Category Archives: Refreshed

Islay distilleries explained thru Rock and Roll comparisons – Part 5 – Kilchoman & my review of the new Machir Bay (UK bottling)


Islay distilleries and their whiskies explained through Rock and Roll – Part V (of VIII)

We’ve made it over the hump.  There are eight active distilleries on Islay and so far I’ve lead us through four of them and what I deem their rock & roll likenesses to be:  Part one:Bruichladdich as The Sex Pistols, Part two: Ardbeg as Slayer, Part three: Caol Ila as The 80′s (They get their very own decade!) and Part four: Bowmore as David Bowie.

I thought reviewing Kilchoman might be the best way to kick off the 2nd half of this series.  At 6 years old, Kilchoman is Islay’s youngest distillery and they are kicking out some absolutely cracking whisky!  Age be damned, Kilchoman is all about quality.

Today we’ll review the new Machir Bay whisky (the UK bottling – we will see a bottling here in the US very shortly) which is a mixture of 3yo (60%), 4yo (35%)  & 5yo (5%) ex-bourbon barrel (Buffalo Trace to be exact) matured whiskies.  Before batting it all together, the 4yo whisky was further matured in oloroso sherry butts for an addition six weeks (to help round out some of the flavors, methinks — it’ll help add some nice color to the whisky as well).

Kilchoman Machir Bay – 46%ABV – $55 | £39

On the nose — It’s quite obvious that Kilchoman has a true style and character.  Initial whiff and yup, this is a Kilchoman.

And it’s lovely.

Quite sweet smelling under all of that peat — fruity and tart (tart apples in an apple tart).

The obvious brine and smoke are waving a flag saying “hello, hello!!  here we are!!”  Citrusy notes here as well.  Lemon, lime… limon?

This aside, I’m enjoying some buttered toast notes and even a salted pie crust like scent.

On the mouth — Thick, full, oily whisky.

Much like what I experienced on the nose however there is the slight addition of sherry influence here.  Think light milk chocolates and spice.

There’s a bit of pepper here and something that I just love: salted black licorice.

Nice and even keeled – No huge sign of being too young.

Finish — Very long and laced with more licorice and even a touch of grilled apples.

In sum — Impressed yet again with Kilchoman.  It’s obvious they know what they’re doing.  This whisky is peaty/smoky enough for the peat heads out there and complex enough for the whisky geeks and just perfect, if you ask me, for a summer’s day.

I find this Kilchoman to be bright and fresh and has a bit of a pick-me-up feel to it.  Highly recommended.


Kilchoman – The Band!

Initially, I thought the easy comparison to make with Kilchoman (as sort of the new kid on Islay) would be to make a comparison to a rock band that was comprised of youth.

Bands that come to mind:

  • Hanson (mmmbop, no)
  • Old Skull (I forgot how terrible this band was)
  • Justin B… I’m not even going to go there

Well, that didn’t work out so I decided to think of bands I love that have had hit after hit after hit (like Kilchoman has enjoyed with their whiskies).

I was happy to finally think of a band that had both youth, great music and hit after hit after hit…

Kilchoman – congrats!  You are the Jackson Five!  A truly incredible band and truly delicious whiskies.

Special thanks goes to JJY for getting me a bottle of this fancy sauce!

Islay distilleries explained thru Rock and Roll comparisons – Part 4 – Bowmore & my review of Dawn, their older Portwood bottling


Islay distilleries and their whiskies explained through Rock and Roll – Part IV (of VIII)

I started this series just four weeks ago and am just so pleased as to how well it’s being received.  Thank you all SO MUCH for tuning in (and commenting) to this series!

So, let’s tally up what’s happened so far.  Part one: Bruichladdich as The Sex Pistols, Part two: Ardbeg as Slayer, Part three: Caol Ila as The 80’s. (They get their very own decade!)

Today in part IV we will have a chance to discover Bowmore’s older “Dawn” bottling.

