Single Malt Scotch

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: The Macallan "A Night on Earth in Scotland" Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of The Macallan.

ABV
43%
Aging
Sherry-seasoned American and European Oak Casks, Ex-Bourbon casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Macallan (Craigellachie, Scotland)

This whisky is made from a combination of american ex-bourbon casks and sherry-seasoned American and European oak casks to celebrate the new year. I can’t take the press release very seriously - but the whisky, I can:


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2021

The nose is pretty creamy and rich, with orange, almond, a good bit of vanilla and quite rich clove. Very nutty – almond and roasted walnut - I haven’t noticed this much nutty dominance in a Macallan before. There is a lovely umami-lending rancio note from the sherry that binds everything together very well. The palate is rich with dried fruit notes, particularly raisin – both sultana and Thompson – but also baking spice and heavy honey. The finish is full of dried fruit and spice. This keeps growing on me as I keep having more sips. Tobacco on the finish, but also fig syrup, marmalade, and baking spice. Brilliant!

Highly Recommended (50% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). And at the top of this category. A brilliant whisky!

Value: Low, at $175


Review: The Macallan The Harmony Collection Rich Cacao Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
100% Sherry Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Macallan (Craigellachie, Scotland)

Macallan has produced this cask in a combination of European and American casks in order to pair harmoniously with chocolate. In fact, the whisky comes right from the recent discoveries of the Macallan’s master blender: The Macallan Whisky Maker, Polly Logan, said, “working in collaboration with Jordi Roca, acknowledged as one of the best and most creative pastry chefs in the world, and with exceptional chocolatier, Damian Allsop, I went on a journey of discovery, learning of the craftsmanship, passion and creativity which goes into making chocolate. From the press release from Macallan:

The Macallan Whisky Maker, Polly Logan, said, “working in collaboration with Jordi Roca, acknowledged as one of the best and most creative pastry chefs in the world, and with exceptional chocolatier, Damian Allsop, I went on a journey of discovery, learning of the craftsmanship, passion and creativity which goes into making chocolate.

“As I immersed myself in this world, I uncovered a great synergy between the whisky-making process and that of chocolate. Both take time and exceptional attention to detail, with even the slightest changes to the process encouraging different aromas and flavours to emerge.

“For this expression, I sought out a specific chocolate note in The Macallan’s traditional sherry seasoned European oak casks and combined this with a vanilla note imparted by sherry seasoned American oak casks to sweeten the slightly bitter chocolate note I had found. This exquisite single malt offers a delightful whisky and chocolate pairing experience and the chance to elevate The Macallan experience to a new dimension.”

However, sadly, many of these NAS whiskies provide very little information about what actually goes into them, which is very unfortunate, and it gives distilleries license to provide even less information about their product. I find difficult in finding what is actually good rather than just a nicely marketed with all these releases everywhere. Moreover, the first wave of NAS releases seemed better than a lot of new NAS releases we are getting these days, particularly from Scotland. This particular whisky has been matured exclusively in sherry oak, which Macallan obtains from Jerez in spain where both the casks and the sherry seasoning are carefully controlled and selected


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2021

The nose is full of sherried fruit, light spice, and nut oil. Light apple bursts through in places. It’s so bright with the wine notes that it has more than a few nods to Armagnac. The baking spice is beautiful. The palate is full of sherry – it fills every corner of the mouth – full of rich, dried fruit and all sorts of umami. Loads of fruit cake – fitting, indeed, for the season. The finish is full of umami – that sherry rancio – it also goes all over the place. There is some nice early barley holding it all together.

It’s nice, rich, with all sorts of sherry all throughout. However, it is a lot of sherry and the whisky sometimes gets lost. But quite enjoyable.

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

Value: Low, at $215.


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.