...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Single Malt Report: Trader Joe's Irish Single Malt

When we lived in Maryland, I was disappointed to discover that their Trader Joe's (TJ's) grocers were not allowed to sell alcohol.  It was difficult to describe to Marylanders how agreeable TJ's booze pricing can be.  And I am not talking about Two Buck Chuck.  That doesn't count.

Now I'm back in Cali.  And TJ's now has a well-chosen selection of whiskies -- Dalwhinnie 15, Balvenie Doublewood, Glenfiddich 12 & 15, Macallan 10 Fine Oak, Laphroaig 10, etc.  They also have their own label of Scotch whisky, though the quality of those have been mixed at best.

This year, much to my (and many others') surprise, a Trader Joe's Irish Single Malt suddenly appeared on the shelves.  Somehow TJ's had successfully contracted with Cooley Distillery to bottle some of their 4-year-old juice under the store's label.  At a price of $19.99.

New whisky at that price is difficult to pass up.  In LA, $19.99 is less than two glasses of mid-shelf booze at a bar.  For a whole bottle of something new, an IRISH single malt no less...

It's half full!
Label: Trader Joes
Type: Single Malt
Region: Ireland (Louth)
Age: minimum 4 years
Maturation: "single use bourbon oak casks"
Alcohol by Volume: 40%

It was a bold move by TJ's to go with an Irish single malt, something not very familiar with the average drinker in The States.  And I use the word "was" because now that Beam Inc has taken over Cooley and announced that most of their independent contracts will not be renewed, we may not see this whiskey for much longer.

It's also a bold choice because the nose and palate of this whiskey is quite different than the usual Irish blend or Scotch single malt.  It's sorta its own soup.

Sku and the guys at L.A.W.S. gave this decent reviews.  And I'm going to agree with Sku, though the bottle says this is only matured in bourbon casks, there is undoubtedly sherry stuff in here.

At first sips, this one was a puzzler.  I couldn't get my mind around it.  But with some oxygen and time, it has improved and I've had better luck cracking the malt.

Color - light amber
Nose - sandy and/or dusty, teeny bit of smoke, smoky butter?, old notebook paper, winey tannins, hints of a sweet sherry and dried fruit
Palate - lots of cocoa, cloves, sweet malt, oak tannins, very drying
Finish - still very drying, mildly flat, cocoa

WITH WATER (near 33%ABV)
Nose - gets sugarier, some coconut oak stuff, starts to sniff more like a good blend
Palate - less cocoa but more vanilla, a little smoke, very oily and silky texture, still quite drying
Finish - goes weird here, a brief bitter vegetal vanilla puff

Though I don't recommend adding a few drips of water, this whiskey actually makes for a pretty good highball as the club soda brings out the palate's sweetness.

To be honest, I haven't been the biggest fan of Cooley's Irish single malts.  I do like the Knappogue Castle 12yr and the Tyrconnell finishes, but their Connemara bottlings and indie spinoffs have underwhelmed me.  This one sits somewhere in the middle.

On one hand: I won't go back for a second bottle of this TJ's malt.  It makes me yearn for Irish single pot stills.

On the other hand:  Some people are enjoying it quite a bit.  If you like the Cooley malts, then this may be your jam.  And at the price, it's a rarity and not much of a risk.

Availability - Trader Joe's
Pricing - $19.99
Rating - 75

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Monday after Peetin' Meetin'

The LA Scotch Club's annual Peetin' Meetin' commenced this past Saturday.  I was present and am still in one solid piece.  There was great PEATED barbecue, rockin' live tunes by the Brick Top Blaggers, cocktails mixed by the Seven Grand bartenders, sunshine, spring water, and large quantities of phenolic restorative.

Because many of the 80-100 bottles are of cask strength, the opportunity to get dangerously drunk is ever-present at the fest, but all 130+ attendees were quite responsible with their intake.  That's not to say that any of us were sober at the end, but it was nice to see folks enjoying the evening without getting stupid.  Whisky is meant to be consumed, not vomited up.

I will attend again next year.  I encourage you to do so as well.

Here's that pic I posted on Saturday:
I'm pretty sure there were a few additional bottles, but it was pretty difficult to tell once the fun had begun.  Independent bottlings of Laphroaig were everywhere, actually there were tons of indies around which always makes Thekrav a happy boy.  Diageo, Ardbeg, and Duncan Taylor were there, pouring their goods.  The only bottling that I wanted to try but missed out on was the Octomore 2/140.  That went very very quickly.  And, apparently there was a 27yr Caol Ila from Duncan Taylor that was enjoyed with alacrity before I found the empty bottle.

But I don't regret a damned thing from that night.  I tried 13 whiskies, received a shirt and a dram glass, sang along to "The Wild Rover", met some great people, and departed the ceremony on my own two feet.  THANK YOU again to Kristen for providing transportation.

Here are my actual Peatin' Meetin' notes from my phone, only edited to fix damn-you-auto-correct, with post-Meetin' comments in italics.

Ardbeg Supernova 58.9%ABV - like the Ten but freaking enormous; salt, seaweed, black peat smoke on the nose; brown sugar with lemon zest and the peat hammer in the palate and finish.
Folks didn't seem to realize that this extremely scarce (in the US) bottling was there for the drinking, so I went back for two passes.  It felt like the Ten on 'roids, in a good way.  I would still choose Uigeadail and Corryvreckan over it.

Clear Creek McCarthy's Oregon Single Malt - young but calm, almost sleepy; forgot about it already; come on America!

I really want to like this three-year-old malt from Portland.  It's a from a small family business that imports peated Islay barley, then distills it and casks it in Oregon oak.  But maybe it just couldn't stand up next to the Supernova leviathan.  I understand that the aged spirits business is a tough one, but I wonder what the whiskey would be like if it had eight years in oak?  I'm willing to give this another try on its own someday.

SMWS 127.13 (Port Charlotte 8yrs) 65.7%ABV - medium-peat, hot, industrial tar and sap and smoke followed by a bright fruit explosion
A muscular crazy PC that would have benefitted from some added water.  Bruichladdich really has their peated spirit in good shape.

Longrow 14yr - farmyardy sooty on the nose, salted, smooth peat, i luv longrow
I do.  I love Longrow.  It can hold serve with the Islay monsters, but has a character all its own.  Serge V. found coal stoves and wet dogs in the nose; that I can understand.  On a side note, these aged Longrows are 30-40% cheaper in the UK and that's INCLUDING international shipping.

