Glenmorangie Margaux Cask – the waiting was the hardest part!

Highland region – 46%ABV – 700ml – Limited bottling 1 of 3551 – $446 | £278 |€325 (I bought my bottle a good while back and did not pay these prices.  My bottle number, by the way, is # 3535)

Where do I begin, and to what do I compare the feelings I had upon opening this bottle so as NOT to make a comparison to my *first time* with a girl and the anticipation some teenage boys, such as I was, feel regarding the prospect?  Aw, crap.  I just made the comparison, now didn’t I?  At least there were no details, right?  Right.

In all seriousness, I’ve had this bottle sitting in my whisky cabinet for a good 2 years (or so) before I went ahead and opened it.  It didn’t stay there because I was planning on keeping it for whisky collecting purposes.  No, it just so happened that I wanted to wait until the right time (whatever that would be) to open and enjoy it.  Thanks to you, I discovered what that special time was and, even though I haven’t gotten there yet, I’m well on my way on what I believe is the right track to attaining that goal.

So, why did I open this bottle if I hadn’t reached my goal yet?  Well, that is all explained in this here post.

Let’s just say that opening it was a thrill.  And to be in the good company of friends who are fellow whisky geeks/bloggers (Jason, Sam, that’s you!) made it all the more special.

Anyone who frequents the blog or knows me personally understands that I’ve basically got a boner for all things Glenmo.  If you’ve not tried their range in a while, I REALLY suggest you give it another go.  Their current line up is very special – even down to their 10yr “Original.”

And shit, if the contents of that bottle didn’t smell like pure heaven…

I’ve used this video once before (for another Glenmorangie whisky) and few drams can be compared to what is being compared in this video but, enjoy!

On to the review…

On the nose A very un-Glenmo nose.

Wafts of over-ripe grapes.

Delicious prune like notes.

Scents of grass and wild flowers (the little white daisies that aren’t so sweet smelling – very earthy).

Italian herb rub.

Fine red wine for the holidays.

Subtle notes of apples and peach (wine soaked peaches at that!).

Big chunks of chocolate.

Paper lunch bags.

On the mouth Powerful – like licking a dank dirt floor cellar; musty and earthy.

I wouldn’t want this any other way.

Very tannic, big wine and tobacco.

Lots of dried fruits with a focus on raisins and prunes.

This is really massive and the mouth feel goes back and forth between creamy and peppery.

Finish Very drying finish, oaky and hints again of that herb-rub I got on the nose.

In sum Delectable.  Way too big for daily dramming (also, too expensive & limited for it as well).  Handle with care.

This is the elephant in the room. Not to be ignored.

If drinking with friends, the conversation needs to be deep and it should be centered around this beauty or you’re just not giving it its due respect.

Balvenie Portwood 21yr & 21yr Duty-Free – a side by side tasting.

Speyside region — 43% ABV (standard bottling) & 47.6% (duty free only bottling) – SB: $125 | £75 | €88DFO: £69 | €81

It’s no secret my love for The Balvenie runs deep.  Their whiskies can be delicate, complex, bold, intriguing, thick and rich, light and peppery, etc…  However, what you can always count on are the “classic honeyed Balvenie notes”.  Unmistakable.

You can find all of my Balvenie reviews here.

A while back Sam Simmons gave me a sample of The Balvenie 21yr Portwood Duty Free expression which is both non-chill filtered and has a higher ABV (47.6% as opposed to the standard 43% — the 43% being chill filtered, by the way).

Sam, thanks again!

I’ve been holding off on posting my thoughts on that whisky as I had not yet posted my thoughts on the standard 43% ABV Balvenie Portwood.  I now have some of that 21yr Portwood.

A big thanks goes out to Andrew Weir for that sample!

There is something so rewarding about The Balvenie Portwood.  Come on folks, this is expensive stuff.  Not an everyday drinker.  You break it out for that special, joyous occasion; or perhaps you buy it for a loved one or your boss.  So, to taste two different Portwood whiskies in one sitting… Man, I felt like I was treating myself to a world class massage — my happy ending being The Balvenie x 2!

Balvenie, me love you long time!

Time to share the experience:

On the nose 43% Classic honeyed Balvenie nose with a good deal of black pepper notes.  Something astringent here; perhaps a touch of witchhazel.  Black grapes.  Honey peppercorn salad dressing.  Poached pear and a touch of green apple.  Oranges.  A tad salty.

On the nose 47.6% Duty Free Somehow, even with the higher ABV, the nose is softer here.  Much like the off the shelf stuff but with added elements of salted toffee.  Not as peppery as the standard stuff.

On the mouth 43% Sweet blessed Benjamin, that’s good!  Big grapes.  A good deal of pepper & bite.  Hot pepper and honey.  There’s a creaminess to this whisky that somehow offsets all of the spicy bits I’m getting here.  Cool.

