Two Bruichladdich distillery-only “Valinch” bottlings. One is sublime, the other is like drinking a dead muskrat.


And so it goes with single casks; and so it goes with whisky in general… While many whiskies can be average to really good (in the “non-point-based” scale system or, the “how-was-the-overall-experience?” system) some can also be great, amazing, etc… and every now and again, life changing.

There are also, from time to time, some amazingly bad whiskies out there.

Today I am reviewing two Bruichladdichs and these whiskies are so polar opposite, I thought it’d be great for them to share blog-post space.

Before moving forward, I must say that I have a particular devotion to Bruichladdich.  I am so in love with their spirit and their evolving story is something of great interest to me.  Also, The Laddie Ten is currently my #1 go-to whisky these days.  I consider it to be, perhaps, the best 10yo whisky on the market.  Period.

So, let’s start off with the really-really BAD Bruichladdich.  It’s called “Coming of Age” and it is one that I got in August of 2011.

Bruichladdich-Coming-of-ageBruichladdich Coming of Age “valinch” bottling.  58.7% ABV – Palo Cortado cask, 9yo

On the nose –  A drying, yet previously soaked, coffee filter filled with last week’s, and now moldy, Luizianne coffee.

Bruichladdich-1The musk of a feral ferret that has both the mange and rabies.  Also like smelling chocolate covered death.  Horrific from the get-go and magnificently so.

Seriously, I never nosed a such a bad smelling whisky, ever.   Yet like being unable to look away from a train wreck, I can’t stop nosing it.  “It can’t be *that* bad, can it?!” asks me. “Yes, yes it can” I reply.

Bruichladdich-2On the mouth –  This is like licking a blood soaked rusty prison shiv.  I feel like my blood might mix in.  It’s sort of scary.

Flat root beer meets flat cola meets gauze pads loaded with browned and dried iodine and blood.

Hey, great mouthfeel!

Bruichladdich-3My mouth is coated with flavors of a five pound bag of dead mice.  Chicory galore and more coffee (albeit OLD coffee).

Finish – Why won’t it stop.  It’s endless and surely taking years off of my life.

In sum – The best balanced worst whisky I’ve ever had.  Plain and simple.  Much like that dead rodent in the walls of your office, this is a conversation piece.  I highly recommend you get a bottle if you can find one!

Port-charlotte-predictionPort Charlotte Prediction “valinch” bottling.  63.5% ABV – 9yo (wine finished? Not enough info on the bottle.)

Bruichladdich-4On the nose –  Milk chocolate and warm milk drenched digestive cookies.  This was quickly followed everything very vegetal including celery with celery salt and freshly snapped dandelion stems.

Light white wine-like notes mixed with malt and LOTS of it.  This is more like a heavily peated Bruichladdich than a lightly peated Port Charlotte (if you catch my meaning).

The  final sniff test offers up some lime popsicles.  Yum!

Bruichladdich-5On the mouth –  Much peatier than the nose offered me.  White grapes and a shaker of pepper.  Other than this, very similar to the nose.  Overly enjoyable.

Elegance without being delicate.  Like drinking a female body builder (that still looks like a lady).

Great mouthfeel.  Very much one of the things I look for in a whisky.

Finish – Long and peppery and sweet and like a super treat

In sum – When it comes to the peaty treats, this is what I look for in a whisky.  It’s got everything.

I pour this only on special occasion and today’s special occasion was comparing it to the abortion that was the “Coming of Age” Valinch.’s review of the “Coming of Age” death-whisky is much more flattering than mine…

Karuizawa Cask #3603 from 1964 – a massive 48yo bottled at 57.7% ABV


Karuizawa Cask 3603 1964Japan — 57.7% ABV — 70cl — £8995 | $13929

I spent about a week in Mexico City.  You know, work stuff as per usual.

Boy, was it hot down there!  About 85 degrees; a nice dry heat.  Quite a change from the mid 20 something degrees Fahrenheit and the 30+ inches of snow I had waiting for me at home.

While I was sad to say good-bye to Mexico, I was happy to come home again to the wife and chillins.  Also waiting for me at home were three samples.  One was a Bruichladdich from a Mr. LZ.  Karuizawa cask 3603 1964Another sample was the new Balvenie 12yo Single Barrel from Mr. AW and, finally, a sample of this here Karuizawa from 1964 (cask 3603).

While I was excited to receive all three, ¡Holy frijoles, was I a happy boy to have received this historical Karuizawa sample!  Very much an unexpected package!

At the time of bottling, this was the oldest Karuizawa to ever have been bottled and now I was going to get to taste and review it!

Before I go further, I must thank everyone from Master of Malt for thinking of me (again — remember the sample of 1953 Glenfarclas they sent to me?  I do!).  Also, a big thanks to Michal Kowalski of Wealth Solutions!

So last night I had made a Facebook status update telling people: “I’m going to have a 48 year old in my mouth tonight.  Get your minds out of the gutter, I’m talking about whisky!

