Loch Lomond Reserve

Loch Lomond Reserve Blended Scotch Whisky
40% ABV
$20
Website
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What the Blender Says:
This unique premium blended scotch whisky contains both malt and grain whisky distilled and matured on the banks of Loch Lomond in the very heart of Scotland. Each barrel is selected for its character and maturity, then expertly blended to create a well-balanced whisky that delivers a perfectly smooth finish.

Nose: NEAT – Big broad malt aromas build on first impression. There is strong hint of depth, body and weight behind these early flavour notes. However there is, when looked at carefully, a very subtle light fruit, soft fruit sweetness evident just behind the bigger more developed malt notes. DILUTE – A soft, floral note appears once water is added. More the hint of early spring blossom than anything heavier and with that a subtle honeyed sweetness that develops a warming spiciness as time passes with the sense of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Palate: NEAT – An extraordinarily dark, fruity and sweet first impression. Seville Orange Marmalade on hot bread, both sweet, sharp but with a creamy maltiness. The fruit becomes fresher and more candied as the palate develops and once again there is a sweet but firm ginger quality to the mid palate. Marmalade notes give way to ginger snaps. DILUTE – The wood influences become far more evident. Now there are soft vanilla notes that then combine with emerging lighter, fresher, softer fruit flavours. More melon and apple with a light honeyed texture in the background. Honeyed, sweet, softer.

Finish: NEAT – The remarkable palate with the pronounced cooked fruits and spice slowly subsides and there is a gentle fading sweetness, a hint of floral notes on the wind. DILUTE –
Gradually the soft fruits become softer and more luscious. There is a sense of very ripe melons giving way to a light syrupy finish.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Fruity, and floral with dominant malty cereal notes.
Palate: A nice delicate sweetness. Honey and fruit infused simple syrups play with lighter floral and grassy notes. Orange blossom honey maybe?
Finish: A little fruit and ginger tang that quickly fades to a more peppery spice.
Comments: This is a blend for those who like their scotch a little more on the light and sweet side. It’s a very pleasant dram. At $20 a bottle, I think it is a solid value and stands above other like priced blends.

Also, a quick clarification about the name. The “Loch Lomond” name is used by the company for the single grain and single malt that they make at the distillery in addition to blends like this one whose components come from that malt and grain. A bit confusing so take a close look at the bottle and make sure you are getting what you think you are.
Rating: Stands Out

We would like to that the Loch Lomond Group for sending us a bottle to review.

Glen Scotia Double Cask

Glen Scotia Double Cask Single Malt Scotch Whisky
46% ABV
$70
Website
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What the Distillery Says:
Our Double Cask is matured in our finest oak barrels then finished in a combination of first fill bourbon barrels followed by time in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks to produce this outstanding malt whisky that provides the perfect balance of rich spicy fruits, overlaid with the characteristic sea spray and vanilla oak finish for which the house of Glen Scotia is famous.

NOSE Amber. Very sweet. Initially it is all creme caramel, caramelised fruit sugars, wood sugar, toffee and fudge before some apple and peach come through. In time a charred note of bourbon with a pleasing dusty dryness. Has some power.

PALATE Sweet start and quite fat and though the alcohol gives a little tongue-tingling buzz the result is a good mid-palate weight. The dry distillery character is there still, but there is now depth to counter. Water slightly dismantles the different elements, but adds some dried mint.

FINISH Deep and dark.

What Richard Says:
Nose: The nose is very sherry forward. It reminds me more of an Oloroso than the Pedro Ximenez that they use. Raisins, stewed fruits, and creme brulee come to mind.
Palate: There is a very nice creamy viscosity to this one. More deep sherry notes, dark fruits, and vanilla extract.
Finish: Cracked pepper, polished wood, and a nice mint note carry this out to a medium length finish.
Comments: I am a bit of a NAS-hater (no age statement whiskies). I find their proliferation displeasing and the whisky in said bottles usually disappointing and overpriced. However, every so often I get surprised. Maybe it is my low expectations or the skill of the blender. Either way, these exceptions are few and far between. While this Double Cask Glen Scotia isn’t awe inspiring, it is a very solid well made dram and I enjoy it. It definitely stands out among NAS single malts. $70 is a bit steep for the bottle though. If it was sub $50 it would be a real winner.
Rating: Stands Out

We would like to thank the Loch Lomond Group for sending us a bottle to review.

Stolen Smoked Rum

Stolen Smoked Rum
42% ABV
$20
Website
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What the Bottler Says:
STOLEN is proud to introduce the World’s First Smoked Rum… the result of an artisanal approach fueled by the desire to reinvent the rum category.

