Tag Archives: White Pepper

Tasting three Glenglassaughs – 28yo, 36yo and 37yo single cask, cask strength whiskies

There are many whisky writers/bloggers and statisticians that will tell you that we are in a golden age of whisky.  Sales of the Scotch whisky have soared in 2011 over 2010.  Micro-distilleries are popping up all over the place in the US.  Sales of both Irish and Canadian whiskies are growing by leaps and bounds AND more and more countries are starting to distill and sell their whiskies worldwide (France, Taiwan, Sweden, New Zealand, South Africa… just to name a few).

If you’re a whisky geek/anorak like me, then perhaps you’re equally excited about another aspect of whisky growth – specifically in Scotch Whisky – and that is the reopening of previously closed or “moth-balled” distilleries.  I am, of course, referring to Glenglassaugh today.

Mothballed in 1983, Glenglassaugh was reopened in 2008 and is about to launch their first Whisky expression later this year.  It’s a NAS (no age statement), yet 3yo, whisky simply called “Revival”.  (a review of that is forthcoming)

Three years ago when Stuart Nickerson bought the distillery, along with the facility, equipment, buildings, warehouse buildings, etc… he got just over 400 casks of whisky as part of the deal.  Think about it, just over 400 casks of whisky.  Compare that to some of the larger warehouses that have up to 80,000 casks… only 400 casks?!  Talk about hens teeth!!   And all of those cask are holding older whiskies (doing the math — moth-balled in 1983 and there’s nothing younger than 28/29 years old in that older stock).

Today we’re reviewing some of that old juice  With such limited stock and all of it being “older” stuff, you can imagine that it’s going to be quite pricey.  We’ve got a 28yo, 36yo and a 37yo – all are single cask, cask strength bottlings.  Let’s see what we get from them:

Glenglassaugh 28 year old “Master Distiller’s Select 1983 Sherrywood” – 49.8%ABV£180

On the nose –  A bit shy on the nose.  I’m going to give this one a little time to open up.  Maybe swirl it around in the glass a bit…

Lightly sweet and a bit peppery and even a tad herbaceous.  This is now opening right for me. That pepper is really coming through and there’s a very jam like quality to the nose (red fruits?).

Added to that are notes I usually associate with Japanese whiskies (mizunara oak and a high sweet note) like green tea (sweetened, however) and pipe tobacco.  Sweet tobacco leaves – fresh.

Some late autumn apples and soft notes of smoke in the background.

On the mouth – Oily and mouth coating.  Warm and melty – reminds me of salted caramels.  Very chewy stuff.

Baked apple is here too (macintosh).

Plastic cafeteria trays and freshly opened CD cases – picking that a part a bit and it’s a flavor that matches the smell of fresh paper and hard plastic (I do like the smell of fresh, new paper).

Imitation chocolate (slight and somewhat spicy like a chocolate Necco wafer).    Also, and I don’t know how I did not find it from the get-go, black grapes.

Finish – Medium long with notes of… taking that back, long!!  The flavors burst back with notes of oak and vanilla and spice.

In sum – Take time with this one.  If I just jumped into it I would have been a bit let down.  Some patience let this one open up in a very nice way.  This is 28 years old so, give it time.  Show it some respect and you’ll be rewarded.  Take a big breath.  Let the crap of the day roll over you.  Pour some of this.  Take another breath and start to enjoy.


“Aged of 30 years”, 36 year old – 43%ABV (spending 34yrs in a refill hogshead then 2 years in an ex-Sauternes barrique) £400.

On the nose –  Savory and comforting with loads of marzipan, flaky pie crust and even butternut squash soup.

Autumn leaves both burnt and freshly fallen.

I’m also picking up notes of Naugahyde (pleather) and water balloons.

Menthol too?  There’s some serious notes of 1974.

I’m now getting notes of baked potato, white pepper and chives – This is a very “foodie” whisky.

On the mouth – A bit watery on the attack (sort of like one of those water balloons I detected popped).

Soft in the mouth and less watery on the second sip – spicy too.

Sweet spiced chocolate covered marzipan (almond paste).

Rhubarb pie (minus the strawberries) – sweet and buttery.

Finish – Short finish yet drying.

