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. Rock Oyster Blended Malt

    Peated Blended Malt — Islands, Scotland

    Tasted
    4.0
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Bottled 2017. This is technically discontinued. The geniuses from marketing decided “Rock Oyster” is an unpalatable name for a whisky. Henceforth Rock Island. Shame. Rock Oyster was the perfect name for this whisky. I get rocks – a lovely minerality; an epiphany of brine and barnacles. I get oysters – sweet pacific oysters, a paradoxical enigma of creamy zinc metal. I also get a lot of maltiness and a clean smoke – not the black coal plant fumes that power Ardbeg; but the white nuclear plant steam that powers, perhaps, Arran? This is a young whisky. Most of this blend is probably somewhere in the 3-6 year range. This is memorable for how much damp sawdust, metal, and banana flavors that generally make me skeptical of young whiskies, but it works very well in Rock Oyster. Probably, there is a touch of older whisky for balance. Even more probably, I have fallen for the packaging, the theme, and the spine to name a whisky “Rock Oyster.” The only problem I have with this whisky is that I don’t feel like it all the time. When I am in the mood for something rich and indulgent, this is anathema. But when I am in the mood for something barren and battered to match the mood after the holidays, nothing quite satisfies like this pearl. Score: * (unforgettably good) How much does a bottle cost: $55-70 How much do I think a bottle is worth: $75
    65.0 USD per Bottle
  2. Old Pulteney 21 Year

    Single Malt — Highlands, Scotland

    Tasted
    4.0
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Bottled 2017. Time to have two old Old Pulteney’s, 17 and 21, side by side! To unambiguously declare the winner, OP 21 is a special whisky, and OP 17 is not. I commend the OP 17 for its balancing of spirit and cask character. The OP 21 is mostly cask, and it is spectacular. I’m guessing this whisky started its maturation in a bourbon cask, and then spent numerous years in a second maturation in sherry casks. This is bombastically fruity. You get deep notes of berries, citrus, cherries, bananas, kiwis. The malt character is in the background, and it says, “pie.” Berry pie, orange pie, cherry pie, banana pie, kiwi pie. There is a huge fruity and biscuity quality that compares favorably with Redbreast 21. The finish is again fruit pie, but also fairly woody and spicy. I am sad I only ever purchased one bottle of this, and I can no longer find it on shelves. Score: * (unforgettably good) How much does a bottle cost: Secondary market pricing is probably around $200-$300 right now. I don’t see these on shelves any more. How much do I think a bottle is worth: $200
    170.0 USD per Bottle
  3. Old Pulteney 17 Year

    Single Malt — HIghlands, Scotland

    Tasted
    3.0
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    Bottled 2015. Time to have two old Old Pulteney’s, 17 and 21, side by side! Some scotch aficionados regard the OP 17 as one of the finest whiskies of its time. For me, this is not nearly that special. It is, or was, very fairly priced, and that is enough to turn a scotch into a darling these days. This is just a solid single malt. If you don’t like this, then you don’t like scotch. This is one example of a whisky where the spirit and cask characters are in perfect balance. I think Arran 14 has taken over as that example, now that this is discontinued. The nose is butterscotch and vanilla, with just the right amount of salt and herbs. The palate is fruity and floral first, but the colors are understated, kept in check by the maltiness. There is no smoke at all. This is a scotch to showcase to newcomers that THIS is what is at the heart of the buzz around scotch; not a Macallan sherry bomb, or a Laphroaig peat stinker. Despite the praise, this is a forgettable scotch. I am SO spoiled for saying that! But I have found so many equals that are cheaper and/or younger that illustrate quintessential scotchiness and that perfect balance between cask and spirit. I already mentioned Arran 14; but there’s also the Mortlach 16 and the Craigellachie 13 as two other examples. This just means OP probably used relatively inactive senile casks for aging this 17 years, and could have had more vibrancy with a younger age and more active casks. The OP 21 is a completely different beast several classes above the 17. Score: 0 (forgettable) How much does a bottle cost: It’s been discontinued since 2017, but there’s still some on shelves in my area for $100-130 How much do I think a bottle is worth: $100
    105.0 USD per Bottle
  4. Chivas Regal 18 Year

    Blended — Scotland

    Tasted
    2.0
    2.0 out of 5 stars
    Bottled 2019 18 year old grain whisky is what this tasted like next to the lovely Johnnie Walker 18 year I just reviewed. I don’t know how many drops of Strathisla they decided to add to this, but this is at is core an industrial grain whisky. It’s 18 years old, so it’s starting to not taste like shit, like the 12 year old Chivas absolutely tastes like. But when you have an age statement of 18 years and a pricetag of $56, you get what you pay for. The first nose is where this whisky tries to sell you. It is so sweet. Toffee, caramel, and magnolias. But, in the mouth, this is a letdown. Just sugary and underdeveloped. Cheap grain whisky dominates, and you get just hints of sherry and bourbon wood maturation. The finish is syrupy and slightly metallic. This is drinkable, and serves its purpose best when trying to make an unpleasant task more pleasant; but almost any whisky in this price range can also serve that purpose. Score: 0 (forgettable) How much does a bottle cost: $55-70 How much do I think a bottle is worth: $35
    56.0 USD per Bottle
  5. Johnnie Walker 18 Year

