Showing posts with label sponsored content. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sponsored content. Show all posts

Friday, November 19, 2021

Octomore 12 is Here!


Octomore 12 is here! Not since Octomore 4.2 “Comus” has the x.2 expression been available at traditional retail outlets. However, 12.2 is hitting store shelves now. If you’re not familiar with 12.2, it is a wine-cask finished expression of this super-heavily peated Islay Scotch.


It has been a true honor to be part of such a great team – known as “The Octomore 12” as we put together this year’s Insider’s Guide for Bruichladdich. Four of us, including me, The Scotch NoobWhisky Monster, and Barrel Raised, put together the chapter on Octomore 12.2. The rest of the team, consisting of The Scotch GirlMarvel at WhiskyWhiskey LoreThe Whiskey JugDram DudeThe ScotchtressThe Charred Cask, and Whisky A Go Girl, handled their own respective chapters, and you can read all about this year’s Octomore on its website. Cheers!


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.  Must be 21+ to enjoy. This was sponsored content.


Friday, October 1, 2021

Breaking News!


Breaking News!


If it is October, that must mean that Bruichladdich is getting ready to release its next batch of Octomore single malts.  We, at the Whiskeyfellow News Center, have confirmed through our esteemed sources that, yes indeed, October started this morning!


What’s this mean for you? Well, we can’t disclose all the details yet, but we can tell you that Octomore 12 will be featuring three expressions, one of which has been so exclusive in the past that until now, no one could obtain it outside of Duty-Free shops!


Octomore 12 is currently en route from Islay and will arrive in the United States shortly.


Our news anchor, Whiskeyfellow, and eleven other whisky mavens (known as The Octomore 12) have delved deep into the Octomore 12 line and will publish their findings in the coming days. Be on the lookout for more breaking news from The Scotch Noob, Whisky Monster, Barrel Raised, The Scotch Girl, Marvel at Whisky, Whiskey Lore, The Whiskey Jug, Dram Dude, The Scotchtress, The Charred Cask, and Whisky A Go Girl.


Until then, cheers!

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

Monday, January 25, 2021

Do You Love Barbeque? You'll Fall in Love With Port Charlotte!


While barbequing is done all over the world, it is a genuine American pastime. A rite of passage, even. Americans will dig a path through waist-high snowdrifts to use their grills and smokers. On any holiday weekend, folks pack parks and backyards for fun and to enjoy outdoor cooking. The summer air is full of delicious aromas. 

Some of the very best barbeques I’ve experienced are from run-down, roadside shacks in Kentucky. The smoky smell of grilled meats of every kind makes my mouth water.  Frankly, it doesn’t matter if the meat is hot smoked over fire or smoke cooked. I love it all.


The wood used is at least as important as the choice of the meat itself. Some woods impart a smokier flavor. Others create a sweeter taste. And, then, there are the rubs, marinades, and sauces. Anything can be done with these additives, giving the meat its own, distinct flavor.


The point is barbeque is awesome.  We love barbeque.


Today I’m here to let you in on a little secret:  If you love barbeque, you’re going to love Port Charlotte Scotch whisky.


Wait a second there, Mr. Whiskeyfellow… Bourbon and Rye are paired with barbeque. Heck, we use those in our sauces and marinades. And, we drink them with our grilled meat. What’s this Scotch stuff you’re trying to foist on us?

I've never led you down the wrong path yet... stay with me. 

First of all, I must offer you transparency. One thing I admire about any brand is transparency. I hold myself to that same standard. I was approached by Bruichladdich, the distillery behind the Port Charlotte brand, to publish sponsored content about the brand. A majority of this piece fits that bill. What is not sponsored will be my tasting notes and review.


Port Charlotte is a small village on the island of Islay. The village used to be home to the Port Charlotte Distillery (soon renamed Lochindaal Distillery) from 1829 to 1929 before it was shuttered and abandoned.


Two miles away from Port Charlotte is the village of Bruichladdich, home of the Bruichladdich Distillery. Bruichladdich acquired the defunct Lochindaal Distillery in 2007, but has, to date, not resurrected it.  However, it has brought the name of the town back to life as Port Charlotte for its heavily-peated whisky brand.


