Hey there fellow scotch and whiskey lovers! [Scotch] and I just published a little video to help you with your Christmas shopping for the whisk(e)y lovers in your life!! Watch the video and let us know what you’re looking to get for your loved ones this year!
Back on the blog with another Scotch VS Scotch!
I picked these two contenders purely based on their age. Not that age means anything but it’s interesting to see how different two bottles of distillate, aged for the same amount of time in barrels, can taste. In one corner, we have the Glenfarclas 17. It hails from a family run distillery founded in 1865 (well purchased from Robert Hay who actually founded it in 1836 but it’s been owned by the Grants since). In the other corner, we have the Highland Park 17 Ice. From the Norse mythos that overrun Orkney, this Edrington owned distillery was the first to score a perfect 100 in the Ultimate Spirits Challenge (Highland Park 25 in 2013). All of their histories aside, we’ll see which one flat out tastes better!
The Highland Park (HP) 17 Ice is just a shade off of white grape juice. The super light color outside of the blue bottle is just another call to the “Ice” name. The Glenfarclas 17 is a slightly darker shade of gold, almost like looking at a gold ring underwater.
The Glenfarclas weighs quite a bit more on the nose than the HP. The Glenfarclas really hits you with sherry spices but with a touch of water a surprising bit of oak rises to your nose. The HP side-by-side with such a sherried monster is actually very, very sweet. More sweet than it is smokey and peaty which is a nice departure from typical HP offerings. Once again, I’m loving each of these offerings twice as much thanks to the contrast created by enjoying them side by side.
The Glenfarclas is like butter on the tongue with sherry, cinnamon, and Glenfarclas’ famous Christmassy spices. It’s got such a rich texture on the palate that it’s hard not to like. There’s a wonderful balance of oak and sherry. The HP on the other hand is slightly tannic, starts a bit soft and sweet, but explodes quickly into a peat bomb. Chewing it to find flavors, it’s a bottle of peat, wood, and spices. The spices are so edgy over the woodiness, it’s almost like… well… Ice. WHOA. With a bit of water tossed into that 53.9% ABV, the Ice explodes into a vanilla laden comet headed straight for your tongues orbit! Now THAT is a nice change of character!!
The finish on the Glenfarclas is a bit of apples over spices all burned and served over smoking oak. The finish on the HP is oily and peaty which is not much of a surprise. Unfortuantely, even after the water drew out the awesome sweetness, the HP still finishes like a fireball of peat. Pity.
So there you have it. To my palate, personally, I’d pick the Glenfarclas every day. I don’t like peat. My pocket isn’t a fan of spending $300 on the HP either compared to the $100 I spent on the Glenfarclas. It’s not often that I’d claim I have a definite winner in my book but there are too many factors that push the scale in one solid direction… for me. But everyone’s palate is different. Which do you prefer? Have you tried both? Let us know!!
It’s #WhiskyWednesday and we’re talking about whiskies that bring the fruit to your palate! Let us know what you think! Are there some whiskies that you love that are super fruity?
C: A golden pale honey, syrupy and coating as I swirl the glass.
Noah’s Mill Bourbon has a cute little story explaining how it came to be and why, out of necessity, farmers interchanged between distillers and farmers to keep corn crops from going to waste. Cute stories aside, this barrel strength bourbon is a heavyweight value hitter. All the bourbon flavors you could ask for with enough unique characteristics to keep you sipping for more. Bottled in small batch (I’ve read less than 20 barrels) by the Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, who run out of the Willett Distillery in Bardstown, this bourbon is a blend of mash bills that is left in a bit of clouded mysticism. Although the make up of the bourbon might be questionable, the flavor is definitely not.
C: Slightly Mahogany
N: Had a difficult time sorting out the nose on this one and then it hit me, I ran to the fridge and grabbed my bottle of Luxardo Cherries. Boom, nailed it! Milk chocolate covered Luxardo cherries. A little floral, and a syrupy sweet nose. Sticking my deeper into the Glencairn reveals the oak. Definitely doesn’t nose like a younger whisk(e)y. I’ve read that the contents of this bottle are made up of anywhere from 4-15 year old bourbon, no one seems quite sure since they took the age statement from the bottle. A vanilla custard covered in whipped cream smell prepares me for what could be a very sweet bourbon.
P: First sip makes me question how this is 57.15%. It’s very lightweight, almost like water. But the richness and spice are a little mind-boggling. It’s creamy and spicy, round and oaky. Honestly it’s difficult to come up with positives or negatives about this bourbon. That’s neither a good or a bad thing though. There is a very corny sweetness, a spiced heat that rises halfway through the tasting, climaxes, then drops slowly into a mellow appeal. This is a very bourbon-y bourbon if that makes any sense whatsoever. All of the flavors are there, vanilla, creamy buttery high fat caramel, with the addition of brandied cherries. Fresh figs drizzled with wild flower honey, not clover honey though. Lighter, sweeter, more floral honey. There are some very floral tones that can be picked out from the deep richness.
F: The orange flavors that you would get from XO cognac. An earthiness, forest floor and old farmhouse finish, all good things. Very slight spearmint finish. This is a very unique bourbon that I would love to continue to explore. This is a steal for under $50. The amount of complexity that I’m tasting would fool anyone into thinking that this was a 15 year or older bourbon in a blind tasting. -[Scotch]
Balcones Distillery is unapologetically real. They want you to know that from the very start. Very Texan if you know what I mean. Their pledge of authenticity lets you know that they never use other companies distillate, they never use aged whisky from other sources to blend and that they mash, ferment and distill 100% of what they sell. With well over 50 medals from different competitions, mostly gold, let’s see if the liquid in the bottle lives up to its massive hype!
C: Toasted oak with a light yellow rim.
N: An undeniable butterscotch smell emanates from the glass as my nose approaches. The kind of butterscotch you find at a grandma’s house. Not the good Brach’s variety, more the off brand that uses imitation everything but it still tastes good. Included within that smell is of course vanilla, a little peppery sawdust (like you just stepped into Home Depot’s lumber department), and Hungarian paprika (slightly dried and smoked red pepper). The oak on the nose is more similar to pressed wood beams than it is oak staves. Slight notes of wood sour and freshness, not burnt or charred oak. The last couple sniffs reveal caramel and sweet toffee notes, telling my tongue to be prepared for what’s next.
P: First sip reveals the sweetness that I was looking for in the nose. Vanilla and light oak are the dominating flavors. It’s very lightweight on the tongue and at 106 proof you would expect some kind of burn, but it’s very drinkable. The sweetness of this bourbon goes really well with the high alcohol, they both work together to make it very enjoyable. After each sip, an enjoyable dryness coats my tongue inviting another sip. Thankfully the oak isn’t sour as expected from the nose and it’s an enjoyable toasted taste. Tasting again, there’s a fair bit of nutmeg spice and pepper. The description on the bottle talks about “mellow notes of baked pears and apples” but I never get that. The fruit to me is very subdued, overpowered mostly by the spice and sweet vanilla note. Which is definitely not a bad thing. When I think of Texas, I think big, bold flavor with the authentic spice of the South and this is what I get with this whisky. Big bold delicious whisky flavor.
F: The finish is perfumed with spice, vanilla sweetness and a slight drying in the back of the mouth. Toasted malt and oak are left lingering for a short while with a light smoke coming out right at the end.
The Balcones Texas Single Malt Whisky is a solid American whisky. A great thing to bring along with you to a camping trip or just enjoyed in front of a fire amongst friends.