Sunday, February 24, 2013

A couple of Wellers

W. L Weller Special Reserve 7yo 45%

Buffalo Trace bottles their wheated burbons under the Weller brand

As expected from a wheated bourbon this lacks the rye spicyness. What you get instead is a soft laid back bourbon

The nose is nothing spectacular, I mainly get the feeling of nosing a dusty solvent if that makes any sense. The palate is both soft from the burbon and has a little punch fr a slight alcoholic burn. The bourbon is slightly fruity, with a touch of blackberries. It has a little solvent burn on the finish

A really nice bourbon which easily beats a direct competitor like Maker's Mark, both on price and quality. It's probably made for both mixing and sipping neat, and I reckon it will do both jobs well

Rating 83/100

Old Weller Antique Original 107 Brand Single Barrel fr The Party Source 53.5%

It's quite normal that varius whiskyshops bottles single barrel of a common brand then just put a small sticker on the bottle to distuinguish it from the normal bottling line. This is probably done to avoid constant label approvals. The whiskey in the bottle is "restricted" to follow the label of the original age and ABV wise, the main difference is the ability of the bottler (shop) to select a good honey barrel for their own shops special bottling

This OWA 107 is a private barrel selected by a big supermarket style shop The Party Source, just over the water in Cincinati on the Kentucky side of the Ohio river. The Party Source has a selection of both bourbon and single malt, and also beer, wine and any other kind of spirit imaginable that makes it worth a considerable detour  for any whiskyfan. They have several private barrels and casks available. 

This is probably around the same age as the Special Reserve, so how will a special selected barrel, bottled at a higher strength do ?

The nose is fruitier and softer, smells a lot more of whiskey and I enjoy nosing this a lot more. The style is very similar, with the berry note more expressed. In general wheaters are sweeter, softer, more vanillaed and less woody than bourbons with a rye recipe in my opinion.

The palate is, despite the higher ABV, a lot more smooth and doesn't give you an alcohol burn. It sweet, and again I get the dusty feeling. The blackberry notes are more dominant. This is a very delicious bourbon. It's unbelievably you can something like this for just a few dollars above twenty

Rating 90/100 

Glen Garioch 1991

Glen Garioch 1991 The Whisky Agency 54.4% 20yo

Glen Garioch is a highland distillery that had a minor rollercoaster destiny as a distillery with many diferent styles and peat levels over fairly recent times

These days it is a bold rough'ish whisky and usually not anything I would recommend to beginners, but to anyone else I would as I do think it's a distillery for the entusiasts if any is

The nose is neutral with some apple/pear fruityness. The palate has the rough intensity I usually associate with full strength Glen Gariochs, so this will appeal to drammers who like their whisky neat and strong. The initial punch is followed up by a nice delicate fruityness of the whisky, apples and pears followed by some minty flavours

So if you want a whisky that hasn't been influenced by a lot of peat or sherry, but is fresh and have a little punch, this is worth considering

Rating 85/100

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Glen Scotia 1992

Glen Scotia 1992. Archives. 50.4% 20yo

Pleasant nose, which is always a good start. Classic whisky with a dash of forest berries and vanilla. This cask strength whisky's nose also gives me associations of being in a whisky warehouse in chilly Scotland. As the nosing goes on the forest berries becomes more dominant.. Excellent nose, but it had to develop on me.

Palate : Faint metallic and more forest berries. When I go closer in depths with this malt it appear fullbodied and malty with some toasted oak in the finish

This is a typical example of Glen Scotia, and a better one in my opinion. I have never been a great fan of this distillery, but if you are this might be something for you

Rating 83/100

I sometimes wonder why I often get a faint metallic note on Glen Scotia's. Is this just something I make up after I saw the washbacks at Glen Scotia ?

I did often find faint metallic notes in Glen Scotia (as I do in Ben Nevis) before I saw these cast iron washbacks.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


The major whisky producing countries  is Scotland, USA, Japan, Ireland, Canada and maybe India.

Where I live, and I speak in a very broad definition here, as I think of Europe, the focus is mainly on Scotland, and also a bit on USA, Ireland and Japan. Canada is more or less off the radar. Totally.

I have heard of Canadian Club only growing up. Last week when I held a bourbon tasting in a local whiskyclub, I asked if they knew any bourbons. Canadian Club was mentioned as the 2nd!. I bet if I did a poll in the street asking what country produced Canadian Club I wouldn't get 100% same answers :-)

Just to put you in a good mood, here's a little fun video, not whisky related, except it's about the symbols of some of the whisky producing countries - Scotland, Ireland and Canada included.

 My favourite Canadian Whisky Blogger, Johanne McInnis of The Perfect Whisky Match has kindly sent me the following 4 samples. I am now ready to educate myself a little on the subject of canadian whiskies and I will share my thoughts.