Lagavulin 16yr - cinammon brown sugar cognac sugared peat vanilla cake rubber tarry on the nose, smoke stronger on palate with some bright spices like clove, nice bitterness, soft texture, a little vegetal after some time, it's a little different every time I drink it
Lagavulin 16 is getting more mysterious each time I try it.  It's always enjoyable, but constantly reveals different palates with each tasting.  There were moments when the palate felt similar to Ardbeg, but that may have been a sensory hiccup.

Lagavulin 12yr 2009 release; 57.9%ABV - mint on palate, bourbon oak on nose, lots of oak but also lots of malt, lots of lots; vegetal peat, wood ashes, brown sugared peat, seaweed and coast on palate and finish
I really liked this one.  It had a significantly stronger ABV than the 16yr, but also had a more lively spirit.  A million miles from the welcoming soothing character of the 16, this whisky wants to pick a fight.

Caol Ila distillers edition (I think 2010) - a lot of people liked this one, i didn't; weird bitterness in the smoked finish, an odd sweetie otherwise
A Moscatel finish.  My nose and palate seem to reject most non-sherry wine finishes, including this one.  My opinion is probably not to be trusted on this whisky.

Caol Ila 12yr - toffee and peat on the palate, honey and apple juice but also a little gaseous on the nose, very drying but short finish
I dumped half of this sample into the grass, I'LL ADMIT IT NOW!  It wasn't bad, but it really can't dance next to the Lagavulins.

Ardmore 19yr 1992 Whisky Doris 49.6%ABV - **WINNER** - loveliest nose of the night: flower blossoms and citrus punch with oaky red starburst candy; palate starts mild then goes to a fruit tart, boozy ladyfingers, the fruit explosion lasts through the finish: oranges & peaches
I'm considering buying this one if I can pull together the cash.  I nosed this Ardmore for 20-25 minutes before sipping.  I went back for a second round just to try to figure out how to describe it.  Probably one of the best noses I've ever experienced.  But it was also my ninth whisky of the night.

Stellar phone photography courtesy of Me
SMWS 127.19 (Port Charlotte 9yr) - 66%ABV thus hot and spicy, also peat
Holy moley, this was a heater.  I don't even understand how they're delivering a 66%ABV liquid after nine years in a Scottish climate.  Heading into George T. Stagg territory with that ethyl.  This needs serious water to flush out its mysteries.

The Corryvreckan - because
it was there

Penderyn Peated Welsh Single Malt - piney, bland peat felt added, a pipsqueak next to The Corry and PCs.

Also had this alongside my second Ardmore pour.  I'm rooting for Welsh whisky, but I would actually trust their wine finishes over this.  Or maybe even their regular malt.

Brora 1972-1993 G&M's Connoisseur's Choice - @40% ABV insanely drinkable, peat beautifully integrated w/ the rest, all malt almost no oak, but a bit weak
This one...well...I wasn't supposed to have this one as it was only for members (though I'll be one soon). But I had it anyway. I will break rules for a Brora. Gordon & Macphail just updated their Connoisseur's Choice line so that it'll be 46%ABV and unchillfiltered going forward. Had this one been 46% and UCF, it would have easily made my all time top five. Alas it was stretched thin at 40%. Will I ever have another Brora opportunity? I hope so!

Because an event like this isn't the best atmosphere for full Single Malt Reports and ratings -- peat smoke, barbecue and food scents, cigars, cigarettes, fresh air!, and, you know, socializing.  But if I were to rank these, not including The Corryvreckan:

Ardmore 19yr 1992 Whisky Doris
Lagavulin 12yr 2009
Longrow 14yr
Lagavulin 16yr
Brora 1972-1993 G&M
Ardbeg Supernova
SMWS 127.13 (Port Charlotte 8yr)
SMWS 127.19 (Port Charlotte 9yr)
Caol Ila 12yr
McCarthy's Oregon Single Malt
Caol Ila distillers edition
Penderyn Peated

Yes, the Brora finished 5th out of 12.  Perhaps it was the 40% ABV, the chillfiltering, and almost twenty years in the bottle, but it felt like I was getting only a hint of the Brora spirit's greatness.

Otherwise, had I the $$$, I would purchase any of the top four.  If the planets align, I'd like to do proper reports at least six of the whiskies.  We'll see what the next year brings.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Peetin' Meetin' tonight

This appears to be what I am up against tonight.  Well, I and others.  A few others...

If you're looking for me, I'll be the guy passed out inside a bottle of Longrow.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Ramblings

Let's lead with the happy.  My favorite Got Milk commercial.

Dogs and peanut butter.  Call me a simple man, but that's enough to keep me watching this commercial repeatedly, twelve years later.

The Yankees traded for Ichiro Suzuki in one of the better WTF? transactions of recent memory.  Upon hearing the news, I immediately Facebooked that I was now going to watch a whole lot of baseball for the rest of the season.  The next day, Alex Rodriguez broke his hand and now I'm going to go back to not obsessively following baseball.  24 hours of intense fandom, over.

Mark Gillespie of Whiskycast wrote a good clear commentary on the Bruichladdich/Remy deal.

After reading it, yesterday, I came to a realization: The financial windfall for the distillery employees (who have been working their asses off for ten years for probably lower up-front pay) and their families is considerably more important to me as a human being, than a whisky brand losing its "independent" label.

Happy 10th birthday to Whiskyfun!  Serge writes my favorite whisky reviews, so I hope this is the first decade of many.

Jordan at Chemistry of the Cocktail just published an excellent post on the rising prices of the non-chillfitered higher-ABV single malts.

The rising single malt prices are beginning to aggravate me.  More to follow soon, as my full complaint is still in development status...

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Artist or Singin' in the Rain? Singin' in the Rain.

My Mac's Dictionary app has this entry for "trifle":

trifle |ˈtrīfəl|
1 a thing of little value or importance : we needn't trouble the headmaster over such trifles.
[in sing. ] a small amount of something : the thousand yen he'd paid seemed the merest trifle.
2 BRIT. a cold dessert of sponge cake and fruit covered with layers of custard, jelly, and cream.

Those are separate definitions.  The British definition (#2) can be for something that is very rich, delicious, and memorable.  The first (U.S.-specific) definition has a disposable connotation.
When we popped The Artist into the DVD player, I thought the film was going to be Definition #2 Trifle.  But instead it was a Definition #1 Trifle.

Though I am a silent film fan who hates musicals, I must say if you want to watch a film about a Douglas Fairbanks-type silent film actor who struggles with the transition to sound film while the perky ingenue he bumps into seems more suited than he to the new movies, rent Singin' in the Rain.
Also, Cyd Charisse
Singin' in the Rain is funny, very smart, post-modern before post-modernism, and always entertaining.  The Artist is about a man deeply blinded by his own misery and the woman who supposedly loves him but is at best a creepy stalker and at worst a succubus.  Without the cute dog, it would have been a melodrama, not a comedy.

