Johnnie Walker Rye Cask Finish (10 year)

The first in the new Select Casks line, Rye Cask Finish is a blended scotch with a heart of Cardhu single malt, aged in first-fill American oak casks for at least 10 years, and then finished in ex-rye whiskey casks. The result is bottled at 46% ABV. Striking a triumphant balance between massive-scale industrial whisky and small-scale craft mentality, Rye Cask Finish is available for only $45 retail.

Monkey Shoulder

This is the kind of dram that you show to your friends who think “whisky” means something you add to Coke. Then you tell them it’s only $30. A gentle introduction to the world of malted whisky, with a very welcoming profile and a gentle effect on the palate, all with a nice array of grains and sweets that showcase what good middle-of-the-road ex-bourbon Scotch malt whisky is like.

Suntory Toki Japanese Whisky

Japanese whisky, to me, is all about art and subtlety. It’s aromatic, floral, subtle, and complex. … Japanese drinks giant Suntory has blended “selected” barrels from Hakushu and Yamazaki distilleries (both malts), and Chita distillery (heavy-type grain whisky). Unlike previous Suntory blends, this one relies on Hakushu as primary malt, not Yamazaki.

West Cork Original Classic Blend

The West Cork Distillery is a new (opened in 2003 as an experimental “pet project” and then expanded to its current location in 2013) and actually independent Irish distiller, unlike the previous poster-child for Irish (whiskey) independence, Cooley, which sold to Beam Suntory in 2011. Among other things, West Cork bottles this blend and a 10 year-old Irish Single Malt.

Forty Creek Barrel Select

The entry-level product from the upstart Canadian distillery, Forty Creek. As it’s positioned as a direct competitor to the entry-level Crown Royal, the flavor profile makes sense. It definitely tastes like a “higher end” Crown for not much more money. It’s also cheap enough to mix with. Forty Creek ages their copper pot-still components (rye, corn, and barley) in separate barrels and then carefully blends them together for the final product, an unusual approach.

Transparency in Scotch: Crusade or Marketing Ploy?

After the debacle with the SWA censuring Compass Box’s recent Flaming Heart (5th Edition) and This is Not a Luxury Whisky releases for, literally, revealing too much information about the recipe used in the bottle, Compass Box has come back fighting with a Campaign for Scotch Whisky Transparency. Is this just a publicity and/or marketing stunt by Compass Box to drum up more controversy and thus more exposure, or a righteous crusade for more truth and transparency in whisky marketing? Let’s break it down.