Lost Spirits Umami

This certainly has the hallmarks of Bryan Davis’s work – funky and offbeat, its flavor pairings are just as unlikely (and just as successful) as salt with caramel and bacon with maple syrup.

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Glenmorangie Companta

Companta is a convoluted vatting of standard 9 year-old ex-bourbon Glenmorangie that is finished for 5 years in red Grand Cru Burgundy wine casks from Clos de Tart (from Pinot Noir grapes), with a similar 10 year-old Glenmorangie finished for 8 years in “a lusciously sweet fortified wine from Cotes du Rhone” called Rasteau, made from Grenache grapes. The vatting contains 60% of the first, and 40% of the second. Now that’s a whisky spec I can get behind!

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Glenmorangie Lasanta (12 year)

This is a respectable sherry-tinged malt that is very definitely worth $45 of your money. It’s regularly available, consistent in quality, and can be absentmindedly enjoyed, or analyzed in turn.

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Tamdhu (10 year)

It has a burst of orange peel, with the funky “almost off” meaty/nutty notes familiar to GlenDronach fans. … I know times have changed, still I’m never crazy to pay above $50 for a 10 year-old malt. At least this one delivers in the glass.

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Tomintoul (10 year)

his may indeed be “The Gentle Dram”, but even at 10 years of age it leaves a lot to be desired. The usual suspects for a Highland malt aged in middling ex-bourbon casks are present – the typical caramel, yeasty bread, brown sugar, and nuts – but nothing serves to elevate this dram above any other similarly-aged malt.

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Penderyn Madeira Single Malt Welsh Whisky

An excellent example of how high-quality a whisky can be made outside of the traditional whiskymaking countries. Penderyn is focused, superbly balanced, eminently flavorsome, and crystal clean.

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Glen Garioch Founder’s Reserve

This is my first Glen Garioch (usually pronounced ‘Glen Gee-ree’, which is probably not quite right). The ‘Founder’s Reserve’ is the baseline malt for this distillery, and is bottled at the unusual choice of 48% ABV, without chill-filtration, after maturation in ex-bourbon casks. There is no age statement, but it’s probably around 8 years of age.

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Bowmore 10 “Devil’s Cask”

This is totally unlike the ‘Darkest’ 15-year, and in fact tastes much older and more concentrated. Instead of the wild, fungal brashness of Darkest, the flavors here are muted but sinewy, slow-moving but powerful.

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Bowmore 15 “Darkest”

When you think about sherry and peat, you generally think about Highland Park, with its light tickle of citrusy Orkney peat and gently sweet, fruity sherry. This is the opposite of both of those aspects. The sherry is resinous and funky, the peat muddy and vegetative.

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Top 10 Whisky Gifts for 2013

Whisky enthusiasts are easy to buy for. Most of us are happy to try a new and unfamiliar scotch, and will be enthused to drain the bottle even if it doesn’t become a new favorite. Here are my top 10 suggestions for giving whisky gifts in 2013.

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