-Peat Monster Reserve, Magnum Bottle
A different vatting of malts than the generally available 700-750ml and you can tell (I've heard that there's a lot of Laphroaig in it). Bottled at a cool 48.9% apv the spirit has long legs and an extremely full, well rounded mouth feel. Can't remember the nose too well off the top of my head, except that it's very nice, but the palate is unforgetable. Vegetal notes (think of the much denigrated Caol Ila 18 if you've ever had that), yeastiness, and a huge tarred-rope-in-the-summer-sun reak come on first, followed by a Talisker-like heathery-herbal sweetness (not as sweet Talisker though).This moves into some spice and a bunch of smoke. Smoke, tar, spice, and that heathery herbal note, alternate during the long, rich, satisfying finish. Like all of the best high proof spirits the bite doesn't hit as a stab on the toungue or the back of the throat, but diffuses accross the entire palate and throat as a pleasant burning sparkle. The drink can endure a tremendous amount of water without breaking up in the slightest. As it is diluted it moves from punchy and invigorating to relaxing and soothing. If you can find this, pick it up. It's worth the money. The magnum bottle, which combines the chic, modern, cosmopolitan aesthetic sense typical of Compass Box with a rawer, more venerable style reminiscent of the labling on independently bottled whiskies, looks great too.
-Old Man of Hoy, 14 yo c/s Single Cask, Orcadian Single Malt, (Blackadder)
Jesus! The nose on this thing is INSANE! Polish, leather, flowers, intense brine, oranges and green fruit. At 64% apv, a small sip of this is just overwhelming, not because of the bite, which is unbelievably under control, but because of the sheer inensity of the flavours-- brine and some citrusy exotic sweetness are about all I can put my finger on, but the experience is revelatory: I've never tasted anything like this. Water spreads the spirit out nicely and reveals a fascinating and complex profile. Green olives, melon, pepper, flowers, leather, orange peel, lemon, hay, and smoke all play a decisive factor in this astonishing whisky. The flavours are well harmonized. The finish is a long, satisfying very briney sweetness with a little bit of smoke. A drink of this starts out intriguing and evolves to monumental by the end. It's also informative: we've all had heavily peated Islay whisky, but how many of us have ever tasted something with heavy Orkney peat on it?-- well here it is. Just as Ardbeg can help new drinkers to understand what traditional unadulterated peat is all about, this can help any drinker get a better grip on that mysterious element in Highland Park and Scapa. This stuff is not for beginners: it's just too tremendous and individualistic. But if you like your whisky enlightening and enlivening-- not just pleasing and luxurious-- like I do, then you should pick this up on sight.
That's all for now. It would be great to get your views on these whiskies or anything others that have recently struck you powerfully.
Bladnoch 15 single cask, 55.8%, John McDougall's Selection
Powerful and very fun nose- lemons, vanilla frosting, and an element that my girlfriend compared to freshly made caramel popcorn drying. Tight on the palate: a uniformly diffused burn instead of a bite. Has a surprising heft to it. Flavours of lemon, candy corn, and grass. Finishes on a grassy-hayey note. Takes water exceptionally well. This is one cask strength whisky that drinks well at any strength.
Ultimately, we watered ours down to well below forty percent at which point we stopped because it was perfectly beautiful and we didn't want to spoil it. As we added water the candy corn taste receded and hefty texture phased out to be gradually replaced by coconut and subtle vanilla flavors, a delicious creaminess, and slightly gritty finish.
The bottle for this one is from the old school and quite entertaining. It's a glass box about 4" wide by 7" tall by 3" deep with shallow concave depressions on the sides to aid grip. There's a picture of what I suppose is a silhouette John Mcdougall's profile in gold against a navy blue oval. The label is bounded by a print of a thick, antique, nautical spec. rope clasped together at its bottom by a tiny nondescript oval plate bearing the initials J Mc D. And the back of the bottle is signed and authenticated- barrel and bottle number, etc.- in gold gel pen by the man, J Mc D. Nice.
Weirdly, this quaintly packaged, pricey, distillery authorized independent bottling is the only distillery authorized Bladnoch bottling available in the US (and it's probably pretty hard to get a hold of at this point). I think that the reason for this is probably to be found in the nature of the small revival the past decade has seen in interest in single malt scotch from the lowlands. As interest in an artist's work increases only after he is dead, interest in the whisky put out by the venerable lowland distilleries has increased only since they have been definitively mothballed. In hindsight connoisseurs have realized how special the style of whisky produced by distilleries like St. Magdelene (mothballed in 1983) and Rosebank (mothballed ten years later) were. Along with this realization a fresh idea of "really good lowland single malt scotch" has crystallized. Independent bottlers, who still possess stocks from the closed distilleries, have responded by releasing premium cask strength and 20+ year old bottlings of lowland whisky, which have, generally sold well. Likely it's in light of this, that the people who relaunched Bladnoch decided that having a specialist consultant like John McDougall design a super premium single cask, cask strength version of their whisky to promote their product in the US was a good idea . I don't know how the product worked out sales wise, but I can evaluate it's quality: it's unique and exceptional and I'd like to see more things like it on the market. Pick a bottle up if you can.
