A Tale of Three Cities : Michel Couvreur Whisky

Michel was a Belgian man, who purchased barrels of whisky from several different distilleries in Scotland. He then traveled to Spain to find the very best Sherry butts from Andalusia. Then finally, he assembled the two and housed the Scottish whisky filled Sherry casks in his caves dug out from a mountainside in Burgundy, France. Sadly Michel Couvreur passed away in 2013 but his well-known whisky’s will live on. His apprentice Jean-Arnaud, who had trained under him for a decade, carries on his legacy of blending spirits and the flavor continues.

We have for sample Michel Couvreur’s Overaged Malt Whisky, which is a single malt blend composed of whisky aged 12-27 years. The second offering is a Grain whisky, named Clearach, from malted barley matured in sherry completely. On to the tasting!

Color: Clearach is of a lighter color than the Overaged, but both exhibit a dark walnut color, with the Overaged leaning towards a dark oak color.

Nose: Clearach immediately explodes with a nose full of cereal, grains and nougat. Very light low-grade honey, as if it was pulled right out of the comb, raw. There’s a hint of white grape juice and a sour grassiness that comes out as well. A multilayered nose. The Overaged whisky is far more along the lines of what I love to drink when it comes to Scotch. Full of rich milk chocolate notes, caramel and toffee. Burnt sugars and sweet vanilla. I pick up the freshness of stone fruits like apricots and plums with a slight sourness that isn’t a bad thing.

Palate: Beginning with the Clearach the palate is full blown grain, barley and cereal rich. Biscuits come to mind with bran and saw dust. A lot of oak but not overpowering oak. And although there is a sawdust-like component, it’s not an astringent wood, just a little wood sour. Nutmeg is a predominant spice in the Clearach with a vanilla undertone. The Overage is nice and sweet. Coating, thick and rich as it rolls into your mouth. There’s an initial tobacco entry, but not like someone smoking next to you in the train station, but more like walking through a field in South Carolina growing tobacco. A sweet almost herbal tobacco without the smoke…Oh wait, I spoke too soon. There is a whiff of smoke but very light and near the end as I breathe out after I swallow. The flavor is full and rich and creamy. Both are 43% abv and perfectly suited to be sipped neat. Both have a very sweet syrupy texture and feel sticky on the lips.

Finish: The Clearach finishes lightly spiced, slightly floral with minuscule amounts of woody sweetness. Reminiscent of an Irish whisky to me. Good, but not Scotch. The Overaged on the other hand is a treasure. Although the finish is far too short, the ability to pour another glass more than makes up for it.

I purchased both of these bottles on sale for a low low price. The Overaged was $35 and the Clearach was $30. I spoke with the owner of the shop and he said that no one knew about “Michel Couvreur” so no one purchased them, hence the sale. I think the going rate for the Overaged is $75, well worth the price and could easily compete with, and beat, Glenfiddich 18, Glenlivet 15 and Dalmore 12. The Clearach on the other hand, I wouldn’t purchase again, not even for $30. Until next time.

Scotch Out.

Scotch VS Scotch : The Dalmore 18 versus The Dalmore 15

SvS: Dalmore 15 vs 18

SvS: Dalmore 15 vs 18

Greeting fellow whisky taster! Happy Friday!!

Here we are with another installment of scotch versus scotch and this one just might save you half of what you’re thinking about spending. We’re comparing the Dalmore’s 15 year offering with their 18 year to see if a doubling in price is actually a good value.

 

Nose:
Let’s dive right in, nose first. Whoa. The 18 starts its ole factory invitation with oranges and sherry. It’s surprisingly floral but if you’re a sherry fan, you’re going to love the nose. Oddly enough, the 15 was finished in three types of sherry casks (matusalem, apostles, and amoroso) and actually noses less like sherry than the matusalem-sherry-cask-finished 18 that spent 14 of its 18 years in American oak. The 15 side-by-side with the 18 has a stronger wheat/grass/flower/potpourri nose. The 15 is also much less powerful. Both smell delicious but will they taste as good as they smell?

