Archive for September, 2010

Review: Springbank C.V.

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Not the best Springbank I ever tasted, but I do like it better than the Springer C.V.  from many years ago.

Springbank C.V., 46%, $40
A marriage of whisky from bourbon, sherry and port casks, which does help give it some complexity. A bit fleshy on the nose (sooty peat, soy sauce, sherry, tannins). The palate calms down a bit (and is soothed by the sherry notes), with some additional vanilla, bitter orange, and brine. More brine and warming pepper on the finish. There’s a lot going on here in this whisky, which I like, but I’m not sure the flavors dovetail with each other well enough to deserve a higher rating.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 83

Review: Glenmorangie “Finealta”

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

This one is available only in Travel Retail for now, but I expect it to be imported to the U.S. early in 2011. (My review bottle was 750 ml, so the 750 ml U.S. release size Finealta has already been bottled. That’s a good sign.)

It’s not super- peated. I wouldn’t expect it to be. They don’t want to mask all of Glenmorangie’s suble complexities.

Glenmorangie Finealta, 46%, $80
Glenmorangie enters the world of peated whiskies (like everyone else these days—not that I’m complaining). Richly textured layers of sweetness (vanilla, toffee, milk chocolate), fruit (tangerine, orchard fruit—especially ripe cherry), roasted nuts, mushrooms, hint of menthol, and gentle smoke. Certainly entertaining, even if the whisky doesn’t always seem to know what it wants to be. The soft sweetness mid-palate is balanced nicely by dried spice and smoke on the finish. Curiously enjoyable.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 88

Reviews: Balvenie Caribbean Rum Cask and Balvenie Peated Cask

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Two new ones from Balvenie.

Balvenie Caribbean Rum Cask, 14 year old, 43%, $60
A new addition to the permanent Balvenie range. Lovely bright gold color. Layers of sweetness (the characteristic Balvenie honey, along with vanilla fudge, nougat and rich toffee) peppered with dried spice and a hint of tropical fruit (papaya, guava, tangerine). Great viscosity with good grip on the finish. I really like the balance in this whisky—nice complexity too! A very solid effort and the price is right.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 89




Balvenie Peated Cask, 17 year old, 43%, $130
The newest release in Balvenie’s limited-edition range, and the first venture back into smoke since the “Islay Cask” limited release several years ago. Some of this whisky was finished in a peated cask, some in new American oak. Both influences emerge with the smoke (jerky with a hint of kippers) and spice (cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg) on a foundation of honeyed malt. Spicy, smoky finish. Balvenie is one of those big Speyside whiskies that can stand up to the smoke. This one will not appeal to everyone, but it makes for an interesting diversion.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 85

Reviews: Canadian Mist “Black Diamond” and Canadian Mist

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Well, if I’m reviewing the new black Diamond, I might as well review the standard Canadian Mist too while I’m at it. And also compare it to Crown Royal Black.

Canadian Mist Black Diamond, 43%, $15
Richer, sweeter (with more caramelized sugars), fruitier, and spicier than the standard Canadian Mist (reviewed below). Still, I wish it were a bit smoother (especially on the finish) for something I would consider drinking neat on a regular basis. There’s no age statement, but a couple more years of aging would be nice. Like the flagship Canadian Mist, this whisky still plays it fairly conservatively—not a lot of risk-taking here. But, I think it’s slightly better than Crown Royal Black (its logical competitor) which is not as smooth on the finish, and you can get Black Diamond for half the price.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 79

 Canadian Mist, 40%, $12
Very light in aroma and flavor. There’s no off flavors. It’s just uninspiring. Delicate notes of vanilla custard, honey, caramel corn candy, sweet corn, and subtle fruit. Fleeting finish.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 75

Famous chefs and celebs who love scotch?

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Maybe you can help?A fellow writer of mine is doing a story on famous chefs and celebrities who enjoy Scotch whisky. I told him I didn’t know of any, but I am sure they are out there.

Maybe you know of some? If so, please chime in. Thanks!

Reviews: Redbreast 15 yr. old vs. Redbreast 12 yr. old

Friday, September 17th, 2010

I’ve been waiting for this new 15 year old release to come to the U.S., and here it is!  I wanted to like it better than the 12 year old, but I don’t. Don’t get me wrong: the 15 is a great whiskey! It just doesn’t have the polish of the 12, which is a classic.

