Speyburn companion cask
Single Malt — Speyside, ScotlandTastedPleasantly malty. I get a lot of malty shortbread flavor, some slight bourbon notes from the cask, and a hint of coconut. Perhaps a tiny bit of caramel. It's got a medium long finish full of cereal grain with the coconut hint. It's not a particularly complex whiskey, but the grain flavors are crisp, fresh, and very nicely balanced.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label
Peated Blend — ScotlandTastedSome nice barrel spice on the nose with a bit of smoke. Perhaps some malt and fruit. Quite pleasant, but nothing earth shattering. On the palate quite a lot of barrel spice, some vanilla, marzipan. Nice sherry notes. A bit of rounded out smoke. I get some salt and white pepper. It's quite oily, but I feel like the body is actually a bit thin, most likely due to the 40% ABV. If they bottled this at 46% or even 43%, I think it would be better. Moderately long finish with sherry, dark chocolate, barrel spice, marzipan. Also some malt. Very approachable and drinkable, reasonably complex, but nothing that really impresses me. If money is not an issue to you, and you just want a nice consistent drink, and exploring whiskey is not something you have a passion or even real interest in, this is a great go to - it's got a fair bit going on, and it's reliable. As a serious whiskey drinker and student of whiskey, I'm not impressed, particularly at the price. I've experienced everything that this blend does in much cheaper single malts and blends. If you really want a solid sherry experience get some GlenDronach, Aberlour, or Macallan. If you want to get all the oaky goodness, look at Compass Box Spice Tree. Going these routes, you can get a comparable bottle for probably less than half the price. I do like it, but I've had whiskeys that blow this away that are $50-100 cheaper, so consider that going in before dropping $200-300 for a full bottle of this. I generally try not to factor price into my tasting and reviews all that much, but I'm taking off a quarter of a point for price. I think this is a 4.0 if it were $150, but I can't give it that at >$200.
Wild Turkey Master's Keep Bottled in Bond 17 Year
Bourbon — Kentucky, USATastedRich vanilla, baking spice, barrel spice, and barrel funk on the nose. This is a deep, robust, full bodied whiskey. It has a strong interplay between earthy and sweet. I get a lot of rye spice, damp earth - almost mushrooms, barrel, vanilla, tobacco, smoke, as well as oak spice, cream, and baked apple. The finish is very long and is dominated by apple, oak spice, wood, leather, and tobacco. I think that I might also be picking up some roasted marshmallow. It has a lot of sharp flavors that have been mellowed and married together, to create a whiskey with lots of strong distinct flavors that are ultimately very balanced, but still easy to pull apart. The sweet flavors are very well balanced and contrasted to the barrel and earthy elements.
Ardbeg Blaaack (2020 Committee Release)
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTastedPeaty nose, with some briney notes. I can definitely get some of the red fruit aromas from the wine, but they don't jump right out. I get maybe a mix of cherry or plum as well as red apple. The taste has a peaty, dry smoke, but it's not as strong as some other Ardbeg releases. I feel like Ardbeg often has a bit of a vegetal character, and I'm having trouble finding it here, perhaps the fruity wine notes cancel it out. I am also getting a baked apple flavor as it sits in the glass, although it's not overly sweet. In the finish, I get some salt and pepper and maybe some pine needles or pine resin. I also get some mellower red fruit. I feel like the wine fruit, maybe tames the Ardbeg a bit, for better and worse. They play nice together... maybe too nice, considering that this is one of the Islay heavyweights. The finish is quite lingering- it's dry spicy smoke with peppery waves... but I think some of the pepper may be coming from the wine as much as from the whiskey. If anything, this is smoother and quite a bit easier drinking than I had expected, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but possibly dangerous to sobriety and pocketbook. I like this. I'm not sure that I love it, considering this was well north of $100. Supernova is better, and the price isn't that much different. I will say that the pinot noir brings something interesting and different, and it actually works pretty well, but it's not going down in history as a classic and celebrated combo. If anything, I'd actually recommend buying a few moderately priced bottles of pinot noir if you are going to invest in this, if you don't have a lot of previous wine experience. I'm a whiskey drinker first and foremost, but I've polished off plenty of bottles of pinot over the years, and I think a lot of the interesting aspects of this whiskey would be lost on someone who didn't already have some wine background. Actually, this gets me thinking how Ardbeg might taste after some aging in a really robust red cask. Perhaps that is the magic that could take a project like this from good to magical. I gave myself a small pour of Uigeadail just to compare, and the peat is definitely toned down here compared to the Uigeadail. I also don't really get the classic Ardbeg smoked meat here, but it is front and center in the Uigeadail. It's a black sheep and it works, for sure, but I feel like it sacrifices some of it's origin to strike an interesting, milder balance.
