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Whisky

Newsletters

2017

 

 

The free whisky newsletters listed below each have the first page shown.

 

To read the full newsletter, click on the issue number in bold Blue type and it will open in a pdf.

"Whisky!!  

"Because no great story started with someone drinking water"

Issue 172  Glenglassaugh 30-year-old

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year when it rolls around. I now look at the Glenglassaugh 30-year-old, which I tasted in the Tolbooth tavern on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh. The Glenglassaugh distillery is situated on the eastern end of Sandend bay, a few miles to the east of the town of Buckie.
The distillery was founded in 1875 by Col. James Moir, seventeen years later the distillery was purchased by “Highland Distillers” who ran it until 1986 when it was mothballed.
The distillery remained silent until December of 2008 when a group of investors bought it and started production 
again, their tenure was short lived as in 2013 the BenRiach Distillery Company took over Glenglassaugh and brought it back to full production.
If you are thinking of splashing the cash for an older whisky, you will be hard pressed to find a deal as good as this.
Is it the best 30-year-old I have tasted, no it’s not, but it is a nice whisky and how often do you get the chance to drink a 30-year-old, so yes I do recommend this one.

 

You can buy Glenglassaugh 30-year-old for around $280.00 a bottle.

 

Tasting Notes
Nose - Coffee, citrus and cooked fruits


Palate - Dark chocolate, fruit compote & ginger


Finish - Long with fruit & nuts

 

Issue 171 Glenfarclas 15-year-old

I now look at the Glenfarclas 15-year-old, which has been on my bar in
the past. This is a whisky that could be labeled a “Sherry bomb” or
possibly a “Fruit bomb” this has a similar flavor profile to an older
Balvenie with lots of stewed fruits and is reminiscent of Christmas
fruitcake. If that is your thing, and you haven’t tried this whisky yet,
then this is an inexpensive bottle you need to try. (Recommended)
If this is really your thing and you are planning a trip to Scotland you
need to know about the “Mash Tun” restaurant in Aberlour, Speyside.
The Mash Tun is home to a wide and varied selection of whiskies. Most mportantly they have the exclusive Glenfarclas Family Cask Collection.
The Family Casks are a unique collection of 49 single cask whiskies,
with one for each consecutive year from 1952 to 2000.
The collection is unique as there is no other known collection of rare
and old whiskies that covers 49 consecutive years from the same
distillery. Start planning your trip!!

 

You can buy Glenfarclas 15-year-old for around $55.00 a bottle.
 

Tasting Notes
Nose - Sherried fruit


Palate - Christmas fruitcake


Finish - Long & fruity

 

Issue 170 - Stranahan's Snowflake

As this will be my Thanksgiving issue, I will look at Stranahan’s “Snowflake”, which I tried at WhiskyFest in San Francisco, while discussing it with Master Distiller Rob Dietrich.  I asked him, “why the unusual name”,  and he explained that just like snowflakes that are each unique, no two batches taste quite the same.  Once a year, Rob gathers samples from each cask-finish barrel and creates a uniquely individual Snowflake batch strictly by taste. Nosing and tasting each cask sample to find the perfect marriage of casks, Rob combines the various finishes to create a one-of-a-kind whiskey, released once a year only at the distillery in Denver, Colorado.

Last year’s release was December 3rd, this year’s has still to be announced, but should be announced shortly, you can go to their website to keep watch at www.stranahans.com where you can sign up for emails that will tell you when you can get it.  Although you will have to line up at the distillery to buy it.  I liked this whiskey a lot, and would buy it if I could get to the distillery,

for the release.  If you need further proof that it’s worth having look at the picture on page 2.  Also details of why the taste is a mystery.

 

You can buy Stranahan’s “Snowflake” for around $100.00 a bottle.

 

Tasting Notes 

Nose  - ?????????????????

 

Palate  - ????????????????????

 

Finish  - ?????????????????

 

Issue 169 - Glen Deveron 16-year-old

I now consider the Glen Deveron 16-year-old, which I tried while swanning around like a 1%’er (Justin) on a Virgin Atlantic “Upper Class” flight from London Heathrow to San Francisco.  It was pretty impressive with a bar you could sit or stand at and pouring drinks from a bottle, not using miniatures.

But what about the whisky?  Yes, it blended (pun intended) right in with the luxurious surroundings, this is a nice smooth and flavorful whisky.

