Aug 112012

Johnnie Walker Red Label169

40% abv

Score:  70/100


A blend can absolutely sparkle.  Think about it.  A good master blender is able to create his whisky much as a jeweller creates a ring.  He is able, as his whim dictates, to position a selection of malts in a setting of soft or hard grains to create something truly magnificent.  The sky is the limit really.  Components are hand-picked from a multitude of distilleries and married in an attempt to bring to life the blender’s vision.

A case in point, Johnnie Walker Red Label is a blend comprised of about 35 malts and grains.  Generally in a blend such as this the grains are used to prop up the malts, where most of the character comes from.  Logically one would assume that, like diamonds in the center of the setting, the primary malts would stand out in beautiful relief.  So, do the malts sparkle here?

Unfiortunately…not even a little.  This whisky is drab, lifeless and uninspired.  I hate to say it, but JW Red is the reason that blended whiskies get a bad name.  Unfair, really, as there are some exceptional blends out there.  Some of which are even in the Johnnie Walker line.

Surprisingly, the nose on the Red Label is actually agressive at first.  It smells young and raw.  I would strongly advise letting it rest for 15 minutes or so before touching it, and can guarantee you’ll be smelling an entirely different whisky at this point.  The nose is chalk full of cereal notes and harsh grains.  There is a pungent peatiness which I truly did not expect in here.  It really doesn’t seem to fit.  A few other notes dance among the grains.  Notably, a burnt toffee or caramel and some rather tart fruits.

First sips reveal really brittle grains and cloying peat.  There is a certain vegetal weediness tied to these earthy notes, which is only slightly softened by a bit of vanilla.  It tastes a little better than the nose would lead you to believe, but by no means is it a stand alone drink.  As a mixer…perhaps.  I don’t really drink mixed whisky drinks though, so I really have no need for this in my cabinet.

The finish, though short enough is still too long for my liking here.  The lingering flavors just aren’t pleasant enough to not wear out their welcome.

An absolutely unexceptional blend.  Put the $30 you were thinking of spending on this towards a bottle of The Black Label instead.

One final note on blended whiskies…

They rely on the availability of their components for consistency.  I will revisit this whisky in the future to see if I notice any of the changes a few other souls have mentioned both verbally and in print.


Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 10:52 am
Aug 062012

Johnnie Walker Green Label167

43% abv

Score:  87/100


It’s really quite nifty when a blended whisky is more than the sum of its parts.  So how ’bout when a whisky is actually more like an exhibition of its parts?  Kinda like an exploded view wherein you can see the workings and trappings? this case that works too.

Green Label is a blended malt, comprised of single malts, none of which are younger than 15 years.  Since 1997 Johnnie Walker have been producing this nifty little gem by marrying Cragganmore, Talisker, Caol Ila and Linkwood.  This polygamous little gathering is a marriage made in heaven.

It comes together nicely in its smooth and rich overarching theme, but is easily dissected into some of its components.  The pepper and spice are reminiscent of Talisker…the smoke and tartness are Caol Ila through and through…while the Cragganmore and Linkwood would logically carry the big purple fruit notes and sweetness.

The smoke on both nose and palate (but particularly the palate) is rich and cloying (in a good way) like a fine cigar, while hints of leather and spice are both charming and complimentary.  There is a little bit of peat distinguishable from the smoke that shows off a little of the Islay side of this one.

The arrival is big and sweet and carries a bit more heat than the other Johnnie Walkers I’ve sampled to date.  It coats the mouth in thick slices of tingly peppers and bold flavors.  Rich, warming and rewarding.

Though not as good as the black label, and not necessarily better or worse than the blue label, this certainly is a worthy addition to the JW stable.  If you can find it…buy one.  Quite highly recommended.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 8:24 pm
Aug 062012

Johnnie Walker Gold Label

43% abv

Score:  88/100


There is simply no getting around it.  JW make some really nice whisky.  Occasionally these are simply stunning in their complexity and spiraling depths (Black)…and other times they are bold strokes of primary flavors that make a brilliant patchwork whole (Green).

