Exploring the world of Single Malt Scotches

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my Scotch blog, an occasional exploration into the intriguing and esoteric world of single malts . I present this series of words and pictures not as expert or critic by any stretch, but as an aficionado. The goals of these postings are to learn new and interesting scotches and to share my findings with like-minded people. My vocation is advertising photography but among my varied interests are locating and enjoying single malts with friends. I’m looking for the same attributes in a scotch that many of us seek in all aspects of life.... character, uniqueness, quality, and a memorable experience. I invite you to join me, follow along, experiment, enjoy, and by all means feel free to suggest subjects. All photography and words are copyright protected. ©Ken Buschner 2015

Latest

Cardhu 12

Cardhu12-  Breaking news: you can now order a dram of single malt at selected Starbucks locations.  This charmingly fat container shows a warm amber colored whisky that is bottled at 80 proof and it features melon and honey notes aplenty.  I found subtle but pleasant smoke and a good measure of peppery spice mid taste.  Somehow the distiller even managed to impart a taste of vanilla cake in the mix. Cardhu is a Speyside with some lingering sweetness that would make it a fine after dinner drink and the pinched bottle would look swanky on your bar. The finish was satisfyingly long.  I rate this zoftig beauty a solid 7 and it sure beats a latte….oh, and I lied about Starbucks.

Grangestone

Grangestone – describing flavor subtleties in kinda like nailing Jello to the wall, not an easy deal.  This Highland dram is copper  hued  and truly mellow on the nose, without a single hint of the dreaded Jello.  I found complex floral and fruit notes with a whisper of peat. The distilling team in Ayrshire finished their whisky in Sherry casks and that  worked its usual magic.  The finish was brief  but enjoyable and this is a very drinkable single malt and a bargain to boot. Keep the ice and water away as that would spoil your drink.  I rate this vanilla soaked dram a solid seven. Now let me get back to my messy work with the hammer.

Magnus by Highland Park

Magnus by Highland Park- Here is a new expression by an old trusted friend, not me you ninny, Highland Park.  This variation on a theme is a nice enough drink, pleasant round nose and a mild whiff of punchy vanilla with a dose alcohol forward to wake up your senses. I found a faint but enjoyable smokiness in this Orkney distilled malt. There is no revolutionary anything about this dram, no zany barrel aging, no nod to the patron saint of malted spirits, nothing was distilled via flamethrower, so why did I bother?  It’s a super cool looking black bottle for heaven’s sake… good looks have to count for something! That said however, the flavor profile is standard fare with notes of honey and grasses layered in with some spicy fruit.  The finish is longer than usual and rather more pleasant than the criminally oversold higher priced blends ( yup, those Walkers ).  We are led to believe that Viking ancestors began this process and hence the catchy name.  So the next time you are entertaining with a conga line of whisky bottles, add this dude into the mix and I guarantee this one is empty first. Superficial beauty does draw the attention of the masses so turn ‘em loose.  It only rates a 6.5 on the “snobometer“ so no great loss to your collection of the good stuff.  Bottom’s up!

The Art of Scotch

Greetings, I am happy to announce that after a ridiculous amount of time and effort I have published my book on Single Malt Scotch Whisky.  The book itself covers how the spirit is crafted and aged and how the various flavors and characteristics come about.  I have focused on the 4 largest regions and reviewed dozens of single malts.  The graphic design team made the pages truly come alive , in my opinion, and I have attached a few examples.  It is 110 pages in length and 8.5 inches square with outstanding print quality.   I have copies on hand and am offering it first to my followers , including signed as gifts if you desire.  Books are $30. each and I can send and pack them for  $5. additional to most North American destinations.  BarnesandNoble.com , and Amazon.com will have it for sale later this month but they will set their own price.  Please pass this on if you know someone who might appreciate it. Send me you email in a comment and we can make the payment and shipping happen.

Glenfiddich India Pale Ale

Glenfiddich India Pale Ale- I love IPA beer, so why does this idea seem too wacky to work?  These people certainly think outside the box…The spirit spends some quality finishing time in oak barrels that were filled for a time with IPA beer to add in that singular taste profile. I found citrus and floral notes in the nose, which was unusually light.  The flavor was quite sweet with zesty vanilla and fruit, unique to be sure.  At 86 proof, the alcohol makes a statement but what really stands out is the tang of fresh hops. With no age statement on the lable, we expect a young drink with a bit of edge. I found the finish quite brief and a bit sharp, pleasant but unremarkable.  This unconventional whisky may offend the patron saint of Scottish spirits but the team gets high marks for innovation.  I rate this rogue a solid 7 on the snob scale. Oh, one more thing, Hoppy Easter.

 

Queen Highland

The Queen Highland- Freddy Mercury may be long gone but his legacy lives on with his favorite whisky. This sketchy malt is named for his band and deserves your full attention.  I found some subtle notes of mildew with undertones of used gear oil in the first taste.  The nose was a delicate harmony of spring swamp and eau de dairy barn.  Upon further review and a second taste, the entire experience was a tad worse overall with a trace of rust on the tongue. The crack distilling team tout’s filtering their water through damp lumps of pocket lint and aging in second fill pickle barrels, quite a Bohemian technique.  The finish will rock you with its lingering Rhapsody of vaguely unpleasant medicinal tones.  I suggest you wear your best scotch goggles to help you get to the bottom of the jelly jar, my recommended tasting vessel.   And be sure to save the lid in case you fail to finish the pour.  This whisky is about as appealing as free tickets to a Justin Bieber concert.  As Freddy would say, “another one bites the dust”.  A hearty April Fool’s review, with tongue in cheek from me to you.

Kilchoman Machir Bay

Kilchoman Machir Bay- Are you looking for a value whiskey? Me neither, so let’s have a look at this one in the cool bottle.  Our malt is an Islay which brings to mind certain characteristics and the taste confirms our suspicions. The nose is sweet with floral and citrus notes and a fair dose of smoke.  I found massive honey and butterscotch in the palate which I attribute to the sherry barrel component.  It is a punchy malt boasting 92 proof and long legs indeed. I wish the distillers had added in an age statement as we all like to know what we’re buying.  The finish is a glorius combo of salty and smoky , right up my alley…….Machir Bay is a beautiful beach and that might be the best place to enjoy a glass if you have the time.  Now back to the value aspect, this boy is an overachiever, especially since it rates a solid 7.5…….and it’s a looker.