It’s possible that you may not have heard of it, that’s because it has in the past been known as the MacDuff distillery and it’s whisky releases have carried that name.

This whisky and the 20 and 30-year-olds make up the “Royal Burgh”

collection, which unfortunately can only be bought through duty free in the U.K. and Spain.  The 16 is bottled at  40% ABV.

I can and do recommend it, but as usual, I recommend (if you can) taste a dram, before you buy a bottle.  However, if you like Glenlivet and Glenfiddich whiskies, chances are you’ll like this.

 

You can buy Glen Deveron 16-year-old for around $100.00 a bottle.

 

Tasting Notes 

Nose  - Apple, pear & maple syrup

 

Palate  - Toffee Apple & pears

 

Finish  - Oak & vanilla

Issue 168 - Deanston 12-year-old

I now consider the Deanston 12-year-old, which is bottled at a slightly higher 46.3% ABV, is non-chill filtered and has no added color.

Deanston started out in life as a Cotton mill in 1785 and lasted for 180 years before closing it’s doors, only for them to reopen shortly after (1965)  as a whisky distillery.   The distillery is situated 8 miles from Stirling and just 45min from Edinburgh and Glasgow, Deanston Distillery sits at the entrance to the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, on the river Teith between Perth and Stirling.

If you are a fan of Outlander, the distillery is just over the river from Doune castle used extensively in the TV series.

Although this is in everyway a highland whisky, to my taste-buds it tastes like a lowland whisky.  It is light it flavor, light in texture, and light in color, all things that I would relate to a lowland whisky.

More importantly; is it drinkable, well yes it is.  I can and do

recommend it, but as usual, I recommend (if you can) taste a dram, before you buy a bottle.

 

You can buy Deanston 12-year-old for around $55.00 a bottle.

 

Tasting Notes 

Nose  - Toffee & honeyed heather

 

Palate  - Fruit & spicy honey

 

Finish  - Vanilla & cloves

 

 

Issue 167 - Glenturret 10-year-old

I now consider the Glenturret 10-year-old, which is bottled at 40% and
comes from Scotland’s oldest working distillery. It was founded on the
same site as it stands today in 1775, and was a small farm operation
called Hosh Distillery. It is situated in the town of Crieff, which lies
between Perth and Stirling, and was legalized in 1837.
If you are wondering why the Glenturret sounds familiar, it is home to
The Famous Grouse, the UK’s favourite blended whisky, and the
Famous Grouse Experience
http://experience.thefamousgrouse.com
You may not have come across Glenturret whisky before, due to the
Distillery’s small production capacity and its importance in the
creation of The Famous Grouse blends, where the bulk of it’s
production goes. Therefore the amount of single malt releases under
the Glenturret name is held to a minimum. Only this 10-year-old is on
regular release, although other ages or single cask expressions do
occasionally appear. If you get the chance to try a Glenturret, then do
so, you are not just tasting whisky, you are drinking history.

 

You can buy Glenturret 10-year-old for around $48.00 a bottle.


Tasting Notes
Nose - Green apple, honey & malt


Palate - Green apple, citrus & sweet honey


Finish - slightly spicy sweetness

Issue 166 - Cragganmore "Port finish"

I now consider the Cragganmore Distiller’s edition double matured
"Port wood finish". That is one helluva name for a bottle of whisky, it
almost sounds like one of the “Kings (or Queens) in game of Thrones”.
Is a mouthful of this scotch worth the mouthful of words you have to
utter to get the barman to pour you a dram? In a word, yes.
Cragganmore distillery only use 300 casks each year which are filled into used port pipes (Spanish oak) for a further 6-18 months maturation.
This finishing adds further complexity to what was already a nice
Speyside whisky with additional fruit notes.
If you are wondering what this extra finishing does, think of the
Glenmorangie 10-year-old having an extra 2 years in a port pipe and
becoming “Quinta Ruban”. I find this whisky to have similar flavor
profiles, although, perhaps a little lighter in flavor.
Yes, this is more expensive than the Glenmorangie, and it’s less easy to find but, if you find it, I would recommend you buy it, it is a nice whisky.


You can buy Cragganmore “Port wood finish” for around $80.00 a bottle.
 

