Hazelburn 13 Year Oloroso Cask Matured
Single Malt — Campbeltown, ScotlandTasted September 4, 2020The nose has smoked bacon, dried apricots, lemongrass, dememara, a whiff of bouillon, and fleeting cardamon. The oloroso cask influence here veers heavily on the older side with most of the fruit notes subdued in exchange for meaty contributions. In the palate, there's heather, fruitcake, wood polish, nutty barley, brine, lightly burnt toast, and blood oranges. Sherry spice comes in on the finish, along with some clove, tapioca, seaweed, pink peppercorn, golden syrup, and tangy citrus. It's rather dry overall and can get a bit busy, but each successive sip brings new flavors into the fold. Indeed, if I wrote a review of this once a day every day until the bottle was gone, I doubt I would ever have a few tasting notes shared across each review. It's that complex! Truly an exceptional dram.
Glenfarclas 12 Year
Single Malt — Highlands, ScotlandTasted August 31, 2020Nose is sweet with loads of baked goodies such as raisin bran, vanilla custard, creme de leche, nutter butters, marmalade, baklava, and dried fruit. The palate has barley sugar, meringue, brown raisins, toasted oak, and a bit of unsweetened preserves. There's a sharp turn at the finish, with a burst of dark honey, barrel spice, and an especially punchy note of caramel apple using a particularly tangy apple. Really interesting easy sipper.
Papa's Pilar Sherry Finish Dark Rum
Dark Rum — Multiple CountriesTasted August 25, 2020A big confectionery medley consisting of tiramisu, Boston creme pie, and cherry cordials bursts on the nose. Am I in a bakery? There's sweet tobacco, not unlike some Navy style cavendish, Muscovado sugar, and sweet oak coming in as well, but this rum is all about the desserts. The palate adds vanilla, red berries, orange, pancake batter, and maple syrup. There's even some Neapolitan ice cream--all scrambled together. It rounds out with dark caramel in the finish along with chocolate milk and the most enormous fudge note imaginable (seriously, it's the exact note as chocolate pudding Jelly Bellies). Better yet, jostling the spirit in your mouth evinces flavors even more bountiful! All that flavor...and it's almost like they were asleep, needing someone to come and stir them from their slumber. Absolutely sublime!
Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12 Year Rum
Aged Rum — JamaicaTasted August 25, 2020The nose is ripe with cooked bananas, molasses, orange rind, and a bit of burnt sugar. The later isn't off-putting, in part because it is so fleeting. There are additional burnt notes, sugar and wood, but these are in the palate. There, cooked tropical fruit (particularly plantains), medium oak, tapioca, custard, and a bit of toffee join the fray. As the palate yields to the finish, a very unique note manages the transition: an herbal burnt molasses tinge. After it relents, more cooked plantains, a bit of allspice, and brown cola finish out the lot.
Ohishi Single Sherry Cask
Other Whiskey — Kumamoto, JapanTasted August 22, 2020The sherry is semi-sweet, with more emphasis on cooked vegetables, dried stone fruits, herbal tea, medicinal cherry, and cooked cereal. It's complex, yet restrained--gentle even. In the palate, there's more cherry, vanilla, cooked nuts, raspberry, and green tea. However, the finish is where it gets interesting. Here the rice takes hold and a characteristic sake element emerges. There's dry plum wine and some mulling spices, but the rice note is very distinctive. Mouthfeel is light and finish is medium-short, but smooth.
Fukano Sherry Cask Limited Edition
Other Whiskey — Kumamoto, JapanTasted August 21, 2020Sticky sweet plums, sweetened raisins, sultanas, buttery, blackberries, leather, creme brulee, and faint stewed vegetables on the nose leave little doubt of the sweet digestif character of this dram. In the palate, there's a full, creamy mouthfeel dominated by dark fruits, dark candi syrup, light roast coffee, butterscotch, and more leather. Here is where the whiskey shines and shows its uniqueness. The rice is not so pronounced in the flavor, but the transformation in the viscosity is dramatic. This is a thick, creamy whiskey! It's almost a syrup, coating and full-bodied. There's a drying sensation on the finish, which marries with baking spice and more dark fruit to leave a long, flavorful finish that allows just the right amount of warming to round this whisky out.
Laphroaig Cairdeas 2017 Cask Strength Quarter Cask Edition
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTasted August 19, 2020Laphroaig Cairdeas 2017 Cask Strength Quarter Cask may be the first Cairdeas line that actually disappoints. The regular Quarter Cask Laphroaig was actually my entry point into peated scotches and, as such, has been a perennial favorite, an old friend. I've had the dram numerous times and, naturally, had high expectations for the cask strength variation. Nose is meringue with soft vanilla, restrained peat, heather, Bisquick, and tapioca. Overall, it isn't all that eventful. The palate steps up: moderate brine, campfire smoke, seaweed, citrus cleaner, and a fading hospital rubber on the finish which sticks to the smoke and brine. There is a bit of ash and it is, indeed, quite smooth. However, the flavor complexity just isn't there. Nor does the finish linger for days like the regular Quarter Cask. Addition of water doesn't open it up much either. It somehow, strangely, has less pizzazz than the bottling that has been cut!
Castarède Armagnac Réserve de la Famille
Armagnac — Bas-Armagnac, FranceTasted July 27, 2020Nose contains plum, vanilla, buttered toast, and nougat. In the palate, there's leather, mid range caramels, nutmeg, oak, and mandarines. The finish is where it gets quite interesting. Rancio comes forward, gently, with a faint musty and cooked fruit note. There's overcooked biscuits, shoe polish, and a slight creamy note not unlike whey. It's impeccably smooth with a medium finish and lingering bit of jam on the roof of the mouth.
Laphroaig QA Cask
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTasted May 25, 2020Easily the most underwhelming Laphroaig I have ever had. The nose is thin with a bit of lemon pepper, leafy greens, vanilla, green chiles, and slight brine. It's Laphroaig, but an ashamed stepchild version of Laphroaig. The palate is even more underwhelming: a touch of campfire, some ginger, pear, and not much else. It's smooth on the finish...that's it's one redeeming quality. There's a bit of briny campfire smoke, but overall it's quite thin. Not offensive in any respect but completely forgettable. Other than the uniqueness of the label (with it being a traveler's exclusive), there is no reason to ever buy this bottle.
Glenglassaugh Port Wood Finish
Single Malt — Highland, ScotlandTasted May 24, 2020Herbal wood and berries on the nose meet with cereal and Indian gum to give a rich, yet soft air that beckons the partaker in with promises of a complex tale of fruit married with Highland whisky. In the palate, allspice, cayenne, vanilla cream, grapefruit, citrus zest and dance gracefully before a lingering honey, raspberry jam, dry oak, and a lingering pepper warm subside. There's much here to contemplate: full yet not overpowering, rich yet subtle, and gentle. It's a whisky of grace and poise which, in an almost supernatural manner, seems almost the perfect dram for a rainy spring day.