Oct 26, 2014

The Maltman Glen Keith 21yo...

The Maltman Glen Keith 21yo (52.5%): It has been a long week for Boston whisky lovers. We had Whisky Live Boston, SMWS's Whisky Extravaganza and Julio's Whisk(e)y Roadshow amongst other small gatherings and tastings all over the city in such a short period of time. I had extraordinary fun with old friends, made many new ones and needless to say tasted amazing whiskies. But now it is the day for me to stay at home, rest a little bit and continue to take care of the sample bottles accumulating on my desk. The second sample I received from The Maltman is 21 years old and coming from the Speyside distillery Glen Keith owned by Pernod Ricard. Glen Keith is one of the first post-war distilleries built in Scotland and was known about their triple distillation practice till they converted the operation to double distilling in 1970. It got mothballed in 1999, saved by their new owners in 2012, went through a massive restoration and reopened in 2013. It now serves as a work horse for Chivas Brothers blends and not bottled as single malt. This particular Glen Keith is a single cask bottling. It is matured in a first fill sherry cask and bottled at cask strength. Since the distillery was known of making all kind of experiments under the ownership of Seagram you never know what to expect from older whiskies coming from the distillery. Color: Clear dark amber, chestnut honey. Nose: It's like walking into a warehouse filled with sherry butts: Black dirt, tobacco leaves, processed leather and musk. Green walnuts, rum and raisin ice cream and very subtle peat smoke. Just a few drops of water add straw, dry clay and malted barley aromas. Palate: Thick but velvety texture. Cooked raisins and prunes. Beef stew, mild cigars and not treated but toasted wood. Adding water to this dram is kinda tricky. You just need a little because you really don't want to loose that meatiness. But even a few drops of water release some nice spicy notes like cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. Peat smoke far back in a distance. Finish: Long. Almost perfumy notes followed by baklava syrup with cinnamon and nutmeg. Overall: A very good cask indeed... I hesitate usually when I see a single cask expression from a first fill sherry butt aged more than 20 years old but this one held it together very well. It is bold, thick almost syrupy and, so to speak, comforting but not tired. It is a matured and layered whisky still maintaining its vibrancy. Highly recommended for sherry finished whisky lovers... Thanks to Brad Jarvis a.k.a. The Whisky Professor for the official sample.

Oct 25, 2014

Great King Street Glasgow Blend...

Great King Street Glasgow Blend (43.0%): Glasgow Blend is the second permanent edition of Great King Street line-up. It is hitting the shelves as we speak now all over the world and made its debut in several whisky shows in US this week. The inspiration comes from Aeneas MacDonald's book "Whisky" which was published back in 1930. There MacDonald refers that Glaswegians prefer fuller bodied and more flavorful whiskies than any other whisky drinkers from all over the world. So, if you created a whisky that fits the description above and if you are confident enough to think that you can satisfy the Glaswegians and other whisky lovers with it you probably couldn't come up with a better name for your brand: Glasgow Blend it is... The whisky is a blend of 67% malt whiskies mainly sourced from Clynelish, Laphroaig and Benrinnes and 33% grain whiskies distilled by Cameronbridge distillery from Lowlands. It is not chill-filtered and doesn't have caramel coloring. Color: Chardonnay, lemon chiffon. Nose: Dusty, chalky with a touch of sourness which disappears in seconds after airing a little... Damson plums, fresh cranberries and dried fruit cake. Vanilla powder, sea spray and extinguished campfire still smoking next morning. Powdered latex gloves and rubber band balls. Palate: Orange zest candies, prunes, zante currants, whole cloves and fresh cardamom pods. Orange blossom honey, unripe bananas and spearmint leaves. Smooth and sweet soot, dusty charcoal. Finish: Medium long with fresh orange zest and campfire smoke after a successful afternoon barbecue on the beach.. Overall: Hands-down one of the best price/value ratio blends in the market with a price tag in high thirties, low forties if not the best. It is being distributed in the States now and you better make sure that you secure a bottle from your local shop. Because this bottle will be flying off the shelves in a heartbeat without a doubt. It is a great tasting whisky. Kudos to John Glaser for another great creation and many thanks to Robin Robinson for the sample.

Oct 20, 2014

The Maltman Glenrothes 25yo...

