Sunday, January 5, 2014

Yamazaki Puncheon


One of the very first bottles of whisky I purchased was Yamazaki 12.  I remember liking it after it got some air into the bottle for a bit, but sadly I have not purchased another bottle since. The Puncheon is as its name suggests aged in a puncheon as opposed to a more standard barrel (hogshead), which is roughly half the size of a puncheon.

Nose: Sweet with subtle hints of oak, a lot of vanilla, some milk chocolate, with a touch of nutmeg. An interesting floral component as well.

Taste:  Nice upfront hit of oak and vanilla syrup.  It gives way to a very interesting mix of dessert flavors, some creams and chocolates, with pineapple and pears. Finish is a lot of pear juice and very syrupy.

Overall Impressions:  I am a fan of sweet drams, and this one provides with a good deal of other flavors to keep me interested.   Nose though seems exceedingly faint, but I do admit that could be the weather and lack of humidity.   Definitely worth a try if you happen across a bottle. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

1988 Whisky Doris 24yo Glenrothes

88 Whisky Doris Glenrothes

It is a snow filled day very close to the shortest day of the year, and quite on the cold side.  Sherry sounds like it is in order, and well I took out possibly my best sherried dram on hand.  I also poured big because I like this whisky so much, I rarely allow myself to have it.  I have had mixed results with Glenrothes in the past which I think I have talked about before on this blog.  First ever Glenrothes I had was a bourbon cask indie bottled monstrosity, second (technically third) is one of their vintage series original (distillery) bottles, which really toes the line.  This one though was the second one I got, but I have reviewed the vintage series one on this blog already so I'll call it the third bottle, has been down right stellar.

So I'm curling up under some blankets, putting on some good music, and just sipping and savoring this whisky.  Which may in fact be the best whisky I have ever had.  I hope I haven't over sold this bottle yet, and I am sure you are all eager for the tasting notes.

Nose: Freshly baked zucchini bread, apricots, peaches, going into darker fruits raspberries, blackberries and a touch of black currant. Just a touch of the grape character you can find in a port, but for the most part think spices and berries.

Taste:  So incredibly sweet it should be illegal for a whisky to drink this easily.  If I didn't know better this would be the most delicious drink on the planet and not suspect any alcohol.  Blackberry syrup, touch of black currants, a healthy dose of cinnamon rolls, peaches, and I am missing so incredibly much.  Into the finish a lot of the spices come out, and wood makes its first overt appearance in the taste of trying to suck all the strawberry flavor out of a Popsicle stick.   But wow does the finish just keep on going, later on tart fruits just stay on the palate for a long time though still somewhat sweet.  I was halfway through typing my overall impressions when I realized the finish just keeps on rolling on, now I am getting some dried green apples.

Overall Impressions:  Stellar!  This is a fruit candy dram if there ever was one.  So many delicious and great fruit flavors, while still being as sweet as eating those fruits perfectly ripe.  I could keep on going, but I think I have honestly gushed enough over this dram already, and I just want to sit back and enjoy the rest of it.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

van Wees 2002 Craigellachie

van Wees The Ultimate 2002 Craigallachie

This bottle was my first Craigellachie, from a Independent bottler that I have heard a bit about but have not gotten to try a lot released by van Wees.  A Speyside distillery, with this one released in Sherry butt, but likely not a first fill.  This is from cask number 90067 and only 8 years old but packed with flavor  Not to mention this is a not unheard of occurrence from this distillery but this is a peated expression of theirs as well.   Bottled at 46% it certainly proved to be a very enjoyable dram.

This one while it has been opened for a few months still changes incredible amounts as it has been sitting the glass gathering air.  I did the tasting notes below first, but since then it has turned even more into a candy dram especially on the nose and initially on the palate, while peat still dominates the finish.

Nose:  A bit of everything, some nice sweet fruits, cherries, and grapes, and green apples, a bit of mint, and a very slight note of ashes long after they've stopped burning.

