Highlands

Review: The Singleton of Glen Ord 14 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky (Diageo Special Releases 2018) by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of Diageo.

Image courtesy of Diageo.

ABV
57.6%
Aging
14 Years; Five Casks (See Below)
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Glen Ord (Muir of Ord, Scotland)

Glen Ords are typically destined for Asia, but this is a special release with quite the set of maturation: from what I understand, it started in refill ex-bourbon american oak hogsheads, refill ex-bodega European oak butts. Then it was re-casked into charred ex-Pedro Ximinez sherry and ex-Moscatel casks. Finally, it was married together in European oak puncheons.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: Diageo Special Releases 2018

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2018

A very nice balanced, fruity, and warm single malt. It does quite well with a drop of water. Fruit is front and centre, but also toffee, pear, root beer, and light spice. The palate is very rich, full of stone fruits, and woody forest. A very nice “middle-bodied” scotch - it seems they are usually on the light or heavy side these days. Vanilla, light citrus, and oak on the finish. There’s much more - but you get the gist.

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

Value: Low, at $200.


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: Fettercairn Fior Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
42%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Fettercairn (Fettercairn, Scotland)

Fior means pure/true. This whisky is composed of some age of 15% heavily peated whisky matured in first-fill ex-bourbon barrels, alongside with a portion of 14 and 15 year old spirit (sherry? I would assume from the taste).


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2015

Complex – a sharp mix of sherry and smoke and peat, with some raisin, pencil shavings, a light floral nature, tangerine, almond and walnuts. The palate is quite fruity, yet also showing a good bit of malt and still balanced out with peat. There's more - almond, red licorice, cacao, toffee. Very lightly creamy. The finish is lightly dry, with smoke coming through alongside fennel, some fresh vegetal notes (parsley), brown cardamom, dried apple, and dried cherry. Some nice stuff!

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

Value: Average, based on $192.


Review: Glen Garioch 1965 21 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
43%
Aging
21 years
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Glen Garioch (Aberdeenshire, Scotland)

Here’s an old one! This was distilled in 1965, two years before Glen Garioch was closed and decommissioned. At the time, Glen Garioch was notably more peated than today where it tends to be more fruit-forward. This is from a bottle that has been open (but mostly full) for quite a few years...


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 1965, Dark Vatting

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 1986

What a nose! Smoky wood, but old smoky wood – like a burnt piece of wood that is wet. Magnificent sherry notes. Apple seeds, green apple, clove, cinnamon, peach, prunes, burning leaves, vanilla, eucalyptus – it holds heavy notes and light notes together in harmony. Quite earthy, too. The palate is magnificent – sharp, spicy smoke gives way to light orchard fruit, particularly ripe, sweet peaches, before heavy and rich sherry notes take over – dark dried fruits, spice, and bright green apple. The finish is rich, magnificent, and heavy – fruity, spicy, woody (but not overly so). Fruitcake, white pepper, sticky toffee pudding, dates (terrific), apple seeds, and mixed vegetable skin (think squash and cucumber).  Minutes after you’ve swallowed, glorious rancio makes its presence known too – but lighlty. Beautiful balance, and beautiful integration of flavor. Remarkably thick for 43%....

A touch stale, here and there...maybe it’s been in the bottle too long. Nonetheless, a glorious malt, and one of the best I’ve had.

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

Value: N/A

 


Review: Borders Single Grain Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
51.7%
Aging
Finished in Oloroso Sherry
Recipe
50% Wheat, 50% Barley
Distiller N/A (Scottish Highlands)

This is produced by R & B Distillers (Raasay & Borders), from one distillery, bottled ncf and no caramel added at 51.7% by R & B distillers. They also produce Raasay and the Tweedale Blend.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 001

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2016

Light bodied. The nose is full of sherry, and it is nice – not too dominant. Balsamic vinegar, raisin, dried apricot, almond, coconut, and dried currants. The palate is again nutty, with some interesting berry notes – black currants! I don’t see them often – and rancio, light orange and cinnamon on the finish too. Marmelade, too – seville orange. The grains are nice, and there is a nice creamy porridge type character to it. A good length of finish, with rancio and dried fruits. Quite a nice single grain – not boring and one that I would recommend to those interested in exploring the category. Granted, I haven’t had many single grains. The wheat has nice character – it sweeps broadly across the palate and gives a nice softness to the whisky. Really quite nice with a drop of water- it opens up quite well, though it is still easy at full strength – the finish suffers, but the rest I like a bit more.

It is a really nice casual dram – I really like it. But not quite up my alley and complexity could be upped.

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

Value: Average, at $89.


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: Dalmore 15 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
15 Years; Matusalem, Apostoles, Amaroso Sherry Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Dalmore (Dalmore, Scotland)

The Dalmore generally produces a rich, sherried style with a heavy spirit with older whiskies being some of the most collectible and expensive whiskies on the market, very similar to the Macallan – which, interestingly enough, also produces a heavier and sherried style of spirit. Some legendary bottlings have been released by the distillery, including a 64 year old Dalmore which had some whiskies in it which were over 140 years old.

