Bruichladdich 1991 Port Cask Finish Aged 16 Years (Islay, Scotland)

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Bruichladdich 1991 Port Cask Finish Aged 16 Years, 46% ABV -700ml, (Islay, Scotland)

  • My Rating: C+

On the back label:

“Pronounced ‘brook-laddie'(meaning shore bank) this is Islay’s only privately owned distillery (now owned by Rémy Cointreau), and one of only a heroic handful in Scotland, run with passion by genuine whisky artisans with many generations of expertise.”

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Some things I learned about the Bruichladdich distillery:

  • established in 1881, now with Jim McEwan as the Master Distiller
  • their lineup includes unpeated, lightly peated, heavily peated = 40 ppm (designated as Port Charlotte), and super-duper heavily peated = 140+ ppm (aka Octomore)
  • known for their innovative and creative release including experimenting with different casks, peat levels, and special event releases.
  • Visit the distillery for exclusive “Valinch” bottlings, where you bottle them yourself straight from the cask!

  • Style: (Lightly Peated) Islay
  • Taste Profile: Dry dark fruit caramel vanilla oak
  • Where I got it: Grapes & Grains Liquor Depot (W.Edmonton)
  • How much: $87 (after 5% off), March 2011
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would non-scotch drinkers like this: doubtful

Tasting notes: Pours untanned leather light brown, clear with very micro sediment in the bottom of the bottle. Quality cork stopper that didn’t disintegrate after the 8 years of initial bottling. The nosing brings forth aromas of nutty caramel, vanilla, and nasal tingling alcohol detection. Some initial alcohol warmth, followed by red wine/cherry, caramel malt sweetness, honey, vanilla, oak, transitioning to the finish which includes tongue and throat numbness, cinnamon, treacle, finish. Overall decent, somewhat dry which didn’t particularly tickle my fancy.

BenRiach Single Malt 20YO (Scotland)

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Curiositas 20 Years Old Single Malt – The BenRiach, 43% ABV -70cl, (Morayshire, Scotland)

  • My Rating: B-

On the back label:

“BenRiach, located in the Heartland of Malt Whisky, displays all the traditional charm of a Speyside distillery. Established in 1898 and built by John Duff, it is one of the few distilleries with its own on-site floor maltings.

The distillery draws its water from the Burnside Springs and uses a lightly peated malted barley varietal as the cereal source of this distinctive and intriguing Speyside malt.

This smooth single malt has an elegant full taste and aroma that captures fruity, floral, spicy notes, with fascinating overtones of honey, vanilla, apples, chocolate and nuts.”

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This particular whisky has won:

  • Gold Medal 2005 – International Spirits Challenge
  • Silver Medal 2006 – International Wine & Spirit Competition
  • Silver Medal 2007 – International Wine & Spirits Competition
  • Gold Medal 2011 – International Wine & Spirits Competition
  • Style: Classic Speyside
  • Taste Profile: caramel -> vanilla/honey/chocolate -> oak/llight peat/more caramel
  • Where I got it: somewhere in Edmonton
  • How much: ~$80, sometime in 2011
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would non-scotch drinkers like this: no

Tasting notes: Pours light orange, kind of lacking in colour for a whisky that has been casked for 20 years. Vanilla and caramel, just a touch of peat on the nose. Slighty thicker than water viscosity, a bit salty at the start, lots of apple-caramel sweetness, vanilla, nutmeg, honeycomb, chocolate, finishing with oak and a small amount of peat. Medium-high tongue numbness and roof and back mouth numbness, soft throat burn, good sippability. Agreeable flavours, though I think I prefer the Macallan 18YO over this one.

Glenfarclas 40 YO (Scotland)

Glenfarclas 40 Year Old, 46% ABV – 700ml, (Ballindollach, Scotland)

Background: Glenfarclas (valley of the green grass) was established in 1836 has been owned by the Grant family for over 5 generations. The 40 year old won the “Scotch Whisky Single Malt of the Year” award in the 2011 17th Annual Malt Whisky Awards competition.

  • Style: Scotch
  • My Rating: A-
  • Taste Profile: Sherry/Caramel/Maple -> Alcohol/Warmth/Licorice -> Peppery/Dry finish
  • Where I got it: Chateau Louis (Edm)
  • How much: ~$500, Summer 2010
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would I recommend this to scotch aficionados: yes

Tasting notes: pours incredibly rich dark caramel brown. Massive maple syrup sweetness and vanilla on the nose. Drinks with sharp 8/10-sweetness of sherry, caramel, maple syrup, vanilla, transitioning into alcohol, intense warmth, oak, rum, licorice/mint, with a peppery, lingering dry finish.

BenRiach Curiositas 10YO (Scotland)

Curiositas 10 Years Peated Malt – The BenRiach, 46.0% ABV -70cl, (Morayshire, Scotland)

On the back label:

“Curiositas uses a heavily peated malted barley as the cereal varietal to produce a unique, fresh, peated expression. This rare peated single malt, from the Heartland of Speyside, has wonderful overtones of peat reek, combined cleverly with a background of fruity, floral, heathery notes and an appealing presence of oak wood in the finish. Traditionalists believe that peated malts achieve optimum balance of peat-bittersweet and oak infusion after 10 years of maturation. In fact peated BenRiach is a return to the original Speyside character and flavour of malts typical of the nineteenth century. Curiositas is a distinctive and welcome addition to the Speyside scene – this is a dram to be savoured with a dash of water.”

