Showing posts with label sherry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sherry. Show all posts

Monday, May 9, 2022

Glengoyne 10 Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


There are only a handful of distilleries out there that can claim to be truly unique. I’m not talking about the whisky; my point is the distillery itself. When discussing Scotch whisky, an inarguably different distillery is Glengoyne.


Founded in 1833 in Dumgoyne, the distillery is a divided one. Half of it, where the stills are located, is in Scotland’s Highland region. On the other hand, the warehouses are located in the Lowland region. The Highland Line, the border that divides the two, runs right through this distillery!


Forgetting geographical uniqueness, something special exists with its distillation process. Glengoyne is known for having the slowest stills in all of Scotland. Fermentation takes roughly 56 hours, and the stills keep the distillate in contact with copper longer with its boil bulbs. The distillery is one of a couple that still uses Golden Promise barley, a strain that is more difficult to grow, offers a small yield, yet is revered for its quality.


Another aspect is that Glengoyne uses no peat in its malting process. In the Highland region, even distilleries that don’t use peat to dry the barley have some minuscule amount of peat from the air, but Glengoyne’s ppm is at zero.


Glengoyne has run continuously since its opening. George Connell first owned it under the name Burnfoot Distillery, then sold it to the MacLelland family, who, in 1876, sold it to Lang Brothers. The Langs held it for 90 years, renamed the distillery Glengoyne in 1905, and later sold it to what is now Edrington Group. Edrington considered Glengoyne to be excess to its needs and, in 2003, Ian Macleod purchased it and has owned it ever since.


Glengoyne’s flagship expression is Glengoyne 10. Because of where the stills are located, it is considered a Highland Single Malt, made from that Golden Promise barley and aged at least a decade in a combination of former Bourbon barrels and European Sherry butts. The whisky is non-chill filtered, naturally colored, and packaged at 43% ABV (86°). I picked up my 750ml bottle for $37.99.


Did I do well with my purchase? The only way to know for sure is to #DrinkCurious.  


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Scotch was brassy gold. A medium-thick rim almost refused to give up anything, finally releasing slow, fat droplets that glued to the wall.


Nose: An aroma of apple cider flowed freely before I could even get the glass to my face. Raisin, apricot, honey, and almond were dead giveaways to the sherry cask influence. When I inhaled through my lips, the honey continued across my tongue.


Palate: A creamy, medium-bodied mouthfeel started things off. There was nothing that anyone could describe as “hot” about it. Apple, apricot, and honey were on the front, while cocoa powder and almonds formed the middle. The back consisted of oak, nutmeg, and dry hay.


Finish: Oak spice, nutmeg, dry hay, almond, and honey remained for a medium-length finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  There are summer days when I want to sit on my back deck and drink something light and refreshing. Glengoyne 10 is perfect for that occasion. Sans the peat-craver, there’s something here for any Scotch-lover: lots of fruity goodness, significant sherry influence, a touch of spice, a lovely texture, and even those who are price-conscious in this economy yet demand a quality pour. If you’ve not yet figured it out, Glengoyne 10 grabs my coveted Bottle rating and runs away with 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, April 13, 2022

The GlenDronach Cask Bottling Batch 19 Single Malt Scotch Reviews

It isn’t often that I get to sip older Scotch whiskies. When I do, it is usually due to the generosity of friends who, like all good whisky ambassadors, believe that whisky is meant for sharing, and they make that happen.


Once a year, The GlenDronach rolls out a batch of its Scotches referred to as The Cask Bottlings. These aren’t your average Highland whiskies; instead, these tend to fall into the ancient category. They’re all single malts, naturally colored and non-chill filtered, and the distillery is renowned for its use of high-quality Spanish sherry casks in the aging process. The 2022 release is referred to as Batch 19.


“The GlenDronach Cask Bottling Batch 19 offers an insight into our sherry cask maturation history and the exceptional quality of the casks we have at The GlenDronach. I have personally chosen these casks to celebrate and share the very best of the distillery’s character. Each represents the rich selection of barrels, Hogsheads, Puncheons and Butts that have been used throughout The GlenDronach’s history. This release reflects our enduring commitment to crafting the most exceptional, richly sherried Single Malts representative of The GlenDronach’s rare dedication to its craft, embodied in every expression.”Dr. Rachel Barrie, Master Blender


Batch 19 consists of three different casks:  Cask 5080 (1994), Cask 6052 (1992), and Cask 217 (1992). 


