Showing posts with label blended whiskey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blended whiskey. Show all posts

Monday, May 2, 2022

Dewar's White Label Blended Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

Life is sometimes like a big circle. There’s no real beginning, middle, or end; it is just continuous. Today I’m going way, way back in time.


My whisky journey began as a random choice of spirits. I wasn’t a drinker of alcoholic spirits. My wife suggested that I find something – anything – that I could sip on just to be social. There were two things I knew I didn’t care for:  tequila and gin. I was not too fond of the smell of either, let alone the taste.


In a desire to appear sophisticated, I opted for Scotch. While I wanted to appear as such, my wallet had different ideas. As a friend described things, you have champagne tastes on a beer budget. I don’t quite remember how the actual selection happened, but I think it was Mrs. Whiskeyfellow who handed me a 200ml bottle of Dewar’s White Label (since publishing this, Mrs. Whiskeyfellow says it was not her that got me to try Dewar's).


I cycled between Dewar’s and Chivas Regal for about a year before I opted to delve deeper, and once I did that, I never tried Dewar’s White Label again; until today.


Dewar’s began in 1846 when John Dewar and his two sons, who were wine merchants, purchased whiskies and blended them for their store brand. In 1896, the Aberfeldy Distillery was built so the Dewars could make their own whisky. Dewar’s has changed hands a few times and is currently owned by Bacardi.


Dewar’s White Label is still a blended Scotch, but it blends differently from most brands. Instead of blending grains and malts and then aging the blended whisky, Dewar’s selects over 40 different mature single malts from around Scotland (with a large portion from Aberfeldy) and marries them to form its concoction.


White Label carries no age statement; it is chill-filtered and offers no mention of e150a coloring. You can find this pretty much everywhere from the corner convenience to a full-blown liquor store and should expect to pay about $24.99 for a 750ml package.


This will be an exciting review because I honestly can’t remember how it tasted. I’ll #DrinkCurious and find out what made me stick with it for such a long time.


Appearance: In my Glencairn glass, Dewar’s White Label presented as the color of straw. It formed a thicker rim and watery legs that raced down the wall of the glass.


Nose: Orchard fruits such as peach, apple, and citrus greeted my nostrils. Beneath those were honey, vanilla, and a hint of ethanol. When I pulled the air into my mouth, there was a blast of tangerine.


Palate:  This Scotch had a watery mouthfeel. Vanilla and honey were on the front, caramel was on the middle (although challenging to find), and the back had flavors of lemon curd combined with char.


Finish:  The lemon and char remained through the finish and included vanilla, black pepper, and slightly bitter quality. It was medium in length.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I have to be honest. I was a bit concerned I would hate this. Dewar’s White Label isn’t the best whisky, it won’t blow your doors off, but it isn’t unpleasant. It is basic and unassuming. It was probably a good idea to use this as my toe-dip into Scotch all those years ago because there is enough to make things interesting without some of the overpowering qualities that can turn off novices. It could almost be mistaken for a lower-end Irish whiskey on a different day, which is likely why I initially found this appealing. The price is undoubtedly easy. For those curious about Scotch, this will be a Bottle, and for the more experienced whisky drinker, 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.



Friday, April 15, 2022

Pendleton "Original" Blended Canadian Whisky Review & Tasting Notes


Pendleton “Original” is a whisky bottled by Hood River Distillers in Oregon. It uses glacial water from the Mt. Hood National Forest. It is named to “celebrate the spirit of the American cowboy and cowgirl.” However, it is a Canadian blended whisky distilled from the “finest ingredients” and aged in American oak. It carries no age statement.


Pendleton isn’t overly difficult to find, and it certainly is affordable. A 750ml, 40% ABV (80°) package runs about $22.00.


In full disclosure, I’m unimpressed with the mainstream Canadian whiskies I’ve tried so far—all of them. But, I keep trying others as I stumble across them in hopes of finding something that is beyond a mediocre mixer. I also work to clear my mind as best as possible and approach each one as I do with any other whisky – no expectations. That’s the #DrinkCurious lifestyle.


Let’s get to this review, shall we?


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, I allowed this to breathe for about 20 minutes. It presented as dull gold and made a fragile rim that led to weak legs.


Nose: As I brought the glass to my face, the aroma reminded me of Corn Chex cereal. Also found was a hint of cinnamon before what smelled like industrial floor cleaner took away the others. When I took the air into my mouth, it was like acetone.


Palate: There are many instances where a lovely palate offsets a poor nosing experience. The mouthfeel was thick and creamy. I picked up caramel and then what tasted exactly like vanilla-flavored vodka. It wasn’t my favorite, but it wasn’t offensive like the nose.