Get your head around the fact that you are drinking a blended whisky (or blended malt with the Green Label) that is going to cost something on par with a single malt.  After all…are you drinking scotch to say you are a malt enthusiast, or are you drinking to enjoy the flavors and aromas?   When you’e certain you can suspend judgement…pull up a seat.  Let’s talk about Johnnie Walker Gold.

I love a whisky that takes me a while to unravel.  I enjoy, not being confounded, but led along a path where the individuals notes continue to reveal themselves in a slow striptease, one after another, until I suddenly realize my tasting notes are a page and a half long.  This tells me that every time I sit down with the whisky it will be a deep and rewarding experience.  I think that is why we do this, isn’t it?

The loudest voices here are certainly the sweet honeyed fruit (think puckered fruit), woody walnut, peppery smoke and light cinnamon spice.  There is a bit of peat dancing around back there too amid a hint of sharp orange zest.   From here the aromas and flavors are like ghosts, hinting at their presence, but when you turn in that direction they fade and leave you wondering if they were there after all.  Was that a hint of pipe tobacco?  Maybe…or not.

Gorgeously elusive and tantalizing.  Even the finish ebbs and flow with curiosity.  One thing certain though…the finish is all pleasant and long lingering.

If you’re curious as to where this stacks up in the Johnnie Walker portfolio…quite well, actually.  You won’t be steering yourself wrong with the Blue, Green or Gold.  Personally though…I’ll still take the Black Label.

By the way…this would be a hell of a dram paired with a nice cigar.  (Blasphemy to some, I know.)


Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Lance (Bastardized by Curt)

 Posted by at 8:15 pm
Aug 062012

Johnnie Walker Blue Label176

43% abv

Score:  88/100


Paying for prestige.

Let’s get that out of the way right off. There is simply no way around it. For those not immersed in the wonderful world of whisky, Johnnie Walker Blue is often thought of as the Holy Grail of scotch. It sits top shelf in liquor stores; commands >$20 an ounce in restaurants and pubs; and is oft gifted for special occasions. Every bottle is numbered and sold in a certified silk-lined box. According to JW, all of the whiskies used in the composition of this blend are at least 20 years old.

Sounds alright, huh? I have now tasted this on a couple of occasions and can say, without any doubt or hesitation…meh.

I have mentioned many times throughout reviews and writings here, do not be fooled by presentation or reputation. Let your palate be your guide. Don’t let anything but your senses decide for you. Let’s face it…aside from our palate, we have one other guide. Our chequebook. Can your palate convince you this is a fine dram? Undoubtedly. Can your chequebook? Simply…no.

Johnnie Walker Blue is unquestionably good. It is beautifully balanced and ever so smooth. It is pleasant and enjoyable, delicious and almost refreshing. But so are hundreds of other malts that will cost a fraction of what this will set you back. As a rule, I do not like bringing price into the equation when reviewing whiskies, but there are times when it absolutely must become an element. JWB is going to cost you ~$200 a bottle.

I think that needs to sink in for a moment.

~$200 a bottle for a branded, colored, chill-filtered, 43% blended whisky.

Okay. Deep breath. I am finished casting insolent glares at the figures behind this whisky. How ’bout the product itself?

Well…it’s tasty. Caramel sweetness, a bit of spice, characteristic JW smoke in the back, some smooth vanilla and mild berry. I think I am getting a little bit of light orange fruit as well. Generally a few drops of water will bring out a little more, but I’m not really a ‘water in whisky’ kinda guy and at 43% I would be afraid of drowning this, so I’ll leave it as simple tasting notes.

