Sunday, November 12, 2023

Glendronach and Glenrothes; malts I love

Did I mention I love these distilleries yet? This post’s been a year in the making, with me collecting samples to put enough reviews together as opposed to the more typical mish-mash review grouping that I do.

Glendronach 12 / 2009, Hart Brothers, Rum, K&L SP, 60.9%
A Hart Brothers bottling from a Rum Cask. I wonder why they chose this cask as non-sherried Glendro is rare. The nose is full of tropical fruit and alcohol that doesn’t fade even after some time. The palate is… tropical fruit and alcohol-forward with nothing to hide behind. The savoury spirit fights with sweet rum notes making it multilayered and confusing at the same time. Water helps a little bit to bring flavors together but it’s still a somewhat messy situation. Lots of peppery spice in the secondary flavors and in the respectfully lengthy aftertaste here. Overall: Ignore the flowery description of this very unique cask of Glendronach from the vendor. This is a at best a “flavorful mess”. A tropical fruit pie that’s been blended leaving the flavors but no clear picture for the mind’s eye. Yet again a Hart bottling that disappoints me in ‘this could have been great but it’s not great’ way. Value: At $89 on paper is solid for the distillery name and unusual bottling.
https://www.klwines. … whisky-700ml/1562599
Score: B-

Glendronach 12 / 2009, Hart Brothers, 1st Fill Sherry, K&L SP, 61.2%
A Hart brother bottling, this time it’s Glendronach in 1st first fill sherry butt. The nose is classic Glendronach, slightly savoury and funky with sherry. The palate is… classic sherried Glendronach that is super concentrated. Slight funk, sherry
vanilla sweetness and spice, distillery-characteristic savouriness. Aftertaste is sweet oak vanilla and a touch of cinnamon. Overall: This is great! Fantastic Glendronach cask with great balance and concentration. It lacks some layered depths to push it into unicorn category but it’s still perfect storm of cask and age. First great Hart bottle I’ve got my hands onto, even if it’s just a sample. Value: Priced at $109; in retrospect this is solid price. I should have bought some. But hindsight is 20/20
Score: A

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 20, Cadenhead SiB, 56.0%
A Glenrothes bottling by Cadenhead, distilled in 1997, bottled in 2018, aged in a sherry butt. The nose is quintessential speyside example. Stewed dried orchard fruits, light sherry funk, caramel. The palate is all chocolate, dark raisins, some orange rind notes. Aftertaste is more orange peel and dried fruits, with bit of coriander seed character. Overall: This is good! It’s very much my pour of whiskey that I like. It is just a touch… drying in its flavors and that’s the only reason it’s going into my hall of fame. Value: Original price is unknown, likely ~$150.
https://www.whiskyba … 0/glenrothes-1997-ca
Score: A-

Glenrothes 18, Signatory SiB #15961, 58.3%
Another Glenrothes from 1997, this one from a refill sherry cask by Signatory. The stewed dried fruit compote is nearly overwhelmed by dusty, funky, leather on the nose, there’s something very old-school about this bottling. Semi-sweet dark chocolate, cuban espresso, more of the dusty funky leather on the palate. More of the same in the aftertaste, nutty semi-sweet chocolate and a touch of burnt caramel. Overall: If you ever needed an example of ‘they don’t make it like they used to’ this is a prime one. An utterly bonkers combination of quality in malt and cask profile. A near flawless sherried Speyside exemplar. I want more of this. I want more of this! Now! Value: N/A; Sample from friend Charu. Bottled in 2016 it was during the era of different prices for alcohol so it wasn’t all that expensive so any original price to value is no longer relevant.
https://www.whiskyba … 7/glenrothes-1997-sv
Score: A+

