Aberlour 10

Aberlour 10 is an Aberlour a’Bunadh light. A very similar sherried, Christmas-cake whisky, but not as bold, not as cool, and just not as complex. But is it only half as good as the price discrepency would suggest? No. It’s a bit better than that.

Nose: Smooth, buttery sherry is the name of the game here. Christmas cake. Fruity, baked notes. Vanilla. A platter of desserts in a glass.

Palate: Some level of coolness, like the a’Bunadh. Syrupy sweet and fruity, but not as chewy as the a’Bunadh.

Finish: Dry, medium long, sweet sherry, with vanilla and tobacco notes.

Grade: B-

Of course, I didn’t initially intend this review to be a direct comparison to the a’Bunadh, but these whiskies are close enough that it just makes sense.  If you want a complex, rich, cask-strength sherry-bomb, the a’Bunadh is your dram. If you’re on a budget, and/or you’re looking for an  everyday sherried dram that doesn’t pack the same contemplative punch, then the 10 year will do you just fine. (To be entirely fair to the a’Bunadh, the water you would add makes the bottle go a heck of a lot further…)


West, and back again: Bruichladdich ‘The Laddie Ten’

For my travels out west (Calgary), the spoils come in the form of new Scotch. I purchased two bottles of Bruichladdich 10 yr on the hype from fellow bloggers, and the fact that they don’t sell it here in Ontario. Let’s just say I’m glad I did.

Nose: A little young without water, so I took this with 1 teaspoon. Well worth it. Immediate sweet, creamy speyside butterscotchy notes, side-by-side with the lowlander (Auchentoshan) fresh cereal notes. Unpeated, yes, but it seems to be missing all the Islay characteristics… But, let’s let this glass sit for about 15 minutes…

…And, there we go. Wow. A nose full of leather, brine, and a real coastal saltiness (like crushed rock salt). It’s like we’re on the Isle of Skye, nosing a particularly mature Talisker. Hints of licorice. Speyside notes now play backup, with some vegetal notes in there. It also seems like there might be peat, but then again, maybe not. It feels like there is a slight smoky overtone. When the glass is almost empty, we get some of those Auchentoshan Valinch baked notes, with cinnamon hearts. A complex nose, to be sure.

Palate: Incredibly viscous. Thick, like you’d expect from an Islay. Deliciously bittersweet, a sort of salted fudge with butterscotch. Some of those speyside notes come through. Warming, leathery, and everything I wish the Talisker 10 was, and more. Alittle of that Mortlach olive-oil.

Finish: Medium-long, but long without water. Mouth-watering. Increasingly warming. Leathery Talisker notes. Salted fudge once again. A little bit of aniseed.

Grade: B+

Bruichladdich has hit another home-run with the Laddie Ten. This cosmopolitan whisky makes me feel as if, along side their Port Charlotte, you could just about journey all the regions of Scotland, without ever leaving Bruichladdich. Of course, I’m terribly oversimplifying,  but this whisky makes you feel as if you could. Bruichladdich has managed a whisky that noses (coarsely) of Glenlivet, Talisker, Laphroaig (for the licorice and brine) and Auchentoshan, while tasting of Highland Park, Auchentoshan, Mortlach and Talisker. With so many experiences in one glass, the Laddie Ten surpasses even my over-hyped expectations (courtesy of Whiskybitch and Ralfy @ralfy.com).

Currently, this whisky is $60 in Calgary (where I purchased two bottles!). So, as an added bonus, it’s also a superior bang-for-your-buck whisky. I wager if they bring it to Ontario, we’ll probably see it at around $75, but that would still be worth it.

A Short Vacation

Whisky, Empirically will be taking a short break over the next week while I travel to Calgary for a conference. The good thing about the short hiatus is that I hope to return with a bottle (or two!) of Bruichladdich’s Laddie Ten. I’ve been excited about possibly picking up this bottle for months now.

Also, I will eventually review the Aberlour 10, but I have yet to crack the bottle open–too many speysiders open at the moment.


Lagavulin 16

Lagavulin 16 is another one of those benchmark whiskies that introduces many people to single malt Scotch, as it is available at most bars who stock more than just your usual Johnny Walker Red/Black.  Given its availability, and the fact that it’s bloody delicious, you’ve got yourself a cabinet staple. Well, that’s of course, save for one thing: it’s $100+ a bottle in Canada. Perhaps the cruelest trick someone can play on you is to introduce you to Islay via a glass of Lagavulin 16. To be introduced to Alaskan King before you’ve even had imitation crab is a hell of a summit to come down from, if your budget so forces you.

Nose: Peat, iodine, medicinal notes. Some leather. I always get a big whiff of something that’s a cross between lapsang souchong and hickory wood chips smoking from a BBQ.

Palate: Medium-viscosity. Smoky, peaty, iodine and medicinal. Smooth as all hell, save for that ever-so-slight bar-alcohol tinge. Perhaps this is what is happening to new Lagavulin 16, as it wasn’t like this when I first tried it almost 10 years ago.

Finish: Smoky, delicious, and long.

Grade: B+

This whisky is wonderous, but I fear that world demand has caused some declines in quality at Lagavulin (preventing it from getting the A-). It’s a great whisky, still, and everyone should own a bottle at least once for the experience. In the US, it’s generally cheap enough to be a staple whisky. In Ontario, not so much.