It seems that just about every distillery is frantically blending and selecting barrels for one-offs, while their interns are leafing through Gaelic almanacs in the local archive, looking for thus-far unused local landmark names. … Even if you find consistent reviews online, tasting is very subjective [and] “Worth my money” is an impossible metric to crowdsource.
This is a a proprietary blended scotch, exclusive to Bern’s Steak House in Tampa, FL, which was blended for them by Compass Box. Similar to Compass Box’s Hedonism, this is a blend of old (very old) grain whiskies: 5 casks of 40 year-old Strathclyde and Girvan were used.
After the debacle with the SWA censuring Compass Box’s recent Flaming Heart (5th Edition) and This is Not a Luxury Whisky releases for, literally, revealing too much information about the recipe used in the bottle, Compass Box has come back fighting with a Campaign for Scotch Whisky Transparency. Is this just a publicity and/or marketing stunt by Compass Box to drum up more controversy and thus more exposure, or a righteous crusade for more truth and transparency in whisky marketing? Let’s break it down.
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.
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.
While it pales in a side-to-side comparison with classical sherry-aged Mortlach like the G&M 15 year, this Murray bottling stands on its own with a very pleasing combination of roasted/toasted/meaty flavors and without cloying sweetness on the palate.
A stately, refined example of sherried Mortlach. Something about this distillery speaks of the Scotland of yore. Having never experienced the Scotland of yore, I can only assume it’s the combination of excellent sherry casks with the meaty, oily, rough-around-the-edges malt of Mortlach that gives me the impression.
Here’s a weirdo. Dalmore, in my mind, means two things: Heavy sherry, and orange peel notes. This independently-bottled Dalmore from The Exclusive Malts was distilled in 2000 as cask #6952 and bottled in 2013 at 53.5% ABV. And it’s peated. What?!
This is possibly an experimental cask that didn’t make it into one of the Glenmorangie special editions, and was sold on the independent market. It reminds me somewhat of Artein, but only as a single component.