It has a thick creamy body and nice mouth-coating quality to it. Not much more will creep forth on the palate from what you’ll pick up on the nose. In fact, the fruitier notes seem to get buried a little here. The flavors are mild and well-mannered. Highest marks here are saved for balance. Not a bad note to be found. In fact it almost lacks distinction because of this tightly-woven tapestry of blending. Can I fault a whisky for being too smooth? Well, no…I wouldn’t deduct points, but should point out to you…when searching for that special diamond ring, shouldn’t there be a beautiful gem that sits in the forefront of the setting? JWB seems to lack that. This is simply too mediocre to justify the cost.

Final notes…it does dry nicely in the mouth and leaves a touch of wood and (very) mild smoke behind. Also a hint of tart fruit skins. Not a bad finish.

To be honest…stick with the Black Label. Trust me.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 8:06 pm
Aug 062012

Johnnie Walker Black Label016

43% abv

Score:  88.5/100


After several attempts at writing this review (and a lot of time with my finger on the ‘backspace’ key) I decided to scrap it all and simplify it down to this level…

I love this stuff.

Simple as that.  Johnnie Walker Black deserves a spot on every whisky drinker’s shelf (damn you, single malt purists!  Hide your bias…disguise your face if need be…and buy this).  It knocks the socks off the Red Label and sparkles through its complexity when held up against the Blue Label.  Its intricate myriad layers, delivered though a marriage of more than 40 individual whiskies (none of which is younger than 12 years), present such a gorgeous cohesive whole that I am truly taken aback.

Deliciously intense and deep, the JWB is engagingly mysterious and enormous.  The arrival is a rollercoaster of smoothness and subtlety…into warmth and bite…and finally into fruit and toffee.  The hills and valleys of this whisky are simply part of the landscape that rolls by.  No one feature obscuring any other.  Man…this is what balance in a whisky is all about.

The nose is warm caramel or toffee…diffuse peat and smoke…silky malted barley and tart fruity notes.  Something like a bitter berry perhaps.  This is all carried to the palate, with the grains and fruit taking center stage.  The finish is entirely pleasant and dominated by a sweet honeyed fruitiness.  Sprinkle the whole offering with a light dusting of warm winter spice, and this is absolutely the closest I can get to describing Johnnie Walker Black Label.

No long-winded diatribes necessary here.  This really is all you need to know.  Utterly exceptional blending, and very possibly my favorite blended whisky on the market.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 7:54 pm
Aug 062012

Springbank 1969 (Signatory)

54.4% abv

Score:  93/100


There is it.  That sexy milf-like maturity and complexity I anticipated.  Older than I am, and infinitely seductive.  We’ve all seen ‘The Graduate’, right?  Ahem…or for the younger generations… ‘American Pie’.  Well…here she is…dressed up in age and sexy as hell.

First things first…I love Springbank.  More than that, I love what Springbank is.  This is an independent distillery that does it all and does it right.  They offer variety, craft presentation and great whisky.  You simply cannot ask for more.  If you are yet to experience the palate lashing (in a good way!) that Springbank offers, please do yourself a favor and hit up your local spirit seller.  I can not conceive of anyone regretting this decision.

So what happens when you take a great Cambeltown malt, let it mellow in a refill sherry butt for 40 years or so, then serve it up at a healthy 54.4% abv?  For starters you can stick a hefty price tag on it.  To be expected.  C’mon, friends…this is 40 years we’re talking about here.  This spirit met oak the same year that Nixon was inaugurated…that the Manson family made the love-in pause for a few moments of silence…that Zeppelin released their freakin’ brilliant first album…that John and Yoko asked us to give peace a chance from the sanctity of their bed…that Woodstock changed untold lives…that the TV generation met The Brady Bunch and Sesame Street…and Monty Python first told us to “always look on the broight soide of loife” (well…the Flying Circus premiered anyhow).  Oh yeah…it is also limited to a mere 356 bottles.  Let’s forget price now, because it is irrelevant and because this dram deserves a little financial indulgence.

The nose carries dusty mature grains and sweet caramel.  Sandalwood, smoke and rubbery anise make up the duskier sultry side, while orange, sherry, vanilla and over-toasted almond bring some sweetness.  I love the nose on this whisky.

