ScotchNSniff @ The Whiskey Blogger Summit NYC 2016

Originally, I typed up a ginormous, esoteric post about our adventure in NYC last weekend with Michters, but looking through the pictures again, I really wonder if I needed so many words to talk about the beautiful venue and the amazing time we had.

Instead, I’ve opted for this much shorter post that will be much more picture filled (with small notes) to give you thousands and thousands of words to contemplate as you look through them. Thank you so much to Whiskey Nate for the incredible invite and thank you very much to Michters for hosting sixteen of the luckiest whisk(e)y bloggers in the world!!! I’m sure we’ll delve into more details from the weekend as we release reviews on the Michter’s line so until then…

Cheers!!!

-[Sniff]

We should change the name from the Big Apple to the Big Whiskey! Who’s with me!?

The Nomad Hotel penthouse rooftop? Go on…

Michter’s is an incredible host!!

The selection for the tasting was fantastic!! From the US*1 offerings all the way to the 20 year bourbon!

The weather could not have been more perfect.

I borrowed the 20 Year more than once to add to the already impressive skyline.

The place settings for the tasting🙂

[Scotch] talking it up with Brian and Tim of Whiskey Library DC.

[Scotch] and Whiskey Nate shooting the breeze.

The gents from The Whiskey Forums

Diane chatting it up with Whiskey Library DC

Sara and Ticha of the Sircle Media Team

Scotch Trooper in his element🙂

Whiskey+Architecture

Whiskey Nate giving us some insight into the world of Michters

Steve, head of sales. Dan, distillery manager. Super nice guys!

Taking a look at barrel staves and Michter’s process for aging!

Behind the bar view?

WOW

Michter’s Based cocktails? Awesome!

What we nicknamed “The DC” table😛

Did I mention the view!?

Moving on to dinner…

What a menu🙂

Let’s toast!! To an incredible night!!

Slainte!! Cheers!!

Scotch VS Scotch : Blasphemy Edition

Let me start by saying that the Dark Cove from Ardbeg in both it’s forms are peated.

Let me also say that my disdain for peat, though it has been waning, still burns like the fire of a thousand suns.

Let me finally say that the Dark Cove is an olive branch from these sadistic lovers of peat to the speyside sweet lovers of the whisky world.

Now that I’ve cleared the air, let me muddle it a bit with that new offering from Ardbeg.

Today’s SVS will be a comparison between two of the same bottles but at different ABVs and for different demographics. The first demographic are the members of the Ardbeg committee. You can join online but with all of the peat that Ardbegs are known for, why would you really want to?😉 The second demographic is your normal scotch buying person.

The Dark Cover committee release was released earlier then the standard release and at a higher ABV which does some interesting things to the CNPF of the pour. Let’s get right into this.

COLOR:
Ardbeg claims this to be the darkest Ardbeg ever but the color isn’t all that dark. The standard release (SR) is an inviting banana yellow and the committee release (CR) is a shade of brown darker, like a banana that’s been left out almost too long.

NOSE:
The SR smells of a sweeter version of the typical Ardbeg distillate that seems to have been calmed quite a bit by the sherry. It’s so much more inviting than your typical Ardbeg leather/smoke/peat/squid ink/sandwich meat/rubber band grossness. Side by side with the CR, the SR is much more obviously sweet. Where the CR has a more medicinal and astringent notes that border iodine, the SR is much lighter with a touch of fruit sugar (which is much more suble than say… raw sugar or candy sugar). The added alcohol in the CR seems to mute and mask even more of the peat (eight thumbs up!!!). It’s allows more of the cinnamon, smokey character to rise from the glass.

PALATE:
The SR is a glass of apple and sherry mixed into a pile of tobacco, ash, peat, and leather. The CR starts with a bit of spice towards the edge of the tongue but it’s quickly drowned in some of the softer flavors. That slightly tannic, spiced start gives way to oak and an almost orange citrust flavor that’s surprisingly enjoyable.

FINISH:
The SR is light and not absolutely horrible which is a pleasant surprise from a Speyside sweets lover. The CR is quite a bit warmer for obvious reasons and still a reminder that you’re drinking Ardbeg. On the plus side, it doesn’t seem like these flavors will linger like the Ten or Corryvreckan so it’s not like trying to kiss your significant other after a cigar😛

I really started this SVS with the idea that I’d be comparing apples to apples but as you can read from the palate, it’s more like apples and oranges which isn’t a bad thing.🙂

Slainte to the first Ardbeg to be truly enjoyable to me!

