Looking forward to 2017

I am sure that I will be adding something to the scotch cabinet in 2017.  But, from the list of whisky on which I have yet to post tasting notes, I should be able to keep myself occupied revisiting some of these:

Aberlour 15
Allt-a-Bhainne 16 Cheiftans
Ardbeg Corryvreckan L11
Ardbeg Ardbog
Ardbeg Perpetuum
Ardbeg Alligator
Auchentoshan Three Wood
Balvenie 12 Double Wood
Balvenie 15
Balvenie 17 Peated Cask
Balvenie 17 Rum Casks
Bowmore 12
Bowmore 15
Bowmore 18
Bruichladdich 10 The Laddie
Bruichladdich 18 1989
Bruichladdich Rocks
Bruichladdich The Organic
Bunnahabhain 12
Caol Ila 12
Caol Ila 14 James MacArthurs
Caol Ila Distillers Edition 1996
Caol Ila Distillers Edition 2000
Caol Ila Stichell Reserve
Clynelish 14
Cragganmore 12
Dalmore 15
Dalwhinnie 15
Glenfarclas 12
Glenfarclas 105
Glenfiddich 12
Glenkinchie 10
Glenmorangie 12 Madeira Wood
Glenmorangie 12 Sherry Wood
Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban
Glenrothes 1991
Highland Park 12
Highland Park 18 1989
Kilchoman Spring 2011 Release
Kilchoman 100% Islay Release
Lagavulin 16
Laphroaig 15
Laphroaig 18
Oban 14
Oban Distillers Edition 1995
Macallan 10
Macallan 12
Macallan 17 Fine Oak
Port Charlotte PC7
Port Charlotte Scottish Barley
Talisker Distillers Edition 1998
Tobermory 19 Alexander Murray
Singe Malt Whisky Society Bottlings
SMWS 29.174 20   (Laphroaig) Shetland ponies at the seaside
SMWS 10.87 10   (Bunnahabhain) Sea breezes over the vernal machair

Kilchoman Loch Gorm, 2009/2014

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Kilchoman Loch Gorm.  46% ABV.  Non-chill filtered.  No color added.

This will complete my end-of-2016 tasting note frenzy.  I do not plan to let this blog become as dormant as it was for most of this year, but the pace will now slow.  Not for lack of old friends to revisit, just simply with winter break nearing the end, I will need to find more balance.  At least until I retire!

Kilchoman Loch Gorm offerings are the product of a five year aging.  Loch Gorm differs from other Kilchoman offerings in that the aging is completed exclusively in ex-Oloroso sherry casks.

The 2013 release of Loch Gorm won a Gold Medal in the Islay Scotch Single Malt category at the International Wine & Spirits Competition.  The bottle that I am sampling is the 2014 release (distilled in 2009).

On the nose one can clearly smell the characteristic notes of an Islay whisky, seaside peat and smoke.  But on second pass, there are also sweeter components, citrus and ginger.  The sweet elements seem a bit different to me on each pass, always a bit difficult to clearly identify under the peat layer.  On the palate, it is smoky on entry but not overpowering.  Brine, spice, and lemons come forward out of the smoke.  The finish is moderate length, with a little heat.  The finish is both semi-sweet and smoky.

I am still a bit uncertain of how much I enjoy the sherry cask sweetness added to the peat base of Islay whisky.  I think that Kilchoman Loch Gorm carries it off as well as possible.  A bit like the Lagavulin Distiller’s Editions, just with the associated brash edge of youth.  While it would not be my first choice, I certainly find it to be a very enjoyable member of the Islay family of single malt whisky.

Lagavulin Distiller Editions, 1991 & 1993

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Lagavulin 1991 & 1993 Distiller Edition

I have two of the Lagavulin Distiller Editions in my single malt collection; Lagavulin 1991 Distillers Edition (bottled in 2008) and Lagavulin 1993 Distillers Edition (bottled in 2009).  What could be more enjoyable than a side-by-side tasting of these two?

Lagavulin Distillers Edition 1991,  43% ABV.

On the nose, I find a sweet, orange, scent mixed with peat and smoky seaweed.  The palate brings liquorice, oranges, salt and smoky peat.  The finish is medium to long, white pepper, a little caramel, with lingering smoke.

Lagavulin Distillers Edition 1993, 43% ABV

First, it is clear that these both share a common lineage.  Like a younger brother to the 1991 Distillers Edition.  On the nose, it is like it plays similar notes, but softer.  On the palate, I find more of a contrast.  The smoke and peat are bigger, while the orange, liquorice and salt remain part of the mix.  There is a distinct note to the spicy element, maybe a little more clove-like.  The finish seems a bit longer, warmer, with less caramel, and more smoke.

In reality, I suspect that if I tasted these two whiskies on different days, my descriptions would be nearly identical.  Tasting them side-by-side is likely to bring to the front rather minor differences in their profiles.

