Friday, June 24, 2022

The GlenDronach Cask Cask Strength Batch 10 Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

One of Scotland’s oldest legal distilleries is in the Valley of the Forgue. In 1826, The GlenDronach was founded by James Allardice,  and about 45 years later, it was the largest duty-paying distillery in the Scottish Highlands. Fast-forward to 1996, and The GlenDroanch was mothballed until 2002.


The GlenDronach was one of the last distilleries to utilize coal-fired stills, and in 2005, it was converted to steam heating. Then, in 2016, Brown-Forman purchased the distillery, along with Glenglassaugh and BenRiach, forming the company’s Scotch whisky footprint.


The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 10 is a Highland Single Malt aged in both Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks. It is non-chill filtered, naturally colored, and carries no age statement. You’ll find a 750ml package for about $99.99 and available across the United States.


“The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 10 is incredibly rich and full-bodied with the full depth of sherry cask maturation at its heart. Presented at natural cask strength, it offers a cornucopia of flavor, from richly spiced fruitcake to dark cherry and ginger jam. The limited release showcases the distillery’s crafting the most exceptional, richly sherried Single Malts, representative of The GlenDronach’s rare dedication to its craft, embodied in every expression.”Dr. Rachel Barrie, Master Blender


I’m ready to #DrinkCurious, but before I do, I thank The GlenDronach for a sample of this Scotch in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Highland Scotch presented as burnt umber. A medium-weight rim created no legs; instead, it was tiny droplets glued to the wall.


Nose: Have you ever had an excellent rum-soaked fruitcake? Not the garbage passed around from family member to family member as if it was a white elephant gift, but the stuff you fight over and eat immediately. My memory was triggered as I smelled what was inside the glass. I also found apricot, citrus, nougat, and leather. When I drew the air past my lips, the rummy part of the fruitcake was more pronounced.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was silky and full-bodied. Raisin, cherry, and peach exploded in the front of my mouth, while roasted almond, orange peel, and mocha formed the middle. The back offered old leather, oak tannin, and ginger.


Finish:  My mind did a double-take at this point. Wasn’t this over 117°? You’d never know it because there was no burn in my mouth or throat whatsoever. Instead, there was a caress of raisin, cherry, honey, ginger, and oak. It was lengthy and left me with a smile.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Sure, there’s no age statement, but who cares? This is a cask-strength sherry bomb of a Scotch that is affordable, approachable, and amazing. Nothing would cause me to second guess buying a Bottle. It would be well worth it. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.



Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Barrell Craft Spirits Gold Label Seagrass Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

In 2021, I named Barrell Seagrass the winner of my Best Blended Whisky Award.


“This is probably the most unusual whisky I’ve tried. It was sweet. It was spicy. It was earthy. The challenge became both exciting and a little frustrating. But, as I experienced the frustration, I caught myself smiling because the mystifying quality just worked for whatever reason.”  


Then, earlier this year, I tried the Gray Label Seagrass, made from 100% Canadian whisky aged at least 16 years. It was my first “win” for Canadian whisky. That’s important because I am not the biggest fan of the category. 

Now, Barrell Craft Spirits sent me a sample of its Gold Label Seagrass for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Whereas Gray Label was 16 years, Gold Label is 20 years. As you’d imagine, that comes at a price hike to $499.99 for a 750ml bottle.


“Gold Label Seagrass epitomizes our team’s expertise in global sourcing and blending, both in whiskey and finishing materials. This exceptional whiskey is remarkably flavorful, showcasing the best of the Seagrass profile in a whiskey that can only be made this complex and nuanced with time in the barrel.” – Joe Beatrice, Barrell Craft Spirits CEO and Founder


If you’re unfamiliar with Barrell Craft Spirits, that needs to change. Like anyone else, not everything is a home run, but much of it is. Barrell Craft Spirits locates whiskeys and rums from around the world, finds unusual cooperages, and creates only cask-strength offerings for the marketplace.


How does Gold Label Seagrass fare? The only way to know for sure is to #DrinkCurious, so let’s get that done right now.


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this version of Seagrass looked like burnished gold. A micro-thin rim was formed, and it vanished into a curtain that instantly crashed back to the pool.


