Speed dating… with whisk(e)y! Episode 3: Kilchoman 100% Islay, 3rd edition


Islay region – 50% ABV – $89 | £65

Here I am, back on the dating scene!  My first two dates were with a couple of sisters from America – Koval Four Grain Whiskey and Koval Bourbon.

Today I am dating a smoking Scottish lass.  I hope she treats me right!

Kilchoman-marge-schottOn the nose (Date # 1) –  Ashtrays meet white pepper meets rice vinegar and wet cardboard.

Am I on a date with Marge Schott?  Did I mention I love her?  Marge does have a sweet side, you know…

Tinned fruits, brown sugared boiled apples and a butter crusted apple pie.

925959b98fa71b669d96a5046d29e853On the mouth (Date # 2, This girl seems to have a complex personality.  Let’s see how the 2nd date goes.  She could be blowing smoke up my @$$) – Heavy smoke upfront with lemon citrus spray.  Say it, don’t spray it!

Burnt apple skins – this I like!

Heavy on the white pepper but there are also notes of cherries in sweetened pear sauce.

Finish (Date # 3: The deciding factor)– Notes of re-opened barbecue grill, first time since last summer.  Distant smoke and old barbecue sauce…

In sum (The decision)– A fine 100% Islay expression from Kilchoman.  I did like her older sister (2nd edition) a bit more as it showed a truly unique character.  Still, this young lass is well worth another date…

Special thanks to the folks at Impex for the sample!

Highland Park and Linn partner up to release 40 bottles of 40yo whisky and 40 turntables


Islands region – 48.3% ABV – £25,000 or $40,000 (40 bottles that each come with a Linn Sondek LP12 Turntable).

Ummm, yeah…. so… something crazy just happened in my mouth.

I just poured and tasted some of the oldest Highland Park whisky released to date (their 50yo being older than this one, obviously).  As I sat here nosing and tasting the whisky, besides taking notes as fast and furiously as I could, I began to wonder: how on G-d’s green earth could I be so lucky as to taste this juice?!

I am reviewing a whisky that few people in the world can afford.  And, even if all the folks in the world that could afford a bottle tried to get a bottle, they couldn’t.  Forty bottles.  Forty.  Four Zero.  40 bottles released in total.

I can not argue with the price tag of £25,000/$40,000 given the scarcity of the juice and what a bottle comes with:  A Linn Sondek LP12 (and one made with a Highland Park cask).  I was a music geek before I ever got into whisky.  On top of this, I have been a collector of vinyl for years.  I am well aware of Linn as their turntables are the holy grail of turntables. Limted edition Linn Sondek LP12 meets limited edition 40yo Highland Park?!  Where was that bank I wanted to rob???…

Here are my notes for the Highland Park 40yo:

Highland-Park-Linn-Sondek-LP12-1On the nose  –  The first word(s) that comes to mind is wood-tar creosote and an almost mesquite-like, warm-autumn day fired up grill.  Fresh spring rain with old style raincoats as well! Mix in dark chocolates and we are in Wowsville!

Have you heard this one?  A 55 year old maintenance worker walks in to a used book shop with an old wooden tool chest in one hand and teak-wood polish in the other.

Waiting for the punchline?  Don’t those were tasting notes, my friend!!

Truly a lovely Highland Park here with tons of distinguished character.

Yes, I know he's not a Yale professor but I love him nonetheless
Yes, I know he’s not a Yale professor but I love him nonetheless

This is what a Yale professor of bio-ethics drinks on the last day of his career, methinks.

On the mouth – Quite lively on the tongue with a lightly viscous mouthfeel.

Highland-Park-Linn-Sondek-LP12-3Candied orange rinds, polished wood (a la Violin Hero) and 70’s Good and Fruity candies.

Highland-Park-Linn-Sondek-LP12-4After a little time in the glass my next taste reveal cooked, carmelized sugar and powdered police donuts.  There’s an Astropop like quality both in flavor and in the feel of the fluid against the tongue.

Better put, there’s a waxiness to this whisky that I usually only find in Brora or Clynlish (well, sometimes Old Pulteney).

It’s sort of amazing.

Finish – Long, drying finish with some menthol at the very back of the palate.

In sum – 20 minutes in the glass opened this whisky right up.

