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

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Glenmorangie The Quinta Ruban Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

It isn't too often when Fortune is kind as it pertains to whisky. Last year, Glenmorangie changed one of its staple Scotches, The Quinta Ruban. You see, the good Dr. Bill Lumsen, Glenmorangie's master blender, who has a long track record of doing things right, opted to add another two years to what was a 12-year whisky. So, why is Fortune kind to us? Because the discontinued 12-year expression is still out there and, while supplies are dwindling, it isn't overly difficult to find.

If you're not familiar with Glenmorangie (a/k/a Glenmo), it is a Highland distillery that was founded in 1843 and located in Tain, Ross-shire. Mothballed twice, first from 1931 to 1936 and then again from 1941 to 1944, Glenmo has the tallest stills in all of Scotland, which are nicknamed giraffes. Hard water, high in mineral content, sourced from the local Tarlogie Springs, is used in the distillation process. The giraffe concept is so important to Glenmo that it pioneered a partnership with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, with the goal of saving these animals from becoming further endangered.  

The Quinta Ruban 12-year used Glenmo's base single-malt distillate and aged it a decade in former Bourbon barrels. Those barrels came from Jack Daniel's, where they rested four years before being dumped and subsequently shipped to Scotland. Then, Glenmo placed the whisky in ruby Port pipes, where it matured another two years. These pipes, which are tapered barrels, came from the Quintas of Portugal. Quintas is Portuguese for wine estates. Ruban is the Gaelic term for ruby. Hence the name.

Bottled at 46% ABV (92°) and non-chill filtered, when you stumble upon it, you can expect to pay about $46.00 for a 750ml.

What can you expect from this Scotch?  The only way to tell for sure is to #DrinkCurious

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Scotch presented as deep mahogany in color. It formed a medium rim that created thick, watery legs that fell back down the wall.

Nose:  Fragrant and a bit challenging to nail down, aromas of honey, raisin, vanilla, cinnamon, and dried fig wafted from the glass. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, the dried fig slammed across my tongue.

Palate:  Creamy and full-bodied, The Quinta Ruban offered smoked oak, clove, and roasted nuts on the front of the palate. As it moved to the middle, it became a fruity assortment of fig, date, raisin, and blueberry. Then, on the back, I tasted dark chocolate, caramel, and marshmallow that could have made for a tasty candy bar. 

Finish:  Medium-to-long and mostly dry, the finish left flavors of charred oak, caramel, chocolate, raisin, and honey.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Do yourself a favor. When you see The Quinta Ruban 12-year on the shelf, perhaps in that clearance section of your local liquor store, grab it. Take two if you can. This is an excellent Scotch that features a beautiful nose, plus a delicious palate and finish at an attractive price. Yes, that's a Bottle rating from me. 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 that you do so responsibly.


Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Kirkland Signature Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

If you're a Costco member, you've undoubtedly been to the liquor section of your local club to see what they have. And, you've likely stumbled across its Kirkland store-brand whiskeys and wondered to yourself, Can this be any good? Especially at that price? I know that thought has crossed my mind whenever I've perused the aisle.

Lately, I've been on a Scotch kick. I go through these cycles. Sometimes it is Bourbon, sometimes Rye, sometimes Irish, and for whatever reason, I gravitate toward them. I lost my whiskey virginity to Scotch, so it holds a special place in my heart. On the flip side of the coin, I'm not a wealthy man, and Scotch is an expensive part of an already expensive whiskey hobby.

A few months ago, I saw rumblings of Kirkland Signature Islay Single Malt Scotch hit the interwebs. There was a lot of excitement, and, as with anything, many naysayers who said an Islay single malt for $39.99 will taste like garbage. The #DrinkCurious lifestyle told me that's hogwash. After just enjoying a $38.00 bottle of Ardbeg Wee Beastie, I know good Scotch doesn't require a loan.

One of the frustrating things about buying Kirkland whiskeys is you have no idea where it comes from because they are very tight-lipped about it. However, Islay only has nine working distilleries and since this is a single malt, we know that means it isn't a blend of several. That's the first piece of the puzzle.

Other information we know is that it comes from Alexander Murray Co., which is an independent bottler. Independent bottling is pretty easy to explain. Distilleries have thousands of casks doing nothing but aging to perfection. An independent bottler selects casks they find special and bottles them on its own. There exist some superstar independent bottlers, and there are those who are mediocre at best.

This Kirkland whisky carries no age statement and is bottled at 100°. I picked up my bottle for $39.99.  I'm sure different distribution territories have different prices. But the key here is this is very affordable. And, that ponies up the second and third pieces of the puzzle.

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Scotch was golden in color. The bottle suggests nothing regarding added caramel coloring or chill filtering. But, at 100° would negate the need for chill filtering. The rim was wide and yielded fat, fast legs that crashed back into the pool. 

