Showing posts with label Scotland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scotland. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Glenmorangie A Tale of Winter Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

 


On the Glenmorangie campus, there exists a building called The Lighthouse. It is where Dr. Bill Lumsden hangs out, dreaming up new concoctions which eventually lead to something hitting store shelves. The Lighthouse is the experimental sector of the distillery. It is made of glass walls and overlooks the world outside.

 

If you’re unfamiliar with Glenmorangie, it is located in Scotland’s Highland region. Unofficially founded in 1703, it began as a brewery on the Tarlogie Spring. In 1843, two former gin stills were installed, and it changed from a brewery to a distillery named, aptly, Glenmorangie. The distillery shuttered between 1931 and 1936, then resurrected until 1941, when it closed again until 1944. In 1977, it added two more stills, then doubled in 1990 and again in 2002, bringing the total to an even dozen. Glenmorangie claims ownership of having the tallest stills in Scotland.

 

Last year, the distillery offered a limited edition single malt called A Tale of Cake.  This year, the limited edition release is called A Tale of Winter.

 

“Snowed in at home, our Director of Whisky Creation, Dr. Bill, began dreaming of this whisky. His goal was to capture the snug and magical feeling of sitting in front of the fireplace as snow blankets the world outside. In pursuit of rich, radiant taste and wintery aromas. He finished the 13-year old single malt in Marsala wine casks from Sicily.” - Glenmorangie

 

This single malt weighs in at 46% ABV (92°) after spending 13 years in first-fill Bourbon barrels before being dumped and transferred to former Marsala wine casks. You can expect to pay about $100.00 for a 750ml package, and that’s also what I paid at a local Wisconsin bottle shop.

 

How did Dr. Bill do? The only way to know for sure is to #DrinkCurious, so let’s get to it!

 

Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this whisky presented as a distinctive copper. A medium rim vanished instantly and gave way to a falling ruffled curtain.

 

Nose:  Very fruity; the nose began with aromas of apricot, raisin, plum, orange peel, and green grape. There was also vanilla and nutmeg. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, I could swear I took a bite of a Dreamsicle.

 

Palate:  The texture was oily and full-bodied. On the front, I tasted orange, honey, and thick fudge. The middle formed almost a transition with plum, dark cherry, and butterscotch. Then, it was spicy with ginger, cinnamon, clove, and oak on the back.

 

Finish:  Clove, ginger, oak, and rum-soaked fruitcake formed a soft finish that slowly built warmth, very much like that fruitcake. The buildup was slow until it hit its crescendo and then fell apart.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I can easily place myself in Dr. Bill’s shoes. A Tale of Winter is something you’ll want to enjoy in front of a warm fire, snuggled in a blanket, maybe even with a dog on your lap, while you’re watching a gentle snowfall. The sweetness of the Marsala wine shone through and made everything seem Christmassy. I can also see how some people will love this, and others won’t find it overly appealing. For me, I’m in the former category. I’d sip on this all day, given a chance. A Tale of Winter takes my Bottle rating, and I’m thrilled to have it in my whiskey library. 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.

 


Thursday, December 30, 2021

Octomore 12.3 Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


Transparency is important. If there’s a possible conflict of interest, you need to know about it. For the last two years, I’ve been part of a group of influencers selected to launch Octomore to the US market. Last year, it was series 11, this year, series 12. Bruichladdich compensated me to write content for the release of each. It also provided me with samples of 12.1, 12.2, and 12.3. Bruichladdich tasked me with putting together tasting notes for 12.2. That left me with samples of 12.1 and 12.3 to review above and beyond my now-completed assignment. You can read my review of 12.1 here, and today I’m sipping 12.3, and this is my final review of 2021.

 

If you’re curious about the numbering system, that’s pretty easy to explain. The first number refers to the series release number. In this case, it is 12, meaning the 12th release of Octomore. The other numbers are slightly less indicative:  x.1, x.2, x.3, and x.4. What do they mean?

 

  • The first is the standard for the release, the core whisky, if you will. It always starts with 100% Scottish barley and is typically aged in first-fill Bourbon casks.
  • The next, x.2, follows the same base as x.1 but is aged in some variation of European oak.
  • The third, x.3, is a single vintage, single field, single malt expression. It is 100% Islay malted barley grown on the Octomore farm. They’re typically aged in a combination of American and European oak.   
  • The last, x.4, is released every other year and matures in virgin oak or a combination of virgin and vintage oak. When x.4 is off-year, it is replaced by Octomore 10-Year.


