Scotch VS Scotch : Glenfiddich 26 Excellence vs Glenfarclas 25

Hello there fellow scotch addict!

One of our primary goals here at ScotchNSniff is to bring you suggestions that are focused on value. We like the idea of bringing a suggestion to you that we can stand behind (and almost more importantly, one we can enjoy ourselves!).

Most people try to place scotch into two piles; one, for the rich and one for the rest of us… but in reality, value exists across the spectrum of scotches in spite of price and regardless of your budget. It’s the biggest reason we do a Christmas suggestion list each year, knowing that not everyone can afford to spend a grand on a bottle but almost anyone can come up with fifty bucks for a special occasion.

Today though, we’re going to pit a $500 bottle of Glenfiddich Excellence 26 year against the 25 year offering from Glenfarclas that carries a price tag of $225. At literally less than half of the price of the Glenfiddich, this might seem like a strange comparison but considering the whisky in the barrels took almost the same amount of time to age, it may be difficult to justify the difference in price.

Glenfiddich 26 Excellence VS Glenfarclas 25

 

In typical SnS fashion, it’s time to get on with the CNPF reviews!

COLOR: The Glenfarclas has a gorgeous wheat color where the Glenfiddich is a surprisingly light color, resembling white grape juice.

NOSE: The Glenfarclas smells strongly of spices commonly found in Sherry. Do yourself a favor, if you’ve never smelled Sherry and want to recognize it every time you smell it, grab a bottle of Pedro Ximenez (PX) Sherry and enjoy! It pours like motor oil, looks like used motor oil, and tastes like heaven! (I’m a big port fan, so fortified wines are some of my closest friends!). Nosing the Glenfiddich, after the Glenfarclas sherry monster, you’ll notice a bit of smoke that ties the fruity and floral notes together. It’s definitely a sweeter nose versus the spicy Glenfarclas.

PALATE: Imagine a candy cane that’s had almost all of its mint removed but still retains that sugary candy cane sweet flavor. Now melt that flavor into a velvety butter and place it on your tongue. Now roll it around finding some smoke and some vanilla mixed into softly charred oak along the way. Now breathe in deep the spices and oak. If you read that with your imagination, you just tasted the Glenfiddich 26.

Now imagine a tannic sherry (really) with its slew of spices setting up base camp on your tongue. Christmas spices have found a place near the middle of your tongue. Pepper parked itself near the back of your tongue. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and Christmas have found their way to the tip of your tongue. Now imagine all of these camps suffered from a massive landslide into your gullet as you sip them down. I hope you love sherry because it’s your new best friend!

FINISH: The Glenfarclas 25 finishes with hints of fresh chocolate, like you’d smell at the Hershey factory… and that chocolate just melted into a bowl of sherry. This is wonderful. The Glenfiddich 26 has a wonderful finish that starts with spice and oak, but slowly and linearly gives way to fruit sugar. Quite tasty.

So who wins out? Who wins this installment of SvsS? As I’ve said with other SvsSs, you can’t actually go wrong with either of these bottles. It’s a matter of personal choice when you’re looking for a specific flavor to enjoy when you sit down with a dram. If you’re looking for value though, it’s difficult to say the extra year in oak bourbon barrels is worth the $275 price difference. If you love sherry and Christmas spices, you can pick up two bottles of the Glenfarclas AND a bottle of Glenfiddich’s fruit-bomb-that-is-its 12 year for the same price as the 26 excellence. Again though, we’re talking a very different set of flavors. The Glenfiddich 12 isn’t in the same league when it comes to complexity of flavors though it is very good. It’s just different and in a different world of value.

So which would you choose? What do you think about this comparison?

-[Sniff]

One Eight Distillery: Untitled Whiskey No. 1 review

One Eight Distillery

One Eight Distillery: Untitled Whiskey No. 1

A little bit of history about the distillery, One Eight Distillery is a newcomer to the beverage scene in DC located in the rough parts of Ivy City. A mostly industrial and very poor part of the city, has seen some resurgence through gentrification and some brave new businesses. One Eight’s first foray into aged whiskey is called “Untitled Whiskey No. 1” and it comes from 9 year old rye distilled by the MGPI distillery in Indiana, which has been around since 1847 by way of various owners. There are many companies that have used the hooch created by MGPI, High West, Willett and Templeton Rye to name a few tasty ones. One Eight Distillery then takes that 9-year rye and ages it for another 3 months in 30-year-old Oloroso Sherry casks. Then they bottle it up and slap a label on it. How is it, you ask?

