Auchentoshan Three Wood vs Kavalan Classic

Wait.

A scotch versus a Taiwanese whisky? Granted their both single malts, this review exists because of the magic that is sherry. 🙂

The three wood NAS offering from Auchentoshan is a dark molasses brown in the bottle and pours just a touch lighter, no doubt the color imbued by two different types of sherry casks. Im sure we’ll see how much the ex bourbon casks add to the bottle on the palate.

The Kavalan Classic (also a no-age-statement) is just a shade closer to gold than the three wood but packs the same type of bold sherry influence that is easy to love. Doubly so if you’re a Macallan fan.

On the nose the three wood immediately brings caramel chews to mind but carries a handful of oddly paired background notes including citrus zest and raisins. Yes, caramel raisins sound awesome but the citrusy, slightly vegetal smells might divide some noses. It’s a bit refreshing and a bit odd at the same time. This is all in contrast to the rich honey and syrupy sugar nose of the Kavalan. The sherry also shows its face but not in the same round fashion the three wood displays. My memory of each bottle definitely had the word “BOLD” written on them but side by side, it’s interesting to see the sherry take a back seat to their subtleties and nuances. Let’s get to tastin’!

The Kavalan is smooth on the tongue. Just a touch of alcoholic bite but it’s hard to drive attention from the sherry spices mixed in over light fruit syrup. It’s luscious on the tongue and borderline velvety with just a touch of fig. It finishes wonderfully with more sherry spices and a slightly oaky flavor. Man oh man. I knew there was a reason I bought two bottles after getting a taste at whiskey extravaganza last year. It’s hard NOT to like this dram! Let’s move on!

Ah, the three wood is sweet to start but finds itself sharing in the same vegetal notes that were hiding in the nose. It’s thinner on the tongue than the velvet blanket of Kavalan. It also has a bit of smoke on the finish. Alone, this isn’t a half bad pour but side by side with the Kavalan, its flaws really make their way to the forefront. This was a pretty terrible matchup but considering these bottles are within $15 of each other, it’s not too crazy to pit them against each other.

So there we have it.

Maybe it’s the third round of distillation at Auchentoshan… or maybe Taiwan really is onto something but this was a knockout by Kavalan.

If I were you though? I’d pick up at least one bottle of the Kavalan Classic. There’s a reason their “Solist” offering took Whiskey of the Year last year.

Slainte 🙂

-[Sniff]

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!)

 

One Eight Distillery: Untitled Whiskey No. 1 review

One Eight Distillery

One Eight Distillery: Untitled Whiskey No. 1

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?

Color:

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

Nose:

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.

Palate:

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.

Finish:

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.

Scotch Out.

Slainte Mhath!

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

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!

Glenfiddich 21

Glenfiddich 21

Glenfiddich 21

~

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

~

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

~

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!

A whisky by any other name… might not be whiskey!

As we’ve discussed before, “Whiskey” with an ‘e’ is not the same as “Whisky” without the ‘e’. Yes, the spirit may be distilled in the same fashion, but the ingredients (barley vs corn/rye/wheat) and the location of distillation (Scotland vs US/Japan/Ireland) are very different. That said… last night Scotch and Sniff headed out to Harry Brownes in Annapolis for a private tasting event held by two gents from Maker’s Mark. It’s free to sign up to be an ambassador on the Maker’s Mark website and it comes with a few interesting perks you can read about there. Basically, it’s an engaging program that helps to fuel some zeal in people who enjoy Maker’s. I think the rest of this story is best told with pictures.

 

Ryan Miles of Maker's Mark introducing people to the event.
Ryan Miles of Maker’s Mark introducing people to the event.

 

Mr. Ryan Miles pours Maker's Mark 46 samples for the MM Ambassadors
Mr. Ryan Miles pours Maker’s Mark 46 samples for the MM Ambassadors

 

Beautiful layout of Maker's Mark 46 samples and mini barrel.
Beautiful layout of Maker’s Mark 46 samples and mini barrel.

 

Ambassadors enjoying their time in the tasting room, adjacent to the bar.
Ambassadors enjoying their time in the tasting room, adjacent to the bar.

 

A portion of a barrel and a seared french oak stave used in the barrels for flavor.
A portion of a barrel and a seared french oak stave used for 9 weeks in the barrels for flavor.

 

A veiw of the Maker's Mark 46 barrel through the mini barrel.
A veiw of the Maker’s Mark 46 barrel through the mini barrel.

 

They fed us with pulled pork cole slaw sliders covered in a Maker's flavored sauce! Delicious!
They fed us with pulled pork coleslaw sliders covered in a Maker’s flavored sauce! Delicious!

 

Overall the event was a lot of fun with friends and as with most things in the world of alcohol, “seek and you will find”. We inquired about the types of barrels used, the types of wood, the aging process, the warehouse conditions, and a myriad of other questions; all that they were willing to answer. This makes us doubly excited to plan our trip to Scotland in 2015!! Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this adventurous post. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and we’ll be sure to answer them!

I almost forgot to add the big announcement that Maker’s has! They’re releasing a cask strength (barrel proof for the bourbon lovers) expression of Maker’s soon! They had a listing of local bars in the DC/Baltimore/Annapolis area that would have it first and Jack Rose is on that list! Who’s excited for a Jack Rose Adventure Part Two!?