Showing posts with label port. Show all posts
Showing posts with label port. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Glen Moray The Classic Single Malt Collection Review & Tasting Notes


Glen Moray is one of those brands often found on the bottom shelf of a liquor store. That in itself can be off-putting to some and instead gravitate to prettier labels and more impressive price tags. Glen Moray screams out to me as something that needs to be tested to see if it can be crowned with my coveted #RespectTheBottomShelf label.

 

This Speyside distillery has a storied history. It began as the Elgin West Brewery, until 1897 when its first spirits still was installed. On September 13, 1897, the distillery filled its first barrel with a 100% locally-grown barley distillate.  World War I became reality, and the distillery was mothballed until 1923. It was purchased by Macdonald & Muir, the company that eventually became Glenmorangie.

 

In the 1950s, it purchased the Gallowcrook Farm, which was the farm that grew the barley that went into that first batch of Glen Moray. It also invested heavily in expanding the distillery and warehouses to increase production. Then, in 1999, it became one of the earliest Scottish distilleries to finish whiskies in wine barrels – specifically Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc casks.

 

In 2008, Glenmorangie sold Glen Moray to La Martiniquaise, which remains its current owner. In 2014, it launched the Classic Collection and shortly thereafter was the first in Scotland to finish whisky in Cabernet Sauvignon casks.

 

I’ve had an opportunity to try four of the whiskies from the Classic Collection:  The Classic Single Malt, Classic Sherry Cask Finish, Classic Cabernet Sauvignon Cask Finish, and Classic Port Cask Finish.

 

Before I #DrinkCurious, I’d like to thank Glen Moray for providing me samples of each in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.

 

Classic Single Malt

 

First up is The Classic Single Malt. This one is 40% ABV (80°) and carries no age statement, and was aged completely in former Bourbon barrels. There is no indication if there is any e150a coloring added or if it is chill-filtered. You can expect to pay about $27.99 for a 750ml bottle.

 

Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, this Scotch was the color of pale gold. I can’t see this one having any caramel coloring to it, or if it does, it doesn’t show. It formed a thinner rim that offered medium-weighted, long legs that fell back to the pool.

 

Nose:  The aromas were sweet and fruity, which is almost expected for a Speyside whisky. Melon, grapefruit, green apple, vanilla, and malt competed for attention. As I drew the air into my mouth, that melon defined itself as honeydew.

 

Palate:  The mouthfeel was buttery with a medium body. The front was fruity with apple, grapefruit, and lime zest. The middle featured English toffee and honeysuckle, while the back had flavors of almond, vanilla, and toasted oak.

 

Finish:  Short and unassuming, the finish was made of caramel, vanilla cream, toffee, grapefruit, and lime. There was no astringent quality, everything was crisp and flavorful.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The Classic was nice and simple. There wasn’t a ton of depth to it, and in this case, that’s fine. This is such an easy-to-drink whisky that could be something to savor on a hot, summer’s day. I would highly recommend this for someone who has heard all of the distasteful things that a Scotch can be because this has none of that. When I take the price into account, this becomes very attractive, and as such, takes my Bottle rating.

 

Classic Sherry Cask Finish

 

The Classic Sherry Cask Finish is The Classic that has been finished for a handful of months in Oloroso sherry casks from Jerez, Spain. It still weighs in at 40% ABV (80°) and states nothing about e150a, chill filtration, or age. This is understandably priced higher at about $36.99.

 

Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, this sherry expression was brassier in color. It formed a very thick rim that led to watery, fast legs.

 

Nose:  Raisin, apricot, citrus, and melon gave this Scotch a fruity nose, which is expected with a sherry finish. Nutmeg and oak were also present. When I inhaled the vapor through my lips, the raisin became more identifiable as a golden varietal.

 

Palate:  I found the mouthfeel to be thinner than the Elgin Classic, but still retained the buttery quality. The front of the palate featured dark chocolate, apricot, raisin, and green apple. It was different to have the chocolate dominate the fruit with a sherry finish. The middle offered honeysuckle and grass. On the back, I tasted oak, nutmeg, and molasses. 

 

Finish: The finish was a mile longer than the original. I discovered vanilla, apricot, nutmeg, oak, and, rounding things out, dark chocolate.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’m a fan of sherry bombs, and while I liked this pour, I wish it spent more time in the sherry casks (that or bottled at 43%). I found the potential was slightly diminished. Like The Classic, this went down easily, there was nothing to offend an inexperienced Scotch drinker. It should be noted that $35.00 would take it out of the bottom-shelf category of Scotches. I liked this Scotch and I’m giving this one a Bottle rating.

