Nov 27, 2016

Loch Lomond Single Grain...

Loch Lomond Single Grain (46.0%): Now this is an interesting one... Although the whisky is distilled from a 100% malted barley mash it is still bottled as single grain since a column still is used during the process instead of a pot still. As you might already know Loch Lomond distillery owns two pot stills, six Lomond stills and one column still under the same roof as well as an additional distillery on site producing just grain whisky and grain alcohol which makes them a quite unique distillery. If there was a term such as "single blend" they could be the only distillery allowed to put it on their label of their blended whisky. Also some of you also might remember Loch Lomond as Captain Haddock's favorite whisky brand in The Adventures of Tintin... When Herge started to use the "made-up" brand Loch Lomond in his comic books in 1966 to replace Johnnie Walker's appearance he was using till then to avoid a possible law suit he was simply inspired by the popular holiday destination of that time, Loch Lomond. He wasn't even aware that a distillery with the same name was about to start distilling whisky the very same year... Fun fact...

Color: Yellow gold, chardonnay.

Nose: Fresh cut fruit bowls..! Cantaloupe and melon slices and golden delicious apples. Gets a tad more tropical with time: Dole pineapple rings, pineapple juice, strawberries and passion fruit. Juniper berries, creme fraiche and sour worms. Very sweet, amusing and entertaining nose... Adding water kinda ruins the party a little: Mostly strawberries and bananas now.

Palate: Young and spirity but also warming at the back of your tongue. Vanilla, plain custard and toasted grain. Coconut, Catalan flan and pear compote. Fruit genever, lightly toasted oak and hint of nutmeg. Raw and thick, woolen Scandinavian sweaters and oatmeal cookies. Overripe bananas. Water works better on the palate... Gets incredibly easy to drink with less of young alcohol burn.

Finish: Acetone, hazelnut skins and burnt vanilla... Medium-short...

Overall: I am surprised... Pleasantly surprised. I don't know, maybe I was in the right mood, maybe it was the right time of the day but I enjoyed this whisky quite a lot... Great pub whisky: Easy drinking, would work perfect as an afternoon whisky and would also mix good in cocktails. To be honest I was expecting a far young, harsh, bland and a somehow "boring" whisky. It is mostly a 4 - 5 years old grain whisky after all... But it surprised me... Anyway, it won't be a substitute for your favorite single malt Scotch but easily can claim its own little space in your cabinet. And... A bottle costs $28... Hard to argue with that. Again thanks to Benito Quinonez from Loch Lomond Group and Kate Laufer Gorenstein from KLG Public Relations sending me this sample bottle...

Price: $28

Nov 23, 2016

Paul John Classic Select Cask...

Paul John Classic Select Cask (55.2%): Paul John finally entered the US market last September with four different expressions: Classic Select Cask, Peated Select Cask, Edited and Brilliance. Although the distillery is established back in 1992 in Goa they didn't enter the single malt market till 2013. The whisky is distilled using six-row barley from Himalayas in pot stills and matured in American oak barrels. The first sample bottle I will pour from their line-up is the Classic Select Cask...

Color: Medium amber, dark gold.

Nose: Pine nuts, salted butter and roasted sunflower seeds. Bee wax, fresh rosemary and green larch lumber. Dried malt, olive oil soap... It noses like a North American single malt now. A few drops of water add more nutty aromas: macadamia nuts, salted walnuts and cashews...

Palate: Yep, I was right... Roasted sunflower seeds... Never had this note in any whisky before. So distinct... Dry roasted pine nuts, heavily salted almonds and eucalyptus leaves. Green spruce cones and wood shavings. Very salty and hot on the palate. It gets calmer with water but you loose the green and fresh notes a bit. Bitter lemon juice, vanilla extract and burnt honey. Honeycombs...

Finish: Bitter, still piney and very dry. Eucalyptus drops: Like the very strong ones which makes every breath you take after one drop... Kinda funny. Long and fizzy with white pepper...

Overall: I would never guess in a million years that it is an Indian whisky... I know that all I can compare it to as Indian whisky is Amrut by now but still... It definitely noses and tastes like a Northeastern American or Canadian single malt. Piney, woody, minty and incredibly fresh and vibrant. A little raw, sharp and edgy but a great winter whisky for my two cents... It will satisfy young bourbon and craft distilling fans for sure but I also personally liked the roasted nuts and bee wax notes. Almost like a signature... It feels like these notes come from the distillate, not from the maturation. I wonder if I will get them from the other expressions as well. Many thanks to Madhu Kanna and Ajay Bhoja for the official sample.

