...where distraction is the main attraction.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Standings to return next Saturday

Weekend greetings to all!
I'm checking in from out of town to report that the standings list will return next weekend.  The members of the Top Twenty haven't changed.  And I'm at the beach.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Fear and the New Whisky World

The whisky world is changing right now.  As you're reading this, whiskies you enjoy are being eased off of the market, to be replaced by new products.  Or nothing at all.

Johnnie Walker

Not too long ago, I wrote a two-part post haranguing Diageo over a number of issues.  The impetus for that post was the removal of Johnnie Walker Green and Gold labels from the market, and their replacement with Gold Label Reserve and Platinum Label.  One of the theories behind this move was the need to corral as much malt whisky as possible.  Along with ruthless capitalism, this sudden desire to hold onto malt stock may have been the leading factor in their decision.  It's a risky move to pull a very familiar brand off the shelves, permanently.

Enter Macallan.

As of September THIS YEAR, Macallan will replace their 10, 12, and 15 year old single malts for no-age-statement color-based bottlings (UK first and then the world).  That's right.  No more Macallan 12.  No more 10 year Fine Oak (nor Sherry Oak).  No more 15 year Fine Oak.  And no more 17 year Fine Oak (a personal favorite).  They're being replaced by Gold, Sienna, and Ruby.


The brand that has made its mint via specific age statements is now going without age statements.  It's an incredibly bold business decision.  Why are they doing this?

They claim a bit of inspiration came from their Travel Retail line, the no-age-statement 1824 Collection -- Select Oak, Whisky Maker's Edition, Estate Reserve, and Limited Release.  [On a side note, I purchased a bottle of the Select Oak on the way to our Italian honeymoon.  The whisky was okay, but not something I'd purchase again.  The honeymoon was great, let's do it again!]

According to Master of Malt, the 1824 Collection was a financial success.  According to thedrinksbusiness and World of Whiskies, it was a failure.  The reality is likely somewhere in between.  Though I don't think the 1824 Collection had too much bearing on their Gold-Sienna-Ruby decision, it was the only (non-Cask Strength) example of Macallan entering the no-age-statement approach to single malts.

No-age-statement (NAS) bottlings are bold in this whisky economy because drinkers worldwide have been trained to think that older is better.  That allows producers to charge exponentially higher prices for their older bottlings, even though the younger ones may actually be better and more exciting.  Oak management is complicated and sometimes whisky can get over-oaked or lose much of its spirit's character with too much time in a barrel.  And, of course, everyone's palate is different.  Some of us (ahem, me) like bolder, wilder, spirit-forward amber stuff, while others enjoy a smoother quiter experience.  Beauty is in the glass of the beholder.

So how is Macallan, who have made a fortune overcharging for their older age statement-ed products, going to get folks to buy Gold, Sienna, and Ruby (I'm still waiting to hear that those names are a joke.)?  Well, they're going to try to convince everyone that whisky COLOR determines quality.  The longer in the sherried wood, the darker it will be and thus the richer and better it will be.  And thus more value will be assigned to the darkest whisky.

Of course, that's just as true (read: false) as the age statement approach to whisky.  Yes, a long time in a sherry cask will give whisky a beautiful rosy mahagony hue.  But again, a lot of that has to do with time in the oak.  Unless Macallan announces that it's buying up all of the world's Pedro Ximenez dark sherry casks (instead of their usual oloroso casks), we're back to the time issue again.

And, as the very good Master of Malt article states, they're going to have to try to "educate" folks that the darker the whisky, the better it tastes.

The darker it looks, the better it tastes?  That's like saying the better looking a person is, the better he or she is in bed.  That's patently untrue.  Except in my case.


I'm a terrible lover.


Yes, many years in a good sherry cask will get you a darker looking whisky.  But so will a few drops of caramel e150a.  Thus looks are deceiving.  And though occasionally we may be lured by color to buy a whisky for the first time, I doubt that many of us have gone back for a second bottle because it was maple syrup pretty.  We went back for a second bottle because the whisky inside smelled of the Earth's musk and tasted like old memories.

So why this sea change from Macallan?  Something sparked them into disrupting their massively successful business so.  Why are they pushing this particular whisky rock up a vertical cliff?  Because so far, this is all some pretty wobbly theory to be using to pull the world's second or third most familiar single malt from the shelves.

My guess, they're short on whisky.  They may not have enough whisky stock to guarantee that all of Macallan 12 is at least twelve years old.  By withdrawing age statements, they can use a mix of younger and older whiskies for Macallan Gold.  Or (guh) Macallan Ruby.  I can't prove this, yet.

But not only has the whisky market blossomed aggressively, the demand for whisk(e)y is starting to surpass the supply.  Careful management of supply is becoming very apparent industry wide.

Everyone else

Diageo, Pernod Ricard, William Grant & Sons all have been ramping up their malt production another 10-20 million liters to meet demand -- construction of new massive distilleries, expansion of current distilleries, and reopening of old distillies, all happening right now.

If you're a Rye Whiskey fan, this article and this article may leave you queasy.  There simply isn't enough rye.  Rittenhouse 100, going going gone.  Wild Turkey 101, going going gone.  Sazerac, getting shortages.

Bourbon fans?  In that second article, K&L Wines' brilliant buyer, David Driscoll, lists shortages on Black Maple Hill and Vintage 17.  Elijah Craig 18, no more.

Japanese Whisky?  Yamazaki 18, gone from the US.  Yamazaki 12, going to be harder to find, according to Driscoll.

So...what now?

How do we feel about a whisky world without Macallan 12, Johnnie Walker Green Label, Yamazaki 12, Elijah Craig 18, Rittenhouse 100 (and soon many others)?  What do we do?  Do we allow our purchasing and drinking choices be dictated by fear (occasionally stirred up by those who profit off that feeling)?

The whisky business is for optimists only.  The product isn't instant, producers have to believe that everything will be as it should be in at least a decade from now.  By filling barrels with distillate, they are planting a seed.

And as whisky buyers happily spoiled by seemingly infinite supply, we must not be afraid that the best things are now gone forever.  Though we are used to the instantaneous in our lives, we must accept that the brilliance of the whisky we love takes time to unfold.  Meanwhile things change.  And increase in price.  The expanding world has discovered whisky's brilliance.  It's no longer a Celtic secret.

More whisky is being made right now.  In countries all over the world, pot stills are steaming, experiments with casks are running, folks are making whiskies never before dreamed of.  With all of the advances in production, perhaps the best stuff has yet to be.

