Tag Archives: tasting

Glen Grant 10 OB Review Take 1

I think of Glen Grant as whisky’s classic old guard.  The Fenway Park or Augusta National of whisky you might say.  I am not sure why I think this, but for some reason I do.  Currently the behemoth Italian company Gruppo Campari owns the Glen Grant distillery.  In the past I have had some of the Gordon & MacPhail realeases, but never an OB release so I wanted to give it a try.

I was a little wary of purchasing this bottle for our tasting event as it was amongst some heavy hitters.  I was afraid that it was going to get lost in

Glen Grant 10

the mix or plain just blown out of the water.  There were 2 cask strength bottles (Auchentoshan and A’Bunadh) as well as a Port Ellen in the mix that same night.  The thinking was to use the Glen Grant as a sort of palate cleaner after the two cask strength bottles and before the Port Ellen.  My fears were somewhat put to rest by the friendly staff at the Whisky Shop on Sutter Street in San Francisco.  Dara felt that the Glen Grant would be able to stand on its own two feet amongst the other bottles.  So I went for it…and I was definitely not disappointed.

Glen Grant 10 OB, Speyside, bottled at 40%ABV

Color – Yellow, light straw

Nose – Banana runts (if you remember that candy), malt background, apples

Palate – Smooth, cereal, hints of apple pie, a little difficult to get through, makes you work for it, sweet.

Finish – fast and clean.

This is definitely an easy drinker, but still has enough character to make it interesting.  It is a great value at ~$45/bottle.  I am looking forward to trying the 16 year old OB next.

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End of the Week Mini Caol Ila Tasting

Caol Ila has always been one of my favorite distilleries. It has the peat and smoke that you associate with an Islay malt but there is more to the whisky than that. I usually associate a buttery flavor to Caol Ila. It also tends to be clean and refined not “too out there” in the flavor profile.

So I was in the Caol Ila mood today. This might have to do with the young 8 year old Caol Ila that I just got from Japan thatwas  bottled exclusively for a department store there. See my earlier post for the unique bottle. Additionally I just received a sample of Scott’s Selection 1984 Caol Ila from my good friend Dara.  Untasted Caol Ila’s and Friday…no better time to drink!

I was joined by fellow whiskwall contributor Nate for the festivities. Nate should be posting his notes shortly as well.  We decided to start with the Scott’s Selection due to it’s age – more flavors to pick up versus the young 8 y/o.

Scott’s Selection Caol Ila Distilled in 1984 bottled at 53%

Color – Light yellow

Nose – Big wafts of sweet peat, a little smoke, burnt embers, ashy, an organic sweetness – honey and butter scotch, oranges are in there too.

Palate – Surprising amounts of smoke and embers (more than the nose would reveal), wet rocks, the distinct Caol Ila flavor that I identify as butter or butter scotch, oak, tree bark, slightly bitter.

Finish – long and peaty, the embers slowly eventually fade.

Great powerful Caol Ila – a big hitter and I love it at cask strength!

Moving on to the 8 y/o.  I do tend to like younger malts so I was really looking forward to this.

2000 Caol Ila bottled exclusively for Tokyu Department Store

Distilled in 2000 and bottled in 2008 at 59%

Color – Dull yellow

Nose – Shy and coy, you can make out the peat but its hidden, honey, a touch of mint, malt, very clean.

Palate – Soft at the initial point of attach then explodes with peat, malt, oak, again that tell tale buttery flavor, slightly creamy, cardboard, can tell that it is still very young, not all that complex.

Finish – fairly short, fades fast on peat.

I enjoyed both, but it was a pretty unfair fight I think.  The 8 year old was simply over matched.  The Scott’s Selection had more complexity and punch to it.  It might be one of my favorite Caol Ila’s I have tried.  It didn’t surpass the Whisky Shop’s 24 year old private bottling though.  For notes/reviews on some of  Caol Ila’s standard OB releases check out Whisky Israel.

