Saturday, July 30, 2016
Whisky Review: Cragganmore 12 years Single Malt Scotch
Single Malt Scotch Whisky
$73 and less
Beautiful sherry notes waft up in heavenly fashion, oranges, dandelion.
Golden barley, marzipan, dark honey smeared on dark toast, almonds, hazelnuts, rose petals, and great complexity of all these flavors.
Medium length of flavors remaining upon the palate include creamy caramel, hint of lemon pith and grapefruit, wisps of very fine Cuban cigar smoke: H. Upmann, and finally salty sea spray.
This is a gateway drug for whisky novices. Cragganmore will reveal to you the majesty of single malts if you as a novice have ever wondered what all the fuss was about.
Cragganmore is a stunning exercise in complexity of subtle flavors of honey, barley, lemon and sea spray.
Widely available and generally reasonably priced, what can I say?
Whisky Review: Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 years
Approximately 40 different whiskies make up this blended Scotch whisky. Each whisky has a minimum age of at least 12 years. The proportion of grain and malt whiskies making up this blend is unknown.
There is artificial coloring added too.
The price is sharking up.
But, guess what? It's still the best 12 year old blended Scotch in the market place.
Vanilla, gentle peat, ocean air with a salty tang, orange rind and floral notes.
The taste experience commences with smooth, sweet cinnamon, caramel, toffee, toasted almonds, brown sugar, malt, some spiciness, but not to the point of pepper, which evaporates quickly into clouds of subtle peat and smoke.
Very restrained peat with a flourish of smoke and grains of sea salt round out this tasting experience.
This is the gold standard of 12 year old blended Scotch category. Costs a bit more, but is worth it. Very consistent bottle to bottle. The master blender and team do an amazing job of maintaining the consistent flavor bottle to bottle, batch to batch.
Thursday, July 14, 2016
Whisky Review: Pig's Nose Blended Scotch Whisky
Pig's Nose Blended Scotch Whisky
Twist off metal cap
Blended Scotch, just above entry level candidate like Ballantine's Finest.
Spirity, floral, sweetness, roses, dusty sherry.
Sweet entry of raspberries, strawberry jelly, but quickly turns malty, cheap oak chased by a spicy graininess that I liked to carmelized onions on a steak. Good on steak but not in your whisky.
Some malt, oak and strawberries fight against an unrelenting tide of graininess, and ordinary table salt and pepper and loses. You are left with pencil lead and stale rye bread.
This is Cream Soda with alcohol. Sweet strawberries contributed to by ex sherry casks that have seen better days, old oak and grain whiskies that overwhelm. The young whiskies making up this blend are too young contributing to graininess that is over the top. The sherry notes contributed by ex-sherry casks taste more like balsamic vinegar. Not a good thing.
This is not suitable for sipping. Use it as a base of a whisky cocktail. I cannot recommend this to be enjoyed neat. That being said, the company that produces this whisky does make a great blended malt called Sheep Dip that I would encourage you to try.
Monday, July 11, 2016
Whisky Review: Black Bottle Blended Scotch Whisky
In 2013, Burn Stewart Distillery relaunched a long established blended Scotch brand: Black Bottle. They changed the bottle and they changed the contents. With a new mashbill the question is whether or not it is as good as the older version?
Prior to 2013, Black Bottle was a wonderful blended Scotch with a tremendous amount of smooth, sweet Islay whiskies with some grain whiskies that were never offensive. A real treat that was super cheap to buy too! I mean typically around $23 or so. It and White Horse dominated the very best of blended Scotch whisky bargains. The new version tasting note is as follows:
Spirity, young for sure, but getting past that it exhibits notes of sea air, smoke, roses. Nothing special here, nor did I expect an incredible nose given the cheap blend price.
Sherry for sure, hardly any Islay influence like peat and smoke. I am tasting black grapes, black cherry, graphite, pencil lead and young oak.
Smokey, like a damp wood fire beachside, with much grainy notes, sandy, mineral water and herbs.
Big disappointment. This is a shadow of its predecessor. What was once a wonderfully smooth and peated blended Scotch with plenty of Islay notes of tar, seaweed and dulse is now a tired, boring and young whisky exhibiting dull black grapes, black cherry and little smoke.
Do not buy. This represents a cheap blended Scotch whisky experience that I do not care to repeat.
If you ever see the old Black Bottle on a shelf, buy it! Here is a review of the pre-2013 bottling: