Mar 29, 2016

Blend Project #21 Cutty Sark...

Cutty Sark (40.0%): Another review for my ongoing blend project... I started the blend project here on tire-bouchon almost two and a half years ago to find the best price/value blended Scotch to sip with your friends in your favorite watering hole to accompany a good pint of beer without breaking the bank. I had two rules: It should be priced less than $30 a bottle and it shouldn't be an exclusive release. That simple... Any entries which bended these rules lost advantage against a cheaper and/or higher volume release to keep the ranking as fair as possible. You can check my latest top five by clicking this link. I'll keep updating the rankings while I keep tasting. So today I have Cutty Sark on my desk... Named after the world's fastest ship of its time, Cutty Sark was created in 1923 by London based wine and spirit merchants Berry Bros & Rudd, quickly became famous all over the world and reached almost an iconic status during Prohibition. Now the blend is a part of the Edrington Group and a bottle can be found below $20. Too good to be true... Color: Pale yellow, straw. Unexpected very thin legs around the glass. Nose: Very mute... I had to sniff multiple times and be patient to let it air to get anything out of it. Old glazed paper... The kind of paper magazines used to be printed on in 60's and 70's, like Life magazine. Now imagine a bundle of those magazines you just discovered in your basement or in your attic. Damp and moldy... Black garden soil, hint of lemon zest and Granny Smith apples. And as an off-note some pesticide and gauze pads. Kinda let down on the nose. Palate: More apples, this time freshly sliced. Sweetened grape juice, artificial cheap vanilla extract and green malt. Lime wedges, fresh rosemary and pine nuts. Very thin in texture. Don't see any reason to add any water to it... Finish: Short with citrusy notes. Lemon juice and young and harsh grain alcohol. Overall: How can you argue with a blend like this? Yes it's not exciting at all but it is cheap, not offensive, straightforward and easy drinking. It won't make the top five but I didn't hate it either... It is a pretty neutral blended Scotch which delivers exactly what you paid for... It works great with soda water or ginger ale by the way which will come extremely in handy in coming summer days.

Cutty Sark in her new home / Greenwich, July'12

Mar 26, 2016

The Arran Malt 10yo...

The Arran Malt 10yo (46.0%): I ran out most of my samples and don't have any open bottle around I really want to review this weekend... So, that means it's time to go back and shuffle the minis basket... This wee bottle is filled by The Arran Distillery situated in Lochranza, Isle of Arran. When they started to run their stills for the first time in 1995 they used the be called the new kid in the block but now with dozens of others being registered every year Arran is considered already a matured and respected distillery in Scotland. I always liked their 10yo expression and ordered many times at bars but didn't have a chance to review it till now. It is non-chill filtered and bottled at 46% abv. The bottle I have on my desk carries the old labeling. They recently revamped the packaging of their line-up. Color: Yellow gold, like a heavily oaked Chardonnay. Nose: Freshly squeezed lemon juice, dandelion leaves, bitter greens and haystack. Savory scone dough and freshly baked biscuits. Tart and refreshing. A few drops of water made the nose a little sweeter: Bonbon candies, lemon pound cake and vanilla. Palate: Way more sweeter than the nose: Almond cookies, lemon sorbet and dry malt. Kiwi slices and green almonds. Nice thick and creamy texture. Adding water thins the texture and makes it even sweeter. Still holding up great though: Prunes and golden raisins. Finish: Long with eucalyptus drops, endives and some Granny Smith Apples. After adding water I got less of green and bitter aromas. It also shortens the finish and leaves mostly sweet notes. Overall: I like it a lot... One of my favorite every day whiskeys in the market. But... I have to admit that it is a pretty hard sell for 50 bucks a bottle. The price tag attached to it elevates the whisky to a different category where it has to compete with some very good other single malts. Now I am thinking, maybe that's the reason why I never purchased a full bottle before. At the end it's a very good and incredibly balanced whisky with a lot of beautiful bourbon cask notes and definitely recommended but you might consider to sample it before you commit to buy a full bottle...

Mar 24, 2016

Jameson Original...

