Very well-balanced and mellow on the nose and palate. Sweet notes of mature dark rum, toffee, nougat, and candy corn dovetail with dried apricot, golden raisin, hot cinnamon, soft mint tea, and vanilla. Polished leather and tobacco leaves on a long, contemplative finish. This is what ultra-mature bourbon should taste like: all the depth and complexity that comes with this much aging, without all the excessive oak. The wood is there, but it never crosses the line. The next closest Heaven Hill bourbon in age is the Evan Williams 23 year old for the export market. There's no comparison. The Evan Williams 23 year old is way past its prime. This Parker's Heritage Collection has it easily beat. In fact, this Parker's shows less oak and lethargy on the finish than the 129.6 proof expression of last year's inaugural 1996 vintage Parker's Heritage Collection, a whisky less than half its age. (There were three different expressions, and I thought the other two were outstanding).
Parker Beam chose these whiskeys from the third floor of Warehouse U. Given that the whiskeys were low in the warehouse, the average summer high temperatures were 6-10 degrees cooler than the top floor; helping to slow the aging process and the oak influence.
A 12 year old blended whisky was created in 1972 consisting of 70 different malt whiskies and 12 grain whiskies. The blend was then placed in three sherry casks, where it was matured for the next 36 years (highly irregular, to say the least). The quality of the sherry casks is quite evident, as is the whisky's age. There's substantial malt content here, too. These three factors, along with the wide range of malt and grain whiskies, combine to create one of the finest blended Scotch whiskies I have ever tasted. It's dark, mysterious, and enormously complex, with notes of molasses, fig cake, dried fruit, tobacco, dark chocolate, old pot still rum, and polished leather, finishing with lingering cinnamon and mint. There's no sign of this whisky getting tired at all. I am pleased they bottled it at natural strength and didn't water it down to 40% or 43% abv, which could have ruined it.
(Allocation information: There's a total of 1.347 bottles, of which only 350 are being imported to the U.S. They are available exclusively at Binny's Beverage Depot (Chicago), Park Avenue Liquors (New York), and Wally's (Los Angeles)).
A blend of two whiskeys; a 6 year old made from 95% rye and a 16 year old made from 80% rye. These are very high percentages; a straight rye whiskey only needs to contain 51% rye to meet the definition. It was very clever to marry the vibrancy of a younger whiskey with the depth of a mature whiskey. Thanks to the high rye content, this whiskey is very spicy, with cinnamon, crisp mint, and fennel. Underlying sweet notes of caramel, molasses, vanilla, macaroon, cocoa, and candied fruit provide a calming effect and enhance the whiskey's complexity. But in the end, the rye is the victor, emerging with a vengeance and giving the whisky a bold, warming, spice finish.
I like this Bowmore better than all the previous bourbon oak-aged, ultra-mature Bowmore whiskies that have been released over the past fifteen years (there have been several). The oak is always present, but not dominant. The whisky really evolves on the palate, just like the Black Bowmore releases. This emphasis here is on fruit, bright fruit: peach, tangerine, mango, ripe melon, and pineapple. There’s a soft, gentle side to the whisky, too, enhanced by sweeter notes of pancake syrup, orange creamsicle, and white chocolate. Heavy oak notes emerge, along with teasing, earthy smoke, to give the whisky depth and bottom notes. The smoke and oak linger long on the finish. Very contemplative. In short, an outstanding whisky, but not quite reaching the excellence of Black Bowmore.
(Allocation information: 732 bottles available worldwide; 40 bottles are being allocated for the U.S., half of the quantity of Black Bowmore which was released earlier this year.)
Drier than the 12 year old (reviewed below), with some darker fruit (black raspberry, blueberry) marrying with the brighter orchard fruit. Sweet up front - honey and caramel - with a peppering of spice (dried vanilla, clove, and cinnamon) increasing as the palate develops. Dry, oak spice finish. Lovely!
Finished in first-fill sherry casks for two years. My feeling on any whisky finished in a different cask is this: it should give as much to the flavor profile as it takes away. In this instance, I feel it has, and more. It’s not as nimble as younger versions, but the sherry, along with the extra aging, contributes a silky texture and a richer, fuller dimension to the whisky. I can still detect some of the peach, vanilla, tropical fruit, and honeyed malt I enjoy in younger expressions, but its key flavor components are toffee, honey-dipped citrus, red licorice, chocolate-covered almonds, and fig, along with dried spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, mint tea) that emerges on the palate and peaks on the finish. The flavors are seamless and elegantly balanced.
