...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, February 28, 2022

Teaninich 18 year old 1984 Signatory, cask 4097

Ah yes, Diageo. You may have heard of them. I may have written extensively about them more than eight years ago, noting their predecessor's involvement with Thalidomide, highlighting the company's illegal merger, detailing their whisky faults, and announcing I was boycotting their products.

The boycott was mostly successful. I bought a few 200mL bottles along the way, maybe a blend or two. I don't know. A lot of things have happened in these eight years, and I've found plenty of circumstances to be more concerning than beverage conglomerates. That's not to say that I'm going to run out and start buying Diageo products, but I'm not really running out to buy scotch of any kind right now.

Taking all of this into consideration, or ignoring it altogether, I have a lot of samples from Diageo's distilleries. So I'm spending the next thirty-five days offering up three Diageo distillery, or Diageo-adjacent, posts per week, with the occasional additional theme thrown in.

This week, I bring ye a trio of independently-bottled Teaninichs. One of The Big D's unheralded super-sized facilities, Teaninininininich is a distillery I should probably know more of. Thus I'll begin with a completely irrelevant whisky bottled two decades ago, during the Signatory Dumpy Times.

Distillery: Teaninich
Ownership: Diageo
Region: Northern-ish Highlands
Independent Bottler: Signatory Vintage
Age: 18 years old (17 May 1984 - 03 February 2003)
Maturation: "Oak cask" (information!)
Cask number: 4097
Outturn: 254 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 57.6%
(from a bottle split)


The nose starts off slightly skunky. As in, actual skunk spray. Then there's bread crust, soil and cocoa powder, which curiously work together. It slowly adds new twists. First, sage smudge. Then, candied pecans. Finally, a cloves+cinnamon spice box note.

Oh, this is unique to my palate. My brain says, "Malt Wine", but is unwilling to define that. So, here's a try: Mix toffee, oranges, barley and Brazil nuts. Then gradually add cassis and Manuka honey. It has just the right amount of heat. Just the right amount of crazy.

It finishes long and sweet, with menthol, honey, cassis, oranges and......Fernet-Branca!


Now that's a trip I enjoyed. Perhaps the cask had a curious history, but I think the spirit was the happy culprit. Though the distillery now has a mash filter setup that produces unique results, this whisky was distilled 16 years before the filter was installed. In fact, Teaninich's older "B" distillery was retired the same year this whisky was casked, so perhaps that facility created something less controlled here? No matter what, I loved this stuff. It was new experience, and I need new experiences. 

Availability - Auctions, maybe?
Pricing - ???
Rating - 89

Friday, February 25, 2022

The Essence of Suntory, Clean Type (2019)

After releasing a number of vintages of The Essence of Suntory, said whisky producer split The Essence in two in 2019, offering a Clean Type and Rich Type in their 500mL bottles with artsy labels. I am very thankful to have gotten in on a bottle split of the Clean, since "Rich" in whisky usually equals "Oaky".

From what I've pieced together from some Japanese retailers' marketing material, this blend is made of 6-year-old Hakushu single malt aged in cedar barrels with cedar heads and "clean type" grain whisky from the Chita facility. Four years ago, I had the opportunity to try the cedar-aged Suntory Za at Buffalo Tap in Ikebukuro, and it was......not Suntory's best product. Cedar-aged sake can be very good, so I'm willing to give cedar-matured whisky another try.

Brand: Suntory
Ownership: Beam Suntory
Type: Blended whisky
Country: Japan
Age: 6-year-old malt whisky and ?-year-old grain whisky
Maturation: Cedar barrels
Bottled: 2019
Alcohol by Volume
: 48%
(from a bottle split)


The nose begins with loads of florals, hints of mustard and band-aids far behind. Invergordon-style artificial coconut notes arise after ten minutes, followed by cherry candies.

The palate feels scattered. Citron, barley and pickled ginger. Sounds okay, right? Then some Serrano chiles make it a little quirkier. But then SWEETNESS floods it all out.

It finishes chiles, ginger, blood/iron and piles of sugar.

It's all sugar, barley, cinnamon, sugar and also sugar as a mizuwari.