  • Style: Speyside peated scotch
  • My Rating: C-
  • Taste Profile: peat rush -> caramel/chocolate -> warmth/peat finish
  • Where I got it: BC Liquor Stores
  • How much: $65, Fall 2010
  • Do I love this enough to drink it again: no
  • Would non-scotch drinkers like this: no

Tasting notes: pours medium orange with some suspended sediment. Lots of peat mixed with alcohol burn on the nose. Starts off with a thickish visosity, low-medium sweetness, transitions into tastes of smoky peat, caramel, nutty chocolate, (dark) fruit, finishing with more smoke, medium warmth, high alcohol detection. Goes with Haagen-Dazs ice cream bars. The peat tires out my palate fast.

Glenfiddich 21YO (Scotland)

Glenfiddich 21 years old (NV), 40% ABV, (since 1887 – Dufftown, Banffshire, Scotland)

On the back label:

“This Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky has been finished in Caribbean rum casks to take on a rich toffee sweetness with notes of vanilla and hints of new leather. Casks are sampled routinely by the Malt Master and hand selected only once he is convinced the whisky has acquired a luxurious vibrancy, whilst retaining the unmistakeable character of Glenfiddich Single Malt. Genfiddich 21 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky has been awarded a gold medal by the prestigious International Wine and Spirit Competition.”

Essentially the same process as the Macallan 18 year old but:

  • Natural spring water from their Robbie Dhu springs
  • Use of casks (sherry, bourbon) that have only been used once (mellowed)
  • ~2% of alcohol is lost due to evaporation into the air through the porous barrels (aka “the Angels’ share”)
  • the only distillery to use wooden oak marrying tuns (2000L=30 casks) for up to 9 months of marrying
  • “Glenfiddich is the only Highland single malt distilled, matured and even bottled at its own distillery, using a single source of spring water throughout the process.” -from their website

Other notes:

  • Where I got it: Sobey’s @ Anthony Henday near 111
  • How much: ~$120 (after 10%), $7 per shot
  • Drinkability: Medium

Tasting Notes (Nov 14/2011)

Another bottle that I barely have any left, might as well finish it off and write up some notes. Definitely more alcohol forward on the nose which I’m thinking is due to the influence of the rum cask. Hints of toffee and vanilla quaffed as well. Tingling anise hits the tip your tongue first, and then the vanillla and molasses from the Caribbean rum casks. Notes of banana, chocolate, and only a med-mild warmth mainly in the nasal cavity for a finish. Lots of tingling and numbness in the mouth and throat. A rather muted oaky exhale. I prefer the fruitier sherry finished Macallan 18 year, but this is an interesting novel experience as well to highlight the difference between a rum cask and sherry cask finish.

Rating as something I would often drink: C+

Rating as a scotch: B

The Macallan 18 years old (1989), 43% ABV, (Est. 1824 Easter Elchies, Craigellachie, Scotland)

This is Macallan’s mid-tier sherry oaked scotch, and the process:

  1. 100% barley, a proportion of which is the estate grown Minstrel barley or obtained from the 27 contractors.
  2. Water from underneath the estate close to confluence of the river Spey and Ringorm Burn
  3. Malting (Steeping 48h, Germination 5d, Kilning)
  4. Milling of the grist into: 70% grits, 20% husk, 10% flour)
  5. Mashing in 3 stages adding hot water of varying temperatures to activate enzymes to convert the starch into fermentable sugars.
  6. Fermentation by adding cultured cream yeast (MSI), 48-56h. Rate of adding yeast, rate of fermentation, and temperature of the wort all affect the final flavour.
  7. 2x Distillation in copper stills to 72% ABV (copper = wear-resistant, malleable, excellent conductor of heat, catalyst for sweet ester formation and minimizing impurities (ie. sulfur compounds))
  8. Matured in sherry oak casks from Jerez, Spain + warehousing to impart flavour and colour (Colour = species of oak (Spanish Oak – open grain = dark, American Oak – tighter grain = light), the seasoning, level of toasting)
  9. Vatting – sampling of 200 different casks, selecting some 50 casks, and finally mixing them together and resting to allow for a Marriage of flavours.
  10. Bottling and dilution with estate spring water

Other notes:

  • Where I got it: Sobey’s @ Anthony Henday near 111
  • How much: ~$170 (after 10%), $10 per shot
  • Drinkability: Easy-Medium

Tasting Notes (Nov 12/2011)

Down to the last remaining 1.5oz and the bits of cork and lustrous golden hue has my attention. On the nose are bold notes of toasted caramel, fig, and sweet honey all mixed with the scary alcohol nasal-burn. Tastes of chocolate orange (as advertised), oaky dried fruit caramel, anise (tingling from the alcohol). Alcohol warmth first goes softly to the nose, and then back down to cover the back of the mouth and finally down the throat. Lots of BBQ smoke on the exhale.

Rating as something I would often drink: B-

Rating as a scotch: A-