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From Walker to Not-Water

More Single Malt Reviews Soon… but first a few odds and ends that must be addressed…

“Johnnie Walker Gold Label, The Centenary Blend”.  As for the nose, a little heat, gentle grain, smoke, and a medicinal note.  Soothing start, slightly viscous, caramel, malt, mild spice and trace of smoke.  The flavors are well integrated yet retain character. 40%

“Not-Water” aka White Lightning.  Don’t ask where it came from, but yes the jar was the original “packaging”.  Not too sure what this is but when you shake it small bubbles form for a brief moment, which I am told is, in Kentucky, a sign of good quality.  When I cracked the jar and stuck my nose in it I was a bit shocked, a lot of medicinal and cleaning notes.  Childhood memories of stripping varnish off of coffee tables.  When nosed from a small shot-glass the nose is pleasantly buttery and light.  Surprisingly clean palate with a distinctive nutty-ness.  Mild, sweet aftertaste. ?%

NyQuil Cold & Flu”.  Got hit by a cold, that is why there haven’t been as many whisky notes.  So I got to drink this OTC dram.  Dark, translucent green, FD&C Green #3, mostly.  Nose: best avoided, definitely medicinal with a gummy sweetness.  Not really much of a sipper, this is best quickly put down the hatch.  Very viscous, more medicinal notes of a dark and cloying variety.  Best taken with a water back as the tail really sticks around with a lingering high-fructose anti-septic note. 10%ABV

“Corner Creek Reserve Bourbon Whisky”.  Color, honey with a hint of red.  Nose, heat, mild oak/vanilla, citrus/lime?  Smooth, watery mouth-feel, flavorful sweet, not overpowering, warm grain notes.  Leaves a pleasant caramel/nut taste on the roof of the mouth, lingering, chewy sugar.  Tasty. 44%

“Alaskan Baltic Porter”. Very dark brown/copper.  Nose, vanilla/oak even at a distance, light sour notes and sweet malt.  Lush but not syrupy.  Rich body with only light carbonation, the cherry flavors are muted and delightfully inseparable from the dark malt tones.  Touches of an almost dark chocolate sweetness.  A muted oak note joins in with lingering vanilla in the background.  Amazingly well-rounded imperial stout-like porter.  Complex yet easy to enjoy… great with breakfast.  9.7%

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New Review Signatory Un-Chillfiltered Collection Highland Park #Whisky

Signatory Un-Chillfiltered Collection Highland Park Bottles

This is an independent bottling of Highland Park from the island of Orkney by Signatory – through their Un-Chillfiltered Collection.  My experience with the Un-Chillfiltered series has been hit and miss.  Many have just been plain unimpressive and forgettable.  A young Caol Ila comes to mind; I will have to look back through my notes to find which one that was.  This HP wasn’t spectacular, but it wasn’t anything bad.

This HP is 13 y/o.  Distilled in 1993 and bottled in 2007 at 46%.

Signatory Un-Chillfiltered Collection Highland Park Label

Color: light yellow, gold, champagne;

N: Hints of citrus, lemon?, smoke in the background, brine;

P: fresh, malty, refined, sweet, cinnamon spice notes, no noticeable smoke.

F: watery, the sweetness lingers.

With water: N: brings out the sweetness, loses the smoke and brine.

P: More vibrant and fresh, more malty.

Decent expression of HP. Doesn’t get too far away from the distillery flavors like some Independents do. Definitely clean and refined like an HP should be.

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Ardbeg Supernova Tasting Review #whisky #malt

Ardbeg Supernova Bottle and Box

It was a long week so I decided to go with something a little more “extravagant” tonight.   This bottle originally came in a

Ardbeg Supernova UK Duty Label

couple months ago, but I didn’t take the time to sit down and write some notes.  A good friend picked it up in the UK while over there for business – you can see the UK Market label in the pictures. The Supernova is a no age statement whisky – so I am assuming there are some youngin’s in there.  It is bottled at 58.9% and is touted as having a peatiness level over 100 ppm.

Color – Gold, champagne

Nose – Peat, smoke, moss, barbecue, intense!

Palate – WOW! Big punch of peat, honeyed sweetness, creamy, mouth coating, the alcohol burn is intense but fits well with this dram, melon, you can definitely tell it has youthful origins, a dark spice,

Finish – long, you can feel/taste the peat drag its feet on the way out.

Ardbeg Supernova Front Label

Intense and Powerful are the adjectives that immediately come to mind here.  This is an in your face peat and alcohol bomb.  Should be enjoyed with others though I think – the impressions and flavors that it leaves you with must be shared.  Reminds me of why I love Islay whiskies so much.  I look forward to bringing out the Octomore bottle and having a little peat showdown soon.


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Short Re-Cap of April #Whisky Tasting in San Francisco

Date of Tasting: April 15, 2010

With colder than normal weather, there was some concern about having an outdoor tasting. While jackets or other garb offering a layer of warmth were a sound idea, the fog, chill winds, or any otherwise inordinately inclement weather failed to materialize. And at 6:30 it was still light out so the out-back seating worked well for what was a respectable turnout of the 3rd Thursday crowd. In addition to Aberlour’s A’bunadh, the line-up boasted a few untested (but highly anticipated) quantities including a Dewer Rattray Auchentoshan and a Provenance Port Ellen. A 10-year Glen Grant also worked its way into the night’s sanctioned festivities.  All purchased from our wonderful local retailer: Whisky Shop


Taking a non-standard tack, the evening kicked off with a cask-strength dose of the 18 year Auchentoshan. The bold beginning was well-received. Owed in part to yet another excellent selection by Dewer Rattray, in part to a surprisingly complex Auchentoshan, and in part to everyone’s need to get down to the business of drinking, this first round improved already good moods and set a high bar. It also got people munching on the Mediterranean platters which work well to pad the stomach without compromising the taste buds (unless you go a little to heavy on the red chili sauce, which tends to bring out the heat in any dram). And so a night both low-key and cosmopolitan ensued: fine scotch whisky paired with hummus and falafels in the back of an upscale restaurant on a cooling April in San Francisco.

The A’bunadh came quickly on the heels of the Auchentoshan. Looking more sherry than some sherries, the dense almost-sanguine color was a pleasure in and of itself and at 59.5%, it built upon the fanciful flavors of the proceeding lowland with its not-misplaced reputation for a densely packed, intense whisky. As is typical, each drinking at there own pace, engaging in conversations more engaging than others, etc., the lock-step pace of the tasting began to fracture with some breaking away while others lingered.

The Respectable Side

Looking up at what is left of the Auchentoshan

In this haphazard but traditional manner the Glen Grant started making the rounds. Billed as a 43% palate cleanser to both take the heat down and to make way for the Port Ellen, the Glen Grant jumped rapidly to the head of many revelers’ favorite-of-the-night list. Lush and pleasant. And instead of getting boring it just got tastier and more popular. 3rd Thursdays are no exception to the second law of thermodynamics and entropy is essential to any casual whisky tasting.

By the time Port Ellen was pouring the muse of low level chaos had established a beachhead and the night was “officially” on.  The Port Ellen caught some by surprise and left others wondering but by the end of the evening’s festivities, it was just as empty as the Glen Grant. I thought the Auchentoshan had a swig left in it but the angels appeared to have taken a second share while my back was turned.


I would be remiss if I failed to mention a surprise entry for the late-night stragglers. Glenmorangie’s Astar was lauded by the still-extant palates as a real treat. So much so that half a bottle went missing quickly amidst the conversation and delight of those still drinking. – N. Nicoll (Formal tasting notes to follow).  Pictures provided by R. Polnar.


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Finalized List for April 15th #whisky Tasting

Made some changes to the lineup for our April 15th whisky tasting in San Francisco:

1. Aberlour A’Bunadh

2. Dewar Rattray Auchentoshan

3. Glen Grant 10 OB

4. Provenance Port Ellen

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Tentative pour list for April 15th tasting

Here is the tentative line up for our April 15th whisky tasting in San Francisco:

1. Port Charlotte PC7
2. Aberlour a bunadh
3. Dewar Rattray Mortloch
4. Signatory Unchill Filtered

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