Monday, November 29, 2021

Kavalan Whisky Distillery Select Single Malt Review & Tasting Notes


When we think of all the whisky-making regions in the world, places such as the United States, Canada, Scotland, and Ireland come to mind. If we look to Asia, Japan and India ring some bells. But, unless you’re a fan, you probably know the name Kavalan but would still struggle to cite Taiwan as a whisky-making country.


Taiwan is a subtropical island nation off the coast of China. It is whisky-friendly for sure. That heat and humidity lead to a shorter maturation process than many of its counterparts. On average, it experiences between 7% and 15% of angel’s share each year!


The King Car Kavalan Distillery was established in 2005 by King Car Food Industrial Co., Ltd. Yeah that sounds like a mouthful and boring to boot. I can tell you from a visit to China several years ago, those boring names are typical (side note:  I’ve mentioned China and I’ve mentioned Taiwan – I’m here to review whiskies, not opine on diplomatic disagreements.).

It only took nine months before the distillery was up-and-running and producing its first newmake in March 2016. Kavalan sources its water from springs from Snow Mountain and the Central Mountains. King Car is involved in several things, including the production of coffee for several decades, and brought that milling process to Kavalan. It double-distills its malted barley and ages its whisky in two five-story warehouses.


I’m sipping on Kavalan Distillery Select, which is made exclusively for the American market. It is a single malt whisky that is non-chill filtered and naturally colored. Kavalan suggests it is aged in malt-neutral casks. That’s a fancy way of saying the wood has been used enough times that there isn’t much of anything left to take from it as far as flavor is concerned. It carries no age statement, which means that to follow Taiwanese regulations, it must be at least two years old. Remember, due to the subtropical climate, that’s not a short period. It is bottled at 43% ABV (86°) and has a suggested retail price of $59.99. For the record, I snagged my bottle for $39.99 on a Black Friday sale.


Before I #DrinkCurious, I did learn that this particular whisky is made for mixing, although you’d have to get through the marketing speak on the box to figure it out:


“Versatile and super smooth, enjoyed in cocktails or neat, this whisky is a hugely satisfying experience to savor again and again.”


The only reason I was able to translate that is, as I conducted my background research, it was mentioned several times that it is meant to go in cocktails. I ask you to remember that as I talk about the tasting experience. Now, let’s get to it.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this whisky appeared a deep, dark caramel color.  It took a few swirls to form any sort of rim – once it did it remained thin. But, thick, long legs fell from it and dropped back to the pool.


Nose:  I smelled milk chocolate first. A second sniff showed me berries, honey, and apple. A third disclosed malt and leather. When I drew the air into my mouth, a soft kiss of vanilla danced on my tongue.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was creamy and airy at the same time. I know, I know, those descriptors should not happen but in this case, that’s what happened. At the front, butterscotch, vanilla, and caramel gave a sweet introduction. The middle offered toffee and cocoa powder. Then, on the back, flavors of nutmeg, allspice, and oak were followed by a blast of mocha.


Finish: It’ll fool you – it did me. It started short. A second sip doubled the length. The third made it last several minutes. Malt started the journey, followed by clove, toffee, and oak. Then it ended, except it didn’t. While pondering what the elements were, dark chocolate parked on my hard palate and after its monologue, faded away.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  A few things here… first of all, I don’t care what Kavalan says. Sure, use this for cocktails. If I didn’t know in advance that this was made for mixing, I’d not have been the wiser. I enjoyed every little bit of this single malt. There was nothing not to like, from the nose to the mouthfeel, the palate, and finish. For the price I paid, this is a stupidly-great whisky. Even at full price, I’d not even blink. The definitive Bottle rating if there ever was one. 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, November 26, 2021

Bourbon 30 Blue and Black Label Reviews & Tasting Notes


If you’ve been around the world of American whiskey for the last several years, you’ve likely heard the name Jeff Mattingly. Mattingly is a Georgetown, KY-based blender, and a respected one at that.


