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"Laughter may be the best medicine, but a bottle of whisky makes a good
In this issue I look at the Glenfiddich 125th anniversary special release
25-year-old. Thank you Joanna from Youngs market company for giving me a taste of this rare and hard to come by whisky, very much
Those of you, who like myself are big Glenfiddich fans, will be surprised to hear that this whisky has notes of smoke and peat. Not huge amounts, but it is there and easily discernable.
Because of so few bottles being available this comes with a hefty price tag, in my opinion the taste does not live up to the price, mind you that would be asking a lot of any whisky at this price. It’s not a bad whisky, I like it, but even if I could afford a bottle, I think the money would be better spent, on the 12, 15, 18, 21-year-olds and the “age of discovery” range.
That being said, a “Happy anniversary” Glenfiddich, keep up the great
You can buy the Glenfiddich 125th anniversary special for around
$325.00 a bottle. If you can find one. I’d recommend an airport
duty-free as your best bet, you may even get it a little cheaper.
Nose - Some smoke, toffee and figs
Palate - Peat, honey, citrus and vanilla
Finish - Dry and smoky
It's hard to believe that Highland Park have only been bottling their own whiskies since 1979, starting with this, the 12-year-old. Highland Park is Scotland’s most northerly distillery and is situated in the Orkney islands.
I like this Whisky a lot and would put it in a similar tasting bracket
to Isle of Jura's Superstition, it has smoke, but not “in your face
smoke” like some of the Islay whiskies. In fact, I would say that it
has more peat flavor than smoke.
I highly recommend that you buy this, it has such great flavors for a relatively inexpensive single malt.
To know more about the Highland Park distillery, refer to issue 5
Posted on my website.
You can buy Highland Park 12-year-old for around $55.00 a bottle.
Nose - Floral, citrus & honey
Palate - Smokey sweetness, hint of orange
Finish - Smoke with a little heat
This issue I look at Macallan Fine Oak, 10-year-old. I was fortunate enough to receive a bottle as a gift from my friend, Steve Haines, and his father, Fred, when they came over from Wales for the World Rugby 7’s tournament in Las Vegas.
I really like this whisky and the 17-year-old fine oak is one of the best I’ve ever tasted, also the Macallan 12-year-old (Sherry finish) has been a favorite for years.
These are whiskies done right, unlike the nonsense that is Macallan’s no age statement 1824 series, based on the color of the whisky. This has come about, because of the increasing demand for scotch and Macallan (The Edrington group) realizing that they can’t keep up with demand. They have used younger whiskies along with this color scheme and tried to pass it off as a new way to gauge the quality of whisky……...BAD IDEA!!!
All my whisky drinking friends agree with me, that as bad ideas go, the 1824 series ranks up there with getting involved in a land war in Asia or going up against a Sicilian when death is on the line.
You can buy Macallan fine oak 10-year-old for around $50.00 a bottle.
Nose - Honey, vanilla, citrus
Palate - Honey, vanilla, citrus, butterscotch, some spice
Finish - Medium, honey, citrus, oak, some spice
In this issue I look at Jura “Prophecy.” As it is Halloween, when
better than this evening, to try this mysterious Spirit? Yes, it’s
a déjà vu moment, as I featured a Jura whisky for Halloween
2 years ago. This whisky is matured without chill filtration for
a huge peaty punch, this complex whisky is aged in Limousin
(French) oak casks and has an ABV of 46%. Isle of Jura's
'profoundly peated' Prophecy bottlings are released in small
batches and are drier, stronger and smokier than the Jura
The aromas and flavors are superb, but for me the
“Superstition” is still my favorite Jura whisky, but this one
runs a close second.
So would I buy it? I already did and it sits happily alongside
the bottle of “Superstition” on my bar.
In this issue I look at Old Pulteney 21-year-old. Aged in a
combination of Bourbon and Sherry casks, the 21 year has loads of dried apricots and an oily mouthfeel this whisky was rated the #1
Whisky in the World by Jim Murray's Whisky Bible for 2012.
This expression, which was created at the most northerly distillery in mainland Scotland, in Wick, Caithness, scored 97.5 points out of 100.
Do I agree with Jim Murray, no I don’t. As much as I like this, and I
do, I like it a lot. I actually prefer the Old Pulteney 12-year-old which reminds me of how whisky used to taste when I was young and the Whiskies weren’t finished in port/Madeira/Rum etc.
