Magnum Cream Liqueur Review

It’s been a very mild winter here in Maryland this year and it’s a shame because one of my favorite adult beverages after a morning of shoveling snow is some Baileys Irish Cream in my coffee.

It’s a good combination because my wife’s favorite beverage is some Baileys Irish Cream in a glass with a couple of small ice cubes!

One of the things we’ve learned is that not all cream liqueurs are the same. We were at a store that didn’t have Baileys so we picked up a random irish cream liqueur and it tasted terrible. Whatever whisky that brand used was so harsh it wasn’t balanced by the cream.

So when I heard that there was a cream liqueur made not from Irish whiskey but from Scotch – boy did I perk up!

It’s called Magnum Cream Liqueur and it’s Dutch cream with whiskey from BenRiach, a Speyside distillery owned by Brown-Forman. Much like its more famous cream cousin, it’s 17% alcohol by volume.

I’m not going to give it the treatment I typically do for a whisky tasting note but I am going to say that when I enjoyed it with ice, it tasted decadent in its caramel and chocolatey richness. It was fruitier than Baileys, when I tried them side by side, and I felt like the whisky part shined brighter than in Baileys.

I also have to mention the bottle – it’s stainless steel, has these slick handles, and chills very very quickly. It’s also shaped as to not take up a massive amount of refrigerator space since it’s a cylindrical and not your typical fat bottom bottle.

Here’s a quick video about it:

If you’re a fan of cream liqueur, give it a look.

Suntory Whisky Toki – Tasting Notes

(Courtesy: Suntory Whisky)

(Courtesy: Suntory Whisky)

Suntory Whisky is a distillery that’s been in business since 1899 and most whisky fans have known about them, seeing as they’re one of the only Japanese whisky brands available in the United States (I’m not aware of any others off the top of my head). Suntory is a huge brand though and Suntory Holdings owns familiar names like Jim Beam (Yes, Jim Beam and all the brands associated with it), Laphroaig, Sauza, and many many others. They’re enormous.

Their Japanese whisky line up includes names like Yamazaki, Hakushu, and Hibiki. You may have heard that Yamazaki was named the best whisky in the world by Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible 2015 (specifically, the Yamazaki Single Malt Sherry Cask 2013). They got the chops.

So what’s Toki? It means “time” in Japanese and it’s another entrant into the blend category, to join Hibiki. Yamazaki and Hakushu are single malts from those respective distilleries. Suntory also owns Chita, a single grain whisky, but you won’t find that in the United States. All three are blended to make Toki.

Toki Tasting Notes

Visually, Toki is a light gold color. It doesn’t have a lot of body as you swirl it in the glass (I enjoyed it in a Glencairn).

The nose is nice and delicate, perhaps I’m influenced by the color, but hints of granny smith apples and honey.

The palate continues the theme of lightness, makes me feel like I’m sipping an Irish whisky (triple distilled), with a bit of honey and vanilla.

Finish is there, a bit of heat at the end (43% abv, so not higher than average), and it doesn’t linger long.

Overall

It’s well done and an affordable dram coming at around $40 for a 750mL bottle. It’s one you could drink all night long and not get sick of it but it’s very delicate, nothing jumps out at you about its flavor or nose.

I’ve seen a bunch of places suggest you use it in a highball cocktail, myself included, and I think it truly shines in that role. Much like gin and tonics featuring Hendrick’s gin and its complex botanicals, the honeys, vanillas, and green apple of Toki plays a big role in highballs (which is just whisky and club soda).

Booker’s Tasting Notes (Batch 2015-04)

booker-batch-4The first time I sipped Booker’s I had no idea what I was in for.

My wife bought it for me as a gift. It came in this nice wooden box, the bottle looked cool, and the sauce inside looked rich and delicious.

I was not prepared for 127 proof bourbon! (cask strength baby) The best part is that I didn’t know until the next day after I overindulged, not even realizing it packed a little bit (OK, a lot) more punch than your average whisky in the 80-86 proof range.

When I sipped it, I knew it was strong. But bourbon is already sweeter than scotch… but Booker’s on the nose is so much brown sugar, vanilla and caramel. You could pour this on pancakes! (So delicious) The bite afterwards, since it is 63.5% alcohol by volume, is noticeable but not big enough to make me think much of it! I paid for it the next day but I enjoyed every moment I ran up the bill.