    Peated Blend — Scotland

    Tasted
    3.5
    3.5 out of 5 stars
    Bottled 2019 Diageo is genius. For those hardcore whisky fans point to Diageo’s alliance with HBO and Game of Thrones as a pact for profit only: just shut up. Diageo is dumping its developmentally challenged crap whisky into collectible bottles to distract the tourists, collectors, and flippers; in order to protect people like me, and hopefully you. There are now three different Game of Throne Johnnie Walkers; all fucking garbage fires. Meanwhile, the Black 12 year old, the Green 15 year old, and the now colorless 18 year old (the spiritual descendant of Platinum), have all seen a bump in their quality. Diageo has found a way to make money from their garbage, and increase the quality of their products for those actually looking for good whisky. This blend is just so clean and pleasant. I think I like it better than the last bottle of regular Blue Label that I had. I do not care that this is artificially colored, chill-filtered, or served at 40%. I hate this new trend among whisky reviewers of “checking boxes,” judging a whisky before it even interacts with your senses. It’s wine snobbery madness! I love that this whisky is 40% because it is delicious and I can have 3-4 ounces easily before I have an important decision to make about how the rest of the night is going to go. This is a complex whisky. It has every flavor on the wheel. The nose is enormously fruit forward with apple cider and ripe red fruits like raspberries. Deeper notes of malt and honey are present. The palate is where the mass market appeal becomes obvious. There is a confusion of flavors, designed to cancel out any distinctive notes, so you are left with this nicely balance, but nondescript, velvety liquid. The finish is smokier than I remember the old JW Gold to be. I have never tried JW Platinum. The grain influence and the peat influence are the highlights of the palate and finish for me, because they are subtle and superbly integrated. At 18+ years, the grain alcohol starts to give something positive that pure malts just don’t have, in the form of coconuts. I had this side-by-side with Chivas Regal 18, and JW clearly is the winner, and the brand that respects its customers as connoisseurs. Score: * (Unforgettably good) How much does a bottle cost: $70-100 How much do I think a bottle is worth: $100
    70.0 USD per Bottle
  6. Bowmore 1996 20 Year Old Particular (Douglas Laing)

    Single Malt — Islay, Scotland

    Tasted
    4.5
    4.5 out of 5 stars
    This was one of 274 bottles from a refill hogshead (DL12109). This single cask was distilled on 12/1996 and bottled 9/2017. This is a flawless bourbon matured peated Islay whisky. It is Japanese in its precision and balance, but definitely Islay in its character. There is a light yet rich fruity nose. Pineapples and custard. The peat is much lighter than what you get on the palate. Palate is floral, vanilla, and very peaty. The finish is spicy and peppery. This whisky tastes light for its 51.5% ABV, and can be enjoyed with or without a touch of water. I am most impressed by its complete absence of offputting notes, and I am sad I probably won’t be able to find a replacement bottle. Score: ** (Unimaginably good) How much did I buy the bottle for: $175 How much do I think a bottle is worth: $275
    175.0 USD per Bottle
  7. Port Charlotte PC8 Ar Dùthchas

    Peated Single Malt — Islay, Scotland

    Tasted
    5.0
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Released in 2009. This is the best whisky I tried for the first time in 2019. The 3 best whiskies I tried from 2019 were from Bruichladdich: Octomore 2.1, PC5, and PC8. This PC8 is the best of the three. All three served hard regret because I missed the renaissance of Bruichladdich and the chance to purchase the first few distillates matured by the WhiskyGod Jim McEwan when he took over at Bruichladdich at retail price. I still happily found a bottle of this on the secondary market, and this is probably the best $250 I have spent on a bottle of whisky. That first whiff of PC8 fresh out of the bottle at 60.5% ABV is like smelling the Universe when it was 10^-12 seconds after the Big Bang, when the fundamental building blocks of matter as we know it has not yet formed. You do not know what you are nosing for the first instant, and it takes a second for this mental image of a coiled snake soaked in acetone and petrol, emitting jet black smoke, forms. You can taste this without water for shits and giggles. It is like ingesting an unexploded bomb. The ethanol level is aggressive, but the actual mouthfeel is thin. You get wood varnish, chlorhexidine, butyric acid, and some other chemicals; and an ashy finish. It is clean, in a sterile kind of way. I recommend adding water and drinking this at 45-50% ABV to uncoil this beast. The flavors explode, and the mouthfeel thickens to a molten candlewax. There are sharp tart notes and peppercorns and broad savory notes of Tonkotsu broth. A medicinal smoke is strong throughout, and this is as much a peat monster as any Octomore. The finish envelops the soul. This reminds me of Port Ellen, except remastered and in HD. So ashy but so characterful. Ginger skins, lemon skins, oysters in soy sauce, composting in the summer. And it has a chestwarming, throatscratching burn that is a flaw in most whiskies because it is unearned. This one earned the burn, and is literally off my charts good. Score: **** (I rated my own piss after drinking this one star, or on par with Talisker 10) How much does a bottle cost on the secondary market: $250-500 How much do I think a bottle is worth: $600
    250.0 USD per Bottle
  8. Octomore Masterclass 08.1/167

