Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dark Side Monday

My company gave me the day off yesterday which provided a good excuse to conduct a little tasting. A good friend of mine has poo poo'd Scotch for quite a few years being a big fan of bourbon. During a recent trip to Florida, he was introduced to two Scotch's that turned his head ever so slightly; Highland Park 12 year and Glenlivet Nadurra. The light bulb went off and he found out that not all Scotch is loaded down with peat and smoke. Surprise!

So, as a way to reinforce his new found interest, I suggested a little Scotch tasting to kill some time.

Most of the selections encompassed Highland region offerings with a Speyside and Lowland thrown in for good measure. Absent from the selections was any Single Malt Islay's. That peaty maritime flavor profile is a real turnoff.

Over the course of the afternoon, we sipped on the following:

Johnny Walker Blue - The high end blend from JW that is heavy in Islay with Speyside blended in to add balance. A good whiskey with low levels of peat and smoke.

Glenlivet Nadurra Speyside- Amber color, nose piled high with fruit. Entry is honeysuckle, citrus (orange?), very bourbon like in the profile; makes sense since it is aged in used bourbon barrels.

Rosebank 14 year Cask Strength Lowland- What a fantastic expression. Heavier peat influence but not overly done. Again, fruit and malt on the nose but more muted than some of the highlands. I like this one.

Glenmorangie Nectar d 'Or Highland- Great nose of spice and fruit. Entry is sweet/tart with spice, cream and dark fruits. Somewhat complex and interesting pour. I like again.

Glenmorangie Sonalta PX Highland - This is one of my favorites. Big fruit and spice on the entry and just a hint of smoke in the background. Profile is well rounded and engaging. Like again.

Macallan Cask Strength Highland - Big daddy profile, bold fruit and sherry right up front. Reminds me of Aberlour A'bunadh another cask strength sherry bomb but just not as bomb-y. Candied fruits, hints of chocolate and fruitcake. Like!

Macallan 18 year Fine Oak Highland - Not as sweet as the cask strength and the fruit profile is lighter. Sherry is in check and balanced overall. This is one I could drink all day long. Very elegant whiskey, easy to drink and full flavored. Like Like!

The Arran Malt Cask Strength Island - This one I picked up a year or so ago for a heck of a deal at $35 a bottle closeout. This whiskey is finished in cream sherry casks. The entry is spicey, with traces of salt, malt, bitter chocolate and a undercurrent sweetness. This is NAS but it drinks very nice. Like!

Balvenie 14 year Caribbean Cask Highland - I consider this one a crowd pleaser. Drinks very nice, fruity, with hints of dark sugar (Rum!), cooking spice and wood. Yah, I like.

Balvenie 15 year Singularity No. 66 Highland - The single barrel selection is called Singularity because according to the store that picked this barrel, they were the first to be able to pick a private barrel for bottling and they will be the last. Don't know if that true or not but who cares because this whiskey is freakin delicious. Summer fruits on the palate, mild spice and deep long finish. This one is double like.

Tomatin 1988 private selection Highland - This bottling was done for a private group and was not available retail. The color was very light, the nose reminded me of fruit salad. The entry was big on tropical fruit. This was surprised me and quickly made it's way to the top of the tasting. Big time like.

McClelland's Highland SMSW - This one was similar in nature to the other Highland offerings exhibiting fruit, spice and malt. This particular selection was above average but there were others I liked much better.

Cardhu 12 year Speyside - More malt that some of the other selections, moderate spice and average in experience. It was good but that was it. Nothing too engaging about this one.

Edradour Marsala Finish 10 year Cask Midland - This one is interesting in that it's kind of a mix between Highland and Lowland, thus Midland. Very light in color but the entry is big fruit, moderate spice, citrus with a creamy undertone.

Tasting through all of these selections, there were some that exhibited mild amounts of peat but most all of them had fruity profiles that ranged from mild to bold. While I'll always be a fan of bourbon, other whiskies are certainly getting my attention. I see Scotch as a slippery slope over the long term.


  1. Nice tasting, Greg. Would you mind sharing where you got the Singularity? You might want to look at Bunnahabhain sometime; even though it is an Islay, it doesn't follow the heavy peat profile of the rest of the island. Like you, the really strong peat flavor is not to my liking. Talk to you soon.

  2. Jeremiah - Julio's liquor up near Boston did this bottling back in 2010. Because of the unique nature of this Balvenie, bottles were acquired via lottery and I was fortunate enough to grab a couple. Next time you're over, I'll break it out for you to try.