I don't think the cedar casks were the problem here. The probably-very-young grain whisky overwhelms whatever the 6yo Hakushu could have brought to the table, resulting in a too-sweet, mediocre thing. The Whiskybase community seems to feel much differently. If you've tried the "Rich Type", please let me know in the comments what you thought of that one. Thanks!

Availability - Secondary market?
Pricing - ???
Rating - 74

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Suntory Blender's Choice, Ladies Open 2016

The Suntory Ladies Open has been part of the LPGA tour annually since 1990, with cancellations in 1995 (earthquake) and 2020 (coronavirus). The whiskymaker has released bottlings for event. How often, I don't know. In fact, I don't know much about this bottling. The fellow who split up his bottle noted that there's some Hakushu malt in it, and the Dekanta site says it was bottled at a bold 48%abv. As with Monday's Expo '70 blend, I'll try this neat and within a mizuwari.

Brand: Suntory
Ownership: Beam Suntory
Type: Blended whisky
Country: Japan
Age: NAS
Maturation: ???
Exclusive to: Suntory Ladies Open LPGA Tournament, 2016
Alcohol by Volume
: 48%
(from a bottle split)


There's chalk, raw grains, caramel and brine in the nose. Smaller notes of metal and flowers show up after some time.

The palate is loaded with honey and heat. It seems to get hotter with time, but also picks up oranges and toasted grain notes. It has a decent mouthfeel as well.

It finishes warm, toasty and tangy, with oranges and barley.

The mizuwari has malt in the middle and oranges on the sides. It's lightly sweet and phenolic.


Lighter in color than the Expo '70, it also reads much younger. The palate's honey note is nice, but I really prefer this as a mizuwari, which may have been the whisky's purpose since the Open is held in June. It's very similar to Hibiki Japanese Harmony with a bigger wallop, which make sense ABV-wise, but that's not really a hot endorsement from me. It really could not match the Expo 1970's delivery.

Availability - Secondary market?
Pricing - ???
Rating - 79

Monday, February 21, 2022

Suntory Very Rare Old Whisky, Expo 1970

Per my daughters, I can't call Jason my little brother anymore. So my younger brother turns an age ending in "0" this week. In honor of this event, I am reviewing a trio of scarce Suntory blends.

Japan's biggest whisky company has released blends in honor of a number of world expos over the years. Today's blend, which is "Very Rare Old", was bottled to commemorate the World's Fair held in Osaka in 1970. Per this auction, there were two such bottlings of two different styles. The whisky under review comes from this bottle shape:


Brand: Suntory
Ownership: Beam Suntory
Type: Blended whisky
Country: Japan
Age: NAS
Maturation: ???
Exclusive to: Osaka World's Fair, 1970
Alcohol by Volume
: 43%
(from a bottle split)


It smells lovely. Peaches and nectarines meet tar, coal and burlap. With time in the glass, it picks up some dried currants, fermenting apples and a whiff of OBE dustiness.

Toffee and butterscotch lead the palate, followed by lemon, menthol, charred chiles and a minor bitter bite.

It finishes more peppery and bitter than the palate, but also has a simple sweetness that lifts it up.

It also makes for one of the most vibrant mizuwaris I've ever had, full of malt, lemon, salt and vanilla.


This is great! Though "Very Rare Old" is usually a bunch of marketing baloney, this whisky feels like it had some actual extended maturation time. It's malty and thick, can stand up to air and club soda, and is just a swell drink. The hushed finish is all that keeps it from escalating to one of the superlative blends. Beware the varying fill levels seen on the secondary market.

Availability - Auctions
Pricing - ???
Rating - 87

Friday, February 18, 2022

Aberlour 12 year old Non Chill-Filtered

I prefer independent bottlers' bourbon cask Aberlours over the official sherry cask releases. Even the a'bunadhs haven't wowed me. But when Pernod Ricard chose to add a non-chillfiltered age-stated 48% whisky to the official Aberlour range in 2013, that did pique my interest. Yet not so much that almost a decade didn't squirm away until I actually tried it. And now it appears as if they've phased it out. It's become scarce the US, and there's not much of it to be found via online European retailers.

This was the third whisky in last Saturday's Taste Off. How did it compare to the mediocre 10yo and 40%abv 12yo?

