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 😀

**************************************************************
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 🙂
**************************************************************

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. 😛



Macallan Edition No 1 VS Macallan Edition No 2

Greetings fellow scotch lovers! Let’s jump right into this, shall we? Odds are good if you’re here, you are already on the fence about purchasing the newly released “Macallan Edition No 2”. Let us help you make the right decision!

The No 1 was an exercise in wood selections that brought Macallan’s Bob Delgarno’s ability to select tasty casks right to the forefront of our palates. Six first fill casks and two second fill casks have been chosen with seven woods from Europe and one from the states to showcase that classic Macallan taste. On the flip side, for the No 2, Bob Delgarno collaborated with three brothers who run a restaurant that has been the number one restaurant in the world… twice! Reading into the rich history of these three brothers, I feel like [Scotch] should be writing the back story on their restaurant: El Celler de Can Roca.

It’s nifty how the three Roca brothers close their restaurant every august to travel the world and bring experiences back to the kitchen together. That’s fascinating in a handful of ways and probably plays a great part in their cask selections. One of them is a sommelier so I’m sure that plays a huge part too. Along with the chef and patisssier, it makes more sense to look at their barrel selections knowing their roles in their restaurant. All of that said, it should be no surprise that a whisky maker known for it’s select woods, expensive offerings, and brand status would pick such a well known restaurant amongst the world’s biggest food lovers to collaborate in such an endeavor.

COLOR:
Light golden toast. The perfect color toast for warm PB&J sandwiches or perfectly golden grilled cheeses. The fact that the colors are identical for both of these offerings is just another testament to the truth that color really does not matter.

NOSE:
Side by side, the No 1 is much more oaky and sherry spice compare to the floral and fruit apple-y tree fruilty notes of the No 2. As a lover of Glenfiddich’s apple-y line, this dram smells like the best of both worlds! A Macallan sherried Glenfiddich!! Would that NOT be amazing??? Oh wait, that’s what this is!! This type of sweetness on the nose is uncharacteristic of Macallan but certainly not unwelcome. If you imagine that most Macallan tastes “dark”, this would be the “lighter” side of Mac! The No 1 on the other hand, has that sherry, orange-peel spice we’ve come to love from the Macallan.

PALATE:
The No 2 punches the palate with spices at 48.2% ABV but immediately rolls over into sweeter notes. Like a German shepherd that looks aggressive but immediately rolls onto his back for belly rubs! The No 2 has a silk mouthfeel and it slightly tannic. I’m getting ginger notes with something sweet lingering above them. The No 1 has a completely different feel than the No 2, and rolls on the tongue with a feel somewhere between water and milk. The taste of oak rises to the occasion but not in an unpleasant way. It’s like the oak chips that are consumed in a BBQ smoker so it’s more subtle and less like chewing a burnt toothpick. Dark spices like cinnamon and nutmeg present themselves slathered over quite a bit of toffee.

FINISH:
The finish of the No 2 brings some vanilla iced cookies to the surface along with spices. Maybe something like vanilla iced ginger snaps. Man, that’s good and I don’t even like gingersnaps! The finish on the No 1 is, again, okay when enjoyed side by side with the No 2.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Unfortunately, in my mind, this isn’t a competition at all. It all comes down to what you’re in the mood for. If you want nutmeg-cinnamon toffee served on an oak plate, grab the No 1. But if you want vanilla drizzled gingersnaps? I think you know what you need to grab. For $100 a bottle, you’re getting a LOT of Macallan. Based on the price of Macallan’s scrumptious 18, the No 2 is a definite value.

Slainte!

-[Sniff]

Rhino Whiskey

We need to address the Rhino in the room.

No, I don’t mean elephant. I’m talking about the Rhinovirus.

rhi·no·vi·rus
ˌrīnōˈvīrəs,ˈrīnōˌvī-/

noun

noun: rhinovirus; plural noun: rhinoviruses
  1. any of a group of picornaviruses, including those that cause some forms of the common cold.

