McClelland’s

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So this is a single malt Scotch from Islay (pronounced “Eye-la” for some Gaelic reason). imageHaving reviewed a few single malts from this region before I one the profile and can say that this is a great introduction to the style. The style in question is characterized by peaty – smokey – with a slight slant of salty. Sometimes this signature style can be over present and imposing to the uninitiated. This not the case for this expression, it is a great entry into the island mix

To those who wish to explore in a different direction, the price point and assuaged flavour profile are ideal for new comers.

With a nose that gives an easy scent of smoke, peat and spice you are invited to try the palate that is true to the nose. It gives over to a clear mouthfeel. Once on the palate there is a clear presence of imagespice on the tongue, it’s a quick passage but it registers.  The peat and smoke develop as I swish the liquid around my mouth trying to extract any hints of other flavours. I had occasion to share this tasting with a “peat head”, and she was able to discern some accents of sea salt, once it was pointed out I confirm that the tail end of the palate has hints of salt. It’s always nice to have another palate to play out the flavours that one can miss. And sharing a dram over conversation is really the tangible expression of whisky.

The finish is quick, it goes away in a whisp, slightly underwhelming but invites a second take. The peat is almost a suggestion compared to the spicy notes that have a slight medicinal quality. But all of that fades away and leaves a slight glycerol film, not unpleasant, just too fleeting.

This is a good bottle to open up the view on what different scotches can offer, they aren’t all ambrosia and that’s a good thing, a dram for  every taste. As well the price point is attractive, it’s a good stop gap in the cupboard so you won’t drain all the good stuff.image

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Aberfeldy 12

imageFirst new bottle of the new year, it’s fitting.  As a new bottle with no expectations I am imagein effect an initiate and this is true for every first tasting. Bring no baggage with you and you will benefit in your sampling. Thinking that you know how something will turnout  can only dampen the experience; either by confirming your bias; it becomes as expected or it blocks the openness required to pick up on subtleties  that take time to develop.  So I venture with a blank slate.

Tabula rasa is a good approach to an initial tasting, this is part of the enjoyment of imagewhisky, palate discoveries. The other thing that I enjoy is discovery through research, wanting to know more and reading can add to the vocabulary needed for description. Broadening what I know sometimes with other more/or less knowledgeable people with equally passionate views adds to the dialogue and enjoyment. Either by hook or crook (read; purchase, gift, exchange or random)  there is no bad way to experience a new experience.  I know with circular, but it’s my circle so grab a dram and friend and have at it.

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Aberfeldy 12yr is actually the first entry, so fitting.

Aberfeldy 12 is a single malt Highland Scotch Whisky,  the Highlands are reputed to be light and floral (I just read this post tasting) and the Aberfeldy 12 plays well into that trope.

The nose is sweet with fruitiness in the front and then mellows out to a floral orange, kinda like if Triple Sec wasn’t syrupy and maybe just a hint of young oak to balance it out.

The palate takes the floral notes and turns them into orange honey, pleasantly covering the lips with a light gloss. The mouth feel is imagea smooth and pleasant, very palatable and easy to consume. It is not a challenging whisky, but rather an inviting one.

The finish is a sweet that lasts with a touch of spice. It also lingers longer than one would expect from the light touch, kind of like a good friend at a party trying to say goodbye to everyone there. You say goodbye to them and then it takes them a while longer to actually leave (in a good way).

Aberfeldy is a product of Dewars, reputed for its blended scotch whiskies, when imageDewars acquired Aberfeldy they decided to keep a portion of the bottling  as a separate independant single malt. Well done Dewars. This is a great bottle for the newcomer to single malts, it’s inviting and easy and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s also relatively cheap for a 12 year, grab it and share it.

Slainte mhath

 

HIBIKI 17

Hibiki 17. Where to start, well HAPPY NEW YEARS, ok that’s done.

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This bottle is the second pillar that holds up my love of whisky. It is far removed from the old guard Scotish gambit; with its well established, identifiable flavour spectrum. The Japanese style is paradoxically old and young. And I love it for that.

Suntory(1899), the (Yamazaki) distillery that makes Hibiki was founded in 1924 by Shinjiro Torii. He had a vision of a Japanese whisky that was emblematic of the imagecountry and its people; harmonious and respectful of its ingredients and process. From the design of the 24 faceted bottle that represent the hours in the day and  “Sekki” the traditional 24 seasons of the old lunar calendar and the hand crafted labeling”Washi“. There is a conscious and concerted effort to produce a beautiful and harmonious blended whiksy.

