Glen Grant (12 year)

Glen Grant is one of those sleepy distilleries known for producing bulk malt for blends (Chivas, in this case) which has lately been dressed up in new packaging (in 2016) and pressed into service as a standalone single malt by its owners, the Campari Group. … This 12 year is aged in ex-bourbon for 12 years and bottled at 43% ABV, after being chill filtered. While Glen Grant does use sherry casks in some of its expressions, I can’t find anything online that indicates…

WhistlePig Straight Rye (10 year)

This whiskey screams “rye spices” more than basically any other rye I’ve had. The requisite cinnamon, clove, and anise are robust and persist throughout the experience. This is doubly interesting because although Canadian whisky is often referred to as “rye” and usually contains the grain, it rarely shows this intensity of spice notes. Never in a million years would I guess that this was…

The Glenlivet Caribbean Reserve

There’s not a lot of background here: We’re talking about non-age-stated Glenlivet finished in Caribbean rum casks. First off, I think the lack of an age statement here is a little silly. They could dump 12 year-old in for pennies more than whatever younger stuff they’re using, as they proved by releasing a 14 year-old extra-matured single malt for $40 a few years ago, and the fact that Glenlivet 12 year can still be found for under…

Kentucky Vintage Bourbon

This is “small batch” Kentucky straight bourbon made in Bardstown, Kentucky by Willett (DSP-KY-78). It’s bottled at 45% ABV. The label manages to use a lot of words to say basically nothing about the whiskey or how it was made, so that’s par for the course. It’s not clear whether this is sourced bourbon or if Willett is distilling it, but my guess is…

X by Glenmorangie

“X by Glenmorangie” is a made-for-mixing single malt. Dr. Bill Lumsden wanted to create a low-cost malt that could challenge ubiquitous blended scotch in the mixing arena. He approached the problem by vatting standard ex-bourbon Glenmorangie malt with some that was finished in new charred virgin oak casks. This resulted in a sweeter and richer…

Smooth Ambler Big Level Wheated Bourbon

Apparently running with the “awkward naming convention” thing, “Big Level” is named after West Virginia’s local mountainous terrain. The bourbon is made from a mashbill of 71% corn, 21% wheat, and 8% malted barley, making it a wheated bourbon in the style of Maker’s Mark, Weller, or yes, Pappy Van Winkle. The process water is local West Virginian Appalachian spring water, and some of the grain comes from both local West Virginian farms that produce non-GMO grain. The rest of the grain…

Johnnie Walker Song of Ice

Song of Ice is a slight tweak to the generic Johnnie Walker formula. I imagine the gimmick was to sell a bottle with a label that changes color in the freezer while simultaneously playing off of the success of HBO’s Game of Thrones series. I doubt the flavor of the whisky had much to do with it. Rumor suggests this version has a little less peated scotch and a little more Clynelish. For an excellent rundown on the contents of various Johnnie blends, see…

Johnnie Walker White Walker

Like Song of Ice, White Walker is a slight tweak to the generic Johnnie Walker formula. I imagine the gimmick was to sell a bottle with a label that changes color in the freezer while simultaneously playing off of the success of HBO’s Game of Thrones series. I doubt the flavor of the whisky had much to do with it. Rumor suggests this version has…

Boutique-y Whisky: Macduff (10 year)

One always approaches the tasting of a new or unfamiliar distillery as a potential for opening new, exciting doors of previously undreamt flavor… and while sometimes that’s true, I’ve found that more often you realize that the “unknown” distilleries are largely unknown for a reason. They exist to provide malt for blended whiskies because they blend well. They blend well because…