In sum – No doubt about it – an absolute killer nose.  A joy to jam my sniffer in the glass.  The attack and over all experience on the palate seemed a bit restrained though, at 43%, it is at natural cask strength.  This would be a good one to to enjoy on a cool fall night by the fire with some John Fahey playing in the background.  I’m still thinking about the nose of this whisky.  Stunning.


Glenglassaugh “Master Distiller’s Select” 37 year old, Sherry Cask – 56%ABV (exclusive to the North American Market)$599

On the nose –  Aggressive (well, it IS 56% ABV).  Hot, hot tea with a side of biscuit and Seville orange marmalade (course cut).

Balsamic vinegar reduction and a used bookstore.

Some nice bourbon qualities come through – vanilla, pencil shavings (I know I use this note a lot but it’s the first that comes to my mind).

A bit hot on the nose but not overly so.  Just enough to notice (similar to the slight burn I get when nosing Knob Creek 9yo which is bottled at 50%ABV).

On the mouth – Amazing mouthfeel – oily and warm but the flavor is like licking some of those used books I smelled earlier.

Sort of heavenly for me!!  Used book is in my top 5 for favorite scents.

There are other flavors in here to be discovered, however.

Big, bold and spicy, this whisky seems to demand your attention.  A bit winey/tannic and oaky yet still vibrant and engaging with a bit of effervescent zing on the back of the tongue.

Finish – Medium in length, drying in effect and winey and spicy in flavor.

In sum – A massive whisky.  Perhaps my favorite of the three on the whole.  This hits all of my high points and I would love to sip on this then next chance I get.  That being said, I’m currently taking donations.  No amount is too small.  Thanks 🙂

Special thanks goes out to RR for the samples!

Jason over at guidscotchdrink.com also had the 36 & 37 yos and seemed to enjoy them as well.

A couple of SMWS single cask bottlings (and they could not be more opposite from one another)

Back in March I had the good opportunity to attend the Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza in NYC.  You might remember that post.  If not, here it is.  It was a fantastic event and I plan on attending two of the Fall Events: one in Boston, one in Chicago.  Details on the Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza Fall schedule to follow in the coming months.

The good folks at the SMWSA were kind enough to give me some samples of the whiskies they were pouring at the NYC event for review.  So, before I get to the actual reviews, I’ve got to say thank you to Aron S for the samples!

Today I’m reviewing sherried Laphroaig peat monster and a light little ditty from Rosebank.  Why am I reviewing two completely different whiskies in the same post?  Well, it is MY blog after all.  “I do what I want!”

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, on to the review…

SMWS 29.88 – Laphroaig – Ex-Sherry 9yo 60.9% ABV

On the nose It’s very easy to get caught up in the soot and ashes that are all over this nose…

However, getting past that, I found some great bread pudding notes.

After that it’s gets very sea-like…

with loads of fresh caught fish.

Nori wrapped brisket and olive brine.

Rusty pipe water.

On the mouth Rusted iron frying pans soaking in a low-tide pool of sea water which is filled with flint stones and dying crabs, cracked shells and all.

I like this… sort of.

Honied ham sandwich slices and old brown lemons.

It all sound a bit too odd but, in context, it quite nice.

Chicoried coffee (like Luizzianne).

Salted caramels and chocolate covered toffee.

Finish Full of coffee, chocolate and overcooked prunes.

A tad nutty as well.

All in all, it’s got a decent length.

In sum Very much a whisky for specific moods.  I liken this one to a drink one should drink when they’re ‘pissed the *BLEEP* off’.  (to use the parlance of our times…).  A really, really odd duck but one that I imagine you’d like if you’re a fan of the Ardbeg Uggy.  Very complex and crazy stuff.

SMWS 25.55 – Rosebank – Ex-Bourbon 19yo 60.8% ABV

On the nose A lightly fruited nose (think pear & pineapple) with hints of herbal teas.

White pepper and even some notes of sweet hay.

Milk chocolate and a touch of light caramel (nice notes I often find in Rosebanks).

Back to the fruits now (the same as before).

What amazes me is how easily, at 60.8%ABV, this one can be nosed.

You’d think this is a low ABV whisky.

Rose pedals and sugared & honeyed chamomile.

On the mouth– Bright, effervescent and loaded with lemon fizz candies, over-sugared apple sauce.