Distillery: Aberlour
Ownership: Pernod Ricard
Region: Speyside (Banffshire)
Age: at least 12 years
Maturation: bourbon casks and sherry casks (I think)
Alcohol by Volume: 48%
Bottling year: ~2018
Chillfiltered? No
Color added? No
(from a purchased sample)


Right up front, I find almond extract and Walker's shortbread biscuits (a note that reader Florin put in my brain many years back) on the nose. Some of the pear notes remain, but they're overwhelmed by lime candy and white nectarines. Little bits of malt and milk chocolate linger in the background.

The palate has less sweetness and more oomph than the other two Aberlours. One may find dried apricots and dried sweet potatoes on top; toasted barley and toasted oak in the middle; good bitterness, salt and lemon way in the back.

It has a decent-length finish, that's most heat but still has some salt, bitterness, citrus and the dried sweet potatoes.


The grownup 48/NCF/NC presentation certainly gave this whisky a boost over its siblings. It reads thicker and fuller, with a nice nose and fair finish. But it's also not a home run, more like a single, as opposed to the regular 12 and 10's groundouts. I'm afraid I'm still unsold on the official Aberlours. If I can source the older bottlings, I'll report back.

Availability - Probably discontinued
Pricing - uncertain, searches and databases mix this up with the regular 12
Rating - 83

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Aberlour 12 year old Double Cask (40%abv version)

In Monday's review I said the Aberlours 10 & 12 were among the first single malts I did not take to ~14 years ago. But Aberlour 10 & 12 never grossed me out the way Lismore did. The 12 year old Aberlour was just strongly *meh*, and that's what I anticipated during this past Saturday's Taste Off between three Aberlours.

Distillery: Aberlour
Ownership: Pernod Ricard
Region: Speyside (Banffshire)
Age: at least 12 years
Maturation: "traditional oak and seasoned sherry butts" per the marketing material
Alcohol by Volume: 40%
Bottling year: ~2019-2020
Chillfiltered? Yes
Color added? Yes
(from a purchased sample)


The nose is very similar to the 10yo's, with the pears and VOCs and bland(er) nut notes. But with time it picks up anise, pumpernickel, a little bit of clove and seaweed.

The simple palate leads with nuts and malt, with hints of cotton and lemon. It gets much sweeter as it gains anise liqueur and raisins. Like the 10, this one also has a very thin mouthfeel.

Another quick finish here. It's nutty and sweet, with a peep of anise.


It's harmless, kinda like a better version of contemporary Chivas Regal. But not much better. The interesting nose and the palate's anise push it ahead of the 10 year old. But still, I can only assume the French are using up a lot of ice cubes to consume the 100,000s of litres of Aberlour that disappear into their country annually. 

Availability - 
Europe and North America

Pricing - mid $40s in Europe, upper $50s in the US
Rating - 78 (oh gross, this matches my score from 6 years ago)

Monday, February 14, 2022

Aberlour 10 year old (2016 bottling)

The Official Aberlour Review Week has been rescheduled repeatedly for nearly 18 months, so I made an executive decision to just do it this week. I tried three standard Aberlour releases side by side on Saturday night. First up, the 10 year old.

Aberlour 10yo and 12yo were among the first single malts that I just didn't like. Around 14 years ago, I remember being unable to finish my very-reasonably-priced-at-the-time bottles and donating them to my first tiny whisky group. I found the 10 year old particularly unpalatable. And, until this Taste Off, I hadn't tried in all that time.

Here's how it played out.

Distillery: Aberlour
Ownership: Pernod Ricard
Region: Speyside (Banffshire)
Age: at least 10 years
Maturation: "traditional and sherry oak casks" per the bottle
Alcohol by Volume: 40%
Bottling code: 2016/11/02
Chillfiltered? Yes
Color added? Yes
(sample pilfered from a whisky event)


The nose starts off VERY young, all Bartlett pears and paint VOCs. Then hazelnuts appear, and orange gummy bears and some slight cheesy funk (brie).

The palate is bready and sweet, with black pepper, a generic dried fruit note, and some sourness on the side. Very thin mouthfeel.

