...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Glentauchers 8 year old 2010 SMWS 63.58

Tuesday brought my first Glenglassaugh review, Friday now presents my first Glentauchers post, albeit not of a 39 year old whisky. Nor even a 9 year old whisky. But I gotta start somewhere.

Quietly celebrating its 125th birthday this year, Glentauchers distillery passed in and out of James Buchanan & Co's hands until it wound up at DCL-SMD-UD for 74 years. It then went to Allied for 16 years before being added to Pernod Ricard's portfolio. It survived seven years in mothballs during scotch's dark days in the '80s, coming out on the other side as one of the main malts in Ballantine's blended whisky.

Now it's time to chase today's history lesson with some scotch.

Distillery: Glentauchers
Owner: Pernod Ricard
Region: Speyside (Moray)
Independent Bottler: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 8 years (22 Sep 2010 - 2019)
Maturation: first-fill bourbon barrel
Cask#: 63.58, "Dental damage"
Outturn: 258 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 56.1%
(from a bottle split)

NEAT

Juicy Fruit gum, yeast and mint extract arrive first in the nose, followed by oatmeal topped with brown sugar and bananas. Bits of grapefruit and pine linger. The Juicy Fruit morphs into Big League Chew. The malty, sweet palate leans heavily on lemon candy and orange candy, with some yeasty wort in the background. Lots of oranges and a little bit of barley in the very sweet finish.

DILUTED to ~46%abv, or 1¼ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

Limoncello and bitter lemon soda meet malt and confectioner's sugar in the nose. Some herbal bitterness now appears in the palate but sugar rules the day. Plenty of malt can be found from start to finish, along with confectioner's sugar.

WORDS WORDS WORDS

"Dental damage" may be the most accurate cask name SMWS has ever issued. This is one of the sweetest whiskies I've ever tried, yet it remains appealing, like a piece of hard candy when a mouth needs a quick sugar hit. Drinkers with bigger sweet teeth may like this Glentauchers even more, but I do think it's an appealing take on partially-baked whisky.

Availability - 
Sold out

Pricing - was around €50
Rating - 84

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Things I Really Drink: Glenmorangie 18 year old (versus Glenmorangie 18 year old)

Bottled in a comically heavy glass weapon, and secured within a giant casket, Glenmorangie 18 year old posses the name Extremely Rare, the silliest sub-appellation since Mortlach Rare Old. But the 18 year old whisky has been reliable in the past, so I bought a 2021 bottling of the stuff and have since consumed the amber fluid that looks superfluous within its packaging:


Not only did I save a few ounces of the EXTREMELY RARE Glenmo, but I also unearthed a pre-2007 mini of the old 18 year old:


So you're getting a twofer here. One TIRD and a Taste Off.

Here are the details:

Distillery: Glenmorangie
Ownership: Louis Vuitton Moet-Hennessy (the accents and umlauts are on a smoke break)
Region: Highlands (Northern)
Age: at least 18 years
Maturation: 70% spent 18 years in American oak + 30% with 15 years in American oak & 3 years in oloroso casks
Alcohol by Volume: 43%
Chill-filtered? Yes
e150a? Yes

And here is the:

Tain Twain

Glenmorangie 18 year old
bottled 2021
Glenmorangie 18 year old
bottled pre-2007
The nose starts off with apples, cinnamon, saline and minerals, with lemon zest and concrete in the background. Hints of vanilla, roses and circus peanuts arise after a while. The fresh apples turn baked as well, with some brown sugar sprinkled on top.Farm, yeast, pears and mead in the nose, reminding me of yesterday's 39yo Glenglassaugh. Slightly leafy as well, with a hint of white peaches. After 30 minutes it gains toasted almonds, pineapple and papaya.
A decent blend of tart and bitter, mixed with toasted oak and tobacco, arrives in the early palate. Lemons, citrons and green bananas later. It gets oakier with time.Some OBE-esque dust and metal shows up in the palate, but it remains beneath the lemons, chile oil and toffee.
It finishes with sweet citrus, bitter citrus and vanilla, though it never gets too tannic.The finish keeps the lemons and chiles, while also finding a hint of coal smoke.

WORDS WORDS WORDS

The older 18's nose was, by far, the highlight of the night. In fact it had me pondering if I had enough stupid money to track down a 700/750mL bottle. While the palate did not (could not?) match the sniffer, it did offer a sensory connection to the current bottling. They felt related there. The older version comes out on top due to its lighter oak and touch of something peated, in addition to the super nose. The 2021 batch reads perfectly produced for a contemporary palate, thanks to its citrus, vanilla, and determination not to rankle. So the blending team hit the mark, but also created something that's forgotten as soon as the glass is empty. Consider that before buying a bottle.