Nose: A bold fruity aroma of apricot, raisin, pineapple and citrus hid hazelnut and burnt sugar beneath. When I pulled the air into my mouth, there was a combination of stewed peach and apricot.


Palate: I encountered an oily, medium-weight texture indicative of its stated proof. The front of my palate discovered pineapple, honey, and maple syrup, while the middle featured hazelnut, molasses, and a burst of lemon juice. The back had flavors of leather, rye spice, and black pepper.


Finish: It was as if this whisky had caught fire. Clove became some of the hottest cinnamon I’ve had yet. Leather was next, and it all ended with apricot and lemon peel.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Let’s get something out of the way. As I have always stated, this is a review site for the average whisky drinker. A $500.00 whisky is typically outside the budget for most. Gold Label Seagrass is no different. However, it is an impressive whisky, well worth drinking, and the only reason it is limited to its Bar rating is due to the price. Like the Gray Label Seagrass, this is an excellent example of what a Canadian whisky could be.


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.



Monday, June 20, 2022

Tinhorn Colorado Straight Blue Corn Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

A little over two years ago, I reviewed a Colorado Straight Bourbon called Cinder Dick. The little boy in me had a lot of fun with that whiskey’s name, but nothing was childish about how it performed.


Durango Craft Spirits has its second Bourbon hitting the market. This one is called Tinhorn. We learned what Cinder Dick meant: it is slang for a railroad detective. What’s a Tinhorn?


“Gambling was a popular form of entertainment for miners and railroaders who flocked to southwest Colorado in the latter part of the 19th century. Professional gamblers were able to make a living gambling and they found it particularly profitable to work in newly-formed mining towns. The term Tinhorn originated from a game of chuck-a-luck, where three dice were rolled down a chute onto a flat area known as the horn. The cone-shaped chute was usually made of leather, but the cheaper chutes used by some unscrupulous and unskilled gamblers were made of tin, hence the name Tinhorn Gambler.”Michael McCardell, co-owner of Durango Craft Spirits


Nowadays, the term implies a contemptible person who pretends to have money, influence, or abilities.


Tinhorn is a single barrel four-grain Bourbon. It is 65% non-GMO blue corn from the Ute Mountain Utes, 18% raw Colorado-grown Centennial white wheat, 8.5% raw Colorado-grown San Luis Valley rye, and 8.5% two-row malted barley from Colorado Malting Company. All grains come from within 100 miles of the distillery.


Durango Craft Spirits then mashed, distilled, and aged the concoction in new, #4-char 53-gallon white oak barrels for two years. It was bottled on-site at 94°, and a 750ml bottle costs about $62.00.


How’s Tinhorn taste? The only way to answer that is to #DrinkCurious, but before I do, I must thank Durango Craft Spirits for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s get to it!


Appearance: As a neat pour in my Glencairn glass, Tinhorn presented as chestnut with a thicker rim. A mix of sticky droplets and long, wavy legs hugged the wall.


Nose: An aroma of field corn flowed from the neck of my glass. Beneath it lay floral rye, caramel, vanilla, and charred oak. When I pulled the vapor into my mouth, vanilla and rye spice crawled across my tongue.


Palate:  The first sip was oily, and subsequent ones added additional weight. Kettle corn was the first flavor experienced, followed by vanilla and caramel. I found spiced nuts, cinnamon, and nutmeg as it moved to the middle. The back offered a blast of clove, leather, and charred oak.


Finish:  A very long, arid finish consisted of kettle corn, charred oak, old leather, and cinnamon Red Hots. When I say long, I’m considering several minutes.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’ve never before used kettle corn as a tasting note; it was the first thing I tasted. It was unmistakable. Tinhorn has a lot of bold flavors going for it and reminded me a lot of Cinder Dick (I still have that bottle because it was so unique). If I didn’t know what I know about Tinhorn, I’d have never guessed it was only two years old in standard cooperage – there’s nothing young about it. Finally, it is proofed correctly, likely the reason it doesn’t taste young. At $62.00, it may seem pricey for its stated age, but I don’t believe that you’d consider buyer’s remorse if you purchased a Bottle.  Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.



