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 Glenlivet Nadurra

The Glenlivet Nadurra

The Glenlivet Nadurra
(54.7% cask strength)

COLOR: light greenish gold
NOSE: charred oaken spices, pear, crisp fruit sugars
PALATE: Whooooaaaaaaa. Gonna need some water. The alcohol is burning through brutish spices that muscle their way to the top of a pile of apples and pears. A sweet creamy almost marshmallowy explosion of tamed fruit sugars hide just below the spicy surface. This is going to need some water. The finish is a peppery bombardment of the tongue ripe with oak and more pear/apple mix.

ADD WATER

NOSE: shifts to sugary spices, I was hoping it would get sweeter but it didn’t really
PALATE: buttery creamy on the tongue but the sweetness has been subdued, a bit of smoke rises behind the spices now
FINISH: a mashed pear drizzled in cinnamon and pepper shows up in the finish, it needs desperately to be baked.

This is a killer dram. Great job Glenlivet!

Tomatin 15

photo 1

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.
 ~
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

The Glenlivet 21 Archive

The Glenlivet 21The Glenlivet 21 Archive

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COLOR: Brown toast
NOSE: At first nosing it has characteristics from the 40 but drowning over powered by spices. It has sweet fruit overtones. The spices from the oak shine through but the oak itself isn’t crazy. Tangerine.
PALATE: VERY smooth, more tangerines, dang nice, soft, velvety,
FINISH: All the spice from the nose come barreling forward for a light finish. Citrusy hints. Pleasant, nothing too crazy.
 ~
The poor man’s 40 (that’s still expensive lol)
 ~
ADD WATER
NOSE: the spices have muted a bit
PALATE: wow, sour fruit rises to the occasion with tons the spices front and center
~
FINISH: it’s all business with water. Oak. Spices.Overall it’s a fantastic scotch that does a great job of being the affordable version ($170) of the 40 year ($1400/$700 costco bottled). It’s priced to be much more of a gift than a daily sipper.  Still, I wouldn’t kick it out of my booze cabinet.-Sniff

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!

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!
~
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.
~
ADDED WATER
~
Kirkland Glenlivet 40 Year Single Malt Scotch bottled by Alexander Murray and Co
~
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.
~
So… is it worth $700?
~
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.
~
Slaite Mhath!!

The scotchNsniff tasting method!

scotchNsniff.com

First rule of fight club…I mean… the first rule of drinking scotch… there are no rules for drinking scotch. You drink it how you like it. With water, neat, on the rocks, in a mix. Let no one tell you how to drink your wares. Saying that though, there are techniques for tasting scotch which will help you find more flavors and aromas and help you to better experience the scotch.

Google “how to taste scotch” and you’ll get over 14 million hits. Everyone has an opinion about how to taste. 10 steps, 5 steps, rinsing the glass with the scotch first and throwing it out on the carpet(get out your stain remover). Speaking to the scotch, introducing yourself and even chewing it. Developing your own method will allow you to enjoy your scotch the way you like it.

Since you’re here, these are Scotch N Sniff’s ideas and techniques for tasting scotch:

Choosing your Scotch(maybe we’ll write another long post about choosing your scotch): Single Malt (In picture form)? Blend? Scottish? Japanese? Sherried? Peaty? Sweet? Cost? Advanced vs Novice scotches? Or maybe choose something from one of the descriptive reviews that we have in our blog to start you off. Hibiki 12 year, The Glenfiddich 12 year and The Bunnahabhain 12 year are great introduction scotches we’ve reviewed.

Choosing the right glass: A Glencairn glass and a Copita glass are specifically designed to concentrate the aromas into a tighter space and direct the smells into your nose. The bowl of these two glasses offer space for the scotch to be swirled, helping release the different aromas. If you don’t know how important nosing is, hit the link and read more.

How much to pour: ½ oz to ounce and a half. No need to go overboard, you’re tasting, not drinking….yet =)
(Sniff says: if you’re looking to measure an ounce but don’t have a measuring cup for it, use a cough syrup cup at the 30ml mark for about an ounce!)

scotchNsniff.com

CNPF

(color, nose, palate, finish)

Color. What color does it look like to you? Be as descriptive as you want to be. Golden, pale honey, toasted barley with a light glint of auburn sunset. Just don’t say that it looks brown…they’re all kinda brownish.