Redbreast, 12 year old, 40%, $40
Very elegant, complex and stylish. Honeyed and silky in texture, with toffee, toasted marshmallow, nougat, maple syrup, banana bread and a hint of toasted coconut. Bright fruit and golden raisin blend in nicely with the layers of sweetness.  Impeccable balance and very approachable. Classic Irish whiskey!

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 96

Redbreast, 15 year old, 46%, $75
Redbreast 12 year old is a classic pure pot still Irish whiskey, so where can one go from here? This new 15 year old expression is more muscular (bottling at 46% and not chill-filtered certainly helps.), but there are trade-offs. It’s a bit closed on the nose (like a great Bordeaux wine that’s too young). I do enjoy the silky/oily texture, the bold resinous oak spice grip on the finish, and the rich nutty toffee, fig, black raspberry, chocolaty, chewy nougat throughout the palate. Still, it’s not as eminently drinkable, refined or balanced as the 12 year old. (Imagine the 12 year old on steroids.)

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 92

Review: Highland Park 1970 Vintage

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

This one, part of the “Orcadian Vintage Series,” is not exactly in everyone’s budget (okay, it’s in very few people’s budget), and it’s not even being imported to the U.S., but I do enjoy it very much.

Highland Park, 1970 vintage, 48%, £2,250
This limited edition bottling consists of a marriage of both European and American oak. Still lively for its age, and beautifully balanced. A mouthful of golden fruit (sultana, pineapple upside down cake, tangerine, over-ripe nectarine) balanced by soothing, creamy vanilla. A peppering of dried spice, chamomile tea, toasted oak, cigar box, and subtle smoke round out the palate. Soft and seductive.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 94

Review: Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection 2010 release

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

There are two again this year. And once again, there’s an interesting contract between the two. I’m liking the lighter, cleaner, more elegant one better. You might have a difficult time trying to find these whiskeys at the suggested retail price listed below, given that they are very much in demand.

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection, 1995 Vintage, “American Oak Chips Seasoned,” 45%, $47/375ml
Surprisingly light and fresh for a 15 year old whiskey. Crisply spiced, with cinnamon, evergreen, vanilla, anise and teaberry. Hint of dried fruit, kissed with light honey and a wisp of smoke. Balanced and clean throughout, and very drinkable. I’m finding it very hard to find anything to gripe about here. An excellent whiskey!

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 95

Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection, 1995 Vintage, “French Oak Barrel Aged,” 45%, $47/375ml
Dark, big and brooding. A mouthful of oak spice, resin, and leather. Surprisingly (and happily) the oak is never excessive—even on the finish. A mélange of toffee, maple syrup, candied corn props it all up. The flavors aren’t as well defined as its sibling release (reviewed above), and there’s a peculiar hint of “dunnage warehouse” (think damp earth) to it that adds intrigue. A very characterful whiskey worthy of debate.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 88

Review: Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, 2010 release

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

This year’s release of Old Forester’s Birthday Bourbon, a 12 year old from 1997, will (hopefully) be heading to a retailer near you soon. This one is pretty spicy, but I like it!

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, 1997 Vintage, 12 year old, 47.5%, $50
Big and spicy, but contrasted by layers of sweetness. Vibrant dried spice (warming cinnamon, crisp mint, nutmeg, cigar box), caramel, nougat, hint of chocolate fudge laced with coconut, black raspberry and dried citrus. Very warming on the finish, with a nice resinous grip without being over-oaked. A very dynamic whiskey.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 91

Review: Highland Park “St Magnus” 12 yr. old

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Too bad that those of us in the U.S. will not have the opportunity to purchase this.

Highland Park, “Saint Magnus,” 12 year old, 55%, £85
The second in a series of three high-strength, limited-edition Highland Park whiskeys, and a rather bold expression. Nicely sherried and noticeably smoky—more than a standard Highland Park. Quite spicy too—cinnamon, but also ginger and nutmeg. Throw in some toffee apple, Cointreau, and waxed fruit (towards the finish) for intrigue. Long, sherried, smoky finish. A very exciting Highland Park. (Available in the UK.)

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 92