Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Tennessee Whiskey

Overall not as harsh and young-tasting as the principal Jack Daniel’s bottling. Whatever happens to those barrels up in the upper floors of the warehouse, it makes for a better product in the bottle. However, in my totally biased opinion, this is not $45 worth of whiskey. It also doesn’t change my mind about American whiskey. Oh well.

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Laphroaig Quarter-Cask

Right away there is big peat, in that briny, smoked-fish style. Smokehouse fumes, sugarcane, vanilla extract, and a pervading young woodiness – freshly-hewn green wood, dripping sap.

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Why Should I Care About Blends?

I keep hearing two phrases around the whisky and whiskey community these days. One is “Blends can be excellent!” (Of course, one can also say “Fast Food can be excellent!” but it rarely is. That aside…) The other is “90-95% of the whisky sold internationally is in blends.”…

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Ardbeg Corryvreckan

Sour fruit, pineapple! Surprising burst of fruity upfront, like Juicy Fruit gum. Resolves into delicious well-rounded smoke without too much tar or woodiness. Those sour fruit elements continue right into the finish, resonating with blood orange, lime, maybe some fresh juicy berries. Mild sweetness, and always an overtone of bright, citrusy peat. At $80-$90 a bottle, this is a little out of my usual price range, but I will definitely be picking up a bottle of this for a special occasion!

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Redbreast (12 year) Irish Whiskey

Redbreast 12 is a must-try for that unique toothy quality. It’s a must-have because this level of quality just isn’t available at this price in competing single malts. Don’t bother with the water – you’ll only mess with the mouthfeel. Enjoy it as-is.

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The Famous Grouse

Good, but a little bland. No peat and no fruit, but also smooth and malty with a nice toothiness. A drink-it-and-forget-it malt, but certainly better than the bottom-shelf blends of lower cost. Does not compare favorably with the cheaper highland malts.

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Water, Ice, or Neat?

My best advice is to experiment: try different glasses, different amounts of water, taste and smell before and after the addition of water. Figure out what method best allows YOU to enjoy your whisky. Whether it’s a cut-crystal Glencairn glass and a carefully-arranged ritual, or a brown paper bag and a bunch of friends, drinking whisky should be about fun and enjoyment. Do whatever maximizes both.

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Glenfiddich (12 year)

Dry, crisp, and earthy without any smoke. For a bottle in the $25 range, it’s unfortunately only a step above the cheapest blends, with perhaps a bit more drink-ability than standards like Johnnie Walker or Chivas Regal. It is best suited as a stepping-stone to better malts, as The Glenlivet 12 is slightly cheaper, and has more complexity.

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Aberlour a’bunadh (Batch 30)

Heady aroma. Blackberry syrup. Definite sherry character, with overtones of antique wood, sap, stewed dark fruits, maple sugar candies, and a hint of candied orange peel or orange liqueur.

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