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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Most Recent Whisky

Most Recent Whisky Review

Mortlach 12 year old

The nose on 43.4% expression is very floral with some wheaty breakfast biscuits and spicy notes.  The taste is very smooth with baked spiced apples (maybe even slightly burnt) caramel and honey.  The finish has some slow building heat along with some Bovril (salty / meaty) notes.  Reminded me of good Texas barbeque brisket with strong spice bark.  Overall a ittle too much burnt, salty and bitter notes with not enough sweetness to balance it for me. 

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  • Simon Seaton

    Simon Seaton

    Thursday, 29 December 2011 01:28

    Eagle Rare Single Barrel 10 year old

    Nose is soft (another review called it restrained which is a great descriptor) and at 45% ABV the alcohol can be detected as well as classic bourbon notes like vanilla and bubble gum.  Taste is smooth at first, quite a light mouth feel, with coffee, vanilla and a flash of corn syrup sweetness.  The finish builds with oak notes, black pepper and ends quite spicy.  I dont find the the sweet and spice quite in balance (for my palate).  Its good, clearly very well made bourbon that some people are going to love, but I would like the sweetness up to balance the spicy finish.  With a little water it does get a bit sweeter and I get some of the candy corn, caramel and even milk chocolate notes I associate with bourbons and ryes.
    Wednesday, 28 December 2011 03:29

    Scapa 16 year old

    I feel a bit sorry for Scapa.  Being the "other distillery" on Orkney, the little brother to the iconic Highland Park, can't be easy.   If this was a brand new distillery in England, or even Scotland, I have sneaky (and perhaps unhealthy) suspicion people would be raving about this light and vibrant spirit.  This expression comes at 40% ABV and the nose has fresh fruit notes, oranges and peach, even fresh paint, but not unpleasant.  More fruit and some perhaps biscuit notes in the taste, honeyed and smooth, slightly spicy and gingery finish with wood notes.  Overall this is bright and vibrant but quite light and perhaps not overly complex.  Not bad, but not great. If they are deliberately trying to be different to Highland Park (and who could blame them)... they succeeded.  
    Wednesday, 28 December 2011 03:18

    My Alfred Barnard Blend Project Part 3

    I quite liked my second version of the recipe and I have posted tasting notes under Reviews.  

    The nose has some malt and peat smoke.  This version is a bit more subdued than Blend #1,  The taste is still smooth and rich, orange maramalade and caramel notes.  The finish is spicy and long with tobacco and smoke.  With water the finish becomes a little more peppery.  Overall  this is still pretty hefty for a blend and my guess with just 25% grain most people would assume this is a single or perhaps a blended malt whisky.

    This version was more balanced than blend #1, but overall I think I will stick to drinking whisky and let the experts do the blending.  Those that can, do.  Those that can't, write blogs.

    Wednesday, 28 December 2011 03:07

    Alfred Barnard Blend #2

    This was the second whisky I blended using the Master of Malt Home Blending kit based on an Alfred Barnard recipe (see blog).  

    http://www.somanywhiskies.com/blog/item/172-my-alfred-barnard-blend-project-part-2

    The nose has some malt and peat smoke.  This version is a bit more subdued than Blend #1,  The taste is still smooth and rich, orange maramalade and caramel notes.  The finish is spicy and long with tobacco and smoke.  With water the finish becomes a little more peppery.  Overall  this is still pretty hefty for a blend and my guess with less than 20% grain most people would assume this is a single or perhaps a blended malt whisky. Overall this version was more balanced than blend #1, but overall I will stick to drinking whisky and let the experts do the blending.
    Tuesday, 27 December 2011 15:47

    My Alfred Barnard Blend Project Part 2

    I made up my blend as per the recipe in the previous blog entry and left it to "marry" in the flask provided as part of the kit (which I sealed with cling film) for about 8 hours.  With about 8 cl of total blend it was enough for my wife and I to taste and review.  The nose was quite salty and tangy, like sea spray (the Islay's clearly evident) and also quite peaty, but in an earthy rather than smokey way.  There was even a hint of maple syrup smoked bacon.  The taste was very smooth and sherry starts to come through, followed by spices like pepper and cinnamon.  There were also some sweet fruit notes, like a jam, but the kind of generic sweet red jam you might get in bed and breakfast.  There was some smoke in the finish and with a little water some oak notes also came through.  This was quite rich for a blend, but then this has only 25 % grain whisky, most blends today are probably closer to 50/50 grain to malt whisky, and I found the Islay influence dominant in the nose (even though it was less than 20% of the total ) but overall whisky was very drinkable and smooth.  Going to Master of Malt website if I was to make a bottle according to this recipe it would cost $83 for a 700 ml bottle and have an ABV of 40.75%.  Because I found the nose and taste a little disjointed I can only give this 2 stars and I will tweak recipe slightly.

     

    Barnard Blend Recipe #2:  Speyside single malt (1 ½ cl of sherry matured) and 1 cl old Speyside single malt,  1 ½ cl of Islay single malt,  1 ½ cl of Lowland single malt, ½  cl old Highland single malt (sherry finished), 1 cl of single grain and finally 1 cl of very, very old single grain.

