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  1. Jameson 12 Year Special Reserve

    Blended — Ireland

    Tasted
    4.0
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    This is a discontinued expression. I overpaid for it out of sheer curiosity. Ex-bourbon and ex-olorosso. 40%. Obviously it's a 12-year old, though Distiller claims it contains stock as old as 17 years. Nose: Heavy on the roasted almonds. Some chestnut and walnut as well. Plenty of pecan to boot. Vanilla and caramel. Nutmeg and clove spice, along with a ton of black pepper. Ever so slightly grainy and metallic, but the malt component dominates here. Raisin, honey, and toffee. Date and fig. Big-time lemon citrus. Some apple, pear, honeydew, and apricot. Solid nose. Palate. Roasted almonds persist, and right off the bat. The walnut, chestnut, and pecan also be found. That goes for the vanilla and caramel as well. Wider array of fruit notes here. Red apple, pear, apricot, grapefruit, honeydew, strawberry, and some white grape. More toffee and honey. Again, a great deal of black pepper. The palate ups the fruit presence and drops the spice besides the black pepper. Well done here. Finish: A bit of the roasted almond and black pepper carry over from the palate, and then it's all vanilla, honey, apple, and pear. Somewhere between medium and short in length, which is surprising for a 40%'er. I quite like this one. 4 stars flat. That puts it tied with Cooper's Croze for best my highest-rated Jameson expression. Head and shoulders above the similarly-priced Jameson Gold. This one has plenty to offer from start to finish, and has a unique profile for an Irish whiskey. Barely metallic on the nose, and that disappears altogether upon taste. No shortbread cookie, which I get on 9/10 Irish whiskies. It's a blend, but the malt component dominates. So, there's plenty to like here. At $100, is it worth it? Probably not. But I don't regret buying it. This and the Jameson Gold were discontinued around the same time. The latter was only $5 cheaper, meaning that these two are comparable on paper. If I could only save one of the two, I'd choose this in a heartbeat. At $100, I can't guarantee it's worth the price of entry. But if curiosity is enough, this one delivers.
    100.0 USD per Bottle
  2. Glenfiddich 15 Year Solera Reserve

    Single Malt — Speyside, Scotland

    Tasted
    4.0
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    On the heels on my review of the 12 year, I think now is a good time to tackle its older brother. The 15-year Solera. On an interesting concept; as a result a good portion of this juice is well older than 15 years old. Ex-bourbon, ex-sherry, virgin oak. Let's check it out. Nose: Heavy vanilla, caramel, and orange citrus. Honey, toffee, ginger, and oak. Classic Fiddich apple, pear, and apricot, kiwi, and floral notes. Graham cracker and walnut. Some golden raisin and white grape, but otherwise, not a huge sherry presence. Maybe a bit of cranberry. The Bourbon cask definitely exerts the most prominent influence on the nose. I read French Toast on the internet. Not my note, but it it's undeniable that's there. Good start. Palate: It's a fruit bowl. Apple, pear, orange, plum, apricot, golden raisin, fig, date, cranberry, white and red grape. A lot going on there. A bit of cola and some chewy caramel. I'm getting some those raspberry-flavored Valentine's chocolates (don't even know what else to call it). Big toffee, big malt, plenty of vanilla and oak. The sherry and bourbon oak share the load this time around. I've got little experience with Virgin Oak, so I'm going to leave that out of my analysis. Good stuff. Finish: Some dark fruit (cranberry, date, fig, raisin), coupled with vanilla and toffee. More of the apple, pear, and kiwi. A bit of a cinnamon and oak kick. It's somewhere between short and moderate length, leaning toward the latter. Not all that long, but there's plenty of complexity while it lasts. Another 4 star outing for Glenfiddich. To me, they offer a very consistent product. But as long as they're bottling at 40%, they'll never crack the threshold that divides very good and great. The 14 remains the best of the age-stated GFs I've tried, and, no coincidence, it's bottled at 43%. Honestly, I think all of these could use a 3% bump to really achieve their potential. While they cut corners on the proof here, they certainly did not hold back on the aged-stock. The Solera aging method works wonders here. It's a refined yet flavorful expression; I think the interplay between multiple generations of malt makes for a fantastic product. Great job here Glendfiddich; I doubt you'll ever increase the ABV on your products because, ultimately, the bottom line rules. So I've heard. At any rate, thanks for a solid bottle.
    68.0 USD per Bottle
  3. Booker's Bourbon Batch 2016-02 "Annis' Answer"

