Jameson’s newest premium release. The combination of aging some of the pot still whiskey in port casks, including some older whiskeys (over 20 years old), and bottling at 46% ABV (and not chill-filtered) has helped make this a rich, deep, and complex spirit. This is a silky smooth, lush, multi-faceted whiskey with notes of honeydew melon, nectarine, banana bread, creamy vanilla, chocolate fudge, toffee, warming cinnamon, and nutmeg. The port influence marries nicely with robust oak notes, and the grain whiskey component helps to keep it very drinkable. A more intense affair when compared to the “great anytime” 18 year old expression. A classic after-dinner Irish whiskey.
The Tyrconnell 10 year old Madeira Cask Finish, 46%
Irish | $80
Complex on the nose, and the flavors just dance on the palate. This whiskey is bright, cleanly malty, and quite fruity with a tropical accent -- peach, mango, cantaloupe, sultana, and caramelized pineapple. Balanced by notes of honey, vanilla cream, and soft coconut. The best Cooley whiskey I have ever tasted!
Straw/honey color. Light to medium weight, with a slightly oily texture. Shy on the nose, but makes up for it on the finish. Fresh brine, toasted coconut, bright citrus fruit, and subtle mint on a bed of vanilla cream and honeyed malt. The peat smoke is restrained on the nose, but is more assertive on the palate, and it really kicks in on the finish, which is briny, smoky, appetizing, and long. The best Longrow since the 1974 vintage. If it would only just open up a little more on the nose it would challenge the best from ‘73 and ‘74. (Only 120 bottles for the U.S.)
Antique copper color, with some streaks of gold. A complex array of dried fruit on the nose, peppered with dried spice, orange marmalade, dark chocolate, and wood shavings. On the palate, the immediate impact is once again marmalade, followed briefly by bramble before drier notes of dark chocolate, wood shavings, anise, and subtle smoke emerge. Dry and spicy on the finish, but never austere. A delicious, contemplative 40 year old Highland Park that has aged gracefully.
This is a permanent addition to the range. Out of curiosity, I tasted it next to the other great Highland Parks (the 30 year old and several very good single cask bottlings over 30 years old). This whisky is in the same league as the others. Its only down side is that it’s a lot more expensive than the others.
The Tyrconnell, 10 year old, Port Cask Finish, 46%
Irish | $80.00
Deeper, thicker, and more lush than the Madeira Cask Finish reviewed above. Notes of strawberry preserve, caramel apple, nougat, sponge cake, and a hint of chocolate cream pie. All these sweet, richly textured flavors without being cloying. Nicely done.
Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection, Cabernet Franc aged after 6 years, 14 year old, 45%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $47.00
Aged in a Cabernet Franc barrel for 8 years after spending 6 years in new charred oak barrels. Bright amber, with maple syrup, vanilla, candy corn, white chocolate, cinnamon, and ripe berried fruit. Nice tannic grip, especially on the finish. Great balance between the sweetness, fruit, and tannins. This is what finishing is all about: giving more than it takes away (or masks). Nicely done!
A blend of three different types of whiskey -- malt whiskey, grain whiskey, and a third component which is said to be a malt whiskey produced from crystal malt. Brewers and homebrewers know crystal malt well, a slightly caramelized version of malted barley. Its rich texture suggests a decent malt content for a blend. Layers of sweetness (honeyed vanilla, rummy molasses, toasted marshmallow) are balanced by toasted nuts, dried fruit, and dark chocolate. Very dynamic and with plenty of grit. Smartly bottled at 46%.
Created by distiller John Hall to celebrate his fifteen years of making whisky. It really is a whisky that defies categorizing. More body than most Canadian whiskies; softer and less aggressive than bourbon. When compared to Forty Creek Barrel Select (John’s standard whisky), it’s richer, more velvety, and sweeter on the nose and palate. Notes of toffee, silky caramel, mixed nuts, exotic spice, and a hint of marmalade. A soothing, almost rummy, very drinkable whisky.
Duncan Taylor (distilled at Bunnahabhain) cask #7020 39 year old, 40.5%
Single Malt Scotch | $420
There have been several lovely older expressions of Bunnahabhain over the past decade, and this is one of them. The vanilla cream and toffee nuttiness is balanced perfectly by polished oak, bright fruit (apricot, sultana, cherry pits), and subtle anise. There’s a calming quality to this whisky that is very more-ish. All the maturity of an older whisky without the tired, dominating oak.
