Bruichladdich Rocks- These people break all the rules and somehow the result is just grand. An un-peated Islay malt is unheard of and it’s the water that filters through the rocks that makes the magic happen according to head distiller Jim McEwan, and I surmise that he know’s a wee bit about this issue. This non-smoky single malt is a feisty dude with a boat load of character. Islay is home to several of my favorite single malts and this newbie just made the list even longer. Rocks indeed…..the name is a misnomer if ever there was one because this is a smooth drink dripping with character, nothing crude here. The liquid is a beautiful amber color and the nose is rich and slightly sweet with a good dose of alcohol initially. The usual caramel flavors give way to some interesting heather or floral notes and the finish is lingering. Keep the ice away from this one even in the summer sun, it demands to be enjoyed neat ….. Oh, and that crazy color on the label? My pal Nicole swears that the ocean at the Bruichladdich distillery really looks like that, maybe we need a field trip to verify . I rate this crazy rebel a solid 8.
Tullibardine – I occasionally wonder about the curious link between track centric people and single malts. As you review your corner data back home in the den, a wee dram of this Highland whisky should be part of your process. Tullibardine means ” lookout hill” in gaelic and from my vantage point here I’m looking at a paddock full of highly tuned track machines. Many of my friends who are engaged in this pursuit are serious fans of esoteric scotches. Our subject malt pours bright gold and has a sweet citrus nose with a smooth and clean finish. Lighter that most, there is a distinctive wine like presence that may result from the aging in bourbon barrels. I found some spiciness in the mouthfeel and think most fans of a waving checkered flag will enjoy this winner. It may not be the smoothest ………. but neither is that motor of yours with the full race cam. Best enjoyed after your next event and rated a solid 7 on the snob tachometer…..
The Dalmore – Think back to when you were cut from the JV team….devastating right? Now you’ve achieved some level of success and and can splurge a bit and this is your revenge. Back in the day, legend has it that the owner of the Dalmore distillery saved his King from a charging stag and therefore was granted permission to use this “Royal” symbol for his whisky. The Stags head on the bottle is only the beginning of a unique scotch experience. This beautiful orange liquid has a sweet nose and a thick but delicious maltiness. There is some initial spiciness followed by a mellow flavor of vanilla . The scotch is started aging in American bourbon casks but finished for three final years in oloroso sherry barrels , hence the sweetness. The finish was long and satisfying and how can you possibly beat that 12 pointer on the bottle ! So enjoy the fruits of your hard won labors and remember that the kid who starred on the JV team is still asking people ,“paper or plastic”….. I rate this muscular stud a hearty 8
GlenDronach 12- It has been a tradition to offer up a dram about mid way through a practice session and this bluesy malt was one of the chart toppers. The deep amber color perfectly matched the vintage fade on my drums and the nose was ultra sweet with toffee notes and some vanilla overtones. The taste was a crescendo of flavors with a staccato pepper beat and a powerful finish. My suggestion is to enjoy this bold flavored malt with a Jeff Beck CD and some like minded folks as the music in your glass would be enhanced and the experience would linger on into the evening. See if you can identify the fruit overtones and send your comments back, I love the feedback. Try not to rush the tempo of your drink and just enjoy it mellow. I rate this amber beauty a solid 9.
AnCnoc 12- A recent visit to the Guggenheim renewed my interest in all things modern. Many single malts have vintage formulas and equally stogy graphics which brings us to the artistically contemporary AnCnoc 12 produced by the good folks at Knockdhu. Gaelic for “ The Hill “, it should be no surprise that this yellow hued beauty is a highland malt. The nose was ultra crisp with a good dose of pepper and and a minor stroke of smoke. The mouth feel was clean and creamy with the usual Speyside fruit hidden somewhere deep in the composition. The lovely finish was long and lingering and the malt itself was representative of the clean and graphic label. All the essentials for a memorable drink are here and while this may not be the “ Picasso” of single malts, it is surely worth adding to your gallery…Rated a painterly 7 on the snob scale.
