Blended Malt

Review: Great King Street Artist's Blend MomofUku Blended Scotch Whisky (Compass Box) by Jason Hambrey

Great King Street Momofoku.jpg
ABV
49%
Aging
~7-12 yrs; American and French oak
Recipe
Grain & Malt Whiskies (see below)
Distiller Multiple (Scotland)

This great king street has been selected by Momofuku, an LA based restaurant (with a chain in Toronto) based on a single marrying sherry casks which was used to marry the whisky after an initial blending. It was married for some time – about 2.5 years. This secondary maturation used to be commonplace, according to Compass Box. It is also bottled at 49%, higher than the standard…this is probably going to be good!


Review (2018)

  • Batch: Sherried Marrying Cask, Selected by Momofuku. Married 18 Feb 2016, Bottled 16 July 2018. Cask 3.

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Quite what you might expect – the white grape and clean grain character of Great King Street, but overlayed with dried fruit – orange, mango, raisin – and more baking spice and a touch of rancio. I actually really like it – the brightness of the original blend, in terms of its grain and its fruit – has been retained, yet more has been added on top. A bit of white wine, too.

The palate starts with bright grain, orange, and light earthiness – but then the raisins and clove kick in, finishing with a flourish of sherry and light tannin. The palate has great feel too – both feel, but also the movement of textures – from thick and fat to dry and tannic. The finish has green pear, a touch of earthy barley, and a bit more clove. Excellent! The 49% carries itself well, too.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High. This is a great whisky, a bit more expensive than the ordinary Artist’s blend, but has added richness and umph which keeps the value high.


Review: Macaloney's Twa Cask Series Caol Ila & Bunnahabhain Blended Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of  Victoria Caledonian Distillers .
ABV
46%
Aging
Finished in Re-Toasted Red Wine Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Producer Victoria Caledonian (Victoria, British Columbia)

This is a blend of two casks from Bunnahabhain and Caol Ila (so...this is gotta be decent at the least!) - a "guest whisky" from Victoria Caledonian while they wait for their own spirit to mature. This was based on Graeme's optimal combination of two casks from the Scottish highlands, among the ones he has to work with. There are two versions of this - an ex-bourbon version and one finished in re-toasted red wine barriques (which is this version) - a favorite of Jim Swan, who consulted for Victoria Caledonian.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Interesting – there is a bit of a house style in all of these twa casks. All quite leafy, and influenced by that re-toasted red-wine barrique. Quite floral and smoky, with a nice smoky edge. Cinnamon, peat bogs, pear, clove, cinnamon, anise, and good oak influence. The palate has a very nice rising smoke to it, culminating together with Islay medicinal smoke and some red licorice. Nice deep finish, full of minerality, smoke, and dried fruit. My favorite of the Twa Casks – but the red-wine finished Twa casks are all quite good.

Also, I quite like most of what comes from Bunnahabhain and Caol Ila...

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: N/A


Review: Macaloney's Twa Cask Series Blair Athol & Macduff Blended Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of  Victoria Caledonian Distillers .
ABV
46%
Aging
Finished in Re-Toasted Red Wine Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Producer Victoria Caledonian (Victoria, British Columbia)

This is a blend of two casks from Blair Athol and MacDuff - a "guest whisky" from Victoria Caledonian while they wait for their own spirit to mature. This was based on Graeme's optimal combination of two casks from the Scottish highlands, among the ones he has to work with. There are two versions of this - an ex-bourbon version and one finished in re-toasted red wine barriques (which is this version) - a favorite of Jim Swan, who consulted for Victoria Caledonian.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

The nose is dry and lightly smoky, with a good measure of dried fruit alongside red pepper jelly. Leafy on the nose, too, which I like and find unique. I find it does well with a bit of water in it – it brings things into balance nicely. The palate is full of leafy smoke, oak, spice, and more dried fruit – currants, prunes, and raisins.  A slight minerality, too, which is quite enjoyable - nice earthiness! A nice jammy, spicy finish. I do like the effect of the re-toasted wine cask – the tannins, fruit, and spice all work out very nicely.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: N/A


Review: Macaloney's Twa Cask Series Benrinnes & Glenlossie Blended Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of  Victoria Caledonian Distillers .
ABV
46%
Aging
Finished in Re-Toasted Red Wine Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Producer Victoria Caledonian (Victoria, British Columbia)

