Whisky Advocate

Some new whiskies I like, and some I don’t (part 2)

August 15th, 2013

John HansellEarlier this week I offered my thoughts on some new bourbon and Tennessee whiskeys. In this post, I address some new scotch whiskies, Indian whiskies, as well as some more bourbons that I’ve recently tasted.

Scotch

Delilahs-BottleIf you’ve been drinking whisky as long as I have, you remember those great Springbank whiskies distilled in the 1960s and 1970s. The distillery was shut down for most of the 1980s and the whiskies distilled after that have occasionally shown the brilliance of the pre-closure era, but it’s been sporadic. This new single cask Springbank 21 year old (Lombard  “Jewels of Scotland”) selected by D & M Wines & Liquors (Cask No. 172, 49.7%, distilled in 1991, matured in a bourbon cask) reminds me of those lovely pre-closure Springbank (but not sherried like many of those were). It’s nicely matured and, while a little soft in nature because of its age, it still expresses an appetizing freshness, spice and hint of brine.

Another scotch I’m really liking is the new Compass Box Limited Release “Delilah’s,” produced to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of Delilah’s bar in Chicago. According to John Glaser of Compass Box, it’s a combination of single malt and single grain whiskies aged in a mix of experimental new American oak barrels. It’s designed to be a “shot and a beer” kind of whisky. It’s one of the most drinkable whiskies I’ve ever tasted, and very smooth.  Open the bottle with some friends and throw away the cork! (Note: this is a casual whisky. It was designed to be fun and easy drinking. If you’re looking for something incredibly complex and life-altering, look somewhere else.)

Two recent single malts (both from independent bottlers) that I was less impressed with were a Tobermory 18 year old (Maltman) aged in a sherry cask (polluted with sherry from my standpoint) and a 20 year old Longmorn 20 year old (Old Malt Cask) aged in a refill hogshead (here’s a case where a small amount of sherry would have added balance and complexity).

Bourbon

Blantons Giold EditionI tried two more bourbons that I really like since my “Part 1″ post earlier this week. Most of you are familiar with Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon (bottled at 93 proof). Well, I tried two “higher proof” Blanton’s single barrel offerings for the export market and like both of them more than the standard issue Blanton’s: Blanton’s Gold Edition (103 proof) and Blanton’s Straight From The Barrel (132.7 proof). It just seems that the higher proof works nicely with the Blanton’s flavor profile. My favorite of the Blanton’s family samples I tasted is actually the Gold Edition. It’s perfectly balanced, sophisticated in character, very drinkable for its strength, and complex. It’s easily one of the best bourbons I’ve tasted this year. (Keep in mind that these are single barrel bottlings and each barrel has it’s own unique flavor profile. My barrel numbers were Barrel No. 116 for the Straight From The Cask and Barrel No. 1 for the Gold Edition.)

India

Finally, I wanted to tell you about a new Amrut I really enjoy. ( New to the Whisky Advocate headquarters anyway–bottles are now available in the U.S.) Amrut has produced some delicious whiskies over the past several years, and this one is right up there at the top for me as far as quality and complexity. It’s called Amrut 100. (Bottled at 100 cl, at 100 British proof, only 100 bottles for each market.) This one is a smoky one, with lovely peat and spice notes, and a rich, balancing sweet underbelly.

P.S. If I get enough new whiskies over the next couple of weeks, I might do a Part 3 in this series.

 

19 Responses to “Some new whiskies I like, and some I don’t (part 2)”

  1. Matt says:

    John, is there any reason in particular why Buffalo Trace only releases these other Blanton’s editions to the export market?

    • John Hansell says:

      While produced at Buffalo Trace, I believe the brand is owned by Age International, a different company. I’m not sure why these are export only. I wish they weren’t.

      • EricH says:

        Age International is owned by Takara Shuzo Ltd, of Japan. They also own Tomatin. Considering the fact Four Roses (also owned by a Japanese company) have certain expressions only available in Japan, I’m going to say it’s just how they choose to do business.

      • Carlton says:

        John, how does the Blanton’s Gold compare to 100 proof Rock Hill Farms? I understand it is another single barrel Age International product with the same mash bill as Blanton’s.

        • John Hansell says:

          That would be an interesting comparison. I currently don’t have any Rock Hill Farms in my stash, but I’ll try to pick a bottle up in my travels and will report back here if I do the comparison.

    • BourbonMan62 says:

      Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon/Age International is a subsidiary of and is owned by Takara Shuzo Ltd of Japan. Blanton’s has a US distribution agreement with Sazerac that was executed before the other labels were established. At this time Sazerac/Buffalo Trace has not added the other products for US distribution.

  2. RogersDA says:

    Some nice selections from the past two posts. I would be interested to know if you have tried any of the selections from Lost Spirits.

  3. Alex says:

    Thanks for the additional comments, John. I’m looking forward to a possible part 3.

    Aren’t all blended scotch whiskies a blend of single malt and single grain whiskies? So the Compass Box is just a blended scotch, right? Am I missing something?

  4. Hi Alex,

    You are of course correct; Delilah’s is indeed a Blended Scotch whisky. However, there is blended scotch whisky and then there is blended scotch whisky!

    As you may well already know, there are three categories of blended scotch: 1. Blended Malt Scotch Whisky – 100% single malt whiskies but from more than one distillery e.g. The Peat Monster. 2. Blended Grain Scotch Whisky – 100% single grain whiskies from more than distillery. e.g Hedonism 3. Blended Scotch Whisky – any combination of single malt and single grain whiskies e.g Great King Street.

    These three categories often get lumped together, but they offer three completely different styles of whisky, which is why we prefer to be as explicit as we can about the make up of Delilah’s (and all our whiskies) when we describe them. So in this case, you know to expect that combination of sweet, seductive grain whisky with a more complex, savory, fuller bodied malt.

    I hope that helps clarify things!

    • Alex says:

      Thanks for the answer, Chris! I’m a fan of Great King Street, so I am aware that the Compass Box blends are usually higher in malt than some other blends, as well.

  5. Louis says:

    John, that Lombard Springbank goes for $385. Binny’s has a Duncan Taylor 18 year old for $150. Have you by any chace, tried that one?

  6. Chen says:

    I would love some suggestions of a good single malt that is aged exclusively in bourbon casks at the $100 or less price mark. A gift for a friend who is allergic to fruit. Sure would love a taste of that Lombard!
    Thanks!

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