Tag Archives: Banana Peel

Glenmorangie 18yo – another whisky in the “let’s open this one, it’s time to celebrate!” column

Highlands region – 43% – $79 – $89 | £77 | €88

After tasting this whisky, for some reason or another (perhaps it’s because my brain works in movie clips) the scene below seemed to sum up my experience.  Invite me over for dinner and offer me some Glenmorangie 18yo and I might act just like Jack Black, Amy Poehler and their kids.

Perhaps you should read the review AND THEN watch the clip.  Enjoy:

On the nose  Lychee nuts and syrup – pretty amazing how dead-on the lychee notes are!

Lemon citrus nose with an oaky backbone.

Grapes skins and maybe a little chocolate sauce.

This is such a nice juicy nose – ripe peach just oozes out of my glass.

Very inviting and, for me, perhaps one of the nicer noses Glenmorangie has to offer in the standard line.

On the mouth Oak is more prominent in the taste as is some vanilla bean extract.

Banana skins and actual banana arrives and even a little honey and sugared white plums.

Some more citrus with a focus on the lemons (again) and a bit salty.

Some salted apples (salted apples sounds odd but the notes do hit me side by side) and now lovely butterscotch notes help in flavor and in creaminess.

Joshua is a happy boy right now.

Finish Fairly long and fruity.  Actually, really long… about 2 minutes later and I’m still experiencing some oak and butterscotch.  Maybe even some of the lychee I got on the nose.

In sum This really is one to celebrate with.  Very luxurious – you feel like you’re treating yourself to something with this here whisky.  Go ahead, have a baby; graduate college; get married then pour some Glenmorangie 18yo.

Special thanks to David Blackmore for the sample and Mazel Tov to you and your wife on the arrival of your first baby!!

Brora 30yr 2009 release

Highlands region (Brora is now mothballed, used as a visitors center for Clynelish) – 53.2%ABV – £245 – not available in the US – Master of Malt has it here.

Brora has quite a history and is a malt that is very sought after.  Serge Valentin (of Whiskyfun! fame), a true Brora devotee, wrote a great piece on the history of Brora here on Connosr.

Connosr, by the way, is a wonderful and vibrant whisky community.  If you’re not a part of it yet, sign up here.

It was based on Serge’s passionate recommendation that I looked further into Brora.  Thank you Serge!

Thanks to Master of Malt, I was able to choose this as a whisky blogger’s freebee from their Drinks by the Dram selection as long as I posted on it.  Thank you Master of Malt!

Ok, enough of the plugs, let’s get to work…

On the nose Light and soft, yet upfront with notes of peat smoke and a good deal of smoked salt.

Herbal tea – chamomile mostly.

Medicinal – almost reminds me of fresh band-aids.

The peat is ever present here and there’s a peppery prickliness to this.

Even under these peaty & medicine notes I can detect some fruits – banana (peel) & peach skins.

A good deal of vanilla that somehow went undetected until about a minute into nosing this.

On the mouth Creamy entry followed by fire – very hot stuff!

Hotter than I expected at 53.2%.

Let’s try this again and see if I need to add a wee bit of water…

Apples – fresh ones at that – and etrog (like a lemon, less intense yet much more fragrant).

Very waxy and still medicinal.

The herby/grassy quality I got on the nose carries through here.

“All-sorts” licorice candies.

Honey mustard.

Less smoky on the palate as compared to the nose.

Did I mention this is delicious?

Some dried fruits in there, mostly fig.

Finish Mint notes appear, some almond & a tad more licorice.


In sum My first Brora and, I’m in love.  The style of this whisky is quite unique.  I love the older, more elegant peat in this.  This is black tie whisky.  I’d love to pair this stuff with some nice chocolates.  A treat, through & through!

The Balvenie 12yr Signature – Batch 2

Speyside – 43%ABV – 750ml – $3655 (pretty big spread!) | £32 | €39

Balvenie week, day #3.

Today’s Balvenie is an interesting one.  Quite different from the others I’ve had.  When I first got into The Balvenie I reached for the 15yr Single Barrel (still my favorite Balvenie to date) then the 12yr DoubleWood, the 21yr PortWood then the 17yr Madeira Cask.

When I got my first bottle of the 12yr Signature, to be quite honest, I just did not appreciate it as I should have.  I was expecting something similar to their 12yr DoubleWood and it’s a very different whisky (if’n you ask me).  Now that I am able to sit down and actually review the stuff, I’ve got to say that I think my mind is changed on it.

Before we go to that, however, please sit back and enjoy the 3rd video in my exclusive Balvenie Employee’s favorites series.  Today I am featuring Stephen Archibald:

So, here are my official thoughts on this whisky:

On the nose Bright nose with scents that stick to your nose as if they had little bits of velcro on them:

Unripened apricots.

Banana peels and then some pears (again, unripened).

Vanilla and flan.

Lightly buttered cream of wheat (love it!).

Some fried pineapple too.

