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Archive for the ‘Scotch Whisky’ Category

# 32 Highland Park 25 Year Old Single Malt Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 23, 2015

The Highland Park Distillery is located in the Highlands of Scotland on the Island of Orkney which is famous for its heather rich meadows and its unique organic Orcadian peat. At this distillery, all of the Highland Park Whisky is matured in two styles of oak barrels which are stored in warehouses with earthen floors and stone walls. Some of the whisky is matured in Spanish (Sherry) oak, and some of the whisky is matured in American (Bourbon) oak. Maturing the whisky in two different styles of oak allows the blender to capture characteristics of each in the final blend.

HP 25The Highland Park 25 Year Old Whisky is blended with up to 50 per cent of  its whisky coming from the matured (1st refill) Spanish oak, and it is bottled at 48.1 per cent alcohol by volume. This is a full 20 % higher than the 40 per cent bottling strength we typically see in North America. The combination of the higher bottling strength and a larger portion of Spanish oak whisky in the blend will bring forward a stronger more assertive aroma and flavour than the other whiskies in the Highland Park portfolio, and may even make the whisky a little intimidating at first tasting.

Here is a link to the review of the #32 spirit on my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown of the best spirits I have ever tasted.

#32 – Highland Park 25 Year Old Single Malt Whisky

“… caramelized butterscotch toffee, sweeter underlying sugars, and a floral peat rich with heather, citrus, damp spruce moss, and humus. As more of the scents separated in the air I was reminded of mildly boggy saw-grass growing in a damp lowland meadow below a field of ripe alfalfa and timothy growing in the early fall just before cutting. (This place I am describing is a real memory from my childhood days on the farm. The Highland Park Whiskies always seem to evoke these early memories from my youth …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

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#39 Glenfarclas 30 Year Old Highland Single Malt Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 16, 2015

All of the Glenfarclas whisky is matured in two styles of oak barrels, plain oak barrels which have previously contained Bourbon or Scotch Whisky, and Spanish oak which has previously contained Oloroso or Fino Sherry from Seville. The barrels are stored in traditional ‘dunnage’ warehouses which date from the late 1800s. The Glenfarclas 30 Year Old Highland Single Malt Whisky which is the subject of this review has been bottled at 43 % and is produced from both first fill sherry casks and refill bourbon casks.

Glenfarclas 30 Year OldMy review of the Glenfarclas 30 Year Old was facilitated by Pacific Wine & Spirits Inc who provided a sample for me to assess, and who kindly invited me to several tasting events hosted by George Grant, the Sales Director for the Glenfarclas Distillery where I was able to sample the entire core range of Glenfarclas Whisky in side by side comparisons. Mr. Grant is part of the 6th generation of the Grant Family who originally purchased the distillery in 1865. His family still controls and manages the distillery today.

Here is a link to the review of the #4o spirit on my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown.

#39: Glenfarclas 30 Year Old Highland Single Malt Whisky

“… This whisky is rich and luxurious on the nose. Chocolate, coffee, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cardamom and wonderful oak spices all rise up in a veritable bouquet for the nostrils. The whisky show its age in the glass but it also shows its character with a complex oakiness which is almost perfectly melded into the 30-year-old sherried whisky …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

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#44 Johnnie Walker Black Label

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 11, 2015

The Johnnie Walker Brand of whisky is one of the most iconic brands in all of the world. With its unique square bottle, and the labels tilted a 24 degrees off-center, the company has created a strong brand image and is considered by many to be the quintessential Scottish whisky. The company was born in about 1820, and has grown steadily to become one of the most important Scottish whisky brands in the world today.

Johnny Walker Black SAM_1726The Black Label is a blended Scotch Whisky, which is composed of up to 40 malted and grain whiskies. The origins of the blend can be traced back to 1867, when Alexander Walker copyrighted and began to bottle Old Highland Whisky. In 1909 the name of the blend was changed to Johnnie Walker Black Label in reference to the color of the label which had become the generic means of identifying the blend amongst the Johnnie Walker customers.

At the time of my review (in 2010), all of the whiskies in the Black Label blend were aged at least 12 years, which gave this whisky a deeper character and smoothness than one normally associates with blended whiskies.

Here is a link to the review of the #44 spirit on my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown.

