May 2011 Archives

The Case Against Using a Rating System

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A+. 95. Nine thumbs up. What does all this mean? 

Sure, they provide a frame of reference to someone. But who? 

That point of reference can only be in relation to the palate of the reviewer. Therefore every rating system out there is predicated on the tastebuds of the provider, and who's to say that your tastes are aligned with theirs?

Over the past several months I have been asked many times why we don't use a ratings system here at ScotchBlog. I have thought about that long and hard. I've raised it at meetings. Hell, Scott and I even devised a carefully constructed mathematical formula whereby a perfect rating would be 12.7. But that's just as absurd as anything else because it is only built on the tastes and predisposition of the writer, thereby rendering the rating entirely useless to anyone but themselves. 
Tullibardine 1993 PX Finish 1.jpgUsing sherry to finish a single malt is nothing new in the world of whisky. But using Pedro Ximenez sherry casks to finish one of the smoothest, most delicate single malts to emerge in the past decade is something that certainly grabs my attention. Starting strong with such a supple spirit, the sherry delivers a depth to the dram that makes it worth seeking out. 

Nose: Arriving with a resounding waft of almond off the top, the round, woody tones yield to distant leather and light brown sugar. Faintly grassy, hints of coffee come paired with orange chocolate, with this final element only being elevated when a splash of water is added.

Palate:  Fans of the 1993's soft, buttery mouthfeel can take heart in the fact that it continues unabated. Delivering what is promised on the nose, rich brown sugar elements arrive coupled with the orange chocolate, eventually giving way to the sherry notes, yet somehow remaining not overly sweet throughout this evolution.

Battle of the Blends - Round 2, Part 2

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The Black Grouse flaps its wings and knocks Grant's Ale Cask from the running. (vote: 5-0)
Grant's Family Reserve barely squeaks through as Dewar's thin, grainy, mouthfeel contributes to its undoing. (vote: 4-3)

See the bracket here

The Guardian has published an interesting article on a new bio-energy plant being built at Rothes in the Speyside region of Scotland. What makes this plant interesting is that it generates energy by burning spent malt and other grains that were used in the distilling process to create scotch whisky. The plant will generate up to of 7.2 MW electricity, and steam generated by the plant will be used to heat nearby buildings (including a distillery).

Although this doesn't really come as a surprise, two British gentlemen have put to the test whether a new make spirit, fresh from distillation has enough energy to actually power a car. They use a Bruichladdich x4 distilled spirit to power a high-performance race car. Their results are demonstrated in this YouTube video

Bowmore 17 vs 18

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Thumbnail image for Bowmore17vs18.JPGWe were fortunate enough to have these two Bowmore expressions on hand, both acquired in separate duty-free transactions abroad.  It was a foregone conclusion to taste them against each other.  Note that you can currently find the 18 yo at the LCBO, but not the 17.

The spirits look about the same colour in both bottles, but of course, Bowmore isn't shy about using caramel to give their whiskies an almost reddish hue.

So, putting 18 in the glass...

Nose: Subtle with smoke and sherry notes.  Ripe fruit, baking spices and a touch of cocoa.

Palate: Just a flash of peat, a medium mouthfeel, deep limey citrus and salt.

Finish: Black pepper, butterscotch and wet, musty earth.

Glenrothes Vintage 1985

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Glenrothes 1985.jpgFrom time to time one must indulge on the slightly pricier side of the whisky spectrum. A celebration is just one of those times. Looking for something a touch more decadent to mark the passing of another year at Scotchblog, the choice was made to reach back through the years to grab hold of one such whisky from one of the truly definitive Speyside distilleries. 

Nose: The first thing to appear are the woody notes of the oak, quickly giving way to brown sugar tones reminiscent of rum, and ultimately conjuring the scent of warm buttered toast with light spices buried in the bread.

Palate: Working from front to back, the smooth, buttery mouthfeel delivers a fine balance between the oak elements and murmurs of fruit and spice. All the while playing with flashes of vanilla, almond, and distant milk chocolate.

Glenfarclas 105 Cask Strength

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Nose: Remarkably light alcohol vapours from this ten-year-old cask strength (60%abv), sweet sherried fruit, molasses, apples and pears, light coffee and white chocolate with a bit of oak.

Palate: Cloves, lots of cherry, more oak sensations and a rich mouthfeel without excessive heat.

Finish: Spicy with sherry nuttiness, dry and oaky with mild warmth.

Overall: A well rounded, smooth, and easily drinkable cask strength whisky. Water reduces the bottle's warmth and amplifies its spice. Neat is my preference. $79.95 at the LCBO.


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

Whisky Wheel

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