You, as a drinker, can choose to buy up all of the disappearing whisky, trying to grab a hold of what is now the (increasingly expensive) past.  You can seek out and hoard up all of those things, those amber lovlies, that brought you to this point.  Or you can buy what is prevalent and affordable now, waiting patiently for the miracles to come.

I'll do both.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Single Malt Report: Ardbeg Taste Off (part 3 of 3) - Ardbeg Corryvreckan

The final chapter in the Ardbeg Taste Off!

From Left to Right:
Ardbeg Ten (Part 1)
Ardbeg Uigeadail (Part 2)
Ardbeg Corryvreckan (Part 3)

Each glass held approximately 30mL (about 1 fl oz).  Each whisky was sampled neat.  First, after a 15 minute wait.  Then a second time, another 45 minutes later.


Ownership: Glenmorangie Plc (Moet Hennessy)
Age: whiskys distilled in 1998 through 2000, along with some younger whisky
Maturation: French Oak casks (maybe some ex-bourbon too?)
Region: Islay
Alcohol by Volume: 57.1%

I attempted to report on this whisky back in early March.  The result was esoteric hyperbole.  While I still agree with every last word of that post, I'm going to try to describe this drink in more solid terms.

Churning on the West coast of Scotland, the Corryvreckan is the third-largest whirlpool in the world.  It has consumed ships, sailors, and a Norse king over the years.  It's a powerful natural phenomenon and a great Gaelic name (roughly "cauldron of the speckled seas) even though it sits far north of Islay, between Jura and Scarba.

Ardbeg first released Corryvreckan (the whisky) in 2008 for sale to their committee members.  Following that successful launch, they brought it out for the general public in late 2009.  It filled the gap in their range once held by the now-depleted Airigh Nam Beist bottling.

Bill Lumsden from Ardbeg has revealed distillation dates for some of the whisky within and much of the spirit had been aged in French Oak casks.  Other than that, they're keeping the recipe a mystery.

The vapors!  It's steaming up!
Like my Uigeadail dram, the Corryvreckan from this tasting came from a sample I purchased from Master of Malt.

(Tasting Tip: If you're doing a multi-whisky tasting and Corryvreckan is amongst the selection, try the Corry LAST.  It's a strong heavily-peated behemoth that does a number on the taste buds.)

Round 1 -- neat, 25+ minutes in the glass before tasting

The color is a light gold with a darker hue at its heart.  The nose begins with a strong aromatic peat.  Then tar, leather, and cognac-dipped cigars.  Underneath all that is an overripe fruit note along with vanilla ice cream and the inside of a toffee shop.  The palate?  It caramelizes the senses.  Smoldering peat meets burnt sugars.  Sweet cream & cinnamon & seaweed in a bonfire.  Dried fruit, mulled wine, hot rum.  A TCP Milk Dud cocktail.  It all barrels through the finish.  A big oceanic note meets rum.  Cinnamon candy mixes with honey-roasted band-aids.  The sweet and peat last equally long long long.

Notes:  Mmmmmmmm.

Round 2 -- neat, almost an hour after the first round

The nose holds a very nice oaky note (and I usually don't like generic oak notes).  There's also a nice brandy/cognac thing going on.  But mostly it's coffee grounds, fresh soil, molasses, the ocean, boat diesel (in a good way!), angel food cake on fire, and something deep & peppery that I can't quite name. The palate keeps its Big Peat push.  There's burnt wood, espresso with molasses, smoked caramel sauce, lemons with brown sugar, peat cookies with white pepper.  PEATNESS reigns supreme in the finish.  Underneath that runs the ocean, some citric sweets, and fruity sugary oak.  And it's as if it never ends...

Notes:  ... ... ...

I know I got a little obscure towards the end there, but things were getting really fine by the end of this Taste Off.  Can I recommend this?  Well, take a look at the nose notes.  If those sound good to you, then this whisky will treat you well.

To conclude:
Ardbeg Ten - A peated lemon cupcake.  Sweet & peat, nicely balanced.  Lowest price.
Ardbeg Uigeadail - A big bear of a smoky dessert malt.  A tremendous schnozzola.
Ardbeg Corryvreckan - The experience.  An industrial powerhouse.

Availability - Many liquor specialists
Pricing - Excellent at $70, probably shouldn't go for more than $90; but to what do I compare this?
Rating - 96

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Single Malt Report: Ardbeg Taste Off (part 2 of 3) - Ardbeg Uigeadail

The Ardbeg Taste Off continues!

From Left to Right:
Ardbeg Ten (Part 1)
Ardbeg Uigeadail (Part 2)
Ardbeg Corryvreckan (Part 3)

Each glass held approximately 30mL (about 1 fl oz).  Each whisky was sampled neat.  First, after a 15 minute wait.  Then a second time, another 45 minutes later.


Ownership: Glenmorangie Plc (Moet Hennessy)
Age: unknown other than a mix of young stuff and old stuff
Maturation: ex-oloroso (35-45%) and ex-bourbon (remainder)
Region: Islay
Alcohol by Volume: 54.2%

What the hell is an Uigeadail?  And am I pronouncing right?

Nice to see you again Blue Text.  And very good questions.

Don't patronize me.  Just give me answers.


Uigeadail (pronounced Oog-a-dal) is the name of one of the nearby natural water sources for the Ardbeg distillery.  The name itself is Gaelic, meaning something like "dark and mysterious place".  Since the water from this dark and mysterious place goes into their final products, Ardbeg named this particular dark(er) curious alchemic malt in its honor.

Uigeadail's vowelicious.  Thank you.

You're welcome, now go back to bed.

Made up of 55-65% young whisky matured in ex-bourbon casks and 35-45% old whisky matured in ex-sherry casks, Ardbeg Uigeadail was first released in 2003.  It has since gathered considerable critical plaudits.  Jim Murray, in particular, has gone Oogy for Uigeadail, giving it his highest rating ever and naming it World Whisky of the Year in 2009.  The San Francisco World Spirits folks keeping dishing out awards for it.  Serge and the Malt Maniacs are quite fond of it as well.

When it first came out, Uigeadail was a mix of 10 and 13 year ex-bourbon matured whisky, along with some really old ex-sherry matured stuff from the 1970s.  No one except Ardbeg knows the current recipe.  But since 1970s Ardbeg malt is worth a bloody fortune, I doubt they're still putting it into the Oogs.  The distillery was closed from 1981 to 1989, then again in 1996 and 1997 -- so the older element in whisky is either from the very early '80s or early '90s.  Just guessing here.

