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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff

Most Recent Whisky

Most Recent Whisky Review

Woodford Reserve Distillers Select Straight Rye

This bottle was labelled #3031 from Batch 0887 and bottled at 45.2% ABV.  The nose was very nice, herbal tea with mint and sweet vanilla notes.  The mouthfeel is fresh, light and oily, bittersweet on palate with more vanilla, candy, black coffee and dark chocolate.  The finish has peppermint, wood and grassy rye notes.  With water it gets sweeter, even honeyed, while heat builds in the finish with chilli spiced dark chocolate.  Overall very delicious; a light and subtle of straight rye.

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  • Simon Seaton

    Simon Seaton

    Monday, 07 November 2011 23:24

    Macallan, Speyside, Scotland

    The Macallan is the distillery in Craigellachie where many of the myths espoused by other distilleries come to die.   It is a place of contrast and contradiction and I loved it. 

    The distillery visitor's center is small and it is a place for whisky lovers to pay homage, not for the tourists.  No cafĂ© or other family facilities, people come here to see the whisky being made and to buy from a very wide range of products available including many that cannot be found anywhere else in the UK.  The tour is very informative and goes into great depth into some of the areas of whisky production that others skirt over, particularly barley varietals (Macallan favours the less popular Golden Promise) and wood.  In fact they have an entire wood exhibit.  I don't mean the exhibit was made of wood, but a detailed exhibit on the types of wood used in their range and even goes in the detailed biochemistry of oak to explain the impact on the taste and aromas of their whisky. 

    But what strikes you walking around the site is the industrial nature of the site.  This is not your quaint, Victorian, artisan, highland distillery, this is first and foremost a whisky factory with huge modern warehouses looming over you on the hill behind the distillery like the dark satanic mills of the famous hymn Jerusalem.  They use different mash tuns, different styles of wash backs (some steel, some wooden) and they even have two different still houses on the site with some still direct heated while others are steam heated.  All the sorts of variations in process that many other distilleries claim to reject and say would greatly affect the nature of final spirit seem less important to Macallan who produce a single malt, The Macallan 18 year old, sometimes called the Rolls Royce of Whisky (admittedly usually by them), and many consider one of the best single malts in the world.

    Interestingly, despite being now reported as the second largest global brand of single malt whisky in sales, behind the Glenfiddich and ahead of Glenlivet, the success and globalization of brand Macallan does not seem to generate the angst and backlash Glenfiddich occasionally does within certain parts of the whisky community.  Discuss.

    Monday, 07 November 2011 23:15

    Yamazaki 12 year old

    I found the nose a little bit evasive and hard to define.  Perhaps some dark dried fruits like raisins and prunes and sweet.  The taste was much more accessible.  Sweet at first with honey and then drying oak and pepper notes in the finish, perhaps some sherry too.   Nice mouth feel, silky and smooth.  This isn't the most complex whisky I have ever tried.  Is it good?  Yes, but didn't quite float my boat
    Monday, 07 November 2011 23:14

    Ballechin #4 The Oloroso Sherry Casks

    Unusual highland whisky from the Edradour distillery, heavily peated at 50 ppm phenol. The color is rich due to the maturation in sherry casks.  The nose is peaty.  That's about all I could get from the nose.   The taste is peaty as well, very powerful and at 46% ABV its mouth coating and full bodied.  Did I mention the peat?  Interestingly it doesn't have quite the same the medicinal qualities found in the many of the heavily peated Islay or maritime whiskies.  With a little water is possible to get past the peat and a few sweet notes can be detected like marshmallow, brown sugar and the sherry from the cask is also there.  But to paraphrase the Fast Show "mostly I have been drinking peat". The good news is if you like peat, you will love this.
    Monday, 07 November 2011 23:12

    Buffalo Trace

    The nose has peppermint and fresh baked bread along with oranges, raisins and some dark fruit notes.  The taste is soft, even muted, with toffee, vanilla, butter and warm bread (possibly rye) and some peppermint (or is that pepper and mint?).  Hints of oak and old books in the finish.

    Everything that's great about bourbon whiskey but with the volume turned down slightly too much for me.