Clynelish 14- Don’t let the wacky cat scare you away from this coastal overachiever. Our subject is a Highland classic that pours a beautiful orange color and your initial sense will be delicate floral notes with a subtle sweetness. Enjoyed neat , you’ll find spicy overtones and a lingering warm finish. You might detect additional nuances by adding a few drops of water ……My personal preference is having distinctive peat and this single malt delivers a mild smokiness that is soft enough for almost any whisky fan. In my experience , most felines are perpetually blasé , but this one has the correct level of attitude and character. I rate it a puurrfectly warm and fuzzy 7.5.
Aberlour 12 – As we contemplate the spectacular Sochi Olympics, I have a strategy to help you truly enjoy the competition. Acquire a bottle of this Double Cask Matured highland malt and prepare a comfortable chair for you and a friend in front of the 80 inch flatscreen. It’s the gold medal color that first grabs your attention and the mellow nose with mild spiciness ices the job. The full flavor with toffee and caramel lingers well past the finish line. Not even Vladimir Putin’s rants could spoil the experience for true Speyside fans, yup ….the distillers call their product a “ Highland Speyside Malt” …go figure. Enjoy your own opening ceremony with this highly trained Whisky , rated a podium worthy 8 on the snob scale.
Caol Ila 12- This Olympic caliber single malt harkens from Islay on the Scottish west coast and has a classic peaty character. The nose is crisp and smoky with a bit of organic grassyness in the mix. Swirl this in you mouth for a good long time and more complexity will present itself. I suspect that fans of NHL defensemen will appreciate this Scotch as opposed to those who wear yoga pants on a regular basis as it sports powerful flavors. I highly recommend this refined tough guy for the fan of outsized flavor , it’s a bit like a slapshot to your taste buds, in the best possible way. Get your bottle in house right away in case you end up in the penalty box. Its rated as highly as a hat trick….. just hold the ice. Final score is a winning 8.5.
Glenkinchie 12- I propose that you buy this bottle as a service to your non Scotch loving friends. We’ve all heard that Scotch Whisky is an acquired taste…nonsense, limburger cheese is an acquired taste, Scotch is delicious. This may be the perfect “rookie“ single malt with its delightful pale color and its mellow taste. I found it light on the tongue with a citrus sweetness and a long dry finish , remember to have the newbies hold the malt in their mouth and enjoy the taste fully before downing it . The distillers call this the “Edinburgh Malt” as it is produced near the capital of Scotland but fortunately none of the city pollution made it into the bottle. My friend Jerry provided our opportunity to add this approachable malt to the lineup and I suggest promoting your triple A players to the big leagues . I rate this slugger a solid 8 and suggest adding it to your roster.
Chieftain’s Limited Edition- A mogul friend of mine recently gave me a bottle of this unique single malt. The story goes like this…Ian Macleod purchased cask stocks from the Ben Nevis distillery and allowed the whisky to mature in Hogshead barrels for a curious 13 years. Autumn amber in color and spicy smooth on the nose, this is a bold flavored malt fit for a Scottish Chieftain or an American Mogul ! The vanilla notes linger on the palate long after the spiciness has receded. I suggest this 8+ rated Highland single malt be included in the leather clad cabin of your custom Learjet on your next business adventure, Slainte Kemosabe.
Glen Grant- I find it fascinating that Ulysses S. was at West Point when his relative Glen founded this fine distillery in the Speyside region ( a bit of pseudo history ) . Even whisky rookies know the attributes from this slightly dysfunctional family , many of the famous regular single malts hail from the area surrounding the river Spey and for good reason. This amber dram has grassy notes as though a meadow was introduced to the process along with the grain. I found an initial harshness in the nose and sweet aromatic caramel in the first taste. Linger a bit however and the alcohol seems to mellow out . Given the summer season is upon us, ” GG ” might lend itself to a cube or two , or even a splash of soda. I suggest sunset might be the ideal time of day for consumption, the golden color in your glass will enhance the visual experience. Rated a 6.5 , drinkable but unremarkable and endorsed by the General posthumously . Cheers to summer !
Jura Superstition – If you travel to the remote Isle of Jura off the west coast of Scotland, you will hear tales of strange customs and legends. The bottle containing this fine malt is decorated with the ancient Ankh symbol which is rumored to bring good fortune, especially if you wear your lucky socks . I can assure you at least of good tastings if you pour a dram of this spicy and lightly peated whisky…so maybe the Ankh is a good omen. The rocky soil and heathery peat each contribute to the subtle flavors of honey and a crisp woody note . Neat is the only way to appreciate this special single malt and you might want to avoid any black cats or full moon evenings for your first taste. I found that the finish was long and sweet with a slight smokiness . Highly recommended with an 8.5 rating , just not on Friday the 13th
Oban 14- There is something fishy about this Western Highland malt, primarily because it harkens from the town of Oban which was a fishing village for hundreds of years before the distillery was constructed in the late 1700’s. Talk about a rich history ….you can detect a slightly salty air in your glass if you give it a chance to linger . Richly colored like an amber jewel , this smooth and slightly malty scotch has a dry delicious texture on the palate . I detected subtle creaminess in my second glass which made me think this would be a fine after dinner dram, perfect for following your grilled beef or venison. There is a subtle but delightful bit of peat balanced by some fruit mid taste. I image this as the ideal reward for landing a “keeper” on a dry fly. Easily an 8+. Oh, and to avoid sounding like a rookie….remember when ordering that the A is silent.
Lagavulin 16… “great balls of fire” said Jerry Lee Lewis, well here is the embodiment of that classic rock tune in a bottle. A generous dose of peat and serious smoky flavors will reward those who enjoy it neat. This whisky is intense and complex with a lingering finish , I found a sea side saltiness underneath the smoke and fire. The folks on Islay take their time nurturing this prize…. it matures and grows stronger for 16 years in oak prior to landing in your bottle. this 86 proof is much smoother than you might expect but is definitely not a beginners malt, my guess is that the Killer himself would be a fan of this power house Scotch, I rate it a smoldering 8.5..Slainte!
Brenne…Sacré Bleu mon ami…One of the Snob’s favorite whisky bloggers has launched her own single malt! Kudos to the Whisky Woman for this world class achievement in the distilling arena. This lovely and well balenced French Single Malt is aged in Cognac barrels which infuses the malt with a delightful sweetness, adding to the complexity. I detected equal parts of subtle fruit and grain initially and the finish was lingering and just a bit spicy. Finding this malted tour de force will take some patience as distribution progresses but this link will allow you to purchase a bottle from your favorite chair.
The Peat Monster …. Our timing seems perfect to discuss Dr. Stu’s contribution to our season ending celebration. In this corner of the world, burning a huge pile of amber leaves is a fall ritual which should be enhanced by enjoying a glass of this “liquid autumn”. One whiff of this smoky scotch sets the stage for a vanilla sweetness with an oaky flavor infusion. The maple leaf color is perfectly suited to enjoying this blend with a few splashes of water . There is not as much complexity here as with a good single malt but it still deserves a spot on your shelf. Take a break from the rake and tame the Monster in front of your fireplace….I rate this beast a solid 7.
The Johnnie Walker Rainbow. The Snob was fortunate to be included in a select group of Malt Junkies at TK’s lounge recently. Fortunately for the group, the selection of Johnnies did not include the “Dreaded Red” which seems to haunt most proletarian bars due to it’s price . Our host began the festivities with the tuxedo Black poured neat and its malty overtones of sherry and toffee were quite nice actually. With the group being very environmentally sensitive, we moved on to the Green which was noticeably smoother and more luxurious in its nose, a real move up market. Batting third was the lovely Gold with its sunny sweetness and subtle peat, I found this to be my favorite in the lineup. Finally our host ceremonially poured the storied Blue and much to my surprise, it seemed over refined …perhaps the blending was too complex and it muted the oaky flavors . The peat was barely perceptible and the finish was rather quick. The cleanup batter managed to get on base but failed to live up to its reputation. I loved the concept of tasting the “siblings” in sequence and these whiskeys offer surprising character and drinkability. In order I rate them 7, 7.5, 8.5, and 7.5. Invite the full lineup to your next gathering and enjoy the diversity .