They've been very good at wrapping this up as a 54.2% ABV dark and mysterious enigma.  That's fine with me as long as they keep putting this stuff out!

Check out all that good poison steaming up the glass.
Then a dark and mysterious reflection...
I don't have a bottle of this one (yet), so I obtained my taste via a sample purchase from Master of Malt.

Round 1 -- neat, 20+ minutes in the glass before tasting

The color is the darkest of the three whiskys (see first pic at the top), a dark gold with sherry rouge highlights.  The nose is tremendous.  I could smell this all day.  Apply carefully as aftershave then strut into the bar at 1:30am.  Sorry, tangent.  The nose starts with honey cinnamon cognac oak, a boozy gelato, molasses cookies.  Then it melts into chocolatey toffee and vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce and brandy.  Peat doesn't dominate the palate, as it's well integrated with the whole.  Very malty with drippy caramel and rich cognac.  It finishes sweetly, but hearty.  Thick sugars, cinnamon, toffee, and rum-soaked cake.

Notes:  "...perfect dessert scotch for a cold night."  The best nose of the three whiskys.

Round 2 -- neat, 50+ minutes after the first round

The nose is of the richest vanilla ice cream, topped with fresh berries and chocolate sauce, served with spiced rum.  Then there's more chocolate, like Cadbury's with a peat syrup filling.  At the very end there's a seaside note.  Time has allowed the palate to come out to play.  Sherry and caramel sauce with citrus juice.  A dark berry syrup, mocha, and a sweet peat wallop.  The deliciousness carries over into the finish.  More sherry & peat, molasses & cinnamon, nutmeg, more mocha, and cigar smoke.  But the peat lingers the longest.

Final notes:  It's pretty f**king good.  No, really, it's giving the Corryvreckan a run for the title.

One thing I must stress:  I know that the notes were full of desserty adjectives, but this is a hefty peaty creature.  If you're looking for a non-peated thick dessert single malt for special occasions, I recommend searching out the Glenfarclas 105 or maybe one of the Glendronach casks (or 'farclas and 'dronach's regular ranges for those folks on a budget).

I will admit that this Taste Off is becoming a love-in, but just wait until I get to the Corry tomorrow.

Availability - Many liquor specialists
Pricing - Excellent at $60, I wouldn't pay more than $75
Rating - 94

Monday, June 25, 2012

Single Malt Report: Ardbeg Taste Off (part 1 of 3) - Ardbeg Ten

(Since I'm traveling, there probably won't be more than three posts this week.  That all depends on the quality of the Blogger app on my Android phone...)

By reading this post's subject heading you'll know the matter being discussed this week.  If you're an Ardbeg hater, please return next week.  (And if you are an Ardbeg hater, whattsamatta you?)

I will often exhalt the little indy distilleries while simultaneously poopooing the multinational conglomerate Big Whisky.  It's not that I'm anti-capitalistic, it's that I chose to support small businesses.   They tend to have closer contact with their products and more direct relationships with their customers.  They're also more likely to provide something exciting because in order to succeed as a small business one needs to deliver a product unique and/or better to the market.

Then there's Ardbeg.  Ardbeg is owned by Glenmorangie Plc.  Glenmorangie Plc is owned by Moet Hennessey -- a multinational luxury behemoth.

But I am smitten with Ardbeg anyway.  Why?  Because they've taken their ownership's capital allowance and invested it in exploring malt whisky's potential.  It has resulted in a considerable (please don't call it a cult) following and consistent critical raves.  Personally, I've yet to meet an Ardbeg whisky that isn't a terrific adventure.

On Friday, I experienced significant tumult in my writing career.  So I thought it best to mark the occasion with a Taste Off that I'd been anticipating for some time.  An Ardbeg Taste Off.

From Left to Right:
Ardbeg Ten (Part 1)
Ardbeg Uigeadail (Part 2)
Ardbeg Corryvreckan (Part 3)

Each glass held approximately 30mL (about 1 fl oz).  Each was sampled neat.  First, after a 15 minute wait.  Then a second time, another 45 minutes later.

To begin...


Ownership: Glenmorangie Plc (Moet Hennessy)
Age: minimum 10 years
Maturation: ex-bourbon barrels
Region: Islay
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Phenols: 54ppm
Bottle Code: L10 165 12:47 6ML

Yes, I have reviewed this whisky before.

That was in a dark bar, whisky in an open flat tumbler, on a rockin' night.  The notes I'd taken were minimal, the rest of the review was from spotty memory.

Today's NEW report was done in a controlled setting, at home.  The Ten was in a great glass, lined up with other Ardbeg whiskys to compare and contrast.  And these Taste Offs are my favorite whisky experiences because they really allow me focus and explore.  No Taste Off takes less than 90 minutes.

That bar experience happened in late October last year.  Three weeks later I bought a bottle of Ardbeg Ten from K&L Wines.  I opened it almost six months ago and am now down to the final dram.  It's always been fun and my opinion of it has grown gradually.  It's not chillfilltered, probably without caramel coloring, and bottled at a good 46% ABV.

Time for tasting.

Round 1 -- neat, 15 minutes in the glass before tasting

As you may note from the first picture in this post, the color is the lightest of the three -- where Pinot Grigio meets old hay.  The nose starts with fruit bread / fruitcake, then a rush of wet peat.  There's cinnamon, docked fishing boats, and a bonfire in the distance.  A lovely (to me) sooty peat hits the palate first, then rich honey.  Ultimately, it's a bakery full of sweet breads, fruit tarts, and cakes.  That bakery note continues into the excellent finish.  Then peated lemons, maybe a little candied, and a rummy pound cake.

Notes:  It's a peated lemon cupcake.

Round 2 -- neat, at least 45 minutes after the first round

The nose has become much sweeter now, like a rich spicy pudding along with some banana bread.  The peat has eased off, but an oceanic note has emerged further.  The peat soot remains in the palate, well merged with cinnamon toffee syrup (Ed.: that's not a thing).  There's cane sugar or maybe peated rock candy.  The sweets stick around the longest in the finish.  There's some chimney smoke, brown sugar, and honey.

Final notes:  I read recently that at 54ppm, this is the heaviest peated regularly available single malt.  That rings somewhat true on the nose and palate, but it blends so well with a multi-faceted sweetness and a bunch of bakery notes that the peat is no longer the lead characteristic.  Ardbeg Ten may be a heavy hitter but it's not overwhelming.  If you like its neighbors Laphroaig and Lagavulin, you probably won't mind a sip of this.

