Posts tagged ‘sherry’

Tullamore Dew 12 Year Irish Whiskey Review

I do not know what the weather has been like this spring in your neck of the woods, but here in the mid-Atlantic, its been somewhat Irish.  Windy, rainy, cold, with just enough sun thrown in to keep the grass on the golf courses green.  So, today I am reviewing a lovely Irish whiskey – Tullamore DEW 12 year-old “Special Reserve.”

The Tullamore 12-year is a blended Irish whiskey aged in both bourbon casks and Oloroso Sherry casks, a classic double-matured style Irish dram.  It is distilled at Midleton, the famed Cork distillery.  This expression was originally a travel retail exclusive, but has now been released as part of the standard Tullamore Dew range.  It is bottled at 80 proof (40% abv).

The color has a orange-ish tint to it, a beautiful color in the glass.  The nose presents apples, white zinfandel, caramel, dried pineapple, and salted walnuts.  The palate is silky smooth, with dry sherry, green apples, milk chocolate, dried plums, and some bitter white chocolate.  The finish is medium and drying with pineapple, sawdust, and dry white port notes.

On the whole, this is exactly what one would expect from a blended Irish whiskey with a substantial amount of Oloroso influence.  It presents a simple, approachable mouthfeel with balanced sweet flavors alternating from both bourbon oak and sherry oak.  My grade: B+/B.  Price: $45-50/750ml.  If you like Irish whiskey, this will be a whiskey worth trying for you, especially if you are interested in trying Irish whiskey with some different aging techniques from standard Irish blends.

The Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso Matured Single Malt Scotch Review

2016 Gary Anderson WDC

Congratulations to Scotsman Gary Anderson on defending his World Darts Championship Title to kick off 2016! Have a glass, Gary!

Happy New Year, everybody!  My first review of 2016 is a bit of a follow up to my final review of 2015.  In my last review, I mentioned that I have not yet found a better Aberlour than the A’Bunadh, but it is a bit out of my price range and hard to find here in Pennsylvania.  But, what if I found a cask strength, Oloroso-matured single malt that could operate as a substitute?  So, without further ado, here is my review of some Oloroso-matured whisky from The Glenlivet.

Traditionally, the Nàdurra lineup has been comprised of cask strength whiskies matured in (often first-fill, but occasionally refill) bourbon casks.  However, The Glenlivet has recently different takes on their Nàdurra lineup over the last few years, and I am reviewing one such batch today.  This review is of batch OL0614 (the final four digits are the bottling month/year), which is aged entirely in Oloroso casks and bottled without chill filtration.  There is no age statement on this whisky, and comes in at a lovely 121.4 proof (60.7% abv).

This is a rich, amber mahogany.  The nose smells of Oloroso sherry, with macerated grapes, blackberry jam, and a slight hint of ginger and allspice.  On the whole, it is a sweet, pleasing nose.  The palate is medium-bodied, perhaps a little lighter on the entry than I was expecting.  There are notes of sweet sherry, gingerbread, and drying oak present.  It is a pleasing palate, although not an especially complex one.  The finish is long and warming, with a wonderful puff of spiced pecans, along with sherry, mahogany, and gingerbread cookies.  Water brings out a more intense sherried nose, and a more jammy, sticky palate.  The finish doesn’t quite have the potency it does at cask strength, though.

Overall, this is a nice, simple sherried single malt. It doesn’t have the depth, complexity, or intensity of some other sherried whiskies, but it is a great inculcation of the style.  To be honest, there is just something missing here; I can’t put my finger on it, but this whisky just does not whisk me away to a magical land.  It is good, for sure, but it does not live up to the Aberlour A’Bunadh for me.  That said, if you’re looking for an introduction to a cask strength, sherried whisky, this is a very good start.  My grade: B+/B.  Price: $60-70/750ml.  For a whisky at this strength, this is a good value buy to keep around your cabinet this winter.

Filibuster Triple Cask Bourbon Review

Today, I am reviewing a limited release from the D.C.-based company, Filibuster. Filibuster is mostly known for their “Dual Cask” series, which features a bourbon and a rye, both of which involved sourced whiskey finished in French Oak ex-wine casks (neither of which have I tried). However, Filibuster recently released Batch 1 of their limited release, “Triple Cask.”