Price: $90


Nov 21, 2016

Glen Scotia Victoriana...

Glen Scotia Victoriana (51.5%): A beautiful long awaited rainy Sunday morning here in Los Angeles and such a perfect day to start with all the samples piled up on my desk for weeks... First pick is from Wee Toon, a.k.a. Campbeltown... I was eyeing this bottle since it arrived and cannot wait for another minute... Victoriana is one of the three expressions of Glen Scotia's newly revamped core range amongst Double Cask and 15 year old bottlings. It is finished in deep charred casks and bottled at cask strength.

Color: Light amber, orange blossom honey

Nose: Polished hardwood furniture, tawed leather and olive oil fruit cake. Concrete dust, damp gardening soil and creme de cassis. Raisins and freshly sliced red apples. After airing a couple of minutes and adding a few drops of water: Fresh black currants, gummi bears and jelly beans. Honey glazed pastries, maple syrup and figs. Pecan pie, spearmint leaves and baby bananas.

Palate: Darker and thicker on the palate than it felt on the nose: Blackberry jam, damson plums and milk chocolate. Incredibly easy to drink at this abv... Ground ginger, light cinnamon and nutmeg. Very syrupy, dark fruit molasses and brown baking sugar. Creme de cassis is still there... Water adds subtle peat. I was wondering ay what point I will get some peat. Fireplace ash and charred oak. It got tad thinner in texture but lot sweeter with water: Pain aux raisins, plum preserves, creme brulee with an extra burnt top and overripe figs. Soot, rice pudding and burnt pie crust. Warming and pleasant.

Finish: Not that long but pretty memorable with baklava syrup, orange jam, hot cocoa and hint of white pepper.

Overall: Well, nothing like I expected but this is a great whisky nevertheless... Wet cardboard and sweet peat notes I always identify with Glen Scotia are almost not present at all. It is definitely the sweetest expression I ever tasted from this distillery. I don't have necessarily a sweet tooth when it comes to whiskies but this bottle really got me... Solid palate and very elegant finish. It is definitely not a cheap whisky for an NAS expression but you should taste it before judging the price. The price might not be an issue afterwards... Many thanks to Benito Quinonez from Loch Lomond Group and Kate Laufer Gorenstein from KLG Public Relations for the official sample.

Price: $120

88/100

still room at Glen Scotia before the renovation // June'14
casks at Glen Scotia // June'14Glen Scotia Victoriana (51,5%, OB 2015)

Nov 17, 2016

Wild Turkey Rare Breed...

Wild Turkey Rare Breed (56.4%): Rare Breed is the cask strength expression of Wild Turkey's regular line-up and it's still a well kept secret in the bourbon world... The batch of 2015 sitting on my desk today is a vat of 6, 8 and 12 year old bourbons distilled from a mashbill of 75% corn, 13% rye and 12% malted barley like any other Wild Turkey bourbons and bottled at 112.8 proof.

Color: Deep amber, sage honey.

Nose: Nail polish and hard wood shavings. Sweet and sour: Butter melting on a slice of warm sourdough bread, eucalyptus drops and overripe baby bananas... Quite hot on the nose. A few drops of water help and amplify corn aromas: Warm corn bread, kettle corn and toasted coconut flakes. Sunday flea market: Vintage furniture, old leather jackets and vinyl covers... Linoleum floor tiles and recently cleaned dashboard of an old car. Noses like a dusty bottle from another decade.

Palate: Hot but not disturbing... Warming and mouth covering. Toasted oak, burnt rice pudding, cinnamon dusting and ground cloves. Brown muscovado sugar. Adding water rounds all the edges: Fennel seeds, nutmeg and bananas. I mean a lot of bananas... Warm apple pie, apple compote, quince jam and heavily burnt creme caramel. Are there any other cinnamon dusted sweets I should be mentioning here? Bitter cocoa nibs, ginger snap cookies and lightly roasted coffee beans. I don't know if "brown sugar cinnamon rye cookie" is a thing but if it was it would taste exactly like this... I am really enjoying this bourbon right now.