Availability - Many liquor stores
Pricing - Higher than most 10yrs; Great at $45 or less, don't pay over $55
Rating - 91

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Single Malt Report Standings as of June 23 2012

Hope your weekend is going well!  If not, this should put a smile on your face:

To the standings!

(My methodology uses pageview counts from three different sources in an attempt to suss out which posts are spammer heavy and which ones are getting the real clicky traffic.  Then I apply a very (not) sophisticated algorithm.  And from that I get a Top Ten.)

SINGLE MALT REPORT STANDINGS AS OF 6/23/2012 (out of 77 posts):

#10 Powers Gold Label (Blended Irish Whiskey) -1
Powers slips to tenth.  Things are getting closer in the 11th and 12th spots.  A new entry may rise bythe end of next month.

#9  The Macallan 18-year-old Single Malt -1
"My cat's breath smells like cat food." -- Ralph Wiggum

#8  Millstone 8-year-old French Oak, Dutch Single Malt +2
Its slow results the previous week were reversed as more people are clicking for windmill pics.

#7  The Macallan 12-year-old Single Malt -2
Oof.  Mac12 slips.  Results are very close between 9th and 6th place, so there may be a lot of movement between those slots.

#6  Lauder's Blended Scotch Whisky +1
Lauder's ascends again, for reasons totally unknown.

#5 Chivas Regal 12-year-old Blended Scotch Whisky +1
Not only did it challenge fifth place, it is now significantly ahead of any challengers.  Though it'll be some time before it reaches #4.

#4  J&B Rare Blended Scotch Whisky NC
This one's staying put for a while.

#3  The Glenlivet 15-year-old French Oak Reserve Single Malt NC
She'll be treading water for the foreseeable future.

#2  The Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky NC
The answer to last week's question.  The Grouse is the Thunder, not the Heat.

#1  Glenfiddich 12-year-old Single Malt NC
Glenfiddich's second wind continues as it separates itself considerably from #2.


Bulleit Rye Whiskey zooms up 13 rankings, landing at #38
Strathisla 12-year-old Single Malt zips up 9 spots, now at #36
Powers 12-year-old Special Reserve also jumps 9, now at #41
Michael Collins Irish Blended Whiskey hops up 7 spots to #35
Kilchoman Summer 2010 Release Single Malt (hooray!) jumps 6 spots, landing in 29th
Glen Spey 21-year-old 1988 Single Malt (hooray!) jumps 5 spots to 23rd

Bad week for Vegas and Laphroaig
Vegas 2012 edition, part 1 of 4 drops 7 spots to #46
Vegas 2012 edition, part 3 of 4 (includes, amongst others, a Laphroaig) falls 7 levels, now at #47
Laphroaig 18-year-old Single Malt drops 6 rankings, landing at #31
Blanton's Single Barrel Bourbon dips 6 spots to #32
Laphroaig Quarter Cask Single Malt falls 6 spots, knocking it the edge of the top 50.  A damn shame because it's a spectacular whisky.

The Top Twenty is a great mix of whiskies.  In order:  Scotch single malt, American rye, Scotch blend, Canadian blend, Scotch single malt, Japanese single malt, Scotch blend, Scotch "vatted" blended malt, Irish blend, Scotch single malts.

As may be derived from the standings and movers data from the the last few weeks, the Top Ten and Top Twenty are stabilizing.  Most of the extreme Ups and Downs happen in the lower rankings due to how closely they sit, view-wise.

Predictions?  That won't change much next week.  Though it would be nice to see a strong rookie or one of the Top Twenty surge up to break through the Big Ten.

Thanks again to you all!  I'll be back next week with some good 'uns.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Night

Had a odd turn of events in my personal life...

So I decided to do an Ardbeg Taste Off

It vaporized all Sense and Reason

Once I figure out how to frame this in complete thoughts the reports will be promptly posted.

Seriously, Shabbat Shalom.

Happy Friday!

Woke up at 6am this morning to go for a run.


How'd I ever do this every morning for three years?

After that, I've got nothing left today, so here's the week's recap.
  1. Wedding anniversary
  2. Kitchen remodling finished
  3. Guests from Sweden stayed with us for three nights.  With baby!
  4. Interview with employment agency.
  5. Started running again. (See above)
  6. Basketball season over.
  7. No new Mad Men. :-(
  8. Still not paying attention to the election.
  9. A truck driver was sentenced to a six-month prison sentence for stealing 180 bottles of Hankey Bannister.  Why?  Just make him drink the Hankey.  That's punishment enough.
  10. Zing!
  11. And finally, I'm starting to thin out the collection of DVDs I've amassed over the years.  Have plucked 20+ of 'em from the bunch.  May rid myself of more.  If I could sell off my CD collection, I'd do so as well.  Too bad I threw away everything except the discs.  Craigslist here I come!
Finally, may all your weekends be like this:

GREAT beer. (Source)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Single Malt Report: Oban 14 year old

Distillery: Oban
Ownership: Diageo
Age: minimum 14 years
Maturation: refill American oak hogsheads
Region: Western Highlands
Alcohol by Volume: 43%

Oban 14 has long been a favorite of mine.  Once I'd tried the Johnnie Walkers, the Glenfiddichs, the Glenlivets, the Glenmorangies, and The Macallan 12, my next step was Oban.  My fall down the single malt rabbit hole quickened from there.

I've probably bought more bottles of Oban 14 than any other single, despite its often unfortunate pricing.  My current bottle came from an unanticipated purchase last December when I found a bottle that was considerably mispriced.  Sadly that liquor establishment has since learned of and corrected its error.

I opened the bottle more than a month ago and have since been trying to figure out how to report on it.  I mean, I am so familiar with the whisky that taking tasting notes became a profound challenge.

It's like trying to describe the sky......It's blue and it's up there.


Unlike the sky, Oban 14 isn't blue, but its color is screwy.  Here's a crummy picture that I took yesterday of the liquor in the bottle:

That's the color.  To establish why it is "screwy", let me take a step back and explain the whisky a bit.

The Oban spirit is not aged in ex-sherry casks which provide dark maple syrupy and reddish hues.  It is not aged in first-fill bourbon barrels that provide light golden tones.  Instead it is aged in hogsheads (more than 50% larger than normal bourbon barrels) that have previously held maturing whisky.

So the whisky doesn't have an enormous amount of contact with the oak.  The oak's tannins have been previously incorporated into other whisky.  And the spirit hasn't aged that long in the oak to withdraw darker tones.

So the color should be even lighter than Laphroaig 10's.  Something along the lines of chardonnay with the faintest gold highlights.

