Aug 31, 2014

Hillrock Double Cask Rye Whiskey...

Hillrock Double Cask Rye Whiskey (45.0%): Last weekend when we were driving back home from Woodstock we stopped by at Hillrock Distillery. The Distillery is situated in Ancram, NY, in the Hudson Valley highlands on an unbelievably beautiful estate. The owner Jeffrey Baker and his team are on a mission to produce as much as possible on site. They plant and harvest their own rye and barley (corn is sourced from local farmers) and malt their barley on their own malting floor which is the first one I have ever seen in US. They smoke their barley in their own kiln with peat imported from Scotland, distill the spirit with a gorgeous looking Kentucky made still and age and bottle their whiskey on the very same compound. Under the lead of Master Distiller David Pickerell who used to work with Makers Mark they already have a Solera aged bourbon, two rye whiskeys and a peated single malt under their portfolio. Luckily after the tour we had the chance to sample all of their line-up and ended up coming back home with this Double Cask Rye Whiskey bottle. Thank you to distillery worker Tyler who gave us a fantastic tour. The whiskey is first filled in small size casks and then transferred to bigger and heavily charred casks already seasoned for two years before they are assembled. The number of the barrel our bottle is filled from is 21. By the way that bottle looked a little over-designed to me but it's a matter of taste I guess. Color: Chestnut honey, deep dark amber color with a red hue. Nose: Old leather couch, sweet balsamic vinegar and pomegranate molasses. Newly polished hardwood furniture and sweet muscat wine. Palate: Cooked zante currants, nutmeg, cloves, ground allspice. Grape juice, young armagnac and the disintegrating collars of your very old vintage bomber jacket. Finish: Long with chipotle peppers, golden raisins and more cloves. Overall: I am very impressed with it... It is a very solid whiskey despite its young age. I have to admit that I do have a little bit problem with its price tag though. This whisky priced just under $100 is a little too much for a spirit that young. I can totally understand the desire to get some fast cash flow running after visiting the distillery and seeing how much money they spent for this superb site but still it is very hard to justify the steep price. To be honest it is the sole reason why we came back home with one bottle only. Actually we liked their bourbon and single malt as well but couldn't spend that much money and had to choose one... But definitely keep an eye on Hillrock. Their line-up is great and will be even better in time with their whisky aging longer and longer in the warehouse. I got even more excited to see all the sherry butts on site waiting to be filled.






Aug 26, 2014

Laphroaig 10yo...

Laphroaig 10yo (43.0%): For me it is the "Bullitt" of the whisky world. A classic movie which makes you hypnotized every time you see it on the screen. Old enough to be a classic but not jaded. On the contrary it is a little uneasy and restless. Masculine, cool and also sexy... Actually there is no need of an introduction for the bottle I have on my desk tonight. It is one of the first whiskies which started the whisky obsession in me. Thank you very much to my good friend A. J. Weissbard for the bottle after an exhausting but incredibly rewarding six weeks of hard work we did this summer together. Slainte A. J. ..! Color: Gold amber with visible legs on the glass. Nose: Stepping into a steel factory with all of its ovens fired up: Oily, sweaty and filled with diesel fuel fume. Burnt seaweed and salty sea spray filling your nostrils while taking a walk at the beach during sunset. Salted kipper, malt vinegar on your fish and chips, burning and crackling pine wood and iodine tincture. Oily hemp ropes coiled on the deck of a cargo ship. With water juicy lemon wedges and green asparagus added into the mix. Palate: Grassy and earthy. Almost like chewing a piece of moist peat dug freshly from the ground. Chili peppers on barbecue, heavily salted butter and crispy barley cookies. After adding water it gets greener like it did on the nose: fresh parsley, sage and bitter greens. Finish: A long fade starting with black pepper and then leaving peat and ashes lingering on your tongue. Overall: Like I said in the beginning: a classic. When you start to nose this dram there is no way you can put that glass down. I like the new expressions of Laphroaig as well but I have to say ten year old is the flagship of the line-up. Solid Islay whisky. No surprises there but also all the expectations fulfilled...

Aug 24, 2014

Single Cask Nation Glen Elgin 18yo...

