That Proper Send-off: The Glenlivet 16 ‘Nadurra’ (0813Y)

Music: The Sundays, “Wild Horses”

In all its infinite wisdom, the LCBO has decided to (temporarily or otherwise) discontinue carrying the Nadurra. Sure they’ll stock the shelves till they collapse with Glenlivet 12, 15 and 18. They’ll burden the shelves with Glenrothes’s lesser drams, and the uninspired Cardhu. But they just won’t keep the Nadurra. So, for one last hurrah, I bought one of their last bottles to see how it’s changed in the last two years.

Nose: This one is over 57%, a might higher than the 53% of the 0911P. In this way, it can take a couple drops of water, and some time to settle down. The nose is a rich and sweet batch of cotton candy and caramel apple. That carnival concession stand that the Ben Nevis ’93 UCC had in spades, but it is missing a complete second gear. It does have a half-step of sweet white wine in the background (think Riesling or Gewürztraminer, though admittedly, I don’t know my white wines enough to tell you which). A nice touch.

Palate: Oily, sweet that goes to tart, and then savoury. An initial burst of crisp green apple, everything I consider typical Glenlivet to be, a burst of that visualization of what “floral” might taste like, and then chardonnay and french bread. A note of smokiness carries the entire thing through. I am going to miss this whisky so much. I might have to make my way to better stocked shelves in another part of this great land.

Finish: Long finish. Honey-dipped apple. Floral.

Grade: B+

A great dram that is equally as good, if not a tad better for the extra strength over my 2011 batch. Everyone Scotch fan in Ontario I’ve talked to that has tried the Nadurra is livid about this decision by the LCBO, but of course, there might be some selection bias there. Some people would rather have 2 bottles of 12yo, I guess.

“And wild horses couldn’t drag me away…”

The Comeback Kid: Jura Elixir 12

Music: DJ Cutman, “Legend of Korra – End Credits”

After the Superstition, I never expected much from Jura. A handful of people have told me, since, that the Superstition is something great, but it was bland, bland, sweet then bland when I tried it. Cue the Elixir. A dram that had been hailed as a great daily dram, sweet but not cloying, viscous and 46%. All the right boxes for a nice sipper. That, and because it came in just under $60 in Ontario, I had to give it a go. After all, I’d only ever had one Jura, and you can’t really pass judgement on a distillery with one data point from one bottle. So, in came the Elixir.

Nose: Cinnamon and sugar on buttered toast, with a touch of hickory smoke. Biscuity goodness with some peaches and plums. Sherry here and there. A hair of acetone, but only if you look.

Palate: Weighty, almost immediately, with a tad bit of nip. Plums and grapes all over, almost Welch’s. A slight sour smoky, sweet and lovely.

Finish: Fruits all over the medium-length finish. Was hoping to get some of the biscuity nose in the finish, but no dice.

Grade: B+

Hard to discern way too much out of this whisky, but there is a lot going on here: it’s just in a basket of goodies so well married together that you just have to enjoy the mélange. At the price of $60 per bottle, this is a keeper on a shelf. A great party whisky, and perhaps even the base for a really good old fashioned or manhattan (cue the cringe from bourbon die-hards).

The Last of its Kind: Bruichladdich 12 (2nd Edition)

Music: Teddie Films, “Dream and Shout” (“Scream and Shout” Les Miserables parody)

As I get ready to “get hitched”, I find myself looking back on the past, and wondering how much things will change after the papers are signed. It has led me to look back at some sample bottles I’ve stored from bottles long depleted to finally put pen to paper on them and write up reviews.

Nose: Gentle coastal salt and vanilla. The bourbon cask is very noticeable here. Vegetal notes. Apricot and pear. Similar to an Arran Malt. Still a bit young so as to be a bit prickly, but it’s still really good.

Palate: Sweet, barely sugar. Lemon and pear. Slight bit of varnish. Somewhat peated at the end.

Finish: Medium length, warming and tart. Lemon cough sweets.

Grade: B

This one is bittersweet, both in profile and in sentiment. There is something glorious about enjoying a piece of a distillery’s past (which, I guess, any dram is), but somewhat saddening to know that this is the last dram you’ll ever have of this chapter in the distillery’s history.  Mixed feelings, but a damn good dram. If you see a bottle sitting on a shelf this summer for a reasonable price, do pick it up, as it’s a perfect summer dram: light, fruity and sweet.

“Here we go, goin’ take this town, because everywhere we go is revolution.

A Cause for Celebration: Robert Burns Malt (The Arran Malt)

Music: The rousing chorus of “Auld Lang Syne”

The Robert Burns Malt by Arran is a truly special malt in that it is good, reasonably complex whisky, for so little. So rare is it that a single malt whisky comes in under $50 here in Ontario that, when one does, it is cause for celebration. My bottle comes in at 43%, which I hear is a step up from the previous 40% bottling. I could imagine that would be way too light.

Nose: Light and citrusy. Oranges, limes and sweet malt. A bright malt for a summer’s day.

