Knob Creek Small Batch Bourbon (9 year)

Knob Creek, a Beam brand, was created by bourbon legend and Beam master distiller Booker Noe in 1992. It’s aged longer than most bourbons (9 years), and bottled at a respectable 100 proof. It’s part of Beam’s “Small Batch” collection.

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Laphroaig Triple Wood

So what do you do when you want to beat a competitor’s vast success with Double Wood? Simple. Triple Wood! (Although Auchentoshan beat them to it). In this case, a reasonable vatting of standard ex-bourbon Laphroaig, Laphroaig Quarter-Cask (does that really count as a separate ‘wood’?), and ex- oloroso sherry casks.

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Exclusive Malts: Laphroaig (8 year) 2005-2013

I received a sample of the Exclusive Malts single-cask bottling of Laphroaig, distilled 2005/bottled 2013, by the distributor ImpEx Beverages (Thanks Katia!). It’s a single-cask Laphroaig bottled at 55.9% ABV. As usual with single-casks from independents, I’m looking for two very specific things…

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Laphroaig (10 year) Cask Strength

This is the full cask strength version of Laphroaig’s flagship 10-year. At 57.8% ABV and not chill-filtered, this is essentially the standard 10-year minus water, and without the chill-filtration. That means there’s nothing between you and the raw fury of Laphroaig peat. Beware!

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Kirkland Small Batch Bourbon – 7 year

I plopped down my $20 for a liter of “Premium Small Batch” Kentucky Straight Bourbon at 7 years of age and an impressive 103 proof, from batch B-5183, if it matters. The label indicated that it was made in Clermont, which leaves no doubt as to its distiller – the Beam Corporation’s Jim Beam Clermont Distillery.

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Tomatin (12 year)

Underwhelming. There are some nice “sherried malt” effects, but nothing stands out as worthy of attention. Forgettable. Of course, it’s wisely marketed at the bargain basement price of $23 to $26, which is perfectly in line with its quality.

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Talisker 57° North

Well, that’s Talisker all right. A big, brutish dram with most of the complexity on the nose. It definitely delivers everything you’d expect from nearly-cask-strength Talisker. If you’re already a Talisker fan, then you’re ready to try this.

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Hankey Bannister Original Blended Scotch

There’s something I like about a little miniature bottle of a cheap blended scotch. It has so much promise. Might this be the next old-school gem from the days when blended scotch was what everyone drank? And then I open it and I find more or less the same thing. Too much grain. too little flavor. Sigh.

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Isle of Jura (16 year)

An eminently likable malt. Flawless in execution, sweet and mild on the tongue, with a moderately perfumed aroma. This would be excellent with a mild cigar. Jura has a lot of ardent admirers, and I can see why. It is not intense nor challenging, but it is complex enough to reward contemplation.

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Longmorn (16 year)

Longmorn has long been a sought-after component for blending. Robust and flavorful even without heavy cask treatment, it adds depth and sweetness to a blend. After several changes of hands, Longmorn is now owned by drinks giant Pernod Ricard.

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