“Master Crafter Jeff Mattingly and his five brothers and sisters grew up farming 600 acres of Western Kentucky in a tiny, unincorporated community not-so-coincidentally called Mattingly. Mattingly’s father, holding the position of mayor for many years, was a fourth-generation farmer, and an Early Times drinker, something that was also a Mattingly tradition.

‘Bourbon 30. It’s that time,’ was the all-clear signal that Mayor Mattingly was occupied, thus making it a perfect opportunity for the boys to dip into dad’s stash in the cooler tied to the bed of the pickup truck. Whether Mayor Mattingly ever knew is still up for debate, but the brothers enjoyed the mischief and still enjoy the laughs over a glass of Bourbon 30 spirits.”Bourbon 30


Founded in 2010, Mattingly indicates he distills, ages, and crafts his whiskeys from Three Boys Farms Distillery out of Graefenburg, Kentucky. He also offers visitors a rather unique opportunity to choose their own barrels and create their own blends without having to purchase an entire barrel – it is sold a bottle at a time.

Today I’m reviewing two of his “core” offerings:  the 90° Blue Label and 100° Black Label. The mashbills and cooperages are undisclosed and both suggest they are “Barrel Crafted” which I’ll go out on a limb and say they’re simply a blend of barrels (but I’m willing to be wrong). I'd like to thank the Wisconsin distributor for providing me samples of both in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest reviews.


As I normally recommend people sample whiskeys low-proof to high, I’ll start with the Blue Label. It is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon that is “Proof Aged” and retails for $40.00.


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Blue Label was gold in color. A medium-thick rim was formed that left sticky droplets on the wall. After some time, they started to fall back into the pool.


Nose:  The first thing I smelled was corn. I also picked out honey, apple, pear, very light, toasted oak, and nutmeg. When I drew the air into my mouth, corn and vanilla rolled across my palate.


Palate: The mouthfeel was thin but coating. Vanilla and corn were highlighted on the front of my palate. The middle was also corn. On the back, things became more flavorful with caramel, toasted oak, and white pepper.


Finish:  Medium in length, it began with the caramel and orange peel before the white pepper took over, and then, boom, the whole thing fell off.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’ve heard about Mattingly’s amazing skills and have had a few of his special blends and they were pretty awesome. I wish I could say the same for the Blue Label, but it almost matches my opinion of Johnnie Walker Blue Label – it is nice but completely unremarkable. If you want a simple Bourbon, then Blue Label will work for you. But, for $40.00, there’s a lot on the shelf that will give you a much better bang for the buck. I’ll throw a Bar rating at it, it wasn’t bad, but it was boring.


Next is Black Label, which is listed as a Small Batch. The suggested retail is $60.00.



Appearance:  This, too, was poured neat in a Glencairn glass. It had a slightly darker gold color than the Blue Label with an added hint of amber. It created a thin rim that yielded medium-weighted legs that slowly worked their way back down the wall.


Nose:  Again, corn was the first aroma to hit me. This time, it seemed dustier than the Blue Label. Vanilla wafted from the glass, which was accompanied by baking spice. When I pulled the vapor into my mouth, corn was the only thing I discerned.


Palate:  The mouthfeel on Black Label was nice and oily. It, too, coated my entire mouth. Honey, corn, and black pepper were on the front. The middle had more corn and cinnamon spice. The back was orange peel, a touch of dark fruit, clove, and charred oak.


Finish:  A blend of char, white pepper, and clove gave Black Label a long, intensifying finish that wouldn’t quit. As it began to fade, the char stuck around until the very end.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Black Label had more dimensions to it than the Blue. The nose was lacking, but my experience also tells unimpressive noses often lead to a good palate. Black Label stuck to the rule of thumb. I found the finish enticed me to keep sipping, and that’s a signal of a great pour. I’ll give Black Label a Bottle rating, this can compete with other similarly-priced bottles on the shelf. 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, November 24, 2021

Crown Royal DeLuxe Canadian Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

I have been a man on a mission for the last year. I’m determined to find a Canadian whisky that I could enjoy and recommend. So far I’ve come up empty, but I have a number of them in my whiskey library just waiting to be sampled.

