Ardbeg An Oa

A no-age-statement (shock! awe!) vatting of various casks of Ardbeg including new (virgin) charred oak, Pedro Ximénez (PX) sherry, and first-fill bourbon. These are all dumped into a French oak “Gathering Vat” in the new “Gathering Room” at Ardbeg. Note that most other distilleries call this a “marrying vat” or “marrying tun”, but we’ll let them have their cutsey name. The result is bottled at the randomly-chosen 46.6% ABV without chill filtration.

Writers’ Tears Cask Strength (2014 Release) Irish Whiskey

I felt about the standard bottling that it could do with less watering-down, and along comes a Cask Strength sample for me to verify that assumption! Walsh releases a yearly bottling of the Writers’ Tears Cash Strength (around 2000 bottles a year) with a different label and packaging, and it does not appear to ever make it to the US market. The whiskey is aged in first-fill American oak and bottled without chill filtration. The 2014 edition is a respectable (but not extreme) 53% ABV.

Aberlour a’bunadh (Batch 57)

This bottle of Batch 57 caught my eye during my last trip to my favorite liquor store, and reminded me that I haven’t reviewed a batch of a’bunadh in awhile. Checking past posts I see that I’ve missed 15 (!) prior batches, as my last review was Batch 41. At a resounding 60.7% ABV, this is also the strongest a’bunadh I’ve tried. As always, this is aged exclusively in Spanish oloroso sherry casks, and bottled at cask strength with no chill filtration.

Rebel Yell Small Batch Reserve Bourbon

Distilled by “Rebel Yell Distillery, Louisville, KY” (The Internet Which Knowest All Things says this is probably Heaven Hill), the bottle contains Kentucky Straight Bourbon bottled in “small batches” from a wheat-flavored mash bill (like Luxco compatriot David Nicholson 1843) at 45.3% ABV. Long a resident of the bottom shelf club, Rebel Yell is a favorite of everyone from the college-guy-sent-to-the-liquor-store-with-a-fistful-of-fives-to-get-booze to the hobo-on-the-corner-with-enough-class-to-not-be-drinking-vodka.

Strathisla (12 year)

Strathisla (pronounced “strath-aye-la”) will go out of its way to remind you that it is the oldest continuously operating distillery in Scotland. Most of the output of the four small stills goes straight into Chivas Regal blends, and only a little of it sees distribution as a single malt. In fact, Chivas refers to Strathisla as the “heart” or “core” malt of its blends. … the 12-year is aged in an undisclosed combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, reportedly with a higher percentage of sherry.

David Nicholson 1843 Bourbon

The David Nicholson brand was previously distilled at Stitzel-Weller (don’t get excited, it hasn’t contained SW juice for decades) and the 1843 bottling – named after the year grocer David Nicholson began selling his own blend of bourbon at his store in St. Louis – in the Stitzel-Weller tradition. Bottled without an age statement at 100 proof (50% ABV), the 1843 is a Kentucky straight bourbon bottled by Luxco in St. Louis, MO.

Glenfiddich (14 year) Rich Oak

The 14-year Rich Oak uses an experimental finishing technique that appears to have been deemed enough of a success to launch it in 2010, although it still has not ventured Stateside. … Standard ex-bourbon aged Glenfiddich is re-casked after 14 years into a mixture of new Spanish oak and new American oak, for a brief finishing period of “up to” 12 weeks. This is apparently the first time any single-malt scotch has been finished in new Spanish oak.