Lagavulin 16

Lagavulin 16

Lagavulin 16

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COLOR: The color of the bottle is lovely, a vintage look to it with awesome font…Oh the whisky, it’s a rusty bronze with hints of dirty fallout water.
NOSE: Who’s on fire? I smell a camp fire, with the spit of meat still turning over the barely lit embers. Beef jerky is drying on the side with a soy based glaze. Ash, tobacco and cigar box are very present, like just stepping out of a cigar store but never smoking. There is a light sherry aspect and a mineral like seashell with a light whiff of mint. Water brings out an amazing red fruit that was hiding being the fire pit somewhere, cherry and raspberry. Do I like? I like =)
PALATE: My taste buds were surely tested over this scotch but look deep and you’ll find walnut shell, charred oak and fresh pine. Oh and leather. It is sweet, an enjoyable sweet that offsets the massive smoke bomb. A menthol note carries through to the palate like having licked a friends menthol cigarette (it had to have been a friend, why would I go around licking other peoples cigarettes?).
FINISH: The campfire feel carries all the way through to the end. The embers are now all charred ash, wood smoke abounds and oddly enough there’s a light spearmint. What an interesting flavor to get a mint note through the entire tasting. I really enjoyed the mint.
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All packaging aside, I’m not very much a fan of this scotch. People love it and swear by it. Those are probably the same people who love blowing up the price of Ardbeg and Oban. If you like intensely smokey and peaty scotches, these are your winners. If you don’t, please continue with us as we pull away from these smoke bombs and get back to tasting the wonderful caramel, honeyed and toffee scotches that we love so dearly.
Scotch Out.
Slainte Mhath!

Ardbeg Ten

Ardbeg 10

Ardbeg Ten

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COLOR: Don’t let the dark bottle fool you! The inner liquid is bright watered down yellow. A well hydrated person, you could say.
NOSE: The nose, oh the nose. The first written notes in my journal are, “This is aweful”. Immediately smoked peat, meat, briney and you can smell the alcohol(like vodka) in this. Slowly continuing to fight my urge to purge, I find lemon concentrate(like from the dish washing liquid), Rubber ball(like from the dodgeball that smashes into your face and you just get a taste because your tongue was out) and also new leather. Easing into it again I smell beach house, a mix of salty brine-filled BBQ on the weekend. I’m finding that this is similar to the other Ardbegs I’ve tried but not as good, less refined and larger. Like an uncut diamond, or chewed food starting the journey leading to the porcelain end. (double entendre for all you word nerds)
PALATE: The taste is sweet, and definitely sweeter than I had imagined. The smoke creeps in like a low fog over a dew covered golf course while peat bogs are being farmed for more Ardbeg. The peat is light though which is nice. No intense meatiness here. The alcohol is a little hot on the tongue, add water.
Water opens up an amazing smell of creamy vanilla, and sweet nougat. The peat and smoke almost disappear and it’s mostly heavy vanilla. (My nose could be shot from smelling this all night as well)
The palate changes to a more sweet light cream taste with a nice spice and wood coming through. (I think my taste buds have given in)
FINISH: The finish, the finish is….long. The smoke and peat linger until I wake up in the morning and find that the toothpaste isn’t what tastes of smoke, it’s my scotch covered tongue. My cat wouldn’t come near me for fear I was carrying an open flame and was trying to burn her. Oh Ardbeg and Ardbeg, how we try to enjoy thee.
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This is why I love tasting scotch and reviewing all different kinds. I know I don’t like Ardbeg, but I never know when I might find one that I do like. Through this smokey, meaty and peaty journey, not only do I expand my palate, but I have a chance to let everyone else who reads this blog either heed my warning or welcome the demise. I recently tried another smoke bomb and actually enjoyed it, Laphroaig Quarter Cask, a review to come soon.
Scotch Out.
Slainte Mhath!

The Glenlivet Nadurra

The Glenlivet Nadurra

The Glenlivet Nadurra
(54.7% cask strength)

COLOR: light greenish gold
NOSE: charred oaken spices, pear, crisp fruit sugars
PALATE: Whooooaaaaaaa. Gonna need some water. The alcohol is burning through brutish spices that muscle their way to the top of a pile of apples and pears. A sweet creamy almost marshmallowy explosion of tamed fruit sugars hide just below the spicy surface. This is going to need some water. The finish is a peppery bombardment of the tongue ripe with oak and more pear/apple mix.

ADD WATER

NOSE: shifts to sugary spices, I was hoping it would get sweeter but it didn’t really
PALATE: buttery creamy on the tongue but the sweetness has been subdued, a bit of smoke rises behind the spices now
FINISH: a mashed pear drizzled in cinnamon and pepper shows up in the finish, it needs desperately to be baked.

This is a killer dram. Great job Glenlivet!

Tomatin 15

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Tomatin 15

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COLOR: Pale straw yellow
NOSE: The nose is much sweeter than the 12 year old Tomatin that we’d reviewed. Gobs of sweet vanilla caramel, brown sugar, candied red apple and sour apple. I’d written the word “lace” in my review…to be honest I’m not sure how to describe it, but it’s lacy in the nose =)
PALATE: This flavor is completely different than the 12 year old and full of tropical fruit like pineapple, papaya and tangerine. Light lemon oil comes out with bright citrus notes.
FINISH: The finish ends with a woodsy core of pineapple, dry and quite lengthy.
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This Tomatin 15 year along with the 12 year are both quite delicious. And for the price, $25 and $18 at my local store, it’s hard to pass up a new scotch to try. I enjoyed the 12 year old more, because I’m more into the darker, nuttier scotches. But if you like a lighter, fruitier scotch, definitely go for the 15.
Slainte Mhath!