Now the whisky at hand. The nose and fragrance evokes a warm and fresh aroma that is crisp to the nose with warm floral citrus and sweet honey. With a slight trace of young oak.

imageThe palate rolls up your mouth with an effervescence leaving a gentle spicy tingle on the tip of the tongue. In the mouth the there is balanced richness that lets the citrus play with the oak and honey flavours from the nose. The mouth feels is clean and pleasant, present but not imposing.

The finish continues and is long lasting with a subtle complexity highlighted with a creamy floral note that allows for some interpretation.

I think I notice the oak and honey most imagebut there is this light note of citrus blossom just underneath. I find this whisky accessible and delightful, well suited for sipping in the summer with its crisp taste it doesn’t weigh you down; rather it carries you along with whispers pleasant nothings on your palate. If you can find this bottle. buy it and enjoy it. I am down to my last dram and am grateful for the gift that it truly was.

 

 

Happy New Year

Thank you for joining me on the beginning of my whisky adventure. I hope you enjoyed my musings and imageobservations. With a new Christmas haul, I have some new content to deliver in the new year.  And I look forward to sharing my discoveries with you all.

 

All and only the best from your friend who likes whisky.

 

Slainte mhath, enjoy a dram.

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Crown Royal Northern Harvest !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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So I took my time for this one. It’s special this is the first time that I’ve reviewed a #1 world whiskey winner. I have written a review of the announcement that surprised us  all. Kind of out of left field, a Canadimageian whiskey, #1 really… OK, great, I was excited to try it out but then quickly found out that it was not available in my region or province and soon to be backordered in the country. Jim Murray  (renown whisky reviewer) has the ability to make stock disappear so I thought that one day I would get to set my lips to this expression, one day…..

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Christmas miracle, a dear friend shipped a bottle on the sly and I was shocked, touched and exited. How to get ready to experience the best whisky of this year. Well dive in, take pictures, pour a dram and take the time it deserves. I also have not read the Jim Murray review in an effort to not skew my own observations.

 

IMG_4358Resting comfortably on my over-sized couch I opened the bottle and poured a dram. The nose on the onset is rounded and deep, it does not attack the nostrils but lets you inhale deeply to reveal a predominantly sweet aroma with a subtle rye note. It resemble cherry strudel with a slice of rye bread: it works. It also gives a clear idea of how the palate is going to play out.

 

The sip hits the palate smooth and pleasant with a strong flavour of medicinal cherry; not quite like a Halls lozenge (but if you like that, then you’ll love this)  and a little spicy. The mouth feel takes a little coaxing, I imagehad to swish and aspirate (sucking in air, snooty wine snob style) a little to elicit a little extra depth. That little extra is a hint of sweet butterscotch, and I’m stretching to find something that goes beyond the agreeable cherry essence. The glycerol that is evident when you swirl your glass  coats the inside of your mouth with no more than a few seconds of coverage and then it slips away into the finish.

The finish is quick and warm, the warm stays longer than the finish and still leaves you wanting more. It’s clean and easy but does not develop into anything remarkable.

So there you have it, this years best whisky as reviewed by me. Final thoughts are that this is a fine blended whisky, it’s easy on the palate and goes down smooth. It’s flying off the shelves and Crown Royal (owned by Diageo, a huge spirits company) has done well because the bottles that are bought will be finished quickly and will gladly need to be replaced.

 

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The (a) List

It’s the holidays, let the wish lists begin. I am officially the easiest person to shop for during the festive season. That being said a little nudge, guidance and information can only only help myself and others. Whisky being a large and foreboding milieu for the un-initiated and the for any one staring blankly at the multitudes being offered at your local booze dispensary. Here are some things to consider.

scotch whisky map regions of scotland

Price isn’t the point. Novelty with forethought can go a long way to bringing a smile. If you know you’re market (gift receiver) then think laterally and move away from their favourites. Don’t be drastic; if they like a certain style try to slide up or down the intensity scale.

So here is a simplistic map outlining the predominant regions and resulting flavour profiles. If you’re still not sure and to be fair that’s entirely normal. Let  the expectations go and just go with a Gaelic sounding thing and see where things land.

A gift of whisky is a gift,  and can lead to new experiences or bring back fond memories that were forgotten. Like that time you “tasted” a 3/4 of a bottle with a friend because the bottle looked pretty (I’m looking at you OId Pulteny 12yr). Below is a helpful chart, through a dart and make someone happy.