For the 12th edition, 12.3 starts with a 2014 harvested crop of concerto barley from Church Field on Octomore farm, which was distilled in 2015. The PPM of phenol is 118.1. The distillate aged in first-fill Bourbon casks (75%) and first-fill Pedro Ximenez sherry butts.

 

Those sherry butts are essential. In this case, they came from the Fernando de Castilla bodega in Juarez. These are retired from its solera system, so you’re getting a real sherry influence versus a sherry seasoned one.

 

“THE DNA OF THIS SPIRIT AND THE UNIQUE SOUL OF THIS WHISKY IS OPEN FOR ALL TO SEE. TO HEAR THE STORY AND TO TASTE THE WHISKY IS TO IMMERSE YOURSELF IN A SINGLE VINTAGE FROM A SINGLE HARVEST, RAISED IN ONE FIELD.”Adam Hannett, Head Distiller

 

While 12.3 carries no age statement, it rested in its cooperage for five years. Once dumped, the only thing added was a quick splash of Octomore spring water. Nothing that would have even a negligible impact on proof. Octomore is naturally-colored and non-chill filtered. Bottled at 62.1% ABV (124.2°), you can expect to pay about $289.00 for a 750ml package. That is if you can find it.

 

Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Scotch appeared as brilliant gold. It formed a medium rim that created thick, speedy legs.

 

Nose:  I let this whisky sit in the glass for about 15 minutes before I approached it. At that time, the air in my whiskey library filled with sweet barbeque smoke. When I brought the glass to my face, I smelled brine, lemon and orange peel, pineapple, apricot, and malt. As I drew the aroma into my mouth, it was like a vanilla bomb exploded.

 

Palate:  You’ve heard of Big Oil, right? Well, that pretty much describes the mouthfeel. It was full-bodied for sure! The front of the palate featured citrus, pineapple, honey barbeque sauce, and dry smoke. Following were brine, caramel, and malt. The back offered flavors of English toffee, apple, pear, vanilla, and oak.

 

Finish: Here’s where things really got interesting. The finish was dry and very long. Barbeque smoke, pimento wood, honey, citrus, caramel, and brine remained.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I say the finish was interesting because there were a lot of bold qualities competing with one another, yet none overpowered. Instead, they were complimentary. Look, I’ve been fascinated with the Octomore line, and 12.3 doesn’t disappoint. In fact, this one is my favorite between 12.1, 12.2, and 12.3. Is it worth the price? If you’re a fan of peat and of Octomore, this is a slam-dunk Bottle. However, this may be too big of a whisky at too high of a price for the casual drinker. 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, December 10, 2021

Glen Scotia Double Cask Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

 



There was a time in Scotland when Campbeltown whisky was everywhere. There were over thirty distilleries in this region in its heyday, known as The Capital of the Whisky World. What changed? Some of it wasn’t particularly good for various reasons, plus an oversaturation of the market and that nasty word - Prohibition.

 

In 2010, only two remained:  Springbank and Glen Scotia.  A third, Glen Gyle (owned by Springbank), has since reopened.

 

Today, I’m looking at Glen Scotia, founded in 1832 by Stewart, Galbraith, and Company, a family-run business. They retained ownership until 1891, when it was purchased by Duncan MacCallum.  MacCallum added huge malting floors to the distillery. In 1933, MacCallum’s estate sold the distillery to Bloch Brothers, and it remained open until 1942.  In 1945, it reopened as World War II ended, and in 1954, the distillery was acquired by Hiram Walker. A year later, A. Giles purchased it, and then, in 1970, it became part of Amalgamated Distilling Products (ADP). In 1987, some of ADP’s managing partners, Gibson International, purchased the Glen Scotia. Finally, in 2014, Loch Lomond Group purchased the distillery and owns it to this day.

 

Glen Scotia still uses the original mash tun, still room, and dunnage warehouse. It no longer malts its barley but buys it to its exacting standards. Its master distiller and distillery manager has been Iain McAlister for the last dozen years.

 

One of its core single malt Scotch expressions is Double Cask, and that’s what I’m sipping on. It is a single malt, bottled at 46% ABV (92°), and carries no age statement. It ages in former first-fill Bourbon casks and then Pedro Ximenez sherry casks for an additional year. You can expect to pay about $49.99 for a 750ml bottle.  For the record, McAlister says the Double Cask is his favorite expression.

 

I acquired my bottle the same way most of you do – I went to the liquor store and bought it. Did I do okay? The only way to know for sure is to #DrinkCurious.

 

Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Double Cask presented as the color of bronze. It formed a sticky, medium-width rim that formed slow, husky legs that were in no rush to get back to the pool below.

 

Nose:  I found this whisky to be very fragrant even as it simply rested in the glass. Baked apple, stewed peach, berry, honey, caramel, flower, and brine hit my olfactory sense. Yes, those are a lot of notes, but they were all present. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, it tasted like I bit into a caramel apple.

 

Palate:  A medium-weighted mouthfeel offered salted caramel, vanilla cream, toffee, and nuts on the front. The middle featured cinnamon, baking spice, citrus, and dried apricot. More caramel, berry, and oak round out the back.

 

Finish:  Medium in length, the finish consisted of black pepper, cinnamon, salted caramel, berry, nuts, and mild peat.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I found nothing not to love with Double Cask. The Bourbon influence was easy to pick out, as was the PX sherry. It had a charming nose, a slightly complex palate, and a satisfying finish. Sure, it has no age statement, but that isn’t an accurate quality indicator anyway. For $50.00, this is a no-brainer Bottle, and I’m thrilled to have it in my whiskey library. 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, December 8, 2021

Octomore 12.1 Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


 

Transparency is important. It is one of the reasons I respect Bruichladdich as much as I do. The distillery holds nearly nothing close to its vest and is happy to publish as much information as possible.

 

It is also what I owe you, the reader. If there’s a possible conflict of interest, you need to know about it. For the last two years, I’ve been part of a group of influencers selected to launch Octomore to the US market. Last year, it was series 11, this year, series 12. Bruichladdich compensated me to write content for the release of each. It also provided me with samples of 12.1, 12.2, and 12.3. Bruichladdich tasked me with putting together tasting notes for 12.2. That leaves me with samples of 12.1 and 12.3 to review above and beyond my now-completed assignment. Today, I’m sipping 12.1.

 

One thing that makes Octomore special is that the entire concept should not work. Taking massive peat levels and only aging it a handful of years and bottling it at near-cask strength should have disastrous results. Instead, it comes together, forming something unique.

 

The annual x.1 release is always the base whiskey. The other expressions are a variation of the x.1 theme. It begins with a 2014 harvest of Scottish-mainland concerto barley subjected to the heaviest phenol content of peat of any other Scotch on the market. That amount changes annually, and the 12th release is 130ppm. Octomore 12.1 rested five years in first-fill American oak on Islay. It is non-chill filtered, naturally colored, and the only thing stopping it from being an authentic cask-strength whiskey is adding a dash of Octomore spring water. It weighs in at 59.9% ABV (119.8°), and you can expect to pay in the neighborhood of $230.00 for a 750ml package.

 

Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious to explore what this is all about.

 

Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Octomore 12.1 was pale gold. It formed an ultra-thin rim that released medium-weighted legs that crawled back to the pool.

 

Nose:  As soon as I cracked the seal, there was no mistaking that this is a super-heavily peated whisky. I might as well have shoved my face into a freshly-extinguished campfire. I also let this one rest for close to ten minutes before bringing the glass to my face. Shockingly, getting past the smoke was effortless. I found lemon zest, coconut, marzipan, toasted oak, and mushroom notes. Yes, the smoky peat was definitely there. When I drew the air into my open mouth, an explosion of vanilla rolled across my tongue.

 

Palate:  I found the mouthfeel carried a medium body. If I didn’t have previous experience with Octomore, I would have prepped myself for chewing on charcoal. That doesn’t happen, and smoke isn’t even the first note. Instead, the front featured dark-roast coffee, marzipan, and well-done bacon. The middle became fruity with orange zest, plum, and apricot. The back is where things came as you’d assume:  black pepper, burnt oak, and earthy peat.

 

Finish:  This may be one of the longest finishes I’ve experienced. I ran a stopwatch and clicked stop at 5:29!  Brine and orange zest were the first qualities I picked out, followed by English toffee and charred oak. Spicy ginger beer and peat smoke lingered, lasting the longest.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Octomore is unique, and I’ve yet to have one that isn’t just dazzling. I love how the published peat content is scary, and a whiskey that doesn’t work on paper performs gallantly in the glass. Yes, it is pricy, but it is also something you can’t substitute with another whisky.  Would I shell out $230.00 for it?  I wouldn’t even bat an eye. Grab a Bottle if you see it; it is well worth the cost of admission. 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, December 6, 2021

Kilchoman Sanaig Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


In July, I had the opportunity to review Machir Bay from Kilchoman. I was shocked as to how good and different it was. As such, when I was given a chance to review Sanaig, I jumped at the opportunity.


If you're not familiar with Kilchoman, it is one of the nine working distilleries on the small island of Islay. It calls itself Islay's Farm Distillery. The barley is grown on-premises, and this is an actual grain-to-glass operation. 


"Our stills, the smallest on Islay and amongst the smallest in Scotland, create unmatched purity of spirit. Their unique size and shape produce unparalleled levels of copper contact, allowing for the marriage of earthy, maritime peat smoke and light floral citrus which characterises Kilchoman single malt.

Kilchoman is matured in an array of casks, sourced directly from the finest producers around the world. Each oak cask adds its own distinct colour and flavour to the maturing whisky, balancing the character of that particular cask with Kilchoman's classic peat smoke and floral sweetness." - Kilchoman 


Unlike Machir Bay, Sanaig is mostly former sherry casks and a small portion of former Bourbon barrels. The peat level is 50ppm, it is non-chill filtered, naturally colored, and carries no age statement, although rumors indicated it is between five and seven years. Bottled at 46% ABV (92°), you can expect to pay about $70.00 for a 750ml package. Sanaig should be reasonably easy to find as it is one of the core expressions from this distillery.



Before I get to the tasting notes and rating, I'd like to thank Impex Beverage for providing a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. And now, it is time to #DrinkCurious.



Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Sanaig showed off a dark, amber color. Likely, that deep color comes from the sherry cask influence. A medium ring formed, giving way to thick, watery legs that fell back to the pool.



Nose:  Peat and sherry notes hit me while my glass was still resting about three feet from my face. As I placed it at my chin, the smoky peat was more defined. Beneath it was raisin, peach, apple, and orange citrus. Nutmeg popped out, along with plum and cherry. It was like I was stuck in an orchard to fend for myself. As I drew the vapor into my mouth, peach rolled across my tongue.



Palate:  The mouthfeel was like an oil slick. It coated and stuck to the roof of my mouth. Prune and dark cherry started the journey along with the smoky peat. At mid-palate, I discovered brown sugar, mesquite, caramel, and English toffee. Dark chocolate, French oak, barrel char, clove, and orange zest warmed my mouth on the back.


Finish: Black pepper and clove carried through the entire finish, which I found pretty long in duration. The rest consisted of raisin, prune, brown sugar, French oak, clove, and smoky peat. 


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Sanaig was one of those mind-blowing whiskies. The nose and palate were amazingly complicated but managed to also complement one another. I loved the nosing to finish and everything in between. In my opinion, Sanaig blows Machir Bay out of the water, and I enjoyed Machir Bay tremendously. There was a total lack of anything remotely astringent, which is another plus. Tie all that up with the very affordable investment, and that's a perfect recipe for 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, 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.

 

Monday, November 8, 2021

The BenRiach Malting Season Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes



One month each year, the folks at The BenRiach spread barley on its malting floor, watch it carefully while turning it by hand, and pick the “perfect” time to move it to the kiln to dry and stop the germination process.

 

The BenRiach is a Speyside distillery and is known for doing things in its own way. Dr. Rachel Barrie is one of the most respected master blenders in the business.  And, in 2021, she’s taken a single malt Scotch in an entirely new direction with Malting Season.

 

“Passed from distiller to distiller throughout the generations, the floor malting process keeps a traditional part of the whisky-making process alive with BenRiach being one of only seven distilleries in Scotland to continue the practice of floor malting.