Tomatin 12

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Tomatin 12

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COLOR: Golden wheat
NOSE: Tomatin brought grains and bread to mind on first sniff. Heavy in the malt and wheat bread smells. Then figs and juicy pear sweetness. With the addition of spring water toffee and vanilla caramels and a stronger pear fragrance arrived. For being 12 years old, it has developed a very complex nose.
PALATE: At first sip the pear comes right out, along with granny smith apples without the tartness. Spice and oak develop on the tongue while swirling it around. Freshly grated nutmeg and sweet salt-water taffy.
FINISH: The finish here is much longer than expected, but single noted with an interesting cigar box like finish. Spicy and drying.
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I’d seen this scotch at my liquor store forever and it was always on sale for $25. Since it was always on sale I never wanted to pick it up. And then it went on sale for $18 dollars and I said I have to have it. Even if it’s bad, I’ll still feel good about trying it. Who knew that it would be far more complex then I ever thought it would be. Why is no one buying this?? My guess is, it’s the perception of price to quality. No one wants to buy something that’s always on sale because they assume it’s of poor quality. This is still a Scottish single malt, aged for 12 years and spending time in expensive sherry casks. This is a nice neat drinker and probably solid in your Rob Roys or Bloody sand cocktails.
Reach outside of your norm and enjoy!
Slainte Mhath!

A whisky by any other name… might not be whiskey!

As we’ve discussed before, “Whiskey” with an ‘e’ is not the same as “Whisky” without the ‘e’. Yes, the spirit may be distilled in the same fashion, but the ingredients (barley vs corn/rye/wheat) and the location of distillation (Scotland vs US/Japan/Ireland) are very different. That said… last night Scotch and Sniff headed out to Harry Brownes in Annapolis for a private tasting event held by two gents from Maker’s Mark. It’s free to sign up to be an ambassador on the Maker’s Mark website and it comes with a few interesting perks you can read about there. Basically, it’s an engaging program that helps to fuel some zeal in people who enjoy Maker’s. I think the rest of this story is best told with pictures.

 

Ryan Miles of Maker's Mark introducing people to the event.

Ryan Miles of Maker’s Mark introducing people to the event.

 

Mr. Ryan Miles pours Maker's Mark 46 samples for the MM Ambassadors

Mr. Ryan Miles pours Maker’s Mark 46 samples for the MM Ambassadors

 

Beautiful layout of Maker's Mark 46 samples and mini barrel.

Beautiful layout of Maker’s Mark 46 samples and mini barrel.

 

Ambassadors enjoying their time in the tasting room, adjacent to the bar.

Ambassadors enjoying their time in the tasting room, adjacent to the bar.

 

A portion of a barrel and a seared french oak stave used in the barrels for flavor.

A portion of a barrel and a seared french oak stave used for 9 weeks in the barrels for flavor.

 

A veiw of the Maker's Mark 46 barrel through the mini barrel.

A veiw of the Maker’s Mark 46 barrel through the mini barrel.

 

They fed us with pulled pork cole slaw sliders covered in a Maker's flavored sauce! Delicious!

They fed us with pulled pork coleslaw sliders covered in a Maker’s flavored sauce! Delicious!

 

Overall the event was a lot of fun with friends and as with most things in the world of alcohol, “seek and you will find”. We inquired about the types of barrels used, the types of wood, the aging process, the warehouse conditions, and a myriad of other questions; all that they were willing to answer. This makes us doubly excited to plan our trip to Scotland in 2015!! Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this adventurous post. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and we’ll be sure to answer them!

I almost forgot to add the big announcement that Maker’s has! They’re releasing a cask strength (barrel proof for the bourbon lovers) expression of Maker’s soon! They had a listing of local bars in the DC/Baltimore/Annapolis area that would have it first and Jack Rose is on that list! Who’s excited for a Jack Rose Adventure Part Two!?

Aberlour A’Bunadh


A'Bunadh

Aberlour A’Bunadh

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COLOR: Dark caramel
NOSE: I immediately get dark dried fruits like dark raisins, dried figs and dried apple skins. Then baking spices like nutmeg, hints of cinnamon and orange rind. It smells very sweet of brown sugar and un-refined low grade honey.
PALATE: Spicy and smooth oak finish. Breathe in gently because the 60.4% alcohol by volume will burn the hairs out of your nose. A little spring water quiets down the bite and brings out an AWESOME SWEET ROUNDNESS. The baking spices intensify and then bourbon characteristics arise. Delicious.
FINISH: The finish is deliciously lengthy and stays in your mouth and nose for a while before needing to take another sip. It’s got nice body and weight on the tongue. Reminds me of some fine cognacs in nose and palate.
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A’Bunadh seems to be the go to for the Aberlour brand and I can see why people rave about it. If you didn’t know what scotch tasted like, but you know you like a good bourbon, A’Bunadh is your go to. A great place to start and a great place to finish your night.
Slainte Mhath!