Tag Archives: Butter

Glenrothes 1998 vintage

Speyside region – 43%ABV – $50

Whisky hand grenades.  More often than not, if The Glenrothes is brought up in a whisky conversation (whisky comes up in conversation a few times per day, every single day of my life.  I love it!), the shape of the bottle comes up.  Thankfully, for the sake of the whisky, the topic does then change over to the actual whisky itself.

In many conversations, however, the topic switches once again from how the whisky tastes to how the whisky is bottled (this topic is not exclusive to The Glenrothes in anyway).  More to the point, the lower ABV of 43% and the fact that the whisky is chill-filtered.  Many whisky geeks I talk to are at a point where they will simply stay away from a whisky unless it’s bottled at, at least, 46% ABV (when bottled at 46% ABV, chill-filtering is not “required”).  Put another way, bottled at 46%, the whisky will not cloud up if an ice cube is dropped in or if cold water is added to the whisky.

The good folks at Whisky For Everyone (who, by the way, are also members of the Whisky Round Table) have a great article on chill filtration.  It’s short and a must read (if you ask me).

So, being bottled at 43% ABV and being chill-filtered, what do we get?

On the nose  Hey, I like this!  Very rich and thick nose and even a bit nutty.

Hints of Amontillado sherry and all of the fun things that come with it – dried fruits, lemon and honey all encapsulated in a buttery flakey crust.

Baked apples and some of what I consider to be classically Glenrothes, damp wood.

On the mouth Both watery and thick/rich at the same time (I know that doesn’t make too much sense but there is a mix of feels).

The front and sides of my mouth seem to not be affected by the fluid but the top and back of my tongue tingle with cherry, pineapple and a touch of citrus.

More apples, chalk and wood dust.

Complex?  Not very.  Tasty?  Yes.  Easy drinking?  Scarily so…

Finish –  Over all drying and laced with vanilla.

In sum A solid whisky that I’d be happy to pour on (m)any occasion(s).  Round and rich, sweet yet dry.  It’s not mind-blowing but it’s well balanced and seemingly bottled at a nice ABV (43%).  I’d love to taste this at a higher ABV but not sure we need to mess with this one.  I wonder, however, if a non-chill filtered version of this (a version that retained all of the fatty acids and esters) might have made for a more complex whisky… the world may never know.

Special thanks goes out to Danielle K for the sample!

Balvenie 25yo Single Cask bottled at 46.9%ABV

Speyside – 46.9%ABV – 750ml – $404 (wowza! This was originally about £100/$200 when it was first released 5 years ago)

It’s not secret that I’m a fan of The Balvenie.  I’ll be headed there as part of the JSMWS tour this month and have been counting down the days until my arrival there.  I was hoping to meet up with Mr. Sam Simmons while I’m out there but sadly, we’ll be missing one another.

In case you missed my video series on The Balvenie (special thanks goes out, once again to Sam on that one), you can check them out here.

The Balvenie has always nailed it with the 15yo single cask series, let’s see what another 10 years and an added $350 dollars does for this whisky…

On the nose Lemony goodness right up front.

Indian cooking spices; turmeric and a breath of cumin.

This is a nice bourbon fresh nose.  Oaky, honey, tangerines.  Fresh cotton.  Pineapple and mangoes.  Ripe banana.  Banana peel. I’m almost getting some blue raspberry in there.   This list goes on and on…

Pears, bruised macintosh apples.

This is all rounded out by what seems to be lightly salted peanuts (the smell, not the taste).

On the mouth– Hot and clean (an oxymoron in the adult film community).

Malty.  Tannic.  Limes.

So far, I enjoyed the nose much more…  Let’s take a break, maybe add a bit of water…

Water calms this one down quite a bit.

Cooked sugar and orange butter.  Malty.  Insanely clean and fresh.

Dried apricots.  Toasted coconut.  Creme brulee.

Finish Hot, long finish filled with banana, honey and a touch of apple.

In sum Oh, you tease!  The nose was brilliant.  I can not stress that enough.  The flavor of the whisky was a bit too shy but water woke her up just enough to make it all worth while.  While normally I prefer a higher ABV, I think this one benefited with the addition of water.  This is a watch-your-kids-play-in-the-sandbox-on-a-cool-summer’s-day type of dram.  I’m not sure I know what that means but perhaps it’s the mix of parental pride and relaxation.

Special thanks goes out to Sam Simmons for the sample (sorry it took me so damn long to post on this one!!)