Distilling spirit from barley malted here on site is a true labour of love and something we are passionate about keeping alive here at BenRiach as an ode to our creative whisky-making heritage.”Stewart Buchanan, The BenRiach global brand ambassador

 

It begins with the aforementioned once-a-year malting. A concerto strain of barley, the most common, was used, and in this case, 100% of it came from the malting floor. The distillation took place on November 2, 2012. That single malt new make then aged in two types of casks:  virgin American oak and former Bourbon barrels and rested for nine years. The yield was 6672 bottles, and you can expect to pay about $149.99 for a 750ml package.

 

Before I get to the review, I’d like to thank The BenRiach for providing me a sample of Malting Season in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. I’ll #DrinkCurious and get to it.

 

Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Malting Season presented as the color of bright gold. It left a medium-thick rim that led to husky, slow legs that fell back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

 

Nose:  Honey was obvious. Peach, vanilla, Fuji apple, malt, and raw almond aromas lay beneath. As I pulled the air through my lips, the Fuji apple gained strength.

 

Palate:  The mouthfeel offered a medium-weight body and was silky. Fuji apple, Bartlett pear, and honey started things off. As the whisky moved to the middle, toasted almond and vanilla took over. Then, on the back was a blend of oak, white peppercorn, and milk chocolate.

 

Finish:  The oak became dry, the white pepper remained, and then became sweet with honey and apple, then featured a redux of the dry oak. This was one of those big finishes that lasted several minutes.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Malting Season is a stunningly good Scotch. The balanced palate and finish offered a substantial presence with bold flavors. There’s no astringent. There’s no peat. The proof is just right without being unnecessarily diluted. Would I spend $149.99 on this? I believe so, but I’d also like to see it come down about $20.00 or so in price. Regardless, this earned every bit of my Bottle rating. Grab one. This is the first edition of what’s sure to become an amazing annual 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.

 


 

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The Benriach Smoke Season Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes



The Speyside region is known for many things, but peated whiskies are the exception to the rule. Those that have this quality tend to be mildly so.

 

For the last fifty years, The BenRiach has been offering a line of peated Scotches. I’ve reviewed a few of them and found them to be quite tasty. Even the Peated Cask Strength was not overly peated. During the summer, Benriach would send peated malt through the still. For the remainder, it would distill unpeated malt. It calls the period when peated malt is used Smoke Season.

 

“Smoke Season is a special time of year in the distillery’s calendar, and this new addition gives both the whisky novice and connoisseur the opportunity to discover the uniquely rich, sweet, and smoky character of Benriach single malt, crafted in Speyside, a whisky-making region rarely associated with peated malt. At Benriach, we never stop exploring how fruit, oak barley, and smoke aromatics intertwine and mature in our broad range of eclectic casks.”Dr. Rachel Barrie, Master Blender

 

Smoke Season is an intensely-peated single-malt Scotch that carries no age statement. It aged in a small portion of first-fill Bourbon barrels, with the majority in both charred and toasted virgin American oak casks. Bottled at 52.8% ABV (105.6°), this is the first year it has been available in the US market. You can expect to pay about $71.99 for a 750ml package.

 

I’d like to thank The BenRiach for providing me a sample of Smoke Season in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. The way we make that part happen is to #DrinkCurious.

 

Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Smoke Season presented as a bronze amber. It made an ultra-thin rim on the glass that gave no time whatsoever for the watery legs to crash back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

 

Nose: There is no mistake that this is a peated whisky!  Burnt oak, caramel, vanilla, toffee, and citrus provided a well-balanced aroma that would drive any Islay fan bonkers. When I drew the air into my mouth, vanilla and toasted oak caressed my tongue.

 

Palate:  The mouthfeel was slick and oily, coating every nook and cranny of my mouth. The front featured a Crème Brulee that was subjected a bit too long to the flame and cinnamon. At mid-palate, I tasted pear, caramel apple, and orange peel. The back suggested charred oak, black pepper, and dark chocolate.

 

Finish:  The smoky finish offered no astringent quality. It consisted of charred oak and barbeque smoke. Poking through those heavy notes was a vanilla blast. The whole thing lasted several minutes.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’m a big fan of Islay Scotches, and while this one was out of the Speyside region, I’d put this one up against many of them. If you blindfolded one such enthusiast, it would not shock me if they guessed this was something out of Port Charlotte. Sure, it doesn’t have an age statement, but who cares? I loved this. You will, too. Buy one, because this takes 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.

