Posts tagged ‘Blended Malt’

Phil’s Favorite Blended Scotches

Of all the genres of whisky in the world, by far the most famous and most recognizable on a global scale is blended Scotches. For many years, iconic brands like Dewar’s, Grant’s, and Johnnie Walker have ruled Scotch sales. In my sophomoric years as an avid whisky drinker, I must confess that I looked down upon blended Scotch whiskies, thinking that there was no way they could provide the same amount of enjoyment as single malts. But, I have come to learn with time that I was just a petulant youngster. Even though blends are immensely popular, it does not mean that there are not some brilliant blends out there. For the purposes of this list, blended malt Scotches are included as well. Here are the nominees for my favorite blended/blended malt Scotches.

Name: Compass Box Great King Street
Style: Blend
Age: No Age Statement
Proof: 86 (43% abv)
Price: $45-50/750ml
Notes: This is the flagship whisky from Compass Box, one of the fastest growing blended whisky-makers in Scotland. It is a viscous, oily presentation of whisky, with rich flavors of vanilla, potpourri, and toasted bread. There are some gentle hints of freshly cut peat and sawdust that set the whisky out to be a fantastic dram. Although this is a little harder to find and a little pricier than many other flagship blends, it is well worth it. This is one tasty whisky.

Name: Compass Box “The Peat Monster”
Style: Blended Malt
Age: No Age Statement
Proof: 92 (46% abv)
Price: $50-60/750ml
Notes: This whisky belies its name somewhat, in that it is not at all a monster of peat. Of course there is peat involved, but it is a balanced whisky with oak, vanilla, and salted caramels to balance out the medicinal, peaty, and smoky notes. There is no question that this a whisky for peat-lovers, but its balanced and refined, a trait that I suspect comes from using peated whiskies from all over Scotland, not just from Islay. This whisky is readily available in most liquor stores. Definitely worth the try if you enjoy peated malt whisky.

Name: Compass Box “The Spice Tree”
Style: Blended Malt
Age: No Age Statement
Proof: 92 (46% abv)
Price: $50-60/750ml
Notes: The edition of this whisky I am referring to is the resurrected edition currently on shelves, not the original Spice Tree that created a stir with the SWSA. This whisky is mostly comprised of Highland malt whiskies that are blended together and finished in custom-made barrels comprised of both French and American oak. The result is a unique whisky with spiced and herbal notes, with soft rolling smoke and caramelized peppers. Like “The Peat Monster,” this whisky is readily available and a great addition to any Scotch-lovers cabinet.

Name: Famous Grouse 18 Year-Old
Style: Blended Malt
Age: 18 Years
Proof: 86 (43% abv)
Price: $70-80/750ml
Notes: This blended malt whisky is comprised primarily of Speyside and Highland whiskies aged in ex-Sherry butts. This elicits brilliant dessert whisky flavors of spiced tea cake, sherry, warm buttered bread, and toasted pecans. There is some nice ginger spice notes to balance the whisky out and add complexity. Tragically, this whisky was discontinued a few years ago, most likely because of dwindling stocks. However, if you are able to find a second-hand bottle at a price you can afford, this seductive whisky is worth the buy.

Name: Johnnie Walker Platinum Label
Style: Blend
Age: 18 Years
Proof: 80 (40% abv)
Price: $100-125/750ml
Notes: This recent addition to the Johnnie Walker lineup really got my attention the first time I tried it, and recent drams have proved worthy as well. This aged blend delivers great balance with notes of toffee, hazelnuts, and peaches-in-cream. All these flavors are wrapped up in a wonderful wafting of gentle smoke that coats the whisky from start to finish. In my opinion, this is the best assembly of whiskies in the Johnnie Walker lineup. It is available in most higher end liquor stores, although it does come at a cost…

Compass Box Peat Monster Scotch Review

monsters-inc

Not all monsters are scary, especially not peat monsters.

Before winter is up here in the Mid-Atlantic, I’m going to talk about a little whisky from my favorite style to sip on in the wintertime – Peated Scotch.  Thus my review today of one of my favorite blended malts, Compass Box Peat Monster.  Peat Monster is a blended malt Scotch, meaning that it is comprised of only single malt whiskies, as opposed to most blended Scotch whiskies which are comprised of both malt whisky and grain whisky.  Despite its name, Peat Monster is hardly a peat-bomb.  It is comprised of peated whiskies, some heavily peated and some lightly peated, from all over Scotland, not just Islay.  It is non-chill filtered, naturally colored, and bottled at 92 proof (46% abv).

