Scotch ‘n’ Sniff at the The Balvenie Rare Craft Collection

Greetings and Salutations!!!

Sniff, here. Totally been slacking in reviews due to a myriad of factors but I’ll be writing today’s recap of the Balvenie Rare Craft Collection (RCC).

First thing’s first. A lot of people really get caught up in things like how to dress at events like this. Scotch went dressed in a button up with nice jeans and shoes. I went dressed in a zippered hooded sweat shirt, jeans, and slip on Vans shoes. Like this blog, we’re doing all of this for the common man, not the guy who shows up in a three piece suit. Alright, pretensions out of the way…

The DC event took place at the Carnegie Institution of Science in DC at 1530 P Street NW. When you arrived downstairs, you were greeted by a few ladies to verify your tickets (free to folks to RSVP to Balvenie’s “loyalty program” dubbed Warehouse 24). Once your tickets were verified, this smiling lady gave you a booklet explaining the Rare Craft event, three sample drink tokens, and a custom RCC Glencairn glass.

 

BalvenieRCC entrance

Smile for Scotch!

 

Upon walking up the steps, the first thing you notice is this door… which will look familiar if you’re a member of the Warehouse 24 program.

Warehouse 24 door

Warehouse 24 door

 

Balvenie’s goal for the night was to draw awareness to craftsmen who still practiced traditional methods of work be it to build guitars, saddles, engines, and even ping pong tables and associate that with their own method of crafting single malt scotch.

A hand crafted guitar

A hand crafted guitar

 

A handcrafted ping pong table.

A handcrafted ping pong table.

 

A hand crafted Morgan :)

A hand crafted Morgan :)

 

So that’s all good and well. Let’s get onto the SCOTCH. In the main area, there were two tables providing samples. The Doublewood 12 was being served at one and on the other end of the room, the Caribbean Cask 14 on the other.

Ah, the caribbean. Didn't we already do a review on you?

Ah, the caribbean. Didn’t we already do a review on you?

 

Neither of these is what I was personally looking for (since we have both and have done reviews on both). I was looking for the Portwood 21. After asking a rep, I was informed that one had to sign up for the “Master class” to get access to it. The rep then pointed me in the direction of a young lady with an iPad who could sign both Scotch and Sniff up for the class. BINGO!

Let's take the Master Class!

Let’s take the Master Class!

 

Have a seat!

Have a seat!

 

What have we here!?

What have we here!?

 

Slainte Mhath!

Slainte Mhath!

 

David Laird, brand ambassador for Balvenie US

David Laird, brand ambassador for Balvenie US

 

The class was taught by David Laird, a Balvenie US brand ambassador. Nice guy and very knowledgeable about scotch in general and the process used at the Balvenie distillery. From “Whiskey Dogs” to coopers to wood choice, he left no part of the process unturned. 95% of what we taught, we have available in blog posts here so it’s nice to know we weren’t far off of the general knowledge in the scotch world. :)

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Overall the event was fun and educational. Scotchucational. :)

Thanks to Balvenie for hosting this good time! It looks like William Grant and Sons will be hosting another via Glenlivet in November, also in DC… will we see you there??

 

-Sniff

 

 

#BalvenieRCC

GlenDronach 21 Parliament

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GlenDronach 21 Parliament

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COLOR: The color is a dark amber or medium grade B maple syrup

NOSE: 21 years of sitting in Oloroso and PX casks have done wonders for this single malt. Who knew something so dark could smell and taste so fruity, rich and spicy. Brown sugar blasts through, dragging sugar in the raw with it, caramelizing on your tongue to a rich and crunchy English toffee. The brightness of Pink lady apples and tart dark cherries snaps like a SlimJim in your nose. And this is all before you even take a sip. Take a moment to let the spirit breathe and fill the room and no doubt you’ll nose the heather off in the distance and the whiffs of tobacco leaves being dried, not smoked. Add a few drops of water and the red fruits get accentuated and then coated with sticky caramel and toffee pudding. If you don’t understand what I mean, It’s rich, rich, rich in the nose.

PALATE: The first thing I taste is the delicious fruitiness and the roundness of the two sherries. A slight smokiness or old wood flavor pushes its way through, possibly from the Pedro Ximenez influence. Even at 48% abv, I could drink this neat all day…I would be passed out with possibly less clothes on, but it’s definitely a slow easy drinker. There’s a lot of nuttiness and baking spices, like someone just baked a “fresh out of the oven” minced meat pie but added toasted hazelnuts, just because. The addition of a few drops of water increases the sweetness on the tongue and boosts the nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom spices deliciously.

FINISH: The finish is long and lasting and utterly balanced. I did experience some mid-palate astringency, but that was easily forgotten with another delicious sip.

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Many of the 21 year old single malts that I’ve tasted felt light on the tongue and aren’t as rich as I’d like them to be. Enter GlenDronach 21. This single malt maintains the heavyweight feel and richness that I have looked for, all while balancing toasty oak, baking spices and sweetness. Definitely one to look out for or order, if you can find it for less than $150.

Scotch Out.
Slainte Mhath!

Glenfiddich 21

Glenfiddich 21

Glenfiddich 21

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It’s October! Do you know where your kids are?? Anyways, the weather is changing away from the shorts and surf boards and going towards the cardigans and fireplaces. It’s always a good time of year to partake in a delicious dram, but now more than ever. Bundle up, light the fire (or flashlight) and let’s get to tasting!

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COLOR: Dark caramel, mahogany with edges of fired wood
NOSE: The nose is extremely full of ripe stewed fruit with bright fresh red berries. I say again very sweet on the nose. For its age it has a lot of bright aroma characteristics such as Florida orange, light floral honey and red delicious apples. Water accentuates the vanilla, toffee and caramel notes. There’s also a really unique and delicious smelling Vanilla cream caramel.
PALATE: It always surprises me how soft and light older single malts can be. The process of aging has such wild effects. The nose was so bright and fruit forward while the palate is light, subtle and easy going. The wood is present but not overwhelming. A light rubbed leather and soft spice with cigar box notes warm the perimeter of my tongue.
FINISH: The finish is definitely woody and full of aged rum flavor, with a slight menthol end.
 ~
This was definitely a delicious tipple and I’m not just saying that because I wrote it in my scotch journal. This is definitely one of the times that I would ask for a higher alcohol by volume because it lacks mouth feel and weight. Although this is a great scotch I would rather go for the competing brand of Glenlivet 21 archive, which you can read the review. The syrupy mouth-feel and the increased spice and toffee flavor knock me off my feet.
Scotch Out.
Slainte Mhath!

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!