Tasting Notes
Nose - Plum & raisin


Palate - Cherry, chocolate & raisin


Finish - Grape jelly & anise

 

 

Issue 165 - Benromach 10-year-old

I now consider Benromach 10-year-old. This 10-year-old is aged for 9
years in a combination of 80% ex-bourbon and 20% ex-sherry casks
(all first-fill), and then married for 1 additional year in first-fill Oloroso
sherry casks.
The Benromach distillery has had a number of owners since opening in 1898, as well as being closed for long periods. The distillery was bought in the late 1990’s by Gordon & MacPhail, much better known as an independent bottler, who are now in full production making single malts.
Is it a nice whisky? Yes it is, would I buy it? No, I would not and here is
the reason why.
I just think that this price, is a bit steep for a 10-year-old, and if you
compare it against a Glenfiddich 12-year-old, it gets blown out of the
water on both price (under $30.00) and taste. That’s my approach on
tasting/buying whiskies, and yes, sometimes it involves buying a bottle that seems interesting and worth a try. Other times, I am fortunate in that I can try a new whisky in a bar and decide at that point that I will/or Will not buy a bottle.
However, if you can find it on sale for under $50.00, I’d say give it a try.

 

You can buy Benromach 10-year-old for around $60.00 a bottle.
 

Tasting Notes
Nose - Sherried fruits & green apple


Palate - Blackberry, raspberry, tropical fruits & a hint of peat smoke?


Finish - Fruit and a hint of peat smoke

 

Issue 164 - Crown Royal "Northern Harvest"

I now consider a Rye whisky, Crown Royal “Northern Harvest”, which I tried at ’Q’ bar in the Fairmont Empress hotel in Victoria, British Columbia, on my first visit to Canada a couple of weeks ago. Crown Royal “Northern Harvest” Rye is the first Canadian Whisky to earn World Whisky of the Year in Jim Murray’s Annual Whisky Bible 2016. For those of you that have been reading my whisky newsletters for a while, you’ll know that I have taken issue with some of mister Murray’s picks of “Best whisky in the world” over the years. I sometimes think he picks a whisky for shock value and to get his name out there, which obviously works. And to be honest, as much as I know a lot about whiskies, I would never presume to tell anyone that this or any other Whisky is the best in the world.
I will say, this is the best Rye, that I have tried.
Indeed, I bought a bottle to bring back to the USA for my bar, so yes, I really like it. “Best in the World?” that I don’t know, but it is a fine whisky and I do recommend it highly, and the price can’t be beat.

 

You can buy Crown Royal “Northern Harvest” for around $25.00 a bottle.

 

Tasting Notes
Nose - Cereal & cinnamon


Palate - Butterscotch, oak & spicy vanilla


Finish - Cinnamon, oak & a little heat

 

Issue 163 - Highland Park Valkyrie

I now consider “Valkyrie” the latest (just released) whisky from
Highland Park and recent winner of the Chairman’s Trophy in
the 2017 Ultimate Spirits Challenge, scoring 99 out of 100.
It has the usual flavors that you would expect from a Highland
Park with smoke and fruits nicely balanced, however the smoke
is more pronounced than in a regular Highland Park.
The Valkyrie has approximately 50% peated barley malt and
being Orcadian peat that means, you get the classic smoky
heather notes.
But it does not overpower the fruit and the hint of chocolate is
a nice taste accompaniment.
Valkyrie is the first bottling in Highland Park's “Viking Legend”
series in partnership with Danish designer Jim Lyngvild who
can trace his lineage back to Viking times. What do I think of it?
I bought a bottle for my bar, so yes, I recommend it.

 

You can buy “Valkyrie” for around $70.00 a bottle.
 

Tasting Notes
Nose - Cocoa, orange & heather smoke


Palate - Green apple, plum, chocolate, smoke & spice


Finish - Chocolate, liquorice & smoke

Issue 162 - Dalmore 18-year-old

I now consider the Dalmore 18-year-old, which I tried in the Fair Oak (Sacramento, California) Brewery over the Father’s day weekend. I also had one of their “Tangerine” beers (very nice) and we shared a pulled pork pizza, which according to Tracey was one of the best pizzas she has ever tasted.
Anyway, back to the whisky. I am very familiar with the Dalmore whiskies and was fully expecting huge amounts of Christmas fruitcake and spices, like those in the 15-year-old. To my surprise, this was much more subdued, more mellow and very easy to drink, it was also relatively easy on the wallet at $16.00 for a dram.
The Dalmore series are in my opinion; one of those benchmark
whiskies that are just consistently topnotch, and if I was asked to
describe them with one word? I’d say classic.
For those unaware they are made by Whyte & Mackay who own
the Dalmore distillery and their Master Distiller is the world
renowned Richard Patterson, known within the industry as
“the nose”.
He is also known for many other accomplishments, such as the
stunning recreation of the “Shackleton” whiskies and the
“Constellation” collection. Final word; Buy one, it’s so worth it.