Glenrothes 19, Wemyss Malts: “Italian Bakery Delight”, 46%
A departure from sherried examples above. This is yet another Glenrothes 1997, this time by Wemyss malts. This one was aged in what looks like refill bourbon. It’s color is rather pale yellow. Vanilla and apple/pear medley on the nose, a touch of nuttyness and fresh rain smell. Light bodied palate, more of the same from the nose. The malt savoriness plays well with the cask here. A nice double aftertaste starts with neutral vanilla custard and ends with a touch of pepper and bitter walnut that rises up from the back. It’s a fairly short but intense pop of flavor that is surprisingly welcome. Overall: This reminds me of a spiced custard that was made without any sugar. The custard image to some extent does evoke the italian bakery. An enjoyable proposition in the bottle. Unfortunately, the nearly-spent reused bourbon cask makes this a mix of excellent and forgettable. Fantastically refreshing summer pour, it’s forgettable during colder months. A welcome hug from a relative you haven’t seen in a long time and won’t be seeing again. This doesn’t ‘pop’ for me. This is as ‘good’ as it gets, without being ‘great’. A quintessential drinker that is enjoyable and doesn’t require a science degree to analyze. Value: Retailing at ~$150 this is… an average value for the distillery and age, bordering on a below average back in 2016 era.
https://www.whiskyba … 6/glenrothes-1997-wy
https://whiskeyrevie … cotch-review-081717/
Score: B+

Glenrothes 16, K&L SP, Old Particular, 57.2%
A more modern Glenrothes here, this time bottled by Old Particular for K&L wines and aged in sherry butt. I’m also fairly sure I have a bottle of this. Somewhat savoury sherry character and toasted woods dominate the nose and the dried fruits are playing secondary fiddles here. Oranges and chocolate are the primary flavors of the palate. Long, generously spiced, lightly numbing, peppery, yet very sweet aftertaste follows and really brings that orange chocolate liquor theme home. Overall: Did I mention this the ‘modern’ sherried scotch interpretation? A straightforward, consistent and ‘modern sherry’ cask-dominant profile is the king here. This isn’t old dusty sherry though, this is young and syrupy one. There are still plenty of flavors and depth but it’s very different beast from the old school examples. I’d still very much enjoy drinking this nonetheless. There’s something attractive in the combination of straight-forwardness and simultaneous abundance of flavors here. Value: At $119 … It’s alright in this day and age.
Score: A

Glenrothes, Whiskey Maker’s Cut, 48.8%
Adding a late addition here. A secret santa gift for X-mas of 2023. This is a NAS expression from core range matured in first fill sherry seasoned oak. The nose is dried red apple candy with a hint of spice. There are also notes of other dried orchard fruits leaning it towards fruit punch, though sun-dried apples still dominate. The palate is creamy, somewhat earthy and leathery, but well balanced between malt sweetness and sherry spice, chocolate and coffee notes. With oloroso maturation it’s leaning towards more peppery, nutty, and spicy profile. Warming long aftertaste lingers around for medium period of time. Overall: Very enjoyable for what it is. A pleasant ‘everyday’ drinker for those that enjoy Glenrothes spicy/nutty profile. This bottling is above their regular core range but below single casks and vintage releases on enjoyment. Value: Priced $80-$90 it is a touch overpriced for me to casually buy a general release, but it took a wonderful opportunity with Secret Santa gift as it fit the requirements perfectly.
Score: B+

Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Bardstown Discovery 6 & Toasted Rye, Velier Sassafras, High West Prairie Carcavelos; Mixed Bag Part 2

Part 2 of the below post to make it less lengthy.

Bardstown Discovery Series #6, 55.55%
This is the “One with the Dickel in it” bottling. Let’s go! Mashbills and percentages are disclosed and published online in many places, so I won’t repeat them here. For better or worse, this is 16% Dickel that’s 17 years old… Which is to be fair rather respectable age for bourbon. The color is near-perfect chestnut. Straight out of the bottle there’s a touch of pecans on the nose, but that disappears after few minutes, leaving cologne-forward notes. There are certainly some nuttiness but it leans towards toasted bits of jam and crust from a berry pie. Let’s add some pecans on top of same pie before baking and… you get the picture. The palate is ripe with toasted cherry wood. There’s something about burnt cherry pie filling in the glass. Lots of toasted oak, cinnamon, cloves, and perhaps torched sugar with the overall profile leaning towards burnt, rather than caramelized. The aftertaste is a bit of a wash unfortunately with pecans coming back as well as that slightly bitter baking spice note letting itselves be known. Few drops of water calm the aftertaste down somewhat but it tones down everything across the board equally… Water is a preference here. Overall: Enjoyable all the way to aftertaste but instead of aftertaste elevating the experience this goes into the burnt notes. Quite drinkable and will likely please most bourbon lovers that want that firm kentucky hug in the aftertaste. The Dickel isn’t really a huge factor here, unless one is a staunch fan of Buffalo Trace products as this certainly leans to the Kentucky+Tennessee nutty style. Surprisingly, there’s some cherry on the palate and perhaps even on the nose, but that aftertaste firmly sticks it back into Tennessee for better or worse. Value: MSRP is too high at ~$120+, should be $99 IMHO… though their packaging and bottle design are well done.
Score: B