I know there are a lot of fans of Canadian whisky, and in particular, Crown Royal. I’m prepared to take some flak with this review, as even my friend Lew Bryson, who I deeply respect, said earlier this week, that he enjoys Crown Royal with his Thanksgiving meal, and then tossed a friendly barb at anyone who hated it. His statement was the driver for me to taste and compose this review in time for Thanksgiving.


What is Crown Royal? Aside from being the standard-bearer of what Canadian whisky should be, it was established in 1939 as a means to commemorate the arrival of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth I, the first British monarchs to visit Canada. The blenders at Seagram's Waterloo distillery sampled some 600 different whiskies in an attempt to create the perfect representation. They managed to whittle it down to 50, and it is aged in a variety of cooperages, including new charred oak, vintage charred oak, and French oak.  


A fun fact is that from 1939 until 1964, you could not purchase Crown Royal outside of Canada. The final result has remained mostly unchanged by design. It was originally owned by Seagram’s and then sold off to Diageo in 2001. 


Some of the blends are single grain whiskies, some of it is a mix of grains. Regardless, all of the grains are sourced from Manitoba and surrounding provinces. It changes in a quest to keep consistency year-to-year, as grains change slightly each growing season. The whiskies are aged at least three years to comply with Canadian regulations. One of the components could qualify as Bourbon if it was made in the United States! Once matured and blended, it is packaged at 40% ABV (80°).  You can expect to pay about $32.99 for a 750ml bottle.


I’ve tried Crown Royal before, and I wasn’t a fan. However, it has also been several years since I’ve tried it. As many of us know, our palates tend to change over time, so I’m willing to #DrinkCurious and give Crown Royal another chance.


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, this whisky appeared as the color of golden straw. I have no idea if e150a has been added for coloring, but I’d suspect that’s not the case considering how light it is. It formed a medium rim which released a huge, wavy curtain that dropped back to the pool.


Nose:  Corn was the first thing I smelled, which was joined by caramel, barrel char, floral perfume, and acetone. Yeah, I remembered that acetone from the last time I tried it. When I drew the air into my mouth, a soft vanilla flavor rolled across my tongue.


Palate:  I found the mouthfeel to be silky with a medium weight. The front of my palate picked out corn and vanilla cream. Next up was a blend of brown sugar and rye spice. The back featured oak, nutmeg, and milk chocolate.


Finish:  Medium-long in length, what rounded out this whisky were pepper, dry oak, caramel, and milk chocolate.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The nose was not something I relished. If the acetone wasn’t there, it might have been decent. The palate was okay, as was the finish. The best part of Crown Royal is the mouthfeel. That’s not enough to garner a Bottle rating from me. In this instance, my coronation is a Bar.


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, November 22, 2021

Bird Dog 10 Year Very Small Batch Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


Bird Dog Whiskey. I'm sure you've seen their dozen or so flavored whiskeys on the shelf and wondered if they're any good. But, did you know they have a 10-Year Bourbon available?  I've seen it around, I've tasted it in the past, but each time I did, it was at Distill America and always toward the end of the night, which meant my palate was shot and couldn't be relied upon.

Bird Dog is owned by Western Spirits out of Bowling Green, Kentucky. Western Spirits owns three other whiskey brands:  Calumet Farm, Sam Houston, and Lexington. I have no information on who did their distilling prior to 2017, but that year they entered a joint venture (or contract distilling) agreement with Bardstown Bourbon Company.  Assuming 2017 is when Bardstown Bourbon Company started distilling, that's four years ago, which would mean that this ten-year expression was distilled by someone else.

