Auchentoshan 21 – Polish up your finest leather shoes, get the tweed jacket cleaned and pressed, you are about to join the aristocracy. This rare Lowland whiskey is the only one distilled in Glasgow and the technique of triple distilling makes it truly a malt for the connoisseur…or for posers like us. My glass highlighted the brassy colored liquid which made me anticipate power and strength in the nose but instead I found lightness and subtlety. The flavor profile was soft and spicy with a touch of citrus and maybe some floral notes that complete the taste. My regular Scotch choices include bold flavors and complexity but here is another animal entirely. It takes awhile for the delicate nuances to present themselves but what an experience…….The best way to describe the taste is ultra clean and fresh with elegant layers and sweet depth. Enjoy this one with a friend who appreciates jazz more than rock and take your time in the process. Upper crust rated a lofty 9 on the Snob scale.
Balvenie Caribbean 14 – Cue the steel drums and grab your most obnoxious floral shirt ’cause we’re off to the tropics. This family distillery has added a spicy new flavor to their distinguished lineup by aging the whisky in rum casks to make a perfect teenager. Imagine a sultry beach evening with soft breezes and a hefty pour in your glass sporting toffee and fruit flavors, that’s the perfect formula. The rich gold color speaks of sunsets and unrefined brown sugar notes round out the taste. Full and robust is the best way to describe the mouth feel with some tropical fruit revealing itself at the finish…… I think there is a cake-like flavor mid taste and you might forget about dessert if this were offered instead. The rum casks have left their mark on the flavors here even more than Jimmy Buffet’s music did to your last beach party. You see Mon…the rating is only 8 but the scotch is still great ! Enjoy your mini vacation.
Old Pultney 12- The coastal town of Wick in the Highland region is for the hearty of spirit only. The townsmen made their living at sea and fisherman need a strong and welcoming glass when they return from a long days work. I found great waves of creamy vanilla with some citrus notes in the flavor mix…. and just a hint of some mysterious spice ( perhaps nutmeg ) as well. The nose offers up a strong perfumed fragrance with only a hint of smoke . There was a satisfying traditional mouthfeel that makes me want to kick back and look out over the harbor while enjoying this dram. I imagine that after staring at the fishing nets for days on end this was considered a truly special reward. Just be sure to keep an eye on your mooring line so you don’t take an unexpected swim at the end of the evening….Fishing for a living paralells life in general, where hard work
and knowledge occasionally still need a little bit of luck for success. Snobbishly rated a 7 and recommended to enjoy with your next seafood dinner.
Ardbeg 10- As our world begins the inevitable return to near ice age conditions…….seek warmth this evening. A gigantic smoky wallop is what you will get with this powerful dram from Islay. Embrace the outdoor cold and revel in the warmth of this massive dram. Pouring the rich golden liquid will immediatly fill the surrounding air with tremendous smoke and peat, nothing subtle here . Get your nose right into the glass to enjoy the full intensity of this monster. I taste the earthy goodness that the distillers infused the whisky with and possibly some dried fruit as well. All this fire and brimstone is however nicely softened by the caramel and honey notes that carry the complex flavors to a fine warm and rather lengthy finish. This is a full bodied and ultra rich malt , not for the delicate of palate . Remember the last campfire you enjoyed with friends ? This scotch will bring back that memory each time you pour a glass and warm you just as nicely, without the sooty mess on your plaid sweater! Snobbishly rated a 7.5 for most, but add a point if you are a peat lover. Three cheers for the smoke.
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.