I want to thank The GlenDronach for providing me samples of the three in exchange for no-strings-attached, honest reviews. Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious.


First up is Cask 5080. Aged 27 years, this single malt Scotch rested in a former Oloroso sherry puncheon. It yielded 667 bottles packaged at 54.3% ABV (108.6°). While you’ll find this on some store shelves in AZ, CO, DE, DC, IL, FL, MD, MN, MD, NV, and SC, you should expect to spend at least $600.00.


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Cask 5080 looked like burnt umber. A medium-thick rim formed long, wide legs.


Nose: A fruity aroma of fig, raisin, date, cranberry, and vanilla cream started the journey. It was joined by toasted walnut, and when I drew the vapor into my mouth, a wave of cherry vanilla caressed my tongue.


Palate: The silky texture featured fig, black cherry, and caramel on the front of my palate, while sweet pipe tobacco, orange zest, and cherry cola were on the middle. The back offered old oak, clove, and dark chocolate.


Finish:  Pipe tobacco, dark chocolate, fig, clove, and dry oak remained for a long, lingering finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Cask 5080 is, in a word, stunning. The nose was enticing, the mouthfeel rich, and the combination of flavors complimented one another as if they were designed to do so. I can’t help but give it a Bottle rating.

Adding another year, the next Scotch is Cask 6052. I’m assuming it aged a few months shy of 28 years in a former Pedro Ximénez sherry puncheon. There are 658 bottles available at 50.8% ABV (101.6°), and the suggested retail is $720.00.  Availability is limited to CA, ID, IN, KY, LA, NM, NC, ND, NE, MT, OH, OK, OR, TX, UT, WA, and WY.


Appearance: A deep, caramel color filled my Glencairn glass. It took an effort to create an ultra-thin rim. It generated sticky legs that crawled back to the pool of whisky.


Nose: I found cherry, plum, fig, strawberry, and red grape entwined with dark chocolate and oak. English toffee rolled across my tongue when I inhaled through my lips.


Palate: A medium-weight, silky mouthfeel released flavors of sweet vanilla, orange, and apricot on the front of my palate. Espresso and tobacco leaf fell on the middle, while dark chocolate, oak, and a kiss of caramel were on the back.


Finish: French oak, dark chocolate, and espresso remained for a long, steady finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  While the nose was fruity, the palate was far less so. The spice notes dominated. I frankly didn’t expect that from a PX cask – the sweeter notes were anticipated. I don’t mean to imply that I didn’t enjoy Cask 6052; I was merely caught off-guard. Age allowed the spiciness to be mellow, keeping it from becoming a punch. I can see this whisky being particularly attractive to fans of mature American rye whiskeys (and I fall into that category). A Bottle rating is warranted.  

The final whisky is the oldest: Cask 217. It spent a whopping 29 years in an Oloroso sherry butt. Only 383 bottles were filled, and as you can imagine, its distribution is much smaller. GA, MA, NY, and NJ were the handful that can sell it for the suggested $820.00 price. You’re getting 55.4% ABV (110.8°) for that investment.


Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Cask 217 looked like maple syrup. Not the artificial stuff you buy at the grocery store, but real syrup from places like Vermont. The thick rim made husky legs.


Nose:  A bouquet of plum, raisin, leather, and fudge tickled my olfactory sense. Plum plowed through as I pulled the air into my mouth.


Palate: Whereas the previous two whiskies had silky textures, Cask 217 was oily. The uncomplicated palate started with dark chocolate and nutmeg on the front. The middle featured rum raisin and black cherry. The back was an interesting blend of leather, oak, and fresh ginger.


Finish:  Remember the fudge from the nose? That came out from nowhere like an angry bull let loose for San Fermin. There were oak tannins, nutmeg, old leather, and cherry mixed with that fudge.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I appreciate how simple the palate of this Scotch was. That finish was mind-blowing. I happily convey a Bottle rating for the finish alone.


Final Thoughts:  For the three whiskies of Batch 19, my recommendations purposefully ignored price. Why? Because I don’t purchase whiskies in this price range. That doesn’t mean you (or someone you know) don’t. Experiencing something the caliber of Batch 19 is a rare opportunity, and the only thing I took into account were the aromas, flavors, and finish.


Of the three, my favorite pour was Cask 5080, which happened to be the youngest. The second was the elderly Cask 217, and the third was, of course, Cask 6052. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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


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


Monday, April 4, 2022

Thomas S. Moore Extended Finish Bourbon Reviews & Tasting Notes (2022 Release)


At the end of 2020, Barton 1792 Distillery released its first expressions of Thomas S. Moore Bourbons. It featured “extended” cask finished whiskeys, meaning instead of barrel-finishing for weeks or months, Thomas S. Moore Bourbons are finished for years.


But wait, what’s finishing mean? When you take a fully-matured whiskey, remove it from the barrel it was aged in, and transfer the contents to another barrel, that additional aging is finishing. That finishing barrel could be brand new, or it could have contained pretty much anything else, including other whiskeys, Tobasco sauce, coffee beans, beer, etc. Just let your mind go wild.


In late 2020, Thomas S. Moore’s finishes included Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Port casks. You can read all about them in my review from January 2021. 


In 2022, second releases consist of Madiera, Merlot, Sherry, and Cognac casks, which we’ll explore today. Each expression begins with the high-rye recipe, aged between five and six years in new, charred oak barrels.

“This second Thomas S. Moore release really reinforces that the extended aging is quite significant. What we are seeing are complex, fuller textures being developed. Savory flavors and aromas are unquestionably enhanced and continue to develop in the secondary cask in ways that are very different from the primary barrel aging. The result is an elevated, premium collection unlike any other.”Danny Kahn, Master Distiller


Each finish is packaged at a different proof, but all are available in 750ml bottles for $69.99 each. Before I get started on the tasting notes and ratings, I thank Barton 1792 for providing me with samples of all four in exchange for no-strings-attached, honest reviews.


And now, let’s #DrinkCurious!


The Madiera Finish will be the first of the four. This Bourbon was transferred to the Madiera casks, where it mingled between two and four years with the wine-soaked wood. It is packaged at 96.5°.


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, the Madiera finish presented as deep caramel. A medium-to-thick rim released slow, sticky legs that eventually fell back to the pool.


Nose: An exciting aroma of cedar, oak, dry tobacco, lemon peel, and raisin started the show, and when I inhaled through my mouth, only the tobacco came through.


Palate:  I found the texture both oily and airy. Flavors of plum, lemon zest, and sweet corn were on the front, and as the liquid moved to the middle, I tasted leather, tobacco, and raisin. On the back, the raisin blended with charred oak and green peppercorn.


Finish:  The medium finish offered more green peppercorn, joined by leather, dry tobacco, clove, oak, and a touch of lemon zest.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  While I liked the Madeira finished Bourbon, something was missing from it that I just can’t put my palate on aside from a lack of cohesiveness. I could have been looking for more nut and caramel flavors representative of the fortified wine. Regardless, for $69.99, I believe this is one to try at a Bar before committing to the investment.


Second in line is the Merlot Finish Bourbon, which rested between two and four years in the Merlot wine cask before being diluted to 93.3°.


Appearance: The Merlot finished Bourbon was more of an orange amber than I would have anticipated in my Glencairn glass. It formed a medium-thick rim that yielded fast legs.


Nose: Thick, rich caramel, vanilla, and heavier black cherry and ripe plum notes lulled me to a daydream. I could be happy just sniffing without ever having to taste it; the nose was heavenly. Raspberry and blackberry caressed my tongue when I pulled the air into my mouth.


Palate: The mouthfeel was light and crisp, leading to cherries and plums. The middle featured a single note of caramel, while the back had flavors of dry oak, tobacco, and black pepper.