    Peated Single Malt — Islay, Scotland

    Tasted
    3.0
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    Octomore will always be a nice dram to finish a dram session, and I don’t think that will ever change. What has changed is whether or not the price is worth it. I recently had the privilege of trying Octomore 2.1, and that instantly became my favorite Octomore. This Octomore 8.1, with 3 additional years of aging, cannot compare. Octomore 8.1 is 8 years old, and previous x.1 Octomore offerings are 5 years old. I have had the 7.1, 6.1, 5.1, 4.1, and 2.1. This 8.1 tastes younger. Without water, it is just wound up and tense. It needs a massage. Flavors are strong, and most of them are weird. Sewage. And I don’t know if it’s a “pleasant sewage.” Of course, tons and tons of ash. The rich buttery counterbalance of previous Octomores is missing. With water, this one is much better. The flavors are milder and quite pleasant. Vinegar, tart, raw fish, caviar, loads of salt, and a satisfying heap of peat. But the butter is missing. I have not tried the 9 or 10 series of Octomore, but I will, because I am still a believer. But my expectations are lowered after having had 8.1 and 8.3. Score: 0 (forgettable) How much does a bottle cost: $170-200 How much do I think a bottle is worth: $120
    176.0 USD per Bottle
  9. Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt 21 Year

    Peated Blended Malt — Japan

    Tasted
    3.5
    3.5 out of 5 stars
    This is a whisky without flaws. From first nose to the last sip’s finish, it just makes sense, and it makes no mistakes. That is very rare, and something to be cherished, these days. But it is not a perfect whisky, which is one that takes risks and makes mistakes, but the imperfections add to its perfection. This dram introduces itself with crisp, clean fruits such as peaches and plums. On the palate, the texture is very creamy and there is a rich caramel. The finish is dark chocolates and a soft pleasant woody linger. I’ve never smelled or touched sandalwood, but I’m guessing it is soft, and is what gives a well-aged Japanese whisky that meditative balance. This is not a beginner whisky, not just from a pricing standpoint, but beginners will enjoy it. There is a force of purpose behind this whisky and you can tell it is blended so that flavors synergize to increase the amplitude. This is more complex and textured than most single malts, and there is a lot of stuff for you to sink your teeth into. The closest comparison for me would be Compass Box This Is Not a Luxury Whisky. I do not remember Hibiki 21 that well enough to say for sure which one is better. I do remember that trying Hibiki 21 was not a moment when time stopped, as I was promised. Time did not stop for the Taketsuru 21 either because it did does not challenge you with any unique notes, but it is priced somewhat appropriately for a flawless, but not perfect, luxury dram. When I tried the Hibiki, it was on shelves for around $500. Today, if you can find it on a shelf, it’ll be more like $800. This Nikka Taketsuru 21 is much more common on shelves in my area, and it’s around $350-400. Certainly from a price standpoint, this is more reasonable. Score: ** (unimaginably good) How much does a bottle cost: $350-500 How much do I think a bottle is worth: $320
    55.0 USD per Pour
  10. Oban 18 Year

    Peated Single Malt — Highlands, Scotland

    Tasted
    1.5
    1.5 out of 5 stars
    This review is for a bottle from 2017 It seems harsh to score a decent whisky zero. But once you become an enthusiast of something, most of the time, you are just not impressed. Why should that get an 87? I also enjoy film, and even though I am careful about what films I choose to see, more than half of them are wasting my time. This Oban 18 is trying to be a blend. It is a complex whisky, but it doesn’t pick a direction. And it doesn’t win the best directionless smooth sipper award. Off the top of my head, from what I have open right now, Johnnie Walker Gold, which is far from spectacular, is something I would rather drink, for a flavor profile that has been buffed into a perfect sphere. This Oban 18 has a little of everything, like Johnnie Gold, but it has some distracting spikes. The caramel flavors are richer, but they are fighting the citrus and orchard fruits. The saltiness is a courageous tip toe, but steps on the floral notes. What does this whisky want to be? I don’t know. It’s a whisky that does not let the spirit shine through, but the cask influence has also not reached peak maturity; it’s a whisky that’s aiming for the rich and sweet profile; but also the fresh and fruity; it’s a whisky that has fallen off the highlands and drowned trying to swim to the islands. I also don’t like how when this was first released several years ago, it was a premium limited release that was around $140; then, they decided to release it every year and make the price cheaper – I found my bottle for $100. Now, I see some 2019 bottlings on shelves for close to $140 again. Oban, make up your mind. Score: 0 (forgettable) How much does a bottle cost: $95-140 How much do I think a bottle is worth: $55
    100.0 USD per Bottle
Results 31-40 of 224 Tastes