Sunday, July 26, 2009


I was recently enjoying a dram of Glen Grant 16yr (I believe it was either a DT or G&M bottling)... beautifully sherried with a touch of peat. Anyhow, I added a few drops of water and the wonderful un-chillfiltered haze began to form. It really started to open up and give off toffee notes so I hit it with another couple drops (literally, like 2 drops of water). Bam. The delicious aromas and taste flattened out immediately. Lesson here? Not all whiskies can take the same amount of water, even at full cask strength (59.5% ABV in this instance). :(

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ardbeg Supernova

The whisky that has collectors throwing elbows and older enthusiasts scoffing at the hype surrounding it. It’s Supernova, the supposed peatiest whisky available and yours truly procured a bottle just over the suspected retail price which is nothing short of a miracle (2009 General Release as opposed to the earlier white label Committee release… even as an Ardbeg Committee member, this didn’t automatically mean you could buy a bottle, but more on that some other time).

A: A light golden yellow. Due to the higher alcohol content (58.9% vs. 54.2%) and lighter color, I suspect the Supernova is a younger whisky than the Uigeadail.

N: Quite peated, but not the peatiest nose out there (surprising). Getting some cask (perhaps bourbon) and all the usual Ardbeg notes (earthiness and salty sea air).

T: Immediately peat, smoke, earth, sooty fire and rubber. Shockingly, I was expecting something far more brutal (as if my description wasn’t brutal). The level of intensity seems to be on par with Uigeadail, but a little less sweetness and a little more peaty fire… a more savory finish.

To be honest, I picked this up more as a novelty piece not expecting to really enjoy it. I was expecting something more raw peat bog-y, fiery, and quite frankly, destructive (think Port Charlotte). On the contrary, it’s actually fairly well balanced and dare I say it, I think I enjoy it more than the Uigeadail (my little whisky club agrees… half the bottle was missing after the first tasting :cries:). With the scarcity and current private sale prices, I’ll be a little more careful with the remainder of the bottle.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Scotch Budget

Let today be marked as the day I established a budget for myself (out of necessity) which makes sense while remains rather lenient.

Well, I tried.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I just authored my first Scotch related joke®

Q: What do you name someone who is Scotch-Korean?
A: Highland Park

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Glenlivet Nàdurra 16yr

I never cared much for Glenlivet. I foolishly passed judgment on the entire distillery based off of their cheapest, most mass-produced whisky (standard 12yr bottling). I first heard about Nadurra from an Absolut Mango spokesperson, bizarrely enough. After seeing the name tossed around a bit and doing a little digging, I figured it’d be worth picking up (certainly cheap enough).

First of all, interesting presentation. No, not just the lovely box and wrapping paper. The Nadurra is bottled at cask strength at a whopping 57.7% ABV. It is also non-chill filtered and from what I can see, most likely does not have any caramel coloring added (appropriately enough, Nàdurra apparently means Natural in Scotch Gaelic).

I was waiting for the right… mood to open this bottle. After the Glenfiddich tasting, I figured I’d give it a go since my palate was expecting something light and fruity. Nadurra was no such thing.

Appearance: Light and golden. Noticeably more oily than the Glenlivet 12yr.

Nose: Neat, was expecting 115.4 proof toxic fumes. But no, it had a bold freshness to it. Floral. Woody. Nutty. As it opened up (no water yet), it was changing quite a bit. Moving to a more toffee sweetness. More oaky than sherry.

Taste: Neat, it is oily and POWERFUL! Initially overwhelmed by the alcohol then the senses are thrown off by the mix of woody, spicy notes. Ever so slightly medicinal and get this… the whole time, it’s peaty! After water, it gets creamy and honey-ed with a certain spicy sweetness (like ginger). Finishes with a touch of citrus.

Amazingly well-balanced and complex whisky. Excellent presentation and totally affordable. Would definitely give pricier Highland Parks a run for their money!