Finish:  My mind drifted off as I was reminiscing about the nose, and when I started to pay attention, black cherry and vanilla brought me back to reality. Black pepper and dry oak offered some pucker power. Medium in length, it blew a kiss of caramel at the end.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I truly enjoyed the Merlot finish, everything from the nosing to the final caramel kiss. I don’t often get lost in thought, but this Bourbon made me fantasize about sweet orchard fruits. The palate wasn’t complex, but what was there was enchanting. I’d rate this one a Bottle without any hesitation.

Next up is the Sherry Finish. What type of Sherry casks were selected is not disclosed. However, I’d suspect it to be Oloroso per my notes below. The finishing period was between one and four years and packaged at 98.7°.


Appearance: The lovely chestnut color was eye-catching in my Glencairn glass. A medium rim led to fast, thick legs, which crashed back to the pool.


Nose: An aroma comprised of fig, prune, apricot, pecan, almond, and vanilla teased my olfactory sense. As I breathed it into my mouth, the fig continued.


Palate: The mouthfeel was soft and creamy. At the front of my palate, I picked out dark chocolate, toffee, and almond, while the middle featured raisin, dried cherry, and plum. The back offered tobacco leaf, dry oak, pecan, and hazelnut.


Finish:  A short-to-medium finish left behind flavors of tobacco leaf, dry oak, nuts, chocolate, and raisins.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: For the most part, I savor sherry-bomb whiskeys, especially Scotch. And, the Sherry finish version came darned close to some interior Highland whiskies aged in Sherry casks. Did I enjoy this? Yes. Would I pay $69.99 for it? I’m not convinced. Therefore, I’ll give this one a Bar rating.


The final expression is a Cognac finish. Like the Sherry finish, Barton 1792 doesn’t share what kind of Cognac casks were selected; however, it took between two and four years before they were deemed complete and offered at 93.4°.


Appearance: This Bourbon appeared as the color of roasted almonds. It is, by far, the lightest brown of the four. A thick rim with slow, jagged tears fell down the wall of my Glencairn glass.


Nose: The smells of lime, lemon, and orange zests wafted out, then morphed to cherry, apricot, and raisin. I also experienced floral notes, possibly from the rye content. A blast of apricot crossed my tongue as I drew the air into my mouth.


Palate:  A heavy, very creamy texture delivered vanilla, orange zest, lemon zest, and sweet apricot to the front of my palate. As it moved across my tongue, I tasted almond and mushroom on the middle, while the back became spicy with dry oak, black pepper, and clove.


Finish:  The boldest finish of the four belonged to this Cognac-finished Bourbon (and, frankly, expected). It wasn’t the longest, but what it brought to the table was impressive. Vanilla, mushroom, and dry oak accompanied black pepper, clove, and old leather.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I’ve had many Cognac-finished whiskeys before, and there were some familiar notes on the nose and palate. They’re also similarly priced. This one was delicious, and the best part, in my opinion, is that bold finish. I’d drop $69.99 on it and recommend a Bottle rating.

Final Thoughts: If you’re looking for a Bourbon-tasting Bourbon, none of these Thomas S. Moore expressions will satisfy you. Most of the Bourbon characteristics have been “finished out” during the extended contact with the various vintage barrels. As I alluded to in the Sherry finish review, they’re more of a Scotch-drinker’s Bourbon. For me, that’s not a bad thing – I love all types of Scotch. But if you’re not into Speyside and Highland whiskies, these may be too much for you. If asked to state my favorite, it would be the Merlot finish. 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, February 11, 2022

Middle West Spirits Double Cask Collection Review & Tasting Notes

Last April, I had the opportunity to review three whiskeys from Middle West Spirits out of Columbus, Ohio. They consisted of a Pumpernickel Rye, a Wheated Bourbon, and a Straight Wheat whiskey. I was a fan of the Bourbon and Wheat whiskeys but didn’t overly enjoy the Rye.


When Middle West Spirits approached me to review its new Double Cask Collection, it piqued my interest. The goal for the distillery was to take these expressions and marry them with something else to highlight the terroir of both casks used in each expression.