The good folks who make that lovely smoky Laphroaig Single Malt are going to be producing a live and interactive whisky tasting webTV show from Nuremberg, Laphroaig Live 2012, with Laphroaig Distillery Manager, John Campbell, master blender Robert Hicks, and some other whisky aficionados. Join them for a fine experience using this link, cheers !
Bushmills 21 Irish whiskey- The Snob has invaded a new island! Irish ….darn right ! The drink of choice for my friend JS , this sweet and fragrant single malt is spicy and delightfully complex with fruit notes and a lingering finish. Aging in sherry and bourbon casks for 21 years has worked its magic by infusing the flavors with citrus and sweetly grapelike flavors. I might need a bit more exploration time to appreciate the subtleties in this bottle, which is visually intriguing due to the stylish embossed flanks and square shape. Broaden your horizons, welcome your Irish neighbor to the table! I rate it a solid 7.5 .
Glenlivet 12 Airline Mini- Here’s a first…. the snob manages a stellar review at 32,000 feet. Enjoying a fine scotch is part tasting and part overall experience. Who need a crystal glass when American Airlines offers up a charming embossed plastic cup. Additionally, the warmth of the genuine Formica folding table (complete with propaganda literature in the clever seat back pocket) enhances our enjoyment. This refined highland whisky has subtle floral notes with very light peating. Somehow during the process, even the roar of the 757’s massive jet engines seemed to mellow out after a few sips. I found vanilla and spicy fruit flavors in this extremely smooth malt, and its golden color brightened up the cabin of my aluminum transporter. I recommend this mile high treat to even my pilot friends…once you touch down. My apologies for the inferior photo on this post, the iphone was bouncing around and my lighting isn’t up to the usual snob standards…I rated this well traveled scotch a solid 8.
Highland Park 18- Remember that Billy Joel tune “Uptown Girl” ? This classic Orcadian Island Scotch is the embodiment of uppercrust snazzines. It arrives in a stylish flat bottle that makes it stand out from the crowd and hints of something special. The peaty nose suggests a powerful flavor and tasting immediately confirms it. This malt’s slightly nutty and complex flavors seem to “ open” nicely with a few drops of water, swirl and savor for sure. There are toffee overtones in each dram that finally give way to a long smokey finish. Here is a very special scotch that would make a fine gift for a valued friend. Somewhat aristocratic …break out your best glassware for this uptown dandy. Easily a 9+ rating and highly recommended. ( 86 proof )
Penderyn Welsh Single Malt – Wrong freekin’ island you say ? Not so fast you snobbish consumer. While you’re not likely to find this unique bottle at the corner store, it is worth a special delivery. The Prince of Wales might better have a case of this fine drink than whatever Camilla brings to the party…..The whisky itself is lightly peated and has an engagingly mellow nose that transitions into a minor flavor explosion. There is a fruity sense and the sherry casks also make their presence known in the finish. I found that swirling the whisky in my mouth allowed the complexity to come forward like a royal parade on a spring day. Don’t get you kilt in a knot over the origins of this very drinkable whisky, just go with the flow. Snobbishly rated an 8.
Springbank Private Label, Some days are better than others….and today was a rockin’ fine example . Here’s a very special bottle that was purchased as an entire barrel many moons ago and man o man was it worth the wait. This is a rich and mellow malt with lovely vanilla notes leading to an oaky spice in the background. My friend Adrienne who provided this example reports that robbing a bank might be the only way to acquire your own stash, as the last bottle sold at auction for a cool grand. Compare this rare scotch with the distinctive tones of a vintage Rickenbacker and you’ll get the picture. I wonder if Mr. Thomas Petty enjoys the occasional dram……..this liquid music rates a 9+ ,or a Grammy.
The Macallan 12- Here’s one very mature 12 year old, way past the usual pre-teen shenanigans! This Highland smoothy is one whisky that you can enjoy with meals as well as during the evening; it’s creamy enough and perfectly flavored for accompanying a juicy steak with your mate. The rich golden color is the result of perfectly roasted all Scottish barley aged in sherry casks for a full dozen years. This lingering finish lasts longer than War and Peace did on your nightstand. I found fruity notes with vanilla in the background, probably should have another glass in case I missed anything. I rate this classic a solid 8