Monday, July 13, 2009

I just discovered a Macallan 12yr I had on my shelf was bottled around 1999-2001. I just assumed it was a recent bottling and could be repurchased easily. I haven't had any of it since last Christmas, but I never realized how fine of a whisky it was until tonight. Quite sherried and opens up quite nicely!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Glenfiddich 12 vs. 15 vs. 18

Glenfiddich. Every bar has it as well as every liquor store. Why am I reviewing something so "pedestrian"? The lovely triangle shaped, colored bottles? The stag? While far from my favorite SMS, it was my first. This is probably the first time I poured myself 3 simultaneous drams... and the results were interesting. Let's draw some quick comparisons between these three recent bottlings:

12yr: $27.99 (retail); 40% ABV
15yr: $39.99 (retail); 40% ABV
18yr: $52.99 (retail); 43% ABV

Glenfiddich is not shy with their use of caramel coloring (just look at the ultra-caramely 15yr). What's interesting is that when poured, each is slightly darker than the previous. Same amount of caramel in each bottle or is Glenfiddich afraid of their customers pouring themselves multiple drams like I just did?

Oiliness looks about the same in each glass.

True to Glenfiddich tradition, each smells quite sweet. Fruity. Lots of apples.

12yr: Light. Airy. Fruit juice. Tea. After a few drops of water, fruit juice is more pronounced.
15yr: Most fragrant of the lot. Immediately lots of cask (sherry?). Toffee as well. With water, the sherry seems more rounded out. Toffee seems to calm down.
18yr: Slight cask (not quite sherried like the 15yr). Tea as well. With water, starts smelling like toffee.

12yr: Light. Fruity. Malty. Tiny bit of peat. With water, tea really comes forward.
15yr: Casky/wine-y. Honey. Richer than the 12yr and 18yr. Tea. With water, gets even winier. More tea. Can detect a hint of peat.
18yr: Richer than the 12yr. Wine-y (not quite sherry). Tea. Spice. Peat. Finish is kind of wonky/off (definitely coming from the cask). With water, it doesn't really seem to change at first. This one needs time to open up as it does get better. Finishes slightly salty and spicy.

It's interesting how dramatically different these three whiskies are. It's VERY obvious each whisky was handled differently (whether it be different types of casks or vattings or finishing methods)... much more than just soaking up an extra 3 years worth of cask. I'll most likely keep around a bottle of the 12yr or 15yr for my less adventurous guests, but hilariously enough, I don't think the 18yr is worth the money!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Talisker Distiller's Edition and 175 Anniversary

Here we have two less common bottlings of Talisker (one of my personal favorite distillers). Both are distinctly Talisker, yet have enough character on their own to deserve a comparison. Both fairly boozy bottled at 45.8% ABV like the 10yr and 18yr.

Talisker Distiller's Edition
Distilled in 1996. Bottled in 2008.

Appearance: Quite caramelly. Questionable usage of artificial coloring like Talisker's standard bottlings. Fairly oily. Moderately filtered.

Nose: Neat, fairly boozy, good dose of peat and salt. Not unlike the 10yr. With a bit of water, it instantly turns into toffee. Like candy. Malty. A hint of cask (most likely Sherry).

Taste: Neat, the arrival is quite Sherried. Plenty of alcohol burn. Large amounts of peat. Finishes quite salty. With a bit of water, it's more subdued. The sherry sweetness is more rounded out. Still tons of peat and salt. It's like the 10yr only slightly Sherried and less chili.

Talisker 175th Anniversary
A "blend" of hand selected casks to commemorate Talisker's 175th Birthday. Bottled in 2005.

Appearance: Barely lighter in color than the DE. Slightly less oily as well.

Nose: Neat, just as boozy. More gentle than the DE. Definitely smell more Sherry than the DE. With a bit of water, it's almost delicate. Sherry is pronounced. Hint of toffee.

Taste: Neat, the arrival is "winy"... not quite Sherry, but present from start to finish. Spicy and chili, but not as much as the 10yr. Not nearly as salty either. With a bit of water, it gets even "winier" with a good marriage of the peat and spice. Finishes slightly dry.

All in all, great offerings from Talisker but my heart stays with the 10yr and 18yr due to the heavier dose of peat/salt/spice and lack of Sherry sweetness.

NOTE: My understanding and ability to differentiate casks is quite piss poor. I can barely identify Sherry vs. Bourbon (vs. maybe Madeira) unless it's glaringly obvious.