The snark factor on Facebook seemed unusually high as an old school mate of mine (known as “the other Josh”) returned with this image:


After a few comments, David Hartogs (friend, member of Single Cask Nation and occasional guest poster.  Note here and here) chimed in with: “What’s the verdict?

That same old school mate, the other Josh, came back with:


Ah, the Facebook…

Funny schtuff aside, let’s taste some history (not Frank, the Karuizawa):

Karuizawa-3603-1964-1On the nose — Initially hot to the nostrils but from the go (after the heat) is bitter Mexican chocolate and clementines.

Heated butter, not burnt but heated with bits of dill weed swirling in the near butter boil.

Cracklin’ Oat Bran cereal and burnt sugar.  Rotting stone fruits (peach juice turned bad… but in a good way).

Rubber soles on sneakers.  Black Pu’er tea (like with the Glenmorangie Ealanta).

Karuizawa-3603-1964-2Apple sauce (slight note) and boiling berries.  Noticeably fragrant mahogany furniture.  Cherry cola.

With water the heat is nearly gone.   Chocolate covered Werther’s and good, old-fashioned belt leather.  Loose leaf paper (like a 5 subject notebook, not copy paper).

More mahogany and apple fritter grizzle.  This has become a joy to nose.

Karuizawa-3603-1964-3On the mouth — Intensely hot on first sip.  Almost absurdly hot; like a $2 pistol.  Burning rubber, wooden window sills (with fresh, hot lacquer).

I better add a drop of water before my head catches fire.

Karuizawa-3603-1964-4With water she’s still hot, but fresh with mangoes and mango skin, tinned fruits, window sills (again) lacquer (again), lots of tropical fruits popping about — sort of crazy and not what I expected at all.

Sweet papaya (not the earthy/footy papaya), hints of guanabana and guava paste (??).  Aerosol paint and paint caps.  Beeswax across the front of the palate, too.

Not oily or viscous in any way.

Finish —  Like the fast decay at the end of a song, bitter chocolates leave their echo upon the tongue.  Slight touch of dill as well.

WW — Very waxy finish, flat cola, drying and lasting longer now with the water.

Karuizawa-3603-1964-5In sum — An intensely hot whisky that loves water more than I love whisky.  Once given the water she desires, she simmers right down and opens up to tell you her life story.

A whisky experience unlike any other I’ve had to date.  If you have the casheesh to buy a bottle, open said bottle and try it without the water.   Then, add 3 drops or so to your dram.

The transformation from The Hulk into Dr. Robert Bruce Banner is astonishing.


You might also enjoy Oli’s review on

Also, check out the review at

Serge’s reviews are always a joy to read, too!

Glenmorangie’s Ealanta – a 19yo Scotch whisky matured in heavily charred Missouri oak


glenmorangie-ealanta-private-edition-american-virgin-oak-19-year-old-single-malt-scotch-whisky-highlands-scotlandjpgHighlands region – 46% ABV – $109 – $129

Most of my whisky friends know all too well that I am a Glenmorangie junky.  Some might suggest I have a bias toward their whiskies.

Replace “Halfling’s leaf” with Glenmorangie’s whiskies in the following audio clip and you’ll see what I’m getting at:

While I’ll admit that Glenmorangie whiskies are among my favorite (though I’ll bol, I would submit that I have no issue announcing when I do not like a whisky they release.

The Ealanta is the fourth is their Private Edition range as well as the oldest in the series (it’s also the priciest one on the series).

Glenmorangie has access to some of the most premium slow-growth oak trees in Missouri and they usually cut the wood, season it for two years, make up casks, send them to Jack Daniels and Heaven Hill so they could make their whiskey THEN those distilleries send the casks to Glenmorangie so they could mature their whisky.

What’s different here is that Glenmorangie sent themselves the new wood and did the full 19 year maturation of their malt whisky (after having charred the casks heavily).

Something tells me that this might be one for the folks who also enjoy good, high end bourbons.  Let’s find out..

glenmorangie-ealanta-private-edition-american-virgin-oak-19-year-old-single-malt-scotch-whisky-highlands-scotland-1On the nose –  New charred oak goodness!

Actually, what strikes me the most is that there is a zingy zestiness in here that is very rye-like.

Perhaps a little dill, rye seed and fresh cut grass.

glenmorangie-ealanta-private-edition-american-virgin-oak-19-year-old-single-malt-scotch-whisky-highlands-scotland-3That classic Glenmorangie ripe peach note is still present (you can’t beat great spirit).  Pencil erasers.

Toasted tangerine skins (sort of like a tangerine black pu’er tea I have).

glenmorangie-ealanta-private-edition-american-virgin-oak-19-year-old-single-malt-scotch-whisky-highlands-scotland-2On the mouth –  Insanely silky mouthfeel and, flavor wise is much like that tangerine black pu’er tea I noted above.

Vanilla (slight) and honey (heavy).

glenmorangie-ealanta-private-edition-american-virgin-oak-19-year-old-single-malt-scotch-whisky-highlands-scotland-4Sweetness is to this whisky as a wall of death is to a late 80’s/early 90’s mosh pit.  Powerfully sweet, verging on cloying (but not quite there, thankfully).