Yes.

Sniff here.

I’ve caught a cold and it’s made tasting whisky impossible. I poured a wee dram of a new bottle of Ardbeg Dark Cove and it tasted more horrible than normal. (Which isn’t saying much for the peated taint of Scotland but it was especially horrible. I actually liked the flavors in the Dark Cove committee release…)  At first I blamed the Ardbeg but after some careful thought…

Nope! I just poured myself some of my favorite Glenfiddich (the 19 AoD BCR) and sure enough the flavors that I know and love are missing completely. Knowing that 90% of what you taste is based on what you smell, none of this should be a surprise, at all.

I guess I’m stuck sipping on Robitussin CF from now until I’m over this bug. Wait… Will ‘tussin taste any better in a glencairn glass??

Ladies and gentlemen… the Robitussin CNPF!

Color: Ruby koolaid red

Nose: Medicinal, definitely medicinal.

Palate: I’m pretty sure this doesn’t have the pizzazz of their grape expression but their standard expression is nothing to scoff at! It’s super viscous, like Pappy Van Winkle 23 but with less complexity and obviously much less age! Again the medicinal notes from the nose are just dousing my tongue!

Finish: This dram has me feeling better already!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this fun post!

Happy Friday fellow scotch lovers!!

-[Sniff]

Scotch VS Scotch : Kirkland 18 Sherry versus Glenfiddich 18 versus Macallan 18

Value is a funny thing.
ˈvalyo͞o/
noun
noun: value; plural noun: values
  1. 1.
    the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.
No matter how many reviews we write, I can never get the idea out of my head that the worth that anyone has for a bottle of whisk(e)y is always subjective. We try to give an idea of the value of a bottle based on its flavors divided by its price tag and it seems to be a solid way to give the most objective review that we can. There’s nothing worse than spending $200 (or more!) on a lack luster bottle that you purchased for a special event! And there are few better things that spending $60 on a bottle that brings joy to you and your friends.

All of that said, today’s Scotch versus Scotch is a three way battle between some 18 year old offerings. In one corner we have a bottle from Costco, the Kirkland Highland 18 Sherry. In the second corner we have a bottle of Glenfiddich 18. And in the third corner of our triangle shaped ring, we have the Macallan 18. Two of these offerings are finished in sherry and the Macallan is aged in sherry alone so this should be an interesting comparison. The price differential between these three bottles is also extreme so we’ll get a great idea of the value of each of these bottles.

 

COLOR
The Kirkland (bottled by Alexander Murray and Co) and the Macallan are almost identical in their slightly reddish golden hue. The Glenfiddich is noticeably a few shades lighter in color.

NOSE
The Kirkland 18 Sherry cask smells like barley! Sherry barrels generally impart a nutty and spice filled flavor into the distillate they cradle and the barrels that AM&Co happened to pick for Costco are a pleasant deviation from the norm. There are also toffee notes strewn about the barley but they’re quite a bit more subtle than any typical whisky. The Glenfiddich has the fruitiest nose of the three… but that should come as not surprise to any Glenfiddich fans. Freshly sliced apples are drowning in sherry (sherry apple pie O.O) and soft baked tree fruits are sprinkled in small dashes of sugar! This is heaven! Ahhh, the Macallan 18. World famous for scotch lovers, it reeks of Sherry with bits of toasted oak. I know this bottle far too well. [Scotch] gifted me my first bottle last Christmas and I’ve already got a second replacement bottle for the inevitable demise of this liquid gold. In case you’ve never tasted this sherry and chocolate concoction, I’ll just leave a link to its previous review here.