-[Sniff]

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Smoke on the sea water….

This new expression was released to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Lagavulin Distillery. The story goes, that an 1880’s whisky writer Englishman, by the name of Alfred Barnard, tasted an 8 year old Lagavulin and said that it was “exceptionally fine” and that it should be “held in high repute.” Let’s give this “exceptionally fine” whisky a review and see how it holds up to those claims.
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C: slightly lime green tinted, very faint yellow, clear. Sauvignon blanc.

N: When you open a bag of chocolate chips, there’s a cornstarch coated chocolate chip smell. Sweet chicory and mocha. Deep within the nose I smell lemon rind, with the wax covering it, muted, but lemon. This is of course, after moving past the wall of smoke, bonfire smoke, with a slight salinity in the air, as if you’re in a salt mine. But you should probably never make a bonfire in a mine, short supply of oxygen in small spaces seems dangerous. A lightly sweet malt hits you as soon as your nose enters the glass. You could literally nose the glass for a very long while, picking out new smells. For an 8 year old single malt, the depth within the nose is pretty incredible.
P: At 48% it’s pretty easy to drink. It’s a sweet, smoky arrival, that seems to build and increase in smoke as it sits in your mouth. As you swallow, it tastes as though a bonfire gets started in your mouth while you’re near the ocean, dried twigs, leaves and all. Taking another sip, the sweetness ends relatively abruptly, but the smoke continues and billows.
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F: The finish is smoke, for days. As I’m drinking this, my wife says,”That’s a smoky one”. Very very big understatement. There is a sweet, malty finish and very light smoked spice, like smoked paprika and charred mesquite charcoal. I just rummaged through my spices cabinet and it’s a mix of smoked paprika and 1 year old ground coriander. The finish has now lasted over 15min and I’m still breathing fire and spices.
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I have to say that my favorite of the Lagavulin bunch is the 12 year old, specifically the one released in 2014. I enjoyed the sweeter, herbal and more salty sea air of the 12 year to the 8 year. And I enjoy both the 12 year and the 8 year over the 16 year. The Distillers Edition is a completely different beast that combines sweet with smoke and peat, and if you know me, you know I hate sweet and salty foods so it easily translates to my whisky drinking as well.
If you like bonfire smoke, ocean spray and not kissing your spouse until after you brush your teeth, you’ll love this and you’ll definitely consider this “exceptionally fine.” This is the kind of scotch you sit by a fire with and tell stories, Nay!, telling tales of forgotten riches, valiant knights and journeying hobbits’s.
Let us know in the comments if this whisky is your style or a pass, we’d love to hear from you. Slainte!
Scotch

Scotch VS Scotch : Macallan 12 Double Cask vs Macallan 12 Sherry

So you’re walking around your favorite liquor store and lo’ and behold you spot the newest offering from The Macallan. In it’s pretty blue box, it’s hard to miss.

The Macallan 12 Year Double Cask

You pick it up and read that although the casks used are both sherry seasoned, it comes from a mix of European casks AND American casks. “How will that affect the flavor?” you think to yourself. “Will it taste all that different from the standard twelve year in euro sherry casks?” you wonder. “Did I leave the stove on?!” you ask yourself in a panic and rush home to make sure your home is still standing. Now that you’re home, you can’t stop wondering if you’ve made a giant mistake by not picking up that new bottle and you begin to cry yourself into a corner…

Annnnnd SCENE.

No, the Macallan 12 Double Cask isn’t something to cry over unless it’s slipping out of your hands onto a concrete surface! It is pretty tasty and at $60 it’s a solid 12 year bottle from Macallan. It’s also a great representation of how important the wood selection of barrels actually is. Enough with the talking, let’s get to the review!

NOSE
The 12 year Sherry Cask (SC) reeks of sherry soaked raisins versus the Double Cask (DC) that drowns yours senses in honey. The SC is rich like fudge in the nose while the DC is a field of sugary honey. The contrast between the two noses is awesome! A tale of two noses!