Friday, June 17, 2022

The BenRiach Cask Edition Single Cask Scotch Reviews & Tasting Notes


Dr. Rachel Barrie is a brilliant Master Blender. She holds that title at three different Brown-Forman distilleries: The GlenDronach, Glenglassaugh, and BenRiach. She is the first female Master Blender to earn an honorary doctorate; she is an inductee of Whisky Magazine’s “Hall of Fame.” In September 2020, she was named a Keeper of the Quaich.


This month, BenRiach released three of its first-ever single cask, single malt Scotch offerings exclusive to the US market. It is called The BenRiach Cask Edition.


“Our ‘sleeping beauties’, as we often call these casks, continue to be sourced from all over the world, enabling us to creatively explore the full flavor possibilities of Speyside Single Malt. Each cask will tell its own story of a journey of flavor where the spirit is married with oak, over years and through the seasons, to really create a unique moment in time never to be repeated again.” – Dr. Rachel Barrie


Today I have an opportunity, thanks to BenRiach, to #DrinkCurious and write a no-strings-attached, honest review of all three. They’re all naturally colored, non-chill filtered, and each has a very different cooperage.


Something new and different is the packaging. We’re used to 750ml bottles in the United States. With updated regulations, 700ml is now allowable for our market.


Let’s get to the first pour!


Cask #3812 – 12 Years


Cask #3812 was distilled in 2009 and spent a dozen years in a former Pedro Ximénez sherry puncheon. The yield was 642 bottles at its 58.2% cask strength (116.4°). You can expect to pay about $100 on one of 642 - 700ml bottles, which is limited in availability to CA, KY, OR, WA, GA, MA, and NY.


Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Cask #3812 appeared coppery and created a thin rim. Medium-weighted legs raced back to the pool.


Nose: A fragrance of apricot and raisin jumped from the glass while it was still resting on the table. Upon closer inspection, I found chocolate, caramel, and orange peel. The orange peel turned candied as I took that air into my mouth.


Palate: A silky, full-bodied texture greeted my tongue, captivating my interest. The front of my palate encountered milk chocolate, butterscotch, and honey, while the middle featured lemon and orange zest combined with raisin. On the back, I tasted leather, oak, and nuts.


Finish: The long-lasting finish kept leather, tobacco, dark chocolate, and oak in my mouth and throat.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Cask #3812 is a sip-and-smile whisky. That’s about the best description I can offer. Yeah, it is a 12-year with a $100 asking price. But, it is cask strength, yet doesn’t drink at that proof. It is a single barrel, (obviously) limited-edition Scotch. And, dammit, it is delicious. I’d pay $100 all day long for this; I just wish it was anywhere near my market. It is a Bottle rating for sure!




Cask #10297 – 23 Years


Cask #10297 delves into that much more rare territory, distilled back in 1997 and spent 23 years in a vintage Marsala wine cask. The yield was only 264 bottles spread around AZ, CO, DC, DE, FL, IL, MD, MN, NV, PA, SC, and WI. A 55.4% ABV (110.8°) – 700ml package will set you back about $330.00.


Appearance: A neat pour in my Glencairn glass showed this Scotch’s orange-amber appearance. A thinner rim released medium-thick, fast legs.


Nose: Floral notes were joined by fruits such as peach, cherry, and citrus. They were blended together with thick, dense vanilla. Inhaling through my mouth caused orange and vanilla to dance across my tongue.  


Palate: The mouthfeel was thick and creamy. Vanilla, strawberry, and cherry started things off, with orange zest and honey at mid-palate. The back consisted of dark chocolate, oak, and clove.


Finish:  Medium in duration, the finish featured flavors of cherry, strawberry, oak, and clove.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Cask #10297 was elegant and unique. The only thing I could complain about the tasting experience was that short finish. I kept sipping more as I wanted to retain those flavors in my mouth; they never stuck. The question becomes, would I pay $330.00 for this whisky? I’m not convinced. But, you should absolutely try this at a Bar if you can find it.