Jameson Original (40.0%): Let's stretch this St. Patrick's Day mood a little more with the third Irish whiskey review in a row. It's everybody's favorite Jameson Original after all... It is the iconic green bottle you spot the second you enter in any bar. Cheap, easy drinking and available all around the world. It is a blend of pot still and grain whiskeys which are all distilled in New Middleton Distillery in County Cork. Although I actually favor Jameson's other sibling Powers I have to admit that it's still weirdly surprising that I didn't review Jameson Original on tire-bouchon before. Ok, I have to admit that it's kinda feel odd to sip Jameson Original from a Glencairn glass... Color: Yellow gold, light amber. Nice caramel coloring work I guess. Nose: Young grain whiskies: damp packing blanket, yellow cardboard boxes and chalk. A little sharp in the beginning... After letting it breathe enough I start to get some overripe McIntosh Apples, diner style orange preserve and honey syrup. Furniture polish wipe, green wood and fresh cut grass. Very young white wine and hyacinth flowers. Adding a few drops of water brought some oil based paint, turpentine and mineral spirits aromas. Palate: Here I have the malt notes: Baby bananas, vanilla and white grapes. Mostly sweet spices like nutmeg and cinnamon. Dried grass. Water definitely worked better here than the nose: Milk chocolate, custard and honey. The texture gets creamier with water addition. Finish: Medium long with faint black pepper and dry untreated wood. Overall: I always thought that the hardest work in the whisky business is to produce an affordable and good tasting blend... Imagine: You have to come up with a formula which will taste consistent for many decades and still will cost around $20  in almost every country in the world after bottling, transportation and marketing expenses added. It is an incredibly hard job especially if we are talking about a bright, not boring and tasty whisky like Jameson Original. No wonder why it is so popular... When you walk in a bar and if you see that green bottle on the shelf but nothing else, you are covered...

Mar 21, 2016

Green Spot...

Green Spot Single Pot Irish Whiskey(40.0%): I know... I am late for Irish whiskey reviews extravaganza but we had our annual St. Patrick's Day party this Saturday. I am still catching up... We dressed up all green, cooked corned beef, mashed potato and cabbage, had sing-a-longs and killed an awful amount of bottles of Irish whiskey. Somehow I managed to save a couple of samples from the night and here we are. I have to say that this one sitting in front of me without a doubt was everybody's favorite. Green Spot is a single pot still whiskey bottled exclusively for Dublin based wine merchants Mitchell & Son. Until about five years ago it was one of the most sought and desired bottles of the whiskey world, especially here in US. Only way to put your hands on a bottle was begging your friends traveling to Ireland to bring back one or simply just traveling there. Even then it wasn't an easy find. You had to know where to look for it. But thanks to the exponential growth of Irish whiskey all around the world in the last decade now Green Spot is exported to many foreign markets including US. The whiskey is distilled by Middleton Distillery from a mash of malted and unmalted barley and aged between 7 - 10 years in a combination of ex-bourbon, refill ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. Color: Light amber, yellow gold. Nice persistent legs around the glass. Nose: Toffee and peanut brittle, Red Delicious apples, hot toddy, warm honey and nutmeg. Fresh Bartlett pear slices, crisp and unsweetened pear cider... Vanilla, dried strawberries, rose petals and papaya slices. Warm, fruity and floral. A few drops of water pulls it to a more floral side: Jonquils, heather and honeysuckle. Palate: It has a thinner texture than the nose suggested. Dandelion honey, persimmon and blood orange. Mango and dried apricot, salted caramel drops and pear compote. Big juicy green grapes and cookie dough. Adding a few drops of water smooths everything: Orange marmalade, almond butter and marzipan. Now the texture is even thinner with water but it was totally worth it. Honeyed baklava syrup and butterscotch pudding... Finish: Long and spicy. White pepper, clove and ground ginger. Oak, peppermint leaves and unsalted butter. Overall: Exactly like I remember, a definition of a (very) good pot still Irish whiskey. Honeyed, floral and fruity. It is smooth, silky and for around $45 a bottle a very serious steal. If we only had a cask strength version of this bottle or maybe a slightly elevated abv like 46.0%. Anyway, I am a huge fan and I will make sure that I have always a bottle in my cabinet...


P.S.: If you want to check the review of its older sibling Yellow Spot simply click on the name...