 

Palate & Finish:
With a fantastic mouthfeel, the 15 is just slightly oily and filled with ginger, citrus, a touch of chocolate, and it finishes a bit woody. Not oak though, I know I’ve smelled the tree this flavor stems from though. The 18 blasts onto the tongue with more familiar flavors found in sherry heavy drams thanks to being finished in sherry. Pepper and spices make their way forward and are followed by absolutely delicious and freshly peeled oranges! The mouthfeel is luscious. The 18 rounds out its finish with buttery pepper and spices. The finish on the 18 lingers and lingers. Yum!

 

So this comparison originally struck me as a good idea when I recently purchased the 15 and thought of how much it reminded me of the 18, but side by side… They’re related but definitely not twins.

 

So if you’re looking for Sherry and spice and everything nice, by all means, enjoy the $110 Dalmore 18 year. But if you’re looking for a refreshing summer time dram, look no further than the Dalmore 15 at a reasonable $65.

 

Slainte!

Scotch VS Scotch : The Macallan Sienna versus The Macallan 12 Year

Hey there scotchNsniffers!

It’s time for another scotch versus scotch! Today we’ll compare two Macallans. More specifically, the 12 Year and the Sienna.

Macallan Friends

Macallan Friends

The Macallan Sienna isn’t actually offered in the US but on the last international order that [Scotch] and I placed, we decided to order a bottle and see how it compares to the American offerings. The Macallan 1824 series offered in the UK come in four primary offerings named after their colors: Gold, Amber, Sienna, and Ruby. Reading online, it seems that Macallan has gotten a lot of flack about offering scotch by color instead of age. Not that either color nor age is a primary determining factor in the flavors of the whisky but we all know how fickle people can be. We picked the Sienna because the Gold gets some pretty unpleasant reviews and the Amber reviews are mixed across the board.

Let’s get to it! #CNPF

Color:

Right off of the bat, the colors are almost identical under both incandescent and florescent lighting. Personally the color looks like mahogany tinted wet straw to me but if Macallan wants to call it “Sienna”, who am I to argue.

Nose:

Nosing the two side by side is AWESOME, especially if you’re a big fan of sherry. (Who doesn’t love a good fortified wine?!)  The sweetness in the 12 year is much more noticeable than I could have imagined. The 12 year smells much closer to the cask strength when pitted against the Sienna. The 12 year smells thicker and richer where the sienna smells thinner; less like a fortified wine and more like a typical wine sans distilled additives. Where the Sienna is like a small grouping of orange trees, the 12 year is like walking through an apple orchard!

Palate:

The Sienna has a soft mouthfeel and immediately shines with oranges and white grape raisins which only help to reinforce the lighter thinner nose. With water the Sienna opens a bit more and sherry soaked oak spices rise with just a touch of smoke. Very interesting. The 12 year is comparatively more tannic and the sweetness is much more subtle… like fruits dipped very gently in granular sugar subdued also under spices and oak. Like a sugar encrusted fruit pie baked in an oak pie pan. Incredible. With water, the spices are toned down and the flavor of the oak and woodiness get kicked up a notch! There WAS some sherry in there, wasn’t there?

Finish:

The finish on the Sienna is… refreshing! Like the summer lemonade of scotches! The 12 year is much more serious and typical of a Macallan with oaken floral notes lingering on the tongue.

Overall these was an interesting scotch versus scotch session. These two drams really server two very different purposes. One is much more summer and one is much more fall & winter. Don’t get me wrong, they’re both delicious. ;)  I would not put them in the same boat in terms of richness and flavor though. They’re priced similarly but personally, the 12 year is the winner in my book. Hopefully this review will help you decide between these two bottles.

