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"Happiness is having a rare steak, a bottle of whisky and a dog to eat the rare steak"
Welcome to what will be my Christmas newsletter. In this issue, I review the Dalmore 15 years old, which the “Whiskymeister” (http://whiskymeister.wordpress.com) Ray Pearson passed my way.
I have to say that the simple design and packaging of the bottle with that Stag’s head has always caught my eye, and I was looking forward to trying it.
After tasting it, I just had to make it my Christmas issue, not that you couldn’t drink it any time of the year. It’s just that the Christmas spices, orange, and nuts combine to make the perfect whisky for Christmas time (at least in my head). As a child, I always received an orange and a bag of nuts in my stocking along with my toys.
You can buy Dalmore 15 for around $70.00 a bottle.
Nose - Sweet, toffee & orange
Palate - Sherry, marmalade, Christmas spices & nuts
Finish - Nuts & vanilla
Gold Medal - San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2009
Rated 91 - Beverage Tasting Institute 2009
This issue I look at the Oban (pronounced Obin) 14-year-old, as
recommended by my friend David Klausner. I tasted this for the
first time in Foley’s Irish pub in Reno, which has (unless you know
better) the largest selection of single malt Scotch in Reno (I counted
over 40 different scotches).
I like this single malt; in fact, I just finished a bottle of it at home and
would recommend it to everyone, even Speyside fans, who live in fear of smokey/peaty Western Isle whiskies. This is a west coast whisky, not an islands whisky, and it’s smoke and peat are restrained. This is a very nice whisky.
You can buy Oban 14 for around $55.00 a bottle.
Nose - Sweet, fruity, with sea salt, small amounts of peat & smoke
Palate - Rich fruit, honey, malt, spice & light smoke
Finish - Sweet oak with a pinch of salt
Oban goes well with Dark Chocolate
This issue I look at Bowmore “Legend” Islay single malt, there is no age statement (NAS) on this whisky. Bowmore whiskies tend to be smokier as opposed to peaty as in, for example, the three Southern Islay distilleries of Ardbeg, Lagavulin, and Laphroaig. This may be due to Bowmore’s malted barley being broken before it is dried over a very smoky fire.
I sampled this whisky recently at the Ventura, California “Seaside Highland Games.” If ever there was an appropriate Highland Games to taste this whisky, then the Ventura games would be the place. You could stand in the park and throw a stone into the Pacific ocean, so where better to taste those Smokey and salty island notes than a stone's throw from the Pacific with the sound of Bagpipes playing in the background.
This is a nice family-friendly games, not too large that you feel lost, but not to small that there isn’t enough going on to occupy your day. I look forward to returning next year.
You can buy Bowmore "Legend" for around $38.00 a bottle.
Nose - Some smoke & Citrus
Palate - Lightly Smokey with Honey
Finish - Smoke & Saltiness
My good friend, Ray Pearson (The Whiskymeister:
http://whiskymeister.wordpress.com ) recently gave me a sample of
Jura “Superstition” to try, I was very impressed, so I asked Jeff at
the Liquor Bank (Paradise & Chico, CA. My go-to guy for whisky) to get some in for me.
If you are wary of smokey whiskies, this could be a good introduction
for you. It does not beat you over the head with huge amounts of
peaty smoke like some of it’s neighbors from Islay; the smoke in
“superstition” is more subtle.
As it is Halloween, when better than today, to try this mysterious
Spirit? Crafted from a selection of the finest aged Jura single malt
whiskies, go ahead and treat yourself.
I don’t know if this is a recommendation or not, but our Scottish Terrier
“Heather” likes a “lick” of this whisky and isn’t the slightest bit
interested in any other kind, either blend or single malt.
You can buy Jura "Superstition" for around $60.00 a bottle.
Nose - Oranges and smoke
Palate - Orange Peel, Cookies, Smoke, Spice
Finish - Sweet and Smokey, hints of Orange
The Isle of Jura Distillery celebrated it’s 200th anniversary in 2010.
As this issue is my 24th and celebrates one year of whisky newsletters, I am going to look at a special whisky, the Glenfiddich “Snow Phoenix.” I was lucky enough to be given a bottle of “Snow Phoenix” By Gary, co-owner of the Queen Vic Pub in the Riviera Casino and hotel on the Las Vegas Strip.
When I say lucky, I mean it, this is a limited edition and not easy to come by.
