the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.
No matter how many reviews we write, I can never get the idea out of my head that the worth that anyone has for a bottle of whisk(e)y is always subjective. We try to give an idea of the value of a bottle based on its flavors divided by its price tag and it seems to be a solid way to give the most objective review that we can. There’s nothing worse than spending $200 (or more!) on a lack luster bottle that you purchased for a special event! And there are few better things that spending $60 on a bottle that brings joy to you and your friends.
All of that said, today’s Scotch versus Scotch is a three way battle between some 18 year old offerings. In one corner we have a bottle from Costco, the Kirkland Highland 18 Sherry. In the second corner we have a bottle of Glenfiddich 18. And in the third corner of our triangle shaped ring, we have the Macallan 18. Two of these offerings are finished in sherry and the Macallan is aged in sherry alone so this should be an interesting comparison. The price differential between these three bottles is also extreme so we’ll get a great idea of the value of each of these bottles.
The Kirkland (bottled by Alexander Murray and Co) and the Macallan are almost identical in their slightly reddish golden hue. The Glenfiddich is noticeably a few shades lighter in color.
The Kirkland 18 Sherry cask smells like barley! Sherry barrels generally impart a nutty and spice filled flavor into the distillate they cradle and the barrels that AM&Co happened to pick for Costco are a pleasant deviation from the norm. There are also toffee notes strewn about the barley but they’re quite a bit more subtle than any typical whisky. The Glenfiddich has the fruitiest nose of the three… but that should come as not surprise to any Glenfiddich fans. Freshly sliced apples are drowning in sherry (sherry apple pie O.O) and soft baked tree fruits are sprinkled in small dashes of sugar! This is heaven! Ahhh, the Macallan 18. World famous for scotch lovers, it reeks of Sherry with bits of toasted oak. I know this bottle far too well. [Scotch] gifted me my first bottle last Christmas and I’ve already got a second replacement bottle for the inevitable demise of this liquid gold. In case you’ve never tasted this sherry and chocolate concoction, I’ll just leave a link to its previous review here.
The Kirkland is light on the tongue with Sherry and barley! If you’ve ever had Korean barley water (보리차), you’ll find yourself right at home! There’s a bit of light fruit which is no surprise considering the distillery chosen to source the 18 year old hooch. There may be some grapes that are also present in the mix. Water brings up some unpleasant oak notes so if you’d like to enjoy this, like the Pappy Van Winkle 23, skip the water! As I bring the Glenfiddich towards my face to sip it, I’m immediately greeted by a bowl of fruit sugar! This pour is the most classy rendition of an apple pie in liquid form. From the soft, luscious baked apples to the cinnamon spices, it does not disappoint. I’d like to pair this with Thanksgiving this year. 🙂 Whichever casks they chose for batch 3454 all deserve a medal! The richness of the Macallan 18s sherry and spices blast to the forefront of your tongue. It’s a small aria in Macallan’s opera of sherry (compared to the NAS cask strength) but along with sherry comes chocolate and oranges and even a touch of oak. Decadent.
The Kirkland finish is sherry spicy with fruity notes. It’s definitely enjoyable as a sipper. The Glenfiddich finishes with oloroso spices and pepper… another solid offering from the valley of the deer. The Macallan lingers like an old friend just in from out of town. A best friend.
The Kirkland was $60 for the bottle, the Glenfiddich $80, and the Macallan $200. Not really a fair comparison when there’s more than a 300% difference in price between two of these bottles. That said, each of these bottles holds value for their respective audiences. The Macallan is something people can brag to their friends about trying. The Glenfiddich is something that can be shared with friends at home. And the Kirkland? Obviously a value at its price point and that’s more than admirable.
Which is your favorite? Which have you tried? Let us know. 🙂
A little bit of history about the distillery, One Eight Distillery is a newcomer to the beverage scene in DC located in the rough parts of Ivy City. A mostly industrial and very poor part of the city, has seen some resurgence through gentrification and some brave new businesses. One Eight’s first foray into aged whiskey is called “Untitled Whiskey No. 1” and it comes from 9 year old rye distilled by the MGPI distillery in Indiana, which has been around since 1847 by way of various owners. There are many companies that have used the hooch created by MGPI, High West, Willett and Templeton Rye to name a few tasty ones. One Eight Distillery then takes that 9-year rye and ages it for another 3 months in 30-year-old Oloroso Sherry casks. Then they bottle it up and slap a label on it. How is it, you ask?
A reddish tint to a very medium grade honey. You could very easily pick up the bottle and think it was a very thin maple syrup
It has a prominent blast of rye spice right up front. Vanilla and caramel creep up lightly behind the spice, along with sweet tobacco. The addition of water brought out a beautiful caramel and vanilla flower perfume and reduced the spice notes.
The rye spice fills the mouth and is then met with dried orange peel, slightly peppery and cooling menthol tobacco. A very hearty whiskey at a very well controlled 52.5%. The sweetness no doubt brought into play by the Sherry cask finishing. The addition of water didn’t really make a positive difference to the whiskey. It seemed to water it down and thin its flavor.
After tasting while nosing, I can feel that my lips are sticky and noticeably sweet. It doesn’t have a sweet finish but rather a sustained mellow sweetness. The rye spice continues for a good while. The combination of the sweetness, spice and heat make a pretty darn good whiskey. I’ve tried a lot of the beers, breads, and booze that have come out of DC and claimed the district as their home but this has to be the best representative I’ve had. The interesting rye spice and Sherry finish make this a bottle to look out for if you ever see it at your local stores.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.