On one final note, I would like to thank LVMH for designing the perfect sized burial box for my daughters' stuffed animals. There is currently a closed-casket service underway for one unfortunate critter, or maybe seven. But never fear, they will walk again.

RATINGS:
Glenmorangie 18 year old Extremely Rare (2021) - 84
Glenmorangie 18 year old (pre-2007) - 87

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Glenglassaugh 39 year old 1972, cask 2896

Glenglassaugh distillery's NAS official bottlings never inspire my palate, with the peated Torfa being damned near unpleasant. I don't understand why they haven't aspired to something better, or at least age-stated, in the fourteen years since their stills restarted. As a result, this site's first Glenglassaugh will be a 39 year old single cask distilled during the Highland Distillers era. Andrea Caminneci selected it for the German market from official Glenglassaugh casks ten years ago, when people could still do that sort of thing. It's a real heater for its age, 57.5%abv!

Serge and Ruben both gave this cask a score of 93 points, which to the online world is essentially the word of God, so my heresy will be confirmed if I grade it higher or lower. Cheers!

Distillery: Glenglassaugh
Distilled by: Highland Distillers
Current Owner: Brown-Forman
Region: Eastern Highlands (Banffshire)
Age: 39 years (1972 - 2012)
Maturation: refill sherry butt
Cask#: 2896
Outturn: 516 bottles
Exclusive to: Germany
Alcohol by Volume: 57.5%
(from a bottle split)

NOTES

First gear: One of the waxiest noses I've come across, with farm, beach and old calvados filling in every corner. Second gear: Chalk, yuzu, lime and pear up top; toffee and wood spice underneath. Third gear: lychee and more wax.

Dunnage, salt, toasted nuts and mead arrive first in the palate, followed by tart cherries, yuzu, coal and fried plantains, getting sweeter with time.

The very long finish has toasty nuts and spices, honey, menthol, yuzu, lime, fried plantains and a hint of coal smoke.

WORDS WORDS WORDS

How does one bottle Torfa, Evolution and Revival knowing this is the quality of malt that came before? Yes, those whiskies are ~3 years old, while cask 2896 is 39, but......almost a decade and a half have passed since the distillery reopened. How dark is that shadow?

While the 39's palate and finish are very good, the nose makes the world go quiet. Quality refill sherry butts continue to be the magical vessel. I spent a very long time with this pour, and I recommend that anyone who possesses a bottle of this whisky does the same.

Availability - Secondary markets
Pricing - ?
Rating - 91

Monday, September 19, 2022

The Night of 7 Mini Manhattan Cocktails

There has been less and less scotch at Columbus Scotch Night. Scotch whisky's availability and pricing have been going opposite directions in the US, and the Ohio market favors American whiskey. We also like to push the occasional Armagnac or Cognac night, and those always sell out.

Working together, my friends Mr. NO and Secret Agent Man curated a Rye Blind night last Monday. Seven half-ounce drops of different American ryes, labelled A through G, were poured for the group. Six were between $20 and $35, and a seventh originally sold for nearly $200. No one, other than Mr. NO, knew which was which. Interestingly, one of those whiskies turned out to be the favorite for 70% of the group.

I didn't take part in the tasting, and I wasn't much help in my edutainment role, because I was exhausted from the day. Also, as I've referenced in previous posts, my alcohol tolerance isn't what it used to be. So I took the samples home.


What to do with those seven samples? Manhattan Night for me! Seven mini Manhattan cocktails with identical recipes would be matched side by side. Part of me hoped that they would not all be awesome so I could spill a few out and not have a bad evening. Also I didn't want to be tempted to buy seven bottles of rye.

The recipe was simple: 2:1 ratio of rye to Carpano Antica, two dashes of Angostura bitters, two drops of Luxardo cherry syrup. These were the tools:


As a wiser, balder man than I once said, in the future: Engage.

