Whisky Advocate

My Informal Thoughts on New Whiskies (Part 2)

October 15th, 2012

Here’s the second half of my post that began on October 5th (with a WhiskyFest summary in between).

So, about the new Ardbeg Galileo. Interesting stuff, this. Here’s my take on it. Ardbeg, for most people is a “mood” whisky to begin with, meaning that you have to be in the right mood for it. (I know, there are some of you out there who could drink Ardbeg all day long, including with your sausages at breakfast.) The fact that Galileo contains some Ardbeg matured in Marsala wine casks makes it even that much more of a mood whisky. So much to the point where I am currently struggling to find a mood where I would prefer Galileo to even another Ardbeg. Let’s face it. There have been so many great Ardbeg releases that the bar is set pretty high. Maybe too high for Galileo. And I am just not sure if the wine flavors play well with the other more traditional Ardbeg notes. This is a “try before you buy” whisky.

And while I’m still scratching my head a little, I might as well bring up Jack Daniel’s Unaged Rye. Okay, I know that many of the craft distillers have come out with essentially unaged whiskeys, and yes, some of the big boys have released some “white” whiskeys too. I also appreciate that many talented mixologists have created some interesting cocktails with unaged whiskeys. Personally, I would prefer to wait another several years or so after this whiskey has aged and mellowed out a little.

Speaking of aged Tennessee whiskeys, there’s going to be a new George Dickel Rye ($25). All the whiskey in this new bottling is at least 5 years old, and for this reason alone I am enjoying it more than Jack Daniel’s Unaged Rye. It’s made from 95% rye, like many other rye whiskeys on the market, including the another Diageo-owned bourbon label, Bulleit Rye. (Some Whisky Advocate readers out there might have a pretty good idea where these 95% rye whiskeys are sourced, because we’ve written about it recently.)

I thought it quite a coincidence that Jack Daniel’s Unaged Rye was introduced just days before George Dickel announced their new rye. A wry rye, perhaps? 🙂

On to another product which, at this time, is more of a curiosity now but, like Jack Daniel’s Unaged Rye, could blossom into a very nice whisky. I have a sample of the new Glen Moray Peated Spirit (Batch #1). It a 200 ml sample, hand-bottled, from a single cask at barrel proof (60.6%). It’s not old enough (3 years minimum) to be called whisky, but it shows a lot of promise. Time will tell.

Two new whiskies I like very much, and we don’t have to wait another 5 years to drink them are from Compass Box. They are the Great King Street New York Blend and the most recent version of Flaming Heart. The NY Blend of Great King street is bolder than the original GKS: it’s maltier and smokier. John Glaser did a great job matching the personality of the whisky with the great city of New York. And the Flaming Heart kicks ass, as always. Well done John.

Finally, I’d like to make a quick mention of another new whisky I am enjoying. It’s the Glenfiddich Maltmaster’s Edition. It’s matured in bourbon casks and then finished in sherry casks. Compared to, say, the standard 12 year old bottling, this one is richer, fruitier and spicier. This whisky is for those of you out there who keep telling me that Glenfiddich 12 year old is just not interesting enough for you. ($80)



No Responses to “My Informal Thoughts on New Whiskies (Part 2)”

  1. Gary Stratton says:

    Hamish Torrie says NO Ardbeg is “Finished” Ardbeg’s only go in ONE cask then are Blended together with other Casks.

  2. Jeff says:

    Have you had a chance to try the new Parker’s Heritage Collection? I have been fiercely staring down a bottle of it but haven’t pulled the trigger.

  3. Jeff says:

    Also, I hope some of this unaged whiskey that seems to be booming right now falls in the jaws of the shark as it makes it triumphant jump.

    • Jeff (the other, usually angry, one) says:

      Could it be that Jeffs have a natural aversion to NAS bottles or just the doublethink that goes along with their marketing?

      Many NAS whiskies aren’t really so bad in terms of quality, but they’re usually somewhat overpriced (God knows what the margin on some of this young stuff is!), even as the industry tries to somehow square the age vs. quality circle while information to the consumer is reduced. If all the bottles that supposedly have their age statement “spoiled” by the inclusion of younger whiskey could at least be up front about the minimum and maximum ages (if not the average age per unit volume, which would be really interesting), it would be one thing, but, apparently, it’s often considered nobody’s business to know what they’re buying. For the all the talk about traditional methods and wisdom, distillers have never heard you should never buy (or try to sell) a pig in a poke?