 

You can buy Dalmore 18-year-old for around $110.00 a bottle.

 

Tasting Notes
Nose
- Chocolate, raisins & orange


Palate - Chocolate, coffee, raisins, pear & orange


Finish - Citrus & oak

 

Issue 161 - Glenfiddich Project XX

I now consider the new Glenfiddich “Project XX”. Which I have just
tried, thanks to my good friend David McDonald who brought a bottle
into the office for our Friday whisky. This is the second in the new
Glenfiddich experimental series, the first being the “IPA” finish (issue
146). This whisky is quite unusual in that Glenfiddich invited 20 whisky
experts from around the world, to come to the distillery. When they
arrived they were tasked with each picking a different barrel from within the warehouse. From these 20 barrels the Glenfiddich Malt Master Brian Kinsman, would work his magic and combine/marry varying amounts from each barrel to make the finished product that would become “Project XX” (See page 2 for a visual of the process).
Unfortunately for me, this whisky, that was , at least partially made by
committee falls a bit short of the superb standard that Glenfiddich
normally adheres to.
It’s a very rare day when you catch me being critical of Glenfiddich, but I am used to their whiskies having robust flavor profiles, with a nice oily mouthfeel to them. This whisky to my taste is a little young (NAS) and thin, with light flavors. But please keep experimenting!

 

You can buy Glenfiddich “Project XX” for around $85.00 a bottle.
 

Tasting Notes
Nose
- Pear, apple & liquorice


Palate - Toasted almonds, cinnamon & cotton candy


Finish - Cotton candy sweetness

Issue 160 - Springbank 12-year-old Burgundy

I now consider the Springbank 12-year-old “Burgundy”. As you have
probably guessed from the name, it was aged fresh Burgundy wine
casks and is a limited edition bottled at a cask strength of 53.5%

giving nice bold flavors.
As you will be aware if you read my whisky newsletters David
McDonald and myself attended the “Whisky School” at Springbank
last year and I wrote about it in issue 141 that featured the Springbank "Longrow". We spent one day working in the bottling hall and this is the whisky that we bottled, so we had to buy a bottle for our bars.
The way this tastes, that is not a sacrifice, just a fortunate bonus for us. 
Our friend Justin says that it is his favorite whisky and he has tried a
few, mainly at our urging.
The downside? It was a limited release of only 10,260 bottles and time
is passing since it was released last year , so it might be hard to find.
I actually found it at Total wine in Roseville, California.
I’m sure with the help of the internet, like most things, if you want it,
you will find it.
I recommend you try!

 

You can buy Springbank 12 “Burgundy” for around $110.00 a bottle.
 

Tasting Notes
Nose
- Raisins & red currants


Palate - Think pancakes spread with Nutella & drizzled in cream


Finish - An initial herb/spice note, fading to vanilla & mint ice cream

Issue 159 - Glenmorangie "Milsean"

I now consider the Glenmorangie “Milsean” the seventh release in the
Glenmorangie Private Edition range , there are 8 whiskies in the range.
pages 3, 4 and 5 list the other whiskies in the range.
What’s in a name? The name Milsean comes from the Scots Gaelic for
'Sweet Things'.

There are some whisky makers that seem incapable of making a bad
whisky, at least for me, Glenmorangie would be one such company, I have yet to taste a bad Glenmorangie. Take this whisky, why would you want to make a whisky that tastes like candy (sweets, for those back in Scotland and lollies for my family members down under).
Not the smartest move, you would think, but it still works and works well, this is a nice, a really nice whisky, the “candy stripe” packaging is a bit much, but what’s in the bottle is spot on.
Initially matured in ex-bourbon casks giving the coconut and toffee flavors it, is the finished in Portuguese wine casks, where most of the sweetness And the fruity flavors will come from.
Final thought; It’s a Glenmorangie, how can you go wrong?