Taste: This apearrs to be a peated Craigallachie, which definitely comes out in the taste, along with a very sweet and medicinal dram.  Potent enough for 46% though would have been nice to see what it was like at Cask Strength.  A great deal of honey and herbs, with an odd mix of berries (pretty much those already mentioned).  Not a heavily spiced dram, more herbs and sweetness with the hint of peat.

Overall impressions:  Well if I tell you I had to basically hide this bottle from myself after I went through the first half way too quickly, to even ensure I would have some around for the holidays, do you think you can guess what my impressions of this bottle are?  All in all a very solid dram at a rather nice price.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Russel's Reserve 10yo Bourbon


I don't drink nearly enough American Spirits on this blog, unlike some other bloggers out there it is not that I find them inferior, but rather that they are harder to get excited about.  Let me explain, while there are seemingly plenty of different *brands* of US Whisky spirits, for the most part (i.e. excluding the craft/ micro distillers that are starting to blossom) they are all produced by the the same handful of distilleries.  Even worse is the spirits produced by the same distillery have a hard time differentiating themselves beyond the label on the bottle. While granted there are differences, they are not well published or advertised, keeping an unmotivated [to search out information on what they are drinking] population of American whisky drinkers in the dark.

Russel's Reserve is a Wild Turkey product, which is a distillery I have been quite happy with in the past. The 10 year old is a small batch, but in my understanding there is no real qualifications for what quantitatively is a small batch.  Costco/ Kirkland famously had a *small* batch that was some ungodly number of bottles, that I think is still stilling in stores some 4-5 years after it first hit the shelves.  The only Wild Turkey Russel's Reserve product I have not tried is one of their Single Barrel offerings, and Single barrel often excite me more than just "small batch" though they can be all over the place.

Nose:  A lot of saw dust, cinnamon and nutmeg. Rounded out with Vanilla, Cocoa Powder, and a strong charcoal note.

Taste:  Charcoal and sawdust permeate the taste.  As it heads into the finish a touch of pineapple and vanilla come out with a strong amount of spices.  I am oddly getting a spiced and nut bread with perhaps a rum based frosting.

Overall Impressions:  A bit too much wood and charcoal on this one, almost overwhelmingly so.  Not enough sweetness, or really other flavors to balance out those components.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Nikka Miyagikyo 15

Miyagikyo 15

The tale of my demise is not accurate, though the demise of my free time to enjoy whisky and moreover sit and review them is quite accurate as of late. Just when I thought I was getting my blog on a posting schedule I had a month (or has it been two already?) that knocked me off any sort of routine schedule.  Well I am back, and I hope to find a routine that works to get out at least one post a week, if not a few more than that.

So continuing a bit of a small trip to other whisky countries in the world with a visit to Japan... (Don't worry I got some more hidden up my sleeve as well).  I am not completely sold on Japanese Single malts although that is more as a price to quality ratio, because the quality is there, the problem is the price is definitely there.  If I were into Japanese whisky though people that know my other hobbies, might make a case that I am trying to single handedly support the Japanese economy.

Japan as a whisky producing country in the last 5 years or so has really taken the world by storm, in the sense that they have made  a big name for themselves in a hurry, by producing a lot of quality whiskies that have started to win a plethora of awards.

Nose:  Sweet, and a very nice malt background.  Call me crazy, but with the first sample of this I had I did not detect this at all, but having had a bottle of Sake in the past few weeks, I dare say I am getting a similar sweetness but slightly sour note from this whisky as well.  (Maybe from some natural yeasts in Japan?)  With a bit of air oak comes forward in abundance, with a nice bit of fruit, mostly red apples, pineapple and pear.

Taste:  A strong oak profile, perhaps a bit too much wood as it seems a bit bitter and drowns out the other flavors.  But behind that is a lot of toast, and grains.  Shockingly besides Vanilla, there is not much flavor that does not seem like a grain or that it derived straight from wood.   Given the nose I was expecting a touch of fruit, and a bit more sweetness.