Whisky aficionado and co-author of the 6th edition of Michael Jackson’s Malt Whisky Companion, Bill Meyers, introduced me to this whisky not too long ago.  Thanks again, Bill!  It was one that wowed me at the time.  I liked it enough to seek out a bottle and below are my tasting notes.

My previous posts in this series started off with the whisky review first then the Rock band comparison just after.  I’ll run the entire series this way.  So’s you know…

Bowmore “Dawn” Portwood – 51.5% ABV – $|£ – ??

On the nose — Immediate blast of smoke upfront.  However, as quickly as it hits you, it’s overtaken…

While the smoke remains, it waits patiently in the background as red gem candies and grape soda take center stage.

Coming back — there’s an underlying dankness, or earthy quality, quite like a mix between potting soil and fresh lavender.  The lavender is actually massive here.

This whisky has a lovely sweet and floral nose that’s balanced quite well with the smoke and earthy tones.

On the mouth — Remember that grape soda I mentioned?  It’s here, it’s queer, get used to it!  Queer as in its flavor not being one you’d normally associate with a whisky; especially an Islay whisky.

That lavender is back as well.

The port casks make themselves known with touches of spice on the back of the tongue (plus more of that fresh potting soil – the taste of the smell of, that is).

Spider mums and other flower-like scents.  This is quite the feminine whisky.  Me likey.

Finish — Spicy (lightly so) and with red fruits and just a touch of smoke.

In sum —  Coming back to the nose after every sip and that (sweet) smoke returns in a very nice way.  This is a solid, solid whisky.  If you’ve stayed away from port casked whiskies in the past, this may be one to change your mind and one to search out (just save me a bottle or two…).  I think I’ve discovered why it’s called dawn — this would make a solid breakfast whisky!  Wake, pour, sip and invigorate.


Bowmore – The Band!

I’ll get this one out in the open — I LOVE 70’s and 80’s Bowmore.  90’s Bowmore makes me happy too.  The variations of Bowmore released in the 2000’s+ seem to be a bit all over the place for me – a bit of a moving target.

However there have been some *solid* winners in my eyes.  The Bowmore Tempest releases come directly to mind.  As do Bowmore Dawn (reviewed above), Mariner, 25yo… heck, I really enjoy Bowmore Legend.  One of the most uniquely delicious whiskies I’ve had in years was the 26yo single cask Bowmore put out by Master of Malt (so G-d darned brilliant a whisky!!).

There are also Bowmore whiskies that I find to be ok but not overly thrilling – Bowmore 12, 15 and 18yos come to mind.  Decent whiskies but they don’t excite me like other Bowmores do…

While I may not be overly thrilled with that portion of their current standard range, I have a feeling that the addition of Rachel Barrie to the Bowmore team will put a shine upon their whiskies like we’ve not seen in a few years.  Alongside Dr. Bill Lumsden, Rachel Barrie has done some solidly good things during her time at Glenmorangie and Ardbeg.  Rachel, I can’t wait to taste all of the good whiskies that will come from Bowmore under your watch!

So, who are you, Bowmore??

I am actually reminded of David Bowie when I think of Bowmore.  With his every changing styles/fashion and outfit coupled with a good mixture of some of the best Rock and Rock to come out in the 70/80’s (followed by some albums later in his career, during the 90’s and 2000’s, that were not up to par with the his earlier work but still pretty damn good).  Not only am I a fan of 70’s glam, I’m a total Bowie Junkie.

Like Bowie, Bowmore is some something that others strive to be like but just can’t match.  Are you Hunky Dory or just Aladdin Sane?

The GlenHatton v1.0 (my final post on this). My take on this blend plus the announcement of a whisky sample giveaway.

GlenHatton – glen · ha · tton\’(g)len · ha · tän\n\ A “luck of the draw, pour the dregs of a shit ton of whiskies into one bottle” whisk(e)y blend.

Last week, as you might have read right here and here, details of the GlenHatton were finally revealed.

