WHEN WE DON’T HAVE TIME TO DEVELOP DETAILED TASTING NOTES FOR SAMPLED DRAMS OR COCKTAILS WE GENERATE BRIEFER NOTES WE CALL “NIPS”.
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Friday Night Drams: Scotch, Bourbon, Rye and Blends
Hillrock Solera Aged Bourbon Tamnavulin Double Cask Redbreast 12 years Redbreast 15 Years Caol Ila 12 Years Glenfiddich Fire & Cane High West Bourye (Jackalope) Wigle Pennsylvania Rye Abelour A’Bunadh Duncan Taylor’s The Octave for the Whisky Peddler Chivas Regal
Out and About: Royal Brackla 11 Years by Exclusive Malts
The color is natural, coming from its aging in new French red oak barrels. This whisky is a great example of the difference between American white oak versus European red oak barreling. The whisky’s flavor is characterized by more of the spice of European oak as compared with the deep vanilla sweetness imparted by American white oak. Water did need to be added to bring out the flavors and aromas of this very nice, rich whisky.
Bottle Kills: Lagavulin and BenRiach
Farewell old friends! The Lagavulin Aged 9 Years, released for the Game of Thrones Collection, is deliciously sweet and smokey at a perfect 46% ABV. The BenRiach is a single cask Speyside sherry bomb, released at cask strength of 57.6% ABV. The former needs only a glass. The latter needs a splash of water to release the flavors.
Friday Night Drams
The Balvenie 14 Yrs Caribbean Cask Longmorn Distiller’s Choice (NAS) Aberfeldy 12 Years Glen Scotia Campbeltown (NAS) Loch Lomond Inchmurran 18 Years
Out and About: Glenturret and Glenfiddich Cask of Dreams US Edition
The Cask of Dreams refers to the eleven oak casks that Glenfiddich took on a tour of the US, asking individuals to write their dreams and sign their names on the outside of the casks. See the tasting note on the Glenfiddich Cask of Dreams here.
Out and About: SMWS 72.50 “A Nomad’s Tent” (Miltonduff 31 Years)
Distilled 27 Nov 1984 at Miltonduff Distillery for 31 years. Only 210 bottles from this cask at 54.4% ABV. The Society’s notes are on the bottle.
A rich gold color with a slight hint of redness.
Nose: Surprisingly weak. Slight hints of citrus, oak and clove or nutmeg.
Palate: honey and California golden raisin. Big flavor in contrast to the nose.
Adding a little bit of water brought out the oak on the nose, defeated the alcohol vapors and highlighted the sweetness. The flavor profile went to a crystallized clover honey with barely a hint of char to the barrel.
That was a delightful whisky.
From Days Gone By
Unique finds shared by a family member looking to “clean out” a closet!
Researching this whisky wasn’t easy, the best I could find was from ScotchWhisky.com’s Whiskypedia:
“Ambassador is a discontinued export blend first created by Glasgow blender Taylor & Ferguson Ltd, which was a big success in the US but unknown elsewhere. Over the years it was available as De Luxe, De Luxe 8-year-old, 12-year-old and Royal 12- and 25-year-old. It is likely that the constituent malts included Scapa and Glen Scotia at some point due to the brand’s ownership. It is not known what its make-up was and is very much an auction item now.” https://scotchwhisky.com/whiskypedia/2303/ambassador/
I did find one store in New York City selling it for $499.99 and saw it on eBay for auction in the $225-$250 range. However, having two bottles, I decided to take one to a bottle share event to get the thoughts of others and it was fairly well received. So, here goes:
Color: a deep golden amber.
Nose: Old bottle mustiness leaves after the whisky has spent a few minutes in a glass; there is very little EtOH on the nose. Dried dark fruits and citrus are forward with some caramel towards the end. There is a very slight coastal aroma present, reminiscent of sea salt air
Palate/Finish: Mouth feel is light to medium in body and pleasant. Sweet fruits like apricot, plum and date, with orange zest come forward quickly, and a general oaky and malty flavor linger with the orange zest for the finish of medium duration and intensity.
There clearly is a sherry cask influence in this blended whisky and the constituent malts likely including Scapa and Glen Scotia would explain the gentle coastal brininess. The dram is very smooth and enjoyable. I can see myself pouring this for fellow whisky drinkers with some appreciation of history.
Out and About: Manatawny Still Works
Manatawny Still Works makes some of the most interesting and even impressive whiskies in the northeastern U.S. pictured is a wonderful and misnamed whiskey, in that the only thing in common with single malt whisky this has is the single part, the distillery. However, the liquid is complex and layered with flavors. This whiskey is well matured, bottled at a full but not “hot” ABV of 47%, smooth and easy drinking. The roasted barley and malt come through most strongly with coffee and dark chocolate jumping up to grab your senses.
Out and About: W. L. Weller Special Reserve
A special find at an ABC store in Sarasota, Florida a few months back! I finally poured it to share with one of my best friends who was visiting from the left coast. Look at that color! Needless to say, it is a very nice bourbon! Sadly, the full size bottle was not available.
Bottle Kills: Jura, Glen Deveron, Glen Scotia
Glen Deveron 16 Years Glen Scotia 15 Years Jura 10 Years
Tasting notes for the Glen Scotia 15 Years in American Oak Barrels can be found here
Bottle Kills: Glenfarclas 105
The Glenfarclas Distillery is in the heart of the Speyide region, a relatively short drive (by American standards) from Edinburgh or Glasgow. It is a personal favorite and was one of the first Scottish distilleries JSW visited.
