Exploring the world of Single Malt Scotches

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Laphroaig 10

Laphroaig 10-  This muscular whisky demands respect and we are here to make that happen.  Roasting barley over smoldering Islay peat makes the rich and complex flavors happen and therein lies the magic.  A quiet fury erupts in your glass immediately and I suggest you savor it neat. Our chosen island single malt is bottled at 86 proof and it is shockingly smooth with notes of toasty caramel and fruit tarts.  The nose is potent and delightful on a frosty evening. Lesser malts that try to duplicate the wizardry end up smelling more like a dumpster fire…..Swirl your glass before each taste and you’ll enhance the experience.  I loved the ultra malty finish and suggest that you make sharing a dram part of your weekend.  This family offers us many options and you can spend more, but for me this one checks all the boxes.  Powerful tastes for educated palates, rated a strong 8 on the snob scale.

Craigellachie 13

 

Craigellachie 13- This Speyside hipster is a classic teenager, slightly off kilter and a touch funky.  I found a “meaty” taste of salty sweetness initially and at 46% it packs a solid punch. The golden amber spirit uses classic worm tubs to cool the malt and that technique introduces some nice sulfur notes which are unique and there is no peaty smoke in the profile.  The whisky is smoother than post Zamboni ice and thick as honey, quite enjoyable. The nose is lighter than the actual spirit and there is some mystery fruit mid taste.  Fortunately for us finish is longer than this dreary election season and it has just a hint of teen angst…13 years in charred bourbon barrels have worked their usual magic and that makes my rating a snobbish 7, interesting and enjoyable, but not remarkable.  

Creag Isle 12

Creag Isle 12- The bottle looked promising on the shelf and  I enjoy Islay whiskies, what could possibly go wrong……­­This name was unfamiliar and I always seek new tastes so….. Upon opening, the nose was powerful and a bit peaty, a fine first impression.  My initial taste was a tad sharp with enough honey sweetness to make a beekeeper swoon. The  burnt amber color and substantial legs in the glass added to the anticipation.  At 42% the alcohol makes a statement along with the mild grassy and fruit flavors , and while the taste is good , it is far from remarkable.  As a serious fan of Island Scotches , I am a touch underwhelmed by Mr. or Ms. Creag’s distilling.  Our subject is a wee notch up from a blend and I rate it a generous 6.  

Glenfiddich 14

Glenfiddich Bourbon Barrel Reserve 14-  With a nod to American spirits and as a way to get us far far away from American politics, I present this modest diversion.  The magic herein is due to the lengthy stay in deeply charred bourbon oak and man did it ever work.  The rich amber color and ultra silky mouthfeel are most welcome on a fall evening. I found a unique mash up of corn and vanilla sweetness and a delightfully long finish.  The 86 proof is bold enough to make a statement and yet still is mellow enough for everyone to enjoy it neat as intended.  The nose is crazy sweet almost like a dessert, yum……While the leaves in our area are changing and flying, grab a bottle of this and enjoy it outside, somehow the spirit and the fall action enhance each other perfectly. Now if we could just have a choice other than cranky old guys for the most important job in the land!  I rate this blue labeled beauty a solid 8 on the snob scale.  Slainte

 

Port Askaig 110 Proof

Port Askaig 110 Proof- God knows we all need a diversion and I have a solution.  Here’s a new experience you can enjoy without a mask or the dreaded smell of Purell. Acquire a stash of this Islay powerhouse and prepare for a flavor bomb of the highest order.  Special thanks go out to the P.I.C. Larry , ( Provisioner In Chief) for his efforts on our behalf…..This moody bad boy comes to us from an un-named distiller on the Island but my research points to Caol Ila.  With no age statement, it’s a guess on my part but 8 years seems about right, still edgy but very flavorful and malty.  The deep amber color suits my mood perfectly and the nose meets us at the corner of Smoky and Grain.  The robust taste has some faint vanilla and fruit and a large whack of alcohol, and at 55% that is expected.  The aging is all in ex- bourbon barrels and those have imparted a delicate sweetness with a moderately long finish.  I tried a glass with a few drops of water but the effect was just less character, leave it as bottled.  So get to work on this 7.5 rated newcomer post haste. Now go wash your hands.

Christmas Gift Suggestion

Seasons Greetings to you and your family, here is an idea……Greetings all, Here is my totally self serving idea, I will sign, endorse, and ship to you for $35.  For more images and a full description please visit my posting from May of this year. Also available on barnesandnoble.com , and Amazon .com  .  All the best to you and yours !

Cheers, Ken

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.