Like the “Dual Cask” series, the “Triple Cask” is a sourced bourbon from an unnamed distillery and finished in our nation’s capital by Filibuster. The “triple cask” moniker refers to the Sherry casks (both Fino and Pedro Ximenez) that finish this bourbon. The sourced bourbon is about 5 years old, which puts the finished product at about 6-7 years, but there is no age statement on the bottle. Filibuster Triple Cask is a limited release bourbon, only being produced in small batches. It is bottled at cask strength, and Batch 1 clocks in at 117.47 proof (58.74% abv). Many thanks to my good friend, Bryan, for the sample on this one!

Let me just say at the outset, I have not yet tasted a whiskey that has evolved in the bottle quite like this one. When we first cracked this bottle, it was rough. The nose smelled mostly of charred rubber and sweaty leather shoes. The sherry influence came through a bit on the palate, but in funky, sulfuric manner. All throughout, the whiskey had a very harsh edge to it, almost in the vein of rubbing alcohol. The finish was long with burnt corn and wet moss notes. When we first opened this bottle, it was hard to drink.

However, after letting this bottle sit for about three weeks, with about one-fifth of the bottle consumed, it opened up quite a bit. Upon a re-taste, the nose was much more pleasant, with candied ginger, tar, burning wood, and some rubber notes. The palate still presented a type of funky sherry (reminiscent of Edradour), but also some macerated grapes and toasted coconut flavors. The finish was pleasant (the best part of this bourbon), presenting notes of sherry, mahogany, caramel, and butterscotch.

Overall, this whiskey was almost night and day. If I would not have gone back and re-tasted this whiskey, I would have given it a “D.” On the other hand, this whiskey would have gotten a “B-” from me if I had just sampled it halfway through the bottle, which is why I have decided to meet Filibuster Triple Cask somewhere in the middle. There are some very good finished bourbons on the market today (see Angel’s Envy), but I don’t think this belongs in that same category. My grade: C. Price: $60-70/750ml. For the price point, I’d be inclined to leave this one on the shelf unless you are extremely curious about a Sherry-finished bourbon.

Redbreast 12 Year Cask Strength Irish Whiskey Review

In my protest against the debauchery of St. Patrick’s Day, I waited until after March 17th had passed to review one of my favorite Irish drams – the Redbreast 12 year-old, bottled at its full cask strength.  I reviewed the standard Redbreast 12 year last year, and was left wanting more.  Having tried a few different batches of the Redbreast at its cask strength, I am quite satisfied.  This inculcation of the Redbreast’s single pot still whiskey is aged exclusively in ex-Sherry casks, and is non-chill filtered.  This particular review is of Batch B1/12, which comes in at 117.2 proof (58.6% abv).

On the nose, this whiskey is dense with barley, banana peels, dark chocolate, wood sealant, lemon-lime soda, fresh red apples, and some old driftwood.  The nose is a unique, funky blend of spirit and cask, only hinting at its lifetime in ex-Sherry wood.  The palate reveals the sherried character a little more.  It is an oily and full-bodied palate, with notes of red apples, Amontillado and Fino sherry, dark chocolate, white chocolate, raisins, and dried blackberries.  The finish is long and warming, with a wonderful combination of sherried character, mocha, vanilla, strawberry, and a soft, oaky woodiness.

Overall, this is a deep and powerful dram that opens up beautifully with a drop or two of water.  Not all Irish whiskey is soft and smooth; this one opens up with both barrels, and does not give up easy.  It is also delicious and intriguing from start to finish.  If sherry-aged Scotch is your thing, give the Redbreast Cask Strength a try, and let it ride.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.  My grade: A-.  Price: $60-70/750ml.  With this only being about $15 more than the standard Redbreast, I’ll go for this one every day of the week.

Aberlour A’Bunadh Scotch Review

Aberlour is one of my favorite distilleries in the Speyside region of Scotland because of their reasonably priced single malts and the sherried character of their finished spirit, and I thought it high time to review one of their fine whiskies.  The A’Bunadh (meaning “of the origin” in Gaelic) is an expression that Aberlour launched in 2000 to much critical acclaim.  A’Bunadh is produced in small batches, so it does vary from batch to batch, but there are all matured in ex-Oloroso sherry casks and bottled at cask strength without chill-filtration or coloring.  A’Bunadh never carries an age statement, which allows Aberlour to blend whiskies from all ages to get the deep myriad of sherried flavors found in A’Bunadh.  I have had several batches of this whisky (and they are all very good), but this specific review is of Batch 45, weighing in at a hefty 120.4 proof (60.2% abv).

