) How much does a bottle cost: $80-200 How much do I think a bottle is worth: $200
    90.0 USD per Bottle
  4. Talisker Storm

    Peated Single Malt — Islands, Scotland

    Tasted
    1.0
    1.0 out of 5 stars
    I first had this whisky at a bar, and it was bad. It was Talisker with a soapy taste. Perhaps the bartender wasn’t rinsing the glasses properly, I thought. There was no reason for me to buy an NAS Talisker that is the same price as the 10 year old Talisker, which is probably my go-back-to-whisky of all time. And then I got gifted a bottle of Talisker Storm. Popped it open. It wasn’t terrible. It’s definitely sharper than Talisker 10, replacing some wonderful spiciness with just chemical harshness. But it’s got that nice iodine, maritime peat and citrus that’s in Talisker’s DNA. But, gradually, the palate went off. It might be the soapiness I found at the bar, but having a full bottle to try and characterize what is nasty about it, I am finding more of a metallic chemical Brillo pad note that is in Johnny Walker Red. It took about 4 months and 60% of the bottle to finish before this offputting taste emerged, but when it did, this shit could only go into cocktails or be mixed with ice. Even when I put this in blind line ups, this gets beat by Isle of Skye 8 years every time, and is utterly trounced by Talisker 10. Ultimately, this is just a forgettable whisky, but I almost want to give it a negative score. It’s not quite that bad. It would take a whisky that I would not drink for free even if I felt like drinking, and nothing else was available to deserve a negative score, and this just barely is not that bad. Score: 0 (forgettable) How much does a bottle cost: $45-65 How much do I think a bottle is worth: $10
  5. The Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 Year

    Single Malt — Speyside, Scotland

    Tasted
    2.5
    2.5 out of 5 stars
    Balvenie 14 year old Caribbean Cask may be the most reasonably priced offering from their lackluster core range. When this is on sale, it is almost worth it. The short rum cask finish is evident because the rum influence is only apparent in a freshly opened bottle. After a couple of months, the dark sugars on the nose and palate fade into the nondescript honeyed notes Balvenie uses to entice the masses. This is noticeably smoother and richer than the 12 year old, but it is ultimately a rather average Scotch that does not feel Caribbean at all. Vanilla, honey, oranges, and a few dollars more luxurious than Monkey Shoulder. Score: 0 (forgettable) How much does a bottle cost: $55-75 How much do I think a bottle is worth: $50
    56.0 USD per Bottle
  6. Balblair 1990 2nd Release

    Single Malt — Highlands, Scotland

    Tasted
    5.0
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    I have been busy, but not too busy to still continue to explore whisky. There’s just been no time for documentation, and not much inspiration to write about a bottle, until I finished Balblair 1990 2nd release, and decided to reminisce about this beauty. I have come to the conclusion that it is silly, after having had literally hundreds of different whiskies, to continue to give “82/100” to a forgettable, but inoffensive dram. My new rating system will be Michelin inspired. Forgettable whiskies will score a 0 – and most whiskies are forgettable. Unforgettable whiskies will score 1. Unimaginably good whiskies will score 2. Unparalleled transcendent whiskies will score 3. And, to fairly satisfy the 5 star system this app uses, I will compare how much I think a bottle should cost, and how much the bottle actually costs, and give a rating based on that. Balblair 1990 is three stars. I fucking love this whisky. People are upset that Balblair has modernized their range, and is now selling a 25 year old for $500. Balblair has consistently been one of the best distilleries in the past 5-10 years, right up there with the likes of Springbank, but they have always undervalued their own worth, and they are just now charging the fair-market price for their whiskies now. This Balblair 1990 is 24-25 years old, and it was selling for $150! There is actual bourbon influence on the nose. For most scotches, “bourbon influence,” means a light “breakfast” whisky where the malt dominates. This smells like a full-bodied fine bourbon, rich tobacco and cherries, Pappy Van Winkle; but this is balanced with a single malt presence that is secondary, but still significant. On the palate, it goes from bourbon to sherry, and that is the right order of flavors; starting with American oak toffee and vanilla sweetness, progressing to raisins and dark fruits, and finishing with cocoa, leather, and tobacco. A 25 year old Balblair is better than a 25 year old Springbank, or a 25 year old Macallan, or a 25 year Balvenie. They deserve to start charging whatever they want. Score: *** (unparalleled transcendent) How much does a bottle cost: $150-180 (may no longer be available) How much do I think a bottle is worth: $500
    154.0 USD per Bottle
  7. Compass Box The Lost Blend