Jean Dujardin's George Valentin goes from Fairbanks to self-pitying alcoholic John Gilbert so fast, that I'm not sure who "the artist" is actually supposed to be.  We see so little of Valentin's actual craft and so much his life's ruination that I'm not really sure if he's the artist in question.  He's also a thoroughly passive character allowing failure's quicksand to swallow him whole.  Singin' in the Rain's Don Lockwood is an active character; he may mull his failure for a bit and need a friend to give him a push, but he works to figure out how to salvage his career.  Thus Lockwood's art becomes the focus of Rain, while Valentin's emasculation is the focus of Artist.
Is Berenice Bejo's Peppy Miller supposed to be "the artist"?  As mentioned before, she ultimately comes across as uncomfortably pathological in her relationship with Valentin.  She watches his life fall apart, up close at times, then buys up ALL of his belongings and his right-hand man, Clifton.  And we're supposed to accept that as signs of human love and devotion?  Valentin's reaction to this unnerving discovery is completely understandable (though overly melodramatic with an inappropriate Hitchcock score theft).  I won't spoil what Valentin does, but let's just say it's not an act of loving acceptance.  So we know Peppy's a psychotic stalker, but is she an artist?  Her aggressive career advances lead her to superstardom, but -- because her screen performances are brushed by in quick montage -- we don't if she's devoted to her craft or just an excellent opportunist.
Ultimately, the Artist, or rather Artists, are the craftspeople behind the film.  The camerawork shines, the sets and costumes look lovely, the old Academy Ratio is much appreciated, the editing is solid, the symbolism (though occasionally heavy-handed) is enjoyable, and the music (aside from the Vertigo steal) is great silent film stuff.  It's very difficult to make a feature-length silent film in an age of noise, it's even more difficult to get something like that distributed widely, so big kudos to The Weinstein Company for putting their considerable heft behind it.

But when it comes to story and character, The Artist isn't a luxurious pleasure.  Peppy's obsessive fanaticism and Valentin's self-destruction are never reconciled and instead get wallpapered over with a quickie final scene that tends to no loose end.  Thus it became disposable to me once it was over.

Singin' in the Rain has a quickie ending too, but amongst all of the tremendous insider humor throughout the film, Don and Kathy scramble to address their challenges thus revealing layer upon layer of complex character traits.  And because they actually care about each other, they assist one another and work together when struggles befall them.

The Artist's characters don't.  She pities him while simultaneously building a shrine around his former self.  And he just pities himself.  So the happy ending either doesn't work or it's just another step in her obsession.  It's a mystery the film doesn't attempt to solve.  If the filmmakers treat this crux as "a thing of little value or importance", then this viewer will do the same with their art.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Single Malt Report: Cragganmore 20 year old 1991 Single Cask (Master of Malt)

Continuing with yesterday's theme of tastings gone awry, I present to you:

Product Link

Distillery: Cragganmore
Owner: Diageo
Independent Bottler: Master of Malt
Age: 20 years (March 1991 - March 2011)
Maturation: refill hogshead
Type: Single Malt
Alcohol by Volume: 54.2%
Cask: 1157
Limited Release: 274 bottles

This is likely a case wherein the whisky was fine, but the drinker's taste buds were not.  So, I'd best do some disclaimers here:

1.  Cragganmore distills a great spirit.

2.  Master of Malt is one of the best online whisky retailers.  Their Drinks by the Dram options have helped grandly expand my whisky world.

3.  Their own bottlings have been quite good so far and I hope they keep it going!

4.  Candidly, I probably flubbed this one.  No one else's reviews show the quirk that I experienced.  There just was a sensory misunderstanding between the malt and I.  My only defense is that this was about a year ago, before I'd even started the Single Malt Report postings.

Ruben of WhiskyNotes has a good review of it here.
The Casks has an in-depth write-up on it here.
Gal at WhiskyIsrael also has a very positive post on it here.

Compare their notes of malt, mint, flowers, juicy fruits, ginger, green tea, honey, and apples with.....um.....this:

Color -- Straw with a gold hue
Nose -- Alcohol-forward, apples, actual wood planks
Palate -- SALTY SALT, perfumed, caramel, salted caramel
Finish -- Alcohol heat on the gums, spicy and long

Nose -- More sugary, caramel chews, dried apricots, cherries, maybe a hint of vanilla?
Palate -- Oak, SALT
Finish -- Still hot and spicy, but now there's SALT in the finish

Water brought out the better nose characteristics.  But I had a difficult time finding the palate because...

I felt like a cow at the salt lick.

This isn't one of my prouder malt moments, but I want to make sure that I share both the clarity and confusion in my whisky journey.

As this tasting was done over a year ago, perhaps I can chalk it up to a newbie tasting fail.  I remember sitting there, staring at my Glencairn glass thinking, "Crap, I can't taste anything but table salt.  Is that vanilla?  No, that's more salt.  Fruit?  Nope, salt."  And because no one else online has noted sodium chloride...and the bottler does consistent good work...and the distillery makes good stuff......that leaves one party with the issue.

This sort of thing happens from time to time.  We aren't always in our best tasting shape, just like we're not always in our best biking shape or our best dancing shape.  A stuffy nose, allergies, exhaustion, or just lack of focus can effect how receptors transmit information to the brain.

So, this was probably a decent dram.  I encourage you to read the positive reviews that I linked to above.  The 700mL bottles are sold out, but the samples are still for sale here.  Master of Malt also put out a second Crag 1991 single cask release here.

I'll be reporting on another Master of Malt single cask release next week, and it's likely to be something quite different than this.  We can all hope, right.  ;-)

Availability - Master of Malt only, samples only
Pricing - Bottles have sold out, samples are 4.50GBP plus int'l shipping
Rating - 78

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

NOT Single Malt Report: Slane Castle Irish Blended Whiskey

Sometimes one's senses don't cooperate during a tasting.  Sometimes one gets a bad sample.  Sometimes the whisk(e)y was stored improperly or has been sitting at the bottom of a mostly empty bottle for years.

These variables often result in a less than optimal set of tasting notes.  There have been times that I've tasted something and went "What?"  Then I compare my notes to those of others who have tried the same drink......and it's as if we've tasted completely different whiskies.