As a quick reminder, I created a dregs bottle of whisk(e)y called The GlenHatton.  It is made up of the following whiskies (in no particular order or quantity):

After creating this dregs bottle I sent a message out to friends via the Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society Facebook page asking if anyone wants to get a taste of the stuff.  I had enough for 8 samples and got a taker for each one!  Based on the quick response and people’s seemingly burning desire to taste the stuff, I thought it’d make for a great series of posts!

Now it comes time for me to review the stuff.  We’ve already heard from David Blackmore, Jason Johnstone-Yellin, David Bailey, Blair Bowman as well as Ewan Morgan, Malt Impostor, Anne Benner and Richard Barr.

What do I think of the stuff?  Well, let’s see:

On the nose Smokey for sure but, not off the bat.  The smoke is waiting on the sidelines.

Fruity and floral (think pineapple, hibiscus and bananas of the bruised variety).

Very, very peppery – both black and white, like a nun in a habit (with a habit).

The fruits come back and smell juicy.

On the mouthPeppery attack followed by threads of smoke and creamed corn.

I think Jason nailed it with the cumin note.

Very honied and sticky sweet.

I like this – YAY GlenHatton!

Finish Peppery and smokey.

The fruits are gone now yet some honey remains.

In sum All in all, a happy accident.  No complaints here.  I do remember, at one point, that this stuff tasted awful (after I added in the four bourbons).  Once some of the peaty whiskies went in, it all turned around for the better.

When to enjoy this?  Well, I’ve got enough for one more sample to give away.  If you want, let me know and I’ll send you some.  First come first served.  You can email here:

Update – it took about 7 minutes but, the final sample of the GlenHatton has been claimed.  Congrats to Chris K of New Jersey!


As mentioned in the last GlenHatton post it was Jason Johnstone-Yellin who guessed the most numbers of whiskies in the GlenHatton.  That being said, he wins a free whisky sample.  So, what does Jason win?  A 5cl sample of some 18yo,  single cask,  Cask Strength Hanyu bottled by the Number One Drinks, Co.  This 18yo Hanyu was further matured in new Japanese oak.  It’s an odd duck but I’ll tells ya, it’s damn good stuff.  Congrats, Jason!


Thanks again to everyone who participated in this fun experiment.  Twas a blast!

The GlenHatton dregs blend, take one, pt. 2 of 2

GlenHatton – glen · ha · tton\’(g)len · ha · tän\n\ A “luck of the draw, pour the dregs of a shit ton of whiskies into one bottle” whisk(e)y blend.

Yesterday, as you might have read right here, details of the GlenHatton were finally revealed.

As a quick reminder, I created a dregs bottle of whisk(e)y called The GlenHatton.  It is made up of the following whiskies (in no particular order or quantity):

After creating this dregs bottle I sent a message out to friends via the Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society Facebook page asking if anyone wants to get a taste of the stuff.  I had enough for 8 samples and got a taker for each one!  Based on the quick response and people’s seemingly burning desire to taste the stuff, I thought it’d make for a great post!

What would people think of it and what did they think might be in it?  With the exception of the Malt Impostors, no one knew that the dregs sat in a Hibiki bottle.  And, with the exception of a few other things, none of which had to do with the make up of this whisky, this is all I told people about the whisk(e)y:

“Dear Guinea Pig, I mean, participant…

You are one of eight people to join the GlenHatton inner circle.  Congratulations.

It took me a long time but I finally filled (for the most part) a full bottle with the dregs of whiskies from many, many different samples & countries.  There are over 26 different whiskies in here from all over the world: Scotland, Japan, Sweden, USA & Taiwan!

I’d say more than 95% of this is malt whisky but there is some grain (in the form of bourbon & and grain content from a blend or two I dumped in there).

The rules:

Rule # 1 — There is no Fight Club

Rule # 2 — Enjoy.  It’s an odd duck.  I didn’t go about creating this dregs fluid in the attempt to design some master blend.  No, this is all random stuff.  Solid!

Rule # 3 — Aside from enjoying it, try to taste it as if you were reviewing it as best you can and PLEASE, write down your notes.  I’d love to get the standard Nose, Palate, Finish notes.