 

 

PALATE
The Kirkland is light on the tongue with Sherry and barley! If you’ve ever had Korean barley water (보리차), you’ll find yourself right at home! There’s a bit of light fruit which is no surprise considering the distillery chosen to source the 18 year old hooch. There may be some grapes that are also present in the mix. Water brings up some unpleasant oak notes so if you’d like to enjoy this, like the Pappy Van Winkle 23, skip the water! As I bring the Glenfiddich towards my face to sip it, I’m immediately greeted by a bowl of fruit sugar! This pour is the most classy rendition of an apple pie in liquid form. From the soft, luscious baked apples to the cinnamon spices, it does not disappoint. I’d like to pair this with Thanksgiving this year. 🙂  Whichever casks they chose for batch 3454 all deserve a medal! The richness of the Macallan 18s sherry and spices blast to the forefront of your tongue. It’s a small aria in Macallan’s opera of sherry (compared to the NAS cask strength) but along with sherry comes chocolate and oranges and even a touch of oak. Decadent.

 

 

FINISH
The Kirkland finish is sherry spicy with fruity notes. It’s definitely enjoyable as a sipper. The Glenfiddich finishes with oloroso spices and pepper… another solid offering from the valley of the deer. The Macallan lingers like an old friend just in from out of town. A best friend.

 

 

 

FINAL THOUGHTS
The Kirkland was $60 for the bottle, the Glenfiddich $80, and the Macallan $200. Not really a fair comparison when there’s more than a 300% difference in price between two of these bottles. That said, each of these bottles holds value for their respective audiences. The Macallan is something people can brag to their friends about trying. The Glenfiddich is something that can be shared with friends at home. And the Kirkland? Obviously a value at its price point and that’s more than admirable.

 

Which is your favorite? Which have you tried? Let us know. 🙂

 

Slainte

 

-[Sniff]

Scotch VS Scotch : Glenfiddich 21 Rum Cask Reserve vs Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask

Happy Friday fellow scotch lovers!

It being Friday, I figure there are few things more fun than sharing some spirits with friends! What are you supposed to share with them though? Rum? Scotch? What If I told you, you could share BOTH with them at the same time? Welcome to today’s Scotch versus Scotch: the Glenfiddich 21 Rum Cask Reserve and the Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask.

COLOR
Their colors are almost identical with just a slight tint of extra darkness edging into the golden Glenfiddich glass. As it turns out, a seven year difference in casks doesn’t always mean a huge difference in color. There are so many factors that go into the impartation of color (e-150a aside) beyond age. Sherry usually imparts a dark redness to the spirit but rum, it seems, is all about golden hues.

NOSE
The Glenfiddich’s nose is filled with butter cookies with a touch of their signature tree fruits waiting in the wing. There are some ripe citrusy notes from what smell like orange peels (with just a small splash of chocolate) to a touch of refreshing lemony-lime notes. It’s a fruity mixed cocktail that instantly transports you to a warm spot on the sand!

The Balvenie in comparison is a glass of brown sugar and fudge warmed over honey. Some fruits begin to appear and I’m sure I can see Glenfiddich on the other side of the same rummy beach.

Going back to the glenfiddich, you can smell the difference in the richness of the nose of each pour. This is one of the best parts of doing a side by side comparison of such contrasting spirits: some of the commonalities melt away and the distinct idiosyncrasies of the whiskies rise to the surface.

PALATE
Initially on the palate the Glenfiddich is light and unassuming. It’s raw sugar cane over baking spices with a slightly tannic mouthfeel. The oak from 21 years of aging in two barrels is starting to show which (most likely) explains the tannins.

Taking the Balvenie to the nose again, I’m anticipating the fudge before I’ve even sipped it! The mouthfeel is a much lighter body than the Glenfiddich. Where the Glenfiddich’s mouthfeel was a Jaguar F-Type, the Balvenie is an Ariel Atom. An Ariel atom filled with creamy, buttery, honey and vanilla cookies! Luscious for something so light and an absolute joy to savor!

FINISH
The Glenfiddich finishes with a bit of spices rising to the surface alongside more citrus. The oak really draws attention to itself as the medium bodied finish dips its toes into the Caribbean sand one last time.