This is a blend of two casks from Benrinnes and Glenlossie - a "guest whisky" from Victoria Caledonian while they wait for their own spirit to mature. It is the product of Graeme Macaloney, who has a PhD in brewing/distilling and worked for 12 years in contract fermentation before working on his latest venture - Victoria Caledonian Distillery. While in Victoria, he tasked Mike Nicholson, Diageo master distiller, to help him out, and blended together two casks from three regions of Scotland - Speyside, the Highlands, and Islay. He worked back from about 30 cask samples to find 2 from each region that worked together. There are two versions of this - an ex-bourbon version and one finished in re-toasted red wine barriques (which is this version) - a favorite of Jim Swan, who consulted for Victoria Caledonian.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Like a meadow on the nose - floral and earthy - with heather, honey, wintergreen, blueberry bushes, ferrero rocher, and newly trimmed hedges. It reminds me very much of my childhood vacations to my Granny’s cottage in northern England. The palate is slightly sharp, with a nice ashy smoke to it, with burnt chickpeas, honey, pear, clove, and lots of dried fruit from the wine cask. Some leather, too – not something I find that often with younger whiskies. The spicy, fruity wine cask comes in at the end quite brilliantly – good movement within the whisky. The finish is spicy, oaky,  and lightly rumbling and smoky, with lots more of those meadow aromas and tannins from the oak. It has an interesting, old-scotch style to it which I find quite appealing – the mix of dried fruit and dry smoke, with light sweetness and oxidation.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: N/A.


Review: Johnnie Walker Green Label Blended Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Johnnie Walker Green Label 1.jpg
ABV
43%
Aging
15 Years
Recipe
Blend of Single Malts
Distiller Multiple (Scotland)

This whisky is probably my favorite Johnnie Walker, and it's only recently back after being off the shelf for a number of years. Unlike the rest of the lineup, it is a blended malt, meaning that it is composed of a blend of single malts with no grain whisky. Moreover, it carries a 15 year old age statement, is bottled at 43%, and lists many of the core malts used – talisker (wood smoke, pepper, oak, and rich fruits), linkwood (fruit, flower, and cedar), cragganmore (malty taste, slight smoke, and sandalwood), and caol ila (rich fruit, drying sea salt, and peat smoke). Moreover, an attractive bottle and a cork.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L7234DN001 00038026

  • Bottling Date: 2017

The nose presents a broad mix of fruits – apples, poached pears, mandarins, and peaches -  with toffee, honey, light smoky charcoal, maple, and touches of floral notes. Broad, lightly elegant, and easy – with soft edges. The fruits just grow, and grow – and the lightest touch of peat is brilliant. If you ever doubt this just add water – you can smell just about every non-tropical fruit you find in scotch whisky here. The palate starts sharp and lightly smoky, with drying pepper and loads of toffee and fruits to back everything up. The peat is nice – lightly smoky and vegetal – but it is so nicely integrated into the whole toffee-laden and fruity palate. Light finish with light spices and loads of fruit and toffee, fading relatively fast to a sweet, spicy, and slightly dry finish with a few nuts. Overall, it’s still a fairly light whisky so there must be some lightly flavored base here.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, at $80.


Review: The Hive 12 Years Old Blended Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
12 Years
Recipe
100% Malt Whisky
Distiller Multiple (Scotland)

This whisky, like some other Wemyss Blended Malts (The Spice King and Peat Chimney), is composed of 16 malt whiskies, with a focus on the Speyside region of Scotland. The whisky is made from refill and first-fill sherry casks.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2014

Nose: More waxy than actually with honey notes – I probably wouldn’t even name them as a major player, amidst everything else going on. The nose is lightly floral and candied, with a touch of smoke, earthy peaty notes, lemon, orange juice, caramel, dried apricot, light cucumber, and even a bit of saffron with some time. It develops nicely into a light, and rich nose – well integrated and balanced.

Taste: Somewhat sweet with a fresh apricot and peach fruit character with the oak pulling a bit of weight. There’s more honey on the palate than the nose, and there are a few honeydew notes drifting around. At the end, the smoke emerges and leads right to the finish. At times, it feels a touch too watered down and I think at 43% this would do better.

Finish: Starts slightly spicy and woody, with a very light nuttiness and ash as well. Candied orange peel and some malt come through pretty well also, with dried apricot and a bit of cacao emerging as well over time.

Complex and well balanced – the parts all have purpose and play very well together. A very nice lightly honeyed and fruity malt, with a nice thread of oak and smoke keeping everything interesting. Recommended.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, at $94.


Review: The Peat Chimney 12 Years Old Blended Malt Scotch Whisky (Wemyss) by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
12 Years
Recipe
100% Malt Whisky
Distiller Multiple (Scotland)

This whisky is a blended malt, based on 16 different malts, with a focus on Islay (and peat!) from Wemyss - a company focusing on blended malts.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2014

Nose: A bit buttery and lightly floral, with light ashy and medicinal smoke sitting atop everything else. Vanilla is in the mix, but the nose is a bit light overall. Lightly nutty, orange. Slightly sour as well, and continues to develop as it sits.

Taste: More smoke here, of an ashy and slightly vegetal character. There is a good butterscotch sweetness which balances out the smoke, and its mainly these two characters at play on the palate. Lightly dries out to spices and smoke.

Finish: Smoke, primarily, with a bit of vanilla, malt character, and some earthiness from the peat. There is a bit of sweetness in the finish as well, though sometimes it takes on a bit of a sweetener feel to it. It has a bit of an oily feel in the mouth, too.

Not a peat or smoke bomb, but there is smoke in this. The blending work to balance out all the elements - good but it’s a bit simple at times.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low, based on $78.


