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.

Glendronach 15 ‘Revival’

Music: In-Flight Safety, “Silent Treatment”

Sometimes so few words says it best, so I will be brief, here. Of the middle-aged range sherry monsters (and perhaps the cask-strengths, too), Glendronach’s revival wins.

Nose: Sherry and oak. No alcohol, just flavour. It’s very soft, but also extremely complex. Espresso, berries and chocolate cherries. Mint and vanilla. A touch of classy match-stick sulphur.

Palate: Viscous and rich. Fudge, sweetness, and cookies. Sherry tang.

Finish: Long, chocolatey sweetness, espresso and berries.

Grade: A-

It’s a refreshing to come across a standard range bottling that is so magnificent, for so cheap (relatively speaking). Craftsmanship, plain and simple.

Note: I’ve also tried the old bottling, pre-Revival, and it is so awful that I can’t believe they come from the same distillery.

“Cause all these years have made you a soldier, you’re carrying the weight of two worlds on your shoulders.”

Port Choco-lotte: Port Charlotte 10yo

Music: Summertime Sadness (Cedric Gervais Remix) – Lana Del Rey

I’ve been rooting for Bruichladdich since their plan to resurrect the Port Charlotte distillery. Of course, the An Turas Mor was my first foray into PC, due to afforadability and availability. When the Laddie Ten came to Ontario at a reasonable price, I bought 2, and shared them liberally. A great dram at a great price. Now the PC 10 is coming to Ontario, and I’m equally excited. This review comes about from a scotch night with a good friend.

Nose: Very Laddie! Caramel, leather and rubber. Creamy.  Very lightly peated on the nose, despite being young and “heavily peated”. Some Fireworks sulphur, cool!

Palate: Medium viscosity. Spicy, peat, leather, milk chocolate.  A tad sour on the end of the palate, but not overwhemingly so.

Finish: Medium, milk chocolate and peat smoke.

Grade: B+

Like the Laddie Ten, it’s a B+ for it’s uniqueness. Bruichladdich has a knack for novelty, and this is no exception. A peated Islay that has characteristics unlike most Islays, and sometimes that’s a good thing.

“Honey, I’m on fire; I feel it everywhere. Nothing scares me anymore.”

With Apologies to Glenfarclas: Glenfarclas 15yo, Revisted

Glenfarclas 15yo is a reason (if not the reason,) to take data seriously. Having read so many glowing reviews of the Glenfarclas 15, I tried it in a bar in hopes of being won-over, as so many others had been before me. Instead, it came across as a spectacular nose, but a let-down everywhere else. A B-, really.

A bar tasting isn’t always enough, though. Given the chance to buy a bottle on the (somewhat) cheap in Montreal, I took it, and haven’t regretted it.

Nose: The old review carries. Cookies. Butterscotch, cinnamon, orange peel and cherry. A real basket of great, sweet flavours. Smooth. Smells older than 15.

Palate: Sherry, chocolate and butterscotch. Rich, like a fresh cookie. Nowhere near as spiritous as the first time I tried it.

Finish: Sweetness, sherry, chocolate and some light smoke  and tobacco on the finish. A real rich dram.

Grade: B+

A really strong showing from this dram when you own a whole bottle. The maturity makes up for the 46% ABV (nothing to sneeze at, but weaker compared to the ‘105’) and makes it just as flavourful as the 10 year ‘105’, but without all the prickly boom of 60% ABV.

ArdBen: The BenRiach 10 Curiositas

I haven’t been kind to BenRiach as of late. Kind I have not been, but fair.. that I have. As it stands, the core range at 16 years and under are uninspiring, and I would never buy a bottle for the cabinet. The 20 year old is another story, and at $80, very affordable for a 20yr. That said, I’d rather spend such money on a 20yo Bladnoch at cask strength, given the choice.

Cue the Curiositas. An inexpensive peated Speyside that has picked up some attention and high praise in the whisky community. At $64, I decided to try it. I have not been disappointed. It comes off rather like a sweet heavily-peated Islay than a peated sweet Speyside. Where I draw the line here is in how the peat comes across. In peated non-Islays, they always come across as rather synthetic peat to my tastes. That is, the peat has been noticeably ‘added’ in some way. Islays, on the other hand, feel so organically joined, the spirit and the peat. They’ve done some good work here at BenRiach, and at such a young age. Puts my faith back in the distillery.

Nose: Peat and smoke upfront. A true Islay nose. Banana bread. That’s right, you heard me: banana bread. This might be why I love it so much. Cinnamon. A couple drops of water opens it all up nicely.

Palate: The peat is there, but it takes a backseat to the BBQ smoke.

Finish: Long and pleasant.

Grade: B

I can’t fault this whisky in many ways: it’s delicious, and a great wood-fired dessert dram that works both in the winter, and as the sunsets on a cooler summer evening. If all your new releases have this quality/price ratio, BenRiach, you can be sure that I’ll be picking up what you’re putting down.

Peat in the Highlands: Ardmore Traditional Cask

Finally getting around to reviewing the Ardmore Traditional Cask. Like Laphroaig’s Quarter Cask, this one, too, is aged for a short period in traditional quarter casks. Like Laphroiag, it is a good’un, but not that good. For the price, it pretty much can’t be beat, though. It has taken me so long to write up a review because this bottle became my office bottle, and as I’m not in my office until the late dramming hours all too often, I rarely afford myself the chance to open the bottle. Each time I do, however, I am reminded about what a great bang-for-your-buck this really is. Given the data of 2 QC whiskies being so good, I’m guaranteed to try the next cost-effective QC whisky that makes it to our shores.

Nose: Sweet barley. Honeyed pears, and oak. Peat (of the Ardbeg variety). A bit salty too. Cinnamon hearts. Reminds me of that Simpson’s moment where Homer says “Look boy! I’m in Australia! Now I’m America. Australia! America!”. I find myself saying “I’m drinking a Glenfiddich! Now I’m drinking Auchentoshan! Glenfiddich! Auchentoshan! …Bruichladdich?”

Palate: Reasonably smooth for such youth. Oily. Sweet cinnamon red hots, baby. Fruit, sweetness, some cinnamon and pepper. It, again, reminds me of Auchentoshan, but not so bright and vibrant. The peat and rich Speyside characteristics take it down a few shades, and that’s alright!  It’s interesting to have a dessert whisky be peated so well. I was worried that a $44 peated whisky would turn out like Dun Bheagan’s 8yo Islay: fruit with peat sprinkles. No, this one is well married together. The peat is a compliment, not the goal itself.

Finish: Tart fruit and smoky peat. This is the end you’d expect, and love.

Grade: B-

I had this at a B upon opening, but it’s a tad rougher than my B should be. It’s by no means bad, however. A few years in the cask (get it up to 10yo and we’ll talk) would make the peat a little more “sexy” as I’ve heard others describe aged peat. Of course you’ll ask, “if the notes are so kind, why is the mark so poor”? Well, the notes are as kind as those of Highland Park 12, Oban 14, and others in it’s range. Nothing sticks out as being bad, but nothing makes me want to buy a case and sit on it with a sling-shot in fear that it’ll never come back. It’s just a good whisky, and in the end, for $44 in Ontario, that’s damn fine. We can’t all be drinking Uigeadail every week. If you’re a peat fan, this is a must-try. In fact, it’s a must-own.