-[Sniff]

One Eight Distillery: Untitled Whiskey No. 1 review

One Eight Distillery

One Eight Distillery: Untitled Whiskey No. 1

A little bit of history about the distillery, One Eight Distillery is a newcomer to the beverage scene in DC located in the rough parts of Ivy City. A mostly industrial and very poor part of the city, has seen some resurgence through gentrification and some brave new businesses. One Eight’s first foray into aged whiskey is called “Untitled Whiskey No. 1” and it comes from 9 year old rye distilled by the MGPI distillery in Indiana, which has been around since 1847 by way of various owners. There are many companies that have used the hooch created by MGPI, High West, Willett and Templeton Rye to name a few tasty ones. One Eight Distillery then takes that 9-year rye and ages it for another 3 months in 30-year-old Oloroso Sherry casks. Then they bottle it up and slap a label on it. How is it, you ask?

Color:

A reddish tint to a very medium grade honey. You could very easily pick up the bottle and think it was a very thin maple syrup

Nose:

It has a prominent blast of rye spice right up front. Vanilla and caramel creep up lightly behind the spice, along with sweet tobacco. The addition of water brought out a beautiful caramel and vanilla flower perfume and reduced the spice notes.

Palate:

The rye spice fills the mouth and is then met with dried orange peel, slightly peppery and cooling menthol tobacco. A very hearty whiskey at a very well controlled 52.5%. The sweetness no doubt brought into play by the Sherry cask finishing. The addition of water didn’t really make a positive difference to the whiskey. It seemed to water it down and thin its flavor.

Finish:

After tasting while nosing, I can feel that my lips are sticky and noticeably sweet. It doesn’t have a sweet finish but rather a sustained mellow sweetness. The rye spice continues for a good while. The combination of the sweetness, spice and heat make a pretty darn good whiskey. I’ve tried a lot of the beers, breads, and booze that have come out of DC and claimed the district as their home but this has to be the best representative I’ve had. The interesting rye spice and Sherry finish make this a bottle to look out for if you ever see it at your local stores.

Scotch Out.

Slainte Mhath!

Scotch VS Scotch : The Macallan 10 Fine Oak versus The Macallan 17 Fine Oak

We love getting requests for Scotch VS Scotch comparisons. We’ve had the idea to post these for a while but have only recently decided to be intentional about it. Our first installment of the SvS was the Aberlour A’bunadh versus the Macallan Rare Cask. Hopefully this comparison is just as entertaining. We’re sticking with two from the same distillery this time.

:)

Nose:
Both very oaky… SURPRISE! The 10 contains some typical oak sour notes like a too-young-spirit. The 17 shows sweet notes off the bat and it’s rich in smoke too. The 17 is like fireplace smoke drizzled in sugar.

Palate:
The 10 is edgy and very forward with its oak infused spices. I hate making references to fresh cracked black pepper so often but oak always brings this out in the reviews. The 10 suffers from an almost bitter edge like cinnamon though. The fruit require a bit of work to taste… subtle behind the oak. The 17 is also full of spices and signature oak offerings are balanced with a sweetness.

Let’s add some water, shall we?

The 17 has turned into quite the fruit sugar drink that teeters the entire time on the line of the oak qualities. What a wonderfully balanced dram. There is light sweetness in the 10 now but it’s become insanely tannic. To the point it’s difficult to decipher flavors. It’s still a bottle of oak infused water. It’s no where near the balance of sweet like the 17. Comparitively, the 10 is unrefined against the 17. Like it wanted to be it’s big brother but barely got halfway there.

Finish:
The 10 finishes like a champ though. It rolls off smoothly and doesn’t linger like an awkward phone call. It’s cordial and willing to say goodbye. The 17 is smooth, warm, and thick like honey. It finishes like a lover not ready to leave. Sweet smoke lingers if thee is such a thing.

(the post water finish changed a bit drastically)

The 17 finish becomes like melted butter on the tongue but more refreshing than oily.
The tannic ride doesn’t end with the 10. Time to drink a half a gallon of water to deal with this mouthful of cotton balls.

And there we have it. Is the 17 worth the $100 difference? Without a doubt. A wonderfully balanced bottle is a treasure. I’m surprised the 10 is even produced to represent the Macallan Fine Oak line. You’d have to be in love with sour, young oak to really love it. I’d rather spend the same on the standard 12 and enjoy the sherry. Slainté!