Review: The Spice King 8 Years Old Blended Malt Scotch Whisky (Wemyss) by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
8 Years
Recipe
100% Malt Whisky
Distiller Multiple (Scotland)

Wemyss, based in Edinburgh, does a series of blended malt whiskies, The Spice King, The Hive, and The Peat Chimney along with their other products. This one, The Spice King, focuses on malts from the Highlands with an emphasis on spicy characteristics, and is made from 16 malts.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2014

Nose: A lightly peaty nose with some apricot, apple seeds, light dried fruit, and some earthy spice – cinnnamon, nutmeg. There is a decent spice cake character to this, and it contains a bit of a nutty rancio note from sherry casks and the lightly musty apple seed notes reminding me of fino sherry. It’s not overly spicy, but has some baking spices in the mix and a bit of a white pepper characteristic. There’s a bit of a bready character to this, as in some well aged cognacs. The nose comes together nicely and I find good complexity and balance.

Taste: A light sweet and smoky body with a good dose of dryness, especially at the end. There is light oak, raisins, and a fair bit of vanilla sweetness in the mix. The toffee and composition of the malt brings toffee to mind, as it has a bit of a buttery character. Not overly spicy, though, and not particularly hot.

Finish: Lightly peaty on the finish, with some more apple seeds, sherry-type nuttiness, and some nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove. The sweetness continues on the finish.

A nicely crafted malt – nuttiness, baking spices, and apple coming together fairly well with a good balance of sweetness. A good casual malt that can be moderately challenging – but certainly easy to sip.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, at $65.


Review: Big Peat Christmas Edition Blended Islay Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
~55%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
100% Malt Whisky
Distiller Multiple (Islay, Scotland)

This is a cask strength, beefier version of Big Peat - released annually for Christmas every year by Douglas Laing. It has many admirers - I originally picked it up because it won Whisky Advocate's Blended Malt of the Year in 2013. It is not only high ABV, but also higher grade whiskies going into this - so not only is it bigger than Big Peat, but also better. And, great bottle!


Review (2016)

  • Batch: 2013 (54.9%)

  • Bottling Code: L 29 08 13 3 10:40 88 BATCH53

  • Bottling Date: 2013

Medicinal, tarry peat, and quite sharp throughout. Thick, indeed, with peat, and some vanilla and creaminess poking its head through. Largely, it would appear, it's the two camps - the creamy vanilla and intense, complex peatiness (both earthy and smoky) which are integrated together. Vegetal undertones, like green pepper and asparagus. Follows through on the palate, showing dark earthy chocolate as well...with the smoke and vanilla and sweetness all balanced quite intricately. Oily too, and has the rawness and power of younger whisky. Long, ashy finish. The complexity comes out in bulk if water is added, and the nose comes alive. dried leaves on the finish, and drying...umm....terrific blending. It is young, which I actually like here and don't like.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, based on $102.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: 2014 (55.7%)

  • Bottling Code: L 15 08 14 3 09:12 88 BATCH61

  • Bottling Date: 2014

Sharp, chiseled peat, it would seem. A bit more wood, and a bit calmer, than in 2013, and a bit more balance right off the bat. Some bourbon notes, tar, custard, asparagus, agave, lemon zest, banana. Pepper, and a good dose of creamy and buttery notes as in the standard big peat – only, bigger. Finishes with a good dose of earthy smoke with light wood tannins. Thick with vegetal notes – asparagus (as with the 2013), green pepper, celery, and lots of mineral notes, quite reminiscent of rockpools. Terrific tannins on the finish. Oh, and lots of smoke! Finishes with roasted black pepper, wood smoke, peat (the dirty, vegetal notes of the actual stuff), and creamy banana custard. More charcoal and smoke than 2013, though, it would seem, a tad less complex. I wasn’t gonna bump it up to 90, except for a beautiful dry, smoky, and sweet finish that I just can’t get enough of. And, great balance and minerality – a quality I quite like with my peat. Beautiful stuff.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, based on $102.


Review: Big Peat Blended Islay Malt Scotch Whisky (Douglas Laing) by Jason Hambrey

ABV
46%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
100% Malt Whisky
Distiller Multiple (Islay, Scotland)

This is just what you might expect - lots of blistering peat - commendably bottled non-chill filtered and without added colouring by the independent bottler Douglas Laing.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2015

Lots of young, bold peat here. Fairly sweet, with some creamy, buttery notes – vanilla cream pudding, stewed pears, charcoal, celery, and lots of vegetal notes as well. The palate is soft and sweet at first, before mineral, sea-weed like peat (think laphroaig) kicks in, with some vanilla and creaminess and banana holding everything in balance too. Quite peaty, and yet still quite easy due to the creaminess and the sweetness. Banana cream pie on the finish, alongside some light ash and minerality and a slight tannic drying of the mouth. It is, for a peat monster, a bit too sweet and easy for me. I prefer the cask strength Christmas expressions…a bit more oomph and spice amidst the sweet buttery-ness.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, at $82.