The nose is absolutely brilliant on this whisky, with a good ashy, Caol Ila peat coming together with full, fresh oak, salty sea spray, and big vanilla.  There is a nutty, earthy peat going through the nose, too.  It just leaps out of the glass and has great balance between the peat and sweet.  Unfortunately, I don’t think the palate holds up to the nose.  The palate is medium-bodied with medicinal, rubbery peat, a bit of smoke, and some spicy sandalwood. Those sweet notes from the nose don’t quite follow all the way through to the palate in the full force they possessed at the outset.  The finish is medium-long, elegantly peaty with twinges of vanilla.

If you are looking for a warming whisky to sip by the fire, but one with great balance between smoky and sweet, then look no further.  It is all too often that single malt drinkers are afraid to spend money on a blend thinking they will be sacrificing quality because of the input of multiple distilleries.  Compass Box makes a host of whiskies that prove this is not the case, and Peat Monster is very much in that realm.  My grade: B+.  Price: $50-60/750ml.  At its price point, Peat Monster competes very well with other smoky base malts, like Laphroaig and Ardbeg, and the juice in the bottle stands right there as well.

Comparison Review: Monkey Shoulder vs. Sheep Dip Blended Malt Scotches

Well, it has been a good long while since we’ve had a comparison review here at Bargain Bourbon, so today’s review is aimed at remedied that minor oversight.  Today, I am reviewing two blended malt Scotch whiskies – Monkey Shoulder and Sheep Dip.  Since I have not yet discussed blended malts on the blog, perhaps a brief word.  Simply, blended malts are Scotches that are derived from single malt whiskies from two or more different distilleries.  Blended malts differ from blended Scotches in that blended malts only contain single malt whiskies in their components, and blended Scotches may contain both single malts and other grain whiskies.

The two particular blends in question today are both blended malts – Monkey Shoulder and Sheep Dip.  Monkey Shoulder is a blended malt from William Grant & Sons, and the three distilleries that contribute to this whisky are all owned by Grant as well.  Single malt Scotch from The Balvenie, Glenfiddich, and Kininvie all find their way into Monkey Shoulder to make a fine Speyside blended malt.  Monkey Shoulder is bottled at 86 proof (43% abv) and this particular batch is Batch 27.  If you are wondering about the name, Monkey Shoulder is a slang term for the soreness in the shoulder that occurs when a malt man has been turning the germinating barley for a long period of time.

Sheep Dip is a blended malt made from 16 different single malts from all over Scotland, with the famed Richard Paterson as the head blender on the project.  Sheep Dip proudly proclaims that of the different Scotch regions have been included in the whisky.  Sheep Dip is bottled at 80 proof (40% abv).  As far as the name on this one, “Sheep Dip” was often how whisky makers would label their products to avoid their stock being confiscated by the authorities back in the days when such things were a more common occurrence.

Now, onto the tasting…

I assume he enjoys a fine dram from time to time...

I assume he enjoys a fine dram from time to time…

On the nose, Monkey Shoulder is floral and sweet, with honey, vanilla, and some rich orchard fruits.  This is a classic, bourbon-aged Speyside nose.  The palate is wonderfully creamy, with orchard fruits, berries, peaches, apples, and rich honey.  The finish is relatively short with oak, vanilla cream, and drying perfume notes.  My grade: B.  Price: $35-40/750ml.  Overall, this is a very good introduction to what an ex-bourbon cask might do to Speyside spirits, and it is priced perfectly.

For Sheep Dip, the arrival is a bit heavier.  The nose is a funky, sherried nose, reminiscent of Edradour.  It is sweet and nutty, with notes of pralines and candied pecans.  The palate is earthier, with those pralines there, along with dates, molasses, brown sugar, and wet moss.  The finish is sweet, dry, and very short.  My grade:  C+.  Price:  $35-40/750ml.  Overall, this is in a nice price point just like the Monkey Shoulder, but the flavors seem disjointed in Sheep Dip, like there are too many chefs in the kitchen.

Something tells me these sheep got into the Sheep Dip...

Something tells me these sheep got into the Sheep Dip…

On the whole, I do like Monkey Shoulder better, but the greater point I want to make with this post is that blended malt Scotches are great alternatives to buying single malts.  Blended malts are often high quality whiskies with great taste profiles.  If you want to introduce someone to Scotch, save the money on a single malt, but give yourself a cleaner palate and a softer alternative to the blended Scotch route.  As always, let me know what you think, and let it ride!