You can buy Glenmorangie “Milsean” for around $115.00 a bottle.

 

Tasting Notes
Nose
- Candied fruit, coconut & toffee


Palate - Sweet orange & melon


Finish - Ginger & sweet strawberries

Issue158 - SMWS "Slightly Wicked Sweet Treats"

I now give you my thoughts on the Scotch Malt Whisky Societies’ “Slightly Wicked Sweet Treats” a 12-year-old whiskey, bottled at 61.3% ABV, which you would think would make it akin to ‘rocket fuel’, but actually that is most definitely not the case, the fiery burn you are expecting does not materialize.
This whisky has spent it’s life in a ‘refill ex-bourbon hogshead’ and is a
very exclusive bottling for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society with only 252 Bottles available.
I have to thank my friend Arthur, who was meant to come and visit with 
his lovely wife Pat, when they were down from Canada. Arthur was bringing this whisky with him, so we could try it together, unfortunately, as it does, fate stepped in and changed their plans.
So Arthur, ever the gentleman, sent the whisky to me so I could try it,
this is my first taste of any of the Scotch Malt Whisky Societies whiskies and it was a treat. You weren’t aware Arthur, that I have been debating (with myself) for a couple of years about joining the Malt Whisky Society, but my geographical location has held me back. Not that I couldn’t join, but if I did, I’d really like to take advantage of some of their private clubs, none of which are close to where I live.
Final thought; if you see it, buy it!

 

You can buy ‘Slightly Wicked Sweet Treats’ for around $70.00 a bottle.

 

Tasting Notes;
Nose
- Cinnamon, ginger & toffee


Palate - Toffee apple, plum & walnuts


Finish - Citrus, ginger, toffee & a little spice

Issue 157 - Bushmills "Sherry Cask"

I now give you my thoughts on the Bushmills Sherry Cask Reserve,
which is a no-age statement whiskey, bottled at 40% ABV, after it has
been exclusively matured in first-fill Oloroso sherry butts.
Unfortunately; it’s only available to buy in the travel retail sector. I say
unfortunately because, it is a lovely whiskey and quite the surprise, for 
me, at least, it is the first time I have tasted an Irish whiskey that has a sherry finish, but hopefully not the last.
A word of thanks at this point goes out to James, (the perfect host), who was very generous with this hard to come by whiskey, not just to myself, but to anyone with an interest in good whiskey.
One of the cool things about the packaging on this bottle, as well as that of future Steamship Collection releases, is that the design was inspired by the voyages of SS Bushmills in the 1890’s carrying it’s cargo of Bushmills Irish whisky to the four corners of the world.
So it is rather appropriate that the first sales of this new line of whiskies, are being launched in travel retail, it is however my fervent hope that they will be released (soon) into the mainstream market.

 

You can buy Bushmills Sherry Cask for around $130.00 a bottle.
 

Tasting Notes
Nose
- Sherried fruits and honey


Palate - Dried fruits dipped in chocolate


Finish - Chocolate, spicy fruits

Issue 156 - Balvenie 15-year-old Single barrel

I now give you my thoughts on the Balvenie 15-year-old single barrel,
which I have tasted a number of times and after you taste it, I’m sure,
that like me, you will keep going back for more.
If I were to tell you that there is tons of fruit on the nose and on the
palate, I seriously doubt that you would be surprised, not if you have
ever tasted any other Balvenies. It’s just something that comes
naturally, like it rains in Scotland, the Balvenie has tons of fruit.
This particular Balvenie has spent all it’s maturation in an Oloroso
sherry cask/ barrel.
The “Single Barrel” on the label means that only
a few hundred bottles of this actual spirit were bottled and it’s flavor
profile will be unique to this particular batch, as there will be flavor
variations, barrel-to-barrel, subtle maybe, but variations nonetheless.
That is why they print the cask number, cask fill date, bottling
date, and bottle number on the label.
Do I like it? It’s a Balvenie, what’s not to like! And the price is not
outrageous compared to some 15-year-olds I’ve seen.

 

You can buy Balvenie 15 single barrel for around $85.00 a bottle.
 