  4. Red_Arremer says:

    I had a chance to try some of these recently.

    I also found the Galileo a little odd– it wasn’t just the wine. I felt it just didn’t serve as much up front, in terms of flavor and texture, as I was expecting. I have a feeling it’s worth another look, though.

    I tried the Glenfiddich Maltmaster’s and found it very soft, but well put together. People used to say that the Balvenie 21 Portwood was smooth as milk– This has that kind of quality about it… I could see this stuff being very dangerous for some…

  5. OudErnest says:

    Wel,l I pulled the trigger on the Galileo and while I’m not disappointed that I did am I a little perplexed as well. As a lover of Ardbeg in all its manifestations I feel like this expression lacks the typical bite for an Ardbeg and finishes a little soft for my taste.

  6. Logan says:

    Any idea when the Compass Box New York blend will be for sale in retail outlets?

  7. Scribe says:

    I concur in your assessment of the latest Flaming Heart, John…I have a bottle of that and found it a wonderful experience at first sip. Unique, full-bodied taste…a real winner!

  8. tmckenzie says:

    I am a Dickel fan from way back. Since this is made elsewhere, I take it that it went throught the charcoal mellowing process at Dickel. If so, can you tell it?

    • John Hansell says:

      If I tasted it blind, I don’t think I would have said to myself: “Hey, this tastes like an LDI rye that has gone through the Lincoln County Process.” The high rye? Yes. But not sure about the charcoal mellowing. I only tasted it once so far. I’ll have another go at it and see if I’m getting those characteristics. Might be easier to find if I know what to look for, though.

  9. Tried the Galileo yesterday and i think there’s too much “fruity Glenmorangie influences” in that one. Lumdens should keep both distilleries far away from each other…

    Not a bad whisky but coming from Ardbeg, i don’t think this is a hit.

    • John Hansell says:

      Agreed. Not a bad whisky, but there are so many other really good Ardbegs to choose from.

      • David D says:

        We all know that the Ardbeg Day is the best single malt of the year, anyway

          • Christopher Mueller says:

            What are your thoughts on the Day? I think I recall you liking it. I am hoping to open my bottle next week–is it true that there’s some sherry influence?

          • OudErnest says:

            I had my one and most likely only taste of the Ardbeg Day at the Hill Farmstead Brewery farmhouse ale festival while breaking down my campsite at 8 in the morning. Ran I to a fellow festival goer standing around the bonfire when a thunderstorm sent us scrambling for our tents. Lo and behold he approached the next morning with a dram. I savored it from northern Vermont to the Massachusetts border (not driving thankfully!). I thought it was smokey and smooth.

  10. aaronbarker says:

    I think it’s neat to see some of the unaged spirits coming to market. While less complex as compared to a true whisky, obviously, I think it’s interesting to sample these alongside current offerings from some of the distilleries and to try and discern what characteristics will carry through once aged in oak. Glenglassaugh’s new make bottlings will serve as a reference point once they start releasing more whiskies than the current ‘Revival’. I wouldn’t want to see new spirits offered in the full-size bottles, but as smaller 200ml releases, they’d be at the right level to pique my curiosity often enough.

    • Bob Siddoway says:

      I agree completely. The unaged whiskeys are interesting and worth trying, like you said, to compare to the aged versions just for us geeks. However, there’s no way that I would be buying full-size bottles of the majority of them on any regular basis nor repeatedly.

    • Red_Arremer says:

      It’s also interesting to see the difference between the unaged and the little-aged spirits. Lately I’ve been tasting spirits from start-up distilleries that are aged between two months and a year. I’ve been really surprised at the character and quality of some.

  11. Ian Besch says:

    Very interesting thread, this. In September I was lucky enough to tour Glenglassaugh with Ronnie Routledge and we talked about age statements. I mused that I for one would like to see all the whiskies that go into a bottle, not just the youngest. Perhaps such a practice would aid in the understanding of age and its contribution to the flavour profile of the dram in your glass. The more people understand whisk(e)y, the better off we’ll all be I say, drinkers and industry alike.

  12. […] I couldn’t find much information about this whisky on the interwebz, but I was able to get some information from Whisky Advocate’s John Hansell on his blog: […]

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