Duncan Taylor (distilled at Glenlivet), cask #2831, 39 year old, 44.7%
Single Malt Scotch | $305.00
This whisky fits the profile of other extra-matured Glenlivet whiskies I’ve tasted. Notes of coconut and other assorted tropical fruit, old rum, caramel custard, shortbread cookies, vanilla malt, and a hint of cotton candy. This is all balanced by polished oak. A soothing, rather sweet whisky (which is quite surprising for its age).
Duncan Taylor (distilled at Mosstowie), cask #5814, 30 year old, 48.1%
Single Malt Scotch | $275.00
Part of the “Rarest of the Rare” collection. Mosstowie was a limited production using Lomond stills for a brief time at the Miltonduff distillery. Very pale in color for a 30 year old whisky, and creamy on the palate. A very clean whisky. Bright fruit (apricot, lemon, sultana) and vanilla are the main flavors, with more subtle grass and hay notes. Soothing finish.
A “wheated” bourbon, meaning that it doesn’t have the spicy rye notes found in a more traditional “ryed” bourbon. A pleasantly sweet, easy-going, well-balanced experience. Creamy vanilla, caramel, candied corn, and ripe berried fruit , along with more subtle notes of glazed orange, cocoa powder, and wood shavings. If I were going to ease a new bourbon drinker into the category, I might pick this one. (Bottled for Binny’s Beverage Depot).
Tomintoul 12 year old Oloroso Sherry Cask Finish, 40%
Single Malt Scotch | $70
The subtle sherry adds an additional level of complexity when compared to the standard 10 year old, taking Tomintoul to a new level. Rich and creamy, with well-balanced notes of toffee, vanilla fudge, toasted nuts, and elegant fruit. A surprisingly delicious whisky for 12 years old.
Four Roses 12 year old 120th Anniversary (Barrel 7-1l), 55.4%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $90
Very creamy and gently sweet with a slightly oily texture. Notes of vanilla, toasted coconut, caramel, tropical fruit, honey-glazed almond, cocoa, and dusty corn. Well-balanced and soothing. A very easy-drinking whiskey. (Reviewer’s note: these are single barrel bottlings, and they will vary from one barrel to the next.)
This is six year old, 40 ppm phenol (very smoky) whisky distilled at Bruichladdich, bottled at cask strength and enhanced in Madeira casks. A young whisky, but mature enough to say that it’s not too young. The immediate impact is damp peat smoke and smoldering charcoal. If you are patient and observant enough (and with an addition of water), you’ll coax notes of vanilla, berried fruit, pear, green apple, and underlying spice (fresh mint, anise), all leading to a briny, smoldering smoke finish. A cult whisky for those who like to push the envelope. When compared to its predecessor, PC5, PC6 is slightly darker in color, creamier, fruitier, and a shade softer. Given this, I still prefer the PC5 over the PC6 for its clarity and innocence.
Gordon & MacPhail (distilled at Mortlach), cask #8173, 1994 vintage, 13 year old, 58.5%
Single Malt Scotch | $95.00
Richly layered. A veritable fruit basket, in addition to nutty toffee, caramel, cocoa powder, and toasted coconut notes, all balanced nicely by oak on the finish. Nice maturity for a relatively young whisky. (Bottled for Maxwell Street Trading Co.)
The newest vintage from Knappogue Castle and, like the past two vintages, this one is from Bushmills. More maturity and oak influence when compared to the 1994. Floral, with creamy vanilla, toasted oak, honeyed malt, citrus fruit, and marshmallow. Soft, creamy finish with delicate oak spice. A clean, very drinkable whiskey, and my favorite of the post-Cooley Knappogues.
Murray McDavid 'Mission' (distilled at Glenglassaugh), 1986 vintage, 20 year old, 55.3%
Single Malt Scotch | $175.00
The ruby/antique amber color suggests a first-fill sherry cask; the nose and palate confirm it. This whisky is a mouthful: fruitcake, roasted chestnuts, burnt raisin, candied orange, molasses, leather, tobacco, dark chocolate, wax, and a hint of clove. An incredible amount of sherry, but it’s not cloying. The flavors are clean, complex, and well-balanced.