The A’Bunadh is a dark, ruby hue (almost the color of Bargain Bourbon’s background) coming exclusively from the years in the European oak.  On the nose, the A’Bunadh is dark and spicy, with notes of dates, figs, wet oak, apples, and a bit of smoke.  The palate is really where this whisky takes off, though.  The palate is full-bodied with a lot of dense, deep, dark sweetness.  I taste dark chocolate, marzipan, pecans, mocha, sherry, plantains, and some citrus peels.  The finish is long, dry, and warming, with flavors of old wood, espresso, and Fig Newtons.  With water, this whisky gets a little sweeter, but balances the sweetness with spices like cinnamon and ginger.  It is just as delicious at cask strength as it is with a few drops of water.

Overall, I am a huge fan of Aberlour A’Bundadh, especially this batch.  It takes water beautifully, but is perfectly delicious at cask strength.  If you are seeking out a reasonably priced cask strength single malt, Aberlour A’Bunadh is a great place to start.  It is a complex whisky, well-balanced between sweet and spicy, but it is also a straightforward dram with the Oloroso sherry influence coming through in full force.  Connoisseurs and beginners alike will find something to love with a bottle of A’Bunadh.  My grade: A.  Price: $70-80/750ml.  In the price range, for the quality of this whisky, Aberlour A’Bunadh continues to be one of the best deals around.

Ardbeg Uigeadail Scotch Review

Ardbeg UigeadailToday, I will be concluding Scotchvember on Thanksgiving with a review of a wonderfully warming Islay single malt, Ardbeg Uigeadail.  Ever since Jim Murray awarded this the greatest whisky in the world in 2009, much has been made about this highly-awarded single malt.  Before I get too far into my opinion on Uigeadail, what exactly is “Uigeadail?”  The name of the whisky comes from the loch where Ardbeg gets its peaty water supply.  There is no age statement on the whisky itself, but I have heard that most of the spirit is between seven and twelve years old.  The whisky in the bottle is a vatting of whisky aged in Oloroso Sherry casks, first-fill bourbon casks, and refill bourbon casks.  According to Ardbeg’s Distillery Manager, Mickey Heads, most batches of Uigeadail are comprised of approximately 20% sherried spirit, with the rest of the whisky being divided between first and second fill bourbon casks.  Uigeadail is non-chill filtered and bottled at 108.4 proof (54.2% abv).

On the nose, Ardbeg Uigeadail presents that famous Ardbeg peat, but that is not all.  There are also notes of mesquite BBQ sauce, asphalt, and mocha. There is a dark sweetness that works beautifully with the peat on the nose.  The palate, however, is where this whisky truly comes alive.  The palate is full-bodied with a brilliant balance between sweet and peat.  The luscious, rolling peat is present throughout the palate, but it is rounded out beautifully by honey, vanilla, raisins, and dried mangos.  The finish is long and complex, starting out peaty, and then evolving into sweet, dark cigar tobacco (Maduro) and black coffee.  Water brings out sweeter flavors in the nose, such as roses and honeysuckle, while bringing forth dark chocolate and sherry on the palate.

This whisky continues to evolve as I go through the bottle and as I add water to the glass.  Different flavors come alive with each drop of water, but I love this whisky most at its full bottle strength.  The complexity and balance is superb throughout the sip at a level few whiskies can seek to achieve.  I truly believe this is one of the finest whiskies I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying.  If you love peat, Ardbeg Uigeadail is the pinnacle of peat and cask influence in a young, affordable Islay whisky.  My grade: A/A+.  Price: $70-80/750ml.  The price makes this a reasonable dram, and the whisky in the bottle screams to be unleashed on the most special of occasions.

Glenfarclas 10 Year Scotch Review

Glenfarclas 10Scotchvember is almost at an end, but fear not, I’ll be finishing up with some delightful drams.  First up in the closing stretch is Glenfarclas 10 year-old.  Glenfarclas is a family-owned distillery in the Speyside valley of Scotland, notable for their sherried style, and their dedication to single malts.  Glenfarclas is one of the few Scottish distilleries still owned by the family that owned it 100 years ago.  In fact, the Grants of Glenfarclas purchased the distillery in 1865, and still own it today.  Very little in production has changed over the years at Glenfarclas, which is also unique among Scottish distilleries.  Personally, I have not dabbled into much of the Glenfarclas range, but their whiskies are always reasonably priced for single malts, and I suspect that there will be more Glenfarclas reviews on Bargain Bourbon in the future.  The Glenfarclas 10 year-old is aged in ex-sherry casks and bottled at 80 proof (40%abv).