Finish: Long with black pepper, cinnamon and whole cloves. Sweet and sour sauce, vanilla and molasses.

Overall: It is a very very good bourbon. A big step-up from the regular Wild Turkey 101. A good sipper, handles water very good and amazingly well layered. It is not cheap as far as bourbons go but also not unreasonably priced for my two cents. Not easy to spot on the shelves all the time but worth to keep an eye for it. You are not going to be disappointed. I am definitely sold... This bottle won't last here at home long for sure...

Price: $40

89/100

Nov 12, 2016

Hepburn's Choice Inchgower 20yo...

Hepburn's Choice Inchgower 20yo (57.5%): Another single cask bottled exclusively for K&L Wines under the label Hepburn's Choice... This time the distillery is Diageo's Inchgower which we rarely see independent bottlings from. It usually produces malt for the blends Bell's, Johnnie Walker and White Horse and doesn't have a regular official release. The sherry butt hosting this whisky for 20 years was filled in 1995 and yielded 496 bottles at 57.5% abv when it was time to get bottled. There is no indication on the label or on the tube that it is bottled at cask strength so if it is not I have no clue why they chose that particular abv at the end... Not chill filtered and not colored...

Color: Dark amber, chestnut honey.

Nose: Soft caramel and sticky toffee pudding. A little bourbon-like... Milk chocolate, cold latte and nutmeg. Dried jonquils. Some alcohol burn because of the high abv. After adding quite a few drops of water it opens up: Apple pie, cinnamon and rosewater. Dried sour cherries, cranberry juice and ripe red plums. Yes, juicy ripe red plums... Funny, after detecting that plum note it's hard to concentrate on anything else.

Palate: Hot before adding water... Some toasted wood, crushed red peppers and very old calvados. Old leather upholstery, tobacco and buckskin. Adding water and allowing some time in the glass helps immensely: Chocolate is still there but much darker on the palate than it was on the nose. Prunes, zante currants and salted caramel. Pineapple skillet pie scrapings and poached pears and quinces. Roasted hazelnuts, macadamia nuts and fireplace smoke. Ginger candy. Chewy and thick... 

Finish: Long. Nutty and peppery... Salted almonds, burnt charcoal and salted butter. Paprika and ground ginger. Mouth tingling, almost fizzy. Starts salty but then gets sweet at the very end. Loved the finish.

Overall: A very particular sherry monster... Nutty and spicy with a big bonus of red fruits on the nose and on the palate. It grows in you very quickly. Let's sum up what we have noted till now: Sherry monster? Check... Winter warmer? Check... Conversation starter? Check... Good price/value? Check... Well, what can I say other than: Kudos to Dave Driscoll and his team for the pick. I know now what my holidays flask will have in...

Price: $100

88/100

Nov 8, 2016

Stalk and Barrel Cask #70...

Stalk and Barrel Cask #70 (46.0%): Gosh, I am late for this one... Last sample left from the world whiskies blind tasting led by Raj Sabharwal I attended all the way back in September. It is a single cask Canadian single malt whisky distilled by Still Waters Distillery and matured in ex-bourbon barrels. I already had casks #5 and #3 reviewed on the blog some time ago and now let's see how this one will compare.

Color: Yellow gold, oaked Chardonnay with thin legs around the glass.

Nose: Over-brewed green tea, sage leaves, ground ginger and old school, thick, woolen sweaters. Kumquat, dry malt, old newspapers and hint of white pepper. A walk at a sheep farm in a cold winter morning, fireplace and cheap cardboard boxes. Dusty and musty...

Palate: Young... Lightly toasted mini barrel matured whisky notes and young grappa. It actually does taste exactly like a northeastern American single malt whisky. Bright and very dominant soft wood, freshly squeezed lemon juice and crushed red pepper flakes... Saw dust, ginger and turmeric.

Finish: More wood... Pine, spruce, fir... White and red peppercorns. Kinda short.

Overall: I have to admit that in years this taste profile started to grow in me... Like everybody else first I had reservations about this woody, piney and peppery new American/Canadian style of craft malt whiskies but if it is done right it works I guess. It is a very good late fall, winter whisky... Throughout the whole tasting I dreamt of foileage, walk in the woods, crackling fireplaces, watching snow flakes falling and Christmas. Yes, it is young and kinda restless and yes, I wish it was priced better but I liked it...

Price: $65

82/100