Everyone's taste differs, and my friend David McDonald rates this
21-year-old very highly, as do I, but the best in the world?
Maybe not, then again maybe I just need to buy a bottle and try it again?
You can buy Old Pulteney 21 year old for around $160.00 a bottle.
Nose - Spice, butterscotch, apple
Palate - Caramel, spicy, fruity with a hint of brine
Finish - Medium to long, caramel, hint of smoke & brine
In this issue I look at Sheep Dip “Old Hebridean” which I tasted at
Jack & Tony’s Restaurant and whisky bar in Santa Rosa California. This is a very rare 1990 vintage.
This deluxe special bottling of three iconic malts from Dalmore,
Fettercairn and Ardbeg was blended and further aged for 15 years, not a common practice and only 12,000 bottles were ever
The end product is quite wonderful with the marriage of flavors
giving a rich sweetness. Quite a low ABV at 40%.
I haven’t come across a bottle yet, but if I do I intend to buy it, and I suggest you do the same. This is a lovely wee dram.
You can buy Sheep Dip “Old Hebridean” for around $100.00 a bottle.
Nose - Fudge, Marmalade, Heather Honey and light Peat
Palate - Briney, Fudge, Marmalade, Honey and light Peat
Finish - Soft Peat, Oaky, Vanilla, Honey and Caramel
This issue I look at The Yamazaki 12 year old, which my friend and colleague Justin brought into the office for our “The weekend starts here” drink on Friday afternoons.
I had been looking forward to trying some Japanese whiskies for a while, unfortunately I found this disappointing. I have to say I don’t get it, this whisky has won awards and is lauded by all and sundry, none of us liked it. I tried it over a number of Fridays and it didn’t change my mind. Has it put me off Japanese whisky? No it hasn’t, I’ve tried scotches I didn’t like and it hasn’t stopped me trying others. There are a number of Japanese whiskies out there, and I’m sure to find some that I like.
You can buy the Yamazaki 12 year old for around $55.00 a bottle.
Nose - Cinnamon, jasmine and apple
Palate - Cedar, honey, vanilla, sour apple
Finish - Wood, honey
In this issue I look at Port Charlotte - PC7 'Sin An Doigh Ileach'
('It's the Islay way'), which I came across in Jack & Tony’s
Restaurant and Bar in Santa Rosa, California. This whisky is
matured in a combination of sherry and bourbon casks and is
Bottled at cask strength, which comes in at a huge 61% abv, so
taster beware, 43% abv is more the norm. PC7 is a heavily peated
release from the Bruichladdich distillery from their limited
Release Port Charlotte range.
What do I think of this? I like it, but then again I’m a big fan of
the whiskies that the Bruichladdich distillery puts out, I do
However think that 61% is a bit too strong and would recommend
some water with it.
I do think it’s a tad expensive though.
You can buy Port Charlotte - PC7 for around $125.00 a bottle.
Nose - Peat, smoke, caramel & citrus
Palate - Oily mouthfeel, heavy smoke, caramel apple
Finish - Long, smoky, spicy, Briney
In this issue I look at the Glenfiddich "Age of Discovery" 19-year-Old, Madeira Cask. Glenfiddich have now brought out 3 “Age of Discovery” expressions, the other two being the Bourbon and Red Wine cask finishes.
This is a superb scotch, nice and oily on the palate with wonderful flavors, so a big thank you to my brother-in-law Ivor for bringing me this bottle when he came over from Australia. There’s the rub, you can’t buy it in stores here in the USA, you either have to pick it up at duty free when travelling or you buy it online and pay the extra shipping costs.
That could set me off on a major rant, I have just received a couple of whiskies that I had to order from Scotland as they are not available here in the USA (at the moment) and the shipping was more than either bottle of Scotch. I think I may have to settled down this evening with a nice dram of “Age of Discovery” to calm down. Hold everything as I was putting this
newsletter together I found out that the Glenfiddich "Age of Discovery" 19-year-Old, bourbon Cask will go on sale in the USA this September.
You can buy Glenfiddich "Age of Discovery" for around $150.00 a bottle.
Nose - Gooseberries, grapes & orange
Palate - Fruity caramel, raisins & pepper
Finish - Warm, sweet marmalade
In this issue I look at the Glenmorangie "Quinta Ruban" 12-year-old. A
Gold Medal winner in the International Wine and Spirits Competition in 2008 and 2009. The Quinta Ruban is an intense, dark whisky in the extra matured range from Glenmorangie.