Duncan Taylor (distilled at Glen Grant), Cask #3480, 37 year old, 51.5%
Single Malt Scotch | $336.00
I am amazed by how many old, sherried Glen Grant whiskies have been released to the market in the past ten years. (Did the distillery owners at the time also own sherry bodegas, or what?) Anyway, some of these have been dark, decadent, and delicious, and I’ll put this whisky in that category. Chestnut colored, with lush fruit, treacle, dark chocolate, leather, tobacco, roasted walnuts, and cherry cough syrup. A complex, well-structured whisky.
Significantly darker than the rest, well-balanced, and palate-coating. Softer, not as intense or as dry as the 30 year old. Creamier too, with subtle, yet exotic notes of tropical fruit and exotic spices. There is a point at which ultra-aged spirits -- whether they are whisky, rum, tequila, or brandy -- find a common ground. What they lose in identity, they gain in intrigue and layers of subtle complexity (if properly matured). This whisky fits into that category. Contemplative and ethereal in nature.
Drier, less toffee and fruit, more dried spice and oak when compared to the standard Oban 14 year old. A beautiful combination of rich, nutty toffee balanced by polished oak, salt, pepper, seaweed, distant smoke, and dried fruit. Somewhat oily in texture. Wonderful depth, too! An improvement on what is already the biggest-selling Diageo single malt scotch in the U.S. Very exciting and dynamic. (7,700 bottles available only in the U.S. and at the Oban distillery).
The first "big" release from this Swedish distillery. I'm very impressed. It's youthful, but not immature. Very intriguing, too. Bright notes of ripe orchard fruit and soothing vanilla cream on the nose and palate, along with more subtle bramble, silky honey, and caramel, toasted coconut, marshmallow, bread dough, and grist. Teasing smoke emerges occasionally, adding to this whisky's delightful nature. Clean, toasted oak finish. I particularly enjoy the complex interplay between the fruit and sweetness. A fun whisky with a playful personality. More, please!
Fuller in body, deeper and more complex than the 12 year old (as would be expected). Sweeter fruits (honey-laced citrus, lemon gum drops, and ripe peach) and rum notes marry nicely with dried spice (cinnamon, vanilla, ginger). Calming finish. An intelligent use of sherry cask aging.
Bold and spicy, but with enough backbone to handle it. Surely the most intense of the bunch overall. (The 25 year old is dry on the palate -- especially on the finish -- but the 30 year old challenges you the throughout.) There’s plenty of oak here, imparting leather, resin, and dried spice notes (cinnamon, clove, vanilla), but it is rescued by sherried fruit, honeyed citrus, and toffee. A powerful dram.
Deep on the nose and palate, with notes of dark rum, dried fruit, roasted nuts, dark chocolate, cinnamon, polished leather, charcoal, and a suggestion of peat. Dry, resinous finish. Bonus points for intrigue.
Gordon & MacPhail ('Smith's Glenlivet') 21 year old, 43%
Single Malt Scotch | $125
Well-rounded and pleasingly sweet, with ripe red strawberries, raspberry, tropical fruit, graham cracker, white chocolate, and anise, all on a bed of toffee. Some charred oak on the finish. This whisky has a gentle, soothing persona which I think most people will enjoy (me included).
Gordon & MacPhail ('Smith's Glenlivet'), 21 year old, 43%
Single Malt Scotch | $125.00
Well-rounded and pleasingly sweet, with ripe strawberry, raspberry, tropical fruit, graham cracker, white chocolate, and anise, all on a bed of toffee. Some charred oak on the finish. This whisky has a gentle, soothing persona which I think most people will enjoy (me included).
This whisky starts with the light and very drinkable bourbon oak-aged 1993 vintage from previous years and then is finished off in a sherry cask. The sherry is fresh and vibrant, and adds lush fruit, light dates, and nutty undertone to Tullibardine’s classic vanilla, honeyed malt, and grassy notes. Delicious!
Similar in personality to its younger standard 1993 and 1992 vintages -- soft and mellow, with fresh barley, vanilla cream puff, cut grass and hay, cookie dough, and a dusting of pencil shavings. The extra aging shows on the whisky’s dried spice and polished oak finish. More sophisticated than its younger siblings, although the younger vintages are more drinkable.
Aged on the Scottish mainland for 14 years and then finished off in sherry casks on the Island of Mull. A fresh whisky with a hint of brine, along with richer nutty toffee and chocolate fudge, embedded with dried fruit. Delicate oak resin peppers the finish, balancing the whisky’s sweetness. One of the best unpeated Tobermory whiskies (i.e. non-Ledaig) whiskies I’ve tasted. The sherry enhances the whiskey without dominating.
