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.

Bruichladdich Scottish Barley : The Classic Laddie

COLOR: lightly wheated yellow
NOSE: though there are some peaty overtones, the sweetness shines through, warm honey, granulated sugar, slight vanilla,
PALATE: immediate spices on the tongue, OMG honey, wow!!!, the sweet flavors mix perfectly with the peat
FINISH: smokey like a shirt that’s spent time around a campfire, smooth like room temperature butter,
~
 ADD WATER
 ~
NOSE: dang, now you can smell sugar outside of the glass, the water swallowed the peat, a little smoke lingers
PALATE: more fruit now on top of spices, like plum and currants,
FINISH: spicy smoke, smooth, creamy, yum
 ~
Surprisingly delicious and without burn for 50% alcohol content.
This… has replaced my daily sipper! (Glenfiddich 19). It’s so well balanced it’s hard NOT to like. It’s an amalgam of flavors from all parts of Scotland that entertains the tongue without wearing it out. Fan-freakin-tastic dram!

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

Dalwhinnie Distillers Edition

BDD Scotch4

Dalwhinnie Distillers Edition

~

COLOR: Aged sauternes, tarnished brass

NOSE: This whiskey has a deliciously balanced nose. There’s a slight amount of malted peat, but not at all overly done. A light smoke rolls in and combines with the heather fields that are prevalent around the distillery. A slight sweetness of light honey and blonde toffee are up front and reminds me of that initial blast of walking into a candy store. A sweetness that you settle into and then become involved with.

PALATE: The whiskey is awesomely viscous and thick. A gentle coating of smooth sweet spice that is bold but not overpowering at all. Then the arrival of a layer of candy coated almonds. The sweet candy, almost toffee/caramel shell being sedated by the savory mellow almond flavors. As sweet as this all sounds, it is balanced. Yes there is a very sweet forward flavor but it is handled well with the spices and soft sherry notes.

FINISH: The finish is full of spice. The spices come back and show the sweetness the exit sign.

 ~

The Dalwhinnie Distillers Edition was good, it’s definitely a well balanced dram but for the cost over the 15 year old, I can’t say that I would recommend it. The flavors that you get from the 15 are similar and without the finish being so dry and of course with the cost being around $40 less. As good as this one tastes, I’d stick with the 15 yea old.

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

GlenDronach 21 Parliament

photo 2

GlenDronach 21 Parliament

~

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.

~

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!

Ardbeg Ten

Ardbeg 10

Ardbeg Ten

~

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!

Aberlour A’Bunadh


A'Bunadh

Aberlour A’Bunadh

~

COLOR: Dark caramel
NOSE: I immediately get dark dried fruits like dark raisins, dried figs and dried apple skins. Then baking spices like nutmeg, hints of cinnamon and orange rind. It smells very sweet of brown sugar and un-refined low grade honey.
PALATE: Spicy and smooth oak finish. Breathe in gently because the 60.4% alcohol by volume will burn the hairs out of your nose. A little spring water quiets down the bite and brings out an AWESOME SWEET ROUNDNESS. The baking spices intensify and then bourbon characteristics arise. Delicious.
FINISH: The finish is deliciously lengthy and stays in your mouth and nose for a while before needing to take another sip. It’s got nice body and weight on the tongue. Reminds me of some fine cognacs in nose and palate.
 ~
A’Bunadh seems to be the go to for the Aberlour brand and I can see why people rave about it. If you didn’t know what scotch tasted like, but you know you like a good bourbon, A’Bunadh is your go to. A great place to start and a great place to finish your night.
Slainte Mhath!