Balblair 1999

Balblair Highland Single Malt Scotch Whiskey 1999 Vintage
46% ABV
$80
Website
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What the Distillery Says:
ummer 2014 sees the launch of the second release of the 1999 Vintage from Balblair Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Set to hit shelves at the end of June, Balblair Vintage 1999 will be available globally in Independent and Specialist Retailers.

Balblair 1999 replaces the award winning second release of the 1997 Vintage; the introduction of the 1997 Vintage took the core collection from three to four expressions. The 1999 Vintage will be presented in a premium opening box, joining the complete Balblair collection available in this luxury format.

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Balblair 1999 2nd release is copper in appearance with flecks of sparkling bronze.
Aroma: The American oak, ex-bourbon barrels and Spanish oak, ex-sherry butts used for maturation impart the signature Balblair aromas of honey and green apples, as well as notes of rich, fruity Christmas cake with a hint of spice, citrus fruits and vanilla.
Palate: On the palate it is full bodied, sweet and spicy in character, with hints of honey, vanilla and leather.
Finish: The finish is warm, smooth and long-lasting.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Fruit cake drizzled with a sherry reduction. It’s smells much better than fruit cake tastes. Under ripe apples, leather and lemon zest.
Palate: Rich, spicy, sherry, and honey sweet with layers of leather and tobacco. This is delicious and drinks much older than it’s years.
Finish: Woody, dry, and tannic on the finish. It lingers damn near forever.
Comments: This is a very nice whisky. Unlike so many others the palate delivers what the nose promises. The years spent finishing in a sherry cask have done wonders for the underlying Balblair malt. The finish is a bit tart, chalky, and tannic which I’m not crazy about but just keep drinking it and this isn’t a problem.
Rating: Must Try

We would like to thank Lukasz with Alembic Communications for sending over the review sample.

Balblair 2003

Balblair Highland Single Malt Scotch Whiskey 2003
46% ABV
$65
Website
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What the Distillery Says:
Launched alongside 1990 & 1983 in November 2013, Balblair Vintage 2003 replaces Vintage 2002. The American oak, ex-bourbon barrels used in maturation impart toffee, butterscotch and vanilla notes.

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Balblair 2003 is golden amber in appearance.
Aroma: On the nose there are the signature Balblair aromas: floral and fragrant punctuated with citrus fruits, apricots and honey.
Palate: On the palate it is full bodied, with notes of oranges, lemon, honey and spice.
Finish: The long lasting finish is sweet yet spicy; a superbly well-balanced dram.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Floral,fruity, slightly herbal with hints of vanilla. Citrus zest with a little back nuttiness.
Palate: A lovely light honey sweetness. As light as it is the higher proof gives it more of a viscous creamy mouthfeel that is very nice with the honey and just a bit of pepper on the back end. Poached pears and cereal grain compote.
Finish: A little bland and a wood not that reminds me of toothpicks dusted in ground white pepper.
Comments: This is a nice approachable and easy to drink dram. It’s not terribly complex but it is terribly drinkable. I like it much better than the 2002 it replaced. The pricing is steep though.
Rating: Stands Out

We would like to thank Lukasz with Alembic Communications for sending over the review sample.

Bushmills 21 Year

Bushmills Single Malt Irish Whiskey Aged 21 Years
40% ABV
$120
Website
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What the Distillery Says:
“This rare whiskey is in scarce supply with only a limited number of casks in our warehouses. It’s matured in bourbon and sherry barrels for 21 years‚ before being married together for two years in a madeira-infused cask. The result is dark chocolate and caramelised toffee aromas and a sip that clings to the palate before releasing a magical burst like mint. It’s a rare taste in every serve.”

