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!)

 

Balvenie Warehouse 24 @ Landmark Theater DC

What a ton of fun!!

[Scotch] and I received our invites from Balvenie (for Warehouse 24 members) to join David Laird and the hosting crew from Momentum (lead by the lovely Jennifer Holm) for a night of tasting at the Landmark Theater in DC and we obliged!

Having never been to a Landmark Cinema, I had no idea there would be a full bar just inside the doors. They had a really great selection for a small bar attached to a movie theater and it’s probably part of the reason this venue was chosen to host the tasting. (or perhaps it was the leather seats and stadium seating? 🙂  )

The tickets for the event were actually hand made on a letter press by a boutique called Salt and Cedar (link: saltandcedar.com/). Everyone who made the RSVP for the tasting received one when their name was taken at the movie theater box office.

After checking-in and receiving your ticket, you walked down a hallway barely illuminated by Edison bulbs to a table where you were greeted with a hot cider mix. If we heard the ladies correctly, the glass you were handed came from a warmer full of apple cider and two and a half bottles of monkey shoulder. It was tasty but you had to close your nostrils to drink it. The steam from the drink would drive the alcohol into your nose to singe your nose hairs! 🙂

Right next to the hot-scotch-cider table was a table full of tasty appetizers… YUM!

50 people were essentially smooshed into a hallway outside of the theater while our hosts prepared the theater for the killer tasting.

I’m going to let a few pictures do the talking here…

Each seat in the theater had the classic Balvenie tasting tray with a bag of popcorn on it. The cup holders each held a Balvenie branded water dropper.

Candy was passed around to be paired with the samples:

And of course the samples:

David gave a great presentation hitting on a few familiar points from other Balvenie events but of course bringing up quite a number of new stories that we hadn’t heard before.

It was great to have such a small group for the tasting event. At other events, groups are typically herded from location to location so people can taste, listen, and get out. In a theater, it was much more intimate. There were a few questions asked by other guests and very awesome answers were given. I think the level of detail was much better at such a small event. We watched a few (3) of the rare craft videos with Anthony Bourdain but in between David spoke about the five rare crafts that Balvenie holds true to (Barley, floor maltings, coppersmiths, coopers, and the Malt master).

We got to hear about the trick-of-the-trade that Balvenie uses to maintain consistency in bottles like the Rum cask expressions. We learned why the 17 DoubleWood has a purple label instead of the classic white label. We even got to hear about the history of cask finishing. At one point, I raised my camera and David even posed for a picture lol:

After all of the videos, speaking, tasting, learning, and fun, I think the best part of the entire event was being able to talk to David one on one and ask him questions related to other parts of the scotch world and his job like how he got his job and what his favorite scotch is outside of the Balvenie. It’s this level of personal attention at Balvenie events that keep us coming back. It’s what Macallan and Glenlivet have both missed the mark on. I’ve got theories as to why the tastings are so different (different brand goals, distillery sizes, etc) but it’s interesting to see the difference so obviously.

 Balvenie, David Laird, Jennifer Holm, thank you again for a wonderful night of stories and scotch.

Slainte mhath!
Go here to sign up for Balvenie’s Warehouse24!!

The Balvenie 17 year DoubleWood

17yr DoubleWood

A great thing to remember when diving into your whisky journey is that everyone’s palate is different and unique. I might like something and give it magnificent praise, while you might think that it’s the worst whisky you’ve ever had in a cup. We here at scotchNsniff give you notes and reviews in hopes of shedding light about the whisky you buy, rather than the marketing campaigns built to sell the stuff to you. With that having been said, this next bottle for review is brilliant!!

A lot of people assume that the older a whisky is, the better it is and of course that means that it can and must command a higher price tag. [Sniff] and I definitely don’t mind paying for the good stuff but we love finding a deal even more. I [Scotch] have found that I really enjoy the 17 year mark. Hibiki 17 year, delicious. The Macallan 17 year fine oak, superb. And now this, the Balvenie 17 yr DoubleWood.

Color: Having spent the majority of the time maturing in traditional oak casks then the last couple months to a year in European Sherry casks, the color is A golden matte bronze with just the edge showing copper.

Nose: I’m initially greeted with the classic Balvenie oak, soft vanilla and honeyed richness. That leads into bing cherries macerated in a liquer, almost like a kirschwasser. There are layers of green apple and turbinado sugar (less molasses-ey). A slight waft of toasted cereal and malted barley are in there after swirling. The nose is inviting and all of the aromas are well married and yet still distinct but showing no edges.

Palate: The first sip of the whisky swirling around my mouth reveals a mexican cinnamon spice, not as harsh as McCormicks cassia cinnamon, along with green almond. Dried apple skins, red and green, coated in rich vanilla toffee. Throughout the entire taste, a very mellow but very pronounced Sherry surfboard carries all of these flavors down a great wave of fruit and spices. Awesome.

Finish: The finish, although awfully short, just keeps you wanting more. There is a light spice and vanilla sherry sweetness that remains but it is short.

This is a fantastic whisky that really shows how deliciously, both the Sherry and the Oak casks, can work together to form a great whisky. The price range seems to fluctuate between $99 to around $130, and for any price within that range, would be a great deal. For a price comparison to an equally great whisky, the Macallan 17 year Fine Oak is $190, but definitely not $70 better.

Scotch, Out.

