...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, June 21, 2019

An Elijah Craig Taste Off

This tasting was supposed to be for gits and shiggles, but as all the tasters' notes came in, I started learning things. A narrative or two — and you know there always MUST be narratives — emerged from the bourbon haze. And something remarkable happened. With eyes closed, the tasters could see.

FIVE ELIJAHS


Here the bourbons be, in order of bottling date:


From left to right:
--12 year old, bottled ca. 2001, distilled at the old distillery, before the fire.
--12 year old Small Batch with the red 12 on the front label.
--12 year old Small Batch with the age statement moved to the back label.
--Small Batch, no age statement, previous bottle/label style
--Small Batch, no age statement, current bottle/label style

Again, these are the ECs in order of bottling date. This not the order of the blind samples. Maybe.

THE SETUP


Taking a step back and really seeing these five different Elijah Craigs clustered together in the whisky cabinet, I realized a public tasting was in order. I liked Elijah Craig Small Batch enough to gather these bottlings from three states and two countries, but when was I going to have time drinking them all? The idea was to compare them someday, but that's a lot of tempered poison to consume. And if opinions are like livers, wouldn't it better to have 21 of them?

So I recruited 20 other livers tasters. Actually I recruited 16. Five wives joined in to assist their husbands with this terrifying task. Some tasters were bourbon geeks, many were not. I would guess less than a third had tried pre-fire Elijah Craig before. Most of us were innocents before, but now we know.

Everyone received five samples marked A through E. In my case, Kristen shuffled the glasses. Without knowing which was which, we each provided notes, rankings and the occasional guess.

(thank you, Gridley's Redemption)

I'll begin with how the bourbons were ranked, then I'll cover the tasting notes and show the guesses. After that comes the REVEAL(!). With the reveal in mind, we all can go back and look at the rankings and guesswork. Onwards!

RANKINGS


21 tasters (20 of y'all, plus me) ranked the five samples in order of preference. Most favoritest to Least Favoritest (words used in a number of replies). As I tallied these up, I assigned points similar to the NCAA Coaches Polls, since no one ever disagrees with those. 5 points for first place, 4 points for second place, down to 1 point for 5th place. That way the winner had the most points. Because America.

First Place
SAMPLE A with 81 points
Its mean was 3.86. In other words it averaged nearly a second place finish.
12 first place votes.
3 last place votes.
Two-thirds of the tasters ranked it first or second.

Second Place (tie!)
SAMPLE E with 64 points
Its mean was 3.05, almost exactly a third place average.
2 first place votes
2 last place votes
It had the smallest standard deviation overall because 80% of the tasters ranked it 2nd, 3rd or 4th.

Second Place (tie!)
SAMPLE C with 64 points
Its mean was 3.05, almost exactly a third place average.
2 first place votes
4 last place votes
Yeah, I can't believe there was a tie, either.

Fourth Place
SAMPLE D with 54 points
Its mean was 2.57.
4 first place votes
5 first place votes
Feelings were all over the place with this one.

Fifth Place
SAMPLE B with 52 points
Its mean was 2.48.
1 first place vote
7 last place votes
More than half of the tasters voted this one fourth or fifth.

Hooray for Sample A! There was quite a gap between first and second place. Even so, some people really didn't like Sample A, while others enjoyed Sample B. I'll try to capture this variety of opinion in this next section...

TASTING NOTES


One of the first things one sees when compiling the notes of 20 tasters is......chaos. I've hosted a number of group tastings, and when several people share their notes aloud their experiences converge to a greater measure than when several people write their notes down secretly. When TWENTY people write their notes down, there are approximately TWENTY different experiences.

I've attempted to group some of the notes together in this section because most of the bourbons had over 100 notes. I don't want to force any similarities that aren't there, but let's see if there are any consistencies.

thank you Mystery Photographer!

SAMPLE A - 81 points, 3.86 avg
Many tasters were confident about this one from the start.

The nose generated similar declarations from 5 different tasters: old bottle effect (twice), dusty profundity, classic dusty aroma and "that nameless smell of old bourbon". Other common descriptors included:
4 mentions each for Oak and Vanilla
3 mentions of Maple (syrup and candies)
2 mentions each of Armagnac and Corn products
There was also tobacco, leather, peach cobbler, hops, iron, fuel and anise cough drops among dozens of other notes.

Seven tasters referenced Oak when describing the palate. Other popular notes were:
4 mentions each for Pepper and Heat
3 mentions for Yeast
2 mentions each for Leather, Caramel and Cloves
They also said it tasted like dill, mole sauce, cotton candy, red wine, chocolate and a dank well.

Oak received 4 mentions in the finish notes.
Good length had 2
Vanilla had 3
Also cloves, rye, maple, mint, tobacco leaf and cellar funk were referenced.

Among the comments, this was the biggest, but also the thinnest of the group. It was delightful, yet unpleasant. A quarter of the reviewers raved about its nose. Others said the whole thing was complex, unique and well-aged.


SAMPLE B - 52 points, 2.48 avg
Though this sample had much lower overall scores than A, it had a wider variety of descriptors. Some drinkers seemed to think it was younger than A as well.

The nose seemed to be about the corn (4x), including "dry corn in an old wood grain bin". Other popular notes were:
3 mentions each for Maple and Peanuts
2 mentions each for Caramel, Bananas and Sweetness
Lots of other sugary stuff including candy apple coating, cake, vanilla frosting, confectioners' sugar and toffee. There were also greener notes such as yeast, mint, vegetables, sunflower seeds and fresh cut grass. A curious lack of "oak" in the descriptions here.

Oak was mentioned 5 times in the palate notes. Other notes include:
4 mentions each for Nuts/Nut products and Cinnamon
3 mentions each for Fruit, Caramel and Bitterness
2 mentions each for Almond products (milk and extract), Sweet, Spicy, Dry and Peanuts
Those notes sound pretty, but then there were notes like: thin, astringent, hot and savory.

The finish received some tough notes like young, raw, craft whiskey, watery and short. Others included:
2 mentions each for Oak, Dry, Medium length
There were also cloves, cinnamon, maple syrup and straw.

Per the comments the whiskey was full of "raw wood, typical of young whiskey", while also having a "lovely uniqueness". It was easy to drink, while also having consistency issues. There were a number of references to its weakness, while one taster compared it to Jim Beam White Label with more age.


SAMPLE C - 64 points, 3.05 avg
This bourbon had the fewest descriptors in all the categories. A lot of oak, though.

Oak tagged 6 notes in the nose. Other notes included:
3 mentions each of Vanilla, Corn products and Quietness
2 mentions each of Citrus, Coconut and Alcohol
Also nut brittle, caramel, candy corn and lemon Pine Sol.

Oak again led the palate with 9 mentions. Sweetness had 5 mentions. Solvent/feints/polish received three. Also:
2 mentions each for Thin, Dry, Simple, Young, Bitter and Caramel
It was thick, tingly, tannic, mineral, floral and grassy.

Three tasters thought the finish was short. Three mentioned oak, and two thought it was dry. It was also watery, bitter and tannic. There was also vanilla, clove and brown sugar.

Comments were limited as well. Tasters though it was "rounded", "not complex but drinkable" and it reminded one taster of Orphan Barrel Barterhouse. There was enough enthusiasm to garner it some good scores, but not a lot of vivid descriptions.


SAMPLE D - 54 points, 2.57 avg
As mentioned above, this one really split the group.

In the nose notes, oak led again with five references. Then:
3 mentions each for Mint and Nuts
2 mentions each for Vegetal, Toasted, Butterscotch and Barn
It was also "weird" and "earthy", with corn, rye, tobacco, lavender, hay, thai curry, indoor pool, Moroccan hair oil and old-books-unopened-for-decades notes.

