Category Archives: Scottish Whisky

Craigellachie 17 Year

Craigellachie Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky Aged 17 Years
46% ABV
$150
Website

What the Distillery Says
Smooth and mellow, the aroma opens with vanilla and rich, silky notes of exotic fruits with a hint of smoky liquorice.

To the taste this 17 year old Craigellachie delivers a smooth, sweet palate, with a smoky, lingering finish.

What Gary Says
Pending

What Richard Says
Nose: Thick and meaty with lots of raked wet leaves, vanilla incense, and black licorice.
Palate: Rich and deliciously sweet. Honey Nut Cheerios, vanilla cream filling, and a deep balancing “green” flavor.
Finish: The finish is very grain forward and of medium length.
Comments: Yes please! On my recent trip to Scotland we stayed in the town of Craigellachie. And even though we did quite a bit of whisky tourism, I never actually made it to the so named distillery. However, I did sample many lovely expressions of their malt at the bars and pubs in the area. Each was delicious. This bottling is no different. Dave Broom describes the paradox of Craigellachie as muscly and sweet. Very true words. I highly recommend trying this great malt, which until recently was relegated by it’s owner to being just a blend component. I can live with a few less bottles of Dewars in we can see this malt sing on its own.
Rating: Stands Out

We would like to thank Dewars for sending us a sample to review.

Laphroaig Cairdeas Quarter Cask

Laphroaig Cairdeas Quarter Cask Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
57.2% ABV
$115
Website

What the Distillery Says
For several years, our Friends of Laphroaig have been interested in tasting a Cask Strength version of our popular Laphroaig Quarter Cask — which offers an irresistible doubling of flavour, due to the double maturation in two barrels made of American oak. This year we decided to bring this dream into reality.

First fill Makers Mark casks have been used for the first maturation of 5+ years in Warehouse 1 next to the Atlantic Ocean. Different ages have been awoken temporarily to be brought together, before laying to rest for a second time in our smaller quarter casks (125lt). After a further 6 month maturation, the liquid from 177 of these casks were put into the bottle at Cask Strength, with no colour, no chilling and a simple barrier filtration.

What Gary Says
Nose: “Classic Laphroaig” profile – medicinal (band-aids, iodine, rubber bands), sea air, peat, earthy – but with a really nice hint of sherry sweetness followed by some smoke; not as hot or sharp as I’d expect at this proof.
Palate: Oily mouthfeel with sweet malt that kicks up after a bit, with pepper, peat, sour oak and smoke throughout.
Finish: Fairly long and with a drying peppery smokiness that leaves me wanting more.
Comments: I’ve found that Laphroaig is typically one of those “polarizing whiskies” – most folks either really like it or don’t care for it at all. I’m in the “really like it” camp. Laphroaig holds a special place for me as the first Scotch I fell in love with, and my first sip of this one lit me up inside. It reminds me of Laphroaig PX Cask, which I really enjoy (but unfortunately can’t buy retail in the US). It has that nice sweetness added to the peaty/medicinal/sea-air profile. This drinks like a lower proof pour – and while water doesn’t hurt it (really maintains that nice oily mouthfeel), I didn’t find myself needing to add any. If you’re a fan of Laphroaig, I’d absolutely look for a chance to give this a shot.
Rating: Must Try

What Richard Says
Nose: The nose of this reaches out and grabs you. As soon as it goes from bottle to class the smokey, seaweed laden smell come right at you. Spend more time with a bit of water in it and creamy vanilla notes start to come out.
Palate: More of that rich and creamy vanilla hits you first before it starts to settle in to campfire smoke and a classic Laphroaig astringent medicinal flavor, not unlike Bandaids.
Finish: I’m left with a heavier medicinal finish and wisps of smoke. There is also something there that’s almost meaty.
Comments: The only Laphroaig better than Laphroaig is cask strength Laphroaig. If there is every a scotch that carries proof well it is Laphroaig. This is everything good about the Quarter Cask kicked up a notch. I’m saying this is a must try whisky but you don’t care for Islay scotches then this probably isn’t for you. It’s not the most interesting Islay out there but if you like your scotch young and peaty then this one is for you.
Rating: Must Try

We would like to thank Laphroaig for sending us a sample to review.

Great King Street Single Cask

Great King Street Artist’s Blend Single Marrying Cask
Dekalb Bottle House Exclusive, Cask No 6

49% ABV
$50
Website

What the Blender Says
(When referencing the standard Artist’s Blend, Compass Box says):
Rich, round, fruity. Artist’s Blend is a tribute to a time when blenders used an artistry, creativity and craft to make this combination of flavourful single malt whiskies and delicate single grain whiskies one of the world’s most famous drinks.

What Richard Says
Nose: This bottle still has that fruity, spicy, oak nose but made more robust by the additional time in new French oak.
Palate: Big vanilla sweetness pops out right away. Creamy peach custard, vanilla sugar, a nip of black pepper around the edges.
Finish: The oak and spice come big time on the finish. Lots of cracked black pepper and allspice.
Comments: This version takes the blend to a new level. The finished blend is then filled into new French oak cask and matured or married for an additional year. That plus the addition of pushing the proof from 43% to 49% makes the already delicious Artist’s Blend a more muscular and imposing version of itself. This is only available through a handful of liquor stores around the US. Dekalb Bottle House is the only store in Atlanta that got one. They bought cask 6. At $50 a bottle this is pretty much a steal. Go, now, hurry and get a bottle before they are all gone.
Rating: Must Buy

Mortlach 16 Year (K&L Wine)

Mortlach Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Distilled 1998
The Signatory Vintage Un-Chillfiltered Collection

$100
55.8% ABV
Website

What the Bottler Says
Can we keep the Mortlach momentum rolling? It seems that ever since we released that amazing sherry butt of Mortlach from Chieftain’s all those years ago, we’ve been riding a wave of Mortlach enthusiasm for the sherry-aged Speyside beast. Diageo even released their own single malt version (maybe we had something to do with that, eh?) We’re always on the lookout for more Mortlach, especially sherry-aged barrels, and it turns out that Signatory had a sherry-finished butt sitting in their Pitlochry location just there for the taking. The first sip is all you need to get excited: lots of gingerbread, cinnamon, holiday cookie goodness just explodes on the palate, with cakey, sherry flavor rounding out the back end. At full proof, it’s as much of a beast as ever. But the fact that this cask was simply finished in sherry, rather than aged in the sweet wine from day one, is a big benefit. The maltiness of the whisky is still there at the core and the finish still sings of whisky

What Richard Says
Nose: Spicy and fruity. Allspice, sage, cinnamon, vanilla, nectarines, and dried apricots.
Palate: Rich and mouth coating with a terrific sweetness. Cigar humidors, more dried apricots, cinnamon candies, high cacao dark chocolates, and a big smack of sherry.
Finish: A nice woodiness with hints of graphite and cinnamon. When everything else fades you’re left with dark chocolate cocoa powder.
Comments: This beasts needs the water. Even for those, like myself, that regularly indulge in the 52-58% cask strength dram this one needs a few splashes or it comes out too hot. Delicious, but too hot. You’ll only be tasting the first dram otherwise. Sadly, this barrel is all sold out. With Diageo releasing their own ridiculously overpriced proprietary bottlings of Mortlach I’m sure the glory days of independently bottled, heavily sherried Mortlach are nearly gone. But there may still be time. If you are a fan of sherry forward malts (Macallan, Aberlour, Glendronach, etc.) and you see something like this Mortlach at a reasonable price then grab one. They rarely disappoint.
Rating: Must Buy

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