Now take a look at that color in the photo above.  That pigment is due to a heapin' helpin' of artificial coloring, aka caramel e150a.  Diageo adds the coloring because it makes the whisky look lovely.  But it's an industrially-designed food additive.

There's a debate in the whisky community about whether or not this dye can be tasted in the palate.  I personally don't know.  It just bugs me because the colorant is unnecessary.  It's like a beautiful young woman getting botox treatment.  You don't need it, Baby, you're gorgeous already!


Here's where I get back to the good news.  Because the oak isn't bourbony or sherried, because the oak has been previously used, what we taste and smell when we sip Oban neat is (mostly) the spirit itself.  There are some oak notes and water has been added to bring the whisky down to 43% ABV, but that salty peppery creaminess is its very malt.  The sturdy spirit not only survives the colorant and filtration and water but it thrives.

Some notes:

The nose is salt & malt first.  A little oak, but no bourbon.  A bit of an ethyl prickle.  Salted caramel candies.  Not quite a whisper of smoke, but rather a memory of smoke.  And if you let it sit for a while, an oaky buttery note does form.

The palate is sweet on the start.  Caramel (the sauce, not the colorant).  Toffee.  Apple flesh.  Salty, but within reason.  Pepper rather than smoke.  Substantial creamy texture.  So adding that all up (salt + caramel + cream), it's almost dulce de leche, but also totally not dulce de leche.  Let's just go with the salted caramel candy.

WITH WATER (approx 35% ABV)
The nose logically gets lighter.  Very malty and bready.  A little oak develops with time.  Some gin-like herbals.  And if you sniff really deeply you may find some fruity sweets in there.

The palate becomes very fresh and clean.  Creamier, fruitier.  Less of the salted caramel.  A hint of notebook paper.  But the spritely malt spirit remains.


Yes, I left the finish out of the notes above.  Why?

I once heard two women moan when the Oban finish hit.  Yes, the good kind of moan.


Oh, so you want actual finish notes?  Here's some vagueness for you.  When neat, Oban 14 has a very hearty finish.  Sweet but not saccharine.  Feels like the natural sugars from the malted grain.  And it lingers for a good amount of time.  Adding water quiets it down, bringing out some of the saltiness.  But the sweet note still lingers on.


I'd last tried Oban 14 several months before I started these single malt reports.  So there's been a considerable amount of whisky sampling since.  My experience hasn't necessarily lowered Oban 14 in my esteem, just changed it a bit, laterally.

I love experiencing its coastal spirit.  That finish is terribly enjoyable.  And the whisky is like an old (inanimate) friend.  But I have found others.  Other grand spirits, some challenging some easy some warming some thrilling.  So when my Diageo boycott begins next summer, I will be ready to move on.

But maybe one more bottle before then.

Availability - All liquor specialists
Pricing - Not great.  Clynelish 14 (another Diageo single) is $10-$20 cheaper.  If you can find Oban at $60 or less, grab one.  If you find it for more than $70, look elsewhere.
Rating - 88

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wedding Anniversary 02

Two years ago today.

Kristen and I really only celebrate our anniversary on March 13th, the start of our relationship.  Last year, it seemed odd to hit the reset button after seven full years together.  But June 20, 2010 was the most joyous day we've shared, especially since we were able to experience it with so many loved ones.

Life has been a trip ever since.  I'm forever blessed to be sharing this adventure with her.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Single Malt Report: Oban 18 year old (2008 release)

Ownership: Diageo
Age: minimum 18 years
Maturation: refill American Oak ex-bourbon hogsheads
Region: Western Highlands
Alcohol by Volume: 43%
Limited Bottling: 1315 out of 8778

Ah yes, Oban, the odd little gem sitting at the southwest tip of the Highlands, overlooking the lochs near the isles of Mull and Jura.  It's Diageo's second smallest distillery (capacity 670,000 liters).  And despite Diageo's claims that their company is not in the business of making single malts, all of Oban's malt whisky goes into......single malts.  And it's a good thing too.  Of all Diageo's single malts, Oban is their best seller in the United States.

But enough about the Imperial Empire, let's talk about this rebel.


In a small town bearing the same name, the Oban distillery faces the loch inlets from the ocean.  Some believe that's where its malts' oft salty character comes from.  Its water sources run through mossy hills which may provide the faint peaty note that some folks pick up in the whisky.  Oban matures its spirit in refill American hogsheads, which are more than 50% larger than regular bourbon barrels, but half the size of sherry butts.

The distillery was founded in 1794 by John and Hugh Stevenson. It was originally established to be a brewery the year before, but quickly switched to whiskymaking. The town of Oban, built up around the distillery, stayed tiny until it grew into a major port and railroad center in the late 1800s.

Oban distillery stayed in the Stevenson family until 1866, when it was purchased by Peter Cumstie.  Then after buying Oban in 1883, James Walter Higgins gradually dismantled and reconstructed the distillery without much of a pause in production.  In 1898 a consortium, which included future jailbirds The Brothers Pattison, took over.  After the consortium went under, Buchanan-Dewar bought what remained (including Oban) in 1923.  Buchanan-Dewar later became part of Distillers Company Limited, which in turn became part of Diageo several decades later.

In 1979, Oban released a 12 year old single malt.  In 1988, their main malt became the 14-year.  A limited cask strength 32-year was released in 2002, then a very limited cask-strength 20-year followed in 2004.  A fino sherry-finished distiller's edition (reviewed briefly here) comes out semi-annually.


In 2008, Oban released this 18 year old exclusively within the US market.  There were 8,778 bottles in the batch and (a bit curiously) it's still relatively easy to find in the LA liquor specialist shops.

From the moment I'd heard of it, I was pretty excited to try this one.  I was even considering saving my pennies to buy a bottle outright...

But on Robert Burns Day (January 25th) this year, I found myself at The Daily Pint.  And at The Daily Pint, I found a bottle of Oban 18 year.  A full, unopened bottle.  I paid a bit of a premium for the pour, but it was the freshest drop in the bottle (and it could save me $$$ in the long run).

Since I'm VERY familiar with its younger brother, I found myself making mental comparisons between the two quite a bit.

Color-wise, it's where light copper meets apple juice.  A little caramel e150, perhaps?  The nose is dusty, musty, musky, with bourbon / oak sweetness.  There's some citrus (more grapefruit than orange) throughout, with a maple syrup note after a long wait.  The palate is very mild and smooth -- apple juicey, malty, with vanilla and hay.  Its finish changes character into cream and coconut milk with vanilla custard.