PALATE
The DC has a bit of spice on the tongue but it quickly opens up to spiced apples and more honey with a touch of citrus. Lemon citrus though, not orange type citrus notes that other Macallans are known for. It’s very light on the tongue and more like water than oil. The SC is less spicy on the tongue and smooooooth. A touch more viscous than the DC, the SC very obviously tastes of sherry, light peppery spices, and the raisins from the nose.

FINISH
The DC finish is light and warm and lingers but not in any obtrusive way. More of the sherry, floral, and almost lemon zest citrus notes make their rounds in your mouth. The finish of the SC is a bit oaky and enjoyable and only lingers for a small while.

They’re both well balanced and solid offerings from Macallan and they really make you wonder if Macallan will take this double oak approach to other age statements. (18 Double Cask? 21 Double Cask? Cask Strength Double Cask??!) I also wonder why they decided to create a double cask line in the first place when the fine oak series exists (three types of oak, including ex-bourbon).

Have you picked up the 12 Double Cask?? Do you like it?? Let us know what you think!!

Slainte!!

-Sniff

The Macallan Reflexion : Thoughts and a Review

This blog post has been nine months in the making! It’s a whisky-blog baby! [Scotch] and I were raised to make a big deal out of birthdays. Not necessarily in terms of parties and extravagance but we were raised to spend birthdays as a celebration of family. Because of that, we generally tend to plan for birthdays way too far in advance. Where am I going with this?

Rewind to Christmas of LAST YEAR. Just before Christmas, I found a bottle of Macallan Reflexion at a local DC Costco and knew I had to have it. Not for Christmas but for my 35th birthday so with some saved up cash (and few “benjamins” from the ‘rents) I purchased it as a future birthday gift knowing I wanted to do something crazy for my own birthday (for once, it’s rare that I celebrate myself and as you’ll see in a minute, I still managed to avoid it!)

Fast forward to the second to last weekend in August! I invited a handful of friends to join me in celebrating another year on this planet by sipping whisky with me! (Four of us have August birthdays!) We had a handful of bottles to sample that I’ve been collecting for the last two and a half years (including Pappy Van Winkle 23, Macallan Reflexion, Macallan 21 Fine Oak, Macallan Rare Cask, Michters 10 Bourbon, Glenfiddich 26, Bookers Rye, Highland Park Ice, and Jeffersons 25 year rye). I wanted to share them all with some of my friends.

We blind taste tested the three Macallan’s, which was a hoot, and everyone brought some food (pot luck style) so we were all stuffed and loving life. Getting the opportunity and having the ability to share such wonderful hooch with friends is the whole point of drinking in the first place. I was hoping to create a once in a life time experience that we could all enjoy.🙂

Anywho, let’s move on to the review we’ve all been waiting for😀

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Hopefully you’re able to find your dream bottle
and enjoy it one day be it thousands of dollars
or tens of dollars.
All that matters is spending time with friends and family🙂
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COLOR: Reddish brownish gold, like lightly used motor oil or toasted cinnamon sticks.

NOSE: SHERRY, the nose reeks of a candied vanilla caramel mixed in with tons of Macallan’s signature sherry bomb.

PALATE: Ridiculously smooth and viscous, it has an ever so slight edge of burn, orange sweet-vanilla marmalade, subdued Sherry spices. You’re rewarded for chewing this delectable dram. It’s like the best of bourbon and sherry melded together with the velvety mouthfeel of some of my favorite pours.

Finish: The Sherry spices are revisited ten fold blossoming into freshly cracked white pepper, sherry, and light touches of oak. It’s just slightly tannic but not unpleasant in any way.

If you love sherry, you probably already love Macallan. This citrus-y vanilla mix is no exception to their family of tasty offerings. The signature notes that Macallan is famous for are all here but in a formula that exudes softness and elegance. The bottle is a metaphor, really.

Is it worth it?

I wonder if it IS worth it. It can be found for $979 on master of malt, $1250 at Costco, and $1900 at total wine. It’s amazing how wide the range of prices are for the same bottle but as always, a bottle is worth as much as you’re willing to pay (see: secondary whisky market). At the end of the day, getting to share such a beautiful presentation of whisky for friends while celebrating a birthday, well, that’s priceless. Even if your buddy’s wife throws back half of her Reflexion pour while trying to “catch up” during the blind taste testing.😛