Palate: Malty, bright and citrusy, much like the nose, but with a little alcohol nip. Lightly herbacious and smoky. Kind of what the Tobermory 10 tried to be, but without tasting so young.

Finish: Medium in length. Cinnamon and sugar on toast. A tad sour.

Grade: B

Given that summer is on it’s way, I’d pick up a bottle of this if it’s still about here in Ontario. It may even be one of those whiskies that plays well with soda on a hot day.

“And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne”

An evening at Allen’s

A couple friends and I stopped by a local pub recently that is well known in Toronto for its Scotch collection. We decided on a collection of four of the cheapest, most obscure drams, and each passed them around. Here are some quick notes from that evening:

Tomintoul 10 (OB): Bland. Just… bland. C.

Glendower 15 Port Cask: Superb. Fresh honeycomb and nutmeg. Thick and wonderful. They had this as a single malt, though research tells me it’s a blend. In any case, I was fooled, and did enjoy it immensely. Shows you what a blind tasting can do. B+.

1989 Glen Grant 12yo (Cadenhead, I think): Herbacious. Kind of sweet and slightly sour. B.

1976 Imperial 24yo (Signatory): Bready… That hint of yeast and honey. Viscous and clearly well aged. B+.

Happy Victoria Day weekend, friends!

 

 

 

 

 

Sheer Elegance in its Simplicity: Glenfarclas 12

Music: Karen Overton, “Your Loving Arms”

Brief and clean with this review, much like the dram itself.

Nose:
Sweet, but not cloying. I’ve seen the note “creamy” quite a bit with this one, and this Glenfarclas has it so clearly. It’s a rather rich, honeyed dram, with cinnamon and clove. Not much sherry, to my nose. Light smokiness to it, too. A very “Scotchy Scotch”.

Palate: Creamy, sweet and oddly viscous for 43%. Warm, dried fruit and nuts. This is what Glenfarclas is all about, and I’m more than sold by what they do. There is that malty flavour that a good whisky should have, but it has all these nice little accents that make it so appealing—and they’re just that, accents. There may be some sherry here, but it doesn’t take center stage the way I’d imagined it would.

Finish: Not the longest of finishes, but in that way, it’s a very good party dram. It’s complex on the intake, but doesn’t monopolize your time. Apples, pear, and honey. The sherry starts to finally show itself here. A nice touch.

Grade: B+

My favourite low-cost dram, that was, until the LCBO shot the price from $64 to $75. What a tragic day that was.

“And when I dream of the fear that you’re leaving, I reach out…”

A Stroke of Luck, Genius: Bowmore 15 ‘Laimrig’

Music: Daniel Mehrmann & Kara Baldus, “Missed Out”

A dirty ‘farclas. A candied Laphroaig. One of those great drams that straddles the line between two types of Scotch well: a briny, smoky peat bomb, and a sweet, rich sherry bomb. Sometimes they marry terribly, sometimes they’re well balanced. This one fits into the latter category.

Nose: Elements of salt and smoked meat, wood, and sawdust. Peaty. Sherry, cherry, berry! There’s noticeable fruit in the one, that’s for sure. The smoke on this one is a damp, hot tobacco. A bit of a solventy note, like shoe polish… Neat! This one takes time to calm down, as it’s sharp on the nose right off the pour.

Palate: Sour berries, smoked meat, peat and leather. The palate then turns to dark chocolate and pepper. A real mixture of the stormiest Islay and and the richest Speyside sherry bomb. Like a slightly younger Bruichladdich Black Art in many ways, at a fraction of the cost. It’s got more heat than the Black Art, but sometimes you have to ask yourself whether that’s a bad thing. I don’t want my whisky to be so mellow that it’s like drinking candied barley; I mean, I could just buy that instead, and it’d be a hell of a lot cheaper.

Finish: Long. Dark Chocolate, brazil nuts and sawdust. Lingering peat.

Grade: A-

I’ve come across a number of great drams lately, after what felt like a long streak of average ones. This happens to be one of those great ones. It’s not the smoothest, easiest beast to get along with, but that’s what makes it great. It is smooth, no doubt, but if you want liquid gold, you’re going to pay.  In a way, it’s like a less mature (and more briny) version of the Bruichladdich Black Art. At 40% of the price, I’d take 2.5 bottles of this over the Black Art any day. While I thoroughly enjoy the Black Art, this is a great mature sherried Islay for the budget conscious. Also, given that it is only $3 more than the 15 yo Darkest, I better not see the Ontario stocks of Darkest drop before this is sold out in Ontario… else, someone is making a grave error. Laimrig + water > Darkest, 8 days a week.

Update: About half way through the bottle now, after dedicating much of the last 2 months to exploring it, and it’s quirkiness loses some of that charm after a while. Still a great dram, but more an A- than an A. Doesn’t make it into the league of Ardbeg just yet.

“Do you ever wonder if you missed out, missed out on it? If you think it’s worth your time to try and find out, find out yourself.”