It first spends 10 years in American oak, then another two in Port pipes and is non-chill filtered.
While drinking this I’m reminded of the Balvenie 21 year old and the Macallan “Director’s Edition”, lots of rich fruit. Of the three whiskies I mentioned in the previous sentence which one would I buy on a regular Basis; I’d have to go with the Quinta Ruban. Why? Although initially enamored of the Macallan, I’m now finding it a little heavy, as for the Balvenie, I find no fault with it’s flavor, but at around $200.00 per bottle, sorry, I’ll pass. Been there, done that, too many whiskies to try. That’s why I’d go with the Quinta Ruban.
You can buy Glenmorangie "Quinta Ruban" for around $60.00 a bottle.
Nose - Spicy chocolate & Citrus
Palate - Caramel, nuts, raisins
Finish - Sweet, fruity & long
In this issue I look at Bastille 1789 French whisky, yes you read that
correctly “French Whisky.” This is actually a blended whisky, not a
single malt and I first tasted it at “WhiskyFest in San Francisco last
Note that it is spelled whisky, with no ‘e’ a nod to scotch perhaps, as
this is made in the blended scotch style with malted Barley and wheat.
After distillation it is matured for 5 to 7 years in Limousin oak, cherry,
and acacia Casks.
The sweetness on first tasting the Bastille reminded of the Welsh
whisky Penderyn, with this one being a little lighter.
Would I recommend this? Yes I would, not as my regular tipple, more
of an occasional whisky. Ideally sat outside on a warm evening, and
unusually for me, I’d have it poured over ice. This “sippin” whisky
with it’s strong fruit flavors is like dessert in a glass.
You can buy Bastille 1789 for around $35.00 a bottle.
Nose - Apricot, floral
Palate - Sweet, apricot, cherry, vanilla & spice
Finish - Cherry, spice & oak
As this issue will be my Independence day issue, I am featuring
a Bourbon; Woodford Reserve. This is a newcomer to the
Bourbon market as it first appeared in 1996, but quickly
became accepted as a high quality bourbon.
I am probably not the best person to be advising about bourbon,
as to my palate they tend to be sweet in comparison with single
malt scotches, which in my opinion detracts from their flavor.
I know, I know, not all bourbons are sweet and I shouldn’t
generalize; don’t attack me, Donald (you know who you are).
The bottom line, as far as this particular bourbon is concerned,
is that I have a bottle in my drinks cabinet and at that price
(below) I think it’s a good buy and will buy it again.
You can buy Woodford Reserve for around $35.00 a bottle.
Nose - Fruit & vanilla
Palate - Fruit, pepper, toffee & vanilla
Finish - Smooth long & spicy
In this issue I look at Samaroli ‘Evolution’ 2011, which I tasted at “Botega” restaurant in Yountville, California. This is a superb tasting whisky, and at the moment I have it at No.1 on my best whiskies of 2013 list, which comes out in January 2014. Very possibly my No.1 of all time!!!
A relative newcomer to America, this is a vatted malt (not a blend); a
marriage of many fine single malt whiskies ranging in age from 10 to over 40-years-old, with whiskies from as far back as 1957.
The “Evolution” is married in special sherry and American oak casks and the whiskies come from distilleries such as Bowmore, Glenlivet, and Bunnahabhain (for a full list of the whiskies and their ages see page 2.
The result is a luxurious whisky that melts in your mouth (or at least that’s how I’d describe it), it is just one of the best whiskies I’ve tasted.
You can buy Samaroli ‘Evolution’ 2011 for around $350.00 a bottle.
If money was no object, this is what I would buy.
Nose - Sherry, apples & figs
Palate - Spicy baked apple, fig and very slightly smoky
Finish - Long, elegant, Fruit compote
In this issue I look at Glenkinchie 10-year-old, which I tasted in the
Sofitel Hotel, Redwood shores in the Bay area of California. They have actually stopped making this whisky, replacing it with a 12-year-old , but if you look for it you should still be able to find it. I just saw a bottle on the shelf of my local “Liquor bank” here in Paradise, California.
This whisky, like me, is born in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland (or as close as makes no difference), and is known as the Edinburgh malt.
Glenkinchie is one of only three distilleries in the lowland region of Scotland, the others being Bladnoch and Auchentoshan. As I have mentioned earlier, in general I prefer Speyside or Islay whiskies, as lowland whiskies tend towards lighter, greener (grassy) flavors, however, I did like this one. If I had done a blind taste on it I would have said it was a Speyside Single Malt whisky.
