Bruichladdich Rocks- These people break all the rules and somehow the result is just grand. An un-peated Islay malt is unheard of and it’s the water that filters through the rocks that makes the magic happen according to head distiller Jim McEwan, and I surmise that he know’s a wee bit about this issue. This non-smoky single malt is a feisty dude with a boat load of character. Islay is home to several of my favorite single malts and this newbie just made the list even longer. Rocks indeed…..the name is a misnomer if ever there was one because this is a smooth drink dripping with character, nothing crude here. The liquid is a beautiful amber color and the nose is rich and slightly sweet with a good dose of alcohol initially. The usual caramel flavors give way to some interesting heather or floral notes and the finish is lingering. Keep the ice away from this one even in the summer sun, it demands to be enjoyed neat ….. Oh, and that crazy color on the label? My pal Nicole swears that the ocean at the Bruichladdich distillery really looks like that, maybe we need a field trip to verify . I rate this crazy rebel a solid 8.
Tullibardine – I occasionally wonder about the curious link between track centric people and single malts. As you review your corner data back home in the den, a wee dram of this Highland whisky should be part of your process. Tullibardine means ” lookout hill” in gaelic and from my vantage point here I’m looking at a paddock full of highly tuned track machines. Many of my friends who are engaged in this pursuit are serious fans of esoteric scotches. Our subject malt pours bright gold and has a sweet citrus nose with a smooth and clean finish. Lighter that most, there is a distinctive wine like presence that may result from the aging in bourbon barrels. I found some spiciness in the mouthfeel and think most fans of a waving checkered flag will enjoy this winner. It may not be the smoothest ………. but neither is that motor of yours with the full race cam. Best enjoyed after your next event and rated a solid 7 on the snob tachometer…..
The Dalmore – Think back to when you were cut from the JV team….devastating right? Now you’ve achieved some level of success and and can splurge a bit and this is your revenge. Back in the day, legend has it that the owner of the Dalmore distillery saved his King from a charging stag and therefore was granted permission to use this “Royal” symbol for his whisky. The Stags head on the bottle is only the beginning of a unique scotch experience. This beautiful orange liquid has a sweet nose and a thick but delicious maltiness. There is some initial spiciness followed by a mellow flavor of vanilla . The scotch is started aging in American bourbon casks but finished for three final years in oloroso sherry barrels , hence the sweetness. The finish was long and satisfying and how can you possibly beat that 12 pointer on the bottle ! So enjoy the fruits of your hard won labors and remember that the kid who starred on the JV team is still asking people ,“paper or plastic”….. I rate this muscular stud a hearty 8
GlenDronach 12- It has been a tradition to offer up a dram about mid way through a practice session and this bluesy malt was one of the chart toppers. The deep amber color perfectly matched the vintage fade on my drums and the nose was ultra sweet with toffee notes and some vanilla overtones. The taste was a crescendo of flavors with a staccato pepper beat and a powerful finish. My suggestion is to enjoy this bold flavored malt with a Jeff Beck CD and some like minded folks as the music in your glass would be enhanced and the experience would linger on into the evening. See if you can identify the fruit overtones and send your comments back, I love the feedback. Try not to rush the tempo of your drink and just enjoy it mellow. I rate this amber beauty a solid 9.
AnCnoc 12- A recent visit to the Guggenheim renewed my interest in all things modern. Many single malts have vintage formulas and equally stogy graphics which brings us to the artistically contemporary AnCnoc 12 produced by the good folks at Knockdhu. Gaelic for “ The Hill “, it should be no surprise that this yellow hued beauty is a highland malt. The nose was ultra crisp with a good dose of pepper and and a minor stroke of smoke. The mouth feel was clean and creamy with the usual Speyside fruit hidden somewhere deep in the composition. The lovely finish was long and lingering and the malt itself was representative of the clean and graphic label. All the essentials for a memorable drink are here and while this may not be the “ Picasso” of single malts, it is surely worth adding to your gallery…Rated a painterly 7 on the snob scale.
Clynelish 14- Don’t let the wacky cat scare you away from this coastal overachiever. Our subject is a Highland classic that pours a beautiful orange color and your initial sense will be delicate floral notes with a subtle sweetness. Enjoyed neat , you’ll find spicy overtones and a lingering warm finish. You might detect additional nuances by adding a few drops of water ……My personal preference is having distinctive peat and this single malt delivers a mild smokiness that is soft enough for almost any whisky fan. In my experience , most felines are perpetually blasé , but this one has the correct level of attitude and character. I rate it a puurrfectly warm and fuzzy 7.5.
Aberlour 12 – As we contemplate the spectacular Sochi Olympics, I have a strategy to help you truly enjoy the competition. Acquire a bottle of this Double Cask Matured highland malt and prepare a comfortable chair for you and a friend in front of the 80 inch flatscreen. It’s the gold medal color that first grabs your attention and the mellow nose with mild spiciness ices the job. The full flavor with toffee and caramel lingers well past the finish line. Not even Vladimir Putin’s rants could spoil the experience for true Speyside fans, yup ….the distillers call their product a “ Highland Speyside Malt” …go figure. Enjoy your own opening ceremony with this highly trained Whisky , rated a podium worthy 8 on the snob scale.