Archive for February, 2010

When I am going to post. And why.

Friday, February 19th, 2010

When you have your own business, it’s so easy for it to consume all your free time if you let it. Even if you like what you do, I don’t think it is healthy. A very well known whisky writer recently told me that, in the past year, he has only taken two days off from work–including weekends.

Not me! I have a family. I have hobbies I love. So, here’s what I plan on doing. I am going to make an effort to post up something every weekday (and you know that I often have multiple posts in one day, like today). But, unless there is something really compelling, I don’t plan on putting up any blog posts over the weekend.

I just wanted to let you know my intentions and make you aware that if you visit WDJK on a Saturday or Sunday, you probably won’t find anything new. And if you check on a weekday, you probably will.

I have a lot of whisky reviews to share with you. I’ll try to put up a review every day next week.

A Whisky Blogging “Code of Ethics”?

Friday, February 19th, 2010

I was thinking about this the past few days. The dozens of whisky blogs out there provide a great service to the whisky industry and to whisky enthusiasts. This is the main reason why they received Malt Advocate magazine’s “Pioneer of the Year” award.

But the downside to blogging (in general) is that it is essentially unsupervised. People can basically say whatever they want. I established brief etiquette guidelines on WDJK here  last year  which focused on comments. I wonder if something like this should be fleshed out, expanded, and (hopefully) adopted by all my fellow whisky bloggers?

Do you think this is a good idea? If we did try to create some sort of “Code of Ethics”, what do you think it should include?

New Highland Park “Vintage Editions”for Global Travel Retail

Friday, February 19th, 2010

I received a whisky-stained press release in the mail while I was on vacation. The “Vintage Editions” of Highland Park single malt whiskies will become available in Global Travel Retail in April.

They will initially consist of four different vintages: 1998, 1994, 1990, and 1973.  Prices range from €46 for the 1998 vintage, to €750 for the 1973 vintage.

I received small samples of the three vintages in the 1990s. And yes, the press release was stained because two of the three samples leaked. I’m not sure if I have enough in the bottle to do a formal review (I’m getting replacements), but I wanted to let you know about them.

According to the release: “The differences between the expressions lie in the extent to which first-fill or refill European and American oak casks have been used; as always, maturation completely influences the color and complexity of each whisky. The 1998 and the 1990 Vintages emphasise the smokier notes, while the 1994 and 1973 highlight the sweeter characteristics.”

New “Caribou Crossing” Single Barrel Canadian Whisky

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

A bottle of this came while I was gone. It’s actually under the Buffalo Trace Distillery umbrella. According to CEO Mark Brown, they came into some stocks of Canadian whisky and decided to bottle some of it.

Full Disclosure: I was consulted during the selection process for this whisky. About a year or so ago, Mark Brown sent me several review samples. I told him which ones I liked, didn’t like, and why. I didn’t actually help select the final product, but I was involved early on.

I wasn’t part of the naming or packaging of this whisky, but I do like both. It comes in a “Crown Royal-ish” bag, beautiful caribou design on both sides, and has a nice heavy metal “maple leaf” stopper.

I just had a wee taste of it after I took the picture and it is delicious! Very rich, creamy, and velvety smooth–especially for a Canadian. (And a lot better than some of the samples Mark sent me.) My formal tasting notes will follow shortly.

I’m told the price will be about $50 and will get into distribution in March. It will be an allocated item and will be distributed in about two dozen states to start.

New Glenlivet Cellar Collection 1973 Vintage

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

I received a press release of the next Glenlivet Cellar Collection. It’s a 1973 vintage. I’ll be getting a review sample and will let you know what I think after I taste it.

Here are some additional details which am taking from the press release:

Hand selected by The Glenlivet’s Master Distiller, Alan Winchester, and comprised of the oldest and rarest stocks in 1973, this exclusive offering is bottled at natural cask strength (49% ABV) without the use of chill-filtration. It is aged in a combination of sherry and refilled American oak casks (a single ex-sherry butt and two refilled American oak hogsheads), resulting in what the press release describes as a “perfectly balanced yet vibrant whisky.”

Valued at $1,250, only 240 bottles of The Glenlivet Cellar 1973 will be available in the United States.

New Dalmore “Mackenzie”

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

I was just invited to the launch of a new Dalmore whisky on March 17th. Whyte & Mackay are keeping Richard Paterson & Co. very busy creating new whiskies. (That’s a good thing!)

I am still digging out from my piles of mail and email, but here’s what my invite said:

Richard Paterson and Caberfeidh, Chief of the Clan Mackenzie, invite you to join them at the launch of The Dalmore Mackenzie, a unique single malt celebrating the daring spirit and courage of The Mackenzie family, owners of The Dalmore distillery for almost a century.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to attend. Either way, I would imagine that I’ll get a sample to review.

I’ll provide more information as I get it, so stay tuned. And if anyone else knows more info, please post it up.

Update: The information I have says this about this new whisky. It’s a 1992 vintage, matured initially in American white oak for 11 years, then transferred to port pipes from Oporto for a further 6 years. Bottled at 46%.