“We were founded in 2008, and opened our distillery for commercial production in 2010. Building on four generations of distilling traditions, we added our own deep experience in marketing and manufacturing, and focused on elevating the distinctive flavors of the Ohio River Valley. Our artisan spirits honor our roots; and reflect our originality as makers, our integrity as producers, and our passion for the craft of producing spirits from grain to glass.” – Middle West Spirits


The Bourbon was finished in solera sherry casks, the Wheat was finished in Oloroso sherry casks, and the Rye was finished in Port pipes. All of these should give a new dimension to each of the originals.  Middle West Spirits is distributed in 32 states and offers direct-to-consumer sales from its website.


Before I get started, I’d like to thank Middle West Spirits for providing samples in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest reviews. Now, let’s #DrinkCurious and learn more.


Up first is the Sherry Cask Finished Bourbon. It started with a mash of sweet yellow corn, Ohio soft winter wheat, and two-row barley, then spent six years in Ohio-sourced heavy-toasted American white oak cooperage before being transferred to sun-blackened Spanish solera sherry butts for finishing. It is packaged at 97.25°, and you can expect to pay about $99.00 for a 750ml bottle.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Bourbon presented as the color of burnt umber. It left a medium rim which generated sticky, slow tears.


Nose:  The sherry influence was evident. Aromas of raisin, chocolate, date, and pipe tobacco tickled my nostrils. Date rolled across my tongue when I took the air into my mouth.


Palate:  A silky, full-bodied mouthfeel led to raisin, plum, and dried apricot on the front. The middle was a blend of chocolate-covered cherries, dates, and nutmeg. Then, I tasted honey, oak, clove, and black pepper on the back.


Finish:  Initially short, additional sips transformed that to very long and warming. Chocolate, cherry, plum, honey, tobacco, and clove stuck to my tongue and throat.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  My first taste made me say, “Wow,” and that didn’t change after my second or third (or fourth). This was a very impressive Bourbon with a ton of flavor. To me, it is a great way to start the adventure of the Double Cask Collection and earned every bit of my Bottle recommendation.



Second up is Ported Pumpernickel Rye. If you’re like me, when you see “Pumpernickel Rye,” you wonder if anyone else has done that. There are a couple; it just isn’t widely used. Made from a mash of dark pumpernickel rye, sweet yellow corn, Ohio soft winter wheat, and two-row barley, the distillate aged six years in new, charred American white oak barrels. The finishing barrels were French Tawny Port casks. It is packaged at 99.5°, and you can expect to pay about $99.00 for a 750ml bottle.  On a side note, my whiskey sample leaked in transit, and the label was damaged.

Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, this whiskey featured a red mahogany color. It formed a thin rim and sticky droplets.


Nose:  The first thing I smelled was leather, followed by old oak, plum, and dried cherry. Overall, the nose was very understated. When I pulled the vapor in my mouth, I tasted plum.


Palate:  An oily, dry mouthfeel led to nutmeg, cherry, and vanilla on front. I listed nutmeg first because that was the most potent flavor. As it approached the middle, a combination of chocolate and pumpernickel bread gave way to leather, dry oak, and cinnamon on the back.


Finish:  Medium in length and relatively dry, it had pucker power. Old leather, rye spice, cinnamon powder, cherry, and plum created an old-world finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  As I stated in my introduction, I wasn’t a fan of the Pumpernickel Rye. I can safely say that a few more years in wood combined with the tawny port changed my mind. Like the original, there were no bold flavors, but in this case, it worked well, and I enjoyed it.  Would I pay $99.00 for it? I’m not entirely convinced. Were it $30.00 less, I’d jump all over this. For now, I’m granting a Bar rating.




The final entry is the Oloroso Wheat Whiskey. Made from a mash of Ohio-grown red soft winter wheat, the distillate aged five years in new, charred American white oak barrels. The finishing barrels were Oloroso sherry butts. It is packaged at 100°, and you can expect to pay about $99.00 for a 750ml bottle.

Appearance:  Drank neat from my Glencairn glass, this wheat whiskey was a dark, brassy amber. It created a medium rim that made thick, syrupy legs.


Nose: The first thing that I smelled was pecan and roasted almond. It started before I got the glass anywhere near my face. Stone fruits aromas such as cherry and plum were also present. Finally, dark chocolate made a brief appearance. When I drew the air through my lips, vanilla crossed my mouth with slight, bitter oak.