Color:

A reddish tint to a very medium grade honey. You could very easily pick up the bottle and think it was a very thin maple syrup

Nose:

It has a prominent blast of rye spice right up front. Vanilla and caramel creep up lightly behind the spice, along with sweet tobacco. The addition of water brought out a beautiful caramel and vanilla flower perfume and reduced the spice notes.

Palate:

The rye spice fills the mouth and is then met with dried orange peel, slightly peppery and cooling menthol tobacco. A very hearty whiskey at a very well controlled 52.5%. The sweetness no doubt brought into play by the Sherry cask finishing. The addition of water didn’t really make a positive difference to the whiskey. It seemed to water it down and thin its flavor.

Finish:

After tasting while nosing, I can feel that my lips are sticky and noticeably sweet. It doesn’t have a sweet finish but rather a sustained mellow sweetness. The rye spice continues for a good while. The combination of the sweetness, spice and heat make a pretty darn good whiskey. I’ve tried a lot of the beers, breads, and booze that have come out of DC and claimed the district as their home but this has to be the best representative I’ve had. The interesting rye spice and Sherry finish make this a bottle to look out for if you ever see it at your local stores.

Scotch Out.

Slainte Mhath!

GlenDronach 21 Parliament

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GlenDronach 21 Parliament

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COLOR: The color is a dark amber or medium grade B maple syrup

NOSE: 21 years of sitting in Oloroso and PX casks have done wonders for this single malt. Who knew something so dark could smell and taste so fruity, rich and spicy. Brown sugar blasts through, dragging sugar in the raw with it, caramelizing on your tongue to a rich and crunchy English toffee. The brightness of Pink lady apples and tart dark cherries snaps like a SlimJim in your nose. And this is all before you even take a sip. Take a moment to let the spirit breathe and fill the room and no doubt you’ll nose the heather off in the distance and the whiffs of tobacco leaves being dried, not smoked. Add a few drops of water and the red fruits get accentuated and then coated with sticky caramel and toffee pudding. If you don’t understand what I mean, It’s rich, rich, rich in the nose.

PALATE: The first thing I taste is the delicious fruitiness and the roundness of the two sherries. A slight smokiness or old wood flavor pushes its way through, possibly from the Pedro Ximenez influence. Even at 48% abv, I could drink this neat all day…I would be passed out with possibly less clothes on, but it’s definitely a slow easy drinker. There’s a lot of nuttiness and baking spices, like someone just baked a “fresh out of the oven” minced meat pie but added toasted hazelnuts, just because. The addition of a few drops of water increases the sweetness on the tongue and boosts the nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom spices deliciously.

FINISH: The finish is long and lasting and utterly balanced. I did experience some mid-palate astringency, but that was easily forgotten with another delicious sip.

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Many of the 21 year old single malts that I’ve tasted felt light on the tongue and aren’t as rich as I’d like them to be. Enter GlenDronach 21. This single malt maintains the heavyweight feel and richness that I have looked for, all while balancing toasty oak, baking spices and sweetness. Definitely one to look out for or order, if you can find it for less than $150.

Scotch Out.
Slainte Mhath!

Glenfiddich 21

Glenfiddich 21

Glenfiddich 21

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It’s October! Do you know where your kids are?? Anyways, the weather is changing away from the shorts and surf boards and going towards the cardigans and fireplaces. It’s always a good time of year to partake in a delicious dram, but now more than ever. Bundle up, light the fire (or flashlight) and let’s get to tasting!

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COLOR: Dark caramel, mahogany with edges of fired wood
NOSE: The nose is extremely full of ripe stewed fruit with bright fresh red berries. I say again very sweet on the nose. For its age it has a lot of bright aroma characteristics such as Florida orange, light floral honey and red delicious apples. Water accentuates the vanilla, toffee and caramel notes. There’s also a really unique and delicious smelling Vanilla cream caramel.
PALATE: It always surprises me how soft and light older single malts can be. The process of aging has such wild effects. The nose was so bright and fruit forward while the palate is light, subtle and easy going. The wood is present but not overwhelming. A light rubbed leather and soft spice with cigar box notes warm the perimeter of my tongue.
FINISH: The finish is definitely woody and full of aged rum flavor, with a slight menthol end.
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This was definitely a delicious tipple and I’m not just saying that because I wrote it in my scotch journal. This is definitely one of the times that I would ask for a higher alcohol by volume because it lacks mouth feel and weight. Although this is a great scotch I would rather go for the competing brand of Glenlivet 21 archive, which you can read the review. The syrupy mouth-feel and the increased spice and toffee flavor knock me off my feet.
Scotch Out.
Slainte Mhath!