#44 – Johnnie Walker Black Label

“… The aroma which rises from the glass is steeped in complexity. Initially, I smell a nice cherry soaked butterscotch which seems to have a hint of green apple rising out of the glass with it. As I allow the glass to decant, the aroma deepens with accents of dried fruits and a rather floral smoke.  At the very bottom lies a well of boggy peat …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

Posted in Awards, Extras, Scotch Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off on #44 Johnnie Walker Black Label

#66 Johnnie Walker Gold Label – The Centenary Blend

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 20, 2015

The original blend for Johnnie Walker Gold Label was created in 1920 by Sir Alexander Walker to commemorate the Johnnie Walker Company’s 100 years in business dating back to 1820. This is of course how this particular blend of Johnnie Walker received its name.  Although discontinued during the war due to shortage of blending stocks, the label was reintroduced in 1992, with a blend based upon the original blending notes left by Sir Alexander seventy-five years earlier.

Johnny Walker Gold 18 SAM_1880The Centenary Blend (now replaced by the younger Gold Label Reserve) was reputed to contain 15 separate single malt whiskies each aged a minimum of 18 years. Of these single malts four in particular have been noted as being key to the distinctive taste of Johnnie Walker Gold: Talisker generates the general character of the blend; Clynish generates the brine and seaside ambiance; Royal Lochnagar imparts the luxurious palate; and Cardhu lingers in the throat and provides the finish. I have read some claims that grain whiskies are in the blend as well, but whether that is true I have no confirmation. Grain Whiskies if present would certainly add vibrancy and character to the overall blend as well.

Here is a link to the review of the #66 spirit in my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown.

#66 – Johnnie Walker Gold Label – The Centenary Blend

“… At first all I tasted was that tried and true Johnnie Walker taste profile. Organic peat, hints of iodine, and lots of toffee.  But this is much smoother and creamier than the typical Johnnie Walker.  As I let the drink sit on my palate, flavours of  honey, mild citrus and cherry took form.  A sherry influence is present; it is not heavy, rather it seemed to provide a soft counter punch to the peat …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

Posted in Awards, Extras, Scotch Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on #66 Johnnie Walker Gold Label – The Centenary Blend

#74 Old Parr Superior Scotch

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 12, 2015

When whisky writer Jim Murray published his fourth Whisky Bible for the year 2007, he pretty much shocked the whisky world with his selection for 2007 World Whisky of the Year. His choice, Old Parr Superior 18 Year Old Whisky.  This choice rocked the whisky paradigm of connoisseurs and aficionados worldwide. You see Old Parr Superior Whisky, is not a much heralded single malt; in fact it isn’t even a single malt. Old Parr Whisky is a blend!

Old Parr Superior SAM_1889I credit Jim Murray for not only recognizing that blends by their very nature have a capacity to be the superior whisky product, but actually saying it in 2007. The reason blends have the capacity to be superior is simple;  the Master Blender and distillers have so many more choices to work with. Give any craftsmen more choices and they will have the capacity to do better. With Old Parr Superior Whiskey we have the result of just such blending and distilling freedom. A truly great whisky, one of the very best blended Scotch Whiskies I have tasted.

Here is a link to my review of the #74 entry in my 2015 Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown.

#74 – Old Parr Superior Scotch

“… The wave hits all at once, and I had to let the glencairn glass sit for a moment before I could begin to decipher individuality amongst the myriad of  sensations striking my nostrils.  Trails of smokey peat rising from the glass seem to carry sawgrass, lavender, and marshland willow to my nose.  Sweeter vanilla, and unripened fruit lie in between the smokey trails and the entire process of smelling the glass is heavenly …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

(Happy Thanksgiving Canada!)

Posted in Awards, Extras, Scotch Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off on #74 Old Parr Superior Scotch

#80 The Macallan Fine Oak 17 Year Old Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 6, 2015

The Macallan Fine Oak Series was a range of single malt Scotch whiskies, produced at The Macallan Distillery at Craigellachie in the Speyside region of Scotland. These whiskies were matured in seasoned American oak casks, (sherry as well as bourbon), as well as seasoned sherry casks from Spain. Recently The Macallan Fine Oak Series was discontinued in Canada and replaced by a new line of Single Malt Whisky which they call, The Macallan 1824 Series.

