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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

    Saturday, 17 December 2011 00:51

    Another Lost Whisky Rediscovered in 2011

    Looking back, one of my favorite whisky memories of 2011 was the amazing find of a whisky many thought was lost to the world.   I am not talking about the Shackleton stuff found in Antarctica, but the much more elusive and rare Hennigan's Scotch Whisky.  Made famous by the Seinfeld TV show in the 1990's and then believed to be lost in a cupboard under the sink for over 15 years, Hennigan's was rediscovered in October 2011 by www.scotchcinema.com.  I thought I would end 2011by reviewing this very unusual and hard to find scotch and in many ways I feel this should be the whisky of the year.
    I often write tasting notes with my wife, but this time I had some help from my friends Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer.    The nose is very soft and muted, in fact according to Jerry "I can't smell anything".    However the taste is appealing, as Kramer described it best; "that is damn good stuff" and the finish, well again Kramer put it much better than I can, "mmm boy, that Hennigan's goes down smooth".  Overall impression is best summed up by Elaine as "I'll tell you, it's not bad".  However Hennigan's is definitely not for everyone, unfortunately George "threw up from the Hennigan's" so I am afraid, due the lack of nose and the unfortunate throwing up aspect, I can only give it 1 star.   http://www.somanywhiskies.com/reviews/item/157-hennigans
    Wednesday, 14 December 2011 18:44

    Laphroaig Quarter Cask

    I first tried this expression on Islay and it is certainly my favorite Laphroaig so far.  The nose is quite earthy and peaty (rather than smokey) also some sea spray and salty notes and some rich fruit.  The taste also has peat and of course the famous (or infamous) Laphroaig medicinal notes but I think more subdued in this expression.  There is also some sweetness like toffee, candied fruits, even chocolate.  The finish is dry and quite tannic, with black tea and pepper.  Very good.  If you don't like the standard Laphroaig 10 year old try this one.  
    Wednesday, 14 December 2011 18:43

    Ardbeg Alligator

    Also tasted this at Ardbeg Committee meeting in Houston and it was certainly my favorite of the night and perhaps now my favorite Ardbeg.  Will definitely be coming back to this again if I can find it.  The nose has wood smoke rather than peat, lemon peel and is quite sweet but has the tang of salt and even phenol as well.  The taste is very smooth, with lots of sweet fruit and spicy notes.  The finish is oak and drying with peat and smoke.  With a little water I get some lemon notes come through as well.  This has everything, sweetness, spices, oak, peat and all in balance.  Rich and complex this is a special dram. 
    Wednesday, 14 December 2011 18:41

    Ardbeg Corryvrecken

    Tasted this at an Ardbeg Committee meeting in Houston in December 2011, and will revisit for more detailed tasting notes in the future but was perhaps my least favorite in the Ardbeg range (which I love but someone has to be last).  This has a high ABV at 57.1% and I found the nose dominated by alcohol at first and then the peat comes through.  Alcohol also dominates the taste at first, before the balancing sweetness and fruit I associated with Ardbeg can be found.   It is quite smokey in the finish but not hugely complex, I even got some new make spirit type notes.  With a little water the alcohol is subdued and some more subtle chocolate and spice notes are there.  For my palate I just feel there are better Ardbeg options out there.

    Wednesday, 14 December 2011 18:39

    Glenmorangie The Original

    A classic and accessible single malt, but as I say about many others in that category, that is NOT intended as a criticism but a compliment.  The nose is sweet with citrus fruit and vanilla.  The taste is quite light, creamy with orange, peach and licorice and the finish is quite nutty, dry and crisp, oak wood notes and even some smoke.  Not massively complex or deep but still a great whisky.

    Tuesday, 13 December 2011 15:29

    Baker's

    The nose has caramel, vanilla, bubble gum maybe and some wood notes.  In the taste the oak comes through, along with some mint, spices and pepper for a drying, peppery finish.  With water I also get some tobacco notes.  Not wild about this one, I felt it lacked the sweetness in the taste I found in the nose, to balance the oak and spice. 

