July 2010 Archives

Old Pulteney 12 Year Old

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Old-Pulteney-12.jpgProduced at the Nothernmost distillery on the Scottish mainland in Wick (a town inaccessible by road until the mid 19th century), it is little surprise that such a place produces such a distinctive whisky. The rub is that its distinction comes from the fact that it is so perfectly balanced in a manner that renders it suitable for almost any palate. Combine this balance with with one of the best looking bottles on the market and you arrive at a whisky that is memorable for every facet of its being.

Nose: Hints of salt air give way to fresh-cut pear before settling down to memories of fresh baked honey-oat bread with a touch of suede leather.

Palate: Opening up with more heat than the 17 year old expression does nothing to diminish its buttery mouthfeel. Once the heat fades, cocoa, honey, and cereal grains manifest with an almost sweet and sour sensation fused with subtle tones of roast almonds.

Finish: Sweet, salt, and a hint of sourness provide the aforementioned balance that few whiskies can achieve. The cereal tones and roast almond remain long into the finish while the heat quickly dissipates into a warm, slightly oakey overtone.

Overall: While not as refined and subtle as its 17 year old counterpart, there is no reason to thumb one's nose at this golden joy. I recommend this one as a Scotch for a night in late fall, when its additional heat and soothing warmth will do extremely well to help one ignore the creeping cold of the impending winter. Absolutely worth picking up if you can find it.

Murray McDavid Dufftown 1997 10 Year Old

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In the latest review of the Murray McDavid independent bottling series, we explore the Dufftown 10 Year Old. Aged in Bourbon casks with a Ridge Zinfandel cask finish, this Speyside whisky had only 3000 bottles produced.

Although only aged 10 years, this mahogany-coloured scotch is surprisingly mellow with almost no heat. The young age however is somewhat apparent by the lack of real depth. Nonetheless, it does come recommended should you see a bottle of this available at your local liquor store.

dufftown.jpgNose: Floral and fruity. Fresh baked bread with a hint of strawberry and cocoa.

Palate: Sweet with a thick but not oily consistency. Slight hints of blueberry muffin and mint.

Finish: Lingering strawberry for a beautifully dry finish.

Overall: Yet another quality bottle from the Murray McDavid limited series also reveals its overall lack of depth. Great scotch for the novice drinker as its sweetness and lack of heat will likely appeal to that group.

Murray McDavid Bladnoch 1992 16yr

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As fans of interesting finishing techniques we were drawn to the Muray McDavid Bladnoch 1992 upon reading that it was first matured in Bourbon casks before being finished in an Amarone cask. Amarone is one of my favorite red wines because of its full-bodied, brooding, layers of flavour that slowly unfold over the life of the glass. While we applaud the attempt to capture some of the complexity of the wine this approach hasn't lived up to our expectations and, we were unanimous in our dislike of how hot and "young" this dram tastes.

Thumbnail image for bladnoch 1992.jpgNose: Red apple underpinned by doughy aromas and a hint of raspberry with very strong alcohol vapours.

Palate: Brief and focused with brown sugar sweetness, raspberry and raisin carried by a stiff heat.

Finish: Mouth-coating with sweet nutty notes, baking spice and lingering heat.

 Overall: This whisky requires a splash of water to take the edge off the surprisingly persistent heat. We at Scotch Blog were disappointed with this expression's lack of complexity, refinement and high price tag at the LCBO. At $110 CDN, there are far better 16yr old single malt whiskies on the shelves.


Purchased at The Park Avenue Liquor Shop in NYC the Ben Nevis 1992 16 Year Old Sherry Butt 54.6%ABV is another fantastic Signatory single cask bottling.

Nose: Dark cherry is prominent with brown sugar and molasses, supported with hints of salted butter and bakery spice. A consistent focal point throughout this dram is pink grapefruit suggesting a summer treat despite its savoury depth.

Palette: As expected, Sherry is a main theme. Salt is prominent. There is a heavy mouthfeel which coats the tongue with buttery sweetness. Further pink grapefruit adds a fresh dimension.

Finish: Coffee and cocoa roll through the finish with lingering heat. Still more grapefruit has a drying effect. A hint of dark chocolate that will put a smile on your face.

Overall: An experience well worth its price and certainly a sherry highlight of any Scotch collection. Guaranteed good times at cask strength or with a few drops of water to soften and define its commanding flavour and texture.

Benromach 21 Year Old

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Benromach-21-Year-Old.gifI received this bottle as a birthday gift in April from my sister and brother-in-law. That it has held me in good stead until now is a testament to how precious it is. Not available in Ontario, I have savored every last drop, enjoying the final dram as I write this review. 

My first experience with the Benromach was their ten year old expression, which I purchased at the Calgary airport during a hasty teleconference with fellow scotch blogger Matt, who provided me real-time intelligence from the Internet as I perused the collection. While highly enjoyable, the 21 year old is far, far superior. Yellow gold in colour, it gives off a rich, leathery nose with notes of toffee, raisins, and a hint of pear. 

The first sip is slightly thick and mellow, and coats the mouth with a warm honey flavor, giving way to a slightly bitter citrus juiciness which I attribute to its sherry cask finishing. It finishes warm, with a gentle peppery burst followed by a touch of black licorice. It is overall mellow, sweet, fruity and sophisticated. A dash of water doesn't change the flavor remarkably, but brings out the sherry notes ever so slightly. I would say it is equally enjoyable either way.

Although I typically prefer bolder, smoky and salty malts, the depth of character of this Speyside malt exemplifies what a sweet, fruity Scotch can be. In terms of accompanying food, it would pair beautifully with dark chocolate, aged white cheddar, or honey glazed ham.


Recent Comments

  • Ryan commented on Old Pulteney 12 Year Old:

    One of our favourites for sure!
    Personally, I'm always a little sad when I finish a bottle of Old Pulteney.
    I've got a Gordon & MacPhail bottling of 21 year old OP that is simply magical. The standard OP 21 was named Whisky of the Year in 2012 but this one is less sweet and more refined IMO. Matured in a re-fill bourbon barrel, it's loaded with peach, tropical fruits, beeswax and honey, ending with milk chocolate tones and a hint of brine...and now I'm salivating.

  • Blair Conrad commented on Old Pulteney 12 Year Old:

    I buy this whisky over and over again. Best value out there.

  • Gerald Eddy commented on McClelland's Single Malt Scotch Whisky - Islay:

    I've read many reviews if this whiskey that condemn it as an unfavorable dram. I agree that as a peated Islay it can't compare to a Laphroig or an Ardbeg. However, despite the lack of complexities of those great single malts, at a third if the cost it will do nicely if your a Scotch whiskey drinker. It is a bit sweet, but it has peaty overtone to their other malts and has a nice vanilla and banana flavor as well. No...it's not a great whiskey, but it is palatable on a budget and is better then a lot if blends at a lower price. I would rather spend my money on this the a Johnny Walker Red which lacks any complexity and is far overrated.

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