Bunnahabhain 12- For an Islay malt, this one defies all the norms. This is a wonderfully traditional mellow fellow which claims that its non chillfiltering technique insures that we get all the powerful flavors and aromas without the harshness and drama . There is only a faint whiff of peat in the nose and I found something tasting like a pear salad in the middle of the glass, quite unique indeed. The fruit flavor is surrounded by vanilla and malt in equal measures. There is an unusual ” lightness” to this scotch which I would never expect based on the tar black bottle it arrives in. You will impress your malt loving friends if you learn to pronounce it properly and order accordingly , it’s like the secret handshake or the magic decoder ring, instant cred in the bar. So with the holidays rapidly approaching, now is the time to ready your bar for all the usual celebrations and this one needs to be at the top of your list. And that other mellow fellow that wears the red suit…. he or she would undoubtedly like a good suggestion for under the tree. I rate this smoothy a warm 8 and wish you all a most cheerful holiday season.
Talisker Storm- ” you say you want a rev-o-lution ” To invoke the Beatles here seems very appropriate. This revolutionary Malt roared out of the blue with an intense flavor and a cutting edge concept . We are all used to seeing the number of years our Scotch has been barrel aging but Talisker tossed that idea out during the maelstrom….the resulting 90 proof powerhouse is positive evidence that this can be a wildly successful formula. Even the contemporary label design and packaging invoke the raging sea around the Isle of Skye where this rugged individualist is created. I found a large doses of warming sweetness initially and then the flavor opens up with fury and power as the peppery finish lingers on and on. I taste the usual caramel and spices here but there is an edgy distinctive explosion that can only be attributed to the seaside location. I believe this malt is being marketed to new and younger scotch fans and it seems as though the target has been hit dead center. So here’s a note from John and Paul to all you traditionalists, ” don’t you know it’s gonna be…all right…all right ” I rate this raging newcomer a 7.5 and urge you to seek shelter, and take a second glass with you.
Bowmore 12- As we enter into the cooler fall months it makes perfect sense to add a bit of warmth to our lives. I suggest a glass of this slightly magical amber malt might be the perfect solution. This Islay distillery uses a unique peating process which is manifested in the wonderful smoky nose as you swirl the whisky . Make sure that you taste this with the appropriate glass to help focus the aroma as your enjoy the citrus and honey flavors. I found some saltiness in the front and a lingering finish that is well worth sharing with your best friends……For an Islay Scotch , this one is only moderately peated and in our tasting group it disappeared faster than Houdini. I rate this smoldering beauty a rock solid 8 on the Snob Scale.
Glen Moray- Blasphemy ! What single malt nutcase would ever add ice to such a drink ? Well in our corner of the world it’s mighty hot right now and I prefer a chilled glass after the days work is done….This flaxen beauty seems to benefit from the cold stuff and I recommend it for several reasons. The scotch is a Speyside classic with a malty mouth feel and a bit of fruit flavor, perhaps pears in the background. It is undated (read young and edgy) and therefore is smoother and more fragrant with the added cube or two. This is a light whisky , at 80 proof, and the taste backs that up by being clean and bright in your glass and ultra light as you enjoy it. The price of entry here is quite modest for a single and it has a history dating back to 1897, which is no small feat. The subject was kindly provided by my friends who are ace rally teammates (R & A) and the curvaceous container came complete with beautifully etched glassware. I suggest you run to your local shop and grab a bottle or two before the word gets out ! A fine summer drink if ever there was one….cooly rated a 7 on the snob’s summer scale.
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