I couldn't find any information regarding the mashbill, the cooperage, or even the distillery. That information is held close to Western Spirits' vest.  While I prefer transparency, I get it when some distillers hold back on any real information. But, the interesting thing is Bird Dog 10 appears nowhere on its website. I checked out Western Spirits as well. Nada. This could mean it has been discontinued, and for the number of shops that show it "Out of Stock," that's likely the case. 

"We craft our award-winning Kentucky bourbon, using the traditional process, with extreme care for quality and consistency. Our bourbon is barrel-aged in small batches - the way bourbon is supposed to be. These Kentucky straight bourbons stand on their own as a premium spirit and provide an irresistibly smooth finish with a depth and complexity perfectly suited for easy sippin’." - Bird Dog Whiskey

So, here's what we do know. It is from somewhere in Kentucky and aged at least ten years in someone's rickhouse before being hand-selected for quality and then blended in an extremely small batch, whatever that means (there is no legal definition of small batch, and an extremely small batch could be one barrel or a few hundred or more). It is packaged at 90° and it will set you back about $56.99.

I picked up a 50ml taster during my recent travels and had a chance to #DrinkCurious. Here we go...

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Bird Dog 10 was orange-amber in color. It formed a thick rim and slow, fat legs that crawled to the pool of whiskey.

Nose:  My schnozz picked up oak, sawdust, mint, field corn, and vanilla. When I inhaled through my open mouth, I experienced a strangely bitter lemon zest. Lemon isn't supposed to be bitter. Somehow, this was, and that was off-putting.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was oily and thin. Despite sitting for about 30 minutes before I went to sip it, I was treated to an ethanol blast on the front, married with cinnamon and oak. The middle was musty corn. The back offered flavors of rye spice, cinnamon Red Hots, and dry oak.

Finish: Thankfully, it was short. That's about the nicest thing I can say about it. Cinnamon, cocoa powder and very dry oak sucked whatever moisture might have been in my mouth.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I try very hard not to be cruel. However, at some point, there is a need to stress just how bad something is. While the goal may have been to curate the creme-de-la-creme of Kentucky Bourbon barrels, I can't help but wonder if Western Spirits was shopping the clearance section of the distiller's warehouse. I have nothing positive to say about Bird Dog 10 Year. Lord knows I tried.  Simply put, this was just offensive. If there was ever anything worthy of a Bust rating, Bird Dog 10 would be the poster child.

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, November 20, 2021

Backbone Bourbon "Sweet Dreams" Speakeasy_WI Review & Tasting Notes


I take part in most of the barrel picks for The Speakeasy_WI, a club I’m a member of. In the case of the one I’m writing about today, I was not on the selection committee due to a whiskey tasting I was hosting.  I did, however, have an opportunity to taste the winning barrel after it was selected, and it has recently dropped at Neil’s Liquors in Middleton, Wisconsin.  It was selected this past August and is priced at $59.99.


I’m talking about a Backbone Bourbon pick called Sweet Dreams. If you’re unfamiliar with Backbone, it tends to pull some incredible MGP-sourced barrels of Bourbon and Rye. The Ryes are branded as Bone Snapper.


Sweet Dreams was distilled from a mash of 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley. That, in turn, was barreled on March 5, 2015, and aged six-and-a-half years in #3 charred oak barrels.  Dumped in October, it weighs in at a healthy 110.6°.



How did the selection crew do?  Let’s #DrinkCurious and find out!


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Sweet Dreams took the stage of deep, dark mahogany. It created a thin rim and very fat, slow legs that crawled back down to the pool.


Nose:  The first aroma to hit my nostrils was cherry pie filling. It was joined by toasted oak, a hint of vanilla, and plum. As I inhaled through my mouth, I tasted cinnamon and plum.


Palate:  Sweet Dreams had the consistency of an out-of-control oil slick. It was shockingly not warm considering the proof:  If I didn’t know what it was upfront, I would have guessed this was somewhere around 94° or 96°. The front featured cherry and plum, while the middle offered rye spice and brown sugar. On the back, I tasted thick mocha and oak.