You might be thinking that you've tasted Islay Scotches and I am off my rocker. Trust me here, please.


The term appellation is one we hear a lot in wines and brandies:  champagne must come from the Champagne region of France, otherwise, it is sparkling wine. Cognac and Armagnac must come from their respective regions.  It works for spirits, too.


Port Charlotte versus Pretty Much Every Other Islay Whisky


Port Charlotte is different from every other Scotch that comes from Islay. Did you know that to be legally called an Islay whisky, all that has to happen is the malt has to be distilled on Islay? The barley itself doesn’t have to come from Islay. The malting doesn’t have to occur on Islay. The whisky doesn’t need to age on Islay. The water source doesn’t have to be from Islay. And, finally, it doesn’t have to even be bottled in Islay. In fact, most Islay whisky fits the minimum requirement of being distilled on the island.


Islay is an unforgiving place to cultivate barley. Until very recently, barley hadn't been grown on the island since World War II! Most distilleries get all of their barley from the mainland. The two that don’t are Kilchoman and Bruichladdich. The Port Charlotte brand uses 42% of its barley grown locally. In fact, Port Charlotte is the only heavily-peated brand to claim 100% Scottish barley content. While the barley isn’t currently malted on Islay, that will change in 2023. Once barreled, Port Charlotte spends its entire life aging on Islay. Again, that’s not something most other distilleries do. Instead, they spend a short time on Islay and then are sent to the mainland for the duration of the aging process. The water used is sourced from Islay natural springs. Finally, the whisky is all bottled on Islay.


All of the above contributes to Port Charlotte's very unique barbeque flavor.  Not traditional peat smokiness. Not ash. What helps enhance that special flavor comes from its very narrow-necked stills and its heavily-charred ex-Bourbon casks the whisky is aged in. 

Port Charlotte expressions are peated at 40ppm, the same as Ardnahoe and Laphroaig. That's higher than most, falling short only of ArdbegLaphroaig, and, of course, Bruichladdich's super-peated Octomore.

Bruichladdich's Vision

Bruichladdich's vision across its entire product line is to distill for flavor and not for consistency. Things change from batch to batch, and that's how they like doing things. The distillery maintains an inventory of over 200 different types of cooperage to add whatever variety is desired.  Everything they produce is non-chill filtered and retains its natural color. 

The final thing I want to tell you about Port Charlotte before I get to the reviews is Bruichladdich's B-Corp Certification. It is something they're very proud to be a part of. To be considered, a business must use itself as "a force for good."  A business is required to maintain the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and must remain accountable. There are currently 3327 companies in 78 nations that hold B-Corp status.

That Barbeque Thing...

Taste is king and is how the whole barbeque experience comes into play. As I stated earlier, what never changes, sponsored or not, are my reviews and tasting notes.

The first review is for Port Charlotte 10.  This Single Malt spent a decade in oak.  The largest portion, 65%, was in first-fill ex-Bourbon, 10% in second-fill ex-Bourbon, and the remaining 25% in French wine casks. It is bottled at 50% ABV (or 100°) and you can expect to shell out about $70.00 for 750ml.  The 10-year is the flagship release and is widely available.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, PC-10 presented as the color of dull gold, almost like a pale ale. While it created a thinner rim, it released thick, fat, watery legs that fell like a curtain back to the pool of whisky. 

Nose:  The first thing I smelled was smoky and the aroma was sweet and briny with grapefruit, ginger root, peach, and milk chocolate. It also offered floral notes. When I breathed the vapor through my lips, vanilla and toasted oak danced across my tongue.

Palate:  The texture was medium-bodied, and the whole smoky/sweet combination got things moving. At the front, I tasted smoked oak, toasted coconut, vanilla, and merengue. As it moved to the middle, pear, dark chocolate, ancho chiles, honey barbeque, and sweet tobacco leaf took over. Think of it almost as molé sauce. Then, on the back, a marriage of orange, lemon, and crème brûlée.

Finish:  It stuck around in my mouth and the back of my throat for several minutes, providing me flavors of smoked oak, brine, clove, orange peel, and honey. Before everything fell off, a brush of stewed peaches made itself known.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: There was no astringent quality, there was no earthiness to the peat. Sip to sip, it made my mouth water for more. I love traditional peated whiskies and this one was so different I was wowed. Port Charlotte 10 earns a Bottle rating. 