Additionally, when I do post this up, I will reveal the contents of this dregs sample.  Go ahead and try to take some guesses as to what you think may be in there (you don’t have to try and guess all 26+ whiskies).  The person (or people) who get more than 7 correct will get a surprise whisky sample.

Hmmm, 7 may be a high number.  Ok, the person who gets the most correct will get a surprise sample.  Sound cool?  Cool.

Thanks again for your participation!

All the best!  L’chayim/Slainte/Cheers/Kampai!”

So, who are the participants in this grand experiment and what did people think of the GlenHatton?  Well, here are the final 4 guest reviews (as a reminder, here is a link to yesterday’s reviews from the first 4 tasters):

Review #5

Ewan Morgan – Diageo Master of Whisky

Bio: Ewan is a third generation “whisky man.” In Scotland, Ewan spent his childhood living within the grounds of a large distillery. Both his father and grandfather worked their entire careers in the business before retiring as distillery manager and brewer, respectively. When he was of age, he inevitably began working there as a maltman himself.

Ewan was chosen to become a Master of Whisky due to his in-depth working knowledge of the industry as well as his extreme, unrelenting passion for whisky. He has traveled the world giving presentations and tastings to large audiences in Asia, Europe and North America. If you asked Ewan what he loves most about his job, he’d tell you, “there’s no other job like it, you get to travel, meet interesting people and have the opportunity to educate and enthuse about something that’s very close to your heart – that makes me a very lucky person indeed!”

Nose: floor polish, hubba bubba, sweet latex rubber, rhubarb compote, plumy, young green oaky vanilla, leather

Palate: cardamom, bitter crab apple, minty panacotta, fruity mid palate, burnt caramel and plum sauce, white pepper.

Finish: dry, short and sweet.

Caspar the whisky ghost.

Review #6

Malt Impostor(s)

Bio: Variously and unmentionably employed during the day, Bill, Stephen, and John are full-blown Malt Impostors by night.  From the bowels of their Malt Cave, the Impostors endeavor to drink out the words they feel certain are already there in the expression–it is an expression, after all.  They got their start making fun of some of the more pretentious tasting notes they saw out there on the web.  Now, The Malt Impostor has evolved into a site providing highly idiosyncratic tasting notes for your favorite malts–preferably in miniature form.

This dregs dram, a composite consisting of a plethora of whisky expressions, is the creation of a budding master blender, a crazy genius, or a truly lucky bastard.

On the nose, we found Hibiki flowers (perhaps because we knew it had been blended in a full-sized Hibiki 12 bottle–damn, the power of suggestion!), sherry, a hint of smoke, and light varnish on light wood—we were thinking a varnished sorority paddle.  Bill also thought he detected notes of a Dremel tool playing roto-rooter in a robot’s aluminum nostril.

On the mouth, if the core or center isn’t bourbon, at least one of the inner concentric rings must be.  It’s very smooth, but also electric on the tip of the tongue, like tiny catfish heads with barbs dipped in Hoisin sauce.

Overall, the GlenHatton sports a deep, rich mouth:  we thought we detected some Macallan in here, but also some Gran Marnier, though we split on where we think the latter actually showed up:  Bill’s vote was in the foreground, Stephen’s was in the background, and John’s was underground—a dissident Gran Marnier, if you will, moving fluidly amongst the occupying forces.  The finish boasts loads of pepper—think GMO scotch bonnets injected subcutaneously, thereby bypassing direct contact with nerve endings—along with cinnamon and hints of corn silk.  Add a little water, and the nose softens significantly, imagine that same sorority paddle making contact with a clothesline-dried cotton skirt on its way to making contact with its ultimate target.  With water, on the mouth, it’s also predictably watery-er, but it does little to undermine the cinnamon and lasting spice on the finish. Overall, this dram is incredibly complex, but also very tight:  there’s no clear single vector here, but rather a series of distinct vectors continuously turning in on themselves.  If M.C. Escher were to blend a whisky, this’d be it.

On the scale of notable amateur (or semi-amateur) efforts, the GlenHatton is The Malt Impostor—unexpectedly well-received by discerning experts and subtly (or not so subtly) self-promotional, this dram creates its own singular niche—and does so admirably.