Palate: The mouthfeel was creamy. The first sip was unpleasant, but as I always say, never judge anything on that first one. That was proven true as the second was more (pardon the pun) palatable. I found roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and vanilla on the front. The middle featured cocoa powder and nutmeg, while the back had dry oak, clove, and roasted almond flavors.


Finish:  I discovered a long finish that warmed my mouth and throat. Dry oak, roasted coffee, dark chocolate, nutmeg, and cocoa powder stuck around.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I understand what Middle West Spirits wanted to accomplish here, and I commend it. It may have been the most unusual wheat whiskey that I’ve come across. It was flavorful and quite pleasant. Saying that this one isn’t worth $99.00 to me, and that equals a Bar rating.


Final Thoughts: My favorite was the Sherry Cask Bourbon Finish of the three, and it wasn’t even close. The real contest was between the Ported Pumpernickel Rye and the Oloroso Wheat Whiskey. The Ported Pumpernickel Rye wound up being my second favorite. There wasn’t much wiggle room between the Rye and Wheat whiskeys. 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 29, 2021

The GlenDronach Original Aged 12 Years Single Malt Scotch Review & Tasting Notes


There is something to be said about whisky from one of the oldest-licensed distilleries in Scotland. It is difficult to suggest it doesn't know what it is doing. There is something to be said about a distillery specializing in one niche of cooperage since 1826. Again, it isn't easy to say it wouldn't have some expertise in the matter. 

That distillery is The GlenDronach. In 1868, it was the largest duty-paying distillery in the Scottish Highlands. It operated continuously until 1996, when it was mothballed, only to be resurrected six years later. It was one of the last distilleries to utilize coal-fed fire to heat its stills. In 2005, it converted to steam-heat.

"We are renowned as the masters of sherry cask maturation, and our Highland whiskies are recognised for their deep colour and rich flavour profiles, which range from sweet fruity flavours, from the Pedro Ximenez casks we select, to the dry and nutty notes, from superb Oloroso casks. Our well-kept secrets have been guarded for nearly 200 years by a parliament of rooks who love The GlenDronach so much they try to nest in the warehouses. The distillery folk believe as long as the rooks remain at the distillery, it will be good for the whisky." - The GlenDronach

Its Master Blender is Dr. Rachel Barrie. She also serves as Master Blender at The BenRiach and Glenglassaugh distilleries. 

The GlenDronach's basic, core Scotch is called Original Aged 12 Years. It is a single-malt that's been aged in Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry casks. There is no artificial coloring added. Bottled at 43% ABV (that's 86°), the suggested retail is $62.99.

The GlenDronach is an unpeated Scotch, so this could be appealing if smoky isn't your jam. 

I'd like to thank The GlenDronach for providing a sample of The Original Aged 12 in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. It is time to #DrinkCurious and discover if this core whisky is worth picking up.

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Scotch offered the color of deep gold with a slight red tinge. A medium rim formed, which led to an exciting marriage of thick, fast legs and sticky droplets.

Nose:  As soon as I poured it into my glass, the air filled with fruity aromas. I could nail down raisin, plum, apple, and pear, but an unmistakable fragrance of honey mingled with the fruit. When I drew the vapor into my lips, more fruit, this time apricot, waltzed across my tongue. 

Palate:  As the whisky rolled past my lips, my mouth was greeted by an oily mouthfeel with a medium-weighted body. Ginger stood in tandem with green grape and orange peel on the front. The middle was simple, consisting of malt and dark chocolate. Flavors of leather, sweet tobacco, and oak were on the back.

Finish:  A medium-long, peppery finish added raisin, leather, and oak, which seemed to compliment the palate.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Overall, I've been impressed with The GlenDronach's whiskeys. This was my first experience with its base product. I loved the nose, the palate, and the finish. There was a complete absence of anything remotely astringent (Band-aid taste), and that's a net positive for me. Frankly, for $62.99, I believe Original Aged 12 Years is a bargain and definitely earns my 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 that you do so responsibly.

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.