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

Friday, August 20, 2021

GlenAllachie 10 Year Batch 3 Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


This year, I'm discovering distilleries that I've known about, but not yet had a chance to peruse. For me, this is always exciting, and somehow much more so than new releases from distilleries I'm already a fan of. I think part of it is because I may find something that drags me in an entirely new direction in my whisky journey. 

GlenAllachie (pronounced Glen-Alla-Key) is a fairly new Speyside distillery that's seen quite a bit of ownership changes in its 54 years. Founded in 1967, its been open, closed, mothballed, reopened, used for strictly blends for Chivas Bros., then sold off in 2017 to its current owners, The GlenAllachie Distillers Company, run by Billy Walker, Trisha Savage, and Graham Stevenson. Walker is its current Master Blender.

The GDC completely revamped things with a plan to release whiskies bottled at no less than 46% ABV, and are both naturally colored and non-chill filtered. It also allows 160 hours of fermentation time, claiming it gives them greater time to study what's in the tank.

Today I'm reviewing GlenAllachie 10 Year, Batch 3.  Because I can do basic math, I'm able to tell you that The GDC didn't distill this whisky, this is one of those leftover barrels from the Pernod-Ricard/Chivas ownership. This is a single malt that's been aged for at least a decade in Olorosso sherry, PX sherry, and virgin oak casks. Weighing in at an impressive 58.2% ABV (116.4°), there were 3500 cases released in 2019. You can expect to pay around $81.99 for the bottle.

Before I get to the review, I'd like to thank Impex Beverage for providing me a sample of this Scotch in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now, allow me to #DrinkCurious and tell you all about it.

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, GlenAllachie 10 presented as the color of deep, dark mahogany. It formed a paper-thin rim and thick, heavy tears that fell back into the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  Aromas of gingerbread, milk chocolate, raisin, fig, and date made me smile. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, brown sugar and molasses crawled over my tongue.

Palate:  Full-bodied with a syrupy texture, the front of my palate tasted caramel, fig, and cinnamon. The middle offered raisin, buttercream, and cocoa powder. Then, on the back, freshly-cracked peppercorn, dry oak, and tobacco leaf.

Finish: The finish was medium-long in length and bone dry. Were I to guess, that would indicate there were more Olorosso sherry casks and virgin oak used than PX sherry casks. Brown sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon spice blended together and when they fell off, raisin was left behind.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I'm stuck somewhere between a Bottle and Bar rating. The aroma was absolutely enticing. The palate was good, but not what I would describe as great. I would have preferred more of the PX sherry influence to come through versus the Olorosso, but that's not the end of the world. The price isn't obnoxious, there are just so many 10-year Scotches out there for a lot less. When I'm stuck between ratings, I always opt for the lower, and that means this one takes a Bar.  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, August 12, 2021

Talisker 10 Year Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


Peated Scotch is most associated with Islay. However, peat is used to heat malted barley in each of Scotland's five regions. That statement, of course, leads to much discussion - does Scotland have five or six regions?  Officially, there are five, according to the Scotch Whisky Regulations. Those are Speyside, Highland, Lowland, Islay, and Campbeltown. The sixth is unofficial, called Islands, which includes every Scottish island sans Islay.

One of those islands is called the Isle of Skye. Until very recently, there was one and only one distillery on Skye, and that is Talisker. But, there's a newer one called Isle of Skye Distillery, but it currently produces gin.  Talisker was founded in 1830, it remained productive until 1960 when a fire destroyed it. The owners quickly rebuilt, going as far as to duplicate the original stills, and then resumed production. It is currently part of the Diageo portfolio.

"From the rugged western shores of the Isle of Skye comes a richly flavored, maritime malt, with a warming afterglow. So easy to enjoy, yet like Skye itself, so hard to leave." - Talisker

Talisker's whiskeys are non-chill-filtered and naturally-colored. Today, I'm pouring Talisker 10, which is conveniently named as it is aged ten years in Bourbon hogsheads. It is a single malt, meaning that it utilizes a single grain from a single distillery. That grain is typically barley.  Talisker 10 is packaged at 45.8% ABV (that's 91.6°), and you can expect to pay about $65.99 for a 750ml bottle. Talisker 10 is fairly easy to get your hands on.

What's this whisky all about? The only way to know for sure is to #DrinkCurious.