Finish:  Have you ever been dusting your furniture and accidentally taking a cloud of lemon Pledge in your mouth? That’s what I think I was tasting. Chemical qualities remained, which I initially thought was clove, but any semblance of it quickly vaporized. And unfortunately, it stuck around.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Must I say it? Bust. End of story.


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, March 23, 2022

Canadian Mist Blended Canadian Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

Let’s get something out of the way here. I’ve not tried Canadian Mist in probably the last dozen years. Why? Because the last time it passed my lips, I was in Orlando, and it was the only whisky poured at the event I was attending. It was hideous. Canadian Mist is the whisky that turned me off of Canadian whiskies.


I wasn’t reviewing whiskey a dozen years ago. My palate has refined significantly since then. With the whole #DrinkCurious mantra, I’m supposed to return to things I didn’t previously enjoy and give them second (and sometimes third) chances.


What is Canadian Mist? It is a blended Canadian whisky founded in 1967 by Brown-Forman. It is made from a mash of rye from Ontario and Alberta, corn grown from within 100 miles of the distillery in Collingwood, Ontario, and malted barley. Triple-distilled in a column still, Canadian Mist uses water sourced from Georgian Bay. It rested “at least” 36 months in used, charred oak barrels that formerly held “heavier whiskeys” in climate-controlled warehouses. Sazerac purchased the brand in 2020. You can expect to spend $9.99 for a 750ml, 40% ABV (80°) package.

I picked up a 50ml taster for $0.99 at some random liquor store. Let’s see if this is any better than I remember.


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Canadian Mist was the color of yellow straw. A medium rim led to fat, sticky tears.


Nose: I smelled acetone, caramel, butterscotch, and something like synthetic citrus. When I brought the air into my mouth, it was kinda-sorta butterscotch.


Palate:  The texture was thin. The first thing I tasted was something chemical. It took a lot to get past it, but I eked out maple and a fake-tasting caramel. Please don’t ask me to break it up into the front, middle, and back because I can’t.


Finish:  Too long and bitter, Canadian Mist’s finish featured caramel and more acetone.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  My gosh, it all came back at me as I was smelling this. The only thing I can say that is attractive about Canadian Mist is it is dirt cheap. It is a palate wrecker. I can’t see attempting to salvage this in a cocktail, and I refuse even to try. Rating Canadian Mist as a Bust does a disservice to the Bust rating. Drink anything else.


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, February 24, 2022

Johnnie Walker Red Label Blended Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


Usually, I go into a grandiose introduction, and I give a history of the brand and background on the type of whisky. I’ll include some information, but today I’m exploring the best-selling Scotch whisky in the world: Johnnie Walker Red Label.


I want to skip the typical introduction because Red Label is the standard-bearer for bad Scotch if you listen to folks in social media groups. But, at the same time, it is the best-selling Scotch in the world. While everyone’s palate is different, this is one of those things that you can’t have both ways. Either it is a terrible whisky, or it is drinkable. I would expect some back-peddling from the naysayers who will then suggest, Well, it is a mixer.


I’ll take that comment at face value because even Johnnie Walker’s website says, Made for Mixing. However, if you’ve followed me for some time, you’ll remember that I don’t do the mixer game. Whisky has to stand on its own – good, bad, or ugly to rate on the Bottle, Bar, or Bust scale. And, for the record, there are perfectly drinkable made-for-mixing whiskies that require no accompaniments.


Let’s talk about Red Label. It is the entry-level Scotch under the Johnnie Walker brand and has been in production since 1909. It is a blend of 35 malt and grain whiskies sourced from various distilleries around Scotland. It carries no age statement, and you can expect to pay about $22.99 for a 750ml package. You can find this at pretty much every liquor, grocery, and convenience store – at least in the United States.


I’ve never had Red Label before. I snagged a 50ml for about $2.99 at some random liquor store for the express purpose of a review. So, let’s #DrinkCurious and learn the truth about it.


Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Red Label was presented as golden, forming a medium-thin rim. Fat, slow tears fell back into the pool.


Nose: I smelled lemon zest, lime, and floral notes. The aroma was straightforward. When I drew the air into my mouth, there was no flavor I could identify, but it was decidedly dry. I’ll say that’s something I’ve never experienced with a whisky.


Palate:  I didn’t expect the creamy texture; I figured it would be thin. There’s a lesson for you – expect nothing and keep an open mind. Red Label had one of the most unusual palates I’ve experienced. The front was spicy and bold with freshly-cracked black pepper and cinnamon. Mid-palate offered flavors of pear, vanilla, and barley. The back featured raisin, citrus, and mild oak.