The second review is of Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2012 Vintage. This Single Malt is aged a mere six years in 75% first-fill ex-Bourbon barrels and 25% second-fill wine casks. Eight Islay farms came together in 2011 to harvest four varieties of barley:  Oxbridge, Publican, Propino, and Concerto. The 2011 harvest was particularly rough due to adverse weather conditions. Like the PC-10, Islay Barley is packaged at 50% ABV. This expression is more limited, and you should expect to pay about $90.00 for a 750ml bottle.

Appearance:  Islay Barley proffered a pale gold color that was reminiscent of Chardonnay. Fat, sticky droplets turned into long, slow legs that dropped from a medium-thick rim on the wall. 

Nose:  Smoky peat began the experience, which led to pear, citrus, peach, and brine. Beneath those, I found honeysuckle, vanilla, and golden raisin. When I inhaled the vapor through my lips, I tasted coconut, vanilla, and barbeque smoke.

Palate:  I found Islay Barley to be surprisingly light-bodied and sweet. Honey, vanilla, and mocha were on the front. Flavors of apricot, peach, and pineapple were at the middle, and chocolate, clove, honey-molasses barbeque, and smoky oak fell on the back.

Finish:  Long and sweet, the finish was fruity with apricot, pineapple, and spicy with ginger and smoke. There was also a briny quality to it. This was a sweeter finish than the PC-10.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  For $90.00, I expect much more out of a whisky, and Islay Barley didn't disappoint. I loved how flavorful this was, how it reminded me of a few types of barbeque sauce blended together. The peat is subtle and offers a near-perfect balance of smoke, spice, and sweetness. This easily takes a Bottle rating from me.

Bottom Line:  While both were stunning, it wasn't much of a contest for me as to the better bottle, and that was the Islay Barley. While I'm not the grillmaster, Mrs. Whiskeyfellow knows what she's doing, and these paired fantastically with ribeye steaks and grilled asparagus. With food, they added a touch of caramel and molasses. If you want to taste something that will appeal to the barbeque fan, Port Charlotte is the Scotch that's going to make that happen. Finally, don't let heavily-peated scare you away. Even a newbie to peat can enjoy and appreciate these expressions. 

If you're interested in getting a bottle of either for yourself and you don't want to leave the comfort of your home, follow this link (note: I do not receive any sort of compensation for the click or purchase). Cheers!

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

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie Guided Tasting and Review


One of the things I respect is transparency. I'm as transparent as possible with my reviews. When a distillery matches that level of transparency, I'm impressed.  Good, bad, or ugly, there is something to be said about not holding anything back.

Back in July, I reviewed The Classic Laddie from Bruichladdich. That batch was 14/009, which means it was the ninth batch bottled in 2014.  I enjoyed it immensely and awarded it my Bottle rating.

The Classic Laddie is an unpeated Islay Scotch. Yes, unpeated whisky from Islay does exist!  This flagship Scotch is meant to compete with Highland and Speyside malts. Every batch of The Classic Laddie is different. Unlike many distilleries, Bruichladdich isn't going for batch-to-batch consistency. Instead, Head Distiller Adam Hannett's goal is to have The Classic Laddie be light, floral, fruity, and unpeated.

Bruichladdich is about as transparent as a distillery can be about any aspect, including divulging what's inside a batch. As a point of demonstration, if you head to The Classic Laddie website, you can enter your batch number to quickly decode it and see everything that was used to create what's in your bottle. A screenshot of that page is shown below. 

When you click Reveal, a new page opens.  In this case, I've entered Batch 20/109, which is the batch I'm reviewing today. You can find your Batch Code on the side of the bottle.

I'm not going to screenshot the entire thing, but as you can see, there are 74 casks, 4 vintages, 3 barley types, and 10 cask types. 

