Category Archives: Scottish Whisky

Advent Day 18: Dalmore 12 Year

18 days in a we head back to the sherry side…

The Dalmore Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky Aged 12 Years
40% ABV
$60
Website

What the Distillery Says
The Dalmore 12 year old, with its intricate aromas and flavours, is recognised as a whisky with character far beyond its age. This was Andrew Mackenzie’s original masterpiece and stood apart from the norm of the day. At a time when it was standard practise to mature whisky for no more than 6 years, Andrew Mackenzie demonstrated his pioneering character by doubling the maturation period. His boldness truly paid off, The Dalmore 12 year old still stands apart as an exceptional whisky today, as it did then.

Matured for an initial nine years in American white oak ex-bourbon casks, the spirit is then divided for its final flourish. One half remains in the bourbon barrels, while the other is transferred to exclusive 30 year old Gonzalez Byass Matusalem oloroso sherry butts before they are reunited to create this phenomenal whisky.

What Richard Says
Nose: Big sherry nose on this one with a malty and cocoa powder backing.
Palate: Syrupy orange sweetness playing with a….”dampness” is the only word that comes to mind. A bit of a one trick pony.
Finish: Coffee and dark chocolate…mochaccino maybe? Draw the finish out and it turns bitter.
Comments: Dalmore is one of those “remember when” scotches. As in “remember 20 years ago what it tasted like?” Back when I first started to drink scotch, just about everything Dalmore produced was pretty stellar. This current 12 year old is a pale shadow of what they used to make. Now there really isn’t anything special going on in this malt. And on top of the quality decline, there is a huge jump in price since Dalmore redid their line about 8 years ago. They see themselves as a top tier luxury malt now. Of course, that also includes the requisite luxury pricing. $60+ a bottle? Nah.
Rating: Average

Advent Day 15: Lost Distilleries Blend

On the 15th day of Advent, my calendar gave to me…

The Lost Distilleries Blend Blended Scotch Whisky
Batch 10

51% ABV
$400
Website

What the Blender Says
It is no secret amongst whisky-lovers that some of the greatest and most admired distilleries in Scotland are those that have sadly closed over the years. Be these closures due to economic circumstance, lack of demand, or just bad fortune, many of the whiskies left behind have attained iconic, near-mythical status amongst the whisky cognoscenti.

The Lost Distilleries Blend has reached double digits! Yes, The Blended Whisky Company’s exceptional blended Scotch whisky created exclusively with malt and grain whiskies from distilleries that have shut their doors has arrived at its 10th batch. As ever, stocks both rare and sought-after by whisky collectors and cognoscenti alike have made their way into the Lost Distilleries Blend – this time featuring whisky from Caperdonich, Rosebank, Imperial, Mosstowie, Glen Mhor, Glenisla, Glenlochy, Craigduff, Port Ellen and Brora, alongside grain from Port Dundas. A marvel of blending and a fine tribute to those gone but not forgotten greats.

Batch 10 is a release of 1,041 bottles.

What Richard Says
Nose: Deep notes of warm fruit, polished old oak furniture, fine aged tobacco, rich vanilla cream, and that wonderful “old whisky” nose.
Palate: Stewed stone fruits, more vanilla cream, raisins, and toffee.
Finish: Herbal and smoky with a sprinkling of cocoa powder and ground black pepper. After all that fades it gets really bitter.
Comments: Delicious! This is a very complex and well integrated old blend of scotch. It is pricey and not widely distributed. I don’t think that I would scour the earth for a bottle but if you come across the opportunity to try it then you definitely should.
Rating: Must Try

Advent Day 13: Big Strand

Thirteen days in and the whisky advent calendar delivers me something that I had not previously heard of….

Big Strand Islay Single Malt Whisky
46% ABV
$40

What the Bottler Says
Not really anything. No website, press release, or really anything.

What Richard Says
Nose: Smoky and meaty.
Palate: Surprisingly sweet with notes of roasted peppers and salty sea air.
Finish: Hot and dry.
Comments: I would pass on this one. There is plenty of Islay malt out there but this one is unbalanced and feels cobbled together. This is probably either a product of young or poorly chosen whisky.
Rating: Probably Pass

Advent Day 11: Ailsa Bay

A new distillery, a new malt, a new day of Advent….

