A pair of “off-the-beaten-path” Old Malt Cask whiskies today…



Pronunciation: /ˈtʃalɪn(d)ʒ/

Definition of challenge

  • call to someone to participate in a competitive situation or fight to decide who is superior in terms of ability or strength: he accepted the challenge
  • a task or situation that tests someone’s abilities.

Today I was challenged to taste and review whiskies from distilleries I’ve had little, if any, experience with: Fettercairn and Royal Lochnagar.

While I can say with 100% confidence that my physical strength has not been challenged in any way, my nose and palate surely were.  Very few people can say they have had whiskies from these from these distilleries and I think I’ve had maybe one whisky from either of these producers.

Fettercairn only recently started releasing whiskies (Fior, a 24, 30 and 40yo) and Royal Lochnagar has a 12yo expression but is mostly used in blends such as Johnnie Walker Blue.

As with all Old Malt Cask bottlings we’re looking at the single cask (yet diluted to 50% ABV).

The provenance of the casks is a bit elusive.  They are both ex-hogsheads but the first liquid held in them is unknown as both are 2nd or 3rd fill.

Both whiskies are very light in color.

Let’s dig in and see if I’m up to the challenge!

OMC Bottle Shot_Fettercairn  16_v1Old Malt Cask 16yo Fettercairn 50%ABV Single Cask

On the nose –  A affront of dusty, sugary lemon flavored American Smarties.

Public pay phones (the smell of the receiver to be exact).  Dungeons and Dragons dice.  For those of you that don’t the smells of either of those previous examples, think of clean and hard plastics.  Not rubbery and pungent but clean and plastic-y.

Green and unripened apples and maybe some watermelon pith.  Quite unique.

OMC-2On the mouth –  This one actually tastes exactly like the smell so I’m going to focus on the texture:

Very oily, coating the center of the tongue and zapping the sides of the tongue and cheeks forcing my mouth to water profusely.

Finish – Drying and growing with white pepper-like spice then, drops suddenly.

In sum – This is very much an aperitif whisky, something to welcome friends with.  It’s not overly complex but it is enjoyable.

RoyalLochnager_300dpi_13inOld Malt Cask 14yo Royal Lochnagar 50%ABV Single Cask

On the nose –  Very much an elusive whisky.

You shy pup, come out and play!  Ok, ok… I’ll be a bit patient here. (taps fingers, looks at the clock, checks email, posts something cheeky on Facebook…).

Alright.  Are you ready for me now, little whisky?

Well, there’s some apple cider vinegar but it’s light in scent.  Some malt grist but again, light.

OMC-1Wait a mo, now you rear your head (did I mention I love that term?).  Freshly skinned English cucumbers in Saran Wrap.  Cucumber yogurt sauce (aka Raita).

On the mouth –  Much like the Fettercairn, this is candied like American Smarties.  More apple-like in flavor than lemon-like but there is some lemon in here now that I swish it about.

Tinned fruit cups with a focus on the tin.

Lightly oaked and just a touch of sandalwood.  This is almost gin like (minus any juniper).

Finish – Very short finish but drying as well.

In sum – Much like the Fettercairn this whisky is one to start your evening with.  It’s way too delicate to have after a meal or other drams.

Special thanks to all of the wonderful people at ISW for their help and samples!

American distillery Lost Spirits fourth cask of Leviathan I – heavily peated single malt whiskey


California – 53% ABV – $50 (sadly now sold out but you can get Leviathan II for $50.  You may want to hop on this as these casks render less than 200 bottles each).

Leviathan I, Cask # 4

Today will be the third exploration into a bit of an oddity amongst American whiskeys.  What makes Lost Spirits Leviathan so unique?  Though I’ve touched on that previously, let’s review it again:

Well, it’s a single malt to start. (Yes I, like everybody else’s uncle and their respective monkeys, read the NY Times article about the surge in the American single malts.)  Beyond being a single malt whisky Leviathan is:

  • Peated to 110ppm (only Islay’s Bruichladdich can claim a higher peat ppm with their Octomore)
  • Matured in a late harvest Cabernet cask (few people have even heard of this style wine)
  • Single cask, cask strength, non-chill filtered, no colors added… the whole she-bang that whisk(e)y aficionados/anoraks/geeks look for in a whisk(e)y.

Maybe “oddity” is not the best descriptor.  Maybe they’re a bit of a loner and a rebel.  Yeah, that’s better.

You may have already read my review of Cask # 1 and/or Cask # 3.  Here are my notes for Cask # 4:

Lost-Spirits-Leviathan-cask-4On the nose –  The nose is noticeably malt-forward but the maltiness has a deep, dank cellar-like malted barley quality.

Almost humid in scent.