Cask #15058 – 24 Years


Finally, there’s Cask #15058. This single malt Scotch was distilled in 1997 and slept 24 years in an Oloroso puncheon. It weighs in at 55.4% (110.8°), and the yield was a surprising 641 – 700ml bottles. Availability is extremely limited to GA, MA, NY, and unnamed metropolitan areas around the country. If you see one, expect to shell out $388.00 for it.


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this whisky appeared as liquid caramel. Try as I might, I could not get a rim to form. It just kept collapsing into long, wavy tears.


Nose:  I started craving dessert when my olfactory sense ran into vanilla, caramel, cinnamon apple, Nutella, and oak. Cinnamon and vanilla tangoed in my mouth as I pulled the vapor inside.


Palate:  A slick, oily mouthfeel ponied up orange marmalade, apricot, and cinnamon apple on the front, with chocolate, hazelnut, and black currant at the middle. The back featured leather, tobacco, and caramel.


Finish:  The leather became very dry on the finish. Tobacco leaf, raisin, and oak were about to complete it when a non-peaty, smoky kiss closed things out.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Have you ever dreamt of sipping on a fine Scotch in your private study? Well, Cask #15058 fits that bill perfectly. It is a sultry, sophisticated pour that commands your full attention. Sure, it is a $380.00 investment, but you’ll bite the bullet and prove how smart you were to grab a Bottle.  


Final Thoughts:  It was so fun to try all three of these single cask Scotches. The 12-year is my favorite, partially because I’m a sucker for an excellent PX-cask whisky, and it is a heck of a value to boot. Next was the 24-year. It is, simply put, an experience. The third was the 23-year. It was a lovely pour; I couldn’t justify its outlay.


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.


Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Canmore 12 Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

Back in 1058, there was a Scottish king named Malcolm. He was referred to as “Great Chief,” or Canmore, by his people. He was bold and ambitious, constantly proving his strength and leadership while he sought to expand his territory. His reign was the first in a line of rulers that lasted about 200 years. The House of Canmore was well-respected, but the dynasty ended at the death of Alexander III and only because he had no heir.


Last week, I wrote about Charles Edge London and Scots Gold 12-Year Scotch. You can read more about Charles Edge in that review. Charles Edge London has another brand named in Malcolm’s honor: Canmore. There are two versions: Canmore and Canmore 12. Both are single malts; one is age-stated, and the other not. Today I’m exploring the latter.


Canmore 12 is sourced from an undisclosed Highland distillery and aged a dozen years in former Bourbon barrels. Packaged at 40% ABV (80°), you can expect to acquire a 750ml bottle for around $49.99. That’s about in line with many other 12-year single malts.


How’s Canmore 12 taste? The only way to answer that is to #DrinkCurious, but before I do, I must thank Charles Edge London for providing a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.  Let’s do this!


Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, this whisky was bronze. It formed a medium rim that glued itself to the wall, and only after some patience did it release slow, very slow, sticky droplets.


Nose:  Canmore was one of those whiskies that you can smell from across the room. I know this because Mrs. Whiskeyfellow said, “Wow, that’s fragrant,” yet I was sitting about six feet from her. Raisin, dried apricot, overripe apple, oak, and a mushroom cloud of orange peel rose from the glass. When I took the air into my mouth, it was still all orange peel.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was medium-bodied and offered an oily texture. The front of my palate found a mass of orange peel, raisin, and green grape, while the middle featured an earthy quality, joined by nutmeg and vanilla. Then, I tasted chocolate, cinnamon, and oak on the back.


Finish:  The duration was medium-to-long, with orange, cinnamon, nutmeg, oak, and rich fudge.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Canmore 12 is a decidedly different Scotch. I’ve had single malts that smell and taste of sherry without the use of any sherry casks. The orange notes dominated nearly everything except the finish. For whatever reason, the fudge at the very end cleansed the experience from that heavy orange citrus. While I enjoy orange, I had difficulty discerning the rest of what this whisky offered. I’d prefer it was less so, and because of that, I’m giving this Scotch a Bar rating. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.