I tried to buy a second bottle, and it took Jeff at the Liquor bank (Paradise, CA) months to get his hands on, what his supplier told him was the last bottle for general sale in the USA.
So many thanks to Gary and Jeff from my grateful taste buds, this is a fine whisky and it’s a shame that when the bottle I have is gone, I’ll never be able to get another.
If you can find one, it will cost a lot.
Nose - Apples, pears & butter
Palate - Oak, malt, spice & honey
Finish - Malty, nutty, apples
This issue I look at Balvenie 21-year-old “Portwood” finish, a bottle of
which I received as a gift recently. My friends David and Jim helped me open and taste it, and we enjoyed it so much we never re-corked the bottle, this is a wonderful drop of whisky!!
I really like the Balvenie 12-year-old as well, which you can pick up for around $60 and I frequently do, the 21-year-old on the other hand is closed to $200 a bottle, but it is magnificent.
A couple of weeks ago I hosted a whisky and food pairings dinner,
featuring Balvenie whiskies and the 21-year-old was paired with the
desert (more about the dinner and the pairings menu on page 4).
You can buy Balvenie 21 for around $220.00 a bottle.
Nose - Fruity, faint Smoke
Palate - Creamy, Smooth, Rich, Honey, Wine
Finish - Smooth, Cedary with a warming Spice.
This issue I look at Glenmorangie “Astar.” I came across a bottle of it in my local Liquor store and as our newly formed whisky club is called “Astar” (Gaelic for Journey) and we were having our first official meeting at my house, how could I resist. What did David and Jim my fellow whisky club members think of it?
They liked it, but after the Balvenie 21-year-old we had just drunk, it didn’t match up ( more on that bottle in a later issue). What did I think? I went back to the bottle on a different night without the Balvenie distraction. I enjoyed it, but at 57%, I enjoyed it, even more, when I added a little water to it.
You can buy Glenmorangie "Astar" for around $200.00 a bottle.
Nose - Fruit & Toffee
Palate - Creamy & fruity with an underlying vanilla/toffee sweetness.
Finish - Long & warm with spice
This issue I look at Talisker 10-year-old, which I first sampled on the Isle of Skye many years ago, while still serving in the Royal Navy. I and a few friends had gone to the Cuillin Mountains on Skye to try climbing the “inaccessible pinnacle,” however the weather was so bad, we did the ridge walk on Blaven instead (photo below, along the top from left to right). Afterward one of the team took us to his aunt’s hotel, where we had a few drinks to celebrate a great
day in the mountains. A few months ago, I sat with my wife in "Comme Ca" Restaurant in the Cosmopolitan Hotel, Las Vegas, and remembered that day over another glass of Talisker 10.
You can buy Talisker 10-year-old for around $65.00 a bottle.
Nose - Peat, smoke & brine
Palate - Sweet malt & peat
Finish - Long, peppery & sweet
This issue I look at Glen Grant 10-year-old, which I sampled in the whisky tent (as a guest) at the Las Vegas Celtic Games last April. I again sampled the Glen Grant at the San Diego Highland Games in June, this time as an assistant to the Whiskey Meister Ray Pearson (www.facebook.com/thewhiskymeister).
What did I think of it? Three words come to mind Fruity, Fruity & Fruity, this is a good Speyside single malt and I can’t argue with the fact that it is one of the best selling single malts in the world.
I’d be happy to open my drinks cabinet and find a bottle of this in there, waiting for me to pour it, share it and enjoy it.
You can buy Glen Grant 10 for around $55.00 a bottle.
Nose - Fruity
Palate - Fruity, creamy with a hint of hazelnut
Finish - Fruity
Slàinte mhòr agus a h-uile beannachd duibh.
“Great health and every good blessing to you.”
This issue I look at Glenrothes Select Reserve, which I bought using my keen insight into Speyside single malt scotch whisky………well, to tell the truth, the unusual shape of the bottle and its distinctive label caught my eye and I thought “I’ll give this a try.” I wasn’t disappointed, this is a single malt that I will buy again, and I will also explore some of the other vintages that Glenrothes produces.
This whisky reminded me of birthdays when I was a wee boy, my auntie Agnes used to make me a “Clootie Dumpling” for my birthday every year and that's what the flavors reminded me of.
You can buy Glenrothes Select Reserve for around $45.00 a bottle.
Nose - Spice, Citrus and fruity
Palate - Clootie dumpling, Spicey
Finish - Biscuit (Cookie), cereal
Clootie refers to the cloth that this fruit pudding is traditionally
made in. Delicious served hot with jam and/or cream or custard.
