July 2009 Archives

Glenfiddich 50 Year Old

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Christmas is only 5 months away...

July 30 (Bloomberg) -- William Grant & Sons Distillers Ltd., the maker of Glenfiddich whisky, today released a 50-year aged version of the liquor that will sell for 10,000 pounds ($16,000), making it the second-most expensive in the world.
William Grant had aged just two casks of the single-malt liquor since the 1950s, waiting to make its first 50-year-old in 18 years. None of the original half-century old whisky is known to be in existence, the company said.

Bloomberg News

Jura Superstition

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t_isle%20of%20jura%20superstition.jpgYou could say that Jura's Superstition is the 10 year's bigger badder brother, but that would be an understatement. It's more appropriate to equate this to the long lost cousin who has travelled the glens and bluffs, become wise and refined himself before returning to his native isle.

The Superstition is a dram that makes no concessions. The tastes present here are strong and distinct making this a unique and formidable expression. Its dark caramel tones on the nose tempt the reviewer in for another, but not all will find glory in the smoked peat found on the palate. The viscous mouthfeel carries through to an obvious finish of honey and citrus.

This malt punches well above its belt. You don't have to buy a case like we did, but at $57 CAD there is great value here. Especially if smoke and peat turn your crank, a bottle won't last long, so maybe 2 bottles is best to start.

The next Jura on our shelf is the 16 year, a rarer bottle that we procured from Ontario's vintage listings. However, even if the 16 fares well with us, we may not be able to find it again as we can the Superstition.

Bell's Old Scotch Whisky

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I moved into a new apartment the other week, so the scotch club boys and I decided to have a little fun and crack open something I have had for quite some time. Not a fine single malt, mind you, but a rather suspicious bottle of Bell's "Old Scotch Whisky."

bells bottle.jpg

This was given to me as a gift, and I've held onto it because it was a funny trinket - a ceramic bottle shaped like a bell of age and origins unknown.

Now, we knew this was dicey territory going into it. The last person who attempted to open the bottle only managed to separate the top from the cork which was left inside the neck. The chances of contents not being corked were slim. Still, fortune favours the bold, so with a little ingenuity and a bit of careful drilling, we were able to create an aperture through which to extract the dark burgundy contents. We actually had to use a coffee filter to eliminate the stray bits of cork. Yes folks, this is not your usual Scotch Club fair.

bells robin.jpg

Mystery bottles like this, I think, can be a lot of fun. Part of the enjoyment I have taken from refining my scotch palette has to do with being able to better appreciate the subtle flavours of drams that aren't well aged single malts. When you have tried a wide selection of the best Scotch in the world, you can taste any whiskey more deeply and fully.

bells sean.jpg

The notes on this one are a little hard to make out, but there was a nose of cognac, molasses, and sweet butterscotch.  This was followed by dark rum, a somewhat overwhelming pine taste, with dried cherry, and (unfortunately) a hint of turpentine. Not the finest taste experience ever, but definitely unique. 

Oh yeah did I mention there was cake?

scotch cake.jpg

(The cake is not a lie)

Source: The Scotsman

By Christopher Mackie
LAST month, a decision by the Italian supreme court drew to a close a whisky dispute that had been running long enough to mature a bottle of finest single malt.
The judges' decision meant an Italian businessman was finally prevented from selling alcohol bearing names such as "MacQueen" and "Clan 55" as Scotch whisky.  


"We were very fortunate in that, as long ago as the 1950s, the various companies decidedthe number-one objective of the SWA was to protect Scotch whisky from imitations," says Mr Barclay. "The reason being, what we don't want is Scotch whisky being a type of whisky that can be produced anywhere."

He cites the example of Cheddar cheese, which, after originating in a very specific area of Somerset, is now produced - to varying degrees of quality - all across the globe.

He continues: "We are trying to ensure that whenever someone buys a bottle of Scotch whisky, it is from Scotland, otherwise a member of ours has lost a sale. 

"If it isn't, not only has one sale been lost, if the consumer drinks it and it's absolutely filthy, he's going to say, 'I'm not buying that Scotch whisky again'. Reputation is quickly damaged."

The dilligence of the SWA in ensuring that we never end up with industrial alcohol with whisky flavouring is of great comfort to me.

This week we decided to sample the ten year old "heavily peated" expression from The BenRiach, a speyside distillery that we have not sampled before.

This bottle certainly delivers on its promise of "explosive peat reek", truly pushing the boundaries of palatability with hot, wafting odor of peat on the nose and throughout. The wave of peat is followed by aftershocks of iodine, salt, leather and preserved fruits. There is a "shoebox" mustiness and oily texture which is not pleasing at all.

