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.
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.
The 15 is interesting. It’s widely-distributed, very cost-effective for a 15 year-old malt, and has something that no other (or almost no other) scotch on the market has: malt from a modified sherry-style Solera system. It’s miles ahead in quality from Glenfiddich 12 (which is just passably drinkable), but still usually under $50
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.
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.
This is a blend of some seriously old scotch, (and I love me some old scotch), with a price tag to match ($250 or so. Eek!). The specs are spot-on. Compass Box was kind enough to tell us EXACTLY what’s in this whisky….
Flaming Heart Fifth Edition is a Blended Malt Scotch Whisky (meaning it consists of malt from different distilleries, but no grain whisky)…. The goal of Flaming Heart has always been to showcase Compass Box’s hybrid barrels with new French oak heads in balance with quality Islay peated malts. This 15th anniversary edition kicks up that formula with some older Caol Ila.
I got a batch of samples from Exclusive Malts’ new 2015 releases… These bottlings tend to go quickly and aren’t widely distributed to begin with, so if you’re interested in any of these… well, it may already be too late. Oops.
…at Trader Joe’s I saw this bottle of undisclosed-distillery 10 year-old from somewhere the Highlands (which describes, like, most of them) which has been “matured in oak casks” like… all of them… It’s 10 years old, 40% ABV, and costs $20. That’s pretty much all anybody knows about it.
The maker of Beyond Barrels Aging Masts contacted me with an interesting twist on the sticks-in-bottles concept: Minimize the amount of end grain while maintaining a liquid-to-wood-surface-area ratio identical to that of a 53-gallon oak barrel, heat-treat the wood without charring it (charred wood makes spirits taste like char), and then focus on adding interesting flavors through the use of French Oak, Cherry, and even Peach wood.