    Tuesday, 13 December 2011 15:24

    Booker's

    Another high octane, cask strength whisky at 64% ABV,  but interestingly the nose is big enough to not be overpowered by alcohol.  Fruity, maybe lime, some sweet vanilla and the alcohol are all there.   The taste neat has a big burst of alcohol, which fades to reveal sweet chocolate and oak, and is very smooth.  A very dry and clean finish. With water the nose picks up a sweeter, fresh paint note and the oak in the taste in comes up as well.
    Sunday, 11 December 2011 17:42

    GlenDronach Single Cask 1989

    A fantastic single cask bottling.  This is a 20 year old that was distilled in 1989 and matured in Pedro Ximenes sweet sherry casks and the PX really comes through in the nose and taste.   Like other cask strength whiskies, this is bottled at over 55% ABV, I found the wood influence is minimal, considering it spent two decades in a cask, and the spirit and sherry notes dominate.  The nose has the sweet sherry fruits, raisins, prunes and of course alcohol.  Alcohol dominates the taste at first as well, then fades to reveal more sweet sherry, including some chocolate notes, and then a long, very dry finish which has a hint of wood smoke.  Needs a little water to soften the alchohol, and reveal more even depth and complexity.  A great after dinner, sherried whisky, and GlenDronach seems to be a distillery on the rise.  Will look out for more of their products.

    Saturday, 10 December 2011 17:58

    My Favorite Whiskies of 2011

    The rules for this are pretty simple, the whisky has to be one of the hundred or so I have reviewed this year and I will chose my favorites from four whisky making regional categories, Scotch, Irish, American and Rest of the World.  I will also choose my Whisky Family of year.   If I have tasted four or more expressions of whisky (whether it is a single malt or blend) I will rate the family of products in my blog.  Where it is close or in doubt, I will usually lean towards the better value or more accessible whiskies.

     

    Scotch: Chivas Regal 25 year old over Ardbeg Uigeadail for the surprise factor.   I had a strong suspicion I would love the Ardbeg (and I did) but the Chivas Regal 25 really surprised me and despite its hefty price tag it stood out for me this year.   An honorable mention is deserved for both the Talisker and Bunnahabhain 18 year old expressions and the Sheep Dip blended malt as well.

    Irish: Jameson 18 year old Limited Reserve gets slight edge for me over the Redbreast 12 year old.  Both excellent whiskies and the Red Breast is definitely still something I will go back to regularly, but the Jameson 18 year old has some additional complexity and depth the Red Breast doesn't. 

    USA: I am going with Sazerac Rye 18 year old, but I really liked both the Rowan's Creek and Knob Creek bourbons.  For me the standard Sazerac rye completely redefined an entire genre of whisky.  I went from thinking of rye whisky as the stereotypical cowboy "rot gut whiskey" to a complex and fully paid up member of the great whisky club.  The 18 year old Sazerac is just great.

    Rest of World: Forty Creek Premium Barrel (Canada) edges out Amrut Fusion (India), Nikka All Malt (Japan) and Yoichi 10 year old (Japan).  I accept that the Amrut and Yoichi may come out better if you were to rank them on taste alone in a blind tasting but the Forty Creek is staggeringly good value, easy to find (in the USA anyway)  and for me completely over turned my preconceptions of Canadian whiskey based on brands like Crown Royal and Canadian Club.

    Whisky Family: It was close between Famous Grouse range (I really liked the Famous Grouse 12 year old Gold Reserve and Black Grouse) and Chivas Regal, but based on the averages scores I gave during the year, due in part to the Chivas 25 year old getting 4 stars; I am going with Chivas Regal.

    Saturday, 10 December 2011 01:52

    Sazerac Rye 18 year old (Fall 2011)

    What a nose... the rye really comes through and also some sweetness and a note of fresh paint.  The taste is also sweet, with corn and then the rye again.  It's very smooth.  Some pepper in the finish which hangs around for quite a long time, quite drying and even in the finish the rye can be detected.  This is so unlike other whiskies I find it hard to describe all the flavors so I just recommend just sitting back enjoying it.

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    Random Whisky

    Eagle Rare 17 year old

    Mmmm.  They call this "Eagle Rare" and it was certainly hard to find.  The question is was it worth the effort?  The nose is quite fruity with some oak and grainy acetone spirit notes.  The taste has some bite at first which fades to reveal cayenne pepper and toffee.  Wtih water there is some brown sugar as well.  Overall I found this lacked a little body and richness for such an aged bourbon.  The finish has oak, some rye spice and with water a nice mint note.  Was it worth the effort...? Maybe not.