The finish in the Balvenie is a bit lacking (in length and intensity) compared to the Glenfiddich but I’m not sure I’d like an overbearing oak finish to end something so decadent.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Picking the winner for this rum battle is EASY. Do you love big hulking flavors and wine? The Glenfiddich is for you! The rich flavors over slightly tannic mouthfeel will bring the beach home with you. Do you love to gorge yourself on buttery fudge cookies? Then the Balvenie is for you! The decadent nose and palate will set up a rum bakery in your glass.

Do you love all of those things??

(If you do, odds are your wallet isn’t going to like you very soon! 🙂 )

Which is YOUR personal favorite?

Slainte!

-[Sniff]

Macallan 18 vs Glenmorangie Signet

From two power houses with two very different offerings, we bring you one of the best tasting ScotchVSScotch tastings to date. The idea of comparing two chocolatey scotches had crossed my mind a few times but I was really craving some chocolate recently and decided to enjoy that cocoa-y sugar the best way we I know how.

The Signet is made with a blend of some of Glenmorangie’s older whisky (30+ years according to their website) and some younger whisky made from roasted “chocolate” barley malt. It’s called chocolate malt but it gets its nickname from the flavors brought out of the barley not so much the method by which its roasted and dried (which is the real defining factor for making chocolate malt).

Not to be a bore but the the Macallan 18 is made in typical Macallan fashion. Pour a spirit into some magically delicious Spanish oak and voila! Er, something like that. 🙂

The colors are an extremely similar shade of medium roasted caramel but the Mac 18 is ever so slightly darker. It’s almost like comparing two oranges in a bunch. They might differ slightly but they’re both orange! Let’s move onto the nose…

Wow. This is just another reason I’ve fallen in love with comparison tasting and really a reason I think tasting events are more enjoyable (sometimes) than just sitting down with a single glass at home. Both of these pours are rich with velvety chocolate when enjoyed alone but side by side the subtle nuances of flavor really rise to the top. The Macallan reeks of espresso and sherry. No surprise there! The Signet changes from its normally-chocolate-self to a refreshing orange and fruit medley with a mint and ginger overlay.

On the palate, the Signet is spice laden and packs a flavorful punch. Cinnamon and black pepper take the stage with fruit sugar waiting in the wing but never getting the spotlight. It finishes just as fresh as the nose. Minty, light,and refreshing.

The Mac 18 is velvet on the tongue and almost the polar opposite of the Signet on the tongue. Sherry spices usher almost-mandarin-sweet oranges to the front of your attention. The spices that commonly accompany sherry aged scotches are extremely well balanced against splashes of milk chocolate, apples, and just a bit of oak. The 18 finish seems to last and last. Fantastic!

So there you have it!! Have you tried either of these or both of these wonderful offerings? Which is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

Slainte,

-[Sniff]

Auchentoshan Three Wood vs Kavalan Classic

Wait.

A scotch versus a Taiwanese whisky? Granted their both single malts, this review exists because of the magic that is sherry. 🙂

The three wood NAS offering from Auchentoshan is a dark molasses brown in the bottle and pours just a touch lighter, no doubt the color imbued by two different types of sherry casks. Im sure we’ll see how much the ex bourbon casks add to the bottle on the palate.

The Kavalan Classic (also a no-age-statement) is just a shade closer to gold than the three wood but packs the same type of bold sherry influence that is easy to love. Doubly so if you’re a Macallan fan.

On the nose the three wood immediately brings caramel chews to mind but carries a handful of oddly paired background notes including citrus zest and raisins. Yes, caramel raisins sound awesome but the citrusy, slightly vegetal smells might divide some noses. It’s a bit refreshing and a bit odd at the same time. This is all in contrast to the rich honey and syrupy sugar nose of the Kavalan. The sherry also shows its face but not in the same round fashion the three wood displays. My memory of each bottle definitely had the word “BOLD” written on them but side by side, it’s interesting to see the sherry take a back seat to their subtleties and nuances. Let’s get to tastin’!

