Oban Distillers Edition
Peated Single Malt — Highlands, ScotlandReviewed March 1, 2022 (edited December 8, 2022)Chalk, faint smoke, green raisins, walnut, vanilla provide the aromas of this accessible dram which opens with sultanas, green apples, salted caramel, and earthy spices. The finish shifts sharply to brine and peat smoke which, while medium in length is mouth coating enough that eventually these notes will assume dominance as the sips continue.
High West Yippee Ki-Yay
Rye — USAReviewed February 11, 2022High West was unabashed in showcasing the vermouth on this whiskey. Further still, they made the correct decision and went with a rye blend that would lean on a robust citrus and rye profile, in contrast to more herbal blends, in order to marry well with the secondary casking. The nose has plum jam, hawthorn, nutmeg, ground cinnamon, mulled apple juice, orange peel, faint and red licorice while the palate has orchard fruit, medium oak, black pepper, and new leather. At last in the finish the vermouth relents completely and punchy rye spice and barrel char with an excellent core warming take hold. Finish is sustained with lingering notes of nutmeg, clove, and slight brown raisins. After a minute it still sings with the barrel char being the last note remaining. The most ready comparison is its more muscular brother, A Midwinter Night's Dram. I once described it as "tasting like Christmas." Yippee-Ki-Yay may not taste like Christmas but it's definitely sometime in Advent.
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandReviewed February 10, 2022Light peat, animal crackers, ginger candy, vanilla cream, and lemon cookies marry in a subtle yet enticing nose. In the palate, it's a peated Bunnahabhain: not as muscular as the distilleries on the southern end of Islay but still the star of the show. It's a peppery, briny peat that brings deep coastal air, seaweed, and grilled fish together with biscuits, custard, and citrus fruits. The finish is long with the peat finally assuming total control, ending its dominance with a long, salty sustain.
Roger Groult Calvados 12 Year
Calvados — Calvados Pays d'Auge, FranceReviewed July 14, 2021Nose consists of unspiced baked green apples, pears, kale, baked vanilla, and a clean note, not unlike fresh linens. In the palate there's spice at last, beginning with well cooked baking spice and candied fruit. There are steeped flowers and white grape notes, lemon, and beeswax. Finish is medium with spiced apple, acidic white grapes, and meringue. Appealing, although it feels like it needs a bit more panache.
Laphroaig Cairdeas 2020 Port & Wine Casks
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandReviewed June 20, 2021There's rubber, slow roasted char along with cooked vanilla, cooked coconut, and pine nuts. Subdued are the fruit notes which come across as a fresh strawberry note, bright cherries, and fleeting hibiscus. Underemphasized relative to other Laphroaigs are the medicinal, vegetable notes and more astringent smoke notes. It is smoky, of course, but this is a smooth char, not a viscous tar or asphalt flavor. Nor do seaweed or kale feature. In the palate there's pickled pear, smoked brisket, vanilla, more of that clean char, heather, rose hips, and pepper steak. What really dominates however is the brine. I mean this is one salty Laphroaig. Indeed, if I lined up every Laphroaig I've had (and I've had quite a few), and did a vertical, this might be my pre-matchup favorite to win the brine competition. This could give Morton's a run for its money. What doesn't feature is fruit. It isn't the 2013 Cairdeas Port Wood or Brodir or the travel exclusive Port Wood Finish. It's barely had any time in the casks at all. Indeed, I almost feel like I might have thought better of this if they hadn't pushed this as being a "Port & Wine Casks" Cairdeas and just named it "Salt Lick." That and the rubber. It tastes like someone peeled out in the middle of a salt flat and you licked the tire. Granted, if you are bizarre enough to enjoy Laphroaig, as I am, that isn't entirely bad. It just doesn't have pronounced fruit notes. As for the finish, it's soot, brine, black tea, a bit of marmalade, and a lingering smoke. It's not terribly complex, although the soot and brine are still delightful in their own right. It isn't sweet but this would likely go well with caramels. It feels like it's just demanding to turn a confectionary into something savory. The roof of my mouth is a briny treasure trove. I thought I might have gotten some pink grapefruit at one point but I may have been hallucinating. As far as the Cairdeas line-up, here's how I'd rank them: 2013 Port Wood (there will never be another like it, I'm afraid) 2018 Fino 2015 200th Anniversary 2014 Amontillado 2016 Madeira 2020 Port & Wine 2017 Cask Strength Quarter Cask 2019 Cask Strength Triple Wood
Hazelburn 13 Year Oloroso Cask Matured
Single Malt — Campbeltown, ScotlandReviewed 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, ScotlandReviewed 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 CountriesReviewed August 25, 2020 (edited October 28, 2020)A 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 — JamaicaReviewed August 25, 2020 (edited November 28, 2020)The 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 Sherry Single Cask Whisky
Other Whiskey — Kumamoto, JapanReviewed August 22, 2020 (edited August 23, 2020)The 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.