The Manhattans


Manhattan from Rye A - Stellar balance of peppery spice, fruit and sugar. Would buy!
Rating: ★★★★ (out of five)

Manhattan from Rye B - Flat. Bland, yet harsh. It tastes plastic-bottle-whiskey cheap.
Rating: ★½

Manhattan from Rye C - Some really good heft to it. Spice leads the way. Probably the best finish.
Rating: ★★★½

Manhattan from Rye D - Well, it's different than the rest. Nuts, metal, flowers, a cherry lollipop too. Weird overall.
Rating: ★★½

Manhattan from Rye E - Clean, but light. Lowest ABV of the bunch? A little bit of spice and a slight vegetal note.
Rating: ★★½

Manhattan from Rye F - Also a bit strange as it has a strong cologne note. Balance is otherwise decent enough.
Rating: ★★½

Manhattan from Rye G - Easy drinking, right-down-the-middle balance. This would be a great Manhattan rye for a restaurant or bar.
Rating: ★★★

Okay. Ready for the reveal?

. . . . .

. . . . .

Ranked Reveal! With Notes!


#1 - Rye A - ★★★★ - Elijah Craig Rye, 47%abv, $33 in Ohio.
Yes! My bottle of this stuff has already been consumed, but I saved a sample so I owe the world a post about it. 

#2 - Rye C - ★★★½ - Kentucky Owl 11 year old ye, batch 1, 55.3%abv, was $189
This was the clear winner during the event, when people sipped their ryes neatly. I can confirm its bottle smelled good. Also, I'm somewhat relieved that it didn't place first during my tasting because its secondary market price is brutal.

#3 - Rye G - ★★★ - Rittenhouse BIB, 50%abv, $27
Thank goodness Ritt BIB still works. My last couple of bottles were subpar, but that was a half decade ago. As I said in my notes, this would be a great Manhattan rye for a restaurant or bar.

#4 - Rye D - ★★½ - Wild Turkey 101 Rye, 50.5%abv, $25
I expected this to rate higher as it's always been a go-to for my cabinet. Not sure what caused the odd notes.

#5 - Rye F - ★★½ - Old Forester Rye, 50%abv, $23
Another one I'd expected to rate higher, as I've been championing it since I first tried it. There's an unopened bottle in my cabinet. It'll be the next rye I open.

#6 - Rye E - ★★½ - Sazerac Rye, 45%abv, $30
I've never been the biggest fan of baby Saz. It works but doesn't thrill, especially for actual Sazerac cocktails. And I sorta guessed the ABV situation correctly.

#7 - Rye B - ★½ - George Dickel Rye, 45%abv, $22
The most filtered of the bunch, Dickel stood out from the group, and not in a good way, or even an acceptable way. I was probably generous in my rating. It was like I'd made my cocktail with Kessler or Fleischman's Preferred. Mr. NO said, "That Dickel is just garbage."

Final Thoughts, in list form

  • This was a sticky mess. That's how you get ants.
  • I dumped half of D, F, E and B, partially for safety (D, F, E), partially for bleh (B).
  • Dickel Fail
  • I'm looking forward to my next bottle of Elijah Craig rye, and will give Rittenhouse another chance.
  • WT101 and Old Forester require further study.
  • Congrats to everyone who picked up a bottle of Kentucky Owl rye, batch 1, when it first came out. I hope you drank it!
  • Thank you to Mr. NO and Secret Agent Man for curating this tasting!

Friday, September 16, 2022

Glen Elgin 10 year old 2007 SMWS 85.49

Though I've had no more than a handful of Glen Elgin single malts, I've yet to have a whisky from this Lossie distillery that I actually enjoy. Even the official 12 year old, whose review was pulled from this blog before posting because I thought the sample was ruined, is not something I'm interested in sipping again, even after three tries. I'm not one to hold grudges (a lie), so I hope this SMWS cask wins me over (a truth).


Distillery: Glen Elgin
Owner: Diageo
Region: Speyside (Lossie)
Independent Bottler: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 10 years (25 Oct 2007 - 2018)
Maturation: first-fill bourbon barrel
Cask#: 85.49
Outturn: 222 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 60.9%
(from a bottle split)

NEAT

The nose is HOT, raw and slightly malty. Flower kiss candy, wet leaves and confectioner's sugar float in vodka. The hot, sweet and floral palate gradually allows minor notes of metal and oranges to escape. It finishes with sweet and tangy citrus, woody ash and ethanol.

DILUTED to ~46%, or 2 tsp of water per 30mL whisky

Flowers join the flower kiss candy in the nose, followed by coconut, vanilla and barrel char. The palate begins with something floral and a lot of woody bitterness, followed by orange pixy stix and saline. Gets very sweet, like a sugar-doped rum. It finishes with barrel char, orange candy, and that sugared-up rum note.