Finish:  I found this finish did numb my hard palate, but sneakily because it was so luxurious it lulled you into a daydream. Toasted oak, cherry, plum, cinnamon, and chocolate stuck just meshed perfectly while it all hung around for a medium finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  When I first tasted Sweet Dreams, my initial thoughts revolved around how stunning this whiskey was. When I take into account it is only $59.99, I believe you’d have to be insane to pass this one up. Bottle for sure, all day long. Good job, crew! 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, November 19, 2021

Octomore 12 is Here!


Octomore 12 is here! Not since Octomore 4.2 “Comus” has the x.2 expression been available at traditional retail outlets. However, 12.2 is hitting store shelves now. If you’re not familiar with 12.2, it is a wine-cask finished expression of this super-heavily peated Islay Scotch.


It has been a true honor to be part of such a great team – known as “The Octomore 12” as we put together this year’s Insider’s Guide for Bruichladdich. Four of us, including me, The Scotch NoobWhisky Monster, and Barrel Raised, put together the chapter on Octomore 12.2. The rest of the team, consisting of The Scotch GirlMarvel at WhiskyWhiskey LoreThe Whiskey JugDram DudeThe ScotchtressThe Charred Cask, and Whisky A Go Girl, handled their own respective chapters, and you can read all about this year’s Octomore on its website. Cheers!


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.  Must be 21+ to enjoy. This was sponsored content.


Barrell Bourbon Batch 031 Review & Tasting Notes


I’ve had the opportunity to review several whiskeys from Barrell Craft Spirits. Most of them have been enjoyable with a few exceptions.


If you’re unfamiliar with Barrell Craft Spirits (or BCS), it is a Non-Distilling Producer (NDP) out of Louisville, Kentucky that sources barrels from various distilleries from around the world, and then blend them into something special. And, BCS knows what it is doing. What it offers isn’t inexpensive (usually retailing about $90 or so), but is also far less than several other blenders that crank up the price well into three figures. It has an entry-level brand called Stellum Spirits.


“We’re progressive in our ideas about blending, but traditionalists when it comes to the identity of bourbon. We never add any coloring, flavoring, or water. Instead, we release all of our limited-edition bourbons totally pure, without chill filtration and at barrel strength to replicate the incredible experience of drinking directly from the cask.” – Barrell Craft Spirits


Today I’m sipping on Bourbon Batch 031. It is a blend of Bourbons from three states:  Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. As such, we’re looking at MGP, (likely) Jim Beam, and George Dickel.  These straight Bourbons are 6, 7, 10, 15, and 16 years old. There is a bit of 99% corn Bourbon, a smidge of wheated Bourbon, and the rest of traditional recipes. Like everything BCS, it is bottled at barrel strength which, in this case, is 111.2° (55.6% ABV). You can expect to pay about $89.99 for a 750ml package.


Before I #DrinkCurious, I’d like to thank BCS for providing me a sample of Batch 031 in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. 


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Batch 031 was deep amber. It created a thinner rim that generated long, slow legs that crawled back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  A complex nose of orange peel, apple, date, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and oak forced me to keep sniffing the inside of my glass. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, a vanilla-peppermint combination rolled across my tongue.


Palate:  The texture was thick, creamy, and full-bodied. On the front of my palate, I tasted berry, plum, orange zest, and rye spice. The middle featured ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and caramel. Then, on the back, I experienced cola, marshmallow frosting, dry oak, and black pepper.


Finish:  This was one of those Energizer Bunny finishes. It was sweet with marshmallow frosting and plum transitioned with cola before becoming spicy with dry oak, ginger spice, allspice, dry oak, and black pepper. It left a sizzle on my tongue without hitting my hard palate.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Batch 031 had one of the most complex noses I’ve experienced. It took me many minutes to discern everything. The mouthfeel was lovely, which led to a fruity, spicy, sweet palate and finish. I really liked this one, and the price is an easy one to swallow. I am happy to convey my 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.


Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Glen Moray The Classic Single Malt Collection Review & Tasting Notes

Glen Moray is one of those brands often found on the bottom shelf of a liquor store. That in itself can be off-putting to some and instead gravitate to prettier labels and more impressive price tags. Glen Moray screams out to me as something that needs to be tested to see if it can be crowned with my coveted #RespectTheBottomShelf label.


This Speyside distillery has a storied history. It began as the Elgin West Brewery, until 1897 when its first spirits still was installed. On September 13, 1897, the distillery filled its first barrel with a 100% locally-grown barley distillate.  World War I became reality, and the distillery was mothballed until 1923. It was purchased by Macdonald & Muir, the company that eventually became Glenmorangie.


In the 1950s, it purchased the Gallowcrook Farm, which was the farm that grew the barley that went into that first batch of Glen Moray. It also invested heavily in expanding the distillery and warehouses to increase production. Then, in 1999, it became one of the earliest Scottish distilleries to finish whiskies in wine barrels – specifically Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc casks.


In 2008, Glenmorangie sold Glen Moray to La Martiniquaise, which remains its current owner. In 2014, it launched the Classic Collection and shortly thereafter was the first in Scotland to finish whisky in Cabernet Sauvignon casks.


I’ve had an opportunity to try four of the whiskies from the Classic Collection:  The Classic Single Malt, Classic Sherry Cask Finish, Classic Cabernet Sauvignon Cask Finish, and Classic Port Cask Finish.


Before I #DrinkCurious, I’d like to thank Glen Moray for providing me samples of each in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.


Classic Single Malt


First up is The Classic Single Malt. This one is 40% ABV (80°) and carries no age statement, and was aged completely in former Bourbon barrels. There is no indication if there is any e150a coloring added or if it is chill-filtered. You can expect to pay about $27.99 for a 750ml bottle.


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, this Scotch was the color of pale gold. I can’t see this one having any caramel coloring to it, or if it does, it doesn’t show. It formed a thinner rim that offered medium-weighted, long legs that fell back to the pool.


Nose:  The aromas were sweet and fruity, which is almost expected for a Speyside whisky. Melon, grapefruit, green apple, vanilla, and malt competed for attention. As I drew the air into my mouth, that melon defined itself as honeydew.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was buttery with a medium body. The front was fruity with apple, grapefruit, and lime zest. The middle featured English toffee and honeysuckle, while the back had flavors of almond, vanilla, and toasted oak.


Finish:  Short and unassuming, the finish was made of caramel, vanilla cream, toffee, grapefruit, and lime. There was no astringent quality, everything was crisp and flavorful.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The Classic was nice and simple. There wasn’t a ton of depth to it, and in this case, that’s fine. This is such an easy-to-drink whisky that could be something to savor on a hot, summer’s day. I would highly recommend this for someone who has heard all of the distasteful things that a Scotch can be because this has none of that. When I take the price into account, this becomes very attractive, and as such, takes my Bottle rating.


Classic Sherry Cask Finish


The Classic Sherry Cask Finish is The Classic that has been finished for a handful of months in Oloroso sherry casks from Jerez, Spain. It still weighs in at 40% ABV (80°) and states nothing about e150a, chill filtration, or age. This is understandably priced higher at about $36.99.


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, this sherry expression was brassier in color. It formed a very thick rim that led to watery, fast legs.


Nose:  Raisin, apricot, citrus, and melon gave this Scotch a fruity nose, which is expected with a sherry finish. Nutmeg and oak were also present. When I inhaled the vapor through my lips, the raisin became more identifiable as a golden varietal.


Palate:  I found the mouthfeel to be thinner than the Elgin Classic, but still retained the buttery quality. The front of the palate featured dark chocolate, apricot, raisin, and green apple. It was different to have the chocolate dominate the fruit with a sherry finish. The middle offered honeysuckle and grass. On the back, I tasted oak, nutmeg, and molasses. 


Finish: The finish was a mile longer than the original. I discovered vanilla, apricot, nutmeg, oak, and, rounding things out, dark chocolate.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’m a fan of sherry bombs, and while I liked this pour, I wish it spent more time in the sherry casks (that or bottled at 43%). I found the potential was slightly diminished. Like The Classic, this went down easily, there was nothing to offend an inexperienced Scotch drinker. It should be noted that $35.00 would take it out of the bottom-shelf category of Scotches. I liked this Scotch and I’m giving this one a Bottle rating.


Classic Cabernet Sauvignon Cask Finish


The Classic Cabernet Sauvignon Cask Finish is, again, the same as The Classic, but this time finished for an undisclosed number of months in former Cabernet Sauvignon casks. As discussed in the introduction, Glen Moray was the first Scotch distillery to utilize these casks for finishing. It, too, is bottled at 40% ABV (80°) and carries no age statement. A 750ml package will cost about $27.99.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this whisky presented as brassy-gold, a few shades darker than the Sherry Cask Finish. A medium-to-heavy rim was followed by slow, sticky legs.


Nose:  An aroma of raw honey softened to blueberry, plum, and green apple. When I breathed the vapor into my mouth, that honey was easy to identify.


Palate:  I found the mouthfeel to be thin and oily. The palate started as vanilla and honey, which was followed by blueberry pie filling. The middle held only honey, while the back offered flavors of charred oak, very dark chocolate, and clove.


Finish: The clove continued through the entire finish. Dark chocolate, blueberry, and oak appeared midway. As far as duration is concerned, it was short-to-medium, and I found it a bit dry.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’ve had some cabernet sauvignon finished whiskies before, they’ve all been American, and I enjoyed them. With a Scotch, I’m questioning that. Mind you, I’m a huge fan of chocolate, blueberry, and clove. But, for whatever reason, this whisky did not wow me. I don’t think it is bad, it just seems disjointed. I’m conferring my Bar rating on it.


Classic Port Cask Finish


Port-finished Scotches seem to be all the rage now. Port is a fortified wine that must come from the Douro Valley region of Portugal. That’s not to say that there aren’t port-like wines from outside of Portugal, rather, they just can’t legally be called “Port.” The Classic is finished a few months in casks from Porto Cruz, which is one of the most sought-after Port wines. It carries no age statement, and like the others, is bottled at 40% ABV. You can expect to pay about $27.99 for a 750ml bottle.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this whisky was the color of a new copper penny. A thin rim resulted in medium-weighted legs that dropped slowly to the pool.


Nose:  The Port influence was obvious, with an aroma of fig, date, plum, raisin, and oak. When I inhaled it through my lips, fig and raisin kept coming.


Palate:  An oily, thin mouthfeel led to a fruity, dry palate. It began with date, raisin, and lemon zest. Next up were caramel, chocolate, and leather. The back featured tobacco, oak, vanilla, and powdered cinnamon.


Finish:  Leather and dark chocolate continued into the finish, which was joined with date, plum, and raisin. Leather continued past everything else until a brief kiss of cranberry came from nowhere and vanished. The entire finish had a medium duration that I wished lasted longer.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This is a $28.00 Scotch? For real? The only thing I could complain about is the length of the finish. I loved the Port Finish. This one takes a Bottle rating all day long! 



Final Thoughts:  Overall, I enjoyed these budget Scotch whiskies. What was interesting was the order I’d rank them in, with the Cabernet Sauvignon Finish, which Glen Moray pioneered, as my least favorite. The one I enjoyed the best was the Port Cask Finish, followed by The Classic, and the third, the Sherry Cask Finish.

Glen Moray deserves respect. It has sure earned mine and grabbed my #RespectTheBottomShelf honor. 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.