    Monday, 07 November 2011 23:11

    Compass Box Aslya

    A very pale color and a light nose with green apple, vanilla and toasted cereal, reminiscent of breakfast.  Also a little bourbon in the nose.  The taste is smooth as glass, and sweet with butter and vanilla.  The toasted notes from the nose and some oak builds in the finish and leaves just a hint of ashes or smoke.    One of the best (and definitely smoothest) blends I have ever tried.   A fantastic "first whisky of the day".

    As Eric Clapton might say "Asyla, you got me on my knees...." 

    Monday, 07 November 2011 23:11

    Chivas Regal 18 year old

    Easy, enjoyable nose with fruit, maybe banana, vanilla and malt.  There's malt in the taste too, along with pepper and spices, toffee, vanilla and sweet fruit, like over ripe banana.  Oak comes into the finish along with a little sherry and some smoke.  Good, but not great.    A blend in every way (fruity, malty, oaky, smoky) and perhaps for that reason nothing stands out or marks this whisky as special to me.  This one doesn't seem any better than the cheaper 12 year old and nowhere near as good as the 25 year old, so falls a bit flat in the middle, hence two stars.  If I gave half stars this one would be a 2 1/2 star whisky.
    Monday, 07 November 2011 23:09

    Glenfiddich 15 year old Solera

    The nose is honey sweet with sherry, raisins and citrus.  The taste is quite woody and spicy, but still rich and smooth.  Sherry and oak to the fore but with some sweet dark fruits like dates and prunes and even nuts all in the background.  Drying oaky finish as well.  Not my favorite 'fiddich.

    Monday, 07 November 2011 23:09

    Canadian Club

    The nose is nutty cereals with a slight acrid chemical note almost like cleaning fluid or fresh paint, but not unpleasant.  The taste has vanilla and caramel at first and then fades to reveal some spice, pepper and oak.  Slightly bitter in the surprisingly long finish.  This is quite rich and smooth and a little water sweetens it, but bitter oak notes still in the finish.  I suspect the strong flavors would stand up well to ice and the bitter notes would work with a sweet mixer like cola or lemonade.
    Monday, 07 November 2011 23:08

    The Macallan Select Oak

    A refreshing, vibrant nose, fruity, even zesty with alcohol coming through even at 40% ABV.   Toffee taste that fades as some spice and heat build.  Mouth feel is creamy and soft, and hints of vanilla and barley sugars.    With a little water the oak and leathery notes are more detectable but not overpowering.  Not Macallan's finest work but still a nice dram.
    Monday, 07 November 2011 23:07

    Jameson

    The whiskey that started it all for me.  I visited the Jameson distillery in Middleton in 2006 and started drinking whiskey with an "e" from that point almost exclusively until I moved to Scotland in 2009 and discovered whisky (no "e") as well.  

    This blend has a light nose with malt and citrus, like a baked lemon square.  The taste is classic triple distillation.  Sweet and smooth with citrus, banana, toffee, vanilla and oak and slightly drying finish with hints of leather and spice.  When you add water it becomes more honey sweet and floral.  Available everywhere, and I mean everywhere (bars, supermarkets, restaurants, hotel mini bars, gas stations, air planes etc) and always great value, this is nearly always in my house.   Proof positive that great whisky doesn't have to be expensive or exclusive and sometimes large sales numbers reflect the simple fact that the whiskey is very, very good.

    Whiskies Tried...

    Total to Date: 694

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    Visited to Date: 66

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    Random Whisky

    Jack Daniel's Old No 7 (Green Label)

    This is not something you will often find reviewed on many whisky blogs.  In fact it not something you will often find.  This is the red headed (green labelled) step child of the Jack Daniel's family (it doesn't appear on the JD website at all).  Some internet research suggests this is a younger (therefore cheaper) version of the traditional black label aimed at the "value" market.  The nose is not that strong, but some familiar bourbonesque notes and vanilla.  Not bad at all.  The taste is light and quite smooth.  More vanilla but nothing else really jumps out or jars.  Gets a little bitter in the finish, chocolate, burnt coffee and toasted oak.  If there is an off note then it is in the finish.   Overall not that bad and if you are going to mix your JD with cola anyway you might want to save a few bucks and go green.