The nose sheds most of its characteristics retaining bourbon oak and malty notes.  The vanilla pudding note enters the palate along with some molasses amongst the creamy texture.  The finish remains the same.

It's quite the polite teenager.  Very mellow.  Aficionados may even consider it an aperitif.  It's an easier malt than the 14-year, with the younger sibling's saltier edges mellowed by four more years in wood.

If you like Oban 14, then you'll probably like this.  If you like challenging or intense whiskies, then this might seem too quiet and (almost!) Lowland-like.  As far as my tastes go, I have similar feelings towards this whisky as I had to the Laphroaig 18yr versus its younger brethren.  The 18-years both have a genial grace, but I prefer the strong character of the younger malts.

That does not make this a lesser malt.  In fact, it's damned delicious and can be found at a reasonable price.  It all depends on palate preference.

Availability - Some liquor specialists (US only)
Pricing - Excellent! at $80, still pretty decent at $100
Rating - 86

This THURSDAY, I'll be posting about a single malt that has garnered four separate report requests.  I'll leave it a mystery for now, but there were plenty of hints in today's post...

Monday, June 18, 2012

We're back home

We're back home after our 4-hour flight was delayed 4 hours.  A sour ending to an otherwise sweet trip to Ohio (Kristen's homeland).  There was the lovely wedding of Sarah and Jim.  Lots of eats and family time.  Dancing and naps.  And more than a couple beverages.

On the flight out, United provided a surprise by offering Jim Beam Black, rather than the classic bottling.  I did a brief post here, though not much to report due to my limited senses.

Once on the ground, there was A LOT of Yuengling.

Yuengling like a boss.
I'm uncertain if it's delicious because it tastes good or if it's delicious because it isn't sold West of the Mississip.  Either way, it's delicious.

Then at the wedding, the catering company threw me for a loop by carrying this:

White Horse!  Hard to find.  Never tried.  Always wanted to.

I had to keep the whisky inflow to a minimum that night since I was the D.D.  I sampled it neat and with soda.  In a nutshell:  White Horse = Baby Lagavulin surviving a near drowning in sweet grain whisky.  I liked it, but I was probably the only one who did.

After transporting my crew back to the hotel (post-wedding), I was gifted a Revised (Beam-less) Three Wise Men:  Jack, Jameson, and Johnnie.  Many many many thanks to my brother-in-law Andrew!  The wisdom was washed down with...

Oh yeah.
Yesterday, during the epic airport delay, I tried the Lake Erie Monster from Great Lakes Brewing Co.  At 9.1% ABV, the 20 ounce serving sent me on a one hour time warp.  I don't know what happened.  It was that good.

Thanks to my Ace of a wife, we were upgraded to First Class (yay!).  Upon lift off, I discovered United carried Canadian Club Reserve 10yr!  I think it was good, but again it was difficult to tell with air-travel-affected senses.  It was, at the very least, better than then Beam Black.

Yeah, this post turned out to be all about drinking again.  But I have nothing new to say about the air travel industry, which seems to be the one business that's been getting less efficient as time goes by and technology improves.  And all of my wedding pictures were blurry like this one:

Which is too bad because everyone looked beautiful.  Especially me.

So we're back now.  It was lovely to see everyone.  We had a GREAT time.  Now we return to our almost-completely fixed-up home.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Single Malt Report Standings as of June 16, 2012

It's Standings Saturday!  Chivas continues its climb up the list, pushing The Singleton off...

(My methodology uses pageview counts from three different sources in an attempt to suss out which posts are spammer heavy and which ones are getting the real clicky traffic.  Then I apply a very (not) sophisticated algorithm.  And from that I get a Top Ten.)

SINGLE MALT REPORT STANDINGS AS OF 6/16/2012 (out of 75 posts):

#10  Millstone 8-year-old French Oak, Dutch Single Malt -1
Millstone's climb may have ended.  Its clicks have quieted down as new reports climb the list.

#9 Powers Gold Label (Blended Irish Whiskey) +1
A decent week for Powers brings it very close to #8.

#8  The Macallan 18-year-old Single Malt NC
"My cat's breath smells like cat food." -- Ralph Wiggum

#7  Lauder's Blended Scotch Whisky -1
Lauders ascent has slowed as well.  It was a favorite for spammers last month which may have help get it all the way up to this point.

#6 Chivas Regal 12-year-old Blended Scotch Whisky +11
The new hotness.  How high it climbs, no one knows.  But it may challenge Mac 12 before next week is over.

#5  The Macallan 12-year-old Single Malt NC
Another quiet week for Mac12.  The Lauders challenge faded, but now Chivas rises.

#4  J&B Rare Blended Scotch Whisky NC
A healthy week puts it far ahead of #5.

#3  The Glenlivet 15-year-old French Oak Reserve Single Malt NC
She's be treading water for the forseeable future.

#2  The Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky NC
The Grouse got within a handful of views of first place before it FINALLY slowed.  But this isn't the last challenge of The Grouse.  The question is, Is it the Thunder or the Heat of the report race?

#1  Glenfiddich 12-year-old Single Malt NC
Just as the reigning champ was about to be unseated on Wednesday by the feisty blend, Glenfiddich found its second wind and pulled away just as the challenger slowed.


Springbank Springbreak Part 1 jumped 15 spots up to #21.  Random, but awesome!
Kilchoman Summer 2010 hopped up 14 places to #35.  A great single malt, that one.
Chivas moved up 11 spots, as noted above.
Cutty Sark moved north 8 spots to #19.  Why?

No one with significant drops this week.

The Top Five will be challenged by Chivas.  But no one new will break into the Top Ten.  Though, I something good proves me wrong.

If this post seemed clipped, it's 'cuz I'm traveling today.  So, thank you for reading!   I'll see you next week.

Friday, June 15, 2012

On the plane

Here I am pondering Jim Beam Black 8yr Bourbon like the Prince of Denmark with Yorick's skull.
No official report on this one, though. Due to heavy white noise and low humidity, the olfactory sense is compromised during air travel.

A sip of Black Jim neat brought a note of pencils (wood and lead) dipped in corn syrup. So I made a highball with it and called it a day.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Single Malt Report: Ardmore Traditional Cask Single Malt

(Apologies for typos! In a rush to get to the airport today...)

