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…

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…

GlenDronach Port Wood

The port wine in question is a finish, but unusually the whisky is first aged in GlenDronach’s typical combination of Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez (PX) sherry casks. That makes this bottling kind of a “Double Fruit”, if you will. The whisky is bottled at 46% ABV, without chill filtration or added color, which is standard practice for GlenDronach, and always a laudable choice.

BenRiach Heart of Speyside

Why anyone bottles any single malts at 40% ABV anymore is beyond me. This would probably be a rich, inviting example of classic Speyside single malt at 46% ABV, but instead it’s thin and watery. The thinness allows bitter elements to show through instead of being the foil to sweetness that they are in more robust malts. In essence, by taking out the things that make a single malt expensive (time in oak and high proof), they’ve taken out the things necessary to…

Oban Bay Reserve – Game of Thrones “The Night’s Watch”

I’ve always been a big fan of Oban. It’s one of the few distilleries that come to mind when I want something essentially “Highland” and with such a consistent house character that you know every bottle is going to contain that same predominant biscuity honey quality. Prices have crept up over the years, as they have with everything with the word “whisky” on the label, but I still think of Oban as my go-to Highland malt….

Westward American Single Malt

Not to be confused with Seattle producer Westland (which also makes amazing American single malt whiskey in the US Pacific Northwest), Westward is a Portland, Oregon based distillery founded in 2004 by Christian Krogstad, who has a brewing and winemaking background. Westward uses a two custom-designed copper pot stills to distill an ale-style wash…

Lagavulin (9 year) – Game of Thrones “House Lannister”

This bottling is simply a 9 year-old expression of Lagavulin, which sounds young until you remember that peated single malt is usually quite good at younger ages, and between Octomore, Talisker 8 year, and… well… Lagavulin 8 year, no longer seems weird. The “House Lannister” bottling comes from only first-fill ex-bourbon casks (no sherry) and clocks in at 46% ABV.

Boutique-y Whisky: Tomatin (11 year) Batch 4

Oh, I’ve had Tomatin before. It’s bland, sweet, banana-y. I’m sure this will be just another ho-hum sample that gets suck in the back of my “tastings notes” folder and never sees the light of day. I’ve even tasted the 12-year. How much different can a batch of 11-year from That Boutique-y Whisky Company (TBWC) be? It’s not even sherried. At least, I don’t think it’s sherried…

Johnnie Walker Island Green

Johnnie Walker Island Green – which should not be confused with Johnnie Walker Green Label – is a travel-retail variant of the Johnnie Walker Green Label bottling. The “Island” here refers to the Scottish isle of Islay, not some tropical island. Islay is essentially the opposite of tropical. Like the Green Label, this “Green” includes only…