Leading notes in the palate were:
5 mentions: Oak
4 mentions: Bitter
3 mentions each for Dry and Sweet
2 mentions each for Honey and Heat
The other notes were spread out, like: red wine, maple, grassy, stone fruit, Juicy Fruit gum, biscuits, black tea, yeast, cola, spearmint and a cigar ashtray cleaned with Windex.

Finish notes were concise:
4 mentions: Oak
3 mentions: Short
2 mentions each for Dry, Sweet and Char
Other notes included: fresh cigar wrapper, amaretto, licorice and spice cabinet.

Comments ranged everywhere from "very good" to "horrible". It was the "most complicated" but also "eww poopoo must be NAS" ← Nominee for tasting note of the decade.


SAMPLE E - 64 points, 3.05 avg
A few tasters said they were getting weary by this point, but there were still plenty of notes for this bourbon.

With references to lumber yards and wood chips, oak/wood led the way again with 5 mentions for the nose.
3 mentions for Vanilla
2 mentions each for Honey and Sweetness
Also coconut, tobacco, caramel corn, mint, old leather chair, toffee, corn oil & husks, old grass clippings and pine needles.

NINE different tasters commented on the palate's sweetness. Also:
3 mentions each for Vanilla, Oak and Sugars
2 mentions each for Baking spices, Nuts, Flowers and Heat
Also rye, mint, caramel, wax, smoky, graham crackers, Honey Nut Cheerios and berry pie.

For the finish the notes included:
3 mentions of Oak
2 mentions each for Drying, Short and Sweet
Others included beeswax candy, vanilla, cocoa, lemon juice and heat.

Per further comments, this sweetie needed time to open up, was well-rounded like a Japanese whisky, yet was typical of Heaven Hill bourbon. It was balanced and elegant, with a silky mouthfeel.

THE GUESSES


The drinkers had the option to guess which sample was which Elijah Craig. It was sort of a dare. But as 15 of the tasters made guesses of one or more of the ECs, this lark wound up resulting in something fascinating...

SAMPLE A
10 out of 15 guesses were correct.
All 15 guesses got the age statement correct.

SAMPLE B
7 out of 14 guesses were correct
All 14 guesses got the age statement correct.

SAMPLE C
4 out of 13 guesses were correct
7 out of 13 guesses got the age statement correct.

SAMPLE D
4 out of 14 guesses were correct.
11 out of 14 guesses got the age statement correct.

SAMPLE E
4 out of 13 guesses were correct
8 out of 13 guesses got the age statement correct.

Firstly, look at the results from Samples A & B again. Drink that in.

Secondly, 42% of all guesses were correct. 80% of the guesses at least nailed the age statement.

While there were a handful of big bourbon geeks in the group, the vast majority were not. In fact some of us don't even like bourbon that much. Yet, our senses can sort out the difference between a 12yo and an NAS, to the point of perfection in Samples A & B.

THE REVEAL!


Let me not tarry further.

🥁🥁🥁🥁🥁🥁🥁🥁🥁🥁🥁🥁🥁

SAMPLE A was the Pre-Fire 12 year old, bottled ca. 2001

SAMPLE B was the current NAS Small Batch

SAMPLE C was the old NAS Small Batch

SAMPLE D was the 12 year old with the age statement on the back label

SAMPLE E was the 12 year old with the age statement on the front label


RESULTS REVISITED


First Place
Pre-Fire 12 year old, bottled ca. 2001 with 81 points
10 out of 15 guesses were correct.
All 15 guesses got the age statement correct.

Second Place (tie!)
Front label 12 year old with 64 points
4 out of 13 guesses were correct
8 out of 13 guesses got the age statement correct.

Second Place (tie!)
Old NAS Small Batch with 64 points
4 out of 13 guesses were correct
7 out of 13 guesses got the age statement correct.

Fourth Place
Back label 12 year old with 54 points
4 out of 14 guesses were correct.
11 out of 14 guesses got the age statement correct.

