Balvenie 25yo Single Cask bottled at 46.9%ABV

Speyside – 46.9%ABV – 750ml – $404 (wowza! This was originally about £100/$200 when it was first released 5 years ago)

It’s not secret that I’m a fan of The Balvenie.  I’ll be headed there as part of the JSMWS tour this month and have been counting down the days until my arrival there.  I was hoping to meet up with Mr. Sam Simmons while I’m out there but sadly, we’ll be missing one another.

In case you missed my video series on The Balvenie (special thanks goes out, once again to Sam on that one), you can check them out here.

The Balvenie has always nailed it with the 15yo single cask series, let’s see what another 10 years and an added $350 dollars does for this whisky…

On the nose Lemony goodness right up front.

Indian cooking spices; turmeric and a breath of cumin.

This is a nice bourbon fresh nose.  Oaky, honey, tangerines.  Fresh cotton.  Pineapple and mangoes.  Ripe banana.  Banana peel. I’m almost getting some blue raspberry in there.   This list goes on and on…

Pears, bruised macintosh apples.

This is all rounded out by what seems to be lightly salted peanuts (the smell, not the taste).

On the mouth– Hot and clean (an oxymoron in the adult film community).

Malty.  Tannic.  Limes.

So far, I enjoyed the nose much more…  Let’s take a break, maybe add a bit of water…

Water calms this one down quite a bit.

Cooked sugar and orange butter.  Malty.  Insanely clean and fresh.

Dried apricots.  Toasted coconut.  Creme brulee.

Finish Hot, long finish filled with banana, honey and a touch of apple.

In sum Oh, you tease!  The nose was brilliant.  I can not stress that enough.  The flavor of the whisky was a bit too shy but water woke her up just enough to make it all worth while.  While normally I prefer a higher ABV, I think this one benefited with the addition of water.  This is a watch-your-kids-play-in-the-sandbox-on-a-cool-summer’s-day type of dram.  I’m not sure I know what that means but perhaps it’s the mix of parental pride and relaxation.

Special thanks goes out to Sam Simmons for the sample (sorry it took me so damn long to post on this one!!)

Arran “Sleeping Warrior” limited bottling

Islands Region – Limited to 6,000 bottles – 54.9%ABV – $78 | £57

Day one of the Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society’s whisky tour will bring us to the Isle of Arran.  At only 15yrs, and as you might know, Arran is one of Scotland’s youngest distilleries.  Young as they are, the whiskies they’re releasing are top notch and they’re surely making a name for themselves.  A good, good name for themselves.

This whisky is limited and only 6,000 bottles were made available.  6,000 might sound like a lot of bottles but these releases really sell out quite fast.

According to Arran, “A donation from every bottle sold of The Sleeping Warrior will be made to The National Trust for Scotland to help maintain the footpaths on Goatfell, Arran’s highest peak, for the enjoyment of all.”

So, if you want to buy a new whisky and feel like you’re contributing to a good cause, this might be it.

On the nose  Quite obvious, this is an Arran whisky as it’s got a good deal of salt and brine upfront.

Melting milk chocolate with something bitter in here as well (perhaps some bitter sweet dark cherries).

Walnuts and breakfast food gristle sitting in the edges on the frying pan.

Blood oranges and to top it off, malt and lots of it!

On the mouth Tip-top mouthfeel!  Reminiscent of the mouthful I got on the 11yo, 15yr Arran Anniversary malt.

Warmed apple and caramel (or vice versa.  Either way, I’m reminded of a state fair caramel covered apple).

So. Very. Warming.

Nutty (let’s hope you don’t have any nut allergies!).

Oily, savory yet sweet.

Baked pears, cinnamon & nutmeg, salted caramels.  This is yummy.

Finish Milky cafe latte that warms you from head to toe on a cold late autumn of early winter night.

In sum Perfect for colder days when your loved ones aren’t around for you to snuggle up with.  Love the one you’re with – love this Arran!  I have to say, this is perhaps my 2nd favorite Arran after that 11yo, 15yr Anniversary Arran I mentioned earlier.

Special thanks goes out to Andy Hogan for the sample!

Ardbeg 10yo single cask – bottled by the SMWSA – Cask number 33.91

Islay region – matured in a puncheon cask – 64.4%ABV – $95 (no longer available – only a few hundred bottles available)

Over the next few days I’m going to focus on whiskies by distilleries I’ll be visiting while in Scotland.  I’ll be in Scotland from August 12th – 20th (as part of a tour led by Jason Johnstone-Yellin of GSD and the Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society) and I’ll be visiting:

  • Arran
  • Ardbeg
  • Bowmore
  • Lagavulin
  • Talisker
  • Glenmorangie
  • The Balvenie
  • Glenglassaugh
  • plus others…

During the tour I plan on taking lots of pictures, videos and keeping a tour diary that will be made public and will be made available as soon as humanly possible.