You can buy Glenkinchie 10-year-old for around $60.00 a bottle.
Nose - Malt & biscuit (cookie)
Palate - Fruit pudding & caramel sauce
Finish - Fudge
In this issue I look at Compass Box "Peat Monster" a blended malt scotch, made with Caol Ila (more recently, Laphroaig) and Ardmore malts, which Jeff at Liquor bank (Paradise & Chico, California) gave me to try.
“Peat Monster” an intriguing name and not as much of a monster as you would assume, if for instance you compared it side by side with Lagavulin 16, the Lagavulin would blow it out of the water (in my opinion) as far as the taste of peat goes.
I find this whisky to be a triumph of marketing over taste, it’s not that it’s bad, it’s not, but it doesn’t live up to it’s name. For me (a peat fan), the flavor is there, but it disappears too quickly on the palate, a problem I tend to find with most (not all) blended whiskies.
Would I buy it? Yes, it’s relatively inexpensive and if you’re not expecting a “Peat Monster” it’s quite a nice dram.
You can buy Peat monster for around $50.00 a bottle.
Nose - Peat, Medicinal, fruity
Palate - Peat, smoke, oak & a hint of fruit
Finish - Peat, oak & sweet spice
In this issue I look at Macallan Fine Oak 17 year old single malt scotch. No beating around the bush, if you can afford it, buy it, it’s that good, this is a superlative whisky. I tasted this in the Sutter club in Sacramento recently.
I had a bottle of the Macallan Fine Oak 1o year old a while back, and it was a drinkable scotch, but it didn’t set my world on fire. This does just that, the extra 7 years of maturation on this whisky makes a world of difference.
In part it reminds me of a lowland whisky, light and floral with citrus notes to me though most lowland whiskies come across as lightweight. This has the finer points of a lowlander, without any of the drawbacks, it’s flavors really pop like a quality Speysider should.
If I have offended anyone with my talk of lightweight lowlanders, I apologize, this is just my opinion and I’m sure there are robust lowland Whiskies out there, I just haven’t found them yet.
You can buy Macallan Fine Oak 17 year old for around $160.00 a bottle.
Nose - Caramel, vanilla, flora, nuts
Palate - Vanilla, citrus & toffee
Finish - Medium with a hint of orange
In this issue I look at Johnnie Walker “Green Label.” Of all the Johnnie
Walker bottlings, Green was the only Blended Malt Whisky. All their
other bottlings are Blended Scotch Whisky (a mixture of various single
malts and grain whisky). The fifteen year old Green is a mixture of four Single malts: Talisker, Caol Ila, Cragganmore and Linkwood (not
normally sold as a single malt). All with a minimum age of 15 years.
Johnnie Walker is owned by the Diageo company and is not a distiller,
but a blender, who blends whiskies purchased from 27 different Scottish Distilleries.
Blended malt or vatted malt or pure malt, how Green Label was
previously known, means that the blend contains no grain whisky and it consists of single malt whiskies only. In 2004 the latter two descriptors were reclassified as "blended malt" by the Scotch Whisky Association to standardize Scotch whisky descriptors and to avoid confusion.
You can buy Johnnie Walker Green Label Blended Malt for around
$60.00 a bottle.
Nose - Heather, honey, green apple, banana.
Palate - Vanilla, banana & light smoke
Finish - Heather & honey
In this issue I look at anCnoc (pronounced as a-nock) 12-year-old single malt scotch, which I tasted for the first time when Jeff at Liquor bank (Paradise & Chico, California) gave me some to try.
This is an easy drinking single malt, which I enjoyed a lot. To me this is a quintessential Speyside whisky.
It has nice sweet malty notes with a subtle and distinctive complexity to it that, for me, makes it a standout Speyside whisky.
I can’t say that I had even seen this whisky before Jeff gave it to me. I can only assume that the owners don’t have a large marketing budget, which is a shame, as this deserves to be tasted. If you come across a bottle, I highly recommend you give it a try.
You can buy anCnoc for around $50.00 a bottle.
Nose - Sweet malt, citrus spice & red apple
Palate - Honey, pear, light smoke, touch of pepper
Finish - Medium with sweet oak & fruit
Studies show that carrots improve your vision.
Whisky doubles it!!!