Appetizing, yes? Yes.

On the mouth Was hoping for a little more oomph on the palate here (maybe a higher ABV would have helped here?).

Not as upfront as I wound have expected after the nose.

However, it’s quite delicious.

A 2nd sip (with multiples chews) reveals hints of fresh brewed teas – actually, more like sun brewed tea.

Plastic shopping bags.

Mustard seed.

Then great orange blossom honey, nice.

Finish It’s all vanilla, honey and nuts.  Something I realized after the 3rd or 4th sip I was there’s a big, strong oak backbone.

In sum The balance with this whisky is very strong.  A solid whisky.  This is, to me, a nice aperitif type whisky.  Light and fruity – gets me hungry for dinner.  Enjoy in good company.

I’m not sure how long this deal will last but, Shopper’s Vineyard has this for only $36.99 a bottle.

Macallan 13yr Single Cask – Bottled for the SMWSA – Cask number 24.111

Speyside region – 59.7%ABV – 750ml bottle – Exclusive Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America

I am a proud new member of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America (from here on out to be referred to as SMWSA).  I’ve got a few friends who’ve been members for a while now and I was going back and forth; should I join? shouldn’t I join?, etc…

For those of you unfamiliar with the society, the SMWSA is the American arm of the parent society based in Leith, Scotland.  Every month they offer up new exclusive whiskies to their members.  Whiskies you can find NOWHERE else and they are all Single Cask, Cask Strength expressions.  Their whiskies come from over 125 different distilleries (Most are Scottish distilleries but they now include Japanese expressions such as Yamazaki, Nikka and Hakushu).

Back to my becoming a member — again, I was really hemming and hawing over whether or not to join the society.  YES I would have access to these great whiskies but hey, there’s a membership fee involved…  It wasn’t until I started talking to, and began reading reviews from, my fellow whisky blogger Jason of Guid Scotch Drink that I decided to bite the bullet and join.  This is perhaps the tastiest bullet I’ve ever bitten.

For information on the SMWSA including their current whiskies and how to join in on the fun, click here.  If you are outside of the US, click here for international branches.

The first bottle I got from the SMWSA was a 13yr Macallan which was matured in a first fill sherry butt (tee-hee… when will I get past the whole ‘laughing at the word “butt”‘ thing?  Never, me thinks).  This is high octane killer whisky!

On the nose A word to the wise: give this whisky some time to breathe.  It was bottled at 59.7%ABV so it’s… strong stuff.  It’ll trim your nose hairs if you let it.

After a good 10 minutes, this beauty (and, it IS a beauty) opens up like a lotus flower.  Indian food galore!  Mango chutney, heavy on the ginger.  A hint of green mint sauce with a nice amount of spice.

Then some nice balsamic vinaigrette notes with a side of green plastic toy soldiers.  Banana nut bread, banana peel.  Bananarama.

On the mouth Sour and spicy cabbage (think Kim Chee) and salted nut mix.

Tremendous mouth feel – chewy but, oh so drying and in a really good way (sherry wine tannins, hard at work).

Nutty goodness.

Finish Wow, all of those great nuts (think stale filbert minus the saltiness I detected earlier) and bananas keep coming back up; over and over, it’s near endless.

In sum Quite brilliant, really.  There is so much going on here to occupy my brain and senses but, at the same time, I could find myself easily sipping on this one without even thinking about it.  Scary that a whisky at 59.7% ABV could be an everyday drinker for me!  This whisky made the top place in the SMWSA’s “President’s Choice” list of the April outturn and I can see why.  Fabulous.

Field Trip to Tuthilltown Distillery plus two Hudson Whiskey tastings

Tuthilltown Distillery, Gardiner NY – Tour, store & tasting room

Tutilltown Distillery sits quite nicely in the woody woods in beautiful upstate New York.  Tuthilltown, makers of “Hudson Real American Whiskeys”, is a small place with a dirt driveway and parking lot, port-o-potty bathroom sitting outside the tasting room (quite far away mind you) and has two cats and a dog wandering the property.  Don’t let this description scare you away – pulling up, you sort of feel like your at a home away from home.  There’s an inviting feel to it somehow.

Then, as you walk into the store/tasting room, you get the sweet smell of maturing bourbon and a really, really nice view of their barrel stock:

After getting-a-lo to all of these beautiful barrels (most of which were quite small, some at only 3 gallons!) I met with a very nice woman by the name of Luz.  She’s in charge of the store and provided some great conversation as I waited for the tour guide to arrive.

When the guide was ready, Luz walked me over to the actual distilling building where I then met with a tall hipster-type dude by the name of Liam.  Before I go on, I will tell you that this is the first distillery tour I have ever been on and I did not know what to expect.  I can tell you, throughout the whole experienced I was a wide eyed boy in a candy store!  Actually, it felt more like I was Charlie visiting Wonka’s Chocolate Factory (sans the Oompa-Loopmas, Gene Wilder and Slugworth).