So, today’s whisky is one bottled by the SMWSA.  A young peaty Ardbeg.  Let’s see how she fares…

On the nose  VERY young smelling stuff!  Fruity new make spirit.

After a couple of minutes to get past the newness of it all and we’ve got notes of barbecued pulled pork (or what I remember of it).

Lime & agave (think silver, unaged tequila).

This is a very aggressive whisky and not the most complex but not unpleasant.

On the mouth Much softer than expected.

Pussycat attack with honey and burnt sugar.

Some lemon pledge furniture polish.

Salty iodine, fresh sea air.

More like a smoky Mezcal, really.

Those agave notes are really present here.

Finish A touch of milk chocolate with chili peppers.  Medium long.

In sum Not what I’m after in an Ardbeg.  Even young Ardbeg (the ones I’ve had) seemed ready.  This one, on the other hand, seemed like it could have used a few more years in the cask (or maybe even to spent some time in another cask).

Special thanks goes out to Chris Kent for the Sample!

The Knights of the Whisky Round Table discuss *gasp* high end single malt whisky cocktails – blasphemy of blissful?

Whisky Round Table, meeting number fifteen…

Just over a year ago, Jason Johnstone-Yellin of had a great idea: bring together 12 prominent whisky bloggers and hold a monthly conversation regarding whisky; the ins, the outs… everything and anything whisky-related.

In case you’ve missed the previous year’s Whisky Round Table Discussions: click here to catch up.

Here we are at the fifteenth month/fifteenth meeting of the Knights of the Whisky Round Table and we are presented with a question from Peter Lemon of The Casks:

Whisky cocktails…love ‘em or hate ‘em? We’re not talking Jack & Coke, 7&7′s, or Rusty Nails from the rail here, we’re talking top shelf single malts, single barrel bourbons, and craft distillery ryes, shaken or stirred into a classic pre-Prohibition cocktail or a new, creative libation. What do you think, is it an affront to the whisky gods to use the good stuff in a cocktail, an abomination nonpareil? Or is it a terrifically delicious, if not spendy, use of our favorite spirit? Feel free to share your favorites and where you had them as well…or, as it may turn out, your least favorites and where you wasted your hard-earned money…

So, who’s for whisky cocktails and who’s against them.

Click here to find out our very varied answers.

As a reminder, the valiant Knights (and links to their blogs) of this round table are:

Chris – Nonjatta
Keith – Whisky Emporium
Karen & Matt – Whisky For Everyone
Ruben – Whisky Notes
Mark – Glasgow’s Whisky (And Ale)
Neil & Joel –
Lucas & Chris – Edinburgh Whisky Blog
Jason – Guid Scotch Drink
Gal – Whisky Israel
Mike – Whisky Party
Peter – The Casks
Joshua (hey, that’s me!)– The Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society

Again, for all of the Whisky Round Table discussions, click here.

Two Laphroaigs, both independently bottled. One from Royal Mile Whiskies the other from Signatory.

This is going to be a sort of cut-to-the-chase review.

More whisky, less preamble.

I’ve got a trip to Scotland to in a few days, lots to review and little time for posting more than notes.

So, two Laphroaigs, both independently bottled. One bottled by Royal Mile Whiskies, one by Signatory.  A death match to the finish (pun intended).

Laphroaig RMW 10yo 56.8% (this bottle is no longer available)

On the nose Smoky and abrasive yet fruity… sort of like a fruit orchard on fire.

Lemon custard pie with a side of honeycomb cereal.

Very aggressive nose – at 56.8% I’d expect so but… it seems somehow moreish in the hot-alcohol-on-the-nose department.

Pears, cinnamon and pepper; in that order.

Lastly, some notes of tinned pineapple… Tin and all.

On the mouth– 

Not as smoky as the nose lead on.

Fresh oats and other cereals. Very malty.

Creamy attack loaded with lemons and salted, honey and butter slathered toast.

Finish nice even, drying finish. Like licking a dry Popsicle stick or tongue depressors.

In Sum A nice well balanced Laphroaig. Well chosen you choosers of cask! I could easily pour this on a warm summer night or a cold winter day. Sounds odd but very doable!  Actually, I’d love to taste this as beer before it becomes spirit.  I imagine it’s delicious.

Laphroaig 8yo Signatory 46% $53

On the nose very similar, if you ask me, to the RMW version except softer (a result of the lower ABV?).

Here’s an unusual one: blueberry bramble.

Rubber gloves and other things that start with the prefix “Poly”.

On the mouth A watered down version of the first Laphroaig.

Much sweeter, however, and less malty than the first one.

Finish Not a dry as the previous Laphroaig and that’s too bad.

In Sum Something tells me that this would be really nice as a cask strength Whisky.  I might have enjoyed it more if I went for this before the RMW Laphroaig. Note to self, when reviewing two whiskies side by side and one of them is cask strength and the other not… Start with the lower octane one…  That is all.

Special thanks goes out to David H for the samples!