Though the tasting experience is subjective, if I try a dram of Glen Garbage and discover notes of rotten milk and mercury while everyone else finds characteristics of dried fruits, chocolate, and mint, it's fair to say that I've experienced some level of a whiskey fail.

I feel like I'm mostly alone in my judgement of Hakushu 12yr.  I really wanted to love it, almost bought a bottle of it blind.  All the tasting notes I'd read online sounded quite nice.  But instead of nosing and tasting hints of citrus, lemongrass, licorice, vanilla, pepper, and flowers, what did I find?  Salty-beefy-cheesy farts.  And per my notes: "a watered-down Laphroaig 10 meets Glenfiddich 12 infused with a kitchen gas leak."

So there was a fail in there somewhere.  Maybe it was the sample.  Maybe it was me......or rather my senses -- I did not smell like salty-beefy-cheesy farts, I think.

I'm humbly posting two reports this week that I believe were examples of whisk(e)y fails.  Today, it's Irish, tomorrow it's Scottish.

Distillery: Cooley
Brand: Slane Castle
Type: Irish Blended Whiskey (single malt + grain)
Current Owner: Beam Inc.
Age: at least 4 years
Maturation: first fill ex-bourbon casks
Alcohol by Volume: 40%

Slane Castle is one of the several indie bottlings produced at Cooley Distillery.  With the recent Beam Inc. takeover, all or most of these indies will stop production as the new owners want to keep as much juice as possible for their major brands (Kilbeggan, Tyrconnell, and Connemara).  At the moment, Slane Castle is still for sale all over the US and their website is still active.

Drinkhacker liked it quite a bit.  John Hansell of Whisky Advocate wrote a pair of very positive reviews for this whiskey. He noted that it was full of "honeyed vanilla, soothing caramel, lively summer fruits, golden raisin, subtle date, and butter cookie" and that it was very drinkable.

Sounds yummy, right?  Especially for this blogger who loves him some Irish whiskey.

So I was able to get my hands on a pour of it while in San Diego this year.  Here's what I found:

Color -- Medium gold
Nose -- Clean oak, minerals, grain-HEAVY, ethyl, light manure, stale, (wife says it smells like tar fumes)
Palate -- plastic toys, both sugary sweet and vegetal, edamame, grassy
Finish -- Saccharine sweet

Nose -- Wet cardboard, fleshy, dirty underpants
Palate -- hay, paper, cream, light oak, cheap wine, weak
Finish -- hay & manure, zoo-ey, old moldy basement, Please will it ever stop?

Where are those butter cookies?  Lively summer fruits?

I'm a firm believer that a plastic toy or manure note can actually work well in a whisk(e)y or wine.  But whatever was going on here was just funk when integrated with my nostrils and tastebuds.  Looking at other reviewers' notes, it seems like we'd tried different booze.  They spoke of pleasurable drinking experiences and I (who have had more Irish whiskey than I can ever quantify) found the worst Irish porta-potty distillate I've yet tried.

Was it just me?  I don't know.  I'd had a Powers 12yr an hour earlier and that tasted fine.  Could the Slane bottle have been sitting open on the shelf since the whiskey arrived on US shores in July '09?  Possibly.

Either way, something went awry.

Availability - Some liquor specialists
Pricing - $25-$35
Rating - 65 (low rating may or may not be due to old stale bottling)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Bruichladdich-Rémy agreement completed

The Rémy Cointreau / Bruichladdich acquisition agreement is now official.

Mark Reynier, the financial saviour of Bruichladdich in 2000, and now the man who has taken the most abuse (by the always patient online vox populi) for being a sellout during the Rémy Cointreau negotiations has posted his explanation of the goings-on of his company's financial history.  It was up on the Bruichladdich site, then pulled "for clarifications".  It's an objective but bittersweet post.

The sale for 58M GBP is significantly more than most online guesses had been.  At $90,000,000, it's the highest amount ever paid for a Scotch whisky distillery.  Rémy says they won't cut any jobs.  In fact they're hoping to double production, thus creating local jobs.  Per Mr. Reynier's post: "As with other Rémy businesses, Bruichladdich will continue to be a stand-alone company, operated from Islay, with Islay maturation and Islay bottling."

Additionally, per the most recent Whiskycast, the distillery employees had been receiving company stock as part of their compensation; many stand to make six figures when the sale is complete.

Finally, Mr. Reynier, who has taken the brunt of the online "sellout" complaints, was the only board member to vote against the sale.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Single Malt Report Standings as of July 21, 2012

Let's check in on the standing after two weeks...

(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 7/7/2012 (out of 86 posts / 95 whiskies):

#10  Lauder's Blended Scotch Whisky NC

#9  Millstone 8-year-old French Oak, Dutch Single Malt -1
Lauder's and Millstone are almost tied now.  Macallan 12 has put some ground between itself and them.  So 10th place is essentially a battle between a post visited for its pictures of windmills and, um, Lauder's.

#8  The Macallan 12-year-old Single Malt +1
I finally got a prediction right.  As news about the future of the Macallan range spreads, so do the Macallan post views.  Mac 12 is now solidly in eighth.

#7 Powers Gold Label (Blended Irish Whiskey) NC
Again, Powers Gold keeps getting bushels of clicks.  That's okay with me.

#6  The Macallan 18-year-old Single Malt NC
This has gotten interesting.  Mac 18 is now almost tied with Chivas.  I thought Chivas would have taken the #4 spot by now, but it's likely to be kicked down to 6th by Mac 18 this week.

#5 Chivas Regal 12-year-old Blended Scotch Whisky NC
The Chivas excitement has been curbed.  After madly streaking like Frank the Tank, its views have mellowed out.  Its daily view average has dropped 65% in the past month.

#4  J&B Rare Blended Scotch Whisky NC
J&B's spot is secure, though it's entirely possible that Mac 18 will challenge it in August.

#3  The Glenlivet 15-year-old French Oak Reserve Single Malt NC
'Livet 15 is actually pulling better daily numbers than Famous Grouse but is so far behind that it'll be stuck here for a looooong time.

#2  The Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky NC
Views continue to slow but the Grouse's spot is secure.

#1  Glenfiddich 12-year-old Single Malt NC
Number one.  Carve it in stone.

(note: adjustments have been made to the Ardbeg Taste Off views since I discovered that three posts have been getting lots of spambot views)

Springbank Spring Break, Part 2 jumps up 9 spots to #39
Jameson Blended Irish Whiskey continues to climb, moving up another 7 to 31st place
Dewar's 12-year-old Special Reserve hops seven spots to #29.  Really, people?
Bulleit Rye Whiskey keeps movin' on up, this week it's 7 spots to 26th place.  That's a 25 ranking climb in four weeks.