    The idea here was to remove the very old Islay and increase the very, very old grain.  I also replaced the Highland with an old Highland sherry finished.  I will now blend this one and post a review.  I think this may balance out the nose and the taste but stay true to Alfred Barnard basic recipe. It also reduces price to $ 75 / 700 ml bottle and increases ABV to 41.1%.

    Monday, 26 December 2011 03:05

    Alfred Barnard Blend #1

    This is the blended whisky I made using the Master of Malt Home Blending Kit and discussed in my blog... http://www.somanywhiskies.com/blog/item/169-my-alfred-barnard-blend-project-part-1.  The nose was quite salty and tangy, like sea spray (the Islay's clearly evident) and also quite peaty, but in an earthy rather than smokey way.  There was even a hint of maple syrup smoked bacon.  The taste was very smooth and sherry starts to come through, followed by spices like pepper and cinnamon.  There were also some sweet fruit notes, like a jam, but the kind of generic sweet red jam you might get in bed and breakfast.  There was some smoke in the finish and with a little water some oak notes also came through.  This was quite rich for a blend, but then this has only 25 % grain whisky, most blends today are probably closer to 50/50 grain to malt whisky, and I found the Islay influence dominant in the nose (even though it was less than 20% of the total ) but overall whisky was very drinkable and smooth.  Going to Master of Malt website if I was to make a bottle according to this recipe it would cost $83 for a 700 ml bottle and have an ABV of 40.75%.  Because I found the nose and taste a little disjointed I can only give this version 2 stars.
    Monday, 26 December 2011 02:46

    Bruichladdich 12 year old Second Edition

    A delicious whisky full of flavor.  The nose has sweet malty vanilla notes, perhaps some salt and fruit as well.  A little prick of alcohol at 46% ABV as well.  The taste has a lot of vanilla, caramel and spices; pepper and cinnamon.  Some citrus and fruit notes (green apple?) as well, quite tart but not bitter.  Perhaps a little smoke in the spicy finish.  I think this stands up well to a little water, brings up the vanilla makes the mouth feel a little more creamy.  Not the richest whisky, but light and delicious, a great pre-dinner whisky. 
    Thursday, 22 December 2011 23:31

    My Alfred Barnard Blend Project Part 1

    Whisky buffs will know Alfred Barnard for his famous, and very collectable, book "The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom" written in the 19th century.  He also wrote another book called "How to Blend Scotch Whisky" for Mackie and Co and I found a reprint of that book in the Islay Museum of Islay Life in 2010 and it contained a recipe for blended whisky.  To quote the book: "We give an example of a blend that has been most popular both home and abroad.  Average age, seven years.  3 Glenlivets x 5 parts, 2 Islays x 3 parts, 2 Lowland malts x 3 parts, 1 Campbeltown x 1 part and 2 Grains x 4 parts".  Total = 16 parts.

    I had not thought much about this until Master of Malt began offering home blending kits and it occurred to me that I might be able to recreate this blend (or at least something close).   Rather than describe that kit in detail here is link to the webpage.... http://www.masterofmalt.com/whiskies/the-home-whisky-blending-kit/  I do have to make some substitutions, so I will use Speyside for Glenlivet and as there is no Campbeltown in the Master of Malt kit I will replace that with Highland malt.

    Barnard Blend Recipe:  Speyside single malt (1 ½ cl of sherry matured) and 1 cl old Speyside single malt,  1 cl of Islay single malt and ½  cl of very old Islay Single malt,  1 ½  cl of Lowland single malt, ½  cl Highland single malt, 1 ½  cl of single grain and finally ½  cl of very, very old single grain.

    If my mathematics are right that should be 8 cl (ie 16 x ½ cl parts) of blended whisky, which is enough for my wife and I to taste and write notes.  I received the blending kit (an early Christmas present to myself) this week and will make up the blend as above and review on my blog under Alfred Barnard Blend.   Happy Christmas everyone!

    Thursday, 22 December 2011 02:25

    Canadian Mist

    The nose has caramel, milk chocolate and vanilla, even creme brulee.  Sweet.  The taste has more of the sweet milk chocolate I often find in rye whiskies, vanilla and biscuits and but the finish fades quickly and leaves bitter coffee and stringent oak notes.   Goes from good to not so good really quickly.  For the price is it fine, but for a few bucks more if you can get the Forty Creek I would suggest you do.
    Thursday, 22 December 2011 02:11

    J&B Rare

    This has a light citric nose with perhaps some baked bread, biscuit and malt notes.  The taste is sweet, honeyed, smooth and light.  Perhaps apple juice and caramel and then a slight woody finish with wisp of smoke.  Very inoffensive, solid blend and a perfectly OK dram but lacks body and depth.  Everything in moderation and probably needs something to take charge.

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    Random Whisky

    GlenDronach Original 12 year old

    An interesting distillery making some great sherried single malts.   This is the "standard" expression and when I visited the distillery with my father in 2009 this is the bottle he bought.  The nose has orange peel, leather and oak.  The taste is smooth but intense, dundee marmalade, ginger cake, spices and the sherry comes through and morphs into the dry finish with some oak tingle and subtle cinnamon and pepper as well.  Rich and rewarding, definately worth seeking out.