The brief finish is all pepper, black raisins and sourness,


I had thought this was going to be D-grade stuff, but (surprise!) it's C-grade. It's very blendy, perhaps a better version of Chivas 12, but not terrible. One could even add this to some Chivas on the rocks and bulk it up a tiny bit. This is certainly not an endorsement, but I did indeed consume this entire sample.

Availability - not in The States anymore (tragedy), but very available in Europe
Pricing - around $40
Rating - 75

Friday, February 11, 2022

Things I Really Drink: Dewar's 27 year old Double Double

Hey, I hope everyone enjoyed those last six American whisky reviews! The next bourbon review is scheduled for 2026.

Let us return to the Scot Land with a fresh TIRD post. My first TIRD (or Things I Really Drink, if you're not into the whole brevity thing) was Dewar's 21 year old Double Double. I liked that blend quite a bit, which shocked me because I find their standard blends to be substandard by even today's low standards. This inspired me to chase down Ohio's (possibly) last bottle of the 27 year old Double Double, which I then split with Dr. Springbank, the man who introduced me to the 21.

From the 21's TIRD post:

The whole "Double Double" thing is certainly a shtick. But it does seem sort of like a shtick devised by a blender.

Step 1: Age the grain whisky and malt whisky. (The most subversive step!)
Step 2: Blend and vat the grain whiskies with the grain whiskies, and the malts with the malts. Age some more.
Step 3: Blend the vatted grain whiskies with the vatted malt whiskies. More aging.
Step 4: Finish the blend in _____ casks.

Oloroso casks were the 21's Step 4. The 27 year old was finished in Palo Cortado casks, which were nowhere to be seen in the whisky industry one year and then suddenly everywhere the next.

Today's review comes from a Taste Off between the 21 and 27. They are indeed different whiskies. And of course I did not take a photo at the time. So here's a pic of the empty washed bottle:

Brand: Dewar's
Ownership: Bacardi Limited
Range: Double Double
Type: Blended Whisky
Age: minimum 27 years
Maturation: see notes above
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chill-filtered? No
Added colorant? No
(from a 50/50 bottle split)


Quieter than that of the 21yo, the 27's nose does have its sibling's brine and nuts. It adds red plum flesh and hints of blackberry jam and flower blossoms. Notes of apple cider and cloves appear 30+ minutes later. It's all very hushed, though.

The palate is a bit narrow. Brown sugar, limes and apple juice tiptoe in, followed by black pepper and mineral moments.

Its finish is shorter than the 21's, showing only apples, honey and citrus somewhat briefly.


Much more interesting here, with herbs, stone fruits and baking spices.


While it feels sacrilegious to put 27 year old whisky on the rocks, this blend almost demands it. When neat, it's kind of a *shrug* with limited development. It smells nice but drinks flat despite the 46abv/NCF/NC presentation. The good news is that the woodwork shows limited influence. The bad news is that the malt whisky shows limited influence. As a result it fell short of its 21 year old teammate's performance.

Availability - 
It's around, though not in Ohio anymore (my bad?)

Pricing - $100ish for a 375mL bottle
Rating - 80 (with some tinkering)

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Russell's Reserve 1998

The Russell's Reserve brand produces some very reliable American whiskey, so I was very thankful when my friend, Secret Agent Man, offered up a pour of his bottle of the extra-limited 1998 vintage release. According to The Whiskey Jug and Breaking Bourbon, the bourbon spent 15 years in oak, then was put into steel for two years when the Eddie Russell saw that the 23 barrels' contents were evaporating faster than expected. More time in the barrels would have risked “less desirable flavors [taking] over.” Kudos to the Russells for opting against the larger age statement! I knew none of these things when bottled up my sample ten months ago, nor did I realize how desired this whiskey had become.

Brand: Wild Turkey
Owner: Gruppo Campari
Range: Russell's Reserve
Distillery: Wild Turkey Distillery
Location: Lawrenceburg, Kentucky
Mash Bill: 75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Malted Barley
Age: around 15 years old (1998-2014 in oak)
Outturn: 2,070 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 51.1%
 (thank you to Secret Agent Man for the sample!)


The nose is very almondy: roasted almonds, almond extract and amaretto liqueur. There's also raspberry fruit leather and cherries in milk chocolate right in the middle, and a teeny bit of old rye in the background.

