Trader Joe’s Highlands Single Malt 12 year (2003 – 2015)

At any rate, this is an ex-bourbon single malt from the Deanston distillery. (The bottle says “Matured in Oak Casks”. Duh.) It was distilled in 2003 and bottled in 2015 at 40% ABV after 12 years of aging. Deanston’s official releases are bottled without chill-filtration, but there’s no telling what Alexander Murray chose to do when bottling this. I found it at Trader Joe’s in California for $30.

Trader Joe’s Speyside Single Malt 13 year (2002 – 2015)

Bland, and somewhat bitter. Not a successful malt. This should probably not have been saved from the mountain of “blending fodder” barrels for which it was no doubt originally destined. There are no redeeming florals, fruits, or even cloying sweets. Instead, it mostly just tastes like insipid wood and alcohol. If you’re standing in a Trader Joe’s right now, trying to make a decision, I’ll make it for you: Get the 12 year-old Highland (psst! It’s from Deanston) instead.

Book Review: The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Whiskey Know-it-All

If you’re intimidated by the world of whisky appreciation and want a whimsical crash-course, or if you’re trying to think of a fun gift (Last-minute Christmas gift? Yes!) for a whisky lover who doesn’t take it all too seriously, this is an excellent purchase. If you think this will teach you about whisky via scent, you may be disappointed.

The Macallan Gold (1824 Series)

Okay so this is very pleasant single malt whisky. It is light and airy, vibrant and youthful (in a good way), and with an array of flowers and fruits that scream “Springtime!” while never becoming cloying, bitter, or overbearing. That said, this is no sherry-bomb. There are no dense red fruits, figs, currants, resin, or anything else commonly associated with the older sherried malts.

Sons of Liberty: Hop Flavored Whiskey (Seasonal)

Sons of Liberty set out to create a whiskey that evoked refreshing summertime IPA beer by actually distilling an IPA beer wash, suspending hops in a gin basket during pot-still distillation, and then dry-hopping the finished (aged) whiskey! No sugar syrup, no weird chemicals, just artisanal ingredients treated with respect and using traditional brewing and distilling methods creatively to craft something innovative.