    Bourbon — Kentucky, USA

    Tasted
    5.0
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    If you follow my reviews, you probably know that I am a huge Booker's fan. My infatuation with this line dates back to 2016, when I first grabbed a bottle from this very batch. Back then, it was a $55 bottle, and I could only drink this stuff on the rocks. Boy, have things changed. Let's see just how much they have. Quick stats: This is the second batch of 6 from 2016. Clocks in at 63.35% ABV, aged for 6 years, 2 months, and 1 day. Nose: Heavy caramel and peanut brittle. Vanilla, cola, brown sugar, cocoa, and hazelnut. Cherry emerges after the glass rests for a 10-15 minutes. Some orange peel, as well. The oak and baking spices are monstrous here. Cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and allspice. It's a potent aroma, but the alcohol is well-hidden. Promising start. Palate: More chewy caramel and peanut brittle. Hot fudge, carrot cake, sweet vanilla, and brown sugar. More of the cherry; it's sort of artificial, almost reminiscent of a Shirley Temple. Plenty of chestnut and oak. A touch of orange peel. And of course, more of those baking spices: cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. Dessert sweetness paired with heavy spice and prominent oak. High-octane and highly-complex. Finish: Black tea and tobacco. Black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. Some vanilla and caramel mixed in along the way. Long as they make them. And as hot as they make them too--the finish is not for the faint of heart. But if you handle the heat, it's a hell a way to cap off an unbelievable pour. Another 5-star performance from the Booker's line. I don't know what else to say. Even hiked up from $55 to $85 after all these years, I'd say this was well worth the cost. I opened it a couple months ago, and while it was good then, it has become simply incredible with some oxidation. My ability to withstand the heat allows me to appreciate this infinitely more than I could back in 2016. I think there are two overarching Booker's flavor profiles/mouth feels. There are the moist, syrupy bottlings, and there the dry, spicy, and woody expressions. Annis' Answer definitely abides by the rule of the latter. Though, I'd argue that it's the sweetest of those that I've tried, pulling it closer to the middle of the spectrum. If you're looking for a more recent point of comparison for the finish, think Kentucky Chew from 2018. It's an aromatic flavor-bomb with an absolute scorcher of a finish. It offers everything I love about the Booker's line, with a presentation that is uniquely its own. If you're lucky enough to stumble upon one of these here in 2020, I highly recommend that you pony up and pull the trigger. Phenomenal stuff.
    85.0 USD per Bottle
  4. Glenfiddich 12 Year

    Single Malt — Speyside, Scotland

    Tasted
    4.0
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Last time I checked, Glenfiddich 12 was the number one single malt in the world. Maybe it's been surpassed, but I doubt it. As for me, I think this has been my #1 purchase over the years. This was one of my gateway Scotches, and has always been one of the better options for under $50. This is the old packaging (not the one pictured). Let's check it out. Nose: Fruity and floral. Green apple, pear, apricot, strawberry, nectarine, lemon, and raisin. A true fruit bomb. Definitely some green, grassy notes. Creamy custard, vanilla frosting, honey, graham cracker, toffee, roasted peanuts, almonds, and chestnut. Baking spices and oak. Solid nose. Palate: A bit more sherry influence than the nose. Some plum and cola in addition to the raisin from before. Still some apple, pear, apricot, and lemon. Not quite as fruity as before. The bourbon barrel also shows up in the form of caramel and vanilla. Some honey, toffee, and malt. Walnut and almond. Oak and char. Once again, very nice. Finish: Despite being 40% ABV, this one stretches to a medium length finish. The apple and pear are still there, as well as the lemon citrus. A touch of cinnamon, black pepper, and some other baking spices. I might get some heat for this one, but I'm giving this a 4.0. Perhaps it's sentimentalism or maybe it's just good VFM. Either way, I really like this one. Great VFM, enough flavor to please. Over the past few years, the price on this has risen a buck every 6-12 months. I used to get this for $43, now I get it for $48. And this is before tariffs warp the pricing. With that being said, VFM heavily impacts my reviews, and this is one of my favorites sub-$50. Highly recommended to any beginner. Great whisky to have on hand for guests. And substantially better than the other "Glen 12" that sits at this price point. Cheers!
    48.0 USD per Bottle
  5. Old Pulteney 12 Year