Single Cask Nation Glen Elgin 18yo (54.9%): Yes, I am a lucky guy... This the second sample from Single Cask Nation in a week. I also admit that I did leave the sample I am most excited about as the last one to taste this week. I really want to have a grand finale this Sunday evening before I start to work tomorrow early morning for the new semester and season. It is a Glen Elgin... Owned by Diageo, situated in Speyside Glen Elgin distills mainly malts for the White Horse and Bell's blends. The reason why I am so excited about this dram is that the spirit inside the bottle spent its entire life of 18 years in a second fill ex-bourbon hogshead after it is distilled in November 1995. I love slow maturing ex-bourbon barrel whiskies... The cask was numbered as #1661 and yielded 277 bottles at cask strength. Color: Chardonnay, straw like with distinct legs on the glass. Nose: Here we go: Candle wax and St. Dalfour raspberry marmalade. Some natural herbal soap you regret not buying from your last Provence trip. French bon bons, lavender in a bag and rose petals. So odd that everything about this nose reminds me something French..! Water adds some citrusy aromas at the last minute: Lemon juice, lemon bars and lime slices. Palate: More fruity than floral on the palate: Red bartlett pears and definitely anise seeds (like the label suggests) especially after a few drops of water. Sambuca, peach flambe and young armagnac. Finish: Spicy and long... Powdered ginger, white pepper dust and spiced pear compote. Overall: I knew it... Great dram. Such an amazing journey in three movements: Floral nose, fruity palate and spicy finish. Everybody knows that I am a big fan of whiskies matured exclusively in ex-bourbon barrels and I admit that I do favor them but this bottle is a very solid example why I do that. So complex, layered, well aged but at the same time vibrant and fresh.. One of the highlights of this summer for me... Well done guys... (How much was a bottle..?)


Aug 22, 2014

The Macphail's Collection Highland Park 8yo...

The Macphail's Collection Highland Park 8yo (43.0%): Actually today supposed to be our hiking day in Catskills. But because of the rain we are kind of trapped at home in Mount Tremper and I couldn't think a better time to pop up the bottle we brought with us and enjoy the beautiful sight of the mountains from the porch. What we have with us is another bottle of Gordon & Macphail's The Macphail's Collection. This time it is an eight years old Highland Park. The label doesn't give a lot of information like other expressions from the same line but again its price in low thirties makes it pretty attractive. Color: Pale yellow, straw. Nose: Rubber bands and latex gloves with spoiled milk spilled on. Plastic shopping bags, burnt matches, diesel fuel from a plastic container and WD-40. Cured meat (maybe bresaola...), mint jello and eucalyptus cough drops. Actually eight years in a barrel is quite a long time and I think we shouldn't get all these immature notes. Most likely we have a second-fill barrel here. Palate: Vanilla extract, grease oil and burnt rice pudding. Young brie cheese, minty tooth paste gel, sulphur and alcohol burn. Finish: Medium long mostly because of young alcohol and some cracked white pepper corns. Overall: It noses and tastes definitely like a Highland Park but something is off with this dram. Feels like it found its way accidentally as a single malt bottling instead of being used in one of the Gordon & McPhail blends. I sure will drink it in (some) time since I am not one of those sulphur haters but wouldn't recommend to purchase the bottle despite of its very cheap price tag. There are many other good cheap bottles around.

By the way, Catskill Mountains under the rain...

Aug 20, 2014

Single Cask Nation Glen Moray 7yo...

Single Cask Nation Glen Moray 7yo (58.8%): Wow, it's been a long time... I have been away for the most of the summer but finally I am back in Cambridge. I had an incredibly busy but tremendously fun time when I was being away. I would like to talk about it when I can find a little more time to put my notes together but for now I am eager to start with the reviews... There are a lot of sample bottles waiting to be reviewed and I am pretty excited to start tasting again. The first sample is from Single Cask Nation... This is the second Glen Moray expression from SCN but this time it's a younger release. The whisky is distilled in June of 2006 and bottled in January 2014 at cask strength at 58.8% abv. The spirit spent the entire seven years of its maturation in a first fill fino sherry butt. The cask yielded 252 bottles. As a big fan of fino sherry and fino sherry finishes I cannot wait to start to sip this one. Color: Rich dark amber, clover honey. It's darker than I expected from a young whisky finished in a fino cask I have to say. Nose: Dried sour cherries, cranberry juice and quince paste. Moldy, damp burlap rolls, old wool tapestry forgotten in the basement for years and wet clay. Black garden soil and mulch. Water amplifies the woolen notes: Like nosing your old, thick woolen scarf wrapped around your head on your way back home at a freezing cold winter evening. Every time you breath in and out your nostrils are filled with that familiar smell from your childhood. Purple figs and dry and briny fino wine. Palate: Black currant marmalade, old decaying leather office furniture and green walnut jam. Pretty hot... With water it gets salty and peppery. Oyster brine, crushed black pepper, dry red wine and camembert cheese. It actually tastes like a well aged grain whisky. Chestnut honey, eucalyptus drops and salted fruit salad with blackberries and fresh figs. Finish: Long and sizzling... Mouth drying with black pepper and nutmeg. Overall: Not exactly what I was expecting in the beginning. It's (more) Young and Restless. Briny, dry but juicy with red fruits at the same time. The young spirit fights back to balance it overall and keeps it vibrant. Nice Scotch for Bourbon lovers...