On the Mouth 47.6% Duty Free A world of difference in the mouth feel.  Excessively oily.  And, though I really don’t like to use this as a descriptor, Sssssmmmmooootttthhhh!  Buttery smooth.  It must be the non-chill filtering – leaving in all of those great fatty acids! Earthier in flavor, almost mushroomy but still very sweet with the grapes and the “hey-hey and the pretty lady!!” (sorry, my inner Jerry Lewis came out.  Yes, I have an inner Jerry Lewis.  You don’t??).

Deep red fruits – over ripe strawberry, strawberry & rhubarb compote.

G-d, I love this!

Finish 43% Long with hints of hazelnuts and vanilla.

Finish 47.6% Duty Free Much more nutty on the finish, lasting vanilla and more honey.

In sumIt’s amazing what 4.6% more alcohol and non-chill filtering can do!  I am not knocking the standard 43% 21yr Portwood – it’s a solid, kick-ass dram but, this duty-free stuff was on a whole other level – especially with the mouthfeel – ah’good G-d y’all!

Both are celebratory drams.  Go ahead, give yourself a happy ending and enjoy some Balvenie Portwood soon!

Catoctin Creek – Mosby’s Spirit & Roundstone Rye – organic & kosher (not for Passover)!

What’s that?  Oh, you haven’t heard of Catoctin Creek?  Wait, are you serious??

Actually, I believe it.  And I wouldn’t expect many to have heard about these folks.  Well, things are going to change, my friends!  Catoctin Creek is surely the new kid on the block (please, no Donnie Wahlberg jokes, people).  They started in 2009 and are the first distillery to open in their county since Prohibition.  The brain child of Scott & Becky Harris, I think these folks have something quite good on their hands.  And this something is only going to grow!

For my tree-huggers out there, all of Catoctin Creek’s products are certified organic.  And for my Jews in the audience, their products are kosher certified (Star K).  Oh, and for my booze lovers on the other side of the computer or smartphone screen, their whiskies are really good and… award winning!

Sadly, as it stands now, Catoctin Creek spirits are currently only available in California, Virginia, Maryland & Washington DC.  In speaking with Scott Harris, however, he told me that they are currently working on wider distribution.

Update – Schneider’s of Capitol Hill will ship Catoctin Creek nationwide (USA).

Rather than put it all on the post here, to learn more about Catoctin Creek, click here.

Now, let me learn you on these whiskies.  First, I’ll review their “Mosby’s Spirit” which is unmatured rye spirit, straight off the still then diluted to 40% ABV.  The second is their “Roundstone Rye” which is their “Mosby’s Spirit” aged in new oak barrels for an unspecified amount of time.  Both are 100% rye with no other grain influence.

Mosby’s Spirit – Virginia, USA – Awarded a bronze medal by the American Distilling Institute – 40%ABV – 750ml – $39

On the nose No doubt about – if the label on the bottle didn’t tell me, or the crystal clear color of this rye didn’t clue me in, this is white dog, new make spirit, what ever you want to call it – it’s straight off the still rye!

Slight citrus notes.  If I didn’t know better, I might confuse the scent of this for a silver tequila.

Hints of gooseberries.

Very sweet nose.  Very clean as well.

Rye bread (duh!).

On the mouth Thinnish mouth feel.

I enjoy the flavor much more than the nose.  Very drinkable.

A slight saltiness to this.

Here’s a strange note for you: fresh cement.

Light & clean white wine.

Some unripened peach tones in there.

Tinned oranges.  Actually a tin of many fruits (including that one single solitary cherry they throw in for you).

Finish Medium in length with some of the rye from the nose and an interesting cranberry flavor that popped up.

In sum I went into reviewing this whisky with the thought that it’s nothing more than a rye for mixing purposes.  Nosing the stuff and I still felt this way.  Tasting it changed my mind.  I would be happy to sip on this stuff, especially in the summertime but I’d equally be happy to make a nice Manhattan with it.  Think I’ll pour a wee bit more…  Nah, have to review the Roundstone Rye now…

Roundstone Rye – Virginia, USA – 40%ABV – 750ml – $39

On the noseIt’s interesting what one year in an oak cask will do.

Upfront with the vanilla and a few hits of coconut.

Wet oak.

Rounded out with soft caramel apple

Peachy peach.

On the mouthBig and rich in flavor and a nice mouth feel.

Cinnamon sticks.

Grilled apple slices.

Still a good deal of new make-i-ness in there but, I’m a fan of young spirit so no complaints here and after only a small amount of time in a cask, I would not expect anything else.

Unripened peach (just like with the white dog).

FinishMedium in length with some great notes of caramel and rye.

