Highlands

Review: Glenmorangie 18 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Glenmorangie+18+2.jpg
ABV
43%
Aging
18 years; Bourbon and Sherry Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Glenmorangie (Tain, Scotland)

This whisky spends 15 years in ex-bourbon casks before about 30% of the liquid is finished for the final 3 years in Oloroso Sherry Barrels, while the remaining 70% remains in the bourbon barrels.

It is named “Extremely Rare”….a bit of a stretch.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L69970 28/02/2018 18001517 10:53

  • Bottling Date: 2018

What a nice rich, oaky nose! Lots of orchard fruit, coconut, browned butter, nutmeg, blackberry tea, and a light ethereal nature to it. Very much softened from the 10 year old, but richer and more subtle. Rich dried tropical fruits, mixed toasted nuts, a light grassiness, and, as it sits, more dried fruit and floral notes – orange blossom water in particular.

The palate has a rich mouthfeel, with lots of dried fruit and spices coming to the forefront. Lots of orange still, and a flash of tropical fruit – but a hit of spice and maple come at the end. The finish dries out, and finishes with lots of citrus peel and a bit of white pepper. The barley emerges, after time, on the finish.

Highly Recommended. A very nice, light-medium bodied whisky. Quite complex, and evolves with time – nice stuff!

Value: Low. This is on the higher end of Scotch prices, and you can do better to get something of comparable complexity and excellence (like the 10 year old!).


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.

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

Value: Average.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2018

A sharp fruitiness here, almost phenolic in its effect – dense dried fruit (currants, prunes) and nuts, alongside a light sulphur note which contributes some hot spice. The nose still has a rich barley characteristic underneath it all. The palate is oaky, lightly spicy, and full of more rich red fruit – cherry and red grape – and red wine gums. The finish is spicy, but with a nice hit of malt.

I’m not quite as hot on this one now as I was last time. Not a bad whisky, but there are better ways to explore port finishes. The 46% is nice, and suits Glenmorangie pretty well.

Value: Low. You can do better in the category of port finished single malts, and I’m not too hot about this one anyway.


Review: Glenmorangie Lasanta Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
46%
Aging
12 years; Sherry Cask Finish
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Glenmorangie (Tain, Scotland)

This whisky is aged for 10 years before being put in sherry casks for the final 2 yeras, resulting in a 12 year old finished whisky. Glenmorangie pioneered cask finishes, among the first to do so. Lasanta means “warmth and passion” in gaelic. This review, it should be noted, is from the 46% version – Glenmorangie has since dropped the abv on this whisky and the recipe is now slightly different too.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date:~2012

Nose: Malt, raisins, a struck match, vanilla, green apple skins – apple juice is still there as well. A bit of sherry rancio, with some earthy touches too. Ever so lightly astringent.

Taste: Quite sweet and raisin-y, with the whisky taking some time to develop. The sherry definitely controls too much of the beginning of this one…halfway through the palate it starts to resemble Glenmorangie Original. Light oaky earthiness and slight nuttiness too.

Finish: Fairly sweet, once again, with raisins, and a bit of oak and some fruity sherry notes as well. lightly spicy. A bit too much sherry and rancio in the finish, I think, for balancing purposes.

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

Value: Average, at $90.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Lots of light dried fruit – oranges, apricots- and baking spice and some rich barley. There is a nice oaky richness here, and the nose has a nice set of spices and a dense custard-like characteristic. The palate is lightly malty, with light threads of sherry and even a touch of leather! We have a wave of malt, light rancio/oxidized wine, dried fruit, nuts, orange peel, and dense baking spice. The finish is oaky and lightly spicy, with a touch of sulphur.

A “lightly sherried” whisky, which isn’t bad, but I still find the Original 10 year old outshines this, in my opinion.

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

Value: Low. A good whisky, but you can do better for the price.


Review: Glenmorangie Original 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Glenmorangie 10.jpg
ABV
43%
Aging
10 years; First and Second fill Bourbon Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Glenmorangie (Tain, Scotland)

Glenmorangie certainly cares a lot care a lot about wood – they were the first single malt brand to use cask finishes (when a mature whisky is put into a “flavoured cask”, i.e. sherry, wine, bourbon, etc.) and even have bought an area in Missouri’s Ozark mountains to source oak, and they only use their casks twice. Glenmorangie also has the tallest stills in Scotland, which are based on design of ex-gin stills from London, installed when the distillery was founded – taller stills lend to more copper contact and only the lightest aromas getting out of the still – resulting in a light spirit. The tall elegant bottle is perhaps reminiscent of their stills.

The brand, frankly, puts out some great malts and is the 2nd best selling single malt in scotland after Glenfiddich, occupying the 5th position globally. The quality (and price) of this whisky understandably lends it to be one of the most common “everyday drams”. This particular whisky is made from 100% american oak barrels, both first-fill and aged second fill barrels.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Nose: Applesauce, filtered apple juice, fruity barley, a rich butteryness seemingly from the grain, light oak, caramel, stewed fruits, dried apricots, and creme brulee. Other dried fruits start to richly develop as it sits too. It’s very pleasant and nicely put together.

Taste: Vanilla, with a slightly sweet, nutty flavour that develops slowly for some time. It almost has a white wine-type feel to it in its fruitiness and light grape qualities. It’s no wonder that they thought to stick this in Sauternes casks…The barley, itself, shines through so wonderfully in this one.

Finish: The barley comes in on the finish too and it is quite bright and fresh, with the nuttiness still in the mix.. Quite decent length and finish. Fruity, too, with a sort of floral feel to it as well. Malty, also, and good length and flavour. One of the great finishes, particularly for a 40% standard bottling.

Pleasant and well balanced. The more I spend time with this, the more it seems to offer. Well done. At first it felt a bit flat, but not so!

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

Value: High, at $75. Especially for Scotch.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L69871 12/03/2018 18001740 14:56

  • Bottling Date: 2018

I do quite love this single malt – crisp barley, stone fruits, light baking spices, pear, coconut, vanilla, light sweet corn nuances (as if a touch of bourbon), a light farmy character, and dried peach. The palate is light and clean, with light sweet grain nuances offset by stone fruit and vanilla-laden wood. The finish is lightly spicy and a touch oaky, with rich grain coming out too. It’s quite sharp, and the distillate character is clear – and good. A nice zestiness on the end, too. Excellent!

Despite being so ubiquitous, this is a favourite lighter Scottish malt of mine to enjoy.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). I think this is a great single malt, and a personal go-to for light-medium bodied Scotch whiskies.

Value: Decent. High, as far as Scotch whiskies go (i.e., one of the better Scotch whiskies for value) but it’s hard for Scotch to compete with Bourbon or Canadian where the really good stuff starts a lot cheaper than 70 CAD. However, if you can find it for less in the UK (or the US, where I got this for 30$) this becomes a great value buy.


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.