Jura Superstition - If you travel to the remote Isle of Jura off the west coast of Scotland, you will hear tales of strange customs and legends. The bottle containing this fine malt is decorated with the ancient Ankh symbol which is rumored to bring good fortune, especially if you wear your lucky socks . I can assure you at least of good tastings if you pour a dram of this spicy and lightly peated whisky…so maybe the Ankh is a good omen. The rocky soil and heathery peat each contribute to the subtle flavors of honey and a crisp woody note . Neat is the only way to appreciate this special single malt and you might want to avoid any black cats or full moon evenings for your first taste. I found that the finish was long and sweet with a slight smokiness . Highly recommended with an 8.5 rating , just not on Friday the 13th
Oban 14- There is something fishy about this Western Highland malt, primarily because it harkens from the town of Oban which was a fishing village for hundreds of years before the distillery was constructed in the late 1700’s. Talk about a rich history ….you can detect a slightly salty air in your glass if you give it a chance to linger . Richly colored like an amber jewel , this smooth and slightly malty scotch has a dry delicious texture on the palate . I detected subtle creaminess in my second glass which made me think this would be a fine after dinner dram, perfect for following your grilled beef or venison. There is a subtle but delightful bit of peat balanced by some fruit mid taste. I image this as the ideal reward for landing a “keeper” on a dry fly. Easily an 8+. Oh, and to avoid sounding like a rookie….remember when ordering that the A is silent.
Lagavulin 16… “great balls of fire” said Jerry Lee Lewis, well here is the embodiment of that classic rock tune in a bottle. A generous dose of peat and serious smoky flavors will reward those who enjoy it neat. This whisky is intense and complex with a lingering finish , I found a sea side saltiness underneath the smoke and fire. The folks on Islay take their time nurturing this prize…. it matures and grows stronger for 16 years in oak prior to landing in your bottle. this 86 proof is much smoother than you might expect but is definitely not a beginners malt, my guess is that the Killer himself would be a fan of this power house Scotch, I rate it a smoldering 8.5..Slainte!
Brenne…Sacré Bleu mon ami…One of the Snob’s favorite whisky bloggers has launched her own single malt! Kudos to the Whisky Woman for this world class achievement in the distilling arena. This lovely and well balenced French Single Malt is aged in Cognac barrels which infuses the malt with a delightful sweetness, adding to the complexity. I detected equal parts of subtle fruit and grain initially and the finish was lingering and just a bit spicy. Finding this malted tour de force will take some patience as distribution progresses but this link will allow you to purchase a bottle from your favorite chair.
The Peat Monster …. Our timing seems perfect to discuss Dr. Stu’s contribution to our season ending celebration. In this corner of the world, burning a huge pile of amber leaves is a fall ritual which should be enhanced by enjoying a glass of this “liquid autumn”. One whiff of this smoky scotch sets the stage for a vanilla sweetness with an oaky flavor infusion. The maple leaf color is perfectly suited to enjoying this blend with a few splashes of water . There is not as much complexity here as with a good single malt but it still deserves a spot on your shelf. Take a break from the rake and tame the Monster in front of your fireplace….I rate this beast a solid 7.
The Johnnie Walker Rainbow. The Snob was fortunate to be included in a select group of Malt Junkies at TK’s lounge recently. Fortunately for the group, the selection of Johnnies did not include the “Dreaded Red” which seems to haunt most proletarian bars due to it’s price . Our host began the festivities with the tuxedo Black poured neat and its malty overtones of sherry and toffee were quite nice actually. With the group being very environmentally sensitive, we moved on to the Green which was noticeably smoother and more luxurious in its nose, a real move up market. Batting third was the lovely Gold with its sunny sweetness and subtle peat, I found this to be my favorite in the lineup. Finally our host ceremonially poured the storied Blue and much to my surprise, it seemed over refined …perhaps the blending was too complex and it muted the oaky flavors . The peat was barely perceptible and the finish was rather quick. The cleanup batter managed to get on base but failed to live up to its reputation. I loved the concept of tasting the “siblings” in sequence and these whiskeys offer surprising character and drinkability. In order I rate them 7, 7.5, 8.5, and 7.5. Invite the full lineup to your next gathering and enjoy the diversity .
The good folks who make that lovely smoky Laphroaig Single Malt are going to be producing a live and interactive whisky tasting webTV show from Nuremberg, Laphroaig Live 2012, with Laphroaig Distillery Manager, John Campbell, master blender Robert Hicks, and some other whisky aficionados. Join them for a fine experience using this link, cheers !
Auchentoshan Classic- So my friend Charlie has this tradition whilst fly fishing….when you land a trout, you take a celebratory drink from the always present silver flask. Our subject scotch might just be the perfect streamside companion. Now Charlie favors Canadian whisky, clearly a character flaw, but right-minded folks would do well to consider this alternative. It’s lightly peated and malty with a distinctive oilyness ….which is a great combination. It’s an 80 proof bottle which should keep you from taking an unexpected downstream excursion. As a possible side benefit on a day when they are not biting…at least you are self contained. Scottishly inexpensive , but still the real (reel…) deal, I rate this one a 7, oh, and always catch and release.
Bushmills 21 Irish whiskey- The Snob has invaded a new island! Irish ….darn right ! The drink of choice for my friend JS , this sweet and fragrant single malt is spicy and delightfully complex with fruit notes and a lingering finish. Aging in sherry and bourbon casks for 21 years has worked its magic by infusing the flavors with citrus and sweetly grapelike flavors. I might need a bit more exploration time to appreciate the subtleties in this bottle, which is visually intriguing due to the stylish embossed flanks and square shape. Broaden your horizons, welcome your Irish neighbor to the table! I rate it a solid 7.5 .
The Black Grouse-Sacrilege! ….how could the Snob possibly drink , much less review , a blend ? A good friend once called me an uncomplimentary name because I brought a single malt to a mass gathering of automotive sporting types. Predictably, the whisky disappeared in a wink and I was left empty handed. Now for people with unlimited beverage budgets that might be fine, but JT introduced me to the concept of an everyday scotch. The Black Grouse is one notch up in character from a common blend and has a wonderful peaty finish to boot. A silky smooth blend with notes of smoky caramel that deserves a spot on the starting grid and is a great value. This flavorful game bird has a lingering powerful finish. Fortunately the 80 proof whiskey is feather free . I would rate this blend at 6.5, unremarkable but solid.