The Kavalan is smooth on the tongue. Just a touch of alcoholic bite but it’s hard to drive attention from the sherry spices mixed in over light fruit syrup. It’s luscious on the tongue and borderline velvety with just a touch of fig. It finishes wonderfully with more sherry spices and a slightly oaky flavor. Man oh man. I knew there was a reason I bought two bottles after getting a taste at whiskey extravaganza last year. It’s hard NOT to like this dram! Let’s move on!

Ah, the three wood is sweet to start but finds itself sharing in the same vegetal notes that were hiding in the nose. It’s thinner on the tongue than the velvet blanket of Kavalan. It also has a bit of smoke on the finish. Alone, this isn’t a half bad pour but side by side with the Kavalan, its flaws really make their way to the forefront. This was a pretty terrible matchup but considering these bottles are within $15 of each other, it’s not too crazy to pit them against each other.

So there we have it.

Maybe it’s the third round of distillation at Auchentoshan… or maybe Taiwan really is onto something but this was a knockout by Kavalan.

If I were you though? I’d pick up at least one bottle of the Kavalan Classic. There’s a reason their “Solist” offering took Whiskey of the Year last year.

Slainte 🙂

-[Sniff]

Event Review: Macallan’s RaiseTheMacallan

( A combination of checking dead links on our review page and perusing through my personal emails yielded a free post! Granted this post is three months delayed but it’s still relevant and fun to read, I promise. 😉 )

Hello there fellow scotch lovers!

Sniff here giving his own report on the Macallan tasting and how it compares to other tastings that SnS has attended. I think it’s pretty impossible to write about these tastings without comparing them to each other because of obvious differences and similarities. Let’s start with the good, shall we?

Solid location. Carnegie Library is a gorgeous little spot but these well known brands seem to really pick gorgeous spots (Balvenie @ the Carnegie Institute for Science, Glenlivet @ the Longview Gallery). The layout had three main spaces, a waiting space downstairs for those who arrive early, a pre-tasting space, and the actual tasting room space.

The early-arrival space was just a pipe and draped room downstairs with no accouterments shy of some bathrooms. Once you got checked in via the QR code on your phone, you headed up to the “pre-tasting” space. After walking through an archway made to mimic the macallan estate building, there was an open area with lighted glass floor that was translucent with a mapped layout of the District. Pretty schnazzy but I’m sure that floor came with the library. lol. Going around the room there was a copper still (full size? probably not), a date chart for recording important dates from Macallan or via your phone for personal dates, a photo booth with Macallan backdrop, a colored light display that included a case containing five bottles of Macallan, a nosing station, a bar, and a giant bottle (able to be customized) between two bragging display cases containing some very rare bottles.

[Scotch] at the nosing station
The tasting room was set up almost identically to the way Glenlivet had theirs done by Pernod Ricard, in layers of seats that accommodated small groups from 4 – 6 very easily. It had the Macallan logo on a well lit back wall flanked by two giant screens for short video displays and close-up camera views of two demonstrations.

So there are the parts of the tasting you could observe from pictures but let’s take a look at was good, bad, and ugly, shall we?

The good. The choice of bottles was great: 10 Fine Oak (meh), 12 Sherry (great daily), 15 Fine Oak (nice), Rare Cask (pretty tasty). Not great because they’re the greatest bottles but because they’re a great selection to someone who doesn’t want to spend a bit over $500 to try something they might not even like. The greatest bottle is always the one you love enough to make your daily dram, quote me on it! The pre-tasting area was a little crowded but most of the displays were interactive so that made it a lot of fun. The actual tasting area was well laid out and had a fun presentation by Mr. Craig Bridger, Macallan brand ambassador. Overall the night, like the bottles, flowed pretty smoothly.

The bad. The pre-tasting area was a bit cramped for the number of people they hosted. Maneuvering some of the displays was difficult with the number of people but that’s generally preferable to an empty room, isn’t it? There was some serious misdirection when someone announced that everyone needed to head to the hallway to finally move to the tasting room. I feel like myself and the photographer who immediately started moving that way, were the only one’s who heard the announcement. The presentation initially started with the sales=pitch feel that Glenlivet owned so heartily but quickly evolved into a good time.