Distillery: Ardmore
Bottling: Traditional Cask
Ownership: Beam, Inc.
Age: 7 to 14 years (including one quarter cask year)
Maturation: American Oak ex-bourbon barrels then quarter casks
Region: Highlands
Alcohol by Volume: 46%

Most casual whisky drinkers haven't heard of the Ardmore distillery, though many of them have enjoyed its malt.  The vast majority of Ardmore's whisky ends up in Teachers Highland Cream Scotch Whisky (one of the best selling blends in the world) where it's the main malt ingredient.   

In 1999, to honor the 100th anniversary of the distillery's opening, Ardmore (via Allied Domecq) began wide releases of their single malts.  In 2005, Beam Inc purchased Teachers, Ardmore, and Laphroaig, and have since allowed these brands to continue producing whisky the same as they had before.

Ardmore's single malts may throw some folks for a loop.  They may be expecting a Highland malt like Glendronach or Glen Garioch (its neighbors), with a fruity smokeless spirit.  But what they'll get is a solidly peated savory wallop, reminiscent of Islay malts.

Ardmore distillers have been peating their malt since the production began almost 115 years ago.  So they've kept the old-school Highland barley malt peat-drying method while most of Scotland went with more contemporary fuels.  The peat levels (12-14ppm) are 1/2 or 1/3 that of the Islay peat sluggers, but Ardmore also uses a local Highland peat that differs in structure and scent to that of the island peat.  (That was four peats in one sentence.  Do I win an award?  Peat.)

Like Beam's other single malt, Laphroaig, Ardmore produces this quarter cask bottling amongst their range.  It spends most of its time in ex-bourbon barrels.  Then the malt is dumped into a massive vat, mixed together, then re-racked into considerably smaller barrels (the quarter casks).  These casks allow more spirit-to-wood contact that changes the maturation rate and brings out all sorts of different characteristics.  (I have more info on this process in my Laphroaig Quarter Cask post.)  They've bottled the whisky at a good 46% ABV and have left non-chillfiltered.

I mentioned this whisky in an earlier post and was happily surprised by it.  I had an opportunity to try it again at a local pub for more in-depth analysis, at a reasonable price.


Color -- A lovely dark gold
Nose -- Peated cookie dough, peanuts, apple juice, salty, burnt wood
Palate -- Coastal but not seaweedy, vegetal peat, fruity but not sweet, salted marshmallows
Finish -- Nice!, touch of fruit, peat mellows down, coastal salt, splendid!

Color -- Nice to see it oil up!  Proves the happy lack of filtration.
Nose -- Peated matzos (yes indeed), fresh cherrries, toasty wood
Palate -- Gets sweeter and lightens up, molasses and peat combo
Finish -- Still good, the sweet and peat linger on

I can schpiel on and on about the distillery and history and production methods, but what I really need to say is:  This is good stuff at a good price.

If you like Ardbeg, Laphroaig, and Lagavulin this may be the Highlander for you.  It's similar enough to be comparable, but different enough to be a unique experience.

If you're on the fence about the big Islay peat stew, this may be more your style.  The smoke is woodier, the peat is more vegetal than seaweed.  And there aren't any band-aids.

Ultimately, this whisky is a bit of a hidden beauty that I hope more people discover.

Availability - Many liquor stores
Pricing - Excellent at $36-$43
Rating - 88 (my re-review two years later resulted in an 83)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Some site 'scaping

As promised, I've added a whisky resource page full of links to the sites that I pour over on a (much too) frequent basis.  Clicking those links will bring you blogs, videos, podcasts, news, facts, opinions, and whisky.

I've added Pinterest and Twootter buttons too.  Kristen LOVES Pinterest, so I thought I'd utilize it to chronicle personal whisky choices.

Otherwise, I did some cleanup on the right side of the page.  If I've left out anything of interest, drop me a line and I'll try to add it!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

NOT Single Malt Report: Bulleit Rye and an unknown bourbon

Bottler: Bulleit
Distiller: Lawrenceburg Distillers Indiana (LDI)
Ownership: Diageo
Age: 5 to 7 years
Maturation: Virgin American Oak
Mash Bill: 95% Rye, 5% malted barley
Region: Indiana, USA
Alcohol by Volume: 45%

Quicker liquor info!

Mash Bill (or grain bill) - the proportion/percentages of grains used to form the mash (with boiling water), which in turn creates the liquid that holds the future whiskey's fermentable sugars.

Bourbon must have a mash bill of at least 51% corn.

American Rye Whiskey must have a mash bill of at least 51% rye.

American Small Batch Whiskey must have a mash bill of at least 80% rye.

As mentioned in my vacation post a few weeks back, Kristen and I went to Birba for our first dinner in Palm Springs.  Birba's a great wide open wall-less roof-less restaurant with great food and a respectable bar.  Kristen started out with a Lambrusco which was an excellent call for a warm summer night.  I saw  a bunch of interesting American whiskies on the shelf...

Tom Bulleit & family make a bourbon that's known for having a high rye mash bill (28%-33%) and when I'd tried it in December, I found it more than palatable.  Bulleit released a rye whiskey in 2011 and it's NINETY-FIVE percent rye.  That is very high.  And my oh my, I like me some rye.

So I went with the Bulleit Rye Whiskey, neat.  How did I feel about it?  This:

As you can see from the two pics on this post, the whiskey's color is lovely, like a rich maple syrup.  The nose is more complex than the flavor, a characteristic similar to many Scotch single malts.  This rye smells of bananas, molasses, cloves, flower blossoms, nutmeg, Christmas spices, and good fresh ripe apples.  The palate is both vegetal and fruity, with caramel sauce, cloves, cinnamon, and Robotussin (but in a good way).  It finishes strong, with cinnamon and more Robotussin.

It won't melt your brain like the Willett Single Barrels (yes, they really do that).  But it's still quite delicious and, considering its price range, a super value.  Trader Joe's is selling the bottle for $19.99, so this will probably be the next rye I own.

Availability - Wide (U.S.)
Pricing - Excellent at $20-$25
Rating - 84

After the meal, Kristen went for another glass of the Lambrusco while I decided to FINALLY try some Buffalo Trace.  It's an affordable bourbon from a major power player in the whiskey industry.

What the waiter brought me was a luscious rye-heavy bourbon.  But it was not Buffalo Trace.  Trace is known to have a low rye mash bill (about five to eight percent).  So, I'm not sure what it was that I drank.  But it was very good.

Here are my notes anyway...

The color was a smidgen lighter than the rye, though it was nighttime and it could have been orange, red, and purple for all I know.  The nose: "spritely rye tempered by milder grains like corn & barley, a little grassier, saltier".  As for the palate, it was BIG on rye, with a rush of sweetness (intense but within reason), and "bright and lively around the edges".  It finished sweet and buttery, very lengthy, with more rye.

