Revisiting the Hakushu 12

Hakushu 12 was the second Japanese whisky that I ,[Scotch], had purchased after the Hibiki 12 year. Without knowing anything about Hakushu, I jumped right in head first thinking that it was going to be the sweet floral symphony that the Hibiki was. Boy was I wrong, but boy were my eyes opened to the Japanese way of handling peat.

C: A golden pale honey, syrupy and coating as I swirl the glass.

N: Very soft lemony, piney peat. A pine sap being reduced down over a fire to create  a resinous pitch. The nose is like walking into a Japanese tea shop, amongst all the bamboo accessories, and lifting each of the tea jars to sample a smell. across the street someone is starting a fire using the wood that they chopped from a neighboring forest, covered in moss, still green. Pear skins, and a mixture of plums and raspberries that are very unripe, very green. It’s hard to explain but the peat, as subtle as it is, is powerful and similar to that of an older peated whisky. Very light vanilla sweetness in the background. Fresh, green and like stepping out of a spearmint gum commercial.
P: The peat is apparent but quickly takes a back seat to green pear and crisp green apple notes. Smoked barley and spices dance around the peat, weaving a delicate strand. Wood sour and vegetal notes. Malted barley similar to The Balvenie style of being very subtle, while still being very pronounced. A slight spice develops around the outer portions of my tongues. The smoke intensifies, not like a billowing flame though, more like a blown out candle.
F: The finish is mainly smoke and soft edged spices. This is a very mature whisky for the 12 years the label presents. Slightly tannic and mouth puckering near the back of my mouth, reminding me of dried lemon rind. The peat presents itself again but only as a remnant of what was initially present. Waving at you, as you leave, reminding you of the good time you just had.
Hakushu reminds me of the restraint and the perfect execution that the Japanese command over things. Just google Japanese Woodworking and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Like a perfectly carved puzzle box, form one piece of wood. Sometimes it’s not about blowing people away with the high PPM of peat you have in your whisky. Sometimes it’s about how it all comes together.
[Scotch]

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2015 vs 2016

Old Forester has an annual release called Birthday Bourbon which is a limited-edition expression created to pay homage to founder George Garvin Brown’s birthday. Up for our comparison today we have the 2015 versus the 2016. You’re often times met with a decision when you go to the liquor store to choose one bottle. Hopefully after this tasting review, you’ll be able to decide which one to grab if you’re ever presented with the option.

The 2015 expression is offered at 100 Proof, while the 2016 is bottled at 97 proof. So if you’re a proof chaser, go ahead and pick the 2015, but if you want to take into consideration Color, Nose, Palate and Finish, let’s continue!

C: They are nearly identical with a medium rich mahogany color, with the 2016 variety slightly more red toned. Tie!

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Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2015 vs 2016

 

N: The 2015 has a fair amount of heat on the nose, accidentally singeing my hairs as I take mini whiffs. Wood sour notes but round oak with whipped cream and toasted marshmallow sweetness. Green grapes, kiwi skins and unripe strawberries floating in a lake of golden corn syrup. The 2016 is more vanilla orange creamsicle, honeyed oak, similar to that of the Balvenie house style. The 2016 seems lighter, very light caramel draped over a tart pear. Werthers Original candies with leather and oak bits dotted throughout. Both are solid winners but the 2015 edges out the nose with more toasted oak, toasted marshmallow and breakfast pastries.

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Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2016

 

P: Both of these have the obvious bourbon flavors of oak, vanilla, sour toffee/caramel  flavors but these are the nuances that I can edge out in the tasting. The 2016 is a bright, fresh bourbon. Not too sweet on the palate with just enough caramel covered grape flavors, ending with a fresh cherry covered in dark cocoa powder, slightly mouth drying. The 2015 has a sweeter, hotter entry, hazelnuts and orange peel. There’s a grown up root beer flavor ending in a bitter but enjoyable sweet vermouth. Going back and forth a couple times with tasting them the 2016 just edges out the win.

F: The 2015 has a dusty nutmeg infused cocoa finish. Light rye spices linger midpalate, while a slightly drying oak, readies you for your next sip. The 2016 finishes with spice but with less of a pronounced Zip, Bang and Ptchanggg! The vanilla creeps back up near the end with the cocoa powder, but more flat than the 2015 finishes. 2015 wins, hands down for the finish.