Nose. What does it smell like to you? After pouring yourself a small amount in the glass, lightly swirl the glass to move the scotch up the sides of the glass to increase the surface area of the liquid. This increased surface area with the slight agitation will make it easier to nose. Now don’t go jamming your nose down in the glass and inhaling really deeply. You’re liable to pass out depending on the alcohol content. Take light sniffs initially. Just like your muscles need a good stretch before pumping iron, your nose needs a couple light whiffs before going all in. What do you smell? Leather? Oak? Vanilla? Gasoline? If you don’t smell much of anything, take a deeper whiff. Stick your nose in the glass and find out what’s in the glass.
(Sniff says: A nifty trick if your sense of smell is terrible, pretend you’re going to drink the scotch from the glass but stop short of actually letting it exit the glass. This really helps you to breathe in everything the scotch has to offer!)

Palate. Now that you’ve nosed the scotch, it’s time for the best part. Tasting! Slowly pour the golden nectar into your mouth BUT WAIT, DON’T SWALLOW YET! Let it roll around in your mouth, coating your tongue on all sides, even underneath. Think about how it’s affecting your taste buds. What do you taste? Fruit? Tobacco? Spice? Now swallow it down and breathe out. What do you taste now? Has the flavor changed? Did you find another flavor? Go write it down before you forget….We’ll wait for you. Scotch has a way of creeping up on you later on, even when you’re at work and you smell something. “OH THAT’S WHAT IT WAS!! My co-workers wife’s rum raisin bread!”, Nailed it.
(Sniff says: I like to keep the scotch rolling around for a REALLY long time. Think 20-30 seconds on the tongue!)

Finish. How long did the flavor last on your tongue? Are you still tasting it? Did it change while you were breathing in and out? Did it burn or was it smooth with no bite? The CNPF method is a chance for you to get to know the scotch and to explore what it’s made of and why the distillery wants you to drink it. If all scotch tasted the same it wouldn’t be fun to drink. Reading the back of some bottles might help guide you to look for certain aromas and flavors associated with it.

Keep a journal. Write it down. This will help you reference what you liked and disliked. It will help you remember what flavors and aromas you found. Possibly help you compare different bottles and years from the same distillery.

This is just one way to taste scotch. But the whole point is to go out and try some, and use this post as a guide. Get out there and grab yourself a Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or, a Dalmore 15 or even a Macallan Sienna and start tasting! Slainte Mhath(cheers in gaelic)!

~ Scotch n Sniff ~

*************************************************
Sniff’s TLDR;
Pour an ounce in a tulip shaped glass.
1. Sniff it.
2. Taste it for 30 seconds.
3. Drink it.
4. Take notes…
Add a few drops of water and repeat steps 1-4!
*************************************************

Glenburgie Batch 1

That BoutiqueY Whisky Company Glenburgie Batch 1Glenburgie Batch 1

I have to preface today’s CNPF review by saying
you can’t buy this scotch on store shelves in the states.
It’s a “For distribution in the UK” product and both Scotch and Sniff placed an order
at Master of Malt to bring some fine scotch over for reviews.
Master of Malt actually bottles this scotch under the name
“The Boutique-y Whisky Company” hence the “Batch 1” moniker.
It’s a shame this particular beauty isn’t sold here because IT IS DELICIOUS!

On to the review…

COLOR : light golden yellow
NOSE : banana, cooked apple, light cooking spices, heavy creme,
PALATE : astringent spices, apples, oranges,
FINISH : coating finish, hints of smoke, wowzers, heckamazing finish
ADD WATER
NOSE : more banana creme, now the spices show up,
PALATE : only numbs the outside of the tongue,
FINISH : smoke blasted into the finish, wow, same texture
~
So basically, this scotch is a banana milkshake with extra fruit and a touch of smoke.
It was definitely worth the shipping fees to bring this tasty morsel over.
~
#ThatBoutiqueyWhiskyCompany #Glenburgie
#scotchNsniff #CNPF #SlainteMhath #snSNIFF