No big drops this time.
Springbank Spring Break, Part 1 went the opposite direction of Part 2, dropping 5 places to #27
Bunnahabhain 12-year-old plops down 4 spaces to 24th
Macallan Cask Strength moves down 4 spots to #33
Blanton's Single Barrel Bourbon drops 4 to #35
Michael Collins Irish Blended Whiskey drops 4 places to 45th


As mentioned in the Movers note, there was a weird glut of hits on the three Ardbeg Taste Off posts that didn't show up on the more legitimate metrics measurements.  So I've handicapped their counts and will keep an eye on them.

There are two legitimate challengers to the Top Ten now.  I'm rooting for either of them to supplant Lauder's.  But I doubt that sort of change will occur before the next set of standings.

I'm predicting some moving and shaking amongst the Top Ten over the next two weeks.  There's been a lot of movement in the Top Twenty and I expect that to continue.  Yes, the blends are moving in, but there are some surprise single malts holding ground.

The Glen Garioch 12-year-old was the only rookie to debut in the Top Fifty.  My next few reports are quite the mixed bag, so I have no idea how they'll fare, view-wise.

This two-week pause worked pretty well again, so I intend to list the next round of standings on the weekend of the 4th.

Thanks again!

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Flailing Writer Goes Gardening, Part IV

It's been seven weeks since my last confession gardening post.  I'm not sure if the joys have balanced out the heartbreak on my balcony, but it's one of the more meaningful experiences I have each day.

The parsley, died.

The first cilantro, died.

The zucchini, died.

The second cilantro plant, barely living.

A blight has taken out almost half of the cherry tomato plant.  The heirloom tomato plant won't live much past the summer.

With the same powdery fungusy blight covering the new squash plant's leaves, I'm spending some time tending to all of the blights with an "organic" copper spray.

Sorry, no pics of the bad news.  And no pics of the second round of fertilizer tea from a couple weeks back.  That was hella feculent.

How about some good news?

The heirloom tomato plant has produced five ripe fruits, the first of which we'll try tonight.

The cherry tomato plant has squeezed out twenty ripe ones so far, and may have about that much remaining on the vine!  As the temperature gets hotter, the fruits have taken on a very pleasant sweetness.

We have the aforementioned new squash plant.  I put it in a wider pot than the ex-zucchini had to see if that helps root-wise.  She's blossoming already.

I think this is the first girl blossom.

Ruby here, was nearly dead three months ago, now she's blooming like crazy!

We also have a new mint plant (for beverages, Mediterranean dishes, and general sniffing) that has taken well to its spot in the sun. The chives have rebounded after the bugs were killed off. The basil has remained perky all month.  Fern the First and Fern the Second have been moved to a shadier cooler spot and are now building up new fernish undergrowth.

Finally, Pepper has been fully resurrected, producing seven beautiful chili peppers.

I still love this and I'm still learning. I'm already making mental plans for next year: having three cherry tomato plants and perhaps some sort of planter contraption that'll allow enough root space for two healthy zucchini plants.

For those of you with gardens, whether in the ground or eighty feet in the air, I send my best wishes for your crops!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Quick Booze Nooze, courtesy of Remy Cointreau

Remy Cointreau just announced some massive gains in their fiscal first quarter.  Could this have something to do with the sudden big offer to Bruichladdich?  Coincidences aren't often allowed in high finance.

Single Malt Report: The Yamazaki 18 year old

Let's cut to the chase.  This is delicious whisky.  It was this whisky that made me postpone this week's two planned reports until a future time, so that I could post my Rosewood Tavern experience promptly. (Thanks to Johnnie Mundell for recommending the Rosewood!)

I was looking to celebrate getting my first job interview in nine years and this was the beverage of choice:
OwnershipSuntory Whisky
Age: minimum 18 years
Maturation: Toasted American oak puncheons, European oak sherry butts, Mizunara puncheons
Country: Japan
Alcohol by Volume: 43%

I've covered Suntory products in two previous posts.  While I highly recommended the Yamazaki 12, I basically had a whisky fail with the Hakushu 12.  Either I received a warped sample or my senses missed the grand notes others had found (of course, that post has had seven times the views of the Yamazaki 12 post).

I figured the Yamazaki 18 would be out of reach, due to pricing and the news of its impending U.S. scarcity (now confirmed by two major LA spirits buyers).  Thus I put it on my Dram Quest list; and, yes, I am now able to cross that one off.

Let's take a look at what makes this whisky so splendid.  I say, it's the big wood.  Usually I blather on about distillate-this and distillate-that, but this time I cannot not talk about oak.

First there are the sherry butts which tend to be at least twice the size of bourbon barrels.  There's less spirit contact with the wood which may slow maturation down a little, but it imparts chocolatey and dried fruity characteristics.

Then there are the toasted American oak puncheons which are also much bigger than the usual bourbon barrel, so maturation slows here too.  By toasting rather than charring the oak, there are often fewer vanilla characteristics and more citrus notes.

Finally there are the very rare Mizunara (Japanese oak) puncheon-sized casks.  As per master distiller Mike Miyamoto (in 1001 Whiskies), Yamazaki "can only make 200 Japanese oak casks per year because of the scarcity of the timber".  Thus the amount of mizunara-aged whisky in the final bottling is relatively low.  But it's very rich, imparting unique spice notes that we (read: I) might automatically think of as specifically Asian -- a little sensory shorthand as we (again: I) struggle to label the experience.

So how about the final product?


The color really is almost as dark as the picture above; a reddish maple syrup.

The nose begins with a big sherry and bright sugary wood effect.  Then a creamy dessert wine.  Glue fumes, but in a good way (don't pretend you don't know what I mean, huffers).  Then there's something like a sweet Mirin wine or a sweet soy sauce, followed by a little leather, and a rich amaretto.

Then there's the palate.  At first, it's a mouthful of caramel sauce.  Then cherries, caramelized sugars, and a touch of barbecue sauce.  Then fresh sticky toffee and stone fruits.  It is BIG and desserty.  It sent me into a sense memory of standing in a cake bakery when I was child.  Did it really happen?  I don't know, but it was intense.

The great unusual (mizunara?) sweet oak goes on forever in the finish.  I could still smell it in my head hours and hours later.  The juicy stone fruits (think ripe plums and nectarines) floated in the finish as well.

Yeah, it's good.

In fact, it's luxurious.  Other than, perhaps, the Bowmore 25yr, I've never had a whisky that felt luxurious.  I've sampled older, more expensive, "luxury" whiskies but nothing quite like this.