Tasting Notes
Nose
- Rich stewed fruits


Palate - Christmas fruitcake, molasses


Finish - Christmas cake with a little chocolaty aftertaste

Issue 155 - Chivas Regal "Royal Salute"

I now give you my thoughts on Chivas Regal "Royal Salute” 21-year-old - Sapphire Flagon, which I tasted recently, in the Mix night club in Sacramento, California. This is a blended scotch that includes no whisky younger than 21 years. What we have here is a delicate whisky very, very smooth to drink and at 40% ABV does not take water well, I recommend you at least try it neat.
The aroma is predominantly fruity and floral, whereas the taste, while having fruit, also has nuts, ginger and a barely perceptible touch of smoke.
Where did the "Royal Salute” come from, and when was that?
In 1953, Chivas Brothers wanted to pay tribute to Her Majesty
Queen Elizabeth II on her coronation by setting out to create
the ultimate blended Scotch whisky.
With the first flagons being adorned with the royal crest, and were actually bottled on the day of her coronation.
It was decided to call it "Royal Salute” after the 21-gun salute that has traditionally been given to honor reigning sovereigns since Medieval times.
I think this is a whisky worth having on your bar, and yes, it’s not a single malt, but at the price, it’s a whisky well worth having.

 

You can buy Chivas Regal "Royal Salute” 21-year-old Sapphire Flagon for around $100.00 a bottle.


Tasting Notes
Nose - Floral, fruit, toffee & oak


Palate - Hazelnut, fruit & ginger sweetness


Finish - Nutty sweet suggestion of smoke

 

Issue 154 - Tullimore D.E.W. "Phoenix"

Well, it’s that time of year again, time to get your “Irish on” and that
is what this newsletter is going to be all about, and to that, end I’m
featuring the Tullimore D.E.W. “Phoenix”.
This whiskey is a blend of all three types of Irish whiskey: Grain,
Malt and Pure Pot Still (batch distillation, along the same lines as
Scotch whisky stills, but as with most Irish whiskies distilled three
times).
The "Phoenix" is non-chill filtered and rich in flavors from finishing
in Oloroso Sherry casks.
The “Phoenix” is not classed as cask strength, but at 55% ABV it
could be.
Tullimore D.E.W. make some nice whiskies and this is one of their
best, it has typical Irish smoothness to it, but it also comes with
some lovely complex flavors.
If you want an Irish whiskey that is a cut above the normal, give this
one a try, you won’t regret it. Please don’t put it in your Irish coffee,
there are alternatives that will work just fine, including less
expensive Tullimore D.E.Ws.

 

You can buy Tullimore D.E.W. “Phoenix” for around $55.00 a bottle.
 

Tasting Notes
Nose
- Christmas cake & toffee


Palate - Raisin, apple & toffee


Finish - Warm, spice, toffee & fruit
 

 

 

Issue 153 - Dewar's Signature

I now give you my thoughts on the wonderful premium blend,
Dewar's “Signature” which I was given a bottle of, by my good
friends Jack and Sue Larkin.
I can’t figure out what I’ve ever done to deserve this good a bottle of whisky, but, who am I to argue with their good taste and wisdom.
This is a nice elegant, easy drinking whisky, that comes in at 40% Alcohol By Volume (ABV) and in my opinion does not need any water to calm it down or open it up, it’s perfect as it is.
This is a lovely complex whisky that starts you off with fruits, Herbs, light spices, and transitions into chocolate (chip cookies), and takes you through a long elegant finish with a hint of smoke.
So you could say that it tends towards a campfire “Smores” flavor, which most non-Americans won’t understand (drop me an email and I’ll explain).
My final comment “Thank you Jack and Sue, it was worth every penny.”


You can buy Dewar's Signature for around $200.00 a bottle.
 

Tasting Notes
Nose
- Berry fruits. Vanilla chocolate fudge


Palate - Fruit conserves, vanilla and chocolate


Finish - Long finish with honey and a hint of smoke

 

 

Issue 152 - Highland Park 15-year-old

I now give you my thoughts on the absolutely superb Highland Park
15-year-old, which was unfortunately discontinued, this may soon
be a memory, but what a memory it will be.
It never really hit me just how good this was, until I had a Oban
14-year-old, which is a long time favorite and I followed it with a
Highland Park 15-year-old and it blew the Oban 14 out of the water,
absolutely stunning.
I have yet to taste a Highland Park that wasn’t worth buying and
putting on my bar, and it’s a damn shame that they decided to stop
producing this whisky.
They did however replace it with their “Dark Origins” which is also
stunning!
I have heard a disturbing rumor, that they are going to discontinue
The “Dark Origins” I hope to hell, that’s all it is, just a rumor.