Finish:  You might expect the finish to remain fruity. Instead, the spice from the front of the palate carried into the finish. Moreover, it was slightly smoky. There was some citrus, but that was overwhelmed amongst the other flavors. The whole thing was long and lingering.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Johnnie Walker Red Label is drinkable neat. Frankly, there’s nothing wrong with it. It is a simple whisky that could work well in a cocktail with its spicy front and finish, and I’m not talking “and Coke.” Would I buy a 750ml for my whiskey library? No. For me, it lacks the depth and character I crave. Would I refuse a pour from a friend? Also, no. Red Label earns a Bar rating; it is something that would work well for the Scotch curious but would likely bore the connoisseur. 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, January 28, 2022

Smokey Joe Islay Blended Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

Blended whiskies can be a wonderful thing. Unfortunately, too many “purists” poo-poo on blends, insisting that the only way to go, at least with Scotch, is single malts. Let’s get something out of the way – single malt purists cheat themselves out of delicious experiences. Never let anyone tell you otherwise!


That’s not to say that all blends are fantastic because that’s not true. Like mediocre single malts, there are mediocre (and worse) blends that are good for stripping furniture. Blending is an art form. Those who are skilled make masterpieces. The master blender has a result in mind, and the challenge is how to get there. They may blend malts, grains, or a combination of the two.


Today I’m tasting Smokey Joe Islay Blended Malt Whisky. This means there are no grain whiskies involved. The producer, Angus Dundee, owns the Tomintoul and Glencadam distilleries. As neither are Islay operations, we know that Smokey Joe is sourced, but from whom?  Well, that’s not disclosed, and we’d be subject to guesswork if we wanted to go out on a limb. The rumor mill (a/k/a the internet) suggests either Laphroaig or Bowmore (or a blend of the two).


Smokey Joe carries no age statement, is non-chill filtered, and bottled at 46% ABV (92°). I can’t swear by it, but I believe this is a Total Wine & More exclusive under its Spirits Direct program. A 750ml package will set you back roughly $37.00.


The price is excellent but is it worth the investment? The only way to know for sure is to #DrinkCurious.  Enough jibber-jabber, let’s get on with the show.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Smokey Joe was a golden amber. It formed a thick rim that generated heavy, wavy legs that collapsed into the pool.


Nose:  It is obvious this is an Islay whisky because the aroma of sweet peat filled the room. I allowed this one to rest about ten minutes before approaching it, and then I found citrus, vanilla, honeydew melon, and seaweed. When I drew the air into my mouth, I experienced that medicinal astringent quality that many Scotches are known for.


Palate:  The initial sip provided a thin mouthfeel. But, the more I tried it, the creamier it became. It never morphed into anything weighty. The front of my palate tasted pear, honeydew, and a massive scoop of cantaloupe. As it approached the middle, that changed to smoky vanilla, pear, and lemon citrus. The back was medicinal, with smoke, seaweed, and clove.


Finish:  Medium in length with that same astringent quality, the finish included smoky peat, clove, and another heaping helping of that cantaloupe.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Smokey Joe is undoubtedly an affordable dram, but the big question is, Is it worth it?  If the Band-Aid thing makes you happy, Smokey Joe will be a winner. If that’s not your jam, you don’t even want to try this one. It has more medicinal influence than I’ve come across in several years. I can handle the astringent stuff just fine, as a complimentary note. Smokey Joe goes well beyond that. My recommendation is for you to try this one first, maybe the way I did with a 50ml taster before committing to an entire bottle, and because of that, I’m giving this one a Bar 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, December 15, 2021

The 2021 Whiskeyfellow Awards Show

It didn’t seem like too long ago when I published my 2020 Best Whiskey Awards. And yet, here we are in December. This year went by so fast! It is already time to review my 2021 awards.


I know, I know, if you’re only recently enjoying my reviews, you’re likely rolling your eyes and thinking to yourself, Oh… joy. Another list of whiskeys that I’ll never be able to taste. As the greatest clown/philosophizer said many times, Homey don’t play that!


What differentiates my “Best Of” list from most others is that mine is for the average whiskey drinker. What’s that mean? To begin with, for any whiskey to qualify for one of these awards, it must meet the following four requirements:


1.  It must have been something I’ve both tasted and reviewed this year. I don’t have a team of tasters who whittle something down for me to review. It is my palate that you put your trust in. And, as wonderful as something is, if I wrote about last year and am still drinking this year, that wouldn’t qualify for this year’s list.


2.  It must be fairly reasonable to get your hands on. I’m not suggesting that you can walk into any liquor store to find it – the three-tier distribution system makes that impossible. But, it also won’t be something you’d have to sell your soul to see in person, let alone acquire.


