A “Marry” Man: Glengoyne 18

Music: Bright Eyes, “First Day of My Life”

By the looks of the last review’s date stamp, it’s been a while since I’ve written up a review. This is not for lack of new whiskies to try, but for lack of time to put all my thoughts together. I am, by now, a married man. I spent a lovely honeymoon partially in the Scotch holy land, though stationed firmly in Edinburgh. I had purchased myself a few great whiskies (reviews to follow on an 18yo Longmorn, and in time, a 25yo Mortlach from Cadenhead’s), and in particular, capped most evenings with a dram from my quarter bottle of Glengoyne 18. I mean, if you’re on your honeymoon, might as well night cap with class.

Nose: Mixed nuts, rum raisin, malt and dark brown sugar. The molasses is strong with this one. The sweetness gives way to olives and bread with time. Nothing is too stark, but instead married well, incredibly comfortable with itself: its place in the glass, and the world.

Palate: Always a pleasant surprise when a 43% ABV whisky coats even your teeth. The brown sugar comes in, with floral notes and general sweetness. Malty as all hell, with plenty of wood influence from the cask. A tad hot at times for an 18 year old. It isn’t the most complex malt I’ve had, but it makes the perfect “comfortable” dram. I can see why the lads on “The Hour” enjoyed it so much. Feels very Glen Plaid, to me.

Finish: A medium finish with flavours of Swedish berries and hints of licorice.

Grade: B+

I really liked this one. I was skeptical of its quality, given all the poor reviews I’ve heard on the younger versions, but it really came through. It was exactly what I was looking for, too. Something I wanted to sip while I curled up with my wife to watch something on BBC, after a lovely day of walking, talking, and eating delicious local fare.

“This is the first day of my life, I swear I was born the day I met you.”

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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”

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…”

Tall, Dark and Handsome: Highland Park 18

Music: The Tragically Hip, “The Darkest One”

This is an example of why you should have whisky friends (of course, aside from the fact that whisky is best enjoyed with friends): trading samples. As a boy, I traded hockey cards. Now that I’m older, I trade whisky. Perhaps the best way to expand one’s whisky knowledge without spending a bunch of money.

A sample of the Highland Park 18yo came to me via a trade for a sample of the 2012 Lagavulin 12yo cask strength, and a sample of the Highland Park 10yo (40%).

Nose: Rich. Bready. Floral, Fruit salad, apples, malt and sherry in the back ground. Molasses and peat smoke.
Opens up with 3 drops of water.

Palate: Plent viscous. Sponge toffee. Oatmeal and brown sugar. Smoke and molasses. Cherries, chocolate, peat and spearmint.

Finish: Medium-long, warming. Pepper, cherry stones, sponge toffee and smoke.

Grade: A-

The reviews are right in that this dram is the most balanced one flavour-wise. It has a little bit of everything, and in that way its remarkable. It’s also balanced between nose and palate. At 46%, this dram would likely be an A. For all the nitpicking, I’ll join in the chorus to say that the Highland Park 18yo is one damn fine dram.

“Where the wild are strong, and the strong are the darkest ones… and you’re the darkest one.”

Review Stub: Compass Box Great King Street

Music: Ray Parker Jr., “Ghostbusters”

Had the opportunity to try this at a Halloween party yesterday via the kindness of strangers. Not all I’d hoped it to be, unfortunately, but not bad by any means. Do keep in mind that this was at a party, and so my senses may have been… distracted.

Nose: Oddly, tequila. Cereals, buttercream, vanilla and apple. My “tequila” sense might be the citrus note others talk about.

Palate: Rougher than I’d like it to be. A creamy whisky, full of vanilla, citrus and cereals. Much of what the nose promises, albeit rougher than I’d like. The odd smoky note here and there.

Finish: Medium.

Grade: B-

A good whisky, and one of the first blends to get a rating above C+. I will say that I did like JW’s Spice Road better.

“If there’s something strange in the neighbourhood, who you gonna call?”

Original Gangsta: GlenDronach 12 ‘The Original’

Music: The Gentlemen’s Club, “The Servant”

In anticipation of an occasion that would permit me to open my GlenDronach 15 ‘Revival’, I’ve given the 12yo Original a try because a) it’s had good reviews (save for at ATW), b) it’s cheap in Ontario, and c) I needed a 43%-er in my collection to sit between all the cask-strengths I own. Sometimes you don’t want to knock your socks off. To top it all off, I’ve saved the last 2/3 of the bottle for a scotch and cigar night with a colleague. It will most definitely be perfect for that.

Nose: Sherried like all hell, but the sherry balances some rather strong cereals. I really like this part, though ATW doesn’t. I love a good cereals whisky, and this gives the GlenDronach a second dominant note. Noticeable cola and a bit of barbecue sauce. Some chocolate cherries a la the Glenfarclas ‘105’. Despite being at 43%, this is really rich, even more so than its 46% ABV brethren, the Glenmorangie 12yo ‘Lasanta’. Raisins and Evergreen. Occasionally some faint eggy notes, but nothing to get all huffy about.

Palate: Medium viscosity. Sweet sherry up front. Fruity, if not truly discernable. Cola, baby (so happy that came through). A sweet-yet-sour citrus… maybe grapefruit? It then goes very much into a peppery rye flavour. Ends with dark chocolate.

Finish: Drying, chocolate, maraschino cherry.

Grade: B-

A great bang-for-the-buck whisky that’s interesting and powerful at 43%. Perhaps the best whisky in the under $60 range. It has me excited about the Revival, that’s for sure.

“Put your trust in me—I’ll do the same.”

Make it a Moscatel: 2011 Caol Ila Distillers Edition

As a preface, I’ve started reviewing whisky while listening to music on some good headphones, and I’m liking what it’s adding.

Music: Genesis, “Blood on the Rooftops”

Whiskies like the Caol Ila DE are examples of purchases I would never make on my own. At $100 a bottle for a 12yo+ @ 43% ABV, I’m not going to waste my shoestring budget on such an experiment, unless reviews tell me it’s the greatest thing since Lagavulin’s 16yo.  I received this whisky, instead, as a gift. As a gift, it’s a lovely whisky, and a step up (as one would hope) from the standard 12yo bottling. Not as good as the natural cask strength NAS, though.

Nose: A rare chance to summarize all the key notes in one go: buttered raisin toast. The sweetness of the moscatel turns the citrusy hickory smoke of the standard 12yo into BBQ sauce. White pepper. A little olive oil. Bubblegum and tobacco notes sit as a nice base.

Palate: Medium oily. Smooth, peaty citrus. Here is where the standard bottling comes in, but just a hair more mature. Salty, smoky over sour red grapes.

Finish: The peat is what sticks around. It sours a little bit, and then gets rather dry and peppery.

Grade: B+

I really wanted to like this much more than the standard bottling, but it’s just a tad better. In the end, the moscatel cask is interesting, and the nose superb, but the palate blows up into something sour, and that sort of lingers. It’s not bad, but we’ve got to split hairs somewhere, and this blog is supposed to do just that. Verdict: a novelty, worth picking up a small sample in a trade, but not a bottle at $100.

“Seems Helen of Troy has found a new face… again.”