Aberlour 12yo Double Cask Matured Tasting Notes

aberlour-12yo-highland-single-malt-titleMany years ago, my lovely wife and I were on a trip to England to visit our good friends (one of which is a fixture in our Facebook group, Richard) and we took a few days to visit a few distilleries in Scotland. We would eventually visit The Macallan, The Glenlivet, and drive around the outside of a few others. We stayed a few nights outside the town of Craigellachie, which was right next to The Macallan. As you might know, Macallan Distillery is in Charlestown of Aberlour.

Aberlour, of course, is the home of delicious scotch whisky Aberlour. 🙂

While we were enjoying lunch someone, someone told us that we had to visit the distillery because it had “one of the best tours” available. Now, we’d just gone through The Macallan on their Most Precious tour and were on our way to Glenlivet (dodging Glenfiddich trucks the whole way), so we didn’t have time to squeeze in another distillery but the name always stuck.

It wasn’t until years later that I’d enjoy A’bunadh in its cask strength glory but I’ve often enjoyed the 12yo. When I think of Aberlour, I think sherry. Most of the Aberlour spirits are aged in former bourbon casks, which is common, but they do have quite a few finished in various dessert wines, like sherry.

The 10yo is a double cask matured spirit, matured in traditional oak and then finished in sherry casks.

Tasting Notes:

  • Nose: Slight rich sweetness like brown sugar, a little rum, dried fruit
  • Palate: Toffee, dates, dried fruit, light tropical fruit like the non-sweet part of pineapple or mango
  • Finish: Medium finish with lots of fruit, ends with the richness of a dark chocolate with some bitterness.

An enjoyable dram, you have to like the sweetness imparted by a finish in sherry, but it won’t blow your socks off. Whereas my first taste of A’bunadh begged me for more, this one was just a solid sherried whisky that checked off all the boxes.

If you love bourbon and wanted to dabble in scotch, this would be a good choice because the sweetness is a nice transition.

We can pick it up for $45 locally and at that price it’s a good deal.

Glenmorangie – The Nectar D’Or Tasting Notes

Credit: Fareham Wine

Credit: Fareham Wine

If you want an affordable single malt finish (that is, ending its maturation process in a cask of a different origin from its primary maturation cask), Glenmorangie is going to be your best bet in terms of value. They have produced a wide array of finishes as part of their regular expression lineup.

Take, for example, Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban, which is is Glenmorangie’s port finish. I love it. It’ll set you back around $60 here in Maryland, one of the most affordable port finishes you’ll find. I’ve done searches online for affordable port finishes and the ones that come up are Tomintoul 12yo Port and Arran Port Finish 50%, neither of which are available here. Everything else is far more expensive (Check out the price of Balvenie’s Port Wood! — granted it’s aged far longer and I personally believe it’s worth every penny… but still!).

But for today, we’re talking Glenmorangie – The Nectar D’Or. Aged 12 years, it’s their Sauternes finish. Sauternes is a sweet French wine from the Sauternais region (of the Graves section) of Bordeaux. Sauternes itself is a fun dessert wine because it’s made from Sémillon, Sauvignon blanc, and Muscadelle grapes. Now get this… the Muscadelle grapes have to have been affected by Botrytis cinerea, or noble rot, because it causes the grapes to be partially raisined! Sauternais has the perfect environment for this noble rot. I found that fascinating.

I recommend, given the opportunity, that you try the finishing product (in this case Sauternes) whenever possible. I am a big fan of port so I was able to figure out its impact on the Quinta Ruban. I’ve never had Sauternes so I can’t as easily pick out its impact on Nectar D’Or but some things are hard to miss.

Tasting Notes

  • Nose: Citrus, light raisins and fresh grapes, and a light sweetness with a richness of hazelnuts.
  • Palate: Honeyed from the get go, citrus, with toasted almonds and hazelnuts. There’s a bit of the cereal and barley flavor in there but it’s very much a dessert finish.
  • Finish: Finish is medium and where the cereal stands out after the sweetness subsides, you also get some vanilla and the lingering of the hazelnuts/toasted almonds

Doing some brief research, there aren’t a tremendous amount of Sauternes finishes out there. A quick search on Royal Mile Whiskies revealed only seven, many of which showed low stock and probably aren’t available here in the States. If you’re sold on Sauternes or just want to give it a try, this is your best bet if your here on this side of the Atlantic.