Bardstown Blended Rye x West Virginia Great Barrel Co, 55%
This is a weird one that’s for sure. 6 year MGP rye, aged in re-toasted cherrywood/oak hybrid casks, blended with 12 year old Canadian whiskey? What-a-mix! This is certainly off a beaten path for a reasonably well established company. Let’s try anyways! Disclaimer: This s a neck pour so there could be a some changes down the line once oxigen does its thing. The nose is fairly typical MGP rye, toasted wood with old varnish that’s been in the sun, medicinal pine forest, a bit of fermented/pickled dill in the background. The palate is rather sweet, with cherry notes coming in, sweet toasted vanilla and woody oak, gentle baking spices, and aromatic bitters notes. More of the same palate notes are in the aftertaste. Overall: Very enjoyable, despite the uncommon premise. This drinks like a very strong manhattan, or high rye bourbon rather than blended rye. In short, the more I drink it, the more I seem to enjoy it. I like a little more cherry in my manhattan though I’m still enjoying the experience. It doesn’t get too hot or too bitter or too rye-ish, preferring to back off that flavor peak just before becoming too much. This is certainly flavorful, interesting bottling. Value: I’ve picked this up at about $130 from Costco which for the spec seems a bit overpriced, as seems to be the norm with other ‘premium’ Bardstown bottles. Let’s set it as slightly above average on value here.
Score: B+

Velier Sassafras, Foursquare Barbados Rum, 14 year old, 61%
A sample from friend Charu. Bottled in November 2020 as one of 6000 bottles. This 14 year old bottling was aged 3 years in ex-bourbon and then 11 years in ex-cognac casks. It needs time to breathe in the glass, yet the notes I’m smelling all the way from the table surface are already amazing. The nose is toasted vanilla oak, touch of cigar tobacco, very light mint and… fruity perfume. The longer I leave it in the glass, the more perfume-forward it becomes. I’ll be honest with you, it’s really a cognac cask speaking with the fruits but it doesn’t detract from the experience. The palate… is pretty much everything from the nose… turned up to 11. The aftertaste… is… same as palate, gently fading with some barrel spice instead of fruity sweetness of a brandy. Overall: An astonishingly amazing and cohesive experience that’s very hard to duplicate in another bottling. Granted, this is a rum that’s wearing a woody cognac cape at the end of the day. I imagine when tasted blindly it could be hard to identify this as a rum and to call out a off-profile cognac instead. Still, the layers of flavor are great and there’s literally nothing to complain about in the glass. Borderline singular experience. Value: This is where it gets tricky… Originally priced at ~$200, and currently going for ~$450 on secondary… this isn’t a particularly great deal at first glance… yet considering that similar bourbon/cognac foursquares (ie 2006) are ~$1k on auctions and flavor-comparable cognacs are priced in the thousands… This is perhaps a worthwhile endeavor to chase down a bottle or a sample if your budget allows.
Score: A+

High West American Prairie Bourbon, K&L SP, Carcavelos Cask, 50.1%
This is a blend of straight bourbons, finished for 8 months in Carcavelos (White, somewhat spicy, port) and selected by K&L wines. Cask number is 18341. The nose is restrained and at best can be described as sweet & woody-something. There are toasted sugar, sweet spices, some vanilla, oak of course, yet none of it really stands out. The palate is thin on texture but rich in flavor. Lots of sugars, caramelized flavors, some wood, the sweetness doesn’t overwhelm but instead combines well with vanilla and spice. Aftertaste is rather szechuan-peppery, and surprisingly dry, providing a good contrast to the palate and nose. It’s not the most complex or the longest but pleasant enough to let it do its thing. Overall: Well this is an interesting one, I was expecting an everyday drinker and I’ve arguably gotten one. The port notes work surprisingly well with youthful (~2 year old) spirit in hiding bad things and bolstering spice and sweetness. In the end I’m left with enjoyable, casual, dessert pour which does not skimp on sweet & spicy peppers. Value: I’ve picked it up at $55… That’s a decent price for something like this. Let’s call it a good deal for Cask Select High West Bourbon for this price.
Score: B+

Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Auchentoshan 25, Cragganmore 15, Ben Nevis 15, Teeling 29 (Rum cask): mixed bag

Samples samples. Dusty samples. Most of the samples are from my friend Logan.

Auchentoshan 25, 1973-1998, Radio Clyde, ~43%
Produced to celebrate 25 years of Radio Clyde on the 31st December 1998. If previous Radio Clyde releases are anything to go by, there is a good chance this is Auchentoshan. From an open bottle with unfortunately not-so-tight cork. I’m not too sure how much alcohol is really left in there. My guess: 35-40% abv. The nose is intensely fruity with dried figs, dried apricots, some mango, sweet vanilla, jolly ranchers hard candy. The palate is slightly disappointing and while not flat is a more watery than I would have liked. Great secondary notes of brown sugar and peppers but the primaries are missing, which is unfortunate. Light nutty bitterness in the mix too. The aftertaste it gets better, with rising malt vanilla sweetness, butter, light baking spices and pepper in the very back. Overall: The palate is unfortunately missing here with the rest of the experience being great. Blindly I’d say this is about 40% abv or so and perhaps a great beginner malt for someone that doesn’t expect cask proof fire-water. This will unfortunately fall flat for most, though it’s by no means bad. I only wish it was a little proofier. Value: N/A only auctions.
https://whiskyauctio … 25-year-old-decanter
Score: B

Cragganmore 15, 1966-1981, Private Cask, ~43%
This is from a private cask. No original ABV… everything is more or less an assumption outside of what’s given. The color is definitely dark. This looks sherried (yay!). This smells VERY sherried. Cragganmore is often lightly peated, but I’m either not detecting it, or the peat is so old it’s now became complex set of flavors that aren’t all that smoky. Dark wood and varnish galore on the nose, plus some sherry funk as a second fiddle in there. The palate is yet again on the thinner side, so definitely ~40% abv here. Very neutral, not sweet, not salty, not bitter… almost… flavorless… yet a little leathery at the same time. It’s hard to describe. The secondary notes and aftertaste kick the flavors up a notch with lots of spice, some salt and sweetness, as well as tiny bit of funk. Medium-long aftertaste is rather pleasant and flavorful. Overall: This is enjoyable but yet again let down by the proof and the odd dip of flavor where palate should be. Perhaps with a good cigar or food this would be amazing complement. Value: N/A, seriously no idea.
Score: B-

Ben Nevis 15, 1956-1981, Private Cask, ~43%
Another private cask. Another low proofer. Another ‘dusty’ sample. This time it’s Ben Nevis. Slightly rubbery nose which implies at least some sherry here. Very likely a refill cask with the color lightness. Definitely quite rubber and surfuric but not negatively impacting the nose. Similar to how new car interior has a specific smell that’s not offensive. This kept most of it proof… And it has a palate. Still slightly rubber palate, sweet malt, super full of milk chocolate and fig jam. The aftertaste is quite long and starts off gently spicy, then fades into more fig jam and vanilla sweetness. Overall: I rather like this. The light funkiness is a weird beasty as it’s something that’s almost entirely missing in modern whiskeys, but overall it really is quite tasty. Value: N/A. Private cask from auction.
Score: B+

Teeling 29, Single Malt, Rum Cask, 53.8%
This is really a Cooley malt. A Non-Chill filtered single cask 588 bottled on 03/2019 for Bar Parkmore Japan. I’ll be honest, I’m really looking forward to this. The nose is tropical vanilla wood with rum notes. Palate is rum rum rum and malt malt malt. If you ever can imagine how good foursquare ex-bourbon rum would taste like when mixed with a lot single malt… Then this is the answer. Medium-long sweet and rummy aftertaste follows. Overall: This is so good. Argh! Value: This is NOT cheap. I’ll leave it at that. A 29 year old teeling single casks are ~900. This was likely from an auction, but the base MSRP of this is way high… Admittedly, it’s excellent.
Score: A+

Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

A mix of things: Tagalong, Dewar’s 32, Linkwood 37, WhiskyFest

Some Samples Ahoy!