If you would like to see the recipe for a Clootie Dumpling go to
This issue I look at Lagavulin Distillers Edition, which I sampled in the Freaking Frog during my whisky tasting lesson with Adam Carmer. Having a preference for peat and smoke, this one shot to the top of my favorite list. I really like this whisky, but at over $100 a bottle it would normally be a bit too expensive for an everyday whisky, but thanks to all that peat and smoke none of my friends will drink it so the bottle will last.
Now, having said that my preference is for peat & smoke, I have to add that, the more whiskies I try the more I realize that I like them all, just some a little more than others.
You can buy Lagavulin Distillers Edition for around $110.00 a bottle.
Nose - Cereal, hay, peat & smoke
Palate - Peat, smoke & a hint of salt
Finish - Warm with a hint of malt & chocolate
Chocolate truffles would go well with the Lagavulin Distillers
This issue I look at Balvenie 12-year-old doublewood, which I sampled in “Comme Ca” Restaurant in the Cosmopolitan Hotel, Las Vegas. I enjoyed it so much I went out and bought a bottle of it. In fact, I am currently organizing a (trial) dinner at Nash’s restaurant in Chico that pairs together whiskies and food, my first attempt has this Balvenie as the starter whisky, followed by the 15-year-old with the entrée and the 21-year-old with the desert.
If this works, I will open up future dinners to readers that live close enough to join in. For those not close enough, I can make the menus available if they wish to do their own whisky food pairing dinner.
You can buy Balvenie Doublewood for around $60.00 a bottle.
Nose - Sherry, Orange & Apricot
Palate - Sherry, Orange, sweet honey
Finish - Warm, some vanilla & a little spice
Balvenie 12-years-old “Doublewood” with food;
Warmed Camembert, Cranberry Cumberland Sauce, Spicy Glazed Walnuts.
This issue I look at Auchentoshan (pronounced Och-un-tosh-un)
10-year-old, which I sampled in Smith & Wollensky Steakhouse when Tracey and I had dinner with my two nephews from Australia. The Auchentoshan 10 is a classic Lowland whisky, and is more akin to Irish whiskies, due to being triple-distilled for extra smoothness. The smoothness that comes with the extra distillation comes at a price (or at least I think so), there is a loss of depth of flavor, but maybe that's just me.
The 10-year-old has now been discontinued but is still
quite widely available and is a perfect intro to the delights of single malt whisky.
You can buy Auchentoshan 10 for around $60.00 a bottle.
Nose - Lemongrass and vanilla
Palate - Light, soft, with hints of lemon and cedar
Finish - Long and smooth
Food with Auchentoshan;
Auchantoshan 21 years old with Candela chocolate
Auchentoshan Three Wood with Gruyere Cheese, Green Lentil, Carrot and Walnut Salad, Morocho chocolate www.chuaochocolatier.com/index.html
This issue I look at Clynelish 14-year-old (pronounced Klyn-leesh), as
recommended by my old shipmate from HMS Yarmouth “Teuchter.” I sampled this single malt in Scarpetta Restaurant in the Cosmopolitan Hotel, Las Vegas over dinner at Christmas. As you will see on the flavor map (page 3) this whisky is almost in the center, so there are no pronounced flavors jumping out at you.
The result is a gentle (perhaps restrained) whisky that has nice flavors with none of them overpowering. If you are doing a whisky tasting this should be one of the first as it’s flavors would be blown away with some of the stronger tasting scotches. I liked this one and would definitely drink it again.
You can buy Clynelish 14-year-old for around $65.00 a bottle.
Nose - Perfumed with citrus fruit & spice, slight sea salt with a hint of smoke
Palate - Full, creamy malt with fruit, spice & a faint hint of the sea
Finish - Long, warm with a hint of smoke & some caramel
Paired with food
Seafood; Pan Seared Scallops, Tandoori Prawns
Cheese; Brie de Meaux, Piave Vecchio
This issue I look at Old Pulteney 12-year-old, recommended by my old navy shipmate “Teuchter” which I sampled recently. This was a night of sensory contradictions; I was standing outside at the rooftop Voodoo Lounge bar on the 51st floor of the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas, overlooking one of the world's great light shows, in the middle of a desert. All the while I was smelling the sea air notes from my whisky and tasting this fine single malt, that was trying hard to take me
back to the rugged Highland coast in the North of Scotland.