Review #7

Anne Benner

Bio: My name is Anne Benner, I’m 27, from Lake Constance in the south of Germany and have been a student of English and Spanish linguistics and literature in Heidelberg, Germany for quite a while now, actually 🙂 I love listining to music, mainly indie and alternative stuff (The National is my current favourite) and, apart from that I love travelling. I lived in Argentina for half a year and also spent 9 months in Scotland, working as an assistant teacher. On my last trip to Scotland in September 2010, I fell in love with some of Islay’s whiskies which made me think of writing about whisky in my master thesis. I’m currently doing this and writing about „The Language of Whisky Tasting Notes“ in English linguistics. Hoping to finish it sometime soon since my backpack’s been feeling quite lonely for the last couple of month, longing for some new adventures…

Beautiful light golden colour. But don’t trust it. It’ll lure you into some fairytale, looking innocent and pretending to be the wonderful princess of the Light sitting on its unicorn and not giving away what it really contains. Nose it and taste it and it will tell you a completely different story of what is actually to be expected 🙂 Bring it on…

Taking a first nose you will get hints of wood and nuts, accompanied by whiffs of sherry (and/or sherry cork?) and a smokiness that starts faint but then hits your nose with hot and persistent whiffs of smoke. On the second nose there are notes of marzipan and even fruit cake that are then chased away by a more fierce pepperiness that makes you want to sneeze the hell out of you. After having let it breathe for some minutes it will become a lot sweeter, more sherry, lots of sherry, more sweetness, more berries and sweet wood. Not only hints of wood that float into your nose, no it’s more like a light wooden board shoved up your nasal cavity (in a very good and painless way). Nosing too intensely, however, will make your eyes well up with tears, perceiving hints of vanilla at the same time. But hey this is crying in a good way.

Chewing the first sip makes this odd duck jump around like Darkwing Duck on your tongue. Ouch! Tongue to brain: “…please let me roll over!” But then … then it becomes worth while savouring: Its body is quite oily and heavy but successfully heaves itself to bringing out the sherry and wood notes from before, now even more persistent. This is hot stuff and not for feeble taste buds. Makes your facial colour go rather reddish. After having let it breathe you get more of the woodiness, apples, green I think, and lots of fruity hints, berries and cherry even.

The finish lasts. And lasts. It is very dry… still dry… A bit bitter on the palate, but the bitterness  fades to the back parts of your tongue after some moments. It then disappears and leaves you with notes of sherry and wood, even mint. More dryness. Even a sip of water cannot downplay the dryness. Oral cavity’s de-numbing, notes of sherry and wood still on. And on. And on…

WOW! A real ferocious duck this is. Change of facial colour: check. Scared the hell out of tongue: check. Tears in your eyes: check. Even a sip of water cannot really smooth down this duck’s temper. Funniest whisky I have tried so far, extremely strong in alcohol (would be interesting to know how much it actually is) and one that hits you in the face. I have no idea what you put in this, but there is much wood and sherry. Too sweet to not have sherried whisky in it. Might be some port as well. A bit of peat smoke definitely brings in Islay but I might be wrong on this one. Its hotness reminded me a bit of the Tomatin range (especially the 12yr and 15yr) I tasted some time ago. Woody notes from some light oak I’d say but I think I haven’t tasted enough different whiskies to actually tell.

Review #8

Richard Barr

Bio: I am a member of Whisky Israel. Love Whisky with a passion.  Wish I could be paid to travel the world promoting a whisky brand as a global brand ambassador.

I want to Thank Joshua Hatton for sticking with me. He sent the sample not once but twice, allowing me to, at long last, try his “dregs bottling” I’m sure somebody in either the American or Israeli Postal System enjoyed the first sample as much as I enjoyed the 2nd one that ultimately arrived.

Glen Hatton Vol. 1

Color: Gold, pure gold.