Bottom line, if you can find a bottle of this whisky, I highly
recommend you buy it.


You can buy Highland Park 15-year-old for around $75.00 a bottle,
depending on where you find it. retailers know it has been
discontinued and the price is going up.

 

Tasting Notes
Nose
- Citrus and sea salt


Palate - Peaty smoke, with sherried sultanas


Finish - Smokey and long

Issue 151 - Cutty Sark "Tam O' Shanter"

I now discuss my thoughts on the rather appropriate, for this time of year Cutty Sark "Tam O’ Shanter". This is a limited release of only 5,000 bottles, Tam O' Shanter is a rich, dark and fiesty 25-year-old blended whisky.
Named after and decorated with scenes from the Robert Burns
poem and accompanied by a book containing over 50 illustrations
by the late Alexander Goudie, this is a wonderfully packaged
Scottish gem.
To my taste it is reminiscent of a good highland malt, for me it
has a similar taste profile as the Dalmore 15-year-old, but with
added spice, so a little touch of water may enhance the drinking
of it.
Unfortunately for most of you, this newsletter comes too late to
buy some for your Burns night, for which it would be ideal, and a
good taste match for your Haggis, neeps and tatties.
However, it’s a fine whisky that you can enjoy any night of the
year, besides if you took it to Burns night, you’d be very popular
and it wouldn’t last very long.

 

You can buy Cutty Sark "Tam O’ Shanter" for around $210.00 a bottle.


Tasting Notes
Nose
- Christmas cake & leather


Palate - Malt, sherry & Stewed fruit


Finish - Very long, with dark spicy chocolate

Issue 150 - Highland Park "Ice"

As this issue is somewhat of a landmark, being number 150, I thought I’d do a rather special whisky from Highland Park called “Ice edition”. My friends Joanna and Parrish were kind enough to give me a bottle when I officiated their marriage in the Redwoods of Northern California last year.
As usual, Highland Park know how to market their whiskies and the oak frame package is top notch.
This is a limited release of only 30,000 bottles and is named/based on Norse mythology, Niflheim (or Niflheimr) is one of the Nine Worlds and was primarily a realm of primordial ice and cold. The bottle is made of blue colored glass (the whisky makes it look green) to look like glittering ice, the bottle shape has been designed especially to evoke the distinctive sharpness and coolness of the Ice Realm.
Next up for Highland park is a release called “Fire” based again on Norse mythology from the world of Muspelheim and the home of the fire giants.
After all that lore, what does it taste like? A little bit of Heaven (or Asgard), this is a truly wonderful whisky, the Pineapple with the peat smoke makes for an unusual, but Tasty combination.
Thank you Parrish and Joanna, very Much appreciated.


You can buy Highland Park “Ice edition” for around $350.00 a bottle.
 

Tasting Notes

Nose - Pineapple, mango hint of smoke


Palate - Peat smoke, pineapple and citrus


Finish - Long with a little heat

 

Issue 149 - Top 10 of 2016

(10) Glenfiddich 14-year-old
From Dufftown in the heart of Speyside. Not quite on a par with it’s wonderful 15-year-old big sister, but a great addition to the range. Another home run from Glenfiddich.

 

Featured in issue 123, December 2015
 

Approximate Cost per bottle - $60.00 a bottle.
 

Tasting Notes
Nose - Vanilla, citrus, caramel


Palate - Toffee, pear, baked apple


Finish - Long, sweet, oak & fruit

 

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(9) Glenfiddich 15-year-old

In my opinion, the best tasting whisky (against price), on the market today a constant in my whisky cabinet. This is also my break through whisky, after years of trying to taste something specific listed in the tasting notes, this is the one that delivered.

 

Featured in issue 11, April 2011

 

Approximate Cost per bottle - $55.00

 

Tasting Notes

Nose - Rich, spicy with oak & a small amount of peat

 

Palate - Honey, Pears, coffee, Spice with oak & chocolate.

 

Finish - Dry and spicy with some pepper

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(8) Jura Brooklyn

The “Brooklyn” is aged in American White Oak
Bourbon, Amoroso Sherry and Pinot Noir casks, which makes for a complex and in my opinion very tasty dram. After thinking about it for a little while, it kind of reminds me of the Highland Park “Dark Origins”, it is similar, but yet quite distinct, if you tasted them side by side you’d get what I mean.