I will gladly recommend this whisky, I enjoyed it that night and will again in the future.
You can buy Old Pulteney 12 for around $45.00 a bottle.
Nose - Quite intense with a hint of sea air
Palate - Medium-bodied, faintly salty with an orange note
Finish - Long and predominantly orange-flavored, a hint of malt
This issue I look at Dalwhinnie 15-year-old, which was recommended by my good friend David McDonald with whom I have raised many a glass of single malt, both here in the US and in Scotland.
In November, I had dinner with my sister from Australia and her family at the “Strip” Steak House in Las Vegas, where they have a small, but fine selection of single malts.
Valerie’s husband Ivor and I grew up together in Scotland and reminisced over a few glasses of Dalwhinnie. Do not be intimidated by the words “smoke & Peat” this is not an intense Islay malt.
You can buy Dalwhinnie 15 for around $65.00 a bottle.
Nose - Hints of heather & peat
Palate - Smooth with heather, honey, & citrus
Finish - Long intense finish that starts sweetly, then gives way to Smoke, Peat, and Malt.
Fancy a bite to eat with your whisky;
Chocolate Mousse—the strong creamy and chocolate flavors are ideally partnered with Dalwhinnie, whose soft and smooth body carries heather honey and delicate spice. It’s creamy this one, not dry. For more whisky food pairings go to: www.malts.com
This issue I look at the Ben Nevis 10-year-old, which was recommended by another friend (also an old Navy man) who goes by the Nickname of Teuchter (a Lowland Scots word used to describe a Scottish Highlander). Teuchter is from Portmahomack, and if you look it up on the map you will see you can’t go much further up into Scotland than that. On September 09 my wife Tracey and I along with our friends David McDonald, Jim, and Dianne McKasson, my son Paul also joined us to hike from Fort William to Inverness. As we were starting in Fort William, and that is where Ben Nevis whisky is made, I bought a bottle of the 10-year-old to fill my hip flask each day of the hike.
The men wore their kilts for the whole hike and Jim had brought his pipes with him, so we were serenaded as we drank our whisky and hiked through the highlands. Could it get any better than that………….. yes it could, sorry Teuchter I didn’t really like this one. I think this whiskey would have benefitted with a few more years in the cask, which would have made it smoother.
You can buy Ben Nevis 10 for around $60.00 a bottle.
Nose - Toffee & Fruit
Palate - Sherry, cooked apple & a hint of licorice.
Finish - Long with a touch of heat
This issue I look at the Glenfiddich 15-year-old, as recommended by my old friend Andy Ilett, and which I had at the Queen Vic pub (good British food, Beer, and Scotch whisky) in the Riviera Casino. I was there to host a small Burns night for some British servicemen based at Nellis Air force Base.
Mark (co-owner) very kindly gave me free drinks. I liked this whisky, it was full-bodied, fruity and very smooth. The finish was long and satisfying (but that may be down to the fact it was free). For those of you that have tried the 12-year-old, but not the 15-year-old, let me tell you there is a world of difference between the two of them. The 15-year-old exudes quality and is a fine single malt whisky. In my opinion, it is the best whisky for the price on the market today.
You can buy Glenfiddich 15 for around $55.00 a bottle.
Nose - Rich & spicy with oak
Palate - Honey, pear & cream
Finish - Dry & spicy with some pepper
This issue I look at the Caol Ila 12-year-old, which was recommended by my friend Mike (a Scotsman) in Florida. To try this one, Tracey and I took her sister and husband into the “Whisky Attic” of the “Freakin Frog” bar in Las Vegas again, which boasts the largest selection of whiskies in America. If you haven’t been here yet, you have to make the effort, you will be blown away by the selection of whiskies on offer. If you like smoky whiskies then you need to give this a try; if you don’t…………...then leave it alone!!
You can buy Caol Ila whiskey for around $60.00 a bottle.
Nose - Toffee, caramel & fruit
Palate - Sherry, cooked apple &, a hint of Liquorice.