I start of with a couple of Gibson's, a brand owned by William Grants and Sons. It's now made in the Walkerville distillery in Windsor Canada (not owned by Grants) and current bottlings was probably distilled in the Valleyfield distillery near Montreal in Québec

1. Gibson's Finest. 12yo. 40%

The nose is light and very typical of grain whisky. The palate again reminds me of standard scottish grain whisky.  I am refering to scottish whisky often when describing other countries whiskies, as that's where my whisky heritage is. This is not as neutral as the standard scottish grain whisky usually is, there's more flavours coming through from the grains used in the mashbills, with a strong rye component. Rye is the most flavourful grain used in whisky production and gives a minty spicy flavour to a whisky. This whisky is not very intense in it's basic flavours and I see myself pouring some rather large pours to taste it. It is very smooth and drinkable. There is some small hint's of the standard flavours you expect to find in a whisky that has spend 12 years in a cask. A little butterscotch is most notable for me and the finish has a nice little hint of sweet wood berries, whatever that is ?

Rating 82/100

2. Gibson's Finest Rare 40% 18yo

This is a limited production of 12000 bottles a year according to Gibson's website, where I also stole the photo above. The first difference I notice on the 18yo compared to the 12yo is some small hints of oak wood on the nose. The palate is a lot more balanced than the 12yo and I feel I am drinking an aged whisky. Everything is again very subtle in the flavours and I again have to pour some real large pours to get the flavours of this. I am a very experienced microdrammer, usually I can get a lot from just pouring ½-1 cl of whisky, but this isn't doing it for me this morning. I am reviewing this four samples first thing in the morning before my palate has been in contact with any food so no tired palate here. Along with my previous experiences with Canadian whiskies I get the feeling that this is grain whisky I am drinking with a rye component. I am repeating myself, this is smooth, not that intense, very easy drinking, grain whisky, very typical canadian. I would say this is exactly an older version of the 12yo with a very similar flavour profile. The finish is again very nice, this time with wood infused with berries

Rating 84/100

3. Wiser's Small Batch 43.4%

Another brand produced in Walkerville. 

Great pours again to get the flavours through. The higher ABV introduces a slight alcohol burn for the first time this morning, and I had the first two to prepare my palate! This whisky has a hint of rubber on the palate, but knowing my sensitivity for rubber I doubt anyone else would find it. I never mind hints of rubber in a whisky so this is not a negative, I think it adds some complexity to this whisky. The whisky is again a typical grain but this is bit more fullbodied, the higher ABV surely helps

Rating 83/100

4. Alberta Premium Dark Horse 45%

From Alberta!. According to Davin, this is a mainly a 100% rye whisky mixed with some goodies like corn whisky and sherry casked whisky to enrich the rye base.

What a wonderful nose. The nose takes me back to some of the wonderful LDI High West whiskeys I have tried. The rye is dominant, but its embedded in a nice traditional yummy whisky/sherry nose. The palate comes through as sherried with a hint of classic dried fruits. This particular whisky is more a sherried rye than a grain whisky if I have to relate it the whiskies I usually drink. The balance between the rye and the sherry is perfect. A bit like when a peat/sherry whisky is perfect. This is something I would like a bottle of

This is the best canadian whisky I have tasted along with the Whistlepig, which has really grown on me since I reviewed it on this blog some time ago- 

Rating 87/100

My verdict is that if you are fan of grain whiskies you should explore these canadians. To me, these canadians are somewhat quite similar in style. Solid grain whiskies. They also somehow remind me of irish whiskies with a rye component, but I wouldn't be surprised if experienced irish and canadain drinkers would say that's the most stupid thing they ever heard :-)

I also find myself getting drunk while drinking these canadians. I had to pour a lot to get flavours out. Everybody talks about responsible drinking these days. I get the thought that bottling these whiskies at below 45% is irresponsible as it leads to excessive drinking. Give me 55%+ cask strengths and I will be sipping drops instead of necking big pours.

Talking about casks strength. Where are the cask strength Canadians?. I would really love to try some of these at full strength. There's million of casks maturing in Canada and I am 100% sure that if you want to make an impact into the whisky geek/entusiast world it must be possible to find one or two good casks and bottle them at full strength. It can't be that hard! When I visited Forty Creek last summer I suggested this to John Hall and he just looked at me like I was clueless. Maybe I am?, but I bet they want to sell whisky to someone like me AS WELL :-)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The six PLOWED bottlings

Here is a list of the 6 PLOWED bottlings, the labels has been retrieved from the COLA site.

Bottled in 1999. Fantastic old Springbank. This is a favourite PLOWED bottling by a considerate fragment of the group.