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Talisker 10 presented as brassy in color. It created a medium rim, but heavy, thick legs that crashed back into the pool.

Nose:  While I allowed the whisky to rest, its sweet, peaty aroma left the glass. When I brought it to my face, the peat was joined with seaweed, brine, a faint astringent, raisin, citrus, nutmeg, and vanilla. Yes, that's a lot of smells going on! As I inhaled the vapor into my mouth, it was malty. 

Palate:  The mouthfeel was oily and medium-bodied. On the front, the sweet peat married honey, vanilla, and milk chocolate. Come mid-palate, things got fruity with apple, pear, and green grape. That was joined by malt.  The back consisted of charred oak, clove, and saline.

Finish:  The long finish featured clove, black pepper, smoke, brine, and vanilla. There was no burning sensation to speak of, making it easy to pick out the notes.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  There is so much variety from the unofficial Islands region, and, yet, Talisker 10 provides a good representation of its peated whiskies. The peat is definitely there, but it isn't overwhelming, weighing in somewhere between 10-14ppm. That makes it a good entry point for someone who is wary of smoky Scotches. There is no astringent (Band-Aid) quality to it, which some drinkers can find off-putting. When you consider the age and proof along with all of the flavor, this ranks up as a very easy Bottle. Cheers!

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

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

Monday, July 26, 2021

Ardbeg An Oa Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


As I peruse my whiskey library, deciding on what to sip on, I'm sometimes stunned with what I have that I've not yet reviewed, especially as it pertains to my Scotches. And, from that, especially when it comes to anything Ardbeg

Full disclosure:  I am an Ardbeg fanboy. It doesn't mean I love everything out of that distillery, but it does mean given the choice between an unknown Ardbeg and an unknown pretty much anything else, I'm choosing the Ardbeg. I've experienced a loser or two (think Auriverdes). 

Today I've chosen one of the core Ardbeg expressions:  An Oa.  Pronounced an oh, it is named for the southernmost point on Islay, the Mull of Oa. Made from a mash of 100% malted barley from Port Ellen, it offers the typical Ardbeg 50-55 PPM level of peat, carries no age statement, is non-chill filtered and naturally colored. An Oa is aged in former first-fill Bourbon barrels, PX sherry casks, and virgin, charred oak.  The vatting (or where the whisky from these various barrel types) happens in French oak. An Oa requires little effort to find and you can expect to lay down about $59.99 for a 750ml package.

"The water we use to produce Ardbeg comes from Loch Uigeadail, 3 miles up the hill behind the Distillery. The water flows down the hill and runs into Loch Airigh Nam Beist – from there the burn takes it to Charlie’s Dam at the Distillery and from there it is piped into the Mash House." - Ardbeg

Now that you know the background, it is time to #DrinkCurious and learn if this expression is worth the investment. For the record, I purchased this bottle from a Wisconsin retailer.

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, An Oa presented as dull gold in color. It formed a medium-thick rim that created heavy, wavy legs that crashed back into the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  If you think Ardbeg and you expect a blast of peaty smoke in your face, you're going to be disappointed with An Oa. Instead, I found aromas of sweeter peat, light tar, coconut, peach, and vanilla. When I took the vapor into my mouth, all I could sense was stewed peaches. 

Palate:  The mouthfeel of An Oa was creamy.  The front of my palate picked out milk chocolate, tobacco leaf, and peanuts. As the liquid moved its way across my tongue, I tasted peach, nutmeg, and cinnamon on the middle, then a punch of dry oak, joined by tar, plum, ginger, and brine on the back.

Finish:  Medium in length, this is one of the shortest finishes out of Ardbeg that I can recall. There was smoke, but it was akin to roasted ancho chile pepper than anything else. The tar and dry oak remained, as did the plum, chocolate, and nutmeg. But, I also experienced clove right before everything fell off.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  If you were new to peated Islay scotch and curious about a toe-dipping point, An Oa would be a good choice. While it is heavily-peated, it isn't peat-heavy. The peat is subdued, the stronger notes come from wood. I didn't identify anything except possibly the plum that hinted at PX sherry casks, which is a shame, but overall this is a well-balanced, easy-to-drink whisky. At the same time, an experienced Islay lover won't find anything to complain about. When the price is considered, this is one of those slam-dunk Bottle ratings. 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 7, 2021

Kilchoman Machir Bay Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


Lately, I seem to be craving peated whiskies. I can't explain why... I mean, I know I'm not pregnant, and I don't think that I'm missing anything in my diet... but that smoky quality is just something I'm gravitating to whenever I have a choice.

