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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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ScotchNSniff glass

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

Happy New Year!!!

So you’ve resolved to educate yourself about scotch this year and you’re not sure where to start?

Welcome! You’re in the right place!

We are [Scotch] and [Sniff] and we are here to help with your scotch education. 🙂

(In case you don’t know what scotch whisky IS (or why it’s spelled without an ‘e’), check out this earlier blog post about just that.)

This post is here to give you an idea of which whiskys you need to try to begin finding your own flavor profile which in turn, will help you to buy more scotch that you’ll enjoy and less you’ll give away to your friends.

Almost any major-brand-label tasting even you attend will include a time when you’ll smell some objects that will help you to differentiate between the four major nosing smells of whisk(e)y: fruity, floral, smokey, peaty. Here at ScotchNSniff, we’ve decided to follow suit and use those four major areas of smell and taste to help you find your own flavor profile. To actually taste these flavors that you’re smelling, don’t forget to taste scotch the proper way!

Fruity: Glenfiddich 12. The Glenfiddich line REEKS of apples, pears, oranges and plenty of other fruits! Darned tasty examples of what the Speyside region of Scotland has to offer.
(other examples of fruity: The Dalmore, Glenmorangie, Speyburn)

 

Floral: Hibiki 12. Yes… I know. This is a whiskey from Japan, so what gives?? The Japanese have really cornered the market on the floral notes but don’t worry, we’ll get you back to Scotland!
(other examples of floral: Tullabardine, The Balvenie)

 

Smokey: Oban 14. The Oban line does a fantastic job of bringing smoke to your nose and tongue. Many times there will be some sweet or salty notes accompanying them but always with smoke.
(other examples of smokey: Bunnahabhain, Glenkinchie, Bruichladdich)

 

Peaty: Ardbeg 10. Personally, I can’t say I enjoy the peat of Ardbeg. I’m pretty sure [Scotch] would agree to a point. I do enjoy Laphroaig (strangely enough) but peat is a real divider of scotch drinkers. You either love it or you hate it.
(other examples of peaty: Caol Ila, Laphroig, Lagavulin)

 

Between those four samples, you should be able to get a great idea of which direction you need to head in your adventures for good scotch. That way, when your friends ask you, “What type of scotch do you enjoy the most?” or “What’s your flavor profile when it comes to whisky?” you can confidently answer with whatever you enjoy the most!

We try to keep most of what review around here under a hundred dollars. We understand that $100 is a lot of money for almost everyone so sticking to scotches that are easy to find on local shelves is always a plus. We do indulge from time to time 😉

 

 

Happy New Year and Slainte Mhath!!!

(Cheers! Kanpai! Salut! Prost!)

 

Scotch VS Scotch: Oban 14 VS Oban Little Bay

Oban SVS0

Welcome back all you whisky fans to another exciting installment of #scotchvsscotch

In today’s battle royale, we pit a solid, smokey, 14 yr Oban (pronounced Oh-Bun) with its relatively new little brother, Oban (remember Oh-Bun) Little Bay. Which one will end up on top, which will we be running to the stores to grab another bottle of, or will we want to drink them at all after this review?

Color: Both of the contenders in this arena are very similar in color. A light toasted wheat or straw, with the Little Bay having a slightly deeper toasty color, probably from the time spent in smaller casks (a large or rather smaller, depending upon how you look at it, differentiating factor between the two).

Nose: Starting off with the Oban 14yr, I’m instantly transported to a sea coast with a little salinity in the air. A low fog of wood smoke rolls over the water, dissipating as it reaches land. I hear seagulls off in the distance. Orange blossom flowers, a rich honeyed stone fruit and white pepper are in the background behind the even layer of smoke. Sweet gentle smoke. Next up is the Little Bay. This nose is completely different from the standard 14yr. Incredibly sweet nose, like stuffing an un-toasted marshmallow in your nose and then inhaling through it. A golden syrup and sultana raisin is nestled in the nose along with mint and a fresh tobacco leaf, not dried and smoked, but a vegetal herbal hint. Going back and forth between the two I find that I enjoy nosing the 14yr a lot more after nosing the Little Bay. A certain kerosene/Sauternes component comes out in the Little Bay that I do enjoy, but find a little harsh.

Palate: First up is the Little Bay. Thank goodness the incredible sweetness was only in the nose and not on the palate. Herbal, minty and lemon peel, like you’d have with your morning espresso. A light whiff of smoke just in the tail end while breathing out. The flavor and mouth feel is rich and full and a little bit of wood sourness comes out with it swirling in my mouth. No need for water but a little does increase the floral qualities and lemon. Interesting. Now for the Oban 14! A sweet smokey arrival as it dances around my tongue. Bran biscuits with smoke, honey with smoke and a great creaminess….with smoke. The rolling fog of smoke I spoke about in the nose is ever present but always arriving with another sweet component. Don’t add water to either, just enjoy them neat. The smoke seems to be a delivery service bringing sweets door to door, like a 75 year old smoking-veteran-girl-scout delivering Somoas, Do-si-do’s and Rah-Rah raisins.

Finish: The finish on both of them seem to be relatively mid-length. The smoke on the 14 yr stays around for a while even when you brush your teeth before bed, but the spices and sweets leave relatively soon. Where as the Little Bay’s sweetness lingers with the whiffs of smoke near the tail end of the finish. I enjoy the whiffs with sweetness over London Fog.

You may be asking yourself, well who wins in the end [Scotch]? And my answer to you would be…. They’re both winners, because they individually cover different spectrums of the scotch rainbow. The 14yr is mellow and full bodied, and the smoke is gentle and welcoming. The Little Bay is sweet and bright with very very light smoke, just near the tail end of the finish. In my opinion the Little Bay is a perfect introduction into the smoke, that the Oban 14yr has to offer. Sometimes it’s not a competition and you should just enjoy both! Slainte!

Scotch Out!

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.
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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.
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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!