The palate has less of a woody bite than yesterday's 9 year old Evan Williams. The almond notes are gentler here than in the nose. Lots of toasty notes. Pinches of salt and tartness. It develops cherry and blackberry notes with time.

Like the palate, the finish shows more toastiness than barrel char. Some salt and savory notes. A little bit of rye and a few tart berries in the back.


This a very nice bourbon that I wouldn't mind sipping in any season, under any circumstances. Despite the aggressive evaporation, the oak and the alcohol are very well incorporated. Is it luxurious? Yeah, probably a little bit. It's certainly better than the majority of the BTAC and Pappies I've tried. As far as the original $250 price tag? I guess if this was going to be Wild Turkey's fancy bottle, at least the quality is there.

But then this:

This is why I've lost interest in bourbon. Sometimes we can choose what we let in and what we don't. The world offers me plenty of hues and tones of Batshit Crazy on a daily basis. This one ain't worth it.

Availability - If you want it, you can find it.
Pricing - potato
Rating - 88

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Evan Williams 9 year old 2000 Single Barrel

Look who's clearing out his old American whiskey samples!!! The week began with a surprisingly positive Weller Taste Off, which was followed by a hairy craft whiskey from Texas. Now the reviews progress to a Heaven Hill bourbon with some age on it.

This single barrel of Evan Williams was dumped three days before its tenth birthday, which was kinda young for EW SBs in 2011. They were usually 10+ years at the time. Then they became 9 year olds, then 8, then 7. I haven't seen one in two years, are they still legally bourbon?

This bourbon was matched up with the bourbon I'll be reviewing tomorrow, which also had some years in the barrel. You will probably believe what happened next.

Distiller: Heaven Hill
Brand: Evan Williams
Type: Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Region: Bardstown, Kentucky
Age: almost 10 years (12 November 2000 - 9 November 2010)
Mashbill: 75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Malted Barley (I think)
Alcohol by Volume: 43.3%
(thank you to Florin for the sample!)


There's more pine than oak in the nose, and lots of it, to the point that it almost reads medicinal. Peanut shells, brine and Old Spice sit in the middle, green bananas in the back.

Medium sweetness and medium tannins on the palate. There are some oranges rolling around in salt and vanilla ice cream. It does get woodier with time.

A little less tannic than the palate, the finish also gets woodier after a while. Otherwise, it mostly matches the mouth.


This reaches the edge of my (so delicate) oak tolerance. The nose works better than the palate, probably because I prefer smelling oak to tasting it, but also because this whiskey's sniffer is more interesting, more complex than its mouth. As with Weller Special Reserve, this Evan Williams drinks better on ice, in a tumbler, than neat in a Glencairn. I will say, I like EW Black Label (and possibly even Green Label) better than this.

Availability - Current batches are at many American specialty liquor retailers
Pricing - $34.99 in Ohio
Rating - 79

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Balcones Baby Blue corn whiskey, Batch BB 09-11

I reviewed the center and right whiskies, the Wellers, yesterday. Today I would like to talk about the whiskey on the left, Balcones Baby Blue corn whiskey, batch BB 09-11.

Today's intro ends here because I'll have more to say below. I can't really top the second paragraph of my previous Balcones post anyway

Distillery: Balcones
Region: Waco, Tejas
Type: Corn Whiskey
Batch: BB 09-11
Mashbill: 100% Hopi blue corn
Maturation: refill 5-gallon barrels
Age: ???
Bottled: 17 December 2009
Alcohol by volume: 46%
(from a bottle split)


The nose is mostly cheesy sweaty sock eau de vie with a side of glue, confectioner's sugar and dry boxed pasta.

The palate is very sweet, starting off with candy corn, vanilla and Canadian Club. There's some chemical bitterness and furry white dog in the background.

Finish - White dog-chased Nilla Wafers and that chemical bitterness.


*Gives self the pep talk, "I won't turn this into a shitpost. I won't turn this into a shitpost. I won't turn this into a shitpost."*

Balcones distillery was founded in 2008, and this product was bottled in 2009, so it's no surprise that it reeks of a Revenue Release. The founder, Chip Tate, was a Blogger Buddy™ during his six years at the distillery's helm, so it's possible that many early bloggers gave Balcones products a pass in the early years. But this corn thing is the Craftiest of Craft Whiskies, the sort of thing many of us were complaining about more than a decade ago. Perhaps its sales helped keep the stills running back in the day, but it's a grim specimen to release to establish a brand. At its best it can be used as a Canadian Club substitute because the palate is salvageable on the rocks, a lot of rocks.