The ugly. There was no ugly. This was a free tasting event held directly by the Macallan!

Overall it was fun and well worth the cost of free. If you’re not signed up to receive invitations to Macallan’s events, I must encourage you to do so at Macallan’s website.

Slainte!

-Sniff

Glenmorangie Milsean

Glenmorangie has done it again.

I’m not sure they set out to create a dessert scotch with the Nectar D’or but scotch lovers responded very well to the very sweet, finished-in-dessert-wine-casks offering. That was 2011.

Here we are five years later and Glenmorangie has just released its seventh annual private edition bottling, called the Milsean (pronounced “Meel-Shawn”, it’s Scot’s Gaelic for “sweet things”). This offering was “extra-finished” in re-toasted red wine casks and bottled to look like something out of a candy shop (or sweetshop as the bottle reads). The alternating red and white stripes of the box and bottle are reminiscent of peppermints and for good reason.

On to the tasting.

Color: Rich Honey.

Nose: Immediately your nose bombarded with a birthday-cake-icing level of sweetness with fruity overtones like those you’d take in smelling the syrup from a can of assorted fruit. (I’m quickly reminded of peach and plum sugar candies I ate as a kid in Korea.)  Re-toasting the former red wine casks to impart such a level of sweetness might have been genius on the part of Dr. Lumsden.

Palate: Immediately the spice of oak makes it’s way to the front of your tongue and you’re left with a barrage of mixed emotions. Like smelling simple syrup while popping a handful of cinnamon red hot candy into your mouth, so it’s quite a bit spicier than a typical red and white striped peppermint. With a bit of coaxing around the tongue, the spice subsides and gives way to very luscious fruits. These are absolutely decadent candied fruits. Or fruit candy like the kind you’d find in a grandmother’s candy dish that are just slightly stuck together and very obviously, pure sugar.

Finish: A handful of fruit flavors wash over the tongue with the texture of canned peach juice in this medium length finish.

After adding a spot of water…

Nose: The saccharine sweet intensifies and has become ridiculous. It smells like the overwhelming presence of sugar that one can smell when wafting the air over southern sweet tea. That dissolved-in-water sugar that you know is excellent for making rock candy. The natural fruit sugar smells are just a ghost behind this pure candy sugar.

Palate: The spice of cinnamon and oak have been tamed with just a small hint to remind you that  you’re not drinking candy. Just a touch of bitterness finds its way to your tongue like a ginger chew. Interesting.

Finish: The finish is just as tasty with delicate notes of tree fruits subtly making their way to your attention.

Wow. This expression, I have no doubt, will disappear from shelves as the Nectar D’Or does. People will fall in love with the sweetness and may forget their drinking scotch at all. It’s truly uncharacteristic of any typical highland scotches but that might not be a bad thing. Variety is indeed the spice of life. Or in this case, the sugar and spice of life.

Slainte.

-Sniff

Bourbon Review : Pappy Van Winkle 23

[Scotch] and myself aren’t much into buying bottles to sell them in the future. It’s not that we aren’t into the idea of collecting artifacts but life is too short not to enjoy some of the finest things you come across. With that said, we were fortunate enough to grab a bottle of the infamous Pappy Van Winkle 23 from a local store. So today, much to the chagrin of my wallet, we bring you a real review about a bottle that most of us have dreamed of but none of us have wanted to pay the market price for. I’ve placed our personal reviews back to back below and do hope you enjoy them 🙂

Oh, and if you learn ANYTHING from our reviews… do NOT add water or ice to PVW23. That seems to be the death knell for this tasty tipple.

 

***** [Sniff]’s review *****

The unicorn.

The nose does take a solid few moments (minutes more like it) to open up, even in a glencairn glass. Neat, the nose is like eggnog. Think baking spices over custard and cream. There’s a bit of charred oak under the sweat cream.