3.  It must be reasonably affordable. I tend to put a ceiling of $150.00 for my awarded whiskeys.


4.  It cannot be a store pick. While these are a fantastic way to taste truly unique whiskeys, the average whiskey drinker outside of the store’s or club’s locale typically can’t get their hands on a bottle.

In my opinion, the bottom line is that
for “a “Best” Of” list to have any value, it must contain whiskeys you can actually drink. Otherwise, what’s the point?


Something else I’ve never understood is how reviewers can name a Best Whisky/Whiskey of the Year way before the year is close to over (some publish theirs in September! That's why I wait until mid-December to hand out awards. I can safely say I've found my top whiskeys while still giving you some time to buy presents if you're so inclined.


I also occasionally tweak the categories. Last year, I added a Please Santa? Category. It allowed me to point out something genuinely outstanding that was either extraordinarily difficult to find or way above the average whiskey drinker’s bankroll. I added a Runner Up to each category (except Please Santa?) to highlight another excellent option this year. I'll not include links in an attempt to circumvent social media claiming my annual list is (yet again) clickbait. However, you are welcome to use the search function of my Blog to locate reviews that interest you.

This year, I reviewed somewhere in the neighborhood of 175 whiskeys. While that may seem like a lot, I've not tasted whiskeys from every available niche. If you don't see something in the category you're interested in, it means I either didn’t drink anything in that category, or if I did, I didn't find anything worthy of “a “Best” Of” award. Finally, all I care about is the liquid inside the bottle. It matters not if it is sourced or a brand's own distillate.


And now, let's get to it! Here’s the best of my #DrinkCurious journey for 2021:


Winner:  Barrell Craft Spirits Seagrass

  • Date reviewed: March 24, 2021
  • Price:  $89.99

This is probably the most unusual whiskey I’ve tried. It was sweet. It was spicy. It was earthy. The challenge became both exciting and a little frustrating. But, as I experienced the frustration, I caught myself smiling because the mystifying quality just worked for whatever reason.  

If you’re adventurous and want to really #DrinkCurious, I’m here to tell you this will stimulate the heck out of you. Of course, I’m in that camp, which means Seagrass grabs my coveted Bottle rating.


Runner up:  Cat’s Eye Distillery Nassif Family Reserve

  • Date reviewed: January 29, 2021
  • Price:  $39.99

Nassif Family Reserve is touted as something approachable for beginners yet nuanced enough for more experienced sippers. Overall, I’d have to agree, although I’m left wondering if the 107° is a tad too aggressive for newbies. Regardless, I appreciated the nice balance between sweet and spice. The price offers no real barrier to entry. Do the math, and this one winds up snagging a Bottle rating.



Winner:  Boulder Spirits American Single Malt - Peated

  • Date reviewed: August 25, 2021
  • Price:  $55.00

This is a peated American Single Malt. There are so few of these out there that they’re special just by existing. But, this one is also delightful. It is lightly smoked. It is sweet. It has flavors that naturally transition from one to another. Even if you don’t like peat, this one is something you can work with. While the cost of a bottle is about average, there’s nothing average about this whiskey. If you see it, buy it. American Single Malt - Peated is a slam-dunk Bottle rating.


Runner up:  Cedar Ridge The Quintessential American Single Malt

  • Date reviewed: June 25, 2021
  • Price:  $59.99


The QuintEssential is a stand-out. I wish more American distilleries tinkered with peat. This American Single Malt is an excellent introduction because the peat is understated compared to the rest of this whiskey. I loved the fruitiness, I enjoyed the complexity, and I wish I could find something to complain about, but I can’t. Even the price is attractive. This is what American Single Malt should be and a super-easy Bottle rating.



Winner:  Stellum Rye

  • Date reviewed: April 14, 2021
  • Price:  $54.99

I’m not a fan of anise - at all. And, yet, Stellum managed to make anise work for whatever reason. This rye is a spice bomb. If you’ve never had American Rye before but have a preconceived notion of what it would taste like, Stellum Rye fits that bill almost perfectly. 

All the various spices mingled as if they were meant to be together (even the anise). The $54.99 price is more than fair, especially when you consider this is barrel-proof. I’m happy to convey my coveted Bottle rating for it.

Runner up:  Coalition Whiskey Margaux Barriques

  • Date reviewed: January 27, 2021
  • Price:  $89.99

Coalition Margaux Barriques was, simply put, elegant. I’ve had several wine-finished whiskeys, and this one is a stand-out. The whiskey is a quality base, and the wine barrels were top-notch before the two even interacted. There was absolutely nothing not to like from nose to finish. Even the mouthfeel was luxurious. The fancy decanter was unnecessary - this could be packaged in a mason jar, and I would still not have any problem dropping $90.00 on it. Obviously, this grabs my coveted Bottle rating.