The 105 is the reasonably priced, cask strength sherry bomb that embodies the character of the expressions of whisky produced by this family owned, iconic distillery: dried dark fruits, and spices like a Christmas pudding with a gentle mineral flavor, almost like a sulphuric peat, underlying it all. The whisky’s nose and flavors open up with a splash of water, which Jeff suggests is needed to really appreciate this spirit; it is a bit harsh and tight without the water, but quite smooth and easy with it.
The final dram with a Cadbury Fruit and Nut Bar from the UK as well as with lemon Girl Scouts Cookies. While the raisins and nuts in the milk chocolate melded with the whisky, the lemon frosted shortbread contrasted with the rich whisky quite enjoyably.
Friday Night Drams
Game of Thrones House Tully - The Singleton of Glendullan Glen Scotia Campbeltown (NAS) Glen Keith Distiller’s Edition (NAS) Bunnhabhain 12 Years
Tasting notes for the Bunnahabhain !2 Years can be found here
Tasting notes for The Singleton of Glendullan (non-GoT version) can be found here
Out and About: West Cork Irish Whiskey
This low ABV single malt whiskey is matured in former bourbon barrels. Lackluster neat, it opens up very nicely with some water, releasing malt and vanilla flavors and reducing the surprisingly strong alcohol vapor. This bottle was obtained in Delaware for $38. A reasonably nice and easy drinking whiskey, but it will not replace Knappogue Castle or Red Breast at the top of Jeff’s list of favorite Irish single malts. The funny thing about the label is that it indicates it is made from the finest hand selected ingredients. The ingredients can only be barley, water and yeast!
Friday Night Drams
Liberty Pole Peated Bourbon Aberfeldy 12 Years Douglas Laing’s Old Particular Bunnahabhain 2005 Feis Ile Release Rebel Yell Single Barrel Kentucky Bourbon Cadenhead’s Bottling “Highland PBS” (NAS) Tullamore D.E.W. Caribbean Rum Cask Finish (NAS)
Out and About: The Empress of India
The Empress of India cocktail was created at Veronica’s, Osprey Avenue, Sarasota, Florida. Old Forrester bourbon, blackberry brandy, 43 Liqueur and star anise over an ice ball with fresh blackberry garnish. A sweet, fruity, fun beverage on a brunch day. The whisky is just strong enough to hold up against the liqueurs. The rye in the mash gives the bourbon the spice necessary for the cocktail to work. Don’t try this with a wheated bourbon. Props to bar manager and partner in Veronica’s, Mike Yoder, who dreamed up this really nice cocktail that he ages in a small oak barrel behind the bar.
Out and About: Nikka Single Malt Miyagikyo (45% ABV)
This is a very nice whisky. The nose is pleasantly oaky and malty, but gently so. making one think of second fill bourbon barrels. It is very soft and smooth, with a lovely anise and vanilla spice that lingers gently on the finish. It's very hard to think of anything beyond the licorice and vanilla, though ultimately, there is a slightly creamy finish lingering as well. This whisky is a must taste. It will not be the best whisky you ever had, but it will be something you'll say, yes, that's a pretty nice whisky I tried once upon a time as an odd ball find.
Out and About: GlenDronach Revival 15
This is a lovely example of a Speyside whisky well matured (15 years) exclusively in Oloroso Sherry casks. A dark spirit with a strong sweet sherry and oak aroma, spice and a dried fruity sweetness on the palate, with a finish that endures for a fair amount of time until the next sip is savored. At 46% ABV, this whisky can withstand a few drops of water, or even an ice cube, but it doesn’t need it.
Out and About: The Signatory Vintage Glenlivet 1995 (19 Years)
First Fill Sherry butts, 58.3 ABV, Natural color!
Screaming sherry bomb! Smooth as silk, light spice, plenty of cream and surprisingly little alcohol drinking it neat! Lovely whisky!
Out and About: Knappogue Castle 16 Years Sherry Cask
Jeff was drawn to this bottle, a 16 years aged sherry casked expression that I’d never seen before. The citrus notes in the nose and palate that are the hallmark of this distillery’s whiskies are present, but are overwhelmed by the sherry cask influence of spice and dried fruit. It is very smooth and easy drinking, as are all of the expressions of Knappogue Castle which I have tasted to date. If you like a sherry bomb style of whisky, you will enjoy this dram. Jeff personally would choose the 12 and 14 year old expressions over this one as he feels feel the sherry influence is just a wee too strong on this distillery’s gentle yet flavorful spirit.
Out and About: Jura Diurach's Own 16 Years, 40% ABV
Jura is a classic island malt whisky, typically with a peaty, briny and/or oily undertone to go with a warm spicy finish. Not this one. This is the first time Jeff ever did really taste chocolate in a whisky. The cynic often mocks such tasting notes, but there it was on the first sip, dark chocolate front and center. Not much of the typical Jura character at all. Jeff couldn't do a full review because he was tasting at duty free and so only enjoyed a small out of maybe 8 to 10 ml, but that chocolate revelation was worth sharing. The price was 59 GBP.
Friday Night Drams: Macallan Flight
Jeff hosts tastings most Friday evenings with friends and other whisky aficionados. We call these tastings the Friday Night Drams. Recently Jeff treated his guests to a Macallan theme. Jeff was most interested in others' thoughts with respect to the Gordon & MacPhail Speymalt 1998. The group tasted it alone and then side-by-side with the Macallan 18 Years from the distillery. Jeff's perspective is that the Macallan 18 is a superior whiskey, but he can see that the price point of the distillery spirit enhances the value of the private labeling. Jeff's guests opined that he is too critical of the Gordon & MacPhail product as they really liked it.
Friday Night Drams: An Eclectic Mix
Chivas Regal 12 Years - bottle kill Grangestone Master’s Selection - bottle kill Hillrock Solera Aged Bourbon Macallan 12 Years Tullamore D.E.W. 14 Years Quadruple Cask - bottle kill