Elijah Craig Single Barrel 18 year Barrel no 4219 Barreled on 11-18-97

This single barrel bourbon isn’t like the normal blends from multiple barrels that other bourbons are usually created from. Tagged as “Super Premium”, this whisky is aged in a single barrel for the full 18 years and then bottled when deemed ready by Master Distillers Parker and Craig Beam. First introduced in 1994, they discontinued the 18 year in 2012 after the demand for whiskey grew too great and there weren’t enough 18 year old barrels to meet it. They did however bring it back in 2015. Back for good? Not too sure, but we snagged a couple bottles to taste and see what all the hubbub is about.

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Elijah Craig Single Barrel 18 year

C: Sunset orange with glints of reddish orange around the rim.

N: The smell you get from peeling an orange is the first thing that I get on the nose. That spritz of orange essential oils spraying into the air and perfuming everything, even your fingers and everything you touch afterwards. That is immediately followed by old oak, a little stale and musty saturated oak. Like under-ripe plum skins and over ripe apples sitting on your kitchen countertop that should have been eaten last week. It definitely smells rich and powerful, just not too sure yet if that’s a good thing or not. Oh, and a very faint ripe banana smell.

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Elijah Craig 18 year ScotcNSniff Glencairn

P: It is rich. And I’m immediately slapped in the face with oak, followed by that random banana. 90 proof plays the slow roll and gently singes the outer ends of your tongue. It’s spicy though, not to be mistaken with alcohol burn. The oak is extremely present but dark cocoa and stale cinnamon spice are layering up a defense to add something to the playing field. Smyrna Figs come through in a layer followed with raisins and black strap molasses. This is far better than the 23 year, you can actually taste things. Yeah, the figs are strong in this one.

F: The finish is full flavored. Full of spice, dry cocoa, nutmeg, dusty old cinnamon that you should have used 5 years ago, white pepper, a toothpick you should have stopped chewing on 10 minutes ago and vanilla extract. The oak is ever present in this expression, slightly dominating every aspect of the tasting, but somehow it does work. This bottle is a niche type of bourbon that a certain super premium bourbon buyer will want to have in there collection. There are definitely better values out there and I truly believe you’re not missing out on anything not buying this. But it is unique and always fun to explore.

[Scotch]

Dewar’s 30 Year review

A buddy of mine from work went on a weekend trip and ended up going through a London Duty Free Store. Before leaving on the trip, he did what any awesome guy would do for a friend and asked me if I wanted anything in particular from the DFS. I said, “As a matter of fact I do!” and then proceeded to ask him for a Ballantine’s 30 year blend. The next time I see him, I’m anxious for the bottle to taste and review it. He says, “[Scotch] I had to pull an audible..” Okay okay, he didn’t call me [Scotch], but that’d be awesome! Anyhow, He continued and said, “The duty free guy said that this would be better, cost a little more, but you’d like it more.” I could see the worry in his face and being the awesome guy that he is, he’d already figured out a plan to split the bottle with me to cover the extra cost. I said, “Naw man, anything for our readers!!” Without any further ado, and anymore lengthening of this post, let’s see how it goes!

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C: Our regular readers will know how we feel about color, but this is a Cherry Wood with darker edges.

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N: The nose is incredible. I poured a glass and was occupied doing other things before I could try it, so it sat around for 5-10 minutes opening up. The air around the glass is filled with the scent of raw walnuts and thick toffee pudding. The Pedro Ximenez influence is easily recognizable in just the nose alone. It’s dusty, like an attic, and fairly smoky in the nose for a non-Islay variety. There’s dark chocolate candy bar as well as cocoa powder, dried figs and it’s like sticking your face into a bag of dried prunes, just sticky all over. A kola smell comes forward and near the end of my nosing a faint lemon smell, as if someone spritzed a lemon over a cocktail. This nose is layered and rich. My mouth is water because the nose is giving every indication that it’s going to be delicious. Cinnamon raisin bread covered in a smoked prune jam. I don’t even think smoked prune jam is a thing but this is it. Bitter orange marmalade. Okay I think I’m done. Quince paste. Done.

P: First sip is creamy, mouth coating and very savory. Almost a bready savory. Immediately I wish that the ABV would have been pumped up from the very basic 40%. But saying that, it does carry a lot of flavor. Second sip, everything continues to remain enjoyable. There’s a wonderful savory spice that undulates with spicy, then savory, then dried sweet flavors. Again and again layers of bran muffin, including the raisins, hearty grains covered in a sweetener that isn’t too sweet. You know how some people say that scallops can be sweet or milk added to your coffee can be sweet. Sweet like that. A very savory sweet. Rich malt, black strap molasses. Going in for another sip maple syrup covered French toast, with too much cinnamon (still good though). The dustiness from the nose carries over to the palate a little, you can definitely taste the age, not a bad thing, just apparent.