As for this dram, I enjoyed it. It’s fun tasting a wine through a whisky because you can tell that this marriage was probably a big challenge. Port has has big bold flavors, it’s fortified with brandy, so that marriage is of equals. Sauternes is like more delicate and so the flavors it imparts are lighter, citrusier (is that a word?), and so you won’t get the big influence you see in Quinta Ruban.

I’d give it a go if I was expanding my selection, certainly a good dram, but I prefer the port finish (and even the sherry finish in Lasanta).

Teeling Whiskey Single Grain Tasting Notes

teeling-whiskey-single-grainTeeling Whiskey Single Grain is, as you’d expect, a single grain whiskey fully matured in Cabernet Sauvignon casks from California.

Single grain means that it’s, in part, made with grains other than malted barley (in this case, corn). By comparison, Scotch is, by law, only malted barley. So this is a bit of a departure from me already, but my friend Rick gave this to me as a Christmas gift because he knew I was adventurous and this was something I’d have a hard time finding locally (he’s right, of course).

So we already have a different mash bill, then Teeling matures the whiskey in California Cabernet Sauvignon casks. It’s not as crazy as their Single Malt, which is matured in five different wine casks (Sherry, Port, Madeira, White Burgundy and Cabernet Sauvignon), but it’s still a departure from the what’s I’m used to (ex-Bourbon barrels).

What did I think? It’s tasty!

I don’t have a lot of experience with Irish Whiskey, or single grain whiskey, so I really have no frame of reference. It’s light, has some bite because it’s bottled at 46% abv, and is easy to drink. The lightness is something I’ve come to appreciate about Irish whiskies, despite how much of a novice I am, and none of the flavors really punch you in the face. It’s corn based but it’s not overly sweet, like some bourbons can be, and the Cabernet Sauvignon maturation really adds a lot of fruity and floral characteristics, in addition to the oak.

  • Nose: Fruity sweet, like a dried Red Delicious apple, and a hint of floral, some grape and a citrusy freshness and lightness I can’t place.
  • Palate: Sweet and light like the nose, and buttery. A bit of the tannic bitterness too.
  • Finish: Has some heat, being 46% and single grain, and dryness at the end.

Teeling Single Grain was awarded the World’s Best Grain by the World Whiskies Awards in 2014, and it’s really interesting to read the notes by the judges. Does anyone know what orange fondant syrup is? 🙂

[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?

Talisker Storm Tasting Notes

Credit: widmatt

Credit: widmatt

One of my more recent fun discoveries is Talisker.

Talisker is by no means a rare single malt, it’s one of Diageo’s “Classic Malts”, so it gets more than its fair share of marketing dollars. I also put classic malts in quotes because it’s more marketing than common accepted facts. For what it’s worth, the six included scotches do hit up the major areas of Scotland so it’s not an unfair claim, it’s just a marketing one.

OK, back to the task at hand – Talisker.

Talisker is an Island single malt and the only one on the Isle of Skye. In terms of Scotch Whisky Association’s region categorization, it’s part of the Islands sub-region of the massive Highlands. Founded in 1830 by Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill, the distillery’s name comes from the settlement it leased land from, a settlement owned for centuries by the Clan Macleod (the clan of the fictitious Duncan and Connor Macleod from the Highlander series!). Talisker was acquired by Diageo in 1925.

Talisker’s regular lineup features a 10yo, 18yo, 25yo, and a Distiller’s edition. I’ve had the 10yo before but none of the others, so I had a sense of the spirit of Talisker before we got started. The remarkable flavor I always take away from Talisker is their ability to capture sea salt and the ocean in their whisky. You get the smoke, you get all the hints that it’s an island malt, but no one else (to my knowledge and experience so far) has captured the ocean in a bottle.

One distinction for Storm is that it carries no age statement, which is something Diageo has been trending towards (and a point of debate in our Facebook group), and they use a mix of first-fill and refill casks.

Tasting Notes

  • Color: Dark gold
  • Nose: My favorite part of Talisker Storm is the nose, you get the ocean or ocean spray right off the bat with a hint of citrus, smoke, and sweetness.
  • Palate: You get sweetness from the get go with a bit of smoke on the backend, a reminder they’re still on an island and using peat. A little vanilla and the soft bite of pepper. There’s a bit of sharpness in it from the youth (you wouldn’t mistake it for an 18yo, but it’s not biting like a 3-yo bourbon) and some layered honey is in there.
  • Finish: Nice finish, mostly sweetness and a little bit of saltiness on the back end.

Talisker Storm weighs in at 45.8% abv, and I’m able to pick it up at my local store for $63, just $7-8 more than their 10yo.