The palate is smoky and slightly floral.  There is sherry, of course, but something almost coconut-like darts in and out as well.  The afore-mentioned licorice/rubber note is here too.  Though that may not sounds like an appealing descriptor…trust me, it is unique and delicious.  The finish…sucking on orange peel and pith while inhaling woodsmoke.

I can’t imagine it’s easy to get your hands on this one any longer, but if you are able…do so.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 7:47 pm
Aug 062012

Glenlivet 12 y.o.

40% abv

Score:  83/100


It is hard to think of Glenlivet 12 without comparing it to Glenfiddich 12.  Together or alone they epitomize the Speyside character, and are neck and neck as the top two selling malts in the global market.  You can see how comparisons are inevitable.  Though I hope this review stands alone, Ideally you, dear reader, would have a glass of each in front of you to follow along and tell me if you agree.

Glenlivet is known as ‘the single malt that started it all’.  The distillery was founded in 1824 to much controversy.  As whisky distillation was all done on the downlow to shun the excise man and the Excise Act of 1823, George Smith’s decision to license his business and go legit met with…to put it mildly…a little indignation.  A neat history there, but as you should know by now…I am here to tell you about the dram, not the drama behind it.  So…on to the whisky!

First things first…I absolutely prefer the nose of this Glenlivet to that of the Glenfiddich 12.  The boldest threads to be picked out of the scents here are bright red berries, sweet peaches or nectarines, flowery notes and crunchy red MacIntosh apple.  It seems slightly drier, tangier and more mature than the Glenfiddich 12 (and I have a glass of each beside me to prove it!).  Gotta be honest though…the Glenfiddich wins on the palate for sure.

The delivery of the Glenlivet to the tongue is sweet.  Very sweet.  Apples again…wood…a hint of vanilla.  A bit of sweet and sour.  Falls down a little on the finish with not a lot of length or development beyond the initial discoveries.

None too shabby.  Not something I’d go to often, but wouldn’t shy away from a proffered dram either.  So long as the follow-up offering was a little more…ahem…extravagant.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 7:24 pm
Aug 052012

WARNING – The content of this article is not intended for Diageo.  If you are in anyway related to Diageo you should not read, disseminate, distribute or copy this article.

Glenglassaugh….Berserkers At The Gates

What drives the world? ……………… Energy.  Who controls the riches of the world? ………….. Energy Companies.  Who has the most influence over of the governments of the world? …………………… Energy Company Executives.  What better business to get into if you’re trying to get plunder?  How does this relate to Glenglassaugh you ask?  Well…you have to step back in time to fully  understand and grasp the meaning of what I’m about to say.  The story starts hundreds of years ago, around 793 AD, when the Swedish Vikings raided along the coasts of Ireland, Scotland and England to obtain riches, whisky and land.  The Vikings stopped raiding around 1066 AD but they didn’t just disappear.  The weather cooled and Vikings entered into a state of dormancy, called the “Ikea  Period”, after living large from all their successful years of plundering.

As with the last global warming period, called the “Medieval Warm Period”, which seemed to stir the Vikings into action, we now have entered into the next global warming period, called “Gore’s Meltdown”, which has triggered yet another period of Norse expansion. Well now…back to my original point of who has sway over the world; Big Energy companies and their executives, and what has replaced Medieval raiding …………….. Corporate raiding.  So who is the face of big energy in Sweden? ……………… The Scaent Group, which was  founded in Sweden in 2003 shortly after the start of second global warming  period.  What was the first business started by the Scaent Group? ……………. You  guessed it…Nordic Power, followed in 2004 with corporate pillaging into BaltEnergo, an electricity company in Latvia, and then marauding in 2006 with  Scaent Europower, a new company responsible for energy activities in Ireland,  Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Austria and the Balkans.