 

Classic Cabernet Sauvignon Cask Finish

 

The Classic Cabernet Sauvignon Cask Finish is, again, the same as The Classic, but this time finished for an undisclosed number of months in former Cabernet Sauvignon casks. As discussed in the introduction, Glen Moray was the first Scotch distillery to utilize these casks for finishing. It, too, is bottled at 40% ABV (80°) and carries no age statement. A 750ml package will cost about $27.99.

 

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this whisky presented as brassy-gold, a few shades darker than the Sherry Cask Finish. A medium-to-heavy rim was followed by slow, sticky legs.

 

Nose:  An aroma of raw honey softened to blueberry, plum, and green apple. When I breathed the vapor into my mouth, that honey was easy to identify.

 

Palate:  I found the mouthfeel to be thin and oily. The palate started as vanilla and honey, which was followed by blueberry pie filling. The middle held only honey, while the back offered flavors of charred oak, very dark chocolate, and clove.

 

Finish: The clove continued through the entire finish. Dark chocolate, blueberry, and oak appeared midway. As far as duration is concerned, it was short-to-medium, and I found it a bit dry.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’ve had some cabernet sauvignon finished whiskies before, they’ve all been American, and I enjoyed them. With a Scotch, I’m questioning that. Mind you, I’m a huge fan of chocolate, blueberry, and clove. But, for whatever reason, this whisky did not wow me. I don’t think it is bad, it just seems disjointed. I’m conferring my Bar rating on it.

 

Classic Port Cask Finish

 

Port-finished Scotches seem to be all the rage now. Port is a fortified wine that must come from the Douro Valley region of Portugal. That’s not to say that there aren’t port-like wines from outside of Portugal, rather, they just can’t legally be called “Port.” The Classic is finished a few months in casks from Porto Cruz, which is one of the most sought-after Port wines. It carries no age statement, and like the others, is bottled at 40% ABV. You can expect to pay about $27.99 for a 750ml bottle.

 

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this whisky was the color of a new copper penny. A thin rim resulted in medium-weighted legs that dropped slowly to the pool.

 

Nose:  The Port influence was obvious, with an aroma of fig, date, plum, raisin, and oak. When I inhaled it through my lips, fig and raisin kept coming.

 

Palate:  An oily, thin mouthfeel led to a fruity, dry palate. It began with date, raisin, and lemon zest. Next up were caramel, chocolate, and leather. The back featured tobacco, oak, vanilla, and powdered cinnamon.

 

Finish:  Leather and dark chocolate continued into the finish, which was joined with date, plum, and raisin. Leather continued past everything else until a brief kiss of cranberry came from nowhere and vanished. The entire finish had a medium duration that I wished lasted longer.

 

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This is a $28.00 Scotch? For real? The only thing I could complain about is the length of the finish. I loved the Port Finish. This one takes a Bottle rating all day long! 

 

 

Final Thoughts:  Overall, I enjoyed these budget Scotch whiskies. What was interesting was the order I’d rank them in, with the Cabernet Sauvignon Finish, which Glen Moray pioneered, as my least favorite. The one I enjoyed the best was the Port Cask Finish, followed by The Classic, and the third, the Sherry Cask Finish.



Glen Moray deserves respect. It has sure earned mine and grabbed my #RespectTheBottomShelf honor. 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, March 12, 2021

The GlenDronach 18th Batch Cask Bottling Reviews & Tasting Notes

 


I've come to respect Dr. Rachel Barrie. She's the Master Blender of The GlenDronach, The BenRiach, and Glenglassaugh distilleries. I've been blessed with some amazing opportunities to taste selections from the first two - I've yet to try the latter. Regardless, Dr. Barrie has proven to me she knows what she is doing and doesn't fool around when it comes to whisky.


The GlenDronach is a distillery in Scottland's Highland region. Established in 1826, it is one of the oldest licensed distilleries. The distillery concentrates heavily on aging its whiskies in former sherry casks as well as craft casks.


The most recent release is their Cask Bottling Series, called The 18th Batch. The release is comprised of eighteen casks selected by Dr. Barrie for their unique character and representations of what the distillery has to offer. Four of those casks have been released in the United States:  2008 Cask #3017, aged 12 years, 2005 Cask #1928, aged 14 years, 1994 Cask #5287, aged 26 years, and 1993 Cask #7102, aged 27 years.


The GlenDronach Cask Bottling Batch 18 is a celebration of the distillery’s time-honored mastery and a showcase of the finest of what this richly-sherried Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky has to offer.


This long-standing, much-loved release is a focal point to each year, demonstrating the exquisite character of our whiskies, through these exceptional casks which I have carefully hand-selected. Each cask individually explores the sophistication, powerful intricacy, and rich layers of Spanish sherry cask maturation found in every expression of The GlenDronach." - Dr. Barrie

The four are all naturally-colored and non-chill filtered. I've had a chance to try each, and am combining them into a single, four-part review. Before I get started, I'd like to thank The GlenDronach for providing the samples in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let's #DrinkCurious.