In this issue (for St. Patrick’s day) I look at Tullamore D.E.W. 10-year-old. For the first time in its 180-year history, Tullamore D.E.W. has
released a single malt whisky that is distilled just twice. (The rest of
its whiskies are triple-distilled and are blends.) The rich 10-year-old
is also unique in that it has been aged in casks that have previously
held bourbon, sherry, Madeira, and port.
This is an easy going whisky, no overpowering flavors, the flavors
are there, but not too pronounced, just rich and mellow. If you only
drink Irish whisky at this time of year, you can’t go wrong with this
You can buy Tullimore D.E.W. for around $45.00 a bottle.
Nose - Malt & fruit
Palate - Rich Christmas cake
Finish - Malt & Sherry
In this issue I look at Glenfiddich 21-year-old Gran Reserva. This is an
outstanding whisky, which I first tasted at the Gaia Hotel in Anderson,
California where I hosted a whisky evening. I have tasted it a number of times since. Kudos to Brian Kinsman the Glenfiddich Malt Master; this is “class in a glass”, a sublime dram.
The 21 year old matures in American oak casks then the liquid is decanted into hand-selected Caribbean rum casks for up to four months, which imparts a rich toffee sweetness.
Although quite expensive, if you want to splash out on a luxury bottle for any reason, then I highly recommend this one.
You can buy Glenfiddich 21 for around $200.00 a bottle.
Nose - Honey, vanilla, toffee, dates, cinnamon
Palate - Rich honey, toffee & spice
Finish - Long buttery & warm, with spicy citrus
In this issue I look at Ardbeg 'Airigh Nam Beist' (Arry Nam Bayst),
which I tasted for the first time at Jack and Tony’s restaurant in Santa
Rosa California. Not only does it’s bar stock over 300 whiskies, but
there is a resident “Whisky professional”, Erin Payton. Erin is very
knowledgeable and is happy to guide you through the extensive menu
of whiskies to find exactly what you want.
This is Ardbeg’s third whisky offering after the 10-year-old and the
Uigeadail, and is named for “the lair of the beast, a loch above the
distillery that legend tells held a water horse (Kelpie).
If you like smoky scotches, this is one of the best I’ve tasted (and I’ve
tasted quite a few). It proved so popular that it may be hard to find;
you may have to shop around on the internet to find some:
You can buy Ardbeg 'Airigh Nam Beist' for around $160.00 a bottle.
Nose - Vanilla, pears, smoke & fruit
Palate - Ripe fruit, peat, pepper, dark chocolate, slightly briney
Finish - Long finish with smoke, coffee and liquorice
In this issue I look at “Monkey Shoulder”, a whisky I had been
hearing about from my friends in Britain for the last two years.
It has finally been released in California, so at last I get to try it.
This is a new blended malt which is made up of Balvenie,
Glenfiddich and Kininvie, all of which are owned by William Grant
& Sons, as is Monkey Shoulder.
Don’t confuse Blended Malt Scotch Whisky, which comprises only
Single Malt Scotch Whiskies (100% malted barley) from more than
one distillery with a Blended Scotch whisky. A blended whisky may
contain as many as 40 or 50 different malt and grain whiskies.
The normal ratio of grain to malt is 60% grain: 40% malt.
This is a superb creamy malt whisky with a nice overlay of subtle
You can buy Monkey Shoulder for around $35.00 a bottle.
Nose - Pear, cinnamon, butterscotch, vanilla
Palate - Oak, orange zest & a hint of spice
Finish - Medium with light vanilla, orange & cloves
In this issue I look at the Glenmorangie Original (10-year-old).
Every time I see this whisky I am transported back to July of 2007 and
hiking the West Highland Way in Scotland. We were in the bar of the
Rowardennan Hotel and when David McDonald asked for a Glenfiddich, the bartender told him (short version) “he’d be better with a Glenmorangie”, David liked it so much, that he had me train him (for the next few days while hiking) to pronounce it correctly.
This is a good inexpensive single malt, which more often than not has a spot in my drinks cabinet and I have no reservations in recommending it.
While it may not be as tasty as some of it’s older, more expensive and
exotically named siblings, you can’t go wrong with a glass of the
You can buy Glenmorangie 10 for around $40.00 a bottle.
Nose - Butterscotch & orange
Palate - Buttery toffee, orange & peach
Finish - Caramel & hint of Ginger
Starting at #10 and working down to #1;
(10) Oban 14 year old from the town of Oban.
This is a mainstay of my whisky cabinet.
Featured in issue 27, December 2011.
Approximate Cost per bottle - $65.00
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