Monday, June 13, 2022

Crossborder Jackpot Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes


Dave Schmier is no pigeon. If you’re unfamiliar with him, he’s one of the originals who sourced better barrels from MGP and bottled something special.  If you’ve heard of Redemption, that was his brand. He sold it in 2015. He’s since created Proof and Wood Ventures.  He runs a hot table. Of all the whiskeys from Proof and Wood that I’ve tasted, most have been not only good but excellent (for the record, he also does rum). There’s been an occasional tap-out, but the odds have been against that, except…


I am not a fan of Canadian whiskies. I’m trying; believe me, I am. I have been buying and trying Canadians to find something acceptable to my palate.


Crossborder Jackpot is two-thirds Canadian. The distilleries involved are undisclosed, but the mash of the Canadian blend is 97% corn, 2.7% rye, and 0.3% malted barley. The Canadian Rye is 91% rye and 9% malted barley. Both aged seven years in former Bourbon barrels.


The wild card in the blend is a typical 95/5 MGP American Rye recipe that rested seven years in new, charred oak. It is packaged at 107°. The idea here is that seven is a big deal.


A 750ml bottle requires a minimum bid of $74.99.


Dave is obviously going all in and hopes Crossborder Jackpot hits all lucky sevens. Is it a winner or a bad beat? Let’s get past what’s on the label, #DrinkCurious, and let the chips fall where they may. Proof and Wood sent me a sample and is familiar with the terms and conditions requiring a no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: The ante was a neat pour in my Glencairn glass. Crossborder Jackpot showed as dirty blonde. A thin rim formed that released massive tears, which crashed back into the pool.


Nose: If you hedged about this whisky’s rye content, it was confirmed by the floral notes exploding from my glass. Vanilla, toasted oak, mint, and cinnamon were easy to discern. When I pulled the air past my lips, minty vanilla rolled across my tongue.


Palate:  The texture was incredibly silky, but it was weighty at the same time. The front of my palate picked out vanilla, caramel, and red currant. The back doubled down on spice with rye, cinnamon, and clove. The middle? It was transitionary with sweet corn, nutmeg, and oak.  


Finish: Vanilla, toasted oak, cinnamon Red Hots, and an herbal flavor played the last hand. The Red Hots moved the duration from long to very long.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This whisky is certainly a gamble, at least for my palate. I enjoyed the way everything with this whiskey went from sweet to spicy. The mouthfeel was enticing. The palate offered fascinating flavors. I savored the long, spicy finish. In the case of Crossover Jackpot, the payoff is a Bottle rating. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.



Saturday, June 11, 2022

The Whiskeyfellow is Challenged on Discussion with the Pros Podcast!

On Thursday evening, I did something fun and challenging. I was interviewed on the Discussion With The Pros podcast.  Yeah, I know, that’s not a big deal; I’m on many podcasts.


What was different?


The hosts asked me to lead everyone through how I assess a whiskey, going over the appearance, nose, palate, and finish. There were three whiskeys, and I had to do a live review of each, including the Bottle, Bar, or Bust ranking.


I had never had any of the three whiskeys poured. There was a large audience. If you do not understand the big deal about this so far, I’ve not yet told you that two of those whiskeys' blenders were part of the audience!


This episode runs just shy of an hour. You can click here to watch and see if I did any good.


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.



Friday, June 10, 2022

Elijah Craig Straight Rye Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

I am, admittedly, an Elijah Craig fanboy. It is one of the better value Bourbons around, especially when you get into the single barrel program. I was defending the brand when Heaven Hill removed the age statement, and everyone was saying they’d never drink Elijah Craig again (without ever tasting the non-age-stated version).

Every so often, I run into something from Elijah Craig that leaves me less than impressed. One of the most disappointing buys I made was on the 18-year. I spent a few years looking for it, and it was underwhelming, especially considering the price (it was only $99.00 then). I say this to show that even favorite brands release a dud or two now and then.


If you’re unfamiliar with the background of this brand, Elijah Craig was a Baptist minister, a teacher, and a businessman who many people credit being the inventor of Bourbon by storing whiskey in new, charred oak barrels. There is also debate as to whether those barrels were new or used. I’ve heard versions of the story that talk about his charring the barrels to hide the flavors of whatever the barrel was originally storing. In truth, nobody knows who the inventor was and who used the first new, charred oak barrel – it may very well have been Craig – or not. Regardless, it makes a nice backstory.