Royal Lochnagar 12 Year (Game of Thrones-House Baratheon)
Single Malt — Highlands, ScotlandTastedMalty, grassy, floral nose. This is a fairly light whiskey- it's very grassy and floral. I get strong rose petals/floral, honey, lemon, with a bitter herb/grass aftertaste, but the floral and honey notes persist into the finish. The floral/honey elements are kinda surprising, as they are quite pronounced, and a bit unusual. This isn't particularly complex, but it's pleasantly drinkable.
The Balvenie The Week of Peat 14 Year
Peated Single Malt — Speyside, ScotlandTastedIn my previous review, I said that I wouldn't go out of my way to get this. I've changed my mind - this really is a fine whiskey. If you like smoke and you like sherried Speyside whiskeys, this is one of the the best examples of smokey highland whiskey on the market. It retails around $100 by me, and it's one of the better scotch whiskeys in the $80-$120 price range. I'd probably buy a bottle of Laphroaig Lore, Glenmorangie 18, or Old Pulteney 15 over this, but assuming that I already had those, (and I do ;) ), this is next on my list. The balance on this is quite good - if you like Balvenie and like smoke, definitely pick this up.
Bunnahabhain Toiteach A Dhà
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTastedThe nose has some smoke, but quite a bit of sweet sherry and brine. Perhaps a hint of vanilla. Decently smokey. I can taste the classic Bunnahabhain flavor behind the smoke, but it's a bit muted by peat and sherry, though I get some buttery shortbread. The sherry flavors here are sweet and raisiny. I get a bitter, vegetal, earthy aftertaste mixed with salt and ashy smoke. I think it's a decent whiskey, but the finish is a bit unusual and I can't decide if I like it or not. The ashy smoke lingers, which I like quite a bit, but I'm not as keen on the bitter vegetal note. I'll have to drink more and see if my opinion changes. I had a small pour of this, followed by a decent sized pour of Laphroaig Lore, followed by more of this which is what I'm actually reviewing. I'll have to revisit it some other night and just have it by itself.
The Balvenie Portwood 21 Year
Single Malt — Speyside, ScotlandTastedIt's hard to believe that this has never seen a sherry barrel from the nose - the port comes through sharply, but the nose is very nutty - almonds and walnuts - these must come from the bourbon barrels. The nose is quite powerful- I get red fruit, spice/char, hints of vanilla. The port finish is very apparent- I get the sweet red port flavor up front but it is very well balanced. The whiskey is very nutty and malty and is rounded out by the port. There is wood and more port in the finish, as well as orange peel, pepper, and cloves. This whiskey is very robust but the balance is perfect. The strength of the port does not take over the whiskey. This is very festive - I'd recommend it any time of the year, but it's particularly suited to fall, Thanksgiving and Christmas. It'd make an excellent accompaniment to a special holiday meal, with dessert, or as dessert. Just be ready to share it ;)
Mortlach 15 Year (Game of Thrones Six Kingdoms)
Single Malt — ScotlandTastedAt first sip this seemed fairly mellow but it's got some real bite and sharp edges. The nose is rich sherry, some salt, and some hints of the characteristic Mortlach sulfur. The taste is an interesting beast, it's deep sherry but there are some really interesting, but also characteristically Mortlach elements. This whiskey is briney and there are caramel/toffee notes. I also get cocoa. I also get some dates, which I associate with the classic Mortlach spirit. The Mortlach sulfur is in there as well. The brine is quite salty, but there is a smokiness such that reminds me a bit of smoking a cigar. There are also peppery elements as well. I also get an herbal, planty, fresh green wood flavor that I was not expecting. These flavors are not subtle, but they also come and go - it's like rocks under turbulent sea water, as the waves crash, certain flavors splash up for a time, reside but come back. This is really an interesting, robust, but complicated whiskey. It has a rich, long finish as well. It stands on it's own beyond the marketing gimmick. But it also has a mysterious character that seems fitting to the Three Eyed Raven. It's not a beginner whiskey, but it's a whiskey that could be accessible enough for a beginner to enjoy, particularly someone who had experienced a few of the other GoT branded whiskeys who determined that they actually liked scotch. It's definitely one of the standouts in the collection.
Laphroaig 10 Year
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTastedA friend of mine: It smells and tastes like burnt rubber! Me: I know, isn't it great??? A different friend: It's like smoke and really, really iodine-ey! Me: I know!!!!