Impression:  Knowing what a lot of Japanese Single Malts sell for, I would not actively seek this one out, but it most certainly is not a bad dram, though it is for those that love wood forward carpenter shop drams.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fary Lochan Danish Single Malt

It is amazing how small some worlds can seem to be when you really get passionate about certain items.  For instance in the world of whisky there are a lot of people that consider themselves Whisky Drinkers, but relatively few actively seek out many different resources to get to know others that love the spirit of the spirit.  I have happened to have had several conversations with the author of Danish Whisky Blog over the past few years, and he was gracious enough to consider me in a tasting he put together for a Danish Distillery he feels knows what it is doing.  Long story short it sounds like it happened a bit more as a challenge to the distillery owner.

Fary Lochan Danish Single Malt

I apologize not my best bottle photo, but the whisky looks nice.  To quote some of the description I was given of the whisky this distillery produces (sadly my Danish is not that great):

"Fary Lochan makes 4 different whiskies, named after the seasons

Autumn: Smoked to 1.5ppm. Ex-bourbon matured, married in ex-sherry (I would call that a finish!)

 Winter: Smoked to 13ppm. Ex-bourbon casks (he says he got some ex-laphroaig casks as well)

Spring: Smoked to 7ppm. Ex-bourbon

 Summer: Ex-bourbon. No smoke

I use the term smoke and not peat. The source is his own home made smoked barley with nettles as "fuel". The undiluted homemade barley is 50ppm!"

What I have here is the first release which is of the Autumn type.

Nose: Not sure where to begin,  a lot of pine and cedar notes, rather like a carpenters shop.  Sherry notes are there as well with red apples, and touch of raisins and cinnamon.  But mostly a lot and a lot of cedar and pine wood.

Taste:  A lot of honeyed malt and wood notes. Charcoal and caramel apples, with nutella on heavily toasted bread.  The finish is a lot of wood and the smoke comes through as well, somewhat reminiscent of a burning camp fire with a lot of pine for fuel. But very sweet and honeyed and well balanced.

Impressions:  This is not Scotch, so if you are looking for Scotch keep on going.  That being said not every whisky needs to be/ or should even try to be Scotch, and this whisky is incredibly nice as it is, I think the quarter casks helped it age a little quickly for its roughly 3.5 years of aging.  I would be very interested to see what happens should any future bottles be released at older ages.   This is a very good, young, but woody whisky.  Not sure how wide spread this is, but certainly consider trying to taste this somewhere. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Lombard Smoking Ember

Lombard Smoking Ember

This is a no age statement blended whisky, blended malt infact, meaning it is a blending of only single malt whiskies, and no other grain whiskies were used in this bottle.  It's taste profile is supposed to mimic what can be found in Islay single malts, which read carefully means it is in that style, while it likely has some, it may not be 100% Islay malts.   I have actually had fun with this bottle, it being the second Lombard bottle I got, the first was a stellar Springbank.

I am not one to play a lot of guessing games with whisky provenances, but I will humor people with a few guesses on this one.  First in foremost the main distillery they are probably using from Islay is Laphroaig, but that is unconfirmed as far as I know.  Caol Ila is also likely, but some of the others seem less and less likely both from taste profile, and just known availability of their whisky to independent bottlers.

Nose:  A lot of marine flavors and a good dose of peat.  Burning vegetable matter, iodine, sea salt, sea weed, sea salted caramels. It also has a touch of smoke from burning leaves.

Taste: Sea salt caramels, oily, boiled cabbage, touch of milk chocolate seaweed, and pear juice.  In the finish the hint of peat returns

Impressions:  Perhaps better than the well known black bottle, but maybe not on a price per quality ratio I deal with here in Michigan.  As I am saying it is better than black bottle it most certainly is an enjoyable dram, albeit a simple one.