In the coming weeks and months (and years?), I will sound off on the terrible pricing in the single malt market.  But this here, The Yamazaki 18, is on another planet.  And, despite its scarcity, it's still cheaper than The Macallan 18!

Availability - Disappearing
Pricing - Due to scarcity $120-$140, but there may be two LA stores selling it for $100 [Ed. note: as of 1/1/14 its average price is $186]
Rating - 92 (but it gets a markup on the followup review)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Single Malt Report: Glen Garioch 12 year old

My wife is sitting next to me playing a video of two HOT women working out on the beach.  So I'm a little distracted.  But...

Here's an actual single malt (remember those?) report.

Distillery: Glen Garioch
Ownership: Morrison Bowmore (Suntory)
Age: minimum 12 years
Maturation: Bourbon casks and Spanish Sherry casks
Region: East Highlands
Alcohol by Volume: 48%


Scotland's easternmost distillery, Glen Garioch (pronounced Glen Gee-ree) has undergone a number of changes over the last two decades.

In 1994, Suntory took over the ownership of the distillery via its purchase of Morrison Bowmore Distillers Ltd.  In 1995, the distillery was mothballed.  Up to that point, they had their own malting floors onsite and dried the barley via peat smoke.  So up until this closure, the whisky was lightly peated (8-10ppm). Upon reopening in August 1997, the distillery outsourced its maltings and the spirit was unpeated going forward.

Thus, old stuff : peated; new stuff : unpeated.

In 2009, Glen Garioch did a complete overhaul of their range.  Gone were the 8, 15, and 21 year bottlings at 43%, replaced by the NAS Founders Reserve, 12yr, and a number of small batch vintage casks.  The first two are bottled at a hefty 48% and are unchillfiltered.  Brilliant!

In 2011, the awesome Rachel Barrie left Glenmorangie Plc (where she helped create the Corrvreckan for Ardbeg!) to become Morrison Bowmore's (and thus Glen Garioch's) Master Blender.


My Scottish buddy James introduced me to the old Glen Garioch 15 and I enjoyed it from the first sip.  I was sad to see it disappear from the shelves (though it can be found with some proper research), but I was curious to see what replaced it.

Two years later (last week), I took a little road trip to Rosewood Tavern on Fairfax in Hollywood.  First off:  Rosewood Tavern, recommended.  GREAT selection of all sorts of whiskies, a few of 'em priced very well.  I felt like a kid (on a budget) in a candy shop.  I picked this Glen Garioch 12 on a whim and received a very generous pour.  Thanks to Miss Swiss!

(Side note: Like most bars they don't have whisky glassware, so I recommend going for a wine glass, champagne glass, or a snifter if they have one.  Just not a flat tumbler!)


NEAT - The color is dark gold, more apple juice than maple syrup.  The nose is very malty. It gets fruitier (think white fruits), but not sweet, with time. Some bourbon oak effect, but not too heavy.  The sherry is very subtle, almost invisible.  The palate is malty and salty, lightly fruity with a little toffee.  One doesn't feel the big alcohol %. It finishes at a decent length, fresh and fruity with a touch of salt.

WITH WATER - A great nose, like a caramel tart.  The oak on the nose and palate takes a backseat to more vegetal notes.  The texture gets much creamier.  The finish actually gains strength......mysterious!

It's not a sweetie, it's not a peatie, so I suppose it's a maltie? It's actually quite similar to Oban, so perhaps this is the Highland character I often read about.  It has this sturdy burly element that drew me to single malts in the first place, many years back.

Now, if Oban was cranked up to 46% (not even 48%) and not filtered, my goodness what would that be like?  How about it Diageo?

Sorry, couldn't resist a little comedy.

At least I think the new Glen Garioch spirit gives us a hint of Highland greatness at a price that passes for reasonable in 2012.

Availability - Most liquor specialists
Pricing - Considering the big ABV and no chill-filtration, the price is relatively reasonable at $50-$60
Rating - 88

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Whole Lotta 'Laddies

Last week was a tremendous whisky week.  Four different days/nights of brand new single malts.  It'll take five or six posts to get through all of that good stuff.

And, man oh man, was I feeling it on Monday morning.  So this will be a dry week as I let the body repair.  Get some good cardio in, hydrate appropriately.  I never got outrightly bombed, as I had to drive home after each event, but I'm old.  Plus I like to remember the things that give me joy.

I had the opportunity to try NINE different Bruichladdich malts, just in time for all of the financial excitement they're experiencing.  Since most of the samples were wee wee wee small, I was unable to form full notes, reports, ratings, witticisms, etc.  Hopefully in the future there will be full reports about a couple of these, but I'll do a brief rundown right here.

Bruichladdich First Growth Cuvée E: Sauternes (Chateau D'Yquem) 16 Year Old
46% ABV - $100 to $120
This winesky, made of the old Bruichladdich juice, spent most of its life in bourbon casks before Jim McEwan aced (read: finished) it in first growth Chateau D'Yquem Sauternes french oak barriques for about three years.  My palate doesn't groove with Sauternes finishes, but I can definitely understand their appeal.  Though I have to say, out of the five Sauternes finished whiskys I've tried, this is probably the best.  The two oaks, the bourbon, the wine, and the spirit come together as a whole much better (in my opinion) than the Glenmorangie Nectar D'Or and the BenRiach 16ry Sauternes.  Mostly I favored this one because I could still taste the spirit.  There was still whisky in the whisky!
(many many thanks to James)

Bruichladdich Rocks
46% ABV - $40 to $50
An un-peated no-age-statement (NAS) youngin, finished in "French wine casks".  Very oaky, I don't remember much else.  Its cousin "Waves" (I think that's what James and I had several months ago), a pink whisky, with its ripples of raspberries and blackberries is much better.

Bruichladdich Laddie Classic I
46% ABV - $60ish
New juice plus old juice.  Five years through twenty years, all in Bourbon Oak.  Seemed decent, reliable.  Thought I tasted some sherry oak in there, but it must have been something left over in the glass from my previous sip.  There's a touch of peat in it which was nice because it provided an additional dimension.
The Laddie Ten
46% ABV - $50 to $60
I didn't want to like this one.  It's been getting raves by the boatload, and I wanted to be the punk who hated it.  But I liked it.  Nice brown sugary and fruity sweetness with a whisper of peat.  This may wind up in the Whisky Cabinet some day.
Bruichladdich Organic Multi Vintage
46% ABV - $60ish
My favorite.  REALLY didn't expect that.  It was much different than all the others.  Very light color, think pinot grigio with some amber.  Lovely bready, grainy, cereal-y, grassy flavor with a floral note behind it. And almost no oak effect. All of the barley comes from three farms in Inverness.  All certified organic, no pesticides.  It's multi-vintaged but mostly seven years old.  I'm a fan.