Adding ice brings out greater balance, sweetness, and a peppermint finish which is much more enjoyable. All in all, it has the character of a sweet, Speyside malt--smashed with peat. It's far to closed to drink straight, so keep ice or spring water handy to soften the blow. I have much higher hopes for the Pedro Ximenes and Tawny Port barreled expressions from BenRiach, which are both bottled at 15 years and presumably spared the clumsy blast of excessive peat present here.

GlenDronach 12

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GlenDronach12.jpg Not for the petulant scotchist, GlenDronach 12's overwhelmingly tequila nose is an instantaneously nauseating slap in the face. Past the initial gag reflex, gentle wafts of peppermint toffee, raisins, cinnamon, wheat, and salt. A deep breath provides heavy alcohol, foreshadowing the malt's obscured flavor.

Of medium viscosity and a full mouth feeling, the bottle's subtle almond, coffee and caramel flavors are accompanied by moderate heat. Though the bottle promises the essence of sherry maturation, such refinement is miserably undetectable. Enhancing its peat and smoke, a splash of water helps to focus this muttered Speyside.

Finishing with oatmeal, cocoa and pepper, hot throat vapors linger.

Unremarkable, slightly offensive on the nose, and really quite warm overall, GlenDronach 12 is best dispatched in the dark depths of a Canadian February.

Oban 14 Year Old

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Yet again it is my pleasure to be reviewing the product of one of the smaller distilleries in Scotland, with the added joy that comes with the task of critiquing a gift bottle. This West Highland malt has been in production since 1794, and the craft has clearly been well honed over that duration.

oban_14_year_old_malt.jpgNose: Leather imbued with faint yet equal measures of salt air and iodine arriving and departing quickly before settling out over wisps of toffee.

Palate: Rich, mellow slightly viscous mouth feel yielding much of what was revealed in the nose. The leather gives way to heather and peat with the subtle hints of seaside brine, the faintest tannins, and dried fruit.

Finish: As the peat dissipates, the tannins give way to the most subtle notes of cocoa and dried apricots resulting in a splendidly dry lingering finish.

Overall: A truly well rounded dram that is both suitable for the introductory drinker and the seasoned veteran. That said, this is most definitely one for the palette that enjoys bold flavours and would certainly sit well with those who routinely enjoy Guinness as their pint of choice. I am pleased to keep this one on my shelf and would never disapprove of anyone who chooses to do the same.

I am excited to see the results of this. Naturally in the whisky world, that means we will need to wait for years, but all good things take time

My thanks to the fine folks at the BBC for this one.

Malt whisky 'taste quest' begins

Scientists will examine the role of oak casks in the flavouring of malt whiskies

Scientists in Glasgow are aiming to discover what gives malt whiskies their distinctive flavour.

Researchers at Strathclyde University will focus on the role which oak casks play in determining the flavour.

They will examine the effect of different types of cask by comparing untreated oak to wood which has been heat treated.

The team hopes its findings will allow distillers to more easily control and maintain product quality.

The team, from the university's department of pure and applied chemistry, is conducting the research with the drinks firm Diageo.

'Sustaining quality'

Dr Jim Lewicki, who is leading the research, said: "A lot of the taste from whisky comes from the oak barrels themselves - very little of the taste comes from the distillation of spirit.

"Newly distilled whisky is essentially colourless when it goes into the cask, but when it comes out after several years, it has become golden brown and has collected a number of different flavours.

"We're looking to characterise and replicate, under controlled conditions, aspects of the cask flavouring processes that go on in traditional manufacture of casks and so develop further our knowledge about them.

"This is about sustaining good quality and making it better. If you have a famous brand, connoisseurs expect this."



Recent Comments

  • Isabelle Gurble commented on The Famous Jubilee, Special Edition Reserve:

    This looks amazing, something my husband would love. His birth is coming up soon as well.

  • Ryan commented on Forty Creek Heart of Gold:

    Hi Sherry, I think you might be outta luck on this one. Only 9000 bottles of this delicious whisky were produced and I'd wager most - if not all - purveyors have been sold out for quite some time now. If you're looking to sample it, I'd recommend visiting your local whisky bar and checking their list of Canadian whisky offerings. Your only other option would be to try and track down someone willing to give up their bottle? I've got one 2oz sample tucked away and, sorry, I'm keeping it all to myself! :) Good luck! Let us know if you find a bottle!

  • Sherry commented on Forty Creek Heart of Gold:

    Do you know where I can purchase this item?

    Sherry Boutilier

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