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 .