 

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Speyburn 10 and 15 Year Single Malt Scotch Reviews & Tasting Notes





My Scotch journey started in Speyside malts. That's a common toe-dipping region for many reasons, most of which revolve around the fruity, easy-sipping qualities of many offerings. And, while I absolutely adore the Speyside region, most of my attention gravitates to Islay and the Highlands. I've found I've often ignored what first attracted me to Scotch.


The Speyburn Distillery is a storied one from that region (I bet you could figure that out from the name). 


"1897 saw Queen Victoria celebrating the 60th year of her reign and John Hopkins, never one to let a good celebration go to waste, set himself a big challenge. He said he would build a distillery and craft a whisky in time to toast the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. No one believed it was possible, but that didn't matter to John Hopkins - his instincts told him otherwise." - The Speyburn Distillery


Speyburn is unique in the sense that it sources its water from Granty Burn, and by unique, I mean it is the only distillery to do so. It utilizes both stainless steel and Douglas fir fermentation tanks and ages its newmake in both former Bourbon barrels and Sherry casks. It is currently owned by International Beverage Holdings, Ltd., which also has Old Pulteney, anCnoc, and Balblair brands in its portfolio.


Today I'm pouring two Scotches:  Speyburn 10 and Speyburn 15Before I get started on my reviews, I'd like to thank International Beverage for providing me these samples in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious and explore what these are all about.




Speyburn 10 Years


Aged for a decade in American oak, ex-Bourbon, and ex-sherry casks, Speyburn 10 is the flagship single malt whiskey for this distillery. I'm not sure what the difference is between "American oak" and "ex-Bourbon" but Speyburn does differentiate between the two. Of course, American oak could be nearly anything, including virgin oak. All the cooperage is air-dried. Bottled at 43% ABV (86°) a 750ml package is affordable at $34.99.


Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Speyburn 10 appeared as the color of straw. It formed a medium-thick rim with heavy, watery legs that fell back into the pool.


Nose:  The first aroma to hit my olfactory sense was lemon. Not just the peel, but the fruit inside. Not to be ignored was pine and malt. If you've ever visited a malting floor, it has a certain, unique smell. As I brought the rim to my mouth and inhaled, lemon oil danced across my palate.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was different. It was oily... no, it was thin... no, it had a medium body... no, it was syrupy. The palate was a bit easier to nail down. It started with honey and graham crackers. The middle offered English toffee and cinnamon. The back completed the transition from sweet to spicy with nutmeg and toasted oak, then to acidic with lemon zest.


Finish:  Smoked oak, very mild peat, clove, lemon, nutmeg, and toffee remained for a medium-long finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  To find a 10-year single malt for $34.99 isn't overly difficult. A good one is more challenging. I had fun trying to figure out the mouthfeel. I felt the palate was interesting, especially the back where it took that zig-zag. It is unusual to find peat with a Speyside. That's not to scare folks away from it, as I stated above, it was mild. This has a lot of character, it will keep you guessing, and for me, that translates to a Bottle rating.


☸☸☸☸☸



Speyburn 15 Years


Aged for 15 years in both Bourbon and Spanish casks (Speyburn doesn't come out and say the Spanish casks are former sherry butts, but when you taste it, that becomes obvious). This is a single malt, which means they're not blending malted barleys from other distilleries. All the cooperage is air-dried, the whisky is non-chill filtered and naturally colored. Speyburn 15 is packaged at 46% ABV (92°), and you can expect to pay around $70.00 for a 750ml bottle. Worldwide, there are only 3500 cases made each year. 


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Speyburn 15 presented as the color of deep, dark chestnut. The ring that formed was medium in thickness, and the legs were fat but sticky, slowly crawling their way back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose:  This was a raisin bomb out of the gate. That's the first clue that the Spanish casks formally held sherry. Dark chocolate, apricot, and citrus joined the raisin. When I took the vapor into my mouth, vanilla and oak rolled across my tongue.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was creamy and full-bodied. It started with dark chocolate, raisin bread, and orange citrus. The middle featured vanilla, apricot, and fig. Then, the back offered leather, dry oak, vanilla, and malt.