The Macallum 17However, according to Canadian Brand Ambassador, Dan Volway, the 1824 Series does not (at this time anyway) signal the end of age statements on The Macallan Single Malt Whiskies. The Fine Oak Cask and Sherry Oak Cask Single Malt series will each continue to carry age statements in the selected markets where they remain available (the USA and certain overseas markets).

Here is a link to my review of the #80 entry in my 2015 Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown.

#80 – The Macallan Fine Oak 17 Year Old Whisky

“… I taste light butterscotch leading out in front; but, it is quickly smothered by sharper oak spices. As the mouth becomes heated with oak tannin, that penetrating sweetness which was present on the nose begins to assert itself beside the sharper oak acting to temper the heat and give the whisky a pleasant marshmallow and citrus appeal. (I cannot help but think of marshmallows as I sip on the whisky, as the flavour I encounter seems to have that similar intensity of sweetness.) …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

Posted in Awards, Extras, Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on #80 The Macallan Fine Oak 17 Year Old Whisky

#82 Glenglassaugh 26 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 4, 2015

Glenglassaugh Distillery is located just outside of the Speyside Whisky Region in Northeast Scotland. It is near the town of Portsoy, Banffshire about 50 miles from Aberdeen. The distillery was established in 1875 by Col. James Moir who managed the business  (with his two nephews) until 1892, when Highland Distillers stepped in and acquired the facility. The distillery remained in production until 1986 when, due to industry consolidation, it was mothballed.

In 2008, the distillery and the Glenglassaugh brand was purchased by the Scaent Group with the intention of rebooting the facility to take advantage of the surge in interest in whisky word-wide. Part of the marketing strategy was to release some existing warehouse stocks as vintage whisky bottlings, as within the facility were barrels of whisky which had sat in limbo quietly aging since 1986. Five years later, in 2013, due in no small part to the success of the vintage bottlings, (as well as the new whisky being produced) the BenRiach Distillery Company took over the Distillery bringing in new investment capital and corporate management to ensure the growth of the rebooted Glenglassaugh brand.

Glenglassaugh 26 SAM_1599Glenglassaugh 26 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky is one of the iconic vintage bottlings which was produced from spirit which had been distilled in 1984, and then had sat silently in a mixture of various oak barrels including both American Oak and ex sherry barrels. This whisky was bottled at 46% alcohol by volume (abv) sometime in 2010 and limited to a small production of 1002 bottles.

Here is a link to my review of the #82 Spirit in my Rum Howler 2015 Top 100 Spirits Countdown:

#82 – Glenglassaugh 26 Year Old

“… The initial aroma is full of oaky smells along with candied toffee and fruity sherry-like aromas. As I let the glass sit there continued to be a lot of oak and cedar in the breezes; however these wood spice and woody sap-like smells seemed to be well melded into the sweet toffee and the dark fruit which gave the nose good balance. There are hints of willow and heather in the breezes and perhaps just a touch of spearmint and orange zest as well …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

Posted in Awards, Extras, Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on #82 Glenglassaugh 26 Year Old

# 85 anCnoc 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 1, 2015

Inver House Distillers own five Scottish distilleries, Pulteney, Balblair, Knockdhu, Speyburn, and Balmenach. The company produces a diverse portfolio of brands which includes not only Scotch Whisky (Single Malt, Blended Malt, and Blended), but also Vodka, Gin, liqueurs, and premixes. The subject of this review, the anCnoc 12 Year is a Single Malt Whisky produced at the Knockdhu Distillery (which is located under the dark ‘Knock Hill’, known to the local villagers by its Gaelic name of ‘Cnoc Dubh’). Production of anCnoc began at the Distillery in 1894 following the discovery of several springs of clear water on the southern slopes of the aforementioned Knock Hill.

anCnoc 12 YearanCnoc whisky is produced on the distillery’s original style copper pot stills, and it has been produced that way for over 100 years. The resulting whisky is aged in American oak and Spanish oak barrels (which were previously used to age either bourbon or sherry). These casks are stored in dunnage warehouses where the thick granite walls ensure a stable ambient temperature which results in a consistent (or predictable) aging regimen.

