Bruichladdich Scottish Barley- As you and your crew enter the new and hip local gastropub, your first order of business is to select and order a great drink. The whole ” farm to table” trend is good for foodies and our subject malt fits in like the final puzzle piece. The distillers celebrate their locally grown barley and terroir in this golden dram and the floral notes and honey are delightful as you swirl your glass. You will be surprised to discover that this Islay is unpeated and has a full and round mouthfeel. The sea and oak barrels have worked their magic on the Laddie with some brine and layers of texture to enhance the experience. Choose this dram and you might even gain a new measure of cool at the bar, snobbishly rated a solid 8. Slainte…. and the happiest of New Years to you .
Fingerlakes Distilling Rye Whiskey- I know , I know….but every once in a while take a chance on a new beverage. Rye is the grain that makes this drink a winner and you will likely be surprised by the flavor. But first you’ll have to tear yourself away from that synchronized swimming DVD and focus on the tasting at hand. The nose is powerful and frankly foreign , I’m a barley guy for heaven’s sake….I found the first taste whacked me with alcohol and a less than subtle bite but after swirling it around , the warmth and nutty flavors kicked in. The second taste gave me a mouth watering mildly acidic flavor and intense spiciness, quite nice actually. The color was a pale amber and I surprisingly even began to enjoy the kick that accompanied each sip. At a certain point you actually taste the grain that makes this a delightfully chewy Whiskey. The finish was faster than a speeding bullet , not what I’m used to but hey, it’s rye ! I love the fact that this beauty is crafted right in my part of the world , New York’s most beautiful lakes region. Finally, just how do those swimmers hold their breath while their legs are wildly flailing around above water? Please report back to the team. Rated a non traditional 8 and recommended unconditionally, no splashes allowed.
Glengoyne 10- It is time to unhitch from the world wide interweb and get back to enjoying reality at a normal pace. Our subject whisky is a Highland malt of notable unhurried quality. The makers actually air dry the barley and employ a slow process distilling technique which flies in the face of every annoying smartphone wielding speed demon. The nose is of toffee and fruit with a slight earthiness , which could be the result of the dirt floor in the barrel warehouse. I found the usual highland vanilla and a slightly raspy spice at the back of my mouth on the first taste , and just a hint of bacon. Taking my time led to a more mellow mouthfeel and the amber glassfull eventually disappeared rather quietly. Even the finish on my test drive was leisurely, but in a good way. So before some nit picker starts poking around in Google to research this slow paced wonder, I suggest you simply buy a bottle , invite a friend or two via snail mail….( remember stamps and letters..) and taste this beauty. It’s clean and crisp and unhurried. Kinda like Scotland I suspect. Now try not to check your email or the market for at least a few hours……rated an analog 8 on the Snob slide rule….and I lied about the bacon.
Aberlour A’Bunadh – Mercifully, dinner with your in-laws is finally over and the kids are watching Shrek for the third time this week. Now it’s your time and the whisky you need has just dropped in. This deep amber powerhouse is amazingly smooth and malty, especially considering it is cask strength. The distillers aged their prized liquid in Spanish oloroso sherry butts , and that wood has worked its magic. I found spice and pepper along with some mysterious fruit on the palate . The nose is sweet and oh so potent but delightful. I suggest resisting the common temptation to add water to mellow it out, harness the power! The finish is super luxe lengthy and most enjoyable….Halfway through the glass your nutball brother-in-law will seem almost tolerable. This after dinner specialist easily earns a 9 on the Snob-O-Meter.
Rough and tumble whisky lovers pay attention. Here is a dram that will have you re-think your regular pour, especially after a tough day at the ranch. In my mind , drinking harsh whisky is aberrant behavior, totally unacceptable. And yet I did and I enjoyed it , maybe I have gone over the edge. So either I need an immediate intervention or a taste bud transplant. This bastard would never be invited to sit at the cool kids table so why am I reviewing it? The nose is strong with alcohol and has a touch of vanilla and spice. The sunset color and intense mouthfeel fit the ranch image to a tee. There are some traces of dried fruit and smoke in the glass and the finish was faster than a lightning strike. Tough guy stuff is OK now and then, so grab a bottle and hold on….. Put away the fine glassware and pour this stuff into a broken jelly jar, just don’t get cut. If there are Scottish cowboys, I think we just found their favorite Malt Whisky. Snobishly rated a 6.5 and damn proud of it.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society- Open the velvet curtains……..We’ve found the rarest of the rare. Welcome to the distiller’s dark art pinnacle of perfection. Batch 66.49 has been road tested by your faithful scribe and photographer and what a hellish job is was. For my adventure into the upper echelon of malted beverages I thought, what is the most snobbish vessel with which to taste the liquid gold ? Why champagne flutes of course, and the glass actually enhanced the experience. In addition to the hoity toity label and bottling , the stuff is cask strength , i.e. rocket fuel. So Tom and I proceed to taste it neat, and amazingly, not one bit of harshness or bite. The nose was thick with initial alcohol but that gave way to floral notes and just a bit toffy . The complexity in the mouth feel and the delishishly woody flavors were noticed by all lucky enough to be present . The color was a brassy orange and the palate had a nutty, slightly citrus flavor. This being one of only 236 bottles worldwide, the likelyhood of you sharing my experience is distant at best. If you ever are offered a dram, jump at the chance, it is truly world class. This one goes unrated due to its being unobtainium . But make no mistake, it’s the top of the heap.
Ledaig 10- Let’s assume that you would like to combine your love of surfing and single malts. I have just the solution and place. Get your favorite board on the plane and head to the Isle of Mull off the western coast of Scotland where this distillery lies . Sequentially, it’s probably better to surf first and then head to the bar for a wee nip of this wonderfully peated malt. The seaside brininess and not so subtle smoke are the first things you will note in your glass . The bracing cold waves you just left will give way to a swell of warmth and vanilla creaminess after your first dram disappears. The palate is sweet and peppery at the same time and the peat smoke from the dried barley is ever-present. The finish is quite brief like a fast breaking wave……. Both of your endeavors involve flowing liquid energy and the latter will add new meaning to hanging 10. After your next set of waves, collect some drift wood and make a roaring beach fire , having this dude join your party makes it easy to go with the flow and rates a 7.5 .