Fifth Place
Current NAS Small Batch with 52 points
7 out of 14 guesses were correct
All 14 guesses got the age statement correct.

While we shouldn't be totally shocked that the oldest and newest Elijah Craigs landed first and last, while also generating very accurate guesses, it's still fascinating that this really played out, almost to an extreme level.

There was also a distinct preference of the old no-age-statement Small Batch over the new one. Meanwhile the old NAS thumped the very 12 year old (back label) it replaced, even though the tasters seemed to know the lower scoring whiskey was a 12yo.

I was surprised the front label 12yo — the bottling that brought many of us to Elijah Craig in the first place — didn't fare that well. It seemed to be a considerable step down from the pre-fire 12, per the group scores.

Speaking of the pre-fire 12, its color was the darkest of the group, with a deep red tint to it. Several tasters also noted its character was different than the other four, which set it apart, which may have led to some correct guesses.

These are all generalizations to some point, since every taster had his or her own relationship with each EC. For instance, there were a few people who didn't like the pre-fire 12 even though they knew/guessed what it was.

I keep coming back to the remarkable guesswork: 42% correct, 80% correct age statement. It even breaks down evenly between the types:
12 year olds - 42.9% correct. 81.0% correct age statement
NASes - 40.7% correct. 77.8% correct age statement

The drinkers knew what they're tasting, even when they're not experts. Our instincts were correct. Even though the 12 year old whiskey doesn't always win out, we seem to know when it's in our glass.

QUESTIONS? COMMENTS?


If you haven't gotten enough of this Elijah Craig onslaught, you will be utterly pleased to know that I will be posting my tasting notes from my blind tasting throughout next week.

More importantly, please use the comment section if you have thoughts or inquiries about this taste off. Thank you to all the participants and all the readers!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Glenlivet 18 year old Nàdurra Triumph

I've wanted to try this whisky ever since I first saw it at a whisky bar nine years ago. It sat on shelves around the country for another three or four years at a high, but not unreasonable by today's standards, price. And it wound up in my cart a number of times before I declined to buy it. Though the Nàdurra Triumph always seemed interesting, blind buying has never a pleasurable experience for me.

So I didn't buy it.

And now I regret that.

Regarding the whisky itself: Glenlivet 18 year old 1991 Nàdurra Triumph is a single malt made from one barley strain, or varietal, Triumph, that is no longer used by Scottish distillers, possibly due to inefficient alcohol output. It was a single release, sort of before its time, and Glenlivet hasn't joined the "_____ Barley" release shuttle that has since launched. Instead they sell a lot of NAS mystery meat (named Alpha, Cipher and Code) for 150+ dollars.


Distillery: Glenlivet
Ownership: Pernod Ricard
Age: 18 years (1991-2010)
Maturation: American oak casks
Barley varietal: Triumph
Alcohol by Volume: 48%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No
(from a purchased sample)

The nose is radiantly fruity. Kristen said she could smell it from across the room. There are lots of in-season apples, pineapple, guava and limes. Yes, barley. Then anise and roasted nuts. Hints of brine and vanilla bean. The palate is creamy in texture and character, with graciously minor levels of vanilla and sugar. Key lime pie, roasted barley, pineapple and a touch of herbal bitterness. The lime note expands with time. It finishes with key lime pie and lemon bars, both with extra zest, as well as a hint of fresh peach.

What a treat this was, especially next to Glenfiddich's Fire & Cane. The 48%abv felt like the optimum strength, and I refused to add water. Refused! To reproduce this whisky would be an undertaking, and possibly not that lucrative, but it would be a hell of a lot better than the majority of the official range. And it would fit nicely with some of the fruity mega-batches of the regular 18yo.

If an opportunity to try this whisky comes along, I recommend you do not pass it up, as I regret having waited so long. (Note: I wrote "try" not "buy". Recommendations for purchases are not made on this site.) Though it's not the most complex thing, the whisky is fruity and creamy without being weighed down by sugar and vanilla, which is in itself a ...... wait for it ...... triumph!