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Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2015

 

Both of these bourbons are really nice, and we’re splitting hairs here. The fact that they’re relatively hard to get and that the secondary market lifts the price, really sucks. If it were up to us, we would make it available to everyone, but that’s just impossible. The quantities to appear to have increased from last year, so availability might not be that bad. I enjoy the 2015 more than the 2016, but that’s only by the slightest margin. Both are a solid buy for a very solid bourbon. Comment down below and let us know which one you grab or if you pick both up. 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

Happy New Year!!!

So you’ve resolved to educate yourself about scotch this year and you’re not sure where to start?

Welcome! You’re in the right place!

We are [Scotch] and [Sniff] and we are here to help with your scotch education. 🙂

(In case you don’t know what scotch whisky IS (or why it’s spelled without an ‘e’), check out this earlier blog post about just that.)

This post is here to give you an idea of which whiskys you need to try to begin finding your own flavor profile which in turn, will help you to buy more scotch that you’ll enjoy and less you’ll give away to your friends.

Almost any major-brand-label tasting even you attend will include a time when you’ll smell some objects that will help you to differentiate between the four major nosing smells of whisk(e)y: fruity, floral, smokey, peaty. Here at ScotchNSniff, we’ve decided to follow suit and use those four major areas of smell and taste to help you find your own flavor profile. To actually taste these flavors that you’re smelling, don’t forget to taste scotch the proper way!

Fruity: Glenfiddich 12. The Glenfiddich line REEKS of apples, pears, oranges and plenty of other fruits! Darned tasty examples of what the Speyside region of Scotland has to offer.
(other examples of fruity: The Dalmore, Glenmorangie, Speyburn)

 

Floral: Hibiki 12. Yes… I know. This is a whiskey from Japan, so what gives?? The Japanese have really cornered the market on the floral notes but don’t worry, we’ll get you back to Scotland!
(other examples of floral: Tullabardine, The Balvenie)

 

Smokey: Oban 14. The Oban line does a fantastic job of bringing smoke to your nose and tongue. Many times there will be some sweet or salty notes accompanying them but always with smoke.
(other examples of smokey: Bunnahabhain, Glenkinchie, Bruichladdich)

 

Peaty: Ardbeg 10. Personally, I can’t say I enjoy the peat of Ardbeg. I’m pretty sure [Scotch] would agree to a point. I do enjoy Laphroaig (strangely enough) but peat is a real divider of scotch drinkers. You either love it or you hate it.
(other examples of peaty: Caol Ila, Laphroig, Lagavulin)

 

Between those four samples, you should be able to get a great idea of which direction you need to head in your adventures for good scotch. That way, when your friends ask you, “What type of scotch do you enjoy the most?” or “What’s your flavor profile when it comes to whisky?” you can confidently answer with whatever you enjoy the most!

We try to keep most of what review around here under a hundred dollars. We understand that $100 is a lot of money for almost everyone so sticking to scotches that are easy to find on local shelves is always a plus. We do indulge from time to time 😉

 

 

Happy New Year and Slainte Mhath!!!

(Cheers! Kanpai! Salut! Prost!)

 

The Glenlivet 12 and 15 year

 

 

Which one is better?

The Glenlivet 12 year versus the Glenlivet 15 year, which one is better?…… Trick question, those who answered one or the other need to stick around to read why.

It’s commonly assumed that the older the whisky is, the more that it should cost and therefore means the better it is. This couldn’t be further from the truth. If there is anything that you should learn today, please let it be that, “Age ain’t nothin’ but a number”. Yes, the older a whisky is, the more expensive it should be, because after factoring in time and the angel’s share (evaporation of whisky from the barrel), less whisky is actually in the barrel, therefore the need to sell it at a higher price to make the same amount of profit from less liquid. But that doesn’t mean anything about it tasting better.

The Glenlivet 12 (G12) and 15 (G15) are completely different whisky’s with very different flavor profiles and aromas. Don’t think of them as competing against each other but rather, another flavor within the family of Glenlivet to try.

Color: The Glenlivet 12 is close to a lightly toasted wheat and pale yellow. The Glenlivet 15 is more of a medium Oak color and lightly orange in the glass.

Nose: The G12’s nose is full of fruit flavors! You’re immediately blasted with a rainbow of aromas, pineapple, white grape, kiwi and gobs of tropical white fruit smells. The juice, most certainly, is loose. Then a light amount of white pepper, the fresh smell of a new wallet and light oak. Going in for another nose, an under-ripe granny smith apple and floral qualities appear.

The G15 is a completely different beast, but just as alive and layered. Opening the bottle I immediately smell fresh oak, round vanilla and sweet Sherry. There is a artificial peach aroma, like that of gummy peach rings, followed by molasses rich brown sugar and buttery toffee. Rich.