Lemon, lemon, lemon, lemon, lemons.

Did I mention lemons?

How about… Lemons?

Oh, wait….Lemons?

More white pepper and now some white bread toast.

Finish Juicyfruit gum (like, dead on!), more white pepper and sugarcane.

Lasting peppery finish.

In sum A very one sided whisky but one that is so easily consumed.  Perfect as an aperitif, a mid day pick-me-up or a late summer relaxer.

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!

Loch Chaim Aberlour 16yo Single Cask

Speyside region – 43%ABV – $65

It’s been a while since I’ve done a kosher certified whisky and being that the one year anniversary of the Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society blog is getting ever nearer (it’s tomorrow, by the way), I thought it was about time I review another whisky that’s targeted toward the Jewish consumer.

The Loch Chaim line of single cask whiskies has so far proven itself to be a line that’s good for Jew and Gentile alike.

So, what make this kosher?  Well, put simply, whisky is kosher by nature as long at it’s matured in anything other than an ex-sherry/wine/port/madeira cask.  All whiskies in the Loch Chaim line are matured in barrels which previously held bourbon.  Bourbon, by US law, needs to be matured in new charred oak barrels; therefore, there is no sherry/wine/port/madeira influence on the whisky whatsoever.

If you want to know more about the ins-and-outs of why a whisky can be considered kosher or not kosher – you can read this great article by Alan L.

Click here to see all of the Loch Chaim whiskies I’ve reviewed

On the nose Scented candle shop filled with Christmas wreaths and holly berry scented candles.

Yeah right, like you see a lot of Jewish Latke scented candles at those shops…

A bag of assorted Halloween candies (or Purim candies I suppose).

Soy sauce and some potted house flowers (big begonias).

On the mouth Very similar to the nose and a thick mouth feel to boot!

Beyond what’s listed in the Nose section is an interesting note of fresh vidallia onion.

White pepper and a bit of bay leaf (like a nice autumn stew).

Increasingly peppery.

Hints of black licorice.

Finish Ends on a big red peppery note, perhaps a little bit of 9-volt bite.

In sum Fresh and light like an early summer’s day however very much an Autumn malt.  I liked this.  I think Aberlour shines with their sherried product but take the name Aberlour out of the picture and this is a solid dram.

Arran Port Cask – bottled at 50% ABV

Islands region – 50%ABV – £38 | €45

I’ve got to hand it to the folks at Arran Malt Distillery – every single one of their single malt whiskies are bottled at a minimum of 46% ABV and are non-chill filtered.

“What does that mean?” you might ask?  Well, I’ll tell you.  Or, should I say, I’ll give you my opinion on the matter:

At 46% ABV, I feel I’m given the freedom to drink the stuff straight or add a wee bit of water, just incase it’s too hot.  At 46%, some of the added dimension to the whisky imparted by the alcohol remains.

With the whisky not being chill filtered, there are a lot of great fatty acids that stay in the whisky which help it retain it’s maximum flavor.

As an example of chill filtering verses non-chill filtering, you can check out my review of The Balvenie 21yr Portwood here where I compare the two different versions.

OK, going to go right into this one here…  Another special cask finish by Arran – a bit of a strange one but hey, I like strange.

On the nose Spicy nose with initial hits of spiced shittake mushroom.

Unripened bananas.

Cinnamon applesauce, perhaps with some raspberry mixed in.

Traces of green apple-y new make spirit.

White pepper.

Smoked salt on watermelon (my wife introduced me to this delicious treat – try it sometime – delicious!  The woman shown is NOT my wife, by the by).

On the mouth Fresh grapes and fizzy grape soda, Welch’s style.

A dry cool night filled with fallen leaves.

Salty on the mouth with added notes of starfruit.

Some soured milk/baby sick… an interesting group of flavors.

Finish A tad garlicy with some hot pepper.  Good length.

In sum Light yet warming – the autumnal note in the tasting of this hit it on the head.  A warmer-upper of a whisky.  It’s youth is apparent but this is not a fault.  I enjoyed the brightness.  An extra year or two in a bourbon cask may have helped to balance this whisky out a bit but, if it were in your house house and you offered me some of this whisky; I’d not say no.  I may jump at the chance to sip more.  Fun stuff.

Special thanks goes out to Andy Hogan for the sample!