 

Slainte Mhath

Black Label 12 yr

image    What comes to mind when you hear Black Label, serviceable, Middle of the row, adequate, every day. But what’s wrong with that ? We can’t always be sipping on the finest of dram we can’t always be sipping on the finest of drams. Every shelf has its highs, lows and gifts. To fill out a collection and have it last there has to be a good middle ground, it doesn’t have to break the bank and it fills a role. It’s not for special occasions but it is there after a good day of work.

Johnnie Walker imagehas an offering that fits the brief. With a wide range of expressions that vary from the work-a-day Red Label to the much vaunted Blue Label there is s middle ground.  Johnny Walker Black Label 12 year blended Scotch whiskey is that middle ground and it serves it well. The blend itself is comprised of about 40 different whiskies taken various areas all around Scotland. They have all been ages for 12 years. The result is a smooth, relatively light experience.

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The nose has pleasant smokiness with an underpinning of deep salt. After repeated sniffing, trying to gain any other insights from smelling and then for a fleeting ephemeral moment I think I smelled a plume of plum. I suppose that can be the joy of blends. If you keep digging you can experience moments singular to the expression.

The palate has a simple introduction, the light spice washes quickly through subsiding while leaving a deposit of light peat. The mouthfeel for this dram is a mixture of light handed and just out of reach. You think something will develop but then it doesn’t.

The finish matches the nose and the palate, pleasant but fleeting. It seems that the numerous blends that provide the smoothness also muddles the various interesting notes. Blending is an art and by all means  Johnny Walker has a fine handle on this expression.

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Ranked #1 Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

 

As someone who professes to love whisky , scotch whisky I would be remiss if I didn’t write something about the new #1 first place Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye, winner one of the top award from Jim Murrays’ The Whisky Bible.

For new initiates to the world of whisky Jim Murrays Whisky Bible is the international reference for whisky reviews. He is well respected, a depth of knowledge and an (the) authority on whisky.  He may be a single reviewer but maintains the clout and singular honour of naming a world best whisky every year. The naming of these best whisky can lead to new trends and more than likely the cause of the resurgence of new world whiskies, blended or single malt. Past winners include; 2014 winner Yamazaki Sherry Cask, 2013 winner Thomas Handy Sazenac Rye and 2012 winner 21 year Old Pulteny. All receiving a boost in publicity and  popularity. Most notably kicking off a Japanese whisky craze. All this to say that this is kind of a big deal.

So a local, seemingly affordable best in the world whisky seems like a no brainer, grab a bottle and review it… well, after a quick search on the Internet and despite being a local Canadian product the closest location that has available stock is below the border or out west. Road trip maybe…

Talisker Dark Storm

imageThe seasons are changing and the winds are plunging the thermometer. The time for light and fragrant is coming to a close, time to usher in the more bold and campfire like affairs. Talisker Dark Storm is nice transition to a more hearty fare.

The nose strongly evokes scents of fresh cut moss and sea brine. The nostril are drawn in to the mellow warmth.image

The palate is quickly filled with a light warm welcoming  burn that fill the mouth with a pleasant saltiness. The transition imagebetween the beginning, middle and end of the sip is a clear fluid transition. On the tongue is a mild tingling burn moving to a medium full mouth feel and then smoothly slipping away.

 

The finish is lasting and pleasant, leaving a slight saltiness that fades quicker than I would have thought.

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This is a solid mid level Islay scotch. Not overburdened by a need to blow you away with peatiness and smoke. Enjoy the fall

Wild Turkey 81

Thoughts on bourbon, I will be honest, not my first choice. However don’t kick a gift horse in the mouth. I got a bottle of Wild Turkey 81 and I will treat it like any other whisky. Bourbons is whiskey in the sense that it is a distilled alcohol made from malted grains.  For whisky the grain in question is at least 50% barley. For Bourbon the the ratio must be at least 51% corn.…by law (http://m.mentalfloss.com/article.php?id=30278) as well as a myriade of other requirents.

This is a young bourbon aged the required 3 years in oak barrels. The nose is chalk full of pleasant vanilla and oak. It moves aggressively though the palate and up the nostril, almost singing the hairs

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The palate is straight forward, not terribly subtle

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The finish is rugged and harsh brining to mind the kind machismo that would agree and say it’s a man that likes the smell of napalm in the morning, I digress. The slow burn chased down the windpipe.

I know there are better bourbons out there and I will gladly try them but this one is good for the mixer and cooking