Nose: It starts off with a bit of smoke & peat, moving on to crisp green apple. This is quickly overshadowed by the sublime smells of buttery, rich buttery, really rich buttery toffee. It’s the same rich buttery aroma I get when making the toffee sauce for sticky toffee pudding (that sauce contains butter, brown sugar, vanilla & cream) only with an extra helping of butter – yum! Powering through the rich buttery toffee, I catch red candy apple. You know the kind of red candy apples one buys at a county fair. Oh, did I mention the rich buttery toffee?

Palate: The Glen Hatton starts off slightly sweet on the palate and the BAM!, it snuck up & smacked me with pepper, first white pepper, then black pepper, and finishing up with green bell pepper.  Starting off just as the nose would suggest and then that surprise attack of spice.

Finish: Long, really long starting with a warmth in the chest and working its way up to the nose and remaining there ever so long. Tapering off to leave the smoke the whole show started with. That smoke lingers in an afterglow for a minute of two, reminding me of what just happened.

Overall: A wonderful dram for an experiment. This test subject was glad to be a part of it. I’d give it 88/100


Ewan – I love the pic of your handwritten tasting notes.  I’d hand write my notes but I don’t think I’d be able to read them back to myself.  Yeah, my penmanship is THAT bad.  Very cool style of notes/descriptors as well.  An interesting take on this experimental dregs bottle.  This is one of the things I love about whisky – everybody’s taste & smell receptors are different and we can all come away with something unique.

Stephen, John, Bill… You guys never cease to amaze me.  I find I have to read your notes over and over and over again just to make sure I’m understanding and taking it all in.  Like a good Umberto Eco book, or perhaps an onion, there are many layers to what you guys write.  Thank you for being you.

Anne – Nice highly details notes.  You really picked up on a lot of the other elements people got: Vanilla, apples, spiciness, etc…  That and you mentioned Darkwing Duck?!  Fabulous!

Richard – While I won’t be posting my notes until Monday, I will tell you that we found some similar notes in there: Toffee, vanilla, more toffee.  Your tasting notes were deliciously fun and told a damn good story.

So, if you’ve been keeping track, you’ll notice that it is Jason Johnstone-Yellin of who ended up getting the most number of correctly guessed whiskies (see yesterday’s post for Jason’s review of the GlenHatton).  Congrats Jason!

Be sure to check in on Monday as you’ll finally see my notes on this “masterpiece” as well as a reveal on what Jason’s winning sample will be!

Edradour 10yo – 1999 Sauternes finish bottled at 57.6% ABV

Highland Region – 57.6%ABV – £43 | €50

I’ve seen many bottlings of Edradour whisky on the shelves here in the US.  I’ve always liked the packaging and the fact that many of the bottles I saw were bottled at cask strength and seemed to be somewhat experimental in nature with many different types of wine and barrel finishes.

It wasn’t until my interview with Mr. Alan Shayne (President of the US chapter of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, SMWSA) that I really began to consider a bottle.  When Alan mentioned that one of his uncles was once an owner of the distillery, I instantly wanted to try some.

Being a lover of Sauternes finished whiskies, when Master of Malt offered me some free 3cl sized samples I chose this as one of them.  A big thanks goes out to Master of Malt for the sample!

Sadly, since writing up this post, MoM is out of the full bottles…

I expect this whisky to be delicious (Sauternes finish, cask strength… what’s not to love or look forward to?) Let’s see if this whisky lives up to my expectations:

On the nose Big warm, sauternesy nose loaded with apricot, walnuts, honey and white grapes.

So far so good.

Oranges, cloves and warm cream.

Fruity yet savory liquid hand soap.

A whisper of rosemary.

Toasty rye bread, dry.

On the mouth A very soapy entry.

After that, more of the same from the nose.

This is a good thing as the sauternes finish compliments this whisky very nicely.

Apricot jam and sour/sugared apple lollipops – very puckering.

Finish Shortish yet, warming, mouth watering and savory/sweet

In sum An instant favorite for me.  Of all the finishes for a whisky, sauternes is my favorite.  When done right, it puts me in heaven.  Save this whisky for some YOU time.