Ardbeg Ten

Ardbeg 10

Ardbeg Ten

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COLOR: Don’t let the dark bottle fool you! The inner liquid is bright watered down yellow. A well hydrated person, you could say.
NOSE: The nose, oh the nose. The first written notes in my journal are, “This is aweful”. Immediately smoked peat, meat, briney and you can smell the alcohol(like vodka) in this. Slowly continuing to fight my urge to purge, I find lemon concentrate(like from the dish washing liquid), Rubber ball(like from the dodgeball that smashes into your face and you just get a taste because your tongue was out) and also new leather. Easing into it again I smell beach house, a mix of salty brine-filled BBQ on the weekend. I’m finding that this is similar to the other Ardbegs I’ve tried but not as good, less refined and larger. Like an uncut diamond, or chewed food starting the journey leading to the porcelain end. (double entendre for all you word nerds)
PALATE: The taste is sweet, and definitely sweeter than I had imagined. The smoke creeps in like a low fog over a dew covered golf course while peat bogs are being farmed for more Ardbeg. The peat is light though which is nice. No intense meatiness here. The alcohol is a little hot on the tongue, add water.
Water opens up an amazing smell of creamy vanilla, and sweet nougat. The peat and smoke almost disappear and it’s mostly heavy vanilla. (My nose could be shot from smelling this all night as well)
The palate changes to a more sweet light cream taste with a nice spice and wood coming through. (I think my taste buds have given in)
FINISH: The finish, the finish is….long. The smoke and peat linger until I wake up in the morning and find that the toothpaste isn’t what tastes of smoke, it’s my scotch covered tongue. My cat wouldn’t come near me for fear I was carrying an open flame and was trying to burn her. Oh Ardbeg and Ardbeg, how we try to enjoy thee.
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This is why I love tasting scotch and reviewing all different kinds. I know I don’t like Ardbeg, but I never know when I might find one that I do like. Through this smokey, meaty and peaty journey, not only do I expand my palate, but I have a chance to let everyone else who reads this blog either heed my warning or welcome the demise. I recently tried another smoke bomb and actually enjoyed it, Laphroaig Quarter Cask, a review to come soon.
Scotch Out.
Slainte Mhath!

Tomatin 15

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Tomatin 15

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COLOR: Pale straw yellow
NOSE: The nose is much sweeter than the 12 year old Tomatin that we’d reviewed. Gobs of sweet vanilla caramel, brown sugar, candied red apple and sour apple. I’d written the word “lace” in my review…to be honest I’m not sure how to describe it, but it’s lacy in the nose =)
PALATE: This flavor is completely different than the 12 year old and full of tropical fruit like pineapple, papaya and tangerine. Light lemon oil comes out with bright citrus notes.
FINISH: The finish ends with a woodsy core of pineapple, dry and quite lengthy.
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This Tomatin 15 year along with the 12 year are both quite delicious. And for the price, $25 and $18 at my local store, it’s hard to pass up a new scotch to try. I enjoyed the 12 year old more, because I’m more into the darker, nuttier scotches. But if you like a lighter, fruitier scotch, definitely go for the 15.
Slainte Mhath!

The Glenlivet 18

Glenlivet 18

Glenlivet 18

COLOR: orange gold
NOSE: sweet oak, cinnamon sugar, hints of common fruits, the cinnamon sugar owns the front of this nose
PALATE: initially very smooth, smells like it will be twice as spicy as it actually is, just a twinge of oakiness,
FINISH: light apples, more fruits, fantastic finish, something…. Spices, I can’t identify which ones but very pleasant like baking spices

ADD WATER

NOSE: more of the same but a smidge softer, more sugary
PALATE: what little bite the smidge of alcohol had is gone
FINISH: same flavored finished
Very pleasant 🙂

With our recent reviews on the Glenlivet 40 and our upcoming review of the Glenlivet 21 archive, we’re really trying our best to make comparisons of bottle that originate from the same distillery and how they might share some common tasting notes and themes among them. We’ll also be implementing our “Sweet to Peat” meter soon to help beginning tasters to really get an idea of what scotches are more appropriate for gifts and developing the palate. 🙂

-Sniff

Hibiki 17

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Hibiki 17 year old

What?! Another Blend??!! That’s correct ladies and gentlemen. The Hibiki 12 year old’s older brother shows up and definitely brings its “A” game.

