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Archive for the ‘Scotch Whisky’ Category

#13 Bruichladdich 1989 Black Art – 1st Edition (Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 12, 2015

The Bruichladdich (Pronunciation = Brook Laddie) Distillery was built in 1881 on Hebridean Isle, in what is now known as the Islay region of Scotland. It was one of many distilleries, which despite its long history and tradition of whisky making, was closed in 1994 due to industry consolidation. The distillery no longer produced whisky, but the existing stocks left inside continued to age. The good news is that on 19th December, 2000, the distillery was purchased by a small band of investors. It was renovated and reopened, and on May 21, 2001 the distillery once again began to distill whisky.

This small band of investors then proceeded to turn the Scottish whisky world upside down. They blended and bottled their whisky in small artisan production runs using a multitude of unique finishing casks. Borrowing ideas from their own past experiences, they brought to market a variety of one of a kind whiskies, the like of which the Scottish Whisky World had never seen before.

Bruichladdich 1989 Black Art SAM_1877The Bruichladdich 1989 Black Art is just such a bottling. Master Blender, Jim McEwan, used 1989 Vintage whisky stocks and a secret combination of wine finishing casks to create this unusual Vintage Single Malt Whisky. Although I have tried to find out which types of wine casks were used to finish this whisky, my research was to no avail. Apparently, Mr McEwan didn’t allow anybody to see. All we know is what is written on the bottle …

Here is a link to the original review of the #13 Spirit in my Rum Howler 2015 Top 100 Spirits Countdown:

#13 – Bruichladdich 1989 Black Art (1st Edition)

“… These flavours practically leap into the mouth out of the whisky. Wine filled cherries and grapes take the lead pushed forward by a firm smoke, filled with raisins,  prunes and dried apricots. I taste baked apples with spices of cinnamon and sweetened with brown sugar. Within this array of flavour the whisky carries a mild seawater brine with traces of iodine …”

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

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#23 Highland Park 12 Year Old Scotch Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 2, 2015

The 12 Year Old Highland Park Whisky is the core expression of Highland Park Distillery, that is to say, it is their flagship brand. Highland Park prides itself in not making any compromises when making whisky. The twelve-year expression is the youngest in their impressive lineup. All of Highland Park whiskies are matured in Spanish and American Oak in warehouses with earthen floors and stone walls. The combination of different oak provides some of the whisky with an American whiskey enhancement and some of the whisky with a Spanish sherry enhancement. The whisky is matured in a cool consistent climate, and blended to create the unique Highland Park taste and character that the distillery is famous for.

Highland Park 12Of particular note is the heather rich meadows which provide a rich floral backdrop around the aging warehouses which seems to impart its character to the whisky as well. I note the floral character in the review.

Here is a link to the review of the #23 spirit on my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown of the best spirits I have ever tasted.

#23 – Highland Park 12 Year Old Scotch Whisky

“… I smell that boggy muddy creek bottom in the glass when I fill it with Highland Park whisky. It is not an intense boggy smell, just a whisper of that muddy creek and sawgrass meadow rising from the glass. I smell the willow thicket, and a faint floral scent which I am told is heather. This is the aroma of the Orcadian peat of which Highland Park is famous for …”

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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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#26 The Macallan Fine Oak 15 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 29, 2015

The Macallan Fine Oak Series is a series of single malt Scotch whiskies, produced at The Macallan Distillery at Craigellachie in the Speyside region of Scotland which are matured in seasoned American oak casks, (sherry as well as bourbon), as well as sherry casks from Jerez Spain. The Fine Oak Series has drawn rave reviews some quarters (Jim Murray for example awarded it “Best New Scotch Brand” when it was launched), and dramatic criticism from others who considered the American barrels inferior to the Sherry oak casks from Spain due to the lighter flavour profile of the American Bourbon Cask.

The Macallan 15 Fine Oak SAM_1741I find myself siding with Jim Murray as I find the lighter influence of the American oak barrel allows the whisky to express more fully the subtle nuances of oak and whisky flavours which can be drowned out by the strong sherry influence of a first fill Sherry barrel. Unfortunately for myself, The Macallan Fine Oak series has been discontinued in Canada, although it is my understanding that this series is still available south of the border in the USA.

Here is a link to the review of the #26 spirit on my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown of the best spirits I have ever tasted.

#26 – The Macallan Fine Oak 15 Year Old

“… my nose is greeted by a soft honeycomb/butterscotch, a firm little dollop of vanilla and firm oak spices. A light sherry smoke is in the air carrying wisps of dry fruit (prunes and raisins) and a smidgen of treacle.  As you allow the glass to decant, a demerara sweetness  becomes evident as does a wonderful floral meadowland with saw grass, timothy and wild flowers presenting themselves to the delight of the nostrils …”

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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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# 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

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#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

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#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!)

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#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

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#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

 
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