    Peated Blend — Scotland

    Tasted
    3.75
    3.75 out of 5 stars
    Bottle killed on 5/22/19. Compass Box The Lost Blend Blended Malt NAS 46% ABV Bottled 8/20/2014 Limited to 12,018 bottles Purchase price: 113 USD This is a blend of three single malts (Clynelish, Caol Ila, and Altt-A-Bhainne) each matured exclusively in bourbon casks. The background story is that the fortuitous discovery of some 18 year old Altt-A-Bhainne that was “extraordinary examples of near-perfection in maturation” allowed them to create this Lost Blend. Nice bullshit. A perfectly matured Altt-A-Bhainne would probably still taste bad. It is not a good distillery. I sometimes get metallic and straw notes in this whisky that prevent this from being a perfect blend. Could it be that Altt-A-Bhainne floating around in there? On its good days, this is a sublime peaty take on a solid and typical Clynelish. A nice mix of orchard fruits and cereals. Waxy and spicy on the palatte. A beautiful soft, savory, and soulful peat on the finish. When I first opened this bottle, it was the perfectly balanced nose that blew me away, but then I started noticing the metallic and straw notes. As I finished this bottle, I definitely latched on to the finish more. I do love Compass Box. But I don’t need to have a backup bottle of The Lost Blend. If I find this on sale at less than $100, I might pull the trigger. Rating (price not factored): 90 / 100 Purchase satisfaction (price factored): 3.75 / 5
    113.0 USD per Bottle
  8. Barrell Craft Spirits Dovetail

    Blended — USA

    Tasted
    5.0
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    This sample is provided courtesy of @PBMichiganWolverine. Thank you! Sample rating: +6.5 That's an amazing score for a whiskey around 80 USD. 5 stars! Admission: I am biased against NAS whiskies. They show a lack of confidence and a marketing corruption in the distillery. I am biased against bourbons. Bourbon lovers just want a Kentucky hug. Sorry y'all. A hug lacks complexity. If I were to drive a whisky distribution truck, these NAS bourbons would be at the back of the truck. This whiskey gets bonus points for rising above my bigotry. This is a bourbon that has seen rum, port, and cab savignon barrels. This sounds like some serious experimentation, and they are either out to save money, or out to create something truly delicious. It is the latter with this one. I am blown away by the nose and the palate. This is dominated by sweetness, but it is very complex. There's raisins and molasses, somehow working together. There is nice viscosity, and just the right amount of cherry oakiness. I prefer this neat, and this is far smoother than its >60% ABV suggests. I am buying a bottle of this for sure. For reference, I would rate Pappy 15 at around +5-5.5. This is clearly better.
  9. Glenfiddich Fire & Cane

    Peated Single Malt — Speyside, Scotland

    Tasted
    1.5
    1.5 out of 5 stars
    Sample provided by @PBMichiganWolverine. Thanks! Sample rating: -1 (this is on my minus infinite to plus infinite scale where glenfiddich 12 is the zero) The full bottle is 40-55 USD. That earns a 1.5 / 5 stars Tried this on its own and didn’t like it. What do you do with a whisky you don’t like? Try is side by side with a similar average whisky to make the average whisky look like a superstar. Balvenie 14 carribean cask gets a +2 in comparison. This glenfiddich fire and cane is more like swimming pool water and cane. The syrup and sugarcane from the rum finish is alright. But the weakly peated immature spirit is swimming pool water on the last day of summer. And there is no fire. Where are my spices? The finish is weird enough to be more memorable than a standard glenfiddich, but dangerously close to tasting like trash. Tasting a Balvenie after tho... I might finally kill the bottle after over a year.
  10. Benromach 15 Year

    Single Malt — Speyside, Scotland

    Tasted
    3.75
    3.75 out of 5 stars
    2oz pour Sample rating: +5. I compared this side by side with a slightly cheaper Lagavulin 16... and I would give that dram a slight edge at +5.5. Look. This is a fine lightly peated, well-balanced Scotch that I would not be upset at tasting. But it's ~100-110 USD in my parts, and it's on the fringes of purchasability at that price, especially when I can get a better whisky in the Lagavulin 16 for 30 bucks less. This is such a pleasant and refined hickory smoke on the nose. The balance on the palate is amazing with Speyside fruitiness mixed with creamy caramel and an obvious, but not overpowering smoke. It just does not have the rewarding Islay finish for rainy days, and drops off quite quickly after swallowing. Comparing within the same distillery: the Benromach 10 Imperial Proof is cheaper and better. I would buy that instead.
    24.0 USD per Pour
    Loch Bar
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