Finish - Long with a touch of Pepper
Fancy a bite to eat with your whisky;
Try some Chorizo sausage. This smoked pork sausage flavored with garlic and chili works well with the sweet start of the Caol ila, followed by the fragrant smokiness and sweet-smoky lingering finish. Caol ila also pairs well with oysters. For more whisky food pairings go to: www.malts.com
To honor St. Patrick’s Day and the Irish, our Celtic cousins, in this issue, I am featuring Bushmills 10-year-old whiskey. Considered the benchmark Irish single malt, this has a far greater depth of flavor than standard Irish blends. Winner of the 'Best Irish Single Malt Whiskey in the World' at last year's World Whiskies Awards. I did my sampling in McMullen’s Irish Pub located adjacent to the Orleans Hotel and Casino here in Las Vegas. I found this whiskey to be
mellow and pleasant to drink, so if you decide to be Irish for a day and celebrate this March 17th, I can recommend this whiskey.
You can buy Bushmills whiskey for around $22.00 a bottle.
Nose - Honey, ripe fruit, sherry & almonds
Palate - Cocoa, raisins, almonds & spice
Finish - Toffee, fudge, cocoa & sherry
This issue I feature Penderyn Single Malt whisky, which I sampled for the first time yesterday. Tracey and I have friends, Steve and Fred, visiting from Wales and they brought me a bottle of Penderyn “Welsh” whisky. I imagine like me you hadn’t heard of it. Penderyn is the only whisky distillery in Wales and started making whisky in 2004. Penderyn makes four single malts distinguished by finish, not age. The four are Sherrywood, Peated, Single cask, and Madeira finish; this is the bottle I am sampling at the moment. I enjoyed the flavor of this whisky, but for me, it was much too sweet to be a regular in my drinks cabinet. Next issue, Bushmills 10-year-old.
You can buy Penderyn for around $75.00 a bottle.
Nose - Peachy sweetness
Palate - Custard & toffee
Finish - Tropical fruits, raisins & vanilla
This is the first commercial whisky made in Wales since the 19th century. It is manufactured in the village of Penderyn in the Cynon Valley, Rhondda Cynon Taf from which the brand takes its name. If you wish to know more about Penderyn, go to:
This issue I stray from Single malt whisky to Bourbon, I met up with a friend again in the “Whisky Attic” of the Freakin Frog. Donald is a serious Bourbon drinker and tried his best to corrupt me with a taste of Booker's True Barrel Bourbon. I have to say I was very impressed and will not be averse to drinking it again in the future. But, sorry Donald, my preference is still for Scotch whisky.
We had the very good fortune to be in the “Whisky Attic” when the owner Adam Carmer was present, you’ll travel the world over and be hard-pressed to find a more knowledgeable man than Adam when it comes to whisky. More on the whisky tasting on page two.
You can buy Booker's True Barrel Bourbon for around $75.00 a bottle.
Nose - Big oak, vanilla, smoky charcoal
Palate - Intense, fruit, tobacco
Finish - Clean, long, intense
Want to know more about the “Whiskey Attic” go to;
This issue I look at the Bladnoch 8-year-old single malt whisky, as this is the month we celebrate the birth of Robert Burns, with Burns nights being held around the world. The Bladnoch distillery is the most southerly whisky distillery in Scotland and is just a few miles down the road from where Robert Burns was born. I mentioned in the previous newsletter that the Highland Park 18 is a good accompaniment with Haggis, I can’t say the same about this one. However some of you may not like Haggis (I can’t understand why), so this gives you a whisky option for Burns night.
You can buy Bladnoch 8-year-old for around $300.00 a bottle.
Nose - Fruity, sea air, hints of coffee
Palate - Bold, a little creamy, citrus (lemon, grapefruit, green apples)
Finish - Long with a touch lemon peel
This issue I look at the Highland Park 18-year-old. This whisky was
recommended by my good friend and old shipmate (HMS Yarmouth) from my Navy days, Jim Smart from Dundee, Scotland.
After our first visit to the Grand Canyon, my wife and I with our friends, Mike and Pat stopped the night in Flagstaff, Arizona, and had the good fortune to go into the “Uptown Billiards” bar where they boast a fine selection of over 60 Single Malt whiskies.
I have to say I was very impressed with this whisky and will have to make room in my liquor cabinet for a bottle, for a future tasting. Thank you Jim, a great recommendation.
My turn………………………...“Highly recommended”.
You can buy Highland Park 18-year-old for around $130.00 a bottle.
Nose - Floral with a hint of heather
Palate - Nuts, honey, lightly peaty & salty, slight pepper
Finish - Spice, oak, smoky, very dry & warm
In January we celebrate Burns night, so this is a recommendation for dinner; Honeyed, rich and peppery, works well with the 'Neeps and Tatties' and the rich gravy.