The Maltman Glenrothes 25yo (46.0%): It's a gorgeous fall Sunday here in Cambridge. It's sunny, chilly and breezy. The wind brings smells of all kinds of fallen leaves... An absolute perfect day to treat myself with a wee sample of one of my favorite Speyside distilleries... Glenrothes Distillery is owned by Edrington Group but the single malt brand is operated by London based wine and spirit merchants Berry Bros & Rudd. The distillery's huge annual capacity of 5.6 million liters serves mainly to the blends like Cutty Sark, The Famouse Grouse, Blue Hanger but the distillery bottles different vintage releases and special reserve series' every year as well. What I have today on my desk is a 25 year old single cask sample from a first fill sherry butt bottled by The Maltman. The Maltman is an independent bottling company from Glasgow owned and ran by Donald Hart and his son Andrew Hart. I liked more or less every single cask they picked to bottle in recent years and am very excited to sample three of their upcoming releases I received the samples for including this beauty. Color: Orange blossom honey, medium amber. Nose: First whiff is sulphury. Cheese brine, unstruck matches and fresh goat cheese... Let's leave it air for a couple of minutes. Here we go, all cleared up: Maltesers, milk chocolate and old school diner style vanilla shake. And those beautiful sweet hazelnut aromas I expect to get from Glenrothes all the time. Hazelnut praline spread and Hazelnut sorbet. Brown sugar, walnut liquor and halvah cake. A second layer underneath with ripe Fuji apples and aged calvados. Palate: The palate shows its age very well. Warming, silky smooth almost wooly and slightly musky... Quince paste, lemon zest jam, a lot of cinnamon and ground cloves. With just a couple drops of water I get dried strawberries and fresh spearmint leaves. Finish: Long and warming... Leaves with a never ending tingling sensation covering the back of the mouth. Overall: It's a classy dram without a doubt. Very mature, bold but not overwhelming. Glenrothes spirit ages very well even in active first fill casks and somehow keeps its vibrancy. I wonder how much a bottle will cost when released but definitely worth to check. It can be a great companion for coming winter months if I can afford. Thanks to Brad Jarvis for the official sample and Teresa Hartmann for additional tasting notes...

Oct 19, 2014

Wild Turkey Forgiven...

Wild Turkey Forgiven Batch #1 (45.5%): Everybody loves a good story behind a dram and Forgiven has a great one for sure. This particular story starts at the day when the distillery crew accidentally vatted a very rare, high proof rye with perfectly aged bourbon. They realized immediately what they did, let the management know what happened and started to pack their things feeling certain that they will be shown the door. But when Eddie Russell showed up and tasted the blend he thought that they had something special there. He decided to bottle the blend as a special expression right away and needless to say the staff was "forgiven". I don't care too much if the story is real or not. All I know it is a very very good one.. The vat contains 22% four year old rye whiskey and 78% six year old bourbon. As a matter of fact the product has been so successful the distillery decided to release a second batch this year. What I have in my sample bottle is the 1st release from last year though. Color: Polished copper pot, clear clover honey Nose: Salted caramel, cinnamon and nutmeg. A very approachable and inviting nose. It gets better and better after allowing the spirit air for a couple of minutes. Very dense German rye bread, zante currants and high quality maple syrup. Adding a few drops of water amplifies the rye character: Ground cloves and garam masala. Palate: Spicier than the nose suggested: coarse ground black pepper, fresh ginger and cayenne pepper. Dominantly rye notes. Charcoal and pumpkin spice mix. Adding water thins the texture a lot but made it incredibly smoother and dangerously easy to drink. The mouthfeel is now more like a satin cloth rather than a thick velvet... Finish: Long fade with peppery notes and cinnamon syrup. Overall: It is a great product. I have to admit that I didn't taste anything that I didn't like from Wild Turkey for a long long time. I think American distilleries should do more experiments like this. I am glad that High West started this trend. I know that the industry doesn't feel safe about releasing products that they cannot label as solid as a bourbon, rye whiskey or anything else which has been familiar to the consumers for a long period of time but I think it's the best time to take these kind of risks nowadays especially when people are buying whiskey like there's no tomorrow. It would be great to have a market like Scottish blended malts or blended whiskies. Kudos to Wild Turkey for being one of the first non-craft distilleries to take the risk.

