Thursday, September 21, 2017

Whisky Review: Lagavulin 8 years single malt Scotch

Scotch Whisky Review
 Lagavulin 8 years 

Single Malt  

Port Ellen, on the Isle of Islay 

Age Statement
 8 years 

Cork Stopper


Limited Edition 
20,000 bottles released to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the distillery. 

Varies widely, but in New Hampshire I paid $60. Reasonable but I have seen some very high prices elsewhere in excess of $100 (not reasonable). 

Wood Management 
Aged exclusively in refill bourbon casks. No ex-sherry casks involved. 

Nose (undiluted) 
Without water, the aromas that lift out of your glass are delightful. Minty, hickory wood, seaside bonfire, hint of banana and lemons too. Add water and these aromas are blurred. 

Palate (diluted) 
You really have to add some water given the 48% ABV. With a little water you will get big time salt, loads of hard, coarse salt, custard and of course smoke and peat. There are green minty notes with wet wood smoke too. 

Finish (diluted) 
Dry zing of black peppercorns, dry ginger, camphor, menthol and phenolic notes abound. 

General Impressions
This is a bold expression from the Lagavulin distillery that serves up lively peat and smoke, lemon zest and banana, plus some wood char. It is really comparable in taste to Ardbeg 10 or Laphroaig Quarter Cask.

Lagavulin 8 years is a youthful, robust peat bomb in a glass. Do not think of this whisky as a younger version of Lagavulin 16 years. They are very different whiskies.

Definitely peat and smoke fans of Islay malts will enjoy, but if Islay malts are not your cup of tea, then probably best to avoid this expression and opt for something that is gentler like an easy going blend (Islay Mist, White Horse, etc.). Personally, I prefer a more refined taste of the 16 year old Lagavulin, but that is a different malt all together given the aging in sherry casks and much older malts. 

Thanks for reading! 



Sunday, September 10, 2017

Whisky Review: Chivas Regal 12 years Blended Scotch Whisky

Chivas Regal 12 years old

They are two titans of the 12 year age statement blended Scotch whisky category.  One is Johnnie Walker Black.  The other is Chivas Regal.

I like both.

I like Chivas for the honey sweetness, spices and apple notes.  Sometimes I just want an old friend along while we watch the game.  Don't have to make much chit chat.  Chivas won't let me down.

Black Label is spicy cinnamon and caramel, accented with smoke due to the blending malts Talisker and Caol Ila.  Black Label is caramel while Chivas is honey.  Each has its time and place.  While Johnnie Black is more complex and probably is the superior dram in the category, it is invariably more expensive, often when I am light in the wallet, which makes Chivas (often on sale) a lot better company.

Blended Scotch Whisky

Core Malts in Blend
Strathisla, Glen Grant, Glenlivet, Glenburgie, Braeval, and many others.

Widely available in over 151 countries.



Artificial Color?

Chill Filtration?

Plastic twist-off cap.  A little bit cheap and disappointing, and not in keeping with the fancy, but dated (e.g. thistle and castles) packaging and design.

Age Statement
12 years - no grain or malt whiskies less than 12 years and certainly some are older.

Style of Whisky
Classic Speyside

Nose (undiluted)
Vanilla, reserved oak, citrus, sliced apple.

Palate (undiluted)
Wild honey, spiced pumpkin pie, caramel, English cream, sugar pie, maple syrup on pancakes.  Sweetness is not cloyingly so.

Finish (undiluted)
While it is a short finish, the flavors are: lemon meringue, lemon zest, touch of smoke, slightest of slightest hint of peat, a sweetness that transitions to sour (but in a good way), and finally black pepper.  A distinct black pepper.

General Impressions
I like this blended Scotch.  It does not suffer from the all too common flaw of being too grainy.  It is honey and sunshine in a glass.  Virtually no peat or smoke, but that's ok.

I think the novice Scotch fan will really like Chivas Regal 12 years because it is balanced with no off-putting flavors.  In this regard, whisky newbies may prefer this over Johnnie Walker Black Label that has much more smoke and spiciness that novices may not enjoy.

When you factor in the price point, often on sale, how can you turn down an old friend?


Jason Debly