Ailsa Bay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
48.9% ABV
$65
Website

What the Distillery Says
With exacting precision, Ailsa Bay brings whisky-craft and innovation to a new level with its singular vision: The creation of a precision-distilled single malt, perfectly balanced between smoke and sweetness.

PPM: THIS IS THE PRECISE MEASUREMENT OF THE ‘PHENOL’ CONTENT IN PARTS PER MILLION. THE HIGHER THE ‘PHENOL’ LEVELS THE MORE ‘PEATY’ THE WHISKY WILL TASTE. AILSA BAY CONTAINS 21 PPM, WHICH IS ASSESSED PRIOR TO BOTTLING GUARANTEEING A MORE ACCURATE MEASUREMENT.

SPPM: AILSA BAY IS THE FIRST WHISKY TO HAVE AN ANALYSED MEASUREMENT OF SWEETNESS IDENTIFIED. THIS IS POSSIBLE THROUGH A REVOLUTIONARY PROCESS DEFINED BY MASTER BLENDER BRIAN KINSMAN. THE WHISKY IS DEFINED AS HAVING 11 SPPM WITHIN IT, WHICH GIVES IT THE PERFECT BALANCE BETWEEN THE PEAT AND SWEETNESS.

Micro Maturation: AILSA BAY IS ALSO THE ONLY SCOTCH WHISKY TO UNDERGO A PROCESS CALLED ‘MICRO MATURATION’. THE DISTILLERY’S NEW MAKE SPIRIT IS FIRST FILLED INTO HUDSON BABY BOURBON CASKS THAT ARE BETWEEN 25-100 LITRES IN SIZE, FOR SIX TO NINE MONTHS. THE RELATIVELY SMALL CASKS – TRADITIONAL AMERICAN OAK BARRELS CAN CONTAIN UP TO 200 LITRES OF SPIRIT – ENABLES INTENSE RAPID MATURATION. THE LIQUID IS THEN TRANSFERRED INTO VIRGIN, FIRST-FILL AND REFILL AMERICAN OAK CASKS FOR SEVERAL YEARS. THE PROCESS IS THE FIRST OF ITS KIND WITHIN THE SCOTCH WHISKY INDUSTRY.

Nose: FRESH WOOD SMOKE WITH NOTES OF SMOULDERING DAMP HEATHER AND AN EXTINGUISHED BONFIRE. FOLLOWING THE SMOKE IS A WAVE OF OAKY SWEETNESS AND HOT BUTTERED TOAST WITH AN INTRIGUING HINT OF CARAMELISED APPLE.
Taste: AN IMMEDIATE PUNCH OF PEAT IS QUICKLY BALANCED BY A BURST OF VANILLA OAKINESS. THE FLAVOUR MEANDERS BETWEEN SMOKE, FRUIT, CREAMY TOFFEE AND BACK AGAIN. WITH EVERY SIP THE COMPLEXITY OF THE WHISKY DEEPENS AS LAYER UPON LAYER OF FLAVOUR IS REVEALED.
Finish: AN INTRIGUING BALANCE OF OAKY SWEETNESS AND PEATY DRYNESS.

What Richard Says
Nose: A lovely light floral smokiness. Like burning heather or dried wildflowers in a campfire wrapped in a warm nuttiness.
Palate: A rich sweetness playing with that peat smoke. Fruit preserves, amaretto, and vanilla bring the sweetness.
Finish: Short and a bit hot with the heat coming from Big Red chewing gum cinnamon.
Comments: Described as “peat and sweetness” I think that is very apt. Damn, this is a fine dram. The only shortcomings I find are the heat on the finish which tells the tail of small barrel. Even though it was only used partially in the aging process you just can’t seem to undo that. The closest dram I can think of would be the Cask Strength Compass Box Peat Monster. There’s no Ailsa there but the interplay of sweet and smokey is very similar.
Rating: Stands Out