Palate: The G12’s mouth feel is light and not oily, like a racy sauvignon blanc. A light spice fills the mouth with a cereal breadiness. Vanilla, floral like a chamomile tea with dried orange peel in the background.

The G15 features toasted pecans and lime on the palate with a light oak bringing roundness. A honeyed licorice candy lengthens into a drying cocoa. Blonde coffee with vanilla and toffee flavor without the sweetness keeps me curious for another sip.

Finish: The G12 finishes a little sour and a tad tart, with a trailing light spice. The G15 finishes with spiced vanilla and toasted nuts and a hint of mint or menthol.

After reading this review you can see that these two scotches are completely different and can’t really be compared. If you’re looking for a tropical fruit sensation with a clean citrus nose and light spice and freshness, go for the Glenlivet 12. If you want more fall type spices, with rich vanilla and toasted nut flavors, then you would definitely go for the Glenlivet 15. Remember that a brand’s lineup isn’t always about getting better with age, but rather changing with age.

Scotch, Out.

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’s 2014 Christmas Scotch Gift idea list Extravaganza Part II !!

Scotch’s 2014 Christmas Scotch Gift idea list Extravaganza!!Hello all and Happy Holidays!!!!!

Even though I have a huge new love for lightly peated and smokey scotches, I think I’m sticking to my “Always delicious, Every time is right” type scotches for this list. As Sniff was saying, saving a couple dollars a month quickly equates to a lot of money down the road. So if you’re trying to spring for that dream bottle, cut back on the starbucks or dunkin donuts and save for the green for something nice.

…Okay, I will throw a peated smoke bomb in there for the ridiculous few who have throats of steel and cast iron stomachs! On with the list!!

$50:

Dalwhinnie 15 ($57)

I have to echo what Sniff said, as this is an awesome go to and a definite winner. The flavors of banana and bright green apple supplemented with notes of caramel and vanilla ending in light smoke is everything you can dream of in a scotch. Also, the mouth feel of this scotch is wonderful. Syrupy and coating. Very inviting.

Hibiki 12 ($59)

Japan has been all the rage this year when it comes to whisky and this bottle is a perfect example of the Japanese style, and a blend at that. The floral nose, filled with plums and rose hips match perfectly with the light spice of the Mizunara (Japanese oak). A medium long finish leaves you with melon fruit, light spice and mouth coating honey.

Tomatin 12 ($25)

This single malt seemed too good to be true and I held off for quite a while before I took the leap to purchase it. Don’t wait. For $25 you get a deliciously complex dram full of spicier nutty notes, juicy pear and granny smith apple tartness. With the addition of water you get an explosion of caramel and vanilla toffee and baking spices. The finish is quite long and drying. For $25 you get a crazy amount of twists and turns in this scotch. And even though it’s the cheapest in our list, it’s definitely a contender in the sub $50 range.

HUNDOOOOOOOOO ($100):

Glenlivet 18 ($95)

This is and has been my favorite single malt scotch since I first took a sip. This is the first one I go to when I feel like drinking a scotch. The nose is full of brown sugar, baking spices, nutmeg and sweet sherry. This has a great bready toasted nose. The palate is full of vanilla rum soaked raisins, a mix of apple skins and more baking spice. A great daily sipper, special occasion drinker, anytime bottle.

BenRiach 16 Sauternes ($110)

Let this one sit out for about 30min to an hour and you will be greatly rewarded with apricots soaked in cognac, drizzled with cinnamon icing sugar. And just when you think you’ve had too much sweetness, nutty baking spies and a firm handshake from oak come through and say hello. How are you? Such a gentleman.

Ardbeg Uigeadail ($83)

I told you I’d throw in a peaty smoke bomb. This one is not for the faint of heart…let alone faint of stomach. Brace yourself for a sweet, salty, bbq, smoked and peat filled journey. Try and escape the smokey grips of this dram and you will FAIL. The sea salty, green apple taffy is just bait for the barbecued meats that you will endure along your way. Fight past the tobacco drag~…..If you like how this is going, disregard all other bottles and pick this one up. Enjoy.

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Dream Bottle (what’s money, my accountant handles that?)

Unlike Sniff, I will choose one.

Glenlivet 21 ($159)

This is a spicey, sherried and oaky scotch smoothed out by the viscosity, caramel and vanilla flavors. A scotch where the depth and complexity are felt by the weight of it on the tongue and the essence carried by the nose. Around $60 more expensive than the 18 but around $500 less than the 40 bottled by Kirkland, I wish this could be my daily sipper. Delicious and a perfect example of a Scottish Whisky.
Scotch, Out.