Are the Vikings up to their old tricks?  Is Sweden gearing up for whisky raiding once again?  As in the past, are the English the target of a bloody good ransacking ,and if so who has the right asset mix of riches, whisky and land that would lure the attention of the modern day Vikings? ………………………….The British multinational alcoholic beverages company headquartered in London called Diageo seems to have the right mix.  Now if Diageo  were the target you would likely need a beachhead in which to lay an assault.  Now what is really interesting is what the Scaent Group did in 2008.  They  purchased the distillery Glenglassaugh and joined the SWA, a not so secret  society, which influences Scottish law.  We would of course ask Jonas Garbaravičius, Chairman of the managing board of the Scaent Group, for a comment on his plans for Viking whisky domination, if we spoke Viking or Latvian.

So to honor the Scaent Group, these modern day Berserkers of the business world, with their undeclared secret plans to take over Diageo, we that are about to drink salute you and will remain supportive and vigilant until the day you invade Diageo, set things right and reopen the Port Ellen distillery one day soon.  To show our unwavering support, we, a multifarious collection of six whisky drudges, sat down together on June 14, 2012, to enjoy the fruits of the Glenglassaugh distillery, both past and present.  With the help of The Collective, Curt and I decided to post our tasting notes together in a joint effort and Pat did the honors of the photos.  Tasting mats were supplied by Clint and outside smoking accommodations provided by Jay.  Illumination of this great whisky was supplied by a Purple Valley Importer and Australian cricket player, with a broken finger, named Jonathan Bray.


#1      Revival 3 Years Old 46 % ABV First  distillery bottling from the new owners. Matured in First and Refill Bourbon casks and finished for 6 months in Oloroso Sherry Butts.


NOSE:  Caramel, feinty, lemons, raisins and plums.

TASTE:  Chocolate, coffee beans, green apples and nutmeg.

FINISH:  Medium and tad briny at the end.

ASSESSMENT:  All in all a great start down the path towards a standard older release.  This malt would be for Váli (Viking God of revenge) for obvious reasons.


Nose:  Feinty.  Somewhat sweet.  Plum and raisin.  Liqueur-soaked cherry.  Lemon.  Chocolate mint.  Oak.  Smoked…er…something.

Palate:  New Make-ish.  Nutmeg.  Weedy.  Waxy.  Wine-y and briney.  An applish finish.

Thoughts & Impressions:  Kinda feinty, but not too ‘off’.  How much of this is saved by the Oloroso?  In all honesty…a good start (or restart) for this distillery.  “Wi nøt trei a høliday in Sweden this yer?”

#2       26 Years Old  Rare Cask Series 46 % ABV – A triple pack of 200ml bottles containing 26, 37 and  43


NOSE:  Sweet cherries and ripe oranges, somewhat floral and a touch of mint.

TASTE:  Yumm-o (Australian of yummy) nice stewed fruits, black liquorice and lemon.

FINISH:  Medium to long with a hint of pepper.

ASSESSMENT:  This malt would most likely have been born in the last year prior to it been mothballed, therefore the most innocence and the most fitting dram for Baldr (Viking God of  beauty, innocence and peace).


Nose:  Cherry.  White Chocolate.  Orange.  Mint.  Latex.  Wine gums.

Palate:  A little sharp and woody.  Tannic.  Anise that grows and grows through development.

Thoughts & Impressions:  Fruits!  ‘I said gawdamn!’  Phenomenal nose, but only a great palate.  “See the løveli lakes…The wonderful telephøne system…And mani interesting furry animals”


#3      37 Years Old Rare Cask Series 54.8 % ABV – A triple pack of 200ml bottles containing 26, 37  and 43


NOSE:  Jammy stewed fruits,  caramel, vanilla, dill and mint

TASTE:  Fruit-o-plenty,  floral and some pepper

FINISH:  Medium to long

ASSESSMENT:  According to  the Kangaroo Cowboy in the group this is Cougar malt, didn’t know they had  Cougars in the outback. This was one of the best malts of the night and loved by  all, so we thought that it was best enjoyed by Sjöfn (Viking Goddess of  love)


Nose:  Deep, dark fruits.  Briny dill.  Latex paint.  Marmalade.  Eucalyptus.  Hints of red licorice.