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If everyone posted in-depth glowing reviews like this of every whisky they drank, I'd go broke buying up all the whisky in Colorado. I SO want to go out and get a bottle of this right now.
Ry guy, I may actually soon be getting the internet at my place. How do these online tastings work?
As far as getting a hold of that John McDougall’s Selection Bladnoch, I know that Joe Howell, down at Federal Wine & Spirits, in Boston, Massachusetts, still has a couple of bottles.
Anyways, how many of you have seen that 18 year old Oban around and wondered about it?
Oban 18 yo, 43%, limited U.S. release
Enter the Oban 18 year old. Everyone in the room looks up expectantly: “What’s this?” Sophisticated looking with its off-white label. Promising with its four years more of maturity over the standard 14 year old bottling. Perhaps a tad disappointing, in a predictable sort of way, with it’s apv of 43%. And CONFUSING OR INTRIGUING, YOU CAN TAKE YOUR PICK, WITH ITS PRICE TAG OF ABOUT A HUNDRED AND EIGHTY DOLLARS!!
It’s quite interesting, though. An ambiguous, but not unpleasant nose: sweet, malty, not a whole lot going on. On the palate, it plays something like a blend, but silkier and with an idiosyncratically unbalanced profile. Absolutely no taste, and I mean none whatsoever, on the tip of the tongue. Those of you who have had the 10 year old Tormore will be familiar with this odd flavor-null-zone effect. It’s the same here, but in a more total way. I didn’t necessarily mind it, but my girlfriend just couldn’t get over it. Then, towards the middle back of the palate, it suddenly explodes in a huge burst of vanilla. Vanilla is a note in the profiles of many whiskies. There’s the corny, honeyed vanilla note, characteristic of Balvenie, the sherried, fruity vanilla note characteristic of Macallan, and the heathery, honeyed vanilla note characteristic of Dalwhinnie, just to name a few, but this is one vanilla note that is not like the others. It’s huge, pure, intense, and unadulterated by any other flavors except for a hint of maltiness. Like a gigantic sherry, or a heavy peat, it dominates the whisky and unavoidably constitutes its main appeal. As it subsides, however, some other notes do become apparent: a faint wisp of smoke, maybe a little roasted coconut, and a delicious spiciness, which ends up turning into a very decent finish. A cool whisky, it has a kind of soft, deformed, sensuous beauty to it. It brings to mind the stereotypical idea of the romantic partner who is comforting and attractive, but tragically uninspiring. It’s Very drinkable, but ultimately not very rewarding.
I really just can’t at all understand why this expensive limited edition was bottled at 43%. I can’t think of a single whisky that screams out so loudly that it would drink better at a higher strength. As it is, the distinguished and charismatic 14 year old, which is the Classic Malts’ MVP, In the U.S., pulls off everything the 18 does only much better. It’s compelling three note flavor profile of fruit, smoke, and spice, suavely announces it’s lordly status as a single malt scotch, while its middle weight, medium wet body doesn’t alienate the blend drinking populous. Compared to it the 18 seems incomplete, and incredibly overpriced.
A while ago, Auchentoshan put out a limited edition cask strength 16 year old, which I think was vatted from whisky aged in first fill bourbon barrels. Like the Oban 18, it was weirdly heavy on the vanilla and not very multidimensional. Because it was cask strength, though, it worked out very nicely. It was gentle, but very solid and a lot of fun. There are definitely still bottles of it floating around and if the notes on the 18 year old Oban were appealing to you, I would recommend that you pick up the Auchentoshan instead. It’s not the same, but it’s similar, and it holds up a lot better. It’s also not insanely overpriced.
Red_Arremer wrote:Ry guy, I may actually soon be getting the internet at my place. How do these online tastings work?
First of all, thanks for the notes on the Oban 18yo Red! It does sound interesting, and I've been looking forward to trying this one as well, but based on your write up, it definitely does not sound like it's worth the extra money, over the 14yo. I do enjoy the 14yo, but it seems many people around here are not crazy about it.
As far as the Live Tastings, they are held monthly, and there are on-going nominations now over in the Live Tasting Forum for some of the distilleries to be tasted over the course of the following year. We are not limited to the tastings of 1 per month, as there are always "other" tastings happening around the Forum as well. Typically on the weekends, or a Friday evening.
January 10th there is a Talisker Live Tasting being held here on the WM Forums, and it'll start about 2PM EST Saturday, and will proceed throughout the night, maybe even thru the weekend. People pop in and out, all the while chatting and posting their notes on Talisker bottlings they are tasting. Feel free to pop in and check it out! If you can't make it, keep an eye on the Live Tastings Forum for more details on upcoming events.
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