Here is a link to my review of the #85 Spirit in my Rum Howler 2015 Top 100 Spirits Countdown:

#85 – anCnoc 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky

“… Smells of sweet lowland grasses, willow thicket, and almost ripe barley are I guess, as good of a place to begin as any other. Wondering in and out of the breezes above the glass are scents of fresh honey, tart green apples, and lemongrass as well. Finally, the glass has a bit of an herbal flair with heather, wetland ferns and a touches of lowland peat residing in those breezes too. Rounding things off are dabbles of butterscotch and vanilla, and the overall effect is very nice …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

Posted in Awards, Extras, Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

# 87 Glenmorangie Original 10 Year Old Single Malt

Posted by Arctic Wolf on September 29, 2015

I mentioned earlier in this Top 100 Spirits countdown that Glenmorangie was amongst the first major Scottish distillers (1960s) to use ex bourbon barrels rather than Spanish oak (sherry casks) to age their whisky. This helped to change the taste profile of Scottish Whisky in a significant manner, and today ex bourbon barrels are use extensively alongside ex sherry casks in many Scottish distilleries. Later, in 1996, Glenmorangie introduced their wood finish range which began the distillery’s experimentation with a range of new wood finishes like port wood casks and wine barriques. Again, the industry followed suit, and now wine finishes are used by many distilleries. Glenmorangie can claim credit for helping to extend the range of the Scottish whisky taste profile.

Glen Morangie Orginal SAM_1711The Glenmorangie Original 10 Year Old Single Malt is the original bourbon finished Glenmorangie Single Malt which serves as the cornerstone of the entire Glenmorangie line-up. The previously highlighted Glenmorangie, The Quinta Ruban would first have been distilled and aged in the same manner as this Original, before receiving its exotic wood finish. Interestingly enough, for my palate, the ‘unfinished’ 10 Year Old Single Malt is in fact superior not only to the Quinta Ruban, but also to the other ‘finished’ Glenmorangie expressions I have tasted. Sometimes, less is more.

Here is a link to my review of the #87 Spirit in my Rum Howler 2015 Top 100 Spirits Countdown:

#87 – Glenmorangie, The Original 10 Year Old

“… The nose is strikingly delicate with light herbal tinges that seem to dance in the breezes. My imagination is stirred by thoughts of waving barley fields below a floral alpine meadow. Rising into the air is a gentle vanilla and fading tones of bourbon which seem to give the whisky a mouth-watering appeal …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

Posted in Awards, Extras, Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

# 88 The Balvenie 12 Year Old Single Barrel

Posted by Arctic Wolf on September 28, 2015

The Balvenie Distillery is located at Dufftown which is of course, pretty much situated in the heart of the Speyside region of Scotland. This is a Single Malt Distillery; but one which holds the distinction of being the only such distillery where every part of the process of making whisky takes place right at the distillery. The distillery grows and malts its own barley (about 10 % of its total requirement); it has its own cooperage; and it has its own copper-smith. Owned by William Grant and Sons, the distillery is one of the top 10 producers (by volume) of Scottish Single Malt Whisky.

Balvenie 12 SAM_1113The Balvenie 12 Year Old Single Barrel is one of the company’s most recent offerings to arrive in Canada, and it replaces The Balvenie 15 Year Old Single Barrel whose stocks have been dwindling such that this expression is now quite hard to find (at least where I live). The 12 Year Old (like the 15 Year Old before it) is a true Single Barrel Whisky as each bottle is drawn from a single first-fill Bourbon cask selected by The Balvenie Malt Master, David Stewart. These casks were chosen to represent a consistent Balvenie character; however, each barrel will have its own unique character, and therefore each bottling from each unique barrel will be slightly different from each other. (And yes, this whisky spent its entire 12 year aging life in one single first-fill barrel.)

Here is a link to my review of the #88 Spirit in my Rum Howler 2015 Top 100 Spirits Countdown:

#88 – The Balvenie 12 Year Old Single Barrel

“… The breezes above the glass indicate that the whisky has a firm oak character as those breezes are filled with a firm presence of clean oak spice. This woody spiciness is accented (quite nicely) with vanilla, sawgrass and almond scents. As the glass breathes, the whisky breezes become more complex bringing forward additional hints of butterscotch, honey and some sweet beer-like malt …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

Posted in Awards, Extras, Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on # 88 The Balvenie 12 Year Old Single Barrel

 
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