Palate:  Deep, dark notes reminiscent of old sherry casks, but…apparently not likely sherry.  Licorice All Sorts.

Thoughts & Impressions:  Austere maturity, but still vibrant.  “Including the majestic møøse”


#4       43 Years Old Rare Cask Series 48.7 % ABV – A triple pack of 200ml bottles containing 26, 37 and  43


NOSE:  Honey comb, sweet ripe cherries & oranges and some nice floral notes.

TASTE:  Ripe juicy peach, pineapple, black liquorice and bananas.

FINISH:  Medium to long with a little salt at the end.

ASSESSMENT:  Gorgeous nose with delicate floral notes to inspire Bragi (Viking God of  poetry).


Nose:  Scottish shortbread.  Fruits are big and bordering on exotic.  Tobacco.  Suede.

Palate:  Oak is pronounced.  Bittersweet chocolate.  Toffee.  Very sharp orange rind.

Thoughts & Impressions:  Like sipping a pipe.  “A Møøse once bit my sister …”

#5      1986 – The Expedition Cask Series 45.2 %  ABV Cask # 1  25 Years Old Feb 19/86 – July 19/11  Bottled for CSN Wine & Spirits  Bottle # 203 of  204


NOSE:  Raisins, prunes and caramel.  Melons, bananas and a touch of dill and other spices.

TASTE:  Honey, orange  marmalade, cloves and nutmeg.

FINISH:  Medium to long and little tart.

ASSESSMENT:  This cask was pretty much the end of the line before the distillery was closed in 1986 so it’s right that this malt is for Forseti (Viking God of justice and truth).


Nose:  Caramel.  Banana crème.  Fig and raisin.  Grape.  Bread-like and malty.

Palate:  Mocha.  Honey candy.  Oranges…oranges…oranges…and…oranges.

Thoughts & Impressions:  Where’s the s3x on the nose?!  More impressive on the palate than nose.  Though still tasty, to be sure.  “No realli!  She was Karving her initials on the møøse with the sharpened end of an interspace tøøthbrush given her by Svenge – her brother-in-law – an Oslo dentist and star of many Norwegian møvies:  “The Høt Hands of an Oslo Dentist”, “Fillings of Passion”, “The Huge Mølars of Horst Nordfink”.”


# 6       1976 – Ronnie  Routledge –The Chosen Few Series 49.6 % ABV Release #1   35 Years Old May 1976- 2011 Sherry  Butt  Bottle # 218 of 654 New range of distillery single cask  releases following the four Manager’s Legacy Series, each of ten bottlings  chosen by a different employee. This cask was chosen by Ronnie Routledge, Sales  and marketing representative.


NOSE:  Ripe cherries, melons, sweet juicy peach, bananas.  Blueberries and nutmeg.

TASTE:  Winey, leather and tobacco.

FINISH:  Long and warming.

ASSESSMENT:  With all that  fruit, this would be a drink to enjoy under the Sun with a few good friends, so  it’s a natural to be the malt of choice for Sol (Viking Goddess of  Sun).


Nose:  Cinnamon bun dough.  Vanilla.  Orange.  Blueberry.  Sugar cookies.  Pear-heavy fruit cocktail.

Palate:  Rather sharp.  Stewed fruit.  Leather.

Thoughts & Impressions:  Great drinker, okay noser.  Nose is just slightly less than I wanted.  “Mynd you, møøse bites Kan be pretty nasti…”

#7       1974 – Jim Cryle – The Manager’s Legacy Series 52.9 % ABV Refill Sherry Hogshead Bottle #154 of  200 The first in a series of four bottlings to celebrate the  achievements and influences of Glenglassaugh distillery managers during  the period 1964 – 1986.