NOSE: Caramelised toffee and dark chocolate.
TASTE: Wow! rich raisins and fruity notes that cling to the palate.
FINISH: A burst of mint that ends in an intense liquorice finale.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Nutty and spiciness with a toffee back note. As it opens it reminds me of walking through a pine forest after a rain storm.
Palate: Rich with a lovely depth. The dried stone fruit notes play well with the influence of the fortified wine wood.
Finish: Herbal with a large presence of wet wood. Fresh split wet pine and wet toothpicks. It’s tart with something reminiscent of plain Milkbone dog treats.
Comments: To me this is a huge step up from the 16 year old. Also, I think for being in the range of $120 I think it is still a solid value in aged Irish whiskey. Definitely give this one a try if you come across. If you’re like me you many not be able to go back down range from Bushmills after having this.
Rating: Must Try

Redbreast 21 Year

Redbreast Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Aged 21 Years
46% ABV
$250 to $320
Website
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What the Distillery Says:
Redbreast 21 Year Old is the finest representation of the signature Redbreast sherry style. It is the oldest and richest expression of the Redbreast style ever produced; and the 21 year ageing process introduces new levels of depth, flavour and taste to create an inherently complex and ultimately, rewarding whiskey.

Nose: Remarkable aroma spanning fresh tropical fruits, nuts and rich dried fruit.
Taste: Soft vanilla, toasted oak, sherry nuttiness with a dusting of Pot Still spices. Luscious fleshy fruit notes complete the creamy mouthfeel.
Finish: Lingers, seemingly forever, to oak and Pot Still spices and then, the final bow from barley – where it all began.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Weird first niff of spearmint and rubberbands. What was that? Let it open a bit and it’s a great waft of dried fruit and roasted nuts.
Palate: Spicy with a rich stewed cherry flavor that then dives back into more nuts, raw this time. Backing it all is a present but well balanced oak flavor interlaced with subtle sherry influence.
Finish: It finishes very cereal like with raw wet wood and a very present tartness.
Comments: Great Irish, really great Irish. This one is a benchmark for aged pot still whiskey. My only fault with it is the price. When it came out a little over a year ago it was published at $180 by trade publications but I’ve never seen it retail for less than $250. I once heard a rumor of a $215 bottle. I respect the whiskey and Irish Distillers for growing the pot still category but it’s coming out of the gate at inflated Macallan-esque pricing. If it was sub $200 it would be an easy must buy. However, I had to get “my guy” to procure me one to get it for under $300 recently. As good as this is, there is a lot of great whiskey out there for less than $300.
Rating: Must Try

George Dickel Hand Selected Barrel – 9 Year

George Dickel Hand Selected Barrel – 9 yr (Dickel Distillery Bottling)
Barrel No. 03J30D20-4-19
51.5% ABV
$100
Website
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What the Distillery Says:
George A. Dickel & Co. is very proud to offer you this special hand selected, handcrafted Tennessee whisky. We have carefully chosen a limited number of barrels to be sold one at a time to only our most discerning loyal customers. These barrels hold our most precious, mellow George Dickel whisky at peak periods of maturation. We invite you to enjoy & savor this truly one-of-a-kind whiskey.

What Gary Says:
Nose: Corn, oak, caramel crème
Palate: Sweet corn, creamy mouthfeel balanced nicely with oak and a bit of cinnamon spice
Finish: Moderate, drying a bit sharply
Comments: Of the three Dickel Tennessee whiskeys, this was hands-down my favorite. Still reminds me of corn whiskey more than bourbon, but the additional age gives it more depth and balance. While I like this the best, it doesn’t hit me for the price they ask – let alone the price some folks apparently pay at the distillery gift shop – not to name any names. However, if you are a fan of Dickel 8 or 12, you might find it is worth the price.
Rating: Stands Out

What Richard Says:
Nose: After nine years it is starting to smell more bourbony with more vanilla and oak but the corn still dominates.
Palate: The proof helps the palate a lot. It’s a more viscous mouthfeel with a creamy sweetness like corn pudding. The oak and vanilla carry through from the nose nicely.
Finish: Dry wood with hints of black pepper and cinnamon.
Comments: This is a pretty good pour. I can’t recommend you buy it because from the distillery it’s $100 before tax and that’s just ridiculous. The hand selected barrels available at retailers are more in the realm of $45 and for that I would pick one up. The funny thing with these Dickels is that no matter how old they are they are still very corn forward. Much more so that other high corn mash whiskeys. I wonder if the filtration processes their whiskeys go through can’t strip out some of the “impurities” and oils from the corn as well as the rye, and barley.
Rating: Stands Out