Availability - Secondary market
Pricing - ???
Rating - 88

Monday, June 17, 2019

Glenfiddich Fire & Cane

Can I assume this single malt's name references James Taylor's Fire and Rain, a song about depression and suicide? If so, at least Glenfiddich is being honest about the whisky.

ZING!

Of Glenfiddich's Experimental Series, the IPA Cask and Project XX whiskies have been reviewed here, and I liked them both. I even bought a bottle of the IPA Cask and finished it. But no, I will not review Winter Storm. Not for that whisky's price. And not after Fire & Cane.

Let's get this over with.


Distillery: Glenfiddich
Ownership: William Grant & Sons
Region: Speyside (Dufftown)
Maturation: From the official site: "By marrying peated whisky and malts matured in bourbon barrels, and then finishing in Latin rum casks, we created an exquisite whisky with campfire smokiness and toffee sweetness." I have a number of issues with this sentence, but there are bigger problems in this world.
Age: ???
Alcohol by Volume: 43%
Colored? Yes
Chillfiltered? Yes
(from a purchased sample)

NEAT
The nose seems fine, in fact, it's exactly what one would expect. Young peated malt meets sugar-doped rum. There's melon liqueur, vanilla, lemon and berry-scented lotion in the midground and a lingering seaside note in the background. Very candied. And then the palate. Soap. Sugar. Also soap. Hay and peanuts. Bitter oak. Oranges and mild smoke. Soap. The finish is soapy, sweet and bitter, with a hint of smoky ham.

I had trouble drinking more than three sips of this. Even though, at 43%abv, it was already watered-down, I hoped this would improve with a little more dilution.

DILUED TO ~40%abv, or ½ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
Straightforward peat and orange oil notes in the nose, then melon liqueur, milk chocolate and fading embers. Perhaps the palate is 10% less soapy? It's also grassier and bitterer. It's become very tangy, while the smoke a receded to a mere residue. It finishes with a citrus-scented soap, fresh ginger and a whiff of wood smoke.

SOAP SOAP SOAP
I don't think I've seen the soap note prominently referenced in other reviews of this whisky. What keeps me from thinking my sample was corrupted is that the nose is perfectly reasonable. There's nothing screwy with it. But the palate is just awful. Even when digging through to the other side of the soap, one finds aggressive sweetness and brutal oaky bitterness. Dilution reduces the soap one tick, the sweetness one tick, while the bitterness goes up two ticks. Soap aside, this is what happens when ultra-sweetened oaky rum meets very young oaky whisky. Bleh.

Availability - Most whisky specialty retailers around the planet
Pricing - $40-$60 worldwide
Rating - 66 (with water, 5-10 point lower without)

Friday, June 14, 2019

BenRiach 12 year old Sherry Wood

The third Ben!

I cannot say I've enjoyed the Billy Walker-distilled Benriach single malts I've tried up to this point. But I am curious to see what happens when Walker takes a Seagram/Chivas-distilled release, then updates it with his own whisky. Of course, Brown-Forman is blending it now, but the spirit and the casks are Walker Era. At the very least this 12 year old Sherry Wood has a good presentation: 46%abv, no chill-filtration and no added colorant.

According to the official website, the whisky was matured in sherry casks and then finished in sherry casks. Yo Dawg, I heard you like sherry.


Distillery: BenRiach
Ownership: BenRiach Distillery Company (now owned by Brown-Forman)
Region: Speyside (Lossie)
Age: at least 12 years
Maturation: "full sherry cask maturation, combined with Pedro Ximénez and Oloroso sherry cask finishing"
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colored? No
(from a purchased sample)

NEAT
The nose begins with an amusing combination of earth, leather shoes and Fruit Loops. Then it transitions to dried cherries, grapefruit and floral perfume. The palate leads with fizzy cream soda and ginger beer notes. Then there's vanilla bean, tart citrus, almond cookies and brown sugar. With time it develops toasted oak and savory notes. Though alcohol is the longest lasting element of the sweet finish, there are small notes of tart citrus and vanilla.