Fruit is the common thread to this lightly peated whisky; red fruit, that is. Red raspberry, red currant, red seedless grape, strawberry, and red apple. A gentle sweetness (creamy vanilla, light molasses) balances all this fruit. Not overly contemplative, but delightful. This is definitely not the same Rocks I reviewed two years ago. It is richer, darker in color, and tastes more mature. It's an improved version, and my rating reflects this.
The 8th in a series of “Links” releases. This one’s further enhanced in Chateau Latour Bordeaux casks. Bright, fruity notes of red raspberry, rhubarb, and candy apple. Teasing fresh brine emerges occasionally, along with citrus, mango, and vanilla. A very perky whisky.
Bowmore 16 year old 1992 vintage Wine Cask-Matured, 53.5%
Single Malt Scotch | $120
Aged for six years in bourbon casks, then aged an additional ten years in Bordeaux wine casks. Classic Bowmore peat smoke and red berried fruit (raspberry, strawberry) are the main components of this whisky, with additional notes of plum, grape skin tannins, currant, caramel, and marzipan. Good grip from the Limousin oak (wine casks). Some brine and damp cellar notes emerged occasionally, with the smoke lingering long on the finish.
A marriage of Ben Nevis (85%) and Clynelish (15%). A weighty whisky. Not as nimble as the Speyside expression below, but with flavors that linger. Rummy toffee notes, roasted nuts, earthy moss, jammy fruit, teasingly subtle black strap molasses, and clove.
The most heavily peated of the three (35ppm phenol), but rather gentle for such smoke intensity. No doubt this is partly due to its sweet underbelly of vanilla cream puff, honeyed barley, and melon fruit. The other factor is that the smoke influence is not medicinal like some other Islay whiskies, but rather more of a leafy bonfire smoke, with burning embers and teasing brine on the finish. Like Waves, Peat comes across as a bit youthful.
An equal marriage of Longmorn and Glen Moray whiskies. Quite a fruity adventure, with zingy notes of bramble, strawberry, rhubarb, sultana, nectarine, and plum. All this fruit sits on a bed of creamy vanilla malt (the Longmorn influence is quite evident) that coats the palate long after the finish.
Consists of 60% Bowmore and 40% Caol Ila. Bold, youthful, and somewhat medicinal (as would be expected), with peat smoke, tar, pebbles on a beach, and boat docks. Additional flavors of smoked olives and exotic pepper add intrigue, while honeyed malt notes soothe the palate and provide balance.
This whisky is in between the "Original" Tullamore and Tullamore Dew 12 year old in age and price range, and it also fits between the two in flavor and quality. I thought that maybe this whiskey would have a more distinctive character to it (sherry cask aging, different proof, etc.) compared to the other two, given that it is a limited edition of only 900 cases and so close in age to the others, but it doesn't. It's not that this is a bad thing, but rather just 'more of the same.'
It certainly is a pleasant enough whiskey - well balanced, not aggressive, yet with enough maturity and pot still content to make it "sip worthy" if one chooses to do so. Rather than buy the standard Tullamore Dew for mixing (or drinking on the rocks) and the 12 year old for sipping, you can reasonably cover your bases with just this one bottle of 10 year old.
Rating for Original Tullamore Dew: 80 (it has gotten better over the years); rating for Tullamore Dew 12 year old: 84.
Plenty of citrus zest, along with subtle pineapple and coconut on the nose. The palate begins with honeyed-malt sweetness, followed by the citrus fruit, but then quickly turns dry and resinous, with dried nuts and spicy oak on the finish. The intensity of the dryness on the finish surprised me and detracted from an otherwise well-rounded dram.
Only moderately peated (15ppm phenol), but a consistent influence. Quite fresh: reminds me of a walk around a traditional distillery, with notes of steeping barley, kiln smoke, and youthful spirit. A subtle, intriguing thread of gin botanicals (especially citrus peel) weaves its way through the palate. Otherwise, the smoke and fruit keep your attention.
Origins is Benromach’s new program to highlight different aspects of whisky-making, which I think is a great idea. This expression focuses on the use of Golden Promise barley to make the malt, which is then aged in a sherry cask. Unfortunately, there’s so much sherry here that I struggle to appreciate the impact or distinction from the Golden Promise barley. Notes of ripe orchard fruit, tangerine, beeswax, sticky toffee pudding, and toasted almond. Lingering smoke and waxed fruit stays through to the finish. A weighty Benromach (from the Golden Promise and/or the sherry). I find the nose pleasant enough, but the sherry-induced waxed fruit component that emerges mid-palate is just too dominant.