Heaven Hill released Elijah Craig Straight Rye in October 2019 to much fanfare. It took a bit to make its way to Wisconsin liquor stores. The Rye shares the same barely-legal 51% rye, 35% corn, and 14% malted barley mashbill as Rittenhouse and Pikesville. It carries no age statement and falls in at $35.00, slightly more expensive than Rittenhouse and much less than Pikesville. Similar to the Bourbon, it is packaged at 94°.


The Rye has been said by some to be excellent and others to be okay. Despite my love for the Bourbon, I can stay unbiased as this is a different whiskey. Let’s #DrinkCurious and see if the brand has a winner.


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, the Rye was orange amber. A medium rim generated thick, crooked legs that fell back to the pool.


Nose: Cinnamon, star fruit, and cherry formed a sweeter aroma joined by toasted oak and black pepper. The familiar Elijah Craig oak flavor introduced itself when I inhaled through my lips.


Palate:  A thin, light-bodied texture greeted my tongue. With Rye, you expect there to be spice upfront. Strangely, corn was the first thing I tasted, with vanilla and caramel. At mid-palate, things became spicier, with nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove. The back featured pimento, rye spice, and black pepper.


Finish:  Sweet vanilla and caramel carried through to the end, along with rye spice and cinnamon Red Hots candy. The duration was medium to long, with the Red Hots rounding things out.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Elijah Craig Straight Rye is decent. I have to be honest, for $10.00 less, I believe Rittenhouse is a better value. It is the same mashbill at 100°, and I found it more flavorful. I don’t know that I would go out of my way to buy a bottle of the Elijah Craig version, and that's very hard for me to type. As such, I’m going to give it a Bar rating. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.



Wednesday, June 8, 2022

After Dark Premium Grain Spirit Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


I’ve written about Indian whiskies several times. One of the things I often mention is the lack of much regulation as far as what Indian whisky means. It could be a true single malt, it could be single grain, it could be fermented molasses, or neutral grain spirits (NGS). As far as Indian single malt is concerned, I’m a big fan for the most part.


One of the oldest Indian distilleries is Radico Khaitan Limited, founded in 1943 and used to be called Rampur Distillery.  It is also the largest manufacturer of Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL). As such, it does its own distilling, blending, and aging in Rampur.


While perusing the aisle of a random liquor store, I stumbled across After Dark, labeled as a Premium Grain Spirit Whisky.  I’ve had spirit whiskies before and have been relatively unimpressed. As it turns out, India’s definition of spirit whisky and America’s are not the same. America’s is very specific. India’s is more of a general whisky definition that deals with IMFL.


“After Dark is a promising brand in the fast growing premium segment in India. It is a drink to be savoured with friends. The night has different connotations for different people. It unfolds and brings a unique world of desire, adventure and excitement. In fact, it’s where the fun and action begins. After Dark Whisky was rewarded with the Silver Medal at the Monde Selection Quality Award, 2011.” – Radico Khaitan Limited


After Dark is one of the few IMFLs that contain no molasses or neutral spirits and is made from 100% grain whiskies. It is bottled at 40% ABV (80°), and you can procure a 750ml package or $19.99. I found a 50ml taster for about $0.99.


So, how does After Dark hold up against the other Indian whiskies I’ve tried? The only way to find out is to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, After Dark was gold in color. There is no indication this carries any e150a (or other) added colors. It created a thick rim that made even heavier legs that fell back to the pool.


Nose:  Clean linen was the first thing I smelled. Probably like you, I’ve never listed that as a note before, but that’s what was there. Muted caramel and floral qualities hid beneath. When I took the air into my mouth, that lighter caramel remained.


Palate:  The texture was soft and light-bodied. I tasted leather at the front of my palate, the middle featured honeysuckle, and the back combined clove and black pepper. There wasn’t much there from front to back.