The nose on this whisky is sweet and perfumey, reminding me a lot of apples or a hard cider.  There is a distinct (but pleasant) bitterness to the nose, all backed up by sweet orchard fruits and honey.  The palate continues the sweetness, with a creamy entry of honey and apple cider.  The finish is medium-long and quite dry with those same tart apple notes present throughout the whisky.  With water, Glenfarclas 10 year-old begins to show its sherried qualities more.  Water brings out a nuttier palate, along with some raisin and marzipan notes on the finish.

Overall, this is a wonderful whisky that unfolds very nicely with water and time.  I suspect (only judging by the whisky, itself) that the Glenfarclas 10 year-old is aged primarily in refilled sherry casks, as the sherried flavors are subdued in this whisky.  Tasted blind, I highly doubt I would have guessed there was much more than 25% sherried whisky in this bottle.  All that said, Glenfarclas 10 year-old is a spry, young whisky that packs good complexity into a drinkable, delicious dram.  My grade: B.  Price: $45-50/750ml.  In some less expensive locations than Boston, this whisky is available at a very good price, making it a very good bargain buy especially for the holidays.

The Dalmore 12 Year Scotch Review

Red Deer StagUp here in Boston, it is starting to get pretty damn cold.  That wind is starting to whip off the harbor and chill the bones.  Simply put, there is no better time to find a warming whisky (especially if you don’t have much control over your heat).  Today’s review is of The Dalmore 12 year single malt Scotch, a wonderfully warming Highland whisky.  The Dalmore distillery is located on the north east coast of Scotland, but it has very little seaside influence.  The Dalmore 12 year is matured for its first 9 years in ex-bourbon casks before the whisky is separated in half.  Half the spirit is allowed to continue its aging in the ex-bourbon casks.  The other half of the whisky is transferred to ex-Oloroso Sherry casks that previously held 30 year-old Sherries.  The end result is a whisky that drinks well beyond its proof point and well beyond its limited Sherry influence.  The Dalmore 12 year is bottled at 80 proof (40% abv).

The nose has a lot of Sherry influence right away.  There are notes of orange peels, currants, tree bark, and Fig Newtons.  The nose has a good balance of dense and sweet flavors.  The palate is full-bodied, with a lot of Sherry and old oak spices.  The most prominent notes are orange marmalade, cocoa powder, and white chocolate.  The finish is long and very warming, tingling the palate with lingering flavors of wood spices, dry Sherry, and a wee puff of smoke. Red Stag

Overall, The Dalmore drinks beyond its alcohol content, as it has a lot of body for a whisky bottled at 40% abv.  The Oloroso influence hits hard and keeps coming, but there is enough depth and complexity to hold the whisky together.  I would love to see this whisky with some of the big, sherried notes turned down.  Perhaps that experience awaits me in run-ins with the older expressions in The Dalmore range.  All that said, this is still one of my favorite whiskies, especially in the late fall.  I really just like the way it tastes and the warmth it provides.  My grade: B/B+.  Price: $50-60/750ml.  This is a big, full-bodied whisky with a lot of Sherry influence.

p.s. If you are wondering about the red stags in the post and on the front of The Dalmore’s bottles, here is the story told by the distillery.  In 1263, an ancestor of the Clan Mackenzie (who bought The Dalmore distillery in 1891) saved the King of the Scots, Alexander III, from being gored by a charging red stag.  Whether fact or fiction, the legend is an essential part of the story of the Clan Mackenzie and The Dalmore.  The stag head adorns the Clan Mackenzie’s coat of arms and every bottle of The Dalmore whisky.  The Dalmore has also incorporated a “King Alexander III” expression into the distilleries lineup to honor the famous event.  Whatever the real story, its a cool logo for a wonderful whisky, echoing the power and beauty of the red stag itself (unlike that swill coming out of Jim Beam).

