Scotch Whisky

Review: Laphroaig 10 Year Old Sherry Oak Finish Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
48%
Aging
10 yrs; Ex-bourbon barrels and Oloroso casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Laphroaig (Port Ellen, Scotland)

This isn’t too far of a cry from the old Laphroaig Triple Wood, which I guess is gone now - we are on to four wood (really?…), the 10 year, quarter cask, and this one. But, 10 years, sherry finish, 48% - I’m interested, even if sherry and peat can be perilous…


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L1 026 SBI 2034 15:50

  • Bottling Date: ~2021

·         Bottling Date: ~2020

Without even comparing to other bottlings or rating – that nose on Laphroaig is so great. It’s been too long…

Charred chickpeas, smoke, wet earth, baking spice, vanilla, smoked almonds, and some classic, interesting medicinal notes – bandaids and iodine. It isn’t as vibrant or “together” as the best Laphroaig noses. There are some dense bready notes here too – interesting, reminding me of dense pumperknickel. The palate is richly earthy and spicy, if not a bit thin. There is a big backbone of dried fruit, and the tannins are perfect. Peppery. Nice. The finish is really earthy, and the nutty/fruity character of the sherry opposes the peat in a way that is interesting – not necessarily opposing but also not necessarily complementing.

It doesn’t have the punch or elegance (dare I say it?) of quarter cask, nor the delicate balance between cask and spirit, but there is more going on here. Fruity, with a more clean and narrow portrayal of peat smoke. Delicious stuff.

Highly Recommended (50% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, at $100.


Review: Laphroaig Cairdeas Pedro Ximinez Casks by Jason Hambrey

ABV
58.9%
Aging
Pedro Ximinez Finish
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Laphroaig (Port Ellen, Scotland)

This whisky went through three casks - first fill American ex-bourbon barrels, American ex-bourbon quarter casks, before being finished in European oak hogsheads which contained pedro ximinez (PX) sherry.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: Pedro Ximinez Casks

  • Bottling Code: L102D SBD 2022 15:26

  • Bottling Date: 2021

It’s strong, but not as smoky as I wish. The PX certainly adds sweetness and stone fruit – peach, apricot, and canned peaches and apricot – in surprising strength given how much flavour is in your base Laphroaig. Vanilla, caramel, and some other confectionary notes – and toasted barley notes. A nice kick of bourbon cask notes! Those creamy, oaky, dried stone fruit notes. On the nose, it’s younger or less developed than your standard laphroaigs. The palate is smoky, and quite sweet and fruity. It’s slightly sour. The vegetal smoke is in every corner here, but there is sweet fruit, almost syrupy, finding its way into the corners as well. The finish is smoky, sweet, and fruity (hmm…does that help anyone? The finish has some intriguing floral notes of lavender, combined with clove and a touch of nutmeg, wet earth, earthy smoke – like burning wet wood, candied orange, hazlenuts, and cinnamon. The smoke and nuttiness are at the core of the finish – everything else is at the edges. Lots going on.)

Highly Recommended (50% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: I’m not sure I’d ever turn up my nose at a cask strength laphroaig at $120.


Review: Highland Park 15 Year Old "Viking Heart" Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
44%
Aging
15 Years
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Highland Park (Kirkwall, Scotland)

I love older Highland Park, generally, and 15 years is a real sweet spot - their older whiskies can attain such magnificent heights. This one is matured in sherry-seasoned European and American oak casks along side some refill casks. This is coming to Canada for a recommended retail price of $150. It has already hit shelves elsewhere in the world.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Code: ~2021

What a beautiful nose! It is starting to get some of those gorgeous aged Highland Park notes – waxy, floral, sweet. Bright barley, heather, vanilla, beeswax, baking spices, blueberry, marmalade, oak, poached pear, canned peach, stewed apple, and custard – among other things! Beautiful complexity. Magnificent nose, that. The palate starts out with dried fruit, but then there is a flourish of bright barley before fading into toffee, baking spice, and earthy barley. The finish is loaded with bright grain notes, baking spice, orange peel, leather, slightly smoky toffee, and a touch of earth and smoke.

Gorgeous! Just a beauty of a scotch. I’m always a sucker for a great nose. Better yet when everything else backs it up!

Very Highly Recommended (19% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low, at a price of $150. While this is better, the 10 and 12 year olds offer great value.


Review: Highland Park Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
63.3%; 63.9%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Highland Park (Kirkwall, Scotland)

I was a bit surprised to see this - I wondered if Highland Park would go the way of Macallan and dilute and try to premiumize their whiskies. Here we have something different - cask strength, natural colour, and matured predominently in sherry seasoned European and American oak casks. The whisky is blended from single malts of various ages. And, non-chill filtered.

Notably, the box actually provides details that I’m very interested in as a connoisseur, rather than a bunch of marketing nonsense. I’m legitimately excited when I see this from Scotch whisky brands.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: No. 1 (63.3%)

  • Bottling Code: L0201C L04 04/08 16:51

  • Bottling Date: ~2020

The nose here is very highland park – nutty sherry, light heather smoke, almond, black pepper…but also with a very strong dose of vanilla pudding, coconut, mixed dried fruit, earthy oak, pear, barley flour, and mossy grass. A very nice nose. On the palate, the barley really comes through – grainy, gritty, and fruity. This, combined with the spice, smoke, and floral character is awesome. And, we get some characteristic highland park orange too. The finish is light smoke, orange,

I’m so pleased to find this. Incredible bottle.

Very Highly Recommended (19% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: A nice bottle of Scotch, but also $130. Against the market, average at this price.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: No. 2 (63.9%)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2021

The nose is a beauty – bright barley, apple, sharp clove, and loads of heather. There is a nice dried orange character also – as we see in highland park. Vanilla and wet, old oak too. It really does remind me a bit of a fresh rain in Scotland or Northern England – fresh, grassy, and slightly earthy. Great nose! The palate is sharp, spicy, with a decent hit of toffee and smoke before a floral and ashy finish with dried fruit and spice taking hold at the end.

Great stuff from highland park! A bit smokier and richer than last year’s version, and broader – but maybe not quite as complex. It’s different - but of great quality again!

Very Highly Recommended (19% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average at $140. Which means it’s pretty good whisky to not be bad value at that price…


Review: Ardbeg Wee Beastie Islay Single Malt Whisky 5 Years Old by Jason Hambrey

ABV
47.4%
Aging
Ex-bourbon and oloroso; 5 yrs
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Ardbeg (Port Ellen, Scotland)

It’s pretty great to see age statements coming from Ardbeg, even on something as young as this. The smokiness of peated whiskies decreases with age, so we might expect this one to be on the smokier side. I quite like young, good malt as long as the oiliness isn’t too raw (I didn’t use to, this has come with time). So I expect this one to be up my alley.


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: N/A

The nose is rich, oily, smoky, briny, and almost a bit waxy. Not nearly as refined or delicate as the 10 year old, one of my favourites – but it has a really nice appeal to it at just 5 years. There is really nice complexity here – no surprise – and it’s very Ardbeg (is there any point in saying that?)….

The palate is quite sweet, full of smoke, brine, dried fruit notes, touches of sherry, black pepper, spinach, brown sugar, and apple. The finish is a bonfire on the beach, with some dried fruit, vanilla, and raisins.

I like it, but I do feel like Ardbeg could have done better. I was hoping for something a bit more intense and oily, a bit surprised to find something more on the subtle and delicate side. But, very good.

Highly Recommended (50% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Upper end of average at $85.