As with Cask # 3, we’re getting some Horse Hindquarters Here (a triple H, different than HHH a la “Pump Up the Volume”).

Mezcal-like in my book with the burnt quality (not so much peaty but burning smoke).

Whoa.  Grape “Bonkers” candies.

Heavy on the strawberry-jam-like sniffyness.

Dark millet cookies/biscuits minus any addition of cardamom powder.

Lost-Spirits-Leviathan-cask-4-2On the mouth –  Barrel char mixed with sweet red table wine.

Fleshy bits upon the peach pits (much like cask # 3).

I have to say that I’m very happy with the mouthfeel.  Oily, tongue coating and rich.

Nowhere near as smokey in flavor as it is in scent.  Very fruity, woody and winey with smoke around the edges reminding the dear drinker that yes, this is a peated whisky.

Lost-Spirits-Leviathan-cask-4-3And finally, some over ripened mango right before some tannin-y dryness kicks in…

Finish – Lasting and now some sweetened spicy notes emerge and dance about on the center of the tongue.

In sum – What can I say about this whiskey?  Well, it is very much a mood whiskey and a whiskey I could find myself in the mood for quite often.

While it is a big ‘ol peat monster it’s not trying to be Scotch whisky.  It really is it’s own animal and stands alone  (and quite tall) in the US Single Malt whisk(e)y arena.

Las Vegas Universal Whisky Experience reminder and now a 10% discount to my readers!

This, good friends, the Universal Whisky Experience in Las Vegas, is the ultimate in high-end whisky shows.

There are few, if any places one could go and taste the oldest, finer, rarer whiskies and tasting so many in a single setting.  This show is one of those rare places.  A gem, if you will.

Also, the UWE is not just a whisky tasting event but your chance to play golf with the masters, enjoy fine whisky dinners, attend master classes and more.

What more is you can get a 10% discount off of Highroller and Connoisseur tickets using the following discount code: KAY10

To purchase your Highroller tickets – Click here.

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“Viva Las Whisky

Nth 2013 – The Ultimate Whisky Experience, March 1st and 2nd

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Starting with Glen Canyon – The World’s First Ultimate Whisky Tasting in the Grand Canyon on Wednesday 27, February 2013. Followed the next day by a round of Golf with the Masters (such as Richard Patterson, 3rd generation master blender) at Bear’s Best one of Las Vegas’ premium Golf course.

Other Whisky events continue to build up to the Nth 2013 show on March 1st and 2nd where you will be sampling drams of the world’s most unique, finest premium whiskies from the top-tier brands and conversing with and learning from whisky aficionados, high-end connoisseurs, and collectors. Also at this year’s event will be present the SUPERSTARS (Valued at $700,000) –

Royal Salute Tribute to Honor bottle, The Dalmore Constellation collection and Johnnie Walker Diamond Jubilee bottle, amongst other high-end expressions. If that isn’t enough in itself you also have the luxury of dining, shopping, and playing at one of the top resorts in the world’s entertainment playground, Las Vegas, Nevada.

There are many options available that offer different levels of experience and exclusivity
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GROUP INCENTIVES are also available! For ticket purchases of FOUR (4) or more.

Some of the Highlights included in your ticket price will be a choice of pre show special events such as Whisky Investment debate, Whisky and Cigars and whisky launches. You also get to sample premium whiskies from all exhibitors with your very own collectable Glencairn cut crystal glass. ‘Super Premium whiskies’ – Super Pours will be available for tasting valued at $300.00 and above per pour retail. Exquisite hors’ doeurves available in exhibit hall during tasting, followed by a gourmet dinner catered by executive chefs at the Encore hotel.

Guests of the ‘Nth 2013 Show’ will also have the opportunity to purchase and attend from a choice of Master classes scheduled for Saturday 2nd March 2013. Each class will be conducted by world-renowned brand ambassadors and include discussions and tasting flights of some of the rarest and finest premium whiskies.”

To purchase tickets click here:

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Don’t forget your 10% discount!: KAY10

Wemyss Malts – 20yo Glen Elgin Cask # 2594 “Winter Larder Green”


wemyss_winter_larder-1Speyside region – Single Sherry Oak Cask bottled at 46% ABV

A very short and sweet review for you today.  This is one of the more odd single casks of whisky I’ve had.  Even more odd than the Old Malt Cask Speyside I had the other day.

A big thanks to the folks at Wemyss for the sample.

I LOVED the Weymss Inchgower known as “The Dunes.”  Let’s see what this one brings us…

wemyss_winter_larder-2On the nose — Obvious sherry notes, cola syrup, burnt cherry jam, spiced autumn fruits and heated leather pants (like an 80’s glam rocker’s lower half during the encore at the show).

Ivy school closets and a good deal of wood spice.