A touch of salt and black pepper as I chew this one a little more.  And now we have some extra dark chocolate as we reach the finish.

Finish – Drying, long and darkly sweet with a mix of tangerine and more dark chocolate.

In sum – While this has obvious characteristics of a whisky from new oak, it also has some other element in here that I just can’t explain.  The label says heavily charred oak but the color seems light — maybe there’s a mixture of lightly toasted and heavily charred oak?

Either way, it’s another Glenmo that pushes the envelope again with its focus on different types of cask maturation.  Well done.

This is a mid-summer dram for me.

Special thanks to Mr. David Blackmore for the sample!

You may also enjoy the following reviews on this whisky:

Guid Scotch Drink

Malt Impostor

Whisky For Everyone

How I almost ended up in jail or, my review of the second release of Whyte and Mackay’s “Mackinlay’s” replica whisky from the Shacklton Expedition


A mixture of Speyside & Highland region whiskies – 47.3%ABV – $175

The video below was recovered at the end of last week, one month after my trip to Antarctica.

Found by the Antarctican police (also known as Intersouthpol) and then released by the Antarcticaian natives, the video is here for your viewing pleasure.

This video is my review of the second release of Shackleton whisky or, Whyte and Mackay’s Mackinlay’s replica whisky:

If you’re interested in my written review, I was able to save enough of the liquid to write down my notes.

They are as follows:

mackinlays-blended-malt-scotch-whisky2On the nose —  Flinty, coastal and smelling of goarse flowers (?) and then more earthy wild flowers.  Biscuity and touches of lemon water, cold sweet cream butter.

Maltiness that verges on a Belgian beer (*verges*, it’s not quite there).

Very briny and notes of crushed pineapples abound!

mackinlays-blended-malt-scotch-whisky3On the mouth —   Massive smoke, lemons bars, fig newtons minus the fig.

Still malty and with a great mouth feel.

Oddly sweety and peaty (the sweetness, like the first release) reminds me of Pop Rocks (maybe it’s the zippy feel on the sides of my tongue).

This is a great winter-warmer-upper!  Briny still and the oily mouth feel makes my mouth happy.

Finish —  Lasting, zesty.

In Sum — A fine, fine whisky.  I’ve said this before but, if Richard Paterson got it right in his replication (and if anyone could, it’d be him), then the original Mackinlay’s whisky was a cracker!

Grab a bottle.  It’ll warm you up!

The 2013 Drammies are here and it’s your chance to vote (*cough* Single Cask Nation *cough*)


I wonder if you remember the 2012 Drammies where this happened for Single Cask Nation:


I totally remember and am so thankful for all of your votes last year!

To think that we (the Jewish Whisky Company and Single Cask Nation) got an Honorable Mention in the Drammies before we had whisky!

Well, I’m hoping that now that we have whisky we might get top nod.  We shall see but you can help!

It’s up to you.  You can vote for Single Cask Nation in category # 9 “Most Exciting \ Innovative Whisk(e)y Producer \ Bottler” and help make it happen!

And, if you want to vote for Jewmalt Whisky Reviews in category # 5 “Best Whisk(e)y Information Source ,” I won’t complain!

Below is the press release which gives you all the information you’ll need to vote in the 2013 Drammies.

Thank you for your support!


It’s with great excitement that ForWhiskeyLovers announces the Call For Nominations for the 2013 Drammie Awards.

The mission of the Drammie Awards is to put the power of “recognition” in the hands of the whiskey consumer.

The 2013 competition commences with a nominating process where WhiskeyLovers can submit their own nomination(s) for any number of 15 total award categories.  The fifteen nominating categories are:

  1. Best Whisk(e)y Marketing Campaign of 2012 
  2. Worst Whisk(e)y Marketing Campaign of 2012    
  3. Best Whisk(e)y Packaging of a whisky released, or packaging redesigned, in 2012
  4. Best New Whisk(e)y Related Product
  5. Best Whisk(e)y Information Source   
  6. Best Whisk(e)y Bar
  7. Best Whisk(e)y Distillery Tour
  8. Best Whisk(e)y Distillery
  9. Most Exciting \ Innovative Whisk(e)y Producer \ Bottler
  10. Most Innovative New Whisk(e)y” released in 2012
  11. Best Whisk(e)y Value \ Bang for the Buck
  12. Most Underrated Whisk(e)y
  13. Best Blended Whisk(e)y of 2012
  14. Best New Whisk(e)y of 2012
  15. Best Whisk(e)y of 2012

Nominations will be accepted for three weeks, or until midnight on Friday, February 15th 2013.   

Enter your nominations for the 2013 Drammies here.  

After nominations are closed, ForWhiskeyLovers will post the top five (5) nominations (those receiving the  most nominating votes) for each category on, and voting will commence to select the category winners.  Voting on finalists will be conducted for another four weeks, from Monday February 17th until midnight on Friday March 15th 2013.

The 2013 Drammie Award Winners will be announced on Monday April 1st 2013