Availability - There are newer batches now, this one is gone
Pricing - Too much
Rating - 63

Monday, February 7, 2022

Weller Special Reserve versus Weller Antique 107, current labels

I'll begin with my usual disclaimer: My palate doesn't take to contemporary wheated bourbons, but the Wellers are usually the most approachable of the flock.

Gently pilfered from the official site

I found a bottle of the current version of Weller Antique 107 in the Ohio wilds two years ago. The shock of seeing a bottle on the shelf influenced me to buy it at the regrettable $50 price, regrettable because that's a 150% price jump from seven years ago. Upon opening it I discovered the bourbon was much too damned sweet for my mouth, so sweet that its cocktails required half the usual amount of simple syrup.

Even though I had help finishing the bottle, the process of emptying the thing still took nearly two years. Halfway through, I set aside a sample of the 107, then sourced a sample of its younger sibling, Special Reserve (whose price had gone up a mere 53% in eight years).

Here's a head-to-head of the two:

Starting with the cheaper sib:

Weller Special Reserve wheated bourbon, current green label, 45%abv

The nose starts off with cherry bubblegum and barrel char. Then vanilla frosting on vanilla cupcakes. Notes of grape drink and strawberry jam hug the sides.

The palate has a spirity edge to it, feeling hotter than the ABV. Cherry candies and grape candies wrapped in polyester. Salt and sour hints in the background.

It finishes with cherry-flavored cough syrup with those salt and sour notes in the back.

This was better than I remembered it to be, but the palate is still too unformed (and sadly lacking in rye 🧐) to make it something I'd be interested in drinking casually. The nose is very pleasant though, and holds up even when the whiskey is applied to ice cubes. I hope its price point holds.

Availability - It can be found!
Pricing - $22.99 in Ohio
Rating - 78

Weller Antique 107 wheated bourbon, current red label, 53.5%abv

Plums, red velvet cake and milk chocolate arrive first in the nose, followed by hazelnuts and nail polish remover. It's more on marzipan than vanilla. Just a whiff of peppercorns in the background.

The palate's alcohol level, though higher, works better here than in the Special Reserve, and the tannins don't bite too much. A combination baking spices and figs gradually turns into mulled wine after 20+ minutes.

The long, warm, fragrant finish leans on the spicy mulled wine note. More tannins here, though.

(Again) This was better than I remembered it to be. It was much less sugary, or was that because I was comparing it to the Special Reserve? Or maybe it needed some oxidation? This is still my favorite of the Weller clan, even matching up well with its older sibling Old Rip 10yo. Yet, after paying $18-$20 for the same (or older or better) 107 for many years, I find it difficult to pay $50 for it again.

Availability - Requires footwork and connections, but it exists
Pricing - $49.99 in Ohio
Rating - 84

Aside from the pricing issues (shocker, right?), this turned out to be a very positive bourbon tasting. But there was one thing I did not disclose. There was a third whiskey:

I'll reveal the leftmost whiskey's identity tomorrow...

Friday, February 4, 2022

Jack Daniel's 10 year old Tennessee Whiskey, 2021 edition

Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 is my least favorite whisk(e)y in the world, and has been for a quarter century. (I can't believe I just wrote those last two words.) Even back when I was just chasing shots with the cheapest beer I could find, JD was just too foul for my face. That combo of the corn, the charcoal and the Brown-Forman appealed less than plastic bottle vodka.

So there was not a more surprised person on the planet than I when JD's single barrel products turned to be......drinkable. I'm not sure how I feel about a world in which I'd consider purchasing a Jack Daniel's product. But, I'm pretty sure Jack Daniel's 10 year old (not single barrel) has sold out already, so I'll give it a try without worry!