2008 Cask #3017





This single malt has been aged 12 years in a former Olorosso sherry cask, filled in the late summer to take advantage of the peak interaction of the newmake and sherry.  It is bottled at 59.8% ABV (119.6°). There was a yield of 628 bottles with a suggested retail price of $120.00.


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, 1994 presented as a golden amber color. It offered a thinner rim, but thick, slow legs that fell back to the pool. 


Nose:  Aromas of raisin, nutmeg, caramel, and nuts were easy to pick out. Beneath those were plum and dark chocolate. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, sherry notes were evident.


Palate:  Full-bodied and oily, I tasted thick honey, orange marmalade, and raisin on the front. At mid-palate, I discovered a blend of nutmeg and chocolate. On the back, the chocolate continued and was joined with fig and oak.


Finish:  Long, sweet, and dry, the finish consisted of mint, raisin, candied orange slices, fig, oak, and dry sherry.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  For about $120, we're scratching the ceiling of 12-year Scotch. But, not when you take into account the proof. Sherry notes abound, Cask #3017 does nothing to mask it and, in fact, shines a spotlight on it. Folks that crave sherry-bombs are going to drool. Folks who are new to Highland Scotch might as well.  I left happy, and this snags my Bottle rating.



2005 Cask #1928






Aged 14 years in a former Pedro Ximénex cask before being dumped and bottled, Dr. Barrie suggests the PX sherry influences both the light and dark aspects of the whisky. Packaged at 58% ABV (116°), there are 612 bottles available for about $150.00 each.


Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, this single-malt had the color of golden honey. It formed a medium-thick rim with sticky drops. Those eventually gave way to heavy, slow legs.


Nose:  As if there was a theme, honey was the first thing picked up by my nose. The smells of blackberry, cinnamon, raisin, dried cherry, ginger, and dark chocolate were unmistakable. When I inhaled through my lips, black cherry rolled across my tongue.


Palate:  Despite the only two-year difference between this and the 2008 cask, the mouthfeel was incredibly thick.  On the front, flavors of cherry, plum, and molasses hit hard. The middle was milder with raisin, honey, and mint. Then, on the back, blackberry danced with dark chocolate and vanilla cream.


Finish:  Long and dry, Cask #1928 featured oak, dark chocolate, mint, raisin, and cherry.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  PX sherry cask Scotch is generally easy to appreciate as it is big on the sweet fruits.  Cask #1928 goes a step beyond that with its finish, adding a whole new dimension to what's expected. I was shocked at how easy this was to sip despite its high ABV.  Dry did not equal burn. Priced fairly for its age and proof, I find no barricade for a Bottle recommendation.



1994 Cask #5287





This cask was a former Ruby Port pipe sourced from the Douro Valley region of Portugal. 1994 was a small distillation year for The GlenDronach, making this cask even more limited. Only 638 bottles are available at 51.3% ABV (102.6°), with a suggested retail of $415.00.


Appearance:  Presenting as the color of golden chestnut, the rim was broad with slow, plump legs that crawled back to the whisky. 


Nose:  The Port wine influence was indisputable. Plum and cherry jam blended with coffee, truffle, and molasses. Beneath those was butterscotch.  When I pulled the fumes across my palate, the earthy notes of truffle continued.


Palate:  I found the mouthfeel to be thick, jammy, and luxurious. On the front, I tasted cherry, raisin, and plum. The middle offered dark chocolate, caramel, and roasted walnuts. Then, on the back, flavors of coffee, truffles, and dry oak rounded things out.


Finish:  If you like freight-train finishes, this doesn't disappoint. Several minutes afterward, it kept chugging along. There were earthy truffles, smoky oak, deep, dark chocolate, and nuts.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  One of the cool things is when a whisky doesn't give you a chance to forget about it. The finish never ends. There's no getting distracted and struggling to recall what you've poured. Cask #5287 is like a Vulcan mind-meld. You're stuck with it. Thankfully, it is delicious. The palate wasn't overly complicated which, again, allowed me to relish this whisky. It scores a Bottle rating. 



1993 Cask #7102




Aged for a whopping 27 years in an Oloroso sherry cask, this single malt is the obvious oldest of the bunch. At 51.4% ABV (102.8°), there is a premium for the additional year - it will set you back about $600.00. There are only 633 bottles produced.


Appearance:  After forming a very heavy rim on my Glencairn glass, husky legs raced back to the whiskey.  The color was deep and dark, almost like maple syrup.