Oct 18, 2014

Fall in Boston comes with The Whisky Extravaganza...

Get ready for an awesome evening brought by the wonderful team of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America... All tire-bouchon readers are invited to enjoy a connoisseur's evening featuring rare and exceptional and unique whiskies from around the world. No excuses folks... Cancel your plans for next Thursday, put your fancies on and come to The Taj Boston to join me and bunch of other whisky geeks for an unforgettable feast of grain, water and yeast. Our hosts promise an experience including unlimited tastings (hell yeah...), epicurean food (no exaggerations there, believe me), a selection of premium imported cigars (..!) for later enjoyment, souvenir snifter glass and much more. Get the opportunity to sample all the participating whiskies in a very welcoming, friendly and chic environment and to meet all the representatives and ambassadors from each participating distillery, blending house and independent bottler.

Did I draw your attention? Nice... Now the important part, listen carefully: tire-bouchon offers a 10% discount on tickets to The Whisky Extravaganza. Go to the link www.thewhiskyextravaganza.com or call the number 800.990.1991 and when you purchase your ticket use the promotional code "RETAILEXT14".

Be there on Thursday at 7:00 pm at the registration. The event will end 9:30 pm. Kilts are not required but they sure do make a statement. Please find me there to chat and/or to share a dram..! I guarantee it will be an evening to remember...


Oct 12, 2014

Big Peat...

Big Peat (46.0%): And the second sample from the Douglas Laing & Co. Ltd. blended malt range. Big Peat is blended using Islay malts only including some Ardbeg, Port Ellen, Caol Ila and Bowmore. and it has been wildly successful after its launch in 2009. Now the dram is a permanent expression in Douglas Laing line-up with an additional seasonal cask strength Christmas edition and occasional special releases. I always liked it but didn't have a chance to review it. Perfect timing to do so at a chilly but sunny fall afternoon. Color: As pale as a whisky gets. Almost colorless... Pale yellow like a very young Pinot Grigio. Nose: Beautiful young peated spirit: Wet beach sand and sweet maple walnut scone. The way your hands would smell like motor oil after spending a day on a small boat equipped with a small 9.9HP Johnson outboard engine. Noses like old young Ardbeg expressions like "Still Young". Do you remember those beauties? Ocean spray, vanilla and olive oil cookies. A few drops of water add green seaweed, fresh shucked oysters and sea water soaked hemp rope. Palate: Fresh cut grass, not yet dried moist peat bricks and green wood. Candied pecans and unripe concorde pears. Adding water makes it easier to drink if it is even remotely possible. Now I have some ripe red delicious apples, copper cookware and shortbread cookies. Finish: Long with faded bonfire, soot and black peppercorns. Overall: Perfectly balanced young blended malt which tastes like a single malt. I have always been a big fan of ex-bourbon cask matured young Islay whiskies and that's probably why I am raving about this whisky this much now, but again it is very hard for any whisky lover not to fall in love with it... Since its release I have to say it never disappointed and so far I know they released quite a lot of different batches. It is a young, vibrant, big but easygoing whisky with a well justified price tag around $60 depending where you live. Thanks again to Brad Jarvis for the official sample.


Oct 11, 2014

Sweet Wee Scallywag...

Sweet Wee Scallywag (46.0%): This is the younger sister of Big Peat (which I will review very soon...) of Douglas Laing & Co. Ltd. and it is a blended malt. The company introduced the brand almost a year ago and it is created by using Speyside malts only, including Mortlach, Macallan and Glenrothes among others. It includes a good deal of whisky matured in Spanish sherry butts and is non chill-filtered. The dram is named after the long line of Douglas Laing family Fox Terriers. Let's see what it tastes like. Color: Coppery, medium amber and clear with visible thin legs on the glass. Nose: Young sherried alcohol, unstruck matches,  lambswool and fresh blanched almonds. Candied orange zest, milk chocolate and carrot cake covered with thick frosting. Adding a few drops of water amplified the sulphury notes a notch which I didn't appreciate very much but also didn't bring it to a disturbing level.. Palate: Spicy with nutmeg, cinnamon and toasted oak notes. Artificial vanilla extract, chili powder and custard. Fairly young on the palate as well but it works definitely better here on the palate than it did on the nose. No traces of sulphur. By the way water is not the best friend of this dram... It flattened out the taste profile quite a bit. Finish: Peppery (very peppery...) with cocoa powder and soot. Black garden soil and cracked black peppercorns. Overall: A very enjoyable high quality young blend. Perfect for fall and winter months. Very Christmasy... It is kind of a bottle you would kill in two nights in front of your TV screen when watching an entire season of your favorite show cuddled under the blanket. I can totally imagine myself doing that... No regrets after whatsoever... I actually was planning to start with Peaky Blinders for some time and it is a long weekend here in US. Hmm, I might have something here... Thanks to one and only Brad Jarvis from International Spirits and Wines  for the sample.