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F: The finish is mouth watering, no dryness whatsoever. The bready, wheat filled flavor lingers, like you just bit into a piece of wholegrain bread. A very faint soft smoke lingers in the background. The spices are subdued in the finish but very rich and not watered down. This whisky just drinks so easily.

With single malts, you sometimes have specific characteristics that you particularly enjoy. Tamdhu has an amazing sherry flavor, Laphroaig will smoke you out with peat and Glenfarclas will spice you up like Christmas morning. The thing with these older blends is that there are no peaks or specific characteristics, that’s the essence of blending. Like the Hibiki 30 year, this Dewars 30 year is an exceptional blend, and drinks like water. The nose is rich with individual layers. The palate is round, well blended and just plain delicious.

[Scotch]

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!!

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

World’s Best Whisky!!

I stayed up last night thinking a lot about this topic and how we’re kind of fooling ourselves. If you’re trying to find the worlds best whisky, sorry for the deceiving title, but you won’t find it here. What you will find, is the truth behind what will guide you, to find
the best whiskies of the world.

 

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Sniff’s Birthday Extravaganza!!!!

The three topics that kept me up last night were; Rating systems, Personal preference and Hype. I’ll soap box on each one of these separately.

Rating Systems: Rating systems are great aids for those who don’t know what they want and to potentially find the best versions of a certain whisky in a certain category. For example, using the 100 point scale that many reviews use, you could safely assume that a 95 point Islay whisky, like an Ardbeg Uigeadail, would be an exceptional example of a peated northern Islay whisky. What some may call a “Classic”. Without having tasted it, you can trust that the reviewers have or should have determined that the flavors present in the whisky should showcase that of an Islay whisky, to be at least 95% of the best of that style.

This may take into account the many factors of being a classic Islay whisky, BUT, what if you don’t like Islay whiskies?? What if peat makes you cringe? And even though this is one of the best peated Islay whiskies, you hate it. Then that 95 points means nothing to you.

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Ardbeg Dark Cove Committee Release

One way to get a better idea of if your taste buds are on par with a reviewers, is to drink a lot of the same whisky that they have reviewed, to see if you agree with them. But the thing about drinking a lot of whisky is; 1. You could develop a serious drinking problem, 2. A serious loss of money problem or even more seriously, 3. Be able to determine your own personal preference. The industry would like it if they could continue to think for you, aka “Influence” you.

The best thing I’ve learned about tasting and reviewing a lot of whisky, is that you become better at tasting and reviewing whisky. Just like anything else, practice makes perfect. Or a better saying in this situation would be, practice makes you more educated. But it doesn’t roll of the tongue as easily. The more whisky you taste, the better ability you have to determine what you like and dislike. After gaining the knowledge of knowing what you like and dislike, e.g. Personal Preference, then you can determine for yourself what is the best, for you!

Many people have this idea that they know what’s best for you. Not just random people, but companies. “Our soap is the best for your shower”, “these crackers will cure indigestion” and “our toilet paper will wipe better for you than any other”. When companies do this, it’s called marketing. When randos do this, it’s called hype.

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Glenfiddich 21 The Balvenie 21 The Glenlivet 21

Both marketing and hype are used to increase the perception of the value for things, often to ridiculous heights. Case in point, the 2013 Yamazaki Sherry cask which was named Best Whiskey in the World by Jim Murray (a whisky reviewer). This rocketed the Japanese whiskey scene, calling for thousands of dollars for the 2013 Yamazaki Sherry Cask and even raising the rest of the Yamazaki expressions to crazy inflated prices. The 12 year expression used to cost $65, now if you can find it, will run you $125. The 18 year expression used to cost around $200 and is now hovering between $399 – $450. Is the whisky good? Sure! But is it $400 good for the 18 year or $125 good for the 12 year? Maybe. It really depends upon how much you’re willing to spend for something that is hard to get and if you enjoy it. I love the Hibiki 21 year. I started purchasing bottles at $199 when I first saw it and I continue to purchase bottles when I find it for $350. When is my stopping point? My wife says, now.

Bottom line, use resources like this blog, other blogs and other reviewers to form a general idea of what it is you want to try. We try to use very easy to understand descriptions in order to appeal to the vast majority. Then, use online sites that sell samples of various bottles of whisky, or go to different bars to try different pours without committing to a full bottle. Determine whether you like sweet, peat, salty, medicinal or any other types of whisky and then continue down those lanes until you find your grail. That is the only way to determine what the best whisky in the world is, for you. And that’s why we love this whisky journey that we’re on.

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ScotchNSniff glass

So, what’s YOUR world’s best whisky??
[Scotch]