    Single Malt — Highlands, Scotland

    Tasted
    4.0
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    This is the "old" Old Pulteney 12. The one that came in the tube, as opposed to the new release which comes in a box. Pulteney has claimed the juice has remained the same, but there is plenty of information on the internet that supports the contrary. For one, the color is different. And, apparently, so is the taste. Not to mention, my bottle is at 43% ABV as opposed to the listed 40%. At any rate, I've got no basis for comparison. But I have had a bottle of this previously, and I enjoyed it. Let's see if it holds up a couple years later. Nose: Apple, pear, apricot, orange, banana, and white grape. Honey, vanilla, toffee, and marshmallow. Definitely a sweet one. Less salt than I remember. There is some salted caramel. Some floral notes and oak notes. Not a hint of alcohol. It's easy-going but enjoyable. Palate: The fruit notes transfer to the palate: apple, pear, apricot, orange, banana, and white grape. Now with lemon. Big malt notes, as well as vanilla and toffee. Some chestnut and almond. Salted caramel and sea salt... there's the salt. Butterscotch and honey. Shortbread cookie. Green, grassy notes. It's very similar to the nose, with a couple added notes. The major addition is salt. It's a nice one. Finish: Baking spices. Sea salt, cinnamon, black pepper, clove, and nutmeg. Big oak. Some of that shortbread cookie and vanilla. Citrus is prevalent. Nuts as well. Above average in length, which is impressive for a whisky at 43%. This is an easy sipper, but not a boring. Its coastal qualities distinguish it from the standard Highland profile. It's a nice change of pace to find pronounced maritime qualities in a non-peated malt. This whisky finds a great niche in the vast landscape of Scottish whisky. If you can still find this expression in its old-style incarnate, grab it. It's one of the cheaper single malts; yet, it's one of the better flagship bottlings out there. Unfortunately, it seems OP has decided to tamper with the secret formula. The Distiller score plummeted from a 95 to an 84. And the internet's whisky experts almost unanimously agree. Don't fix it if it ain't broke. Is that a cliche or a fundamental truth? I lean toward the latter. I haven't tried the new 12-year, so I won't condemn it. But I will say this. This has everything you could ever ask of a sub-$50 bottle. Money truly well-spent. Pulteney: as a wise man once told me: "Don't blow it." Solid stuff.
    49.0 USD per Bottle
  6. Talisker 18 Year

    Peated Single Malt — Islands, Scotland

    Tasted
    5.0
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    If Talisker isn't my favorite distillery, it's right up there. I formed that opinion after years of drinking the 10-year and never having the opportunity to try anything else. Now, after having had a couple variations, I think that opinion holds true more than ever. Nose: Briny as they come; just what I expect of Talisker. Big seaweed, big sea salt. The ocean spray from a wave hitting the coastline displayed on the packaging could not be more fitting. Lighter on the smoke and peat, but still present. Honey, vanilla, toffee, malt, and a bit of milk chocolate. Roasted almonds and salted caramel. Orange and pineapple citrus. Amazing oak touch of oak. Some apple and pear, as well as marshmallow and jelly. I could go all day with this one. Superb. Palate: More of those briny, sea salt, ocean spray notes. Peat and smoke are ramped up, but are still at medium intensity. Some savory meaty notes, as well as big caramel and milk chocolate. More apple, pear, orange, and pineapple. Vanilla, honey, and toffee. Honeydew and cantaloupe now as well. Beautiful oak once again. And the peat hits at the mid-palate. It's still not particularly smoky, but instead it's that black bean, red-pepper chili I've now come to associate with Talisker. Baking spices to boot: black pepper, cinnamon especially. Phenomenal. Finish: Spice bomb. Sea salt, cinnamon, and black pepper. The chili is all in tact. Ginger makes an appearance. A healthy dose of oak. Vanilla fills in the cracks to bring what makes for a very long finish to a satisfying conclusion. Absolute winner. Didn't even have to check the stats before awarding this a 5/5. This is one of the best whiskies I've ever had. Talisker doesn't provide a large pool of offerings, but everything they do have is stellar at worst. As a whole, the Islands can hold their own with Islay. There is plenty to see here. Talisker 18 is quite easily one of the best bottles I've ever owned, and I'd urge any Scotch fanatic to buy without hesitation. It artfully tows the line between the world of intense coastal peat and the realm of eloquent, layered, and balanced malt. Well done, Talisker.
    130.0 USD per Bottle
  7. Ardbeg Uigeadail