Nose:  Peat was expected and it did not disappoint. That's the first note I picked up from the moment I poured my first glass.  Brine, citrus, barbeque smoke, and vanilla each held their places. When I breathed the aroma into my mouth, I tasted lemon curd rolling across my tongue.

Palate:  There was no mistaking the mouthfeel for anything but being full-bodied and viscous. On the front of my palate, I found smoked vanilla and pear. As it moved to the middle, flavors of salted caramel, ginger, and citrus were evident. The back offered marmalade, tobacco leaf, clove, and (again) ginger. 

Finish: Long-lasting but not overpowering, the finish features barbeque smoke, vanilla, clove, tobacco leaf, and freshly-cracked peppercorn. The smoke sticks around for the whole shebang.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Buying a bottle of Kirkland Signature Islay Single Malt Scotch for only $39.99 should be illegal. This can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with so many lovely Scotches and beat them on price. If peat is your thing, this will be, too. This may be one of the easiest Bottle ratings I've conveyed in a long time. I don't know how else to say this:  Buy it (and please, ye kind whiskey gods, let this be a permanent offering).

Final Note:  We've had three pieces of the puzzle that offer a hint to this whisky's origin. The tasting notes offer a few more. It is fairly obvious this is a heavily-peated Scotch. That barbeque quality from the nose and finish is also a clue. I can't swear to it, and this is purely a deductive guess, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say a 100°, heavily-peated Islay Scotch that is very easy on the wallet would be Port Charlotte out of the Bruichladdich distillery. 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 to do so responsibly. 

Friday, May 14, 2021

The Arran Malt 10 Scotch Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


Scotch distilling is an old, respected trade. Many distilleries go back a couple hundred years. Just off the west coast of Scotland is the Isle of Arran, a pair of distilleries stand, busily cranking out whisky.  But, Isle of Arran Distillers is a relative newcomer - it wasn't erected until 1995!

Way back when, the island was home to over 50 distilleries, but they're long and gone. Most were illegal operations, with a handful were on the up and up. But, for whatever reason, they all folded. Construction on this new distillery started in 1994 but was quickly shut down. Of all things, it was a pair of golden eagles that decided to nest. Once the eagles vacated, construction resumed and the Lochranza Distillery opened. Most recently, they opened a second location called the Lagg Distillery.  Due to its location, it is considered part of the official Highland region (and the unofficial Islands region).

Arran Distillers is part of a shrinking breed of independently owned Scotch distilleries. Its Production Director (which most folks would call a Master Blender or Master Distiller) is James MacTaggart. He's been there 14 years, and prior to that, he was at Bowmore just over three decades.

Most of what Arran produces is unpeated single malt whisky, is non-chill filtered, and naturally colored. Also interesting is that nearly everything is 46% ABV (92°). It is said one thing that makes Arran special is the quality of water it utilizes. It is uniquely sourced by Arran. 

Today I'm reviewing one of its core products:  The Arran Malt 10. The malt is a blend of Optic (the most commonly used for distilling) and Oxbridge (fairly new to the distilling world) barleys. As you can likely gather, it has been aged at least a decade before being bottled. You can expect to pay about $49.99 for a 750ml package. I purchased my bottle locally in Wisconsin.

Let's #DrinkCurious and learn what this pour is all about.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Arran 10 presented as clear and pale gold in color. I found it left a medium rim and sticky legs that had difficulty making their way back to the pool of whisky.

Nose:  Strong, sweet notes permeated the air long before I engaged my nose with the glass. Honey, vanilla, lemon curd, and grass were joined by definitive malt. When I inhaled the vapor into my mouth, the honey and vanilla were even bolder.

Palate:  The mouthfeel offered a medium body and had a zing of warmth. On the front of my palate, I tasted orange and apricot, along with a classic maltiness. The middle became vanilla and lemon curd. That transformed on the back to spiciness with cinnamon, chocolate, oak, and leveled out with almond. 

Finish:  Slow, rolling, and building, the finish included chocolate and oak from the back, honey, and black pepper. The honey and black pepper played off one another. Once the finish hit a crescendo, it simply vanished. 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  If you only drink peated Scotch, Arran 10 isn't for you. There's none of it, not even a hint. But, if fruit is your jam, Arran will make you smile. There was enough spice on the tail end to offset the sweet and tart fruits. I found the price to be very fair, and I believe I made a great decision picking up this addition to my whiskey library, and you will as well. On the BBB scale, this one takes a strong Bottle rating. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System:
  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Islay Storm Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


If you’ve been reading my reviews for awhile, you’ll know that my prior experience with Trader Joe’s Kentucky Bourbon Straight Whiskey left me with a bad taste in my mouth – a really bad taste. It was a taste so bad that it had me skittish to try any other Trader Joe’s exclusives. And, yet, here I am, one year later, embracing the #DrinkCurious lifestyle, ready to risk my palate for the whisky-loving community with Islay Storm Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

You can read this review in its entirety over at Bourbon & Banter. Cheers!