Nose:  There was so much that went on here. Molasses, chocolate-covered cherries, cinnamon, ginger, strawberry jam, orange marmalade, raisin, and spiced rum... have you ever had good fruitcake? That's what came to mind as I got lost in the aroma. I also encountered berry cobbler. When I breathed in through my mouth, orange marmalade and plum tangoed across the palate.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was full-bodied and weighty. Date, molasses, and honey mead hit the front. The middle ponied up dark chocolate, black cherry, and raisin. On the back, I tasted oak, dark chocolate, and honey.


Finish:  The finish simply would not quit. Dark chocolate, date, dry oak, black cherry, and spiced plum stuck around with smoke intermingling between each sensation. By smoke, I want to be clear this was not peat.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I'll be frank. There is absolutely nothing not to like about Cask #7102. Flavors were bold but didn't trample over one another. I fell in love with the mouthfeel, and, oh, that nose! This one's just a fantastic, beautiful whisky that I can't say enough good things about, earning it a Bottle recommendation.


Final Thoughts:  While all four were special, I believe the two stand-outs were the 2005 and 1993 casks. The two youngest casks I considered value against what I was tasting. But, once you start getting into the 26- and 27-year Scotches, the prices get steep, but remember, you're also paying for something that is rare. This helped me get past my usual value statement that I do with most others and it became less of a consideration.


None of these whiskies are peated, and none had that astringent (Band-Aid) quality that some folks find unappealing. Despite their higher proofs, they were all easy sippers and while I tried them with water to satisfy my curiosity, it wasn't necessary and my tasting notes are based on all-neat pours.


I'm not sure where you could go wrong with any of the four, but my order top to bottom would be 1993, 2005, 1994, then 2008.  Cheers!


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

Monday, November 16, 2020

The GlenDronach Port Wood Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes

 




These days several distilleries are finishing whiskey in port casks. Finishing is fine in practice, and I'm generally a fan - not just when a former port cask is used, but most types of finishing. I enjoy seeing (rather, tasting) how whiskey can be changed by having it rest for a few months in a different cask. It is fun to taste the original and the finished whiskeys side-by-side.


Today I'm reviewing Port Wood by The GlenDronach. Port Wood is a single malt from Scotland's Highland region. It started as a tribute to the 19th century when Scotland was importing casked port wine. Port is a fortified wine, meaning it is blended with a portion of distilled spirit, usually brandy. It comes from the Douro Valley region of Portugal. It has a rather high ABV content, 20% or more, versus non-fortified wine, which ranges between 9% and 15%. Port is typically aged in very large casks, called pipes, that are 600 liters (about 127 US gallons). 


But, Rachel Barrie, the Master Blender of The GlenDronach, wanted to do something different. Instead of merely finishing Scotch in port pipes, she went for the full monty and aged the whiskey in the pipes. That was blended with Scotches aged in Olorosso and Pedro Ximénez (PX) sherry casks. To be clear, all three types were aged singly and, once matured, married. Olorosso is typically a dry sherry, offering nutty flavors. PX sherry, on the other hand, is made from sun-dried grapes and is normally thick and sweet. The pipes Barrie used formerly held both tawny and ruby ports. Tawny will often be aged long-term, whereas ruby would characteristically spend two years or less in wood. 


And now, we cycle back to Port Wood. The 2020 release carries no age statement (versus the previous release having a ten-year). It is made from 100% malted barley and after aging, it retains its natural color and is unfiltered. Packaged at 46% ABV (or 92°), you can expect to pay about $89.00 for a 750ml bottle. It shouldn't be overly difficult to locate as it enjoys nationwide US distribution.


Before I get to the tasting notes, I'd like to thank The GlenDronach for providing me a sample of Port Wood in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. It is time to #DrinkCurious!


Appearance: In my Glencairn glass, Port Wood presented as a rich, orange-amber. It created a thicker rim and left sticky, fat legs on the wall of my glass. Those took their time to crawl back to the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose: A commanding aroma of plum hit my nostrils first. Once I got used to it, raisin, cherry, and strawberry kept the fruit theme going, which then surrendered to honey and, finally, chocolate. When I inhaled the vapor through my lips, I found raisin and ginger.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was initially thin, but quickly became buttery and coating. Black cherry and milk chocolate caressed the front of my palate.  As it moved to the middle, flavors of plum and blackberry joined with cocoa powder and orange peel. Then, on the back, I tasted red grape, date, and dry oak.


Finish: I found the finish to be warm and long-lasting, with more of that dry oak, ginger, cocoa powder, orange peel, and plum. 


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I've tasted several expressions of The GlenDronach this year, and this one is my favorite of the affordable choices (it isn't the Kingsman, but it also isn't $1300 a bottle). Port Wood is complex enough where I had to concentrate on what was going on, otherwise, I feared I'd miss something. Conversely, if I was just sipping on my deck, I believe I could relax and lose myself in the moment. There really is nothing not to like, including the price. Do the math and that's the equation of a Bottle recommendation. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It