Category Archives: Scottish Whisky

Big Peat Christmas 2011

Big Peat Small Batch Islay Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
Christmas Edition 2011

53.4% ABV
$75

What the Blender Says
Big Peat is as grumpy as ever, regardless of his jovial Santa hat. Perhaps he didn’t like his signature yellow polo-neck being swapped for a red one? In 2011, Big Peat Christmas was bottled at 53.4% – natural cask strength – and his festive bottling has been bottled at cask strength ever since.

Nose: Opens a bit feistier, nose prickling and peppery at high strength plus the classic fresh, salty and clean Big Peat style. It then, as it warms, softens to malted barley dried over peat – with that same damp earthy character, anticipated from the “regular” bottling.

Palate: Considerably more mouthcoating at high strength, it still carries BP’s recognisable ashes, warm tar, sweet Japanese style seaweed, bandages, beaches and smoking chimneys.

Finish: Long and lingering, it replicates the palate with salty liquorice, smoke, damp bonfire ashes, chimney soot and more tarry, peaty and phenolic characteristics that just run and run. Full of what the French call “chauf couer” at high strength – detect even more of the damp ashes when cut with water.

What Gary Says
Nose: Sweet, bright, peat, medicinal, seaweed, earthy/ boggy, salty sea air, oily with a hint of smoked fish.
Palate: Peaty sweetness than POW – sharp peppery bite that blots out all but the peat.
Finish: Moderately long, peppery and drying .
Comments: I’m a fan of Islay whisky – Laphroaig being the first Scotch I really loved. The nose on this is amazing – almost everything I love about Islay whiskey (if it had a bit more smoke, might be perfect!), but the palate disappointed. After the initial peaty sweetness, the sharpness and pepper bite took over and really muted all but the peat. While not off putting, it was less satisfying than the nose by a fair amount.
Rating: Stands Out

What Richard Says
Nose: Big and briny. A peat campfire with slow roasted sausages on the spit.
Palate: At first is comes over as creamy and almost delicate caramel sweet. Then POW! Big notes of wood ash, peat smoke, and smoked fish.
Finish: Salty with light white pepper and kiln dried wood.
Comments: Oh you want peat? This brings the peat. This is a massive smokey whisky. Yet it still balances well. A great cold weather dram when sitting by the fire or enjoying a robust cigar.
Rating: Stands Out

Glenrothes 1985

The Glenrothes Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Distilled in 1985, Bottled in 2005

43% ABV
$120
Website

What the Distillery Says
Talk about bounce-backability. We first released the 1985 Vintage in 1997. It was popular then for its aromatic spicyness. Our master blender, John Ramsay, has now agreed that the last remaining drops of this Vintage be vatted and bottled for the latest version of this great Vintage. The memories of the previous bottling are present but the benefit of additional years has increased the complexity and perhaps delicacy of this deliciously oaky-honeyed dram. From an afternoon dram this has turned into an evening delight. A classic to accompany many puddings and thereafter.

Appearance: Golden, clear and bright.
Bouquet: Rich, fruity, raisins and sultanas
Palate: Soft, smooth, oak, vanilla and sultanas.
Finish: Good length, medium sweet finish.

What Richard Says
Nose: Fresh cut grass, orange peel, lemon zest, and malt.
Palate: Surprisingly rich and creamy given the 86 proof. There is a great interplay between a vanilla, raisin, and poached pear sweetness and an oak/pepper spiciness.
Finish: Long with heaps of malt, pepper spice, dark chocolate, and grassy notes.
Comments: This is a fine example of a 20ish year old Speysider. It drinks easy and is very enjoyable. It’s not really a stunner but a fine dram all the same. Buy a glass and you won’t be disappointed but a whole bottle might be hit or miss for some.
Rating: Stands Out

Glenrothes 1998

The Glenrothes Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Distilled in 1998, Bottled in 2010

43% ABV
$80
Website

What the Distillery Says
The Vintage 1998 is the next Core Vintage to follow the Vintage 1991 and 1994. It is the first of the vintages that we have bottled that was expressly laid down at origin to be bottled as Glenrothes on maturity and as such has a greater availability of stock than any of the previous bottlings.

This is also Gordon Motion’s first bottling as Malt Master and he describes it as: “It’s said that pictures speak a thousand words and this is like Carmen Miranda’s hat in a bottle. Tropical fruits lead with pineapple and mango developing into sweet bananas, coconut and classic Glenrothes vanilla pods.”

Appearance: Medium golden, clear and bright
Bouquet: Rich, spicy vanilla, golden syrup and lemongrass
Palate: Soft, mature, sweet vanilla with a hint of cinnamon
Finish: Smooth, long, rich vanilla

What Richard Says
Nose: The nose mixes sherry, citrus pith, malted cereals, and ginger syrup.
Palate: Vanilla and cinnamon forward with notes of vanilla pudding, cinnamon rolls, Bananas Foster, and yellow cake batter.
Finish: Dry, almost arid.
Comments: What a great dessert scotch. Not with dessert but rather for dessert. There are so many layers of sweetness here. Unfortunately, that makes this vintage a bit of a one trick pony. Not bad at all but it lacks depth.
Rating: Stands Out

Glenrothes Select Reserve

The Glenrothes Select Reserve Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky
40% ABV
$45
Website

What the Distillery Says
John Ramsay, our Malt Master, has crafted a selection of The Glenrothes which typifies the distillery house character – ripe fruits, citrus, vanilla and hints of spice.

The Select Reserve is a first for us. A non-Vintage-specific selection carefully chosen by John and produced to the same high quality standards as The Glenrothes Vintage selections; only here we select and vat from casks from different years.

Appearance: Pale golden
Bouquet: American oak, vanilla and coconut, hint of plums/p>
Palate: Full malty flavour, medium sweet, vanilla and orange zest
Finish: Long and slightly spicy

Produced to the same exacting quality standards as the Vintages, Select Reserve is a vatting of casks distilled in different years.

It has been crafted to typify all that is The Glenrothes in its early prime. What we call the ‘House Style’. Laden with ripe fruits, citrus, vanilla and hints of spice, the Select Reserve is the essence, the very heart of The Glenrothes range in terms of taste and flavour. From this expression all other Vintages are born.

What Richard Says
Nose: Light vanilla and malty oak.
Palate: A lovely, silky sweetness of orange blossom honey and dried fruit.
Finish: Lingering with doses of black pepper and more malty oak.
Comments: This introduction to Glenrothes in their “house style” focuses around cereal grains and vanilla/fruit sweetness. Not a game changer by any means but it’s pleasant, easy to drink and won’t break the bank. If you want to mix up your malt rotation then give it a try.
Rating: Stands Out

Glengoyne 21 Year

Glengoyne Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky Matured 21 Years
43% ABV
$130 to $170
Website

What the Distillery Says
Sultanas and hazelnuts; dried fruits and rich spice

Christmas cake, honey, and rich fruit – with a long cinnamon finish. Matured exclusively in hand-selected sherry casks for 21 years. Perfect after dinner or, frankly, anytime.

What Richard Says
Nose: Baked raisins, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a big meaty dose of sherry.
Palate: Oozing with fruity honey and apple cider centering around a big chunk of oak. Revisiting comes back to a chocolate orange and well worn cedar.
Finish: Hot cinnamon kicks you in the mouth and then settles into a lingering black pepper and oak.
Comments: Sherry bomb? Check! If you don’t have a predilection toward sherry malts then this isn’t going to be some kind of “damn, this is what I’ve been missing” malt moment. It is going to be a damn fine dram and for sherry malt drinkers this is a definite must try.
Rating: Must Try