Finish:  Very astringent and bitter, I was able to identify clove through it. It was, thankfully, short.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The finish overwhelmed anything that could have been positive in my experience. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of a medicinal quality. Chewing on a mouthful of Band-Aids is not something I relish. To be blunt, there wasn’t much to like about After Dark. Could it make a sound mixer? I suppose that depends on how much “and Coke” you want to add to it. After Dark takes a solid Bust rating. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.


Monday, June 6, 2022

Scots Gold 12 Years Blended Scotch Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

Some of my favorite people are those who claim they can only drink single malt Scotches. Some may call it snobbishness; others may see it as a refusal to explore the world around them. I love meeting these single malt-only fans because I relish a challenge.


I’ve conducted many blind tastings over the years using whiskies from all over the globe. When it comes to Scotch, I can be devious. I’ll pour a handful of single malts and toss in a couple of blends. I’ve yet to find a single-malt drinker who doesn’t walk away with a newfound appreciation of blends.  


You see, blending is an art form. To explain the difference in the crudest of terms, making a single malt is limited. You take malts from one distillery, age them, and can tinker with various barrels and play around with alternative proofs, but your creativity is limited to what’s on hand at that lone distillery.


Blended Scotches get a bad rap from blenders who take substandard whiskies and attempt to salvage them. However, a talented blender has a result in mind; the question becomes, How do I get there?  The availability of options is restricted only by the number of distilleries in Scotland. A blender can select only malts, only grains, or a combination of both.


One such blender is Charles Edge. He’s been in the business for decades. His company, Charles Edge London, specializes in blended whiskies. It has a handful of brands, one of which is Scots Gold.


“Scots Gold is a story born out of exploration. Founder Charles Edge spent over 30 years of travelling the world to find the best spirits for his clients but there was one place that stood out to him and that was Scotland.

Inspired by how its history, people and landscape all helped to create one of the greatest drinks of all time, Scotch. In 2015, Charles founded Charles Edge London, a spirits company with the focus to create Whisky & Spirit brands renowned for their outstanding quality. Scots Gold is its debut spirit.” – Scots Gold


Scots Gold sources grain whiskeys from the Lowland region, while the malted whiskies are mainly from the Highland and Speyside regions. Within this brand are two tiers. The entry-level option is Scots Gold Red Label, followed by Black Label. Neither carries an age statement. The next level is Scots Gold 8 Years, and the crème de la crème is Scots Gold 12 Years, which is the Scotch I’m reviewing today.


Charles selected 15 malts from around the two regions. Lowland grains were the other part of it. With the sheer number of distilleries in both Speyside and Highland, anyone can guess where the malts originated. We know those whiskies aged in former Bourbon casks for at least a dozen years. It weighs in at 40% ABV (80°), and a 750ml package should cost around $30.00, making it an affordable option.


Affordability is nice, but if what’s inside the bottle isn’t palatable, who cares what it costs? The only way to determine if this is a worthwhile budget Scotch is to #DrinkCurious. Before I get there, I must thank Charles Edge London for providing a sample in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this whisky presented as a brilliant gold. The liquid sunshine formed a medium rim that released a wavy curtain that crashed under its weight back to the pool.


Nose: The bouquet started with an orchard of apples, peaches, and apricots that hid a smidge of mushroom and a kiss of smoke. When I took that vapor into my mouth, it was as if I had taken a sip of apple cider.


Palate:  The creamy, medium-bodied texture introduced my palate to flavors of coconut, grapefruit, and caramel. As it moved to the middle, roasted almonds were mixed into coffee ice cream, and then, on the back, I tasted pink peppercorn, milk chocolate, and toasted oak.


Finish:  Medium in duration, the finish featured pink peppercorn, dry oak, and citrus notes.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This is genuinely a nice blended Scotch. It isn’t going to blow you away, but it doesn’t have to. It is such an easy sipper, and it does come with one caveat: it drinks over its stated proof. There’s no heat, but it is sneaky, and if you’re not careful, it’ll clobber you (it did me). I can’t say that about many 80° whiskies. I enjoyed the fruitiness and the mild spiciness, and Charles Edge conducted an orchestra from 15 malts, resulting in a Bottle rating and my #RespectTheBottomShelf designation. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.