Bruichladdich 16 year old Bourbon Cask
46% ABV - $90 to $110
The first fourteen years in Jim Beam casks, the last two years in first fill Buffalo Trace barrels.  Very smooth, easy drinkin'.  Takes all the best parts of the bourbon and leaves the oak behind.  It's not crazy or splendiferous, but it's good.  I just wouldn't pay its $100 price tag.

Bruichladdich Black Art 2
49.7% ABV - $170 to $200
This was the reverse of the Organic.  I expected to swoon over this one, and it wound up being my least favorite.  It's a 21 year old mystery whisky.  Apparently only Jim McEwan knows how many different wine casks are employed in its design.  But there's A LOT of wine it, too much for me.  There's some Madeira berry stuff going on as well as considerable tartness, dried fruits, and tannins from dry sherry and some dry French red.  It's $200 dollars.  Think of all the good young whiskys you could buy instead.
Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 7 (PC7)
61% ABV - anywhere between $90 and $140, if you can find it
My runner up!  A great peat level for this seven-year-old, about 40ppm (near Lagavulin range).  It's like a peat brick floating in honey and molasses. Muscular but not overpowering.  I heard so much good stuff about this one and it delivered.

Bruichladdich Octomore 4.2 Comus
61% ABV - $190 to $220
Ah, the supposed beast.  The highest peat levels in the whisky world: 167ppm.  I thought it would knock the rest of my hair out, but it didn't.  They finish this five-year-old in Sauternes and I think that sweet wine keeps the peat punch at bay.  Which sort of made it less interesting.  That or my peat tolerance is through the warehouse roof.  Either way, let the lab experiment loose!  And I wonder, why so much $$$ for this?  C'mon peatheads, you know how much great stuff you could get for $200+?  How about two bottles of PC7?

So, within a minimum of analysis, my top three would be:
Organic Multi Vintage
Port Charlotte 7
The Laddie Ten

Sadly the PC7 costs almost as much as the Organic and Ten combined, but that's due the cask strength (61% ABV), the market's demand, and the scarcity.

I think the Bruichladdich (peated and unpeated) spirit is pretty solid on its own -- as these top three demonstrate -- so while I can understand the continuing exploration into "Ace-ing", someone else can pay for that.  I'll pay for the naked whisky, thanks.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Unimaginable Pleasure


A thorough dig through the 99 cent mini liquor bottle bin at a strip mall in Palm Springs is bound to result in a discovery of historical interest.  Sure, one can find a cotton candy flavored Finnish vodka or a forgotten bottle of Early Times.  But dig deeper through that plastic barrel and you may find


Yes, Xanté.  I found a bottle of Xanté.  What Xanté was, I had no idea.  It sounded Mayan, was bottled in Sweden, and had no other description on the label.  I couldn't resist.  Should I have?

Upon my return to our Palm Springs hotel room, I immediately looked Xanté up online.  My search brought me to the official site.

The site greets its visitors with pictures of supposed supermodels and a font reminiscent of Vegas strip club signs.  And its slogan?

Unimaginable Pleasure.

What the hell does that even mean?  What are they selling?  Heroin and vibrators?  

Hi, Blue Text.  You want to take it from here?

"Unimaginable" is a word used in the promotion of horror films.  Unimaginable Terror!  It's a meaningless word with a foreboding connotation.  It sounds like there was a copywriter who didn't know anything about the about the product and had to send something in at the deadline.

Agreed.  More information was required.  The menu at the top of the site offered options such as "The Product", "News Archive", "Contact", and......

Feel The Brand?  Is that for folks with sensory disorders?  You know, the people who can smell purple and taste the number 5?

Other more intelligible page titles would be "Our History", "Our Legacy", or "The Brand".  We CAN'T FEEL THE BRAND unless someone burned their initials into your ass and you want us to finger the scars.

So I clicked Feel The Brand.

May I present you with the actual Feel The Brand copy, along with some structured analysis:

The late 19th century was a time of political turbulence in Europe.
Wooooooooo, a story!
As a consequence of the Franco-Prussian War, the district of Alsace came under German rule but many of the locals disagreed with the new order.
Um, is this leading to Xanté or to Hitler?
Among them was future liqueur manufacturer Jean Heinrich, member of an Alsatian family of ancient lineage. He conducted a bold escape to Namur, Belgium, where he was granted shelter at a Benedictine Monastery.
Like Bruce Wayne?
The monks confided Heinrich with a collection of ancient, all-natural liqueur recipes that would become the foundation of the legendary Maison Heinrich Liquoristerie Artisanale.
Wait, why would they do that?  “Hi, we just met you. Here are all of our delicious ancient monk-y secrets!”  Or......did he steal the recipes and raze the monastery?  Heinrich, you bastard!
Heinrich successfully commenced production, but decided to keep the single most superior recipe a family secret.
What kind of crap is that?  Did the monks not teach you anything about sharing?!  Or did you cock-up the recipe and need to hide the fact?   You, sir, are no Bruce Wayne.
It was solemnly passed on from generation to generation and perfected through accumulated knowledge, tradition and refined production techniques.
“Refined”?  “Perfected”?  You did screw it up.

And “accumulated knowledge”?  I thought Herr Heinrich had the original recipe.  Might want to get the lie straight before you start telling it.
And today – after four generations of blending excellence, the world is finally deemed ready for the Unimaginable Pleasures of Xanté.
The world is “finally deemed ready”?  Isn't that what the Bond villain says before he releases the supervirus?
Allow us to introduce Xanté – the intimate result of a ménage à trois
between the finest French cognacs, the affection
Where is this going?
of French Limousine Oak with its touch of vanilla, the perfect penetration of pear,
and the slow tender mating process which seals the great conception
Holy sh*t.
delivering a flavour and taste beyond all known experience. It is like a giant step forward, a transformational boost to the Golden Age of Women.
You lost me.
Like succes
Success has two Ss.
and prosperity.
What’s like succesS and prosperity?  I’m assuming you mean the “transformational boost to the Golden Age of Women”.  Are you just putting words next to each other and assuming they form a sentence?
Like men that women want them to be: gentle, soft, caring, romantic, smart, well built and willing to please.
I believe this is a tangent.
We call it pure oral pleasure
Holy sh*t.
from the country of Europe–
Europe is a continent.
From the country of Europe, clearly.
Unimaginable Pleasure.
From the perfect penetration of pear, I presume?