NOSE:  Butterscotch, grape juice, citrus, cedar and dark roast coffee.

TASTE:  Oranges, cream and mangos.  Black liquorice and raisins.

FINISH:  Long and very balanced.

ASSESSMENT:  The second favorite of the tasting and is a balanced and virtuous drink which can give you dreams of grandeur which is in keeping with Kvasir (Viking God of inspiration).


Nose:  Creamy MacIntosh toffee.  Lemon.  Pear. White Pepper.  Cinnamon stick.  Tempered fruits.  Chocolate cake.  Cool hot cross buns.

Palate:  Fruits.  Oh, fruits.  Orange and exotic.  Lovely.  Vanilla.  Some said licorice…yep, I think so.

Thoughts & Impressions:  Absolutely lovely, if slightly safe.  Beautiful really.  Ok, yeah…I almost love this.  This is no Viking…this is the Viking’s plunder…the hawt chick he throws over his shoulder while plundering!  “Møøse trained by TUTTE HERMSGERVORDENBROTBORDA”

#8       1967- Walter  Grant – The Manager’s Legacy Series 40.4 % ABV May 1967 – 2010 Refill Sherry  Hogshead Bottle # 149 of 200  The last in a series of four single cask releases to  celebrate the achievements and influences of Glenglassaugh distillery managers  during the period 1964 – 1986.


NOSE:  A tropical fruit shitstorm.  I said it had some of the same notes as the 1960 Bowmores and Clint said it was a lesser brother, more like a Tito Bowmore.  Some floral notes, waxy and cinnamon.

TASTE:  A little thin after all the cask strength drams.  Floral and fruity, liquorice.  Dark chocolate and a bit winey.

FINISH:  Long and floral.

ASSESSMENT:  The number one rated malt of the eight and an exemplary malt worthy of the noble Odin (Ruler of  the Viking Gods).


Nose:  Pineapple.  Peach.  Cherry.  Eucalyptus.  Latex.  Oak.  Pepper.  Bubblegum.  Faint spice pantry.

Palate:  Somewhat ‘thin’.  Fruits are impressive, but die rather quickly and turn a little bitter.

Thoughts & Impressions:  Simply astounding nose.  The fruit blend is absolutely beautiful.  Rich, rich tropicalia.  If only it had been a little bigger in terms of abv, but…40.4% tells me they just barely saved this one.  “Suggestive poses for the Møøse suggested by VIC ROTTER”


For the benefit of the great unwashed, the Glenglassaugh distillery was built by James Moir in 1875, near the Craig’s  Mills Farm, bordering on the North Sea very close to the small scenic town of Portsoy, Banffshire.  This Highland malt distillery operated until it closed in 1907.  The distillery remained silent until 1959, when it was rebuilt, enlarged and operated until it was mothballed in 1986. The Scaent Group leaped to purchase the distillery on Leap Year day 2008.  On December 4th of the same year, the water of life started flowing yet again.

In 2011, I was pressed into a Ferguson raiding tour from Calgary that descended onto this enchanting timeworn whisky institution. Under the gaunt eye of the Managing Director, Stuart Nickerson, we were given a first rate tour befitting our Canadian status, which included a top of the still house tower of Pisa like panorama view of the distillery, the old abandoned stone windmill, the lush fields and the seaside beach and dunes.  We inspected some of the less than 400 remaining cask inventory resting in the warehouses and finally we were led by Stuart in a range tasting which included a 30 & 45 year old whisky.

This Glenglassaugh distillery, I  believe, has unlimited potential both in producing great whisky and as a major tourist destination with all its natural beauty.  The people that work there are friendly and dedicated to their craft ,and I only hope to someday make it back  there to once again taste their product.


– Maltmonster (God of  mischief)

– Photos:  Pat

– Swenglish:  copyright…the Pythons.