I’m back

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

I’m back in the office and hitting the ground running. I’m testing a new blogging app for my Blackberry with this post, so I’ll keep this one brief given that I’m typing with my thumbs. Stay tuned…

One thing you can do while I’m away for a few days.

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

For those of you on Facebook, become a fan of Malt Advocate magazine. You can find the link here.

We’re just getting going, but we picked up 1,000 fans just in the past week. When I get back, I’ll be very active there too. Plus, you can post up your own thoughts on whatever (whisky related) topics you want and get a conversation going.

A few days R & R, a server upgrade, and then back at it with several new whisky reviews

Friday, February 12th, 2010

All the awards have been announced. I hope you enjoyed my posting them up here on WDJK before they are published in the next issue of Malt Advocate (which will mail in about three weeks). The purpose of doing this was to allow for thoughtful discussion and interaction between whisky enthusiasts worldwide. I hope you enjoyed it.

I’ll be taking some time off with my family and won’t be posting anything new until Thursday. During this time, we’ll also be upgrading to a new, dedicated server. (Yes, WDJK has gotten so much activity, it has risen to the top of the list on its server as the site which is drawing the most bandwidth and memory. Unfortunately, it has also been slowed down because of this.) Someone from my office will put up a post the day we make the switch. You might experience some minor glitches that day. (Well, let’s hope they’re minor.)

In the meantime, click on the “What does everyone else know?” link on the right column of my blog and check out all those other wonderful whisky blogs, forums, podcasts, etc.

When I come back , I’ll be posting a bunch of new whisky reviews over the next several days, including: Glen Grant 10 & 16 yr. old, Smokehead, GlenDronach 12, 15, 18 yr. old, Glenrothes 1994 Vintage, a few new Signatory whiskies, and more. Stay tuned.

Malt Advocate Magazine’s “Top Ten New Whiskies” for 2009

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Top Ten New Whiskies of the Year (listed alphabetically)

You will not be happy with the prices of some of these whiskies, but here’s our ten best new whiskies released in 2009 (keeping in mind that whiskies must have been for sale in the U.S. in the 2009 calendar year to be eligible).

The selection process for this list is based primarily on the whisky’s rating. All ten whiskies rated 95 or higher in Malt Advocate  magazine.

Ardbeg Corryvreckan, 57.1%, $85
Powerful, muscular, well-textured, and invigorating. Even within the realm of Ardbeg, this one stands out. There are many relatively young whiskies with no age statement on the market. This is a benchmark. Quite stunning!

Brora 30 year old (2009 Release), 53.2%, $400
This whisky shows all the good aspects of a very mature whisky (depth, complexity) without all the bad ones (excessive oak, one-dimensional). It’s very clean and polished. One of the best releases from this shuttered distillery.

Dalmore 50 year old, $1,500/100ml
Incredibly viscous and chewy, and thick on the tongue. Very complex too, with that classic Dalmore marmalade note as its foundation. The flavors evolve like waves lapping on a beach. It is a whisky you can’t drink slowly enough.

Gold Bowmore, 1964 Vintage, 42.4% $6,250
Surprisingly lively for its age. I like this whisky better than White Bowmore but feels that it falls short of Black Bowmore, because it’s a bit softer and less vibrant on the palate. (But, for most of you with limited means, I can understand if you don’t really care.)

Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve, 46% (2009 vintage), $250
I love the pot still character and the lushness that some of the port-wood aging has imparted. If anything,  this 2009 vintage is even richer and lusher than the previous 2007 vintage I reviewed. Another classic Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve.

Laphroaig 25 year old, 51.2%, $500
I love the way the flavors of this whisky evolve on the palate. I also like that it retains some of its youthful brashness, while showing the depth that maturity affords a whisky. A delicious, well-balanced, old-fashioned Laphroaig.

Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve (Bottle B1986), 23 year old, 47.8%, $220
My review of this whiskey a few years back indicated this whiskey was too woody and past it’s prime to be a stellar whiskey. This one is much better. (Yes, whiskey bottlings do change over time.) There’s great balance and the oak is in check.

Parkers Heritage Selection Golden Anniversary, 50%, $150
This is a fabulous whiskey: seamless, incredibly complex, with an impeccable marriage of youth and maturity. It’s also very even-keeled throughout. A classic bourbon that’s very complex and yet very drinkable.

Rittenhouse Rye 25 year old (Barrel #1), 50%, $190
Not as vibrant as the 21 year old Rittenhouse Rye released a few years back, but it’s more sophisticated, which more than makes up for it. I can’t speak for the other barrels in this lot, but I think this one is a great example of what a 20-plus year old rye whisky should taste like.

William Larue Weller (2009 release), 67.4%, $65
This whiskey has improved greatly over the past two years. (I thought that the 2007 release was almost too easy-going, as some wheated bourbon can be.) A little more oak spice has added balance, complexity and depth. Very clean on the palate too. Excellent!