Category Archives: Scottish Whisky

Smokehead

Smokehead Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky
43% ABV
$55
Website

What the Bottler Says
Contemporary, individual and exciting, Smokehead appeals to bold and adventurous whisky drinkers who are looking for something challenging and different.

A heavily-peated Islay single malt whisky of the highest quality, Smokehead hits you like a cannonball and takes you on an explosive rollercoaster of peat, smoke and spice with a little delicate sweetness thrown in.

Flying in the face of traditional whisky packaging, Smokehead’s striking tin and unique label are hard to miss.

An award-winning Islay single malt with a cult following that stands out from the crowd.

What Richard Says
Nose: Briny and meaty. Notes of licorice, honey, and rich earth (sort of like compost but not).
Palate: The taste is much more mellow and balanced than the nose would foretell. Sea salt, herbal liqueur, smoked salmon, and caramel and fruit sweetness.
Finish: It finishes with a light bit of campfire ash and cracked pepper around the edges.
Comments: The package and name are clearly geared toward a younger drinker and bristle with masculine undertones. The whisky itself is much more muted. I was expecting something along the lines of Big Peat but this is more reminiscent of a young Caol Ila or a lightly peated Bunnahabhain. A nice pleasing dram for sure.
Rating: Average

Sheep Dip

Sheep Dip Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
40% ABV
$39.99
Website

What the Blender Says
No fewer than 16 different single malt whiskies, aged between 8 and 20 years, all woven together in specially selected first-fill oak casks for a distinctively full-bodied flavour.

What Richard Says
Nose: Compared to it’s Pig’s Nose stable mate this blend has more depth to it on the nose. Under ripe melons, poached pears, and malty back bone.
Palate: A young malty crispness.
Finish: Fairly short.
Comments: I had higher hopes for this over the Pig’s Nose but both disappoint. I don’t see any reason that should pay the mark up from Pig’s Nose to Sheep Dip. It’s a fairly bland and unoffensive blend but I will put my $40 to better use elsewhere.
Rating: Average

Pig’s Nose

Pig’s Nose Blended Scotch Whisky
40% ABV
$29.99
Website

What the Blender Says
The whisky’s name plays on the notion that it’s as smooth as a pig’s nose.

Produced in specially selected first-fill oak casks, the seriously satisfying smoothness comes from combining oak-aged Speyside, Islay and Lowland malts with superior gentle grain whiskies.

What Richard Says
Nose: The is clean, crisp, lightly floral, and grassy.
Palate: Exceptionally light and smooth. There is a buttery creamy mouthfeel to it but beyond that it is nearly flavorless.
Finish: Just a wisp.
Comments: I don’t know about it being “smooth as a pig’s nose” but it is one of the lightest whiskies that I’ve ever tried. It’s almost flavorless but in a very smooth way. Not flavorless like vodka. I tend toward something with a bit more oomph when I choose a scotch but this surely won’t offend anyone.
Rating: Average

Auchentoshan Hepburn’s Choice 1997

1997 Auchentoshan 19 yr “Hepburn’s Choice” (K&L Wines Exclusive)
53.3% ABV
$80
Website

What the Retailer Says: Auchentoshan often gets overlooked in the new age of big sherry and big peat. The Lowland stalwart’s triple-distilled, light, and fruity flavors often have more in common with Irish whiskey than they do Scotch single malt, but that’s exactly why we love it! The longer Auchentoshan sits in wood, the more exotic those fruit flavors become, which is exactly what happened inside this hogshead from Hepburn’s Choice. There’s a kiss of sweetness right off the bat that’s lifted and bolstered up by the 53.3% ABV. The vanilla kicks in shortly after and there are cheerful notes of shortbread and oak spice on the finish. At 19 years old, this whisky is still full of malty character and by no means shows its age. Think of this whisky as a cask strength version of the Midleton Rare, but at almost half the price. With water, the fruit really opens up and flavors of caramel and king sugar begin to unfold. It’s a whisky that does justice and honor to the classic Lowland style.

What Gary Says
Nose: Clean, cereal malt, with a subtle citrus (kiwi & lemongrass) with fresh tobacco & tea leaves; just a hint of smoke.
Palate: Sharpens quickly with a pepper spice, and then sweetens to barley sugar, figs, tangerine, and a hint of nutmeg.
Finish: Moderate to long, and drying.
Comments: Classic Auchentoshan profile – at least from what I’ve read. I honestly haven’t had much from them before, but I found my tasting notes lined up pretty close with how they describe the retail Auchentoshan 18yr (which I often find the distillery notes tend to be overzealous – but hey, they’re trying to move product). While this is similar to their notes, and I imagine a fair representation of their offering – it isn’t right in my wheelhouse. When I first opened it, I was disappointed – but I’ve liked it more each time I’ve gone back to it. I’d love to try this after only the 2nd distillation, as thrice distilled it is just too clean for my liking.
Rating: Stands Out

What Richard Says
Nose: Green tea, lemon zest, and malt-o-meal. Water makes it a bit more grassy and vegetal.
Palate: This is lovely and much easier to drink than any other cask strength lowlander that I’ve had. Creamy and honey sweet with a kick of cracked black pepper at the end. A bit a water taps down the pepper and bring forward more a of an orange blossom note.
Finish: More pepper (even with water) and wood. Medium and dry.
Comments: Very nice. I really enjoy this whisky. I actually like it with very little water. The fullness dies quickly with too much additional dilution. A nice one for Auchentoshan and single malt fans alike. As referenced in the K&L’s notes, I agree that this might be something that would appeal to drinkers of Irish whiskey too.
Rating: Stands Out

RMW 40 Year Old Blended Malt

Royal Mile Whiskies 40 Year Old Blended Malt Whisky
Bottle 62 of 337

47.1% ABV
$275
Website
IMG_1545
What the Blender/Bottler Says:
Quite frankly, we are delighted with our latest exclusive Royal Mile Whiskies bottling. Three excellent sherry cask matured single malts from the distilleries of Glenrothes, Macallan and Tamdhu have been gently married together to become probably the best value 40 year old malt whisky available in the world today. We’re confident that in this age where any whisky with forty years of maturation can cost big bucks, this simple but elegant bottle (nice label, no expensive box) of unctuous malt will bring big smiles to the faces of many whisky fans.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Deep rich baked dark fruits, oiled leather arm chairs, and a recently emptied humidor.
Palate: A good bit lighter and more delicate on the palate than you would expect with old sherry monsters like these blended in. Stone fruits, jarred cherries, dark chocolate, sherry, and oak. It’s very tannic forward like an old wine.
Finish: Wood and pepper dominate the finish.
Comments: No doubt that this is a very nice whiskey. The nose on this is stellar even if the palate is a bit underwhelming. By all means, if it is in your price range and you like old sherried malt then grab one if you can find it. However, it’s not a game changing old scotch by any means. The value proposition on this for 40 year old scotch is great. Also it’s nice getting to taste a bit of history. That, and being able to have one of only 337 bottles too I’m sure.
Rating: Stands Out