DILUTED TO ~40%abv, or < 1 tsp of water per 30mL whisky
The nose becomes fruitier at this strength. Peaches, brown sugar and cinnamon (sort of a crumble). Familiar raisin and prune sherry cask notes. Orange oil and barley. The palate's sweetness calms down, and is met by a soft bitter note. It's maltier and has a toffee note. Less vanilla, though the cream soda remains. A mineral note sneaks in, providing extra depth. The finish is less sweet and less hot. Minerals, oranges, raisins and cream soda.

WORDS WORDS WORDS
I was reluctant to add water this 12yo at first. It wasn't nearly as hot as Ralfy had said in his review. But I had 2 ounces of the stuff on hand, so what the heck. And it turned out to be a good decision, because the palate and finish improve considerably at 40%abv.

This brings to mind the current Tamdhu 10yo. They're different whiskies, but they both swim very well and are good alternative options to the usual sherried malts. The liquid presentation is sexier here, but Tamdhu has the prettier bottle. Though the Tamdhu is $5-$10 more expensive, they're parked in the same price range as Macallan 12, Glendronach 12 and Glenfarclas 12.

The thing that surprised me the most about BenRiach 12 year old Sherry Wood is that its quality matched that of this week's cask strength Ben Nevis and Benromach, and actually topped them at comparable ABVs, which is comforting because I can actually find this whisky in the United States.

Availability - Many whisky retailers around the world
Pricing - $50-$65 in US, Japan and Europe
Rating - 86 (with water)

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Benromach 12 year old 2006, cask 99 for Van Wees

I just saw it's been more than a year and a half since my last Benromach review. That's too long! Since that last review was for a Van Wees-selected single cask (#333), this one will be for a Van Wees-selected single cask. Cask 333 was excellent and has set my expectations high for cask 99.


Distillery: Benromach
Ownership: Gordon & MacPhail
Region: Speyside (Findhorn)





Age: 12-ish years (2006 to 2018)
Maturation: first-fill bourbon barrel
Cask #: 99
Outturn: 193 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 59.2%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No
(from a purchased sample)

NEAT
The nose begins with sugary peat and buckets full of citrus peels. Then quieter notes of cinnamon candy and flower blossoms. The peat gradually turns farmier. It all feels very close to new make, though good new make. The fruity, sweet palate is hotter than the nose. It's loaded with pineapple and lemon juices, cinnamon candy and big (but not farmy) peat. Then basil leaves, ginger and horseradish. It finishes with citrus and cinnamon. Moderate sweetness and heat-ness. Mossy peat.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or 1¾ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
The nose has become noticeably different. Pears and green apples. Mint leaves and smokier peat. The palate is all sweet and peat at first. Then a few lemons roll in, some herbal bitterness. It becomes much too sweet for my palate. The finish is sweet, smoky and bitter.

WORDS WORDS WORDS
Previous to cask 99, I'd tried three other single bourbon cask Benromachs and found them all to be very hot. Thankfully that's not the case here. Otherwise the first-fill bourbon cask doesn't do a whole lot. The whisky reads very young, half its age or less. And it's very peaty. Those two aspects are why I kept thinking, "This reminds me of Kilchoman." Which is a quirky, but positive, experience with even this peated Speyside malt.

The key to this whisky is caution with dilution. At 46%abv it becomes a generic peater that's missing something to balance out all the sugar. The palate sings at full power, possibly even topping the nose. All that being said, I don't think this tops anything from Benromach's regular range. So if you missed out on this release, no worries. Just chase down an easier to find Benromach and all will be well.

Availability - The Nether Regions, though it's mostly gone by now
Pricing - $100ish w/ VAT
Rating - 84 (when neat)

Monday, June 10, 2019

Ben Nevis 10 year old 2008 Cask Strength batch 1

There is a remarkable-if-true interview by "Kolomon" with Ben Nevis Distillery's Managing Director on Whiskybase's page for Ben Nevis 10 year old 2008 Cask Strength batch 1, that I recommend you read.