WORDS WORDS WORDS

As you can guess, this Glen Elgin did not win me over, but that's due less to the spirit and more to the barrel itself. It's a capital "C" Craft whisky, hot AF yet oaky AF. This was a difficult sample to finish, which is a shame since the similarly aged SMWS Dailuaine from last week was quite good. An uneven start for the Glens this week.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - ?
Rating - 74

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Glen Spey 20 year old Cadenhead Small Batch

I know nothing about this Glen Spey-Glenlivet bottling, as there isn't much about it online. It's one of those rectangular small batch Cadenhead bottlings that was released in the US a few years ago. This series tends to offer pretty reliable single malts, while Glen Spey's quality varies broadly.

(And no, I have no commentary regarding the recent announcement regarding Cadenhead shop closures, since I don't know the full story, thought it does seem like single malt gets more difficult to purchase with each passing year.)

Onto the review!

Distillery: Glen Spey
Owner: Diageo
Region: Speyside (Rothes)
Independent Bottler: Cadenhead
Range: Small Batch
Age: 20 years (???? - ????)
Maturation: ???
Outturn: ??? bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 59.9%
(from a bottle split)

NEAT

A lot of stuff going on in the nose, but without any development. Almond butter, flowers, chlorine and Cynar sit up front; orange oil, vanilla bean and ash drift beneath. The simple palate starts with sweet citrus and ginger candy. Hay and miso arrive later, along with (maybe?) some ash. The citrus gets tarter in the finish, and the miso remains, but raw heat is the loudest note.

DILUTED to ~46%abv, or 1¾ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

The nose brightens up, with the flowers turning into white peaches, and the citrus merging with toasted oak. Hints of caramel and grassiness fill the edges. The palate goes the other direction, turning bitter, peppery, salty, and tangy but without the fruit. It finishes tart, salty and acidic.

WORDS WORDS WORDS

This almost reads like one dead refill cask + one active first fill barrel, as these "small batches" tend to contain 1-3 casks. Both sorta raw and sorta oaky. The nose works better when diluted, but the palate tastes better when neat. I'd probably prefer it neat, though the ash notes are strange. Not sure if I'm motivated to find out anything else about this whisky.

Availability - perhaps still around in America?
Pricing - ?
Rating - 79

Monday, September 12, 2022

Glen Moray 25 year old 1994 SMWS 35.275

How about some Glenz? I'm going to review nine Glens over the next three weeks, with only one of them being a Sexy Glen (no, not Glenn Frey; note his two Ns). Each week will have the usual three reviews, the oldest of the trio first, the youngest last.

Though I've reviewed only three Glen Moray single malts on the blog so far, I tend to like the whisky, especially the now retired official 10yo Chardonnay Cask. This 25 year old indie may be the oldest Glen Moray I've had, which is fun, but it appears to have spent its entire life in a first-fill toasted hogshead, which is......interesting.

Distillery: Glen Moray
Owner: La Martiniquaise
Region: Speyside (Elgin)
Independent Bottler: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 25 years (24 Nov 1994 - 2020)
Maturation: first-fill toasted hogshead
Cask#: 35.275
Outturn: 180 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 59.6%
(from a bottle split)

NEAT

Dessert whisky. Cinnamon toffee pudding, crème brûlée, candy corn and tobacco leaf arrive first in the nose. Touches of mint leaf, ginger powder, soil and dunnage provide depth. The palate is a bit warm and spicy, definitely a winter pour, but not brutal, highlighted by gently sweet citrus, toasted cashews, a bit of MGP rye whisky and cinnamon raisin bread. That cinnamon raisin bread leads the finish, with subtler notes of lemons, cloves and toasted cashews.

DILUTED to ~50%abv, or ~1 tsp of water per 30mL whisky

The neat nose's characteristics have intensified. The spices are quite lovely, and it's rich like an even older malt at times. Mango and peach sneak in. Bright citrus moves to the front of the palate, spices (cinnamon, clove, ginger powder) to the middle. A little more mint. The fruit's tartness keeps the sweetness in check. It finishes with limes, ground cloves, dried mint and a hint of ginger.

WORDS WORDS WORDS

Um, this is pretty darned good. If this is how whisky ages in a toasted hoggie, then I wish the industry would lean into The Toast, rather than virgin char bombs. Even though this cask was toasted, I do think this would appeal to American whisky fans, specifically rye geeks. Those spices! Does the Glen Moray spirit have any influence here? I don't know. But it took well to its vessel.

Keep in mind, this isn't Neu Whisky (though maybe Neu! Whisky?) because many wine / fortified wine casks are toasted rather than charred. Just picture those casks with the wine removed. To me, it worked very well this time.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - was around $300 upon release
Rating - 89