What’s fun about Booker’s is that they are released in batches. Mine was Batch 2015-04, called Oven Buster Batch, and here is what the Master Distiller Fred Doe wrote about it:

“This batch is called the “Oven Buster” batch for the incident that happened to my mother when she cooked with my father’s early batches of Booker’s Bourbon. She actually blew the oven door open using the Booker’s to finish her pork roast she baked. This batch has some vanilla notes and a nice oaky full-bodied aroma. The flavor is well balanced with a finish that is pleasant and leaves you wanting another taste.“

  • Nose: Vanilla, brown sugar, caramel, maybe a hint of oak behind the heat.
  • Taste: Vanilla and brown sugar from the get go, a pepper kick from the alcohol near the end.
  • Finish: A nice loooooooooooooooong finish, it coats your mouth for a minute and gets your salivary glands going. Your saliva and what remains is probably 40% abv. Definitely some oak finish and that lingering vanilla. Not much burn from the alcohol.

Overall, this can be a dangerous dram and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

If you’re looking to get something nice for a bourbon fan, you will do quite well with Booker’s.

Glen Moray 16yo Tasting Notes

glen-moray-16-year-old-whiskyGlen Moray is a Speyside distillery located in Laich O’Moray (The Laich of Moray), an agricultural coastal plain located in Moray. Laich means low lying land and Moray is a local council area of Scotland, located in the north-east and along the coast. Based on its location, which happens to be near Elgin (the capital town of the Speyside region), it experiences milder weather and the protection of nearby mountains.

Until my first sip of Glen Moray 16yo, I’d never had any Glen Moray before. I’m a big fan of Speysides, more of the fruity spirits versus the floral ones, and so I knew that I’d become fast friends with Glen Moray. It’s finished in ex bourbon casks from the United States.

It probably doesn’t get as much press and media since it’s owned by La Martiniquaise, France’s 2nd largest spirits group, and not one of the massive conglomerates.

What caught my eye was the tin canister – most whiskies here are in boxes – and when I opened it, I liked the design of the bottle. It was reminiscent of whisky stills.

What’s fun about this whisky is that it’s a marriage of whisky matured in ex Bourbon and ex Sherry casks. They literally take one batch and age the new make in ex Bourbon casks for sixteen years, take another batch and age it in ex Sherry, then put them together.

Tasting Notes:

  • Nose: Sweet and dry fruity like raisins, tiny hints of vanilla, no floral or peat.
  • Palate: Sweet with a firm body, some tannins but not much, a bit of caramel and barley richness
  • Finish: Medium finish with a sweet aftertaste

It’s a classic fruity Speyside that’s light, easy to enjoy neat, and smooth. ABV 40% and comes in a nice decorative tin if you’re thinking about gifting it.

Glen Garioch 1797 Founder’s Reserve Tasting Notes

glen-garioch-founders-reserveThe Highland region is massive. It’s basically all of northern Scotland with a little chunk removed, named Speyside, and is home to many well known distilleries like Glengoyne, Glenmorangie, Edradour, Dalmore, Macallan, Oban… the list goes on and on. Funny enough, it doesn’t actually include Highland Park, which is located in Orkney which is part of the Northern Isles.

Glen Garioch, pronounced Glen Geery, was founded in 1797 and is located near Aberdeenshire – famous for producing the best barley in Scotland. It would make sense that a distillery call it home! If you’re into trivia, it is the easternmost distillery. The distillery has had a wild ride, having been shut down and restarted a few times, most recently closed temporarily between 1995-1997, but is now in full production after renovation in 2009.

I’ve never been there before but they’re one of several distilleries that allow you to bottle your own at the visitor’s center, always a nice little treat.

Glen Garioch is currently operated by Morrison Bowmore Distillers, which is owned by Suntory.

But enough about the background, you’re not here for a history lesson.

How’s Glen Garioch’s Founder’s Reserve? This 48% abv spirit was made to celebrate the 200 year anniversary. Matured in bourbon and sherry casks.

Tasting Notes

  • Nose: Very subtle scents, took me a minute to pick them out. There’s some vanilla, caramel and a bit of apple or some other kind of fresh fruit on the nose.
  • Palate: It packs a punch, owing to the 48% abv, but you get a creaminess and vanilla coming through, a very slight hint of apple but not sweet at all.
  • Finish: Medium finish, soft, vanilla, dries out

I remember linking up this tasting note for Glen Garioch 15yo (not what this tasting note is about, but same distiller) from a while back… different strokes for different folks. 🙂

A tasty dram, a nice high ABV that still has subtle flavors. It really opens up with water, which I needed because of its higher ABV, and the vanilla and caramels shine.