Another Classic. Early 70's Ardbeg by Douglas Laing. Say no More. Another favourite. Bottled 2001
Dave Broom and Michael Jackson disagrees HERE 

Brorageddon. The best Brora I have tasted. My favourite of the PLOWED bottlings. It's even a candidate to the best whisky I have ever tasted. 
Bottled 2003. First label to include the slogan "Self-styled whisky connoisseurs" It wasn't meant as a compliment when a Bowmore rep. adressed Bushido, after an enquiry about the tasting notes he had discovered in recent bottlings, which he described as FWP
LAWS reviews it HERE

Port Ellen from 2004. This one divides the group. Some like it (a lot), some don't. I am not a big fan
LAWS like it , HERE 

The last of the Old Malt Cask quartet. A Laphroaig bottled in 2006
Serge reviewed this one and liked it here

The latest addition to the range and the first OB, a 1986 BenRiach bottled in 2009, which again combines peat and sherry. Another bottle that split opinions, seems like it need some time in the glass/bottle

Conclusion? Don't drink with PLOWED if you're pregnant

Friday, February 8, 2013

Prestige Distilleries

There's a few distilleries out there that is considered prestige distilleries by us, the whisky drinkers.

Then there is some distilleries that is considered prestige distilleries by investors/collectors

There are also some distilleries that are considered a prestige distillery by themself!

These three catagories are mostly overlapping but not always.

In my opinion prestige distilleries are based on performances in the past. The following 5 distilleries are what immediately springs into my mind

Bowmore, Ardbeg, Brora, Port Ellen and Springbank

Who didn't wish they stocked up on 60's Bowmore and 70's Ardbeg? A lot wish they bought more Springbanks in the 90's and early naughties when they had several legendary bottlings out. I do for sure.

Port Ellen Pagodas

These distilleries have one thing in common. What they bottle now is no way as good what they bottled 10-20 years ago. They might have one rare bottling occasionally at an astronomical price, but we just don't see them spitting stellar bottlings out as they used to do. There are perfectly good explanations for this. Stock and demand is the main factors here, but also change in production methods.

Nothing wrong with what they bottle today, but these distilleries has more or less gone from legends to distilleries more or less like all the other (a little above average at least, in my opinion, I'll give them that much)

The two other distilleries I mentioned are closed distilleries and we are simply just slowly running out of casks available. But again, a lot of good whiskies bottled/made in the past, not so much today!

So what is the prestige distillery or distilleries of the tenners ?. I have a hard time picking anyone out in particular. For a distillery to be a prestige disillery in my opinion they need to bottle something extraordinary regularely. Some would say that "extraordinary" and "regular" are paradoxial if used in the same context, but if we look at the five distilleries mentioned I hope you can see my point

Balvenie is a good candidate, with their tun 1401 series! Glendronach and Benriach maybe, with their semiprolific single cask bottlings ? Maybe, maybe not

A lot of big distilleries has a huge amount of casks, maybe they just choose not to bottle 50 supreme single casks a year, I suspect a few of them could...

Another good candidate is Buffalo Trace with their van Winkle and BTAC series

(Sku think they might be in a decline : Is the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection in Decline)

There is a bottling series out there which I know will get legendary status in a few years from now. I have chosen to keep quiet about it (at least online) We all know what huge mistake it was telling everybody how great Ardbeg was 10-15 years ago. I can't get it anymore now that everybody wants it :-)

But end of the day, I think the whisky market lacks bottlings that are the legends of today. There are many good bottlings out there, but they seem to be random and not particular attached to certain distilleries.

Just recently we had a "huge" stock of Caperdonich 72's and old Karuizawa, but these are also dissapearing and examples of something available in the past

I still have to search my mind to think of any distillery that can be named the "legend of today." Well, maybe the future will tell what I don't see/miss today

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Jim Beam Rye

Rye whiskey is not easy to come by here in Denmark. When I have to do bourbon tastings just finding a bottle can sometimes be a little task in itself.

Here and there You can find the odd bottle, sometimes older bottlings that has been hidden on the shelf of a spirits or wine store for a few years but walking into a shop normally known for decent selection of whisk(e)y and expecting to find a bottle of rye is optimistic

The biggest producer of bourbon in Kentucky has a couple of ryes bottlings. Knob Creek Rye and this bottling here : Jim Beam Rye

Jim Beam Rye has a mash bill of 51% rye and is 4 years old and bottled at 40%

This is a very mild rye, the nose is laid back and for a spirit that has been laid on new wood, it is not very woody. At least not compared to your standard bottle of bourbon. It's dry and has an absence of sweetness, with a very laid back spicyness. I usual get a lot more mint from ryes, this is more subtle with an equal component of coconut. 

This makes for an easy drinking-sipping whiskey that won't challenge you a lot. It is also a perfect rye for cocktails and its great value for money, at least here in Denmark that is

Rating 82/100