Macallan Fine Oak 10 vesus Macallan Fine Oak 17

Macallan Fine Oak 10 vesus Macallan Fine Oak 17

Scotch VS Scotch : Aberlour A’bunadh versus The Macallan Rare Cask

We’re comparing a $90 cask strength Aberlour to a $300 macallan. Is there a $210 difference in these bottles? Let me just say off the bat, the packaging, bottle, and bottle topper for the rare cask are worth the first hundred dollars. The bottle is beautifully cut and angled with feminine shoulders donning a low necked top. The topper is one solid piece of metal with a checkered pattern holding the cork. The packaging is magnetically held closed and wonderfully compliments the bottle. So with that very expensive but effective marketing aside, the bottles don’t compare in the presentation category.

Nose:
Considering the Rare Cask from Macallan and the A’bunadh from Aberlour are both aged in magical Sherry casks, it’s no surprise that their noses are similar but the Abunadh immediately stands out… as its almost-20%-higher-alcohol-content train wrecks it’s way into your nostrils. The Rare Cask reeks of sherry and sweetened vanilla and more… The Abunadh is much more of a sherry with mouth watering orange marmalade and classic sun dried raisins. So though they both scream Sherry, they both have pretty obvious differences in the nose.

Palate:
The Abunadh at full strength is tannic and heavy handed. Holding it for a while on the tongue may be more dangerous than helpful to analyzing the flavors in the juice. The raisins reappear and pepper finds its way to the middle of the tongue. The alcohol is overwhelming though. Considering cask strengths like this (60%) can be cut in half, you’ve essentially bought two bottles of tastiness. That alone doubles the value of the Abunadh! So it’s really a $180 bottle vs a $300 bottle now! Minus the Rare Cask packaging, this has quickly become a fair fight!! The Rare Cask is much more kind to the palate… soft sherry gives rise to spices and pepper. They’re forward but not overwhelming.

And now we add water!

The Rare Cask was already mellow and the dilution only brings a touch of sweetness to the forefront but it’s still very much a spicy sherry bomb. Macallan knows their fans very well.
The A’bunadh isn’t any less tannic. It rushes to pull the water from your mouth but hold out for the sugar and spice of the Sherry. It might be the side by side reviews of two sherry bombs that’s hurting my objective… I’m betting on that… or the A’bunadh really did just shed its sugar.

Finish:
The Rare Cask is only slightly oily and lingers like sweet sugar cooking over a fire. A hint of caramelized sugar with a touch of smoke. Burnt sugar edges if you’ve ever had sugar fried into a pancake (like they do on the streets in Korea). The A’bunadh’s finish is manageable and not nearly as lingering. Surprising.

So how do they compare? The Macallan finds sugar and the A’bunadh finds spice. They both find sherry and they both taste amazing! They’re both worth their cost but the A’bunadh makes a great substitute for the Rare Cask as long as you’re not hunting for that extra sugary sweet over smoke over sherry.

Macallan Rare Cask vs Aberlour A'bunadh

Macallan Rare Cask vs Aberlour A’bunadh

Direction and Honesty

Hello there, fellow Scotch lovers!

We’ve been quite absent from our website as of late thanks to the distraction we call “Instagram“. Between our natural inclination to want to take pictures ([Scotch] photographs food photography and [Sniff] photographs weddings) and the ease of two way communication on IG, we’ve been quite busy discussing bottles and enjoying scotch with others instead of posting to the blog.

This all came to a head yesterday as The Macallan decided to repost one of our pictures (a funny one mind you!) and we ended up getting quite a bit of attention from many of their followers. I exchanged a series of texts with [Scotch] and we came to realize it’d been a few month since we had posted to the blog. So we started talking about the need to post but like every time we talk about new posts, I start to think about the potential for richer content.

Yes, we can still provide a pair of perspectives on bottles when it comes to flavor profiles but I think we’ll start getting into a bit more of the Scotchucation we set out to provide initially. Let’s learn a bit more about the distilleries that we love. Let’s delve a little deeper into what it is we love about certain bottles. Let’s dig a little more into the realm of Scotch and why it’s so magical.

Join us, won’t you?

Which would you like?

-Slainte!

-[Sniff]