The Balvenie 12 yr DoubleWood Scotch Review

The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 yearSorry for my hiatus folks, but I was busy becoming a Master of Theological Studies.  This, of course, means that I was drinking more and reviewing less, which I am hoping to remedy over the next few weeks (the reviewing, I mean).  Today’s review is of The Balvenie 12 year DoubleWood, a single malt Scotch from the Speyside valley.  The DoubleWood label refers to the fact that all the whisky has been aged primarily in American oak, and then transferred to first-fill Sherry casks before bottling.  The Balvenie has an extensive range of whiskies, many of them finished in various other barrels (the 21 year Portwood is my favorite of the editions I have tried), and The Balvenie has recently won a lot of accolades for their Tun 1401 collection.  However, like most distilleries, The Balvenie still makes their money off their flagship whisky, the 12 year old DoubleWood.  It is bottled at 86 proof (43% abv).

On the nose, this whisky is mostly sweet.  There are notes of honey, sweet malt, rum raisins, spiced pecans, and toasted wood.  The palate is medium-bodied, smooth, and sweet.  There is a nice balance of malt, oak, and a wee bit of peat.  The finish leaves a bit of oaked spiciness, but it is a rather short finish.

Overall, I wish the finish would last longer, but this is a fine whisky.  It is a great example of what a little bit of sherry influence can do with a light Speyside malt.  It is a short, sweet, well-put together Scotch whisky.  My grade: B-.  Price: $50-60/750ml.  This is a good, solid single malt, but I do think there are better whiskies at lower prices, especially if you are looking for a simple, light Speysider.

Holiday Whiskey Comparison Review: Part 2 – 18 yr. Scotch Whisky

For part 2 of my comparison of 18 year-old whiskies, I am reviewing an 18 year-old Islay and an 18 year-old Speyside.  In my opinion, Islay whisky is bottled best at younger ages because the peat smoke stays lively and fresh.  On the contrary, Speyside whisky is bottled best at older ages because the light, floral, fruity new make benefits from the extra years in the oak to bring the complexity out in the whisky.  Of course, like my first comparison review, whenever you are buying an old and rare Scotch, do your research.  Not all whiskies are created the same, and not all whiskies age well.

Before getting to the reviews, I have to set forth a disclaimer.  I have not bought a bottle of either of these Scotches.  I have drank the Laphroaig 18 yr. on several occasions, but I have only tried The Glenlivet 18 yr. on one occasion.  Therefore, take my tasting notes with a bit more salt than usual.

Laphroaig 18 yr. is bottled at 96 proof, giving it a little more body.  On the nose, Laphroaig 18 yr. is classic Laphroaig.  There are notes of salted pork, peat, smoke, fresh barley, seaweed, and soft honey.  The palate has a solid backbone of toasted nuts, but the salt and peat of Laphroaig never leaves.  There are also notes of dark vanilla, honey, salted caramel, and some oak.  The palate lacks structure, but it is still big, full, and complex.  The finish is a wonderful, long Laphroaig finish, with some lingering sweet oak surrounded by the peat and smoke of a Laphroaig whisky.

Overall, this is fantastic whisky that intensifies a lot of the subtle flavors in other Laphroaig expressions.  However, it lacks structure, and it seems to wander as a whisky.  That is not a bad thing; it is just a difference between the 18 year and other expressions of Laphroaig.  My grade: B+/A-.  Price: $90-100/750ml.  This is a very good whisky, but there are better expressions from Laphroaig that are available at better prices.

 

 The Glenlivet 18 year-old is a much different whisky.  It is bottled at 86 proof, slightly higher than the 12 and the 15 year-old expressions.  On the nose, there is some oloroso sherry, but is not overpowering.  There are notes of hazelnuts, walnuts, cereal grains, and agave nectar.  The palate is sheer brilliance.  It opens with sherried nuts, but it moves to a complex sweetness of cinnamon apples and spiced dark honey.  The finish is long, with a lot of oloroso sherry.  It is warming, with some drying oak and sweet vanilla.

Overall, this is an awesome whisky.  The palate is one of the best I have tried.  It takes the fruitiness of The Glenlivet spirit, and transforms it into a complex, warming dram perfect for all seasons.  My grade: A.  Price: $80-90/750ml.  This is an incredible dram, worth the money for the most special of occasions.

Between the two whiskies, I clearly prefer The Glenlivet 18.  However, they are both whiskies to be savored, and they should both be on your holiday gift list if such things are your flavor.  I believe The Glenlivet 18 is the best of the range, whereas I believe there are at least two Laphroaig whiskies (Quarter Cask and 10 year-old Cask Strength) that are much better value than the 18.  Of course, what you like is all up to you.  Happy Thanksgiving everybody, and let it ride!