Winner:  Remus Repeal Reserve V

  • Date reviewed: July 19, 2021
  • Price:  $89.99


Everything about this Bourbon was delicious. But strange as this may sound, the luxurious mouthfeel eclipsed all that. This was easily the best batch of Remus Repeal Reserve I’ve had, the price is right, and I love the fact it is pretty easy to get your hands on. This is a slam-dunk Bottle rating. If I had, say, a Case rating, this would take that.


Runner up: Blood Oath Pact 7

  • Date reviewed: April 26, 2021
  • Price:  $99.99

All the Blood Oath Pacts are unique from one another, and of the (now) four I’ve reviewed, I’ve yet to find a cadaver. While Rempe won’t ever pony up his recipes, he knows what he’s doing. The more I sip this one, the more I enjoy it. I give props to Lux Row for keeping the price the same over the years and am happy to have this one in my library. Pick up a Bottle; you won’t be disappointed.



Winner: Paul John Christmas Edition 2021

  • Date reviewed: November 5, 2021
  • Price:  $84.99 

This is everything Christmas should be. It is sweet, smoky, and savory, and the flavors blend stupendously with one another. The fact that I only had a 50ml is heartbreaking because this whisky is stunning. The good news is that in my area Paul John Christmas Editions aren’t too difficult to come by, and I’ll track a Bottle down to earn a coveted place in my whiskey library.

Runner up:  M&H Elements Peated

  • Date reviewed: January 22, 2021
  • Price:  $65.00

The Elements Peated did an admirable job of reminding me of an Islay Scotch while still offering something a bit different. While not as heavily peated, if you told me that Ardbeg was the distiller, I’d accept it as gospel and wouldn’t balk at the price at all. The fact that it isn’t Ardbeg makes it even more intriguing, and as far as a rating goes, I’m sold!  M&H Elements Peated takes a no-brainer Bottle rating. 


 Winner:  Blue Spot

  • Date reviewed: October 8, 2021
  • Price:  $100.00

This is one dangerous whiskey. At no point did I recognize the proof. But, it sure recognized me. It came at me like a wave; I could feel the flush in my head. Despite that, I enjoyed every iota of Blue Spot. Is it worth $100.00? Yeah, it is. It also earned my Bottle rating, and if there were something higher, it would take that, too.

Runner up:  Jameson Black Barrel

  • Date reviewed: December 1, 2021
  • Price:  $34.99

This is very likely the best $7.00 I’ve spent on a bottle of whiskey. I have no idea why this was on the store’s clearance rack, but I’m thankful for the opportunity. I loved everything about Jameson Black Barrel except for one thing. I really adored the finish and wanted it to last longer. Now, as far as a $34.99 bottle goes, I’d still rank it a Bottle all day long.



Winner: Ardbeg Wee Beastie

  • Date reviewed: April 28, 2021
  • Price:  $39.99

It is difficult to see a bottle of Ardbeg at this price and ignore it, youthful or not. Some distillers have that sort of magical power, and I’m not talking hype. Wee Beastie doesn’t disappoint with its smoky punch, character, and distinct mouthfeel. Not only do I think this was a good purchase, but I believe it is a steal. Wee Beastie is an absolute Bottle rating.

Runner up:  Kilchoman Sanaig

  • Date reviewed:  December 6, 2021
  • Price:  $70.00

Sanaig was one of those mind-blowing whiskies. The nose and palate were amazingly complicated but also managed to 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.



Winner:  Paul John Mithuna

  • Date reviewed: April 2, 2021
  • Price:  $300.00

I gave this away already, but I’m confident in my Bottle rating. Mrs. Whiskeyfellow gave this a sip and was blown away. Frankly, so was I. I cannot understand how aging something in virgin oak and ex-Bourbon casks equals a nuclear sherry explosion in every aspect of the whisky. If you want a complex nose, Mithuna has it. If you desire a crazy-good palate, Mithuna will deliver. If you seek an Energizer Bunny finish, Mithuna will satisfy that desire. If you’ve got $300.00 to invest in a beautiful pour, this should be what you spend it on.



And that, my friends, leaves one final order of business to conduct. Which of those named best in their respective classes is my Whiskey of the Year? Everything that I've listed was unique. However, only one can be king, and the crown goes to the King of Bootleggers, Remus Repeal Reserve V.


Congratulations to the distillers who made this year's cream of the crop. Cheers! 


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