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.
Loch Lomond 12- Choosing a new single malt is a bit like playing “Operation”. You want to be able to grab that beauty without getting zapped. That is not a problem with this Highland rock star , grab and go with the confidence of a surgeon. The fine folks with their distillery perched on the shore of this scenic lake (loch), use a unique mash up of recharred, refilled and bourbon barrels to craft their malty magic. The complex sweetness on the nose is payed off with ultra mellow fruit and spices in the flavor. I found the finish to be lingering with a hint of welcome peat, a true zesty whisky. This dram is wicked good , well priced , beautifully bottled , and you won’t get zapped ! Rated a buzzing 8 on the snob scale and highly recommended.
Ardbeg Perpetuum- Welcome to the party ! This lusty dram is the celebration of 2 centuries of distilling excellence and know how. The folks at the helm of this Islay ship have launched a malt with all the subtlety of a live hand grenade. The vintage gold color and smoky nose let us know that no one has strayed far from the usual profile, thankfully. There is a briny sweetness and edgy vanilla which is driven home by the lofty 47.4 proof . This stuff packs a punch rivaling Mike Tyson. With Ardbeg , we are truly able to taste the grain , the peat , and the terroir of the the region and that makes it one of my favorite single malts . I really enjoyed the full bodied mouthfeel and the sultry nose , but was disappointed by the lack of an age statement. It is a young and spunky whisky that if over enjoyed, might make you think getting a neck tattoo is a valid idea. Not their best effort , but still and enjoyable 7.5 on the snob scale.
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 .
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.
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 .
Swig Hip Flasks- So as not to bore our loyal followers, we have branched out this month into a new category….Portability ! Our activity level has increased markedly over the last few weeks or so and this uber cool product could be your new best friend . It is impractical to pack your favorite single malt bottle while on an adventure so here is your solution. This beautifully crafted container will keep your liquid gold safe and impress your friends when you bring it out of your backpack. It holds enough to share and if you choose wisely, adds flair and style to your event. The company is based in the UK and offers many interesting options for the snob in all of us, engraving, leather, gift sets, harris tweed, go for the works ! This is truly a modern spin on artisan craftsmanship.
I can’t imagine a more appropriate gift for a whisky fan, a wise giver might even pre-fill the beauty. Check out the website and tell them the “Single Malt Snob” sent you. Oh, and mine is called the Harris Tweed Scot , which should not come as a surprise. Here is the website http://www.swigflasks.com , now get online before they run out, cheers TSMS
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…..
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.
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.
Auchentoshan 12 Triple Distilled It’s high time to up the ante on your sophistication in the arena of single malts. If you have ever seen a real distillery in the flesh, it appears at first glance to be a Rube Goldberg contraption crafted by a slightly tipsy metalworker. In fact however, the machinery is fairly simple and can yield some incredible results when manned by skilled hands. This triple distilled spirit is ‘over the moon’ smooth as a result of this multiple distilling treatment. I enjoyed its reddish hue and crisp meadow like flavor….fruit overtones and a tasty sweetness contribute to a lingering finish. It will look a bit pretentious on your shelf and appear more so if you pronounce it correctly. This singular malt will elevate your experience like few others, I rate it an 8.5 .
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.
Auchentoshan Classic- So my friend Charlie has this tradition whilst fly fishing….when you land a trout, you take a celebratory drink from the always present silver flask. Our subject scotch might just be the perfect streamside companion. Now Charlie favors Canadian whisky, clearly a character flaw, but right-minded folks would do well to consider this alternative. It’s lightly peated and malty with a distinctive oilyness ….which is a great combination. It’s an 80 proof bottle which should keep you from taking an unexpected downstream excursion. As a possible side benefit on a day when they are not biting…at least you are self contained. Scottishly inexpensive , but still the real (reel…) deal, I rate this one a 7, oh, and always catch and release.
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 .
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.
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