Friday, May 13, 2011

Glenlivet Nadurra

In the United States, The Glenlivet 12 is one of the most recognized and popular single malts. It is one of the two or three expressions that is available anywhere alcohol is served. Its popularity probably comes from it being a very middle of the road expression (and its price). However, this middle of the road profile that leads to acceptance by the masses, tends to steer the Scotch enthusiasts in different directions.
(Some hobbyists do keep the 12 on hand as part of their 'daily dram' routine and for guests)

Then The Glenlivet introduces Nadurra. Nadurra has nearly everything that enthusiasts want. It is non-chill filtered, no caramel added, and it is bottled in batches at natural cask strength. The introduction of the Nadurra is a huge credit to such a large company as The Glenlivet, because it really shows they are paying attention to not only the masses, but to the hobbyists as well.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, but how does it taste??

Nose: Apple juice, marshmallow, oak, grape honey - with water it is much more floral with berries and pineapple coming through as well. With the right amount of water, this one becomes almost tropical

Palate: Grape, honey, berries, yeast (bread), mint, mango

Finish: nutty, oaky, slight citrus peel

Note: I do not typically say this, but I think this expression greatly improves with the addition of water.

Overall: In my opinion, this is a big improvement over the 12. This is definitely worth checking out. It is also a good value, I picked my bottle up for around $55.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Old Pulteney 12

For many Scotch enthusiasts, Old Pulteney is the quintessential maritime single malt. However, this seems to be one of those love it or hate it whiskys for the same reasons. One of the aspects that makes Old Pulteney a maritime Scotch is that it tastes a bit salty. I have a theory that people on the "hate it" side of the fence also do not like tequila. Old Pulteney does not taste like tequila, but I believe they share a few of the same characteristics.

Note: Old Pulteneys' website says that Old Pulteney is aged in 100% bourbon barrels, yet I pick up Sherry on the nose and finish. What does this mean? Nothing.

Nose: Sherry, honey, tequila, salt, ocean, apple, cereal, citrus

Palate: Salty, lemon, honey

Finish: Sherry, nutty, a bit drying

Overall: I think this is one of the best values in all of Scotch whisky. I found this bottle for $29. (It was $39 in the state I lived in previously) At this price, it can not be beaten. At any price it is a solid, complex, single malt. I highly recommend it to anyone who has never tried it, if you do not think that you would be turned off by a salty, ocean like Scotch.

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Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask

This is a new(er) release from Balvenie, developed specificaly for the US market. This, however, is not the first time Balvenie has experimented with rum casks. There was the 17 year old limited edition which was aged exclusively in rum casks, as well as another 14 year old which was only available in travel retail.

I like this whisky a lot, so do not misunderstand what I am about to say. This tastes exactly what it is: Balvenie 15 which was briefly finished in rum casks. The traditional honey/cereal character of the 15 is still very much present, but there is evidence of rum on the nose and finish, so a bit more fruit, spice, and brown sugar. I think this is a very good balance between the Balvenie and the rum, as I believe the rum would dominate the whisky if left for too long. I never had the opportunity to taste the limited edition 17, but this is the general consensus I get from speaking with people who have.

If you are a fan of the Balvenie 15, I recommend trying the Caribbean Cask for a change of pace and vice versa.

Click here to see my review of the Balvenie 15.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dalmore 15

Dalmore is one of the distilleries that has built quite a bit of prestige in the industry by having a whisky that is known for aging well. They have a 40 year old as a part of their regular line up, and release even older expressions as special releases. A few years ago, Dalmore released a special edition 62 year old which was a vatting of several casks, the oldest of which was produced in 1868.

I love Islay whiskies. In fact, I enjoy most all whiskies, but I tend to be a sucker for big, heavily sherried drams. The fact that this is not only solely aged in Sherry casks, but also is aged in three different types of Sherry casks, really gets me excited. Will the Dalmore 15 satisfy my Sherry craving, or leave me wanting more? On to the review!