The distillery was founded in 1839 from an owner who had gained a fortune through the opium trade, but was thereafter bought by the Mackenzie family, whose ancestor in 1263 had saved King of Scots Alexander III from being killed by a stag. The stag, now, marks each bottle of the Dalmore. This 15 year old whisky is a bit of a rarity because it is matured entirely in Matudalem, Apostoles, and Amaroso Sherry casks – a 100% sherry matured whisky.


Review (2014)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Nose: Mixed berry jam, almonds, currants, raisins, and some sherry-spiciness. The grain seems quite round in this one – evidently there in body but it doesn’t come out specifically. Oak is there – but subdued, like the aroma of oak that has been sitting outside for some time rather than the jumping aroma of freshly charred or sanded oak. Quite jammy, with more malt coming out with time. Complex, and interesting.

Taste: Quite sharp initially, with some malt coming through in the middle and taking you right to the end where the sherry takes hold with a bit of nuttiness. A bit too sharp at the beginning, with the spices a bit too eager to jump out early I think. Well rounded, rich, and spicy.

Finish: Raisins, raspberry jam, sherry, malt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a bit of oak. A touch sulphury – but I don’t mind it.

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

Value: Low, based on $115.


Review: Teaninich 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky (Flora and Fauna) by Jason Hambrey

ABV
43%
Aging
10 Years
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Teaninich (Allness, Scotland)

Major player in blending – indeed, my interest in tasting Teaninich is because Compass Box uses them, I love Compass Box, and I want to understand why Mr. Glaser blends the way he does. Most of the whisky goes straight into blends, so bottlings are not easy to find. The aim of the distillery is to produce a green and oily profile for blending. Interestingly, they are the only scotch whisky distillery to use a mash filter instead of a mash tun.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2015

Green tea, lemongrass – grassy indeed! It’s not malty, but the barley is firmly there and there is a good dose of earth in the nose too. Floral – daisies, hay – and some green pepper. Baking bread. Green…that is for sure.

The palate remains grassy, and is lightly sweet with the barley holding the central portion of the flavor – but not with malty or cereal aromas. Rather, that earthy and grainy “edge” of the barley, as we also see, in, say, Auchentoshan. Vanilla, cake batter. A clean, light earthy finish with light spices, nuts, and baking bread. This is fabulous for what it does. It’s still a bit untamed – perhaps the point – but I’d be interested to see this at another two years in oak to round things out a bit more.

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

Value: Low, based on $100.


Review: Clynelish 18 Year Old 1996 Single Malt Scotch Whisky (Hunter Laing Old & Rare Platinum) by Jason Hambrey

ABV
54.9%
Aging
18 Years; Refill Sherry Cask
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Clynelish (Brora, Scotland)

This single cask of Clynelish was aged in a refill sherry hogshead, bottled by independent bottler Hunter Laing.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2014

Light, fruity, and very clean on the nose – with white grape, green mulberries, and light spices – clove and cinnamon. White raisins, and marshy clear water – like a stream flowing through a channel full of moss and algae – it reminds me of the smell of many hills in England and Scotland that I used to climb when I was younger. Nutty – marzipan, peanut brittle – emerging more as it sits. Custard, and dulce de leche are around too.

The palate shows, surprisingly – some smoke, fire roasted chickpeas, green raisin, semi-dried tomatoes, and finishes with tingly spice, tannin, and smoke. I wasn’t expecting the smoke! I don’t even know if dried green mulberries exist, but if they did, this has many elements which I imagine would be similar. Finishes with light oak, green raisin, white pepper, and cloves and cinnamon. Quite the character! It does show how phenomenal the Clynelish distillate is. Great stuff. It is quite amazing how the green raisin holds its ground amidst everything else that is going on.

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

Value: Very Low (based on $385)


Review: Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban Highlands Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
46%
Aging
12 years; Finished in Port Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Glenmorangie (Tain, Scotland)

Like the other core finished whiskies at Glenmorangie, a 10 year old whisky is dumped into a finishing cask for 2 years – in this case a port pipe. Quinta refers to wine houses, and Ruban is the gaelic word for “ruby”.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: ~2012

Nose: That is some sweet goodness! Fruitcake, caramel, cinnamon, clove, vanilla – still holding that key Glenmorangie light barley characteristic, and the port you can actually smell lightly here too. Dried fruits come out as well with a decent kick of dryness too. I can smell the light bourbon influence as well…

Taste: It’s not quite as fruity as the nose let on, but it still has a good kick of fruitiness around it. Quite dark – fruitcake, cherry, raisin, cinnamon, cacao…There’s a bit of a port-fruit and oak explosion towards the end as well. Cinnamon – a very nice whisky in fact. I think it’s very enjoyable – it is quite a bit heavier than the Original or Lasanta as well.

Finish: Light oak, cinnamon, clove, and some other light vegetal notes like sundried tomatoes and some malty notes after some time. Drying, with a reasonable amount of tannin. Long, and not unpleasant, but more mediocre in flavour than intriguing or delicious.

This is quite nice – a very nice twist on the classic Original Glenmorangie, though I like it less. It’s heavier, with a different showing of fruit – more on the fruitcake side. A bit less complexity from the original because of how the port shifts to take over some of the flavour.

Score: 87/100

Value: 50/100 (based on $96)