What you can see is almost anything you'd ever want to know about what's inside.  The only thing Bruichladdich redacts is under the Distillation Year, and that's everything except the youngest vintage. The only reason Bruichladdich redacts that is to remain compliant under regulations of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), which is the governing body for the Scotch whisky trade. In the case of Batch 20/109, the youngest vintage is from 2012, making this an eight-year whisky, consisting of:

  • 1 cask distilled from Scottish mainland barley aged in a Spanish sherry butt, then a 2nd-fill Bourbon barrel and virgin oak, then another 2nd-fill Bourbon barrel;
  • 5 casks distilled from Scottish mainland barley distilled in 2012, aged in 2nd-fill French Bordeaux Pessac Leognan (a Cabernet/Merlot blend) hogshead;
  • 2 casks distilled from Islay barley aged in 2nd-fill Bourbon barrels;
  • 4 casks distilled from Islay barley aged in 3rd-fill Bourbon hogshead (segway:  I confirmed with Bruichladdich that this was correct. Apparently as they recooper the barrels, they don't always go back in neat, even sizes), then 1st-fill Bourbon barrels;
  • 3 casks distilled from Scottish mainland organic barley aged in 1st-fill Bourbon barrels.
  • 3 casks distilled from Islay barley aged in 1st-fill Bourbon barrels;
  • 12 casks distilled from Scottish mainland barley aged in 1st-fill Bourbon barrels;
  • 1 cask distilled from Scottish mainland barley aged in a 2nd-fill Bourbon barrel;
  • 1 cask distilled from Scottish mainland barley aged in a 2nd-fill French Bandol (Mourvedre) hogshead;
  • 30 casks distilled from Scottish mainland barley in 2012 aged in 1st-fill Bourbon barrels;
  • 6 casks distilled from Scottish mainland barley aged in 1st-fill Bourbon barrels;
  • 1 cask distilled from Scottish mainland barley aged in a 1st-fill French Vin Doux Naturel hogshead; and
  • 5 casks distilled from Islay barley aged in 1st-fill French Pomerol (a Merlot/Cabernet Franc blend) hogshead.

The Classic Laddie is always non-chill filtered, naturally colored, and packaged at 50% ABV (or 100°). A 750ml bottle will set you back about $55.99.

Before I go any further, as I said earlier, transparency is a big deal for me.  Bruichladdich sent me a bottle of Batch 20/109 in exchange for hosting an online tasting with two non-whiskey influencers:  Saeed "Hawk" of Cocktails by Hawk and Sam of The Frosted Petticoat. The other part of the equation is that Bruichladdich sponsored me beyond providing the bottle to host this guided tasting.

Click here to view the guided tasting (it is the raw footage and runs 47 minutes).  I had a fun time with Sam and Hawk, they learned a lot and I discovered new things from them both. I led them to explore The Classic Laddie, they provided their notes and thoughts. It is well worth the time to watch.  But, if you don't have the time, there is a 10-minute condensed version that I published on IGTV.

What never changes, sponsored or not, is my review and tasting notes. As always, it is my honest assessment of the whiskey, based on my regular Bottle, Bar, or Bust rating system. I felt somewhat safe doing this due to my assessment Batch 14/009.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, The Classic Laddie presented as brassy gold in color. It left a thinnish rim but yielded fat legs that took their time sliding back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  Aromas of chocolate and honey started things off. They were followed by orange blossom, pear, and raisin. When I inhaled the vapor through my mouth, I tasted iodine, seaweed, and honey.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was thick and oily, offering no problems coating my entire mouth. Full-bodied, the first flavors were cocoa, honeysuckle, and vanilla. At mid-palate, I tasted dry oak, raisin, and apple. On the back, things got sweet and spicy with cherry, plum, and black pepper.

Finish:  To suggest that this batch of The Classic Laddie has a long-lasting finish would be unfair to long-lasting finishes - it simply would not quit. There was a smoky quality that was absolutely not peat. Another aspect was there was no astringent (band-aid) quality that some folks find to be a turn-off. It was, however, very dry, likely from the influence of the wine casks, with white pepper, clove, and iodine.  Just when I thought things were finally over, raw honey and raisin closed things out.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  This is a $56.00 bottle of Scotch that was incredibly complex from the nose to the palate to the finish.  While the mouthfeel never really changed, each time I sipped I pulled out different flavors. That finish was crazy long. With Batch 14/009 I found a slightly astringent flavor but with Batch 20/109, it was non-existent. Forgetting the price, this was very enjoyable. Bring that back into the equation and nothing is holding back a Bottle rating. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

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