Oct 4, 2014

Colonel E. H. Taylor Straight Rye...

Colonel E. H. Taylor Straight Rye (50.0%): Colonel  E. H. Taylor is a fairly lesser known line-up yearly released from Buffalo Trace Distillery. They are not so quite popular like Antique Collection (at least not yet..), still reasonably priced (hope that it will stay that way...) and for me one of the best kept secrets of Kentucky. The brand is created to honor the legacy of Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor who is one of the founding fathers of the bourbon industry. It is a straight rye distilled from a very interesting just rye and malted barley mash and bottled-in-bond at 100 proof. Color: Dark deep bronze, chestnut honey. Very distinct and thick legs. Nose: Strong and bold tannin aromas. Tung oil,  acetone and oil based dark varnish. After allowing it air it for some time molded blackberries and chewing tobacco aromas evolve. Leather upholstery, cooked cardamom pods and cinnamon. Thick and chewy with nutmeg and allspice. It was pretty shy in the beginning but opened up in layers and layers in time. Palate: Very peppery with strong cigar and powdered cardamom notes. Adding water works like a miracle... Like entering Istanbul spice bazaar: Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, garam masala and dried pimiento peppers. Some caramel bonbons and toffee. Leather bound books, creme caramel with burnt top and pastel de nataFinish: As soon as the alcohol burn on either side of the tongue fades out it lingers like a beautiful thick baklava syrup. Sweet and spicy. Overall: I really hope that these bottles won't go for hundreds of dollars in a few years like the Antique Collection. It is such a good, bold and thick whiskey. Love the bourbon of the same line-up as well. It is definitely not a rye you want to mix with anything. Perfect sipping dram for coming long months of winter. I have to say that I really enjoyed the 'no corn" mash. By the way I don't prefer it but I can easily say that it is one of the best whiskies I tried that can handle a couple of ice cubes very very well. Just saying...

Oct 3, 2014

Glengoyne 17yo...

Glengoyne 17yo (43.0%): I reviewed quite a few Glengoyne expressions on this blog but never had a chance to spend time with the seventeen year old. I always referred to it as my favorite of the official distillery line-up when I was asked but have nothing written down to prove it actually. Since it is phased out and replaced by eighteen year old it is getting harder and harder to find these days. I better write some tasting notes down before it gets too late. Color: Crystal clear, medium amber. Red gold. Nose: Very dusty and fruity. Chalk, red plums and Lipton Red Fruits ice tea. It gets sweeter with a few drops of water: red gummy bears, red jelly sweets and hibiscus tea. Moldy aromas in a wine cellar of a country house below the ground level. Palate: Raspberry jam, ripe strawberries coated with confectioner's sugar. Rum and raisin ice cream and jasmine flowers tea. Citrusy dryness like having fresh kumquat. Adding water brings some woolen sweaters, chilled plum compote and sweetened cranberry juice notes. Finish: Sweet and dry. Vanilla, toasted oak and damp, moist basement. Overall: Confirmed... It is my favorite among distillery releases; Well, at least before it completely disappears from the surface of the earth. It is really sad to see it going away... There are not so many whiskies around using sherry matured juice so subtle. I didn't taste the new eighteen year old but I am a little worried of the official tasting note saying "rich, luxurious mouthfeel". Usually it means lots and lots of sherry matured whisky... I'll keep you folks informed when I have a chance to taste it.

Glengoyne Distillery June'14

Oct 2, 2014

The Druid is Ten Years Old..!

It was such a great joy to be a part of this family for last two years... I think you should come and celebrate The Druid's 10th year anniversary with us this weekend and see why I call this place my second address... Seriously, I think you should...