Finish:  French oak and what I could swear was port pipes were at the forefront of the finish. Flavors of raisin, leather, orange citrus, tobacco, and black pepper rounded things out. Lengthwise, it was shorter than I'd have preferred, ranging somewhere in the short-middle range.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I really enjoyed this. I've seen some reviews that casually tossed this whisky aside and I couldn't disagree more. There were several things going on with the palate that made this one interesting. I also loved that finish, especially as it pertained to the cooperage. Bring price into the equation, and for a 15-year Single Malt Scotch, I believe it is priced fairly. Pick one up, because this takes 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.



Wednesday, October 6, 2021

X By Glenmorangie Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

 


Scotch made for mixing. Scotch made for mixing? Oh no, is this going to be one of those awful things that need something else to make it tolerable?


I've had Scotch made for mixing before, and frankly, I enjoyed it neat.  A little over two years ago, I reviewed Auchentoshan "The Bartender's Malt" and it earned a Bottle rating. In fact, I said, "I'd buy this bottle all day long."  It was $49.99 and I didn't even bother using it as a mixer.


Today I'm pouring X by Glenmorangie, which is a Highland Single Malt made for mixing. Glenmorangie wants this description to be unmissed. It is on the bottle. It is on the hangtag. There is even a QR code on the reverse label so you can get mixing recipes. Full disclosure time:  I'm a big fan of Glenmorangie and I can't recall anything that was just meh out of this distillery. Dr. Bill Lumsden knows his stuff and he doesn't release whisky for the sake of releasing whisky. There is a ton of thought and consideration put into each bottling and if it doesn't meet his standards, it doesn't make it to market. 


As I stated, this is a single malt, which means that the whisky came from a single distillery and hasn't been blended with other whiskies. It aged in the normal ex-Bourbon barrels as the original Glenmorangie. However, another portion was aged in virgin, charred oak casks. It is bottled at a basic 40% ABV (80°) and a 750ml bottle will set you back about $25.00 or so. It carries no age statement. Wait! Don't roll your eyes. Read on, I beg you.


"Crafted with top bartenders, this is our single malt made for mixing. Pair its sweeter and richer taste with your favourite mixer to create delicious drinks." - Glenmorangie

 

Interestingly enough, that's pretty much the same story from Auchentoshan


I'd like to thank Glenmorangie for providing me a sample of X in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. But, before I do that, I want to talk about the presentation. Most distilleries send a bottle between 50ml and 750ml and maybe some printed material. A select few pour a lot of effort into what's sent out. Glenmorangie went above and beyond.





The box was huge. My Glencairn glass is there for perspective. When I pulled off the outer box, inside were five bottles:  X by Glenmorangie, Topo Chico Twist of Grapefruit, Fever-Tree Club Soda, Fever-Tree Ginger Beer, and Sanpellegrino Aranciata Rossa. It also contained suggested cocktail recipes. One of which I'm going to make (after I taste the X neat) is called X Ginger:

  • 1.5oz X by Glenmorangie
  • Ginger Ale

Fill a glass with cubed ice. Add X by Glenmorangie then top with ginger ale. Gently stir and garnish with an orange wedge.


Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass (because X is made for mixing and I judge all whiskeys, at the very least, neat), this Scotch presented as deep gold in color. I observed a fat rim that formed a thick, wavy curtain that slowly crashed back to the pool.


Nose:  The aromas of orange citrus and honeysuckle were unmistakable. It bordered on almost overwhelming. But, beneath those were pear, butterscotch, and something floral. When I pulled the vapor into my mouth, I could swear I was eating a macaroon. 


Palate:  The mouthfeel was thick and viscous. In fact, the more I sipped, the huskier it became.  The front featured raw honey, malt, and almond. Flavors of orange peel and crème brulée were next, and on the back, it was simply char and toasted oak. 


Finish:  My hard palate tingled despite the minimal proof. Virgin oak was evident and was joined by char, almond, and maple syrup. Like the mouthfeel, the finish was initially short, and subsequent sips elongated it to what I would describe as medium in length.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Is Glenmorangie X made for mixing? Well, sure, because Glenmorangie says so. Is it made for drinking neat? You betcha. This was a sweet but simple Scotch that provided a pleasant experience. When you compare Glenmorangie X to many other $25.00 Scotches, this not only deserves a Bottle rating but also provides an opportunity to #RespectTheBottomShelf


Afterword:  For whatever it is worth, I made the X Ginger cocktail sans the orange simply because I didn't have one on hand. It did tame the ginger beer and give it a sweetness that complimented the expected spiciness.


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.