I've been blessed recently with incoming samples of Scotches I've never tried. Today, it is a distillery I've never tried:  Kilchoman.  This is one of nine working Islay distilleries and is located on the northwest coast. Founded in 2005 by former independent bottler Anthony Wells, this distillery has the smallest still of any on the island and one of the smallest in all of Scotland. It claims this gives it better contact with the copper and adds to the whisky's flavor.

Kilchoman is Scotland's first single-farm distillery (Rockside Farm) and uses only 100% Islay-grown barley.  Its best-known single malt is Machir Bay. With a peat level of 50ppm and a mashbill of 100% malted barley, it is non-chill filtered and naturally colored.

"Named after one of the most spectacular beaches in Islay, Machir Bay is the flagship of our range. Matured predominantly in bourbon barrels, it balances classic Islay peat character with caramel, vanilla, and citrus sweetness." - Kilchoman 

As indicated above, most of the cooperage is former Bourbon barrels, specifically from Buffalo Trace. The remainder is Olorosso sherry butts from Jose y Miguel Martin. It carries no age statement and is bottled at 46% ABV (92°).  You should expect to pay in the neighborhood of $59.00 for a 750ml package.

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

Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Machir Bay was the color of golden straw. It established a rather thick rim and left weighty legs that quickly fell back to the pool.

Nose:  When I first poured the whisky into my glass, I could have cut the smoky peat with a knife. But, after allowing it to breathe for about ten minutes, that smokiness transformed to sweeter, mild peat. It was joined by honey, apple, pear, and citrus. When I breathed in through my mouth, I found thick vanilla.

Palate:  An oily, medium-bodied mouthfeel featured vanilla, honey, pineapple, and orange peel on the front of my palate. As it moved to the middle, rich butterscotch, cherry, tobacco leaf, and brine tangoed with one another. Then, on the back, I tasted a blast of charred oak from the Bourbon barrels, black pepper, clove, and a hint of leather. 

Finish:  The finish was long, long, long.  It commenced with deep smoke that went beyond char. Black pepper, clove, a certain earthiness, and something herbal joined it. The herbal portion lasted the longest, and when it finally fell off, there was one more kiss of smoke.  

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I'm not a big fan of the astringent flavor some Scotches have, and thankfully, Machir Bay lacks any of that Band-Aid quality. I also found this Islay whisky to be atypical. The herbal essence was the kicker. At first, I thought it was like tar, but after other sips, it became obvious it wasn't. 

I can't believe I've waited this long to try Kilchoman. Now I want to kick myself. I enjoyed this immensely, and when I take into account the affordability aspect, this becomes a very easy 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, June 30, 2021

Port Askaig 110° Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


I've talked about independent bottlers in the past. If you're unfamiliar with the term, that is a brand that does not distill but, instead, buys casks from working distilleries and packages them under their own label. They may do something unique once it takes possession of the whisky. An independent bottler may or may not disclose what distillery they acquire the casks from.  Independent bottling is commonplace in Scotland, it is done in the United States but we tend to talk about it in terms of sourcing

One such independent bottler is Elixir Distillers. Located in London, Elixir is a blender and bottler and owns a handful of brands, one of which is Port Askaig. Port Askaig is named for a port town on the island of Islay. While the source of the whisky is undisclosed, someone with a very talented palate can probably figure out which of Islay's nine distilleries is the source, and several have suggested Caol Ila

"Each expression within the range is bottled in limited batches. While recognising that each bottling will vary, the aim is to achieve a consistency of quality and character over time. To ensure each whisky maintains its original flavor and character, the whiskies are not chill-filtered and no colouring is added." - Elixir Distillers

Today I'm drinking Port Askaig 110°, a US-exclusive, non-age statement single malt. While we don't know much more about this Scotch, we do know that vintage Bourbon cooperage was used for aging, but the number of casks involved is another secret. Just like in the United States, small batch has no legal definition. You can expect to pay about $65.00 for a 750ml package.

Before I get to the tasting notes, I'd like to thank Impex Beverages for providing me a sample of Port Askaig 110° in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Time to #DrinkCurious! 

