SMWS Cask 39.99

SMWS Cask 39.99 Springtime in Andalucia
58.9% ABV
23 Year Old
Speyside Lossie Region
Distilled April 1990
Refill Hogshead

What the Bottler Says:
‘What a nose’ and ‘I could smell this all day’ were just two remarks before we noted aromas of toasted malt loaf with melted butter, freshly made peanut brittle, brandy snaps, raisins, sultanas and chocolate liqueur over apple and custard crumble – pure decadence. The taste is classic monkey bread oozing with warm caramel and cinnamon, chopped walnuts, raisins and brown sugar. With the addition of water the nose is still rich and complex with a distinct whiff of salty sea breeze just like a Manzanilla Pasada Sherry. The taste is fresh, sweet and salty; Brazil nuts, toffee, red liquorice and a never ending finish of a well-made Arugula salad with honey-drizzled peaches.

Drinking Tip: When you have time to let your mind wander

What Richard Says:
Nose: Rich, sweet, and malty. Old brandy, powdered sugar covered chewy fruit confections, and wheat germ.
Palate: It’s even richer and more decadent in the mouth than on nose. It kind of reminds me of a Payday candy bar. Heavy on the nuts and caramel. There is also a heavy undercurrent of raisins and other dried dark fruits.
Finish: A slightly dry, nutty, cereal finish. It’s not terribly long but it lingers a bit. Water leaves the finish more salty than nutty.
Comments: This is a very compelling and complex dram. I don’t really love it. It’s not something I would reach for often. However, exploration is rewarded. There are many layers of flavor, nuance, and depth to be found here. This dram is a deep dark cave that screams “Spelunk me!”
Rating: Stand Out

We would like to thank the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America for sending a sample for the holidays. Our apologies for the review delays. Holiday head colds were unavoidable.

SMWS Cask 95.19

SMWS Cask 95.19 Enigmatic Duality
53.2% ABV
17 Year Old
Speyside Spey Region
Distilled August 1997
Refill Hogshead

What the Bottler Says:
The nose appealed to us all – but in surprisingly different ways – some go tropical fruits – dried mango, kiwi, lingen berry sorbet and ‘waxed lemons in the Tuscan sun’ – others detected deeper elements of tar, seaweed and even a wisp of smoke. That enigmatic duality persisted with water – pink peppercorns, horseradish, honey, ‘lightening over herb gardens’ and toasted pistachios. The palate was immediate and powerful – mouth-coating waxed fruits, heather honey and creme brulee wrested with peppery heat, hints of bonfire ash and carbolic. In reduction, we found aloe vera, menthol, Fisherman’s Friends, clove, hickory and fried sage leaves – good sweet-savoury balance.

Drinking Tip: A curiosity dram – have fun perplexing your friends.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Herbaceous and outdoorsy in a very inviting way. It reminds me of wildflower fields in North Georgia, pine forests, and Ricola lozenges. There is a bit of muted sweetness and essence of the sea floating in the background but nothing that makes you stand up and take notice.
Palate: In your face with a meaty salty sweetness. It’s rich and chewy with a nice rich mouthfeel. There is a spicy nuttiness that plays well with the other notes.
Finish: The finish is short and to the point. There is very little to linger on here.
Comments: I can’t say this is really recognizable as a standout for a specific distillery but it is intriguing. There are some nice counterbalances going on in this dram. Sweet, savory, rich, and spicy. Very nice indeed.
Rating: Stands Out

We would like to thank the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America for sending a sample for the holidays. Our apologies for the review delays. Holiday head colds were unavoidable.

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
52% ABV
$59.99
Website
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What the Distillery Says:
On a quest to create a versatile and robust Rye that shines as well in cocktails as it does on its own, the Russells carefully selected only the best barrels primarily from the “center cut” locations (levels 3 – 5) of the rick houses for their newest creation. Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye is not chilled-filtered to capture all the flavor rye provides. Rich caramel in color, this single barrel release offers a balance of spicy pepper, vanilla and caramel on the nose and palate.

“Jimmy and I have always been passionate about Rye – it’s why our Wild Turkey and Russell’s Reserve expressions all have that spicy kick – and why we’ve also had a staple of Rye Whiskey in our portfolio for decades,” said Master Distiller Eddie Russell. “We know bartenders love to experiment with Rye, but what’s equally exciting is seeing the uptick in consumer interest. I’m having just as many conversations in the global marketplace about our Rye offerings as I am about our Bourbon offerings.”

Since the start of his career, Eddie has studied mixology’s influence on the rapidly growing Bourbon industry. After seeing a renewed interest in classic cocktails like Boulevardiers, Manhattans, Old Fashioneds, and Sazeracs, all of which call for Rye, Eddie anticipated there would be an increased demand for Bourbon’s spicy cousin. Today, the Whiskey industry teeters on the cusp of a full tilt Rye revival and Jimmy and Eddie are leading as they always have, with their new release of Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Rye.

