[VIDEO] Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask Video Review by Swami Suave

We’re testing a new little feature here and it’s a video review by fellow Scotch Addict Facebook member Swami Suave – this five minute video takes a look at Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask Review.

Balvenie 14 is finished in Jamaican rum casks, after spending most of its life in new American bourbon casks. Suave goes into a little bit of the history of Balvenie, his personal history with Balvenie, and then dives into the tasting by way of a Glencairn glass without water (neat).

Tasting notes:

  • Nose: Toffee, white wine, light spiced rum, vanilla
  • Taste: Burnt sugar, raisins
  • Finish: Light nutty tasty

If you don’t get a chance to watch the video, Suave had one word of advice – don’t add water. It drowns out the complexity of the dram.

For the novices out there, one thing you’ll notice Suave do is open his mouth when he is nosing the glass. If you tend to nose with your mouth closed, try it with it open, it really helps because it opens up a “backdraft.” Give it a try next time.

What did you think of the video?

Posted in Tasting Notes, Video | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Johnnie Walker Blue “Smart” Whisky Bottle

via ThinFilm

via ThinFilm

You have to be kidding me.

I have about twenty different things I hate about this idea that Johnnie Walker will be doing with the Blue Label bottle. The gist is that they’ll be sticking a sensor tag on it that uses near field communications to talk to your smartphone (in reality, your phone is sending out signals and this label will respond).

They claim that this is good for the buyer because you can tell if the bottle has been opened, how long it’s been opened for, and, oh yeah, you can get personalized promotions, cocktails, and communicate with Diageo.

Personalized promotions, eh? Those are called ads. I don’t need more ads.

As for making sure my scotch has never been opened? I’ve never had that problem before. I’ve never purchased a bottle and discovered it was already opened!

via ThinFilm

via ThinFilm

And if you look at the image of the label, the “has it been opened” before test is whether the wire on the top part of the sensor has been broken (thus giving a different signal). It seems pretty easy to defeat since the wire doesn’t go over the top of the bottle.

And cocktails? If you use Johnnie Walker Blue Label in a cocktail… I’m not even going to say anything because I know you wouldn’t. :)

This reminds me of the dot com boom when every company decided to throw “dot com” at the end of their name because it tripled their valuation. Apps are hot right now, very hot, and it seems like everyone wants to figure out a way to use technology… even if it’s the wrong way.

I’ll tell you what though, I like the technology behind it, I like the innovation and the thinking that led to this (because it leads to more experimental ideas). I don’t think I’ll be installing an app but the sensor on the bottle itself doesn’t bother me.

Hat tip to Gary G. in our Facebook group for sharing this!

Posted in General | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Is Johnnie Walker Green Back in Production? Maybe.

Johnnie Walker GreenA few years ago, Johnnie Walker discontinued Johnnie Walker Green Label, much to the chagrin of many a fan. As recently as October 2013, they had no plans to offer it again.

But readers in our Facebook group reported talking to their local liquor store and learning that JW Green was back in stock because it was in production.

Companies change their plans all the time and October 2013 was a long long time ago, was the store manager of the liquor store right? Is it back in production?

Turns out it’s not. I sent an email to Johnnie Walker and our friend Eliza (perhaps the same rep from Oct 2013!) has this to say:

Johnnie Walker Green Label was discontinued in North America, however, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of this world-renowned whisky we are releasing it as a limited time offering. Johnnie Walker Green Label should begin hitting store shelves throughout February 2015. I encourage you to speak with your local retailer to request they place an order for the product.

Hmmm… this makes it seem like it’s discontinued in North America only (otherwise why mention NA specifically, something they didn’t do in 2013), so it might be back in production. I sent another email to clarify and will update this post when I know more.

JW Green may or may not be back in production but it’s available, you may need to have your local store order it.

Posted in General | 33 Comments

What is a Mystery Malt?

Credit: bigbahookie

Credit: bigbahookie

Many years ago, I was in a Costco in Delaware when I discovered that Kirkland had a branded bottle of single malt from Macallan.

Back then, I knew far less about scotch compared to today. I knew the name – The Macallan – but I knew little else.

The price was right, I bought a bottle… and quickly polished it off (cursing myself for not buying more!). It was good.

For the longest time, I thought that was a mystery malt. The mystery wasn’t in the distiller (duh, Macallan) but in what was inside, since there was no age statement. I would later learn that it’s not technically a mystery malt, it was simply Costco/Kirkland bottling The Macallan. You can see all sorts of bottlers do this nowadays and more of the bottles in stores. The label will be standardized for the bottler and then you’ll see a distillery name underneath (usually with the year it was bottled and sometimes an age statement).

A mystery malt is something completely different and the inspiration of this post came from our Facebook group where reader David found a mystery malt at his local Trader Joe’s – Lismore.

Lismore is a mystery malt.

A mystery malt is a blend of a variety of whisky where none of the names are (usually) listed publicly.

As you’d imagine from a Trader Joe’s branded product, home of the Two Buck Chuck, Lismore is pretty cheap – usually under twenty bucks. And we have no idea what’s inside. Trader Joe’s doesn’t sell any alcohol in Maryland stores so I’ll defer to David McCowan’s writeup on Chicago Foodies but apparently it’s not bad… for $18. :) [another review on Whiskey Catholic]

A fan favorite of Scotch Addict readers, Monkey Shoulder, is also a mystery malt. It’s one of the few that lists the malts included, in this case Kininvie, Balvenie, and Glenfiddich. Those more experienced with Monkey Shoulder will know that you can buy Balvenie and Glenfiddich in almost any store, finding Kininvie is nearly impossible because it’s not sold (more info on Kininvie distillery here on Master of Malt) publicly (yet).

I’m skeptical of mystery malts and would caution you to do more research about it before buying one.

Many of them lure you in with a cheap price (Shieldaig Speyside 18yo is tempting at $40) but you have to recognize you get what you pay for. There’s a reason a good 18 yo single malt starts at $80, don’t expect to get the same when you pay $40.

Oh, and everyone I’ve ever talked to has warned me against McClellands. :)

Posted in Reference | 4 Comments

Best Scotch Whisky Flask

Best Scotch Whisky Flask

Flask & Shot Glass Disposable Flasks Cork Pops Nicholas Portside Flask Stanley Green Flask Filson Leather Flask Binocular Flask Copper Flask HTML Map

Scotch is best enjoyed in a whisky glass, no question, but sometimes you’re on the go and you want to bring a little bit of the good stuff with you – what do you do? Bring a whisky flask.

What do I look for in a flask? I want it to look classy, be stainless steel (18/8 or 18/10 stainless steel, a.k.a. Type 304 Food Grade), hold a decent amount of whisky, fit in my pocket, and have a screw top. Bonus points if it comes with a funnel, but I already have a funnel so no big deal there.

Leather, Leather, Leather

filson-leather-mens-flaskI agree that “look classy” is a vague term but when I think of a classy flask, I think of one that’s wrapped in leather. Not patent or fake leather, not the cheap stuff either. I prefer the real stuff – bridle leather (look up how much time, material, and effort is put into the finishing process of bridle leather). This is the stuff high end shoes and purses are made out of.

Why do I care about leather so much? Good leather looks good. The cheap stuff scratches easily, doesn’t feel as nice, and you can see it a mile away. You will only ever need one flask and flasks are relatively cheap (we’re talking under a hundred bucks), so why not get something nice? Why not get something that puts a smile on your face when you pull it out.

My recommendation on this? Filson Men’s Flask in either black or brown (I like brown). It’s pricier than the other options we have here, which don’t have leather, but it’s wrapped in leather, holds six ounches, and looks great.

filson-great-american-copper-flaskFilson has another flask that looks awesome but is a little out of most typical price ranges. It’s a $225 copper flask with Tin Cloth holder. I’ve heard some less than stellar reviews of copper flasks so I don’t include any on this list but I do enjoy the look of them. Over two hundred bucks keeps it in the realm of window shopping though, I’d rather spend that kind of money on scotch whisky.

Best Travel & Outdoors Flask

stanley-classic-flaskThere’s something classic about the Stanley Classic Flask. Maybe it’s the green (comes in navy, black and pink… the navy looks nice too), the thick plastic outer shell that can take a hit, or the slim look.

Reviews are mixed on it though, so check them out if this look appeals to you.

Flask & Shot Glass Combination

shot-flaskIt’s billed as “The Original” Shot Flask, not sure what “original” means, but this baby is a flask + shot glass in one. The shot glass collapses and fits into a chamber on the side of the flask. The flask itself hold 8 ounces and the shot glass holds 2 ounces. It even looks nice, with a bonded leather exterior, and the cap screws on (crucial). Even comes in a pink version!

Cheapest Whisky Flask

hip-flask-funnel-setIf you want the cheapest flask that gets the job done – get this one. It’s under six bucks, holds 8 oz., has a screw down cap, comes with a funnel, and it’s stainless steel. It checks all the boxes and if you lose it, who cares… it was six bucks.

At that price, honestly, it’s practically disposable (but don’t… think of the Earth!).

Disposable No-Metal Flasks

blasani-plastic-disposable-flasksIf you are going somewhere with metal detectors and you still want to bring a flask, this set of Blasani sneak flasks are your best option. The set is huge (four 32oz, two 16oz, two 8oz), contains no metal, and cheap enough that you can just throw them out in the end. Each bag has a screw top, the set comes with a funnel, and they’re light.

Coolest Looking Whisky Flask

cork-pops-nicholas-portside-flaskI really like the look of the Cork Pops Nicholas Portside Flask. It’s a circular flask made of stainless steel and has a window, to resemble a porthole. It’s one of the few flasks with a window. It is a screw top but the top isn’t attached to the flask and the flask only holds 4 ounces, compared to the standard 8 ounces of many other flasks.

Second coolest? This Secret Binocular Flask! One look and you know they’re not real but how much fun is it to have fake binoculars??? Not only does it look hilarious but it holds 16 ounces, 8 ounces per eye piece. Or get this camera flask, though no one will believe you own a camera with 8.1 mega pixels. :)

Finally, if you just need a funnel – pick up this stainless steel funnel for under two bucks.

Do you use a flask? Do you have a favorite?

Posted in Barware | 1 Comment