Liam took me through the entire distilling process, room through room (which is nearly the same for their bourbons, rye, single malt & vodkas).  I will not go into tremendous detail here but I will say what surprised me the most was how very hands-on the whole process is.  Liam (and the other distillers) have their fancy-fingers on everything and you can tell that it is a true labor of love for them and, as you’ll see in my tasting notes below, this love and care shines through to the end product.

I was quite wowed by their two stills (at least one of which was imported from Germany and was originally used for making Lambic beers).

Also, as you’ll notice below on their cute little 375ml bottles, they have a very thick coating of wax keeping the cork in place.  Before I got to the distillery, I pictured a long conveyor belt with robotic arms grabbing bottles, 8 at a time, robotically corking and dipping the bottles to then place on another conveyor belt to bring the hot-waxy bottles to a cooling area, etc…

Instead, this is what I saw:

All four bottles are placed, by hand, onto the dipping posts (I totally made up that term, dipping posts – Tuthilltown folks, feel free to used that nomenclature for this dipping apparatus) then dipped, again by hand, into the wax.  The bottles are then labeled (you guessed, by hand – using a hand-cranked labeler).

Liam – thank you for your tour!  Very informative, very cool.

Ok, onto my tasting during the tour:

I met with a guy, I’m guessing about my age, by the name of Gable.  His father is one of the fine, smart, folks who opened this distillery.  Which, by the way, is the first legally operated distillery in New York State since Prohibition!!  Also, their bourbon is the first bourbon to *ever* be produced legally in New York State.  Like I said, smart folks – very innovative!

Gable is one of these super-charming and disarming type guys.  A charismatic dude who knows his business quite well.  Gable went on to provide a tasting of their current line (at least the ones they could legally taste/sell in their tasting room/store):  Hudson New York Corn Whiskey, Hudson Baby Bourbon, Hudson Four Grain Bourbon, Hudson Manhattan Rye, Heart of the Hudson Apple Vodka (twice distilled), Spirit of the Hudson Apple Vodka (thrice distilled).

Their Vodkas, by the way, are Kosher for Passover as they are distilled from apples, not grain — Cheers on that!!

While I wont be giving notes on all the spirits tasted, I can provide notes for the two bourbons I went home with (what, you thought I could leave empty handed??  I had to buy me some booze!).

Before I go on with the notes allow me to say that these whiskeys only come in 375ml bottles and cost $41 per bottle.  This being said, the fluid contained within the bottles are worth their weight in whiskey!  This is hand-crafted artisan American Whiskey.  Quite unique and very special stuff.

Hudson Four Grain Bourbon

On the nose One thing I truly love about the Tuthilltown/Hudson Whiskeys is that the smells and tastes are very direct.  When I say I smell “Corn”, it’s like it’s fresh off the cob.  Just under the corn is the very clear smell of fresh dirt/earth (as if someone was holding a handful directly under my nose).  I’m also smelling burnt sugar and honeysuckle, blueberry (very subtle, the only subtle smell here) and vanilla.  Gobs of vanilla.

On the mouth Oh sweet fancy Moses!  The flavors basically started a mosh-pit in my mouth (it’s like there’s a Dead Kennedys show, circa 1984, right on my tongue). The attack is great, fierce yet quite welcome.  This is a strong, burly bourbon which is filled with a mouth puckering sweetness a la sweet corn, cinnamon, Orange Tang Powder, the taste of the smell of clove cigarettes, oak and quite some vanilla again.

Finish Long, peppery and biting.  I want more (why do these only come in 375ml bottles!?).  More corn.  Candied corn (NOT Candy-Corn if you catch my meaning) actually; that and some nice citrus, then finally more fresh dirt/earth.

Hudson Baby Bourbon

On the nose Movie popcorn with butter, vanilla & burnt sugar (again), no fresh earth smell here, rather, it’s replaced by a slightly soap citrus notes, Red Wax Lips.

On the mouth Fresh & warmed buttered corn on the cob.  Again, Tuthilltown delivers with their very direct flavors – yum!  I feel like I am on a picnic right now.  Banana peel & vanilla cream, the citrus returns.

Finish During my tasting with Gable I noticed an odd note in the palate of their Manhattan Rye expression.  A note that I detected in the finish of this Baby Bourbon – Jujubes!

Specifically the orange ones before Heide Candies changed their recipe (back in the late 90’s early 2000’s) – quite soapy and very orangey.

Love it!!  That’s the final note on the finish.  Before I got that I noted some warming caramel, vanilla and oak.

In sum This was a great introduction to the whole process.  While I spent the last three years educating myself in the tasting of whisk(e)y, I just now got a nice crash-course in the whisk(e)y creation process.  One I will never forget.  If I were you, I would seek out Tuthilltown’s Hudson Whiskeys.  A true American Treat.

If you ever find yourself in New York State, seek this distillery out .  They provide tours on weekends and their store is open from 11am – 5pm.  For more information on Tuthilltown and their whiskeys, check it here.