In sumA very approachable rye, especially for those just getting into them.  It might benefit from a slightly higher ABV (maybe 46%) but still, a solid whisky (and yes, Catoctin Creek spells it “whisky” without the “E”.

Many thanks to Scott Harris for the generous samples!

Linkwood 15yr – Old Masters Collection

Speyside region – 59.2% ABV – $|£|€ – ???

I am increasingly becoming more and more fond of single malt whiskies produced by Linkwood – nearly all of which are independently bottled, by the way.  For the most part, the fluid is used in various blends such as Johnnie Walker, Bells & Haig.  This is a shame for those who prefer a single malt, but, good news for those who also enjoy a good blended whisky (I represent both of these types of people) as Linkwood whiskies tend to be nice, rich and complex – the perfect addition to a blend to enhance its deliciousness.

The name “Old Masters” is somewhat new to me.  When you think of independent bottlers some companies come right to mind: SMWS, Signatory, Duncan Taylor, Douglas Laing (who does the Old Malt Cask, Provenance & Premium Barrel lines), etc…

So, let’s see what the Old Masters get us with this Linkwood:

On the nose Strong spirity nose with an initial attack of blue nail polish remover/acetone.

Big malty notes.  Belgian beer.

Tropical fruits like pineapple and dried papaya.

Shoelaces (think “fat” laces from the old school hip hop days a la Grand Master Flash & Run DMC).

This is some strong stuff so, I decided to add a wee bit of water.

With water, the nose softens tremendously…

Now some big oak and sweet sugared grapefruit halves are revealed.


On the mouth Big malt.  Big, big malt.

Hot mouthfeel.

Spicy notes and those tropical notes carry through.

Something highly sour about this schtuff too.  Can’t place it.

Adding water now…

The mouth feel gets chewy and that sour note evolves into lemon pith and dry white wine sangria.

Finish Long and stinging in feel thought short-ish in flavor.

Like a mouth full of whitehead hornets (poor Winnie the Pooh!).

With water the finish is still very long but with a few less bees a’buzzin’

In sum A lot going on here.  Very complex but not sure it all worked out in the end.  If you were to go for this whisky, and I’m not sure I’m suggesting such a thing, I would reach for it in the late spring/early summer time.  Very bright & fruity.  I didn’t hate this whisky I just think it could have used a few more years in the cask or perhaps it should have been transferred to a new cask for a Re-JEW-Vination™ of the spirit.

Truth be told, I reviewed this whisky more than a month ago or so and it wasn’t until yesterday when Chris at The Whisky Wall reviewed the same whisky.  You should hop over to The Whisky Wall to check out Chris’ review.

Oompa-Loompa-Doopity-Dee, enter this contest and win some whisky!

I don’t normally post PR on the blog (I’m actually planning on saving Sundays for the pieces sent to me as there’s a lot of great releases sent my way) but this one had to go up STAT as it gives you an opportunity to win a shit ton of whisky.

Oompa-Loompa-Doopity-Dee, enter this contest and win some whisky!

Win a Year’s Supply of Whisky from Master of Malt

Master of Malt have launched a Golden Dram Competition in which five lucky winners will receive a year’s supply of whisky from the world’s greatest distilleries.

The competition was launched to celebrate the release of Master of Malt’s dram sets – 24 different tasting sets showcasing the world’s finest spirits. Each set includes five beautifully labelled, wax-dipped samples, specially selected by the Master of Malt tasting team. There is a wide range of sets to choose from including an Old and Rare Whisky Tasting Set, a Regions of Scotland, a Super Peaty Whisky Tasting Set, and many more.

120 Different Whiskies

Golden Drams have been hidden in five lucky tasting sets, and if you find a golden dram before the end of November, you win a free Gold Membership (RRP £499.95) into Master of Malt’s Dram Club. Gold members receive a year’s supply of whisky, with 10 exquisite drams every month! That’s a glass of superb whisky every other day!

Dram Club

Master of Malt’s Dram Club is the ultimate chance to try exceptional whiskies from all over the world. There are three different membership options;

Bronze Dram Club Membership (£84.95) includes;

  • A 5 dram box-set every three months
  • Two Glencairn tasting glasses

Silver Dram Club Membership (£249.95) includes;

  • 5 new whiskies to try every month
  • Two Glencairn tasting glasses

Gold Dram Club Membership (£499.95) includes;

  • 10 new and exciting drams every month (a year’s supply of whisky)
  • Two Glencairn tasting glasses.

You can browse the range of dram sets here

Or you can read up on membership into Master of Malt’s Dram Club here

For more information on the Golden Dram Competition, visit

Also, don’t forget, if you do purchase anything from Master of Malt, be sure to enter in the term “JSMWS Sample” in the delivery instructions box – you’ll get a free Master of Malt whisky sample with your order!