What's potentially remarkable about the conversation isn't the way Nikka chooses to do business, but rather that Colin Ross would be so candid. Still the Nikka-Ben Nevis relationship is worth considering. Nikka has been using most of Ben Nevis's malt in their "Japanese" blends and blended malts for some time. Considering just the logistics of that, it seems prohibitively expensive. In fact, at some point I'd imagine that building a new distillery in Japan would save the company considerable expense in the long term. This seems even more obvious considering Ben Nevis 10yo vaporized off the shelf at $60-$80 a pop, while the Nikka whiskies using Ben Nevis malt are considerably cheaper. Yet the Ben Nevis brand gets punished by this process. Nikka clearly needs a malt source, but there has to be a wiser, more profitable solution than the current one.

I'm certain there are unknown factors involved, but the above was just my two cents.

This cask strength 10 year old was released when the regular 10 year old stock ran out. Bottled at a bruising 62.4%abv, it's a mix of bourbon, sherry and wine casks. It costs twice as much as the regular 10yo. Even Ross says in the if-true-interview that this pricing is unfortunate. Luckily for me, local Ben Nevis lover, Whiskysite was selling samples of it, so I was able to try it.


Distillery: Ben Nevis
Ownership: Nikka Whisky Distilling Company (part of Asahi Group Holdings)
Region: Highlands (Western)
Age: 10 years (2008-2018)
Maturation: first fill bourbon, sherry and wine casks
Alcohol by Volume: 62.4%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No
(from a purchased sample)

NEAT
The nose starts with prunes, black raisins, honey and soil. There's also a machine shop / hot engine note in the midground. Maybe a hint of cabernet sauvignon? The nose simplifies with time, focusing on honey, lemons and soil. The palate has a gorgeously silky texture and is very drinkable considering the enormous ABV. There's a lot of cask action here. Dried berries, berry jam and nut butters. Very little peat. Honey, orange candy, hard toffee and salt. Dark chocolate, raspberry jam, raisin bread, honey and orange candy in the finish.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or > 2 tsp of water per 30mL whisky
There's honey, hot fudge and black raisins up front in the nose. Then mint candy, lemons and dates. With time it tilts heavily towards gunpowder. The palate is all cask: wine and wood. Very sweet, jammy and loaded with raisins. An earthy note reads more like sulphur than peat. Eucalyptus. Sourness. The good texture remains. The finish is very winey and sugary, with some eucalyptus and pepper.

WORDS WORDS WORDS
If scotchwhisky.com is accurate, then Ben Nevis goes into the cask at 63.4%abv. This 10 year old is 62.4%, so the angels went for water rather than alcohol. They were telling us something. And that was, "Keep water out of this whisky". Really, they said that.

So on the plus side, this is best when neat. On the other hand, it's aggressively cask driven. That's great for folks who are not fond of Ben Nevis's character. It's less sexy for those of us looking for a solid Nevis hit. The whisky's texture helps rescue the palate from being just another sherry bomb, and the nose does have the odd industrial stuff some of us enjoy. It's still a good winesky, but it isn't worth 2 bottles of the regular 10 year old.

Availability - European specialty retailers
Pricing - $120-$140
Rating - 85 (neat only)

Friday, June 7, 2019

Killing Whisky History, Episode 25: Old Grand-Dad 86 Proof Bourbon, bottled 1970

Hey look what I found. A video! Of whisky!


For all the old grand-dads out there, here's some 86 proof Old Grand-Dad bourbon from the gloriously glutty National Distillers years. This one, distilled in 1965 and bottled in 1970, appears to have had some cap tampering but, VERY luckily, the whiskey is intact. So get out yer bottle of OGD at any proof, from any year, and join me in some bourbon tasting! But always drink responsibly. Especially with bourbon.