I don't know about you, but between the pear-fisting and oral service from Benedictine monks, I'm sold.  Why don't you give it a sip there, boss.

Will do.  There's no way it couldn't live up to that copy.

I served up the 50mL neatly into my Glencairn whisky glass to make sure I would receive the full brunt of unimaginable pleasure.  I put on some erotic avante garde cinema, then laid back and gave it taste.




The color is a dark sensual gold, highlighted with flames of Cheetos orange.

The nose.  Whump!  That sexy sound is the warm plastic bottle peach schnapps and five-dollar triple sec punching your gag reflex.  Intimately, of course.  Nectarine and melon canoodle with fake nectarine and fake melon.  Tropical Fruit Skittles melted and dripped over cheap perfume.

The palate matches the nose.  All peach schnapps and triple sec.  And something else.  Maybe overripe juicy plums?  Or per my wife's observation: industrial chemicals and paint fumes.

The finish is so sweet that you'll beg for those paint fumes to kill the brain cells holding the memory of the drinking experience.

I dumped half of it down the sink and apologized to my whisky glass.

Should we be surprised that a company named Xante makes printer toner cartridges?

Dear god, then what did I drink?

It's unimaginable.

And what would you possibly mix with this?

You'd wind up ruining a perfectly sh*tty bottle of Riunite.

The country of Europe deserves better.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Live from the Plaza Redondo sidewalk sale

Pimpin' goods. Used running sneakers sold quicker than books. In fact there were more offers on the table itself than the books.  Should put up a 'Bookz 4 Cheep' sign.

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Job Interview and a Smoothie

Had my first job interview in 9 years yesterday.  I must say, I have the utmost respect for the folks out there going to dozens of interviews trying to hunt down a job.  My interviewers (a panel of three) didn't have much in the way of specific questions and I felt like I had to be the energy behind the interview.  They also looked like they didn't particularly want to be there.  It may have been early, but couldn't they have even attempted to return a smile?

It was all very odd and empty, but necessary, I guess.  I'm all for new experiences and I should probably get better at interviews.  My bizarro work background isn't going to bowl anyone over, so I must seduce my future employers with my plentiful charm via braiding my nose hairs.

Around 8:30 in the morning, on the way to the interview, I crossed over the LA River into Wilmington.  As the bridge sloped down, I felt as if I was descending into a contemporary version Dante Alighieri's dreams.  Dark gloom, gloms of smoke belched into the air, oil refineries, rusting abandoned train cars, and barbed-wire-surrounded dumps.

I thought about the elusiveness of peace, joy, and spiritual contentment.  The perfect mental state to start an interview.  When I got home later, I saw this video sitting in my YouTube "Likes" list.  Thought it was appropriate.

On the other hand, California is in prime fruit season.  All the stone fruits are delicious right now, especially the peaches.  The berries are still scrumptious too.  So we have a ton of fruit in our home.

Being a Smoothie Man (but only post-workout), I had the revolutionary idea to use only fresh fruit in this morning's protein smoothie.  A peach, overripe raspberries and strawberries, raspberry yogurt, a splash of soy milk, vanilla whey protein, ice, and a drizzle of honey.

It was grand.  Possibly my best protein smoothie ever.  I'll let this cat describe it further.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

NOT Single Malt Report: North of Scotland 43yr 1964 Scott's Selection Single Grain Whisky

Yes, I have reviewed this one before.  But I am reporting on it a second time because:

1.  It's a 43 year old whisky, damn it!  I'll likely never drink anything older.
2.  The price was right.
3.  And if those weren't good enough reasons, here's a better one.  THIS time I was not drunk when I took the notes.

Distillery: North of Scotland
Bottler: Scott's Selection
Age: 43 years (1964 - 2007)
Maturation: Bourbon cask
Region: Highlands (Southern)
Alcohol by Volume: 45.7%


North of Scotland was first named Strathmore Distillery when it was built in 1957 by George Christie (the owner of Speyside Distillery).  It changed its name to North of Scotland in 1964, which is ironic since it's at the very southern tip of the Highlands.  It was originally intended for single malt production via Coffey stills, but switched to the cheaper grain whisky in 1960.  At that time it was the smallest grain whisky distillery in the land with a capacity around 3 million liters.  It was closed in 1980, sold to DCL (neo-Diageo) in 1982, and then dismantled in 1993.  And, apparently, it used to be haunted by a former brewer.


As per Scott's Selection's website, Robert Scott had been employed by George Christie and the Speyside Distillery as a Master Distiller for a number of years.  After his retirement, Scott formed this independent bottling company (which seems to be based in The Netherlands).  Happily, he was able to use his connections to grab some casks of unusual stuff, including at least three casks of North of Scotland grain whisky.


Gallagher's (in Long Beach) has had a bottle of this since Kristen and I moved to town.  And they were selling a glass of this 43-year-old whisky for $8......don't think about how crazy that is.  Think about how awesome that is.  For $8:  Dewars 12 or North of Scotland 43?  Yeah, I thought so.  (FYI, Seven Grand downtown has this at $48 a glass.)

The bartender poured me the last of the bottle on June 13th; a very generous pour I must say.  I got a good look at the bottle this time.  Scribbled in black marker on the back of the bottle was: $20.00.  Did someone get it at an auction for $20?  Or was the bar supposed to be selling it for $20?  No one knew.

Thus I enjoyed my 2 to 3 ounce pour of Lyndon Baines Johnson-era whisky for less than a dram of Black Label.  Mark that up as a good evening.


I only tried this neat out of respect of this great situation.  So...

Color -- light maple syrup
Nose -- TONS (or would that be cords?) of oak, very candied, honey-roasted, wheaty & corny, bananas
Palate -- woody (as in licking a tree), Mentos candies, cherries, sweet wine, banana pudding meets baklava but not in a good way, corn syrup
Finish -- "Woah, hella sweet", cinnamoncornsyrupbrownsugar assault with some bitterness in the background

You may notice my notes here are different the previous report on the same whisky.  That's because, as mentioned above, my senses were not compromised.

It's not as bourbony as I'd previously thought.  It was quite sweet though, but an old tired sweet, as if the whisky was like, "It's been forty-eight years, someone just finish me off already."  The corn sweetness leads me to think that maize was the main grain in the mash.  That particular flavor isn't my cup of tea, though it does often show up in American hooch.  Despite all of that, it was my honored pleasure to put this whisky to sleep.

Availability - You'll have to do some searchin'
Good at $200, considering that it's almost as old as Jamie Moyer

Rating - 77