Two Laphroaigs, both independently bottled. One from Royal Mile Whiskies the other from Signatory.

This is going to be a sort of cut-to-the-chase review.

More whisky, less preamble.

I’ve got a trip to Scotland to in a few days, lots to review and little time for posting more than notes.

So, two Laphroaigs, both independently bottled. One bottled by Royal Mile Whiskies, one by Signatory.  A death match to the finish (pun intended).

Laphroaig RMW 10yo 56.8% (this bottle is no longer available)

On the nose Smoky and abrasive yet fruity… sort of like a fruit orchard on fire.

Lemon custard pie with a side of honeycomb cereal.

Very aggressive nose – at 56.8% I’d expect so but… it seems somehow moreish in the hot-alcohol-on-the-nose department.

Pears, cinnamon and pepper; in that order.

Lastly, some notes of tinned pineapple… Tin and all.

On the mouth– 

Not as smoky as the nose lead on.

Fresh oats and other cereals. Very malty.

Creamy attack loaded with lemons and salted, honey and butter slathered toast.

Finish nice even, drying finish. Like licking a dry Popsicle stick or tongue depressors.

In Sum A nice well balanced Laphroaig. Well chosen you choosers of cask! I could easily pour this on a warm summer night or a cold winter day. Sounds odd but very doable!  Actually, I’d love to taste this as beer before it becomes spirit.  I imagine it’s delicious.

Laphroaig 8yo Signatory 46% $53

On the nose very similar, if you ask me, to the RMW version except softer (a result of the lower ABV?).

Here’s an unusual one: blueberry bramble.

Rubber gloves and other things that start with the prefix “Poly”.

On the mouth A watered down version of the first Laphroaig.

Much sweeter, however, and less malty than the first one.

Finish Not a dry as the previous Laphroaig and that’s too bad.

In Sum Something tells me that this would be really nice as a cask strength Whisky.  I might have enjoyed it more if I went for this before the RMW Laphroaig. Note to self, when reviewing two whiskies side by side and one of them is cask strength and the other not… Start with the lower octane one…  That is all.

Special thanks goes out to David H for the samples!

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 guidscotchdrink.com 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!

Bruichladdich Octomore 2.1

Islay region — 62.50%ABV – $130 | £97 | €112

There’s a lot to be said about this whisky but much of it is going to come out from the whisky itself.

What I can tell you before we get into the actual review of it is that it’s a big furry bear of a whisky; chock full of a lot more than I expected (to be very honest with you).

When this whisky first came out I was a bit skeptical.  I thought that Bruichladdich’s coming out with the biggest, peatiest whisky on the market was nothing more than a “who’s got the biggest whisky schvanse” marketing ploy and nothing more.  I think I was wrong.  Dead wrong.

I think I’m going to skip to the chase here on this whisky…

On the nose Nice and fruity – pears, rhubarb, licorice, soured and sweetened milk (again, baby vomit – it must be a young Bruichladdich thing), lemony, white lithium grease, oh yeah, some peaty smokiness…

For having a peat level of 10 trillion parts per million (OK, it’s really 140ppm), it’s not the burning cauldron of brimstone I expected.

A bit young and fiery, filled with salt and spit (like a young Ricky Hatton, if he were a whisky) – with water the menthol kicks in as does an immense brush fire.

Reminds me of the time when I was 8 years old and burned down my local woods while playing with matches.  Light a match, blow it out.  Light a match, blow it out.  Look down and, wham-o, my shoes are on fire!  I ran away intact.  I wish I could say the same for the woods…

On the mouth Wham, bam thank you ma’am!

I just got bitch slapped by this ‘laddich!

The ABV is making its presence known…  Hot!

However, the mouth feel is great, oily, chewy… nice, nice, nice.

Buttery biscuits, ashes, licorice, more ashes.

With water: it just got that much chewier and now creamy;

with water, this is a true treat.

Apples arrive and so does caramel (fantastic combination).

Delicious, chewlicious, peatlicious.

Finish On and on, creamy, peaty and fruity…

In sumI love it when I’m proved wrong.  This is a great whisky that has MUCH more to offer that peat & smoke.  A lovely stunner with the sweet, sour, fruits, smoke, chewiness, etc…  Especially given the price, this is one to treat yourself with (preferably during the winter time).

A big thanks goes out to Gal of Whisky Israel for this sample.  Gal did a side by side (or head to head, however you want to look at it) of the Octomore 2.1 & 2.2 – click here for his good thoughts on these Octomores.