After perusing other folks' tasting notes and considering my drink's rye-ness, I've come to the conclusion that I still have yet to try Buffalo Trace.  And it wasn't quite Bulleit Bourbon either.  Whatever I did have that night was nice, though it shall remain shrouded in mystery...

Monday, June 11, 2012

10,000 views!? Whut?

Around the time I was composing Saturday's post, Diving for Pearls had its 10,000th pageview.
10,000 pageviews from at least 1,114 cities and 92 countries.

Yeah, seriously.  And this was my reaction all weekend:

Ah yes, these two pics should garner me another 10K+ views...
Here's a quick statistical breakdown of the views:

The clicks during my first go at the blog in '07-'08 make up about 16% of the total.
During my 3-year absence, devoted readers and lost Google searchers nabbed 4% of the total.
Since I've restarted the blog, the last 7.5 months make up more than 79% of the views.

In fact, the views over the last 10 weeks alone make up almost 55% of the 10K+.

Russian spammers: 7%.  Thanks robo-comrades!  I've enjoyed all of your nonsense spam comments.

European continent (non-spam): 17%
African continent: 0.5%  --  Come on, Africa!

The Top Ten Countries by Pageviews:
1. United States of America (69%!)
2. United Kingdom
3. Canada
4. Brazil
5. India
6. Sweden
7. Poland
8. Germany
9. Australia
10. Netherlands
All of these are whisky-loving nations.  Coincidence?

Speaking of whisky, my whisky posts make up only 38% of the total views (or 45% since I restarted the blog), so I need to make sure Diving for Pearls doesn't get as obsessed as I with the usquebaugh.

Between now and the next 10K, I'll be adding a couple of items.  Firstly, before this week is over you should see a new Page on the right side of the blog page called Whisky Resources.  The page will list my favorite whisky sites -- blogs, journals, companies, and stores.  Online whisky resources have become vast; one just needs to know where to look, so I'll try to help with that.

Secondly, I WISH I could post more single malt reports, but they cost $$$.  Or rather, the whisky costs $$$.  At this point, I'll keep doing 2 reports a week -- unless I'm travelling or there's a special occasion.

Stay tuned for more home renovation posts this summer.  We've been in tear-down/build-up mode for two months.  Hopefully our pictures will be able to tell a good story.

Finally, the writer will likely need to get an actual day job since the screenwriting experience has been bit more pro bono than I would have preferred.  When that day comes, I hope to be able to share the experience here without torching every bridge I've built.

Until then...

There will be some whiskEy written up on the blog tomorrow.  And good cheap stuff at that.  The whiskey, not the writing, I mean.  The writing is expensive and hideous.  ;-)   And utilizes emoticons.

Thanks again for stopping by!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Single Malt Report Standings as of June 9, 2012

The attack of the blends has begun.  Lauder's and Famous Grouse pageviews are soaring.  The Chivas versus Black Label post has a huge debut.  And Tullamore Dew surges...

(My methodology uses pageview counts from three different sources in an attempt to suss out which posts are spammer heavy and which ones are getting the real clicky traffic.  Then I apply a very (not) sophisticated algorithm.  And from that I get a Top Ten.)

SINGLE MALT REPORT STANDINGS AS OF 6/9/2012 (out of 73 posts):

#10  Powers Gold Label (Blended Irish Whiskey) -2
A slow week for John Powers on the blog.  But not at home!  I finished off my bottle with two small sips last night.  What will replace it???  Possibly something I haven't yet reviewed......

#9  Millstone 8-year-old French Oak, Dutch Single Malt NC
No change for Millstone.  The Google image SEO for windmills has liked moved on to other sites, possibly the same ones that use the very images from this blog.  Just passin' the windmill love along.

#8  The Macallan 18-year-old Single Malt -1
"My cat's breath smells like cat food." -- Ralph Wiggum

#7  The Singleton of Glendullan Single Malt -1
This one used to be #2.  I wouldn't be surprised if this one gradually makes its way out of the Top Ten, unless there's a sudden burst of The Singleton excitement.  But "excitement" and "The Singleton" rarely appear in the same sentence.

#6  Lauder's Blended Scotch Whisky +4
I bought this $1.49 mini on a whim, so this one sprung up the list with more verve than I'd expected.  There's a deficiency of Lauder's reviews online.  I guess I'm glad I filled that gap......

#5  The Macallan 12-year-old Single Malt NC
A quiet week for Mac12.  At this rate, it may lose its spot to Lauder's.  How odd is that?

#4  J&B Rare Blended Scotch Whisky NC
A renewed verve for Diageo's J&B pushed it far ahead of Macallan 12yr.  But the top three are so far ahead that this one has some work to do to catch up.

#3  The Glenlivet 15-year-old French Oak Reserve Single Malt -1
The 'livet is no longer just a bridesmaid.  It's a flower girl.  I don't know what that means.

#2  The Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky +1
Are we looking at the future King of the Reports?  People REALLY desire Grouse images.  This week it averaged a click every 45 minutes.

#1  Glenfiddich 12-year-old Single Malt NC
So, last week I dared any report to try to unseat the champ.  At the current rate, The Grouse would do so by July.  I did not expect that.


Chivas Regal 12-year-old Blended Scotch Whisky (aka Chivas 12yr versus Black Label) debuted at #17 this week.  I'm anticipating that this will be in the Top Five before the month is over.


Tullamore Dew Irish Blended Whiskey jumped 27 spots, from #46 to #19.  This one may float around the Top Ten some day soon.
Vegas 2012 edition (Part 2 of 4) hopped 8 spots, from #36 to #28.  All of those Vegas entries were a joy to write even though I was bedridden with a Vegas-inspired respiratory infection that week.
Hankey Bannister Original Blended Scotch Whisky jumped 8 spots, from #43 to #35.  Not sure how much higher this one will go.

Glenmorangie Nectar D'Or Single Malt fell 13 spots, from #33 to #46
The Glenrothes 1998 Single Malt dropped 12 spots, from #32 to #44
Michael Collins Irish Blended Whiskey toppled 12, from #31 to #43
Though it appears as if the 31-33 rankings are just bad luck, the real culprit for the drops was ...... not a single view for these three reports.  That is certain to allow everyone else to push ahead.


Other than Chivas, nothing else new will crack the Top Ten.  There's a healthy buffer between #10 and #11......unless anyone wants to click Willett 5-year (#14) a few extra times to screw up my system.  :)

Thanks again to all of you fine readers!  More to fun to follow on Monday!