What Gary Says:
Nose: Bright (but rich) wintergreen spice with sweet oak.
Palate: Soft/rich mouthfeel, but rye snap, peppermint spice and cloves.
Finish: Moderately long, and softens near the end.
Comments: I really like Wild Turkey’s 101 Proof Rye (I’ll politely leave out my thoughts on the 81 proof rye), and this is absolutely a cut above that. I love how rich the mouthfeel on this whiskey is (thank you for not chill-filtering this one!), while still delivering that rye flavor kick. As a single barrel product, there’s always some risk of variability. I do really wish they had an age statement. If I had to guess, I’d say it is 5 to 6 yrs old. My knee-jerk reaction was that this seems priced a bit high, but as I scanned the shelves for comparable ryes that are less dough – I didn’t see much to be had. The Wild Turkey 101 Proof Rye might be $15 less (and for a 1 liter bottle; so call it $20 less?), but the lack of chill filtering on these along with a couple proof points (and probably a couple of years of age) probably justify the lift. If you like that sorta thing (and if you are generally a fan of rye whiskey, I think you likely will!)
Rating: Must Try

What Richard Says:
Nose: Heavy and dripping with minty and herbal rye goodness layered over a bed of wet pine needles. This is no near bourbon rye nose.
Palate: This one give a quick punch the mouth. It’s not as overly mellow as the original Russel’s Reserve Rye was when it was release several years ago. Minty, big doses of backing spices, and delicious caramel sweetness.
Finish: There is lingering herbal and oak note that seems to stick around for quite a while.
Comments: I’m torn. I really am. Maybe I’m just a Luddite that just can’t move past the pricing and availability of yore. Although, I’m still in my thirties so “yore” is like only 10 to 15 years ago. Still, as good as this is, and it is VERY good, for sixty bucks this may be the last bottle I buy. Solid step up for Turkey rye, no doubt. You will have to decide for yourself on the price proposition.
Rating: Must Try

Kirkland Signature Sherry Cask Blend

Kirkland Signature Blended Scotch Whisky
Sherry Cash Finish, Aged 21 Years

40% ABV
$79.99
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What the Bottler Says:
This Kirkland Signature 21-year-old Blended Scotch Whisky has been created using a selection of some of Scotland’s finest single malt and grain whiskies. Matured in ex-Bourbon casks for a minimum of 21 years, the whiskies are then blended together and finished in Sherry casks. The result is a blended Scotch that is dark amber in color with aromas of Sherry and an intense yet subtly complex taste of fruit and toffee, which give way to a long, gentle, warming finish.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Rich, chewy, meaty, and slightly sweet sherry notes dominate the nose.
Palate: Rather mellow and uninspiring. Let it roll around in the mouth a bit and sherry notes come through with a sweet and tannic undercurrent. Berry compote and dried caramel flakes drive the sweetness.
Finish: Wine tannic and wet toothpicks. This one finishes kind of blah.
Comments: This bottling is the sherry forward blend that preceded the current 24 year old bourbon cask blend under Costco’s Kirkland Signature label. I’m a big sherry nut but this I like less than the newer blend. The sherry is heavy handed and a bit of a one trick pony. Beyond the sherry it is rather bland. If I was to recommend this to someone it might be as a table whisky at the hunting shack for a Macallan devotee.
Rating: Average

Kirkland Signature Bourbon Cask Blend

Kirkland Signature Blended Scotch Whisky
Aged 24 Years, Bourbon Cask Matured

40% ABV
$89.99
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What the Bottler Says:
Combining the knowledge of some of Scotland’s master distillers, and using only the purest waters from Scotland’s Highland lochs, this Kirkland Signature Scotch Whisky was matured for almost a quarter of a century in hand-picked ex-Bourbon Oak casks. The result is a blended Scotch that is dark amber in color with aromas of freshly sliced apples and malted barley. It is full-bodied with notes of toffee, dried fruit and oak. These flavors linger on the palate and give way to a long, smooth, warming finish.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Orange zest, dried honeycombs, and under ripe apples. At the back there is just the slightest bit of tobacco.
Palate: This is a very smooth easy drinking blend that drinks a bit younger than it is. There are wisps in the flavor or that polished leather and sweet pipe tobacco note from old scotch but not as much as you would expect. Mostly, what comes through is caramel drizzled fruity sweetness.
Finish: This finishes a little more on the woody side but the blender is right about the long, warming finish.
Comments: Greatest scotch find ever from Costco? No. Although for age statement whores finding a 24 year old blended scotch for under $50 could be a steal. In terms of what it’s the bottle you can find better, more interesting (although younger) scotches at this price point but this isn’t a bad buy at all either.
Rating: Stands Out