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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

BenRiach 16 Sauternes Cask

BenRiach 16 Sauternes

BenRiach 16 Sauternes Cask

~

Only 1650 bottles have been produced, after being held in Sauternes Casks from the legendary Chateau D’Yquem. Watch out Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or, an opponent Sauternes finished whisky is in the house!!
COLOR: Aged sauternes, golden raisin, light honey
NOSE: Right off the bat you get a nose full of sweet candy. Some flavored with orange, red apple and apricot. Like you’ve walked into a candy shop that’s owned by a cooper, you can smell the hints of burned barrels behind the closed doors in the rear. The vanilla and honey are undeniable and delicious. No doubt from the interaction with the sauternes cask. The smell of flat sprite comes to mind, which is probably just light ginger, lemon and lime and orange. The wood and spice are not overbearing in the nose but definitely balanced and upfront. The deeper I stick my nose in the glass the more the caramel aroma deepens with vanilla and toffee richness. I slice a vanilla bean in half and store it with my raisins so they taste amazing in my oatmeal and this smells exactly like the box of vanilla’d raisins. Remember that, Vanilla’d Raisins.
PALATE: The golden nectar rolls across your tongue syrupy and sweet. As I swirl the spirit around my mouth the spices warm and surprise every nook and cranny. The flavors of the aromas are all present with the addition of light cracked pepper, lighter spice and the dryness that walnuts give you. There’s a bready quality to it, like I just bit into a sourdough loaf (akin to those from France not San Fran). Nutmeg comes forward, a smell often associated with sweetness but only to be fooled once you eat a spoonful. I want bananas to be found somewhere and then I would say that you’d be drinking banana bread. The spices and sweetness are very similar to a spiced loaf or cookie.
FINISH: The finish is long and warming and spice filled. After the flavors of spiced bread leave my mouth, I’m left with a soft smoke or at least light wood that’s been charred and left to smolder in a cold rain making that sizzling sound.
 ~
I tried the BenRiach a couple months ago when I first purchased it and I didn’t really care for it, well not at least as much as I do now. It’s interesting how a liquor will change in the bottle when all you add is time. The flavor is rich and the sweetness is balanced and with it getting colder and it happening to be raining today, I guess the timing is right.
 Scotch Out.
Slainte Mhath!

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

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!

~

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.
 ~
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!

Lagavulin 16

Lagavulin 16

Lagavulin 16

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COLOR: The color of the bottle is lovely, a vintage look to it with awesome font…Oh the whisky, it’s a rusty bronze with hints of dirty fallout water.
NOSE: Who’s on fire? I smell a camp fire, with the spit of meat still turning over the barely lit embers. Beef jerky is drying on the side with a soy based glaze. Ash, tobacco and cigar box are very present, like just stepping out of a cigar store but never smoking. There is a light sherry aspect and a mineral like seashell with a light whiff of mint. Water brings out an amazing red fruit that was hiding being the fire pit somewhere, cherry and raspberry. Do I like? I like =)
PALATE: My taste buds were surely tested over this scotch but look deep and you’ll find walnut shell, charred oak and fresh pine. Oh and leather. It is sweet, an enjoyable sweet that offsets the massive smoke bomb. A menthol note carries through to the palate like having licked a friends menthol cigarette (it had to have been a friend, why would I go around licking other peoples cigarettes?).
FINISH: The campfire feel carries all the way through to the end. The embers are now all charred ash, wood smoke abounds and oddly enough there’s a light spearmint. What an interesting flavor to get a mint note through the entire tasting. I really enjoyed the mint.
 ~
All packaging aside, I’m not very much a fan of this scotch. People love it and swear by it. Those are probably the same people who love blowing up the price of Ardbeg and Oban. If you like intensely smokey and peaty scotches, these are your winners. If you don’t, please continue with us as we pull away from these smoke bombs and get back to tasting the wonderful caramel, honeyed and toffee scotches that we love so dearly.
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.
 ~
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!

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 12

photo 2

Tomatin 12

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COLOR: Golden wheat
NOSE: Tomatin brought grains and bread to mind on first sniff. Heavy in the malt and wheat bread smells. Then figs and juicy pear sweetness. With the addition of spring water toffee and vanilla caramels and a stronger pear fragrance arrived. For being 12 years old, it has developed a very complex nose.
PALATE: At first sip the pear comes right out, along with granny smith apples without the tartness. Spice and oak develop on the tongue while swirling it around. Freshly grated nutmeg and sweet salt-water taffy.
FINISH: The finish here is much longer than expected, but single noted with an interesting cigar box like finish. Spicy and drying.
 ~
I’d seen this scotch at my liquor store forever and it was always on sale for $25. Since it was always on sale I never wanted to pick it up. And then it went on sale for $18 dollars and I said I have to have it. Even if it’s bad, I’ll still feel good about trying it. Who knew that it would be far more complex then I ever thought it would be. Why is no one buying this?? My guess is, it’s the perception of price to quality. No one wants to buy something that’s always on sale because they assume it’s of poor quality. This is still a Scottish single malt, aged for 12 years and spending time in expensive sherry casks. This is a nice neat drinker and probably solid in your Rob Roys or Bloody sand cocktails.
Reach outside of your norm and enjoy!
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