COLOR: Orange amber with red edges
NOSE: Deeper oak right off the bat, then gobs of caramelized sugar and stewed red fruit like plums, raspberries and fuji apples. Even with all those heavier aromas you can still dive through and find the light floral and vanilla accents. The addition of water brings a slight rubbing alcohol nose but the sweet freshly baked sticky buns brings you back for more.
PALATE: Much more woody than the 12 year old, astringent around the extremities of the tongue. Hold onto the glorious liquid for 17 seconds before swallowing and you’ll be rewarded with plums, vanilla, spice and candied orange peel.
FINISH: Beautiful length to this spirit. It’s a wonderful blend, tasting like you just bit into a red delicious apple

There aren’t many distributors of the Hibiki 17, but going through Master of Malt will bypass any issues of not being able to find it in your area…unless you can’t have spirits delivered to your state…sorry. This is a great blend and if you like the Hibiki line then you should definitely add it to your cabinet.

The Glenlivet 40

Sometimes in life you have to take a chance on something amazing in hopes that it works out. This bottle of Glenlivet 40 (bottled by Alexander Murray & Co, sold by Costco under the Kirkland brand name) is that chance that we wanted to take.

Glenlivet 40 bottled by Alexander Murray and Co for KirklandGlenlivet 40 (1972)
Bottled by Alexander Murray & Co

Having spoken to a few other scotch loving gentlemen it would seem there are two schools of thought on a bottle like this.

The first school of thought only cares about what’s in the bottle and the actual scotch itself. A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet and a scotch in any other bottle is still the same delicious dram.

The second school of thought actually cares about the bottle and the distillery doing the original bottling. Snobs. 😛

At ScotchNSniff, we’ve chosen to follow the first school of thought. The one that doesn’t judge a scotch by it’s color or bottle or packaging or name.

With all of that said, let’s review this beauty.

COLOR: Darkened Caramel, ironically Kirkland’s 18 looks exactly the same but that is where their similarities end!
NOSE: Sweet oak, cherries, no alcoholic bite, refined, mellow is an awesome word to describe it, creamy sweet fruits, sweet cream, I can’t speak enough to how sweet it smells, baked apples like in apple pie, my normal trick of inhaling the nose across the palate doesn’t work with an alcohol this subdued, on to the palate!
PALATE: oh. My. Goodness. Some very specific spices just shy of pepper but like smooth butter on the tongue, this dram is SO SMOOTH
FINISH: smooth as a baby’s bottom and as light as a cloud in the sky, this creamy dram is so ridiculously smooth on the palate, coating the tongue like butter without any oily feel, I need a second bottle to save for retirement!
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I feel wrong adding water but it’s a part of our process so I’ll do this exactly once. This scotch needs no water.
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ADDED WATER
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Kirkland Glenlivet 40 Year Single Malt Scotch bottled by Alexander Murray and Co
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NOSE: The cream rises to the top of the nose, the spices have found their way to the nose also,
PALATE: too mellow with a few drops of water, now the flavor has the kick of a cantaloupe, super mild,
FINISH: the smallest touch of smoke to remind you that you’re enjoying a fantastic scotch, I can see what all the fuss is about over this bottling.
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So… is it worth $700?
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If you’re an experienced scotch taster (we’ll say you’ve had at least two dozen scotches for comparison), the answer is a SOLID YES. For us, this was a one time purchase that might turn into a two times purchase!
If you’re NOT an experienced scotch taster (as tested by our PR advisor), it might be worth passing up. Not that your palate has to be super refined but it helps to have a few different points of reference.
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Slaite Mhath!!

The Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14

photo 4The Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 year

COLOR: Golden brown untanned leather
NOSE: Rum flavors, honey, vanilla and milk chocolate. A splash of water opens up citrus notes of lime and island fruits
PALATE: Of course I get the initial sweetness, not overly sweet but rum and brown sugar sweet. Then a nice round spicy vanilla with the nice qualities associated with oak. There’s also a flavor of classic bubblegum, the pink kind whose flavor doesn’t last.
FINISH: The finish is medium where the spice lingers nicely and you’re left with the rum and vanilla that you paid for.
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I’m more of a sweeter scotch drinker and this bottle hits a nice spot of spice, vanilla and rummy good sweetness. I didn’t detect much smoke if any. A great beginning of the nice scotch with round enveloping flavors, with just enough spice from the wood to make you remember that you’re not drinking an aged rum.
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#TheBalvenie #CaribbeanCask14