 

Featured in issue 127, February 2016


Approximate Cost per bottle - $80.00


Tasting Notes
Nose - Raisins, smoke & coffee


Palate - Rich Berries, smoke & coffee


Finish - Nice long sherried fruit finish with a hint of smoke


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(7) Johnnie Walker Blue

I have to say that, I’m enjoying this more than I ever have before, possibly because it was bought for me (a definite possibility, I am Scottish after all).
In the past I have had a bit of a problem with the “Blue”, it seemed over marketed and over priced, and I developed a chip on my shoulder about it.
Last night I had a dram and gave it deep consideration, it is in fact a superb whisky, and the first thing that struck me, on tasting it was the smoke on the front end. I really don’t remember that much smoke on previous tastings.


Featured in issue 144, October 2016


Approximate Cost per bottle - $180.00


Tasting Notes
Nose - Berries, citrus & spices


Palate - Smoke, toffee & hints of chocolate


Finish - Floral, fruity, with honey

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(6) Highland Park “Dark Origin”
This whisky has no age statement (NAS), is bottled at 46.8% and is non-chill Filtered. I’m a big fan of Highland Park whiskies and this new one is a Standout, highly recommended.

 

Featured in issue 97, November 2014


Approximate Cost per bottle - $90.00


Tasting Notes
Nose - Cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla & liquorice


Palate - Light peat & chocolate orange


Finish - Long with heathery smoke & a little chocolate


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(5) Springbank 18-year-old
This is yet another stellar whisky from the folks at Springbank. It’s not a cheap whisky, but in this case you definitely get what you pay for. If you should purchase this fine scotch, and are inclined to the occasional cigar, try it with a Partagas Corona they match up very Well.


Featured in issue 135, June 2016 


Approximate Cost per bottle - $160.00


Tasting Notes
Nose - Strawberry, rhubarb, Marzipan


Palate - Honey, fruit, oats, liquorice


Finish - Long with coconut, chocolate and a hint of smoke

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(4) Bruichladdich “Black Art”
This is a spectacularly good whisky, which is annoying, as they are not
going to make it anymore, or at least that’s the last I heard. So if you see it, And can afford it, buy it. If you don’t like it, after you buy it, invite me round to your house and I’ll drink it for you.


Featured in issue 88, June 2014.


Approximate Cost per bottle - $200.00


Tasting Notes
Nose - Dried fruits, cherries, oak


Palate - Dried fruits, cherries, smoke, baked apple


Finish - Cherries, smoke, some brine


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(3) Springbank 15-year-old

Hailing from the Campbeltown Region (once proclaimed the ‘whisky capital of the world’) of Scotland.
This is an outstanding whisky, I like this a great deal, highly  recommended.


Featured in issue 110, May 2015.


Approximate Cost per bottle - $100.00.


Tasting Notes
Nose - Dark chocolate, Christmas cake, almonds, toffee


Palate - Raisins, dark chocolate, marzipan & vanilla


Finish - Long with vanilla, Oak, sherry & cocoa

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(2) Compass Box “This is not a Luxury Whisky”
Nothing special going on, on the outside, but on the inside HOLY KERSHMOLY!!
This is just a superb whisky and I had the good fortune to taste it while standing talking to John Glaser at last year’s WhiskyFest in San Francisco, and did he ever nail it with this. The youngest whisky in here is 19-years-old.  
Highly recommended.


Featured in issue 134, May 2016


Approximate Cost per bottle - $200.00


Tasting Notes
Nose - Fruit cocktail, raisins, cinnamon


Palate - Fruit cocktail, toffee, banana


Finish - Raisin, figs, coconut, sweet peat smoke


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(1) Gordon & MacPhail Speymalt from Macallan
What a treat! As soon as my nose got the aroma, it immediately reminded me of the Macallan ‘M’ that I had tasted the previous year in Edinburgh. This is luscious, luxuriously self-indulgent, completely and utterly decadent, well you get the idea.


Featured in issue 146, November 2016


Approximate Cost per bottle - $1000.00


Tasting Notes
Nose - Ripe fruits, nutmeg & cinnamon


Palate - Plum, toffee, raisin, stewed fruits


Finish - Long and full with raisins & sultanas