It’s soft it hits the tongue, like the velvet bag that is home to the bottle. It quickly ramps up to a layer of fiery oak. As soon as the oak makes its bow, caramel and cream venture their way to the front of the stage. There is just a hint of charred oak and light cinnamon lingering behind them giving it all that eggnog appeal.

The finish is light with the most faint trails of astringency in the mouth. It’s REALLY good.

Let’s add water to the unicorn even though it is easily managed neat even at 47.8% ABV.

The nose changes a bit and reverses the palate without water. It becomes more oaky and the cream gets buried. This is interesting.

The palate becomes an oak monster. Again, the cream still hangs around in the background but it really gives way to some over-oaked notes.

For all of the folks who claim that the PVW23 is past its prime, I wonder how many of them poured it over ice or prematurely added water. There’s a reason you don’t pour water on a unicorn.

For the suggested retail price of $250, I can say this is a pretty great value, doubly so considering the age. For $500, as a birthday bottle, I wouldn’t be let down at all. It would be a solid winner. For the amount I paid? It’s solid. For the $2500+ that it’s going for online? No way. I’d say it tops out at a grand as a value. Beyond that, it’s hype. Really, tasty, buffalo trace hype. 😛

Those are my two cents.

Slainte!

-Sniff

***** [Scotch]’s review *****
I wonder how many people who say that the Pappy 23yr is an oak monster have actually tried it. There are a lot of trolls out there and “Collectors” who gather up as many limited edition bottlings of something as they can, only to hoard it and never actually taste it. We here at scotchNsniff, think that is a travesty. To have whisky and not drink it is a crime and this crime shall not go unpunished. We shall CRACK open those bottles and CONSUME from the ELIXIR that has been hiding in those oak barrels and relay our reviews HERE!! On with the review =)

The color is a deep mahogany. It reminds me of making caramel but starting with brown sugar first and then going almost to being burnt but pulling it off the stove. Reddish hues dance in the glass. You can really see the red when it’s placed next to ordinary whisky.

On the nose, upon swirling the glass, that caramel that we were talking about, enrobes a red delicious apple. Vanilla whipped cream, piped on a custard pie. Brown sugar and a little oak resin mix with nutmeg and very very extremely light mint. There is oak, but it’s not the overwhelming oak monster that one would expect after 23 years of sitting in a barrel. The nose is so gentle, sweet and round. Shortbread cookies with a citrusy marmalade. As soon as the oak wafts in, the sweetness and spice and everything nice, pushes back and balances the bourbon.

My initial sip is slightly astringent, no alcohol bite even though its 47.8%, and then come the support team to bring happiness to the land. Creme brûlée all day baby. Buttered biscuits with citrus and vanilla double cream. If you haven’t had double cream in your life, it’s basically butter mixed with cream, creating an amazingly rich double cream that you spread on things like scones and biscuits. My second sip now starts off with the sweetness and vanilla that you nose in the glass. Swirling the mix in my mouth, that light mint comes forward with a rich spice on the front of the tongue. The oak shows it’s teeth along with some floral notes, like rose hips and creates a delicious sweet herbal mix. What a delicious bourbon.

After adding a scant capful of water to the bourbon the nose goes cold. The blast of flavors that I initially smelled neat, mellowed, as well as the palate. I completely agree with Sniff that this is when the Oak monster rises from the depths of the earth and unleashes his earthen roots on us all. The astringency turns me off and I regret ever adding water to this. The sweetness has died down as well as roundness and becomes a tad harsh and sharp.

If there is anything you learn from this review, drink Pappy 23 year neat. Any addition of water, either through ice melting or by way of dropper, buries the good stuff and brings out the nasty side of things. Sniff brought up the mention of cost and worth. I would agree with him that $1000 should be the upper limit of what this stuff should be able to fetch, but I’ve recently seen auctions sell bottles into the $2000 range. All I know is, I could buy a lot of great bottles of whisky with $2000 or even $1000.

Scotch, Out.