I will try to explain how luck I am to have tasted this whisky…

A) it was distilled in my birth year, 1973

B) There are only 40 bottles available

C) You can only get a bottle by buying this Linn amazing turntable (which, sadly, we can not afford for my 40th birthday).

D) I don’t currently have $40,000 unless I tap into my 401k which would, of course, initial a divorce.

I’ve got a large vinyl collection that’s just screaming to be played on that turntable while I enjoy some 40yo Highland Park.

Register here for your interest in the whisky and turntable.  Contact me if you need a shipping address to accept your wonderfully generous gift! 🙂

This whisky is in the running for best whisky tasted in 2013.

Special thanks for SR for the sample!

Speed dating… with whisk(e)y! Episode 2: Koval Bourbon


koval_bourbon_largeChicago, IL – 47% ABV – $53

Yet another date with a Koval whiskey.

This time it’s Koval Four Grain‘s (seemingly younger) sister, Koval Bourbon.

The mash bill is corn and millet.  Organic grains, of course.

Koval-Bourbon-1On the nose (Date # 1) –  Upfront spirity yet spicy sweetness that is reminiscent of Big Red gum.

Touches of dill weed and surprisingly enough, lithium grease.

Quite interesting for a bourbon with the industrial component.

On the mouth (Date # 2, a bit unsure about how this relationship is going however, I am hopeful) – That spice component is first and foremost.  She’s getting fresh with me.  I can dig that.

Koval-Bourbon-2Woody, for sure (the flavor, not my reaction to the spiciness) but the spirit is there as well.

Hmmm, bubble gummy and a nice little mouth feel to it.

Finish (Date # 3: The deciding factor) – Oatcakes and a touch more cinnamon.  Medium in length.

In sum (The decision) – This whiskey would hold up well in a tasting as it tells it’s own story.  And if you enjoy younger whiskeys this is right up your alley.

For me, it’s a little too young.  Some extra time in the barrel would marry well with what I can tell is a fine spirit.  Is that always the way?! Someone in a relationship is always acting a little immature – usually it’s me!

While I don’t think we’ll become malt-friend and boy-friend, we *will* remain friends.

Speed dating… with whisk(e)y! Episode 1: Koval Four Grain whiskey

Chicago, IL – 47% ABV – $50

Picture shown is for the Koval Single Barrel Four Grain Whiskey
Picture shown is for the Koval Single Barrel Four Grain Whiskey

Those regular to my blog (and those that are friends via my Facebook group) know that it’s been a LONG time since I *really* blogged about whisk(e)y.  Heck, lately, I’ve had some good reasons.  In particular, a certain thing has been taking up my time, you know?  Well, this has kept me busy too!

We live in a modern age where I can tell fewer fart and di¢k jokes leading up to my whisky review.  I know this makes you sad and it makes me a little sad too.

Soon I will get back on the longer-review wagon but, until then, I’m launching a new semi-regular series called “Speed dating with Whisk(e)y!”

The idea is that each step in approaching a whisky is like a little mini-date.  I will give you my notes as I move from nose to mouth and then to finish and also give you an idea of how I am feeling about the girl, I mean whisk(e)y, as I am experiencing the hooch.

Moving forward in this series there will likely be less pictures involved…

Let’s go!

Koval-Four-Grain-Whiskey-1On the nose (Date # 1) – She’s really showing me her quality! Melons, big old melons!

I mean, I can smell melons as well as a bit of papaya. Turning now pineapple and cinnamon spice.

This one is quite fruity and most inviting (note: this is very much unlike many American whiskeys I’ve experienced)

Koval-Four-Grain-Whiskey-2On the mouth (Date # 2, I’m hopeful here! She’s not like all those other girls) –  Mouth filling and sticky sweet. Like french kissing a lollypop.

Banana forward here (hey, size doesn’t matter here, put that thing away!).

Tropically-and-fruitily sweet with star-bursting spice.

Koval-Four-Grain-Whiskey-3Finish (Date # 3: The deciding factor)– Short in length but there is an interesting note of hot mint chocolate cocoa.

In sum (The decision)– I think I might have a glug-buddy in this one. Sure, I’m not going to marry her but we’ll have a lot of fun together.

If you enjoy adventure in your whiskey, this one is well worth your time!

Special thanks to the folks at Koval for the sample!