Scotch ‘n’ Sniff at the The Balvenie Rare Craft Collection

Greetings and Salutations!!!

Sniff, here. Totally been slacking in reviews due to a myriad of factors but I’ll be writing today’s recap of the Balvenie Rare Craft Collection (RCC).

First thing’s first. A lot of people really get caught up in things like how to dress at events like this. Scotch went dressed in a button up with nice jeans and shoes. I went dressed in a zippered hooded sweat shirt, jeans, and slip on Vans shoes. Like this blog, we’re doing all of this for the common man, not the guy who shows up in a three piece suit. Alright, pretensions out of the way…

The DC event took place at the Carnegie Institution of Science in DC at 1530 P Street NW. When you arrived downstairs, you were greeted by a few ladies to verify your tickets (free to folks to RSVP to Balvenie’s “loyalty program” dubbed Warehouse 24). Once your tickets were verified, this smiling lady gave you a booklet explaining the Rare Craft event, three sample drink tokens, and a custom RCC Glencairn glass.

 

BalvenieRCC entrance
Smile for Scotch!

 

Upon walking up the steps, the first thing you notice is this door… which will look familiar if you’re a member of the Warehouse 24 program.

Warehouse 24 door
Warehouse 24 door

 

Balvenie’s goal for the night was to draw awareness to craftsmen who still practiced traditional methods of work be it to build guitars, saddles, engines, and even ping pong tables and associate that with their own method of crafting single malt scotch.

A hand crafted guitar
A hand crafted guitar

 

A handcrafted ping pong table.
A handcrafted ping pong table.

 

A hand crafted Morgan :)
A hand crafted Morgan 🙂

 

So that’s all good and well. Let’s get onto the SCOTCH. In the main area, there were two tables providing samples. The Doublewood 12 was being served at one and on the other end of the room, the Caribbean Cask 14 on the other.

Ah, the caribbean. Didn't we already do a review on you?
Ah, the caribbean. Didn’t we already do a review on you?

 

Neither of these is what I was personally looking for (since we have both and have done reviews on both). I was looking for the Portwood 21. After asking a rep, I was informed that one had to sign up for the “Master class” to get access to it. The rep then pointed me in the direction of a young lady with an iPad who could sign both Scotch and Sniff up for the class. BINGO!

Let's take the Master Class!
Let’s take the Master Class!

 

Have a seat!
Have a seat!

 

What have we here!?
What have we here!?

 

Slainte Mhath!
Slainte Mhath!

 

David Laird, brand ambassador for Balvenie US
David Laird, brand ambassador for Balvenie US

 

The class was taught by David Laird, a Balvenie US brand ambassador. Nice guy and very knowledgeable about scotch in general and the process used at the Balvenie distillery. From “Whiskey Dogs” to coopers to wood choice, he left no part of the process unturned. 95% of what we taught, we have available in blog posts here so it’s nice to know we weren’t far off of the general knowledge in the scotch world. 🙂

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Overall the event was fun and educational. Scotchucational. 🙂

Thanks to Balvenie for hosting this good time! It looks like William Grant and Sons will be hosting another via Glenlivet in November, also in DC… will we see you there??

 

-Sniff

 

 

#BalvenieRCC

The Balvenie Triple Cask

The Balvenie Triple CaskThe Balvenie Triple Cask 16

This bottle is a little… lacking? Disappointing? Awkward?

COLOR: medium brown gold
NOSE: Granny Smith apples up front, sweet vanilla
PALATE: lacking and too smooth, more like scotch flavored water than a 16 year old three cask specimen 😦
FINISH: delicious and amazingly fruity, buttery on the tongue

ADD WATER

NOSE: a little less sweet, a little more spice
PALATE: almost like a scotch that forgot to be a scotch, the spice and flavor is almost invisible
FINISH: is full of spice this time and still buttery

It’s kind of a strange dram. Doubly so when compared to the Caribbean Cask and the Doublewood we’ll be reviewing soon.
The palate wasn’t smooth like the blended Hibiki which is smooth but full of subtle flavors worth deciphering.
And it’s certainly not as friendly as the Balvenie Caribbean Cask and it’s brown sugar bubble gum handshake with your tongue.
This Balvenie is just an oddball.

The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 year

photo 1

The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 year

COLOR: Orange, rust and toasted wheat

NOSE: A lot of sherry on the nose, followed by cherry/fruit capri-sun. It’s a very light nose and still a distinct fig spirit comes through, maybe to the detriment of the spirit. So far, an okay start.

PALATE: Woodsy sherry with a very light balanced smoke. A sourness comes through after some light spice, like chewing on a toothpick and not knowing when enough is enough. Water opens up vanilla extract, round bosc pear, mint/spearmint and oddly enough, cabbage.
FINISH: It’s a medium to short finish, laden with spice, smoke and sherry.

This is a perfect example of a scotch that really showcases that not everyone loves a highly rated scotch. I will never buy another bottle of this 12 year old DoubleWood ever again. I don’t enjoy it and I feel like, especially for the price, it doesn’t bring anything to the table. The Balvenie is a great distillery and this might just be a poor showing or an unfortunate bottling.

Don’t be discouraged!! Where there is a bad scotch, there is a great bottle right behind it…look…There it is! Don’t see it? Just come back for another review by scotch N sniff!

Slainte Mhath!