Bottom line, if you can get your hands on either of these limited editions, and have any affinity for Islay style scotches, I do not think that you would be disappointed with either whisky.  I find that I have enjoyed the additional flavor that the double maturation in sherry casks brings to the traditional Lagavulin profile.

BenRiach 16

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BenRiach 16.  46% ABV.  Non-chilled filtered.  No coloring.

Working through my scotch cabinet.  Visiting this whisky seemed like a good choice, as it has gathered some positive attention.  BenRiach 16 was named the best Speyside Single Malt at the 2015 World Whiskies Awards.  Given how many distilleries there are in Speyside, this is an impressive recognition.  I should note that the whisky that won this award was at 43% ABV, while the bottle I am sampling is 46% ABV.  I suspect that mine is an earlier bottling.

The nose presents honey and a gentle peat that comes across a little like leather.  On the palate, there is honey and peat followed by strong black pepper warming the mouth.  As the pepper subsides, I find the taste of coffee beans, dark chocolate, and spice lingering amid light smoke.  The finish is very pleasantly long, warming, with spice and some peat.

I really like this dram.  It brings a smooth balanced mix that maps very well onto my taste preferences.  I would like to try this alongside Glenfarclas 17, a long time favorite from this region.

I also find this to be a very good value for the market among similarly aged Speyside whiskies.

Highly recommended.

Lot No. 40 Canadian Rye Whisky

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Lot No. 40 Canadian Rye Whisky, non-age statement, ABV, 43%.

This is my first experience with this Canadian rye whisky.  I read that the 2012 release of this whisky has gained a lot of attention and some awards.  My bottle, recently acquired, does not have any date statement, so I make no claim about how this compares to the 2012 release.

From what I have read, the Lot No. 40 is distilled from a mash of 90% rye grain and 10% malted rye. I am not sure what this means, other than I suspect it provides a unique dimension to the flavor profile.  As you will see from my tasting notes, I think it works out very well.

The nose is rye bread, ginger, molasses.  It is a gentle tease of sweet rye and light spice.  On the palate, I again get rye bread, brown sugar, slight vanilla and molasses.  Just a bit of spicy notes as well, ginger and a subdued clove element.  While the foundational rye grain elements are dominant, I find a lot of complexity right below the surface.  Perhaps, more to my liking, is that it is a bit more dry than other rye expressions. The finish is medium in length, spicy, perhaps some ginger to complement the rye.

I have had the opportunity to sample some of the big names in rye, Sazerac 18, Thomas Handy, and I find that Lot 40 holds it’s own in this crowd.  It may not have some of the age and complexity, but when one factors in the much lower cost factor, this is an excellent alternative to the high priced, high profile, ryes.  It is certainly a rye that I like to drink neat, it is well balanced and provides a very pleasant experience.

If you want to begin to learn about rye, this would not be a bad place to start.

Michter’s Single Barrel Straight Rye

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Michter’s US * 1 Single Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey. ABV 42.4%.

Once in a while, I like to sample other forms of whisky.  One alternative that I have been enjoying over the past couple years is rye.  I was first introduced to rye when sampling whisky from regional bottlers, and came across Templeton Rye in my drives through Iowa.  I found the taste of straight rye to be interesting, and started sampling a few.  As with single malts, I found interesting variations in nose and palate across many producers.  While I do occasionally enjoy a good Sazarac Cocktail, I mostly sip rye straight.

Michter is an interesting Rye. It is distilled based upon an old recipe dating back to 1753. It is no longer distilled in the original location, indeed the exact location is not disclosed. This Rye does not have an age statement, but is aged in barrels for least three years old. Since it is a single barrel bottling (a batch number is provided on each bottle), it is possible that you might find some subtle variations across batches.

It is sweet on the nose, with rye grain and vanilla on the nose. On the palate, it is sweetened grain with notes of vanilla, caramel and black cherry, followed by a little cinnamon spice. The finish is short and sweet.

Overall, a very respectable and drinkable whisky, but not all that complex of a flavor profile and sweeter than I prefer in a rye.

Here are a few ryes, including the Michter’s, that I am currently revisiting or discovering.

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Talisker 25 (2009 release)

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Talisker, 25 (2009 Release) 54.8% ABV.

This is one that I have been meaning to get back to for some time.  This is the 2009 release, which was at a higher ABV than the subsequent 2011 and 2013 releases.

On the nose, I find tangerine and orange, a somewhat dry presentation, with very light peat notes.  When I sip this dram, it takes on a whole new character.  On the palate, the smoke and peat flood the senses, soon followed with pepper heat taking over.  In the aftermath, it settles in with smoked salt.  It shows the smoothness of a well aged whisky, but this is no gentle dram.  It grabs you and takes you for a ride.  Sort of a turbo charged Talisker 18. The finish is long and warm, the pepper settles in and smoky peat

This is a very fun whisky, certainly one that appeals to my tastes.  I will one day have to find out if the newer releases, at lower ABV, deliver a similar profile.   Although, the cost of this 25 year old is climbing into the range that makes it a less reasonable purchase.