Booker’s ‘Tagalong Batch’ 2021-02, 63.95%
It’s been a while since I wrote about Beam. And perhaps I didn’t need to, but gotta get back into the habit of writing these once again. You know what… It’s a Booker’s. A pecan pie with cinnamon and vanilla Booker’s. A good one, actually. I tried it SbS with 2018 batches to compare and those are a lot hotter and cinnamon-forward, with Tagalong being nuttier, with less cinnamon. The typical Beam stuff is there but subdued. A well balanced, if a different take on a familiar spirit that should have fans wanting for more… unless the fans really want Red Hots… Then, it’s not your thing. Vanilla, some cherry and so many pecans, slightly changing between sips on the balance without becoming overwhelming. The typical Beam cinnamon aftertaste lasts a long time. This may not be a perfect ‘bourbon’ but it’s certainly a one of the best ‘Beams’.
Score: A-

Dewar’s Double Double 32, 46%
Some sort of Dewar’s brand-owned scotch blend finished in Pedro Ximenez Sherry Casks. Supposedly only two distilleries in the mix (thus the Double). The color is rich chestnut. The nose positively reeks of PX characteristic sweet figs. It’s going to be awesome! It’s very very good if you like sweet syrup whiskeys. Fortunately… I do indeed like those. The palate is sweet nutty fig syrup that’s for sure, sliding into spicy ex-bourbon (nearly metallic) secondary notes. Long aftertaste is clear mix of ex bourbon cask spice notes and sherry sweetness. Overall I really like it… but… This is PX finish so bourbon notes and sherry notes aren’t really well integrated so there’s a flavor canyon between primary flavors and aftertaste that feels like it’s missing something. This also got a lot of sherry in it that will mask any number of minor flaws. One of the easier ones to score at that age… Extremely easy drinker and worth seeking out to try… yet not quite enough to be amazing. It’s a little hard to describe, but basically for a heavily sherried pour there’s no body substance to it, some describe it as ’smooth’. It could be an 18 year old Alexander Murray and I’d struggle to tell the difference.
Also I’m not the only one that liked it: https://www.insideho … h-whisky-of-the-year
Score: A-

Linkwood 37, Distilled in 1978, Bottled in 2016, 50.3%
An official (Limited Edition) bottling of Linkwood at 37 years old… Cask proof… Celebration time! Omg! The nose… may just get this a high score before I even taste it. Ex-bourbon… Holy cow! Orchard fruits, mellow spices on the nose. Apples, pears, peaches! The nose is spectacular! You know what? I give up on ever bothering to review it. This is just straight up spectacular stuff. Top 3 non-sherried and non-peated scotch I’ve tried. Ex-bourbon and malt nuts must apply. Nuff said.
https://forwhiskeylo … od-37-year-old-750ml
Score: A+

WhiskyFest 2021 Special Report:
Super quick report in no specific order…
Michter’s ‘21 Rye is not that great, everything else was not available anymore
Paul John Mithuna is freaking AMAZING (but also EXPENSIVE)
Benromach 21 is fantastic & so are most of Gordon & McPhail casks at the show
Frey Ranch is great for grain-forward, young American stuff, not to mention weird 100% oat whiskey bottling which is… oat-forward
Courage & Conviction is middle of the road
Widow Jane is all over the place with Decadence being amazing and the rest being a Hit and Miss
Heaven’s Door regular is passable, but Redbreast edition is actually great (though probably still won’t buy)
Peerless is junk for everything that’s been poured
Bardstown stuff ain’t too special
Fuji whiskey was okay I guess, yet again no buy there.
Westward is alright at cask proof, though a little hot without substance
Overall: See you again in a few years

Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Fancy v2. Balblair, Bowmore, Highland Park, Bunnahabhain