    Peated Single Malt — Islay, Scotland

    Tasted
    5.0
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    It's hard to call yourself a peat-head if you've yet to review this one. It's about damn time I got around to it. This is one of the two high-octane releases in Ardbeg's core range (along with the Corry). It's one of the most highly-touted whiskies from Islay's holy trinity. Let's get into it. Nose: Big peat, big smoke. Campfire smoke, iodine, and a touch of band-aid. @Generously_Paul told me to look for a tennis ball note in Laphroaig. I've yet to test that with a Laphroaig, but I do find that in this one. There's also sea salt and brine. Lemon and grapefruit citrus. Black pepper spice. Creamy custard notes. Some smoked meat. Vanilla, berries, and roasted chestnuts. Small bit of sulphur and tar. I'm not going to try to guess which flower, but I'm getting April flowers. If I didn't stop here, I don't know that I ever would. Stunning nose. Palate: Peat, campfire smoke, iodine, sea salt, sulfur, and brine. Classic Islay. Lemon, lime, and grapefruit. Beacon and brisket, maybe some ribs. Loving the char. The sherry is in full force here. Double chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream. With a cherry on top. Some of the dry red fruits on the mid-palate. Sherry-cask aging manifests very differently in peated whiskies, and it's absolutely amazing when the two are working in tandem. As is the case here. Black pepper, cinnamon, and some heavy-hitting chili. Honey, graham cracker, and marshmallow. Once again, I feel like I'm missing a lot, but it should suffice to say that I'm very impressed. Finish: Beast of a finish. Starts off with some residual sulfur and band-aid notes. A bit of dried fruit takes the forefront before the black pepper, cinnamon, and oak notes take over to deliver the tail end of a very long finish. 5/5. I could cut this review right here, but I'll say a couple quick things. This is one of the best peated whiskies I've ever had. One of the most complex. Easily one of the best VFM purchases. And, like Laphroaig Lore, Oogie embodies the true spirit of whisky. It has a bit of everything a die-hard whisky fanatic could hope to find a single bottling. Heavily-peated, near-cask strength, bourbon and sherry barrel aging. And the sum is much greater than the parts. Up next is the Corryvreckan. Between the two, I've had a terribly difficult time deciding which I prefer. So when it's time to write that review, I'll reveal my choice. But for the time being, I'll conclude that this is simply amazing juice. Hell of a job, Ardbeg, here's to you.
    85.0 USD per Bottle
  8. GlenDronach Original 12 Year

    Single Malt — Highlands, Scotland

    Tasted
    4.5
    4.5 out of 5 stars
    Relatively unknown by the general public, but well-respected within the whisky community. Here we've got the flagship bottling of one of what I consider to be one of Scotland's premier distilleries. While it may be second-tier in terms of popularity and distribution, this does not reflect the quality of the distillery's product. Nose: Sherry notes. Cola, poundcake, plum, cranberry. Maraschino cherry. Unique lime citrus note. The fig, date, and raisin notes that I expect of a sherry-aged whisky are there, but they are very subdued compared to other sherry-aged malts. Toffee, honey, and vanilla. Plenty of baking spices. No alcohol. Leather and sawdust. The last one is a weird note, but I don't mind it. Solid start. Palate: More plum, poundcake, and cola. The lime is now more like key lime pie. Red fruit. In addition to the plum, there's cherry, strawberry, raspberry, and cranberry. Still toffee, honey, and vanilla. Sweet and jammy. Slight leather note. There's a healthy dose of oak, but no spice. Rich red fruit and zesty lime are the key points here. Finish: The plum and cola carryover, until there are replaced by the spice, which is finally present. Cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. And some more oak. Medium length. I hear that this stuff used to have stock aged well beyond 12 years. I've also heard that this stuff was much better when Billy Walker was running the show. Well, I can only imagine how good that must've been, because I think this iteration of GD 12 is fantastic. My personal favorite sherried 12-year. Strong from start to finish. Respectable ABV and age statement. Great quality. I'm sold on this stuff. Good for a beginner or an experienced drinker, and it's sure to convert any beginner from Macallan. At my local store, Glendronach dropped from $60 to $54, while the standard Mac 12 jumped from $53 to $63. All within the last year. So this may not win the popularity contest, but, for me, it emerges as the best 12 year-old sherry-aged single malt coming out of Scotland. Which is a very deep category. And that's whether you consider VFM or not. Awesome stuff, GD.
    54.0 USD per Bottle
  9. Bushmills Black Bush

    Blended — Ireland

    Tasted
    3.5
    3.5 out of 5 stars
    Ah, Bushmills. The proverbial forgotten middle brother of the major Irish whiskey trio. On par with Jameson and Tully, and at times, the best of the three. Yet it gets a fraction of the love and repute. Here, we have the Black Bush, which is basically Bushmill's answer to Jameson Black Barrel. Let's see how it stacks up. Nose: Big on the fruit. Pear, apple, strawberry, raspberry, and orange. Vanilla, honey, frosting, malt, and toffee. A sweet one for sure, with very pronounced sherry notes. More malty than grainy, but I'm still getting some of the cereal notes. Shortbread cookie; an Irish standard. Slightly metallic. Not a trace of alcohol. Palate: More fruit. Pear, apple, apricot, and orange. Still some of the red fruit. Cranberry, raspberry, strawberry. More of the vanilla, honey, and frosting. Some caramel and graham cracker. Shortbread cookie, malt and toffee. Walnut, cashew, and almond. Still slightly metallic, but it's even less prevalent here. Some cinnamon and baking spice. Finish: Fairly short. Red fruit lingers, until it is replaced by cinnamon, baking spices, and oak. Oak presence is at its strongest during the finish. And it's over in a flash. I've always liked this one. I think this one can go toe-to-toe with Jameson Black Barrel. At every level. And it's a few bucks cheaper to boot. Both are decent, youngish, sherry cask-aged Irish whiskies that are easy on the wallet. Like the Black Barrel, this gets a 3.5 for me. At $35, it's a solid value. Other than the low ABV, short finish, and slight metallic notes, there's a lot to like here. It's sweet, easy-drinking Irish blend that seems to me to have a respectable malt-to-grain ratio. Good offering from Bushmills. Keep these guys in mind as St. Paddy's Day draws near.
    35.0 USD per Bottle
  10. Sagamore Spirit Straight Rye

    Rye — Indiana (bottled in Maryland), USA

    Tasted
    2.75
    2.75 out of 5 stars
    Sagamore Spirit. While it may be sourced from MGP, it seems that they do their own blending and finishing (the former of which applies to this one). While they may not be putting out their own stock just yet, it seems that the Maryland-based distillery is aging their own distillate and well inevitably have its own product, from start to finish, out on the market. For now, let's take a look at the current, MGP-sourced base product. Nose: Standard "bready" notes that I often find in ryes. Obviously rye bread, but also a bit of sourdough. Some apple cider, gala apple notes. Black pepper, nutmeg, and allspice. Dill pickle and spearmint. Hints of pistachio and vanilla. Some roasted nut.Greenish, cedar notes. It's mild but enjoyable. Balanced as opposed to sweet or spicy. Palate: Caramel and vanilla. Black licorice. More of those apple notes, now accompanied by apricot. Still bready and green. Dill pickle. A bit sour, but nothing that I would consider off putting just a touch in that direction. Maybe even a bit of orange citrus. Cherry, ginger, and honey. There's a good amount going on here. Finish: Short kick of spice. There's more of the rye breadiness and then a quick burst of cinnamon, black pepper, nutmeg, and clove. Suffers from a lack of ABV, as it's gone as quickly as it hits. Calling it short-medium would be generous. Tough one to score. I think this was designed to be a background sipper. If that's the case, they certainly hit their mark. It's just unique enough to be noteworthy, but isn't exactly an attention-grabber. At 41.5% ABV, I think it's safe to say they were going for a more subtle approach. Subtle it is. And while I very much enjoy this whiskey for what it is, I don't score these types of drams all too high. This is the Michelob Ultra of rye whiskey. And I'm not on a diet. While the nose and palate are surprisingly enjoyable, there is virtually no finish here. The Maryland whiskey scene is the Wild West as far as I'm concerned. Pikesville is now distilled at Heaven Hill, and Sagamore's portfolio is technically Indiana whiskey. I remember trying the Sagamore Port Finish at a tasting; and I remember being impressed. Will have to try again. And while I give this 2.75 stars for now, I must say that I'd be willing to give them another go with the Port Finish. As for this, it's decent whiskey but nothing to go out of your way to try.
    37.0 USD per Bottle
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