On the mouth — A big, huge pungent blast of cola and turning/browning greens.  A solid mouthfeel.

A mass of strawberries and a bit of sulfur/spent match stick.

wemyss_winter_larder-3Lots of what I got on the nose but the pungency and strawberries seem to overtake the show.

Finish — Drying toward the end and a lot (again) of what I got on the nose.

In sum —  An odd, odd duck and a bit over the top with the pungent aspect.  This cask seems to follow suite with The Dunes Inchgower cask I had before in the sense that it’s odd, fun and seems to stand out; but I feel that this cask of whisky might have been better served by being married up with some whisky from an Ex-Bourbon cask to help smooth it all out.


In other Wemyss news (truly fantastic news, if you ask me): The Wemyss folks will soon break ground on a new distillery in Fife Scotland.  Here’s the official press release:

wemyss_winter_larder-4“PRESS RELEASE
9th JANUARY 2013

Wemyss family to build new distillery in Fife

The Wemyss family is delighted to announce that it will shortly begin building a
new single malt whisky distillery and visitor centre by Kingsbarns, Fife, Scotland.

Approximately 6 miles from St. Andrews, The Kingsbarns Distillery will be built within
sight of the world-famous Kingsbarns championship golf course on land which
will be leased from Sir Peter Erskine of the Cambo Estate. The site of the distillery
will be the historic and charming East Newhall Farm steading.

The Wemyss family is being supported in this exciting new development with a
grant from the Scottish Government. It is expected that development of the
existing listed building will begin in early 2013, with a view to beginning distilling
and welcoming visitors a year later.

It is well known that Wemyss family has links with the whisky industry going back
to the turn of the 19th century when John Haig (founder of Haig’s) built his first
distillery on Wemyss land, and since 2005, with the independent bottler Wemyss
Malts. However, it is also the case that the Wemyss family has a historical link
with the site of the new Kingsbarns Distillery as the 7th Earl of Wemyss actually
owned part of the Cambo Estate between 1759 and 1783.

William Wemyss, commented on behalf of the family: “This rare opportunity to
distil our own single malt whisky and develop a new Scotch whisky brand to
support our existing business as an independent bottler will secure the family
interest in Scotch for the next generation. We are delighted to be working with
the Scottish Government, Sir Peter Erskine and Kingsbarns Distillery founder, Doug
Clement, to bring a new distillery and visitor centre to the East Fife area.”

———- END ———-“

Old Malt Cask 20yo Speyside


OMC-Speyside-1Speyside region – 50% ABV – from a single Oloroso Sherry Butt, 150 bottles for the US.  Not sure who got the rest of the bottles from this butt… Maybe a UK/EU Bottling at 700ml?

This whisky reminds me of the theme song to Spielberg’s old cartoon (that I LOVED as a kid/teenager), Tiny Toons.

Here we have single cask of whisky matured in an Oloroso Sherry butt.  What would we usually expect from sherry wood?:  Notes of dried fruits, leather, chocolate, brown spices, cherry stones, cola syrup, etc…  Deep and dark, sometimes cloyingly sweet flavors.

But this cask is breaking all of the rules!

“So here’s Acme Acres,
It’s a whole wide world apart,
Our home sweet home,
It stands alone,
A cartoon work of art!
The scripts were rejected,
Expect the unexpected
On tiny toon adventures
It’s about to start!

OMC-Speyside-2On the nose –  A wonderfully peppery nose that has hints of coastal grasses, medicinal throat lozenges, model glue and diaper cream.

A hint of peat perhaps – not smoky at all but an interesting waft of peat and vegetality.

OMC-Speyside-3Onion crisps (Funyuns™) malt grist and vinegar.  A touch of honey and citrus comes to the fore.

Not an every day sort of nose for me but I am really digging the components.  Well put together so far and above all, interesting.  Let us carry on, wayward son!

On the mouth –  Much more restrained and fruity than expected.

OMC-Speyside-4That coastal element comes out again (again with the grasses and now salty beach stones) and reminds me a bit of what I love about the Laddie Ten.

Loads of white pepper and a gooseberry sourness to boot.  More onion crisps and a hint of adobo spice.

OMC-Speyside-5Very malty, this one.  Like a malt beverage cut with 2% white cranberry juice.

Mouth feel is like flat soda.

Finish – The flavors dissipate pretty quickly but some zing remains on the tongue.

In sum – A very interesting whisky that would likely do well in a tasting of many different whiskies.  Not my favorite Speyside bottling but the nose get extra points for uniqueness.

It’s whiskies like this that get me excited when looking to explore deeper within a distillery to see what it can offer.  This helps to show why single casks are so unique and sometimes quite special.  Or, in this case, odd and a ton of fun.

Special thanks to the folks at ISW for the official sample!