Brand: Jack Daniel's
Ownership: Brown-Forman Corporation
Region: Lynchburg, TN
Mashbill: 80% corn, 12% malted barley, 8% rye
Age: at least 10 years old
Bottled: 2021
Outturn: around 24,000 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 48.5%
(from a bottle split)


The nose begins with bags of cherry lollipops and plenty of barrel char to spare. The cherry note moves  quickly to the fore, and a pretty floral note builds with time. Smaller of notes of Tabasco and mustard linger in the background. A berry gummy bear note appears after more than 20 minutes.

Gentle wood smoke, tart oranges and a lot of black pepper register first in the palate. Then the nose's cherries and flowers appear in the background, along with mildly tart apples. It never takes on any generic tannic nor barrel char notes, but the texture is very thin even at this strength.

It finishes with a mix of black pepper and sweet citrus. It's never too sugary, nor too oaky.


Despite what other reviewers have found, my senses picked up no banana notes, which is a very big plus, pushing this to the fore of JD whiskies. The pepperiness showed through in the old fashioned that I, er, fashioned with half of this sample, and I kinda liked it. What holds this whiskey back is that watery texture. It's so thin in the mouth, and limits any expansion or development. So one is left with a light, pretty bourbon. I know I'm speaking to the ether here, but I'd be interested in this whiskey at half its suggested retail price (or 1/10th of its secondary market price).

Availability - Not at its suggested retail price
Pricing - Not its suggested retail price
Rating - 83 ← the highest score I'll probably ever give a Jack Daniel's whiskey

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Whisky 1500: Macallan-Glenlivet 32 yo 1937 Gordon & MacPhail (Donini)

This isn't actually my 1500th review. I miscounted, so my actual 1500th whisky review was the Ballechin Bunny. Or maybe it wasn't because I don't think I've documented all of my re-reviews. I've also reviewed an additional ~100 whiskies without giving a number grade (due to sample size), plus another 70+ in my Killing Whisky History series. I'm probably close to the 1700-mark, but who knows. Quantifying whisky is a fool's game, so numbers don't mean anything.

Except here's a 32 year old Macallan that was distilled in 1937.

Those numbers mean something. A time, a place, patience.

I've had some 1960s Macallan but that's as far back as I've gone. Here are two links to folks who may have a better idea of what this era's Macallan tastes like. Since I have no frame of reference, I'll just offer some thank yous.

I want to thank Cobo for including me in this bottle split almost exactly seven years ago. We discussed the bottle's provenance, and then each took part in some cLs. The sample's fill level hasn't moved in seven years, about which I am very thankful. I'm a dope for waiting so long.

And thank you to the individual who elected to open his bottle of 1937 Macallan, and split it at a fraction of the market value. You are a mensch.

I also want to thank the old Italian importers, because without them we wouldn't have so many fake Italian dusties examples of single malt history to study, in our mouths.

And finally, thank you to my readers! I can't believe you're still here. Seriously, look at all of these words! 

Okay, I've delayed this long enough.

Distillery: Macallan
Ownership: The Edrington Group
Ownership at time of distillation: Roderick Kemp's Trust
Region: Speyside (Central)
Bottler: Gordon & MacPhail
Imported by: Donini S.R.L., Milano
Distillation year: 1937
Age: at least 32 years
Maturation: sherry casks
Alcohol by Volume: 43%

So many notes swirl through the nose at the same time. Ocean and dandelions. Nectarines and blackberry juice. Dried currants and dried leaves. Daifuku and hints of tobacco, earth, parmesan and malt. It both charms and overwhelms.

The palate tricks one into thinking it's going to be too sugary, then takes a left turn into tartness. Yes there are black mission figs, daifuku and a mouthful of sweet shisha smoke. But there are also dried cranberries and currants that someone forgot to sweeten, and some tart citrus around the edges.

It has a very long sticky finish that's like a mix of black fig liqueur and German bitter herbal digestifs. Rainier cherries in the background and some more good bitterness right down the middle.

This has become a fragile whisky, requiring time in the glass, but not too much time. It's both a vibrant dessert malt, and something that calls for silence. One can treat these old bottles casually, as they can be fabulous drinkers, but I think to really indulge one needs to wrap oneself in the moment, put all the other things away, and just sit. It's a fair thing to do on a weeknight. Thank you all.

Availability - Secondary market, maybe?
Pricing - High
Rating - 91