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.

 

image
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.

image
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.

image
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.

image
ScotchNSniff glass

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

Something old, something… new?

ScotchNSniff… are… on… youtube 🙂

This is something we’ve thought about doing for a long while now and thanks to a friend who lives in the video world, it’s become a reality. We’re hoping to bring a different perspective to the scotch and whisk(e)y world that might be a bit more relaxed than most people are used too. Then again, we think that everyone should be able to enjoy whisk(e)y without the pretensions that have been left at the quality spirit table.

Are there certain topics in the whisk(e)y world you’d like to hear about? Certain bottles you’d like to see reviewed? Leave us a comment here or on our new youtube channel and we’ll do our best to help you in your whisky journey 😀

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.

The Glenlivet Adventure in DC!!

Greetings fellow Scotch lovers! Sniff here (yes, I know, I’ve been absent quite a bit lately), and I’d just like to recap the adventure that Scotch and Sniff enjoyed a couple of weeks ago at the Glenlivet Guardian’s tasting. A LOT of people have been asking how we find out about these events. Simply put, most alcohol distilling or bottling companies host events to get people excited about their brand(s). Many of them require little more than signing up for an exclusive club online. The best part? Most of them are FREE. Yes. Absolutely free. You’d be nuts NOT to sign up. They keep you up to date on new bottlings and you… spend all of your money on delicious hooch!

Moving on!

Upon arrival, we couldn’t help but compare this event to the Maker’s Mark event and the Balvenie event that we went to earlier this year.

Greeted by the beautiful ladies of Glenlivet. (Actually this event was sponsored by Pernot Ricard. It's always interesting to talk to these ladies about how they got to host such an event.)
Greeted by the beautiful ladies of Glenlivet. (Actually this event was sponsored by Pernot Ricard. It’s always interesting to talk to these ladies about how they got to host such an event.)

 

 

Ahh, heritage.
Ahh, heritage.

 

 

They had plenty of samples out to help you taste and this was all before the tasting class.
They had plenty of samples out to help you taste and this was all before the tasting class.

 

 

A preview (now realized) of their Naddura Oloroso bottling.
A preview (now realized) of their Naddura Oloroso bottling.

 

 

The tasting room setup was pretty killer. Very intimate and simultaneously group friendly.
The tasting room setup was pretty killer. Very intimate and simultaneously group friendly.

 

 

Each table had three glasses (where are the glencairn glasses??) with Glenlivet covers.
Each table had three glasses (where are the glencairn glasses??) with Glenlivet covers.

 

 

Near the glasses were four labeled canisters containing
Near the glasses were four labeled canisters containing “fruity”, “spicy”, “flowery”, and “smokey” flavors. If you like the smell of canister IV (peat/smoke), you’ll love ardbeg. If you’re normal, well, you’ll heave a little lol.

 

 

Our host, who, to be honest, felt like a salesman and much less like a connoisseur. Glenlivet (or Pernot Ricard) and Maker's should take some notes from how Balvenie presents their product.  If you're going to take the time to organize friends, take the time to teach and treat them like family.
Our host, who to be honest, felt like a salesman and much less like a connoisseur. Glenlivet (or Pernot Ricard) and Maker’s should take some notes from how Balvenie presents their product. If you’re going to take the time to organize friends, take the time to teach and treat them like family.

 

 

A random couple seated behind us, enjoying a dram!
A random couple seated behind us, enjoying a dram!

 

 

Overall the event was a good time but it lacked the family feel of the Balvenie event where you were introduced to pictures of people and told rich stories behind those people before sharing in a “family” drink. This Glenlivet event was much more of a “here, try some scotch ya noobs, go buy some”. Which, ironically, was still more organized than the Maker’s event where we had to yank information out of our hosts.

So if you decide you’re going to visit some of these events, keep an open mind as they all seem to have their own feel.

Now go open a bottle of your favorite sipper and enjoy!

Slainte mhath!

Sniff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

IMG_4593

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.

Sniff’s 2014 Scotch Christmas Gift Idea List Extravaganza Part I (lol)

Hi there!Looking for the perfect bottle of hooch for that loved one in your life? If they love single malt scotches, you’ve come to the right place. I know Scotch is working on his list but I fear it may be full of smokey, peaty, and “different” flavors that I have a hard time appreciating. My list though? It’ll be full of sweet, delicious, and delectable options for that person you actually love. lol

Let’s get started.

The parameters we’re using for this year’s Christmas gift list are:

1) A few $50ish bottle options

2) A $100 bottle option

3) A “dream” bottle option.

The dream bottle option won’t be something ridiculous like the Macallan M but something under a grand that is attainable with a good bit of saving. ($20 a week is a smidge over $1000 so it’s definitely a gift you’d be better off planning for)

50s

Auchentoshan 12 Classic ($36)
Maybe your giftee is a big fan of smooth irish whiskeys. If they’re looking to make a transition from smooth to flavorful, the Auchentoshan Classic is a great segue. It’s triple distilled like many irish whiskeys but still as flavorful as any Scotch in this price range. A great beginner scotch also for the new-to-scotch friends in your life.

Glenfiddich 12 ($42)

I cannot emphasize enough how beginner friendly this liquid is. Full of tree fruits, it’s hard to put this dram down. I think this is the second year I’ve recommended this scotch and it’s definitely one that makes a great gift. It’s my go to gifting bottle for friends who are new to scotch drinking.

Dalwhinnie 15 ($57)

Apples. Banana. Pears. Need I say more? The Dalwhinnie 15 (which is NOTHING like the smokey distiller’s reserve) is very excellent. 🙂
The “Hundo” 🙂

Glenlivet Naddura ($90)

This bottle is pretty new to the Glenlivet line but tastes fantastic. This is for your scotch drinker who’s tasted a dozen or two scotches and has a good idea of the flavor profile that they like. It’s high ABV at cask strength is something to be aware of. Buying this bottle is almost like buying two bottles for the drinker that adds water to find flavor. In terms of flavors, it’s oaken spices meets sugar and butter creme all over a mashed pear drizzled in cinnamon and pepper!

Can I do two dream bottle options??

Glenfiddich Age of Discovery 19
($170)

This bottle quickly became my nightly sipper. It’s tannic grapes meets soft red apples meets cane sugar and sweet corn cereal. You can’t go wrong with this amazing offering from Glenfiddich.

and the

Kirkland Alexander Murray and Co bottled The Glenlivet 40
($700 regularly, on sale in DC for $600 right now)

This is the smoothest and almost the most affordable 40 year scotch out there. Oak, cherries, creme, granulated sugar, a touch of pepper, cantaloupe, and just a touch of smoke. WOW oh WOW oh WOW.

My Christmas Suggestions! -Sniff
My Christmas Suggestions! -Sniff

What didn’t make my list and why…

Macallan Rare Cask ($300)

This would definitely make the dream bottle list but we haven’t done a formal review on it so it will have to wait until next year at the soonest.

Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie ($66)

This actually replaced my Glenfiddich 19 as my nightly sipper after I purchased it. It’s an amazingly balanced scotch. I’m not even a fan of peat but level of peat and smoke in this tasty morsel mixed with actual fruit flavors equals an AMAZING daily dram.

As always, enjoy responsibly with friends!

Slainte mhath!

Sniff