Let’s get fancy again with the samples… I got a few…

Balblair 26; Vintage 1990, 46%
Kicking us off is an old Balblair distillery bottling. Dusty very dusty sherry with leather mixed in on the nose. Old wood workshop or a machine shop. Savory wood on the palate almost to the point of dill notes. Layers and layers and layers of flavor that’s so tightly bound that this becomes one flavor and none of the flavors. Mostly wood and some non-sweet sherry dominating with malt playing a 3rd fiddle somewhere. The aftertaste is medium with savory fading leaving a pleasant dusty sherry and spice sensation. Overall, this is totally not what I have expected here, an nearly over-wooded single malt with dill notes at brief glance. I really want to like this but either it’s not that great indeed, or my sample was too small to appreciate it. Interesting? Yes. Exciting? Not particularly. Will pay premium? No. Checkbox? Absolutely! Value: Its $250+… Yah, not a deal.
https://www.whiskyba … /99586/balblair-1990
Score: C+

Bowmore 24, Hunter Laing Old & Rare Single Cask. 53.2%
Got a sample via friend Jeffrey… I have to go off the sample label here since I am not able to find a record of this bottle in the whiskybase. The nose is super complicated with everything from pure malt to some iodine and some light peat that comes in goes in waves. The palate is paradoxically even more complicated, almost no peat to speak of but instead complex smoked cheese (gouda/mozzarella) flavors dominate together with complex malt sweetness. Butter pancakes, leche fruits, tropical undertones, this is incredible stuff. Long-long aftertaste that leaves some light smoke, yet again smoked string cheese and good cigar on the palate for a while. I don’t want it to go away frankly, and I’m the one that dislikes peat. Overall: Once in a blue-moon scotch experience of exceptional complexity and palate this is something that needs to be contemplated in front of the fire and taken in carefully and slowly. I don’t give out this sort of praises very often… Value: No clue on price but it’s not cheap… but holy cow! this is probably worth the price if it’s anywhere under $350.
AAAnd found it:
Score: A+

Orkney (Highland Park) 17; Single Cask Nation Stones of Stenness, 54.4%
Read the details here: https://singlecaskna … riant=40218088013997… It’s a 17 years old highland park (single cask) aged in 2nd fill oloroso. The nose is pure milk chocolate and caramel strongly reminding me of Ghirardelli caramel squares. Tiny whiff of iodine and sea salt in the back of the nose but that just makes it salted caramel squares. Palate is full of sherry funk with toasted, nearly charred, nuts and a solid streak of chili peppers; and so much wood. Malt and sherry sweetness balance off the woodiness, yet drinker beware, it’s right on the edge of being taken over. Long pleasant aftertaste carries most of the palate over for a long time with some ginger tingle coming up midway through. Overall: Deliciously nutty, woody, slightly smoky yet sherry sweet and well spiced dram. Lovers of sherry bombs will appreciate the complexity and concentration here. The overall experience could be a little too much for a casual drinker though. Value: Absolutely worth a pour, but as with most Highland Park single casks this is overpriced.
Score: A-

Bunnahabhain 28, 1991; Gordon & MacPhail 50.3%
A refill hogshead (ex-bourbon) production. I was afraid of this to be peated; yet it does not seem to be peated at all. Aren’t I a lucky one? Whelp; the nose says ‘this is a malt monster’. Vanilla extract and malt galore on the nose indeed. Superbly multi-layered palate with more oak/vanilla, tropical fruits and bourbon baking spices, nutmeg, cloves, lemon zest, green jalapenos and yet again so much malt. Aftertaste is numbing and last for a while, while being surprisingly hot for its proof with chili spice and vanilla fighting for control. Overall: I’m not a fan and perhaps expected better with the pedigree. Super tightly wound ex bourbon that borders on mint, dill and green jalapeno salsa or just metallic on the palate. Slightly too many things going on in there without proper backbone; slightly too unbalanced. Stick this into refill sherry… and it’d be a winner, but alas we get ex-bourbon. This requires contemplation and no contemplation will be had at a bar. Enjoyable enough as a sample at least. Value: Circa $300… In a refill bourbon… Let’s go with medium cost at best; bordering on overpriced.
https://www.whiskyba … bunnahabhain-1991-gm
Score: C+

Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown