Showing posts with label Lowland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lowland. Show all posts

Monday, May 22, 2023

Glenkinchie 2023 Distiller's Edition Single Malt Scotch Review


This is the fourth in a series of six reviews. The previous in the series can be found here.


The distilleries involved are what Diageo refers to as The Six Classic Malts and are comprised of Cragganmore, Dalwhinnie, Glenkinchie, Lagavulin, Oban, and Talisker. Each takes part in the DE program. Today, we’ll explore the 2023 Glenkinchie Distiller’s Edition.


“Glenkinchie is just fifteen miles from the capital, earning it the title ‘The Edinburgh Malt.’ But it’s strange to think of that dark and distinguished city when you see fields of barley or the green Lammermuir Hills rolling north towards the Firth of Forth. Stranger still when you taste the subtle, floral flavour of this rare Lowland survivor.” - Diageo


If you’ve ever tried Johnnie Walker, then you’ve had Glenkinchie. It is one of four Diageo distilleries found in each Johnnie Walker expression, the other three being Cardhu, Clynelish, and Caol Ila.


Glenkinchie was founded in 1837 by brothers John and George Rate in East Lothian. There is some dispute over the exact date, as record-keeping was imperfect, and the brothers had founded a distillery called  Milton in 1825. Some claim the Milton and Glenkinchie distilleries to have been the same. In contrast, others suggest these were in two different locations. Other factors, such as extensive illegal operations in the area, contribute to the uncertainty.


In 1853, the brothers went bankrupt, and the distillery became a sawmill. Just shy of three decades later, the mill was mothballed, and a group of investors led by Major James Grey restored and expanded the distillery and reboot operations. Whisky flowed freely, and in 1914, Glenkinchie formed an alliance with three other Lowland distilleries: Rosebank, St. Magdalene, Grange, and Clydesdale. They called it Scottish Mark Distillers. In 1925, the group merged with Distillers Company Limited, which eventually became Diageo. However, it wasn’t until 1998 that Glenkinchie became a single malt Scotch brand!


Glenkinchie sources water from Lammermuir Hills Spring and utilizes lightly-peated barley for its distillate. Its core offering is Glenkinchie 12-Year, packaged at 43% ABV (86°). The Distiller’s Edition adds a second maturation in Amontillado-seasoned American oak casks and a suggested price of $85.00.


Amontillado is a darker, dry sherry made from Palomino grapes and originates from the Montilla-Moriles region of Spain. It is aged at least two years and typically offers a nutty flavor.


I’m about to #DrinkCurious, but before I do, I must thank Diageo for providing me with a sample in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: I served this Scotch neat in a Glencairn glass. Its color was somewhere between sunflower yellow and topaz, continually morphing as I changed the angle of the glass. A bold rim formed massive, wavy tears.


Nose: The wine's influence was unmistakable as I poured it into my glass. It was as if I opened a bottle of white grape juice. Inside, I smelled citrus, honey, roasted nuts, and oak. I found apples and vanilla when I pulled the vapor through my lips.  


Palate: This whisky’s texture was creamy and relatively thick. Vanilla, toasted nuts, and dried apricots were on the front. The middle featured honey, white grapes, and bananas. I experienced oak tannins, lightly-smoked peat, and orange peel on the back.   


Finish: Dark chocolate and roasted nuts competed with smoky peat and oak. The oak was the last to fade; overall, it was a medium-long duration.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: The 2023 Distiller’s Edition was my introduction to Glenkinchie’s single malt. I love Lowland whiskies; admittedly, the peat was not what I planned for. That’s fine; it was a lovely surprise. At the same time, I was expecting a far drier whisky based on the Amontillado maturation, and that didn’t materialize. However, this was very much an enjoyable pour. I prefer it was slightly less expensive, but that’s not enough to discount 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, May 10, 2023

Diageo 2023 Distiller's Edition Unboxing Video

Whiskey mail today consisted of the Diageo 2023 Distiller's Edition whiskies. Their presentation was beautiful, and we'll go through the unboxing together. Cheers!

Monday, July 11, 2022

Lochlea Distillery Sowing Edition "First Crop" Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

Last week, I spoke of (and reviewed) Lochlea Distillery’s inaugural whisky, First Release. I was impressed with how good it was, especially considering the risk Lochlea took with releasing its own distillate and not sourcing as many others do. First Release was a single malt using both first-fill Bourbon and PX-sherry casks.


The next project is called Sowing Edition. Sowing Edition is a springtime release, soon to be followed by Harvest Season (Summer), Fallow Edition (Fall), and Ploughing Edition (Winter). The goal is to feature the effects of different farming seasons to whisky drinkers.


“Sowing Edition is a perfect springtime whisky with green apple skins, pear drops and custard creams on the nose; vanilla sweetness, orchard fruits and hazelnuts on the palette with a final fruity sweetness lasting to the finish. Made from barley grown within sight of the distillery, Lochlea Whisky is an Ayrshire dram through and through.”John Campbell, Master Blender and Distillery Manager, Lochlea Distillery


Sowing Edition is a single malt aged for an undisclosed period in first-fill Maker’s Mark Bourbon barrels. While there is no age statement, Scottish regulations indicate a whisky must be aged at least three years to qualify as Scotch, and the distillery made its first distillate in 2018. As such, we know it is between three and four years.


Bottled at 48% ABV (96°), Sowing Edition “First Crop” is non-chill filtered and naturally colored. The suggested retail price is $69.99 for a 700ml package.


I must take a moment and thank Impex Beverages, the exclusive USA importer for Lochlea, for a sample of Sowing Season in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now it is time to #DrinkCurious and learn more.


Appearance: Poured neat into my Glencairn glass, Sowing Edition was the color of straw. A medium rim formed sticky droplets that clung to the wall.


Nose: The green apple that John Campbell mentioned is unmistakable. It raced to my nostrils. A dash of cinnamon paired nicely, followed by vanilla and toasted oak. Only the apple came through when I drew the air through my lips.


Palate:  A thin, oily mouthfeel offered even more green apple with pear and nutmeg on the front. The middle consisted of oatmeal, hazelnut, and mocha, and I tasted vanilla, toasted oak, and cinnamon spice on the back.


Finish: Long-lasting and slightly tannic, the finish offered cinnamon, clove, toasted oak, a touch of oatmeal, and a blast of vanilla.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Lowland Scotches aren’t known for bold flavors. And, yet, Lochlea defies that. Both Sowing Edtion and First Release featured those. Not only do I respect Lochlea for releasing its own distillate, but I was also pleased by what I was sipping. Lochlea has something special going on, and I’m happy to tip my hat and crown Sowing Edition with 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, July 6, 2022

Lochlea Distillery "First Release" Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

One of the newest distilleries in Scotland is located in Ayrshire. It was a former piggery, cattle barn, and a middery. I bet you’re wondering what a middery is. I had to look up the word. In nice terms, it is an agricultural refuse heap.


Mr. Robert Burns lived on this land for a decade, giving this distillery the unique ability to make that claim. Burns was tilling barley just as has been done for generations before and since. The land was purchased, repurposed, and a distillery was operational in 2018. They called it Lochlea Distillery.


“Initially led by the experience and expertise of distillery manager Malcolm Rennie, and now under the management of ex-Laphroaig Distillery Manager John Campbell. Having built up one of the top ten Scotch brands in the world over the past 27 years, John brings a wealth of knowledge and a burning ambition to help Lochlea fulfil its potential.”Lochlea Distilling Co.


This Lowland distillery grows its own barley; now, those first bottles of Scotch whisky have hit the market. The inaugural bottling is called, aptly enough, First Release. It is a single malt Scotch that’s non-chill filtered, naturally colored, and aged in first-fill Maker's Mark Bourbon barrels and Pedro Ximénez sherry casks for an undisclosed period (but math and Scottish law tell us it is between three and four years), and bottled at 46% ABV (92°). The suggested retail price is $69.99 for a 700ml package.


As this is the first liquid from this distillery, I have no idea what to expect. But, I typically love PX-cask Scotches. Let’s see (or taste) what they’ve done and #DrinkCurious. But, before I do, I want to thank Impex Beverages, the exclusive USA importer for Lochlea, for a sample of First Release in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. 


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, First Release presented as liquid gold. A bold rim glued itself to the wall, finally releasing long, wavy legs back to the pool.


Nose: Aromas of malt, brown sugar, apple, pear, citrus, nutmeg, and vanilla teased my nostrils. As I drew the air past my lips, my mouth experienced an explosion of thick, rich chocolate.


Palate: The texture was buttery, yet this whisky was not shy about announcing its proof. The tip of my tongue tingled. On a second sip, I tasted baked apple, cinnamon, and raisin on the front. Hazelnut, brown sugar, and orange peel formed the middle, while the back offered cocoa, oak, and clove flavors.


Finish: As things began to sew up, there was a dry cereal quality, almost like an oatmeal cookie. Wait, make that oatmeal raisin cookies. Then, dust cinnamon sugar across that oatmeal raisin cookie. Behind that baked goodness were clove, oak, and hazelnut, which stuck around for a medium-to-long finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Putting out an initial release of something non-sourced is risky. I’ve had several that did not turn out well. They tend to taste young. They’re typically overly-diluted to hide that young taste (and stretch profits). First Release is nothing like those whiskies. There was plenty of character, with both the Bourbon and sherry wood influences easily discernable. I loved the fruity spiciness (or was it spicy fruitiness?), and it is a well-crafted Scotch worth acquiring. Lochlea snags its first Bottle rating with First Release. 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, May 9, 2022

Glengoyne 10 Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


There are only a handful of distilleries out there that can claim to be truly unique. I’m not talking about the whisky; my point is the distillery itself. When discussing Scotch whisky, an inarguably different distillery is Glengoyne.


Founded in 1833 in Dumgoyne, the distillery is a divided one. Half of it, where the stills are located, is in Scotland’s Highland region. On the other hand, the warehouses are located in the Lowland region. The Highland Line, the border that divides the two, runs right through this distillery!


Forgetting geographical uniqueness, something special exists with its distillation process. Glengoyne is known for having the slowest stills in all of Scotland. Fermentation takes roughly 56 hours, and the stills keep the distillate in contact with copper longer with its boil bulbs. The distillery is one of a couple that still uses Golden Promise barley, a strain that is more difficult to grow, offers a small yield, yet is revered for its quality.


Another aspect is that Glengoyne uses no peat in its malting process. In the Highland region, even distilleries that don’t use peat to dry the barley have some minuscule amount of peat from the air, but Glengoyne’s ppm is at zero.


Glengoyne has run continuously since its opening. George Connell first owned it under the name Burnfoot Distillery, then sold it to the MacLelland family, who, in 1876, sold it to Lang Brothers. The Langs held it for 90 years, renamed the distillery Glengoyne in 1905, and later sold it to what is now Edrington Group. Edrington considered Glengoyne to be excess to its needs and, in 2003, Ian Macleod purchased it and has owned it ever since.


Glengoyne’s flagship expression is Glengoyne 10. Because of where the stills are located, it is considered a Highland Single Malt, made from that Golden Promise barley and aged at least a decade in a combination of former Bourbon barrels and European Sherry butts. The whisky is non-chill filtered, naturally colored, and packaged at 43% ABV (86°). I picked up my 750ml bottle for $37.99.


Did I do well with my purchase? The only way to know for sure is to #DrinkCurious.  


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Scotch was brassy gold. A medium-thick rim almost refused to give up anything, finally releasing slow, fat droplets that glued to the wall.


Nose: An aroma of apple cider flowed freely before I could even get the glass to my face. Raisin, apricot, honey, and almond were dead giveaways to the sherry cask influence. When I inhaled through my lips, the honey continued across my tongue.


Palate: A creamy, medium-bodied mouthfeel started things off. There was nothing that anyone could describe as “hot” about it. Apple, apricot, and honey were on the front, while cocoa powder and almonds formed the middle. The back consisted of oak, nutmeg, and dry hay.


Finish: Oak spice, nutmeg, dry hay, almond, and honey remained for a medium-length finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  There are summer days when I want to sit on my back deck and drink something light and refreshing. Glengoyne 10 is perfect for that occasion. Sans the peat-craver, there’s something here for any Scotch-lover: lots of fruity goodness, significant sherry influence, a touch of spice, a lovely texture, and even those who are price-conscious in this economy yet demand a quality pour. If you’ve not yet figured it out, Glengoyne 10 grabs my coveted Bottle rating and runs away with 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.


Monday, November 15, 2021

Johnnie Walker High Rye Blended Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


There are a few whiskies that, as soon as they are introduced, generate plenty of stern opinions before anyone has had a chance to taste one. When the press release came out a week or so ago announcing Johnnie Walker High Rye, it took a few minutes for people to start laughing, saying it was disgusting, strange, just a mixer, etc. I even read in a group I belong someone dismissed this as more Johnnie Walker garbage.


Let’s talk about a few things. First, Johnnie Walker, like anyone else, makes good stuff and not-so-good stuff. Most of its releases carry no age statement, and all are blends. Second, there are three types of Scotch drinkers: those who refuse to drink non-age-stated whisky, those who only drink single malts, and those who #DrinkCurious.  As you’re well aware, I’m in that last category.


Let’s break that down a bit. Blending whisky is an art form. Just like any other kind of art, you have skilled artists and those who are less so. The goal of a master blender is to start with the result and then figure out how to get there. The goal of a lesser-blender is to take mediocre whisky and figure out how to salvage it.


Then, there’s the other half of the equation – the age statement. Age is simply a number that represents the youngest whisky in any marriage of barrels – in theory. As an example, you can have a 12-year Scotch that contains no 12-year Scotch in it, because everything in that batch was older. Or, it could have a small amount of 12-year and a huge amount of something older. And, it doesn’t matter if we’re talking single malt or blends. Moreover, a 12-year whisky can taste much better than a 15-year and vice-versa.


In my opinion, those who refuse to drink blends or anything without an age statement are cheating themselves out of amazing experiences. But, hey, that just means there is more for those of us who do!


Getting back to Johnnie Walker High Rye, it begins with whiskies sourced from Cardhu (Speyside), Cameronbridge (Lowland, and the oldest grain distillery in Scotland), Teaninich (Highland), Caol Ila (Islay), Clynelish (Highland), and Glenkinchie (Lowland) distilleries. Sixty percent of the mashbill is rye, which I am assuming is from Cameronbridge, as is likely the wheat component. The remaining ingredient is malted barley. As you can discern from my rant above, it carries no age statement. It is bottled at 45% ABV (90°) and I paid $25.00 for a 750ml bottle, making this an excellent opportunity to #RespectTheBottomShelf.


“A mastery of blending to create a bold, new offering. It tempts palates with a revolutionary taste profile that can only be born from the powerful blend of key Johnnie Walker Black Label tasting notes and rye whisky flavors.” - Diageo


Did I do well with my purchase? Let’s find out!


Appearance:  There is orange and then there is amber. Served neat in my Glencairn glass, this appeared orange in color. It formed a medium-thick rim that produced long, heavy, wavy legs that fell back to the pool.


Nose:  I could have been in a Jewish bakery that just took fresh rye bread out of the oven. Then, there was warm butter. Next, aromas of thick caramel, nutmeg, cantaloupe, and toasted oak made me excited to take the first sip. When I pulled air into my mouth, it was straight apple pie filling.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was creamy and full-bodied. That apple pie thing continued with green apple, vanilla cream, and brown sugar on the front. As it hit the middle, the brown sugar morphed to caramel, which then morphed again to English toffee. I also tasted saltwater taffy. The back featured nutmeg, oak, clove, and a puff of smoke.


Finish:  Things began short, but the more I sipped, the longer it lasted. Cinnamon spice, allspice, and clove were married to tobacco and a kiss of sweet peat.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Johnnie Walker High Rye may be one of the best bottom-shelf Scotches I’ve tried. The whole rye/barley/wheat thing worked beautifully. Nothing overpowered, it was surprisingly complex, and I’d gladly pay twice the price without blinking. Yes, this one snags 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.


Friday, May 21, 2021

Compass Box Asyla Blended Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

Scotch is a wonderful category of whiskey. You have distinctive regions that, while there are exceptions, give you a few qualities to expect depending on where they're distilled. The Lowlands offers whiskeys generally light and floral. With Islay, you can usually rely on peat. Speyside, the largest per capita region is very diverse, but you can count on sweet and rich whiskeys. Campbeltown suggests briny, smokey choices. The Highlands is probably the most challenging to pin down, as the region is incredibly vast, consisting of islands, grasslands, and mountains. You can find peated, fruity, floral, and everything across the spectrum.

There are Scotch drinkers who will only drink single malts and simply do not consider blends. My whiskey philosophy has always been to #DrinkCurious and I believe anyone who limits what they drink does themselves no favors. Single malts are easy, and not all single malts are great or even good - just like any other whiskey category. And, while there are some poor blends, there are some purely amazing representations, with everything in between. A blend is when a distiller wants to arrive at a finish point and has to map the way there. I describe it as an art form.

Today I'm reviewing Compass Box's Asyla, which is (as you can guess) a blended Scotch. By a blended Scotch (different than blended malt or blended grain), it means it is distilled of both malted barley and grains.  One of the things I always give props to Compass Box for is its transparency. Compass Box has no issues telling you where they source from and what the makeup of each whiskey is. 

Asyla is blended from four different distilleries:  Cameronbridge (Lowland), Glen Elgin (Speyside), Teaninich (Highland), and Linkwood (Speyside). Cameronbridge is 50% of the blend and the only grain content. It was aged in first-fill ex-Bourbon barrels.  Glen Elgin, on the other hand, is the smallest component, with only 5%, and used refilled hogsheads. Teaninich was 23% using first-fill ex-Bourbon barrels, and Linkwood the remaining 22%, also using first-fill ex-Bourbon barrels. It is non-chill filtered, naturally-colored, and bottled at 40% ABV.  Retail for a 750ml is approximately $49.99.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Asyla presents as very light, almost like straw or hay. It left a very thin rim on the wall that generated fast, thick legs to drop back to the pool of liquid sunshine. 

Nose: Very fruity aromas consisting of peach, honey, and apple permeated my nostrils. When I inhaled through my lips, it was a combination of big, strong apple and vanilla. 

Palate:  The mouthfeel was airy and delicate. As it flowed across my palate, the front was a marriage of apple and citrus flavors.  Then, at mid-palate, it became grassy and earthy. But, try as I might, I could not find anything on the back. It was so muted there was just nothing to discern.

Finish:  All of this led to the finish which, despite the lack of anything on the back, was longer than I anticipated. It was all pepper and oak, most likely from the Bourbon barrels.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Compass Box whiskeys are a mixed bag. Some are priced well into triple digits, others are very affordable. Some are excellent, others not so much. I have high regard for it, though, and a willingness to stick its neck out there and experiment. So, where does Asyla fall on this range?  Somewhere in the middle. It is a decent bargain Scotch and very uncomplicated, but due to the muting on the palate, this may not be for everyone. I was happy to taste it but wouldn't buy it myself. As such, Asyla earns a Bar rating. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System:

  • Bottle = Buy it
  • Bar = Try it first
  • Bust = Leave it 

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

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Auchentoshan "The Bartender's Malt" Lowland Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

If you don't like peat and you don't like "band-aid" flavors, there are still plenty of options for drinking Scotch. Auchentoshan "The Bartender's Malt" has neither of those qualities, read my review at Bourbon & Banter to see if this affordable Scotch is right for you. Cheers!