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this whisky presented as the color of golden straw. It created a medium-thick rim that formed sticky little droplets. As they gained weight, they slowly dropped back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  Aromas of peat, brine, toasted coconut and green apple caught my attention. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, the flavor of toasted coconut rolled across my hard palate.

Palate:  With an oily, medium-bodied mouthfeel, Port Askaig 110° started with sweeter fruit, smoke, and vanilla. On the middle was apple, and the back featured white pepper and smoked wood.

Finish:  Medium-long and warming, there was a blend of smoky and sweet peat, followed by apple, white pepper, and just as it falls off, clove. 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Aside from proof, there's not a lot going on with Port Askaig 110°. And, despite that, it doesn't drink at its stated proof. This isn't a bad at all, but it does seem young. I can absolutely appreciate why the rumors point to Caol Ila as the distillery, there are reminiscent notes, but for about $5.00 more, I can pick up an excellent 12-year Caol Ila that has more depth, maturity, and flavor. Because of that, I'm going to suggest you try this one at a Bar. Cheers!

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

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

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Ardbeg Corryvreckan Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

I'm almost embarrassed to write this review. You see, Ardbeg Corryvreckan is probably my favorite, readily accessible, reasonably-priced, peated Single Malt Scotches. But, about two weeks ago, when I was at an Ardbeg Day Event celebration, I discovered I've never reviewed this whisky! I have no idea how that happened, but it is time to fix that oversight right now.

If you're unfamiliar with Ardbeg, that's one of the nine working distilleries on Islay (and if you've ever wondered how that's pronounced, say Eye-Lah). Founded in 1815 by John Macdougall, it was also the first Scottish distillery run by women (Margaret and Flora Macdougall). Sold in 1977 to Hiram Walker, Ardbeg was shuttered in 1981 and remained so until 1987 when it was purchased by Allied Lyons. Ardbeg was used as a source for blends instead of bottling its own. That didn't last long, as in 1991 it was shuttered again.  Finally, in 1997, Glenmorangie purchased the distillery and resurrected it to its former glory.

So now you know about Ardbeg. What's a Corryvreckan? It is one of the largest permanent whirlpools (as in the ocean, not a tub) in the world and the largest in Europe. It located between the islands of Jura and Scarba in Scotland. 

Ardbeg chose to name its peatiest core Scotch after the storied maelstrom. There have been others with stronger peated flavor, but they're all limited edition offerings.

Corryvreckan begins with a mash of 100% malted barley, with between 50 and 55 PPM of peatiness. It is then aged in former Bourbon barrels, some first-fill, and others more vintage, plus French oak barrels, rumored to be a mix of virgin wood and former wine casks. It is non-chill filtered, naturally colored, and bottled at 57.1% ABV (that's 114.2° for us Americans). It carries no age statement, and I'll explain later why that's important. You can expect to pay between $79.99 and $99.99 for a 750ml package.

What makes Corryvreckan special? I'll let my tasting notes explain that.

Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, this Scotch is the color of golden honey. It presented a medium rim that formed long, wavy tears that fell back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  I smelled the smoky peat as it left the bottle and poured into the glass. As it sat for several minutes, it stuck around. Once I got the glass under my nose, aromas of toasted seaweed, brine, apple, pear, citrus, and French oak were evident. As I took the vapor into my mouth, pear was easy to pick out.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was slick and silky. The peat on the front was sweeter than you'd guess from the nose. That was offset by the darkest of chocolate, and the two were bridged by cherry and plum. Mid-palate flavors included coffee, almond, and hickory-smoked meat. Yeah, that's an actual flavor. The back tasted of old leather, sweet tobacco, and clove.

Finish:  The big finish was constructed of coffee, white pepper, leather, French oak, and that hickory-smoked meat that left my mouth and mind longing for more.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  As I stated at the beginning, this is probably my favorite, readily accessible Islay Scotch. That equals an obvious Bottle rating. But, why? It is amazingly complex from the nose to the finish. It has immense, bold flavors and drinks way under its stated proof. More importantly, it is one of the best explanations as to why an age statement is less important than many folks believe. This NAS whisky competes easily against its age-stated brethren, both within and outside of the Ardbeg family. If peated whisky is your jam, grab a bottle of Corryvreckan. You won't regret it. Cheers!

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

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

Wednesday, June 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!