We start with a column-distilled rum from Trinidad, made from locally sourced sugar cane and molasses. The rum is then aged for up to 2 years in used American oak whiskey barrels. Capturing the essence of a fresh brewed cup of joe, we infuse the rum using re-fractionated Colombian Arabica coffee, wholly distilled from same-day roasted beans. The warm, roasted flavor is complemented by the creamy sweetness and velvety texture of premium Madagascan vanilla beans and Moroccan fenugreek. The rum is rounded off with notes of American hardwood, acquired through a smoking process called pyrolysis—the burning of hardwood in the absence of oxygen.

The finished product is a smooth, medium body rum with a generous bouquet. On the palate, the deep profile of coffee, vanilla, warm caramel and dark chocolate mix with lingering notes of charred oak for a long, smooth, smoky finish.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Rich sweet notes of coffee, vanilla extract, milk chocolate, and a hint of campfire smoke.
Palate: Rum or coffee liqueur? This is pretty damn similar to Kahlua mixed with Bailey’s Irish Cream.
Finish: The finish is a little hot and presents lots of espresso powder, cocoa powder, and charcoal grill smoke.
Comments: This is one of the more interesting things to come across the Whisk(e)y Apostle desk in recent months. However, there has been so much done to this spirit through the “pyrolysis” and “re-fractionated” infusion process that this seems like rum in name only. This would be better served as a Kahlua substitute given the highly pronounced coffee notes.
Rating: Probably Pass

We would like to thank Stolen Spirits for sending us samples to review.

Jose Cuervo Reserva De La Familia

Jose Cuervo Reserva De La Familia Tequila
40% ABV
$130
Website
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What the Distillery Says:
Reserva de la Familia® is the world’s first extra-añejo tequila. It is hand selected from the Cuervo® family’s private collection. Each bottle is made using only blue agave harvested at its peak maturity after seven to twelve years of growing in the field, and aged in French and American oak barrels for a minimum of three years. Reserva de la Familia® is best served in a snifter, allowing for full appreciation of its flavors, aroma, and velvety finish.

What Richard Says:
Nose: There is a backbone of subtle agave that you can smell but it is layered under ripe citrus and stone fruit notes.
Palate: A rich delicate sweetness rolls over the tongue reminding me of (duh) agave nectar, orange zest, and pumpkin pie spice.
Finish: The finish is very clean and refreshing with an almost minty woody undertone.
Comments: I don’t like tequila. I’m a master of all I survey when it comes to drinking whiskey but tequila has whipped my ass on too many occasions. I don’t know that I’ve ever really “sipped” tequila. The remaining occasional imbibing I still do is usually a margarita in summer. So when Cuervo offered to send over samples of this I didn’t exactly say no but I wasn’t particularly encouraging them either. After spending some time with the Reserva De La Familia I’m left wowed. This is fantastic. There is the slightest note of agave to hint at this being tequila but it is a lovely drink and nothing like tequilas I’ve had before. Again, I’m not a tequila expert so there may be better out there but this is best I’ve had. Whiskey and brandy drinkers should give this a try. Tequila drinkers should run out and buy a bottle right now.
Rating: Must Buy

We would like to that Jose Cuervo for sending us samples to review.

Clyde May’s Bourbon

Clyde May’s Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Batch No. CM-079, Recipe No. 2

46% ABV
$40
Website
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What the Bottler Says:
Clyde May was moonshiner by trade but a craftsman by heart. He made his famous whiskey in hand-built copper stills, with fresh Alabama spring water and the finest local ingredients. The man was locked up for his passion — eight months in the federal penitentiary — yet he started up those copper stills the day he got out.

This straight bourbon honers Clyde’s dedication to the craft. We use simple ingredients and a patient aging process to produce a fine, easy-drinking spirit. Like Clyde’s own moonshine, it’s a whiskey with integrity. Straightforward, porch-siting, rocking chair bourbon — and this time, it’s perfectly legal.

On the nose its soft with aromas of brown sugar, baked apricot, wild strawberry & nutmeg. Palate is wonderfully soft with complex aromas of barrel spice, fruit and oiled leather. Finish is long & complete. Best sipped neat, on the rocks or in a carefully crafted cocktail with integrity.

What Richard Says:
Nose: It smells, well…like bourbon. Toffee, vanilla, and cinnamon.
Palate: The extra proof gives it a bit of a creamy, chewy feel that I like. It’s more spice and wood forward with notes of more cinnamon, vanilla, barrel char, and a bit of old leather.
Finish: The finish is dry and woody with black peppercorns around the edges.
Comments: There is no disclosure on how old this Kentucky sourced bourbon is but it is surprisingly woody for what I would otherwise think is a middle aged (6ish years) bourbon. It doesn’t particularly stand out. It’s in the vein of an Elijah Craig small batch, Old Forester, or Jim Beam Black. Not offensive in anyway but not particularly notable. A solid utility bourbon (featured in my chocolate pecan pie this year). The cute backstory is really the only thing propping up the extra $15 to $20 you would pay for similar bourbons.
Rating: Average

We would like to thank Clyde May for sending us a bottle to review.