 Posted by at 10:26 pm
Aug 042012

Crown Royal

40% abv

Score:  75.5/100


Interesting to re-visit this one after so many years. Crown and ginger was one of the earliest drinks I ever cut my teeth on. Though I wouldn’t go so far as to say the ginger ale was to mask the whisky, I will concede I never drank Crown neat. Why would I? It went down quite nicely with that ginger to bitter out a little of the sweetness.

Several years (and hundreds of whiskies) later, I find myself returning to Crown Royal. This time however, as a whisky lover and not simply a snot-nosed kid looking for a means to inebriation. So when one takes the ginger ale (or any other mix) out of the equation, how does Crown Royal hold up? Well…let’s just say I still can’t imagine sitting down to a glass of this served neat. It simply isn’t that kind of drink.

Crown Royal is a blended Canadian whisky produced in Gimli, Manitoba (as unlikely as that may seem) from corn, rye and barley distillate. The spirit is then aged in new white oak and what they refer to as ‘seasoned’ barrels. The whisky is sold with no age statement, and no amount of searching provided anything conclusive as to length of maturation. Apparently at one point it was sold as a 12 year old.

Enough of the history and detail. On to the glass…

First things first. If this is your first foray into Canadian whisky…do note…Crown Royal is absolutely atypical of the region. Both on the nose and palate you’ll find grains and bucketloads of corn vying for attention. The corn is loud and brash, almost bourbon-like in its intense sweetness. The big fruits are as loud as crashing cymbals and nearly drown out the more subdued rye notes in the background. There is a breath of sharp freshly cut wood and tart berry as well. A little spice and perhaps a touch of vanilla.

On arrival…waves of tongue-tingling sweet grains. Far too sweet. Not bad in terms of flavor, but a little too much sugar intensity. Surprisingly, the finish is a lot milder than one would expect from such a bold nose and palate. It fades to a pleasant fruity hum that has a slightly floral tail.

This is a quirky one, friends. Globally recognized, oft-revered and well-marketing by the team at Diageo, it is the best selling Canadian whisky in the world. Can’t help but wonder if that isn’t because of just how different it is from the rest of the field. Is it a whisky to drink neat? Hard to say, I suppose. For this guy…absolutely not.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 8:09 pm
Aug 042012

Port Ellen (OMC) Cask 6588

50% abv

 Score:  90.5/100


This is  classic Islay.  Not the best of Islay, but absolutely exemplifying  the style and character.  Islay with a little age and dust on the  bottle, that is.  The subtle nuances paint a picture of the island  that resonates long and hard with me, having now been there.  Be  damned if this doesn’t remind me of walking the island.  Dusty farm  roads and briny coastal breezes.  The impressions are all there of  afternoon strolls beneath island skies and the bleating of sheep on the gently  rolling hills.

Every now and then the olfactory organ can trigger such violently vivid recollections driven by scent recall that I am truly taken aback.  It is hard to believe how much is stored in one’s mind that can be brought forth by a scent months or years later.  The mind is a wonderful thing.

Though I tsk and shake my head at a bottling of Port  Ellen that is adulterated to something less than its glorious cask strength, I do concede that beggars can’t be choosers.  With this whisky in such limited supply, just a taste is a treat.  This Old Malt Cask bottling at 50% is from cask 6588.  It was decanted at 27 years, and to be honest…I think it could have come out a little earlier.   While still good (very good, actually) it shows a few signs of  being a little long in the tooth.  Too active a cask  perhaps?  Is it just me?

The nose is a medley of rubber, oak, smoke and salt.  I could also pick up notes of dry tinder, fish, grains and decaying autumnal vegetation.  One of the more satisfyingly unique compositions I’ve come  across.

The  taste buds are treated to the much anticipated smoke and lightly citric dryness.  Tart and ashy, there is a very unique and defining  burnt licorice/rubber.  In terms of finish and staying power…pull out the hide-a-bed…these rubbery gristy notes ain’t leaving till the morn.

I  imagine this would pair well with a fine cigar.  A mild one though.  This is a fairly brittle dram.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 7:56 pm