Nose: Sherry, caramel, maple syrup, citrus, cherry, soy sauce

Palate: Apple, citrus, fruity, coffee

Finish: Lightly oaky, sweet, dried fruit

Overall: A very solid 15 year old Sherried dram. I do wish the finish were a bit longer, but this is quite clearly a high end product. However, it is on the higher end of the 15 year price range. Then again, there are new distilleries charging the same price for three year old (or younger) whiskies. Overall, I think it is worth the premium, at least on occasion.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength

I need to start this review with a bit of a warning. I am going to give this whisky a very good review, however, I do not think this is a whisky for people who are new to Scotch. If you are new to Scotch, and try this one first, it could completely turn you off of Scotch. Also, for the people who are familiar with Scotch, but have never tried an Islay, I do not recommend this one as the first one you ever try. In my opinion, this is one of the more challenging whiskies. Worthwhile activities are typically challenging, right?

One of the things I like most about Laphroaig, is their Friends of Laphroaig program. On joining, you are given a lifetime lease of one square foot of Islay. Upon visiting the distillery, you are able to collect rent of one dram of Laphroaig per year, and you are even able to visit and flag your plot. To join, you must redeem a code which is included with every bottle. Also, after you have joined Friends of Laphroaig, you can redeem the future codes for merchandise such as key chains, hats, tumblers, etc from their store. I think this program is quite generous of the distillery, and is really engaging for the consumer.

Ok, on to the review. This review is of the cask strength version of the 10 year old whisky. Anytime I have the option of purchasing a cask strength version, and it is not at too much of a premium considering alcohol content, I will choose the cask strength variation. This way, I have the freedom to drink at full strength, or add water - and how much. This particular review is of the first release, 001, after they began counting in 09. Batch 003, should be out soon. While there will be differences in batches, they should be slight at most.

Nose: Smoke, peat, pine, smoked meat, earthy, with honey, citrus and fresh greens in the background

Palate: Earthy, peaty

Finish: Incredibly long - Peat, medicinal, rubber

Overall, this is a very, very good Islay whisky. I highly recommend it to people who like Islay whiskies, but have never tried this one. This would not be the one I would recommend to people who have never had an Islay whiskies, and certainly not to someone who has never tried Scotch. With all that said, this is, in my opinion, one of the best Islay whiskies available.

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Redbreast 12

With St. Patrick's Day quickly approaching, I thought I would go outside of my comfort zone a bit, and and recommend an Irish Whiskey. Redbreast is one of the only available pure pot still whiskeys, and the only one which carries an age statement.

On the nose it has notes of honey, brown sugar, and citrus peel. The palate is very pleasant and complex. The finish is long, and is very smooth. I found this to be very, very smooth whiskey. Maybe even too smooth, which may be good for your St. Patrick's Day festivities, but I wish they had bottled this at a higher percentage. (This one is 40.) In summary, this will be a great addition to your St. Patrick's Day festivities!

This one is available in the U.S., but may be a little more difficult to find than some of the others, especially in bars and restaurants, but be sure to ask for it!

Have a good and safe St. Patrick's Day!

Keep an eye out for new reviews after St. Patrick's Day - I'm behind in my reviews due to moving.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Balvenie 15 Single Barrel

Up for review today is the Balvenie 15 - Single Barrel. I love single barrel/cask offerings, and wish more distilleries offered them. Typically, at least in the Scotch world, single barrel offerings are mostly only available from the independent bottlers, which I support as well. Single barrel bottlings are valued because of the variety, or inconsistencies between each barrel.

The bottle I am reviewing was from Cask 252, Bottle 155, 25/01/95-09/02/10

As trivial as this is, I must also point out that I am a fan of their bottle, label, and packaging design as well. Simple and elegant.

Nose: Honey, Apple, Citrus, Vanilla - Sweet

Palate: Honey, cereal, grape

Finish: Raisin, vanilla, a touch of chocolate. The finish actually reminds be a bit of Chunky bars (Remember these?).

Overall: This is an excellent whisky. As a non sherried, non peated, whisky, it is nicely complex and satisfying. If you have never tried this, I highly recommend it, for Scotch enthusiasts of all experience levels. This is approachable for someone who has never tasted Scotch, but complex enough for the die hard as well.
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