I’m published! That’s right, yours truly, the Scotch Noob, enjoys page 14 billing in the Fall 2011 issue of The Whisky Advocate! I figured I’d take this opportunity to expound upon the views that landed me in this month’s issue.
Finlaggan is a conundrum. Bottles from the Finlaggan brand contain a single malt from an Islay distillery. The company keeps a very tight lid on the identity of its source, breaking silence only to insist that Finlaggan does now, always has, and always will contain whisky from the same distillery.
The peat flavors that made Islay famous for their intensity here instead get equal billing with sturdy oak and lusciously sweet malt. I could wish a little less bitterness on the tail end, but this is totally Talisker, and substantially more smooth and finessed than the 10 year-old.
A very conservative take on a port finish. The port is very much in the background, letting the clean bourbon flavors take center stage. This one is a pleasant, easy-to-drink experience, and the price is quite reasonable.
The Distiller’s Edition is a yearly release of the usual 14-year Oban which is further matured for 6-18 months in a Montilla Fino sherry butt (which is always a first-fill cask – in other words has only held sherry before). I tasted some of the 2010 bottling, which was distilled in 1995.
This is easily as smooth and refined as the Macallan 18, but the dryness and gentle, straightforward flavors make it unchallenging.
An interesting take on the Ardbeg profile, with a lot more sweet woodiness and big roasted barrel flavors. The final product is not nuanced or impressive enough for me to recommend paying the above-average price. Although this is quite good whisky, and innovation in Scotch is always to be applauded, it just didn’t move me to buy a bottle.
A nice, round whisky with an interesting twist. The rum doesn’t come through as “rummy”, but more vegetal and malty. In fact, the expected molasses note doesn’t appear until the tail-end of the finish. That said, it’s a nice, easy-drinking Balvenie with clear malt character.
A fictional description of my ideal bar: a place to drink good spirits and eat quality food in an environment that enables the enjoyment of both. Unfortunately, this is (to my knowledge) a fantasy.